Archives for posts with tag: screenplays

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I’ve been looking forward to seeing Ruby Sparks (2012) and finally got my hands on a copy. Starring and written by Zoe Kazan, the movie is smart, entertaining, and thought-provoking — especially for writers.

In the story, Calvin Weir-Fields, played by Kazan’s real-life love, the always fascinating and appealing Paul Dano, is approaching 30 and 10 years past his breakthrough novel written when he was a teenage wunderkind. Now he’s afraid of failure and can’t write. His analyst, Dr. Rosenthal — in a charming cameo by Elliott Gould — tells Calvin to write about someone who will love him unconditionally. Calvin asks whether it’s okay if he writes “badly” — and Rosenthal gives him permission to write “very badly.”

Freed from his inhibitions, Calvin creates his dream woman — Ruby Sparks (Kazan) — and a novel begins to flow out of him. He falls in love with his creation to the point that she becomes real — appearing one morning in his kitchen. At first, he thinks he’s lost his mind — but when other people can see Ruby, he realizes he has dreamed her into existence.

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After the first blush of romance, problems crop up — until Calvin figures out he can get Ruby to do anything he desires, just by writing a new page in the novel, which he types on a vintage Olympia typewriter (nice touch!). The movie is at its best in the darker passages when exploring relationship dynamics — and how couples engage in power struggles and negotiate truces.

I enjoyed the film’s literary references and antecedents — Pygmalion, Frankenstein, Pinocchio, The Wizard of Oz, Alice in Wonderland — but Ruby Sparks has an original point of view with new things to say. I also enjoyed the L.A. locations — especially Calvin’s minimalist home near Griffith Park and several scenes at Skylight Books.

Writers are always faced with philosophical, moral, emotional, and intellectual dilemmas related to their creations. As we write, our characters take on lives of their own, and when finished the book takes on a life of its own. What is the writer’s part in the equation? Ruby Sparks helps us explore this question and many more.

Hats off to Zoe Kazan for a terrific screenplay and winning performance!

Find Ruby Sparks at Amazon.com.

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Since February 2nd is Groundhog Day, today I’ve been exploring all things groundhog-related. One of my finds was The Magic of Groundhog Day: Transform Your Life Day by Day, a 2008 book by Paul Hannam with a foreword by screenwriter Danny Rubin.

Here’s a blurb about the book from Library Journal Review (2008): “Using the 1993 movie Groundhog Day as a springboard to illustrate the principle of repetitive thought patterns, professional entrepreneur and lecturer Hannam (Oxford University) discusses how to change one’s inner life to see the beauty in the world. According to Hannam, the ‘groundhog effect’ is the force that keeps people feeling stuck and powerless to change. Only by breaking free of this looplike effect, he posits, can they liberate themselves to enjoy healthy habits, relationships, and careers.”

Find the book at Amazon.com.

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When writing an earlier post about the 1993 movie GROUNDHOG DAY, I learned of a book I’ve always wanted to read — the inside story of this remarkable screenplay — and now I can. In How to Write Groundhog Day (released in 2012) screenwriter Danny Rubin pulls back the curtain on his inspiration for the script, his writing process, and how the screenplay navigated its way through Hollywood to GET MADE. The book includes the original screenplay, notes, scene sketches, and Rubin’s personal tour of the revision process. Find the ebook at Amazon.com.

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Hard to believe it’s been 20 years since the release of one of my all-time favorite movies — the charming, delightful, funny, profound, original GROUNDHOG DAY starring Bill Murray. And since today is February 2nd (for the uninitiated, the day marks the annual event in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, when a groundhog named Phil determines the number of weeks until spring by whether or not he casts a shadow), I encourage everyone to kick back and (if you can get your hands on a copy) watch this wonderful film.

Applause, applause for the gifted screenwriter of the brilliant script for this film — Danny Rubin. Visit Rubin at his website (dannyrubin.com), where he’s posted all kinds of fascinating material.