The Story that is Cinderella

collage Cinderella

Ah don’t we all know about the smashing servant girl who fits into the glass slipper and lives happily ever after.

Saw Disney’s 2015 “Cinderella” at the Alamo Drafthouse today. Their pre-show had a bunch of little animated shorts based off of Cinderella. It made me think of how cliche this story actually is. Its one of the most famous Grimm fairy tales of all time, wouldn’t you agree? Then I started thinking how many movies have been made about Cinderella. Then I went home and researched Cinderella. So let’s talk some Cinderella.

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1899: The first movie to come out about this old folk tale was a 5 minute live-action flick made by George Méliès, a French filmmaker. Called (wait for it) “Cinderella”. It was considered a huge failure after it was released and didn’t go very far, as it had very little critique. Give it a watch and you’ll appreciate modern filmmaking. Turn on your iTunes too because it has no sound.

I’m sorry. But that’s funny.

1911: “Cinderella” starring Florence La Badie as the servant girl. A 15-minute U.S film by George Nichols. Its also a silent film. Its sort of difficult to watch–more like a play than a movie since there’s no sound. But La Badie makes a beautiful Cinderella…in a Wild West show maybe.

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1922: Enter Walt Disney, who made a cute little Cinderella short as he just started out his career in movie-making. It’s a Laugh-O-Gram piece that is, what do you know, silent. Just watch a little bit; you don’t have to watch the whole thing. You’ll smile I promise–sounds like a Charlie Chaplin flick.

1950: Then in 1950, Disney’s company was in major debt. He poured all his money into one last animated feature in hopes that he’d get another chance at life. And he got it! The “Cinderella” we all know is one of his most famous pieces. Its still one of the most beloved Disney movies of all little girls. Perfect porcelain skin, tiny feet, enchanting voice…I mean who doesn’t love “Sing Sweet Nightingale” and “A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes”???

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1957: Seven years later, thanks to Rodgers and Hammerstein, we have the most successful Cinderella story to-date. Featuring Julie Andrews as Cinderella, this musical written for television captured the hearts of 60% of Americans during that time. It was truly a success, as it boasted the largest audience in history. Why was it so amazing? So many popular actors and actresses of that time we’re in this musical: Andrews, Howard Lindsay, Jon Cypher, Ilka Chase, Edie Adams…and the score was filled with so many songs that we don’t see in newer editions of Cinderella. “Stepsisters’ Lament”? Come on, I even want to hear that one.

Beautiful Julie Andrews <3

                 Beautiful Julie Andrews <3

1997: Here’s an interesting one. A Cinderella movie with African-American actors, (the first of its kind). Brandy Norwood, Whitney Houston, and Whoopi Goldberg starred in this direct-to-television broadcast with over 60 million views on the original air date. (Whitney Houston was the fairy godmother by the way, in case you were wondering.)

brandy and whitney

Brandy Norwood and Whitney Houston

2008: “Ever After” of course is today’s most popular adaption of the Cinderella story. A mash-up, but a good watch and brilliant storytelling. Starring Drew Barrymore and Dougray Scott, I’m sure most have you have at least heard of it.

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2015: And now we’ve come to Disney’s newest creation: “Cinderella”. Live action, starring a Downtown Abbey slut and a Game of Thrones perv.

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Oh you know I’m joking. It was the same old story, with the addition of a few things from the original tale, and the same old happy ending. I was actually really happy they developed an actual relationship between Cinderella and the Prince. That seemed more realistic.

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Cinderella was called “Ella” for the majority of the movie, which was refreshing. The costumes and colors, especially on the stepmother and stepsisters–gasp. Very well done.

Casting and acting…it was decent. Lily James (star from Downtown Abbey) proved herself to actually be a good actor. Pleasant surprise. Cate Blanchett and Helena Bonham Carter were quite rightfully cast. (They never cease to please me. I can’t get over how much I love Carter in this movie).

There you have it! A [brief] history of Cinderella movies. Obviously there are many more, but these just give you an idea of how far this movie+filmmaking has come. Thank the Lord for digital.

Feeling accomplished [for looking up so many Cinderella movies],

J.L. Cordova

Tomorrow’s the Ball!

Erm…okay not a ball. I wish.

I finally gave in and decided to go see the famous Disney movie, which now has 84% on Rotten Tomatoes. I’m going tomorrow, but I wanted you all to witness my predisposition: I’m not expecting much.

