I can’t believe summer is almost over. Today is officially the last day of it for those of us who teach (Where did it go??). At any rate, I’ve done what I set out to do — wrote a shitty script for a TV pilot that will never see the light of day (awful character issues and plot holes), connected with some fabulous people, began a thoroughly detailed outline of book 2 (am more than halfway finished and hope to get it done before my classes start next week, def. before NaNoWriMo), attended my first book launch (for Jeff Strand’s Blister), continued editing entries for the antho…and little bits and pieces here and there. I just feel like I’d spent more time obsessing over things that don’t matter than working on things that do. I think I’ve spent a ridiculous amount of time journaling like a heartsick teenager than I did being productive. Still, I accomplished more than I thought I would.
Little, nagging, emotional issues keep bugging the crap out of me though…
I’m still smarting over TWO friends having ghosted me (if “ghosted” is the correct tense) this summer (I don’t know WTF I did to deserve it), and I keep getting these raw, burning reminders of the man who broke my heart years ago (yes, he’s officially become the equivalent of a hemorrhoid that comes and goes). With school starting up again, I need focus and a better attitude before I let the little things come at me.
Another alternative, however, is to just give in to the crazy and embrace it simply because it makes for fab material. In fact, two films came out a couple of weeks ago that strangely connected with me in their characters and those particular characters’ brand of crazy…
(WARNING: Minor spoilers ahead.)
CASE STUDY #1: Harley Quinn of Suicide Squad
Like the critics, I didn’t care for the messy Suicide Squad. There was a paper-thin plotline, the dialogue was atrocious, the editing left out SO much, there were too many characters tossed in to do anything with, the CGI was a joke, etc, etc. Also, I didn’t care for the way the female characters were presented and then treated. Even the squad’s puppetmaster, Amanda Waller (played by Viola Davis), was a bit of a dud, hastily written as a cutthroat official who didn’t think ahead, the mark of an awfully irresponsible leader. Ms. Davis deserves far better material, thank you very much.
Harley Quinn (played with a mad, chirpy twinkle by Margot Robbie) was, by far, the most interesting character IMHO, but it was evident much of her backstory, like the others’, had been significantly cut, leaving viewers with the equivalent of a Stockholm Syndrome-giddy anime-sexpot character who’s more than happy to be pimped out by her psychotic lover. I’m well aware that Miss Quinn has had a richly controversial backstory, and some of that bleeds into the film, but I found her best moments in the movie — as few and far between they were — were of her chipper, gung-ho antics as the squad’s self-appointed, bat-wielding cheerleader and all-around gal pal. Even though this variant of Quinn wasn’t well-written, I confess that I held more than a little envy for her ability to just keep at ’em, even when her heart was momentarily broken. I hope the stand-alone film, should it come to fruition, has better writing, direction, and editing.
CASE STUDY #2: Sophie of Lights Out
Lights Out is the feature-length horror film by David F. Sandberg loosely based on his short of the same title (see below). The feature itself centers on the themes of childhood obsessions, motherhood and madness. The story is fairly simple: Estranged twenty-something daughter Rebecca (Teresa Palmer) is forced back into her mother’s life when she learns that her little brother is being tormented by the same violent ghost that had tormented her as a child and had caused her mother (Maria Bello) to succumb to her manic depression.
Bello portrays raw and wounded so believably, it’s hard not to feel her pain. The character of Sophie, while not at the front and center of the film (it’s Rebecca’s journey, really), is gripping. She’s probably one of the most dangerous mothers onscreen in all of her madness, for she wants so desperately for her son to accept the jealous spectre who’s latched onto her as a part of the family.
It’s that very nature of obsession within friendships that I connected with the most in the film. The ghost, Diana, represents that sort of obsession, essentially packaged as a tightly bound friendship she once had with Sophie when they were children locked away in a mental institution.
Me and my ghosting issues with friends and lost loves…I feel a little Diana-ish, crazed and out of control, obsessive and damaged.
No matter, the feature-length Lights Out is a strong, little horror film with sympathetic characters and comfortably creepy tropes. Highly recommended for horror buffs out there.
By the way, here’s the short by Sandberg (Fair warning: it’s pretty creepy):