Very good list of must-see episodes from my very first TV obsession.
Great list. Was hoping to see one of my favorite episodes, the Scully centric (directed and written by Gillian Anderson too!) “all things”.
Pixar story artist Emma Coats tweeted a list of guidelines she learned from her colleagues on how to create appealing stories:
#1: You admire a character for trying more than for their successes.
#2: You gotta keep in mind what’s interesting to you as an audience, not what’s fun to do as a writer. They can be v. different.
#3: Trying for theme is important, but you won’t see what the story is actually about til you’re at the end of it. Now rewrite.
#4: Once upon a time there was ___. Every day, ___. One day ___. Because of that, ___. Because of that, ___. Until finally ___.
#5: Simplify. Focus. Combine characters. Hop over detours. You’ll feel like you’re losing valuable stuff but it sets you free.
#6: What is your character good at, comfortable with? Throw the polar opposite at them. Challenge them. How do they deal?
#7: Come up with your ending before you figure out your middle. Seriously. Endings are hard, get yours working up front.
#8: Finish your story, let go even if it’s not perfect. In an ideal world you have both, but move on. Do better next time.
#9: When you’re stuck, make a list of what WOULDN’T happen next. Lots of times the material to get you unstuck will show up.
#10: Pull apart the stories you like. What you like in them is a part of you; you’ve got to recognize it before you can use it.
#11: Putting it on paper lets you start fixing it. If it stays in your head, a perfect idea, you’ll never share it with anyone.
#12: Discount the 1st thing that comes to mind. And the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th – get the obvious out of the way. Surprise yourself.
#13: Give your characters opinions. Passive/malleable might seem likable to you as you write, but it’s poison to the audience.
#14: Why must you tell THIS story? What’s the belief burning within you that your story feeds off of? That’s the heart of it.
#15: If you were your character, in this situation, how would you feel? Honesty lends credibility to unbelievable situations.
#16: What are the stakes? Give us reason to root for the character. What happens if they don’t succeed? Stack the odds against.
#17: No work is ever wasted. If it’s not working, let go and move on - it’ll come back around to be useful later.
#18: You have to know yourself: the difference between doing your best & fussing. Story is testing, not refining.
#19: Coincidences to get characters into trouble are great; coincidences to get them out of it are cheating.
#20: Exercise: take the building blocks of a movie you dislike. How d’you rearrange them into what you DO like?
#21: You gotta identify with your situation/characters, can’t just write ‘cool’. What would make YOU act that way?
#22: What’s the essence of your story? Most economical telling of it? If you know that, you can build out from there.
6 Filmmaking Tips from David Fincher
That thing about looking at each setup with one eye at a time kind of blew my mind. I can’t wait to try that. And totally agree about what you learn on your first movie.
1) “What you learn from that first [film] - and I don’t call it ‘trial by fire’; I call it ‘baptism by fire’ - is that you are going to have to take all of the responsibility, because basically when it gets right down to it, you are going to get all of the blame, so you might as well have made all of the decisions that led to people either liking it or disliking it. There’s nothing worse than hearing somebody say, ‘Oh, you made that movie? I thought that movie sucked,’ and you have to agree with them, you know?”
2) “I never fall in love with anything. I really don’t, I am not joking. ‘Do the best you can, try to live it down,’ that’s my motto. Just literally give it everything you got, and then know that it’s never going to turn out the way you want it to, and let it go, and hope that it doesn’t return. Because you want it to be better than it can ever turn out. Absolutely, 1000 percent, I believe this: Whenever a director friend of mine says, ‘Man, the dailies look amazing!’ … I actually believe that anybody, who thinks that their dailies look amazing doesn’t understand the power of cinema; doesn’t understand what cinema is capable of.”
