Questions & Answers

 

Click Here To Submit Your Questions or Comments to Beckerfilms.com

Name:             Kit
E-mail:            kit_sivyer@hotmail.com
Date:               12/12/17

Dear Josh :

Just wanted to say I just saw Running Time and absolutely loved it. Not to say the film was without flaws (a few cuts were jarring that broke the illusion of one continuous take) but those were minor and didn't distract from the entertaining story. Bruce Campbell and Anita Barone were wonderful in it and I loved how at the heart of it it's a story of high school sweethearts reuniting under dubious circumstances. The heist was hilarious with everything that could possibly go wrong did. Anyway - hope your next film is successful :)

Dear Kit:

Thanks so much. Bruce, Anita and the whole cast are wonderful, in my opinion. Maybe, someday, I'll even get that film re-released.

Josh

Name:             Paul
E-mail:           
Date:               12/08/17

Dear Josh :

First of all congratulations on the progress on your new film. Secondly what is your take on Guilermo Del Toro ? He has a new film out "The Shape of Water" which is getting good press (A Creature of the Black Lagoon/Beauty and the Beast mix expect this time they have sex) I actually met him years ago at a press event and have an autographed "Mimic" poster to show for it ! He seems like a swell enough guy and maybe that is part of the good will he has. However sometimes it seems like he is more a set designer than a storyteller, filling a space inbetween Tim Burton and M. Night Shyamalan in the film fantasy genre.

Dear Paul:

I'm afraid I've never heard of this, Guilermo Del Toro, if that's really his name. What is it you imply that he does?

Josh

Name:             Kevin
E-mail:            good_yegg@hotmail.com
Date:               11/24/17

Dear Josh :

Do you still offer the dvd-r's of your short films?

Dear Kevin:

Unfortunately, no.

Josh

Name:             Gansburg
E-mail:           
Date:               11/24/17

Dear Josh :

Bruce Campbell saying "fag" in Alien Apocalypse was beyond the pale. You two are disgusting and will be looked back on as monsters by future generations in the same way we look back upon the hideous racist pigs of generations past. I hope your new film doesn't stoop to those same lows because guess what? We don't have to take your cis white male crap anymore.

Dear Gansburg:

I was quoting Spiccoli in "Fast Times at Ridgemont High," which is a very funny movie. If you didn't get the reference then your are an ugly, gay, faggot, nigger, kike, towel-head, spic, cocksucking, take-it-up-the ass, queer, queen, limey, dick-licking, cunt-sucking, asshole-licking, Trumpist, Nazi, Stalinist.

Cheers,
Love,
Josh

Name:             Nikolay Yeriomin
E-mail:            nikolayyeriomin@gmail.com
Date:               11/24/17

Dear Josh :

Glad to hear that "Morning, Noon & Night" production is going well. If it's not confidential, I wonder how much footage was filmed in hours? Yours sincerely, Nikolay Yeriomin.

Dear Nikolay:

I shot 3 to 1. The script is 98 pages so I probably shot about 300 hours of footage.

Josh

Name:             Keith
E-mail:           
Date:               11/18/17

Dear Josh :

Congratulations on completing the filming process on “Morning, Noon, & Night”. How are you arranging the post-production process? For example, what editing software are you using and how many editors are you working with? Best, Keith

Dear Keith:

Thank you. The film is being cut as we speak by Kaye Davis in Salt Lake City, Utah. She cuts on Final Cut Pro. She is cutting a dummied down, compressed, 1080p version which, when she's done, we will then conform to the 4K version here in Michigan. Coloring and the sound edit and mix will occur here as well. Kaye is the one and only editor.

Josh

Name:             Jonathan A Moody
E-mail:            Sickflickproductions@gmail.com
Date:               11/9/17

Dear Josh :

Long time no write. Hope you been well. Looks like the new movie is coming along. I'm not sure if this has been asked but did you hear Tarantino is doing a Manson movie. It sounds like it might be like Inglorious Basterds where it's a fictional version of history events. Sounds like Thou Shalt Not Kill. Was he ever a fan of that film? Jonathan Moody

Dear Jonathan:

Funny you should ask that question. Here's how Quentin Tarantino joined my group of friends: my good buddy, Sheldon Lettich, who wrote and directed many of Jean Claude Van Damme's films, like "Double Impact" and "Lionheart," was developing "Lionheart" at Empire Pictures for a producer named Sunil Shah, and who should work in the video department putting VHS tapes into boxes but Quentin Tarantino. When Quentin found out who Sheldon was he made his way into his office clutching a well-worn VHS copy of TSNKE (for which Sheldon gets co-story credit), and stated to him that "TSNKE is my favorite movie, will you autograph it for me." Sheldon, who considers his co-story credit on TSNKE the least important credit in his career, obliged Quentin and signed it. Thus Quentin joined my group of friends.

Josh

Name:             Joe
E-mail:           
Date:               11/6/17

Dear Josh :

I don't know if you can publically say what the budget of your latest film is, but I'd be curious to know Joe

Dear Joe:

$90,000, just like "Running Time."

Josh

Name:             Keith
E-mail:           
Date:               11/2/17

Dear Josh :

“'I’ve wrapped early every single day; often by an hour.” That’s really impressive. You must know how to run a type ship and keep everyone motivated. How large of a crew are you working with?

Dear Keith:

I've got between 15 to 20 crew members, which varies each day; 24 speaking parts; and many, but too few, extras. As I've said any number of times about myself, I may not be a talented filmmaker, but I am efficient.

Josh

Name:             Keith
E-mail:           
Date:               11/1/17

Dear Josh :

Aside from the last 40 years, what do you consider to be the worst era in filmmaking?

Dear Keith:

Aside from the last 40 years? Surely you jest. Movies have only been in existence for 120 years; 40 is a third. That's a lot. The first 40 years, 1890 to 1930, were breathtakingly innovative, and by 1928 had hit the peak of visual storytelling, having moved beyond title cards to what many, though not me, consider the peak of pure filmmaking. The next 40 years, 1930 to 1970, is in fact the peak of filmmaking in general, both visual and aural, coalescing into the greatest movies ever made. And then there's this last 40 years where the whole goddamned thing went swirling down the shit-hole.

Josh

Name:             Keith
E-mail:           
Date:               11/1/17

Dear Josh :

On film shoots, how do you usually arrange meal breaks? Do you ever require your cast and crew to skip lunch in order to get more work done?

Dear Keith:

Never. Lunch always comes six hours after call time, and unlike most productions that break for a half hour, we break for an hour. I also usually start an hour late: instead of a 7:00 AM call time, I start at 8:00. And just by the way, I've wrapped early every single day; often by an hour.

Josh

Name:             Jason Roth
E-mail:            oxboy30@gmail.com
Date:               10/23/17

Dear Josh :

When I read "We Are The Dead," I thought it was current- I was very glad to realize it was in the past and that you were out of that facility and still proceeding with "Morning, Noon and Night." I don't have a whole lot to say other than to wish you all the best of luck with your shoot, and to let you know that after much personal & financial difficulty, my "Sticky Fingers" animated project is back on track and your voiceover will definitely be heard in the near future. Can't wait to see a new film from you, onward and upward! Always a fan, Jason Roth

Dear Jason:

Thank you, and it's good to hear from you. Good luck with "Sticky Fingers." It's time to finish it.

Josh

Name:             Russ
E-mail:           
Date:               10/22/17

Dear Josh :

I found this about your new film. Good luck with the shoot and I hope you bring home awards from the film festivals. https://1428elm.com/2017/10/ 21/director-josh-becker-member-sam-raimis-crew-shoots- film-michigan/

Dear Russ:

Thank you so much, that's very kind of you. And thanks for the link. We finished shooting week #1 on Friday and we begin shooting week #2 tomorrow morning. I think it's going really well. If nothing else, we're on schedule.

Josh

Name:             Jared Konopitski
E-mail:            jareko@gmail.com
Date:               10/22/17

Dear Josh :

I have been looking for a copy of Lunatics on DVD because a friend thought I would enjoy it. However, I can't find it anywhere. Do you have any idea how I can obtain a copy?

Dear Jared:

"Lunatics: A love Story" is owned by Sony, who in their infinite wisdom never released it on DVD. It came out on VHS, then went directly to cable TV, and then disappeared off the face of the Earth. I have it on DVD, but I made it myself.

Josh

Name:             Nikolay Yeriomin
E-mail:            nikolayyeriomin@gmail.com
Date:               10/22/17

Dear Josh :

You lived in LA, have traveled to Bulgaria and New Zealand and you live in Detroit. What were the biggest pros and cons of living and working as a filmmaker in each place? Yours sincerely, Nikolay Yeriomin.

Dear Nikolay:

A director's job is to communicate. In L.A., Detroit and New Zealand they speak English, which is the only language I speak. In Bulgaria they don't speak English and I don't speak Bulgarian, thus making it difficult to impossible to communicate. That's the biggest difference.

Josh

Name:             Bob
E-mail:           
Date:               10/18/17

Dear Josh :

Sorry that you are getting some backlash about Weinstein. It's not like you are responsible. Given the massive downfall he is taking, maybe it will cause producers to think twice about their actions in the future. But what I really wanted to ask was about the last election. I was watching a discussion show this morning and the guest was an author - Thomas Frank - who wrote a book - Listen Liberal - What happened to the Party of the People. I've started reading the book and I am only a little ways through it, but he really lambastes the Democrats for abandoning the working class and putting all value on prestigious university degrees. Among many other things. Anyway, I forget if you were a Sanders supporter, but do you think he might have won against Trump? I am really beginning to think so. The debates would have been better at any rate.

Dear Bob:

Trump won out of collusion with the Russians. It had nothing to do with popularity or lack of Democratic votes, of which there were at least three million more. Trump won because he cheated; nothing else.

Josh

Name:             Steph
E-mail:           
Date:               10/18/17

Dear Josh :

How much money did you make a year during your most fruitful year in show biz?

Dear Steph:

$100,000.

Josh

Name:             Lucas
E-mail:           
Date:               10/15/17

Dear Josh :

The other day, after I pointed out that Harvey Weinstein's actions toward women were not consensual, you responded with "What's the difference [between rape and the casting couch]?" I thought to myself, surely he must know the difference between rape and consensual sex; any adult knows that. But then, in your response to the next message, you wrote: "And the sooner young "starlets" stop waving their pussies around as "For Hire" signs, the sooner this shit will stop happening." And I thought, AHA! According to Mr. Becker, it doesn't matter whether Weinstein committed any crimes or not, because they're just sluts, so obviously they get what they deserve. One of the reasons that people are so sensitive about this situation is that it's about rape, assault, silence, and complicity, and it's mirrored in many places other than the movie business. In other words, when systemic rape and sexual assault is called out and punished in Hollywood, the potential for a ripple effect of change is huge. This stuff matters. I've been coming to this website for somewhere around 20 years. Bought a couple of your books, learned an enormous amount about movies, and generally appreciate your point of view. But I'm sorry to say you've lost a fan; I'm done here. I wish you luck with your new movie, and I'll watch it when I can see it. My best to you, and I sincerely hope that you attempt to gain a little empathy in the future. Lucas

Dear Lucas:

I'm not condoning Harvey Weinstein's actions -- I condemn them -- I'm saying stop acting so coy and innocent about this. Grow up. This is the world we live in. Movie producers will be movie producers; just as hyenas will be hyenas. If a hyena eats a rotting carcass, should you condemn it? Or just see it for what it is?

Josh

Name:             Heather
E-mail:           
Date:               10/13/17

Dear Josh :

I've been a frequent visitor of this site for many years, but your glib dismissal of what some of Weinstein's victims endured is really disappointing. Did you read the article in The New Yorker? Do you understand that most of what went on was NON-CONSENSUAL? Suddenly grabbing a woman's tits, grinding against her ass, shoving a tongue down her throat, chasing her around the room and blocking the exit, cornering a terrified employee and beating off in front of her, threatening to ruin women's careers if they refuse to submit, causing a good number of them to feel ashamed of themselves for years to come, plotting with one's colleagues to lure the victims into private meetings through trickery ... these vile actions committed by Weinstein are not about an ugly dude managing to "get laid." He abused his power and got off on demeaning and frightening young women. In many instances, he comm itted sexual assault. I realize that tons of women agree to sleep with gross men in order to further their careers or to live luxurious lifestyles, but most of the women who are now coming after Weinstein do not fit that description. You rhetorically asked, "What's new or interesting about this case?" One of Hollywood's most powerful producers was just toppled and his company's future is uncertain. Sadly, you also said, "What do I care?" Well, there's no law saying that you have to care about women getting assaulted, but it would be really great if you did.

Dear Heather:

I honestly care about everyone's feelings, but let's not play coy or shocked because that's disingenuous. Harvey Weinstein is no different than thousands producers before him. He's not special. That's bullshit. Which doesn't make him any less of a scumbag.

And the sooner young "starlets" stop waving their pussies around as "For Hire" signs, the sooner this shit will stop happening.

