Get Adobe Flash player

Write On

Archive for June, 2013

Dispatch From the Nantucket Film Festival

by Susan Sandler

Writer Susan Sandler will be filing reports from the Nantucket Film Festival, June 26–30. In her first dispatch, Susan talks to Patrick Tobin, this year’s winner of Nantucket’s Showtime Tony Cox Award for Feature Screenplay.

The Nantucket Film Festival is first and foremost a writer’s festival. You understand this immediately when you browse through the festival’s brochure: All the narrative films screened during the four-day festival list the screenwriter first, followed by director, then producer. This is the order of creative importance in the film world on this enchanted island 30 miles off the coast of Cape Cod—writers matter here.

From June 26 to June 30, this culturally rich and artfully-managed festival will support, celebrate and launch the careers of screenwriters and filmmakers. A thrilling new element in this year’s festival, the 18th edition, is the TV Pilot Competition. It adds television writers to the mix of the Festival’s writing talent. With writers occupying the spotlight, it’s clear why WGAE has been a constant sponsor of the Nantucket Film Festival for the last decade.

Along with this year’s screenings of 47 features and 31 shorts, Nantucket will present awards to writers under the banner of Showtime’s Tony Cox Awards (Showtime has been another steadfast supporter of Nantucket). The writing awards for Feature Screenplay, TV Pilot (half-hour and hour) and Short Screenplay are the presentational highlights of the Festival.

Prizes include cash, as well as meaningful professional connections. The winner of the Feature Screenplay Competition receives an all-expenses-paid trip to the festival, as well as a residency at Nantucket’s famed Screenwriter’s Colony, a month-long retreat that offers screenwriters a place to work under the guidance of established film professionals.

patrick-tobinI had a chance to speak with this year’s Showtime Tony Cox Award-winners, and in this first edition of Nantucket Festival coverage, I’ll talk with L.A.-based writer Patrick Tobin, winner of Best Feature Screenplay for his dark and fresh human comedy, CAKE. (The logline: Claire, addicted to pain pills, becomes obsessed with the suicide of an acquaintance and forges an unorthodox relationship with the dead woman’s husband. As her life spirals increasingly out of control, Claire must confront her many demons—which may now include the ghost of the dead woman.)

After USC’s Grad Screenwriting program and an early experience with a first feature, No Easy Way–which he describes as very well-produced but, ultimately, not distributed–Tobin went through a frustrating process of finding his way as a screenwriter. Deciding he needed a fresh experience, he moved to Stockholm, where he lived for 10 years, finding a writing life and success as a writer of short fiction. Now, by mining his own short fiction, he is finding promising sources for screenplays. His winning script for Nantucket’s Tony Cox Screenwriting Award is based on his own short story, “Cake.”

Patrick Tobin: When you’re adapting short stories into film, you find out you’ve got a lot of third act, but not a much first and second act. So I had to add a lot of new material. The screenplay starts out with the pain support group, and you meet Claire—she’s divorced, and she becomes obsessed with the woman in her support group who killed herself. Claire tracks down the husband of the suicide and pretends that she grew up in his house. He figures out that she’s lying, but they begin a very odd relationship–not sexual or romantic. They are two lost souls linked together and, ultimately, she has to confront her demons.

Susan Sandler: Claire is such a deliciously outrageous character. Is there someone you’d like to see bite into the role?

PT: I’ve literally thought of every actress who was in the forefront. Viola Davis was an early Claire; Vera Farmiga would be a dream; and Winona Ryder would be really interesting, a more fragile Claire. It’s a fun game.

SS: Do you have any interest in directing?

PT: I do, but I’m aware of the challenge a writer faces, especially without a feature film behind me.

SS: How did you get to Nantucket Film Festival’s competition?

PT: I started entering CAKE in writing competitions about a year and a half ago, and I didn’t have much success. I would rewrite it and give it to a friend, and have them take a look at it. When I gave an early draft of CAKE to one of my best friends, she said that Claire was unlikeable. I think I was so tapped into her rage and that was all that came out. So I went back to work and I’ve been slowly adjusting it.

