Most writers I know are fans of the movies. And I think all of us writers learn a lot from the way movies are written. Modern popular novels are often praised with the term “cinematic,” because of their scene construction and narrative arc, the way their plots are self-propelling, and their realistic yet clever dialogue.
In recent weeks I’ve seen two beautiful movies that are “cinematic” in these ways, and that also happen to celebrate the power and pleasure of motion pictures. They both pay great homage to the early days of the movie business, though they focus on different times and places.
These two 2011 movies are “The Artist” and “Hugo.” I won’t describe them or critique them, because better reviewers than I have already raved in print. But if you haven’t seen these two gems, I strongly urge you to do so, especially if you’re a writer. If one of these two doesn’t win Best Picture, I’ll be sorely disappointed, and it’s a shame they can’t give away two Oscars this year, because they each deserve one.
As I am so wrapped up in film at the moment, I’m going to give you a few 55-word stories about the flicks.
Welcome to Kansas
Whatever Judy was on blew her mind away. She tripped higher and higher, her head spinning, her brain a rainbow.
When she finally came down, she found herself in a cornfield. The world was black and white.
“I’ve a feeling we’re not in Hollywood anymore, Toto,” she sighed. “Wonder what they fed me this time?”
From Here to Eternity
“Looks bad, Frank,” Saint Peter said. “Booze, broads, brawls...”
Frank shrugged. “I did it my way.”
“You belong downstairs with the hookers and gangsters.”
“But the Boss likes your singing,” Pete continued. “Put on this white robe. From now on you’re singing in the choir.”
“Like hell!” Frank thundered.
Pete smiled back. “Bingo.”
“Arthur, will you take this woman…”
Are you kidding? This calendar girl? Those world-famous bazooms? Move over Jack Kennedy, Frank Sinatra, Joe Dimaggio…
“Marilyn, will you take this man…”
Well duh. This guy wrote “Death of a Whatchamacallit,” right? We’re talking serious brains here.
“Then I pronounce you…”
Where They Get Summer Movies
The contest rules were broadcast all over the infinite universe. In galaxies everywhere, an infinite number of monkeys sat down to an infinite number of typewriters and began writing. They eventually wrote the world’s shortest stories of all time.
But they missed the deadline.
So they sold their stories to Hollywood instead.