Thursday, March 26, 2009

A break from life

Yesterday was my birthday. I tell you this as a way of explaining myself. Let me back track a little.

I have a dear friend who is getting an undeserved beating from life right now. My mother's house was just robbed, her passport stolen just before we fly to my sister's wedding. Another close friend is struggling with nastiness all around her, to the extreme where she's decided to move countries. I could go on. But it's too depressing. I tell them to be good to themselves. To be generous and kind towards themselves, and give themselves lots of slack.

So, back to my birthday. I thought it was a good time to take a page from my own book of advise and take a day just for myself. A completely selfish day. Here's how it went...

It was Thursday. I took the day off work. Lovely walk in the park with the dogs, then I sat on my computer for a few hours, doddling through various sites and emails. Birthday cards and wishes. Finding info for my mom on getting a new passport. Printing a friend's script, etc. Then I hopped in my car, and went to town. I don't go to town often. Certainly for no reason, with no goal. It was a goergous sunny day. I went to my favorite shoe shop on Courtney Place. (yes, I am a girl!) and bought the perfect pair of boots. I wish I could explain to you men what that feels like. It's like the heavens just opened up, and sprinkled happy dust all over you, while playing harps that would make your heart burst. Wearing my new boots of joy out of the store, I walked all the way down Lampton Quay, get some more lovely birthday texts, poking in and out of here and there, book shops, the chocolate shop (where the wonderful chocolate lady gave me free chocolates on account of my birthday!!) all the way to NZ immigration. I had to get my residence sticker transfered to my new passport. I waited, and waited, but happily read my friend's script while waiting for number 8 to be called. Once that was acheived, I read some more while I waited for number 107 to be called. To be honest, not long enough for more than about 10 pages. Not bad. When I get to the desk, the lovely INZ lady tells me that my 2 year visa has expired (it's been 2 years!! Crickey!), so she can't give me a new one. I felt sick. I am traveling in less than a month (sister's wedding). She smiled and said I'll just have to give you your permanent reisdence visa. I couldn't believe my ears. "Can you do that?" She grinned. "Oh ya. We can do that." And she did. In no time at all, I became a full indefinate resident of New Zealand. Wicked cool! I went on my very merry way. Down to one of my favorite cafes, and had a big latte and a bowl of fries for lunch. Not my usual lunch, but today, all bets were off! I sat in the sun, dipping salty fries into aole dip, and read my friend's script. I felt fine. Once I'd had my fill of coffee and grease, I packed up and walked back towards the car, pitstopping into more shops and buying a few more wonderful treats, including a fantastic picture book on NZ history, (which will serve me tremendously for my next script!). I make it back to the Reading Cinemas just in time to catch "The Watchmen" at 4pm. Which I did. I was one of 5 people in the audience. God I love that. After the show, I go home, quickly change, and Pete whisks me off to our favorite restaurant for an incredible dinner. I go to bed completely stuffed and content.

I know that there is a lot of shit in the world. Life can be so unfair, and create such heartache. We live in chaos without things making much sence, we are programmed to persevere, but not necessarily to the ends of being happy. But every now and then, you have to just say to hell with it all, and have yourself a most awesome day. A day that you do whatever you want, not what you should. That you act like a tourist in your own city, that you take a long drive without a destination, that you do whatever you feel like, with a completey self serving frame of mind. These rare sort of days remind us why we struggle so hard. They remind us that life can be grand. That change is inevitable. Anything is possible. You can decide to take this day just for you. Take a break from life. It helps to feel possibilities and refresh your perspective.

I hightly recommend it.


  1. It's kind of heartbreaking to think an amazing film like Watchmen is struggling. If ever a film deserved an audience it is that one. What were your thoughts on it, Lyse? Oh and congrats on not being shipped out =P

  2. Thanks Julian! You guys aren't getting rid of me now! ;)

    So, Watchmen. I'm sorry, I have to say, I did not love it. You obviously did. Which makes me think I'm missing something. I've never seen the comic, maybe that makes a differece. And I love a good superhero story, even a dark one. But this one left me feeling horribly disappointed, unnessesarily disgusted, and really shocked at some bad writing. Again, I have to appologise, as I'm guessing we're at opposite ends of the spectrum on this.

