OR DOES IT?: It Follows and 3 Hearts


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
it followsTeen sexuality in movies has changed quite a bit over time, of course. In the 1930’s and ‘40’s, teens were seen as innocents who got caught up in chaste, but ridiculous romantic misfires (like Andy Hardy).
In the 1950’s and 1960’s, it became a social issue with fears of juvenile delinquency (Rebel Without a Cause), unwanted pregnancy (Blue Denim) and if you’re Natalie Wood, a trip to the loony bin (Splendor in the Grass). And we haven’t even got to those luridly bad, but fun movies they showed in high school about STD’s.
Then finally, with the arrival of such films as Friday the 13th, Halloween and Carrie, teen sexuality became associated with death, with all the bad boys and girls getting theirs after having done the deed and only the virgins managing to survive.
And today, we have yet another version of when teens have sex with writer/director David Robert Mitchell’s new horror film It Follows. Continue reading

My recommendations for movie watching this week in L.A. 3/27/2015-4/3/2015


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. 3/27-4/3/2015

charlieON NETFLIX: Charlie, Victor, Romeo takes a group of actors who basically act out the black box flight recordings of various airplane disasters. Yeah, it’s one of the oddest bases for a film you’ll come across. Even odder, it’s based on a stage play. It’s also very effective and incredibly riveting. It’s in 3D, though that doesn’t seem to add anything to it.

devilON HULU: The Devil and Daniel Webster is a 1941 adaptation of the old story about a farmer selling his soul to the devil and when the soul comes due, the farmer is defended by the great title role statesman. Wonderfully shot, a smart screenplay by Dan Totheroh and Stephen Vincent Benet based on Benet’s short story, a great Oscar nominated performance by Walter Huston as Scratch, directed by William Dieterle, and music by the greatest of the great, Bernard Hermann.

wild tales oneFIRST RUN and OPENING: ’71, Wild Tales, While We’re Young, Wolf at the Door, Backcountry, Man From Reno, Jauja, Danny Collins, Going Clear, Run All Night, What We Do In the Shadows, It Follows, Goodbye to Language, Gett: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem,

REVIVAL AND ART HOUSES:

AMERICAN CINEMATEQUE at The Egyptian: TCM Classic Film Festival starts 3/26

AMERICAN CINEMATEQUE at The Aero: Heavy Traffic, American Pop, 3/27; La Strada, Lust for Life, 4/3

NEW BEVERLY: Pulp Fiction, Reservoir Dogs, 3/27-28; Heat, 3/29-30; Red Rock West, Run, Lola, Run, 4/1-2; Boogie Nights, Trainspotting, 4/3-4

LACMA: Jules and Jim, 3/31

CINEFAMILY at the Silent Movie Theater: The Tales of Hoffman, 3/27-4/2

UCLA ARCHIVES at the Hammer Museum: The Long Voyage Home, 3/30

THE RULES OF THE SCREENWRITING GAME: Truth or clichés in a couple of screenwriting tropes


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
scream laptopThere are two sayings about rules that I hear quite often when it comes to screenwriting and I think it’s time to take a closer look at both of them and consider whether they are actually correct, or whether they are more something that we say because, well, people who write books say them, and all these gurus say them, and all my teachers said them, and all my friends say them, and hasn’t everybody been saying them since people have been saying things?
I mean, sometimes I think that if screenwriters were told that to be write a good screenplay you have to jump off a bridge, they’d do it.
The two sayings are: “Rules are made to be broken” and “you have to know the rules to break them”.
The first one, rules are made to be broken, is actually one I have no strong issue with. In fact, I often say, as soon as someone creates a rule, break it. Let’s face it, if you don’t, someone else will.
At the same time, I do think in many ways that’s the wrong way to approach it. I think there is a better way to look at that attitude, something more beneficial to you as a writer.
As for the second one, “you have to know the rules to break them”, this is one that I’ve never really understood or bought. Continue reading

ASHES TO ASHES: Cinderella


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
cinderellaThere is one absolutely lovely and magical moment in the new live action, non-musical Disney version of the animated, fully musicalized Disney version of the classic Charles Perrault fairy tale Cinderella.
Our titular character, frustrated and defeated by the cruel treatment at the hands of her step-mother and step-sisters, takes to horse and rides off into a distant woods where she stops the Prince from hunting down a stag.
What’s wonderful about this scene is that the previously optimistic (and rather annoyingly Pollyanish at times) Cinderella is finally the person she really is, beaten down, sad, furious at the circumstances she has found herself in, while the Prince, in turn, is finally the person he isn’t: here he pretends to be a mere apprentice and not royalty.
Who’d have thought something this sophisticated, clever and witty would have come from a carefully fine-tuned and micromanaged to the nth degree movie from the Disney studios, but the screenwriter Chris Weitz (who has given us such fun bon bons as Antz and About a Boy) pulled off something of a coup in this particular scene.
Other than that, for my money, Cinderella is something of a mixed bag when it comes to success. I know it’s been socking it away at the box office, but I’m afraid that it only intermittently works for me. Continue reading

