OEDIPUS WRECKS or DADDY DEAREST: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2


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Warning: SPOILERS
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is superior to the fun and frolicsome first entry in the franchise if, for no other reason, than the casting of Kurt Russell, former Disney waif turned cult actor, who has managed, somehow, to bridge the cinematic generation gap (previously by appearing in Furious 7, now by becoming a Marvel supervillain) and, like Donald Sutherland in The Hunger Games, become relevant again.
And Quentin Tarantino certainly hasn’t hurt his career any.
And it’s also interesting that it is happening just as his significant other seems to be doing the same by co-starring in the more successful than expected Amy Schumacher vehicle, Snatched.
I’m always ready to spread out the welcome mat for Russell and here he seems to be having the time of his life playing a maniacal psychopath with a God complex (appropriately named Ego no less) and the powers to back it up. Continue reading

HEAD CASES: Joy and Concussion


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
joy 1 The movie Joy, the new sorta, kinda, maybe bio-pic of Joy Magano, inventor of the Miracle Mop, starts out with text on the screen: “Inspired by the true stories of daring women. One in particular”.
I don’t know. Somehow on seeing those words up there in front of me, there was something so…condescending and patronizing about it all. It’s as if the filmmakers David O. Russell (who wrote the screenplay and directed) and Annie Mumolo (who worked on Bridesmaids and gets co-story credit here) were doing women a favor by making the movie at all and that somehow women should be thankful that someone actually created a film that instructs them how they should be leading their lives, since, being women, apparently, they don’t really know how to be daring and independent themselves.  
I’m sure I’m overreacting and I’m sure few others felt the same way, but there was just something about it that left a bad taste in my mouth.
Once this intro was over, we then spend the first third of the movie with Joy being victimized by her family (both extended and not) as it falls to her to take care of everyone else’s problems while she puts hers on hold. Continue reading

Is There Balm in Gilead: Aloha and Love & Mercy


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Warning: SPOILERS
alohaI’m not sure that I can really add to the general response to the movie Aloha (it’s 20% at rottentomatoes.com and I don’t think the box office is of the more optimistic size), but far be it from me not to join in and kick a man while he’s down.
About three quarters of the way through the new rom com written and directed by Cameron Crowe (who also gave us the very good Almost Famous, Say Anything and Singles, but not much else since except for, well, Jerry “Show me the money” McGuire, but, no, I’ll stick with not much else since, thanks), I turned to my friend Jim and said, “I’m sorry, but I have to be honest: I have no idea what’s going on here”.
Jim laughed and sighed in relief because he had no more of a clue than I did.
The plot eventually does make sense; well, within the context of a not particularly well written movie it makes sense, but overall, as a piece of writing, it really makes little sense at all. Continue reading

MAN AT WAR or THE CERTAINTY PRINCIPLE: American Sniper


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Warning: SPOILERS
american sniperEvery war has its heroes who are used to symbolize the conflict and try and bring it meaning in some way.
The Great War had Sgt. Alvin C. York who led a raid on a German machine gun nest, killing 28 soldiers and taking captive more than 100 others.
His story was turned into a movie starring Gary Cooper that was used to support American’s entry in World War II (it was playing in the theaters as Pearl Harbor was being bombed).
The Second World War had Audie Murphy, who became a hero after holding off a company of German soldiers and then leading a counterattack, all the while wounded and out of ammunition.
Murphy became a movie star after the conflict was over, starring in such films as The Red Badge of Courage and The Quiet American, as well as a series of B westerns. He also played himself in the film To Hell and Back.
In the Viet Nam war we had Ron Kovic, memorialized in the book and movie Born on the Fourth of July, and played by Tom Cruise in the film. Continue reading

WILD JACKS, DRAMA QUEENS and KING OF KINGS: Guardians of the Galaxy, The Dog and Calvary


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

Warning: SPOILERS
guardians-of-the-galaxy-hed-2014Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them
               Malvolio in Twelfth Night, William Shakespeare
Well, I’m not sure I want to go over to actor Chris Pratt’s house for the holidays. After starring in both Guardians of the Galaxy and The Lego Movie, I strongly suspect there’s going to be no living with him.
Guardians of the Galaxy is the latest in the summer blockbusters the studios tend to set upon us now that it is, well…summer, I guess. The main difference is that GOT Galaxy (as I call it, or just started calling it cause it sounds kind of neat) has it’s tongue far more firmly planted in its cheek than in most summer blockbusters—and that’s saying a lot if you take Iron Man into consideration.
How good is it? Well, on a scale of one to ten, it’s not as good as The Lego Movie or X-Men: Days of Future Past, but it’s better than Edge of Tomorrow (or Live Die Repeat as the Cruise control movie seems to be called now that it’s being released on home video). Continue reading