Saturday, December 29, 2012

TV BREAKDOWN "Once Upon a Time" -The Darcy Arc

Hat Trick. SeasonOne, Episode 17 Screenwriter: Bryan Gracia
"The Darcy Arc" by Nakeesha J. Seneb

In Jane Austen’s timeless classic, Pride and Prejudice, we all detest the dashingly handsome, but stuck up, Mr. Darcy in the beginning. After a poorly-contrived declaration of love at Rosings Park and an act of kindness that (ie paying off Wickam to marry the disgraced Lydia) conveniently covers up his own past mistakes, we all realize we’ve misjudged Mr. Darcy and fall madly in love with the sensitive, lovestruck gentleman. This is what I affectionately call The Darcy Arc. It has worked in The Twilight Saga with Edward and Bella, The Hunger Games with Peeta and Katnis, and even Sex in the City with Mr. Big and Carrie. And it almost worked here in this episode of Once Upon a Time when the Mad Hatter in the form of the mentally disturbed, but seriously hot, Jefferson comes on to the screen.

First A Recap...
In this episode, Emma, along with Mr. Gold and Henry, find out Mary Margaret has made a run for it after being arrested for Kathrine's murder. If Mary Margaret misses her arraignment, the authorities will get her. If she leaves Storybrooke, the curse will get her. Emma heads out after her. On the road, someone is stumbling along in the mist. Emma accidentally runs him off the road and injures his ankle. His name is Jefferson and she offers to take him home.

In the Fairy Tale world, the same man is running in the woods, only it’s with his daughter. Queen Regina turns up requesting his services, but he insists he’s “hung up his hat.” His name here is…Jefferson.

Back in Storybrooke, Emma and Jefferson have arrived at his huge manor-like home. He offers her a drink. Now, Emma is usually a cautious woman, but she takes this drink, and promptly blacks out.

In the Fairy Tale world the metaphorical, clues keep ‘a coming. Jefferson’s daughter, Grace, wants to buy a stuffed white rabbit for her tea party. Sadly, her father can’t afford it and the old sales woman, who turns out to be the Queen in disguise, is cruel about his lacking. Jefferson makes a patchwork rabbit for Grace. Looking at the sad substitute, he decides to take the job from the Queen so that he can provide better for his daughter.

Back in Storybrooke, Emma has freed herself from the bonds Jefferson tied her up with. She spies him across the hall, sharpening a huge pair of scissors, in sinister lighting that does wonders for his derrière. She sneaks down the hall. The house is full of rooms with so many doors to choose from. The one Emma ducks into has another prisoner. It’s Mary Margaret bound and gagged!

In the Fairy Tale world, the Queen assures Jefferson that once this job is done his daughter will want for nothing. Jefferson produces a hat –a mad looking hat- and spins it. A blue tornado envelopes the room and he and the Queen jump into the hat.

Emma and Mary Margaret attempt an escape, but are stopped by Jefferson who has traded in his shears for a gun. As he forces Emma to tie Mary Margaret up again, he assures Emma that he’s saving Mary Margaret’s life. He takes Emma into a room full of hats and tells her he has been stuck in here for twenty-eight years until she arrived, the town clock started ticking, and things started to change. He knows about the curse! He remembers his old life. He believes Emma has magic and he demands that she get his hat to work.

In the Fairy Tale world, Jefferson and the Queen arrive in a hall of mirrors. They approach one, but before they go in Jefferson warns the Queen that they must stick together. The hat demands that if two go in, two must come out. They step through the looking glass and enter...Wonderland.

Once in Wonderland, they head into the maze of the Queen of Hearts. After bursting through some shrub walls and taking down some cards, Queen Regina finds what she seeks: a box. She opens the box, tosses in a mushroom, and out pops her father. Back at the looking glass, Jefferson realizes too late that three’s a crowd. Queen Regina and her dad go through the mirror and leave him behind to be captured by the Cards of Hearts.

And then things get trippy. 

Jefferson stands before the Queen of Hearts who demands to know how he got there. She relieves his head from his body and demands he make another hat if he wants to get back home. Stuck in a workshop, Jefferson goes mad as he makes hat after hat that all have no magic.

Back in Storybrooke, Emma can’t get the hat to work either. Using a telescope, Jefferson shows her that Grace is here too. Only, she belongs to a different family, and like everyone else, has a different name. His daughter is happy with her new life, but he is cursed to remember. Like a good parent, he refuses to destroy her reality by revealing their past -because that would be crazy! Emma appears to be empathetic, until Jefferson turns his back and she cracks his skull with the telescope. Emma races off to free Mary Margaret, but before the girls can escape Jefferson resurfaces donning one of his hats. It’s a good look for him! A big fight ensues and ends with Mary Margaret kicking Jefferson out of the window. When they look out, all that remains is Jefferson’s hat.

