Hey Tessa, I like when you write things, whether it's serious or humorous. I know you had a fraught relationship with writing in the past. What do you appreciate or get out of writing now that you didn't, or maybe avoided, when you were younger? What's the appeal for you?
Writing is definitely something I had a weird hang-up about when I was younger. Part of it was that it had always came easily to me, so I took it for granted. Part of it is that it was the main thing I was praised for, when I wanted attention for other things (most of which I wasn’t as skilled at), and I felt that I was being pressured into defining myself as a writer at the expense of anything else. And part of it is that my dad is a screenwriter, so there was sort of this The Family Business baggage attached to it, and I was really hell-bent on carving out my own place in the world.
I think college is the first time I really started to write for pleasure, like, outside of journals detailing my disappointing teenage life. A weird thing about me, relative to people my age, is that I grew up without a lot of access to the internet, so I had a very utilitarian relationship with the internet. And then all of a sudden I have virtually unlimited access and a lot of time to myself, and that’s when I really started reading blogs and internet writing, and it kind of opened up a whole other world for me. Mind you, at the time I still considered myself an actor first, last, and forever, so when I started blogging, it was this low stakes hobby. Like, I could write and use all of those skills I’d developed in academic writing but in a more frivolous context, so that was really exciting to me. And gradually it became something that I really came to love doing and started to take pretty seriously.
I kept up that momentum pretty well after college, and it helped that I got a lot of positive attention for it, including from people whose work I really respected (you included!). But at the same time, my life was kind of stalling. I was living with my parents, I was working a series of financially and spiritually unrewarding jobs (eventually I landed a job I loved, working at my local comic book shop, which was a lifesaver), I was in a long distance relationship. And around this time I started to put more pressure on myself with regard to my writing, and it became harder and harder to do. And after moving to New York, it got even more difficult. I was in a weird, transitional period, and nothing was really coming easily anymore.
What really ended up making a difference for me was when I started collaborating on a screenplay with Aubrey Bellamy, who I had met on Twitter and had gradually become a good friend of mine. For one thing, it helped a lot to be accountable to someone; it meant shit was getting done whether I felt inspired that day or not. There was also just a natural chemistry there, and writing and communicating with Aubrey felt effortless (still does! we’re working on another). Those kinds of collaborative relationships come once in a blue moon, and I count myself really lucky to have found that. It offers a really nice balance to writing alone, where it’s often easy for me to get stuck in my head (or up my own ass, as the case may be).
The other aspect was that, for whatever reason, I was able to be less precious about screenwriting. Essay writing for me had always been a matter of channeling these wild ideas, and I had to do it in one sitting, and it was nearly impossible for me to edit clearheadedly. Very ~emotional~ process. But screenwriting was something that I knew how to approach analytically, because I had grown up reading my dad’s screenplays and hearing his pitches, and giving him notes, and in general getting this incredible education on cinematic structure without really intending to. And being able to turn to him for guidance and mentorship was great, too. Plus, movies and TV have always been huge for me. Weirdly, I had always been afraid of “storytelling” and fiction in general, but it’s become something that I really enjoy now. It was a natural transition that I’d fought for a really long time.
So overall, there was this process of learning to take something that I was able to do kind of by the grace of god and relearning how to do it through hard work and discipline. Which was, unsurprisingly, really difficult. But man, has it ever been worth it. I get so much joy out of both the process and the result, and I spend most of my time thinking about how to do more of it. And screenwriting, even though it has taken away time from blogging and essay writing, has kind of brought the fun back into that by removing the pressure to Make My Name doing it. Although, hell! Who knows.
If you could only save five films for humanity, what would they be and why?
I’m not very globally literate in film, so I should probably not be in charge of saving films for all of humanity! Man, even thinking about this question stresses me out; I keep imagining torches and pitchforks as humanity rises up to hold me accountable for my shitty choices of the Last Five Films Available to All of Humanity. Idk, I’d probably just panic and pick Clueless five times. Sorry, humanity! I’m terrible!!!!
Where do you want to be this time next year? How close does right now match up with your plans from this time last year?
