‘TIS THE SEASON FOR RANTINGS AND RAVINGS (of a screenplay reader)


Untitledhttp://ow.ly/F4RcN

And I’m not just talking Christmas, Xmas, Kwanza, Boxing Day, Festivus, Hanukkah…

For screenwriters, the screenplay competitions for 2014 have come to an end and the ones for 2015 are starting to advertise for entries. In addition, this is a slow time for the buying and selling of screenplays (or anything movie wise) because of all the holidays.

So for we writers, we happy few, we band of brothers, ‘tis the time to finish our new screenplays, pilots, web series, short films, etc., or revise our already existing ones, and get them ready for the new year.

SO, GIVE YOU AND YOUR SCREENPLAY, et al., A WONDERFUL HOLIDAY GIFT:

RANTINGS AND RAVINGS OF A SCREENPLAY READER by moi, now available on Amazon http://ow.ly/F4RcN

NOT ONLY THAT: Rantings and Ravings of a Screenplay Reader will make a great stocking stuffer for a friend. And you don’t even have to purchase the stocking to put it in.

Yes, it’s true. You can buy this for a friend, brother, sister, father, mother, estranged relative, hateful ex, future brides of Charles Manson. It’s the perfect gift for those you love and those you hate and those you love to hate.

Rantings and Ravings… is my series of essays that arose out of my ten years plus experience reading for contests and a production company, as well as various observations on the state of the art of screenwriting and moviedom.

For more information on the book, go to: http://ow.ly/F4RcN

To buy this incomparable gift for a friend (or frienemy, or a total stranger chosen at random from a telephone book, I don’t care), simply go to the Amazon page and click on the button to the right that says “GIVE AS A GIFT”: http://ow.ly/F4Rjx

Don’t wait until the last minute or you may get coal in your stocking.

 

” Your book would be $3.00 well spent for 80 or 85% of the writers here…” Eli  Donaldson
“Not just a nice perspective of a contest reader but some helpful … hmm, tips is the wrong word … insights (that’s better) into the writing process–again, the wrong word — reading of the writing process.” Tim Lane
“Information that needs to be heard.” L.A. Sidsworth
“Don’t be fooled by the amusing title of this fascinating book. Howard never actually rants or raves, but instead provides a plethora of valuable insights into the art and business of screenwriting…Quite a lot of bang for just a few bucks. And best of all, Howard’s encyclopedic knowledge of cinema, combined with a keen sense of humor, makes for a very enlightening and entertaining read.” Jeremy Carr

“I think this book should provide useful and practical advice to any aspiring screenwriter. While this is not a how-to manual on the art of writing, it should nonetheless be a good addition to most screenwriter’s libraries. Highly recommended.” Kays Al-atrakchi

“I read this book to get a perspective from the “other” side, the side of the screenplay contests readers. Howard tells it like it is. His “rantings and ravings” details how screenplays succeed or fail with specifics of what contest readers look for in great scripts or find in horrible scripts.” Dinah
“Great read for any screenwriter, just starting or an old dog looking for new tricks. Been following the writer on Facebook and reading his blog for a while now. This collection of his “Rantings and Ravings” is just what a screenwriter needs. Sage advice, encouragement and the truth” Steven Esteb, writer/director (Dirty Politics, Baller Blockin’)
Howard Casner is an amazing writer, reader and screenplay judge who was also the very first person to read and discover my award-winning script in the Slamdance Screenplay Competition. Now he is sharing his invaluable insight and knowledge so that all writers may realize their dreams. THANK YOU and CONGRATULATIONS Howard!!” Miranda Kwok, writer/actor (Spartacus: Blood and Sand)
“Howard Casner has just published a book called “Rantings and Ravings of a Screenplay Reader.” For anyone interested in screenplays, screenwriting or film, I encourage you to buy a copy. It’s only $2.99 and I’m sure you’ll find it well worth the price. I’ve read a lot of Howard’s film reviews, and with each one I’ve been impressed by his insight and knowledge. I’ve learned something valuable from every review of his that I’ve read.”  Todd Niemi, screenwriter/producer (Backgammon)
“For all my screenwriting students and friends, Howard’s book is terrific, with some insider wisdom about contests. He is a very interesting, spot on writer. Congratulations, Howard.” Bart Baker, screenwriter (Supercross, Live Wire)
“If you want to know what the bleep goes on in a script reader’s head, Howard Casner’s “Rantings and Ravings of a Screenplay Consultant” is a good place to start and it’s currently available on Amazon.  Tanya Klein on Stormblog, the official blog of Coverage, Ink. http://ow.ly/zD6Ed 

NO MORE FUN AND HUNGER GAMES or THE REVOLUTION WILL BE TELEVISED: My take on the movie The Hunger Games: Mockingjay-Part I


