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March 2008 Archives

March 22, 2008

Suburban Shootout

I watched and loved this show when it originally aired in the U.S. (on Oxygen), which is why I requested to review Acorn Media’s new DVD set (even though one of our other writers had already signed up). I felt a little greedy, but I wanted to share my love with the Film Monthly readership and the world at large. However, if you noticed my use of past-tense verbs, you might have realized something went horribly awry.

Posted by D. B. Bates at 12:00 AM | Print-Friendly | Comments (0) | Film Monthly, Reviews

March 23, 2008

Canterbury’s Loss

It was reported recently (okay, not that recently, but this column isn’t exactly news of the day) that the CW has eliminated its entire comedy development department. I have mixed feelings about this move. On one hand, in the combined…

Posted by D. B. Bates at 12:00 AM | Print-Friendly | Comments (0) | Reviews, Idiot Boxing

March 2, 2008

Omar Coming

Breaking Bad (AMC) — “You wanna cook?” What a downer. I read a great comment from somebody who clearly hasn’t seen the show, arguing that it glorifies meth cooking as a source of easy money and isn’t something that should…

Posted by D. B. Bates at 12:00 AM | Print-Friendly | Comments (0) | Reviews, Idiot Boxing

March 16, 2008

The Wire Unravels

The institutional collapse of the modern American city drove Jimmy McNulty (and David Simon and Ed Burns and all the other writers) insane for five years — well, technically, more than five years. We just came in on the point where McNulty…

Posted by D. B. Bates at 12:00 AM | Print-Friendly | Comments (0) | Reviews, Idiot Boxing

March 9, 2008

Finales and Returns

As we approach finales for two stellar shows (The Wire and Breaking Bad both finish up next week), the CW sneaks in and brings back two of their best shows (Aliens in America and Everybody Hates Chris), with a third…

Posted by D. B. Bates at 12:00 AM | Print-Friendly | Comments (0) | Reviews, Idiot Boxing

March 30, 2008


A&E has taken to rerunning CSI: Miami during the noon hour. I don’t know how long they’ve been doing this, but needless to say I’ve just discovered it and set the TiVo to record it. I revel in its sheer…

Posted by D. B. Bates at 12:00 AM | Print-Friendly | Comments (0) | Reviews, Idiot Boxing

March 12, 2008

Welcome to the Party, Pal…

Here’s what nerds argue about:

Where’s the first act-break in Die Hard? I watched this movie today, for the first time since I was maybe 10-years-old, in my continuing effort to analyze the way movies in this genre are put together. In particular, this movie was recommended to me because it shares one common element with my action thriller: an extremely long first act. I’m not ordinarily one to follow the goofy script-guru “if [insert jargon] doesn’t happen on page [number], your story will fail” line of reasoning. For me, screenwriting is about 30% mechanics, 70% instinct. Anybody who has seen a lot of movies could write a screenplay with a rough but definable three-act structure, even if they don’t know that’s what they’re doing. The structure may be the only thing they get right, with all the plot points and arcs hitting the right beats, because it’s been ingrained in drama since Ancient Greece.

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Posted by D. B. Bates at 5:51 PM | Print-Friendly | Comments (0) | Screenwriting Articles

March 27, 2008

Character Ark

Yes, I know how to spell. That’s a pun. You’ll see.

I discovered from the blog of stupidity that a screenwriting forum I no longer read (because, honestly, it got too full of people like her) has had somewhat of a debate on character arcs, prompted by a post by this guy. His take is decidedly an argument against arcs. Her take?

But that doesn’t mean authority is always wrong either, because that would be equally short sighted. So I say, if your script calls for character arcs, knock yourself out. And if it doesn’t, knock yourself out with that too.

Way to be Switzerland!

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Posted by D. B. Bates at 2:33 PM | Print-Friendly | Comments (0) | Screenwriting Articles

March 3, 2008

Script Review: Jennifer’s Body by Diablo Cody

It might surprise you to learn I didn’t hate Jennifer’s Body. I didn’t like it much, either, but it manages to eschew most of Juno’s more egregious problems with its legitimate fantastical setting (as opposed to Juno’s “people are accusing us of offering an irresponsible message, so we’re calling it a fantasy” fantastical setting). It also, despite its problems, doesn’t try to forget or ignore where the story should naturally head in favor of a sloppy, forced happy ending. It’s sloppy and forced in other areas, to be sure, and its ending is unremarkable, but Jennifer’s Body knows its role and, for the most part, lives up to it.

Here’s a brief outline of the story: plain-jane Anita “Needy” Lesnicki (I am not making up that name) is 17 and institutionalized. In voiceover, she suggests that we ought to know how she ended up in the nuthouse, which flashes back to her killing her best friend, the once-beautiful Jennifer Check who has now become some sort of unknown monster. Jennifer’s mother catches Needy in the act; she’s arrested and, eventually, hauled into the nuthouse. Of note is a song — a “soaring rock anthem” — which places twice during this opening sequence — once when Needy is dragged into solitary confinement, and again during the flashback where she’s arrested.

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Posted by D. B. Bates at 8:22 AM | Print-Friendly | Comments (2) | Script Reviews, Reviews

March 24, 2008

Stupid Bloggers Need the Most Attention

About a month ago, Ken Levine posted a moronic critique of No Country for Old Men, written by Bob “Back to the Future” Gale. (Some of the nitpicks are reasonable, but the bulk of them are either a side effect of not paying attention or just not understanding what was happening. I don’t understand why people, especially professional writers, found the movie so difficult to follow.) This post isn’t about that.

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Posted by D. B. Bates at 11:42 AM | Print-Friendly | Comments (2) | Screenwriting Articles

March 29, 2008


Found this on a blog, where the author has a weekly tradition of predicting weekend box-office success:

SUPERHERO MOVIE (2960 theaters). Craig Mazin over at Artful Writer wrote and directed this, which means it’s likely to be more consistent and funnier than “Epic Movie”, “Date Movie” and that ilk. Should do pretty well. $19.3 million.

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Posted by D. B. Bates at 1:19 PM | Print-Friendly | Comments (0) | Screenwriting Articles