ALWAYS THE LAST ONE ON THE BAND WAGON…
I’ve always loved that expression, but do many bands even have wagons these days? When is the last time you saw U2 riding around on a wagon? I would switch over to ‘I’m always the last one on the bus’ or ‘the last to board the plane’ but it doesn’t have the same ring to it.
The thing that I’m late I’m one of the last to do is to sing the praises of the film A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE. Val and I saw it this weekend and we were both floored—I believe me more than here—by how most excellent it was. I never read the graphic novel it was based on, but that wasn’t a necessity for enjoying it.
The movie was directed by David Cronenberg. His movies have always been hit or miss (mostly miss) with me. I enjoyed The Dead Zone, but I think that was mostly due to a striking performance by Christopher Walken (before he turned into the cool living cartoon that he is today), and The Fly had a lot going for it, but none of his other films have connected with me.
The cast of the History of Violence was aces, all the way across the board. Even the supporting and bit players were top notch. You know that these characters existed before the movie started and you have no doubt that they continue on doing what they’re do, long after the credits roll.
Even the tiny Canadian town that passes for a tiny Indiana town is a character.
But the best part of the movie, hands down, was the story. It was a beaut, and it pulled you along from start to finish. Thanks to massive budgets and the miracle of CGI, filmmakers can create whatever they want and put it up on the big screen, but without a solid story everyone is wasting their time.
I know that sounds simple, and it is, but it’s something that’s missing from a good chunk of what Hollywood pumps out every Friday. Everyone loves a good story. That’s what first attracted me to Stephen King. I don’t like horror novels, and none of his have ever particularly frightened me. But he tells a great story.
In the past I’ve been accused of candy coating my writing. D’you know when you need to candy coat? When you don’t have a strong enough story.
I was taught that the plot of the story runs from the beginning to end, like a clothesline, and it’s what you hang all your story elements on. I always like that analogy, but I wish I’d been told that your clothesline needs to be powerful and taunt, otherwise elements of your story will droop down into the mud.
I’m glad that I sat through History of Violence, but I think I would have enjoyed reading a quick paragraph summary just as well. It’s one of those movies that I walk out of and I’m glad to be a writer. The movie had succeeded at something I strive for when I sit down at the keyboard.
If you get a chance, check this movie out. Like I said, it’s got a great story, plus you get to see Maria Bello naked. I call that a win/win situation.