HERMAN MELVILLE IN A SUB and CHEKHOV IN TURKEY: Black Sea and Winter Sleep


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

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Warning: SPOILERS
black seaAfter WWII, Germany was being fought over by the Western Powers (England, France and the U.S.) and the Russians. They ended up splitting the country in half, in a riff on that Solomon and baby thing.
In Black Sea, a new action film written by Dennis Kelly and directed by Kevin McDonald, cold war politics come back to haunt the characters as a submarine crew made up of equal parts British and Russian go on the hunt for some Nazi gold with the goal of splitting it between the two.
The more things change, the more they stay the same.
Before I continue, I should reemphasize how I start these reviews: Warning: SPOILERS.
I feel I should do this because there will be spoilers. My god, will there be spoilers, spoilers galore. They will flow like the River Nile and spray the canvas like the drops flung forth from a fighter’s broken nose during a Mixed Martial Arts bout.
They will flow because I found the plot to Black Sea to be one of the most preposterous ones I’ve come across in some time. Continue reading

My recommendations for movie watching this week in L.A. 1/30/-2/6/2015


My recommendations for movie watching this week in L.A. 1/30/-2/6/2015

 

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

 

museum hoursON NETFLIX: Museum Hours: A woman travels to Vienna in order to visit an ailing relative she has long lost touch with, but she’s all the relative has. Having difficulty coping, she strikes up a friendship with a guard in the Kunsthistorisches Museum.   A wonderful character study that kind of sneaks up on you and becomes deeply moving. It’s driven by the guard who also fills the movie with voice over observations of life, art and the people who come to the museum. Directed by Jem Cohen and writted by Cohen and the two actors.

 

 

beat the devilON HULU: Beat the Devil, the final collaboration of Humphrey Bogart and John Huston, is a comedy about a group of crooks and demi-crooks waiting to go to Africa for some sort of questionable mineral deals. It’s written by Truman Capote and John Huston, who also directed. I think it’s wry and often very funny and highly entertaining. Others, including Bogart, who did not have kind words for it when it flopped, don’t hold it in as high regard. You be the judge.

 

 

 

FIRST RUN and OPENING: Oscar Nominated Documentary, Animated and Live Action Shorts, Amira & Sam, Timbukto, Goodbye To Language, Mommy, The Imitation Game, Mr. Turner, Nightcrawler, Citizenfour, Leviathan, Whiplash, Paddington, Red Army, Song of the Sea, Winter Sleep and Two Days, One Night

 

REVIVAL AND ART HOUSES:

 

AMERICAN CINEMATEQUE at THE EGYPTIAN: The French Connection, The Driver, 1/30; The Gold Rush, 2/1; High Crime, The Family, 2/1; The Godfather, The Godfather, Part II, 2/6

 

AMERICAN CINEMATEQUE at THE AERO: Fantasia, 1/30; The Lady Eve, The Palm Beach Story, 2/6

 

NEW BEVERLY: The Uninvited, Desert Fury, 2/1-2;

 

UCLA ARCHIVES at the Hammer Museum: The Story of the Last Chrysanthemum, 2/6

 

LACMA: Taxi Driver, Uptight, 1/30; Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, 2/3; Annie Hall, Fingers, 2/6

 

CINEFAMILY at the SILENT MOVIE THEATER: A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, 1/31, 3-5

 

