Monday, August 28, 2017

20+1 Thoughts I Had While Watching Game Of Thrones

The seventh season finale: 7x07 "The Dragon and the Wolf"

Some of you might have come across my quite harsh review of the first four seasons of Game of Thrones, if not you can read it here. Either way, I kept on watching the show and I seek only one thing: surprise me. If the show takes care of surprising me then I am more than satisfied. The last two season, 6 and 7 that is, were simply great. I am going to go as far as to say that they were the best, not just the soundtrack, the acting, or story-wise, but writing-wise. The fact that the show no longer sought to copy the books but used scripts and it made sure that you did not forget about characters, and that everyone's story went ahead made it finally above average for me. This finally made me care. This raised the stakes. Good writing is crucial. I am happy that the show got this far, but for two or three good seasons I will not necessarily recommend it to people. Nonetheless, finally everything I wanted, and it wasn't much, came together in this season and I decided to write down my thoughts about the finale. Here they are: CONTAINS SPOILERS!

1) Cersei, after everyone arrives and sees the dragons: #UNIMPRESSED

2) We get it Euron, you have a big penis.

3) Jon, aren't you hot?

4) Okay, maybe Euron's penis isn't that big after all. Also, if he hurts Yara I'm going to set someone on fire.

5) "Couldn't you have lied [Jon]?" he would need to know how to act for that to happen. [BURN]

6) "You are not like everyone else." Oh Jon, did you read finally read 'How to pick up women for dummies'?

7) "She might not have been a reliable source of information", well, if she was on the first few pages of google then she definitely was not. #AcademicJoke

8) Omg Petyr and Sansa just kiss already!

9) Theon: "Every step you take" ... ♫ every move you make, I'll be watching you! I wish he would start singing. Wouldn't this episode make for a great musical?

10) How to regain your manhood? Not having something between your legs isn't always a loss, sometimes, it's the best thing you can ask for! #LoveBeingAWoman

11) That smile on Arya like "I didn't even know you were on my list, Baelish." Starks take back control.

12) "I'm a slow learner, it's true. But I learn." THANK YOU! I have loved Sansa since the beginning and I knew it was headed somewhere and I adore it! #TeamSansa

13) NOOOOOOOOOOO! I loved Baelish! He was among my favorite five characters! I screamed out. I haven't done that in years. However, I told my best friend that I will accept it if it is a good death, and dear lord it was beautiful. Seeing just once in his eyes that fear... beautifully done. I will miss him but this was one of the best written scenes in seven years. Goodbye and thank you for all the chaos!

14) Cersei: "The man who murdered our father", okay, okay, okay, I get it, but serious time, he wasn't a very good guy... let it go. Her speech about vulnerability was tough and it made a lot of sense but she is about the only person who misses that monster...

15) Jamie took that "fuck loyalty" advice by Brienne to heart. I like it.

16) I love how everyone complained about the time jumps, and the creators said we don't have to, but honestly, how much time passed? Did snow fall over night? Or was that symbolizing the time passing? Sam has been traveling for two episodes now... how far was he from Winterfell when everyone reaches it within seconds lately? And if this was a longer period, why won't Jon arrive already with those super boats?

17) Bran: "I can see everything. ... why are you here?" That's great. So you only got powers to prove R+L=J, but otherwise they are completely useless. Good to know.

18) Sam's reaction to Bran being the three-eyed raven is the most genuine and lovable moment in seven seasons. "I became the three eyed raven." Sam: "Oh... I don't know what that means." It means he can't act anymore, you'll get used to it.

19) Incest is cool if you like the characters, apparently. Interesting moral lesson :D But f*ck if I'll start asking questions now.

20) "He needs to know." Yes Bran, Jon needs to. But god forbid you send him an effing raven or something.

+) Why is Tyrion staring at Daenary's door all melancholic? Is he in love with her too? Isn't he the one who told her to have an heir? What is going on? You are creeping me out. What is the point of that scene?

And that is all I thought while watching it. I sure hope I get an answer at least to the last one in the next season because I just don't get it. Another thing I don't get is the Night King... like, what do you want? World domination? You can't f*ck, you don't drink, you don't need gold... what is the point of this crusade? I know that it isn't perhaps the show's intent to give the villain a reason for their will to attack but it bothers me nonetheless. Wars can only be fought if both sides believe that they are in the right and how would the night walker army be ever in the right? What is good about having zombies roam around? Just the fact that you can do it? Not to mention that it will not be about a war, but about killing the Night King as we now know that the resurrections only work while he is alive. Despite the fact that I am very curious as to what will happen I wouldn't mind if the army of the dead would open their mouths and say... something. Anything really. 

Interesting season this was. A good one too. A few inconsistencies but man, I think that in this story fast is a good thing.

Until the next item on my list!

Sunday, August 27, 2017

What's Next On My List? The Words

“Will you tell me something? Why would such a beautiful intelligent girl such as yourself wanna be something so silly as a writer? Don’t you know words ruin everything?”

A writer, Clay Hammond, reads out from his book to a wide audience, and in it he details the story of a young writer who finds another man's writings and publishes them as his own. Not only does the burden of stealing persecute him, but he also encounters the man from whom he stole the book.

I adored this movie. I want to be a writer when I grow up. Now, I know that I am not an Ernest Hemingway, I wasn't born for this, but it is what makes me the happiest. I believe that in life you should do what makes you happy and find someone who will pay you for it. I do not wish to tell a story that nobody has never heard of or something that is unprecedented. I don't even wish for worldwide fame, I just want to be able to write. The main character, Rory Jansen, struggles because he wishes for that fame. He knows he is a good writer, but he can't catch a break with every publisher refusing to believe in him. Trust me, publishers can crush a man's dream. I wish to write something that at least someone will want to publish, to be able to hold it in my hands and to show it to my children and say that I did this, I was the author, this is the thing I am proudest of in my life. While watching this movie I could feel every character seeking greatness, seeking a way to create that one thing that will outlive them. For the original author of the book the story was more important than the love of his life. For the one who stole it, he realized that having fame without having earned it is futile. Finally, Hammond, the man who wrote this book with this story is either autobiographical or simply someone who had fallen into the same traps as his character, as he lost his wife, his previous life to the work and the pen he could never put down. There are hints that perhaps this happened to him too, and whether that is the case or not, each men had their own story and own lessons to learn and I have found something endearing and lovable in each one of them: They taught lessons worth learning.

