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rigid, but important
am 4. April 2000
After reading screenplay books for years -- the likes of Syd Field, McKee, Howard, Hunter, etc. -- Mamet is a refreshing change. I realized how the other books, for all intents and purposes, were analyses of scripts, avoiding or skirting the issues of method and process. In other words, it's not hard to look at a huge box office and critically-acclaimed hit (Chinatown being the consensus favorite) and explain what makes it so good. We all know it's good. We've seen the movie. We've read the script. We're all in awe. And we all know the elements. But the actual process of writing, of formulating a story visually, of actually creating instead of merely analyzing, seems to be an afterthough to these folks. I mean, in some way, you've got to ask yourself why these fellas -- McKee, Field, and others -- have never actually written a thing! Mamet espouses a simplicity to the process of storytelling in film, beat by beat. It's a bit repetitive and sterile, as is the man himself. I don't agree with him on everything, and neither will you. He contradicts himself all the time and seems to take delight in his own presence, but he is a great craftsman, and anyone looking to tell stories visually would be mistaken to think this book unimportant or trivial. A must read for aspiring filmmakers, especially those who write.