A Dark Chest of Wonders

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Month: November, 2014

A Snippet on Two Part Films: A Deadline Comment

The problem is that, Mockingjay has no reason to be a two part film: it just doesn’t have enough material to sustain as two parts. What is more, the reason that Part I is so underwhelming is because, as mentioned time and time again, it felt too much like half a movie. I believe that if you’re going to make a two part film that makes on cohesive story, every part has to have its own arc that would allow it to sit as one film, possibly without having to wait for the next part. There are small subplots throughout this film, but overall it simply felt like a tiring odyssey that led to nowhere. For instance, the two parts of Kill Bill are a good example of how a two part movie should be made and considered. While Kill Bill Vol. I dos feel slightly incomplete, when I finished watching it, I felt satisfied because it was it’s own film that could stand alone without much fuss. Vol. I was concerned with getting back at O-Ren Ishii which led to the films final battle: full circle, with a small hint that, “wait, there’s more to come,”. It’s also kind of like a TV show: it should be fine if you don’t watch maybe the first two episodes, you should still be able to feel immersed into the third episode because the third episode, while expanding on the things that happened in the first two, has it’s own goal that it needs to achieve by it’s finale.

In the case of other movies that have been split into 2 parts, there are very few that I would legitimately say deserved to have two parts, and one of those is Harry Potter. The Deathly Hallows had too much material for one film to cover in an exceptional way, and if they had made it one very long 3 hour film, they might have to have made several cuts that would weaken the plot. In the case of Breaking Dawn, there was no reason to, and that one I can fairly attest was a total cash grab. In the case of the Hobbit, I could have understood 2 films: while the book is quite small, there are just a lot of things that happen and take up a great deal of space in the book and I could understand them wanting to keep all of those things in the film, especially since the book revolves around 2 major plots: battling Smaug and the Battle of the Five Armies. Those should have been the two parts of the film. In the case of Allegiant (the final part of the Divergent Trilogy/Series), I can’t wait to see how they try and drag that into two parts, and how they throw Four (the bonus novel that Veronica Roth wrote as a cash grab to get the final scoop out of the Divergent series; awfully written novellas that I can’t wait to sell away to my local Half Price Books) into the mix as well. They’ll have to make extensive changes to the book in order to make it well worth 2 movies, but I still highly doubt anything good will come out of it; and after watching the Insurgent teaser trailer, I don’t know how much worse these films can get! Finally, in the possible case of Stephen King’s the Stand, I unfortunately can’t see why they would want to make 4 different films. Yes the book is gargantuan, Stephen King’s one true epic (outside of the Dark Tower), but just because a book is big, long, and grandiose dosen’t mean it’s adaptation needs to be the exact same way. The first film wouldn’t even be concerned with any real action since a great deal of the first quarter of the novel is just building up to the plague. The best that would come out of four films would be more like a very, very long drawn out episode of the Walking Dead (which I don’t like), since a great deal of the novel is characterization and character analysis.

I think this splitting fad needs to die out already, because where film-makers should have been looking at it as an opportunity to explore these worlds on a deeper level, as well as to test expand the landscape of film-making, they’ve turned it into a dirty game of “How much money can we soak out of this tired Sham-Wow towel before people start to notice that we dried out a long time ago?”. The idea of a part one and part two used to portray an idea that a movie had become so ambitious and so great that they just had to split it so that the EXPERIENCE of the film had a proper satisfying taste to it, by the time its second part came to a close, but now it’s become repulsive.

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Exercise for Writers

You gotta work off all that fat so you can write that beach novel! And don’t skip on leg day, either!

Often times, writers will fall into the rut of an idea that they can only write one thing and one thing only: if you write prose, then you can only write prose; if you write poetry, then you only write poetry; if you write screenplays, then you only write screenplays. But the thing of it all is that you cannot hope to become a better write if you focus your time around a single kind of writing; the good writer knows hows to write for all audiences, of all kinds, across the spectrum. This means that a novelist should know how to write a screenplay, a screenplay writer a novel, and a poet how to write a novel and so forth. Restricting yourself can only hurt your writing. There is a great deal of things that a novelist could learn from writing screenplays, for instance, brevity. Often times, we get carried away with our description or dialogue, and we just want to go on and on, and on, so that we make sure we fill our reader in on every detail from the angle of the corner to how much dirt had collected on the rug; but when you write screenplays, the general rule is 3 lines of description per section, meaning you don’t have a lot of space to elaborate, so you must learn how to say everything that you want to say in eloquent tercets more akin to The Inferno, than a movie. For this matter, a screenplay writer could learn a lot from writing poetry, as a lot of times screenplay writers will want to simply explain what is going on onscreen, but the truth of the matter is that if you ever wish to win any contest for a screenplay or to produce a good looking movie, you also have to have a good looking and sounding script. If you want to show a spanning mountain-scape in the old west, then you need to know how to eloquently say this within the few lines that you have without sounding overly simplistic or flowery in your language, which must also be easily translatable for the screen.

