Thursday, December 1, 2011

Harry Potter

The Harry Potter culture is something that I will never understand. I am always astonished at what people create, wear, or do regarding Harry Potter. I grew up with these books, I was always a fan of the books and I vaguely remember having a Potter-themed birthday party when I turned twelve or thirteen, but most of my friends became huge fans, even obsessed. I didn’t read all of the books, just up until book five, and honestly I didn’t watch all the movies until we saw part of Part 2 in class and I went home and finished it. Many of my friends got all the books at midnight when they were released and saw all the movies at their midnight premieres. They dress up as them and have parties and constantly quote the books and scowl me when they reference something and I don’t know what they’re talking about.
I think it is safe to say that I overdosed on Harry Potter last summer. I live in Orlando and last summer they were opened the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal. I was part of the photo team that shot all the images before and after it opened. For two weeks straight I was there twelve hours a day, surrounded by it. It was astonishing to see what the books have become, how there are so many people of all ages around the world who are completely obsessed with this series. Opening day was like nothing I have ever seen. I can’t even guess how many people were there, tens of thousands, as far as I could see. All pouring sweat, cooking under the Florida heat, layered in their cloaks and shirts, wands ready trying to open the gates. Within minutes of the curtain drop I couldn’t move, everybody was standing shoulder to shoulder, the park was more crowded than a can of sardines but the amazing thing was nobody seemed to notice. Everybody was mesmerized that their dream had come true, that they were actually in Hogsmeade and on their way to Hogwarts.
I haven’t read any stories written by fans but I have looked at some art. I noticed a lot of Manga styled illustrations as well as a lot of parodies. What I was surprised to find was a lot of adult rated fan art. Some peoples imagination has taken them to a different place, turning a fantasy story into a bigger fantasy dream. 

Video Games

            Even as a kid I could never fully get into video games. I had a PS2 and played it a bit, but even when I did I didn’t follow the story too often. That’s why I liked cra games, because I could just drive around and crash and win races, which required a short attention span. But narrative games I would either get frustrated or bored then would just wander around the game doing random things. A prime example is when I got Grand Theft Auto Vice City, I begged for it because it was a mature game and when I got it all I really did was steal fast cars and run over people. Eventually my friends would come over and play it and follow the story.
            Last year I lived with three guys who were all obsessed with video games, and each played their own game for the most part. Every game involved shooting somebody for some different reason, but it was interesting to see how many stories they could come up with on why you were shooting the other person. Call of Duty was the main game, and as we all know this is a war game fighting terrorists. But the story was about a soldier brain washed, not able to remember previous missions and trying to piece everything back together, very similar to the Bourne Series. The other main game was Saints Row, which is very similar to Grand Theft Auto, you’re in a gang and it’s your job to expand your territory and sell more drugs for more money, and of course you have to kill the other gang members for their territory and to earn respect points.
The newer the games are, the more movie like they become. You actually watch short clips from what you think could be a real movie, and then play the game to keep the story going. I don’t think this makes them literature. Video games are open worlds, you do follow a story but the player is in control of where the character goes and when, it has too much freedom to be literature, which is more structured and tells the reader everything that happens exactly as it goes. A story is told through playing the narrative game, but I don’t see it as a literary experience. Maybe future games will have more of a literary type feel since games are now much more like movies, but as of now I don’t see the connection. 