Watch it? I would recommend it whole heartedly. The movie is set up very well, with the three story lines intertwining and raising the stakes at every turn. You might not be a writer, but you cannot help but wonder what is going to happen, what is the moral of the story, where is the tale of the main character headed? And you will not be disappointed when you get the answers.

Until the next item on my list!
_ _ _ _ _

Clay Hammond - Dennis Quaid
Rory Jansen - Bradley Cooper
Dora Jansen - Zoe Saldana
Daniella - Olivia Wilde
Young Man - Ben Barnes
Old Man - Jeremy Irons

Sunday, August 20, 2017

What's Next On My List? Marvel's The Defenders

Well, of course, I watched all eight episodes in one sitting and I was just (pun intended) marveled by the experience that this show provided! Now, before I go into a review about it, I will talk a bout about each Netflix Marvel show first, in order of appearance. If you only wish to read The Defenders review scroll on down to the poster! However, I will include everything you need to know to watch it in case you haven't seen the other series so I advice you to read them!

My take on Netflix shows: Thank god they exist. The fact that people know that they have a fix number of episodes, to write something that has a beginning, a middle and an end has improved American shows tenfold! Usually a show starts, they have a pilot, then six episodes, maybe 13 and if they are lucky they get extended to a full season. If you are a fan you can sit and hope and pray that they get at least one full season to tell the story... that does not always happen, unfortunately. Now, doing it like the British do, ordering a full season at least gives the fans satisfaction, because even if the series does not get renewed, you still have one complete story that you can always re-watch and see just how much better writing and story telling becomes. I am personally super happy that these shows are not on any other channel! I am glad that the internet is giving a helping hand in reshaping the way shows are created and watched.

(Season 1 and 2)

Matthew Murdock (played by Charlie Cox) is a blind lawyer, who has enhanced senses, and deems sight overrated. He fights crime at night because he lives in Hell's Kitchen, one of the worst districts in the big city of New York. In the two season span he discovers that it becomes almost impossible to keep his two lives separate as more and more skeletons start to pop out of the closet. First, he sees his instructor, Stick, a man who has been trying to get him to join a war that can only be won with his help. Second, the love of his life, Elektra Natchios returns into his life and she always had a destructive power over him, he sees the good in her but she wishes to bring out the bad in him [she is very accurate to the comic version]. Finally, someone new arrives, Frank Castle, a man most already know as The Punisher, and he has a detailed conversation with Daredevil about how beating people does not teach them a lesson, only by eliminating them will the streets be rid of the bad guys. Matt is continuously struggling between being patient and wanting to see results, whilst trying to walk his own path without being forced into anything he does not deem morally acceptable.
Review: People have been sh*tting on the movie version of this character for the longest time, and I never understood that... yes, minor details could have been redone, but think about all the Marvel movies that were made before Disney bought them... when you go over it, you'll see that Daredevil is not that bad at all... Now, those minor details have been improved in the TV series and this might be the most important difference and the reason I am glad that Daredevil is not a movie: pacing. A 13 episode season leaves you time to discover a character and see exactly who they are and what they are meant to be. The best way to reintroduce this lovable and great character was through a TV show and I am happy that they did. I always cared for Hell's Kitchen's fate and I honestly hope that at least once Matt will cross paths with Spiderman!

(Season 1)

Jessica (played by Krysten Ritter) is a private investigator, an alcoholic, and a simple girl with super strength. She lost her parents in a car accident, which is also the accident that gave her her powers. She grows up in a family and gains a sister, Trish, who becomes the only person to never give up on her. Jessica encounters a man named Kilgrave, who is able to make anyone do whatever he wishes, but his powers do not seem to work on Jessica anymore. Having been used and abused by him she sets out to make sure he never controls anyone ever again under her watch.
Review: The show is made up as a modern day noir and I loved every second of it. Jessica is a witty, funny, sarcastic... well, bitch, who has no problem with speaking her mind. Of course, she refuses to be considered a hero because she has no gain in being considered someone who has a heart. Staying far from people helps her to avoid conflict and to be able to stay on top of things. It is when feelings get involved that she is most vulnerable, but her weakness is also her strength. She kicks ass for me because she is smart. Of course, being a private investigator you would expect her to be, yet, many times shows fail in that regard and forget the basic qualities of their characters. But, this show did not, and Jessica is by far one of the best characters and the show itself is simply marvelous. I can't wait for the next season.
(Season 1)

The bulletproof man, Luke Cage (played by Mike Colter), escapes prison after experiments are conducted on him which result in his superpower. Luke hides out in Harlem under a new identity, but his wish to help others cannot be suppressed and he sets out to make the city a better place. In the end his demons catch up with him and he has to deal with them, but more importantly, his love for Harlem is never lost sight of.
Review: I did not like the bad guy at all... one thing is his costume that was simply put, urm, unappealing. But other than that, he explained in detail who his beef is with and it was not our main character, yet, he made him out to be the enemy. It was dumb... and I am especially upset about it because otherwise this is an awesome show. Of course, everything is as it is in the comics, it even referenced Luke's original looks and it was logically built up with very intriguing characters. Claire Temple (played by Rosario Dawson) arrives in this series after Daredevil and having met Luke in Jessica Jones, unsure of what to do next but being inspired by Luke to do good no matter what. After Luke is caught in the end and has to go back to prison to finish his sentence, Claire remains to wait for him. This was a great show I just had a hard time taking the villain seriously and that was a bit of a problem for me.
(Season 1)

Danny Rand (played by Finn Jones), is presumed dead by the whole world after the plane crash he was in with his parents. However, he survived and was adopted by a group of monks that trained him in the art of kung fu and after winning a trial, in which he punched the heart of a dragon, he became the immortal Iron Fist, protector of K'un-Lun and sworn enemy of the Hand. The latter he comes across with in New York and decides to fight them to the best of his abilities with those he loves and trusts.
Review: It was not the best out of four, and for one specific reason. Danny was who he was because he is a very optimistic person and I had friends who argued that the actor did not do a great job and I beg to differ. He does justice to the character and you find that out once you see The Defenders too, but even before that, the last 4 episodes of the first season make up for the shortcomings of the beginning of the show. My problem was the enemy... the Hand. Having already seen them, what they are capable of, how they work and how they exist and what they look like once their training is complete, I expected to be shown the same. Now, here they were portrayed completely differently, and although it was important to fool Danny, there was no need to fool the viewer. Actually, okay, they could, but after that, once it was revealed who we are dealing with they should have shown us the face of the Hand the way we already know them. They did so in The Defenders! That is my biggest problem with the series, although there were minor details, I did not mind them because all is well that ends well and the end of the season was great! There is one thing I had questions about, but hopefully it will be answered in the second season!

