Friday, July 10, 2009

I've Moved!

Hi all! I'm packing up and moving to a nice new home over at I'd love to have you visit! This blog will be sticking around for a while, but I'll be doing all future updates over at the new place, so stop on over if you feel so inclined (and I hope you do!).

Sunday, July 05, 2009

The Art of War: Act Two vs. the Screenwriter

(via i can read)

As my friend Joselyn so eloquently and amusingly expressed earlier this week, this screenwriting business is hard work. I am, once again, in the doldrums of Act Two. Whenever I get to Act Two, I suffer that common delusion that the time I've allotted to write is the perfect and absolutely necessary time to do laundry, clean the kitchen, bake, go to the grocery store, play with my dogs, or "do research" for various other projects. I am pleased to report that all of my clothes are now clean except for what I'm currently wearing.

Tonight I made my plea to Act Two on twitter, and Act Two seems to have listened -- at least for tonight. I got a perfectly acceptable seven pages done. My goal is to have this baby finished by the end of July at the very latest. It's completely doable. And it's necessary. I've got too many unpolished specs lying in wait and too many new ideas bouncing around in my brain. Averaging three pages a day is not too much to ask of myself, even during my busiest weeks.

And the truth is, if being a screenwriter is a priority in my life, then I need to treat it as such. In short, "Do your work. Don't be stupid." Besides, with my laundry done and my kitchen clean, Act Two is running out of battle tactics with which to distract me.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Moving Movies

Earlier this week, Julie Gray over at The Rouge Wave wrote a post about films that move you. You know the ones: they make your tears well up (or spill over), or they give you that tingling feeling, or that swelling sensation in your chest that makes you proud to be a human being. Roger Ebert calls it Elevation or Transcendence.

It's something I've felt in all of my 5-star films this year. It's not always a joyous feeling, mind you. Sometimes, it's as simple as the feeling of camaraderie with a character who's making a difficult decision. It doesn't feel good, but you're right there with them. So, with that being said, here's a shortlist (in no particular order) of movies that move me. What movies move you?

Joyeux Noël
This film tackles some pretty heavy subject matter. On one Christmas Eve during World War II, troops from three different countries (two were allies but not fond of each other; the third was Germany), called a truce, got to know one another as humans instead of soldiers.

* * *
Waking Ned Devine
This fun, little screwball comedy has one of the most heart-swelling moments I can remember seeing on film. Forced to give a eulogy on the spot for a dead man he didn't really know, the main character proceeds to instead deliver a tribute to his underappreciated best friend, who's sitting in the front row of the wake. The friend is moved, along with those attending; and we're all reminded to appreciate those who mean the most to us while they're here.

* * *
This is the story of a man learning that he is a worthwhile human being who deserves to be loved — not just by others, but also by himself. In the scene where Angela forces the man to look in the mirror and tell his reflection that he loves him, the man (understandably) feels incredibly silly. But Angela's not one to be trifled with, and she forces him to stick with it. What he's saying to himself eventually breaks through, both to him and to the audience.

* * *
This is the story of a man who's best friend is an invisible giant rabbit. Despite his ability to live a completely normal life with the exception of his best friend, everyone has pretty much given him up as insane. He knows this, accepts it, and it doesn't seem to bother him. It's a movie about accepting who we are and who others are. In the movie, Elwood delivers some words of wisdom imparted to him by his mother: "'In this world, Elwood, you must be oh so smart or oh so pleasant.' Well, for years I was smart. I recommend pleasant. You may quote me."

* * *
Dead Poets Society
I've already made my love for this movie perfectly clear here, so I won't expound further except to say this is the cream of the crop when it comes to the Inspiring Teacher genre, in my opinion.

* * *
This movie splits the crowd, critically speaking, but I adore it. There's a lot of thematic material, most of it linked to the concepts of success versus greatness. What do you do when the life you'd envisioned for yourself comes crashing down around you? What happens when, having striven for greatness, you find yourself in the midst of a fantastic failure? Is it better to play it safe to ensure success, or is it worth it to risk failure in order to achieve greatness? Well, as Drew puts it, "No true fiasco ever began as a quest for mere adequacy." It's a movie that inspires us to risk, to go all out, and to let the chips fall where they may.

* * *
Benny & Joon
This is the story of two oddballs who, despite the odds, find love and acceptance. In some of the same ways as Harvey, the movie also tackles the issue of the dignity we afford people who are different than we are. The moment when Johnny Depp as Sam swings in front of the window, bringing Joon out of her funk — and inspiring her to believe in herself again — is absolutely iconic.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Recap: 29 June 2009

So far, 2009 has been a pretty fantastic year for movies, in my opinion. Granted, that's speaking from a more indie-based scene than the average moviegoer. But it just goes to show you that, if you're not satisfied with the blockbusters out there, there are plenty of wonderful, smaller films for the choosing.

