Sunshine Blogger Award…Thank You!

SunshineManiacs and Monsters (here) has nominated my for a Sunshine Blogger Award. Thank you so much. For this round though, I’m going to be taken out of my comfort zone. Because, Maniacs and Monsters, I’m such a scaredy-cat when it comes to Horror. Yet, somehow this genre is coming to haunt me these days…recently I entered the Gothic Horror Blogathon where the banner tempted me to watch Crimson Peak (but am totally too scared to start it), I’ve had 28 Days Later on my To Watch list for ages (but am totally too scared to start it) and now, because things come in threes, you’ve given me some horror related questions. I think I need to stop being such a wuss and tackle a genre that, believe it or not, as a teen I had no problem watching (or reading).  (And I’ve just checked my watch list and seen that I’ve watched almost 40 horror movies in my time…so maybe it is simply a matter of getting back into it).

Here goes…

…starting with those rules:

  1. Thank the person who nominated you and provide a link to their blog.
  2. Answer the eleven questions from the blogger who nominated you.
  3. Nominate eleven bloggers.
  4. Create eleven new questions for your nominees to answer.

…and here we go:

Thanks Maniacs and Monsters. I appreciate the nomination but also for giving me a push to the horror genre. Here are the questions of yours:

  1. Do you consider yourself a fan of horror, adverse to horror, or a patron of any genre including horror if it is entertaining? Well, when I first started writing this post I was a “oh, I can’t watch horror these days. I won’t sleep at night” person, probably the “any genre…if it is entertaining” approach. But, the more I think back and see what I used to watch…I’m actually probably a fan. I just need to get back into it. To stop being scared. To just watch this stuff and enjoy like I used to! But, I just can’t watch those gruesome, blood and guts torture horror movies. That for me, is just sick.

  2. What is the first horror film you remember watching and what was your reaction? This is going to be a very strange answer…because I actually don’t know what it was and I’ve been trying to find recently (another sign that maybe I’m ready for horror again). So…let me explain: my parents had Super 8 movies salvaged back 220px-Candymanposterwhen Video came out. Amongst them was some black and white horror movie with, I think, a vampire. All I can remember is something moving under a floor of straw (later to have may parents say they must have pulled something underneath it to give the effect). Oh, and I’m sure there was a barn of sorts. Someone screaming? What can I say? A black and white movie that has the reels whirring in the background and creepy vampires biting people, that’s got to be scary. But, strangely enough, I’d watch it over and over.
    Then came Candyman…I remember being so damn scared and to this day won’t whisper the name five times while looking into a mirror (that was the summoning, wasn’t it? Or did I remember it incorrectly?). But as a teen, it was awesome!
  3. What is your opinion of real world paranormal activities such as ghosts, spiritualism, UFOs, cryptozoology, or extrasensory perception? I definitely think there is something out there, something we can’t explain, something that doesn’t necessarily conform to the “normal” world as science might try explain. I do also think that many stories and myths had some form of explanation behind them. Possibly many were not as outrageous as we think but there were probably some truths to them. As for spiritualism…yes, there are signs we get that can’t be logically explained and that come with a purpose. I’m not making any sense here…
  4. Have you ever had what you believe to be a paranormal experience or at least an experience you could not explain? As per point 3 above, I have experienced signs or happenings I couldn’t explain, well, the only thing it could possibly have been is something present that I couldn’t see that did whatever it was. Once again, I’m not making sense…but I can’t explain…
    GothicHorror
  5. If you were cast in a horror movie, which of the following roles would you want and why:
    – last girl/guy

    – killer/monster
    – fodder for the slaughter
    – evil genius/mad scientist/cult leader
    – tortured soul
    – kick-ass hero/military leader
    – creepy caretaker/gas station attendant/neighbour/sea captain
    – member of the faceless zombie/demon/alien horde
    – wise stranger that warned those reckless kids 

    Oh gosh, my imagination is running wild here. I’m going to be cheeky and do a few:
    I’d be the (supposed) last woman, doing my utmost to stay alive, to remain undetected, living mostly on the move while killing off those damn, un-killable monsters. But, I’d find an abandoned (off-course) gas station where I’d make my base. When a group of know-it-all kids (and supposed last people alive) come my way I’ve got to get rid of them, they need to move on, so I’m going to be creepy. But as they finally leave, I’ll whisper a wise warning…because where they are headed, they are doomed. But…I told them so…njahahahahaaaa….
    Abandoned gas station?  Take 2

