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by: 
Caitlin, Teen Contributor

Book Basics: Passenger by Alexandra Bracken 

Published: January 2016, Disney- Hyperion 

Genre: YA, adventure, historical fiction

Page Count: 

Star Rating: ★★★★ 

Recommended For/If You Liked: PJO fans or fans of historical fiction and adventure

Favorite Quote: “...it matters not who you love, but only the quality of such a love… a flower is no less beautiful because it does not bloom in the expected form. Because it lasts an hour and not days.” 

 It’s been a long time since I’ve read an adventure novel. And Passenger is just that- a good, wholesome adventure story, with a healthy helping of romance and history on the side. Passenger follows the story of 17-year-old Etta Spencer,  a violin prodigy whose only concern is her upcoming debut and what to do with her future. But then a mysterious sound leads her to a passage that takes her to a ship headed towards 1776 New York City. There, Etta is thrown into a family of time travelers, ruled by a power-hungry old man named Cyrus Ironwood and discovers that she too possess the ability to time travel. Ironwood blackmails Etta into finding a special device called an astrolabe, which Etta must find using clues her mother left her and the help of Nicholas Carter, an 18th century privateer. 

It took a couple chapters for the book to get going, but once Etta woke up on the ship the plot picked up quickly. The pacing was a little off throughout the entire book, but it wasn’t a major problem. There were some parts that I had to power through because I knew that the story would get better. Other than the pacing, the plot was nicely developed, with a good balance between romance and adventure. (If you don’t like romance interfering with your adventure then this book isn’t for you. The romance wasn’t overpowering, but it did take up a fair chunk of the story.) 

Nicholas and Etta’s romance was very nicely written and I really liked the added complexity of race as an issue within their relationship (Nicholas is black, and Etta is white). It’s obviously a major issue during Nicholas’s time, but Etta does acknowledge that while people would be much more accepting of an interracial relationship in our time, the present day is still far from free of racism. Sexism was also an issue dealt with in the novel, but wasn’t as heavy as racism. I loved how these issues were repeated and dealt with across the various time periods that Nicholas and Etta traveled to. 

The character development was great and Etta was absolutely perfect as an independent, badass heroine. 

Aside from some minor issues, I really enjoyed this book. It was a fun, adventurous story with complex characters and relationships. And after the ending (spoiler alert: it’s a major cliffhanger) I’m definitely going to read the next book. Anyone who’s a fan of adventure, historical fiction, or both will enjoy this story. 

Don't forget to check out my blog for more YA book reviews and recommendations and follow me on Instagram (@thebookishbookworm) for bookish photography and updates every time I post! 

by: 
Jeremiah, Teen Contributor

I stand by the thought that JJ Abrams is a better producer than director, and here to support this thought has come 10 Cloverfield Lane, a wonderful little thriller produced by the man himself. Abrams’ skill comes from the marketing of films, as well as who he gets to work on them. The original Cloverfield was brilliant, the original trailer revealed nothing about the movie, not even it’s name. This intrigued audiences, and led to an 80 million dollar lifetime gross. This new Cloverfield movie (although it hardly deserves to be called that, for 10 Cloverfield Lane has little to nothing to do with the original movie) has had marketing just as ingenious. The first trailer came out mere months ago and the existence of the movie was kept secret until that moment, a feat that’s practically unheard of. JJ Abrams did a good job with the release of the movie, and an even better job with the movie itself.

10 Cloverfield Lane stars Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Michelle. After leaving her fiance and getting in a car accident, Michelle wakes up in a concrete underground bunker. She’s not alone, for also in the bunker are Howard (creepily played by John Goodman) and Emmet (John Gallagher Jr.). Howard informs her that there has been an attack on the city and the air is poisonous. He saw her in her car, flipped over on the side of the road, and rescued her. As the film progresses, Michelle starts to doubt the story she was told, as well as Howard's sanity, and how safe she truly is around him.