This time next year, I would like to have sold the first screenplay Aubrey and I wrote and for writing to be my full time job (the more manageable version is simply to have representation). That’s basically going to be my “by this time next year” wish until comes true, I guess. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
This time last year, I was really in the thick of writing the damn thing (I think we had just started the second draft?), so I was focused more concretely on doing my work than on my goals for it. I didn’t really see any point thinking about it before I had an actual product to sell.
It’s weird because writing is something I’ve wanted to do for a long while now, but until this year, I wouldn’t necessarily have been ready to do it. I didn’t yet have the discipline or the drive so much as a generalized ambition. But I’m finally in a place where I not only feel like writing is the thing I want to get up in the morning and do every day, but that I’m capable of doing that. So getting to the point where I can support myself by doing it is the goal at this point.
I think a lot of the things I love about California aren’t necessarily unique to California, many of them having to do with the positive side of car culture (the way it facilitates spontaneity, the ability to have privacy while also being in public, the way it makes it easier to compartmentalize, which is one of my very favorite things). So I guess the truest answer is the produce. My god, the produce.
Can you tell me about a particularly memorable learning experience in your life, formal or otherwise? (if too hard then fave ice cream flavor but please try for the sake of all humankind)
Well, I’m mostly indifferent to ice cream, so I guess I’ll have to answer this For Real. i could cheat and direct you here, but I’d be lying if I said I’ve finally learned my lesson about cutting my own hair. And I probably never will!
I don’t know, learning is a continuous, ongoing process; I feel that it’s easier for me to delineate lessons than the experiences that specifically taught me them. There are exceptions, of course, but those tend to be more personal and depressing than I like to get on the ol’ blog, you feel? But then, I’m resistant to being too glib about the subject either.
I mean, maybe this sounds like bullshit, but I’m learning, as I write this, that I’m not so hot at writing about myself directly. It’s easier to approach my personal experiences tangentially, to write about them through the lens of a movie or book or something else entirely. I’ve played with writing personal essays before (and I sure as hell don’t have trouble talking about myself, apologies to all friends, family, co-workers, and acquaintances), but I just don’t have the hang of it yet. Maybe I’ll get there eventually.
In 2002, two movies adapted from works by Susan Orlean were released. They were Blue Crush and Adaptation, and being a high school freshman (1) (among other things), I was uniquely prepared to imprint heavily on both of them.
Like Diana Vreeland, I envy no one as much as I do surfers and skateboarders, lacking both physical coordination and reckless abandon that make such pursuits possible. Blue Crush arrived during a strange period of vicarious surfing fandom in my life (2) following a string of abandoned sports. It had taken me until age fourteen to finally acknowledge that I might not have some untapped reservoir of athletic ability. Frankly, I’m still grieving over it.
When Adaptation was released, I still didn’t think of myself as a writer and in fact took it as a personal affront when someone complimented my writing. (3) But frustration and creative angst were all too familiar to me. I filled diaries with my disappointments over my fears of being creatively mediocre and unattractive to boys. I was, of course, both.
The two movies didn’t strike me as having anything in common at the time (I don’t think they were made with any anticipation of audience overlap, though I’m sure there are other people besides me sitting comfortably in the center of that Venn Diagram), but watching them in a short span a couple of years ago gave me a much different impression.
Ironically, Susan Orlean source material is the least the two movies have in common, since they both reform her slice of life-y observations into deeply interior Man vs. Self struggles. More specifically, the struggles of people with talent and potential against their mental and emotional limitations. I could have written this around the ten year anniversary of these movies, but instead I chose to live the experience. (4)
The afflictions of Blue Crush's Anne Marie Chadwick and Adaptation's Charlie Kaufman aren't quite identical, but they share a strong connective tissue. Anne Marie, an ambivalent athlete recovering from a near-drowning experience and coping with underpaid work and the responsibility of caring for her teenage sister, has her share of external adversity holding her back. But we see her surfing in the absence of her own and others' expectations of her greatness, and she thrives. Under the pressure of performance or competition, however, she chokes, the misfortune of a person for whom the thing she is best at is also the thing she loves the most. Compartmentalizing is hard when your work is your identity.
