MOMMIES DEAREST: Mia Madre and The Light Between Oceans


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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-3In many ways, Margherita is having a year of Job.
Her mother is dying and she and her brother spend much of their time with their parent in the hospital. She’s directing a socially conscience film that is not going well; it seems fake and she’s not sure she can make the project work, and small things keep going wrong. She has recently broken up with her latest lover because she can’t leave her work at home. She is having trouble relating to her daughter. And she is having difficulty getting a performance from the American actor flown in for the lead of the film (he has a condition that makes it difficult for him to remember lines, made worse in that they are in Italian).
The film, Mia Madre, is co-written by the director Nanni Moretti (along with Valia Santelli and Francesco Piccolo) and is inspired by the time in his life when his mother was dying while he was filming We Have a Pope. Continue reading

My 2015 Oscar Predictions


BEST PICTURE:                                                                 The Revenant

BEST ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE:                             Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant

BEST ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE:                         Brie Larson, The Room

BEST ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE:                    Sylvester Stallone, Creed

BEST ACTRESS IN A SUPPORRTING ROLE:             Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl

BEST DIRECTING:                                                              The Revenant

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY:                                      The Big Short

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY:                                     Spotlight

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE FILM:                                 Inside Out

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE:                                 Amy

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM:                              Son of Saul

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY:                                            The Revenant

BEST COSTUME DESIGN:                                             Mad Max: Fury Road

BEST FILM EDITING:                                                       Mad Max: Fury Road

BEST MAKE UP AND HAIR STYLING:                          Mad Max: Fury Road

BEST MUSIC ORIGINAL SCORE:                                  The Hateful Eight

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN:                                      Mad Max: Fury Road

BEST SOUND EDITING:                                                 Mad Max: Fury Road

BEST SOUND MIXING:                                                  Mad Max: Fury Road

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS:                                                 Mad Max: Fury Road

BEST ORIGINAL SONG:                                                 Til It Happens to You, The Hunting Ground

BEST SHORT FILM ANIMATED:                                   Sanjay’s Super Team

BEST SHORT FILM LIVE ACTION:                                Ave Maria

BEST SHORT FILM DOCUMENTARY:                          A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness

 

IDENTITY CRISES: The Danish Girl and Creed


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

 

danish 1The Danish Girl, a movie about the first recorded sex change operation, is a drama made with such good taste, Merchant/Ivory would probably have been proud to claim it as one of their own.

Now why anyone would make a movie about the first recorded sex change operation in such good taste that Merchant/Ivory would have been proud to claim it as one of their own, is certainly beyond me.

Actually, why anyone would make a movie about anything with such good taste that Merchant/Ivory would have been proud to claim it as one of their own, is even more also certainly beyond me.

That is, except for Todd Haynes, who is possibly the only filmmaker who can take good taste and raise it up to art.

But here we have screenwriter Lucinda Coxon (from a novel by David Ebershoff) and director Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech, Les Miserables) who don’t do much that is particularly exciting with the subject matter except to make sure it’s dressed up as beautifully as a picture by John Singer Sargent, with gorgeous costumes, marvelous sets and beautiful cinematography. Continue reading

IS IT REAL OR IS IT MEMOREX: Ex Machina and True Story


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
 
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Warning: SPOILERS
ex machinaA critic once said that when you get down to it, there aren’t that many plotlines; after all, Frankenstein and Pygmalion are basically the same story.
This came to mind as I was watching Ex Machina, the new sci-fi drama written and directed by Alex Garland (who also wrote the very involving Never Let Me Go and the highly successful 28 Days Later…). For my money, what he’s done is basically combined both Mary Shelley and George Bernard Shaw’s seminal works into one narrative.
It’s intriguing. But for me, I also found it a bit slow, unfocused at times and, well, to be ruthlessly honest, more than a bit creepy in ways that may not have been intended.
The last is because the more I think about Ex Machina, the more it seems to me that what the movie is about is not what the movie is about. And what the movie is really about made me very uncomfortable. Continue reading

CHARACTER CHIAROSCURO: Little Accidents, Appropriate Behavior and Son of a Gun


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
 
and check out my Script Consultation Services: http://ow.ly/HPxKE
Warning: SPOILERS
Three movies have opened recently that are driven by characters studies, even in the case of the one that is also driven by a prison break and robbery of a gold refinery. It’s not a bad way to start the new year, even if one of them, as far as I’m concerned, doesn’t work on any level.
little accidentsLittle Accidents takes place in a small town that depends on coal mining for its existence. When a cave in leaves a sole survivor, he gets caught between two factions: the miners who want him to blame the company so they can be sued for compensation, and the miners who want him to say it was an accident because if the mine owners are held at fault, the mine will close and there’ll be no more work.
Meanwhile, the teenage son of the mine manager continually bullies the son of a miner who has died. When a fight ensues, the miner’s son accidentally kills the manager’s son and hides the body, causing a city wide search.
Finally, the wife of the manager, upset over the disappearance of her son and her suspicion that her husband was responsible in some way for the cave in, finds her life slipping away from her.
The three characters, Amos, the survivor; Owen, the miner’s son; and Diane, the manager’s wife, slowly find their lives intersecting as they become involved in some way with each other: Amos and Diane have an affair while Owen does yard work for Diane while Diane begins to treat him as a surrogate son and Amos becomes a kind of father figure to Owen.
Little Accidents is written and directed by Sara Colangelo and is one of those small movies that are rich in depth of characterization. The people are leading lives of quiet desperation, but Colangelo shows them such understanding and sympathy that you can’t help but be deeply moved in how they work through the difficulties that have suddenly shown up in their lives. Continue reading