Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Free Form Comments

Say whatever you want to in the comments to this post -- random, off topic thoughts, ideas, suggestions, questions, recommendations, criticisms (which can be anonymous), surveys, introductions if you have never commented before, personal news, self-promotion, requests to be added to the blog roll and so on. If a week goes by and I have failed to add you to the blog roll TELL ME TO DO IT AGAIN, and KEEP TELLING ME UNTIL IT GETS DONE. I can be lazy about updating the non-post parts of this site. Remember these comments can be directed at all the readers, not just me.

ALSO. You can use this space to re-ask me questions you asked me before that I failed to answer because I was too busy (but now might not be). That is often the reason I fail to get back to people, and on a blog, after a few days, the comments thread dies and I just kind of forget about it. Let's use this space to fix that, because it does need to be fixed; I look like a jackass sometimes, leaving people hanging. I will TRY to respond to any questions here.

AND you can use this space to comment on posts that are old enough that no one is reading the comments threads anymore. For example, if you thought of a great quote for the great quote commonplace book, but now no one is reading that, you could put it here.You do not have to have a blogger account or gmail account to post a comment -- you can write a comment, write your name at the bottom of your comment like an e mail, and then post using the "anonymous" option.

WRITING FOR THIS BLOG. If you think your free form comment here might be better as its own post, but you do not want it to be public yet, email it to me. My email address is available on my blogger profile page. If I think it will work on this site, your post will be published here with your name in the title of the post. You can propose what you will, I am always looking for reviews of games, tv, movies, music and books.

18 comments:

Jason Powell said...

Tell me, Geoff ... did I totally lose you on the "Unbreakable"/"Mystery Men" debate? I felt like you were real keen to argue about it for a while there and then got bored. Was it something I said?

Streebo said...

Ever since, Geoff mentioned Back To The Future as the perfect movie, I've been trying to think of some more scripts that are equally as perfect. So far, I've come up with Unforgiven and the Shawshank Redemption. Special mention also goes to Simon Pegg and Egdar Wright's Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz. All of those scripts are extremely tight. Nothing is wasted.

Jason Powell said...

I haven't seen it, but when I had a conversation with a friend about perfect screenplays (when I plugged "Back to the Future"), he highly recommended the original version of "The Manchurian Candidate." Used a lot of the same language that you just did, Streebo, i.e., "extremely tight," "nothing wasted," etc. He was pretty adamant about it. One of these days I'll have to rent that one.

I still maintain that the first "Pirates of the Caribbean" film's screenplay is very strong, but I think I'm in the minority on that one.

briang said...

There are tons and tons of really great screenplays. I know we're talking more so about economy of script, but any good screenplay should be pretty concise and make sure that every line services the story in some way. I completely agree that Daniel Webb Peoples's script for Unforgiven is quite spectacular. I think Ted Tally's screenplay for Silence of the Lambs, Stephen Gaghan's Traffic, and Anthony Waller's Witness script are all damn near perfect, and I'm not trying to just toss around the word "perfect", but these scripts are all really well constructed.

Also, I just wanted to say that there are some pretty amazing looking movies coming out. The Persepolis trailer is absolutely incredible, I feel like its going to be a very important film in terms of graphic novel adaptations go. The new PT Anderson film There Will Be Blood also looks really great and my friend just told me that George Clooney and Brad Pitt are going to play janitors that steal CIA secrets in the next Coen Bros. movie. Finally, I'm super stoked about Kill Bill-The Whole Bloody Affair, Tarantino has edited the two volumes together (as it was always meant to be) and has garnered an NC-17 rating. I suppose the new rating has a lot to do with The House of Blue Leaves battle being in full, glorious, bloody color. I can't wait!

Scott91777 said...

Hey, Geoff: Didja get that thing I sent, ya? By the way, I'm been re-reading sections of How To Read Supehero Comics and I count it as one of my top 10 favorite works of non-fiction on my Blog... However, you mispelled Neil Gaiman's first name; you referred to him as 'Neal'

Haha! Gotcha!

And would anyone be interested in a Blog that did a close reading of Cerebus, just the good stuff before Dave Sim went crazy? i.e. High Society and Church and State.

I just finished Alan Moore's Complete WildC.A.T.s, anybody else read it want to discuss it?

scott91777 said...

