Plague/Schmague: Episode 3 of Pop Art-Monty Python and the Holy Grail/The Seventh Seal


What better time to discuss two films that take place during a plague?

For Pop Art, I ask my guest to chose a film from pop culture and I will then chose a corresponding film from the more arty side of cinema.

For this episode, my guest Jay Cluitt chose the brilliant comedy Monty Python and the Holy Grail and I, in turn, chose the great Ingmar Bergman’s art house hit The Seventh Seal. And in this episode we answer such questions as: Who is the best Monty Pythoner; which movie has the best insult scenes; how does an acting troupe survive in a plague; where have all the existentialists gone; and what is the connection between Bergman and Twister?

Find it at https://www.podomatic.com/podcasts/hcasner65579

 

And check out my first two episodes: Raiders of the Lost Ark/The Treasure of the Sierra Madre and Goldfinger/The Spy Who Came in From the Cold.

 

Artists Who Have Most Influenced My Writing


First a word from our sponsor:

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 a collection of three of my plays, 3 Plays, https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08478DBXF as well as 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.

 

For my next blog entry, I thought I would list and discuss those writers and artists that have influenced my writing. The influences have changed over the years. Some of the authors that influenced my writing when I was younger, in high school and college, say, have been replaced as I grew older and as I encountered other artists who more reflected how my view of the world had changed over the years.

 

I still tend to explore the same themes and issues as I did when I was just starting out. I was always asking the same questions: What is the point to everything? Is there a point? Why are we here? Why do we exist? Is there a God? How we do live life in a world that is both inherently logical and makes sense as well as inherently illogical and absurd and chaotic? Continue reading

PULL UP THE WELCOME MAT: A Bigger Splash and The Ones Below


First, a word from our sponsors: I have just launched the indiegogo campaign for my short film 14 Conversations in 10 Minutes. Check it out http://ow.ly/SblO3005HHu.  Below is a video sample of the short. Think about contributing (the lowest contribution is only $5.00). Please view and share anywhere and everywhere.

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?  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 3 Two movies have opened recently that have as its premise what happens when you welcome guests into one’s home. The basic moral of both is that, well, maybe it’s best not to.
In I Am Love, an earlier film directed by Luca Guadagnino, Tilda Swinton played the wife of a wealthy businessman who finds herself falling in love with the friend of her son. The movie had a small story and in many ways, very little happened plotwise. Still, every scene was filled with tension and suspense that at times was almost unbearable.
In A Bigger Splash, Guadagnino’s new film with Miss Swinton (not to be confused with the 1973 documentary about David Hockney), the plot seems to careen from scene to scene at high speed where a lot seems to happen, but ironically, with almost no sense of tension or suspense.
In the end, it’s a thriller desperately trying to find some thrills, but almost always coming up short. Continue reading

MOTHERS AND DAUGHTERS: Diary of a Teenage Girl and Grandma


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
diaryI remember back in 1987 when Dirty Dancing came out, I was a little surprised that in all the positive reaction to the film, no one was mentioning the fact that a teenage girl was having an affair with a much older man. In fact, women loved this movie about first love and sexual awaking.
When Lolita was released in 1962, the movie was not so much seen as a dramatization of the horrors of pedophilia, but a tragi-comic character study of a man obsessed with his step-daughter, a step-daughter who did as much of the seducing as did the aging roué.
In 1984’s Blame it on Rio, Michael Caine has sex with his best friend’s daughter and the whole thing is played as a farce. It was even called incest by proxy by some and many found the move tres amusement.
Woody Allen’s films like Manhattan (1979) were probably the main ones the drew some hesitation, but even in his black and white paean to a city filled with morally questionable neurotics, his relationship with the high school nymphet was seen as the most pure and Mariel Hemingway got an Oscar nom.
Even Roman Polanski got the brunt of the sympathy as he fled the country to try and restart his film career in Europe.
But this was an earlier time when sex between older men and teenage girls wasn’t quite held in the same low esteem as it is today.
And oh, my, the times they have been a changing. Back then we had the new morality. Today, we have the new, new morality where sex between an adult and someone below the age of consent is no longer seen as acceptable and even considered damaging to the teen. Legally it’s always been called statutory rape, but until more recently, that term was not used much in terms of these relationships in movies.
The new movie Diary of a Teenage Girl, written and directed by the actor Marielle Heller (she can be seen in such films as A Walk Among the Tombstones and MacGruber), based on the autobiographical novel by Phoebe Gloeckner, falls somewhere in between today and yesterday. Continue reading

ONE SIZE DOES NOT FIT ALL: Variations on structural engineering and storytelling when it comes to screenplays, PART THREE: SURREALISM, IMPRESSIONISM and OTHER DEPARTURES FROM REALITY


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

 

pans labyrnthI have been writing a series of essays in the hope of directing screenwriters to films that use alternative ways of structuring or telling their stories. My goal is to try to open writers up to a wider array of ways to create their vision.
I mean, it really amazes me sometimes when I realize just what has been done out there over the years in screenwriting, what can and has been achieved.
And film is an incredible medium whose possibilities simply seem boundless.
But what drove me to write these essays is that in the last five or six years of reading screenplays for contests and a production company, I have found scripts to be fewer and farther between that really take chances; try to do something different; that have a unique vision.
Instead, for me, there has been an increasing sameness to what I’ve been coming across. Continue reading