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The Help by Kathryn Stockett

September 1st, 2011 | Posted by Annette in Books | Movies | Perspectives | Reviews - (0 Comments)

There are few books that I have enjoyed as much as I enjoyed The Help by Kathryn Stock­ett. And, to top it off, the movie was amazing.

The set­ting takes place dur­ing the civil rights move­ment in Jack­son, Mis­sis­sippi. With such a polit­i­cally charged plot, I felt my emo­tions surg­ing and swelling through­out the book. To put it in the words of Min­nie, one of the black maids, “We liv­ing in hell,” just seems to sum it all up. The only thing I didn’t like was the “ter­ri­ble awful” that Min­nie finally explains. I just about gagged in response and still do when I think of it. Even so, clearly a neg­a­tive emo­tion is what the author was going for, and I must say she cer­tainly achieved it! Shudder …

From the first sen­tence, the book trans­ports you to another time and place. One of my favorite seg­ments was when Hilly, the bath­room seg­re­ga­tion ring-leader, tells Skeeter, “There are racists liv­ing in this town,” com­pletely obliv­i­ous to the fact that she is one of them. I love that because I think most peo­ple are blind to their faults. I know I have had my eyes opened once or twice.

Another thing I loved is that the book is full of flawed char­ac­ters that become endear­ing as you get to know them. I love that! In real­ity, peo­ple are flawed. Pre­sent­ing the char­ac­ters in such a way brought so much real­ism to the story.

It is not very often that I feel my socks have been knocked off, but this was one of them. Thank you Kathryn Stock­ett for your won­der­ful work. This is def­i­nitely the kind of novel that I would like to aspire to write. Talk about depth. Wow. Def­i­nitely 5 out of 5!

Thor Rewritten

July 26th, 2011 | Posted by Annette in Perspectives - (0 Comments)

… because I loved the idea too much to leave it the way it was.

I was so excited to finally see Thor, and in many respects, the movie came through. The actors were fab­u­lous, most of the lines were good, but every now and then the plot really dis­ap­pointed me. Wish­ing I could alter the movie and tease it into shape, I’ve writ­ten this out­line of changes. Obvi­ously I’m nobody spec­tac­u­lar. Even so, when I see some­thing with so much poten­tial that doesn’t quite deliver, I just can’t help myself.

Beware, there are spoil­ers ahead. 

Thor — The movie:

The open­ing on earth was intrigu­ing – loved it. Natalie Port­man brought a won­der­ful ele­ment of realism. The open­ing with Thor is also good, except that it goes on for too long. I would have cut or short­ened a few things. But I’m get­ting ahead of myself. There were some won­der­ful ele­ments. One of my favorite scenes is when Thor’s father, Odin, real­izes that Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is not ready to be king. The act­ing is very sub­tle, giv­ing the entire scene a cred­i­bil­ity that some of the other scenes lacked. Even so, I think it would have been bet­ter if Odin had sor­row­fully declined Thor the throne in pub­lic before the inva­sion of the ice giants began. Thor’s humil­i­a­tion would have cre­ated a more legit­i­mate need to to prove him­self wor­thy. It cer­tainly would have made Thor’s attack on the ice giants more rea­son­able, if not more believ­able. We all want a hero to grow, the more the bet­ter. That is not the issue. The prob­lem in the film was that Thor attacked the ice giants with so lit­tle provo­ca­tion. Por­tray­ing Thor in such a way cre­ated an unbe­liev­able expec­ta­tion for change, and yet later in the film, Thor changes prac­ti­cally overnight. One a side note, Anthony Hop­kins’ por­trayal of Odin is really good.

Con­tin­u­ing on, Thor’s ban­ish­ment to earth is just plain fun. I loved it. The tazer Thor refers to as a puny weapon before he is zapped hit the funny bone of the entire the­ater. And the way Thor tries to fight his way out of the hos­pi­tal … good stuff. Bravo, bravo!

When Thor talks to Loki at the ham­mer, we come to the last really good scene. Sor­row­fully, the con­tin­u­ing plot has a few holes, and unfor­tu­nately, they are not minor holes. The entire premise of the movie hinges on the idea that Thor begins as a self­ish, pride­ful being, for which he is ban­ished. His des­tined change is sup­posed to be the heart and soul of the movie, yet it is so rushed that I am still in awe of the mean­ing­less spe­cial effects that took place instead. Don’t get me wrong. I love spe­cial effects, but not at the cost of the plot. Thor’s humil­ity and ulti­mate change occur instantly over the course of a cou­ple days. Bam, he is a new man. It’s so implau­si­ble that I’m still scratch­ing my head. And the scene with the robot … ugh. It’s almost embar­rass­ing. The whole thing begs to be rewritten.

