THE FEMALE OF THE SPECIES… Suffragette, Crimson Peak and Assassin


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Warning: SPOILERS

 

suffragetteIn the new historical semi-epic Suffragette, women fight for the right to vote. Not a particularly controversial topic these days, except perhaps in some remote regions of the radical right.
Written by Abi Morgan (The Iron Lady, Shame and the TV series The Hour) and directed by Sarah Gavron (Brick Lane), there’s nothing that wrong with the movie and it does its job admirably enough, and all the while backed by impeccable period settings and costumes ranging from working to the more leisurely classes.
At the same time, there’s nothing that exciting about it either. It’s a movie that does what it does, but that’s about all that it does.
The strongest parts of the film are in the first third which dramatizes in often devastating detail the life of Maud Watts who works in a laundry. Here the women are paid less than the men (and do more work and have longer hours); endure horrifying working conditions; and are the victims of their bosses sexual predilections.
Maud is your everywoman here, great at her job, a loving mother and wife, reluctant to rock the boat, but equipped with a righteous conscious. In other words, everything the central character of a movie should be so as not to alienate the audience.
That’s perhaps a bit unfair because Carey Mulligan, who plays Maud, gives a very empathetic performance and makes her more than a construct.
But the film begins to lose its way in the second third as the suffragette movement starts taking center stage. It’s hard to say exactly why the movie starts flailing a bit here, except that the screenplay, perhaps, can’t seem to make the idea of women’s right to vote as compelling and interesting as their work and sexual exploitation. 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

TOM CRUISE REDUX AND REDUX AND REDUX AND REDUX…: Edge of Tomorrow


Ever wonder what a reader for a contest or agency thinks of 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
edge of tomorrowMuch has been made of the new summer blockbuster Edge of Tomorrow (or as I usually call it, the new Tom Cruise movie, because, damn, if I can ever remember its real name) having a structure based on the Bill Murray comedy Groundhog Day.
But it’s not, really. I mean, yeah, I guess, sort of, because it does have a similar structure. But no, it’s really not. Continue reading