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FaveTiem Pt. 3.

I love fairy tales. Folklore fascinates me, in all variations, but I really love a fairytale down to my ever-loving, feminist heart. With a new version of Snow White hitting theaters on the heels of retellings of Beauty and the Beast (Beastly) and Little Red Riding Hood (Red Riding Hood). Here are some of my favorite reworkings or retellings of fairy tales. I’m not saying they are the best, I’m just saying these are the ones that I go to the most.

There is so much to say about each of them, so I’ll try to keep it brief and to the point. If you have any suggestions, please feel free to pass them along. I love a good read or watch.

In no particular order:

01. Snow White: A Tale of Terror

Starring Sigourney Weaver, Sam Neill, Monica Keena, and Gil Bellows, the movie is filled with a decent cast, it’s just too bad about the writing. The plot is passable, but the details are overworked, and for some reason this appeals to me. Probably because I love the idea of a fairy tale as an attention grabbing story that is over the top. Fairy tales aren’t just for entertainment, but also for teaching lessons and explaining cultural practices as much as an folktale.

Sigourney Weaver as the evil and crazed witch of a step-mother is dark and fun to behold. Monica Keena is very good at little helpless girl coming into her own. Sam Neill is Sam Neill. I’m pretty certain he was happy to have intimate scenes with Sigouney, but in between that and his moments of contemplation, he is quite passable as a doting, but somewhat lost father who is being shut down where he is most vulnerable.

The show-stopper for me, though, is Gil Bellows. The man is talented, and can completely pull of the angst-ridden, pained man who has lost his family in an incredible disheartening way. The tension he creates on his own is magnificent, and works magnificently with the group of men in the woods that are the dwarves of the story.

You’ll laugh as much as you’ll enjoy the dark story and graphic depictions. There are a few squicky moments, but overall worth the time.

2. Moss Gown

I read Moss Gown as a little girl, and have never outgrown love for it. William H. Hooks pulled very much from King Lear when he wrote this story, but I read it as a Cinderella tale. The main character was very sweet, and just trying to be the best she could be. When she leaves her family home and eventually finds her prince, she is still the same woman, only a little wiser, if still not willing to stick up for herself. The illustrations are beautiful, and the story takes place in the American South, which is very near and dear to my heart, even when it’s being stupid.

The story itself is still quite discriminatory as it pulls from the sensibilities of the South, even if it is cleaned up for a more modern consumption.

3. The Mists of Avalon

Retelling the legends of Arthur and his round table, Mists is a feminist version of the legends. It forces a potential view at the misogyny and religious intolerance the stories are built on, even as it weaves a beautiful piece of fiction. The protagonists are the women of the legends so often glanced over as breeding pieces or evil spectres. These are characters with conflicts and cares as varied and deep as their male counterpoints.

Marion Zimmer Bradley’s long novel was actually turned into a made for television miniseries starring Anjelica Huston and Julianna Margulies. Due to the nature of a miniseries, even as it is a better format than a movie, it still cannot capture the detail and depth of story telling that the novel can.

4. Snow, Glass, Apples (alternatively, you can read the story for free here.)

Neil Gaiman is already a bit of an awesome possum in my head, but you add in his penchant for working a story fresh, and you’ve got one hell of a retelling. Snow, Glass, Apples is actually a short story included in several different anthologies and publications, and it asks the question ‘what if Snow White weren’t the victim?’ The above link is to Gaiman’s book of short stories Smoke and Mirrors on Amazon.com.

The dark of the story, as well as the uneasiness, twists in your gut long after you’ve read the story. The concept of the step mother as a sympathetic character is unsettling, as even when you are supposed to identify with a villain-turned-not villain, they are not usually good people. There is a reason that they are read as evil to the general populace.

5. Fables

Fables is a comic book series that takes fairy tales from all over, though mostly Europe, and weaves them into a modern story. The legends have their back stories similar to the way we know them, but they are all from a land that has been invaded by an occupying force bent on domination. The characters have escape into our world, and have been living amongst us for some time, just trying to survive and keep their culture intact, if adapted to this modern, mundane world.

The story lines are intriguing, giving the audience glimpses into how these characters are real people. The artistry in the panels is beautiful. The covers are pieces that I would love to display in my home. All in all, I can seriously say that this is one retelling I love wholly from start to finish.

