My recommendations for film watching this week in L.A. 1/22-1/29/16


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 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. Only $2.99. http://ow.ly/xN31r,
 
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My recommendations for movie watching this week in L.A. 1/22-29/2016
ff lost soulsON NETFLIX: Lost Souls: The Doomed Journey of Richard Stanley’s Island of Dr. Moreau is a fascinating, but rather depressing, story about how a promising up and coming director, Richard Stanley (who had a cult following for his low budget horror films) found himself in over his head with his adaptation of H.G. Wells The Island of Dr. Moreau and was so embittered by the experience he almost completely withdrew from filmmaking. Filled with talking heads and behind the scenes footage, we see step by step how things quickly went wrong.
ff man bites dogON HULU: With three directors and four writers, Man Bites Dog is one of the funniest and darkest satires on found footage films (as well as one of the earliest). A film crew follows a serial killer as he adds to his victims. It’s a ridiculous premise, but it still works in all its vicious absurdity. Starring Benoit Poelvoorde as the racist murderer who loves to wax philosophic.
ff aferimFIRST RUN and OPENING: Aferim!, The Lady in the Van, Son of Saul, The Revenant, The Hateful Eight, Star Wars: the Force Awakens Continue reading

THE 2015 Howies


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

lobster poster
2015 was an oddly structured year when it came to the quality of movie releases. At the same time, I’m beginning to suspect that this might just become the status quo for a while.
The first few months, until the beginning of the release of the inevitable tentpole films (around the time of Mad Max making its appearance), the theaters tended to be filled with either the previous year’s Oscar movies (which I had seen) or movies that were being dumped because their producers had lost faith in them.
carol posterIt’s not that there wasn’t some gold here and there. Movies like Predestination and What We Do In the Shadows made their presence known. But overall, it was like pulling teeth to find a decent film to go to.
Then the blockbusters hit and with a vengeance. As usual, most weren’t very good, mediocre if we were lucky. At the same time, the quality was, on average, a bit better than usual with Mad Max, Spy and The Martian leading the pack.
spy posterThen fall hit, also with a vengeance, and all the distributors inundated the movie houses with their prestige pictures, and suddenly it was safe to go back to the theater again. Not that all of these lived up to their hype (cough, Steve Jobs, cough), but overall, the year ended with a nice selection of films to choose from for a best of list.
Let me know what you think.
So here are the 2015 Howies: Continue reading

My recommendations for film watching this week in L.A. 1/15-1/22/16


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 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. Only $2.99. http://ow.ly/xN31r,
 
And check out my script consultation services http://ow.ly/HPxKE
My recommendations for movie watching this week in L.A. 1/15-22/2016
out in the darkON NETFLIX: In Out in the Dark, an espionage thriller written by Yael Shafrir and Michael Mayer, who also directed, a gay Palestinian man is having an affair with an Israeli lawyer. When the Israeli secret police discover this, they take the Palestinian man in and threaten to reveal his sexual identify to his family if he doesn’t help them trap his brother who is working for the PLO. An exciting and taut drama.
balladON HULU: Ballad of a Soldier, made in 1959 after the thaw of Stalin, is the heartfelt story about a private who, after an act of bravery on the battlefield, gets leave to go home and see his mother, but hardly has time to get there and back. Written by Grigoriy Chukhray (who also directed) and Valentin Ezhov, it’s a get out your handkerchiefs story, but it earns its sentimentally validly as it traces the soldiers attempts to reach home and the people he runs into on the way.
lady in the vanFIRST RUN and OPENING: The Lady in the Van, Son of Saul, Band of Robbers, The Revenant, The Hateful Eight, Star Wars: the Force Awakens Continue reading

My recommendations for film watching this week in L.A. 12/25-1/1/15


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 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. Only $2.99. http://ow.ly/xN31r,

 

And check out my script consultation services http://ow.ly/HPxKE

My recommendations for movie watching this week in L.A. 12/25-1/1/15

djangoON NETFLIX: Now that The Hateful Eight has opened, for those of you who missed Django Unchained, perhaps it’s time to play catch up. Written and directed by Quentin Tarantino (natch), it’s the story of a slave turned bounty hunter (Jamie Foxx) with the help of Oscar winning Christoph Waltz. Also along for the ride is Leonard DiCaprio, Samuel L. Jackson (who else), Bruce Dern, Walton Goggins and James Remar (to name just a few). A bit overlong (it has a false ending), but still a fun watch.

red beardON HULU: Akira Kurosawa’s 1965 film Red Beard (his last in black and white) is basically the same story as Dr. Kildare and many other movies about doctors, but with so much more depth and vibrancy that it’s ridiculous to compare the two. It’s also Toshiro Mifune’s last film with the great director (personal and artistic reasons caused the split). With some incredible acting by the supporting characters, perhaps some of the best in a Kurosawa film.

revenantFIRST RUN and OPENING: The Revenant, The Hateful Eight, Joy, Concussion, Son of Saul, Star Wars: the Force Awakens Continue reading

My recommendations for film watching this week in L.A. 12/18-25/15


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 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. Only $2.99. http://ow.ly/xN31r,

 

And check out my script consultation services http://ow.ly/HPxKE

 

My recommendations for movie watching this week in L.A. 12/18-25/15

tangerine oneON NETFLIX: Tangerine, written by Chris Bergoch and the director Sean Baker, is a marvelous independent film about a transgendered woman and working girl who spends her Christmas Even hunting down her pimp when she finds out he cheated on her while she was in prison. Funny, moving and marvelous acted, this is one of the best films of 2015. Kitana Kiki Rodriguez and Mya Taylor are wonderful as the two best friends at the center of the story.

cadillac

ON HULU: Underappreciated at the time of its release, Cadillac Man is one of Robin Williams’ best performances. In this manic comedy written by Ken Friedman and directed by Roger Donaldson, Williams is a used car salesman whose boss has put an impossible quota on those who work for him. But interrupting the day is a relative early Tim Robbins who crashes the sale and holds everyone at gunpoint because his girlfriend is sleeping with someone at the lot. Hysterical.

saul twoFIRST RUN and OPENING: Son of Saul, Star Wars: the Force Awakens, He Never Died, Dreams Rewired, (T)ERROR, The Big Short, Ingrid Bergman in Her Own Words, Chi-Raq, Theeb, Youth, Creed, Brooklyn, Carol Continue reading

THE GOOD, THE NOT SO BAD AND THE UGLY: AFI Films, Part I-The Clan, Mustang and Son of Saul


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

 

saul twoAs regular as Thanksgiving, the AFI Film Festival has come and gone. And as regular as Thanksgiving, I over gorged myself.
This year I actually did rather well. Out of the thirteen, count ‘em, thirteen movies I saw, six I would highly recommend, five I felt were okay, and two I thought to be absolutely abysmal
Three of the films are currently a country’s entry in the Foreign Language Film Category for the Academy Awards: The Clan from Argentina; Mustang from France; and Son of Saul from Hungary.
The Clan is a crime film with slight, and in my opinion, not enough, overtones of a political drama.
Based on a true story, written by Julian Loyola, Esteban Student and the director Pablo Trapero (he also directed Caroncho, which was Argentine’s 2011 entry for the Oscars), the film tells the story of the Puccio family. The pater familias, Arquimedes, once worked for the secret police, the ones responsible for making the word “disappeared” into a noun by adding a “the” to the front of it. Continue reading