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

 

Warning: SPOILERS
mockingjay 1Okay.
How to start.
Well, there’s really no point in putting it off.
At the risk of losing what little reputation I have (if I even have one); at the risk of inviting ridicule, derision, mockery and scorn from those who read my reviews who don’t already hold me in ridicule, derision, mockery and scorn; and at the risk of being reviled by serious filmgoers far and wide…
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay-Part I is not nearly as bad as the critics claim it is and is by far the best entry in the franchise to date, far better than the first two films. Continue reading

A PERSONAL LIST OF MY 100 GREATEST FILMS


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

I created this list for a group I use to meet with to discu2001ss movies. Since I went to all the trouble to create it, I thought I would share it.
First, some explanations and qualifications.
It is a personal record. It’s not an objective list of the movies that are generally considered to be the greatest, but the films that I feel are the greatest. Continue reading

REEL MEN, REAL MEN, PART TWO: Mr. Turner, Saint Laurent and The Theory of Everything


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

 

Warning: SPOILERS
mr turnerI continue now with my reviews of the sudden spate of movies based on real people that are arriving late in the year because, well, we’re entering awards season, and what awards season would be complete without an overabundance of inspired by true event stories.
First up…
Early on in Mr. Turner, writer/director Mike Leigh’s latest film about the famed 19th century land- and seascape artist, his servants prepare a pig’s head for a meal.
What is so interesting about this, and the reason I draw attention to it, is that the porcine’s pate bears a remarkable resemblance to the great painter himself with the artist constantly snorting and grunting as if Babe was his mother (or father, I can’t remember whether that famed shoat was a boar or a sow).
In fact, one might say that, Timothy Spall, a member of Leigh’s stock company of actors and who plays the title character here, does one of the greatest, if not greatest, imitation of a sus scrofa domesticus I’ve ever encountered in cinematic history. If someone is planning a remake of Animal Farm, I think we have our Old Napoleon.
It may be a dubious distinction, but a distinction none the less.

Continue reading

WHAT HAPPENED TO ONE THROUGH FIVE: Big Hero 6 and The Tale of the Princess Kaguya


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

 

Warning: SPOILERS
big heroI’m sure you’ve heard the old joke, the one about the guy who said, “I’m not going to see Henry V because I haven’t seen the first four yet”?
Well, don’t worry, fair filmgoers, Big Hero 6 is not a sequel (though believe me, to paraphrase Paul Thomas Anderson, there will be sequels). It’s more an origin story of a group of X-Men like super young adults set in a city named San Fransokyo (so called because it’s an alternative future where Japanese immigrants rebuilt the city where I left my heart after the 1906 earthquake).
Big Hero 6 is a fun and satisfying enough animated movie, especially in the first half where it tends to show a bit more heart and emphasizes emotional resonance over the more prevalent action oriented approach of the second half.
True, it’s fairly familiar and almost Disney paint by number. I mean, c’mon, you gotta know that a mother or father or mother figure or father figure to the central character is going to die early on because, well, it’s Disney, and the only thing that studio likes more than making animated movies that rake in a ton of money is trying to traumatize pre-teens in the first fifteen minutes of their films (unless it’s about a dog, then they wait until the last fifteen). Continue reading

REEL MEN, REAL MEN, PART ONE: Foxcatcher, Rosewater and The Imitation Game


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

 

Warning: SPOILERS
imitation oneIt’s November, which means we few, we happy few, we band of brothers, are fast approaching awards season, which in turn means distributors, producers and studios are bringing out a bunch of stunt performances, or as we vulgarly call them in the vernacular, bio-pics, to qualify for the Academy Awards (among other competitions).
And this year is not only no different, it may actually set a record as it’s quite possible that three of the five female nominees for best actress Oscars will be for movies with characters based on real people and the male category may have up to four.
So please join me for the first installment of Reel Men, Real Men.

 

Foxcatcher is a movie about a poor younger man with daddy issues who becomes entangled in the life of a wealthy older man with mommy issues. The filmmakers seem determined to raise all the goings on to the level of Greek tragedy, but I’m not convinced it comes close to anything remotely Sophoclean. Continue reading

MINORITY REPORT: Dear White People, The Way He Looks and the “other” in movies


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

 

Warning: SPOILERS

 

dwp oneThose who make films that appeal to niche markets in some way (by niche, I mean specific audiences of some sort: gay, black, Hispanic, female, etc.) have a good news/bad news issue in moviedom.
The good news is that they have a preset group of people who are inherently more interested in seeing the movie because it is about them and their lives.
The bad news is that they have a preset group of people who are more inherently interested in seeing the movie because it is about them, but it is very difficult to convince anyone outside of that niche to buy tickets because they assume the movie can’t possibly have anything to say to them since it is about the “other” in their lives.
Which is why blockbuster movies often appeal to young straight white males, and many mainstream films that have a niche component, i.e. concerns in some way the other, either have a non-other central character (Cry Freedom, Glory) or if the central character is an other and can’t be gotten around, they surround him with non-other characters (Gandhi, 12 Years a Slave). Continue reading

FROM POST MODERNISM TO RETRO: a theory on the future of movies


I thought I would throw this out and get some reactions to it. It’s an idea I’m toying with as the subject for a fuller blog essay.

