My recommendations for film watching this week in L.A. 4/1-4/8/16


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. 
 
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My recommendations for movie watching this week in L.A. 4/1-4/8/16
ff 1ON NETFLIX:  Anchors Aweigh is the movie in which Gene Kelly dances with Jerry, the mouse (it was supposed to be Mickey Mouse, but Disney wouldn’t agree to it).  It’s also the one where Frank Sinatra learned to hoof.  This musical about two sailors on leave, written by Isobel Lennart (who also wrote or worked on such films as Love Me or Leave Me, The Sundowners and Funny Girl) and directed by George Sidney, is a great example of the golden era of Hollywood musicals.  Also with Kathryn Grayson, Dean Stockwell (his screen debut), Grady Sutton and Jose Iturbi (as himself).  Kelly was the choreographer.
ff 2ON HULU:   Séance on a Wet Afternoon is about a psychic who has her husband abduct a child so the psychic can “use” her powers to find her and achieve notice.  A solid and tense little neo-noir from England, written and directed by Bryan Forbes who started out doing some minor classics (Whistle Down the Wind, The L-Shaped Room, King Rat, The Wrong Box, The Whisperers) who eventually ended up doing more mediocre mainstream films later in this career (The Slipper and The Rose, The Stepford Wives). With Richard Attenborough and Kim Stanley (who got an Oscar nomination for her performance).  In an earlier version of the story, both the leads were gay; the movie was offered to Alec Guinness and Tom Courtenay, both of whom turned it down.
ff 3FIRST RUN and OPENING: April and the Extraordinary World, Everybody Wants Some, Krisha, The Dark Horse, Standing Tall Continue reading

TONE DEAF: Marguerite and Hello, My Name is Doris


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
rev 1When Tommy Wiseau released his film The Room, it was so awful that it inadvertently became a cult hit, especially on the late night circuit.  But people often wondered whether the filmmaker knew just how execrable his movie really was.
I thought of that as I watched Marguerite, the new French film from writers Xavier Giannoli (who also directed) and Marcia Romano.  It’s a story about a patroness of the arts who gave recitals in her home to raise money for various charities.  When all the other performers had rendered their absolutely ravishing arias and duets, Marguerite would then conclude the evening by singing herself.  And out of her well meaning mouth came notes so awful, it made fingernails on a blackboard sound like one of Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto.
But did she know?  Continue reading

My recommendations for film watching this week in L.A. 3/24-4/2/16


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. 3/24-4/2/16
ff 1ON NETFLIX:  In writer/director Jason Krawczyk’s film He Never Died, Henry Rollins plays an immortal angel stuck on earth for, well, eternity.  It’s not as great a life as it may sound.  And then his daughter shows up on his doorstep and all hell (literally) breaks lose.  One of the best independents of last year.
ff 2ON HULU:   That Man From Rio is a delightful tongue in cheek action film.  Written by Jean-Paul Rappeneau, Ariane Mnouchkine, Daniel Bollenger and the director Philippe de Broca, the movie is, like Charade, one of the best Alfred Hitchcock films that Hitchcock didn’t make.  And with an Indiana Jones type ending.  Jean Paul Belmondo gets a week’s leave from the army, and ends up chasing his girlfriend, Francois Dorleac (Catherine Deneuve’s older sister who died tragically young) across Paris and all the way to Brazil due to three statues taken from the indigenous Brazilians that may or may not lead to a treasure.
ff 3FIRST RUN and OPENING: Batman v. Superman: The Dawn of Justice, Midnight Special, Lolo, Too Late, Mountains May Depart, Valley of Love, Remember, Take Me To The River, Born to Be Blue, My Golden Days Continue reading