To put this in perspective, last year, I only had two five-star movies the entire year, and it's only June and I already have 5 (those are Star Trek, The Brothers Bloom, Up, Easy Virtue, and Away We Go).

What I Watched
  • Some Kind of Wonderful (4 stars): I can't believe I'd never heard of this movie until Gigi's mention of it in He's Just Not That Into You. My sister and I love that movie, so, of course, we had to check this one out, too. And it was funny and charming and sweet without being too saccharine. I think it's pretty underrated as far as '80s romcoms go.
  • Away We Go (5 stars): I was really interested to see what Sam Mendes could do with a quirky comedy/dramedy that tackles some of the same themes as a couple of his other films, the much darker American Beauty and entirely depressing Revolutionary Road. As much as I love American Beauty, I'm thinking maybe he should stick to this sort of thing. It was absolutely wonderful. If I thought I was in love with John Krasinski before, I most certainly am now. And Maya Rudolph was beautiful and complex and, well, just great. I'd recommend making an effort to check this one out, folks.
  • Hope Springs (3 stars): Sister and I needed a Colin Firth fix, so we picked this little-seen romcom from 2003. It wasn't bad, wasn't great. Firth was absolutely charming, though, as we expected. Interestingly enough, this movie is based on a book by the same author who wrote the book upon which The Graduate was based. A little trivia for you there.
Other Goings-On
Joselyn and I are likely going to participate in the 48-Hour Film Project, which is happening the last weekend in July. We haven't yet decided whether to join a team or to try and form one of our own. So, if you're in the Kansas City area and would be interested in joining our dynamic duo for one crazy weekend of filmmaking, drop me a comment or shoot me an e-mail at izzi [dot] ditty [at] gmail [dot] com.

Have a lovely week, everyone!

Friday, June 26, 2009

The True Story of the Gingerbread Man

So, I've been taking this children's book class, right? Well, in addition to what I'm working on with Kate, I'm also revising a story I wrote in the 4th grade. We were assigned the task of doing our own version of classic fairytales, and, inspired by The True Story of the Three Little Pigs.

I've scanned the complete book and posted it here for your viewing pleasure. I've even left the incomplete "About the Author" page and the back cover with little snippets of reviews. Enjoy.

(Also, that's going to be the future location of my blog, so, if anyone has any good tips on how to migrate from blogger to wordpress without ripping your hair out, I'd appreciate you sharing them!)

Monday, June 22, 2009

Recap: 22 June 2009

Not too much to cover today, but here goes anyway.

What I Watched
  • Adaptation. (4 stars): I'd watched this a number of years ago and totally didn't get it. At all. I was urged by a friend (Writer-Nurse-Student-Comedienne-Extraordinaire, Joselyn) to give it another shot. I did. And I loved it this time. Maybe it's the whole, now I'm an aspiring artist bit, but I thought it was hilarious and sweet and par-for-the-course-Kaufman-style-crazy.
  • Easy Virtue (5 stars): Seeing this on the big screen instead of a dinky computer monitor has caused me to up my star assessment. I adore this movie. It's sort of Meet the Parents meets Farce of BBC Films. Everything about it is gorgeous (the cinematography, the scenery, the sets, the music, the actors and actresses), except the characters' psyches, which makes them entirely interesting. It's a dark, dry comedy with some dramatic twists along the way, but it's packaged a charming and wacky box that you leave feeling energized rather than moody. Or at least I did. Anyway, point is, this is one worth putting a little extra effort into seeing. Besides, a trip out to your local indie/arthouse theatre is good for the soul.
  • The Proposal (3½ stars): This romcom is pretty standard, but still enjoyable. It serves up a lot of typical clichés, but it also adds a little biting wit you don't often see in these sorts of typical fare. Honestly, without the casting of Ryan Reynolds and Sandra Bullock, I think this film would have had a hard time ekeing out that extra ½ star. But, as it is, the two leads' chemistry makes the film work much better than it would have otherwise.

What I'm Writing

My sister and I started a children's book class last week, which was pretty interesting. I've got an old idea I actually wrote in the 4th grade that I was planning on using as my workshop piece. But then my Sister the Artiste was having trouble coming up with a narrative. She knew the sorts of images she was interested in doing, so I started thinking along those lines and managed to come up with an idea for a story. I wrote it out the next day, and she liked it. So I guess we're going with that now.