CHARACTER CHIAROSCURO: Little Accidents, Appropriate Behavior and Son of a Gun


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
Three movies have opened recently that are driven by characters studies, even in the case of the one that is also driven by a prison break and robbery of a gold refinery. It’s not a bad way to start the new year, even if one of them, as far as I’m concerned, doesn’t work on any level.
little accidentsLittle Accidents takes place in a small town that depends on coal mining for its existence. When a cave in leaves a sole survivor, he gets caught between two factions: the miners who want him to blame the company so they can be sued for compensation, and the miners who want him to say it was an accident because if the mine owners are held at fault, the mine will close and there’ll be no more work.
Meanwhile, the teenage son of the mine manager continually bullies the son of a miner who has died. When a fight ensues, the miner’s son accidentally kills the manager’s son and hides the body, causing a city wide search.
Finally, the wife of the manager, upset over the disappearance of her son and her suspicion that her husband was responsible in some way for the cave in, finds her life slipping away from her.
The three characters, Amos, the survivor; Owen, the miner’s son; and Diane, the manager’s wife, slowly find their lives intersecting as they become involved in some way with each other: Amos and Diane have an affair while Owen does yard work for Diane while Diane begins to treat him as a surrogate son and Amos becomes a kind of father figure to Owen.
Little Accidents is written and directed by Sara Colangelo and is one of those small movies that are rich in depth of characterization. The people are leading lives of quiet desperation, but Colangelo shows them such understanding and sympathy that you can’t help but be deeply moved in how they work through the difficulties that have suddenly shown up in their lives. Continue reading

HEY! WE ALL HAD TO START SOMEWHERE: an interview with screenwriter/director/producer and author of Jug Face, Chad Crawford Kinkle


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: Screenwriter/director/producer and author of Jug Face, Chad Crawford Kinkle

 

chad jug faceBorn in a small town in Tennessee, Chad Crawford Kinkle grew up making horror movies with his parent’s camcorder. This led him to earn two degrees in film with aspirations to become a horror filmmaker. After eight years of writing, his career finally began with his award winning screenplay Jug Face.
  1. What is the name of your first screenplay that was produced?
JUG FACE was the first feature that I had produced.

Continue reading

THE FUTURE IS NOW: A PRETENTIOUS ESSAY FOR SCREENWRITERS


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. Only $2.99. http://ow.ly/xN31r
 
and check out my Script Consultation Services: http://ow.ly/HPxKE
 
barton finkThis is a somewhat pretentious essay about what I think screenwriters should be doing to further their careers now based on my observations of the state of the art these days.
I decided to put pen to paper, or keyboard to word processor, because over the last ten years or so, I have noticed changes in the way screenwriters seem to be making their start and getting ahead. And because of this, I think that the old suggestions of how a screenwriter can make a living of any sort at their craft may need to change, or at least be tweaked to some degree.

 

And there are times when I engage in social media that makes me think that many aspiring writers believe that the way screenplays are bought, sold and get made is based on a model that was in place twenty years ago or more. I’m exaggerating, but I’ll sometimes read a post that makes me think that Joe Eszterhas is still the role model of choice in 2015.
This essay is an attempt to try to guide writers into this brave new world that hath such people in them.
Now, before I get into the devil of the details, I do want to say, as I said at the beginning of the essay, that this is a somewhat pretentious thing for me to do. I have not had a movie made from one of my screenplays (though that may change in the near future if a film I wrote, The Compass, is finished and finds a way to be released). Continue reading

My recommendations for movie watching this week in L.A. 1/23-1/30/2015:


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

 

venusON NETFLIX: Venus in Fur, Roman Polanski and David Ives adaptation of Ives’ play about a theater director trying to find a female lead for his adaptation of a Sacher-Masoch book and what happens when a mysterious woman arrives at the last minute who starts playing mind games with him. A one location, two character movie that is fun and marvelously acted.

ON HULU: Drugstore Cowboy, Gus Van Sant and Daniel Yost’s dark comedy about a group of drug addicts who spend most of their time just trying to feed their habit, is one of Van Sant’s best films.

FIRST RUN and OPENING: The Imitation Game, Mr. Turner, Nightcrawler, Force Majeure, Citizenfour, Leviathan, Whiplash, Predestination, Paddington, Song of the Sea, Little Accidents, Ida and Two Days, One Night

REVIVAL AND ART HOUSES:

AMERICAN CINEMATEQUE at THE EGYPTIAN: Duel, The Car, 1/23; Vanishing Point, Fear is the Key, 1/29; The French Connection, The Driver, 1/30

AMERICAN CINEMATEQUE at THE AERO: Godard’s Goodbye to Language, 1/23-29; Fantasia, 1/30

