So, in the interest of actually putting things on my blog, despite the fact that I'm not really in the place for major thoughtpieces right now, I'm going to try a new thing.
I've got mixed feelings about the screenwriting site Scriptshadow on various levels, ranging from the aesthetic to the ethical. But one thing I have found interesting is the occasion feature the site does where they list 10 things they learned from a certain film from a writing perspective. So I'm going to go through a couple of movies I saw recently and talk about what I learned from them. Not going to be 10 things, not even going to review the movie. Just think of it as a series of quick thoughts on what techniques worked and which ones didn't.
END OF WATCH (2012, David Ayers)
Tip 1: Supporting characters need to have a reason to exist.
Jake Gyllenhaal & Michael Pena's significant others barely get any screentime and they don't have a character arc of their own. But yet they occupy a lot of time and space in the movie relative to their function. What do they establish that Gyllenhaal & Pena's conversations & squad-car time do not already establish?
Tip 2: For big emotional moments, less is more.
At the end of the movie (SPOILERS), a main character gets up at someone's funeral to give the eulogy. Normally, you'd think a writer would go for broke on this. But Ayers just has the character choke out, "he was my brother" and then break down. It's a very strong choice because the character has been established as macho & intelligent & talkative. So this gives us an idea of how much the character has been hurt by this death.
Tip 3: Know when to end.
Unfortunately, Ayers decided to end the movie with a flashback to a typical "day in the life" moment. It doesn't give us anything new, emotionally or information-wise. In fact, by cutting back, it undermines the genuine emotion the previous scene had brought up.