Monday, January 28, 2013

Ample, Heaving Bosom

Titles are phenomenally important. Do I have your attention? Today I’m going to recommend some movies about writing and/or books, incorporating some lines from the film’s script and my own personal touch, of course. Because there are five, I’ll get right to it.

1.    Dead Poets Society—English teacher John Keating (played by Robin Williams) inspires his students to a love of poetry and to seize the day.

a.    [Keating stands on his desk]: “Why do I stand up here? Anybody?”

Dalton: “To feel taller!”

John Keating: “No!” [Dings a bell with his foot] “Thank you for playing Mr. Dalton. I stand upon my desk to remind myself that we must constantly look at things in a different way.”
(This is excellent writing advice—I should stand on my desk while writing. Or I could put a desk on my desk for a different perspective.)

b.   John Keating: “So avoid using the word ‘very’ because it’s lazy. A man is not very tired; he is exhausted. Don’t use very sad; use morose. Language was invented for one reason, boys—to woo women—and, in that endeavor, laziness will not do.”
(Okay, I guess it’s time for me to write a very good love poem in hopes of wooing my woman. I’m very excited.)

2.    Misery—A famous novelist (played by James Caan) is "rescued" from a car crash by an obsessed fan (played by Kathy Lee Bates).

a.    Annie Wilkes: “God came to me last night and told me your purpose for being here. I’m going to help you write a new book.”

Paul Sheldon: “You think I can just whip one out?”

Annie Wilkes: “Oh, but I don't think, Paul, I know.”
(Who do you think we are, Annie? R.L. Stine? James Patterson?)

b.    [Annie has just read Paul's latest novel]

Annie Wilkes: “You! You dirty bird, how could you?!”

Paul Sheldon: “What?”

Annie Wilkes: “She can't be dead; Misery Chastain cannot be dead!”

Paul Sheldon: “Annie, in 1871, women often died during childbirth. But her spirit is the important thing, and Misery's spirit is still alive.”

Annie Wilkes: “I don't want her spirit! I want her! And you murdered her!”

Paul Sheldon: “No, I didn't.”

Annie Wilkes: “Who did?”

Paul Sheldon: “No one! She...she died! She just slipped away!”

Annie Wilkes: “Slipped away! Slipped away? She didn't just slip away! You did it! You did it! You did it! You murdered my Misery!”
(If you’ve seen the movie, this is really creepy and scary. I think I’ll let all the rest of my characters live…just in case there are other Annie Wilkeses in the world.)

3.    Alex and Emma—A writer (played by Luke Wilson) must turn out a novel in thirty days or face the wrath of loan sharks. A stenographer (played by Kate Hudson) helps him through his writer’s block.

a.    Alex, narrating to Emma: “He was wracked with confusion. For the first time in his life, he understood the true meaning of the expressions ‘horns of a dilemma’ and ‘between a rock and a hard place’—although the concept of ‘paying through the nose’ had always tormented him. How does the money get in the nose in the first place? Once in, is it pulled out by hand, or is a sneeze involved? And who would accept such a transaction? Burning questions all, but he had bigger fish to fry.”
(Clichés are awesome. It goes without saying that another “Red Pen” blog is evolving…just food for thought…all things being equal….My clichés are going over like a lead balloon, aren’t they?)

b.    Emma: "Ample bosom"?

Alex: “What’s wrong with that? It’s literary.”

Emma: “Oh, well, in that case, you forgot the heaving.”

Alex: “The what?”

Emma: “In every book I’ve ever read, whenever there’s an ample bosom, there’s always heaving.”

Alex: “What?”

Emma: “You introduced the bosom. I’m just asking if you want them to heave.”

Alex: “Fine, let them heave.”
(What I would give to have another person looking over my shoulder while I write, giving advice and commentary—unless she has ample, heaving bosoms—then it might be okay.)

4.    Finding Forester—An African-American teen writing prodigy/basketball player (played by Rob Brown) finds a mentor in a reclusive author (played by Sean Connery).

a.    Forrester: “No thinking…that comes later. You must write your first draft with your heart. You rewrite with your head. The first key to writing write, not to think!”
(This would be sound advice if I could get my brain to stop working…but then I’d be dead…literally).

b.    Forrester: “Writers write things to give readers something to read.”
(I, on the other hand, do it to use up all of my spare time…oh, and so I can do all that fun marketing and promoting.)

5.    Inkheart—A young girl (played by Eliza Bennett) discovers her father (played by Brendan Fraser) has an amazing talent to bring characters out of their books and must try to stop a freed villain from destroying them all—with the help of her father, her aunt, and a storybook's hero.

a.    Narrator: “Since the dawn of time, storytellers have enchanted audiences with their words. But there is an even rarer gift. There are those, who by reading out loud, can bring characters to life. Out of books and into our world. Most of these ‘Silvertongues,’ as they are known, prefer to keep their skills a secret, but some do not even know this gift is theirs until it is too late.”
(This is why I love books. I do this in my head all the time.)

b.    Meggie: “Having writer's block? Maybe I can help.”

Fenoglio: “Oh yes, that's right. You want to be a writer, don't you?”

Meggie: “You say that as if it's a bad thing.”

Fenoglio: “Oh no, it's just a lonely thing. Sometimes the world you create on the page seems more friendly and alive than the world you actually live in.”
(Amen. What more is there to say?)

There you are—very good movies to watch that will make you, in no uncertain terms, a better writer or a more appreciative reader. It’s interesting that thinking of all these old movies has put me in the mood to get my mind off writing and my heart on an old favorite, so the popcorn is popping and I’m off to spend some more of my spare time on Entrapment. Katherine Zeta-Jones, with your ample, heaving bosom, here I come.