CLAUSTROPHOBIA – Room and The 33


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Warning: SPOILERS

 

room 1Room, the new somewhat minimalist film written by Emma Donoghue (from her own novel) and directed somewhat minimally by Lenny Abrahamson (who also was responsible for cult fave Frank), is, like such movies as Vertigo and Boogie Nights, a before and after film, a movie in which something happens about midway through that divides the story into two neat little parts.

 

For Room, the first half dramatizes the story of a character called Ma and her six year old son, Jack. Seven years earlier, Ma was abducted and kept prisoner in a large garden shed by a bearded man called Old Nick. Jack was born into captivity and, in fact, does not know there is a world outside, having been told by Ma that there’s nothing on the other side of the four walls. Jack is so young, it simply doesn’t occur to him to ask that if that were so, then where does Old Nick come from each night when he visits, and where does he go when he leaves.

 

The second part dramatizes Ma and Jack’s escape (a very taught and edge of your seat set of scenes, even though you do also wonder why someone who is as clever as Old Nick in setting up the shed could also be so stupid) and what happens when Ma and Jack rejoin the outside world. Continue reading

THE GOOD, THE NOT SO BAD AND THE UGLY—THIS YEAR AT AFI: LOVE STORY – Carol and In the Shadow of Women


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

carol 1There’s a scene in Carol, the new film about lesbian lovers in 1950’s America, where one of the two leads, Therese, a clerk at a department store, joins her boyfriend and his pal in the projection booth of a movie theater that is screening the classic (though it was new at the time period of the film’s action) Sunset Boulevard.

The pal, who has seen the movie before, is taking copious notes because, as he says, he wants to record the difference between what the characters are saying and what they are really feeling and thinking (for those in the industry, this is often called subtext).

This is a conversation that I found to be of prime pertinence to the film because, with rare occasions, none of the characters ever, ever says what they really feel or think.

But of course, this is 1950’s America, the Eisenhower era where there was a lot bubbling underneath everyone’s skin, but it had yet to burst through to the surface as it soon will when the social revelation comes in the 1960’s. Continue reading

My recommendations for film watching this week in L.A. 11/27-12/4/15


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. 11/27-12/4/15

station agentON NETFLIX: Since Spotlight has hit the theaters and is the front runner for the Best Picture at the Oscars, perhaps it’s time to visit the first film of writer/director Tom McCarthy The Station Agent. A character study of a small person who likes to walk train tracks (Peter Dinklage); the owner of a food van (Bobby Cannavale); and an artist who is recovering from a tragedy (Patricia Clarkson), who lives all come together in a remote location in New Englan.

killingON HULU: A Short Film about Killing is a full length version of the episodes from the great ten part film The Decalogue (the shorter film is called Thou Shalt Not Kill). Written by Krzysztof Piesiewicz and the director Krzysztof Kieslowski, it’s a bleak and unflinching look at capital punishment that so affected Poland, the government put a five year moratorium on death penalty.

army of shadowsSPECIAL ENGAGEMENT: A restored print of The Army of Shadows will be playing this week at the Laemmle Royale. Adapted from a novel by Joseph Kessel by writer/director Jean-Pierre Melville, it follows a group of resistance fighters during WWII. What makes the film so powerful is the difficult moral questions that the characters must decide on in a distinctly amoral situation. Perhaps Melville’s greatest film, and he did Le Cercle Rouge, Bob la Flambeur and Le Samourai. Not to be missed.

hunger gamesFIRST RUN and OPENING: Creed, The Good Dinosaur, The Danish Girl, Mustang, The Wonders, Brooklyn, Carol, James White, Legend, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay-Part 2, Room, Spotlight, Trumbo Continue reading

