Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Why La La Land Is the Movie We've All Been Waiting For

Although La La Land has not been gracing our earth for very long, this film by Damien Chazelle has quickly captured the public's attention, from its original limited release to its eventual dominance at the 2017 Academy Awards. Part of its appeal is its utter optimism in the face of life. Sure, the film has dark moments, but that isn't what the movie is all about.

Even though it was released during the winter, La La Land has distinctly summer vibes. It's bright and sunny, and it tells a story of the joy that comes in the sun. One of the times I went to see it, there was a snowstorm going on outside, and that seemed so utterly at odds with the joy present on the screen in the dark theater. But what makes this movie so young and full of life? What makes it so special?

1. There's young love. 

While Mia and Sebastian are not as young as we might expect young lovers to be, and it's very probable that they've both been in love before, their story has the particular flavor of young love. They're invincible, they want to build a life together, there's an almost foolish carelessness and joy in their love. It's something that is so familiar to many people and a feeling that is certainly synonymous with summertime. Love will instantly invigorate even the saddest and grumpiest of people.

City of stars. Just one thing everybody wants. There in the bars, and through the smokescreen of the crowded restaurants. It's love. Yes, all we're looking for is love from someone else....

But love isn't easy. And summer ends. And that's an important part of this film as well.

2. There are artists who work hard.

As an actor, I've always felt so inspired when it comes to my passions in the summertime. There's life and so many things to be inspired by. There's so much to do and feel and learn in the summertime. And Mia and Sebastian work really, really hard on the stuff they love. Mia auditions and auditions and auditions and Sebastian plays and plays and plays. They realize that they're not entitled to their art; they don't feel as if it's their due. They simply work because they have to; it is a part of them.

Towards the end of the movie, Mia questions her life and her career. As an actor, I've done this so many times. I would say that every actor comes to a point where it doesn't feel like there's a point anymore in what we do. This movie spoke truth on that front, and I think anyone can relate to that.

Here's to the ones who dream, foolish as they may seem. Here's to the hearts that ache. Here's to the mess we make.

3. It's nostalgic.

La La Land has a distinct taste of old movie musicals to it. The dancing is excellently choreographed and expertly placed in the film. Not only that, but the music is so layered--especially "A Lovely Night" and "Another Day of Sun"--and it has all the richness of an old musical. But it doesn't sacrifice quality for nostalgia; La La Land still feels fresh and new. Despite the memories that it evokes within us, it's still modern.

The sun is nearly gone. No lights are turning on. A silver shine that stretches to the sea.... We've stumbled on a view that's tailor-made for two. What a shame those two are you and me....

4. It's funny.

The humor is relatable in this film, and both Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling have perfect delivery. I've always thought humor is amplified when chemistry is present, and this film is just overflowing with chemistry and energy. The humor feels alive and almost crackling. The writing is top-notch.

Have you seen La La Land? What did you think?

Monday, April 24, 2017

The Fangirl Mixtape: Songs That Make Us Smile

Nothing snaps me out of a bad mood like music, and there are a handful of specific songs that that do that especially well. The rest of the Fangirl Initiative team is no exception, so we assembled to give our favorite tunes, the ones that lift us up or just plain make us smile. In honor of the fact that it's almost summer, here are some happy jams to get you pumped!

This Fangirl Mixtape was made for you with love. If we could send this to every one of you, we would, complete with hand-drawn hearts and awkwardly worded compliments. Every time you listen to this, know that here at the Fangirl Initiative, we think you're awesome.

What songs make you happy? Let us know in the comments!

Sunday, April 23, 2017

15 Shakespeare Quotes to Use in Everyday Situations

Today, April 23, is William Shakespeare's birthday. It is also, oddly enough, the day of his death. But most importantly, it's National Talk Like Shakespeare Day! The Bard, as you probably know, wrote plenty of things that high schoolers are forced to slog their way through before coming to appreciate it later. He also coined many words and phrases that we still use today, including bedazzled, new-fangled, and swagger, among others. But you've heard all that before. So, in honor of the Bard's birthday, I present to you 15 Shakespeare quotes you can (and definitely should) use in your everyday conversations.

