My recommendations for film watching this week in L.A. 12/11-12/18/15


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My recommendations for movie watching this week in L.A. 12/11-18/15

beasts ON NETFLIX: Written and directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga (based on a novel by Uzodinma Iweala), Beasts of No Nation is not an easy movie to always sit through. The plot revolves around Agu, a pre-teen who, during a civil war, is abducted by some guerillas and forced/manipulated into becoming a warrior for their side. The ending is possibly a bit too hopeful for the subject matter; it’s unclear that the story has really earned it. But it’s a very well done, well written and powerful story about the situation in some unstable countries in Africa.

blind chance_kieslowski (31)ON HULU: Blind Chance is one of writer/ director Krzysztof Kieslowski’s finest films, as well as one of his most influential. A young man drops out of medical school and runs to catch a train. His story is played out three ways: if he makes the train; if he doesn’t make the train with no repercussions; if he doesn’t make the train and gets in trouble with the authorities. A haunting, beautiful film with one of the most shocking endings in film.

bit shortFIRST RUN and OPENING: The Big Short, Bleeding Heart, Boy and the World, Christmas Again, In Jackson Heights, Ingrid Bergman in Her Own Words, Chi-Raq, Janis: Little Girl Blues, Theeb, Hitchcock/Truffaut, Youth, Creed, Brooklyn, Carol Continue reading

ONE SIZE DOES NOT FIT ALL: Variations on structural engineering when it comes to screenplays PART ONE


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

 

holy-motors_2352787bPART ONE
I have been reading for screenplay competitions for more than ten years now. But over the past few years, I’ve been coming across a somewhat familiar familiarity and formulaic formality to more and more of said screenplays when it comes to how a story is written.
I’m not sure why. When I first started out reading, and for quite a few years after that, I would encounter some of the most amazing screenplays, screenplays that took chances, strived to be original, had a personal vision, and experimented, with glorious success, when it came to storytelling.
Much of this quite possibly was due to the rise of indie film in the 1990’s by people like Steven Soderbergh, Kevin Smith, the Coen Brothers and Quentin Tarantino. The cinema they created brought a breath of fresh air to the somewhat stale movie going experience that many felt was being produced at the time.
I’m not sure why things have changed since them. Or at least, there’s probably not any one reason for it. But at the same time, in talking to screenwriters and producers and agents and reading what they have to say on social media, I feel that a much bigger deal has been made over the past few years as to how a screenplay has to be structured and a story has to be told. Continue reading