Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Too fast, too confusing, terrible acting: Da Vinci Code film does not do Dan Brown's novel any good

The Da Vinci Code was released in theaters in May 2006. It had great hopes of being a hit at the boxoffice, especially with Tom Hanks playing the character of Robert Langdon, the seemingly sexy and highly intelligent Professor in Religious Symbolism. I saw the movie in theaters with my family, all being "non-readers" of the book. Now, I really don't understand how anyone who didn't read the book actually understood the movie. In my opinion, everything about this movie was bad. Check out the New York Times' article on the movie...I guess I'm not the only one who was disappointed!
Tom Hanks' performance was not what it usually is...I mean, we're talking about a legend in film. He didn't fulfill his role as Mr. Langdon because, in my opinion, his character wasn't explored enough in the film. This was done much better in the novel. Audrey Tautou, the actress playing Sophie Neveu, the female protagonist of the novel also did a mediocre job at fulfilling her role in this movie. I imagine Sophie to be a much stronger character than what Ms. Tautou portrayed. In the film, she seemed very dependent and sometimes a little spacey.
The story moved so fast I could barely keep up with what was happening in front of me. Scenes were moving so quickly and I feel like the other characters, besides Langdon and Neveu, were not given enough time to allow the audience to understand them. While reading the book, I sometimes had trouble keeping up with characters and their roles, and I assume that the movie did no better job at aiding the audience in keeping everyone straight, especially for "non-readers".
The one good thing I found while watching this movie was the scenery in which these characters were acting in. The beauty of the European background caught my attention way more than the characters and sometimes even the story line. To me, this movie did not give credit to the intensity of the plot and lacked in showing its audience exactly what Dan Brown theorizes.
"Angels and Demons" by Dan Brown is supposed to be the "what happened first", the story before The Da Vinci Code. I have no yet read this book, but I've heard that it is even better than The Da Vinci Code. The movie is set to be released in May 2009...but I'm a little afraid. Will this movie actually do the novel justice? Or will it just be another disappointment to me and many other avid readers? Check out the Angels and Demons movie trailor at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ASVeN-58HKk and compare it with The Da Vinci Code trailor http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=szfyh2h838w . I think the latter trailor is much better and I would rather see that movie, but what do you think?

Photo courtesy of http://www.ssqq.com/archive/images/da%20vinci%20code%20tom%20hanks.jpg

Sunday, January 25, 2009

No Judgment Appreciated: My religious struggle after reading "The DaVinci Code"

Persuasion. Influence. Possiblity. Could one theory about Catholicism really hold enough possible truth to make even the most devout believers question their faith?

This is not a post about bashing religion, nor is it a persuasion piece, but rather it is my story about the power of this theory on my life. Controversial? Absolutely. I have no intentions to start a debate about this book and this theory...simply read this post without judgment, I need to get some things off of my chest.

Born and raised as a Roman Catholic, my beliefs about religion have been moderate...I've never read the bible in its entirety but I can recite the 10 Commandments and pray for good things to come.

I picked up The DaVinci Code a few years ago from a friend. Also a Catholic, she suggested I read this book. I admit, I was ready to put it down after reading the first few chapters when I wasn't able to "get into it". The story didn't really interest me, and in all honesty, it actually seemed pretty boring. "Keep reading", she said. Reluctantly I took her advice, and she was right. The controversial theory didn't start until later in the book, and the ideas put forth by Dan Brown shocked me. I had quite a few open-mouth-eyes-wide moments, especially about the theorized secret of Jesus & Mary Magdalene...could it be true? I didn't know, and to this day I cannot rule out the possibility of...well...you'll find out if you read. But it did get me thinking, perhaps challenging my faith. Gosh, this is so terrible to say but if I'm going to write this post truthfully, then here it is, out in the open. This book made me challenge my faith after reading it. It was hard for me to accept my beliefs and continue practicing my faith. I went as far as discussing these ideas with a priest because my curiosity and confusion had taken over my ability to rely solely on belief. After having a quite heated but respectful discussion with him, I still wasn't satisfied.

I can't say for sure as which moment I came back to my faith, but it was a long time after reading this book. Today, I have a clearer picture of what I believe and why...although I cannot say for certain that I am right. Nor can I say that my beliefs are the same as they were before I read this book. It has taught me to look at all possiblities in every aspect of my life...school, relationships, etc. I have grown more aware of my beliefs by challenging them, which has lifted the religious veil off of my eyes. I no longer simply follow Catholicism because I was raised to, I now believe because I have challenged everything I knew to be true and chosen the beliefs that work for me.

