Pete Docter may be my favorite of the Pixar directors. He helmed some of my favorite of the studio’s stable: Monsters, Inc., Up, and Inside Out. Watching Monsters, Inc., I am reminded how much worldbuilding it requires, right from the jump. I would argue that it remains one of Pixar’s most imaginative movies to date. It does not take place in our world – let alone a bedroom or sunny backyard – but rather delves into a parallel dimension, populated by wildly outlandish characters. The characters dip into our world frequently, but the landscape virtually encompasses the entire globe. That is an immense undertaking, and a huge risk. That said, Pixar’s success with its first three films laid the groundwork for them being able to present something so “out-there,” and, thus, continue with even more radical ideas in the future. After all, Pixar was launched on a wild, unprecedented venture, so it’s not exactly surprising.
What was surprising, however – apart from the dynamic worldbuilding and physical comedy (we’ll come back to that) – was the depth of the movie’s theme. Of course, at four films into the studio’s collection, depicting deep themes was clearly their M.O., weaving these subjects delicately so it reaches audiences emotionally, regardless of age, but not coming off as preachy. And, like with A Bug’s Life, the message struck me a lot harder and a lot more powerfully as an adult. As Sully summarizes during the film’s conclusion:
“…laughter is ten times more powerful than screams…”
* contains spoilers *
Even though A Bug’s Life is the second movie in the Pixar filmography, this is my first post for “Watch-It Wednesdays,” my weekly movie night with friends. Going into this film, I remembered it fondly. I never did see it in cinemas, even though I had loved the trailer (still do, this one too).
However, I was put off by public reception and by my own rather less than fond reaction to Dreamworks’ ANTZ. I will try not to compare the two films in this review as they really aren’t anything alike (aside from featuring insect characters) and they offer radically different viewing experiences. To this day, though, I prefer A Bug’s Life.
According to the Disney Wiki: “The film is loosely inspired by the fable ‘The Ant and the Grasshopper’ and the classic film The Seven Samurai, it is the second Pixar movie and tells the story of an outcast inventor ant named Flik, who recruits a group of circus bugs he mistakes for warriors when his colony is threatened by a group of grasshoppers.”
Back in 1998, I remember a general consensus of disappointment with this film as a follow-up to Pixar’s first feature, but I find that, the further away we get from initial release, the better A Bug’s Life holds up.
For the past several years, a highlight of my week is what my friends and I call “Watch-It Wednesdays.” The name has changed a few times (i.e. “Marathon Mondays”) but the idea has stayed the same; myself and a group of friends gather together to watch a movie (or a couple episodes of a television series). Considering how busy our lives get, this weekly staple provides a chance to stay connected with friends and partake in some good old-fashioned fun. Call it an exercise in self-care. This also has brought some remarkable new titles into my life; most recently, the anime film, your name. Though I’m super late to that bandwagon, I’ll probably have to write a post about that pretty soon. It was well worth the hype!
In any event, I’m going to start blogging about the films we watch each week. We’ve gone through quite a few themes and collections (Doctor Who, Veronica Mars, Avatar: The Last Airbender, Firefly…) but now we’re beginning the journey through the films of Pixar Animation Studios, moving chronologically. So, last week we began with Toy Story and this week we watched A Bug’s Life. In both cases, it’s remarkable how well the story, characters, and animation hold up…and I shall elaborate in the separate reviews to come.
First up: A Bug’s Life!
It has been over three months since MAG Fest, but I can finally share something from that event; I was spontaneously interviewed for a podcast! Cris Alvarez, host of CrisAlvarez.com, recognized my cosplay, having taken my photo at a previous convention. He asked if he could interview for me for his website; ask me about my writing process and about the novel.
Listen to the interview here or click through the photo.
I was planning on going to Awesome Con 2018, anyway, but this year is set to be even more exceptional. Star Wipe Films is headlining the Horror, Action, Sci-Fi Block with our short film, Apocalypse Rock!
But what is Apocalypse Rock about?
Tom Harper runs a radio station. By himself. At the end of the world. Surviving alone in an emergency radio station, he broadcasts rock and roll fueled show every day, hoping that someone out there might hear him.
This will be the first trip to Awesome Con to others on the Star Wipe team, so I’m stoked to be our guide. Showcasing Apocalypse Rock at this convention will definitely ‘level up’ the experience.
Apocalypse Rock will screen on Friday, March 30th, in the block starting at 5pm-6:30pm in Rm 101 – Screening Room. If you’re in the Washington DC area, come and see the film – and the Star Wipe Films team!
