Monday, February 23, 2009

Max Payne (2008)

I've mentioned before that I had high hopes for this movie since I am a big fan of the video game and its sequel. I finally saw it over the weekend and was severely disappointed. Of course, in any movie adaptation, the filmmakers reserve the right to change elements of the story. They did so, but in ways that didn't make any sense.

In the game, Max was a homicide detective. His wife and child were murdered. Max becomes an undercover DEA agent working against the Punchinello family. He goes to meet his fellow agent Alex Balder in the Roscoe Street subway station in the opening scene of the game. Alex is murdered and Max becomes the prime suspect. The rest of the game is Max hunting down the real killers, trying to clear his name, and uncovering a conspiracy behind his wife's murder.

In the movie, Max was a homicide detective. His wife and child were murdered. Max transfers himself to the cold case squad and goes out at night investigating their murders on his own. He gets set up for the murders of Natasha Sax and Alex Balder and has to clear his name.

There are some cool elements to the movie, but it doesn't capture the style or feel of the source material. There are only two big gunfights and two instances of bullet-time (the real fun parts of the game). The relationship between Max and Mona Sax isn't explored at all, and Jack Lupino has maybe three lines of dialog in the entire picture.

I was hoping the movie would be good and do well at the box office. Not only because I was a fan of the source, but also that it might push the game designers to finish the third installment of the franchise.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Flash Recap

I think Tuesday's Flash Challenge was a big success. All the stories were great. There are certainly a lot of talented writers in the group.

Patti has a list pairing each story writer with the writer of the opening paragraph. I got Scott Parker's and John McAuley got mine. After reading John's first sentence after my paragraph, I thought "great, he's going to turn Johnny Bix into a child molester." But, I dug the story he told. The ending of it put a big smile on my face. Job well done. Check out "No Pool No Car" at Powder Burn Flash.

Like I mentioned the other day, Scott's paragraph got me a couple story ideas. The first idea had a twist that probably would've seemed forced. The next couple passes were a flirty, Jack Foley/Karen Sisco in the trunk type conversation between Rod and the clerk (named Veronica). Once I introduced the line "Whatever Lola wants, Lola gets", they degenerated into a Tarantino-esque pop culture laced conversation that felt a little hollow.

Then, somehow, the idea of Rod running and being ashamed of his cowardice popped in. It's not a high-energy story like most flash is, but I knew if I was able to find the right emotional notes to hit it would work.

Someone suggested that we use endings for the next flash challenge. I bet that would be a hell of a lot harder, but still loads of fun.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Choices Made

If he survived the next ten minutes, Rod told himself, he was going to kill that cat. His girlfriend's cat, Lola, was out of kitty litter and his girlfriend had withheld sex in order to force him to go out and pick up some more. Now, here he was, hiding in the meat locker, while those thugs terrorized the shop clerk and took her money. At least they hadn't found him yet. No telling what they'd do to him if they did. Then his cell phone rang and he heard footsteps coming toward him.

The caller ID showed his girlfriend's name: Kelley. Rod thumbed the volume control, sending her directly to voicemail. Maybe they didn't hear it, he thought. He sat as still as a statue, breathing slowly through his open mouth. The coldness of the meat locker turned his breath into white puffs. The footsteps stopped outside and Rod saw the handle start to turn.

Rod only had a handful of seconds to figure things out. Maybe he'd just give the thugs his money and they'd leave him alone. Maybe he could disarm this one, sneak up on the other one, and be a hero. The door opened a crack and Rod knew what he had to do.

He sprung from his crouch and exploded through the door. The thug was knocked down and his gun slid across the slick linoleum.

Rod turned left and ran out the emergency exit. His shoulder immediately rammed into the dumpster across the alley and he turned. Dodging trash cans and puddles, he sped down the alley. The thick soles of his boots thudded along the wet pavement. His ears were filled with the zip-zip sound of his arms pumping inside his ski jacket.

The alley spit him out onto Harrison and he beat two more blocks to Nassau before he slowed down. His body gave out and Rod fell to his knees next to a blue USPS mail box. The bitter night air was colder than that inside the meat locker. Snow fell like ash from the end of a cigarette. Rod hurled.


The next day, Rod wandered the streets of town, replaying the night in his head. Maybe he couldn't have been a hero like he thought, but at least he and the clerk would've gone through the robbery together. Being in that situation with somebody else must be better than going through it alone. Instead, he acted like a coward.

Rod shocked himself with the harshness of the word: coward. But that’s what he was. The shock of the word woke him up from his reverie. He had wandered his way back to the store. He figured his subconscious was telling him to go back and make things right.

The store seemed none the worse for wear. The aisles were cleaned up and there was no police tape anywhere. Rod grabbed a bag of kitty litter and went up to pay.

The clerk from last night stood behind the register. She didn't look up as Rod approached, but that was fine with him. He couldn't look her in the eye after abandoning her last night anyway. She was a cute young woman with a smallish build. Her black hair was slicked down and held in place by clips. The thugs had done a number on her, though. She had a fat lip and a black eye. A half inch red cut jutted perpendicular to her left eyebrow. It was held together by a great number of stitches.

Rod reached down and put a pack of Chewlies gum on the counter so he wouldn't have to look at her any more. The shame he felt at abandoning her to those jackals was unbearable. He was glad she was ok, but the urge to leave grew stronger with each passing second. He wanted to get out before she recognized him.

Rod slapped his money on the counter, scooped up his purchase, and headed for the door. He had to will himself not to run.

"Hey," the clerk shouted.

Rod's spine stiffened. He knew she recognized him. He was the only customer in the store last night and he abandoned her to the hands of a couple hoodlums. He wanted to keep walking. Pretend he didn't hear her call. But he stopped.

Rod turned around and took a couple steps back to the counter. His mouth opened, ready to spew out an apology. To say he was sorry for abandoning her.

Before he could speak, the clerk said, "You forgot your receipt."

Rod took the receipt, jammed it in his pocket, and left.


Note: Since I saw the name of the cat, I desperately wanted to use the line "whatever Lola wants, Lola gets" somewhere. It made it into the early drafts, but those didn't quite work. Then the idea came to show the aftermath of the robbery instead of the actual event itself (and a darker tone).

Patti has links to everyone's stories for this challenge here.

Hope you enjoyed it.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Sesame Street Is Not How I Remember It

I found these videos the other day. You can tell the impact Sesame Street has on young viewers. Now that they're all grown up, people are doing parodies.

Example one: Pot Cookie Monster


Example two: Cookie Monster rapping