#FolkloreThursday Film Spotlight: Tale of Tales

Hello, lovely readers. I have a confession to make before I launch into this blog entry. I had no idea the film I’m about to talk about was based on a book. I am terrible. I now want to read said book though, so there’s that at least.

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From the bitter quest of the Queen of Longtrellis, to two mysterious sisters who provoke the passion of a king, to the King of Highhills obsessed with a giant Flea, these tales are inspired by the fairytales by Giambattista Basile.

The above is taken from IMDB. Obviously. Otherwise, I would have known it was actually based on something. I went into this film blind, I’d seen maybe part of a trailer beforehand and was intrigued enough to watch it. I am glad I did.

It’s an incredibly strange film, weaving what at first seem to be three completely separate stories together. The first, a queen who will do anything to have a child; the second, two sisters who win the love of a womanising King by use of trickery and magic; the third, a king who finds and nurtures a flea, loving it more than his own child resulting in his daughter being married off to an ogre.

Naturally, I love it. I adore stories, and if a film has more than one it’s going to be a guaranteed hit with me. Combine that with the fairy tale nature and setting and you’ve got an instant love. This film is dark. It’s also whimsical but the dark kind where you’re not sure if what you’re watching could possibly have a happy ending or whether everyone is going to die horribly.

The film is stunning. From the costumes to the sets, to the music and through the colouring, it is gorgeous. It’s exactly the kind of rich beauty you want from a fairy tale film.

From what I gather of the book, these are only three of an incredible number of tales that could have been used, and now a small hopeful part of me is crossing her fingers and wishing on every star that they turn this into a series of films, each with three tales beautifully produced until the whole book has been done. It is only a vague hope. It will probably never happen. A girl can dream.

It harkens back to the 80s fantasy movies that I adore, only darker and with better visual effects. Definitely, check it out if you’re a fan of fantasy and fairy tales. I love it. Love it.

Happy Thursday!

Go, Go, Power Rangers!

MV5BNDg2NzI3Njk2OV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNDczODY2MTI@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,674,1000_AL_I have been waiting for this film. Waiting and waiting and waiting. (Where have we read this before? Apparently, when I am passionate about films, these are my go-to phrases.) When it was announced, I am pretty sure I made some kind of unearthly squealing noise, and I decided right there and then that not only was I going to see it but I was going to love it.

The release date, coincidentally, was over the weekend of my birthday, so I feel like the great and terrible movie gods decided to give me a present. Power Rangers was my childhood, and the original film (with Ivan Ooze, that gloopy so-and-so) is something I watch regularly both out of nostalgia and genuine enjoyment. Nothing beats delayed whooshes and yells of ee-yah!

My tiny child heart was and is filled with glee at the thought of a new Power Rangers movie to sink my teeth into. I was determined to love it no matter whether it was terrible or not. I have a penchant for loving movies my friends think are terrible so I was confident that I would like it.

Luckily for me, it wasn’t terrible at all. It’s gotten some bad press but I think the people that gave it bad press are the people who wanted it to fail. One of the main problems people seem to have with it is the lack of morphing time but, dear reader, I put it to you that surely there wouldn’t be much morphing time in an origin movie. It’s not about the Rangers as Rangers, it’s about the Rangers becoming Rangers. Sure, they find the crystals but the film would end very quickly if that was all it took for them to fulfill their Ranger potential.  So, with that out of the way…

Power Rangers is such a diverse film. Of the five Power Rangers, only one of them is white, and the Blue Ranger (Billy Cranston) is not only black, but he’s on the spectrum and it’s not turned into an issue. Billy is Billy and the other characters love him and never try to belittle him.

Trini, the Yellow Ranger, is canon not-straight. She doesn’t give herself a label and the film doesn’t turn it into a coming out story, it is just who she is, it is normal. Power Rangers normalises the normal in a way that other films don’t. I can’t believe that in 2017 that’s still a phrase I have to use but it is, and Power Rangers is a step in the right direction. It is so refreshing to see.

As you may know, I haunt Tumblr often, and it’s so lovely to see the posts from people who can relate to these diverse, three-dimensional characters in a way that they may not have been able to before. As a white woman, I’ve never really had to dig and scrape for someone to relate to in pop culture, I recognise my privilege and while I’ve not really experienced a lack of representation myself, I do wish for a greater mirror in the world of literature and film for those that do. I’m heartened when I see the reflection growing, even if just a little.

The film is less centred on the Rangers aspect and more on the Rangers’ relationships with each other, how they go from being strangers, to being friends, to being Rangers. I love everything about it. What we do see of them in their suits and their zords is fabulous. There are little echoes from the show and while it is the same in spirit, the film is a different but related beast.

