Snaggy Tees!

Hey Film Buffs!

RandomFilmBuff has been M.I.A. for quite awhile, but we are not shut down!

We’ve been busy working on other cool projects (screenplays! books! ), but we have to update you guys on all the exciting action.

Other than the projects mentioned above, one of our biggest ventures has been launching a t-shirt company.

Yep, you read that right. A t-shirt company.

We would like to introduce, Snaggy Tees, the new t-shirt company that strives to give the coolest tees around to the world. Our products range from inspirational and motivational to straight-up funny and eye-catching.

It’s our dream one day to be as big as the Life is Good brothers, or even to overtake Snorg.com. And honestly, we plan on doing exactly such.

Of course, there’s much more to come. Our t-shirts are

BIGGER

BOLDER

AND BETTER THAN EVER…

(As you can tell, we’re still kind of “cinematic.”)

Come on over, take a look, snag a great deal! We’re happy to welcome you into the SnaggyTees family.

SnaggyTees.com

Book Vs. Film: Jane Eyre

I hate the term “classic.” It’s insane for one group of people to declare that certain films and novels will forever be masterpieces. Why shove clunky books down poor schoolchildren’s throats and proclaim certain films are “must-sees” to any film buff? If a piece of art is so special and great, shouldn’t it be able to stand and thrive on its own without people constantly shoving it forward? Though critics, professors, and misguided viewers and readers like to toss around the word “classic” too, why is one major entity – schools – stating what should be classic for the entire world? You HAD to read To Kill a Mockingbird in 9th grade; any serious movie buff HAS to see Psycho or Taxi Driver or Citizen Kane, etc. Alice in Wonderland, Pride and Prejudice,The Great Gatsby, even children’s books are stamped as classics. Where the Wild Things Are is probably one of the worst kid’s books I’ve read – but since a bunch of people said, “CLASSIC!”, people go out in droves and buy the book or film or any piece of art declared as a beloved classic.

Perhaps these novels and movies were magnificent for a different era – the current generation is to produce new “classics”, not artistry that has died (or should have died) a long time ago. Because someone does something first does not make it wonderful, especially if a host of other people did it entirely better.

So why in the world did I read Jane Eyre?

Other than it was free on my Nook and, (listen here) REQUIRED reading for school, I didn’t want to.

“But Alley, was it good, overrated, masterful? Does it deserve to be called a “classic”?”

In short: Yes. And no.

But let’s take it slow: what does Jane Eyre do right? For one, the strong willed heroine Charlotte Bronte presents is a breath of fresh air – even for the 21st century. Jane does not  take any stuff – blunt honesty and strong spirits is the name of her game. It might be more normal to see the ‘strong woman’ type in entertainment today, but this well-rounded female character is essential for women for any era. The writing is absolutely enthralling – Bronte chooses words that zooms the reader right into the scene. The characterization and diction is wonderful, a symphony of gorgeous words.

Wow, that was quick. Now for the bad…

Honest to God, though the writing is pretty, at least half of this novel could have been chopped off, two-hundred pages at minimum. SO MUCH of it is unnecessary purple prose – grandiose descriptions already detailed in the before paragraph. This is not setting up a scene – this is overindulgence to the max. Bronte also gives a typical, ‘happily-ever after’ story in Jane Eyre. It’s not deserving of a detailed synopsis, so here’s the rundown: poor girl an orphan in a rich family; poor girl a governess to a rich master; poor girl wife to rich master; poor girl just poor and homeless; poor girl suddenly made rich girl; rich girl marries rich master.

Isn’t it wonderful?!

The relationship between Jane and Mr. Rochester is sweet, touching, then BAM!, almost verging on a saccharine mess. Throw in some contrived plot devices and you have a “classic.”

But perhaps we’ve learned a lesson here. What may be good for you, may be horrible for another. Only the person can decide what’s “classic” for themselves.

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My, oh my. Does this movie have it all… Rushed pace, unneeded scenes, important scenes given the ax, and since we’re in England…Judi Dench!

Pretty cinematography cannot save this movie. Is it a dark thriller, a romance, a character study, etc.? Because this film doesn’t balance the three elements well like it’s source novel does.

