Saturday, March 23, 2013

Movie Review: Oz, The Great and Powerful

Somewhere over the rainbow, way up high, there's a land that I heard of once in a lullaby.

When I was a little girl, I was obsessed with The Wizard of Oz. I wanted to go to Oz, skip along the yellow brick road, meet the Scarecrow who would be my best friend, and my dog, Toto, would help us defeat the Wicked Witch and uncover what a fraud the Wizard was (No, really. I have a stuffed dog named Toto that I got from some nuns when I was two at a production of Cinderella Still have him. He's the best part of my childhood).

Last week, we went deeper into the Ozian History books to uncover how the Wizard, a traveling showman from Kansas, got to Oz and how the Wicked Witch of the West became so Wicked and Green.

While performing his flim flam act in a small Kansas town, Oz (James Franco) cheats his partner, Frank (Zach Braff, so nice to see him again! Thought we'd lost him after Scrubs was cancelled!), out of money, womanizes at least two different women, and let's his childhood sweetheart, Annie (wearing a blue gingham dress), accept the proposal of farmer, John Gale (Blue gingham, last name Gale. Ring any bells?), so he can go on to do great things with his life. While running away from the boyfriend of one of his conquests, he jumps in a hot air balloon and escapes...right into the path of a tornado. We know the rest of the story. The tornado, much like Dorothy in the Original Wizard of Oz stories, Oz is wisked to the land of Oz (how many times can I say Oz in this review?), where he lands in a pond and meets Theodora the Good Witch (Mila Kunis), who tells him of the prophecy of their former ruler, that a great Wizard would come and rescue the Ozians from the Wicked Witch. From there, we meet Theodora's older sister, Evanora (Rachel Weisz), who was delightfully unhinged and a little twitchy in her role. Evanora sends Oz on a hunt for the witch, and to destroy her wand, which is the source of her power. Along the way, he takes his flying monkey, Finley (also Braff), who he'd saved from a lion on his way to the Emerald City, and they meet the little China girl (Joey King), who'd lost her entire China family when the Wicked Witch attacked. With the help of Glinda the Good (Michelle Williams, who also played the part of Annie, Oz's childhood sweetheart), the group defeats the real Wicked Witches (let's be real. We ALL know who they were!), and Oz stayed where he was, despite not having the Hogwarts-like powers of a real Wizard.

I was floored by how beautiful the production was. They paid homage to the 1939 Wizard of Oz, while also making sure to create a new world thanks to all the technologies created since then. We got to see exactly why and how the Ozians believed Oz was the Wizard they were waiting for, and Oz got to be the great man he wanted to be (Anyone who's seen the original knows where they end up). He used the tips and tricks that he'd used to fool hundreds of carnival goers for years to fool a race of people who had no idea what fireworks or projections were. It was fantastic to see how great Oz's imagination could be.

My favorite character was Finley. I love Zach braff anyway. He's loveable and adorkable, and he's not afraid to be silly. What's sillier than a monkey? Especially a flying monkey in a bellman suit. He acted as Oz's true conscience, telling him when he was being a selfish tool, and doing his part to help Oz become the great man he wanted to be.

It was interesting to see the family dynamic between Theodora and Evanora. I like watching sister relationships because I have a sister, myself, and I like to see how we differ or compare. I think everyone always knew that Evanora (Or, the future Wicked Witch of the East) was the more evil, because Glinda said so in the original. Evanora was manipulative and had Theodora wrapped around her finger. I think Theodora wanted to be just like her sister, or wanted to believe she was good, and was easily manipulated by her. Thankfully, this relationship is nothing like my relationship with my older sister.

I'm game for anything Wizard of Oz. When I got older, I truly appreciated what a messed up, yet wonderful movie Return to Oz was, I adored Wicked, the musical, and Tin Man from Syfy a few years ago. I will admit that I didn't care for Wicked: Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West, as it was much darker than any of the films I'd seen. I will admit that I haven't read the books, but I do think that Sam Raimi and his entire team did a fantastic job and I honestly think L. Frank Baum would have been proud to watch it. It was beautiful, fun to watch (in 3D, even), even if I did think a few things (which will remain a mystery) a little trite and copied from other fairy tales. However, I guage a movie on my overall experience, rather than break it down into little bitty pieces. I left the theatre with that giddy feeling, like when you find something you loved as a child, and experience it again. It was fantastic for that reason, alone. It was old and familiar, yet new and exciting. The perfect warm fuzzy.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Facebook Friends Forever

Say what you will about Facebook, but without it, I think it would be a lot harder to keep in contact with some of my nearest and dearest. My girlfriends from college, we're so busy that it's hard to keep up with each other's day to day, and letter writing was a thing of the past even before Facebook and email took over the internet. Kaity's a busy mom, Amanda's a newlywed, Jess is a college student again, Lauren's starting a new job, Christina works about five thousand jobs (you know it's true, Chica. LOL). We are all crazy busy!
Also, without Facebook, or my old blogger stomping grounds, LiveJournal, I never would have "met" my friend, Shannon, who provided me with the perfect encouraging Bible verse to take with me to work today.

