Movie Challenge: favorite drama

 

4.) Your Favorite Drama
answer: The Shawshank Redemption

The first time I saw this movie in the cinema, I freaked myself out. I swore I was having a major case of Deja Vu because throughout the movie there were several instances when I knew what was going to happen before it did. and not like when you’re watching a poorly written story where you can predict what will most likely happen, in this case I knew specific events and even lines of dialogue! When I went home and told my mother, she laughed and said it was because I read the book. It’s a short story by Stephen King called ‘Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption’.

The story was part of a collection named ‘Different Seasons’. I read the book when I was 15 and I remember being shocked by the descriptions of prison life, particularly the ‘Sisters’ storyline. Coincidentally the book also contained the short stories that turned into ‘Apt Pupil’ and ‘Stand by Me’.

Andy: I have no enemies here.
Red: Yeah? Wait a while. Word gets around. The Sisters have taken quite a likin’ to you. Especially Boggs.
Andy: I don’t suppose it would help if I told them that I’m not homosexual.
Red: Neither are they. You have to be human first. They don’t qualify.

 

I may have initially forgotten about the book version of this story but the movie version stayed with me. I thought about it constantly, quotes from the movie that I could relate to on a personal level:

Red: I could see why some of the boys took him for snobby. He had a quiet way about him, a walk and a talk that just wasn’t normal around here. He strolled, like a man in a park without a care or a worry in the world, like he had on an invisible coat that would shield him from this place. Yeah, I think it would be fair to say… I liked Andy from the start.

Visual aspects that I found pleasing:

And just the general situation that Andy found himself in: serving a prison sentence for something that he didn’t do but felt like he caused to happen. So not only physically serving time but emotionally serving it as well, through guilt.

‘She was beautiful. God I loved her. I just didn’t know how to show it, that’s all. I killed her, Red. I didn’t pull the trigger, but I drove her away. And that’s why she died, because of me.’

 

I love many parts of this movie but I have two particular favorites. First, when Andy finds himself part of the work crew that is tarring the roof. He gives the main guard some financial advice, after being a little too blunt in his delivery and almost getting himself thrown off the building.

Andy: Mr. Hadley, do you trust your wife?’

 

In exchange, Andy requests that his friends get the chance to indulge in some bottled beer during one of their rest breaks. Andy didn’t partake himself, since it was alcohol induced decisions that got him stuck there in the first place, but he found comfort in watching his friends enjoy the treat.

‘We sat and drank with the sun on our shoulders and felt like free men.’

 

The second scene I really like, is when Andy finally gets his donation of books that he’s been requesting in order to update the prison library. Some music was also included in the shipment and so he locks himself in the Warden’s office and plays an Opera record over the main sound system. Visually speaking, the scene is beautiful: all of the prisoners who are out in the prison yard stop to listen in awe. and inside, Andy is laid back in the Warden’s chair taking in the beautiful sounds himself.

Andy knows what the consequences will be for pulling such a stunt, but he believes it was worth it. The consequence being, spending time in solitary confinement. Afterwards, his description of music resonates with me. I too value music as a gift, storing it in my head and bringing it out when needed, either out loud by singing/humming or in silence by just remembering.

That’s the beauty of music. They can’t get that from you…there’s something inside that they can’t get to, that they can’t touch. That’s yours.

 

The big reveal towards the end of the movie is very exciting and always leaves me feeling inspired, not only for Andy- with his patience and determination- but for his friend Red as well. I love a happy ending.

‘I hope to see my friend and shake his hand. I hope the Pacific is as blue as it has been in my dreams. I hope.’

 

next up: favorite comedy

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The Ticket

Have you ever watched a movie, read the reviews and interviews afterwards, and then wondered if you somehow saw a different version of it than everyone else? That’s what happened to me when I watched Dan Stevens in ‘The Ticket’. It’s an independent film that originally premiered at a film festival last year but recently released to a wider audience (including paid viewing online). So I missed what little press and promotion it did get, only becoming aware of it shortly before it’s recent release. Truthfully, I wasn’t sure I wanted to watch it because the premise seemed so sad. The trailer presented it as a blind man who regains his sight and starts chasing a more superficial lifestyle. He becomes an over-achiever at work, has an extramarital affair, leaves his family, and then eventually regrets it all.