It has been a LONG time since I posted in my blog, but since I’ve been publishing my novel, Resistance Rising, I’m hoping you’ll forgive me! As a way to ring in the new year, as well as embrace a new phase of my life, I decided to make a MAJOR change by way of a haircut; parting with 12 inches of my hair, which I am delighted to donate. For years, I thought I was unable, since I dye my hair, but the salon I’ve been going to use non-synthetic dye and no bleach, so I am able to donate after all!
2017 was as much a whirlwind for me as it was for everyone else; I was a bridesmaid, I celebrated my one-year anniversary with DUO Media Productions (coming up on two years this month!), I pushed my cosplay limitations, and I’ve gotten a crash course into becoming my own, personal book-marketing team.
The process of publishing the book was an extremely enlightening process and pulled my priorities into sharp focus. I am giddy with pride over the finished product, but I also had to learn to let a lot of things go. One of my colleagues (over at DUO Media Productions) likes to say, “you’re never done, you just run out of time.”
I’ve had long, nearly-waist-length hair my entire life, so this was a significant metamorphosis. I’m adapting to this new hairdo far more quickly than I expected, and I find that it is, indeed, very reflective of who I am now.
Don’t you love it when everything falls into place?
In addition to publishing Resistance Rising, I’m approaching my two-year anniversary with DUO Media Productions and Star Wipe Films and I wanted to showcase some of the great work we’ve been producing, and of which I get to contribute. It really is a blast to work with such a fantastic team.
Work included (in order of appearance):
- Sophia – 72 Hour Film Fest Film (Star Wipe Films)
- Choices – a short film
- “After the Fact” : 2015 Gala Video for the Jewish Foundation for Group Homes
- Game of CAD, Promo for SOLIDWORKS World – Winner of Gold TIVA Peer Award
- DUO Pop: Montgomery Parks – Behind the scenes of DUO Media Productions
- World Benzodiazepine Awareness Day Promo
- Genre Wars: Resistance Rising – web series
- DUO Pop: TIVA Peer Awards – Testimonial from DUO Media’s team
- MCS Pro: Success Stories
- Montgomery Parks, It’s All Here! Commercial Series
- Dance For Change: UHS Dance Company
- SOLIDWORKS Promotional Series
- Sally Pacholok – Independent Feature Film
- SOLIDWORKS Draftsight Training Videos
- Enemy of the Reich: The Noor Inayat Khan Story – Independent Feature Film
- Collective Church Promo
- The Great American Wheat Harvest – Documentary Feature Film
- School Of Creative And Performing Arts (SOCAPA) Virtual Tour
- SOCAPA Actor Reel: “French Kiss”
- The Stranger – Independent Short Film
More on DUO Media Productions and Star Wipe Films
I am far from a Shakespeare aficionado, and I’ve never been an especially big fan of poetry, but I’ve always been captivated by the Bard’s stories. I enjoy the scholarly challenge of reading Shakespeare’s plays, but I really love seeing them performed live. As such, one of the most enjoyable experiences I’ve had was the privilege of going to see Shakespeare Live with H.L. Shepler when it screened in theatres over the summer. It was absolutely marvelous. It’s screening tonight on PBS and I am so excited to see it again!
If you have even a slight interest or curiosity in the Bard, don’t miss Shakespeare Live.
Great performances, indeed. Not to mention hosted by two of my favorite people, David Tennant and Catherine Tate.
If you can’t watch it when it airs, you can watch episodes of PBS programs at pbs.org/video.
Update the first on my Inkshares crowdfunding adventure!
Genre Wars production still; Mobsters v. Fantasarians. 2013.
More chapters will be posted on the Resistance Rising project page soon, but, in the meantime, I wanted to share a special update. Last week, I sat down with writer and book reviewer Barbara Brutt to shed some further insight on the novel: what it’s all really about (plot, characters, themes) and what makes it special, why I’ve chosen to crowd-fund through Inkshares and the evolution of the Genre Wars story from online filmmaking contest to indie web series and, now, to novel.
Embodiments of genres all living in one space as co-existing cultures ignited my imagination. Yet, that concept wasn’t the narrative. The story is how the characters deal with losing their world structure and facing reawakened cultural tensions.
Read the full interview here.
I’m also happy to present an audiobook sample of the book’s Prologue, narrated by Benjamin Cairns:
If you’re still on the fence about this book, then I hope that this interview will help convince to make that pre-order! If you’ve already pre-ordered, you can still help by leaving a review.
The Genre Wars team at the Maryland Renaissance Festival, 2014.
***Photos taken by Jenna M. Miller Photography.