Sunday, October 07, 2007

Exposition with Pat, Part 4

Hey guys,

Below is article number 4 from Pat (Gimmeabreak). I'm going to post another exposition article, a final thoughts article, and wrap up our series.

Hope you enjoy it. Thanks so much, Pat.



Dune by David Lynch (7th draft), 1984. I love this movie but it puts me to sleep (especially the director’s cut).

Bad exposition. The Emperor speaks with the Guild Navigator. This part of the scene was cut from both versions of the movie. It contains info that’s irrelevant not only at this point but overall. The necessary exposition is handled in bits and pieces later throughout the story in more appropriate ways. (There’s lots of bad exposition in this movie, BTW. This is just an early example.)

The Guild Navigator shudders and swishes quite violently in his tank.

LISTEN TO ME!! The spice must flow... the
spice has given me accelerated evolution
for four thousand years... it has enabled
you to live two hundred years... the spice
helps make the sapho juice, which gives
the red-lipped mentats the ability to be
living computers... the secret side of
spice... the water of life.


All the President’s Men – William Goldman (1976).

Good exposition. This next one is kind of a long scene but it’s exposition used so well. Bernstein finally finds someone (the bookkeeper) who will talk to him. He tells her what he knows (or suspects) in order to get her to confirm or deny. Almost everything he says we’ve already heard before but it’s a really effective tool in terms of getting this woman to speak.

He goes into the living room area, picks up a book of matches. This whole scene moves slowly, the tension building under it-- it's not like news people talking, nothing overlaps here.

But I want you to know that I
understand why you're afraid--a lot
of good people down there at the
Committee are afraid. I'm really
sorry for what you're being put

All those articles you people write--
where do you find that stuff?

We don't tell anyone that. Which is
why you can talk to us. And if we
can't verify what you say someplace
else, we don't print it. That's
another reason you can relax.

I'm relaxed--light your cigarette.

BERNSTEIN lights the cigarette.

You were Hugh Sloan's bookkeeper
when he worked for Maurice Stans at
Finance, and we were sort of
wondering, did you go work for Stans
immediately after Sloan quit or was
there a time lapse?

I never worked for Sloan or Stans.

(out of the blue; to
Would you like some coffee or

As the BOOKKEEPER winces.

(like a shot)
Please, yes, thank you.
(he looks at the
Can I sit down for a minute?

He is by a couch.

One minute but then--

--right, right, I've got to go.
(he sits)
Why did you lie just then?

The BOOKKEEPER kneads her hands together silently. BERNSTEIN watches.

I was just curious--you don't do it
well, so I wondered. Have you been
threatened, if you told the truth,
is that it?

...No... never in so many words...

It's obvious you want to talk to
someone--well, I'm someone.

He takes out his notebook.


The BOOKKEEPER. And she does want to talk. But the notebook scares her terribly and she can only stare at it.

I'm not even going to put your name
down. It's just so I can keep things
Start with the money, why don't you?

(returning with coffee)
How do you like it?

Everything, please.

(going again)
I won't be a minute.

The General Accounting report said
there was a 350 thousand cash slush
fund in Stans' safe. Did you know
about that from the beginning?

(about to fold)
There are too many people watching
me--they know I know a lot--

--it was all in hundreds, wasn't it?

A lot of it was. I just thought it
was sort of an all-purpose political
fund--you know, for taking fat cats
to dinner, things like that.

Could buy a lot of steaks, 350,000

(her words are coming
I can't be positive that it was used
for the break-in but people sure are

Which people?

The ones who could disburse the money.

Who were they?

There were a group of them--I think
five, I don't know their names.

Sloan knew which five, didn't he?
(she nods)

(back with cream and
Here we are.

I don't want to say anymore.

(indicating coffee)
It's awfully hot--
--and you haven't finished telling
me about the money--

(long pause; then--in
a burst)
--omigod, there was so much of it,
six million came in one two-day period--
six million cash, we couldn't find
enough places to put it. I thought
it was all legal, I guess I did, til
after the break-in, when I remembered
Gordon got so much of it.

(heart starting to
Gordon Liddy, you mean?

It was all so crazy--the day after
the break-in he gave us a speech,
bouncing up and down on his heels in
that loony way of his--Gordon told
us not to let Jim McCord ruin
everything--don't let one bad apple
spoil the barrel, he said. You just
know that when Gordon Liddy's calling
someone a bad apple, something's
wrong somewhere.
(more and more moved
...It's all so rotten... and getting
worse... and all I care about is
Hugh Sloan. His wife was going to
leave him if he didn't stand up and
do what was right. And he quit. He
quit because he saw it and didn't
want any part of it.

Think Sloan's being set up as a fall
guy for John Mitchell? Sometimes it
looks that way.

There is a pause. Then--

If you guys... if you guys could
just get John Mitchell... that would
be beautiful...

And now, at long last, she begins to cry.


Visual exposition. From Erin Brokovich by Susannah Grant (2000). Erin has lost her court case (the injury to her by the driver of the Jaguar). This scene, with few words, captures her desperation and shows just how close to rock bottom she is.


Hand held camera follows Erin as she puts down her bag and looks through cabinets to see what she can make for dinner, all the while holding Beth who coughs on and off.

Oh sweetie..that doesn't sound so good,
huh? baby...let me just start

Erin finds nothing but boxes of macaroni and cheese and some canned peaches and vegetables. She pulls out a box of macaroni and cheese and a can of peas. She bends down and grabs a pot, placing it under the faucet. She grabs another pot and places it on the stove. She searches for a can opener to open the peas. She moves back to the sink, shuts the faucet and sees:

Another cockroach crawling up the side of the pot from the drain.

Ugh! Goddamn it!

She bangs the pot onto the roach spilling the water and upsetting Beth.

It's all right honey. Mommy's sorry. It's
all right.

As she rocks Beth, who coughs in between tears, Erin looks around - at her meager dinner and bug infested kitchen - and is fed up with the whole day! She dumps her bag out, gets her wallet, opens it up and sees what little money she has.


crossword said...

Very good! I've seen them all and wholeheartedly agree.

I still can't believe that DUNE scene. OMG.

And the PRESIDENTS example was good; I distinctly remember the tension every time the sister would return... such a great excuse to stop talking and not start up again. And then that comment... (It's all so rotten... and getting worse) is all so familiar. lol

It's been years since I saw BROCKOVICH... gotta watch that again real soon.

Thanks Pat and MM!

Mim said...

I feel the same way about Apocalypse Now. I love it, but Marlon Brando starts droning on at the end and ZZZZZ. Maybe next time I should watch the end first.

It's hard to make journalistic movies like All The Presidents Men visually exciting. Goldman did a wonderful job bringing out the facts AND making it sound like a natural discussion.

Good job, Pat. I mean GREAT job!

Joshua James said...

good point on Erin Brockovich . . .that script is very underrated, even though people know it's good, it's still looked upon like a Julia Roberts movie.

Really, that script is awesome . . . look at the time and distance covered within it . . . time is the hardest thing to do in a film (well, one of them) and it does it so effortlessly it's amazing, it covers a huge amount of distance in terms of time and events . . . the whole beginning is pretty amazing . . .

And it's never easy, she never has things easy for her (well, except running into Tracy Walters, a deux ech machina, but even that was painted as a stalker and therefore not easy, she was running from him) she gets fired and has to come back, it's never effortless for her or her firm . . . love that, it actually felt real (which of course, it was) and I wonder if it were an original spec how it'd be received.