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Adventure Time

11 Apr

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What time is it? It is time for a new post. The TV Series that I am going to review today is called Adventure Time.  After going through a few animation series from my childhood, I came to the conclusion that many of them are like Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s novella Le Petit Prince (1943). While I was studying literature, my professor told me that this novella holds a different meaning for each stage of life – child, adult, elder. As an adult, watching kids shows, I am left amazed and stupefied. Most of these shows are not for children, their plot and narrative are not child appropriate, even though the content is presented in a childish manner and this TV Series is one of them.

Adventure Time is an American animated television series created in 2010 by Pendleton Ward for Cartoon Network. The show is on-going, so new episodes are coming soon – hurrah! The plot of this series is genius and in combination with the original drawing style, this show manages to entertain not only visually, but also intellectually. The plot presents us with a post-apocalyptic world in which the humans are mostly extinct except for Finn, who is a 14 year old boy (voiced by Jeremy Shada). Because Finn was adopted by a family of magical dogs as a baby, Jake (voiced by John DiMaggio) the magical shape shifting dog, is his adoptive brother and best friend.

These two characters go on a diversity of adventures in which they save princesses and take on different challenges that are a rite of passage in their becoming of age and true heroes of the Land of Ooo. Many fans of this show consider that it would look much better if it would be drawn in an anime style. I disagree, because the original style gives the narrative a certain easiness in assimilating it and attracts children by its bright colours and characters. I love anime and manga, but the Eastern drawing style many times seems too serious for me and more focusing on young adults than children.

Many times the problems that Finn and Jake try to fix are actually serious and realistic, although explained and told in a childish way.  A random fact that I found interesting is that the source of inspiration for this show was the fantasy role-playing game Dungeons and Dragons as well as video games. This is show is extremely funny, put together in a smart way, leaving you wanting more and with every eleven minutes you feel like you are truly on an fantastic adventure.

P.S.

My favourite Adventure Time character is Marceline the Vampire Queen (voiced by Olivia Olson). Which one do you guys like?

Hotel Transylvania (2012)

7 Apr

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I am quite excited about this post because I love animation. Believe it or not I am little bit of an otaku and yes this is not an anime, but I find comparing and analysing the Western animation with the Eastern one, is quite culturally satisfying. In the end, I decided on writing about Hotel Transylvania and not an anime because: 1) recently seen it and wanted to review it;
2) the kid inside me went hysterical after seeing it.

If you are a 90’s kid, then you have most likely grown up watching Cartoon Network shows and it is my greatest honour to write about the feature film debut of Genndy Tartakovsky, the creator of Dexter’s Laboratory, Samurai Jack, Star Wars: Clone Wars and Sym-Bionic Titan. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, Hotel Transylvania is a 2012 computer-animated American comedy, directed by Genndy Tartakovsky -the creator of some of my most loved childhood animations– and produced by Michelle Murdocca.  This raised the expectations I had for this animation miles high and I am most glad to confess that it met them all the way. If this has not convinced you already to see this film than the cast list surely will. This film features the voices of Adam Sandler (Count Dracula), Andy Samberg (Jonathan), Selena Gomez (Mavis), Kevin James (Frank), Fran Drescher (Eunice), Steve Buscemi (Wayne Werewolf), Molly Shannon(Wanda Werewolf), David Spade (Griffin the Invisible Man) and Cee Lo Green (Murray the Mummy).

The structure of the plot has pretty much a decreasing flow, which allows you to get enough information, on the protagonists at least, and to get attached to the characters. We are introduced in the mythical land of Romania in the region called Transylvania, where our protagonist Count Dracula, after losing his wife, decides to build a place where he can raise his daughter Mavis and shelter other monsters that seek refuge from the human world. All is well until the arrival of a human, the 21 year old Jonathan, which turns Dracula’s life upside down. The story is incredibly entertaining and original, pulling you in a world of fantasy filled with all the monsters you can think of. It is like a monster open buffet, you have werewolves, Frankenstein and his wife, a mummy, Big Foot, Griffin the Invisible Man, zombies, witches, vampires, walking skeletons and so on.

The script is so well written that the jokes make you laugh out loud, and the voices are synced with the animation permitting it to flow naturally. The animation itself is what I appreciate the most about this film. Tartakovsky’s style is observable in the way the characters interact, their expressions – especially Dracula’s angry face reminds me of Dexter’s father-, but more polished than the series he worked on. As his feature film debut, I consider, he did a marvellous job.This film is so good that it was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Animated Feature Film and a sequel, titled Hotel Transylvania 2, has already been scheduled to be released in theatres on September 25, 2015. I recommend this film wholeheartedly for all you animation lovers out there, believe me, you will not regret watching it. Enjoy!

Silver Linings Playbook (2012)

4 Apr

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Continuing from where I left last week, the second film from 2012 I watched and will be commenting on is Silver Linings Playbook. This motion picture was directed by David O. Russell, whose films may never have won an Oscar, but if you are an ambitious little actor/actress and you want to win the nomination for the best actor/actress of the year this is the director for you. This man directed seven Oscar nominated actors for best performances, such as: Christian Bale (aka Batman), Amy Adams (aka Giselle from Enchanted), Melissa Leo (aka Ray Eddy from Frozen River) and Robert De Niro. These names that show us, that Mr Russell does not work with scraps from the bottom of the barrel.

