Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Pleasantville Revisit

Surprisingly I haven’t previously watched Pleasantville when it came out in 1998. The television, or the idiot box as Pierre Delacroix from Bamboozled would say, wasn’t a frequent babysitter as I was growing up, in result, I lack movie cultural significantly. Pleasantville was a very enjoyable movie; the soundtrack for the film is excellent. Masterpieces such as “At Last” by Etta James and “Take Five” by Dave Brubeck Quartet, are a few of my all time favorite songs. The way the music score complimented the flow of the movie is brilliant. For example, “Take Five” fits so perfectly during the scene when Tobey Maguire’s character frantically enters the local soda fountain owned by Mr. Johnson to finds everyone to be dead silent looking at him. They all had curious questions of what exists outside of Pleasantville. Tobey’s character attempts to describe the customs of the 1990s, what the true occupation of a firefighter is and roads outside of Pleasantville don’t continue in an infinite circle. He continues to tell stories of classic novels such as The Adventure of Huckleberry Finn to his strongly captivated audience. The soundtrack, “Take Five,” is so fitting for this moment because the distinctly different yet catch tune emphasized what the citizens of Pleasantville were experiencing.
The idea of color in this movie reminds me of the concept of color in the novel Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson. Where black, white and grey represents dull living in contrast to colorful life. There is a social reference in the film about segregation, a shot of a shop or restaurant with a sign stating No Colors. The literally and figurative meaning of this sign is priceless. The impact of color in all these forms of medias helped me realize that I too can utilize color more to invoke an emotion and to relay a deeper meaning in my art. Overall I love this movie, for more than just my love for vintage 1950s lifestyle, but for the historical revisit, the satirical elements and the underlying message of there is no right way to live life. Yes we might live in a dysfunctional world, but the beauty of life is moving and passionate.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Mythic Fiction and Contemporary Urban Fantasy

Big Fish directed by Tim Burton was such a delight to watch. The film was a nice break from the very extreme movies I have been watching lately. Even though the movie contains fantasy like details, its still light hearted. The story revolves around the main character Edward Bloom and his son who struggles to understand his father. Will, Edward's son, doesn't believe any of his father's stories and finds it annoying his father can't states a simply true fact about his life. Edward Bloom argues that he has been stating fact all this time and says to his son that he can't accept him for who he is, a storyteller. Will wants to understand his father because he is soon to have a son and doesn't want the same problem occur to him. When Edward is in the hospital on the brink of death, he ask his son to tell a story about how it all ends. Once so, Edward passes away with happiness that his son finally understands him and his passion for storytelling. Edward Bloom continues to live on through his stories. This is just the underlying story line. The southern gothic fantasy stories Edward Bloom lives is like a dream. The town he comes across by going through a treacherous road has a familiar eeriness of the underground town in the film The Boy and His Dog. But much more pleasant and no killer robot Michael. The town, Spectre, has the delightful and whimsical qualities of Rivendell in the novel the Hobbit. Another detail of the film I like is the idea of a monogamous relationship. Edward Bloom encounters the love of his life and does everything possible to get the chance to see her again. The daffodils part is so pretty but also creepy. When Edward rebuilds Spectre after bankruptcy, Jenny makes an advance onto Edward which he turns down because he is only in love with one woman and wishes to remain faithful to her. As fluffy and dreamy Edward's love for Sandra, it is a pity monogamy is such a frivolous idea in modern culture.  

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Being John Malkovich

Incredibly strange movie, I wasn’t quiet sure what to expect from this film directed by Spike Jones, but I was definitely not expecting this. In the beginning, I wasn’t sure if I liked how the movie was going but towards the end as things got crazy, I found myself laughing. I dislike Craig’s personality; he is very selfish and unfaithful towards his wife, actively persuing Maxine at the work place. The whole story is out of this world, people working on Floor 7 ½, people jumping through a portal to be John Malkovich and a married couple in love with the same person. Everyman for himself is portrayed frequently in the movie. Charlie Sheen cameo in the film is a laughable element. There is a replacement theme within the movie. Lotte replacing her want of children with pets, Craig replacing his puppets with actual people, and eventually people replacing people. Being John Malkovich is a major overload on content, the deteriorating marriage between Craig and Lotte is already a conflict, now throw in the challenges of prolong life. The character development of Maxine is a little bit surprising; she is portrayed to be a manipulative diva and grows to feel love with Lotte essentially softening her character. The ending was satisfying. Maxine and Lotte together raising their indirect child with Craig trapped in the little girl’s conscious.  One pondering thought about the outcome of the film was why was the ending unfavorable to Craig only? Being John Malkovich was one of those movies that left me saying, what did I just watch? but in a positive way.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Black&White to Color

