Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Star Wars: The Archive

This was the first movie whose coverage I archived, but now I’ve archived the archive!
When I updated the checklist to version six, I lost some answers that were interesting from the longer checklist, so let’s put those here:
Are the physics of the world (realistic or stylized?) established early and maintained throughout?
The princess is hit by a laser and faints somewhat harmlessly. Horrible things will happen off-screen to characters we don’t care about, but characters we like will be hurt only in gentle ways, as in Obi Wan’s vanishing, which he accepts before it comes.  Even the choking is indirect, which makes it more chilling but less brutal to watch. 
Are set-up and pay-off used to dazzle the audience (and maybe distract attention from plot contrivances)?
Not really.  The plotting feels somewhat haphazard, without much payoff in this movie.  This isn’t necessarily bad: the shaggy-dog all-over-the-galaxy plot-progression is actually quite thrilling in an off-kilter kind of way.  We never cycle back around to anything (never go back to Tatooine, etc.) or cut ahead (introducing the rebel base before Luke gets there, etc.)

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

The 40 Year Old Virgin: The Archive

This is another one where some interesting questions were cut from the checklist in the course of updating it from version 5 to version 6, so I've included those below... 
Are unrealistic genre-specific elements a big metaphor for a more common experience (not how life really is, but how life really feels)? 
Yes, every man feels like he doesn’t get enough sex, but this is an extreme example.  Likewise the waxing scene, etc, are examples of common anxieties made huge.  Flying through the billboard at the end symbolizes sex and a breakthrough.
Are set-up and pay-off used to dazzle the audience (and maybe distract attention from plot contrivances)?
Yes, her “Sell Your Stuff on Ebay” store is established as a joke, so we don’t figure out that this will eventually be the solution to his problem.  (Although, as with almost everything else, this wasn’t in the original script, and they just worked it in after they saw that their exterior story location really did have such a store across the street!)

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Iron Man: The Archive

This is another one where I had to cut a question from the checklist that elicited an interesting answer, so Ill preserve it here for posterity:

Are set-up and pay-off used to dazzle the audience (and maybe distract attention from plot contrivances)?
 Yes and no: some plot contrivances could have been covered up better with set-up and payoff: At the end, why is Pepper standing in the same spot 10 minutes later? Why doesn’t Pepper call Tony earlier? On the other hand: The icing problem is nicely set-up as a problem, so that we don’t realize that it’ll be a solution later, and Tony giving away his heart, and getting it back, is set up as a character beat, so we don’t realize that it’ll be a plot solution later. Also: Coulson always being around pestering Tony is seen as a problem, so we buy it when it turns into a solution later.

Monday, June 12, 2017

In a Lonely Place: The Archive

This is another one from the early days where I was sort of transitioning from writing about Underrated Movies to spotlighting classics for the checklist.  Probably not one I would choose today, simply because it’s not well known enough, but it’s one of the all-time great movies and I found the checklist to be illuminating. 

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Frozen: The Archive

I had a lot to say about this movie...

Donnie Brasco: The Archive

Out of all the movies I’ve done, this is probably the most forgotten. It was from the early days of the checklists when the idea was more to pick random movies. I’ve thought about dropping it from the list and replacing it with Goodfellas or something. That said, I do adore this movie.  At Columbia, I rescued the screenplay from the garbage when they were cleaning out their archives, then I started reading it over and over.  Indeed the script has one of the highest scores of any movie I've done (Behind only Star Wars, I think) Theres just one area that it flunks: The Hook, and thats why its not as well remembered as it should be. Never forget the need for unique imagery!