This Week’s Script Cavalcade: LA Confidential

This week’s highlighted script strong-arms us to the gritty back-alleys of 1950s Los Angeles and the caroming good cop/bad cop carousel that is Brian Helgeland and Curtis Hanson’s 1997 neo-noir crime yarn LA Confidential. Taut and trussed with tension, this is a screenplay that ably walks the walk and talks the talk. With stiletto sharp dialogue and convincing characters that transcend the genre it sometimes lampoons, LA Confidential is a script that smacks you across the face like a literary blackjack.

The screenwriters craft a complex web of double and triple-crosses and keeps the story propelled with plenty of who-dunnit momentum. The dexterity and comprehensive understanding of the conventions of film noir and police procedurals are one of the many reasons the script scooped up an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay. It takes long established noir tropes of dusky dames and fast-talking police palaver and delivers something that’s both familiar and all too unique.

To read LA Confidential is to soak up a masterclass in how to write incisive and considered character development. The players are repugnant, but you’re still compelled to care about them. They’re incorrigibly captivating despite their lack of scruples. We’ve got two detectives, Edmund Exley and Bud White. Two diametrically opposed flatfoots in terms of their modus operandi and approach to solving crimes. Exley is an over-calculating pedant hopelessly devoted to following procedures at all costs. While White is a hair-trigger pugilist always ready to wring out a confession from a perp with his wayward fists.

And as the plot thickens these two flawed but charismatic characters contrive to collaborate and take on the characteristics of the other. They prop one another up and compensate each other’s shortcomings developing into this crime-solving force that accentuates the strengths of both detectives while also ameliorating their respective vulnerabilities. It’s a superb example of knitting together nuanced character arcs that intertwine and serve the overall story. The percolating chemistry that swirls between these two obverse foils as they untangle the sinister conspiracy afoot is the impetus of their eventual cracking of the case. It goes beyond mere banter and all-around Dragnet-like ballyhoo. By script’s end, you’ll find it really challenges the motifs of any garden variety buddy-cop movie.

So swig two fingers of gin and gumshoe on over to the library. You’ll need that liquid courage for this hard-boiled hurly-burly of a read.

Off the record, on the QT, and very hush-hush.

And other newly uncovered rubies in our coffers include:

  • Drama-mystery series 13 Reasons Why created by Brian Yorkey adapted from the best-selling novel by Jay Asher.
  • BET’s R&B infused The New Edition Story penned by Abdul Williams.
  • The madcap musical melee that is Rachel Bloom’s Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.
  • Fox’s murky crime-drama Gotham developed by Bruno Heller.

So pad on over and have a chinwag. We at the library are always eager and able to bend your ears about the latest and greatest offerings in our collection.

Comb the catalog here.

This Week’s Script Cavalcade: Midnight in Paris

No one wrangles together the words quite like Woody. This week’s featured screenplay is Woody Allen’s 2011 whimsical mix of the neurotic and nostalgic Midnight in Paris.  Able, acerbic, and Academy Award-winning, this script marks a return to form and renaissance in Allen’s late career. It’s a script that strikes a fine balance between trenchant one-liners and heartfelt hurly-burlies. The script features a protagonist struggling with a thwarted romance for both a bonnie girl and a bygone generation. It’s fine fantasy fare that recalls his best out-there concepts a la The Purple Rose of Cairo or Sleeper.

If there’s any screenwriter you want to be reading and reading in abundance, it’s Woody Allen. This is a wordsmith who’s been cranking out the hits since the sixties. Prolific to a fault some would argue. But few would debate that many writers have the longevity, understanding, and natural nous for narrative and dialogue like Mr. Allan Steward Konigsberg. He’s assuredly sui generis in his work-rate and range of storytelling.

Coming from a largely comedic background, economy of language has always been his bread and butter. He has a keen ear for incisive lines that perfectly encapsulate and convey. Pithy and practical. He pares down and achieves a laconic profundity time and time again.

Listen to the language he employs to tidily capture the entire bibliography, tone, and persona of Ernest Hemingway in what is probably the funniest and bleakest monologue in his entire oeuvre:

It’s no easy feat to find the balance between romance and comedy. It’s a sweet spot that can be elusive. But this script is written with a diamond-cutter precision that finds that balance skillfully and with alarming frequency. The screenplay is littered with scenes that tickle the ribs and pluck the heartstrings. One just wades wistfully into the opening sequence:

So waltz on over and wallow in this tale of rose-colored yesteryears. A yarn about the creative process and remembrance and the act of writing itself, Midnight in Paris is meaningfully meta and memorable.