SS: It’s interesting how audiences have less tolerance for unlikeable female characters. It really pisses me off…. Think about great male characters—complex and thoroughly unlikeable characters like Jake LaMotta – he’s indelible. There is not a likeable guy at the heart of that story, but we’re held, we’re fascinated.

PT: That pisses me off too! It’s true. It’s like the minute the female lead is not “The Mommy” or “The Nice Girlfriend,” people get uncomfortable. But what’s interesting about CAKE, is that there are almost no men. Except for the husband of the woman who kills herself, it’s almost the inverse of the Hollywood movie where you have one or two small roles for women.

SS: So, back to Nantucket—

PT: As I made those adjustments draft-by-draft, I started becoming a finalist in a few contests, and then I read a blog posting about the best screenplay competitions in the country and saw Nantucket at the top and researched it. Obviously, Nantucket Film Festival’s screenwriting competition is hot because of how generous they are, offering the month at the Screenwriter’s Colony, so I thought I’d give it a shot.

SS: NFF also has a really cool history of projects taking off– Debra Granik’s Down to the Bone; Sophie Barthes’ Cold Souls, Jenny Deller’s Future Weather all went from winning Nantucket’s screenplay competition into production.

PT: Yes, exactly!

SS: What will you be bringing to work on for your month at the Nantucket Screenwriter’s Colony?

PT: I’ll be adapting another one of my short stories.

SS: Ever been to Nantucket before?

PT: Never. I’m really excited! And the festival film lineup looks great. I’ve had a hard time picking which films I want to go to—I want to see every one of them! And this year’s honoree, David O.Russell, is one of my fave writer-directors. He’s genius. I’m anxious to hear him speak.

SS: Enormous congratulations to you, Patrick! I can’t wait to read CAKE as a screenplay.

Links to explore:

www.nantucketfilmfestival.org/screenwriting/competitions
www.screenwriterscolony.org
www.patricktobin.net

Photo by Joseph Mueller.

WGAE Discounts for The Black List

BlackListLogo

WGAE members will be able to add their script titles, loglines, tags and representative information, as well as be able to monitor their work’s ratings and user traffic, free of charge. Additionally, all scripts uploaded to the BL website by WGAE members for the next 30 days will be hosted free-of-charge for one month. After that, script-hosting will be charged with the 20% discount that WGAE members are entitled to receive.

Click here to visit The Black List!

Exile in Goyville, Part VI

by Bob Schneider

I had been excited to see it. What, I wondered, could have been better than watching a war movie in which the hero had, in real life, been awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for offing beaucoup Nazis? Once it had worked its way down the exhibition chain from Broadway to back in the world, I tore ass down to Delancey Street, where I caught it (in the kids section—vo den?), with a couple of my frummie friends.

I left the Loews bitterly disappointed. It should have been a really good movie, but it wasn’t. In fact, it sucked. In order to understand why, I compared it to a pair of war movies that had stuck with me, the aforementioned Attack and The Steel Helmet. Intrigued by their names, posters and stills on the Deuce, I had watched them on my DuMont. Both were in B&W, which meant they had lost nothing in the translation to my tiny tube other than image quality and the splendor of size, neither of which were, at the time, as important as the simple act of watching them.

Both movies were gritty, dark, death-filled; their heroes hard-boiled and battle hardened, informed by the wisdom of war, animated by a passion to see the men they led survive combat hell.

Attack’s pre-credit sequence, punctuated by a helmet rolling downhill to a dead stop by a lone flower, sets up the conflict—a war within the war—between the insanely intense Palance and his craven sluck C.O., Captain Cooney, whom he holds responsible for the deaths of an entire squad, slaughtered in a futile attempt to take out a Nazi pillbox. It ends with Palance dead on the floor of a rubble strewn basement—he had crawled out from under the treads of a Kraut tank, crawled across the floor toward a .45 the tittering Cooney kept kicking just beyond his reach, died before he could grease his douchenozzle commander.

