My recommendations for movie watching this week in L.A. 9/18-9/25/2015


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. 9/18-9/25/2015
hackersON NETFLIX: Let’s go retro this Friday by recommending Rafael Moreu and Iain Softley’s 1995 Hackers, a thriller that pits a group of overaged teens who are experts at computers against a super villain. The film introduced many of us to Johnny Lee Miller and Angelina Jolie and also includes a very, very funny Matthew Lillard. A neat little film that was underrated at the time and deserves a second look.
tokyo twilightON HULU: Kogo Noda and Yasujio Ozu’s 1957 Tokyo Twilight is perhaps Ozu’s most melodramatic and tragic film and was, as I understand it, a critical and box office failure. Well, mistakes happen. A little long, but still a deeply moving film about two sisters who are having relationship problems; one has left her husband because he drinks too much and can’t get his life together and the other is pregnant by her boyfriend who she has a hard time finding. Beautiful and touching, it stars two of Ozu’s stalwarts, Chishu Ryu and Setsuko Hara.
reunion 1A Reunion, Hernando Bansuelo, Michael Lovan and Josh Watson’s story of two estranged friends traveling to their college reunion, opens for a one week run at the Laemmle Music Box. I did an interview with Bansuelo and Watson for my Hey! We All Had To Start Somewhere series and can be found at http://ow.ly/SoCyd.
black massFIRST RUN and OPENING: Black Mass, Sicario, Sleeping With Other People, Pawn Sacrifice, The New Girlfriend, A Brilliant Young Mind, Breathe, Goodnight Mommy, Coming Home, The Visit, Grandma, Straight Outta Compton, Diary of a Teenage Girl, The Second Mother Continue reading

My recommendations for movie watching this week in L.A. 9/11-9/18/2015


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. 9/11-9/18/2015
dear white peopleON NETFLIX: Writer/director Justin Simien’s Dear White People is a funny, witty, tongue in cheek, but not really, look at racism in a “post-racist” society. Four black students, one gay, navigate the difficulty of a majority white Ivy League college and what happens when some white students throw a black face party. Taylor James Williams, Everybody Hates Chris’ Chris; Tessa Thompson; Kyle Gallner; Teyonah Parris; and Brandon P. Bell help make up the first rate ensemble cast. One of the best films of 2014.
carnivalON HULU: Jaques Feyder and Bernard Zimmer’s 1935 comedy Carnival in Flanders is an absolutely delightful and incredibly beautiful film set in 1616 Flanders when a Spanish Duke and his army decide to spend the night in a small Flemish town. Terrified the village will be pillaged, the woman raped and the men killed, the menfolk panic and the mayor pretends to be dead, leaving it to the women of the village, led by the mayor’s wife, to take over and save the day, using their feminine wiles. With breathtaking cinematography inspired by the great Flemish painters and incredibly sumptuous costumes and sets (built in a suburb of Paris), plus a cast of thousands, including Francoise Rosay as the mayor’s wife (she was married to Feyder and was in a number of his films). Wonderful.
goodnight mommy 2FIRST RUN and OPENING: Goodnight Mommy, Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine, Coming Home, The Visit, Dope, Grandma, Straight Outta Compton, Mistress America, Diary of a Teenage Girl, The Second Mother Continue reading

ART ISN’T EASY: Straight Outta Compton and She’s Funny That Way


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
straight outta compton 1Though bearing almost no resemblance in any other way (to say the least), two movies have opened of late that demonstrate, to paraphrase Stephen Sondheim, that art sure isn’t easy.
Straight Outta Compton is a tale told of the rise of three best friends who stop becoming friends and then find their way back to being friends before the credits come up (or as we say in the biz, guys meet guys, guys lose guys, guys get guys). It’s the tale of Eazy-E, Ice Cube and Dr. Dre who took the universe by storm with this newfangled sound called Rap and changed the world of music forever.
The film basically has four types of scenes in it: the first are scenes that show the horrors of growing up in the projects and how blacks are treated by the authorities (even when the authorities are black and in one case, find themselves to be music critics); second are the scenes that show the relationship of the three central characters, especially on tour, including the downtime of hanging out and getting high and laid; third are scenes of confrontation between the artists and their managers; and the fourth are the scenes where they actually perform.
I would say that all but the second set of scenes work well, sometimes astoundingly well, and are strong and rich in dramatic conflict. But the story tends to stall whenever the characters are doing little but hanging around just being themselves (the Beatles from A Hard Day’s Night they ain’t). Most of these scenes have little vibrancy or originality to them, while others resemble and have as much depth and insight as an MTV music video from the same period.
And as riveting as so much of the film is, somewhere in the second half it starts to lose forward momentum and I did sort of wish that they would wrap things up already at times. Continue reading