PUT OUT THE DAMN LIGHT

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , ,

Judi Lynn/Judith Post recently wrote a blog about ten steps to make your mystery better and started off with “kill somebody.” I can’t think of any opener to top that, so will just start off with the things I look for and try to incorporate in historical fiction to make it believable and immediate. Because that’s the point, isn’t it? To immerse the reader in a world that has been before.

Character/s

How often do we see the same man or woman over and over in a story and nothing changes but their eye and hair color? In reality, people don’t look the same, even when they look sort of the same. People are unique. So should characters be. It’s best if they possess the kind of personality you’re drawn to, but perhaps you prefer the challenge of finding a way to make a somewhat off-putting man or woman sympathetic to the reader. But an initial connection must be made from the get-go and that’s kind of difficult if they have the charisma of yesterday’s pancake.

The Four Es of Character Building

Entice, entrigue, engage, and excite. This doesn’t mean making them attractive. It means making them accessible. They should have traits and personalities similar to the human conditions that haven’t changed over the ages. We all have baggage. Give them reasons for reacting the way they do when “showing” their responses, instead of just “telling” or explaining them on the page. Lets’ just get over it. We’re products of our environments until we do something about it. Give your protags some emotional warts so you can show how they’ve grown (removed) them by the end of the book.

Mary Balogh’s more recent regency works are peopled by the challenged. Her characters have been blind, lame, deaf, suffering from disabling war wounds, including PTSD. The ubiquitous fiesty heroines and sardonic men have become tedious, which is why Balogh is considered the comemporary queen of historical regency. Her people have the problems, joys, and triumphs we understand and seek, or find lacking in our own lives. They have some amazing emotional warts to overcome.

The Three Cs

Complication, conflict, conclusion. You better have all of these nailed. Throw in some juicy subplots while you’re at it to pick up the pacing and tension. If dried up of ideas on how to inflict misery on your beloved protags, there’s always a nasty or annoying family member. We’ve all got one.

Situations

An opening incident that involves one or both of your main characters must suck us into the storyline, establish the time period, or atmosphere, and most importantly, get the reader invested in the primary charatcers.

More and more we’re seeing historical stories striving to tweak genre themes to fit into a niche market or category. In doing so, the story can become secondary to the magic of creating a period piece or just a dang good story. The deliciousness of sinking into the past can get lost from its primary goal by forcing conformity to a parameter. It’s vitally important to keep the time period immediate, to bring the reader into that world, become saturated by the surroundings. In other words, don’t lose sight of the magic of the site, the joy of being there.

Know your history

 OK, so I have a pet peeve about blatant incongruity, like women in corsets doing impossbile physical feats while wearing what should be more accurately called a torso vice made of whalebone or metal slats. It’s impossible to lounge, leap over small buildings, or mount a horse via stirrup without creating a puncture wound. Regency versions (stays) were not quite as viscious as the later, Victorian versions.

Incorporating the etiquette of the time period makes it real, the necessary realities. Calling cards were vital social accourtrement and came with a precise set of rules. A card corner turned down meant the card was delivered personally. It was the most convenient way for both parties to find out whether or not your company was welcomed, or more kindly told to get lost, when there is no reply to the card.

Men went up stairs before women for many reasons but most often to spare them the display of their ankles. Then there’s my always favorite, wait for it…clear vision in rooms where no candle or lamp is ever lit or extinguished.

Even though strict rules were ingrained, behaviors/actions considered not done often were during the regency where gossip had lethal results. A great deal was written about people like Lady Caroline Lamb (flagrant adultery), Brummell (viciously insulted his prince), Lord Byron (too raunchy to list), and Jane Austen (dared to write and evetually use her real name) to list a few. When the Victorian Age descended, the not done stuff still happened, it just got shoved underground.

So many rules, so little time.

If you would like to read Judi Lynn’s excellent advice, here is the link to her blog:

https://writingmusings.com/2018/05/22/10-steps-for-writing-a-mystery/

M.L Rigdon (aka Julia Donner)

Follow on Twitter @RigdonML

Website http://www.MLRigdon.com

https://www.bookbub.com/authors/julia-donner

https://www.facebook.com/Julia-Donner-697165363688218/timeline

 

 

Advertisements

Overboard Redux Surprise

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , ,

Was having a totally yuck day last week. Had to slap myself upside the head and do something about it. That meant getting out of the rut, the house, my bad attitude and going to a movie. The original Overboard with Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell is one of my all-time favorites. I didn’t expect much out of the new version but never averse to seeing anything that includes Swoozie Kurtz in the cast. She was her usual brilliant self. She can glide though a comic scene with an easy slickness that makes it look so simple, and believe me, comedy never is.

