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FW: CS Daily - Tuesday, March 16, 2004

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  • Liz Milner
    Dear Mythopoeic Society, Liz Milner has forwarded this email to you with the following message: Ananysis of ROTK by script writing guru Linda Seger. Subscribe
    Message 1 of 3 , Mar 18, 2004
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      Dear Mythopoeic Society,

      Liz Milner has forwarded this email to you with the following message:
      Ananysis of ROTK by script writing guru Linda
      Seger.

      Subscribe to CS Daily
      http://ccprod.roving.com/roving/d.jsp?p=oo&m=1011176577095&ea=mythsoc@yahoogroups.com

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      please contact lizmilner@....
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      CS Publications, Inc. Newsletter
      (Tuesday, March 16, 2004)
      ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~



      "When anybody asks me what I do, I always say that
      I'm a writer. I think of myself as a writer. Because if
      tomorrow you said I have to give everything up except
      one thing, I would have to keep writing. Filmmaking is a
      luxury and a privilege, and writing is a necessity." <br>
      – Anthony Minghella


      ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
      In Today's Issue
      ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

      * Today's Headlines
      * The Art of Craft:<br>Linda Seger on<br><I>The Return of the King</I>
      * DVD of the Day:<br><I>Veronica Guerin</I>
      * DVD of the Day:<br>The Writer's Life:<br> <I>The Player</I>


      * http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/B0000SX2U2/qid=1078783436//ref=pd_ka_1/102-8088072-5303346?v=glance&swireless&n=507846?tag=creativescree-20
      * http://rcm-images.amazon.com/images/G/01/rcm/468x60.gif






      Today's Headlines
      ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
      <img src="http://tinyurl.com/3g5wz">
      <p>
      <p>
      <div style="font-family: arial; font-size:20; font-
      weight: normal; margin-bottom: 10px; margin-
      top: 10px;text-align: center;">Koepp, Spielberg, Cruise
      Wage <I>War</I></div>

      <IMG SRC="http://tinyurl.com/24yhz"><br>

      <div style="font-family: arial; font-size: 12px; font-
      weight: normal; color: #000000;
      margin-bottom: 10px; margin-top: 10px;"><span
      style="font-family: arial; font-size:
      12px; font-weight: normal;">

      <a href="http://tinyurl.com/yvhzn">Koepp takes
      Spielberg and Cruise on a mission from Mars</a>
      (Variety) <br>
      We take a few of their rocks, and now it's a <I>War of
      the Worlds</I>.
      <p>
      <p>
      <a href="http://tinyurl.com/22h6v">Sam Harper's triple
      play</a> (Variety)<br>
      A sequel, a pitch and a rewrite -- inspiration for us all.
      <p>
      <p>
      <a href="http://tinyurl.com/2jcst">Anthony Zuiker goes
      to New York</a> (Variety)<br>
      As does <I>C.S.I.</I>. Let's hope for a crossover with
      <I>Law and Order</I>. And yes, I know they're on
      different networks.
      <p>
      <p>
      <a href="http://tinyurl.com/3appr">Which writer gets
      punished in the latest WGA arbitrations?</a><br>
      One <I>Punisher</I> gets whacked.
      <p>
      <p>
      <a href="http://tinyurl.com/2ny7p">Our almost-
      president's kid sells her book's film rights</a> (Variety)
      <br>
      Well, at least somebody in that family is gainfully
      employed.
      <p>
      <p>
      <a href="http://tinyurl.com/2ayev">Humanoids sets up
      two comic properties</a> (Variety)<br>
      Brown & Alexander making <I>Metal,</I> Gilvary finds
      <I>Sanctum</I>.
      </div>

      <IMG SRC="http://tinyurl.com/37h4b"><br>

      <div style="font-family: arial; font-size: 12px; font-
      weight: normal; color: #000000;
      margin-bottom: 10px; margin-top: 10px;"><span
      style="font-family: arial; font-size:
      12px; font-weight: normal;">

      <a href="http://tinyurl.com/2fwy8">Kate Winslet
      compares Charlie Kaufman to Shakespeare</a><br>
      "When you're sent a Charlie Kaufman script, the first
      thing you want to do is put it in a frame." As expected,
      the writer himself demurs.
      <p>
      <p>
      <a href="http://tinyurl.com/3agch">Roland Emmerich,
      eco-terrorist?</a><br>
      Some think <I>The Day After Tomorrow</I> will spark
      eco awareness in upcoming election.
      </div>

