Maleficent: The Good Witch

Actually, she’s not even a witch, according to the new Disney film. She is a fairy. The most powerful of all the fairies.

Maleficent

Disney’s Maleficent is the “true” story of Sleeping Beauty. I won’t spoil it for you, but basically King Stefan is Maleficent’s greatest enemy, and she curses his daughter with the classic curse we all know today. But as Sleeping Beauty grows in the forest, Maleficent watches her and becomes fond of her, but she cannot break the curse she has made, for “no power on earth shall break this curse”…not even hers. True love’s kiss comes not from the dashing young prince, but from Aurora’s “fairy godmother”: Maleficent.

Yes the story is mixed up and changed. Some were changed for the good, as I thought that some of the original story had holes, and those were patched up nicely. The Moors, as the kingdom of mystical animals is called, was pretty amazing. The conflict between the human kingdom and the Moors was well displayed. And the characterization was good throughout the movie. There was well-placed comic relief and interesting twists. Like Maleficent’s raven in the original Disney motion picture. Maleficent transformed the raven into different beings, like a human or a raven or a dragon or a wolf. I thought that was creative! Plus it didn’t isolate Maleficent so, as she was in the original. She lived in an old abandoned castle ruin with only a bird. But in this movie she actually socialized. Not only Diablo (her raven/human/whatever she wanted it to be), but the whole Moors was at her service. She actually had a kingdom of her own. This was much more believable to me, for sure.

Maleficent then&now

Then and now. The 1959 Walt Disney Sleeping Beauty captured Maleficent as a horned witch who could transform into a dragon and wants to be the ruler of the kingdom. No one can trump classics. But one can add to a classic story. That’s what Disney did for this film. Angelina Jolie adds more to our beloved villain. Backstory. Meaning to her maliciousness. Jolie is a brilliant actor. And my favorite scene is just her in a swamp. Stefan had cut off her wings while she slept. She wakes up in agony, pain, shock, anger, fright, all of the above and more. Her scream is terrifying and emotional. You can nearly feel the throbbing pain sealing the gashes on her back. Jolie puts on an amazing performance.

Maleficent

I only wish I had a clip to show you, but for the life of me I couldn’t find one. Anyways, that’s probably my favorite part of the movie.

Maleficent and Aurora

Here’s a fun story. Did you know that the actress for 5-year-old Aurora was actually Jolie’s daughter? Yep. Turns out the original casting for 5-year-old Aurora was too scarred of Maleficent’s costume. So they had to get Vivienne Jolie-Pitt to play the part instead. I mean, she’s a cute kid; I think she worked out just fine. But behind-the-scene-stories are always fun.

Maleficent and Stefan

Yes, I do have a lot of critique, because Sleeping Beauty is a classic fairy tale. Think about it: if our children grow up watching a remake of a fairy tale that isn’t at all like the original, they will never experience the TRUE story with the OLD-FASHIONED animation and the actual story where good and evil have a fine-line boundary. The whole movie, we are on Maleficent’s side. That’s not necessarily a good thing, since she’s evil most of the movie.

I know, I know. Its a new thing coming out in movies, where we are on the bad-guy’s side and they turn good in the end. I’m just not used to it. Yet. But that’s why my number one critique in this movie is that King Stefan and the human world is portrayed as TOO evil. It is gradual, but eventually the humans are just evil.Heck you’d think Stefan is freaking Voldemort by the end. He’s Princess Aurora’s father for heaven’s sake! I understand his motives for wanting the Moors and Maleficent destroyed, but I think he becomes a little too obsessed with it. I can’t help but think it had to do with making Maleficent look like the “good guy” near the end. Granted, it did make a fine line between good and evil…but just in the wrong way. I think it could have been done differently.

And another big critique I have is the narrator. At the end, you learn that Sleeping Beauty is the narrator of the whole story. I’m not exaggerating: that ruined the whole movie for me. Honestly, since Maleficent was portrayed as the good guy, it would have been really cool if Maleficent would have narrated the story. That way the whole movie could have been a bias point of view of the way things happened and AND–wait for it–there would still be value in the old Disney animation classic. To me, since Sleeping Beauty narrated Maleficent, that means the old classic told it wrong. But if Maleficent had been Maleficent’s actual biased point of view, we could have 2 different sides of the story and, admit it, that’d be pretty cool.