I urge you to read this book because of the effects it will have on your life, regardless of your beliefs. True, this book is quite controversial, and it should definitely be read with a "reader beware" sticker. But Dan Brown's ability to create a story from a theory such as this is astounding. He uses the power of a secret and the intelligence of riddle & rhyme to keep the pages turning. The plot is genius, in my opinion, and it allowed me to enter the secret of the code along with the characters. Never has a book had such an effect on me, enough to question my life and my religion.

But remember, this is just a theory...but the ideas will send chills up your spine and get you to think..maybe not about the ideas presented but about your life in all aspects. Check out these books reviews to see if this is right for you:


Picture compliments from:


Happy (and cautious) Reading!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Wicked Witch lives on...on Broadway, that is!

I got the chance to see the musical, Wicked, when it came to Lansing, Michigan in July 2008 (thanks, Victor!) This story was so wonderfully written, it didn't surprise me that it would someday become as popular as it has. There had to be some way for these characters to come to life, in some place other than on the yellow brick road. And I think that broadway was, and still is, the perfect way to do so.

I can remember sitting anxiously in my seat, with a enlarged map of OZ in front of me. There were times when I forgot that I wasn't a part of the story, that I was living in my own "Kansas"...I was still at home yet somehow part of the tale too. The energy that filled the auditorium was electric and had the entire audience entranced.
If you ever have the opportunity to see this show, jump on your broomstick as fast as you can because this show is definitely worth leaving home for.

For ticket sales and future productions, visit images.broadwayworld.com/upload/34830/wicked2.jpg
Check out these videos of "One Short Day" and "Popular", two of my favourite songs from the musical...enjoy! Both videos are courtesy of http://www.youtube.com/
I have also read "Son of a Witch" and "Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister", both from Gregory Maguire. Although I was not able to attach myself to these stories as much as Wicked, they were still enjoyable and very entertaining.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

"I'll get you, my pretty"...The untold version of "The Wizard of Oz"

While on a student exchange in Italy during the summer of 2007, in between day trips to Rome and barely scratching the surface of my ancestry, I fell in love with the works of novelist Gregory Maguire. For those readers who are unfamiliar with this name, perhaps it would interest you more to know that he is the author of "Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West". As the title suggests, this novel allows the reader to see the world of Oz from the side of the protagonist, the woman with the pea-green skin and cackling laugh.

Growing up watching "The Wizard of Oz", I had the same prejudices against the Witch of the West as most people do; she's out to get sweet, innocent Dorothy because of the ruby slippers and makes her journey back to Kansas as difficult as possible. Yet, until I read this book, I never bothered to question why Elphaba (the Wicked Witch's first name) wanted those ruby slippers so badly. To make a long, although humoursly entertaining story short, Elphaba is looking for acceptance and is deeply misunderstood. The novel has everything a good book should have...the war between love and hate, the lessons learned from a friendship turned bitter, the issues of politics in a descriminating and harsh society, and the truth that whatever ugliness and imperfections we carry, there is always a chance to live life instead of fear it.

Before you crack the spine of "Wicked" though, let me warn you, you will never be able to watch "The Wizard of Oz" with the same mind as you did in your childhood, Gregory Maguire makes sure of that.

I highly recommend reading "Wicked" because it forced me to not simply notice my own and other people's imperfections, but to give credit to those who succeed in a largely imperfect world. This book also gave a voice to the feminist in me, because if a woman like the Wicked Witch of the West can hold as much power over others with her simple presence and stand up alone for her beliefs, then there is definite hope for the rest of us.

Happy Reading!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

What turns my pages?

Constantly blackening the tip of my nose with ink...novels, journal articles, textbooks (of course). I'm not the type to be picky-and-choosy about genres, which is something that I believe works to my advantage. Throughout the next 11 weeks, and hopefully far beyond that, I will try to use my wisdom of novels to help you become more familiar with the freedom of genres, great authors, etc.
Have you ever loved a novel, every aspect of it...characters, plot, climax and suspense? Have you ever been super excited to find out that those characters will be made into 'real people', where you'll finally be able to see 'so-and-so' or 'what's-his-face' in the exact replication of the person you can clearly see in your imagination? Paying the 10+ dollars, standing in line for 1+ hours to finally see that masterpiece of pages become a box office smash, only to leave with 100% disappointment and vowing to NEVER watch another movie created from a book. I've been there, done that, and quite frankly, bought the t-shirt.
Over the next 11 weeks, I will be blogging about a novel I've read in a particular genre, reviewing the book, discussing the author and giving my viewpoints about 'extras' that often accompany novels, especially in film.