January 31, 2008
January 30, 2008
Platinum Dune is remaking A Nightmare On Elm Street. No writer has been hired until the end of the strike.
I want that job. Despite what many people might say about remakes, when done appropriately they can reinvent and reinvigorate a franchise. I am very familiar with the Freddy Krueger mythos. I understand the themes, love the absurdism and relish the gore. And I should add that the although the sequels have diminished the strength of the original, they ultimately feed the universe in a way that actually can help a remake.
I can do this thing.
around 6:18 PM
January 28, 2008
Major rearrangement in my script. I figured out a key event that happened at the midpoint was entirely wrong, both in terms of plot and character. It now drives the story forward instead of sinking it in a mire. The thing still is a head-scratcher, but I'm getting there.
In other news, trying to get another idea out of my system I took two days off to work on it. I wound up with the first forty pages.
around 7:16 PM
January 23, 2008
Man, it sucks about Heath Ledger. The guy had everything awesome coming to him in terms of career respectability, length and even box office. He had a couple of stinkers, but he somehow was the bright spot in them; the guy was a bona fide star, or was certainly on the path to become one. My condolences go out to his family and friends.
around 10:00 PM
January 22, 2008
I recently finished Everything Bad Is Good For You by Steven Johnson, and man did I enjoy it. For one, it's very easy to read (for those not particularly good at the whole neuroscience lingo thing). But it's also seemingly very well informed, and packs a solid punch. Lots to discuss, lots to ponder.
I've always been reluctant to criticize people's taste: despite my own dislike for the stuff, if someone likes hip-hop who am I to decide that genre is defining of that person? It is always assumed all metalheads are covered in tattoos and are uninformed brutes (okay, I do know a couple who fit the bill, but it's hardly the norm). The chameleonic nature of popular culture suggests that getting a grasp on what it actually is requires comprehending the role of environment and sociological evolution more than fashion or musical trends. Tiny and maybe imperceptible factors play a major role in what we prefer to absorb from our cultural surroundings. I may have tons to complain about tabloid journalism based on moral grounds, but that doesn't means I don't understand the fascination they hold.
Also, I tend to analyze (a little too much, some would say) what it is that makes a random group of people to prefer one thing over the other, culturally speaking. I can understand why someone would like a big-budget movie that makes no sense whatsoever, even though it may suck the very life out of logic, narrative and art. For all its shortcomings (and they were plenty), I willingly saw Transformers in a theater three times, once even in Imax-- and enjoyed the hell out of it. I'd say "blame it on my environment", but there's no blame to place anywhere, because environment is not guilty. It's merely responsible.
If it seems like I'm simplifying the premise of Johnson's book, it's because it's loaded with great ideas, the majority of which I find laudable. If you feel like explaining in detail to your significant other why playing video games is actually good for your development, give this book a gander.
Now, if only I can figure out what it is that people like in a script so I can write it in and guarantee a sell...
around 9:41 PM
January 21, 2008
Cloverfield carries the exact weight of greatness required for success. Lots of pretty people. Lots of scares. Lots of convenient camera-holding at the precise instant when it's dramatically appropriate. And lots of marketing, especially the kind that makes fanboys scour the Internet for clues. Abundantly clever.
So, obvious questions that undermine the whole "cinema verité" concept aside, is it good? Well, it's better than many a turd released every weekend and consumed with glee by teenagers looking for the next big (and disposable) thrill. And it has a couple of genuine holy-crap-lookit-that moments. But I was underwhelmed. I think the fact that amongst all this reality there was a phenomenally absurd gaffe.
There is not a single corpse to be seen among all the chaos and wreckage and mayhem. So, essentially, a giant monster rips through a borough with a population of a million-and-a-half (plus commuters and unlucky bastards that came in from Staten Island for the day), and somehow manages not to step on a single one of them.
around 10:24 PM
January 20, 2008
I'm so stuck in the mud with this script I'm working on that my sudden burst of inspiration came as a surprise. Except it was for a whole other story.
I sat down, wrote biographical information for my two main characters, and got to work. I knew most of what had to happen in the first act in a matter of minutes.
This was a nugget I had a few months back after reading a quick mention about a group of people who form an unofficial club of sorts. When I first jotted the potential idea down the characters were in their 20s, still figuring out their lives, and trying to find out during a road trip.
All I had to do was change the age of the characters, and things started falling in place, like tumblers in a keylock.