On the topic of perfect movies: Empire Strikes Back Certainly comes to mind, especially for the place that it occupies in the trilogy as a second act but I'd also like to throw Episode III on the table; as far as its pacing goes it is a pefect movie. Sure, it has its share of poor dialogue and performances but, from the point that Obi-Wan and Anakin part ways about an hour into the movie, it flows so perfectly into the end. Everything that has to happen happens and the pacing is just perfect. It's a very economic production of the amount of plot accomplished in a short amount of time. Think about it, in less than 90 minutes we have the death of Mace Windu, Anakin's temptation and turn to the dark side, the fall of the Jedi and the purging of the Jedi temple (I totally want a poster of that scene with a hooded Anakin leading an army of clone troopers up the steps into the temple), the republic's transformation to the Empire, the final confrontation between Anakin and Obi-Wan, Yoda Vs. The Emperor, the birth of the twins, the death of Padme, the seperation of the twins and the birth of Darth Vader. All of that and it manages to never seem forced or bloated. Think about other movies that have had far less plot to deal with yet still seem rushed or pushed to deal with everything like Spider-Man 3 or X3.

Maybe Lucas is a better Screenwriter than we give him credit for?

Also, Superman 3 is way underated...

neilshyminsky said...

scott91777: All of that and it manages to never seem forced or bloated.

Really? I found mostly everything in those films forced and bloated. I couldn't make any sense of Anakin's motivation and found his turn only convincing if we're to believe that his mind is being actively manipulated. And the droids and clones killing so many Jedi? I like that so many Jedi are so much more poorly trained than Obi-Wan was when he was still a padawan in the first film. And now I have to stop because I'll slip into rant mode and never escape...

Voice Of The Eagle said...

Hello all, I finally I have a Blog:

http://quiteunremarkable.blogspot.com/

I've called it "Unremarkable" because after reading Geoff's posts, what I have to say is pretty unremarkable.

Streebo said...

I'll go on a bit about what I think makes a script good. I;m sure Geoff could explain it all better as he teaches courses on film critique and has studied screenwriting as well, but he is silent at the moment so I'll expound a bit. The basic gudieline is that every moment/word/action in a script should reveal either character or plot. If you read so much as one book on scriptwriting, somewhere along the way you will hear mention of the Shotgun Rule. The Shotgun Rule means that if your script has a shotgun over a mantle in act one - then somewhere by the end of the script - that shotgun must be fired. This basically applies to everything in a script - not just shotguns - obviously. :) The analogy I like to use is that a good script should look into a mirror. Basically, everything that shows up in Act One and most of Act Two should be reflected somewhere near the end of Act Two or in the Third Act. That's what I mean by saying nothing is wasted. Everything is tight. Even throwaway lines are reflected somewhere later in the script. The most casual comment should be reflected somehow. Everything is set up - and everything should be paid off. LOST is the perfect example of this. The early seasons were textbook examples of tight scripts without a single wasted moment. I have been enjoying the works of Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg as of late and highly recommend them to anyone on this blog. If you are not familiar with Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, or SPACED, then you owe it to yourself as a fan of pop culture, comedy, and smart scripts to look into them as soon as possible. I recorded almost the entirety of SPACED when it aired on BBC America and will gladly make copies of the DVD-R for anyone that is interested. It is not available on DVD in the States so there aren't many ways to see it as yet. I say that Wright and Pegg's works are near perfect. They avoid perfection in that they have a few too many in-jokes for their fans in each series/movie installment. So if you are unfamiliar with SPACED - then you might miss a couple nods to it in Shaun of the Dead and if you are unfamiliar with Shaun of the Dead, then you might miss a few nods to that in Hot Fuzz. However, the rest of the jokes are so smartly written and tightly interwoven that they are highly enjoyable and entertaining. And if you happen to be familiar with SPACED, Shaun of the Dead, and Hot Fuzz - then each one becomes that much funnier due to your familiarity with some of the allusions. I'll give you one small seemingly throw-away moment from Hot Fuzz that pays off later. The character of Sgt. Angel is trying to convince the local detectives to begin interrogations of the local townspeople in order to investigate a murder. The detectives - along with everyone else refuse to believe it is a murder as the crime scene seems to be accidental in origin. They mock his request by saying, "What do you want us to do? Interrogate everyone in the town? Should we call everyone in the phone book? Want us to start with Aaron A. Aaronson?" This fleeting moment seems like a total throwaway and entirely innocuous - yet at the end of the film, Sgt. Angel runs into Aaron Aaronson. SO everything is set up and everything is paid off. Nothing is set up unless it is paid off. That is how a tight script works. It's hard to create one - but it very fun to appreciate one.

