Tag Archives: movies

Movie Rec!

So long story short (don’t look so shocked), I was talking with Kait about a story idea and she said, “You should watch The Adjustment Bureau.”

So I did.

And it was exquisite. I mean, this is the kind of thing that I really enjoy, but I just loved this thing. Half the time lately I find myself going–gee, that could have been really awesome if they had shifted a bit of that special effects budget and hired a WRITER. But this screenplay was excellent. Loved. And the acting was very good. And the directing! Just…I really liked this one.

Recommended for people who like…

  • Everything happens for a reason
  • I’ll fight the world/God/the Devil/etc to be with this person
  • movies where the guy runs at the end
  • Fringe’s September and those other Observer dudes

Doesn’t stream on Netflix–DVD only, but you can rent it for $2.99 on Amazon if you can’t wait. Which, after the seeing the trailer, I could not.

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#Movies: TiMER

When I recently posted about the movie IN TIME, a good friend tweeted me a recommendation for another movie, TiMER, in which a biotech implant counts down the time until you meet your soulmate.

This romantic comedy was pretty freakin’ adorable–an excellent date type movie. Emma Caulfield–Anya of Buffy fame–stars as Oona, a woman with a timer that just won’t kick in, as though maybe there’s just no one out there for her.

The tech requires a little explanation. I have to say I was a little lost for the first scene of the movie, after which they really get in and explain it. Basically people can choose to get these implants (you have to be at least 14), and if your soulmate also has an implant, as soon as yours is activated they sync up and start a countdown to night before you’ll meet. When the clock hits zero, you wake up the next day and, at some point, meet your true love, and both your timers start chiming to let you both know you’ve found the right person.

So while Oona’s out there trying to get more guys to get the TiMER, in hopes she’ll find one that makes her implant chime, her sister, Steph, has already got her answer. Her TiMER’s ticking and she’s not scheduled to meet her true love until she’s in her forties. So Steph’s living it up, helping guys with ticking implants sow their wild oats while Oona’s not interested in getting involved with anyone who’s not the right one.

On the surface, it’s just a cute movie. But the script does a really good job exploring the what-ifs of a world where true love is virtually guaranteed and divorce is becoming non-existent, but so is risk-taking and, to some extent, just falling in love.

This one’s available on Netflix instant play, so check it out when you get a chance.

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Yes, another teen movie

Last week I saw Easy A. I kind of loved this one. Some descriptions suggest that this is a twist on The Scarlet Letter, but I didn’t really see it. The book does play a small role in the plot, but it’s more of flavoring than anything else.

It all starts when Olive lies to get out of going camping with her friend’s family, fabricating a college boyfriend. The lie gets out of hand when the friend wants details about the date and jumps to the conclusion that Olive made it with fictional college guy. Which wouldn’t be such a big deal, if they hadn’t been overheard.

News of Olive’s sexual exploits begins to circulate, bringing her unexpected attention, popularity, and an even more unexpected request from a fellow student. This poor kid needs to be able to claim sleeping with Olive to avoid being on the receiving end of any more homosexual hate crime beat downs. Soft-hearted Olive agrees and the two mismatched virgins give a loud performance behind closed doors at a big party which is pretty damned amusing and cements the reputations of both.

But it doesn’t end there, and soon Olive finds herself in the business of letting guys at school claim they’ve been with her in order to boost their popularity and to keep her well supplied in chain store gift cards. Of course, eventually, this all gets way of hand.

What I loved about this movie was the snarky wit. I loved the way they talked to each other and at each other. Olive was a great character with brains, a good heart, and a hilarious and clever family. Other bright spots were Thomas Haden Church (who just makes me happy for reasons I can’t really explain) as one of the teachers, and the cult-like group of religious students out to get Olive.

Mostly, this is just fun, especially if you’ve already got a thing for teen movies. Netflix said, “Our best guess for Susan: 4.5 stars.” I think we can conclude that Netflix pretty much knows me.

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Movies: In Time

For our anniversary date last week, my husband and I went to see “In Time.”

From the first time we saw the preview, we were both struck by the concept of this movie, a world in which time actually IS money, and where, when you run out of currency, your time is up.

