Literary Liaisons

A blog about writing and all things story…

Sunday is for Studying Subtext


I’m not clear on the subtext in this painting????

Studying the craft of storytelling sometimes
comes in the guise of couch potato-like behavior, couch surfing, loafing
or otherwise slumming a day away with a bowl of pepper-popcorn.
I often watch movies – good movies, bad movies, movies that make me cry, cling to the edge of my couch, stay up late or leave me wanting more – to learn what makes a good story.
When I watch a good movie, which for me is something like A River Runs Through It, Gran Torino, Copland, and Amazing Grace, I’m stimulated to write better, tell a better story, more compelling, more visual than if I just relied on what’s in my head.
I like a lot of the movies coming out of the Middle East like Sabah; A Love Story and Arranged and so many others I can’t recall.
There’s a great resource of Indie and or Foreign films that broaden our story-scapes and visual horizons. Watch them. For example  a seductive little treat, the French film, The Lover or one of my all time favorites, The Children of Huang Shi or Like Water for Chocolate. Or Raise the Red Lantern, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon and Life is Beautiful. There are so many, enough for everyone’s eclectic tastes.Lately I’m in search of sub-text, that elusive creature that makes or breaks a good scene.

Last night I watched a Jodie Foster film titled The Brave One with Terrance Howard. It’s no great story; basic vigilante gets her gun, gets justice, gets away. But the acting is excellent. In one scene where Foster and Howard’s characters sit at a café counter talking about the kind of cop he hoped he could be if faced with a friend who committed a crime, the scene, the conversation drips with sub text.
Or the subtext scene king in A few good men. You can watch that scene here. Talk about good writing. This scene oozes subtext.

It’s Sunday, I’m on the couch with movies and popcorn. This is hard work. Really.


One comment on “Sunday is for Studying Subtext

  1. Janette
    July 18, 2011

    So true. Movies are such an integral part of our culture now, like computers and Google. We can learn and be inspired. Well phrased, Mindy, and I love your closing line. Thanks, Janette

Comments are closed.


This entry was posted on July 18, 2011 by in Sunday is for Subtext.
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