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The Circus Comes Town – A Review Of Water For Elephants

Water for Elephants poster

By Dee Marie, Contributing Writer

Although “Water for Elephants” is an historical romance set during the Great Depression, the movie begins with the main character, elderly Jacob Jankowski (Hal Holbrook), standing dazed and confused in the parking lot of a 21st century traveling circus.

Elderly Jacob Jankowski (Hal Holbrook) ©2010 20th Century Fox Film Corporation

Elderly Jacob Jankowski (Hal Holbrook) ©2010 20th Century Fox Film Corporation

Charlie (Paul Schneider), the circus manager, takes pity on the old man, offering him refuge in his office. Charlie soon discovers that Jacob, in his youth, bore witness to one of the major catastrophes of circus history.

As the old man begins his tale, the audience is transported to 1931…An overconfident, youthful Jacob (Robert Pattinson) is taking his final examine at the prestigious Cornwall University, in Ithaca, New York; assured of earning his veterinary degree.

Upon opening his examine book, the door opens to his classroom: immediately tragedy strikes. Following a string of devastating circumstances, Jacob is left monetarily and emotionally a broken man.

Benzini Brothers Circus star attraction, Marlena (Reese Witherspoon)  Image credit: David James, ©2010 20th Century Fox Film Corporation

Benzini Brothers Circus star attraction, Marlena (Reese Witherspoon) Image credit: David James, ©2010 20th Century Fox Film Corporation

With his hopes and dreams shattered, Jacob abandons his once perfect life. In the dead of night, he hops a moving train to an unknown destination. Within moments of setting off on his new adventure, Jacob becomes embroiled within the sadistic, surrealistic world of the Benzini Brothers Circus.

To pay off his debt for “riding the rails” of the circus boxcar, uninvited, Jacob is eventually hired as the Benzini Brothers Circus’ resident veterinarian…succumbing to the realization that his past will always be a part of his future.

Along his transition into manhood, Jacob becomes immersed in the pleasures and repulsion of circus life. As he plunges deeper into the immorality of his new environment, Jacob’s inner struggle between just-and-unjust causes his moral-compass to constantly wobble.

Comforting Rosie (Tai) the Elephant, Marlena (Reese Witherspoon), and Jacob (Rob Pattinson)  Image credit: David James, ©2010 20th Century Fox Film Corporation

Comforting Rosie (Tai) the Elephant, Marlena (Reese Witherspoon), and Jacob (Rob Pattinson) Image credit: David James, ©2010 20th Century Fox Film Corporation

His initial meeting with August (Christoph Waltz), the paranoid schizophrenic owner and ringmaster of the Benzini Brothers Circus, ends in Jacob’s first near death encounter.

However, Jacob’s attraction to August’s beautiful wife, Marlena (Reese Witherspoon), and the scene stealing Rosie (Tai) the elephant, seals the young man’s fate; trapping him in a world that he detests for its cruelty, yet is bound to by unconditional love.

The lead actors in “Water for Elephants” do a remarkable job of breathing life into their characters.

Christoph Waltz, Rob Pattinson, Reese Witherspoon, and Tai  Image credit: David James, ©2010 20th Century Fox Film Corporation

Christoph Waltz, Rob Pattinson, Reese Witherspoon, and Tai Image credit: David James, ©2010 20th Century Fox Film Corporation

Pattinson, Witherspoon, and Waltz’s love triangle is wrought with tension. Plus, the chemistry between Pattinson and Witherspoon brought an undeniable reality to the lovers’ forbidden desire for one another.

Yet, it was the bond between man and pachyderm that stole the movie.

Both Pattinson and his elephant co-star Tai, displayed a gentle, child-like wonder to each other.

The scenes they shared sparkled with on-screen magic.

“Water for Elephants” is an adaptation of the award-winning novel by Sara Gruen.

Those who have read the novel know that the story is written for adults; filled with sexuality and brutality.

The movie removes the explicit sexual and raunchy scenes from the novel, replacing them with sensuality and implied speculation.

