Saturday, March 31, 2007

My Favourite Screenplay of All-Time.

As part of Mystery Man on Film’s Screenwriting Blogathon that celebrates the best of the film scripts, either original or one based on material published previously in another form. I had to think about this one, and the near misses were: Some Like It Hot, The 400 Blows, Casablanca, Finding Nemo, Brokeback Mountain and All About Eve (I did a short tribute to my top 25 screenplays a while ago here, it’s changed a little, but give it a read), but finally, I decided on my favourite screenplay, and no surprises, it happened to be my favourite film of all-time as well, The Shawshank Redemption. I know, it looks like I’m just using this opportunity to whore out my favourite film like I usually do. But that isn’t it, I promise. I took the time to actually read the screenplay to Shawshank a while ago, and it simply managed to deepen my love for the masterpiece.

Oh yes, before I forget - as we're on the topic of blogathons, I'm hosting one of my own in July:
Join up!

I adore the script for countless reasons and we would be here until Christmas if I tried to list them all, so I’ll do a simple top 7 reasons. Note, this isn’t a top 7 of why I love the movie (that would include aspects such as the acting and the score), but why I consider the script to rule.

Seven: Engaging supporting characters.
Brooks, a man incarcerated for an unmentioned crime for so long that he finds himself attached to the Shawshank and the daily life he has lead, pet bird and all. A group of long-time prison dwellers who find joy in placing bets on mean things. And of course, that charismatic up-and-getter Tommy, a fellow inmate of Andy's who suffers under the iron will of Norton (who, incidentally, was written for Brad Pitt). All these men have their quirks, all have the flaws, but all are utterly engaging and add to the charm of Shawshank.

Six: Detestable villains.
The polar opposite of charming, the cruel prison warden and the nasty officers are appropriately grim characters. Warden Norton exudes an evil, frightening presence without ever escalating into pastiche of the Christian fundamentalists. But the plaque reading "His judgment cometh and that right soon" is wonderfully ironic.

Five: Believable sense of fear.
Unlike camp horror movies and lol-inducing “dramas” (read: Crash), the horror in Shawshank is all emotional. As Andy gets violated, my heart totally broke for him, and the cruelties that he is subjected to are terrible, yet believable. In my opinion, there are not enough movies that can convincingly portray something so nasty, but Shawshank manages to, due to the nuance of Darabont’s script.

Four: Making us care and learn to hope.
I doubt many of the people who love Shawshank have been through the same experience as Andy, but in Shawshank, it just doesn’t matter. Even though the circumstances between the characters and the viewers are quite different, you don't feel that far removed from what the characters are going through; everyone’s experienced fear, loneliness, desperation in their lives. But Shawshank offers happy endings, and for this, the audience can share the joy too. Beautiful.

Masterful scripting.

Three: Red’s narration.
I’ve said it before and I’ve said it again, if there were to be a movie about my life, I’d want Morgan Freeman to narrate it. His voice is amazing to listen to, and it all really stems from his monologues as Red.

This was one of my favourites:

RED (V.O.)
I have no idea to this day what
them two Italian ladies were
singin' about. Truth is, I don't
want to know. Some things are best
left unsaid. I like to think they
were singin' about something so
beautiful it can't be expressed in
words, and makes your heart ache
because of it.

CAMERA brings us to Red.

RED (V.O.)
I tell you, those voices soared.
Higher and farther than anybody in
a gray place dares to dream. It was
like some beautiful bird flapped
into our drab little cage and made
these walls dissolve away...and for
the briefest of moments -- every
last man at Shawshank felt free.

Oh! Too sublime for words.

Two: The searing sense of redemption.
Here’s a little understatement for you: I like movies with happy endings. I really am a sucker for them, whether it’s Elle’s solving the case in Legally Blonde, to Nemo being reunited with his dad in Finding Nemo, or the wonderful redemption for all those who suffered in Erin Brockovich. But The Shawshank Redemption features the greatest redemption of all; after 19 years of Hell, Andy finds his Heaven. I love that. All in all, this is a great story vividly told that will leave you with a true sense of redemption in your soul. Like the masterful novella that the film was based on, this film manages to succeed at greater and deeper things than simply entertaining an audience. Darabont tells his story most masterfully, showing principles, values and inspiring his audience to think. He leaves us a poignant film with a powerful message of hope, and redemption, something we all seek. You don’t get that in every screenplay, now, do you?

One: Andy.
The character of Andy is the thing I treasure most about Shawshank. I think everybody at some point in their life can connect with him, and his wonderful, stoic nature. Andy's demeanour and undeniable sense of hope causes Red to take a deeper look at himself, and the world around him. Andy proves to Red and the other inmates that in the conventional walls of Shawshank prison convention will find no home in his lifestyle, and, like the bright bird that he is, he flies. Even when the audience may despair, Andy doesn’t, he fights back with that wonderful drive, and achieves redemption. Because of Andy, Red can find a different path-the path of freedom that is lit by hope.

Get busy living, dudes, or get busy dying.

I hope you enjoyed this. :D

Friday, March 30, 2007

So, what do you think?


The adult's cover is wonderful.

The American cover is acceptable.

