Posts Tagged ‘character

26
Apr
18

Digital Painting Sampler 4-26-2018

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I’ve been painting up a storm since I purchased Clip Studio Paint Pro (which is the closest software I’ve found to my previous, glorious photo editing program from the turn of the millennium, Photo Studio 2000).  [On that note, I still miss the ability to make text transparent with ease.  If it can be done with CSPP, I have not figured out how.]

I’ve been contemplating opening a separate portfolio/gallery space/account for my personal artworks.  But, I can’t seem to resist sharing a quick sampling.

These two were simpler pieces composed with silhouettes I honed.  The lines are result of a “burst” tool.  And, the rest is from an imaging/paintbrush tool (and text).

Can you guess who the following famous face and TV/movie characters are supposed to be, even if the gender may vary?  [Or, in the case of one image, a famous face posing as a movie character.]  In all of these cases, there should be adequate clues.

 

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Previous to the above, I have been taking my fashion design skills to the next level by upgrading my old MS Paint boot designs.  Here’s just one of the many.  I went all out with the old GI*Joe action figure package back, too, so buyers (should these ever get made into a fashion line) can have collector cards for all of their purchases.  Yeah.  😛  Or, it’s a fun way to advertise the details before purchase.

classified-GIJoe-metalhead-knee-boot-shag-sharpshooter-anklet-profilecard-2-ap-CSPP-8501100-11CJ

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14
Mar
18

Help Me Think of Names!

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And, get famous (whenever I publish) by having YOUR name (or a pen name you supply for yourself) worked into my latest book (project).  You could wind up a primary character, opposite the protagonist(s), a neighbor, CEO, taxi driver or police officer, for example.

The names I direly need are LAST/FAMILY names.  So, go nuts combining letters, words and/or sounds to get something special.

I am looking for:

  1. A name that incorporates the word “BUN.”  BUN could be any part of the name, start, finish or middle.
  2. A name that incorporates the word “TRESS” or “TRES.”
  3. A name that incorporates the word “LOCKE” or “LOCH.”
  4. A combination of three names (female first, female middle and last/family) that create a word or name with the initials.  IE Jane Ellen Trisket = JET

Submit your ideas to my mailbox (on the contact page) or in the comment section below.

Get brainstorming.

11
Aug
14

Ending a Story (Book or Movie); Which Is Better?

Have you ever finished reading a book or seeing a movie and wrinkled your brow when some aspect wasn’t resolved as thoroughly as you would have liked?

Some might say there’s a writing strategy in this. It leaves the door open for a sequel. If you become invested in the characters you just met, surely you’ll buy into another “peep show” to see them, again. But, what if there is no sequel? Or, what if the sequel simply brushes the previous unfinished details under a rug? How cruel is that?

Which is better?

~Ending a story/movie with bits and pieces unresolved in hopes of resolving them in the next installment?

If this works, you–as the creator/s–can keep leaving things unfinished until you have to stop writing for whatever reason. You–as a viewer/reader–can’t complain much about dissatisfaction because there’s a fair chance another chapter will come along and answer your nagging questions.

OR

~Ending a story/movie with every potential loose end tied up so the whole is as satisfying as it will get on its own regardless of any possible sequel/s?

This version (in movies) can be further enhanced (to my delight) with a little scene after the credits which “hooks” the viewer with hope for a sequel, adds to character appeal (like an encore at a concert/play) or (if you start rolling the credits with one little/big question left unanswered) fills in the gap to complete the story. If there are more books/films, you–as a viewer/reader–may pursue them, provided you enjoyed the (or one of the) previous installment/s. It’s likely you’ll find some more appealing than others.

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[Some might say I impacted your decision with my previous choice of words.]

Would you like my lengthy opinion and a little information about myself? Then, by all means, carry on.

I personally prefer the latter though I am tempted to try the former. I like to think–in the few pieces I’ve completed and in just about anything I write–my purposes for the plot and characters (and any other storytelling aspect that can provoke thought “outside the box”) have been satisfied.

When I think of police shows on TV and the few mysteries I’ve read, I suppose misdirection and empty interviews are part of the chase. But–and maybe this is why I struggle with reading/writing them–I get a little headache from “wasting” time (and paper/resources) on matters that won’t impact the ending or have closure on their own. So, if I do include some (initially) fruitless search/interview–if I pursue a suspect with a criminal record only to find they are not tied to the present case–I’d like to follow up with some scene or mention of the party involved either carrying on with life or reconnecting with the “detective” (either to express thanks or to seek revenge/retaliation for wasting their time). [There’s not much I can do/add if a location is void of clues/evidence.]

