Category Archives: Movies

An Open Letter to William Shatner; Why I am Boycotting Houston Space City Con

Standard

July 9, 2015

 

Dear Mr. Shatner,

I was SO excited to hear that you would be attending this year’s Space City Comic Con in Houston Texas this year! I grew up in a Star Trek household, and have been a fan since I played the role of Captain Kirk in fifth grade when the backstop was my Enterprise. As a fellow Canadian living in Houston I thought I would finally get to meet my idol. This is why it breaks my heart to say that I won’t be there. Make no mistake, this was NOT an easy decision, but I decided in good conscience that I could not do it. I made this decision upon hearing on good authority that the Space City Con failed to remit payment to my favorite charity, the Kids Need to Read program, which is sponsored by my other favorite Canadian Captain, Nathan Fillion. The Kids Need to Read program was the charity being supported by the Space City Con, monies were collected in the name of this charity and were not forwarded as promised. I was devastated to hear this news when I found out that the charity was not participating in the con because of this issue.

So Mr Shatner, it is with great sadness in my heart that I will not come to meet you, and it will probably be my last chance to do so.

Blessings to you, and love you!

 

Your greatest Canadian Fan,

 

Heather Kaminski

Hunger Games the Movie Hits the Bullseye

Standard

SPOILER ALERT. There are a FEW in here. Not too many.

My first thought when I saw Effie Trinket on screen was “Oh my god! It’s Johnny Depp in Drag! …Is this a Tim Burton movie?”

It doesn’t happen often, but every once in a while a movie comes out that is better than the book. This is one of those cases. This production could have gone two ways, it could be a fast action movie with a strong message, or it could take the icky Twilight, angsty, romancy, path. I am so glad that director Gary Ross chose the path that ROCKS!

I really wasn’t sure what to make of the filmography at first. It was grainy, there were weird camera angles, lots of jittering and jarring around, almost to the point of making the audience dizzy. Once I got used to it I realized how brilliantly this movie is filmed. There is an impression of watching on a huge television screen, like what you would imagine it would look like if you really were watching the Hunger Games as a live program.

This movie is about contrasts. The costuming, and  the greyish / washed out coloring in the districts  is reminiscent of poverty in a 1930’s Nazi Germany police state, but the white storm trooper outfits on the guards implied that this was in the future and not the past. The district scenes are a stark contrast to the lush, green forest outside the district fencing, where Katniss and Gale find their only freedom. Suddenly we have an extreme close up of Effie Trinket (Elizabeth Banks), a synthetic Depp Dragette, complete with pink and white clown make up.  She is totally out of context in both the district or the forest.  The capital itself is outrageously garish, seemingly an entire city of drag queens. The surreal nature of the city symbolizes the frivolity and the shallowness of the reigning culture; it is a perfect parody of our own. I also thought it was brilliant how natural looking our protagonists were. Lawrence and Hutcherson wore very little make up if any at all. Hollywood has a tendancy to “make” the actors look natural in a contrived way, not so with this movie and it was a smart move. It was contast again between what was real and what was fake, between the reality of the life of hardship in the districts vs the life of luxury, opulence and decadence in the city.

Debra Zane did a great job in casting these characters.  Jennifer Lawrence has a natural beauty that compliments a character who is most comfortable in the forest. Lawrence did a high wire balancing act; portraying a youth who’s lost her innocence to life’s harsh circumstances, yet she was able to maintain a sense of naivety.

Josh Hutcherson (Road to Tarabithia), is perfect as Peeta. Does anyone else think it’s amusing that the baker’s son is named after

Actor Josh Hutcherson in Fantastic Fest 2009.

Actor Josh Hutcherson in Fantastic Fest 2009. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

a piece of flatbread? When girls in the audience say “Peeta is HOT”, I wonder if they realize it sounds like they’re talking about a toasted sandwich. (Stephen King was right; the names in this novel are a bit silly.) Hutcherson’s “Micheal J. Fox, boy next door”   wholesomeness hides an element of cunning that should not be underestimated.  I’ve always liked Josh Hutcherson, I can’t help but wonder what turn his career will take now that he’s become a teen heartthrob.

My favorite character was Haymitch, Woody Harrelson offered a tragic yet hopeful figure and the only comic relief in a VERY intense movie. I was waiting to see him fall off the stage at the reaping. I wonder why they didn’t put that in.

