Friday, September 6, 2019

The Legend of Tarzan


Do I categorize this movie in history or adventure??

     Whichever category I choose, this is a fun movie to watch. While not being a big Tarzan fan (I do love the Disney film), I watched it primarily for Alexander Skarsgard...and it was totally worth it. Unlike most renditions of the Tarzan storyline, Legend works backwards. The English gentleman must return to his roots as the now famed ape man of Africa to rescue the woman he loves. I was glad they did the story that way and not feel like it was repeating the typical Tarzan trope. History is also mixed in with fiction as it deals with the corruption of colonialism of Africa in the 19th century and the heavy price that was paid by its people.


Background

     In 1885, King Leopold of Belgium has laid claim to the Congo Basin. While giving the appearance of being successful and prosperous, Leopold has run the country into bankruptcy. He has been borrowing money to pay off his expensive railroads, while using illegal slavery of the Congo people for labor and profit. However, his debts are mounting and he has one last solution. The famed diamonds of Opar (a fictional city in the Tarzan novels) that are in the possession of Chief Mbonga.  The King sends his top man, Leon Rom to discuss terms of obtaining these diamonds. Mbonga has only one request, to get the diamonds, Leon must bring to him the the legendary Tarzan; a man that Mbonga has a personal vendetta against. 

* * * * *

     For the last eight years, Tarzan has been living as Lord John Clayton of London. After he was found by Jane Porter and brought back to his rightful home in England, he has tried to adjust to the human world. While John wants to live a quiet life, he himself is a worldwide celebrity. Books and magazines tell of his 'wild and harrowing' adventures in the jungles. 

     When he gets an unexpected invitation to go to Congo as a special guest of of King Leopold, he rejects it. Knowing full well he cannot live in two worlds. However, George Washington Williams an American envoy with his own secret agenda, informs John that there is more going on in Congo than just the king's supposed prosperity and asks him to reconsider.  


     John's hesitancy to return to Conga isn't entirely unreasonable. He feels obligated to continue the legacy of his parents who were shipwrecked and died in the jungle. He wants to live as his father may have once live and have the family that he never had. John's wife, Jane, is a lively and headstrong American; she grew up in Africa as the daughter of an American professor who taught the native people English. Jane is delighted at John's invitation to go back to Africa and wastes no time in making plans. John is unsure about Jane inviting herself as she had just suffered a miscarriage earlier that year. An incident that is putting a strain on their marriage.

     Eventually, for his wife's sake, John agrees to return to Africa. They have an exciting reunion with the tribal people that Jane grew up with and both John and Jane find themselves more relaxed than they ever were in England. The sadness of their lost baby, the confusion of John's future, the politics, the unwanted fame all disappear as John and Jane spend a passionate, love filled night with each other. 

     When morning comes, Leon Rom's deceptive plan to turn John over to Chief Mbonga is put into action. He raids the village, murders the chief and captures John and Jane. John manages to escape, but his wife is being held prisoner and leverage for him to turn himself over. Together, he and George face the dangerous Congo jungles. To save Jane and the Congonese people, John must return to a life he has tried so hard to let go of.  


    A beautifully filmed movie that was a simple story of a man caught between two worlds, but the woman he loved was the only world he needed. Swedish actor, Alexander Skarsgard may have been an unlikely choice for Tarzan, a supposed wild and ferocious man-beast. Yet, he brought to the character deep compassion and understanding. While not ruled by his emotions, Tarzan/John can be romantic and endearing while at the same time can be just as fearsome and powerful as the apes who raised him.

     Margot Robbie was wonderful as the beautiful and uncompromising Jane Porter Clayton. Not content with being a Lady, Jane's love of Africa and the native people is as strong as the love she has for her husband. Hardly a damsel in distress, Jane knows how to carry her own, but has complete faith that John will always return to her. 

     Samuel L. Jackson provided a great deal of comic relief to the story. His own character, George, is haunted by the wrongs of his past and hopes that coming to Congo will help right those wrongs. While they don't see eye to eye at first, John and George's trek through the jungle, meeting John's 'adopted family,' and learning about each other, brings two very different men into a strong friendship. 