But alas it didn’t happen that way. Other small critiques I have matter less to the story as it did to director’s preference. They could have picked another Aurora, as Elle Fanning looked a little too young and too ditsy to be a 16-year-old princess. I liked the way they did Maleficent–good acting, good lines, good characterization–but I think sometimes they were making her a little too baddass and sexy. That must be a culture thing.

Oh and just a question for those who have seen it…

the fairies

If King Stefan and the humans hated the Moors creatures so much…why did he trust these three fairies to bless his newborn daughter of whom he was so protective? Just a thought.

Anyway.

sleeping beauty

From Maleficent’s marvelous, dominant wings, to Princess Aurora’s trustful, intriguing smile, Maleficent is certainly one of the modern Disney movies I would see again. You can’t say that of all live-action Disney films of the past few years. Disney did a decent job of keeping the classic fairy tale alive and spicing it up with a few new twists. I would certainly recommend it.

From the Moors and back,

J.L. Cordova

Hello Again!

Dear loyal subjects,

It has come to my attention that I have paid little/no attention to the kingdom of Blogs for quite some time now. Perhaps it is because high school was piling up work for me and I had no time to write. Well, I can assure you that it will happen no more, for I graduated on Saturday!

I’ll have much more time to blog and write. I have a deep passion for filmmaking, so I’ve decided to merge my writing blog with movie critiques and ideas, and also keep you updated with my own film endeavors. This past January I completed my first film by myself. It is a 30-minute documentary about a rare genetic disease that held my little brother hostage for 3 long yet beautiful years. If you could take time out of your day to watch it, I would not only be encouraged film-wise, but it would mean so much to me personally as well. Pass on the link if you deem it worthy of sharing.

Love Has Wings (Official Movie)

YouTube freaked out about the quality of the song at the end, so apologies in advance; I promise I’m better than that.

ANYWAYS. Enough about that. (But please watch if you have time). Main point of this post was that I am back and I am bursting with opinions and things to say about books and movies. My friend at school recommended this app Good Books? I intend to try it out–I will keep you updated. It apparently suggests good reads both contemporary and old classics I think by popularity. We’ll see. I have yet to download it.

I watched The Fault in Our Stars this evening at the theater. I shall write on it soon. At the moment I have not the heart. Too much emotion, I think I might go to bed.

So good to be back. I want to hear from those still out there that are subscribed to my blog! If you comment I shall come visit yours to catch up on you.

Best regards,

J.L. Cordova

The Abrupt. (Book Review on “Of Mice and Men”)

I’m going to tell you the moral of the story before even telling you the story: write stories that make you think. And I’m also warning you. I tell the ending in this post. So unless you like spoilers, you might want to refrain. ;)

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Of Mice and Men is considered one of John Steinbeck’s greatest works. It was published in 1937, but when I read it, I didn’t feel like it was written in a different time period. Not that it was poorly written, but Steinbeck took me back to the olden 1930 days and drew me in with the conflicts and dialogue and descriptions. It was very well written. Steinbeck described his characters of the story, the setting of the scene, and the emotion in the room. There was foreshadowing and fantastic themes. I felt like I was really there, and if I had had a choice, I don’t think I would have put it down until I had finished it.

It is a short book—six chapters. But they’re long chapters. Good chapters. Intriguing chapters. The book is about two men, George and Lenny, searching for work on a ranch. Lennie is mentally infirm. He likes to pet soft things—like puppies and rabbits. That’s his character; that’s what he loves. He loves his companion, George, who gets him out of every sticky situation they get into because of Lennie’s stupidity.

Poor Lennie doesn’t know any better, but no one understands that and Lennie doesn’t understand them either. George, Lennie’s caretaker, is the only one who seems to understand both sides.

George and Lennie have a dream to get land of their own one day. George is tired of always being on the run and looking for work. Lennie just wants land with rabbits to tend to. And it seems to be going their way…until Lennie pets the hair of the land lord’s daughter-in-law, she screams, he covers her mouth…and accidentally kills her since she couldn’t breathe.

