Now that July is gone with the wind, here is what went down: My screen exposure was higher than ever, hat tip to the Apple screen time(r) (I love to hate you). Unexpectedly though, this did not result in an increased number of reviews for this roundup. I spent most of my time watching Jessica Jones (2019), Season 3. I waited about two weeks to start the series… with hopes to delay the binge-watching, and the sadness caused by my favorite show wrapping up. Krysten Ritter nailed this season in so many levels, which I will expand on below. I saw Spider-Man Far From Home (2019) as soon as it came out. It put mind to rest after the destruction that the Endgame (2019) left and it reaffirmed Marvel’s well-thought creative decision about the rise of Spider-Man on our screens. I apologize for not having a review for The Lion King (2019). I promise it is in the works, and I will publish it separately. As I mentioned in my June roundup, I read Syd Field’s The Foundations of Screenwriting (2005). An excellent book by a sweet-talking author, screenwriter, and teacher.
The Foundations of Screenwriting (2005) By Syd Field
As I have been trying to find where I would fit in the film industry upon graduation, I decided to explore whether I can do what I love the most: writing. A five to eight-minute google research led me to read Quora Digest and Reddit, where internet people strictly suggest not spending money on a “how-to” book for screenwriting. They suggest scripts will give you more freedom than the twenty bucks you spend. I didn’t listen to them and bought a cheap copy of Field’s book—I did not regret it, you won’t either.
Field did not write a how-to book. His book put a combination of his memories working in the industry and his lectures in words. In fact, as you read the book, you realize Field is repeating the pivotal sentences in your head over and over again. He really is lecturing you through this book. He wants you to know the right thing, fail a couple times, and return to what he told you again (because the guy really knows what he is doing).
So, what is it that you learned, you say? To recap: Stories can be found everywhere: In a magazine, newspaper, in the people you watch. Before you write the story—know the beginning and the end. Have a clear map, and you can play with the path. You capture the story by capturing your main characters. Write a biography for them, know what they would do in certain situations. Let them drive the story forward, otherwise, they are insignificant. Have plot points that change your direction along the way but keep your map in mind. Finally, take the hard responsibility of writing despite its challenges – These important points are only to name a few.
The 300 pages or so taught me more than its worth. So, believe me, when I say it is important for you to read this book if you don’t want to lose your way. Field also talks more about self-doubt, the real deal about creativity and licensing and selling your screenplay. But, he does so in a way that feeds you information while still making you feel like you are listening to one of his greatest stories. A fast read. A must-have. A Bible.
The Small Screen
Jessica Jones– Season 3 (2019)
What a journey it has been for Jessica. In a way, it has come a full circle. During the first season, he fought a mind-controlling, rapist and psychopath, Killgrave. In my opinion, this is still the best season to date. In season two, she fought her own mother, then, came in terms with her. She saw her own mother die with a bullet in the head, shot by Trish who is also family. In particular, I did not enjoy season two a lot. I am not necessarily sure why—But a guess might be because the mother-daughter duo did not feel as organic as it maybe should have. However, now I realize that season two planted the seeds of Trish, showed us her previous battles with addiction and harassment, and her desperate need to feel empowered. In a way, season three had both Krysten Ritter (Jessica) and Rachael Taylor (Trish) share the spotlight. We didn’t see much more about Malcolm’s character development or at least it wasn’t a driver of the story for this season. We started understanding, even emphasizing with Hogarth and the loneliness that is killing her.
June was a quiet month for screen exposure. Well, at least the second half of it. I have a special someone visiting me so, I assure you that there will not be any complaining. This also makes up my much-needed excuse for posting a June roundup on the second day of June, rather than the first of it. While I thought these roundups would keep the blog alive when I did not know what to write about, I also realize now that they also keep me somewhat accountable. I love deadlines. I am past my deadline. Well, let’s talk about all the great things in life. Books, TV, and film. Here we go.
