Movie Reviews (Stories)

Movie Reviews

I’m not a true movie reviewer, that is, in the sense of being paid or published.  I do it mostly to develop as a screenwriter.  The reviews do, however, fall in line with a previous column I used to write for Script Magazine, “What Is A Story?”

I simply love movies.  And, they are also the primary target for me as a songwriter in pursuit of licensing deals.  But matching song with scene is strictly a matter of luck.  A music supervisor might know what kind of song is needed for a scene, but it’s sheer luck that song would be yours.

Anyway, my focus is understanding what the story is about, more so than writing a review to help someone decide if they want to see a movie or not.

It’s not only a quest to understand the different kinds of stories but also how they are told in the form of a movie.  Screenplays are never meant to be read by the public.  A screenplay is a blueprint for visual storytelling.  Much of what we see in a film is not in a script.

Well, it’s the different between the word “apple” and actually seeing an apple.  Even though a script might say, “apple,” how the apple is portrayed on screen makes all the difference in the world:  how it’s lighted, who’s looking at it and how, or perhaps whether it’s red or green (depending on how specific the screenwriter is in describing it).

In the movies, it’s not just the kind of story but how it’s visualized, most assuredly a sharp contrast to reading and using one’s imagination.

We “see” movies more than we experience them through any of the other 5 senses of touch, taste, hear or smell.  Virtual Reality promises to change that.  But even in a virtual world we still can’t touch anything, even though smells might be emitted electronically as we are engaged in the VR experience.

It appears we can never be fully engaged in a movie, but who’s complaining.

Something else about movies:  one is never enough.  There are some people who occasionally watch a movie, without any expectation other than to be entertained.  I fall into the obsessive category, where movies are the primary source of my worldview.

Movies are the gateway into worlds I have never seen and probably never will.  Like in Deerhunter, where the shots of the inside of a steel mill were the first time I’d ever seen inside one.  Showing the characters working inside a steel mill were critical to understanding the story and who the characters are.

I’ve certainly never traveled in space, through time, or into the center of the earth, and you can bet I never will.  Aliens, dinosaurs, the creatures of Pandora?  Someone jumping off a cliff? Mobsters opening up machine guns in a restaurant?

Stuff never seen or experienced is only part of the story, however.  Many stories do relate.  In fact, they hit home, as they say.  They strike right to the heart or gut, or wherever it is you feel life so strongly.  Somebody’s been through what you’ve been though. Maybe you’ve been scared out of your mind.  Or perhaps you hear dialog reminiscent of the way someone used to talk to you, and now you understand more what they were saying.

There are so many kinds of stories it’s just mind-boggling.  From ancient cave drawings to the latest animation from Pixar, different stories touch different people. But does it matter to the audience what kind of story they’re watching?  Do they know a parable when they see one, or the difference between a fairytale, ghost story or a fable?

No, I won’t answer with, “they just want to be entertained.”  Never underestimate the passion of movie audiences. There are movie goers who will never work in Hollywood, but know more about movies than a room full of Hollywood big wigs.

They can tell you not only what kind of story it is, but name all the characters, describe all the costumes, and explain the social and cultural significance of the way the cinematographer and director used certain camera angles.

Not sure how much of the world we’d understand without stories.  Stories are inate; organic. We need them like food and sleep. They make sense out of what we see in real life.

It’s because of all this I’d love doing movie reviews whether I was associated with moviemaking professionally or just a guy who loved film.



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