I’m getting the feeling we are about to get that new wave in movies in the U.S. that I’ve been hoping for these last few years. For me, American movies have been getting worse and worse since 2001 (for a variety of reasons), especially as an art form, and that we need something to happen to shake things up. We need a new movement.

I think that is about to happen for a couple of reasons.

Over the last ten years, something important happened in film. It became so inexpensive to make movies and so easy to, that everyone was doing it.

The great thing was that anyone could make a movie.

The awful thing was that anyone could make a movie.

Even those who had nothing to say and had no reason to make a movie. And it showed in the indie movies being made: conventional; lacking any sort of edge or challenge; formulaic; or at other times, simply unwatchable.

I think what is about to change is the platform for making and distributing movies. The big monkey wrench is the entry of Netflix in producing, not just television series, but movies. And I think with this, tons of other platforms, from Hulu to Amazon, maybe You Tube, will be following suit if they are not already doing that.

And there will be more outlets for distribution of films as well with the rise of VOD, the internet, Kindles, etc.

These outlets tend to look more toward challenging films (since new outlets always look for the new and different in order to call attention to themselves) and they will also be more of a clearing board, weeding out those who don’t have a reason to make a movie and don’t really have enough talent.

So what to call this movement and I am suggesting a term:

RETRO

Before this, we were in a period of post modernism with such filmmakers as Soderbergh, Tarantino and the Coen Brothers, movies that took everything from the past, treating it all as equal in value, and made movies that were self-aware of what they were while trying to work on their own terms.

I think we may now be entering a period influenced by the past but in a more specific way.

The future, at least in the U.S. in independent and indie film, is a heavy emphasis on genre (horror, sci-fi, rom com, thrillers, neo-noir, etc.), but not in a self-conscious or self-referential way, but in a more straight forward way, reminiscent of the types of movies made when many new filmmakers were either growing up or the types of films they watched when they first started watching movies (and based on my friends’ viewings, are still the sorts of movies they still watch more than any other), especially, but not limited to, B-movies of various kinds (as well as, or perhaps with even more influence, television series).

And in the U.S., the most interesting films of late have been low to medium budget sci-fi, neo-noir, horror and fantasy.

I haven’t though this all through. I’m just throwing it against the wall and seeing what sticks.

But I’m wondering what people think of this and whether retro is a good way to describe it?

WORKING WOMEN: Three films at AFI–Two Days, One Night, The Clouds of Sils Maria and Gett: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem


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

 

Warning: SPOILERS
two days oneI have been attending the AFI film festival and have seen three films with female leads and have noticed a major difference between movies from other countries and those made in the U.S. when it comes to how we treat our actresses.
In the U.S., Marion Cottilard is made to play second fiddle to Johnny Depp, Daniel Day Lewis and Leonard DiCaprio, but on her home continent, two of the top European filmmakers actually built a whole movie around her.
In the U.S., Juliet Binoche is relegated to second tier status after a gigantic lizard goes on the rampage and Kristin Stewart is stuck in ridiculous teen angst films and even more ridiculous, over the top Hollywood blockbusters, but in Europe the two are allowed to play opposite each other in roles with depths most American actresses only dream of.
And in the U.S., when it comes to a study of a marriage, we have the misogynistic Gone Girl, with a psychotic wife who will do anything to punish her husband, even set him up for her own murder (while killing herself, no less), while from Israel, we have a film in which a woman desperately tries to get a divorce from a court that is almost determined to keep her in her place and not let her have it.
Prevailing wisdom is that this is one of the weakest years for actresses and the air is filled with panic as voters try to find five females to fill the slots for the Oscar noms for this year.
But prevailing wisdom always seems to leave out the pertinent proviso that this is really only true for the U.S. Continue reading

SCRIPT CONSULTATION TESTIMONIAL FROM JOHN HӦRNSCHEMEYER


UntitledFirst, 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

 

My latest script consultation testimonial:

Howard’s coverage is everything that you would expect from an experienced writer and script reader, and then more. Not content with simply exposing the issues that undermine a story’s potential, his perspicacious feedback is both constructive and challenging, compelling the writer to reassess the quality and content of the script. In one word, professional.

John Hӧrnschemeyer, Baring All

 

For more information on my script consultation services, go to: http://ow.ly/EecLM