Friday, December 19, 2008

Keeping Fresh (some scattered thoughts)

Yesterday while watching a trailer for Frost/Nixon, I suddenly wondered whether this movie would have been made if we still lived in the Clinton era. Or if Bush had rocked our socks, and we didn't all secretly wish someone would interview him for 28 hours and get an answer.

A while back, Onyx gave me a list of criteria he thinks should be involved in judging a screenplay. Pretty much everything's on the list: story, (a lot falls under story, originality, conflict) structure, execution, dialogue, etc. However, I wanted to throw "current interest" in the list. Onyx, for good reasons, said that's up for debate. Obviously there will always be romantic comedies and action movies, but even those follow the trend of our time. An article in the New Yorker pointed out how the typical romantic comedies nowadays star the slacker dude who needs to learn responsibility and the hot go-getter girl who needs to loosen up, when a few decades ago the typical was the serious goal-oriented man's life is turned upside down when the bright sassy girl shows up. As for action movies, cars continue to blow up, but the depiction of the villains are now more PC and racially diverse.

On the other hand, being about a too-current event can hurt too. A while back a friend of mine was screening NYU's dramatic writing grad program's portfolio, when she came across a script that was about the victims of Katrina. She immediately rolled her eyes since it came off as a script fishing for sympathy with its subject. As it turns out, it was one of the best script in the pile, but my friend was obligated to read every script to the bitter end. If she was an agent that gave every script 15 page chance, this one might have not made it.

Cake Man recently posted about the possible slow demise of historical movies, and in the comments Onyx says that Westerns might need to reinvent itself to stay alive. There was some debates on that. Perhaps they need to do what romantic comedy does: keep updating. The story will always be the same: get the girl/guy, people can expect that comforting thought going in, but it certainly keeps itself up to date with the times.