" Forget Screenwriting 101. Some of the year's most audacious screenplays throw out the rulebook, jumping back and forth in time instead of unfolding in a linear, three-act fashion. Such experimentation is as old as the movies themselves, dating back to such storytellers as D.W. Griffith ("Intolerance") and Abel Gance ("Napoleon"). But the tendency has become increasingly common in recent mainstream releases, from "Michael Clayton's" car-bomb opening to "Atonement's" fragmented, time-jumping intrigue.
"I think there's a mistrust, especially among younger audiences, of traditional Hollywood narrative," says Oscar-winning writer Marc Norman ("Shakespeare in Love"), who examines the history of American screenwriting in his new book "What Happens Next." "I've never bought the explanation that people are growing up with shorter and shorter attention spans, and that's their notion of life. I have to think that it's deeper than that. It's a question of how can I get at a truth in movies that hasn't been done before?" ..."
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