The plot is ingeniously put together and lets you gain a sympathetic and analytical perspective of the characters. This film tells the story of a man that went through a mental meltdown and how he manages to overcome his issues. The narrative is so well written that it actually managed to make me laugh out loud, and it came to no surprise when I discovered that this film is an adaptation of Matthew Quick’s novel that bears the same name as the film. Lately, Hollywood has lost its imagination and almost everything it produces is either an adaptation or is inspired from real life events.

Silver Linings Playbook begins by presenting us Patrick Solitano Jr. (Bradley Cooper) in a mental institution going through his daily routine there. He is released from the hospital by his mother and put in his parents care. We are informed that he has been in that institution for eight months due to a violent outburst, when he found his wife Nikki (Brea Bee) cheating on him with a common work colleague. When he returns, his father (Robert De Niro) informs him that his wife moved away and that she has a restraining order against him. Despite that, Patrick is convinced that Nikki will take him back if he does everything she ever wanted from him.

He attends dinner at his friend Ronnie (John Ortiz) where he meets Ronnie’s sister in law, Tiffany Maxwell (Jennifer Lawrence). Tiffany’s husband has recently died and soon after, she lost her job, events that led to a neurosis, similar to Patrick’s. They develop an odd friendship and Patrick sees an opportunity to talk to Nikki through Tiffany, who promises to give her a letter from him. In return he needs to participate with Tiffany in a dance contest. Everything is going fine until his father asks him to go with his big brother and friends to a Philadelphia Eagles game, on which he has bet all of his money as a good luck charm. Patrick skips practice with Tiffany and gets in a fight with some racists toughs. His father loses the bet and his temper, arguing with everyone including Tiffany. This next part is the climax of the film, where after the argument that Tiffany has with Patrick’s father, they decide to make a parley in order to win all the money back.

I loved this movie because it is fun and sad at the same time, causing a combination of emotions while you watch it. The acting is incredible and it feels so natural that it draws you, it makes you lose yourself in the film. Cooper and Lawrence mirror the characters from the book so well that they seem to fit together like two puzzle pieces. The script is incredibly well written, the jokes make you laugh, which I consider an accomplishment. In arguments, every line seems meticulous put in place allowing you to feel the tension. It is not enough for a film to be either filmed well, have a good script or good actors. An incredible film needs to have all these factors ingeniously put together, and ladies and gentlemen, this one right here has it all.

The only issue I had with it was the ending. It just seems too sudden and left a few questions unanswered. In the end Tiffany and Patrick end up together, which was obvious from the beginning, and I do not mind it, but something is missing. This man obsesses about his wife the whole film and then when he finally sees her at the ending, he goes to her, whispers something into her ear and goes after Tiffany… It just leaves you with a feeling of emptiness and asking yourself: What? This is it?

Overall this is the best American comedy I saw in years and I am sure I will not see one of its kind very soon. It shows that in order to have a good comedy, you need to combine it with a good drama, otherwise it is simply superficial and alienating.

Pitch Perfect (2012)

31 Mar

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I went through my watch list on IMDb last night and two films from year 2012 caught my eye. The one I am going to talk about today is Prefect Pitch. This motion picture was directed by Jason Moore, which you probably only heard of him from directing the TV series, Dawson’s Creek, from 2001 until 2002. This is his first feature film and honestly, I think, it is quite mediocre. Do Not let the IMDb rankings fool you – because they are incredibly good, or the cast which at first sight might seem impressive, but it is not.

Our protagonist is a freshman at Barden University, named Beca, starring Anna Kendrick who you might remember from the Twilight saga. Beca is a rebellious young adult, who comes to Barden only because of her controlling father, who is against the only thing she wants, to go off to LA and get a job in the music industry. So daddy makes a deal with her, that if she truly gets involved in college life and by the end of the year she still hates it, then he is going to help her move to LA. Some other incidents happen; one especially involves a shower duet of David Guetta’s – Titanium, which makes Beca decide to become a member of the Barden Bellas. What are the Barden Bellas, one may ask? Well friend, they are a collegiate, all-girls a cappella singing group, stuck on old female pop music. In other words they are a Glee club and believe me when I say this, from this point on, this film is full of Glee. If these characters are not singing, they are either trying to overrule or sabotage each other and of course fixated on some singing competition.

What I did enjoy in this film is the idea of the battle of the sexes. In order to win the a cappella competition, these girls must defeat a rival all- male a cappella group. Put the protagonist’s love interest in the rival group and Boom, you have a contemporary Romeo and Juliet situation. There are elements such as these, that would make this musical comedy as good as it claims to be (another one would be that it is an adaptation of Mickey Rapkin’s non-fiction novel, also titled Pitch Perfect), but the mediocre acting, narration and even filming of it, just makes this film a Hollywood mainstream teen comedy – which is making me have flashbacks of Hillary Duff’s films. What is truly well done are the singing scenes. They are well fimled, good choreography and singing, but the songs are as mainstream as this film.

