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Critiques Page 9

Copyright © 1999 - 2001 Dorian Scott Cole

My purpose in critiques isn't to rate movies on whether or not people should see them. My main purpose is to use movies that people are currently watching to explain what did or didn't work, and why. Then we can all learn from these. My criterion for what did or didn't work is simply, "Was it entertaining?" I go to movies to enjoy them, not critique them. The critique comes later. See the end for an explanation of writer.

The Divine Ya-Ya Sisterhood

The Divine Ya-Ya Sisterhood - Director: Callie Khouri. Screenplay by Callie Khouri.
From a novel by Rebecca Wells.

The Divine Ya-Ya Sisterhood is an example of a movie that, on the negative side has too many characters, and on the positive side uses a motif and related symbols to great effect (whether done intentionally or not). The movie opens with a series of scenes that form a very visual, and dynamic, motif.

The motif is composed of visual and auditory symbols and drama. It is the nighttime sneaking out of house into the woods by young women to a secret place to form a secret society (sisterhood), that culminates in a ceremony that is complete with the related symbols of burning candles, drinking from a community cup, scoring the hand with a knife and mixing blood, reciting enchanting phrases, headdresses (decorated hats), pledges, a name (The Divine Ya Ya Sisterhood), and a cheer (Ya, Ya).

Even though a motif is a recurring element, the original scene never recurs just as it is originally portrayed, but it's aura is subtly accessed through symbols. The motif is the secret bond, the sisterhood, and it can be pointed to by any of the related symbols from the scenes. Throughout the story, individual elements from the scene are used as symbols that point to the motif. If the funny hats go on, in the back of our mind we think of the unity of the sisterhood. If someone says, "Ya, ya," in the back of our minds we think of the unity of the sisterhood. Even a new symbol is produced, a book bearing the chronicles of The Divine Ya Ya Sisterhood, and any time we see it, in the back of our minds we think of the unity of the sisterhood. Finally at the end, a scene similar to the first scene recurs, using the motif to give the story a symmetrical quality and a nice resolution.

The motif is composed of various visual symbols, auditory symbols, and action symbols that give an aura of secrecy and unity.

The characters are very difficult in the movie to identify. The story opens with the four young women of the sisterhood, and there is very little information to anchor each of them in our mind. Then we switch to present day and a daughter of the "Queen Bee" of the sisterhood. Then in the same time period, we meet the four sisters at grandmother age. And then we have flashbacks to various other points in time, seeing a new group of actors portraying all five women. Add to that, a male significant other, and Vivi's husband who died in the war, and her current husband. The actors aren't aged by makeup - instead the various generations are played by different actors. The mental gymnastics required to continuously identify the characters is daunting.

In this movie, the many flashbacks actually do a reasonably good job of tying history together (while in many movies flashbacks interrupt the action).

Also see the

  • The Divine Ya-Ya Sisterhood review for the storyline.

    For more information on how symbols can be used as visual elements to communicate, see the other critiques on this page, and:

    - Scott

    Web site for this Paramount Pictures movie: Changing Lanes 

    For full credits, and for movie reviews with which I often disagree regarding entertainment value, visit the TV Guide movie database. These links are for convenience, and there is no business association.

    The Sum Of All Fears

    The Sum Of All Fears - Director: Phil Alden Robinson. Screenplay by Paul Attanasio and Daniel Pyne.
    From a novel by Tom Clancy.

    The Sum Of All Fears is an example of a movie that raised a difficult question for me. When is a story line clichéd? The Sum Of All Fears novel was written in 1991, and produced as a movie in 2002. It was a good movie, although for me there were no surprises as this taut thriller moved predictably toward nuclear confrontation. For me it would have been a better movie 10 to 20 years ago when US/Soviet relations were tense, nuclear, and unpredictable.

    A cliché is something that is overused - it has a stale taste to it. I try to critique and review movies on their own merits and not drag in every other consideration in the world. It especially irritates me when critics trash a movie just because something in the story line can be correlated with a previous movie. This movie is timely in view of the nuclear hotspots in today's world, as witnessed recently by the Pakistani/India confrontation, which is tense, nuclear, and unpredictable. It is probably not nearly so clichéd to those who didn't live through the US/Soviet nuclear era.

    After a few years every movie becomes a cliché for another time. I have to consider that reviews stay around forever, so a future TV and video audience probably doesn't need to know that in 2002 the movie was a cliché to some. But today's movie-going audience, I think, wants something that is fresh, cutting edge, and has surprises.

