Monday, August 16, 2010

Monday Movies

I got another 5,000 words written on Friday, so I'm about halfway to the point I want to be when I send the proposal to my agent. I think today I'm going to devote some time to fixing the part I've already written. A lot of that involves world-building stuff that I'll need to know going forward. I think I'll also be deleting some of what I wrote Friday because I was doing some meandering -- hashing things out on the page as a way of getting them straight in my head. Now that I have things figured out, I don't need all of it in the book. One thing involves my main character making a big decision and then trying to justify that decision to herself. I think I spent way too much on the doubts and justification, so I can condense it. I could get the partial manuscript and maybe even a synopsis written this week, and then I can get to work on fine-tuning it. Oh, and I need a title, as usual.

I haven't been watching as many movies since I've moved from doing research and brainstorming to writing, but I do have some catching up to do in talking about movies. Like, did I ever mention that I saw Inception a couple of weeks ago? Very mind-blowing. I love all those twists and turns and playing with the distinctions between dreams and reality, plus the multiple layers of dreams. The dream imagery was very much like a lot of what happens in my dreams. I'd love to figure out how to do that kind of thing in a book, but it's a lot more complicated without the visual cues.

Last weekend I watched the sequel to Night at the Museum on HBO, and I was surprised by how much I liked it. The first one was vaguely entertaining, but I'm not a fan of Ben Stiller, so it was mostly about spotting all the guest stars among the museum exhibits. This one was a lot more fun for me, probably mostly because Amy Adams stole the show (as usual). I wouldn't have paid to see it in the theater, but for a Sunday evening on HBO, it was better than I expected.

One day last week, the comedy HBO channel showed The Apartment, and I watched because I've heard a lot about it and because I seem to have developed a retroactive crush on Jack Lemmon, who was utterly adorable in his youth. My main reaction was, that was a comedy? I guess in the classical theater sense it might have been because everyone was alive at the end and the couple sort of gets together, but otherwise, I'd call it a tragedy with a moderately hopeful ending. I guess it was meant to be a Message Movie with something Important to say about modern life, but I kept thinking that they could have taken some of that situation and those characters and made something really fun out of it. The gist of the story is that Jack Lemmon is a bachelor working for a big insurance company, and he's climbing the corporate ladder by lending his apartment to company executives who need a place to get together with their mistresses. He's getting a bit fed up with it, but now the executives are making veiled threats along with their promises, so he can't get out of it. Meanwhile, he's taken a liking to the saucy elevator operator, only to find that she's one of the women who's being taken to his apartment. I guess it's a well-made movie, but know what you're getting into. It's not that funny or that romantic, in spite of being generally considered a romantic comedy.

Saturday morning on HBO I stumbled upon an odd little movie that geeks might enjoy. It was a co-production of HBO and BBC, so I'm not sure it was ever a theatrical release. The title was what caught my eye: Frequently Asked Questions About Time Travel. I'd call it a kind of Bill and Ted meets Galaxy Quest for Doctor Who fans. Three British nerds (well, two nerds and one guy who claims he hates science fiction -- he saw one Star Trek movie, that one with the golden robot and the short, round robot, and he hated it, so that was enough for him) are hanging out in the pub after having seen a disappointing movie. To vent, they write an open letter to Hollywood about what they'd like to see in movies (included on the list: More Firefly and/or Serenity). When one of them goes to get another round of drinks, he runs into a mysterious woman who claims to be a time traveler from the future. She warns him that there's a group of time travelers calling themselves Editors who travel in time, killing people after their greatest triumph so their work doesn't go into decline. For instance, they plan to kill Kevin Costner right after Dances with Wolves. His friends don't believe him, since he has time travel on the brain (his ideal job is Time Lord), but they do like the idea of Editors and discuss when George Lucas should be taken out -- after the Empire Strikes Back or Return of the Jedi? But then one of them goes to the bathroom and comes out in a different time, and soon they're bouncing around in time (but always within the same pub), relying on the expertise of their Doctor Who fan friend to tell them what to do to avoid paradoxes. And then they learn that the Editors are coming for them because of something on that sheet of paper where they wrote their letter to Hollywood. I wouldn't call this a good movie by any means, but if you're geeky enough to get all the references and are the sort of person to stand up and cheer a Firefly reference in any movie, then this one can be fun. Even without the time travel stuff, just their conversations are funny because they sound like what happens when my friends get together, only without the British accents. Keep a look out in the HBO listings, where they seem to truncate the title to Frequently Asked Questions. And watch until the very end of the credits because the movie doesn't end until the credits do.

Finally, on Sunday afternoon there was a movie called The Canterville Ghost on TCM. It's about a 17th century Englishman whose father walled him up inside the castle and cursed him because of an act of cowardice. He's doomed to get no rest until a kinsman does a brave deed in his name. Unfortunately, cowardice kind of runs in the family. And then in 1943, a platoon of US Army Rangers is billeted in the haunted castle. The cowardly ghost is no match for the Rangers (there's a fun scene of the ghost fleeing in terror from the people he's haunting) or for little Lady Jessica, the six-year-old apparently orphaned girl who is the castle's current owner and who gets adopted as a sort of mascot by the GIs. I think this film was mostly a vehicle for child star Margaret O'Brien, who manages to avoid being an irritatingly cute adorable moppet by having a real sense of gravitas about her. The movie is kind of disjointed, with half of it being about the GIs and the little girl and the other half about the ghost and exploring the meaning of bravery, without much of a tie between the two parts. Still, it had a lot of laugh-out-loud funny moments in it. I did find myself thinking that it might have been more interesting if maybe Lady Jessica had been an adult and there could have been a romance instead of a cute kid story (especially because the final scene borders on the ick with the hint of a possible future romance). Not bad for a hot Sunday afternoon as background noise to the crossword puzzle.

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