June 2009 Archives
June 6, 2009
June 10, 2009
All right, everyone. I’m back to beating the dead horse of believability once a-goddamn-gain. Here’s a tip for budding screenwriters out there: problems don’t arise from a far-fetched premise, plot, or even characters. There’s a little something called “suspension of disbelief,” without which no work of fiction could succeed. Assuming it’s a work of fiction that does succeed. At any rate, the writer bears the burden of making their audience suspend disbelief. It doesn’t happen by magic.
June 14, 2009
Here’s where I live up to my reputation as a misogynist film blogger. This week, for the first time, I read a script where I kept having one thought repeatedly: “This is the first script I’ve read that seems to want to capture the cat-lady demographic.” It’s not so much that they want to hit this demo — it’s that they want to exclude everyone else from possibly enjoying this movie.
First, let’s take a step back and ponder what I consider the “cat lady” personality type. I know it’s harsh and stereotypical, and as a dude, I’m opening myself up to obvious accusations of sexism, but I’ve spent a lot of time reading television forums, and it’s impossible to not notice this small but vocal group of people — the kind of people who hate some people for being fat hos and hate another because she needs a sandwich, the kind of people who rage against bad parenting while glorifying rapists as misunderstood and quietly pondering brother-on-brother incest.
I don’t care if these people are lonely save for their 25 cats, or if they’re married with five kids and no pets. They’re all cat ladies, based more on personality type than actual cat ownership. To put it bluntly, their defining trait is not so much possession of a certain domesticated feline. In fact, I know women who own cats but don’t fall into the “cat lady” category. It’s more about the type of person who has some kind of damage causing them to not simply enjoy a work of entertainment, or to not level any valid criticism. They watch, and they judge characters in shockingly simplified terms: if they’re good-looking men, they can do no wrong no matter how many women they rape and/or beat; if they’re good-looking women, they can do no right even if they devote their lives to all manner of saintly deeds; if they’re dowdy female sidekicks, they’re abused and mistreated by their beautiful friends; if they’re dumpy, unattractive male sidekicks, they’re obnoxious and need to get off my TV screen.
June 25, 2009
I always tend to worry about this problem, which I’m sure I’ve complained about before: novice writers reading shooting drafts. Everybody knows the phrase “development hell,” but few seem to realize that, even if a script doesn’t spend a decade or more in development, all scripts go through a process of development between their selling and shooting drafts. Even ones with largely apocryphal “we told them to shoot it as-is, because it was perfect!” stories attached to them. I worry that certain writers don’t know this, and as evidenced by one of the comically ignorant comments I received for my Fuckbuddies analysis, I have a basis for my concern. (This is not to ignore the fact that many scripts even change between the shooting draft and he actual, finished film — but that issue has little to do with what I intend to talk about today.)
June 17, 2009
I’ve mentioned this before, but I hate sycophancy. I especially hate it when I get yelled at for not being sycophantic enough. I’m much more willing to bend to the whims of those paying me money for my opinion, but I’ll never figure out why some people think pointing out writers and attachments will suddenly impress me. Usually, it just makes me lose a little respect for those involved.
Here’s a little background: over Memorial Day weekend, I was sent a script with no title page and no suggestion of the author’s name. This is not uncommon. I read it, hated it, and shit all over it. Almost immediately, I received an e-mail from my boss at Murdstone & Grinby, Assistant Jim, who snidely pointed out who wrote the script and asked me to include more details if I was going to crap all over such a genius’s script. The writer won one Oscar and received another nomination for writing several years later. In between, he wrote a whole bunch of shitty movies. So, awards and nominations or not, his bad scripts outweigh his good ones, so the fact that this one sucked should shock no one.
June 20, 2009
When I last ranted about awful twist endings, I focused mainly on the “twist for the sake of twisting” problem that plagues so many screenplays — twists that not just come out of nowhere but actively undermine the story and characters. Lately, I’ve come across something infinitely worse: scripts that actively telegraph some of the world’s most misguided Shyamalan twists (more misguided than murderous trees, even).