SOUL SEARCHING: Knight of Cups and Confirmation


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 1 Knight of Cups, the new film from art house fave writer/director Terence Malick, begins with some excerpts from John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress, spoken, I believe, in the dulcet tones of Sir John Gielgud.  The Pilgrim’s Progress is an allegory about a man who is weighed down by his sin and must seek a path to righteousness, but he finds many dangers, toils and snares along the way. 
I suppose the allegory in that classic is supposed to also be an allegory for Rick, the central character in Malick’s drama, and his journey.  Rick is a screenwriter who basically just drifts from place to place, observing the world he encounters while avoiding screenwriting as much as possible.  It’s sort of like a movie by Federico Fellini, 8 ½ or La Dolce Vita, character studies of a men who are spiritually lost or have writer’s block, set against dwarfing architecture and a somewhat impressionistic view of the local’s lives.
I have to say I liked Knight of Cups, though I also have to say I’m surprised that I did.  In Malick’s last film To The Wonder, the filmmaker told an almost impossible to understand story, made almost impossible to understand because it was not told in chronological order.  And since you were spending so much time just trying to understand what was going on, it was difficult to become emotionally involved in the movie.  And it didn’t help that when you did figure it out, it was a pretty bland and banal story line.

Continue reading

IT’S A DISASTER: 10 Cloverfield Lane and The Wave


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 110 Cloverfield Lane is a somewhat awkward mating of two genres: the women in danger film (aka, a female thriller) and an alien invasion film.
What’s so surprising is that despite the clunkiness of said mating, the movie is very enjoyable and more or less works on its own terms.
The basic premise here revolves around a young woman who leaves her boyfriend for reasons unknown and on her way to wherever it is she is going, if she’s actually going somewhere, her car is broadsided and goes over the side of the road. She loses consciousness only to wake up in an underground bunker replete with a conspiracy theorist who claims that America has been attacked and they may be the only survivors.
Is he crazy? Is he telling the truth? Or is he both? Continue reading

My recommendations for film watching this week in L.A. 3/18-3/25/16


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. 3/18-25/16
ff 1ON NETFLIX: Galaxy Quest, written by David Howard and Robert Gordon, directed by Dean Parison, was an unexpected delight when it came out. A group of actors from a popular, though long cancelled, sci-fi television series find out that aliens have mistaken the series for reality and abduct the actors for help in defeating their cruel foes. A first rate cast including Tim Allen, Sigourney Weaver, Alan Rickman, Tony Shaloub and Sam Rockwell, among others, make this movie one hysterical satire.
ff 2ON HULU: With screenplay by Viktor Rozov and direction by Mikhail Kalatosov, The Cranes Are Flying is one of Russia’s greatest film. Set during World War II, it follows the lives of two young people, very much in love, as their lives are torn apart by Germany’s invasion. The movie wears its emotions on its sleeve, but it’s a very moving and powerful film. Winner of the Palme d’Or at the 1958 Cannes Film Festival.
ff 3FIRST RUN and OPENING: Marguerite, The Clan, A.K., Too Late, Krisha, Hello My Name is Doris, City of Gold, 10 Cloverfield Lane, Eye in the Sky, The Boy and the Beast, Backgammon, The Wave, Knight of Cups, Zootopia Continue reading

ANIMAL CRACKERS: Zootopia


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
reev 2I’m not sure there’s a lot more to say about the new animated film Zootopia that hasn’t been said already. It opened to a very favorable critical response (99 % on rottentomatoes.com) and a nothing to be sneezed at box office.
And I can’t argue with much that has already been said. Zootopia is, indeed, a clever, smart, feel good in a good way film and a fun time in the theater (with the best jokes centering around sloths, lemmings and how soft a sheep’s hair feels). Bored you will not be.
The only thing I can’t say is that it’s very cute. Only the central character, a rabbit, can say that, and you’ll only know why if you go see the film.
The basic story posits a world where carnivores are no longer, well, carnivorous, which enables them to live side by side in peace and brotherhood in an attempt at a kind of utopian society that centers around the capital city, Zootopia, which looks like a mixture of the Emerald City and Panem. Continue reading