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FaveTiem Pt. 2.

One of the most underused instruments in music to me is the organ. Specifically rock music, but most music in general could be improved with a little organ. There is especially something about the electric organ twisting around an electric guitar that just gets to me.

Here’s my top five songs that incorporate the electric organ beautifully:

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FaveTiem Pt. 1.

Movies!

I love movies!

I love action and adventure and comedy and drama and music and plot and animation and suspense and everything else.

Like everyone, I do have a few favorites that I always turn to when I need a little something-something. They all are very different and do something different for me. So in no particular order, I’m going to let you know about my favorite five movies.

1. Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971)

Willy Wonka, not Charlie. Not that Charlie wasn’t great, but Willy Wonka has Gene Wilder and awesome songs and the Wonkatania scene, which to this day remains one of my favorite LSDish scenes ever. “Not a speck of light is showing, so the danger must be growing!” If you have any inclination to the offbeat and you have not yet seen Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, there is something wrong with you.

I’ve often felt bad because Roald Dahl, the writer of the book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, did not like how Willy Wonka turned out. He felt that it focussed too much on Wonka, and not enough on Charlie, and that it was too related to selling the then fledgling Willy Wonka Candy Factory. But I just love this movie so much, more than I even love the book. Gene Wilder is one of my favorite actors, and I love the interpretation of Willy Wonka as a slightly twisted, yet benevolent candy man.

2. Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)

Tim Curry in drag and six inch heels. Susan Sarandon stripped down to her undies. Meatloaf on a motorcycle. These are all things that go into the making of a delicious movie that has British humor and killer rock soundtrack. At it’s core, Rocky Horror is a scifi movie with a queer bent, if you’ll forgive the pun. Further than that, Rocky Horror pushed the envelope and asked the audience to acknowledge what in their lives they might have been denying themselves, and whether it was worth it, even as it suggested that lives of excess are just as damaging.

And as I said before, the music is truly awesome, so you should check it out.

3. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986)

Matthew Broderick is classic as the slacker with a heart for adventure and a plan for the best day ever. To be honest, I’m not a Ferris. I’m more of a Cameron, the best friend who gets drug out against his will, and though he enjoys it, never will it be his idea to do the crazy thing like that. (Personally, I think Cameron is the heart of the movie, but I’m pretty biased.)

Ferris is the epitome of 80s teen films. I love the epicness of the day, and how everything worked out. Sometimes, we need to keep the best scenario possible in our minds, and damn the negative.

4. Die Hard and sequels (1988-2007)

Yes, I’m counting the sequels and the original as one movie. It is the story of one man, and is frankly one of the best movie series ever for the continuity of the story they tell. Bruce Willis plays John McClane, NYPD cop, with aplomb and realism. McClane is not the pure hero, nor is he the anti-hero. He’s just that guy that does what he has to. Sometimes, he does that with unabashed happiness at the fact that he is destroying the bad guy that threatened what he loves.

All four of the movies are filled with moment of suspense and tension, aiming at keeping the audience worked up and understanding what McClane goes through. When he steps in glass, we know how stupidly painful that is. When his wife or daughter is threatened, we fear as well. When he has obviously turned to alcohol to deal with the stress and pain of his life, we know that urge.

But in the end, he is triumphant, and even if he doesn’t deal with the situation in an entirely pc way, I always root for him. Besides, he has the best catch phrase.

5. The Producers (1968)

Gene Wilder and Zero Mostel. The original Producers has the best cast and numbers ever. Better than the remake and better than the stage show. Yes, I believe that. No, there is no way to sway me. Yes, you can try. No, I won’t change my mind.

Mostel didn’t want to do the role at first, I would assume because he had already done A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum, which was another comedy where his role was a manipulator pulled into his own con. But his wife convinced him to do it, and I can’t help but feel extremely grateful to her for that. I don’t think that anyone else could have played that role with the same depth and breadth. In fact, Nathan Lane’s attempt in the remake feels like a pale remind of Mostel’s performance (and I love Lane).

And again, Gene Wilder. The man is comic genius. This movie proves his ability to be everything Matthew Perry has been trying to be for the last twenty years in film.


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