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The House Bunny (#110 of 2)

Understanding Screenwriting #3: Transsiberian, The House Bunny, Tropic Thunder, & More

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Understanding Screenwriting #3: <em>Transsiberian</em>, <em>The House Bunny</em>, <em>Tropic Thunder</em>, & More
Understanding Screenwriting #3: <em>Transsiberian</em>, <em>The House Bunny</em>, <em>Tropic Thunder</em>, & More

Coming Up In This Column: Transsiberian; The House Bunny; Tropic Thunder; Silent to Sound; Transformers; In Plain Sight; Mad Men, but first:

Mailbag: Well, I certainly seem to have ticked off the graphic novel crowd, haven’t I? As “futurefree” and “JJ” noted, I was careful to doubly qualify my comments, and I did that because I was aware there have been some fairly good films made from graphic novels. One that some readers mentioned was From Hell, and one that I am surprised nobody mentioned was A History of Violence, which was terrific until it went a little funny in the head in the last third.

My point, that several readers such as “futurefree” and “Ed Howard” picked up on, is that the form does not necessarily lend itself to complex characters. It is not just a question of panels, but that the images are static, so you do not get the nuances you do in actors’ performances in films.

I have been meaning to admit since US#1 my dirty little secret, which is that I am not a fanboy. As a kid in the ’40s and early ’50s I read comic books, but as I hit adolescence I gave them up, with of course the obvious exception of Mad Magazine; some things are sacred. I never got back into comics or later graphic novels, and the older I get, the less interest in mythical kingdoms I have. I can certainly understand people, particularly in the last seven years, who much prefer to live in mythical kingdoms rather than the real world. But I just find the jumps in logic one has to make a little much. At the risk of driving off all my readers, I have to admit that I have seen only the first Lord of the Rings movie and not the other two. I have not seen any of the Harry Potter films, and only the first Matrix, which struck me as one of the stupidest movies of all time. I avoided Batman Begins (I am a little too old for yet another version of the origin story) and The Dark Knight (even though a friend whose judgement I trust said I had to see it because it was “as if Kubrick had directed The French Connection”). I do try to see one comic book/graphic novel movie a year and this year it was Iron Man. I kept wanting to see a) the outtakes of Downey Jr. and his stunt man trying to move in that outfit, and b) that cast (Downey Jr., Bridges, and Paltrow) in a real movie.

John McCain: The Real House Bunny

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John McCain: The Real House Bunny
John McCain: The Real House Bunny

In a rational world, John McCain’s bid for the White House would have come crashing down this week like the housing market. When the presumptive Republican nominee was asked by a reporter on Wednesday how many houses he and his wife Cindy own, he answered: “I think, uh, I’ll have my staff get to ya,” after which he babbled something in his usual, endearingly conversational tone about condominiums—you know, those quaint little things with price tags that often run into the millions but apparently don’t really count as actual “houses.” McCain is liable to defer to his staff when asked about anything that can’t be answered with the words “victory,” “terrorists” or “my friends.” Politico.com claims the McCains own at least eight properties (the Barack Obama camp is slightly more conservative, citing seven in their new ad), but the number of houses/condominiums/properties/outhouses McCain (or his family) owns is the least of his problems. His lack of awareness of their existence and/or his reluctance to disclose the truth coupled with the timing of the gaffe—in the midst of a brutal mortgage crisis that has put three-quarters of a million homeowners in foreclosure in the second quarter of 2008 alone—is more troubling.

No one—not McCain, not Obama, not John Kerry—should be faulted for making good or marrying into it, but McCain’s accusations that Obama is an “elitist” and “out of touch” point to an indefensible hypocrisy that, in turn, points to a flaw in both character and, more essentially, Republican campaign tactics. The question has been posed before but it bears repeating: How have Republicans managed to convince the working class, whose interests lie with Democrats on a majority of vital issues that affect them daily, to vote for them in election cycle after election cycle? By trumpeting wedge and values issues, for sure—the ones Obama duly identified when he spoke about Americans clinging to guns and religion (read, once and for all, damn it: voting on issues like guns and religion because they believe neither party can truly make a difference when it comes to their realization of the American Dream)—but also by effectively, ruthlessly and cunningly defining Democrats as too “liberal,” “elite” and “out of touch.”