Tag Archives: movies

Can’t We All Just Agree? (A new blog series about Things We Can All Agree On, right?)

Hey America, can’t we all just agree that fake kids’ handwriting is stupid?    never fooled me with that dumbass backwards “R” and neither do you, every movie and TV show with a handwritten mother’s day card or sloppily crayoned lemonade stand sign.  How about this, art directors – when you want something to look like a child wrote it, use an actual kid.

Also, America, can’t we all just agree that it’s a waste of our tax dollars to use well-paid, highly skilled policemen and women to direct traffic when this same task could be easily accomplished by folks who work for minimum wage?  Every time I see a cop waving for someone to slow down by a road repair project, I wonder why our well-trained, gun-toting law enforcement officers aren’t doing something more important with their time?

Maybe we could even develop a new lower tier branch of public workers (hello, job creation!) known as Traffic Force 2000.  The 2000 doesn’t really mean anything, but it would make the job sound cooler than it really is.  And there could be cool uniforms, too.  And reflective silver sneakers, for safety.

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Suspending Our Disbelief

One of the challenges of coming up with a good story is making your world believable.  Why do we completely buy into the existence of Hogwarts, whereas the sight of Tom Hanks stuck in an airport terminal makes us want to shout, “Just walk through the door, you big dummy!”

I’ve always been a bit of a cynic; perfecting my signature lip spritz-slash-eye-roll by the time I was ten.  Like when I learned that my short-haired, sensibly-shoed fourth grade teacher had formerly been a nun, but had left the church for “personal reasons.”  Nudge-nudge, wink-wink.  Sadly, none of my classmates were yet fluent in air quotes.

It is hard for me to suspend my disbelief.  Harder than most people, I’ve come to realize.  And because of this, on movie night, my sweet, patient husband is often forced to endure one of my rants.  i.e., “What studio exec was deluded enough to believe that seeing an elderly baby[1] on the big screen was a good idea?” Eye-roll/lip spritz.

And yet, I want to believe.  I long to be drawn into a fictional world, to clap my hands because I DO believe in fairies.

I love the magic, but I despise the lie.   And I firmly believe there is a big and obvious difference between the two–one, being a fiction that moves us to willingly suspending our disbelief, and the other, which dupes us into deluding ourselves.  Just like it did to all those mother-f-ers who caused the mortgage crisis.  I don’t think all of them were plotting to do evil[2], I think most of them were just suspending their disbelief.  I mean REALLY suspending it.  And if I had to guess, they’re probably the same people who also loved “The Terminal.”


[1] “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.”  Skip it.

[2] My guess is 20%, tops.

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What’s the Big Idea?

I have lots of ideas.  Folders worth of ideas. Filing cabinets worth of ideas.  Ideas for books, movies, TV shows, web series.  I even have ideas on how to run a presidential campaign (are you listening Obama 2012?).

I think of new ideas so often that my seven-year-old son has started to pick up my habit.  “Oooh, Mom!” he’ll gasp from the backseat of the car.  “I just thought of the best idea!”

Of course, not every idea I come up with proves itself to be a worthy one.  And sometimes, even a good idea will simply fail to capture my interest over time.

But among the many good ideas that I have, few of them are Big Ideas.  In that they will never be huge franchises and sorely lack potential for becoming action figures.

In the days when it’s all about the tent-pole, I am the person who like small ideas.  And I’m not talking about some low-fi indie film kind of small (though I like those too) I’m talking about high-concept Hollywood ideas that simply don’t have sequel potential.  And in today’s film market (and sadly in publishing, too) that’s really not enough.

I know I’m in the minority here, but usually, I just want to see a movie.  As in one.  I am also happy to read a book, about one subject, and then, if I like it, read ANOTHER book by the same author, about something totally different.

And yet, the world is looking for the writer who can produce A SERIES.  Because as everyone who saw the first CHIPMUNKS movie knows, none of us were able to sleep at night until we knew they’d be a SQUEAKQUEL.

