SPIRIT GUIDES: Doctor Strange and Hacksaw Ridge


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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
rev-3Two films have opened of late with heroes who tune into spiritual forces for guidance in their lives, forces outside the natural world around us.
The first is Doctor Strange, the latest, for those of you who have moved to Mars, Marvel comic book hero, a Rodney Dangerfield of a character because he never gets any respect from devoted Marvel readers. When they muse over why this movie may not be quite as good as others in the canon, they sigh and tend to say, well, he only appeared in the back of the comic, you know.
And they are to some degree correct in their assessment. Certainly Doctor Strange the film doesn’t come up to the level of the original Iron Man or some of the X-Men movies. But it’s not as bad as they claim either. 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
 
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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

STAR TURNS: Southpaw and Mr. Holmes


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
 
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Warning: SPOILERS
southpaw oneI’m not about to say that director Antoine Fuqua is a great filmmaker by any means. But he is a solid craftsman of pieces of entertainment, perhaps one of the best around today. His films are technically impressive, satisfactorily written and they deliver the goods.
And Southpaw is no exception. It’s a movie that doesn’t take you anyplace new (in fact, it takes you to a myriad of places you’ve been before). And when it comes to, say, boxing movies, I don’t think it’s an insult to say he’s no Martin Scorsese (Raging Bull) or John Huston (Fat City).
At the same time, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed if all you want to do is spend a couple of hours being amused, diverted and distracted. And actually, if truth be told, Southpaw is probably a bit better than that.
I do think the main reason for this, as if I have to tell you, is the performance of Jake Gyllenhaal as the lead character Billy Hope (Hope?, really? Okay, sure why not). Striving very hard to be taken seriously as an actor since his Oscar nominated performance in Brokeback Mountain, he has pushed the boundaries of the types of character he plays in movies from Jarhead to Zodiac to his magnificent tour de force last year in the creepy, creepy Nightcrawler. Continue reading

Is There Balm in Gilead: Aloha and Love & Mercy


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

 

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Warning: SPOILERS
alohaI’m not sure that I can really add to the general response to the movie Aloha (it’s 20% at rottentomatoes.com and I don’t think the box office is of the more optimistic size), but far be it from me not to join in and kick a man while he’s down.
About three quarters of the way through the new rom com written and directed by Cameron Crowe (who also gave us the very good Almost Famous, Say Anything and Singles, but not much else since except for, well, Jerry “Show me the money” McGuire, but, no, I’ll stick with not much else since, thanks), I turned to my friend Jim and said, “I’m sorry, but I have to be honest: I have no idea what’s going on here”.
Jim laughed and sighed in relief because he had no more of a clue than I did.
The plot eventually does make sense; well, within the context of a not particularly well written movie it makes sense, but overall, as a piece of writing, it really makes little sense at all. Continue reading

A STUDY IN SCARLET and TALES OF HOFFMAN: Lucy and A Most Wanted Man


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
lucyRicky Ricardo: Lucy’s actin’ crazy. Fred Mertz: Crazy for Lucy, or crazy for ordinary people?
                                                                           I Love Lucy
First, I must begin by being absolutely clear so that everyone knows where I stand. Lucy, the new sci-fi thriller written and directed by French filmmaker (and some people use that term loosely in this context) Luc Besson is a terrible film.
I mean, c’mon. You know it. I know it. We all know it’s terrible. It’s silly, nonsensical, preposterous, absurd, often makes no sense and is not remotely believable, even for an unrealistic fantasy sci-fi thriller.
Which is also, in m any ways, a redundant way to state it because, well, gees, I mean, c’mon, it’s a Besson film, for Christ’s sake.
But with that being said, it may very well be a…dare I say it…I dare…great terrible movie. Continue reading