Josh

Name:             Lucas
E-mail:           
Date:               10/13/17

Dear Josh :

I think the difference between this Weinstein situation and the old trope of the casting couch is that from all accounts, Weinstein's actions are rape, not getting laid. Big, big difference.

Dear Lucas:

Darryl Zanuck had a bedroom attached to his office. What's the difference? Ass, gas or grass. Nobody rides for free.

Josh

Name:            
E-mail:           
Date:               10/13/17

Dear Josh :

Tarantino is supposedly shocked about his good friend Weinstein. I know you don't think much of his director skills and his movies but do you think he just might be as bad? Another ugly producer who has power over young pretty actresses.

Dear :

Quentin isn't a producer, he's a writer/director. If he's gotten laid because of it -- and I'm sure he has because it can't be his looks -- what do I care? And by the way, all of Tarantino's movies are produced by Lawrence Bender, who happens to be rather handsome, so I don't think he's ever needed to force himself on anybody, but what do I know? I've never gotten laid because I was a director, producer, or, god forbid, a writer. But that doesn't mean that I didn't lust in my heart for several/most of the leading ladies I've worked with over the years.

Josh

Name:             JA Ganda
E-mail:            jaganda@yahoo.com
Date:               10/11/17

Dear Josh :

So Harvey Weinstein is a grade A scum bag rapist molester abusive aggressor of vulnerable actors. I'd love to hear your perspective on this. Thanks

Dear JA:

Harvey Weinstein is an ugly old movie producer. The only reason he ever got laid in his whole life is because he was a movie producer who had parts for pretty actresses, just like every ugly movie producer who got a pretty young girl to put out for a part. What's new or interesting about this case?

Josh

Name:             Bob
E-mail:           
Date:               10/11/17

Dear Josh :

I was listening to the commentary track of La La Land and Damien Chazelle in discussing the theme of the film of everyone in Los Angeles being from someplace else, said that everyone moves to LA to be connected to the entertainment industry. Do agree with this? Might someone move to LA because they got a good job offer in a non entertainment related industry? Maybe even those people subliminally are moving there to be near the excitement of show business? I know for everyone who moves there someone else sooner or later moves home, or someplace else.

Dear Bob:

Everyone being from someplace else isn't a theme, which is just one of the multitude of aspects Mr. Chazelle fucked up in his godawful script. Everyone moves to L.A. to be connected to the entertainment industry? Really? I had no idea that Chazelle was such a dunce. L.A. has the largest aerospace industry in the U.S., among many other things. None of those folks moved to L.A. because of the entertainment industry. I don't feel like looking it up right now, but I'll bet at least 95% of the people living in L.A. have nothing to do with the entertainment industry. When you move to L.A. and you're a filmmaker or an actor or a musician, those are the people with whom you mainly hang out, so it can seem like everybody's a filmmaker or an actor or a musician, but they're not. There's also every other kind of profession that exists everywhere else in the world. And within the entertainment industry I'd guess you're right, for every person who shows up, one crawls home with their tail between their legs. And for those who remain, watching the cowards crawl home (which I did six times) is the true schadenfreude joy of the entertainment industry, where the slogan is: there's nothing better than watching your best friend fail.

Josh

Name:             Russ
E-mail:           
Date:               10/06/17

Dear Josh :

A very recent good review of your SyFy movie with Bruce and Renee. Anything behind the scenes you would like to share? https://1428elm.com/2017/10/ 04/31-days-halloween-alien- apocalypse-insect-invasion/

Dear Russ:

Wow, is that poorly written.

Josh

Name:             Nick
E-mail:            Nickfalzone@yahoo.com
Date:               10/05/17

Dear Josh :

This question is probably asking for trouble, but are you at all interested in seeing Blade Runner:2049? It has excellent reviews so far, some saying it is superior to the original. I know that you generally are disinterested and/or disgusted with remakes and sequels, but just wondering if this might be an exception. I recall reading that you are a big fan of the original's Vangelis score. Not sure of your thoughts on the film though. Also, when does your own film start production?

Dear Nick:

No, I have no interest in seeing it because, as a remake, it's been made for all of the wrong reasons. Remakes and sequels are only made for money; they a purely economic machines made by studios to cash in on a previous hit, and nothing more. However, regarding "Blade Runner," which I never liked to start with, I don't give a shit what they do. I will bring up my main gripe to which people have been poo-pooing me for 35 years: replicants are 100 times stronger than humans so they can lift boulders on Mars. If a replicant should fight a human it would be over in one second because they can just tear humans' heads off with no problem. However, a vast part of the movie is Harrison Ford (in a particularly dull performance) fighting replicants. Well, he never would have made it through the first fight with Brion James, let alone the extensively ridiculous fight with Darryl Hannah. When she has his head between her legs, twist it around and tear it off and let's be done with it.

Josh

Name:             Paul
E-mail:           
Date:               10/05/17

Dear Josh :

In connection to your last essay how about discussing films that either deal with mental institutions or going mad in some way. To start off there is Cuckoo's Nest, The Snake Pit, the '46 film Shock, Splendor in the Grass, modern films like Girl interrupted, the silent The Wind, etc, etc. Thanks

Dear Paul:

I can tell you for a fact that "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" is not only the most realistic depiction of a psychiatric hospital on film, it's the best film about it. I've always liked "The Snake Pit," which is probably accurate for its time. Sam Fuller's "Shock Corridor" is OK, but should have been better (like most of his movies). "Girl, Interrupted," went in one ear and out the other. As for films about madness, that's a big topic. "Splendor in the Grass" is a brilliant example because Natalie Wood goes crazy for wanting to do what she is naturally drawn to do, which is fuck, but that would ruin her reputation. There's a wonderful irony in that. Let's not forget "Taxi Driver," which is great depiction of a man going mad. It seems like there are so many others that I can think of now. How about you?

Josh

Name:             Doug Kennedy
E-mail:           
Date:               10/01/17

Dear Josh :

Thanks for answering. It got me to thinking: what is it you would like someone to ask you?

Dear Doug:

Well, first of all, they could ask about my movies, or they could ask about story structure, or they could bring up any one of hundreds of good movies that are worth discussing, or, perhaps they could pitch me their really good story idea that they're not sure how to write, or they could bring up the idea of what constitutes good film direction, or many, many other interesting topics. But no, because 99% of the dimwits who attend conventions are so goddamned fucking ignorant that they've never seen a good movie and wouldn't even know it if they had.

Josh

Name:             Doug Kennedy
E-mail:           
Date:               09/29/17

Dear Josh :

Do you have any pet peeves regarding fans when they meet you at a convention or whatever? Something that bothers you about their behavior? Thanks Doug

Dear Doug:

Yeah. Just about everything about them. I spent years attending conventions where I was asked the same couple of questions over and over again, "What was it like working on 'Evil Dead'?" "What's Bruce Campbell like?" "What was it like working on a 'classic' movie?" as though we had any idea that we were working on anything other than a shitty little horror film. But what annoyed me the most was when someone came up to my table and told me that they wanted to be a filmmaker, and I'd ask, "And what kind of films do you want to make?" and the answer was always "Zombie films." My first response was to want to gag, but then I'd ask, "Do you think you can make a zombie movie better than 'Night of the Living Dead'?" Everyone always replied, "Of course not," then I'd say, "Then why bother?" Honestly, the last thing this world needs is more shitty zombie movies.

Josh

Name:             Sandy
E-mail:           
Date:               09/23/17

Dear Josh :

Do still like to party? Do you get sick of people asking you if you liked this new movie or that new movie? Thanks

Dear Sandy:

I party as much as I can, as I near sixty. But yes, people recommending new movies that I absolutely know are shit, and when I finally see part of them turn out to be utter shit, does bug me. On the other hand, when younger folks tell me that they just "loved" some shit like "Almost Famous," which happened yesterday, bugs me even worse. And when I reply, "But that movie was crap. It's about the only groupies ever who never fucked the rock stars who rarely if ever took drugs," and the person replies, "Oh, I was young when In saw it," makes me livid. So what you're saying is that when you were young you had no brain at all, then you never bothered to think about it again, but it remains a beloved film? Jesus fuckin' Christ!

Here's another one that drives me fucking crazy: people who say they loved "Lord of the Rings" and when I say, but hobbits were three feet tall and had furry feet and were certainly not just young actors, and they say, "Oh, but that wouldn't sell," as though they were film distributors, makes me want to hit them in the face with a sock full of shit.

Josh

Name:             Goolie
E-mail:           
Date:               09/19/17

Dear Josh :

Don't really appreciate that you didn't answer my last question, but whatever. What is your opinion of George Romero and Tobe Hooper?

Dear Goolie:

What was your last question? Maybe I missed it (it happens). Regarding George Romero and Tobe Hooper, I feel that both of them had one terrific movie in them: "Night of the Living Dead" and "Texas Chainsaw Massacre," and then they could have both retired.

Josh

[Webmaster's Note: The response to your last question probably got buried/lost in my email somewhere. Sorry about that - K]

Name:             Devin
E-mail:           
Date:               09/18/17

Dear Josh :

What is the your opinion of the 1937 Leo McCarey film "Make Way for Tomorrow"?

Dear Devin:

I think it's kind of a lovely, touching film, and very mature for Hollywood in 1937.

Josh

Name:             PAUL
E-mail:           
Date:               09/12/17

Dear Josh :

The few bits of information that you have mentioned about your film make it seem quite intriguing. It does and doesn't, at least to me, seem like something you would do if that makes sense. Since you wrote how Spine Chillers came to be can you share some hint as to how the idea for this new project came to be? Without being too specific so as to keep the mystery.

Dear PAUL:

First of all, I always have my antenna up for stories and themes, which I jot down in my journal. Most of these bits and pieces add up to nothing, but I still note them. As I was painting the interior of my house last summer, and I was painting the ceiling in the living room, I thought of the theme addiction. Then I thought, hell, everybody I know is addicted to something. So I came up with a variety of characters based on my friends and me, then I thought, what if all these people all live in the same community, and their paths keep crisscrossing all day until they all come together at the end. And then I thought, why not have it all happen in one day. And then I pitched the story to Bruce Campbell and I began with, "Each section will begin with a title, 'Morning,' 'Noon,' and 'Night,'" then I told him the story, which he liked, and he said, "And I really like your title, 'Morning, Noon & Night,'" which of course is not what I had said, but I immediately embraced it and said, "Yeah, I think it's a good title, too," and there you have it.

Josh

Name:             Goolie
E-mail:           
Date:               09/08/17

Dear Josh :

Speaking from personal experience I'd say it's worth a try.

Dear Goolie:

I have a transgender character in this new movie I'm making.

Josh

Name:             Bob
E-mail:           
Date:               09/08/17

Dear Josh :

I was watching Jeopardy Teachers Tournament and the final question (answer) Category: Women authors, was who wrote a book in 1936 at over 1000 pages who was said to be the next great woman author. Only one got it right and he wound up winning from way behind. But, what I found encouraging was that Alex Trebek called GWTW a great movie. So hopefully with his endorsement, intentional or not, this one withstands the tide of revisionist history. Question: Would you have been able to identify the author from the clue?

Dear Bob:

I knew it before you said it. I have all of the Pulitzer Prize-winning novels, many in 1st editions, in my living room, and gosh darn if right there isn't the 1936 winner, "Gone With the Wind," which is not a 1st edition (which would be worth a lot of money), but is like a 12th printing from 1936, so it looks just like the 1st edition.

Josh

Name:             Nikolay Yeriomin
E-mail:            nikolayyeriomin@gmail.com
Date:               09/07/17

Dear Josh :

I've recently noticed that none of your movies had any "in memory of" credits. It's not that that's unusual or something, but I wonder whether you ever considered having such a credit for anyone? Yours sincerely, Nikolay Yeriomin.

Dear Nikolay:

You generally only put an "In Memory" credit on a film when someone died during the course of shooting, which is often stunt men.

Josh

Name:             J. Screeds
E-mail:            jscreeds@gmail.com
Date:               09/07/17

Dear Josh :

Thank you for responding to my question. A few follow up questions. Why did Chris decide to buy the better camera at the end of production instead of at the beginning? It sounds somewhat counter intuitive. Also I am disappointed to hear that you will no longer be associated with Tres Hombres or Spine Chillers, what lead to the decision, was there a falling out? Okay two more. How did you and the Tres Hombres hook up in the first place? Are those guys filmmakers or did you get them interested initially and now they're running with it and doing their own thing? And finaly, I am not so disappointed because you are making a new movie! This is great news to all us fans. Can you please tell me the genre, logline and budget please? Thank you Josh.

