Recap: 20 September 2009

Did someone speed up time? I swear it was July only a week or two ago, and now we’re 9 days and a few hours away from October?  That, my friends, is just crazy.

I spent a portion of my weekend writing a five-page scene for the Cyberspace Open.  It was an interesting experience. I’ve done a couple of short scene contests before via The Rouge Wave (now Just F*ing’ Entertain Me), but those scenes were always a story in and of themselves.  This weekend’s contest asked us writers to create a scene from a script that doesn’t yet exist.  Here’s the prompt.

“Your PROTAGONIST is in a jam. He (or she) had been relying on deception in order to further his objective, but his ENEMY has figured out the ruse. Write the scene in which your protagonist’s LOVE INTEREST confronts him with this information acquired from the enemy – while staging it in a tricky or dangerous situation.”

So, we basically had to come up with an entire movie idea, envision the entire arc of the story for those three characters, and then write the All is Lost moment (to use Blake Snyder’s terminology), which would occur somewhere about two-thirds of the way into the movie.  Or at least that’s how I interpreted the situation.

I started out trying to come up with tricky/dangerous situations that would make for interesting settings.  I came up with a few, but I couldn’t come up with a viable story.  It wasn’t until I laid down to go to sleep that night that my brain started drifting toward characters.  I jotted down an idea for some characters on the notepad I keep by my bed, and — voilà — I had my story.  The setting is what I like to call a creative take on the tricky/dangerous situation (did I mention my minor was in public relations?), but it’s the best I could do as a character-driven writer in the time I had to do it.  At least at this point in my life.  If nothing else, I’ve got a scene written for a potential screenplay that I actually would like to write at some point, regardless of how it does in the competition.

So that’s what I’ve been writing.  Now, here’ s…

What I Watched

  • Melinda & Melinda (3 stars): Another foray into Woody Allen territory.  In this film, two writers, one of comedies and one of tragedies, interpret one set of circumstances into two different stories, which we get to see on screen.  It’s an interesting idea, all bent on tackling the questions, “Is life a tragedy or a comedy? And why do we gravitate toward either in our entertainment?” The film is sort of an experiment in and of itself, and, while it doesn’t always succeed in outright entertainment, I thought it was an amusing and thought-provoking piece.
  • Interview (2 stars): There’s one thing I hate in movies, and that is characters with no arc whatsoever. I hate it when people end up in the same place they began having learned nothing at all. And that’s more or less what happens here.  That being said, the performances by Sienna Miller and Steve Buscemi are very, very good.  But when the characters don’t know what to take from an experience, neither do I as a viewer.
  • Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement (3 stars): Garry Marshall created a product here perfect for the intended audience: tween girls. And apparently me. Not much to say about this one.  It’s fun and airy and nice to look at.
  • Blue (4 stars): The first installment in director Krzysztof Kieslowski’s Three Colors trilogy, the story follows a woman who tries to live life with no attachments following the loss of her husband and daughter in a car accident. This is the very definition of a character-driven movie.  There’s not much plot, per se, but it’s a brilliant character study.  Juliette Binoche is phenomenal here.  She doesn’t have much dialog, but she doesn’t need it.  Everything we need to know is on her face and in her eyes.
  • Coffee & Cigarettes (2 stars): And that’s generous, frankly. This is a series of unlinked vignettes starring various actors, celebrities, musicians, etc., all talking about rather banal material whilst enjoying coffee and cigarettes.  There are a few rather enjoyable vignettes (Cate Blanchett’s piece is interesting, Jack and Meg White’s piece is amusing, and Steve Coogan and Alfred Molina’s bit is the best part), but the rest are, for the most part, just plain boring.  Maybe I’m missing something, but I felt this was a punishment for enjoying Princess Diaries 2 as much as I did.
  • Twelfth Night (2 stars): Twelfth Night is my favorite of Shakespeare’s comedies that I’ve read.  And this adaptation should have been great because the source material is great.  But they made some truly unfortunate interpretations, specifically regarding the portrayals of Malvolio, Sir Andrew, and Feste.  Much of the humor and tongue-in-cheek nature of the play was lost in this adaptation.  What remained was a whirlwind drama.  I remember having enjoyed it before I read the play, but seeing it now was just a huge letdown.
  • Jennifer’s Body (3 stars): If you’re looking for Diablo Cody hate, you certainly won’t find it here. I thoroughly enjoyed Juno, and I’d be watching United States of Tara if I had Showtime (saw the pilot and loved it).  And you know what?  If the girl wants to write a campy horror movie, then why the hell shouldn’t she?  Now that that’s out of the way, as a campy horror movie, Jennifer’s Body delivers exactly what you’d expect.  It’s fun, creepy, perhaps not as scary as it could have been, but overall, it’s a solid enough horror comedy for me.  It’s a film that knows what it is and doesn’t try to be anything else.

That’s all for now, folks. Have a lovely week. 🙂

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