Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Se7en


Working at home has many advantages. (And disadvantages, for that matter.) One big advantage for me is the ability to watch movies while I work.

Last Christmas, Ereisa bought me a little 13 inch TV with a DVD player built-in. It sits right next to my monitor so I look over from time to time as I work. I have a fairly big DVD collection (not as big as I’d like), but I usually watch movies when I feel like I need an inspirational kick in the pants. Movies like Star Wars, Goodfellas, Mean Streets, anything by Tarantino, and the movie I watched today. Se7en.

Se7en came out in 1995 and it still blows me away every time I watch it. It always did, actually. I didn’t see it in the theaters, but the first time I saw it I was still living at home with my folks and we had the good ol’ Steal-Per-View. (That little black box that unscrambled HBO, Pay Per View, whatever. It suddenly stopped working one day but it was cool when we had it.) Anyway, Se7en was one of the Pay Per View movies and it just got played over and over again all day long for like a month. I remember sitting down and watching it and it was one of those movies that just made you say: “Holy shit.” I watched it darn near every day thereafter for days.

Not only did David Fincher do a beautiful job directing it but the screenwriter: Andrew Kevin Walker really gave me a lesson in screenwriting. One of the things I’ve heard a million times about screenwriting is the idea of taking the viewer and making him/her think they know what is going to happen and then just completely flip that idea around so that they have no idea what is going to happen next.

Tarantino is a master at this. Pulp Fiction is a movie about stories you’ve seen a billion times. The boxer who is supposed to take the fall and doesn’t, the guy who is ordered by his boss to take his wife out on a date while he’s out of town, the hitman who thinks he has an easy job but it ends up becoming a total nightmare. The scenarios go on and on. Kill Bill is plain and simply a revenge movie. But Tarantino is such and amazing writer that he takes these played out story ideas and turns them into something you’ve never seen before.

Walker did the same kind of thing on Se7en. At first glance it’s a buddy cop movie, or another serial killer flick. But everything about that movie is the total opposite of what you think will happen. He even lures you into thinking you know the pattern of the story during the second act, but he blows that out of the water when Jon Doe walks into the police department and turns himself in. The killer turns himself in during the second act! It’s just such a great movie and it’s written so well. It never fails to inspire me and every time I watch it I feel like writing.

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