Movie Review: Carrie (2013)

January 6, 2014 in Movie Reviews, Reviews

CarriMoretz

I guess it was only going to be matter of time before they attempted another remake of Carrie, the classic 1976 horror film based on Stephen King’s first published novel of the same name. Technically, this is just another adaptation of King’s novel (there was another TV movie version made in 2002, and an ill-advised “sequel” in 1999), though the standard it will be compared against will always be the version that made Sissy Spacek famous and boosted the careers of Nancy Allen and John Travolta.

This time, the film stars Chloe Grace Moretz as the bullied but “gifted” school girl Carrie White and Julianne Moore as her religious fanatic mother. Judy Greer plays Carrie’s sympathetic gym teacher, which is unfortunate for a horror movie because I will always think of her as the crazy secretary in Arrested Development.

Anyway, it’s hard for me review this new Carrie objectively as a standalone film because it is so close to the original film and fails to offer anything genuinely new apart from improved special effects and some updated technology in the lives of the students (such as smartphones and YouTube). This is not to say it’s a bad film, because it’s actually a pretty good remake driven by excellent performances from the two female leads. Moore, in particular, was absolutely freaky and helps you understand why Carrie turned out the way she did. The real question is why they felt the need to make it again when the original was so iconic and still remains effective. 

If you have not seen the 1976 film and don’t know what happens in the story then you could find Carrie a terrifying experience. There are some effective horror moments executed craftily by director Kimberly Peirce, whose previous works include Boys Don’t Cry and Stop-Loss. For me, however, it was difficult to truly enjoy Carrie because I knew what was coming. Everything that happens in the first half of the film boils down to that one pivotal moment, that one key scene — and most people should know what I’m talking about here — so there was a sense of inevitability throughout the whole thing. It’s just not the same when you are expecting it.

I do have a few other problems with this version as well. For starters, Chloe Grace Moretz is just too damn pretty to be the Carrie White, even when she’s “uglied up”. Even if she’s brought up by a lunatic and socially inept it’s difficult to imagine her being such a target. Secondly, the “villain” of the movie, a girl named Chris, was too one-dimensional and evil, while her friend Sue, was too “nice”. I know that’s how the story goes but a little more nuance would have been welcome.

Carrie 1976 is widely regarded as a landmark horror film and garnered Oscar nominations for the two leads. Carrie 2013 is still a decent horror movie and a pretty good remake, but that’s all it can hope to be.

3.5 stars out of 5

Writing Success Stories

January 12, 2009 in On Writing

That last post was too depressing, so I’ve decided to share some success stories to cheer myself up.

JK Rowling and Stephen King

jk-rowlingMost people have probably heard of the most famous ones, like JK Rowling and Stephen King.  Rowling was a single mother on unemployment benefits, and the first Harry Pottstephen-kinger manuscript was rejected by all 12 publishing houses it was submitted to.  Now she’s one of the richest women in the world.  King, on the other hand, spent years getting rejected, submitting short stories to magazines for chump change and even pumped gas for a living.  There’s no need to describe how successful he is now.

Both authors apparently had a bit of luck.  In Rowling’s case, rumour has it that the daughter of Bloomsbury’s chairman read the first chapter and urged her dad to get the rest of the manuscript, which led to publication.  For King, he had thrown the draft of Carrie into the trash, and had it not been for the encouragement of his wife to continue the story, it would never have been finished.

Nicholas Sparks

nicholas-sparks1Famous soppy romance novelist, Nicholas Sparks, is one of my favourite success stories.  In short, he wrote The Notebook while selling pharmaceuticals and sent 25 query letters to agents.  Only one, a rookie agent, agreed to represent him.  He ended up selling the book for a cool $1 million.

You should read about his story for yourself at his webpage.  Here are the links to the stories of how he found an agent and how he found a publisher:

http://www.nicholassparks.com/WritersCorner/MyAgent.html

http://www.nicholassparks.com/WritersCorner/Publisher.html

Also have a browse of his very interesting and informative “Writer’s Corner”, very worthwhile.

rockySylvester Stallone

I only came across this the other day.  I don’t want to spoil it, so I will say no more.  Follow this link (http://www.rockysdream.com) on how Sylvester Stallone shot to stardom with Rocky (which he wrote), as told by motivator Tony Robbins.  The guy really does know how to tell a story. 

Matthew Reilly

The guy may come across has a bit of a toss, but one cannot deny that Matthew Reilly knows how to write excitement.  His story is also one of continued persistence and hard work.  After being rejecmatthew-reillyted by every major publishing house in Sydney, he decided to self-publish 1000 copies by borrowing money from his family.  Unbelievably, he even lost some of his books from the back of his car through theft.  However, eventually one of the copies of his book Contest was picked up (from the book store he negotiated with) by an editor from Pan MacMillan, and he went on to sell several bestsellers.

Reilly also comes across as a bit of a shameless self-promoter (maybe that’s what you need to be), but you cannot help but admire the things he did to get to where he is today.

And more…

The list goes on and on.  Just about every famous writer ever has an inspiring story of success or funny rejection story to tell.   Here are just a few examples of what famous authors have received in their rejections (from Pushcart’s Complete Rotten Reviews and Rejections):

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy: “Sentimental rubbish…Show me one page that contains an idea.”

Catch-22 by Joseph Heller: “I haven’t really the foggiest idea of what the man is trying to say.”

Lord of the Flies by William Golding: “It does not seem to us that you have been wholly successful in working out an admittedly promising idea.”

And last but not least, my 2 favourites:animal-farm

Animal Farm by George Orwell: “It is impossible to sell animal stories in the USA.”

and

Lady Chatterley’s Lover by DH Lawrence: “For your own good do not publish this book.”

I’ll add more success stories or funny quotes if I come across any (or if I remember them).