Surprisingly I haven’t previously watched Pleasantville when it came out in 1998. I lack movie cultural significantly, the television wasn’t a frequent babysitter in my childhood. Pleasantville was a very enjoyable movie; the soundtrack for the film is excellent. Like “At Last” by Etta James and “Take Five” by Dave Brubeck Quartet, one of my all time favorite songs. This song fits so perfectly during one of my favorite parts of the film when Tobey Maguire’s character enters his work place, the local soda fountain owned by Mr. Johnson, and finds everyone to be dead silent looking at him. They all have curious questions of what exist outside Pleasantville. Tobey’s character attempts to describe the customs of the 1990s, what firefighters occupation actually is and begins to tell stories of classic novels such as The Adventure of Huckleberry Finn to his strongly captivated audience. The jazz piece “Take Five” is so fitting for this moment is because the distinctly different yet catch sound emphasized what the citizens of Pleasantville were experiencing.
The idea of color in this movie reminds me of the concept of color in the novel Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson. Where black, white and grey represents dull living in contrast to colorful life. There is a social reference in the film about segregation, a shot of a shop or restaurant with a sign stating No Colors. The literally and figurative meaning of this sign is priceless. Overall I love this movie, for more than just my love for vintage 1950s lifestyle, but for the historical revisit, the satirical elements and the underlying message of there is no right way to live life. Yes we might live in a dysfunctional world, but the beauty of life is moving and passionate.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Happy Halloween

With Halloween spirits in the air, I decided to be festive and read Ray Bradbury's novel, The Halloween Tree. The film adaptation of The Halloween Tree aired frequently on Cartoon Network used to be one of my favorite films I watched as a child. I thought it would be nice to re visit to the past and read the book that was the back bone of my limited television exposure. The story beginnings with a group of friends gathering to go trick or treating on a Halloween night and discover one friend, Pip the greatest boy who ever lived, to be missing. They find Pip still at home not in costume and noticed something is horribly wrong. Pip sends them ahead trick or treating, “ready set go,” to a very spook mansion of Mr. Moundshroud. Standing next to the home is a massive Halloween tree filled with lit pumpkins, each with a different face. The boys encounter the cunning Carapace Clavicle Mounndshroud and take his offer to go on an adventure to solve two mysteries, the history of Halloween and to find and save Pip.

After reading this novel, I was very motivated to do further research of the origins of Halloween, Day of the Dead, and All Saint's Day. Modern American culture lacks the back bone to Halloween. We forgot why we dress up the way we do or the reasons we celebrate. Ray Bradbury illustrated very important historical events and customs that shaped Halloween to what it is today. In America, Halloween is about dressing up, watching a bunch of slasher movies and eating copious amounts of junk food. Tradition and values are forgotten in America when it comes to Halloween. Ray Bradbury takes the reader into ancient times, as far back as to the caveman and showing the experience and meaning of Halloween, the turning of seasons and the struggle of survival. He continues through Egypt, Ancient Greek, Mexico and much more. All of these civilizations celebrated and showed appreciation through recognition to the dead. One would assume since America is a cultivation of all cultures and nationalities, traditions of Halloween would carry over. Sadly enough they are lost.

The film adaptation of The Halloween Tree is a little bit different from the novel. Instead of eight boys, the group is changed to three boys and one girl. In the novel, the eight boys behaved rather barbaric and rowdy. The addition of Jenny was a peculiar decision, she introduced a different element into the story. Mr. Moundshroud is more likable in the novel, he is more of a trickster than a business man. The film shows how time has changed since the 1970's.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Howl's Moving Castle

The book was a little difficult to get into at first, but then I found my self not being able to put the book down. My favorite part of the book was at the end when the twist of Miss Lily Angorian was revealed to be the Wicked Witch of the Waste fire demon by Howl. The book has so many intertwined relationships, I wish that quality carried more over to the movie, which I watched afterwards. I vaguely remember the movie which made reading the book much easier without the pre context. The different worlds Diana Wynne Jones describe are all distinct and different. She takes you across this world filled with different environments, the quaint bustling town which Sophie was raised in, the vast luxuriousness and promptness of Kingsbury, and the oven hot harsh wilderness of the Waste. In the book, I missed the development of Sophie's feelings for Howl and vice versa. I did see the two bonding and the relationship growing stronger but I missed those feelings evolving into something more romantic. Sophie did reject the idea of Howl having feelings for her multiple times telling herself she wasn't pretty enough. In the book Diana Wynne Jones has Howl chasing after multiple pretty girls, making it appearing Sophie was the last thing on Howl's mind. In the film, Hayao Miyazaki choose to eliminate the active roles of these girls and focused on the interaction between Howl and Sophie.

