My recommendations for movie watching this week in L.A. 8/29-9/4/2015


First, a word from our sponsors: I am now offering a new service: so much emphasis has been given lately to the importance of the opening of your screenplay, I now offer coverage for the first twenty pages at the cost of $20.00.  For those who don’t want to have full coverage on their screenplay at this time, but want to know how well their script is working with the opening pages, this is perfect for you.  I’ll help you not lose the reader on page one. 
 
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. 8/29-9/4/2015
marvins roomON NETFLIX: Marvin’s Room, written by Scott McPherson from his own play and directed by Jerry Zaks, is an often funny, but also deeply moving movie about love and death, so of course it stars Diane Keaton (who battles it out with co-star Meryl Streep for acting recognition—Keaton got the Oscar nom, Streep the Golden Globe). Bessie needs a bone marrow transplant so she looks to her estranged sister Lee and her troubled nephew Hank. The cast is filled out with Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert De Niro, Hume Cronym, Gwen Verdon, Dan Hedaya, Margo Martindale and Cynthia Nixon.
belle de jourON HULU: In Belle de Jour, the ravishing Catherine Deneuve plays a housewife who can’t bring herself to sleep with her husband so she works afternoons being ravished as a prostitute. Leave it to sly, naughty writer/director Louis Bunuel to come up with this one, with screenplay help by one of the finer European screenwriters Jean-Claude Carriere.
forbidden gamesSPECIAL SHOWINGS: Nuart Theater is showing Forbidden Games, the classic French film about a little girl orphaned by an air raid during WWII who ends up living with the family of a young boy. They become fast friends and try to come to terms with death by creating rituals and a cemetery for dead animals. Georges Poujouly, who played the boy, later appeared in such classics as Elevator to the Gallows and Diabolique, and Brigitte Fossey, the little girl, was later seen in films like The Man Who Loved Women and Cinema Paridiso. The director Rene Clement also directed Purple Noon and Joy House.
z for zachariahFIRST RUN and OPENING: Z for Zachariah; American Ultra; Grandma; Straight Outta Compton; Mistress America; Shaun the Sheep Movie; Diary of a Teenage Girl; Ricki and the Flash; The Gift; Cop Car; Tangerine; Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation; I Touched All Your Stuff; Butterfly Girl; The Second Mother Continue reading

BOYS WILL BE BOYS: Goodnight Mommy and Cop Car


First, a word from our sponsors: I am now offering a new service: so much emphasis has been given lately to the importance of the opening of your screenplay, I now offer coverage for the first twenty pages at the cost of $20.00.  For those who don’t want to have full coverage on their screenplay at this time, but want to know how well their script is working with the opening pages, this is perfect for you.  I’ll help you not lose the reader on page one. 
 
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
cop car 1Kids. Can’t live with them. Can’t kill them…or can you? Well, in two new movies with young boys as central characters, infanticide might not be such a bad idea because if you don’t, they might get you first.
Cop Car is a nice, tight little thriller about two pre-teens who are wandering across some wide open spaces common in their part of the country. They seem to have run away for some reason which is never explained (there’s a lot that is never explained in the movie, which is fine, since such explanations are often irrelevant as it is and would only get in the way).
They come upon an abandoned cop car, the sheriff nowhere in sight, find keys in it and, hey, boys being boys, they go joy riding…unaware that there is a body in the trunk.
Okay, I’m sorry, but this is a pretty neat set up for a couple of hours in the theater and the movie does an excellent job of fulfilling all expectations. It’s one of those films that doesn’t really do anything, but in the end, whatever it doesn’t do, it certainly does it rather well. Continue reading

HEY! WE ALL HAD TO START SOMEWHERE: an interview with Hernando Bansuelo and Josh Watson, writers of A Reunion