So how do you work out all these things so that you  have big strong writing muscles? Well you simply write, and read. Read screenplays, plays, poems, and simple literature, understand the distinctive features of each of them, and learn how to harness the powers of all of them so that you can easily shift between the formats, and soon merge them: how can you make a screenplay a narrative that can be as easily read as a novel as it is recognizable as a screenplay? Can you create poetic prose that reads smooth, quickly like a screenplay? Is your story too fat: do you have to cut out a good deal of description in order to get to the good stuff in the screenplay? Can your screenplay be easily turned into a novel? These questions alone will help guide you when you are writing, as you will begin to figure out to become more descriptive whilst becoming more concise, precise, and eloquent in your language.

One of the ways that I exercise each of these muscle groups is by working on one or another every day as part of my word count, what is more, I transcribe movie scripts for the site Genius.com, which have to be in a certain format to go upon the site: this a chance not only to learn how to format actual scripts, but read good movies and understand them on a deeper level as I begin to see them on a deeper level than that which will get seen in the final product. Find a way to work each of the different muscle groups into your daily writing habits, even if it’s simply looking at the world from a different point of view: how would you describe such and such in a narrative, in contrast to how you would describe it in a screenplay, or even more difficult still, a poem. A writer has to exercise, and exercise a lot if they ever hope to become Stronger; versitility is also the key to stability and immortality.

A Writer’s Diet

The good writer has a varied diet.

In the past, I’ve talked about how a writer, if he ever wishes to become better, must not only read but also watch: television and and movies, as well as play: video games. Though, in recent times I’ve come across a conundrum. Recently, I wrote an essay and had to get it peer-reviewed, and I another; anyhow, when the time came to return the essays to other students, when I received mine I found it defiled by the most horrid kinds of marks: those which are only there to mark up the page and dirty it up, fill up the white space. There is a distinct difference between criticism and simply not being capable of being constructive in your criticism. For this matter, the criticism that was returned to me had denounced my work as little more then gibberish, having nothing to do with the prompt, when in fact it did; the only difference was that I referenced works outside of those that we had studied in class. In my defense, I had already cleared it with my teacher that I could use outside sources for this this essay, and with this being said, I cannot help but be angered by ignorance. While I did reference things that the reader of the paper had not read, that does not make for a mistake or an emergency on my part; there’s a works cited page for a reason. I believe that a reviewer, or anyone who analyses literature (be it a classic or something as simple as this, a class essay) should, before they review or critique the work, at least do some research. It is my belief that when we read good literature and good fiction, everything is symbolic for everything else, that there is an ulterior motive behind most things, and that sometimes it will require more than a surface level of reading; in the case of my essay, I used heavy figurative language in order to keep from sounding redundant, as many people chose the same prompt as I did, and for this matter, no one wants their essay to seem like little more than another stick in the mud.

Thinking on it now, I came to realize something: you can never hope to be a good writer, to be a better writer, or learn writing, if you do not have a proper diet. You also have to exercise, but that’s easy: just write every day for a good amount of time, but to be sure, I think I’ll cover that in a later post. Anyhow, if a write does not have a varied diet, then they cannot ever hope to get better. What I mean by this is that, a writer cannot simply read literature, he also has to understand why he reads the literature that he does, what makes literature interesting, the components of that literature and why it’s good for your writing. In addition to this, a writer is a renaissance man: knows a little bit of everything, and in order to achieve this diet, you cannot only read, but you must also watch good television and that television that you like; you have to watch deplorably bad movies, artsy movies, and totally superfluous movies that are made wholly for entertainment (like those of one of my favorites, Tarantino; I can’t help but watch one of his movies every other week or so because they stay in your mind long after you complete them); you also have to play games, any kind, so long as they have a goal; and a new thing, you also have to listen to music. This is where the diet becomes very hard to maintain. For those of us who enjoy one genre of music, it may be hard to get something out of another genre of music and feed from it, but if I can easily shift from Mozart to Kanye West to Lorde to DeadMa5, then I think that you should be able to as well. Music is an quintessential part of the human experience, and with this in mind, you cannot hope to write good characters, good stories, without listening to a wide variety of music to accompany your music; even as I type this, I’m listening to “Mercy”. But what is more, you have to understand that whatever diet you choose to keep your writing healthy does not define you as a person, you must always keep in the back of your mind that you’re doing everything in order to become a better writer: so while I would rather not let people know that I secretly enjoy listening to hip-hop music, I still listen to it not only because it sounds pretty dope (depending on who you’re listening to, but that’s all a matter of taste) but because there are some pretty heavy rhymes thrown down that could improve your usage of figurative language if you look past the vulgar lyrics in many songs.