Dear J.:

Let's see, Chris bought a new camera when his other camera took a shit and stopped working. As for me not making anymore Spine Chillers, I moved on. It was a good experience, but now I'm back to making features. Regarding Tres Hombres, I've known Paul Harris for about 35 years. He was the assistant editor on TSNKE and we've been friends ever since. We've written four feature script together. I've known Chris for about six years. Both of them are most definitely filmmakers. We were all hanging around at my house partying and I thought, "Hey, what the hell? We're all filmmakers and were all not shooting anything at the moment, let's make a web series." So I wrote a script, "Sorry I couldn't Make It," and we shot it over a weekend. Chris and I did the post over a few weeks and turned out all right, so those guys wrote scripts and off we went. And finally my new film is called "Morning, Noon & Night," and it's about a whole group of people in the same community whose paths all keep crossing during the course of one day and how each of them deals with their own addictions during that day. It's a dramatic comedy.

Josh

Name:             Goolie
E-mail:           
Date:               09/07/17

Dear Josh :

What do you think of the transgenders? Would you ever be intimate with one?

Dear Goolie:

I think everybody should be and do whatever they want. My batting average with women isn't so hot lately so maybe I'd do better with transgender people. It would increase my chances of getting a date.

Josh

[Webmaster's Note: Goolie? Are you sure you don't work for Zombie Life TV or Garth Manor? - Kevin Neece]


Name:             Robert S.
E-mail:           
Date:               09/04/17

Dear Josh :

I saw this interesting quote from David Lynch in a Rolling Stone interview: "I say the new art house is cable television."

Dear Robert:

Sadly, David Lynch now has his head up his fucking ass. He is so bereft of ideas that all he's got left is to drag out a twenty-year-old idea (that wasn't very good to start with) and remake it. As far as I'm concerned, and I don't say this lightly, Lynch's whole career was three movies: "Eraserhead," "Elephant Man" and "Blue Velvet," and then his idea tap ran dry and he might as well have retired. The new art house is not cable television; there is no new art house. Nor is there any decent art.

Josh

Name:             Russ
E-mail:           
Date:               09/03/17

Dear Josh :

Bruce was just in Chicago promoting his new book and he mentions Running Time a little past the one minute mark. People will be looking for it after the mention especially since he was so enthusiastic about making it. http://wgntv.com/2017/09/01/ bruce-campbells-confessions- of-a-b-movie-actor/

Dear Russ:

Thanks for pointing that out because I undoubtedly wouldn't have seen it otherwise. What a wonderful shout-out from good old Bruce Campbell. Everybody, go buy his book right now. Of course the irony of my life is that "Running Time" is presently unavailable, even though I made a deal with a distributor, Synapse Films, who paid me quite well over two years ago, but just hasn't released it. Here's the issue, which I think is sort of interesting: what format do you release on now? Synapse released "Thou Shalt Not Kill...Except" in that special Blu-Ray Edition, which looked great, but I don't think anybody is buying Blu-Ray anymore, and I don't think people know what they're buying. 4K? HD? 1080p? It's a quagmire. Still, it's awfully nice that Bruce holds that film in such high esteem. I certainly had a great time making it with Bruce.

Josh

Name:             J. Screeds
E-mail:            jscreeds@gmail.com
Date:               09/02/17

Dear Josh :

I went to watch your episode of Spine Chillers called sorry I couldn't make it and I ended up watching a bunch more on the spine chillers channel. I noticed that it was updated 2 weeks ago with a film made by the spine chillers crew from the 48 hour film festival. The film is called bunnymoon and the production value is higher than it was on spine chillers, including drone shots. but i noticed you were not listed anywhere in the credits. are you no longer working with the group? If so, why? And also, why is the production quality higher now?

Dear J.:

Chris Dinnan bought a better, 4k, camera right at the end of the initial nine episodes. But hey, I think they look pretty good for no-budget filmmaking. Meanwhile, I've never been involved with the 48-Hour Film Festival because I think it's silly. That's not how movies are made. But to answer your question, no, I'm not involved with Tres Hombres or Spine Chillers anymore. Chris and Paul Harris, however, are busily making another episode called "Blood Moon." I, on the other hand, am going to be making my next feature, "Morning, Noon & Night, in six weeks.

Josh

Name:             Robert
E-mail:           
Date:               08/31/17

Dear Josh :

Why is that theater in Tenn. that has had an annual screening of "Gone W/the Wind" for years gonna stop showing it now because it's disrespectful? I think they are gonna play Wonder Woman now. What's happening?! Make it stop, Josh!

Dear Robert:

Those who do not remember history are doomed to repeat it. The south in America before, during and after the Civil War was a particularly racially insensitive place -- that's why the war was fought. But I don't think that "Gone With the Wind" is inaccurate in its depiction of the time and place, so to note that it's racially insensitive is simply accepting what that time and place was like. But there's another issue here. "Gone With the Wind" is an extremely important movie in regard to civil rights and racial equality -- it's the first movie where a black actor, Hattie McDaniel, won an Oscar, which is a very big deal. And just as a little personal note, I love watching Hattie McDaniel steal that film out from under the noses of Clark Gable, Vivian Leigh, Olivia de Havilland and Leslie Howard. But Hattie McDaniel winning an Oscar is as important to the civil rights movement as Jack Johnson becoming the first black heavyweight champion and Jackie Robinson being the first black professional baseball player. That's my take.

Josh

Name:             Goolie
E-mail:           
Date:               08/31/17

Dear Josh :

Saw you made a list of movies you liked from last year. Did you see Southside with Me, the young Obama movie? I kinda liked it. There was a Netflix one too called Barack, but that one sucked.

Dear goolie:

No, I didn't see either one, but I did read Obama's book, which was interesting. He wrote it when he was first running for Congress and had any of the dip-shit birthers bothered to read it it goes into great detail about his youth in Hawaii. I saw a terrific documentary from 2011 called "Sing Your Song: Harry Belaphonte." Harry is extremely active in civil rights and always has been. In 1958 he went to Kenya to see what he could do to help. He decided to put 80 young Kenyan men through college in America with the condition that they go back to Kenya afterward. One of these young men was Barack Obama, Sr. who went to the University of Honolulu and that's where he met Barack, Jr.'s mother.

Josh

Name:             Chuck
E-mail:           
Date:               08/31/17

Dear Josh :

Do you recommend any Terrence Malick films? I've only seen a few later films--The New World & Tree of Life--& found them to be long & boring, with some good but repetitive shots. Are his earlier films better? Thanks, Chuck

Dear Chuck:

In my humble opinion, Terrence Malick is a one film writer/director, and that's "Badlands," which is a great film that really holds up. Martin Sheen and Sissy Spacek could not be better. It truly doesn't have a wrong beat or moment in it. That's why I was so interested to see his next film, "Days of Heaven," which, though beautifully filmed, isn't a good movie. And each of his films since have gotten progressively worse. But if you haven't seen "Badlands," go out of your way to see it.

Josh

Name:             David R.
E-mail:           
Date:               08/31/17

Dear Josh :

Do you like any of Andrei Tarkovsky's films?

Dear David:

No.

Josh

Name:             Nick
E-mail:            Nickfalzone@yahoo.com
Date:               08/23/17

Dear Josh :

Enjoyed "We Are the Dead" very much. Humorous, entertaining, long, but not too long. I worked as a hospital tech for 4 yrs, including time in the psych ward. This was up until 2 yrs ago. All your details rang sadly, and humourously true. I wish your essay had included a few more details about the hours/days prior to you being in the hospital, but that's probably a book in and of itself. The details later on about the pills and booze filled in the gaps adequately enough. Regarding the shit on the walls - what a lot of people don't realize is that hospitals are some of the dirtiest places on earth. Yes, there is a lot of cleaning that goes on, but for the most part you are working in a toilet bowl. There is shit everywhere. Psych ward is actually one of the cleanest parts, the rest of the hospital is literally full of shit. It is no surprise how often people go to the hospital with a minor sickness, and end up much sicker after admission. Secondly, the lack of empathy on the part of the staff may shock some people, but it is just a coping mechanism that most of the staff ends up utilizing. Sure, you will find a few nice and caring nurses or techs, but for the most part these people have been burned out emotionally from the job and are just going through the motions. Thirdly, the beginning of the essay you talk about various people sitting by your bed. These were likely techs or nurse aides. The most boring job in the world. Suicide patients always had someone in the room with them by law, but those patients were usually pleasant. The other reason a tech had to sit in a room was because a patient was out of their fucking minds and would either try to run out of the building or attack people. Those were less enjoyable "sitter" situations. Imagine a job where you have to sit for ~8 or 12 hrs a day sitting with a crazy person. A crazy person that is mildly medicated because nowadays it is a quick shot of haldol or ativan that lasts maybe 1-2 hrs then the person wakes up and is worse than before. It is not accepted medical practice to "medically restrain" a patient. The folks constantly doped on thorazine being an exception. Lastly, Ambien is a terrible drug for insomnia. Even long lasting ambien runs out after 4-6 hrs and it is impossible to go back to sleep when it runs out. Also, people become tolerant to it very easily. A good psych doctor will prescribe a drug called Trazadone, which works much more effectively, but will leave the person a bit sleepy the next day. For a boozer, something like a strong dose of ativan may be needed to knock them out, but in the long run that fucks up your brains (Gaba receptors, etc.). Anyway, thanks for the interesting and revealing look into your time in the hospital. Hopefully you can stay out for at least another decade or two while we get to enjoy your future movies.

Dear Nick:

Thank you for reading it.

Josh

Name:             DS
E-mail:           
Date:               08/22/17

Dear Josh :

Thank you, I look very forward to reading that essay when you post it. Who is the cinematographer on "Morning, Noon, and Night?" Is it somebody you have worked with previously? Other than "Captain Fantastic," where there any other 2016 films you liked?

Dear DS:

"Hidden Figures" was painfully run-of-the-mill, but watchable. The fact that nobody as NASA smokes in the 1960s is utterly absurd, but it seems that we now have to clean up our past. "Sully" is a perfectly watchable movie, and well-structured. There was a pretty good documentary about Dennis Hopper called "Uneasy Rider." And there was a good HBO documentary called "Everything is Copy - Nora Ephron: Script and Unscripted." That's about it. I didn't hate "Midnight Special," but Jeff Nichols, who started off in a very promising way with "Shotgun Stories" and "Take Cover," is becoming a real let-down, particularly with "Loving."

I'll have Kevin post that essay.

Josh

Name:             DS
E-mail:           
Date:               08/21/17

Dear Josh :

I wish you the very best of luck on your new film. Is the essay you submitted to the magazine going to be published? Has there been any movement yet on that screenplay for wrote for Bruce Campbell and his wife?

Dear DS:

I heard back from one of the literary magazines, the Michigan Quarterly out of my old alma mater, U of M, and they rejected the piece with a form letter. I haven't heard back from the other one, Zyzzyva, so I may as well post the essay here. Thanks for reminding me. Regarding the four scripts that I wrote for Bruce, he has since written another one and wants to start with that. But right now he's doing a book tour for his new book, "Hail to the Chin," which I pop in and out of as a minor character. Bruce's assessment of shooting in Bulgaria is extremely accurate and reminds me of a short piece I have on the site here, "Bulgarian Impressions," except his thing is all his own. But we both saw the experience in a similar way. Anyway, we'll just have to see how Bruce now intends to take on the world, and hope fully shoot a few of those scripts along the way.

Josh

Name:             David R.
E-mail:           
Date:               08/19/17

Dear Josh :

I wrote about movies set in the desert a short while back; thanks for the suggestions. Have you seen Herzog's "Queen of the Desert" (2015)? It has an impressive cast but does not appear to have made much of an impression.

Dear David:

I have not seen it, but I do have it on my Netflix list, where it immediately went onto the "long wait" list and I've never gotten it. I did read the book, "Desert Queen" by Janet Wallach, and it was extremely good and seemed like it would make a wonderful, intelligent movie, as well as an interesting companion piece to "Lawrence of Arabia," whom Gertrude Bell knew well and mentored. There is a vague reference to her in the movie because she was the one who knew all of the tribal leaders, like Prince Feisal (Alec Guiness) and Auda Abu Tayi (Anthony Quinn), not Lawrence. Anyway, when I heard there was going to be a film directed by Werner Herzog, whom I like very much, and starring Nicole Kidman, who could play the part, I was extremely interested and followed the exploits of the film when it opened at Cannes and immediately dropped dead with such a resounding thud that it was never released. I'm still interested to see it.

Josh

Name:             Johny
E-mail:           
Date:               08/18/17

Dear Josh :

Are you going to vote for Kid Rock for Senator? Is he a good representation of Michigan for someone who's never ben there?

Dear Johny:

Fuck Kid Rock. He's a redneck asshole.

