Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Imaginary Stimulus

So, I've been trying to get into the habit of writing this year, and it hasn't happened yet. I haven't been good about setting aside time everyday, like Anne Lemott tells us, or even Martin Amis. I've gotten some time freed up now, but it seems to go to other endeavors (like blogging. Pfft, if only I were that diligent). I've been carrying a notebook, and that does help. I get a few funny jokes in there. I have thought of a few good ideas but none in solitude.

Which makes me wonder. Most of the good jokes/ideas I've ever come up with are in the presence of someone, be it during conversation and joking around or being inspired suddenly by a combination of words that set your mind a-wondering. When I wrote by myself in college, weed often played a role in getting my mind wandering and thinking. But then again, as Julian and Dr. Boozer could tell you, my screenplay sophomore year sucked horribly. I think what I take away from the experience is not that my ideas were so bad, but I just need to practice the craft itself.

The structure of school definitely helped. Being able to boast that I wrote 60 pages of a screenplay is one thing; reading it is another. The idea of turning in assignments, being forced to create, for better or worse, at least got me writing. Nabil and I came up with the idea of pitching each other ideas, and that in itself was a great exercise. Do we want to write any of those ideas? Not necessarily, but it's getting those areas of the brain lit up (if we ever had scans, I'm sure there would be some blah blah blah going on).

But there's a lesson in there. Discipline, practice, honing one's abilities. Having been good at school, you get used to being good at everything the first time around, because you can fake your way through the motions of a lot of things. Film papers are like this. You read one article, you can really wrap your head around the diction and lingo and write like a critic. I've been wanting to read screenplays of films I've admired for a while, but the problem is most of them are shooting scripts, lacking the rough quality of a piece of literature and containing camera movements. But then again, I've never bothered to read those either, so my objections are pointless.

Katie and I, along with some of her lovely family, are going to the beach on Thursday. I'm going to set aside some time (hopefully) and flesh out one idea I've had for a while now. And nothing too intensive, just thinking about some characters and coming up with some story ideas. But this brings me back to my original point: what can I really come up with on my own? I'm still trying to figure all of that out. I guess it's the fear of not having an immediate audience to judge whether your idea is good or not. When talking with friends, you can sense that approval, and you have the confidence to move forward with that idea. On your own, that's another story.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Top Ten Films of 2008

1. Revolutionary Road - What a powerful film. Maybe it's because I'm young, recently married, and thinking about my own future that this film was so painful for me. Kate cements herself as possibly the best actress working, and Leo finally gets a role that impressed me. I mean, he's coming off the screen at certain points, it's incredible to watch. Sam Mendes has crafted some transcendent cinema.

2. The Wrestler - This is Darren Aronofsky. There's been plenty said about how this film is a complete change of pace for him, and I think it's wonderful to see that behind all of his incredible ambition, he's got that passion and talent for, yes, a wrestling movie. I mean, what seemed at first like a joke (going from The Fountain to a wrestling picture), now he's gotten his actor nominated and he's even fighting to get wrestlers SAG protection. I love how small, bare, and unpretentious this film is.

3. Tropic Thunder - I never ever would've thought that such a big summer comedy would make it on here, but I was really surprised. Not only is it hilarious, but it's a good film too! Robert Downey Jr. is a fucking genius, despite his idiotic opinions about Iron Man and The Dark Knight, but whatever. It's such a wonderful satire, this movie was the stupid kind of funny without being stupid.

4. The Dark Knight - Duh, this was just awesome.

5. Pineapple Express - Much like Tropic Thunder, this was another comedy that I didn't think I would love so much. It's a stoner comedy without being stupid. Another film in which a director, David Gordon Green, applies his talent to something completely different, and pulls it off wonderfully. The escalating absurd action here is done so well.

6. Let the Right One In - Best vampire movie ever. It's scary and brutal and raw, which are all magnified by a billion because it's about children.

7. Speed Racer - Yeah, that's right. This movie was so much fun and visually amazing. The critics just jumped on the bandwagon. The Wachowskis really innovate here with really cool fight scenes and badass races.

8. Doubt - Yeah, this was good too. The acting's great, I'm not crazy about it. But it was good. If it were a better year, this probably wouldn't be here.

9. Synecdoche, NY - I've thought about this film a lot since seeing it, but I still think it was a bit of a miss for Kaufman as far as directing goes. The ideas behind the film are compelling, and it's really funny in spots.

10. Loaded Guns: The Movie
- Um, hell yeah this is here. If you made a movie, wouldn't you put in your own top ten? This is way funnier than any other bullshit that came out this year and way more interesting that Benjamin Button or whatever other crap got nominated. I stand by this film.