These people are born with a clock on their forearm, one which they consult all the time as we would a watch. Everyone’s clock has one year. Barring some kind of accident, everyone lives until 25, and then the clock starts ticking. That means that children are completely dependent on their families until that age because until their clock starts they have no access to currency. People borrow against their time. Workers are paid in time. People have the ability to transfer time into storage devices, but also directly to each other, allowing them to trade and share time, but also to steal it.

The movie didn’t disappoint at all. It’s the kind of thing you can just watch as a sci-fi action movie and really enjoy for it’s more surface aspects, but it’s also the kind of thing where you can reflect on the broader issues it raises, take home and play with the idea of people with power manipulating the economy to keep us all in our place, that as long as They have the power to create inflation, They have the power to limit our ability to better our lives and safeguard their own power and lifestyle.

The world-building was really exceptional. They did an excellent job setting the characters in this society, with tweaking the language with new phrases they would use, with getting into their heads and characterizing the differences between people who were racing to stay alive vs. people who, literally, had all the time in the world.

And the romance gets a thumbs up.

In the story, an honest young man who wants more but is just trying to survive, has his life changed forever when he assists a wealthy man and is given more time than he ever dreamed he’d have. Unfortunately, having that kind of currency causes problems, especially in the ghetto. He gets out, maybe with some vague idea of shaking things up amongst the wealthy, or at least just to see how the other half lives. But when his troubles follow him to the gilded district of New Greenwich, he takes a rich girl hostage to escape.

Forced together by circumstance, the two forge a relationship and engage in a crime spree motivated by Robin Hoodish ideals and a desire to effect the status quo.

I had no complaints about this movie, and I generally manage to come up with some kind of criticism. I’m calling it Logan’s Run meets Robin Hood meets Legend of Billie Jean and wholeheartedly recommend it.

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The Marvel/DC Movie Scorecard

I dunno, this summer I think it’s been Marvel 2, DC zip. I’ve been thinking about the superhero movies I’ve seen this season: Thor, X-Men, Green Lantern, and Captain America.

Thor's first appearance in jeans.

OMG, Thor

I don’t even know why I liked Thor so much. I mean, okay, kind of coming back to me right now. But THAT doesn’t explain why this was the movie that made me want to go home and write some freakin’ Talent Chronicles! Like, seriously, there wasn’t really anything about this story that was like my story, but it got me excited about telling mine again.

The story was pretty straight-forward, but I think maybe the thing that pulled at me was how Thor changed so much by his exile. He was humbled. By the end of the 3rd quarter he was willing to martyr himself and was finally worthy of the position pretty much handed to him by birth, so he got his powers back and left to kick some 4th quarter ass.

X-Men First Class

X-Men First Class

I’m thinking it was the X-Men I saw next. And I have to say that it was just X-Men devotion that had me coming away liking this movie. It was no Wolverine. And I love James McAvoy, but making young Professor Xavier into a ridiculous Austin Powers character SO DID NOT WORK FOR ME. No, baby.

Ryan Renolds shows off his Green Lantern suit

Ryan Renolds shows off his Green Lantern suit

Green Lantern was disappointing. I was looking forward to this one, and I came out of the theater feeling blah. It’s not that there was anything wrong with the movie, I guess, but just that there wasn’t much there. This might also be because I’m more familiar with the Green Lantern origin story than with any of these others, but it just felt empty and what was there felt really cliched.

Captain America shows off his new shoulders.

How do you feel? Taller.

Saw Captain America this past weekend and I really liked it. Not love, but I really liked it. The story was good with, with all the right elements where they should be and it felt like a good balance between what was expected and stuff that was new and interesting. Although I don’t actually know because I don’t know the Marvel characters as well as I know the SuperFriends (lesson there: you had me a Saturday morning).

I thought they did a great job getting classic Captain elements into a story newcomers could enjoy. Pacing was good, styling was superb. I particularly liked their pick for Howard Stark, and you KNOW I loved evil Hugo Weaving because Agent Smith is totally grown up Anderson (see: Impulse Control) in my head.

