Die Hard script excerpt (reworked with women)

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DIE HARD (by Roderick Thorp (novel “Nothing Lasts Forever), Jeb Stuart and Steven E. de Souza (screenplay)) reworked with women by Jacqueline Valencia

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HELGA I told all of you…I want radio silence until further —

INTERCUT:  169-A   JANE MCCLANE – 34th FLOOR – BOARD ROOM

She’s got a CB on the table and ON, and her cop’s notebook is  out again.  She’s already upgraded the NUMBER OF TERRORISTS?   to “12 (?) minus 3 = 9” and added other information.  As she speaks she takes ammo clips the dead women dropped, their sidearms, etc.                                  

 

JANE MCCLANE Gee, I’m sorry, HELGA, nobody gave me the message. You shoulda put it on the bulletin board. Anyway, I thought you and Francis and Sonia and the other girls might be lonely, now that I waxed Tanya and Olga and their buddy. So I invited some of the girls from my card game.

In the office, the terrorists REACT, startled, as JANE MCCLANE name-drops.

FRANCIS How…how does she know so much  about —

HELGA (waving for silence) Ah, how nice of you to call.  I assume you are our mysterious party crasher. You are most troublesome for a…security guard?

170     INT. 34th FLOOR – ON JANE MCCLANE – INTERCUT

Moving down the corridor.  Now armed with Olga’s machine gun and carrying Heinrich’s kit bag, she seems more lethal.

JANE MCCLANE (into CB) BZZZ! Sorry, HELGA, wrong guess. Would you like to go for Double Jeopardy, where the stakes are double and the scores really change? She rolls Heinrich over and is delighted to find a pack of Gauloise’s in the woman’s pocket. She takes them, pats the woman’s face.                                  

 

JANE MCCLANE (sotto, to the body) Bad for your health anyway.

HELGA Who are you, then?                                  

 

JANE MCCLANE Just the fly in the ointment, HELGA.  The monkey in the wrench, the pain in the ass –

JANE MCCLANE STOPS in mid-speech. She’s just opened the kit bag Heinrich had over her shoulder when she died. Now JANE MCCLANE takes out the contents…dozens and dozens of EXPLOSIVE DETONATORS marked “DANGER” and a CHUNK of cello-wrapped  PLASTIQUE the size of an electric razor.  She WHISTLES in surprise to herself.

In the office, HELGA turns off her mike for a moment, turns to Sonia.

HELGA Check on all the others…don’t use the radio.  See if she’s lying about Olga  and find out if anyone else is missing. She moves.

HELGA goes back onto the CB.

Meanwhile, JANE MCCLANE SMILES at the tell-tale STATIC as HELGA goes off and on. She knows what’s happening.  Now, she starts to walk down a corridor, eyes PANNING FROM elevator to the stairwell doors.

HELGA  Mystery Guest.  Are you still there?                                  

 

JANE MCCLANE I wouldn’t think of leaving, HELGA. Unless you want to open the front door…?                                  

 

HELGA I’m afraid not.  But you have me at a loss — you know my name, but who are you?

JANE MCCLANE (scornfully) Just another American who saw too many movies as a child.  Another orphan of a bankrupt culture who thinks she’s Ellen Ripley…Wonder Woman….Sarah Connor

JANE MCCLANE Actually, I was always partial to Matrix’s Trinity.  I really dug her boots. Like a punk cowgirl.

HELGA Do you really think you have a chance against us, cowgirl?  A LIGHT blinks on the elevator.   

 

JANE MCCLANE (long pause) Yipee-yi-yea…mother-fucker.

JANE MCCLANE goes quietly through the stairwell door and is gone  by the time the search party steps onto this floor.

HELGA sits quietly…thinking.

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A Scene from Reservoir Dogs by Quentin Tarantino reworked with women

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A Scene from Reservoir Dogs by Quentin Tarantino reworked with women by Jacqueline Valencia

 

 

(INT. UNCLE BOB’S PANCAKE HOUSE – MORNING

Eight women dressed in BLACK SUITS, sit around a table at a breakfast cafe. They are MISS WHITE, MISS PINK, MISS BLUE, MISS BLONDE, MISS ORANGE, MISS BROWN, NICE GAL EMMA CABOT, and the big boss, JANE CABOT. Most are finished eating and are enjoying coffee and conversation. JANE flips through a small address book. MISS Brown is telling a long and involved story about Madonna.)

MISS BROWN
Let me tell you what Like a Virgin’s about. It’s all about a girl who digs a guy with a big dick. The entire song– it’s a metaphor for big dicks.

