The Wannabe

Apr 16

‘Elf’ Scribe Tapped to Pen ‘Mrs. Doubtfire’ Sequel, Robin Williams on Board | Variety -

So is this going to be some Big Momma’s House 2-type situation?

(Source: popculturebrain)

I’m in New York for the first time right now, and this was my first Broadway show.  And holy shit, did I choose well.  It is incredible.  I may need to give NPH a standing ovation any time I hear his name now.

I’m in New York for the first time right now, and this was my first Broadway show.  And holy shit, did I choose well.  It is incredible.  I may need to give NPH a standing ovation any time I hear his name now.

Apr 15

Writing Update: That Sense of Entitlement

When I was around ten years old, I wanted to make a movie.  This was nothing new: my burgeoning creativity had welcomed many a convoluted story constructed from construction paper and those pages with the fat lines meant to make a child’s handwriting bulky, as though the teachers want surefire evidence that you can’t spell the word “cyclops” right there in big and bold print.  But I had an idea for a story that could only be told with moving images, specifically my collection of action figures puppeting around while my hands remained out of view.  I called it Destroy the Thing!  I know.  Great title.  I set out to writing the script, and I inserted many jokes into it, ones that could not be translated onto the screen.  Bold and italic lettering, parenthetical asides—it was something I took seriously, but I wasted no time in making myself laugh.  Suffice it to say, when my parents took a look at it, they both had the same qualms about its sloppiness, and when they expressed these views to me, I, in true young boy fashion, proceeded to give them the silent treatment for the rest of the day.  They were my parents.  How could they not support me?  Spoiled, spoiled little brat.

There’s a sense of entitlement when it comes to art, in this particular case, writing.  No matter how self aware you try to be with your stories, there’s always going to be someone out there who has something to say that is not necessarily “negative,” but most certainly isn’t “positive.”  And no matter how more experienced they are, no matter how good they know their shit and every bit of criticism they give you is only meant to be on the constructive side, it’s almost easier to get angry at them and cite “they didn’t get it” or “they weren’t paying attention” rather than face the truth yourself: there’s still work to be done.

I entered Consequences into the Slamdance screenwriting competition a few weeks ago.  I’d been on the lookout for a new contest to enter since I failed to place in the one put on by Zoetrope last fall, and Slamdance stuck out to me, mostly because they provided coverage, of which I am a fan.  Let me make that clear: I wanted coverage.  I wanted notes.  I wanted someone, some stranger, somebody who surrounds themselves with film from all corners, to take a look at my script, jot some stuff down and then share it with me.

Yesterday, that coverage arrived.  It has no bearing on how my screenplay will do in the contest, but what I read does not bode well for my chances.  It’s never a good omen when they list the genre as “drama,” when it’s a frickin’ comedy, albeit a black comedy, and I submitted as such, but whatever.  The notes: “Lack of real focus” and “no real active protagonist” were the notes that hit me in the face the hardest, probably because they’re the ones I disagree with the most.  Don’t get me wrong, there were definitely many items that were good points, but because the overall tone of the coverage was “it’s good, but not great,” my initial instinct is to vilify whichever jackass wrote this as they completely missed the point of the entire story and blah blah blah vanity vanity vanity.

I’m a perfectionist.  I know there is no such thing as “perfect,” but I need things to be perfect anyway, especially my writing.  I finally got Consequences to a place where I couldn’t see any smudges, anything that needed to be changed, rearranged, or exorcised completely.  But the fact of the matter is that there are things that could be fixed.  Granted, this is all coming from the opinion of one faceless person, and other faceless people are bound to have their own takes, possibly similar, possibly drastically different.  But besides my friends, with whom I can discuss my stories face to face(book?), I have yet to come across someone who really gets what Consequences is about, and instead of taking a step back and examining the flaws within myself, I blame them for the imperfection they’ve suddenly thrust into my arms, become bitter, and then predictably fall into a stupor of self-pity and questions over whether or not I’m actually a good writer.

I know I am.  But there’s always a fear of delusion, that American Idol­-esque misunderstanding where the bad singer has been told by everyone close to them that they are great, so to hear a lambasting from three professionals is more than jarring.  Because it just can’t be true.  It can’t!  Artists are constantly seeking approval.  They need to be validated time and time again that they are good.  But it’s just not true for everyone.  And no matter how much you tell yourself that you’re not one of those people who are just flat out wrong, there’s a good chance that you are.  There’s a good chance that I am.  At least, I’m not made out for the film industry.  And that just fills my stomach with bile and pine needles, a stew of dread.

