Sunday, June 29, 2008

Followup to Wall-E Review

Blurby bit to follow this

Out of curiosity about my own reaction to Wall-E I decided to test something today. I just finished watching a movie I hadn't seen before: I am Legend. I went into this knowing human pride and mistakes had caused a disaster. I knew Will Smith was all alone trying to survive. I knew it would be depressing.

And it was, all of that.

But I still thoroughly enjoyed the movie. And I think that's the difference. I feel like I was lied to about Wall-E. Expectation vs Reality and animated, cute betrayal. I don't have a problem with negative stories but I want to know up front what I'm getting. That is why I didn't like Wall-E.

Wall-E Review, from an annoyed Pixar fan

I'm sad to say that I'm not a fan of this movie. I love what Pixar does and I could pick up most any movie they make and watch it over and over.

But not this one.

I left feeling like I'd been beaten vigorously about the head and shoulders by something large and mostly hurt-y. I think they wanted you to leave feeling happy for Wall-E and uplifted by what happens in the last few moments but it couldn't overcome the rest of the beat-down suffered on behalf of humanity.

The movie, as a recent email put it, is dark. The basic themes involve humans being stupid, humans being mindless, and humans being cows. A movie made in 1969 is held up as ideal, if oversimplified, humanity. If this wasn't fun enough toss in overwhelming environmentalism doomsday prophesies and here you have Wall-E.

Why would I pay to see this?

Newspapers, websites and TV are replete with these themes. Who thought it would be fun to pay to see them in Pixar animation too? All stories need conflict and negative ideas in order to show triumph in the end but I think this movie was a little light on the triumph. I wish they'd cut down the negativity and taken the triumph shown in the credits and made that part of the actual movie. I might have a different opinion of the experience if they had.

I can't fit it into some neat starred rating system but I would say that I likely won't be recommending the movie.

Followup here

Friday, June 27, 2008

Tropic Thunder: Spoiler-Free Review

My husband and I were fortunate enough to get a pass to attend an early test screening of Tropic Thunder last night. We went unsure at how the process worked, much less whether we could get in. But get in we did.

Security at a screening like this isn't scary but it is tight. The woman screaming that cell phones would not be allowed was not kidding. My husband took ours back to our car but many tucked their phones deeper into pockets and purses and were then invariably sent (temporarily) packing to put them in their cars. "Not recording" is serious business.

We were ushered in more than 1/2 an hour before the showing and accommodations were tight but once you've made it past the cell phone Nazi and the 4 (or was it 5?) other people who have to verify your admittance they mostly leave you alone to wait. And in this age where cell phones are the de facto watch for many time stood still. In the bad way. We passed the time mostly by talking over my spec script project and other inanities and watching a mustached man with a legal pad picking various attendees out for extra questions, baffled at his purpose. (We later realized he seemed to be picking out people for on-camera comments.)

At 5 after the appointed time a congenial but business-like bald and be speckled man moved front and center to yell some announcements at us and then it was on with the show.

I wondered, as the lights dimmed, if the credits might be one of the as-yet incomplete parts of the movie and if so if we'd jump right to action or what. I was very confused at the first images I saw. Without trying to spoil anything; just before the movie you will see fake trailers and/or advertisements for the actors being portrayed in the movie. I won't say more than that but some of them are very funny.

I expected, going into this, to see a caricature of a war movie, presented Ben Stiller-style. I was not remotely prepared for how well they portrayed a war movie. Think of We Were Soldiers, Saving Private Ryan, Band of Brothers and more. If the gory blood and guts in those movies bother you then be forewarned about Tropic Thunder; you get that level (in a farcical manner usually) and more. In one instance I actually felt sick to my stomach and a couple of times had to look away. The entire audience gasped 'Eugh' all together in more than one instance.

Additionally, another warning: just like other war and Hollywood movies the language is very heavy. It fits the scenarios and characters portrayed but it's crude, offensive and/or vulgar for 80% of the movie.

That's it for the warnings. Everything else I have to say is glowing. It was a hilarious movie and not always predictable. They really play the audience well at times to wonderful results. I laughed so hard at some of the gags and still smile now thinking of one particular line of jokes. Unfortunately there's really not much else I can say without giving away gags that should remain unspoiled.

Favorite character? Robert Downey, Jr.'s, hands down. The man not only steals the show, but runs off with it, locks it in a chest and sits on it with a come-and-get-me-'tude. He piqued my interest with Ironman and now he's totally hooked me with this role. The guy is a fantastic actor and I'm hopeful we'll see much much more of him now that he's straightened out his personal life.

Least favorite character? Jack Black's. Not to confuse the two I want to say that Jack Black played his role very well. He's a great comedic actor. I just didn't like his character. It's very Rob Schneider on the bad side and he grated on me. It rounded out the mix well and some of his scenes were very funny but overall the character didn't grab me in the slightest.