Now that both are free, Emma gives Mary Margaret an option to run. But after Emma tells Mary Margaret that she is her only family and she would face this ordeal with her, Mary Margaret decides to stay. The clock chimes 8am, the time the arraignment is supposed to begin. Regina walks in the jail with a wicked smile on her face…and is shocked to see Mary Margaret behind bars. Regina turns her ire on Mr. Gold. It appears that those two are behind the key planting! Mr. Gold promises her he will get results. We’re left wondering for whom does he mean?

And Now its Time for a Breakdown...
This storyline was a testament to the fact that the Darcy arc doesn’t always work. Jefferson comes off as a homicidal maniac until we learn about his daughter. His story of loss pulls on our heart strings –especially since he’s a single dad wanting to give his daughter the world; a fairytale world. It would have been a perfect Darcy arc except when he tried to kill Emma and Mary Margaret in the end. Edward never bites Bella -well not intending harm anyway. Peeta only pretends to want Katnis dead in an effort to actually save her. But Jefferson actually meant to do harm to Emma and Mary Margaret, but was thwarted. Dude, that's not cute or endearing or Darcy-esque. I do hope he comes back, though. He was dashingly handsome!

BOOK REVIEW "Severed" -Closing Doors

Severed: Fated #2 Author: Sarah Alderson
"Closing Doors" by Nakeesha J. Seneb

Severed, Book 2 in the Fated series took awhile to warm up, but at the halfway mark it packed a punch.

Evie and Lucas are on the run trying to uncover the prophecy of the White Light. Looking for clues, and for people to help give them clues, slows the story down in the beginning as we are introduced to a new cast of characters. Once we meet the bedpost-notching, rogue hunter, Cyrus, things pick up a bit with Cyrus' larger than life ego and one-liners. He swaggers into the hate-to-love, quick-witted villain role vacated by Shula, though he's on Evie's side. Alderson posted on the interwebs that Cyrus' entry does NOT (thank goodness) indicate a love triangle. Though he does bring tension to Lucas and Evie's love story.

Lucas and Evie spend a lot of inner monologue on the themes of fate, destiny and sacrifice, which was really interesting. But still, I wanted more action. Particularly from Evie. She's set up as this strong female -physically as well as personality-wise. But she only throws a couple of punches in this story. She was very often standing behind Lucas or Cyrus during battles, but there were indications that she could put them both on the floor with her new-found powers.

I was also very excited about the love scene in this decidedly YA work -though maybe it should be cast into the blooming New Adult genre. The love scene is, in fact, there. But don't blink, or you might miss it! Gosh! Does that make me a perv that I wanted to read more about these kids doing the wild thing?

As I indicated, the second half of this book was more to my speed when the action and the ticking-time-bomb shifted into gear. The storyline of this sequel is resolved and then a serious, SERIOUS, complication is immediately introduced for the final book in this planned trilogy. I totally appreciated that Alderson made sure to close one door before opening another. And if you are a fan you will likely shout loud enough for her to hear you in her cottage in Bali with respect to the shape and size of the new door she presented. Like relationships, each book (or movie) in a series has to have Closure. Closure is when the main points of a plot line are sealed together. There really shouldn't be any loose strings. Anything left behind should be on its own line of plot points. I felt that Alderson accomplished this quite nicely with the mission Evie and Lucas had been sent to LA with. With that mission complete, what remained were new plots she'd introduced in the second book that will carry readers into the third.

Personally, I couldn't get past the closing of the initial door. I was unprepared for it. Its completely plausible what happened, but I felt M. Night Shamalyan blindsided by it. Alderson could have put some sneaky hints in there so that when we reflected back on the entire story, we picked up on them and realized what a genius she is. But there were no sneaky least not that I saw.

Still, I suspect she has something up her sleeve with these two doors opening and closing and some potentially tricky wording in the White Light Prophecy that we think has been resolved. Or has it...dunh dunh dunh!

MOVIE REVIEW "Another Earth" -Open Endings

Another Earth Screenwriters: Brit Marling & Mike Cahill
"Open Endings" by Nakeesha J. Seneb

How far would you go for redemption?