And now...
(Season 1)

The Hand has reached New York, and has already encountered Daredevil, he fought them with Elektra (played by Elodie Yung). He lost her in the fight and has put down the suit. Danny comes back to New York as his chase for the Hand leads him back here. Luke comes out of prison only to find that crime is still alive and well in Harlem and instead of fighting he decides to help the little guys, but this too leads him to members of the Hand. Finally Jessica takes a case after a long retirement and she finds herself in the same building where all four of them meet for the first time realizing that alone they could not do much to stop them. They hit a few bumps along the road, but in the end they encounter the five fingers of the Hand and face them off to make sure that they are able to save their city.
Review: OH MY GOD. I loved every single second of this show. I have watched it twice already since it came out. I just... first of all, Matt. He becomes be the leader of this team and his trust issues were justified from the beginning. His love for the city is not just something that was emphasized over and over, but it was also a big contributor to the end of the story. Then comes Jessica, who is easily bullied into taking a case, but once she does she doesn't regret it. Luke gets to meet Danny thanks to Claire and Danny finally realizes that he does not have to face the Hand alone. The show kept color coordinating the scenes and it was directed magnificently. It brought back everyone you know and love from the separate series and each character was true to themselves. She doesn't give a shit, he believes in his destiny, he wants to protect Harlem and he wants to avoid a war. The writing was simply magnificent!
Finally, the villain... we have been given enough insight to want to know everything we can about the Hand and all the puzzle pieces finally fit. We re-encounter familiar faces, we are given answers, and we are shown the true intentions of the organization. What I liked about them is that you care for them. Not in the 'rooting for the bad guy' kind of way, but the 'I understand what you are doing, but you are still wrong' kind of way. You admire their tenacity and strength in never stopping and always being a few steps ahead. They are worthy enemies, is all I want to say, and that is important because the villain can make or break a story. The set up of this organization was well thought out and our group of unlikely heroes does their best to defeat them and if the awesome fighting choreography wasn't enough, the jokes and interactions make this even better than The Avengers! THAT'S RIGHT, I SAID IT!

Watch it? Please do. You will NOT be disappointed! I find this to be Marvel at its best. Each series we have been given so far (by Netflix) just raised the bar higher and higher. Now, you have a whole season that, in my opinion, not only delivers but showcases what super hero shows should be like. I want more and more and I thank the writers and creators for this adventure! Season one of The Defenders will always be among my top five favorite stories ever told!

Until the next item on my list!

Friday, August 18, 2017

Blogger: Growing Up With Nora Ephron Movies

"Insane people are always sure that they are fine. It is only the sane people who are willing to admit that they are crazy."

See the problem with growing up with quality movies is that you expect everyone to give you the same level of proficiency... and they won't. The reason for that is that people are unique. People have a way about them that cannot be imitated and despite it being a beautiful thing when it comes to us humans, still... it means that if we lose that star we will never get them back. It was the case with writer Nora Ephron who I consider to be an inspiration in my life and a guide for the kind of stories and characters I want to write. I wanted to take an entry and devote it to her because I did not when she passed away and that is something I have regretted ever since.

"I am continually fascinated at the difficulty intelligent people have in distinguishing what is controversial from what is merely offensive."

The first time I heard her speak was at an evening for Meryl Streep's AFI award and I found her to be hilarious. That was when I looked up just who she was and found her name under every movie I deem to be a masterpiece. Not only do I find these movies particular jewels, but they almost all belong exclusively to that small category of movies that I am willing and able to re-watch over and over again without ever getting bored of them. If I ever make it as a screenwriter in this competitive world where everyone wants to be famous and recognized I know who I am going to thank for teaching me how to write about stories everyone will remember.

"I try to write parts for women that are as complicated 
and interesting as women actually are."

And see, this isn't about fame for me. Just think about this: I came to know about Ephron through a funny speech... it wasn't because I have heard about her once and then looked up her work. She was probably very famous by the time I realized that almost all of my favorite movies were written by her. I did not even think all of this could come from one person and boy was I wrong... the minute I connected the dots it just made me laugh out loud. I should have figured it out way sooner!
Look at the posters, I'm sure you'll recognize most of them. Many of these are not your average romantic comedies. I have been driven by the depth of layers some of these characters have. First, Silkwood is about a woman who slowly gives up her will to live as everything plays against her. In When Harry Met Sally you are witness to some of the best dialogues in movie history with scenes that are quoted almost on a daily basis. Mixed Nuts is my favorite Christmas movie of all time and it has perhaps the most imperfect characters having the perfect holiday.

"Beware of men who cry. It's true that men who cry are sensitive to and in touch with feelings, but the only feelings they tend to be 
sensitive to and in touch with are their own."

When it comes to movies from the 90s, well, you have a very long list of quality movies. Most of these, I am certain, will be remade in the near future by some idiot who thinks they can make it better. They can't... Think about You've Got Mail: the magic of internet dating is has changed so much that you will never be able to compare it to the innocence of this adorable movie. Not to mention taking a classic like Bewitched (1964) and paying homage to it in a way that does not try to overwrite the original but let everyone know about it who did not before. And I decided to mention these two because they are, in fact, remakes. What sets them apart is that they got the idea from an earlier script and then it elevated them onto a level of its own, making them perfect without you knowing the source material. Many times remakes fail because people add something unnecessary assuming that everyone knows the original and they can't match it - indeed they can't, so why remake them? Getting back, however, to her movies, on my list of worthy mentions is the complicated relationship of Julie & Julia, which is something to learn from... our idols might not always turn out to be who we thought they were, but if they inspire us in any way then we should take it and make the best of it.