And VoE - I feel pretty unremarkable after reading what Geoff, Neil, Jason, Tim and some others say on this blog as well. But I enjoy getting to hang out and chew gum in the back of the class.

Jason Powell said...

"I feel pretty unremarkable after reading what Geoff, Neil, Jason, Tim and some others say..."

I'm flattered to be put on that list! But hey, Streebo, don't sell yourself short. I always enjoy your comments.

sara d. reiss said...

thank you, my love, for my super cool, super cute hoodie. s'way bette n' ugly zales jewelry, for sure. You got me the best present ever!! I love you!!

sara d. reiss said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Matthew J. Brady said...

I would probably submit a few Coen Brothers films as near-perfect: Miller's Crossing and The Big Lebowski. I don't know if there is a moment or line wasted in either of those; they're so tightly plotted, it's incredible.

Oh, and while I disagree about the greatness of Star Wars episode 3, the rumor is that Tom Stoppard (playwright behind Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, another near-perfect movie/play) contributed to (doctored?) the script. So I wouldn't give Lucal all the screenwriting credit there.

Christian said...

Wright's and Pegg's stuff is just brilliance. My mom is completely in love with Spaced and she's 52. It really has something for everyone.

And I don't think you really needed to see Spaced to enjoy all the jokes in Shaun. Sure, there's the reoccuring "Babe" joke, but that works just as well without any background infomation.

Streebo said...

Thanks for the kind words, Jason. It almost brought a tear to my eye.

Christian - I'm glad to see some more SPACED fans. That show is a slice of pure fried gold.

I found this on the Comic Forums. It's not in the class of the Liefeld Drawings article - but it's still worth a chuckle or two.

Cracked.com's 8 Most Cringe-Worthy Comic Book Movie Moments.

Chad Nevett said...

Geoff--Putting this here so as not to distract from your post on new comics, but was just wondering what your problems with Sorkin were? I checked the archives and could only find four or five posts on Studio 60 (at least with a "Sorkin" tag), a few suggesting you would discuss the problems with the series in more detail. I had various problems with it while it originally aired, but got the complete series on DVD when it came out and found the show worked MUCH better when watched that way.

I think my biggest problem with the show was that there was an incongruence between the premise of the show and the show itself. Studio 60 was about creating a new sketch comedy show every week and where the show began to flounder was when it started to have multiple episodes that took place on the same night/week, which defeated an unconscious expectation of the viewer. Sports Night very rarely had episodes that took place on a single night (the two-part draft episode is the only one I can think of).

And, of course, there was the fact that the sketches we saw weren't particularly funny. And the Matt/Harriet thing was a little... blah (for lack of a better word right now).

So, yeah, just wondering what your overall thoughts are/were.

Geoff Klock said...

WOAH! I get comments emailed to my inbox, but with my new gmail account, they come in conversations. I forget that, and so something I only read the first one and forget others are below. Sorry!

Jason -- I just got busy with grading.

Chad -- this is a longer conversation than I have time for today, but I guess my biggest problems were the fact that Sorkin abandoned the "team" to write love stories between characters (and actors) with no spark, and he assumed we would agree with him that the show within a show -- awful every time we saw it -- was important enough to justify all the seriousness surrounding it. You say this in the second to last line of your comment as if it were a throwaway thing, but what you are talking about is what the show was about. If that does not work, nothing else does.

But mostly I am furious with Sorkin because I love West Wing and Sports Night and the American President and A Few Good Men so much that when everyone told me Studio 60 was bad I did my level best to defend the thing -- and I ended up looking stupid.

Chad Nevett said...

I figured you wouldn't have time right now for anything in-depth, more just raising it for the future.

I didn't mean my comment about the quality of the sketch comedy to be a throwaway really, it's more that its lack of quality is so agreed upon that it doesn't seem to require more than a quick line. I've yet to find ANYONE who thought the show within a show was funny (except for the odd bit). But, you're right--it didn't work, which made the show itself not work.