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Film Review: Still Walking

Scott Myers of Go Into The Story, the Official Screenwriting Blog of the Black List, is not only very generous in sharing his vast knowledge about writing for film, this month he also opened his blog to guest posts, film reviews of hidden movie gems. I wrote about the wonderful Japanese film “Still Walking” – you can read it here.

Thanks, Scott!

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Favourite Film Characters

Just another  #wpad blog challenge post.

Name some of my favourite film characters? Easy, I thought. And was surprised by what my memory-search-cum-analysis yielded.

But let’s name a few:

From Local Hero: The shrink hired by mogul Fred Happer (Burt Lancaster), who keeps insulting him as part of the therapy until he ends up outside his window on the 40th floor with a huge poster “Happer is a Motherfucker!” And from the same film, the black priest in a remote Scottish seaside village.

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From Louis Malle’s Milou en Mai: Michel Piccoli as Milou (love the way he spills coffee and other liquids on his tie at regular intervals). From Dogma: Alan Rickman’s Metatron, the Voice of God.

Metatron-Alan-Rickman

Morgan Freeman as God in Bruce Almighty (but actually, that is because Morgan Freeman is God).

I have a number of favourite films, and many favourite moments, but when I started thinking about today’s prompt of “favourite characters” I had some difficulty identifying them. And I realized two things: one, although I love heroic heroes in adventure films, I do not have a favourite hero character. I love romances, but no Mr. Darcy or similar has achieved favourite character status (although Toby Stephen’s Rochester comes close). Two: my favourite characters are usually part of a favourite ensemble.

The villagers in Local Hero. The family in Milou en Mai. The family in Hirokazu Kore-eda’s Still Walking. Charlie’s family in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. The family in Home for the Holidays. Lots of families.

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Why? What is it that makes them my favourites? Partly, it’s their quirkiness. But mostly, it’s because they feel real. Aragorn isn’t real. Mr. Darcy isn’t real. Bruce Willis or Tom Cruise *shudder* in their various action figure incarnations aren’t real. They’re too good to be true (well, some of them).

Whereas the abovementioned groups, they are real. Even the fantastical ones like Charlie’s family. They are real because their interactions and their emotions feel real. I can’t seem to come up with individual heroes in the film library in my head where the emotions don’t feel designed for a purpose. (Having said that, I do have a rotten memory and actually keep lists for favourite films and books!) I don’t get that feeling of “designed emotions” in my favourite ensembles. They just are, and therefore they are real.

The individual favourites I mention above are favourites because of something they do or say in a funny way, creating a funny and/or memorable moment. But not so much because of the emotions they portray or elicit in me. Hmm… and they are all men…

… and now I realize I do have one “real” favourite character, and I’m happy to say it’s a woman. Erin Brockovich. I absolutely admire what she accomplishes against all odds (and Julia Roberts delivers her best performance ever portraying her). She feels real.

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