THE FRENCH ARE COMING, THE FRENCH ARE COMING: Lolo, Valley of Love and My Golden Days


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
rev 1COLCOA, the incredible film festival of new French cinema (as well as some classics), will be starting in a couple of weeks.  But while you may be waiting in baited breath for it (well, I am), you don’t have to wait that long to see Gallic cinema.  A few films from the land of Truffaut and Godard have opened in Los Angeles in the last few weeks.
They are opening now between the months of January (where the movies are mainly the leftovers from the Oscar noms and those movies the studios wish to bury) and June (or whatever month is the one where the tentpole films will be thrust upon us).  Translated, this means the time period when strong, introspective and personal films can make their appearance before they are gulped up and spit out by billion dollar movies as if they were a character in Jaws.
Lola, the new French rom com written by Eugenie Grandvil (a first feature) and the director Julie Delpy, has more than a passing resemblance to the Duplass brothers’ American comedy Cyrus, starring John C. Reilly, Marisa Tomei and Jonah Hill (in the title role).  In both, the young son of an unattached mother tries to ruin any chance she may have of a relationship.  Continue reading

GROWING UP IS HARD TO DO: Theeb, The Peanuts Movie and The Night Before


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

theebTheeb is Jordan’s entry in the Foreign Language Film category at this year’s Academy Awards.

I think that it was stated best by one movie critic I heard on NPR: If you only see one Jordanian film this year, this is definitely the one to see.

Theeb is a first rate coming of age story. It’s what one might term a big little film. The plot in many ways is simple, but the background at times, the vast deserts, the wide vistas, the looming mountains, the huge backdrop of nothingness seen against an endless sky, gives it the feeling of a Lawrence of Arabia, Jr. (and parts of that movie were filmed on location there). Continue reading

NICE WORK IF YOU CAN GET IT and PRAVDA: Steve Jobs and Truth


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
steve jobsThere’s a moment in Steve Jobs, the new biopic written by Aaron Sorkin and directed by Danny Boyle, when Steve Wozniak (who, it is suggested here, seemed to have done most of, if not all, the work on the Apple Computer which is what brought fame first to Jobs) lists all the things that Jobs cannot and did not do (such as write code). When he finished, Wozniak asks what seems to be one of the most appropriate questions of the entire film: Just what do you do?
In response, Jobs says that he’s the conductor that plays the orchestra.
Fair enough. But then I so wanted Wozniak to ask the obvious follow up question: So why do you get all the credit when you haven’t really done any of the essential work?
Because think about it. Quick, name five conductors off the top of your head. No, don’t google it, just do it. When I did, all I came up with was Bernstein, Toscanini and Stokowski. Now, quick, name ten composers who created the music these conductors, well, conducted? I immediately zipped through Bach, Beethoven, Brahms, Mozart, Tchaikovsky, Wagner, Copland, Verdi, Liszt and Stravinsky.
This last is especially interesting since at one point Jobs compares himself to Stravinsky, when to really be fully parallel, in this metaphor he’s Serge Koussevitsky. Who is Koussevitsky, you ask? He was the conductor at the premier of the riot inducing The Rite of Spring.
Never heard of him, right?
Exactly. That’s because conductors don’t create art, they interpret it. That is why the composer gets the credit, not the conductor.
If one was of a suspicious nature, one might wonder if sneaky little Aaron Sorkin wasn’t, in these scenes, taking more than a few potshots at film directors. After all, what do they do? Generally speaking, they don’t write the screenplay; they don’t design the costumes and sets; they don’t edit; they don’t create the cinematography; they don’t write the music; they don’t act; they don’t provide the money for it. Continue reading

THE ROAD TO PYONGPANG: The Interview


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
interviewAbout a third of the way through the new, and unexpectedly controversial comedy, The Interview, I had this odd feeling of déjà vu, as if there was something strangely familiar about the movie.
And then I realized what it was: The Interview, the movie about a celebrity interviewer (with a wicked, fun moment when Eminem comes out of the closet) and his producer who get a chance to go mano a mano with the leader of North Korea, is basically a Road movie.
And by that, I don’t mean one of those sub-genres about two people who get in a car and keep driving and driving encountering various eccentrics along the way until you’re begging for a lobotomy.
No, this is basically a modern day version of a group of movies made famous by Bob Hope, Bing Crosby and Dorothy Lamour (The Road to Singapore, The Road to Zanzibar, The Road to Utopia, et al.), in which two contrasting characters have a bromance as they make their way through a series of ridiculous adventures. Continue reading

ANNOYING, ANNOYINGER, ANNOYINGEST: Neighbors and Locke


Neighbors-Movie-Review-Image-6I remember seeing the semi-classic frat comedy Animal House when it opened some thirty-six years ago (god, thirty-six years, excuse me while I go shoot myself). I can still recall Bluto, played by John Belushi, screaming, “Christ. Seven years of college down the drain”.
I don’t think that I will have any such memory of the new frat comedy Neighbors.
Yes, that’s right, dear readers. I did not care for this film. That officially makes me, I suppose, the fuddy duddy party pooper Mr. Wilson who has lost all sense of humor and does nothing but scream at little kids to get off his lawn. But it’s true. Neighbors never remotely worked for me. Continue reading