Biggest surprise? Tom Cruise. I knew he was in it but I was unprepared for how hilarious he would be. This is not the Tom Cruise you've ever seen before and you will love it. When he first came on the screen I hated the character and it took me a few moments of screen time to even realize who it was. But by the end (and I mean complete end) you should be laughing hard at him. He pulled off a brilliant spot.

The movie clocks about 1 hour 45 minutes. I think it's perfectly paced but there's still a chance they could change things before the August 18th release. Most of the movie looked completely finished though I noticed a few little coloration issues. Additionally, there is still some sound work to be done but nothing major.

With the caveats about the gore and language, I highly recommend the movie!

Promo "Viral Video" for Tropic Thunder

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Streak Broken?

I finally made it past random notes today and started on a solid outline for the 2nd script. I laid out the entire case progression and at least part of one scene (my favorite). I hope this is an upswing in writing again. The last week in a creative funk has not been fun. It's a solid start at the least.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Writing Update (Plenty of Distractions tossed in too)

Apparently I was a little too good at distractions over my nice long 4 day break. I managed no work on Script 1, and only notes work on script 2. I did get a new fanfic chapter up, a new Bones episode review completed and the notes completed for the next one. I think part of that 4 day did involve my guest posting on Searchingbones but it's a bit of a blur now.

A big chunk of time yesterday was committed to the 2nd installment of the podcast I do with a girl from another Bones fansite, The ABY. We have a blast.

It sounds like so much but it feels like so little.

I was definitely completely distracted almost the entire evening last night rediscovering photoshop. I tend to pull it out, learn so much, then forget about it for 6 months or more. Then the cycle of wailing and gnashing of teeth recommences. I wanted a new signature for my forum access on the ABY and here, in the 3rd attempt, is what I'm now using.

My previous 2 attempts:

That distraction may yet continue for awhile...I really want to play with image layering next.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Song of the Day

My brain has been utterly consumed with writing of late, so much so that I literally have not had a song get stuck in my head on sometime. As my first spec script nears First Draft completion I am left with the 'hard' parts that make me want to run screaming to any willing distraction. So, today I went hunting for music.

Guys and Dolls happens to be one of my favorite movies of all time. I love musics in general - Sound of Music, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, and more - but this one never gets old. I enjoy most every song and even as I sit here I find it hard to chose a favorite. But I will chose a Favorite-of-the-Moment, at the least.

...or two...

Monday, June 16, 2008

Mail Call

I received two (mostly) pointless mails today. Despite their fundamental uselessness both had high 'neat' factors.

The first was an email. I saw the handy little mail pop-up showing me that I had mail from the festival to which I submitted my pilot script. I swear I think my heart stopped. Rationally, I knew it was too early for any positive notification but rationally didn't exactly kick in quickly. "Could they want more info?" pushed heartily to the front of the line. I stared at the box for what seemed like an eternity. Confirmation of submission and a cheery Thank You aren't nearly as mind blowing, but still...neat.

The second was good old fashioned mail mail. I had no heart stopping trepidation when staring at this one. It was another submission confirmation, this time of my script registration with the WGAw.

Both these mails are confirmation of something important that goes beyond this one contest submission. I have a dream. I want to write. And I'm reaching for it.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Wow. Busy.

Things are taking off in an amazing, and busy, way. Two months ago I started two blogs. Now this one isn't winning any races by any means. My 5 or so readers are all family and friends. And that's okay. That other little blog is a different story. Lots of readers and lots of fun!

Lots of busy too.

I have a lot on my plate right now:

Writing a Bones spec script
Doing prep work for upcoming Bonecast
Writing posts for another Bones blog that's going to have me in a list of guest bloggers next week

After those 3 things are done:

Writing a Zack episode where he deals with his 'rehabilitation'
Doing more background work on the Pilot I submitted
Writing another spec script for another show...probably NCIS

And that's not including a bunch of other things that don't including writing. Busy busy busy. And loving it!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Books, Books

Two books arrived yesterday: Television Writing from the Inside Out by Larry Brody and Successful Television Writing by Lee Goldberg and William Rabkin. I've only been able to skim them thus far, but I've managed to take away something from each.

In the first book I pounced on a section about outlining since I'm currently teetering back and forth between refining my outline and the actual writing for the spec script. The few pages I saw made me feel good in that my story creation method is already good (organic, not linear). I'm sure the rest of it will be an awakening on how it could be so much better but reading that gave me a nice boost.

In the second book I've learned...that the authors wrote for Baywatch. Baywatch?! To be fair they also have written for Monk and Diagnosis Murder but the Baywatch stink just won't leave me. Sure, Baywatch had a plot...somewhere. But who actually remembers more than girls running on beaches and David Hasselhoff's chest?

