Tuesday, April 25, 2006
Cloudy and warm
Yesterday was a reasonably productive day. I should have spent it putting the apartment back together. Instead, I spent it writing. Which is my preference, anyway.
I worked on some samples so that, when I need to send them with pitches, they’re ready. It never ceases to amaze me how much time that takes – you’d think, with cutting and pasting and copying, it should b easy. But there’s heading it properly and getting the credit and the copyright on and all the rest. Did a bit of reworking on the resumes, but not finished. I prefer bio paragraphs to resumes anyway.
Did 13 pages on the mystery story. I figure I’m close to half way through – maybe just under. I figure it’ll run 25-30 pages, handwritten. I’ve wanted to use this character for years, and in a mystery, but couldn’t figure out the context. Moving the location from Florida to New Hampshire made it flow. Setting tends to be an additional character in my work, and New Hampshire had something to say in this story.
Finished Girl Sleuth. Very, very interesting. Finally, someone who’s balanced Harriet Adams’ love for the characters of the syndicate with Mildred Wirt Benson’s. Usually, whoever writes about it decides that one or the other is the “real” creator and takes a side. This book shows how and why both women felt so strongly about the creations. I highly recommend it to writers – it has some fascinating insight into process and balancing work and family life.
Last night, watched The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, which I’d never bothered to see in the theatre. I found it quite interesting – an okay movie that had the potential to be a GREAT movie and fell short. The characters had some lovely moments, but, unfortunately, the action sequences were overly long and focused on violence for violence’s sake instead of using it to further the story. In the sequence where the League tries to prevent the sinking of Venice, yes, I can see stretching it out. You’re going to rebuild miniature Venice and an alternate Venice in Prague and then show it collapsing, you want all that damn work to show up on screen! And it was quite well done. But the sequences inside the fortress, near the end – they didn’t work. And they sacrificed character for violence in the editing. A deleted scene was shown – it’s after Jekyll/Hyde has accepted both sides of himself and saved the overly ostentatious submarine and everyone in it, and Tom Sawyer’s talking about Huck Finn and M’s mistake bringing them together. The dialogue was not brilliant by any means, but the information in that particular scene was important to the rest of the story – and it was cut, which was a mistake. Plus, Shane West, who played Tom Sawyer, managed to do it simply and with that special light touch that only an actor can achieve in the right moment to make it work. I’d watch the movie again just for that one scene – yet it was deleted in the movie.
It was obviously meant to be the first of a series, and, had it just set the bar a bit higher for itself, it could have been very successful. I would have gone on more journeys with these characters – although I didn’t see why the 20th century inventions plunked into the 19th century had to be so over scale (other than the car). You don’t need a submarine the size of a city – yes, some of the visuals were great in the scene between Jekyll and Nemo, but let the actors do their thing and rely less on the sets. Um, I think someone would have noticed that enormous sub that’s bigger than the Intrepid both in the Thames and in the Venice canals.
The filmmakers needed to convince me to make the leaps with them, instead of letting me sit back and go, “well, that almost worked.”
The reason comic book characters are popular is because the audience relates to them. Too often, when transferred to screen, the filmmakers get caught up in the spectacle – which often pushes the audience away – and forgets that the hook is the character.
Let’s face it – putting together Alan Quartermain, Captain Nemo, Ishmael (boy, did I laugh), the Invisible Man, Tom Sawyer, Mina Harker, Dorian Gray, and Jekyll/Hyde – there’s so much room for character dynamic there. Thanks to the actors, we saw some of it. But it needed to take the next step. Shane West definitely pulled off his work the most convincingly, with Jason Flemyng a close second. Had Tony Curran been given more screen time (as the Invisible Man, I know, I know), he’d have been right up there, too.
And there was too much all-out fighting without enough individual opportunity to show each character’s extra-ordinariness.
It’s more frustrating when a movie just misses than when it misses by a mile. And this was close. But still missed.
Off to the theatre.
Hopefully, I can work more on the mystery on my break. I still have to come up with a title.