Here, There and Everywhere

Posts tagged ‘movie’

A Birthday Like No Other

A BIG birthday at the ROP
Posted on June 25, 2012 by Sean
From ROP Stories

Every June 16th Africa celebrates the International Day of the African Child, a day for people within the continent celebrate and honor children of all ages, backgrounds and cultures. Last year we were honored when the government ask us to host their celebration at the ROP Center.

This year, however, we wanted the day to be all about our children, and we wanted to do something extra special for them. You see, most of our boys don’t know the day they were born. In fact, many don’t even know with certainty which year they were born. Because of this we decided that we wanted to make June 16th the birthday for every child at the Center and start by celebrating it this year. Now we just needed to scrape together some money for the event. We tapped local businesses for donations but unfortunately none of them came through for us. But just a couple of weeks before (when panic was beginning to set in) our fantastic donor Line from Norway, and her organization Metamorfose, came through for our boys once again. She told us that she would pay for catering for all the boys and staff to enjoy as well as paying for the Kwetu Film Institute to bring us a GIANT movie screen to watch films on in the evening. Obviously we were thrilled now that it was all coming together. We didn’t tell the boys anything about a party. We only told them the day before that we were having some visitors coming the next day so they needed to be prepared.

Saturday arrived and Jenny and I arrived at the Center in the morning with crates of drinks. The boys started asking what was going on, but all the staff were tight-lipped. We gathered everyone in the dining hall and let them just sit and wait for several minutes before Elizabeth and Alex, two of our staff, came rushing in with buckets of water and began splashing all the boys (a Rwandan birthday tradition). They all took off running, wondering what the heck was going on.

Now that the boys knew something was up it was time to tell them the true reason we gathered them all together. Jenny and I reminded the boys about the Day of the African Child and informed them that it was now the official birthday of all the boys in the Center. We told them there would be dancing, singing, food and plenty of fun, all capped off with some films on a very big screen outside. As you can imagine they were all very excited.

So as the day went on we had dancing competitions, some boys read poems and sang songs they had written. We shared food, gave out all sorts of goodies like marbles and sweets, and waited for the sun to go down. When it was dark we showed two films; first a version of Cinderella that was in Kinyarwanda, their native language, followed by Africa United, a hugely popular kids movie about four struggling children trying to make their way from Rwanda to South Africa for the 2010 World Cup. We ended the night with some Charlie Chaplin films, which are easy to understand and universally funny for anyone of any age and culture.

When it finally got dark Jenny broke out one last surprise for the boys. She had collected dozens of glow in the dark bracelets and had been saving them for an important occasion. This was the perfect time, but before we handed them out I had to show them how they worked and explain to them that they weren’t allowed to break them open or put them in their mouths. When I cracked the first one and it became luminous a wave of “wowwww” came from the group. They couldn’t wait to get their hands on them and were fascinated with this new novelty.

Finally it was finally time to show the films. Some boys sat on benches and chairs while the small boys laid out on the freshly cut grass.

Read entire story and see more photos at ROP Stories.

The Hunger Games Review

Guest article by our son Shona.

Movie Review: The Hunger Games
The McFlurry
25 March, 2012
by Shona Blumeneau

Most people try to compare The Hunger Games to the Twilight films. In my mind, this just cannot be done. One features a strong female lead who sacrifices herself for her sister and district, eventually overcoming all obstacles and defies the oppressive government that controls her life, while the other follows a girl who is torn between a sparkly vampire and a werewolf who lost his shirt. Now it’s time for me to stop writing about a trashy tween movie, and write about a cinematic masterpiece, otherwise known as The Hunger Games.

Do you remember the midnight premier of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part Two? I sure do. All the anticipation and excitement, with crazy people dressed as wizards and normal people waving wands at each other…dressed as wizards. That same energy has now been transfused into The Hunger Games, or the “Harry Potter Rebound” as I like to call it. But why this film? Why not, say, Adam Sandler’s Jack and Jill? This film has gained such a following because of a girl: Katniss Everdeen. Audiences have finally been given a character that they respect, admire, and thoroughly enjoy rooting for throughout the entirety of the film. Unlike Bella (I’m sorry for all the Twilight comparisons, but it just has to be done), the protagonist is a strong, independent girl not searching for love or anyone to protect her. Her courage is repeatedly shown time and time again without fault, and it is her family that she cares for first and foremost, not a boy.

