Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Rest in Piece: The Forgotten Tributes of The Hunger Games

The District 7 Girl (far left) and the District 6 Boy (top right) are some of the most seen unnamed tributes.
For the bloodbath scene in The Hunger Games, there was a lot of stunts required. So it makes sense to hire a bunch of young-looking stunt people to play out most of the violence. There were also some hired as extras that did not participate for this iconic scene.

What is interesting is that some of the tributes cast were already in their 20s. Stunt actors Leigha Hancock, Sam Ly,  and Jeremy Marines were 25, 24 and 23 at the time of  filming, respectively. I guess it pays to be young-looking.

In one of the film guides for the film, each of the twenty-four tributes are featured. Many are unfamiliar, most having only moments in the entire movie. Some of them, however are seen frequently, such as the girl from District Seven. The boy from Six is the only minor tribute with a speaking part and a name, Jason.

The bloodbath scene is probably my favorite in the entire film. This is where many of the stunt people shine. Many are violently thrown to the ground and stabbed to death. Some run only to be tackled and killed. A girl with pigtails looks up at the Career from District One as he spears her in the chest. A small boy with curly hair hides in the Cornucopia only to have his neck slashed when he attempts an escape.

So much from the bloodbath was cut from the movie. In the special features, tributes such as the girl from Six is snagged by Glimmer and the girl from three battles two different people, only to die by the hand of the boy from Five.

The film inspired me to create a film trailer for a class in 2013. Using what little resources I had, I filmed my own bloodbath and additional scenes. The class gave it average reviews, to my dismay. The teacher, however stated it as his favorite, citing that the actors were "really into it." So suck it, 6th hour Digital Media.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Television Review: Skins

Skins (named for the paper used to roll joints) is a 2007 television series centered around high schoolers in Bristol, England.  The program focuses on everything from drug use to student-teacher relationships. It has sparked both controversy and critical acclaim from its audiences.

What most people would have against the show would be the occasional nudity, teen drug and alcohol use and strong language. However, many high school students in both the United Kingdom and United States have faced in their lives.

The series contains real life situations such as mental illness, LGBT youth and relationships. For example, Cassie (Hannah Murray)  suffers from anorexia but is more than capable of fooling her peers  to think she is fine. Sid (Mike Bailey) has a split parent dyad; his father having the belief that he can’t do anything right. Anwar (Dev Patel, Slumdog Millionaire) faces conflict between his Muslim faith and friendship with Maxxie (Mitch Hewer), who is openly  gay. 

This particular show is unique for its method of storytelling. Each character has a central episode per season, telling the story through their point of view. Biannually, the cast is replaced as the characters graduate. Skins is relatable to many teens, whether it be the heavy material it contains or having out-of-the-ordinary friendships. In 2011, an American spin off of the same name was created. It was mostly unsuccessful, as the UK was more likely to be open minded opposed to the US.

Skins stars Nicholas Hoult (Warm Bodies), Kaya Scodelario (The Maze Runner)  and Joe Dempsie (Game of Thrones), Skins originally cast untrained actors, although Hoult had been in several films prior. Since Skins, Dev Patel received a BAFTA (British equivalent of an Oscar) nomination for his role in Slumdog Millionaire. Hannah Murray attended Cambridge University while Mitch Hewer is now a successful model.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Song Review: Lost in the Echo

Lost in the Echo is a 2012 song by American band Linkin Park. The background music is made up
of fast-paced synths matched with pounding bass. The verses are rapped by Mike Shinoda, who normally does not have the lead in most Linkin Park's songs. Chester Benington, who most listeners are familiar with performs the chorus.

During the second time around, the chorus has a surprise for its listeners. Chester lets out a tremendous scream which echos until the next verse begins. As someone who generally does not prefer screaming in music, goosebumps quickly spread across my body. It was amazing.

The music video for the single does not have an appearance  by the band, but is an incredible work of art. The synopsis is a young man with a suitcase walks into a post-apocalyptic world where he distributes photographs inside to a growing crowd of people.

 As the characters move into crumbling rooms where they study the photos. As they hold them in front of their eyes, magnificently, those seen in the pictures appear.

The characters have a strong reaction to this, where both types of characters cry out as the first scream erupts. At the end, the photos fade to a blank canvas and those holding them crumble to dust.