“I’ve…I’ve done a bad thing,” he says.

When Lennie runs away, George and the other farm hands go looking for him. George finds Lennie and he tells him he’s not mad. He said he still wants to look after him. And Lennie looks off in the distance as George tells him about the rabbits he’ll tend one day. Lennie’s content, and George shoots him in the back of the head.

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Whoaaaaaa. What?

I thought this was friendship? It was. It truly was. And I still don’t understand this ending.

After I read the end of the book, (it ends very soon after the abrupt climax), I put it down and thought for a long time. I couldn’t understand it. It shocked me. I discussed it with other people who have read it before, and they gave me their take on it. Even though I’m still not sure about what to think about it, I’ll tell you my take on it at the moment. Subject to change. ;)

Back in the 1930s, you didn’t have medicine for mental illnesses. You didn’t have ICAP or special schools for people like that, where they learn how to behave, how to act and respond and control. Back then…one didn’t have anything except for someone telling you how to act, behave, speak…

Lennie had gotten into trouble with females before. With their soft dresses and soft hair, it would be easy to think he wanted to rape and flirt. Did he? No! He likes to pet nice things! He only wanted to touch the soft hair.

20 George and Slim

“Didn’t hurt the girl none?” Slim said. (fellow farmhand)

George shook his head. “Hell naw, he just scared her.”

But was what he did worthy of death? Was George right to kill him? Lenny was being hunted for anyway. He was going to get put in jail for who knows how long? And the husband of the murdered wife wanted to kill him. So…was George right to kill him?

I’m undecided. I feel like I would have to think about it more. Everyone I’ve talked to has said yes, George was good to kill him. Not that Lenny needed to die or that he was worthy of death—it was a simple mistake that he couldn’t help. But, so I’ve been told, it was better for Lennie to be killed by George—a friend who loved him and cared for him and knew him better than anyone else—than to be murdered by a revenge-thirsty husband who could care less about Lennie himself.

I tend to lean towards this point of view, but I’m still not sure. Taking an innocent life is one of those things that really get to me—where I have to think twice, and maybe a third or tenth time, before I take a stance on it. This was one of those times. At first I thought it was a horrible ending and I hated the entire book. One girl I know said she wanted to slam it shut and throw it against the wall. So did I. But then I had to think. And I kept thinking. And I still haven’t stopped.

I’ve already told you the moral of the story. Of my story. Write stories that make you think. I finished this book three weeks ago. I’ve refrained from writing anything on it because I had to think about it so much. The ending was sharp, abrupt, and unexpected. Yet it got me to think.

You should want that. Steinbeck was genius. You almost want your readers to be forced to really think about the endings. I could list books with thoughtful endings. I won’t. But they are everywhere. Just read some classics and you’ll find them. I think it’s a major reason a classic becomes a classic: the unexpected, thoughtful endings.

I recommend the book and the movie as well. The abrupt ending in the film is brilliantly done in the movie. And the whole film coincides with the book very well. It awed me even more.

goerge..and.lennie

Go write stories that make you think!

Inspired,

~J.L. Cordova

History Self-Disovery Project (Lincoln Paper)

This was my college project. Experience something hands on, and talk about its history, your experience, and how it applies in real life. Normally I wouldn’t critique movies on this blog. But considering it was a writing assignment, I feel better about it. I’d love your feedback!

During teacher conference week, I went to go see Stephen Spielberg’s new movie, Lincoln. It is a two and a half hour film starring Daniel Day Lewis as Abraham Lincoln. The story is centered around the 13th amendment to the Constitution. The Civil War is raging on, and President Lincoln is convinced that the only way to end the war is by ending slavery. He believes the only way to do this is by passing the 13th amendment, which would abolish slavery. Passing an amendment is no easy task in the U.S. government, especially during that time. The amendment had to have two thirds of the vote in the House of Representatives, which seated mostly Democrats. And Democrats, unfortunately, were radical advocates of slavery. As the film goes on, Lincoln and his administration try to pass the amendment as quickly as they can, convincing Democrats to vote for it by offering jobs. The climax of the film is the day of the vote in the House. Will there be enough votes to pass the amendment and end the war? Will the North finally win the war? Will there at last be an end to slavery?

