The Heiress and the Human Target

January 18, 2010

Sunday, while busily working on my novella—I have to finish up one final scene today—I took a short break and started channel surfing.

I stopped at Turner Classic Movies (TCM) and saw that they were about to show William Wyler’s 1949 film, The Heiress, starring Olivia de Havilland, Montgomery Clift, Ralph Richardson and Miriam Hopkins.

The Heiress is one of those movies that I will literally stop whatever I’m doing (in this case drafting a scene for my novella) and watch it. It’s that good. I first saw it years ago, on TCM, and happen to come into the movie about 1/3 into it. But I was hooked. And I watch it every time it’s on TCM. (I should buy it and intend to one day).

The Heiress is based on a 1947 play, which was based on the 1880 novel Washington Square by Henry James.

De Havilland plays Catherine Sloper, the only daughter of a wealthy doctor. She is plain, shy and clearly lacking (as her father never fails to remind her) of the grace and beauty her deceased mother and the doctor’s wife lacked.

A very young Montgomery Clift plays Morris Townsened, a handsome, charming but poor man who woos Catherine, much to the annoyance of Catherine’s father, who sees Morris as nothing but a fortune hunter.

What’s great about Montgomery Clift’s performance is, yes, it’s obvious that he’s after Catherine’s money but you sometimes feel that he actually does care for her.

Ralph Richardson is excellent as Catherine’s father, the emotionally distant Dr. Sloper.

It’s one of those movies where there isn’t a misstep, IMHO. Not in the casting, the acting, the directing, the plot, or the writing.

After the movie was over, I went back to writing.

Then, once I had written as much as I could for the day, I decided to watch the premier episode of a new show on Fox called The Human Target. To be honest, I usually avoid shows like this like the plague. Don’t ask me why, I just do. 🙂

But something intrigued me about this show and I watched it and I have to say I liked it.

Mark Valley plays Christopher Chase, a professional bodyguard and security expert, who insinuates himself into his client’s lives in order to become the human target, that is, he’s the one who sets himself up to take the bullet.

His cronies include Winston (Chi McBride), his business partner, who keeps wondering why Chase continues to endanger himself the way he does, and Guerrero, played by Jackie Earle Haley, of Watchmen and Bad News Bears fame, whose character I’m assuming was once a criminal but works with Chase.

The show is based on a comic book character called The Human Target, which first appeared back in 1972.

Nothing ground-breaking, I have to say, but I thought the episode moved well, Chase has a kind of devil-may-care but hidden dark side to him quirkiness, he looks good in a suit and the character of Guerrero intrigues me. It starts its regular programming on Wednesday so I’ll continue to check it out.

I’ve been watching Supernatural and The Vampire Diaries on the CW and they start their new episodes this week.

As for writing, I finished that short story I was working on last week and submitted it just in time for the submission deadline this past Friday.

Today I have to finish the final scene of my novella so that I can spend the next two weeks revising it as I have to submit it on February 1st in order to make the deadline.

And that’s all for now. 🙂


Deep Freeze and Alien Sex

January 7, 2010

It appears that 2/3 of the population of the USA are experiencing some sort of deep freeze. Whether from bitterly cold temps or tons of snow.

Here we’re going to get snow, then bitter cold again and then—YES!— a warm up back to the low 30s! Wow, that’s going to feel practically balmy. 🙂

However, before that happens we’re getting snow today. Possibly about nine or so inches before it’s all over. 😦

I’m in revision mode on my short story and drafting mode on novella. I need to submit my short story next week and novella the end of this month.

For anyone who saw Avatar, apparently the full love scene between Jake and Neteryi (and I hope that’s not a spoiler for anyone) will be on the DVD. Cameron cut the scene to keep the rating at PG-13, which I kinda figured he did. But if you noted in the movie that the Na’vi use their queues to synch with the animals and plant life on Pandora, you can imagine (if you care to, that is) how they use their queues during mating.

Personally, I find watching people make love on huge screens with blasting surround-sound a bit unnerving and over the years I’ve noticed that, except for some hard-core action flicks (and even not so much in those anymore), movies don’t have anywhere near the amount of explicit sex they used to have. Cable TV sure does, but movies not so much. For one thing, PG-13 ratings nowadays usually spell bigger box offices as opposed to R rated movies.