I love this so, so much!
     While I felt that the script could have been better in some areas (most specifically Jane and some of her dialogue), I found Legend to be fun, energetic, romantic and even comedic all at the same time. I loved John and Jane's relationship and how they were facing the realities of marriage, such as a miscarriage, trying to fit into a society that was completely foreign to the both of them and determining where their future was.

      So often in films you see the beginnings of the love story that lead up to marriage, but rarely do you get to see the marriage itself. Everyone knows how Tarzan and Jane met, so why would you continue to repeat that same storyline? Instead you saw a marriage that wasn't perfect, that was going through some hard times, but there was strength and beauty to be gained from separation and eventual reunion.  

Monday, September 2, 2019

It's So Classic Tag


Olivia at Meanwhile In Rivendell tagged me for this classics blog tag. Thanks Olivia!

My knowledge and history with classic literature is somewhat lacking, though. I've tried to get into reading classics and more often than not, I just give up. That doesn't necessarily mean I don't have favorites!

Rules:

1. Link your post to Rebellious Writing (www.rebelliouswriting.com)
2. Answer the questions
3. Tag at least 5 bloggers.



The Questions:

1. What is one classic that hasn’t been made into a movie yet, but really needs to? 

     -Ishmael by E.D.E.N. Southworth. While it may not be immensely popular, it is a great story that I would definitely consider a classic. Caddie Woodlawn would be another one. There was a made for tv movie that came out in the late 80s and it was good, but I don't think that had ever been a feature length film made.

2. What draws you to classics? 
   
     - The history usually. It's hard to pinpoint what makes a classic a classic. Whether it's the popularity or the general message of the story, but most classics deal with history.

3. What is an underrated classic? 

     - I would probably have to say Ishmael again, but also the narrative of Mary Rowlandson's kidnap and survival in The Sovereignty and Goodness of God: Being a Narrative of the Captivity and Restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson. This is an excellent, but very heartbreaking story.

4. What is one classic that you didn’t expect to love, but ended up loving anyway? 

     - The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne. Hester Pryne was such a heroine in her own right. 

5. What are your most favorite and least favorite classics? 

     - Caddie Woodlawn would be my all time favorite! I think I've read the book...three times. I also love The Wizard of Oz series as well. My least favorite is Frankenstein. I listened to it on audiobook and while it had its good moments, it just dragged. 


6. What is your favorite character from a classic? Or if that is too hard, what is your favorite classic character trope (e.g. strong and silent, quiet sidekick, etc.)?

     - Athos from The Three Musketeers. He was my favorite when I watched the Disney film and was certainly my favorite when I read the book years later. He was flawed inside and out, but he was dutiful to his king and loyal to his friends.  

7. What’s a popular classic that you felt wasn’t actually that great?

     - Probably Frankenstein again. The story had a lot of potential but the constant description of everything got very, very wearing. 

8. Who is your favorite classic author? 

     - C.S. Lewis. I haven't read a great deal of classics from the same authors to really garner an opinion of a favorite. Meaning I haven't read a lot of Jane Austen or F. Scott Fitzgerald to consider them favorites.

9. In your opinion, what makes a classic a classic? 

     - It's staying power and what the story does for the time. If the themes from s story that was written 200 years ago are as relevant now as they were back then, you definitely have a classic.

10. Relating to newer books, what attributes does a book need to have in order to be worthy of the title “classic”?

     - Reality. If you can take words on a page and apply them to your day to day life, if you can understand the characters and see the human side to them the mirrors the world, then that story will be a classic for ages to come. 


Saturday, August 31, 2019

D.C. Trip 2019


     At the beginning of August my sister and I took a 3 day trip to Washington D.C. Even though I've lived only 4 hours away from the capitol my whole life, I've never been there. It was a wonderful trip! I visited Arlington, Smithsonian, including The National Air and Space Museum, The American Art Museum, The Museum of American History--The Library of Congress, the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial, the Jefferson Memorial, The Korean War Memorial, The Vietnam Veterans Memorial and The Holodomor Memorial.



Arlington is so vast that it's impossible to document everything, 
but I did get some great pictures of the Kennedy Memorial.


Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis 

President John F. Kennedy and
 his infant son Patrick Joseph

Arabella Kennedy 
John and Jackie's stillborn daughter

Robert Francis "Bobby" Kennedy

 Edward Moore "Ted/Teddy" Kennedy

Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. 
The oldest Kennedy child who was killed in WWII


 The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

The Smithsonian







The Capitol and The Library of Congress








The WWII Memorial

     Of course what I have here doesn't scratch the surface of my complete documentation of the trip, but most of it was also videos that I'm not able to post. Also, it was good to just put down the camera and enjoy the views.

    When we weren't visiting historical landmarks we were riding the metro station...constantly! We also went out to several interesting restaurants, Old Ebbit Grill which was near the White House and a wonderful dumpling joint in Chinatown. 



     The best and most unexpected of all was meeting my best friend! My friend, Celeste and I met online back in 2007 and for over ten years we have been trying to meet each other! She's originally from Maryland, but moved to Arlington several years ago. Due to our busy schedules, we aren't able to talk as much and so it never dawned on me to tell her that I was coming to D.C. When I started posting pictures and videos of my trip on my Instagram, she was floored that we were coming to D.C. and we were both finally able to meet! It was incredible!


Saturday, August 17, 2019

Sherlock - Season 4


     The fourth and final season of Sherlock wraps up with one very intense theme. Family. When we first meet Sherlock and John, they were both alone. John had no close relatives and Sherlock...was well Sherlock. He didn't get attached to people, showed no sentiment and allowed reason and deduction to take the place of generosity and kindness. Then John appears and he brings together a small family made up of him and Sherlock, Mrs. Hudson, Molly Hooper and Greg Lestrade. 

     Over the course of the series, Sherlock begins to shift in his opinions of the world and the people in it. The fall from St. Barts showed his absolute love for his friends, meeting Mary showed his ability to accept change and he is slowly coming around to accepting his growing celebrity status in London. However, Sherlock has many addictions and demons. And his addiction to 'the game' will become his greatest demon. It's how he controls that demon by still remaining a good man that will alter and ultimately save the lives of the family he has grown to love. 

Episode 1 - The Six Thatchers

     As punishment for the murder of Charles Magnussen, Sherlock was going to be sent out of the country to work on a case in Eastern Europe. However, the most unexpected happens. Moriarty shows up...all over London and Sherlock's Eastern plans are cancelled. As usual, Mycroft and the government are all scrambling as to how Moriarty is still alive and what his plans for Sherlock and John might be. Sherlock takes a slightly more calm approach to the situation and believes the best thing he can do is wait and continue his work. Dead or alive, Sherlock knows Moriarty and his terrorist group better than anyone. 

     Meanwhile, John and Mary welcome the birth of their daughter, Rosamund. Although, hesitant at first, Sherlock becomes attached to his new goddaughter, which only reinforces his love for the growing Watson family and his vow to always protect them. During his waiting game, Lestrade presents Sherlock to the most bizarre case. After a car is hit and explodes, officers find a one week old corpse inside. 


     While interviewing the family, Sherlock comes across something infinitely more strange. The family has a special dedication table to former prime minister Margaret Thatcher. Yet, something is out of the ordinary about this table that is covered with pictures and memorabilia. The family informs him that there was a plaster bust of Thatcher centered on the table, but a robbery had taken place a few days before and the bust was destroyed. Sherlock digs deeper and soon finds out that all over London there are break-ins to private homes. All these homes have one thing in common; the same replica bust of Margaret Thatcher that ends up destroyed.

     This case takes an absolute shocking turn when it points to Mary Watson and her former life as a agent/spy/assassin. Prior to meeting and marrying John, Mary had been part of an elite group of agents that were sent on the most dangerous and deadly missions. After a botched assignment in Serbia, Mary was thought to be the only agent that got out alive. However, one of her former members did survive and blamed Mary for leaving him to be tortured by Serbian terrorists.

    After years of trying to settle down into a normal life, Mary now realizes that her past has caught up with her. Sherlock, is not deterred by any of this and continues to keep his vow to protect the Watsons. Yet, Sherlock should know that the past cannot remain hidden forever; and when lies and secrets are revealed, the truth comes at the most devastating cost.

