Saturday, April 16, 2011

Watch and Learn


In the last two days I've been watching You've Got Mail over and over. The first time as a normal feature film the second with the commentary from director and producer, the third with the music sound track only, the forth normally once again and I was in the middle of the fifth time when Ed came to bed and I had to turn off the TV.

Though I am enjoying it immensely it is not entirely for that purpose. It is part of the self-education on script writing in honor of the ongoing Script Frenzy. Some might say it is a not very subtle form of procrastination, this insistence that all this movie watching this month is on behalf of my script. And they'd probably have a point. But I have been learning a lot which is what I set my mind to for this year's Script Frenzy--to make it more about learning the art and craft of film stories than about a frantic typing of nicely formatted words that can barely be called a story and read more like a rambling novel with oddly indented dialog.

I didn't know until yesterday that the same writer/director who gave us You've Got Mail, also gave us Sleepless in Seattle and Julie and Julia. She also wrote When Harry Met Sally. I learned this (except for the Julie and Julia) while watching the special features on the DVD in which Nora Ephron talks about making the movie, writing the script, the meaning that language and story have for her, growing up as the daughter of writers (her parents wrote Carousel and The Desk Set) and working with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan.

Ephron said in one interview I saw on YouTube that all romantic comedy stems from either The Taming of the Shrew or Pride and Prejudice and that in the one case the thing standing between the couples is a matter of character and in the other a matter of class. Until Woody Allen she caveats. In which case the block originates in the male's neurosis.

I'm not sure what to make of all that and will have to contemplate it for a time before either agreeing or not. Probably need to reread Taming of the Shrew and Pride and Prejudice as well. As for Woody Allen adding a third, previously not existing strand to the romantic comedy tradition. Well I must ask, in what way is neurosis not a character issue?

I could really enjoy discussing story face to face with Nora Ephron though.

You've Got Mail was a remake or retelling of a classic stage and screen play. A month or so ago I watched The Shop Around the Corner starring Jimmy Stewart and the In the Good Old Summertime starring Judy Garland. The first was black and white and the second was a musical and in color made lees than ten years after the first. The original stage play had the word 'perfume' in the title, tho not the English word. Was it French? I really should go to Wikipedia or IMDb and get my facts straight but I'm fading fast here having been awake since 3 this morning and it closing in on 11pm as I type this.

0 tell me a story:

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