The reviews I had seen regarding the film claimed it was predictable, long and boring… so of course I had to watch it! After finishing the movie, I felt sad because the people who wrote those reviews ended up missing the beautiful story that it tells, both visually and emotionally. It’s true that it wasn’t a happy story but I felt Dan’s character, James, got the short end of the stick in perceptions of him. I did not find him to be an asshole, or exceptionally greedy and selfish, like was described the promotional articles I had read. Instead, I found him to be very human in his reactions. I did not see the wife and best friend as clear cut victims of his arrogance either, taking no blame for the eventual downfall of their connected lives. What follows are my thoughts. There will be spoilers.

The movie begins in darkness, as you hear James and his wife interacting with each other while they prepare for bed. They seem to get along, are friendly and silly with each other, life is good. Except for a sigh from James as he walks outside to get some air before turning in for the night. I could feel his dissatisfaction, even though I couldn’t see it. The next morning James wakes up and realizes he can see.

The doctor says the tumor that had been blocking his vision since young adulthood had unexpectedly shrunk with no rhyme or reason to it. As James tries to re-acclimate as a person of sight, I spot three distinct hurdles for his new life.

Hurdle Number One: his wife, Sam, is not a team player and is used to being in control. she keeps secrets about their son’s well being from James. the son tells his father it’s because she didn’t want to bother James with it.

Hurdle Number Two: Bob, James’ best friend, who works with him as a telemarketer for a real estate company. Bob is also blind and is prideful about it, while also harboring secret affections for James’ wife.

Hurdle Number Three: James’ curiosity about other women. we first see this when the family is on vacation and James asks a woman to dance while visiting the hotel bar alone. it seemed innocent enough, Sam fell asleep and so he wandered down by himself. he sees all the couples dancing, which is how he and Sam first met and something they routinely do as a couple. James and the woman both establish that they are vacationing with their spouses, but he eventually asks her to dance. when they do, it’s a little too close and the whole incident feels very intimate. it was a dick move on James’ part, I’m not going to make excuses for him. the issue escalates with a female work colleague that James finds himself working alongside when he aspires to achieve something more at his job.

James and Sam are not getting along, now that he can see. While I don’t discount the view that James became a little too ambitious, suddenly wanting things that he voiced no desire for before, I don’t think it was a case of his new found sight corrupting him. I think he never strove for more because he simply thought it pointless. There’s a difference between contentment, and just making the most of what you’re given. And while I can sympathize with the wife’s plight of suddenly having her well ordered life turned upside down, they are married. Marriage (to me) means they are partners, not only in parenting their son but in their relationship with one another as well. I feel like Sam expected nothing to change, that she just thought James would relish in the wonder of sight as he went about his same routine. She didn’t expect that he would have talents that he could now utilize at work, that he would want to learn how to drive in order to be more self sufficient, that he would want to make decisions about their son and not have her undermine them behind his back. I think all of this played a part in his growing attraction to his coworker.

James was feeling coddled in his marriage and bitter about the fact that he didn’t realize it had been this way all along. Before they separated, James went to a work function and Sam didn’t come. James was giving his coworker some flirty glances during that party and you could definitely tell that something was building between them, but he didn’t cross that line until he moved out of the house (the timeline here wasn’t clear to me. I don’t know how long it had been after he moved into his own place that he and the coworker started sleeping together, and I don’t know if James and Sam were ever technically divorced during the course of the story). The night of the work function he asked Sam what she originally saw in him. why did she single him out at the dance when they first met? She said he looked miserable and she thought that maybe she could help. His response was that when you ask someone to dance it’s usually because you’re attracted to them, not because you pity them.

When James regained his sight not only did he become conscious of his looks

but Sam suddenly became conscious of hers too. She started wearing dresses, fussing over her hair, wearing jewelry, and jokingly claiming she had to look better now that he could see her. The small, neat life that Sam had created for them was unraveling. As someone who has been married for 20 years, I can sympathize with her loss of control, but I don’t think she was being fair to James. The next night they went out dancing because James had promised that he would but vowed, after her revelation, that it would be the last time. The scene at the dance was heartbreaking. The way they clung to each other on the dance floor, like they knew what was destined to happen and so they were hanging on for one final embrace. Then Sam told him if he leaves, he can’t come back. Neither one of them were making a true effort to fight for their marriage, they both gave up rather quickly. In telling James he can never come back, Sam basically pushed him out the door. and he went so willingly, like it was inevitable so why fight it?

