The 2018 Howies


 

 

 

 

For questions: hcasner@aol.com

First, a word from our sponsors: My short film 8 Conversations in 15 Minutes 58 Seconds will premiere at STUFF, the South Texas Underground Film Festival on January 27th, 2019 http://www.stuftx.org/

Check out my Script Consultation Services at http://ow.ly/HPxKE. I offer several types of service. Testimonials can be found at the blog entry.

Ever wonder what a reader for a contest or agency thinks when he reads your screenplay?  Check out the second edition of my screenwriting book, More Rantings and Ravings of a Screenplay Reader published on Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07GD1XP9Y

Finally, I have published two collections of short stories, The Starving Artists and other stories, https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07FS91CKJ and The Five Corporations and the One True Church and other stories, https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07KY5Z3CF

This was not the best of times for movies, but possibly not the worst. Even AFI this year, one of my last resort sources for my end of year list, only provided one addition: the hysterical dark comedy, Pig. After a rather lackluster first half, wondering if there was going to be any films to join The Death of Stalin and First Reformed on my top ten, I finally started seeing hope on the horizon and slowly, but don’t call me Shirley, managed to cobble together a worthy set of cinema. Enjoy.

 

BEST FILM – Top Ten
The Death of Stalin
The remainder in alphabetical order
22 July
Burning
Favourite, The
First Reformed
Guilty, The
Mary Poppins Returns
Pig
Shoplifters
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-verse Continue reading

IT’S A DISASTER: The Magnificent Seven and Deepwater Horizon


For questions: hcasner@aol.com
First, a word from our sponsors: I wanted to say thank you to everyone who contributed to our Indiegogo campaign for 15 Conversations in 10 Minutes. We did very well due to you folks. For those who weren’t able to give, keep us in your thoughts. And if you are able to contribute in the future, contact me and I’ll tell you how. I will even honor the perks on the original campaign.
I am now offering a new consultation 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?  FosCheck 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
rev-1Two films have opened as of late which have disaster in common. One falls into that genre and one almost is one.
There is one transcendent moment in the most recent version of The Magnificent Seven. It comes at the end as the credits begin by showing each of the characters. At this point, behind them, one can here the incredibly epic score by Elmer Bernstein from the 1960 version. It’s stirring, splendid, glorious, stunning…
Unfortunately, this tiny fraction of the movie only really ended up serving one purpose: it clearly reminded the audience of the earlier version, and not to the benefit of the present one, and only went to show how bland and uninteresting the music is when it comes to James Horner and Simon Franklin’s score for this Western remake of a remake (yes, it apparently took two people to come up with something so dull). Continue reading

NOT YOU SEE THEM, NOW YOU DON’T: Eye in the Sky


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
rev 3When air warfare and the ability to drop bombs on the enemy became standard methods of battle, pilots often had a different feeling, even a disconnect, from the grunts on the ground.  It was easier to kill the enemy combatants because the pilot didn’t engage with their foe face to face.  However, that’s not where the disconnect stopped.  It was also much easier to kill those who were not combatants, but who are, as we say today, collateral damage.
However, a new method of air warfare has somehow combined both the disconnected pilots in the air as well as the more engaged privates on parade.  This new method of mass killing, drones, enable a pilot to drop bombs on the enemy from a safe distance; but because the drones come with cameras, one also tends to see everything almost first hand, as if the ones with their hands on the trigger are there, even seeing some of the victims close up before launching a missile.
That is one of the dilemmas that is at the heart of the new drama Eye in the Sky, a story about a group of people trying  decide whether to lodge a missile at a house that not only contains terrorists high up on the most wanted list, but terrorists who are planning two suicide bombings.  The problem: right outside the house is a little girl, blithely unaware, selling bread.  So is the attack worth the death of the little girl? Continue reading

PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE INTENSE: Good Kill and Tomorrowland


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
 
and check out my Script Consultation Services: http://ow.ly/HPxKE
 
Warning: SPOILERS
good killI have recently seen a movie that, for my money, is more intense, suspenseful and edge of your seat than Mad Max: Fury Road, Furious 7, The Avengers: Age of Ultron and Tomorrowland put together.
But it’s also a much smaller film than any of those; smaller in budget, in size, in CGI.
It’s more than all of those adverbs, I suspect, because it is about a real person put into a real situation, a situation of profound psychological and moral conflict. In the above movies, all the characters had to worry about was the end of their existence.
In the movie I am referring to, Good Kill, our central character has something far greater at stake: the end of his soul.
The basic story line revolves around one Major Thomas Egan, just about the best drone pilot there is. And his job, day in, day out, is to locate the bad guys in the Middle East and blow them up from thousands of miles away. His bliss is basically the same as Chris Kyle in American Sniper, but he gets to do it from the comfort of a chair in an air conditioned unit on a base in Nevada, not far from the R&R resort of Las Vegas. Continue reading

REMEMBRANCE OF THINGS PAST: Beloved Sisters and Predestination


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

 

beloved sistersBeloved Sisters is the story of a sorta, kinda love triangle between the great playwright and poet Friedrich Schiller (one of the dramaturges from whom we get the phrase stϋrm and drang of which there is more than enough of in this period piece, thank you very much) and the two sisters whom he loved, one of whom he married, and both of whom he slept with.
It’s also one of these films in which the only reason the women have for existence is their love and passion for a man and when they can’t get him, they cry, beat their breasts, wail against the injustices of the universe, throw tantrums, have nervous breakdowns and finally have what is known in impolite society as a knockdown, drag out cat fight.
No, I’m not joking, they have a cat fight.
But even that’s not the worst of it.
The worst of it is just how slow, tedious and, well, to be ruthlessly honest, how…boring the whole thing is.
I mean, it may be German, but you ain’t gonna find no blitzkrieg here. Continue reading

THEY’RE EITHER TOO YOUNG OR TOO OLD: My take on the movies of Boyhood and Land Ho


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 movies have opened recently in which your equal and opposite reaction to them will probably depend on how you feel about the central characters. In both cases, I have to admit that this was the one area where both films came up a bit short for me.
boyhood“You gotta have a gimmick/If you want to get ahead”
                              Stephen Soundheim, Gypsy
In Boyhood, a coming of age drama written and directed by slacker fabulist Richard Linklater, the same cast was filmed over a period of one year less a baker’s dozen in order to make the movie. By doing so, Linklater created his story in such a way that we see the same actor, Ellar Coltrane, grow and change right before our eyes as he plays the lead Mason.
In other words, Boyhood is a movie with a gimmick. Continue reading