Community and V for Vendetta: My First Viewing

So I’ve had a busy few days, mostly because of my procrastination, but luckily I got everything done pretty early tonight.

Unluckily, I almost forgot about my blog post. I’ve had a topic in mind for the past few days, but I’ve been working on an English assignment due tomorrow, so I’ve been avoiding the actual writing part. So here I am, sitting in the South Lounge at Markley, writing my post at the last minute.

I was going to talk about fall and how pretty the trees are, and although that is my new favorite thing to talk about since this is my first “real” fall (Houston, where I’m from, really doesn’t have a fall), my friend suggested a new topic as I rushed to get my laptop.

I’m in the south lounge because I’m about to watch V for Vendetta with some girls from my hall. I know about this movie, I’ve seen the clip of a speech from it as well as analyzed it, but I’ve never actually gotten the chance to watch it, nor do I really know what it’s exactly about.

I’m honestly a bit ashamed to say this, since I claim to be such a movie buff (seriously, if you don’t remember an actor’s name, I’m the one to ask). But that also means I get a unique experience. Not knowing much about this movie, I’m going to see it with an open mind, and with my friends, something I probably wouldn’t get if I was watching it alone in my dorm.

However, that also means I don’t have much to say about it. So as the movie is about to start, I am talking with my friends, just enjoying the community we have here, and wondering what I’ll think after I see it. But I’m also thankful – I really love getting to know everyone, and I feel like this is the way movies are meant to be seen, with friends, in a community.

Hopefully I’ll enjoy it. I think I will, seeing as it’s considered such a classic. Only time will tell. So as this night comes to a close, I have only one more thing to say:

Remember, Remember the 5th of November.

Conversions and Conversations

If you know the words “Good morning Hank!” and “Good morning John!” and where they come from, you’re probably part of the internet culture known collectively as Nerdfighteria. Brothers Hank and John Green have used internet vlogging as a medium to create things of awesome such as the Project for Awesome, an online charity event, and VidCon, a real life convention for YouTubers to meet with their fans on the other side of the screen.

However, it can be said that John Green is a much higher profile name. Known not only for his online hijinks, John Green is a New York Times Bestseller and a recipient of the Michael L. Printz award, the highest honor for authors of young adult literature. He has created such classics such as Looking for Alaska and An Abundance of Katherines that are loved by teens across the globe.

However, his most recent novel has been making more buzz than usual. In January 2012 John released his book The Fault in Our Stars, a realistic fiction about the joys and trials of teens with cancer. Inspired by his time as a chaplain straight out of college, The Fault in Our Stars was literally a project 10 years in the making. His hard work paid off – The Fault in Our Stars spent a year on the New York Times Bestseller list, and his publisher Penguin rented out Carnegie Hall for him to celebrate in January 2013.

This in itself is any authors dream, but fans clamored for more. And now, John is jumping from the small screen of the internet to the big screen. The Fault in Our Stars just wrapped up filming in Pittsburgh, briefly relocating to the beautiful city of Amsterdam, and is expecting a 2014 release. Yet again, John is making headlines with big names being attached to the project such as Golden Globe nominee Shaliene Woodley and seasoned actor Willam Dafoe.

On the TFIOS Movie Set

Currently, John is posting photos from the set, exciting fans and critics alike. And this is where I come in. A longtime fan of John’s work, I could not be more excited for this movie. But with every book to movie adaptation, I have met the news with a skeptical eye. I want the book to be represented well, as I saw with The Hunger Games, but I also want it to be an amazing standalone work, as with The Perks of Being a Wallflower.