So, where to go from here?  Keep writing, obviously; I’ll never stop.  But contests may not be the way to go.  I may need to start actually putting my material out there, more out there, not just within the offices of some film festival organization, but to you, the viewing public, who are starving for anything that will take your minds of the world for a few minutes.  I’ve been fortunate enough to meet a big group of talent during the improv classes I’ve been taking the last year, and there’s always been talk about creating some kind of internet video presence.  Maybe it’s about time we actually do something.  Chances are it will be the greatest thing ever created.

Right?

Apr 14

[video]

Apr 11

[video]

While Johansson’s first Marvel appearance in Iron Man 2 may have relied somewhat upon sex appeal, this was quickly nixed in favor of characterizing her as the most cerebral Avenger. Her most important scenes in The Avengers relied upon her intelligence and skills as a spy, to the extent that she even managed to outwit Loki, the God of Lies. At the end of the movie, she’s the one who closes the portal that let all the aliens into New York. Then in Winter Soldier she’s given second billing to Captain America, a meaty role that showcases a wide-ranging skillset that stretches far beyond just “kicking ass.” At no point during any of these movies does she seduce anyone, by the way.

Sadly, there’s very little sign of this character in the most easily accessible reviews of both The Avengers and Winter Soldier. Judging by the Guardian, WSJ, or New Yorker, Black Widow is more like a blow-up doll with a black belt. By their logic, if she’s wearing a tight outfit, then she must be a sexy ass-kicker, meaning that she must be the token female character, and therefore is little more than eye candy.

With that thought process in mind, it must make perfect sense to relegate Black Widow to a single sniggering comment about her catsuit, because obviously Scarlett Johansson is just there for decoration. And if you’ve read in the New York Times that Black Widow is a token female character, then chances are you’ll have internalized that opinion before you even buy a ticket. The feedback loop of misogynist preconceptions continues on, and in the end, we all lose out.

” —

Gavia Baker-Whitelaw, Every review of Black Widow in ‘Captain America’ is wrong (via fyeahmcublackwidow)

I still remember after The Avengers came out and a kid at work was saying Black Widow was useless. His rationale was that she didn’t have any powers and was only good for punching and kicking people, whereas the Hulk punched and kicked people and was therefore awesome. It’s the closest I’ve come to kicking a customer out with a flurry of screams, even if he was just an adolescent brat.

Scarlett Johansson and Black Widow are an essential part of the MCU. End of story.

(Source: bewaretheides315, via stayforthecredits)

Apr 09

[video]

The Truman Show is Headed to Television - ComingSoon.net -

I often get annoyed at news like this. I’ll have complaints that I often try to spice up with humor and whatnot. It’s all fine and good and fun, and has given me much fuel for this here blog of mine, but the frustration I express is usually just from a passion for storytelling and is gone just as fast as it started.

This, though…I am livid. I am absolutely, 100%, off-the-walls furious about this. The Truman Show was my favorite movie for three or four years, and I still count it within my Top 20. It was also ahead of its time, predicting the obsession with reality TV nobodies and society’s addiction to the lives of others in order to ignore their own. It was genius. And now they are going to turn it into a TV show. Call it a satire, but now that reality TV has become such a mainstay, it doesn’t feel like it has enough relevance to give it another go. Plus, DON’T TOUCH IT IT’S PERFECT YOU BASTARDS.

It could be good. I will acknowledge that. Fargo looks fantastic, so it can be done, turning a beloved 90s movie that garnered much awards attention and is now considered a classic of its age into a television program. But now, in this moment, I feel like punching a wall. Let this go no further than the development state. Please.

Apr 06

My Take on Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Captain America is dull.  He’s a boy scout.  He doesn’t compromise.  He always does the right thing.  He’s good.  Obviously, these are traits you want to look for in a superhero—they’re supposed to be heroic, right?  But in terms of character, all this adds up to something incredibly bland, incredibly vanilla.  His fellow Avengers have all the attributes of absorbing folk—arrogance, self-loathing, anger issues, haunting pasts—but Steve Rogers is set above them all in terms of valor.  He’s trusting in the system and fights the good fight.  It’s just plain not interesting.

What Captain America: The Winter Soldier does is flip all of that on its head.  In more ways than one, no less: not only does it give depth and dimension to Cap’s red, white, and blue/black and white ways and cause him to question whether or not that fight he’s fighting is good at all, but it also changes the course for the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe in ways I did not see coming.  Those two changes kept my interest, and they make this one of the smarter action movies I’ve seen in recent years.

