Saturday, February 20, 2010

Rhyme or reason?

Did you know that scenes in screenplays can rhyme?

I'll give you an example.

"Master and Commander" tells the story of two friends, Captain Jack Aubrey and Doctor Stephen Maturin, who enjoy playing music together (violin and cello) when they're not busy leading and healing the ship's crew. Aubrey is a wonderful leader, sailor and fighter, a man who thrives on danger and action. Maturin is a wonderful healer, botanist and poet, a man who thrives on peaceful musings and quiet learning.

Towards the end of the story Captain Aubrey finds himself standing in the Captain's quarters of the enemy ship he has successfully won in battle, and he notices a sheet of music on the floor. As he stands and stares at the sheet of music, he is suddenly attacked by a French sailor who had been lying in wait for him. After a struggle, Aubrey succeeds in fighting the sailor off and forcing him to tell him where the French Captain is hiding - in the infirmary. Upon arriving in the infirmary, Aubrey sees two men, one lying dead on a cot and the other a doctor who explains that the French Captain lies before him, having only just died from his battle wounds.

The twist which we discover several scenes later, is that the French Captain had in fact disguised himself as the doctor.

Captain or Doctor? Warrior or healer? Friend or foe? And music too, of course. This is in fact the theme of the film, and the very essence of the quite beautiful and complex friendship between these two men. All of which is portrayed via these rhyming scenes.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

While driving yesterday afternoon

I was listening to the radio yesterday afternoon while driving and as I was changing the channels looking for some good, fun driving tune (Noddy Car doesn't have a CD player) I came across the voice of Kay Redfield Jamison being interviewed about her latest book "Nothing Was The Same." I had never heard of this woman before, yet within minutes of listening to her read an excerpt from a love letter her husband had written her I was sobbing.

This is the part I was just in time to hear:

“I am not glad the black hole is there but I am glad I have seen it. When you fall in love with a star, you accept solar flares, black holes and all.”

After I had a really good cry I switched channels again and this song came on:

I adore the way they start the song off with each other's initials. It makes me think of blogging, and that makes me realise how wonderful it is to have this opportunity to "write it in a letter form."

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Red Dog

Audition for upcoming film "Red Dog," based on the book by Louis de Bernieres:

I knew that you'd answer

Anna's back, and you know what that means....

That's right....

A celebration poem!!!!!

I knew that you'd answer
That line I did write,
That you'd pick up that flower
In its perfect soft light and
I knew that was you
When I heard that strange song
Of the tiny invention
Which I played with my thumb.

The others all knew
That to us you'd return
With a colourful alphabet
Soup of the soul because
You were the one who once
Showed us the sparks
Of the snow and the sun and
The tightly knit parks.
The trees purled in earth tones,
The leaves all crocheted,
The flowers from paper
Origami and lace.

The benches you sculpted,
Watercoloured the sky,
Took a paintbrush to raindrops
And found feathers for flight.
So the rest I shall write in,
Writing tight, right and strong,
Using letters from oceans
And a sadness long gone.

Friday, February 12, 2010


"The Bicycle Thieves," Italy.

"The Road," USA
"Last Ride," Australia

Three images of fathers and sons I have come across this week.

Imperfect parenting is astonishingly beautiful because it is true. I can't help thinking that mothers tend to pressure themselves to parent perfectly much more than fathers do. Yet perfectionism in any form is debilitating. In "The Bicycle Thieves" the son trips over and hurts himself while crossing a street in the rain, his father doesn't even see it happen as he's too busy running ahead in search of the man who stole his bicycle. Once they both find a place to shelter from the downpour the son begins to swat at the mud on his legs, his father asks him what he's doing, he responds "I FELL before, you know." The father looks at him for a long moment, shrugs and then hands him an already filthy handkerchief. I love that scene, and I wish we saw more scenes like that with mothers and daughters.

In the words of Roger Ebert: "Simple, direct and true."

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Silliest worry of the day

I was walking home from the beach with Blue this morning when I bumped into a woman who lives on my street. She was pushing her infant daughter in the stroller and I stopped to chat and admire the adorable baby. Since this neighbour of mine had her baby we have enjoyed a lovely "meeting in the street" relationship. However, prior to the birth, my neighbour had rarely even smiled at me from a distance. Of course, this fact could have been understood in any number of different ways, but this was the reason I came up with (more than two year ago!):

This woman had an old car which she parked on the street and never used. After a few months the rego expired and someone must have reported it to the Council/police because it soon had a sticker on it asking the owner to either remove the car or have it registered. The next day, the woman put a huge handwritten note on the car saying "To the neighbour who finds my car so offensive, get stuffed" (well...that was the general idea). I had decided that she probably thought that I was that person who had alerted the authorities, and even though I wasn't, I still felt incredibly bad every time she didn't smile at me.

Back to this morning. Even though we now have a lovely neighbourly relationship, as I walked away I still worried that she still thought it had been me who had called in her car. Which is clearly INSANE. But you were all so beautifully warm and generous and understanding in your commentboxes for my last post, so I just know that you will UNDERSTAND the insanity.

That felt very cleansing I must say.

Monday, February 8, 2010

No worries mate

Several years ago I worked in a residential college at one of the local universities. I managed the 32 students who lived in the building, looking after the daily running of the housekeeping, kitchen etc, and I also booked the rooms out during the semester breaks, a bit like running a b&b, only for academic visitors. One phrase which I found myself using often, much to the amusement of the foreign visitors was "no worries." You want to extend your stay? The phone isn't working? Extra towels? You're vegetarian? No worries!

