NaNoWriMo Prep #20 – My 7 Favorite Movies about Writers

Movies3Need  more incentive for NaNoWriMo? Check out seven of my favorite movies about writers. Although some of them may make you NOT want to be a writer, but I’ve enjoyed them all. So grab some popcorn and check ’em out.

Shakespeare in Love – The Bard has writer’s block!

Cross Creek – A little-known movie about Marjorie Rawlings, the writer of The Yearling,and her time spent in the backwaters of Florida.

Sunset Boulevard – William Holden plays a down on his luck screenwriter who agrees to help the aging star, Norman Desmond, rewrite a script for her big comeback. A dark look at Hollywood and the cost of fame.

Possession – I love the book by A. S. Byatt that the movie is based on. I’m not as fond of the movie’s version of the contemporary storyline but I do love the storyline set in the past.

Old Acquaintances – I saw this move a few weeks ago on TCM. It stars Bette Davis as a serious playwright whose best friend, played by Miriam Hopkins, decides to write a book and becomes a big success writing pulp novels, which strains their friendship.

The last two movies are based on books by Stephen King. Probably not the best movies to watch if you’re wanting to be a writer, but they sure are fun!

Misery – A famous romance novelist, played by James Caan, has a car accident and is rescued and nursed by his “biggest fan”. But things start to get really crazy when his “fan” discovers Caan plans to kill off a beloved character.

The Shining – The ultimate movie about writer’s block! A writer takes his family to a hotel which is closed off for the winter and hopes the peace and quiet will help him to write.

Ah, but this movie is based on a book by Stephen King. Peace and quiet? Are you kidding?

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Man, Machines and Monsters – Pacific Rim Companion Book

From Pacific Rim – Man, Machines & Monsters

So I’m over at my local library and, lo and behold, I come across this really cool book. It’s the companion book to the movie Pacific Rim. It’s called Man, Machines & Monsters. Written by David S. Cohen. the foreword is written by the film’s director, Guillermo Del Toro.

I’ve come across my share of companion books for movies. As a matter of fact, I own most of the companion books that came out when the three movies in the Lord of the Rings Trilogy were released. Not only are companion books great for all that cool, behind-the-scenes info, but they’re usually also gorgeously illustrated.

Man, Machines and Monsters is no exception. It’s a big, glossy coffee-table sized book chock-full of photos and illustrations and lots of info about the world of Pacific Rim and what went into creating it for the movie. The book also contains two gigantic posters, stickers (and considering this is a library book, I’m grateful and surprised that no one, so far, has removed any of the stickers.) There’s lots of concept art for the characters, the Jaegers, the Kaiju, the sets and also storyboards, sketches and photos from the movie.  There are even plastic ID cards that feature Mako and Raleigh.

And, like any good companion book, there’s background information about the characters. For example, the Wei triplets, who pilot Crimson Typhoon, were initially going to be quadruplets, which makes sense since the Jaegers are piloted by two pilots, but Del Toro couldn’t find any quadruplet actors. He did, however, find,  Charles, Lance and Mark Luu, who are real triplets and were cast as the pilots for Crimson Typhoon.

Another interesting tidbit of information is that the distinctive cooling tower shape on top of Cherno Alpha, the Russian Jaeger, was inspired by “Mr. Fusion”, the power source for Doc Brown’s DeLorean in Back to the Future.

There is a bit of discrepancy in the book, however. In the movie Cherno Alpha is described by Pentecost as a Mark I, which makes sense as it doesn’t look as slick as the Mark IV Jaegers or the Mark V, Striker Eureka (piloted by those gotta-love-em Aussie father and son, Chuck and Herc Hansen), but in the companion book Cherno Alpha is classified as a Mark IV

Hmmm, now I feel like Brandon from Galaxy Quest. Remember that scene when he asks Jason Nesmith the following:

Galaxy Quest

Brandon: Hey, Commander, uh. So, as I was saying, … In “The Quasar Dilemma”, you used the auxiliary of Deck B for Gamma override. The thing is that online blueprints indicate Deck B is independent of the guidance matrix, so we were wondering where the error lies? 

Okay, I’m not that much of a nerd.

No, wait, I am. 🙂

Another bit of info about Cherno Alpha is that the Conn-Pod, which is where the pilots are housed and where they control the Jaegers, is located in Cherno Alpha’s chest, which makes it impossible to detach. So, unlike Gypsy Danger, Cherno had no escape pods. It’s like the Game of Thrones if you’re battling the Kaiju in Cherno Alpha. You either win or you die.

Anyway, if you’re a fan of Pacific Rim, you’ll enjoy this book. Just like the movie, it’s big, gorgeous and full of fun stuff.

McAvoy, Fassbender & Jackman – X-Men Wow!

Okay, this is just waaaaay too much awesomeness not to share.

Professor X, Magneto and Wolverine dancing! Or, I should say, James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender and Hugh Jackman dancing. The new X-Men movie, Days of Future Past is coming out Memorial Day Weekend and these three eye-popping eye candy were on the Graham Norton show promoting the movie.

