GUESS WHO’S COMING TO DINNER: Beatriz at Dinner and It Comes at Night


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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
Beatriz at Dinner is writer Michael White and director Miguel Arteta’s third film collaboration after Chuck and Buck (an interesting character study of a gay man wanting to take up a former relationship with his best friend who is now married and apparently no longer gay) and The Good Girl (a modern day somewhat clever take on Madame Bovary).
Together they have made a very solid series of films. Nothing perhaps to light up the sky, but still, quite respectable and entertaining.
Beatriz at Dinner is probably their most ambitious. At the same time, however intriguing and entertaining it often is, it is probably their weakest. I think this may be because they set up an intriguing premise, but failed to, or didn’t know how to, really resolve it all in a rich and satisfying way. Continue reading

WHAT THE WORLD NEEDS NOW IS LOVING, SWEET LOVING: Loving and Yourself and Yours


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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-1You can almost hear the people in the marketing meeting breathe a sigh of relief when it comes to titling the new film, the true story of a couple from different races who got married and were arrested for it.
“Oh, my god”, says one. “It’s about this couple who love each other against all odds. And their real names are, wait for it…Loving. It’s like this stuff writes itself.”
Social problem movies, especially those based upon true events, are not my favorite. Films like Gentlemen’s Agreement and Judgment at Nuremberg are often shallow, when they’re not being preachy and on the nose and told with little imagination. And the message sometimes seems a little warped (is the theme of Gentlemen’s Agreement that Jews should not be persecuted, or that people should not pick on Jews because they might be gentiles in disguise). Continue reading

NEW FILMMAKERS SEE THIS FILM: Midnight Special


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 2Midnight Special, the new neo-noir/sci-fi film, opens at night with a throbbing music score backed by hypnotic drums.  It grabs you by your neck and just won’t let go for the next ninety minutes.  At first, the story seems to be about the abduction of a little boy, but it soon becomes clear that it’s much more complicated than that.  The boy was adopted by the leader of a religious cult that makes its base in a private compound in Texas and the ones who have taken the boy from them is the boy’s biological father and the father’s closest friend.
So what is really going on and why do so many people treat this child as if the future of the human race depended on him?  And why are the FBI after him as well?
Midnight Special is the sort of film every aspiring screenwriter, director and producer should be seeing, but I often suspect aren’t.  It should be studied and emulated. That is, if you really want a future in the industry, whether your goal is the tent pole films of a major studio, or the more personal films that one sees on the independent circuit. Continue reading

FUHGEDDABOUDIT: Coming Home and Black Mass


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
In 1942, Ronald Colman played a character so shell shocked by the trenches of World War I that he walked out of the hospital where he was recovering, having no idea who he was.
He was taken in by a singer in a vaudeville house (Greer Garson), fell in love and the two married. Then years later, he suddenly, out of nowhere, remembered who he really was, but totally forget that his wife existed. He discovers he’s the scion of a wealthy family and eventually runs for political office, not knowing that his secretary is actually his wife.
This movie is Random Harvest and is perhaps the most romantic and delirious use of amnesia in film. But amnesia has always been a useful tool of storytelling, whether romantic (here and in Law of Desire) or in thrillers (Mr. Budwing and Mirage) or comedy (The Hangover and 50 First Dates).
coming homeComing Home, written by Jingzhi Zou and directed by Yimou Zhang, falls into the more melodramatic end of the spectrum like Random Harvest. It’s unabashedly sentimental and relishes in a sort of 1930’s studio romanticism tone and style, though the grittiness makes it more Warner Brothers than MGM. Continue reading

BULLY, BULLY and WOOLY, WOOLY: The Gift and Shaun the Sheep Movie


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
gift oneThere’s a very telling scene and line in The Gift, the new thriller written, directed and starring Australian jack of all trades Joel Edgerton (you know, just because you’re from another country doesn’t mean you can’t leave a few jobs for the locals, mate).
Husband and wife Simon and Robyn have recently moved to California for Simon’s new job. The town is Santa Clarita (if my memory serves) where Simon grew up and went to school. While out shopping the couple run into Gordo, an old classmate of Simon’s, someone Simon claims he can barely remember, though Gordo seems to have no trouble remembering Simon.
Gordo suddenly starts showing up at the couple’s house with gifts, though it’s hard to tell whether he’s creepy or just socially awkward. But one night he leaves after having been invited to dinner (well, has sort of forced them to invite him to dinner) and Simon says there is something odd about him.
The reason this is telling is because it is also somewhat ironic since, by this time, it’s rather clear that there is something odd about Simon. Continue reading

IT’S RAINING MANLY MEN: The Rover and Policeman


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
“Okay, too much testosterone around here for me.” Tyler Ann Endicott, Point Break
Two movies have just opened that filled me with much relief that smellovision never caught on. Both films are jam-packed to the brim with characters so masculine they ooze hormones to the extent their odor would grow hair on your chest if it was released into the auditorium.
rover-In the new Australian thriller The Rover, written and directed by David (Animal Kingdom) Michod from a story by Michod and Joel Edgerton (yes, that Joel Edgerton), it’s ten years after “the collapse”, a catastrophe that is never (to the movie’s credit) clearly defined, but has resulted in a Down Under that is in a near state of anarchy with the military standing in for the police; gas and food in short supply; the American dollar being the only trusted currency (hey, it could happen); and nobody seeming to have taken a bath in years. Continue reading