Posts Tagged ‘stephen king’

When I read today’s topic from The Daily Post, countless ideas flooded my mind. If I could be any celebrity for one day, who would it be?

My first thought was whatever supermodel was fortunate enough to be currently dating Leonardo DiCaprio. No, that would be a waste of the day. (I’ll come back for you, Leo.)

After that notion faded, my mind came to a few of my favorite directors. Frank Darabont (The Mist, The Green Mile), Christopher Nolan (Inception, The Dark Knight), or Tobe Hooper (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Poltergeist). I can’t imagine what fifteen minutes inside the mind of any one of these men would be like. Maybe it would inspire a new way of thinking that would skyrocket me to fame, my name mentioned with the likes of Alfred Hitchcock and Quentin Tarantino. I kind of envision me just walking around in their minds as if they were museums. I would see all the fantastic ideas they had already claimed as their own, without thinking of any for myself.

Okay, maybe I’ll be an actress. Working under the direction of one of the greatest directors to ever life has to be inspiring, right? My favorite actress is definitely Kathy Bates. If you haven’t seen the movie Misery, watch it and tell me she isn’t the most incredible actress to ever walk the earth. Or maybe I could play a Victorian era goddess compliments of Keira Knightley. Can I go back in time to be Christian Bale in American Psycho? I have the Huey Lewis & The News scene memorized, I would blow everyone away. Then again, I feel like there is never a day that being Bruce Willis is a bad idea. That could work. I can do Die Hard. Maggie Gyllenhaal, Will Smith, Sandra Bullock and Emma Watson are also among my favorites. Or I could be Bethenny Frankel from The Real Housewives of New York. (The last one is a joke.)

Then the answer came to me.

The most brilliant writer to ever put pen to paper (or fingers to keys). Horror maven, Mr. Stephen King. The man responsible for The Shining, It, Carrie, The Mist, Misery, The Green Mile.. Shall I continue? Clearly this man’s imagination is a gold mine. If I could think like Stephen King, there was nothing I couldn’t do. Although, I wouldn’t just want to inhabit his body and live as him for a day. Can I just sit in a dark corner of his flourishing mind and see how his imagination works?

Come to think of it, Stephen King’s mind is a celebrity in itself. That is who I would be. A fly on the wall in the mind of the Master of the Macabre, himself.

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I think it’s safe to say that anyone who considers themselves a writer has dealt with two things: Writer’s block, and your ruthless inner critic.

I recently posted about my first experience with Julia Cameron’s book, The Artist’s Way. The first section features a segment about what Cameron calls “The Morning Pages.” Essentially, this is a daily practice of writing three unfiltered, unedited pages of whatever you want. The point is to write without limits; not allowing yourself to look back and criticize what you’ve written. I found myself, of course, over-thinking what I was writing. Isn’t it kind of interesting that your inner critic comes out, even when you’re doing informal journaling that no one will ever lay eyes on except for you?

That’s a problem I’ve been struggling with lately; it’s somewhere between writer’s block and my inner critic. It’s not that I don’t have ideas, but I can’t bring myself to write something that I don’t think is good enough. I’ll begin, writing a couple paragraphs, then look back at what I wrote. Sigh. This sounded so much better in my head. I know all of the how-to books and tips on writing say, “just write!” It’s not as easy as they say. Sure, technically I am writing, but repeated exposure to my inner critic along with lackluster writing doesn’t seem to improve my writing the way all the writing experts say it will.

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Julia Cameron stresses the endless possibilities of the morning pages. She encourages the writer to include all of the seemingly petty, silly things floating in their mind. Getting them off your chest, and into the morning pages. It will free you; once they’re out of the way, it’s just you and your creativity. The morning pages give you the power to grant yourself the freedom to make mistakes. In the beginning, I wrote my morning pages as a stream of consciousness, but as a narrative. It could be a major production of dueling dragons, chivalrous knights, and fair maidens. It could be about an alternate theory as to how Peter Parker became Spider-Man. I like to alternate my writing setting, and the local Starbucks is one of the places that I frequent. It sounds somewhat creepy, but sometimes I would pick a person in the coffee shop and make up a story about them.
I thought that writing the morning pages as a narrative could spark an idea for a real story. I really enjoyed it, and this practice did generate some worthwhile ideas that I explored further outside of the morning pages. Occasionally I would have a bad day, and wouldn’t feel like being creative. I would just write my morning pages about what ruined my day. It became progressively less artistic, and infinitely more of an angst-filled diary. In my defense, I was around 15 years old the first time I began morning pages. Oh, the pleasantries of pages upon pages, filled with documentation of teenage melodrama. I’m sure you can understand why the morning pages, at that point, were no longer beneficial to my creative process.


