Well, that was a long, no good, absolutely shitty month of this insanely strange year. I feel like I'm six years older than I was in May. But I did see some good movies, so I guess that's one nice thing. Okay! Five new (or new to me) movies I want to recommend! (And if any of them sound like something you'd like to see, just click the corresponding image and it'll bring you to Amazon.)
The Passion of Joan of Arc
Haunting, heartbreaking, and beautiful film. Joan's death is inevitable and yet I still found the finale shocking. It's a great movie, the best I've seen in a very long time. Great performance, too. Nearly all close-up, nowhere to hide. There's so much to be read in her eyes alone. Passion of Joan of Arc had been in my blindspot for too long and I'm happy I finally got a chance to watch it.
Witness for the Prosecution
A great Billy Wilder adaptation of an Agatha Christie play, in which a grumpy lawyer played by Charles Laughton has to take on a seemingly unwinnable murder trial. Snappy dialogue, a fine sense of humor, and more than a few unexpected twists. It's clever as hell. Laughton is wonderful.
What if David Fincher's The Game was a comedy? That's Game Night and it is hilarious. Sharp script and unusually creative visual style for a big studio comedy. Wish I had seen it in theatres. Rachel McAdams is the MVP but everyone's great. Loved it. My favorite comedy of 2018 so far (we're now at the half-way point!).
On the Beach at Night Alone
On the Beach at Night Alone is pretty wonderful. It's a South Korean drama about an actress who returns home from abroad after a very public affair in which she fell for her director. If I understand details of writer/director Hong Sang-soo's life correctly, telling this story is both daring and shameless. It's also a strange film, playing with expectations and hidden meanings. I liked it.
It's very strange to see Anton Yelchin in a new film in 2018. I guess this was the last he ever made. It's sad, but it's also nice to see him again. Thoroughbreds is a dark suburban thriller/comedy/horror-thing. Olivia Cooke is absolutely amazing and Anya Taylor-Joy & Anton Yelchin ain't far behind. Promising feature directional debut. Unsettling but highly recommended if a poster quote like "twisted, demented, funny" makes sense to you.
Good fiction and film requires conflict. And usually when we’re talking about genre, that conflict often includes violence and some amount of blood. How you depict gore in your work is all about managing expectations and tone. You can write something with virtually zero gore and still end up scaring more people than the bloodbath horror story. You can even use blood and gore for laughs, if you like. But there exists a strange, unspoken agreement with an audience that, once you’ve established tone, it can be shocking and unpleasant to disrupt that tone with new extremes of violence. Using that shock as a way to jolt the audience is all well and good, but it’s important that you know what you’re doing. Otherwise, the horrific headshot in a goofy adventure tale may come across as a tad unpleasant.
I have a new article up at Scriptophobic about using blood & gore in your writing while keeping in mind tone and audience expectations, drawing examples from the suggestive violence of a Steven Spielberg blockbuster to the gorefest of a Nick Cutter novel. Check it out!
The most deluded thing a writer can tell a prospective publisher about their recently finished manuscript is that “it gets better as it goes.” That may well be true but if you’re saying that as an excuse for a lackluster opening, then you best rethink some things. And regardless of whether you have faith in your opening chapter, saying that things improve later in the book is not what a publisher wants to hear. A good first chapter — hell, a good first paragraph — is essential in getting your book sold. A publisher/editor/agent/reader wants to know your book is worth their time.
At Scriptophobic, I offer seven little pieces of advice on crafting a good first chapter to appease publishing gatekeepers and online bookstore browsers alike. CLICK THE LINK.
Writer of horror, science fiction, and dark fantasy. Lover of fiction and film. Lifelong Godzilla fan. Reluctant blogger.
Blog notice: mostly this blog is for sharing my thoughts and talking about my books. From time to time I will also comment on books, films, music, sports, and/or videogames. During these times I may use images of the creative works under discussion. I'm posting the images under the "fair use" allowance, for purposes such as criticism, comments, reporting, teaching, and research. If you have any issue with images used on this blog, please contact me and the images will be removed.
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