I’m a die-hard fan of original Disney classics–the ones Walt worked on himself. The animated version of this fairy-tale being one of them. And I don’t particularly care for the casting of this live action film either (Helena Bonham Carter is a major exception in her brilliance)

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You’ve witnessed my prior expectations. To the theater!

Yours,

Jael

Look Out for Ducklings

My newest film project!!

If you haven’t seen my last movie and you are at all interested, please by all means: Love Has Wings That was my first solo project and its won several awards at various film festivals.

This new one, however, is quite shorter and its purely an experiment for fun on my part. I had never worked with children before, so it was quite an adventure. Silent film. Mixed with a little taste from the classical composers, I thought it turned out pretty well. Caution: adorable kids in this film.

Look Out for Ducklings

Inspired by the famous book, of course, Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey. Let me know what you think!

Best regards,

J.L. Cordova

Halfway to the Moon

Bored as a 2015 fax machine sitting in biology class, I scribbled something in my notebook, to which I woke up the next morning when I sallied forth to conquer my homework. The scribble was this:

“Darling, if you spent even half as much time in productivity as you do in people-drama, you’d be halfway to the moon by now.”

 peter pan

That instantly depressed me. For obvious reasons. For one thing, why did I write that instead of the construction of a plasma membrane (which was probably what I should have been writing). But after that flash of frustration passed, I began to think about that statement a little more.

Now most of you don’t know me. I don’t post that much so how could you? You know I love to write. You know I love good books and exciting movies. You may even know my real name is not J.L. Cordova. But even still, I’ll add a little more to that stack of knowledge: I can’t be a people-person for a long amount of time.

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Now I don’t mean friendly personality and energetic voice and expression. I’m a server at a restaurant. I’m a good people-person in that sense. I mean actually hanging out with people and being part of a group of friends–like in How I Met Your Mother, Friends, or heck even Big Bang Theory.

Why? I’m a strong introvert. Most people don’t believe me when I tell them that since I act the opposite when I’m out in public or at work. But honestly, whenever I become part of a group or find a group of friends…I can’t keep it for long. Either they silently push me away, I step out unnoticed, or maybe a little of both. Of all people, I think I need social interaction and the friend-feeling more than anyone. But I have found over the past couple of months that I cannot be “part of the group” for very long. Good friends? Haven’t had more than three or four in my whole life.

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Why am I saying all of this? Its my blog I do what I want. But I’m also getting depressed again, as I feel this notion of isolation once again. Naming names and pointing fingers is pointless and unnecessary. I work at an environment where we are all family. Everyone knows everyone and there’s a group of friends here and a group of people that hang out all the time there…mingling here and there…a big party every once in a while where EVERYONE is together at one place and time. I loved this for awhile. I had a ton of fun. I was even friends with a couple people like me, who were quiet, country kids like me who doesn’t like socializing THAT much. Just enough to keep us human.

Oh how to explain this without sounding arrogant and stand-offish…

I’m best when I am alone.

"In a world of my own..."

                “In a world of my own…”

I was an only child for 7 years. My parents were still in school for some of it. I lost my grandmother and great grandparents when I was too young to understand death. When I was 18 years old my brother died from a genetic disease. About a year later one of my close managers at work was shot in her apartment. I’ve lost a lot of friends during these times. Its pointless describing pain.

I just…I have a more serious personality than most of my peers. Maybe that’s why I can’t stay interested in people’s shallow mindsets. I wonder about how insignificant humans are compared to the vast space of the universe, while they worry about what bar they’re gonna go to Friday night. I work towards my life’s dream career in my free time–They play video games, smoke, sleep, go to work, repeat, repeat…repeat… I watch Netflix; they go to concerts. I’m waiting for a man to treat me right; they’ll sleep with anything that moves. I feel like there’s more to life than my daily routine and my purpose has yet to come…but their purpose…well, they’re living it.

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My solution? Well the obvious one is to be the different one and pursue the goals as intended. Most of the time its easy. I’m drifting into that state again, though. That state where I feel left out. Where the cute guy that flirts with me turns out to be…well, lets just say not a virgin. Where the girls I called my best friends are…hanging together and I wasn’t invited. Of course this isn’t the first time I’ve experienced this. Its such a normality now. It just hurts. Every time. And every time. I feel more useless and awkward and different. The sudden urge to get up, leave without warning and never return…is followed by the temptation to text that hot guy knowing he won’t text back…then an urge to drive off and be rid of it all…followed by a risky Facebook post obviously pointing fingers out of frustration…sigh. Introverts go through more than you know, World. More than you know.

