CHARACTER CHIAROSCURO: Little Accidents, Appropriate Behavior and Son of a Gun


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Warning: SPOILERS
Three movies have opened recently that are driven by characters studies, even in the case of the one that is also driven by a prison break and robbery of a gold refinery. It’s not a bad way to start the new year, even if one of them, as far as I’m concerned, doesn’t work on any level.
little accidentsLittle Accidents takes place in a small town that depends on coal mining for its existence. When a cave in leaves a sole survivor, he gets caught between two factions: the miners who want him to blame the company so they can be sued for compensation, and the miners who want him to say it was an accident because if the mine owners are held at fault, the mine will close and there’ll be no more work.
Meanwhile, the teenage son of the mine manager continually bullies the son of a miner who has died. When a fight ensues, the miner’s son accidentally kills the manager’s son and hides the body, causing a city wide search.
Finally, the wife of the manager, upset over the disappearance of her son and her suspicion that her husband was responsible in some way for the cave in, finds her life slipping away from her.
The three characters, Amos, the survivor; Owen, the miner’s son; and Diane, the manager’s wife, slowly find their lives intersecting as they become involved in some way with each other: Amos and Diane have an affair while Owen does yard work for Diane while Diane begins to treat him as a surrogate son and Amos becomes a kind of father figure to Owen.
Little Accidents is written and directed by Sara Colangelo and is one of those small movies that are rich in depth of characterization. The people are leading lives of quiet desperation, but Colangelo shows them such understanding and sympathy that you can’t help but be deeply moved in how they work through the difficulties that have suddenly shown up in their lives. Continue reading

WHERE’S THE REST OF ME: The Signal and Night Moves


First, a word from our sponsors.  Ever wonder what a reader for a contest or agency thinks when he reads your screenplay? Check out my new e-book published on Amazon: Rantings and Ravings of a Screenplay Reader, including my series of essays, What I Learned Reading for Contests This Year, and my film reviews of 2013. Only $2.99. http://ow.ly/xN31r
Warning: SPOILERS
Signal_Two movies have opened that seem to have never heard of the rule that today your screenplay must begin with a grabber scene, it simply has to. You know, something that happens in the first ten pages that attacks the face and thrusts its whatever it was down your throat like that creature in Alien?
Instead the filmmakers seem to feel that the slow build, the taking the time to create context for the characters and the situation, the use of an approach that invites us along for the ride rather than assaults us, is the more effective way to go.  Wow, what a concept. Continue reading