      <IMG SRC="http://tinyurl.com/2zkw2"><br>


      <div style="font-family: arial; font-size: 12px; font-
      weight: normal; color: #000000;
      margin-bottom: 10px; margin-top: 10px;"><span
      style="font-family: arial; font-size:
      12px; font-weight: normal;">

      <a href="http://tinyurl.com/3d7le"><I>Stateside</I>
      ain't on the page</a><br>
      FilmJerk isn't buying Reverge Anselmo's tale of love in
      the time of madness.

      </div>



      The Art of Craft:<br>Linda Seger on<br><I>The Return of the King</I>
      ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
      <IMG SRC="http://tinyurl.com/29h2c">
      <p>
      <p>
      <div align=center><b><I>The Return of the
      King</I>:<br>
      How Story and Structure Won 11 Oscars</b></div>
      <p>
      <p>
      <div align=center>by <a
      href="mailto:lsseger@...">Dr. Linda
      Seger</a></div>
      <p>
      <p>

      <IMG SRC="http://tinyurl.com/yvzwo"><br>
      Linda Seger analyzes the structure of the final film in
      the <I>The Lord of the Rings</I> trilogy to illuminate
      how the writers used varying action and parallel
      journeys to keep the characters moving forward, and
      why the story ended before the film did.
      <p>
      <p>
      It is not surprising that <I>The Lord Of The Rings: The
      Return Of The King</I> swept the Academy Awards.
      The achievement of the three <I>Rings</I> films is
      unique in the history of film. Although <I>The
      Godfather</I> also was nominated for all films in the
      trilogy (with two winning for Best Picture over a period
      of eighteen years), <I>Lord Of The Rings</I> was
      nominated three years in a row, winning every category
      in which it was nominated and tying with <I>Ben-
      Hur</I> and <I>Titanic</I> for the most Oscars.
      [Ed. note: According to Damien Bona, author of <A
      HREF="http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0345
      400534/creativescree-20"> <I>Inside Oscar</I></a>
      and <A
      HREF="http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0345
      449703/creativescree-20"> <I>Inside Oscar 2</I></a>,
      the only other films to sweep all their nominations were
      <I>Gigi</I> and <I>The Last Emperor</I>, both of
      which went nine for nine. Interestingly, neither film
      received any acting nominations.]
      <p>
      <p>
      Perhaps what is most amazing about this win is the
      history of New Zealand filmmaker Peter Jackson and his
      co-writers, Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens. In the late
      1980s, the New Zealand Film Commission instituted
      training programs to move their directors, writers, and
      producers into the international market. They began by
      bringing in screenwriting teachers to give seminars. I
      was one of the first, teaching for the film commission in
      1989, 1990 and 1995, and training script consultants in
      1989 and 1990. Peter and Fran were in my seminar, and
      then hired me to work on their film <I>Braindead</I>
      (a.k.a. <I>Dead Alive</I>), which catapulted them into
      the international market in 1992. Two years later, their
      film <I>Heavenly Creatures</I> was nominated for both
      an Academy Award and a Writers Guild of America
      award for Best Original Screenplay. Within about ten
      years, Peter Jackson and his co-writers moved from
      small, unknown New Zealand filmmakers to
      internationally-known, critically-acclaimed filmmakers
      who have done what seemed to be impossible with
      their spectacular epic trilogy.
      <p>
      <p>
      So what can we learn from <I>The Lord Of The
      Rings</I> which can be applied to the scripts which
      you may be writing?
      <p>
      <p>
      Virtually every script has intrinsic problems that must
      be solved to make it work. The writer is a creative
      problem solver who has to find a way around these
      issues. In the case of the <I>Rings</I> trilogy, the
      story itself is somewhat linear. There are battle scenes.
      And more battle scenes. And more battle scenes. The
      writers had to find variety within the sheer number of
      onslaughts of orcs and ring wraiths and goblins and
      strange
      monsters. The onslaught was steady and continuous
      for much of act two and at least part of act three.
      How did they make it interesting?
      <p>
      <p>
      Some of the variety came from the diversity within the
      types of battle. The battle with a frontal attack to the
      city of Minas Tirith and a series of rear attacks by
      other armies, as well as the Dead Men of Dunharrow.
      There
      was variety within the army itself and the methods
      they used, ranging from the catapults to the
      elephantine Oliphaunts and the flying ring wraiths (first
      seen
      from horseback in <I>Fellowship of the Ring</I>) to the
      horses overrunning the army and the hand-to-hand
      combat. Constant variety kept it interesting.<br>