  1. Horror films, much like comedies, have been historically ignored by the Oscars. What horror film or horror performance do you feel deserved, but did not receive, recognition by the Academy? Strangely enough, all the horror I was going to suggest actually did win Oscars (not for performances though) – Sleepy Hollow (1999) and  Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992). The Others received a Golden Globe nomination for Nicole Kidman so that was probably overlooked. Sorry, I’m no help here but yes, performances should get more attention and not only effects, music etc.
  2. Which subgenre of horror is most appealing to you (noting that these subgenres often overlap):
    • action horror
    • ‘B’ movies/camp
    • body horror
    • comedy horror
    • disaster/natural horror
    • giallo – what is this? I’m so green when it comes to horror…
    • gothic horror – after the recent Gothic Horror Blogathon, I’m tempted by this.
    • horror thriller – sounds good but not sure my nerves will handle it…
    • kaiju
    • psychological horror – this was the last type of horror I watched because it usually all had some explanation to it. And with that, I could cope.
    • science fiction horror
    • slasher
    • splatter
    • supernatural horror
  1. Assuming you observe Halloween, describe a favourite costume (scary or otherwise) that you have worn. Oh, without a doubt my lovely Red Riding Hood Cape that I’ve made from a nice heavy material. It has a hood that covers the face so nicely:
    RedRidingHood
  2. What is your greatest fear/phobia? That our future is going to be like all these dystopian movies (another genre I can’t watch).
  3. You die only to awaken as a ghost, vampire, or zombie. What do you do? I go feed…I’m a vampire after all…but a romantic gritty type take on the vampire. Like Lena in Wir Sind die Nacht (We are the night).
    WirSindDieNacht
  4. Darkness falls across the land. The alien invasion has begun.  Civilization is collapsing.  The dead are returning from the grave.  Cthulhu is rising from his eternal slumber.  The Horsemen of the Apocalypse are on the ride.  It’s the end of the world.  You are among a small group boarding an experimental starship to escape to another galaxy.  You are allowed to bring any three items of your choosing.  What do you bring (and no fair bringing something ‘useful’)? You said Items…so I’ll stick with that…but hang on…everything cool is useful…that samurai sword, or the kick-butt knife I can gouge an alien’s eye out and watch it oozing gloop. Or that camera with flash that can take photos (and blind the invading alien that is about to bite my head off). I’m going to have to think this one over…

Now to the next bit…the following bloggers (not sure I’ll get 11) get my nomination. I wanted to nominate a few more but you already have the honours from Maniacs and Monsters:

Dubsism

Sam Simon of vengonofuoridallefottutepareti

Jay of Assholes Watching Movies

The Craggus

The Stop Button

The Ü

Caftan Woman

Phyllis Loves Classic Movies

sevendoorsofcinema

Book Beach Bunny

Wolfmans Cult Film

Here are my 11 questions:

  1. The number of Western movies in my DVD collection far outnumber any other genre. What genre do you have most of in your collection and, well, why?
  2. Where movies are based on books, what is it for you: book before movie, only movie, only book or each is its own medium and not compare?
  3. You have to create a story using a mish-mash of your favourite existing book or movie characters – a good character (your protagonist), a villain, a superhero and a fantastical being, who would you bring together?
  4. Now, which actors would you cast in your story in 3 above?
  5. As this is a Sunshine Award, what is the movie or book that brings most Sunshine into your life?
  6. I’ve recently watched Rear Window and now have a different take on my neighbours. I’m sure you’ve all observed your own neighbours. What is the strangest or most interesting thing you have witnessed?
  7. Is there an actor or actress who’s movies you will watch regardless of the story, genre, content, reviews etc. and why?
  8. Are you an introvert or extrovert?
  9. Favourite movie from your childhood? Does it still appeal today?
  10. Who is the most interesting villain (movie or book) you’ve encountered?
  11. It is a rainy, cold day (as today is)…what do you do…read or watch a movie?

 

 

 

Intense, heavy, tragic, excellent…

Now…where do I even start? This is such a difficult movie to “digest”. I find it extremely disturbing and heart-breaking yet I do consider Brothers (2009) an excellent movie.