Charlie, similarly, grapples with accessing his talent when given the opportunity to do so, hampered by his desire to live up to both his own talent and his exacting critical taste. His is the kind of perfectionism that kneecaps rather than empowers, the kind that keeps you from starting anything on the off chance that it won’t end up meeting your standards.
I remember watching Adaptation at age fifteen and feeling like the third act, where everything unravels, was a cop-out. I resented Charlie Kaufman for not resolving the problem he posed. I got it the joke of it, but I didn’t like it. When I watched it ten years later I loved it, seeing for the first time that sometimes giving up on your grand, brilliant, challenging vision and just getting the damn thing done can an extraordinary triumph in itself. Maybe because I’d had to do that a few times in the decade between viewings.
Anne Marie also succeeds by reframing her understanding of success. Her mid-competition epiphany that she’s not going to win frees her to enjoy herself and to find the perfect ride on the perfect wave, a 10/10 moment that redeems her losing showing. The trick, of course, is hanging onto that mindset for next time, wringing everything you can from it.
At fifteen I wasn’t ready to hear that you can’t always get it right, or even half-right. That the next thing will always be the best thing, but you have to finish the thing that’s in front of you anyway and get what you can out of it. That the things you love won’t always reward you for loving them. That if your wildest expectations are met for even a second? Hell, that’s good enough.
(1) Wanna feel old?
(2) Watching competitions on TV, I used to be able to score surfing within 1 point of accuracy. I have no memory of how I developed this [now lost] skill. The very definition of easy come, easy go.
(3) My acting aspirations hadn’t died on the vine yet, and it seemed to me at the time that to acknowledge my writing ability was to suggest that I was somehow not singularly predestined for the vocation of acting, which spoke more to my interior and guilty awareness of the truth of that fact than it did to the reality of anyone’s insinuations. It took me awhile to grow into the comfortable dilettante I am today. Adulthood fucking rules, even when it doesn’t.
(4) That was a fun time! Yes, I do believe I have talent and potential. What can you do??? Interestingly enough, it did end up marking a (for the most part) departure from essay writing of this kind as I finally got into screenwriting in a serious way. Lol, “finally got into screenwriting in a serious way,” what kind of douche talks like that?*
“The development process was a pleasure from beginning to end. And I have to say, there was a lot of other notes in between. The cannibals thing was so easy. It wasn’t even a note; it was just a conversation. They said, “This is wonderful. You have a fantastic cast, you have the beginning of a fantastic work. We don’t think you need the cannibalism.” And I had already started to sense that. You know what I mean? The development process was already pointing in that direction. It wasn’t an ultimatum.”—
I went into this fully prepared to give the governess the benefit of the doubt, but sorry lady, it seems like the creepiest things about this story are 1) you and 2) the terms of your employment. You can’t contact your boss for any reason? How do you even know when…you’re done. With the job. Is the job…never done??? Anyway, I tell you what, most of what happens in this book is hugging. A truly surprising amount of hugging.
The Exorcist - William Peter Blatty
The real horror here, more than the supernatural, seems to be the generalized fear that comes from something being wrong and not understanding what it is. I read it immediately after the eerily similar memoir Brain on Fire, and the sheer terror of seeing someone transform, unbidden is scary enough without any supernatural influence. Since we spend more time with the characters’ inner monologues than we do in the movie, they feel a lot more dated (A LOT MORE DATED), distractingly so even, but Blatty has a gift for suspense that makes it forgivable.
Carrie - Stephen King
Oooh what an ugly ugly place this novel goes to. Carrie White lives on that fine line between pity and repulsion (see below: Frankenstein) that makes her such an uncomfortable character. King doesn’t disentangle abuse, bullying, and revenge, but instead inserts you right into the gross, nasty, upsetting thick of it. I haven’t read enough King to speak on him as An Author, but this one did a number on me.
