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. 
 
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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

PASSING THE LIGHTSABER: Star Wars: The Force Awakens


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

 

 

sw 3The new Star Wars film (Star Wars: the Force Awakens to be exact) has a simple theme: the only thing that can stop a bad guy with the force is a good guy with the force.

All in all, I would have to say that this new entry in the franchise is both better than the original Star Wars and not as good as the original Star Wars.

It’s better acted than what is now known as A New Hope; the dialog is a bit more pithy and witty; the characters are somewhat less one-dimensional; and the special effects less cheesy.

But there’s one thing the original space opera had that the new one doesn’t, can’t and will never have. Continue reading

PERIOD PIECE: 1950’s America, Brooklyn and Trumbo


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

brooklyn 2I’m not sure what it is about America in the 1950’s, but it has become very popular as of late in film. Three movies this year that took place during the Eisenhower era have captured the fervent imagination of the audience: Carol (which I’ve already reviewed), and now Brooklyn and Trumbo.

Hm. It seems that that time period also has a penchant for titles with only two syllables as well.

The reason for this mini-Renaissance may all be due to the success of TV’s Madmen, which dramatized America’s transition from the 1950’s to the 1960’s.

Or maybe instead, “transition” is more the key word here. The 1950’s is one of the great transitional periods in our nation’s history, slowly trying to grow away from the conservation way of life of the Depression and World War II, struggling to break free so it can surge into the Summer of Love.

And it all happened under a Republican president no less. Continue reading

IS IT REAL OR IS IT MEMOREX: Ex Machina and True Story


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
ex machinaA critic once said that when you get down to it, there aren’t that many plotlines; after all, Frankenstein and Pygmalion are basically the same story.
This came to mind as I was watching Ex Machina, the new sci-fi drama written and directed by Alex Garland (who also wrote the very involving Never Let Me Go and the highly successful 28 Days Later…). For my money, what he’s done is basically combined both Mary Shelley and George Bernard Shaw’s seminal works into one narrative.
It’s intriguing. But for me, I also found it a bit slow, unfocused at times and, well, to be ruthlessly honest, more than a bit creepy in ways that may not have been intended.
The last is because the more I think about Ex Machina, the more it seems to me that what the movie is about is not what the movie is about. And what the movie is really about made me very uncomfortable. Continue reading

HEAD CASES: Life of Crime and Frank


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
Life-Of-Crime-Movie-Trailer-635x316If it is true, as people say, that films influence how we act, then I’m not sure why people are still in the kidnapping biz. I mean, if there is one thing movies have taught us, from Fargo to High and Low to Taken to Misery, that kidnapping thingy just never works out well for those who take to it.
And now we have Life of Crime, written and directed by Daniel Schechter (based on a novel by the immensely popular as well as well respected author Elmore Leonard titled The Switch), the latest variation on the O’Henry short story, The Ransom of Red Chief, in which someone is kidnapped whom the one being extorted the ransom would be just as happy if they were never returned. Continue reading