The English kid's cover is terrible!!!

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

“You’re so cool.”

Firs thing's first. You signed up yet?

Quentin Tarantino has been described as the coolest director of all time on many a occasion. Whilst I don’t totally agree with this, I do have to concede that his film titles truly are too cool.

We were having a conversation today about how cool “300” was as a title, so I feel like making a random list of the top 10 coolest (not best, mind) film titles:

01. Reservoir Dogs (come on, that is just beyond cool!)
02. Sin City
03. 300
04. Run Lola Run (in the original German Lola Rennt rocks too)
05. Heat
06. The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
07. Kill Bill
08. Lost in Translation (I didn’t care for it at all, but it is a pretty cool title.)
09. Johnny Guitar
10. Oldboy

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Lil' Green bag.

What's more, I've recently developed quite a lil' penchant for ogrgeous images of scenary. These are some of the best I've found: here, here, here and here.

So unbelievably gorgeous!

Friday, March 23, 2007

The Soundtrack of 2006.

The best of the soundtracks and Scores in 2006.

Billy’s Theme (Howard Shore, The Departed)
Cry Me a River (Julie London, V for Vendetta)
Death Is The Road To Awe (Clint Mansell, The Fountain)
Deportation/Iguazu (Gustavo Santaolalla, Babel)
Factory Rescue (Michael Giacchino, Mission Impossible III)
Fairy And The Labyrinth (Javier Navarrete, Pan’s Labyrinth)
First Snow (Clint Mansell, The Fountain)
Golden Slumbers (KD Lang, Happy Feet)
Humpty Dumpty Sat on a Wall (Michael Giacchino, Mission Impossible III)
Il Secondo Giorno Instrumental (Air, Marie-Antoinette)
Las Vecinas (variacion, Alberto Iglesias, Volver)
Lullaby (Jack Johnson, Curious George)
Mercedes Lullaby (Javier Navarrete, Pan’s Labyrinth)
Pennies in my Pocket (Emilio Estefan, Miami Vice)
Princess (Javier Navarrete, Pan’s Labyrinth)
Real Gone (Sheryl Crow, Cars)
S Rs (Jack Johnson, Curious George)
SinnerMan Felix da Housecat Remix (Nina Simone, Miami Vice)
Streets of Parts (Berlin Philhamonic, Das Perfum)
Strict Machine (Goldfrapp, Miami Vice)
The Citrine Corss (Hans Zimmer, The Da Vinci Code)
The Method Works! (Berlin Philhamonic, Das Perfum)
The Song of the Heart (Prince, Happy Feet)
Vogue (Madonna, The Devil Wears Prada)
Volver (Estralla Morente, Volver)

Thursday, March 22, 2007

I know, I'm awful.

I haven't updated this blog since last Sunday, which I think is the longest I've left it (unless you wanna correct me, in which case do, peh), since I went on holiday to China in July.

The reason? Well, predictable as it is, it's been schoolwork. :( I've had so many mocks this week, and I know they're worthless, but I still thought I'd do a little revision for them, and with all that and homework on top as well as damn violin and guitar practice, I just haven't had time to write about movies. Sorry. :(

As a lil' sorry present, here is some sheet music, as I've had a couple of e-mails requesting sheet music of different kinds.

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Now, I have to get back to writing an essay on The Budget (taxes went down from 22 %to 20% is the main thing), but I think I may have time free tomorrow lunch time to pleasure you with some *decent* blogging.

Until then, adios!

Sunday, March 18, 2007

What Makes Act 1 Scene 1 of William Shakespeare’s Hamlet interesting?

Hamlet opens with two Sentinels, Barnado and Francisco, whispering in an agitated, clandestine manner. The first two lines involve both refusing to even divulge their names, “Nay, answer me, stand and unfold yourself,” showing immediately that there is little trust in this scene. They speak in quick, colloquial lines, such as “He.” and “’tis bitter cold,” which signify an urgency and pace. The audience are immediately intrigued by this, as they are wondering that could make them behave in such a way. Marcellus, a soldier, soon asks, “has this thing appeared again tonight?” which raises the question of what “the thing” is. Marcellus then shares his theories about it, “Horatio says ‘tis but our fantasy” before Horatio shushes him, at the fear it will not appear. This continues to build anticipation for “the thing,” and words like “dreaded” and “this apparition” are used to describe it, which builds feelings of dread in the audience.

When the Ghost appears, the scene would be very dramatically impactful, especially when it is revealed that it is “like the King that is dead.” A dead king, especially in the time that the play was written, 1602, would raise further questions, one being: did he die or was he killed? The likely answer is that he was murdered, and this in itself adds mystery and horror to the already exciting plot.

The sentinels speak using some evocative, strong imagery, such as “he sledded the angry poleaxe on the ice” and “this bodes some strange eruption.” There are imageries of death in their language which causes horror. This is suitable to the scene, as we have just discovered that the king is dead, and the city is in uproar. Marcellus questions this, “Why such shipwrights, whose sore tasks does not divide the Sunday from the week.” From this, we learn that it is not just the sentinels that are feeling agitated and worried, but the city in general, which again creates thrill as well as perplexity as to why.