In the independent movie, “Another Earth,” Rhoda Williams’ star was shining as brightly as it could for a seventeen-year-old. She’d been accepted into MIT to study astronomy, or perhaps physics, its unclear. What was made clear was that her life was going to be brilliant! Until she crashed her car into a family of three, instantly killing a mother and son. Instead of the classrooms of MIT, Rhoda spends the next four years in prison for vehicular manslaughter. When she gets out, she prefers to keep to the shadows and becomes a janitor, as the profession demands little to no interaction with other human beings. One day, she accidentally runs into the father whose family she killed. Feeling the need to atone for her mistakes, she goes to his home with a prepared apology. Only, when he answers the door, clearly disheveled and still affected, Rhoda loses her nerve. What comes out of her mouth instead is an offer to clean his house as part of a trial maid service. Thus begins Rhoda’s touching and also twisted road to redemption. It starts with cleaning up the kitchen, and weeks later, winds up with the two of them in the bedroom. All the while, the widowed father is kept in the dark as to the true identity of this girl who brings him back from the edge. In the midst of this impossible situation, Rhoda is left struggling with the need to make his life better, after so much has been taken from him, pitted against her need to make herself feel better, after having killed his family. She wishes that she had a second chance at life; a way to go back and retract her actions.

Now is a good time to mention the reason for the title of this movie, “Another Earth.” Seconds before Rhoda crashed her car on that fateful night, she looked up into the sky and saw a pale blue dot next to the moon. Four years later, that pale blue dot has been confirmed as a parallel Earth, with parallel people living parallel lives on it. Plans to travel to the parallel world are made and an essay contest is held to determine the passengers. Incredibly, Rhoda’s essay wins her a spot. John, the widowed father, begs her not to go. Can she tell him the real reason she must go? Reveal her true identity and risk losing his love? Her decision is as unexpected as it is heart wrenching. I loved this movie with 95% of my heart. It’s that 5%, which happens in the last five seconds of the movie that I actually shouted at the screen in the theater!!!

What happens is known as an Open Ending. Think Choose Your Own Adventure, but the last page is left blank -or should I say black- for you to fill in. After a brilliant prologue, an engaging series of rising action, and a gripping climax the writer leaves the resolution of the film up to each individual viewer. I want to be angry, but I can't stop my mind from filling in pages and pages of story. Brilliance? Or bad form?

BOOK REVIEW "Wallbanger" -The Personification of the Orgasm

WallbangerWallbanger Author: Alice Clayton
"The Personification of the O" by Nakeesha J. Seneb

I love Alice Clayton's voice. The two heroines she's brought on the scene have both been witty, sassy, independent and aggressive. Their men are neither alphaholes nor pushovers. Both of them are great conversationalists that can keep up with the witty banter of her heroines. That, in and of itself, is a breath of fresh air in this rom-com genre.

Caroline was all the adjectives above in this work, though a little too perfect and flawless for my tastes. She got her dream job just out of college and was skyrocketing to success. Her only flaw? Her hijacked O. Simon, though scarred from his past, led a pretty charmed life too: a job that took him all over the world and hips powerful enough to bang a triad of beauties into his bedroom wall. Caroline lives on the other side of said wall being banged, which is the catalyst that throws them together.

Really great premise! Tons of wit. And even a couple of twists and surprises. However I had issues with the plotting, pacing, and tension...and some of the writing.

I loved that Clayton made a plot out of a missing O -loved that. What helped this plot along was the personification of said O, along with Brain, Heart, Backbone, Nerves and even a brief supporting role of Simon's Wang. Personification is t
he attribution of human characteristics to something nonhuman. Think National Geographic Specials where the animals are all given human names, emotions, and plot lines. The despair, anxiety, and eventual swan-diving joy Caroline's orgasm experiences are gripping and hilarious.

What didn't help this plot was a lot of extraneous scenes that seemed thrown in to fill time between the major plot points of the MCs being in the same room. There was tons and tons of telling, as seems to be flaw in Clayton's writing style. There was also a glaring lack of tension, which I felt could have been easily fixed by having Corey "O Stealing" Weinstein and James "Chauvinist Ex Boyfriend" Brown make more appearances to muss things up. Or I wished Caroline had faced some real challenges, perhaps at work -but no, everything worked out perfectly for her outside of the conflict -her missing O. She just had to wait a really, REALLY long time for a resolution. And as a reader, I had to read (skim over) a lot of words that didn't really matter to get to the sweet spot too.

And then there were the texting chapters? They were informative, but they seemed wrong. Technically, speaking. This work was in Caroline's 1st person POV. But at one point, it switched to Simon's. Then at one point Clive's, who's a cat. That just didn't seem right to me.

And then there was the ending. It dragged on waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too long after the missing O was recovered. And nothing happened in those extra chapters. Nothing. I feel that writers use their crafting skills to get their readers to trust their storytelling. I felt dropped on the bum more than a couple times in this work and now I'm a little gunshy of Ms. Clayton.