My recommendations for movie watching this week in L.A. 3/20/2015-3/27/2015


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. 3/20-27/2015

 

force majeureON NETFLIX: Force Majeure, writer/director Ruben Ostlund’s comedy, was Sweden’s entry in the Oscar foreign language film category. While on a skiing vacation, a family is having lunch outside when the resort causes a forced avalanche. When it looks as if the avalanche is about to hit the terrace where everyone is having lunch, the father leaves the family behind, grabbing his phone before running to safety.

 

 

fanny and alexanderON HULU: I have started watching the full televised series Fanny and Alexander, writer/director Ingmar Bergman’s study of what happens to two children leading an idealistic life when their father dies and their mother marries an austere clergyman. I only saw the original theatrical release, but the first two episodes are pretty wonderful.

 

 

 

tales of hoffmanOF SPECIAL NOTE: The Tales of Hoffman, a new print, is still showing at Cinefamily at The Silent Movie Theater, 3/20-26

 

 

 

 

it followsFIRST RUN and OPENING: ’71, Danny Collins, Going Clear, It Follows, Run All Night, What We Do In the Shadows, Amour Fou, Dreamcatcher, Spring, Wild Tales, It Follows, Goodbye to Language, Gett: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem, 3 Hearts

 

REVIVAL AND ART HOUSES:

 

AMERICAN CINEMATEQUE at The Egyptian: The Flying Camera, Drone Filmmaking, 3/20; The Long Hair of Death, The Pit and the Pendulum (with Barbara Steele in person), 3/21; 1941, 3/22; TCM Classic Film Festival starts 3/26

AMERICAN CINEMATEQUE at The Aero: The Long Goodbye, 3/20; Nashville, 3/21; McCabe and Mrs. Miller, 3/22; The Godfather, 3/26; Heavy Traffic, American Pop, 3/27

NEW BEVERLY: Unforgiven, The Silence of the Lambs, 3/25-26; Pulp Fiction, Reservoir Dogs, 3/27-28

LACMA: Love on the Run, 3/24

CINEFAMILY at the Silent Movie Theater: Island of Lost Souls (1932), 3/20; The Color of Pomegranates, 3/20-21

 

HEY! WE ALL HAD TO START SOMEWHERE


Here is a list of the interviews I’ve done in this series on new  writers so far.  Check them out.

Josh Kim http://ow.ly/K7obx

Jim Thalman http://ow.ly/JQ8YT

David Au http://ow.ly/JwM0A

Dwayne Alexander Smith http://ow.ly/J8GJI

Haifaa Al-Mansour http://ow.ly/ITabq

Chad Crawford Kinkle http://ow.ly/HXLq0

Mikey Levy http://ow.ly/HA9Xm

Hilliard Guess http://ow.ly/HcOmr

Amir Ohebsion http://ow.ly/H8aPq

Donald McKinney http://ow.ly/GvPfn

Michelle Ehlen http://ow.ly/GvPr1

OLD AGE AIN’T NO PLACE FOR SISSIES: Run All Night and Faults


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
Two movies have opened recently in which the central character use to be top of his game, but time and their past deeds have caught up to them, leaving a ruin in his place.
run all nightLiam Neeson has recently suggested that he is retiring from the action genre that gave new life to his career with the unexpected, but very effective, success of that modern day version of John Wayne’s The Searchers, Taken. After that, it was movies like The Grey and A Walk Among the Tombstones as well as others whose title seem to suggest just where this through line was going.
Now, he’s playing, Jimmy, aka The Gravedigger, an over the hill hit man, someone who has seen better days but now falls asleep drunk in a bar and farts while out, only to awaken in order to humiliate himself by asking for money from Danny, the son of his old boss and best friend, Shawn. In order to earn the money, he has to play Santa.
Things take a bad turn when Jimmy’s estranged son Mike sees Danny kill someone in a drug deal gone bad. Things take an even worse turn when Jimmy kills Danny in order to stop him from killing Mike. And then things take an even worse turn when Shawn has all his men focused on killing Mike and then killing Jimmy once he knows his son is dead. Continue reading