Movie of the Day #12 – Coraline

Okay. We are 29 days into January, but only 12 new films.  Yeah, I can do the math too.  I have a lot of catching up to do.

In my defense, I’ve been reading a lot of pilot scripts and writing…but, I still want to get back on track with this ‘resolution’, so yay, new movie.

I had two problems with “Coraline.”

First, I hate rules that aren’t fully explained.  I get that there’s this pathway between the real world (RW) and the ‘Other Mother’s’ world (OMW), but apparently the only way through is from the small door.  Still, Coraline manages to transport from OMW back to RW when she goes to sleep.

Later, they establish that OM can’t get into the real world EXCEPT THROUGH THAT DOOR.  So, which is it?  I’m probably picking nits, but it bugged me enough to take me out of the movie and try to figure out if I had missed something earlier on that explained that or if I was just supposed to accept this weird little rule change.

The other problem I had was one of Coraline’s character.  I’m still scratching my head about the girl.  Overall I feel that Gaiman wrote a beautiful story about being careful what you wish for (as you may get a psychotic version of it), but there was something about Coraline’s behavior throughout that just didn’t ring true.  OMW starts off so great, you wonder why Coraline goes back to the RW at all (and again, with the rules — DOES she go back voluntarily or is she magically transported back to her bed?  Is she sleepwalking?)  Once she detects that things are going hinky, she’s a little slow to respond, especially given how generally bright Coraline appears to be.  I’m also confused about OMW – does she have power over everything she creates there?  If so, how are the other Wylie and her other dad able to rebel as they do?  One would think they are merely ‘puppets’, but what gives them conscience to help Coraline?

Also, there can never be enough Ian McShane.  Like the proverbial cowbell, I needed more.

I enjoyed the visuals, but the film left me wanting.

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This post was written by Shawna on January 30, 2010

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Struggling to find the wrong words.

For me, the worst part of writing is the moment when I am typing words onto the page.

I’ve heard that’s pretty common with writers…hating the writing part.

As we all know though, writing is more than the act of typing or physically writing words on a page – it involves the thinking, the constructing, the questioning, the tearing down to build up, and the constant stream of decision making.  I recently discovered I lost a screenplay I started writing about eight or nine years ago.  It was one of my first attempts, and it was horrible, but I had a thought the other day that it would be better to work with some words on the page, even if they are ill-suited or horrendous, than start with that damn blank page again.

But whatever I had, horrible as it was, is no longer there.  Whatever is left, exists only in my memory.

So here I am, facing the blank page, trying to find some words to put on it.  I’m not looking for the right words yet.  Right now, I’m looking for the ones that help me get to a point where I can start looking for the right ones. 

I guess that means I’m looking for the wrong ones.

As I said, the wrong ones are better than none at all, it seems sometimes… 

I care about what I say and how I say it, and I hate getting it wrong.  Sometimes I wish I didn’t care so much, because then I’d just pour out words and not care whether I was communicating anything worth saying.  At least there’d be words.

And having said all this, maybe I can start looking for something right to say…

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This post was written by Shawna on January 19, 2010


Movie of the Day #11 – The Great Ziegfeld

I love William Powell and Myrna Loy.  Somehow I’ve missed this pairing of them, outside ‘The Thin Man’ series.  Powell is amazing, as always, as Ziegfeld, but the real suprise for me was Luise Rainer, who played Ziegfeld’s first wife.  The scene that resonated most, when she’s congratulating him on his second marriage to Billie Burke (Loy) and you can see Anna Held’s (Rainer) heart breaking onscreen.  It’s one of the most emotional gut wrenching scenes I’ve watched in awhile.

Anna’s maid asks her why she divorced Ziegfeld if she was still in love with him. “Because I was hoping it would bring him back to me,” she wails. 

Hit me hard.  Amazing film, well worth watching.

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This post was written by Shawna on January 16, 2010

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Movie of the Day #10

He’s Just Not That Into You

No further comment.

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This post was written by Shawna on January 13, 2010

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Resume and Job Hunting

As most of you know, I was laid off from my long time employer (of 13 years) last June.  Since then, I’ve made some progress with writing, but haven’t been able to get another full time job.  At first, I was happy for the break, and as horrible a word as ‘funemployment’ was, I actually embraced that a bit, not having had a break from a day job since I graduated college.