Donald Sutherland was delightfully evil as President Snow. He’s so good at being bad.

What I liked MOST about this movie is that it takes place OUTSIDE of Katniss’s head. Audiences are smart, we don’t need it explained to us, and we don’t have to hear all that painful teenage angst to know that it’s going on. Also, we get to actually see behind the scenes.

The politics of the situation and the games Haymitch plays off the court on their behalf to keep them alive. (This is how the BOOK should be written!)  I do wish there were more scenes of Katniss’s family back home showing their horror of what their loved one is forced to do to survive. When they cut to Rew’s family and her districts reaction to her death, it was the most powerful moment of the film.

I haven’t read the second book. I’m starting to think that perhaps I don’t want to ruin the film for myself and maybe I’ll just wait until the next one comes out.

Arrietty, a Story of Love, and Trust, and Friendship

Standard

I loved it, loved it, and loved it! Did I mention I loved it?

My kids have been waiting for the release of this film and it didn’t disappoint. Studio Ghibli has produced another visually stunning film that focuses on far deeper issues than your average Disney Princess trash. This film is a work of art, a painting of a moment in time shared by a dying child and a fairy. This is what I imagine a REAL fairy would be like. They call themselves Borrowers. For years I’ve thought there were little people stealing things from my dresser, my bathroom counters, and my kitchen cupboards. Now I know it’s TRUE. Ever drop something on the floor, go to retrieve it and it’s completely disappeared? Well, now I can say the Borrowers took it.

In true Ghibli fashion, the setting was breathtaking. In Kiki’s Delivery Service we got to see what the ocean side looks like from the height of a flying broom, in Howl’s Moving Castle we got to see the wide and majestic mountainscapes that remind me of secret meadows I’ve discovered while hiking the Rocky Mountains. In Arrietty, the scene is a simple cottage garden, but from the point of view of the Fae, it’s an entire world. The detail is truly amazing, right down to the brown spots on the English Ivy.

As I mentioned, this is the story of a boy who has come to rest at his family’s cottage because he is suffering a terrible heart condition and awaiting surgery. Living in their own little nook of the house is a family of Borrowers. The story is very sweet as the two protagonists develop a caring relationship which breaks the bonds of fear and prejudice between the species of Human “Bean” and “Borrower”. The film tackles the subject of death and depicts family love and support during times of hardship and struggle.

I thought the voices were wonderful. Carol Burnett was  hilarious as the protagonist, Hara, and the music was magical. I think I’m going to have to buy the soundtrack.

This is a story about love, and trust and friendship. You can’t get a children’s story any better than that.

Howl’s Moving Castle

Standard

Anime film “Howl’s Moving Castle” by Hayao Miyazaki, based on the novel by Dianna Wynn Jones released way back in 2004. With two kids both in love with Anime, how did I miss this one until now?

Howl’s Moving Castle is classic Miyazaki, from the stunning scenery (much like Kiki’s Delivery Service,  1989 which is my favorite by the way) to the weird, leech like monsters (reminiscent of the strange beings met in Ponyo,  2008).  This was a perfect story to be brought to life by Anime as Jones’ strange, Baba Yaga like castle fits perfectly into the Miyazaki world of weirdness.

Sophie, is a 19 year old girl who sees herself as a plain Jane. She seems to have resigned herself to living an ordinary life in her family’s hat shop, until she is bullied by soldiers in the street and rescued from their unwanted attention by a handsome young wizard. Due to this meeting she is put into the path of the Witch of the Waste who puts an ageing curse on Sophie who subsequently runs away from her home and her family in search of the cure. Her adventure leads her to mysterious Howl and a variety of other wonderful characters who become her new family.

Howl’s Moving Castle is a love story. We see both main characters faced with life changing and growth inspiring challenges.  For me, it was the characters more than the plot that made this movie entertaining. There were many holes that left me wondering if perhaps there was much left “on the cutting room floor”. Both my kids kept asking me why these two countries were at war, which actually turned out to be kind of important to the story, at least to one of the characters. We are also left with not enough background information on Howl, what is the nature of the relationships he has with both the Witch of the Waste, as well as the King’s court Sorceress.

We all loved the movie with its fascinating and at times very amusing characters and a very plucky and brave heroine, but I was left with the impression that there is much more to the story so I’ve ordered the novel. Perhaps when I read it to my daughter all those questions will be answered.