stories.

story noun. a description of events and people that the writer or speaker has invented in order to entertain people

Definition of story from the Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary

Why are stories so important?

Rueben’s Thomasz – (8 years old)

If you ever spent a lot of time around young children or if you can remember from your own childhood, then I bet you’ve heard of stories like Spot the Dog or The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Stories like these introduced us to different foods, different animals, different items around the house, colours, counting and words, even relatives, friends and relationships. They helped our little brains understand the world around us, by associating most of the things we take for granted today, with simple narratives.  

Lizzie’s Thomasz – (26 years old)

They’re vital for learning and there’s even a study to show that people remember facts and information more easily from a story, than from statistics alone.

Other than being excellent learning cars, stories are also a way to find common ground with strangers. They unite us through fear, joy, sadness, amusement, desire, disgust and excitement. With a story, we find ourselves in scenarios we may never find ourselves in real life. Reading about someone’s experiences, feelings and reactions, helps us to consider our own thoughts and feelings in a similar position. Being able to relate or connect to imaginary characters can have the same effect as if you were relating to someone you actually met or know and connecting to people is part of our survival psychology: from the moment we are born, we rely on those connections with other people to ensure our growth. Stories can help develop our understanding of other people and strengthen the bonds of our relationships.

It’s that part of stories that fascinates me.

Ollie’s Thomasz – (33 years old)

How do stories do that?

There are loads of tools that writers use to make up a story and I will get to them as I write more posts on the subject, but one of the simplest ways to explain how they become deeply personal, is to think of it like this: stories are a way to see from someone else’s perspective but reading a story is only one half of the task. As a reader, you have to put in a little work too; you have to be the one that turns those words into images and thoughts.

Amber’s Thomasz (emoji filtered) – (32 years old)

If I said, “Thomasz was a towering man, with frizzy curly hair that stuck out from under a faded baseball cap. He had piercing blue eyes, a gold-hoop earring and a jagged scar down his left cheek”, and then asked you to draw what I described, you’d all probably come up with someone who had all those features, but they won’t look the same.

Paul’s Thomasz – (41 years old)

We could all read the same book, but based on our own experiences, emotions, imagination, we’ll probably have a different understanding of it by the end. To help prove the point, I asked my friends to draw their version of Thomasz and they gave me the awesome, similar but different, pictures in this post.

Like I mentioned in posts for geeks., watching a film or reading a book a second time round, or after a few years, could change the way you interpret it altogether… maybe you missed something the first time round or your life experience has given you a new point of view. Your version of a story is entirely dependent on you.

Dave’s Thomasz – (38 years old)

As I grew up, the stories I read became a bit more complex than Spot the Dog. I liked R.L.Stine’s Goosebumps collection and Stephen King novels in my teens and then as I got older still, I would read Herman Melville and the works of Oscar Wilde. Now that I have a bit more of a grip on the bits that make a story up, I want to take you through some of them from one of my favourite stories from school; Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare.

Although I read it and wrote about it in school there’s a lot that I just couldn’t understand until I got a bit older. It’s jam-packed with writing devices that bend the mind and I think it’d be a perfect start for posts for geeks.

film. brightburn

MOVIE: Brightburn

YEAR: 2019

DIRECTOR: David Yarovesky

WRITER: Brian Gunn, Mark Gunn

MAIN CAST: Jackson A. Dunn, David Denman, Elizabeth Banks

RUNNING TIME: 1hr 30min

There are spoilers below…

I try and avoid movie trailers out of fear that they will spoil a film or take something away from it. Most of the time I feel like they show way too much information and somehow force me to develop an opinion about a film before I have even seen it.

Brandon Breyer

Brightburn was one of those times I ended up seeing the trailer and although I wouldn’t necessarily say I developed an opinion about the film I did start thinking up questions about it and like most, I was coming back to Superman every-time.

ooooo, interesting was my initial reaction to the first few seconds of the trailer. Then as it went on I began to cringe a little, ah I don’t know. I mean, a bad Superman? Is that where they’re going with this? We’ve seen Superman turn bad. Then again, we’ve never seen him start out bad. Ok – they’re either gona do this good OR it’s gona be real bad.

