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by: 
Jeremiah, Teen Contributor

Anomalisa began not as a film, but as a stage play. Written by the brilliant Charlie Kaufman, the play featured 3 actors, standing off to one side of the stage, acting mainly with their voices and with no movement.The staging was designed by Kaufman to spark the imagination of the crowd. Instead of showing the characters doing things, the setup made the audience visualize the wild and crazy story. Anomalisa was intended to be a fleeting thing, a special experience reserved only for those that attended the limited release.

Luckily, for the rest of us who didn’t have a chance to get out to the theatre, Kickstarter funded the film adaptation of Charlie Kaufman’s play, turning it into the stop motion Academy Award nominated beast it has become. The resulting product is amazing, unbelieveable, crazy, touching, and absolutely lovely. It’s world is perfectly realized, with believable characters and a relatable protagonist.

I would like to tell you the story of Anomalisa, what the inciting incident is and the setup and all of that, but I don’t think it’s wise. The trailer does a great job of hinting at the story without spoiling anything, and the official IMDB description reads “A man crippled by the mundanity of his life experiences something out of the ordinary.” As much as I am generally opposed to vague marketing and J.J. Abrams’ “Mystery Box”(the marketing was a big problem I had with Star Wars), I respect Anomalisa’s use of this strategy, and actually think an audience member will get the most out of the experience knowing the least amount possible about the story. You can find any number of synopsis’ on the internet, explaining what the setup of the film is, and if you’re so inclined, you can find one and read it. And even though you now spoiled the premise for yourself, viewing it is going to be a great experience despite the knowledge you possess. But unfortunately you lose the investigative aspect of the film. You can never gain back the adventure of finding out more and more about the story and world, and it is for that reason you will find no such description here.

All that you need to know about Anomalisa at this moment is that it is a story from the mind of Charlie Kaufman, who created such unique and amazing works as Being John Malkovich, Adaptation, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Well known for his unique and hilarious writing style, he does not disappoint with his most recent endeavour.

The stop-motion animation is very fluid and beautiful, showcasing the ideas and messages pursued throughout the film perfectly. Duke Johnson was chosen to co-direct alongside Kaufman, and he was the perfect choice. Johnson is a true veteran of the stop motion world, having worked on many different projects in the field. I cannot emphasize how important and influential he was for Anomalisa to become a success. He and Kaufman made an affecting stylistic film that stays true to the story’s original vision.

The style really elevates the film creating a consistently wonderful tone throughout. Kaufman was worried that in its transfer to screen, Anomalisa would lose the magical, imaginative aspect it had developed in its theatrical run, but the magic is still very much alive through the puppets, and sets.

Anomalisa is an amazing film. I cannot express enough the emotions that are elicited through this movie. It’s touching, amazing, beautiful, funny, sad, and melancholy. It deserved it’s Best Animation Nomination, and I believe it deserves to win Best Animated Picture (even though Inside Out is totally going to win. Inside Out wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t nearly as good as this was). You are doing a disservice to yourself if you miss out on this one. 9/10

 

by: 
Chase, Teen Contributor

Nature always wears the colors of the spirit.

-Ralph Waldo Emerson

by: 
William, Teen Contributor

Haze's Grandfather was working on something that could make a new superhero like Ex.67 during the age of super humans. Then many years later Haze had found his Grandfather's work. What he found was: A suit, smoke pellets, holster with a gun, and a smoke recipe sheet. When Haze put on the suit he felt a wave of strength surging through him. He then started busting out villains from sphere 13 (a villain society getting the world ready for the sphere). I will explain later about the villain society....

by: 
Caitlin, Teen Contributor

Real talk: it’s Valentine’s Day, and I still like books more than people. I have unrealistically high expectations because I’ve read so many romance novels. I’m waiting for my Park Sheridan, Augustus Waters, Étienne St. Clair… *sighs* Anyway, in honor of Single Awareness Day (a.k.a. Valentine’s Day), I’ve compiled a list of my favorite romance novels. Don't forget to check out my blog for more YA book reviews and recommendations and follow me on Instagram for updates every time I post! 

 

My Favorite YA Romance Novels (In No Particular Order): 

1. Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell 

2. The Fault In Our Stars by John Green 

3. Anna and the French Kiss (series) by Stephanie Perkins 

4. If I Stay by Gayle Forman 

5. My Heart and Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga 

6. I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson 

7. The Game of Love and Death by Martha Brockenbrough 

8. The Selection (series) by Kierra Cass 

9. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

10. Delirium (trilogy) by Lauren Oliver 

 

by: 
Emily, Teen Contributor

In a kingdom in lands far away,

years that passed before this day. 

Lived a princess in captivity,

trapped in a tower by the sea. 

King Callous ruled the kingdom's land 

with a fearsome scowl and a ruthless hand. 

It was by his doing that she was trapped--

for one day at court his anger snapped.

