Hidden Figures Review

To prepare my mind for the blur of work, rehearsal, and trying to squeeze in time to write my rough draft that would be this week, I watched Hidden Figures last Saturday. After watching the film, I had to write a review on it.

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Hidden Figures tells the true story of three black women working in NASA in 1961. These women are the famous Katherine Johnson, Mary Jackson, and Dorothy Vaughan, three brillants computers. Katherine was one of the leading mathematicians in the launch on the Friendship 7, which would be the story’s climax. Mary became the first female engineer in NASA, and Dorothy was the first African American supervisor at NASA. The story focuses on their struggles as they try to help their nation reach the stars.

The characters of these three women were incredibly well developed, each one with their own distinguishable personality. One of the greatest developmental parts of the movie was as Katherine worked in the Space Task Group (Spoilers ahead). As the colored women’s bathroom was a half mile away, she would take forty minutes just to go to the bathroom. One rainy day, her boss, Al Harrison, got mad as she was not at her station. When she came back, Harrison started yelling at Katherine, and what did she do?

She snapped!

She started one of the most well written rants I’ve seen in film in a long time, about how she has to go five miles farther than everyone else for every scrap of recognition, and yet she still has to drink from a separate coffee pot and use a bathroom a half mile away. This causes Harrison to throw away the ‘Colored’ coffee pot and allow desegregation of the NASA bathrooms. It was a great scene of character development for both Katherine and Harrison.

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Katherine and her fellow computers are wonderful feminist and racial icons. They have a very real relationship, with jokes and laughter and teasing and all the little things that make up the perfect friendship (I didn’t even mean to make that pun, but I do not regret it). Katherine’s burns on Harrison caused the entire theatre to go “OOOOOHHHHHH!”

The story contains virtually every element of 1960’s America. Soviet Union threats, racial and gender rights, women wearing pants for the first time, space, church, every little detail imaginable. It brought me into the 1960’s in a world where women and African Americans were starting to be able to do more and more, and space seemed closer than ever.

The supporting characters were also gems to watch interact with each other. The main character’s husbands supported their wives while still passing along a few sexist comments common of the era to make realistic, enjoyable men. The same goes for the men of NASA, like John Glenn and Al Harrison. They underestimated the skills and abilities of the main characters, but had quite a few redeeming features. Even Paul Staffords, who arguably could be called the film’s main antagonist, was quite redeeming.

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The climax had me hanging onto every moment. Since I had never heard of the Friendship 7 before the movie, I had no idea the outcome of the launch. I enjoyed the parallel in the beginning of the scene, with the white man running to find Katherine, taking the same path she had to take when the bathrooms were segregated. I was curled into a ball in my seat, hoping the calculations could help save the day.

Each scene was packed with emotion and laughs, weaving together a story for the ages. Hidden Figures has started off the 2017 year of film with a bang from the 60’s, and a movie I’m sure people will not be quick to forget. If you excuse me, I’ll be listening to Runnin’ by Pharrell Williams on repeat as I hurry to and from my responsibilities, internally screaming.

 

Warrior Cats the Movie: Facts, Hopes, and Worries

Before I begin, I apologize for the late post. I was incredibly busy the past week with local musical rehearsals every night after work and working in my own book. On the plus side, I wrote a chapter in three days! *confetti* Anyway, let’s jump into the world of Warriors.

The popular fantasy series Warriors by Erin Hunter (a.k.a, a bunch of wonderful crazy cat ladies) has made a permanent spot in my heart, nestled next to Christian Values and Harry Potter. I’ve grown up with this series, following the adventures of my favorite cats of the clans, and I absolutely adore it. While yes, I am sad to admit I have so far completely skipped Omen of the Stars and Dawn of the Clans (don’t judge me, I didn’t wanna read about Squirrelflight and Leafpool being hated, they’re my favorite characters) I will eventually read them and frequently re-read The Darkest Hour. The world and characters are well developed, the descriptions are very lively, and the action is enchanting.

I took a break from Warriors for a majority of last year, watching animations of my favorite warriors on YouTube, until some of my closest friends got into the series. They too have created their own characters and adore the world to pieces. They caused me to start reading A Vision of Shadows and pulled me back into the world. 

