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MCN Columnists

Movie City Indie

Wes Craven on SCREAM, Career, Fear And “The Edged Weapon” (1996)

Calm, bearded, loquacious, Wes Craven is such a smart, soothing professorial presence, you almost want to, well, scream. That’s the name of the newest thriller by the creator of Freddie Krueger, the “nightmare” hero of the most successful series of slasher movies. Through the years, Craven’s tried to get beyond stock genre movies, but with…

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Oliver Sacks In Conversation With David Milch (65m)

Oliver Sacks in conversation with David Milch from Ted Habte-Gabr on Vimeo.

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Pride

Sundance Seen Part 2: The Cooled Take

Sundance 2015, I told myself, would be a festival of no quick takes, some tweets, lots of movies, interviews, conversations, unforeseen run-ins and path-crossings, hundreds of photographs, and a few more movies. A noble experiment. Time to consider, reflect. Of course, afterwards, I was quickly reminded that there’s good reason for buckling down in the midst of all the sensory input of a film festival and churning copy and burning digital files. What happens once you’re back on the ground? Sure, plant your ass in the chair and type-type-type until all is tidy and done. But not so fast.

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Sundance Seen Part 1

The whispering of powder from a dull quiet sky. Snowflakes fall between the screenings. Then the sun is bright and powder dusts off the slopes.

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Best of 2014: A Top 40

Against the odds, good and great movies are made. And shown. And seen. And listed numerically, if not wholly ranked. Here’s one critic’s enhanced top forty for 2014.

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Quote Unquotesee all »

“The core fear is what can happen to you, personally. Your body. That’s what horror films deal with, precisely. We are a very thin skin wrapped around a pumping heart and guts. At any given moment it can come down to that, be it diseases, or somebody’s assault, or war, or a car wreck. You could be reduced to the simple laws of physics and your body’s vulnerability. The edged weapon is the penultimate weapon to disclose that reality to you.”
~ Wes Craven, 1996, promoting Scream

MAMET
Well, that, to me, is always the trick of dramaturgy; theoretically, perfectly, what one wants to do is put the protagonist and the audience in exactly the same position. The main question in drama, the way I was taught, is always what does the protagonist want. That’s what drama is. It comes down to that. It’s not about theme, it’s not about ideas, it’s not about setting, but what the protagonist wants. What gives rise to the drama, what is the precipitating event, and how, at the end of the play, do we see that event culminated? Do we see the protagonist’s wishes fulfilled or absolutely frustrated? That’s the structure of drama. You break it down into three acts.

INTERVIEWER
Does this explain why your plays have so little exposition?

MAMET
Yes. People only speak to get something. If I say, Let me tell you a few things about myself, already your defenses go up; you go, Look, I wonder what he wants from me, because no one ever speaks except to obtain an objective. That’s the only reason anyone ever opens their mouth, onstage or offstage. They may use a language that seems revealing, but if so, it’s just coincidence, because what they’re trying to do is accomplish an objective… The question is where does the dramatist have to lead you? Answer: the place where he or she thinks the audience needs to be led. But what does the character think? Does the character need to convey that information? If the answer is no, then you’d better cut it out, because you aren’t putting the audience in the same position with the protagonist. You’re saying, in effect, Let’s stop the play. That’s what the narration is doing—stopping the play… It’s action, as Aristotle said. That’s all that it is—exactly what the person does. It’s not what they “think,” because we don’t know what they think. It’s not what they say. It’s what they do, what they’re physically trying to accomplish on the stage. Which is exactly the same way we understand a person’s character in life—not by what they say, but by what they do. Say someone came up to you and said, I’m glad to be your neighbor because I’m a very honest man. That’s my character. I’m honest, I like to do things, I’m forthright, I like to be clear about everything, I like to be concise. Well, you really don’t know anything about that guy’s character. Or the person is onstage, and the playwright has him or her make those same claims in several subtle or not-so-subtle ways, the audience will say, Oh yes, I understand their character now; now I understand that they are a character. But in fact you don’t understand anything. You just understand that they’re jabbering to try to convince you of something.
~ David Mamet

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