Category Archives: Film


We used to look up and wonder about our place in the stars;
Now all we do is look down and worry about our place in the dirt.


We saw Interstellar today.

It was as visually stunning as we hoped it would be, maybe not as science-y as we expected, and far more spiritual than any reviewers so far had let on.

Punk is an avid reader of all things pertaining to outer space. He says the effects were realistic, in keeping with what he’s read pertaining to worm holes and time warps. And my stomach actually dropped at one point, just like on a roller coaster! Kind of awesome to know a movie can achieve that.

Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) is a farmer, but not by choice. He’s a former NASA pilot, “a pioneer and an explorer,” living in a bleak post-space-race semi-apocalypse in which crops are not only failing but becoming extinct. It’s only a matter of time before humankind will be wiped out.

Cooper’s daughter, Murphy, is a smart kid with a “ghost” in her room. Synopsis/mini-spoiler: she leads him to decipher a message that takes him on a mission to save the human race.

It’s interesting that the script speaks often of other beings, benevolent ones. Why are they helping us?

And the ghost. I thought more than once of the Holy Ghost of religious lore. No one ever mentions God or gods, but my mind was constantly going there. Even the dialogue regarding the topic of love was reminiscent of sermons I’ve heard about how “God is love.”

Names are also significant in the movie. Murphy is named after Murphy’s Law: what can happen will happen.

There are other overt references to things being named after people, too. My favorite was one of the explorers sent out ahead of Cooper called Mann. Mann is touted as brilliant and brave, “the reason we’re going out there.” What eventually becomes of him is an interesting commentary.

I can’t tell! Don’t want to ruin it!

Let’s just say Christopher Nolan has some hopeful ideas about the resilience of mankind and the possibilities of going beyond being mere caretakers of the earth.

I can’t watch a movie anymore without thinking of Save the Cat! Some parts of Interstellar don’t fully conform to Blake Snyder’s model. It’s long. The Pope in the pool comes late. It’s intense. The “Fun and Games” portion is little more than a deep breath before we get right back into the action. The final image isn’t a mirror image of the opening. It doesn’t matter. Other parts are spot on, particularly the “All is Lost” moments and the way the B story reflects and eventually meshes with the A story. It’s truly well done, so let’s just think of Interstellar as an exception that proves the rule.

I thoroughly enjoyed this entertaining, emotional, intelligent film. Watch it in IMAX for the full visual effect, and plan to go out for stellar conversation (or maybe a bit of stargazing) afterwards.


Star Wars Tanka

Tuesday morning in the dunes…


Official sighting:
Star Wars Episode VII,
or Jedi mind tricks…

Photo evidence:
Large grey mechanical disc —
The Empire Strikes Back?

Hollywood sources:
“Scenes of Tatooine would shoot
in Abu Dhabi.”

“Never coming back,”
mused Star Wars’ Luke Skywalker.
Storytellers: “Wrong.”

“Business as usual,”
said Emirati farmer.
J.J. Abrams: “Wrong.”

Hidden from locals;
no one at the gas station
was aware of set.

Haikuisation, Oulipost prompt #17
Source text: ‘Star Wars’ Set Spotted in Abu Dhabi Desert

Beat Sheet Mini

Beat Sheet for a Novel is the #1 post on this blog. Meaning it gets viewed every day, but is it helpful? Beats me.

In an effort to be useful, I thought I’d share my BEAT SHEET MINI. This is a quick fill in the blank beat sheet you can use to beat out any film, screenplay, or novel.

The (#s) are minute marks at which events happen. For example, the midpoint of a movie/screenplay occurs around minute/page 55.

Novels, being longer than screenplays, tend to stick to the script only for the first few beats— you get the opening image on page 1, a theme by page 5 or so, and you’re well into the set-up by page 10.

After this, books get more longwinded with each beat. No page 55 midpoints. We’d be disappointed if there were. But it just so happens in The Truth of Me (reviewed yesterday), a 114 page children’s book, the turning point comes in the last sentence on page 55. Patricia MacLachlan must be a Blake Snyder fan!

I use the BEAT SHEET MINI for two things:

  • As a bookmark, to keep track of key plot points of novels I read
  • As a mini-outline, for fleshing out a story idea I might write

Here’s the PDF:

Beat Sheet Mini

Let me know in the comments if and how you use it.