Something Wicked This Way Comes - Ray Bradbury
Dreamy and sinister, Something Wicked is equal parts a celebration and indictment of nostalgia. Bradbury recognizes childhood as the liminal, destabilizing time it is, the fears you can have that you’re running behind or getting too far ahead. Time is a helluva thing, even when it moves how it is intended to move—to alter it is the greatest perversion. Layered with haunting details and the strange matter-of-factness which let’s children process and make sense of even the wildest occurrences, Something Wicked lingered with me. I didn’t pick a favorite on the movie list because I didn’t have one; here this is the easy winner.
The Haunting of Hill House - Shirley Jackson
There is something comforting about the tropes of horror, of watching characters behave not like real people, but like characters in a ghost story. “Not me,” you can think and shrug it off. Jackson’s ingeniousness is to refuse you any such comfort. The characters react like people do: they get scared and then laugh about it, making jokes while the bed is shaking, screaming and then talking about how weird it was to react like that. They approach terror so rationally that they don’t try to remove themselves from danger.
Jackson’s other great move is the house itself, everything built just a tiny bit wrong, a little off. Spaces have such a power to influence the mind (that same, unconscious influence that sound can have) without doing all that much. Reading this I was reminded of a diner I occasionally went to when I was in school that I called The World’s Uncanniest Diner, the perverse thrill I got from being in a place that just seemed wrong. Hill House brought all that back, and then some.
Night Film - Marisha Pessl
I was disappointed by this novel as one can only be disappointed by something that seems so perfectly theoretically for them. A dense, spooky, cinephiliac journey into the murky depths is everything I’d want in a novel, but this somehow wasn’t that. There is a wealth of good material in Night Film, and it’s clear Pessl had an incredible time researching and planning it, but there’s no getting around that fact that this novel does not want to be a novel. It’s all of the novelness (characters, plotting, narration, dialogue) that falls completely flat, and I couldn’t help wishing that it had just been an ARG on the Cecil B. DeMille level, something dense and expansive and expensive. Pessl’s attempt at an interactive, multimedia experience seem cheap and poorly executed, but what I wouldn’t give to see them carried out on a bigger, more collaborative scale. A real late night, creepy internet k-hole, instead of a simulated one. The sequence at The Peak is genuinely immersive and frightening; I wish the rest of the book were equal to it.
Dracula - Bram Stoker
Oh, Dracula. So many things to so many people. Vampires may be over, but there has never been a better time for Draculas. (There’s that show though, right? Yeah, I’m not going to watch that show. Even though Jonathan Rhys Meyers has the kind of oiliness that makes him a solid casting choice.) Dracula is kind of a disaster, but a lovable one. Halfway through his epistolary novel, Bram Stoker writes himself into a corner and realizes that the characters need to discuss everything that happened prior to move forward in the plot. So they type up and organize their notes and then proceed to read…the first half of Dracula.
So much to love here. Van Helsing is a great character, a kind of Glinda the Good Witch who, rather than solving problems immediately, goldbricks with extended demonstrations, saying “You wouldn’t have believed me” afterward. The Best Friends Vampire Fighting Club of Arthur Holmwood, Dr. Seward, and Quincey Morris is lovely. No vampire can defeat ~fRiEnDsHiP~. Word to Francis Ford Coppola for making the only adaptation that includes Quincey, my favorite character, the cowboy what kills the dracula. He and Mina are the only pragmatic people in this entire novel, and I love them. I have no rational feelings about Dracula. I love every stupid thing about this deeply stupid book. At some point I’ll probably give it the special treatment it deserves in an essay of its own, but for now, this.
Frankenstein - Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley
Less a frightening tale than a sad, unsettling one. There are no real villains here, unless you count human frailty, which under the circumstances, I think you have to. If Dracula is about having healthy and ennobling responses to grief, Frankenstein is just the opposite. People hurt in Frankenstein. And they don’t deal with it well. I felt for Victor, and I felt for the monster, and I so desperately wanted them both to stop. What makes the cruelty and cynicism in Frankenstein so painful is how closely it exists alongside love and compassion. A thought-provoking downer of a novel.
Spooky Movies I've Watched for the 1st Time This Year
Spoilers, yes of course spoilers, we’re not children here.
