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Author of queer, quirky sci fi/fantasy books. On Amazon.
Editor of all fiction genres.

Monday, 25 January 2016

The One I Love: A Missed It Review

Hello hello!

So, you know how Missed It reviews work by now--I surf around on Netflix, pull up a less than recent release which is either an indie gem or an indie turd, or sometimes, it's a cultural classic that I've never had a chance to track down. This time, it's an indie gem--The One I Love, starring Elizabeth Moss (Hi, Peggy from Mad Men!). Recommendation credit goes to Sarah Dimento, she of the excellent blog.

There will be a few


SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS


but as always, I will try to keep them to a minimum.



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Summary


A man and a woman are in a relationship. That relationship has gone stale. We've all heard that one before--but the direction this film takes is decidedly unusual. It's a Philip K. Dick-style twist on relationship counselling. In the most literal take on self-reflection possible, the couple soon discovers that their strange, idyllic cottage hosts not only themselves, but idealised versions of themselves. What they do with the revelation, and their doppelgangers, forms the rest of the drama.

The biggest thing about this film is that not only does it do a lot with a little--it's similar to Safety Not Guaranteed or Timer. Like those two, this speculative fiction film really explores a concept without resorting to fancy CGI or effects-and -like the other two, it stayed with me.

Pros


The cinematography is great, and the movie avoids the problems rife with mumblecore. The characters are likeable, everything looks appealing, and the darkly comedic setup never stoops for a laugh or makes the protagonists too despicable to tolerate. The acting is excellent, and while the pacing was a bit imperfect, this is one of the best low-budget movies I've seen. I guess CGI or something must have been used to allow the actors to appear in the same frames as themselves, but it wasn't noticeable. The movie is very unsettling in a way--especially given one of its possible interpretations--and there's no sense of cheapness or emotional shortcuts in the writing.

Cons


I flipped through a few reviews online, and as people discussed the intricate rules of the house versus the guest house, a lot of reviewers failed to notice that Other Ethan and Other Sophie eventually came to be more like the previous versions of the characters--even while Ethan and Sophie themselves took on more ideal traits as their relationship was tested. Of course, the ending is eerie, and calls into question whether Ethan left with "the right Sophie"--but what if there never really was a "wrong Sophie"? My personal theory is that the characters can't leave the house until they've turned into the ideal people they were trying to become. All the photos and stuff were a trap, or a fake-out of some sort--the characters are essentially confronting alternate versions of themselves.

Other critics, though, offered the unsettling and intriguing suggestion that the movie is about the ephemeral idea of a perfect partner. The Other Sophie and Other Ethan are, in some ways, very different from their real-world versions. Some people said that the Others replace the couple out in the real world, and the original couple then has to help the next couple and replace them in order to gain their freedom. But that makes less sense than some sort of shape-shifting robot or echo or something that simply remains on-site, at the holiday house.

Still, if you don't mind debating these ideas with your viewing partner after watching this, you'll be very rewarded.


Final verdict




Still, the fact that the movie has multiple interpretations and layers is what makes it worthwhile; I'm not sure why people called it "uneven" or weird, but if you let this movie take your hand and guide you through its strangeness, you'll be in for a really strange and wonderful, thought-provoking treat--that might even make you reconsider and appreciate your own relationship.

Monday, 18 January 2016

Stirring a Tail Wind in the Doldrums: Beating Writer's Block

Hello hello!

It's been a long time. Since I last shared Katie's post in November, I had to deal with health issues for both myself and my partner, and after that, a move to another city. Add in my high and still piling-up editing queue, and you have a recipe for a blog disaster--a long, cold period of abandonment.

I considered abandoning my blog entirely. It's not unheard of, and it happens to a lot of blogs and bloggers--to many writers, as well. On that topic, I'm now months behind on my publishing schedule.

What was I to do? Merely navigating to my blog or my writing folders stirred self-loathing's embers and the sickly smoke of guilt. A close friend of mine, over at SarahDimento, went from two hours a day (!) devoted to writing, down to only fifteen minutes, and then fell off the wagon a bit. It's an epidemic, especially at this time of year, and for anyone who suffers from Seasonal Affective Disorder or depression.

But being a writer means that even when writing is not physically or mentally possible, an itch and a tickle remain. They can only be ignored for so long. And then, too, this is the season of resolutions. The Romans saw it as a grim time of year, to look back to the past and consider one's behaviour, and many of us lose ourselves in guilt over broken self-promises and holiday indulgence.

The only way to break the cycle is to refuse to indulge in guilt, and just try to do better without self-condemnation. Since I can only assume that some of you are struggling with your writing goals as well--or have no idea where to start with goals.

Wat do?


I have a list of prompts I give my editing or coaching clients. Here are a few of them to chew on and to get you started. These are great for short stories, but can also be thrown into the middle of a story if you're stuck. Of course, they can also then be deleted if you don't like the results, but don't worry about quality--start with trying to write. Behold!

  • What could a dying man possibly want as his dying wish?
  • A lightbulb just broke, and it is the worst thing that could have happened. Why?
  • Your character is locked in a bathroom stall. How did they get there, and why are they there?
  • Your character's mother is right behind them, and this is terrible. Why?


But maybe that's not enough. 


What else can you do? Take 'er easy on yourself. Try a 'no zero' thing. Write at least one word a day. That is right--literally just one word. Or, one word a week, if it's a bad week. If you do a whole sentence, guess what? You just broke your daily quota; that's what! Words can be in your blog, journal, or a story file. Basically, Facebook, Twitter, emails, and texts don't count--it's tempting to count those communicative mediums, but try not to cheat.

One word is too easy, but short stories sound too hard. 


You can also try free assocation--just write strings of nonsense, following whichever words come to your head, in whichever order. These sometimes bear fruit, and it's a good idea to keep a prompt scrapbook for times when a short story idea crops up.

The newspaper, if you can still find one, can also be a goldmine. Online blogs and compilers are pretty good, too, especially if you follow weird news streams. Personal ads and Craigslist are particularly interesting places to browse for a short idea. Any conspiracy theory site can be an excellent leaping-off point, and just because you're Netflixing, doesn't mean you can't take some notes.

What if the notes don't do anything? 


Don't worry about it. The discipline required is what you are trying to build, and the point is to overcome guilt and self-loathing, as well as a sense of failure. The one thing that won't keep you creating and working is focusing on everything that hasn't happened.


Hell, last week I could barely Netflix. It was bad. Today? Today is good. So keep on truckin'; writing isn't a sprint. It's a marathon. And you know what's the secret about marathon running? Sometimes y'walk.

And if you can't write, doodle or colour. Just put that pen on paper.


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\Thanks for returning to the nest. Leave a comment and say hi! I want to hear from you. Keep up with the new releases by getting on the mailing list.Buy my books on Amazon, and keep up with me on TwitterFacebook, Tumblr, and the original blog. This is the one and only SciFiMagpie, over and out! 
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