JUST LIE BACK AND ENJOY IT: Elle, Nocturnal Animals and The Salesman


For questions: hcasner@aol.com
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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-3SPECIAL NOTE: the review of Elle is especially riddled with spoilers, but I don’t know really how else to talk about it.
There has been a lot written of late when it comes to the use of rape as a plot point in movies about women. More and more, for many viewers and critics, the use of such a storyline has turned into a cheap device and exploitive way to get an audience, especially men, to tune in.
It may have even become so polarizing that, to some extent, it has made it difficult to write about a film in which sexual assault is central to the action.
For example, I have seen three movies lately that have employed attacks on women as part of the narrative. Two were explicitly rapes, the other a bit more ambiguous. But in the two that were explicit, I couldn’t tell if the rape felt exploitive because that’s what it was, or that it felt exploitive because the political climate today is such that it doesn’t allow it to be anything but.
Elle, the second film this year starring the great Isabel Huppert (the first is the wonderful Things to Come) opens with the sound of a rape over the titles (or could it be simply rough sex?, it’s difficult to tell). Continue reading

IT’S A JUNGLE OUT THERE: Movie Reviews of Demolition and The Jungle Book by Howard Casner


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 1For the first third of the new drama Demolition, Jake Gyllenhaal plays Davis,  a man whose wife recently died in a traumatic car crash, one which he witnessed (he was in the passenger seat beside her).
After the accident, he starts acting, well, somewhat odd.  He doesn’t seem to show any emotion or even grieve in any way.  He returns to work earlier than expected.  He distances himself from a scholarship his father-in-law wants to create in his daughter’s name.
But most important, at least in terms of the story, after a candy machine refuses to give him his order, he starts writing to the customer service department of the manufacturer.  However, he doesn’t just air his grievance, he also spills his real feelings about his wife and what is happening to him. Continue reading

STAR TURNS: Southpaw and Mr. Holmes


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
southpaw oneI’m not about to say that director Antoine Fuqua is a great filmmaker by any means. But he is a solid craftsman of pieces of entertainment, perhaps one of the best around today. His films are technically impressive, satisfactorily written and they deliver the goods.
And Southpaw is no exception. It’s a movie that doesn’t take you anyplace new (in fact, it takes you to a myriad of places you’ve been before). And when it comes to, say, boxing movies, I don’t think it’s an insult to say he’s no Martin Scorsese (Raging Bull) or John Huston (Fat City).
At the same time, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed if all you want to do is spend a couple of hours being amused, diverted and distracted. And actually, if truth be told, Southpaw is probably a bit better than that.
I do think the main reason for this, as if I have to tell you, is the performance of Jake Gyllenhaal as the lead character Billy Hope (Hope?, really? Okay, sure why not). Striving very hard to be taken seriously as an actor since his Oscar nominated performance in Brokeback Mountain, he has pushed the boundaries of the types of character he plays in movies from Jarhead to Zodiac to his magnificent tour de force last year in the creepy, creepy Nightcrawler. Continue reading

HEARTS OF DARKNESS: Nightcrawler, Force Majeure, and Listen Up Philip


 

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
nightcrawlerAfter my friend and I left our screening of Nightcrawler, the new L.A. based neo-noir starring a somewhat gaunt and coyote looking Jake Gyllenhaal, we both commented on how much fun the whole thing was.
And then we wondered, is that really an appropriate reaction to what we just witnessed?
Because Nightcrawler is, well, kind of sick. It’s also dark and edgy and depressing and all the other points of the Scouts’ law and certainly one of the more unflattering looks at humanity that you’ve had the privilege of seeing in some time (everyone has Lady Macbeth hands in this film).
But it’s also kind of exciting and gripping and keeps you grabbing at your armrests.
And yes, indeed, make no mistake about it, it’s also a ton of fun. Continue reading

DOUBLE CROSS: Enemy


ENEMY_DAY17-0034-FINALBefore I begin, a quiz:
Let’s say that you were watching a movie and you saw someone in said movie that was the spitting image of yourself, and I mean, as far as you can tell, he could be your identical, not fraternal, twin.  You know, like in that movie starring Haley Mills (okay, okay, if you really feel the need to brag and say you are too young to have seen that, then the one starring Lindsay Lohen).   Would you: Continue reading