The House on Haunted Hill
Of all the Vincent Price characters, Frederick Loren is the Vincent Priciest. You know the premise because it is The Premise. $10,000 a head for sticking out a [host-described] “spend the night ghost party.” William Castle has a way with mid-century gimmick cinema (original screenings had a skeleton rigged to the ceiling that would zoom above the audience), so I was surprised at how beside the point much of the horror seemed. The real discomfort is being stuck in the midst of a feuding couple, think Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf played out on an allegorical scale. Droll as hell.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
The movie! Yes, the movie, the movie Joss Whedon hates, the movie he says they ruined. Guess what! They didn’t! It’s great! It’s delightful! Donald Sutherland is at his crusty best, and Kristy Swanson is a charismatic smart ditz who has more in common with Cher Horowitz than Sarah Michelle Gellar’s Buffy. Funnier and punchier than the show at its best (which, despite being out of my circle of beloved TV at this point, I can admit certainly had its moments), it makes a compelling argument for Joss Whedon having his artistic visions foiled, or at least tampered with.
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
The first one, the one that changed everything. This movie does more with sounds and textures than most do with, well, anything. Deeply suspenseful (like maybe the closest comparison would be Deliverance in terms of movies that made my entire body hurt from tension), and really and truly gross. The matter of factness of the killers/tormentors and of the camera’s eye make it feel more like watching a snuff film (I would imagine??? and also prefer not to) than a conventional movie. One of the rare slasher movies where people seem to behave like actual people, displaying the kind of irrationality and clumsiness borne of mortal fear rather than a filmmaker’s convenience.
Creepy, with a heavy lean on the xenophobic elements of Dracula (surprise surprise, Weimar Germany). These early Draculas, Max Schrek’s Count Orlock and Bela Lugosi’s Count Dracula, divide right along the line between grotesque and sexual, and ne’er the twain shall meet until Gary Oldman. Love all three; you’re all my precious children of the night. Visually more thrilling than Browning’s Dracula, v. gif-able.
Shadow of the Vampire
Kind of a forgotten treasure, this one. “Max Schrek was actually a vampire” is such a simple premise, and it’s treated with equal parts humor and terror. Willem Defoe’s performance turning on a dime from goofy oddness to genuine menace. Malkovich’s F.W. Murnau is great—turning the Stanislavsky Method into an actual act of violence against his actors would be a heavy-handed metaphor, except that it’s done so deftly. The film is brisk and compact, a tidy little present that left me awed and unsettled.
The Masque of Red Death
Roger Corman’s reputation as the n’est plus ultra of B movies makes it easy to forget that the man had one hell of an eye. It’s not just that he could work with a low budget, but that he could make a low budget look good. The imagery in The Masque of Red Death is lurid and genuinely unnerving, and the movie gets a lot of mileage out of its skimpy (though visually rich) source material. Geoff described this one to me as “The most Tumblr movie that Tumblr hasn’t discovered yet,” and I get what he means; it’s almost infectiously screencappy. Plenty of ~socioeconomic relevance~, if you go in for that, and I usually do.
The Devil’s Advocate
Expensive, high camp, as only the ’90s could bring us. The days of these opulent, misguided studio dramas are basically over, and it breaks my heart a little. This movie is such an artifact of that era. Pacino’s rants are as great as advertised, but they’re just the tip of the iceberg. The hamfisted symbolism, the unconvincing casting, the way every single actor says the word “fuck” the way an eleven-year-old, proud to be getting away with something, says the word “fuck.” There’s just so much to love. They really don’t make ‘em like this anymore.
Bride of Frankenstein
Rarely have I been so taken aback; this one was both weirder and more moving than I ever could have imagined. Full of perverse touches, like an assortment of homunculi in jars (including a miniature king that looooves mischief) nestled right up against moments of heartbreak (the monster experiencing his first, all too brief moments of kindness), it’s a disorienting balance, but an exciting one. Elsa Lanchester brings her doe-eyed oddness in equal measure to the parts of Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley and The Bride. Imagine the crushing despair in being a monster and having another monster look at you and go “eww.” I don’t have to imagine, because I was a teenager once. Great movie. Highly recommended.