Sometimes, I am so eager to reveal information that I cut a story short and wonder if there was any point in writing. There’s a plot. And, I’m sure more happens with and around the character/s. But, I only see the “big reveal.” Who wants to read a three-page-or-less story which basically amounts to a character profile? In an effort to counter this dismay, I have tried adding “filler” only to feel guilty of wasting paper/reading time. In a different light, it might look like a “slice of life,” a moment in time with the character/s intended to improve viewers’/readers’ perspective of personality. Hopefully, you’ll feel as if the characters are sharing space with you. And, if you like them, you’ll want them to be your friends. But, the tendency with that filler is to get carried away with dialogue that has no impact on the direction of the story. It’s just talk, the busy-ness some of us experience in our heads when we wake from our slumber. If it’s not talk, it’s action that feels like a dance thrown in to change the present mood without any significant impact on the main story’s direction. It’s like pausing from chasing someone to study a butterfly. I’m not sure what fruit the little branch should produce, but I don’t like dead ends (unless I am crafting a pick-a-path in which a few are expected where decisions are misguided/impulsive).

Other times, I get a little carried away with lacing/weaving little tidbits of information into my writing which, hopefully, will make the reader pause and think. Some are references to something I’ve heard, read or seen (better known as “pop culture references”). The rest are innocent-looking pieces of a bigger puzzle/disguised keys to locks found elsewhere. I’ve been forced to write pick-a-paths because of this (and because of my other struggles with making key decisions sans “co-writer” input, including sensible/clever character names). And, while I stash these “easter eggs” in various corners of a fairly simple maze–turning the simple into something fairly more complex–a part of me wishes to embellish details with theatrical flourishes and subplots until what was supposed to be a light-weight paperback suddenly feels a bit thick and heavy. Either I write these massive pick-a-path books and dismiss the potentially unnecessary cost/use of paper and ink…or I need to cut my writing back somehow and erase nearly every trace of creativity, leaving only the most basic details to identify a person, place or object. Or, I make the crucial decisions and write one version of a story to the end before walking away from it.

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I refer you to a particular martial artist who likes to do his own stunts–and sometimes fumbles with his English–but also who ends a dubbed movie without much–if any–resolution. I’ve heard this is the common difference between American and “foreign” films. The former like to “dramatize” stories with scenes lacking action and/or filled with sentimental dialogue. The latter have a tendency to roll the credits after a fight, explosion or (if it’s a Bollywood film) dance sequence (for examples). [Because we all feel like dancing at the end of a story…even if it’s a sad or scary ending. Right? Well, ‘not me. The “big boss” has been defeated. Who cares what happens to the love interest and her/his hero? I’d sure like to know what became of the couple and any other characters thrown into the story who might have had more to say/do after their last appearance.]

And then, there is this series of hefty mystery novels I’ve been reading over the past two years, heavy on pages and details about real estate, light on essential content and closure. Throw in a tendency to wrench the whole shebang with a surprise account of something that happened some time ago–which connects to the key suspect you may not have suspected until then–near the end of the book, and you’ve got a not-so-nice little pot of guilt for spending time with three-hundred-plus pages sitting next to you while you recover from the gripping rush of the last fifty or so. [Don’t even get me started on printed errors missed by poor editing beneath the banner of “best author.” Nor do I want to ramble on about an obsession with a certain beverage and/or how nearly every character smokes so heavily that I find myself choking.]

I’ve read seventeen in the series which (to my knowledge) is only outnumbered by–perhaps–Nancy Drew and/or the Hardy Boys. [I’ve never read so many books in any two years of my life. I can’t be sure, but I may have read fewer books all four years I attended high school.] Maybe only three or four have sufficiently won me over. And, even they lack something. I started reading them as a sort of research for a project of my own. I have stuck with them because 1) they help counter some anxieties I suffer, 2) I am slow to shift gears in pursuit of other books I have yet to identify/select and 3) I keep hoping I will repeat my early triumph with a volume that I’d be inclined to read again later. My greatest satisfaction was in identifying the “villain” early on in the first book…followed by what may have been my biggest disgust and/or eye roll when that character did something unnecessary/unpleasant. There was a nice little red flag (or “red herring” in this case) that put this individual at the top of my suspect list. And, while other characters tugged at my attention, I never took my eyes off that one. Outside of this pursuit, there were a few others which seemed vexing and incomplete.