    Part of what seemed clichéd is that the romantic relationship of the protagonist, Jack Ryan (Ben Affleck) seemed almost as if it was derived from a plot formula. The relationship struck me as an obligatory part of the story. It was there, added a little dramatic tension, but for the space it took up it didn't really add much.

    Reviewing this movie asked me to evaluate my own perspective and try harder to see things through the eyes of others : another generation, and another time facing a similar problem. It even asked me if I was becoming desensitized and cynical, since I was questioning if the romance was coming from a plot formula. In the end, I concluded that there was simply very little "fresh" in this movie that would likely appeal to any age. I maintain that movies need to be more than just excellently written stories. Parts like romance need to be more than obligatory elements, they need to do something that justifies the amount of space they take up. Movies need to be fresh, cutting edge, and have surprises in the plot and other elements.

    This isn't just a lesson about critiquing and reviewing, it is a lesson about selecting story lines to write and selecting movies for production.

    - Scott

    Web site for this Paramount Pictures movie: The Sum Of All Fears

    For full credits, and for movie reviews with which I often disagree regarding entertainment value, visit the TV Guide movie database. These links are for convenience, and there is no business association.

    Changing Lanes

    Changing Lanes - Director: Roger Michell. Screenplay by Chap Taylor and Michael Tolkin.
    From a story by Chap Taylor.

    See the

  • Changing Lanes review for the storyline.

    Changing Lanes is an example of many things done well. What impressed me the most was the honesty. It has honest characters dealing with an honest dilemma of the human experience. I describe honesty as: Honest characters getting into honest situations, causing honest events, and finding honest solutions. The more honest, the more involved we become. (Note: "realism" isn't the issue.)

    This movie also handles symbols very well. The Production designer, Kristi Zea, nails the symbols throughout the entire production, even using the set as a "character." According to the Paramount movie Web site, Kristi defines the different worlds of Gavin (Ben Affleck) and Doyle (Samuel L. Jackson) so that the audience can immediately see why they were antagonists. For more on this, visit the Changing Lanes Web site (link below). She uses extensive contemporary art as symbols to help establish the motif for the law offices. Art is a status symbol. The other settings, whether dining or living establishments, well reflect the identities of both men.

    The writer also nails the symbols that the characters would identify with. Gavin works in law offices that ooze wealth and power, and he is being offered a yacht as a reward for his work. When queried about his ethical quandry, it is with demeaning reference to his high school ethics class (a symbol), as if simplistic thinking had no place in the complexly realistic, high-powered legal world. And when life actually pries into Delano's (Sydney Pollack) thinking about his own ethics, he tells Gavin to go to Texas and help with some death penalty case, to do his good routine, and then come back (to the real world). Delano's ethics are simply flexible.

    The phrase, "Better luck next time," said to Doyle by Gavin, is scrawled across faxes sent to Gavin. The phrase is a symbol of Gavin's dirty dealing with Doyle. We never forget what Doyle is about - the orange file is sticking out of his pocket through most of the movie, a symbol of the power he holds.

    This movie portrays visually the struggles of conscience of two men - a major accomplishment.

    Movies typically don't need long passages devoted to characterization and other background development. This movie is a good example of getting off to a quick start by within just a few scenes telling us a little about the character of the men, the pain or situation they are in, and what the movie is about. Their full character is revealed through the action in later scenes. We learn that Gavin is a patron of the arts and wants to give more from the foundation than he can. He is an OK guy seemingly trapped by the law. We learn that Doyle is a recovering alcoholic, and is trying very hard to do everything right, including buying a home for his family that he should have provided long ago. And then the accident happens, the conflict comes to the fore, and the story unfolds.

    Portraying the human dilemma is done well if it avoids being "preachy," telling us how we "should" behave, and allows the characters to work out their own answers. This is not a "preachy" movie - we aren't force fed someone's idea of morality. It isn't inside a church or during confession that the character resolves his moral dilemma through outside intervention. We don't even know if he is actually a religious person. What we see are the struggles of his conscience and the results of the character's behavior. At the end, the characters change and make their own decisions about how they will handle things in the future.

    Could this story be represented by a picture? Borrowing from the film: Doyle in the school hallway laying on the floor in handcuffs, his two children being restrained by teachers, and his wife screaming at him that he will never see his children again. Or, Gavin hiding behind a telephone watching as police lead Doyle away from the school in handcuffs.