What have we learned from this? Well, judging from my pics and top picks, I’d say that we’ve learned that, regardless of what I SAY, my judgement is pretty much totally based on shirtless brawn. But I’m sure there’s a lesson in that because women are turning out to see these movies, and comic book heroes aren’t just for boys anymore–ask any Smallville fan.

Also interesting to note, from my “superheroes need happy endings” perspective, is that 3 out of 4 of these guys do not get the girl. (I’m thinking GL got the girl, but that relationship didn’t have enough story/conflict to hold my interest, so I’m not even sure.)

So what about you guys? I know you have opinions about these movies. Tell me what you thought and why.

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Filed under Superheroes, Heroism, and Romance

The Runaways- Movie, not the comic

The Runaways

Maybe I can blame the fact that I had to watch this movie on Stacey Wallace Benefiel whose recent Bad Reputation post has had that song stuck in my head for days. But today as I went looking for something to strengthen my teen-writing mojo, I found that I had added this to my Netflix Q.

Despite the fact that the Netflix description focuses primarily on the Cherie Currie (the band’s lead singer) storyline, it is important to note that this is a movie about Joan Jett and is therefore to be listed with all things awesome.

It was, in a lot of ways, like every other rocker biopic with an emphasis on drugs and sex, because the music business is what it is. But, I shall repeat: Joan Jett. And lest anyone start wailing and gnashing teeth about the same actress playing Bella Swan who moons over some idiot vamp who likes to tell her he knows what’s best, AND playing our rock goddess, let me just say that I had no problem with the performance.

To try to relate this to our Friday hero fiction appreciation topic, I have to say that what’s unfortunate about this movie is its lack of heroic plot aspects. There’s really only a taste of Joan is awesome here. The story does concentrate more on Cherie whose heroism probably mostly comes about after the story takes place when she cleans herself up.

But, I did have a point to sticking this movie mention on my writing blog. At the end of the movie they flash up the little bits about what happened to main characters after the story and I learned this:

After being turned down by 23 record labels she created an independent label, and released a self titled album, “JOAN JETT”. Released in 1980, it was the most successful indie rock and roll record of all time.  In 1981, it was picked up by Boardwalk Records, and named “Bad Reputation”.  It spawned two hits: “Do You Want To Touch Me?” and “Bad Reputation.” (Source)

I thought some of you indies might appreciate that.

In other news, I’m taking my daughter to Florida for spring break for the next week. I’ll tell Mickey you said hi.

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Beware Groundhog Day

Probably the thing I loved most about this movie was just getting a new term for the same ol’-same ol’ phenomenon.  My husband walks in. I say, “Hey, sweetie, how was your day?”

The movie gives him another option to choose from:

  • Grunt
  • Same shit, different day.
  • Groundhog Day

What was cool in the movie, though, was that it wasn’t ACTUALLY the same day over and over. Not for the viewer. Part of what makes it enjoyable is looking for the things that are the same, and for the things that Phil does differently and the way that changes events. So Groundhog Day, the movie: sweet, funny, entertaining.

Groundhog Day

  1. A movie in which a character must relive the same day over and over until he gets it right.
  2. A description of a day, or other experience, that feels tediously repetitive.

Movie = good, in life = blah, more often than not. But what about books?

The reason I bring this up is because lately I’ve noticed a personal intolerance for Groundhog Day.

The way a lot of books are written now is very visual and very TV/movie-like. Which I like. And in TV and movies, there are often only so many sets. So in a story, there are going to be places that are familiar to your characters and your reader, places they keep going back to because they have to (like school), or because they’re comfortable there (like a favorite coffee shop). Some familiar places that come to mind would the Sunnydale High library, Roswell’s Crashdown Cafe, Keith Mars’ PI office, Clark’s loft in the barn.

Having these kinds of familiar places in books is good, partly because it provides a kind of shorthand for the reader. We once we’re into the story, we don’t have to keep describing places as much because the reader already knows where we are, what it looks like, and how it relates to the life of the character. We can all concentrate on what’s happening.

But I think I get fouled up when there’s too much sameness. When there’s a combination of same place and similar sequence of events that feels like a Groundhog Day. When I feel the characters and I are experiencing a similar set of events, a change affects a different outcome to the scene, but the scene itself doesn’t give me enough that’s unique to make me feel the gift of having read it. (I’m big on gifts to the reader. Don’t get me started because I have to out this morning and there’s a towel on my head.)

