In one of my previous posts I gave an example of a movie I didn't like and outlined the mistakes made in the making of the movie comparing them to writing mistake. If you want a reminder go to Festivel Movies and Sucky Writing.
Now I'm coming from the other side of the coin and want to give you an opposite example, a good one, a movie I liked. A lot.
I saw A History of Violence last week and I am recommending it whole heartedly. I couldn't stop thinking about it for a few days after I've seen it, in fact, I'm still thinking about it a week later. Viggo Mortensen (or as we better know him - Aragorn) is superb in it as are the other actors in this movie.
I'm not a movie reviewer, nor do I have aspirations to become one, hence I don't know if it was the plot, the acting, directing (Cronenberg), or cinematography that was the one thing that 'made' the movie. Probably the combination of the lot.
In any event, the movie has that understated, almost subdued quality to it. A quality that I like. While the characters display emotions, they don't necessarily have to cry, shout, wring their hair out or whatever other devices and vices directors and actors choose for the purpose of emotional display. A History of Violence is similar to In the Bedroom in that respect (if you recall that one from 2001).
Another similarity between both movies is the dialogue, or lack there of. Don't get me wrong, there is a dialogue, and pretty darn good one, but it isn't the idiotic verbal stream most Hollywood movies are 'blessed' with. Thus, instead of the characters saying things, explaining their feelings, intent, thoughts, we see and understand what they want to express by their actions, motions, facial expressions or even sometimes from the camera angle the director has chosen, what we see on the screen and how we see it.
As writers we all know the Show, Don't Tell rule. It seems that some directors / film makers have heard of the same rule and when they use it in their films, the result is--as it most often is in writing too--amazing, intelligent and touching. A movie can have that much more impact if not everything is spelled out, if the characters occasionally act out their emotions instead of explaining to us that they're standing at a cross-road and have a hard time making a decision. Most times viewers are able to figure these things out on their own. Same with writing.
1. Show, Don't Tell - works well in both media
2. Give your audience/readers some credit, most are intelligent and don't need to be spoon fed
3. Sex scenes can be a wonderful device if they're not gratuitous (yes, after forgetting all about sex scenes (seems no one does sex scenes anymore since the new millennia started), this movie had a couple and they worked very well!)
I hope for more movies such as A History of Violence and if you haven't seen it yet, then what are you waiting for? It is one of the best movies I have seen this year, and if Viggo doesn't get the Oscar for his performance there then that would prove once and for all what the Academy Awards are worth!
Categories: writing, process, movies