Tag: movies

Media tie-ins

There should be a law of some kind that says that written fiction cannot be derivative of visual media (I sometimes long for the reverse too, but realize that would be impractical.) In other words, put an end, by general acclimation, to all Buffy and Star Wars and Star Trek and Smallville books. Etc. I have three reasons for this.

1. We are more creative than this. We can think up stories on our own. We can create interesting characters. Media ties-ins make me think that writers are in it for the money, and that’s depressing because I know that there’s not a whole lot of money to be had in tie-ins.

2. The stuff is so pervasive, that it crowds out everything worth reading on bookstore shelves. In fact, I am going to call these stuff “shelf weeds” from now on, because the effect that it has on the “flowers” one once found on a bookshelf is the same effect that weeds have on a garden.

3. It makes it terribly difficult to find anything. I was just skimming Barnes & Nobel online, looking to see what was new in Science Fiction, and was alarmed at the number of tie-in books that came up on the list and the few number of non-media-tie-ins I could readily find.

And writers out there: I’m sorry, but in my mind, media tie-in books are like pre-fab houses or coloring by number. They don’t require a whole lot of thought, they come with pre-made (if cardboard) characters, worlds, societies, etc. I’ll probably take a lot of flak for this, but in my mind, they are the welfare of the lazy writer.

Snakes on a Plane

There is a summer horror flick coming out called Snakes on a Plane and that has got to rank as one of the worst titles for a movie ever. Mind you, I am saying nothing about the film, which I have not seen (and likely never will). It might be the greatest film ever made and I’ll never know it. But what the heck happened with the title?

I have a theory. The writer of the film could not think of a title, so he did as many writers do and scribbled any old title on the manuscript (sometimes called a “working title”). “Snakes on a Plane”, he typed. (It could be a woman, I suppose, who wrote it, in which case she would have typed said working title.) The writer then continued typing, writing the rest of what I am sure is a brilliant film, and decided that he or she could still not come up with a decent title. “Let the studio worry about it,” they said.

When the studio execs got their hands on the script, they saw gold. Snakes on a plane! What a brilliant idea. It’s just what the American public craves. Imagine the possibilities! The script was rushed along to the special effects team to see just how creative they could get. Somehow, in the excitement of such a gem amid sand, everyone forgot about the title. They just assumed that “Snakes on a Plane” had been approved.

Now, of course, it’s too late. The name is there in black and white. Snakes on a Plane. It sounds like a drink to me. If, for some strange reason, the movie should slither into box office oblivion, you can be sure it was the title that did it in.


Lately, movies I’ve been getting through NetFlix or seeing in the theater have had these weak, cop-out kind of endings that leave you hanging. I call it lazy writing.

Elizabethtown is not one of these movies.

I saw it from NetFlix tonight. The first hour and half of the movie is pretty good. Not spectacular, but good. Funny, touching, overall, well written, as is to be expected from Cameron Crowe.

The last 25 miuntes of the movie is something else entirely. The writing, the cinematography, the music, the emotion, everything is taken to the next level. The movie is well worth it just for those last 25 minutes. It is the first movie I’ve seen in a long, long time that transcends the writing and acting and everything else to be a film experience and to immerse the audience in something really special.

Wow! Gee! This was a completely unexpected, great movie.

Rain, rain, go away

I was up at 9 AM after going to bed close to 2 AM last night. Jen and Jason followed shorly and Jen made some excellent muffins for breakfast. Jason had to work today so he left for the office and Jen and I hung around a while watching The Thomas Crowne Affair on TBS. We then decided to head and and check out a used bookstore I’ve been wanting to see.

It drizzled steadily most of the day. We headed downtown and walked through the rain to where the bookstore was–only to find that it was no longer there. We were both hungry (and a little wet) so we headed to a nearby Mexican restaurant to get something to eat. Jen and I both ordered Maragaritas while there, she getting a regular, me getting a Cadallac. When they brought them, Jen’s was somewhat bigger than mine. She made fun of me because my Margarita was more expensive than hers, and was smaller. But as it turned out, Jen’s drink was alcohol-free and mine was not. Looking at the menu showed us that you had to pay extra for the tequilla and other stuff. So Jen didn’t get any of the benefit and it was my turn to laugh.

We decided to head over towards Strand books and catch a movie at the theater there. Jen wanted to see “Friends With Money” and she treated me to the movie as well. It was not very good, I’m afraid. It was another unresolved ending, something that I see as more and more of a trend lately. It was fun to hang out with Jen for the day, however. After the movie, we headed back home to get ready for dinner this evening.

