Washington Irving- “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” (1820)

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The Legend of Sleepy Hollow is without a doubt a well known story. Most people know the tale of Ichabod Crane and his encounter with the Headless Horseman. However, I’m sure many of those people know this story from the multiple adaptations of it. The 1999Sleepy Hollow book film, Sleepy Hollow, starring Johnny Depp as Ichabod, or the made-for-tv-movie, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, or even most recently the television show, Sleepy Hollow, that premiered last year.

Initially, I had only been familiar with the film from 1999 and had little knowledge about what the story was actually about. It wasn’t until I watched the television show (which I highly recommend) did I sincerly find some understanding of this small town and its residents. Albeit, the television show takes places in present day and Ichabod and his wife Katrina are the only ones who come from the time period the short story takes place in. That being said, there are plenty of things that are changed and added for the television show to work and keep people interested. After all, the story of Ichabod Crane is a short one indeed.

When I finally did read the actual short story, I was surprised at how truly insignificant Ichabod Crane was. He was just a simple man who attended a party, hoped to win the heart of the lovely Katrina Van Tassel and was in the wrong place at the wrong time when he encountered the Horseman. I admire Irving’s ability it get straight to the point. He gave enough back story on the superstition of the Horseman that the audience would be intrigued and would wonder if the tales were actually true. In fact, Irving made it seem as though the encounter with the Horseman wasn’t really all that important. It was just something that happened in this small town and choosing to believe in him or not was one’s own business. Ichabod was the real story and his fate was just that, his fate. Whether we ever find out what truly happened to him that night is whole different story.

Verdict: 11/12

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H.P. Lovecraft- “The Outsider” (1926)

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“The Outsider” is a short story by American horror writer H. P. Lovecraft. Written between March and August 1921, it was first published in Weird Tales, April 1926. In this work, a mysterious man who has been living alone in a castle for as long as he can remember decides to break free in search of human contact. – Goodreads

Now, I’m not one who would put the horror genre at the top of my “Most Read” list on the account that the imagination can be more horrifying and scary than seeing actual “horror” played out on a screen in front of you. That being said, I’m also not one to completely dismiss the genre simply because I don’t like being scared. The Outsider

Lovecraft’s “The Outsider” is a strange story indeed. It was one that I found slightly jarring simply by his zealous descriptions of the protagonists surroundings. There was times when I wasn’t fully aware of where the protagonist was or what exactly it was that he was seeing. There were also times when I felt as though I couldn’t fully understand the protagonist as he struggles to understand the world and the people around him. But I find, now, that this misunderstanding is the entire point.

Lovecraft writes:

Unhappy is he to whom the memories of childhood bring only fear and sadness. Wretched is he who looks back upon lone hours in vast and dismal chambers with brown hangings and maddening rows of antique books, or upon awed watches in twilight proves grotesque, gigantic, and vine-encumbered tress that silently wave twisted branches far aloft. Such a lot the gods gave to me–to me, the dazed, the disappointed; the barren, the broken. And yet I am strangely content, and cling desperately to those sere memories, when my mind momentarily threatens to reach beyond to the other.

When he leaves the castle and searches for long sought after human contact, what he comes across is not what he expects. Which is exactly what I, as a reader, discovered when I finished the story. Nothing was as I expected it to be and neither was the protagonist. I took nothing in this story and came out with more than I bargained for. All in all, this story will throw you for a loop.

Verdict: 10/12

Shakespeare at 450: His Top Ten Adaptations on Film

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William Shakepeare turns 450 this year.

Like his transcending work, he will always be remembered. We are constantly taught to, if not completely understand, then at least, appreciate his plays in school and we widely imagine Kenneth Branagh in any Shakepearean drama adapted on screen. But Branagh isn’t the only one to bring these plays to life and isn’t the only director/actor to try and put a new spin on these classic tales of life, love and in most cases murder. Here’s to remembering this great man whether it be on the page or on screen.

I raise a glass to you William. For even in death, you continue to change our lives, one word at a time.

Here is my own review of the film Shakespeare in Love (1998)

One Room With A View

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Shakespeare. It’s the most famous name in the English language, ringing proudly out across the British Isles. From his first works on stage around the 1590s to Joss Whedon’s Much Ado About Nothing in 2012, Shakespeare has been at the heart of literary culture for more than four hundred years, and his influence has spread around the world. In celebration of his 450th birthday this week, it’s time to look at his impact not just on the written word but on the world of cinema, as we count down the top ten best Shakespeares on film.

