Friday, December 31, 2010


I watch movies for the same reason that I read books - to be taken away to another world.

I had a friend who was so analytical about everything, he could take the fun out of it without really trying. For example, Barbie. Yeah, I know, there is so much material there to shred that it isn't even a challenge. But me being a biology and him being uber-analytical, there was, I am ashamed to admit, a 20 minute conversation on the dimensions and unreal image of Barbie.

Why, I am still unsure just how we got on that topic, or why we followed through with it, and I don't remember where we went from there.

But I remember all too well the way he systematically shredded everything to do with Barbie, one piece at a time, and my own contributions to the conversation. It was like a verbal horror movie. In auditory technicolor.

Now how does that relate to movies? Hang with me, I am getting there.

As I said, I like movies to escape, to relax, to just be.

To understand, you really have to know me. See, I am high strung on the best of days. I live on stress and chaos. Which, lucky for me, my household provides all too well. (Read: Teenage daughter!)

So when I watch a movie, I don't want to sit and pick apart every aspect of it, reducing it to a mental pile of flesh color plastic like that poor Barbie. Instead, I want a story to be told in such a way that I can just relax in to it, allow it to captivate me, and when it ends, I want to have the wish for a sequel, maybe not to the same storyline, but set in the same universe. Because I want to go there again. And again.

That doesn't mean that I will ignore plotholes and issues. But sometimes, if they are not so glaring that I have to stop watching because I am turning into a Barbie analyzer, I can gloss over them.

To me, that is how movies should influence books, and vice versa, and how both play into the art of storytelling. With a good book, I can gloss over some faint issues. So they didn't really bathe daily in historical Scotland, and they probably smelled much like their horses and sheep. So what ... I can ignore that bit of fancy that the author put in to make their characters more likable. But putting a machine gun in the hands of a 1600's highland cheiftain? Um ... no.

I think that is why I am struggling to hard with the idea of Steampunk. I know it is the latest craze, but I am finding it too much of a suspension of disbelief. I know it is an "alternate" reality, but I just can't get in to. The storytelling of the novels I have read so far hasn't been enough to draw me in, with one exception.

Which is why as much as I love some genres of story-telling, there are some movies I shy away from. I know, just from the prebiews, comments, and reviews, that it will but right up against my suspension of disbelief wall and crash and burn.

So it is better than I not waste my time.

The storytelling of the writer, direction, whatever, just isn't a type that I mesh well with.

But man alive, give me a movie or a book that I can loose myself in, and I willing to let it happen. I love to emerse myself into the storyteller's universe and let them sweep me away.


  1. Yup, I could sign up to all of that!

    The very best of all Good new Years to you and yours.

  2. Yes! Don't you hate it when you're deep into a book or movie, and you're jarred out of it? You can forgive (maybe) outside stuff like a baby crying or the phone ringing, but not when something in the movie or book yanks you out of the fantasy zone.

  3. Hi Michelle,

    I think what you highlight here is that the story has to come first.

    If the writer or director doesn't have a passion for their story, if they don't believe in it, if they don't NEED to tell it, then the rest of us can^t escape into it.

    The storyteller creates a little bubble in which we can breathe in the story and let us fill it.

    All good storytellers do that no matter what medium they have available to them.

    All the stuff on technique is just a way of enabling the storyteller to do what they do with more impact. Technique without the passion is impotent. It doesn't arouse our imagination, it merely irritates our intellect.

    I'm reading a couple of anthologies of Steampunk at the moment and too many of them are clever rather than evocative.

    The genre writers I love are the ones who take the milieu for granted and focus on how the people who live in it cope with getting through their lives and solving their problems.

    These genre writers have built a solid escape pod that folds around me as if it were made to measure.

    What more could I ask?

    Thanks for posting this

  4. Kathleen -- More to the point, I can ignore a phone ringing. LOL What really kills me is when I get all the way to the end, and the ending bombs. Just sucks complete ass. All that time and emotional investment, and then complete disappointment. Gah!

  5. Mike -- Indeed. It is easy to tell when an author or a director/producer/actor is merely phoning it in and when they truly like what they are doing. For example ... Silence of the Lambs and Red Dragon vs Hannibal and Hannbal Rising.

  6. *makes note to self* Avoid writing endings that suck ass.

  7. Hi, Michelle,

    Years ago I had a boyfriend - very bright guy, if a bit neurotic, good looking, good in bed... He found out that I enjoyed movies, so we went to see a few. Afterward, he would pick them apart, analyzing and criticizing until I was ready to tear HIM limb from limb. (He didn't last long as my boyfriend, I should say...!)

    I don't want stupid movies. But I do want to give my inner critic a rest.



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