    I'll give you to examples...

    The one place where my emotions were actually touched was when the tall skinny really conservative girl in the excruciatingly high heeled long black boots (great fighting gear!) and garder thingie told her alchoholic mother that she didn't care that her father was a sadistical rapist whom her mother was in love with.


    The other example that springs to mind is that the only time this sweet, caring, geeky ex-superhero can get it up is after he goes on a brutal killing spree. Then he's ready for a passionate roll in the flying sauser.

    The only character that I thought had the right idea was the naked, dispondant, blue guy, who in the end, decided to ditch this pitiful, good for nothing earth, became a god, and fly away to another plant, to make his own life forms to play with. That I can relate to. That's why we're writers, no? To create worlds and life and play with them?

    OK, the ending had a nice dark twist. They actually did sacrifice a few million people so that the rest of the workd could unite against a made up threat. Most movies with that theme don't actually go through with that. Cudoes I guess.

    I don't know. I don't need a message in every film, or heart warming relationships, or even for every character to make sense. I can watch a film just for fun. But I found myself struggling to make one bit fit. I was sitting there alone, rolling my eyes so much, and scoffing at the abismal story and writing, that I think I have bruses on my forehead from the numerous times I hit it!

    I feel like I need to appologise again. I really wanted to like that film. It's why I picked it as my special birthday film. But sadly, I just didn't. I thought it sucked.

    Please tell me why you thought it was amazing. I'd love a persepctive to change my view of it. I'd love to be shown a way to see the film in a new light, and go... oh THAT's what they were doing! Ah, I get it now. That WAS amazing!!


  3. It seems you are far from alone with your dislike of the movie. It really has polarised. I read the book about ten years ago, and have read it a few times since. I wonder myself how much of the book I was projecting into the movie I was watching. I guess I will never know. It's always interesting that there are two sides of the fence in that regard to these adapatations. This was the only Alan Moore translation that I did enjoy, didn't even like 'V' found it vapid. I wonder if I might have a little more insight into the story and characters than someone who didn't read the book. I'd have to watch it again and think about it. My flatmate has seen it three times now. I will wait to see the directors cut ( an extra 27 minutes is pretty exciting). Anyway, I thought the movie was remarkable in its faith and respect to the material, it never took it for granted or mocked it. It believed in it. It kept all my favorite lines from the book. I really like the sequence and joke of the depressed clown. Glad they kept it in. Nighthawke didn't go out on a murder spree, he saved some innocent people from a burning building. I think they killed the thugs a lot earlier than that, though I could be wrong. I think what it was saying was that he was missing a part of himself since he gave up the superhero scene. He didn't feel like a man anymore. That's NightHawke's nuculeus. I found that whole storyline quite moving and I really sympathised with the character, more than any other. The whole story between Sally Jupiter and the Comedian was a little underplayed (for time) in the movie and they didn't get across just how much Jupiter loved him. I know, it seems a little off, but its this inner conflict in the characters between what is right and what they want or need, that makes the story resonate so strongly. I thought the film did a great job with Rorschach, it would of been really easy to close off without coming to understand him, and even see some good in him. I was worried he was going to end up a cardboard cut out psycho, but they allowed him his humanity. Snyder really had a subtle hand. He didn't make Ozymandis (is that how you spell it?) overtly homosexual. Did you notice he had a folder on his computer desktop called 'Boys', I didn't but my friend did. Oh and he was hanging out with 'The Village People' and Bowie in the opening sequence, and he did have a purple tie. Lol. Of course there were things that bothered me, things from the comic I would of liked to see further explored. I wanted to see more of Ozy's base. His cat needed a little more cg work. I might of cast some of the secondary characters a little differently, used aging makeup on some of them to more effect. Anyway, if you are interested, you can find the comic on the net in 'motion comic' form. As in a movie file with pan and scan and voice over. The characters move too. Very effective. It's 12 parts long. I would check a file sharing program. I was given a copy and am unsure where it came from. The comic has more subplot. Oh, and the ending is very different. No explosion, something a little more 'out there' Kind of shocking.