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10. The Tempest (2010)
Let’s get something straight: Julie Taymor’s take on The Tempest isn’t a particularly good one. Despite her amazing cast – Ben Whishaw and Alfred Molina among them – Taymor’s film is slow and confused, with an overload of special effects that can’t hide its choppy pace and tone. What it…

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2003- “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King”

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Director: Peter Jackson

Release Date: December 17th, 2003

Starring: Elijah Wood, Viggo Mortensen, Ian McKellan

I’ve seen this film at least 10, if not 15, times by now. Even just writing this makes me want to watch it. However, if I’m being honest I didn’t always have such strong feelings about this film or its franchise. Way back when it first came out, I was 12 years old and had no interest in spending time in Middle Earth for nearly 3 hours. I also had no interest in being emotionally scarred by the creature that is Gollum. That being said, not only did plenty of time have to pass in order to for me to finally watch it, but so did the irrational fear of uncertainty. I didn’t know what the stories were about and I was one of those people who didn’t really understand what all the fuss was about. My brother, who was 14 at the time, thoroughly enjoyed these films and constantly wanted me to watch them. But, alas, I was simply afraid. LoTR-Return of the King

Back then I wouldn’t go near anything that was even remotely frightening, for the simple fear that I would be afraid. But I’ve come to understand the fearing fear itself would get me nowhere in life. Sometimes you just have to face your fears head on and that’s just what I did. However, this wasn’t until 4 or 5 years later that I finally watched the trilogy. And the first thought I had was that I was missing out on something spectacular.

There is no world quite like Middle Earth and once I discovered this, I became obsessed. I’ve since done marathons of this trilogy multiple times. I always make sure to watch it whenever it’s airing on television and I’ve also become obsessed with the prequel trilogy The Hobbit, as well the novel. I’ve bought jewelry paying homage to these films. I’ve bought all the books and I also made sure to buy all the 2- disc special edition dvds. I love Middle Earth, I love Frodo Baggins, I love Aragorn, son of Arathorn.

This film in particular, is in fact my favorite of all 3 films. Although I’m always brought back to the spectacular battle of Helms Deep in Two Towers and start to question my loyalties. This film is a fantastical adventure and I am no longer the same person I was before these films came into my life.

As for this film being named “Best Picture”, I say bravo. All 3 are beautifully shot in the spectacular Kiwi landscape of New Zealand. It immerses you into a world that you never can quite fully shake afterwards. And there is no real need or desire to even do so. It leaves you with the feeling that there is a light at the end of even the most perilous journey. If Frodo Baggins, a mere hobbit of the Shire can accomplish such a feat, then anything can be achieved. But hopefully with a lot less death and destruction and you return with all of your limbs.

Verdict: 12/12

 

Rainer Maria Rilke- Letters to A Young Poet (1929)

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So once again it’s been a while. But I’m back and ready to discuss Rilke.

For those of you who don’t know, “Letters to a Young Poet” is a collection of 10 letters that Rilke wrote to Franz Xaver Kuppas, a young cadet at the Theresian Military Academy in Wiener Neustadt. These letters are in a sense the advice Rilke gives this young man as Kuppas goes through his time at Military school and tries to make sense of the things around him, all the while trying to improve his writing skills as a poet. Letters to a Young Poet

What’s so special about these letters is their deep personal connection that derives from them, and the strong words that help this young man, and every reader, to come to terms with their own life, our mortality, our fears and understanding of love.

Rilke writes:

Perhaps all the dragons in our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us act, just once, with beauty and courage. Perhaps everything that frightens us is, in its deepest essence, something helpless that wants our love.

Rilke speaks to Kuppas in a way that does not put him down for feeling certain things but instead builds him up for having these exact feelings. Reading these letters gave me a sense of understanding about things that I didn’t even realize I was questioning. He speaks to the idea that although we may not have a complete understanding of certain things that happen in our lives, this “not knowing” is what helps us to grow. It helps to bring us closer to ourselves.

