Lost in Translation: a few thoughts

I watched LOST IN TRANSLATION again the other day.

It’s hard to describe why I like that movie so much. Many people don’t get it. That’s what they keep telling me. “I just don’t get it.”

Without further ado, a really poor mish-mash of why I believe I enjoy the film, or at least, why I think it’s poignant:

The characters have been careened into a foreign country only to end up frozen there.

They are trapped in a sort of suspended animation, brought on by the unfamiliarity of the space and the seemingly udderlessness of their lives. They’re caught together in loneliness and loss of direction, and in Tokyo they forge a friendship that would have been unlikely, if not impossible, in a familiar world. The older man/younger woman relationship has underlying currents of inexplicable empathy that same-age relationships sometimes lack, and displacement from the everyday is the catalyst. At their parting, at the break of this sidetrack in their lives, they leave better for meeting each other and move on to be in transition, not in stasis any longer.

The movie instills me with a lot of scattered emotion. I find it inspiring, and that it puts me in a mood, and that I always want to just write after. (Too bad I watched it late at night.)

And that, my friends, is that.


Nerves and doing it wrong

After experiencing the most minimal of minimal fender-benders yesterday, I found myself incredibly nervous driving to work today. The solution? To ditch my friends tonight (sorry Leanne!) and hole up in my home, under a dark blanket, away from cars, with the last few chapters of my manuscript to finish line-editing.

I’m down to those last few days. Those last moments before I finally have a polished ‘script, for the first time in my life. Before I finally get to start querying for a (gasp!omg!) agent. How does it feel?

It feels unreal. It feels like I’ve been stretching out these last few weeks, procrastinating the first (second? third?) big hurdle in getting this darn book published. It feels like I’ve forgotten everything I’ve read and learned in the past few years about query writing and the publishing industry.

It’s hard for me to do things wrong. I’m one of those crazy people who inexplicably would rather give up than fail (though in my old age, I’m starting to realize that the former is the same as the latter). I’m not any sort of perfectionist, but I hate disappointing people, disappointing myself.

So what happens now? What happens when I finally sit down and finish the last of my edits and start querying and just… flop? Go no further? Find out these last 2.5 years have been for naught?

*Deep breaths* I guess we’ll find out. In the meantime, I’m just going to keep delving in blogs and articles and everything else I can find about writing.

Like this New Yorker article, about how writing is hard.

Or this scary Janet Reid blog post, about building platform before you even find an agent… um, eep?


A not-so Legacy?


So, I know you’ve been waiting to hear my thoughts on the Bourne Legacy.

I’ve been talking about it since I saw the preview back in February or March. What can go wrong with a fast-paced spy thriller?

The following is sort-of spoilerific.

I’m not going to go into too many details, except to say that I enjoyed it all the way until the end. (Except for the ending.) Though many reviewers (including my fiance) complained about the film being too slow for the first half, I was captured the whole way through. (Except for the ending!) There was even some wincing and unnecessary gripping of Chris’ arm during the final bike chase. Though I felt like Weisz’ character was meant to be a bit of a copy of Marie from the other films (right down to the edgy poor makeup) I actually loved the Renner/Weisz dynamic more than Damon/Potente.

But then the ending… seriously? I was completely thrown off-guard. I thought we had another half hour of movie to go. The bike chase was not climatic enough to be the “final boss” (as myself and my nerdy man call it) – it was more like a lead-up to something bigger. Plus, everything that was concluded in Ultimatum was reopened in Legacy… and left open. So when the final music started playing, my jaw dropped.

To be honest, I actually thought that this movie would have been better on its own. Many Bourne franchise fans are going to be disappointed by anything that had to do with the other films, and they introduced so many new elements to the series (like the chems, and the additional programs) that it honestly could have just been an entirely different movie.

Final thoughts? Worth the watch. Don’t expect much out of the ending. 6/10 for overall movie, but bonus points for an incredible leading man (so 7.5/10 on the Amanda Scale.)

This isn’t much of a review, but I used to pen movie editorials over at Matchflick.com. Check them out!


Flows like blood

Every time I’m browsing my favourite industry blogs for inspiration or tips or mostly information, I get stuck on this one poignant post from The Intern.

The concept of replacing what is lost is not a new one to me. I’ve misplaced/deleted/lost plenty of passages before, sometimes full chapters. There was one time in which I wrote a section of one of my novels twice, without realizing it, and compared them side-by-side to find them equally dynamic yet completely different.

But The Intern’s post definitely helps keep things in perspective. If you truly are a writer, than writing/replacing/recreating words is as natural as life-blood. It’ll flow, when the time is right, and there are far worse things than honing your skill by starting something new or touching on the same sections more than once.


On modern islands

There was a time, long ago, where we were able to claim that “no man is an island.” This phrase, popularized by the movie ABOUT A BOY, was actually written by John Donne in his Old English prose “Devotions upon Emergent Occasions:”

No man is an island entire of itself; every man

is a piece of the continent, a part of the main;

if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe

is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as

well as any manner of thy friends or of thine

own were; any man’s death diminishes me,

because I am involved in mankind.

