Damaged II

After the previous post, I looked at each of my characters to see the direction I steered them towards. A lot of my characters stated as an extremely passive. They didn’t act or react to their situations, nor did they reach for a goal, which is bad for story and character progression.

I also previously wrote that it seemed like “damaged” characters (manly from soap operas I used to watch) made things happen in storylines. Those characters with passion seemed to have the freedom to act. When some of these cats got knocked down, they got back on their feet, and tried a different approach.

The above actions are typically what I see with villains in many stories. They could be earnest, aggressive, and assertive. They didn’t simply react, they acted, they had goals, and no one was getting in their way. If you did get in their way, well, you were bound for trouble.

Heroes should be this way as well, and this may have been a blinding factor for me.

In soaps, many heroes (not all) can be passive, unsuspecting, and clueless to the world around them. The hero defined the genre of melodrama, which is, bad things happen to good people. To me, a soap opera hero didn’t have to do much in the story other than be the constant victim of a damaged character.

It’s only when the hero’s caught onto what was going on in the world around them, was he or she able to react, but it’s always at a late, late moment. By then the villain has made attempts to get their goals, got thwarted, and took a different routes to get what they want. The villain has had far more time to for character development and growth. The villain pushes the narrative with great urgency and strength.

Some villains typically do what the hero should be doing in a given story, which is make things happen.  It also suggests to me that the narrative theory is that those only who have desire act in a devious manner.  If you are bubbled and pure you will persevere though simply being good.  Total rubbish.

I believe characters must be active in their own story or they will be supplanted by another more engaging characters.  This may also explain the appeal of villains as secret MCs in storylines.  Think of how flat some storylines are when the hero and/or villains are cardboard. It’s what I’m doing right now.

As always, happy creative endeavors.


Simply Complicated

Yesterday a friend suggested–to solve my woes with the main character, that I ask myself, “what does this character really want, and then let him know he will NEVER have what he wants. His reaction to this is what will determine his character.”

That sounded so simple, until I tried to answer the question. Then my brain hurted (yes, I am fully aware that “hurted” is not a word–thought it was funny).

At first I went with his occupation, and knew he was having drama with his career as a painter,  and wanted to be taken seriously as an artist, but that wasn’t it.

The main character struggles with his desire intimacy: He wants to be in love, feel wanted, and be touched, however there’s a vicious social taboo on him.

So knowing he’s longing for something out of reach, I’ve placed him in an open spotlight where he’s the center of attention and controversy. This cause some people to panic, and have some spiteful, petty, and bigoted reactions.

So he wants intimacy, but needs to be respected as well.

His reaction to these events I haven’t fully figured out yet. I don’t want him to run and hide. He needs to stand firm, even though he’s risking harm cause people go out of their way to be petty and evil under the cloak of righteousness.

As always, happy creative endeavors.

Five Movies

Merry Christmas, All,

This is a list of five movies I happen to like. Not a top five, or the best movies. They captured my imagination, and I’ll mention a few scenes that really stood out for me.

Star Wars The Empire Strikes Back: This is a favorite from youth. It is a space opera, which is a sub-genre of  science fiction. My fave scenes revolve around Darth Vader. His utter ruthlessness and ever menacing desire drives the film for me.  Also Luke learning how to become a jedi with Yoda was cool. On a side note Lando is my hero.  It was cool to see someone of color in a film I love. There’s a bit of a fairy tale motif as well.

Pan’s Labyrinth: This film is so heartbreaking, yet intriguing fantasy and fairy tale. The whole scene with the Pale Man, and the scene when Mercedes cuts Vidal, and her following escape attempt.  Was very caught up in the intensity, and worried she’d be captured and returned to Vidal.  The brutality of war, fairy tales, and fantasy all mix, yet something beautiful happens in the story.

Raise the Red Lantern: This is one of my favorite films. It has a tight narrative, and it seems like time passes quickly when watching. I felt absorbed into this film. It does have a very tragic ending I feel bad about, yet it felt like a part of the experience. I can’t pick out one scene, I do recommend people seeing this one.

Lord of the Rings The Two Towers: Part of the epic fantasy trilogy. The middle installment happens to my favorite. I do love Gandalf’s return as Gandalf the White. I also like when he rids Thoeden of Saruman’s possession.  Also all scenes are improved with the late Christopher Lee (Saruman), so wherever he was, I enjoyed.  While not the primary villain of the series, Saruman’s presence is felt along with his plots and intrigue. In a way, it reminds me of how powerful/menacing Darth Vader behaved in Empire Strikes Back.