Jacob (Rob Pattinson) hanging out with Rosie (Tai) the Elephant  Image credit: David James, ©2010 20th Century Fox Film Corporation

Jacob (Rob Pattinson) hanging out with Rosie (Tai) the Elephant Image credit: David James, ©2010 20th Century Fox Film Corporation

Although cruelty is still woven into the storyline, most of it has been either watered-down, or hidden behind closed doors. In the novel, mental and physical cruelty (to both humans and animals) fuels and intensifies the plot; in the movie it serves to propel the love story.

Several plot twists, and minor characters were also condensed, causing the movie version of “Water for Elephants” to, at times, feel rushed.

Even so, it is evident that the changes to the novel’s plot, by screenwriter, Richard LaGravenese and director Francis Lawrence, were made with diligence and respect to the original material.

“Water for Elephants,” stays true to the fundamental elements of the novel’s storyline.

The costumes and cinematography are a feast to the eyes, and Oscar-worthy performances were given by Pattinson, Witherspoon, Waltz, and yes, even Tai the elephant.

If you have read “Water for Elephants,” you will love the movie. If you haven’t read the novel, I highly suggest that you view the movie and read the book: both are indulgent worthy. The movie is currently playing in Oswego.

5 out of 5 stars

Rated PG-13 for moments of actual and implied violence, and mild sexual content

Running Time: 122 minutes

Distributor: 20th Century Fox

Directed By: Francis Lawrence

Screenplay By: Richard LaGravenes (adapted from the novel by Sara Gruen)

Jacob (Rob Pattinson) hanging out with Rosie (Tai) the Elephant  Image credit: David James, ©2010 20th Century Fox Film CorporationOswego Town resident Dee Marie is the author of the “Sons of Avalon” saga. You may visit her on Twitter: http://twitter.com/Dee_Marie_SOA

Independent Movie To Be Filmed In Oswego

OSWEGO, NY – Lights, camera, action – in Oswego.

At its meeting Monday night, the Physical Services Committee paved the way for scenes from an independent movie to be filmed in the Port City.

Mayor Randy Bateman requested discussion regarding a request from T.O.M. Entertainment to use the Harbor Rail Trail and Tunnel on East First Street for making a full-length independent film.

Jason Radmoski of T.O. M. Entertainment, of Syracuse, wants to use the city locations for filming next month, he told the committee.

He said most of the filming could be done in the evening hours, with some daylight time as well.

Radmoski said he is directing an Indie film entitled “Fallen Angels,” a post-apocalypse / fantasy type movie.

“A native of Oswego gave us a tour of the Harbor Rail Trail and Tunnel on East First Street,” he said. “We found these to be exceptional and feel that these structures would bring much detail to the film.”

The mayor asked what the movie would be rated.

“It’s nothing you wouldn’t see on HBO before 10 p.m.,” Radmoski told him.

Based on their current timeline, they are looking to utilize the facilities some time during August.

Exact dates have yet to be finalized. Radmoski said he is flexible and could be able to do the filming in early to mid August, before college is back in session and traffic picks up in the city.

“What we’re looking for is approximately four hours during the daytime, and four hours during the dark hours,” he said. “You tell me what is best for you and I can work with that.”

“As soon as people find out there is filming going on there, you’re going to have all sorts of spectators,” said committee chair Connie Cosemento.

He said he wouldn’t mind spectators, but added, “The last thing I want is for someone to put their hand in front of the camera.”

Mike Dehm, police chief, said the area could be blocked off to give the film crews and actors room to work.

“I don’t want to block off access where it creates a problem for the city,” Radmoski said.

He suggested one end of the tunnel could be closed and the city could tape off a section of the other end where filming is taking place.

The committee voted unanimously to send his request to the full council for consideration.

Oswego Woman’s Artwork Featured In ‘Remember Me’

OSWEGO, NY – Maggie Henry will celebrate her birthday in May.

But the big milestone in her life will occur in early March. That’s when audiences nationwide will see her name in the credits of a major motion picture.

Maggie Henry

Maggie Henry (file photo)

“I will have some artwork in a movie, ‘Remember Me’ (coming out March 12). I worked with the art department, specifically the prop master and set designer, to create props for the main character’s (Robert Pattinson) artistic younger sister,” she explained. “These props are mostly pencil sketches that would be found in her sketchbook/bedroom/etc. There are a few scenes where my sketches may be in a closeup!”