50 greatest independent films

I caught a link to this site (http://www.empireonline.com/features/50greatestindependent/50-41.asp) on digg.com this morning. I went through the list of films and here are the one’s that I have actually seen. I’ve rated them in order of my most favorite to least favorite. The number after is the ranking on the top 50 list itself.

1. Lost In Translation (26)
2. Grosse Point Blank (38)
3. Memento (13)
4. Clerks (4)
5. Sideways (9)
6. Being John Malkovich (37)
7. Run Lola Run (49)
8. The Usual Suspects (8)
9. Swingers (42)
10. Donny Darko (2)
11. Monty Python’s Life of Brian (5)
12. Max Max (45)
13. Terminator (3)
14. Lone Star (19)
15. Sex, Lies, and Videotape (7)
16. Reservoir Dogs (1)

I know that some folks might disagree with me placing Reservoir Dogs last, but I thought it was a dismal, awful, movie. It wasn’t the violence either, it was the rhythm of the dialog. The entire movie seemed to me to be Terantino attempting to show off and I think it utterly failed.

On the otherhand, while almost nothing happens in Lost In Translation, I think it was brilliantly written and filmed, and incredibly well acted.

I was surprised to see that Time Code had not made the list, and also surprised that Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind had not made it either. Maybe it wasn’t an independent film. Finally, I was also surprised to see Garden State missing from the list. If it were there, it would be my #2.

Pizza and a movie

That’s what I spend the early part of my evening doing. I am so sick of pizza, I am always telling people how sick of pizza I am, but this evening, what did I do? I ordered a pizza from Pizza Hut. It’s the first time I’ve ever felt bad for a delivery man. This man must have been close to 80 years old, no kidding. He seemed barely able to walk from his car to the door. And here he was delivering pizza.

I sat down with my pizza and watched After the Sunset which I’d gotten from NetFlix today. It was about what I expected, nothing great. The blooper reel and Charlie Rose interviews were the best parts of the DVD.

Got a couple of birthday cards today: one from Mom and Dad; another from Tawnya. Thirty-four years old on Monday!

A night off

I gave myself the night off tonight. No reading, no writing. I got “Must Love Dogs” from NetFlix so I sat down and watched that this evening. Good movie. And I packed and got ready for the trip to Las Vegas tomorrow night.

Did 70 pushups tonight.

Also arranged to get together with Rich and Tricia sometime the weekend of March 18-19.

And I am looking at my alarm clock right now and it is set!

“Thematic Elements”

I notice that some movies, which are rated PG-13, indicate that one of the reasons for the rating is “thematic elements”. Does anyone know what “thematic elements” means? Are stories no longer supposed to have themes? If a movie does have a theme, does that somehow necessitate a stronger rating? If I were a parent, I would think a movie with “thematic elements” was a good thing. Books have thematic elements. A Tale of Two Citites has thematic elements.

What gives? I just don’t get it.

Two movies

I took “time off” tonight, having done my writing earlier in the day, and caught up on two movies I’d received from NetFlix. First, I watched “Constantine” starring Keanu Reeves, which was okay. Next I watched most of “High Art”, starring Ally Sheedy, which was much better, but I am just too tired to finish it up tonight. I’ll have to watch the last 20 minutes or so tomorrow.

A cold day in NYC

It was cold today. Just getting home from all kinds of activities today, the temperature outside (just before 10 PM) was 0 degrees (a little warmer if you don’t count the wind chill). But we braved the weather anyway in order to have a fun day.

First was brunch at Petite Abeille, a tiny place on Hudson street with a very good waffle. It was the first time I’d had a waffle in a very, very long time, and the fruit (banana, strawberries and other stuff) made it very good.

The last two times I came to NYC, we missed the park, but this time, we headed up to 72nd St. and then walked across the park and down to 5th and 59th. It was cold. We headed back to Jen and Jason’s where we sat around for about two hours playing Uno (final score, for the record: Jenn: 624, Jamie: 330, Jason: 147. Jason lost 7 hands in a row before winning his first hand. It was fun.)

We then headed over to the local movie theater to see Steven Martin in The Pink Panther. It had it’s moments, but it was nothing to write home about.

Finally, we headed downtown to Mars 2112 for dinner. It was an amusing experience. You take a “Star Tours”-like spaceship ride to Mars, and have dinner when you arrive there. Fun ambiance but the food leaves something to be desired. I tried the Martian Margarita, which is made with blue caracao, and it tasted exactly like a blue Otter Pop.

All-in-all, a fun day, but I think we are all glad to be back indoor, where it’s warm.