Monday, July 6, 2015

Spectacular Movie Speeches

Ahhh, The Fourth of July. One of my favorite holidays, just chalk full of wonderful traditions: food, fireworks, and best of all, watching a little human/alien interaction going down in the creme de la creme of July 4th movies, Independence Day! It's a tradition I've upheld since 1996, and one I'll continue to uphold until my dying days. 

You've just gotta love that dialogue. "Welcome to Earth" (or if you prefer the phonetic version, "Welcome to Earf"). Pretty much all of Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum's interchanges. And of course, the famous presidential speech. Every time I watch Bill Pullman give that presidential address to the pilots facing down the invading alien forces, I have to fight the urge to stand up and salute. It's no small feat. 

Which makes me wonder . . . what are some other great movie speeches? I thought long and hard about this, and after some serious debate I think I've narrowed it down to my top ten favorites. Here's the movies that made my list.

Top Ten Spectacular Movie Speeches:

#10 - Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End
I know my cousin absolutely hates this scene from the third Pirates of the Caribbean movie, but I always liked it. A band of pirates, coming together to face down an angry pagan god and the British Navy. A female Pirate King leading them. And an epic raising of the pirate flags in a united front proclaiming freedom. All ingredients for cinematic excellence.
Favorite line: "Gentlemen . . . hoist the colors."

#9 - V for Vendetta
I cannot say that I love the film adaptation of V for Vendetta; in fact, I think it's a gross raping of the source text, stripping it of it's original context and repackaged it for American audiences. However, the speech that V broadcasts to London does stick out in my mind as wonderfully inspirational. A voice breaking the silence, asking for others to stand with him. To no longer remain silent and turn a blind eye to the injustice of the government in return for an oppressive "peace".  It may not be my favorite film, but I cannot help but love V's speech nonetheless. 
Favorite line: "But again, truth be told, if you're looking for the guilty you need only look into a mirror."

#8 - Goonies 
In deference to my childhood, I have to make room for the great Sean Astin speech from Goonies. With one puff of his inhaler and a few well delivered lines, he rallies his troops and remind us all that even children can make a difference. That every child deserves their moment to be a hero. Sniffle.  
Favorite line: "Goonies never say die."

#7 - 300 
I have often wondered what the casting call was like for this movie. I have a sneaking suspicion that it was spearheaded by a group of women who rounded up the prospective actors and asked them to remove their shirts. And let me just say . . . effective. Now, eye candy aside, this movie offers one of the more impressive film speeches I've seen. A legion of Spartans on the eve of great battle, facing superior numbers and, ultimately, their death. Offering their lives in the name of freedom. A scene worthy of this list, would you not agree? 
Favorite line: "No retreat, no surrender."
[I also particularly love the line later delivered by Michael Fassbender: "Our arrows will blot out the sun." "Then we will fight in the shade." Delicious.]

#6 - Dead Poets Society
It still hurts to know that Robin Williams is gone. But he lives on in so many great films, not the least of which is a movie that reminds us seize the day. To live life to it's very fullest. And to make every day extraordinary. And Captain, my Captain, you will never be forgotten. 
Favorite line: "Thoreau said most men lead lives of quiet desperation. Don't be resigned to that. Break out!"

#5 - Remember the Titans
A great movie, with many powerful speeches. But none more so than the Gettysburg speech given by Denzel Washington. A speech asking for everyone to put aside their hatred and come together as one unit. A speech worth hearing once again in light of all the racial violence in today's news. 
Favorite line #1: "Fifty thousand men died right here on this field. Fighting the same fight that we're still fighting amongst ourselves today." 
Favorite line #2: "Take a lesson from the dead. If we don't come together right here in this hallowed ground, we too will be destroyed."