Perhaps what keeps this movie from being another failed book adaptation is the fact that Susan Collins, author of the Hunger Games trilogy, helped write the screenplay and was one of the producers of the film. This, paired with Gary Ross’ (Seabiscuit, Pleasantville, and Big) excellent directing, makes for a stellar film. Collins and Ross clearly understood what elements of the book needed to be cut out to transform the story into a feature length movie, and they did so without at all ruining the overall story or characters.

Ah, the smooth segway into the characters. For me, every single one of the actors portrayed their characters exactly as I had imagined them in the books. Jennifer Lawrence gives us a spectacular performance, securing her spot as the lead. Given that the book is written in the first person, Lawrence was forced to somehow show her thoughts time and time again without saying a word. You cannot only see it in her face, but you can feel Katniss’ emotions as she struggles through dilemma after dilemma, evaluating thoughts and emotions alike. Woody Harrleson’s portrayal of the drunken mentor Haymitch was not as intoxicated and blundering as I had pictured, but Donald Sutherland’s eerie performance left me satisfied and very creeped out, just as Katniss feels when first meeting the tyrannical President Snow.

Snow is the cause of violence in the story, and the movie does a good job of showing how brutal the games are while maintaining a PG-13 rating. Yes, it’s a movie about teenagers fighting to the death while others watch and bet on them, but this shouldn’t be anything new to people. Things like this have happened numerous times throughout history, and for people to criticize Collins for depicting it graphically is absurd.

Overall, other than a couple of things near the end, I was very happy with this film. It stayed true to the book, the characters were well rounded and I could easily connect with them. The filmmakers chose wisely when cutting material and kept the movie going at a solid pace.

Who will love this movie?
1) A liberal who believes the movie is about the 1% (the capital) vs the 99% (everyone in the districts).
2) A conservative who believes the movie shows the atrocities and downfalls of a government who controls everything.
3) Anyone who just likes a movie starring a hot babe with a bow and arrow (sorry Emma Watson, Jennifer has you beat in bad-assery this time around).

Story and more photos at: The McFlurry

Jackie Chan in Rwanda

Excerpt from ROP Stories. A blog for the Rwandan Orphan’s Project.

Chan-tastic
Posted on April 26, 2011 by Jenny Clover
(This post was originally posted in Jenny’s Blog, A Fish Called Rwanda)

Yesterday Sean and I watched in amazement at the reaction that the two magic words “Jackie Chan” evoked in the smaller boys at the orphanage. Some jumped up and down, eyes tightly closed in ecstasy; some punched the air; all whooped; one looked like he might wet himself with happiness.

We now have a projector at the Centre and when dad visited he brought over some DVDs for the boys. I’m not sure why, but every male under the age of about 20 that I’ve met in Rwanda goes absolutely crackers for Jackie Chan. They don’t seem to have heard of any Hollywood stars, but they all know old JC and they adore him. It must be the non-stop action and silliness, and the lack of much real dialogue that’s so engrossing for them. So yesterday, we decided to show Jackie Chan’s First Strike in the dining room.

READ ON

Le Ly Hayslip

Excerpt from Don’t Just Sit There, Do Something! Grief’s Wake Up Call. Conversations with Gabriel Constans.

LE LY HAYSLIP

As a child she knew only war. She was threatened with execution and raped by the Viet Cong; imprisoned and tortured by the South Vietnamese; starved near death; forced into the black market to survive; and lived with the grief of losing brothers, father, cousins, neighbors, friends and relatives to the violence that ripped her country apart for decades. Le Ly lived through hell on earth and chose to heal the wounds, work for peace, and with the help of her ancestors, rebuild the land that gave her birth.

Le Ly was the first voice in the West to speak about Vietnam from the eyes of the Vietnamese. Her book, When Heaven and Earth Changed Places gave the people of Vietnam a human face. The adapted movie by Oliver Stone increased awareness of what the war had done to individuals and families in Vietnam and was the beginning of an outpouring of humanitarian work for reconciliation and rebuilding between the two countries. In 1989 Le Ly began The East Meets West Foundation which started programs for displaced children; primary health care for over 150,000 patients; Mother’s Love Clinic, with over 1,000 babies delivered; construction of eight schools in remote districts; built over thirty-eight homes and income-generating projects for families; thirty renovated or new built wells; scholarships for educating children and orphans and; a loan program that’s provided for over one hundred and eighty five needy families.