She now has a whole new understanding of how many people it takes to get a film onto the big screen, she added.

“It was an exciting experience and March 12 can’t come soon enough!” she said. She can’t really tell anyone what she did or show them any drawings right now, she added.

Her friends want her to come and see the movie with them in Brooklyn, but she said her plans are still up in the air.

Her name will be listed in the “Special Thanks” part of the credits, she said.

“I’m really excited about that. I’ll probably watch the movie about a million times,” she said.

She was invited to come on the set during the making of the movie and see her work being set up. And, she met the star and the little girl who portrays the artist in the film.

The filmmakers gave her some general ideas of what type of art they wanted and allowed her to choose some others, she said.

“I had a lot of family members actually pose for me, and I’d superimpose their heads (with the stars’ features) on the bodies I drew,” she said.

There’s one ocean scene that looks an awful lot like Lake Ontario – complete with seagulls, she added.

The movie also has another connection to Central New York.

Isabelle 3

'Isabelle 3' by Maggie Henry features one of her favorite things: monarch butterflies.

“They needed a drawing on a napkin. There will be a closeup of a napkin, I think, that the girl is drawing on. I had to draw several stages of the drawing on like five or six different napkins. I got the napkins from a place in Pulaski,” she said.

A while later, the prop master called her, he couldn’t find the same style napkins and asked her to send some to him, the next day.

“I was in Brooklyn at the time. So, I had to call my mom and ask her to send it special delivery next day,” she said.

They were just the kind you pull out of a metal dispenser, but they had to be an exact match to the ones with the drawings on them, she explained.

Maggie graduated from Oswego High School in 2005 and went on to earn a BA degree in Communications Design: Illustrations from Pratt Institute. In 2006, she was recognized with an Outstanding Freshman award by Pratt at Munson Williams Proctor for best overall performance.

At the end of the (school) year, Pratt Institute in Brooklyn has people come in from the industry that view students’ works, she said.

“We have promotional things that they can pick up and take with them,” she said. “I lucked out, and they found me. Actually, I got the phone call on my last birthday, which was kind of cool.”

orange

'Orange' by Maggie Henry

“They asked me to do a couple test pieces. It was between me and maybe two other people,” she continued. “I needed to adapt the artwork to look more like high school level because the character in the movie is about 12 and she’s supposed to be very talented. They needed not too sophisticated, but still well-drawn images; a little more raw than like I usually draw.”

She has been interested in art pretty much her entire life. When she was young, she’d draw on anything from newspapers to the sand along the lake shore.

When she was a first grader, she was introduced to painting through a class by Patricia Carson.

She is quick to credit her teachers for her success.

“I still strongly believe that without the help of the Oswego High School art teachers and the resources we had at OHS, I would not have gone in this direction,” she said, “I would love to do anything that would give back to the art department of Oswego High School.”

And, the feeling is mutual.

“Maggie Henry is one of the most talented artists that I have worked with during my 20 years at Oswego High School.  She possesses extraordinary natural ability, but just as importantly, motivation and focus,” said Melissa Martin, one of Maggie’s former teachers.  “Her creativity extended itself to every possible medium: drawing, painting, graphics, animation, ceramics and sculpture. There seemed to be no end to her abilities!”

It makes her feel good to win recognition, but, she has to challenge herself to do more artwork to continue to be successful, Maggie admits.

According to Martin, Maggie was awarded several Scholastic Art Awards, including a Best Graphic of Show that eventually went on to win a National Silver Key and the prestigious Fine Art Portfolio Gold Key.

editorial

An editorial cartoon by Maggie Henry

Maggie also was awarded Best of Show in both the Sculpture and Fine art categories in the Annual Salmon River Oswego County Art Competition, she added.

“These are just a few of Maggie’s accomplishments,” Martin said. “I am very pleased to hear of Maggie’s continued success, but not at all surprised!”

During her high school career, Maggie was interested in computer graphics and design, but her focus shifted slightly during her college career.

“Oh yeah, that changed. I’m in illustration now,” she chuckled. “I realized that I wanted to do more painting and drawing and illustration kinds of stuff as opposed to a more experimental type of media.”