MISS BLUE
No, it ain’t. It’s about a girl who’s very vulnerable. She’s been fucked over a few times and then she meets a guy who’s very sensitive.

MISS BROWN
Whoa! whoa…time out Greenbay. Tell that fucking bullshit to the tourists.

JANE
Toby? Who the fuck is Toby?

MISS BROWN
Like a Virgin’s not about some sensitive girl who meets a nice fella. That’s what True Blue’s about. Granted, no argument about that.

MISS ORANGE
Which one’s true Blue?

NICE GAL EMMA
You ain’t heard True Blue? It was a big ass hit for Madonna. I don’t even follow that Tops of the Pops shit, and even I’ve heard of True Blue.

MISS ORANGE
Yeah, so – I ain’t saying I ain’t heard of it. You know; all I asked is how’s it go. Excuse me for not being the world’s biggest Madonna fan.

MISS BLONDE
Personally, I can do without her.

MISS BLUE
I used to like her early stuff– Borderline. When she got all into that Papa Don’t Preach phase, I tuned out.

MISS BROWN
You gals are like making me lose my train of thought here. I was saying something. What was it?

JANE
Oh, Toby’s that little Chinese girl. What was her last name?

MISS WHITE
What’s that?

JANE
It’s an old address book I found in a coat I haven’t worn in a coon’s age. What was that name?

MISS BROWN
What the fuck was I talking about?

MISS PINK
You said True Blue was about a sensitive girl who meets a nice guy, but Like a Virgin was a metaphor for big dicks.

MISS BROWN
Ok. Let me tell you what Like a Virgin’s about. It’s all about this slut who’s a regular fuck machine. I’m talking morning, day, night, afternoon– dick, dick, dick, dick, dick, dick, dick, dick, dick.

MISS BLUE
How many dicks is that?

MISS WHITE
*stonefaced* A lot dicks.

MISS BROWN
Then one day she meets this John Holmes motherfucker, and it’s like, whoa, baby. This cat is like Charles Bronson in the great escape. He’s digging tunnels. She’s getting this serious dick action and it fucking hurts.

JANE
Chu? Toby Chu?

MISS BROWN
It hurts. It shouldn’t hurt. She should be bubbleyum by now, but when this guy fucks her, it hurts. It hurts just like it did the first time. You know. Been there. Done that. You see, the pain is reminding this girl what it was like to be a virgin. Hence: Like a Virgin.

JANE
Wong.

MISS WHITE
Give me that fucking thing.

JANE
What the hell do you think you’re doing? Give me my book back.

MISS WHITE
I’m sick of fucking hearing it, JANE. I’ll give it back to you when we leave.

JANE
What do you mean when we leave? Give me it back now.

MISS WHITE
For the past 15 minutes now, you’ve been droning on about names. Toby… Toby… Toby… Toby Wong… Toby Wong… Toby Wong… Toby Chung… Fucking Charlie Chan. I’ve got Madonna’s big dick guy coming out of my left ear and Toby the Jap I-don’t-know-what, coming out of my right.

JANE
Give me that book.

MISS WHITE
Are you going to put it away?

JANE
I’m going to do whatever the fuck I want with it.

MISS WHITE
Well, then, I’m afraid I’m gonna have to keep it.

MISS BLONDE
Hey, JANE, want me to shoot this bitch?

MISS WHITE
Shit. You shoot me in a dream, you better wake up and apologize.

(They laugh.)

EMMA
You gals been listening to K-Billy’s Super Sounds of the Seventies weekend?

MISS PINK
Oh, yeah, man, that’s fucking great isn’t it?

EMMA
Can you believe the songs they been playing?

MISS PINK
You know what I heard the other day? Heartbeat (It’s a Love Beat) by Little Tony deFranco and the deFranco family. Lord I haven’t heard that since I was in fifth fuckin’ grade.

EMMA
When I was coming down here, The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia came on. I ain’t heard that song since it was big. When it was big, I must of heard it a million trillion fucking times. This is the first time I ever realized the girl singing the song is the one who shot Andy. Man we old.

MISS BROWN
What? You mean you didn’t know Vicki Lawrence was the one who shot Andy?

EMMA
I thought the cheating wife shot Andy.

MISS ORANGE
They say that at the end of the song.

EMMA
I know, bitch! I just heard it! That’s what I’m talking about!

(They laugh.)

I must have zoned out during that part before.

JANE
All right. I’ll take care of the check. You gals can get the tip. Should be about a buck apiece. And you, when I come back, I want my book.