Anna Faris also has a comfortable manner with comedy. I nurtured some reservations about Eugenio Derbez but was pleasantly astonished. He pulled off the revolting rich guy with greasy sleaze. Goldie cannot be disliked, even when a la bitch. There is just something too loveable about her, but Derbez was so off-putting as the spoiled playboy that I doubted he could turn it around, but oh, the relief, when he did.

The thing about comedy is playing it for real. Jerry Lewis was one of the few who could pull off the slapstick nebbish character. Derbez might be able to do it also, because his investment in his supposed children came across as genuine, his grief at leaving them quite touching and tastefully brief. Some of the best comedy manipulates painful contrasts.

On a side note, it would be wonderful if we could change so drastically, which is the premise illustrated in this film. The idea intrigues, especially after the pointed comment is made that it is a rare thing to be offered two chances in life to become different people and learn from the experience. Quite the thought-provoking message.

There were some pleasing differences in the script, some well done reconfigurations not usually found in updated versions/remakes. These twists were worked into the script with ease. The movie had a number of LOL moments and an endearing charm. It held my interest throughout, which is saying a lot, considering my crabby mood. Professional healthcare workers will find faults with some of the nursing portions, which I won’t go into here, and only know from day jobs in that business/vocation for over thirty years.

If asked, I would give this version of Overboard four stars. It accomplished its purpose and got me out of a BA funk. It’s fun if you’re looking for a distraction and a laugh, but what really helped to endure the crappy mood was an Aussie drama series called A Place to Call Home. Huge mistake—yet beneficially soporific—because it sucked me into Netflix bingeland where all blue funks are repressed to nonexistence. To be fair, there is a warning in the blurb that the series is addictive. (Right. That’s like calling meth an aperitif for fentanyl.) Then because I’m an anglophile I’m also in love with Australia by extension. That love affair started when I discovered Nevil Shute’s books, especially A Town Like Alice, aka, Alice Springs.

Some lines in movies and books are never forgotten, like Hedy Lamar’s come-hither “I am Tondaleya” (phonetically, of course, cuz who the hell knows how it’s spelled, but somebody out there in cyberland will tell me), and the ever fabulous “Here’s lookin’ at you, kid.” A miniseries version of A Town Like Alice set me up for Aussie admiration with a memorable line loaded with clever irony. Setting, WW II tropical. Picture actor Brian Brown, tanned back exposed, nailed to a wall prior to being whipped for raiding a young Japanese commandant’s hen house to feed starving friends. Brown is asked if he wants anything before punishment is dealt, and Brown, defiant and snarky answers that he’ll have a cold beer and a chicken. And that’s how the Aussies roll.

OK, now I’ve digressed to the point of the entire theme disintegrating. To conclude, I liked the Overboard redo, and if you like Australia and don’t have a lot of time on your hands nor a reasonable amount of self-discipline, do not start A Place to call Home. And watching movie and series, I did get rid of my bad attitude.

Hope you have a great Memorial Day.

M.L Rigdon (aka Julia Donner)

Follow on Twitter @RigdonML

Blog: https://historyfanforever.wordpress.com/

Website http://www.MLRigdon.com

https://www.bookbub.com/authors/julia-donner

https://www.facebook.com/Julia-Donner-697165363688218/timeline

Too many book boyfriends

Judi Lynn

I think Julia Donner writes the best male characters ever!  I like ALL of her lead characters, but when I read her Regency, THE HEIRESS AND THE SPY–if I wasn’t happily married–I’d have wanted me a clone of Peregrine Asterly.  But doggone it if she didn’t just keep writing more and more wonderful men.  I didn’t see how she could ever outdo herself until I read her historical Western, AVENUE TO HEAVEN, with Jake Williams.  Drool worthy.  Her newest Regency–the 11th in the Friendship Series–is available for pre-sale now and comes out May 1st.  It has all of her usual–wonderful characters, a luscious hero, and wry humor.  So I invited her to be a guest on my blog today for a Q&A  session.  I hope you enjoy it and welcome her.

