Hollywood screenwriter and professional script doctor Brian Price, author of Classical Storytelling and Contemporary Screenwriting: Aristotle and the Modern Scriptwriter, found everything he needed to know about screenwriting in a 2,500-year-old text, Aristotle’s Poetics. Brian and Jacke talk about how Aristotle’s study of Greek tragedy has unlocked the buried secrets of storytelling – and how those examples can be used to understand the storytelling secrets in everything from Casablanca to Spider-Man and Black Panther.
Ah, the sweet smell of success… and the burning stench of failure. Continuing their two part conversation on literary adaptations, Jacke and Mike choose ten of the worst book-to-movie projects of all time. How could so many people, working so hard and with such great source material, go so wrong? And why is Gary Oldman screaming that he is in hell? We’ll find out!
Works discussed include The Dead, Battlefield Earth, Portnoy’s Complaint, the X-Men movies, The Golden Compass, The Human Stain, The Girl on the Train, Zardoz, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Enduring Love, Dune, Gone with the Wind, Beauty and the Beast, The Cat in the Hat, Anna Karenina, Alice in Wonderland, Bonfire of the Vanities, The Scarlet Letter, Watchmen, and Jules and Jim.
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The lights dim, the audience hushes in expectation, and the light and magic begin. In some ways (the crowd, the sound) the experience of watching a movie could not be more different from reading a novel – and yet the two have some very important features in common. Novels and the cinema are intertwined, and both show the power of a cracking good story told through what John Gardner called a vivid, continuous dream. In this special episode, Jacke and Mike take a look at great films made out of great works of literature.
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Brilliant reader MFA commented on the Steve Martin reference:
My daughter and I still mist up at the Steve Martin backyard basketball scene in “Father of the Bride”. Not taking away from the Spencer Tracy Elizabeth Taylor version.
Here’s the clip:
Argh, this is heartbreaking. Was there really a version of me who would once have seen this as overly sentimental? Because now I can barely see the screen thanks to the dust that just flew into my eyes. Parenting…what saps it turns us into.
Watching the middle-aged Martin play this character is fascinating to contrast with the young-man joke I analyzed in Episode One of the Restless Mind Show. (You’ll have to listen to the episode to hear which Steve Martin bit it was.) In the clip here there’s no bluster, no bravado…just a very human guy. Playing a dad.
Steve Martin’s own relationship with his father is agonizing – that part of his memoir alone is worth a read if you haven’t heard about it before. I don’t think it takes psychiatrist’s license to think that Martin’s Wild and Crazy Guy period was his way of blocking all that out. And when he set that persona aside and starting playing the teary-eyed dad, he must have had a deep well of longing to draw upon. A son’s wish for the father-son relationship he hadn’t had.
Powerful stuff coming from unexpected corners. Thanks for the tip, MFA!