My recommendations for film watching this week in L.A. 4/29-5/6/2016


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. 4/29-5/6/2016
ff 1ON NETFLIX:  Look Who’s Back is very difficult to describe.  With screenplay by Marco Kreauzpaintner and Johannes Boss and direction by David Wnendt, its basic premise is that Hitler has somehow materialized in modern day Germany.  A TV journalist, trying to get his job back, finds him and promotes him as a kind of joke, not realizing he’s the real thing.  As a result, Hitler becomes a huge TV star.  Part scripted, part Borat, it’s a rather vicious look at modern German attitudes, suggesting that Hitler would not be so out of place in today’s world.
ff 2ON HULU:  As written by Yevgeni Zamyatin, Jacques Companees, Charles Spaak and the director Jean Renoir, Maxim Gorky’s Russian play about the lowest of the low, The Lower Depths, gets a definite Gallic spin, part film noir, part existential romanticism, and not as downbeat as the original source.  It’s not as good as Akira Kurosawa’s adaptation, which is closer to the source material.  But it has its moments, especially in Louis Jouvet as a Baron who loses everything, but accepts it all as his destiny.  
ff 5Of Special Note: The TCM Film Festival begins 4/28/16 www.tcm.com
ff 3Of Special Note: Prince’s Purple Rain will be showing at various locations in the city
ff 4FIRST RUN and OPENING:  Viva, Keanu, Barbershop: The Next Cut, The Invitation, Green Room, The Meddler, Sworn Virgin, Sing Street, Dough, Hockney Continue reading

…and All That Jazz: Miles Ahead and an Oscar Prediction


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
rev 1Miles Ahead is the new biopic of Miles Davis, one of the great, if not the greatest, jazz trumpeter and composer of all times. It’s written by Steven Baigelman and the director and star Don Cheadle.  The filmmakers do everything they can, from non-linear storytelling to all sorts of directorial flourishes, to keep the audience enthralled.
And they succeed, at least for a while.  Flashbacks, jump cuts and various stylistic juxtapositions that feel inspired by jazz music, give the film a certain electric immediacy.
But it’s not long before it feels that all this tinsel and sawdust is, well, not a lot more than tinsel and sawdust, there to hide the fact that in the end, the movie, though often entertaining, is really just another, as I and a friend like to call it, typical Warner Brothers biopic, the reference being the prestige pictures of the studios made in their heydays, like The Story of Louis Pasteur, The Life of Emil Zola and even more recently, Gandhi.  All worthy, but all still somewhat bland. Continue reading

IT’S A JUNGLE OUT THERE: Movie Reviews of Demolition and The Jungle Book by Howard Casner


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
rev 1For the first third of the new drama Demolition, Jake Gyllenhaal plays Davis,  a man whose wife recently died in a traumatic car crash, one which he witnessed (he was in the passenger seat beside her).
After the accident, he starts acting, well, somewhat odd.  He doesn’t seem to show any emotion or even grieve in any way.  He returns to work earlier than expected.  He distances himself from a scholarship his father-in-law wants to create in his daughter’s name.
But most important, at least in terms of the story, after a candy machine refuses to give him his order, he starts writing to the customer service department of the manufacturer.  However, he doesn’t just air his grievance, he also spills his real feelings about his wife and what is happening to him. Continue reading

My recommendations for movie watching this week in L.A. 4/22-29/16


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. 4/22-29/16
ff 1ON NETFLIX:  Writer/director Mike Leigh’s Happy-Go-Lucky is a character study of someone who can never been down or unhappy, even when dark events occur.  It has a marvelous performance by Sally Hawkins (she got an Oscar Nom for Blue Jasmine), she manages to be always up without being annoying or alienating, includes a scene where an equally great Eddie Marsan tries to teach her how to drive and things don’t go well.
ff 2ON HULU:  A Short Film about Love is one tenth of Krzystof Kieslowski’s omnibus film, The Decalog in which each section corresponds to one of the Ten Commandments. Written by Kieslowski and Krzysztof Piesiewicz, it’s an expanded version of Thou Shalt Not Commit Adultery.  Kieslowski is one of the greatest filmakers of the late 20th Century and all of his films are highly recommended.
ff 3Of Special Note:  COLCOA, the French film festival (that has a ton of free screenings) ends 4/26/2016 http://www.colcoa.org/
Of Special Note: The Noir City: Film Noir Festival ends 4/24/2016 at American Cinematheque at The ff 4Egyptian. Not to be missed for any hard boiled fans. http://ow.ly/10qBEm