Just, no.

☆☆

Looper and Donnie Darko: A Mini Review and a Mini-Mini Review

What an apt name for a film. It’s complicated, but not confusing. Involving, but not exactly thrilling. It definitely sends your brain in loops, but not because the it’s hard to understand, but by the end of the movie, one has to ask: how does a film that began so wonderful end so horribly?

To not waste my time or yours, I’ll diverge from detailing every little aspect of the plot. (If you want to meet a time-travel expert who know how to dissect Looper’s twisty storyline, see here.) Basically, Young Joe (JGL) is trying to kill Old Joe (Bruce Willis), and Old Joe is running away and trying to murder a kid who eventually grows up and becomes a terrorist who murders his wife of the future. This kid happens to live on a farm with Sara (Emily Blunt), a farm Young Joe happens to stumble upon.

Yeah. It’s not what I expected either.

By the first-half of the movie, everything is fresh. Fascinating concept, fast pacing, and fun dialogue, especially between Old Joe and Young Joe. But after this stage conversation is finished (oddly the only one of the two times they even see each other), the films slows down dramatically. It doesn’t even seem like the same movie anymore. Sub-plots of telekinesis and tired inclusions of inherently bad kids who use their superpowers for evil makes the film seem forced. Old Joe avenging for his wife? Contrived. Even Bruce Willis is criminally under-used in this movie.

Once the ending comes, with Levitt in voice-over every tying every loose string in one nice little package, one just wants to roll their eyes.

☆☆☆

Donnie Darko
Funnily, this film reminded me of many movies I’ve seen recently: Magnolia, American
Beauty, even Looper. Yet, even though I didn’t understand this movie fully, I absolutely loved it. Forget the witty dialogue and the excellent acting – the storyline juggles a number of diverging storylines and handles them beautifully. Time travel? Schizophrenia?  Religion? School politics? This film has it all – and does it all wonderfully.

☆☆☆☆ and 1/2 Stars

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For October’s Book Vs. Film selection, I’ll review the short story and film, Minority Report. Look for the reviews this week! (Thank you to Stephanie for the suggestion!)

Paul Thomas Anderson Marathon!

This week, starting on Wednesday (an odd day, I know), RandomFilmBuff will be hosting an marathon dedicated to one of the most illustrious writer/directors in the world of film: Paul Thomas Anderson. For every day of the week, I’ll be watching a PTA film and posting a review for you all to enjoy.

Here’s the Schedule:

Tuesday: Punch-Drunk-Love

Thursday: Magnolia

Friday: There Will Be Blood

Saturday: Hard Eight

Sunday: The Master

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For this month’s Book Vs. Film, I’ll be taking requests! Recommend a short story or a novel that has a film adaptation I can review for this September. (No erotica, please). Leave your suggestions in the comments below!

Double Review: Total Recall and Poetry

Total Recall

What a boring movie. Explosion after explosion after explosion. God, it’s even boring to review this film.

Total Recall, the 2012 remake of the sci-fi “classic” which originally starred Arnold Schwarzenegger, was supposed to be a good summer movie. It’s visually stunning. Touts Jessica Biel and Kate Beckinsale (who look so similar it’s difficult to tell them apart in the movie). Lots of action and a good enough storyline.

It’s no way near that. Sure, it has the special effects down to a T, and Biel and Beckinsale have enough makeup on, but the storyline is…well, I couldn’t tell you. But IMDB says, ‘A factory worker, Douglas Quaid, begins to suspect that he is a spy after visiting Rekall – a company that provides its clients with implanted fake memories of a life they would like to have led –        goes wrong and he finds himself on the run.’ 

Yep, that sounds about right. Before I fell asleep. Then I woke up to more things bursting into vicious flames and Colin Farrell running around, one moment being confused who he is, then shooting robot-cops and kicking butt. The only thing interesting in the movie is the world of The Colony and UFB. The grittiness and futuristic society is believable and the technology is amazing (let me tell you, cell phones are going to be great in the future). But it stops there. After 30 minutes of Kate Beckinsale looking “fierce”, faltering in her accent, and Farrell running from masked terrors, the movie becomes highly irritating and extremely predictable.