Another emotion felt by the audience in this scene would be fear. The appearance of the ghost would be frightening, especially as he is the powerful figure of the King. It would be a big shock to discover that the king is dead. However, the ghost of the King remains silent, and the sentinels wonder what the king wants, “What art thou that usurpest this time of night?” as does the audience. Ghosts are stereotypically scary, trouble-causing things, but this ghost is different, as he appears and reappears without appearing to do anything, which will perhaps confuse the audience about his intentions, and whether he really is a ghost, or just “something more than fantasy”.

As confusion would be present in the audience now, Shakespeare places Horatio to explain what he knows, so that the background of the play, as well information about the setting can be imparted. It is revealed why the sentinels were previously in such a hurry, and it involves a character called Fortinbras wanting to reclaim the land that the ghost, Hamlet won. This adds a new layer to the plot.

The ghost re-enters, and when Horatio re-addresses it, he is more forceful than he previously was, showing that he is very involved with the ghost, and wants to know what it wants. This reflects the feelings of the audience, and Horatio spreads his arms to physically block the ghost, trapping it, and shifting the power. Before, the ghost had the power, as the men feared him, but as Horatio speaks more boldly he shows he does not fear the ghost. He talks to the ghost, asking it to speak, and the phrases “speak to me”, “oh speak!” and “speak of it” are all used, showing the urgency felt by the men. This urgency is sensed, and adds to the overall tension of the scene.

The cock crows, signalling morning, and the ghost drifts away without having had spoken, which leaves the scene on a cliff-hanger with many unanswered questions. Before the scene ends, a younger Hamlet is spoken of, and, he, being the titular character, is very important. The sentinels echo this, “For, upon my life, the spirit dumb to us, we will speak to him,” and the audience anticipate the appearance of him eagerly. This opens the door to the next scene, and closes a very thrilling and impactful one.

A Mother’s Day Treat.

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The “treat” (or not so much), is that I shall do one of my much-missed top ten lists, this one being, in the spirit of mother’s day & being lazy (hence, 5 instead of 10), Top 5 Cinematic Mothers.

01. Mildred Pierce (Joan Crawford, Mildred Pierce)

02. Laura Jesson (Celia Johnson, Brief Encounter)
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03. Ashley (soon to be mother, Amy Adams, Junebug)

04. The Bride (Uma Thurman, Kill Bill)

05. Mrs. Robinson (Anne Bancroft, The Graduate)

Some more goodies: Something cute I found, something that could easily be a family affair.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007


Work for the actor lies essentially in two areas: the ability to consistently create reality and the ability to express that reality." - Lee Strasberg

Yes, that’s right. I’m organising a blogathon! I’ll be 17 (although I *turn* 17 on April 18th, so it's not a birthdat b'n!) when I do it, and it’s set for the 7th July, 2007. Everyone be there!

Everybody be there.

Oh yes, the topic: The performance that changed your life. The reason is pretty simple, just that acting generally makes or break a movie, and we should dedicate an entire day to praising the good ones. Everybody picks a performance (just one – choosing it will be the hardest part), and then, in manner that they chose – essay, poetry, images, YouTube tribute or anything else you can think of, you tell the world why that performance means so much to you.

I’d really love for as many people to get involved in this as poss. All you need is a performance and a blog. Anyone’s free to participate, whether you’re a die-hard movie fan, or just a casual cinemagoer. And you can make the tribute to any performance you like - I won't judge. More details will come closer to the date, but if you think you’d like to participate, send me an e-mail at or just reply here on the blog.

Anyone, but anyone, can participate. Happy blogging!

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Tuesday, March 06, 2007

2005, a Year of Gorgeous Costumes.

My favourite costumes of the year were undoubtably in Pride and Prejudice. Here are some of my favourites:

Next is probably Walk the Line, for Reese's gorgeously stylish dresses, chiefly.

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Monday, March 05, 2007

My 20 Favourite Performances of 2006.

This is a mixture of talent & personal liking, with the latter making 75% affect on the final rank. :)

01. Ivana Baquero, El Laberinto del FaunoThe most breathtaking performance I've seen for a long, long time.

02. Leonardo DiCaprio, The DepartedYep.

03. Ryan Gosling, Half Nelson

04. James McAvoy, The Last King of ScotlandHe'll be on the list later too.

05. Forest Whitaker, The Last King of ScotlandGreat performance. But McAvoy was better.

06. Emily Blunt, The Devil Wears PradaYep.

07. Penélope Cruz, VolverWonderful performance.

08. Helen Mirren, The Queen
Much praised, but definitely worthy.

09. Leonardo DiCaprio, Blood Diamond

10. James McAvoy, Starter for 10Yummy James.

The rest...

11. Samuel Barnett, The History Boys
12. Harry Dean Stanton, Alien Autopsy
13. Kate Dickie, Red Road
14. Shareeka Epps, Half Nelson
15. Danny Dyer, Severance
16. Peter O'Toole, Venus
17. Rupert Grint, Driving Lessons
18. Danny Perea, Duck Season
19. Jennifer Ehle, Alpha Male
20. Vera Farmiga, The Departed