      The variety also came from creating Parallel Plotlines,
      which I call the Parallel Journey of various characters.
      While the city is withstanding the attack:
      <p>
      - Meanwhile, back in the mountain pass, Aragorn,
      Legolas, and Gimli are venturing into the Paths of the
      Dead to gain allegiance from the dead kings.
      <p>
      - Meanwhile, in Rivendell, Arwen has decided not to
      leave but to return to her land.
      <p>
      - Meanwhile, in Rohan, Merry has joined Eowyn in
      battle.
      <p>
      - Meanwhile, in Mordor, Frodo, Sam, and Gollum are
      venturing up a cliff.
      <p>
      - Meanwhile, in the city of Minas Tirith, Pippin is
      climbing a steep precipice to light the beacon which will
      signal the others.
      <p>
      - Meanwhile, in another part of Minas Tirith, King
      Denethor is sending Faramir, his only remaining son, into
      a battle
      that can't be won.
      <p>
      <p>
      These parallel journeys break up the linear style of the
      film, and also vary the pace. Fast-paced battles are
      interrupted by the slower scenes -- the hunger and
      exhaustion of Sam's and Frodo's journeys, the waiting
      Arwen -- as well as the stand-off between Aragorn and
      the dead kings. This constant change of pace is like a
      symphony with many different movements, as well as
      the change of melody within each movement.
      <p>
      <p>
      The emotional content of each storyline also provides
      variety. Sam's ambivalence toward Gollum provides
      psychological depth. For me, these were some of the
      richest scenes and characterizations: Frodo's
      increasing suspicions as he was poisoned by Gollum's
      mock innocence and insinuations, and Sam's deep love
      and caring for his friend, as well as his deep hurt over
      his friend's rejection.
      <p>
      <p>
      The strength of the film also comes from its use of
      Scene Sequences. When building a storyline, one
      doesn't just look at the scenes in themselves, but as
      part of larger scene sequences. In <I>The
      Return Of The King</I>, there are many scene
      sequences, with strong beginnings, middles, and ends,
      which keep the story moving forward: the spider
      Shelob's entrapment of Frodo; the various battle
      scenes; Aragorn, Gimli, and Legolas going into the
      Paths of the Dead to convince the dead kings; and
      Frodo (with a little help from Gollum) dropping the One
      Ring into the fiery Crack of Doom.
      <p>
      <p>
      While the ultimate goal was to destroy the ring, <I>The
      Return of the King</I> also provided additional goals for
      each
      storyline. The need for Aragorn to convince the dead
      kings. The need for Pippin to save Faramir. The need
      for Merry
      to become a hero and not be shunted aside from
      battle. The need for Gandalf to rally the troops and
      keep them fighting in order to save the city and the
      kingdom.<br>