I have been mainly busy with reading research articles, extending my own research article, and editing my thesis. I managed to get my hands on a second-hand copy of Syd Field’s Screenplay: The Foundations of Screenwriting (2005). It is an excellent read that is beyond a “how-to” book so far. I never got to finish it so, I’ll postpone the review to the next round up. What I did finish though, is Ta-Nehisi Coates’ take on Black Panther, A Nation Under Our Feet (2016).
Black Panther: A Nation Under Our Feet (2016) By Ta-Nehisi Coates
I remember reading an article by the ex-Atlantic journalist, Ta-Nehisi Coates prior to making the decision of picking up this comic book (Note that I have not read his take on Captain America, yet). The article talks about the mixed-feelings of producing a story that has been created by a predominantly White team of comic producers, Coates finding his purpose through taking the challenge, playing with a new voice and potentially making that voice sound better for many. I was curious to see how Coates re-introduced the previously primitive Black Panther (see, Fantastic Four #52) and whether the same criticisms made for the movie (2018) could also be traced back to this comic. Coates’ Black Panther actually received all of those criticisms in the comic itself: T’Challa was selfish, he was not heard by his nation, and he, perhaps, hurt his nation because he saw them as a burden rather than an honor.
The main plot revolves around the people of Wakanda attacking their own King. On the surface, they are controlled by a woman with supernatural abilities, however, Coates’ sets up the greater problem underneath, that is caused by the heaviness of T’Challa’s crown. While the enemies plot against overthrowing T’Challa, he fears his greatest challenge of failing Wakanda. Coates’ way of telling this story is beautifully poetic, complex, and one that houses an interplay of many messages. His take of the Black Panther is not actually a book of physical war but the fearful war within the King. It is nowhere close to a primitive representation, but psychological warfare that pushes T’Challa for reconsidering his ideology. It is Black Panther refreshed, yet not one that forgets history. I suggest you get your hands on it and read it. Then, read it again to truly appreciate the story behind every word.
The Small Screen
How to Sell Drugs Online (Fast) (2019)
I don’t know why I will stamp this show as mediocre yet but… I will anyway. Netflix caught me on its main page trap when the show was first released, I did not have anything to watch at some stressed point in my life and pressed play. I did not binge watch this show, rather, went back to it whenever I was desperate. Don’t get me wrong, it is wasn’t a bad show per se. It was just a real-life, coming of age story that had minimal sickening events (see, episode 8… I think), and not so sickening references to the dark web (I was forced to watch a YouTube video talking about the dark web so, I hate talking about the dark web).
The plot is about Moritz, whose girlfriend just got back from an exchange program from the US and questions the meaning of life (thanks to the drugs, hence the title of the show). So, Moritz decides to sell drugs to win her back and surprisingly makes a lot of money to fuel his greed. I don’t think the growth of Moritz’ online drug business is so typical, but the show accurately represents the German young-adult culture and the effects of the wide use of drugs. The show also deserves an A+ for its use of simplistic cinematography and tech-inspired graphic components. Overall, is it a waste of time? No. Is it an amazing show? No. Continue reading “June 2019 Book, TV & Film Roundup”→
Welcome to the first Roundup of Hazal’s Camera. I’ll try to keep this as a monthly ritual. Let’s dive in.
The month of May can only be described as a blessing and a curse. I finalized an intense period of summer courses, followed by an intense period of free time. The North American culture subtly rewrites your DNA and convinces you that you need to be busy all the damn time. So, my free time called for a lot of binge-watching, and it was beautiful.
Let’s start the roundup with books, shall we? I promised myself that I would be reading one book a month. The apple era took this pleasant activity away, and my thesis research gave it back to me. I started with Tom Hanks’ Uncommon Type (2017). It was my every bus read from school or internship. It became my companion when I laid down on the grass. It had many stories that literally pulled you in, and some that didn’t but nonetheless, it is was a nice companion for May.
