Murder Your Darlings


 In many cases where it is contingent upon a writer to produce, the proof is in the word count; this has no bearing on quality, merely on coverage of a blank area which by a certain date must no longer be empty. The harshness of this task is mitigated by the possibility that the writing may not actually be drivel, but also carries the weight of the probability that it will.   

The focus of many bits of written discourse provided to the general public is one of information—the five w's—but how in the transmission of such data, in regards to theater and film, is the writer to stay, as it were, out of the way of the artists in question, since it apparently is their job to tell the story, not ours.  I would posit that the truest way is the shortest, hence my tendency toward brevity.  It seems as though the so called critic has absolved him/herself of the need to be concise, as in poetry, by the requirements of linear inches, whereas it is widely acknowledged that even James Joyce in his farthest flung raptures of language, was creating something if not short, at the very least  inexpressibly beautiful.

Unlikely that in the pressure of deadline, poetry will be the result.  But what if in place of long winded treatises on the detail of every movie or piece of theater, we could come to expect a lightness of touch, a feathering commentary no more than an extended haiku—wouldn't that suffice?  Or has the interpretation of the dance become a dance in itself, in which case there should be an Oscar for Best Review.

During this last month I saw each of the following in my evenings off--allowed to one 'fortunate' enough to be rehearsing in those slivers of time left after the working day. No theater.  For once I have listed them in the order of preference I have for them, least to most.

The Ladykillers

Read somewhere that Tom Hanks & the Coen Brothers aren't speaking at the moment; that's probably water under the bridge by now.  Having as I do generally more trust in the Brothers than in Tom, or better said, believing that they would come down more often on the interestingly edgy side as opposed to the spongy sentimental than would Mr. Spielberg's best bud, perhaps their creative differences were (mind you this is only speculation) more just in the nature of old fashioned who gets to be in the driver's seat.

Robot Stories

Greg Pak takes a stab at cinematic treatment of sci fi short stories—whether they were originally or not, the whiff of Asimov (or Heinlein or Bradbury take your pick) is still present. That's not bad, it just makes the film entirely dependent on the skill (not great, but heartfelt) of the production team to bring them to life, whereas in written form, you just play them inside your own head.  Of course you could have a crummy head...


This is Shirley Henderson month (or maybe year) since she seems to be popping up in a lot of trailers. I honest to god can't differentiate without imdbing this film from:

Wilbur Wants to Kill Himself  (Lone Scherfig, directed & co-written.)  

Genuinely liked the flow of this editing; very much like the pleasure of a good book.  Also Shirley Henderson.   Interesting! I still can't bring up the previous film...maybe Colm Meaney overwhelmed it.  But this one, I could see again.

Bon Voyage (Jean-Paul Rappeneau)

Oh how lovely to see & hear Gerard Depardieu! Best Film Score! Gratuitous multilingual Peter Coyote. Heart thumper.   

Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter...and Spring (Kim Ki-Duk)

After all that pontificating about brevity and I can't come up with a suitable haiku for this film which of course would most benefit from it, being a filmic bit of verse itself. OK, how about:

      squeaky ancient doors
      I sit in a darkened room
      seasons brush past me

Aileen; The Life & Death of a Serial Killer

Follow up to Nick Broomfield's "The Selling of a Serial Killer" which ends with the chilling revelations about how the state of Florida protects the rights of its inmates;  the real Aileen is (or technically was since she's legally put to death by the end of the documentary) an order of magnitude scarier than Charlize.  The spontaneity of her bursts of outrage was clearly even frightening to the filmmaker.   


Haven't checked in with my mom on this yet—I know she loves a good political film about as much as my partner does—but she doesn't care for Nicole Kidman, so that's a deal breaker for her & she's ticked off at the senior ticket prices going up anyway, plus her hearing is going & she can't go out in the evenings alone. Nevertheless, I think I almost could make myself call her every day to insist that she go see this on the big screen even when I know she'll talk my ear off about other stuff.  And I haven't even liked Lars Von Trier that much. This is Number One.   


©2004 Claudine Jones

For more commentary and articles by Claudine Jones, check the Archives.

Like an orthopedic soprano, Actor/Singer/Dancer Claudine Jones has
worked steadily in Bay Area joints for a number of decades.  With her
co-conspirator Jaz Bonhooley, she also has developed unique sound designs
for local venues.  As a filmmaker, she is doing the final cut of YOUR EAR IS
IN YOUR NOSE, destined for release next year or whenever her long time
technical task wizard Animator Sam Worf gets his head out of his
latest render.

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