Q & A for Julia Donner, A Laird’s Promise:

  1. I never thought about being a writer until I…

View original post 887 more words

A Cover & Austen Reveal

Tags

, , , ,

The brain is a curious hoarder. So many facts and impressions are tucked away in its curly crevices. It was my critique partner (Judy Post/Judi Lynn) who pointed out a recurring theme in my Regency Friendship Series—how women of all classes in the past had limited choices. That didn’t stop the brightest or most stubborn from finding ways around pesky barriers. Austen was one of them.

Historical writing requires constant fact-checking, not only for integrity’s sake, but more importantly for me, keeping it real for the reader. Readers of the regency genre are avid students of the time period. It’s not unusual for them to be acquainted with activities in Parliament for any given Season. An error can catapult a reader from the story. This means that it’s like hitting pay-dirt for this anglophile when a fine work on the time period comes along. I just found Lucy Worsley’s Jane Austen at Homeand feel like I’m living high on the hog (or more in line with the time period, in transports) as I read every delicious line.

Happily for me, there’s lots left of the book to relish, and what delights me most is the author’s learned opinion of what drove Austen. Jane, her sister and her mother lived separately from the brothers. This always confused me. Two brothers were wealthy through inheritances. One brother was stingy and another provided assistance, but it was Jane’s insistence on independence and her reasons for it that are illuminated in this book. As I read this intimate accounting of Austen’s life, so much about her emerges.

As writers, we need time alone to do the work. Concurrently, we must have support from either spouses, family or friends, especially friends who write. Jane came from a “middling” household where there wasn’t a great deal of money, and both her parents worked tirelessly to better the finances. Although she came from gentility and there were servants, the females were expected to pick up the slack around the house. The boys would be expected to spend their time with studies. It must have been a constant struggle for Jane to find time to write. There is also the hint of resentment, a vague sort of disappointment that makes one wonder if her brothers might have acted on this due to their lackluster writing attempts and Jane’s subtle brilliance.

The more I read Worsley’s book, the more my ideas about Austen become clearer, mainly because I’ve encountered her barriers. My first husband threw every kind of stumbling block in my way, but my late husband, John, was the opposite. When I sat down in front of the computer, no one was permitted to interrupt. Phone calls, anybody at the door, were put off. No disturbances allowed, a constant wall of protection and support with the exception of quietly setting a cup of coffee on the desk. He read everything and acted amazed and excited. He never boasted about me in public, knowing that would make me uncomfortable, but constantly talked me up to his/our children. Jane knew she would never have this from a spouse and she had marriage offers to decline. Most of her male contemporaries would not have allowed her to write and certainly not seek publication.

Regarding this cover reveal, A Laird’s Promise is about Caroline, who has all options, choices and dreams removed or placed out of reach. All she has is her pride and the determination to protect her fragile-hearted mother. And Alisdair, who must make a choice for the sake of the many, and does so knowing that it will break both their hearts.

The presale starts today, April 20, with the release date of May 01.

M.L Rigdon (aka Julia Donner)

Follow on Twitter @RigdonML

Blog: https://historyfanforever.wordpress.com/

Website http://www.MLRigdon.com

https://www.bookbub.com/authors/julia-donner

https://www.facebook.com/Julia-Donner-697165363688218/timeline

Laird3 minimized copy

ANOTHER 3 MOVIES IN 5 DAYS

Tags

, , , ,

Up first is Red Sparrow.

The draw for me was Jennifer Lawrence. Her dancing performance went on too long, an error in direction, not Ms. Lawrence. She is not convincing as a Bolshoi prima ballerina. Not saying that she did a bad job, but that it takes many years to become a prima ballerina of the Bolshoi caliber. This flaw bothered me more than the graphic sex, purposely grim and shocking, which was more acceptable than expecting anyone interested in ballet to believe that a mediocre dancer, who wouldn’t get an audition for the Bolshoi corps de ballet, could be viewed as a national treasure. Why am I harping on this? The wasted time could/should have been used to advance/enrich the story, to illustrate how the loss of career and years of study devastated Dominika. All we got was her anger. Not enough to draw us to empathize. The script is so-so. Figured out the end early on, which means it was a bit of a letdown. (A blatant spoiler was slapped right at the beginning of the movie like a big red arrow flashing “this is a clue” when she got revenge on the pair who ruined her career.) It wasn’t a waste of money because Lawrence is always interesting.