The film really shines when it comes to the acting. Mary Elizabeth Winstead plays Michelle wonderfully, who is a tough yet fragile character. She is compelling and intelligent, commanding the focus of the audience. Emmet is also played wonderfully by John Gallagher Jr. He is a sweet, charming southern guy who you can tell likes Michelle but wouldn’t dare try anything. The best performance of the film though has to go to John Goodman as Howard. I have never seen him act so creepy or so unsettling. The whole movie, you can tell that there is just something wrong with him, something wrong with his behaviour. Goodman is equal parts frightening and mysterious. With this allure, he steals every scene and is most definitely the standout of the film.

The director, Dan Trachtenberg, did an excellent job with the film. Every moment cranks up the tension, invoking feelings of anxiety and fear from the audience. This is his feature film debut and certainly delivers on all of his promise. Interestingly, he was chosen for the film mainly due to a Portal fan film he made and posted on youtube. Whatever the reason they hired, I’m glad they did because he just does such a great job. There are certainly worst first movies (David Fincher, after all, debuted with Alien 3).

The writing of the film was also very nice. The development of the film is interesting, for it originated as a spec script (meaning that it was independently made and sold, rather than a studio requesting for a specific script from a specific person) titled The Cellar. It was bought by Bad Robot (JJ Abrams Production company) and then given a few rewrites to conform a little better to the world of Cloverfield. One may think, among all those changes, that somewhere along the way the filmmakers would have lost the magic and essence of the script. Luckily it did the opposite. Most of what I read about the original script is less good than the final project.

10 Cloverfield Lane is a great movie. Not just fine or good, but great. I have a few complaints about the ending, which does not live up to the rest of the film, but for the most part 10 Cloverfield Lane delivers exactly what it needed to. I highly recommend seeing it even if you just go for John Goodman (understandable, he’s that good). 9/10

For more reviews visit my blog

Image credit Kate Brady on Flickr

by: 
Brooke, Teen Contributor

The walls spun and colors filled my vision. Swirling around with the cyans, magentas, and yellows were horrible thoughts of people making fun of me, Evergreen. As the magic started to work its way through my hair, sparks of light swirled in and out of the strands. Suddenly, I hit the floor and lost my breath. Slowly my vision came back, and I could once again see my old fashioned, white walled room. A slimy, snake-like, savage fairy named Puff slithered out of my room after completing my wish to change my hair.  

   “Thank you!” I screamed at Puff. 

   I got up and admired my new hair. It was beautiful. It was no longer an unnatural color of green. Instead, It was a rich, beautiful, brown. Oh, how I loved seeing the sun kissing my hair, lighting it up with its gorgeous rays. Then, I not so gracefully danced around my room. After a few minutes, I stumbled into my bookshelf, causing my sisters to swarm into my room to make sure I was okay. 

   “Evergreen, are you okay?” sighed my sister Misty.

   “Yeah,” I laughed. “I'm just fine.”

   “You sure?” asked  Ann, my other sister, as she cocked her eyebrow. 

I rolled my eyes. They then proceeded to pester me with their questions about what had happened and why I was so ecstatic. 

   “My hair is no longer that ugly shade of green!” I exclaimed.

   “Yes, it is! It is still the same old lovely color green that it has always been,” replied Misty. 

   After what felt like hours, they left. So I crashed out on my bed with a hand mirror. What could they have possibly meant? I saw light brown hair with touches of highlights and beautiful curls. I ponder on this for hours wondering what they could have meant. Could I still have green hair? Are they pranking me? Did my sisters want to wreck my day? 

   The next day at school wasn't any better. Kids continued to throw weird looks at me, attached notes to my backpack and called me ugly. I sat on the same old rock at lunch watching as my tears created a puddle underneath me. The only good thing was that my sister, Misty, saw me crying and wrapped me in her gentle embrace. While this did allow for a quick mental break, it couldn't have lasted the whole day. This is when I finally realized that I would call Puff back to my house and make him give me the ability to see my hair for what it truly was, and not what I wanted it to be. 

