Story telling: In the heat of the night 2/2

In the hunt for key scenes in movies, it was hard to make a decision for In the heat of the Night. In an earlier post I showed one scene somewhat one-third into the movie where Virgil Tibbs is sitting at a train station waiting for the train so he can leave the town of Sparta with its oppressive atmosphere of racism.
Another scene I find intriguing happens about halfway into the movie. Virgil Tibbs and Police Chief Bille Gillespie visit the local big wig plantation owner Endicott played by Larry Gates. The scene is set in a greenhouse where Endicott is tending to  Orchids. After an intro, which is in itself epic, talking about orchids and comparing the meticulous tending of orchids to the tending of blacks the two policemen seem about to leave.

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After the discussion about the orchids the suspicion against Endicott grows as fern was found in the car of the victim and fern is used in the cultivation of or orchids. Gillespie makes a move towards the exit.

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In these scenes we see Endicott change from amicable condescending, to downright condescending and then the quarter drops. The key trigger is Gillespie who basically uproots the exchange by suggesting to leave.
And you can see Endicott, beautifully played by Gates get suspicious and hostile. For why did they come here?

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This is a classic WTF moment.

The next scenes move the story towards the slap scene.

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Now the roles switches, staying perfectly formal and neutral Tibbs explains their presence, but it is obvious that he feels and acts in no way that Endicott finds acceptable. The ‘Negro’ becoming the dominant one and questioning him.

 

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Gillespie’s presence in this scene is important. He seems like a neutral bystander just watching what is happening.. Steiger plays Gillespie in a way that it is hard to get what he is thinking. People around him vent their opinions, but he never seems to have one. This is a handy way, for people often take it that by having a clear opinion he seems to agree with them.  As the movie progresses it becomes clearer that a kind of respect is growing between him and Tibbs. At the end of the movie this results in a scene in which Gillespie turns around and tell Tibbs to take care of himself.

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At this point Endicott drops all pretense of civility and enraged slaps Tibbs in the face.
Tibbs instantly returns the favor, to the astonishment of everyone.

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We are now halfway through the movie and Gillispie, a sheriff from a town deep in the south sees a ‘negro’  slap a white man. But this particular negro is a fellow policeman and the suspicion that Endicott might have been involved, which is what Tibbs believe or like to believe, might have gotten hold with Gillespie too.  And  so he doesn’t act. Or rather he acts by not acting. Hence Endicott’s reaction:

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The interesting part about the movie isn’t the investigation of the murder. It is pretty pedestrians as murders come. On the face of it, it seems like a movie about racism. And while that is true, it is more about the relation between Gillespie and Tibbs and how this unlikely pair of policemen work together and find common ground and respect. And thus racism might disappear.

Story telling: In the heat of the night 1/2

The scene:

Virgil Tibbs(Sydney Poitier) is a black police detective from the North who gets stuck in a small town deep in the South where  black people are addressed as ‘boy’ and other derogatory names. He is more or less forced against his will to aid the local police forces headed by Chief Bill Gillespie(Rod Steiger), investigating the murder of a prominent businessman.
The murder isn’t the most interesting  part of the movie and is more the MacGuffin that keeps the story going.  The racial tension itself is more the focus. But in a way in how Tibbs and Gillespie interact. For while there is the racial divide, there is also something like a band of brothers for they are both policemen.
The scene starts with Tibbs, having a belly full of the racial hatred, deciding to leave town. Chief Gillespie attempts to change his mind.  Since the images say enough(edits are mine):

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Movie rawr: Contact

 

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Oh the earth.. and look that is the sun..

After spending a third of a trillion dollars Ellie, played by Jodie Foster, finds herself at the other end of a worm hole. That is to say: back on Earth. It took her 18 seconds to do so.

Earth, inhabited by moronic creatures called humans, has just found itself to be the target of practical joker living on a planet orbiting Vega or thereabouts. Thereabouts cause that planet was probably just a relay station. It send them humans an instruction manual for building a device nobody on Vega or thereabouts could afford to build, hoping them dumb humans would do it. And they did. In fact, they made even two of them. How stupidly funny is that.

To their great embarrassment one of those earthlings appeared so they had to sent it back with some garbled message that would have the slow witted creatures pondering stuff for the rest of their pathetic existence and leave the rest of the universe well alone.