As for alien sex, a couple of years back I went to a panel discussion at Wiscon on alien sex. That is, creating sexual practices for your alien characters. It was a fun discussion as the panelists and the audience discussed myriad ways to imagine and write about mating practices for the aliens in one’s stories.

Most of the suggestions for doing so advised writers to look at the sexual behavior of creatures here on earth and extrapolate from that. When I have more time, I think I’ll do a blog post on that very thing. I’m doing a lot of thinking and reading about world-building. Creating races and species and their cultures for fantasy or SF is very important when creating a brand new world that you want to immerse your reader in.

Happy New Year!

December 31, 2009

Happy New Year!

Hope everyone enjoys New Year’s Eve and has a Happy and Prosperous 2010!

Okay, so I had written this rather long review of both Avatar and District 9, but after having cruised about the Internet and read articles and comments and blog posts about both movies that ranged from the profound and thought-provoking to the asinine and ridiculous, I’ve decided just to say this.

I liked Avatar. A lot. I enjoyed seeing it in 3D and I hope to see it again as I’d like to share the experience of viewing it with others.

I liked District 9. A lot. I enjoyed watching it on DVD and I hope to purchase it at some point.

I think the reason I decided not to post my more extensive review is because I did not want to add to what has already been said about both these movies as each has stirred up quite a lot of controversy.

And, in all honesty, I’m weary of controversies, conspiracies and allegedly nefarious agendas by whatever powers that be that are purportedly trying to degrade or destroy or obliterate whatever ideology or beliefs such and such a group hold. And that goes for the ideology and/or beliefs of those on both the Left and the Right.

Seriously, can’t we all just get along!

So I will say this about Avatar and District 9. I thought both, in their respective ways, were examples of what movies do best. Both of them emotionally engaged me, both of them took me to worlds I had never experienced and both of them, by the time the credits started to roll, left me with a rather substantial lump in my throat.

The Princess and the Frog

December 20, 2009

The Princess and the Frog was a delight, both visually and musically. I can’t say that it broke any new ground in terms of music or visuals but the fact that it’s Disney’s’ first African-American princess was groundbreaking enough.

Tianna is a hard-working young woman who wants nothing more than to open her own restaurant in 1920s New Orleans. As she sings in her musical number, she’s almost there. Her rich friend, Lottie, wants nothing more than to marry a prince.

And a prince does arrive in the person of Prince Naveen. Naveen however is flat broke as his parents have cut him off without a red cent because Naveen prefers to enjoy himself and not be the responsible future king he’s supposed to be.

Naveen has come to New Orleans looking for a rich woman to marry but he runs afoul of the Shadow Man, a local voodoo practitioner, who turns him into a frog so that Naveen’s valet can be made to look like the prince, marry the rich heiress and the Shadow Man can have all that money.

Naveen, having heard, like Tianna, the story of the Frog Prince as a child goes in search of a princess to turn him human again. He comes across Tianna, who has just had her dreams of owning her restaurant dashed.

Tianna is dressed like a princess but it’s only a costume as it’s Mardi Gras. But Naveen does not know that. He convinces Tianna that if she kisses him, once he marries Lottie he will give her the money for her restaurant. However, because Tianna isn’t a real princess when she kisses Naveen she turns into a frog also.

From there on, the two must find a way to become human again while making their way through the bayou, avoiding being eaten or hunted, and learning that the two of them were, of course, meant for each other.

They are aided in their journey by a love-sick Cajun firefly (who is in love with a star) and a gator who wants nothing more than to play jazz but, well, he’s a gator. There’s a kind of screwball comedy aspect to Tianna and Naveen’s journey toward love which was very sweet.

I also liked the fact that, unlike a lot of animated movies today, there were no anachronistic jokes. All the characters were rooted in the time and milieu of 1920’s Louisiana, and whether it was New Orleans or the Bayou, the dialogue and jokes were of that time period.

It brought out the kid in me and the way I’ve been feeling of late, trust me, that’s a very good thing. The audience for the early morning showing I went to consisted of mostly little girls (and some little boys) with their parents or grandparents and judging from the reactions I think they all pretty much enjoyed the movie.

It’s definitely a child’s movie with its proverbial lessons of hard work, believing in oneself and learning to be worthy of love and a happily ever after, but the child in me loved it. And in the world we live in today where public conversation–especially in the media–seem to be nothing but cynicism and criticism and pessimism, maybe those aren’t bad lessons for us adults to take to heart.