Thor — What I would have changed:

Thor’s new life as a mor­tal could have been juicy ter­ri­tory to explore! His for­eign under­stand­ing, his loss of pow­ers, his need to change, min­gled with his desire to become a bet­ter per­son … Just like the taser scene, the audi­ence could have had such fun. If there was time to spend a half hour on mean­ing­less spe­cial effects, there should have been a lit­tle time for growth. All the mun­dane things that Thor can’t under­stand should have been deliv­ered through Jane. Rela­tion­ships take more than 24 hours to estab­lish. Thor and Jane needed time to fall in love. In the film, Jane seems to fall from him sim­ply because he’s gor­geous. How flimsy is that?

As for Thor’s war­rior friends com­ing to res­cue him, I would have scrubbed the entire idea. Instead, this is what I would have done. While Thor is cre­at­ing a new life on earth and actu­ally find­ing hap­pi­ness in the arms of a mor­tal woman, unbe­knownst to him, the ice giants have invaded his world and con­quered it. (Place all those spe­cial effects here instead of the dumb robot) Loki tries to fol­low through with his orig­i­nal plan, only to have it back­fire in his face. Instead of killing the ice king, he is impris­oned, and kept alive so that he can wit­ness the fruits of his cow­ardice, as does Odin, who is fully aware, despite his coma.

When every­thing seems lost, one of Thor’s friends man­ages to escape the car­nage. Bloody and bruised, barely alive, he secretly spans the bridge and enters the worldly realm of mor­tals, hop­ing to find Thor and bring him back to save them all. Mor­tally wounded, the war­rior makes his way through New Mex­ico only to die in Thor’s arms as he informs him with his last breath of the hor­rific sit­u­a­tion back home. Thor’s fairy­tale life with Jane is sud­denly shat­tered as he real­izes that all is not as Loki had said. His father is yet alive, and the ice giants have taken con­trol of his realm.

Des­per­ate to return home and save his fam­ily, friends, and world, Thor goes to Jane’s lab­o­ra­tory and attempts the impos­si­ble. He needs to build a bridge across the uni­verse with the help of Jane’s team. Unfor­tu­nately, in the process, the gov­ern­ment agents inter­rupt them. Since time is of the essence, and because Thor knows no other way, he fights back cre­at­ing a mass of con­fu­sion. Fire­power is exchanged and Jane is super­fi­cially wounded. See­ing her in dan­ger, Thor puts him­self in harms way, hop­ing to pro­tect her, and is fatally wounded in the process. Gur­gling in blood, they exchange vows of love, and then … Thor is gone. At that moment his father’s words are ful­filled, and the ham­mer is released, return­ing Thor to his immor­tal state. Once Thor puts the agents in their place with­out actu­ally harm­ing any­one, there is a cease­fire. The agents real­ize what they’ve been fight­ing against and relin­quish their claim on Jane and her laboratory.

Thor is faced with the deci­sion that he must return to Asgard if he hopes to save the uni­verse from destruc­tion. Even as Jane begs to come with him, he tells her that it is too dan­ger­ous. Thor will not risk her life again.

Home at last, Thor sees what has become of his world. He con­fronts his impris­oned brother and breaks him free, telling him that any redemp­tion he hoped for is con­tin­gent upon the erad­i­ca­tion of the ice giants. As depicted in the movie, to save his father’s life, Loki kills the ice king as Thor fights with his war­riors. In bat­tle the bridge is dam­aged, and Loki’s true nature is revealed with all his anger and threats intact. See­ing no other way to save the uni­verse, Thor breaks the bridge with his ham­mer, and the two broth­ers end up dan­gling over eter­nity, just as it is rep­re­sented in the movie.

The film:

From here, I would return to the movie script. Loki chooses to let go, the bridge is destroyed, and Thor is unable to return to Jane — a per­fect set up for a sequel.

But I’m just dream­ing, enjoy­ing my over­ac­tive imag­i­na­tion. Funny how real it all becomes up there in my head.