Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Beautiful Creatures - Movie Review

All things seem to go in phases in the mainstream entertainment industry.  For a while Vampires ruled the world of entertainment. Although, for the die-hard Vampire enthusiasts, bloodsuckers always have and always will rule! However, it seems that Witches might be the new Vampire. This is good news for me, since my book, “The Forsaken” dabbles in magic. Perhaps my book couldn’t come out at a better time.
When I think of Witches, I think of the Salem Witch Trials, I think black cats, All Hallows Eve, superstition, and black magic. I don’t think of English kids goofing off with a wand saying, “Oh, gee whiz, magic is fun!” Don’t get me wrong Harry Potter is a brilliant series, and J.K. Rowling has a unique voice that makes her books rather entertaining. But after all, it is written for a young audience; hence the true darkness of Witchcraft is lost. Never fear, if you’re like me, and you like your Witches on the dark side, there is still hope.
“Beautiful Creatures” by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl is book one in “The Caster Chronicles”, a Young Adult series. Although I haven’t yet read the books I did see the film, and am happy to report that dark magic is on its way back.
Set in a small backwoods town in South Carolina, the film begins with the male lead, (this is his story really) Ethan Wate, played by Alden Ehrenreich. (I like having the movie start with the guy since it makes it feel like a general film instead of a chick flick) He’s bored with his life claiming: “There are only two kinds of people in Gatlin, those who are too stupid to leave, and those who are too stuck to move.” Not wanting to be trapped in this dead end town for the rest of his life, he dreams of something more.
Then enters the dark mysterious new girl in town, who as it happens is the same girl he’s been having ominous recurring dreams about. Her name is Lena Duchannes, played by Alice Englert. Drawn to each other by some unexplained force they start to fall in love. Ethan discovers that Lena is a “Caster” (essentially a Witch with a cooler name). It turns out she has been dreaming of him, too. At first their romance seemed a little forced because of the need to speed things up for a two hour movie, but over time the character’s natural chemistry made the relationship believable. They even have a fight, a real one, which is refreshing because reality couples fight all the time, especially teenage ones. Neither of the two leads is very attractive in my opinion, but they seemed to fit the characters well, and you grow to like them as the film goes on.
Of course there are the typical popular girls who treat Lena as the outcast and try to harass her, not to mention that the whole town is convinced that she’s evil. The teenage bullies were a little stereotypical and lame, but they’re just side characters really. God fearing town member, Mrs. Lincoln, who is adamant that Lena should be expelled from the high school because of her dark nature, is played by the very talented Emma Thompson (who I adore). Her character is neither a stereotype nor quite what she seems. Opposite her and the mentor/guardian of Lena is Macon Ravenwood, brought to life by the great Jeremy Irons. These two characters don’t see eye to eye when it comes to Lena and her future. Will her powers be claimed for the light or the dark? Is she an inherently evil Witch or a good Witch? And how will Ethan and Lena stay together when it comes to light that Casters are forbidden to love mortals? You’ll have to watch the film/read the books to find out.
Over all I love the dark moody tone of the film. Having it set in the South lends it some personality, especially with the legend of the Caster Curse coming from the civil war time; it even features a civil war reenactment. The set production and costume design are all rather excellent. There is a particular costume worn by Lena’s cousin Ridley, played by the beautiful Emmy Rossum, that is to die for, very Victorian, chic, and sexy (I kind of have a thing for the whole Steampunk fashion movement). The film’s visual effects are stunning; not too overdone and realistic. The “tornado in a dining room” scene, I thought was very well done. Although for me the ending was a little anti-climactic, they try to leave you with a cliff hanger, setting it up for the second film, but I think it lacked the impact they were going for. Still it was an enjoyable flick that I would recommend to any paranormal/ fantasy movie fan.
I give Beautiful Creatures three out of four stars.
If you want to check out the cast here's the Beautiful Creatures IMDB page http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1559547/?ref_=sr_1
Also I added the trailer for Beautiful Creatures below. Enjoy.
Now go forth and see this film. If you do, make sure to come back and share your thoughts and impressions of the movie in the comments. I’d love to hear from you.
R.J. Craddock

Saturday, March 23, 2013

“Life as the Wife of a Musician”

