Okay, I’ve seen plenty of zombie films. So have you. What could possibly come along to freshen up such an overworked genre? Dring of the Dead is your answer. A five minute French film that will make you laugh as it gives us a new take on zombies. The whole “walking dead apocalypse” has become such a standard trope, that filmmakers can now use it to introduce new ideas. When the lead character is running pell mell down the street, we easily accept that a zombie as the reason why. His accidental solution to the problem of being eaten is amazing. Check it out.
This other short is Lovecraftian gold. Called Black Gold, it is the brainchild of Hank Friedmann. It reminds me a little of the 1980s flick Mazes and Monsters with Tom Hanks. Only in Black Sugar, the teens take a Chthonian drug that looks like a flourescent Twinkie. The kids are transported to a world where Cthulhu creatures rule. Or are they? The viewer isn’t sure if this is real or simply a hallucination brought on by the drugs. Either way, this would be a terrific anti-drung advert. No one would touch drugs after seeing what happens to these kids.
Okay, what would be the dream cast for Tarot: The Magician? Since this is totally fictional, I can pick whomever I want, right? No matter how high profile or farfetched. Okay then, lets get this thing rolling.
First off, I know I’d want a director who could handle the creepier aspects of the book and not be overwhelmed with the surreal landscape of the Tarot world. The short list was down to one director: Guillermo del Toro. I’ve always admired his work, all the way back to Cronos.
Guillermo del Toro and the faun from Pan’s Labyrinth.
Now the principal characters. The main character, Kassandra, was hard to cast. She had to be an actress who could be snarky, but at the same time hold onto a lot of pain and guilt. My final choice is Chloë Grace Moretz. You would know her as Hit Girl from KickAss or from the remake of Carrie.
Chloë Grace Moretz from Carrie. She certainly has the look for Kassandra and the chops to handle the role.
With her cast, I now needed her adversary: Luke Rykell. This was a hard part to assign. The character is 600 years old and charming as all get out. Robert Patterson came to mind, but he’s been overexposed in the role of Edward Cullen for too long. Plus, I wanted something of a smart ass for this role. A person you’d instantly trust, only to find later that your trust was mislaid. The answer: Andrew Garfield.
Andrew Garfield ready to charm you as Luke Rykell.
Luke’s brother, Gabriel, was even harder to cast. I needed someone who you could ultimately trust, but that had a deep well of guilt tearing at his inner being. Darn, that sounds way too poetic, although it perfectly sums up Gabriel. He is the ultimate Romantic (as in the poets). The answer was Kit Harrington from Game of Thrones.
Although he’d need to shave, Kit has all the qualities needed to play Gabriel Rykell.
Kassandra’s mom was the hardest to cast (why do they get harder as I move through the list?) Many actresses I envisioned as the mom were too old or just not right for the character. Then Kate Winslet cropped up, and I knew she was perfect.
Kate would perfectly deliver the role of the mom who just wasn’t there for her daughter.
Auntie Jo was the easiest and the first character I was able to cast: Queen Latifah. Although she’s not a perfect match for the role physically (the characters is heavier and has an afro) her demeanor fits Auntie Jo to a T.
Queen Latifah would rock as the past-life obsessed Auntie Jo.
Kassandra’s Dad was an important character to cast. He’s the catalyst for the entire novel. Also, Kassandra meets him inside the Tarot deck to hash out her issues. It’s a small role, so I figured, why not give it to a big actor. They take cameo roles, right? Besides, this a dream cast. Then I thought of 12 Monkeys and how great Brad Pitt was in that wacky world.
Brad as the troubled father to Kassandra. Only after his death does he really learn to connect to her.
That only left Lindsay, the bossy social queen bee of the high school. This is a girl who’s used to pushing people around. Yet she also had to be a red head, that was always in my mind throughout the story. The answer? Another actor from Spiderman: Emma Stone.
I always described Lindsay with a sweep of red hair grazing her face, and here’s Emma with the same look. Perfect!