I kept seeing odd buzz words around the film: Horror, Gory, Bad seed, Evil Superhero. I was wondering, how dark is this gona be?

When I thought about a bad Superman, I couldn’t help going back to the 1983 Superman III starring Christopher Reeve. It’s the one where Superman splits into an evil version of himself after being exposed to synthetic kryptonite. He becomes a bit of a horny, juvenile alcoholic. Sure some of the stuff he does is a bit bad, but considering the power he wields he doesn’t go that mental. This got me hoping Brightburn wasn’t just about a moody Mama’s boy going through puberty.

Superman and Clark Kent

To be fair, the trailer made it quite clear the little dude in this film was one step ahead of getting wasted, blowing out the Olympic Torch and straightening out the Leaning Tower of Pisa (Superman III). He is definitely a bit of a psycho, but how far was he really going to go? Was he just going to maim people? Or was this angelic looking kid going to go on full-on Killing sprees? I think there’s a few occasions in the DC comics where Superman goes a bit nuts and even starts killing members of the Justice League, so it was possible that he will go that far?

The Gunn brothers, Mark and Brian, that wrote the screenplay are adamant the film is not based on a ‘bad Superman’, but an already evil alien raised on earth but because I don’t read about films until I’ve seen them, most of this I didn’t really pick up until afterward.

I think I should have observed that statement a little harder while I watched it because I got caught up on this whole Evil Superman parallel, that it was easy to only see the Superman element.

Yes! There’s bunch of references paying homage to Superman from the red cape to the laser beam eyes. Yes! Like the Superman back-story, a baby crash lands on a farm and Mr & Mrs Farmer decide to raise the baby as their own, but you can read more about all those on another site.

Forget for a minute that Brightburn had anything to do with Superman at all.

What got my skin crawling is what’s implied about Brandon’s backstory and what he’s going through. After much consideration, I think Brandon is less like Superman – and more like some killer Wasp-Bee alien, and here’s why.

To give that a little more context, I’m going to start from the scene in the school where Brandon talks about bees and wasps.

By the complex answer he gives his teacher when they’re learning about the Bees and the Wasps Brandon appears to be smarter than the average kid. The other children tease Brandon; he is clearly different to them and maybe they all sense that. I don’t think this scene just makes a point about how smart Brandon is, or how the other kids in the class are bullying him. I think this scene is a big clue about why he landed on Earth and what makes this film stand away from Superman.

I’ll expand on what Brandon talks about to show where I’m coming from; Brandon says about the aggressive nature of wasps and how they don’t have the ability to create hives so they take over existing ones by brute force. True Brood wasps are insects that infiltrate host nests as larvae (like Brandon as a baby) and are raised by the adult hosts (like Tori and Kyle). Cuckoo Bumblebees do the same, but also release pheromones in order to slip past bee security and kill or subdue the queen of entire colonies and take them over, forcing the host worker-hive to feed their offspring.

I think showing him being bullied is by the other kids at school could also be seen as they are poking the wasp nest – so to speak but I won’t get carried away.

When Brandon wakes up in the middle of the night after a seizure, the hidden space-vessel he came in seems to send out psychic messages awakening his powers of strength, flight and speed (not to mention the laser eyes). Later in the film Brandon cracks the psychic code and realises its telling him to TAKE THE WORLD – which he seems to do, like a Cuckcoo Bee takes a colony.

Yeah, from here on in, Brandon starts displaying a whole load of manipulative and twisted behaviour that involves bloodshed and threats – but there’s a fair few indicators that what he’s been going through doesn’t just start after the seizure in bed.

Knowing that despite his innocent appearance, Brandon is not a real human child, Kyle points out the things he’s noticed as they have raised him.