      <img src="http://tinyurl.com/2hn88" align="left">
      Each of these goals had high stakes. Many of the goals
      had survival stakes. Not just personal survival, but the
      survival of Middle-earth, the
      saving of the Free Peoples, the defeat of evil. And
      there were more personal, emotional stakes. The vision
      of the child that Arwen might never have if she didn't
      risk her life by going back to her kingdom. The stakes
      of friendship between Sam and Frodo. The stakes of
      the One Ring's temptation for
      Frodo, Sam, and Gollum. The stakes for Eowyn to be
      able to go to battle. Without her, the Witchking could
      never have been defeated, since no man could kill him.
      <p>
      <p>
      None of these would have worked without a solid
      structure to the story. The structure was clear, with
      the exception of the multiple endings in the resolution.
      The film was Set-Up by showing how the One
      Ring came to be in the hands of Gollum and
      demonstrating the ring's temptations and its dangers.
      It's clearly set up that Frodo must bring the ring to the
      Crack of Doom. And, at eight minutes into the film,
      Pippin peers into the Palantir and sees the future and
      the
      plan to strike the city. During act one development,
      forces are gathered, Gandalf gallops to Minas Tirith,
      and it's clear that a war is coming. At the first turning
      point, at thirty-six minutes into the film, the enemy
      prepares.
      At the Midpoint, approximately 95 minutes into the
      three-hour-plus film, the battle begins and continues to
      build throughout the second half of act two. The
      second turning point raises the stakes when it looks as
      if Frodo has lost the ring -- but Sam has it and, with
      some hesitancy, gives it back. Now, in act three,
      Frodo must destroythe ring. The third act is a tightly-
      structured, lasting twenty-five minutes from the time
      Sam
      returns the ring until Frodo throws it into the Crack of
      Doom, and then another three minutes before we know
      our heroes have escaped.
      <p>
      <p>
      Here is where the structure breaks down. At this point,
      the story has ended. The goal has been achieved. The
      heroes are safe. There is nothing left except to tie up
      loose ends. But there is another twenty minutes of
      resolution, adding several endings. The first ending tells
      us that all are safe. Frodo, Sam, Merry, Pippin, as well
      as the various other heroes are reunited. This
      was, of course, essential. The only other essential part
      of the resolution was to crown the new King, which is
      the next scene, ending with everyone bowing to the
      hobbits. If <I>The Return Of The King</I> had
      concluded here, the resolution would have been five
      minutes long, and would have told us everything we
      needed to know.
      <p>
      <p>
      But the resolution continued. Now there's a time
      change to thirteen months later. There's Sam's wedding
      to
      Rosie. Scenes of Frodo writing his book. And then
      Frodo leaves at Gray Havens with a long, long farewell.
      And finally, Sam is back at the Shire with the wife and
      kids. All these last scenes were not necessary; now
      the movie ends not on our protagonist, Frodo, but on a
      supporting character. Unfortunately, the multitude of
      endings makes the film drift away, instead of
      concluding on a powerful moment.
      <p>
      <p>
      From its well-constructed script to its spectacular
      special effects to its brilliant directing, the <I>Lord Of
      The Rings</I> trilogy has achieved what no film has --
      three films in a sequel -- consistently successful,
      consistently compelling.
      <p>
      <p>
      <I>Since Dr. Linda Seger created and defined the job
      of script consultant in 1981, she has consulted on over
      2,000 scripts, with clients ranging from Peter Jackson
      and Fran Walsh to TriStar Pictures to Ray Bradbury.
      Seger is the author of eight books, including
      <A
      HREF="http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1879
      505738/creativescree-20"></I>Advanced
      Screenwriting: Raising Your Script To The Academy
      Award Level<I></a>. More information can be
      found on her web site, <a
      href="http://www.LindaSeger.com">
      LindaSeger.com</a>.</I>
      <p>
      <p>
      <I>Special thanks to Xoanon and <a
      href="http://www.theonering.net/">TheOneRing.net</a
      > for research assistance.</I><br>



      DVD of the Day:<br><I>Veronica Guerin</I>
      ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
      <IMG SRC="http://tinyurl.com/24vkh">
      <p>
      <p>
      <div align=center><b>The Truth Behind <I>Veronica
      Guerin</I> Hurts</b>
      <p>
      <p>
      <p>
      by <a href="mailto:yon_motskin@...">Yon
      Motskin</a>
      </div>

