The end is that much closer now

Yet another milestone has been reached: I got to the end of Act 2. And I like how it ended. Stakes are raised. Subplots are beginning to tie together. Outcomes are in doubt. Thrilling stuff indeed.

Surprisingly, I’m not as concerned about Act 3. I know how the thing is going to end. A lot of elements I originally thought of are still in play. I’m fairly certain I can keep things edge-of-your-seat exciting and still wrap it all up in a satisfying manner. The brainstorming and outlining has begun. My self-imposed Wondercon deadline has been set, and I’ll do my best to make it. If not, I can take comfort in knowing that the end if somewhat near.

Movie of the Moment: Another two-fer.

We finished watching Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s MICMACS (still no idea what it means), an utterly charming French film about the takedown of two arms manufacturers. There’s a definite sense of whimsy throughout that it could be considered almost fantasy-like.

It’s a shame more American films don’t take this kind of approach, but I think Terry Gilliam may come closest.

-On a whim, I pulled out a copy of THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN that K got me years ago. Good God, this movie is 51 YEARS OLD!

I love THE SEVEN SAMURAI and am so grateful Hollywood got its version right. It may not be possible to watch this and not feel extra manly. A double-feature of this and THE GREAT ESCAPE would be dripping with testosterone.

As I’ve said before, I’m a sucker for a good western and this definitely falls into that category.

Closing in*

*This was intended for Thursday, but was delayed until today due to my child’s soccer practice, followed by a hockey game. Suffice to say, I was wiped.

Really good progress today. I managed to get through that gap that was hindering me over the past few days, so there are about 4-5 scenes left until I hit the end of Act 2. And since I did that ‘working backward’ thing last week, the basic blueprint is ready and waiting. All I have to do now is flesh it out a little.

Then I move on to Act 3, and voila. An outline is born.

It’s no understatement to say I’m quite psyched as I get closer to starting down the home stretch.

-I got to read Black List script THE LAST SON OF ISAAC LEMAY, a very dark Western by Greg Johnson. I call it dark because there is a tremendous amount of violence in it, which I didn’t have a problem with because it really emphasizes the brutality of that time.

Issac is an aging outlaw roaming the West in search of his numerous progeny, convinced that since he is evil, they must be as well and therefore must be eliminated. We see him kill a good-natured son, and in a daring move, a 5-year-old girl (offscreen, of course).

But as if to justify his quest, there’s Cal, who has no qualms about shooting somebody. You know these two are going to have a showdown before this is over, and it’s going to be a bloody trail while we get there.

There are also subplots involving a half-breed Army lieutenant searching for a stolen Gatling gun, a stepfather out for justice and a whore who never seems to leave her room. (That last one is my only complaint about the story; the character is a key story element, but it seems like all she ever does is stay in her room and wail.)

What I liked the most about this script was how Johnson says so much with so little. His use of just the right handful of words paints a clear mental picture. I also enjoyed how all the characters, even down to the minor ones, are developed so as to really give each one a personality. All of this really helps keep things moving at a good clip.

Even though I’m also working on a Western, mine is a little lighter in mood and leans more towards adventure, whereas this is more of a thriller and a lot more violent. Always room for diversity within a genre.

I couldn’t find any record of this being bought, but it is listed for potential release in 2013.

Movie of the Moment: THE SOCIAL NETWORK. Since I haven’t seen THE KING’S SPEECH, I can’t determine which was the stronger Best Picture candidate. But I can see why this one was.

I’m still trying to determine if Mark Zuckerberg is supposed to be the protagonist or the antagonist. Either way, he makes for a fascinating lynchpin connecting all the subplots together.

This may have been the fastest 2-hour movie I’ve ever seen. Aaron Sorkin’s script really zooms by. Easy to see why he won Best Adapted Screenplay. As a co-worker put it, he took a boring subject and made it interesting.

Exhiliration & frustration

Definite progress today.  Still not to the end of Act 2, but the gap is closing.

I like what I came up with, but am already trying to figure out whether it’s the perfect fit.  For now, it works and will help me move ahead.

One particular scene starting getting too silly and seemed very out of place, so I scrapped it and started again.  The benefit being I now know what NOT to use.

I may actually have semi-normal hours tomorrow, so I can work on it a little longer than I have been.  I’m really hoping to be done with the whole outline by the end of the month, or at least before Wondercon, which is also rapidly approaching.

I also plan on reviewing the Black List script THE LAST SON OF ISSAC LEMAY, a gritty Western. Lots of blood and gunfire seem to be the two main focuses.

Movie of the Moment: MICMACS, by Jean-Pierre Jeunet, who also did AMELIE and THE CITY OF LOST CHILDREN. Off to a very whimsical and entertaining start, but that means cutting this short since I have to pay attention to the subtitles.

