Thursday, 30 May 2013

Scene 59: Review of Junior

I'm back. I guess I dropped off the radar for a while there. I haven't posted for a couple of weeks now, due to a combination of work and writer's block, or rather lack of writing motivation.  However I have finally managed to return to give you a belated review on the film Junior (1994). 

Junior is a film about a scientist Alex Hesse, played by Arnold Schwarzenegger, and a fertility clinic owner Larry Arbogast, played by Danny DeVito, who have created a new drug to help pregnant women. Unfortunately, the drug does not pass the board of officials and they can't move onto the next stage of the research, testing it on humans. However, DeVito's character, determined to get the drug tested and sold to a company manages to persuade Schwarzenegger's character to be the test subject - which means making him pregnant. 

So, lets start with the good stuff, which really only is the great cast. True this isn't the best film to showcase their talents, but its enjoyable seeing them in this movie. I thought the young Emma Thompson in particular, who plays the love interest Doctor Reddin, had a charming, bubbly screen presence that was fun to watch - despite the fact that her character and been given stereotypical ditzy, clumsy traits. 

I also thought the story seemed pretty well thought out, the scientists creating the drug, and needing a test subject. That makes sense, and its believable. Well, it is to begin with...

Then we have my biggest problem with the film. It goes creates a scenario that allowed me to suspend my disbelieve and then, it completely fell down on the actual science. I know its meant to be comedy, and its not meant to be serious, but this just annoyed me so much. 

Let me explain - in the film  becomes Schwarzenegger pregnant when DeVito's character injects a fertilised egg into a cavity in his abdomen, which with their new drug and some female hormones, won't be attacked by his body. Fair enough. That could work. Some pregnancy symptoms? He's on hormones, fair enough. He decides to keep the baby and go full term. Fair enough.... wait. That doesn't work at all! 

I can believe a bunch of cells could survive in a guy for a few days, but baby? If you have been to school and even done basically biology, you know that a foetus grows in the uterus and is fed through the placenta. There is no way the cells in the character's body could have become a foetus and then a baby.  There is nothing protecting them or feeding them oxygen and nutrients. It's just impossible. 

I guess I wouldn't have minded -  if the movie hadn't been obviously trying to base this in a reality close to our own. In Rabbit Test (1978), another male pregnancy film directed by Joan Rivers, the protagonist just gets pregnant. No explanation at all. But in the world of that film, which is like several bad stand up jokes and comedic characters linked together, it doesn't matter - this is a world of living jokes, and therefore its sort of logically! That film isn't trying to stick to reality, Junior is trying to give some scientific reason for the premise.

What annoys me furtehr is that the film does use medically jargon to explain things, so the writer must have done some research. They just forgot the whacking great fact that a uterus is kind of essential to having a child - or maybe they just ignored it. 

So that's what pretty much killed my ability to watch the film. I could not take it seriously after that. Even though it was pretty silly to begin with at least it seemed somewhat believable - now it just isn't. 

On top of that it also contains the use of a device that I have decided, once and for all, that I really don't like - when a movie decides to superimpose the face of an actor, usually male, on a baby. I have seen three versions of this scene in Junior, in a clip of Son of the Mask (2005) and in I Heart Huckabees (2004) - and its never funny. 

Seriously comedy filmmakers, I beg of you, stop using this technique. It just looks creepy and wrong! It is so bad that when I was sorting out my DVD collection, the main reason I decided to ditch I Heart Huckabees was because I couldn't bear to see the scene where the Jude Law baby suckles Jason Schwartzman. And yes, you read that right. Ugh. 

So in summary, Junior has a good cast, but generally looks mediocre, isn't terribly funny and the whole premises is rather undermined by its ignorance, or ignoring, basic human biology. Oh yeah, and the last act features a lot of Arnie in pink drag, which is just horribly awkward, and again not funny. 

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Scene 58: Script Scene Teaser Page

I said I'd post up a script each week, so here is last week's. It's not a lot, I know, but this is a  teaser from my newest short film script, which is still in development. Enjoy, and please comment below!


A small metal room with an office space in one corner and in another a bench with several computers and wires.

Sat at the desk is DR IAN EDYSON, a frowning man in his late thirties dressed in a futuristic shortened lab coat with an ID card built into the sleeve.

Opposite him, also in a lab coat, is DR EMMA COOPER, a nervous girl in her late twenties.

You've only been here two months.

I know. And I'm sorry. But, I can't... I don't think this is the job for me.

Why not? Your work is impeccable.  Your contribution is valuable. You've impressed a lot of people. Everyone's pleased with you. What's the problem?

It's not that side of the work that's the problem...

Oh, okay, so what your saying that this is a personal matter?

Sort of...

Okay, because that's not my area. I only involve myself in my teams personal matters if it impacts the work. So unless your pregnant or something...

No. No. It''s...

A siren goes off.

Ah crap.

Two soldiers come into the room.

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Scene 57: Review of Annie Hall

I have been collecting a bunch of 'rom-com' DVDs recently and last week, whilst I was on holiday, I spent an evening watching two of them - Made of Honour (2008) and Annie Hall (1977). Now I'm going to review Made of Honour and another rom-com later next week, but today I thought I'd concentrate on Annie Hall. 

Annie Hall was a revelation. I hadn't expect it to be.  Why should it? It's been around for years, its not new. Its Woody Allen, a classic. The film's style was even recently was parodied in an episode of The Simpsons called Love is A Many Splintered Thing

And yet...  Annie Hall was new, it was different, it was refreshing!