NEW BEVERLY: A Star is Born, New York, New York, 1/24-25

UCLA ARCHIVES at the Hammer Museum: Sansho the Bailiff, 1/23; The King of Kings (1927), 1/24; Madame Satan, Dynamite, 1/25; Life of Oharu, 1/30

LACMA: All that Jazz, Phantom of the Paradise, 1/23; Bonnie and Clyde, The Godfather, Part II, 1/24; The Wizard of Oz, 1/27; The Seven Samurai, 1/29; Taxi Driver, Uptight, 1/30

CINEFAMILY at the SILENT MOVIE THEATER: A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, 1/28; Wild Tales, 1/29

THE BEARABLE LIGHTNESS OF BEING: Paddington


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
paddingtonThe opening scenes from Paddington, the new film about the eponymous English toy bear called, well, Paddington, appropriately enough, has some incredibly gorgeous and glorious animation. When a bear first appears, it’s as if every single whisker and individual hair of his fur is alive and moving, gracefully flowing even.
The animated movement of the bear and the intermix of animation of real live actors is just about faultless and the filmmakers have contributed some marvelous bits of magic as well, such as a doll’s house that reveals the house Paddington lives in and shows what is going on in the other rooms when the doors swing open, or a wall with paintings of trees on it with leaves that flutter away when the weather, symbolically, changes inside the house.
The movie, with a screenplay by Hamish McColl and the director Paul King (based on the character created by Michael Bond) is also witty. In fact, it’s often very witty. It’s almost a cliché that English films are going to outwit their American counterparts these days. It just seems to be part of the British character that they can’t escape. Continue reading

HEY! WE ALL HAD TO START SOMEWHERE an interview with screenwriter/director/producer and author of Rails & Ties, Micky Levy


micky picThis is the third 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.
 
Let me know what you think. Any feedback or suggestions for the sort of information you might like to know will be appreciated.
 
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
 
Next up: Screenwriter/director/producer and author of Rails & Tails Micky Levy
rails and ties oneRails & Ties (Warner Bros), directed by Alison Eastwood and starring Kevin Bacon was Micky’s first produced screenplay. She had completed several book adaptations, notably Donald Kraybill’s Amish Grace, for which she received a Humanitas Prize nomination. Recently, Micky directed Page’s Great and Grand Escape, a short she wrote that premiered at the Foyle Film Festival. Continue reading

REMEMBRANCE OF THINGS PAST: Beloved Sisters and Predestination


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

 

beloved sistersBeloved Sisters is the story of a sorta, kinda love triangle between the great playwright and poet Friedrich Schiller (one of the dramaturges from whom we get the phrase stϋrm and drang of which there is more than enough of in this period piece, thank you very much) and the two sisters whom he loved, one of whom he married, and both of whom he slept with.
It’s also one of these films in which the only reason the women have for existence is their love and passion for a man and when they can’t get him, they cry, beat their breasts, wail against the injustices of the universe, throw tantrums, have nervous breakdowns and finally have what is known in impolite society as a knockdown, drag out cat fight.
No, I’m not joking, they have a cat fight.
But even that’s not the worst of it.
The worst of it is just how slow, tedious and, well, to be ruthlessly honest, how…boring the whole thing is.
I mean, it may be German, but you ain’t gonna find no blitzkrieg here. Continue reading

STILL ANOTHER, AND HOPEFULLY FINAL, SET OF THOUGHTS ON SELMA AND THE ACADEMY AWARDS


I think this will be my last thoughts on the Oscars this year in regard to the lack of nominations for Selma.  It’s a bit longer than the others, but hopefully I’ve gotten everything out I need to say.
I remember when I first saw For Your Consideration, the latest of Christopher Guest and Eugene Levy’s satires in the vein of Best in Show and A Mighty Wind. For Your Consideration, a story about a group of people involved in an independent film who get the idea they may be headed for Oscar glory, was not, shall we say, the most praised of their series of films.
There were people who found it funny, but for me, all I could think while watching it was that for people who are inside the movie industry, I’m astounded at how little they seemed to know as to how films become front runners or even considered in any way for the Academy. Continue reading