    I didn't like the 300

  4. Thanks for that Julian. I can actually see some of what you're saying, specially the character duality. I just thought it was too subtle where it could have been more pointed, and too pointed when it should have been subtle. And the timing of a lot of it was bad from a story point of view. I never understood what the comedian was so upset at, crying at his enemy's bedside. He struck me as a less likable Joker in the last Batman. But same ideals. Chaos is everything. There is no meaning in the world. I found the characters too unbelievable, their characters not consistent, and their motives not layered enough. Roarchach was ok, but very cut and dried. No growth, once you had him pegged, he became a bit tiresome. Not enough meaningful inner conflicts. Was all more like, "Should I do this?" "Ya, sure why not?" And I have to say, a lot of holes in the plot. Stuff I just didn't buy. And what the hell was the purpose of that damn cat? No purpose, so no point in being there. Or did I miss something again?

    Maybe why the movie pissed me off so much was because I saw so much potential and it just didn't deliver to someone who's never read the book.

    I appreciate your perspective. And it has helped me see the movie in a better light, despite my continued rant. But perhaps that's because now I can see even more potential that it just didn't live up to.

    What's the 300? That silly bug-eyed space ship thing? Sure doesn't hold a candle to any bat-mobile. ;)

    I will however check out the online comic. That sounds intriguing!!


  5. No, that is the owl ship. Speaking of which. I meant to say Night Owl, not Nighthawke. 'The 300' was Snyder's previous film. About the 300 spartans that took on an entire army and lost. Based on Frank Miller's comic. You may remember the tagline 'Tonight we dine in hell'

  6. Hi Lyse,

    First off, I loved Watchmen.

    Second, I don't argue with anyone's experience about something. That's how you felt about it!

    What I'm fascinated in is that people can get such different reactions from the same movie.

    As Julian noted, the movie really polarises people. I haven't met one person who seems to agree on this movie whether they're for it or against it or somewhere in the broad spectrum of opinion in the middle.

    I've read the graphic novel. It helped with my experience, I'm sure. But that can be double-sided. My greatest fear going in was that I'd be bored, because that's often my experience of adaptations when I know the story.

    For me, the movie was about whether we as human beings deserve to continue to exist. What argument can we put for our survival in the face of our constant inhumanity towards each other?

    Which is a really big powerful human question. And the movie delivered a story around that question for me.

    There's monsters in Watchmen. And there's a God in Dr Manhattan. And then in the middle are characters like Dan and Laurie, who I genuinely cared about, but they get off on violence at the same time. So they combine the good and bad.

    So yeah, I loved it. But I can't really recommend it, because no one agrees on it!

    Cheers, Sean

  7. Sean and Julian,
    Hearing your perspectives, and what the movie was trying to say has certainly opened me up to re-thinking certain things in the movie. So thanks for that. I can appreciate more of it's reason for such ambiguity. I also admire taking on such a mammoth task as "should we continue to exists?". I don't think the movie exactly said sold me on the idea that we do, which is good, as I don't think so either, but of course, there's that old habit of the need for survival at all costs. I applaud them for turning a man into a God. The blue guy was my favorite character (despite some dodgy cg). Honest. Indestructible. Naked. ha!

    But my question now is... if at the time of the screening, I was so disappointed and generally pissed off at the movie, (I really did think it sucked), now that it's been "explained" to me, and I have caught myself thinking about the film on my own, does that make it a better movie for me? I have to go with no. Not really. It may end up going into the book of "movies I love to hate" along with "Eyes Wide Shut". At the time of viewing, I hated the movie, and only after much thought did I see any merit. Some may argue that this makes for a brilliant movie, one that can change your perspective the more you think about it, but I think it just means that the movie missed it's mark. If it were truly brilliant, I would have had these feelings while watching the movie. That is when it's at it's most powerful. Instead, all the head-smacking got in the way.

    Maybe these movies (the love or hate em type) walk a fine line of sensibilities. And depending on the mood of the viewer, (which can easily tip the scales one way or the other) you at the very least end up with a passionate audience that loves to discuss the merits of the film. Not too bad really.