"What my mother believed about cooking is that if you worked hard and prospered, someone else would do it for you."

People know some, others know all of these movies. If you wish to become a screenwriter than I suggest you make sure that you read as much as you can from Ephron because I guarantee that your writing will improve. It will improve a great deal! Most movies I believe fall short because you need to have characters who show they have a real personality even if they only speak a couple of words. You don't need to know who they went to high school with but make sure you give them something that is solely about them and something that advances their story. This is what you will find in all of these movies and that is what every writer should focus on. Everything she wrote and everything she said had an impact on me and taught me something about life. She wrote about mothers, daughters, sisters, lovers who all had hard times but overcame them. Either with laughter or by simply being as persistent as they could be. 

I wish Ephron was still around to write because I can tell you that we have a shortage of good writers out there... actually, no, that isn't true. Most writers are great and their ideas are overwritten by the people who write the checks, but she had an impact and a voice that people listened to and it is that influence that is missing. Either way, as long as people make movies out of books or shorts or scripts from women writers there is hope for us yet!

Make sure you check out all of her movies!

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Blogger: 20 Years of Placebo


Do you have a band who you don't call your favorite right off the bat, but have to admit that you care for them deeply and they have accompanied a huge chunk of your life and are, somehow, always there? Over the years I have realized that at every turn or corner I bumped into Placebo when I least expected it. Either on the radio or on MTV, you know, back when it played music... sometimes it was in the soundtrack of a show, or someone posted a song by them on Facebook and I would listen to it and say, hey, I want more. It was about a year ago that I realized that all of my life there was this one band that was always there... for me, in a way. 

♫ "Carve your name into my arm
Instead of stressed I lie here charmed
Cause there's nothing else to do
Every me and every you."

When I heard that they are coming to Budapest for their 20th anniversary, on November 11th of 2016, and I just knew I couldn't miss it. I just knew, this was going to be the concert of my life. I just knew, and that hunch, that excitement in my stomach turned out to be right tenfold! But I am getting ahead of myself, let's go back just a bit. When I was about nine I remember seeing Special K on TV, on a Sunday, and the song was a new experience, something I have not, well, experienced before. In the video there is a tiny ship, driven by singer Brian Molko, traveling inside someone's body, ex-drummer Steve Hewitt, and... strangely enough that is exactly how the music moved through me. The music video isn't much, but it does elevate the song in a way and it just stuck with me.

♫ "Every step we took that synchronized
Every broken bone
Reminds me of the second time
That I followed you home
You showered me with lullabies
Had you walking away
Reminds me that its killing time
On this fateful day."

Soon I came across The Bitter End which up to today is one of the most pleasant experiences as far as a music videos are concerned for me. The way they play music in that huge dish antenna is simply breathtaking. The years pass and the songs become more important to me as I listen to them over and over again... Running Up That Hill was featured in the first episode of season four of The O.C., then I heard Post Blue on One Tree Hill, after which I remember finding Meds (to which I only listen to if I can blast it at the loudest volume to the pleasure of all my neighbors!). For my sixteenth birthday I got their best of album [which celebrated 10 years of Placebo] because it was the top item on my list and it was then that I fell in love with Without You I'm Nothing, which features the wonderful David Bowie. I only saw Cruel Intentions years later, but I immediately recognized Every You Every Me and I remembered it was featured in the movie when the concert began with the unreleased promo videovideo made for it. Then Brian and Stefan Olsdal came out and started playing for us.

[Brian:] "Welcome, ladies and gentlemen and those of you who find themselves in between. There is more of you out there than you think. And some of you don't even know it yet!"

I'm fairly certain that it was after this moving, funny, and very truthful welcoming that I realized why I love this band so much. They let you be yourself and they do that with music. There is an unspoken acceptance between the band and its fans and that is purely magical. Their style and stories are beyond comparison. There is rock, pop, alternative, slow, fast, and lyrics that are out of this world. Not to mention the music videos that I have talked so much about already... and then the covers! Oh, my god, there is rarely any band that can take a song that you know by heart even and then elevate it to a whole other level! Their newest one is Life's What You Make It, which was originally a song by Talk Talk. I believe that other than the major "F*ck You" intended for the new president of the United States, embedded in Infra-Red at the end, Stefan's rainbow guitar and Brian stopping to take of his new boots because it hurt his legs, my favorite thing about the concert were those above forty fans who came and stood in the front and sang all the songs!

♫ "Want you so bad I can taste it,
but you're nowhere to be found.
I'll take a drug to replace it,
or put me in the ground."

Twenty years is a legacy. And twenty years were achieved at a time when music has shaped and changed so much... the group itself has changed considerably as Brian Molko and Stefan Olsdal remain the only members who have been present from the start. In the background the drummers have changed, including Robert Schultzberg, Steve Hewitt, and Steve Forrest. On concert of course the band enlarges and they play a variety of instruments, including my favorite: the violin. And oh boy do the have a great violinist! The concert was over two hours long and they came back twice, ending with Running Up That Hill, which started to play for almost two minutes before they came back on stage and I just screamed, so hard, so loud, I had not voice by the end but I just couldn't contain myself. They played all of my favorite songs, from Exit Wounds (check out my recording down here!) to Too Many Friends, with all the classics and even their new song Jesus' Son.

Placebo I find really has something for everyone. I can firmly say that having seen them live was one of the best experiences of my life. They often come to Hungary, so I can assure you, this might have been the first, but it definitely wasn't the last time I saw them. I am lucky to have shared the Earth with this band and I am certain that my path and their music will cross each other very soon. Let that be because of the lyrics, or the music video, or the melody... those beautiful melodies that beat at the rhythm of your heart. These guys know how to put up a show and they sure know music. I will be waiting for what is next anxiously while listening again to my favorites. In my heart I thank them for having accompanied me so far on this adventure, this so called life, and the time I have spent on Earth. It wouldn't be nearly as magical without their music!