      <div align=left>
      <IMG SRC="http://tinyurl.com/36kyc"><br>
      <div align=left><I>Veronica Guerin</I></div><br>
      <IMG SRC="http://tinyurl.com/234ej"><br>
      Carol Doyle and Mary Agnes Donaghue
      <p>
      <IMG SRC="http://tinyurl.com/2slvo"><br>
      <IMG SRC="http://tinyurl.com/33pbw">
      <IMG SRC="http://tinyurl.com/ypph6"><br>
      <IMG SRC="http://tinyurl.com/39mv9">
      <IMG SRC="http://tinyurl.com/2zayb"><br>
      <p>
      <p>
      <IMG SRC="http://tinyurl.com/yvzwo" style="clear:
      both;"><br>
      The DVD of this flawed, fact-based film -- about Irish
      journalist-cum-national martyr Veronica Guerin --
      inadvertently illuminates the fascinating process of
      what happens when a film's creators are not on the
      same page about its intentions.
      <p>
      <p>
      <IMG SRC="http://tinyurl.com/2j74a"><br>
      Amidst the rampant drug and crime trade that festered
      the slums of Dublin, Ireland in the 1990s, one renegade
      female journalist decided to dig deep and expose what
      no one else had the courage to do. In doing so, and
      despite the desperate pleas of her family and friends,
      Veronica Guerin braved into a dark underworld to
      uncover the truth, which eventually took her own life.
      <p>
      <p>
      No one will argue that Veronica Guerin's story is not
      dramatic, exhilarating or important. The question, which
      is evident soon after the first act in this story, is:
      which genre is best suited to tell her true and tragic
      tale? The film opens with Guerin's murder which, along
      with the real Guerin's highly-publicized case,
      immediately rules out the mystery and thriller genres
      (even though the film is marketed as the latter). Now
      the narrative question is not "What will happen?"
      but "How does it happen?" From Guerin's first foray into
      the junkie shooting galleries to her
      muckraking "doorstepping" technique, the audience
      knows immediately that she's in big trouble and that
      every criminal she associates with cannot be
      trusted.<br>
      </div>

      Because of this foreknowledge, any shred of suspense
      is virtually jettisoned. What we are left with is a biopic,
      a type of film that is usually elliptical and assembled like
      a "This is your life" scrapbook. Successful biopics (such
      as <I>Patton</I> and <I>Ed Wood</I>) tend to rely
      heavily on the dramatic depiction of bold, out-sized
      characters. Guerin is certainly the former, but the film
      is structured as a thriller (and not an effective one at
      that), and it is crippled by a superficial and clich├ęd
      portrayal of its subject's family. The audience can smell
      the obligatory "emotional" scenes a mile away, such as
      when she dances with her husband and son. Like the
      garbage-strewn inner cities Guerin visits, they don't
      smell good.
      <p>
      <p>
      <IMG SRC="http://tinyurl.com/2hnt3"><br>
      - Deleted scene<br>
      - Footage of the real Veronica Guerin<br>
      - "Public Mask, Private Fears" making-of featurette<br>
      - Conversation with producer Jerry Bruckheimer<br>
      - Producer's photo diary<br>
      - Audio commentary with Director Joel Schumacher<br>
      - Audio commentary with writers Carol Doyle and Mary
      Agnes Donaghue
      <p>
      "Based on a true story" is a difficult double-edged
      sword to sharpen, an issue illuminated on the best and
      most interesting extra feature of the DVD (including the
      film itself) -- the writer's audio commentary. On one
      hand, writers Carol Doyle and Mary Agnes Donaghue
      were blessed with mounds of actual events, people,
      and printed information from which they could (and did)
      draw. On the other hand, there is the problem
      of "responsibility": maintaining the integrity of the real
      Veronica Guerin versus creating an interesting and
      dramatic narrative for the audience. <br>

      <IMG SRC="http://tinyurl.com/33q3n" align="left" >

      It is not clear who pushed to make this film in the first
      place -- Doyle was the first writer and mentions she
      heard about it in the news, while producer Jerry
      Bruckheimer says he sent director Joel Schumacher a
      tape of Guerin on <I>60 Minutes</I> -- but it's clear
      there are different engines driving this narrative.
      Donaghue, who came onboard after one draft, and
      Doyle are tremendously insightful and straightforward
      about the creative process. They detail the lengthy
      archival research and explain their numerous decisions,
      such as structuring the story around the last two years
      of Guerin's life and using the gangsters' real names.
      <p>
      <p>
      Sadly, except for bits of Schumacher's dry
      commentary, the other extras add nothing insightful to
      the backstory of the filmmaking. The lone deleted
      scene is an exact replica of the included footage of the
      real Veronica Guerin, and the other features are
      similarly content free.
      <p>
      <p>
      What the strong extra features reveal most of all is the
      differing creative perceptions of each of the film's
      writers, director and producer. Donaghue and Doyle
      thought of <I>Veronica Guerin</I> as a tragedy, and
      wrote it as one. Bruckheimer considered it a biopic and
      a thriller, and marketed it as such. And Schumacher
      described it as a crime story. Did everyone work on the
      same movie?
      <p>
      <p>
      <IMG SRC="http://tinyurl.com/2lnhb"><br>
      While the life of Veronica Guerin is an important and
      thrilling story, and the film is professionally presented,
      the extra features prove to be more interesting than
      the narrative itself. By detailing the changes a film and
      its writers go through from page to screen -- from
      original conception and research, to writing, to handing
      off the script to a successful and established producer -
      - the real picture of the making of <I>Veronica
      Guerin</I> emerges from the subtext, an irony the
      film's subject no doubt would have appreciated.
      <p>
      <p>
      <img src="http://tinyurl.com/yqhxe" align="left" >
      <a href="http://veronicaguerin.movies.go.com/"><I>
      Veronica Guerin</I></a><br>
      Buena Vista Home Video<br>
      $29.99<br>
      <p>
      <A
      HREF="http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B000
      189LE2/creativescree-20">Buy
      it now for $20.99 (save 30%)</A>
      <p>
      <A
      HREF="http://service.bfast.com/bfast/click?bfmid=27276
      611&siteid=40829544&bfpage=special"
      TARGET="_top">Rent it now</A>
      <br>
      <br>
      <br>
      <br>



