OUT OF GAS: The Lady in the Van and Aferim!


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Warning: SPOILERS

rev 1 Forgive me if I start out with a pun to describe the new comedy The Lady in the Van. It’s basically little more than a vehicle for the legendary actress Maggie Smith. To add insult to injury, I’ll continue with another pun: it’s a pretty stalled vehicle when all is said and done.

The cental premise is based on something that sorta, kinda happened to the British playwright Alan Bennett (The History Boys, The Madness of King George). After striking up a conversation with the neighborhood bag lady who lives in her van, and after not being able to shake her off, the playwright acquiesces to her suggestion that she park her vehicle in his driveway. He agrees, more out of an inability (or cowardice as he describes it) to say no. It’s only supposed to be for a little while, but she stays there until she dies fifteen years later.

Even though this is a vehicle for Maggie Smith, she is only fitfully effective, and I think that this may be because her character is more a construct than a real person. I mean, Bennett’s bag lady here is not your run of the mill everyday type of bag lady. No, here she is a former concert pianist and ex-nun who has gone into hiding because she thinks she is responsible for the death of a motorcyclist (she’s not) and who is being blackmailed by a police officer. Continue reading

My recommendations for film watching this week in L.A. 1/22-1/29/16


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. 1/22-29/2016
ff lost soulsON NETFLIX: Lost Souls: The Doomed Journey of Richard Stanley’s Island of Dr. Moreau is a fascinating, but rather depressing, story about how a promising up and coming director, Richard Stanley (who had a cult following for his low budget horror films) found himself in over his head with his adaptation of H.G. Wells The Island of Dr. Moreau and was so embittered by the experience he almost completely withdrew from filmmaking. Filled with talking heads and behind the scenes footage, we see step by step how things quickly went wrong.
ff man bites dogON HULU: With three directors and four writers, Man Bites Dog is one of the funniest and darkest satires on found footage films (as well as one of the earliest). A film crew follows a serial killer as he adds to his victims. It’s a ridiculous premise, but it still works in all its vicious absurdity. Starring Benoit Poelvoorde as the racist murderer who loves to wax philosophic.
ff aferimFIRST RUN and OPENING: Aferim!, The Lady in the Van, Son of Saul, The Revenant, The Hateful Eight, Star Wars: the Force Awakens Continue reading