Monday, December 16, 2013

Horrible Endings

I survived my crazy weekend and now kind of want to hibernate today, but I have to make a trip to the post office (there ended up being a question about something I needed to mail, so I didn't make it Friday), and I'm out of tea (well, the kind I drink daily), which gives me an incentive to really make it to the post office this time, since the Indian market is across the street from it.

My kids did okay singing in church. They didn't make much sound, but they didn't do anything other than sing, which I count as a win, considering the antics they were up to in the choir room earlier. I made some dire threats about giving full reports to parents, so I think they were scared stiff.

I watched a non-holiday movie Saturday night since Jack the Giant Slayer was on HBO. I'd kind of wanted to see that in the theater but never got around to it. I would classify it as a potentially good movie trapped in a bunch of CGI. They had a really good cast and some interesting characters, so if they'd devoted even a fraction of the attention they gave the effects to the script, they might have really had something. Instead, they seemed to use the fact that they could do all kinds of effects to create giants as a crutch and relied on spectacle instead of story. There were some wonderful moments in which we almost seemed to be getting to know the characters, and then they'd dart off into yet another set piece. Note to filmmakers: In order for us to care that the characters might get stomped by giants, we have to know enough about them to care about them, and that takes more than telling us a few things to tick off the "create memorable characters" checklist from your "How to Write a Screenplay" book. This movie very much had the feel of a story written to formula, like they had a screenplay book open in front of them while writing and went through each step without really understanding the "why" behind the steps. And then they undermined what I thought was a really cool twist at the ending by apparently not realizing they'd created a really cool twist. Then they added an entirely unnecessary epilogue.

But that didn't annoy me as much as the book I stayed up way too late Friday night finishing (somehow, a bad ending is even worse when you stay up too late to get to the ending because you don't want to stop reading with just a few pages to go). I was already irked because it had seemed to be a Christmas-set book and then it skipped Christmas. Then the plot hinged on the Dreaded Misunderstanding. The thing I hate about the Dreaded Misunderstanding isn't so much the misunderstanding itself, but the aftermath, in which everything is okay after the real truth is revealed and they realize it was a misunderstanding. I always wonder why you'd want to be with someone who's willing to leap to the worst possible conclusion about you. In this case, if the guy I was seeing listened to someone with an obvious agenda and, with no evidence whatsoever, believed that I was a double-crosser trying to cheat his grandmother out of her money, all would not be okay once he learned that this person had been lying to him. If he was able to consider me being that kind of person, I wouldn't want to speak to him again. Even worse, the grand romantic gesture to make it up to her was something that would have had me calling the cops, not swooning. At any time, I'd have wanted to hurl the book against the wall. After midnight, it was worse. And I'd loved the beginning of the book.

I may resort to re-reading for the rest of the month because then I'll know what I'm getting.

And now I have been reminded that endings are important. Screw them up, and you lose whatever goodwill you built earlier in the story.

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