Kyle and Tori discover some magazine clippings which aren’t just teenage-boy-spank-bank material. Beneath a few pictures of bikini models, there’s pictures and drawings of human guts. The notebook that he is always writing in is quite tatted and used up and when we see it later in the film, there’s a lot of disturbing content (even the logo he stamps everywhere is like a rudimentary bee or wasp stamp). It all suggests these are things that have been playing on his mind for a while. It’s not quite as simple as a space-ship talking to him awakening some sudden urge to kill, it seems Brandon has been wondering what people look like from the inside-out, for a lot longer.

Does he want to know our anatomy so he can kill us easily? Does he want to lay eggs in our abdomen? Is he going to eat us when he is done? I mean, when he stuck his finger in the blood on his dying uncles face, I half expected him to lick it off!!

Ok I aren’t clutching at straws here – I can give this Bee-Wasp Alien theory a bit more traction.

Another part of the film that seems to back up the idea of Brandon infiltrating Earth to potentially colonise it, like the Cuckoo Bee, is his interest in Caitlyn. Despite the fact that he crushes her hand, in some sort of controlling and manipulative effort he still wants to pursue her sexually. The reason I specifically say sexually, is because the first thing he does after Kyle ‘gives him the talk (about the birds and the bees‘) is stalk her in her bedroom. It’s more carnal than it is romantic, especially because he actually stalks her. Even after he breaks her hand he is still imposing. Has he intended her as his mate?

Ok so enough about that – one of thee main and most definitive reasons I think Brandon is a Wasp Monster is… The insect-like hooded-mask he wears. I mean, come on, could you get more symbolic than that? He hovers like a wasp, he moves at speed like a wasp, he’s aggressive and parasitic and imposing – he even wears a wasp mask!!

So if I forget for a minute that the word Superman is even remotely related to this little monster, I become extremely creeped out. I reckon Brandon is more likely from a liege of super Wasp Aliens that can morph into their hosts, permeate an entire planet and destroy it with no conscience.

If you think I’m totally off the mark then message me or comment. I’d love to hear it.

…anything but Superman related comparisons!

film. child’s play

MOVIE: Child’s Play

YEAR: 2019

DIRECTOR: Lars Klevberg

WRITER: Tyler Burton Smith

MAIN CAST: Gabriel Bateman, Mark Hamill, Aubry Plaza

RUNNING TIME: 1hr 30min

There are spoilers below…

The year before I was born, Charles Lee Ray possessed a doll and began a murder rampage that lasted over 30 years –

Chucky and Andy

– Chucky was his nickname and was recognised by any kid born in the 90’s; especially since the franchise kept pumping out horror films. Chucky even got married and had a kid (a doll kid)!

Ok, so by the time he had that kid, anyone who saw the original few movies was beginning to get a little bored (to put it nicely) and by the time Cult of Chucky came out, it was nose-diving into box-office-bomb-oblivion.

Then, after all that, comes Child’s Play 2019. Unlike all the other films, which were sequels, this is a reboot. Reboots are different because they’re not direct continuations of a previous story, but a blank slate.

I went to see the contemporary take on my favourite killer toy, and I don’t know what I expected (I’d purposely not even read a synopsis on the new film), but I did not expect what I got.

I was sold. Impressed. I loved it. I thought for a reboot, Child’s Play 2019 is bang on the money.

Instead of a possessed doll, the killer doll in this movie is something like a toy version of Amazon Alexa. Buddi (the new Chucky) is an artificially intelligent Doll. Designed for the modern family, he syncs with all their Kaslan Products. He keeps an eye on the kids, remembers their favourite shows and he is the best friend every kid deserves to have (that’s the sale angle anyways).

Reboots are risky business because there are die-hard fans of the originals who want scrutinise every frame for fault and are pre-dispostioned to hate whatever comes onscreen. I have no time for that and I love a new spin on an old idea.

Chucky Rebooted

Manufactured in a Vietnamese factory, a disgruntled worker decides he’s going to switch off the safety protocols of a Buddi doll, before he throws himself out of a window.

After seeing the Buddi doll may be faulty, a shopper returns it to the store – where a single mum, to a kid called Andy, works. She takes Buddi home and the rest reboot begins… as I said before, there are spoilers here.

The best thing about a reboot is it’s a new start to an already existing fictional universe. It gives other creative minds the opportunity to put their new stamp, on an old idea.