The Evil Dead
Oh-ho did this one ever push the limits of the amount of gore I can tolerate! I didn’t find myself as invested in it as I wanted to be, but I will say this: there aren’t a lot of movies that I can say are shot funny, but Evil Dead definitely is. I appreciated its madcap, funhouse-y quality* more than I did its over-the-top grossness (I get the appeal—I just don’t feel it). As a declarative statement by a young filmmaker, it’s great, an endearingly excessive demonstration of imagination (I felt the same way watching Dead Alive).
The Blair Witch Project
Nope. Boo. Yes, it’s always disappointing watching an influential movie over a decade later, when its pervasiveness has already become overwhelming. But there is a clear delineation between something that was good at the time and something that was never good, and this is the latter. Not only is its found footage format unjustified (because guess what—THE FOUND FOOTAGE FORMAT IS ALWAYS UNJUSTIFIED), the movie spends untold amounts of energy desperately trying to justify it, at the expense of telling a good story. And look, I’m terror > horror to the grave (HAHHH), but if you want your audience to make up the difference with their own sick imaginations, you have to give them something to work with. A hint. Anything.
And noooot to get on a soapbox about it, but this whole movie is about a woman who is a big whiner, a shitty leader, and a poor navigator. Come on now.
Story by M. Night Shyamalan, which should be enough of a goofy draw, but it’s so much more. People stuck in an elevator, but one of them is tHe DeViL, as though a bunch of 15-year-olds were rounded up and asked to pitch movies and this is the one that was chosen. The presence of the Devil is demonstrated by a character throwing a piece of toast (found in a security room?) only to have it land butter-side down, SEE? Don’t you SEE IT, you can’t turn a blind eye to this STUNNING EVIDENCE. This puppy is a well-oiled machine of bush league ideas, and it’s a real delight to watch. The Devil is the old lady because of course it is. She escapes at the end. I imagine her flying above Philadelphia in her sensible shoes, cackling wildly as Our Protagonist, he of the dead loved ones and the drinking problem and the lapsed faith, forgives the man who killed said loved ones in a hit and run and oh man how can I do this justice?
To sum up, Devil is like watching a high school play of itself, and that alone makes it worthwhile.
Children of the Corn
You know how sometimes you look at a title and think “That is, if not a metaphor, than a demonstration of some kind of indirectness, because it’s not possible that it is a literal description of the movie I am about to watch.” Well strap in, buckaroos, because Children of the Corn is about children and corn. That’s all I’ve got to say about it.
Dressed to Kill
Brian De Palma does Psycho, and it makes you wonder why, after that, anyone would think they actually had to remake Psycho. A snappy little thriller with some unpleasantly retrograde attitudes toward trans* people (the villain gets correctly gendered more often than not, however, which is…something??). Lotta great outfits in this one, and some really super scenes of suspense. It’s not a controversial opinion to say that De Palma’s always been gunning for the Next Hitchcock pedestal, and the guy has the chops. This movie is a good object lesson in making heavy-handedness work for you.
When I finish watching a movie for the first time, I like to take to Wikipedia afterward, because hey, you learn a lot of good things that way, and sometimes movies have truly incredible pages. This is one where I’d recommend going there first because while there’s something to be said for going into a movie this notoriously bonkers blind, I found that the context (like for example, that the writer wrote in English although she didn’t have the firmest grasp on it and was also trying to express her anger at her vegetarian friends through cinema) only heightened my appreciation.
If I had watched this while still living in a house in the Valley, I wouldn’t have been able to sleep. It is THE suburban slasher, where terror lurks into the ten foot distance in the dark between you and the outdoor laundry room, or behind the tall windows, which, missing the natural light that makes them so desirable, turns them into prosceniums for a play you can never be sure you aren’t acting in front of a shadowy voyeur. Pleasantly surprising how well it holds up in spite of its familiarity. It leans a little heavily on third act character stupidity, but the scares are real all the same.