When someone criticizes your binge watching habits:
"Can one desire too much of a good thing?" As You Like It (Act IV, Scene I)

When someone is just being too annoying to deal with:
"Get thee to a nunnery, go." Hamlet (Act III, Scene I)

When that person is heading straight back toward you:
"By the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes." Macbeth (Act IV, Scene I)

When you need an excuse to do something stupid:

Henry IV, Part II (Act III, Scene II)

When your friend denies an obvious crush:
"The lady doth protest too much, methinks." Hamlet (Act III, Scene II)

And then tries to poke a hole in your argument:
"'T'is neither here nor there." Othello (Act IV, Scene III)

When you're doing laundry and it's just not cooperating:
"Out, damned spot! Out, I say!" Macbeth (Act V, Scene I)

So you just throw it in the washer and hope for the best:

Macbeth (Act III, Scene II)

When someone asks about those unfortunate junior high Facebook photos:
"My salad days, when I was green in judgment." Antony and Cleopatra (Act I, Scene V)

When you need to get everyone's attention:
"Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears." Julius Caesar (Act III, Scene II)

And then your BFF doesn't take your side:

Julius Caesar (Act III, Scene I)

When no one appreciates your favorite fandom:
"Lord, what fools these mortals be!" A Midsummer Night's Dream (Act III, Scene II)

When someone tells you they specifically don't like your fandom:
"These words are razors to my wounded heart." Titus Andronicus (Act I, Scene I)

When your friend criticizes your flirting ability:
"My love's more richer than my tongue." King Lear (Act I, Scene I)

When your flirting ability actually really is terrible:

A Midsummer Night's Dream (Act I, Scene I)

Which Shakespeare quote are you going to use today?

Saturday, April 22, 2017

April Showers: Best Fictional Weather Wielders

April is the time of year when rain and thunder mount attacks on all your planned outdoor expeditions. Though at first it can be kind of annoying, I've come to appreciate April's bright white lightning and listening to the accompanying boom of thunder. Lately, I've seen quite a few impressive rainstorms, so it would be most appropriate to speak about my favorite fictional characters who control the weather. Whether these fictional characters control the might of worldwide super-storms or simply the power of floods, each one should be acknowledged. Thus, I present to you the best weather wielders: 

Divine Beast Vah Ruta
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Throughout Breath of the Wild, Link must travel the world and free all the divine beasts from Calamity Ganon’s clutches by solving insanely fun puzzles and fighting angry, chaotic spirits. When Link enters the land of the Zora (a race of fish people), he is told that Vah Ruta (one of the divine beasts) is spouting an endless supply of water that could potentially flood all of Hyrule if it isn't stopped.

Of course, Link saves the day by going inside Vah Ruta (he's mechanical, don't worry) and stopping the beast's magical flow of water. Once saved, Vah Ruta and the other legendary warrior beasts are tasked with the mission to help Champion Link defeat Calamity Ganon once and for all. Since Vah Ruta is one of the few who can truly make a dent in Ganon's might, weakening him just enough so Link has a fighting chance, I had to add him.


X-Men are mutants with amazing abilities, which include the powers to phase through walls and move objects with their minds. Professor Xavier gathers these mutants and trains them to one day become superheroes tasked with making the world a better place. Most of the X-Men, when pushed to their limits, can do insanely powerful things, and with enough control, their powers make it possible for the mutants to save the world.

Having harnessed her power, Storm can let loose flashes of lighting, unleash a torrent of rain, and bring forth loud claps of thunder. If she wanted to, she could even hinder the weather from storming at all, giving her the power to not only control thunder and lightning, but also sunny skies. It's probably the reason why she’s worshiped as a rain god in Africa (so of course she makes this list)!

Thor and The Avengers

Marvel has a whole slew of people with unbelievable abilities, including a billionaire genius and a used-to-be cryogenically frozen war hero. But Thor isn't exactly a human being... he's a god! One of the first Avengers, Thor hails from another world known as Asgard, and after stumbling onto the planet Earth, he agrees to help the Avengers save the planet (all while wielding his mighty hammer). 

Only worthy heroes are able to wield the Hammer of Odin, a weapon with the ability to summon extraordinary blasts of electric energy, so it comes as no surprise that Thor is included on my weather wielder list. He's able to summon the power of a mighty storm and can even produce anti-force energy blasts that can annihilate an entire world. Besides, in the Avenger movies, he's pretty nice to look at and has some amazing one-liners (YAY Chris Hemsworth).

Danny Phantom

Anyone remember Danny Phantom? If not, it's a Nickelodeon show about a boy who accidentally is transformed into a human-ghost hybrid and uses his powers to save the world from spirits escaping from the Ghost Zone. This show was a good part of my childhood, and there were many amazing villains throughout the series.

One such villain was a ghost named Vortex, who not only has normal ghost powers but also has the ability to control the weather, including droughts, hurricanes, whirlpools, etc. He sees his control of weather as a form of art, and is very much full of himself. Because of this, he is completely offended when Vlad and Danny try to stop him from creating "beautiful" rainstorms. Beyond this, he has the ability to control storms on an earth-wide scale, like creating blizzards in the dessert or a mass lightning storm that results in the Eiffel Tower collapsing.