I suppose giving the layout of every road, building and physical action (including every detail of something as simple as leaving a room/house or visiting a restroom) helps with making a movie (if the visuals match the text exactly or if no one minds certain details being painfully altered). [And, I suppose “sex sells” if we’re to believe what some say. But, I like my sex scenes left subtle/suggestive and properly placed between characters who have sufficiently set the mood…not thrown in at some random location to break up an otherwise uneventful scene or to fill a quota for sales.] Maybe I am just ill-informed/inexperienced or lacking in imagination and unable to generate such accurate information. But, couldn’t some pages be saved by eliminating the manufacturers of building materials, the impact of moisture on a surface (which in no apparent way affects the story) and the exacted routes (including street names/numbers) a character takes while driving (or running or walking)? Couldn’t the house simply be small and white in new or weathered condition? Couldn’t the rain hitting the rooftop simply be that, be the crushing blow to some character’s life or be a metaphor for something else? Couldn’t the character drive a “winding path” across the state over a designated length of time (if it matters) with minimal mention of scenery to let readers know what sort of terrain is being traversed? Couldn’t someone fetch a glass of water without noting irrelevant details of the scenery and/or how their hands perform the task in what may be a not-so-unique way? Or, am I wasting my time picking on someone who others value for that precision?

The good person in me says “leave it be” because we all do things the way we’re told/taught or what feels right. But, some part of me itches to ask these questions.

 

[If you find any incomplete sentences, I apologize.  I started writing this in a huff and posted it without going back to check.  But, do let me know in case I don’t remind myself:D]

11
Feb
14

Dragon Inn Theater and Dragon Tattoo, Too–My Recent DVD Views Review

Among the lot from my most recent stop to rent DVDs, I just finished watching “G.I. Joe:  Retaliation”, “Goodbye, Dragon Inn” and “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” (the original Swedish version).  Here are my thoughts:

G.I. Joe:  Retaliation

Synopsis:  The Joe team gets ambushed after locking away Cobra Commander and Destro, and the remaining members of both teams duke it out over a nuclear weapons scare.  New faces abound with some new nifty technology tricks (namely Firefly’s homing explosives which look like…wait for it…fireflies).

The gritty combat action and Cobra plots were better than in the first film.  [However, the fight scenes with Snake Eyes were not any better.]  Though relieved not to see so much goofy computer animation, cinematography didn’t impress me as much this time.  I still don’t quite understand the need to wipe out the G.I. Joe team, change CC and oust Destro (supposedly the original cast who apparently did not care to do another film in the series?).  But then, film makers did the same thing with Mortal Kombat, and we all know how that went.  No third movie was made.

Bruce Willis (Joe) was amusing.  Adrianne P. (Lady Jaye) and Elodie Y. (Jinx) were beautiful.  And, Firefly was brilliant (aside from the corny boat chase near the end).  But, considering the cast changes and the sad end? to Zartan, the poo quickly piled up on this one.  I can only hope–if there is a third movie–it’s a major improvement with some of the original cast.  [I’m looking at you, Joseph Gordon-Levitt (the original CC) and Sienna Miller (a great Baroness minus the earrings).]

TGI a rental.

Goodbye, Dragon Inn

Synopsis:  In case you’re completely clueless (as I was until I stumbled upon it), this looks like an independent/film festival (small screen) film about a small movie theater running a martial arts film on its closing night (before demolition or reconstruction due to its crumbling condition and lack of staff).  Only a limping female ticket clerk and a young male projectionist (who doesn’t appear until the last third of the 80 minute movie) manage the theater.  A tourist escapes the rain outside and discovers an assortment of fellow wanderers who seem less interested in the movie and lost in themselves.  In the end, there is a hint of unfulfilled romance and a fitting song.

I get the feeling the creator/s of this film wanted to capture a favorite theater the way they experienced it before the place was shut down and took advantage of permitted access to film the various corridors and mysterious storage areas (which are never explained).  I did a similar take on the closing of a place I previously worked.  My camera wasn’t of the same quality, but my footage amounted to as much without the cast of characters supplied quietly into this film.  And, when I composed a montage/music video with my footage, I did some editing to make it more interesting.  This, on the other hand, is more like raw footage on quality film and a virtual movie theater experience.  You can sit behind someone for a few minutes and see what that feels like.  And, the moments are quite random (without much continuity).