Ideally, Johhny Depp and John Cusack would star in it. You never know...
around 10:15 PM
January 19, 2008
I'm always of two minds when it comes to Tim Burton's films. For one, I find his taste to suit my own morbid palate, and his stories tends to fit in a dark fairytale realm that is both unique and oft imitated. Yet whenever he tackles someone else's material I feel he is somehow constricted. Square, even; that bothers me, because I regard him as a visionary.
His two Batman films to be suitably murky, yet often to their own detriment; his adaptations of Planet Of The Apes and Charlie And The Chocolate Factory were huge letdowns. These are films that belong in a very particular canon. They are either franchises or "reinterpretations" of previously adapted material-- in versions that are loved by movie-going audiences already. And his rather dull Corpse Bride is inspired by a Jewish folktale.
On the flipside, Ed Wood, Edward Scissorhands, Beetlejuice, Mars Attacks!-- these are films I admire and envy and love and am always eager to revisit.
There are two exceptions: Sleepy Hollow is a fun (if not entirely perfect) reinvention of a tale many remember best as a Disney cartoon; and his adaptation of Big Fish is probably the best film he's ever made (and I damn near cry every time I see it).
I've been thinking about this a lot, since I just saw Sweeney Todd. Perhaps my expectations were too high. Perhaps I thought the marriage of material and director seemed ideal, and thus the offspring cannot live up to the legacy. Because goddammit-- I wanted to like it. I wanted to LOVE it. A gorey musical? Hell yeah!
Sure, the blood runs by the bucket, and the performances are fine. I was not bothered at all by the many complaints I heard about Johnny Depp's and Helene Bonham Carter's singing. And any movie with Alan Rickman and Timothy Spall has enough taste to fill a swimming pool.
But in general, it being a musical, the film is somehow not a very musical one in terms of visuals. There are moments where Burton lets the camera break the confines of reality (I mean, this is a world where people break into song, people) and those are the most enjoyable scenes. Todd offering his services around town, blade in hand, only to magically reappear in his barbershop? That's a wonderful moment when time and space are shattered to escape the limitations of the story, and it's great. And there's a murder montage that follows the same premise-- yet still feels merely like a montage that stylistically could fit in any other movie.
I wonder if these ideas were set in stone in the screenplay, or if Burton made these choices independent of what was on the page. It saddens me when I'm disappointed by the art of one of my inspirations. But I'm happy the movie is doing well-- it means Burton gets to make another movie. I've read rumors of feature-length versions of Frankenweenie and Vincent. I'd like the former, but I'd LOVE the latter.
I'll support Burton through thick and thin, in hopes that he keeps bringing his ecclectic, moody vision to the screen in original material.
around 9:33 PM
January 18, 2008
I just finished watching both La Femme Nikita and Cool Hand Luke. Amazing, right? Total headspace for this project, I think. If only I could actually stay in it.
I keep wanting to make my characters sarcastic and injecting humor into the proceedings. Where is the gritty? Why is it so hard for me to keep this script serious? Others I've had no problem, but this one has proven to be a challenge.
I'm taking a few days off to go to Boston. I need to rethink this. I need to find what makes my characters tick again, because that seems to be the issue.
I do know a death is coming up. It's not going to be a funny one, that's for sure.
Coming up: The Getaway and The Great Escape.
around 9:17 PM
January 17, 2008
I gripped alright. All the way into the following week. And then some. I then went to pick up new footage for that documentary I've been working on --seemingly-- forever. I began writing again. I'm wagering that four more days and I'll have a draft I like.
Then I read an article about Michael Davis, the writer/director of Shoot 'Em Up, and learned he got a job after a page one rewrite he finished in five days. It made me feel terribly insecure, given that I'm about to enter my second month with this sucker. I guess my excuse is the other gigs I'm trying to hold onto to pay my bills.
I guess you can't have it all.
around 8:22 PM
January 09, 2008
Starting tomorrow at the crack of dawn-- even before, actually-- and for the next four days, I'll be gripping on a short film in upstate NY. No writing, and thus no entries. I will be taking the book I'm reading, though. There may be some down time... maybe?
It's a paid gig, and I like being on set, but the truth is I'm a little tired of gripping. I'm also a gaffer at times, and occasional AC and DP. But I'm a big guy, so I tend to be used for the big stuff. I'm a writer mostly these days, goddammit, and the proof is tangled in my hilarious three-digit typing.
around 10:05 PM
I just saw the video of the alleged confrontation between US Navy ships and Iranian vessels.* I am no intelligence specialist, but whoever voiced those threats ("you will explode after a few minutes") needs to take acting lessons.
It's the kind of event that takes place in C- grade movies that usually wind up in the direct-to-DVD discount bin (and a scenario I will likely avoid given its obvious and contrived nature).
