I started thinking about movies…both the good and the bad. More importantly, I started thinking about the greats that stand the test of time, and their contrast with, well, the rest of the shit.
Okay, okay…so I’m grumpy and ranting at the moment, but have you really looked at the formulaic crap the current studios and directors and actors are trying to pawn off on us? If they think I’m going to waste my Netflix subscription — let alone the $567,834 a trip to a movie theater costs — on “Boss Baby” or a remake of “Jumanji” or **shudder** “I, Tonya”…
Oh, for God’s sake, just how low can we sink?
Where the hell are the real writers and directors?*
*Before you ask, I know essentially nothing about writing screenplays. I’m a prose guy — my only interactions with scripts came in various high school and college acting classes.
I mean, c’mon…when even STAR WARS fails, when even those “remakes” are so bad as to make the damned prequels look like outstanding cinema, we’ve reached peak-stupid.
This all got started when I watched an Andrei Tarkovsky movie the other day (Ivan’s Childhood). Shit howdy, what a difference. Maybe it’s because I’m writing “dark” in the current stories, but I have a real thing for Russian writers and directors at the moment…
The thing is, that movie got me going. It started a movie jag — a GOOD movie jag: Casablanca, The Shining, Unforgiven, The Godfather (I & II), Fargo, Bridge on the River Kwai, Dr. Strangelove, Empire of the Sun…and the gut-punch at the end of the (multi-day) marathon, one of my all-time favorites, Au Revoir Les Enfants.
Shit…how do you go watch The Commuter after that?!
I’ve said it before, but I want to stress again this point: stories are stories, no matter the medium. You can — and should — learn from all forms of storytelling. And movies — good movies — have a great deal to teach about storytelling. Go watch the movies I list above, and pay attention to how they develop the themes, and the characters…pay attention to how they communicate, and how they elicit emotion and thought.
And don’t stop there. Go watch a bunch of Kurosawa films, then change things up with some Mel Brooks. Watch the classics (African Queen is another great Bogart movie), then dive in to some foreign stuff. Watch the indies and the low-budget, then change things up with some anime (Akira still stands the test of time).
Watch to enjoy, yes, but also watch to learn. How Spielberg tells Jim’s story in Empire of the Sun is a freaking masterclass, and when you follow that up with Eastwood’s handling of Unforgiven…well…if you can’t learn something from those, I don’t know what to tell you.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I can hear Terry Gilliam’s Brazil calling my name…