☆☆

(Available in Theaters…Unfortunately)

Poetry

Though totally different in subject matter, tone, and style, Poetry achieves the same lackluster result, leading the audience through tedious scenes and frothy cinematography.

Poetry revolves around the sixty-six year old Mija, a graceful, gentle housemaid who also raises her teenage grandson. As she goes through life, everything is simple and relaxed. Or so it seems.

As director Chang-dong Lee takes us through the movie, we learn more and more how fractured Mija’s life really is. A recent suicide upsets her quiet neighborhood. Her teenage grandson is highly ungrateful and spoiled, but she is restrained from discipline for she can’t rebuke her daughter’s child. She also discovers she is experiencing the onset of Alzheimer’s, as she continues to forget words such as wallet or streets she has traveled all her life.

But amid a quietly breaking life, Mija seeks peace and understanding. She enrolls in a poetry class at the local cultural center, and goes on a journey of seeking beauty and deciphering the life before her.

What a beautiful concept. One that truly has potential, one than can be powerful without being manipulative.

But Poetry falls into the common trap of quiet, drama pieces. It desires to juggle many difficult subjects, but gets lost among its ideas. Mija’s Alzheimer’s is brought up in one or two scenes, and is quickly forgotten. When Lee reveals the destructive secret of Mija’s grandson, it promises to provide a major upset for the story, but it lingers throughout the story, and is finally buried and never seen of again. The suicide of a student in the town seems to push Mija’s soul to write, but it’s seen in the beginning, lost in the middle, and suddenly resurrected again at the the end.

And it is tender and sensitive – to a fault. The audience is promised to be given a powerful life lesson, or a moving study of a crumbling life, but instead we see a wondorous performance given by Yun Junghee, within a thoughtful film that happens to get lost in its own thoughts.

Poetry is a lovely, unhurried film, but as it progresses, it loses itself soapy scenes and exceeds its own empathetic nature.

☆☆☆

(Available on Netflix Instant)

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For this month’s Book Vs. Film, I’ve chosen the novel Silence of the Lambs, by Thomas Harris. I’ve never seen the movie before, and I’m truly looking forward to the novel and film. Check back on the 30th!

Book Vs. Film: Never Let Me Go

Today’s the first edition of Book Vs. Film! Our first contestant is the book/movie Never Let Me Go.

Book Review: Never Let Me Go

Never Let Me Go, penned by author Kazuo Ishiguro, is a novel I predicted from the beginning:

Page 5: Nice start…simple and pretty descriptions…

Page 50: Oh God, enough with these hazy memories already!

Page 100: I really don’t care…just get to the point of your story. *

Page 200: Do it for RFB…do it for RFB…

Page 288: Are you serious? I put two weeks in for this?!

*I later found out there was no point to this story.

Synopsis? Ishiguro’s novel revolves around three main characters- Kathy, Ruth, and Tommy, students of a futuristic school named Hailsham, where children are raised for lives already molded for them: they will donate their bodily organs to people in need, until they “complete”. Now in her thirties, Kathy looks back on her life, and tries to decipher her elusive life at Hailsham.

It sounds interesting, right? But there’s only two things I can applaud the book for: its innovative concept and defying the “rules” of the writing world. Futuristic societies have always piqued my interest, and that’s the main reason I choose Mr. Kazuo’s novel. In addition, a slew of “established” authors proclaim to rarely and barely use flashbacks in one’s work. Ishiguro’s novel defies that so-called law: 90% of the book is flashbacks, and it is not confusing and never gets ahead of itself. However, the book fails to deliver on several different levels.

Perhaps these kinds of novels are not my taste: The book is a kind of, ‘take a seat, let me tell you this peaceful little story’ type of novel. But it gets old very quickly. As Kathy recounts old memories at Hailsham and her life afterwards, it gets very repetitive. Every resurrected memory is “remembered” the exact same way, and around the 6th time or so, you can pretty much predict where the story is turning. And among these descriptions of the past, the pages are plumped and filled with countless hazy descriptions – not idyllic or peaceful: boring. I suppose when you read a novel, you’re not supposed to get forget most of the material.

