GROWING UP IS HARD TO DO: The Tribe and Me and Earl and the Dying Girl


First, a word from our sponsors. Ever wonder what a reader for a contest or agency thinks when he reads your screenplay? Check out my new e-book published on Amazon: Rantings and Ravings of a Screenplay Reader, including my series of essays, What I Learned Reading for Contests This Year, and my film reviews of 2013. Only $2.99. http://ow.ly/xN31r
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Warning: SPOILERS
tribeThe Tribe is a new Russian film in which all the characters are deaf and speak in sign language (and not just any ole sign language, but a particular Ukrainian dialect of sign language, which means, from what I understand, that of those of you who can read western European sign language, only 20% will be able to understand it).
But as presented by writer/director Miroslav Slaboshpitsky, it is also a movie in which there are no subtitles. Which means, most of you will probably never really know exactly what anyone is saying.
In other words, The Tribe is a silent film without intertitles. The only sound, in fact, is that of the ambient kind (I can’t even recall the use of music in the background). Slaboshpitsky even exaggerates this sound of feet shuffling down corridors, body parts slamming into each other while having sex or conversations, doors creaking; one might go so far as to say that the ambient sound used here is, well, extremely ambienty.
At first, I found this to be an interesting aesthetic exercise. And people have reacted very positively to it. When I first heard about it at AFI last year, people were very excited and kept recommending it. It has won some very prestigious awards (including three at Cannes). And when I saw it in Los Angeles at the Cinefamily at the Silent Movie Theater, it was a sold out crowd on a Sunday night.
At the same time, other AFIers expressed certain doubts about the film and I fear I must be honest and say I also have some of those selfsame reservations. Continue reading

My recommendations for movie watching this week in L.A. 7/3-7/10/2015


My recommendations for movie watching this week in L.A. 7/3-7/10/2015

First, a word from our sponsors. Ever wonder what a reader for a contest or agency thinks when he reads your screenplay? Check out my e-book published on Amazon: Rantings and Ravings of a Screenplay Reader, including my series of essays, What I Learned Reading for Contests This Year. Only $2.99. http://ow.ly/xN31r,

 

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My recommendations for movie watching this week in L.A. 7/3-10/2015
bulworthON NETFLIX: Bulworth is a satire written by Jeremy Pikser and directed by Warren Beatty. It stars Beatty as a politician who has a kind of breakdown and hires someone to assassinate him. Until that happens, he takes on the persona of a rapper and finally does what the people would love politicians to do—tell the unvarnished truth. Well received at the time, though I think some critics thought it perhaps played it a little safe, it has Beatty’s last good performances and a sharp insight into modern day politics.
murderer livesON HULU: The Murderer Lives at Number 21 is a movie in the middle of writer/director Henri-Georges Clouzot’s career, but comes before his biggest international successes like The Raven, Wagers of Fear and Diabolique. It’s a very uncharacteristic film by the master of suspense. Co-written by Stanislas Andre-Steeman (from Andre-Steeman’s novel), it’s a mystery comedy more in line with The Thin Man than with Clouzot’s later films.
tribeSPECIAL RUN: CINEFAMILY at the SILENT MOVIE THEATER: The Tribe continues its run Continue reading

OVERSTUFFED: Ted 2


First, a word from our sponsors. Ever wonder what a reader for a contest or agency thinks when he reads your screenplay? Check out my new e-book published on Amazon: Rantings and Ravings of a Screenplay Reader, including my series of essays, What I Learned Reading for Contests This Year, and my film reviews of 2013. Only $2.99. http://ow.ly/xN31r

 

and check out my Script Consultation Services: http://ow.ly/HPxKE
Warning: SPOILERS
ted 2 threeIn 2012, Family Guy’s Seth McFarlane gave us Ted, a comedy about a teddy bear that came to life. It was actually a pretty good metaphor for the Peter Pan syndrome that the central character, John, suffered from.
It’s 2015, and now we have Ted 2. The bear’s still alive, but it’s a whole new metaphor: Ted wants to get married and adopt a child, but is he human enough to do so? Does he deserve equal rights?
Okay, you can see where this is going. And again, it’s not a half bad metaphor. One can almost see Pat Robertson and Franklin Graham posting on their blogs or talking about it on their shows as proof of the slippery slope that will result from legalizing same sex marriage: if a man can marry a man or a woman a woman, what’s to stop someone from marrying a…stuffed animal.
Oh, the humanity. Continue reading

SINGING THE BLUES: Dope and What Happened, Miss Simone?


