Saturday, September 6, 2014

Saving More Than Mr. Banks~My Experience

saving mr. banks poster
  I am delighted when I am surprised. Saving Mr. Banks was something that surprised me. I only was aware of it, before it came to theaters, from a trailer a friend had shared. I thought it looked fun and interesting, intermingled with sweetness--and it had Walt Disney, played by Tom Hanks! I immediately felt like he'd make a perfect Walt Disney, and I was intrigued to see Emma Thompson (Sense and Sensibility) play something different than what I knew her from most.

  But I did not expect it to be about Pamela Travers' father. At first, I wasn't sure if I liked this story better than what I had assumed it would be about--although to be honest, now I'm not sure what I was expecting. I think I was expecting something goofier, more--chipper. I knew nothing of the history of the stories, had never read them--had bare memories of the classic movie. But what made me realize how much I truly liked the movie was the fact that I couldn't stop thinking about it, about how her relationship with her father fed the story--in fact, drove it. Her whole world centered around the person she had loved over everything else, the person she wanted redeemed so badly. Her father had given her the gift of a childhood of imagination and joy, but it all went downhill when he lost faith in himself, and could not keep it together. That was what hurt her most--the fact that not only had her father lost his own faith and joy in life, but that she lost him altogether in the end, broken and sad.

  When I finished watching the movie this evening, I thought about how suited the title was. And then I smiled. Because it isn't just about saving Mr. Banks, or saving the memory of Travers Goff and all he stood for. It was about saving Pamela. It was about saving her from the clutches of her heartbroken past. About her stepping forward to something new. Having faith.

  That said, being the most important thing--now I'm just going to comment on the rest. I loved it all. I loved the sixties environment, loved the natural, human cast, and LOVED Emma Thompson as P. L. Travers with her smart quips, Paul Giamatti as Ralph, (one of the most memorable characters--his loving, sunny and likable character I felt added even more life and beauty to the movie) and Tom Hanks was absolutely perfect as Walt Disney. Truly memorable. Stellar performances by everyone.

  I am grateful that this movie was made. And I can't wait to have it on my shelf.


  ~Elora Carmen Shore

 

Sunday, August 31, 2014

American Youth~George Lucas and American Graffiti


george lucas american graffiti
Image via kitbashed
  Finally, today I was able to watch one of George Lucas's first movies--American Graffiti. Ever since reading about it when I was studying Geroge Lucas's early work, I really wanted to see it. Especially once I read about how he had wanted to build the story around a "playlist", if you'll allow the modern term, of songs he felt had defined that time in America. Interesting idea! It intrigued me more, because I had thought before how times of my life could very well be defined by the songs my parents would play at the time. There's music that I have distinct memories tied to--and I felt like that came across in the movie, how the music was a part of the story. You get a feel of the rhythm of the times, the youthfulness and hope. The story is spearheaded by the fact that two dudes are about to go back to college the next day--they want one last night on the town, one last chance to kick up their heels and burn rubber on the strip.

Image via Drafthouse
  You come to love the characters, just because they're normal, relatable and--stupid. At times. I just had to laugh at the foolishness and complete likeability of the whole story. It was fun, and it was real. Goofy, with young adults getting into scrapes just as we'd expect. American youth. If ever there was a term to perfectly describe a movie, that'd be it for American Graffiti. Looking forward to watching it again.

  Especially for the gorgeous cars. And a young Harrison Ford. Always been a fan of his movies, and it was fun to see something from before Star Wars IV: A New Hope. And Richard Dreyfuss--that was fun! The most intriguing thing must be, I think, is that you can't help but watch the movie and see George Lucas himself in his youth. After all, before making movies he wanted to be a racer. It's interesting to learn more about someone, to see things you didn't expect.


  ~E. C. Shore

Friday, August 29, 2014

Among the Beasts


man and the beast, the island of doctor moreau

  I just finished reading The Island of Doctor Moreau. I was first intrigued about the story when I was introduced to it by the book Doctor Franklin's Island by Ann Halam. It was a terrific story, and to be honest, I prefer it to H.G. Well's book. That's not to say that his was not great--it was. I enjoyed it immensely, and loved the intrigue and examination of what made the inhabitants of the island so different--or rather, not. It spoke of the animal in all of us. The biggest example, arguably, is Moreau. The man who can coldly set aside any empathy for a fellow creature's senses, and feelings, to cut them apart while alive and rebuild them into something they didn't even understand. Yes, I find that fascinating. He is the predator that takes his prey as he needs them, uses and disposes them according to the requirements of his curiosity. Montgomery is the man caught in between--he understands both, he is Moreau's creature in that he has let Moreau desensitize his empathy to a great extent. Prendick, our main character, is the story's creature. The island is is torture chamber, his mental hell where he challenges and struggles against all he encounters, human or humanoid...in many ways, he is the man who has been cast adrift on his own inner terrain, taken by the things that make us regress in what we, as a "civilized" people, view as morals--bring out the animal stirrings. The fear of the unnatural, the instinct of what is a natural enemy, etc. Daily clashing with horrors and fear, with evidence of things that challenge his and others' "humanity", Prendick is a good representative of Humanity itself.

