3 Women: Personal Shopper, Ghost in the Shell and Beauty and the Beast


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
Kristen Stewart, as far as I was concerned, did not have a particularly auspicious start in films as an actress. She came to fame by making big movies. But I found the Twilight series, and her acting, impossible to watch (I couldn’t get through the first in the franchise). She followed that up with Snow White and the Huntsman, which I did manage to get through, but definitely no thanks to Stewart’s underwhelming performance.
Then something happened. She became good. I was astounded, but still it happened.
This came to pass around the time she made Still Alice and The Clouds of Sils Maria (for which she became the first American to win a César award for acting-here in the supporting actress category). Continue reading

Les Girls Encore: The Handmaiden, Certain Women, Aquarius, Denial and Christine


 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-1In my last review, I mentioned that a number of films opened with women as the central character. This week, this trend continues with five more. And now that fall is upon us and productions companies and distributors are going to begin release of films to qualify for the Academy Awards, we should see a number more as everyone races for a Best Actress nod.
The lesson I suppose is don’t look for female driven movies from Hollywood and the studios, but from independent and art films and the prestige pictures at year’s end.
The Handmaiden is a new import from South Korea, one of the two countries that, along with Romania, are producing the most interesting films internationally. It is based on Fingersmith, a thriller by Welsh (and lesbian) writer Sarah Waters that in the novel takes place in Victorian era Britain, but has been switch to 1930’s Japanese occupied Korea because, well, little is more universal than murder and other nasty deeds.
To show how pretentious moi can be, The Handmaiden is as if James Cain wrote Victorian pornography using a Rashomon type structure. Continue reading

THE EAST IS EAST AND THE WEST IS WEST: Woody Allen’s Café Society


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?  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 1In Woody Allen’s most recent attempt at making himself forget that he will have to die one day, or as it’s called in the state of the art, his latest film, Café Society, about a young man, Bobby (Allen stand in Jessie Eisenberg), who goes out to the West Coast to see if he wants to make a future there, the camera often glides around a scene with all the grace of Sonja Henri, even at times so smoothly it left me a little dizzy. I can’t remember the last time I saw Allen’s camera flow as much as it does here. Often of late, his camera feels as if it were following the old saying, what you see is what you get.
Its appearance was so refreshing at the beginning of the film, it had me hoping for something more than a typical 21st Century Woody Allen movie. But alas, though not a terrible night at the cinema, Café Society is only intermittently successful. Continue reading

A TALE OF TWO JESSES: American Ultra and The End of the Tour


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
american ultra 1I’ve always had mixed feelings about the actor Jesse Eisenberg. His stuttering performances, his “gee gosh” can’t look you in the face acting technique, his off beat visage, have actually, if I must be honest, and I guess I must, I must, put me off at the beginning and often quite annoyed me.
And, as I also said to my friends: Aren’t Jesse Eisenberg, Michael Cera and Paul Dano actually the same person? I mean, have you ever seen them in a room together?
As time has gone on, as time is want to do, as we know from Casablanca, and as Eisenberg has made more and more interesting choices in film roles (from The Squid and the Whale to The Social Network to Night Moves to The Double), he’s sort of won me over and I even look forward to his next endeavor.
Well, his next endeavor, nay, endeavors, we now have, and they come in the form of two new films: American Ultra and End of the Tour.
American Ultra is about a slacker, stoner Peter Pan, called Mike, who works at a convenience store in a small town that he can’t seem to leave because he has an agoraphobic reaction whenever he tries. He lives with a long suffering girlfriend Phoebe who he has decided to ask to marry him. But something happens that causes his best laid plans to go awry. Continue reading

THE MOORE THE MERRIER: My take on the movies Still Alice and Maps to the Stars and why Julianne Moore will win the Oscar this year


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
still alice twoJulianne Moore is destined to win the Best Actress award at the 2014 Academy Awards. It’s written in the stars (pun intended) as much as any plot in a drama by Aeschylus or Shakespeare. Far and wide it has been announced that it is Ms. Moore’s year. And who am I to argue with the stars, metaphorical or not?
Now, the question that remains is, “why”? What confluence of events, both within and without anyone’s control, has lead Moore to this momentous precipice?
I’m glad you asked. I shall try and enumerate the reasons.
First, there’s an old saying in Hollywood (though I may have actually made it up, I don’t remember) that just about everyone who deserves an Oscar gets one, but not for the movie they deserve it for. Continue reading

WORKING WOMEN: Three films at AFI–Two Days, One Night, The Clouds of Sils Maria and Gett: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem


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 days oneI have been attending the AFI film festival and have seen three films with female leads and have noticed a major difference between movies from other countries and those made in the U.S. when it comes to how we treat our actresses.
In the U.S., Marion Cottilard is made to play second fiddle to Johnny Depp, Daniel Day Lewis and Leonard DiCaprio, but on her home continent, two of the top European filmmakers actually built a whole movie around her.
In the U.S., Juliet Binoche is relegated to second tier status after a gigantic lizard goes on the rampage and Kristin Stewart is stuck in ridiculous teen angst films and even more ridiculous, over the top Hollywood blockbusters, but in Europe the two are allowed to play opposite each other in roles with depths most American actresses only dream of.
And in the U.S., when it comes to a study of a marriage, we have the misogynistic Gone Girl, with a psychotic wife who will do anything to punish her husband, even set him up for her own murder (while killing herself, no less), while from Israel, we have a film in which a woman desperately tries to get a divorce from a court that is almost determined to keep her in her place and not let her have it.
Prevailing wisdom is that this is one of the weakest years for actresses and the air is filled with panic as voters try to find five females to fill the slots for the Oscar noms for this year.
But prevailing wisdom always seems to leave out the pertinent proviso that this is really only true for the U.S. Continue reading