Critical Assessment: “The Giver”

In step with the wave of popular young adult novels-turned-films, an official trailer for the film version of Lois Lowry’s “The Giver” has been released.

The film, produced by The Weinstein Company, is based on Lowry’s 1994 Newberry Medal-winning dystopian novel about Jonas, a young boy about to turn 12 and receive the job title that he’ll have for the rest of his life. Once he is appointed as the  new “Receiver of Memory,” Jonas learns the world as he knew it isn’t what he thought it was.

The trailer is only about a minute and a half long and doesn’t offer much story, but plenty of visuals. The editing is extremely fast-paced. There may be at least 40 shots (I lost count at the flashing montage) stacked into less than two minutes. The voiceover and the dramatic score gives a sense of impending doom, but again, not much story.

Additionally, all the scenes are shot in color. One of the poignant revelations of the novel is that neither Jonas, nor anyone in his community experiences color, because the community banned it in order to have “Sameness.” There is a possibility that only the trailer was shot in all-color.

Having read the book,  the trailer does not attract me to the film. The shots are so quick that I felt like I needed just a couple seconds more of each shot to actually see the scene. (The length of the shot of Jonas and the Giver felt the longest, and it was only about six seconds long.) The trailer reminded me much more of the recent “Hunger Games” films rather than what I envisioned for “The Giver,” but that may be a selling point for fans of other films based on young adult novels.

The film opens in theaters on Aug. 15.

 

MINI PROFILE: WHEN A DREAM COMES TRUE

Manuel Giannantonio is an example of how dreams can come true, if one deeply believes in them.

Giannantonio, 29, grew up in Perugia, Italy, where he attended high school and studied political science at the University.

But, since his childhood, he had one dream: to become a writer and journalist.

“Writing for me represents everything”, he said during a phone interview. “When I write I feel good, I feel alive.”

Since 2011, he has been the editor of the website 2duerighe.com’s foreign affairs section, and he has collaborated with other websites, such as fanpage.it. He has also written about technology and liberty of expression.

Giannantonio, according to the DataMediaHUB.it (it collects information about Italian media) is one of the most followed journalists on Twitter in Italy. “I like to interact on Twitter because it is immediate,” he said. Being in that race, for him, is a good satisfaction.

In addition, what has always really captured his attention was the international movement of activist and hacker called Anonymous. He wrote many articles about the movement, and he became so passionate about it that he published in April 2013 the book Anonymous: Luce sulla guerra nell’ombra (Anonymous: Light on the war conducted in the shadow).

Manuel Giannantonio with his first book
Manuel Giannantonio with his first book

The book describes this international group’s attacks on corporate websites and governments. Critics reviewed Giannantonio’s work in a positive way particularly because of his simple writing style. And soon the book ranked in the Top Books rate sold online by the Italian ilmiolibro.it.

For Giannantonio, the information is very important to understand our reality. “In order to be able to live our present we need to be well informed,” he said. “The Information’s transparency is our main goal.”

Critical Analysis – “How I Met Your Mother” – **EDITED**

With all the suspense leading up to the finale of “How I Met Your Mother” on March 31, I decided to binge-watch all nine seasons of the show over the winter break and came to a conclusion as to why it is such a hit: it brings out the nostalgia of other television shows such as “Friends” and “Sex and the City.”

Courtesy of Collider.com

After “Friends” ended in 2004, its fans were left without their guides into New York City life.   “How I Met Your Mother,” premiering just a year later, solved that problem.  Rachel, Phoebe, Monica, Chandler, Ross and Joey were replaced by Ted, Robin, Lilly, Marshall, and Barney.  The “Friends”  hangout Central Perk became the new gang’s watering hole MacLaren’s and Rachel and Monica’s apartment is now Ted, Lilly and Marshall’s apartment.

Courtesy of Ended TV Series

But “How I Met Your Mother” is also comparable to “Sex and the City.” Ted is almost reminiscent of a female Carrie Bradshaw — he’s completely selfish and a sucker for love, but he is the most loyal friend, which softens his selfishness.  He proves this when he chooses not to marry a woman who wants him to end his friendship with Robin.

