November 24, 2008

Movie Review: Moulin Rouge


I forgot how good this movie was. Recently I watched it for a screenplay analysis. You can read that post here. This film is just so good. I believe Baz Luhrmann's masterpiece is what re-ignited interest in the movie musical. Everything about this movie keeps you captivated. The characters do an impressive job. Ewan McGregor is convincing as the starry-eyed idealistic poet who falls in love with Satine. He sees nothing but her, and his face lights up when she walks into the room. Nicole Kidman does a decent job in her role as well, although all she has to do is be gorgeous and tantalizing. Towards the end of the movie, she does pick up her game and presents a haunting portrait of a woman who knows she has doomed herself to a life of torment without her love. Both of them do fine as singers. I am sure their voices were touched up a lot, but who cares?

The supporting cast is great as well. The Duke sneers effectively. Jim Broadbent as Harold Zigler is great as the manager of the Moulin Rouge. He is a kind man, although his first love is his theater. He truly is sorry he has to ask Satine to sacrifice herself, but not sorry enough that he is willing to see the Moulin Rouge go bankrupt. He has a great number towards the end called The Show Must Go On. My favorite supporting actor by far has to be John Leguizamo, a Baz Luhrmann regular. He plays the dwarfed version of Toulouse-Lautrec well and represents all that glitters in the Bohemian. He believes in truth, beauty, and love and wants everyone around him to have all 3 if possible.

November 23, 2008

Screenplay Analysis: Moulin Rouge

Recently, I had an author come and speak to the teens at my library about screenwriting. She emphasized that the key to writing a good screenplay is to read a lot of screenplays and watch a lot of movies. The watching movies part I can do! She challenged us to go home, watch a movie that was about two hours long and break it down. Here are the rules:

1. A good screenplay lasts no more than two hours. After that, an audience will get antsy. Of course, some movies are longer than two hours, but you do this at great risk and will have to do something special to compensate.
2. A good story is when someone wants something very badly and is having trouble getting it.
3. Each screenplay has three acts. Act I is about 45 minutes to an hour. Acts II will be the longest. Act III is the shortest because a movie should accelerate at the end. Each act ends with a cliffhanger to keep people from walking out.
4. Besides that structure, a two hour movie is made up of eight 15-minute sequences.
5. Right in the middle, there is a moment called a midpoint where something is reversed.
6. Each story should have a protagonist and an antagonist. In action, adventure type movies, this person is a villain. In a romance, the lover is the antagonist. Not an enemy, but the person standing in the main character's way.

Okay, so I went home and watched Moulin Rouge. This is such a great example. I could really see what she was talking about by watching this movie. Not everything was exactly 15 minutes, but I got the idea of the structure and could follow along.

NOTE: IF YOU HAVEN'T SEEN THE MOVIE AND DON'T WANT IT SPOILED, DON'T READ BELOW HERE. THIS WILL GIVE AWAY THE PLOT AND ENDING.

Act I is what I call the Falling in Love act. In this act, our hero, Christian, accompanies his new friends to the Moulin Rouge, where they hope to employ him as the lead composer for their theoretical play that will give a voice to the Bohemian Revolution. That night, Christian meets and falls for Satine, the lead courtesan that works at the Moulin Rouge. This lasts about 55 minutes. It starts at the beginning and ends when Christian and Satine kiss for the first time and realize they are in love. They decide to be lovers.

November 17, 2008

Book Review: The Harrowing by Alex Sokoloff


I wish I had more time to read. People think that librarians get to read books all the time. No, I just help other people find books that they have time to read. When I start a book, it usually takes me at least a couple weeks to finish it. This is because sometimes the only moments I have to read are during my lunch break.

I remember the days when I found time to snuggle up and read a delicious book. Sometimes I would finish one in a night. Well, I got to relive those days by reading The Harrowingin one evening. You see, the author, Alex Sokoloff, came to speak at my library. And before she came, I really wanted to finish her book. Lucky for me, the book was entertaining and the story moved.

The story takes place on a college campus. It's Thanksgiving break, and while most students are going to have turkey day with their family, five students choose to stay on campus: the jock, a slut, a bookworm, a musician, and our heroine, the lonely Robin. There's not much friendship between them, but as the hour runs late, illegal substances are passed around and someone finds a Ouija board. Then the students meet Zachary, and the game turns into a nightmare.