Kimberly C's blog

A Different Kind of Fairy Tale

wizard of ozIn a blog post a few weeks ago, I waxed eloquent (I might actually have rambled) about my intense love for live-action fairy tales, Disney’s Sleeping Beauty, and Maleficent, the greatest of the fairy tale villains. There are so many fairy tales brought to screen every year, both through animation and live-action filmmaking, and each takes a unique approach to retelling the classic story.

As I was putting that list together, I noticed another trend: movies with fairy tale qualities based on stand-alone or series novels. These novels aren’t generally considered fairy tales, and they certainly don’t appear in any Grimm’s collection, but they do have many similar qualities. While some of these books, like The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and Peter Pan, are considered classics, many, like Ella Enchanted, are modern reinventions of the fairy tale genre. The movies based on these books generally rely on a sense of whimsy and a bit of magic to enchant viewers and move the plot forward. And, although it is almost never stated, there is always the all-important “happily ever after.”

Once Upon a Time…

maleficent dragonWhen I saw Disney’s Sleeping Beauty for the first time as a little girl, I was completely captivated. I loved watching the fairies muddle through baking a cake and sewing a dress, Briar Rose and Prince Phillip’s first encounter in the forest, and the epic fight at the end of the film. But, most of all, I loved Maleficent. She could curse a person sixteen years in advance and turn into a dragon! In my mind, that made her the best fairy tale villain.

I was obviously not alone in that way of thinking, because 55 years later, Disney released a live action retelling of the fairy tale. But this time, they focused on Maleficent, one of the most beloved fairy tale villains. Maleficent strives to do what Wicked, the best-selling novel and the hit Broadway musical, did for the Wicked Witch of the West in The Wizard of Oz: tell the villain’s story, shed light on their motivations, and bring compassion to an otherwise evil character. Critical reviews so far have been mixed, but audiences seem united in finding Maleficent’s story, and Angelina Jolie’s performance as her, mesmerizing.

As You Wish!

princess brideIn 1987 The Princess Bride, one of my favorite movies, opened in theaters to moderate success. Equal parts romance, comedy, adventure and fantasy, it offered something for everyone. Since its release on VHS and DVD, The Princess Bride has steadily become a cult classic based on its imminently quotable dialogue, quirky characters and charmingly bizarre plot.

The Princess Bride is just one of many iconic movies to come out of the 1980s, a prolific and varied decade that brought viewers a fantastic mix of award-winning classics and cult classics worth watching for nostalgia’s sake. It produced heroes like John McClane and Indiana Jones, and villains like Darth Vader, and it saw the start of some franchises that still continue today and the end of others. For many people, the movies of the ‘80s showed how to do everything, from skipping school to saving the world, with style.

Below I have listed a few of my favorite movies from the ‘80s. Let me know your favorites!

Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month

ang leeEach May, we honor the men and women of Asian and Pacific Islander descent who have contributed to America’s rich historical and cultural heritage. First conceived as a week-long event in the late 1970’s, the celebration was extended in 1992 and is now commemorated each year in May as Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month.

There are many people of Asian-Pacific descent working in the American film and television industry and I wanted to take a moment this month to recognize their contributions. Whether working behind the scenes as writers and directors, or lighting up film and television screens as actors and actresses, their talents have helped shape Hollywood into a creative and innovative force. The following list is by no means complete, but does highlight a few of these talented individuals and their contributions.

Stand & Cheer!

inspire othersIn 2006, the American Film Institute released a list of the 100 most inspiring American movies: AFI’s 100 Years…100 Cheers. It’s an interesting list that definitively answers the question, does a movie need to be sentimental to be inspiring? Looking over the broad range of genres present in this list, the answer is a definite no. Moviegoers can find inspiration in films that invite them to open themselves to love, stand up for what they believe is right, fight the good fight, and rediscover the innocence of childhood. Even superhero movies, like the recently released Captain America: The Winter Soldier, encourage audiences to aspire to be greater.

A House Divided

captain americaEvery movie fan has that person. That one friend whose movie tastes align almost perfectly with their own, who is willing to re-watch old favorites, make fun of bad movies, and discuss each minute detail of a new movie. I am lucky enough to have two such people, one of whom is my younger brother.

Despite our almost ten year age difference, my brother and I have shockingly similar movie tastes. There have been many family gatherings were the two of us have staunchly defended a movie that everyone else disparaged. But the one movie debate we have on a regular basis, the one thing we can’t agree on, is the age old superhero battle: Marvel vs DC. I am, and will forever be, a DC girl. Superman has long held a special place in my heart as my favorite superhero. I love Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy so much, that I saw the The Dark Knight four times in theaters – on IMAX, no less. My brother, on the other hand, loves Marvel wholeheartedly. In fact, Captain America is his favorite of all the superheroes. And even though I appreciate Iron Man and the X-Men, and he enjoys Christian Bale’s Batman, we will always remain divided in our affections.