The movie had so much historical value. Abraham Lincoln is one of the most famous presidents in United States history. Along with all the pressure from the war, the American people, and his own cabinet, Lincoln also suffered from family tragedy, a difficult wife, and a stubborn eldest son. Lincoln’s true character is brought to life in the movie, as is the entire Civil War era. For example, in the movie, Lincoln rides out on horseback amongst the fallen soldiers on the battlefield outside of Petersburg, VA. Also, earlier on, there is a scene of Lincoln conversing with black soldiers after a battle—casually, as if he were their friend. The real Lincoln really did ride out on battlefields, because he felt that every death in the war was his fault. He felt the burden and the responsibility to end the war and slavery. He spoke to black soldiers and even the black servants in the White House as if they were as white as any other American. He had a deep desire for equality in the country.

Another historical value the movie had was the accuracy of government processions and policy. The movie shows the process of the passing of the 13th Amendment. From bribing Democrats to the Speaker in the House on the day of the vote, the movie really captures the government in action. It also shows how corrupt inside government politics can become. For example, when the House of Representatives convened in the movie, there was a lot of anger and name-calling between the Republican and Democrat parties. Also, the Republicans bribed the Democrats to vote for the 13th amendment by offering jobs and positions. The movie also portrayed the vicious discrimination that lay in the Confederacy. African-Americans, in the South, were thought of as, quite literally, animals. They were not considered human beings. It truly represented that racist part of America’s history.

Because of all this historical value, my experience seeing this film was phenomenal. I learned so much about President Lincoln, his true character, and about the country during the time of the Civil War. It was truly a split nation during that time, and I learned what that actually meant. The movie did seem to drag a little after the passing of the amendment. I thought that too much was added after the vote in the House. However, the ending was powerful. There was a flashback of Lincoln giving his famous Gettysburg Address. Everyone in the crowd was mesmerized by his words, his manner, and his motions. Throughout the movie and even walking out of the theater, I had this strong, revered respect for President Lincoln. I still do, because the movie enhanced my perspective of him as one of the greatest presidents in our history.

I think this movie is relevant for us today because it was packed with rich history, emotion and facts that, today, we sometimes forget about. We forget how horrible slavery was in our country. We see in the 19th and 20th centuries that true African-American equality was extremely hard to achieve. Lincoln reiterates the beginning of that struggle—the beginning of black equality in America. Even today there is racism in our country. The fight still isn’t over. However, we see in the movie (and in any history book) that we have come a long way since slavery and harsh treatment of blacks. A main catalyst for this would be President Lincoln himself.

I learned several things from the movie. Firstly, I learned more about the Executive Branch of government and the role of the President. It is not up to the President to pass a bill or an amendment—it is a tedious process with both houses of Congress as well as the President’s approval. I found it interesting that, in that time, women’s rights were just as appalling and disgraceful as African-American rights. And overall, I discovered more about Abraham Lincoln’s personal life and the burdens he had from the war, the American people, and his own family.

In conclusion, I believe Lincoln was a brilliant film. I would recommend it to anyone. Anyone who went to see it would learn something new either about history, government, or the President himself. From the tedious and suspenseful process of passing the 13th amendment, to President Lincoln’s grieving over his lost son, everyone can enjoy the two and a half hour experience. It is definitely an accurate, emotional, brilliant portrayal of the final abolition of slavery.

~J. L. Cordova

Accomplishment of the Day

I got a 95 on my college writing assignment. That made my day. First grade I got back. It was my History Self-Discovery project. Our assignment was to go out and experience something hands-on, and write about

1. Its history

2. My experience

3. How this experience applies to real life

I did my self-discovery on the popular Steven Spielberg film, Lincoln.

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My professor said it was college level writing. The only things she commented and critiqued on were a few things at the end. Like saying “in conclusion” in the last paragraph was unnecessary, and she suggested leaving out “I believe…” since the whole paper is mine, so its obvious that I’m believing.

Little things like that. Overall, she said I did very well. “Excellent”, she said.

