Posts in: June, 2009

The A.V. Club on Woody Allen

I don’t usually write long, ranty responses to articles unrelated to Juno, but I read one yesterday that really stuck in my craw. This will possibly sound obnoxious, whiny, and defensive, but deal with it—this article offended me deeply, on a personal level. (Note: I’ve included the article link, but feel free to not waste your time reading it, since I plan to quote from it extensively and respond to each of their “points.”)

Longtime readers know of my deep and abiding love for Woody Allen. Despite the oddly inconsistent quality of his movies over the past, let’s say, 20 years, his body of work from 1969-1989 more than makes up for a few dark spots. Even now, he still occasionally makes great movies; mostly, they range from “decent” (Small Time Crooks) to “unwatachable” (Scoop). So, defensive though I may be, I’m not blind to the man’s flaws (both personally and artistically). Keep that in mind if what I write after this sounds insufferable.

I guess I feel compelled to respond because it’s hard enough to get people of my generation to watch Woody Allen movies without a complete hatchet job of an article discouraging them from ever taking the plunge. Typically, I enjoy A.V. Club’s reviews and articles, but this is just a flaming turd.

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Comedy Bronze

Hey, remember The Webmaster? Good, because I…basically forgot about him. Per that last entry, we left off with me deciding I’d wait a week before asking him to remove all my content, plus my login/password, and then I’d post them all here. That was on May 2nd, and I haven’t posted any of that stuff here. Why? I…basically forgot. That, I guess, illustrates how much that crappy film-review site means to me in the here and now.

Thankfully, my friend Mark decided to jog my memory by e-mailing me a Craigslist posting featuring the following hi-larious “job posting,” written by The Webmaster:

[Website name redacted] is looking for interns to review films and TV shows on DVD then write reviews. There also exists opportunities to attend press screenings and perform interviews with filmmakers and celebrities via telephone or one-on-one.

This is part-time work which typically only takes up roughly three to four hours of your time per project.

This is a non-paying internship.

Anyone who tells you they can make money off the web is either lying to you or does not understand how the web works. Only a handful of sites make any real money. We have been in business online for 13 years and have yet to make a profit. We do this because we love what we do, and you should, too.

If you’re interested, send writing sample and level of interest. Be honest; if you cannot meet deadlines then you probably should not try this – deadlines are a part of any writing job.

Bitter? Nah…

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Out of the Moment

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.)

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Bad Twist 2: Twist Badder

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).

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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.

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A Movie for Cat Ladies

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.

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The Fake Fiancé 3: Not Fake But an Incredibly Confusing Simulation

Check out the first two volumes in this epic trilogy.

Immediately after intensifying my investigation, I hit a roadblock in the form of Kelly. We started to talk, to bond, and it seemed like old times—what remained suspiciously absent was talk of the fiance, wedding plans, living arrangements, etc. She limited herself to either old stories about high school or new stories about teaching high school. As usual, whenever I steered the conversation in a wedding-related direction, she changed the subject. I tried to rationalize—maybe she didn’t want to bring it up because the plans weren’t to her satisfaction, or maybe she knew I was trying to score an invite but knew she couldn’t—but it looked grim.

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Online Dating

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.

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The Paper Man Rides On

Title: The Paper Man Rides On

Genre: Comedy

Draft: Third

Length: 112 pages

Logline: A high school student, struggling with confidence in himself, finds a mentor in an aged Paper Man, Chosen One of an ancient order of newspaper deliverymen. As the Paper Man trains his pupil in the art of delivery, he faces threats from a renegade band of unsanctioned paperboys—threats that may destroy the world.


First Draft—7/2/00

Second Draft—7/14/06

Third Draft—6/6/09

Click the image to download the complete screenplay for just $2.99.

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The past month should have been agonizing, but frankly, both of my shitty jobs kept me too busy for me to stay in suspense about my imminent career launch. Also, I made a conscious effort not to think of it, on account of knowing (a) I did not submit my absolute best work, and (b) I could generously estimate the chances of success at one in a million. At the end of the day, I have no qualifications other than scripts, and scripts aren’t enough.

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