BIG THINGS COME IN SMALL PACKAGES: Ant-Man


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Warning: SPOILERS
ant manWhen word came down that they (and we all know who “they” are even if we don’t know who “they” are) were making a movie based on the Marvel character of Ant-Man, well, let us say that there was a bunch of groaning and/or unintentional laughter followed by, “Oh, you’re serious”.
Among my comic book geek friends, Ant-Man, a superhero who could miniaturize to the size of the referred to hard working insect, as well as control them, had never been taken that seriously.
With the name not really helping much.
And when I first saw the previews, I didn’t see any additional reason for optimism. They seemed fairly, well, lame.
So now I’ve seen the movie itself and I have to say…it’s not bad and actually has some worthy virtues to speak of.
Who’d have thought it?
The basic premise is that an ex-con (but don’t worry, one of those heroic ones, a computer hacker robin hood, so that way we can cheer him on) gets lured into a life of superherodom by a retired scientist trying to stop an-ex intern, now owner of the scientist’s former company, from exploiting the scientist’s technology of shrinking objects and people and selling them to the highest bidder for world domination purposes (with that neo-Nazi group HYDRA somehow managing to have the most moolah to do it after being so soundly defeated by Captain America and Co. a year or so ago—where do they get their funds? The Koch brothers?). Continue reading

GIRLS GONE WILD or THE TWO AMY’S: Amy and Trainwreck


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
amyHow you feel about the new documentary on the short life of jazz singer Amy Winehouse, Amy, will probably to some degree depend on how you feel about Ms. Winehouse herself.
For me, she has an amazing voice that will pierce your soul. She is quite a mesmerizing singer.
At the same time, I have to be honest and say that I was not all that impressed by her as a lyricist (Cole Porter, Bob Dylan and Judy Collins she ain’t) and the hooks to her songs never really took me in as I wished they might have.
But if you disagree, and I expect a huge number of people will do just that, then that might help you overlook other issues I think the movie has.
Winehouse led a momentary and unhappy existence. She was one of those singer/songwriters whose every musical creation was a personal revelation about herself and her life. And she was very brave in not holding anything back. Continue reading

My recommendations for movie watching this week in L.A. 7/24-7/31/2015


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. 7/24-31/2015
boxtrollsON NETFLIX: The Boxtrolls is an animated feature about a young boy, Eggs, living underground with some trolls who live in boxes and collect garbage. When the power hungry Snatcher plans to exterminate all the trolls to gain influence over the city, Eggs must make himself known to stop the ruthless villain. An exciting film with beautiful animation, it gains more depth if one thinks of it as a metaphor for the rise of Nazism.
exterminating angelON HULU: The Exterminating Angel is one of Luis Bunuel’s greatest movies. Made while he was in exile from Spain in Mexico, the film revolves around a group of bourgeoisie who, after a dinner party, find they can’t leave a room in the house. They are trapped as their food diminishes and they have to consider such things as bathroom facilities and sex. Not to be missed. Continue reading

THERE ARE NO SMALL PARTS: Magic Mike XXL and Minions


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
minions 2It’s not that common, but it’s also not completely unusual, for a supporting or minor character from a movie to be given a film of their own. This is more likely to happen in TV with spinoffs of popular TV series (Frazier, anyone?), but it does happen in tinsel town as well.
In Dead End, the Dead End Kids got their own franchise and when they grew up, they become The Bowery Boys. In The Egg and I, two of the minor characters, Ma and Pa Kettle, got their own series as well.
And in The White Sheik, Cabiria, a prostitute, via Federico Fellini, got her own vehicle in Nights of Cabiria; Ensign Pulver became the title character in the sequel to Mister Roberts (well, to be fair, Roberts was no longer around); and Ingmar Bergman’s From the Life of the Marionettes brings front and center the bickering couple who appear in the first episode of Scenes from a Marriage.
So in the past couple of weeks we’ve seen two more examples of the selfsame approach, though with a different emphasis in each outing and with much different results. Continue reading

My recommendations for movie watching this week in L.A. 7/17-7/24/2015


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. 7/17-24/2015
warriorsON NETFLIX: The Warriors, by writers David Shaber and Walter Hill (who also directed), was a controversial action film about a gang that gets caught in the wrong part of town and has to find their way home through a series of other gangs who want them dead. Though the acting and line reading tends to be a bit flat (the lead is Michael Beck, after all), it’s a very exciting and visceral experience. The book, by Sol Yurick, was inspired by Xenophon’s Anabasis. Yurick wrote it as an answer to West Side Story. Famous line: “Warriors, come out and play-ay”. See it on a double feature as I did with the original Assault on Precinct 13.
alice in the citiesON HULU: Alice in the Cities is one of those adults saddled with a kid movie that is very popular in Europe. But it’s also one of the best. In writer/director Wim Wenders’ early feature, a German photographer is asked to watch the little girl of a German mother at an airport, but the mother deserts her child and the photographer takes the little girl to Europe. They end up on the road looking for the child’s grandmother.   A lovely film.
minionsFIRST RUN and OPENING: Irrational Man; Alleluia; Mr. Holmes; The Stanford Prison Experiment; Ant-Man; Trainwreck; Cartel Land; Jimmy’s Hall; An Open Secret; Boulevard; Lila & Eve; Minions; Amy; Tangerine; Dope; A Borrowed Identity; Inside Out; What Happened, Ms. Simone?; Spy; Love & Mercy; Infinitely Polar Bear; Me and Earl and the Dying Girl; Testament of Youth Continue reading

I LOVE THE NIGHTLIFE: The Overnight and Eden


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
scoreFrom the 1960’s through the ‘80’s, the filmmaker Radley Metzger made a series of what was termed at the time soft core films. This was a period in cinematic history when just about anything went, and many of these films, movies like Metzger’s The Lickerish Quartet and The Opening of Misty Beethoven, found a cross over audience in the mainstream cinema.
They weren’t as graphic as adult, or porn, films, but there was plenty of pretend sex and nudity and usually was a celebration of the new morality and an encouragement to the audience to reject old mores.
One of these, Score, was about a couple that liked to swing. On a regular basis, they would bring home couples for a night of whatever comes up. But this time round, they invite a particular married couple not with the purpose of having an orgy, but with the goal of the wife seducing the younger woman and the husband seducing the younger man.
And they succeed.
And it ends with the younger couple running off in joy as they have discovered themselves free to more fully explore their new found sexuality. Continue reading

My recommendations for movie watching this week in L.A. 7/10-7/17/2015


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. 7/10-17/2015
magdalene sistersON NETFLIX: In The Magdalene Sisters, writer/director Peter Mullan follows three young women who are basically imprisoned in a Catholic “home” for wayward girls against their will, something perfectly legal until fairly recently. One is mentally slow and pregnant; another was raped; and another was too flirtatious. A moving drama and devastating expose of a cruel and unjust system.
browning versionON HULU: Adapted from his own play by Terence Rattigan and directed by Anthony Asquith, The Browning Version is a triumph for lead actor Michael Redgrave, who won Cannes for his performance. A deeply felt and empathetic performance about a teacher, a sort of anti-Goodbye, Mr. Chips, who realizes perhaps a little too late that he has made some devastating choices along the way. Continue reading