Thoughts on Thinking

"When somebody persuades me that I am wrong, I change my mind. What do you do?" John Maynard Keynes

"If you're unhappy with your life, change your thinking." Charles Fillmore

"The primary cause of unhappiness is never the situation but your thoughts about it." Eckhart Tolle

"People are not disturbed by things, but by the view they take of them." Epictetus

"The unexamined life is not worth living." Socrates

"Consciousness is a terrible thing to waste." PunditGeorge

Friday, November 23, 2007

Pundit George in and at the Movies!

Pundit George goes to the movies

Frank Darabont wrote the screenplay and directed THE MIST, based on Stephen King’s novella. Darabont brought many of his celebrated cast and crew from Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile to Shreveport, Louisiana last spring to film the horror tale. THE MIST opened nationally Thanksgiving week. I’ll comment on it. Since I was a part of it.

THE MIST is a “thinking person’s” blood and gore horror flick. It’s got the shock and jump out of your seat moments but mostly it’s a look at ordinary people thrust in a bizarre and dangerous situation. A curious mist engulfs a Maine town following a horrendous storm. Many locals, including artist David Drayton (Thomas Jane) and feuding neighbor Brent Norton (Andre Braugher) converge on a supermarket still operating without power to get what food, batteries and such they can. The mist swallows the store, trapping all inside. There are things in the mist. Nasty things. They eat people, such as bag boy Norm (Chris Owen.)

The hapless shoppers divide into three groups as a means of coping with the disaster - Norton’s group which denies anything is dangerous, Drayton’s group who realize there are deadly things outside, and Mrs. Carmody’s group (Marcia Gay Harden) which claims it's the vengeance of an angry Old Testament God. Don’t bet on which group “triumphs.”

This pundit was one of about sixty locals portraying the shoppers trapped in the store. That translates into three to four weeks of six twelve to fourteen hour days on set. And what a set! The former Exposition Hall in downtown Shreveport was converted into a production studio. A full replica of the supermarket was built, complete with parking lot. The pharmacy was on another stage, as was the loading dock. Since the supermarket was systematically destroyed as the story progressed, filming was largely sequential - a rarity. This was the main reason this former thespian took three weeks vacation to join the ranks of shoppers whose day began with an earthquake and ended…can’t divulge that.

The production was a great mix of low-tech, high tech, digital imagery, and superlative make-up for effects. The pretty cashier bitten by a “bug” (Alexa Davalos) has a gruesome death as her neck and face swell and contort. I was next to her (off camera) for her death scene and it was spooky how real was her make-up.

Oh, yeah, the bugs and the “birds” that eat them. Some were models on set - really creepy - but mostly computer generated. There’s a knack to performing against something that isn’t there, such as the bug that landed on Mrs. Carmody and pondered chewing into her. The shot (once again yours truly next to Marcia, but off camera) was made with a fan blowing on Marcia to simulate the wing flutter of the bug as she reacted to its crawl up her chest. Another spooky moment on the screen.
Chronically erie is the mist itself. It was a physical effect in the studio. What you see on screen is what the cast saw and experienced on set. The same play with light and the same depth. Those folks who walk into and disappear in the mist did just that - it was that dense. There are a number of scenes where yours truly is a part of the action, such as the photo above (humble pundit is far left) and fully in the excitement on screen.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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