Did I do all right? I hope so. This would be an awesome cast for any film. Imagine what these actors would do in the freaky world of the Tarot?
I just blazed through Hollow City, the sequel to Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As I neared the end, I noticed a trend in sequels, especially ones that lead to a trilogy: War.
I don’t think I’m giving away too much when I read that the peculiars in the book were gearing up for a war against the hollows. (There’re plenty of other twists in the book that will keep you guessing). Now, I don’t know if the peculiar series will be a trilogy or keep going, but I do know they’re following a trilogy pattern set forth by many previous books.
Let’s face it. Sequels need to be more than their predecessor. Bigger. Flashier. With more risk. Some story trilogies handle this by piling on the villains. (Think about the orginal Batman movies. You have Joker in the first one. Then Penguin and Catwoman int he second. By the third, the landscape is littered with villains.)
The smarter story trilogies go for the “war” arc. In the first book, it’s only the protagonist up against the ropes. He or she has to face amazing odds. By the sequel, though, the landscape of conflict broadens. Often book two (or movie two) is a prelude to war. Characters are gearing up. The final payoff comes in the final installment where all hell breaks loose.
Don’t believe me? Here are some examples.
Hunger Games: This one is almost the template for the war arc. Book one is only Katniss. By book two, she’s swept up in a conspiracy to use her as a leader for the resistance. Then book three is all about the war.
Uglies: Still my favorite book series, it too follows the war arc, although a bit more slowly. In book two (Pretties), Tally leaves the rebellion to go “undercover” in the city. Yet it completes the cycle by making her a super-weapon to help fight the war in the third book (Specials).
Lord of the Rings: True, both the second and third books have wars, but the scope expands. Two Towers has Rohan fighting for survival and the force against them seems gargantuan. Yet this battle seems teeny when compared to the epic clash for Gondor in Return of the King. Think about it. This book series started with nine companions, yet broadened to take on the whole world of Middle Earth.
Star Wars: I’m only going to look at the original movies (Episodes IV through VI), though I imagine this war arc would apply to the prequels. True, the rebellion attacks and destroys the Death Star in Episode IV. Yet this was just Lucus going for broke. Who knew if he’d ever get funding for the remaining movies. Then compare the rebel force from New Hope to the rebels at the end of Empire Strikes Back. A complete scale up. The rebels are preparing for a massive battle that happens, surprise, in the third movie (Return of the Jedi).
Does this war arc hold true for any other books or films? You tell me. Comment below if you have any other stellar examples.
I’ll be honest, I don’t keep up with Anime. Recently, I stumbled across an awesome series in Japan called Attack on Titan. The long and short of this series involves giants (called Colossus) that like nothing better than to gobble up us poor humans.
Apparently, this series has gone viral in Japan. There are hundreds of photos of people pretending to be giants and eating other people.
Then the Titan phenomenon reached a new level with Subaru. The car company created a commercial with the colossi attacking the vehicle. Watch it on YouTube.
So be careful the next time you’re driving through Japan.
There are actions on your body long after death. Many I wasn’t even aware of until after seeing “Danse Macabre”. When this first started, I thought… Uh Oh. This is going to be some artsy piece where someone “interprets” the movements of a corpse. No way. Nearly all the movements the actor/dancer portrays seem genuine and believable. I say nearly, because the rigor on the table leading to the fall is staged, but for a good reason. It leads to an incredible image of the person falling down the drain with her blood.
Here are some stills from the film.
I had never considered how a person’s feet would slide after being hanged. This is a detail that is typically lost when we think of a hanged person. Many of the movements in this piece walk the line of morbid and beautiful.
This, as I said, was the most staged position. The rigor led to the body falling off the table. Yet the scene that followed was astounding.
We go from a view of the drain to a shot of the body, curled up, falling away. Stunning.
I had never considered this rather pedestrian movement of the body. Quite literally, it is lowered into a casket. I’d never thought about how the body was placed in there.
The most beautiful, and surprising movement, came from an interior shot of the casket. As it is being moved around, the body slides. I’d never even contemplated that.