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It goes darker than the series, perhaps a sign of the time it has been created in. Rita is not the kitschy villain you might remember. She is a dark creature. She is one of my favourite things about the film. She is a villain, a real one.

All in all. I loved it. I knew I was going to love it but I didn’t know I was going to love it, you know? I want to see it again, right now.

In which I adore Beauty and the Beast

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I have been waiting for this film. Waiting and waiting and waiting, giddy with excitement, and thrusting my grabby little hands at every trailer, clip, b-roll and featurette that surfaced. I adore Beauty and the Beast in all of its forms and am forever seeking wonderful adaptations to dig my teeth into (if you know of any, please list them in the comments).

Beauty and the Beast was probably my most-watched animated film as a child, not just because it’s based on one of my most loved fairy tales, or because it’s about a girl with brown hair who loves books, but because it has one of the most beautiful scores I have ever heard. The music under the narration of the prologue is a piece that has been playing on repeat in my dreams for most of my life. Alan Menken is a genius.

You can imagine my excitement when I heard the absolutely beautiful rendition of a portion of it in one of the trailers. I squealed so loudly that my boyfriend heard it even with his headphones on. Every time I hear that familiar refrain, I feel it in my stomach and my skin tingles. It’s, perhaps, my favourite piece of music ever written, so to hear it in that deliciously orchestrated manner was incredible but not nearly as incredible as seeing it in the film. I will admit that I did miss the stained glass prologue but the scenes that replace it more than make up for it. They set the tone and the standard for a visually stunning film. That whole sequence was glorious from the make-up to the costumes, to the dancing.

The casting of LeFou and Gaston was spot on. They were perfect, and the character growth in LeFou was possibly my favourite part of the whole film. The live-action definitely went darker with Gaston than its animated predecessor but still stuck the the slightly campy, wonderfully ridiculous stylings of the song ‘Gaston’. I bloomin’ love it.

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While it’s not my favourite Beauty and the Beast adaptation in existence – that accolade goes to Christophe Gans’ 2014 film La Belle et la Bête – it definitely makes me happy. It’s everything I wanted from the live-action, I especially liked that they wrote entirely new songs instead of including the extra tracks from the stage musical (though I love those too). I was slightly nervous about Emma Watson’s singing ability, and though her voice has been edited, it’s not too distracting and I was pleasantly surprised.

I would go and see it again in a heart beat.

One of the things that I love most about the whole thing is the posters. They are so incredibly beautiful and I want all of them. Just look at them.

Are these not some of the most beautiful film posters you have ever seen?

Overall, I think the film is lovely, and it was lovely to watch it in a cinema packed full of children – most of whom were dressed as princesses and made my heart leak everywhere.

#FolkloreThursday: The Curse of Sleeping Beauty

MV5BMjI1ODMzNDYyOV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNDk4MTMxOTE@._V1_It’s that time again, and this week, I’m sharing another film. Sort of. I’m not going to be gushing about this one as I did with Song of the Sea, that’s why this is not a ‘Film Spotlight’ post. The spotlight is reserved for brilliance.

I stumbled across this film while trawling Netflix for something to watch, I started watching it but then had to stop because I am a wimp and I need people to watch scary things with me (even if they’re not that scary). Luckily, I was meeting with two of my closest friends, both of whom love fairy tales and wanted to watch some horror films. The Curse of Sleeping Beauty seemed like a perfect fit. The trailer made it look like a beautiful film but didn’t give much away. We knew it was going to either be: a terrible film, a terrible film that was also an adventure due to its terribleness (we love these), or a film that surprised us and was actually quite good. You never know what you’re going to get when you find yourself in the deep corners of Netflix, sometimes what you find is brilliant.

Alas, we were not so lucky. The film revolves around tortured artist Thomas, who has, we discover, inherited an incredibly creepy house and with it a series of dreams about a mysterious and beautiful sleeping princess. Of course, the house is at the centre of multiple disappearances. It started well, sort of.

For a large part of the film, we were scared. Faceless mannequins which move when you’re not looking are, after all, terrifying and if it had stuck to the creepy doll theme, it could have been a great movie. But no. It had to bring religion and the crusades and a lot more random pointless things into it. It was like they decided they wanted to write a completely different movie three-quarters of the way through. The first three-quarters were exposition. The plot didn’t really move until right at the end. We were shocked when we realised that the film ended in 15 minutes and yet we had no plot progression at all.

For the first three-quarters of the film, it was a creepy and suspenseful mannequin themed horror movie with fairy tale-esque elements. For the last 15 minutes or so, it was suddenly an apocalypse movie. In the time they had left themselves to conclude the story, they included a pointless, long-winded montage scene which really didn’t serve any purpose other than allowing them to show some ~edgy~ techno special effects. We could have done without it.