 

I have progressed in Julia Cameron‘s book, and am now in the stage of “creative recovery.” She essentially encourages readers to nurture their creative self; protect it from criticism. Evaluate and dissect the appraisal; expose yourself to the constructive criticism. Assess what it is about the purely negative critique that bothers you; if you can create constructive criticism from that, then do so. If not, discard it. If it can’t help you, it serves no purpose.

I wouldn’t say I’m a pessimist, but I’m certainly not an optimist. Perhaps it’s me disguising negativity as being a realist. Whatever you want to call it, I know that I will always be somewhat critical of myself when it comes to writing. I used to be able to just retrieve that spark of passion, and write eagerly. My ideas were exciting to me, and I believed in them with every fiber of my being. I had created characters that became more than characters to me. I developed them, and they were important enough to me that they served as gasoline on flames; I wanted to write more. I loved the story, I loved the characters, and it was my duty to narrate their adventures in a way that was worthy of them. Lately, while I have been writing, it feels forced. I have no passion for what I am writing. My inner perfectionist is constantly reminding myself that what I’m doing isn’t worth being passionate about.


 

My question to all of you is this: How do you overcome your inner critic? What is it that ignites passion for what you’re writing?
This post is for all my writers!

I love when I see collaboration, sharing of ideas, offering advice and constructive criticism, and most importantly praise for a great post amongst writers. Everyone has their own unique style, and writers can learn a lot from each other. Anything that you have to share; a useful tip someone once shared with you, pass it on. A source that provides you with infinite inspiration, share it in a comment below! Also, if you have a favorite author, who is it and why? Let me know! Thank you all for reading!

What is the greatest movie ever made?

It’s a loaded question. There’s no possible way to ever get a definitive answer, unfortunately. How would you even go about deciding? You could look to box office success and decide that way (accounting for only theatrical revenue, that would be James Cameron‘s Avatar). You could poll movie critics, movie-goers, filmmakers… But it’s unlikely that you would get more than 3 people to provide the same answer.

As for the top ten highest grossing films, the list is as follows:

1. Avatar (2009)
2. Titanic (1997)
3. Marvel’s The Avengers (2012)
4. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 (2011)
5. Frozen (2013)
6. Iron Man 3 (2013)
7. Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011)
8. The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (2003)
9. Skyfall (2012)
10. The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

My personal favorite of the films listed above is Christopher Nolan‘s The Dark Knight Rises, and it is likely that there are plenty of people who don’t think Avatar is worthy of the title of “Greatest Movie Ever Made.” Great? Sure. The greatest ever? That’s debatable.

Most of these films have not won any Oscars (Avatar, Titanic, Lord of the Rings: Return of the King, and Skyfall were the only ones to snag an Oscar, [or 2, or 11 in the case of Titanic] but a few of the others were nominated.)

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There are plenty of factors a movie can be judged on. I prefer the story in The Avengers to that in Avatar, but there’s no question that Avatar was deserving of its Oscar wins in the categories of Best Cinematography, Best Art Direction, and Best Visual Effects. You could also base your decision off the performance of the actors. I prefer Leonardo DiCaprio in Titanic to Sam Worthington in Avatar, even though Avatar is higher on the list. You could also merit the films based on the quality of the plot, the overall look of the film, and many more factors.


 

After scouring the Internet for “The Greatest Movie Ever Made,” I found about a dozen different lists from different contributors. You can check out IMdB’s list of the 250 greatest films here – this list seems to encompass most of the films listed by other contributors. There were many lists that covered just the greats of one genre, but I omitted those, and only counted the ones that looked at movies overall. A lot films were on nearly every list. Francis Ford Coppola‘s 1972 film, The Godfather, was the most common film listed, taking the top spot on quite a few of the countdowns. Other films that appeared on numerous lists include Citizen Kane (1941), Vertigo (1958), The Shawshank Redemption (1994), Casablanca (1942), and Psycho (1960). There is no doubt that all of these films are considered great by many people, and I think it’s safe to say a lot of them could be considered classics. (Notice that though Avatar was the highest grossing film ever, it didn’t top any of the lists I encountered.)

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I found myself pondering this question, “what is the greatest movie ever made?” and I have come to the conclusion that there isn’t, nor can there ever be, one definitive answer.

So now I am posing this question to you: In your opinion, what is the greatest movie ever made and why?

 

Leave a comment below and let me know! Thanks for reading!

