I’d pay to see it

The rain has been hitting the Bay Area hard the last couple of days, which means I stay at work until noon.  And with all those idiots on the roads who forget you can’t drive 80 mph on the freeway in the rain, the traffic problems come in fast and furious.  And it’s exhausting.

So when I got home today, I just didn’t have the strength to work on LUCY.  Instead, I opted to read the Black List script CHRONICLE by Max Landis, son of director John Landis.

The basic premise is that three teens in suburban Portland, Oregon gain superpowers.  The only way this could be considered a comic book movie is if it were written by Warren Ellis, Clive Barker, Neil Gaiman and Alan Moore.  If you know comics, and those writers in particular, then you know this can’t end well.

I’ll get to the story in a second, but think it’s really important to comment on HOW the story is presented.  The whole thing, all 92 pages, is seen via video footage.  A docu-drama, like PARANORMAL ACTIVITY or CLOVERFIELD.  Everything is from the camera’s point of view.  The events have been CHRONICLED.  Hence the title.  Clever, no?

At first, I wasn’t sure if it was just a gimmick, or if it would eventually go to a ‘regular’ look, but Landis keeps it going throughout the whole thing.  And after a while, I could see why.

Using the video footage and breaks between filming, as well as smart dialogue and well-written wide margins, helps the reader understand what’s transpiring onscreen.  Sometimes you read something that may seem unfilmable, but after giving it a second read-through, it still works.  Quite nicely, actually.

Regarding the story, the main character is Andrew, a loser with a video camera.  He films everything.  We get a glimpse into his harsh home life, as well as his own personal hell that is high school.  We also meet his cousin Matt and school golden boy Steve.

Somehow they find themselves in an underground cave, where they acquire telekinetic powers.  This was the only confusing part of the story for me.  The cave is never explained.  It’s just there.  I’ll have to read through it again.  Maybe I missed it.

Anyway.  Their powers start out small, but get stronger, including the ability to fly.  But like the late Ben Parker said, “With great power, comes great responsibility.”  Especially for main character Andrew.  While the ability to move things with his mind is at first thrilling and exciting, the more he uses them and the stronger his powers get, the darker he and his world become, culminating in the surprise death of a main character and what a full, all-out super-battle in a major metropolis would really look like.

And while I’m not a big fan of onscreen gore, there were two scenes that, if done properly, would look absolutely brutal.

What I really liked about the script was how you could read more into what was going on, just by how a phrase or sentence is worded.  Really effective stuff.  I didn’t know what to expect when I started reading it, but it was definitely unique and didn’t turn out the way I thought it would.  Which is always a nice surprise.

According to the Internets, Fox picked it up last August and it’s in pre-production now with a tentative release date of sometime next year.  Thrilling stuff.

Movie of the Moment: GI JOE: THE RISE OF COBRA.  Cinematic Velveeta.  Campy.  Silly.  Fun, especially if you’re 12 or under.  I’m really glad I did this on Netflix, rather than paid to see it.  I mean, really.  Acceleration suits? Puh-leeze.

Is this why Christopher Eccleston left DOCTOR WHO?  Jeez, I hope not.

That’s more like it

It was quite a challenge, but I finally found a goal for my antagonist I’m happy with.  And even better, I didn’t have to change that much in the outline.  Sure, the opening scene is gone and now focuses on Lucy herself, but I think that’s for the best.

I had completely forgotten how both protagonist and antagonist should stand in the way of the other achieving their goal.  That really helped me figure things out.

Now it’s back into the quagmire that is the latter half of Act Two.  Good news on that front as well: I read over last week’s progress, and a lot of it still works.  So far, so good.

Once I get to the end of Act Two, and then figure out my way through Act Three, fine-tuning it may not be as difficult as I think (he typed with fingers crossed).

-As promised, a little more detail about MURDER OF A CAT, my most recent Black List script.  Like I said, I wasn’t that impressed.

It’s the story of a guy whose cat is murdered, and he works on figuring out the who and the why behind it.  I like the concept, but didn’t like the main character.  Can somebody please announce a moratorium on the now-cliched idea of an arrested development guy still living in his parents’ basement?  It’s no longer original, and I find them really annoying.

Honestly, he really reminded me of Ignatius J Reilly from A CONFEDERACY OF DUNCES.  Which I didn’t like either.  So sue me.

And if I don’t like the main character, why do I care if he succeeds or doesn’t?

But that’s the problem.  Although I didn’t like him, I was interested in the mystery angle of the story.  He just happens to be the guy right in the middle of everything.  And adding to all of that, the main female character turns into a love interest.  I found her becoming attracted to him a little hard to believe.  Having them stay at odds throughout would have been much better.