So close I can taste it

The problem I’ve been having with this particular section of LUCY is how to ramp up the action while moving the story forward. But then I get stuck in how to execute that action.

I have a list of story ideas that has come in really handy, but lately it feels like the well has run dry.  There is one possibility that I’m working on.  There’s definite potential in it, but I’m working on seeing if it will fit.  I’ll feel better if I can make it work.  Which it will.

Once I figure out the next couple of scenes, I can move on to Act 3. And the ideas are already developing for that.

Feels like I’ve seen this before…

Unfortunately, no LUCY progress today. I worked until noon today, had a parent-teacher conference, followed by some extra time with V on her homework.  But I’m working the midday shift tomorrow, so here’s hoping I can finish Act 2.

I did spend part of today reading ALL YOU NEED IS KILL, a Black List script by Dante Harper based on the Japanese novel by Hiroshi Hakurazaka.  It’s definitely an original take on what seems to be becoming a popular concept: reliving the same time period over and over again (a la GROUNDHOG DAY, DEJA VU and the forthcoming SOURCE CODE).  Only here it involves aliens, futuristic weapons and a wide variety of ways to die.

Earth has been invaded by a seemingly unbeatable alien race called the Mimic, capable of instant adaptation to a situation.  Humanity seems fated to be the losing side.

Cage, a poor excuse for a solider, is part of the latest military operation to take on the Mimic.  As he gets thrust into a particularly gruesome battlefield, he becomes hit with the oily black blood/internal fluid of a unique-looking Mimic.  And dies.

Then wakes up in his barracks, 36 hours before he died.  He’s seen all of this before, so he knows what to expect.

He soon figures out that he’s constantly repeating those 36 hours over and over again, each time ending with him dying.  As “time” progresses, he becomes more and more skilled as a warrior, eventually becoming just as good as mega-soldier Rita.

SPOILER ALERT!  As a young, awkward solider, Rita was also hit with the oily black blood, which resulted in her constantly reliving this time period until she figured a way out – kill the alien that sprayed her before it does.

Now Cage has to do the same.  But it’s not as easy as it seems, and there are some good complications thrown in to make sure there’s no happy ending.

Carson Reeves at ScriptShadow says the action scenes are some of the best he’s ever read – “visual, kinetic, unique – You really feel like you’re inside that battlefield battling those aliens.”  I’d agree with that, for the most part.  I couldn’t help while reading some of the battle scenes that either Hakurazaka or Harper might have been influenced by the battle scenes in STARSHIP TROOPERS.  Seems like all aliens really want to do to humans is tear them apart.  Whatever happened to good old-fashioned disintegration?

But I digress.

ALL YOU NEED IS KILL is definitely a visual screenplay.  It moves fast, but requires close attention due to everything that’s going on.  I had to re-read the pages where Rita explains how the Mimic always manage to be one step ahead of humans.

While there’s a lot of attention paid to the battles and effects, there’s also some good character development of not only Cage, but some of his fellow soldiers.  We get little glimpses into their personalities so we see more than just caricatures or cliches.

Also a nice touch: every time Cage starts over, he writes the number on his hand, which is the opposite approach to how it was done in the anime THE GIRL WHO LEAPT THROUGH TIME.

This would look great on the screen, but a lot of it would have to be CGI, unless Warner Brothers plans to blow a lot of the budget on makeup and special effects.  They purchased it last year, making sure to include a clause that comes really close to guaranteeing it would start shooting within a year.  Which is around now.  It appears to be tentatively set for release next year, which seems to be the case for a lot of these Black List scripts.

Harper also wrote the script for the remake of THE BLACK HOLE, which I really enjoyed back in 4th grade.

Movie of the Moment:  Another two-fer.  We finished LET ME IN, and I have to say, I ended up being disappointed.  It was trying too hard to stick to the Swedish version that it raised questions that could/should have been answered.  What happens after the cop is killed?  Was Abby following Owen, which is why she was there when the bullies had him in the pool?  As K said, it was too European.  A little more Americanization would have worked better.

I took V and her friend to see RANGO, which I had heard was better than you would expect from an animated western about a chameleon.  While the story is clearly lifted from CHINATOWN (including a turtle resembling John Huston), there were some good laughs in it that sailed over the kids heads and some of us adults in the audience really liked.  On the way home, V asked what I was laughing at; it was too hard to explain.

It was a lot of fun, and even more so if you appreciate a good western.  One thing I couldn’t understand: this appears to be set in the present day, but this little anthropomorphized town is straight out of the Old West.  The reason why is never explained, but in the end still works for the story.

Lastly, there’s a subplot involving a hawk with a silver-tipped beak that I didn’t realize until the next day must be an homage to Lee Marvin in CAT BALLOU.  Very cool and clever, Mr Verbinski.