You can check out my photos of the concert by clicking on the picture above!

Friday, August 11, 2017

Homework Assignment: Flash Fiction - A New Trend in Literature

Okay, I have to admit, that my teacher and I had a disagreement over this paper. My assignment was to write an argumentative essay. I used descriptions as arguments, which he said made the essay descriptive instead of argumentative. I have written hundreds of argumentative essays by now and my arguments have never been brought into question by any of the teachers. I do not understand why we had this disagreement and it genuinely bothers me. There was more to be written on this topic, however, I am happy with what I wrote and thus I want to share it here. Let me clear up something: I can take criticism. I understand if my paper is bad and if the teacher disagrees with some of my points, but (look at the irony) his arguments as in why it wasn't what he wanted weren't very clear. At two points he argued that there was more that I could have said, and I agree. Still, he made me feel pretty bad about what I wrote and instead of telling me how to improve it he just handed it back. It wasn't a good teaching moment, is all I'm saying, because I do want to improve my essay! Criticism would have helped me in this crusade. This is another reason why I decided to post it: if any of you readers out there can help me make it better, please do!
This is a short story by Stephen King entitled "Night Surf", which was published in the collection of stories Night Shift. In it I argue that the beach was a metaphor for death... to this the teacher said, that yeah, of course, as water can be both death and life, to which I answered yes, it can. However, this IS my argument: that in this story it stands for death. See... I still don't get what the problem was as I included a counterargument as well, pointing out I understand the ambiguity of this figure of speech. But, enough about that, read on if you want to know what I wrote:
_ _ _ _

The Beach in King’s “Night Surf
            Stephen King’s post-apocalyptic tale was published in the Night Shift collection of stories in 1978. The short story in question is about a group of friends who spend their days at the beach as the rest of the world was wiped out by a flu epidemic caused by the virus A6. The story is presented to the readers through the eyes of the main character, Bernie, a bittersweet man who recalls his memories of the world before the epidemic hit. He is unhappy and uneasy about their situation and keeps comparing the past to the present. The following essay will argue that the setting of the beach in the novella is an allegory for death and that it can be interpreted as a “terminal beach”. For this purpose, the two versions of the beach within the story will be compared to each other. The essay will also highlight how the text plays with the idea of life and death throughout the story by using the metaphor of the ocean.
            Stephen King has utilized the beach’s landscape in some of his stories, such as the world of Dark Tower, The Talisman (1984) set in Arcadia Beach, New Hampshire; Duma Key (2008), which is set in Florida; and another short story, The Dune (2015). Most of King’s books are set in the small towns of Maine, his home state, and because of that, the stories that deal with or are situated at the beach are limited. Water is still an important element in his books, but in many cases, beaches are substituted by lakes, an example would be Dark Score Lake featured in the Bag Of Bones (1998) collection of short stories. Because the stories set near the sea are limited, it is easy to draw comparison between them. However, the above mentioned stories required the setting to be near water, and the beach itself somehow remained in the background. That was not the case with the “Night Surf, where the beach, the water and the surf are active components of the story.
It is extremely hard to argue on the definition of allegories and metaphors, as their purpose is to signify something that the authors deliberately decide to keep hidden. In order to argue for the bleak setting of this short story there is a need to draw comparison between different authors (Boys-Stones 153). In Victorian stories, the beaches were simply patches of sand next to the sea. With time, however, they became synonymous with holidays and leisure (Kluwick and Richter 21). The beach as an encounter of men and women from different classes gave rise to both embarrassment and “sexual excitement” (23), which provided material for satires of the age. Just this small description entails that the connotations of the beach were positive for a long time. Nonetheless, there are beaches that are not meant for bathing and those shores where the waves beat the rocks remorselessly were metaphors for danger (31). The beach was a recurring background in literature, many 20th century crime novels used the slippery rocks of the sea-side for the intentional or accidental death of characters. The idea of the beach being a dangerous setting instead of a joyful place was not uncommon, examples of it include The Sea, The Sea by Iris Murdoch (1978), Beside the Sea by Véronique Olmi (2001), or another apocalyptic tale “When We Went To See The End Of The World” by Robert Silverberg (1972).
            The beach is also an interesting setting, as there is nothing to hide there. King is known for choosing landscapes that entail a form of mystery; places like woods engulfed in mists and dark towns where characters can hide. By setting the story at the beach everything is seen in plain sight. For the apocalyptic setting of the story it was vital to have an open space that enhances the idea that the protagonists are alone in the world.
The setting of the story is a landscape that is not unknown for the main characters. “I used to come to Anson Beach a lot when I was still in high school” (King 65), Bernie the main characters says about the place where the story takes place. They arrived to the beach only recently, as there is no mention of the group of friends having stayed here longer than the extent of the tale. The short story presents us with two beaches, one is the present state of the beach and the second is the one in the main character’s memories. It is important to draw a comparison among the two as they are very different. The first describes an inhabited place where nature has taken over and which was left by mankind. Bernie describes how the place was always filled with trash as men came and always left something that reminded them of life: “But now all the dirt and all the crap was gone. The ocean had eaten it, all of it, as casually as you might eat a handful of Cracker Jacks” (60) and “the deserted lifeguard tower stood white and skeletal” (61). This image immediately makes the reader uneasy, as it describes something both peaceful and horrifying. Nature went on living without mankind, without the “[t]ourists, picnickers, runny-nosed kids and fat baggy grandmothers with sunburned elbows” (60). In the beginning of the story the friends burn a man who had contracted the virus. One of them jokes around saying that maybe this sacrifice will bring them good luck. Although the rest of the friends do not think much of it, it is interesting to see that the nature that surrounds them was given God-like qualities, by this it becomes an active participant in the story. King himself said once: “I've written a lot of books about teenagers who are pushed to violent acts” (Spignesi 119), and this is an example of it. The death of that man remains with Bernie all throughout the story, and his death establishes the mood of the story from the beginning to the end.
The beach, shore or bay is most commonly used in romantic context. One example would be The Great Gatsby, where the romantic setting of the bay is made more attractive by highlighting the harshness of the city; this is also true for Farewell My Love where it isn’t New York City but Los Angeles that duels with the calmness of the beach opposed to the chaotic city (“Symbolism”). However, in King’s short story it is the same beach at two different moments in time that are dueling. Not to mention that here, in the apocalyptic setting of the story, it is the calmness that makes the beach or shore unattractive, and it is the memories of a chaotic beach life that cause comfort: “Candy wrappers and popsicle sticks in the sand, all the beautiful people necking on their beach blankets, intermingled stench of exhaust from the parking lot, seaweed, and Coppertone oil” (King 60).
The symbolic the idea that the ocean is a barrier or a border can be observed. One interpretation of the story could be the main characters wondering the world and have arrived to a point where there is no more. They have arrived at the end of their journey, “There was nothing to see but the restless, moving humps of the waves, topped by delicate curls of foam” (King 64). The beach is terminal not only because one of them having contracted the virus will probably infect them, but because there is no place to go from there. The foam, however, might have a reference to Aristotle, who says of Aphrodite that “You were born of the foam of the sea” (Brittan 23). The story keeps playing with both positive and negative connotations of the sea; in one moment it can bring about life and the next it can bring about death. But the sea is most commonly referred to as the place that generates life (“Symbolism”); it is interesting to observe how this was inverted in the short story. The argument for the inversion comes from the fact that nothing new is born from them staying on the beach. Alfred Tennyson described the sea as a representation of “the eternal life from which the human soul came, and to which it would return” (Kluwick and Richter 22), and it can be said that this return has occurred. The ocean itself is usually used as a metaphor for a journey that is about to begin, something that has to be conquered, a place that has to be crossed rather than a place that can be inhabited (“Symbolism”). However, in the story this never occurs.
The beach is more commonly referred to as a peaceful place, even in the narrative. Bernie says “Kelly and Joan had wandered off. I could see them down by the edge of the water, walking with their arms around each other's waist. They looked like an ad in a travel agent's window” (King 63); this image is very positive in comparison to that of an ocean slowly eating away at everything that is human. Bernie says: “And if we were the last people on earth, so what? This would go on as long as there was a moon to pull the water” (64), establishing again that nature will keep on living without men.
It is interesting to compare the warmth of the memory of the place – “We had walked along the boardwalk in front of this place, barefoot, the boards hot and sandy beneath our heels” (65), to that of the present where Bernie describes standing in the sand as “damp and packed” (64). All throughout the story, Bernie is mean to his girlfriend, Susie, while he recalls dating someone else when the beach was still a warm welcoming place.
In the background, the surf is always active, the main character often finds himself staring at it, saying that “[t]he surf pounded and smashed. High tide,” (65) and that it was “coming in, coming in, coming in. Limitless. Clean and deep” (67). It could very well signify the passing of time as well as showcase that it is always in motion, as opposed to the main characters who are now stuck in this reality. Bernie says that despite everything, he doesn’t want to die. Before the end of the story he stands in the door of a balcony, feeling the cold breeze of the sea against his body (64), but again, it is cold. Whilst the last sentence recalls that summer with his former girlfriend, which he describes saying that “the air had been hot, the sand bright, the sun like a burning glass” (67). The description of the beach as cold or hot is another allegory for life vs. death. The main characters are alive, but they might as well be dead. Bernie even notes that they are already thinking of shelter and that “[n]obody should think about winter in August. It's like a goose walking over your grave” (King 64). Their priorities have shifted as the world has changed. Again, winter suggests cold, and in the short story, cold was a repetitive connotation to an unwelcome present. It is unclear if it is the different girlfriend or simply the bustle in the background that makes the memories much more pleasant.
In conclusion, King places the main characters at an inhabited beach that is the source of many good memories of the protagonist. The story keeps drawing comparison between how the beach was before the outbreak of the virus compared to how it is now. The memories are warm whilst the present is cold in the interpretation of Bernie. The story plays with comparing a bright summer afternoon to the never ending motion of the ocean that was not influenced in anyway by the apocalypse surrounding it. While everything in Bernie’s memory faded away, and even the trash on the beach was devoured by the ocean, the surf still comes tirelessly.

