This was the only complex in my area that was salmon coloured and apparently coal-powered. I don't really know what was in there, but it gave me chills thinking about it. My hometown had two of those, almost exactly the same, only one had a giant R on top and was the only remaining structure from the old factory that had been there, and the other was in Rocky Mountain Labs. The latter was always talked about like they used it to burn old contaminated specimens*mice*. The lab still exists, but they've installed a T4*T3?T2? I can never remember lab classifications, the kind that lets you work with Ebola, and is basically an above-ground submarine environment* and most of the old buildings have been demolished. I fear I may one day hear about my hometown on the news because of an Ebola or Typhoid outbreak.
There are coyotes that live in the woods behind my mother's home. Small, sleek creatures, yellow dogs with amber eyes, grinning jaws and perked ears. They're the color of mud and honey, able to vanish into the woods from a foot away, able to move like ghosts.
You can hear them working in the garden, the lining of their doggish footsteps, smell the soft, slightly sour tang of their musk as they observe you.
One of the pups used to come and play with our dogs, before it realized that our dogs were not, in fact, the ugliest coyotes ever, and it returned to its pack, never looking back after that social faux pas.
I used to walk out in the woods, hear the soft sound of their footprints, follow their tracks, hear the sharper, more edgy sound of the hooves of deer as they moved around me, invisible to my eyes unless I curled up among the leaf-litter, and stayed still.
Some of my peers are afraid of them. Coyotes. God's Dogs, some called them, the Old Trickster Incarnate. They say they rip the bellies of dear, lead dogs to their packs to eat them, and would kill people if they could. But I'm at ease with the beasts, as at ease with the shy creatures as I am with 'my' ravens. I am not their prey. They will not hurt me. I don't go into the woods smelling of anger, fear and blood. I don't go into the woods smelling of gunpowder and death. (cont.)
Still working on The God of Animals by Aryn Kyle, one of the prepubs I snagged the other week. I'm word-dazed, my mind there and not wholly here, shoveling rice goop into my mouth because I know I need to eat something, so something turned out to be brown rice + cheese sauce. Whatever works. I'm not an expert cook, or a chef (like my step dad, who I am convinced is the best chef to graduate from the CIA, ever), but normally my meals are edible. Today is no exception, though rice always reminded me of meal worms and maggots, the squashed up stuff that made up the food for the orphaned robins I took care of as a child.
Back to the story- it's about a girl, her family, and horses, a nice, quasi-sorrowful tale, without dropping too far into the sugary realm of those horse stories I loved as a kid, and realistic enough to remind me of my riding lessons as a child (english and western). It's about a working stable, and -more importantly- about the complex relationships we share with others. Feel the human connection, folks. Nice light reading.
Why? Well some if has to do with the fact that I've not long ago posted the three hundredth fiction piece on my MySpace blog. It hardly seems all that long ago I was getting excited about getting to one hundred.
There's that which isn't that strange although I wouldn't have expected to be still posting to it over a year later.
The really mad thing is that a couple of weeks ago I got it into my head to write a screenplay. The idea for the story wouldn't go away and kept building on itself so I sat down and started writing. A week later I had second-ish draft (because I started the first draft, realised ten pages of dialogue was a bit much and restarted) that came to one hundred and ten pages.
I've sinced tweaked it into a third draft and once I go through it properly there will be a fourth draft.
I still can't get the thing out of my head.
I should be going, "Yes, that's it, done. Do some revisions, polish it and then be done with it."
This doesn't seem to be the case. I have a hunch that unlike anything I've written before I'm unsure of what to do with it once I'm happy with it. It's not like I know anyone in the film industry.
These are big thoughts from an all but unknown writer to be having. Some might even say arrogant...
It's a cold night; up here in the computer room, there is no heat; only the buzz of my small 'energy saver' space heater, which hardly produces as much heat as my mother's dogs do. The air is dry, and my light comes from a plant-light jammed into a previously unused lamp I found in one of the other rooms.
I'm in a reading-thrall. One more sentence, one more paragraph, one more chapter, to the end, caught up in the adventure of it all, escapism mingled with a lust for new experiences, and a lust for ink.
Ink is the blood of the soul.
As a child, my mom said I read too much. I remember it. Go outside and play with your friends, or something. Anything. It's not natural for a child to closet herself away like that, not healthy...
If I could live off of books, thoughts, ideas, I would.
I can't keep it up forever, and probably within the hour I'll groggily head to bed to collapse until morning in a dreamless sleep, then wake up to finish the last few chapters of the book, then on to the next.
Then, Mark Protosevich steps in again. Neville's reaction to seeing human beings is perfect. Then, Goldsman: Neville voice-overs Shrek just to finish it with a wannabe funny joke (Goldsman did the same kinda thing in I Robot, also starred by Smith). After that, Goldsman remains, and includes an...
... ABSOLUTELY FUCKING RIDICULOUS DISCUSSION ABOUT WHETHER OR NOT GOD EXISTS AND WHETHER OR NOT HE HAS A PLAN FOR US ALL AND BLAH-BLAH-BLAH INSERT TYPICAL THEOLOGICAL BULLSHIT EVERYTHING-HAPPENS-FOR-A-FUCKING-REASON HERE...
