Tag Archives: Water for Elephants

Five Movies that Inspired My Blogging

 
 
 
Given my blog’s focus on storytelling and writing, films are often a source of inspiration for my posts. After all, every memorable movie began with words on a page.  Some of the films that made it onto my blog since I launched it in 2009 include:
 
 
  • Casablanca – The holiday post titled, “Ways to nurture your writing spirit,” included the joy of listening to dialogue from this 1942 classic, which remains my all-time favorite film. I loved the Epstein brothers’ remarkable screenplay and the chemistry between not only Bogart and Berman but also between Bogie and Captain Renault played by Claude Rains. 
  • Water for Elephants – On day one of the blogathon last year I reviewed this film based on Sara Gruen’s bestselling drama. The story’s backdrop is a struggling circus in Depression-era America.  
 
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2earned an entire post last July where I discussed the lasting legacy of J.K. Rowling’s body of work. Through her seven-part fantasy series, Rowling made reading cool for millions of kids. 
 
  • Twilight Saga – A self-professed Twilight Mom, I shared the fun of heading to my local Cineplex with my girlfriends for the opening night of the film’s New Moon premiere. The post talks about the generational pull of the Stephenie Meyer series and how Twilight screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg translated the book to screen.
 
  •  The Avengers – I am adding this action flick to today’s blog. My husband and I saw it Saturday night, and he pretty much summed it all up when he said not even half way through the movie, “This is the best action movie I will ever see!” 

It didn’t surprise us that the film shot past even the Harry Potter finale in terms of opening night ticket sales. It’s not just the effects and the pace of this Marvel Studios’ tour de force; it was the genuine comedic moments and bantering among the characters. Director Joss Whedon (of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angelfame) had an incredible lineup of star power at his command starting with Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man. Downey practically stole the show with his comedic and deadpan one liners.  Case in point is this testosterone-laced exchange between him and Steve Rogers (Caption America):

 
Steve Rogers: “Big man in a suit of armor. Take that off, what are you?”

Tony Stark: “Genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist.”

 
Chris Evans continued his clean-cut All-American image as Captain America, while Chris Hemsworth was an eye-candy favorite as the demigod Thor out to contain Loki, his vengeance-obsessed adoptive brother set to destroy Earth. Scarlett Johansson, who played Black Widow, had some great action scenes, as did Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye. The movie wouldn’t have been the same without Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury. One of my favorite characters, however, was Mark Ruffalo, who alternated between a low-key but brilliant Dr. Bruce Banner and a crazed Hulk. I will never forget him smacking Loki around like a rag doll at one of the movie’s funniest and most satisfying moments (prompting spontaneous applause from moviegoers).
 
Of course, those who love these movies have been anticipating an Avengers “dream team” on screen for some time now. It couldn’t have come soon enough for this fan.

Why Water for Elephants Works

“When two people are meant to be together, they will be together. It’s fate.” – Jacob Jankowski, Water For Elephants

Tonight I accompanied my friend and dad to see the critically acclaimed Water for Elephants.  The movie reflected my favorite genre, romantic drama set in an historical context.  The film transports you to Depression era America and the world of a struggling circus, where you get a bird’s eye view of the complex relationships between the people (and the animals) who inhabit that world.

The film, based on the New York Times’ bestselling book by Sara Gruen, who grew up in Ontario, delivered the goods — keeping me and other moviegoers transfixed. The movie had unforgettable flashes of both inhumanity and humanity, played out by Jacob (played by Rob Pattinson of Twilight fame), a young vet-in-training who flees unspeakable tragedy by hitching a ride on a traveling circus; Marlena, an orphan-turned star performer and circus wife (played by Reese Witherspoon); and of course, Christoph Waltz as the controlling, ruthless and jealous ringmaster August.

It doesn’t hurt that the story takes you inside the gritty world of a struggling circus during a time when one in four Americans was jobless.  I found myself asking, “Why does Marlena stay?” and “Why does Jacob?” at times when August’s violent outbursts are at their most out of control.

To me, Water for Elephants is storytelling at its best — with unforgettable (and flawed) characters. It’s a story about relationships and the bonds formed by people and animals, and includes a surprising climatic conclusion. Kudos to the filmmakers in crafting the final scenes of the movie using black-and-white old home movie flashbacks.  

Gruen writes in her book, “Life is the most spectacular show on earth.”   This movie certainly lives up to that billing.

Check out the movie trailer and a MovieJungle interview with Sara Gruen about her story and its transformation to the big screen.