Thursday, 30 April 2015

So Fetch Friday: A Post-Zombie Apocalypse

It's been a difficult week. My first week where I haven't had to worry about exams and it's tricky adjusting. I haven't had much room for writing. Every time I get ideas I'm in some situation where I can't write. When I finally get the chance to sit down and write, it starts to hurt. Makes it hard to work on scripts and short stories. I get ideas but have trouble organizing them. I wouldn't mind getting back into science fiction at some point. It's occurred to me that Saturn would be a really good setting for a science fiction story. The planet alone lends itself to some powerful descriptions, the only trouble is what kind of story could I put it into. I've already done a story with Venus, and another with the moon. I've also touched on Mars before. That still leaves Mercury and the four Jovian worlds. I should find something to do with those.

I finally managed to see Frozen. This was an unusual choice for me but everybody's been talking about it and I found it available through HBO on Demand so I figured why not see what all the fuss is about. I'm going to be honest here... I actually kinda enjoyed it. It's not your typical Disney fairy tale, which I would say is a good thing. In fact if anything Frozen spends a lot of time poking fun at all the absurdly common characteristics of fairy tales. My favorite would have to be how it deconstructed the classic cliché of love at first sight. I was pleasantly surprised when Elsa actually points out how foolish it was for Anna to literally be engaged to someone she just met, and it also helps that it demonstrated precisely why that isn't always such a good thing. Of course, that said, I'm still not sure I understand why the song Let it Go became such a huge hit compared to the numerous other songs in the film.

One thing that I somewhat foolishly did was buy a ticket to see The Age of Adaline. It sounded like an interesting premise and I really wanted to like it. Unfortunately, I couldn't get into it. There was a great idea for a premise but not much else. You'd be better off with a film like Orlando, a film which explores a similar idea (a woman who is unable to age and has to live through different time periods) far more effectively. The Age of Adaline started promising, with just the introduction of the titular character being compelling and setting her up as a strong lead, but then it seemed to go the route of Fifty Shades of Gray as soon as Ellis appeared.

Okay, maybe it's not as bad as 50 Shades of Gray, but the film tried to build Ellis up as a perfect romantic partner for Adaline except, to me at least, he ended up coming off more as a stalker. After all his first meeting with her is literally forcing his way into the elevator she's standing in to talk to her and then finding every excuse he can not to stop following her out of the building. He then goes on to track Adaline to her workplace and presses her into going on a date with him. He even goes behind Adaline's back to get her address and show up at her house. I think after that Adaline was right to walk away from him, but no, her daughter has to convince her that this guy is a "good man". I found nothing likable in this character, the first time I saw him I was pretty much hoping this wasn't the love interest. First Fifty Shades of Gray and now this. Why are we getting so many movies that try to depict a horrible person as the ideal romantic partner? If this was made in the 1950's maybe it would be somewhat understandable but shouldn't people already know better by 2015?

The other thing about The Age of Adaline: what was Harrison Ford doing in this movie? I get that money probably had a hand in his agreeing to working on The Age of Adaline and I'd imagine he was paid well for it, but was he really the filmmakers' best choice for the role? His character didn't really strike me as someone who should be played by a guy like Harrison Ford. I can understand him not wanting to be typecast as action heroes but he just really didn't seem to fit this character for some reason. Maybe it's just bad writing but he honestly felt out of place, and I feel like there should have been someone else cast here instead. In any case, I eventually found I just couldn't take The Age of Adaline anymore and ended up walking out in the middle of it.

I finally got to see the season finale of The Walking Dead. It was intense, and to be honest I sometimes wonder how much more of that show I'll be able to take. On the bright side, at least it ended on an optimistic note, or at least as optimistic as you can get on a show like this. Alexandria didn't get destroyed, which I guess is a good thing, and it looks like Deanna is finally starting to understand the severity of the situation. Some reconciliation is in order. The trouble with shows like this is that the bleak endings start to become predictable after a while. Every time some little glimmer of hope for humanity pops up, you know something is going to happen. When Eugene first showed up and we were told he had the cure I thought for sure something was off, since the show would never go the route of ending the zombie apocalypse.