I enjoy Diana Wynne Jones creation of her story. Hayao Miyazaki recreation Howl's Moving Castle is very different from the novel; the story has evolved to be more of his own. The film's plot is heavily influenced by World War I with battleships and aircrafts elements. Miyazaki represent Howl to be the anti war hero and all about make love not war. He incorporates different problems in the plot, shifting the conflict between man verse man, to man verses war. There are also a lot of character changes and shift of roles, but the general idea of the relationships are still present. Both Howl and Sophie broke their curses with the power of love.

Thursday, October 20, 2011


I found myself not being able to put Brandon Sander's Warbreak down. So many interesting twists and character relationships being developed. I felt the story dragged here and there. The author definitely took advantage of grabbing your attention then letting you wait around to hear more. Between the two main characters, Siri, the youngest sister, is more fascinating, for she had more spunk and character where her older sister Vivenna was dull and boring like her country, Idris. She eventually developed a personality towards the end of the book, when she no longer views herself as Princess Vivenna, but Vivenna the Awakener. I was taken by complete surprise about how the two sisters switched roles in the novel. Both were raised entirely differently, yet developed to be totally opposite people. Siri is such a lovable character, genuine and true. How she rebels without having an intention to hurt people and passion for life makes the reader love her like an energetic child running around. The relationship that develops between the God King and Siri is absolutely heart touching, especially when the God King motions Siri to read a children book to him. The culture depicts the god to be ruthless and menacing when in actuality he is an innocent man with a pure heart. Siri matures as an individual being the God King's wife. She learns to be on her own and important. Most of all she learns to feel needed by the God King, something she lacked when she was a princess of Idris.

Brandon Sander's depiction of color is very intriguing. A country lacking color and another full of saturated colors. He shows life without color is dull, boring and lacks life its self and shows the complete opposite where color makes life. He creates a world where color can be intensified by breath and the multiple heightening. Also color can be taken away by extreme means. This piece of literature provoked me to think about color influence on people's life and how powerful it can be. As an artist I have to use color to my advantage and impact people. Brandon Sanders also integrates themes of politics and religious conflict which is nice to read taken out of the context of reality and learned about in a different perspective.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Farenheit 451 the Movie

I've always wanted to read Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, I absolutely love dystopia books. The original book was written in 1953 and the movie was made in 1966 directed by Francois Truffaut. The general synopsis of the story is about a fireman burning books in an oppressive society and begins to be curious of why he is doing so. The situation of Fahrenheit 451 is very similar to the novel Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwells. The environment is much different and so is the control of authority. In Nineteen Eighty-Four, living was grungy and freedom was limited. People were constantly watch by “Big Brother” and recreational actives were essentially nonexistence. In Fahrenheit 451, people live fabulously with luxurious items and drugs. Both stories had controlled media and the television was the main focus of everyday life.

The main focus was how television corrupts people and destroy's peoples interest in reading books. When the wife is introduced in the film, she is glued to the television. Montag brings home good news of a promotion and she responds in a impersonal manner and also delayed. Linda is a very bland person, only focused on being popular, materialistic and constantly on drugs. Drugs is a common thing is this story, as well as overdosing. People don't get arrested for taking drugs, instead they get arrested for reading books. The other main female in this movie is Clarissa, a book reader, who is “well of words.” Those who read are well cultured and actually have thoughts that are not controlled by the media. I watched the film twice; once to amerce my self in the film and the second to observe closer and to take notes. I didn't notice the first time that Linda, Montag's wife, and Clarissa was the actress, the hair cut totally fooled me.

The two groups of people in the film are very different. Those who break the law live in shambles, living out in the cold in rags while those who follow the law are leaving luxurious life of fabricated happiness. Which is better? To live a life drugged up and only knowing of false happiness or a life full of emotions enhanced by literature?

The Hero's Journey

I've read a little bit of The Hobbit by JR Tolken when I was young, but not enough to remember. Nor have I watched Lord of the Rings trilogy entirely. Maybe this is a good thing since nothing from the movies can spoil the book. Picking up this book again was very enjoyable though. The book was easy to read and attention grabbing for there was something always happening. Tolken's descriptions were simple to follow and just the right amount of detail to imaging what was going on. Not too much to the point where you forget what is being describe and just enough to get the big picture and keep the story moving. My favorite environmental description is of Baggins home in the Shire. His home sounds incredibly cozy and lovely. I would not mind the life of a hobbit. Especially their eating behaviors, multiple meals a day of a wide assortment is a dream come true. The food and drinks Tolken describes are so delectable.