The man with the suitcase is seen placing photos now containing the faces of who he originally gave the pictures into his suitcase and walks away, presumably heading to another location.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Hospital

By eighth grade, my depression had taken such a turn that I was admitted to a psychiatric hospital. I was thirteen years old. My mom drove three hours, since this was the nearest hospital admitting people my age. It's a day I will never forget.

I walked into the hospital waiting room, my suitcase dragging on the tiled floor. My mom, close by, spoke with the secretary about my appointment.After a few minutes, a nurse called me into a small room. He was very friendly, but my anxiety was grasping tightly around my neck, my body trembling. I learned I would be admitted shortly after the meeting ended. 

I was lead into an even smaller room just past the adolescent wing, where a small woman with dark hair explained the rules of the hospital. No touching. No exchanging contact information. One dessert per meal. After what seemed like eternity, I was guided out of the doorway where I said goodbye. Heat rose to my face and I didn't want to let go. In the group therapy room nearby, about twenty teens looked at me, some looking unfriendly.

After being told to join the patients, I tried to explain to a nurse that my anxiety was bothering me and I didn't want to participate. I ended up having to go anyway. 

Everyone began working on our "road to recovery" drawing, mine being crude, orange scribbles. I looked up for a split second to see a strawberry-blond girl, Emma, nearby. She'd serve as eye-candy for the next few days. I remember as I explained my project, the heat rose once more to my face. We're then dismissed and before I know it, I'm walking down the hallway, to my room. A fifteen-looking boy walks by my side and explains kindly that he's my roommate, bordering on patronizing. 

I'm unpacking and he strikes up a conversation. He asks why I'm here, and I explain everything except for leaving out the big detail - that I was an in-the-closet bisexual with little self acceptance. "I cut too," he says, eyeing the red marks visible on my body. I peer over to see deep purple scars lining his arms

I met with my psychiatrist, who I nicknamed "Doctor Weirdie." She was tall and skinny, around fifty with slightly protruding teeth. At the end of the session,  I was diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder, due to the uncontrollable thoughts  I'd have that would torment me. She also said I seemed "a little bipolar," but they don't diagnose until in the twenties.

The group heads for the gymnasium after everyone has met with their assigned psychiatrist. The counselors wave their ID's over a sensor in front of every doorway, to verify that they aren't a runaway patient or an unauthorized visitor.

Inside, the floor is covered in carpet and worn down exercise machines line the walls. A few kids play basketball while others are at the far end, on the exercise bikes. The counselors then gather everyone at one wall, saying the group will be playing some sort of tag. By the second round, I'm it.

Amazingly, my anxiety evaporated into thin air. I was actually happy for the first time in three years. As a boy in his early teens, speed was on my side. I remember snagging Emma, "you're fast!" she exclaims. I'm sure most of the other patients agreed.

We settled down afterwards by watching Patch Adams starring Robin Williams. Midway through, the television is turned off and everyone scrambles for the phones. I'm able to talk with my mom who is staying at a nearby hotel, where I explain I'm doing better than I thought.

When it's time for bed, after a patient was discharged, I learned I'd get a room to myself. I was disappointed, as I had become comfortable with my roommate. The night was hard, as I thought a lot about my family.

The next morning, I wake up to see a few more patients, a boy with black hair and a lip ring along with a girl in blue scrubs. The nurses and counselors take our vitals and then lead us to the cafeteria. In line, I see only one thing that looks good. A cinnamon roll is all that I have on my tray when I sit down. A counselor walks over to me and sternly tells me to get something else besides "this dessert." I glumly walk back to the food and grab a box of cereal.

Group therapy comes next where a tall man with glasses leads. He isn't afraid to use profane language as he speaks with every individual. I'm surprised when I hear stories of sex, drug use and other things the patients speak about. 

Throughout my five days there, we watched movies, excersised and did artwork. My favorite was still group therapy, where I received input on my problems. 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

If I ran the Oscars, Golden Globes and the Emmys...

Neytiri, Avatar

Zoe Saldana's breathtaking performance as Neyriri, a native to the fictional planet, Pandora, was one of the strongest performances I have ever seen. She was never nominated for an Oscar or Golden Globe, which shocked me.