SteelHelmetThe Steel Helmet ends in smoke and death in a Buddhist temple. Most of the squad that has set up an artillery observation post within is dead, killed during a North Korean assault. While Sgt. Zack lies in a semiconscious state of shellshock, the other three survivors—a black medic, an Asian sergeant (Tanaka) nicknamed “Buddha Head” and a bald, squeaky, ofay radio operator—lean against a pillar. Smoking seems almost too taxing; they’re famished as well as spent. When Buddha Head finally speaks, he sets the agenda: First we’ll eat, then we’ll bury them (this in a movie where the hero has threatened a mortally wounded enemy with the blissfully loopy line, If you die, I’ll kill you).

A patrol comes upon the temple and coaxes the survivors outside. They stand before the temple’s shoji screen doors, each face frozen with the same thousand-yard stare—a group portrait of undiagnosed PTSD.

The patrol leader, knowing something had happened there, not knowing what it was, has a Mr. Jones moment; he asks . . . What kind of an outfit is this?
But for this cat, curiosity is no fatal flaw. He drops the questions and orders the survivors to fall in. When they finally stagger off, Zack is self-possessed enough to limp over and exchange his eponymous, bullet-perforated steel helmet for the pristine one that sits atop the C.O.’s grave marker—an M1, bayonet fixed, staked in the ground.

Attack and The Steel Helmet were movies absent sun or sentiment, the very opposite of To Hell and Back, which was shot in Technicolor, shown in Cinemascope and amounted to nothing more than a lame exercise in the hagiography of heroism. Bookended by soldiers marching in formation on a parade ground, the movie is a

series of blackout scenes, a rudderless repetition of battle, bivouac, battle, bivouac, battle, R & R, turtle-ing its way to a climactic action sequence—Murphy, the baby-faced Ares, singlehandedly beats back an armored counterattack: First he calls in an artillery strike to take out the Panzers, then he hops on top of a burning Hellcat Tank and uses the mounted Browning 50-mm machine gun to mow down every Nazi in sight. In the final scene, a continuation of the first, the soldiers come to parade rest as Murphy’s medals are enumerated, culminating in his receiving the Medal of Honor. Tired and listless, the movie doesn’t end so much as it simply stops.

attack

Attack was a black hat/white hat cautionary tale with the moral simplicity of a Snidely Whiplash/Dudley Do-Right I’ll save you, Nell encounter. In The Steel Helmet, Zack and the others at the temple ruin look like they just lurched off the set of I Walked With A Zombie. Both movies left me unsettled, frightened, left me with the feeling that there are no winners in war, just some guys kinda breathing. The only feeling To Hell and Back left me with was that I had just wasted my time, a rare response to my escapist indulgences. If an overbearing teacher had forced me to explain why I felt the way I did, and if I was scared less by him than by the movies, I probably would have said, with great conviction, Because I said so.

◄►

Day to day, week to week, you never knew what might show up on the Deuce—black hat/white hat shoot-em-ups, Axis-and-Allies blow-em-ups, Martin and Lewis triple features, furrin’ films, weepies, noirs, nudies, monster movies, or horror flicks; Freaks might even make one of its intermittent appearances on B-movie Boulevard.

The same was true of movies on the tube. Getting the Guide, bee-lining to, fine-tooth-combing through the movie listings, was always an exciting proposition because you never knew what much-sought-after cine-treasure might pop up on The Early Show or Million Dollar Movie. If a must-see appeared, you had to jump—if you mañana’d it, you might discover Tomorrow is Too Late, or Tomorrow is Forever, or Tomorrow Never Comes or, worst of all, that Tomorrow You’re Gone. In this fashion, I slowly, surely collected what to my mind amounted to a full set of movies.

To my primitive, auto-didactic way of thinking, this collection represented knowledge and understanding; they were the basic building blocks of an aesthetic as well as a weltanschauung; they were, in other words, reels of projected truth out of which I parsed a way of seeing, as well as a way of seeing the world.