What is next? Ellie asks her dead daddy, the guise the alien has assumed for her convenience(and not Adolf H, which would have been funny). Well, we sent you back without a shred of evidence and nobody will believe you. And we erased all the tapes, and the audio and anything that could proof we exist. How about that? It will be just like.. a religion! You feel right at home!

Fine with me, Ellie says. For we have found out that Ellie doesn’t believe in gawd.. but she does believe in something after having had her trip to another world. So she has become a spiritual person so she can have intercourse with the religious guy named Palmer Joss without feeling ashamed about it. (In hindsight the painful look on her face when she kisses Palmer might very well be because Foster was a closeted lesbian, which by Jove would at least have made the movie more interesting if Ellie had been too. Nuke them straight people! )

So the whole movie, aptly named Contact, was about finding an excuse for the atheist (assumed closeted lesbian) Ellie to have (straight) intercourse with the Christian Palmer(who isn’t gay). Two third of a trillion dollars spent on matchmaking and brain reprogramming.. Does this movie get closure that way? Perhaps it does.

The more I think of this movie, the lower my scoring. The biggest part of the movie turns around a conflict between science and religion, in which the latter means: the Christian faith of the American kind. 95 percent of the humans are religious someone says to atheist Ellie, which is why she doesn’t get selected to go to Vega at first. She could have replied: but only a third of them are Christian. So who will it be? A Christian volunteer? A Muslim one? A Jewish? A Buddhist? Which religion shall be required? And if it will be Christian, which of the ten thousand denominations? The catholic one? Oh and did I tell you about my sexual orientation? Only 4% of the female population confesses themselves to be lesbian. And how about white vs black vs Asian? What race shall represent earth?  And what country? But we just skip over those shall we.. cause, darn it, this is America and there is just one American gawd and that is the white Christian one and no other exist!

And the American atheist gets to finally go after the designated white American Christian dude and the first alien device gets blown to smithereens by an equally white American religious nutcase cause them Americans prefer their own American atheist to go after all in their secretly build religious nutcase free intergalactic American travelling device version two, so they can adorn the alien property with an American flag. Only they forgot to give her one. Or that atheist is just as unAmerican as McCarthy would have us believe..

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Isn’t space nice without humans?

The nicest part of the movie is the beginning sequence, in which we see no humans at all. The camera travels backwards from the planet into outer space. Cool that! In between there are some more nice shots of desert landscapes and some sequences about the planets. As long as there are no humans in it, the movie is actually nice.

Jodie Foster, how I like her, is at her worst here. She seems constantly on the brink of a nervous breakdown, about to scream or about to cry. Why did they send that nervous wreck to the aliens? No wonder they returned her without any evidence so they will not send another one. Cause them humans are just too stupid to get that travelling through wormholes mucks with space and time. But you know.. Einstein is dead and with him all the brilliant scientists have died out.. Stephen Hawking? Never heard of the guy. Carl Sagan? Wasn’t he a script writer for sci-fi movies? Higgs? Penrose? Witten? Just a bunch of loonies.

The movie has also Blofield in it. He is named Hadden. Hadden is a deus ex machina. When the plot grounds to a halt, he steps in with a lotta money and gets it floating again. So Sagan, writer of this marvelous trash sees salvation come from the upper 1% of the upper 1% of the upper 1%. It is the gawd of monies that makes the world go round and the atheist go to Vega.  Jup.. the movie is almost brilliant. But there aren’t any cats in it though so it remains almost.

At the end of the movie Ellie is back were she started: in command of a large array of antennae listening to the universe. Did anything happen in between? Apparently not. It was all a dream probably or maybe she got back to another Earth in another universe? Isn’t that her once deceased dad in the background walking toward her over a pearly white beach? What was it all about? Well, we see her looking up at the night sky showing a milliard sparkling stars. She has become that spiritual person in which the scientist and the religious fanatic have become one. I feel at peace with the universe now. I am not alone anymore.. So let’s depart with that gooey feeling. Yuck..

I give it a five out of ten.

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Story thoughts: Unbearable knowledge(Oldboy)

The scene

A pretty young Asian girl hangs over the edge of a walkway on the top of a dam. An equally young Asian man holds her by the wrist, but she struggles free from him eventually. He cannot hold her and she falls to the green waters far below.