Works cited:
Boys-Stones, George R.. Metaphor, allegory, and the classical tradition. Ancient thought and modern revisions. Oxford, 2005. PDF.
Brittan, Simon. Poetry, Symbol, and Allegory: Interpreting metaphorical language from Plato to the present. University of Virginia Press, 2003. PDF.
King, Stephen. Night shift. Anchor, 2008. Ebook.
Kluwick, Ursula, and Virginia Richter. The Beach in Anglophone Literatures and Cultures: Reading Littoral Space. Routledge, 2016. PDF.
“Symbolism of Place: 2. Natural Places.” Symbolism.Org. N.p., n.d. <> Accessed 19 March 2017.
Spignesi, Stephen J. The essential Stephen King: a ranking of the greatest novels, short stories, movies, and other creations of the world's most popular writer. Career Press, 2003. PDF.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

"First Step" Behind The Scenes

Az angol verzióit lent találjátok!/Scroll down for the English version!

Olyan három vagy négy évvel ezelőtt leültem a gép elé azzal, a gondolattal, hogy nem 30 éves koromban kéne arról írnom, hogy milyen volt húszon évesnek lenni. Ebből felbuzdulva készült három novellám és a második kisfilmem, ami egy kérdéssel foglalkozik: Merre tovább?

Eddig mindegyik művemmel azt akartam hangsúlyozni, hogy erre a kérdésre nincsen helyes válasz. Manapság a húszon évesek nehezen találják a helyüket mert túl sok dolog között választhatnak, és ezzel egyidősen meg ugyanolyan nyomás alatt vannak, mint, amikor annyi opció volt csak az ember előtt, mint "mész-e egyetemre vagy nem". Fontosnak tartom, hogy mindenki képes megtalálni a helyét a világban amennyiben megadjuk neki a lehetőséget, hogy meg is kereshesse

Két évvel ezelőtt egyik kisfilmemben egy baráti társasággal foglalkoztam, akik mind máshol tartanak az életben és félnek, más nem értheti meg a gondjaikat, és csak a végére jönnek rá, hogy mind igenis egy hajóban eveznek (A 23. Oldalon). Az idei kis művem a "Első Lépés" egy lányról szól, akit körül vesznek barátok, család és szeretet, de van rajta egy fajta nyomás, ami ellen kitartóan harcol. Én úgy gondolom, hogy akkor is ha néha emlékeztetnie kell magát arra, hogy még bőven van ideje - és van is -, hogy megtalálja magát akkor nem lesz baj.

