It’s Only Desire

Usually in stories (films come to mind), the character with the strongest desire can be potentially the most fascinating.  I always think of how Darth Vader in Empire Strikes Back, Maleficent, in Sleeping Beauty, and the Queen in Snow White all have the strongest motives in the story.  Sure, Luke wants to be a Jedi, and that’s cool. Aurora wants to marry the guy she just met, and that’s…odd (story there), and Snow White knows she’s in trouble (fleeing is rational-but then she becomes a homemaker).

All the villains have the clear cut desires and seem to drive the film further.  Darth Vader wants Luke -I assumed it was revenge for destroying the Death Star, but it got deeper and personal. We see a lot of Vader and his obsession, and what happens to people who disappoint him. It got real ugly at the Empire.

Maleficent made pettiness an art form; Don’t invite her to a christening, and your baby gets viciously cursed, and she doesn’t stop there. She mocks Prince Phillip after capturing him, and is deeply satisfied with herself.

The Queen is so vain, she goes through great lengths to murder Snow White.  She even ruins her own beauty to get close to her victim. That’s some sick dedication that for a brief moment, paid off. She’s like the tragic hero in a play with the fatal flaw of vanity.

Are these antagonists secretly the protagonists in the films?  After all their desires/emotions seem to push the story further. If they don’t do what they do, get thwarted multiple times, and push back, then nothing would happen.

Perhaps without Vader’s assertiveness (and story focus upon), during his training, Luke would have been extra-extra foolish and made a b-line for Vader for killing his father, then discovered the truth. Thus it would be about Luke’s own personal needs.  It’s more of Vader pushed all the right buttons.

Maybe Aurora relocated as a child, found herself preoccupied with helping others in her teens, and discovered the curse and her origins? What if Snow white fled from some unknown danger,  discovered the dwarfs, and they train her to fight, only to discover this evil queen after her is stuck on being the fairest?

That’s just me thinking about the scenarios without the villain driving the story. The films would be different for sure, but the motives and actions of the heroes would be stronger in my opinion. These are the things I think about when writing myself. Seriously, villains get a lot of screen time, and some of their motives are so strong they dominate the story. It makes them very, very intriguing, and I realize they usually have the strongest emotions, or the stronger focus on their emotions/needs.

As always, happy creative endeavors.

 

The Delight of Danger, Love, and the Perverse in Crimson Peak

Edith Cusing, the heoine of Crimson Peak.

Edith Cushing looks great, but you in danger, girl.

Crimson Peak is not a horror story, as much as the marketing for this film seemed to push viewers in that direction. Crimson Peak is actually a gothic romance, and that may or may not turn some people off, especially if you were looking for some scares and some monsters.  While there are ghosts to be seen, and some gore, they are part of the story, however they aren’t the focus, or the true menace of the film.

The prologue starts off with a funeral, and a visit from a ghost warning the heroine, a young Edith Cushing, to beware of Crimson Peak. This lets us know there are supernatural events, the sense of the macabre, and a potential danger that has yet to be seen/resolved. While Edith is frightened, and rightfully so, an aspect of this scene

This is not to say Crimson Peak doesn’t have its share of violence, and when its violent, it gets ugly. Far uglier than the ghosts, and very brutal, cruel, and cold. At the heart of this story is romance and crime with a protagonist, Edith, who is swept into perverse events that not only threaten to take her life, but her fortune as well. Edith, our heroine, is a determined author who wants to write more than romance stories as suggested to her that women should write, she does not let the publisher deter her. She looks for other avenues to succeed.

Edith needs that determination, as she is soon in love, and married to Thomas Sharpe, and the intensity of the ghosts appearances intensify. They are indeed gory ghosts, ugly, haunting, and wrapped in tragedy as they try to warn her time and time again about her husband, and their home Crimson Peak. It is a perverse place, and from the decay, we learn of death, and different ways of haunting people. For example, Edith’s discovery and listening to recordings of some of the people who stayed at Crimson Peak highlights past gruesome crimes.