Rilke writes:

Therefore, dear Sir, love your solitude and try to sing out with the pain it causes you. For those who are near you are far away… and this shows that the space around you is beginning to grow vast…. be happy about your growth, in which of course you can’t take anyone with you, and be gentle with those who stay behind; be confident and calm in front of them and don’t torment them with your doubts and don’t frighten them with your faith or joy, which they wouldn’t be able to comprehend

Coming to terms with our own selves is a hard thing to accomplish. But Rilke speaks to this feat in a way that makes it seem slightly less daunting. He shows us that although we are connected to each and every person, in one way or another, we can never truly know a person without knowing ourselves first. We all have doubts and uncertainties just as much as we have faith or joy. But as Rilke says we cannot always assume others understand this about our nature. They have their own nature to contend with and we mustn’t burden them with our own.

Rilke writes:

only someone who is ready for everything, who doesn’t exclude any experience, even the most incomprehensible, will live the relationship with another person as something alive and will himself sound the depths of his own being

He speaks about relationships and love in a way that made me rethink the way I look at the world. If we want love, we must be ready to extend our hand out to it. We must be ready to take it all in; the good, the bad, and the ugly. Once we are able to do so, this relationship with another person becomes, in and of itself, a whole new being. One that will help us to know ourselves, just as we learn to know each other.

I see these letters as a great and vast way of thinking about life. Although Rilke is speaking to one man in particular and in response to the woes that this young man goes through, his writing and response speaks to everyone and all things. I see this a guide to finding oneself. The self that is hidden underneath the fear and the unknowing. The self that is just waiting to be set free.

Verdict: 12/12

Review of Divergent (2014)

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First off, I am a huge fan of the Divergent series and was very excited to hear that it was making it’s way to the big screen. Second off, I was one of those fans who, when casting was announced for the film, thought that Theo James was too old to beDivergent Poster playing an 18 year old Dauntless leader. I was also one of those people who immediately shouted: “Hey! that’s Mr. Pamook from Downton Abbey!” Both of those things being said, I was very impressed by this film.

Shailene Woodley is a phenomenal actress and I can see her career as huge and bright. I always know that I’m in for a good time whenever I see her on screen. Her, in contrast to Theo James, whose natural chemistry exploded off screen, did exceptional justice to the unforgettable characters of Tris and Four. I was very impressed by how the broken down world of Chicago was brought to the big screen and how well the story was played out. Although there were some crucial scenes taken out that I would have liked to see, it didn’t take away from the general story.

I thought the casting was great and the film did very well with what it was given. But most of all, I thought the film stayed true to book and that’s all a fan could ask for.

Verdict: 1o/12

 

2013- “12 Years a Slave”

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Director: Steve McQueen

Release Date: November 8th, 2013

Starring: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender, Lupita Nyong’o

I didn’t see the film when it first came out. I told myself that I would see, eventually. I told myself that it would always be there for me to watch when I finally worked up the courage to watch it. And watch it I did. I spent 134 minutes with a churned stomach, a tight throat, and tears streaming down my face. I couldn’t put into words what I was feeling. What I always feel when I think about slavery. About the fact that the ancestors on my fathers side were enslaved, while there is the unknown possibility that the ancestors on my mothers side did the enslaving. I still have no real words that would give reverence to this film or the reality of America’s greatest sin.

But Afroculinaria does. He said all the words that I couldn’t say and everything I hadn’t even had the ability to process. And on top of that, he brought back all of the emotions that I experienced when I watched this film.

Afroculinaria

12 Years A Slave: Why I’m Glad it Won Best Picture

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   “Joyce is right about history being a nightmare –but it may be the nightmare from which no one can awaken.  People are trapped in history and history is trapped in them.”  –James Baldwin, “Stranger in the Village.”

If you follow me through social media you know I’m used to visiting plantation landscapes and dressing in the type of clothing enslaved people would wear.  I’ve cooked the enslaved way in many states across the former Confederacy and Border states.  I’ve picked cotton and worked in tobacco fields. I’ve been in rice and sugarcane fields in the Lowcountry and Lower Mississippi Valley dodging teenaged gators and poisonous snakes.  Plantations blind with darkness don’t scare me and I almost take comfort from the spirits that have surrounded me.  I have been in their presence—for real—and the ancestors have been both welcoming…

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