4/10/2007

So I promised in an earlier post to give a rundown of my Spring Break movie viewing. It was an odd lot, including:

  • The Host: A current Korean release featuring a very scary mutant fish. This movie didn’t really fit any of the conventions of American horror films and was thus both confusing and fascinating to this American viewer. It’s rare to see a horror movie and have absolutely no idea what is going to happen next–I highly recommend it!
  • The Lookout: Okay, it’s got that kid from 3rd Rock From The Sun, which seems like a problem until you remember how good he was in Brick. This movie is a beautifully executed Hitchcock-style thriller. The protagonist has mild mental retardation from a traumatic brain injury, and his best friend is an older, wiser, slightly self-righteous blind guy. I know some people have complained that the end of the movie is anti-climactic (The two guys get involved in–and then fail to actually foil–a bank robbery) but I loved the sad in-betweenness of it all. Everyone should see this movie.
  • Blades of Glory: An emotional tour-de-force. An epic masterpiece. There is no way to describe the shattering pathos and the tragedy of this fine film. My life will never be the same. It seems that all the happiness in the world will be sucked into the black hole of Will Ferrell’s hairy gut-dimple. By far, the year’s most poignant use of Spandex.
  • 300: Pointless, but good. Well, not “good” in the sense of making the world a better place. I mean, the whole thing glorifies fighting for fighting’s sake. You know, big heroic men and their big heroic man-pecks and leather jock straps. But it was a very beautiful film to look at, nonetheless, and the design and choreography were highly original and often mind-blowing.
  • Stranger Than Fiction: I never saw this in the theater. It turns out to be a very English-teachery kind of film, and quite good despite the fact that it never showed Will Ferrell’s hairy gut-dimple. I may use parts of this film next year when we talk about “narration.”
  • Ran: One of the last Akira Kurosawa films I hadn’t yet seen, this one is in color, which makes the blood even more spectacular. This is a retelling of Shakespeare’s King Lear, only Kurosawa makes the story in some ways even better by sort of splitting each of daughter characters from the play into a son/daughter-in-law combo. There’s some unbelievably cool imagery in this film. I’ll probably recommend this to the International Film club in the next week or two.
  • Throne of Blood: Another Kurosawa Shakespeare adaptation, this time of Macbeth, and also incredible cool.
  • The BRD Trilogy ( The Marriage of Maria Braun, Lola, Veronika Voss): German director Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s trilogy about West Germany after World War II. I’m trying to expand my repertoire of German filmmakers, especially directors of the New German variety. BRD 1 and 3 actually had some nice noir and Expressionistic stuff in them, but my favorite was Lola, with its insanely bright Technicolorish lighting and photography. Maybe I’ll check out Fassbinder’s Berlin Anderplatz during the Summer. Since it’s 15 1/2 hours long.

Anyway, today we had class. We went back into the writing lab to play a “revision” game somewhat reminiscent of that childhood classic “musical chairs.” In my English-class version (which, unlike the children’s party classic, is neither “musical,” nor, to be honest, “fun”), each student pulled up the Word file with his or her story and then waited for my cue. On my mark, they ran (or walked, begrudgingly) to the other side of the room and installed themselves in front of someone else’s story. They read the story. As they read they were to note places in the story where they wanted to know more–either because the author had made a very provocative point, or because the author had failed to include some crucial information. After they finished reading, they changed the font color and added a CHUNK. A CHUNK is, of course, a bunch of sentences that add dialogue, description, narrative, etc., that might make the story more interesting and engaging to the reader.

I like this activity for two reasons: It give the readers a chance to see someone else’s writing, which could help them see some of the strengths and weaknesses of writers of their general aptitude. I also like the feedback it gives to the writers who, when they got back to their original stories, saw a few different places in their story that would benefit from more development, and some ways to “develop.”

Anyway, if you missed class today, be aware that our Short Story Festival will begin tomorrow. In order for that to happen, you’ll need to have a completed version of your story in class tomorrow, ready to read, or be read.

So, go spin some yarns.

MT

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