When the previews for Guardians of the Galaxy started showing up in theaters, I was struck by the ways they used Blue Swede’s “Hooked on a Feeling.” That song was a nutty novelty hit when I was a wee lad in 1974, and I wondered if anyone else in the theater even remembered the recording, much less felt the sense of nostalgia I did when I heard it. Would people think that “Hooked on a Feeling” was some kind of message from another planet? What could its inclusion in the trailers for a Marvel movie possibly mean, except that, obviously, Guardians of the Galaxy was not a movie to be taken entirely seriously? And yet, that song, and the aesthetic choice that led to its inclusion in the movie, is a key part of understanding the appeal of not just Guardians but of the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe project.
Like a lot of things with me these days, the first thing you have to understand about my reaction to Lucy is that I’m old. I’m old enough to have worked at a movie theater in New York when Subway was released, and watched its delirious blend of kinetic cinema, outlandish violence and heartsick romance repeatedly. I’m old enough to have gone to see La Femme Nikita in a movie theater, many times, thrilling to the many ways it was a vast improvement over Subway. I’m old enough to have felt frustrated over the past two decades as director Luc Besson built his gigantic company in France, became a big-budget producer, made computer-animated movies for children and only occasionally made what I’ll call “Luc Besson movies,” that unique blend of kinetic cinema, outlandish violence and heartsick romance that I fell in love with so many years ago. If nothing else, Lucy is a stunning return to form for Besson, at once a thrilling summation and a brilliant leap forward.
Many years ago, I was up for the gig writing the movie adaptation of Scott Westerfeld’s wonderful sci-fi (then) trilogy Uglies, Pretties and Specials. I liked the books a lot and the idea, I thought, was a real fire-cracker: a dystopian future, a sci-fi trilogy, with a female protagonist, where each movie in the trilogy would examine the same society from a different point of view. It had never been done before and it was a huge opportunity. The producer who brought me the books was a respected big-budget sci-fi producer, and the project was set up at a genuine big-deal studio. All I needed to do was get a firm handle on how to tell the story and there was no way the project could not move forward.
Big news in Todd Land, I and my writing partner Holly Golden have sold Medusa, an original pitch to the nice people at Sony Animation. That’s partly why things have been quiet here at What Does the Protagonist Want? We’ll be writing the screenplay, and the movie is going to be directed by Lauren Faust, who created My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. So we’ll be appealing to both Greek Mythology fans and Bronies. You can read all about it here!
Faithful readers will recall that, a couple of years ago, I co-wrote and directed a movie, Blood Relative, was bought by some folks and re-titled The Occupants. Oddly enough, I’m okay with that title, it suits the movie well.
The movie is now available through iTunes, my favorite music platform, and through Google Play, which is my favorite place to buy Rolling Stones live albums. Watch it today! And, feel free to comment here on whether or not you liked it!
Novelist, performance artist and Friend of Alcott Lisa Lerner has started making short films about the ways that a little girl experiences the adult world. The first, “Underwear,” is now up at the Youtube website, and you should watch it.
Homeless and jobless, Llewyn goes once again to Jean, not to stay or even to crash, but just to rid himself of his belongings. Jean, surprisingly, shows a little concern for where Llewyn might stay. Until he forgets when he scheduled her abortion for, that is.
Llewyn, newly discarded from the world of show business, trudges back to New York in this cold, cold American winter.He hitches a ride with a guy going east, driving so the guy can sleep. The guy, who seems to be a regular working-class guy, one of the millions who, in Llewyn’s mind, merely “exist,” trusts Llewyn to handle the situation. Which, in its way, is the saddest joke of the movie.
Llewyn’s album, and Dave Van Ronk’s. Complete with cat.
In the middle of the night, outside of Chicago, Llewyn falls asleep in the passenger seat. When he wakes up, the car has stopped and the police are in the middle of arresting Johnny Five. Spoiler alert!
So Llewyn, for the first time in a while, is now truly homeless, due to circumstances entirely within his control. For the next few days, his home is Al Cody’s car, which is being driven to Chicago by a couple of friends of Al’s. He takes his cat, which is not the Gorfein’s cat and not his cat, in fact we don’t know whose cat it is, and neither does Llewyn. The cat is, currently, just another orphan of the storm of Llewyn’s life. Spoiler alert!