Speaking of that. Check out this awesome site.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Stuck Home

I woke up this morning barely able to move my shoulder so I stayed home from work. The serious downside to this is that I can't write. I can type in short bursts and then it hurts too much. Upside is an anatomy lesson about the muscles that control the shoulder because it isn't every motion that hurts: just those pesky necessary motions of reaching, pushing, and lifting. The Deltoid muscle and the computer mouse are not my friends.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Spec Script Update

Yesterday I managed to get quite a lot of spec script work done. I know I do the right thing in outlining ahead of time but there's one thing I really still suck at: budgeting pages. What I think a scene on the outline will probably take in pages and what it does in reality aren't matching up so fluidly. Looking at my outline I thought I might end up having to cut parts for time but it looks like I'm going to be adding more instead. But the outline I started with is more than 1/2 written now. Progress is nice!

I wish I could find a complete Bones teleplay online so I could check their format better. I can find transcripts, which are useless to me, and I can find the 'sides' that leak out every time they audition a guest-star but those are usually 1-3 pages only. I'd love to be able to go through an old episode and break down scenes, pages per, formatting - everything. Not even Ebay is helping!

Friday, June 6, 2008

Another Day, another Song

This one has stuck around for 2 days. It's a beautiful duet with Josh Turner and Trisha Yearwood called "Another Try"

Time for some Book Learnin'

So far I've been coasting on my own research and analytical skills in the formatting of my scripts. I've looked at countless websites, templates, and sides. But yesterday I decided to bite the bullet and buy a few TV writing books. It's too late to help my pilot with them: for that I'm just praying someone is curious enough to call or email me for more information! I hope they help my future writing immensely, however. I seem to be learning so much every day and I'm trying hard not to punish myself for information I'm picking up only AFTER my pilot has been submitted. I should be simply proud that I got it out and it didn't utterly stink!

One of my favorite sites has turned out to be Jane Espenson's blog. She's insightful, experienced and humorous and I feel that I've picked up so much information already... and I've only read the first 2 months of her archive.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

My bad lunch habit

It looks like my bad lunch habit is here to stay. The 1 hour reprieve from the office is the impetus to get out and the writing progress that I accomplish keeps me happy after it's over.

I completed all the teaser dialog for my Bones spec script during the lunch time today. So the first 5 minutes are complete and just need proper formatting. Step by step I progress. Give it a week to 10 days and I'll have a new script to pass out to friends. Surprisingly, no one is running from me in avoidance...yet.

Writing Update

Not much to update, serious slacking here this week. I did push out a new fluffy/funny chapter in my fanfiction. Slowly but surely I'm finishing it. I'm not sure whether or not I'll ever do another one after I finish this. There are great and terrible aspects to it. I love the instant audience. But on the flip side of that, an instant audience wants instant meat. You can't really take the time to set up events.

For the stuff that involves my writing future...I've slacked for a few days. I did brainstorm with 3 people more depth to the Pilot, so I've not been a complete bum. But I haven't worked on the newest deadline at all: the Bones spec script. Time to get busy!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Songs that won't go away

Here's my latest Song that Won't Go Away. It's Sugarland's new single. The chorus is at first annoying but quickly became mesmerizing. Sad, I know.

Edit: They killed the embed on this, grr. It can be viewed here.

Monday, June 2, 2008


About 12:30 today I received that magic number of submission confirmation. The do or die date for the finals is on or around August 8th. I'm trying not to focus on that. I'm already up to dialog on my Bones spec script! That will (have to) be done by July 1st in order to use it for this and then I'll spend a month working back on this pilot idea and giving the story more form, more details and most of all...more stories!

Sequel Craziness

30 Upcoming Movie Sequels you didn't know about:

Some make sense, some are absolutely terrible and some are just odd. T

Ones that spark comment in me?
The Brazilian Job: That is far too much like The Brazilian Wax. I can't think of anything but that when I read that title.
Shrek 5: They are really going to take this too far and run it into the ground. Oh, wait...I hear Rocky calling!
Jurassic Park 4: Bad, just bad. And even worse...rumors of David Boreanaz attached to the movie. No, please no. Say it ain't so. I will have to see it then but I will still hate it. Sigh.

~*~ ~*~ ~*~

The entire list:

The Brazilian Job: the follow up to Paramount’s US remake of The Italian Job is still on the cards, and it’s got a 2009 release date marked. Jason Statham, Mos Def, Mark Wahlberg and Charlize Theron are attached, as is director F Gary Gray.

I, Robot 2: All we know on this one is that it’s in the scripting stages still, with a potential 2010 release date planned in. No news on Mr Smith's involvement.

I Am Legend 2:
Warner’s huge Christmas 2007 hit could also have a follow up, although it’d be interesting to see if Will Smith returned to it. A 2010 release date is also being mooted for this one.

