HERMAN MELVILLE IN A SUB and CHEKHOV IN TURKEY: Black Sea and Winter Sleep


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Warning: SPOILERS
black seaAfter WWII, Germany was being fought over by the Western Powers (England, France and the U.S.) and the Russians. They ended up splitting the country in half, in a riff on that Solomon and baby thing.
In Black Sea, a new action film written by Dennis Kelly and directed by Kevin McDonald, cold war politics come back to haunt the characters as a submarine crew made up of equal parts British and Russian go on the hunt for some Nazi gold with the goal of splitting it between the two.
The more things change, the more they stay the same.
Before I continue, I should reemphasize how I start these reviews: Warning: SPOILERS.
I feel I should do this because there will be spoilers. My god, will there be spoilers, spoilers galore. They will flow like the River Nile and spray the canvas like the drops flung forth from a fighter’s broken nose during a Mixed Martial Arts bout.
They will flow because I found the plot to Black Sea to be one of the most preposterous ones I’ve come across in some time. Continue reading

BITCH, BITCH, BITCH: Gone 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

Warning: SPOILERS
gone girlAmy Dunne, the heroine of the new Gillian Flynn/David Fincher thriller Gone Girl, is the latest in a long line of movie heroines.
Well, that’s not true. I don’t think the line is that long. It sort of vaguely dates from around the 1970’s.
It began somewhere around the mid of that decade with Nurse Ratched in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and continued on with Diana Christensen in Network; Alex Forrest in Fatal Attraction; Annie Wilkes in Misery; Carolyn Burnham in American Beauty; Debbie in Knocked Up (and similar comedies); and many, many, many, many others. Many.
Yes, Amy Dunne comes from a long line of cinematic bitches. However, we may have now reached a new peak in Hollywoodland. Ms. Dunne has the dubious distinction of possibly being the Queen Bitch of all filmdom.

 

No, I’m going to correct that. Using the language of the movie, she is not the Queen Bitch of all Queen Bitches. She is the Queen Cunt of all Queen Bitches. She is one step up from bitch. Continue reading

HEAD CASES: Life of Crime and Frank


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
Life-Of-Crime-Movie-Trailer-635x316If it is true, as people say, that films influence how we act, then I’m not sure why people are still in the kidnapping biz. I mean, if there is one thing movies have taught us, from Fargo to High and Low to Taken to Misery, that kidnapping thingy just never works out well for those who take to it.
And now we have Life of Crime, written and directed by Daniel Schechter (based on a novel by the immensely popular as well as well respected author Elmore Leonard titled The Switch), the latest variation on the O’Henry short story, The Ransom of Red Chief, in which someone is kidnapped whom the one being extorted the ransom would be just as happy if they were never returned. Continue reading

IT’S RAINING MANLY MEN: The Rover and Policeman


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
“Okay, too much testosterone around here for me.” Tyler Ann Endicott, Point Break
Two movies have just opened that filled me with much relief that smellovision never caught on. Both films are jam-packed to the brim with characters so masculine they ooze hormones to the extent their odor would grow hair on your chest if it was released into the auditorium.
rover-In the new Australian thriller The Rover, written and directed by David (Animal Kingdom) Michod from a story by Michod and Joel Edgerton (yes, that Joel Edgerton), it’s ten years after “the collapse”, a catastrophe that is never (to the movie’s credit) clearly defined, but has resulted in a Down Under that is in a near state of anarchy with the military standing in for the police; gas and food in short supply; the American dollar being the only trusted currency (hey, it could happen); and nobody seeming to have taken a bath in years. Continue reading