Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Alan Arkin Gets The Line(s) Of The Year

At about the 1:20 mark in the latest featurette for 'Argo' Alan Arkin delivers a line. Okay, so what. Movies are filled with lines. But, this isn't just a line of dialogue, it's a one-liner and we don't get those anymore.

"It means Argo fuck yourself."

Yeah, that's a line. Nothing but. That could be, language aside, from a black and white 50s or 60s flick delivered by a sharp-eyed square-jawed cigarette smoking guy in a crumpled suit and a tired fedora. We don't have those anymore, either.

Lines are forbidden in screenwriting these days. Cheeky, easy, convenient, lazy. They're red flags for audiences. They indicate characters that are paper thin, and mean there's likely no subtext or theme worth a damn, and are a sign the movie is a by-the-numbers exercise designed simply to relieve you of some cash.  And, so, they don't make it into scripts (even for movies that meet the above criteria) and, if they do, they're cut or re-written before production starts.

(ADDED A WHILE AFTER POSTING: The assumption is the above doesn't apply to 'Argo'. Not from the looks of it, anyway).

I love this zinger from Arkin. Captures a lot of what's going on. The old-school approach of Arkin's character Lester Siegel -- a composite of various real Hollywood producers -- who has no qualms when it comes to speaking his mind. You also get a sense of the pressure Siegel is under, and the line provides a good chuckle, much needed.

Arkin gets another line. At 1:30, he says "(In the Army) we did suicide missions that had better odds than this."

Drives the point home and it's a pure one-liner. Only thing missing is the snare drum sting.

Here's my favorite. At :28 (in the featurette below) Siegel proclaims, totally full of himself, "If I'm doing a fake movie it's going to be a fake hit."

Nice. Well written by Chris Terrio, nicely directed by Ben Affleck, and probably couldn't have been delivered by another actor. Arkin scores.

Cue the drummer.


No comments:

Blog Archive