Beverly Hills Cop 4: If Die Hard can still do it at the box office, why can’t Axel Foley? Er, because the third BHC movie was crap, and a flop. Still, it’s not stopped development work going ahead on number four. No further news than that, though.

National Treasure 3:
Not a huge surprise, but as the Nic Cage Indiana Jones knock off franchise has proved to be quite a juggernaut, you’ll only have to wait until 2011 for the third film in the series.

Cars 2: We spotted this on AintItCool – is Pixar really looking to make a sequel to its weakest film? Apparently so…

Toy Story 3: This one, after lots of umming and ahhing, appears to be a goer. It won’t, as was speculated, be a straight-to-DVD affair, and Tom Hanks and Tim Allen are both expected back on voicing duties. It’ll be out in 2010.

Jeepers Creepers 3: MGM is running the rule over a potential third instalment in the horror franchise, with director Victor Salva still attached. Hmmm.

Shrek 5:
The fourth film was a no-brainer after the tepid third outing made so much cash. But a fifth instalment has also been confirmed. No wonder Shrek is the same colour as an American dollar…

Night at the Museum 2:
Ben Stiller is returning for his most commercially successful role outside of the Meet the Parents franchise. We can wait. No news on the proposed Meet The Little Focker, though.

Crank 2: High Voltage: This is more like it. Crank is a guilty pleasure right up there with Snakes on a Plane, and it’s coming back for more. Shooting starts next month, for a 2009 release, and Jason Statham returns as Chev Chelios. As he should.

Transporter 3: Statham again. He’s making this too, and it’s in pre-production. Presumably, he’ll go from Crank 2 straight onto this.

Super Troopers 2: A sequel nobody asked for! Hurray! Expect it in 2010, as it’s in the early writing stages still, we believe.

Silent Hill 2: Sony is looking at a follow up to the crap-but-popular video game adaptation. 2010 is the current slated release date.

The Descent 2: We understand that Neil Marshall won’t be directed this one, which has the, er, working title of The De2cent. He’s attached as Executive Producer, with Jon Harris stepping behind the camera (he edited the first film, as well as the more recent Stardust).

The Grudge 3: Yup, it’s in pre-production now, for release next year. That’ll likely be the scariest thing about it.

Ice Age 3: 1st July 2009. That’s the date you’ll need to avoid if you want to miss the next Ice Age movie. Hopefully it’ll be better than the second one…

Ghost Rider 2:
A surprise hit last year, Marvel is developing a follow-up to the Nic Cage comic book flick, and tentatively has 2009 marked for release. No director is thus far attached.

The Untouchables: Capone Rising: A prequel to Brian De Palma’s cracking prohibition thriller of, er, twenty years ago. De Palma is back behind the camera, and the project is in the pre-production stages now.

The Thomas Crown Affair 2:
Weird, this. It’s taken them ages to do a sequel, and then they draft in Paul Verhoeven to direct a follow-up to someone else’s film. Pierce Brosnan returns, and filming starts shortly.

The People Under The Stairs 2:
No sign of any Wes Craven involvement, though, and release may even be this year. Hmmm. We'd wager DVD will be its home.

The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor: Er, that’s what they’ve called The Mummy 3, which is out on 1st August. Brendan Fraser and Jet Li star.

Punisher: War Zone:
Ray Stevenson becomes the third person to play The Punisher on screen. You’ll be able to find out how he did on 12th September this year.

Starship Troopers 3: Marauder: Casper Van Diem is back, but it’s still going straight to DVD, as the piss-awful second film did. It’s due out later this year.

Pink Panther 2: Oh dear. And I’m a Steve Martin fan. It’s out on 13th February 2009.

Ace Ventura 3: No Jim Carrey though, and no chance of it seeing the inside of a cinema. Head to Blockbuster later in the year if you want to catch it.

War of the Worlds 2: The Next Wave: Another straight to DVD sequel, but this one’s of note because it’s directed by Soul Man/Hitcher star C Thomas Howell. Blimey.

Jurassic Park 4:
It’s taken them ages to sort this out, but the latest is that Laura Dern is still attached, and that it’ll be released in 2009. Don’t hold your breath though, as shooting would need to start really very soon...

Scary Movie 5/Saw 5: You could have guessed at these if you didn’t know about them already. Both should see the light before the end of the year. Sadly.

# Pieces Written

Scripts - 3

4 if you count re-writing Sleeping Beauty, Hillbilly-style, in High School

Novels- 1 + .1 + .7

Can I count my 14 or so mentally composted story ideas? No? Drat.

Short Stories - 2

I'll say two officially, so far (one of those still needs to be typed up)... I lost at least 2 of my old ones and I've wiped the slate clean.

Poems- 3...4? 42?

I won awards for 3. After that I lost count.