The highlight of my watching experience was witnessing my friend, Bekah, go into a full blown rage at their misuse of religious texts – her ranting and correcting was actually more exciting than the film.

Some of the scenes are beautiful, and Briar Rose’s costumes are beautiful if impractical but not even that can save this film.

Do you know of any great horror films based on fairy tales? I would love to find an actual decent one!

Happy Thursday!

On insta-love

Greetings, greetings, one and all. This is a bit of a weird one, bear with me though because I think it’s worth reading. (Well, would, I am the one writing it.)

Insta-love. Not the kind you show on instagram by liking as many of someone’s photos as is humanly possible in one sitting (though, that can be good) but the kind you see in books and movies. Often hailed as unrealistic and annoying and a plot-ruiner.

Well, I have a confession to make on that front.

It’s not that unrealistic. (Controversial?) Sure, if it’s terribly written or portrayed and you’re getting no feeling from either character, I can understand it ruining everything. But as a thing, on the whole, it’s not that bad. Love is weird and it’s different for everyone. This is common knowledge. A love being different to the love I experience, doesn’t make that love invalid and I would never dream of saying it does so why do we assume insta-love isn’t a thing?

Why am I writing about this? Why am I defending insta-love? Well, quite simply, because I feel it myself. Perhaps not full-blown cherubs-with-trumpets-I-want-to-spend-the-rest-of-my-life-with-you-immediately love but it’s very fast.

Context: I met my boyfriend through online dating, we spoke for maybe a week before we met each other in person. We spent a day together and before he went home, I ended up deciding ‘Yup, this is the person I want to be with.’ (If we’re being completely honest, I decided that about an hour into the day.) He agreed. And so we officially became a thing. I didn’t need a second date to know that he was who I wanted, or that a relationship with him was both what I wanted and right for me at the time. Over a year and a half later, and here we still are, living together harmoniously in a little flat on the top of a hill.

I can’t ‘date’. I don’t see the point in devoting time to someone I don’t see or want a future with. If I decide to be with someone it’s because I’m in it for the long-haul from day one. When I was doing the online dating thing, if I felt a strong connection with someone (like my other half) I would cease talking to anyone else on that platform until I had confirmed whether it was something both of us wanted to pursue.

I feel very quickly and very deeply – I felt strong feelings for my other half before we even met. I am exactly the kind of character that gets complained about for being unrealistic but does my existence not make all of those claims a little bit false? Sure, it might be annoying as hell, and it might be difficult to understand if it’s not something you go through, but it’s very much a real thing.

It’s not all sunshine and roses, it hurts when it goes wrong – especially when it goes wrong after a short period of time and the people around you can’t quite understand why you’re so upset about it. That side of things, I think, needs to be explored more. I’m all for happy, wonderful love stories but I’m also all for raw, emotional, painful, not-quite love stories.

A lot of the complaints about it come from young adult fiction, and TV shows and films aimed at teenagers but it’s very much something that teenagers go through. I had so many dramatic unrequited teenage crushes and my teenage relationship(s), other than being a train-wreck, were very much that immediate, sickly sweet kind and so were many of the other teen relationships going on around me. What’s important, I think, is that books/films/shows that deal in insta-love should also deal with how to react healthily to it ending. There are so few stories that I know of that can be used as an example of a healthy way of dealing with a break-up, if you know any, do share them.

Is it just me? Am I the only person on this planet who gets insta-love and doesn’t revile it on principle? Am I speaking into the void?

In which I love La La Land

mv5bmzuzndm2nzm2mv5bml5banbnxkftztgwntm3ntg4ote-_v1_sy1000_sx675_al_Ah, La La Land.

I remember seeing trailers for La La Land many moons ago, and getting incredibly excited about Emma Stone. (I’m always quite excited about Emma Stone.) At first, I didn’t realise it was a musical, then I didn’t realise it was an old style musical. I am so glad it is.

If you’ve been here for a while, you might know that I love musicals and am a frequent theatre go-er. I love the magic of theatre but I also love the magic of cinema, especially musical cinema. In all of its many forms, from Disney to Les Mis to Pitch Perfect.

La La Land brings me all the same wonderful feelings I get when I watch the likes of Singin’ in the Rain and Shall We Dance with my grandmother on a sunny Saturday afternoon but also brings with it the whispers of something more modern. I find it really hard to describe.

La La Land  is like an old musical, old Hollywood but it’s also not. It’s hard to miss the hints to old cinema, the yellow dress and the street lamp both things that recall scenes from Singin’ in the Rain, the tap dancing which could be from any Ginger and Astaire movie.

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While it bathes us in old Hollywood nostalgia, it carries more realism than its ancestors – we have some heavy moments that would not have necessarily made it into the movies of old.