The characters are fine, but the whole notion of Ruth is irritating at best. How does anyone befriend her is beyond me. She’s ‘happy, nice, loving best friend’ at one moment, then ‘evil, snappy, rude enemy’ at the next. And not even the way most people in real life are enigmatic: Ruth is laughable and verging on bi-polar.

Overall, this book was a major disappointment: mostly I was disappointed with myself, because I saw it coming, and I kept trudging through it. ☆☆ and 1/2 stars

Movie Review: Never Let Me Go

Now this one had great potential. But despite its touching conclusion, the film commits the deadly book adaptations sins, namely: change major aspects of the novel for seemingly no reason and trying to cram in the most important elements of the book, despite the fact the whole pace feels rushed; the movie version of Never Let Me Go equals the novel in enjoyability.

But I would like to commend the good qualities of the film before I expose its deficiencies: the tremendous acting (especially in one particular scene) and the last few words spoken by Kathy. Though the children actors who depicted the smaller Ruth, Tommy and Kathy were highly irritating, their grown-up counterparts were impeccable. Carey Mulligan excels as usual as sweet, thoughtful Kathy, Keira Knightley fits the role perfectly of malicious Ruth (no offense), and Andrew Garfield needs no comment because he is a perfect actor, the end. Case in point: when Tommy and Ruth meet Madame and Miss Emily to discuss donation deferrals, the emotion in the room is overwhelming and heartbreaking. With sub-par actors, the power of that scene would have been non-existent.

And Kathy’s last words are the highlight of the film: “What I’m not sure about, is if our lives have been so different from the lives of the people we save. We all complete. Maybe none of us really understand what we’ve lived through, or feel we’ve had enough time.” 

Cue tears.

But what’s wrong with the film? Well, it flounders in the same way the novel does. 3/4 of the movie is flat, hazy, and extremely rushed (and a film is not a good film if it only gets “good” in the last fifteen minutes). And for some reason, they change several aspects of the novel: Tommy gives Kathy the Judy Bridgewaters music cassette, instead of Kathy finding it for herself; Ruth, not Madame, catches Kathy dancing with her pillow (who pretends it’s a newborn child), and Mark Romanek completely eliminates the good qualities of Ruth, making her into a complete demon. Why? The only reasonable suggestion I could come up with was so they could put a greater emphasis on the romantic relationship between Tommy and Ruth: it’s so heavy Ruth vs. Tommy and Kathy, it loses some of the reflective qualities of the novel, making it into an typical love-triangle story, just different circumstances for its characters.

And it is rushed so horribly, which is not too much of its fault. It tried to find the best events to include in the movie, but it still falters. I still feel that if the movie had more time (not 3 hours of course, but just 30 minutes more) it could truly be a better film and give the audience more time to know, feel for, and appreciate its starring trio. But we all can’t get what we want, right? ☆☆☆

Book Vs. Film

“The book is always better than the movie.”

“But the film does things the book always can’t do.”

“But the book teaches you to tap into your imagination. And the movie always leaves out major things that are essential in the book!”

“But the movie gives you a whole another world to tap into-and isn’t it cool to see your characters brought to life?”

Sounds familiar?

It’s a common debate: which is better – the book or the movie? But it isn’t always the movie, or always the book. It always depends. That’s why RFB is introducing a new series: Book vs. Film.

For every month, I will choose a new novel (anything from 90 to 250 pages) to read. Once I finish the book, I’ll watch its accompanying movie. At the end of the month, I’ll post reviews of both the novel and the film, and tell you which was better: the book or the movie.

I’ll take requests for novels/movies to review, and even read short stories and review its film (for example, the fantastic film, The Grey, was based on a short story).

For this month (July), I am reading Never Let Me Go, by Kazuo Ishiguro. By the 30th, I’ll post my review of its film, directed by Mark Romanek.

As children, Ruth, Kathy and Tommy, spend their childhood at a seemingly idyllic English boarding school. As they grow into young adults, they find that they have to come to terms with the strength of the love they feel for each other, while preparing themselves for the haunting reality that awaits them. 

It might sound vague, but the book is getting very good. I’m excited!

 

Check back with RFB on the August 2nd!