Episode 2 - The Lying Detective

     Sherlock Holmes has found himself in many dark places, but the death of a loved one sends him literally to the darkest parts of hell. When Mary is killed, John blames Sherlock for breaking his vow to protect them. Cutting off all communication, John wants nothing more to do with his former best friend. Truly heartbroken by this, Sherlock turns to his drug addiction to cope with this triple loss (three including Rosie Watson). Both men are falling at a rapid rate, John in his grief and his refusal to accept Mary's death. Sherlock at his failure as a detective and a friend. 

     While on a drug high, Sherlock gets a visit from Faith Smith a client who claims that her father, wealthy philanthropist, Culverton Smith, has admitted to killing someone. However, her father made this confession to her and a group of friends while they were drugged up on a new medication and she has no idea who this person was. When Sherlock gets somewhat clearheaded he sets out to put Culverton in the news as a serial killer. 


     John reluctantly assists Sherlock in this bizarre investigation that has both men face to face with the menacing Smith. While at a hospital that Culverton funds, he reveals to both men his oftentimes sadistic nature and his love of the dead. Sherlock's still drug addled mind believes that he has caught him in confessing, yet is shocked when he finds out that Faith Smith never went to his flat and told him about the case at all. Furious at Sherlock's insolence, stupidity and lack of self respect, while also holding him responsible for Mary's death, John lets loose on Sherlock. All his pain, rage and fear put onto the one man he thought he could trust.

     Yet, John comes across an unexpected message that was meant for Sherlock. And in this message is a case, possibly Sherlock's hardest case. "Save John Watson. Go to hell Sherlock. Pick a fight with an enemy. Do all of this for John." Sherlock has literally gone to hell and back all for the purpose to save his friend. And for John to be saved, he must save Sherlock from the murderous hands of Culverton Smith. 

Episode 3 - The Final Problem

    There's an East Wind coming....and that wind comes in the form of Eurus Holmes. The thought to be dead sister of Sherlock and Mycroft Holmes. Unknown by almost everybody, including Sherlock himself. For years Sherlock had no knowledge or memory of his sister who left when he was six years old. Mycroft relays to him who Euros was, her extreme intelligence, but also her growing sinister side. When Eurus kills Sherlock's beloved dog and then proceeds to try and kill Sherlock, she is sent away to an asylum. Several years later she set fire to the asylum and was proclaimed dead. Or that that was the story that Mycroft told everyone.

     According to Mycroft after Eurus killed Sherlock's dog, Redbeard, Sherlock went through intense trauma. Slowly he began to forget his sister all together and for some reason, his family never thought it important to remind him of her at all. For years, Eurus has been sheltered on an maximum security island with other lunatics. Kept away from her parents knowledge of her, Mycroft uses Euros' intelligence for government profit in spite of her insane and sadistic nature.


     In The Lying Detective, Eurus has broken free and wants to see Sherlock again. She wants to play a game, test Sherlock's intelligence and his emotional context. When Eurus is found by Mycroft and sent back to the island, Sherlock, John and Mycroft tread the dangerous North Sea to see her. Sherlock meets his sister, who has the capability to be beautiful and even charming. Yet, it doesn't take long for him to witness her ability to manipulate and use people.

     Eurus is controlling the entire asylum and she sends her brothers and John through hellish challenges that will test their deduction skills and their own humanity. To save his friend, Sherlock must uncover foggy memories of a past long forgotten and in the process he saves Eurus as well. Sherlock may have won the game, but he now sees Eurus no longer as the lunatic killer, but as the lonely little sister craving her brother's love and affection. He may not have been able to save Mary, but he will work tirelessly to bring his own family back together.

     And so life moves on for Sherlock and John. They rebuild their former flat, raise John and Mary's daughter, continue to care for Eurus, take refuge and love with their extended family of Mrs. Hudson, Molly and Lestrade and do what they do best. In Mary's final message to them, she deducts them both in absolute Sherlockian perfection:

There is a last refuge for the desperate, the unloved, the persecuted. 

There is a final court of appeal for everyone

When life gets too strange, too impossible, too frightening, there is always one last hope. 

When all else fails there are two men sitting, arguing in a scruffy flat. Like they've always been there and they always will. 

The best and wisest men, I know. 

My Baker Street Boys.

Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson.


Here's my Sherlock Pinterest board!