Part of the appeal of the characters comes from their disturbances.  For example, Edith can see ghosts, but she is the only one, up to a point. Also Edith’s father never appears as a ghost, despite his violent death. I got the impression Edith doesn’t want to see her father any way but alive. Lucille’s dark persona cracks from time to time as her jealousy of Thomas and Edith’s relationship intensifies. Her propensity for violence and control unleash themselves through the pleasures of death, murder, and deceit, however to view her outwardly is not to see her, or Thomas for whom they truly are.

The true star of this film is the scenery and costumes. This film looks so amazing, from the sets to the clothes. Crimson Peak is a decaying, crumbling manor,  that appears to have a life unto itself. The clay seeped into parts of the house to where the floor oozes clay, and the pipes spit out red clay, and resembles blood. The wind howls through corridors, and gives the semblance of breath. Even the decrepit, old rooms possess (no pun intended) a richness in details that capture the feel and weight of an old, decaying home. The characters also have some interesting persona.

If you see this film, please go for the atmosphere, the fantastical elements and the impressive attention to detail/design. They are truly compelling aspects to behold in this film. It is not about horror, and the violence and perversity is explicit. The film does a great job of emphasizing how horrible people can be, and that ghosts reflect the nature of human beings, as well as how actions shape us.

 

 

Crossing the Threshold 

I need to write every day. Every day that I write, should be towards completing projects. Any drama, or nonsense should be eliminated from my world view. By drama and nonsense, I mean things that are negative, designed to hold me back, or designed not to help at all with any experience I may have.

Writing is a passion. It is a way to express myself. It is a joy, a pleasure, a gift. I enjoy writing. I enjoyed making my friends laugh, I enjoy writing scripts, screenplays, and short stories. My ultimate goals are to become a successful writer. I would love to see myself as a successful full-time screenwriter, television writer, blogger, writing short stories, plays, and novels in the future. I wish to turn my passion into a productive, successful, lucrative business. Writing is a business, as well as a form of art. Rather than debate the difference between the two, I am willing to embrace both.

Writing is exciting and fun, I love to work at my craft, there’s no reason to delay or deny the positive experience that comes from writing. What holds me back, must be eliminated from my worldview.

No project should be too big or too small. At this stage in my life, I know how to get things done. I have a specific skill set, along with experiences to handle issues that may arise. I am skilled problem solver, and I know how to make things work, and get them done.

I don’t need anyone’s approval to be me, or to practice my craft. I accept that there will be roadblocks, stumbles, and daily chaos that tries to interfere. It is my duty to stay on track, and on point.

I believe in my writing, and I believe there’s always room for me to improve. This means that I am constantly looking for better ways to communicate, and to be stronger in my communications.

I believe in the encouragement of other creators to do better, and to be better artist. We’re all artists. We are try to express ourselves in positive and creative ways. This is about being positive making sure peeps has a chance to be a creative.

Every day should be better than the last day. No day is guaranteed to anyone, and things do happen to us all. God willing, I will continue to make my days better as a person, as an artist, as someone who loves what he does.

I must make room for the fact that I will get things wrong a lot of the times. Being wrong means I am not perfect, and I am flawed. It does not mean that I should give up on myself, my family, or my friends. On the flipside of this material, I get things right. Right does not mean perfect. Right does not mean better than anyone else. Right means I am on the correct path. A project or an action has positive results.

Positivity brings forth positivity. I believe in me, I believe and my friends, I believe in my family. We will make positive progress. We will, through our strengths, be better, and greater, and find the success that we need.

Writing Confession: Let it All Hang Out

I confess, sometimes I don’t feel I’m doing the best as a writer of fiction. I’m constantly being reminded that I have a gift for humor. Sometimes I’ve noticed I’ve stripped out the humor in my work. I’d like to keep the humor. It’s my hope that someone will read this post and draw some inspiration from it. If not it was a good exercise for me to think about how I write and how to improve myself.

I noticed, on many occasions, when I write fiction, it’s far too uptight. The uptightness is reflection of my state of mind at the time. I get uptight, worried, and try to make the material the best thing you can read. It makes the material overworked and thus stripped of enjoyment of writing, and reading. I firmly believe that if a story is excruciating to write, then it’s excruciating to read.

There are a couple of paradoxes that I’ve noticed in my writing techniques that I want to address and adjust. First, I labor too hard on some of the material. I have no issue with rewriting any of my prose, screenplays or poetry. However, rewriting is not the issue. The issue is when I write, and I have this anxiety over making sure every word is perfect, nuanced, intelligent, and rethought. I do this all the time. And sometimes what’s funny in the material gets sanitized and dry. Let me restate that this is not editing. Editing is revising for clarity. Fussing over material is me thinking it’s not good enough.

Second, I have, in the past, written for friends, and I didn’t put too much thought behind the process. I simply wrote out what came to mind. I didn’t see myself as funny. I just saw myself is capable of writing a story with a beginning middle and end. I was being playful, carefree, goofy, and anxiety didn’t have a time to grow. Friends who read the material, told me the enjoyed reading what I wrote. It made them laugh, and in turn it made me feel good. That was me being me. Humor must be zen-like. If I don’t attach my anxiety, hopes and aspirations to the material I get positive results.

Maybe I need to create with the focus that I’m writing for friends. That may allow me to think as the carefree, goofy guy who happens to write, and not as the guy who has too many chapter one starts for his novel.

This doesn’t mean all my writing has to be funny. I’d like to think that if I have a strength in writing, I need to explore that talent. There are somethings I need to contemplate and improve.

As always, happy creative endeavors.

Peeping The Dark Knight Rises

*Spoilers ahead*

Bruce Wayne

Bruce wants to look good for a party

I finally saw The Dark Knight Rises from director Chris Nolan. This is Nolan’s final film in the bat franchise, and I think he ended it well. I enjoyed watching the film, and think it blends a lot of genres, like disaster, crime/caper, superhero, and a great bit of noir. I do think I need a second pass at the film to incorporate more elements into my brain. I’m sure I missed a few things. There’s a hardness, ugliness and bleakness of society and living in the Batman films that reminds of noir films. Money and finance is both a price and a game as a lot of people movie into cooperate espionage, financial fraud, theft, terrorism, and anarchy with the ultimate goal to destroy Gotham City on principal.

Sleek and sexy Catwoman

Enter the Catwoman

Gotham City gets sacked so many times and the level of destruction really gets heavy and expensive. I notice in every Batman film since Batman in 1989, someone always discovers Batman’s secret identity, or he reveals it, which makes his identity Gotham’s worst kept secret. Another parallel to at least Batman Returns (1992) is the appearance of Catwoman, and her relationships with Bruce Wayne and Batman. This is a different version of the character, and I’ll expand on Catwoman in a separate post. Just know that she’s got more of a grifter/thief persona and her own duality mirrors Bruce Wayne/Batman’s. Selena Kyle is the femme fatale and anti-hero of this story. She’s also wrapped in an alluring package so she fools a lot of people into thinking she’s soft and vulnerable. She’s as dangerous as the men in this film. She’s also good at playing others, and she in turn get’s played.  Double and triple crosses in The Dark Knight Rises is a vicious cycle.

Fox and Bruce Wayne

Fox peaks Bruce’s interest

The major antagonist in this story is Bane, who’s calculating, cold, intimidating, and evil. Bane’s own history and membership in that exclusive League of Shadows makes him quite formidable. He posses a “been there done that” to the Batman tactics. In a twisted way, Bane mirrors Batman’s desire for justice with a complete perversion of justice and law. His hardened nature and desire to “break” the Batman makes him the foe Batman clearly underestimates. Bane goes after Bruce Wayne’s money and Batman’s back.  He’s quite the bastard and states outright he wants to break Batman’s spirit. He has to do that by destroying Gotham.  His acts appear personal, and we realize how connected Bane’s connected to the League of Shadows and Ra’s Al Ghul.