Josh

Name:             August
E-mail:            joxerfan@hotmail.com
Date:               08/16/17

Dear Josh :

A couple of days early as I write this.... but wishing you a very happy birthday! Hoping that Madonna is regretting not bonding with you in the newborn nursery, and that the day will be filled with dancing Bulgarian supermodels offering you mooch potato liquor and ganja. So I've been following your updates on the upcoming film with great interest and anticipation. Possibly I missed the process leading up to this, or more likely you were following your usual custom of not wanting to jinx things by revealing too much until it actually happens. But is this a script you have referred to before, or something brand new? And anything you can share on how it suddenly came together? (As in angel investors, producing partners, or you're just going commando with the credit cards again?) Hoping that you will post a few "Making of..." essays along the way when you have time. Regards, August

Dear August:

Always a great pleasure hearing from you, and thank you for the early birthday wishes. Regarding my upcoming film, "Morning, Noon & Night," yes, you are exactly correct about me not wanting to jinx it. As they say in the car business around here, any bump in the road can cause every screw in the car to drop out. Anyway, it's a very small production that I'm going to shoot in the course of fifteen days, from on Oct. 16 - Nov. 3. In its own way it's like "Peyton Place" by way of "Slackers" by way of "Drugstore Cowboy," without really being like any of those movies. And I'm going to try and make it as beautiful as I can in my use of light, lenses and angles, as well as shooting at the height of autumn which is always gorgeous here in Michigan. That's my plan, and what happens beyond that I don't know.

Stay in touch JoxerMan.

Josh

Name:             Scott
E-mail:           
Date:               08/14/17

Dear Josh :

I guess the point I was trying to make is if The Godfather cost the equivalent of $20 back in 1972, would you have gone first run, and more importantly, would you have gone to several movies a week at that price in those days? I say that because even though these shitty marvel movies are raking in the dough, people aren't going to a lot of the competing blockbuster trash that permeates the market. Many of the "sure bet" summer blockbusters have flopped at the box office and I've heard from several people the reason being is that movies are too expensive to see in theaters. When I was growing up ticket prices were manageable. It was $4 for a matinee and $7 full price. While being in school and having a part time job, that didn't break the bank. $16-$20 per film these days seems unsustainable to me. On top of that people are paying more for garbage, while I believe we paid a lot less for quality. The question is would a contemporary audience gladly pay for something great tha t didn't entail lightsabers or men and women in tights blowing up a city? By the way, I'm glad to hear your film is coming along and I'm excited to see it when its released. Perhaps you can't divulge at this stage, but I'll ask anyway. Were you able to coax Bruce Campbell and Ted Raimi to be in the film? Seeing those guys in an independent drama would be great. Best of luck with production!

Dear Scott:

Bruce and Ted both respectfully turned me down. It definitely would have been fun making that version, but I'm still going to have fun making this version. I've got the whole crew in place and many of the locations. I meet with the casting people today and casting will begin. And since I still have 60 until I shoot, I think we can cast a wide net on all of the actors swimming around the area.

Let's not talk about movies, let's talk about smoking. I remember buying my dad cigarettes from the machine when I was a little kid, 5-6, and it was 35-cents a pack. Ten years later when I started smoking it was 45-cents a pack. The idea of not being able to afford cigarettes, no matter how broke you might be, was unthinkable. I began rolling my own cigarettes (by hand with filters) in the mid-1990s when I was going down to New Zealand all the time and most kiwis rolled their own. I chose American Spirit tobacco, which was pretty new at the time, and it cost $9.99 a can, which seemed pricey, but it was all-natural and tasted good. I just paid $41.99 for that same can of tobacco, only now they've stopped giving away the 4 packs of rolling papers they always used to include. So that silly can of tobacco has gone up over 400% (or something like that). Yeah, so movie tickets were a quarter, then they went up every single year of our lives. For the first 35 years of my life, and the first 3,000 movies saw, I saw them all in theaters, and I never thought twice about what they cost. My buddy Rick, when presented with the choice between eating and going to movies, always chose the movies.

In conclusion, if the drug is worth it we're happy to pay whatever it costs.

Josh

Name:             Scott
E-mail:           
Date:               08/12/17

Dear Josh :

Its nice to know there's someone else out there who thinks Christopher Nolan is a hack. With him its an Emperor's New Clothes situation, however the problem goes much deeper than that. Movies have gotten so bad that Nolan has become the best of the worst. Almost every successful film in this day and age is a bloated empty spectacle with no point, character development, and loads of crappy CGI. Who is to blame for this mess? Is it the pusher or the buyer? Perhaps both are responsible and unfortunately movie tickets, in big cities at least, cost between $16 and $20 now. People are paying a premium for inferior product, which could ultimately be the death of cinema. Would you pay $20 to see The Godfather or Citizen Kane first run?

Dear Scott:

I've paid a lot more than that to see those films in the theater. I saw "The Godfather" 16 times in the theater and "The Godfather Part II" 14 times. I haven't seen "Citizen Kane" as many times in the theater because there weren't many good prints of it around for all those years I lived in Hollywood, and we would check in advance to see what kind of print they had. I do recall Benson & Hedges 100 cigarettes sponsoring a film festival of the 100 best movies featuring brand new prints, and the highlight was the new print of "Citizen Kane," which was gorgeous. Now you flick it on TCM and of course there's no scratches or breaks. Anyway, regarding the ongoing shared despair of no good new movies ever anymore. And I spend a great deal of time scouring the movies of the past 15-20 years, mainly going from Leonard Maltin's reviews, and most of those suck, too. Maltin gives a lot of films 3 to 31/2 stars, that ought to get 2 to 2/12, out of the sheer kindness of his heart because at least they tried. Well, I'm doing most proactive thing I can and that's making another feature movie. As I filled out the production insurance form yesterday I am certainly lacking all of the possibilities for a dangerous shoot, like: car chases, car stunts, guns, squibs, explosions, oh, and a surprising new prohibition, no Gangsta Rap scenes. I've got none of these things. The only possible dangerous thing that occurs in my script, as per the insurance company, is actors driving automobiles on public thoroughfares.

Josh

Name:             Will
E-mail:           
Date:               08/11/17

Dear Josh :

On the remakes that are better than the originals list: I think (as I believe you do as well) that most remakes are terrible ideas and terrible movies. But there are some good ones....(I didn't include Hitchcock's second "Man Who Knew Too Much" because I prefer Peter Lorre to Doris Day). "The Maltese Falcon" (1941) was the third version, after "The Maltese Falcon" (1931) and "Satan Met a Lady" (1936). Technically, it's the third adaptation from the novel, rather than a remake, but then again, the Coen Bros. said their "True Grit" was from the novel rather than from Hathaway's original. Then there's George Cukor's "A Star Is Born" (1954), David Cronenberg's "The Fly" (1986), John Carpenter's "The Thing" (1982), Billy Wilder's "Some Like It Hot" (1951, third version of "Fanfare d'amour"), Victor Fleming's "The Wizard of Oz" (1939, remake of silent version), Howard Hawks's "His Girl Friday" (1940, new version of "The Front Page"). It's a pretty short list, but a good one.

Dear Will:

Touche. I knew that I was right handing this one back to you. And now we once again beg the question, what's a remake? And since we're digging into the deep minutia, "A Star is Born" really begins with "What Price Hollywood?" in 1932. In that case I like the first three, but not the 1976 version. But to say that I like the Judy Garland musical version better than the 1937 version is inaccurate, I like them both. I absolutely adore that specific Technicolor in the '37 version. I'm with you on "The Man Who Knew Too Much." I just tried to watch the Ricardo Cortez version "The Maltese Falcon" (I've seen it before) and it's ridiculously similar to Huston's, but it's minus all the style, verve, panache, everything that makes the Bogart version a classic. I did like the ending on "Satan Met a Lady," where Spade goes and visits her in jail, indicating that he really is waiting for her, but the Ward Bond ending is brilliant. And is the Cronenberg remake of "The Fly" actually better? I liked them both, but I have better memories of the first one. And I didn't care for Carpenter's remake of "The Thing." The silent version of "The Wizard of Oz" is just a wide proscenium shot of the stage play and I don't think it counts for shit. Lewis Milestone's 1931 version of "The Front Page" is a handsome, well-handled production, but Hawks version is funny.

Josh

Name:             Will
E-mail:           
Date:               08/11/17

Dear Josh :

"Julia" is a really good movie! I'll have to watch it again now, as well. It's been years since I saw it. I recently watched Zinnemann's "A Nun's Life" with Audrey Hepburn (1959) for the second time. It's pretty terrific "Redes" is very interesting. Zinnemann was already interested in stories about economic inequality, and he made the film in Alvarado with non-actors about poor fishermen (It could be a double feature with La Terra Trema). He went to Hollywood on a Greyhound bus soon after filming was complete. It's mainly known now for anticipating neorealism. It's been released by the Criterion Collection in a "Martin Scorsese's World Cinema Project" restoration set.

Dear Will:

I've seen "A Nun's Story" many times over the course of my life. But regarding repeat viewings that I didn't mention the other day is "From Here to Eternity," which I've seen too many times to count. And another of Fred Zinneman's films that I love and have seen many times is "A Member of the Wedding," which he made right before "From Here to Eternity," and there's a real change of pace.

Josh

Name:             Paul
E-mail:           
Date:               08/11/17

Dear Josh :

Since you are a history buff could you give us your insight on the actual events at Dunkirk. Thanks

Dear Paul:

In May, 1940, during the Battle of France, British forces got surrounded by the Germans and were pushed right up to the coast of the English Channel, where there was no plan as to how to evacuate about 350,000 soldiers. So Prime Minister Winston Churchill ordered every civilian with a boat to cross the channel and save the soldiers, which they did. To me it's always been enshrined as a sequence in William Wyler's Oscar-winning film, "Mrs. Miniver." However, since someone just brought up a 1958 British version, I'd really like to see that.

Josh

Name:             Brian
E-mail:            mackbrockton@aol.com
Date:               08/10/17

Dear Josh :

Sorry im sure this has been asked before but...which remakes would you say are actually better than the originals?

Dear Brian:

That can't be a long list. I prefer the 1959 version of "Ben Hur." And I liked the Coen brothers remake of "True Grit," but it's not better than the original. Most remakes stink. Which ones do you like?

Josh

Name:             Will
E-mail:           
Date:               08/10/17

Dear Josh :

Your assessment of Nolan is both eloquent and accurate! So to is your take on Robert Siodmak, I think. Great style (he surely could stage a scene) and he made the most out of his scripts. I'm glad to hear you like Fred Zinneman, who is one of my favorites. Did you ever see "Redes," the sort of proto-neorealist film Zinneman made in Mexico with Emilio Gómez Muriel?

Dear Will:

I've never heard of it. I was just quoting a Fred Zinneman movie yesterday, "She is a canker in the body politic and I will have her out!" You know what's a really good movie that I'm ready to see again, "Julia." And it's Meryl Streep's debut. With a terrific (Oscar-winning) script by Alvin Sargent, who has sadly and ignobly had to watch his career sink to writing Spider Man movies.

Josh

Name:             Joe
E-mail:           
Date:               08/10/17

Dear Josh :

I gave up on new movies in the theater around 1997. I continued to watch trailers online to all new upcoming movies, however, about two years ago I bailed on even that. Do you watch the trailers to new upcoming movies? joe

Dear Joe:

I watch the bloody movies, not just the trailers.

Josh

Name:             Tim
E-mail:           
Date:               08/07/17

Dear Josh :

Wow, you really hate guys that write 76 page war epics? I probably wouldn't do that if given the opportunity, but I don't care if someone else does. I mean, it's not your movie so who cares? Just don't see it, right? Why does it bother you so much? Thanks

Dear Tim:

Because it's one more step in the wrong direction, and I would still really like to see a good new movie in my life. For some inexplicable reason I still care about movies. The whole point of starting this website nearly 20 years ago was to see if I couldn't exert some tiny amount of influence regarding the importance of the screenplay, but alas, I haven't. The art of filmmaking has gone entirely off the rails and I don't see it righting itself any time soon. Not as long as idiots like Christopher Nolan are held in such high esteem. As Alfred Hitchcock said regarding the three most important aspects of filmmaking, "The script, the script and the script." That's what it's all about, and if you can shoot it well, too, that's icing on the cake. It's not about the camera, the camera and the camera.

Josh

Name:             Will
E-mail:           
Date:               08/07/17

Dear Josh :

I avoid Nolan movies as a general rule, having snoozed through his remake of "Insomnia" and "Memento." After seeing the recent posts about "Dunkirk," I noticed this headline: http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/heat-vision/dunkirk-director-christopher-nolan-wanted-shoot-movie-script-1026790?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign= Feed%3A+thr%2Fnews+%28The+Hollywood+Reporter+-+Top+Stories%29 This guy is considered a major filmmaker? Ugh. On a brighter (or darker, in terms of cinematography) note, I've been working through Robert Siodmak's filmography. Have you seen "The Strange Affair of Uncle Harry" with George Sanders? Not a masterpiece, but very strong, dark, and melancholy. Just saw "The Killers," "The Dark Mirror," "The File on Thelma Jordan," "The Spiral Staircase," "Phantom Lady," "Cry of the City," "Criss Cross," "The Great Sinner, "Son of Dracula," and of course "People on Sunday." I'm hoping to find some of his European films; he went back around 1953 and made about a dozen films in Germany and France. A lot of his work is pretty phenomenal.