MISS WHITE
Sorry. It’s my book now.

JANE
Hey, I changed my mind. Shoot this bitch, will you?

(They laugh.)

EMMA
All right. Everybody cough up some green.

Come on. Throw in a buck.

MISS PINK
Uh-uh. I don’t tip.

EMMA
You don’t tip?

MISS PINK
No – I don’t believe in it.

EMMA
You don’t believe in tipping?

MISS BLUE
You know what these girls make? They make shit. I should know.

MISS PINK
Don’t give me that. She don’t make enough money, she can quit.

(MISS Blonde laughs.)

EMMA
You got a lot of fucking nerve. Let me just get this straight. You don’t ever tip, huh?

MISS PINK
I don’t tip because society says I have to. Alright, I mean I’ll tip if somebody really deserves a tip, if they really put forth the effort, I’ll give ’em something extra, but I mean this tipping automatically is bullshit.

(EMMA laughs.)

I mean as far as I’m concerned they’re just doing their job.

MISS BLUE
Hey, this girl was nice.

MISS PINK
She was OK – but she wasn’t anything special.

MISS BLUE
What’s special, give you a mani and a fucking pedi?

(They laugh.)

EMMA
I’d go over 12% for that.

MISS PINK
Hey Look, I ordered coffee, right? Now we’ve been here a long fuckin time, and she’s only filled my cup three times. When I order coffee, I want it filled six times

MISS BLONDE
Six times? Well, you know, what if she’s too fucking busy?

MISS PINK
Words “too fucking busy” shouldn’t be in a waitress’ vocabulary.

EMMA
Excuse me, MISS Pink – the last fucking thing you need’s another cup of coffee.

A scene from Taxi Driver reworked with a woman

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Taxi Driver script by Paul Schrader (reworked with a woman by Jacqueline Valencia)

A SHORT WHILE LATER, TRACY is walking down the sidewalk near the taxi garage. Her hands are in her jacket pockets, obscuring the slight bulge on her left side.

TRACY turns into the box offfice of PORNO THEATER. She reaches into jacket pocket for money to purchase ticket and pulls out crumpled $20 bill. Seeing the $20 bill, she decides not to use it, and pays for ticket out of her wallet instead.

TRACY walks past concession stand en route to the darkened theater auditorium. A YOUNG MAN is now sitting listlessly behind the concessions counter, a look of surprise on his face.

INT. PORNO THEATER AUDITORIUM

TRACY slouches down into her seat, her face glowing in the reflected light from the screen.

FEMALE MOVIE VOICE (O.S.)

Oh, come on, now, down, lick it,

come on…

(a beat)

Mmm, that’s good. Ahh, ahh, more …

TRACY averts her eyes as the action on screen becomes too graphic. Placing her stiffened right hand beside her eyes, TRACY can, by turning it inward, shut off or open up her field of vision by small degrees.

MOVIE VOICE DIMINISHES, replaced by SOUND of TRACY’S voice over.

TRACY (V.O.)

The idea had been growing in my

brain …

CUT TO:

TRACKING SHOT to wall of TRACY’S APARTMENT. CAMERA MOVES slowly across wall covered with clippings, notes, maps, pictures. We now see their contents clearly:

The wall is covered with CHARLES PALANTINE political paraphernalia; there are pictures of him, newspaper articles, leaflets, bumper stickers. As the CAMERA MOVES along it discovers a sketch of Plaza Hotel, Kennedy Airport and cut- up sections of city maps with notations written in. There
 is lengthy N.Y. Times clipping detailing the increased
 Secret Security Protection during the primaries. A section pertaining to PALANTINE is underlined. Further along there is a sheet reading “traveling schedule” and a calendar for June with finely written notations written over the dates.

TRACY (V.O.) (CONTD)

… for some time.  True Force.

All the king’s men cannot put it

back together again.

As the CAMERA reaches the end of its track, it finds TRACY, standing in just an open blouse, bra, and pants. She is wearing the empty holster, and the .44 looks too big in her small hands.

In the SHOTS that follow TRACY gives the audience a lesson in gunmanship:

TRACY practices fast-drawing the .38 Special from her holster and firing it.

She hooks the .44 into her pants behind her back and practices withdrawing it. She holds the .44 firmly at an arm’s length, tightening her forearm muscles.

She has worked out a system of metal gliders taped to her inner forearm, whereby the Colt .25 can rest hidden behind the upper forearm until a spring near the elbow is activated, sending the .25 flying down the gliders into her palm. She has cut open her blouse to accomodate the gun mechanism and now checks in the mirror to see how well the gun is hidden.

