My recommendations for film watching this week in L.A. 2/5-2/12/16


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. 2/5-2/12/16

ff 1ON NETFLIX: Tucker and Dale vs. Evil is a very amusing trifle that turns all the tropes and formulaic plot twists of movies where city people are at the mercy of psychotic country ones. Written by Eli Craig (who also directed) and Morgan Jurgenson, whatever else the movie is, it’s a lot of fun.

ff 2ON HULU: In Persona, an actress suddenly discovers she’s unable to talk. She is assigned a nurse and the two go to the seashore where the nurse finds her personality being submerged into the actress. One of Ingmar Bergman’s greatest films and the movie that made Liv Ullman popular in the U.S. Also with Bergman stalwart, Bibi Andersson.

ff 4SPECIAL SHOWINGS: The Oscar nominated short subjects (live actions, documentaries and animation) will be shown in various locations and theaters up until the Academy Awards are held

ff 3FIRST RUN and OPENING: Hail, Caesar!, Southbound, 4th Man Out, Rams, Eisenstein in Guanajuato, The Pack, The Finest Hours, In the Land of Women Continue reading

MANLY MEN: The Finest Hours and Mojave


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 1The story of The Finest Hours, based on a true one the screen tells us, takes place in 1951, which is probably apropos since whatever else the movie is, it’s certainly good old fashion entertainment.
It’s a movie in which men have to do what men have to do and their strong independent minded women also serve by sitting and waiting. It’s a movie that if it were done in odorama or smellovision, testosterone would be the fragrance of choice. It’s a movie so Howard Hawksian, you can’t help but wonder what that great director might have achieved with state of the art CGI.
But perhaps most important than all of that is that The Finest Hours is rollicking, edge of your seat fun. Yes, it’s formulaic and predictable (you can see the tropes coming a mile, or knot, off), but here it’s so well done, with such sincerity and heart, that the familiarity just makes it more enjoyable. And if that’s not enough, it has enough chills, thrills and nail biting suspense for ten movies. Continue reading

YOU WANT ME TO READ WHAAAAAAT? A Snob’s Guide to Alternative Sources for Structure in Plotting for Screenplay and TV Writing, Part IV: Grindhouse/Exploitation


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
Also available for revising, script doctoring and ghost writing.
 
essay 10This is the fourth in a series of essays about alternative sources for structure and plotting for screenplays and television series (for earlier entry in the series, see the bottom of the essay).
By alternative, I mean sources other than the usual tomes written by the usual gurus, sources you might not immediately think about, that can be used as guides in trying to tell your story, sources that you might not have even considered of any use in this area.
The idea of writing these essays originated with the sudden rise of what is now being called a second golden age of television, as well as a paradigm shift in the way movies are made. There are now so many different ways of telling a story on television, while in movies there has been a swing away from the Hollywood/Studio type of filmmaking, that I believe thinking outside the box when it comes to finding ways to tell stories might be a wise move to make at this time.
However, before proceeding any further, I would also like to say one other thing. You may look at many of my lists and recoil at the hoity-toityness of them all and even accuse me of being a snob.
Well, what can I say? I am a snob and I’m proud of it.
But I seriously doubt it would hurt anyone’s ability to write if they let a little more snobbishness in. In fact, it might help. You never know, so give it a try.
Today I will focus on grindhouse/exploitation films and TV series. These are stories that are highly influenced by everything from pre-code films, to midnight movies, to Roger Corman films, to low budget cult films, to Italian giallo films, to soft core porn and sexploitation films, the Ozploitation movement in Australia, the British sex comedies of the 1960’s, Blaxploitation, the list goes on and on.

