3 Women: Personal Shopper, Ghost in the Shell and Beauty and the Beast


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
Kristen Stewart, as far as I was concerned, did not have a particularly auspicious start in films as an actress. She came to fame by making big movies. But I found the Twilight series, and her acting, impossible to watch (I couldn’t get through the first in the franchise). She followed that up with Snow White and the Huntsman, which I did manage to get through, but definitely no thanks to Stewart’s underwhelming performance.
Then something happened. She became good. I was astounded, but still it happened.
This came to pass around the time she made Still Alice and The Clouds of Sils Maria (for which she became the first American to win a César award for acting-here in the supporting actress category). Continue reading
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FINDING ONE’S VOICE: Sing and Slash


For questions: hcasner@aol.com
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-1Sing is an animated comedy about a koala bear producer about to lose his theater to the bank. To save his theater he comes up with what he seems to think is the most brilliant and original concept ever in the history of furrykind, though original and brilliant are very loosely defined here. He will hold a singing competition (now, I know that stories like this do take place in alternative universes, but it may still be a bit hard to believe no one has come up with American Idol, The Voice, or even Ted Mack’s Original Amateur Hour yet).
But actually, it’s not that bad an idea on the koala’s part. And in the end, there is nothing that wrong with the film. It’s perfectly pleasant and fun at times.
At the same time, it never really grabs hold of you either. Continue reading

LONG DIVISION: Captain America: Civil War


First, a word from our sponsors: I have just launched the indiegogo campaign for my short film 14 Conversations in 10 Minutes. Check it out http://ow.ly/SblO3005HHu.  Below is a video sample of the short. Think about contributing (the lowest contribution is only $5.00). Please view and share anywhere and everywhere.

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?  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 1It takes a while for the new superhero movie Captain America: Civil War to reach the scene that everyone has paid their hard earned bucks to see: a knock down drag out between the two sides of the Avengers, one headed by Iron Man and one headed by the titular hero.

 

But when it gets there, it proves to be more than worth the wait.

 

Let’s just say, it ain’t your parents’ Sharks versus the Jets.

 

In fact it’s one of the wittiest and smartest over the top superhero fight scenes we are likely to see for some time.  It’s not just the dialog that is clever and earns its laughs, it’s also the way the fight plays out, which character gets pitted against which and how their superpower works against each other. There’s such a slick smoothness here, as if the planning of it was completely effortless; everything just fits together so well. Continue reading

IT’S A JUNGLE OUT THERE: Movie Reviews of Demolition and The Jungle Book by Howard Casner


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 1For the first third of the new drama Demolition, Jake Gyllenhaal plays Davis,  a man whose wife recently died in a traumatic car crash, one which he witnessed (he was in the passenger seat beside her).
After the accident, he starts acting, well, somewhat odd.  He doesn’t seem to show any emotion or even grieve in any way.  He returns to work earlier than expected.  He distances himself from a scholarship his father-in-law wants to create in his daughter’s name.
But most important, at least in terms of the story, after a candy machine refuses to give him his order, he starts writing to the customer service department of the manufacturer.  However, he doesn’t just air his grievance, he also spills his real feelings about his wife and what is happening to him. Continue reading

I’M READY FOR MY CLOSEUP, MR. DEMILLE: Hail, Caesar!


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 3Hail, Caesar!, the latest comic satire from Joel and Ethan Coen, is one of those films that has so much that is right with it, plus a bit more that is brilliant, that it makes it all the more disappointing that it doesn’t quite come together.
The basic premise has as its center piece one Eddie Mannix (Josh Brolin), head of production at the fictional Hollywood studio Capital Pictures (the same studio that the Brothers used in Barton Fink). Over the course of one or two days, he has a difficult decision to make: should he remain at Capitol where he’s constantly having to put out fires both large and small and is constantly confronted by the insane antics of his stars, or will he take a position as head of Lockheed, a safe position with a guaranteed future (this is the 1950’s after all, and TV is more than making its presence known), fewer hours and less stress on the nerves?
Well, so far so good. Continue reading

AVENGERS ONE, SMALL DEFENSELESS EASTERN EUROPEAN TOWN, ZERO: Avengers: Age of Ultron


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
avengers ultron 1It seems that after razing New York City to the earth more than a few times, the makers of movies from Marvel comics have now decided to turn their eyes on a smaller, more defenseless municipality in the fictional Easter European nation of Sokovia, smashing it to smithereens in the new tentpole film Avengers: Age of Ultron.
And one really has to feel for this poor little town. Not only has it survived World War I, World War II and the Holocaust, the Cold War occupation (under Stalin, even) and the difficult adjustment after the fall of the USSR, it once again is going to be ravaged, this time by a man made robot with sentience.
I mean, I don’t know what this city did to piss off writer/director Joss Whedon, but it must have been really something. It really gets the shit kicked out of it.
The basic premise of …Ultron is that age old trope of this is what happens when man tries to play god. In this variation on the theme, Tony Stark creates an AI to protect humankind from dangers of all kinds. But in true Colossus: The Forbin Project fashion, Ultron, the AI, very quickly, and probably very wisely and logically, realizes that humankind is most in danger from, well, itself and decides to take over to save us from us. Continue reading

THE HOWIES or THE BEST IN FILM 2014


legoWell, it’s that time of the year again, when lists must be made to give meaning to all the time spent going to movies the year before rather than doing things like joining Doctors Without Borders or trying to find a cure for cancer or sharing memes of kittens on facebook.
No matter what anyone tells you, this is the endgame of film watching, to create order out of chaos, to reach conclusions from randomness, to give deeper meaning to something that in many ways has little meaning except the attending in the first place.
But we’re human and it’s what we do.
However, before getting to the nitty-gritty, I would like to first make a few observations about the state of cinema these days based on the films I saw last year. Continue reading