REEL MOTHERS: I, Tonya, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri


First, a word from our sponsors: 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
I, Tonya, the new film from writer Steven Rogers and director Craig Gillespie, is a fictional account of the ice skating scandal where the husband of skater Tonya Harding, along with her bodyguard, conspired to break the leg of Tonya’s main rival, Nancy Kerrigan.
No matter what else it may be, I, Tonya is very successful and could easily be a real crowd pleaser. Structurally, it’s a forthright dramatization of the events punctuated with talking head interviews of the characters looking back on events. It’s often extremely funny and at times manages to show some empathy for the title character.
Though it is effective, it also at times feels a bit condescending and exploitive, as if the filmmakers were treating this as an elongated Jerry Springer show. So the laughs are sometimes a bit cruel and at the expense of the real life counterparts. Continue reading

Les Girls: The Girl on the Train, Sand Storm, American Honey and Under the Shadow


For questions: hcasner@aol.com
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-1A few films have opened of late with the deadlier of the species front and center.
The one with the most hullabaloo (that’s 1960’s speak for buzz) is The Girl on the Train, based on a best seller by Paula Hawkins that falls into the subgenre of girl novels (as in Gone…, …in the Dark, and …with the Dragon Tattoo).
In this story, an alcoholic takes the same train to and from New York every day. She is especially obsessed with two houses she passes each time, one where her ex-husband lives with his new wife and child (and the alcoholic used to live), and one with a couple she’s created a fantasy world about in which they live a fairy tale existence. When the one from the fairy tale home turns up missing (which is sort of oxymoronic), she tries to figure out what happened, even though there’s a possibility she is the cause of it since she often has drinking black outs and can’t remember everything she did.
Though the story revolves around a group of women and their attempt to take control of their lives, with sisterhood coming firmly in first place, the attitude of the film towards women feels a bit retro with the same old tired tropes: woman are emotionally fragile beings who can easily be manipulated by men because, well, that’s just the way women are, poor creatures, as well as their lives being defined by motherhood (who can’t get pregnant, who can, and who is).
We’ve come a long way baby from I am woman, hear me roar. Continue reading

THERE ARE NO SMALL PARTS: Magic Mike XXL and Minions


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
minions 2It’s not that common, but it’s also not completely unusual, for a supporting or minor character from a movie to be given a film of their own. This is more likely to happen in TV with spinoffs of popular TV series (Frazier, anyone?), but it does happen in tinsel town as well.
In Dead End, the Dead End Kids got their own franchise and when they grew up, they become The Bowery Boys. In The Egg and I, two of the minor characters, Ma and Pa Kettle, got their own series as well.
And in The White Sheik, Cabiria, a prostitute, via Federico Fellini, got her own vehicle in Nights of Cabiria; Ensign Pulver became the title character in the sequel to Mister Roberts (well, to be fair, Roberts was no longer around); and Ingmar Bergman’s From the Life of the Marionettes brings front and center the bickering couple who appear in the first episode of Scenes from a Marriage.
So in the past couple of weeks we’ve seen two more examples of the selfsame approach, though with a different emphasis in each outing and with much different results. Continue reading

BIG: Spy and Jurassic World


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
spyAre you having a bad day? Things not going well? Are you a bit down in the dumps?
Well, if you want to feel a bit better about yourself and life in general, I can hardly recommend a more effective drop of medicine than Spy, the new espionage comedy starring Melissa McCarthy as Susan Cooper, the unprepossessing agent’s assistant with the unprepossessing name who turns into one bad un-unprepossessing ass of a Jane Bond.
What can I say? I came out of the movie theater feeling wonderful, simply wonderful, ready to take on the vicissitudes of life and the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune once again.
Now, I do have to be honest. Based on remarks I’ve seen on facebook, how you react to the movie will probably depend on how you feel about Ms. McCarthy. If you don’t like her particular brand of comedy persona, the movie may affect you more like a fallen soufflé.
I happen to think she’s an exploding nova of a comic talent. Continue reading

@#%!!&#: Bad Words and On My Way


BW1312.CR2It’s easy to see why Jason Bateman wanted to make Bad Words, the new Bad Santa clone written by new comer Andrew Dodge and directed by and starring Mssr. Bateman. It’s a solid vehicle to show off his middle brow, laid back talents and he certainly makes the most of it. He wears the role like a comfy old sweater owned since college that you just can’t bring yourself to get rid of, complete with impeccable comic timing.
It’s also a very entertaining movie. It’s witty and clever and never boring. It’s often a ton of fun. It’s very well crafted.
In fact, it’s so well made that it’s quite easy to overlook the fact that it’s really quite a terrible, terrible film. Continue reading