Természetesen nem én akarom megmondani, hogy ki, hogyan interpretálja a kisfilmet. Sőt, remélem, hogy minél több réteget fognak benne találni a nézők és mindenki maga fogja levonni a történetből azt, ami neki fontos. Ami számomra a legszórakoztatóbb volt az írásban az a kisebb karakterekkel játszani. Képesnek lenni átadni a személyiségük, erősségeik vagy gyengeségeiket csak abban a pár mondatban, ami illeti őket. Fantasztikus kaland volt. És mindig öröm, amikor a színészeim szeretik és átveszik, megtestesítik és végül életre keltik a karaktereket, akiket papírra vetettem. A két főszereplőm pedig már díjakat is nyertek gimi és egyetemi dráma fesztiválokon, szóval nem aggódtam miután rájuk osztottam a szerepet. Ami a forgatást illeti, csak három napot vett igénybe a sok szereplő miatt és hát nem nagyon van budget, ezért olyan helyen forgattunk, ahol a fény viszonyok miatt kötött volt a kezünk. De már egy összeszokott csapat vagyunk, sokadik éve készítünk kisfilmeket és őszintén remélem, hogy nem ez volt az utolsó!

A kisfilm a bejegyzés végén megtalálható!

About three or four years ago I sat down with the intent to write something. I realized that I shouldn't wait until I am thirty to write about what it was like to be in my twenties. Out of this will to write I got three short stories out of me and two short films that deal with one simple question: Where to next?

Up until now all of my works have focused on reassuring others that there is no right answer to that question. Twenty-some year olds today have a hard time in my opinion because although with so many options at hand they are certain to find their purpose, still... there is the same pressure on them to find the right one at first try. I honestly believe that everyone can find themselves if they are given the time they require.

Two years ago I made a short film in which a group of friends are seeking their place whilst afraid of having problems nobody can understand. The story resolves with them realizing they are very much in the same boat (On the 23rd Page). This year I made "First Step", a story about a girl who is surrounded by family and friends, but feels the pressure around her. Nonetheless, she does not give up fighting against it. And I believe that if she reminds herself that there is time to find herself - and there is -, she will.

Of course, I do not wish to tell anyone what the moral of the story is. Actually, I hope that the more people see it, the more interpretations they will come up with. I want to let the viewer find what is important for them within the story. For me the most fun was writing the small characters. It was fun to discover how can I convey their personality - strengths and weaknesses alike - in just those few sentences they utter. It was quite the adventure! It is a pleasure to then see my actors bring them to life, knowing well that they only existed on paper until then. The two main characters on the other hand were played by actor friends of mine who had won awards for acting in high school and university, so I knew I was in good hands. As far as filming was concerned, we had no budget again, so it took three days to assure that the light is the same in every shot. But our group works like a well oiled machine after all these years of shooting together, and hopefully this wasn't the last!

Rontások/Bloopers (sorry, it's in Hungarian...):
_ _ _ _ _ _ 

ZSU - Kutas Orsolya
BÁTY - Gács Bence
NŐVÉR - Kadosa Nikolett
BARÁT - Novacsek Zsófia
SZERELEM - Petrák Fanni
VŐLEGÉNY - Mórász Balázs
TOMI - Lőrincz Lénárd

Írta és rendezte/Written and directed by:
Susan E. Csorba

Operatőr és vágó/Cameraman and editor:
Váczi Zsombor

Végh Zoltán
Őszi Borbála

Köszönet/Thanks to:
Vörös Eszter

Budapest, Hungary, 2017. Csorba Maci & Váczi Zsombor co-production.

Friday, August 4, 2017

My 10 Favorite TV Show Characters

Have you ever watched a show because of an actor or a character or one specific storyline while you did not care at all about the rest of the show? Well, actually, that might just be me... nonetheless too many times have I continued to watch a show just because of one character. This list on the other hand is made of all of those characters that were within awesome shows, which in return elevated their stories. I wanted to do this list because it is sometimes the death of certain characters that makes me want to write my novels and scripts. It was actually the death of one of these ten that got me working on my very first script over ten years ago. Good writing makes great characters and the ones I'm going to talk about now had a major impact on my life and the way I look at character development within stories.

10) Maggie Ryan (Pan Am)

"I didn't realize having principles made me simple. Thank you for the education."

This was unfortunately a short show, getting canceled after just 14 episodes, nonetheless, just within those few Maggie Ryan (played by Christina Ricci), completely evolved into a whole other person. She was very superficial and the girls around her made her grow into a woman who she was meant to be. She is a strong woman in a world that is governed by men. She is supposed to accept that she is just an object who solely exists for the pleasure of others. But Maggie takes charge and makes sure that whoever crosses her away will remember her for the rest of her life. I for one fell in love with her character and am happy that, even if for just 14 episodes, I got to see her journey. (Click here to read my review on Pan Am!)

9) Erin Lindsay (Chicago PD)

"Is it wrong that I'm kind of relieved that I'm the one who killed him?"

This show has worked it's place into my heart right after the first episode and Sophia Bush's character went through a lot... like a whole lot since the beginning. Her past never leaves her and it was inspirational how she kept on fighting to stay above the water that kept trying to drown her. Not to mention that when she kicked someone's ass, a rapist, or a killer, or a maniac it was incredibly satisfying to watch! Just delightful! Strong women being kick ass at their jobs! I love this show so much and her character was amazing, probably the best in the whole cast.

8) Danny 'Danno' Williams (Hawaii Five-0)

“You know, for a woman who died in a car bomb 20 years ago, 
you are remarkably put well together.”

