Category Archives: 2012

FAW: Ruby Sparks (2012)

tumblr_mj3uoqFwGd1ruxjroo2_500 tumblr_mj3uoqFwGd1ruxjroo3_500Films, for me, are an escape route. Much like books, they hold the wild stories of others, safe for me and my mind. Sometimes a film comes along that challenges that. Ruby Sparks made me want to write and never stop, not letting me rest. Chris said that it cures any writer’s block and I think I’m getting my hands on a tangible Blu-Ray copy of this because it did.

I liked a lot of things they did with this; like Calvin’s disbelief that she was real; the way he got mad at his mum; the scenes where Calvin blankly stared over the typewriter; Calvin’s awkwardness overall; Ruby’s youth montage; and the part where Calvin yells at his ex1. He was so damn believable, the controlling self-centred writer – they are somewhat stereotypical but usually lack the plausibility. Paul Dano does an excellent  job on this one, though.

It is remarkably surprising how dark the film got. I was disappointed some half hour in because every time a film has an introduction and then has a cliché montage of overjoyed everything-is-going-perfectly dazed happiness2, I know what’s going to happen next. Ruby Sparks shook me out of it right away, though, because it simply carried me along, keeping me hooked. It was rather amazing. The darker scenes were excellent, too, manic and depressing and exceptionally sad all at once.

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Ruby and Calvin together were incredibly natural. It couldn’t have been any other way because they fit.3 Zoe Kazan (Ruby) wrote the script which makes it all the more amazing and of course, rises the question of how much real life is in the film.

The tagline is marvellous, too: she’s out of his mind. I’m not sure how but it somehow captures the entire being of the film.

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1 powerful!
2 first, it’s cliché; and second, it reminds me of the rollercoaster setting of film scripts. I found it when writing for Script Frenzy and it ruined a lot of the mystery in films for me.
3 one of the reasons might be that their actors are dating in real life.

Tension and aesthetics: Vampire Diaries season 3

The idea for this post sparked in me after I’d lost any interest in Vampire Diaries because I was too much of a Supernatural fan – so I thought I’d rewatch my favourite season of TVD. It gave me a lot of ideas and I thought I’d share some. Worth a read even if you don’t watch the show.

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My favourite episode of any show ever might just be The End of the Affair (S03E03). I wake up at 5 am on Fridays if Vampire Diaries airs and watch it in the morning before school. I remember it was dark in the early morning and I was still cold from the walk I had with my dog just before watching the episode and I just sat behind my computer, staring at the screen open-mouthedly. It was beautiful.

It was the general theme of season three for me: the endless, captivating beauty. One of the greatest things about Vamp Diaries are the flashback episodes and what makes them so great is that they capture the era exceptionally well. Episode 3 was set in Chicago in the 1920s and hell, it was authentic. In it was the first appearance of Claire Holt1 (frankly, her plausibility became scarcer over the season but she did excellently in this) and the first episode to truly mark the beginning of ‘The Season of the Originals’, as it was called.

tumblr_lxzrieKFCT1qdz3mzo5_250 tumblr_lxzrieKFCT1qdz3mzo6_250tumblr_lxzrieKFCT1qdz3mzo4_250 tumblr_lxzrieKFCT1qdz3mzo3_250Other aspect of beauty in season three were the dances, balls and whatnot – plot-wise, it’s far-fetched how many events a town can hold but they’re usually decade-themed or have enough aesthetics to make up for the dubious setting. Not that these episodes are bad story-wise – they are usually good (for example, Dangerous Liaisons was a really good episode2) but I love the beautiful part most.

In my sidebar, I say that I crave tension, and this is something I learned from season 3. It gets so intense that breathing becomes secondary and heart rates go up. These episodes don’t give you time to relax. They’re fast-paced and constantly demanding all your attention. Truthfully – they are draining to watch. It feels like keeping your breath for forty-two minutes.

Though there are some characters whose storylines get slightly absurd (like for Tyler and Jeremy leaving town), it doesn’t bother much because there are so many amazing characters whose narratives are genius. I’m talking about Alaric here – if we’d be to skip episodes 4–5, he would be flawless.

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Alaric’s story had me cry harder than anything when watching the finale. Frankly, the finale was heartbreaking in its’ essence but Ric… GOD NO I WON’T DO THIS TO MYSELF. Overall, the finale was one of the strongest I’ve seen. Flashbacks were used incredibly here, too.

