Let's coin some needed movie phrases.

Discussion in 'TV & Media' started by Argus Skyhawk, Jul 9, 2014.

  1. Argus Skyhawk

    Argus Skyhawk Commodore Commodore

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    I would like to coin a few new movie phrases.


    The Kansas Stretch: This refers to the expository period at the beginning of an adventure movie that takes place in the regular modern-day world, before the setting shifts to something more exotic. I remember noticing these periods in particular one day back in 1984 when I saw a double-feature of The Last Starfighter and The Neverending Story, two movies that both start out in a boring American setting before the story is whisked into outer space or Fantasia. I dub this opening period The Kansas Stretch in honor of the most memorable example of it: The sepia-toned opening half-hour of The Wizard of Oz that I had to patiently endure every year as a kid while waiting for the tornado to show up. I loved and adored the rest of the movie almost as much as Christmas morning, but being too young to understand the importance of exposition, I couldn't understand why the movie didn't just start with the twister.

    The Designated Die-er: This refers to extremely minor characters who are onscreen just long enough to die in a way that illustrates a danger the protagonist will face later. For example, late in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, we see the Nazis send an unlucky chap into the tunnel leading to the Holy Grail, only to see his head roll out of the entrance moments later. Of course this means that Indy himself will soon have to enter the tunnel. Another cave-related example can be found in Disney's Aladdin; Jafar sends a thug into the Cave of Wonders, and he gets swallowed by it. Aladdin himself will later have to enter the cave. Designated die-ers are common in James Bond movies and similar stories. The cow and the goat in Jurassic Park are sort of designated die-ers as well. Monster House featured a few designated die-ers that turned up alive during the closing credits as I recall.


    Any other suggestions?
     
  2. Locutus of Bored

    Locutus of Bored Co-Founder of ISIS Moderator

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    TVTropes probably already has an article about this (but I'm not looking lest I get sucked into a twelve hour Trope-reading marathon), but it's something that always sticks out to me...

    Rapid Onset Hostage Infantilization and Name Amnesia - (That doesn't exactly roll off the tongue, so ROHINA, or "Release the Girl" Syndrome):
    The moment a woman is taken hostage, regardless of age, whether both parties know her name, or the closeness of the relationship with the person making the plea for her release, the hostage suddenly becomes "The Girl." As in the woman's cop husband saying "Release the girl" to her captor, even if the hostage taker knows full well who she is. A male captive will only be referred to as "The Boy" if he is in fact a minor.
     
  3. HIjol

    HIjol Admiral and Consummate Peacemaker Premium Member

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    "We're All Fine Here, How 'Bout You?" ...the section of the movie after we, the audience, know something nefarious/heinous has happened and will happen again, but as we watch the characters, they believe everything is fine and do not think there is a problem, even when asked...
     
  4. Brolan

    Brolan Commodore Commodore

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    Novice Educator: character they add to a movie or show who is a novice or newbie. Other characters explain what is going on to the novice but what they are REALLY doing is explaining to the audience.
     
  5. Melakon

    Melakon Admiral Admiral

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    How is this different than the traditional sacrificial lamb character in fiction?
     
  6. Argus Skyhawk

    Argus Skyhawk Commodore Commodore

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    Well, according to Wikipedia's discussion of a literary sacrificial lamb, the purpose of one of those deaths is to galvanize the hero into action, and it gives Goose from Top Gun as an example. I think Apollo Creed in Rocky IV also seems to fit. Those don't really fit my designated die-er term. The designated die-er is often NOT someone the protagonist knows well, and sometimes the protagonist doesn't even know the die-er has died, or even existed, so he is certainly not galvanized by his death. My designated die-er just exists to make the audience say, "Oh no! I hope the hero doesn't wander into that cave!" Perhaps other literary experts use a definition of sacrificial lamb a little differently than the Wikipedia one?
     
  7. Dennis

    Dennis The Man Premium Member

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    The "Kansas Stretch" is actually just called "the setup." Basically we're shown the protagonist just maintaining, going through the motions of everyday life unknowingly awaiting the catalyst that will plunge him/her into the action. Some key shortcoming and/or need of the protagonist is established here.
     
  8. Greg Cox

    Greg Cox Admiral Premium Member

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    I think the Designated Dier is usually just called a redshirt. :)
     
  9. Dennis

    Dennis The Man Premium Member

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    Also too often still "the black guy."
     
  10. HIjol

    HIjol Admiral and Consummate Peacemaker Premium Member

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    The Flautist...this is where some form of music or snatch of melody recurs and carries us forward or marks key points...like in "Inner Light" with the Kataanians...
     