LE LY: The East West Foundation started in 1987, with one hundred dollars, after I saw the poor people in Vietnam. I could not turn my back and walk away from what I saw. If I did not see it at all it would be different, but after you have been there you see and you feel touched. You can’t lie to yourself and say, “I am not going to do anything.” “Doing something” is not just talking but rolling up your sleeves and working.

When I came back from Vietnam in 1986 I lost my sense of having everything. I just had it with the living style. I owned a restaurant, I had a couple of houses rented out, three children . . . but I got really burned out, so I started to let go. I sold the restaurant and houses and moved into a small home.

I’m not working for anyone, just doing the thing I really wanted to do, to write and tell the story. While I’m doing that everything is coming back to me. The more I’m writing the story the more I’m saying to myself, “How could I not help? I was there, I was one of them!” I am lucky enough to get out and then I went back and they are still there, with things worse then it had been. That is when I really committed myself to do what I can. At that time I didn’t know if the book was going to work but if it did well I committed to myself to have all that money go back to where it is coming from. Without the war in Vietnam, without my life crises, I can’t tell the story, right?

So I make that my commitment and I not only sell the house and sell the restaurant and put the time into working on the book, but I work seven days a week and twenty-four hours on the foundation, then eventually my income from my bank to the foundation account so it can do its work. I know who I am. I know what I stand for and I know the principle of what I’m doing.

I recently returned to Vietnam and stayed for almost four months. I saw all the old villages that were leveled by Americans, including my own. I saw the foundation of the house, temple and my school and around it the bamboo and banana trees. The foundation is what they lost. The tree is still growing. The bamboo and the banana tree has sprouted again. The soul of the ancestors is all that remains of foundation and the bomb crater next to the graveyard. I walked through that ghost town with my cousin and he pointed out to me, “Do you remember? Remember who lived here? Remember Uncle so and so lived there? Remember Auntie’s house? Remember the big tree here we use to play on?” You know I’m looking around I feel ghosts. I feel chill in my bones. I’ve been back to Vietnam thirty-six times but never saw these places until then.

I dealt with the refugees from those villages. I helped them with what I can, but after a time I said, “Leave it there.” I went back and saw that they are refugees because they moved lower land people to higher desert land. This land happened to be in my village. They can’t grow anything there. It is sand beach. They cannot survive there. The last thirty years they cannot call it home. They can’t move back because there is land mines and even if there weren’t they having nothing to build with. They fought so hard against the French to save the house, the temple and the ancestor worship places.

That is when I feel my pain. For many years I feel the pain. When I wrote the book I feel the pain of what the war had done to these people. When I work with them and help them, I feel the pain of the poor, the needy, the suffering they have gone through. Now it is a different pain, a different loss. We have fire here in U.S. every now and then. People describe their pain, people feel their losses, and people act or describe the hurt. Vietnamese lost not only one or two houses to fire, we lost the whole village! The places we lived for thousands of years!

Heaven and Earth was the first voice that ever came from the Vietnamese side. Americans wrote about what they did, felt or believed in, but not about Vietnamese. I wanted to describe from Vietnamese experience, how we get from here to there – to be prostitute, refugee, Viet Cong or whatever. I was a young kid, what did I know. So that is the book as a first voice, then the movie and then it was a big impact. It did not do as well as we hoped it would, probably because it was about Vietnam, was from the “other side” and a woman’s story.

I keep going with much help. I’m never alone. I cannot live without spirits. That means knowing that whatever I do, whatever breath I take, whatever words I say . . . they know about it. The spirits have no boundaries. They are like wind. I communicate with my ancestors very clearly. It’s as real as when I talk to you. I have no problem with that. Wherever I live, or work I have to have them with me. Whether you believe it or not is up to you.

They do not control things. I cannot ask you to protect me if I walk out the door and I know somebody is going to kill me. I can’t ask you to protect me because you don’t have any army with you, you don’t have any power. But if I make a call to police they can help me. It is the same with the spirits. I cannot ask my brother or my father to help me when they are just like us, but I can ask my great, great ancestor who was a king, who was an emperor, to protect me. There are good and evil just like there is here, so it depends on how good I do on this plane. If I do all the good work, the high scale side will protect me. You can call it angels or whatever. My thought has to be clear. It has to be peaceful and it has to be clean for them to guide me.

