CRIME DOES PAY: Logan Lucky and The Nile Hilton Incident


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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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Warning: SPOILERS
Everyone in the US seems to agree that the working class is under siege. And it’s still unclear whether there is any real relief in sight.
I’m not sure whether this is the reason filmmakers have been creating stories that focus on the more downtrodden in our society (zeitgeists are almost impossible to recognize until we are out of them), but last year we had Hell or High Water, and more recently we’ve had Patti Cake$, Beach Rats and the topic of this review, Logan Lucky.
All the films have fallen into various genres and niches. Hell or High Water is a modern western/crime film; Patti Cake$ is a musical; Beach Rats is a coming out story; and Logan Lucky is a heist film. Continue reading

IF ONLY: Silence


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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-1Silence, the new film written by Jay Cocks and Martin Scorsese, who also directed, is adapted from a 1966 Japanese novel by Shusako Endo. The basic premise revolves around two Portuguese priests, Fathers Rodrigues and Garrpe, who go to Japan to find out whether an earlier missionary, Father Ferreira, had buckled under the persecution of the government there, a government that had outlawed Christianity, and renounced his faith.
When the two fathers reach Japan, they see a cruel world in which the slightest hint of Christianity leads to savage torture. They do what they can for the underground faith while searching for Ferreira, but are eventually caught and tortured themselves.
I have to be honest. I don’t really know how I’m supposed to react to what I see on the screen. Scorsese is definitely sincere in trying to explore the meaning of faith. But for me, I think this is quite possibly the worst film made in some time by a great filmmaker. Continue reading

THE WORKING CLASS GOES TO HEAVEN: I, Daniel Blake, Paterson and Neruda


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First, a word from our sponsors: I wanted to say thank you to everyone who contributed to our Indiegogo campaign for 15 Conversations in 10 Minutes. We did very well due to you folks. For those who weren’t able to give, keep us in your thoughts. And if you are able to contribute in the future, contact me and I’ll tell you how. I will even honor the perks on the original campaign.
I am now offering a new consultation 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?  FosCheck 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-3Critics, at least those in the U.S., have at times complained about the dearth of movies that focus on the life of ordinary, often blue collar, workers. It’s not that it never happens. We’ve had our On the Waterfronts and Blue Collars.
But still, it feels that the lunchbox is more than a bit bare.
Great Britain has fared better, especially since the emergence of the angry young man stories and kitchen sink dramas in the 1950’s and ‘60’s.
British director Ken Loach has even made it his focus to create films about those on the lower rungs of society, especially their struggles to get by. He might even be called the cinematic poet of the working class. Continue reading

NEW FILMMAKERS SEE THIS FILM: Midnight Special


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 2Midnight Special, the new neo-noir/sci-fi film, opens at night with a throbbing music score backed by hypnotic drums.  It grabs you by your neck and just won’t let go for the next ninety minutes.  At first, the story seems to be about the abduction of a little boy, but it soon becomes clear that it’s much more complicated than that.  The boy was adopted by the leader of a religious cult that makes its base in a private compound in Texas and the ones who have taken the boy from them is the boy’s biological father and the father’s closest friend.
So what is really going on and why do so many people treat this child as if the future of the human race depended on him?  And why are the FBI after him as well?
Midnight Special is the sort of film every aspiring screenwriter, director and producer should be seeing, but I often suspect aren’t.  It should be studied and emulated. That is, if you really want a future in the industry, whether your goal is the tent pole films of a major studio, or the more personal films that one sees on the independent circuit. Continue reading

PASSING THE LIGHTSABER: Star Wars: The Force Awakens


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

 

 

sw 3The new Star Wars film (Star Wars: the Force Awakens to be exact) has a simple theme: the only thing that can stop a bad guy with the force is a good guy with the force.

All in all, I would have to say that this new entry in the franchise is both better than the original Star Wars and not as good as the original Star Wars.

It’s better acted than what is now known as A New Hope; the dialog is a bit more pithy and witty; the characters are somewhat less one-dimensional; and the special effects less cheesy.

But there’s one thing the original space opera had that the new one doesn’t, can’t and will never have. Continue reading

GROWING UP IS HARD TO DO: While We’re Young and Cupcakes


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Warning: SPOILERS
while were youngThere is much to like in writer/ director Noah Baumbach’s musing on growing older, though not necessarily wiser, in his new film While We’re Young.
It’s almost never less than entertaining. And it’s a technically solid piece of work. Baumbach, as a director, feels fully in control of the how the movie looks. As a writer, the characters are often very well drawn and the dialog has a nice rhythmic feel to it, a sort of stylized realism of people from an intellectual background.
At the same time, I’m not sure the movie really comes together as a whole in a fully satisfactory manner. For me, the story itself seemed to flounder at times as it was trying to figure out just what is was supposed to be about.
Overall, my feelings were often those of puzzlement. Is While We’re Young a modern day version of All About Eve that constantly gets off subject, or is it a generation gap morality tale that Baumbach had difficulty finding a strong structure for and sorta, kinda tried to fit it into that of the great film by Joseph L. Mankiewicz? Continue reading

DADDY’S DEAD, YOU KNOW…AND WON’T LET US FORGET IT: This Is Where I Leave You, My Old Lady and The Skeleton Twins


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
this-is-where-i-leave-youGosh darn, daddies seem to be dropping like flies this month. Three movies have opened lately in which the pater familias is no longer in the picture. Not only that, it’s these fathers that often seem to be getting the brunt of the blame for the way their kids have turned out.
I guess it’s kind of convenient for all the characters involved, then, that the man from whose loins they were loosed is no longer around to defend himself.
But, you know, whatever, I guess. At any rate, he’s dead, dead, dead. And just won’t let us forget it.

Continue reading