The West Wing – A Perfect Antidote

Aaron Sorkin is one of my favorite writers, I like pretty much everything he has ever written. I even like Studio 60. I admit, not a great show but I like shows about shows and Bradley Whitford is always fun to watch. The same is true for Sports Night and Newsroom but Sorkin‘s best behind the scenes show is without a doubt The West Wing.

I’d vote for him!

 

Apparently the show originated when they had great material leftover from The American President. I mean obviously „leftover material“ doesn’t make sense but I think they realized that there are more stories to tell within the White House dealing with politics and the people involved. On the surface it sounds really boring but the characters are really compelling and you just love to watch them do their thing.

The characters are very well realized and even though there’s room to grow for them, they appear fully developed in the Pilot. Toby’s arc in the final season doesn’t fit though, but Sorkin was long gone by that time.

I’m currently in the middle of my yearly rewatch and the show is still amazing and has probably the best dialogue ever. Nearly every conversation has it’s moments and I know it’s stylized language but I wish I could talk like that in real life. I’d probably be somewhere in between Josh and Sam but every character gets great lines.

But it’s not just about the characters it’s about the storylines and the politics as well. In today’s world, it’s particularly nice to see a bunch of government officials who are trying to do good. We’re not used to that anymore. Granted, the Bartlet presidency had its fair share of disasters (the Zoey thing is happening in one of the next episodes) but there are other great two parters that elevate the storytelling. I’m binging the show and I’m astonished how high the quality of every episode is. Nearly every episode has at least one moment that I can still remember from my last rewatch… “ahh, that’s the episode where Josh does this…“. I rarely skip an episode and if I do it’s mostly because I’m not in the mood for something really depressing.

But let’s get back to the actual writing. I have no idea how Sorkin managed the workload on the show (drugs?). His name is on nearly every episode and maybe that’s one reason why the show is so consistent. You can clearly hear his voice, his values, his opinions and I have to admit, I share a lot of them or at least I find the presented arguments compelling and worth talking about. The show was sometimes panned as „The Left Wing“ and I can see where these people came from but I have no problem with how left-leaning the show is. In fact I think the show might have influenced me politically.

So If you’ve never seen The West Wing go watch it, keep two things in mind though:

  1. Yes, Bartlet would have been a great real president.
  2. Yes, the show is „old“ but isn’t it embarrassing that we’re still trying to solve the same political issues?

So, what are you waiting for. Go watch it. I fully endorse The West Wing and while you’re at it, go watch Sorkin’s movies as well. Molly’s Game was fun and who doesn’t like A Few Good Men.

Captain America – Civil War

We interrupt our regular program for some quick thoughts on Captain America – Civil War.

This is not a review and spoiler free!!!

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Team Cap all the way!

I’m not sure how well you know me, but I’m a bit of a Marvel geek. I’m into comics and I have a decent collection, not total social suicide big, but big enough. I know my basic storylines and I can tell you a few things about most characters. I read DC as well (and other publishers of course) but if asked, I’m a Marvel guy.

I love the MCU, there are some misses but the hits make more than up for that. I do see problems and issues in some of the Marvel movies but overall I find those movies to be well-crafted and entertaining and to be honest, that’s what I’m looking for in a movie. Good craftsmanship and entertainment.

Unlike BvS, Marvel’s latest flick, the 3rd Captain America Movie, titled Civil War is being received well by fans and most critics alike, but there is this undercurrent, this “but” that keeps coming up and it is starting to bug me a bit. I’m not going to link to these articles1 but I’m sure you know what I’m talking about: “Is the Marvel Formula going to work for ever?”.

I’m not saying that Captain America – Civil War is a perfect movie, maybe Marvel has a bit of a third act problem, I don’t know, I’m not a critic, I’m just a guy who likes movies and thinks he knows a few things about how they are made and what kind of deliberations go into storytelling. I’m not sure that I’ve could come up with a better third act than Markus and McFeely, probably not (it’s fair to say that this is also true for act 1 and 2) but for me the important thing is that act 3 doesn’t suck, and guess what…IT DOESN’T!

It’s a perfectly fine story that works and you can feel that the writers, directors and everyone involved cared enough about the audience to tell a story that makes sense and doesn’t insult people intelligence. Some people invoke the “Marvel Formula” but I don’t think that the issue is any formula. Look at other tentpole blockbusters, that’s just the way how those stories are told today. it was a bit different in the 80s in it will be different in 10 years, that’s just how it has always been.

What I love about Marvel is easily exemplified in the Airport scene, no it’s not the spectacle, that’s fun too though, it’s the fact I can can tell why each character is on the side he’s on, I know why they are fighting their friends and so do they. In fact, the one (or two) character whose alliance is not totally understandable due to their history (or lack thereof) they movie takes it’s time to explain this fact.

I could go on and start comparing BvS to Civil War but I’m not going to do that. This is a screenwriting blog and not a movie review blog so I try to draw the screenwriting conclusion. In Civil War that conclusion ist definitely that you have to make sure that your audience cares about your characters and that you don’t betray that by compromising the integrity of your characters for a plot point.

So that’s it. Go see the movie now, it’s awesome.

Btw, the score is quite good too, guess what I’m currently listening to.

  1. I’m too lazy and I don’t want to generate clicks for them.

I’m still trying

Ok, I’m still here and I’m really happy with myself. I’m still posting (more than a week after the relaunch) and apparently I have something to say as well. Ok, there’s the slight problem that I don’t have any readers but that’s a minor detail.

So, what is going on? Well, the new “Saber Rider” draft came along great. I managed to get some good changes in and I’m currently waiting on some feedback. I still need to check the typing and have a look at some of the dialogue but other than that, the draft is done.

