Thursday, July 19, 2007


I couldn't resist blogging about the movie Premonition today. Yes, I'm just now getting around to seeing it, but I love the DVD added features. Priceless to a writer. Of course, it was a given I'd love the premise. The similarities to my novel Chasing Midnight are glaring and obvious and brought to mind many of the issues I dealt with when writing it.

The non-linear narrative structure is something I'm always drawn to. How better to get in the mind of a character thrown into chaos than to give the reader (or audience) the same sense of confusion? Hard to pull off and not everyone wants to go along for a ride where they must actively participate in the puzzle. A commentary on the passivity of our culture; but, I digress. Thankfully, there is a segment of the population who crave movies like Memento and Deja Vu and the quasi-romance blend of The Lake House and Premonition. As difficult a concept as time is to understand, in the not-too-distant future, the folds and nuances and possibilities will become clear and these movies and novels won't seem like a relic from the Twilight Zone.

In the bonus features, the writer and director discuss the challenges to the actors and production people to put together a scrambled movie experience. At one point, they rearranged the scenes chronologically like a deck of cards to determine if they'd accounted for every thread, every detail. A great trick, even for a writer juggling subplots. Pluck them out and read them in a linear fashion to determine if they work in the overall scope. And, when the creative minds behind Premonition reached the end, they had some hard decisions to make.

What about audience expectations? The Hollywood ending that movie-goers secretly crave, but makes critics cringe? How can they reconcile the best possible ending for the story with one that won't disappoint. In Chasing Midnight, the poignant and bittersweet nature of the love story would have struck an artificial note had the woodland animals emerged and a sweeping orchestral crescendo descended upon the final pages. Romance publishers are experimenting with "optimistic" endings in an effort to inject honesty in the genre. Readers know without a doubt my hero and heroine will find their "happily ever after." The payoff is just as satisfying as a heroine swept into the hero's arms against the backdrop of a painted sunset.

And the ending to Premonition? No spoilers here. Watch it. Watch the alternate ending on the DVD. Then let me know what you think.
The most common unexplainable human phenomenon: precognition


Maureen McGowan said...

I really want to see Premonition... Have you seen, gah! can't remember the name of the movie, now. French film. Brutal violence. (horrible rape scene) but very intresting narrative structure. I'll think of the name and let you know. Something like inconceivable, but en francais...

Anyway... it was great to meet you and talking to you. I dug through some of my old drunk writer talk posts and through you might be interested in this one.

Maureen McGowan said...

Blew my html...

Maybe this link will work?

L.A. Mitchell said...

The link was perfect. I can't get over how similar our tastes are. We will single-handedly bring on the new commercial-literary craving of alternate structure. I've added your movies listed to my watch list.

Marilyn Brant said...

How unsettling :). I was JUST thinking about renting Premonition last night--I'd seen the trailer as a preview for another film and, for some reason, couldn't get it out of my mind. Then I came upon your post today...and now you and Maureen have convinced me that I need to speed over to Blockbuster. Immediately, if possible. Before time shifts and I lose my chance to see it :).

It was such a pleasure meeting you in Dallas, and I look forward to future conversations--online and in person. Thanks for stopping by my blog and for linking me to yours.

BTW, although you're probably already familiar with him, have you read Jack Finney? His novel TIME AND AGAIN is one of my all-time favorites, and he has many fascinating short stories as well that deal with time travel, although I don't recall any that have an alternate structure as pronounced as Memento or The Lake House. Also, Katherine Neville's THE EIGHT is a mesmerizing novel, which combines elements of history, time, alchemy, espionage and chess. Have you read it?