The development of Bilbo Baggins character is a true representation of the Hero's Journey. According to Joseph Campbell's chart of the Hero's Journey, also known as Monomyth, involves three stages; departure, initiation, and the return. The stepping out of the comfort zone into the unknown and learning about one self and abilities makes the comfort zone dull and boring. The journey equips the traveler with new found wisdom and responsibility but leaves the traveler craving for more adventure and unsatisfied with the comfort life style. Once the traveler is out in the wild, he doesn't want to go back to the simple life. Bilbo Baggins experiences bliss and enlightenment and is required an outside force to bring him back down. The refusal to return is a difficult journey within its self. How to integrate back into everyday life and to have experience something great in the supernatural world. The solution to this stage is to become a master of both worlds and learn how to share his findings in his home world. By using a fictional fantasy setting, the author can create a scenario for the reader to get lost into. A chance to observe life in a different environment. Many of the challenges Bilbo Baggins face are similar challenges we face in our life. As we read more of Bilbo Baggins adventure we learn more about our selves.

Japanese Horror

This is my first time reading anything in this genre. When I think of Japanese Horror, I immediately think of Silent Hill video games, Resident Evil and Castlevania. My all time favorite Japanese horror games since childhood is Parasite eve, two game which were release for playstation and additional game recently release for the PSP called Third Birthday. These games are actually based of a novel by Hideaki Sena. The story is more biochemical horror rather than myths and legends. Parasite Eve played a major role in bringing japanese horror literature to modern America. The book also one the first Japan Horror Novel Award. I recommend reading this book, its starts slow in the beginning but give it a chance. 

Unfortunately, I could not get my hands on the required reading, A Wild Sheep Chase by Haruki Murakami. Instead I read the alternative or additional Reading Kwaidan: Stories and Studies of Strange Things by Lafcadio Hearn. I read all seven recommended stories: The Story of Mimi-Hashi-Hoichi, Diplomacy, Of a Mirror and a Bell, Jikiniki, Mujina, Rokura-Kubi. Reading his stories were difficult at first because of the foreign names and words that were exclusive to the language. They are all simple stories, but very enjoyable to read. All of his stories have a similar structure, beginning with location of the story, the legend of the location, and the main character along with his or her occupation; very cut and dry. The author is still captures the reader, even within a few paragraphs, most of his stories are a few short pages. Each of his stories have one key element, the shock factor, which leaves an last impression on the reader. The relationships that are developed between the characters are simple yet deep.

My favorite stories from the seven are The Story of Mimi-Hashi-Hoichi, Diplomacy, and Jikiniki. His other stories are just as enjoyable, these three had the biggest impression on me. The relationship between Hoichi, the blind man who performed historical recitations with his four sting lute, and the priest is very touching in The Story of Mimi Hashi Hoichi. When Hoichi has his ears ripped oh by the ghost samurai, its rather impressive how he doesn't scream in agony. In Diplomacy, the lead samurai's wittiness is admirable. He has the right character traits of a true leader, he doesn't flinch at fear and he doesn't make foolish actions.

In Japanese culture, from what I have gathered from these short stories, is heavily wrapped in legends, myths and karma. How you treat others and honestly feel, reflects how life will treat you in return. If you are respectful towards people and are well mannered, your goodness will be rewarded. In contrast to Japanese myths, American stories are more about conquering and wealth. Good morale and honor isn't as prominent in American culture. Its also fascinating how ghosts and demons exist in Japanese culture. These elements act as a medium to convey morals supernaturally yet apply to normal people.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Why do we love vampires so much?

Anne Rice aided in the development of the vampire, from a macho monster to an emotional male archetypes in her novel Interview with the Vampire. This is quite the leap from previous horrific illustration of vampires. Bram Stoker depicts his vampire to be a creature of deception and dark blood. Vampires from early 20th century are on a mission to toy with humans for their own pleasure. They could careless about hurting peoples feelings. Present day vampires from series such as Twilight are given human characteristics, they crave companionship and life. Only way vampires from Twilight are dangerous because they break hearts. If Dracula were to encounter Edward Cullen, he would be repulsed by the development of his kind and would call him a fairy. The vampire role has shifted from being the villain to being the beloved hero. Vampires used to represent the fear and realities of society, now they entertain our fantasies and aid us in forgetting our daily problems. Instead of being a villain and stealing the hero's lover, the vampire is now the hero and the girl instantly falls in love with him.

