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Category Archives: Movies

3 Movie Plots That Would Have Changed Due to a Government Shutdown

Jurassic Park

John Hammond, Ellie Satler, and Ian Malcolm rushed to the control room, searching for chief engineer Ray Arnold. “If we can find Ray, we can get him to reboot the whole system and get the electric fences working across the island,” said John, panting slightly as he ran. “Then everything will be just fine.” He wondered to himself if it would, though. What a horrible turn this adventure had taken! Who could have predicted that populating an island with cloned carnivorous dinosaurs would result in bloodshed, though?

The trio reached the control room, and Ian threw open the door. They all gasped when they saw that the room was empty. “Look,” Ellie said quietly. “There’s a sticky note on Ray’s computer.”

Ian picked up the note and read it aloud. “’Took the last helicopter home. I was told to leave because all national parks are being shut down and employees will not be paid. Love, Ray.’”

“Blast!” John said. “I forgot about the government shutdown. If only—“

“Wait,” Ellie interrupted. “Are you saying that Jurassic Park is a US national park?”

“Well, yes,” John said. “You see, first it was my property, then Disney bought it for awhile and it all got very complicated, then the US government bought this land from them.”

“So… does that mean no one’s coming to get us off this island?” Ian asked. As he spoke, the group heard the unmistakable sound of a pack of velociraptors throwing themselves fervently at the control room door. “I guess no one told the dinosaurs about the government shutdown,” Ian said. He’d meant it as a timely, Jon Stewart-style joke, but given the circumstances it fell rather flat.

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5 Things Pop Culture Thinks Writers Do

So last month I started a job where I mostly get to blog all day (some of the blog posts I write are about DIY plumbing or trade shows in Vietnam, but still). I’m pretty excited about it because I’ve wanted to write professionally since roughly the age of 5, when I used to write sentence-long stories in crayon and force my family to listen to them. The job has more or less lived up to my expectations of what it’s like to be a writer. However, I’ve realized that my perception of being a writer has been somewhat skewed by the pop culture portrayal of writerly folks… and I’m pretty sure pop culture has led a lot of other people to have skewed ideas about what writers do as well. Here are 5 of my favorite pop culture representations of things that writers are supposed to get up to.

1. Stare forlornly at their typewriters.

Guilty parties: Moulin Rouge, The Great Gatsby, probably anything that Baz Luhrmann decides to direct in the future

In fairness, there have been studies showing that highly creative people have increased rates of bipolar and depression disorders, but come on, Hollywood– not every writer spends every day weeping salty artist tears onto their vintage typewriters while dabbing at their eyes with a croissant (maybe I’m remembering Moulin Rouge incorrectly, but I think that’s what Ewan MacGregor does). That wouldn’t be at all productive, especially in this modern age of not-entirely-water-resistant laptops.

2. Spend only a tiny fraction of their time actually writing.

Guilty parties: Sex and the City and…probably something else, but Sex and the City is the main offender

According to this trope, writers spend .5% of their time writing and 99.5% of the time going out on the town with their gal pals. I’m pretty sure Carrie Bradshaw must get paid about 10 grand per sex pun, because that’s the only way I can imagine she affords her lifestyle. Homegirl’s getting a lot of O’s in her paycheck (that was my attempt at a Carrie Bradshaw pun–can I have $10,000 for my efforts, please?).

3. Practice being a recluse.

Guilty parties: Girls, A Series of Unfortunate Events

Alright, maybe there’s some truth to this… I would probably be in danger of descending into recluse-dom if I was left to my own devices and didn’t have 4 (awesome) housemates and a boyfriend who watches the same TV shows I do. It’s all too easy to get sucked into a writing assignment, put your headphones in, and then start thinking you’re the phantom of the opera or something. This phantom of the opera fantasy becomes even more full-blown when you’re sitting on your bed in your darkened room with only the glow of your laptop illuminating your face (at least it does for me).

4. Retreat into a land of child-like whimsy.

Guilty parties: Midnight in Paris (to some extent), Finding Neverland

In the world of movie logic, if writers aren’t being tragic mopesacks, they’re being zany dreamers with imaginations that can’t be contained– or they’re being mopesacks who use their escapist fantasies to put a buffer between themselves and a reality they’d rather not deal with. But hey, it’s a trope that really gets you to empathize with the protagonist…or at least it works on me. I cried like a baby at the end of Finding Neverland. 

5. Descend slowly into madness.

Guilty parties: The Shining, Secret Window

Apparently only a deeply disturbed person with homicidal tendencies would ever choose a career that involves sitting quietly while forming words on a page all day. And according to pop culture, writers are just one key stroke away from letting the waves of crazy wash over them. Sometimes writers will just be depicted as mildly eccentric, or antisocial, or drunk, but movies like The Shining and Secret Window take the trope one step farther and depict writers as in need of some serious counseling…and in desperate need of being kept away from axes and baseball bats.