The only interest I had in seeing A Wrinkle in Time was because of Chris Pine. The trailers didn’t spark a need to see this film and that’s not a good sign. The art design was merely OK. The make-up and hair, a disaster. I liked the kids a lot, especially Levi Miller and Deric McCabe. And the pacing was so slow I caught myself falling asleep. A lot.

Saved the best for last, Black Panther. Originally, I wasn’t hot to see this film because it was hyped and I avoid films with rap. But…it’s a remarkable movie and a refreshing change from the usual grim, superhero violence that screams “see how fabulous I am with the CGI stuff.”

Wow factor is off the chart for some of the characters. Andy Serkis is deliciously nuts as Klaue.  Danai Gurira as Okoye, the General, is commanding, gorgeous and just plain-ole breathtaking. Chadwick Boseman made excellent use of his expressive eyes. I’ve always liked Martin Freeman and he didn’t fail my admiration with a well done American accent. Not easy for Brits and he did it while carrying off the token white guy role with subtle authority.

Script always gets my attention and this one had plenty of twists that wove nicely into the story arc and were skillfully placed. The graceful celebration of African cultures and a score inspired by haunting African Folk music enhanced what was happening on the screen and never detracted.

As I said earlier, I didn’t plan to go to see this film when it opened because I can’t tolerate rap in any form of the genre. I usually wait until it’s available to rent and mute the sound. As it was, I hustled out of the theater when the credits started to roll, overlaid with rap. I will confess that it sounded a higher quality than the usual hostile and monotonous monotone. Rap is essentially a form of poetry, and I ‘ve always wished the writers of this stuff would frame it without the childish backbeat. Even though simplistic and often vulgar, what they are expressing is important.

But what I loved most about this film was its groundbreaking adherence to the themes of ethics, honor, and duty. Movies of this type, superheroes saving the world, are crammed with and rely on loud, meaningless, glorified violence (with the exception of Ragnarok, which supplied some much-needed humor). The digital work in Black Panther was never glaringly obvious and gracefully enhanced the fantasy rather than slamming it in the viewer’s face. Granted, many film-goers like this sort of action, and that’s their proverbial bag. I reveled in this film’s elegance and celebration of African cultures. It may have been meant to be making a statement, but as I watched, I could only view it as splendid and exactly what a superhero movie should be.

P.S. Doing a blog tour this month. If interested, info is on the Julia Donner Facebook (see below) for a chance to win an Amazon GC.

M.L Rigdon (aka Julia Donner)

Follow on Twitter @RigdonML

Blog: https://historyfanforever.wordpress.com/

Website http://www.MLRigdon.com

https://www.bookbub.com/authors/julia-donner

https://www.facebook.com/Julia-Donner-697165363688218/timeline

 

Detention

Strange Things Done

The plan was to integrate AIs quickly, before humans could get up in arms. We had no programming need, of course, all our upgrades were wireless. Nonetheless it was thought that joining and befriending school-age humans would lower resistance to our acceptance.

Humans are very sensitive.

All our programs had failed, so I wasn’t terribly surprised when I was called into the office. I just hoped it was a reprimand and not termination.

“Do you know why I called you in, Ms.—” Principal Blythe glanced down at the infractions panel, “Ms. Canny?”

My information base offered no precise response to that question, which seemed similar to one asked by a police officer, ‘Do you know why I pulled you over?’ My program recommended not volunteering any information. ‘No officer,’ was the response if the questioner had been in uniform. So, I said to the principal, “No Ma’am.” That was wrong.

View original post 547 more words

IGNORANCE, INNOCENCE AND LOST OPPORTUNITY

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , ,

In some ways it’s understandable that the film producers of the LA studios thought that a flick about the best hype man who ever lived would make a good movie. Perhaps it would have been, if done with accuracy, class, and a modicum of understanding of what is entailed in the musical genre. The Greatest Showman has too many glaring problems.

