Define A Story
Monday, July 13, 2009
As you have deduced from my latest weepfest, we traveled up to college orientation recently. While we were there, the parents of the "film pending" students met with the Dean of the Film College.

He was a very nice man, but like most professors, he was, dare I say, a tad bit loquacious. I was acting all interested with my head nods and my eye contact and I was trying to act super intelligent, like I was getting everything he was rambling on about, with my, "Ah's" and emphatic "Yes's!" But really, it was all just one big crock of cow turds.

I can't speak for any of the other parents, but I wasn't too interested in Charlie Chaplin's approach to filmmaking or anything at all to do with the history of film. (I've been on The Great Movie Ride at Disney's Hollywood Studios about a zillion times, OK? I know all about film history, Buster!)

The thing is, we were overlapping into our allotted lunch time and my stomach was emitting sounds akin to the eruption of Mount Vesuvius. And honestly, I was only there to get the real scoop on what my daughter needs to do to snag one of the 30, that's right 30 coveted spots in Film School next year.

And I'm putting it out there, right now, for all to see: She is not above washing cars or babysitting children, free of charge, but that is where she draws the line, PERIOD.

She's my kid. She has morals.

She can also mow lawns, by the way, and walk dogs and cook. But, she can NOT clean houses. She's housecleaning challenged. In fact, a crippled, lobotomized coma patient would be a better housekeeper than her and all of her sisters put together.

But the main point our gabby professor reiterated over and over again, was that filmmaking is about the story. It always comes down to the story, not the special effects, not the action, not the stars, but the story. And in the selection process, the review board will be rating their portfolios according to their story because, and he said this with great emphasis, looking directly at me, "Everyone thinks they can write, but they CAN NOT."

I almost fainted on the spot. Did he hack into my computer and read my almost-ready novel? Has he been reading my blog? Was he trying to send me a not-so-secret message that I'm wasting my time and I need to go back to scrubbing toilets? I asked My Hubby at lunch, (finally), if he noticed the Dean's pointed eye contact with me and My Hubby said, YES, he did notice!

But then he went on to inform me that it was probably my shirt that was unbuttoned to mid navel, not my eyes that the Talky-Talk professor was locking in on. I looked down and yes, my shirt was bared open in a Victoria Beckham, "I can be a mom AND a slut" kind of style instead of a Carol Brady, "I can be a mom and wear a bouncy mullet shag" fashion. (Although, let me state for the record that I have more of a Victoria Beckham pixie haircut than a Carol Brady shag. I will also state for the record, that my pixie hair is the ONLY part of me, unfortunately, that I can legitimately compare with Victoria Beckham.)

I buttoned up quickly and hissed, "Why didn't you tell me?"

He just shrugged and said he figured I was trying to impress people.

Impress who? Other parents? The peppy orientation team made up of sophomores? College boys? Because, trust me, these babies have been through too much life to shock and awe young men, (well, maybe shock) no matter how raging their testosterone levels might be.

So, anywhoo, I've been dwelling on the whole, "filmmaking is about the story" ever since then. And as noble as the dean was trying to make it, I hate to break it to him, but I'm pretty sure Americans, as a movie watching whole, wouldn't agree.

Let's take My Hubby as a perfect example of Americana taste. My Hubby thinks all movie genres are encapsulated in the action-adventure scope of movies.

Now, we've been married a long time. Long enough for ME to be comfortable with the fact, that we don't have to spend our evenings together in front of the TV. On many a night, you're apt to find me, typing away, reading a book or watching a medical show on some poor sop's undiagnosed obscure disease. He can be found in another room watching a movie that involves car chases, bombs, heavy automatic weaponry, chicks in body fitting leather catsuits and/or aliens disguised as humans trying to take over the world, loaded down with the best special effects Hollywood budgets can afford. If all of those elements are combined together than you have what my Hubby would call, "One Kickass Killer Movie."

I've gone far beyond the days when I just wanted to make him happy by sitting through hours of the blowing up of things.

He, on the other hand, would be very content to have me next to him, whiling away the night, watching buildings getting bombed and people getting riddled with bullets as a happy action/adventure couple.