LOSING OUR RELIGION: Spotlight


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

 

spotlight 1I am the first to admit that the Oscars are rarely given to the finest in the art of film, but much more likely to the loftiest of middlebrow entertainment (with some edginess thrown in on occasion for good measure).
At the same time, I think we do have one thing to be grateful for when it comes to the Academy. Since the balloting closes the first of the year, more and more, fall and early winter leaves behind the cheek of tan, tent pole blockbusters of summer (films forced into as many of the four quadrants as it may fit) and gives way to producers who, like the changing colors of leaves, turn to releasing their prestige pictures, the ones they believe have the best chance at garnering the attention of the gold statuette who hides his genitals with a sword.
These films are the ones that producers and studio executives feel they don’t have to apologize or make excuses for and instead can brag that they actually had a hand in their making.
One of these films, Spotlight (or All the Cardinal’s Men as a friend of mine called it) is now being spoken of as the one to beat come spring. And, taking everything into consideration, they could certainly do far worse, because, however else you may feel about it, Spotlight is the epitome of middlebrow taste, and, even better, is crackerjack entertainment. Continue reading

THE GOOD, THE NOT SO BAD AND THE UGLY: AFI Films, Part I-The Clan, Mustang and Son of Saul


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

 

saul twoAs regular as Thanksgiving, the AFI Film Festival has come and gone. And as regular as Thanksgiving, I over gorged myself.
This year I actually did rather well. Out of the thirteen, count ‘em, thirteen movies I saw, six I would highly recommend, five I felt were okay, and two I thought to be absolutely abysmal
Three of the films are currently a country’s entry in the Foreign Language Film Category for the Academy Awards: The Clan from Argentina; Mustang from France; and Son of Saul from Hungary.
The Clan is a crime film with slight, and in my opinion, not enough, overtones of a political drama.
Based on a true story, written by Julian Loyola, Esteban Student and the director Pablo Trapero (he also directed Caroncho, which was Argentine’s 2011 entry for the Oscars), the film tells the story of the Puccio family. The pater familias, Arquimedes, once worked for the secret police, the ones responsible for making the word “disappeared” into a noun by adding a “the” to the front of it. Continue reading

My recommendations for film watching this week in L.A. 11/20-11/27/15


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. 11/20-27/15
piegeonON NETFLIX: A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence is basically Kaurismaki meets Monty Python. Written and directed by Roy Andersson, the movie is basically a series of skits with deadpan actors in often absurd situations. It’s Norwegian, but is Sweden’s entry in the Foreign Language Film Category for the Academy Awards.
american grafittiON HULU: Written by Gloria Katz, Willard Huyck and director George Lucas, American Graffiti was just about an instant classic the way it effected the audience at the time with its knowing nostalgia even though it took place in the year of its release. It follows a group of high school teens as they take one last cruise down their small town memory lane as they make decisions about their future as summer ends.
army of shadowsSPECIAL ENGAGEMENT: A restored print of The Army of Shadows will be playing this week. Adapted from a novel by Joseph Kessel by writer/director Jean-Pierre Melville, it follows a group of resistance fighters during WWII. What makes the film so powerful is the difficult moral questions that the characters must decide on in a distinctly amoral situation. Perhaps Melville’s greatest film and he did Le Cercle Rouge, Bob la Flambeur and Le Samourai. Not to be missed.
carolFIRST RUN and OPENING: The Night Before, Brooklyn, Carol, James White, Legend, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay-Part 2, Meditterenea, Room, Spotlight, Trumbo Continue reading

DADDY ALWAYS LIKED YOU BEST: Spectre


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
spectre 4In the most recent 007 thriller Skyfall, James Bond was beset by mommy issues as a metaphoric brother played by Javier Bardem tried to destroy M, his metaphoric mother, because she always loved Bond best.
Now in Spectre, the new 007 thriller, Bond is beset by daddy issues. You see, Bond’s father died in a skiing accident. His “adoptive father” and “brother” died two years later in an avalanche (lesson here? don’t go to a winter resort with 007). And his present day metaphoric father, the new M, has to disown him at one point.
However, Blofied, Bond’s new enemy, who is actually his old enemy (but you’ll need to see the movie for that), is actually that “brother” who isn’t actually dead, and who killed his own father and is now trying to take over the world because, well, daddy always liked Bond best.
Somehow it’s funnier when the Smothers Brothers perform this routine.
Spectre is not the worst of the Daniel Craig Bond films. For those keeping score, it’s better than Quantum of Solace, but not nearly as good as Skyfall. Continue reading