Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Straight From the Theater Review - Early Man

Greetings Pups,

I've mentioned this quite a few times recently, but I'll say it again. I am not thrilled with Hollywood at the moment. Gee, I wonder why. And this is all very sad, because I do, indeed, love the cinema and I enjoy a trip to the theater on occasion. On rare occasion, as of late, but still. So, I must go elsewhere to find some entertainment. Enter Aardman Animations, which is happily based in the U.K. Alright, I may also have some issues with the U.K. at the moment as well, but not where their artistic endeavors are concerned. Also, I love this studio. They gave us Wallace and Gromit, for crying out loud. And now they have given us Early Man. Here's a quick and spoiler free synopsis.

So, the story takes place during the Stone Age in a valley where a bunch of lovable cave people live and hunt rabbits. This is where we meet our protagonist Dug, his pet wild boar, Hognob and the leader, Chief Bobnar. One night, however, their lives are disrupted when Lord Nooth, from Bronze Age City, invades the valley to take over and mine for more bronze, driving the cave people out. After some shenanigans, Dug decides to challenge them to a football game (soccer to you Americans!) to gain back control of the valley. Because that's just what they did back in the prehistoric times. And that's pretty much it.

Okay, look, here's the thing. I've always thought that, with Aardman, the plot isn't that important. Well, it is, but it isn't. I'll say that the plots are rarely complicated. It tends to be more about the great characters they've created as well as really funny and clever jokes throughout. The plot is just kind of a thread to hold those things together and give them a reason to exist. And that's fine with me, because they are so good with the characters and the jokes that I don't mind that the plot was basically that of a 80's and/or 90's sports movie. Ya know, those ones that you can get four to a disc at Wal Mart for like $7. 50. But again, don't care when everything else is so great. Oh, and speaking of the characters, let's talk about the people whose voices brought them to life.

The casting in this is fantastic, as per usual, and what I like best is that pretty much all of the well-known actors altered their voices. That's a good thing, because hearing the familiar voice of a celebrity you know can be distracting in something like this. But by changing it up, they managed to create something that fit the characters they played. Dug was portrayed by Eddie Redmayne, and he sounded about ten years younger and ten years higher pitched. Maisie Williams provided the voice of Goona (my future child's name!), a young and awesome lady that Dug befriends during his journey. The chief was voiced by Timothy Spall, perfectly, I might add. And even the director, Nick Park, got into the action by voicing Hognob. And, then, we have Lord Nooth, voiced by Tom Hiddleston. I have some things to say about this, twofold. First, as much as I love this studio, I will admit that this particular cast member may have had something to do with my putting this film on my "Must See" list. Because I do like him as an actor, and I like him being funny, which he needs to do more of, professionally speaking. Second, what is up with Aardman casting handsome, British guys as their doofy villains? I mean, first, it was Ralph Fiennes in the were-rabbit thing, and now this? I'm not complaining; I'm just wondering. But to be honest, all the voice acting was phenomenal.

Anyway, I'd like to say one more thing. Specifically, about the animation in this. It's just heartwarming. I love the way that they create their films. I love how everything is handmade. Like, you can literally see fingerprints a lot of the time, which isn't a bad thing. It serves as a little reminder of how much work went into it. I love that, even with the option to use computers and make things easier, they don't do it, because it's not who they are. In short, I love the integrity they have to their legacy.

In closing, I highly recommend seeing Early Man. Much like everything that comes from Aardman, it's witty and fun and, again, heartwarming, and it just makes you feel happy. Sometimes that is all I need from a movie and, most times, that is way more than enough.

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer


Monday, February 26, 2018

Am I Writing a Musical?

Greetings Pups,

About a month ago, I did a review of a great YouTube channel run by a beautiful and talented artist named Karliene. In said review, I mentioned that one of her projects had motivated me to get back to working on one of my own. That project of mine was a collection of songs based on my favorite book of all time, The Last Sin Eater by Francine Rivers.

Now I had been jotting down quite a few verses and choruses that I would eventually turn into some songs, although, I hadn't done that much work before temporarily abandoning it. But as I have been getting back into it and writing some more, I noticed something that was changing concerning what I was doing then in comparison to what I've been doing now. That change is the narrative. What I was writing before seemed to be more, I hate to say it, generic. Like, the subject of the songs were inspired by things that happen in the book, but only I would know where it was coming from because nothing was all that specific. However, as I started working on this again, I noticed that I was letting things from the story have more of a distinct effect on what I was writing. And that made me wonder something: Have I stopped trying to create a loosely inspired collection of songs and started writing songs for a musical of sorts? Maybe.

