Archive for the ‘crotchety ranting’ Category

I think the way to describe the “best” narrative – that is, the narrative that, regardless of its content, is the most structurally-sound, streamlined, well-put-together – is that it is both unexpected and inevitable.  While watching it, you can’t predict the outcomes of the events you’re seeing onscreen, but once you’ve seen it and you look back on it, you realize that it couldn’t possibly have happened any other way.

What I think is interesting about this is that it seems to describe two different modes of appreciating a movie, so what I’m going to do is assume that this is (as it intuitively seems) a correct assertion, and proceed from that to elucidate what I think are the two fundamental elements of narrative.  Some of this is going to seem pretty obvious, but just because a thing is obvious doesn’t mean it isn’t worth exploring a little bit.

Those two elements are Plot and Story.

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“Describe” actually literally means something like “draw a circle around.”  That’s why, in geometry, you don’t draw a circle, you describe one.  I want to play a kind of a game in which we use the word “describe” very literally – so, when we talk about “describing an idea” or “describing a person”, we have to find a way to say it as actually drawing a circle around something.  And the attendant implications of that circle are that it is both real and arbitrary at the same time.

If you think of a piece of paper, and on a piece of paper there are a bunch of dots, and some dots are red, and some are blue, and some are green.  You could draw a circle (here “circle” is being defined very loosely) around only the red dots, and then you could say, “look, there’s a red object on the page!”  Is that true?  Well, yes, kind of.  I mean, there are red dots on the page, those are real.  And the circle is certainly real, you just drew it.  There is, in that respect, definitely a red object there.  But at the same time, you could have also drawn a circle around all the blue dots, and made a blue object – so, we could say that there’s one real object (the red one), and two more potential objects – the blue one and the green one, since those dots are still there, they’re just waiting for you to draw a circle.  But really there’s more than that, because you could have drawn a circle that included one blue dot for every red one and said there’s a purple object, or a circle that included all the dots and said “here’s an object I call ‘dots’”, and those would be equally real.

Real in the sense that they exist; arbitrary in the sense that you could just as easily have drawn a circle around something else.

So, the first step is imagining some nonsense. 

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braak

Okay, I wasn’t going to write about this.  I am practicing this new thing where I try not to get worked up about stuff, and instead try to maintain a sort of zen equanimity about things that I can’t control, that don’t affect me, and that — in the long run — probably don’t matter very much.  But I read this article from Glen Weldon at NPR: “Dear Zack Snyder, Regarding Wonder Woman“, which is one of those dumb open-letter things where you write to someone who you know could not possibly care about what you have to say.  I read it and then I sort of succumbed to temptation, and so I guess I am going to write about this whole business.

So.  Zack Snyder is directing Batman Vs. Superman, and Wonder Woman is going to be in it, and for the part of Wonder Woman they have cast an actress named Gal Gadot, who was in the Fast and Furious movies.  Here she is:

936full-gal-gadot

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braak

This fucking show.  Okay, so, let me be clear about one thing right at the front here:  I like all of the actors on this show.  Nicole Beharie, Clancy Brown, that Handsome Guy, John Cho.  Even Orlando Jones!  I didn’t think I’d like to see Orlando Jones, because I think of him as being kind of a silly guy, but no, Orlando Jones is great!  Everyone on this show is great, the diversity of the cast is great, I hope they have long and happy careers.  I even don’t have a problem with them having a long career on THIS show.  I don’t want Sleepy Hollow to get kicked off the air or anything, I am not petitioning for the DESTRUCTION of Sleepy Hollow.

I want Sleepy Hollow to be a better show, that’s all.  All those actors that I like, all that chemistry that’s so great, it deserves a better show behind it.

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Orson_Scott_Card_at_BYU_Symposium_20080216_closeup

I think this picture is super-hilarious. Look how jaunty he looks! With his jacket slung over his shoulder, Mr. Cool Guy, Mr. Hip Dad.

braak

Let’s talk about Orson Scott Card. Okay! As many of you know, Card wrote a famous and popular book that will soon be released as a famous movie (whether it will be popular remains to be seen; my bet is yes). Orson Scott Card is also a famous bigot. I am not going to link to all of the articles (UPDATE: I will link to one that it is a pretty good rundown), because they are readily available with Google and also that is a lot of work, but Card has done some straight up bad stuff – he’s said that it’s impossible for gay people to be good Mormons, that laws should be constructed specifically to punish gay people in order to discourage them from gaying it up, that homosexuality is a genetic “mix-up”, that if America legalizes gay marriage then all the good people need to rise up and overthrow the government, in his retelling of Hamlet he pretty clearly equates homosexuality with pedophilia, and has flat-out said that homosexuality is caused by sexual abuse. He has also said that he has gay friends, which frankly just seems like a bald-faced lie. (more…)

braak

So, I want to talk about this profile of Worldwide Motion Picture Group, and their scientific process (“scientific” process) of evaluating the statistical likelihood of success for a screenplay. Here is an AVClub article about them, and about their founder, Vincent Bruzzesse.

This is actually very exciting for me! I like the idea of behavioral psychology, and you know, simple machines that are designed to churn out plots and stories have been around in Hollywood for half a century at least.

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Cara Blouin

Shakespeare was supposed to have written all of his plays in one draft, each of them bursting perfectly formed into the world like the goddess Athena from the skull of Zeus. I don’t currently know any writers who can do that, but the model that playwrights have access to is either apathetic, disingenuous or expects exactly this sort of miraculous birth.

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