Dear Will:

Christopher Nolan -- what a fuckin' jerk; no wonder his films suck ass. He wrote a 76-page script for a war epic, and thought he didn't even need that. He is what's now known as clueless. Go back to Batman movies you worthless piece of shit, that way you can work from a 24-page comic book, which is probably the extent of your intelligence and capacity. Jesus, what a dimwitted moron. I knew there was a good reason I hate all his movies, the idiot has a brain the size of fuckin' pea. Christopher Nolan is the perfect example of everything wrong with modern movies. He said that he could "stage the whole film without a script," like anybody ever walked out of a movie and said, "Hey, honey, wasn't that film staged great?" No, if they come out of a movie they like they repeat the good lines, of which I'm sure "Dunkirk" has none. Nobody ever walked out of "Casablanca" saying, "Jeez, that Micheal Curtiz, he sure knows how to stage a scene" (which he did). They say, "Here's looking at you, kid," or "Of all the gin joints in all the world, she had to come into mine," on and on. "Casablanca" is a great movie because it's just loaded with great lines. "Dunkirk" will be forgotten in no time because I'm sure it was no good lines or good characters or anything to hang your hat on but his jerk-off staging. I shit in his general direction.

Meanwhile, Robert Siodmak was indeed an interesting director, although not a great one. He certainly had a dark visual style that I enjoy. His brother Curt was an interesting guy too. I recently watched "The Great Sinner," which wasn't all that good, but I was acquainted with the film's writer, Christopher Isherwood, so I'm interested in all of his films. What I find wonderfully fascinating about "People on Sunday," other than getting to see what Berlin looked like in 1929, is that it had so many future great filmmakers who worked on it: the fabulous Billy Wilder wrote the script based on an idea by Curt Siodmak, Eugen Schufftan (who invented a clever in-camera matting process used to great effect on Fritz Lang's "Metropolis," then later won an Oscar for his photography on "The Hustler") shot the film, Fred Zinnemann (one of my favorite directors) was a camera assistant, and the wonderfully intriguing Edgar G. Ulmer was Robert Siodmak's assistant director. That's a hell of a line up.

Josh

Name:             goolie
E-mail:           
Date:               08/04/17

Dear Josh :

Do you ever watch Youtube reviews or film commentators? Would you ever host a Youtube channel where you review movies? You can actually make decent money doing that and I think people would really like your reviews.

Dear goolie:

No, I never watch them. I've been a film critic on and off throughout my life for various publications, and on my own website, but since most modern movies are so miserably awful, all I would be doing is giving negative reviews and that's just bad vibes. As Jean-Luc Godard said, "Film critics are like soldiers who fire on their own men."

Josh

Name:             goolie
E-mail:           
Date:               08/04/17

Dear Josh :

What are your thoughts on Fargo? A Simple Plan?

Dear goolie:

I'm not a fan of either film, but I do think "Fargo" is the Coen brother's second best film, next to their remake of "True Grit." Then again, I don't like any of their other movies. It does have a few good scenes, though, like William H. Macy bolting out of the police interview. As for "A Simple Plan," I was impressed that Sam could make a completely normal movie, meaning that he wasn't depending on kooky angles or special effects, but I didn't buy the story at all. I didn't understand why the Bill Paxton character, after going to college, was now filling grain bags, and I didn't buy for one second that he'd ever kill his brother. The shots of blackbirds in the trees was just pretentious and meaningless. I don't hate either movie, I just don't particularly like them.

Josh

Name:             Tim
E-mail:            timm@indra.com
Date:               08/04/17

Dear Josh :

I watched "Running Time" last night, and it blew me away. What an entertaining and audacious film. Bruce Campbell projected an easy, old-school masculinity that reminded me of stars from the 30s and 40s. Anita Barone's transition from tough hooker to vulnerable woman was authentic and amazing. The script was tight, suspenseful and utterly believable. I particularly liked the high school theme woven throughout. And that's some real bravura filmmaking. I've messed around with a video camera enough to know how hard shooting a continuous master shot can be. But what's great, too, is that it isn't just bravura work -- the form fits the work. Among the many fine moments, I have to say the sex scene was one of the best I've ever seen: you get the act. But, unlike more explicit scenes, this one keeps you in the story and with the characters (instead of, whoa, that's what NIcole Kidman's derriere looks like or, why is that guy all twisted up, oh, yeah, he doesn't want to show his wang ). What an audacious bet you made, and how well it turned out. Respect.

Dear Tim:

Thank you very much for that nice review. We certainly gave it the old college try. Although I don't know this for sure, it seems to me that Alejandro Inarritu and his buddy Alfonso Cuaron must have seen "Running Time" because their films: "Birdman," "Gravity" and "The Revenant" are all shot very much the same way. But they both did a whole lot better with it than I did.

Josh

Name:             Paul
E-mail:           
Date:               08/04/17

Dear Josh :

Not to harp on Dunkirk again but after reading the recent Time magazine pieces on Nolan and the movie, one comes away with the idea that storytelling comes secondary to presenting an experience, and what contemporary audiences want now is an experience, a sense of being taken somewhere else. Nolan uses the phrase "cinema of experience" to describe what he went after. So are traditional criteria for storytelling not useful in today's film climate ? One might even use the overused phrase "thrill ride" to describe the movie in a way. Being dropped in the midst of the events, little dialogue and use of character names all contribute to having the experience but take away from story.

Dear Paul:

As my buddy Rick used to say, and it is the key to storytelling, "If I can care I can have fun; if I don't care I can't have fun." Being dropped right into the action, or being immediately overwhelmed by special effects does not get one to care. And that's why you need an act one.

Josh

Name:             Paul
E-mail:           
Date:               08/02/17

Dear Josh :

Along with the previous comments on Dunkirk, Nolan goes back to his Memento style disjointed narrative but even more so as he has 3 or 4 timelines going on throughout. This I find gimmicky and distracting as I spent my time trying to put these in their right order. The film is also getting complaints for ignoring the French presence as well as the Indian and African one. This isn't something like "The Longest Day" where different sides are given story time, in fact I suppose Nolan is giving us the very English focused approach as a very British patriotic celebration of the event. By the way have you seen the 1958 British film "Dunkirk" ?

Dear Paul:

No, I haven't seen the 1958 version, but it sounds really good. As I just read, one of the last films made by Ealing Studios. But this idea that in "modern" filmmaking you don't take the time to set up your characters, but go straight into the action and let us figure out who everybody is along the way is bullshit and excuse for bad writing. As William Goldman has said, if an audience is ever going to be patient with you it's at the beginning of a film. The audience wants to be set up, and if they're not, they feel ripped-off, which is how most modern movies make me feel. My buddy keeps trying to convince me that setting up characters is old fashioned and out of style -- he uses my script "Devil Dogs: The Battle of Belleau Wood" as an example of this outmoded method -- and I think he's full of it.

Josh

Name:             Keith
E-mail:           
Date:               07/31/17

Dear Josh :

If you ever get around to seeing DUNKIRK, I'd love to read your analysis of it. It think it is a great example of why having an Act 1 is so important to good storytelling. Mr. Nolan never takes the time to set-up the story or really introduce us to the characters, starting more or less in the middle of the narrative. I felt bored by the constant noisy action sequences because I never grew to care about any of the characters. On top of this, the sound is mixed in such a way that the dialogue is often difficult to understand.

Dear Keith:

That doesn't surprise me at all.

Josh

Name:             Dan
E-mail:           
Date:               07/31/17

Dear Josh :

Oh, I didn't realize you stopped going to movie theaters because the movies were bad. Do you watch new movies at home?

Dear Dan:

All the time. I saw every film nominated for Best Picture last year and they all sucked. I will go so far as to say I think 2016 was the worst year for movies ever.

Josh

Name:             Dan
E-mail:           
Date:               07/30/17

Dear Josh :

Now that certain films are being shot and projected in theaters on 70mm film, would you consider getting back to the theaters for a movie or two?

Dear Dan:

What has 70mm got to do with it? They don't know how to make good movies anymore in any format. I did almost go see "Dunkirk," with great trepidation since I've never liked a single Christopher Nolan movie, but alas, the plans fell through.

Josh

Name:             Tim
E-mail:            timm@indra.com
Date:               07/30/17

Dear Josh :

Thanks for your answer, and for providing me with a nice list of titles to follow up on. Do you have a favorite Vonnegut novel? I went through a big phase, and still admire "Mother Night" a lot. Your mentioning Kesey reminded me of "Sometimes a Great Notion" -- which would be my nomination for the most neglected great novel I've ever read. I thought the film adaptation was pretty good -- did you? And, if that's not too much, we're in the 50th anniversary of the Detroit riots/uprising/rebellion. Of course, from what I've read here, you weren't at grand zero and were, like, 8 or 9 when they went down, but do you have any memories or reflections on them?

Dear Tim:

I forgot "Mother Night," which I've probably read ten times, and even took a crack at adapting into a screenplay when I was eighteen. I didn't know what I was doing and gave up pretty quickly. I like and have seen the movie "Sometimes a Great Notion" many times, including both of its premieres. It came out first under its real title, bombed, then was re-released a few months later as "Never Give an Inch." And as I thought about this topic of watching movies more than once, I think I've seen every movie that I ever liked more than once.

Regarding the Detroit Riots, I was indeed eight going on nine that summer, and I distinctly remember it. There was a curfew and as we played kick-ball in the street the cops came by and made us go inside. I lived two miles from Detroit at that time. My mom's favorite grocery store, which was a mile closer to Detroit, was burned down. A week after the riots my dad drove me down to 12th Street and Clairmont where it started, and where he grew up, and it was burnt charred destruction as far as you could see. Much of it stayed that way for the next 30 years. I have the distinction of having lived in two cities that had riots: Detroit and L.A. during the Rodney King riots, of which I was right in the middle. Buildings were burning all around me. Luckily for me, I lived directly across the street from the Hollywood police motor yard where they kept all of their police cars. The entire block was surrounded by police wearing flak jackets and holding shotguns.

Josh

Name:             Tim
E-mail:            timm@indra.com
Date:               07/24/17

Dear Josh :

And as a follow up to my earlier question: are there books you've re-read several times? If so, which ones?

Dear Tim:

Before the age of twenty-five I'll bet I read "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" about five times, and perhaps three times each with Kurt Vonnegut's books: "Slaughterhouse-Five," "Cat's Cradle," "Breakfast of Champions, "Sirens of Titan" and "Welcome to the Monkeyhouse." I read a number of Isaac Asimov's books several times. At the moment I'm rereading H.W. Brands' "Andrew Jackson: His Life and Times" a second time. I read "To Kill a Mockingbird" several times, as well as "The Collected Stories of Ernest Hemingway." I read Philip Roth's "Nemesis" twice. There's quite a few more.

Movie-wise, I don't know how many times I've seen: "Tender Mercies," "Bridge on the River Kwai," "Lawrence of Arabia, "Play it Again, Sam," "The Godfather" (which I saw in the theater 16 times), "The Godfather Part II" (14 times in the theater), "Black Narcissus," "The Maltese Falcon," "Casablanca," "The African Queen," "Mrs. Miniver, "The Best Years of Our Lives" (which I just watched again), "Ben Hur," many of William Wyler's movies, many of John Ford's films, like "The Quiet Man," "She Wore a Yellow Ribbon," "Stagecoach," "My Darling Clementine," many of Stanley Kubrick's movies, like "2001," "A Clockwork Orange," "Paths of Glory," also "Taxi Driver," "Raging Bull," "Mean Streets," "Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore" (which I just watched again), "Cabaret" (I just watched again), "West Side Story," "The Sound of Music," "The Sand Pebbles," "The Great Escape," "The Longest Day," "The Shootist," "The Last Detail," "Chinatown," "Network," "Ulzana's Raid," "The Dirty Dozen" (I just watched again), "Seven Days in May," "Spartacus," "The Bad and the Beautiful," "Lust for Life," "Gigi," this list just goes on and on.

Josh

Name:             Steve Lavender
E-mail:            sdlavender@gmail.com
Date:               07/24/17

Dear Josh :

Just wanted to tell you how much I admired your essays on Story Structure you wrote in the late 90s. Very clear and concise (and I've read Mckee, Field, Vogel, etc) I stumbled upon your website while strolling down memory lane, looking up people I used to know back in the Detroit days and I remembered you came and taught a class at an Acting Studio I was studying at and I gave you a ride home and we smoked a doob on the way. Hope someday you get to make that great feature you've got in you.

Dear Steve:

I really enjoyed teaching that class, Acting for Film, at what was then the Studio on Washington Ave. The couple who ran the studio, which is now the Actor's Workshop, Aida Munoz and Brian Lawrence, are doing the casting for my new film. I don't remember you driving me home, but thanks for the ride.