So this will be my first post after my unannounced (and unintentional) hiatus. Fortunately for you all, my hiatus was filled with tons of movies to review, after binge watching for the better part of a week.

Directed by Frank Darabont, based off the novella by Stephen King, The Mist was my favorite of the horror films I gorged on this week. You can read the NY Times review here.

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To be completely honest, the premise of this film may sound kind of stupid. A small town is plagued by a mysterious mist that holds a horrible, tentacled monster that preys on townsfolk. The majority of the film is set in the supermarket, where many people are scurrying to stock up on groceries before a storm arrives. Not surprisingly, the mist arrives, leaving them trapped in the store. The movie examines the interactions between the people in the supermarket as their situation grows exponentially bleak. The group is divided and turned against one another as the story progresses.

There is quite an interesting cast chosen in this movie. The hero of the story is David Drayton, played by Thomas Jane. David is accompanied by Amanda (Laurie Holden), his son Billy (Nathan Gamble), Dan (Jeffrey DeMunn), Irene (Frances Sternhagen), Private Jessup (Sam Witwer), Ollie (Toby Jones), and a few other less notable followers.

The loathsome Mrs. Carmody (Marcia Gay Harden) goes head to head against David and his “team.” Mrs. Carmody believes that the mist is God’s wrath against the less wholesome people in the store, claiming that they deserve it. (“Those of you who aren’t local should know that Mrs. Carmody is known in town for being unstable.” “No shit. What was your first clue?”) Mrs. Carmody drones on and on about the second coming and tries to stage a coup d’état against David, and the more likable characters. Due to the obnoxious nature of Harden’s character, a shining moment of the film was when Irene, a badass grandma, throws a can of peas at Mrs. Carmody (“Shut up you miserable buzzard! Stoning people who piss you off is perfectly okay. They do it in the bible, don’t they? And I’ve got lots of peas!”)

For those of you who didn’t notice above, this film features Laurie Holden and Jeffrey DeMunn, both of which starred in AMC’s The Walking Dead, as Andrea and Dale, respectively. Though she doesn’t have a large role in this film, Melissa McBride, known to TWD fans as Carol, also appears in The Mist.

This could just be me reading too far into what is meant to only be 2 hours of mindless entertainment, but I think there’s more to this movie than the characters trying to defeat a giant tentacled monster. It is always interesting to me to see the way different movies portray characters when they are thrown into a dangerous fight for survival. Each instance spurs a different reaction from the characters. You get to see who is loyal to the group, who would betray the group for their own benefit, the relationships that form, and who will emerge as a leader. It seems like this movie does a pretty good job depicting a group of people put into a dangerous situation and seeing how they react. As their fear becomes more intense, their relationships are strained and they begin to make more questionable decisions.

I’m not sure how many of you have seen, or are even familiar with this movie, but I recommend it. If you are a Stephen King fan like me, you should definitely see it. Any of you who have already seen this film, leave a comment and let me know what you thought. Thanks for reading.

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“A writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.” -Thomas Mann

To anyone reading this blog who is a writer (more than college essays, less than Ernest Hemingway) I know you’ve been in the same boat. Sure, it’s comforting to know that even the most renowned authors like Stephen King and J.K. Rowling struggle with writer’s block, but that doesn’t make it any more pleasant as you sit in front of a blank page waiting anxiously for something to happen. All the how-to articles tell you to “just write.” They claim that all writing is good writing (*scoffs*) and that it doesn’t matter what you write. Just begin to get the ball rolling. It’s not always that easy when you absolutely can’t think of anything. Every writer has their own technique for writing; some are highly ritualized – same time, same place on the third Wednesday of every month, while some write best in a spontaneous decision to jot down some ideas while you’re drinking a macchiato at Starbucks. Once I get going, I will be glued to my laptop for (literally) hours on end. Other days, when I just can’t muster up anything interesting, I give up after about 30 minutes (if we’re being honest, the last 20 minutes were probably spent browsing Pinterest).

It’s hard, for me anyway, to create a fool-proof formula for success with writing. I would venture to call it impossible, in fact. There isn’t a technique that will magically turn me into Charles Dickens every time I sit down at my computer. So, I come to you all for advice. What is your technique? What is the process that you go through when you have a successful (or unsuccessful) writing session? Do you have any tips that you find helpful in either busting writer’s block, or keeping you focused on your writing.

One technique that I really think helps break writer’s block is to go online and find “story starters.” You can Google it, and find them for any and all genres. They are either prompts for you to write about, or a basic thought for you to elaborate on and build your story from. (Like I said, you can find them for any genre, but here are some horror story starters.) Even if these prompts don’t serve as the premise for your next New York Times best seller, they can help you brainstorm. The prompt will inspire a new thought, and you can build and build, and before you know it you will have the premise for your next New York Times best seller.