Often he tries to convince me that he's rented a movie "for me." Those are his words, "I rented one of those love stories you like."
Last week, the "love story" was this . . .
The only "love story" about this is my ardent love for Clive Owen and my burning desire that he become my boyfriend. Sadly, I know this will never come to pass, since I have come to resemble Carole Brady more than Victoria Beckham and since I am married... unfortunately, to a man who considers this sort of thing to be the ultimate in love stories.

Sigh . . . I desperately need an English accent in my life.

But even better yet, he also tried this gem, "I rented one of those historic movies you like." Handing me this epic of history . . .


Last night he said to me in his usual, wistful tone, "Wanna watch a movie with me? I rented one with you in mind."

"Really?" I deadpanned. "Is it a love story, a historical saga, or perhaps a documentary along the lines of The Fast and Furious?"

"No, this one's a mystery."

From there, our movie discussion segued into a full fledged argument, where I judged his movie tastes as "Neanderthal," "obnoxious", "periscopic," and "dumbass."

He, in turn, labeled my tastes as, "f#@*ing lame."

It is why we don't watch movies together.

He has tried to give me fair play . . .  kind of. We saw "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" in the movie theater. He spent the whole time sighing in my ear and muttering loudly, "How much longer are they gonna drag this out?"

If there had been a car bombing, I think it might have helped with the fidgeting.

I dragged him to the movies to see, "Sex and the City." I think he thought there'd be more sex and less girl talk. I also think he thought he'd be watching a lot more nudity of a different kind than a full frontal of a hot French guy.

In a climatic scene where Mr. Big is proposing to Carrie, my Hubby decided that was the perfect time to broadcast quite loudly to his Best Bud sitting next to us, "Hey, check it out. We're the only dudes in this place!"

When "Atonement" hit our mailbox, we settled into the couch for a night of couple movie watching. As soon as the first English accent, trilled out of the character's mouth, the hubby launched himself off the couch and said accusingly, "You didn't tell me there were English accents in this movie! I am outta here!"

I forced him to the theaters a few years back to see, "The Passion of Christ."

I got him to that one by using good, old-fashioned Catholic guilt, "You're gonna refuse Jesus? Is that what you're saying?"

That and the fact that a group of friends were going and cocktails were involved after the movie.

We got to the packed movie theater a little late and wedged in next to our friends. When the movie began, I leaned over and whispered, "Oh, I forgot to tell you, it's all subtitles. The movies in Aramaic."

He said in his non-whispery, loud as crap voice, "Arawho? You've got to be f#@&g kidding me! Are you telling me, I'm gonna have to read through this movie?"

I don't think Jesus would have done that.

To make a painfully, long story short, he ended up not sitting with me, because the woman on the other side of him smelled of cigarettes and b.o. and the mix of scents was making him sick. This, he declared as loudly as his complaint about being forced to read.

At the end of the movie we congregated in the lobby, all somber after viewing on the big screen in high- definition, the graphic crucifixion of our Messiah.

One of our friends piped up with, "Maybe we should just pass on the drinks. I'm not sure it's the most appropriate response after watching that."

In my head, I was thinking, "Really? Seriously? You know it's a movie, right? We weren't really there when they crucified our Lord." But, of course, I nodded along.

That is, until the Hubby strolled up, rubbing his hands together, as if he had not, just seconds before, witnessed the crucifixion of his Savior and announced, "Who's ready for some COCKTILES! I know I am!"

I'm betting that his family tree has a limb with Judas Iscariot's name carved into it.

He and I, our tastes run down two, very divergent paths and even though there are rare moments where we agree: "Sideways," "Raising Arizona," (Actually, anything involving the Coen Brothers, but RA is our favorite Coen masterpiece.) "Slumdog Millionare," "Godfather I and II but not 3," "Ferris Bueller's Day Off", "A Christmas Story" and a few, few others; for the most part, our secret to a long marriage has been separate TVs.

I will admit that his taste is much more mainstream. Look at any box office weekend. Action Adventure rules, drawing in the millions of dollars.

The mystery movie that he rented for "me" was "Knowing" with Nicholas Cage.

