CHARACTERSCURA: The Hero and Moscow Never Sleeps


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
Warning: SPOILERS
Sam Elliott, the go to guy to cast as a love interest for older women, has a somewhat limited acting range. His technique, generally speaking, is of him taking a stance, cocking his head a bit, and delivering a line with a twinkle his eye. And there often seems to be very little variation on this approach.
But you know what?
I don’t care. I just love seeing him on the screen. Maybe it’s his mellifluous voice that could calm a tornado (somewhat satirized here in the opening and closing as he does a voice over for a BBQ ad). Maybe it’s his sincerity. Maybe it’s just his ability to be on the screen with seemingly little effort.
I just like him. Continue reading

GROWING UP IS HARD TO DO: The Tribe and Me and Earl and the Dying Girl


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
tribeThe Tribe is a new Ukrainian film in which all the characters are deaf and speak in sign language (and not just any ole sign language, but a particular Ukrainian dialect of sign language, which means, from what I understand, that of those of you who can read western European sign language, only 20% will be able to understand it).
But as presented by writer/director Miroslav Slaboshpitsky, it is also a movie in which there are no subtitles. Which means, most of you will probably never really know exactly what anyone is saying.
In other words, The Tribe is a silent film without intertitles. The only sound, in fact, is that of the ambient kind (I can’t even recall the use of music in the background). Slaboshpitsky even exaggerates this sound of feet shuffling down corridors, body parts slamming into each other while having sex or conversations, doors creaking; one might go so far as to say that the ambient sound used here is, well, extremely ambienty.
At first, I found this to be an interesting aesthetic exercise. And people have reacted very positively to it. When I first heard about it at AFI last year, people were very excited and kept recommending it. It has won some very prestigious awards (including three at Cannes). And when I saw it in Los Angeles at the Cinefamily at the Silent Movie Theater, it was a sold out crowd on a Sunday night.
At the same time, other AFIers expressed certain doubts about the film and I fear I must be honest and say I also have some of those selfsame reservations. Continue reading

OF MICE AND FRENCHMEN: ERNEST & CELESTINE and MAUVAIS SANG


ernest-and-celestine-2012-snoutypig-004In Ernest & Celestine, the Oscar nominated animated film from France, anthropomorphized bears dwell above ground, live like humans (one owns a candy store), and claim that mice fairies will come by in the night and leave money whenever a cub loses a tooth.
Meanwhile, anthropomorphized mice dwell in the sewers and steal bear teeth to use as dentures. Continue reading

JAUNTY AND WITTY AND GAY: THE MONUMENTS MEN and DATE AND SWITCH


596e67fb-12a3-4e02-9512-88a162ead196_monumentsmen_featurette_gsAs I watched The Monuments Men, the new George Clooney film about trying to save stolen art during World War II, the word that kept coming to my mind was “jaunty”. Yes.  It’s a very…jaunty movie, with a, well, jaunty plot, and jaunty characters played by jaunty actors and all backed by a very jaunty score, a wonderful bit of musicality by the wonderful Alexandre Desplat that kept reminding me of the Colonel Bogey march from The Bridge on the River Kwai—it’s that jaunty. Continue reading