Now I’m ready to work.

Since June I’ve picked up retail skills, helping out a friend at her store.  I’ve become pretty good at transcription, which being a fast typist has really come in handy for (as well as a patient and keen ear).  I’ve also worked as an assistant for a former showrunner who is currently writing a feature spec.  I’m continuing to assist him, but the work isn’t steady.

I don’t expect that any of you reading this will say “I have the perfect job for you, Benson! You’re hired!” but I do want to get it out into the ‘universe’ that I’m ready, willing and able to work.  I’ll go back to IT management or take a full time job in the industry.  I’ll figure out my writing, just as I always have – after hours, on weekends, early mornings and vacations.

So, I know you may not have something, but if you know of anything, and you think it might be a match for me, I’d be awfully appreciative if you could recommend me.  I’ve put my current resume here as an attachment, in case anyone feels like they want to download it and send it on my behalf.

It’s a longshot, I know.  But thank you for reading my little personal advertisement.  If any of my friends would care to post testimonials on my behalf in the comments, that would be awesome too.

Oh, and here’s my LinkedIn page.


Shawna_Benson Resume

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This post was written by Shawna on January 13, 2010

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No movie today

It’s been kind of a sucky day.  I did see an episode of ‘Breaking Bad’ and the season premiere of ‘Chuck’, but 11 days in, I’ve fallen off the wagon.

Gonna try to climb back on tomorrow.

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This post was written by Shawna on January 11, 2010


Movie of the Day #9 – Daybreakers

I didn’t think there’d be much to say about yet another vampire movie, but I was wrong.

There’s so much to enjoy about the world of this film and even more that is fascinating from a story standpoint.

…but since this film was just released, I don’t want to say too much right now, and I want to work up a longer blog post about world building.

But I enjoyed the film, more than I expected.

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This post was written by Shawna on January 10, 2010

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Movie of the Day #8 – The Proposal

Okay, I’ll admit it – I didn’t really want to see this.  I had been thinking I’d watch something a little more…weighty.

But sis pulled it out of the Netflix stack and popped it in.  I hadn’t seen a movie yet for the day.  What could I say — she was doing me a favor!

It wasn’t bad.   I liked spunky Betty White and the great chemistry between Reynolds and Bullock…

…sorry, it was good, a diversion.  Which was kind of what I needed.

Although, I will say Ryan Reynolds’ abs deserve an award.  And Sandy looks GOOD.  Day-um.

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This post was written by Shawna on January 10, 2010

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Movie of the Day #7 – Sunshine Cleaning

I’m having a difficult time deciding if I liked it.  I guess I did?  Well, I liked some of it.

I really like Amy Adams’ underwear sets.

And Steve Zahn.  Even when he isn’t being goofy.

I still don’t get the whole deal with Emily Blunt, but she seems okay.  I just don’t know why half the world raves about her.

Probably wouldn’t watch it again unless I was stuck on a plane or in a waiting room or something…

Oh, I ended up watching this because the screener of “Every Little Step” I had crapped out after 28 minutes.  Hopefully I’ll get to finish that one…

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This post was written by Shawna on January 7, 2010

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Movie of the Day #6 – The Class

Yup, another subtitled foreign film, this time from France.

The writing here is fascinating – and really, you can only appreciate what you see on screen by seeing how it was made.

Essentially, the filmmakers worked with a group of kids and workshopped some improv scenes.  They taped the workshops, and from that created the script.

The plot is a little tricky because there’s not a strong narrative through line, except to say it’s ‘a school year with this class of students in inner city Paris.’  Unlike most films about teachers and their classes, the teacher isn’t a saint and doesn’t have all the answers.  In fact he makes some significant mistakes…

Again, the human element.  There’s no major breakthrough for these kids — it isn’t “Stand and Deliver” nor is it “Stand by Me” or “Dangerous Minds.”  These are fairly normal kids, with perfectly valid questions for authority.  Sometimes they’re right, and sometimes they’re out of line and disorderly.  It’s as close as you’ll get to reality in a classroom.

It’s a hair’s breath away from documentary.  And that is interesting.

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This post was written by Shawna on January 6, 2010

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