O WHAT A TANGLED WEB WE WEAVE: Baby Driver and Spider-Man: Homecoming


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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. 
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Warning: SPOILERS
I can certainly see why people are so in love with Baby Driver, the new heist film from writer/director Edgar Wright. It’s about as stylish as you can get, and with a stylishness that has a bouncy feel good quality to it that gets you to sit up in your seat, tap your foot and just generally groove out.
It begins with a bank robbery and a car chase orchestrated to a song chosen by the title character (a getaway driver with pouty lips and baby face). It’s followed soon after by a one take with said character bopping down the street to another song, barely dodging people on the street, and backed by some nice gymnastics (this is important because there comes a time when suddenly he’s bumping into people right and left, signaling a sea change within the character).
Everything is calculated and carefully choreographed to be cool and hip. And it is pretty cool. In fact, the movie is not only pretty cool, it’s fully aware as to how cool it is and revels in this coolness to such an extent that it knows that the audience knows that it knows just how cool it is. Continue reading

LOSING OUR RELIGION: Spotlight


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

 

spotlight 1I am the first to admit that the Oscars are rarely given to the finest in the art of film, but much more likely to the loftiest of middlebrow entertainment (with some edginess thrown in on occasion for good measure).
At the same time, I think we do have one thing to be grateful for when it comes to the Academy. Since the balloting closes the first of the year, more and more, fall and early winter leaves behind the cheek of tan, tent pole blockbusters of summer (films forced into as many of the four quadrants as it may fit) and gives way to producers who, like the changing colors of leaves, turn to releasing their prestige pictures, the ones they believe have the best chance at garnering the attention of the gold statuette who hides his genitals with a sword.
These films are the ones that producers and studio executives feel they don’t have to apologize or make excuses for and instead can brag that they actually had a hand in their making.
One of these films, Spotlight (or All the Cardinal’s Men as a friend of mine called it) is now being spoken of as the one to beat come spring. And, taking everything into consideration, they could certainly do far worse, because, however else you may feel about it, Spotlight is the epitome of middlebrow taste, and, even better, is crackerjack entertainment. Continue reading

THERE ARE NO SMALL PARTS: Magic Mike XXL and Minions


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Warning: SPOILERS
minions 2It’s not that common, but it’s also not completely unusual, for a supporting or minor character from a movie to be given a film of their own. This is more likely to happen in TV with spinoffs of popular TV series (Frazier, anyone?), but it does happen in tinsel town as well.
In Dead End, the Dead End Kids got their own franchise and when they grew up, they become The Bowery Boys. In The Egg and I, two of the minor characters, Ma and Pa Kettle, got their own series as well.
And in The White Sheik, Cabiria, a prostitute, via Federico Fellini, got her own vehicle in Nights of Cabiria; Ensign Pulver became the title character in the sequel to Mister Roberts (well, to be fair, Roberts was no longer around); and Ingmar Bergman’s From the Life of the Marionettes brings front and center the bickering couple who appear in the first episode of Scenes from a Marriage.
So in the past couple of weeks we’ve seen two more examples of the selfsame approach, though with a different emphasis in each outing and with much different results. Continue reading

MAN ON THE VERGE OF A NERVOUS BREAKDOWN: Birdman (or the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)


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
birdmanMichael Keaton’s career has been what I would call somewhat unusual. He hit his stride early with the movie Beetlejuice and Clean and Sober and then was cast as Batman (and today is still many people’s favorite wing man). He looked like an actor on the rise.
Then after that? Well, I’m not sure how to describe it, but he seemed to do whatever he could to not go the way of fellow thespians like Jim Carrey and Adam Sandler, constantly required to star in the same kind of over the top, often obnoxious comedies that made fortunes at the box office (at least for a time) while trying to make more “meaningful” films on the side.
Instead, Keaton seemed to flee iconic roles and try to define himself as a more serious performer. But in the years since those early parts, it felt more like he was trying to find characters to play that would define him as an actor, rather than succeeding in actually reinventing himself. Continue reading