NEW FILMMAKERS SEE THIS FILM: Midnight Special


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Warning: SPOILERS
rev 2Midnight Special, the new neo-noir/sci-fi film, opens at night with a throbbing music score backed by hypnotic drums.  It grabs you by your neck and just won’t let go for the next ninety minutes.  At first, the story seems to be about the abduction of a little boy, but it soon becomes clear that it’s much more complicated than that.  The boy was adopted by the leader of a religious cult that makes its base in a private compound in Texas and the ones who have taken the boy from them is the boy’s biological father and the father’s closest friend.
So what is really going on and why do so many people treat this child as if the future of the human race depended on him?  And why are the FBI after him as well?
Midnight Special is the sort of film every aspiring screenwriter, director and producer should be seeing, but I often suspect aren’t.  It should be studied and emulated. That is, if you really want a future in the industry, whether your goal is the tent pole films of a major studio, or the more personal films that one sees on the independent circuit. Continue reading

SOUL SEARCHING: Knight of Cups and Confirmation


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 1 Knight of Cups, the new film from art house fave writer/director Terence Malick, begins with some excerpts from John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress, spoken, I believe, in the dulcet tones of Sir John Gielgud.  The Pilgrim’s Progress is an allegory about a man who is weighed down by his sin and must seek a path to righteousness, but he finds many dangers, toils and snares along the way. 
I suppose the allegory in that classic is supposed to also be an allegory for Rick, the central character in Malick’s drama, and his journey.  Rick is a screenwriter who basically just drifts from place to place, observing the world he encounters while avoiding screenwriting as much as possible.  It’s sort of like a movie by Federico Fellini, 8 ½ or La Dolce Vita, character studies of a men who are spiritually lost or have writer’s block, set against dwarfing architecture and a somewhat impressionistic view of the local’s lives.
I have to say I liked Knight of Cups, though I also have to say I’m surprised that I did.  In Malick’s last film To The Wonder, the filmmaker told an almost impossible to understand story, made almost impossible to understand because it was not told in chronological order.  And since you were spending so much time just trying to understand what was going on, it was difficult to become emotionally involved in the movie.  And it didn’t help that when you did figure it out, it was a pretty bland and banal story line.

Continue reading

THE DEVIL MADE HIM DO IT: Horns and St. Vincent


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
hornsHorns, the new supernatural, fantasy, horror, neo-noir written by Keith Bunin and directed by Alexandre Aja, has a clever, if not neat, little concept.
A young man, Ig Perrish, universally hated in the small town he lives in (for good reason, in many ways, since he’s accused of killing his long time girlfriend Merrin), grows a pair of devil’s horns which causes everyone he meets to confess their deepest desires and even fulfill them, no matter how awful they may be, if the young man gives them permission.
And there are some clever scenes here and there as these normal on the outside, white picket fence, Sunday go to meeting citizens suddenly revel in their cravings to carry out their secret, if often perverse, yearnings.
But in the end, the movie never really comes together and gets bogged down in what may seem an extraneous through line concerning the rape and murder of said girlfriend.
I’m not sure why everyone felt the need to make the story a murder mystery. It’s that way in the novel by Joe Hill (son of Stephen King), so I can’t really blame Bunin and Aja. But this aspect of the story only seems to get in the way of what really works here, this look into the hearts of darkness of people you originally thought were just a few steps up from pod people. Continue reading