Into the Storm: The Return of the Disaster Film

Movie Review

  by Sandra Olmsted      As disaster films go, director Steven Quale’s Into the Storms delivers all those films promise: huge, exciting special effects and a human face on hope for survival against bigger-than-life, unstoppable disaster. Like other tornado disaster films since Twister popularized storm chasing, Into the Storm has a team of them. Head storm chaser Pete (Matt Walsh) wishes he hadn’t hired weather expert Allison (Sarah Wayne Callies) because she keeps missing the storms, and he needs to get a tornado on film or loose his funding. His support team consists of experienced driver Daryl (Arlen Escarpeta) and nervous camera operator Jacob (Jeremy Sumpter), who wishes he was on a bench with a drink in his hand. Although she really wants to get home for her five-year-old daughter’s birthday, Allison sends the team toward Silverton and an ominous looking weather formation on the radar.

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Movie Review: Jeff Bridges is title role of The Giver

The Giver: Taken Away

by Sandra Olmsted    

After nearly twenty years, director and star Jeff Bridges has finally succeeded in his struggle to get a film adaptation of Lois Lowry’s The Giver to the big screen. Jeff Bridges optioned the film in 1995, one year after Lois Lowry’s novel won the Newbery Medal, and he originally intended to cast his father, Lloyd Bridges (1913–1998), in the title role of the Giver. Now Bridges has taken the role of the shamanic sage for himself. The Giver keeps the memories of mankind’s violence, hate, joy, and love so that the community can live happily in a peaceful, drugged harmony without the problems created by passion, jealousy, etc. When the Giver must train a new Receiver of Memories, Jonas (Brenton Thwaites), they begins under a cloud of a passed failure in the training of another Receiver, Rosemary (Taylor Swift), ten years earlier.      The Giver opens with eighteen-year-old best friends, Jonas, Fiona (Odeya Rush.) and Asher (Cameron Monaghan) heading to the last day of “high school” and wondering what careers that they will be assigned at an upcoming ceremony marking the end of their childhood. While Fiona graduates to Nurturer, like Jonas’ father (Alexander Skarsgard), Asher, the class clown, matriculates to Drone Pilot because he needs discipline. Assigned to be the Receiver of Memories, the most important job in the community, Jonas quickly learns he has permission to ask questions, even rude ones, and to lie, which is forbidden the rest of the citizens, and he never has to apologize, which the citizens do constantly. Meanwhile, the Chief Elder (Meryl Streep) keeps a watchful eye on The Giver and on Jonas as he progresses and breaks a few minor rules.      Jonas’ mother (Katie Holmes), a rule-obsessed judge, and little sister Lilly (Emma Tremblay) complete Jonas’ family unit until dad brings home Gabe, a baby whose lack of development may mean he will be released to Elsewhere. Jonas quickly becomes attached to Gabe and begins showing him the joyful and beautiful images the Giver initially shares with Jonas in order to quell Gabe’s colic. Lilly occasionally overhears what Jonas says to Gabe, but can’t share the memories the way the Giver, Jonas, or Gabe can. When Jonas learns that release and being sent Elsewhere doesn’t mean going to live in a neighboring community, he decides to take action and try to breech the boundary of memory. The Giver encourages and helps Jonas in his quest because, if Jonas can get passed the boundary, the citizens will be released from their drugged complacency. Their black-and-white world and their emotionally flat lives will be changed forever, but only if Fiona and Asher also assist Jonas.      While Bridges’ The Giver being shot in black and white harkens back to a similar theme in the film Pleasantville (1998) in look and theme, Lowry’s The Giver also draws on other work with philosophical underpinnings. Although certainly not a new idea even though it was published some six years before The Matrix was made, The Giver draws from the work of Ursula K. Le Guin’s 1973 “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas,” Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, and George Orwell’s 1984. Similar to Lowry’s novel where one person suffers the horrors of remembering the love and pain of being human, Le Guin’s short story focuses on one child suffering all the horrors of poverty so that the “utopian” society will have prosperity. The rigid control of birth and nurturing that Huxley explored echoes in the way children are treated in Lowry’s story, and Lowry’s The Giver also shares Orwell’s depiction of totalitarian mind control to achieve “peaceful utopia” and of one man challenging that control. Philosophical fiction challenges filmmakers to capture not only the message of the work but also the thrill of the struggle against dystopian control.      While the film The Giver has moments of suspense and excitement, it can’t really be classified as a thriller, perhaps because it gets bogged down in the love story between Jonas and Fiona. A capitulation to the desire to draw the teen audience, the teen love story, however, doesn’t overwhelm the story or resort to trite teen angst. While not a thrill a minute, this loose adaptation of The Giver may encourage new readers of Lowry’s fiction but may displease existing fans of the book because of the many change. Release by The Weinstein Company, The Giver is rated PG-13 for a mature thematic image and some sci-fi action/violence and runs 94 minutes. The Giver is in theaters now.

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Florissant Team Win Next Great Baker

Al Watson and Lia Weber, Team Blue on Next Great Baker

Al Watson and Lia Weber, Team Blue on Next Great Baker were named winners Tuesday night winning a year contract to run a Las Vegas bakery and $100.000

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Hazelwood School District Holds High School Grand Re-Openings

With construction work completed as a result of Proposition H, the Hazelwood School District will hold grand re-opening ceremonies for all three high schools. The public is invited to attend.

In November 2010, voters passed Proposition H, a $120 million dollar, no-tax increase bond issue for Hazelwood School District building updates. The projects includes new heating ventilation air conditioning (HVAC) systems; new elevators; removal of asbestos; chalkboards and floor tile removal; new marker boards; new libraries at Hazelwood East and Hazelwood West high schools; new science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) labs at all three high schools and new whiteboards.

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Booth Space Available for Non-Profit Groups, Crafters, Vendors at Hazelwood Harvestfest

Non-profit groups looking for fund-raising opportunities, crafters wanting to sell their artwork and local businesses are some of the groups being recruited by event organizers for this year’s Hazelwood Harvestfest, scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 13, at Howdershell Park.

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Racing Suffers Loss of Driver, Rams Start Season

**Randy Gardner photo**By Randy Gardner

Everyone knows at certain times of the year that you can expect me to write about specific sports; that is pretty much a given. Well, today the same holds true. With August comes training camp for the Rams and the full swing of NASCAR.

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