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. I am now offering a new service: take the Howard Casner 20 pages for $20.00 screenplay challenge. So much emphasis has been given lately to the importance of the opening of your screenplay, I now offer coverage for the first twenty pages at the cost of $20.00.  For those who don’t want to have full coverage on their screenplay at this time, but want to know how well their script is working with the opening pages, this is perfect for you.  I’ll help you not lose the reader on page one.
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 Hernando Bansuelo and Josh Watson, writers of A Reunion
Hernando Bansuelo
HB_Tribeca 2015Hernando Bansuelo holds an MFA in Film and TV Production from USC’s School of Cinematic Arts and holds a BA in Stage Directing from UCLA’s School of Theater, Film and Television. His debut feature, A REUNION, produced under his production banner, Tricoastal Entertainment, during his final year in film school, will be released theatrically and digitally in September 2015. It is Executive Produced by the Ebersole Hughes Company (ROOM 237, HIT SO HARD).
His work has screened in Cannes, South Africa, Iceland, the UK, the Bahamas, and across the US. Hernando also has been a three time Sundance Screenwriters Lab 2nd Round Finalist and is currently developing a sci-fi epic (MONARCH, winner of the Silver Prize in Science Fiction at the 2014 Beverly Hills Screenplay Contest), GET CLOSE (about stage and screen legend Glenn Close) and several other projects.
With extensive industry experience, he has worked in production offices (Oliver Stone’s World Trade Center, Mike Nichols’ Charlie Wilson’s War, Noah Baumbach’s Margot at the Wedding), on-set with large-scale filmmakers (James Foley’s Perfect Stranger, NBC’s Lipstick Jungle) and completed A-list internships (Playtone Productions – Hanks and Goetzman, Double Feature Films – Sher and Shamberg). The award-winning filmmaker has also participated in the Ingmar Bergman immersion program at Sweden’s Lund University, the Reykjavik International Film Festival’s Talent Lab, and Film Independent’s Project:Involve. He recently completed THE DADDY (ANG TATAY), a hybrid documentary short set in the Philippines.

 

Josh Watson
josh watson 1Under his production banner, TriCoastal Entertainment, co-founded with life and professional partner, Hernando Bansuelo, Josh Watson has produced about a dozen short films and the feature, A REUNION. The film is to be released in fall, 2015 after having been acquired by distribution company, Ariztical Entertainment.
Watson attended Loyola University Chicago (graduating Magna Cum Laude and gaining entrance to Phi Beta Kappa), where his wide ranging liberal studies included film, theater, political science and social justice. After graduation, Josh served two years with the AmeriCorps program, completing community service projects with neighborhoods in Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles, California. While in LA, he also began building a professional acting resume that included playing a lion in the LA Opera’s version of THE MAGIC FLUTE (Dorothy Chandler Pavilion), as well as a suspected killer in Timothy Folsome’s hip-hop horror flick, CUTTHROAT ALLEY. Josh, a member of SAG-AFTRA, continued studying acting at UCLA under the tutelage of Kim Darby, Paul Napier, and Robert Thompson.
Josh is thrilled that his next feature, AMERICAN JOHN, sheds light on the racial and class inequities that pervade this country and provides an inspirational story of perseverance and breakthrough.
 
  1. What is the name of your first screenplay that was produced, or your first project that was produced, or your first writing assignment?
reunionPoster-final-webA REUNION is our first screenplay that has been produced. And for it to receive theatrical and digital distribution and be out in the world is nothing short of a miracle.
Our limited theatrical run begins on Friday, September 18th through 24th at the Laemmle’s Music Hall in Beverly Hills, you can purchase tickets here:
http://www.laemmle.com/films/39631
That will be followed by a digital and DVD release later this fall.
Check out our Trailer:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cCHdQwVh5PY Continue reading

My recommendations for movie watching this week in L.A. 8/21-8/29/2015


First, a word from our sponsors: I am now offering a new service: so much emphasis has been given lately to the importance of the opening of your screenplay, I now offer coverage for the first twenty pages at the cost of $20.00.  For those who don’t want to have full coverage on their screenplay at this time, but want to know how well their script is working with the opening pages, this is perfect for you.  I’ll help you not lose the reader on page one. 
 
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. 8/21-29/2015
griftersON NETFLIX: In The Grifters, screenplay by Donald E. Westlake (from a book by Jim Thompson) and directed by Stephen Frears (both of whom received Oscar nominations), a son, his girlfriend and his mother all support themselves by conning until they start conning each other. One of Frears’ best films and wonderfully acted by Angelica Huston, Annette Benning (both of whom received Oscar nominations) and John Cusack. For those who like their neo-noir nasty.
eyes withoutON HULU: For those horror fans out there, Georges Franju’s Eyes Without a Face could be one of the more unnerving films in this genre. A surgeon kidnaps young women and removes their faces so he can try and graft them onto his daughter. Very graphic at times. A classic French film.
grandmaFIRST RUN and OPENING: American Ultra; Grandma; Straight Outta Compton; Mistress America; Shaun the Sheep Movie; Diary of a Teenage Girl; Ricki and the Flash; The Gift; We Come as Friends; Cop Car; Best of Enemies; Listen to Me Marlon; Phoenix; The End of the Tour; Tangerine; Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation

Continue reading

BULLY, BULLY and WOOLY, WOOLY: The Gift and Shaun the Sheep Movie


First, a word from our sponsors: I am now offering a new service: so much emphasis has been given lately to the importance of the opening of your screenplay, I now offer coverage for the first twenty pages at the cost of $20.00.  For those who don’t want to have full coverage on their screenplay at this time, but want to know how well their script is working with the opening pages, this is perfect for you.  I’ll help you not lose the reader on page one. 
 