Revenge and punishment have always been important  in stories. What would be a proper punishment for a crime that causes the death of a person, beloved by another person? How can one atone for such a crime?
Oldboy is about a man, Oh Dae-su, who gets locked up in a room for fifteen years for reasons unknown to him. Who locked him up? Why was he locked up? That is what the movie seems to be about.
But the movie turns things upside down. It doesn’t take long to find the man responsible. We know this pretty soon into the movie. But with the who does not come the why. For that is what the man responsible, Lee Woo-jin, charges oldboy to figure out. Why was he put there?
And Oldboy has been given a hint: he talked too much.
But even that doesn’t seem to be quite the purpose. For while he gets a five days to find the motive, he is also set up for revenge that actually represents the reason why. And when he finds out the reason, he is also discovers a truth that makes  him a  the victim of it.
And here is an interesting idea:is a man guilty of a death he did not know he caused?
The movie does not quite end with atonement.  Oldboy finds out what is the cause of his imprisonment but he also finds out what revenge is in store for him. And knowing is unbearable.  And thus he atones for his crime by cutting his tongue and ask a hypnotist to erase all knowledge.
Without his ability to speak and remember he should be able to get on with his life. But the movie doesn’t let him off the hook so easily. At the end he might not have forgotten everything.
What it is about is for you to find out…

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Story thoughts: The better life(Trainspotting)

The scene:

In a smoke filled pub Renton, Sick Boy, Begbie and Spud squat around a table filled with empty beer glasses. Prominent on the table is a black and white sports bag. The men are merry and exchange light banter. Begbie rises to get a new round of beer.  His gaze glances briefly over the bag. He nods at the bag and tells the others to keep an eye on it. Sick Boy rises as well to go to the bathroom and mentions to the remaining two that the bag would better still be there when he returns.

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For a moment Renton and Spud are alone. Renton suggests to Spud the notion of taking off with the bag as if in jest. Spud rejects the idea. A moment later the Sick Boy returns from the bathroom. 

Then Begbie makes his way back to the table, his hand full with glasses and he collides with another man. The beer spills over his clothes. Enraged he turns around to shout abuse at the man. The man returns words in kind. Begbie explodes and smashes a beer glass of beer in the face of the man, kicks him hard and again when he falls to the ground. Next he draws a knife to threaten the mans friends. When Spud closes to calm him down he cuts Spud in the hand by mistake.

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Renton, his back to the scene of violence, then makes his decision. He will abscond with the bag to a better life.

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I’m about to be on the floor again,
Surely you’re gonna find me here

I’m about to sleep until the
End of time, drug I take
gonna wake my
fear right now
I’m passing away on to the
Better life
“The Better Life” 3 Doors Down

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The desire for another -often better- life has always motivated people to do things they wouldn’t do otherwise. Like stealing from friends of instance. Trainspotting starts with Renton listing all the things ‘normal’ people have and he lacks. At the end of the movie, after having acquired the means to attain a better life, or so he thinks – he lists them again. Everything he is going to have. The movie has come full circle: the snakes bites its tail.

Renton lives at the other side of the fence, in the prison: he is a drugs addict, living in a poor area, in a time the economy was in a bad state. He smokes, he drinks and is involved drugs and petty crimes. And his friends aren’t really friends. So he calls them mates. For Renton has just one friend really, which is Spud. Which is why he give Spud his share of the money from the bag.

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Will Renton escape the prison to the better life?

What do you think?

And does it matter?

Movies end before we actually find out. For once the escape is done, there is nothing more to convey. Like the summit of the mountain has been reached what was needed to be told is told. It reminds me of the movie Goodfellows: Henry Hill escapes from his life as a mobster by ratting on his fellows, an inevitable development because he is caught by the law and his criminal associates suspect him of doing what he is going to do: betray them as part of a deal with the authorities. In the end he has no other option. At the end we see Hill on the porch in front of his house. It is an unremarkable house in an unremarkable neighborhood. He is a nobody now, like you and me. Safe perhaps, but a nobody. And he seems to regret it in a way.

Many story is are like aiming at the better life: if the ring has been destroyed then the evil is gone and a better life will return. It is a powerful motive in a story. A kind of MacGuffin that makes a story go. Stories seems to abide in a world that is off-kilter, a temporary state of unbalance and unrest. Different from the normal world. Something to consider when writing stories.