Directors Anthony and Joe Russo are new to the genre, after years of helming comedies, both big screen and small.  This is apparent in the way they shoot fight sequences and car chases: the editing and camera work, not to mention the whole choreography of the action, right down to the snippy one-liner interludes, seem to borrow heavily from films of action’s past.  It would be easy to label them as unoriginal copycats, but there’s a Tarantino-esque vigor to their direction, which is to say they’ve watched enough movies to know how it’s done and have crafted a loving tribute, one that should have the audience guffawing over the ridiculousness of it all rather than rolling their eyes.

This isn’t just an action movie, though.  It’s a throwback to those Cold War-inspired, paranoia-laden thrillers of the 70s, when people were definitely paranoia-laden and wanted to get their minds off of the idea of sleeper agents and the threat of nuclear destruction…by going to see movies about sleeper agents and the threat of nuclear destruction?  Whatever.  Here, the conflict meshes perfectly with those films; it just happens to have a boring comic book hero at the forefront.  But like I said, the movie messes with Cap’s head and removes most of the boring bones in his body.

Now, it’s hard for me to discuss this film any further without getting into a little spoiler territory.  I’m not going to blow the big surprises, but I am going to reveal one key bit of information in order to get my point across.  I believe it’s safe to do so because Marvel hasn’t really kept it a secret, and the answer’s right there in the comic books anyway, but there are some people who don’t know (the two friends with whom I saw the movie, for one…for two?  Grammar…), so I’ll put a big ol’ fat SPOILER WARNING up and say skip to the second-to-last paragraph if you want to be surprised on all fronts.

So…Captain America is sad.  All his friends are dead, his best girl is old and has Alzheimer’s, and he’s become such a workaholic due to what he believes is his duty.  He seems to have sacrificed any and all happiness.  It’s all there in Chris Evans’ portrayal: part of the reason Cap seems so bland is because he doesn’t seem to have any attachments and seems invulnerable, but what Evans does to him is hide the weakness he does have behind his eyes.  He’s never been the strongest actor in the Marvel bunch, but I really paid attention to his line-delivery and facial tics and began to notice a lot more of the subtext.  Color me impressed.  Somewhat, anyway.

In any case, Cap is lonely.  The closest person he has to a friend is Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), who continuously tries to set him up with somebody, but Steve never takes her up on that and seems to not fully trust her in the first place.  Not surprising, when you consider he’s surrounded himself with government spies who always seem to be withholding a million things at once, his boss and father figure Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) the biggest culprit of them all.

So when the Winter Soldier appears and he turns out to be a resurrected Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan), Steve’s old Brooklyn buddy and wartime sidekick, his whole world is turned upside down.  His best friend in the world is impossibly still alive, and he’s working for the bad guys?  How can he possibly stop him after the years and years of brotherhood between them?  The answer lies in Cap letting down his patriotic super soldier guard and letting some people in, trusting them, making them friends.  He partners up with Sam Wilson (a wonderfully confident Anthony Mackie), and begins to start trusting Black Widow and Fury, forgiving them for any past transgressions.  He can’t do it all by himself.  What this film is really about, behind all the superhero gobbledygook and conspiracy theory twists and turns is Steve Rogers starting to reclaim the humanity he seemingly left behind when that serum began to swim through his bloodstream, rebuilding, becoming a real person again.

Still, this could all be considered looking too deep into a shallow puddle.  This is a movie meant to entertain by blowing shit up and letting legendary actors cut their teeth on a silly genre indeed (Robert Redford is quite good, by the way, but that doesn’t need to be said).  It’s not meant to be too insightful or perfect.  In fact, structurally, it’s incredibly flawed.  It runs too long, and all the subtexual BS I just talked about has to take a back seat to the political thriller wheelings and dealings.  For crying out loud, the Winter Soldier isn’t really that important to the overall story, and his identity isn’t even revealed until more than halfway through the film.  But he is important to the theme of the film, and I’m choosing to focus on that.

What Captain America: The Winter Soldier does to the MCU is going to reverberate throughout the entire series.  It’s a step forward for Marvel, and a step forward for Captain America and his future cinematic adventures.  Whatever the future holds for this ambitious project Marvel has taken on, it’s definitely not going to be dull.  Rather, it’s incredibly exciting.

Rating: Three stars

Apr 03

Now There’s A Petition To ‘Rewrite And Reshoot’ The ‘How I Met Your Mother’ Ending | Uproxx -

Stop.  Just stop.  It’s over.  Done.  Get over it.

(Source: popculturebrain)