Continue reading

 My recommendations for film watching this week in L.A. 1/29-2/5/16


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. 1/29-2/5/16

ff 2ON NETFLIX: Evgeny Afineevsky’s film Winter of Fire: the Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom is a breathtaking documentary about the growing unrest from 2013 to 2014 between those wanting the Ukraine to align with the EU, and the government, headed by President Yanukovich, that wanted to align with Russia. It’s a documentary that never stops and is heartbreaking and inspiring. Nominated for the 2016 Oscars.

ff 3ON HULU: The 1939 version of George Bernard Shaw’s play Pygmalion (the basis for the musical My Fair Lady) is perhaps the best adaption of a Shaw play and is just delightful on its own terms. A professor of dialects tries to help a lower class flower girl speak like a noblewoman. As acted by Leslie Howard and Wendy Hiller, as Henry Higgins and Eliza Doolittle; directed by Howard and Anthony Asquith; and written by Asquith and Shaw himself, this is a beautiful and very funny movie.

ff 1SPECIAL SHOWINGS: Laemmle’s Ahrya Fine Arts Theater will be showing two of the Taviani brothers most respected films: Padre Padrone and The Night of the Shooting Stars

ff 4SPECIAL SHOWINGS: The Oscar nominated short subjects (live actions, documentaries and animation) will be shown in various locations and theaters up until the Academy Awards are held

ff 5FIRST RUN and OPENING: The Finest Hours, In the Land of Women Continue reading

My recommendations for film watching this week in L.A. 1/22-1/29/16


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. 1/22-29/2016
ff lost soulsON NETFLIX: Lost Souls: The Doomed Journey of Richard Stanley’s Island of Dr. Moreau is a fascinating, but rather depressing, story about how a promising up and coming director, Richard Stanley (who had a cult following for his low budget horror films) found himself in over his head with his adaptation of H.G. Wells The Island of Dr. Moreau and was so embittered by the experience he almost completely withdrew from filmmaking. Filled with talking heads and behind the scenes footage, we see step by step how things quickly went wrong.
ff man bites dogON HULU: With three directors and four writers, Man Bites Dog is one of the funniest and darkest satires on found footage films (as well as one of the earliest). A film crew follows a serial killer as he adds to his victims. It’s a ridiculous premise, but it still works in all its vicious absurdity. Starring Benoit Poelvoorde as the racist murderer who loves to wax philosophic.
ff aferimFIRST RUN and OPENING: Aferim!, The Lady in the Van, Son of Saul, The Revenant, The Hateful Eight, Star Wars: the Force Awakens Continue reading

THE 2015 Howies


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

lobster poster
2015 was an oddly structured year when it came to the quality of movie releases. At the same time, I’m beginning to suspect that this might just become the status quo for a while.
The first few months, until the beginning of the release of the inevitable tentpole films (around the time of Mad Max making its appearance), the theaters tended to be filled with either the previous year’s Oscar movies (which I had seen) or movies that were being dumped because their producers had lost faith in them.
carol posterIt’s not that there wasn’t some gold here and there. Movies like Predestination and What We Do In the Shadows made their presence known. But overall, it was like pulling teeth to find a decent film to go to.
Then the blockbusters hit and with a vengeance. As usual, most weren’t very good, mediocre if we were lucky. At the same time, the quality was, on average, a bit better than usual with Mad Max, Spy and The Martian leading the pack.
spy posterThen fall hit, also with a vengeance, and all the distributors inundated the movie houses with their prestige pictures, and suddenly it was safe to go back to the theater again. Not that all of these lived up to their hype (cough, Steve Jobs, cough), but overall, the year ended with a nice selection of films to choose from for a best of list.
Let me know what you think.
So here are the 2015 Howies: Continue reading

My recommendations for film watching this week in L.A. 1/15-1/22/16


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. 1/15-22/2016
out in the darkON NETFLIX: In Out in the Dark, an espionage thriller written by Yael Shafrir and Michael Mayer, who also directed, a gay Palestinian man is having an affair with an Israeli lawyer. When the Israeli secret police discover this, they take the Palestinian man in and threaten to reveal his sexual identify to his family if he doesn’t help them trap his brother who is working for the PLO. An exciting and taut drama.
balladON HULU: Ballad of a Soldier, made in 1959 after the thaw of Stalin, is the heartfelt story about a private who, after an act of bravery on the battlefield, gets leave to go home and see his mother, but hardly has time to get there and back. Written by Grigoriy Chukhray (who also directed) and Valentin Ezhov, it’s a get out your handkerchiefs story, but it earns its sentimentally validly as it traces the soldiers attempts to reach home and the people he runs into on the way.
lady in the vanFIRST RUN and OPENING: The Lady in the Van, Son of Saul, Band of Robbers, The Revenant, The Hateful Eight, Star Wars: the Force Awakens Continue reading