Two more attempts at fixing Act I played out yesterday. Then around ten pm I realized that it might be possible to entirely remove Act I from the script. Immediately after I saw how I could NOT remove it, but change the entire narrative arc in a way that kept it in. Question then becomes: better to remove or keep in? In general I think if a thing can be removed it should be, but that 'can' is a tricky word. The story can still exist without Act I but it will require several more expository moments in Act II. Also (and this shouldn't matter but it does) I've done months of work on Act I, and I feel sad to lose all of it. So, late last night I started the process of entirely revamping Act I. It's continued this morning, and I feel cautiously optimistic. Of course, I always feel cautiously optimistic, unless I'm surrendering to crippling and overwhelming despair. I try not to do that more than once or twice a day.
Black Narcissus turned out to be outstanding, one of the best I've seen in months. A young idealistic nun accepts the responsibility of running a new building for her order, high in the mountains of India. The location, "the air where you can see too far" in, the strangeness of the place, causes her fellow nuns to surrender, gradually, to repressed desires (sensual and otherwise). A nun assigned to make a garden filled with potatoes, onions, and other practical foods instead grows tulips and honeysuckle. Ruth, the most unstable of the nuns, renounces the order, becoming ever more hysterical and crazed as the movie progresses. It's good stuff, and the colors of the place, the use of technicolor, only heighten its intensity. Some of the reviews describe it as erotic; I think sensual is a better term.
For a more thorough, i- depth review and discussion of Black Narcissus, including some top notch screen shots, I recommend you go here, where Matthew Dessem discusses it on his excellent blog, The Criterion Contraption.
Idea for a skit (come up with in part via my talk with Johannes): "Anti-Intervention." A bunch of friends of a so-called alcoholic gather together to convince somebody that he's actually NOT an alcoholic, and would be fine drinking a few beers with dinner every night. Family and friends stand up to talk about how boring he's become since he decided to stop drinking. Attempt to distinguish between real hard core alcoholism, and less intense varieties.