Josh

Name:             Paul
E-mail:           
Date:               07/22/17

Dear Josh :

Another thing about George Romero is him being typecast as the zombie guy and here is a quote on that: "As a filmmaker you get typecast just as much as an actor does, so I'm trapped in a genre that I love, but I'm trapped in it!". Bruce too might be seen as typecast or trapped as the goofy heroic guy, as "Ash" to his fan base despite his few non-goofy roles (Running Time, Burn Notice, and the his early obscure drama "Going Back"). Although both George and Bruce are fine with that. What other film people have either overcome being typecast or whose potential has suffered from it. I suppose you yourself might be stuck as the guy who knew those other guys who got big or maybe as the guy who did what he wanted to do like not make the same movie twice. Thanks

Dear Paul:

Or, mostly as the guy who used to direct Xena . . . and as the guy who grew up with Bruce and Sam. I think Bruce's character on "Burn Notice," named Sam, was just another variation on the goofy guy he's played so often, albeit more realistic. Hollywood wants to typecast you if they can. The Director's Guild only recognizes me as a one-hour TV director no matter how many features I make. Oh well.

Josh

Name:             Bob
E-mail:           
Date:               07/22/17

Dear Josh :

I was on a flight and I watched Arrival. I wasn't expecting much and to me that what was delivered. The aliens were these giant squid creatures that communicated with squid ink. The plot of the movie seemed to be a collage of themes of other first contact movies and stories, from War of the Worlds, Childhood's End, Close Encounters, Contact, V. It is getting good reviews, but I didn't see much original there and couldn't get past the suspension of disbelief with the squid creatures and just the overall political climate and public disinterest in belief in making alien contact which was a big fad in the 70s. The pacing was also slow and dreary and the acting not particularly exceptional. Do you think that Hollywood should give first contact movies a rest?

Dear Bob:

You say that like there are other types of stories that Hollywood handles well and should stick to. They don't know what stories to tell or how to tell them at all. I'm put in mind of a ethnically insensitive joke I heard in elementary school -- Why don't Polacks have ice cubes? They lost the recipe. Why doesn't Hollywood make good movies anymore? They lost the recipe.

Josh

Name:             Nikolay Yeriomin
E-mail:            nikolayyeriomin@gmail.com
Date:               07/18/17

Dear Josh :

I find it really amazing that you've met both George A. Romero and Martin Landau (R.I.P. 2017 is one of those years for celebrity deaths...) in person, and so much more interesting people: Werner Herzog, John Landis, Anthony Queen... The question I wanted to ask is whether you ever get used to that? I've only meet a handful of famous people and it is really hard to overcome that fear to actually converse with them and get the most out of the conversation (in terms of experience and inspiration, of course)... One of the people I really want to meet in person some day is you, by the way. Yours sincerely, Nikolay Yeriomin.

Dear Nikolay:

Every year is a year for celebrity deaths, just watch the "In Memorium" section of the Oscars. It's different hanging out with someone for a while then just meeting them. It's an electric feeling meeting a famous person -- and I've had opportunity to watch hundreds of people go through it with Bruce Campbell -- but after you've had a couple of drinks with somebody and have been hanging out for a while, it quickly passes. I spent the entire evening of Sam Raimi's bachelor party hanging out with Bill Paxton -- literally hours -- and he's just a friendly fellow after a point. I never got to that place with Anthony Quinn, even though we did have dinner a few times, but he was Anthony Fucking Quinn. With an asswipe like Stephen Baldwin you get over it immediately.

Josh

Name:             David R.
E-mail:           
Date:               07/18/17

Dear Josh :

Do you think there are any great concert films? For example, the late Jonathan Demme's "Stop Making Sense"?

Dear David:

One of my very favorite movies that I've watched too many times to calculate is "Woodstock." The scenes with Richie Havens, Ten Years After and Santana are as good as concert film has ever gotten. And the cut to black near the end of Santana's "Soul Sacrifice" is one of my favorite cuts in all movies (the cut was made by Thelma Schoonmaker and Martin Scorsese). I think "Monterey Pop" is terrific. If I could edit out all of the sailboat footage, I really like "Jazz On a Summer's Day." I enjoyed Michael Jackson's "This Is It." In a dreadful way I really like "Gimme Shelter." I recently watched "Isle of Wight" which is another version of Woodstock-gone-wrong, and not all that good, but interesting. I like Barbara Kopple's compilation of the three Woodstock festivals. Also, Barbara Kopple's "Wild Man Blues," about Woody Allen's jazz band is a good one.

Josh

Name:             Luke
E-mail:           
Date:               07/17/17

Dear Josh :

Ah shit...and now I see Martin Landau is dead too. Damn! Don't these things usually come in threes? I shudder the thought...anyhow, even if you end up not showering praise upon Romero, I'm guessing you have a lot to say about Martin Landau. My personal favorite role of his was his underrated Twilight Zone appearance in the episode "The Jeopardy Room." Others that immediately spring to mind are North by Northwest, Ed Wood, and most vividly, Crimes and Misdemeanors. His final scene in that film was absolutely haunting.

Dear Luke:

Martin Landau was 89, that's plenty. You can't feel bad when I man lives a very full life, wins an Oscar, is well-respected by his peers, then dies at damn near 90. I met Mr. Landau at a horror convention in Meadowlands, N.J. He and I ended up in the elevator alone and I said, "You were brilliant in 'Ed Wood,' and what was it like working with Hitchcock on 'North By Northwest'?"

He then gave me a somewhat condescending lecture about NBNW being an "amalgamation of Hitchcock's earlier films," as though I couldn't possibly have seen any other Hitchcock films or know anything about it. Woody Allen commented about him, "He's the only actor I've ever worked with who delivered my lines exactly as I wrote them." And Landau said that he
"treated all texts like Shakespeare." Well, as a writer that made me love him.

Josh

Name:             Luke
E-mail:           
Date:               07/17/17

Dear Josh :

Any thoughts on the passing of George Romero? It probably goes without saying that he cleared the way for movies like Evil Dead and Thou Shall Not Kill. I think Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead, and Martin are incredible examples of indie filmmaking and are among the best horror movies ever made. I also think there's a great deal of fun to be had in several other of his films, like Creepshow and The Crazies. Knightriders, while only so-so, was actually very interesting and ambitious in its aims and demonstrates that he had a one-of-a-kind artistic voice and wasn't just "another" horror director.

Dear Luke:

Aside from everything else, George Romero was an extremely pleasant, upbeat, funny guy -- not exactly what you'd expect from the King of the Zombie Movies. Bruce and I met George several times at the then-annual Anchor Bay bash in Las Vegas that we used to regularly attend. George, Bruce and I ended up in the bar drinking and bullshitting a few times over the years and he was this exceptionally tall, bearded, funny, smiling man. Then Bruce and I would go hang with Werner Herzog and his brother, then with Crispin Glover and his mortician girlfriend, then maybe with John Landis, who didn't seem all that friendly. Goofy parties, those.

Josh

Name:             Paul
E-mail:           
Date:               07/14/17

Dear Josh :

No question just a documentary you might find interesting, from 2015 "Steve McQueen: The Man and Lemans" I was waiting for a doctors appointment and leafing through a car magazine where I read about it. It is about McQueens obsession with racing and the film he wanted to make and how that fell apart. Built off of audio tapes of him and film he took inside the race car.

Dear Paul:

He did make "Le Mans" in 1971, and as I recall it was pretty good. One of the better car racing movies. Thanks for the recommendation.

Josh

Name:             Nikolay Yeriomin
E-mail:            nikolayyeriomin@gmail.com
Date:               07/11/17

Dear Josh :

A lot of people are criticizing reshoots nowadays as each and every big budgeted movie goes through such extensively. Of course, the problem was always there with big budget movies ("The Magnificent Ambersons" is just one example). What is your opinion on reshoots and were you ever caught into extensive ones during your own productions? Yours sincerely, Nikolay Yeriomin.

Dear Nikolay:

There are reshoots and there is pick-up shooting, which means you're shooting scenes or shots you haven't already gotten. I haven't done a lot of reshooting -- a few shots that were soft, or an insert that didn't cut -- but I've done pick-up shooting on TSNKE, "Lunatics" and "Running Time," where I shot entirely new scenes for the films. On "The Magnificent Ambersons" there was no reshooting -- redoing scenes that had already been shot -- but there was pick-up shooting of scenes that tried to connect things up after 45 minutes was deleted, and a new ending. Regarding these big expensive movies going through extensive reshooting, I think they're just a bunch of insecure assholes who haven't got a clue what they're doing. As my set construction buddy in Hollywood once said, "The producers can't change the sets until they're built and they can see them." That's what's going on. They can't really fuck with it until they can see it.

Josh

Name:             Roger S
E-mail:           
Date:               07/04/17

Dear Josh :

No it's all shit. I've crewed on movies for going on 30 years. Electric work. I've spent 12, 14, 16, 18, 21, 26, 36 hours a day on film sets, like I said, for 30 years. I don't give a shit about movies anymore, good, bad or otherwise. I. Just. Don't. Give. A. Shit. Anymore. Is this wrong of me?

Dear Roger:

If you don't care anymore then you don't. I still do. I honestly believe that movies are an art form, and that there a multitude of other stories to tell and many ways to tell them. I think my new movie will be good, and part of the reason I'm making it, among others, is to prove that good films can still be made, and it doesn't take millions to do it. And I'm still able to dig out movie that are worth watching, too. There are several new documentaries that are worth checking out: "Everything is Copy - Nora Ephron" and "Uneasy Rider," about Dennis Hopper. "Character" from 2009, "Spellbound" (2002), and an interesting, if not entirely successful, black and white indie, "Judy Berlin," from 1999. But I totally understand giving up on new movies.

Josh

Name:             Susan Adams
E-mail:           
Date:               07/04/17

Dear Josh :

I laughed my ass off reading your latest essay where you spoke of your neighbors. I'm sorry I didn't understand the video camera on the deer run. What is a deer run? Why would you videotape it? Can you tell us more about your neighbors. Why were you over there is you knew better to be there?

Dear Susan:

It's a deer blind if I didn't say that. It's a place where humans hide so they can shoot deer. I don't shoot deer and never would. I find them to be majestic, beautiful creatures that wander around my neighborhood all the time, and I always feel blessed to see them. Anyway, Tom, my neighbor from across the street who lives in his parents' garage (at the age of 50), has a deer blind in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, about 500 miles away, and since he rarely actually goes there, he has a motion-controlled camera that takes pictures when something moves in the vicinity -- deer, raccoons, whatever -- and he sits there drinking beer and watching. I went into his garage once because, after living across the street for a decade, he invited me. Tom also has an arsenal in there -- maybe 8 to 10 rifles, and I have no idea how many pistols.

Josh

Name:             David R.
E-mail:           
Date:               07/04/17

Dear Josh :

I seem to really enjoy films set in the sandy dunes of the African and Middle Eastern deserts, and I was hoping you could introduce me to more. "Lawrence of Arabia" is the most famous of course, but I also really like: "Theeb". I'm looking for more like either of those. P.S. If you haven't seen "Theeb" I highly recommend it.

Dear David:

"Theeb" looks good and I've put it on my Netflix list. Other good desert movies are: "Sahara" (1943) with Humphrey Bogart; "Khartoum" (1966) with Charelton Heston (not pulling off his British accent) and Laurence Olivier as the Arab leader, who's great and everything he says sound exactly like Islamist rhetoric of today; "The Lost Patrol" (1934) starring Victor Mclaglen, Boris Karloff in a great part, and directed by John Ford; "Hell's Heroes" (1929) directed by William Wyler, and my pick as Best Picture of 1929; "Flight of the Phoenix" (1965). Try those.

Josh

Name:             Dean
E-mail:           
Date:               07/04/17

Dear Josh :

In general, do you prefer wide lenses or 'long' more telephoto lenses? Thanks

Dear Dean:

I much prefer wide angle lenses to long lenses. Long lenses certainly have their purpose, and I've experimented with them and gotten good results. I have a scene in the Xena episode "Blind Faith, where I shot a long dialog scene using a 600mm lens with a doubler on it making it 1200mm, and it's a cool shot. 85-150mm lenses, if you can get far enough back, make for pretty close-ups with out of focus backgrounds. But mostly I like wide lenses shoved up into people's faces (not pretty girls). I have a particular affinity for the 12mm, 16mm, and the 24mm.

Josh

Name:             Roger S
E-mail:           
Date:               07/02/17

Dear Josh :

Are you looking forward to any new films or is everything coming out soon just gonna be shit?

Dear Roger:

I don't know, you tell me. Is there something you're looking forward to? The movie that's getting the stink right now is "The Beguiled," and considering the original was made by a far better director with a far better lead actor, it wasn't very good, so how on earth can this remake be any good? Sofia Coppola will never get anywhere near the standing of Don Siegel and he couldn't do anything with that material, which is really its own kind of rip-off of "King's Row," a far better movie. The final gag, which I won't reveal, was used better in an episode of "Night Gallery." So, other than "cute" nonsense like "The Big Sick," what is there?