Alfred Pennyworth

Alfred confesses his wish for Bruce

Money, finances, and well-being  plays a big role in this film.  Bane not only cripples Gotham, but he bankrupts Bruce Wayne as well.  It’s part of his plot, and it works. Wayne’s interest in financing others or lack of financing changes how Gotham operates. The man’s ability to give or take away funding was a lifeline for others.  Losing that money meant Wayne lost a lot of control of his life as the billionaire status which exuded some coolness, like shutting down the paparazzi’s cameras, or able to buy out companies as he pleased

With Dark Knight Rises it’s been a few years since since the death of Harvey Dent, and

Batman vs Bane

Bane vs Batman for the safety of Gotham

Batman’s “disappeared” from the public eye and as far as the public knows, he killed Harvey Dent. Bruce Wayne lives in misery, still mounring the loss of Rachel, and somewhat a recluse. No more billionaire playboy. He’s hit a low. A sad factor to Bruce Wayne is his deteriorating relationship with Alfred Pennyworth, his butler and surrogate father. It’s painful that all Alfred wants from Bruce is his happiness and Bruce is so far removed from being happy. Note that the second mentor, Lucius Fox is clever with a lot more gadgets and resourcefulness. I love his calm, reserved nature.

One thing I loved about the film is seeing Dr. Crane again. He’s gone from prominent psychologist, to drug dealer, and now a twisted judge. He’s such a deviant, and reminds the viewer that insanity and brilliance combined proves to be fatal. His idea of justice makes him more of a small time hood, but helps tie elements from the Batman Begins to The Dark Knight Rises. I wonder why he didn’t he use more of his fear toxins, since it’s his love. It does bring him back to the League of Shadows affiliation, and that evil mind of his.

There are a lot of ideals spouted in this film, and more characters to discuss.  For example, Jim Gordon lives with the fact that he knows what Harvey Dent did to his family in The Dark Knight, and allowed Batman to take the blame.  His guilt ultimately provides Bane with some ammunition to rally imprisoned criminals who saw a harsher side of the law.

I did feel the editing was rough in several places (hence the need for a second and third pass at watching). I did think some of those cuts were cruel, or too fast for my eyes.  I hate those kind of shifts because for a moment I’m playing catch up when I’d like to feel that flow in movies. There are some points I do think seeing the film again may or may not make clear.  I’m looking to updating this post when I do see the film again.

This Week’s Writing Projects

I decided that if I list some of my projects I may be able to tackle them more aggressively.  I’d like to see them completed, and moving onto the next.  First I made a “bargain” with myself to complete act one of my outline.  If I did this I’d be allowed to goof off.  Essentally I’d get my acts done in three days.  Since I put off the outline for months now, it’s my duty to write it out any way possible.

In addition to getting act one down from my notes, I got a very rough version of act two typed yesterday.  I didn’t expect this.  I really wanted to get down a few more sentences and push myself to do more than the one required act on file.  It comes from an older outline I typed and I liked some of the ideas and beats.  It still has to match up with the new outline, while providing fills for the gaps in the beats.  I call it rough because editing for clarity and fluff has to be done.

ASIDE: Like a fool I didn’t back this up.  Will correct this after this post.  I know better. Too eager to goof off after patting myself on the back.

For those not in the know I needed to trim down the material BIG time.  This meant cutting out a lot of material I thought was brilliant.  However, the material has to meet the demands of the format, and that meant cutting things out, and trying to resolve a lot of things that still need work in order for the story to work.

I do have a theme, I need to did up and place at the top of the outline and the logline.  This is to help me keep them in mind as I complete the outline.  I must resolve all the issues before I begin the script.  This means looking for the beats I missed when I wrote it the first time.

I still have some other film essays to write for this blog, and I want to work on an additional two films.  I should pick them at random.  I dunno.  Adding research to the current essay slowed the process a bit as I’m reading a few different sources for some fascinating critique.  Will keep it moving.