 When I came home I threw my backpack in a corner, raced past my sisters’ rooms and into mine. 

   “Puff!... Puff!... Get out here Puff!” I yelled through my tears, “We need…to talk.” 

   Finally, I give up and laid back on the bed. I was tired of screaming. This time, I didn't watch as the tears fell down my face. This time, I just lay there, letting my emotions take control of me. Now I couldn’t even see why they were making fun of me. All I knew was that they saw something that I couldn't see.

It was definitely something unforeseen when I watched the tips of his devil-like wings start to appear through the window. My whole physique brightened as the slimy, snake-like, savage fairy slid through my door. Puff’s smirk greeted me. He flew around me chanting, and his words put me into a hypnotic daze, until finally, with one last flick of his wrist, it was over.

   This time, I could see my hair for something that it truly was. A gift. People could make fun of me for it, but deep down that's not what mattered. What mattered was that I think that I am beautiful. Others look like the same copies of the same clothes and hairstyles. My hair was something that made me stand out in a world that tried  to make me into something that I was not, because I will never be that brown haired girl with caramel  highlights. I am that girl with gorgeous, green hair and a beautiful face. I learned that all that matters is to love myself, and now I do! 

   At school, I stood up to the bullies, my rock became a place to eat lunch and happily do my homework, and the nasty notes stopped coming. Soon enough people apologized and I made friends. Now I am the happiest person alive because I no longer fret about my green hair. 

 

Image Credit: Sharon Wesilds on Flickr

by: 
Lydia, Teen Contributor

Curley’s Wife and Mayella Ewell from the books Of Mice and Men and To Kill a Mockingbird may seem like different characters at first, but share more commonalities than meets the eye. While one speaks at the trial of a black man and the other dies at the hands of a mentally handicapped man, these characters play essential roles in bringing about the authors’ purposes in addressing social standpoints. Both young ladies portray the objectifying and stereotyping of women through their physical appearances, isolation, and interactions with other characters.

Curley’s Wife plays the role of a woman who focuses almost entirely on her physical appearance, how unfair it is that she must remain cooped up all day, and how everybody simply views her as a tart. First off, the appearance of this character displays her as very child-like, as shown with “She had full, rouged lips and wide-spaced eyes, heavily made up. Her fingernails were red. Her hair hung in little rolled clusters, like sausages. She wore a cotton dress and red mules, on the insteps of which were little bouquets of red ostrich feathers” (Steinbeck, pg 31). Wearing excessive amounts of makeup certainly reminds the reader of how little girls often play with their mother’s makeup, covering themselves with it. As well as this, the clothing choices of Curley’s Wife also reflect her child-like qualities, making her appear to be much like a child’s doll toy. Her curled sausages of hair also seem reminiscent of the locks of an innocent little girl. Moving on to the position of isolation that Curley’s Wife finds herself in, “‘I get lonely,’ she said. ‘You can talk to people, but I can’t talk to nobody but Curley. Else he gets mad. How’d you like not to talk to anybody?’” (Steinbeck, pg 87) paints a scene of Curley’s Wife showing some emotion to another character, Lennie. Due to being a married woman, Curley’s Wife, as per the standards of society, has limitations on what she can do with her time. Speaking with men other than her husband certainly does not abide with the rules laid out for her to follow. However, as she said, loneliness often overtakes Curley’s Wife, which explains her reasoning for visiting the bunkhouses to speak with other men. The basis of this dilemma can simply be accounted for by the isolation of becoming the wife of a working man. As such, Curley’s Wife can no longer have a good time with her life without being looked down upon. Lastly, discrimination of gender and self presentation also plays a role when “But Candy said excitedly, ‘We oughtta let ‘im get away. You don’t know that Curley. Curley gon’ta wanta get ‘im lynched. Curley’ll get ‘im killed.’” (Steinbeck, pg 94) takes place after Lennie accidentally ends the life of Curley’s Wife. Thanks to her flirtatious ways, Curley’s Wife became known as a tart. Needless to say, her value didn’t match that of any of the other characters. However, Lennie’s murder of her brings up the idea that, even though she had the flirty qualities of a tart and nobody liked her much, the blame for her murder still landed on Lennie. This incident shows that her position as the wife of Curley accounted for Lennie’s conviction of her murder. Henceforth, despite being a woman and a tart, Curley’s Wife stands superior to Lennie, entirely thanks to her position as the wife of Curley. A child-like appearance, the quality of being isolated, and only an aspect of marriage account for the entirety of Curley’s Wife, yet this character still brings forth social issues of discrimination from gender and behavior.

