Monday, October 5, 2009


Genre: Psychological Thriller
Premise: A recently divorced female chef must cope with the disappearance of her next-door neighbor.
About: Marisa Tomei and Liv Tyler will star in this remake of South Korean director Chul-Soo Park’s 1995 film, “301/302.” Park will also direct the remake.
Writer: Floyd Byars

Cooking is just something I don’t do. If it requires a combination of ingredients, I’m not going to be the one combining them. If it’s in a bag or a box or between two sheets of bread, that’s my wheelhouse. They say you should step out of your comfort zone every once in awhile. Believe me, I’ve tried. And it’s never pretty. So when there is cooking to be done, I will wait politely behind the kitchen line while somebody else takes care of it. That said, the art of cooking intrigues me. Particularly the people who become obsessed with it. And there’s nobody more obsessed with cooking than Amy.

You see, Amy spent the better part of her marriage trying to make her husband happy in a very specific way: cooking for him. Breakfast, lunch, dinner...everything was about feeding and satisfying her man. But Amy has a bit of problem. She’s a teensy bit needy. And when I say "teensy bit" I mean "insanely fucking." She's always asking if the dish was good. “Was it good?" "Did you like it?” "Do you want more?" "Are you happy?" "Are you satisfied?" "Did you like it?" "Did you like it?" "Did you like it?" Over and over and over again. A few years of that will drive any man crazy. And sure enough, her husband went searching for someone else a little less obsessed with feeding him. In the meantime, Amy began eating everything her husband wouldn’t. And pretty soon, she looked like a chef whose food never made it out of the kitchen.

Flashforward to present day, where Amy, newly divorced, is being questioned by a detective about the whereabouts of the woman living in the next door apartment.This neighbor, Saffron, was a child actress who’s since found the acting industry noticeably unresponsive. As a result, she starves herself, trying to become as skinny as humanly possible, in hopes that that will somehow make up for her lack of youth. Before the disappearance went down, Amy forces her way into Saffron’s life, feeling the need to feed her, as she believes Saffron will die if she doesn’t. The contrast here of a “feeder” and a woman who “needs to be fed” is interesting, although it’s dealt with in such a weird way, it’s hard to determine if the result is successful. It definitely succeeds in being eerie, but I also feel like there was something lost in translation here. Whatever the case, it's different. And for the most part, that's a good thing.

The script itself jumps back and forth in time so much, it would make Tarantino’s head spin. We’re “fed” (heh heh) information this way, which helps us put together some of the earlier mysteries, and piece together the characters’ motivations. This time jumping is handled well enough, though we occasionally spend such large chunks of time in the past, that the rhythm of the screenplay is thrown off. I couldn't quite tell if we were in the present, experiencing flashbacks, or if were in the past, experiencing flashforwards. What is this? An episode of Lost?

I think it goes without saying that the Koreans have a unique view of the world. It's this view, I'm assuming, that doesn't quite mesh with the way we tell stories over here, which becomes both a blessing and a curse for the script. For example, large portions of the Korean movie “The Host” seem to focus on the most insignificant aspects of the characters’ lives. Yet you have Oldboy, which is one of my favorite films (due to one of the best twist endings I've ever seen), which seems to resonate on many levels.

I have a feeling this movie is going to be all about mood, and I’m guessing Park will follow the lead of his original film. Has anyone seen this film? Can you tell us how it's directed? Cause direction will definitely be key here. I picture a lot of lingering silences that aren’t evident in the script. In the right places, this could add a lot to a screenplay that lacks focus in areas.

In the end - if I'm going to keep the analogies going - 10A-10B is like the dish on the menu you're intrigued by, but are afraid to try. I took a chance, and while it wasn't quite for me, there are some tasty things here, at least enough to satisfy your appetite for the evening. :)

[ ] What the hell did I just read?
[x] barely kept my interest
[ ] worth the read
[ ] impressive
[ ] genius

What I learned: 10A-10B does one of the better jobs of setting up a character I’ve seen in awhile. Amy is obsessed with cooking to the point of being freakish. So how does Byars go about showing this? Well, the opening scene focuses on a detective questioning Amy about the missing girl. Lesser writers would've made that the only thing going on in the scene. But Byars has Amy cooking during the questioning. So while the detective questions her, she's also questioning the detective. "Did you like that?" "Was it good?" "Would you like desert?" "Do you want more?" Etc. Etc. So we get the immediate sense that something's not quite right with this girl. Not setting up your characters properly is one of the biggest mistakes I see amateur writers make, so this is a great scene to study.