#4 - Lord of the Rings: Return of the King
If I were surrounded by an army of Sauron's forces and facing down death itself, I'd be tempted to crumble with fear. I'd be on the first train or horse or giant flying bird outta there. That is until Viggo Mortensen rode by in a vision of armor clad splendor, reigniting the courage of men and inspiring a last, if possibly doomed, stand in the name of fellowship. Man that guy gives good speech. 
Favorite line: "But it is not this day!"

#3 - Gladiator
Still one of the greatest battle films of all time, I never get tired of watching Russell Crowe take on hordes of angry foe. But by far the best scene in the film is his spectacular speech delivered on the knife's edge of obliteration, rallying the gladiatorial forces into a deadly unit reminiscent of the Roman legion he once commanded. Is it any surprise that this made #3 on my list? 
Favorite line: "Whatever comes out of these gates, we've got a better chance of survival if we work together. Do you understand? If we stay together we survive." 

#2 - Braveheart
Well, Mel Gibson may have become something of a controversial figure in the film world, but no one can deny that he played an excellent William Wallace. And his speech . . . well, it goes down as perhaps the best film speech in cinematic history. It reminds us that some things are worth dying for. And to this day, every time I heart that speech, it makes me want to run out to buy a kilt, slater some blue pain on my face, and head to Scotland. 
Favorite line: "They may take our lives, but they may never take our freedom!"

#1 - Independence Day
As I mentioned before, this speech was the inspiration for my blog post. It is therefore fitting that it should make my list of Top 5. It's the speech that turns an American holiday into a celebration of a world united, joined together in their fight to survive extinction. Annihilation.
Favorite line: "We can't be consumed by our petty difference anymore. We will be united in our common interests." 

And there you have it. My list of the Top 10 spectacular movie speeches. I'm sure there are plenty who might argue against my choices, but hey, that's what the comment section is for. So what about you guys? Any favorite movie speeches? 

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Insecure Writer's Support Group

It's the first Wednesday of the month and time for another Insecure Writer's Support Group post. A huge thank you to Ninja Captain Alex J. Cavanaugh for starting this group, and all this month's co-hosts for all their hard work. If you're an insecure writer or just looking to support those of us that are, check us out here!

My concern for the month centers around writing with a partner. I tend to be a solitary writer, territorial of my work and locked away for hours on end (preferably in the middle of the night) while I write. But for the first time I'm thinking or working on a new piece with another writer. And for the life of my I'm not sure how this is supposed to work. Do I write a chapter and they write a chapter, and review each other's pages? Do we write them together? How does this go? 

Are there any of you out there who've done the co-writing thing before? How did you go about starting? Did you like it better or worse than solo-ing it? Any tips, tricks, or pieces of advice? I am all ears.  

Good luck to all you other insecure writers out there, and as always, happy blogging!

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Sway by Melanie Stanford Cover Reveal

Today is a special day. Melanie Stanford from Daydream to Writer is revealing the cover of her soon-to-be-published novel, Sway. A retelling of my favorite Jane Austen novel (and the inspiration for my blog title), Sway will be released this coming winter via Samhain Publishing. Check out the cover and book blurb:

Ava Elliot never thought she’d become a couch surfer. But with a freshly minted—and worthless—degree from Julliard, and her dad squandering the family fortune, what choice does she have?

Living with her old high school friends, though, has its own drawbacks. Especially when her ex-fiancĂ© Eric Wentworth drops back into her life. Eight years ago, she was too young, too scared of being poor, and too scared of her dad’s disapproval. Dumping him was a big mistake.

In the most ironic of role reversals, Eric is rolling in musical success, and Ava’s starting at the bottom to build her career. Worse, every song Eric sings is an arrow aimed straight for her regrets.

One encounter, one song too many, and Ava can’t go on like this. It’s time to tell Eric the truth, and make a choice. Finally let go of the past, or risk her heart for a second chance with her first love. If he can forgive her…and she can forgive herself.

