23 February 2009

Muriels: WALL*E

my blurb for the winner of the Golden Muriel.

"It's a robot love story", says my one friend. A robot love story? That sounds awful. But it's Pixar and the reviews are good, so the girlfriend and I decide to give it a chance. Even at the late show, the theatre is packed with screaming little bacteria traps. The first four trailers are loud, obnoxious animated films with talking penguins that seem like the perfect torture weapon for a cinephile.

Suddenly this doesn't seem like such a good idea.

Finally, the film starts and the little kids are quiet. There's a robot rolling around a barren wasteland, crushing trash into little cubes. Only, he's spending more time looking at shiny things than working, kind of like a bird that puts foil in his nest. And fucking hell, this is a good film. A very, very good film, maybe even a great one.

One of the first things I notice is how the folks at Pixar, led by Andrew Stanton, focus on the smallest of details to flesh out this post-apocalyptic world. Visually, the film is a feast, crammed with bits of dust and scuff marks and smudges and a plethora of things that, at points, make you wonder if maybe this isn't animated after all. The shots of space, in particular, are stunning.

But all the artiface and craftsmanship is worthless if it doesn't support a worthwhile story, and story (that robot love story) is WALL*E's strength. The robot love story is deceptively simple, basically the same love story we've seen since Shakespeare, but Stanton finds ways to make it feel fresh. Maybe it's the robots. Maybe it's the ecological message. Maybe it's Wall*e's puppy dog eyes (and, man, those eyes kill me). Honestly I'm not sure.

Rather then speding a lot of space here saying what Andrew Dignan has already said so well about this great film, what I would like to do is take a minute to talk about that robot love story.

When Wall*e meets Eve, at their "meet cute", Eve asks Wall*e for his directive. He doesn't really know what that is, but it doesn't take him very long to find one. Eve becomes his directive. He becomes soley devoted to her, to helping her, to being with her, to saving her, to (most importantly) holding her hand. And not to belittle his intelligence, because clearly he's a pretty inquisitive little robot, but it's almost as if he's oblivious to everything else. Or maybe that's a perfect representation of what it's like to be in love, just two people existing in a world all their own. His devotion, his single-minded focus, is what makes this such a compelling story. The fate of all humanity hangs in the balance, but none of that even registers to Wall*e. All that matters is that Eve needs his help. In one of the film's saddest moments, he even loses his memory trying to rescue her. You can't find a stronger love than that. In a room full of transfixed little DNA samples, I almost broke down and cried.

And, I don't know, maybe it's those puppy dog eyes, maybe it's the sequence where Wall*e cares for a comatose Eve with the same tenderness that so many people show when their spouse is unresponsive in a hospital, or maybe it's just that this is one of the first pure love stories I've seen since falling in love myself, but to me, WALL*E is one of the greatest love stories ever put on film. It's so far superior to every other film this year, I considered leaving the rest of the spots on my ballot blank.

22 February 2009

Muriels Best Picture

Paul is finishing the Muriels in grand style, counting down the top films by including a blurb on every film that got a first place vote, starting with reprise, all the way down at #35.

What's so great about this is all day I've been seeing films that maybe didn't do so well in the voting, but only because not many people got a chance to see them, especially me (but really, Dennis, Speed Racer?). It's a fantastic way to fill out your Netflix queue.

Every half hour there's a new one, thereby ensuring you won't get anything done all day, and I've still got a blurb left to come, so hopefully you don't see that one for a long, long time.

Also, if I get motivated, I may write something in the next couple of days about why Wendy and Lucy is such a colossal failure of a film. But for now, enjoy The Muriels.

18 February 2009

13 February 2009

what's worse...

...than writer's block?

Well, a lot of things, but not having time to write down what's spinning around in your head is pretty shitty.

11 February 2009

script update

For Thom, and whoever else cares,

I have a to-do list in my pocket of 6 things that need to be done before I can call finished this large (and hopefully last) revision of my feature script. Not all of them are big.

They are:

1. A transition scene maybe involving a secondary character
2. Fix the end of an early scene
3. Add an exposition scene that adds to the main character's worldview
4. A line (or lines?) of dialogue to trigger a big shift in the script
5. Add a scene near the end, somewhat large
6. Write a description for an imaginary film that would go in a film festival program.

And then hopefully that's it. I'm shooting for the end of the week, but that's optimistic.

08 February 2009

Muriels: 25th Anniversary Award


What's so great about this for me, besides the fact that I voted for The King of Comedy, is that this was considered such a huge flop at the time, even though it's obvious now how brilliant it was.

Maybe the best part about DeNiro's performance is how you just know there's a huge reservoir of anger and violence just under his eternal optimism. You know he's gonna snap, you just don't know when or how.

See the full results

07 February 2009

03 February 2009

Actor (Actress) in a Supporting Role

Something I spent a lot of time considering as I filled out my Muriels ballot this year:

If an actor in a role that isn't billed as the lead role (let's call him Heath) completely takes over the film, is he really a supporting actor? Isn't he then an Actor in a Leading Role? Doesn't that inherently go against the whole point?

To me, a supporting actor is one who makes everything and everyone else in the film better, not someone who dominates his or her scenes. This isn't basketball where coming off the bench and taking over is a virtue.

[edit] My girlfriend points out that she said pretty much the same thing 3 days ago at a bar. She's usually right (and when she isn't, it isn't worth pointing out).

St. Nick

Word in my email box yesterday is that David Lowery's St. Nick is an Official Selection of this year's SXSW in Austin, which is very cool. I'm hoping to get down there for the festival this year, if my checkbook will let me, but until then (and in leu of that if I don't), enjoy the first trailer.

ST. NICK trailer from ST NICK on Vimeo.