Being a writer, the fact that she said “This is college level writing–excellent!” gives me glorious feelings inside. I think I’ll post it in the Creative Writing category on the blog. I’d love your feedback too.

Encouraged and confident,

J.L. Cordova

Book Review: Perks of Being a Wallflower

I haven’t posted in so long, I almost forgot I had followers. But no matter. I am reading, to be sure.

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“The Perks of Being a Wallflower”, by Stephen Chbosky, is the story of a freshman in high school. Charlie, in the midst of family problems, crushes, and other beginning high school problems, makes friends that love him. Any kid should have that. The story is basically a journal, dealing with a lot of love sagas–sex, drugs, drama, practically anything you could imagine in a freshman boy’s journal. The main conflict revolves arounds Charlie’s deep feelings towards Sam, one of the girls he’s made friends with. Do they get together in the end? Well, think of the most cliche ending you could think of…and you might be surprised.

Did I like the book? It was entertaining. It kept me turning the pages. I must say the love sagas kept me intrigued. I suppose those types of stories will keep anybody reading. No wonder Fifty Shades of Grey is so popular. Charlie, as a character, was well-defined, and I could definitely see him connecting with male readers. In fact, all of the characters were well-defined. There were a lot of funny parts in the book that really brought out the character traits. Patrick, one of Charlie’s friends, was particularly portrayed in numerous scenes in the book. He was no doubt one of my favorite characters.

I love the way the book was written. Yes it was written in journal-style, but Charlie is actually writing to an unknown person. Spoil alert: You never know exactly who he is writing to. He never says. But I think its a good writing technique: to let the reader use his/her imagination, thinking about who the mysterious person could be, rather than tell him/her outright. Admittedly, I was waiting for an epilouge where the mysterious person would finally write back and sign his or her name at the end. But, in the end, I was glad I didn’t know. I wanted the book to go on, because I enjoyed reading it. And because I didn’t know the mysterious person, it’s still going on for me, because I’m still wondering…

Chbosky really portrays the sad, disturbing, and sometimes shameful truth of public high school, hard family life, and the mere temporary satisfaction that teenage sex brings. Temporary content. And following drama and heartbreak that can happen because of it. Parents hitting their children, drugs and sneaking out of the house. Its all there. And its all in Charlie’s perspective, which I think is quite innocent. He doesn’t really know how to react to this new reality of high school and expected maturity. It’s very interesting to read.

The main problem I see with the book is that there is no strong conflict. The main problem of the book is Charlie’s developed crush on Sam, but I thought it was weak, as the book prolonged while mentioning Sam and Charlie only sparingly. The resolution of the book was certainly not what I was expecting, and neither did it leave me with a positive note–a good feeling. It didn’t seem complete to me. I was a little disapointed.

2012, THE PERKS OF BEING WALLFLOWER

The movie, made recently last year, stars Logan Lerman and Emma Watson. I haven’t had a chance to watch it yet, but for those who have. Please comment and tell me your thoughts! Is it similar to the book? Or switched around? You can never know with a movie based off of a book.

All in all, it was a good read. Definitely different from say, Great Expectations or The Great Gatsby or even Harry Potter, but I feel like its good to read a variety of genres and styles. It helps you discover your style and your strong points in writing. Think about your strong points. Story? Character development? Resolution? Or simply writing in journals…?

All due respect,

J.L. Cordova

The End of the World

Did you hear the news? The world will be destoryed in…(checks watch)…24 hours.

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Theories are going around. Most people I know don’t believe it. They bring up a good point. The Mayan calander DID end in 2012, but what the calander did NOT have…was leap year. Do the math, and the world should have ended last year on 12.21.11. But we’re still here. Yet people still predict that it will end, as predicted, on 12.21.12–the day the Mayan calendar ends.

I found this article and video below very interesting. NASA is even in on it, proving that the world won’t end with the help of doctors and scientists.

http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/video/nasa-mayan-apocalypse-world-end-yesterday-sciencecast-youtube-17967187

I always thought the apocalypse was a good story–an action/adventure topic. Books are written and movies are created about it all the time. It’s a facsinating topic. Hope you enjoy the link!

~J.L. Cordova