Okay, look, don't get me wrong. I know where I stand in all this where the logistics are concerned. I am permitted to write a song about anything I want. I can be inspired by anything and put it into my own words. Nothing wrong with that. I've done it a thousand times. In fact, some of my first poetry collection was very much inspired by the work of others, but in a transformative way. However, there is a difference between writing things that are inspired by someone else's work and doing an actual and official adaptation of it. So, if my direction on this is turning into writing a legit musical based on an existing property, I understand that I can't do anything with it beyond scribbling things down in a notebook and singing melodies into a voice recorder without written consent by the author/owner of that existing property. Which I don't have . . . yet. But Sofia Coppola didn't have the rights to The Virgin Suicides when she wrote a screenplay for it, and I am as good of a songwriter as she is a film maker. Okay, maybe not, but I am definitely a better songwriter than she is an actress. Even she would say that and she's never even read anything of mine. But I digress.

Anyway, there is something in me that wants to keep working on this, just to see what might happen. I understand that some people might consider doing that a waste of time when the chances of anything coming from it are extremely slim to none. But anyone who is a writer knows that writing anything is never a waste of time. Even writing the inevitable crappy stuff isn't, because, at the very least, you are writing. And I'm extremely inspired by this book. In fact, in addition to trying to read a hundred books this year, as I did last year, I am going to dive back into The Last Sin Eater but with fresh eyes. Also with notebook and pen, to write down every little thing that I could turn into a song. Again, even if it comes to nothing out there in the real world, I will still consider it productive.

So, let me just finish by saying, I believe in miracles, I believe in hard work and, though it is difficult sometimes, I believe in the gift I have as a writer. I never know what the future will hold for my work, but I know to always be prepared for whatever might come my way. And who knows? Perhaps, someday, I will have the honor to meet Francine Rivers, tell her how much her book means to me and show her how she inspired me. That might lead to something happening or it might not. But no matter what, any work that I do is worth doing. Every word I put down on paper is another step in the direction of where I'm supposed to be.

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer


Monday, February 5, 2018

Why We Fall Apart

Greetings Pups,

I don't know why things happen or why they happen when they do. I don't know why sometimes we are as put together as much as we possibly can be and why other times we crumble. We fall apart.

I haven't been shy about letting it be known that my life has been doing that quite a lot lately, somehow without going into too many details. Mostly because I don't think the details matter. Well, things haven't changed much over the last few years and I spend the majority of my time trying to figure out how things got to where they are. I suppose I could do what so many people do these days and blame someone else for all my problems. Who? Whoever, as long as I'm not pointing the finger at myself or the choices that I made, right? But I can't be someone like that. I'm smart enough to know that, most of the time, we are where we are because of what we decided to do. I'm not saying that outside sources can't have an effect on us, but we decide how much. We wake up every day with a choice to settle in and take it, or push back and move forward.

I've been looking at how my life is and what I could have done or not done to make it like this. Truth is, there have been many outside sources hitting up against me for most of the time I've been alive, and I hate to admit this, but I fall for their tricks very easily. Maybe they're good at what they do, or maybe I don't have it in me to fight back. Or maybe I just wait until the effect wears off and I forget what happened, enough to where I feel almost happy.

Of course, then another day comes and another rock is thrown on the pile of rocks that never turn to dust but rather one giant boulder that's just waiting to crush me. I have a lot of people in my life asking why I get upset over "small things that don't matter". Well, that's why. Because when they pile up, they start to matter a lot. And all they see is that one small thing, not the collection I've built up. Trust me, I try very hard to make it shrink every day. It's not easy, though.

And yet, I keep going for some reason. I get up and I manage to survive my way through the day, sometimes filling those moments with something I think is useful or even enjoyable. But mostly, I'm just surviving. It gets harder with every passing day, to do the things that I find useful and enjoyable and to survive. There are so many things that I am passionate about in my heart, but when it comes to manifesting those things physically? Let's just say it's hard to be passionate about anything when you feel like you're in a prison. Your mind has trouble flowing freely when it's always being weighed down by anchors that you just can't cut loose.

That's how I feel most of the time. I mean, I live in a house that's falling down around me and as far as my finances go, I have a bank account with an echo. And the really unfortunate factor in all of this is that I work. I work hard and I work all the time, but I'm not getting back as much as I put in. It can start to make a person think that what they do doesn't matter. As if I don't have enough people telling me that already, especially when it comes to my writing. Shall I bring up the fact that I've published four poetry collections and I have people asking me when I'm gonna write a real book? And this is coming from non-book readers, so . . . Yeah, I don't exactly have the greatest support system where that is concerned. But not being supported hasn't made me stop. Like I said, they can only affect me if I let them.

I apologize for sounding so negative in a lot of this, but I'd rather get it out of me somehow, since I know what can happen if you keep it inside. Now I don't know what the future holds for me or my living and financial situations or any of my artistic endeavors. I just know that I am kind of falling apart at the moment. But for some reason, I am letting myself believe it's because I'll be rebuilt as something even stronger. Maybe that's how it is for everyone.

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer