Thursday, November 29, 2018

Book Irreview (Irrewind): Aliens

Originally posted on Instagram, August 31, 2018

***

I'd read this four years ago when it was initially reprinted, and my current ALIENS-inspired moodiness caused me to give it another go... this time with a more critical eye.

I dig it. Alan Dean Foster, for the most part, does an excellent job of elaborating characters and details, even closing some non-obvious plot holes from the near-perfect film. I'd say quite a bit of this novelization is better than its counterpart scenes in the movie, although there are some glaring deficiencies in the prose.

Anyway, definitely worth a read if you're a fanatic like me. Pretty solid, regardless.

7/10.

***

Upon Further Irreview:

I mean... it's Aliens, the novelization of Aliens.  What the Hell else do you need to know?

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Infinity: An Irrespective



***

I knew the moment I first saw her that I wouldn't see her again.  She felt so right.  I was so terrified.  If she were to break my heart, I wouldn't want it to mend.  So, I put the armor back on and a prophecy became self-fulfilled.

I called her magnificent.  She told me to be believe that I was magnificent, too.  Yeah, sure.

Something of myself was lost eight years ago or so.  I can pinpoint almost exactly when and, if you give me enough time, I can tell you almost exactly how.  Some friends who know the story will tell you that it was a gradual loss.  Others will tell you that it was rapid, almost sudden.  Some friends will claim that there were but a handful of reasons.  Others will claim they were plethora.

Whatever the case, I've found it.  I don't know if I get to keep it this time - probably not - but I'm going to do my damnedest to hold on as long as possible.  The lows of the last eight years have been miserably low.  The highs... too brief to linger.

The spark is back, though.  Even as my cowardice slapped away the hands that lit it, the fuse ignited.  Fuck, they were gorgeous hands.

Anyway, I took a peek outside of my shell and now I must crawl back inside.  I have worlds enough to carry.  I am so very glad she happened.  Time will tell where I go from here.

C'est la vie.  La vie est belle.

***

Book Irreview (Irrewind): Understanding Show, Don't Tell

Originally posted on Instagram, August 11, 2018

***

Torn on this one.

It's so painfully obvious that it makes you feel silly. But the obvious pain is largely due to the fact that you've been guilty of telling too much and showing too little.

But, it's also a bit too loose, emphasizing too much that everything is conditional, that it almost seems like the book is trying to convince itself of something.

That stated, I would definitely recommend this for screenwriters, if only so "show, don't tell" is permanently and more effectively drummed into their heads.

***

Upon Further Irreview:

Not sure I have much to add upon reflection.  I can't claim Understanding Show, Don't Tell is particularly memorable, but I clearly found value in it.  When I purchased it, I also purchased Janice Hardy's Understanding Conflict.  I haven't read it yet, but I plan to do so soon.  I'll do a more thorough review of that one, I'm sure.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Firecracker, Part 4

*Continued from Firecracker, Part 3

***



***

"How long were you suicidal?"

He scratches his head, cigarette in hand, admiring the musty smell of the filter.  It reminds him of many things.  He's read that odors are among the most powerful jogs of memory and assumes it's... read more @ Panoramic Mindscapes

***

Book Irreview (Irrewind): The Three Stages of Screenwriting

Originally posted on Instagram, August 11, 2018

***

Pretty solid book.

Chapters 1 through 9 and chapter 22 are an invaluable read for any aspiring screenwriter.

The rest of the book is decent enough, but those more advanced may find it too obvious and redundant, which is a bit disappointing given that one of the sections is about rewriting.

Still, worth a read. The publisher needs to hire a better proofreader, though. Yowza.

***

Upon Further Irreview:


Hmm... I'm not sure I have much to add to the Instagram review.  I will reiterate that the first section of The Three Stages of Screenwriting is very well done and I refer to it often, particularly in regards to developing treatments and step outlines.

For the actual writing of a screenplay, you're probably better off picking up Michael Hauge's Writing Screenplays That Sell.  Likewise for the rewrite, I would go with Paul Chitlik's Rewrite (but not for obvious reasons).

That stated, if you've not read Douglas Eboch's The Hollywood Pitching Bible (written with Ken Aguado), then you're doing yourself a massive disservice.  That book is a must-read.

Monday, November 26, 2018

Firecracker, Part 3

*Continued from Firecracker, Part 2

***



***

The journalist stares at him, frustrated by his evasiveness.  She knows about the Algerian.  History has recorded that woman in great detail.  But no one until tonight has heard of this woman with the pleading eyes.  The amount of trivial information he lets slip convinces the journalist that he is recounting an actual person.  The lack of substantive information, however, makes her wonder if the network is paying... read more @ Panoramic Mindscapes

***


***

*Continued in Firecracker, Part 4

Firecracker, Part 2

*Continued from Firecracker, Part 1

***



***

The old man waits patiently, sucking on the second cigarette.  The journalist holds a finger up as she taps notes into her pad with her free hand.  She checks something.  Then again.  Then, after a deep breath and a smile, continues the interview... read more @ Panoramic Mindscapes

***


***

*Continued in Firecracker, Part 3

Book Irreview (Irrewind): Poetics

Originally posted on Instagram, April 7, 2018

***

A whole lot of "screenwriting gurus" purport to worship Aristotle's POETICS.

A whole lot of "screenwriting gurus" are either dyslexic or are unabashed pieces of pretentious shit.

***

Upon Further Irreview:

Perhaps I was a little too harsh on good ol' Aristotle.  More accurately, perhaps I seemed a little too harsh on good ol' Aristotle.  I actually quite like Poetics. What I dislike is its purported applicability to screenwriting.

First of all, some of the storytelling aspects Aristotle espouses are peculiar to Greek theater (i.e., the Chorus) and there is simply no equivalent in screenwriting (nor in modern storytelling, period).

Second, Aristotle dismisses character as secondary to plot.  Now, I'm not claiming I vehemently disagree with that, but that's really not how Hollywood likes to sell the art and craft of screenwriting.  Hell, I doubt any of the gurus that swear by Poetics would admit that character is secondary to plot (that stated, I have read some gurus that allow for that option... not sure if they worship Poetics, though).

Anyway, I do like Poetics.  It's clearly an important document in regards to literary theory.  It's clearly and important (and interesting) document in regards to history.  And while I plan on picking up and reading Michael Tierno's Aristotle's Poetics for Screenwriters, I just don't think Poetics itself is a necessary part of a screenwriter's education.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Firecracker, Part 1



***

"Do you have any regrets?"

The old man pretends to think about the question.  For effect.  Journalists like to think they elicit responses no one else can elicit, and this old man aims to please.  He'd love to please this journalist in... read more @ Panoramic Mindscapes

***


***

*Continued in Firecracker, Part 2

Windswept


***

"Sorry I'm late," she says.

Out of the corner of his eye, her beauty strikes, knocking the wind out of him.  Hard.  Fast.  Without mercy.  A heart skips a beat.  A breath escapes.  He pretends not to notice the time and puts his phone... read more @ Panoramic Mindscapes

***

Movie Irreview: Groundhog Day


***

I saw this in the theaters when it first came out. I remember liking it, but that was it. Yeah, it was funny. I would talk about the groundhog car chase scene with my friends.

It took me 27 years to realize how fucking profound this movie is.  I mean, I went to film school.  Groundhog Day came up a lot.  I read a ton of screenwriting books.  Groundhog Day comes up a lot.  But I hadn't actually seen the movie since that first time I saw it in the theater.

Well, I changed that tonight.  The film is leaving Netflix in a couple of days and as I recently finished yet another screenwriting book that heavily cites the movie (Eric Edson's The Story Solution - review here), I felt compelled to watch it.

Fucking.  Wow.  I know most of you know this already - because you've seen this more recently than I have - but you can't make a much better movie than this.  It is near-perfect.  As I watch films I tend to think of how I could improve it.  I cannot immediately think of a single thing I might change.  Maybe one particular edit (from the exploding truck to the clock), but... that's it.

I am in awe of this movie.  So much so, this will be fourteenth movie and the first comedy on my "desert island movies" list.

Man, we lost a great one in Harold Ramis.  We need more movies like Groundhog Day.  I am almost speechless.  I may watch this again soon.  After I buy the Blu-ray.

"Thumbs up" on Netflix.

10/10 on IMDb.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Book Irreview (Irrewind): The Ocean at the End of the Lane

Originally posted on Instagram, April 3, 2018

***

If you've ever wondered what a Stephen King story would be like, were it written by Neil Gaiman, wonder no more.

A wee bit of a departure for Gaiman, but wonderful and poignant.

Quick read, too.

***

Upon Further Irreview:

I am a pretty big fan of Gaiman's novels.  Stardust is fun (although the movie is slightly better) and Neverwhere remains a favorite across all genres.  The Ocean at the End of the Lane, though... I was moved, maybe even a little shaken.  What a sad, poignant story.

If you haven't read this, you should.  Whatever your childhood was like, this book will remind you of it.  Take of that what you will.

Although Norse Mythology is the next Gaiman on my list, I will be reading this one again.  And probably soon.

Movie Irreview: The Ballad of Buster Scruggs


***

Netflix continues its amazing run of less-than-stellar films with the tragic waste of talent that is The Ballad of Buster Scruggs.  Yes, I am aware that this is an Annapurna-produced Coen Bros. movie, but given that Netflix deemed it "worthy" of acquisition, you just know it's gonna have problems.

And, yep, it has problems.  Narrative and technical.  It looks digital.

Consisting of six short films, some are obviously better than others, yet none are altogether good.  My personal favorites are "Meal Ticket" and "The Gal Who Got Rattled," but both are painfully long.  Between the Coen brothers and the remarkable casts, this simply has no reason to be anything less than stellar.

I imagine a lot of critics will pretend they love this.  I mean, they're supposed to, right?

What a waste.  It's not terrible, but...

"Thumbs down" on Netflix.

5/10 on IMDb.

Friday, November 23, 2018

Book Irreview (Irrewind): The Hero with a Thousand Faces

Originally posted on Instagram, March 14, 2018

***

I'm not going to say that THE HERO WITH A THOUSAND FACES is required reading for aspiring storytellers, but I am going to say that THE HERO WITH A THOUSAND FACES is highly recommended reading for aspiring storytellers.

Part 1 is, by far, the more intriguing and useful section of the book. Indeed, I found Part 2 to be mostly indulgent and boring.

But the epilogue is quite profound. And I learned 42 new words.

***

Upon Further Irreview:

I'm going to downgrade this from "highly recommended" to "if you're curious, go ahead and pick it up, but it's not really necessary to your development as a writer."  This book is far more valuable as an anthropological analysis than as a literary one.

I will state that no literature-based education will be complete without having read The Hero with a Thousand Faces.  And anyone interested in the history of storytelling would do well by reading this book.

But, seriously, aspiring screenwriters will not likely notice not having read it.  Particularly in light of Christopher Vogler's The Writer's Journey (which I don't like, but we'll get to that in the near future).

***

If you're interested, here are the 42 words I learned (or otherwise had to look up):

Beatitude, Sileni, Concupiscent, Dithyramb, Immanent, Vicissitude, Caryatidal, Hart, Pinion, Unguent, Tun, Effulgence, Beldame, Minnesinger, Cathexes, Ineffable, Abreaction, Supernal, Fain, Ablution, Henotheism, Mendicant, Abnegation, Tatterdemalion, Paschal, Cope (clothing), Fluoroscope, Plenum, Recalcitrant, Rime, Scaldic (skald), Turbulation, Welter, Bulrushes, Ells, Byssus, Catkin, Bathos, Bier, Hieratic, Pernicious, Cathected

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Book Irreview: Engines of Creation


***

If you've ever stayed up wondering what living with ubiquitous nanotechnology would be like, then Eric Drexler's 1986 book, Engines of Creation, might be for you.  Though I tried to read it with an eye of the era in which it was first published, I didn't like it very much.  Yes, it's extremely interesting, but it's also kind of boring and kind of loose.  Those who read Michio Kaku will understand what I mean, as Drexler's approach to "this is what it's going to be like" is quite similar (to be fair, Drexler is not as dryly boring as Kaku).

That stated, I do find this book valuable, and for two reasons in particular.

First, the book discusses in some detail a few technologies that I had accurately written into science fiction stories of mine.  I am no scientist, so this made me smile.

Second, Drexler inadvertently predicts the rise of blogging and its consequences.  As he is an unabashed optimist, he gets wrong the notion about how widely sharing and vetting information will more effectively lead to truths and facts, and completely misses the notion of echo chambers.  But, that he nailed the concept of blogging at all was quite amusing.  And, who knows, maybe he'll ultimately be proven right.

I would have preferred a book less conceptual and more practical.  Perhaps Drexler wrote the book too early (there is an updated 20th anniversary edition), but I have a feeling he accomplished what he set out to do.

Unless you're an aficionado of conceptual science writing (or just really hard up for nanotechnology), I can't recommend Engines of Creation.  But I do not regret reading it and will likely refer to it in the future.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Meteor Shower



***

I know when she walks through the doors that I need to make the most of the evening.  Not because I'm going to make some grand impression, but because I know I'm never going to see her again.

I expected her to be attractive, perhaps almost as attractive as her photographs.  I did not expect her to have gravity.  It's already trapped me in her orbit.  I can tell she's... read more @ Panoramic Mindscapes

***

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Book Irreview (Irrewind): Now Write! Screenwriting

Originally posted on Instagram, March 6, 2018

***

Not a bad read. Several screenwriters, all intimidatingly better than you, comfortingly share how they overcome the same problems you have.

Worth it for those writers in need of an exercise or two to break their script wide open.

***

Upon Further Irreview:


In addition to what was stated in the original Instagram post, I love Now Write! Screenwriting for two reasons:

In it are three indispensable essays, one each by Valerie Alexander ("One-Page Character Introduction"), William C. Martell ("The Twitch: Object as Emotion"), and David Freeman ("False Emotion").  Together, these essays and exercises are ten pages long, and they're among the best ten pages you will ever read on the topic of screenwriting.

Now Write! Screenwriting also introduced me to the work of Paul Chitlik.  His book, Rewrite, has played a huge role in my evolution as a screenwriter, and I can't recommend it enough.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Irrevolution; Irremix



***

Believe it or not, I'm in hiding.

After growing too annoyed by self-indulgences and vitriolic political rhetoric, I deactivated my Facebook account.  That was October 28th.  On October 29th, I deactivated my OKCupid account.  Instagram followed on November 4th.  I told a friend the other day that if this were Lent and I were appropriately Christian, I'd be winning (I haven't even had a drink since November 2nd).

Since ditching "social" media, I've been writing more.  I've been spending more time in the company of friends and strangers alike.  I haven't been this legitimately social in quite a while.  Indeed, had I not deactivated Facebook, the chain of events that led to my first date in six years wouldn't have happened.  You've probably read about how much time we waste on social media.  Well, I'm experiencing the realization of that.  It is absolutely fucking amazing how many more hours in a day I feel like there are without Facebook as a distraction.

So now I'm here.  Hiding my thoughts in plain sight.  Which, as experience teaches us, is usually the best place to hide things.  I've brought over my most popular Facebook feature (movie reviews) and my most popular Instagram feature (book reviews).  Indeed, I will be importing the existing book reviews from Instagram (and expanding them).  And, of course, I'll be ranting.

I must admit, though, this blog embarrasses me a little.  The shit I used to write here makes me laugh (particularly the stuff before my blogging meltdown in January, 2011).  I was not particularly funny, but I was particularly awkward and naive, and not so very long ago.  I suppose I could look at it as proof of how much I've evolved as a person and as a writer, but that's not going to stop me from cringing when I read that garbage.

I held opinions back then that I no longer hold.  In some cases, I now believe in the complete opposite of a previously stated stance.  In others, I've shifted to opposing stances, only to shift back again.  Maybe I'm more open-minded now.  Maybe I'm just less decisive.  Whatever.  The old words will remain, as embarrassing as they are.  New words will arrive, building upon the old.  Perhaps even fixing some of them.

I must also admit that I'm comfortable here.  Irre(x2) is an old glove that still fits.  A glove without the pressures that come with trying to make life appear better than it is.

I don't know if I'm going to return to Facebook and Instagram.  Odds are that I will, but I am enjoying the disconnection.  I've even considered dumping Messenger and shutting off my phone for while.  That would be taking things a little too far, I confess, but the idea appeals to me.  Get off the grid.  Hell, I still might.  (I probably won't.)

Regardless of my social media status, here will be the foreseeable home for my Irreviews and Irrespectives.  Which, really, is what this place has always been.  Only the words have changed.

***


Saturday, November 17, 2018

Heureusement, Malheureusement



***

It's a weird time.  Feels like ten years ago for some odd reason.  Several odd reasons, were I to be honest, but I'm not sure how safe it is to be honest these days.  Like I said... weird time.

There's this girl named Lisa.  She's from North Carolina.  Anyone who knows me well knows how hard it was for me to even talk to her.  Glad I did, though.  I don't believe in fate or destiny.  I supposed there are alcohol-infused moods in which I may wax poetic (or prosaic) now and again, but I've accepted the randomness of it all.  Quite like it, really.  Singularities, pluralities... it's all math.  We are the sum of our parts.  We are also both much more and much less than that.

Remember that time you said and did everything you could to cheer your friend up?  Remember when it worked?  Remember when it didn't?  Regardless, you outdid yourself.  Larger than life, better than great.  The sheen on an earned smile.

How about that time you said and did everything you could to bring your friend down?  Remember when it worked?  Sure you do, and if you don't feel guilty for it, go fuck yourself.  You probably apologized, then did it again, anyway.  The shine on a blackened eye.

Should've saved some time and just punched them in the face.  Words do hurt and aren't easily forgotten.  Bruises heal.  The problem with bruises is that some people forget them too easily.  Out of sight, out of mind.

"I'm sorry," is pop music.  Devoid of any value unless the harmony and the melody are just right.  Why sing something when the lyrics may not have any meaning?  In screenwriting, we call this being "on the nose" and it's to be avoided at all costs.  It's not the context you hear that matters... it's the subtext you don't.  That is the music most will dance to.  Whether or not you prefer the violin to the rapper is entirely up to the sum of you.  More or less.  Just remember to harmonize the next time humanity walks you to the edge of futility.

That f-word has been haunting me long enough.  This year has been a year for awakenings and - perhaps more importantly - reawakenings.  Don't get me wrong... I am not "woke" in any way (I hate that fucking term).  I am, however, remembering things differently.  It's a strange thing to realize some part of you has forgotten who you are.  I tend to recall my past with a hint of darkness, regardless of the specifics of the memory, and have generally regarded my current moment as the brightest of my life.  There's just no way that can be true.

A mistake is about to be made.  It's in the math.  C'est la vie.

Lights flicker, don't they?

***

Dolphin: An Irrespective



***

I remember watching my dad cry once.  Can't remember the context, but I think we were watching a movie.  He simply said, "You get more emotional the older you get."  Not sure I believed him then, but I believe him now.  Have for a while.

I wake up today in probably the best mood of the year.  Not sure why, not sure how.  I blast music I haven't listened to in years.  I get ready to write some shit... some fiction, some non-fiction... whatever my brain wants to translate through my fingertips, it's gonna get typed.

A friend of mine in Chicago is going through a rough patch, so I introduce her to another friend of mine who happens to be flying into Chicago tonight.  We chat, catch up, talk shit about having birthdays too close to Christmas... and I see a dead dolphin on my news feed.

For a brief moment, I hold it together.  Then, for a slightly less brief moment, I lose faith in humanity.

And then I cry.

Not much, mind you.  Certainly not audibly.  A tear or two, neither of which swell enough to completely escape the duct.

I mention the dolphin to another friend of mine.  A fellow paratrooper.  Been around the block a few times, this guy.  He tells me he wants to run away.  I do, too.

Where the fuck are we going to go?

Friday, November 16, 2018

On Magnificence: An Irrespective



***

Our heroes are meant to leave us behind.  To each generation, their own struggle.  Words on pages may live forever, alas, the writer does not.  William Goldman died last night.