My surprise was probably partly down to my assumption that it would follow the normal rom-com pattern, that it would be conventional. After all, this is only my second taste of Woody Allen's style after Midnight in Paris (2011) - which is meant to be his most accessible film. 

So, of course I was somewhat confused at the fact that we had this jumping and switching as Woody Allen's character Alvy narrated and explained some of his past and talked about his previous wives. However I began to realise then, and in retrospect, that the film was being told in a stream of conscious like style, at least in my opinion. To me the whole film is Alvy's memories as he tells us the audience, about Annie and about himself. It's like a novel, a Virginia Woolf one, but less linear. 

This is one of the many reasons its so unusual compared to most romances or even most movies, which follow the good old beginning, middle and end - with perhaps the odd one playing the 'tease the ending' trick and then telling the whole film in flashback, for example Bradley Cooper on the edge of a balcony at the beginning of Limitless. 

Diane Keaton is not only beautiful in her bohemian outfits - that tie, waistcoat and hat combination which is probably a classic image now - but also a very real person. In fact both Alvy and Annie are wonderfully written characters, though of course Alvy has that nervous, intelligent and slightly neurotic quality that I guess is typical of his leading characters. 

I guess in the end the thing that I found most refreshing about, because I keep saying it, is how real and grounded it feels compared to other rom-coms I have personally watched. It's not just the story or the characters though, its the way it looks too. There is definitely a hint of the quirky in the film, especially from Annie, but otherwise the places and the people look and seem mundane. 

Perhaps it's because of the era it was shot in and the cameras that were used, but the slightly dull look to the film also gives this impression that this is reality - despite the fact its Alvy's memories. Modern Hollywood films do tend to have what I call a 'glossy' look, where the clothes are all stylish and the houses all look tidy, and clean, and well decorated. This sort of gloss, in the extreme, was summed up in what Danny Leigh once said about This is 40 (2012), when he pointed out that the house seemed unnaturally clean all the time and yet this was a family home, with kids in the house. 

In Annie Hall, the houses look nice, but they also look like homes - in one scene Alvy almost knocks over some washing up stacked in the drying rack, and I distinctly remember a bare light bulb in Annie's apartment reflecting the old white walls. 

I could go into more, but I feel like I need to re-watch the film, and that I need to watch more films to confirm that my theories on this films originality are right - I am an amateur reviewer after! 

Also, I'd like to recommended that you just watch this film yourself, because for me its the sort of film that you just need to discover for yourself. Because its made quite an impact on me, at least I think it has, as after I the film finished I started writing a Woody Allen style monologue! 

Anyway, I'll be posting up my scripted scene of the week in a separate post, so look out for that. If you have any opinions on Annie Hall or Woody Allen's work, please comment below.  

Monday, 6 May 2013

Scene 56: Script Scene and Cornwall

So a little behind on my blog. I am on holiday though, so I think that's fair. I'm staying in beautiful Cornwall, which was the setting for Hitchcock's Jamaica Inn (1939) based on the book of the same name by Daphne Du Marier - I didn't manage to finish watching or reading those, just didn't get into them. 

I wondered what other films have been set or filmed in Cornwall? It's such a lovely piece of coast, surely other films would have been shot here? 

And of course, I am right, there's quite a lot of shows and films who have used the county, including Johnny English and Doctor Who as a location, and as a setting. In fact the more classic Hitchcock film, also based on a Daphne Du Marier book,  Rebecca (1940) is set in Cornwall, though the filming was actually all done in California studios. It's a great film, wonderfully shot and starring Laurence Olivier and Joan Fontaine - its well worth a watch!

Anyway, I disgress somewhat. My intent was to post up a fragment of script I wrote recently, as promised for my new scene a week challenge. Admittedly the scene is not complete, but this is because I was unsure whether or not I wanted to turn the original idea into a short film or a short story. I might yet do both, but in short story form it seems to be working much better. Either way, here is that piece of script, if you have anything opinions on it, please write in comments box below!



A strip light lit medical room. One tray of instruments and a monitor stand in one corner.

In the middle of the room, laid on a metal bed is BRADDOCK, 37, in loose clothes. Straps hold him down.

A doctor in surgical gear, and with a tazar on her belt is loosening the straps.

There's no change.

In me or the lawsuit.

In you. As for the lawsuit...

There's a pause.

You're losing.

Braddock's face clouds over and he glares at the doctor.

I'm losing.

Don't look at me. (beat) You'll have to stay here for the moment. I'll get lunch sent to you.

The doctor finishes loosening the straps and Braddock sits up.


The doctor exits. The steel door hisses closes and bleeps shut behind her.


Kelly, a timid looking girl in flat pumps wheels a metal trolley of sandwiches, drinks and snacks down the corridor.

She stops by the door to the cell. She puts an ID card in a slot by the door, it clicks open. She goes in, and it shuts.


She is standing by the trolley. Braddock is on the metal bed.


No cakes?

No. Sorry. (beat) How are you?

She goes over, smiling, sympathetic.

(macabre grin)
The same. The idiots still don't know how to fix it.

Isn't that bad?

Ha. (beat) So, what is there? If its only tuna sandwiches with mayo left I'm going to puke.

Well you're in a grump aren't you.

He gives her a sharp, sarcastic look.


No. I kept back a ham and salad one for you.

(small proper, smile)
Good girl.