I read this fun article on Woody Allen. He’s still one of my favorite writers, but it’s hard to argue with most of these observations.
It’s been a very busy couple of weeks lately. I do coverage and read scripts for Regent Entertainment/Here! Networks, Slamdance Screenplay Competition and Final Draft Screenplay Competition and they’ve been inundating me. It’s been overwhelming at times, but it means money. But it also means I haven’t added anything here lately.
I’m not sure what to add or talk about. I haven’t figured out what to do with this blog. It’s been a great place to store a lot of information in one place, but beyond that, it’s a bit of a puzzlement. I don’t really have an audience yet. If I did, then that might help guide me, but it’s still all a bit vague.
I was shocked, as everybody was, at the one two punch of Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson. It just sort of felt like time stopped for awhile. There’s nothing like death, especially of someone dying of cancer at 62 and someone just suddenly dying out of nowhere, with no warning, to bring out all the existential questions in life. You know, all the old chestnuts like what is the point if all we’re going to do is die? What is the meaning of life? Is there a god and if so, then why is his telephone number unlisted (sorry, but where would existential questions be without a Woody Allen type joke). There was nothing surprising about all the television coverage (like the kind that was used for 9/11 and Princess Diana), but there was something humorously incongruous about watching Keith Olbermann holding court for quite a few hours on MSNBC, waxing news like over Jackson’s death as if he were covering the Kennedy assassination. I’m not saying it was wrong of him to do it, it just seemed odd.
It’s almost insulting to go to any other subjects after that, but this is a blog. The Academy came out with the idea of nominating ten movies instead of five like they use to do during the Depression (hmmm, do you think there’s a connection). I have no problem with the idea. After all, I do a top ten list every year and none of my movies, or almost none of my movies, get nominated, so I’m quite prepared to see that none of my top ten matches the top ten of the Academy. It’s a good idea as any to try to boost ratings, but the Academy is going to get as many complaints as they use to anyway. They also made an announcement that special awards will be done at a different ceremony (the Jean Hersholt, special awards to people like Alfred Hitchcock). This is a terrible idea and I predict it will be scrapped as more people complain. They should take a list of the “minor” categories and draw out a certain number at random each year and do those at a special ceremony. But of course, I can’t even get a movie made so why should the Academy care what the hell I think.
More later, I hope.
A series of films opened with the subject matter of people getting older and/or time passing. Never the most cheerful of subjects, but one of the most avoidable ones.
The first is O’Horton, a character study of a man who is forced to retire as a train conductor. He doesn’t really take it well, becoming lost in a haze of ennui and not knowing what to do with his life. He’s the sort of central character that writing teachers and authors of screenwriting tomes will tell you it’s against the rules to create, the passive observer of life whose main goal is to survive whatever is thrown at him. O’Horton goes through a series of adventures he has little control over until he finally decides to take a leap of faith (both metaphorical and literal) and realizes that just because he’s retired that doesn’t mean life has to end. Sorry, screenwriting 101, O’Horton, written and directed by Bent Hamer, is a fascinating movie, a deeply moving meditation over what to do when one has to start over late in life. It’s quirky and slightly off kilter, a film made by someone with his own personal take on life.
The Hurt Locker is probably Kathryn Bigelow’s best film since Near Dark mainly because she doesn’t over direct in an effort to distract everyone from the silliness of the screenplays she usually has to deal with (End of Days or Point Blank anyone?). Though the story by Mark Boal takes place in Iraq, it’s not about Iraq. It’s a character study of an adrenaline junky played frighteningly well by Jeremy Renner. It has all the intensity of waiting for a bomb to go off, which is probably appropriate given the subject matter. The structure’s a tad off; it begins with one central character (played by Anthony Mackie), but then switches horses to focus on Renner. But outside of that, it’s perhaps the best American made film of the year so far.
Though the critics will try and tell you that Drag Me to Hell is not a jump and go boo movie, in the end, that’s all it really is. So in the end, it’s probably best to say that if you like this sort of thing, it’s just the sort of thing you’ll like. The heroine, played by Alison Lohman, is a loan officer who lives in a house that for some reason has an anvil tied to the ceiling in her garage (just in case you want to drop it on someone, I guess). She is approached by an elderly woman wanting an extension on her mortgage. When Lohman refuses the loan, the woman curses her. It then becomes clear that the woman is one of those characters one only sees in movies, someone who has ultimate power that enables her to do anything except, conveniently for the author, pay her mortgage (sort of like that joke about psychics who have a “going out of business” sign in their window—didn’t they know?). The script is written by Sam and Ivan Raimi and directed by Sam Raimi, who seem to have an odd oral fixation that says more about them that I want to know and definitely makes me want to pass the next time I’m invited to their house for dinner. In the end, what’s really wrong with the movie is that the authors can’t seem to decide whether Lohman’s character is someone who has no one to blame but herself or is someone who happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time stuck in an existentially cruel universe that will punish you for the littlest infraction. The authors either want it to both ways, or more likely, just don’t care, the better to jump and go boo you. For a much better film with a similar structure and idea, see Jacques Tourneur’s Night of the Demon.