NEW YORK, NEW YORK, A HELL OF A TOWN: The Dark Tower and Good Time


First, a word from our sponsors: 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
 
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Warning: SPOILERS
The Dark Tower is proof of an observation I’ve made of Hollywood at its worst. They take a filmmaker, often foreign, who has gained attention, often with a body of impressive work. Then, as punishment for this sin, they bring the filmmaker to the U.S. and give him any old crap to film.
The filmmaker referenced here is Denmark’s Nicolaj Arcel, who has either written or directed, or both, such noteworthy fare as the original The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, A Royal Affair, and the Department Q trilogy.
The crap he’s been entrusted with has already been mentioned.
All right, that’s not exactly accurate. The Dark Tower is not crap. It’s not really anything. It’s just kind of there…like limbo. Continue reading

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

A BIT SHORT: The Big Short and The Hateful Eight


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

big short 1The Big Short, like Spotlight, is the one of those movies ripped from the headlines—of years and years ago; but this time the subject is not pedophile priests, but the downfall of the American economy. Written by Charles Randolph and the director Adam McKay, from a book by Michael Lewis, it’s also a very satisfying bit of agitprop theater with Brechtian distancing devices thrown in for good major.

It basically tells the story of four different groups of people who all realized, more or less at the same time, and years ahead of schedule, that the housing mortgage bubble was going to burst in 2007 and destroy the world’s economy.

This leads to the movie’s major irony: the people who figured this out then proceed to invest heavily against the U.S. economy, making tons of money when their Cassandra like prediction of doom came true.

So basically, we in the audience, along with the characters in the movie, find ourselves and themselves actually hoping that the U.S. financial system tanks like the Titanic. Continue reading

WIIGING OUT: Welcome to Me and About Elly


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
welcome to meWhen Welcome to Me, the new comedy written by Eliot Laurence and directed by Shira Piven, began, I instantly became a bit wary. The central character, Alice Kleig (played by the quite funny Kristen Wiig) is bipolar and has just gone off her meds. I felt in these opening scenes the filmmakers were exploiting her condition for laughs and I became a bit uncomfortable.
But then something intriguing happens. We stop seeing Alice through the eyes of the director and writer, but through the eyes of her friends, who love her very much, as well as her therapist, who is very concerned for her and also likes her very much, and suddenly all those things she does (like starting any explanation by whipping out a piece of paper and saying, “I have a prepared statement”) now seem charmingly eccentric.
We like Alice and have affection for her and her foibles and are concerned for her because her friends have affection for her and are concerned. Continue reading

AND THEN THE ECSTASY KICKED IN, OR WHO’S MIND F*CKING THE STORE?: Borgman, Coherence and The Moment


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
borgman_bedroom__mediumThree movies have opened recently that I call WTF films. You know what I mean, cinema deliriums that after you watch it, you turn to your friend and go WHAT THE…?
Movies like The American Astronaut, Eraserhead, La Mustache, El Topo, Holy Motors, Dogtooth, Mulholland Drive…
Movies that play mind fuck games with your, well…mind.
Movies that are strange and offbeat and abnormal and peculiar and original and unique (well, I could go on, my thesaurus lists a lot of words similar to these, so I think I’ve made my point), but also movies made with a vision and passion and eschew normal rules of screenwriting and filmmaking.
And if there is one thing I like in films, it’s have my fucking mind…fucked. Or blown. Or something else that can have a sex act as its metaphor. Continue reading