HUMANITY AT ITS BEST AND WORST: Sicario and The Martian


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Warning: SPOILERS
sicarioSicario, the new thriller about the drug war written by Taylor Sheridan (a first film) and directed by French Canadian flavor of the month Denis Villeneuve (Incendies, Prisoner, Enemies), is, in many ways, two movies for the price of one.
The first is an action/adventure film full of car chases and gun battles and plot twists (many of which, if truth be told, I found just a tad tenuous at best) of the action/adventure variety.
The second is a treatise on the drug war.
The first film is often quite successful and impressive. The second is, at least from my perspective, quite shallow and unconvincing.
This means that for much of the time, Sicario is definitely and highly entertaining. Sheridan and Villeneuve, along with the incredibly soaring cinematography of Roger Deakins (one of our finest today), the film editing of Joe Walker, and the heart throbbing music of Johan Johannson, have crafted an edge of your seat story that never really stops and never really lets you stop watching. 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
and check out my Script Consultation Services: http://ow.ly/HPxKE
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

DADDY’S DEAD, YOU KNOW…AND WON’T LET US FORGET IT: This Is Where I Leave You, My Old Lady and The Skeleton Twins


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
this-is-where-i-leave-youGosh darn, daddies seem to be dropping like flies this month. Three movies have opened lately in which the pater familias is no longer in the picture. Not only that, it’s these fathers that often seem to be getting the brunt of the blame for the way their kids have turned out.
I guess it’s kind of convenient for all the characters involved, then, that the man from whose loins they were loosed is no longer around to defend himself.
But, you know, whatever, I guess. At any rate, he’s dead, dead, dead. And just won’t let us forget it.

Continue reading