I’m lazy. Even in my head. If you take me from one location to another, I like there to be a reason. Because, yes, people meander and take drives and go to coffee shops for no reason (even though they invariably stink like coffee). But characters aren’t really people. That’s why we don’t need to be in on their brushing and flossing habits either, unless it has something to do with the DNA trail or there’s a zombie behind the shower curtain.

So if we have to go into school again because that’s the time of day this scene takes place, that’s cool. I get the necessity of that. But I don’t need to go through the whole approach to the school, the bell rings, visit my locker, get a dirty look from the same person in the same place as yesterday. Too many same place, same sequence things feel like tedium, rather than a gift. Start where the new stuff happens. If there was something important in that sequence for me to see or experience, it’s important to find a way to make that new for me.

This is on my mind because I’ve complained about it a few times recently, and I’ve got a Groundhog Day twin-set of scenes in Heroes that I know will have to be combined or in some way fixed. It’s such an easy thing to fall into when you write because you know it’s different this time, and sometimes don’t realize–it’s really not different enough.

So what about you, readers? Is this all in my nit-picky head, or do you experience Groundhog Day when you read too?

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Random Netflix I’ve Enjoyed Lately

Andrew said, “More babbling posts pleeze!”

As I’ve no ideas for anything this morning, it seems like a good time to make him regret that and do some more babbling. Today on stuff I’ve seen lately that didn’t suck.

Not a lot of reading going on around here, but I’ve watched some TV! I watched the second season of Castle, and am now desperately awaiting the third. If you haven’t seen it, this is a great show. Nathan Fillon (Firefly, Buffy, Dr. Horrible’s…, Blast from the Past, etc) plays Richard Castle, a mega-star mystery/thriller author. At the series’ outset, a bored Castle has killed off the main character of his bestselling series and is not admitting to being at a loss for what to write next. When he’s drawn into a homicide investigation because someone is copy-catting the crimes portrayed in his novels, Castle finds inspiration for a new character main character, Nikki Heat, in the person of NYPD Detective Kate Beckett.

The series is clever and fun, and to me it feels very much like reading JD Robb’s -In Death books. Kate is not the tortured character Eve is, although she does have a backstory. Castle is not 1/10th as slick–nor as wealthy–as Roark. But, to me, the way they work together, the way the sometimes unwanted civilian consultant seems to know a bit about everything, have connections everywhere, and loves to spread his money around, is definitely reminiscent of the early books in that series. And I dig that!

I think the series is a great bet for -In Death fans, writers, and Fillon fans. Fillon is just brilliant in this role. Writers will appreciate how he so often wants to take another look into a case that seems solved because, “That’s too easy. I wouldn’t have written it that way.”

Moving on, Kristen Lamb turned me on to Confession of a Shopaholic. This was a cute chick movie about a young woman with a serious impulse buying/credit card problem, and her sometimes zany adventures, managing to find time to browse and shop sales while dodging debt collectors. When she sort of accidentally lands a job at a finance magazine, writing a financial advice column, she’s a bit over her head. There’s a sweet romance with the magazine editor, lots of wacky antics, and somewhat moving descriptions of what a little shopping can do for the soul. Very amusing, a great movie for girls’ night or a girl’s night–just you and the ice cream, and probably especially appreciated by those who have had some problems in the impulse buying/financial responsibility department.

I put Batman: The Movie (1966) on for my daughter this week. She’s a huge Batman fan. We had a discussion about fav superheroes in the car recently. “Batman or Superman?” “Batman.” “Superman or Spiderman?” “Batman!” “Superfriends or X-Men?” “BATMAN!” So obviously it was past time for this introduction, to get our BAM POW ZAP on and watch some Adam West. I love the villains. They’re just awesome.

Toy Story 3. OMGBarbie&Ken!! Was that not the best Toy-Storyline evar? Ok, well, maybe just me, but I really enjoyed this movie and loved the Ken and Barbie stuff. Ok, you guys already know I’m a huge Barbie fan, so I don’t know why you’re looking at me like that.