Everybody has choices. The choice they make will help with their energy if they make the right choice. Right now I’m writing about the villages that I visit and all the ghost stories I have been told by the people I’ve been talking to. I feel moved. I feel hurt. I feel pain. At the same time, I feel good because I speak for them. I speak for those who are voiceless. That is helping me and that is when I knew that they are with me. I have to “keep the channel open” and that is what it’s all about, to really keep the flow going through. If I was a hateful person with much anger and condemned the whole world, there also is an entity like that. There are two forces, Yin and Yang. If you have negative flow you have negative flow. It’s like the banking system. If you have positive flow, everything goes smoothly.

People with black, yellow, red, brown, or white skin all have our ancestors. Our ancestors come in all forms. You can call it God, you can call it angel, you can call it whatever. They are there. But we have to take a look at our life here to understand there.

In his death my father taught me how to live. He knew that if he kept living it would draw me back to the village. And with the note they found in his hand we discovered he was going to be killed anyway. One way or another he would die. But the question was where . . . how long? He died so I could be free and wouldn’t go back to the village, so I could go on with my life. But if I am not intuitive enough I may not find the way on the path he provided. I have to walk it carefully.

Every one of us makes that choice. It depends on what we make out of it. Living with the ancestors I have no problems. Living with the real world I have the problems. I know the rules. I know what law I need to obey, spiritual law. That is all I need to know. From Uncle Sam to Uncle Ho, there are many obligations. It is hard. But nothing is impossible.

Many people write about their life, their hatred and their anger. All that does is make some people feel like them so they can put on the uniform, the gun and fight. They start it all over again. That is what I would call negative energy. Every time you think of doing something, energy goes out like a chain link fence, it hooks together. That energy multiplies, bigger and bigger. The other world also has a negative energy that hooks into your negative energy and makes a person down here do things which are harmful. It’s like when you turn on a radio in your house or car and you are looking for these waves. When you tap in with that station they have their own frequency. That is what comes to you the listener, whatever you choose. I would rather tune in to the positive. I like the light that is in me and that energy out there is the same light.

MORE STORIES OF TRANSFORMATION

I Am by Tom Shadyac

Went and saw I Am, a documentary by Tom Shadyac, with a friend yesterday. Very important, insightful and challenging film. The theater was packed when we got there, as the film is becoming more well known. The movie and director were both featured on Oprah last week.

In some respects, I Am is similar to What the Bleep Do We Know?. It takes different scientific studies and scientists, to explain how connected all life on the planet is (not just theoretically, but actually). He also interviews various philosophers, spiritual leaders and thinkers to get their views on “What is wrong with the world and what can we do to make it better?”

I Am is different from What the…, because it is much more personal, well photographed and edited (he had more money to do so) and it also looks closely at the cancer of consumption and wanting “more” as symptoms of the human race which may be our demise, if we do not wake up and take another path.

Mr. Shadyac doesn’t preach, but shares the insights he had after accumulating a great deal of wealth (from making movies like Ace Ventura, Bruce Almighty, Patch Adams, etc.), having an accident and re-evaluating his life purpose. He also explores how other biological systems interact, cooperate and communicate. Most people leave this movie with a good feeling and a desire to do good.

The following words from the films website provides an accurate summary.

“Shadyac’s enthusiasm and optimism are contagious. Whether conducting an interview with an intellectual giant, or offering himself as a flawed character in the narrative of the film, Shadyac is an engaging and persuasive guide as we experience the remarkable journey that is I AM. With great wit, warmth, curiosity, and masterful storytelling skills, he reveals what science now tells us is one of the principal truths of the universe, a message that is as simple as it is significant: We are all connected – connected to each other and to everything around us.”

From Flicker to Film

First things first and that first was a flicker of an idea given by a friend in Sweden.

Next came the research, to find out everything I could about Siddhartha, Yasodhara and their families. That took about 2 years.

Then the writing began. Another year moseyed on bye.

Editing was the next step, which took approximately 6 months more.

Searching for and contacting a publisher that would look at the manuscript took about 2 years, plus another to find one that accepted the story for publication.

The novel, Buddha’s Wife, is finally published in August of 2009.

Before and upon publication, the continuous process of networking and publicizing the book in magazines, newspapers, journals, online, radio, speaking engagements and at bookstores continues.

The idea of having the book made into a film comes into fruition about the same time it is published and I start to contact producers to see who might be interested. Getting contact information for well known producers/actors takes a few months.

After contacting many about making the book into a film and sending the book to over 20 producers (or their agents) and screenwriters, we (Sacred World Productions and myself) find a few that “might” be interested, but who want to see the screenplay first.