There is very little dialogue.  In fact, the majority of talk is handled by the film within the film which provides subtitles.  And, while the camera shots and angles are decent, there are long, lagging clips that could easily put some to sleep.  This is beyond a “sleeper” yet it inspired me to write something and think about working with the crew to re-create the film with more content.  It’s a good concept.  But, unless my DVD player was missing some special features, the overall product was significantly lacking.

Definitely a late night rental you watch with that special someone when you can’t get to the theater and want to drift asleep together.

 

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2009 Swedish original film)

Synopsis:  A reporter loses his job and gets a minor prison sentence after digging up dirt on a corrupt wealthy businessman.  In his hiatus from work, he is hired by another wealthy man to solve the mystery of his missing “daughter” (Harriet)…but not solve the mystery (as Mr. Vanger says).  Meanwhile, a 24 year-old, unorthodox (punk) computer hacker working for another publication digs into the reporter’s case and ends up working with him (in more ways than one) to resolve Harriet’s disappearance.  Rated R for good reason.

In short, the story is decent–but not very unique–with its share of dramatic cuts and music.  The characters are abundant and fairly interesting…but their development is lacking.  [This may just be another “You need to read the book” thing about another one of these book-to-film projects.]  The key moment that triggered this negative thought is when the reporter and his young hacker assistant decide to have a spontaneous sex scene.  Like other “murder” mysteries I’ve been reading as of late, these sex scenes are the worst kind of surprises completely misplaced (unless you consider the young woman’s actions from a therapist’s point-of-view).  Other than the intimate exchanges, the hacker and reporter DO make a somewhat refreshing team.  But, their lack of depth makes them less valued than the average RPG  video game characters.

Also, the usual suspects–a large enough family seeking money from their elders–are almost glazed over and diminished by a few graphic (though not quite graphic enough for the next letter rating, X) scenes which seem included purely for “realistic” shock value.  Justice is not exactly served.  [Even jail seems…WiFi pleasant?]  And, we are left wondering what the sequels could possibly entail (while I think leaving Harriet missing until the next “chapter” would have been a smarter ending).  [I fast forwarded through most of the violent sex which would have been discomforting to watch in the theater.  And, in my personal opinion, the girl should have stopped when she played the video for the cops to find.]

Is it poor writing if I figure out who the killer within the first few minutes he/she is mentioned?  Or, am I just a great detective/guesser?

I will likewise view the sequels and skim through/over the American version of the first film in time.  But, save the ticket price and rent/borrow these for popcorn thrillers with someone you trust to sit next to you.

 

The Girl Who Played with Fire (TGWTDT part 2)

Synopsis:  After solving a missing person’s case as a dynamic, intimate and yet distanced personally duo, Lisbeth and Mikael must work together to clear her name from a murder charge tied to her former guardian (who she cannot leave alone after he assaulted her).  The murder leads to ghosts from Lisbeth’s past which drag her friends into the fire before the girl (technically a woman in her twenties) gets some (more) revenge.

The second installment of the story is slightly less disturbing than the first.  In this one, the sex is purely consensual.  Yet, is it necessary?  Not really.  Even if Miriam Wu (Yasmine) is an attractive nude, the nudity is not key to the story.  Thus I think it could be veiled.  The fire comes into play as we learn a bit of Lisbeth’s personal history and uncover some faces from the past who surprisingly reappear.

In the first movie, there was extensive PC hacking and (internet) research as well as active interaction between (main) characters (even if they were far apart).  There was also a large family that briefly appeared as suspects.  The sequel lacks some of the active “enjoyment” of the research/investigation and involves friends of Lisbeth in perils that remind me of a cheesy 80’s martial arts film.  It didn’t really grab me until the last twenty or thirty minutes when Lisbeth’s family came into the picture.  Her friend, the reporter from Millenium, seemed of less significance until the end, too.

In short, you could see this one and skip the first if you want to avoid the most graphic violence/sex (though the DVD Lisbeth makes reappears in every segment/film).  But, you might miss a few small details and introductions.

 

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest (TGWTDT part 3)

Synopsis:  Lisbeth’s past leaves her battered in a hospital with her father not far away and looking to rub her out.  Instead, someone from his secret organization kills him and misses a shot at Lisbeth before a major investigation into that organization and the crimes committed with/against Lisbeth unfolds.  Mikael must make some “tough” choices to protect those he values.  And, Lisbeth must decide, once more, how far she will take her thirst for vengeance while clearing her name in court.