Asterios Polyp

            I was really surprised with this graphic novel. I was more impressed with the illustration over the dialogue. The way every character was their own style of illustration and how their speech bubbles were all different shapes and different fonts. I would read more graphic novels if they shared this style. The story line was good but it wasn’t enough to keep me as interested as the illustrations did. My favorite use of the different styles was with Asterios and his wife. Asterios was drawn like architecture; blue lines, all perfectly straight or perfect circles connecting to make his body. While his wife, the artist, was drawn as a sketch with flowing lines. When they met and fell in love their two styles converged into one, simple, clean, blue illustrations; but the best part was when they fought and their styles were literally torn apart. In a series of a few panels the couple would slowly go from the same back to their original styles before they met, it heightened the anger and distance between them, made them seem as if they were on different planets.
            I was so interested in this I read the whole novel straight through in one sitting. Something that was really interesting was how questions were answered without even being asked. For example, in the first few pages when Asterios is on his bed watching tv you hear what you think is an adult movie being played then see a collection of home videos. It looked as if that was his “stash” and he was a lonely man. But later he showed his girlfriend that he had video cameras throughout the whole house to make him feel less alone and that he never watched any footage. The audio that sounded like it was from an adult film was really one of their dates recorded in the kitchen, when Asterios made a salad and she loved it.
            The characters were really interesting, but I think what made them so interesting were the different styles they were illustrated in, it always felt like I was reading something different. Another one of my favorite parts was when Asterios helped build the tree house. It was not his design but he helped build it and mentioned it was the first house he ever built. It continually mentioned how he won awards for design but yet none of them were ever built. Building the tree house was almost like a cleansing process for him I feel. He did something he strived for all his life. 

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Jean-Pierre Jeunet

            I chose to watch two films by director Jean-Pierre Jeunet, I chose Delicatessen and A Very Long Engagement. My roommate is a big fan of this director and told me a lot about him so I thought I would watch his films to get a more in depth look.
            I really enjoyed his style of films. Delicatessen was a post-apocalyptic film based in France where a butcher killed people and sold their meet to tenants who typically only lived off of grain, which was also the currency. The entire film had an orange-sepia tone to it, which made everything look dirty and dismal. A new tenant comes to live in the apartment building, the butcher plans on killing him for meat, but the tenant falls in love with the butchers daughter. Through a series of events the daughter hires an underground group of anarchists to kidnap the tenant so he won’t be murdered. In the end the wrong person is kidnapped but the tenant realizes what is going to happen and runs from the butcher. In the process the apartment building gets destroyed, along with many of its tenants who are craving more meat. The butcher corners the tenant but kills himself in an attempt to kill him. The next morning the film does not have the orange-sepia tone to it, it shows daylight for the first time and the two main characters, the tenant and butchers daughter, are both smiling in the daylight.
            For a post-apocalyptic film this was the most well written I have seen. There were no zombies or physically deformed people; the only out-of-the-ordinary aspect was the butcher selling human meets to his customer with their knowing. And the fact that tenants would look for people in which to kill for meat. Nothing was left to question at the end of the film, and there were some really interesting secondary characters. My favorite was a woman who continually tried to kill herself in the craziest of ways but always had something go wrong so she could never die. It was a really interesting film and I really enjoyed it.
            Although I did prefer A very Long Engagement over it. This film was much more of what you would call a chick-flick, but I think it was more well done. It is about a man and woman in France who fall in love as kids and grow up together. World War One comes around and her now fiancé is sent to the trenches. She hears rumors that he has been killed but has no solid evidence of the fact and refuses to believe so. She searches for clues and talks to many men who served with him, all telling the story from a different perspective. This was what made the film so interesting. To have the same story told five times, but every time it was told it showed the scene shot from a different angle, and a little more was added every time. The film was shot beautifully, with amazing camera shots and colors. This film does seem more directed towards women because it is about a love that was never given up on, but I really enjoyed it because of the complexity of the story being told so many times with clues being added and because it was shot so well.
            Both films were French so reading the subtitles made me pay attention more and really get the story because I had to read every word opposed to not hearing everything when I typically watch a movie. I really enjoyed his style of directing as well as writing and will be watching more of his films. 

