I’m bummed out, man. When there’s potential for futher exploration of something I really, really love, the anticipation and hope can kinda drive me crazy. If it then drags on with well-publicized difficulties and a growing incertitude, maybe I go to a dark place; maybe I try to fix it myself. I don’t know how to further justify this, except to say there was a deep-seated need to exorcise an idea (It’s a pun, yo).
Standard disclaimer, bitches ain’t shit.
… Movieline reminds me that I should have made more of an effort to get to this, but there are only so many hours in a day. Throughout October I managed to forget how much I was looking forward to a wide release, but seeing all the faintings, seizures and vomits stacked up like this, my priorities are once again straight.
Must see this movie.
Need to watch Sunshine again.
Because I love James Garner and Steve McQueen and wouldn’t hesitate to chop off a toe, foot or leg to have a drink with either. Godspeed to recovery, JG.
Unk had another installment on screenwriting structure last week, focusing on the Protagonist’s entrance into the NEW WORLD which would, as it turns out, mark the character’s departure from the ORDINARY WORLD. As usual, there were lots of ideas & commentary tossed around in the comments section, and I particularly enjoyed neil bringing up the oft-abused cliche of ‘refusing the Call to Adventure’. But I got hung up on THE DECISION– that, ultimately, the choice to proceed into the NEW WORLD is coming from the protag. I understand this is mostly straightforward- give the protagonist a choice that essentially is anything but that- they MUST go forward or there’s no story. Indiana Jones (who, thanks to Moviequill, has somewhat returned to my graces after reading Frank Darabont’s CITY OF GODS draft) could just tell the G-men to go screw at the beginning of RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK, but he won’t because he’s designed in every way to be completely unable to refuse that particular call to action. That right there is the whole movie! I really need to work on memorizing the entire Raiders script word-for-word. If there are flaws in that script, feel free to point them out, because I’m just whole-heartedly taking RAIDERS as the gold standard for storytelling.
Anyway, what perplexed me wasn’t the need to give characters a moment to embrace/realize/reluctantly decide to set out into the NEW WORLD, but rather where the origin of the decision might possibly occur. In this instance I was thinking about the off-screen back story build-up before page one of a script– very specifically a ‘going to prison’ scenario where prison was not the story’s NEW WORLD. The question then being- Okay, what is the NEW WORLD in those circumstances? I was feeling around for an example that had all the elements and factors dictating the decision occurring before the movie begins. Where the decision was more of a realization that there’s really no where else to go, which seems like a pretty weak justification for moving the story forward.
I tried to hijack the SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION to illustrate what my thinking was, but Unk pointed me toward THE GREAT ESCAPE. Dusted off and watched my two-tape VHS edition, which fit the bill nicely. WWII makes for a huge back story element, not to mention the motley group of Prisoners all having extensive escapes on record and the interesting Luftwaffe vs. the SS/Gestapo angle. All that gets set up as the ORDINARY WORLD while quickly introducing a huge nuanced cast, some having different takes on the essential goal of escape. McQueen and Ives’s cooler-time makes the real distinction against Bartlett’s 250-at-once GREAT ESCAPE.
And really, even going to the gold standard of RAIDERS there’s plenty of off-screen back story playing into Indy going after the Ark– the G-men invoke the ever-hated Nazis and certainly dropping Ravenwood’s name is tugging on his motives whether it’s addressed out front or not. When Marion does enter the picture and we get their dynamic it just locks in and the story takes off.
So I’m beginning to suspect that the real skill with this particular point of screenwriting structure is weaving the off-screen back story into the decision and entrance into the NEW WORLD, without being awkward and expositional. Which might be something I don’t completely have a handle on just yet. I’m a big fan of rich story mythology (as demonstrated by my love of LOST and Battlestar Galactica). I outline back story in decades and centuries. An in medias res whore, I am. All for the long, obscure payoff. Straightforward? Fuhgeddebahdit! Which is probably why I get a lot of confusion. I’m definitely going to have to work on editing for necessity and clarity.
I think I’m done with long-form movie reviews. My reactions are a strange, skewed, subjective mess and unless I’m taking things apart from a hard theory critique standpoint and making the effort to support my thoughts (which sure as hell ain’t gonna happen at this hour), it’s essentially the same wank seen anywhere else online. So I’ll briefly stick to my reactions here at 3AM…
Indy IV doesn’t incite teh blood rage. Certainly a good thing! I was nearly prepared to go all Starkweather and scourge the knowledge from human existance if it turned out to be an atrocity. It wasn’t. But make no mistake, this is not your stock Indy flick. There has been some heavy chop-shop action done to structure whereby introductions and building momentum are done away with in favor of a ‘such and such, skip to the end…’ approach. I’m okay with it, but it almost creates a sort of vacuum that leaves things thin or unnecessary in places and insincere in others. Feels almost like all 3rd act which is somewhat better than none. Plenty of good stuff though and no major weak character issues for me except a few beats and one character who no doubt would have immensely benefited from a nice well-crafted first act. Go into it with the first three movies as your intro & building momentum and you’re good to go. (Plus a little AG… and also consider CEot3rdK an epilogue.)
Happy Futurama day, meatbags! Today, November 27th, marks the release of the first new adventure for Fry, Leela, Bender, Hermes, the Professor, Scruffy and the lovable Dr. Zoidberg in OVER 4 years, 3 months and 17 days! That’s 224 weeks– 37,680 hours– 2,260,800 minutes– 135,648,000 seconds even! Much, much too long for something with as much heart-warming brilliance as Futurama. I can easily remember the frustration of trying to loyally watch each new broadcast episode on Sundays only to face repeated NFL overtimes and poor, lazy Fox scheduling bumps. Who’s laughing now, bastards?! Bwahaha! Well, okay, I’m sure the DVD distribution depts are probably drooling since I really expect Bender’s Big Score to do well, but let the weasels have their money, I’m just happy to have more of what one of the finest works of modern American animation. Matt Groening, Ken Keeler and David X. Cohen– you’re truly princes among men.
Speaking of the esteemed Mr. G, here he is pounding the pavement with fellow scribes. I mentioned that I might eventually blog about the strike, but I don’t have anything relevant to add that hasn’t been said elsewhere. With this week marking the first full month since pencils down I thought that today I’d pass along a few links that cover most of the recent developments. If you’re a stickler for details there’s a good look at the numbers up at the Huffington Post that breaks down all the points, percents and payments. Variety reports that talks resumed on Monday and the early hubbub sounds hopeful. Everyone’s gotta be excited that things could possibly be worked out by the Hols, so here’s to hoping.
The last thing I wanted to mention today was some common sense about antagonists… Mike Werb reiterates one of the most important rules regarding villians- make them fascinating. Seriously, please.