She straps an Army combat knife to her calf and cuts a slit in her jeans where the knife can be pulled out quickly.

She now tries on various combinations of blouses, sweater and jacket in front of the mirror to see how well she can hide all the handguns she wishes to carry.

Finally, wearing a loose shirt, a bra that is bigger than her regular size, a sweater and jacket, she manages to obscure the location of all three guns, although she resembles a boy hunter bundled up against the Arctic winter.

She sits at the table dum-dumming the .44 bullets — cutting “x’s” across the bullet heads.

P.O.V.: she scans the objects of her room through the scope of the .38.

TRACY stands in the middle of her apartment, staring at her PALANTINE wall. Her eyes are glazed with introspection; she sees nothing but herself.

TRACY (V.O.)(CONTD)

Listen you assholes: Here is a woman …

TRACY lies on her mattress, all bundled up in her shirt, oversized bra, sweater, jacket and guns. Her face is turned toward the ceiling, but her eyes are closed. Although the room is flooded with light, she is finally catching some sleep.

The big furry animal drifts into her own world.

TRACY (V.O.)(CONTD) … who wouldn’t take it any more, a woman who stood up against the scum, the douchebags, the dogs, the rapists. Here is …

(voice trails off)

C.U. of diary: entry ends with words “Here is” followed by erratic series of dots.

Only God Forgives: my analysis/review

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Much like my review of Upstream Color, I fear at this point I have to install not just a POSSIBLE SPOILER ALERT, but this analysis is hopefully a thorough one with details some might just want to witness first on the big screen so THIS IS A SPOILER ALERT! A SPOILER ALERT!  DANGER, WIL ROBINSON! However, Only God Forgives is not based on any spoiler per se. My analysis is based mostly on my own readings and my own film critical viewing background. 

Watch the trailer here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MhRKlwr1-KM

My one problem with Only God Forgives was that it was sold as a hyper violent action, kickass fight flick with an intelligent twist. It’s not. It’s hyper violent and intelligently done. There’s little fighting in it though and you’re not going to get a hero. Looking back at a history of Nicolas Winding Refn flicks, who wouldn’t expect something akin to the Pusher trilogy with a dash of Bronson and Drive? Refn is auteur who is not just an art house director, but a continual film fan/student. Therefore, like with most of the riskier directors these days (ie. Steve McQueen, Shane Carruth…I’m just thinking of films I’ve seen recently), Refn utilizes influences while still pushing boundaries within them.

More on that later.  Refn’s own explanation for the basis of this film:

The original concept for the film was to make a movie about a man who wants to fight God. That is, of course, a very vast obstacle but when I was writing the film, I was going through some very existential times in my life – we were expecting our second child and it was a difficult pregnancy – and the idea of having a character who wants to fight God without knowing why very much appealed to me.

With that as the concept, I elaborated by adding a character who believes he is God (Chang), obviously the antagonist, with the protagonist being a gangster who is looking for religion to believe in (Julian). This itself is, of course, very existential because faith is based on the need for a higher answer but most of the time, we don’t know what the question is. When the answer comes, then, we must backtrack our lives in order to find the question. In this way, the film is conceived as an answer, with the question revealed at the end.” 1

For those of you who haven’t seen the film, but are still reading this analysis: Julian (Ryan Gosling) is an American working at a boxing academy in Thailand. It’s not entirely sure if he’s a former boxer, but it’s implied in his knowledge of boxing and his mother saying, “He was never a good fighter.” His brother, Billy (Tom Burke), has a penchant for brutalizing people, especially underage girls, and  he works there too. Billy goes too far one night and murders a sixteen year old prostitute. Chang (Vithaya Pansringarm), an inexorable chief officer, brings in the girl’s father and instructs him to kill (to put things right), Billy. Chang then amputates girl’s father arm (by an ever hidden, yet present, sword) to atone for his sins (sins being that his daughter shouldn’t have become a prostitute in the first place). Julian finds the girl’s father for revenge, but let’s him go after being told of Billy’s own deeds. Julian’s mother, Crystal (Kristin Scott Thomas), appears and upon hearing of Julian’s inability to deal vengeance, looks for it herself by hiring her drug goons to do it for her.

Julian is a man in search of God/religion/spirituality. His brother lacked all sense of morals, was a lowlife who beat up and murdered a child. Chang is a police official who is godlike and believes in putting things right karmically, at least in his own sword loving version of karma. So let’s start there: Julian searches for God and finds it in Chang.