Movies, Movies and more Movies

December 18, 2009

Taking a little break from writing tomorrow to go see The Princess and the Frog. The movie is set in New Orleans (which is the setting for my NaNo novel), it’s set in the Jazz Age (a favorite time period of mine) and, best of all, it’s drawn animation not computer generated animation, which is okay, mind you, but I do love the drawn animation too.

The following weekend it will be Avatar and the weekend after that Sherlock Holmes.

I’m not expecting the ground to shake or the heavens to open with Avatar,as the plot looks to be by the numbers, but I am curious to see it.

I haven’t been to the movies since Harry Potter came out this past summer so I’m overdue I think.

Plus I need to prime the writing pump, as they say. I’m currently writing a novel set in New Orleans (the setting for The Princess and the Frog), I’m going to be writing a steampunk soon and I’m also writing this month a short story set in the Victorian era (Sherlock Holmes will be great for that) and I’m also going to be writing a sci-fi romance sometime early in 2010, and Avatar may prove useful for some inspiration in that area, I think.

And I LOVE movies.

However, have they ever gotten expensive! I can’t believe our local theater is now charging $9.00 for an evening showing. $9.00! I have no doubt it’s probably higher in other cities.

Well, the theater also has what they call Early Bird specials. Go to a movie early in the morning (around nineish) and get in for $5.50. Those are the showings I will be attending. And no food. Wouldn’t want to eat anything that early in the morning anyway.

Let it Snow

December 7, 2009

…since it’s going to anyway. We’re looking at our first major snow storm of the season this upcoming Tuesday night into Wednesday. At least a foot if not more. Ugh! I’m no big fan of snow but I’ve been dealing with it every winter for far longer than I care to remember, so I’ll just have to drag out my boots and coat, hat and gloves from last winter and deal with it.

I hadn’t realized it’s been nearly a week since my last blog post.
I’ve been busy writing. I have a submission going out this week, which I’m in the process of finishing up revisions for.

I’m still working on my NaNo novel and finally broke 25,000 words on it. Yay me!

I did take some time to watch some movies. Last week I watched Akeelah and the Bee, which is a heart-warming story about a girl from South Los Angeles who is in love with words and decides to take a chance and try for the Scripps National Spelling Bee or “the Bee” as it’s apparently called.

The actress who plays Akeelah, Keke Palmer, was wonderful in the role, as was Laurence Fishburne, who plays the professor of English who tutors her for the Bee. Angela Bassett, who plays Akeelah’s mom, was teamed up with Fishburne again. The last time these two were in a movie together it was in What’s Love Got to Do With It, the biopic about Ike and Tina Turner. The rest of the supporting cast was just as great and the movie is a joy to watch in every way.

I tell you, I do wonder if the words those kids have to spell are really, truly actual words, but watching the movie brought to mind how much I love words. I like the quote on the poster above. “Changing the world one word at a time.” Amen.

The other movie I watched was Public Enemies, starring Johnny Depp and Christian Bale. Depp played John Dillinger and Bale was the FBI agent, Melvin Purvis, who brought Dillinger down.

I have to admit a weakness for the fashions of the 30s and 40s and this movie delivered that up in spades. Depp was very good as Dillinger and so was Bale as Purvis, but the movie could have been edited down from its 2 hours and 20 minutes running time and, to be honest, I didn’t start to feel emotionally invested in the movie until the third act. The movie was filmed around this area so it was kinda neat seeing places I recognized. I’d say if you’re a Depp fan or a fan of gangster movies, give it a looksee. If not, you can probably safely pass on it.

Anywho, that’s about all that’s going on in this neck of the woods. Oh, I did get another review for Sweet Spot, but this is one I don’t mind sharing. It’s from Joyfully Reviewed


NaNoing On

December 1, 2009

NaNo is officially over and all total I came to 22,558 words.

But, a couple of women in my local RWA chapter also wound up with about the same number of words so we’re going to keep NaNoing (unofficially, of course) into December. I’ll have to find another word counter so if anyone knows where I can, just point me in that digital direction.

Meanwhile, in addition to continuing on with NaNo I’m working apace on other projects.

There’s actually quite a few movies coming out this month and the upcoming months that I want to see. I’m especially looking forward to Benico Del Toro as The Wolfman, which is coming out early next year. And there’s a vampire movie coming out called Daybreakers, which I think I also might want to see.

Heath Ledger’s last movie, The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, is also slated for release next year.