I regularly worry about ideas. I don’t know where they come from. I don’t know how to find them. Once I have one, I can develop it, I can expand upon it, but it’s that initial, “Oh, here’s an idea” thing that I find tough.
Reviews can be hard to write, but at least there’s a thing at the core – talk about this movie. There is a basic rubric there. When I’m writing something in a series of articles, the same is true. I can generally do “talk about ‘x'” with little trouble, it’s coming up with “x” that is not easy.
I, of course, know people who do this all the time – they write frequently, and they write interesting things. I am endlessly impressed by that. It sounds like a silly tweet from @filmtwitter, but folks who see “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” on TV and instantly have a notion of how it aligns with “Pitch Perfect 2” astound me (especially if they do it well).
The ideas I come up with are often rather contrarian in nature. That is, I’ll look at my Blu-ray shelf, see the James Bond set, and think that maybe I should do something on the brilliance of each Bond’s final film. If you have seen “A View to a Kill,” you know that such an idea is nonsense. I’m also not a massive fan of “Die Another Day” or “Diamonds are Forever” or “Licence to Kill.” So, yeah, while I might come up with such an idea and decide to carry it out, it would end up as more of a thought exercise—can I establish logical, grounded, reasoning behind this cockamamie notion—than it would something in which I truly believed.
Another example… At one point last year I tried to sell a series focused on reinterpreting movies from Donald Trump’s point of view. Trump, you may remember, picked an unnecessary fight with Arnold Schwarzenegger. Rather than this having happened because the President of the United Status found his ego bruised by the notion that anyone else could take over “The Apprentice,” maybe it was because Donald Trump actually understands “Terminator 2: Judgment Day” in a way the rest of us are missing. Maybe Arnold’s character is still the baddie, as he was in the first film. Maybe Trump is just angry that the world, as a whole, has completely misinterpreted the film.
Think about it, Arnold’s Terminator sides with Sarah Connor, a psychologically unstable woman who has illegal weapons, who has made her son a burden for the state, and who has spent lots of time doing illicit things south of the border. John Connor robs banks and won’t listen to his elders. How are these the people for whom we are supposed to root? When John, Sarah, and the Terminator team-up, these “good guys” are out to destroy someone who is working for the state (the T-1000). Not only that, but what’s their big plan? To ruin a corporation. That, in Trump’s America, is unacceptable.
That is the short version of the argument, but the important thing to note is that it walks down a contrarian pathway. Those ideas I can find, other stuff is more difficult.
It also has to be said that maybe I’m wrong. Maybe I’m just a cliché – a writer who sees the brilliance around them and is convinced of their own (at best) mediocrity. Maybe I have just as many ideas as the next person. Maybe some of the contrarian stuff is a good idea… just not that final James Bond film thing. It may have good bits, but arguing for the brilliance of “A View to a Kill” is more than I care to do.
photo credit: Lionsgate Home Entertainment/Sony Pictures Home Entertainment