John Coffey, The Green Mile

As a big man with an even bigger heart, John Coffey was a curious character who could create miracles while on death row for a crime he was convicted of. Michael Clarke Duncan received an Oscar nomination, but ultimately lost to Micheal Caine.

Esther, Orphan

Although Orphan has received mostly mixed reviews from critics, Isabelle Fuhrman did an extraordinary job portraying the psychopathic adopted daughter of an American family. Fuhrman was a mere twelve years old at the time and pulled off a brilliant performance with a Russian accent.

Elizabeth Shaw, Prometheus

Swedish actress Noomi Repace portrays this strong willed scientist in this prequel to the Alien franchise. Her character faced intense and dramatic scenes, including being conscious during surgery. She was not nominated for an Oscar or Golden Globe.

Arnie Grape, What's Eating Gilbert Grape

Starring opposite Johnny Depp, Leonardo DiCaprio, a man in his early twenties played a mentally challenged boy in a poor family. DiCaprio's performance was so believable, it seemed as if he actually had the same impairment as his character. He was nominated for an Oscar but unfortunately lost.

John Proctor, The Crucible

Daniel Day-Lewis stars alongside Joan Allen and Winona Ryder in this adaptation of Arthur Miller's play about the Salem witch trials. Proctor was faced with having to defend himself and the rest of Salem against Abigail Williams and the other accusers, requiring a dramatic performance. Lewis was nominated for an Oscar but did not win.

Abigail Williams, The Crucible

As a girl who will get what she wants and when she wants, Abigail is a wicked and a gifted liar. Winona Ryder was well suited for this role, portraying her character extremely well.

Byron Hadley, The Shawshank Redemption

Clancy Brown, well known for playing Mr. Krabbs on the popular children's program Spongebob Squarepants, gave a stunning performance as a ruthless guard in a tightly wound prison. Hadley was violent, somewhat homicidal with little fear. 

Rachel Ferrier, War of the Worlds

Dakota Fanning was magnificent at playing a a sensitive and somewhat unstable little girl in this scifi thriller, surpassing the talent of any of her co-stars.

Leroy Jethro Gibbs, NCIS

The thick-skinned leader of a crime drama, agent Gibbs is strong willed and quite a hard ass. In reality, Mark Harmon is the sheer opposite of his two-time People's Choice Award nominee.

Eunice Burns, What's Up, Doc?

As the loud and fairly annoying fiancee of Dr. Howard Bannister, Eunice Burns was a bossy and strong willed woman. Madeline Kahn received a Golden Globe nomination for her role.

Amy Farah Fowler, The Big Bang Theory

As the girlfriend of Sheldon Cooper, Amy is very similar to his quirky personality, being very different from most of the group and at the same time being an accomplished neuroscientist. Mayim Bialik has received two Emmy nominations so far.

Cassie Ainsworth, Skins

Cassie, an anorexic, pill-popping high schooler lives in her own little world, often being disappointed by her boyfriend, Sid, as well as dealing with depression and friendship difficulties. Hannah Murray was truly amazing in this role, being an untrained actress at the start of the series. Murray was nominated for a BAFTA audience award in 2009. 

Giselle, Enchanted

The blissfully naive princess-to-be that winds up in the busy streets of New York without a clue about this society. She has no sense of what to do and is a burden to the man who discovered her. 

Tiffany "Pennsatucky" Doggett, Orange is the New Black

Taryn Manning, known for small roles such as in 8 Mile, gives a breathtaking performance as a meth addicted prisoner who shoves religion down everyone else's throats, even though she's a hypocrite. She deserved not only an Emmy nomination, but a Golden Globe as well.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Why I Hate iCarly

The episode "iLost My Mind" from the Nickelodeon sitcom iCarly is truly idiotic and offensive.

The plot of the episode revolves around character Samantha Puckett who admits herself to a psychiatric hospital because she has feelings for the technical producer of her web series. Not because he's a forty-six- year-old man or a convicted murderer -- He's just a nerd.

It is preposterous to seek psychiatric help for this reason, let alone being admitted. When Samantha's co-host learns of this, she recruits a few pals and goes to the hospital to rescue her confused friend.

