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Movie Notes

  • 🎥 Movie notes: Bad Words

    I listened to the Scriptnotes podcast on Learning from Movies as a screen writer. These were some of the suggested questions for reflection on a film.

    I’ve chosen the film Bad Words as I watched it recently. No spoilers. And this isn’t really a review, it’s more my thoughts about the film.

    What’s working in it for me?

    • I believed the protagonist. I didn’t like him as a character much but I believed in his conviction.

    What’s not working for me?

    • I don’t think I would have known his motivation without my friend telling me about it ahead of me watching the movie. Maybe that would have changed my thinking? But it might have felt a little more cruel and aimless until the reveal.

    If it’s not working why is it not working?

    • I’m not exactly sure. I think I should re-watch it with these questions in mind.

    What could you have done differently in that movie to make it click?

    • Not sure, see above.

    Who is the hero is in this story and what the function of that hero?

    • The hero of the story is the main character. He functions to disrupt the spelling bee.

    What they want? Both on a macro scale, the overall arc of their journey through the story, but on a micro level. On a scene-by-scene, moment-by-moment do you understand what that hero wants?

    • They wish to disrupt the spelling bee. Like I said above it took a while to get to the motivation behind it all. Perhaps that’s what’s leaving me unsettled about this film.

    And if you do how is that being communicated? What information are they giving you to let you know what that hero wants?

    • His actions are to disrupt the contestants, the process, the managment of the spelling be. In the few scenes that are not directly related to this, he is making other choices that are hurtful to others. He’s aware, he just doesn’t care.

    How does the antagonist arrive in the story?

    • Well I think there’s a misdirection here. The real antagonist is the protagonist. He’s getting in his own way. Not the character with the reveal that might happen too late in the film.

    How do they challenge the hero?

    • Drives the hero to commit bad acts in order to have vengeance.

    How quickly and how well does the film establish who is important and what they’re going after?

    • Ah, maybe this is it. It’s not explicitly clear (I dont think) of the hero’s intentions. We see all this bad behavior, but don’t learn what he wants to do and why until later. Hrmmm.