Watching Movies

So I was sick as a dog for most of this long weekend, which was a colossal pain since it meant cancelling a bunch of plans and not getting anything done except what was absolutely necessary – or what I could cram into today now that I’m feeling better.

What being sick did allow me to do was sit on my couch and watch a ton of movies, which I haven’t done in an incredibly long time, so I’ll take that as my silver lining. I’m pretty sure that between late Thursday night and Saturday I watched Jurassic ParkJurassic WorldArmageddonDie Hard 2Live Free or Die HardThe CoreIndependence Day, The EqualizerThe Dark Knight, and Hancock … with possibly one or two more that I’m forgetting. I don’t normally watch that many movies in a three-month period these days, but when you’re hacking up a lung and feel like death, movies are useful. Especially good movies. I’m not sure how The Core slipped in there.

I’ve seen most of these movies a bunch of times already. It’s interesting, though, that even in my sickened state I noticed things that I had somehow missed before. In Jurassic Park, for example, it never dawned on me that the moment when Hammond steps out of the helicopter with Grant and the others onto Isla Nublar, all proud and jubilant, is exactly paralleled (camera angle and all) at the end of the film, when he and the other survivors escape the park via helicopter, after a moment of Hammond looking lost and sorrowful. I don’t know how I missed that, but it’s a great example of visual character work. And in Die Hard 2, there’s a momentary exchange with some of the terrorists really early in the film about a “personnel change” that seems innocuous, but actually foreshadows something that happens almost at the end of the film, when it’s revealed that the army unit dispatched against the terrorists is actually in league with them – except for one soldier, who was rotated in last minute and gets executed for his trouble. It’s the kind of thing you’d only notice having already seen the film before.

I love things like that in stories: the subtleties, the slow reveal of things in a world. A character mentions something about their past, or responds negatively to something seemingly innocuous, like a painting, but you don’t reveal the significance of it until much later. In my story published in Keystone Chronicles, “Coding Haven,” I start by establishing that a tree my characters are focused on is a simulation, but only reveal later that the entire world around them is a simulation. And that’s just an early twist. Not that I’m an expert in figuring out author voice, especially my own, but I think that might be one of the staples of my best writing: the slow reveal, in terms of setting, plot and character. Not just because it’s intriguing, but because it’s fun to write.

Or at least I think that’s something common to my work. It’ll be up to some ambitious scholar to go through my published works and decode them. Any volunteers? 😀

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