Thunderella Happily Ever After

Ever wondered what happened to Snow White after she received her happy ending? That question is answered in the movie Happily Ever After. Snow White's ending starts off happy enough, that is until the Evil Queen’s brother, Lord Maliss, finds out what Snow White has done to his sister. He hatches a plan for revenge and captures Snow White's prince, so she must flee in order to survive. She eventually finds the Dwarves' cousins, the Dwarfelles, who are appointed to protect her.

Each Dwarfelle has a power that was given to them by Mother Nature. One Dwarfelle named Thunderella has the ability to (you guessed it) control storms. At first, she has a problem with using her ability, but when she’s needed most, she doesn't let Snow White down and creates a mighty thundercloud that rivals Lord Maliss's magic, ultimately saving Snow White from Maliss's evil intentions. Thunderella's courage and stormy abilities make her a perfect addiction to this list.

If you have to be cooped up inside, make sure to check out these fandoms. They may help cure some of your rainy day blues as you await those promised May flowers.

Do you have a favorite weather wielder I didn't mention?

Friday, April 21, 2017

Telling Tales: 4 Theories about Pirates 5

The Pirates of the Caribbean series features plenty of strange mythologies and wild adventures, and the newest addition to the story looks to continue that tradition—including such familiar concepts as ghost pirates and mythological treasures. Still, quite a bit of mystery surrounds the story and characters in Dead Men Tell No Tales. It’s hard to resist trying to figure out what’s going to happen next! In that spirit, here are four of my theories about what we could see in Dead Men Tell No Tales.


1) Will Turner abandons his duty of ferrying the dead

When we last saw Captain Turner, he was returning to shore at the end of his first decade aboard the Flying Dutchman. He was reunited with his wife and met their son, and from that brief scene, it could be assumed they all lived bittersweetly ever after.

Except Will’s back in Dead Men Tell No Tales, and he’s not looking the least bit happy. Actually, he looks very much like his predecessor, which begs the question: has Will stopped ferrying the dead as Davy Jones had done before him? Is that why he’s taking on the eerie, sea-ish appearance?


2) The return of the Black Pearl
A Pirates movie without the Black Pearl is all-around odd. Something about it just doesn’t quite fit. Luckily, we were left with the potential for the iconic ship’s return at the end of On Stranger Tides. The official description of Dead Men Tell No Tales includes a description of Jack’s new ship, but no mention of the Pearl.

Clips in the trailer seem to point to the possibility though, so I’m hopeful. The Black Pearl is a proper character in her own right, and I’ll be happy to see her make a return to the screen. Please.

3) The death of Barbossa
One of my favorite antagonists-turned-(semi)protagonist is Hector Barbossa. Last we saw him in On Stranger Tides, he was the new captain of the Queen Anne’s Revenge. We see a few glimpses of him in the trailer, including a visit from the new villain Salazar. It doesn’t look like a fun meeting, so it makes me wonder if Salazar is either coming to make a trade with Barbossa or to kill him. (After all, his goal is to eradicate piracy—and Barbossa would make an excellent target.)

4) Will and Elizabeth are reunited in the afterlife
Elizabeth’s cameo in the new international trailer was quite a surprise to me! Unlike other returning characters, this is her only appearance, and it makes me wonder about a long-standing theory of mine: that Elizabeth died at some point during Will’s second decade aboard the Dutchman.

If she is dead, this could be a reason for Will to turn away from his task of ferrying the dead. It would also give their son a motive to seek a way to break the curse—not unlike Will’s quest to save his own father—and find a way to reunite them. Such an ending would be bittersweet but also fitting for the Turners.

What do you think will happen in Dead Men Tell No Tales? Tell me your theories!

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Bet You've Never Seen Chris Evans Dress in Drag

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In all my Internet meandering, I rarely come across something truly interesting. But on those few incredibly lovely, rare occasions, I'll find a gem hidden deep in the recesses of IMDb or YouTube. This is one of them.

Way back in the year 2000, a little show was tragically cancelled halfway through its first season. That show was called Opposite Sex, and it starred Chris Evans and Milo Ventimiglia. Even better, it was one of the first things they were both in. They're babies. Adorable, awkward babies. And I love it.

The plot of the show revolves around three boys who are the first boys to attend a formerly all-girls school. Obviously, shenanigans follow. They're bullied, they develop crushes on all the girls, they go to cop-raided parties, they don't fit in. It's not hard to see why the show was cancelled; it manages to hit every single issue teenagers face in its eight, hour-long episodes, and the plot is... kind of lacking. But Chris Evans and Milo Ventimiglia make watching the little of this show that exists 100% worth it.

