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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Just a Little Drop of my Reign here...

What does it mean to make a story about a slice of life, and to make it believable in a writer’s work? What writers of cinema call Verisimilitude, is the subject of my interest at present, and why I am so enamored with screenwriters: we can’t live without them. Why, because good writers make the difference between an A-movie, and a passive B-movie, and even sometimes the movie that is labeled a Sleeper.




A-movies are great movies, and may become classics. Much of the time, these movies are liked by essentially EVERYone, and EVERY aspect of the movie has exceptional qualities: the dialogue, the plot, the character dimensions, even the scenery or the location or the scenes' tropes to reflect the meaning of the plot or story. But sometimes the movie is great simply because it holds human value, so deeply that people can’t stop seeing it, talking about it, or even draw a cult about it. Think of some of these movies, and think about why people like them—they STICK to one’s mind, and sometimes one’s soul.



Movies may be entertaining, and many people ONLY see the entertainment value in them. But movies are also life-changing. Some people have learned so much from them. Sometimes, they can make a person change direction, or gain strength to go forward toward some new adventure: travel, love, sacrifice, new insight toward someone or something in their life. THAT is an A-movie.



B-movies are entertaining, but an A-movie will give more than you expect. B-movies may try new actors/actresses, or new ideas on the public. A-movies use themes and tried and true plots, or perhaps just make an old value or truth of something SEEM new, presented in a new perspective. These are the kind of movies that are known to be lasting and moving in some way.



I like to think I can recognize A-movies. I’ve got a whole list of them in my mind, some of which are “Road to Perdition,” “Gladiator,” “Jerry Maguire,” or “Hoosiers,” to name a very small few. But then, there are the Sleepers, too. Sleepers may never gain the level of A-movies, but they gain something so unique. Why are THEY called Sleepers, anyway?



They usually are movies that do not get a lot of publicity, perhaps because they come in the wrong season of movie-going, or maybe the publicity is not showing well, or the title doesn’t affect the potential audiences, or maybe a current crisis in real life overshadows its coming out, and no one notices it, or maybe they are about something that people THINK they won’t be interested in, perhaps because of the wrong title, or unknown actors. But, given a few people with a penchant for quality movies, and word of mouth, they become popular as time goes by, and may even make it to the status of “Classic Movie.” Some surprise the public and maybe the Academy Awards make us aware of them. I’m reminded of “Sideways,” which had lesser known actors, who are known NOW because of the movie, which would fall under the heading of a Sleeper. It won an academy award for best original screenplay. It was followed by another Sleeper, called “Bottle Shock,” because the producers were smart enough to notice that people liked the theme. Sleepers work in the same manner as A-movies: they last long in the mind of the movie fans. They do something deeper than JUST entertain. The theme may be so enlightening or insightful, that we remember even the unknown or lesser known actors/actresses, and those actors/actresses suddenly become known—much like in A-movies, where the KNOWN actors become even greater in the public’s esteem.



Like Literature, like History, Movies are a part of our culture, and we learn a lot from them. Some, as I said before, are entertaining, and that’s okay, too. But those that leave their mark on our memories or hearts; those are the ones that are as important to us as Literature or History. Movies are a wonderful invention. Look for A-movies and Sleepers and make it a night out that is more than just a time-killer. Make your movie night an education.

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