      DVD of the Day:<br>The Writer's Life:<br> <I>The Player</I>
      ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
      <IMG SRC="http://tinyurl.com/2pxjs">
      <p>
      <p>
      <div align=center><b>Behind the Backlots and
      Backstabbings of <I>The Player</I></b><p>
      <p>
      by <a href="mailto:yon_motskin@...">Yon
      Motskin</a>
      </div>

      <div align=left>
      <IMG SRC="http://tinyurl.com/36kyc"><br>
      <div align=left><I>The Player (Special Edition)
      </I></div><br>
      <IMG SRC="http://tinyurl.com/234ej"><br>
      Michael Tolkin, based on his novel
      <p>
      <IMG SRC="http://tinyurl.com/2slvo"><br>
      <IMG SRC="http://tinyurl.com/33pbw">
      <IMG SRC="http://tinyurl.com/2v29u"><br>
      <IMG SRC="http://tinyurl.com/39mv9">
      <IMG SRC="http://tinyurl.com/2pjp3"><br>
      <p>
      <p>
      <IMG SRC="http://tinyurl.com/yvzwo" style="clear:
      both;"><br>
      This solid Special Edition DVD gives a sprawling,
      gossipy, behind-the-scenes look at Robert Altman's
      sprawling, gossipy, behind-the-scenes satire about the
      Hollywood industry.
      <p>
      <p>
      <IMG SRC="http://tinyurl.com/2j74a"><br>
      Tim Robbins stars as Griffin Mill, a successful studio
      executive who hears countless story pitches every
      day. His life becomes complicated when his
      development executive girlfriend becomes a love
      liability, his job is jeopardized by an up-and-comer
      named Larry Levy, and he begins receiving death
      threats via postcard from a disgruntled writer. Before
      long, Mill is plunged into an affair and a murder scandal
      that is, as the liner notes appropriately shout, "more
      outrageous than any movie."
      <p>
      <p>
      For anyone familiar with Robert Altman
      (<I>M*A*S*H</I>, <I>Nashville</I>), it'd be a waste
      of time to expect this film to adhere to its original
      thriller roots originally mapped out in Tolkin's book and
      screenplay. Yes, there's a murder and death threats
      and a femme fatale and a detective. But Altman's
      ulterior motives are clear from the opening tracking
      shot, an extended homage to Orson Welles's <I>Touch
      Of Evil</I>, which informs us that this will be an
      ensemble character piece anchored not by Mill, but by
      the director's roving eye.<br>
      </div>