Recently, one of the Erin Hunters, Kate Cary, announced that Alibaba Pictures would be producing a Warriors film at some future date. The company has given it’s talents to help in films such as ‘Star Trek Beyond’ ‘TMNT: Out of the Shadows’ and ‘Mission Impossible- Rogue Nation’. From their current styles, the film seems like it could be animated in the style of the latest ‘Jungle Book’ with CGI. No matter what, when it comes to art and visuals, the film seems to be in good hands. 

The news has sent every fan of the series insane, but also has raised some concerns. Before this announcement, YouTube animator and Warriors fan TennelleFlowers released a discussion video on ‘Why You Shouldn’t Want a Warriors Movie’ on her concerns about the possibility of Warriors becoming a professional film. Please go watch her video and subscribe to her channel, she is a very talented animator, artist, and analyzer. After the news of the potential movie dropped, she released another video on her thoughts. I’ll be taking a few of her plot points, but mostly adding my own thoughts.

While the possiblity of Warriors becoming a film is much closer, it could still never happen. Alibaba Pictures may never go anywhere with this idea. Until more news arrives, I will for now, assume that this company makes the movie.

Warriors, no matter what some may say, is not a children’s story. With cats killing other cats, mulitalions, psychological damage and other intense content, it is an intense series, even with the happy parts. The first two books alone contain around 7-11 different deaths. That is not even counting all the kits Brokenstar may have slaughtered during his rule of Shadowclan. THE DEAD SOULS OF ALL THE VILLIANS LITERALLY CRAWL OUT OF CAT HELL TO KILL THE CLANS AND EVERYONE WE LOVE. 

Like Tennelle said, this makes it almost impossible to find a market for this film. It would have to be animated, but animated films almost always have to be for children if they want to succeed. In order to get as many people to watch it as possible, many parts would have to be cut, the story edited to Percy Jackson levels.

My Warriors obsessed friends have set their sights extremely high for this film. They are already hyped even though the film would not appear for another four years or so. This shows how much children and adults alike love this series and the characters. I would be heart broken to see Firestar or Bluestar’s characters mutilated to points of ruining majority views on this book series.

On the more positive spectrum, popular Warriors analyzer LZRD WZRD also released a video about the movie, entitled ‘Warriors Movie Announced!- Why You Should be Excited’. Again, please check him out, he’s incredibly intelligent. Through the horror that was the 2016 Presidental Election, he was given glorious news about the possible movie. After poking fun at his friend Tennelle, like so many fans have been doing for the past few months, he laid out his hopes for the future movie.

The concern involving time for the movie can be thrown off a cliff with LZRD WARD’s math. Taking the popular SSS Warrior Cats, he was able to make 1 hour and 40 minutes be a possible time frame for an entire, barely deviated Into the Wild movie. He also went over more points, but I’ll let you watch his video.

One of my biggest concerns after seeing the thoughts of two respected fans of the series is the greed and laziness known to many movie studios. They’d rather make a quick buck than an actually good movie. Alibaba Pictures is a relatively unknown movie company in the U.S.A. This makes the quality of the Warriors film completely in the shadows. But of course, like the book says, embrace what you find in the shadows, for only they can finally make our childhood come to life on the big screen. I have absolutely no idea of the quality of writing that the film may or will have, but we’ve handed the puppet strings to them. We can only watch and wait, and pray that Fireheart and Spottedleaf get an actually developed relationship.

So, if and/or when Warriors the Movie hits the big screens, I will be there with ink and quill, ready to see what muliations or improvements the beloved characters have suffered. 

Using Basic Needs in Your Writing

Eating. Sleeping. Drinking. Bathroom breaks. When you’re writing an action paced fantasy adventure, these are things you don’t stop to consider. But what if I told you that they are absolutely essential to a story?

Let’s start simple. Every living creature needs energy, to eat and refuel with food and water. I don’t want to see you try and give me a reason why your human characters never eat a thing: they need food to live. Humans can live without food for about three weeks, so you probably want to keep your happy band of fantasy protagonists well fed.

“But Emmy, they don’t have TIME to eat! They need to get to Lord Ringdemort’s castle before the end of the week!” Well, they can stop to eat. Eating doesn’t have to be a stop in the flow of the story. If you want, you can always mention meal breaks in a short summary sentence as you hop from one scene to another. Maybe as they eat, they get attacked by wolves or something, I don’t know, it’s your story. Even Lord of the Rings had the Hobbits complaining about second breakfast! You can come up with a ton of problems and scenarios as your characters munch on rotten apples.