Shannon and I have never met in person. Our mutual friend is Kaity, who studied Creative Writing with me at Stephens College, and grew up with Shannon. After making comments in agreement on Kaity's LiveJournal (and taking it over, too. Whoops!), we started following each other's blogs, and friended each other on Facebook when that came around, circa 2005.


After the disaster that was yesterday, this morning, I posted a message on my personal FB page, requesting encouraging verses and words from my friends. So many posted so many and they helped me remember God's goodness and His plan. The one that hit the Epiphany button, however, was Luke 1:45.


To provide a little context, this verse comes when Mary has recently learned of her impending pregnancy, and has gone to visit her cousin, Elizabeth, an older woman who'd recently become pregnant with her first child who would become John the Baptist. Yesterday, on my way home, I was literally crying out to God, praying for an answer. This is my validation that God keeps His promises. I've always believed in my future plans. Always. Even in the hard times, I've always held onto this belief that I would be successful with my life.

Work has been hard on the Martin crew, and this verse is for my sis, too. Job hunting. She's got her Master's Degree and is looking for a Human Resources job. She's awesome, if anyone out there is hiring!

How has this verse never crossed my path before? I am utterly shocked at how perfect it is. Makes me feel so much better about my prospects. On top of that, my first interview came out today. Check it out! A little more blog and book traffic would be fantastic, but just remembering that it's a journey and a process has helped me decompress and take a break. Today was better. Hopefully tomorrow will be awesome. And this weekend?

Final thank you to all my friends who contributed to my verse directory today. It was appreciated more than you will know. And Shannon, thank you for introducing me to Luke 1:45. We really need to meet someday!

  • I never really jumped on the bandwagon of getting to know strangers over the internet. Have you?
  • My friends, Jess and Sara bonded over one of my Facebook statuses regarding "Bones." They've never met.
  • Anyone else have a similar story?

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

How Much Jane Austen Means To Me

I had a crappy day. Of the Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day persuasion. I was fine when I woke up, but when I was halfway to work, I got extremely tired. I knew that today was going to be bad.

Work was bad. Not gonna go into detail, but I honestly think my time there is coming to a close. I'm looking for something else, but I'm not going to hold out hope. It was just draining in so many miserable ways. I came home, crying, started crying again when I talked to my mom, and started crying again when I saw kind messages from my facebook friends on my status. I have some great friends and family. And you guys are right. This will pass. This isn't forever. I will take comfort in the friends I have at work (whom I love and adore), and remind myself that it's not the be-all end-all of my career.

When I got home and had time to myself, I watched a couple episodes of Rules of Engagement before switching gears to watch Emma. I am in love with this movie, despite it having Gwyneth Paltrow. It's just done so well. I also made lemon bars for work tomorrow (yes, I still like them well enough to give them sugar), and while it was baking, I wanted something sweet for me. I found a box of instant chocolate pudding in the cabinet for when I wanted to make my dad's birthday cake (I got instant when I should've gotten cooked), so I stirred that together. It was a chocolate and chick flicks kind of night.

Arizona Theatre Company

One reason I treasure this story so much (Though, I don't love it as much as Pride and Prejudice) is because when I decided to go to Stephens College, I figured, "It's a women's college. I'm bound to study Jane Austen sometime!"


I think my Literature teachers got sick of my begging to study Jane Austen, so for my Women Writers: Novels class, we got to study Emma. I learned so much about the story, and was so thankful she'd let me do the projects on it. She even liked my final paper on it more than any other. It stems from a passionate love of love stories. I've always been kind of romantic, even more so when I see characters who are really good for each other end up together. Everyone learns something (at least the redeemable characters) in Jane Austen stories. Lizzie and Darcy learned that they judged people too harshly, Emma and Knightley learned that she should control people's lives less, and Knightley learned that the little girl he'd grown up with was now a young lady, and despite trying to direct her life, he realized she could make her own decisions. Marianne learned to control herself and her emotions, Col. Brandon learned to be patient (though, he was 38. God knows he was patient!). You get the idea. People always learn in Jane Austen books.

I can quote this movie. I absolutely love it. Jane Austen always makes me feel a lot better, thankfully.

Original Film Poster