  But what intrigued me most (and if I seem to be using that word too much, I'm sorry--it's one of my favorites, and I do so like to be intrigued) was the ending. Even if it was something I expected. Once you see the animal, see the jungle--you tend to see it everywhere else. It's hard to go back to what you were, and for many, you never do. Prendick struggled to not see his neighbors as animals--to fear that he saw the Creature that was furtive and fearful and dangerous in their faces, in their gestures. It took so long for him to acclimate again, and even then, he had times where he regressed. But I was surprised by the very ending. Hope? I do believe in it--something one must hold onto, if they are to survive, in my opinion, but I did not expect Prendick to end with a refrain of humanity's hope.

  "My days I devote to reading and to experiments in chemistry, and I spend many of the clear nights in the study of astronomy. There is--though I do not know how there is or why there is--a sense of infinite peace and protection in the glittering hosts of heaven. There it must be, I think, in the vast and eternal laws of matter, and not in the daily cares and sins and troubles of men, that whatever is more than animal within us must find its solace and its hope. I hope, or I could not live.
     And so, in hope and solitude, my story ends.  --Edward Prendick"

  A swift read, The Island of Doctor Moreau is an interesting examination of Humanity and the Beast.


  ~E.C.Shore

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Remembering Robin Williams: The Joy of My Childhood

robin williams remembered
  I was stunned this morning when my mom gave me the news. For a moment I thought I wasn't hearing right. Robin Williams is dead? The man who I was always eager to watch as a kid, and even as an adult...it seems incomprehensible. But the first thing that went through my mind--after the thought of what his family must be feeling--was the realization that I wasn't off the mark when I had recently seen a picture of him on the red carpet or at some other photo shoot, and I had thought he looked sad. I don't really look up celebrities--not much. I tend to study other things. But still...the news shocked me. And like many others, it's been a sad day.

  My brightest memories of his work are when, as a child, I'd be visiting one of my dad's friend's house, and I'd be able to watch their Jumanji movie, on VHS. I knew Robin Williams first as Mrs. Doubtfire, (he really won me over, he was just so likeable) as Peter Pan, and as the Genii in Aladdin. Anything new I saw, I was always excited to see more of him. More of his joy, his funniness--his own personality. He was the type of person that you just wanted to give him a hug, I felt.

  On Fox News, on The Five they were talking about how Robin Williams had said before that when a celebrity commits suicide, or dies--I don't remember the exact phrasing--many of them are mythicized.  But I think it is safe to say, that so many people aren't going to be exaggerating when they say that he was such a kind, generous person, and he freely gave of what joy he could. He made us laugh. That's a gift, isn't it? To be able to make people forget for a moment all the trash that goes on, and laugh until our bellies hurt--or even, as he said in his own words, to take the dark and the absurd and to turn it into something you can laugh at. As a means of dealing with it.
robin williams remembered


  I think it is believable that so many comedians are often depressed--I wonder, from a bit of personal experience that isn't even of the same depth, if they ARE so funny because they are desperate to find lightness where they see the dark. To find a way of escape. It's a coping mechanism that they share, getting their joy from actually making others genuinely laugh. I know I love making people laugh. To inspire others, to give them joy--that is an incredible gift to have for yourself as well as others.

  I spent today thinking over and over again how just the day before yesterday my family and I were watching RV, wherein Robin Williams plays the dad trying to reach his family once again after getting caught up in his job, and I thought then, "It would be so cool if someday I was able to meet Robin Williams and tell him how much I've enjoyed his movies since I was a kid. How they always made me laugh, and I was excited to see something new--I was always excited to see what joy he'd show me." And little did I know what would happen the next day. I just can't imagine what his family is going through.

  It's a sad time for all of us. But we'll all remember and love that crazy manic man that is impossible to forget.

  Robin Williams, we'll remember you. And you'll always be my Peter Pan.

robin williams death and remembrance, family


  ~E.C. Carmen

Friday, August 1, 2014

What Makes It Matter~The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies Trailer

  This was late in coming, even if only a few days. I've been superbly busy, let's just put it that way. But I'm sure the whole of geekdom and those who just passionately love a good story were flipping out and wallowing in the depth of sorrow and fear of the first teaser trailer of The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies. I had been haunting TORN for awhile, with thousands of others, waiting impatiently for the coming out of the much awaited trailer. And when that post came up, I was just there. And by the end, I was so sad. Not because it wasn't good. But because it was awesome. Right from the beginning it grabbed my heart, and would not let go. You feel the fear of Bilbo, his sorrow for the people that are under the burden and consequence of the choices of others. And all that he is afraid that will come to pass, and what they all--whoever will survive--will forever live with.




  It is also an example of why I want to make films. Their capacity to blend elements into a story--themes that make it breathe with such emotion, such reality, that it makes us believe in something. And that, in the end, we find that our heart has been broken, and put back better than it was, even if wounded. That's a story that matters. And I want to tell stories that matter.

  It isn't too much to say that when I finally see the defining chapter of The Hobbit, I will cry. Not only because it's the end, there will be no more--but mostly because it will have been a story truly worthwhile. You don't always have the privilege of coming across them, being blessed by them.


