Recap: 8 September 2009

So, it’s been a while. Sorry about that.  It’s been a busy few weeks, and I actually haven’t even seen that many movies, compared to my usual intake.  But, after a creative glut last week, culminating in 8 hours of rewriting/editing/tweaking yesterday, I hereby declare this week CONSUMPTION WEEK.  As in book/movie/TV show consumption.  Not tuberculosis.

What I Wrote

I spent last week (and the weeks prior) working on ‘TIL DEATH PARTS US.  It’s been an interesting journey.  All my normal readers are having the opposite reactions to my work that they usually do.  Those who generally like my stuff haven’t liked this.  Those who are usually meh about my stuff have liked this better.  Frankly, I was really thrown because I’ve really enjoyed this script.  But anywho, I’ve taken the advice I thought would improve the script whilst still staying true to the heart of the story I’m trying to tell, and we’ll see what happens.  I submitted it to the Screenwriting Expo contest last night after burning the midnight oil to finish tweaking and do one last read-through. Once that’s done, I’ll probably send it off to The Script Department or Lucy V to see if they can make heads & tails of it when my friends couldn’t. 🙂

What I Watched

  • Inglourious Basterds (5 stars): Quentin Tarantino’s masterpiece.  My experience with QT is actually limited to the Kill Bill movies, which I enjoyed (Vol. 2 more than Vol. 1).  Much to my surprise, QT seemed rather reigned in with this film, in a good way.  Where Kill Bill was often about the spectacle, Basterds was more character-focused.  And this film is a master class in building tension, by the way.  It’s worth noting that this movie plays out as a fairytale; it’s what we wish would have happened, so don’t go in expecting anything resembling a history lesson.  It’s a gorgeous film, too, with excellent performances.  I’d venture to say it’s definitely worth a trip to the theatre even if you’re not usually a QT fan.
  • Secretary (4 stars): Wrapped inside this dark tale of a sadist boss and his masochist secretary is an incredibly sweet and affirming love story.  It asks some excellent questions.  What’s normal? Is abnormal bad? Does being abnormal mean being alone and unhappy?  Fair warning, it’s a bizarre film, and it’s a very dark film, but I adored it.  Also, if you didn’t have a thing for James Spader (or Maggie Gyllenhall, for that matter) before this movie, you likely will after. Just saying.
  • Love Me If You Dare (4 stars): If Amélie were a twisted dark romantic comedy instead of a whimsical fairytale, this would be it. Starring Marion Cotillard of La Vie En Rose (amusingly, a song which plays as a recurring theme in this film) & Public Enemies fame and Guillaume Canet of the fantastic Joyeux Noël, it’s the story of two childhood best friends who play an escalating game of dares throughout the course of their lives. I actually went to amazon to purchase this right after watching it, but it’s not available.  So, if you’re a lucky Netflix subscriber and a fan of either Amélie or dark romantic comedies, check it out.
  • Extract (3½ stars): That extra ½ star might be more out of sentimentality for writer/director Mike Judge and Jason Bateman, but it’s my blog and I can do what I want. Extract is not as good as Office Space (could anything be?), but it’s better than Idiocracy (which I didn’t hate).  Jason Bateman’s character Joel is a really pathetic version of Arrested Development’s Michael.  Really, really, really pathetic.  So much so that the amount of pity you feel for him starts to boil over into downright annoyance at how pathetic he is.  That’s the main problem with the film.  But it’s Jason Bateman, so it never quite crosses the line where you’re willing to give up on him.  The supporting cast is lovely as well, and there are some great moments. Definitely one to catch on DVD if not in theatres.
  • Divorce American Style (2½ stars): This 1967 film started out really interesting but never quite lived up to its premise.  It gets a little complicated, but the basic idea is this: Man and Woman get pushed into divorce via bad advice from friends and lawyers; Man and Woman see other people and get pushed into relationships via selfish motives of other divorcés; Man and Woman end up thrown together via coincidental circumstances, forcing them to acknowledge feelings left unresolved.  The film should have played as dark comedy (hm, I’m starting to see a theme in my picks over the past couple of weeks…), but instead it dissolved into an unfortunate melodrama in which I ended up annoyed at everybody.  That being said, in the right hands, this one might make for an interesting present-day remake.

What I’m Reading

Did I ever mention I finished The Witch of Portobello? Well, I did.  And I really liked it. The way the story was told, through interviews of other people about the main character, was very interesting and effective.

Now I’m reading a fascinating novel called A Rebours (or Against the Grain or Against Nature, depending on how your publisher of choice chooses to translate it).  This is a novel with no plot.  It’s simply one long character study of a misanthrope who’s had enough of life, more or less.  It should be boring.  It should feel pointless.  But it doesn’t, and I’m not really sure why.  Also worth noting, this is the morally poisonous book that Lord Henry Wotton gives to Dorian Gray in The Picture of Dorian Gray.  Yes, that’s why I’m reading it.  Yes, I know I’m a huge, huge nerd. And it also gives me a (not very good) excuse to post this picture.

firth-barnes-parker(I’m very jealous of all you folks in the UK who have the opportunity to see DORIAN GRAY tomorrow.  Here’s hoping this one gets picked up for U.S. distrib at TIFF.)

That’s it. Have a lovely week.

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2 thoughts on “Recap: 8 September 2009

  1. hm. your review of inglorious basterds kind of makes me want to see it. i adored kill bill (1 & 2), but was having some hesitations about seeing I.B. for some unknown reasons. ha. can’t decide if i want to sit in a theatre and watch it, or wait and watch it in the privacy of my own home…

    • If you’re on the fence, I’d go see it in theatres. It’s a beautifully shot film, and it’s got some of that epicness that really only comes across fully on the big screen. I was a more or less unenthused going in, but I was really very pleasantly surprised. If it’s the potential gore factor that’s holding you back, for QT, it’s really very, very tame, in my opinion. It’s nothing like Kill Bill Vol. 1. A few cringey moments, but nothing that struck me as all that disturbing. Additionally, the violent moments are almost all played with a bit of humor, which lessens the impact a bit.

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