  8. The first time I saw Eyes Wide Shut I was kind of taken back by it and didn't like it. I wanted to learn more about the secret meetings. But It stayed in my mind and about three hours later my views started changing and I realized that I did in fact like it. It really is a great film when it can't leave your mind. Sure it didn't go where I wanted it to. But it went where it should of and gave me something better. I've seen it about ten times since, and every time it feels new. I have the Kubrick collection, it's gold. You can watch anyone of those films and find something new every time. Like they are living. A far contrast to most of these sign post plotted films we get from hollywood (Thanks Syd Field!) Anyway, last night I watched Tales from the Black Freighter and Under The Hood. Under the hood is a faked doco about Hollis Mason and his days as a crime fighter (this was filmed in the 70's or 80's or something, or so was its guise. Interesting, but that's about it. I did want to see more of Hollis in the film, maybe the director's cut. The Black Freighter was a twenty minute animated piece about a sailor's decent into madness. It was a comic book that was being read by a guy in the watchmen comic. Kind of like a story within a story. It was cut out of the movie because of budget/time and we get it in this animated form, and it's cool, but I can't help but think it didn't meet its potential in this form. I'm not sure what you mean about dodgy CG on Dr. Manhatten, that big blue penis looked pretty convincing to me, or maybe that was the trick, they get you to look at the penis so that they don't need to put as much effort into the rest of it.

  9. belated birthday greetings, Lyse, and (especially with your permanent residency) many happy returns. a day of do as thou wilt is always good for the soul.

    as for Watchmen, my Lovely Wife enjoyed it but i was bored by it. i'm a big fan of the comic while she hadn't read it. half an hour into the film (may've been less), i found myself hankering for a distinct and individual directorial voice rather than the very faithful adaptation that i go.

    the preceding comments tell me that if a film has to be explained afterwards, it hasn't done its job in the first place.

  10. Hi all,

    Lyse - hope you don't mind a group conversation in the comments section!

    David - good to hear your views on Watchmen! I've been hanging out to hear what you thought of it...

    Eyes Wide Shut - first time I hated it, the second time I loved it. So I've swung both ways on that film! The second time I saw it I realised that Tom Cruise wasn't meant to be a hero. That totally turned around my experience of the film.

    Yeah, if a film is only a good experience in the analysis after, then it hasn't really worked for you... For me, Watchmen worked as an experience while I was watching it. That's why I loved it!

    Cheers, Sean

  11. Sean, I'm thoroughly enjoying the conversation! In fact, it has made me think about these kinds of movies. The ones that seem to provoke "hated it/bored by it" or "loved it" and how that happens. Interesting.

    Tricky these ones, as a bad movie is just bad. People say it's bad. Everyone agrees on why it's bad. But these ones, they provoke quite the conversations. That alone is very cool, even if the film did suck. (haha!!! I jest!!)

    Seriously, analyzing this kind of tricky film does certainly help me with my own writing. What I would have done, what I will make sure to do or not do in my stories. It's all about the subtleties.

  12. thank you Lyse for letting us use your comments like a forum.

    saw Eyes Wide Shut a year or so after its release. i'm a Kubrick fan but... it looked great, it was (so i'm told) technically perfect... but i didn't care for it. not even to revisit it.

    i'd like to think there are films that i've revisited out of curiosity or to make sure i 'got it' but i somehow doubt it as i barely have time to watch film and tv the first time around.

    hm. I think I shall meditate now, in my orrery.

  13. haha! There's nothing like a movie dispute! ;)

    ps. I hate the Kubrick films I've seen. Self indulgent, pessimistic, narrow-eyed view of society. And boring. I know he's trying to do something with all the pausing and dead air, and cleanness, and shock value, but I just find it becomes nap time. I've never made it all the way through 2001, or Dr. Strangelove, and I HATED Clockwork Orange (come on!! Jesus. What the hell!). I stopped trying after Eyes Wide Shut.

    How's THAT for unpopular!! ;)

  14. A Clock Work Orange was amazing on a whole lot of levels (recently viewed color me Kubrick with John Malka... worth watching) But as I've gotten older i've developed a different attitude towards content. Things have more impact on me now, than they did when I was a kid. Ii've become ultra sensitive to the bit of the old 'ultra violence') I really can't bring myself to watch it again, as amazing as it is. And god is it amazing.


