LIFE’S A BEACH: Dunkirk


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Warning: SPOILERS
Is Dunkirk, writer/director Christopher Nolan’s version of one of the biggest military disasters of all time that, somehow, near miraculously, became a symbol of one of the biggest military triumphs of all time, any good?
Or does that matter and the movie, at least at this moment in time, is somewhat beyond criticism?
The film is certainly a monumental achievement, but ironically its due to Nolan’s minimalist approach to drama, with little dialog, no backstory and vistas of groups of soldiers lined up along the beach as if they were waiting for a bus.

Continue reading

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EXUENT PURSUED BY A BEAR: The Revenant and Anomalisa


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
revenant 3The Revenant is, perhaps, one of the most visceral movies you will see in some time. Everybody involved, from the technicians to the designers to the screenwriters (Mark L. Smith and Alejandro Gonzales Inarritu from a novel by Michael Punka), to the director (Inarritu) seemed to have gone out of their way to give the movie a feeling of verisimilitude that can be matched by few films.
The dirty bodies and clothes and rotting teeth (you can almost smell the bad breath); the zip of an arrow through a man’s throat; the blood flowing from wounds made by knifes, bullets and hatchets; and the never ending harsh environment of snow and icy rivers (I almost caught the flu) are all paraded proudly for public consumption.
This is probably best demonstrated with what may now be the infamous bear attack scene in which our hero (Hugh Glass, played very bravely and stoically by Leonardo DiCaprio) is mauled, bitten and strewn all over the place by a mama grizzly fearing for her cubs. It’s an amazing bit of filmmaking and in many ways deserves all the praise it has earned.
And it goes on for a very long time. Continue reading

MIXED DOUBLES: Legend and Night Owls


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

nightowls 1Night Owls, the new self- contained, nearly two person drama written by Seth Goldsmith and the director Charles Hood, takes place in a single location: an upper middle class home.

Poor schlep Kevin gets lucky one night and is picked up at a party by Madeline, a sexy young thing. He takes her to what he thinks is her home and they make the beasts with two backs.

Afterward Kevin wakes up alone in bed. As he gets ready to leave, he discovers that he’s in his boss’s house and that Madeline is his boss’s mistress. Even worse, Madeline has tried to kill herself by taking a bottle of pills (don’t you just hate when that happens), so Kevin has to call a co-worker who then calls a doctor (well, a podiatrist, but the principle is the same).

After helping Madeline regain consciousness, the doctor tells Kevin he has to keep her awake for the rest of the night or she might die. So the two spend one of those evenings together where souls are bared, life lessons are learned and characters arc. Continue reading

A CAMPING WE WILL GO: Mad Max: Fury Road and In the Name of My Daughter


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
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Warning: SPOILERS
mad max fury roadI’m sorry. I didn’t get it. I just didn’t.
I know, I know. Everybody and their mother loves the new movie tribute to stunt performers and second unit directors, Mad Max: Fury Road. It’s received 98% on Rotten Tomatoes and has made a fortune at the box office.
But I just didn’t get it.
As far as I can tell, the plot of the movie revolves around The Man With No Name who helps an Amazon with one arm rescue a bunch of Playboy playmates from Bane and his army of albino soldiers who all have great six packs in a post-apocalyptic world of little water, and worse, little gas.
In other words, we’re in the land of pure camp, but I’m not sure it’s of the high variety. Continue reading

IT’S NOT THE SIZE, IT’S WHAT YOU DO WITH IT: Child 44 and Unfriended


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
 
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Warning: SPOILERS
child 44 twoChild 44, the new mystery thriller that is about the hunt for a serial killer in post-World War II Soviet Union, has received terrible reviews. I mean, horrendous in some cases. It’s at 25% at rottentomatoes. And very few, so far, have had much too good to say about it.
Well, I’m here to suggest that maybe the movie is being a bit maligned.
That is not to say I think it’s great. I definitely do not believe it quite succeeds on its own terms or rises above what it is.
And it’s also possible that I went in expecting the worst, only to be pleasantly surprised. That’s certainly happened to all of us at one time or another.
But still, I think there is much to like here, especially if you are a fan of neo-noir or crime dramas. Continue reading

THE VIOLENT BEAR IT AWAY or THE QUIET MAN and THE WILD ONE: The Drop and Starred Up


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
the-drop-movie-review-0962014-164016The film noir genre is a particularly American institution, one that took hold of the local populace during World War II and stayed strong until the 1960’s.
It had a great influence on movie making all over the world. Perhaps there was just something so satisfying to other countries about the U.S.’s finally washing its dirty laundry in public and exploring the amoral, immoral and sociopathic underpinnings of its society, bringing itself down off the pedestal it had so self-righteously put itself up on.
(An interesting irony here is that the movie world of the 1930’s, during the height of the depression, was one of optimism and a focus on people having frothy fun, while after taking down Hitler, and America entering one of its most prosperous periods in history, the movies are far more cynical and willing to explore the more unsavory underbelly of our world.) 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