 

 

 

 

 

Henry and Kristel prepare for Doomsday

“There are fine lines between referencing something, borrowing from it and beyond that: by duplicating the original.” Kristl said.
“Hm? Where are you going with this?” Henry sort of woke up mid sentence..
“Take this line for instance, it consists of letters.. and these are hardly original..as we only got twenty six of them and virtually nobody adds any new ones to them. So you have seen these letters a trillion times and you will see them again a trillion times.”
“Yeah.. although…I understand some Asian languages have tons of them. Maybe even new ones?”
“For the sake of the argument I stick to the language I know..”
“Ah. Fair enough.”
“So we combine letters into words.. which are not really original in themselves as most are being reused again and again. But sometimes people make up new words, but that is rare.”
“Like fabbleak..” Henry said.
“Fabbleak?”
“Just thought of it.. it sort of expresses a state between being flabbergasted and feeling weak.I added an extra b just so you don’t make a mistake with fableak.. which sounds more like a word you use for a famous person who needs to go.. toiletside.. you know.” Henry made a vague gesture with his right hand.
“Right.. but unless fableak..”
“..fabbleak..”
“..fabbleak takes off as a new word used everywhere, we will not see it being used much. Unlike words as..”
“Much?”
“Much is a wordt that is used much”
“So words are combined into sentences and there you might even get something original. And then there is the next level… where sentences are combined into paragraphs and  the next where paragraphs are turned into stories and bigger stories have even things like chapters or sections or even books.”
“Right. So what?”
“Well.. the whole point is that reusing sentences from someone else does not make a new and original story and neither does the reusing of ideas from other movies make a new original movie unless you add something to it yourself or arrange them into some unique way.”
“Ah.. I see where we are going.”
“Doomsday explores the line between referencing something and just piling other peoples ideas onto each other and adding nothing to it. So this movie borrows from Resident Evil 2, then steals from escape from New York, then is inspired by Aliens then turns into Mad Max, then becomes some kind of knight movie and so on. Actually they even added in V for Vendetta with the government bad guy Canaris looking and acting like that Creedy from V for Vendetta.”
“I guess. It is just a movie to entertain. Not something that should make history..”
“Right.. but it does not even do that very well. You see, the major problem is that you then require some group of charismatic characters spouting one-liners. Maybe these are not people you like, but at least people that catch the attention.. but nobody seems to actually stand out.. I mean McDowell and Hoskins almost seem to reach that point, but the main lead certainly does not. It is as if they are deliberately held back.”
“Well Rhona Mitra stands out: she is attractive and muscled enough to make her fighting believable?”
“But her Eden character simply fails to stand out somehow.. she is not Alice from Resident Evil, nor Snake Plisken from Escape From New York, although they try hard to imply the link with her one eye. Nor does she stand out like Selene from Underworld.. even though her dark complexion and English accent sort of seem to point that way. “
“Well.. I think it was entertaining in some way, but nothing to write home about. Kinda strange that they kill of that weird looking chick that is on the front of the advertisement so soon. I think she was only in it for like five minutes.”
“That perhaps that illustrates the point. When they have something that stands out, they kill it off…just to avoid having something that might raise your interest.”
“I was a bit befuddled about that whole knight scene. Suddenly we were in the middle-ages.. it just needed some grey bearded wizard and a little fellow to turn it into lord of the rings…”
“Yes.. well.. if they had added them, it might have even amounted to something..” Kristl said.
“Also strange that the people turned to cannibalism while the group runs into a enormous herd of cows and well. You can eat cows… ”
“And while they have no gun they do have cars as if getting or making fuel is easier than making gunpowder. Let alone keeping a car operational..”
‘Well, perhaps it is time to stop trying to see reason in this one and just say: another hot chick flick that is pointless…YAY..” Henry said and he laughed at his silly joke.
“Pointless chick flicks!  Let’s hope there won’t be a sequel or at least not one made in the same fashion.” Kristl said, “Pointless chick flicks.. very funny.”
Henry ducked into the corridor to head over to the kitchen to make some coffee. This way he avoided a confrontation over his joke.. for the moment.

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Dreams in Neon

Recommend to set it to HD^^

Dreams in Neon is a movie made at Insilico in Second Life. Insilico is a vast place covering several so called ‘sims’ all done in a cyberpunk, near-futuristic style. Music is Max Waves, called Twareg Rose and made for it. Well that is my opinion. P

Well actually I had reserved the music with the idea of using it in a kind of vampire the masquerade: bloodlines way. That is a game in which you have to travel through sewers at one time and far of you hear the sound of chinese/japanes singing. Very eerie.