But I'm back, it's Friday night and it feels good! First up, the inspiration/motivation powerhouse that is the Black List. The Times ran an article on the 2010 list today and the script I'm most excited about reading by a long shot is All You Need Is Kill by Dante Harper.
Based on a Japanese novel about a guy who finds himself reliving his own battlefield death in a Groundhog Day-style loop, this sounds like a great concept. It also sold for $3m to Warners Bros, the only spec script I've heard of in a long time to generate that kind of money. Now I just hope the script is as good as it sounds.
On another note, because it's Christmas and because it's fun, I was thinking about genre cliches. I was watching Unstoppable recently and as Denzel Washington climbed up onto the roof of the speeding, out-of-control train, my viewing companion said confidently, "He's going to fall off and hang on the side for a while". We both watched as Denzel proceeded to run down the train with no problem whatever. Spoiler alert - he does not fall. Not even a jolt in that direction.
And you know what? I felt a bit cheated! Train movies always have someone fall off and hang on the side, usually while battling a bad guy, and then they usually manage to heroically heave themselves back up. Damn you, Denzel and your surefootedness!
Here are just some of the cliches I can think of, by genre:
There are almost too many cliches in this genre to mention, but here are a few:
- People hanging around in dark places by themselves.
- Groups pointlessly splitting up in sinister locations.
- Houseowners refusing to move despite evidence that the house is evil/haunted/possessed.
- Blondes of both sexes getting butchered. It's blonde genocide in horrors!
- Towns/communities having deep dark secrets that they never reveal to the hero until it's almost too late. Usually when at least 15 people have died.
- Authority figures are always bad/useless/a hindrance
- People engaging in personal grooming at stupid times. I'm talking about a guy taking a shower when a serial killer is picking off his friends one by one or a girl deciding to shave her legs when there's a killer virus making everyone vomit blood (Cabin Fever, I'm looking at you).
Again, an embarrassment of riches:
- Random stuff blowing up, but in particular oil barrels being placed for no good reason all over the place.
- Car chases, usually on a busy freeway, at rush hour.
- A very dumb hero. And a very bright villain.
- Millions of bullets being fired, most of which fail to hit anything.
- Bad guys having serious problems attracting good henchmen. Most of the henchmenget dispatched with no problem at all, the only exception being huge Germans/Russians or Asian guys with mad skills.
- Girls taking their kit off, even if it doesn't fit their character's profession, personality, etc etc.
- Long, winding coastal roads.
- Huge, modernistic houses, probably in San Francisco.
- A messed-up hero.
- Mysterious phone calls involving codes.
- No sleep for any of the protagonists - thriller characters are nocturnal.
- Terse dialogue and open-ended conversations.
- A horrible secret that we - and the protagonist - just HAVE to discover.
- The heroine has to fall over at least three times. Knocking things/people over as she goes is also mandatory.
- The hero and heroine will each have a less attractive friend who is nonetheless far more interesting than them. This happens in musicals too - Ado Annie is a way better character to play in Oklahoma for example than the female lead (see, can't even remember her name).
- Misunderstandings and missed opportunities.
- Comic set-pieces that result in the heroine getting humiliated, again.
- A man the female lead should marry, if he wasn't so boring/corporate/such a mensch.
- A run to the finish, usually involving the hero/heroine's entire family/circleof friends.
- A girl-power song over the closing credits.
There's loads I've missed - bring 'em on!