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Wednesday, 12 September 2012


I'm not saying that Tony Scott was some great master of the English language -- in fact, I have no idea whether he was or not.

But I do think he would have been troubled by this email that went out to those of us on the Cinespia distribution list this week.

Cinespia is an organization that hosts screenings of classic movies in the Hollywood Forever cemetery on Saturday nights in the summer. We haven't been in ages, but I did see The Philadelphia Story and Kubrick's Lolita there. Wine, cheese, bread, and probably something like olives were involved, if I remember correctly.

It's not really practical for us to go these days. Without the hermetically sealed environments we bring with us at the drive-in, our son could be quite the problem for the surrounding patrons if he couldn't get to sleep and insisted on making lots of noise. But I do still like to look at the emails, to imagine I might be going, to imagine I might be whittling pieces of pepperoni off a long stick and matching them with a slice of brie and a fancy cracker like I did those other two times. And of course watching a movie.

This week's email promoting True Romance gave me pause, however. Why don't I type it out here for you and see what you think? My comments inserted in brackets.

"Director Tony Scott will always be remembered for his energetic action films, but True Romance proves he can deliver a genuine love story.

[Would you really call it a love story? I mean, it is, but is it?]

"The action is there, all right, in all its raw glory, like the now-legendary scene with Dennis Hopper and Christopher Walken, but the romance is there too in spades.

[Bad choice of word, "spades," if you consider the way Hopper baits Walken into killing him by saying that he and other Italians are descended from blacks. "You're part eggplant," Hopper tells Walken. Also, that scene is not "action" -- it's dialogue followed by a quick execution.]

New paragraph:

"Outlaw lovers Alabama and Clarence are on the run to Hollywood after they accidentally steal a suitcase from the mob.

[Since this is basically the only description of the plot, I'd like a little more detail please.]

"Patricia Arquette is compelling, adorable and ultimately, fierce as a she-lion as her and her soulmate are pursued by terrifying villains.

["Fierce as a she-lion"? The commas are a bit screwy in this sentence as well. "Her and her soulmate" -- take out "her soulmate" and it reads as "her [is] pursued by terrifying villains." Also, what a generic way to refer to the film's antagonists: "terrifying villains."]

New paragrah:

"The glib and cheeky script by Quentin Tarantino made him a household word, and the cast boasts over a dozen fantastic stars among them: Brad Pitt, Val Kilmer, Samuel Jackson, Gary Oldman, James Gandolphini, Mike Rappaport, Bronson Pinchot and the sly, wolfish Christian Slater.

[A person is a household name, not a household word. Also, Tarantino reached that status possibly from Reservoir Dogs, definitely from Pulp Fiction, but not from True Romance. Most people are not usually aware of a film's screenwriter. Also, is it really accurate to call his script "glib"? James Gandolfini does not spell his name with a ph, and I don't think anyone but his friends probably refer to Michael Rappaport as "Mike." Also, isn't it customary to include Samuel Jackson's middle initial? These "fantastic stars" should really be referred to properly. Lastly, "sly and wolfish"? This writer needs to work on his/her adjectives.]

"Join us under the stars to watch this modern Bonnie and Clyde and to celebrate the career and life of Tony Scott.

[Can't this weekend. Busy.]

I don't think being a grammar bully makes a person seem particularly magnanimous, though I do indeed do it from time to time. But come on, this is replete with errors and just plain misleading characterizations.

This grammar bully does need to see True Romance again, though. I've definitely warmed to it over the years to the point where I feel fondly toward it, but when I originally saw it, I thought it was a direct ripoff of Terence Malick's Badlands (perhaps because it uses the same exact steel drum theme song, Carl Orff's "Schulwerk: Musica Poetica"). I also found Christian Slater's Elvis obsession to seem a bit too faux cool, even back then.

Also, I think I found Slater a bit too sly and wolfish. 

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