    For more information on honest characters, see:

    For more information on how symbols can be used as visual elements to communicate, see the other critiques on this page, and:

    - Scott

    Web site for this Paramount Pictures movie: Changing Lanes 

    For full credits, and for movie reviews with which I often disagree regarding entertainment value, visit the TV Guide movie database. These links are for convenience, and there is no business association.

    Show Time

    Show Time - Director: Tom Dey. Screenplay by Keith Sharon and Alfred Gough & Miles Millar.
    From a story by Jorge Saralegui.

    In Show Time, when no-nonsense L.A.P.D. detective Mitch Preston (Robert De Niro) shoots an intrusive cameraman's camera, the camera falls in love with him. They are natural born enemies, but a lawsuit brings them cozily together in a TV series. What could improve on this? A second cop who loves the camera, Patrol Officer Trey Sellars (Eddie Murphy). While Sellars is hamming it up for the camera, Preston is seething at them both. It all makes for good comedy.

    Character makes the magic in this movie. What about the plot? I left the theater feeling amused, and only later did I begin wondering if there ever was a real plot. Show Time is a story with a plot that takes a back seat to the action in most scenes. The real plot is, "How much will we be amused by the antics of these guys and a camera, all trying to work together in one big happy family?" A series of farcical scenes comprise much of the movie, centered on the weak plot of finding the dealers of a new super-weapon that is able to pierce metal. Sometimes it doesn't take much of a plot to be entertained. The plot makes the scenes all hang together, gives them a reason for being, and makes the story "cohesive." Comedy clubs, Las Vegas, Disney World, Universal Studios... all entertain with amusements centered on a theme. This story is not far removed.

    While I typically emphasize strong story structure, and how the lack of a good plot ruins a movie, some movies emphasize other things and do well with "weak" plots. For example, I once asked if a good plot would ruin a Jackie Chan movie, since it would overshadow the physical action, which is what people go to see. (The answer is no, he is just as great in movies with good plots.) Another example, I recently read a screenplay in which the director could see in his mind the humor that good character actors would bring to a section that otherwise was lackluster and humorless. Portraying that on paper is difficult, yet the right actors can make a great difference. They do in this one, but backed by well written scenes.

    I think that a plot has two important characteristics:

      One, a plot engages the audience. It is an engaging thought or sensation that is the thread that pulls you through a story, and gives the scenes a reason for being. Suspense is one example of a sensation: "When is it going to happen?" In this story, the expectation of comedy is not a sensation that is sufficient to be a plot - it needs the super-weapon storyline to make it cohesive, which brings us to the second point:

      Two, a narrative must be cohesive to communicate meaning. Something has to bind events together to form a path - something must unite the steps even if the steps are unseen, travel a serpentine path, and we don't know the destination. In intrigue, all of the steps may not be part of the path, but we suspect that they are. Although the super-weapon plot is weak, it was necessary to this story to make it all work.

    In Making Stories Visual I talk about using the "third actor" as a visual element to communicate the story. The third actor is the set. This movie does an excellent job of integrating the set in very important ways with the dramatic action. I'm not referring to the "stage business" that actors typically do with props, such as taking a drink or fumbling with an item. I'm talking about objects that are semi-essential to the story in that they allow the character to communicate the drama (such as showing his inner state) in a physical way. In this story, the camera is an ever-present character. In one scene, Preston shoots the camera, in another he makes faces and says lines to it, and it is an ever-present nuisance that Preston must react to.

    This is a movie that is presented very visually. The set was put to very good use in this movie, including the intrusive cameras, character reactions, using cameras as part of the plot and the way to resolve the plot, the use of the TVs to alert the criminals to the choppers, the car chases, the sight gags, and the physical humor, such as the running cameraman tripping headlong over the fire hydrant.

    For more information on how symbols can be used as visual elements to communicate, see the other critiques on this page, and:

    - Scott

    Web site for this Village Roadshow Pictures and NPV Entertainment, a Material Production in association with Tribeca Productions, Warner Bros. picture: Show Time 

    For full credits, and for movie reviews with which I often disagree regarding entertainment value, visit the TV Guide movie database. These links are for convenience, and there is no business association.

    The Time Machine

    The Time Machine - Directors: Simon Wells and Gore Verbinski. Screenplay by John Logan.
    From a story by H.G. Wells.