© 2013 Bob Schneider

Call for Applications: The Berlin Prize 2014–2015

The Berlin Prize
Call for Applications 2014-2015

The American Academy in Berlin invites applications for its residential fellowships for 2014-2015, as well as early applications for the academic years 2015-2016 and 2016-2017. The deadline is Monday, September 2, 2013 (12 pm EST or 6 pm CET). Applications may be submitted online or mailed to the Berlin office.

The Academy welcomes applications from emerging and established scholars and from writers and professionals who wish to engage in independent study in Berlin. Approximately 26 Berlin Prizes are conferred annually. Past recipients have included historians, economists, poets and novelists, journalists, legal scholars, anthropologists, musicologists, and public policy experts, among others. The Academy does not award fellowships in the natural sciences.

Fellowships are typically awarded for an academic semester or, on occasion, for an entire academic year. Bosch Fellowships in Public Policy may be awarded for shorter stays of six to eight weeks. Fellowship benefits include round-trip airfare, partial board, a $5,000 monthly stipend, and accommodations at the Academy’s lakeside Hans Arnhold Center in the Berlin-Wannsee district.

Fellowships are restricted to individuals based permanently in the United States. US citizenship is not required; American expatriates are not eligible. Candidates in academic disciplines must have completed a PhD at the time of application. Applicants working in most other fields – such as journalism, filmmaking, law, or public policy – must have equivalent professional degrees. Writers should have published at least one book at the time of application. The Academy gives priority to a proposal’s scholarly merit rather than any specific relevance to Germany.

Please note that the next application period for the Inga Maren Otto Berlin Prize in Music Composition will be in 2014. The Guna S. Mundheim Fellowship in the Visual Arts is an invitation-only competition.

Following a peer-reviewed process, an independent Selection Committee reviews finalist applications. The 2014-2015 Berlin Prizes will be announced in spring semester 2014.

For further information and to apply online, please see http://www.americanacademy.de/home/fellows/applications or contact:

The American Academy in Berlin
Attn: Fellows Selection
Am Sandwerder 17-19
14109 Berlin, Germany

Telephone +49-30-804-83-0
Fax +49-30-804-83-111
cs@americanacademy.de 

Wendi Niad, Founder of Niad Management

by Justin Samuels

Wendi Niad is the founder of Niad Management. Niad Management counts among its clients actors, screenwriters and novelists. Ms. Niad also teaches a course on screenwriters at UCLA.

Justin Samuels: How did you first become a manager?
Wendi Niad: With the help and support of a lot of people! I just did not like who I had become as an agent. There was much more of a maternal, nurturing side to me that I knew would be better put to use and better served and appreciated as a manager. So in 1997, I jumped ship and never looked back.

JS: Did you start out representing actors first, or writers?
WN: Writers and directors.

JS: How should an actor go about getting a manager? What exactly do you do for actors?
WN: Network! That is so key! I couldn’t tell you what, exactly, I do for actors, because each one requires different things at different times. I do whatever needs to be done to get the job done to get them to the next level within the parameters of the law.

JS: What are some ways for screenwriters to break into the industry?
WN: Don’t be afraid to have your work read! The more people who read you and talk about you, the more well-known you will become. People become too paranoid about “stealing” material. The key is really networking and having people like your work. If people like your work, they will talk about you and recommend you.

JS: How do you find your writers? Do they query you, do you approach people who have made names for themselves or are they referred to you?
WN: Anywhere and everywhere. Yes, they query, but I rarely ask for a script unless the query really piques my interest. I just read A LOT!!!

JS: What sorts of scripts do you look for?
WN: Quality. Page-turning quality.

JS: For screenwriters, do you just find work for them in film, or do you find other kinds of work for them like television, animation and video games?
WN: Anywhere you can get it… and always in conjunction with an agent.