As for her style, she says she’s “all over the place.”

“I am currently working on two children’s books, both are about animals and nature (my favorite subjects)!” she said. “They’re different from paintings and editorial illustrations that I’ve done in the past. I go back and forth between traditional media and digital.”

She is collaborating with an author on the children’s books.

In 2006, she researched for historically accurate representations of characters for the book cover and inside pen and ink drawings for a young adult novel (Forgiven Warrior) written by Philip S. Ryan.

“I was approached by him, because I believe his son somehow heard of me in the high school,” she said. “It was kind of a neat little networking thing. That was enjoyable because it was historical and I got to research costumes and things for the Battle of Oriskany Falls, that time.”

She got to visit the historic site, which was kind of cool she says, “Because it was really close to where I went to school the first two years, (Munson Proctor in Utica).”

However, she has a few ideas for children’s books of her own and hopes to find someone to publish them someday.

“I love Oswego,” she said. “I’d like to do something someday that’s specific to Oswego.”

“It’s work. But it’s fun,” she says of her career. “It’s fun to get lost in a painting; and when your client sees it and loves it, you feel good about what you’ve done.”

As for her part in the movie, she says “I’m really looking forward to it. I still don’t believe it. Once I see it on the screen it will start to sink in.”

She never thought she’d be working on a movie, but “I knew I wanted to be an artist; always knew I wanted to be an artist somehow,” she said, adding her ideal job would be working for Pixar Animation Studios.

Movie Night Rescheduled At Church

“The Nativity Story” will be shown Friday, January 8th @ 7 PM on the large projector screen. The Nativity Story chronicles the extremely difficult journey of “…Mary and Joseph, a miraculous pregnancy, and the history-defining birth of Jesus. The dramatic and compelling film traces the perilous journey of a young couple who must travel from their home in Nazareth to Bethlehem, Joseph’s ancestral home, to register for a census ordered by King Herod. It is a journey of over 100 miles, through treacherous terrain, made much more difficult by the fact that Mary is nine months pregnant” http://www.dove.org/reviewmasterframe.asp. Received 5 Dove Awards (their highest rating). Rated PG and runs 101 minutes.

Free admission. Donations accepted. Handicapped accessible. For more info. visit www.fultonfumc.org, www.thenativitystory.com, or phone (315) 592-7347. Fulton First United Methodist Church, 1408 St. Rt. 176 (across from the Jr. High School).

Movie Night At Church

“The Nativity Story” will be shown Friday, December 11th @ 7 PM on the large projector screen. The Nativity Story chronicles the extremely difficult journey of “…Mary and Joseph, a miraculous pregnancy, and the history-defining birth of Jesus.

The dramatic and compelling film traces the perilous journey of a young couple who must travel from their home in Nazareth to Bethlehem, Joseph’s ancestral home, to register for a census ordered by King Herod. It is a journey of over 100 miles, through treacherous terrain, made much more difficult by the fact that Mary is nine months pregnant” http://www.dove.org/reviewmasterframe.asp. Received 5 Dove Awards (their highest rating). Rated PG and runs 101 minutes.

Free admission. Donations accepted. Handicapped accessible. For more info. visit www.fultonfumc.org, www.thenativitystory.com, or phone (315) 592-7347. Fulton First United Methodist Church, 1408 St. Rt. 176 (across from the Jr. High School).

Movie Night At Fulton First United Methodist Church

“Diamond at the Rock” (history of the Radio City Music Hall) will be shown on the large screen at 6 PM. Following a brief intermission with refreshments, “Radio City Christmas Spectacular starring the Rockettes” will be shown at 7PM. Free admission. Donations accepted. Handicapped accessible. For more info. visit www.fultonfumc.org or phone (315) 592-7347. Fulton First United Methodist Church, 1408 St. Rt. 176 (across from the jr. high).

Movie Night at Church

The film, “FIREPROOF” will be shown on Friday, October 23 at 7 pm at The First United Methodist Church, 1408 St. Rte. 176, Fulton, across from the Jr. High. “FIREPROOF…a movie…a marriage…a movement! An-action packed love story, FIREPROOF will have audiences laughing, crying, and inching toward the edge of their seats as they are drawn into the world of a firefighter, his wife…and a marriage worth saving.” Quoted from the Fireproof website http://www.fireproofthemovie.com/index2.php.Fireproof. Awarded five Doves. Rated PG. Handicapped accessible. A free will offering to benefit the church website will be collected. For more info., please visit www.fireproofthemovie.com or www.fultonfumc.org, or phone (315) 592-7347.