When the group gets there, the patients are depicted as dirty, crazy and over the top obnoxious, which is far from what actual psychiatric patients look like. It is a shame how iCarly's writers are misinforming their young viewers with an inaccurate portrayal of the mentally ill.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Anxiety, Anxiety, Go Away

I was diagnosed with OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder) in 2010. Not only am I plagued by intrusive thoughts, anxiety is another factor.

I've had the symptoms since I was young, feeling shy around new people. By fourth grade, when I went to a new school, rules were a lot stricter. You'd get a detention for doing many things.  I'm lucky that I never got one, but many classmates who were generally good kids got them. 

Sixth grade was a whole new story. The middle school required moving to a new class every period within four minutes. If you were late, you received a one point infraction. Forgetting anything required for class resulted in one as well. Three points were given for rule breaking and five for anything more severe. Any student that had more than two infractions per week was sentenced to detention during lunch. 

Adjusting to this new lifestyle was difficult. My combination on my locker always gave me trouble. I'd frantically run back and forth in between classes for my books, where four minutes were barely enough. My first infraction was for being late to science class. My heart pounded out of my chest as I entered the room.  

By Thursday, I had an additional point for forgetting my student planner. The third, on Friday I broke down in tears. Pathetic, right? I'm a good kid, why am I getting a detention for everyday mistakes?

On Monday, I got a slip in hometown instructing me to go into the auditorium during lunch. I sat down on stage, facing the wall, in front of the whole study hall with the rest of the sixth graders who were as unfortunate as me. Waves of anxiety rattled down my spine for the full half hour. At least I was able to hold back tears this time. 

Tuesday, September 18th, 2007, I got a surprise. The teacher handed me a slip of paper in home room. It couldn't be. I had another detention, a fourth point was given. How? My heart fell to the bottom of my lungs. 

I remember vomiting from how anxious I felt. I ended up going home and sobbing to my mother when I told her what happened over the phone. 

The next day my teacher gave me a sheet that said which teachers gave me points. Someone else gave me one on Thursday of last week without telling me. Since the one on Friday wasn't counted until Monday, that explained why I had a second consecutive detention. 

For seventh grade, I switched to the local charter school who was much more lenient about their rules. It was still hard to adjust to new peers, but I ended up staying another year. 

My freshman year, I decided to transfer to the traditional way of education. High school. 

My first day, almost everyone I knew from sixth grade had changed. New cliques formed  which confused me about who to talk with. During lunch, I mostly sat alone, to scared to introduce myself to anyone. 

I rarely made eye contact which led one classmate to think I had autism. People often patronized me because I was quiet and was socially naïve. The year seemed like an eternity, but I made it through in once piece.

Today, three years later, my anxiety is still present, but thankfully, I'm on medication that reduces it to a lower degree. I've made progress, coming somewhat out of my shell. I still have my moments, but compared to the past, I feel tremendously better. Now all I need to do is talk louder!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Favorite Quotations from Movies and TV

This post contains strong language

"Get away from her, you bitch!" Ellen Ripley, Aliens

"For fuck's sake!" - Michelle Richardson, Skins

"You're the Black Eyed Peas!" - Fisherman Scully, Vampires Suck

"Mike Wazowski!" - Boo, Monsters, Inc.

"Oh wow!" - Cassie Ainsworth, Skins

"I can smell you." - Dug, Up

"Not my daughter, you bitch!" - Molly Weasley, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2

"Then bippity, boppity, boo; our pants are metaphorically on fire." - Sheldon Cooper, The Big Bang Theory

"Fuck it; be bad." - Maxxie Oliver,

"Inconceivable!" - Vizzini, The Princess Bride

"Is mayonnaise and instrument?" - Patrick Star, SpongeBob SquarePants 

"You're not the only one with a gun, bitch." - Trudy Chacon, Avatar

"Dobby never meant to kill. Only to maim or seriously injure." - Dobby, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

"Just keep swimming." Dory, Finding Nemo

"I'm sorry, but were you dropped on your head as an infant, or were you just born stupid?" - Skeeter Phelen, The Help

"My precious..." - Gollum, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

"Mama always said life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get." - Forrest Gump, Forrest Gump

"At least it's not herpes. Or do you have that as well?" - Fat Amy, Pitch Perfect

"Oh my god, is that a fucking rat?!" - Lois Griffin, Family Guy

"Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father; prepare to die." - Inigo, The Princess Bride 