      Here, Altman's creation of a natural, documentary feel
      (by planting numerous microphones and overlapping the
      dialogue) is ideal to eavesdrop on the many group
      scenes that do not have scripted dialogue. <I>The
      Player</I> is simultaneously a writer's film (see below)
      and not; the director gave the dozens of actors the
      freedom to improvise, creating a feeling that everyone
      is in on Altman's joke. It's also a celebration of extras,
      who contribute some of the most memorable gags in
      the film, such as <I>The Graduate</I> screenwriter
      Buck Henry pitching <I>The Graduate, Part II</I>
      (which Henry allegedly riffed off the top of his head).
      <p>
      <p>
      At one point, Mill utters "Can we talk about something
      other than Hollywood for a change? We're educated
      people." Unfortunately, this satire (whose 1992 release
      had some execs sweating) does not hold up well. Like
      the outfits and music, the story seems dated and
      somehow soft, and plays more like an "insider's look"
      than a "biting expose". Maybe it's because, with the
      proliferation of Matt Drudge, Harry Knowles,
      <I>Entertainment Weekly</I> and DirecTV, we now
      know more about Hollywood than we ever did (or
      probably should). In the end, though, <I>The
      Player</I> is still light and highly enjoyable to watch.
      <p>
      <p>
      <IMG SRC="http://tinyurl.com/2hnt3"><br>
      - Cast and cameo bios<br>
      - Audio commentary with Robert Altman and Michael
      Tolkin<br>
      - Deleted scenes<br>
      - Robert Altman featurette<br>
      - Theatrical trailer<br>
      <p>

      <IMG SRC="http://tinyurl.com/2oghv" align="left" >

      "As a screenwriter, one has to live with taking a
      backseat," said Michael Tolkin; words that every writer
      has pinned to the corkboard of their shriveled egos.
      Altman and Tolkin may share time on the same audio
      commentary, but it sounds like they recorded it
      separately. The affable and chatty Altman mainly kicks
      back and ruminates on why he himself has always been
      an outside player and -- if not for his love of actors --
      would not be making movies today. It's both inspiring
      and frustrating to hear him say things like, "So I called
      up Anjelica Huston and John Cusack and asked them to
      come shoot for a day and they said, 'Okay, sure'."
      <p>
      <p>
      But the track is worth a listen for Tolkin's commentary
      alone. The writer discusses how he never intended his
      book to be a film, and once the novel was finally picked
      up, how he never intended to write the screenplay
      himself, and once he did, how he never intended for
      Altman to direct it. Recognizing the "backseat," Tolkin
      makes some surprising compliments for someone whose
      original novel was essentially butchered. He admits that
      actors often understand their parts better than writers,
      and that directors and writers (like Altman and himself)
      who can detach themselves from the material will be
      the most successful. It's hard to imagine Tolkin being
      so forgiving during production. Perhaps that Oscar
      nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay he picked up
      for this script changed his mind.
      <p>
      <p>
      The short Altman featurette is interesting if you want
      to find out how many famous actors the legendary
      director knows, and the deleted scenes are boring and
      should've ended up on the cutting room floor of even
      the DVD editing process.
      <p>
      <p>
      <IMG SRC="http://tinyurl.com/2lnhb"><br>
      While novelist and screenwriter Michael Tolkin's
      comments about writing and the making of <I>The
      Player</I> are surprising and insightful, everything else
      about the DVD is light and comfortable. You can miss a
      few scenes, you can casually watch for cameos, you
      can listen to director Robert Altman's commentary like
      an old friend talking. The overall experience a solid
      must for any fan.
      <p>
      <p>
      <img src="http://tinyurl.com/369kk" align="left" >
      <I>The Player (Special Edition)</I><br>
      New Line Studios<br>
      $19.98
      <p>
      <A
      <A
      HREF="http://tinyurl.com/29kjk">Buy it now for $17.98
      (save 10%)</A>
      <p>
      <A
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      <p>
      <p>
      <I>Writer-director Yon Motskin is a recent graduate of
      the New York University film program. He is currently in
      preproduction on his first feature, </I>Cutman<I>, a
      dark boxing drama based on his award-winning short
      which premiered at the 2003 Sundance Film Festival
      and will screen at the 2004 Cannes Film
      Festival.</I>
      <br>
      <br>
      <IMG SRC="http://tinyurl.com/2742r" >











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    • Deidre
      ... Hello, there. Thanks for posting this, as it looks interesting, but can it be re-posted without all the HTML in it, as it makes it difficult to read for
      Message 2 of 3 , Mar 19, 2004
      • 0 Attachment
        At 08:31 AM 3/19/04 +0000, you wrote:
        >Message: 1
        > Date: Thu, 18 Mar 2004 10:53:19 -0500 (EST)
        > From: Liz Milner <lizmilner@...>
        >Subject: FW: CS Daily - Tuesday, March 16, 2004
        >
        >Dear Mythopoeic Society,
        >
        >Liz Milner has forwarded this email to you with the following message:
        >Ananysis of ROTK by script writing guru Linda
        >Seger.