The third TVD feature, explicit in season 3, is sexiness. I would put it nicely but… I really don’t know how to. We have some hot characters (i.e. the entire cast) and then there are intrigues and a lot of relationships. Rewatching this season I even faintly understood Stefan and Elena as a couple – because I used to see zero chemistry there. I see it now: it’s there. It’s not as impressive as hers with Damon’s or as Caroline’s with both Tyler and Klaus but it definitely exists. Bluntly: you get to see a lot of hot make-out sessions with tangible chemistry.

Some of the highlights of the season: Elena’s anti-vamp training in Smells Like Teen Spirit, the kiss scene in The New Deal, (me knowing every event’s episode by name), the entirety of The Homecoming, Klaus’s wrath in The Hybrid, Anna and Jeremy; and Matt and his sister Vicky. An amazing season full of amazing episodes, even for a disliker of vampires-related stories (like me). 

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1 who I know from the Australian show H2O, which was a huge favourite of mine when I… uh, watched different television. Not crappy. Different.
2 like the conversations during only one dance – one of the most effectual Klaus and Caroline talks yet, plus the Matt-Rebekah and Stefan-Elena-Damon relations got new perspective.
3 and breakfast cereal gets soaked. What? I watch TVD in the morning. I eat. So sue me.

Great Expectations (2012)

great-expecations-2Honestly: this was an incredibly uncomfortable film experience. First, my bag of candy made an awful noise when I carefully tried to withdraw some. It was awkward. The four other people in the theatre looked at me. I think. I cannot say for sure as I hid my eyes in shame. And the film sucked.

I went to see this because I had four hours of free time when on a literature competition in a strange city – I was alone, bored, the weather was awful, and I always like seeing films in theatres. Or at least I used to.

I would talk more about my adventures in the foreign city1 to postpone the film talk but might just as well get over with it. I did not like Great Expectations.2 At all. I’ve never read anything of Dickens’ that’s not a children’s book but I was hoping this would lead me to it (and frankly, I was expecting something grand and elegant like The Great Gatsby – or how I imagine it to be, at least) but I was greatly disappointed. How do I say it? It sucked.

How good can a film be (even with Ralph Fiennes3) if the two main plots are far-fetched? Scarce chemistry between those in love have ruined good pairings before – and honestly, this pairing wasn’t even good. Even though I adored 5-year-old Pip, his admiration for Estella weren’t authentic from the beginning (whereas for Joe, it was). I saw Pip much humbler than he was, I guess, especially with the teenage Pip. For me, he turned into a brat without any character. The line “what will be my occupation” – was one of the few that seemed in place.

The other part I just didn’t get was the relationship between Pip and Magwitch. Magwitch’s devotion was mostly justified but Pip’s bipolar attitude was, again, far-fetched. I could say that it was just my antipathy toward Pip but then again, I liked him on a few occasions – namely when he was with Herbert Pocket (Olly Alexander) – these were the few scenes in the film I liked. Herbert was my favourite character by far – he was charming, his (second) introduction was awesome and he had some of the best lines. He had the exactly right amounts of compassion, humour, quirkiness and wit in him.

great-expecationsNeither that, nor the strong ending, though, were enough to save the film, though. Magwitch’s story, interesting as it was, was rushed, and Pip’s presence made it worse.4 Pip and Estella’s relationship portrayal took up too much time – time that could have been spent on Magwitch and Compeyson, another part which was left unclear. They handled Havisham much better, though – Helena Bonham Carter was made for the role and that was one part of the film that really did feel complete and all in all, lovely with its surreal sadness.

In the end, I have nothing more to say but to agree with Robbie Collin – “Great Expectations is about as comfortable as a very fat man sitting in a very small aircraft seat.”


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1
I only got lost once! It was incredible – I tend to get lost more in one day in my own home town.
2 can we move on now? No? Alright then.
3 um, and along with half of Harry Potter’s cast? Robbie Coltrane was perfect in his role and I liked Jessie Cave (who played Biddy – and Lavender Brown in Harry Potter) and when there was the food fight scene (is it obvious how little I understood that part yet?) I thought that all the British kids are exactly the right age to be there – guess I was right.
4 nobody cares, Pip.