In a way, children's books and screenwriting (and graphic novels/comics, I'd imagine) are sort of like distant cousins. Both deal with using words to evoke images that eventually manifest either on screen or on the page of a book. Both require attention to pacing, to the rhythm of language in regards to a scene. I may post some images here once we have them and if my Sister the Artiste gives permission, of course.

Beyond that, I'm working on a dark comedy script called 'TIL DEATH PARTS US while still trying to work out the story for the doppelgänger script. I had a potential breakthrough of sorts on that one during my morning drive today. Hopefully my subconscious will continue working on it while I'm focused on TDPU. It's much easier when the muses do the work for me. :-)

That's all for now, folks. Have a lovely week!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Recap: 16 June 2009 + Good news!

Wow, has it really been two-plus weeks since I've done a post? Sorry about that! I've been on vacation the past eight days, but now I'm back in the saddle (literally starting Sunday).

What I Watched
  • The Hangover (4 stars): This movie is, in my opinion, what Pineapple Express should have been. It was hilarious and outrageous, and my sister and I both had a fantastic time. It's surprisingly tame as far as sex and nudity goes until the closing credits. What really makes the movie work beyond the gags and jokes and shock-value moments is the fact that the movie has heart. In the end, it's really a story of four guys who care a lot about one another; it's just wrapped in the most ridiculous and loud package ever.
  • His Girl Friday (3½ stars): This movie starts as a fairly typical screwball comedy but evolves into something that tackles some fairly serious subject matter before ending up back in screwball. And it works pretty well. Rosalind Russell and Cary Grant shine, as would be expected. This was apparently one of the first movies where actors talked over one another in order to better mimic natural speech. The technique might have been used a little excessively, but watching Russell and Grant spar was still fun.
  • I Love You to Death (3 stars): This is a dark comedy starring Kevin Kline as a philandering Italian husband who finally gets caught cheating by his wife. His wife proceeds to try to kill him, but things do not go according to plan. This wasn't a fantastic movie, but Kevin Kline as an over-the-top first-gen Italian New Yorker was pretty hilarious. Worth checking out if you're in the mood for something silly and/or Kevin Kline.
  • Benny & Joon (5 stars): I adore this movie. Seriously. So, so, so much. Sweet, funny, heartwrenching at times, and, ultimately, completely and utterly heartwarming. Johnny Depp, per usual, is fantastic, and Mary Stuart Masterson and Aidan Quinn are also great. I can't believe this has a below-7 rating on IMDB. Highly, highly underrated, and equally recommended by me.
  • December Boys (3 stars): Full disclosure: I watched this on a smaller-than-I'm-used-to TV with mediocre-at-best sound in a condo with plenty of distractions. That being said, the movie didn't really do much to keep my attention. The exception being when Daniel Radcliffe was on screen, and I don't mean that in a cradle-robbing sort of way. The kid gives a very good performance, and his character struck me as by far the most interesting. I think the main problem was that there were just too many different storylines to keep track of in the movie; perhaps it would have made a better miniseries.

What I Read
I finished The Romance Readers' Book Club. I don't like to do negative reviews of books (or of movies, really) because who's to say what someone else will enjoy? That being said, I didn't really like it, but I'd never tell anyone NOT to read a book. I'll leave it at that; if you want more details on my opinion, you can ask me in a more private forum. :-)

I left American Gods at the condo when we went on my sister's college visit, so I picked up The Undomestic Goddess by Sophie Kinsella (author of the Confessions of a Shopaholic series) at a Target for the drive back. It was a frothy, delightful and quick read, perfect for the beach or a summer's afternoon or a day when you just need to focus on something not-so-serious for a while.

The Good News
Last night, after trying very hard all day not to think (i.e., worry) about the BlueCat quarterfinalists being posted, I finally allowed myself to pull up the Web site around 10:15 p.m. only to find that the results had not been posted. My muse at that point started laughing at me because I was supposed to be touching up my outline for the screenplay I'm starting today.

So, I trudged back to my outline and did a few lines, but, about 15 minutes later, I could take it no longer and pulled up the site again. This time, the results were up. In reaction, I immediately tensed, and then I told myself it didn't matter whether I was on that list or not because it doesn't change what I do next, which is keep working.

So, after several nervous, catch-my-breath pauses whilst scrolling down the list, I finally came to the Ms, and then to the Mos, and then to the Mus. I took a deep breath, and then I moved my scroll wheel one more click. There it was! "Mute by Elizabeth Ditty."

After jumping around (and removing the last bit of water from my ear from swimming laps earlier), I called my family and told them the news, to which they replied, "We didn't understand you. Less squealy." So I told them again, and they were pleased for me. So, that's the good news. And, in case you couldn't tell, I'm pretty excited about it.