I should have known then, but I was worried that someone was reading my mind.  The long-dead hopeless romantic could write the cliché about inner beauty, but it is long dead.  The paranoid romantic, however, is alive and well.  It will cliché away, unable to identify who and what peers over her shoulder.  Such beautiful skin is a rarity, but there it was... inches away, stretched across the hands and neck of a woman I had no right to be spending six hours with.

The universe constantly reminds us of our insignificance.  We are important enough for that, at least.  I still can't figure out how the fuck I wound up here or there.  I wonder how monstrous I seem.

One star fades.  Another fails to properly ignite.

This changes the game.

As you wish...

***

Book Irreview: The Screenwriter's Roadmap


Neil Landau's The Screenwriter's Roadmap: 21 Ways to Jumpstart Your Story can be described as an academic mess.  Effectively, the book is little more than a series of statements (conveniently placed in bold) supported by partially-explained lists of the author's favorite examples supporting those statements.

Each of the 21 chapters purportedly concentrates on a specific topic, but Landau offers few purposeful insights.  There are several accidental insights, however, that tend to come from the 21 interviews with successful screenwriters.  These interviews are, ostensibly, further evidence of the "21 ways to jumpstart your story," but they instead seem remarkably out of place in this book.  If you do pick up this book, I recommend reading the interviews independently.

For those stubbornly curious of the Landau method, he contributed a three-page essay titled "21 Questions to Keep You on Track" in the screenwriting anthology book, Now Write! Screenwriting.  You will learn from that three-page essay what you're supposed to learn from this 310-page book.

(To be fair, chapter eight of The Screenwriter's Roadmap - "What's the Structural Blueprint" - is a rather wonderful summary of screenplay structure.)

Anyway, there's no roadmap here.  Maybe a street sign or two, but you're basically left driving in circles.  Skip this one.  Get Now Write! Screenwriting, instead.

Movie Irreview: Bohemian Rhapsody


***

Well, the professional critics are mostly right.  This is largely a superficial and far too saccharine glimpse into the life of Freddie Mercury.  But, damn, it's a pretty good superficial and saccharine glimpse into the life of Freddie Mercury.

Could they have made a deeper, stronger film?  Certainly.  I think, however, had they gone "deeper and stronger," they would have lost what this film ultimately is... the best possible use of as much of Queen's fantastic catalogue of music as they could fit in.

Seriously, I have not seen a movie use its source music as well as Bohemian Rhapsody uses the music of Queen.  I had to stop myself from singing out loud more than once.

Superficial?  Sure.  Saccharine?  Sure.  Did I say those already?  Yes.  But, really... other than an ending that was perhaps a bit drawn out, this was a fun fucking movie to watch.

Let it rock you.

7/10.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Movie Irreview: Brotherhood of the Wolf


***

I saw Brotherhood of the Wolf in the theater way back in 2002.  I loved it so much, I grabbed a buddy and went to see it again.  Then I bought the DVD and watched it a few more times.  I think that - between the over-the-top action, the ultra-stylized production design, and Monica Belucci and Emilie Dequenne - I just couldn't get enough of this movie.

Tonight I watched it again for the first time in what has to have been a decade, if not longer.  I am happy to state that I still really, really like this film.  It's not aging well, however, and there's bound to be a point that this thing is better left hidden in the nostalgic recesses of memory, but until then...bon temps.

7/10.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Book Irreview: The Tools of Screenwriting


***
This one is interesting.  It doesn't really teach you how to write a screenplay.  What it does do (and quite well) is identify individual elements of a screenplay and explain what they're supposed to do for the screenplay.

Now, before you shake your head and be, like, "Oh, I don't need that shit," I would recommend you really, really think about how much you know about elements of a screenplay.

Anyway, for those of you who've studied screenwriting in a dedicated manner, much of this book will be redundant.  The section called "Screenwriting Tools" is extremely valuable for how it explains and identifies key elements and moments of screenplays without resorting to paradigm.  Sadly, it's a little light on the "craft" part of screenwriting, but I found it an engaging read (if a bit dry).  Also, keep in mind that The Tools of Screenwriting came out in 1993, before the tidal wave of shit that we have to swim through now.