Enlighten yourself not only on the subjects of your genre, but on the subjects of all those things outside your genre; don’t be ignorant, learn so that your work can be a better reflection and representation of not only your writing but yourself.

Twisty the Fucking Clown

Someone’s quite cheeky his evening…

WatchMojo recently released a video:

I was neither satisfied or particularly moved by the list, but it was the comments that really made me let a rip:

JOKER?!!! REALLY?! WHERE’S TWISTY THE CLOWN!?
Also, no Twisty from American Horror Story? This is the first list that i utterly disagree with .
You spilt have included the American Horror Story: Freak show serial killer clown. That mask is frightening enough.
Where the fuck is Twisty? AHS Freakshow fans, back me up. 
(Note, this one has over 100 likes)

Let’s get something straight people: clowns are not scary, and Twisty the Fucking Clown is downright deplorable. There seems to be some kind of misconception that horror is about how terrifying you can make something look, how malformed you can make one’s face (in this case, how Twisty of AHS is missing his mouth because, “[He’s] so stupid [he] couldn’t even kill himself.” when he tried to shoot a hole in his head; you’re right Twisty, old buddy, old pal, you are pretty stupid, and an ugly character)–no, I think you’ve mistaken the genre of horror for a eight year old boy’s wet dreams. The genre of horror is not about the exterior of the House Usher (well, I guess in the case of Mr. Poe to an extent is is about the exterior, but mute point), it is wholly about what goes on within the human mind and why it drives us to be the way that we are or do the things that we do such as shooting our classmates, murdering our girlfriend with a hammer, or tearing our body to shreds when we look in the mirror. That is what makes horror horror and not pulp fiction. For this matter, well crafted horror is that which reaches down inside of the view or the reader, and really grips them with its intense craving for attention, for it’s want of attention to its realism, and just how well it makes you realize that you’re just like itself, that you’re fucked up in the head, man. Well crafted horror does not totally rely on a mask to allow it to flourish to be scary, rather it relies on what lies on the other side of those eyes for the figure to be horrifying, it relies on the wicked grass of a sick mind as blown by the wind of twisted action to be startling, it relies on the authors ability to embody and to personify horror not so much as a person, deity, or device of terror but as a being in itself, a pillar of the self, the human in the same way that survival in food, water, and shelter are: horror is what makes us human.

With this in mind, for me, it is almost insulting that some people find Twisty to be either a compelling or terrifying character, because he is in fact quite shallow and serves as far more a mode of transport to transform Dandy into a complete monster, which is the only way that I could justify his screen time in the last four episodes. I don’t understand what’s either so compelling or terrifying about his character. He’s a bland character in that his back story was bad, his purpose for the entirety of 4 episodes is vague (it was mostly just to inspire Dandy and provide some kind of horror within the show, and to what?, emphasize the already overly-emphasized point that the Freaks aren’t freaks at all?), and he’s just not scary in the way that he should be for a show of American Horror Story’s quality. Horror has to have motivation, it has to have reason, and it actually has to be compelling in a way that’s not just all about looks. Pennywise is by no means the scariest looking clown in the books, but at least he has character, a kind of charisma that allows him to be somewhat terrifying and, most of all, memorable for such stale jokes reinvigorated like, “Do you have Prince Albert in a can? You do? Well you better let the poor guy out!”, and creating new lines like, “We all float down here”. Twisty, for me, was a total waste of screentime and something more like the recent obsession within American Horror Story for gore; he was a routine act that I’d rather skip out on and wait for Lobster Boy to come out again. I’m glad he’s dead, hopefully for long, I don’t think I’d be able to put up with more of his hilarious impracticality.