Clash of the Titans: To clarify, I’m speaking of the original film from 1981, not the reboots. I love the monsters/sfx in this film which has a lot of heart and imagination. The use of mythology, and creatures excited me in my youth. When I look at it again, I find it a fun tale of a hero rising to power, slaying the beasts, and getting the princess. It’s very much a fairy tale and adventure.

Part of the reason I made this list was to explore what I like about some films, and possibly they would reflect what genres I’d like to write.  Some of the qualities I note may show up in my writing.

I encourage everyone to sit back, and look at what they like, and the qualities within the text. You may find a starting point for your creativity.

As always, happy creative endeavors.


Back on Schedule

Yesterday was the drive back home from the family, and while I miss them, it was time to get back to my home. The roads were busy, and that was ok.  The interstate was the busiest, and I wondered about that.  It was a lot of rubbernecking for an accident on the opposite side. The moment I passed the area, the traffic congestion faded into nothingness. I feel for the people in the accident.  Hopefully a lot more people made it home with little or no interruptions.

Today I finally get back into my regular routine.  After spazzing a bit because last week throw my writing count off, it’s nice to get myself back to a state of decency.  There’s a lot of things I need to look into and complete today, but I feel like that I can’t get them done if I don’t put forth the effort.  Went to bed late, and I knew I shouldn’t have, BUT I wanted to sleep.  Time seemed to play tricks on me.  First it was 1:00 AM, then it was 6:00 AM. I think I may have not read the clock correctly.  It was rather funny.  I went back to sleep just the same.

Worked on my novel yesterday.  I wrote 2,500 words for the day, then after midnight some more writing.  I honestly don’t know where this novel is going.  I put more focus on one set of characters, and i don’t know how to bring some of them back into the fold, as they really are becoming two distinct and separate stories that only share the same world, as opposed to being tied together.  It’s not a bad thing, by I wonder about both of the characters created.

Let’s hope I keep up the momentum for writing, since NaNoWriMo ends this week.  I’d love to reach the 50K mark, so that means more writing.  I gotta get some more stuff in.  I feel nervous.  I also created a few new antagonists. if push comes to shove, I’m gonna write out a battle scene and keep it moving.  I need for things to move.  This first draft is an awful hot mess of a draft.  I’d have it no other way.  If anything it’s still moving forward, which is all one can ask for.

As always, happy creative endeavors.

In the Realm of the Senses: Brazen Eros and Thanatos

In the Realm of the Senses, Image,

Abe and Kinchizo

If one could pluck erotic tragedy from the vine, my guess is they would have a copy of In The Realm of the Senses (1976) in their fingers. What an audacious feast of carnal desires and social taboos. I dare say this film is meta: Not only do we see the actions within the film as taboo, we ourselves engage in societal taboos as we view a film.  It still hasn’t been seen in its entirety in Japan, where it was made. In the Realm of the Senses was directed by Nagisa Oshima, who’s know for films that challenge society’s rules and standards.

In the Realm of the Senses is based on a true story in Japan of folk hero Sada Abe, who, after accidentally killing her lover, Kichizo Ishida, cut off his genitals and carried them around in her purse. Several films have been made about Sada Abe. In the Realm of the Senses is not a biography, nor does it explore Abe’s motivations for the death of her lover. What we have is a film that depicts themes of raw sexuality and tragedy.

Visually we’re witnesses to a tragic, yet erotic love affair that crosses social taboos not only of the time in the film, but to the real word’s censors. Make no mistake. This is a very explicit film, and the sex is real. It has a sublime effect as I went from spectator to voyeur multiple times. Often I felt as an intruder, watching people release their inhibitions.

Part of looking back at In the Realm of the Senses allows us to see where and how far censorship and depicting sex and sexuality in films progressed. This film definitely blurs the line between narrative and titillation with real sex scenes. Director Oshima makes it clear by the content this film, that there would be confrontations and daring even by today’s standard. In many films where the sex is faked and depicted as real, as much as the same manner as violence in film is depicted. In the Real of the Senses dares to break one taboo after another.  The film has pornographic aspects, but it’s taken seriously with a strong narrative and tells a story, which doesn’t really happen in typical porn. We also have a tragic ending which is a far cry from XXX features.  Even at the end of this film with tragedey and lose, Abe manages to cement her commitment to her lover for Kenchizo. With In the Realm of the Senses we, the viewers face the question of what it means to be sexual beings in a world set with limits and taboos.

In The Real of the Senses, Sexy, Lusty, Passions

Abe and Kinchizo have a lot of conversations during lovemaking that's a bit more than the typical pornspeak.