     ~Elora Carmen Shore

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Stimulate My Mind, and Dance With Me

great writing quotes


  I've been reading my brain into a dribbling mess. It feels bruised. But strangely, not just because I've been reading so much, but because I haven't had the stimulation of streamlined productivity in awhile. I'm coming to think that the lack of proper work for the brain is as tiring, if not more so, than the abundance of it. Sometimes the new stimulation of productivity just comes from a new angle on what is already present, but I find that often enough, I feel as though I'm starving for new experiences, a new store of revelation and point of views to get a mental adrenaline rush from. Honestly, sometimes my brain says--is there not anything new at the moment? Come on, show me something new. Send my suppositions, assumptions, perceptions for whirl. Life, dance with me for a moment. 

  Ah, the dance. Sweet addiction. It makes you understand why so many authors traveled extensively. Studied widely. (The second of which I do myself--endless curiosity provides you the trail to many answers).

And I also suppose you're also asking what the point of the post is. A very logical question. I was asking it myself--and the answer is I don't have a clue. Perhaps it's just an expression.


  ~Elora Carmen Shore  


  "This case alone ought to destroy the absurd fancy that these modern philosophies are modern  in the sense that the great men of the past did not think of them." ~ Chesterson

P.S. I meant to publish this the other day--since then, I've been making some progress. That's just how it goes. ;)

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Jet Li's Fearless: To Know Your Enemy

  Years ago I happened to catch some of a movie when my dad had it on. I had no idea what it was called, and when I later inquired, he could not remember. Only by accident, when looking for a movie by the same title, did I recently discover what it was called--Fearless. And needless to say I watched it.

jet li's fearless

    I appreciated it so much more than I even expected. It wasn't just another martial arts movie, with superb choreography, and that atmosphere of the culture that I have always loved. Though a popular theme in eastern storytelling, (and even elsewhere, but I have noticed it especially in eastern tales) this story carried itself well, with strength. It actually surprised me. It wasn't what I thought it was going to be.

  It was the true story of a man who realizes the cost of his own arrogance and recklessness. How much he had been his own enemy, and the cost of his sins and arrogance is the cruel loss of those he loved most--a direct consequence of his own failure to see the truth about himself. It took Moon, a sweet blind woman, to show him how to see.

  Huo Yuanjia is a young boy that his father won't teach, and grows up to know why. Despite this he grows into a formidable fighter, but with no real understanding of what a true warrior is. His arrogance and lack of responsibility lead him to reckless spending, gathering of "apprentices" that his true friend points our are little more than freeloaders. In his blindness Huo disregards the wise advice of his childhood friend and continues in his ways until his conceit leads him to disrespect and challenge a local enemy for beating his apprentice, when he wasn't even in possession of all the facts, (Something his enemy pointed out, who, at the moment, was showing greater courtesy), and loses the respect of his one true friend.
jet li's fearless
He ends up killing his enemy. And the cost for his reckless haste and conceit is his own family. Most notably, his little, precious girl. Without hesitation he takes quick reckoning for that, but even in so doing, it all catches up with him. He sees the worthless dog he is. And he flees from everything he knows, everything he is.

jet li's fearless
  When Huo Yuanjia comes back to awareness, he is in a place of peace, in the healing care of an elderly woman and her granddaughter, Moon. It is their kindness, mostly Moon's, that bring Huo to who he was really meant to be. Moon shows him how to see; her, a blind woman full of understanding and kindness. She shows him what kind of man Huo wants to be--a true warrior--and he spends the rest of his life trying to share that vision. He goes to those he has wronged, and pays his respects, destroys the reminder of his past victories, and becomes the new man--the one with a truth and example to share. It brings on a new chapter of his life, and his childhood friend back to his side. Together they create a school, Jin Wu Sports Federation--a real place, as this is based on the true story. Something for me to further study.

  But the wolves of money have it out for him, and while he knows that they have challenged him to a fight with their own champion only to accomplish something shady, he takes up their challenge in the desire to once again show people what he stands for. What it truly means to fight well--to show yourself for who you are. It is his honesty and true courtesy and wisdom that makes his final opponent respect him, and they prove both of themselves in their duel--both never backing down, even though Huo knows he's been poisoned.

jet li's fearless
  And this is how Huo finally proves himself. He finishes the fight, the challenge, even though he is spitting poison from his gut and every blow is breaking him down. This is his fearlessness--fearless in the face of death, and in the face of those who would hold wrongful gain higher than the merit of a honorable fight.

  He shows the world who he is and reveals the moneymakers as the dogs they are. He dies with a smile. He knows that he has died honorably. He could ask for no better legacy, this holding up of all he now stands for.

  This is a movie I would love to have on my shelf. The stories of real warriors are always stories that are needed. And I am blessed in that Huo Yuanjia was a real person. I can go and learn more of his real legacy, living still today. This story came full circle--the vices that made him into a wrong warrior, and the enlightenment and cost that forged the new one--one he fought for, and became and defended. The sort of man that enabled him to die with a smile on his face.

  ~E.C.S