Come and see my other new blog!

Hey all, in order to reach out and explore topics outside the movie world I decided to start another blog, johnsiebelinkwrites.wordpress.com. I plan on working on both of them with the same amount of effort, except that this will be the place where all my movie talk will go. 

So please come check me out, follow me, like me, or whatever else bloggers do. Hopefully I can write something that will interest you.

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Robin Williams and Hook

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As everybody (probably) already knows, the legendary actor Robin Williams passed away the other day. It was a sad day for comedy fans and motion picture buffs worldwide, but even more of a sad occasion for Mr. Williams’s family.

So from John Siebelink to the family of Robin Williams, I am sorry for your loss. Robin was one of my favorite actors of all time.

I find it really disrespectful that the news and other outlets are spending so much of their time dwelling on Mr. Williams’s depression and apparent suicide. I’m very sure that that is the last thing he or his family wanted him to be remembered for. I refuse to be one of those people who upset the Williams family and friends by wasting time blogging about it.

Instead, seeing as how this is a film blog, I thought I would celebrate Robin and his life’s work by talking about one of my all-time favorite movies and one that had a significant influence on both my reading and movie-watching to this very day.

I’m talking, of course, of Robin’s 1991 adventure film Hook. Not only is this one of the first movies I remember seeing as a kid, but it’s also probably the first fantasy movie I recall seeing. I remember going to different book stores with my mom after watching that movie and buying a few different editions of Peter Pan.

Robin does a superb job in this film, portraying a grown-up Peter Pan who has no memory of his magical, high-flying childhood while keeping his neglectful and immature personality. However, when his children are whisked from their beds by the vengeful Captain Hook, the out-of-shape, bitter Peter must confront his entire forgotten past in order to rescue them.

While Peter Banning (Peter Pan’s adopted parents’ name) is shown to neglect his parental duties several times throughout the beginning of the movie, he also has a few demonstrations where he is in control. This pattern of caring/not caring continues throughout the entire movie, and Robin does a great job switching personalities on a whim. The one thing I still cannot figure out is how he managed to forget every single detail of his life in Neverland while other former denizens (Tootles and Wendy Darling) remember everything clear as crystal. Something must have happened that greatly changed him, because not even his arch nemesis Captain Hook (Dustin Hoffman) recognizes him at first.

Despite this initial change, whatever it might have been, Robin has no trouble transforming back into Peter Pan–complete with all of his memories–when the time is right. He goes from being a grumpy old man to having a child-like vigor in seconds, and it becomes hard tell Banning from Pan (and that they’re played by the same actor.) 

Such was Robin Williams’s talent. He had the ability to portray any kind of character, whether it be goofy or serious or somewhere in between and still be able to get a few laughs out of moviegoers no matter what. It is a quality you do not see much of in actors and actresses nowadays, and it takes a special kind of artist to pull it off.

Robin Williams was one of those artists, painting masterpieces of comedy with every role he mastered, It would be hard–if not impossible–to find a bad Robin Williams movie. He was just that good.

 

Farewell, Robin Williams. I look forward to the day I can be treated to some of your new releases in the movie theater in the sky.

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Long time no see!

Hello again, everybody!

I’m not one to make up excuses, but I’m sorry I haven’t been on in a while.

I’m back, though, and I’ve decided that plain old movie reviews aren’t appealing to everybody. I still plan on reviewing movies and everything I talked about doing before, but I want to try to expand my boundaries to include trivia and other tidbits of cinematic knowledge.

Thank you for being patient with me, and I promise not to make a habit of disappearing for months at a time.

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Check out my Amazing Stories posts!

On New Year’s Eve this year I found out that Steve Davidson, the current owner and publisher of Amazing Stories, was looking for bloggers. Amazing Stories was founded in the early 20s and is the very first science fiction magazine.

At one time it was at the top of the science fiction short fiction market–then it all but vanished.

Fortunately for us writers and fans, Steve bought it and assembled a staff of writers, artists, computer geeks and bloggers to get the magazine up and running. I saw a notice on Amazing’s website (amazingstoriesmag.com) and eventually was allowed to join them. My current schedule, as of July 2014, is to write a post for every other Monday.

At the moment, Amazing Stories is a free, fan-based website dedicated to having coverage on just about every aspect of science fiction/fantasy/horror every single day. While it was not my intent, I’ve found that the majority of my small collection of posts for AS so far have all been about films. This pattern was what inspired me to create this blog, which could not exist today if it weren’t for Amazing Stories.

Besides saying thank you to Steve Davidson and the rest of the Amazing Stories team, I thought I’d share my latest Amazing Stories post for you guys and let you see the marvelous job the editors and web team do with the site. I also encourage you to check it out yourself, “like” it and help us restore the very first science fiction magazine to its former glory. Even if you are not that into SF/F/H you should still check it out, even if you just consider it “just another blog.”

So, here is today’s CinemaMan217 offering!

http://amazingstoriesmag.com/2014/07/hopes-ben-affleck-dcs-next-batman/

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Maintenance Today

Today I am going to be working on building the site and learning how to use WordPress better.