Josh

Name:             Jeff
E-mail:           
Date:               06/28/17

Dear Josh :

It seems to me that film historians, when assessing the legacies of actors and actresses, typically over-emphasize the success (financial or critical) of the movies those performers appeared in as a metric of their talents - an outcome over which actors and actresses often have little control. One might even say an actor's legacy is more affected by his or her ability to pick good projects than their respective skill set. So I'm wondering who you might nominate as the "Greatest actors (and actresses) undervalued because they picked awful movies" and alternatively the "Most mediocre actors given undue attention because they picked great movies." Thanks! Jeff

Dear Jeff:

It's a combination of skill/talent and taste, meaning which projects you choose. As I pointed out somewhere along the line in the nearly 20 years of this Q&A, after being asked over and over who was my favorite actor, then really sitting down and thinking about it, my "favorite" actor is Burt Lancaster because, aside from being talented, he was in the most good movies of any actor I could think of. He had the best taste in choosing his projects -- many of which he produced -- combined with not only enormous talent, but that he was he was also a former acrobat and would add bits into his films just to show off, like when he climbs up the side of a cliff hand over hand up a rope in "The Professionals," and he's already about 60 years old. Anyway, choosing the right projects is a big part of the game.

Josh

Name:             Paul
E-mail:           
Date:               06/28/17

Dear Josh :

Interesting that your friend Rick hated "Rocky" and Stallone. Was it the sentimentality or the rah rah attitude or the great white hope aspect of the character or that he saw Stallone as just a big lummox or something else? "Rambo" would have made him puke I suppose. Not liking Charlie Sheen was curious as he had only a few credits to that time that I know of. It brought to mind a short bit George Carlin has about his dislike for John Wayne, which I share by the way. Are there any actors that you can't abide? Myself I dislike Wayne, Mickey Rooney, and find wacky comics like Robin Williams too much at times. Thanks

Dear Paul:

Rick didn't like Stallone because he didn't like him, his personality, his vibe. He didn't like John Wayne or Kirk Douglas, either, both of whom I like. I appreciate movie stars with big personalities, like Charlton Heston, or even Rock Hudson, who didn't make very many good movies, but he had charisma. I can even deal with Paul Muni, who was a ham of the first order, but he filled the frame. The same with Joan Crawford. But what passes for stars now, like Jeremy Renner or Mark Wahlberg or Scarlett Johansson or Jake Gyllenhall or Kirsten Dunst or Kristen Stewart or Jesse Eisenberg are just roaming holes in the screen.

Josh

Name:             Bob
E-mail:           
Date:               06/21/17

Dear Josh :

Have you read or heard of the book "Altamont" by Joel Selvin, a former music writer with the San Francisco Chronicle? It is as you might imagine, about the 1969 Altamont concert. I saw that "Gimme Shelter" is on your favorite films list, so I thought if you weren't aware about the book you might be interested. It was just published in 2016, so it has that freshness about it. It is divided into three parts - Part I the 1969 Rolling Stones tour and planning for the concert - Part II the concert itself and Part III the aftermath with a detailed account of the trial of Alan Passaro and the legacy of Altamont. It is written in this chronological journalistic style like Jim Bishop, Walter Lord or Truman Capote and there is this mounting tension while reading the book. I like to read, but I have trouble finding good books to read. I thought this one was great.

Dear Bob:

Sounds interesting. Altamont was the exact opposite side of the coin from Woodstock. If you enjoy books about music and musicians, may I suggest: "Life" by Keith Richards, "The Autobiography" by Eric Clapton and "Long Time Gone" by David Crosby and Carl Gottlieb (who co-wrote the script for "Jaws"). I've got an entire shelf of musician bios and autobiographies.

Josh

Name:             Nikolay Yeriomin
E-mail:            nikolayyeriomin@gmail.com
Date:               06/21/17

Dear Josh :

Among movies which Rick Sandford was for and you was against there is "Vagabond". There are quite a lot of movies, most common being 1916 Chaplin comedy, and two French movies: 1992 one and a 1985 movie which is actually "Sans toit ni loi" ("without roof nor law"). Is it one of those? I should say it is also quite difficult to find anything on Rick Sandford on the web, not to mention his reviews. Have you ever considered dedicating something in his memory? Yours sincerely, Nikolay Yeriomin.

Dear Nikolay:

It's the 1985 Agnes Varda movie with Sandrine Bonnaire, who is very good and plays angry well. I just saw her in the 2009 film, "Queen to Play," with Kevin Kline, that I thought was pretty good.

Here's a photo of Rick and his cat, Stevie, which became my cat Stevie for the next seven years.

Josh


Name:             Stan Wrightson
E-mail:           
Date:               06/21/17

Dear Josh :

Have you been reading any good books lately? Have you read Ted Kotcheff's book yet? I really dug it.

Dear Stan:

I haven't read Ted Kotcheff's book yet, but I'd like to. I just finished "The Meaning of Everything" by Simon Winchester, about the creation of the Oxford English Dictionary, which took 80 years, and the participation of thousands. I'm now reading another book by Simon Winchester entitled, "The Map That Changed the World," about the first topographical map in history.

Josh

Name:             Keith
E-mail:            keithhward@gmail.com
Date:               06/21/17

Dear Josh :

I'm somewhat surprised that Rick Sandford didn't like "Goodfellas". What were his reasons?

Dear Keith:

Rick felt that it was a retread of his previous work, and that, having not made a hit film in a number of years, he had given in to studio pressure and made the movie they wanted him to make. He thought that it was "uninspired." I thought that it was particularly inspired and was Scorsese back in fine form. Little did I know that it would be his last good film ever.

Josh

Name:             Brian
E-mail:           
Date:               06/16/17

Dear Josh :

You mentioned your friend Rick was a harsher critic than you were....were there any films that you two had clear cut disagreements about as far as quality?

Dear Brian:

Here's a quick list that just jumped to mind:

Rick For, Me Against: Naked Lunch, Since You went Away, Nashville, Harry Langdon, Brazil, Pulp Fiction, Vagabond.

Me For, Rick Against: Rocky, Goodfellas, Unforgiven, Charlie Chaplin.

Here's an example of why he was more harsh than me -- a lot more harsh. He hated "Rocky" (which is insane to me), he hated Sylvester Stallone, and boycotted every other movie he ever made from there on out. He dismissed "Platoon" because he didn't like Charlie Sheen, who I think gives the best performance of his whole career. You can't just dismiss "Platoon."

A fact I love and cherish of my late friend, Rick Sandford. He joined a gay writer's group and was finally thrown out because he was too brutally honest, and they needed a safe place to meet.

Josh

Name:             Nikolay Yeriomin
E-mail:            nikolayyerioin@gmail.com
Date:               06/11/17

Dear Josh :

Since you're a rare person who maintains a list of movies you've seen I wonder how much have you seen by the age of 25? Also I always wondered whether you include short films and/or television episodes in the list, since you've mentioned "Un Chien Andalou" a one point. Yours sincerely, Nikolay Yeriomin.

Dear Nikolay:

Short films and TV shows are not on the list. I did, however, begin including HBO movies at a point because they were so far superior to the drek that was being released at the theaters. As of last night, BTW, I reached 5,167 with "Anne of Green Gables" (1934). And as of the end of 1983 when I was 25, I had seen 2,025 films.

Josh

Name:             Derrick
E-mail:            Vacdoomed@gmail.com
Date:               06/01/17

Dear Josh :

I recently stumbled upon Running Time. It really has a great tone it reminded me of that mid 90's pop of great independent films that came out. It really has a unique and bold style. No offense but I have never been a fan of the Evil Dead Series or Bruce Campbell character. I do however love what he does on burn notice. I really think he playes a nice nuanced and straight performance in your film. I was curious if that was something you incouraged. If so was there a thought that his popularity is to go over the top and that your film might be a role the ED fans might no be ready for. I wonder that about many films where an actor famous for playing a particular style and if that is a hard thing to challeng when they play against type. I find one instance where this was tried with Tom Hanks in Road to Perdition. I just could not erase his good guy image to buy him as a killer. Hope this finds you well and kudos again for a really interesting and off beat film. It made my evening. Derrick

Dear Derrick:

Bruce has a much greater range as an actor then he is generally called upon to use. He gained his fame in over-the-top parts and that's usually how he's cast, and of course he's extremely good at it. But I think playing a straighter, more dramatic role was part of the appeal of making "Running Time," as well as the continuous takes, which were fun for the actors and difficult for the cameraman and the boom operator. I am attempting right now to lure him into playing the lead in my new movie, "Morning, Noon & Night," where he would play a corporate executive who is a drug addict. He's never played anything like it and I just know that he'd nail it, and get a lot more drama and laughs than are written on the page. In this case, and RT, it has nothing to do with playing against type because it's entirely within Bruce's range. I'm glad you enjoyed the film

Josh

Name:             Paul
E-mail:           
Date:               06/01/17

Dear Josh :

Regarding your BTTF story. Was Sam being his regular self at the movie, or was he annoying you on purpose? Also do you know anyone else in you circle or outside of it that shares your very specific opinion on movies?

Dear Paul:

Sam was just being his regular old annoying self, although I do think he particularly enjoyed annoying me. The last film we saw together was "Pearl Harbor," and he did the same annoying shit throughout that film, too. After the film I said, "Well, that was a piece of shit," and he seemed honestly shocked and said, "No, it was great."

Regarding your second question, no, no one within the group had anything like my taste in films, but then none of them has seen all that many movies. I'd probably seen more movies by the time I was twenty-one than any of them has seen in their lives. I did have a friend, Rick Sandford, who had similar taste to mine, but he was way harsher than me, and way pickier. He had also seen many more movies than me. He died when he was forty-five and I'm now fifty-eight and I've just recently caught up to him.

Josh

Name:             Gwen
E-mail:           
Date:               06/01/17

Dear Josh :

What do you think is David Lean's best film? Do you like any of his earlier work before he made only epics?

Dear Gwen:

"The Bridge on the River Kwai," no question. I do love about the first two-thirds of "Lawrence of Arabia," but it falls apart at the end, which both David Lean and screenwriter Robert Bolt felt, too. I like most of Lean's earlier movies, such as: "In Which We Serve," "Brief Encounter," "Great Expectations, "Oliver Twist," "Breaking Through the Sound Barrier," "Summertime," and "Hobson's Choice," which is a surprisingly feminist film for it's time. His two Dickens adaptions are exceptional, both of which he co-wrote.

Josh

Name:             Stan Wrightson
E-mail:           
Date:               05/30/17

Dear Josh :

Are there any Alfred Hitchcock films that you really hate? I just watched his film STAGE FRIGHT for the first time. It was visually arresting of course. And there were some story elements I found interesting and I liked Alistair Sim's performance. But I found the writing unconscionably bad and I hated the characters I was supposed to like. So frustrating!

Dear Stan:

There are many Hitchcock films I don't like and "Stage Fright" is one of them. Here are some others I really can't stand: "The Family Plot," "Topaz," "The Trouble With Harry," "Mr. and Mrs. Smith," "Jamaica Inn," "Under Capricorn," as well as a number of his early films like "Juno and Paycock," but luckily most of those have slipped my mind.

Josh

Name:             Nikolay Yeriomin
E-mail:            nikolayyeriomin@gmail.com
Date:               05/30/17

Dear Josh :

While a lot of people complained about that in my humble opinion "Twin Peaks" started to be much more interesting after the reveal of Laura Palmer's murderer, which was actually a McGuffin of lesser importance in the show to begin with. Season 2 also had a lot of good guest stars including Ted Raimi who appeared in two episodes and, I believe, filmed his scenes at around the same time "Lunatics: A Love Story" was released. As for themes, I really love the idea that theme is what separates some of the better movies, but it contradicts slightly with your dislike for superhero movies, which are all about themes these days, while also being mostly too formulaic to stand on their own. Christopher Nolan's Batman movies specifically based themselves around one-word themes: fear, chaos and pain. In my humble opinion only the first one actually worked. The question I wonder about is whether you recall movies which had multiple themes and yet were good by your standards or had themes, but showcased them rather bizarrely by any standards? Yours sincerely, Nikolay Yeriomin.

Dear Nikolay:

Having multiple themes is the same thing as having no theme. If you have more than one you've entirely missed the point. The theme is the unifying concept and therefore there can only be one. Regarding Batman and "Twin Peaks," fuck them.

Josh

Name:             Brian
E-mail:            mackbryan1986@gmail.com
Date:               05/29/17

Dear Josh :

Sorry if this sounds too open ended...but say you were giving advice to a film student and he/she was comparing a film like Bridge on the River Kwai with a typical modern film...what kind of things would you tell them to focus on that sets Kwai apart? im sure many filmmakers would benefit from knowing the distinction.

Dear Brian:

I have a whole chapter on this in my filmmaking book. But the first concept is the theme. What is the story's theme, which is what it's all about. Most movies don't have a theme and therefore aren't really about anything. The theme of "Kwai" is duty. What does duty mean to each of those characters? And the more characters that you can weave your theme into the stronger your story will be. Doing their duty has a different meaning to Colonel Nicholson than it does to Colonel Saito or the doctor or Holden's character or Jack Hawkins' character or the young soldier. If you have a strong theme than when you're writing the script you always know why you're writing a scene -- you're expanding on the theme. If you write a scene that has nothing to do with the theme then it shouldn't be there. Suddenly it informs the whole script. The best themes are generally one word: duty, trust, anger, commitment, etc. The plot, which is all that you possibly get anymore in modern movies, is the dray horse of storytelling -- this leads to that which leads to this which leads to that. But a theme informs your characters; why are they doing what they're doing, other than simply to move the plot along? That's the biggest lesson I took from "Kwai."