JS: How should someone interested in being a writer learn how to write?
WN: Learning the technicalities of writing is the easiest part. There are books galore on that subject. Having the talent for the dialogue and story-flow is where the practice and talent show through, and that takes work and practice, practice, practice… and there is no other way to do that than to write, write, and then write some more!

JS: Can you name some of the projects your clients have recently completed, either as actors, screenwriters or novelists?

WN: I sold Ender’s Game, coming out in November. Haley Ramm is currently starring in Disconnect with Jason Bateman and will be seen on ABC Family in a show called Chasing Life in January. Writer/Director Jennifer McGowan begins shooting her feature film Kelly & Cal at the end of this month with Juliette Lewis, and we are out to the male leads now. Writer/Producer/Director Lee Zlotoff’s franchise MacGyver is at New Line in Pre production as a feature film.

JS: Networking is extremely important to screenwriters. For those just starting out, what are some good ways to network?

WN: Always get out! Go out, be amongst fellow writers, assistants at agencies, assistants at production companies, Facebook friends, social networking–but don’t stay in the house. Actually get out and socialize. Get to know people. The more people you know in this town, the better your chances are. It’s a numbers game as well as your talent.

JS: Do you have pay attention to things like film festivals, screenwriting contests and screenwriting labs? You mentioned it being important to sort of build up a writer’s name.

WN: Yes. If it’s a well-known, good-quality contest, then go for it.

JS: Does having a name or success in other medium, such as being an author, online web series creator, playwright or blogger, give one a boost in one’s screenwriting efforts?

WN: It helps in that it shows that you are prolific, but if you want to make it in a certain area, then [it’s] best to stick to that area.

 

 

 

Exile in Goyville, Part V

by Bob Schneider

The Pharaoh, warned by his astrologers that the liberator of the Jews had been born, ordered all newborn, penis-bearing Hebrews to be thrown into the Nile and drowned. To save him, Mo’s mom Jochebed placed him in an ark of reeds and sent him floating down the river. His wails caught the attention of Bithiah, the royal daughter, who was baby-crazy but lacked the means of production—she was either a leper or barren; it’s not clear which. Either way, she looked on the baby in the bulrushes as a gift from the gods, took him home, raised him as her own.

In the Midrash, it is told that when Moses was three and sitting on (grandpa)

Pharaoh’s lap, he grabbed the crown from off the king’s head; the potentate of the pyramids ignored the calls of his sycophants and soothsayers to off Kid Yid and instead ordered a trial by fire. A diamond and a hot coal were placed before the child. If he picked the diamond, he was toast; if he picked the coal, all would be forgiven. Just as Moish was about to pick up the shiny bauble, the angel Gabriel intervened. He guided the hand to the hot coal, and in so doing, saved Moses’ bacon.

kierkegaardLike Moses, we start making our choices young and we never stop making them. It is this ability to make critical decisions that positions opposable-thumbers at the top of the hominid heap. Whether they are rational, instinctual or providential, the choices we make are determinative; they define us and in turn define the world. Soren Kierkegaard, who had broadened the discourse of despair for young, alienated nihilists back in the mondo-mad day with titles like Fear and Trembling and The Sickness Unto Death (both had been available in a single paperback—part of the Metaphysical Mischugass series of Ace Doubles), laid it down this way: Subjectivity is Truth.

Truth is idiosyncratic and is sometimes projected at twenty-four frames per second. It is up to us as critical thinking homo saps to determine which ones offer the satisfying emotional truths that derive from the Fuller-Godard film formulary.

It was my experience living on Mongo that shaped my choices.

◄►

 When we are little tykes and tykettes we take our choices for granted, or, perhaps more accurately, we are unconscious of the act of choosing and simply see the world as a series of discrete a priori truths: It was, for example, intuitively obvious to this cub reporter that there was no comparison between a glorious Knickerbocker Milky Bite—raspberry gel enrobed in luscious milk chocolate—and a joyless Joyva Jell Ring; it was equally obvious that an otherworldly full-sour from Hollander’s had way more umami than its more pedestrian counterpart from Guss’. I held these truths to be self-evident, and if you didn’t agree with me you were a retard.