"Love, love, love. What is it good for? Absolutely nothing." - Effy Stonem, Skins

"I don't think my father, the inventor of toaster strudel, will be too pleased to hear about this." - Gretchen Wieners, Mean Girls

"Like the drink, only not spelled the same." - John Coffey, The Green Mile

"So be brave and want me back." - Emily Fitch, Skins

"I'd rather be his whore than your wife." - Rose DeWitt-Bukater, Titanic

"I'll die first." - Tamina, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time

"Where's the leak, ma'am?" - Patrick Star

"I'm a horny engineer. I never joke about math or sex." - Howard Wolowitz, The Big Bang Theory

"Let's call it Steve!" - Hammy, Over the Hedge

"I thought you were a female!" - Sid, Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs

"You is kind, you is smart, you is important." - Abilene Clark, The Help

"Ah, gravity, thou art a heartless bitch." - Sheldon Cooper

"Kind of a double-edged sword, isn't it. You say you haven't, you're a prude. If you say you have, you're a slut." - Allison Reynolds, - The Breakfast Club 
"What's the matter? Is he stupid?" - Patrick Star

"Why don't you throw the sword?" Katniss Everdeen, The Hunger Games

"Just keep swimming." - Dory, Finding Nemo

"I'm not your fucking mommy!" - Kate Coleman, Orphan

" I'm Katie-Fucking-Fitch, who the fuck are you?!" - Katie Fitch, Skins

Sunday, November 10, 2013

A reply from a famous person

So, last year, I was still obsessed with the Hunger Games. I found it interesting that many of the tribute cast were stunt actors, one of which being Kara Petersen.

I remember reading in the Hunger Games Wiki that that the tribute played by Petersen had a name in the film, along with several other similar characters. I was curious to learn more about this tribute, as little was published about the character.

So far, my twitter hadn't been doing so hot. Every tweet so far went unanswered, I guess that's not a surprise, since most celebrities get hit with a thousand tweets a day. But decided, what the hell, it can't hurt, so I did it.

In a few days, I got a reply! I couldn't believe it. I got a response from someone famous. I suppose I bragged a bit on Facebook and Instagram, but I didn't care, this was the highlight of my year.

My English teacher got arrested...

My senior year, nine staff members at my school were replaced. I ended up having only one of them, an English teacher I'll call Mr. Smith. Second hour, I walked into class seeing a man in his mid thirties, wearing hipster glasses, his dark hair slicked back. Tattoos were visible on his arm.

For my class, journalistic writing, this rebellious appearing but interesting man had us do a series of projects such as an article derived from Louie Psihoyos' film, The Cove. Although he was absent for days at a time, we sure had some interesting lesson plans. One day, we were instructed to write a review of the movie Kill Bill: Volume One. We also watched the iconic horror, The Birds (although we never got to finish it).

It was one Monday morning, last week, when he was gone again. Our substitute, a former teacher at the high school brought his own video this time, the special effects of Forrest Gump. I finally got to see how they made Lieutenant Dan's legs disappear.

That night, I saw a peculiar post on Facebook from a classmate. It stated that Mr. Smith was caught stealing from the school, growing weed and had a disorderly conduct charge. I once had a teacher that looked like a supermodel but loved fishing, but that still wasn't as rare as having your own teacher arrested. 

In the news today, I found out that he is accused of stealing lab equipment, three laptops and growing 66 marijuana plants. This is the fifth English teacher I've had that either lost their job or resigned since I began my high school career.


Mr. Smith was fired alongside two other school district employees for the involvement of stealing lab equipment. Several months later, He was arrested for stealing a computer monitor from a local hospital.

Astrophysisist uses operant conditioning

Imagine returning home from the university. You’re tired and ready for a relaxing night of watching Anime television to wind down.
But there is one problem. Your roommate has this annoying girlfriend who he often invites to the apartment. She obnoxiously interrupts with crazy stories, including one about her one-nostrilled classmate.
“Her behavior was always getting on my nerves,” Sheldon Cooper told us, “My roommate, Leonard, refuses to do anything about his girlfriend’s behavior, so I took things into my own hands.”

