A Week of Reading About the Movies


24 September 2013

Reading Me and You and Memento and Fargo: How Independent Screenplays Work by J.J. Murphy. It explores the distinct narrative features of independent cinema in the United States as compared to traditional Hollywood films. In the opening chapter Murphy provides a wonderful analysis and synopsis of the various banal screenwriting manuals that teach writers the rules of screenwriting. One of my favorite quotes that he shares is from an interview subject of my thesis project and documentary on female filmmakers, Julie Dash.

As Julie Dash, who made Daughters of the Dust (1991), puts it, classical story structure is “a good thing to learn when you don’t know what you’re doing. Then abandon it,” particularly if you’re an independent who wants ”to explore and expand upon narrative form, like I’m trying to do.”

Good rule of thumb it seems (and often said). Learn the rules to break them!

25 September 2013

Watched The Proposition (2005) via a Netflix DVD and have to say the envelope description packs a lot of information into a couple of sentences…

When no-nonsense lawman Capt. Stanley (Ray Winstone) apprehends the notorious Charlie Burns (Guy Pearce) and his younger sibling, Mikey (Richard Wilson), Stanley makes Charlie an unsavory proposition: If he murders his outlaw brother, Arthur (Danny Huston), Mikey will escape the hangman’s noose. Emily Watson co-stars as Stanley’s genteel wife in Aussie director John Hillcoat’s gripping, epic scale Western set in the thick off the 1880s outback.

Not sure how successfully it conveys the essence of the film but on a pure factual basis there’s so much packed in there.

27 September 2013

A week in reading for me has been a week in film I’m afraid. Today I quote John Singleton’s (director of Boyz in the Hood) article in the Hollywood Reporter, “Can a White Director Make a Great Black Movie?”

Singleton provides an interesting and balanced look at the issue of Hollywood films and the issues of race in creative content. He opens with anecdote that encapsulates some of the issues raised in the article:

Whenever a black-themed film comes out, I get the call. And even more stops on the street. “Yo, man. What did you think of that flick?” The truth is, I wish folks would ask me what I think of some general releases. (My two favorite movies of the summer were comedies: Seth Rogen’s This Is the End and Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine.) But, hey, I guess commenting on all things black is my lot in life, being that I’m a recognizable African-American face in an industry that isn’t exactly the gold standard when it comes to diversity.

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