The “novelty”, as his girlfriend later calls it, eventually wears off for James and he starts to lament what he gave up when he walked away. The coworker, while not a bad person, doesn’t really connect with James emotionally. The son doesn’t want to stay at his father’s house anymore and feels like a stranger to him now. Sam has thrown herself into exercising, and goes out dancing a lot. James shows up to one of these dances and sees that she’s dancing with Bob, the friend who tried to sabotage James’ project at work because he didn’t agree with his methods (the ethics of the project were questionable but it’s the way that Bob went behind James’ back to discredit it that was sketchy) James and Sam share a dance in which she assures him that she’s just dancing with Bob, it’s nothing more (even though it looks like it has the potential to be), because she would never take away his only friend. condescending much?

The somewhat predictable climax of the story, is that James loses his sight again. Dan Stevens really shines as he conveys James’ desperation here. From the vulnerable breakdown he has in his bedroom, to the argument with Bob (where Bob says that James had everything Bob had ever wanted and he threw it away), ending with his perilous journey to Sam’s doorstep where she tells him that she can’t take him back. The film ends with James wandering out into the field as the last of his vision completely fades. We see blackness again, and the surrounding sounds of the wilderness become amplified. Footsteps can be heard walking up behind him and then soft “shhh” noises of comfort.

Overall I found the story very moving. It left me contemplating the whys and hows of the dissolution of their marriage. The actions that could have prevented it, the different paths that could have been taken along the way, and also what might have happened afterwards. Through it all though I didn’t see James as the ‘bad’ guy, the selfish man who left his wife and family for bigger and better things. I didn’t see his wife as the ‘good’ guy, the understanding and supportive partner who had been done wrong, and I didn’t see Bob as the loyal friend who had to witness the downfall of his best friend’s second chance. I think they all could have done more, tried harder to understand, and just gave the situation more time.

The look of the film itself, I found pleasing to the eye. The soft hues were comforting (as was the cadence of Dan’s voice throughout), the landscapes familiar, and the structure of the story was just what it needed to be. It needed to be told in that way. We needed time to bond with James, to see the things that were bubbling under the surface in each of his relationships without them being thrust in our faces, fast and loud. I don’t think James regained his sight because he repeated a mantra every night saying how grateful he was, or that his sight was taken away again because he squandered his chance. Others may find spiritual lessons in the film, but I did not. I found human lessons, marriage lessons, identity lessons. Points I will continue to ponder, and hopefully learn from.

Sometimes Simple is Refreshing

I’ve talked about Jamie’s music and I’ve talked about his modeling but I’ve not really talked about his acting yet. I should probably do that, since he’s an actor and all.

ACTING
ACTING

 

I was familiar with Jamie Dornan from his (woefully) short stint on Once Upon a Time as the Sheriff. So when he was cast in Fifty Shades of Grey I was like, “hey, I know him!”

I could stay young & chipper and I’d lock it with a zipper, if I only had a heart
‘…if I only had a heart’

 

Fast forward to a few weeks ago when I was surfing the Net looking for clips of Christian Grey to help me decide if I was brave enough to see it in the movie theater.

while this is nice, no clothes at all brings out my blush. and since he's nekkid half the movie...
update: still not brave enough

 

It was then that I stumbled across The Fall and soon found myself enamored with a (fictional) serial killer. After I realized that it wasn’t just the character I was smitten with but the real life actor as well, I settled in for a YouTube marathon. And that is how I found Shadows in the Sun. I read a few comments about the film before I began watching. The prevailing opinion seemed to be that it was boring, with very little plot, but visibly appealing. So…like these blog posts, then?tumblr_nksqllbkyo1u8r1imo4_2501

Spoilers Ahead

(no seriously, I basically reveal the whole plot)

 

This is Joe:

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He’s a drifter who befriends an older lady by the name of Hannah. Joe likes to sit with Hannah and hear all her old stories (and smoke Weed with her); he keeps her company because she lives alone. Hannah is sickly, so they spend a lot of time in her bedroom.