Next one up on the list, sleeping. Your precious little heroes need their strength if they want to free the innocent people of Camelot, right? Out of all the living necessities, sleeping is the easiest to write about. It could lead to late night sentry duty confessions with a friend as the others sleep, or a midnight raid, even an enjoyable dream sequence. Just give your characters a break.

Bathroom breaks have to be the most looked over part of fiction. You don’t want to interrupt the action with a bathroom break. You don’t even need to suggest it. The reader can guess that for themselves. There are a few things you can do with bathrooms, though.

In the fantasy cat series Warriors, many cats escape from watchful eyes using the excuse of the bathroom (or Dirtplace, as they call it) to go enact more plot points. In the series, the bathroom ruse even enacted the important plot point of poisoning a kitten! You can use the bathroom ruse whenever you need a clever escape for your characters.

The last one isn’t as much a necessity as it is something most action characters encounter. And what is this horrid object that lives inside every character?

Fatigue.

Fatigue is something rarely shown in writing. If you unathletic hero is running from a monster, they’re going to feel like the monster is already eating them. Stitches and pains fill their sides. Their throat and lungs burn like fire. Their legs are so weak, barely able to push them across the ground. So what’s all this stuff about them not being tired? Fatigue adds a sense of reality to your story, because I sure can’t run and jump across a cliff without wanting to die, and your characters shouldn’t either.

So when you write, remember basic living needs your characters must follow. There’s plenty of wiggle room to add them in. Yet how do you add them in without interuppting the flow of the story?

That is for another time.

Hamilton The Musical Review

How does a writer, actor, son of a doc and a consultant, dropped in the middle of the Latino neighborhood of Inwood, born of Puerto Rican descent from his pop, grow up and write a man who was nonstop?

Lin-Manuel Miranda first introduced the idea of Hamilton, a musical about the founding father Alexander Hamilton, at the White House in front of President Barack Obama. What he rapped was the beginnings of the show’s opening song, Alexander Hamilton.

The musical takes us through the life of Alexander Hamilton and his mark on America, from meeting the man who would one day kill him (Aaron Burr, Sir) to finally having his fatal duel with his first friend (The World Was Wide Enough). Hamilton was a poor Caribbean immigrant who came to America to make a difference and fight in the American Revolution. He made friends and enemies, people who loved him and hated him, becoming the first Secretary of Treasury.

The first act talks about the American Revolutionary War, where he meets the Schuyler sisters Angelica, Peggy, and his wife Eliza, along with Aaron Burr, George Washington, John Laurens, Hercules Mulligan, and Lafayette. Act 2 focuses on his political career, fighting with Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, while raising his son Philip (and six other children but we don’t talk about them).

The musical immediately draws you into the life of this determined young man, who was as human as could be. The musical didn’t sugar coat any details about the man, doing a full song about his torrid affair which he then published in the Reynolds Pamphlet (Say No To This, The Reynolds Pamphlet). 

Every character has good and bad traits, some understandable, some not. Even Jefferson, portrayed as an antagonist to Hamilton’s career, has a relatable moral code he does not compromise. Burr, who tells the audience in the very beginning of the musical that he would kill Hamilton, at first seems like you won’t like him. But as you progress through the story, you find that he was a man as well. You actually care for him, as well as everyone else in the cast. 

The lyrics were expertly crafted together, introducing rap to the musical world. In average musicals, characters who sing at the speed of songs such as Guns and Ships would be considered insane. The speed is the heart of the nonstop soldiers of Act 1. The style of music introduces a new world to musical theater. 

Now, don’t go thinking that this is all gloom or all action. It is about 50/50, shifting between politics and personal struggle. While Act 1 is nonstop, filled with love, determined soldiers, and freedom, Act 2 tears out your heart and smashes it to the ground. Especially the end. (SPOILERS) Philip and Hamilton both die, leaving Eliza to tell their stories. 

Some songs that make up the musical dont hold as much weight, used more for information (Schuyler Defeated, The Adams Administration, I Know Him, etc) while others are turning points of emotion, story, and characters that everyone adores (Satified, Wait For It, The Room Where It Happens, etc).

While sadly the tickets are so expensive you can probably never see the show live, we have the soundtrack to give us the entire story. Plus, Lin-Manuel has said he’s going to work on a live action version of Hamilton. 

Sadly, Hamilton the Movie is for another time.