Besides a writer, I am many things. I am a mother of three crazy boys. I am a homemaker, an artist, a book lover, a film fanatic, and a singer/songwriter. And last but not least I am a wife to one very talented musician. (Spoiler alert—shameful promotion of my husband and his band—coming up!!!) My husband, Jonny Craddock--also a singer/songwriter like me--plays guitar, piano, bass, and the drums and has been doing so for the last 25 years. For the last two years he’s been one of the driving forces behind the up-and-coming Utah band “Lucid 8.” I’m extremely supportive of my hubby. Also, being a Jack of all trades, for the past two years I’ve been helping his band in any way I can. From writing song lyrics, to running their website, to designing their album(s) cover art. I’ve put up with countless nights alone with the kids so that he could play gigs, have band practice, and spend time in the studio recording their new album “American Eyesore” which came out in January 2013. Now, finally, all their hard work (and mine) is about to pay off! Midnight Records has offered them a contract with their new record label! They’re officially signing with them soon and I couldn’t be more thrilled. They’re a great group of guys and together make one fantastic band! They’re music is refreshingly unique in a world where far too many bands all sound the same and cater to the mainstream pop sound. “Lucid 8” is rock n’ roll with a funky soul and a dash of alternative for flavor. Their music is upbeat yet thoughtful. Their music is complex in their arrangements with catchy hooks and tunes that get stuck in your head. (Not in a bad way) But don’t take my word for it; you can check them out yourselves at www.lucid8.net. You can also find “Lucid 8” on facebook and www.reverbnation.com. Also a music review will be posted May 23rd after 4 pm at www.findingthewrongwords.blogspot.com.
Very soon you’ll be able to hear their music on iTunes and eventually on a radio station near you. Keep an ear out for their songs which include, “Blind world”, “Blue Tuesday” and “The Rain.” The last one, I think is a sure-fire hit. Below is my favorite picture of the band (because my hunky drummer boy is in the foreground) for you to gander at.
Now go forth my children and share their page, and website on Facebook and other social media outlets. Also, you can buy their EP and the “American Eyesore” album on their website. Let’s get the word out about the next big thing: “Lucid 8.”

R.J. Craddock

Friday, March 22, 2013

To Blog or not to Blog?

Once there was a little girl who was wildly imaginative; whose favorite pastime was books. She enjoyed reading and writing her own stories so much she preferred it to interacting with other people. To her, being an author was the ideal job. When she grew up she wanted to live in a cabin in the woods far away from town. (With a house full of cats) she would spend every waking moment writing, and obsessing over her imaginary world. Being an author would fulfill her creative needs and give her an income to live on without requiring her to deal with pesky human beings. Then, one day she grew up and found out that this hassle-free fantasy job did not exist. It turns out that even in publishing you have to have people skills, especially in today’s social-media-driven society.

In case you haven’t guessed yet, that little girl was me. Writing has been my life’s passion, but it wasn’t until three years ago that I decided to pursue it professionally. When I started researching the business, I found out that whether or not you publish with a big publishing house, a small press, or self-publish, today’s authors have to aggressively promote themselves if they want to make a serious living. And that means blogging, amongst other things. So although I’ve had a blog on my website for a few years now, I haven’t really been consistent with it. However, with the release of my debut novel “The Forsaken” on the horizon it’s time for me to buckle down and become a serious blogger, if for no other reason than to shamefully self-promote my book.

But the good news is I’m also a total media junkie, ridiculously opinionated and honest to a fault. So on top of my occasional blogs singing my own praise and detailing all the many reasons why you should all go forth and buy my book; I will also post honest and entertaining blogs about art, movies, music, and books; all my favorite things. I should also mention that I have this strange condition called movie-quoting Tourette’s. This means that I have the uncontrollable urge to quote movies at random moments. So be advised that my blogs may be infused with random quotes, but never fear I will give the movie references so as not to confuse my readers. Also, if I quote a film you’ve never heard of, please feel free to ask me for more info about said film and I’ll make sure to review it in one of my posts. So remember to visit my website every Monday and Friday to read my latest post.

Now I need some kind off signature sign off, something clever, to the point and unique to me, hmmm… I got it!
Now go forth, my children, and buy my book! (when it comes out) 

R.J. Craddock