        Hello, there. Thanks for posting this, as it looks interesting, but can it
        be re-posted without all the HTML in it, as it makes it difficult to read
        for those of us who post and read email in plain text. Thanks in advance!

        Deidre
      • David Bratman
        ... This is really inane. Seger has evidently never read Tolkien and has mixed up the problem and the solution. ... This sounds like she believes the vast
        Message 3 of 3 , Mar 23, 2004
        • 0 Attachment
          At 10:53 AM 3/18/2004 -0500, Liz Milner forwarded:

          >The Art of Craft:<br>Linda Seger on<br><I>The Return of the King</I>

          This is really inane. Seger has evidently never read Tolkien and has mixed
          up the problem and the solution.


          >Virtually every script has intrinsic problems that must
          >be solved to make it work. The writer is a creative
          >problem solver who has to find a way around these
          >issues. In the case of the <I>Rings</I> trilogy, the
          >story itself is somewhat linear. There are battle scenes.
          >And more battle scenes. And more battle scenes. The
          >writers had to find variety within the sheer number of
          >onslaughts of orcs and ring wraiths and goblins and ...

          This sounds like she believes the vast number of battle scenes are inherent
          in the original story. They are not. To some extent the number, and the
          entirety of the emphasis on them, was the choice of Jackson. Nor was the
          linearity a function of the original either.


          >The variety also came from creating Parallel Plotlines,
          >which I call the Parallel Journey of various characters.
          >...
          >These parallel journeys break up the linear style of the
          >film, and also vary the pace.

          This makes it sound as if introducing these additional plotlines was a
          brilliant idea on the writers' part. Actually it's all in the book. Of
          the six examples Seger gives, five are major plot points in Tolkien's
          story; the sixth, Arwen's decision to stay, was lifted and reworked out of
          the subtext, and its presence or absence doesn't change the point that
          what's here presented as a brilliant innovation is mostly just a case of
          following the book.

          It is true that the film intercuts more than the book does, but
          intercutting parallel stories is standard dramatization practice, which
          previous LOTR dramatizations have also done.


          >The emotional content of each storyline also provides
          >variety. Sam's ambivalence toward Gollum provides
          >psychological depth. For me, these were some of the
          >richest scenes and characterizations: Frodo's
          >increasing suspicions as he was poisoned by Gollum's
          >mock innocence and insinuations, and Sam's deep love
          >and caring for his friend, as well as his deep hurt over
          >his friend's rejection.

          Striking that she should find so rich the characters acting like such idiots.


          >Here is where the structure breaks down. At this point,
          >the story has ended. The goal has been achieved. The
          >heroes are safe. There is nothing left except to tie up
          >loose ends. But there is another twenty minutes of
          >resolution, adding several endings. The first ending tells
          >us that all are safe. Frodo, Sam, Merry, Pippin, as well
          >as the various other heroes are reunited. This
          >was, of course, essential. The only other essential part
          >of the resolution was to crown the new King, which is
          >the next scene, ending with everyone bowing to the
          >hobbits. If <I>The Return Of The King</I> had
          >concluded here, the resolution would have been five
          >minutes long, and would have told us everything we
          >needed to know.

          In this last phrase we see true small-mindedness at work. Not only has
          Seger declared that we do not need to know that Frodo never felt at home in
          the Shire again, or that Sam married Rosie (a plot point specifically
          beefed up by the filmmakers in the first film to give heft to this later
          resolution), or a whole bunch of other things, it's dismaying that she
          should believe that the point of a story is to tell you what you need to
          know. Isn't there more to a story (in film form or book form) than that?
          Criminy, if the point of the story is to tell you the plot facts you need
          to know, you can just read a plot summary. To experience a movie, or a
          book, is to be immersed in its atmosphere, its style, not just "to learn
          what you need to know." What is this, a cram session for a test?

          If Jackson is to be criticized on this ground - the one thing in plotting
          he did right - he should be criticized for making three great, sprawling
          movies in the first place. A "what you need to know" version of LOTR could
          easily have been packed into a single 2.5 hour film, which would have been
          mainly about Frodo, and the parallel plots could have been largely
          discarded because at such short length the great variety wouldn't have been
          necessary.

          - David Bratman
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