My recommendations for film watching this week in L.A. 10/9-10/16/2015


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,
 
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My recommendations for movie watching this week in L.A. 10/9-16/2015
lauraON NETFLIX: Laura, the classic film noir based on the book by Vera Caspary and directed by Otto Preminger, is one of the most enjoyable thrillers from that period. A woman is murdered and the detective involved falls in love with her through her portrait and her history as told to him by a vicious gossip columnist who was her mentor and who loved her as well. Though Gene Tierney as the title character and Dana Andrews as the investigating officer can’t quite make the romance convincing (they were never the greatest of actors), the supporting cast, Clifton Webb (nominated for an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor) as the Wenchell like columnist; Vincent Price (in what I think is his best performance) as a gigolo; and Judith Anderson as a wealthy matron more than willing to pay for his services, make the movie as a triumvirate of some of the nastiest characters in film. And the screenplay gives them the wit to do it.
life of crimeON HULU: Based on a book by Elmore Leonard, Life of Crime is a fun, if perhaps minor, comic thriller about a kidnapping that doesn’t go according to plan. Written and directed by Daniel Schechter, it stars John Hawkes as the head of the gang; Jennifer Anniston as the one abducted; and Tim Robbins as the husband who doesn’t care if he gets his wife back or not.
final girlsFIRST RUN and OPENING: The Final Girls, Taxi Tehran, Victoria, The Martian, Labyrinth of Lies, Pawn Sacrifice Continue reading

HUMANITY AT ITS BEST AND WORST: Sicario and The Martian


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
sicarioSicario, the new thriller about the drug war written by Taylor Sheridan (a first film) and directed by French Canadian flavor of the month Denis Villeneuve (Incendies, Prisoner, Enemies), is, in many ways, two movies for the price of one.
The first is an action/adventure film full of car chases and gun battles and plot twists (many of which, if truth be told, I found just a tad tenuous at best) of the action/adventure variety.
The second is a treatise on the drug war.
The first film is often quite successful and impressive. The second is, at least from my perspective, quite shallow and unconvincing.
This means that for much of the time, Sicario is definitely and highly entertaining. Sheridan and Villeneuve, along with the incredibly soaring cinematography of Roger Deakins (one of our finest today), the film editing of Joe Walker, and the heart throbbing music of Johan Johannson, have crafted an edge of your seat story that never really stops and never really lets you stop watching. Continue reading

THE GAMES PEOPLE PLAY: Pawn Sacrifice and The New Girl Friend


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
pawn sacrifice oneI do remember, somewhat vaguely it must be admitted, when the notorious and neurotic (to be polite) Bobby Fischer played Russian behemoth Boris Spassky for the world Grand Master of Chess back in 1972.
The portrait that was being painted of Fischer by many in the media at the time was of someone who was acting outrageously, unreasonably and very, very strangely in order to out-psyche his blindsided opponent. In other words, everyone thought there was a method to Fischer’s madness.
But writer Steven Knight and director Edward Zwick, in their version of the match in their new film Pawn Sacrifice, take a different approach. In their perspective, Fischer came by his outrageousness honestly. According to Knight and Zwick, Fischer’s actions were the result of some pretty serious mental issues rather than fully conscious choices.
In other words, while everyone, including Spassky, thought that Fischer was playing Hamlet, in reality, he’s the guy in the hospital who thinks he really is Hamlet.
And they make a pretty good case for it. Continue reading

My recommendations for film watching this week in L.A. 10/2-10/9/2015
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. 10/2-10/9/2015
man on wireON NETFLIX: With the opening of the movie The Walk, starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Philippe Petit, perhaps it’s time to revisit the documentary about the original incident: Man on Wire. In 1974, a daring French tightrope walker illegally strung a wire across the Twin Tower of the New York’s World Trade Center and made it across to become a world hero. The winner of the 2009 Oscar for Best Documentary, it’s an exciting and breathtaking movie.
modern timesON HULU: Made after silent films were a thing of the past, Charlie Chaplin’s Modern Times is not a sound film, but it’s not a silent one either (he uses titles for dialog and to keep the action going, but he has recorded sound effects and there is one spoken line), this comedy about the exploitation of workers was released in 1936, five years after his previous film, City Lights. It was a huge hit and helped make a star of Paulette Goddard who plays the female lead. As usually for Chaplin, it is hysterical, sentimental and brilliant.
martianFIRST RUN and OPENING: The Walk, Freeheld, The Martian, Mississippi Grind, Labyrinth of Lies, Sicario, 99 Homes, Pawn Sacrifice, A Brilliant Young Mind, Coming Home

Continue reading