Pleasantly surprised by this one as well. In-jokey and self-referential while still being genuinely scary and subversive, it’s basically the movie that a lot of very wrong people told me Cabin in the Woods would be. Watching Wes Craven lacerate the genre that made him (all the while very much serving that genre) is exciting in a way that watching Joss Whedon point at a trope and say “That trope” could never be. Look at everybody’s precious ’90s faces. Skeet Ulrich, hope he’s out there somewhere, having drinks with Claire Forlani and talking about what might have been. The biggest disappointment of this movie was finding out that Breckin Meyer was up for Jamie Kennedy’s role and didn’t get it. Could you imagine, could you EVEN IMAGINE the warmth he would have brought to that role? David Arquette shoulders the warmth burden just fine. Did he and Courtney Cox meet on that set? Was it their Cruel Intentions? Rose McGowan should never be blonde, not ever.
*Fun fact about me: The first time I was ever in a funhouse I had to be bodily lifted out the window into the arms of my mom because I was absolutely not having it. Circus aesthetics are creepy enough in themselves, but I remember being wholly terrified at the idea that the only way out was through, which is why I was also scared of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory and why every time the L train is delayed under the East River it takes years off my life.
"Point Break was originally called Johnny Utah when Keanu Reeves was cast in the title role. The studio felt that this title said very little about surfing and by the time Patrick Swayze was cast, the film had been renamed Riders on the Storm after the famous rock song by The Doors. However, Jim Morrison's lyrics had nothing to do with the film and so that title was also rejected. It was not until halfway through filming that Point Break became the film’s title because of its relevance to surfing.”
“At the 1992 MTV Movie Awards, Point Break was nominated for three awards including “Most Desirable Male” (Keanu Reeves), “Most Desirable Male” (Patrick Swayze), and “Best Action Sequence” for the second jump from the plane. In it, Agent Utah jumps out of a plane without a parachute to catch Bodhi and rescue Tyler. Utah catches up with Bodhi and holds a gun to his head. However, Bodhi refuses to pull the rip cord and Utah must decide between dropping his gun (so he can hold on and pull the rip cord) or letting the two fall to the ground. The film ultimately won “Most Desirable Male” for Keanu Reeves.”
Yikes, what a specific question! Only novels! 1985-2013! JEEZ. As I am away from my bookshelf, which I’m sure would provide a nice visual reference for this question, I’m just gonna have to go off the top of my head here. Bear in mind, I’m not very well-read in any specific era. A mile wide and an inch deep, that’s me:
Lonesome Dove, Larry McMurtry
Lonesome Dove is playing with a stacked deck because “gritty, emotional, epic western” is pretty much the last word for me. It walks a very difficult line between allowing its characters to be both matter-of-fact and deeply affected by the cheapness of life in harsh environs. They are people whose relationships with the memory of people they loved are as much a fact of life as their relationships with the living people around them. Unbelievably rich, well-drawn characters. Gus McRae is one of my favorite characters in literature, and when I found out that this novel is where my parents got the idea to name me “Augustus” had I been a boy, I was almost okay with it. Almost.
Not to mention that McMurtry rewrote it to be a novel after his screenplay died in development. SOMETIMES FAILURE IS A GIFT BLAH BLAH BLAH.
The Black Dahlia, James Ellroy
I could list you all kinds of Ellroys here, but The Black Dahlia is the one that really hurt. It’s so raw; he doesn’t have the same command over his style that he later developed. His later novels would have shades of Bucky Bleichert, the protagonist undone by obsession, but this is the unvarnished, from hunger version. Truly ugly, truly great.
Swamplandia, Karen Russel
Lush, spooky coming-of-age novel. Something that almost seems like it sprang out of that deep well at the back of your brain where you keep ghost stories, urban legends, and the personal mythologies you develop from looking down a dark hallway as a kid. Plus, you know, alligators.
2666, Roberto Bolaño
The standard against which I measure the contemporary big, ambitious, mysterious novel. Bolaño doesn’t fall into the trap of getting so caught up in the vast, mysterious world he creates that he treats his characters like meat puppets (looking at you…everyone). One of the most intellectually and emotionally demanding books I’ve ever read. If you want a book that won’t remind you that the world is caving in under the weight of violence and indifference to violence…this is not that book!! It’s great, though. So great.