In the TV zone— I started with Defenders (2017) hoping that I could revisit my love for the series Jessica Jones but definitely loved the plot despite the fact that it mainly revolved around the Iron Fist. Next, I went through a series of emotions watching Jane the Virgin (2014-). It is definitely a cheesy romance show or “telenovela”. I regretted wasting the vast of the plot away all so quickly once I found out that the series was set to finish this year. I honestly loved this show. I guess I am a hopeless romantic, after all.
None of the film productions really wowed me this month. I watched the live action Aladdin (2019), it had a couple problematic representation patterns. In fact, they weren’t problematic, but rather, clearly wrong. I won’t get into it again in this post, but you can see my full review here. Next, much anticipated (and advertised) Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile (2019). I watched the film on the first day of release. I am one of those young adults who watched Zac Efron in chick flick blockbusters in the past, but his portrayal of Ted Bundy really wowed me. The film did not though, and I will explain why. Finally, I watched what seems to be Jon Favreau’s passion project Chef (2014). Sadly predictable, and an okay movie. Continue reading “May 2019 Book, TV & Film Roundup”→
I dreaded writing again today even though the creative Hazal was knocking on the walls of my brain. That is the girl with long wavy hair who wears a nice shade of pastel mint t-shirt and a violet pleated skirt. She is very bubbly and wants to play. She didn’t have any space at all to exist in this fairly large room in me, it’s been occupied with a load of black and white documents. It hasn’t been fun. But it feels great to have a little more space to be me, again. Let’s welcome the creative girl, and let her tell you why she has been so happy and excited the past few days…
I found myself sitting in a car, being driven to Seattle, WA, for no reason that involves me directly. I will not get into any detail on that. However, because of this trip, I was looking for Christmassy things to do while we were there and came across the annual Seattle Winterfest. Set the GPS, and here we went. The Winterfest as a whole was nothing fancy, all I saw was—a very talented orchestra of high school students playing festive songs and a small indoor skating facility. I was not impressed by what they called a festival as a whole, but the building right across this festival was the MoPOP, meaning the Museum of Popular Culture.
Let me tell you how excited I felt purchasing my ticket (with an additional charge of $5 to see the Marvel Exhibition), and what a treasure this place was for a Media and Communications student to spend not only 3 hours (as I did), but a whole day (as I wished I did).
Looking from the outside, the maroon-purple building is compelling and makes you wonder what could actually be inside. Is it a circus? A venue? That is practically how I ended up walking in without reading any signs at all. Later, I found out that the riveting building was designed by the one and only Frank O. Gehry. Entering in, I quickly realize I was meant to be here. The 80s pop music, the minimalistic black/brown décor (if I recall it right still), and the kind staff who seem to like their job, pull you in fairly quickly.
Giving my ticket to the attendant, I enter the main lobby: A gigantic screen that covers the whole width of the main wall, and I watch Michael Jackson trying to convince this chick next to him that the movie they are watching is actually not that scary. Ahh… Thriller is about to play. A classic. I place myself on a comfy red-round seat and relax, watching the whole music video since I spent the whole day walking. Feeling content, I walk towards my right, see a set of stairs, and walk down the stairs instead of seeing the first floor first. By the time I finish the first half of the stairs, I read the words “to those who have looked to the stars, and wondered” … I keep walking, then read, “your journey begins here”.
Ah… Infinite Worlds of Science Fiction, the other side of the door looks very dark. Here we go!…? I walk around in an atmosphere that is similar to the inside of a spaceship that is in power saving mode, of course (meaning, there were very minimal lighting across all platforms). The exhibit is home to illustrations and texts written by the authors of Sci-Fi legends as well as iconic pieces from their on-screen adaptations. The pieces are from many stories we are familiar with, such as the Star Wars series, Star Trek series, the Fifth Element (1997), Dune (1965), H.G. Wells’ the War of the Worlds (2005) and the Blade Runner (1982-2017). One that stays with me the most is looking at the life-sized T-800 endoskeleton from the Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991), it is definitely challenging to stare at the figure more than 20 seconds in the dark room even though I know there are a bunch of people walking around me. I am certain if I stared at it long enough, I would be able to see its red eyes moving, not to mention that the Terminator was a childhood nightmare as it was one of my parents’ favorite movie. I am surprisingly relieved as I take a couple more steps to my right to see Arnold Schwarzenegger’s leather jacket, right next to the T-800.