    That forum's a baron wasteland, David.

  15. someone's just attention seeking.

    but out of good manners...

    there's something about Full Metal Jacket and 2001 that make arresting viewing. it's not the attention to detail. okay, maybe a little. it's the fierce intelligence behind every single damned element of every frame of his films that i find compelling to watch. sure, in some of his films some humanity might be welcome but there's a purity to the cinematic experience with Kubrick's films that i can't shake.

    i can appreciate the film that is Eyes Wide Shut but i still didn't enjoy it. and i guess i don't appreciate it enough to revisit it.


  16. @Julian - funny you should mention the sensitivity to violence. i don't get the same vicarious thrill from action films as i remember (Shoot Em Up aside, cackle-cackle). partly it's age and the acceptance of mortality, partly it's parenthood and all that entails. maturity has a nice ring to it but i find that concept vastly overrated. (the guild forums a 'barren wasteland' - oh but if you don't go there, how else will it be populated?)

    @Lyse - okay, missy: what're your sacred film cows?

  17. Maturity? Nah!! Has nothing to do with age. :) I've always hated gratuitous violence. I think it's cheep and nasty. Lazy story telling, and self-indulgent, boyish directing. And I think (taking the high moral risk) bad for our society. IF the violence is an integral part of what the movie is trying to say, (other than hey look at me, aren't I gross. Cool!) then OK. But other than that, I think it's lazy film making with a lack of conscience. So there. ;)

    My sacred film cows... ah. So it's revenge time? OK... I loved "Blade Runner" and "Princes Bride". These are always the first two off the top of my head.

    Side Note: Knowing that Ridley Scott directed one of my all time fav movies, can you imagine my shock when I was told that he might actually read my script?! I almost shit my pants. Hasn't happened yet, and I think it might actually not happen. Cruel joke from the heavens. But it has gotten to one of the directors who works with him, so maybe... just maybe...

  18. name dropper.

    with Blade Runner and Princess Bride you mayn't be the devil incarnate after all.

    Bride is a great example of a screenwriter who kept a hand on its journey to the screen while BR is one of those happy 'accidents' where everyone - everyone - came together, not necessarily consciously, to make a sci-fi film that's yet to be equalled.

  19. Thanks for indulging me! You are a true gentleman. :)

  20. In contrast to this blog, look how lonely poor Mike Riddel must be over at no comments. I think we should all go over there and Maybe we should all roll over there and inundate him. Lyse, I recently emailed three companies and was able to switch copies of my script for revised ones, they takes months to read the damn things, so you can usually do it, probably a bad habit to fall into. I am terrible for typos. I can pick them up in other people's scripts but with my own my eyes seem to glaze over the words, my brain seems to be saying, you know what it says, just move on. Like I am not taking in letters but just complete words, even sentences, it's awful. I could hardly spell at all a few years back when I started writing, I'm still pretty bad at it, but no where near as bad as I was. Didn't pay attention at school, always daydreaming.

  21. Good to know I'm not alone in missing the spelling gene. I actually did try to learn to spell in school, but it just never made any sense to me. So I gave up and accepted that this will never be my forte. I love spell check. My partner knows how to spell words that he doesn't even know the meaning of, or has never heard before. Baffles me. And yet, I still manage to beat him at scrabble on occasion. ;)

    That said, my "typos" weren't actually spelling. Friends caught all of those. It was other mistakes, grammar, punctuation, repetition, that kind of thing, that my new editor caught. Bless him.

    I will try to swap out my script where I can. I know the contests won't allow that. But maybe like you suggest, I can send the rev to producers, etc. Thanks for the tip.

    I also have the glazed, I know this bit, skim skim problem. I heard that there are generally two ways to read. And people usually fall into one or the other. The first kind reads every word, every letter. They usually take longer to read something, but have taken it all in and will retain more detail. The second kind read phrases, and shapes of words getting a concept rather than actual single words. This type reads faster, but often misses a lot. Needless to say, I fall into the latter. I try to be the diligent reader when reading someone else's script, and I'm always surprised how much longer it takes me to read them.

    Maybe I should try to be that reader when proofing my own! Or buy nice gifts for my editor friend to do it for me. : )