The awesome team at ZazenLife has welcomed me to their blog as an official contributing writer. I have guest blogged on their site before, contributing two articles (Review of Emptiness Dancing by Adyashanti and an article about the Bodhi Tree in Hawaii) but now I will regularly post entries. They will be mostly book reviews, although non-mook, and you can check out my latest entry published today by clicking the link below and don’t forget to follow ZazenLife on Twitter and Facebook.
THE MOOK LIST – #7
Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
Why it worked: “Come with me and you’ll be in a world of pure imagination…” There is no denying that the Mel Stuart-directed “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” musical is a classic childhood movie. From “Cheer Up Charlie” to “Pure Imagination” to the Oompa Loompa songs that you will never forget, Stuart created a very magical film that impacted the lives of all who watched. I, personally, loved Gene Wilder in this (I also thought my Dad looked exactly like him which was super exciting) and couldn’t get enough of this movie. I have probably seen it over 20 times due to repeats on ABC Family and have the soundtrack on vinyl (obsessed much?) You would be lying if you tell me you’re not a Willy Wonka fan…
Why you might disagree: In “mook” terms this movie didn’t follow the novel it was adapted from, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl, very well…. OK, so it barely followed it at all, and was more of a mash up between the two books Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator. The 2005 Tim Burton directed “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” which starred Johnny Depp as Willy Wonka followed the book much more directly in almost every way… but I just don’t think it holds a candle to it’s predecessor. Roald Dahl was one of my favorite childhood authors and I did love the ‘Charlie’ books. But in my opinion, the new movie was too high-tech and flawless for me. I prefer the original, but not I know not everyone agrees.
Savages – Novel by Don Winslow
I picked up Savages after it was recommended to me by a friend in light of the upcoming movie. I’d never read any of Don Winslow’s work but, after putting down Savages, I was truly able to appreciate the brilliance and intelligence of his writing. Winslow does his research and was able to create a story that felt authentic from the ground up and it is clear he has a very deep understanding of the relationship between Mexican drug cartels and the U.S. marijuana market.
O, Chon, and Ben’s story is, in the end, a tragedy. Winslow references Shakespeare in a number of ways through this story. Obviously, O named for Hamlet’s “Ophelia” was an initial indicator that things make take a Shakespearean turn. Winslow also incorporated staged scenes into the novel, usually at times of importance, which I found to be a really awesome writing tool particularly for Savages. The last scene of the story is ultimately tragic. O, Chon, and Ben cannot live without each other because their love is so strong they would rather die together than live apart. Throughout the story, their three partner relationship is questioned by others over and over but at the ending, you cant deny the strength of this trio.
I can’t say there was much I didn’t like about this book. It wasn’t a literary masterpiece, that is for sure, but it was interesting, complex, full of action, and remarkably well written. Of course there were some far-fetched moments but hey, its fiction. In Fictionland, all is possible. Savages was really enjoyable for me and I look forward to reading Winslow’s prequel to the story, The Kings of Cool.
“Savages” – Directed by Oliver Stone
A film like “Savages” truly makes me question the purpose of book adaptations. I would like to start by saying “Savages” is NOT a bad movie. In fact, I found “Savages” to be a pretty decent action/suspense drug drama with a nice, all-star cast (besides Blake Lively.. she did nothing for this film.) There were some changes made, which were fine. I kind of liked how they heightened Dennis’ role, which created more tension between the drug cartels and the DEA, and amplified Lado’s role between Baja and El Azul.
Additionally, the relationship between O and Elena was much more prevalent in the movie and helped reveal Elena’s ultimate weakness; her daughter. In general, I liked the way each character’s role played out in the movie.
But (and of course there is a but) the ending was nothing short of senseless. It is one thing to change the ending of a book adaptation, but it is another to make the choice to use BOTH endings. The movie should have ended with O, Ben, and Chon lying together and awaiting death. It was tragic and purposeful and, when it comes down to it, this is a film about drugs. Good guy/bad guy doesn’t matter, we don’t need to see our 3 protagonists live happily ever after. However, the choice to have O state “that is the way I imagine it” and then rewind the entire final scene, only to play out something entirely different, made absolutely no sense. Elena gets locked up, Lado gets lucky, Dennis is awarded for his work at the DEA, and after Ben and Chon spend some time in the slammer, our trio are off the grid. They live happily ever after in paradise.
This decision honestly ruined the entire movie for me and I was really disappointed. It was hokey and weird, especially since the actual ending was so much better than what they created for the movie (in my opinion.)
Mook Rating – ★★