Saturday, June 27, 2009

The Darabont Collection


Hey guys,

Below are links to my somewhat recent reviews of Frank Darabont’s latest screenplays. I must say, Fahrenheit 451 was such a fabulous experience, probably the best read of the year so far for me, that the other scripts didn't quite measure up.

This brings to mind an interesting topic, something that all writers go through. What do you do when you write something everyone loves and then you follow up with scripts that don’t quite measure up? Everyone goes through this. Friends will tell you, “I liked this one, but it’s not as good as that last one you wrote.” There’s a mentality in the world, particularly Hollywood, that you’re only as good as your last script. Am I going to stop reading stories of friends and writers just because their last few scripts haven't been as good as some of their earlier successes? Perish the thought. We know better. Screenwriting is a long-term devotion to the craft. Stories aren't born great. They are shaped into greatness with a little help from our friends.

An inevitable part of life is that you will achieve varying levels of success and yes, that includes failure. So what do you do when this happens to you? You take the lumps and keep writing. You stay obsessively devoted to the craft. You find stories you’re passionate about and you apply everything you know about the craft to make each and every story you touch reach its fullest potential.

There's also a lot to be learned from stories that don't quite work.

-MM

-----------------------------------


Fahrenheit 451
…this is easily the best script I’ve read so far this year. The handling of the story is right down the line everything I would’ve done had I landed this assignment. It’s everything I would want to see in an adaptation of the book. Every strength in the book that I listed at the beginning of the article is evident in the script.

Law-Abiding Citizen
…what bugs me about this story is that it has such potential for greatness and yet the filmmakers, which I’m sure includes a lot of interference from this bloated committee of producers, seems content to let this story flounder in the realm of marginally above grade B-movie thrills.

Mine
I can pinpoint where the story lost me. It lost me in the 80-page range. It really lost me in the 90-page range. Then it pulled me back somewhat with a thrilling car chase sequence. After that, I was just waiting for the predictable events to play themselves out. And then I was disappointed that those events played out as predictably as I thought.

13 comments:

E.C. Henry said...

"What do you do when you write something everyone loves and then you follow up with scripts that don’t quite measure up?"

E.C.'s responce: As a writer all you can do is try to maximize a concept, maximize a story. NOT all stories are the same. NOT all stories have the same MAGIC POINT.
The magic point in "Jaws" is different than the magic point in "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" which is different than the magic point in "Saving Private Ryan." (Yes, I'm a HUGE fan of Steven Speilberg)

I think evey story NEEDS to be graded on its own merits, NOT the writer, director, producer or actor's past accomplishments.
If you do the same story, over-and-over-and-over again, of cource it's gonna get stale. True creatives NEED to mix it up. Look at James Cameron. He did "Aliens" AND he's done "Titanic."

"Stories are shaped into greatness with a little help from our friends?" Hmmm, would like to hear you expound on that, Mystery Man. Who are these "friends," and what exactly did they add to these "stories" that helped make them "great."

Scott said...

I just read both the F451 book and your script review, so I thought I might comment here rather than your review.

I think the book is brilliant, but you say one of the things you would fix is Millie's betrayal. You believe that it has the potential to be much bigger, much more emotional. I respectfully disagree.

SPOILERS FOR THE BOOK

From my reading of the book, the whole point of Millie's betrayal is that it is inevitable. They have been married for ten years, he saves her life basically after she takes too many pills, he begs and pleads with her to go through the books with him. Yet she just wants to go back to her family. I think this is set up by the fact that neither one can remember how they met or even where. They have no connection, and Montag knows this and does not expect her to stay quiet. Thats why he hides the books, because he knows she is going to blow the whistle on him.

I guess what I am trying to say is that it cant be emotional because there is no emotion there, he doesnt love her, she doesnt love him, and it is doubtful whether they ever have.

Tanya said...

Hmmm, that was interesting. Looks like somethings will always remain mystery.

I myself has been trying to solve the mystery of the legend that forces you to have "earn it before having it", for a wile now. Could not understand much though.

Let me know in case you get to understand the mystery of the Old Hound and the Legend

By the way, good writing style. I'd love to read more on similar topics

Mystery Man said...

e.c. - I completely agree. I just cracked open Harold Bloom's book on Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human, and so far, it's been fascinating how Shakespeare failed repeatedly when he started out with plays filled with errors and imitations of Marlowe and not measuring up. It took time for him to find his own voice. I'm going to blog about that eventually.

Scott - Hmm. I could be wrong, but I think he loved her, which may be why he agreed to let her think there was a party the night she had too many pills, or in that dramatic scene in which he was trying to convince her to read books with him. To some degree, I think he did it out of love, and I don't know, I think that moment where he discovers her betrayal could be far more devastating than it is.

-MM

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DjSuBo said...

this is easily the best script I’ve read so far this year. The handling of the story is right down the line everything I would’ve done had I landed this assignment. It’s everything I would want to see in an adaptation of the book. Every strength in the book that I listed at the beginning of the article is evident in the script.

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