Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The devil is in the details! (Waw)

Two weeks ago, I borrowed "You got served" from the video shop in Ninohe (the city North of mine). My neighbour laughed at me and asked if I was a teenager. Kiddie movie or not, I really enjoyed it. I love musicals, but I'd forgotten that the one thing that can possibly make me as happy as a musical is a dance movie. Two sides of the same coin really.

Last week I rented "How She Move."

It's a movie about a Jamaican-North American girl, Raya and her desires to escape the ghetto. While the story follows Raya, it also highlights the Caribbean-African-American artform of Step. Step is a type of dance which centers around making rhythms with your hands and feet and occasionally with props. It's like gangsta tap dance!

I love the movie. I've watched it every day since I got it. I love the triumph-whatever-the-odds story, I love the identifiable-even-though-I- never-lived-in-the ghetto characters. I love the fight to get ahead, but not leave yourself behind. I love the driving-rhythms-dance medium used to tell the tale. I'd never heard of anyone on the cast before, yet I thought they were all amazing. I was really pulled in. I thought the dialogue was well written. And I thought the characters were so deep, that I wanted to jump into the screen and hug them from time to time (Quake especially).

JSJ Team: L-R Bishop (Dwain Murphy), Quake (Brennan Gademans), Wayne (Daniel Morrison), Trey (Shawn Desman), Manny (Tristan D. Lalla), Raya (Rutina Wesley)

As an aspiring writer, I show respect where it's due. I'm recently in the habit of noticing not directors of films so much as actors. I mean people are always raving about directors, but it's a partnership. Great writer+ great director+ great actors+etc= great movie!

So I looked up the writer. Her name is Annemarie Morais. Other than the fact that whe went to York, you'd be hard-pressed to find any info about her. (Now I understand what Nathan was saying.) Writers, you NEED to have an internet presence.

Anyway, as I searched, I uncovered one site that called the plot formulaic. It bugged me a little, but I pride myself on being the type that tries to be objective.

You've got your trynna make it out the ghetto bit
You've got the whole young person OD'ing bit
You've got your bristling, barely under the surface attraction between two characters
You've got the older brother, who can't see the worth in his younger brother and the younger brother, who would eat two Jamaican hot peppers for his brother's respect. Literally.

Ok, yeah, maybe it is a little formulaic. And then my mind jumped back to another time I'd heard the same argument. A few weeks ago, after seeing and loving Avatar, I heard it referred to as "3D Pocahontas".

And maybe it is. But you know what, that doesn't matter in the least. It's still great! And so is How She Move!

All stories fit into categories: Love, Crime, Action, Drama, Comedy, Thriller, Horror etc. Recently, most of them have a 3 act structure. Problem-Work hard-Solution-Collapse-New and better solution sorta thing. Breaking news: Stories are formulaic things!

On top of all that, we're at least 2000 years into the existence of this planet. People have been telling stories since before the Year 1. There's no way we can have completely new ideas. The best we can do, as writers, and artists in general, is hope to put a new shine on and old toy.

It's a thin line. How can we stay on the right side of it? The side where we have people exclaiming, "Heavens to Mergatroid! That was fantastic!" instead of "Dizamm! Not another one!" What makes "How She Move" a great movie? I said it earlier- loveable characters, quality writing, original medium, relevance, identifiability etc.

You CAN teach an old dog new tricks. The devil, my friend, is in the details!

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