REMEMBRANCE OF THINGS PAST: Lion and Jackie


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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
rev-4About a third of the way through Lion, the new film from director Garth David (he worked on the TV series Top of the Lake) and screenwriter Luke Davies (Candy), the central character, Saroo, has a Proustian moment when he sees a plate of jelebies, a lusciously bright red sweet popular in India. He suddenly has a memory of being a boy less than six years old, deeply desiring such a confection while out working with his older brother in a remote Indian city.
This has a profound effect on him, because as a child he got separated from his brother and ended up on a train that took him to New Delhi where he ended up in an orphanage, subsequently adopted by an Australian couple.
He hasn’t thought about his early life much at all. He doesn’t even really consider himself Indian. But the rush of memory has a profound existential effect on him and he becomes obsessed with finding his way back to his birth mother and family. Continue reading

IT’S A DISASTER: The Magnificent Seven and Deepwater Horizon


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
Warning: SPOILERS
rev-1Two films have opened as of late which have disaster in common. One falls into that genre and one almost is one.
There is one transcendent moment in the most recent version of The Magnificent Seven. It comes at the end as the credits begin by showing each of the characters. At this point, behind them, one can here the incredibly epic score by Elmer Bernstein from the 1960 version. It’s stirring, splendid, glorious, stunning…
Unfortunately, this tiny fraction of the movie only really ended up serving one purpose: it clearly reminded the audience of the earlier version, and not to the benefit of the present one, and only went to show how bland and uninteresting the music is when it comes to James Horner and Simon Franklin’s score for this Western remake of a remake (yes, it apparently took two people to come up with something so dull). Continue reading

THE GAMES PEOPLE PLAY: Pawn Sacrifice and The New Girl Friend


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
pawn sacrifice oneI do remember, somewhat vaguely it must be admitted, when the notorious and neurotic (to be polite) Bobby Fischer played Russian behemoth Boris Spassky for the world Grand Master of Chess back in 1972.
The portrait that was being painted of Fischer by many in the media at the time was of someone who was acting outrageously, unreasonably and very, very strangely in order to out-psyche his blindsided opponent. In other words, everyone thought there was a method to Fischer’s madness.
But writer Steven Knight and director Edward Zwick, in their version of the match in their new film Pawn Sacrifice, take a different approach. In their perspective, Fischer came by his outrageousness honestly. According to Knight and Zwick, Fischer’s actions were the result of some pretty serious mental issues rather than fully conscious choices.
In other words, while everyone, including Spassky, thought that Fischer was playing Hamlet, in reality, he’s the guy in the hospital who thinks he really is Hamlet.
And they make a pretty good case for it. Continue reading

FUHGEDDABOUDIT: Coming Home and Black Mass


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
In 1942, Ronald Colman played a character so shell shocked by the trenches of World War I that he walked out of the hospital where he was recovering, having no idea who he was.
He was taken in by a singer in a vaudeville house (Greer Garson), fell in love and the two married. Then years later, he suddenly, out of nowhere, remembered who he really was, but totally forget that his wife existed. He discovers he’s the scion of a wealthy family and eventually runs for political office, not knowing that his secretary is actually his wife.
This movie is Random Harvest and is perhaps the most romantic and delirious use of amnesia in film. But amnesia has always been a useful tool of storytelling, whether romantic (here and in Law of Desire) or in thrillers (Mr. Budwing and Mirage) or comedy (The Hangover and 50 First Dates).
coming homeComing Home, written by Jingzhi Zou and directed by Yimou Zhang, falls into the more melodramatic end of the spectrum like Random Harvest. It’s unabashedly sentimental and relishes in a sort of 1930’s studio romanticism tone and style, though the grittiness makes it more Warner Brothers than MGM. Continue reading

WHERE’S THE REST OF ME: The Signal and Night Moves


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
Signal_Two movies have opened that seem to have never heard of the rule that today your screenplay must begin with a grabber scene, it simply has to. You know, something that happens in the first ten pages that attacks the face and thrusts its whatever it was down your throat like that creature in Alien?
Instead the filmmakers seem to feel that the slow build, the taking the time to create context for the characters and the situation, the use of an approach that invites us along for the ride rather than assaults us, is the more effective way to go.  Wow, what a concept. Continue reading