Chang is an interesting character. He’s superhuman: in a scene where he uses his sword to kill a man who was hired to shoot him, he cuts right through his rib cage in one swift motion (you can see his ribs sticking out as the blood spurts from his carcass). Chang also senses when things are about to happen and has a heightened sense of perception: he feels danger before gunfire erupts at a restaurant; with one look at Julian he knows that he wasn’t the one that killed the dead girl’s father. He’s calm. He’s cool. Chang is a collected man. He’s badass evil Highlander. The biggest clue is that hidden sword. Where does he hide it? Before we ever see him pull it out, Refn gives us many shots of Chang’s back. There’s no holster. There’s no bump to see where he’s pulling it out of his shirt and jacket. There’s no way Chang can pull the sword out that cleanly through a collared shirt and the collared suit on top of it. It’s either an invisible, magical ethereal sword, or the sword doesn’t exist (which, when you think about it, maybe Chang since he’s a godlike figure, maybe doesn’t exist either).

Julian sees Chang in a vision before he even meets him. Chang appears in a black doorway (reminiscent of the all encompassing black of Kubrick’s monolith from 2001), and amputates Julian’s arm as he reaches out. Later, when Julian sees Chang in person, he watches him greet the children from the boxing academy (they bow down to him in either reverence or respect). As Chang passes Julian he says, “He isn’t the one,” and keeps walking. The camera goes right to Julian, his chest visibly heaving while his eyes open wide with a sort of wonder and admiration. He’s just met God and as he stands there in the lobby of the boxing academy the audience perceives Julian’s bellicose stance: Julian wants to fight God. In turn,  Julian gets the chance to fight God (“Wanna fight?”), he loses to him, almost on purpose, making himself humble before his God/father/circumstances.

Is Julian in hell? Maybe just a version of it. The colors of the film are saturated red, green and yellow with hints of green (Refn is somewhat color blind, but highlights natural color to give an allusion/contrast of realism versus imagination). I gave up on looking for symbolism with the colors because they were inconsistent. At first I thought that blue was a sexual situation, but then red becomes the focus more when Julian watches his prostitute/hired girlfriend, Mai (Yayaying Rhatha Phongam), masturbate in front of him. I believe the colors here are mostly stylistic in nature. Cinematographer Larry Smith (was a gaffer for Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining, chief of lighting for Barry Lyndon, and lighting cameraman for Eyes Wide Shut, and cinematographer for Bronson and Fear X), almost pays tribute to Kubrick through the intense reds and fluid panning shots along walking subjects. The camera holds steady on focus to the characters while the background looms bright, illuminating filigree more like tarot card portraits of elementals rather than humans. These can be seen as character snapshots, but they’re meant to be more of a visual feast.

Refn is also highly influenced by Martin Scorsese:

He once stated that his greatest source of inspiration is Martin Scorsese and his films. As a salute to him, he used the main theme from Scorsese’s Casino (1995) in the opening sequence of Bleeder (1999). 2

The famous massacre scene from Taxi Driver is referenced with the spurting gore in which the red of the blood is sometimes neutralized by blue or hyper dark lighting. When the violence happens, it is alarming and abrupt. I see a lot of the Taxi Driver anti-hero in both Drive and Only God Forgives, but what most people forget are that these anti-heroes are psychopaths. This is the brilliance of both Scorsese and Refn: to make a character that is disturbingly relatable. Peripherally, Only God Forgives can be seen as a revenge flick, but in reality it’s the existential tale of a murderous psychopath in search for God. As told by Crystal, Julian killed his father with his own hands under her direction. I’m not entirely sure (maybe due to Gosling’s lack of emotion), but he does seem to express a desire for redemption. Since he can’t seem to come to terms with his existence or what he has done himself, “only God forgives” and only God can give him that absolution. He has Mai tie his hands before she masturbates for him. Julian clenches his hands continuously like a man unable to control his urges and fighting with the monster (the psychopath) within. Hints to his mother inappropriate relationship with her sons are littered throughout the film. Instead of having sex with Mai, Julian envisions himself probing her with his hand (the hand that gets cut off in the vision), and in turn uses that hand to penetrate the wound he inflicts on his dead mother. The same soft lilting music wells up during these scenes alluding to a need for love, a need for a mother, a need for a purpose beyond Julian’s inner demons.

In the end, his never ending visions become somehow true as he feels the innards of his mother/where he came from, the birth of a monster, creates a hyper real dream: he gets both of his fists amputated by a worthy god. Why? Either to keep him from becoming who he truly is or for ultimate redemption.

