November 26th, 2007


What They're Fighting For

Negotiations are scheduled to resume today between the producers and the striking Writers Guild of America. Here's hoping they find some common ground they can both be happy with so everyone can get back to work.

In the meantime, screenwriter, novelist and former member of the WGA Board of Directors Alexandra Sokoloff has given me (and anyone else, including you if you want) permission to reprint this post from the HWA Message Board here on my blog. It details the reasons for the strike, and what the WGA hopes to accomplish, in clear language that anyone can understand. I didn't know all the ins and outs of the situation, nor its complete history, until I read what she wrote. So I thought I'd pass this first-hand account along to you as well, so you can perhaps better understand why what the WGA is doing now will help all writers in the future:

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What I've Been Doing With My Eyes

1) I think Dimension made a serious artistic mistake in dividing up Grindhouse for DVD release and jettisoning the fake trailers (which were in themselves a big reason to see the movie in the first place). I didn't get to see Grindhouse in the theaters, so I was forced to recreate the double-feature experience by watching both of them back-to-back via their "unrated and expanded" DVDs this past Friday.

I've seen some crazy movies in my time, but Planet Terror may be the craziest ever -- and I mean that in a good way! It was like mixing John Carpenter, Lucio Fulci and George Romero in a blender and then pouring it through the Robert Rodriguez funnel. It just kept topping itself, scene after scene. I loved it. The DVD comes with one fake trailer, for "Machete", which made me wish they'd included more of them.

Death Proof didn't come with any fake trailers at all, but I wish it had so there could have been at least something worthwhile to watch in those wasted two hours. I'd heard people gripe about Death Proof before, but I thought, nah, it can't be that bad. But it is. It's Quentin Tarantino's first major misstep (some might give that label to Jackie Brown, but at least that movie was enjoyable, if not stellar). There are so many things wrong with Death Proof that I hardly know where to start. The first hour is pretty good, but then, inexplicably, the movie starts all over again with new characters who are essentially clones of the characters from the first part. Nuh uh, Quentin. We already paid our dues by getting to know those other characters (who are better drawn than the second batch, too). After the hour mark, we want action, not a complete reboot and more uninspired chit-chat. Also, Stuntman Mike is the most interesting character in the film. For the first hour he has friends and funny stories and we actually kind of like him. If you ask me, this is where Tarantino went really wrong: Stuntman Mike should have been the hero of the movie, not the villain. I'd rather have watched Stuntman Mike take on an evil motorcycle gang. Instead, we get a motiveless nutjob who turns into a whining pussy by the end. And don't even get me started on all that Vanishing Point nonsense. This movie was an utter failure.

2) Saturday night, kelliwithani82 and I went to see The Mist at a gigantoplex in Pennsylvania. Great cast, excellent acting by everyone and directing by Frank Darabont, and monster effects that made me feel like a wide-eyed kid again (the behemoth toward the end was amazing, especially considering it was never described in the original Stephen King story). Darabont even makes the mist itself look creepy: thick, white, impenetrable. The shot of it rolling down off the mountains was breathtaking. But while I thought the movie was great, I didn't care for the ending Darabont famously tacked on to King's more ambiguous one. I think King's story works because of its lack of resolution, not in spite of it. To try to create resolution to the story is, in my opinion, to cheapen it, not make it better. Darabont's ending is a brave choice, but it didn't feel valid after everything else, and it didn't feel quite organic to the story. But with all that said, The Mist is one of the best monster movies I've seen in years. (And it's always nice to see Andre Braugher acting again!)

3) I've also been catching episodes here and there of the Britcom Coupling on BBC America. Mostly from the third season, I think. Love it!