You can make a game out of counting how many sex and misogynist jokes the character s, Gail (Elizabeth Banks) and John (John Michael Higgins) make, or how many times you hear, “We play music without any instruments. It’s all from our mouths. “. Still you go through with it all waiting to see one of the teams win aaannnnddd it does not happen. I am not going to ruin the ending for you guys, but if you do decided to watch this film I suggest you do not over think it and just enjoy it as it is.

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931)

28 Mar

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I feel obliged to start this new post with an apology, because I skipped blogging for a few weeks. So here it goes: “Sorry I have not wrote a thing since February, I am still at University and had to prioritize my studies, but Spring Break is here so I am back.” To avoid this in the future I decided to make a blog time table, so you guys will get new posts every Thursday and Sunday. Now that I got that out of the way, let’s get back to movies.
After reading Dracula, I continued on the line of gothic monsters and their adaptation to film, so this week I decided to talk about Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931). This is the first adaptation for the screen of Robert Louis Stevenson’s novel, The Strange case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1886). This is an American film, directed by Rouben Mamoulian, starring Fredric March as Dr. Henry Jekyll and Mr. Edward Hyde, role that will earn him his first Academy Award.

Both the film and the book made me feel like I was being attacked by an arsenal of Freudian theories. The film especially, starting even from the first scenes, in which we are shown Jekyll lecturing at the University about issues concerning the self. I was like, just give him a beard and a pair of glasses, and you are done with it. After that it goes on about the repressed self, showing Jekyll as the Son figure who desires his fiancée, Muriel Carew (Rose Hobart), but he is stopped from fulfilling his wishes by the Father figure, General Sir Danvers Carew (Halliwell Hobbes). Like a child who wishes to fulfil all its needs and escape punishment, Jekyll creates a potion, which brings out the evil side of the human self, and names him Hyde. The film also re-enacts the Madonna-Whore Complex by presenting the character of Muriel as the virginal figure and that of the bar singer, Ivy Pearson (Miriam Hopkins) as the whore figure. Because of its open sexuality and loss morality, the whore figure is destroyed in the end by the monstrous Hyde. What I found interesting is that in the novel, these female characters are missing and there is a constant male dominance concerning the plot.

The story is presented from Mr. Gabriel John Utterson’s point of view, which is Jekyll’s friend and lawyer, and he analyses the mysterious character of Mr. Hyde, especially after Hyde murders Sir Danvers Carew, action which happens at the ending in the film. Also the character of Sir Danvers Carew gains more importance in the movie than it has in the novel, and Mr. Utterson’s character is completely erased from the film. I found the script of the film quite well written and helps to point out the Freudian theories, and if Nosferatu was a silent film, this one, is one of the first to have sound. The acting gets better, not so exaggerated as the ones from the silent era, and the special effects are hilarious. I found the character of Hyde quite funny looking, just as the novel describes him, like an ape. What did you guys thought of it? What is your favourite adaptation of the novel? Please Comment and let me know.

Nosferatu (1922) Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens  

17 Feb

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Like most folks in their youth, I had my gothic phase and due to certain circumstances I had to relive it recently – but without the fun stuff like dark clothes and makeup. The topic I will be revising today will be the myth of vampires and its entrance in the cinematic world. Why vampires you may ask? That is because, as I said above, I recently got into gothic again, but only literature wise. After reading one of the first novels presenting the myth, which is Bram Stoker’s “Dracula” (1897), I went in the search of the first adaptation of the film, which is F.W. Murnau’s “Nosferatu” from 1922.
The interesting fact about this film is that due to copy right issues the director had to change the names and certain scenes from the novel, even so the film was destroyed because it did not receive authorization, but a few copies were saved. Because of this now there are a few versions of Nosferatu and there are some discontinuities in the film due to the lost or damaged footage.
It does not follow the exact story line of the novel and many of the important characters are either eliminated completely – such as Quincy Morris – or their importance is being minimalized – such as Abraham Van Helsing. This gives it a more simple feeling, easier to be understood by the mass audience of the time.
The film is a silent classic in which we are presented with the freshly married couple, Ellen (Greta Schröder) and Thomas Hutter (Gustav von Wangenheim), that are separated while Hutter goes to Transylvania to take care of estate business with Count Orlok (Max Schreck). My opinion about it was, that the exaggerated gestures and the narrative made the film seem like a parody of the novel, but the use of German Expressionism and the aesthetics of the actors gave the feeling of fright that this sort of genres should.
This great combination of humour and horror is what makes this film unique. If you are a vampire fan and you are upset with what Hollywood has done to them lately, then I suggest you try and watch this film. It is a great change of pace from all the modern technology and special effects and reminds us all, what vampires are all about. Other films that I suggest you check out are:
Nosferatu the Vampyre (1979)
• Vampyr (1932)
• Dracula (1931)

And my favourite adaptation – Dracula (1992)