I know many people who have fallen head-over-heels for this film and I understand why, it underlines what it is to be a struggling artist and the artist in me feels it to my core. La La Land grew on me. I love it more the more I think about it. I enjoyed watching it, I enjoyed how I felt coming out of the cinema, but it takes some thinking to really hit home. Now, I am in love with it – I have been listening to the songs and singing them to myself in my head.

My other half, however, was not as enthused. And I get that too. This is partly why I find it hard to describe. It’s a great film but it depends entirely who you are. There are some people who simply won’t get it. I don’t think that’s a bad thing.

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Visually, it is stunning. My favourite parts happen in the prettiest scenes (the Planetarium and the epilogue, with a large helping of the dance near the lamp post). I love beautiful things and this film is a beautiful thing. The cinematography is everything I could have wanted and more. I want my dreams to look like this film, and I have a feeling it will inspire me for some  time to come.

Vocally, they’re not Broadway or West End stars. For this film, that is perfect. Neither of their characters claim to be singers, neither of their characters are perfect. They are beautifully flawed and so are their songs. It is different and extraordinary and the score is to die for.

Please see this film. You might love it, you might hate it but you should definitely see it.

Books on the Big Screen and going Beyond the Book

I think it’s hard to have a publishing-related blog this week and not write about the Random Penguin in its Penguin House but this is all I will say on the matter (Random Penguins need quiet nights in too especially with such big decisions to make! We will interrupt his evening in the future, next week perhaps). Speaking of quiet nights in, I am currently curled up on my sofa with a bowl of cereal watching Stardust, a lovely evening after a day of scanning and research and Turpin forms and proofreading at Berghahn Books.

The thing about film adaptations is that most people don’t like them. Of course, I am generalising but it seems to be a given that if a book is adapted for the screen a lot of people won’t like it and a lot of people will complain until they’re red in the face about how the conversion from book to film has ruined their darling and the best/most important parts have been cut out.

There is no way of keeping all of the fans happy but there is no denying that book-films bring more fans to their authors. More people will read the book after seeing the film. Personally, I love it when books I enjoy are turned into films and in a lot of cases, when I discover a book-movie I will then read the book it is derived from even if it’s not something I would normally read. I like playing ‘spot the difference’. There are very few I have disliked, even those that bend the story of their book to breaking point.

Some call this blasphemy, I call it perspective. I never watch a film with the expectation that it will be like the book, it would only end in disappointment. Films cannot be like their page-filled counterparts; there are some things in books that cannot be done in films and there are some things that simply don’t work on the big screen. Books can hold a lot more meat so, of course, things will be cut – and that is okay. There is no one universal way to interpret a book so the film will never be as you imagined.

There is one film, the one I am currently watching, which I think sticks incredibly well to the story of the book. Things have been changed, they had to be. If I remember correctly, the book is a shade darker than the film (which was aimed at a PG-13 audience) but the transition seems to fit. They have masked the darker parts with humour – some of them, anyway. It has a special place in my heart, it’s written by my favourite author and some of its scenes were filmed in my hometown, if the pictures and writings on the wall of one of our local pubs are to be believed.

I’m currently reading Cornelia Funke’s Inkheart for the first time, having owned it for years and seen the film and while it is rather different so far it still feels like the same story. Only in the film Meggie doesn’t annoy me quite so much but that may change, I am only halfway through and I will be reviewing it once I’ve finished and before I move on to the next book in the series. (I know, I know I have at least two books to review already – make that four… soon! Soon!)

Anyway, films go beyond the book. And that brings me to the second part of this blog post – going beyond the book.

This morning, when I checked my emails, I was caught by two articles from Publishing Perspectives (1, 2) about Orhan Pamuk’s Museum of InnocenceThe Museum of Innocence is both a novel and a museum situated in Istanbul, a novel which I now want to read and a museum which I can only dream of going to. Upon reading these articles there was one thing that sprung to mind: The Night Circus

I cannot think of a more perfect book to go ‘beyond’ with. If you haven’t read it, you should (review to come). The Night Circus could be such a beautiful exhibition – combine Morgenstern’s imagination with the work of talented artists and set designers and that circus could, in part, come to life. It is definitely something I’d love to see. 

There is something enchanting about books which aren’t just books, books which have things you can see and touch beyond the words on the page. It’s something I would definitely be interested in helping to create some day, if my publishing career should lead me down that route. I hope it does.

Of course, The Night Circus  is an obvious choice for such an endeavour but what other novels would suit being brought to life in … well, whatever form best befits them really, are there any titles that you would like to see, touch, smell, taste? Let me know what you think in the comments, possible-readers! I’m curious.