Well, art is an act of violence. It is about penetration, about speaking to our subconscious and our moods at different levels. – Refn 4

Many critics have complained of Gosling’s and the rest of the cast’s lack of expression. Some may see it as a blank canvas, a mask that can inhabit our own anxieties. Scary, if you enjoyed this film, is that this effect makes it more comfortable for the audience to place themselves in Julian’s shoes, then want to immediately step out, then go hide themselves in Chang shoes, and immediately run away from that too. You keep away from Crystal. You…you just do.

I usually have an issue with the Lady Macbeth trope. It’s overused and an easy way for directors or storytellers to create sympathetic beasts. However, Thomas is a relish to watch. She plays that character like she invented her and slashes and dices with words the way Chang does with his sword.3 Crystal who goes out of her way to go beyond the archetype or  trope. She’s the one who begins this mad chain of events. I’ve never cheered for such an evil character and when she spits out “cum-dumpster” at Mai, I almost leapt to my feet. I don’t know why, I just felt compelled to. Crystal got under my skin. I get what Refn was creating here with Crystal, and I’ve yet to see him “get women right.” They’re either pure evil or pure helpless waifs. I suspect Refn of misogyny.

(“It’s like pornography. I’m a pornographer. I make films about what arouses me. What I want to see. Very rarely to understand why I want to see it and I’ve learned not to become obsessed with that part of it.” 5 (Read the rest of that article and tell me you don’t think he might be too.)

I have no problem with pornography (Porn is awesome!). But if we’re thinking of Refn struggling with inner demons and using women in his films to either “save” or “as emasculating bitches,” as a pornography then we can suspect what those demons may be.)

The reason I don’t have a problem with this trope here is because Thomas portrays her character as an entirely self-made person. Sure, she’s a villainous, vengeful drug dealer, but she’s her own boss. She snakes through each of her scenes like she owns the whole production and for that, it’s a commendable performance.

Magical realism is a big part of Only God Forgives and this maybe the main tribute to his friend, director Alejandro Jodorowsky. Almost every scene has a distorted reality. In some scenes, Julian wears a white shirt and then is seen with a black shirt/suit. People sometimes glide instead of walk. Characters stare at each other for extended periods of time, almost as if they are relaying intuitive messages to each other. Where Jodoroswky goes all alchemy and scatalogical, Refn goes incestual and bloody violent. Actors are merely devices to a larger picture, but the picture, although dreamlike is all too real and archetypal that it’s hard not to try find meaning within the transfixing images these directors focus on. While Julian lives in his version of hell on Earth, Chang is a supernatural being outside of the world like God would be, yet their conflicts become less about plot devices and transform into the base ideals/horrors within ourselves.

This all makes the film more like a hermetic exegesis of a tarot card reading more than a story and that’s why I loved it.

The Cliff Martinez score is rife with Wendy Carlos love, it’s not even funny; it’s amazing. Just give me scenes with any of these characters, or just even Eyes Wide Shut hallways, violins, and Kraftwerk synthesizers and I am so there forever (make sure to splice Kristen Scott Thomas saying “cum-dumpster”). I’m running out to get the soundtrack as soon as I can.

Should I touch on the infusion of karaoke? Chang sings and his minions listen attentively, almost appreciatively. The scenes are very David Lynch (another influence that is seen and is also mentioned in the credits). I don’t see it so much as a contrast or as detail to Chang’s “softer” side, but rather since besides being God and stuff, he’s also an angel of vengeance, he must sing and sing like an angel. The scenes in the karaoke bar are still. No violence occurs inside of them. It’s God’s sanctuary and all are invited, but only God can sing.

So as you can tell, I really enjoyed Only God Forgives (as I’ve seen it two times in two days). I could have hated it if I was expecting an action revenge flick, but I wasn’t. I expect risky directors to push the bar and bounce from the foundations they’ve set. I honestly would like to see Refn do something better with women. I know he was interested in doing Barbarella and Wonder Woman, but seeing as those are both seen as more sexual beings than “heroes” I hold little hope for that. I do enjoy Refn films because when I see film, I see gender as a secondary thing and in my head can easily place a woman in Julian’s shoes. I think it’s frightening for a lot of people to see a Julienne, raped by her father, become a psychopath searching for her God. She wants her hands chopped off for killing her mother and in the end, she violates her father and vision quests the demons out of herself or becomes a true killing machine.

See? It’s not so hard.  Just too risky, perhaps.

