Derry, Northern Ireland

Derry, Northern Ireland
A book I'm working on is set in this town.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

I don't like Quentin Tarantino's movies...

They don't stay true to their stories or characters (or reality), but love to make riffs for the sake of riffs and have this faux nihilism in them that most people seem to buy. But I will say this -- he made one very astute observation when he said, "I didn't go to film school, I went to films."

Don't get me wrong, his dialogue can be very sharp and good, at times. And he does come up with interesting moments...some of them even Michael Madsen's dance in "Reservoir Dogs", as he's prepping to torch a captive cop. Anyone who can come up with a moment like that in his first film is worth paying attention to. He took an easy out for the ending of the scene, but it made sense in the context.
Anyway,  I harkened to his advice and watched the 1940 version of Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice" for the umpteenth time. It's based partly on a hideous stage adaptation that I tried to read, once, but the second the daughters were dropped from 5 to 3, I dropped it. This script, however, is absolutely elegant.

Laurence Olivier is a beautifully condescending Darcy; Greer Garson is sharp as Elizabeth, but while she gives the line readings a nice polish, she's a good 10 years too old for the part. Of course, the purists don't like it because it's done in a Victorian style of dress instead of the Empire style, and the story is compressed with some characters never being seen -- like Darcy's sister, Georgiana. They also think Lady Catherine is dealt with too nicely.

I think it's fantastic because it's true to the tone of the book and the interactions of the characters, more-so than any other adaptation, including the BBC one, with a rather dour Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle (trivia note: they worked together, again, in one scene of "The King's Speech", another movie I recently re-watched...and still dislike the directing in...but the script did deserve the Oscar).

This time I focused on how everything fit together...dialogue, staging, direction...and it was a true education. From the first scene, Elizabeth and Jane are connected to Darcy and Bingley. And watch the interplay and camera movements during Elizabeth's first dance with Wickham; she can already tell he's up to something, but she puts it aside, moments later, when Darcy insults the man. Throughout the film, the director, Robert Z. Leonard, sets up his shots and moves in such a way as to keep emphasizing Darcy with Elizabeth and Jane with Bingley and Lydia with Wickham, all without it being obvious. It's amazing.

Of course, a lot of that came from the script, which was partially written by Aldous Huxley...and the intelligence of it shows. It's like with "Shakespeare in Love" -- that one worked because of Tom Stoppard's involvement; Marc Norman had none of the ability to turn out something so intelligent, at least, not based on his previous scripts (of course, that didn't keep him from hogging the credit at the Oscars).

This is what I need to help make "The Alice '65" better. I input 44 pages of changes, today...while changing my changes and adding notes to later pages to remember things. By the time I get done, it will be close to a page one rewrite. Not structurally; I think that's pretty good (except for the couple of bits I redid). And Casey's getting clearer, as is Patricia. Making her Casey's manager helped a lot.

Oh, Orisi's gotten sharper, too. His little speech about "the Orisi Man" is now a bit longer but is also clearer and comes at the end of his first scene with Adam, as if to assert his authority over the poor guy.

I'm back to having fun with the script; I like that.

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