Movie magic


B. and I saw one of the best films I’ve seen in a long time, Twilight Samurai. Not what I expected at all, and it starred Sanada Hiroyuki, an amazing actor I hadn’t even thought of since I left Japan over a decade ago. I loved the spare dialogue and the unembellished cinematography, the way the director, Yamada Yoji, relied mostly on gestures, glances, little details to convey emotion rather than drowning the audience with sentimental dialogue and a flowery orchestral soundtrack. It was unlike what I expected at all, given the title. I suppose any film with the word samurai in the title will inspire images of highly choreographed fight scenes, a love story thrown in for good measure, and a flawless hero. But Twilight Samurai delivered something completely different, a moving story about a big-hearted, visionary man of humble means.

I’m glad I saw it when I did because I was still unsettled by the fact that I’m having to rewrite the novel. But the mood of the film, its streamlined narrative, helped me to focus on exactly how I want to frame my own story, and give my character the center I’ve been looking for. I guess I’ve relied so much on oversharing in the story that I’d lost sight of what holds the thing together. So the first draft is a terribly long, repetitive narrative that does have some good insight and decent imagery and dialogue but which is also likely overblown and needs a firm hand to control its wayward tendencies.

I’m still going to focus on research for now, but I found myself awake half the night reconstructing — or rather, rewriting — the first chapter. By the time I fell asleep, I had my first two pages, which I just dutifully typed into my Writer doc. I think I like the framework of this 2nd ‘draft’ more than I did the first one, and the main character (Thomas) has a stronger voice.

What a great way to get into the heart of one’s story: watching a well-crafted film that evokes the kind of mood and atmosphere that you’re trying to capture in your own book. If you like both movies and writing, this isn’t a bad way to inspire yourself.

Now I work on the play. I think I know how to open it know, a stronger At Rise than it had been previously. Linda still seems a little wishy-washy in my mind, and Noelle needs to be fleshed out some more, but I think I can get a good 2nd draft of at least this scene by the end of this week.

So far, I’m on track to keep most of my resolutions. Well, I am having to extend the deadline for the 1st draft of the novel, and I’ve yet to make any kind of dent on those two other Web sites/blogs, but otherwise, so far so good. I’ve noticed that more than a few of the bloggers I’ve been following the last few months have recently announced that they will cease publishing for a while for various personal reasons. I’m hoping that some of those reasons involve devoting more of one’s time to writing, because let’s face it: blogging is a huge time-sucker.