There comes a time when you become aware that within any manifest string of things—baseball players, peers, war movies—you are making judgments, creating hierarchies, deeming some within any given group really good and others really shit: The french fries from this place are crisper and creamier than the ones from the place over there; the lemon ices from the basement bakery have a lemony-er flavor than the ices from the Italian bakery next door. It is as natural and involuntary as breathing.

Even though you might be lacking the sophisticated critical vocabulary to defend your choices with anything more than because I said so, once you become conscious of this critical knack you never go back—from that moment you’re hooked. My addiction to judgmental aesthetics began the day I contemplated To Hell and Back for the first time.

© 2013 Bob Schneider

Catie Lazarus, Creator of “Employee of the Month” and Student of Oppression

by Justin Samuels

Catie Lazarus is a writer/performer. ECNY awarded her “Best Comedy Writer” and Lewis Black called her “More Brilliant Than She’ll Ever Know.” She does voice overs and hosts the podcast EMPLOYEE OF THE MONTH, which is taped live the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater (UCB). Lazarus is a member of the WGA, Women in Children’s Media, ASIFA, The Moth, and UCB.

Justin Samuels: What did you study at Wesleyan?

Catie Lazarus: Oppression. My undergrad major was a joint degree in psychology-sociology. My master’s was in psychology. Whatever you major in at Wesleyan, you’re studying social stratification. So even if you’re a math major, you’ll learn how the number eight oppresses the number seven.

 

JS: You’re a WGA writer. What’s your main WGA type of writing, film, TV, new media, or news?

CL: Yes. I became a WGA member working on MYC! (http://www.funnyordie.com/videos/5caa1368d0/m-y-c-mice-york-city

 

JS: What sorts of things do you typically cover in your articles?

CL: Well, I tend to write about work, comedy and whatever falls, for lack of a better term, within the cultural zeitgeist. I love interviewing people, be it for an article or my podcast Employee of the Month. I also enjoy writing a monthly column for TheBillfold.com.

 

JS: Were you always a funny person?  How did you develop yourself as a comedian?

CL: I was a tortoise, but underwent a species op. Despite the scars from surgery and obvious flack from fellow tortoises, I feel more comfortable in my own skin. I am much happier now. (I am not really sure how to answer your question. But between you and me, I am still developing and sporting a training bra.)

 

JS: How has joining the WGA helped you develop as a writer?

CL: The WGA provides valuable legal resources. Plus, meeting fellow members enables me to delude myself that I might one day make it.

 

JS: How has participation in other organizations helped your career?

CL: I’ve never gotten a job as a direct result of paying membership dues. I’ve learned a great deal about the craft(s) and met incredible folks through the UCB, WGA, The Li.st (http://theli.st) and Children’s Media Association. http://www.cmanyc.org.

 

JS: What advice would you give people wishing to launch a career as a writer?

CL: Take your work seriously and, if possible, get in good with the Hewlett-Packard family because printer cartridges are expensive.

 

JS: Are there any new projects from you that we should be on the lookout for?

CL: YES! Employee of the Month Show will be live at The Bell House in Brooklyn this September and, I hope, more episodes of MYC. http://www.funnyordie.com/videos/5caa1368d0/m-y-c-mice-york-city

