Monday, May 11, 2009

Lurking Ideas

I may have to reconsider my Star Trek stance, given the overwhelmingly positive pro reviews as well as the opinions of just about everyone I know. I've been wanting a good space adventure, and maybe I can overcome my personal biases enough to distance myself from the original and enjoy the new version. I could make that my reward for a week of good work -- if I'm ahead of my target goal, I can see the early bird show at the neighborhood theater on Friday.

Speaking of work, although it's incredibly painful to know that I've written pages and pages yet am still behind where I started because I've cut even more pages, I think the book has vastly improved, to the point I'm excited about it. It's encouraging to realize how much I've learned about writing in the past couple of years.

Meanwhile, I think I have a new idea lurking around the edges of my consciousness. It's still very vague and consisting almost entirely of imagery. I can only catch a glimpse of it out of the corner of my mind's eye, and if I try to look at it directly, it vanishes. I think it's the same idea that's been lurking for a while. About the only thing concrete in it is a character's dog -- I know what this dog looks like, know its name and habits and quirks. That's the only thing that stays in focus when I try to study this idea. I shall relegate it to my subconscious and see if it's ready to come out to play when I finish the current book.

Because it was a busy work weekend, the only HBO was a movie I watched while reading the newspaper/doing crossword puzzles -- Leatherheads, the movie about the early days of pro football, with George Clooney, John Krasinski and Renee Zellweger. It was a frustrating movie because it had ingredients to be good, but ultimately wasted them all, possibly in a misguided attempt to be edgy or postmodern in a period piece.

Spoiler alert, in case you haven't seen it and are at all interested (though it's the kind of film where you have a pretty good idea how it will end by about the 30-minute mark)
It has the set-up for the classic romantic comedy love triangle, where there's Mr. Safe-but-Wrong and Mr. Risky-but-Right. Usually, Mr. Safe-but-Wrong loses because he takes the easy way out -- this is the guy who will accept the big check from the heroine's father to agree to stay away from her, or who won't give up his external goal for the sake of love. Meanwhile, Mr. Risky-but-Right wins because he is willing to take a risk -- he won't take the easy way out and is willing to put everything on the line in order to do the right thing, even if the right thing is something he previously would have been afraid of or opposed to. But in this movie, Mr. Safe-but-Wrong is the one willing to take the true risk and really do the right thing, yet he loses to the guy who "wins" by lying and cheating and taking the easy way out.

Meanwhile, there's all sorts of moral dilemma material here. Renee the reporter gets a hot tip that John the war hero college football star (and there were some serious math issues here, or else someone wasn't clear on the dates when WWI took place -- someone who put his college football career on hold to fight in WWI and then returned wouldn't still be playing college football in 1925) wasn't really such a war hero, after all. Getting this story will make her career and get her a big promotion. Meanwhile, fading pro football player George thinks that getting John on his team will help save pro football. Renee seems to like John, once she gets to know him, and he definitely likes her. Sparks fly between her and George. You'd expect her to start having qualms about doing the story, since doing so could destroy John's career, and if that happens, it will also destroy George's team. Even worse, John trusts her enough to totally come clean with her about what happened -- his "heroism" was really just a screw-up that had unexpected results. You'd expect this to be a big dilemma for her, but it didn't seem to bother her all that much. It didn't help matters that there was also a buddy movie that kept threatening to break out at any moment, as the best "chemistry" in the film was between John and George, and it was interesting seeing them coming together from opposite perspectives because of the common love of football, but then the film completely undermined that by turning them into adversaries and removing any of the possible loyalty/friendship issues.

I was left with the feeling that George won because he was George Clooney and not because that character deserved anything. If they were going to bother making the "bad guy" nice, then we needed to see some kind of serious change from the "good guy." Instead, I was left feeling like Renee and George kind of deserved each other (and not in a good way), and John was better off without them, and that's not what I'd call a satisfying ending.

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