The exhibit revolves around the idea that the initial purpose of the Sci-Fi worlds is to let the author express himself bluntly through an outside world and its outsider-creatures. Through creating these worlds that seem so different than the earth, the author(s) is able to illustrate the negative aspects of humanity without offending the readers. So, all the disgusting aliens that we read about… actually, mirror us.
Although seeing the familiar pieces and being able to read the progression of the stories through the personal notes of the author’s had been more than enough for me, the interactive component of the exhibit is also valuable to the experience. I was able to choose any imaginary planet from the Sci-Fi world and examine a holographic vision of it 360 degrees all around, I also explored what it felt like to be sitting inside a spaceship, staring at the zillion buttons I would not know what to do with.
Wishing the Infinite Worlds exhibit had more pieces to observe, I walk away feeling content. I try to find my way around the building until I come across a gigantic wooden door. I read the text that has the very same font as a childhood book of Snow White I can easily recall: “What awaits you on the other side of the door? An enchanting forest. A sleeping dragon. A silver-scaled tree. A giant dragonfly. Unlikely heroes and dark forces.” Oh, that feels home! I realize that I make it to the exhibit, Fantasy: Worlds of Myth and Magic.
Before seeing all the pieces from the movies, I adore, I read through the Archetypes of Fantasy. Later along the exhibit, I realize how useful knowing the archetypes is to deeply understand the components of a story of magic. The archetypes form the pieces of the puzzle that create the riveting story. The Unlikely Hero? Ronald Weasley? Yes, sounds about right! The atmosphere in the exhibit feels right in all the ways possible. A sound effect that reminds me of magic, almost like stars shining and birds chirping at the same time, and subtle lighting that reminds me of a thousand candles being lit, creating space for me to stare at a witches’ ball on a corner of the room.
Moreover, the exhibit contains props, costumes and figures from our silver screen favourites such as the Princess Bride (1987), Conan the Destroyer (1985), Harry Potter (1997-2017), the Lord of the Rings (2001-2003), Narnia, the Legend of Zelda (1986-2018) and a favourite of my best friends—an ancient copy (1974, to be exact) of the iconic game, Dungeons and Dragons!
A favorite moment is seeing Judy Garland’s iconic costume from the Wizard of Oz. Ah, and the black pointy hat that melted right after Garland poured a big bucket of water on the green lady… that was there too! The lady? She was the wicked witch. What a moment of joy seeing Garland beat her up (theoretically, with a bucket of water), and she was able to go back home, to Kansas. I remember watching the very same movie at the age of 5-6 at my grandmother’s house. It was the only movie that would play constantly in one of the channels. Wouldn’t matter the time you turn the TV on, the Wizard of Oz would always be airing. You see it was like Netflix without the choice click cancel, and I would watch it over and over and over again.
Another highlight of the exhibit, again, is seeing the creative process of the authors. A book series that I enjoyed as a 13-year-old middle schooler was the great story of Eragon. I’ve read about the author still being a teenager when he wrote the books, but I never imagined him being 15 years-old. The exhibit shows hand-written notes of Paolini as well as a selection of edits from his publisher. It was a privilege to be able to observe the text so clearly and closely and become a part of the artistic process.
I walk out of the same wooden door. I am sure there is a proper way to exit, but I really want to go through the door again, taking me back to the world without magic. I leave, with my heart feeling full.
I would recommend visiting the MoPOP to all ages (with a parent’s assistance for certain exhibitions) and support the museum financially if you are able to do so. My creative-self was so happy to be present in the moment surrounded by all the things that could possibly inspire me the most. I hope to go back for a longer visit and experience this all again. I was also able to see the Marvel Exhibit, that was extraordinary, and it would require me to write another blog post for such a well-presented exhibit. Let me know if you would like to read about it, and comment below if you have any questions about your upcoming MoPOP visit!