I’d almost give the same advice for the third film that I gave for the second if not for the key details about Lisbeth’s father and family in that previous sequel.  The last quarter of that film sets us up for this film.  [The part played by Lisbeth’s friends in part two seems to have no impact whatsoever on this third chapter.]  And, here we have a hospital scene that turns into a lengthy court trial injected with Mikael action until Lisbeth is free to do as she pleases in the final minutes.  As with the first film, the “rap up” disappoints me a bit.  This sequel was meatier (had more content/research) than the last but wasn’t much more entertaining.  At least, it was void of sexual abuse/content (aside from the brief reappearance of the rape DVD) and thus could have dropped the R rating if not for a few other odd bits of violence (one of which was a bit silly/unbelievable near the end).

As a whole, the trilogy feels more “episodic” and could be seen on TV as part of a larger series.  It’s refreshing to see such different characters working together with modern technology.  But, the “cases” needing resolution were nothing new, and the R-rated tidbits were pointless other than to justify Lisbeth’s abuse and sexual nature/comfort.  I’d be tempted to work with someone (since the author is technically deceased) on sequels/further adventures of Lisbeth/Mikael.  But, before I judge too much, I am going to suggest reading the books (which I have not yet) to compare stories.  As I said with my review of the first film, these movies might just be “cliff notes” of a more detailed story we should be reading first.

 

The Incredible Burt Wonderstone

Synopsis:  Steve Carell plays a troubled, aging magician who was once a bullied boy before he became an outdated spectacle of an ever-changing craft.  He works with his long-time friend Anton (Steve Buscemi) and female assistant Jane (the lovely Olivia Wilde) who replaces countless other blonde bimbos the inconsiderate and highly waxed magician hires (and sleeps with).  And, he repeatedly clashes with a self-torture artist named Steve Gray (played by Jim Carrey).  The late James Gandolfini plays a hotel “big cheese” who seems to hold the fate of these magicians in his wealthy hands.  Down on his luck, Burt must remember why he became a magician with the help of his mentor Rance (Alan Arkin) and the reappearing Jane (Wilde) before he loses his friend (Buscemi) forever.  Meanwhile, Steve Gray (Carrey) attempts to humiliate Burt at every turn as he seeks the hotel magician throne.

Carell is a lucky man to work so closely with such lovely women (considering he’s married).  As he did with Anne Hathaway in “Get Smart”, he has some amusing intimacy with Jane (Wilde) which could have gone far worse (raunchy) than it did.  My guess is Olivia took this job to expand her unusual range of characters/roles.

In short, I laughed sufficiently and would have enjoyed this in a theater with the right company.  There are a few disturbing moments (including the ending which has that “so wrong” feeling though it strikes me as still slightly funny) and cheesy tidbits which get washed over by the sheer unsettling demeanor of Carell in character (who has never looked scarier).  Wonderstone rivals Carell’s Evan character from “Bruce Almighty” who was a stiff jerk of a news anchor, climbing the corporate ladder while stealing Bruce’s (Carrey’s) thunder.

 

Cloud Atlas

Synopsis:  A number of famous (and some not so famous) faces question the possibility of deja vu as they cross paths in past, present and futuristic lives which repeatedly test love and truth.  In each time period featured, two characters (not always who you’d expect) are soul mates, at least one person helps the soul mates and another one or more create obstacles for those soul mates to conquer.  Each loving pair tries to achieve some grand revelation of truth to satisfy their souls against all odds.  And, each achieves some measure of success as well as hardship/failure.  Throughout the series of lives and events, a piece of music–written (as we see it) by a young bisexual man–acts like a cosmic string that binds these people together.

It’s a bit difficult to grasp from the start.  The worst aspect might be how the time periods shift so often and at random.  You just about figure out what’s happening in one place and get jetted off to another with the same actors in different roles.  Certain time periods have languages that require some thought to process (particularly the far future time period).  But, after the first thirty minutes or so, you (hopefully) start to see where events are going and how these lives connect and intersect.  One connection I found particularly interesting involves Jim Broadbent playing the naive “victim” chasing an old flame in one story while playing the cunning “thief”/”villain” in another.  In the latter, we find the young pianist who writes the “Cloud Atlas Sextet” and becomes Broadbent’s victim, and, in the former, the same young man plays the wife of Broadbent’s (character’s) brother who (spoiler) foolishly slept with the other brother.  If you made sense of that much, you’re off to a good start.

Since it required watching twice to better understand some of what was being said and happening, I’d recommend this as a rental with plenty of brain food (snacks) and, ideally, some company of the opposite sex.

 




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