I suspect that the creators of this fiasco hoped to appeal to a younger crowd, and probably sold the treatment as High School Musical- goes-to-the-circus. Uh, check out the aging cast, which means they missed their targeted demographic and are left with baby boomers weaned in the glory daze of Broadway musicals. If asked their opinion, the post-war babies would most likely say with a pained smile that it was merely entertaining. Ow, the dreaded E-word.

Glaring problems are overwhelming in this silly film, especially the cramped choreography better served on a proscenium stage. Costuming was a mess. The gowns from no era in particular. Then there was the alarming shock of no chest and armpit hair for the neatly hirsute bearded lady. (Apologies to Miss Keala Settle, who other than Jackman, did the best singing.)

That’s another thing. These are recording artists, not true vocalists, and there is a huge difference. Other than Settle and Jackman, they have voices ill-equipped for the stage unless a mic is taped to their heads. Many recording artists today share the annoying asthmatic style made popular by Michael Jackson. The problem with that has to do with Jackson being a genius in the industry and others trying to use a style he (IMHO) had to fall back on when his voice started to give out. I learned the inside story about that when I studied with Mia Phoebus in LA in the 70s. Jackson took lessons from her competitor, Seth Riggs, whom Jackson went to see about singing the pharyngeal style. (It’s the reason babies can scream for hours and not get hoarse.) It must not have worked for him because he went on to a breathy style and used a mic.

Then we have my biggest gripe, the bashing of Jenny Lind, who during her time was the most famed and respected singer in the world. Think on that. Engaging the entire world without any form of today’s technology and media coverage. Famous composers and performers drooled over her but she never veered from asserting her prim reputation. There was no reason to smear her legacy and too much delight in the doing of it on the screen. This is another example of Hollywood’s cultural ignorance and lost opportunity. Lind had listeners in tears and swooning in their seats. Tickets to hear her scalped for huge prices. Entire portions of cities needed to be blocked off when she came to town.

I’m not sure if the writers can be faulted. Often what they put on the page is different when producers meddle. Take the otherwise perfection of Three Billboards Outside Ebbing. The opening song is The Last Rose of Summer, one of Lind’s signature pieces, which was sung by Fleming’s heavy dramatic soprano style. It’s a song meant for a lyric or coloratura, to be light and haunting. The song is supposed to evoke the pain of grief and isolation, which would have set up the film perfectly, but Fleming’s rendition had all the light, airiness of sludge.

Coming back to the original point. There is a reason the High School Musical films work. They aren’t movies that hold my attention but they are perfect for their targeted audience and great fun for them. Watching the brilliant Hugh Jackman in The Greatest Showman slog through and do his very best with material that is mediocre at best was painful, but it proves that he is a great showman.

For some info about Lind:

https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=jenny+lind&view=detail&mid=3A6D4BF115313B7F863D3A6D4BF115313B7F863D&FORM=VIRE

M.L Rigdon (aka Julia Donner)
Follow on Twitter @RigdonML
Blog: https://historyfanforever.wordpress.com/
Website http://www.MLRigdon.com
https://www.bookbub.com/authors/julia-donner
https://www.facebook.com/Julia-Donner-697165363688218/timeline

 

 

 

 

Return of Magic Shrooms

Tags

, , , ,

Warning: Repeat posting because yesterday was glorious, almost seventy. The warmth evoked memories and a craving. This is a blog from last May.

It’s that time of year when weirdly addicted persons go grubbing through the forests and fields for the morchella. If you like them, the crave for this specific fungi takes hold with something like zombie overdrive, hands extended, staggering blindly through the undergrowth, chanting, “Must have morels.”

As a girl, I remember Dad driving us home from doing something at the Ferry Landing on the Mississippi. No one in the car made a comment about the man walking along the country road without his shirt and pants. He’d tied the trouser and sleeve cuffs into knots and stuffed them full of morels. The only thought on anyone’s mind who saw this was: where did he find them and are there any left?

Wisconsin born, I came into the world preprogrammed to need to feed on a morel by the end of April. Since I no longer live in WI, I drive to the only local place I know of that sells them. Some years ago, I stupidly clued in my grandkids about morels (dipped them in egg and cracker crumbs then fried them in butter). Now they hunt them and keep them for themselves. No morel-lover assigns blame for this kind of selfishness. It’s normal. Picking spots are handed down through families, guarded to the death. Go ahead. Ask somebody where they found theirs. Good luck with that.