    In The Time Machine, Dr. Alexander Hartdegen (Guy Pearce) is a distracted professor, but Emma (Sienna Guillory) has somehow managed to catch his eye. Immediately following his touching marriage proposal, they are robbed and his beloved Emma is killed. Alexander is motivated to build a time machine and go back and undo the past. Step ahead in time to back in time, his mission is a failure, and again he is now motivated to resolve the question, "Why can't we change the past."

    A number of symbols are used in this movie to speak to the audience. For example, after Emma's death, we see Alexander's apartment filled with two stories of chalkboards with mathematical formulas. We understand from this that he is driven, even obsessed, with creating a time machine.

    A chain with Emma's picture is used in a different way. Alexander accidentally drops it from the time machine. We see from this that what is lost from the machine withers and blows away. This symbol foreshadows a future time when the villain Uber-Morlock (Jeremy Irons) dangles from the machine. We know what is going to happen.

    Emma asks for flowers, which the forgetful Alexander has forgotten. On his fateful return, she again asks him for the flowers, and this time the changed Alexander immediately goes to a flower shop. In the future, Mara (Samantha Mumba) suggests they might replace her wilting flowers. This associates Alexander with the relationship and Mara, and we see the bonding occurring.

    For more information on how symbols can be used as visual elements to communicate, see the other critiques on this page, and:

    - Scott

    Web site for this DreamWorks SKG, Warner Bros. picture: The Time Machine 

    For full credits, and for movie reviews with which I often disagree regarding entertainment value, visit the TV Guide movie database. These links are for convenience, and there is no business association.

    Collateral Damage

    Collateral Damage - Director: Andrew Davis. Screenplay by David Griffiths & Peter Griffiths.
    From a story by Ronald Roose and David Griffiths & Peter Griffiths.

    In Collateral Damage, firefighter Gordy Brewer (Arnold Schwarzenegger) loses his family to a terrorist act, so tracks the terrorist back to his home deep in the jungles of Columbia to stop further terrorist actions.

    First I should say two things. 1. This story was filmed before the 9-11 terrorist tragedy - it not only isn't intended to play on the audience's emotions about 9-11, in fact the release was delayed in sensitivity to 9-11. 2. My impressions that I relate below, as usual, are subjective. I have no inside information about what the writer, director, or any other creative had in mind.

    The story in action movies is told very visually. There is much less emphasis on dialogue than in a drama. So symbols can be very important in the presentation of the story. Symbols are the things that people react to, because many symbols interact in their lives. This story is full of symbols.

    The first thing the movie does is establish protagonist Gordy Brewer as a symbol of a person that we want to win, hands down. To create this symbol, he is presented as heroic, as the consummate family person, and as someone who has lost something that we all identify strongly with.

    How is this done? In the opening scenes, Brewer, a fireman, is shown rescuing people from a burning building, sharing his mask, and getting through physically difficult tasks. The symbolism of firefighting and his actions make him a hero in our eyes. But does he go home and glory in this with his family, neighbors, and peers? No. He is shown with his wife and child as everyday daddy, doing everyday family things, caring about them, doing things for them. He is the consummate family man. We identify strongly with Brewer. Together the fireman and family symbols actually are a bit over the top; perfect people aren't all that likeable. However, Brewer doesn't walk into the terrorist areas like a superman, but as someone naive to the ways of terrorists, so his characterization is balanced out.

    Firemen are "interactive" symbols to us, and very large ones. By interactive, I mean that they don't just present us with information, these symbols actually participate in our lives in some way. We see firemen in action, either in person or more likely in news stories, rescuing people by helicopter from high cranes that are on fire, from burning buildings, etc. We know that firemen put themselves at risk... for us. We know that if we have a fire emergency, a very frightening experience for anyone, all we have to do is pick up the phone and dial 911, and the firemen will come and rescue us, our home, and our family.

    We have been taught by firemen's actions and our experience what to expect. We act in a way that is different because that symbol has interacted in our development; we have the confidence to call 911 and let the firemen put out the flames instead of risking our own lives. So when we see a fireman in a movie, we automatically have a very powerful symbol. Because of this, through the entire movie (and our entire life) everything a fireman does will either react in line with or against our expectations.

    The character Gordy Brewer, does not begin as an interactive symbol. He is a symbol that first must be constructed through other symbols, and then given motivation for both him and us. However, since Arnold Schwarzenegger plays Brewer, there is an aura that he brings to the character that is symbolic, giving us expectations from our past experience of his films.

