Tag Archives: film

Movie Pitch Poetry: Clowning Around

In this big budget action flick,
Jason Statham stars as
Pagliacci, a curmudgeonly
clown whose circus is
being secretly bankrolled
by the Yakuza. But after
several missed payments,
the ringmaster is in danger of
losing the circus as well as his life.

Well, Pagliacci the Curmudgeonly
Clown ain’t standing for that shit.
He ain’t standin’ for none of that.
This circus is his home, you know?
So when the Yakuza sends their
best soldiers to claim the money
by force, Pagliacci gathers up
the troupes and fights back.

You think he’s got a big nose?
Wait ’til you see his bazooka.
(we’ll come up with a cool
line for that in the trailer)

Oh, and of course, there is an
illicit romance between
Pagliacci and the bearded
woman; she is cold, distant,
ashamed of being a freak,
and does not think that
any man can truly love her.
But Pagliacci does.

(The bearded woman is
played by Megan Fox)

But wait! Oh no! The
circus troupe militia
is betrayed by one of
their own! The lion
tamer has been in league
with the Yakuza all along,
feeding them information
about this rebellion! And
now he’s taken Bearded
Megan Fox hostage! Jason
Statham the Clown falls
for his trap when he goes
to rescue her in the center
ring, and after a brief
skirmish, he knocks the
lion tamer back, and he
gets eaten by his own lion,
in a bloody, satisfying twist
of irony. But that’s not all!

The Yakuza leader played by
Ken Jeong (who is of course
also a classically trained
trapeze artist) arrives at
the Big Top to take matters
into his own hands. In the final
showdown, Clown Jason
Statham loads himself into
the cannon. He looks straight
into the camera and says,
“The show must go on,
mother fucker,” or something
equally quotable and
nihilistic before launching
himself into the air in a spiral
with two pistols blazing and it
will be totally sweet. Trust me.

Then, in the final confrontation,
Pagliacci faces down with the
Yakuza leader in a swordfight
on the tightrope, high above
the ground. He draws his own
sword from out of the mouth
of the sword swallower, who
will be like a human sheath,
because that’d be awesome.

And then maybe Pagliacci will
actually end up dying at the hands
of the Yakuza leader, but he decides
that it’s all too much work, and he
turns ownership of the circus back
over to the performers, who will
re-name the circus at the end of
the film in honor of Jason Statham.

I mean Pagliacci. Whatever. We’ll
figure that part out in post.

They Shoot Film Philistines, Don’t They?

One of my friends out here in L.A. has a fascinating (to me, anyway) character trait: through various machinations in her life, she has almost no grasp of popular cinema from 1979 to 1999. Apart from Indiana Jones and Lord Of The Rings, it’s just a black hole of pop-culture arcana, where half-understood details and overheard recollections fill in the areas where most of us have indelible memories.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with this, of course — no one is required to have known or seen certain things to exist comfortably in life.* Still, it’s very strange to talk with someone highly intelligent who has a firm grasp on the history and current events of the past 30-ish years, but who has no ability to converse in the shorthand language that my friends and I use all the time.

My hope in the future is to try to launch a project that traces the progress of this pop-culture Mowgli through her cinematic wilderness. As a preview, here is a compilation of some film syonpses that she has recently shared during normal conversation:

The Shining

“It’s Jack Nicholson. He’s in a hotel, and he’s a writer. There are a couple of little girls, and a room floods. Then he starts to go hysterical.”

Back To The Future

“He goes back in time in a car on fire.”

Animal House

“That’s a college one. It’s sort of like Old School. I think it stars the brother of that guy from that awful lawyer show on TV, doesn’t it?”

Return Of The Jedi

“I’ve seen that! Luke tells Leia she’s his sister, and she remembers her real mother. And there’s an old guy at the end, but they replaced him with the young one from the new movies. Umm…I might need to watch it again, actually.”

Friday The 13th series

“I don’t know what that is.” [That’s the series with Jason.] “Who’s Jason?” [He’s the killer who wears a hockey mask.] “Oh.” *long pause* [Do you know what a hockey mask looks like?] “No.”

Dr. Strangelove, or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Bomb

“There’s a guy who rides a missile. Right?”

*I say this, but I don’t really mean it. It’s so very, very wrong.

Redaguerrotyping

She had tattoos of photographs. It was the first thing I noticed. And they weren’t Polaroids either. But her body art was framed like pictures, mostly in landscape, collage’d across her calf like a scrapbook. Frozen slivers of light and time, divided by the rule of thirds. You could tell that whoever took the originals knew a thing or two about composition. Or was it the artist who arranged the images in just that way? I thought perhaps that they were photographs that she had taken as a child with a cardboard Kodak camera. The pictures came out sloppy, clumsy, but the memories were true. In this way they were immortalized with the Lichtensteinian precision of a needle by a steady hand. These instants that once left their scars within her, now scarred her from without. Sure, the details of the moments may have changed as she looked back at them, but they were frozen now the way she knew them, the way she wanted them to be. If the pictures changed in the translation from celluloid to ink, did the moments change, too? Did her memories, or more, like a butterfly in time? Did the essence, or the purpose of the pictures change? Once they were honest and real, specific instants of light, captured and kept and then brought back to life in a chemical bath. Now in this new medium, they had become something else entirely. Did the tattoo artist play the role of translator, or adaptor? Both rely heavily on interpretation — it becomes his perception of her moments, of her memories. Of her life. The back of her leg had become a strip of film, unrolled and exposed, and I couldn’t help but wonder where the negatives were, and what they looked like in their sepia tinge. I tried to read their story the way that I read comics, a sequential narrative postulated in the panels, but she walked away too quickly and so the page was turned. I finished my lunch and went back to work.