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
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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

NOT QUITE 20/20: Focus, What We Do in the Shadows and All The Wilderness


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
focusFocus, the new film written and directed by Glenn Ficarra and John Requa, comes from a genre with a proud heritage: the rom con game. It’s a genre that was extremely popular in the greatest period in film for romantic comedies, the 30’s, with such movies as Trouble in Paradise and Desire. But it has always had an endearing quality, as in such films as It Takes A Thief, The Pink Panther, The Thomas Crown Affair, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, and more recently, Duplicity.
And this latest entry does have some of the qualities of these other films that ingratiate them so much to us: a cool and suave leading man; even cooler cons; and more than a touch of wit.
In addition, there is one marvelous scene of grifting involving an Asian businessman who loves to gamble and who finds himself going nose to nose with the movie’s hero on a series of more and more outrageous bets. You know what’s coming, though when it does, you’re not sure how it could possibly have been pulled it off. And then when it is explained, you marvel at the audacity and chance taking of it.
But this scene also works for reasons that much of the movie doesn’t. In the end, though there are some nice moments here, Focus never really quite rises to the level of many of these other films. Continue reading