Exile in Goyville, Part IV

by Bob Schneider

During the following years, on most Saturdays, post morning prayer, once freed from the shackles of an itchy, off-the-rack Robert Hall suit (where the value goes up, up, up, and the prices go down, down, down), stuffed on a lunch of chopped liver, double-boilered pot roast, and canned Spanish rice, after the Mr. Moto or Charlie Chan feature had played itself out and there would be nothing more on the tube (except for the endless repeats of Million Dollar Movie) until Saturday Night at the Movies, I would jaunty jolly to the Deuce and study the titles that were verboten. Allusive and poetic, they promised me worlds of wonder: Who was The Thing from Another World? What happened on The Day the Earth Stood Still? Would a Steel Helmet keep me safe on the road To Hell and Back? And would Fixed Bayonets be the only way to stay safe on the Sands of Iwo Jima? Would we be able to repel the Invasion of the Body Snatchers or survive an Attack of the Crab Monsters? In The Naked City could Gun Crazy * Killers from Space make their Pickup on South Street? Why could Abbott and Costello Go to Mars but I couldn’t? And was the sphere they landed on The Angry Red Planet or simply Red Planet Mars? When was Bedtime for Bonzo? Was it later than mine? How would I ever be able to identify Invaders from Mars if I couldn’t see them in 3-D?

killers-from-spaceThis was the nature of my thirst for knowledge, and I had to figure out a way to slake it. As usual, the answer came in an unexpected way. One afternoon as I waited for Lenny the Barber to cut my hair, I grabbed an outdated issue of TV Guide from among the periodicals littering the store. When I opened it, I saw that it had a section detailing the movies playing on TV at all times and on all channels. As I studied it, I realized to my amazement that had I possessed this mag at its most relevant point in the space-time continuum, I might have been able to watch both The Day the Earth Stood Still and Sands of Iwo Jima not only in the same week but on the same day!

Eureka!!

At dinner that night, after numerous reminders that children were starving in Europe and that I was too smart for my own good, I told the nukes that my continued obeyance of their (oppressive, fahrcocktah, provincial, arbitrary, hypocritical, inhibitive) codes of behavior and study was contingent on the purchase of a subscription to TV Guide. To my surprise, they agreed.

From then on, I was in the business of watching movies: I got the titles from the Deuce and the time and place from the Guide; I had motive, and the DuMont gave me opportunity.

◄►

During the party sequence at the beginning of Pierrot Le Fou, Godard places Jean Paul Belmondo, Gauloise in one hand, champagne glass in the other, next to Sam Fuller, who wears shades and nurses a stogie.

JPB leans over to Sam: I’ve always wanted to know exactly what cinema is.

Fuller explains: A film is like a battleground . . . love, hate, action, violence, death, in one word—emotions.

Well played, Monsieur Godard, well played, particularly from the auteur who had offered his own, Bartlett’s-level epigrammatic definition of film: Cinema is truth at twenty-four frames a second.

And they were both right—once movies began to unspool before me on my tiny home screen, I was hooked, jonesing for hits of emotion and truth.

◄►

When I found out that The Thing From Another World was an intellectual carrot, it boggled my mind just as it did Scotty the Newsman’s.

I blissfully soared on the winds of absurdity when, in Attack of the Crab Monsters, the babe Ichthyologist’s beau cited Darwin to explain why the disappeared had been incorporated into the collective crab consciousness: . . . preservation of the species—once they were men, now they are land crabs. I felt the same bliss of meaninglessness as John Agar swung deliriously between protag and possessed in The Brain from Planet Arous.

I was moved to tears when Mr. Rodan chose death with the missus rather than life alone, just as I became similarly weepy when Dr. Serizawa nobly sacrificed himself at the end of Godzilla, King of Monsters, so that his oxygen destroyer would never fall into the wrong hands once it had successfully dispatched der König der Monster.

My idea of a hero was personified by Ralph Meeker in Kiss Me Deadly. He was a one-man gang of hard-boiled destruction as he swept through Los Angeles in his covetous pursuit of the great whatsit. I identified (perhaps too much) with Jack Palance in Attack. Once his arm had been ground into hamburger by the treads of the Nazi tank he had bazooka’d out of commission, the only thing that kept him alive long enough to (almost) realize his quest for vengeance was his adrenaline-fueled rage.

Yet I never made the connection between either hero’s lower-chakra energy and Forbidden Planet’s monsters from the id. Had I been more perspicacious, I would have noted that my introduction to Freud’s self-centered Trinity also served as the (SFX) objective correlative for the source of both my heroes’ animus.

© 2013 Bob Schneider