And therefore never send to know for whom

the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.

Quite obviously, Donne suggests that despite any sort of independence or loneliness a person might experience, that we are all always part of something larger.

I do a lot of thinking about how in modern Western society though we have more ways to communicate with each other than ever before, we actually distance ourselves from our fellow man. It’s as if we do everything we can to place a gap between ourselves and those who seemingly have no impact on our lives.

There are plenty of factors that tie in here: familiarity (with always being around people), lack of need (of the company or skills necessary for survival), distrust (of anyone you do not know). A hundred plus years ago, not only was it more of a novelty to be around people, but we depended much more on others for entertainment and necessary things like food.

Today,  although you need to get your food from the supermarket and must encounter the clerk, you can do so without any sort of real conversation. We’re so used to being around strangers that we look entirely beyond them.

I was walking through the cemetery this past weekend and came across a man who seemed quite nice. He was sitting on the grass, stripped down to the bare minimum (as it was incredibly hot) and was apparently conversing animatedly with a headstone.

My obvious reaction was to give him some berth, out of respectfulness and modern apathy. But he turned to me, held a mickey up in this hand and said in an excellently thick Russian accent, “Would you like some vodka?”

I broke into a grin as I kept on walking. “No thanks!”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes, thank you!”

“Okay then. Have a good weekend.”

“You too!”

It’s funny, the one thing that makes my day is the genialness of complete strangers. It’s such a novelty, and though I attempt to smile at the people I walk by, I am just as guilty as others in my quest for solitude in public.

As I left the Russian fellow behind, I instantly wished that I had the – what? Guts? Kindness? – to go sit with the man and hear his story. Not only was he a living stereotype, but seemed like a genuinely interesting person. (You’d have to be to be drinking, mostly naked, in a cemetery!)

If this had transpired a hundred years ago, would I have stopped for a sip of vodka? I can’t help feeling that I would have. And I can’t help feeling a sense of loss with this lack of comfort in the companionship of a stranger.

This isn’t the first time that I’ve passed on the chance of a possible stimulating evening with someone I didn’t know. A couple months ago, by chance I ran into an older, seemingly well-off fellow who was looking for someone to help him write a book. He was from the States and had supposedly known Frank Sinatra and Marilyn Monroe and a bunch of that gang. Sounds like a perfect opportunity for a Rat Pack-loving writer such as myself, right?

After talking about the serendipitous meeting with some of my friends, they told me he sounded suspicious, and that he was probably making his claims up. They were uncomfortable about the prospect of me meeting up with this man, and in turn I became uncomfortable with it.

The man was certain that his book would be a big hit, and even if the project wasn’t for me, I know I would have enjoyed listening to what he had to say. Instead, I’ve lost his number and have (almost) never looked back.

Perhaps we all are part of a bigger picture, living cogs in a society that depends on the efficiency and ignorance of its workers. But on a more personal level, I can surely tell you that I’m starting to feel like a damned island.

 


August 1st: A picspam

August 1st! A day in which Amanda…

… forgot to call her father on his birthday 😦

celebrated her own birthday late with some friends

 

and a cupcake

(in which she promptly turned into a sandwich)

and music

and in which she found out that Walk of Fame starlet Scarlett Johansson is the same age as her, and decided that she hadn’t accomplished nearly enough in her life, and decided to practice her Avenger’s superhero face, because who’s life-long dream isn’t to be an Avenger (this year?)

She looks tough right? (And wow is her forehead really that big and shiny?)


Communicating is not on auto-pilot

Slang is not just poorly-spelled jargon.

One of the most interesting things about working or being friends with individuals who speak English as a second language is that I find myself phrasing things differently. There are some people to whom I consciously phrase things in a particular way right off the bat, and others whom I might have to re-phrase to explain myself.

In an odd way, I think that even though I might be particularly natural at this because I’m a writer, it also strengthens my writing.

I’m reminded of another anecdote from a close friend of mine – she had used the term “auto-pilot” to a friend who did not understand what that meant. Rather than rephrasing, she went on to attempt to explain what an auto-pilot was and how that could relate to the actions of a person.

It’s incredibly important as a writer to be able to rephrase yourself. To clarify. To cut out any unnecessary coloaquialisms that may not transcend properly beyond your own brain. It’s one thing to be poetic and purposely abstract, but another to completely exclude potential readers from the message you’re trying to get across.

I’m incredibly grateful that I’ve gone about my writing career as I have – I studied basic English and literature (where I expanded on my creative side), then became a journalist graduate (where I learned to be as concise and short as possible) then fell into marketing writing, where both come into play.

I’m also hoping that all of this experience will make me a good novelist, as well.

Oh, and about that… things are finished. Almost done with critique readers. Almost ready to query. Eep!