Saw Ben Affleck last night in a special screening of his latest film, ARGO. He directed and acted in this film based on a book about the real-life events involving American hostages held in Iran. I won’t give any spoilers. Billy Ray (who wrote drafts of Hunger Games) did the interview and it was relaxed and funny. Ben was given the screenplay by Warners, it had been developed by George Clooney, who you can easily see playing the lead role himself. Ben is actually much better looking than the CIA agent he’s portraying, but he did a nice, understated job.
It is very much a sit-on-the-edge-of-your-seat kind of political thriller and Ben said he watched many of the great ones from the 70s for research. He also said that the first film he directed — the wonderful GONE BABY GONE — was his first experience looking at the rough cut. And he shared how he hated it, thought he’d never get another chance to direct, it was so awful. We know now how great that film turned out. He said this time, when he looked at the rough cut, he had the same sick feeling but he also knew that the film could and would get better.
And I thought of how close that is to the first draft of a manuscript for a novel. Many authors have said how you have to allow yourself to write a horrible first draft. If you don’t, then you are holding something back, you’ll be too careful, and you might not even finish the manuscript. You have to trust that you will make it better, that this was a way of getting your ideas down on paper, the way an artist sketches a skeleton-like portrait with a pencil before going back and filling it in.
LOOPER — I have been waiting for this and saw it today. Loved the first half. Sadly, because I am picky, it took a turn around midway that was nowhere near as interesting and muddied up the plot. If he had not gone that direction, this could have been brilliant. I can’t remember when I last felt so excited about the beginning of a film and then felt like I came crashing down hard. Still, it is definitely, absolutely worth seeing if you like science fiction/time travel, but note this is edgier and more adult than most of them, and I think rated R, so not for everyone.
Tomorrow I will brave the empty freeways and head to the Orange County Childrens’ Book Festival. I’ll be on a short, half-hour YA panel at 11:00 am and then signing right after. They are giving a way a huge grand prize of a ton of books, and I think five other baskets of books. It’s all free, but you get more tickets to enter based on the panels you attend. So come by and say hi at booth #36, SCBWI Teen Authors around 11:30.