POP ART: Episode 11, Adaptation/Sunset Blvd.


NEW EPISODE: “Audiences don’t know somebody sits down and writes a picture; they think the actors make it up as they go along.” The quarantine is giving you a lot of time to write and work on your art. But are you? Sounds like the perfect time for the next episode of Pop Art, the podcast where the guest chooses a movie from pop culture and I, in turn, choose a film from the more art/classic side of cinema that has a connection to it. My guest, filmmaker Josh Kim (writer/director How to Win at Checkers (Every Time)), chose the whimsical, idiosyncratic movie Adaptation written by Charlie and Donald Kaufman, while I chose the film noir Billy Wilder classic Sunset Blvd. (the movie that shows the real tinsel behind the fake tinsel of Hollywood), both about screenwriters in crisis. And we cover such topics as: What does it say about screenwriters? Which is the better film? Why did Charlie Kaufman think his career was over? What was the original opening for Sunset Blvd. and how did they achieve the shot used now? Who else was considered for the various roles? Who or what is an H.B. Warner? And what is the connection to Rebel Without a Cause? Finally, remember, it’s the pictures that got small.

Next up: Die Hard/District B13.

ON ITUNES AND PODOMATIC https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/pop-art/id1511098925 and https://hcasner65579.podomatic.com/, as well as Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/show/5jX4noVGArDJdmcFtmrQcGm , Anchor: https://anchor.fm/howard-casner, Google Podcasts: https://podcasts.google.com/?feed=aHR0cHM6Ly9hbmNob3IuZm0vcy8xZWI4N2NmYy9wb2RjYXN0L3Jzcw , Breaker: https://www.breaker.audio/pop-art, Pocketcasts: https://pca.st/vfjqj6j6, Radiopublic: https://radiopublic.com/pop-art-GExxNb, Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/you/tracks   And don’t forget to LIKE, COMMENT and FOLLOW.

Previous episodes: Raiders of the Lost Ark/The Treasure of the Sierra Madre; Goldfinger/The Spy Who Came in From the Cold; Monty Python and the Holy Grail/The Seventh Seal; The Great Escape/A Man Escaped; Best in Show/Series 7: The Contenders; Robocop/THX 1138; Singin’ in the Rain/Irma Vep; Star Wars/The Hidden Fortress; The Omen/Village of the Damned; Aliens/Attack the Block.

 

Check out my Script Consultation Services at http://ow.ly/HPxKE. I offer several types of service. Testimonials can be found at the blog entry.

Ever wonder what a reader for a contest or agency thinks when he reads your screenplay?  Check out the second edition of my screenwriting book, More Rantings and Ravings of a Screenplay Reader published on Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07GD1XP9Y

Finally, I have published a collection of three of my plays, 3 Plays, https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08478DBXF as well as two collections of short stories, The Starving Artists and other stories, https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07FS91CKJ and The Five Corporations and the One True Church and other stories, https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07KY5Z3CF.

NEW YORK STORIES: Florence Foster Jenkins and Little Men


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
rev 1Tourist: How do I get to Carnegie Hall?
Taxi Driver: Practice, son, practice.
Or you can go the way of Florence Foster Jenkins and have enough money to rent the hall oneself.
In the 1960’s, a Margaret Dumontenesque like singer going by the name of Mrs. Miller become a flavor of the month sensation by singing pop songs like Downtown in an operatic off key shrill. I have a memory of Mrs. Miller from my youth. I did wonder at the time whether she knew she was being laughed at, not with. Apparently she had some idea, but that didn’t stop her from recording.
Such a character appears in pop culture every once in a while (anyone have a painting of a poor orphaned waif with saucer eyes?). And now a new movie has been made about a similar creature who shared her voice during the days leading up to World War II.
The main difference is that Florence Foster Jenkins made Mrs. Miller sound like Leontyne Price. Continue reading

TONE DEAF: Marguerite and Hello, My Name is Doris


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 1When Tommy Wiseau released his film The Room, it was so awful that it inadvertently became a cult hit, especially on the late night circuit.  But people often wondered whether the filmmaker knew just how execrable his movie really was.
I thought of that as I watched Marguerite, the new French film from writers Xavier Giannoli (who also directed) and Marcia Romano.  It’s a story about a patroness of the arts who gave recitals in her home to raise money for various charities.  When all the other performers had rendered their absolutely ravishing arias and duets, Marguerite would then conclude the evening by singing herself.  And out of her well meaning mouth came notes so awful, it made fingernails on a blackboard sound like one of Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto.
But did she know?  Continue reading

THE FEMALE OF THE SPECIES… Suffragette, Crimson Peak and Assassin


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

 

suffragetteIn the new historical semi-epic Suffragette, women fight for the right to vote. Not a particularly controversial topic these days, except perhaps in some remote regions of the radical right.
Written by Abi Morgan (The Iron Lady, Shame and the TV series The Hour) and directed by Sarah Gavron (Brick Lane), there’s nothing that wrong with the movie and it does its job admirably enough, and all the while backed by impeccable period settings and costumes ranging from working to the more leisurely classes.
At the same time, there’s nothing that exciting about it either. It’s a movie that does what it does, but that’s about all that it does.
The strongest parts of the film are in the first third which dramatizes in often devastating detail the life of Maud Watts who works in a laundry. Here the women are paid less than the men (and do more work and have longer hours); endure horrifying working conditions; and are the victims of their bosses sexual predilections.
Maud is your everywoman here, great at her job, a loving mother and wife, reluctant to rock the boat, but equipped with a righteous conscious. In other words, everything the central character of a movie should be so as not to alienate the audience.
That’s perhaps a bit unfair because Carey Mulligan, who plays Maud, gives a very empathetic performance and makes her more than a construct.
But the film begins to lose its way in the second third as the suffragette movement starts taking center stage. It’s hard to say exactly why the movie starts flailing a bit here, except that the screenplay, perhaps, can’t seem to make the idea of women’s right to vote as compelling and interesting as their work and sexual exploitation. Continue reading

FANTASY ISLANDS: The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies and Into the Woods


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
hobbit battleThe latest entry of The Hobbit franchise is called The Battle of the Five Armies, and I guess I have to first say that I found the title a tad puzzling because I only counted four…armies, that is. There were elves, dwarves, man and orcs.
I guess the fifth comes about if you divide those orcky things into two different factions, but, I don’t know, that sorta felt like cheating to me.
At any rate, I think the story of J.R.R. Tolkien’s prequel to The Lord of the Rings could be used as a metaphor for filmmaker Peter Jackson and his production of this final installment of the adventures of a little person called Bilbo Baggins. Continue reading

WOMEN GONE WILD: The Homesman, Wild and Miss Julie


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
homesmanIt’s November, which means it’s that time of year: Oscar season is officially open. Ducks are now safe, but theater goers? Not so much maybe.
The season is especially serious for actresses since it is generally agreed that this has been one of those incredibly weak years for female leads in movies—or at least the types of leads that could receive a statuette—in America (overseas, the number of quality roles for women is still going strong, or at least much stronger than stateside).
I have recently seen three movies with actresses who have all been mentioned as possibilities for this year’s highest middle-brow prize in thespianic activity.
I was not particularly impressed, sorry to say.

Continue reading