As an side note, I really enjoy all the movies and TV shows I referenced above (well, except maybe Sex and the City). I just also enjoy pointing out tropes.

If you’re interested in checking out more movies and TV shows about writers, here are a few good ones:

  • Spaced (TV)
  • Barton Fink (movie)
  • Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (book and movie)
  • 30 Rock (TV)

The 5 Stages of a Scary Movie: A Case Study featuring Insidious

Insidious

I pride myself on my ability to get through scary movies. I’ve been in training for years, ever since middle school when one of my friends started hosting an annual Halloween party where a bunch of teenage girls would gather in her basement and marathon our way through about five horror films. I had to fight back the fear-induced tears for those showings or else risk the whole eighth grade finding out I was scared of movies that are designed to frighten people. And when you’re 13, you can never live that kind of embarrassment down. Anyway, as an adult I’ve found myself well-equipped (read: desensitized) in the face of most horror movies, but every now and then one comes along that reduces me to a shaky, paranoid mess, ready to dive into the cowering stance of a startled meerkat at the first sign of peripheral movement. Insidious was one such movie. Below I have documented the reaction stages of an effective scary movie based on the recent experience of one of my housemates luring me into watching Insidious.

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Dwarf Parties, Sassy Gollum, and Hobbit Birthdays: Thoughts on the Latest Hobbit Trailer

In addition to being American Business Women’s Day, Dear Diary, and National Ice Cream Cone Day, yesterday (September 22nd) was also Hobbit Day. Unlike some other seemingly arbitrary holidays (I’m looking at you, National Ice Cream Cone Day), Hobbit Day specifically takes place on this date because it is the shared birthday of Bilbo and Frodo Baggins. I learned this after attending a hobbit party last night, which ended up being everything that a pop culture nerd could ask for. The party also served to remind me that there’s a new-ish trailer for Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit: Part 1, Sonnet 138, Long Day’s Journey Into Night (I’m assuming the full title is something like that), and that I have yet to write a Hobbit post for my blog, so I’ve decided that to honor Bilbo and Frodo, I’m going to do some good old-fashioned trailer analysis.

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5 Great Motivational Songs from Children’s Movies

As I mentioned in my previous post, I recently moved all the way from Washington state (aka the frozen north) to Texas (aka that place where you have to say “Yeehaw” and fire two pistols into the air every time you mention the Lone Star state by name). For me, one of the scariest parts of the move was learning how to drive on 75 mph highways and crowded freeways over the course of my 4 day road trip. You see, I’d previously only lived in towns where we traversed our dirt roads by mule-drawn cart, so adjusting to modern transportation systems was quite daunting. Therefore, to keep myself from losing heart as I practiced merging and attempted to overtake lumber trucks, I shakily sang to myself. And the songs I sang were those of the most inspirational, most emotionally-charged, most climb-to-the-top-of-a-mountain-and-rocket-into-space variety—songs from feel-good children’s movies.

(Note that when I call the following films “children’s movies”, I really just mean movies that are fun for the whole family. Or fun for single twentysomethings. Perhaps primarily fun for single twentysomethings.)

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My Rejected Scripts #2: Undercover Magic Cops

Dearest Studio Executives,

How are you? I hope all is well and that you are not too overwhelmed with work, although I imagine you are quite busy as you have not yet responded to my previous letter, regarding my proposal for a romantic comedy adaptation of The Metamorphosis, nor have you accepted my friend request on Facebook. Anyway, I wanted to get back to you because I have another idea for a script that I am tentatively calling Undercover Magic Cops.

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Check This Out: The Exquisite Corpse Project Trailer

I just ran across this trailer over at The Daily What and felt the need to share it because this is such a brilliant idea for a film project. For those not familiar with the concept behind the project, The Exquisite Corpse is a game where the first player writes the opening few sentences or paragraph (or I suppose more, if you’re really ambitious) of a story on a piece of paper, then folds the paper down so that only the last line is visible before passing it to the next player. The idea, then, is that one story is being created by a group of people, but that each contributor is only aware of a relatively small portion of the existing story before adding their own segment. The exercise was apparently popular with the Surrealists in the 1920s, which makes a lot of sense since you’re bound to get some pretty weird (and usually pretty funny) shit. Although I wouldn’t be surprised if this exercise has also become popular with film students, I haven’t heard of anyone actually making a movie based on an exquisite corpse story, so I’m excited to see how the Olde English Comedy troupe’s attempt plays out.