OUT OF GAS: The Lady in the Van and Aferim!


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Warning: SPOILERS

rev 1 Forgive me if I start out with a pun to describe the new comedy The Lady in the Van. It’s basically little more than a vehicle for the legendary actress Maggie Smith. To add insult to injury, I’ll continue with another pun: it’s a pretty stalled vehicle when all is said and done.

The cental premise is based on something that sorta, kinda happened to the British playwright Alan Bennett (The History Boys, The Madness of King George). After striking up a conversation with the neighborhood bag lady who lives in her van, and after not being able to shake her off, the playwright acquiesces to her suggestion that she park her vehicle in his driveway. He agrees, more out of an inability (or cowardice as he describes it) to say no. It’s only supposed to be for a little while, but she stays there until she dies fifteen years later.

Even though this is a vehicle for Maggie Smith, she is only fitfully effective, and I think that this may be because her character is more a construct than a real person. I mean, Bennett’s bag lady here is not your run of the mill everyday type of bag lady. No, here she is a former concert pianist and ex-nun who has gone into hiding because she thinks she is responsible for the death of a motorcyclist (she’s not) and who is being blackmailed by a police officer. Continue reading

THERE’LL ALWAYS BE AN ENGLAND SEQUEL: Queen and Country and The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel


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
queen and countryQueen and Country, the new semi- autobiographical film from writer/director John Boorman (the semi part) is a sequel to Boorman’s earlier film Hope and Glory, an episodic comedy about a young lad’s picturesque adventures during World War II.
When we last saw the wee Bill, he had arrived at school to see it on fire from having been bombed during the Blitzkrieg, prompting him to yell out, “Thank you, Adolf”. It’s nearly a decade later now and Bill is an older teen and is conscripted into the army during the Korean War.
How you respond to Queen and Country will probably depend on how you respond to the way Bill is dramatized here. Personally, and to be ruthlessly honest, I found him a poor excuse for a human being who, first, has an amazing inability to fully comprehend just how lucky he is, and second, for someone whose future lies as a filmmaker, an amazing inability to understand, empathize or read the people he interacts with. 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