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Which you so nobly serve

Shout out to the ebayer who hooked me up with last minute solar viewers for a very reasonable six bucks and one-day shipping. Not least of all because they were ostensibly legit, since my retinas seem mostly intact.

Today’s eclipse also got me thinking bout all the fun SciFi disasters astronomical events have kicked off throughout cinematic history. One of the earliest movie VHS tapes I remember us getting when I was a kid was 1984’s NIGHT OF THE COMET, which had Earth passing through the tale of a comet precipitating the zombie apocalypse. Nice gimmick wagering the 1986 pass of Halley’s Comet against the 1984 box office I reckon. Also one of my earliest impressions of Valley Girls and Shopping Malls.

And speaking of astronomical phenomena as movie gimmicks, I was also reminded of 1997’s epic THE FIFTH ELEMENT, probably in part due to all the 20th anniversary press floating around out there. That film did kick things off with a triple planetary eclipse, making for 3-times the dramatic space hoodoo and subsequently turning loose the Big Bad Hershey’s Chocolate-drooling omniscient Evil. Everything about THE FIFTH ELEMENT made it one of my most favorite movies of 1997– but please, whatever you do, don’t go googling my name + THE FIFTH ELEMENT. But then, 1997 was a great year for some classic fun movies.
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I am one of those melodramatic fools.

Who you’re probably not gonna call.

Who you’re probably not gonna call.

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).

Ghostbusters 3 Synopsis – 6 pages; 74kb PDF

Standard disclaimer, bitches ain’t shit.

Films I would’ve give my right arm to have seen at TFF…

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.

Garner + McQueen 4th of July = Best thing ever.

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.

INDY IV review: it doesn't make me homicidal.

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.)