Then, the search for a screenwriter begins in earnest about this time last year. 6 months ago, a brilliant screenwriter accepts the challenge on spec, to adapt the book into a contemporary story that takes place in North America.

As of today, we are expecting to see the first draft of the screenplay and treatment at any time.

Once we have the screenplay, we will be approaching several actors and directors to get them attached to the project.

Once we have some well known folks who have agreed to be in the film, we go back to the producers that previously expressed interest, as well as approach some new ones and try to get financing for the film. Getting financing could be another year or two and once it is in place, it will be another 1-2 years before actual filming, editing and production are complete. Then a distributor will have to be found.

After those few easy steps are all complete. Whoa-la! The film version of the novel Buddha’s Wife will be available for everyone to see. It will then be nominated in various categories for several award shows, including The Academy and become a box office bonanza.

Let’s see… if I add this all up, the total time from original conception to completion is ….. a measly 12 to 13 years!

The journey began in isolation and will end up with multiple collaborations and interdependent creative activities. The human and environmental variables that have, can and will effect the process, are countless.

This is definitely a process for marathoners and not sprinters. And as far as instant “fame” or “success”… well…. what can I say?

Only Two Potter’s To Go!

Harry Potter! Harry Potter! Harry Potter!”

In case you’ve been living on Mars and just returned to earth, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1, is about to be launched on November 19th. The film, adapted from the last book in the series by J. K. Rowling, is about Harry and his friends Ron and Hermione searching for Lord Voldemort’s Horcruxes, which are the secret to his possible immortality..

What’s so great about this film and the previous movies, is that not only are kids of all ages and both genders, scarcely able to restrain their excitement, but adults, myself included, can also barely contain our ecstasy.

Having my wife read each of Rowling’s seven books out loud to our youngest son was always magical. It just so happens that our son’s chronological age almost matches the students at Hogwarts year after year. He is now almost 18, just like the characters in the book and films and has read some of the books 2 or 3 times.

Our first reaction to hearing about any of the books being displayed on the silver screen was “Oh no! They’ll ruin it! How could the reality of a movie ever compare to the ones the author has created in our minds?” Everyone who has read the stories had there own idea of how each character sounded and acted. How could anyone give justice to Harry Potter? How could anyone match a million different personal images and visions?

After the initial shock wore off, we began to realize that the movies could be enjoyed for itself, separate from the books.The directors and screenwriters didn’t have to follow Rowling’s words exactly as they were written. She said herself that a movie is a movie, a different medium and one shouldn’t expect it to be like a book.

The first good news, after hearing about the movie versions, was that the author insisted the actors be less known English children. Which worked wonderfully, even though they are now known around the world. The second was that they were going to take as much time as needed to produce the films. If the last films in the series are as good as the previous ones, then the wait and hype will have been well worth the apprehension.

What is it about this boy with a lightening scar on his forehead that has kids and adults panting like sheepdogs to see the film? Here are a few of the time-tested ingredients.

1. Place what appears to be an ordinary boy in unbelievable circumstances. Have him raised in a home where he is hated, then adopted by a family of wizards, with children his age, who love and adore him.

2. Make him someone special, like the only person to ever survive an attack by “he who must not be named”.

3. Throw in all the dynamics, frustrations and complications of being an adolescent and teen.

4. Mix it up with the English school system run by benevolent and terrifying wizards and witches.

5. Add a game called Quidditch that is a cross between soccer and hockey played on broomsticks.

6. Provide some intriguing, funny and/or frightening monsters, dragons and ghosts.

7. Write amazingly sharp and witty vocabulary and dialogue.

8. Make it accessible and understandable for all ages.

9. Top it all off with good versus evil.

10. Voila, you have the adventures of Harry Potter.

Now, if you see a strange family with lightening bolts painted on their foreheads and wands in their hands camped out in front of the theater at midnight on Nov. 19th, you’ll know it’s just another bunch of those crazy Potter fans trying to get in ahead of the crowd and I’ll probably be one of them.

P.S. Emma Watson (plays Hermione): If you happen to read this, will you please get in touch with our son Shona and ask him out on a date. He talks about you all the time and is willing to travel to Rhode Island and meet you at any time. He’s only a few years younger than you, has your picture on his wall and thinks of applying to Brown just to meet you before you graduate. Contact me directly and I’ll pass on your invitation.

Tag Cloud