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This concerned me at first but rest assured, this isn’t Harold & Maude. Though some humor could have brightened up the place…Hannah has a son who doesn’t like Joe much, but his children do. Hannah’s grandson, Sam, takes a liking to Joe and often meets up with him after Joe is done working odd jobs for the day.

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Sam’s older sister also takes a liking to Joe. She doesn’t just like him though, she like-likes him. So Joe brings her back to his love shack.

like Joe’s Crab Shack but without the crabs. well, maybe…
like Joe’s Crab Shack but without the crabs. maybe.

 

I kid! It was actually a very sweet encounter between Joe and Kate. Because Joe is kind of dreamy.

huggin and kissin, dancin and a lovin
‘huggin and kissin, dancin and a lovin’

 

But as Kenny Rogers once said, “don’t fall in love with a dreamer.” Joe has plans to make his way to America, so their love is bittersweet.

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Sam sees the two of them together and storms off in a huff. He’s had a lot going on, poor guy. His grandmother is dying, his dad is channeling Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde, and now his friend is starry-eyed for his sister. Yuck!

FYI: this is not “yuck”.
FYI: this is not yuck.

 

Sam runs off to the abandoned shipwreck, out on the sandbar, that he’s not supposed to go to. It’s getting late in the day and the tide will be coming in, so Joe goes out to bring him back. The tide comes in fast though and they get caught in it. Been there done that, and I do not recommend it.

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Joe and Sam almost drown but Sam gets pulled ashore by his father and an old fisherman. Meanwhile…where the frig is Joe?!

don’t mind me. just gasping for air, here.
don’t mind me. just gasping for air, here.

 

He eventually stumbles out with nothing but a slight head nod from the fisherman as thanks. Then Joe walks off and that’s pretty much the last we see of him. While it’s true that the plot was woefully underdeveloped, it reminded me of something I would have watched on a lazy Sunday afternoon as a kid. I liked that. Sometimes simple is refreshing.

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(Shadows in the Sun screen-caps made by me. other images/gifs made by people who actually know what they’re doing)

I Know I’ll Miss Him Forever

I found out yesterday that a friend from my High School days recently committed suicide. I don’t know the whys and hows (and I’m not sure I want to). I’ve not seen or talked to him in over 15 years, but it’s still pulling at my heart. We didn’t have a deep friendship, more of a “good buddy” mentality; it was just easy with him.

He had the cutest dimples when he smiled. I enjoyed watching him play street hockey with his friends because it lifted the sense of self-consciousness that seemed to weigh him down. At the time, he was the same height as I was but then when I ran into him a few years later, somehow he had shot up to over 6 ft! suddenly I had to look up to talk to him, how did that happen?! He friended me on Facebook when my kids were small. It was odd to see pictures of him as a man but still be able to see the boy inside, by the way he stood with his long lanky leg slightly turned in. and the dimples, they were still there too. All I really did on Facebook at that time was decompress by taking silly quizzes, and he only seemed to talk about sports, so I eventually lumped him in with “old acquaintances” that I unfriended when I did a grand sweep a few years back.

My favorite memory of him took place during my senior year of High School. The older students were let out of school a week early if their grades were up to par (as mine were). During a conversation the day before, he asked me what I was going to do with my new found freedom, while he was left suffering at school. I told him I needed to go into town early for a job interview. He teasingly said that I should get him food from McDonalds and bring it to him for lunch. I did just that and he was so shocked! I remember the look on his face, how it went from dumbfounded to elated in seconds. I received a hug for that good deed. and that was the last time I was ever really with him. We bumped into each other in passing once or twice over the next few years, and there was a phone call somewhere in there too but we drifted apart rather quickly. we had different friends, different responsibilities. life took us in different directions.

In my mind I had already said good-bye to the boy that I used to know, had never really gotten to know the man. I would think of him sometimes, wondering how things had turned out for him. In the few photographs I have of him he’s smiling, with his sweet boyish dimples. That’s how I’ll always remember him.

The closing monologue from the movie Stand By Me keeps running through my head:

It happens sometimes. friends come in and out of our lives like busboys in a restaurant. […] Although I hadn’t seen him for more than 10 years, I know I’ll miss him forever.

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