My recommendations for movie watching this week in L.A. 4/17/2015-4/24/2015


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. 4/17-4/24/2015
united 93ON NETFLIX: United 93, my favorite film of 2006. Written and directed by one of the finest filmmakers working today, Paul Greengrass, it’s the story of how the passengers on United Flight 93 tried to stop their hijackers on 9/11. Not an easy movie to sit through due to the intense subject matter, it’s a powerful and emotional film.
earringsON HULU: The Earrings of Madame de, directed by Max Ophuls, is one of the great romantic dramas of all times. When the wife of a general secretly sells a pair of earrings her husband gave her and lies about it, it sets off a series of events that leads to tragedy. Continue reading

GROWING UP IS HARD TO DO: While We’re Young and Cupcakes


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
while were youngThere is much to like in writer/ director Noah Baumbach’s musing on growing older, though not necessarily wiser, in his new film While We’re Young.
It’s almost never less than entertaining. And it’s a technically solid piece of work. Baumbach, as a director, feels fully in control of the how the movie looks. As a writer, the characters are often very well drawn and the dialog has a nice rhythmic feel to it, a sort of stylized realism of people from an intellectual background.
At the same time, I’m not sure the movie really comes together as a whole in a fully satisfactory manner. For me, the story itself seemed to flounder at times as it was trying to figure out just what is was supposed to be about.
Overall, my feelings were often those of puzzlement. Is While We’re Young a modern day version of All About Eve that constantly gets off subject, or is it a generation gap morality tale that Baumbach had difficulty finding a strong structure for and sorta, kinda tried to fit it into that of the great film by Joseph L. Mankiewicz? Continue reading

HEY! WE ALL HAD TO START SOMEWHERE: an interview with Louis Pappas writer of the Halls of Jacob and The Last Hit


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 Louis Pappas writer of the Halls of Jacob and The Last Hit
 
PappasDirectorBorn in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1963, Louis Pappas began his career on stage, with the Drexel Hill Players in 1971. In 2004 he founded Angry Pig Productions with the idea of using the camera to bring about social change. His first film, Off Ramps, a documentary dealing with the issue of the criminalization of the homeless population in his town, had a successful run being selected in five festivals out of only seven submissions. Since that time, he has written and directed several short films winning festival accolades and awards all over the world. In recent years Louis has also returned to acting, and has booked roles in several films including: The Shift starring Danny Glover, and The Last Hit, where he plays the lead, a hitman who saves a young girl from a ruthless gangster.
 
  1. What is the name of your first screenplay that was produced?
halls of jacobI have been writing all of my life, but my first produced screenplay, called The Halls of Jacob, came shortly after my fortieth birthday. I think I spent too much time prior to that imitating the styles of writers I admired. Though I don’t believe any time spent writing is a waste, I feel strongly that, at the risk of sounding trite, you definitely have to find your own voice. I also believe the reason I finally gained traction on that project was that I chose a subject that had real meaning to me. If a story moves you, there is a good chance it will resonate with others as well. I am amazed at how many people donated their time and resources to help get that first film made because they believed in the story. The film, about an abused child and a dream that he has after being beaten unconscious, went on to win many festival awards and more importantly made me many dear friends who I still collaborate with to this day.

Continue reading

My recommendations for movie watching this week in L.A. 4/10/2015-4/17/2015


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. 4/10-4/17/2015
boundON NETFLIX: Bound, a superb thriller neo noir, the first film (and probably the best) directed and written by the Wachowski siblings. Jennifer Tilley and Gina Gershon as Violet and Corky start a love affair and conspire to rob Violet’s boyfriend of millions of dollars of mob cash. First rate.

 

hidden fortressON HULU: The Hidden Fortress, one of Akira Kurosawa’s samurai film and one of his most fun. A general and a princess in disguise must make it through enemy lines to some allies, the two carrying gold so they can rebuild their clan. A movie that served as inspiration for Star Wars, especially with a plot revolving around the saving of a princess and two bickering peasants who are obviously models for R2D2 and C3PO. Continue reading

THE THRILLERS OF IT ALL, PART DEUX: Furious 7 and Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter


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
furious 7Okay, I admit it. It got me. Furious 7, the latest entrée in the fast car, not so fast women (the film is surprisingly family focused) franchise, and its tribute to the late Paul Walker brought more than a wee tear to my eye.
How could it not?
However, before I go into any more detail here, full disclosure: I have never seen a Fast and Furious movie before.
That’s right. Zip. Nada. Not a single one.
So, take that into account before taking seriously anything I have to say.
Furious 7 is, well, let’s face it: it’s ridiculous, often cheesy, over the top, clunky.   In fact, one could make a sound argument that it’s really not a very good film at all.
Still, it’s a ton of fun. It more than gets the adrenaline going. It has so much electric energy that if someone had a heart attack in the theater, the movie alone could get the organ pumping again. Continue reading

HEY! WE ALL HAD TO START SOMEWHERE: an interview with Q. Allan Brocka, writer of the Eating Out series


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 Q. Allan Brocka, writer of the Eating Out series
brockaAllan Brocka is best known as the creator of the award winning stop-motion animated series RICK & STEVE THE HAPPIEST GAY COUPLE IN ALL THE WORLD which aired two seasons on MTV’s Logo Network and in 20 other countries. He is also the writer and director of the award-winning feature films BOY CULTURE and EATING OUT.
His other credits include the Sky UK reality series PORNO VALLEY (director), the documentary CAMP MICHAEL JACKSON (director), the feature film NOAH’S ARC: JUMPING THE BROOM (story) and THE BIG GAY SKETCH SHOW (staff writer).
He recently adapted the best-selling children’s novel THE CANDYMAKERS for the big screen.
 
  1.   What is the name of your first screenplay that was produced?
My first feature screenplay produced was EATING OUT. Continue reading

THE THRILLERS OF IT ALL: Man From Reno, The Mafia Only Kills in Summer and A Wolf at the Door


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
man from renoMan From Reno is a new neo noir about a mystery writer who becomes involved in a real/reel life mystery. Not a particularly original idea, though I always found it a kind of fun one, and here the writers Dave Boyle (who also directed), Joel Clark and Michael Lerman do get a certain amount of satisfying mileage from it.
It starts out very strongly with Sheriff Paul Del Moral (Pepe Serna, one of those character actors who’s been around forever and been in just about everything) making his rounds in fog as thick as a fur coat (these scenes are especially well filmed and unnerving). He comes upon a car in the middle of the road with its trunk open. In going around it, he strikes a man with Asian features. But soon after taking the man to the hospital, the man disappears. Continue reading