The sad thing is I actually think that could have been an interesting twist on the zombie phenomenon. Maybe if I can ever get my touch for horror back, I could try writing a story based on the concept of a post-zombie apocalypse. The idea would be that it would begin just at the end of a zombie apocalypse, and with the characters successfully finding a cure or some other way of getting rid of the zombies. The twist would be that by this point society has broken down so much getting rid of the zombies doesn't make all that much of a difference. The heroes might no longer be in any immediate danger of being devoured by malevolent reanimated cadavers, but there would still be the far greater threat posed by other survivors.

On Game of Thrones we got some odd developments. Arya Stark is now living in the House of Black and White trying to become "nobody". Apparently this involves casting away every trace of her former identity (though she couldn't bring herself to lose Needle). It was weird seeing her suddenly in a dress. I'm also still not sure what is going to happen because I understood she was supposed to be going to the wall and now she's in this place instead. Meanwhile Sansa Stark has found herself locked into an engagement with Ramsay Snow, and just barely missed a reunion with Theon Greyjoy. On the other hand, there does seem to be a few peculiar components to Greyjoy's attitude. He seems to be listening in a lot more on conversations. Perhaps he is starting to break free of Ramsay's control?

 Tyrion finally got out of that "wheelhouse" and tried to find a sexual encounter, only to be surprised when he couldn't get pleasure in it. We've also encountered a familiar face that we haven't seen in a while: Jorah Mormont's back, if perhaps not in the most ideal way. We haven't seen this guy since part way into season 4, when Daenerys banished him after finding out he started serving her as a spy (in her defense, it would have been hard to confirm that Jorah had indeed changed sides and joined with her since then). Considering his whereabouts it looks like he didn't collect that pardon after all, and he kidnapped Tyrion. He told him that he was going to take him "to see the queen". The big question is which queen he is referring to? Daenerys seems like a logical choice, perhaps Jorah is hoping to bring Tyrion to her to regain her favor. However, I suppose it's possible that he is actually talking about Cersei Lannister (who did offer a price for anyone who successfully delivered him to her).

Meanwhile, things have gotten heated on Hannibal. Will Graham has started going through therapy with Hannibal again, but it doesn't seem to be so simple. In fact, for a while it almost seemed as though Will was himself starting to become a psychopath, who delightfully ate human flesh with his psychiatrist. He even went as far as to murder and then eat local ace reporter Freddie Lounds... except he didn't. It turns out Freddie's murder was staged (and done so well that it even had Alana Bloom convinced), and evidently someone else's corpse was used in her place. Will is actually trying to get evidence against Hannibal by acting as his patient, and so far has not been successful. Still, it looks like there might be a chance of getting Hannibal convicted, except of course from what I remember of Silence of the Lambs being incarcerated may have reduced his meals of human meat but did very little to end his status as a psychological threat.

The other thing that happened was I got to experience being on a real film set, or at least as real as one can get when working with practically no budget. I've mentioned this project before. It's a 10-15 minute short film currently titled Dead Inside, originating from a short script I wrote originally under the working title of Moving On. It's a strange surrealist film I wrote for a class about two years ago which combined the feelings of my disastrous college experience with watching a few too many David Lynch films. There's even a character who borrows heavily from the "Mystery Man" depicted in Lost Highway (though she appears to be a more benevolent figure), and we looked at the party scene from that film for inspiration.

I was getting a chance to work with experienced professionals who actually had some idea of what the were doing and I often found myself wishing I'd known people like these back when we were making movies in high school, where often I was the only person who had even the faintest idea of what I was doing (quite a few people didn't understand that there were other positions in filmmaking besides acting and directing, and everyone always wanted to be actors so I'd have to do everything else myself). I remember when we did that b-movie in my high Grade 12 film class and nobody listened to my advice on how we could actually make it good.

For this production, we had a three-day schedule, the film being shot over the weekend. There were some disagreements on precisely how to execute each scene, but we worked through them okay. I can't give out names just yet, but the actress we got to play the lead was really good, and very much what I'd envisioned for the part when I first wrote the script. We got along really well. Her co-star was also really good, and I got to spend some time helping her get into character, even in putting together her costume (she even changed part of it from the director's intentions to fit better with my original script). We had some interesting discussions as well about writing.