Here's part one of the first episode—see for yourself:

You can find all of the episodes on YouTube starting here, but, like most TV shows uploaded to YouTube, the quality is iffy at the best of times. Still totally worth watching, though. I laughed, I cried, I hoped in vain for more episodes.

I don't know what was my favorite part—the musical numbers, the blatant teen issues, the girl fights, or poor baby Milo and his vast array of girl problems. It's like the sad little brother of Freaks and Geeks who just wants to be cool, too, but isn't quite there. There's really no other explanation of this show; I can't do it justice. I mean, Chris Evans and Milo Ventimiglia dress in drag. Why? You'll just need to watch it. I promise you won't be disappointed.

Have you seen Opposite Sex? Did you love it??

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Like This? Try That: The CW Superhero Edition

Some days, the fangirl life can be tough. Your favorite TV show goes on summer hiatus, you have to wait an entire year to read the next installment in a new book series, you've watched Lord of the Rings three times in a row and still can't believe there aren't any more movies coming. So what should you do during this time of waiting? Find a new fandom to love, of course! There are an endless supply of fandoms out there, but you just need to figure out what you like. That's where I come in. "Like This? Try That" is a new way to share similar recommendations for popular TV shows, genre book series, your favorite movie franchises, or any type of fandom you love.

Since the CW superhero shows are on hiatus until the end of April, I thought I'd spotlight a few shows similar to the ones I've come to love on the CW. If you watch Arrow, The Flash, Supergirl, or Legends of Tomorrow and you're looking for something new to experience, check out these recommendations!

If you like Arrow, try Daredevil

Maybe it's breaching some kind of golden rule to recommend a Marvel show for DC fans, but I like to think you can be in both fandoms without having to choose sides. That being said, when Daredevil first released on Netflix, I saw a lot of people comparing it to Arrow (Stephen Amell even made a comment about it). For good reason. Arrow and Daredevil share several similarities, most importantly a main character without superpowers who has a personal vendetta to save his city. From the Green Arrow suit to the Daredevil suit to the darker tones and more realistic and serious portrayals to dealing with mob bosses and drug dealers, these shows go hand-in-hand with depicting the darker, grittier side of the superhero universes. While Arrow is rated TV-14, Daredevil is rated TV-M, so it does go a step further with the gritty violence of the big city underworld. If you're a fan of Arrow, you might want to give Daredevil a shot.

If you like The Flash, try Smallville

Smallville was the first superhero show on the CW, which paved the way for the lineup we have today. Still, I think it's worth watching--at least most of it--if you're a fan of The Flash. The main storylines are similar: a guy with incredible super powers tries to save the world and live a normal life. Clark and Barry both have super powers that they use to help people; they both have big hearts and they personally carry the world on their shoulders. They encounter all types of crazy things from aliens to other meta-humans. They're surrounded by a great group of people who help them in their journey to becoming a hero. They struggle with romantic relationships, parental relationships, and friendships. The shows follow similar paths, maybe with different aspects, but they're both pretty standard superhero shows. I think if you like The Flash, you'll enjoy Smallville just as much. Plus, a different version of Barry Allen makes an appearance here and there in Smallville as well.

If you like Supergirl, try Agent Carter

There aren't a lot of solo female superhero shows out there yet, and there aren't many with the optimistic, morally upright, do-the-right-thing-just-because main character like Kara Danvers. Agent Carter, however, is one of these shows. While Peggy Carter doesn't have superpowers, she has determination, confidence, and intelligence--traits Kara also possesses. Both of these stunning leading ladies do their best to help save those around them and the world. While Agent Carter is set during the 1950s, I think the feminist themes and strong female characters will appeal to fans of Supergirl. In addition, both main characters wear red and blue, encounter bizarre things from aliens to weird portals to meta-humans, and are stuck in awkward romantic relationships and love triangles. All in all, if you like Supergirl for Kara's character and the strong female role models, Agent Carter is right up your alley.

If you like Legends of Tomorrow, try Doctor Who

What show involves time-travel adventures, hilarious jokes, a large cast of characters that come and go, John Barrowman, and Arthur Darvill? That's right folks, Legends of Tomorrow. But also Doctor Who. If you like Legends of Tomorrow for the fun time travel and the characters, I have no doubt you'll enjoy Doctor Who for its fun time travel and characters. Both shows follow a ragtag group that jumps from time to place in order to accomplish some kind of goal or stop some kind of evil from ripping the universe apart. Both shows incorporate a lot of humor and have a large cast of characters, which sometimes changes from season to season. Plus, John Barrowman and Arthur Darvill star in both shows. I'd say that fans of Legends of Tomorrow would definitely enjoy Doctor Who.

Do you agree with these recommendations? What other fandoms would CW superhero fans enjoy?