Mayella Ewell of  To Kill a Mockingbird plays a very similar role to Curley’s Wife in terms of objectifying women, such as having certain physical characteristics that change the way other view her, being isolated from the rest of society, and interacting with other characters in ways that determine how she appears to other members of the story. Starting off with physical appearance, “Mayella stared at him and burst into tears. She covered her mouth with her hands and sobbed,” (Lee, pg 205) shows Mayella as child-like and weak. Although it would be natural to be anxious or nervous when on stand, the act of out-right crying makes Mayella appear to be a weak child. Much like Curley’s Wife, Mayella portrays herself as sensitive or weak, making her seem much like a young child with emotional qualities. Moving on to Mayella’s own personal form of social isolation, “Mayella looked as if she tried to keep clean, and I was reminded of the row of red geraniums in the Ewell yard,” (Lee, pg 204) refers to how Mayella tries to grow geraniums in order to seem more cleanly than her family. Throughout this novel, the fact that the Ewell family represents social outcasts sings out loud and clear. However, since Scout states that Mayella attempted to make herself look good, it can be inferred that although she may be isolated from the rest of society due to family and economic status, Mayella Ewell still tries very hard to fit in. Geraniums, a pretty red flower that grow fairly easily, fit in well with the same red tone of the lips and shoes of Curley’s Wife. Bringing up the ideas of social discrimination, “‘Guilty… guilty… guilty… guilty…’” (Lee, pg 241) refers to how Tom Robinson, a black man, “lost” in his trial. Despite being a dirty, child-like, and generally disliked social outcast, Mayella Ewell’s value outweighed that of Tom for the sole reasoning of her being white and him being black. This incident goes to show that, at the root of it all, Harper Lee managed to cram it into her masterpiece that racial discrimination will always outweigh social segregation. Much like how John Steinbeck imposed that Curley’s Wife’s position as the wife of the boss’s son held her above Lennie. A run-down, unliked white woman who behaves more like a child than not, Mayella Ewell certainly brings out the segregation and discrimination found within society.

Both of these ladies come from the masterpieces of John Steinbeck, Of Mice and Men and Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird. Although these characters may have some subtle differences, it cannot be denied that each show their child-like habits and isolation from the rest of their community, yet play vital roles in laying out social implications of female objectifying and the stereotyping of women.

by: 
Chase, Teen Contributor

I took one glance in to her eyes and noticed that they were different. The pale blue color was the same, and so was the reflection of the sunset that I first saw that one night when we first met. This time was the very first time that I looked into her eyes and didn’t see her. The beautiful, charismatic, and talented girl I looked forward to seeing every single day in advanced calculus was gone. For the first time, I saw what every other person in this awful place called Earth saw. A liar.

 

Image Credit: Danielle Elder on Flickr

by: 
William, Teen Contributor

Utility is a Swiss army knife but human-like. One day he had imagined for some more people to be like super heros but better. He worked on a suit that would grant powers in a mechanical way. He then realized it is too risky to give others a suit like this. They could cause a lot of chaos. He then wore the suit himself and became a hero, influenced by many heroes before him. The suit he is wearing now is mark 3. The suit has a machine gun, hand blasters, small chemist lab, foldable swords, jet pack, boots, and other helpful things.

by: 
Jeremiah, Teen Contributor

Be warned:This film is rated R. 

