movies, music and everything else

This blog is about pretty much what the title implies... movies, music and everything else.

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Monday, January 22, 2007

2006 HUMBY'S: original screenplay

Before I get into my top five original screenplay of 2006, here are some more that did not quite make the top five, but deserve some recognition: THE PROPOSTION, BRICK, THE QUEEN, THE FOUNTAIN, BABEL and THE SCIENCE OF SLEEP. It was hard to narrow it down to my 5 favorites, but here they are...

5. UNITED 93 – Paul Greengrass

This is one of those films that blend fact and fiction and it tackles one of the most difficult and terrible events in US history. Especially considering that the attack on 9/11 was only five years before the release of the film, it is beyond a tricky job for any screenwriter to take on. Greengrass uses a combination of actual events recorded and reenacted by the ground crew in air traffic control with a pure imagining of what happened on board the flight of United 93. The result is something that feels not only natural and real, but also boarders on a documentary. UNITED 93 is a respectful look at a group of people that could have been anyone… a group of people that stood up and fought… a group of people that are true heroes.

4. HALF NELSON – Anna Bowden & Ryan Fleck
I love stories with main characters that are flawed and there is no better example this year of a flawed character than that of Dan Dunne (Ryan Gosling) in HALF NELSON. He is an inner-city junior high school teacher that is also the basketball coach that is struggling with an addiction to crack. Dan wants nothing more than to make a difference in the world and to make a difference in the lives of his students, but his addiction stands in his way. When he is befriended by a young student, Drey, this struggle becomes much more specific and much more personal. Bowden and Fleck create a dynamic and fascinating character in one of the most challenging scripts in years.

3. BREAKING AND ENTERING – Anthony Minghella
Minghella is, for my money, one of the best writers at adapting books into films (THE ENGLISH PATIENT, TALENTED MR. RIPLEY, and COLD MOUNTAIN), but with BREAKING AND ENTERING, he returns to the world of original screenplay and he does so with grace and maturity. It is a story of several people in London, struggling with elements of their lives (marriage, children, poverty, crime, and the future). This is a look at a difference in class and social and economic levels in the world today. This is the movie that CRASH tried to be, but this time it does not feel like a contrived TV movie. It feels like a piercing look at our culture and at human beings in general. The movie receives a release later this month and I hope everyone has a chance to check it out.

2. PAN’S LABYRINTH – Guillermo Del Toro
This is a fantasy and a fairytale intertwined with the real world. At it’s core, this is a dark and beautiful fairytale of young Ofelia who, while in the midst of a war, escapes to a world of wonder, that parallels that journey taken by another girl in another fantasy. There are direct parallels between PAN’S LABYRINTH and ALICE IN WONDERLAND. That is just one of the many layers that makes this not only one of the best films of the year, but one of the most engaging scripts of the year as well.

STRANGER THAN FICTION is a clever, unique story about a man named Harold Crick and his watch. This is the setup and it unwinds into a wonderfully original tale that can’t help but remind me of ADAPTATION. Harold finds himself able to hear the narration of the story that is his life. The odd part is that the writer of his story is the author Karen Eiffel, who exists in his world. As she writes her book, Harold becomes aware that the end of his “story” is a tragic one. This bizarre story is just the setup for a really personal and heart-warming tale of a man that discovers the joy in his life and the joy that the world has to offer. However brilliant ADAPTAION was as a script, it felt distant and removed, which is where STRANGE THAN FICTION succeeds without falling into the trap of cliché and melodrama. In the category of “Original Screenplay”, there is no more original story that succeeds on as many levels as this one.


Blogger lucdaring said...

Mr. Humber. I know that at times we strongly disagree on films, but your list of best original screenplays is the list that should be up for Academy Awards this year, with STRANGER THAN FICTION taking home the statue. I have yet to see UNITED 93 and BREAKING AND ENTERING (I am a mere mortal and don't get to see films before they come out), but if they are as fine a choice as the other 3, I will be more than happy to give them their day in court.


9:34 PM  

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