Write on Wednesday – Won’t You Be My Neighbor – September 19, 2018

Our local movie theater in Easton, Maryland, has an Encore series on Thursdays. Movies at 1pm, 4pm and 7pm. My husband and I often go to the 4pm and then to dinner at Osteria Alfredo. For a small town Easton has its share of good restaurants and this is one of them. Excellent food and service…unless they are understaffed which happens from time to time. Osteria Alfredo is the same restaurant where the Stinky Book Club meets monthly. Although in Book Club emails the restaurant has been called Feckless Ostriches, Freaky Ostriches, Fractured Ostrich, Forsaken Ostrich, Ostrich Frenzy,  and Foolish Osprey. What can I say? We are three writers who like to play with words. I think the Ostrich part started when Laura’s husband could never remember the name of the restaurant.

The Thursday films are eclectic. Sometimes the things you would see at an art house. Sometimes a film that will be at the theater for only one day.  Sometimes films suggested by the regular attendees. The 4pm show is often sold out and the Osteria, which is in the same shopping center, is packed with those of us who like to go to bed early.

Last week my husband and I saw Won’t You Be My Neighbor, a documentary film about Fred Rogers.

Screenshot (16)

Filmmaker Morgan Neville delves into the life of the Fred Rogers, the man behind the show my children watched. I came out of the theater with a pocketful of wadded up Kleenex and a need to call my adult kids and tell them how special I think they are.

Read the reviews on Rotten Tomatoes and you’ll wonder, as I did, where are the Mister Rogers of today? We need them.


We Go to the Movies

We were in Key West for two weeks and one of the things we do is go to the movies – a lot.  Maybe it’s the Oscar nominations that pushes us to get out of the rental condo. After all, if you write scripts going to the movies is research.  Here’s what we saw and what I thought.

45 years movie

My husband and I have been married for forty years. All of us who have been married that long could recognize parts of ourselves in this couple. Not necessarily the big secret the husband carried, but the everyday work of keeping a relationship alive. Pollyanna me was hoping for a more hopeful ending; it was a depressing movie. Sex scenes with saggy asses hit too close to home. That being said, the actors gave amazingly nuanced, Oscar worthy performances.

joy movie

Until fifteen minutes into this movie, I didn’t know it was about Joy Magnano. Heck, I have a bunch of her products bought on HSN in the middle of the night when my husband was asleep next to me. And they are clever products I like and use.

I hope her parents are dead because they were portrayed as flawed users. As someone who writes scripts, I know that the genre historical fiction means you have to push the edges of what really happened. Laura and I did that in our script Loverly, the story of Alan Jay Lerner and how My Fair Lady came to Broadway. We had to fudge the date of Lerner’s father’s death. The date of his actual death inconveniently didn’t work with the plot arc.

I like movies where the underdog wins, especially underdog women, so I liked Joy.

danish girl movie

“Wow” is all I can say about The Danish Girl. The script was flawless as were the performances. If Redmayne doesn’t win an Oscar for best actor, something’s wrong. Don’t miss this movie. Watching him come to terms with his inner gender and trying on feminine mannerisms was so well done. This script is based on a book by the real Danish Girl. How horrible it must have been to be transgendered before anyone knew what it was. Spoiler alert: some full frontal male nudity that was not gratuitous.

Brooklyn movie

This was a beautifully done movie. It spoke to the choices that we make and how they effect our lives moving forward.

big short movie

I left The Big Short feeling totally pissed off. Why are none of the people who created this economic crisis in jail? And it sounds like they are doing it again. Both Laura and my husband had read the book and wondered how it could be possibly be made into a movie. So kudos to the script writers and how they made incredibly complicated financial issues understandable. Awesome performances by Christian Bale and Steve Carell.

We haven’t seen The Martian or Room, and I passed on The Revenant and Mad Max Fury Road.

Watching movies is research for script writers. I’m so glad it’s part of the job!

