Next up -- our very good friend, Bob Thielke. He's a great writer. He's contributed to a number of studies and script reviews on this blog. He's also a past Reviewer of the Month on TriggerStreet, and his scripts are frequently seen in the Top Ten.
Thanks so much, Bob.
I’m horrible at remembering little details about movies, so this exposition exercise was very difficult to me.
This one will probably make me have to go into the witness protection program and cause people, to in the words of Jimmy Burke: “whack me for what I done”. But, I rewatched Goodfellas last night, and I was surprised how my opinion of the movie has changed since I’ve started writing. It’s still an engrossing story, but the incessant voice over by Henry Hill seemed disappointing to me. I felt like I was getting it just from the scenes, and the VO seemed like overkill to me. It was almost like Scorcese didn’t trust himself to tell a great story. I think the moral of the story for me is that you don’t need to beat someone over the head with exposition. Get it out there as subtle as possible and don’t linger over it. Do it visually if at all possible. As my example, I’ll give an early scene where Henry is about 10 and he admires the gangsters with the big pinky rings and intimidating glares at the cabstand, he’s practically attached to their hip. He has a big smile when he’s with them. Then there’s voice over that says he’s always admired gangsters and has always wanted to be one. I could tell that from the scene. It was clear these were gangsters, and that the young henry hill was drawn to them and admired them (especially in combination with other scenes in which he shows disdain for his father who actually worked for a living).
As Good As it Gets is a flick that I love because I’ve been in love with Helen Hunt for 15 years at least and because I am a big Nicholson fan. Plus it’s a pretty damn good story.
This scene introduces Carol and defines the state of the relationship between her and Melvin. In this one scene we learn everything we need to know about Carol and it all seems to come across natural. We find out she’s a bit neurotic, that she repeats herself, that she’s had bad luck with men, and that she has a sick child at home. We also find out that she is probably the only person in the world that tolerates Melvin, which innately tells us a lot about her soul and her capacity to love others (even those that may not deserve it).
INT. CAROL'S RESTAURANT - DAY
ANGLE ON WAITRESS
CAROL CONNELLY talks with another MOTHER -- a customer. You would not guess it, but her working hours tend to be the most carefree time of the day. She is telling a story about her son for the umpteenth time.
(to the Mother's
Look at you, you're all better.
It's that new medication.
You know all my son's stuff,
The Mother nods too sympathetically that she does, but Carol interrupts her.
No, no, no, I got a date tonight.
I'm walking out the door this
morning and he says to me, 'Mom,
I promise not to get one of my
fevers or coughs during your
Isn't that sweet.
Little blonde angle.
Melvin enters and moves past several empty tables to a table towards the back and is obviously surprised to find a MAN and WOMAN sitting at the table.
It just came out of me. I said
you love me the way a remote
control loves a TV. As long as I
switch every time...
HER MALE COMPANION
People who talk in metaphors can
shampoo my crotch.
(on their look)
They turn away -- Melvin walks a few paces to the waitress station where two waitresses, LISA and CAROL, are talking.
Pay me back next week.
I owe you. I told you today...
them's the rules. Oh, excuse me,
She puts two hands lightly on his waist to move him out of the way. He gulps at the contact (since no one else ever touches him) but covers his self-consciousness.
(firmly to Lisa)
Will you please take it?
Melvin intentionally moves a step in her path, with stealth, so that she must touch him again to get him out of the way...
This way you take a cab home so
you have time to get ready for the
"Ready" is not my problem.
She barks a mirthless though hearty laugh. If we could read Melvin which we can't, we'd see him unsettled by the date talk. To Carol he is as harmless as furniture.
Go sit down. You know you're not
allowed back here... Spencer's
more excited about it than I am...
He says, "Mom, I promise not to
get a fever or couch during your date."
The other WAITRESSES and the SHORT ORDER COOK all go "awww."
I know. He's just the best.
I've got Jews at my table.
It's not your table. It's the
place's table. Behave. This
once, you can sit at someone
The two waitresses signal their protests.
Or you can just wait your turn...
Melvin walks back into the restaurant proper... he hangs near their table... his discomfort builds in this limbo... then:
How much more you got to eat?
Your appetite isn't as big as
your noses, is it?
Let's go --
The Woman starts to protest.
Let's leave. We're going.
Melvin sits down at the table -- and takes from his pocket a plastic eating utensil set wrapped and sealed. As he opens his utensils.
Bryan says he doesn't care how
long you've been coming you ever
act like this again you're barred
for life. I'm gonna miss the
excitement, but I'll handle it.
There is in Carol's attitude toward Melvin some ingredient of self-satisfaction -- that she is the only one in the place who can handle him. She starts to clear the table.
The table's fine if it had some
cholesterol on it. Two sausages,
six bacon strips, fries, three
eggs over easy and coffee.
You're gonna die soon with that
diet, you know that?
We're all gonna die soon. I will.
You will. It sure sounds like
your son will.
Stunned. Some crazy street-freak has slipped under her
perfect guard and momentarily devastated her. Melvin
senses that he's gone way too far. He wipes his knife.
If you ever mention my son again,
you will never be able to eat here
again. Do you understand? Give me
some sign you understand or leave
now. Do you understand me...
(adds truthful label)
you crazy freak? Do you?!?
A beat and then Melvin nods, hardly breathing -- backing down.
Okay. I'll get your order.
She walks away. Melvin watches her, biting his lower lip. He takes some napkins and cleans the table himself.
Godfather II is very likely my favorite movie of all time. I am fascinated by the depth of Michael Corleone’s fall from his status as the one who was going to break away from the sorrow and sickly allure of the mob. And you watch his total immersion into evil that culminates in the murder of his brother, Fredo. He will have Neri carry out the hit because he wants to maintain some illusion that he is above such a horrid act. He of course could tell Neri to his face that he wants Fredo killed, but watch this scene as Michael makes his intentions clear to Neri without saying a word. The concept of betraying with a kiss goes back to Judas’s kiss and Michaels hugging Fredo is another great non verbal example of betrayal!
INT. MICHAEL'S HOUSE - DAY
Friends, relatives; Francesca and her new husband, Gardner
and their baby; Sandra Corleone; Teresa, her children; all
the familiar faces of the family are present, quietly paying
their respects to Mama.
Some of the men can be seen in the kitchen, drinking wine,
and talking in low voices.
Fredo is there, broken-hearted over the loss of his Mother;
like some lost child with no friends.
Michael enters the room, followed by Connie, who tends
little Mary and Anthony.
He approaches his brother, and then embraces. Fredo breaks
Christ, Mike. Jesus Christ, Mike.
VIEW ON MICHAEL
embracing his brother, he glances up.
VIEW ON NERI
quiet, and deadly.
Monday, August 06, 2007