Please don’t hesitate to post a comment telling me about your writing techniques, and tips on how you overcome the dreaded writer’s block. I’d love to hear it, so let me know! Thanks everyone!

“You just have to trust your own madness.” – Clive Barker

What makes a horror movie? Is it a charismatic protagonist that everyone is rooting for? Is it an iconic villain like Jason Voorhees, Freddy Krueger or Michael Myers? Is it the suspenseful music that floods the speakers as the villain approaches? (I know you’re humming the theme for Jaws as you read this.) Are the reality based horror films that are the most frightening? Or are the supernatural monster movies the most horrifying? Is it the film’s ability to produce genuine fear in the audience? (Do you guys agree with this list? Top 50 Scariest Horror Movies of All Time.)

In my opinion, horror movies are typically a hit or miss. I usually don’t feel neutral toward horror films; I either really enjoy them or really hate them. I have a hard time identifying what it is that makes a horror movie worth watching. Obviously an interesting, well-executed plot is important. Horror movies have a reputation for being predictable and repetitive. There are only so many times we can watch a group of obnoxious teenagers get hacked up one by one, while on an overnight camping trip. However, when you get a horror movie with a never-before-seen storyline and an exciting ending, it really works. Acting is important in all films, but I think it’s somewhat difficult to give a convincing performance in a horror movie. Conveying genuine fear in a staged situation often comes off as fake and off-putting. Playing a deranged, psychotic killer can either come off as unconvincing or too exaggerated.

As horror films developed throughout the 20th century, viewers were given a bounty of horror films that have achieved status as cult classics. Films like Tod Browning‘s Dracula (1931), Alfred Hitchcock‘s Psycho (1960), Tobe Hooper‘s The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974), and George A. Romero‘s Night of the Living Dead (1964) are all milestones in the evolution of the the horror film.

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Most often, it takes time before movies are considered classics. Looking back, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, at the time of its release, was probably not iconic. However, after countless remakes and global recognition of the film’s antagonist, Leatherface (a name given to the character by fans of the franchise), I think it’s safe to say that this film is a classic. While we’re only in 2014, it seems like 21st century horror does not provide us with as many films that have the potential to be, one day, considered classics. It sincerely saddens me that Sharknado (2013) is as widely recognized as it is, however I find solace in the fact that its claim to fame is just how truly terrible the film is.

There have been a few films released this century that are either well on their way to reaching the status of cult classic, or have the potential to do so. The Paranormal Activity film series has been wildly popular since its release, prompting 4 sequels (most recently Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones). From filmmaker Oren Peli, the first film in the series was made on a budget of next to nothing. Filmed with handheld cameras giving the appearance of home footage, the film was released into select theaters after generating some buzz at film festivals. Having five films with a continuing storyline in the horror genre is fairly uncommon. These films are also pretty exceptional with the fact that none of these sequels have been largely disappointing for fans.

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Another horror film that I am particularly fond of is Insidious. Starring Patrick Wilson (I am mildly obsessed with him) and Rose Byrne, Insidious was released in 2010, and the second installment of the series, Insidious: Chapter 2, was released in 2013. The expected release of the 3rd film is April 2015. This film definitely had an original storyline (you can watch the trailer here) . There were just enough moments of comic relief, and I have nothing but positive things to say about the actors. The convincing performances of the actors in Insidious were precisely why I was very excited to see that Patrick Wilson had signed on to play Ed Warren, alongside Vera Farmiga (another one of my favorite actresses) in The Conjuring. This film is also one of the best that I’ve seen in a while. Here’s the trailer for it. Anyone else who also enjoyed The Conjuring will be happy to know that Wilson and Farmiga have signed on for a second installment of the film.

So I have, in this post and a few others, told you guys a few of the horror films that I really enjoy. My point for this post is that I really want to know what you all think makes a horror movie? What is it about the film that makes people want to watch it? What makes a horror cult classic? Please leave some of your insight in a comment below!

I added a poll with just a couple answers, but feel free to add your own. I want to know what you think!

Okay, so my first movie post is going to be about a few horror films that I really enjoy.. and also one that I really didn’t enjoy.

I realize not everyone is going to agree with me and that’s cool. The point of this is to turn anyone reading this page on to awesome new movies. Also, this is my page so that gives me the right to complain about movies I hate. Let’s be real, when we spend ten bucks to go to the theater, we earn the right to complain if the movie in question is a disappointment.