That’s all I can think of just at the moment. I should probably end by saying that, since coming back to Netflix, I’ve felt they’re really bending over backward to not suck the way they used to. I’m really glad they made that decision.

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My Name Is Susan, I Love Barbie and her Movies

It’s Thursday and I have no topic. I used to enjoy doing Thursday Thirteen, so you’re getting one this week whether they’re still updating the site or not.

Now in my lifetime, Barbie’s had some trouble with her image. Not her self-image. While she tends to be a little ADD about what she’s going to be when she grows up (nothing wrong with that), I think she’s pretty cool with who she is.

But, you know, some people have had issues with her proportions, what they think she represents, etc., and while Mattel might seem to not look past the end of its nose when it comes to trends the adult segment of the doll collecting community, they really seem to have taken parental concerns to heart when developing Barbie’s animated, direct-to-video movies.

There’s not one of these that I wouldn’t encourage my daughter to watch, and they’re among my favorites to watch with her. Sorry, no links or pics today. The post itself took an awful long time, and I’m quite behind now. Thanks for coming.

13 Barbie movies, in no particular order:

1. Nutcracker– This is a charming retelling of the ballet story. I’m certainly not a dance expert, but it seems like the animators spent time watching live performers, and the dance sequences are really lovely. Barbie, as Clara, is fabulously proactive in this movie. Drawn into the Nutcracker’s world, and his battle to free the people of Parthenia from the Mouse King, Barbie not only fights at his side, but really leads the way with plenty of bravery and cleverness. The supporting characters are amusing, without being over the top annoying to this adult, and, with a bit of a sweet, romantic thread, this movie is satisfying every time I watch it.

2. Rapunzel– As Rapunzel, Barbie takes on the role of an artist who has been forced into the role of servant to a very angry and unpleasant woman with magical powers. When Barbie finds a charmed magical item that might be a clue to her own past, she finds that she is able to paint her way out of her prison, and explore the world outside of it. She becomes torn between two worlds, the witch’s castle where her animal friends remain, and a life of freedom beyond the walls where an attractive stranger waits for her. Again, Barbie’s no damsel in distress in this tale. She’s always the one taking action, and making brave decisions based on things like loyalty and affection.

3. Swan Lake– In another ballet retelling, Barbie, as Odette, is the somewhat quiet daughter of the town baker. When she tries to help a unicorn, she finds herself drawn into the plight of the residents of a magical forest, who are being put upon by the evil sorcerer, Rothbart. For her interference, Rothbart changes her into a swan. The part-time bird thing isn’t the only problem when a handsome prince enters the forest and falls for Odette. The main problem is the obligation she feels to free her friends from Rothbart’s power. Another movie in which the character makes brave choices, based on loyalty, and love conquers all in the end.

4. Princess and the Pauper– A nice movie with two staring roles, Princess Annaliese, and Erika, a look-alike in the village who was indentured to a mean dressmaker by her impoverished parents. When the princess is kidnapped, in an attempt to thwart a marriage that will save the financial future of the kingdom, a palace insider convinces Erika to take the princess’s place at court while he investigates, though this is risky for them both. Meanwhile, Princess Annaliese won’t be kept without a fight, and sets about becoming a self-rescuing princess. Two courageous heroines in this one, but the show is really stolen by an over-the-top fabulous villain. He’s got an awesome, self-congratulatory soundtrack, and is an excellent character. The gag reel on during the credits is very good, too.

5. Diamond Castle– This one’s not as much a romance (though there are these twin they meet in a bar…), but a friend tale. Which, you know me, is merely ok. Barbie and Theresa star as two friends who share everything, including the adventure of a lifetime. In order to protect (I think it was) the power of music, a young woman hides herself inside a magic mirror. Our heroines must protect the mirror and their new friend, and defeat a powerful sorceress.

6. Fairytopia– Barbie is Elina, a fairy born without wings. When an evil witch, Laverna, creates a plague, it affects everyone but Elina. Suddenly, this outcast finds herself the only one capable trying to get help for her settlement. As she’s drawn deeper into the story, she becomes the key player in defeating Laverna and restoring their benevolent ruler to power.

