Archive for the 'Movies' Category

A night at the movies

Last night we went to see “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End” at our local cinema. The first in this series quickly became a favourite of ours and the DVD copy has been much used in recent times.

I thoroughly enjoyed this latest offering, marvelling at the amazing special effects and the over the top sword fights. It is not quite as funny as the first in the series but still most entertaining. I find it interesting how Keira Knightly has developed as an actor, from an average performance in “Bend it like Beckam” through a great portrayal in “Pride and Prejudice” and on to this series. I thought she was somewhat out of her depth in the first “Pirates” movie but this last one has her in a very dominant role. She obviously revelled in the opportunity to show off the vast range of her talents, sword fighting being one of them.

It was interesting to see this latest movie in the “Pirates” series just two days after seeing the second in the series (“Dead Man’s Chest”). We missed this when first released in the theatres and I’ve only just recently bought the DVD. This particular movie is the poorer for having only one scene featuring Geoffrey Rush as Captain Barbossa. Fortunately he has a much more prominent role in this latest movie.

Now for a warning to all who have yet to see the movie – or those impatient people who leave the theatre before the credits have finished. There is a most important scene AFTER all the credits have finished – so stick around. It rounds off the story nicely.

Movies about writers: Casablanca

I guess millions of words have been written about the wonderful classic movie Casablanca over the years since its release. It is not my intention to add too many more words to what has been already written. I want to take a different tack to most writers on the subject.

It has been quite a few years since I last saw the movie. I recently bought a copy on DVD and we had a film night last night. Not having seen it for so many years it was almost like coming to a movie for the first time. It was a memorable experience.

This article is in my series called Movies About Writers. At first glance this movie is NOT about a writer, nor is it about writing. Think again. Writing as a mechanical act does feature on a few brief occasions through the movie but that is not what I would like to focus on.

One short piece of writing given a very prominent place in the movie is a letter. The letter written by Ilsa Lund (played by Ingrid Bergman) is delivered to Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart) as he is about to leave Paris. This was during a flash back to when they had first met some time earlier. The letter is short, simple and extremely poignant. It is a turning point of the movie and upon this letter revolves the whole tension between the two main characters.

Simple words. Yet so devastating in their effect upon Rick. We feel the intense disappointment of Rick as he screws up the letter and tosses it from the train as it moves off. The pain of that moment floods back as Ilsa enters his bar in Casablanca and the passion of their love is reignited. Just a few simple words, but their devastating effect is so far reaching.

Writers everywhere should take note; a few, simple words can leave a lifelong legacy. Encouraging words can turn a life around for good but words of rejection can destroy a life.

Such is the power of the written word.

Movies about writers: The Notebook

Last night I saw the movie called “The Notebook” for the first time. I found it a very enjoyable yet thought provoking story. With the enduring nature of true love as its main theme, the story seems lighthearted enough but with many poignant moments, especially the ending.

While the movie only mentions writing and poetry in passing, the whole story revolves around the reading of what is a journal like notebook. The story it relates is both joyful and deeply touching, especially in its sadder moments. To me it illustrated the importance of the written word in holding on to treasured memories and joyful moments.

Movies about writers: Down with Love

Down with Love starring Ewan McGregor and Renee Zellweger was recently shown on a local television station here in South Australia. The short review in the television guide attracted my attention. Here was another movie about writers; in fact, both of the main characters are writers.

McGregor plays the part of a popular journalist while Zellweger’s character is a popular writer for women. Set in the 1960s she writes a blockbuster pre-feminism book encouraging women to put career before love. This popularity makes her the target of journalist “Catch” Block (McGregor) who is determined to bring her down. Block is a compulsive womaniser and pursues her relentlessly, all in the cause of writing about her in a scathing way.

The movie contains very little about the process of writing nor comments much about the life of a writer. It focusses almost entirely on the relationship between the two main characters and the two supporting roles.

This is billed as a romantic comedy. I found it to be nothing but a pointless piece of fluff with a few mildly humourous moments. My wife enjoyed it and my daughter said it was hilarious, but I’m not about to rush out and buy the DVD for my collection.

Movies about writers: Paris when it sizzles

A few days ago I watched the movie “Paris when it sizzles” starring William Holden and Audrey Hepburn. Amazing as it may seem, I cannot recall ever seeing this well known movie before. Why – I cannot explain. If I have seen it, it must have been a long time ago because it was like coming to a movie for the first time.

What a romp.

I haven’t laughed at a movie as much since first seeing “The Gods Must be Crazy.” (I still laugh every time I see that movie and its sequel.) The makers of this movie must have had a ball making it; how the actors kept straight faces using all those cliches that screen writers and directors love so much. Just about every type of movie gets the treatment; from horror through to romance and everything in between. The improbable plot is a tour de farce of moviedom.


William Holden plays the part of a screenwriter. He has had months to write the script of a new movie but has frittered away both his time and the advance he was paid. The script is due in two days. So, in desperation, he employs a secretary (and wannabe writer) played by Audrey Hepburn to help type the manuscript.

Unlikely plot:

Between them they concoct a series of preposterously unlikely plots. As the film cuts to each scene they think up, the pace increases until they are finally satisfied with the movie. It is interesting that the act of creating a story is shown vividly in this movie – more so than any other I can remember.

Storyboard Technique:

At the very beginning Holden paces around the room laying out sheet after sheet of paper, each sheet representing another scene, another twist in the story, another problem to be solved. Trouble is – he has absolutely nothing written or drawn on any of the sheets of paper. This storyboard technique is well used in movie production and is increasingly employed by writers.

In this method, the writer adds minimal text or draws quick sketches on each sheet, each piece of paper representing a scene, or chapter or other section of the story. In this way the writer can see a visual representation of the story line, possible problem areas and places where the plot deviates unnecessarily. It is a very valuable technique to use when helping children to write, and is also employed by illustrators of children’s picture books. These days, many authors use sticky labels instead of sheets of paper, rearranging them as they sort out their thoughts and plot ideas.