Wednesday, December 30, 2009

I Survived

I saw Sherlock Holmes the other day. That movie is fun as hell. Just oodles of fun. Best work Guy Ritchie's done in a long time. I kept thinking Rachel McAdams was Penelope Anne Miller through the movie and wondered why she looked so young.

Anyway, I also saw this new show on the Biography channel called I Survived. Talk about story telling. Each episode, two or three people sit in front of a black background in close-up and tell a story. The story is intercut with still photos that are related to what they're telling, so the whole show is just these people telling a story and photos not of them or the story, but of other things. For instance, the pregnant lady who was attacked by a crazy baby stealer was intercut with pictures of dolls and an obvious baby's nursery.

Sounds simple, maybe even boring. But man, it really isn't.

I'm not sure how much coaching the producers do on the people who tell these stories, but they are engaging as hell. They've got ups and downs - almost all of them almost get away and then get dragged back in.

It's also a testament to our expectations of story. One woman was attacked in her house by a guy in a ninja suit with a meat cleaver who had been hiding in her attic for two days. She was wearing a towel. SPOILER WARNING FOR THAT EPISODE. The whole story you kept worrying he was going to rape her but rape seemed so obvious a storyline that we didn't actually think he would. Then he did. And she said it, just like that: "He raped me," angry as hell at the guy who did it. It wasn't fear in her eyes, it was rage. Turns out that since the event - during which she was also knifed and hammered in the head - she has become a victims counselor with the DA's office.

There was another episode where two guys were lost at sea. On the fourth or fifth day a boat almost ran them down but didn't even see them, so as they were touching the side of the boat trying to figure out how to get on board, it just passed them by.

A lot of these stories sound too insane to be true. They were all thrillers or horrors, and any one of them could make a great movie. And all it is is people just sitting in a room, talking about what happened. Amazing.

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