Happy Futurama day, meatbags! Today, November 27th, marks the release of the first new adventure for Fry, Leela, Bender, Hermes, the Professor, Scruffy and the lovable Dr. Zoidberg in OVER 4 years, 3 months and 17 days! That’s 224 weeks– 37,680 hours– 2,260,800 minutes– 135,648,000 seconds even! Much, much too long for something with as much heart-warming brilliance as Futurama. I can easily remember the frustration of trying to loyally watch each new broadcast episode on Sundays only to face repeated NFL overtimes and poor, lazy Fox scheduling bumps. Who’s laughing now, bastards?! Bwahaha! Well, okay, I’m sure the DVD distribution depts are probably drooling since I really expect Bender’s Big Score to do well, but let the weasels have their money, I’m just happy to have more of what one of the finest works of modern American animation. Matt Groening, Ken Keeler and David X. Cohen– you’re truly princes among men.
Speaking of the esteemed Mr. G, here he is pounding the pavement with fellow scribes. I mentioned that I might eventually blog about the strike, but I don’t have anything relevant to add that hasn’t been said elsewhere. With this week marking the first full month since pencils down I thought that today I’d pass along a few links that cover most of the recent developments. If you’re a stickler for details there’s a good look at the numbers up at the Huffington Post that breaks down all the points, percents and payments. Variety reports that talks resumed on Monday and the early hubbub sounds hopeful. Everyone’s gotta be excited that things could possibly be worked out by the Hols, so here’s to hoping.
The last thing I wanted to mention today was some common sense about antagonists… Mike Werb reiterates one of the most important rules regarding villians- make them fascinating. Seriously, please.
Sadly, being the consumer of culture I am, I often have a hard time fully throwing myself into a movie. This is something that’s bothered me a bit over the last year, as a lot of the bigger fair has left me less than jazzed. Today however I’m happy to say that some big flicks can still kick my brain out of gear and buzz my reactionary instinctive parts in awesome and elemental ways– indeed, the heart of why I fucking love me some movies.
The flick that’s done this is Zemeckis’ Imax BEOWULF. As if I didn’t already think Mr. Z was the man, Beowulf is best described as 18 different kinds of simultaneous awesome. Now I know some may have traumatic Olde English experiences linked directly to this particular required reading (by the third translation and a really excited college prof I’d decided I really liked it so maybe I’m skewed) but forget all that and do yourself a favor and catch this movie. I’m not going to go into much detail (for that I suggest Scott’s review at Cinematical) but the movie is just pulp-hero, epic action with some breathtaking animation. Hell, I’ll even say some fun acting and cool costumes– and I know, there aren’t really any costumes, wtf?! I’ll pass on something that I continue to hear and recommend that if you can, see the IMAX version, because it really is tailored in a way that no other Imax flick I’ve caught before has quite been able to compare to. Zemeckis has set the mark as far as I’m concerned and I hope some folks (I’m looking at you, Pixar) take note and go further.
On another note, Pooks has tagged me with a music meme from Brett of all things, and because, like everything else, I love me some music I’m obliged to respond. (That sentence totally needs more commas) Details:
So here is your assignment for today, dear readers. Find a song that inspires you to write something, whether it gives you an idea for a script or just puts you into a better frame of mind. AND/OR (don’t you love choices) peek into the lyrics and find a stanza that sums up the theme of whatever script you’re working on. It’s quite uncanny how the two circumstances go together.
If possible, post a video of the song to really get people into the mood. (Yep, I’m aware of the irony of using Internet clips during the pissing contest. I like irony as much as bitchiness.)
Then, send the assignment (by e-mail or posting to one of their blog entries) to 5 other writers to do.
Music is a necessity for me and I would say that I put a lot of thought into listening. As far as writing goes it depends on what the situation calls for as lots of songs get me pumped in many different ways. I will do ’soundtracks’, but more often I’ll mentally categorize albums, tracks or artists by character as much as anything else. Whether it’s something I actually think the character will listen to, it expresses the crux of moment between characters, or just has the feel/tone to get me into a character’s head when staring at a blank page, music lubricates my processes. (Not exclusively mind you, the brain is a complex machine dontchaknow!) With that in mind I’m going to share a few tracks and how they fit some character tucked away in the scary recesses of my mind…
Character: Mort Brown from The Mysterium Obscurum of Gallows Gulch
Artist: Okkervil River
Reasoning: Since MOGG is one of the things I’m working on right now and I recently got into these guys with the album The Stage Names and as they’re from Austin while Mort’s script is set in TX– not that there’s much overtly country-western going on with either Mort or OR. I would definitely say there’s slight brooding vibe that the character and the band have in common in my mind. Also both keep changing up on me at any given moment. Really Mort-vibing tracks: Plus Ones, John Allen Smith Sails
Character: Edison Wiley from Nickel & Dime
Artist/Track: Doves - Pounding
Reasoning: Well, I like the Doves and this song is a bit of tribute to the mental state and motivation underlying my protag in Nickel & Dime. While I want a lot of this script to be exaggeration, action and heisty goodness I think the meat of the story is Edison & Max and I can’t help but associate this energetic and comfortably repetitious cacophony with Max & Ed’s ups and downs from the opening words:
I can’t stand by
And see you destroyed
I can’t be here
And watch you burn up
Lie for the moment
And lie as a decoy
So does it matter
If I give in easy?
