Sunday, April 11, 2010


Blogging has been minimal the last few weeks because I've been focused on finishing an as-yet unannounced feature project that's very cool and, as with all writing projects, remarkably time-consuming. When I get into hunker-down mode, it's all encompassing. Everybody works differently, but look in the dictionary under "plodder" and there I am... I have to start on page one and just go from there. I've heard of other writers who can ping-pong around a story (and very occasionally, especially on some insane TV deadline, I've done it myself), but for me it's about the A to B to C of it.

One thing I've been struggling with is, well, "logic." As in, real world physics and science and body mechanics versus... not so real world. I loved the Iron Man movie, but I know if I were working on a similar project, I'd be pounding my head trying to justify the "science" of that world. I mean, there is absolutely no reason that Iron Man should be able to fly. The suit is an aerodynamic joke. I'd probably be trying to find some insanely implausible explanation for it, and yet when I saw the movie, I completely accepted that a guy in a cave could monkey-wrench something like that together.

So I spend part of my writing day just trying to get over it. And why not? For cryin' out loud, I spent three years working on Battlestar Galactica, and nobody ever explained the gravity machine that kept everybody glued to the floor in weightless outer space!

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Movie Fun!

Here's a few of the interesting movies I've "enjoyed" the last few weeks (enjoyed in quotes because I'm not sure the word applies to a couple of these epics)...

Like, for instance, The Horseman, an Australian revenge movie that's been getting some attention for its unrelenting tone. Well, there is that! Basically an updated (and infinitely cheaper) version of the George C. Scott movie Hardcore, Horseman follows the single-minded quest of a bereaved father who wants to know how his daughter wound up in a porno movie and then O.D.'ed on heroin. A pest exterminator by day, "Dad" gets pretty wound up when he finds the folks responsible and employs the tools of his trade to cadge out information. Suffice to say this involves fish-hooks, bicycle pumps, propane torches, hammers and other tools applied to some rather delicate areas of the anatomy. It's actually fairly well done, but I'm not sure if that's a compliment or a reason to avoid...

On a completely different note, Criterion's just released a blu-ray of Bigger Than Life, a Nicholas Ray "slice of life" film from 1956 starring James Mason. Mason plays a school teacher who comes down with a not-particularly specific but fatal disease. Fortunately, Doctors have discovered a possible miracle drug ("Cortisone!"). Unfortunately, the Cortisone drives Mason insane... but it's that very peculiar, 1950's version of insane, where the victim doesn't curl up in a ball or eat dirt, but instead remains remarkably cogent and erudite while getting mean and unpredictable. In this case, Mason becomes a harsh taskmaster to his incredibly patient wife and young son. It sounds like I'm making fun of the movie, but it's actually quite compelling and the glorious full color picture is amazing. And having had Cortisone shots myself, I guess I finally have an excuse for my erratic behaviors.

Also recently out on blu-ray is David Lynch's Elephant Man, which hasn't lost any of its power. I like Lynch's later movies, but this early effort is probably his most "traditional" and genuinely emotional. There are some achingly poignant scenes, and one of the best tracking shots ever, pushing in on star Anthony Hopkins the first time he sees the deformed Elephant Man. Just when the camera hits the close-up, a single tear comes down Hopkins' cheek. I imagine this has stuck with me because I attended a lecture by Lynch just after Elephant Man's release where he was asked about this very shot. How did they do it, time the push-in and the tear so well? Lynch's answer? Luck. They just got it. The blu-ray also comes with an informative documentary about the real Elephant Man (there were quite a few dramatic liberties taken for the film), but the pristine black and white presentation is more than enough reason to spring for this edition.