3) “A friend of mine once, he was directing his first film and he called me and said, ‘How many takes can I ask for?’ And I said, ‘What do you mean?’ ‘Well I’m working with this actress and she said that she’s only going to give me six takes.’ And I said, ‘As far as I’m concerned, you ask for whatever it is you need.’ I’ve never understood… It’s not about an actor presenting their work to forty people around them. It’s about, you know, it’s the boom operator, it’s the camera operator, it’s can you tweak the light better, can the person hit their mark better, can they be in focus. There’s so many aspects, it’s not just about the actor. That’s the focus of what you’re trying to get, but it’s a ballet between so many different people. And to me that’s the thing, to make it all coalesce, to make it look effortless.”
4) In the commentary track for Se7en, Fincher explains that when he was working at ILM, he was taught that a director should look at each scene’s set up with each eye individually. Left eye for composition (because it’s connected to the creative right side of the brain). Right eye for focus and technical specs (because it’s connected to the mathematical left side of the brain).
5) “A movie is made for an audience and a film is made for both the audience and the filmmakers. I think that The Game is a movie and I think Fight Club’s a film. I think that Fight Club is more than the sum of its parts, whereas Panic Room is the sum of its parts. I didn’t look at Panic Room and think: Wow, this is gonna set the world on fire. These are footnote movies, guilty pleasure movies. Thrillers. Woman-trapped-in-a-house movies. They’re not particularly important.”
6) “You can’t take everything on. That’s why when people ask how does this film fit into my oeuvre. I say ‘I don’t know. I don’t think in those terms’. If I did, I might become incapacitated by fear … How do you eat a whale? One bite at a time. How do you shoot a 150-day movie? You shoot it one day at a time.”
Martin Scorsese's Film School: The 85 Films You Need To See To Know Anything About Film | Co.Create: Creativity \ Culture \ Commerce
SCORSESE! (Everyone take a shot!)
A Valentine’s Movie List
YES to Out of Sight.
by Chad Perman
If you decide to watch a movie on Valentine’s Day - and we here at BWDR obviously strongly recommend that you do - choosing one can be a bit of a minefield. The straight-forward Hollywood rom-coms of the past twenty years (at least) are usually god awful, the predictable and sappy ones often make you want to burn out your eyes (The Notebook, The Proposal, etc) and the indie ones, if well-made, are often tremendous downers or, worse, mumblecore and meandering.
And don’t even get me started on the anti-Valentine’s people who will seek out purposely anti-romance films just to prove that love sucks and people suck and nobody will ever be happy in this huge world of jerks (Thelma & Louise, The War of the Roses, The Break-Up).
But never fret! There is hope! There are actual movies out there about love that are well-worth watching with your significant other. Here, then, is a list of a few films you should at least consider watching this February 14th, in alphabetical order, as well as the reasons why:
Annie Hall (1977)
It is not an overstatement to say that, without Annie Hall, many popular romantic comedies made since its release would never – could never - have been made. Quite simply, Annie Hall changed what a romantic comedy was (and beat out Star Wars for Best Picture in the process). From the wonderfully authentic, improvised lobster scene, to Alvy and Annie’s split-screen psychoanalytic sessions, to the frequent head-on addresses to the audience (breaking down that illusive fourth wall of cinema, and doing it so damned humorously) and its non-linear, fractured narrative, Allen re-invented what a romantic comedy could do. And that’s why, 35 years later, we still need the eggs.
The Apartment (1960)
Billy Wilder made romantic comedies like they really meant something. And he never made a finer one than The Apartment. From Jack Lemmon’s opening monologue to Shirley MacLaine’s famous final line, the film is full of intelligence, humor, romance, chemistry, and charm.
No matter where you are in life, one of these films will speak to you. When I was in high school, Before Sunrise made more sense to me than I knew how to articulate, though now it seems a little silly at times - especially considering how much sense Before Sunset makes to me in my early 30s! Two wonderfully talky films featuring two people talking about love in honest, sentimental, naive, and learned ways. “It reminded me how genuinely romantic I was, how I had so much hope in things…”
Crazy, Stupid Love (2011)
Hey girl, this is the most recent film you’ll find on the list and thus one that I can’t wholly guarantee will stand the test of time. However, I’d guess it has a pretty decent shot of holding up over the years. Because it gets a lot of things right about love, in all its various forms (unrequited love, first love, mistaken love, lasting love) and, when a film can do something like that - and make you laugh at the same time - it’s a film worth seeing.