Is it so hard to get by?
This is a track I come back to ever few weeks or so and oddly enough N&D may end up being the script I never fucking finish as I think I’m officially taking another pass at. WTF man, every time I put it down and start something else something pops into my head to improve. Stupid malfunctioning attention span.
Will add some tags in the morning.
You know it’s odd, for someone who likes to talk as much as I do, you would think I could update my blog a little more. I suspect the problem is that I have too much to say, because if I didn’t try and limit myself to a few single topics when posting lest the blog would appear to be pretty schizophrenic. Which, in looking back at the last 10 posts or so, it still manages to be. I do try and keep posts more to the media/culture/movies crap that rattles around in my head, but I often get distracted when typing these things up so there’s no telli–
FUCK YES, for more Robert DeNiro! I don’t know what it is, but since the beginning of summer 2007 I’ve distinctly coveted regular exposure to the Almighty Bob. I mean I have plenty of the hefty DeNiro on the shelf, but it was somehow not enough. I didn’t care about plot, or the rotten factor- I just needed to see DeNiro doing his thing. This was 80% of the reason I went to see STARDUST and subsequently 90% of why I’ll probably buy it at some point. (Because that shit was absolutely hilarious, also hawt.) So this morning when I found the trailer for Righteous Kill it kicked that compulsive watch-DeNiro vibe up a notch. At any rate it’s Pacino + DeNiro so I can’t imagine anyone not wanting to catch this flick. Check out the Trailer at /film.
Elsewhere in the world the WGA has gone on strike. This concerns me much in the same way that David Bowie’s shenanigans tend to be a concern for the Monarch. Which is to say, vague and perhaps entirely fictional. All the same I may have some future comments as things drag on. Right now if you’re interested there’s plenty of blog & news action going on so if you don’t understand ths situation completely I suggest you google that shit.
私は日本語を今学んでいるが、それは全別のレベルの精神異常である。 == watashi ha nihongo wo ima manan deiruga , soreha zen betsuno reberu no seishin ijou dearu . == I leaf Japanese language wo living room manan deiruga, soreha before betsuno level of vibration control malfunction to be.
The above was supposed to be more along the lines of ‘I’m learning Japanese now, but that’s insanity on a whole different level,’ but because I fail, we’ll just go with ‘Nihongo ga sukoshi wakaremasu, demo mata jozhou ja arimasen.’ Although something about ‘vibration control malfunction’ seems much more appropriate.
…from all my worries? Well, maybe not, but it’s a nice thought. Bit busy with work, spending a lot of time on the road, so updates will be few and far between for a while.
If you missed it, and I wouldn’t blame you if you did, Shia LaBeouf announced the name of the new Indy film last night at some MTV event or another. Officially dubbed: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull which isn’t horrible, but does push the edge of wordy without being exceptionally exciting. What gives about the KotCS, anyway?
Well, if you didn’t catch the episode of In Search Of… OR the rather entertaining Stargate SG:1 episode that exploited the crystal skull concept, the gist is there are about a dozen of these ancient crystal skulls that may be linked to the Aztecs and/or aliens that have some sort of magic power and/or supernatural communication abilities. It would suggest that maybe the maguffin is the magical crystal skulls of South & Latin Americas, belonging to some mysterious Kingdom which may be a City of Gods, who may/may not be aliens. You’ve got to admit that’s a heck of a lot for five words to suggest.
Tone-wise there’s a slight Temple of Doom-ness to it, even Infernal Machine with the possibility of multiple artifacts being keys to something larger and possibly sinister since the Aztecs invoke more Pagan than Christian themes. (Neither a pro or a con IMO, since I like Temple of Doom just fine, thankyewveddymuch.) The alien vibe– something that’s been around since the ‘Saucer Men’ script– is an angle that always appealed to me and comes hand-in-hand with the mysterious skulls. Throw in all the Area 51 buzz and I feel justified at making the connection. Look to type of previous Indy adventures and you can even pull Nazis out of the title, since South America post-WWII is pretty much equivalent with escaped Nazis, so lets get one more dig in on those bastards while we’re at it.