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
gift oneThere’s a very telling scene and line in The Gift, the new thriller written, directed and starring Australian jack of all trades Joel Edgerton (you know, just because you’re from another country doesn’t mean you can’t leave a few jobs for the locals, mate).
Husband and wife Simon and Robyn have recently moved to California for Simon’s new job. The town is Santa Clarita (if my memory serves) where Simon grew up and went to school. While out shopping the couple run into Gordo, an old classmate of Simon’s, someone Simon claims he can barely remember, though Gordo seems to have no trouble remembering Simon.
Gordo suddenly starts showing up at the couple’s house with gifts, though it’s hard to tell whether he’s creepy or just socially awkward. But one night he leaves after having been invited to dinner (well, has sort of forced them to invite him to dinner) and Simon says there is something odd about him.
The reason this is telling is because it is also somewhat ironic since, by this time, it’s rather clear that there is something odd about Simon. Continue reading

HEY! WE ALL HAD TO START SOMEWHERE: an interview with Jim Vines, writer of The Perfect Tenant


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. I am now offering a new service: so much emphasis has been given lately to the importance of the opening of your screenplay, I now offer coverage for the first twenty pages at the cost of $20.00.  For those who don’t want to have full coverage on their screenplay at this time, but want to know how well their script is working with the opening pages, this is perfect for you.  I’ll help you not lose the reader on page one.
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 Jim Vines writer of The Perfect Tenant
jim vines oneJim Vines—whose parents were both in the film and TV industries—was born in New York City and grew up in Beverly Hills. Jim fell in love with filmmaking at the age of eleven and hasn’t looked back since. After working various jobs in the film industry (grip, stuntman, still photographer), Jim settled into the life of screenwriting in the early 1990s. In 2006 he published Q & A: The Working Screenwriter, which is comprised of interviews with 16 screenwriters. In April 2015 he published his first novel, Luigi’s Chinese Delicatessen.  Most recently he has co-wrote House at the End of the Drive.
 
 
  1. What is the name of your first screenplay that was produced, or your first project that was produced, or your first writing assignment?
 
The first script I had produced was The Perfect Tenant. It was a thriller that made its debut on HBO and Cinemax back in 2000. It’s been playing on cable all over the world ever since.
 
 
  1. Can you tell us a bit about the journey as to how it came about?
 
perfect tenantIn 1995 I sent a producer one of my scripts. He liked the script but wasn’t able to do anything with it. He remembered me a year later when he needed a writer to do a rewrite on a thriller script. I did the rewrite for him (basically a page one rewrite) and he submitted the script to a production company he was dealing with. They bought the script soon thereafter. It all happened fairly quickly.

Continue reading

My recommendations for movie watching this week in L.A. 8/14-8/21/2015


First, a word from our sponsors: I am now offering a new service: so much emphasis has been given lately to the importance of the opening of your screenplay, I now offer coverage for the first twenty pages at the cost of $20.00.  For those who don’t want to have full coverage on their screenplay at this time, but want to know how well their script is working with the opening pages, this is perfect for you.  I’ll help you not lose the reader on page one. 
 
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. 8/14-21/2015
top secretON NETFLIX: Directed by Jim Abrahams, David Zucker and Jerry Zucker and written by the three along with Martyn Burke, Top Secret!, a satire of cold war/teen idol movies, follows Airplane by a few years. It’s not quite as uproariously funny, but it has a lot going for it. It makes fun of clichés one didn’t realize were clichés. Val Kilmer is the lead; he looks the part, but is a bit of a stick in the mud acting wise. But still, a fun movie.

 

lesson in love
ON HULU: Writer/director Ingmar Bergman made very few comedies. A Lesson in Love is one of his first and is probably his funniest. It’s about a gynecologist and his wife who are considering divorcing, but as in The Awful Truth, they may realize that they love each other too much, and for better and worse. It seems heavily inspired by Preston Sturgess, especially a scene with a noose. An absolute delight.

 

people placesFIRST RUN and OPENING: Straight Outta Compton; Mistress America; People Places Things; Cop Car; Shaun the Sheep Movie; Diary of a Teenage Girl; Ricki and the Flash; The Gift; Best of Enemies; Listen to Me Marlon; Phoenix; The End of the Tour; Tangerine; Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation. Continue reading