I love all three of these actors (I still remember seeing James McAvoy for the first time in Syfy’s Children of Dune miniseries  where he played Leto Atreides the II and I saw Fassbender for the first time in 300  and he was hardly clothed). 🙂 And Jackman, well that six-foot two Aussie has always been on my hotty radar. 😀

Happy Monday!

Godzilla – Still King of the Monsters

Why has Godzilla endured for so long? Why is there a new Godzilla movie coming out this month on May 16th 60 years after the first Godzilla movie was released in 1954?

I’ll be honest. I was never a big Godzilla fan. I’d seen some of the movies, of course, and I even went to the theater to see the 1998 remake starring Mathew Broderick, but I can’t say I’m a fan.

As a matter of fact, yesterday was the first time I’d seen the 1954 movie, which featured Raymond Burr who, interestingly enough, appeared in scenes that had obviously been spliced onto the original Japanese version.,The film does show its age but, for all that, it was still quite compelling. While watching the scenes of Godzilla lumbering through Tokyo leaving mass destruction in its wake, I couldn’t help but think that, instead of being focused on “wiping out the vermin, us”, to borrow a quote from Pacific Rim, Godzilla seemed kind of lost and confused. I know, weird, but that’s what I felt.

There were scenes that I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that Gulliermo del Toro borrowed for Pacific Rim. For example, Godzilla rampages through a train yard and there’s a similar scene in Pacific Rim when the mecha Gypsy Danger is battling a kaiju that’s come ashore.  And, while watching the 1954 Godzilla, I couldn’t help but think of the horrific devastation that occurred only nine years prior in 1945 when atomic bombs were dropped on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which is I’m sure what motivated the filmmakers.

As has been noted in a recent NPR article about Godzilla, when the monster is finally defeated, there is a certain pathos to its destruction. Of course, as we all know, Godzilla rises again and again and again and subsequently goes on to appear in over two dozen films, with the newest version debuting this month.

Plus, there was this rather odd animated version  which came out in 1978.

I still haven’t yet decided if I’m going to go see the new Godzilla movie. I was totally underwhelmed by the 1998 version. Maybe I will. But, if I don’t, I’m sure I’ll catch it on Blu-Ray. Netflix is currently showing a slew of Godzilla movies, so if you’re jonesing for some Godzilla flicks, you can check them out there.

11 More Great Science Fiction & Fantasy Pets

My post yesterday about Data’s cat, Spot and Captain Archer’s dog, Porthos got me thinking about other animals in science fiction/fantasy movies and TV shows.

Here are eleven more of my favorites in no particular order:

1.  Einstein – Back to the Future 

Doc Brown’s dog Einstein was so beloved by the good doctor that it appears every dog he had, no matter the time period, he named Einstein.

2. Hedwig – Harry Potter

Loyal and fearless to the end, Hedwig was Harry’s companion through most of his years at Hogwarts.

3.  Ein – Cowboy Bebop

In the futuristic anime series, Cowboy Bebop, Ein (short, I’m sure, for Einstein) is a genetically enhanced Pembroke Welsh Corgi, who is very intelligent and immensely cute.

4. Hellboy’s cats

In the comics and the movies, there’s no doubt that the demonic looking Hellboy is a cat person. He loves cats. I mean, seriously LOVES cats.

5.  Jonesy – Alien 

Speaking of cats, is there any cat that was so loved by its owner? In the first movie of the Alien franchise, Ripley risks her life to go back for Jonesy even while there’s this acid-spitting, 8 foot tall murderous alien running about the ship. Now that’s devotion!

6. Toto – Wizard of Oz 

Not only does Toto get the plot going in Wizard of Oz (Dorothy runs away from the farm because that mean, dog-hating Elmira Gulch tries to take him away from her) but he’s loyal and brave and oh so cute.

8. Podo and Kodo – Beastmaster 

1982’s Beastmaster probably won’t go down in the annals of movie history as a great film, but it did have Marc Singer running around half-naked and he did have some really cool animals. He was, after all, master of beasts. The cutest, however, were his two ferrets, Podo and Kodo. They were like Toto. Brave and loyal and pretty cute to boot.

9. Tribbles – Star Trek

Tribbles, cute and fuzzy as they are, never really got on well with Klingons. They tended to go into a shrieking hissy-fit whenever one was around. As for the Klingons, they considered the troublesome creatures mortal enemies of the Klingon Empire and sent an armada of ships to destroy the tribble’s homeworld.

10. Gizmo – Gremlins

Another cute, fuzzy, adorable creature that proved to be quite troublesome. In the movie Gremlins, the father, after giving Gizmo to his son as a gift, tells him the three things he must do: (1) Keep it away from bright lights. (2) Never get it wet and (3) Never, ever feed it after midnight. Yes, you know what happens.

