Monday, September 20, 2010

Screenwriting. Shawshank.

So I finished reading that screenwriting book, Elements of Style for Screenwriters? I guess September just must be my month for picking bad books. Not that it was entirely useless, but it was set up like a dictionary of terms, you know, A is for "acts," B is for "binding" or "back to scene" (OR BONER-KILL).

Blah. What I'd really be interested in reading is some sort of inside edition of screenwriting, written by someone like Ari Gold (from Entourage), complete with scathing sarcasm, insults, and profanity. Speaking of Entourage, has anyone been watching it lately? Vinnie Chase with the cocaine and the porn stars and getting DeNiro-kicked by Marshall Mathers? He's off the deep end, y'all. Wow.

Anyway, skip the book unless you really don't know anything about screenwriting.

We watched The Shawshank Redemption last night, or McGillicuddy's Quest as Matt called it once, probably stoned, and unable to remember the real title. In a Film vs. Book smackdown, I'd have to go with FILM on this one. Stephen King has gone on record many times and said that this was a wonderful adaptation of his vision, one that he thought was right on, and I'll second it, even though what I think doesn't mean anything. The changes Frank Darabont made were good ones: the opera scene on the record player, keeping one, single, evil Warden throughout instead of many who came and went, and MORGAN FREEMAN (in the short story, Red was an Irish white guy). I think everyone was well cast in their roles, actually, but Morgan Freeman was beautiful. I love his voice. I think I even watched the Visa commercials he narrated during the Olympics, I love his voice so much.

One other thing that translated well from book to film was the relationship that developed between the two unlikely friends. I always get a little teary when Red finds the treasure at the end and then ends up on the beach. . . it would be so lovely if everyone could.

Which brings me to friendship, as a concept. I was forced to watch I LOVE YOU, MAN the other night. What an uncomfortable hour that was (I left when it got to be too embarrassing and my goose bumps began to hurt from all the clenching and grimacing). Now, I'm all in for uncomfortable humor (The Office, Extras, etc.) or even uncomfortable drama (Punch Drunk Love). I don't know why this film bothered me so much, I mean Paul Rudd's character was such a dolt I was demanding that his scenes be muted about three minutes in, but it was something more than that. The ideology of it, maybe. I have probably five close girl friends, and trust me, none of them know the days of my cycle or specifics of my sex life, nor will they, ever. I'm a Minnesota German, yes, and we can be distant and cold, especially when it comes to intimate details and emotion with others, but there are just some things I'm not sharing, you know? Some things are mine, no one else's. This film made it seem like all women share these things. It also made women look vapid, gossipy, not-smart, and annoying. If I want to watch chicks who are these things I usually just turn on Sex and the City. (STAY TUNED FOR RANDOM, ANONYMOUS COMMENTS THAT LABLE ME A HATER).

Also: you've been dating a guy for eight months who likes Rush and you've never even heard of the band? Dumb. I couldn't even consider marrying someone who wasn't my friend. How were these two even together in the first place? What a bunch of morons.

So if anything, I thought there were funny parts in the film, but there were too many other uncomfortable things for me to enjoy it. Here I am, a woman, critiquing a man-film for its portrayal of women, which was probably an accurate portrayal, just not one that worked for me. Should I be able to sit back and laugh at it anyway since I'm not like that? Should I be pissed off at the chicks who are? Fuck it. I'm Daniel Day Lewis, walking off the stage.

Yes. Me, me, me, I know.


Donald said...

You should check out William Goldman's book "Adventures in the Screen Trade." It's not really a "how-to" of writing, but it is a really entertaining and somewhat scathing insider school on Hollywood from one of its best and most prolific writers. You'd enjoy it.

As for Shawkshank... great movie, but I have a few problems with it that really kill it for me toward the end. I'll discuss this at some point on my blog.

And I skipped I Love You Man because it didn't look very funny, and Jason Siegel is never funny.

Justin Garrett Blum said...

I Love You, Man was funny. I've seen it twice. Of course, that's just my opinion.

Then again, if you're willing to go on the record and say that Jason Siegel has never been funny in his life, then you're probably not going to change your tune. Still, I recommend both this film and Forgetting Sarah Marshall. Not for Donald, perhaps, but for people who don't dislike Jason Siegel.

Anna, I really didn't have the same problem with the film that you did. There are plenty of things about me that my wife doesn't really care to share, and I'm fine with that. I just wrote a long ass post on one of my blogs about the comic book character Booster Gold. Do you think she knows jack shit about this guy? She's not interested in comics and that's fine, because we have other things in common that we do share.

We've been together for five years and married for over three. Even after all this time, there are still things that just never came up. Given that the characters in the film aren't even married yet and Paul Rudd's character is sort of bottled up, I don't think it's strange at all he never mentioned liking Rush. He probably didn't think it would be something in which she'd be interested.

As to the girl talk stuff, I'll take your word on it. I'm quite certain my wife wouldn't share intimate details like that with anybody, either, but then again, she's an exceptionally private person. Not that you have to be that way in order to keep the details of your menstrual cycle to yourself...

Donald said...

I shouldn't say Jason Siegel is never funny, since I was a fan of Freaks and Geeks and enjoyed his character. But I didn't like Sarah Marshall at all and thought he was really terrible in it. Also, I didn't find him funny in Knocked Up.

That Chick who likes to Procreate said...

it seemed like everything was one-sided. he knew enough about HER, he was making her friends a tray of root beer floats, he was going down on her six times a week (her GF's words, and her GF knew this, as when they didn't have sex on a vacation, etc.)
she wasn't reciprocating. didn't know about Rush, sorry but I'm not letting go of that one.

Comic characters I can understand, that's pretty specialized. For those of us who geek out about stuff it's rare that we hook up with people who geek out just as hard, but I knew my soon to be spouse dug on guitars and david lynch by our 2nd date--he knew about my mario brothers and twilight zone obsessions as well. I would bet that your wife knows that you like comics, or that comics in general would have at least come up after 8 months.

Siegel was the only part of the film that I actually LIKED. I haven't seen anything else he's done.

Donald said...

Nobody in their right mind would admit to another person that they like Rush. My girlfriend doesn't know that I like Rush. In fact, if she were to ask me, I'd lie right to her face and tell her they suck. Then I'd go home and totally rock out to Tom Sawyer.

Anna said...

for the record: i know this film was not geared toward women. and that having that stereotypical tribe of women was necessary to set up the need for Sidney Fife.

and i like it when directors show that they think girls are cool, not just glory holes.