So KotCS definitely sounds interesting and bursting with potential, but for all that’s there, it doesn’t quite feel like the penultimate Indiana Jones adventure to me. This may be because I liked the SG1 episode and so there’s a hint of been-there-done-that tarnish, but it sure won’t keep me out of the theater. What does tickle me about it– aside from the awesomeness that is Karen Allen being back– is that Spielberg/Lucas may go all out and our hero, the erstwhile Indiana Jones- student of the entire course of human events, boy scout, and smart mouth- may end up in space or talking to aliens and completely out of his depth. And that sounds like a helluva lot of fun.
But that name. It’s just not quite right… Not the wordiness and I like the acronymity of it- KotCS… But that ‘Kingdom’ bit needs a qualifier… something to invoke the peril, the danger, the momentum. How about:
Indiana Jones and the Lost Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
So I need some more RAM for my computer. I’ve never been really gung-ho on must-have the top of the line PC components, but I like to have a system that can handle what I’m deciding I’m obsessed with at any given moment. Late in the year it seems I start to get interesting in playing PC games more than anything else, which may have something to do with the way marketing and game companies gear up for the Hols. I can think of a few X-mas/Birthdays (it’s generally the same event at my house) where I’ve burnt days killing Nazis or demons or Nazi-demon-vampire-piggies.
This year things are spinning up a little earlier than December. I was way into Elder Scrolls: Oblivion in March and that’s been it for most of the year, but with Bioshock now released and the upcoming Hellgate: London on Oct 31st, I feel the pull to play and the measly 512 MB ain’t gonna cut it.
Bioshock particularly looks interesting since it’s got an underwater, Jazz Age, steampunk thing going on. I really wish people would stop exploiting the Steampunk genre because, well, I love the genre and the Braxton Frame script I’m prepping for work after finishing M/O of Gallows Gulch is going to take a stab at it. So slowing down the whole steampunk fad would help save the territory for me. Doesn’t help that BoingBoing is linking all things steampunk like the shit is going out of style or something.
Anyway, Bioshock is also unique because it’s catching press for something I’ve long thought was a logical progression- screenwriters associated with full-fledged game design & production. (God help me, I’m about to link to FoxNews) There’s a story about how Bioshock is becoming a bit of a surprise hit- which honestly makes no sense and would only be a surprise to anyone who doesn’t play games. It’s a conglomeration of a lot of geek-friendly mythos & action while invoking the supremely popular System Shock 2, how could it not be a hit? Back to the article- it features a note about so-called failed Screenwriter Ken Levine who conceived the story for the game. Or it infers that Ken calls himself a failed screenwriter- but jeez, Ken with games like System Shock 2, Thief, and Freedom Force (all of which I own) under your belt, failure is hardly the proper adjective.
I’ve always thought that the plot and story development in gaming has an amazing built-in parallel to screenwriting & filmmaking. My favorite games have big, meaty narratives, strong characterization and stories that call forth the best elements in genre fiction/films and it’s the immersion in these that keeps pulling me back to the computer or the console. But go back, way back and look at the SciFi and Fantasy roots in tabletops and examine the evolution of those. Role-playing is an extension of theater. Hell, the evolution of chess and checkers to Monopoly to D&D and then the evolution of pc/console gaming- the explosion of budgets and increase in production values, turn-around times- all very distinctly invokes the evolution of the film industry to me. It’s all immersive entertainment and it makes sense that things would draw together.
Which results in things like Samuel L. Jackson and Ray Liotta doing voice-work for Rockstar’s newest title instead of twenty lines of dialogue for the paper-doll happy-meal game to go along with the huge movie & toy-line release. Bioshock features more than a few Law & Order and Star Trek alums in the voice cast as well as some VAs from JLU, The Venture Bros, Grim & Evil and many other games. And it’s all really cool because it can only mean better games as the media continues to evolve and the storytelling improves. Ideally might turn around and have an effect on the quality of the movies, though I suspect the blending has a long way to go before that’s immediately apparent. But it’s a nice thought.
Congrats on the safe landing and welcome back!
Official Landing Times
Main gear touchdown:
12:32:16 p.m. EDT
Nose gear touchdown:
12:32:29 p.m. EDT
12:33:20 p.m. EDT
Okay, so I did read the Harry Potter. It was pretty good. Today I’m practicing understatement.