11. Direwolves – Game of Thrones

In Game of Thrones, all five of the Stark children get their own direwolf. So does Jon Snow, though he’s not a Stark, although he does have their blood. Rob has Grey Wind, Sansa, Lady, Arya’s direwolf is named Nymeria, Bran’s Summer, Rickon’s Shaggydog and Jon Snow’s Ghost. If you’ve been keeping up with either the books or the television series, you know the fates of some of these adorable pups. And that’s all I’ll say about that.

5 Movies I’ve Recently Watched

Five movies I’ve watched in the past week or so.

1. Pacific RimReviewed this movie. Still loving it. Except for you know who. Hint: Scientist guy with annoying voice.

2. Man of Steel – I really wanted to like this movie because c’mon, Henry Cavill is probably one of the best physical specimens to put on the red cape since Christopher Reeve did. But the movie was too long, too noisy, saddled with a rather overly complicated plot  that wasn’t all that interesting and with absolutely zero sexual/romantic chemistry between Cavill and Amy Adams as Lois Lane. Plus I also didn’t like the washed-out look of it. Everybody looked so pale and worn-out in the movie.

3. Live and Let Die

A rather ridiculous James Bond movie with some equally ridiculous characters, but it does have a very young and lovely Jane Seymour, a great title song by Paul McCartney and Wings and tarot cards!

4. The Great Gatsby

Reviewed this one also. Loved it!

5. Riddick

Seriously. Why was this movie even made? I really liked Pitch Black, the movie which introduced the character of Riddick. Chronicles of Riddick, however, was this big, bombastic space opera with absolutely no plot or at least the plot made absolutely no sense. With Riddick, you could definitely tell the budget for it had been slashed considerably from the second movie. Karl Urban, reprising his role from Chronicles,  appears at the beginning for about a minute or so and then is never seen again and, from then on, the movie is some kind of half-assed remake of Pitch Black. I cared about the characters in Pitch Black. I didn’t care if any of the characters in Riddick got eaten, gouged, slashed, disemboweled, whatever, by the monsters.

I did like the alien dog/jackal/hyena though.

Pacific Rim – A Slow Burn

I didn’t see Pacific Rim, directed by Guillermo del Toro, when it came out last summer. I had wanted to. I had planned to. Giant robots and even gigantic monsters! Anime fan that I am, having loved Neon Genesis Evangelion, I should have been first in line.

But I didn’t go see it. I finally got to see it later last year and, well, in all honesty, I wasn’t all that impressed.

But, and here’s a big but, I’ve seen the movie since then and it has slowly, ever so slowly, burned its way into my collective unconscious. I still have some problems with it, namely, that scientist guy with the extremely annoying voice and his equally annoying lack of comedic talent. But the rest of the movie I now love.

I love the look of it, the characters featured in it and, most of all, the massive fight scenes between the Jaegers, the gigantic human-controlled mecha and the Kaijus, monstrous creatures who have invaded our world from a breech in the floor of the Pacific Ocean.

I do wonder sometimes why some movies don’t quite hit the right nerve when we see them at  a particular time and then, when we chance upon them again, we find we like them after all.

Pacific Rim is what it is. A big, gorgeous SF spectacle of humanity fighting to survive when faced with what appears to be an unstoppable and unbeatable foe. I also like the multi-cultural look to it. It’s set in Hong Kong and the characters are from different nationalities, although since the breech is in the Pacific, it does focus on the countries that border the Pacific, e.g. China, Russia,  the United States, Japan and Australia.

I especially liked the character of Mako Mori, a rookie Jaeger pilot, played by Rinko Kikuchi. Mako lost her family when she was only a child in a Kaiju attack. She is determined to avenge their deaths. Mako is strong, but Kikuchi brings a touching vulnerability to the character that is sometimes lacking in “kick-ass” heroines.

Her mentor is Stacker Pentecost, played by the always impressive Idris Elba, who was a standout in Thor as Heimdal. Pentecost is very protective of Mako and we find out why during the course of the movie.

Charlie Hunnam plays Raleigh Becket, who starts out as a rather cocky Jaeger pilot who, after experiencing a tragedy early in the  movie, must learn to face his own inner demons.

Ron Perlman is also in the movie and he’s, well, he’s Ron Perlman. What more is there to say? He plays Hannibal Chau, a black market dealer in Kaiju organs. His part isn’t terribly essential to the plot, but it’s always a delight to see Perlman. I’m not surprised he was in the movie, as he played Hell Boy in Guillermo del Toro’s movie of the same name.

Another big plus is the great soundtrack by Ramin Djawldi, who has done such an impressive job with the music for the HBO series Game of Thrones.

Now, initially, on first viewing, I would have only given this movie two popcorn boxes. I’m going to give it three popcorn boxes now, however, because there are still some problems  that, honestly, could have been left by the wayside, i.e. the annoying scientist guy, who was really only in the movie to provide exposition about the Kaiju. Actually it’s probably more like 3 1/2 popcorn boxes, but I don’t have a half a popcorn box icon. I probably need to make one at some point. 🙂

popcorn, movies, films, reviews, movie ratings

popcorn, movies, films, reviews, movie ratings

popcorn, movies, films, reviews, movie ratings