Monday, May 19, 2014

My Summer Flick Picks - 2014

I love the summer movie season, but since I rarely have the cash (and I'm hard at work with my writing, working in the garden, the day job), I have to prioritize my picks. Fortunately, this year only has a few gems this summer vying for my attention. And has anyone noticed that more releases seem to happen near the end of summer?

A Hollywood plot? You make the call.

Anyway, I'll be lucky to see two of the top five. Maybe even all five when they hit the dollar theaters. Depending on what the kids force into the list.

Here's my most anticipated summer movies.

GOTG-poster.jpg#1 - Guardians of the Galaxy

Release Date: Aug 1

Watch the Trailer on YouTube

This one excites me because it's the latest release from Marvel Studios and could rival The Avengers. The trailer hooked me in with comedy and sci-fi. Since my birthday falls on July 24th, I think this will make an excellent party.

Teaser poster#2 - The Maze Runner

Release Date: Sept 19

Watch the Trailer on YouTube 

I really enjoy the Young Adult series written by James Dashner. It had the perfect mix of confusion and danger to really draw me in. Thanks to an amazing setting, this flick promises to live up to its literary roots.

Fault in our stars.jpg#3 - The Fault in Our Stars

Release Date: June 5

Watch the Trailer on YouTube 

While I haven't read this Young Adult book yet, my daughters loved it. They've reread it and dragged their friends--kicking and screaming--into reading it. And you know what? They liked it too. It's funny how YA books make such awesome movies.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.jpg#4 - Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Release Date: July 11

Watch the Trailer on YouTube 

I'll admit it. I'm a Planet of the Apes nut. More the originals of course, but the modern renditions have been renewing the franchise in interesting directions. The last film was decently done, so I'm excited to try this one.

Lucy (2014) Poster#5 - Lucy

Release Date: Aug 8

Watch the Trailer on YouTube 

Scarlett Johansson superhero movie. Yeah. After her kick-ass rendition of Black Widow in Iron Man 3 and The Avengers, you better believe this movie is gonna get my attention. Not only that, but it's sci-fi pitch is just too much to resist.

Blended (2014) Poster.jpg#6 - Blended

Release Date: May 23

Watch the Trailer on YouTube 

After loving Sandler and Barrymore in The Wedding Singer and 50 First Dates, I was a sucker for this movie. Throw in Brady Bunch kid action and all you have to do is pass the popcorn.

Jupiter ascending poster mila kunis.jpg#7 - Jupiter Ascending

Release Date: July 18

Watch the Trailer on YouTube 

This one has a lot of potential, and the biggest chance of a flop. Created from the makers of The Matrix, it has a catchy log line that promises action and moral dilemmas. It's modern earth mixed with sci-fi, so I'm very interested.

The Giver (2014) Poster#8 - The Giver

Release Date: Aug 15

Watch the Trailer on YouTube 

Another film based on a book, this film has the potential for greatness... If it survives the film adaptation. A story of a Utopia that is really a distopia--depending on your point of view. After all, why would you want your humanity?

Teaser poster#9 - The Box Trolls

Release Date: Sept 26

Watch the Trailer on YouTube 

I love stop-action animation (Wallace & Gromit), so naturally the trailer caught my eye. It looks pretty cute and is about a group of garbage dwelling creatures who raise an orphan. Feels like the Smurfs, but with more grime and better animation.

A man and a woman, wearing battle exosuits and looking battle-worn, stand against an urban background devastated by war.#10 - Edge of Tomorrow

Release Date: Sept 19

Watch the Trailer on YouTube 

I like Tom Cruise in spy thrillers. But for some reason I've never liked him as an action hero, even more so, a sci-fi action hero. He almost seems type-cast for action roles that require a bit of emotional output. Either way, I'll be watching.

Your Turn!
That's it for my summer flick picks. Which films are you most anticipating? Anything I missed or that you'd recommend?

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Review: On Killing

On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and SocietyOn Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society by Lt. Col. Dave Grossman

My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

First off, I'll admit I'm a firm supporter of the United States Constitution's Second Amendment and of self-defense in general. Many people believe that means I drink the blood of kittens and babies on a regular basis, which couldn't be farther from the truth.

The Good

Nobody wants to kill. Period.

You don't believe me? Just read this book.

On Killing is a masterful study of the psychological aspects of humans who kill. It shows that humans psychologically go to great lengths to avoid killing, usually only performing the act after extensive training. When a life is taken, there is a mental cost that must be paid, and Dave Grossman discusses each of these at length.

He also discusses the various aspects of what makes killing easier (such as distance) and the unintentional training we provide our children.

The Bad
On Killing is at times very graphic. While the entire work is objective with scores of soldier's war stories, some are as horrific as they are sad. The war atrocities section and the accounts of soldiers dealing with the consequences of killing provide meaningful context into what should be the ultimate taboo.

The Spin
I read this book as a writer wanting to understand the impact taking a life had on someone. 'On Killing' delivered this in spades. But more than that, it provided a deeper look at the effect society has on individuals, especially soldiers, who are asked to kill.

On Killing offers a meaty read with a heavy dose of 'something to think about.' It's an important book and worthy of your time.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Going Deep

Recently I've been working on a short story. I won't go into details because I plan on submitting it to Writers
of the Future. And details mean disqualifications if the judges read them. While it would be incredible if any of the judges were actually reading my blog, it's far better to err on the side of caution. So 'nuff said.

The Heart of Darkness
I had an awesome idea: the emotional conflict between two characters.

       Well, 'duh,' you say, 'that's most stories.'

Yes, but remember, I can't go into details. May I continue?

       Right, heh, sorry.

Well,I'm still working myself through this little pickle, but it's something I can understand--through experience--both sides of the issue. But the story got 'high-centered' over an emotional reveal. The one character cares deeply (In a familial way) for the other, but he can't show it, mostly from machismo but also because of national security. This man does things behind the scenes to help and protect the other. The second sees the first as distant and aloof.

The problem I'm having is: 1)I keep falling from third into first person. This distracts the narrative and lets the second character hijack the story. And 2) the shift in point of view makes me really dislike the first guy, even though he's a great guy.

Just Write
My solution, so far, has been to write the scene several times, pushing myself through the scene. I can see the first character's emotion softening, which it really needs anyway. But more importantly, it may keep me sane to prepare the big reveal. The various drafts will eventually boil down to one, based on the comments of my writing group.

And the emotional reveal impacts the rest of the story.

The point is that I needed to think about it for a bit, chewing on both characters. Both characters are good guys, but the second can't see beyond his own trouble. The first sees everything and is fighting to protect the second. Seeing the strong emotions of the first, led me to writing a section from his perspective. It opened my view in to the deeper conflict.

Will this section survive the final draft?

I don't know. But it's moved me deeper into the characters and their story. And that's what writers do.

Popular Posts