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I’m not insecure; I’m confident. I’m not desperate for attention, though I would welcome it if from the right people. Don’t get me wrong I love being an introvert. We view the world in such a unique and inspiring way. After all…”if I spent even half my time in productivity as I do in people-drama, I’d be halfway to the moon by now.”

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Mentally drained,

Yours forever,

J.L. Cordova

“I Want to Live”

I haven’t posted in quite awhile. But I saw a movie tonight that blew my mind. This is storytelling. This is filmmaking. This is Chappie.

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“Chappie” is a movie in theaters right now by Sony and Colombia Pictures, staring Hugh Jackman and Sharlto Copley. Set in South Africa, it involves a company pursing an all-robotic police force. Deon is the founder of this idea, but on his own he pursues a hard drive which can give a robot human consciousness. When he experiments with this hardware on a malfunctioned robotic scout, his efforts are not in vain. The robot–Chappie–learns human behavior as if he was a child. It (or he) learns behavior, emotion, right and wrong, sacrifice, selfishness…everything beyond what a computer can feel…and more.

If you haven’t seen the movie and despise the awful occurrence of a spoiler, read no further, as I am too excited about this movie NOT to refer to its contents.

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Why is this good storytelling, J.L? What makes it brilliant and the best movie of 2015 so far (in your humble opinion of course). I’ll tell you why. This movie is brilliant not just because of its sci-fi concepts of transmitting consciousness neurologically into a robotic system. It goes beyond the awesomeness of a robot growing up as from a baby to a young adult in only a few days. These things are cool, but c’mon people we’re missing the main point here.

This movie is a metaphor for life itself.

Don’t stop reading; this is where it gets good. I had trouble wording that without sounding cheesy.

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This robot was created by Deon. Deon reminds Chappie throughout the movie that he made it. He insists that Chappie remember: “I made you Chappie. I am your maker.”

Now I don’t want to get all religious on you or anything, but I believe in a sovereign Creator. He told us that He was our Maker. Keep that parallel symbolism in your mind as you read on.

Deon gives Chappie a book called “The Black Sheep” and say it is just for him. Chappie is excited as he cries, “Chappie’s got a book! Chappie has stories!”

Our Creator gave us a book full of stories didn’t he?

Chappie discovers during the film that his battery is damaged, its running low, and soon he will “die”. He asks Deon in his croaky mechanized voice, “But…you made me. Why did you make me if I’m going to die?” Deon replies, “I didn’t make you to die, Chappie. I made you to live.”

Were we not made to “live” as well?

Chappie “grows up” in the outskirts of the city with three homeless criminals who made a deal with Deon. So, naturally, they teach him how to shoot, kill, roll blunts, cuss, etc. When Deon finds Chappie imitating them, he tells him no. “I don’t want you to be like them. I don’t want you to roll narcotics, or commit crimes…Be creative Chappie. Do not stop your creativity!”

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This…is exactly what our Creator wants from us. As far as living goes of course. Given a mind, soul, and ingenuity and creativity…we were meant to use it for something right?

Just like a child and any human, Chappie struggles to see right from wrong. Living and fighting with the criminals vs. being a “good boy” and doing what his maker has told him to do. We have these exact same struggles in life, do we not? Its simply fascinating how parallel these two stories are.

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“If you want to survive… you must fight.”

“I don’t want to die. I want to live.”

“If you want to survive Chappie, you must fight.”

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This movie was spectacular. It opens up new worlds of sci-fi concepts, including human consciousness mixing with robotic engineering. “Transcendence” staring Johnny Depp is another recent film in 2014 that is similar to this, only it is about maintaining the human consciousness after death. But that is for another post.

I strongly recommend “Chappie” for anyone interested in these types of concepts and perhaps the hidden symbolism I’ve been talking about. For anyone who didn’t think the trailer looked that interesting and in fact kind of lame, such as myself, believe me. It doesn’t do it justice in the slightest.

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We often forget how complex and amazing human consciousness is…until we see it in something other than our own kind.

Forever only human,

J.L. Cordova

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