Last week Cory sent me a link to a rap video that expresses an unusual sentiment-
for Cory at least, since he may in fact be illiterate, that people should make and effort to read books among other things. A few explicit lyrics so check your speakers if at work:
Something I can totally get behind. Plus I’m all for tasteless booty shakin’. Animated booty even more so.
I’ve found myself in an interesting situation lately as I’m working on three different stories at the same time after having worked on one story, N&D, almost exclusively for a very long time. So I’m juggling a lot more than I’ve been used to and trying to develop these three stories and characters whereas with N&D I knew the characters and most of my time and effort was dedicated in just getting the script to highlight the greatest aspects of the characters.
Cause I’ll say it again, story is character.
So with N&D I was honestly in mad obsessive love with my characters. They are as complete and as fully realized and as anything I’ve ever done and that’s one of the reasons I consider N&D to be my first, real, successful script. (Never mind the half dozen I’ve written previous). The story in N&D is very much about Max and Edison and the dynamics between the two while crazy things are going on around them and that was ALWAYS the heart of the script throughout every version. I know Max and Ed and I love Max and Ed. I can hear their voices. I can have conversations with them, hell I got silly at one point and ‘interviewed’ them about what happens after my script so I could get a handle on what needed to be in the script, you know? At any given moment, I can know what they’re arguing about, because have no doubt, they will be arguing unless otherwise engaged… And yet, they never fail to surprise me. Maybe this is schizophrenia, but they are honestly complete personalities enclosed in my head. And god, I love it! Screenwriting = Madness.
But for all the excitement and all the ideas for that I have for Max and Ed I know it’s necessary to move on. Which is where I’m a little snagged- in one of the things I’m working on now I have a protag who I realized this weekend, that I don’t especially like. Which is weird because I made the guy, right? I started him out with some of my favorite attributes and gave him some clever dialogue and defining moments. He is very different from Max and Ed and thus it’s a different kind of story. I’ve worked for a while at giving him a good solid arc and throwing him into quicksand, giving him depth- but his voice isn’t anywhere near as clear as Max and Ed were for me and that’s hurting dialogue, character dynamics, motivation, fucking everything. Realizing that I could take or leave him makes me feel like a bad parent. I can’t write a script about a character who I’m so lukewarm about- rather, I COULD, but I’m not going to. He is the bastard step-child in my mind, angry that I almost inevitably end up thinking- ‘You are not as cool as Max and Ed.’ He sulks a lot. He’s a loner. None of which lend him to being a very likable protagonist- or hasn’t yet. There is something missing in him that he’s not too eager to share with me and it’s fucking up my script, which is in turn pissing me off. He’s got to carry this script after all! If he doesn’t cut it out he’s going back to the bottom of the work pile cause the gal and company in the other new script are being just a tad more accessible and have room for more potential awesome likability.
And threatening him just isn’t getting me anywhere cause the bastard thinks he’s Holden Caufield and doesn’t give a flying fuck about me finishing my script.
I’ve never thought of myself as hard to please. Discerning, sure, but there are plenty of films, books and television that I enjoy without congealing into brilliant mind-bending plots with deep, dynamic characters. So I thought that the mindless action that Die Hard 4 and Transformers promised would be right up my alley.
And as much as I was looking forward to them both I just ended up bored and annoyed. What’s bothering me is that more than a few people seem to be able to enjoy these and I just don’t get it. I swear I’m not hard to please! I may hype myself up a little too often, but dammit I like mindless action! Here’s a list for you:
The Long Kiss Goodnight
Deep Blue Sea
3000 Miles to Graceland
Tango & Cash
Lethal Weapon 4
League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
I consider these to be fairly typical mindless action flicks where plot, continuity and development end up sacrificed for spectacle- everything I expect from MAFs. I like all of these films, own about half of them and can quote cliché dialogue at length from more of them than I should admit. In the canon of MAFs these aren’t even the all-stars but I specifically picked these because they all score between a 5.0-6.5 user rating on the Internet Movie Database, with one exception. One scores a 7.1- Any guesses? It actually sort of surprised me. But pretend IMDB isn’t horribly skewed and say 5.0s are pretty average. SHOULDN’T I find more than a chuckle or two in Live Free or Die Hard - an 8.2!!!! Or Transformers - an 8.4?!
What the ever-loving-fuck?! Part of me insists that I embrace the popcorn flick as much as anyone else. I SHOULD be able to enjoy them. But I see a distinct void between these movies and Transformers (Die Hard 4 to a lesser extent) and I’m annoyed about it. Transformers was damn near incoherent. Just not fair.