Monday, September 25, 2006

It's the script, stupid

It isn't just that this Cinematical article by Kim Voynar about what makes a movie great is indisputably right; it's that in a nice example of form equalling content it also exemplifies what makes an essay great -- the writing.

I could have written a one-sentence review of "Flyboys" -- "$80 million on the budget and they couldn't spare any of it for the screenplay." How many hundreds of films have I seen in the past 10 years that were puffed-up pitches, filler between clips for the trailer. The problem is that as movies make more of their revenues outside the US than they do at home, the script becomes less important than the stuff that doesn't have to be translated, like explosions, car chases, shoot-outs, and rocket ships. Of course performances matter -- Jamie Foxx elevated "Ray's" by-the-numbers script. But, as Voynar points out, a great script attracts top talent, as Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind demonstrates. That was a script that not only attracted a powerhouse cast -- it could not be outshone by them. That's great writing.

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