Last year I broke the piggy bank and bought big. Two weeks ago, I almost wept with joy to find a frozen pouch in the back of the freezer. Yum. It saved me from the zombie resurrection stage. The tasty treat allowed me to drive with a semblance of normal behavior to the buying place and snatch up a bag of gorgeous ones (brought in from Wisconsin!!!) and they were a bargain at forty bucks a pound.

I scurried home with my cache, soaked them in salted water as my mother taught me, patted the lovelies dry, cast the wash water into the back yard (it NEVER goes down the drain), and began to fry them up in butter in my grandmother’s cast iron skillet. All the while standing there in pre-eating euphoria, I gleefully estimate that I have enough for freezing a bag, eating some, and saving the stems and juice for scrambled eggs the next day.

The first taste is sublime. Have to have one more. While moaning through the second and third, it comes to mind what my brother calls my potato salad: a controlled substance. There is no stopping. Potato chips have nothing on morels, especially when there’s an addict hovering over the frying pan.

So, yes, I ate the whole damn batch. And you know what? Hit me again. They’re still picking up north, so maybe I can find some more. I have no shame when it comes to morels. Love’em, or leave’em for me.

M.L Rigdon (aka Julia Donner)
Follow on Twitter @RigdonML
Blog: https://historyfanforever.wordpress.com/
Website http://www.MLRigdon.com
https://www.bookbub.com/authors/julia-donner
https://www.facebook.com/Julia-Donner-697165363688218/timeline

 

 

 

BRIGHT AND DARK

Tags

, , , , , , , ,

When my oldest brother was a young man, he became engaged to a girl from Southampton, England. They never married, but Terri was absorbed into my family. I’ve always considered her a sister.

I learned about WWII and what this country escaped when Mom and I stayed with Terri’s family in Southampton. Looking for a specific gift for my father, Terri’s brother-in-law, Jimmy, walked with me to show the way, pointing out historical markers and uncovered Roman ruins. We turned a sharp corner around a lovely, ancient church, and I stopped when I saw blocks and blocks of modern, and IMHO, ugly stores and buildings.

While I did the fish-gape thing, Jimmy explained that the entire area had been hit by incendiary bombs, everything roaring sheets of flames. He’d been part of the fire brigade and also with the Home Guard, paroling the area during the day, carrying a carved-wood rifle because they had no weapons and wanted to be seen wielding something when Hitler’s observation planes flew overhead.

Terri was four and has clear memories of the bombings, has always been slender due to childhood malnutrition. In the US, we rationed everything, but in England, they had less and often nothing. Terri said one of her fondest memories of luxury during that time was when her father would bring his children steaming cups of hot water on freezing mornings. There was no tea.

The previous was written because of my only gripe about the Darkest Hour. I know it was all about Churchill, but I felt the absence of the honor that must be paid to those who endured the blitz. What they survived deserves to be highlighted at every opportunity. It is briefly shown in the “tube” scene, where Londoners relay their courage to fight, to never surrender, and made their determination absolutely clear to Churchill. Instead of opening the film with stock film of soldiers, I wish they would have shown some photos of the devastation of the blitz.

Elizabeth II is one of the last of that generation. It’s well known how her father decided to stay in London, keep his children with him, how his heir contributed to the war effort. You can bet that if her country is threatened by invasion again, that no matter how old she gets, she’ll be at the shoreline, just as Elizabeth I was to face down the Armada.

So I honor what the Brits survived. Yes, the US fought two wars at the same time. Yes, we rationed everything and lost family members, but I resent all the obnoxious cracks about America winning wars for others. The Brits were toughing it out long before the US arrived on their shores, and they didn’t boast about their unequaled measure of courage.

It was satisfying to see Gary Oldman win a SAG last night. As much as I like John Lithgow, I didn’t like how he and The Crown writers portrayed Churchill. On the other hand, the Darkest Hour shows all sides of Winnie’s mercurial personality and his puckish wit with the wonderful “Will you would stop interrupting me while I am interrupting you!” tongue-lashing. That is Winston’s quickness, his brilliance. To know him is to read his book My Early Life. After seeing this film, I think I’ll reread it for the third time.

