Archive for November 2006

Movie Diaries 17

November 18, 2006

What to do, what to do…

As a movie-director hopeful, I’ve been working a little with the writer of The Movie (yeah, that movie), trying to pare down what was a hopelessly convoluted mish-mash of plotlines and desperate reachings for character connections and little bits of history that should tie it all together, and never. Quite. Succeed.

A sixteenth century murderess, along with one of her complicitous maids, manages to find a way to live forever by bathing in the blood of the local village maidens, and, somehow, drags her maid along for the ride. Sometime around 18-somethin’somethin’, she arrives in Excelsior Springs and meets up with Jack the Ripper, who is disguised as a respectable town doctor, and the two plot to take over the world.

Somewhere along the way, we find out that she’s tied in with a group that dates to the time of Akhenaten, the Heretic Pharaoh. We guess that she chose Excelsior Springs because of all the Mayan decorating touches, and we all know that the Mayans and the Ancient Egyptians were, like, Spiritual Brothers and all that. Besides, rural Missouri is where all villains SHOULD have their headquarters, right? Centrally located with beautiful scenery, and really good barbeque restaurant right down the street. It’s ideal.

What does she plan to do once she’s taken over the world? As Murphy observed, maybe she and Jack plan to open an ice cream parlor and offer some interesting “Flavors of the Day.”

Oh, but that’s not all. No, not by a long shot.

Seems she’s not the real Bad Guy at all. THAT’s someone else entirely, and she’s just a pawn of this big guy with a manicure, a black suit and a reasonably good Romanian accent. His goal? Open a portal to the Big Somethin’R’Other and let through an Avatar. What’s an avatar, and why does he want one? For the same reason I want a hi-def TV I suppose…maybe they’re fun to watch.

Fighting this organization almost since it started, much like environmentalists and Starbucks, is another group, The Good Guys. What makes them interesting is…um…I mean, they…and then we…well, they’re The Good Guys and we’re supposed to root for them.

Both groups, being nearly as old as Very Old Things, are very very rich with all the resources several thousand years of accumulating stuff (hi-def tvs, for instance) can get you. That is, except The Good Guys who have exhausted all of their resources fighting The Bad Guys in what is now an all out war.

The evidence of the war? A phone call saying, “There’s a war.”

The final hope for mankind and future phone traffic? An audio engineer, a retired police detective, an amnesiac, and The Outlaw Josey Wales.

Along the way through their journey, we find out that The Good Guys have connections to The Knights Templar; the Masons; Frank and Jesse James; Ben Franklin and about two-thirds of the Founding Fathers; Colonel Sanders; and the original Broadway cast of Cats. The source of all this info? A diary hidden in a Mayan face sculpted into the side of a hill that, in spite of being a hundred yards from the town main street and easily visible from a major resort hotel, is never discovered in one hundred fifty years of local economic development.

Oh, damn. How could I forget The Other Bad Guys, or rather, the Sort of Bad Guys? A government agency – assuming US government, but you never know: the other possibility is Mossad – that dresses all its agents like Jake and Elwood and whose sole purpose is to gather all the artifacts (oh, yeah, there are artifacts) before The Good Guys get to them. To save the world? Well, maaaaaybe. Their only real use in the plot is to get in the way of The Good Guys, and abandon one of their own to provide a love interest for the radio engineer in movie two, like any audience is going to believe a radio engineer has a love interest. Pfftt…right.

Somewhere in there, we need to shoehorn a couple of ancient Jewish relics, too, needed to fight evil. I mean, we all KNOW the Jews and Mayans were bitter enemies, don’t we? Did I sleep through that class?

Plot holes? A few. Missed opportunities? One or two. It was planned that there would be four movies to explain it all. Movie One was never finished, and sits, mostly raw footage, on a shelf in BF, Kansas.

So, while it looks like perfect opportunity to fix something broken, it is not. The man largely responsible for this mess who is the supposed owner of it clutches it protectively to his breast like Norman Bates with the corpse of his mother, and his take on it is that if HE can’t finish it, then no man shall.

Isabeau, are you listening? Except in this case, Msr. Le Directeur isn’t threatening shapeshifting by the light of the moon…he’ll just sue. The bishop might have gone far with that, come to think of it.

However, there is a seed here. A much reduced story, with fewer plot points, simpler motivations, and one focus. Pick a character, any character, swirl the story around her (or him), reduce the villain count to one or two, make your monsters and demons a little less obvious – in other words, leave the red spray paint at home – and … I dunno … write dialog.