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1. http://www.firstshowing.net/2013/refns-statement-on-only-god-forgives-compares-to-his-past-films/

2. http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0716347/bio

3. I admit to giggling every time I typed “his sword.” I’m not sorry.

4. http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0716347/bio

5. http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/2013/jul/13/nicolas-winding-refn-god-forgives

A scene from Fight Club reworked with women.

Fight Club is one of my favorite films because I see it as satire; as such, it also also allows me to place anyone in Jack’s shoes.

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Fight Club by Jim Uhls. Based on the novel by Chuck Palahniuk (reworked by Jacqueline Valencia)

 

 

Tasha and Jen come out of the bar; Jen shakes her head. 

JEN: What?

 

TASHA: Hit me as hard as you can.

Tasha leads Jen into an open area, lit by a streetlamp.

JEN: I don’t know about this, Tasha.

TASHA: I don’t know either.  I want to find out.  We’re virgins.  Neither one of us has ever been hit.

JEN: You’ve never been in a fight?

TASHA: I didn’t say that.  I said I’ve never been hit.

JEN: That’s good, isnt’ it?

TASHA: Listen to me — hit me.  You’re the only one I ever asked.

JEN: Me?

Jen stares at Tasha.

The five drunken girls — the same ones who stared at them up and down earlier — have formed a distant perimeter, sensing drama.

Jen glances at them, then back at Tasha.

JEN: I’ve … never hit anyone in my life.

TASHA: Go crazy.  Let it rip.

JEN: Where do you want it?  In the face or the stomach?

TASHA: Surprise me.

Jen swings a wide, clumsy roundhouse that connects with Tasha’s neck.  It makes a dull, soft flat sound.  Tasha’s neck turns red.

JEN: Shit.  Sorry.  That didn’t count.  Let me try again.

TASHA: Like hell.  That counted.

Tasha shoots out a straight punch to Jen’s breasts.  The impact makes a dull, soft sound and Jen falls back against a car.  The girls whoop and clap, moving closer.  Jen’s eyes involuntarily well up with tears.  She and Tasha breathe HEAVILY and sprout BEADS of SWEAT on their faces. 

TASHA: How do you feel?

JEN: Strange.

TASHA: But a *good* strange.

JEN: Is it?

TASHA: We’ve crossed the threshold.

JEN: … I guess so.

TASHA: You want to call it off?

JEN: Call what off?

TASHA: The fight.

JEN: *What* fight?

TASHA: I’m tired of watching only guys on tv or the MMA.  I don’t want to die without any scars. I want to do this. How much can you really know about yourself, about others, if you never go at it, one-on-one?

JEN: Tasha …

TASHA: Are you a chicken?

Jen swings another roundhouse that slams right under Tasha’s ear.  The sound, soft and flat.  Tasha punches Jen in the stomach.  The girls move closer, cheering the fight.  Tasha and Jen move clumsily, throwing punches.  They breathe heavier, their eyes red and bright.  They drool saliva and blood.  They each hurt badly and become dizzier from every impact. 

JEN: (Voiceover) If you’ve never been in a fight, you wonder about getting hurt, about what you’re capable of doing against another person.

Tasha and Jen keep fighting.  The girls mix laughter with their cheers, looking at each other in wondrous amusement. 

EXT. CURBSIDE – LATER  Jen and Tasha sit on the curb, staring at the sparse headlights on the nearby freeway.  Their eyes are glazed with endorphin-induced serenity.  They look at each other. Their bloodied clothes. Laugh.  Look away.

TASHA: What were you fighting?

JEN: My job.  My boss, who sexually harasses me.  That guy in my support groups.  Everything that’s broken and doesn’t work in my life.  What were you fighting?

TASHA: My mother.

A pause as Jen studies Tasha’s face.

JEN: We should do this again sometime.

Tasha cracks a smile, gives a sidelong glance to Jen, then returns her stare to the night sky.

*****************

P.S. I will post more script reworks on the blog as they come.

Head over to Lemon Hound.

I’ve written two short takes on the films Upstream Color and Sound Of My Voice.

http://lemonhound.com/2013/06/13/jacqueline-valencia-two-short-takes/

 

Be sure to check out all of Lemon Hound’s Volume Five. It’s quite great.

 

http://lemonhound.com/

 

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One of my reviews at Next Projection for Call Girl.

I believe Call Girl is one of the best films I’ve seen in years. Head over to Next Projection and read the review: http://nextprojection.com/2013/06/06/tiff-romania-review-call-girl-2012/

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http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1977739/

Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby film review.