This show is very serious, yet, there is a Superman & Batman friendship in it that is made up by Danny Williams (played by Scott Caan) and Steve McGarrett (played by Alex O'Loughlin), which makes for great laughs. What I love about this character is not just his sense of justice, but his journey as a father. During the biggest chunk of the series he was the only character to have children and the love he showed his kids was touching. He too kicks ass and it is very welcoming and exciting when he does. Nonetheless, he is a dad above everything else and the way he loves his family and friends is wonderful in my opinion. He is also hilarious.

7) Galina 'Red' Reznikov (Orange Is The New Black)

“I never liked this woman. She puts cream in her carbonara. It’s vulgar.”

When it comes to Netflix shows, you have to admit that if it wasn't for the success of OITNB then we wouldn't have so many new shows, each better than the other, I must admit. And when it comes to OITNB, well, let's be honest, you love the side characters a lot more than the main ones, don't you? My favorite has got to be Red (played by Kate Mulgrew), the relentless cook with back pain who just says it like it is. She cares for her girls and she can throw down with the toughest of them. She is an inspiration (despite the being in jail thing...)!

6) Rayna Jaymes (Nashville)

"Well that wasn't very smart, but it sure was brave."

I just f*cking love this show. Here is the key ingredient: communication. When one character asks someone 'What's wrong?' they don't run away pouting and crying and ignoring and dragging things out for three to four episodes... instead they have a problem, they talk about it, they discuss what is happening and how to resolve it and they behave like real people and not talking and walking clichés. And the music, oh... where do I start with the praise of this show, honestly, every episode is a home run for me! The heart and soul of this show was played by the spectacular Connie Britton, she was none other than the country artist Rayna Jaymes. It was her that made me want to write this list in the first place because I felt a connection to her character that I rarely feel. This list was born out of me looking through my favorites and looking for characters like her, who simply took the show their were in ahead.

5) Chloe O'Brian (24)

"Yeah, well, shrinks are always giving advice that they probably don't follow themselves." 

24 is a great show, I don't have to tell you that, you know already yourself. But when I talk about it to people I always have to admit that I started to actually love it from the third season on. The first was good, the second was tooo much for me, but the third... I rewatch it up to today. And it was here that I was first introduced to a character who would become my favorite for years to come, Chloe O'Brian, played by Mary Lynn Rajskub. She too went miles from her first scene to the last. It was incredibly fun to accompany her on this journey and what touched me above everything else was her loyalty to Jack Bauer. When you take a closer look to the relationship of these two you will see the kind of natural friendship that is based on respect. It is the kind of relationship that I have with my male friends and it was great to see that for once there was no love story unnecessarily forced on the viewers. She is definitely one of the most interesting characters out there, and one of the most relateable ones when it comes to crisis situations like the ones dealt with in 24. *Note: I have not seen the 12 episode mini series that was done in London. A friend of mine told me what they did with her character and I got so upset that I never watched it. Her story for me stretches from the third to the eighth season and that is it.

4) C.J. Cregg (The West Wing)

"Everybody's stupid in an election year, Charlie."

I grew up with The West Wing. I am fairly certain it is this show where most of my English knowledge comes from. Having grown up with it I am very much interested in politics and political science as a whole and have tried to focus my studies on it. Now, this show is simply a masterpiece. It will remain one of the best shows ever made out there and for good reason. Honestly, I loved all the characters, still, the little girl in me looked up at the fierce, brave and strong woman that Allison Janney played. She too had quite the journey in the show, of which she was a part of for the whole seven season run. The last episode before the finale of the seventh season just focused on her and where her life was headed after the journey of the White House and it is my favorite episode up to today. She cared so much for her job that a life without it scared her, but there was much more to be done and she had to learn that. I like that there is an admittance that we never stop learning and if that isn't a great message for any viewer out there, than I don't know what is. There would be no show without this character, I can guarantee that!

3) Ryan Atwood (The O.C.)

"Let me tell you something, okay? Where I'm from, having a dream 
doesn't make you smart. Knowing it won't come true? That does."

We all like bad boys, it is an unnatural attraction that drives women for some reason. The best thing about this bad boy is that... he is not. Ryan, played by Ben McKenzie, will punch the shit out of you if you hurt anyone he loves, but otherwise he just wants to do something in his life that matters. This is very important because most of us are looking for a purpose in life and rarely do we find it, unfortunately. And if there is no real purpose then we just want to make sure that our life wasn't in vain. This kid was born into a neighborhood and a family that should have set the course of his future before it begun. However, he did not let that stop him after life finally gave him a break for once. All of us in our lives are given one chance to change everything and it is recognizing that chance that makes the difference. Ryan was perhaps not a singular character, as we like stories where one grows into the person they can be, but to me he was one of the first ones and thus he is very close to my heart.

2) Tony Almeida (24)

"I don't have to establish position, I've already got it. Now what do you say we stop wasting time arm wrestling here. I respect your opinion, but we're going to disagree from time to time and when we do, we're gonna do it my way."

Tony Almeida, played by Carlos Bernard, was one of the best written characters in TV history in my humble opinion. First, his ability to step up in a crisis. Second, keeping a level head and being able to judge good from bad. Third, his undying love for his wife Michelle. That one always got me. He put his whole life up just to make sure he gets revenge for her death. He gets so consumed in pain and hatred that he sometimes loses sight of the good person he promised he would be and I can relate to that... on a strange level I understand that grief sometimes takes over logical thinking. Tony's death was directly responsible for my first movie script, and I have written a big review on his character which you can read if you click here! *I am yet to see 24: Legacy where his character is set to return.

1) Abby Lockhart (ER)

"Well, I do know that if you dress your baby like some sort of designer accessory, you're headed for problems. But don't worry. I work in the ER, so I'll be there to take care of her when she comes in, 14, pregnant, with a drug overdose."

You already know I love her as I have written an intensive review on the nine years Maura Tierney spent playing this character (click here to read it!). She was the best part of ER for me and I still today there is always something I learn from her. All the odds were against her and even when she gave in to the pain, she still fought her way back to the top. To me, losing sometimes does not mean we are weak... it means that we were strong for too long. She is a great example of that.

All these characters taught me something and they made their shows better! Who are your favorites?

Until the next item on my list!