YOU CAN’T GO HOME AGAIN: Manchester By The Sea, It’s Only the End of the World and The Commune


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Warning: SPOILERS
rev-2You Can’t Go Home Again is, of course, the title of a posthumously published novel by Thomas Wolfe, and a phrase that has entered common discourse since. I’ve seen three movies lately that are about people returning home or using memories of their early years as the basis for their stories.
The basic premise of writer/director Kenneth Lonergan’s new film Manchester by the Sea revolves around Lee Chandler (Casey Affleck), a janitor living in Boston who is very good at his job, but is a loner with a somewhat self-destructive personality. When he receives word that his older brother Joe (Kyle Chandler) has died, he returns to his home city of Manchester by the Sea, a fishing and tourist town. There he is shocked to discover that his brother in his will has requested Lee to become guardian to Joe’s sixteen year old son, Lucas. Joe has provided for Lucas’ expenses in his will and just needs Lee to return to Manchester to live.
Why Lee can’t return and the conflicts over how to handle this request make up the bulk of the movie and much of the heart breaking suspense is waiting to find out what happened that led to Lee’s present situation-you know it has something to do with his three children since they are only shown in flashback. The waiting is painfully unbearable at times. Continue reading

THE GOOD, THE NOT SO BAD AND THE UGLY: AFI 2015, Part 4: Married Without Children – 45 Years and Macbeth


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

45 years 2

Is this the year of the older, older woman?

For some reason, a number of films have been released this year with a central character that is probably not only not in any recognized quadrant of the four that studios so dream of capturing, it’s a target audience many producers probably consider non-existent: a female in her somewhat twilight years.

These include I’ll See You In My Dreams (Blythe Danner as a widow discovering that life isn’t over by any stretch of the imagination); Grandma (Lily Tomlin as a grandmother helping her granddaughter raise money for an abortion); Youth (Jane Fonda as an aging actress desperately trying to hold on to her career); The Woman in the Van (curmudgeon Maggie Smith as…a curmudgeon in a van).

And now we have Charlotte Rampling as Kate Mercer in 45 Years, a heartbreaking and at times emotionally devastating film about a wife who has to reevaluate her more than four decade long marriage in the days leading up to her and her husband’s anniversary.

It’s a roster that perhaps is worthy of an entry in the Guinness Books. 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

THE HALF YEAR OF THE WOMAN: Ida, Young & Beautiful and The Immigrant


young and beautifulI am one of those annoying movie fanatics who tend to make year end lists. You know what I mean: the top ten movies of the year, the best acting, directing, writing, etc. And if that’s not bad enough, like most people who do this, I start building that list early on such that by June, say, I have some strong possibilities as to who might make it out of the Darwinian survival of the fittest mire and who might not.
But there is something interesting happening this time round. While I already could easily have a top five or more list when it comes to female actors, I don’t have anyone I feel that strongly about for their male counterparts. So far this year, roles for women have been more interesting, more complex and more exciting than roles for men. Continue reading