Most horror movies are bad. It’s not necessarily a judgement on them, for at the very least I understand why they are this way, but it’s still a consistent problem. They are riddled with issues, and very few contemporary horror films succeed at even the most basic standards for quality cinema. Character development, engaging characters, a coherent plot, good acting, all these are thrown out the window in favor of a few cheap thrills. This ideology of thrilling the audience with jump scares and frightening visuals (which, let’s face it, most horror movies don’t even get that right) is ludicrous, as the singular focus cripples the entire film. Because of that thought process, the genre is riddled with terrible films, which really give a bad name to the grouping as a whole. The rare, quality horror films struggle to escape the ever looming presence of their genre. 

Even with this background and struggle, every year it seems a new, exciting, and unique horror movie gets released, restoring faith in the genre. These annual delightful frights break the general horror movie trend of awfulness by being surprisingly good. 2013 brought us The Conjuring, 2014 gave us The Babadook, 2015 It Follows, and nice and early in the year 2016 gives us The Witch.

The Witch follows a deeply religious protestant family living in America sometime during the 17th century, specifically the teenage girl Thomason. They leave their community due to religious differences and move to create a brand new isolated farm at the edge of the woods. Unfortunately for the family, an evil Witch lives in the woods that decides to curse them, stealing their youngest child as the first part of the torment.

Roger Eggers, the writer/director, spent years researching 17th century colonial America. The tagline, A New England Folktale, is really revealing about the story. He scoured over folktales of that era and, under their influence, created his own unique one, one that could easily have been told back in the day. It is less of an in your face horror movie and more of a dark, looming, and horrific story of a family.

The director does an excellent job in every aspect of the film. The cinematography and pacing create a brilliant sense of tension and creepiness. The dialogue, some taken directly from documents written during the time period of the film, is excellently written and revealing of characters. Eggers did his job splendidly, and we can expect a lot more from him in the future.

The acting is top notch, specifically the children actors. You never know how it’s going to pan out, hiring children so young, but they were really quite excellent. Haley Joel Osment from The Sixth Sense good. The whole cast spoke in an olden tongue, with thy and thou and hithers throughout the film. I believed that the actors actually spoke like that too, with all the ease and naturalness they brought to the dialogue. They really held nothing back.

As far as the film itself goes, as a horror movie, I’d say is excellent. With a tone that sort of combines The Shining with The Crucible, The Witch is consistently horrifying. It’s a slow burn horror, requiring attention to the characters and emotional investment in order for each scene to crank up the tension. A few incredibly disturbing visuals and a stunning finale seal the deal, so to speak, in the end.

When the movie finished, and I sat reflecting on the incredibly enjoyable film I just saw, I heard some of the other audience members behind me.

“Well that movie was terrible, what a waste of money.”

Another person farther back was yelling. “Refund.”

I was confused to say the least. Here I had watched one of the best horror films I’ve ever seen, and these other people hated it. Did we even watch the same movie? So that left me with this advice. Know that the Witch is a slow burn horror in which the characters talk a lot like a Shakespeare play. If you can’t handle the sort of mental capacity it takes to comprehend what they are saying, you will not like the movie. If you like your horror movies SAW-like, more like thrillers, and are expecting that from The Witch, you too will be disappointed. But if you go into the Witch expecting a creepy, often horrific film with great characters, a great plot, great cinematography, and patience, well you’re bound to enjoy it immensely. That’s why I give it 9/10.

 

Image credit: Stella Marris on Flickr

by: 
Emily, Teen Contributor

beauty

is in the eye of the

beholder they

say

therefore who are they to

set the standards

instead of gowns and glory

to me beauty is honesty

truth love and kindness

you can be as beautiful

as you want to

be

for who is to

say otherwise

so say it

I'm beautiful

 

Image Credit: Wouter Beckers on Flickr.

by: 
Marissa, Teen Contributor

Skiers and snowboarders alike love waking up to the perfect ski day. The sun is out, the temperature is a comfortable thirty-two degrees Fahrenheit and you are ready to hit perfectly groomed slopes. Living in the Colorado Denver Metro Area, there are over seven world class ski resorts that are all under two hours away. How do you choose which one to spend your valuable time and money at? Being an avid skier myself and frequenting all the major ski resorts many times each winter, I have selected my top two choices to evaluate and ultimately crown one as the winner.