It would make sense that since I love film, I am currently taking a film class. My teacher is one of about 10 who teach this class at this university. All the teachers collaborate and come up with a list of the films that will be studied that semester. My teacher is way into horror, so he opted to show us 1 Wes Anderson film (Rushmore), instead of two (buh-bye The Royal Tenenbaums!) In place of the 2nd Anderson film, he decided that he would give the class a taste of the horror genre. I admit, I took this teacher last semester for a class completely focused on horror media and the reason I selected him this semester was in hopes that he would once again grace his students with some of his extensive horror knowledge. You did not disappoint, Mr. Frazier. I saw this film in my horror media class, and had absolutely zero objections to watching it a second (or third, or fourth..) time. I had never heard of this film until my teacher showed it in class. My first reaction to this film was to finally breathe a sigh of relief at the end, after holding my breath through the majority of the film. Then I had to do some stretches to relieve the tension that had been coursing through my body for the duration of the film. Here it is, guys:

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The Loved Ones. This film, released in Australia in 2010, is the writer/director Sean Byrne‘s first feature-length film. It made its way to the United States in 2012 after generating some buzz at some of the film festivals where it was shown. I’ll begin with a disclaimer: there have been multiple reviews to classify this film as “torture porn,” and their claims are not without merit. I personally disagree, only because I believe this film is carried by its plot more so than its masochistic appeal. It stars Robin McLeavy (you may also know her from AMC’s Hell on Wheels) as Lola Stone. She gives one of the most convincing horror villain performances ever. Seriously. Ah, and Lola’s super creepy prom song. You’ll feel so demented as you sing it for the 24 hours following watching the film, while everyone who hasn’t seen it will think you’re singing an obscure Cyndi Lauper song (Am I not pretty enough? Is my heart too broken?) Even though this movie isn’t extremely well known, it has received rave reviews – it has a 98% rating on Rotten Tomatoes! You can read a review and summary of the plot here and this is a link to the trailer: don’t let the first 50 seconds fool you! It is definitely not for the faint of heart, I’m not kidding about the violence, but who wouldn’t want to watch a “psychotic re-imagining of Pretty in Pink”? Sean Byrne has so much potential, and I can’t wait for him to give us something new. Check this one out guys!

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If any of you are familiar with Rob Reiner‘s 1990 film, Misery, it is somewhat similar to The Loved Ones. If you are not familiar with Misery (based on a Stephen King Novel) then you should be. It stars the fabulous Kathy Bates (above) as Annie Wilkes, who “rescues” her favorite author Paul Sheldon (James Caan). I know this movie isn’t new, but it’s seriously underrated. Kathy Bates is one of the best actresses out there, and her performance in this movie is phenomenal. It is so over the top, you can’t help but laugh, but she delivers it in such a way that it never loses your interest. You can read a review of the film on this site and watch the trailer here. The story is nothing too extravagant, but I promise you will be on the edge of your seat the entire time. The film is named for Misery Chastain, a character in one of Paul Sheldon’s book series, who Annie basically worships. This movie is pretty violent, but nothing like The Loved Ones. If you like any kind of horror or thriller movies, definitely give this one a try.

I’ve given you two wonderfully demented films to enjoy. Now I’m going to give you one that was just kind of tragically stupid and only a little demented – not even the good kind of demented. Yes, there is a good kind of demented. Anyway, here it is:

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I will first address the reviews plastered on this misleading movie poster. Savage slasher? Okay, sure. Unpredictable? Yes. Fresh, terrifying, wickedly savvy and most entertaining? Not even. Here is the trailer if you’re so inclined to watch it.

There are really no notable cast members (no big names anyway) in this film. I’ll start with the positive, because there’s not much of it. Actress Sharni Vinson, who plays Erin, does a pretty good job, considering the garbage plot and script she has to work with. Even from the trailer, if you have any kind of respect for the horror genre, you can see that there is little promise for a quality film. One mistake horror filmmakers make so many times, is they don’t make their characters likable or relatable. It makes it much less intense watching characters get picked off one by one, if the duration is spent wishing they would die faster. This film is no exception. Aside from Vinson’s character, the rest of the victims are just irritating. It covers a choppy plot with unnecessary violence. I am not against movie violence at all, but when it’s just thrown in to make up for a crap story and bad acting, then it just becomes annoying. I will admit, there were a few aspects of the plot that surprised me, which is uncommon with a run-of-the-mill slasher movie. With the tagline “Don’t bother locking the doors. Animals don’t use doors.” what could go wrong, right? I’ll leave it up to your discretion if you want to take a chance and see You’re Next for yourself, but don’t say I didn’t warn you!