I’m sure you’ll remember it fondly.

I’ll leave you with these parting lines from the ever volatile Hemingway. All too sagacious methinks.

Also, the reams and reams of new scripts in the library this week include:

  • A grab bag of episodes from the drama series Greenleaf produced by Oprah Winfrey.
  • Scripts for the musically-soaked stylings of The Get Down created by Baz Luhrmann.
  • A largesse of new scripts for TNT’s Good Behavior created by Chad Hodge and Blake Crouch.
  • The swashbuckling fantasy-drama series The Shannara Chronicles based upon the novels by Terry Brooks airing on Spike.

We also invite you to browse our online catalog for the freshest harvest of scripts we’ve acquired of late.

This Week’s Script Cavalcade: Minority Report

I’m very enthused to write about this week’s featured script, a newly acquired draft of the 2002 science-fiction yarn MINORITY REPORT written by Scott Frank and Jon Cohen adapted from a short story written by Philip K. Dick.

This is a screenplay that is masterful in its complexity and ability to lump together a variety of genres into a compelling plot that delivers a devastating one-two of emotional oomph. It’s a most palatable soufflé peppered with leitmotifs of suspense, tech noir, and murder-mystery all slapped together and packaged as a traditional chase-thriller. It’s many plates spinning in the air. And it takes some narrative nimbleness not to let a single one wobble.

The screenplay lassos all the right stuff in a hundred and sixty-five pages. The pacing of the script is downright Hitchcockian. The heady existential interludes of determinism, the illusion of human agency, and the increasingly questionable role of technology and its encroachment upon a free society alludes to the very best of Orwell or Vonnegut. This is a script that swings for the fences in terms of imposing a thematic resoluteness and is in no short supply of ambition when it comes to delivering a message. It’s a writerly haymaker to the grey matter and gets the noodle percolating long after you flip past the last page.

An example of some of the ostentatious ontological rhetoric:

From a structural perspective, MINORITY REPORT has much to impart to aspiring writers in terms of action beats and goading the reader along to a rollicking and well-crafted knuckle-biting climax. Come in and thumb through this stand-out script. 

And these other new scripts in the library should also surely satiate your science-fiction fix:

  • Season one scripts for the SyFy series THE EXPANSE.
  • The 2004 neo-noir dystopian thriller I, ROBOT written by Jeff Vintar and Akiva Goldsman.
  • 2004’s climate sci-fi global-disaster script THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW penned by Roland Emmerich.

Please feel free to mosey through our online catalog for the other latest and greatest additions to our collection.

This Week’s Script Cavalcade: The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford

Newly acquired in the Foundation Library collection is the screenplay The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford written by Andrew Dominik. It’s a slow-burning and atmospheric read of the highest caliber. Dominik takes a historical outlaw and heaps layers and layers of complexity, tacit tension, and somehow humanizes an almost irredeemable and nigh mythological figure. The script is measured and minces no spare words. Each scene wrings optimum emotional impact and the implied conflict escalates with a slouched subtlety and ruffian rawness that is very in keeping with the screenplay’s subject and tonal themes.

The script’s use of regional language and vernacular is testament to the writer’s singular ear for dialogue. The words drip off the characters’ tongues like molasses and the sometimes elevated parlance is particularly jarring when juxtaposed against the extreme instances of casual violence that these characters commit. The screenwriter understands and employs these contradictions to great effect. And manages to find an effective mixture of menace and Appalachian erudition.

A dulcet example:

Andrew Dominik kicks the dust off auld Western tropes and strips the legacy of the genre to its bare bones. The script redresses the weary norms and motifs of conventional westerns and confounds readers with something newfound and unique. The Assassination of Jesse James is a screenplay that elicits several insightful lessons in pacing, inducing sympathy for despicable characters, and, most importantly, speaking volumes via scene-stealing silences.

Assassination is a fine script. Cold-blooded and calculating in execution.

Gallop on over and have a gander.

Also new:

  • The screenplay for the 2002 neo-noir crime thriller The Salton Sea by Tony Gayton.
  • The screenplay for Ebbe Roe Smith’s 1993 Los Angeles thriller Falling Down.
  • A slew of episodes from HBO comedy Vice Principals.
  • A hodge-podge of Boston Legal episodes from season two.

For further details on recent additions, we invite you to sift through our online catalog that is ever expanding daily.