Due to heavy rainfall on Christmas Day, this poor little Jewish traffic reporter was swamped with work (no pun intended) on Saturday, so I got absolutely nothing done on the outline.
Sunday was sunny and much quieter, so I was able to do a little bit.
My plan was to keep moving forward today while doing afternoon drive (check it out! I’m on NPR! Well, the local affiliate anyway). But I also felt bad about having downloaded those script from the Black List and not read any, so I checked out THE 13th MAN, a WW2-era thriller about an Army comic book nerd who helps crack a case regarding Nazi agents on American soil. All music to my ears.
Wow. This thing is just amazing. Incredibly well-written. A genuine page-turner. Phenomenal story-telling. My only two gripes: keeping track of some of the G-men characters, and a clever plot twist at the end. While I did like the twist, and realize it does help hold the rest of the story together, would it all work if that whole subplot didn’t exist? Maybe. But I’m not the writer, so I can’t really say.
I’d give it a definite 9 out of 10. Maybe 9.5. I only hope the other 10 scripts I’ve got lined up are as entertaining.
One of the things screenwriters always hear is to not just write your own script, but read others. It’s one thing to read the script for a film that’s been made, or an old favorite. But reading an unproduced script that is actually circulating around Hollywood, or maybe won some competition(s) really helps open your eyes and shows you what works, while also showing how you could improve your own.
A common occurrence in THE 13TH MAN is that the hero not only repeatedly finds himself in a conflict, that conflict keeps building, and then builds some more, and then even more. It keeps getting worse, and he has to keep changing how he tackles the problem. He doesn’t always come out on top, because that would be boring. But each conflict he survives helps lead into the next one, or maybe has the big payoff thirty, fifty or seventy-five pages later.
I’d love to know how long it took Enio Rigolin from start to finish. It only got 9 mentions on The Black List, which is a shame. Then again, I really like this sort of thing, so I’m biased.
Hopefully I’ll be able to support this argument after reading a few more of the Black List scripts, but if Hollywood made more smart, well-written films out of these scripts, the industry would be so much better off. Treat your audience like intelligent adults! You’d be surprised how rewarding it can be. Once they get a taste of it, they’ll want more. At least I would.
One last thing. If I were in charge of casting for THE 13TH MAN, the first name crossed off my list for the lead would be Shia LaBeouf. He may look like the ideal nerdy soldier, but I still have issues with him as the son of Indiana Jones.
Besides, they should have used Frank Darabont’s script for that one in the first place, but that’s another post.
Movie of the Moment: KIKI’S DELIVERY SERVICE. My first exposure to Miyazaki from way back, and now it’s part of our family library. Utterly charming and just plain fun to watch for grown-ups and kids; the American cast does a good job, but sometimes the original Japanese with subtitles is equally enjoyable. Most important: V loves it, which is quite reassuring.
My suggestion: If the European element appeals to you, I highly suggest STEAMBOY, Otomo’s underrated follow-up to AKIRA.