One of my favourite things about this reboot is that it’s taken something implausible (voodoo and possession) and made it plausible (computers, internet, the cloud, artificial intelligence). The “fear of technology” isn’t a new concept when it comes to horror films, but it does help to draw you in when you can conceive the idea as a true possibility.

Lars brings the Chucky Franchise out of the Voodoo age and into the Digital Age. The characters all have phones, the old lady across the hall can finally work Uber and drones are on sale at Zed Mart; If there’s a time to be scared of AI, the time is now.

Chucky and Andy

My second favourite thing about this movie is Andy and his mates. This kinda ties in with the 80’s theme of adventure nostalgia seen in the new IT film and the Stranger Things Netflix series. People are mad for a bit of kids against the world.

I thought the acting was brilliant and the dialogue and interaction with the kids, the adults and even Chucky was believable, engaging and funny. Quite a few times through the film I couldn’t help but think Chucky was the cutest! I even felt sad for Andy and Chucky when Falyn pulled the power source out of Chucky’s chest.

Pugg Falyn Andy Omar

I thought Lars did a smashing job of sharing out the credit while also making the new Child’s Play, new. There were even nods to the original Child’s Play and other popular films from around the same time.

There’s a few little eggs for Child’s Play, the most obvious being the Doll, Andy, his (almost single) Mum and of course the whole thing gets started with a violent death on a stormy night. 

There’s other film references from the very start. The original Orion logo from the start of Robocop and of course Lars even slotted a reference to that in too.

Mark Hamill is the voice of Chucky and played Luke Skywaker in the Star Wars films alongside the character Han Solo. When Andy begins the Buddi set-up he tries to call the doll, Han-Solo. Chucky just names himself completely ignoring the Han Solo suggestion.

Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 is a slasher movie from 1986. About this time, a whole host of slasher-gore films were beginning to pop up where comedy was a staple element. Seeing how everyone finds it hilarious to see Leatherface wearing a victims skin during a scene where Andy and his new mates are having a movie night, Chucky becomes kind of inspired by the violent scenes on-screen and decides to give it a go himself.

Leatherface

From 1988 – the year the original Child’s Play was released, Andy’s Bedroom has posters of Poltergeist III and Killer Klowns from Outer Space.

Andy’s posters

Killer Klowns is another Horror-Comedy. Like in E.T the Extra Terrestrial, another 80’s movie, Chucky’s finger lights up when he is controlling various Kaslan products.

In the 90’s another movie franchise began called Leprechaun, about…. you guessed it, a Leprechaun. Only this Leprechaun is pure psycho killer. Like Child’s Play and Texas Horror, this too is riddled with funny scenes of death and violence. You can see the reference in the Zed-Mart toward the end of the film where there’s the Leprechaun version of the Buddi2 doll and the Pot of Gold accessories.

There’s a couple other eggs hidden in there but you should just have a crack at trying to see them yourself by watching it again.

I know I will be.

It’s the best reboot I’ve ever seen and I am already hoping there’s a sequel.

film. rim of the world

MOVIE: Rim of the World

YEAR: 2019

DIRECTOR: McG

WRITER: Zack Stentz

MAIN CHARACTERS: Jack Gore, Miya Cech, Benjamin Flores Jr., Alessio Scalzotto

RUNNING TIME: 1hr 38min

What a treat of a film this turned out to be.

Rim of the World: Dariush, Zhenzhen, Alex, Gabriel

Rim of the World is about four totally different kids that meet at a summer camp. Abandoned by the adults, it’s up to Alex, Dariush, Zhenzhen and Gabriel to save the world when Aliens invade.

If you watch it close enough you will see that is only one part of what this movie has to offer; there are layers, upon layers, upon layers to this film.

It is stuffed to the ‘rim’ of movie references from the last thirty-odd years making it a relatable, fun flick for adults and kids alike. It’s a mix of Sci-Fi, Horror, Adventure and Comedy genres, and it has absolutely no qualms with throwing every stereotype in the book into the mix.