A Long Time Ago, We Used to be Friends...

veronica marsLast Friday, Veronica Mars arrived in theaters after a long, ground-breaking journey. In 2007, after three seasons on the air, Veronica Mars, the television show, was cancelled, much to the dismay of the fans who loved it. That seemed to be the end of Veronica’s sleuthing, until last spring, when a Kickstarter to fund a movie continuing her story was started. With over 91,500 backers pledging $5.7 million, the Veronica Mars Movie Project proved that there are some television shows popular enough to make the transfer to film.

86th Academy Awards

OscarsThis past Sunday, the 86th Academy Awards were held at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles, California. The culmination of awards season, the Academy Awards are an exciting night full of glitz, glam, tears and lots of golden statues. This year, host Ellen DeGeneres brought laughs to audiences watching in the theater and at home with a long-running pizza bit that resulted in pizza actually being delivered to the celebrities in attendance, and a star-studded selfie that broke Twitter. Movie montages of the heroes, both real and imaginary, that have come from movies, a celebration of the 75th anniversary of The Wizard of Oz, and a moving In Memoriam helped round out the celebration of film.

Although the big winners at this year’s Oscar ceremony weren’t overly surprising, some of them were momentous. With his win as part of the husband-wife team behind Frozen’s hit song “Let It Go,” Robert Lopez became the twelfth and youngest (at 38 years old) member of the EGOT club. His previous wins include a Grammy and Tonys for the Broadway musical The Book of Mormon, as well as Emmys for the children’s cartoon, The Wonder Pets.

2014 Oscar Nominations: Best Actor & Best Supporting Actor

academy awardIn just a few weeks, winners will be announced at the Academy Awards, the culmination of the film awards season. This year’s nominees in the Actor and Supporting Actor categories are a diverse group. Five of the actors are nominated for the first time, and only one actor (Christian Bale) has previously won an Academy Award. With such amazing new or previously unrecognized talent, the race could be open to upset. Will the men of Dallas Buyers Club, who have dominated the race so far, continue their winning streak, or will there be a surprise win at the Oscars?

Although I haven’t seen all of the nominated movies so far, I already have my favorites. Who would you like to see win an Academy Award?

Best Actor:

Christian Bale (American Hustle): In American Hustle, Bale plays Irving Rosenfeld, a con artist forced by the FBI to set up a sting operation in exchange for his freedom. A method actor who exchanges accents at will, Bale has starred in everything from big budget blockbusters (most notably as Batman in Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy), to smaller independent films (The Machinist). This is Bale’s second Academy Award nomination, with a previous win for Supporting Actor in The Fighter.

Leonardo DiCaprio (The Wolf of Wall Street): Recognized for his role as Jordan Belfort, a corrupt New York stockbroker, this is DiCaprio’s fourth Academy Award nomination and his fifth collaboration with director Martin Scorsese. After huge mainstream success in the 1990’s with blockbusters like Titanic and Romeo + Juliet, DiCaprio has since starred in a number of critically-acclaimed and Oscar-nominated movies. DiCaprio has already won a Critics’ Choice Award and a Golden Globe this season, and his fans hope that this might finally be his year at the Oscars.

Let the Games Begin!

olympic ringsIn less than a week, the XXII Winter Olympic Games will begin in Sochi, Russia. Although I have my favorite sports teams and root for them each year, I don’t generally make a habit of watching sporting events on television. For the Olympics, I make an exception. I am an Olympics addict and winter sports are my favorite. Skiing! Hockey! Figure Skating! Curling! Snowboarding! I watch it all. I have never been skiing in my life, can count on one hand the number of times I have strapped on a pair of ice skates, and don’t even really understand the scoring for most of the sports at the Winter Olympics. (Does anyone really, truly understand the “new” figure skating scoring system? I have my doubts.) But there is something magical about watching competitors at the top of their game represent their country and perform insane feats of athleticism and grace.

When the games start next weekend, I’ll be glued to my TV at every free moment, watching the competition. But if you can’t wait for the Olympics to start, there are some great movies featuring winter sports. Not all the movies on this list actually take place at the Olympic Games, but each focuses on athletes training and competing in a winter sport.

The Opening Ceremony of the XXII Winter Olympic Games will air Friday, February 7th in the evening on NBC. Don’t miss the Parade of Nations and the lighting of the torch!

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