After that I’ll focus on an idea for a new animated short and I hope to spend some time on the “Passion of the Geek”. The animated short is something we’ve been working on for quite some time and after a few setbacks we’re finally in a place where we think we have an idea we can work with. It’s strange how many good ideas just don’t work out the way you intend them to work out. You start with something you really like and you work on it as good as you can but somehow you just never get it to work.

So this is a short one. I’m binge watching West Wing but I want to leave you with something to get you into the right mood for the holidays.

The Awesomeness of “THE CORE”

I’ll let you in on a secret, it’s a big one…ready? Ok, here it is. I few years ago I found it, the most awesome bad movie ever. Forget “Tremors”, forget Ed Wood, don’t even mention that Asylum crap, the most awesome bad movie ever is Jon Amiel’s “The Core”. Let me explain why.

You know the story, it’s basically “Armageddon” in the other direction. Yes, that’s the whole plot of the movie. Earth is in danger, let’s fix it by going down to the core. Let’s build a vessel that can dig a tunnel to the core, let’s blow up some nukes to make the core spin again, let’s loose some people on the way to make it (mildly) exciting and (ok, this is not in Armageddon) let’s have this whole government conspiracy thing going, where the government is responsible for creating the problem by (and here it gets absolutely bonkers) building an earthquake machine. Yes, I’m not kidding, let this one think in nice and slow…the US government built an earthquake machine. Before you ask, no, Dr. Evil is not part of the plot.

So why is this movie so awesomely bad. Well, somehow nobody realized that the story is so completely bonkers and the played it totally straight. Nothing to indicate that they know what a turd they have, nothing. Everybody treats the material like Shakespeare. It is totally awesome. But before we delve deeper (see what I did here?) into the movie let’s have a look at the trailer.

Awesome, isn’t it? It’s not so much how totally silly it looks, it’s the fact that everybody plays it totally straight. They look really serious doing all that crap. It’s just beautifully bad.

What strikes me as odd, is the fact that we have a great cast but a premise straight from an Asylum movie paired with a decent budget. It’s hilarious too me that someone thought this would be good idea. I can see how they wanted to emulate other disaster movies but how can you fail to see that the premise, or (to be more exact) this premise paired with this execution is a perfect recipe for a disaster movie.

They could have gone another way. Picture it looking like an Ed Wood movie. Bad effects, wooden acting (even more than there is now) and bad (you don’t have to change too much here) dialogue. For additional points, let the composer go wild and let him use strange instruments from the fifties and maybe you could throw in a few German or Russian scientists and your set for an awesome experience. But I’m getting sidetracked, after all this post was about how awesome “The Core” is right now, in his state of “perpetual mindfuckness” (Is that even a word? I think it should be.)

So, what m I trying to say here? Well, get yourself a copy of “The Core” and enjoy it, preferably with some friends. I promise it’s worth it.

Bad movies vs. Bad movies

I admit it. I like bad movies, I really do and at least for me there’s nothing wrong with that. I even like movies that completely fail at every single level. It’s like watching a train wreck. You don’t want to look, but you have to. The Core is one of those movies. To be honest, I think the Core and Armageddon are basically the same movies. One goes up, the other goes down. But if I had to chose which of those two films I want to watch, I’d always choose The Core. Don’t get me wrong, both movies are crap, well entertaining crap but whereas Armageddon is Blockbuster crap that filled theaters, The Core is a rare breed of crap so far out there that it’s hard not to call it a craptastic masterpiece of epic proportions.

But I’m not here to talk about The Core (I’ll do that later, but I want to get that one right), I want to talk about the crap that’s out now.
I recently saw that Battle Los Angeles movie. O. M. G. WHAT THE FUCK!!!

Skyline? What the hell. I could go on but I think you get the kind of movies I’m thinking of. To be fair, nobody expects a movie like Battle LA or Skylien to be good, to be honest I kind of hope for them to be “bad”, but the good kind of “bad”, entertainingly “bad” not “let’s-see-if-we-can-bore-the-living-shit-out-of-you bad”.

Is it just me or has the quality of bad movies declined recently? Where are the truly great bad movies of the last 2 years? Thank you Hollywood for ruining bad movies. Well done.

What the hell…

I’m trying this wordpress thing again. I decided to write more and worpress lends itself more to longer texts than tumblr. I decided to use tumblr for my “how many movies do I watch” project. I’m at 84. I name each movie I watch and I write short comment. Sometimes the comments are very short, especially when the movie is really bad. 🙂

But here on wordpress I want to try and write longer texts, maybe even with some content. I actually have a lot so say, I’m just too lazy to do it. But hopefully my new macbook air is helping me with that. So far it has improved my productivity.

As for my other writing; I’m currently waiting to get feedback about the first act of that bird movie. I guess I will write an angry mail after I finish this. But so far the feeling I have about that project is very good. One could argue that the story is very classic but at least it works. But I don’t want to spoil everything. 🙂

I’m also in the middle of planning a research/vacation trip in summer. I’m going to the US of A. I’m really looking forward to that and I’m already picking out nice places to just sit and write. I also bought a new camera. I need to take a lot of pictures in New York (that’s the research trip) for the screenplay. New York plays an important part in the story and I have to make sure I get the details right.

But the main reason for the trip is Comic Con. I was really lucky so far. I survived the ticket and hotel nightmare and I not only have a 4-Day pass but also a hotel room next to the convention center. It’s going to be awesome. 🙂
So I have to write that mail now. Take care. I promise to be back soon.

Greg