For one, the whole affair reeks of lame repetition: in a movie, a character would not say this because it's giving away the suspense instead of creating it. And let's face it, crooks don't warn their victims they're about to strike: "Hey you-- the pretty blonde. You're about to be mugged. BWAHAHA!"
Furthermore, the voice is heavily accented, almost stereotypically so. And ominous, way too much. Deep, mysterious, oozing evil-- like the creepy fairground keeper in a Scooby Doo episode.
It almost sounds like someone is pretending to be menacing. For what purpose, or who would fake it, I don't know. And if it's real, good grief. The guy's a moron.
The Iranian government says the video is fabricated to generate interest in a US invasion of Iran. The US calls Iran "a threat to world peace". Whatever it is, it's damn shoddy writing.
*Keeping my fingers crossed this situation does not lead to any more wars, regardless of who's responsible.
around 4:09 PM
January 07, 2008
Well, if proof was needed that the writers actually do have a wee bit of power, it's been displayed. The Golden Globes winners will be announced through a press conference in lieu of the lavish NBC-aired event. So yeah, we don't get to see the awards, which can be occasionally amusing. The only true shame is Joe Q. Public missing out on A-listers getting sloshed. Oh well.
Rewrote about 15 pages today. Feeling better little by little about this beastie.
around 10:01 PM
January 06, 2008
I dismissed Firefly much like I dismissed Buffy. I was fully aware that Joss Whedon was behind the latter, as well as its spin-off Angel, but I knew not that Firefly was also of his creation. I never saw Buffy; I once channeled-surfed onto a snippet of Angel, in which some demon-type said something that seemed ludicrously amusing, and it turned me off (demons are demons for a reason, not because they amuse). I thought both shows were probably one of those "geek-only" affairs that generate a cult following so strong it defies logic. I read over and over how fantastic Buffy was, how revolutionary, how avant garde. But frankly I could not be bothered. I'm a geek, but I have things to do.
(Full disclosure: I have never ever seen a single movie or episode of Star Trek. Hardly possible, given its ubiquitous nature; I do however understand big chunks of the milieu, characters and concepts: popular culture is a bitch. But I'm rather proud of my un-achievement. I can't explain; it's just happened. I never set out to do it. Maybe, someday. So poof!, there goes my geek cred.)
So, Firefly. I knew it involved a space vessel, and I not-really-purposefully skipped the movie follow-up, Serenity. It just sounded like a Star Trek thing. Or Battlestar Galactica (another universe I'm alien to. I know, right?).
(Digression: I love how certain age-of-online terms have evolved into verbs. To google. To skype. To netflix.)
I netflixed Firefly, knowing I'd have the holidays to look over four DVDs of a TV series. And by golly, I've been a fool.
Beauty, thy name is Firefly.
The characters. The writing. The whole freakin' environment. It's like it was tailor-made to suit my palate. The whole pirates/cowboys in the future/outer space thingy, and there ain't even any gorram aliens!
As usual, greatness is received with a lack of deference by the general populace. 14 episodes, plus a movie. That's it. The network said, "no more fun, Mr. Whedon", and audiences said "this is way too smart".
As for me, I've been studying the 'verse as best I can. I found a few scripts online and am reading them, disassembling them, dissecting them. I saw--and ruttin' loved--Serenity. I read the graphic novel. I even have been going through essays on the sociological importance of the Firefly mythos, described in more than a few books (dingdingding! Geek cred restored!).
I'd put off reading Whedon's Alien: Resurrection script, despite popular wisdom that it's sheer genius and was manhandled into crumminess when it leapt onto the screen. Now it's in my to-read pile.
And I'll be watching Buffy real soon. Joss Whedon has crept into my personal pantheon of greatness.
January 05, 2008
I'm on the fourth draft of my latest opus. My manager has been requesting certain things to make it a little bit more gritty. It's not easy. The script was originally an action/adventure, and as per his suggestions has become slowly darker. I'm good with dark when it's funny. When it's not it's a whole different approach, and it requires my being in a distinct headspace, one that needs more concentration. It's a good exercise for me.
around 8:12 PM
January 04, 2008
The past few weeks haver been far from a holiday. There was some merry-making, ho ho ho, and lots of above-average consumption for New Year's Eve (best steak I've ever had!). But a huge chunk was spent editing. Long, grueling hours before the glare of the laptop (not unlike every other working day). Also, a translating gig. Looking for more of those-- they're well paid. I'll also be working on a film set in a few days.
But back to writing as of yesterday.
around 10:03 PM