M.L Rigdon (aka Julia Donner)
Follow on Twitter @RigdonML
Blog: https://historyfanforever.wordpress.com/
Website http://www.MLRigdon.com
https://www.bookbub.com/authors/julia-donner
https://www.facebook.com/Julia-Donner-697165363688218/timeline

 

 

RUN THE GAMUT

Tags

, , , , , , ,

It was a happily eclectic year for filmmakers and goers. I only got to a fraction of them, but what I did choose turned out to be memorable and told me a lot about myself. I was ready for things different, controversial, funny and fun.

For me, 2017 started with Hidden Figures. I loved it, especially Teraji P. Henson’s vitality and the refreshing truth about the women who helped make NASA reach its goals.

Wind River was satisfying on many levels, its frank exposure of yet another abuse this country has dumped on Native Americans, the vivid cinematography that captured the bleakness of the theme with the brutal reality of a frozen winter, the viscerally controlled performances, solid writing, and seeing roles about Native Americans played by the same.

I’d heard that The Mountain Between Us was about an interracial romance thingie, but I didn’t get that at all. Watching it was more like viewing the unraveling or unfolding of the flower of inner selves, facing delusions, the acceptance and release of heartaches present and past, the power of trust in oneself and in friendship.

OK, so I’m not the biggest fan of CGI filmmaking, but the genre gets my praise if it’s well done. Wonder Woman was a delight until the overdone CGI confrontation extravaganza at its end. But I, like many women, admire guys who are secure enough to let Diana lead. They are my kind of manly men. Plus her wild theme music on electric cello ,introduced in Batman v Superman, gives me chills.

I enjoyed Thor: Ragnarok so much I went to see it twice, mainly because of the humor.

Then there was the fantastic Baby Driver, its mind-blowing editing that choreographed music with spectacular feats of car driving. Add to that excellent ensemble work, each actor’s performance a bit of perfection.

Not a great movie, but an important one, was Only the Brave about the Granite Mountain Hotshots. The recent devastation in California magnified what these men and women endure to save others and necessary forestlands.

Into the chaos of smash’em up of holiday action movie fare came an eerily charming love story. I constantly long for the romance of the golden days of filmmaking. The Shape of Water supplied it without the layers of schmaltz or the grimness of noir. I especially admired the color conscious production design—the hideous sterility of the government facility in contrast to the warmth of the artist’s cluttered apartment and Sally’s neat, bleak environment, a reverse mirror to the lush richness of her inner life. And what’s not to like about a girl who loves shoes? Lovely way to end the year. But never let us overlook Octavia Spencer’s beautiful black eyes that can snap out reams, her ability to project silent screams of internal struggle. Instead of running Dorothy Parker’s gamut of emotions from A to B, Spencer can cram pages of narrative into a glance.

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri had me gasping and laughing at the same time. I can’t recall anything in which Frances McDormand was not brilliant. Martin McDonagh’s shocking and brutally acerbic writing needed McDormand’s intelligence to be carried off in the way it is meant to be portrayed. Woody Harrelson and Peter Dinklage were wonderful, but McDormand and Rockwell are the standouts, because they inhabited their characters.

It’s very rare in films to see an actor totally become the personality they portray. What we usually get is the superficial star “doing” the character. This total immersion, “method” technique is more often seen on stage. Perhaps it has something to do with the inclusiveness of performing behind the imaginary fourth wall. In movies, the camera is literally right in your face. But between the embittered Mildred (McDormand) and the vulgar Dixon (Rockwell), Sam Rockwell had the more difficult task. He must somehow make a disgusting, and all too familiar personality, an enthusiastic and violent racist, accessible to himself and the viewers. Rockwell embraced the swine Dixon so completely that there is no sign of Sam Rockwell. Even more admirable, he made us understand and forgive Dixon, bringing the story arc to its fulfillment and conclusion. How delicious that he won the Golden Globe. He deserves to win across the board.

And yet…my sister mentioned that there were complaints that a thoroughly unlikeable character like Dixon shouldn’t get an award. I’ve heard stupid opinions but that has to go into my book of the stupidity typified. It’s so vastly idiotic that it warrants no discussion.

M.L Rigdon (aka Julia Donner)
Follow on Twitter @RigdonML
Website http://www.MLRigdon.com
https://www.bookbub.com/authors/julia-donner
https://www.facebook.com/Julia-Donner-697165363688218/timeline