30 Laughs or Less

I recently saw “30 Minutes or Less” and what I really liked were the performances. I have been a mad Fred Ward fan ever since “Miami Blues”, and that movie is a good gauge of what “30 Minutes or Less” probably aspired to be. Like “Miami Blues”, “30 Minutes or Less” is anchored by strong performances. The cast, however, is chock full of comedians. Funny guys, too. I went to the movie just to see Aziz Ansari (and I’m writing this blog post to hopefully remember which is his first name, and which is his last).

The premise is dark, but the capricious manner in which the bad guys approach their task reminds me of similar characters on the animated TV show “Boondocks” in which a young man of privilege uses his wealth and life of leisure to pursue para-military hobbies, leading to mayhem.

The reviews I read mentioned that Aziz stole most of the scenes with his nervous manners and frantic delivery of lines, and they were right. He brought energy and enjoyment to the role. I wonder if the picture might have been better if Aziz wor. the strap-on, and Jesse Eisenberg provided the nervous, hyporchondriac-styled support.

The magic worked best for me when the two victims rob a bank, and the ensemble they encounter deliver several funny moments (but I’m a sucker for jokes in a business setting). I so thoroughly enjoyed the man in the bank who was shot that I really wanted to see the main character explode. That wish is almost granted in the end during the minor but gruesome blood bath of the climax. It was kind of like seducing a meat grinder: you may be held in suspense as whether or not you’re going to score, but there’s no doubt that the money-shot will be messy.

How to Format a Screenplay

Nothing earth shattering here, but a line to a fine online resource about formatting a screenplay.

Trilane.com makes their screenplay formatting reference available here.

I have read several books on the subject, and read a number of screenplays, but I still falter every once in a while, and my brain won’t let it go until I verify what is acceptable. I’m adding a montage to my current script, and I needed this page.

Bridesmaids Be Trippin’

I saw Bridesmaids and laughed a lot. It is chock full of funny bits. Ilt opens with fornicating and it was, by far, funnier fornicating than the fornicating in MacGruber. The vomiting was somewhere between “Animal House” and “The Exorcist”.  And the defecating scenes was funnier than the poop-in-your-pants scene in the “Sex and the City” movie.

I only see a few minor areas for improvement and I will preface them with explaining my authority for making any suggestions. I am working on a script and have struggled to correct the very same type of problems, and by expounding on them here I hope to better understand the struggle itself. I would not deign to criticize Kristen Wiig. I would  pay to watch her read the phonebook.

Kristen’s character is a failed baker of cakes, and I so very much wanted it to be one of her own cakes that poisoned the other women. Baking a poisonous cake tightens the connections between your characters, and heightens the intensity of emotions.

Steve Kaplan, among others, suggests that the hero should not be heroic, and Kristen got that right. A bunch of bad things happen to her, but only some of those things were done to benefit her cause. In fact, everything that happens to the main character in a comedy should be the direct result of that main character trying to accomplish their goal. So when Kristen’s character gets whacked out on the plane from valium and scotch, it would have been better had she taken them to achieve something else, rather than being victimized.

Melissa McCarthy’s Megan is a brilliant, comedic character, and draws her humor from being oblivious to the world as she pursues her own desires. As funny as Kristen and Maya are, Melissa was with them step for step.

Source Code–A Programmer’s Perspective

“Source Code” was a technology-based movie that successfully ducks every technical aspect of how the laws of nature were manipulated for the good of the story. And that’s just fine with me. I think “The Matrix” lost its soul in trying to explain it in the sequels. “Source Code” was closer to “Groundhog Day”, and rightfully so. Once I have accepted the fact that a certain eight minutes of time can be replayed, I am more intrigued by those possibilities than I am in the technology.

I was expecting a more cliche ending with an extra chase scene and some kind of a countdown to the bomb exploding, as happened in “Speed” but, thank goodness, it didn’t come. In fact, the ending is as gentle and caring for the audience as it was for the main character.

What if you could relive a moment in time, over and over again, using your brain to work out various possibilities, correct errors, and solve a problem. I do that most days with my own version of OCD that worries about the mistakes, slights, and social faux pas I commit and suffer in turn as I wander through my world. It’s awful. It takes all my focus to let those things go, and get on with life.

In spite of laughing at almost everything, I worry that others might take stuff too seriously, and plot revenge againts me. Well, maybe it’s not that bad. But to have the option of actually living a certain event over again, rather than just worry about it, would be a blessing.

I’d like to start with the dumb thing I said to the cute girl in the cafe at lunch today. It’s bad enough I’m a goof, but do I also have to be a dork?

Elvis and Annabelle — The Movie, Not the One-Man Show

Elvis and Annabelle is a cute, quirky film that is worth tracking down. It’s an indie that got made, most likely, because Joe Montegna liked the script, and wanted to play the pleasantly demented golfer whose son covers for him in their funeral parlor. It won some awards at the Newport Beach Film Festival.

Elvis, the son, feels trapped in his life, working in a decaying building in what seems to be a ghost town. The only glimmer of hope comes in the form of a beautiful but not quite dead corpse. The tension of the film turns on his odd habit of photographing the corpses, and the unlucky coincidence that he accidentally takes a picture of himself kissing Annabelle’s full and still-pouting lips.

Had she been blue and reeking of death, the picture wouldn’t have worked. Instead, it’s no weirder than Prince Charming locking lips with Sleeping Beauty who is laid to rest above ground in the forest, and guarded by seven bachelor dwarves.

Annabelle has a few annoying qualities, but the picture adds up in the end, and you should watch it if only to see Joe Montegna die in the muck.