Recently people have been going mad for the likes of Stranger Things and IT for their nostalgic throwback to the western world’s most favoured adventure blockbusters of the last few decades. Movies like ET, Goonies and Breakfast Club were the backbone of Generation X. Unlike Stranger Things and IT, Rim of the World is set in the present, but with the same sort of adventure format. Generation Z benefits from references of films like Gladiator and Rush Hour and then more recently (for the millennials) Wolverine and John Wick.

Using the same countless politically incorrect inferences we all grew up on; filmmakers have brought contentious issues into the spotlight, instead of hiding them beneath the surface as a cheap gag trick. The main clue that this film is openly commenting on politically charged stereotypes or agendas is when Carl & Logan, the Camp Leaders (who are also “the black men on Campus”) are sitting about the campfire talking about Toy Story 3. It’s not to say that Carl & Logan’s interpretation of Toy Story 3 is true (“the ruling class justification for the inferior conditions of the working class”), but it is how the filmmakers say to the audience, “yes, films are meant to talked about; yes, they have hidden meanings and agendas – including this film; and yes, we know what we are doing – that’s the point”.

I won’t list all of the film references in the movie, I am sure there are a tonne of websites that’ve already made it their mission to; besides, spotting them yourself is part of the fun because for many of them it’s just one line of dialogue or a prop or special effect that’s the reference instead of the actual name of the film.

What I think is so important to take away from the film is its coming of age theme and messages.

The guy that wrote the film, Zack, has mentioned in a few interviews about the emotional importance of the films he grew up on in the 80’s and the lessons they taught him and millions of others. They relied a lot on how kids in the audience identified with what the characters are going through. Childhood traumas like bullying, poverty, grief, peer-pressure or some sort of in-house/domestic abuse are usually used as part of the background info in most of the main character arcs. In Rim of the World, it’s all about abandonment. Alex’s Father died traumatically in front of him, Dariush’s Father is going to Jail, Gabriel’s Father leaves when he’s Ten and Zhenzhen is an orphan – Not to mention they’re all left alone by the ‘adult camp leaders’ when the whole movie kicks off.

Generally the plot of the all these Generation X movies features a Headmaster or Evil Grown-up, a Monster, or in this case Alien, which acts as the metaphor for the main characters’ trauma and how they overcome it is always based on how they pull together and ‘Stand By’ each other; it’s the lessons they learn through their friendship that gives them strength, not just in the immediate battle, but also the one they are fighting at home or school.

Rim of the World packs a LOT into an hour and half. I could mention that I thought the special effects were kind of wooden and I could say the introduction of the characters and even some of the interaction and dialogue sometimes felt awkward and unnatural and I don’t think it’d be hard to disagree with me but, the fact that it’s full of hints and clichés from the last forty years makes me think it’s all of this part of its purposeful charm.

Overall it does well to be its own unique take on western pop-culture. It brings together the last three generations of audiences in a hilarious, albeit crude and obvious, complement of one-liners, shoddy CGI explosions and an evil looking monster, while also facing the crushing trauma of family torment with your best mates at your side.

Nice one Zack.