Coincidently, its been a rather vampiresque week in my household, between watching True Blood and discussing their supplementary book the Sookie Stackhouse series by Charlaine Harris. I found the television series to be more dramatic and shocking compared to the books. The books were milder and much more romantic. Yet its over the top and risque compared to Bram Stoker, which was considered to be pushing the envelope for its time. Popular literature today is written for profit rather than its art. Media is all about entertainment and giving people everything they want to see, sex and gore. The characters in these vampire show all show pain and are yearning for a companion, but miserably fail or have a monstrous struggle. Modern day vampires are like humans running around raging for sex. People strive for love and go on this life mission fighting with it. People want to have love but are to selfish to give into it; to be loved rather than to love is current generation mindset. We live in a world of now, mass production, and easily accessible information but consequently a world of waste and a disposable society. Once something no longer satisfies us, we immediately dispose of it and just as quickly find something else to give us our fill. Our country might claim to be independent, but we are still dependent on something else to make us happy. People are becoming the vampire, sucking the joy and happiness on a source, then swiftly trashing it.

Monday, September 5, 2011


Monster Island by David Wellington is the first zombie literature I've ever read and surprisingly it wasn't bad at all. The online novel is a light read but keeps you on your toes. David Wellington knows how to capture the reader and feed us the right visuals. My favorite character is Gary the medical student; he is a nice refreshing twist to stereotype zombies. In epidemic like this, you either become the zombie or it's food. Gary's solution to this problem was to become a zombie with freewill still intact. He manages to do so by submerging himself in a tub filled with ice water and equipping himself with a respirator, pumping oxygen to his brain while his body dies and undergoes the process of becoming a zombie. Wellington describes the world's end from a zombie's point of view and what drives them and how they feel. Usually when it comes to the topic of zombies, you see the survivors' stand point, struggling to fight off the persistent undead and losing loved ones. In Monster Island, you get the chance to see both sides, the living and undead. Wellington gives you insight on Gary's thoughts, his struggles and temptations.

My favorite visual David Wellington conveys is when Dekalb and his shipmates enter one of New York's bay, they run into heaps of bodies dumped in the water. David Wellington describes it “...there had been to many dead for even the sea to accept” (chapter 6). In natural science, all life comes from the sea. The infection has mutated life so extensively, the sea wont accept the copious quantities of unnatural creatures. Another funny addition to Monster Island is the army consisting of young girls in school uniforms swinging around AK-47. Reminds me of a ridiculous video game Onichanbara, which is about two sisters slaying zombies. The army of girls fill the sex icon quota of a typical story formula. Zombies in relation to today's world represents society hunger for mass media and products. The mass market is highly infectious and spreads instantaneously. Survivors in zombie flicks reflects the rebels doing everything they can withstand it, but eventually give in. David Wellington feeds our hunger for zombies with a breezy and concise style.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


Frankenstein by Mary Shelley was a novel more about the horrors of man rather than the horrors of the supernatural. The focus of the book isn't on the hideous creation, but the creator himself. Mary Shelly conveyed man to be their own destroyer. Man's obsession of power is corrupting concluding to irreversible catastrophe. Victor Frankenstein crave for knowledge is outstanding, but when out of hand and unchecked, his genius mind becomes twisted. Man's free will leads to mischievous actions and tragedies. When Frankenstein attends the university in Ingolstadt, he excels astonishingly. Victor Frankenstein engrossed himself in his studies and eventually became fixated with the unnatural. He collects lifeless body parts and brings animation to a creature, beautiful in the eyes of science, but appalling to society. Stunted from his own abilities, he goes into shock and illness. He leaves his monstrous creation, not even considering the terror it impose on other citizens. Frankenstein gave life thoughtless to dead matter. Humans act without considering the consequences. Not only does Victor turns away from his creation, he fails to take action when the monster takes away everyone dear to him. When you delay taking care of a problems or mistake, it comes back ten fold. Even though this book was written during early nineteenth century, humans are still the same. Different time, yet same behavior and problems. Moral of story be wise and not rash.

Like similar novels in the Classic Goth genre, the main character is usually from a stable and blissful family and then horrors are cast into there lives, usually inflicted by themselves when their curiosity ventures into deranged realms. Victor's family was joyous and thankful, but his obsession to create life caused him to lose his loved ones and ultimately his own. Another example is Bram Stoker's Dracula, Jonathan Harker is conflicted with the conservative sexuality in Victorian culture. He too has a satisfactory job and a devoted fiancee, essentially the good life. One curiosity Mary Shelly left me was the creation of the monster. I wish she went a little more in depth about Frankenstein's discovery, but I understand that wasn't the centerpiece of the novel. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this piece of literature. Don't mess around with mother nature.

In Class Exercise:

What elements make up Horror?


Mad Scientists




Dark Castle




The unusual








Wooden Stakes

Scary music