ARC Of Oswego County & Oswego Cinema Offer Special Movie Event For Children With Disabilities

Submitted article

Oswego Cinema, in partnership with ARC of Oswego County, will offer a special screening of “Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa” for children with special needs and their families.  To make a reservation, interested families should call Becky Robinson at 598-3108 x249 by November 3.

Often, families hesitate to bring their children with disabilities to a movie theatre because of accessibility issues, or fearing that a child’s vocal outburst may disrupt the experience for other moviegoers.  With the special screening, however, parents and siblings can enjoy a movie in the theatre with their child with special needs without worry.  The concession stand will be open to purchase snacks, or children with special dietary needs can bring their own snacks.  The first 100 people in line on the day of the show will receive $1 off the price of admission ($5.50 per ticket).

“Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa,” which opens in theatres nationwide on November 7, is the Paramount/Dreamworks sequel about a group of zoo-raised animals who experience the outside world.  Favorite characters Alex the lion, Marty the zebra, Melman the giraffe and Gloria the hippo, King Julien, Maurice and the penguins find themselves in the vast plains of Africa, where they encounter species of their own kind for the very first time.  While discovering their roots, they quickly find the differences between the concrete jungle and the heart of Africa.

ARC of Oswego County is a private, not-for-profit organization which has been providing programs and services to children and seniors with disabilities since 1955.  Services include Early Intervention and evaluation services for infants and toddlers, guardianship assistance, recreational and respite activities, senior day habilitation programs, and more.  Its mission is to be a leader in the field of developmental disabilities, committed to meeting the needs of individual growth, productivity, and independence through education, advocacy, and increased community acceptance and participation.  Its sister agency, Oswego Industries, Inc., provides services to adults with disabilities: together creating a comprehensive support system for Oswego County residents with disabilities.

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Oswego County Postpones Aerial Spraying Tonight

Aerial spraying of the Toad Harbor / Big Bay Swamp area near the north shore of Oneida Lake is postponed tonight, Thursday, July 31, due to uncertain weather. The forecast indicates varied conditions, such as rain and wind speeds, that would hamper spraying efforts. Weather permitting, aerial spraying will take place tomorrow, Friday, Aug. 1 between 6 and 9 p.m.

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DA: No Evidence Of Human Remains At Rice Road Site

The Oswego County Sheriff’s Department and District Attorney’s Office have concluded their investigation at the property on Rice Road in the Town Of Mexico. While there was no reliable evidence indicating the property was related to the abduction of Heidi Allen, we conducted a thorough and exhaustive search of the property, the district attorney said. The Sheriff’s Department devoted considerable resources to this search and made every effort to discover and recover any remains that may have been there. There is no evidence that any human remains are or ever were at that site.

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Award-winning Play Comes to Fort Ontario for One Performance Only

Bring the whole family to Fort Ontario State Historic Site, 1 E. Fourth St., Oswego, for a performance of “The Great Rope,” the award-winning play written by the late Rosemary Nesbitt of Oswego. The one-time-only show begins at 6 p.m. on Saturday. “We’ve put together a great group of children and adults from the community to help us bring this play to life again and honor Rosemary’s vision,” said director Jonel Langenfeld Rial, professor of theater and education in the SUNY Oswego Theater Department.

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Maffei Announces $569,500 In Federal Funding For Oswego County Airport

U.S. Representative Dan Maffei today (July 31) announced that the Oswego County Airport has been awarded $569,500 in funding from two U.S. Department of Transportation grants. These grants will be used to modernize the airport, including upgrades to the taxiway, lighting, and wiring.

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Fire Department To Test Hydrants

The Oswego Fire Department will be testing hydrants in the Third Ward of the city of Oswego for the next few weeks. If testing is being done in your neighborhood, you are advised to run an outside faucet, if possible, to eliminate any debris that may be generated from this procedure.

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