I’m having a little trouble figuring out how this made it to the Black List.  The writing is…okay.  There doesn’t seem to be anything unique, original or (in my opinion) funny about it.  It wouldn’t surprise me if somebody read this and thought “Will Ferrell would be perfect!”

Who am I kidding?  Half of LA probably did.

Next up: I was going to read CHRONICLE, but I’m almost done with the book version of ABRAHAM LINCOLN, VAMPIRE HUNTER, so I’ll probably tackle the script soon afterwards.  That should be very interesting.

Getting there

The rain returned today, which means I worked until noon, thereby depriving me of about 2 hours of script work time, so there wasn’t much progress today.

But there was at least some.  And it may be more significant than I realize.

My problem was I had this bad guy connected to Lucy’s past.  In fact, he plays a pretty significant role.  I was trying to inject him into the story in a certain way, but kept running into obstacles of one kind or another.  And it wasn’t working.  So I tried another approach, even though I was worried it might seem a little cliched.

But it works better within the story.  So I’ll keep it for now, and see how things develop around it.

It’s supposed to rain all week, so the overall progress may be somewhat limited.  But this latest development is encouraging.

-I finally got around to reading another Black List script: MURDER OF A CAT, by Christian Magalhaes and Robert Snow.  I’ll have more detailed comments tomorrow, but for the most part, I wasn’t that impressed.

Movie of the Moment: Watched DESPICABLE ME with V.  I enjoyed it.  It was clever, original and never condescending, which I always appreciate.  And probably the first time I could actually tolerate Russell Brand.

I always find the best animation to be in the vein of the old Rocky & Bullwinkle cartoons.  At first they seem geared towards kids, but a lot of jokes are there for the adults.  Surprisingly, this wasn’t nominated for Best Animated Feature.  It probably wouldn’t win, but at least it could have been nominated.

I also managed to watch INCEPTION over 2 days.  I liked it, but I couldn’t help but keep hearing a co-worker’s comments throughout in that almost everything Ellen Page’s character asks is for the benefit of the audience. “What’s a kick?”, “Limbo?”, “Whose consciousness are we going into again?” and so on.

I especially liked the whole execution of the dreams within dreams part, and each one’s relation to the one it was set inside, which I guess really was the whole second half of the film.

More than once I was thinking “How did they do that?,” but my DVD from Netflix didn’t have any bonus features, so I don’t know how they pulled off any of the special effects.  I’m fairly certain the fight scene in the hotel hallway was similar to the space station in 2001, complete with a circular rolling set.

While the story was a little hard to follow in some parts, visually it was stunning.  Christopher Nolan is definitely one of a kind, and it makes me look forward to THE DARK KNIGHT RISES that much more.

-I applied to a potential short-writing gig.  Zombies are apparently involved, which are always fun.

Thank you, inner me

I think I may have found a solution to my bad guy problem.

Even more amazingly, it came to me while I was sleeping.  Kudos to my subconscious for being a team player.

I was hoping to work on it during a rare Saturday afternoon shift, but the roads have been busy, which means I’m busy, which means I get no writing done.

But now that I know what I want, when I sit down on Monday, I’ll be able to make the necessary fixes.

And that’s cool.

Movie of the Moment:  Tonight’s planned feature is DESPICABLE ME. K & V saw it last summer, so I’m the odd man out.  It’s supposed to be good, so I’m looking forward to it.

Short post; big problem

I realized what’s been bothering me about my main antagonist.  I haven’t fully figured out his goal.  I thought I did, but turns out I was wrong.

And until I do, I can’t move forward.

This is going to be tough.  But not impossible.  It’ll take some effort, but I’ve been down this path before.

Good thing I’m running into this now, during the outline process, rather than while writing actual pages.  That would suck even more.

Time to put the creativity into overdrive.

Stay tuned.

Quick Movie of the Moment: L.A. CONFIDENTIAL, which I was reminded of while reading THE GANGSTER SQUAD.  I stumbled upon it while channel surfing.  Damn, this is a finely executed piece of storytelling.  I still cry foul that this lost Best Picture to TITANIC.

There is so much packed into each scene, even the short ones.  It zooms by.  The first act alone is almost an entire story unto itself.  There are so many subplots throughout, each one connected to the others, and easy to follow.

I’m guessing this was supposed to be Guy Pearce’s breakout film, but the spotlight shone on a very young-looking Russell Crowe.

My only complaint: the Rollo Tamasi angle.  It seems a little too fabricated and Keyser Soze-ish to me.  But other than that, I really like this movie.