Banishing her to a distant tower,

he felt no remorse, but greed and power.

She was led away against her will,

only allowed to bring paper and quill. 

She spent her time simply writing away, 

to her guard's delight and her father's dismay. 

The written stories gave her hope. 

And one day, though her telescope,

she spied a man riding her way,

rubbed her eyes, and began to sway.

For years she'd been the land's outcast,

but now she'd be rescued, and break from her past. 

He rode quickly across the land,

with a bunch of flowers in his hand.

"Fair maiden," he called, "years it's been.

How nice to see you once again!

Do you, by chance, remember me?

We were betrothed when we were three.

I've come now to rescue my captive bride."

And into the sunset they did ride. 

 

Image Credit: Douglas Scortegagna  on Flickr

by: 
Jen, Teen Contributor

Full disclosure: I did NOT want to see this movie from the beginning. This was one of those situations where I was overruled and had to take one for the team, so to speak. I enjoy zombie movies, don't get me wrong, but I am a huge Jane Austen fan and the thought of this zombie mash-up made me cringe. With that said, I have a few thoughts about this film. 

It is a loose retelling of the classic work by Jane Austen. The characters from different social classes are struggling their way through relationship woes...all while fighting the undead horde. There was a good amount of action and humor to keep me interested throughout the whole film. I wasn't rolling my eyes as much as I expected and though I am a litltle reluctant to admit it, I enjoyed this movie. I would recommend it to anyone looking for a zombie movie who doesn't want too much gore. Expect a B movie with a high production cost. I give it 3/5 stars. 

by: 
Emily, Teen Contributor

 

On these cold winter days, sometimes it is nice to find beauty in the small things. Spring is just around the corner, afterall. 

by: 
William, Teen Contributor

This fearsome foe of super heroes is TOX, the villain who uses special gases and chemicals to kill anyone who tries to stop him. The gases and chemicals he uses affect people in different ways. Like a gas that makes you weak or knocks you out. Heros beware of TOX.

by: 
William, Teen Contributor

This big guy looks like a bad guy, but he is not!!! Wolf spider had been mutated by a experimental spider that went wrong and bit into his heart. When the venom spread to the rest of his body he went on a rampage. But then he had some medicine he could control himself. The medicine was made from a different superhero, and a smart one, called Utility (more on that guy later). Now wolf spider is a hero. 

 

by: 
Caitlin, Teen Contributor

Book Basics: The Game of Love and Death by Martha Brockenbrough  

Published: April 2015, Arthur A. Levine Books 

Genre: YA, romance, historical fiction  

Page Count: 336 (hardcover) 

Star Rating: ★★★★ 

Recommended For/If You Liked: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern or The Book Thief by Markus Zusak 

This review is basically going to be me freaking out about how much I loved this book. You’ve been warned. 

Romeo and Juliet, Antony and Cleopatra… the fate of any pair of star-crossed lovers you can think of throughout history has been influenced by Love and Death as they play their Game, one that inevitably ends with Death taking both players. Now, in 1927 Seattle, the players are Henry, a white orphan with a talent for music and Flora, a black orphan, talented jazz singer, and pilot. Can Henry and Flora beat the odds and let Love claim a victory, or will Death win, as per usual? Only the strength of their love will determine the winner.

I loved how Martha Brockenbrough wrote the characters of Love and Death. There was this excellent mix of human emotions that they showed and their seemingly divine interventions in the Game that made them not quite human, but not quite gods either. (This element is what makes the book similar to The Book Thief or The Night Circus, but though the idea wasn’t original, the author took the idea in an entirely new direction).  Also, Love was written as male and Death as female, so their characters destroyed gender stereotypes, which made them even more awesome. The other characters were also stunningly written, but I enjoyed the development of Love and Death the most. 

The book’s setting (rainy Seattle, 1927) contributed beautifully to the plot and mood as the characters struggled with issues of racism, sexism, homophobia, and poverty. These external struggles further complicated the characters’ internal struggles of love and loyalty and staying true to oneself. Martha Brockenbrough did a fantastic job writing these tough issues in a way that made the reader thoughtful and reflective. The writing in the book was very good and it flowed nicely and was very suspenseful: I read the book in one weekend and I couldn’t stop thinking about it for days on end. There were, however, some scenes that felt unnecessary and the romance wasn’t written quite as well as it could have been- I didn’t love Henry and Flora’s romance as much as I wanted to. (Honestly, I enjoyed the romance between two of the supporting characters ((no spoilers!)) more than that of Henry and Flora.)

In the end, this was a fantastic book- one that I would definitely reread and am absolutely going to buy at my next trip to the bookstore. Despite a few minor complaints, this book was heart-achingly written and I would absolutely recommend it. 

Follow my blog for more reviews and recommendations and follow my Instagram for updates every time I post. 

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