Meanwhile, Barney Stinson is clearly Samantha Jones, as they both sleep around New York City. Marshall and Miranda share the same profession — law. Lilly’s perceived innocence is similar to Charlotte’s mannerisms. Finally, Robin is a combination of the four women. She pursues an unobtainable relationship that ends in marriage like Carrie and is hardworking like Miranda. She is confident and stands her ground like Samantha, and seeks others’ approval like Charlotte.

I believe that all fans, not just those from New York, love the idea of the big apple. Living in one of the world’s greatest cities has always been seen as a luxury or desire — and these characters get to do it. “How I Met Your Mother” has even inspired real-life tours of the city.

I’m a firm believer that “How I Met Your Mother” is not it’s own show, but a combination of other hit shows. Regardless, I’m still binge-watching and understand why others do as well.

Mini Profile – Brett Cohen **EDITED**

You may recognize Long Island native Brett Cohen from his viral YouTube video, “Fake Celebrity Pranks New York City,” or from his subsequent appearances on “The Today Show” and “Good Morning America.”

The 23-year-old media marketing manager first grabbed the public’s attention two years ago when he hired “bodyguards” and “paparazzi” from Craigslist and had them follow him through Times Square one Friday night for three hours. He said he never expected the prank would be so successful.

“Within four hours the video went viral on Reddit,” Cohen said. “The next day I was getting phone calls from all over the world, from newspapers, from news organizations, TV shows all wanting to book me.”

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The video came out of a joke over lunch with his friend Edward Sturm.

“I told Brett that I thought he was an actual celebrity when I met him,” said Sturm, 25.

But Cohen said that becoming a real celebrity was an something he was not prepared for.

“It took a toll on me personally for a while,” he said of the extensive media tour. “I was definitely depressed for a period of time. It screwed up a lot of relationships with friends and family members.”

He declined to comment further on the matter, but said that since the video has died down and his relationships have been repaired, he’s been able to focus on other projects — like getting ready for his debut on Australian television.

“It wasn’t something I was sure I wanted to do,” he said of the show that is set to air later this year. “But I had the opportunity to go and it was an opportunity to extend my opportunities.”

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He said he’s unsure about when it will air in the U.S. but hopes that it’s in the near future — he’s been making some new YouTube videos that can use some publicity.

“I just know that I enjoy this,” Cohen said. “It’s my outlet and it’s something I’m going to continue to do as long as I possibly can without ruining my professional career.”

Profile: Jeff Huckleberry

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Jeff Huckleberry is naked. He’s standing in front of four huge pieces of plywood parallel to one another, each separated by about a foot. They’re about an inch thick but at least 7 feet tall, looming over his 6’5” frame. Slowly, methodically, he starts leaning into the first piece of wood, putting all his weight into the board. The wood starts to creak and splinter and he forces his way through, careful to keep his tender parts free from shards.

Huckleberry, 44, has been a part of the performance art world for 23 years. After growing up in the Colorado mountains, he moved to Boston to attend the Museum School. In the two decades since, Huckleberry has blossomed into one of the world’s most arresting physical artists, spreading his gospel of paint and wood from Canada to Poland. He’s also gained a family—his wife of 18 years, Sandy, and their son, Wilder.

“It’s a very personal, internal experience for me,” Huckleberry tells me over the phone. “I don’t think about the audience at the show, I think about the what’s happening to me, the feeling of wood cracking. I wanted people to get that close, so I started shooting video.”

His performance art is always filmed, often a very simple one-camera setup. “Having these videos was probably the best decision I’ve made with regards to my art,” he said. “After I sent them out I was invited to festivals all over the world, it became easier to show what I was doing.”

The performance art community began to take notice, and Huckleberry soon found himself fielding offers from universities to come teach. ”It doesn’t make real sense to me, to be honest,” he laughs. “Performance is what you make it, I’m not sure what I could be teaching.”
– Graham Corrigan