I also found it intriguing in that most of the book is nothing but breaking down and identifying screenplay elements in popular movies.  If you're a film student or an inexperienced screenwriter, these are very much worth your time.

Can't give this one a "must read," but you wouldn't regret it if you picked it up.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Movie Irreview: The Howling


***

Man... after everything you hear from movie fans about The Howling, you'd think it would be good.

I mean, sure... it was 1981.  But, 1981 was also the year of An American Werewolf in London and Wolfen.  Both of those were much better films than this underdeveloped and overrated travesty.

Great cast, though.  Nice seeing some of these stars having fun in their twilight years.

I suppose there are worse ways to spend an evening.

5/10.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Short Pajamas Film Festivals, 2018

Well, my little short film conglomerate wrapped up its 2018 festival run this past weekend on Coronado Island, and since I didn't blog my festival announcements like I did last year, I'm going to post them all here, right now.

Granted, we haven't made a new short since 2016, so 2018 has been a little slow.  All of these festivals are part of the end runs of our older and more successful shorts.

In addition to the Southern California festivals (Coronado Island, North Hollywood Cinefest, Oceanside International, Pasadena International, The Valley), I managed to make it out to Milledgeville + Eatonton (where, apparently, I have a deep family connection).  Was a fun year for quick trips.


9 March 2018

26 March 2018

25 April 2018

26 April 2018

26 April 2018

27 April 2018 - Nominated for Best Editing

28 April 2018

15 June 2018

11 July 2018 - Gold Award, Best Drama/Comedy

11 July 2018 - Silver Award, Best Drama/Comedy

4 August 2018

28 September 2018

28 September 2018

3 November 2018

11 November 2018

11 November 2018

Short Pajamas Film Festival Trivia:
  • April was a very good month for "Bella Donna," with three screenings in a four-day period.
  • "Bella Donna" and "Go Tell It on the Molehill" won first and second places in the same category at the South Georgian Bay Film Festival that "Gloriana" had won in 2017.
  • It was Short Pajamas' first year at: Coronado Island Film Festival; North Hollywood Cinefest; Pasadena International Film Festival; The Valley Film Festival.
  • It was Short Pajamas' second year at Black Hills Film Festival.
  • It was Short Pajamas' second year and second year in a row at: Jerome Indie Film & Music Festival; Maryland International Film Festival; Milledgeville + Eatonton Film Festival; South Georgian Bay Film Festival.
  • It was Short Pajamas' third year and third year in a row at Oceanside International Film Festival.

IMDb links:

Here's to 2019!

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Movie Irreview: Overlord

I do quite like this poster, though.

***

Fair disclosure... I went to this movie in a group of five people.  I was the only former paratrooper in the group.  Probably the only World War II aficionado, too.

I fucking hated this movie.  They all enjoyed it.

Take of that what you will.

Anyway...

Overlord is the movie that fans of the Wolfenstein and Call of Duty video games have been waiting for.  Maybe.  Perhaps.  I dunno... can't really claim to have ever heard anyone ask for a movie based on a Call of Duty zombie level, but I'm sure they're out there.

I tried to like this movie.  I really did.  Except there is practically nothing accurate about the portrayal of paratroopers - particularly World War II paratroopers - and the friggin' movie opens with the jump into D-Day.  The bar wasn't just set low, here... it was dug into the ground and buried.

But I soldiered on.

The movie got better, even though it was running on cliché.  It even became tolerable (the French actress, Mathilde Ollivier, certainly helped matters some).  It perhaps was even on its way to being cool...

... until the most ridiculously contrived motorcycle booby trap scene you could ridiculously contrive rolled across the screen like the ridiculous contrivance that it was.

So I checked the fuck out.

I'm giving it an extra point since the people I was with had a good time.  I, however, did not.

2/10.

Book Irreview: The Story Solution


***

It's safe to state that I've read the best screenwriting books I've ever read and the worst screenwriting books I've ever read... all in 2018.  And, believe me, I've read a lot of screenwriting books.

Eric Edson's The Story Solution is neither a best, nor a worst.  But it's definitely not very good.  Outside of a quite excellent interpretation (and obsolescence) of Christopher Vogler's The Writer's Journey, there is nothing inherently valuable or profoundly eye-opening in this book.