Melanie Stanford reads too much, plays music too loud, is sometimes dancing, and always daydreaming. She would also like her very own TARDIS, but only to travel to the past. She lives outside Calgary, Alberta, Canada with her husband, four kids, and ridiculous amounts of snow.

Congrats to Melanie on her big news! The cover looks fantastic and I can't wait to read all about Ava and Eric this coming winter. 

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Insecure Writer's Support Group

It's the first Wednesday of the month and time for another Insecure Writer's Support Group post. A huge shout out to Ninja Captain Alex J. Cavanaugh and co-hosts of the month for all their hard work! If you're an insecure writer or looking to support those of us who are, check us out here

My insecurities for the month are simple. I'm moving. I'm so excited to be fleeing my tiny apartment and setting up camp in a wonderful house with my husband just in time for my baby to make a big debut, but it's hard work getting things all set up. It takes away from other important activities like writing and, you know, my sanity. 

On the other hand, I get an office. A real life, all to myself office. No squeezing my desk in a corner behind a couch or in a dark area of my already overcrowded bedroom. For the first time in my life I get to set up a space JUST for writing. And that makes all the chaos of moving totally worth it. 

So I guess maybe my monthly insecurities can -- for once -- be considered less substantial than my celebrations. Yay for June!

What about you guys? Any insecurities weighing you down this month? 

Friday, May 29, 2015

Tomorrowland's Borrowed Plot

My friends and I went to see Tomorrowland the other night, and while I'll admit my expectations were fairly low to begin with, I found it better than anticipated. Not a movie I'd run back to a second time, but certainly a decent Wednesday night break.  

However, something became startlingly clear as the movie progressed; every aspect of the plot I found interesting was essentially borrowed from preexisting stories. 


I'll begin with the most obvious -- the futuristic world of Tomorrowland. A place where thinkers, inventors, and dreamers are free to immerse themselves in creativity without restriction or hinderance. Sound familiar to anyone else? For anyone intimate with the work of writer/philosopher Ayn Rand, it will definitely ring some bells. Tomorrowland is reminiscent of Atlas Shrugged's Galt's Gulch, a safe haven for the great minds of the world away from the oppressive majority. And apparently I'm not alone in making this connection. Brad Bird, the movie's director, has been cited numerous times for his objectivist tendencies (links to a few of these articles here and here). Still, borrowed or not, you can't discount that it made for some interesting visuals. 

Moving on from some decidedly Rand-ian concepts, I'd next like to point out the film's technological device that shows the future. Afraid of the doomsday images he sees there, Tomorrowland's Governor David Nix broadcasts these images to the people on Earth, hoping to frighten them into enacting change. Instead it acts as a self-fulfilling prophecy and world rushes toward it's own destruction. Again, you might recognize this plot device from other stories, most notably Philip K. Dick's "Paycheck" and it's 2003 movie adaptation. It's your basic "seeing the future creates that future" concept, and far from original. 

Last but not least, the Audio-Animatronic robot, Athena. A scout in search of new Tomorrowland recruits, she befriends a younger Frank Miller (aka. George Clooney) and forms complicated feelings toward him which she attributes to a glitch in her empathy matrix. Okay, now come on. That's just a Disneyfied repackaging of the "I know now why you cry" scene from Terminator 2: Judgement Day. And no one can tell me any different. 

Like I said in the beginning of this post, it wasn't a terrible movie. I just couldn't help but feel that 90% of it came from other stories. But hey if you're going to commandeer concepts from other books and movies, at least Brad Bird chose some of the greats, right? 

Monday, May 18, 2015

Blood, Boobs and Carnage Blogfest

Alex J. Cavanaugh and Heather Gardner are hosting a blogfest today, yay! And it's possibly the best title I've ever heard of . . . the Blood, Boobs and Carnage Blogfest. So if you haven't already signed up to participate, just click here and share your favorite movie, TV show and/or book that falls into the blood, boobs and carnage category.

