Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Movies and Hack Writers

Check this one out when you have a chance, if you haven't already, and thanks for reading this and indulging me in this little exercise!

I guess I probably should have warned you about spoilers or something, but as I said above, hacks don't really care, and don't have much respect for their audiences.

It's not an easy thing, to do either. Dirty Harry (A.K.A. John Nolte) once wrote (in a post I'm too lazy to find and link to directly) that you have to keep one step ahead of your audience. once they catch up, you've become predictable. Two steps ahead, and you've lost them, and they are confused. It's a thin line to walk for two hours.

It's the kind of thing M. Night Shamalan got a lot of attention for when he was doing stuff like The Sixth Sense ("Wait a minute, he's dead?!?"), and not junk like The Happening ("Teh trees are killing us because mankind have abused mother Gaia for far too long!"). The surprise ending is absolute GOLD when you can pull it off, but an eye-roller if you don't execute it perfectly.

It's unique because of the execution of that device. The audience is fooled by a "spoiler" within 60 seconds of the title screen, causing them to believe they can predict the theme and direction of the rest of the film. These predictions are dashed to bits at about the halfway mark. "OMG! He killed Kenny! You bastard!"

People talk about this nifty cinematic device at great lenghts, but that mechanic isn't what makes the movie unique. Heck, I remember that an episode of Seinfeld did this exact same thing in the mid 90's, predating this by six or seven years.

I'm writing this post in a similar fashion in order to more closely illustrate that effect. I'm sure this was all the rage during the movie's theatrical release in 2001, but I write like a total hack, and I'm not above doing it again. Like most hacks, I don't let substance get in the way of style, even when the style is lacking as well as the substance! For the last shall be first and the first shall be last!

Continuing my series of posts regarding movies that were cutting edge over 5 years ago, I'm going to talk about Memento, the latest gem on DVD that arrived via Netflix. As most of you probably already know, all the scenes in this movie are played in reverse order from beginning to end.

3 comments:

Tylo said...

Thanks for ruining the end of the Happening for me, Fuzzy... :-|

Domenica Cipriani said...

Thanks for saving me the money I would have wasted to support some stupid liberal idea that we're killing mother GAIA, whoever the hell she is! Mark Wahlberg would be the only reason I'd ever watch this now and he's not worth the $10 I'd have to pay! Love ya, Jeremy!

Fuzzy said...

Sorry, Tylo, but you did get a Spoiler warning at the beginning.

or end.

or... ummm... I guess it depends on how you look at it.

Domenica, you might like that link to Dirty Harry, or even Libertas. Harry's a bit reactionary, and I think it soured his taste on movies he would have liked if they came out 10 years ago, but it's still a good read.