... and Protosevich steps in again, I guess. I think they wrote the ending together. There are some beautiful moments, but the part the above theological discussion plays in the ending is ridiculous and doesn't fit at all. At the same time, it's touching. Protosevich and Goldsman, probably. And the unecessary monologue at the end? Goldsman.
But surprisingly, the ending works. How? Because by then Robert Neville is already important to us. In other words, thanks to Protosevich's part of the script, Lawrence's direction and Will Smith.
Smith is brilliant. He displays fear, surprise, etc. with perfection. Notice his heavy breathing and his eyes at the warehouse sequence: it's almost palpable. And his performance at the ending of the movie is nothing short of beautiful. He carries the movie on his back without breaking a sweat, and once again, like he did in Pursuit of Happiness, he proves what a great actor he is.
My fellow Brazilian Alice Braga can't do much, though, since her dialogue and character are mostly written by... you guessed it. So she does what she can: excellent american accent. And her son practically doesn't talk. Neville's dog is more interesting than them, just so you have an idea at what a fucking disaster Goldsman and his characters are.
I Am Legend is a good movie, tense and dramatic. But Goldsman prevents it from being the masterpiece it easily could have been, and the CGI creatures are unconvincing. It is, though, worth watching.
This and other movies make me perfectly convinced Goldsman didn't write the script of A Beautiful Mind. Someone else did it and Goldsman found a way to take credit for it without writing a single line. How do I know? A Beautiful Mind is an excellent film.
PS: in a certain point of the film, Anna says she never heard of Bob Marley.
Director Francis Lawrence is responsible for one of the stupidest ideas in comic-to-movie adaptations: to turn John Constantine from Hellblazer into a guy from Los Angeles, who wears black clothing and has brown hair, and to give him all sorts of beyond-ridiculous super-gadgets. And Lawrence was also responsible for making a decent movie out of that. "Constantine" was very flawed, but enjoyable, thanks to the cast (yes, including the underrated Keanu Reeves) and Lawrence's excellent direction. Which led me to think that maybe Lawrence is a talented director who made a very serious mistake.
Apparently, though, it seems he's building a trademark: to make a stupid decision in every one of his movies, and then direct the shit out of it. It's what happens in this "I Am Legend". He made two serious mistakes here: the first is the CGI vampires. The second was letting Akiva Goldsman anywhere near the script. Aside from that, the movie is excellent.
The story's already well-known, but hey, fuck it: military scientist Robert Neville (i.e. good with chemicals AND with guns) is seemingly the last man on the planet, after a virus bred from a presumed "cure for cancer" spread throughout the world and turned the population into a kind of vampire. Living with his pet dog, he has a lot of food in stock, but hunts for some deer meat whenever possible. And at night, he hides in his house, while the vampires roam the streets.
The movie starts very, very well, and goes on brilliantly until the middle. I can bet this first half was completely written by Mark Protosevich (responsible for the efficient Poseidon and The Cell, which I have yet to see): he builds the tension slowly and eases us in into Neville's life. We learn he talks to his dog and pretend mannequins are real people so he won't feel so lonely. We learn how amazingly careful he is not to be discovered by the vampires. Without many words, the script shows us every detail of the man's life.
Lawrence also shines: giving us information via old newspapers and etc. instead of using expositive dialogue, he creates nice visuals and conducts every scene very well. The warehouse sequence is fantastically filmed, with only two angles: Neville's face and the aim of his flashlight. Using the sound effects efficiently, this is easily the most tense sequence in the movie. Lawrence also creates a beautiful scene at the end, using a successfully dramatic slow-motion (although the theological meaning of it is annoying, which will be discussed later. No spoilers.)
And then the first mistake comes: the CGI vampires. Obviously this was done so the vampires could move faster and be more bizarre, but really, an actor in makeover would have kicked some CGI ass. It's painfully obvious we're looking at virtual creatures, which takes away a good deal of the tension. The good direction and the excellent performance by Will Smith (which will be discussed later) help, but the CGI is really bad quality. Gollum is ten times more real than any of those creatures. Fuck, even the DEERS look artificial. Terrible job on the special effects department. And even if it wasn't: actor in makeover would be much better.
But despite that, the movie goes on very well, featuring a very touching scene in which Neville begs for a mannequin to talk to him. It might sound funny, but believe me, it's anything but.
Then Akiva Goldsman steps in.
How do I know part of the script here was written by him? His other movies, like Batman and Robin, Batman Forever, Cinderella Man, Da Vinci Code, I Robot and etc. have a lot of his ridiculous style here. First, the girl Anna and her son, Ethan. The way they come into the movie is way too forced and unlikely... and the movie establishes very well the kind of person Neville is, so what he's doing when Anna appears is something we know he'd never do no matter what.
Back to Korea. Happily, Yellow Dust Season also coincides with Spring. So there were millions of little pink cherry blossoms blowing about. Made for some great pictures. I remember when I got this roll of film developed, the man behind the counter*who spoke almost no english* seemed really concerned that all of my pictures of Korea were sad or nasty looking. He then proceeded to give me a stack of photos of someone's garden out in the country. There was a lake, reeds and a sickening white picket fence. I think they even managed to jam a cherry red bicycle in. I just smiled and told him thanks, but I cherish my dirty photos so much more than some sap you churned up. Times when I was happy for a language barrier +1.