7. Mermaidia– In the sequel to Fairlytopia, Elina teams up with a mermaid to rescue the mer-prince from her nemesis, Laverna, who is trying to get him to reveal the location of an immunity berry which she believes will allow her to escape her prison. Again, Barbie comes through, putting up with a lot from her jealous, mermaid partner, and making a touching sacrifice for the mer-people.

8. Magic of the Rainbow– This is another Fairytopia movie. Elina gets chosen to go to a school to learn fairy magic. She seems to have some “new kid” challenges, she screws up and frees Laverna, but she makes it all right in the end.

9. Island Princess– This is another sweet, romantic movie in which Ro, a girl who grew up on an island with no other humans after a shipwreck, is found by an explorer prince and taken back with him to his kingdom. Upon their arrival, the prince discovers his parents’ matchmaking plans for him. What they don’t know is that the girl’s mamma has a grudge against the royal family, a lust for power, and a plot. In saving the day, Ro also discovers her own identity. The songs in this movie can really get into your head, and the duet between Ro and her prince is particularly sweet.

10. A Christmas Carol– In this retelling of the classic, Barbie plays the part of Scrooge. Only a pretty one who is a selfish diva of the theater. Cratchet’s role is played by a childhood friend who is now her costumer, and the function of Tiny Tim is served by a group of orphans, to whom the friend devotes her time and money. It’s very different from the other Barbie movies, but is still a nice, and different take on A Christmas Carol.

11. 12 Dancing Princesses– I’ve always been sure they did this one so that they could make more dolls to sell. It worked. My mom got all of them for my daughter that year. This is a very pretty movie with a bit of ballet, a scheming relative with an evil pet monkey, and a very nice romance between Barbie and the attractive young man who makes the pretty shoes. A theme in this movie is the smallest of them, the one who feels like she can never measure up, being the one to save the day.

12. Three Musketeers– When I think of this one, I think grrrrl power. It’s pretty blatant, but fun. Barbie wants to be a Musketeer, like her father, and so travels to castle to seek her fortune. Where of course they won’t have her. But she knows they’re something going on, so she gets a job in the palace where she hooks up with three other girls, who each have their own ass-kicking skill and Musketeer aspirations. They are secretly trained by a palace insider to foil an attack by traitorous Musketeers, which they do with girly flair to a modern soundtrack. Yes, there’s a lot of girly silly in this movie, but loosen up and enjoy it.

13. Pegasus– I think I’ve probably put my two favorites at beginning and end. In the Magic of the Pegasus, Barbie is Anika, an overprotected princess with a love of ice skating. The crazy of the king and queen seem somewhat more justified when she disobeys them, and an evil sorcerer (yeah, yeah, I know, but call it a genre thing) finds her and demands she marry him. When she refuses, he turns everyone to stone and tells her she has three days to change her mind. She’s rescued from immediate harm by a flying horse and sent on a quest to create a mythical Wand of Light, the only thing that might break the spell. On the way she meets Aiden, a hot guy in the forest with his own somewhat tortured backstory. Aiden doesn’t want to have anything to do with the silly girl, except that he can’t help being drawn to her for qualities like her brains and bravery. Very nice romance in this, and a good equality between the h/h. Good gag reel, too.

Have you seen any of these? Tell me which ones you’ve enjoyed.

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Proof of a Benevolent Universe

…brought to you by Twitter.

If you’ve read Hush Money, you’ve probably gotten the idea that Joss and I are a little wary of the Universe. There’s an order to things, which should probably not be messed with, and we get nervous when the Laws of the Universe are violated, even if the violation is something “too good” that’s happening to us. You get the idea.

I love the movie Fire with Fire starring Virginia Madsen and Craig Sheffer. Like love obsessively. I can’t watch it without marveling anew at how perfectly it’s put together. Yesterday I realized that Some Kind of Wonderful, another 80s fav, which also features Craig Sheffer, is available via Netflix instant play and by mail. And thinking about that made me ask the following:

And then there was an answer…

Hope that was fun for you, too.

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Filed under Hush Money, Laws of the Universe, movies, Signs, Talent Chronicles