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Monday, March 1, 2010

MORE RIGORS OF MOVIE-MAKING: METHOD IN THE MADNESS

NOTE: Barbara's unfailing response to bad movies or TV shows figured in this DBD exchange. She was still working as an extra in films being made in Detroit.


--Hi. You’re late.
--I told you I would be.
--Now, this one’s called Vanishing or something.
--Vanishing on Seventh Street.It’s a thriller-slash-horror movie.
--How did it go?
--Lots of dithering. They didn’t seem as well organized as the people making Crave.They had this huge tent set up next to a multiplex theater. The theater was one of the sets. We were just milling around, not knowing anything.
--You said they were filming in the mall.
--But first in the multiplex.
--I can see you typecast for a role in a movie theatre.
--OK, now—
--One take is all they’d need. All they have to do is give you about five minutes. It’s the perfect role for you as an extra.
--They’d call it a sleeping role.
--See? It could be big for you. Huge. The phone would be ringing off the hook. "We need you for a sleeping role at a barbecue. Then we need you to sleep with your mouth open in a church. It’s a wedding scene, we can’t do it without you. Please, Barb, you won’t be sorry, we won’t forget this.”
--I’ll tell them I’ll agree to do it, but only if the director calls. I’m not sleeping in a movie, just because some flunky asks me to.
--Of course, you have standards, this is serious. Scorsese, De Palma. I think De Palma does this film. You sleep through a mob wedding, where the whole wedding party is hosed by assassins. But you never wake up. It will be powerful, I can tell you that.
--And the baby carriage scene in the train station, from The Untouchables. That’s a De Palma film. It should be in there.
--It will be. Directors quote from their own work all the time.
--I see…. I see the baby carriage, but this time it’s being pushed by the mom in front of the church where the mob wedding is taking place.
--Not rolling down the steps?
--No no. This time, the mom is just passing with the carriage when the assassins pull up.
--OK.
--One of the assassins looks in at the baby and smiles. He gives the mom a twenty and asks if she’ll wait in front of the church for just a couple minutes.
--She’s poor, she needs the money for formula.
--For formula, and disposable diapers. So she says yes, and the assassin pats the baby’s blanket. This is a very effective moment, a killer smiling down at a newborn.
--I like it. And you’re already asleep inside the church, surrounded by wedding guests.
--I am. There’s already been a couple shots of me. My head is back, mouth open.
--This could be huge for you, Barb.
--Head back and sleeping when they come in and brandish their weapons. But the lead killer, the one who gave the mom a twenty, he sees me sleeping. And before anyone can say anything or scream, this killer points to me sleeping. He puts a gloved finger to his lips so everyone knows to keep silent.
--Perfect.
--Then he walks up the aisle. The wedding couple have their backs to him.
--Of course. Did they write their own vows?
--Certainly not, this isn’t some New Age wedding. This is Italian mafia.
--My mistake.
--And I was wrong the first time. The assassin doesn’t hose everyone in the wedding party. And the priest has real thick Coke bottle glasses. De Palma’s done an establishing shot with him, too. Showing him having trouble reading the marriage ceremony or something, because of the glasses.
--Which is why he can’t see the assassin coming up the aisle.
--He can’t, he’s blind to everything farther away than three feet. He’s the brother or something, of either the bride or groom.
--Is the bride killed, too?
--Not in this film. She lives to take over the business. She’s tough. A survivor like Michael Corleone.
--Aah. So the killer shoots the groom.
--Shoots the groom, hit-man style behind the ear. Using a silencer, with everyone silent including the mother of the groom. De Palma has her faint so she won’t break the silence and wake me in my sleeping role.
--Perfect. Brilliant.
--And when the assassins leave and hurry down the cathedral stairs, the woman with the baby carriage is still there.
--She hasn’t heard a thing.
--There was nothing to hear. As the assassin hurries down, he gets out another twenty, and a piece of paper. There’s a phone number written on the paper. When he reaches the woman, he gives her the second twenty and the paper, and asks her to call the number.
--To establish suspense for later scenes, wonderful. What’s he tell her to say?
--How would I know? I’m still asleep inside the church.
--Got it, the camera’s back on you. With your mouth still open.
--No, it isn’t. Now, my mouth is closed. I’m still asleep, but my head is bowed and I’m frowning. Something has troubled my unconscious mind. This gives more weight to the scene, don’t you think?
--I don’t know what to say. This could be bigger for you than your role as a gawker. You could become the go-to person for any scene involving a sleeper. It’s a whole new genre, don’t you see? The sleeping presence, the human conscience that remains unconscious in moments of disaster.
--Well—
--No, honey, you have a gift. It’s spooky.

6 comments:

  1. You have a gift, too, Barry. It's spooky.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thank you, but not really. I'm just another obscure novelist walking what's left of his wits.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Oh, this is priceless! You're correct...this could be a whole new genre in film making.

    You snoring...I'm thinking maybe a slumbering version of "Where's Waldo"...

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hi!

    You two should produce that movie. I'd buy a ticket to see it. The juxtaposition of the baby and the assassin - good and evil, innocent and iniquitous - is an attention grabber if only for a few scenes. Fade in.

    I saw "Just Bill and the Mister". I am composing this note because it is my "God given right" to send a letter to the editor.

    Thank you very much for the lovely notes left on my blogs. I'm glad I found you two.

    I'll be back.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Barry,

    Listen to Nance. Reading this was the best three minutes of my day. Thank you.

    And please email me when it comes out, 'cause I miss 99% of the new releases.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Kathryn: thank you for your comment. Actually, I think Andy Warhol exhausted (sorry) the genre: he made an eight-hour film of a man sleeping.

    Diana: Moe definitely comes alive in your work. However interesting he is in himself, this wouldn't happen without solid writing from you. Get it right often enough, and I bet you have a book.

    Jack-of-all-thumbs: thanks for commenting. It seems to me you are taking very good care of your little piece of the planet. As for Drinks Before Dinner, I am trying to post to it on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. My other blog (WordPress), http://justbillandthemister.com has been neglected of late, but I hope to soon be able to post more often there as well. You might like some of the archived pieces.

    ReplyDelete

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