That being said, in all likelihood, I’ll probably haul my son to a theater to see CHIPWRECKED (the third in the chipmunk series) because The Franchise has successfully done its job.  But if I have to endure hearing the latest Top 40 songs sung in chipmunk voice for 90 minutes, the least I can hope for is that on the car ride home, my son and I will come up with some great new ideas about the premise for CHIPMUNKS #4.

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It’s an Honor Just to be Nominated

This morning, I wrote the Acknowledgments page for the back of my book.  Throughout my writing process, I’ve kept a running list of the people I wanted to thank, so that part was easy.   But the truth is, I’ve been practicing my public thank you’s in my head for a very long time now.  (see essay below)

It’s an Honor Just to be Nominated 

I descend from the airplane onto the tarmac at Cannes in a gauzy white dress.  My skin is the color of milk because I’ve fanatically used the SPF 90 every goddamn time I’ve gone outside for even ten seconds, but the effect is flawless.  I look like a snowflake. And like a snowflake I gracefully drift down this set of metal stairs, and like a snowflake, I too have a unique imprint, a singular beauty. That’s how they’ll describe it in Daily Variety. I am at my thin weight, about the size of a skinny Oprah (which we all know isn’t truly skinny but is great for Oprah). “A zaftig snowflake,” the Hollywood Reporter will later say, uncharitably.  So maybe I’m more like a Medium Oprah, but at least they got the snowflake thing.

Halfway down the airplane’s aluminum steps, a gentle wind billows my dress as if on cue—not in a Marilyn standing over the grate kind of way, but more like the winds are heeding the call of the enchantress, like in a Stevie Nicks video.  I stop then, and smile at the reporters and fans crowded below, tossing my long auburn curls in their direction.  It is a restrained smile, the kind that says, “No, it doesn’t really mean anything to be here, to have my film in the running for the Palm d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival.  This is the fluff, the chocolate glaze on the éclair of life. Go home and kiss your children tonight.  That’s what’s really important.”

After winning the Palm d’Or, the Academy Awards seem like a blur.  At first, I consider boycotting them—everyone knows the Oscars are bullshit, I mean “Braveheart”, come on—but then I realized I might actually win, and how would that look?

Of course, no one told me about the limo line.  Chances are you’ve never been in it, but I can tell you it’s a lot like being stuck in the George Washington Tunnel at rush hour except you’re wearing taffeta so you can’t eff-ing move unless you want to end up looking like a Hefty Cinch Sack on the red carpet.  And if the thought of me walking down the red carpet makes you jealous, don’t forget that I rode all the way from my beachfront house in Santa Monica balancing every pound of my Medium Oprah weight on the back of my neck and my feet so as not to wrinkle the dress.  It was like a goddamn core fusion yoga class except at yoga I don’t wear $400,000 worth of Harry Winston diamonds.

“I’m the film’s director,” I complained at one point to the woman dabbing powder on my nose, “do I have to look so fricking pretty all the time?”

“You’re shiny,” she responded flatly.

Next thing I know I’m crying and my living rigamortis posture has collapsed in a pathetic heap on the limousine floor and the make-up lady is apologizing even though she doesn’t mean it because now there’s mascara running down my cheeks.

The next thing I remember, I’m on-stage at the Kodak Theater.  I am wearing black because let’s face it, I need too, and my acceptance speech is a hilarious off-the-cuff recollection of my tragicomic limo ride to these very awards!  Everyone is in stitches, and I hope they cut to a close-up of Nicholson laughing because later I’ll be able to parlay that into a new fantasy where I rendezvous with Jack in the ladies bathroom at the Vanity Fair party (you know Jack) and he tells me I’ve got chutzpah and that he’d like to do me in a bathroom stall.  But for now, I am just accepting this great, great award and people from high school are watching on TV.

After the laughs die down I take a deep breath, look directly into the lens of camera number three, and let the tears begin to flow.  Now it’s time to express my solemn gratitude for those who’ve come before me, to thank those who’ve helped me along the way and always believed in me, especially those who are dead now. That you’ve chosen me from among these talented directors is truly an honor.  It is an honor just to be nominated.

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