ten best things Tuesday

Tuesday was my best day, I had thee best time from start to finish.
  1. My morning started with a nightmare… and yes, you may be thinking ‘how on Earth can a great day start with a nightmare?’
It’s because I actually love nightmares. With the same logic of why people go on roller-coasters, go bungee jumping or watch horror films; they do it for a rush. To me a nightmare is like a surprise horror screening in the cinema of your brain… which is kind of apt because I ended up having a whole movie day. Well this nightmare was so bad that it made me bolt upright in bed gasping for air for the first time in a few years. So you can imagine how racy my heart was. The worst thing about this was that there was no way I was getting back to sleep straight away.
  1. The 2nd best thing that happened was to my sweet, scrawny, tiny and very dopey Batcat.
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Scrawny Batcat
For Christmas, I got a cat flap and all the cats, except Batcat, loved it from the first Day. It was like a letterbox for cats. When they figured it out, it was like I could almost hear them saying ‘Mam – this is amazing, it’s our OWN DOOR!’ and they were in and out of it all day and have been since. Batcat on the other-hand was having absolutely none of it. She would cry and cry and cry until I opened the door. Despite my weeks of trying to coax and help her through, she didn’t seem to grasp the whole concept of the flap.
The squad
Keeping Guard – Jessie, Patch, Hugo
So back to my Tuesday morning where I needed a walk around the house with a glass of water to shake off this dream of being chased and eaten by a giant bacteria-worm down my Dad’s street. Not surprisingly, there was Batcat, sitting at the back door whining for me to let her out. So I did, but not before warning her I was going back to bed so she was staying outside. Off she went and off I went, back to bed. So there I was, dozing off and about to re-enter dream hell, when I heard that familiar letterbox noise, not once, not twice, not three times, but over and over and Over and OVer and OVEr and OVER. I threw back my covers, in a rage! What was going on down there?! I stampeded down the stairs ready to find out which of my little furry demons were trying to wind me up. But there, from down the hallway, I could see the tiny paw of my freaky Batcat. I couldn’t believe it, she’d gotten her paw through the flap. Her whole Paw! Suddenly realising this could be the moment I had been waiting for – I stopped. ‘Come on girl, come on – you can do it!’ I coaxed in my softest voice while I crept toward the door, ‘Tsk Tsk Tsk, come on.’ Well, what can I say when I saw that little head come all the way inside I knew she had finally done it. It was like seeing a child walk for the first time, except better cause it was my baby Batcat! She chirped as she came through the cat flap and I scooped her up, giving her the most cuddly cuddle and strokes. It was amazing and easily makes its way into the best thing that’s happened in months… Judge all you like.
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Batcat the ball of fur
So obviously after all this excitement there was no way I was getting back to sleep.
  1. Me and Batcat went back to bed but we decided on a morning movie; The Spy who dumped me.
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The Spy Who Dumped Me
That was my 3rd best thing and I just need to say that every time I watch Mila Kunis in a film, I fall in love with her more and more. She is a great actress and absolutely drop dead gorgeous but she plays it off with such humility. With every film her characters get better and better. Next to her was Kate Mckinnon as her best friend and What. A. Pair… It made me want to call all my best friends and go to Prague…  again.
  1. The 4th was seeing my Family and finding out more about the latest project my Dad was into.
  2. Then taking my little Sister and my baby nephew for food.
  3. I went to see Pet Sematary at Cinema– completely alone.
That’s right, there was nobody else in the screening with me.  I was so excited.
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Pet Sematary
There was a bit of an issue though. I had geared myself up for a heart attack level of scare so bad that I would be white with terror and need an ambulance before the end. I must have ‘bigged it up’ too much though. It was nowhere as terrifying as I thought it would be. I liked the soundtrack a lot, bodies dragging themselves around on wooden floors and bones crunching underfoot in the woods. A few scenes did make me shiver but I could have just been cold.
  1. Then for the 7th event of the day, Costa! I went with a friend and I AM SO GLAD I DID. Obviously after seeing Pet Sematary, Stephen King came up. Then naturally IT came up and my friend casually mentions a metaphor I didn’t notice when I had read the IT book before. I could not let this pass me by (more on this when I read the book). I hadn’t read IT since I was 15, so within minutes, I was furiously tapping away on Ebay.
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    IT
    I’m now impatiently waiting for a copy of IT to make its way to me in the post.
  2. The 8th best thing was A Clockwork Orange at Odeon
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    A Clockwork Orange
  3. Popcorn and Pick ‘N’ Mix.
  4. The 10th best thing of the day though… Recliners.
That’s right, Odeon have done their cinema out in Hull and Oh My Days! There is no other way to watch a film at cinema AGAIN. They have actual, super comfy, recliners in in some of their screens. Oh Man, Oh Mannnnn!! The comfort level was through the roof. I even saw a few people go with blankets – which I am definitely doing next time I go. I don’t think I can leave it very long either. I want to take one of those recliners home with me. It was such a premier experience. Especially seeing A Clockwork Orange on the big screen which, by the way, gets better every time I see it.