    Having established Brewer as the symbol of someone we care about, the next thing the story does is create both a problem and motivation. This turning point scene is loaded with symbols. Brewer is to pick up his wife and child from a physician's visit. We are immediately alerted that something big is about to happen as we witness the arrival of some government delegation. Symbolically we are "where the action is."

    We are given more information that something is about to happen when we witness odd behavior from a police officer ticketing vehicles. We expect certain things from police officers - they spend a little time writing tickets, not hastily scribble something and shove it under a wiper. We expect someone ticketing parked cars to respond when asked a question, not be too preoccupied to even be aware of us. So here we have a symbol of the police, packed with behavior that we expect, and are alerted to the fact that something is up by unexpected behavior.

    If we were numb to all of the action that is building up the coming calamity for us, we can't escape the cues in the music. Suddenly the music begins to build, becoming more and more ominous and urgent, until finally there is an explosion. The music is another symbol, an audio one. We are not only primitively affected by the music, we have much past experience with this type of music so that we are automatically put on alert and drawn into the scene just by the sound of it. If we couldn't see the movie or understand the dialogue, we would still know by the music that something terrible was about to happen.

    While the dialogue gives us few verbal signs that Brewer is a hero, is a family man, and there is a disaster at hand, the symbols created by the visual content and context give us all of this information, in this very well written intro. (For more information on signs and symbols, see language, cultural, and visual semiotics on the Web.)

    There are many other powerful symbols in this movie. People in military uniforms, attack helicopters, jungle, filthy jails, corrupt people, and the CIA and FBI who as symbols can be seen both as meritorious and heroic or as uncaring and sinister.

    A final symbol is perhaps the most... interesting. Brewer twice rescues a woman and her child from being killed on the street in Columbia, and is reminded of his own wife and child. So I ask you to ask yourself, "What is this person a symbol of, and how does this symbol interact with you through the rest of the movie?" It is not a static symbol that only makes an impression, it is very interactive, developing the plot.

    Overtly putting many symbols in stories would most likely cause "over-the-top" characterization. But being aware of symbols and sensitive to the effect of symbols on the audience can help avoid creating over-the-top characterization (as Brewer begins) or characters that we can't identify with because they mean nothing to us.

    - Scott

    For more on using symbols and motifs, see Developing Motifs That Set Mood and Texture. Also see the critique below of The Mothman Prophesies.

    Warner Brothers Web site for this Bel-Air Entertainment picture: Collateral Damage 

    For full credits, and for movie reviews with which I often disagree regarding entertainment value, visit the TV Guide movie database. These links are for convenience, and there is no business association.

    The Mothman Prophesies

    The Mothman Prophesies - Director: Mark Pellington. Writer: Richard Hatem.
    Based on a novel by John Keel.

    In The Mothman Prophecies, top journalist John Klein (Richard Gere), loses his wife, Mary (Debra Messing), to a brain tumor which is discovered as the result of an automobile accident. The cause of the accident is unknown, but before she dies she makes sketches of some supernatural creature called the Mothman. She implies that the creature caused the car wreck. Two years later John leaves for an assignment in Richmond, Virginia, but finds himself in Pleasant Point, West Virginia, unable to explain how he got there.

    John is quickly drawn into a recurring town mystery, which no one wants to talk about. In unraveling the mystery, what appears? The same image, the Mothman. What does it mean? It seems to bear terrible news of some accident that is about to happen. But what? And is this thing a monster that will cause the accident, destroying everyone who is drawn in? Or is the creature trying to warn them of something? While investigating, John becomes involved with Connie Parker (Laura Linney), one of the town's police officers, but he fears he is losing his sanity.

    This is a good movie with which to begin analyzing from a more semiotic point of view. I will be looking for images and related elements that have meaning for the audience. This movie used visual images and the accompanying effects to good affect, often by what it didn't show as much as what it did show.

    Note that producing images and other elements that have meaning to the audience begins with the writer and ends in production with the director, production and set designers, special effects artists, cinematographer, and film editor.

    Two things were very important to this movie, atmosphere and mystery, which together achieved a spooky feeling to enhance the thematic element of the supernatural. The atmosphere was created through music, theme, and especially through the use of images with color washed out and containing elements with stark contrast, particularly cold, windy, wintry shots. The shots often included bare branches reaching momentarily down into the shot with the wind. These shots suggest things which are not full of color and warmth, not alive and substantial, but shadowy and unseen. They invite the mind to fill in the gaps. (The use of fog and darkness are other examples of this.)

