Recap: 2 February 2009

The dearth of quality films opening in January allowed me to round out my Oscar-nominee viewing this weekend. Next weekend that all changes, though, with Coraline and He’s Just Not That Into You (which may or may not be a “quality” movie, but it will be fun, and I’m OK with that). By the way, if you haven’t seen this video about the clichés you will not find in HJNTIY, it’s worth checking out.

What I Watched

  • Milk (4 stars): Stellar performances here, as expected. The framing was interesting, but sometimes confusing. The only thing that kept it from earning 5 stars was that I would have liked a more even-handed take on the “villains” of the story. As it is, they’re set up as sort of one-dimensional versions of evil; an exploration into the development of their motives would have been more effective. It would be interesting to see an alternate version of history if this had been released prior to California’s Prop 8 vote; methinks it might have made a difference.
  • The Wrestler (4 stars): Despite the bloated first act, the film was able to deliver a fairly powerful, albeit disappointing story. When I say “disappointing,” I mean my own disappointment in the characters as human beings. They were well-written, but I hate seeing journeys that begin and end in the same place, even if the arc is true to character. That’s just a personal preference with no bearing on the quality of the movie, mind you. The movie was solid, and Mickey Rourke and Marisa Tomei earned their respective nominations.
  • If a Man Answers (4 stars): This is a sort-of screwball Sandra Dee-Bobby Darin movie about the trials and errors of marriage. I wasn’t expecting much, but I ended up adoring it. Dee is adorable as usual, and Darin reminds me of Ben Savage here, which makes for a good combination.
  • Vicky Cristina Barcelona (3½ stars): This one has grown on me in the past 18 hours. I nearly turned it off because the dialog was driving me up a wall in the first 15-20 minutes, but it improved once the story got moving. This is only my second time exploring the Woody Allen canon, so I don’t really have a huge frame of reference for comparison, but I did enjoy it more than Manhattan, as it seemed to be less about nothing than Manhattan was. Also, I think the Best Supporting Actress nomination should have gone to Rebecca Hall instead of Penelope Cruz. Cruz was great, but Hall had to give a more layered performance.

On Writing

I got my BlueCat analysis back last night, and my fear that MUTE sucks (and by association, that I suck) is starting to lessen just the smallest, tiniest bit. Don’t get me wrong; I love MUTE, and I worked very hard to make it the best I thought it could be, but there’s always that little voice of doubt in the back of my mind.

The feedback from BlueCat made me incredibly grateful I read and applied this post from The Rouge Wave blog, run by The Script Department head Julie Gray. By the way, I purchased script notes from The Script Department back in October before submitting MUTE to the BFSC, and they really helped me punch up my script a bit. They’re not cheap, but they’re definitely worth it.

I keep getting bombarded by all these what-if scenarios, usually when I’m trying to go to sleep, of course. What if I win? What if I place? What if I don’t advance at all? And then I try to imagine what I would do and how I would react in all those situations. I usually let my mind play around for a minute in each of those scenarios before reality checks in and gives me the real answer. And you know, the answer that always comes back is pretty simple: Keep writing. And so that’s what I do. Keep writing, keep studying, keep learning.

This Week’s Goals

  1. Seriously, I need to get through my Netflix rentals. It’s not even funny anymore.
  2. Finish reading Breaking Dawn so I can finally be done with the Twilight series.
  3. Hit 65 pages in EARNEST.

Oh, and Happy Groundhog Day, everyone! Only six more weeks of winter!*

*Please excuse the forced optimism. I’m trying to convince myself that I’m actually OK with six more weeks of bitter cold. Fake it ’til you make it, right?

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