Well, I guess I should start at the beginning. We’re introduced to Marine Sam Cahill (Tobey Maguire), his wife Grace (Natalie Portman) and their two little girls. We’re also introduced to Sam’s brother, Tommy (Jake Gyllenhaal) just as he is being released from prison. And then, we discover Sam is about to leave for Afghanistan in the line of duty. Shot down and reported dead, in reality he and good friend Private Joe Willis (Patrick John Flueger) have, in fact, been taken captive and undergo extreme torture* by the Taliban in a remote village.  Back home Grace and the family try to make sense of it all while Tommy additionally needs to deal with getting his own life sorted.

*I barely managed to watch these scenes on my first viewing so please be warned…they are not easy watching. And may disturb you long after the credits roll.

brothers-movieThis in itself is so heartbreaking to watch as every member of the family, from father to son, mother to daughter and even friends have their own personal daemons and grief process. While watching this I found it difficult to even try to understand what these people are going through with such a loss. The blame, the guilt, the hope and the list goes on. And we see how everyone has their own means of dealing with it. This must be so unbelievably difficult.

On the other hand, we also see positive healing in an unexpected manner. Tommy, the son who never followed his father’s military footsteps and instead went the criminal route, finally finds responsibility, a purpose and a way of rebuilding his life.

2009_brothers_011But then, Sam comes home. And things become even more difficult. The effects of Sam’s traumatic and extreme experiences (I won’t go into the details) are of course felt by all. And once again, an entire family must rediscover itself, it’s purpose, redefine relationships and question everything they thought they stood for. It almost becomes even more challenging because when presumed dead, Sam’s family had some means to move on and rebuild. But with him back that normalcy falls away. Relationships are tested. And we are reminded of the emotional impact of war. The ever-lasting after-effects. How, when the physical scars heal, those mental ones are barely, if at all, heal-able. I cannot imagine that anyone can ever fully recover from experiences such as Sam (and countless others) have.

Sam’s final line sums it all up perfectly: “Only the dead have seen the end of war. I have seen the end of war. The question is…can I live again?”. And that’s the sad thing…the lives that are ruined.

Natalie Portman and Jake Gyllenhaal as always, deliver stellar performances and even Tobey Maguire is superb in his role, earning a Golden Globe nomination. Overall, absolutely worth watching but as I said, this is a heavy one.

For more Marine related movies, head on over to my blogging friend Gill of Realweegiemidget Reviews (here) and her co-host J-Dub of Dubsism (here) for their The Send in the Marine Blogathon.

MarinesBanner

Grace shines again…

Rear_Window_film_poster…as always. I’m really enjoying watching Grace Kelly and this time I finally got around to a movie that I’ve been meaning to watch for ages. Rear Window (1954).

Here she takes on the role of snob high society fashion expert Lisa, who is desperately trying to win the full attention of her boyfriend Jeff (?, hmm, is he really? Maybe she thinks so…I’m not convinced he does). He, however, is confined to his apartment in a wheelchair due to a broken leg courtesy of some action shot he took (he’s a photographer). Bored, Jeff (James Stewart) spends his days spying on casually watching the comings and goings of the surrounding neighbours. One couple living across the courtyard is constantly fighting until suddenly, the wife is gone. Under very suspicious goings on. Lisa at first isn’t really interested – she’s more worried about serving lobster and being the perfectly styled lady around. Oh, and becoming the undivided attention. However, gradually she is pulled into the mystery of the missing wife. And eventually is fully involved in contributing theories.

I absolutely love watching Grace Kelly go from pretty much being disinterested to being hands-on with this personal investigation going on. An absolute pleasure to watch her transform yet still allow the underlying prim and proper lady to shine through. And she seems to manage this so will in all the movies I’ve seen her in (which, I’m afraid is really a small handful). She has the knack of subtly bringing out a woman who does, in fact, have more substance/strength than we initially believe. And yet she always keeps her poise.

Grace-James

As for the movie, well, let’s just focus on Grace here. She is magnificent. And gives another fine performance.

Here the movie that first introduced my to this actress: Grace Kelly’s Mrs Kane in High Noon and here she is in another Hitchcock movie: To Catch a Thief (1955).

For more of this wonderful lady, head on over to The Wonderful World of Cinema (here), Musings of a Classsic Film Addict (here) and The Flapper Dame (here), the wonderful hosts of The 5th Wonderful Grace Kelly Blogathon.