But with all of the support from John and all of his pictures, tweets, and videos from the set, my mind has been put at ease. And I’m noticing a common trend. From the incorporation of real teen cancer survivors in the cast of prominent extras, to the recent wall of fan art that has been made for the book, I see the book mirrored in the filming. This time, I’m not talking about the fact that this is an adaptation – I’m seeing this duplication in the process of creating. John poured his soul into this book, and has said so on multiple occasions, and I see the same with the director and producers of the movie. They are incorporating what made the book so amazing – passion and realism mixed together to form something beautiful between producer and consumer. As encouraged by John, The Fault in Our Stars transcended the words on the page, becoming a conversation between the reader and author. And that’s what made this book so special, and what I think will be the defining characteristic for this adaptation.

I have never been more excited to dive back into this world again, and to have a new, fresh conversation as I sit in the theatre next year.

For more pictures from the set of TFIOS visit John’s twitter; for more about the Vlogbrothers and their various projects, visit their shared YouTube channel.

Film vs. movies and Literature vs. Books: End this war!!

The other day, I went home for the weekend and to catch up on sleep and on Saturday night, catch up with my older sister.  We were sitting on her couch contemplating what to do for the rest of the night when suddenly, she got this mischevious look in her eyes that made her look like a third-grader with a secret to tell.

“What is it?” I asked.

“Oh nothing,” she said, like there was definitely something.  “Just…I feel like watching a really girly, really sappy movie.  Would you be up for it?”

“You bet!” I remember saying.  I was relieved that she didn’t tell me she had cancer or something.  But afterwards I thought about the trepidation she must have felt before asking me about what to do for the night.

And it got me thinking, as an avid cinephile and bibliophile, why are some people so ashamed of watching films or reading books that are in a genre?  What’s so bad about chick-flicks and chick-lit that makes normal people scrunch their faces and avoid asking you to watch them?

Does calling a movie a ‘film’ elevate it to some sort of high status?  Does ‘Literature’ confer a sort of sacredness to texts that ‘Thriller’ does not?

As someone who loves serving up some Austen, Tolstoy, Baudrillard, or Borges from time to time, I will also admit that I have read ‘Bridget Jones Diary’ waaay too many times to count.

And I’ve laughed out loud every time.

Gets me every time.
Gets me every time.

That is something that reading Baudrillard has never made me do (except when I’ve laughed at Baudrillard to avoid crying because I have no idea what he is saying).

This man has never made me laugh.
Never gets anyone laughing, but is lauded for dissing Disney World.

I am not saying that one is better than the other.  From time to time, I NEED challenging literature in order to assure me that my liberal arts brain can still function.  But from time to time, I think even the liberal artsy should get down from their marble column and descend into the pages or film clips of the genre book or movie and not be ashamed of it.

Psychedelic Boat Ride

I’m a media buff if you haven’t noticed by now. I find art to be most interesting in the way it has developed with technology and is presented to the masses. In the 70’s original version of the highly-acclaimed Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, there are many elements of artistic innovation that have never been done before. The candy room, the orange oompa-loompa’s that belted out impromptu jams at the drop of a chocolate bar, and the most intriguing scene to me—the boat scene.

The psychedelic boat trip captures all I ever expected the 70’s to be plus an ontological approach to questioning life. I love that this was a kid’s movie. The boat trip uses a creepy Dr. Suess adapted tune, the flashing of bright lights in a dark tunnel, the indistinguishable images of monsters, and the complete fear of the passengers, to create an artistic message that what we fear is always with us. However, we choose to live in this blind oblivion with candy and the beautiful aspects of life to avoid our fears.

I find the art in the scene to be the true grit of what is visually happening, and what Willy Wonka is saying. He’s not sugar-coating his words, no pun intended. The insertion of the Psychedelic boat scene in the midst of all of the happy and carefree feelings that the movie permits, makes the scene even more noticeable and questionable.

I’m not quite sure what the scene exactly is saying through the visually graphic and trippy images, and I don’t think anyone will ever know unless they ask the writers of the film themselves. My little interpretation of the scene is that it utilizes art as a means to evoke fear and change within people, but we all know from the story only one child truly captures that change.

Here’s the scene in all its glory:

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory: Psychedelic Boat Trip