Call me crazy, but some of my all time favorite books, shows and movies fit perfectly into this genre. It's going to be a challenge for me to pick just one of each, but I think I've narrowed it down to the best of the best.

Starting with one of the best shows on TV, Strike Back. A co-collaboration between the British Sky1 channel and America's Cinemax, it's an action-packed series following Section 20 agent Michael Stonebridge and ex-Delta force member Damian Scott as they hunt down the world's most dangerous terrorists. Between the many bombings, gunfights, and hand-to-hand combat scenes, the show does not lack for blood and carnage. And I doubt there's a single episode where you don't see Damian Scott (aka. actor Sullivan Stapelton) and his many conquests going at it in various states of undress. In fact, we see Stapleton's ass so many times I read he banned his mother from watching the show. If you haven't seen it, I recommend you get started NOW. You will not be disappointed.

For my movie entrant, I had a terribly hard time whittling my list down. I mean, just about any vampire movie would have worked (Underworld 2 immediately springs to mind), and of course there's the very blood and boob-a-licious Sucker Punch, Catwoman, Species . . . the list goes on and on. But in the end I decided to go with movies based on the work of Frank Miller, most notably Sin City and The 300. Lots of carnage and sex appeal in those films!

And last but not least, books. I thought long and hard about which book to post about, and briefly considered mentioning the Game of Thrones series. But since just about everyone has at least heard of them (and I suspect many of you will mention them during today's blogfest), I decided to go for something a little different. Instead I want to feature a book I fell in love with when I was probably much too young to read it, Anne Rice's The Witching Hour. Most people are familiar with her Vampire Chronicles, but I think her witch series is actually much more interesting. It chronicles the lives of the Mayfairs, a family of witches with a dark past, a penchant for incest, and a spirit with malevolent intent haunting their bloodline. This series definitely gets checks in the blood, boobs and carnage categories!

And there you have it, my favorite examples of blood, boobs and carnage. I can't wait to check out what books, movies and TV shows everyone else picks for today's fantastic blogfest! 

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Teleportation and Gibson's Vision of a Beige World

I've travelled a lot this year and, unfortunately, I've got several more weekends of planes and car rides ahead of me until I hit my third trimester and mercifully get a doctor-approved break. And as much as I love traveling, I have to admit I find all this back and forth fairly exhausting. To those of you out there who travel weekly for work, God bless you. I can't imagine trying to keep up this pace on a regular basis.

As I sat down to book yet another series of flights and hotel rooms, I couldn't but but speculate how much simpler life would be if I only possessed a teleportation device.

Think about it. It would eliminate the need for airports and road trips (at least road trips that are not of the recreational sort). No more pulling out your laptops and liquids for TSA inspection, or holding it until you drive past a decently clean and/or safe looking bathroom. You could zip across the country in the blink of an eye. You could save hundreds and hundreds of your hard earned dollars by eliminating the need for hotels. Who needs a reservation at the Marriott when you can hop to Paris for the afternoon and be back home before bedtime? Not to mention the effect it would have on long distance relationships and the job market. No need to move to a city that caters to you chosen profession. Live in Chicago but dating someone in San Francisco? No problem! With a handy teleportation device, all your geographic troubles disappear. 

Ideal, right?

But as I fantasize about the benefits of teleportation, I can't help but think about William Gibson's Neuromancer. He wrote of a completely homogenized world, one where countries bleed together and cities around the world are practically indistinguishable. And I can't help but wonder if the lines between cities and countries become moot, would the world's most recognizable and treasured cities all meld together? Would we wind up with a beige world, stripped of what made different places around the globe unique?

Imagine stepping out of a teleportation device and not being able to recognize if you're in Bangkok or London. Of taking a trip to Tokyo and thinking how similar it is to Milwaukee. The very thought of it makes me think a little more favorably of planes with screaming babies, endless miles crammed in a car, too-firm hotel beds and even the dreaded TSA. 

What about you? Have you ever wondered what life would be like with teleportation?