The next time Leonard’s girlfriend, Penny, came over to watch television with them, Cooper rewarded her for behaving the way he wanted her to.
“She started off by talking about irrelevant subjects during the program. I reminded her that her chattering was not appropriate here, and she told me she would be quiet. ”
After shutting her mouth, Cooper rewarded Penny with a chocolate, as positive reinforcement to motivate her to stay silent instead of talking about idiotic things.

Cooper stated “Leonard was not happy about the last way I tried to correct Penny’s actions, so I figured operant conditioning would be a much less difficult and acceptable procedure in his eyes.”
Cooper also told us that he had a spray bottle handy in case Penny would get too out of hand, as a form of negative reinforcement.”
“I never ended up using that technique on Penny. When Leonard forbade me from conditioning Penny, I sprayed him instead.”

Movie Review: Vampires Suck

Vampires Suck, starring Jenn Proske and Matt Lanter, is poorly received by critics and viewers alike. Maybe the film was crude, occasionally offensive and stupid. But it was perfect by saying all of the right jokes to spoof the chick flick sensation, Twilight.

Scenes such as Edward watching Bella in Twilight were wonderfully exaggerated, as well as Bella's friends and other experiences with Edward. Scenes with the "White" family were very humorous as well the one involving "Fisherman Sculley."

Characters like Edward, Jacob, Bella and Jessica were well portrayed by their spoofing actors. The writing was well done and favorably.

Vampires Suck was meant to be a terrible movie, which many viewers seem to miss. Punchlines will keep many viewers laughing until it hurts.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

The Incredible Avril Lavigne

Since the beginning, I've been a fan of Avril Lavigne. I remember on a five hour trip to my grandparent's house, "Complicated" was on the radio and I was instantly hooked. Of course, I was only six, and that sort of teen-pop is what spoke to me.

Years later, I kept confusing her music with that of Kelly Clarkson (don't ask me why). Because I am American and she is Canadian, only "My Happy Ending" made the radio from her sophomore album, Under My Skin.

2007 was a new year for me and a new one for her. She dyed her hair blond and I just stated middle school when her single "Girlfriend" hit the radio. At age eleven, I was hooked once more. I was always open about being in love with this stunning then 23-year-old. Maybe a little too open. My friends were often annoyed. Soon, her third album, The Best Damn Thing was released. I was a bit surprised how much language she used and how in-your-face the lyrics were, quite different from her last two records. Nonetheless, I enjoyed it.

By fall of 2008, I got my hands on her previous albums.  Let Go was mostly upbeat, showing her wild side. Under My Skin was a bit darker, appearing more mature. Tracks such as :Sk8er Boi," "My World," "Take Me Away" and "Nobody's Home" were soon amongst my favorites.

By 2011, after a four year hiatus, my love for Avril had decreased. She was still one of my favorite artists, but seemed to have disappeared off of the face of the earth. I got a surprise in the winter when I saw her video for "What the Hell" on television. This added more kindle to the fire. It wasn't until I heard "Smile" for the first time that I fell for her again. The chorus was so powerful and the music video was impressive.

2013 came along. Early summer, "Here's to Never Growing Up" was advertised all over YouTube. At first, my view on the song was mixed, however, it took little time to become my favorite of the summer. As well as obtaining her second single, "Rock n Roll," I got my hands on her B-Side recordings that never made her albums. "Get Over It" and "I Will Be" (yeah, she had her own recording before signing it over to Leona Lewis) I still enjoy now. After I started my senior year, "Let Me Go," featuring her newly married husband made its debut. Like Smile, I was hooked on the first listen. Her fifth, self-titled, album was released in November of 2013. I guess being 29 and looking like you're still 23 make sense since her new theme is "never growing up."

Skins: a Drama Like No Other

Cassie in episode two
I guess I'm a sucker for British dramas. I was introduced to the hit E4 drama Skins through the blogging website, Tumblr, last year.  I admit, I watched it because Kaya Scodelario's beauty lured me to the show.

