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End of Story

November 2, 2014

Filmmakers spend too much of their lives in projection rooms. They should come out more often into the sunshine. Other men’s films are a poor source of vitamins…

Directors see too many movies. Sure everything’s been done, but it’s much healthier not to know about it.  (Orson Welles)

Watching Guillaume Canet’s Blood Ties and David Gordon Green’s Joe recently got me thinking yet again about how we tell stories, first on the page, then on screen.

In Blood Ties two brothers on different sides of the law play out their tragedy in 1970’s Brooklyn. The superb cast, led by Clive Owen, can barely breathe life into a script that seemed to me DOA. The picture leaks dramatic drive as the actors gamely navigate through one film cliché after another.

There comes a point in David Gordon Green’s Joe, when Nick Cage, playing the eponymous protagonist, in a “4 AM of the soul” moment, explains why he is the way he is. This is our “window onto [Joe’s] true self.” It’s accompanied by a succession of images from Joe’s day-to-day. For me, these images, even in juxtaposition, lack complexity or a tonal reason for being. The sequence seemed merely a film school exercise struggling to illustrate Joe’s mea culpa.

These days I’m hard put to find good stories well told…even in television…

*   *   *

Touch of Evil

screenplay by

Orson Welles & Whit Masterson

Tanya: We’re closed.

Quinlan: You’ve been cookin’ at this hour?

Tanya: Just cleanin’ up.

Quinlan: Have you forgotten your old friend, hmm?

Tanya: I told you we were closed.

Quinlan: I’m Hank Quinlan.

Tanya: I didn’t recognize you. You should lay off those candy bars.

Quinlan: It’s either the candy or the hooch. I must say, I wish it was your chili I was gettin’ fat on. Anyway, you’re sure lookin’ good.

Tanya: You’re a mess, honey.

Quinlan: Yeah. That pianola sure brings back memories.

Tanya: The customers go for it – it’s so old, it’s new. We got the television too. We run movies. What can I offer you?

*   *   *

Touch of Evil

 directed by

Orson Welles


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One Comment
  1. Hi Ray – I’m watching waaaay more television (downloads) than movies these days. I’ve found The Killing, True Dectective, House of Cards, Homeland – and the newish crop of Brit dramas – Happy Valley, Shetland, Hinterland – etc. all very good storytelling and with excellent performances. You?


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