Trying to will a world into existence

From James Cameron’s introduction to an early scriptment of Strange Days:

At the beginning of any writing project is the agonizing period in which nebulous ideas dance before the mind’s eye like memories of a dream, and vaporous vague shapes take on human form and begin to answer to their names.

Trying to will a world into existence. I circle around it, nibbling at the edges, writing notes about the social infrastructure and expounding to no one in particular about the themes of the thing.

Then slowly a change happens. Without warning, it becomes easier to write a scene than to write notes about the scene. I start sticking words in the mouths of characters who are still mannequins, forcing them to move and to walk. Slowly their movements become more human.

The curve inflects upward, the pace increases. The characters begin to say things in their own words. By the end of this period I’m writing ten pages a day. The last day becomes endless, often stretching round the clock to the following noon. The curve becomes almost vertical as the thing seems to come alive. I become a witness only, a court reporter getting it down as fast as I can.


Wow. Is it possible that Michael Bay’s reputation could be… uh… transformed by his new film? A whole two thirds of the film went by before his trademark gratuitous slo-mo action shot!

It turned out to be a solid, popcorn-worthy action/comedy flick, with lots of amusing homage to the original Transformers. There was a smattering of gash dialogue, silly characterisation and the usual landslide of casual cultural imperialism, but I was able to suspend my gag-reflex for the most part.

John Tuturro plays a hilarious supporting role as an obnoxious bad guy, and here’s hoping Shia LaBeouf replaces Tom Cruise in everything. Even Katie Holmes. :-)

Ultimately, it’s a bunch of great big robots blowing shit up and crashing into each other… with a few mildly amusing humans along for the ride. Worth seeing on the big screen.

Speaking with customers

Today, Pipka came home with a story about a customer who was considering moving to a 100% Windows environment because he was merely unfamiliar with Linux.

Now, I wouldn’t recommend the strategy she used in the general case — in fact, I’d find it hard to recommend it under many circumstances at all — but here’s how she began her successful save today:

“Have you seen the film, Independence Day?”

Update: That’s not an IMDB or Wikipedia link… :-)

Spiderman 3

The doubt began when I saw three bad guys in one of the later Spiderman 3 trailers — Harry’s Green Goblin, the Sandman and Venom. How could they pack three bad guys into the one film and manage to establish worthwhile sympathy for them? How could they also include the arguably more interesting life struggles of Peter Parker, and reflect them craftily in the black-clad, nasty Spiderman alter ego?

Turns out they couldn’t.

As the credits rolled, there was an audible sigh of relief from a good chunk of the audience. While there were enjoyable parts of the film, it just didn’t keep the audience going through the entire two and a half hours.

As Pia and I walked home, we pondered how to split the story arc into two films (which could have been made in a similar way to the final two chapters of Lord of the Rings or Pirates of the Carribean), to add three dimensions to the bad guys, and improve the audience sympathy for all the characters.

So ultimately, that defines my five word review for Spiderman 3: It should’ve been two films.