First, a word from our sponsors. Ever wonder what a reader for a contest or agency thinks when he reads your screenplay? Check out my new e-book published on Amazon: Rantings and Ravings of a Screenplay Reader, including my series of essays, What I Learned Reading for Contests This Year, and my film reviews of 2013. Only $2.99. http://ow.ly/xN31r
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Warning: SPOILERS
dopeIn 1983, a suburban high school teen was left alone for the weekend by his upper middle class parents whereupon he danced in his undies, pumped up the volume on the hallowed stereo, hired a prostitute and through a series of farcical complications ended up having to open a bordello in his home in order to pay off a pimp of whom he had made an enemy. He ends up using said bordello to get himself accepted into a prestigious university.
In 2015, an inner city high school teen doesn’t dance in his undies, but through a series of farcical complications ends up with a shitload of drugs in his backpack, and gets caught between a variety of guys of the not so good variety who all want what he’s got. He opens a drug lab in his high school and uses the sale of the illegal substances to get himself accepted into a prestigious university.
However, the background to the story is not the only difference between these two basically similarly structured films.
No, the 2015 film, Dope, has characters much richer; dialog much wittier, smarter and crisper; and a plot much edgier and more exciting than the rather white picket fence blandness of the Tom Cruise Risky Business.

Continue reading

HEY! WE ALL HAD TO START SOMEWHERE: an interview with Bryce Richardson, author of 2580


This is the next post in a series of interviews with writers who have had their first films, web series, television assignment, etc. make it to the big or small or computer screen. It is an effort to find out what their journey was to their initial success.
First, a word from our sponsors. Ever wonder what a reader for a contest or agency thinks when he reads your screenplay? Check out my new e-book published on Amazon: Rantings and Ravings of a Screenplay Reader, including my series of essays, What I Learned Reading for Contests This Year, and my film reviews of 2013. Only $2.99. http://ow.ly/xN31r
and check out my Script Consultation Services: http://ow.ly/HPxKE
 
Next up: an interview with Bryce Richardson, author of 2580
bryce richardsonBorn and raised in Houston, Bryce Richardson graduated from the University of North Texas. A few years later, Richardson moved to New York where he’s had a one-act play produced and made several shorts. His 16mm film 2580 played at the 2015 Slamdance film festival. Richardson is currently working on his first feature film.
  1. What is the name of your first screenplay that was produced, or your first project that was produced, or your first writing assignment?
Closing Shop was the first short film that I had written and directed.
  1. Can you tell us a bit about the journey as to how it came about?
Before this short, I had written a one-act play produced by the Metropolitan Playhouse in the East Village. But since cinema was what I cared about the most, I decided to take the confidence I gained from that experience and focus solely on making films. I made sure my first film, Closing Shop, would be finished no matter what obstacles I encountered along the way. I succeeded—and it turned out to be a total piece of shit. I will never let anyone see it Continue reading

My recommendations for movie watching this week in L.A. 6/26-7/3/2015


First, a word from our sponsors. Ever wonder what a reader for a contest or agency thinks when he reads your screenplay? Check out my e-book published on Amazon: Rantings and Ravings of a Screenplay Reader, including my series of essays, What I Learned Reading for Contests This Year. Only $2.99. http://ow.ly/xN31r,
 
And check out my script consultation services http://ow.ly/HPxKE
My recommendations for movie watching this week in L.A. 6/19-25/2015
bad news bearsON NETFLIX: Writer Bill Lancaster and director Michael Ritchie went after America’s obsession with children’s sports and the need to win in The Bad News Bears with a perfectly cast Walter Matthau as the slob of a coach and up and comers Tatum O’Neal and Jackie Earl Haley (who didn’t turn out to be up and comers in the end) as members of the team. Both funny and an incisive look at middle class values in the U.S. A big hit at the time.
i vitelloniON HULU: Writer/director Federico Fellini and writers Ennio Flaiano and Tullio Pinelli’s look at five young men who are drifting in a small town. Reportedly autobiographical to some degree, this is a fascinating character study of people who are in a sort of limbo, very much reflecting the existential mood of the post-war time in Europe.
tribeSPECIAL RUN: CINEFAMILY at the SILENT MOVIE THEATER: The Tribe continues its run through 7/2 Continue reading

THEY’RE EITHER TOO YOUNG OR TOO OLD: I’ll See You In My Dreams and Inside Out


First, a word from our sponsors. Ever wonder what a reader for a contest or agency thinks when he reads your screenplay? Check out my new e-book published on Amazon: Rantings and Ravings of a Screenplay Reader, including my series of essays, What I Learned Reading for Contests This Year, and my film reviews of 2013. Only $2.99. http://ow.ly/xN31r
and check out my Script Consultation Services: http://ow.ly/HPxKE
Warning: SPOILERS
ill see you my dreams 1I’m not really sure what to say about the new independent movie I’ll See You In My Dreams, written by Marc Basch and Brett Haley and directed by Haley, except that it is quite a lovely, little film filled with acute observations about life as one enters one’s golden years.
Is that enough for a film these days? I don’t know. But in this particular case, I found it more than ample.
The movie is basically a character study of one Carol Peterson (Blythe Danner). In her young life she was a singer (she has one of the best explanations for why she is one no longer: “One day I was in a band and one day I wasn’t”). She got married and became a teacher, had a daughter, and then her husband died, allowing her to retire on more than comfortable means. Continue reading