Category Archives: fantasy

65 of 366: Ruby Sparks


I’ll admit a lot of the time I’m not entirely confident in what I put out there with my writing. Some films inspire me to write immediately after they’re over in such a way I don’t even need to think about it, while others prompt me to analyze the plot and meaning and ultimately over think everything.

Ruby Sparks is one of those films where the thoughts just came to me right away and I even spent a lot of time writing while it was on.

That’s fitting I suppose since the film is about a writer, Calvin (played by Paul Dano), who struggles to finish his next novel until a character he creates comes to life as he types words about her.

Ruby, played by Zoe Kazan,  who also wrote the screenplay, could be a true figment of Calvin’s imagination except other people can see her. Or perhaps she is just a coping mechanism for Calvin as he faces pressure to write his next great novel after early success with his first book.

It becomes apparent, building to the point where Calvin explains Ruby’s purpose in the end, that you don’t need to make sense of it all and how real her character is.

In that way Ruby Sparks is what a film should be, full of imagination, magic and mystery that could have any number of meanings.

“Falling in love is an act of magic, so is writing.” 

Kazan, with directors Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris (Little Miss Sunshine), bringing her script to life, plays with the ideas of make believe in her film as well as fate and creativity and perhaps the undertone of people’s expectations in a relationship.

Do people go so far when they are with someone to try to change them and make them into who they want them to be? Do people have unrealistic expectations in relationships at times and get in their head about them too much? Absolutely.

“I couldn’t see you when you were here and now that you’re gone, I see you everywhere.” 

Ruby Sparks is one of the more thought-provoking films I’ve seen lately, even though it’s billed as a romantic comedy. It just has so many possible meanings and ideas displayed through performances by Dano, Kazan and a supporting cast of Chris Messina, Annette Bening and Antonio Banderas that effectively portray their complex characters.

Early on, as I said, there is a sense you need to figure it all out including why Calvin imagines Ruby in is life, but it’s best left to your own interpretation.

The result with that approach is simply a beautiful love story about writing, family, romance and creativity unlike anything I’ve ever seen.

“Any writer can attest in the luckiest, happiest state, the words are not coming from you, but through you.”




28 of 366: Labyrinth


There is so much and so little to say about Labyrinth.  I wanted to revisit the film once I started my 366 movies challenge, and then David Bowie died and then one of my favorite movie theaters here decided to pay tribute to him with a screening of it and The Man Who Fell to Earth, which I have not seen.

Of course watching it now felt bittersweet with Bowie gone and seeing him on screen in  one of the movies I associate as much with nostalgia as with cinematic creativity and history in the world of film.

People in the audience cheered when Bowie’s name showed up in the opening credits and when he first appeared as the Goblin King.

I know I don’t need to describe the film except to say it’s weird and wonderful all at the same time and manages to mix what seems to be, at first, a 1980s coming-of-age story with total fantasy and heart and of course it holds up after all these years.

What did stand out more for me watching it as an adult was the music and score, which Bowie composed and, obviously, performed.

I know fans of Bowie’s whole catalog of music and film had a lot to mourn after he died. I will admit I have only heard and seen a fraction of his work in my life, but Bowie had such a cultural influence it didn’t take much to be affected by his art over time.

Seeing Labyrinth in the theater more than met my expectations and I don’t doubt the film will continue to stand the test of time.

“I’ll be there for you as the world falls down.”

— David Bowie, As the World Falls Down

7 of 366: Edward Scissorhands


It’s been a long time since I’ve watched Edward Scissorhands all the way through. I used to start to watch it and then get lost in one of the beginning scenes when Peg Boggs (Dianne Wiest) finds Edward (Johnny Depp) hiding in his castle.

I had to revisit it from start to finish tonight as one of my favorite films and one featured in 1,001 Movies You Must See Before You Die.

Edward Scissorhands isn’t perfect. “It’s something better: pure magic,” Peter Travers (Rolling Stone, 1990) as quoted in the book.

I think part of the reason I like the beginning of the film so much is because it does fit into that idea of magic and happiness with how the community welcomes Edward into their fictional cookie-cutter world as the backdrop.

Edward, at first, brings a welcome chaos to the community’s organized life and the Boggs take him in without judgment or as much misdirected attention to his “disability” as their neighbors do.

The Boggs remain loyal to Edward and try to help him make a life for himself, but when some people take advantage of his goodwill and not knowing right from wrong the community eventually turns on Edward.

He doesn’t want to hurt anybody but is out of his element after living a sheltered life in a castle where his inventor (Vincent Price in his last film role) died before he could finish his hands.

The real magical, as well as heartbreaking, moments in the film are when Kim (Peg and Bill Boggs’ (Alan Arkin) daughter played by Winona Ryder) and Edward grow close and begin to understand each other but know they cannot stay together.

It is hard to get to that point in what starts out as a happy fairy tale, but Tim Burton’s use of reality within a fable is effective and makes the story complete.

Besides, “You can’t buy the necessities in life with cookies.” – Bill Boggs.

I have to say: 4 out of 4 stars.