 

ff 5Of Special Note: The TCM Film Festival begins 4/28/16 www.tcm.com

 

 

ff 6FIRST RUN and OPENING: Elvis & Nixon, Miles Ahead, A Hologram for the King, The Meddler, Born to Be Blue, Fraconfonia, Louder Than Bombs, Men & Chicken, Green Room, Sing Street, Hardcore Henry, The Invitation Continue reading

NEW FILMMAKERS SEE THIS FILM: Midnight Special


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
rev 2Midnight Special, the new neo-noir/sci-fi film, opens at night with a throbbing music score backed by hypnotic drums.  It grabs you by your neck and just won’t let go for the next ninety minutes.  At first, the story seems to be about the abduction of a little boy, but it soon becomes clear that it’s much more complicated than that.  The boy was adopted by the leader of a religious cult that makes its base in a private compound in Texas and the ones who have taken the boy from them is the boy’s biological father and the father’s closest friend.
So what is really going on and why do so many people treat this child as if the future of the human race depended on him?  And why are the FBI after him as well?
Midnight Special is the sort of film every aspiring screenwriter, director and producer should be seeing, but I often suspect aren’t.  It should be studied and emulated. That is, if you really want a future in the industry, whether your goal is the tent pole films of a major studio, or the more personal films that one sees on the independent circuit. Continue reading

My recommendations for film watching this week in L.A. 4/15-22/2016


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. 4/15-22/16
ff 1 ON NETFLIX:  Upstream Color, the second film by writer/director Shane Carruth (after the time travel movie Primer), is a sci-fi film about people who are slipped a drug that make them obedient to any command. When they come out of the trance days later, they can’t remember anything that happened.  They also find themselves cleaned out financially.  But one victim begins to figure out what happened.  One of the best films of 2013, it’s not for everyone because Carruth’s filmmaking style is certainly his own unique vision and the story isn’t always easy to understand.  But I highly recommend it.
ff 2ON HULU:   Zero Focus is a 1961 Japanese film in which the husband of a newlywed suddenly goes missing and the new wife sets about trying to find out what happened. Written by Shinobu Hashimoto from a book by Seicho Matsumoto and directed by Yoshitara Nomura, this is a first rate film noir by a director not often spoken about over here.
Of Special Note:  COLCOA, the French film festival (that has a ton of free screenings) begins 4/18/2016 http://www.colcoa.org/
ff 4Of Special Note: The Noir City: Film Noir Festival begins 4/15/2016 at American Cinematheque at The Egyptian. Not to be missed for any hard boiled fans. http://ow.ly/10qBEm
ff 5Of Special Note: Sci-Fi Weekend at the Laemmle Ahyra Fine Arts 4/15-17, including such classics as Invasion of the Body Snatchers, The Thing and The Day The Earth Stood Still. http://ow.ly/10qB6E
ff 6FIRST RUN and OPENING: Jungle Book, Green Room, Sing Street, Neon Bull, 13 Cameras, My Big Night, Wedding Doll, Une Femme Mariee, Hardcore Henry, Midnight Special, The Invitation, Demolition, Everybody Wants Some Continue reading

NOT YOU SEE THEM, NOW YOU DON’T: Eye in the Sky


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
rev 3When air warfare and the ability to drop bombs on the enemy became standard methods of battle, pilots often had a different feeling, even a disconnect, from the grunts on the ground.  It was easier to kill the enemy combatants because the pilot didn’t engage with their foe face to face.  However, that’s not where the disconnect stopped.  It was also much easier to kill those who were not combatants, but who are, as we say today, collateral damage.
However, a new method of air warfare has somehow combined both the disconnected pilots in the air as well as the more engaged privates on parade.  This new method of mass killing, drones, enable a pilot to drop bombs on the enemy from a safe distance; but because the drones come with cameras, one also tends to see everything almost first hand, as if the ones with their hands on the trigger are there, even seeing some of the victims close up before launching a missile.
That is one of the dilemmas that is at the heart of the new drama Eye in the Sky, a story about a group of people trying  decide whether to lodge a missile at a house that not only contains terrorists high up on the most wanted list, but terrorists who are planning two suicide bombings.  The problem: right outside the house is a little girl, blithely unaware, selling bread.  So is the attack worth the death of the little girl? Continue reading