Vail and Keystone’s ski mountains are excellent world class resorts with which locals are very familiar. These resorts are also a part of the Vail Epic Pass: a ski pass with a reasonable one time rate for locals and pays for itself if you ski five times or more during the winter season. If you’re not a local, at whichever resort you choose the ski ticket will always range from $90 to $120. Vail and Keystone have about the same amount of ski lifts, trails, snow fall and similar base and peak elevations. They also both have ski-in and ski-out hotels, restaurants and superb villages. What really makes a ski resort rise above others is the mountain itself. You will stay on the mountains for probably four to eight hours a day. Each mountain’s terrain, grooming, lift wait times, crowds and snowpack are the real factors that will cause you to have the best or the worst day in your life. 

Vail is one of the most well-known ski resorts in the world because of its prestige and the lavishness of its village. Last year it was especially in the spotlight because the resort was lucky enough to host the 2015 Alpine World Ski Championships. This race has only been held in America three times, and Vail also hosted this race the two previous times in 1989 and 1999. Millionaires own mansions there, but the general public is still welcomed to enjoy its facilities and mountain. The Vail ski mountain has a large variety of green, blue and black runs. I would also consider it one of the safer mountains, because the runs are more directly marked and grouped by difficulty. It is a great place to learn how to ski or snowboard for the first time. Unless you are in the back bowls, it is very hard to get lost or accidently end up on a run that is way above your current ability level. Because of this mountain’s reputation, it is also one of the most crowded mountains. Lifts for the easier runs can have wait times of thirty minutes to an hour on weekends, especially holidays, in the later morning and afternoons. The mountain’s connector trails and primary runs also get very crowded and have a lot of beginner skiers and snowboarders which make them hard to navigate. I would therefore recommend the much less crowded back bowls which have mainly black and blue runs.  Vail also changed their grooming pattern last year. They used to groom overnight and also half way through the day to ensure that you could always find a freshly groomed and crisp run. Because of an incident in the 2013 to 2014 winter season where an inexperienced skier managed to get hit by a snowcat, a very large heavy metal machine that goes less than five miles per hour, Vail no longer grooms during the day. This causes the snow to be very icy and clumpy by the afternoon. There are also more runs with moguls and harder terrain because of the grooming shortage.

Keystone is a more tucked away and not as mainstream of a mountain. Its village is smaller and not as much of a tourist trap. Keystone is also a more advanced mountain. Their average run is steeper and there are many back bowls that are only for advanced skiers and freestyle. Even so, Keystone’s ski school is excellent and many of the kids are able to go down green runs on the mountain by the end of the day. Keystone also has one of the largest terrain parks of any of the ski resorts. One lift goes right through the terrain park, allowing anyone to enjoy watching professional tricksters. Because Keystone is more secluded, lift waits and crowds are much more minimal. There is no waits in the morning and I have never waited more than fifteen minutes in the afternoon. The runs also have minimal crowds, especially the back bowls. Keystone’s snow cats have not yet managed to hit any skiers, which means they groom all day and night. You can always find a few non-crowded, crisp runs to cruise down the whole day. Keystone also has a few unique features that many other resorts do not offer. They have a vast amount of runs you can night ski on. This is one of the reasons they have been able to keep up with and continue to be as popular as other resorts. Skiers usually have to hike to get to backcountry skiing at many ski resorts. Keystone offers the unique experience of taking or being pulled behind a snow cat for only $10 to whichever run you want.

