Tuesday, February 26, 2013

2013 OSCARS: Flight (2012) - No Easy Way Out

[Quick Summary: After an intoxicated pilot lands a billion-to-one flight, he boils over as questions abound.]

I can see why Denzel wanted to play the pilot, Whip.

Whip doesn't take responsibility.

He doesn't have tough conversations or relationships.  He either walks away, or reaches for the bottle.

But after he saves a flight while high, he cannot hide.  His coping mechanisms no longer work.

I liked that the script is really hard on Whip.

It was so satisfying to see him face everything he's avoided.

WHAT I'VE LEARNED:  I respect characters who earn their victories.

Flight (2012)
by John Gatins

Saturday, February 23, 2013

2013 OSCARS: Django Unchained (2012) - I'll Admire From Afar

[Quick Summary: A black ex-slave turned bounty hunter rescues his wife from her plantation slave owner.]

Here's my two cents on this Oscar nominated winning script:

#1 - There are several tortures, rapes, and senseless killings.

They are not gratuitous.  Each one has a purpose.

However, I have a nasty suspicion that the cruelty depicted could easily have happened...and it made the ugliness ten times worse to stomach.

#2 -  The script shows Tarantino knows story and how to tell it.

His skill is the only thing that makes this terrible topic bearable.

Is the script worth reading? Yes.  It is daring, provocative, and unafraid.

Would I read it again? No.

WHAT I'VE LEARNED:  I admire this script for its audacity.

However, I did not enjoy the read, particularly the inhumane violence against Broomhilda.

Django Unchained (2012)
Written and directed by Quentin Tarantino

Monday, February 11, 2013

2013 OSCARS: Amour (2012) - Anatomy of Loss

[Quick Summary: After a wife suffers two strokes, her loving husband struggle to cope.]

I admit I was not looking forward to reading this Oscar nominated script.

Would a husband caring for his dying wife keep my interest?

The answer is YES.

Anna's husband Georges is losing his vibrant wife in increments.

The script shines as each scene shows the loss, and then how Georges overcomes it.

The losses begin small.

ex. Anna goes mute for a few seconds. Georges panics.

Then they become larger.

ex. Anna becomes incontinent. Georges cleans up.

Then a great big avalanche.

ex. He covers up Anne's spiraling decline from their daughter.

I felt this escalating structure rather than saw it.  I was too worried how upbeat Georges would face the next decision.

Now that's good writing!

WHAT I'VE LEARNED:  I became more invested as the losses grew.

The increase in tension and suspense were a nice side benefit.

Amour (2012)
by Michael Haneke

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

TODAY'S NUGGET: The French Lieutenant's Woman (1981) - One Way to Adapt the Unadaptable

[Quick Summary: An actor and actress pretend affair for a film shoot parallels their affair in real life.]

Last week's read was disappointing.

The next three Pinter scripts in the queue* only got a brief skim.

(I didn't get them. Anyone care to chime in?)

This brings me to the only script I wanted to read: the Oscar nominated The French Lieutenant's Woman.

The story is about Charles, an engaged English gent.  He gets involved with Sarah, a shunned woman who walks the undercliffs.

Here are a few challenges that Pinter faced:**

- It is a 445 pg. unfilmable novel.
- It has three alternate endings and a narrator.
- It switches between Victorian and modern periods.
- It had been unsuccessfully developed for 8-9 years.

So what did Pinter do? He inserted a construction that is NOT in the book.

How did he do it?  The story of Charles and Sarah would now be a movie being filmed.   "Mike" is an actor who would play Charles. "Anna" would play Sarah.

Mike and Anna are having an affair, just like the roles they are playing.

This construction enables the audience to see the Victorian story, but also the modern comment on it. (Easy in a novel. Not so easy in a film.)

When Charles and Sarah have problems, it emphasizes the same ones between Mike and Anna.

WHAT I'VE LEARNED:  I agree with Fowles about Pinter:

"[H]is genius ...seems to me to be his truly remarkable gift for reducing the long and complex without distortion." ***

*The Quiller Memorandum (1966) - cold war spy
Accident (1967) - tragedy in flashback
The Go-Between (1970) - forbidden love affair
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** For more, read author John Fowles' foreword to the script.

***Also, Fowles praised Pinter's approach to this adaption as "the only way."