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


This is a story of a dark twisted man obsessed with girls of a certain, young age. When Humbert is a boy he falls in love with a girl his age, but she dies and he is heart broken. For the rest of his life he can’t move on from the death of his love when he was just a boy.
Now he is a grown man and is fascinated, better yet, obsessed with little girls. He takes things to a new level when he marries Charlotte Haze, a woman his age just so he can be closer to the woman, rather girl, he loves, Dolores “Lolita” Haze, Charlotte’s young daughter. She is his obsession and he is fully in love with her and wants nothing more than for her to be in love with him too. Charlotte finds out his plot of trying to be with her daughter but is tragically killed, so now Humbert really has a chance to be with Lolita. He is in love with her and takes her across the country and tries to make her fall for him.
This book is in no way a love story to me. Typically love stories are about two people who are in love and tells of their struggles to be together, but in the end they usually end up together very happy. This book has none of those romantic or tear jerking qualities. It’s about an old man who is obsessed and in love with a twelve-year old girl; he can clearly be labeled as a pedophile. Just because he is in love and goes through struggles to be with her doesn’t make it a love story. The love has to go both ways, but Humbert tries to force Lolita to love him and she does not, she even runs away when she gets the chance. Humbert was truly in love with Lolita and no one else, but Lolita’s mother, Charlotte, was in love with Humbert until she found out his secret. After her death Humbert takes Lolita across the country on an on-going road trip to try to make her fall for him, he takes advantage of her a few times but still she feels nothing for him. Eventually Lolita finds love, but with someone else, she runs off with a boy she met who wrote a play she was acting in, they leave town together and Humbert is without his love because she has found hers.  But even then it is not true love, the man throws out Lolita because she will not act in a pornographic film he is shooting. So now both characters are without their loved ones, but even if they were together Lolita would still be without her love. Eventually she finds love and actually marries the man. She gets pregnant and reaches out to Humbert asking for money, it has been years since he has heard from her. He thinks he can be back with his love now but she is in love with someone else. Humbert is jealous and wants her back, even though she was never really his because she doesn’t love him. He kills her husband and thinks now he can have Lolita again, but is arrested just after the murder is committed. Now they are both alone again, Humbert still without his love Lolita, and Lolita without the love of her husband. They both die alone, without anyone to love or receive love from.
There is a lot of love in this book, but none it connects with one another. Everybody loves someone who doesn’t love him or her back, except for Lolita and her husband, but he is a minor character. Nobody ends up happy in the end, mainly because everybody has died. They all wanted love, Humbert even killed for it, but in the end Lolita and Humbert died alone. Humbert chased love but he never received any from the girl he truly loved. 

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


            I have to admit, this was the first anime film I have ever watched. When I was younger I would watch an episode every now and then of Pokémon or Dragon Ball Z, but I’ve never seen a full movie.  I have never been into this style of art or even this culture stylistically, but this was a good way of forcing it on me.
            Ponyo is the story of a magical “goldfish” that wishes to become human after meeting and falling in love with a young boy. Her magical father and mother who is a goddess of the sea look for her by sending the waves of a giant storm to where she is. The scene where Ponyo is running on top of the waves is my favorite scene from the film. The waves grow up to massive sizes and are actually shaped like fish, all jumping on top one another and crashing down and breaking into water. The large purple fish-waves crash and flood the town but Ponyo is running on top of the waves chasing the boy she is in love with.  I really liked how the massive fish represented the power and force of the waves as well as showing how alive the storm was.
            It was also the first Japanese film I have ever seen. I was able to follow the story just fine because of the subtitles and think that if I watched the American version I may have turned it off because I would have thought it was absurd. But many many anime films come from Japan, this is their culture and style of art so I accepted what it was and watched it the way it was originally intended to be watched. Honestly I am not too much of a fan of this style of art but overall I enjoyed this film. 


            This was the first silent film I have ever seen but I was pretty amazed by it. The most amazing aspect of this movie to me was the grandiose sets built. Metropolis was made in 1927, yet it still had a budget of around 1.3 million dollars. The sets built were huge; part of the movie could have actually been a city. I feel like this movie was the Avatar of its time, the big movie with the huge budget that everybody went to go see.
            I enjoyed the movie’s story. About a rich man wanting to be equal with the workers who run his fathers city, and about a revolt by the workers led by and woman who they see as saint-like. They have secret meetings where they discuss how they can overthrow the metropolis, which they run because they operate the machines.
            My favorite scene from the film was when Freder, Joh Fredersen’s son, sees the workers and the machines for the first time. He witnesses a meltdown at one of the machine, in a cloud of smoke it transforms from a massive staircase full of men twisting knobs and pulling levers, to a gigantic sinister face made from machine parts, laughing as smoke fills the screen and men fall dead. The transformation from machine to monster in this scene made the whole metropolis look like and evil empire that needed to be shut down.
            It was a little hard to watch just because there was no monologue and because some scenes were missing, but overall I thought it was a beautifully done film and will remain a classic.