My role in this production was mainly as a consultant. I left the specific technical choices to the professionals, but offered advice on how each scene should play out and the general tone. I also had some advice in terms of costuming but ultimately it was up to our costuming expert to get that done. She was also very good at what she did. I was present for the shooting of all but one scene, and that was only due to timing and the specifics of it: it was to be shot at 10:00 PM and inside a car, I figured I'd be getting in the way. I also got to play an extra in several scenes, perhaps when the film comes out you can try and spot me the same way 1950's audiences always tried to spot Alfred Hitchcock's cameo when watching his movies. Admittedly it was stressful, mainly due to the long hours and uncertain duration of shooting, but at the same time it was really exciting.

So there's been a few things going on this week. I'm also hoping to get back into making some LEGO animated films at some point, but first there's a whole bunch of software problems to be resolved. Hopefully that will all get worked out okay, and maybe one of these days I'll even be able to do some more writing, which has proven to be very difficult.

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  1. Everything you said about Frozen is 100% spot on, which is why I loved it so much. I feel like the only reason the film garners any hate is because it's so popular. Before it became an unavoidable thing, critics and bloggers were singing it's praises. Then it was EVERYWHERE and people are sick of it. I get that, sort of. I mean, I have two little girls who were OBSESSED (still kind of are) and so I'm used to it, and it makes them happy so I'm happy...but I can see how the way it basically took over the world could turn people off. It's sad though, because like you really makes a point of being un-Disney in a lot of ways.

    1. It wouldn't be the first time something like that happened. In the case of Frozen, I'd suspect that Disney's marketing didn't help much. I mean they added it to their "Princess" franchise, which is probably the #1 thing responsible for giving the company a bad name, with its degenerating of even Disney's strongest female characters into stereotypes often completely missing the point of the films they drew from (look what they did to Mulan, for instance). You're right about it being EVERYWHERE, and usually on products aimed towards little girls, which gives so many wrong impressions. What Disney marketing needs to start doing, if anything, is making products that actually respect the films they're drawing from and perhaps try to make it clear that there is nothing wrong with boys liking princesses too.

  2. I gotta say, for me, the reindeer and 'Let It Go' were the best things about Frozen. My friend and I were discussing the film only today. We're both die hard fans of the classics. What irritated and infuritated me about the film was the fact there is no villain. That's a major lose. The Snow Queem, or Elsa or whatever could have been a magnificent villain. I felt robbed. I like 'Let It Go' mostly because of Indina Menzel's voice to be fair. Also Age of Adaline, so glad I read this as I was half thinking of seeing it, my friend too, dodged a bullet there.

    1. Well, I often warn people about bad movies, but there's two kinds that have to warn people about. Usually I warn people to stay away from to spare them the pain I endured sitting through it (which often go unheeded), but sometimes I end up finding a movie that I have to warn people about because they shouldn't be spending their money on it and thus encouraging Hollywood to keep making films like it (it's the same reason I refuse to watch firefighter movies unless they have a strong female firefighter in the lead). It's a shame really, because The Age of Adaline had some potential, with an interesting character who was set up to be a strong lead, as well as some other peculiar moments (Adaline interacting with a daughter who looks decades older than her). If they hadn't brought in Ellis maybe it could have worked.

      I thought it was interesting that Frozen didn't have a clearly defined villain, or at least not a central one, as it typical of a lot of other Disney films. The fact that the conflict was primarily in the relationship between the two sisters and there wasn't much or a romance was a nice change. I also don't hate 'Let it Go', I'm just not sure I understand why it was that song in particular that ended up being the standout.

  3. Frozen is on my to-watch list. I'm always missing it and hope to check it out this summer, and see why it's so popular.

    I was hoping Age of Adaline would've been a better Time Traveler's Wife. Not going to lie that the love interest was a big draw for me. It sucks that he sounds like a creepy stalker though!

    1. Well, you probably wouldn't have guessed it from the trailers or plot description, but that's basically the vibe he has from the moment he appears.