The truth was that I worried ALL of the time. I worried that I had double-booked a room, that I misfiled applications, that I gave wrong change, that I was working too slowly. I tend to worry all the time about everything. Most of my worries....OK...all of my worries...are usually about imaginary things that only exist IN MY MIND. The real stuff that happens to me that's not so good, well...I just take action and deal with it as best I can. But the imaginary future is my downfall.

So now I have decided to list the ridiculous things I have worried about today. It's a type of blogging-as-therapy if you will:

That the librarians at the Film School (who I see almost every day, and for whom I baked alphabet cookies for Christmas) are irritated by me. I like to chat with the assistant (if you remember, the one who is intellectually challenged) and one time last December I didn't realise that he wasn't on a scheduled break and I heard him being told that, and I felt guilty and now I think the librarians think I'm a distraction to him, and that may lead to him losing his job and it would all be my fault.

That I'll be the odd one out in my screenwriting class and all of the other students will be really chummy and will go out to dinner together and have fun and I will end up crying in the toilets like I did in Year 6 when I didn't have anybody to hang out with at recess and lunchtime.

That I didn't walk Blue for long enough this morning, and my jogging husband is away, so Blue will pick up bad habits because Cesar Milan says dogs need exercise first and affection later, but I cuddled him a lot and gave him little exercise.

That I may have been too strident in voicing my views in a commentbox of a blogger who was discussing the moral implications of Bella's lack of premarital sex in "Twilight". She thought premarital sex was a good and healthy and beautiful thing and should be described in young adult fiction. Then I worried that I gave the wrong impression in that commentbox, I'm really ambivalent about the premarital sex issue, I really wanted to say that I don't like criticism of stories on moral grounds, stories are entertainment. I'm going to stop now and go on to the next worry. Sorry.

That I am spending too much time worrying instead of actually doing stuff, such as looking after the house, the family and my future-as- yet-to-be-discovered-money-making-career. That's right, I worry about worrying too much.

I bet you can't wait to read tomorrow's list.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Doctor's orders

Having a bad day? Exhausted? Under the weather? Not quite yourself? Pessimistic?

Rent "The Full Monty". Doctor's orders.


Script written by Simon Beaufoy, same genius who wrote "Slumdog Millionaire."

If after a couple of hours you're still not quite happy, apply "Calendar Girls" immediately.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Me me me

Brilliant advice from all of you, as always. Thank you so much...update to come concerning the boy's renewed interest in reading, but I don't feel like writing about my children today, I want to write about me. It's all about me.

Me me me me me.

I received the viewing/reading list for my screenwriting course and am using the next two weeks to try and cram in the whole semester's worth, before classes begin. As a mother (albeit with kids who are teenagers) I still have a mortal fear of "unexpected family commitments which invariably occur on the week/day/night before an assignment is due and which lead to my failing a course/losing a job/going crazy."

Of course, my current anxiety level can never compare to that excruciating feeling I used to have when I had finally set up my dream job/dream course only to then have to juggle the relentless unexpected realities of real life with small children.

There was, for example, the university course which had me sobbing in the timetable coordinator's office while explaining that no, I could not wait for him to give me my time-table for next semester NEXT semester because my baby's daycare required a term's notice NOW. I remember, as if it was yesterday, that horrible Kafkaesque feeling as I sat before this elderly male professor, heaving and hiccuping and ranting on and on and on about my little boy's daycare arrangements, my girl's school which finishes at 3, my husband's business travel arrangements for the next year, my parents' home in faraway England, the debilitating boredom of housework, the flu that I couldn't seem to shake, and the fact that I hadn't slept through the night in 2 years.

Good times, good times.

The one thing to remember with parenting - everything always changes. So here I am about to embark on a course of study which promises to be both enjoyable and challenging. In preparation for the first class I watched "Fight Club" and the pilot episode of "Sopranos," and then I read the script of "The Full Monty." How do you like that for homework? Come on people, I just know that you'll have opinions on those three. I had watched the two films before, many years ago, but I had never watched any Soprano episode. How has this been possible? I'm ashamed of myself, I missed out on years of enjoyment. That first episode is beautiful, really, it's beautiful - Dr. Melfi the psychiatrist trying to get Tony to understand why he had an anxiety attack after the ducklings from his pool finally flew away? That scene sums up what I love about the role of film in our lives, it makes life worth living, it makes me happy. Or how about that scene in which Tony tells his wife Carmella that he's seeing a therapist and she's so happy that she practically dances a jig there in the restaurant and she tells him "That's so gutsy." Ohohoh, and the scene in the other restaurant when he bumps into Dr. Melfi and he thanks her for her help with the "interior decoration." I'll stop now.

What's the general opinion about "Fight Club"? I tell you what, it's different to watch it after 9/11, you know, (**spoiler alert) the ending scene in which he and Marla stand at the window and watch the huge buildings explode? The fight scenes still make me very queasy, but I think I understand the film more at this stage of my life, when I have more experience with men and their inner lives. It's a classic.

I've been told that there will be only 10 students in my class, 5 men and 5 women, mostly late 20s and early 30s so I'll be the oldest. You want to come along with me? Shhh...if you stay very quiet you can come along with me, all right? Hey Kim, would you please STOP shoving Eurolush outta the way? There'll be plenty of room for ALL of you, I promise. Oh, but'll need to wear something other than pyjamas. Really.