|Click on this cast photo for a link to the program website!|
Saturday, March 16, 2013
Wednesday, April 20, 2011
4. There were moments where lines, lifted almost exactly from the book, were delivered awkwardly, as if the actors were reading them aloud in a literature class.
Jane Eyre 2006 (Ruth Wilson)
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Er...I'm trying to think of some clever way to end this post, but all my ideas are sort of trite. Another "All hail the BBC?" Another apology for posting on Doctor Who again? Mostly, I'm just wondering why I feel the need to start so many posts with "So." I think it's some leftover Anglo-Saxon impulse. Perhaps I should switch to "Hwaet" whenever I want to say "So."
Monday, February 9, 2009
I have a low-grade addiction to the program, meaning that I subscribe to the podcasts and they collect in my iTunes folder until I get sick and decide to listen to them, at which point I learn many, many cool things and wonder why I don't listen to them more often.
This week's program is about the Brothers Grimm, so I thought it might be of interest to the mythopoetic among us. I might even listen to it soon, even though I'm completely healthy!! You can download the program for free from iTunes, or you can go to the program website and click on "Listen to the latest edition." You can also browse around the archives, which is good fun.
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
"My advice to Titania and Oberon? Leave the forest. It's this place. It gets into your head. I mean, all this nature...it's not natural, is it?" (Puck)
"If you don't get it right, I'm going to turn you into a novelty key chain." (Oberon to Puck, of course)
A Misummer Night's Dream, written by Peter Bowker; starring Bill Paterson, Imelda Staunton, and Johnny Vegas
Much Ado About Nothing, written by David Nicholls; starring Sara Parish, Damian Lewis, and Billie Piper
Macbeth, written by Peter Moffat; starring James McAvoy and Keeley Hawes
The Taming of the Shrew, written by Sally Wainwright; starring Rufus Sewell, Shirley Henderson, and Stephen Tompkinson.
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
From the treasure trove at Den of Geek, Here's an interview with James Moran, another screenwriter, on the joys and perils of screen-writing. Moran has written for such sci-fi gems as Torchwood and Primeval, but to be honest, what makes him cooler than most of us is that he wrote the Pompeii episode in Series 4 of Doctor Who.
Be warned: he does occasionally talk about things like how hard it was to get to the screen, which is not what this blog is for. So, if you feel that may depress you, no one will judge you if you do not read the interview.
Wednesday, January 7, 2009
However, if you visit the PBS website here, you'll find a link to an online conversation with the screenwriter, David Nicholls, at barnesandnoble.com. He is answering questions about the issues involved in screenwriting (particularly, adapting classics) until January 12. This is something that does interest me intensely, and I'd highly recommend checking it out.
Nicholls (IMDB profile here) also penned an extremely deft modern retelling of Much Ado About Nothing for the Beeb in 2005, as well as the quirky Starter for 10 starring James McAvoy.
Friday, September 5, 2008
Last night I watched the 2000 BBC adaptation of Lorna Doone, and it has fired my soul with a single desire: namely, never to read Lorna Doone. I realize it's a beloved book of many, and the film had many good qualities. These include:
- The presence of the fanstastically named Honeysuckle Weeks (of Foyle's War fame) as John Ridd's sister;
- Barbara Flynn turning in a performance way too good for the whole project;
- Michael Kitchen in a Restoration-era wig;
- Jesse Spencer (Chase from House) with powdered face; and
- A valiant attempt by the villain to escape the whole ridiculous film via a pit of quicksand.
- Oh, and swashbuckling. Gotta love swashbuckling.
I'm posting about it, though, because it actually got me thinking about character. Specifically, how to write decent ones.
My main quarrel with the film is that the characters were inconsistent, and I couldn't figure out their motivations. This is fatal in a story that purports to be about deep-seated jealousies and hatred. Nothing was deep-seated for these people. I don't blame the screenwriter, Adrian Hodges, for this, as it seems to be more or less the structure of R.D. Blackmore's book that these people have very short attention spans.
At the beginning of the movie, the whole problem with a relationship between John and Lorna is that he's a Ridd and she's a Doone (i.e., Oh noes! Montagues and Capulets!). However, John shows almost no struggle in getting over this obstacle, and he's not like Romeo, detached from his family feud. Instead, he's filled with hate and at the heart of it...until he realizes that apparently, Doones can be pretty, and all the visceral hatred goes out the window.
Then, halfway through, we find out that ***SPOILER ALERT*** she's not a Doone after all! However, I can't help feeling that really, this would cause very little change in her familial feelings. They would get more complicated, but she would still feel like a Doone. Well, you would think so, but it is not so, my friends. In a moment that reminded me strongly of the end of Arsenic and Old Lace ("Elaine! Elaine! I'm the son of a sea cook!") she pretty much just said "SWEET!" and got on with her life.
Unfortunately, we still had a lot of story to get through, so the tensions then had to come from elsewhere, and they came from similar about-faces from characters who formerly had held onto certain principles for dear life. For example, the maid who was all smiles about Lorna and John earlier suddenly decides that her precious mistress can't marry a farmer.
The villain similarly had very obscure motivations. I'm sure the actor, Aiden Gillen, had a clear idea of his character, but the story sure didn't. Was he just a punk? Was he power-mad? Was he obsessed with Lorna? Did he love the Doone Valley? The movie offered all of these explanations, but none of them were particularly convincing. He just seemed to be a Bad Man. And I'm afraid his final demise had me in stitches...sorry...but he looked just like Tony Shalhoub at the end of The Imposters.
OK, I'm cheap-shotting a lot at easy targets, but this kind of inconsistency in character is much more common than you might think. I was ultimately highly unimpressed with what I saw of Season 1 of Heroes, because I felt that the scripts had many of the same problems. Take Milo Ventimiglia's character and his love interest: her father is dying, and she's making eyes at his nurse?? Her father's death was just a script vehicle to get the pretty faces together. Likewise, Ali Larter's character wakes up in a room spattered with blood and corpses, and in the very next scene, she's calling her son, saying tranquilly, "I'll be home soon, sweetheart." Where was the residual horror about her situation?
I'm just noticing a lot lately how often characters are just cardboard cutouts for the writers to walk through their outlandish situations. They're collections of quirks and qualities (this one has a really deep voice and a lot of anger; this one is addicted to painkillers; this one works in an art museum and is kind of funky), but they don't respond consistently to the events in their "lives."
This is why I have nothing but the deepest respect for Russell T Davies and Doctor Who, because the characters are, by and large, consistent (please enjoy the photo of Donna's character standing up to deep scrutiny). Even when the story's getting weird, he always remembers what his characters hold most dear, what they would think of first and foremost. Hence, we get the continual family theme in Rose's stories, and almost all the episodes in Series 2 comment in some veiled way on the sacrifices Rose and the Doctor will make for each other.
This is also why my favorite character in Lorna Doone was Anthony Calf's: Tom, the Reformed Highwayman. He actually responded to things consistently, didn't undergo any total metamorphoses. He was a criminal; decided to change his life; fell off the wagon; came back. He had much more consistency than anyone else in the whole thing.
Still, on general principle: ALL HAIL THE BBC! Even when they're not so great, they give me something to think about. And I don't mean to suggest that creating characters is easy: the fact that some of the most lauded shows in the business have trouble with it should tell you that it's hard. But absolutely worth doing!
To read more about why Daedalus Notes exists, click here.