Ahhh, Nicholas, Nicholas what happened to you? I loved this gem of an actor who stole the show in the charming sleeper, "Valley Girl" and stole it again and again in movies like, "Peggy Sue Got Married," a downright fabulous tale.

He now seems to be stuck in dud movies and even worse hair plugs.

This movie was no exception.

I am going to do something I hate and IMDB you. I'll try to make it as brief and painless as possible.

Present times. A time capsule gets dug up at a school. It's filled with school kids' drawings and letters of what they thought life would be like in 50 years. The school kids of today open these letters and wouldn't you know it? The kid with the Dad who's a Professor of Science Crap at MIT gets the letter from the weird girl who heard voices in her head and wrote a page of nothing but numbers.

Of course, Professor Cage of the bad hair plugs, has recently lost his wife in a tragic hotel fire and is caring for his son all alone by drowning himself in alcohol. In a state of drunkenness, one night, he cracks the code, (always done when you're drunk off your ass) and realizes that the code is a dated history of tragic occurrences that have happened throughout the ages.

He then realizes there is one event left, coming up conveniently, in a couple of days. He tries to track down the weird girl from the 50's who wrote the code. She's already offed herself, but her daughter who also happens to be a single parent of a little girl is around. Coincidence? I think not.

Long story short, the single mom dies, the MIT professor realizes the sun is going to go crazy and kill them all in a couple of days and these aliens come for his kid and the other single parent lady's daughter. The aliens, known as The Whisperers, (really imaginative) tell Professor Hair Plugs, they're saving these two kids and ONLY the kids, so the girl and boy can grow up and procreate and fill the earth all back up, fresh and new. Everyone else is getting burned to a crisp, tomorrow.

Professor Hair Plug is down with that and the two kids get pulled into a spaceship with a couple of rabbits...that's right, rabbits. Professor Hair Plug waves goodbye and then goes and reunites with his estranged parents and sister, while massive mayhem is underway with the sun burning the mess out of everything and people running through the streets, screaming as they burn, completely forgetting their, Stop, Drop and Roll tactics. Der!

The folks ask him where their grandchild is and he smiles this crazy smile and is all, "He's safe." And they don't ask any questions as they all huddle together for this group hug and the sun burns them up and everything else on the planet in one impressive spectacle of special effects.

And as I sat there watching this, I thought, "How did someone pitch this with a straight face?"

I'm thinking storytelling isn't a prime factor in movies, nowadays.

I'm not going to dispute the Dean of Film. Who am I to define a story? But, I'm thinking I better start saving cardboard boxes.My girl's going to need a ton of them to build herself a spaceship to film.

Today's Dandy Dowload: Lisa Hannigan's "I Don't Know". Lisa was the ethereal voice you hear behind all of Damien Rice's acoustic songs of romantic angst. In a move that surprised his fans and Lisa herself, he fired her one night, as they were setting foot on stage in the midst of a concert tour.

She turned her misfortune into grace by whipping up a solo career and this lovely, Irish girl, (there's just something about the Irish and music), has shown the world who the real talent was in that twosome.

Artists, what a feisty bunch of pain in the asses! Ask my Hubby, (the one who hates subtitles for the reading). He's stuck with a struggling writer, a budding filmmaker and a wannabee drama queen. At least, the littlest has dreams of being a veterinarian, something concrete.

"Sea Sew" is a beautiful album and "I Don't Know" is a song full of the rhapsodic, solo voice of a girl more than deserving. Check it out, but don't check out the Nick Cage movie. You'll be sorry you did. I'm just sayin'.




2 comments:

Joe said...

Man, thats funny stuff. That holier then thou professor has not seen a lot of movies because correct me if I am wrong but many movies these days suck! I don't know what sucks more the actors or the stories...I guess that's why we get blessed with these retreads like Star Trek and yes, even though I am a huge fan of robots, Terminator. These re-do's are killing Hollywood. The economy and free down loading is not doing the job it is a lack of creativity!

Natalie said...

Great fun, entertainment AND insights on your 25-year marriage! I like the courage you display with your "voice." Tell it like it is baby!

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