Overall, Keystone is a more advanced and secluded mountain that offers unique experiences and ways to beat crowds and long wait times. Even so, Vail is still a family friendly resort and if you can manage to be an early riser and be on the mountain right when it opens, you will have a good three hours of groomed terrain to enjoy. Personally, I would rather go to Keystone over Vail for a day ski trip during the winter season. Being a more advanced skier, I love being able to go alpine style down long black runs with no other people. Go Devil, Wild Irishman and Mozart are my favorite runs. Many locals also prefer resorts like Keystone because of the more advanced terrain and the lack of tourists. If you are a beginner skier or snowboarder and are not planning on enrolling in ski school, then I would recommend you go to Vail. Vail is a safe place to learn and cruise down less steep runs until you have more developed skills. Cub’s Way, Simba, and Born Free are all good runs to start with. Once you can navigate well and are confident in your skills, then you can try out Keystone and really enjoy your experience. Either way you choose, Vail and Keystone are world class ski resorts in which you can sample terrain that is the best Colorado has to offer.  

by: 
Jeremiah, Teen Contributor

Anomalisa began not as a film, but as a stage play. Written by the brilliant Charlie Kaufman, the play featured 3 actors, standing off to one side of the stage, acting mainly with their voices and with no movement.The staging was designed by Kaufman to spark the imagination of the crowd. Instead of showing the characters doing things, the setup made the audience visualize the wild and crazy story. Anomalisa was intended to be a fleeting thing, a special experience reserved only for those that attended the limited release.

Luckily, for the rest of us who didn’t have a chance to get out to the theatre, Kickstarter funded the film adaptation of Charlie Kaufman’s play, turning it into the stop motion Academy Award nominated beast it has become. The resulting product is amazing, unbelieveable, crazy, touching, and absolutely lovely. It’s world is perfectly realized, with believable characters and a relatable protagonist.

I would like to tell you the story of Anomalisa, what the inciting incident is and the setup and all of that, but I don’t think it’s wise. The trailer does a great job of hinting at the story without spoiling anything, and the official IMDB description reads “A man crippled by the mundanity of his life experiences something out of the ordinary.” As much as I am generally opposed to vague marketing and J.J. Abrams’ “Mystery Box”(the marketing was a big problem I had with Star Wars), I respect Anomalisa’s use of this strategy, and actually think an audience member will get the most out of the experience knowing the least amount possible about the story. You can find any number of synopsis’ on the internet, explaining what the setup of the film is, and if you’re so inclined, you can find one and read it. And even though you now spoiled the premise for yourself, viewing it is going to be a great experience despite the knowledge you possess. But unfortunately you lose the investigative aspect of the film. You can never gain back the adventure of finding out more and more about the story and world, and it is for that reason you will find no such description here.

All that you need to know about Anomalisa at this moment is that it is a story from the mind of Charlie Kaufman, who created such unique and amazing works as Being John Malkovich, Adaptation, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Well known for his unique and hilarious writing style, he does not disappoint with his most recent endeavour.

The stop-motion animation is very fluid and beautiful, showcasing the ideas and messages pursued throughout the film perfectly. Duke Johnson was chosen to co-direct alongside Kaufman, and he was the perfect choice. Johnson is a true veteran of the stop motion world, having worked on many different projects in the field. I cannot emphasize how important and influential he was for Anomalisa to become a success. He and Kaufman made an affecting stylistic film that stays true to the story’s original vision.

The style really elevates the film creating a consistently wonderful tone throughout. Kaufman was worried that in its transfer to screen, Anomalisa would lose the magical, imaginative aspect it had developed in its theatrical run, but the magic is still very much alive through the puppets, and sets.

Anomalisa is an amazing film. I cannot express enough the emotions that are elicited through this movie. It’s touching, amazing, beautiful, funny, sad, and melancholy. It deserved it’s Best Animation Nomination, and I believe it deserves to win Best Animated Picture (even though Inside Out is totally going to win. Inside Out wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t nearly as good as this was). You are doing a disservice to yourself if you miss out on this one. 9/10

 

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