A TALE OF TWO JESSES: American Ultra and The End of the Tour


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Warning: SPOILERS
american ultra 1I’ve always had mixed feelings about the actor Jesse Eisenberg. His stuttering performances, his “gee gosh” can’t look you in the face acting technique, his off beat visage, have actually, if I must be honest, and I guess I must, I must, put me off at the beginning and often quite annoyed me.
And, as I also said to my friends: Aren’t Jesse Eisenberg, Michael Cera and Paul Dano actually the same person? I mean, have you ever seen them in a room together?
As time has gone on, as time is want to do, as we know from Casablanca, and as Eisenberg has made more and more interesting choices in film roles (from The Squid and the Whale to The Social Network to Night Moves to The Double), he’s sort of won me over and I even look forward to his next endeavor.
Well, his next endeavor, nay, endeavors, we now have, and they come in the form of two new films: American Ultra and End of the Tour.
American Ultra is about a slacker, stoner Peter Pan, called Mike, who works at a convenience store in a small town that he can’t seem to leave because he has an agoraphobic reaction whenever he tries. He lives with a long suffering girlfriend Phoebe who he has decided to ask to marry him. But something happens that causes his best laid plans to go awry. Continue reading

My recommendations for movie watching this week in L.A. 5/8/2015-5/15/2015


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 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. Only $2.99. http://ow.ly/xN31r,
 
And check out my script consultation services http://ow.ly/HPxKE
My recommendations for movie watching this week in L.A. 5/8-5/15/2015
winter sleepON NETFLIX: Winter Sleep, by writers Ebru Ceylan and Nuri Bilge Ceylan (who also directed), is about a hotel keeper in Turkey and his difficult relationship with his wife and sister, as well as his own ennui. Inspired by plays and stories of Anton Chekov, it’s leisurely and methodical, but also a fascinating character study about a man at an existential crossroads in life. Continue reading

My recommendations for movie watching this week in L.A. 5/1/2015-5/8/2015


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 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. Only $2.99. http://ow.ly/xN31r,
 
And check out my script consultation services http://ow.ly/HPxKE
My recommendations for movie watching this week in L.A. 5/1-5/8/2015
hot fuzzON NETFLIX: HOT FUZZ, written by the star Simon Pegg and the director Edgar Wright, is a satire of both buddy cop movies and a peculiarly British genre, the dirty dealings going on in a small, sleepy country village. Very funny and often inspired (especially the opening). A fun romp.
shootON HULU: SHOOT THE PIANO PLAYER, written by Marcel Moussy and the director Francois Truffaut (from the novel Down There by David Goodis) is Truffaut’s first feature after his debut The 400 Blows. It’s also his first foray into post noir in this story of a piano player who in a bar who helps his brother who is being pursued by two mobsters. One of Truffaut’s finest films. Continue reading

My recommendations for movie watching this week in L.A. 4/24/2015-5/1/2015


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 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. Only $2.99. http://ow.ly/xN31r,

 

And check out my script consultation services http://ow.ly/HPxKE

 

My recommendations for movie watching this week in L.A. 4/24-5/1/2015
babadookON NETFLIX: The Babadook, Australian writer/director Jennifer Kent’s debut feature, a very scary horror film about a widow and her six year old son and what happens a mysterious book shows up at their house about a monster called The Babadook. Very well directed and truly creepy with a wonderful performance by Essie Davis as the mother.
amarcordON HULU: Amarcord is Frederico Fellini’s tone poem about the year in the life of a young boy and his small town as fascism is arriving.   Semi-autobiographical and without a real plot, it’s a series of scenes, at time very impressionistic, it’s a rapturous movie and one of Fellini’s finest. Continue reading

My recommendations for movie watching this week in L.A. 4/17/2015-4/24/2015


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 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. Only $2.99. http://ow.ly/xN31r,
 
And check out my script consultation services http://ow.ly/HPxKE
My recommendations for movie watching this week in L.A. 4/17-4/24/2015
united 93ON NETFLIX: United 93, my favorite film of 2006. Written and directed by one of the finest filmmakers working today, Paul Greengrass, it’s the story of how the passengers on United Flight 93 tried to stop their hijackers on 9/11. Not an easy movie to sit through due to the intense subject matter, it’s a powerful and emotional film.
earringsON HULU: The Earrings of Madame de, directed by Max Ophuls, is one of the great romantic dramas of all times. When the wife of a general secretly sells a pair of earrings her husband gave her and lies about it, it sets off a series of events that leads to tragedy. Continue reading

WORKING WOMEN: Three films at AFI–Two Days, One Night, The Clouds of Sils Maria and Gett: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem


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
two days oneI have been attending the AFI film festival and have seen three films with female leads and have noticed a major difference between movies from other countries and those made in the U.S. when it comes to how we treat our actresses.
In the U.S., Marion Cottilard is made to play second fiddle to Johnny Depp, Daniel Day Lewis and Leonard DiCaprio, but on her home continent, two of the top European filmmakers actually built a whole movie around her.
In the U.S., Juliet Binoche is relegated to second tier status after a gigantic lizard goes on the rampage and Kristin Stewart is stuck in ridiculous teen angst films and even more ridiculous, over the top Hollywood blockbusters, but in Europe the two are allowed to play opposite each other in roles with depths most American actresses only dream of.
And in the U.S., when it comes to a study of a marriage, we have the misogynistic Gone Girl, with a psychotic wife who will do anything to punish her husband, even set him up for her own murder (while killing herself, no less), while from Israel, we have a film in which a woman desperately tries to get a divorce from a court that is almost determined to keep her in her place and not let her have it.
Prevailing wisdom is that this is one of the weakest years for actresses and the air is filled with panic as voters try to find five females to fill the slots for the Oscar noms for this year.
But prevailing wisdom always seems to leave out the pertinent proviso that this is really only true for the U.S. Continue reading