Story

This is epic

The epic is back:
Game of Thrones. House of Cards. Breaking Bad. Downton Abbey. Harry Potter. The Hunger Games. Twilight.
Modern storytelling is reverting, all the way back to the Canterbury Tales and Beowulf. Episodic long form is taking back the ground it lost to the three-act play.
Your flat screen is fast becoming the new village square, Netflix and HBO the new traveling bards. This is a big deal.

How to Watch a Movie

It isn’t that many of the movies we see are similar — it’s that they all are. Virtually every movie produced these days tells its story in the same way, following a rigid structure that, like the hidden image in a Magic Eye poster, becomes obvious only when you change your focus and look past the surface complexity to take in the larger whole. In an (only slightly) abbreviated form, here is the standard outline.

How to watch a movie, Part Two

Art thrives wherever it can find a niche audience. Live theater has escaped the shackles of required artistic conformity for the simple reason that each production doesn’t need a very large audience to be successful. An off-Broadway show can be happy with 50 paid seats a night. But the audience needed to recoup a hundred-million-dollar movie budget is, what? Twenty million ticket purchasers? More? That’s nobody’s niche.