Dialogue When a Character Can’t Speak

Before Laura and I worked yesterday she showed me the photo of the Easter eggs she and her husband made. She said they organized all the necessary components for dyeing eggs she’d boiled the day before. They had a pizza delivered, and then they made martinis and started coloring eggs. I imagine just about any activity is more fun with martinis. She said next year she’s having an Easter Egg Party. That sounds like fun.

Easter eggs don’t really have anything to do with script writing, but we usually spend the first ten minutes of each work session bringing each other up to date on what’s happened in our lives.

eggs - Laura

Yesterday we worked on a script after lunch, tweaking dialogue according to notes we got a week ago. We’re making progress.

A challenge with this script is that one of the characters can’t talk because he lost his tongue to cancer. Mute characters make dialogue tricky. The notes we got wanted us to ramp up the conflict between two of the characters; when one of them can’t speak we have limited options. He can write a note or someone else can speak for him. Or he can act his ass off. Maybe we can give him a bell or buzzer like that character in Breaking Bad. If this gets made into a movie, it will be a fabulous part for somebody.

We should probably watch The Piano, a film in which Holly Hunter plays a mute woman. However, she can sign. I remember that as being one of the most depressing movies I’d seen. Everyone came out of the theater silent and downcast. It won three Academy Awards out of ten nominations. So much for my discriminating taste.

Big Eyes and Birdman: Playing Catch-up Before the Oscars

Laura and I have been playing catch-up, trying to see lots of movies before the Oscars. Sometimes we go alone, sometimes together and sometimes we get our husbands to come with us. In the last three weeks we’ve seen:
Big Eyes, big eyes

The Imitation Game, Imitation game


Citizenfour, citizenfour

Birdman. Birdman

and Into The Woods. I couldn’t capture the poster for Woods. The website rolled out pictures of all the characters and wouldn’t stop.

Laura also saw St. Vincent, but I waited too long and it was gone by the time I was ready to go.

Citizenfour really made us think about the reach of government into our private lives and the way the dots of our lives can be connected. Then Paris and Charlie Hebdo happened and I wondered if maybe that reach was okay if it could stop such horrible events. It’s a thorny question.

Our local theater has a Thursday program that brings films that might not be big draws to the local 14 year old boys who want Transformers and Super Heroes movies. Usually a film is shown at 1pm, 4pm and at 7pm. We like the 4pm showings as we can get out of the movie and, if we haven’t eaten too much popcorn, go to dinner nearby.

We saw Big Eyes and The Imitation Game back to back in Annapolis (an hour away). It reminded us of a mini film festival. Laura and her husband have attended the Rehoboth Film Festival for at least 10 years and my husband and I have gone for the last four. That allows us to see films that don’t come to Easton or Annapolis and we usually rack up at least 12 movies in three days.

My husband and I didn’t go to that film festival in 2014. One of the attractions has been that the film festival was held in a huge movie complex with 15 theaters. Several of the theaters were set aside for the public, but the rest were turned over to the film festival which meant we could easily see three or four films a day for three days.

A big tent was erected in the parking lot with food, drink, and festival t-shirts, posters, etc. It was just steps away from the theater so everything was in one place. We loved that once you parked you didn’t have to move your car; you didn’t have to be outside very much (Festival is in November) and could see more films. Our tradition was to see three or four movies and then go out to dinner to discuss them.

Last year the big movie theater decided that 2014 would be the last year the Rehoboth Film Festival could have the big venue and not as many theaters as before. Some movies would be moved to the local high school. At that point my husband and I decided not to go. Too much car jockeying, trying to find a place to eat, rushing to get a seat, etc. We didn’t think it would be as much fun. We’ll see what happens in 2015. Laura and her husband went for one day. They’d registered for the whole festival, but business intervened. When you run a charter jet company, you fly when you get a request.

We still have movies to see before the Oscars. The Golden Globes gave us an idea of the ones we really don’t want to miss. Boyhood is at the top of my list.