Tuesday, March 1, 2011

My Big Three

1. The Adjustment Bureau

Magic Fedoras. Beautiful Ballet Dancers. Fighting for Love.
2. The Muppet Man


3. The Dogs of Babel

What a dog would say if he could talk...
I've never thought about why these three have found their way so deeply into my heart. I guess I've been too concerned with trying to consume as many scripts as I can to stop and think about why I got chills at every major beat in The Adjustment Bureau, or at the end of Muppet Man, and during the climax of Dogs of Babel.

But, there are a couple things these stories have in common.


Unrequited romance.

Jim Henson, David Morris, and Paul Ransome are all going through some serious romantic issues.

Jim Henson's work has driven him almost physically ill and pushed away the woman he's loved the most--causing him to suffer from incredible heartache.

David Morris (Adjustment Bureau) is fighting to be with the woman who--for some inexplicable reason--he cares about more than anything else in this world, and he's fighting against incredible odds.

Paul Ransome (Dogs of Babel) is a man on a mission to find closure for not only the crumbling of his marriage but the mysterious death of his wife. The only witness being their dog.

Woody Allen once said that the only true romance is unrequited romance. Heartache is clearly the foundation of all these and is something that can drive grown men crazy. Just look at any country song out there.

The other night I was watching Richard Pryor's Live on the Sunset Strip. In this routine he has a fifteen minute spiel about how men react to being heart broken. It was so true it was hilarious.

"Men--we deal with heartbreak differently. Y'all woman you cry and shit. We just bottle it up like it don't hurt...then we walk in front of buses. "Aw, did you see that? That motherfucker just walked in front of a bus! 'Course he did. He was heartbroken. Motherfucker wouldn't  have seen a 747."

Call me a hopeless romantic--but heartache seems to be my specialty.


Fantasticism. I know. That's not a word. But, I think it's the best way to describe how all these stories go into the depths of something fantastical.

In The Muppet Man--Jim Henson's story is paralleled by Kermit's as he goes through an alcoholic stupor and tries get Miss Piggy off the altar before she marries that annoying muppet who tries to be a comedian and laughs at his own jokes. I forget his name. Henson's story (it's a biopic) is constantly cameoed by the amazing characters he created and, subsequently, died for. It's an incredibly powerful way to tell the story of a creator, like Henson, through what he created. Not to mention how the beautiful songs ("I'm Going to go Back there Someday"!) he made are woven into his own personal story. I'm getting chills now just from reminiscing.

Adjustment Bureau--I mean, come on. Do I really have to? I've been known to wear fedora hats when I go out. It's a great ice breaker for woman and the glue to my personal style. But, in this world, fedora hats have special powers. That's amazing. Let alone the sole idea that there is an entire bureau of people working to control the universe, to control our destinies to make sure that all goes according to plan. And, of course, Matt Damon is fighting against this and (SPOILER ALERT!!!!!!)...wins. Beautiful.

Dogs of Babel--I love dogs. Everything about them. I've had them as far as I can remember and will have them for the rest of my life. This story is interspersed with little vignettes of how dogs have saved their owners lives. Of the unconditional love that dogs are famous for. Of their brilliant devotion, loyalty, and that fucking sixth sense for the ones they love that adds that ultimate mystique to them. Let alone the premise: A linguist seeks to teach his dog how to talk so he can learn what really happened to his recently deceased wife. Talking dogs have been around for a while (Pixar did an amazing job) but this is a whole other way of looking at it. I read this script almost immediately after I read the Art of Racing in the Rain and the two combined are extremely powerful.


Great Characters.

Muppet Man--Jim Henson. Kermit the Frog. Rowlf the Dog. Miss Piggy. Swedish Chef. ANIMAL!. Not only are these brilliant characters but the way Christopher Weekes weaves them in his story is beautiful. The subtleties and specificities he uses to create these characters--to give them life--are touching.

This goes for all the films.

It's clear that the writers of these three movies not only love life, but have taken the time to sit and look at what really makes us tick. And they've found that it's not the overarching, massive, broad strokes of themes and ideas. It's the little shit. "All The Small Things" by Blink - 182 shit.

There's a reason why two very popular statements are: The Devil's in the details AND God is in the details.

We find the highest of happiness and lowest of pain in the details we see in life. When a certain someone looks at you in a different way--it can send you soaring or crashing depending on the context. But it's just a look. Or just a saying. Or the way someone responds to your text messages differently than usual. The small details of life are the glue that hold everything together. Find them. Use them. Write about them.

Now that I think about this, the plot of Dogs of Babel is entirely built on subtleties. I'll let you read the script yourself, but when Paul Ransome finally opens his eyes and sees the beautiful details his wife left behind for him it's an incredible scene. Once again. Chills.

After writing this something has occurred to me: Why haven't I used these in my stories yet?

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