Therefore, I will not be covering any movies today. Sorry!

But if you will let me make it up to you, shoot me a comment and tell me the name of a movie you would like to see me write about. I WILL cover it.

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Quick note to my readers

Today is my fourth continuous day of blogging! Four days in and I already have three followers. Yay!

For those of you visiting for the first time, I apologize that the blog isn’t anything fancy. I’m still trying to figure out how to design a cool blog and how to manage media and stuff. When that happens, or when I find a better theme or a web designer who’d be willing to help me make this site look fantastic I will spruce things up. But right now my main focus is watching movies and blogging about them while making sure I don’t fall back into lazy habits.

Thank you for reading this blog, and I look forward to writing more about movies every single day.

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Apollo 13

 

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I’m not sure how old I was at the time, but I remember a time when I was a kid and had refused to watch Apollo 13 with the rest of my family for the first time. The living room was not very far away from my bedroom, so I could still hear pretty much everything that was being said. I was playing with some toys when the movie started when two words made me drop the toys and join the rest of the family in front of the TV. I had heard the narrator in the first scene mention the name “Roger Chaffee.” My mind immediately thought of the street a couple of blocks away called Roger B. Chaffee (its full name is Roger B. Chaffee Memorial Blvd.) Being young at the time, I only knew that Roger B. Chaffee was an astronaut. In the first few seconds of Apollo 13 I found out that he had been killed in a spacecraft accident. I kept my eyes glued to the screen for the rest of the movie, hoping to find out more about the astronaut from Grand Rapids.

 

Of course, Apollo 13 is not the story of Roger B. Chaffee, but that brief prologue served as my innocent introduction to the story of Jim Lovell’s fateful trip into space. Tom Hanks, Bill Paxton and Kevin Bacon play the ship’s three crew members: Lovell, Fred Haise, and Jack Swigert. Gary Sinise plays fellow astronaut Ken Mattingly, Ed Harris plays flight director Gene Krantz and Chris Ellis portrays the Mercury Seven legend Deke Slayton. Under the direction of Ron Howard, this all-star ensemble captures of gripping story of the Apollo 13 flight from three angles: the astronauts in space trying to stay alive, the confines of Mission Control, where Krantz and his team struggle to tackle all the obstacles that keep popping up, and Lovell’s and Haise’s families as they huddle together in prayer and suspense. Ultimately, NASA is able to bring the astronauts home safely and Gene Krantz came through on his promise to not lose any Americans in space on his watch.

 

As in any film based on real-life events, dramatic license is taken at certain parts of the film in order to make it have the effect that Howard intended, but there are also several instances that I think the producers went too far with. For example, there is one brief scene that shows Lovell’s wife Marilyn taking a shower and having her wedding ring slip off and disappear down the drain. This scene lasts only a few seconds and is never mentioned, verbally of physically, again in the film. In actuality, the real Marilyn Lovell was able to quickly retrieve the ring after it got caught in the drain. There was really no reason for that scene to have been included in the film at all.

 

NCIS’s Joe Spano appears in the film as a fictional, unnamed “NASA Administrator” and Xander Berkeley another fictional character named “Henry,” who apparently is a member of NASA’s public affairs office. With so many real-life counterparts that could have been portrayed in the film, I wonder why the decision was made to create totally new characters instead of pulling from the real world. The book Lost Moon, which served as the basis for the film, has so many names and positions mentioned that could easily have filled in these roles. It might just be mere fan rambling on my part, but if the film is based on reality then they should have pulled those positions from reality.

 

The only other dramatic departure that I am uncomfortable with in the movie is the way the film and certain characters look at Kevin Bacon’s Swigert character. The movie treats him as an untested rookie that might or might not have been up to the task of being the command module pilot. For instance, the film has a scene where Lovell, Haise, and the rest of mission control are worried that Swigert would not be able to dock with the lunar module. In real-life, Swigert had trained extensively as part of the back-up crew for such a maneuver, and even if he had not been able to dock for whatever reason then Lovell or Haise could have easily done it themselves. The real Jim Lovell did not seem to mind this little sub-plot, but I think that it is a sad dent in the memory of Jack Swigert, who had passed away long before the movie went into production.

 

What is also interesting to note is that the majority of Ron Howard’s family appeared at some point or another during the film. His brother had a key role as Sy, one of the mission controllers. His mother played Lovell’s excited and impatient mother, Blanche. His father briefly appears in a couple of scenes as a priest in the Lovell’s living room, and his two daughters cameo in the background of one scene. I am by no means criticizing these casting choices. I mean, when you are the director you can put just about anybody you want into your film. In this case, they all did their part and played their roles as good if not better than any other actors or actresses. It is just one of those interesting bits of movie trivia that you might not have found out about unless somebody told you.

 

Overall, I really enjoyed this film both as a movie-lover and as space race aficionado. Apollo 13 brilliantly tells a story from three points of view and connects the viewpoints with expert efficiency. Nobody ever has to worry about forgetting the near-tragic voyage of Apollo 13 thanks to Ron Howard and his excellent cast and crew.

 

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