Indeed, Edson's laughably and - I suspect - narcissistically trademarked "Hero Goal Sequences" (as if any other creative would ever want to borrow such a klutzy phrase) is little more than an extrapolated Syd Field/Blake Snyder/John Truby paradigm.

Worse, the sections of the book that actually deal with these "Hero Goal Sequences" (comically shortened to HGS) are so clumsily written, they fast become as boring as Edson warns your existing screenplays probably are.

Skip this one.


Thursday, November 8, 2018

Book Irreview: A Short History of Nearly Everything


***

I love reading about science.  Of physics books, Paul Davies and Neil deGrasse Tyson are my favorites.  Both are easy to read, with Davies being the more technically informative and Tyson being the more entertaining.  For geosciences, I prefer Robert M. Hazen, who is readably straightforward.

This guy Bill Bryson, though... for someone who isn't even a scientist, well... he takes the cake.

Everyone should read this book.  Literally everyone.  Despite the book's inaccuracies (few as they are), it is extremely informative, enlightening, and entertaining, to boot.  Indeed, Bryson is naturally funny and knows when to add a bit of sarcasm for just the right effect.  Of all the books about science I've read, I can't recall having had this much fun.

I hope Bryson writes an updated version at some point.  I'll definitely read it.

Check it out.


Movie Irreview: The Witch in the Window


***

Director Andy Mitton's prior films were both about something.  YellowBrickRoad had a sense of mysterious unease.  We Go On had a heart.  Neither of them were great films, but both were okay and - at the very least - watchable.  Perhaps it's no accident that those films were co-directed by Jesse Holland.

Because The Witch in the Window isn't about anything.  And it's terrible.  Absolutely terrible.

There are movies that one can tell the script had no heft, depth, girth, or anything of voluminous interest.  This is one of those films.  Everything that tries for substance tries with expository dialogue.  The scenes that are supposed to be scary are cliché at best, laughable at worst.  There is one (count 'em... one!) scene that might give someone particularly susceptible to the horror genre a chill or two.

But this is a terrible movie, made from a terribly empty script, and shot by a terrible (if this film is a gauge of his talents) cinematographer.  And the acting does it no favors, either.

Ugh.

2/10.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Show, Don't Tell: An Irrespective



***

Don't believe everything that you read.  Don't believe everything that you hear.  Realize that most of the universe is invisible to the naked eye.  So, what are we supposed to trust?  Our thoughts?  Everything that lies to us are collections of our thoughts.  Surely, there's something more reliable out there.

The course of the US government was changed today.  Maybe.  Save for infinite typing monkeys, there's really no way to keep track of it all.  See no, hear no, speak no.  But, that's a no-no.

Anyway, those simians lacked iPhones.  If there's no selfie, it didn't happen.

Where does one put infinite monkeys, anyway?

And who picks up the shit?

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Misconnected: An Irrespective



***

I shut off my Facebook a week ago.  Today, went Instagram.  In a great hilarity, the only active social media page I have is my old MySpace.  Score one for nostalgia.

It's kinda funny what people know you for.  On Facebook - where I did not announce leaving - I've received several messages asking about where I'm going to post my movie reviews.  On Instagram - where I did announce leaving - they want to know where I'm going to post my book reviews.  I wonder, had I a Twitter, what that following would ask about?  A friend pointed out that - as a writer - Twitter makes more sense for me than Instagram.  Yet, I don't tweet.  I probably have an account, but I can't be arsed to find out what it might be.

I admit, it took a few days to get used to not clicking on Facebook every so often.  Whatever would I do with my time?  Turns out... I used that extra time to read and write.  My writing output last week was as high as it's been in a very, very long time.  The major distraction became Instagram, and I just took care of that.

Whatever will I do with my time?  Whatever will I do with my hands?  More importantly, as I've decided to avoid alcohol until my birthday, whatever will I do with my liver???  Alone with my own thoughts...

Holy shit, that's frightening.

I guess I'll read and write.  And, when the mood for being social hits me, I won't be going to the eponymous media.

I'll go be social.