Clementine: This is it, Joel. It’s going to be gone soon.
Joel: I know.
Clementine: What do we do?
Joel: Enjoy it.
The Fountain (2006)
A philosophical art-house love story dolled up as a time-bending science fiction epic. The Fountain tells three stories as one larger story, a man’s quest for love and immortality that spans 1,500 years and takes us all the way from the ancient jungles of ‘new Spain’ to a futuristic world on a dying nebula star somewhere in the far reaches of our universe. The thing that connects these things, these stories, is the relationship between a man (Hugh Jackman) and a woman (Rachel Weisz), and the love that seems to tie them together eternally.
A Matter of Life and Death (1946)
The worst possible moment to begin falling in love with someone is undoubtedly when your airplane is just about to crash into the ground, but that’s precisely what happens to Peter Carter (David Niven), a British WWII pilot who finds connection with June (Kim Hunter), an American radio operator he manages to contact from his plane in the brief moments before he is forced to jump into the night without a parachute. They say their goodbyes and that, sadly, should be that. Except that Peter survives the crash, due to a rather sizeable heavenly mistake. And in the hours he lives out while the “other world” attempts to correct its error, he reconnects with June and finishes falling in love with her. Thus, when the heavens come calling for Peter’s life, he protests to the celestial courts, claiming he can no longer proceed with his initial fate, that the love he’s found changes everything. And while all this sounds rather silly and fantastical, in the famously capable hands of Powell & Pressburger, the whole things winds up being an insanely gorgeous and romantic meditation on life and love.
Out of Sight (1998)
Looking back, it’s rather extraordinary how much Out of Sight was able to accomplish, and all without a great deal of attention paid to it at the time. Not only is it the best film Steven Soderbergh ever made, it’s also the sexiest one George Clooney ever made, the best adaptation of an Elmore Leonard novel ever made (sorry Quentin), and the only film to ever make Jennifer Lopez look talented. Though the film is many things at once, it’s anchored by an intelligent and incredibly sexy cat-and-mouse love story between a criminal on the run (Clooney) and the federal agent (Lopez) hoping to take him down.
Punch-Drunk Love (2002)
From the swelling strings on the soundtrack which veer wildly from anxious to romantic, to the gorgeous, washed out cinematography and the beautifully painted screen wipes, Punch-Drunk Love is a film immersed in the feeling of love. Yes, there are other threats in the film, the dark moments Barry Egan (Adam Sandler) must get through on his way to happiness, but through love, he feels he can make it: “I have a love and it’s given me more strength than you could ever imagine”.
The Science of Sleep (2006)
Wonderfully enchanting and hypnotic, Michel Gondry’s film is filled to the brim with dream-laden whimsy and innocent romanticism. The Science of Sleep follows its own inner logic, a logic shot through with love, nostalgia, and dreams - and all the innocence, wonderment, and inherent sadness that necessarily entails.
Two For the Road (1967)
Stanley Donen’s Two for the Road is a treatise on love and its many complications. It might not warm your heart entirely - honest films about marriage rarely do - but Audrey Hepburn and Albert Finney, as an unhappy couple revisiting a road trip they took as young lovers, make you feel just about everything that one feels throughout the course of a relationship: love, lust, excitement, frustration, confusion, warmth, sadness, familiarity, betrayal, happiness, and loneliness. The narrative slips and slides through time and back again, tracing the highs and lows of Hepburn and Finney’s relationship, juxtaposing scenes of past delight with those of present despair. Think a slightly less depressing Blue Valentine, set mostly on the roads of France, and you’re almost there.
The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1964)
And speaking of France: a wall-to-wall French musical (no spoken dialogue!) set near Paris and starring a luminous Catherine Deneuve as a young woman falling in love? It really doesn’t get much more romantic than that.
When Harry Met Sally (1989)
Yeah, so, okay: you’ll probably find this one on a whole lot of Valentine’s Day movie lists. But that’s because it truly is fantastic. And we’re never above recommending fantastic.