  11. Trekker4747

    Trekker4747 Boldly going... Premium Member

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    One I often use is "Cabbage Head" it's borrowed from Phil Farrand "Nitpicker's Guide" website back in the late 90s when he was doing on-line nitpicker reviews of movies and such. It refers to a character in a story is the "designated idiot" who needs technical details explained to them so that we, the audience, can understand what is going on without the experts in the story needing to explain things they already know to each other.

    This character can either be used well or not used well. Probably a good example of this is Ernie Hudson's character "Winston" in the Ghostbusters movie(s). His character serves a minor purpose in the story and is largely there to have things explained to the audience (like how the containment unit works, some details of the deal with Gozer at the end.) But it's done well enough as it makes sense to have these things explained to him as he's a new hire. (Peter serves this role to a lesser degree since his area of expertise wasn't quite as deep or extensive as Ray's or Egon's when it came to paranormal activity.)

    Probably an example of this type of character being used poorly is the "Melissa" character in the movie "Twister." She's the reproductive therapist fiancée of Bill Paxton's character. She tags along through the movie's events at times needing certain meteorological terms and phenomenon explained to her, as well as how "Dorothy" works. (Again, the rest of our characters would already know all of this so it wouldn't make sense for them to explain it to themselves.)

    Most movies that involve some degree of real-world "technobabble" will usually have a Cabbage Head in some form or another to help the audience understand what is going on. The alternatives are to either not explain the technical jargon (which has worked well in many a military movie) or to have characters needlessly explain things to those already in the know.

    I'm sure there's already a name for this trope over at TVTropes but I've always called this character a "Cabbage Head."

    Along those lines I'd coin the term "The Transparent Narrative".

    This is a case where we DO have two characters already involved in or aware of the situation that is going on sit down and explain what is happening for our sake. Often this will be two people in the process of committing a crime explaining the plan to one another literally moments before executing it. A time when it makes no sense to do such a thing other than to help us understand what is going on.
     
  12. Forbin

    Forbin Admiral Admiral

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    The "Just cut his head off already!" Moment - the supposedly tense moments when our hero has killed the bad guy and/or monster, and is slowly walking up to the body to check. Then of course, the bad guy/monster suddenly springs up and resumes the attack for one final dramatic struggle. I will also accept The "Shoot him a few more times to be sure" Moment.
     
  13. auntiehill

    auntiehill Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    "Mr/Mrs Exposition," is the term hubby and I use for the character who, seemingly out of nowhere, will wander in and tell the major character--and the audience--a huge chunk of information, in such an awkward and obvious manner, that it's clear that the writer/filmmaker simply needed to get it out of the way quickly. A perfect example was recently on "Revolution" when Reiko Aylesworth's character appears for the first time as a journalist. She just sits down next to the character at a bar and unloads a HUGE amount of information, describing a huge battle, a lot behind the scenes political maneuvering, etc.--basically cramming about two full episodes worth of information into one little speech.
     
  14. Forbin

    Forbin Admiral Admiral

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    The "Where the hell are you going, you idiot?" moment". The hero has killed the bad guy/monster, but rather than checking to make sure it's dead, our hero is distracted by something requiring a momentary walk out of sight, during which the bad guy/monster inevitably gets up and scampers off. Or attacks again.
     
  15. J.T.B.

    J.T.B. Rear Admiral Premium Member

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    The Goner Goodbye: When there's an extended sequence of someone getting ready to leave and telling people goodbye before what's supposed to be routine travel, they are going to be in an accident.
     
  16. auntiehill

    auntiehill Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    "Photos on the Front." As soon as a solider, cop, etc. pulls out photos of his wife, kids, fiancee, and starts talking about how he/she can't wait to see them again, you know that poor sap is going to be the next one to die.
     
  17. Locutus of Bored

    Locutus of Bored Co-Founder of ISIS Moderator

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    I was just thinking about this while watching Red Tails a few weeks back. One of the characters slipped a picture of his girlfriend in the cockpit next to the altitude gauge, and I thought "Oh, well you're screwed now, buddy," because you just know there has to be a scene where he reaches out to touch the photo one last time before he crashes.
     
  18. Greg Cox

    Greg Cox Admiral Premium Member

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    Touche!
     
  19. Forbin

    Forbin Admiral Admiral

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    Similarly, "Engaged to be Dead." - that guy who talks about his fiance on the walk out to his fighter or bomber, and how he can't wait to get home and marry her.

    See also, "Congratulations, it's an Orphan." :)
     
  20. Locutus of Bored

    Locutus of Bored Co-Founder of ISIS Moderator

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    ^ Related to that, kudos to Danny Glover for beating the "I'm ___ days from retirement/quitting" death sentence in four Lethal Weapon movies, though.