With In the Realm of the Senses we have an unflinching portrait and cautionary tale when Kichizo and Abe indulge in and are lead by their ID and libido. In fact I dare say the film functions as our ID, allowing us to see a world with explicit details. I applaud the frankness laid out before the viewer. The tragedy and havoc wrecked by this couple is not without consequence, neither is this film. If this is eroticism explored to dark and unsavory levels, I am curious about a film that could express a brighter theme with the use of unsimulated sex.

I admire the unflinching desire to capture graphic sex and sexuality on film while maintaining a narrative. I cringe where the passions of the couple lead the viewer to see how unrestrained a level sex brings to the fold. This is a film that is much more than what is seen on the surface.  It’s not a film for everyone. It pushes the limits of what censorship, and the dangers of unleashing the ID, and reflecting actions that do happen in multiple societies.  With this film, sex becomes the ultimate expression of love, as does death.

In the Realm of the Senses, Sex, passions, Japanese film, 1976, Arousing

Sex works like an addiction for these two.

There is a willingness to explore penetration, the act of penetration as a skill and as a function of biology/sexuality. There’s also a willingness to be penetrated and explored sexually. Women brandish phallic objects as well.  Abe threatens with a knife as wel as fantasizes about murdering Kichizo’s wife. Not all phallic tools are for killing.  A group of women explore their own pleasures with a phallic shaped object. Ultimately Abe takes the source of pleasure from her dead lover.  This tragic mix of mutilation and sexuality leaves a disturbing resonance of a destructive love.

One of the cooler aspects of seeing this film via the Criterion Collection are the essays in the film booklet.  The cinema studies student that I am can’t resist reading them and exploring the discussion of said film. If you get a chance give them a peep.  I also suggest Criterion’s website where you can see several of the essays.  Oshima’s thoughts are printed in the booklet as well.  In one section he speaks the insecurities of many of the actors looked at for the role of Kichizo.

There is a poetic elegance tied to the film, as sexuality is the main theme, but not the only aspect of the film. To label it as simply “pornographic” is a disservice to the material and offers only a limited understanding of the film.  Yes it does push boundaries and yes if watching graphic sex is not your cup of tea in a film, I’d sincerely advise against seeing it. Likewise if you’re looking for a straightforward porn film, you may be dissatisfied.

There is a dark side to passion that’s explored here as well.  As liberated as the characters, they are also in a toxic love affair.  Our hero is married to another women and she; our heroine is a servant of lower standing.  Still the fires ignite, that the sexual dependency and liberation clashes against the culture and possibly all the viewers’ sensibilities.

In the Realm of the Senses, Sex, passions, Japanese film, 1976, Arousing

The desire to explore sex and attraction only intensifies from here.

The film’s tragic elements appear when the couple neglect to use restraint and set boundaries for their sexual passions.  Had such limitations been part of their regiment, perhaps the tragedy could have been avoided in the first place.  As I stated earlier, the ID is unleashed with no checks and balances.  Passion became too much of a good thing.  Sex does have thrills and exploring can be a healthy between two consenting adults, however there is a limit to surrendering to one’s passions.  This is a cautionary tale as relevant as when the film was made in 1976.

The bodies encompass more than sexual desire.  They are part of process of identification, and loss.  There is vulnerability, aesthetic qualities, and frankness to the body.  Sexual roles and identification cannot be hidden or restrained by society’s norms or our own inhibitions about viewing the nude and/or sexualized human body. Still, we live in worlds where there are norms and rules. We have a film where taboos broke down for our entertainment.

As tragic and explicit as this film is, I think it’s an amazing story that doesn’t sacrifice the narrative for the sake of depicting sex. Again, if this is not your kind of movie, I won’t recommend it. If you think the explicit scenes won’t bother you, give it a try.

My CINES for Fall

Paper topics can be tricky and I still need an abstract for my World Cinema class.  I got my Narratology paper topic (CINE 710) approved.   I feel I can breath easier than I have been.  For me, starting the paper gets a little rough.  I liken the experience to that of sleeping on a worn out mattress.

For those not in the know, I created a presentation on the topic of “desire” for class that I thought I could expand upon.  I made an abstract, and submitted it to my professor.   After a quick revision, I got the topic approved.  The films I will explore the topic of desire in will be, Elizabeth, V for Vendetta, and Interview with a Vampire.

The original class presentation included Batman Returns, but I wanted to use Interview after watching it last weekend.

I will discuss Pan’s Labyrinth for World CINE but I need my thoughts to gel properly.