The first episode I watched was "Effy" from season two (2008).
I was surprised by the strong language, sexual content and teen drug use (probably why it's rated TV-MA). Effy (Scodelario), a girl in her mid teens is the central character for the episode. She is strikingly attractive and enters blowing smoke rings, a cigarette in her hand. Her brother, Tony (Nicholas Hoult, About A Boy, Warm Bodies), sits at their table. He is recovering from a bus accident and appears somewhat distant. She goes to school, is introduced to Pandora (Lisa Blackwell), who hangs around her for most of the remaining episode. Later, Effy goes with her new friend to buy drugs from Cassie (Hannah Murray, Chatroom), a friend of her brother. Cassie is a peculiar character, having a similar personality to Luna Lovegood from the Harry Potter franchise. After getting what she needed, Effy then goes to a party, where Pandora takes drugs for the first time and ends up begin carried out of the facility by Tony.
Tony kisses Maxxie to "try something new"

I didn't realize that Skins is no ordinary television series. The cast is replaced biannually (with the exception of Kaya and Lisa). Each episode of the season focuses on a different member of the cast, still involving the others. The episode I saw was in the middle of the second season, so I had missed quite a bit about the first generation.

Effy approaches Cook
I turned to season one (2007), where Tony has not yet had his accident. He is the center of a group of friends that frequently smoke weed, go to parties and swear constantly. Among the cast is Jal (Larissa Wilson), a talented musician. Maxxie (Mitch Hewer), who is gay, is accepted by the group despite falling into a category with a large stigma. Sid (Mike Bailey), a bit of a deadbeat, is Tony's best friend, wearing glasses and a beanie. Cassie is anorexic but is able to pull off a facade to fool the others into thinking she is fine. Chris is a pill-popping student who has an attraction to his psychology instruction. Anwar is a Muslim, his beliefs often conflict with his good friendship with Maxxie. This leaves Michelle (April Pearson, Tormented), Tony's girlfriend, who she is often manipulated by.

When I finished the first and second season, I couldn't get enough of these characters. It was very hard indeed to accept the fact that the majority of them would leave Skins forever, passing the show on to supporting characters Effy and Pandora.
Naomi showing her charm

I was hesitant to start the new season, with a new generation (2009-2010), because the first two episodes were not as strong as most of generation one's. After the third episode, my mind changed.

Effy is mysterious and caught in a love triangle with Freddie and Cook. Katie and Emily Fitch (Megan and Kathryn Prescott) are identical on the outside, but far from the same on the inside. Naomi is struggling with her feelings. Cook is loud and obnoxious, scoring with Effy on episode one. JJ (Ollie Barberi) has high functioning autism but is very intelligent. Thomas has just immigrated, alone, from the Congo and is unfamiliar with Bristol. Pandora is still by Effy's side but continues to be very naïve.
Emily and Naomi make an unlikely pair

The characters from generation two ended up being just as preferable. The writing differed somewhat, tending to be more serious than generation two. As with generation three, I chose not to finish, as the new cast was not nearly as likable compared to the last four seasons.

Film Review: ParaNorman (2012)

Starring Kodi Smit-McPhee, Anna Kendrick, Casey Affleck

ParaNorman had a unique concept of a boy who is able to see ghosts -- not actually original, where this has been seen in The Sixth Sense and Ghost WhispererThe film shows the protagonist, Norman, to be a misunderstood and out-of-place student at school where he is constantly bullied.

He eventually is able to solve some curse that a young girl put on the town for executing her for which craft. The writing for ParaNorman was very boring and several punchlines would go without laughter. Several aspects of the plot were a failure, such as the unlikable characters, some who were also unoriginal, such as 'Neil', who bares a very strong resemblance in design to the character 'Chowder' from Monster House (which is also a Halloween film).

Film Review: Painful Secrets (2000)

Starring Kimberlee Peterson, Rhea Pearlman, Sean Young

Dawn Cottrell is a pretty, artistic girl who is just trying to fit into high school. Her one problem is that she suffers from a phenomenon known as 'self mutilation' where she injures herself by slashing at her skin to relieve stress. Not only is school difficult for Dawn, but her home life is less to be desired. She has an ignorant mother who poorly understands Dawn and her problem, a father who she can barely identify with and a brother who she does not see eye to eye with. Dawn later seeks help from a psychiatrist who assists to ease her pain.

Secret Cutting depicts a topic that is in need of understanding, as self mutilation is often seen as taboo and as attention seeking. The film portrays 'cutters' to be sexually promiscuous, unstable and to live in dysfunctional families.

Despite the flawed story line, Sean Young, Kimberlee Peterson and Rhea Pearlman were excellent actors.