    In one notable shot, John Klein is sitting on a bench in front of an open field in a park, with his back to us. The field is covered in snow. We see what John sees, bleak, barren, devoid of color, and speaking of the barrenness of meaning, joy, and perhaps purpose that John still feels months after the loss of his wife. John is ripe for visitation by something.

    Love is one thing that John needs to visit. I was tempted to be cynical of the inevitability of the appearance of a love interest, Connie Parker. It was predictable. But predictability is often a good thing, giving the audience what they expect, and the character of Connie is very tightly woven into the story for much more than romantic purposes. It is she who grounds John in reality, and the romance does make sense as some form of "justice in romance" possibly orchestrated by the Mothman in leading John to the town of Point Pleasant... for perhaps sinister reasons.

    Mystery was achieved in a different way. Like solving a crime, the details in a mystery don't fall on you all at once, they dribble in, making your mind go this way and that, following a serpentine series that the mind can form into various pictures depending on how you arrange the parts and fill in what is unseen.

    We never see the thing that made John's fiancée, Mary (xxxx), wreck the car. At the beginning, we see Mary's sketches of what she saw. They are like a Rorschach ink blot - you see what you want to see. We quickly learn from someone who sees the pictures that the image is called, "Mothman."

    Motifs are recurring elements. The creature that we never see is a motif. It is a symbol of what we can't see, creating mystery and all the speculation we have about the mystery. It is the monster under the bed that represents our fears. When Mary hits the creature, we never see it. Perhaps it was never there at all, it was just the result of the tumor. The person who names the thing in Mary's sketches vanishes while John is looking at the pictures. Later, another person describes the creature, which vanished, and we see a small image of it on a tree. People call and talk with the creature beside them, but it is not them, and they didn't see the creature. Even Mary calls from beyond, but is it really her?

    Similarly, the "unwilling" person is used in a motif-like way to create mystery. The locals in Pleasant Point are unwilling to talk, such as Police Officer Connie Parker, who is troubled from hearing too much, and recovering alcoholic Gordon Smallwood (Will Patton), a man troubled by alcohol and self-doubt. Even a scholar from Chicago is unwilling to talk to John about the Mothman - what has he seen to create such fear? From these things, our imagination can project whatever we want: something sinister, something foreign, something on a helpful mission, something supernatural... The mind is wonderfully creative in dark, suggestive spaces. The unanswered questions fuel John's imagination as well as the audience's, leading him down two paths, one leading to good, the other to evil, or can it be to both.

    You can create a symbol by mentioning an "empty box," giving a few clues to what is in it that point in the direction you want to direct or misdirect, and then letting the audience's imagination do the rest. These symbols not only point to experiences within the individual, they participate as dynamic elements to create images and pack them with meaning, pointing first to one group of experiences and then to another as our minds absorb clues and shift meaning.

    In The Mothman Prophecies the things that are seen establish an atmosphere that is suggestive, an atmosphere in which the supernatural theme can flourish. The unseen things suggested by the shots and created by the mind create meaning for the audience, beginning with mystery and apprehension and progressing alternately to things like supernatural superheros or demons, depending on the clue of the moment.

    - Scott

    What is the difference between mystery and suspense? See Mystery and Suspense Thrillers.

    For more on using symbols and motifs, see Developing Motifs That Set Mood and Texture.

    Sony Web site for this Screen Gems picture: The Mothman Prophecies 

    For full credits, and for movie reviews with which I often disagree regarding entertainment value, visit the TV Guide movie database. These links are for convenience, and there is no business association.

    Writer : I use the term writer loosely in these critiques. Creating a movie is a collaborative effort, and the original writer does not have a lot of control over the finished work, unlike a novel in which the reader sees exactly what the writer wrote (except for editing, which is less common). The producer, director, other writers, actors, film editors, cinematographers, musicians, and a myriad of other creative people have their own vision of the story and influence what goes on the screen. If the director and film editor cut portions out, then what the writer put there might not be there. So when I say writer, I am really referring to the many creative people who are telling a story on screen. And it is a lesson for the rest of us writers.

    The entire cast, though deserving, is not listed because of the lack of availablity of credits, and secondarily because the focus is on writing and the people who most influence the writing: the director and writers.

    The opinions expressed on the Movie Critique pages are only opinions and not statements of fact.

    Other distribution restrictions: None

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