GraceKellyBlogathon

In case you missed it: The Jeff Bridges Blogathon

With so much on the go at the moment, I thought I’d just casually mention that the Jeff Bridges Blogathon is a month away. I’d love for you all to join me in celebrating this wonderful actor on his 70th Birthday.

Here’s my original announcement: Announcing the Jeff Bridges Blogathon

JeffBridgesBlogathon1

Northanger Abbey? Gothic?

Northanger Abbey_1I was quite surprised to see an image of this wonderful Jane Austen story on Pale Writer‘s Blogathon announcement. So I learn something everyday…and actually, it is right there, so obvious. Because Catherine Morland, Northanger Abbey’s main character is engrossed by Gothic stories, particularly Anne Radcliffe’s Mysteries of Udolpho. Ms Radcliffe was, in fact, one of the first writers of Gothic fiction. Or, at least someone key in making it a “genre” if you like. Something else I’ve learnt.

Any excuse to watch the 2007 rendition of Northanger Abbey again…this time for the Gothic influence. It is absolutely wonderful watching Catherine, played perfectly by Felicity Jones, daydream (and dream) of all things “horrid” and terribly suspenseful, all influenced by those novels she loves to engross herself in. I absolutely love how this movie integrates the characters into her various fantasies all dark and moody (I’m not sure how they are portrayed in the book…will find out soon though as I have it waiting patiently on my bedside table to be read) from her daily encounters…including Henry Tilney and his brother. Ultimately, our dreams and daydreams involve people we know, I guess. And don’t we all build up our own expectations of the unknown…like Catherine expects a haunted mansion with ghouls and ghosts. And Henry just loves to tease her about it.

NorthangerAbbey1

Felicity Jones is perfect as Catherine who gives us that wonderful contrast between innocence and her “wild” haunting romantic dreams. I’m enjoying J.J. Field (Henry) more and more…

Her staying over at the Tilneys’ place is a delight. I thoroughly enjoy watching her build up her own mysterious world based on her readings and what she’s heard. The lightning storm adds the perfect atmosphere.

NorthangerAbbey4

All-in-all, a wonderful movie, well worth the watch.

For other entries of the Dark and Deep: The Gothic Horror Blogathon give Pale Writer a visit (here). And be sure to check out my Sleepy Hollow post for the same Blogathon (here). And while not part of this Blogathon, also thematically fitting is a previous post of mine on The Crow both comic and movie over here (here).

gothic-horror-banner

 

Some delightful magic…

practical-magic-poster-01Practical Magic. Remember that one? One of those feel-good Sandra Bullock movies with a bit of magic and of course, romance. I came across it again last weekend. And thoroughly enjoyed it. Again.

There’s a curse around. A curse on the Owens witches. Passed from mother to daughter, generation after generation. All because of love. Or, rather the “agony of love”. Maria Owens, casts a spell that any man who is truly loved will die. And that’s exactly where the problem for sisters Sally (Sandra Bullock) and Gillian (Nicole Kidman) comes in. Sally falls in love, with detrimental effects and Gillian, well, she also meets a man but has other problems. Ending up temporarily living with the aunts who raised them, these problems needs solving and the two sisters are left to deal with it, and a handsome investigator mostly on their own. What results is a wonderful, feel-good movie of magic, spells, family, laughter and love.

Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman are perfectly juxtaposed as sisters – different enough yet still convincing. Who better to play the two wacky aunts, and wacky they are…chocolate for breakfast, no things as bedtimes or brushing teeth (eeuw), than Stockard Channing and Diane Wiest? They remind us of what we should do a little more in our lives…worry less about what others think and just be ourselves. Granted, that is not always easy, but honestly, I think rate others’ opinions of us far too highly. There are some other lessons to be learnt but I won’t bore you with that right now.

PracticalMagic2

Back in the late 80s and early 90s, romantic (comedies?) movies had something that just worked. They were light, delightful and just…well, uhm, romantic. Especially if you had Sandra Bullock and Aidan Quinn (remember him?) crossing paths. Aidan Quinn is Gary Hallet, the detective following a lead and finding himself face-to-face with the most disliked ladies in town. Ladies who are totally misunderstood.

So, if like me, you are way too scared to watch real horror movies for Halloween, give Practical Magic (1998) a watch. You’ll smile and you’ll feel good by the end.

And remember ladies, “There’s a little witch in all of us”. Well, that’s what the aunts think anyway.