EXUENT PURSUED BY A BEAR: The Revenant and Anomalisa


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
revenant 3The Revenant is, perhaps, one of the most visceral movies you will see in some time. Everybody involved, from the technicians to the designers to the screenwriters (Mark L. Smith and Alejandro Gonzales Inarritu from a novel by Michael Punka), to the director (Inarritu) seemed to have gone out of their way to give the movie a feeling of verisimilitude that can be matched by few films.
The dirty bodies and clothes and rotting teeth (you can almost smell the bad breath); the zip of an arrow through a man’s throat; the blood flowing from wounds made by knifes, bullets and hatchets; and the never ending harsh environment of snow and icy rivers (I almost caught the flu) are all paraded proudly for public consumption.
This is probably best demonstrated with what may now be the infamous bear attack scene in which our hero (Hugh Glass, played very bravely and stoically by Leonardo DiCaprio) is mauled, bitten and strewn all over the place by a mama grizzly fearing for her cubs. It’s an amazing bit of filmmaking and in many ways deserves all the praise it has earned.
And it goes on for a very long time. Continue reading

MIXED DOUBLES: Legend and Night Owls


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

 

and check out my Script Consultation Services: http://ow.ly/HPxKE

 

Warning: SPOILERS

nightowls 1Night Owls, the new self- contained, nearly two person drama written by Seth Goldsmith and the director Charles Hood, takes place in a single location: an upper middle class home.

Poor schlep Kevin gets lucky one night and is picked up at a party by Madeline, a sexy young thing. He takes her to what he thinks is her home and they make the beasts with two backs.

Afterward Kevin wakes up alone in bed. As he gets ready to leave, he discovers that he’s in his boss’s house and that Madeline is his boss’s mistress. Even worse, Madeline has tried to kill herself by taking a bottle of pills (don’t you just hate when that happens), so Kevin has to call a co-worker who then calls a doctor (well, a podiatrist, but the principle is the same).

After helping Madeline regain consciousness, the doctor tells Kevin he has to keep her awake for the rest of the night or she might die. So the two spend one of those evenings together where souls are bared, life lessons are learned and characters arc. Continue reading

THE GOOD, THE NOT SO BAD AND THE UGLY: AFI 2015, Part 4: Married Without Children – 45 Years and Macbeth


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

 

and check out my Script Consultation Services: http://ow.ly/HPxKE

Warning: SPOILERS

45 years 2

Is this the year of the older, older woman?

For some reason, a number of films have been released this year with a central character that is probably not only not in any recognized quadrant of the four that studios so dream of capturing, it’s a target audience many producers probably consider non-existent: a female in her somewhat twilight years.

These include I’ll See You In My Dreams (Blythe Danner as a widow discovering that life isn’t over by any stretch of the imagination); Grandma (Lily Tomlin as a grandmother helping her granddaughter raise money for an abortion); Youth (Jane Fonda as an aging actress desperately trying to hold on to her career); The Woman in the Van (curmudgeon Maggie Smith as…a curmudgeon in a van).

And now we have Charlotte Rampling as Kate Mercer in 45 Years, a heartbreaking and at times emotionally devastating film about a wife who has to reevaluate her more than four decade long marriage in the days leading up to her and her husband’s anniversary.

It’s a roster that perhaps is worthy of an entry in the Guinness Books. Continue reading

THERE’LL ALWAYS BE AN ENGLAND SEQUEL: Queen and Country and The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel


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
queen and countryQueen and Country, the new semi- autobiographical film from writer/director John Boorman (the semi part) is a sequel to Boorman’s earlier film Hope and Glory, an episodic comedy about a young lad’s picturesque adventures during World War II.
When we last saw the wee Bill, he had arrived at school to see it on fire from having been bombed during the Blitzkrieg, prompting him to yell out, “Thank you, Adolf”. It’s nearly a decade later now and Bill is an older teen and is conscripted into the army during the Korean War.
How you respond to Queen and Country will probably depend on how you respond to the way Bill is dramatized here. Personally, and to be ruthlessly honest, I found him a poor excuse for a human being who, first, has an amazing inability to fully comprehend just how lucky he is, and second, for someone whose future lies as a filmmaker, an amazing inability to understand, empathize or read the people he interacts with. Continue reading

REEL MEN, REAL MEN, PART TWO: Mr. Turner, Saint Laurent and The Theory of Everything


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
mr turnerI continue now with my reviews of the sudden spate of movies based on real people that are arriving late in the year because, well, we’re entering awards season, and what awards season would be complete without an overabundance of inspired by true event stories.
First up…
Early on in Mr. Turner, writer/director Mike Leigh’s latest film about the famed 19th century land- and seascape artist, his servants prepare a pig’s head for a meal.
What is so interesting about this, and the reason I draw attention to it, is that the porcine’s pate bears a remarkable resemblance to the great painter himself with the artist constantly snorting and grunting as if Babe was his mother (or father, I can’t remember whether that famed shoat was a boar or a sow).
In fact, one might say that, Timothy Spall, a member of Leigh’s stock company of actors and who plays the title character here, does one of the greatest, if not greatest, imitation of a sus scrofa domesticus I’ve ever encountered in cinematic history. If someone is planning a remake of Animal Farm, I think we have our Old Napoleon.
It may be a dubious distinction, but a distinction none the less.

Continue reading