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Last night I took myself to the Humber Cinema to watch Baz Luhrmann’s take on F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. Fitzgerald’s style is what I came to love about the book. He had a way of writing perfect sentences.

“They were sitting at either end of the couch, looking at each other as if some question had been asked, or was in the air, and every vestige of embarrassment was gone. Daisy’s face was smeared with her handkerchief before a mirror. But there was a change in Gatsby that was simply confounding. He literally glowed; without a word or a gesture of exultation a new well-being radiated from him and filled the little room.”

Or my favourite line:

“I was within and without, simultaneously enchanted and repelled by the inexhaustible variety of life.”

Fitzgerald’s novel portrayed a world full of extravagance, and all that jazz,  but one that lacked substance and purpose. The only deep jewel worthy of noting in it, according to the narrator Nick Carraway, was Gatsby, a self-made man who’s greatest trait was his faith and hope in a dream; to be with his one true love, Daisy.

I hate love stories like this. I disliked Romeo and Juliet. I love how Hamlet how wrote it and the witty characters around the actual story itself, but I don’t understand infatuation as the basis for a tragic love story. In fact, it isn’t a tragic love story: it’s a story of fools who failed the Darwin test. Therefore, when I say that The Great Gatsby is one of my favorite novels, it’s because it is one of the greatest visceral portrayals by a writer of a story of privileged fools who failed at reason.

Baz Luhrmann did an awesome job of this in his version of Romeo and Juliet. Clair Danes and Leonardo DiCaprio were the Teen Beat epitome of cool when they were cast in it. I consider it one of Luhrmann’s best films because in the end of it Romeo and Juliet could be seen for what they were: young children who sadly got caught up in the tangles of misunderstanding and chance. I wanted to yell at the screen, “No!” and cried pitifully as if they were my own kids. All the pomp and circumstance in it propelled and supported the story.

In The Great Gatsby, DiCaprio does an impressive job as a mature and independent Romeo as Gatsby. He’s all fire and drive, which I think he brings to most of his roles these days. Carey Mulligan embodies Daisy like a well-fitted glove. Daisy is an empty vessel and her passions are sapped from the life others or people around her. As her body is adorned with the the jewels and flash of the times, Mulligan, is also visually, a great feast upon the eyes. However, maybe it’s because I’ve enjoyed seeing Mulligan play such strong characters in the past that every so often I’d find it out of place to find something genuinely human about her portrayal as Daisy, or may be it’s because she’s just that good of an actress.

Tobey Maguire does a good job of playing our eyes in the story as Nick Carraway: goofy, wet at the ears, and full of promise, but no direction. I just never understood the subtle nuances to his dopey character in the movie. Even his alcoholic writer trope was a little too laughable for me to take seriously, which is odd considering I totally empathized with him in the novel.

This movie is lush and wonderful to look at though. The ambrosial Gatsby parties are full of champagne, streamers, fireworks, and colour. The zooming camera shots take you falling over and flying up among the skyscrapers in a bustling city. The camera dances around art deco sets and in and out of New York City in the roaring 20s and pauses for just a few moments among the still life, but potboiler of industry. I expected nothing less from Luhrmann’s visuals. I found the soundtrack (executively produced by Jay-Z) to be rather imposing and it didn’t suit the movie at all. Was Luhrmann trying to jarr us with this or was it meant to add a statement about modern life? With the resurgence of ragtime and 20s music, due to this movie and videogames like Bioshock, you’d think it would have been more suited to modern adaptations of popular songs from Fitzgerald’s time.

I think Luhrmann made The Great Gatsby: an adaptation of the Jack Clayton version (the sets were almost exactly the same, only with a bigger budget) as a stunning music video with little music.He failed at what I view The Great Gatsby at being: a literary feast of  a love story congruent to the empty truth in the American Dream.  I wasn’t within and without, nor was I simultaneously enchanted and repelled by the inexhaustible variety of life. I was watching and simultaneously waiting to be given something besides the few minutes of drama in a hot NYC hotel room that I got out of this.

One thing that Luhrmann succeeds here at though: getting the youth of today to read a classic and perhaps think about it in terms of the loss of focus in our social media run society today. He did something similar with Romeo and Juliet. I think as a film watcher though, I’m still waiting for him to surprise me with Strictly Ballroom again.

P.S. And why was Carraway reading Ulysses while he was still at Yale (banned book back then)? I want the copy seen in the film! It’s big, green, and awesome looking.

**************

Here, play the video game:

http://greatgatsbygame.com/

Or read the book: http://www.planetebook.com/ebooks/The-Great-Gatsby.pdf