Pop in at Lilla & Moni's party, visit
Scott & Rita, and see in New Year with
mother back at Stephen's Liszt-Ferenc-ter flat. On the way out and back nervously dodge teenage boys
throwing fireworks in the street. The
smell of gunpowder coming off the pavements quite evocative though.
Have caught my mother's
Sasha's birthday party good though.
gin with Esther,
port at Stephen's.
beer with Veronica.
I shall miss the
fairy lights covering trees down both sides of Andrassy ut when they go.
the Romantic Comedy' by screenplay analyst Billy Mernit, is a cheerful, helpful,
rather badly-written book about writing. Every page bounces with ugly language.
Screenplays might not need good prose, but some of
it is still a bit cringe-making: "This
interesting idiosyncracy (Edward's
fear of heights in 'Pretty Woman') is just the
kind of psychological nugget that a sodium Pentathol session with your character may unearth."
(For anyone not placing plot-payoff bets as soon as Edward's psychological nugget
Plenty of practical advice, though. He has watched a lot of films,
'The Lady Eve' to
at Tiffany's', even briefly raising his cap in the direction
of the romance subplot within
He apologises for introducing it, but the 7-beat
model makes its entrance, with various points in the story called things like The Swivel or The
Dark Moment. Some handly lists at the back confirm that the almost textbook plot of
Woman' made it the highest-grossing movie of this kind in the US. (A film I watched dubbed into
Hungarian in the 1990s when the only words I knew were yes+no+thankyou. I was able to
follow it effortlessly, so smoothly-oiled was the plot's machinery. (Mernit uses
the word 'armature'.)) This should give some idea of the overall approach:
"Your protagonists should come equipped - like interlocking puzzle pieces -
with just the right-shaped edges to match each other's profile."
He praises the (slightly drab)
'Chasing Amy' as a
cunning variation on the classic structure, likewise with
about Mary'. He acknowledges it's
harder to write innocently frolicking stories than it was in the era of
'Some Like it Hot' or
earlier in the late 30s - his favourite period.
'When Harry Met Sally',
Seattle' (two others I found a bit dreary) plus
Weddings and a Funeral' (which I
never saw) got special mentions: showing romance can still be fresh today.
Hmmm. Perhaps I need some romantic comedy in my own life before looking at this genre. Probably
mother's real message.
Overall, this left me feeling I should have seen (Andy Bennett at school praised
'Annie Hall' -
in Mernit's view as well as Bennett's, Woody Allen's finest romantic comedy.
Mother and I finish the
surprisingly nasty bottle of Villanyi Kekfrankos I bought yesterday. Avoid
this wine, citizens.
I finish the Mernit book and open a threatening lawyer's letter from
about my (now down to) 95-quid debt. Avoid
I start Billy Mernit's
the Romantic Comedy',
a present from mother. She still surprises me.
Pick up cold-prone mother from
Esther's and Stephen's kindness save Christmas.
2nd day at the
Dunaujvaros paper mill.
At home try to switch on heating, finding that
Geza the Git
installed a hot-water boiler which heats no radiators.
With Tim to paper mill for first day of interpreting work. Fascinating to see round a
production line with 3-tonne rolls being cut, stacked & wrapped into small packages of
photocopy paper. Occasionally someone on a fork-lift truck whizzes past
(tight turning circle) the Christmas tree beside the palletising machine
& shrink-wrapping oven. Over lunch I rather go on at Tim
about local scrip with
for large businesses in small depressed towns.
Dubbing 6 German horror-movie trailers. If you know me,
send me your postal address. My address books were
in 2002, so I can't reach many people.
are a bit of a mystery to me. How do I spend them, exactly?
of it, mate.
Animated drink with Tim - I
a bit too much. + Dancing with the
stylish Kerry &
the delightfully dizzy Rita late in some cellar.
Eszter!} Usual Budapest party:
dumpy bar hideously full of cigarette smoke, yet, oddly, packed with alluring women.
Tea at Carolyn & Gabor's flat. Finished article for
After seeing Ari's flat and meeting Politics Judit &
later to a
to see show about angels with two paintings by Sasha. We meet
while I get rather silly on sweet champagne.
Big-Client Architect Norman
Foster thrills France, of course.
& options for starving people?
Robin fixes first photograms.
Writers' Group last night at
we find writing one-line gags is really quite hard.
Today, a 3-foot-high glowing
Santa Claus is plugged in at our end of the office corridor.
So it's true. Left-handers are
after all. Bastards.
Part-way through lesson with Dusan all the
lights go out, as a school play starts downstairs. But
Marion's computer still works, so he and I finish the
tutorial by the light of the glowing grey oblong of
& I have sausages at Sasha's. Sasha has a
couple of exciting new paintings I hadn't seen.
On morning 7 bus across Danube a very sleek Cuban girl
loaded down with brand-name shopping bags sidles up to
me in a thrillingly brazen manner and we have a natter
in very basic English until she reaches the
After lesson with Judit in afternoon about Islamic
terrorism, proceed to
where I give a perhaps
rather confusing talk on India. Promised links as
Then later with Esther to
business event, getting fairly squiffy and chancing on
Esther shows me a photograph of a friend named (oh yes) Yaffa Truelove.
at the Central
Cafe. Jeremy oddly vocal about "shaven-headed,
A type, apparently.
Georgina makes fabulous carrot cake, gives me
Chilly fog closes in on
studio. We drive Letty to the convent school in Kecskemet at dusk.
really is a bit loopy.
Crowded but inspiring train journey into the countryside. Seemed to be
able to think clearly, despite lots of distractions. A lad next to
me sat with a girl talking to him quite quietly, but nonstop, for at
least an hour. He said
than fifty words, she
over a thousand, but
they looked quite in love with each other.
Then Robin & I played pool in Lakitelek until midnight.
Mariann makes a fine soup at her flat, then we watch Peter Greenaway's
& 1/2 women' on DVD on a computer monitor with
albeit in a choking haze of cigarette smoke. Like every other
film, a mixture of beautifully-framed, symmetrical long shots
of grand-looking interiors, stiff-shirted men and women talking with
bureaucratic woodenness about their complicated sexual desires, & rather
bilious, overexcited use of colour. Creating a mood of
pretentious, stagey decadence. Add a dash of
fascination with Japanese junk culture [in this case,
Russell-esque penchant for sex, religion
& visual loopiness, and a trainspotterish interest
in numbers and geometry, and you have a typical
casserole. The plot of 8 & 1/2 women:
a man and his bereaved father fill his expensive Geneva home with a
small harem of various women, and get bored. A depressingly
English-Catholic feel. Men are made ridiculous and
weak by their sexual desires, and it's in vain anyway
since women always have the last laugh. Drab outlook, despite the
An hour in Mariann's kitchen afterwards listening to a likeable
but first-rank drug bore go on about his rather uneventful
helped me see why some men find drugs such a good niche. It
offers a kind of experiential machismo for sensitive types: the male
can both intrigue women with his keen interest in emotion & mood,
yet at the same time show them he likes
daring, rebellious adventure and is mysteriously
experienced in the ways of the world.
All without having to be physically hard.
pops round for an
Mark Griffith, site administrator /
contact at otherlanguages.org
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