Josh

Name:             Len
E-mail:           
Date:               05/29/17

Dear Josh :

Moderate intelligence? I'm surprised you think this highly of me. Thanks. If you're right about me, then I have to assume I'm wrong about you. Sorry about that. Since you brought it up, do you think working in the business or having anything to do with entertainment will help qualify someone as an expert? Do you listen to other critics opinions if they've never sat behind a camera themselves?

Dear Len:

I think, for the most part, critics are useless. As Jean-Luc Godard said, "Critics are soldiers who fire on their own men." I did like Pauline Kael very much, and to a far lesser degree, Gene Siskel, but that's about it. And it would certainly help movie critics a lot if they had the slightest clue how films are made and how scripts are written. I also appreciate your measured response, and now I feel slightly foolish. Thanks.

Josh

Name:             Len
E-mail:           
Date:               05/29/17

Dear Josh :

One more thing... your career has nothing to do with your taste? Does that mean you've never made a movie you liked?

Dear Len:

Let me rephrase that, a lot of my career has nothing to do with my taste. I spent years directing TV shows that I would never watch left to my own accord. I think if I just happened upon TSNKE, "Lunatics" or "Alien Apocalypse" I'd appreciate the filmmaker's ambitions, but I don't know if I'd be a fan of the movies. I will, however, stand behind "Running Time" and "If I Had a Hammer" as representations of my taste. Ultimately, I think I have better taste as a film-goer than a filmmaker, at least so far.

Josh

Name:             Larry
E-mail:            wtlt187@aol.com
Date:               05/29/17

Dear Josh :

DID J P KENNEDY OWN THE PATHE STUDIO IN NYC ON DEC 10,1929

Dear larry:

I'd say yes. It was right around then that Kennedy was buying up film companies and merging them with his company, FBO, which would soon become RKO. And a big part of RKO was Pathe and their sound stages in Culver City, next to MGM, which are still there and still in use (they were previously the Thomas Ince Studio, then Cecil B. DeMille's Studio, then Pathe). I actually just watched the only film I can ever recall seeing with the FBO logo, which was Frank Capra's 1929 film, "The Younger Generation."

Josh

Name:             Len
E-mail:           
Date:               05/28/17

Dear Josh :

Point is, some white kid didn't influence Chuck Berry, but Chuck Berry influenced some white kid that went back in time and played Chuck Berry's song. Therefore, your beef makes no sense. But it doesn't matter. That Chuck Berry joke is all of 10 seconds of screen time in a two hour movie, but you use it to blast the whole movie as garbage. Sometimes it seems you look for a single flaw in a movie to use to blast the whole thing, so you can keep living in a world where nobody can possibly make anything good anymore... because if someone in Hollywood can make something good then your excuse for Hollywood not accepting you because you're too old fashioned doesn't hold up. Am I right?

Dear Len:

No, you're wrong. But since I don't know you any better than you know me, here, let me tell you who you are. You are a simple, average moviegoer of moderate intelligence, who believes that if his run-of-the-mill opinion isn't agreed with then whoever has disagreed with him must have some personal motive for not liking the average, run-of-the-mill nonsense that you like. The difference between us is that I have taste and you don't. Taste is based on experience. I have seen as many movies as is humanly possible, which gives me the ability to compare them all. If you've only seen a limited amount of movies, then you are doomed to only compare the average junk with the average junk that you clearly enjoy. My career has nothing to do with my taste. What is it that you do that makes you an expert? Are you in the film business? Have you anything to do with entertainment? Or are you just an average internet troll? And what makes you think for one tiny second you have the slightest clue who I am? You don't. You think you know something, but alas, you know nothing. So hide behind your anonymity because it's your only shield.

Josh

Name:             Nikolay Yeriomin
E-mail:            nikolayyeriomin@gmail.com
Date:               05/28/17

Dear Josh :

Wanted to ask my own question, but just couldn't resist commenting on a few things people wrote before as well. The first being that series premiere on film festivals - as Cannes recently applauded David Lynch's continuation of "Twin Peaks" (haven't seen the new one yet but it seems like something I might really like) I wanted to ask whether you've seen the original series back when they were on air? Second is that rant about you not being a script reader in formative years - the other two movies Tim meant were most likely "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" and "Goonies". I frankly haven't seen the latter one yet, but I would love to hear your opinion on the former. Especially since it has great end credits and my own question is that what are your favorite end credits of all time, that got you sitting all through? I'm pretty sure "The Magnificent Ambersons" are on the list They're on mine, surely, although I usually sit through credits anyhow as I enjoy to read them - it's just my thing... Yours sincerely, Nikolay Yeriomin.

Dear Nikolay:

I was out travelling the country when "Twin Peaks" initially premiered, so I missed the first five or six episodes. When I got to L.A. my cousin had taped them. I sat down and watched them all and I was appalled. My reaction was, "This should just be called 'Red Herrings,' because every episode is nothing more than pointing the finger at every resident of Twin Peaks and implying that they killed Laura Palmer." This is interspersed with Kyle McLachlan saying dumbass shit, like, "Now that's a fine cup of coffee," which I suspected was supposed to fill in for any actual humor or characterization. And so I never watched another second of that stupid show. And the only reason it's back is because David Lynch needs money to pay his mortgage and can't come up with a new idea to save his life (or his house).

Here's what "The Goonies" means to me. Sam, Bruce, Rob and I went by the set while they were shooting there on the Universal lot, and the assistant director was Newt Arnold, who only has one eye. As we left, Sam quipped, "Who has the eye of Newt?" The movie itself was simply unbearable shit.

I hated "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" within mere minutes due to the useless, painful looking into the lens, which has only been pulled off successfully by Groucho Marx and Woody Allen, and only for short periods of time. But, then again, I can easily live without any of John Hughes' films.

And yes, "The Magnificent Ambersons" has the greatest end credits. Otherwise, none come to mind.

Josh

Name:             Len
E-mail:           
Date:               05/28/17

Dear Josh :

The character in Back to the Future didn't create that song, he just covered it... cause he's from the future. Chuck Berry actually created the song. Chuck Berry actually wrote Jonny Be Good, not the filmmakers of Back to the Future.

Dear Len:

No kidding? Here, I'll tell you yet another reason why I don't like that film. I had the great misfortune of seeing it with Sam Raimi. Every five or ten minutes during the film Sam would proclaim in my ear, "This is great! Isn't this great?" And I'd reply, over and over again, "Shhh. Not now." So, by the time that film ended, no matter what it was, I was going to hate it. I have seen it since and still don't like it, but my perspective is clouded.

Josh

Name:             Tim
E-mail:           
Date:               05/27/17

Dear Josh :

I'm so thankful you weren't a script reader in my formative years. "Horse shit. Nobody can turn a Delorean into a time machine. Next." "Bullshit. There's no such thing as the force. Next." "You're trying to tell me a kid skipping school could sing in a parade out of the clear blue sky? Pass." "That group of kids could never survive all those boobie traps. Gimme a break." "Screw off. No alien would ever like reese's pieces."

Dear Tim:

Luckily, those weren't my formative years. I don't know what you're referring to with a kid singing in a parade, or kids surviving booby traps (although they don't sound good), but as for "Back to the Future" or "E.T.," I can live without both of those movies. Some dumbass white kid showed Chuck Berry how to rock & roll? It's insulting. And by the time the kids were flying their bicycles past the moon I could easily have walked out of that movie. Sadly, you were brought up on mindless horseshit, and now your generation makes nothing but mindless horseshit. And the next generation after that is just clueless. And, as I've said before, after one "Star Wars" movie I never needed to see another one. And may the force be with you.

Josh

Name:             Jake
E-mail:           
Date:               05/26/17

Dear Josh :

Have you given Breaking Bad a try? Reasons to watch -- The most acclaimed show of this generation. The best cinematography of any television show, ever. It is top-level movie quality. It was also one of the last shows shot entirely on film. Bryan Cranston won three consecutive best actor Emmy's, and four overall. I believe you said you like him as an actor, and he called Walter White his best role. The Bridge on the River Kwai appears on TV in an episode of the show. Vince Gilligan, the show's creator, is a big fan - this offers a hint to his love and respect for great screenwriting. The story is meticulously plotted, something the writers have compared to the chess matches between Boris Spassky and Bobby Fischer.

Dear Jake:

At several people's urging I watched the first three episodes and found it to be complete bullshit. Why the fuck would you manufacture meth in a mobile home sitting on the side of the road with absolutely nothing shielding you from view? Anyone driving by can see you and your busted. And what's with this nonsense of taking off his pants? And that's Bryan Cranston's favorite role? How about LBJ? And that's good writing? Why? That may well be "good" for this day and age, but that doesn't actually make it good. Sorry, not for me.

Josh

Name:             Jake
E-mail:           
Date:               05/20/17

Dear Josh :

The world is changing. TV shows are premiering at Sundance, and, more recently, at Cannes. In 10 years the Emmys will have greater prestige than The Oscars and movies will be an afterthought.

Dear Jake:

Perhaps so, but they're both just variations of the same form -- filmed entertainment. I certainly won't defend movies which are just terrible, but any time I get talked into watching a series, within two or three episodes it just seems like a slower version of the same horseshit and I bail out. Whether it's movies or series TV it still seems to me that nobody has a story to tell anymore. Regarding award shows, they're all self-aggrandizing bullshit. The only thing the Oscars have going for them is they're the oldest. The best thing that's happened at the Oscars in at least a decade was the screw up of Best Picture last year.

Josh

Name:             Harry J. Stark
E-mail:            harryjstark@outlook.com
Date:               05/20/17

Dear Josh :

Thank you for answering my previous question. I am curious as to what the ideal cost would be now for a feature independent film that's shot in 4K digital? 200k still?

Dear Harry:

It entirely depends on your script. The script that I've written is extremely easy to shoot -- no special effects, no action scenes, a reasonably small cast -- that's mostly two or three actors in various rooms talking. I've scheduled it for 15 days of shooting, which is three, 5-day weeks. The entire crew is 12 people. I feel fairly certain that I can bring this film in for a bit less than $100,000. You could do it for less than that depending on how much you pay the cast and crew. I work with two rates of pay: $200 a day or $100 a day, both of which are above minimum wage here in Michigan so I can get workman's comp through the state. Nobody works for free. This is a paid crew and nobody is doing anybody a favor. That's the only way I'll pull off shooting a feature in 15 days.

Josh

Name:             Harry J. Stark
E-mail:            harryjstark@outlook.com
Date:               05/13/17

Dear Josh :

This might be a stupid question but have your views on digital filmmaking changed since the release of your book "The Complete Guide To Low-Budget Feature Filmmaking?" By the way, I absolutely love your book and have been promoting it to all my friends.

Dear Harry:

My views on digital filmmaking have changed completely since I wrote that book in 2002. My next feature will be shot in 4K digital. In 2002 it was still a royal pain in the ass to shoot digital, then try to get the film released. Now it's the standard. It's not like I didn't suspect it was coming -- I did include the chapter -- but here it is. Shooting film at this point is ridiculous. It adds enormous cost and hassle for no good reason. Were that book ever to be updated, that section would completely change.

Josh

Name:             Tim
E-mail:           
Date:               05/11/17

Dear Josh :

Okay. Do you think art can be created without "wise suggestions"? Can you paint something without rules?

Dear Tim:

Of course it can, but try looking at it this way -- art is a peak of craftsmanship. When you get really, really good at what you're doing, then it's possible -- possible -- to reach the level of art. But if you think you can jump right in to being an artist without knowing your craft, well, you're kidding yourself.

Josh

Name:             Tim
E-mail:           
Date:               05/11/17

Dear Josh :

Do you consider there to be hard and fast rules for screenwriting or do you consider it an art form?

Dear Tim:

The way you pose the question implies that there can't be rules for art. Art equals anything goes; a free-for-all. I don't think that's the case. Perhaps it's the word "rules" that seems constraining. I certainly consider "Bridge on the River Kwai" to be art, yet it's the best example of screenwriting that I know of and follows all of the rules. Instead of rules, let's call them wise suggestions. The concept that is getting lost is that art is not about freedom; art is about restriction. If you can just do anything you want at any time, that's not art, that's bullshit. A good artist will find more and more restrictions that will hopefully lead them to art. A composer decides to write a piece of music. In the bogus, art-equals-freedom, definition, the composer could just close their eyes and write notes on a piece of paper and however they go together, that's art. Well, that nonsense. An experienced composer will immediately impose a restriction on themselves -- what sort of musical piece am I writing? A song? A concerto? A symphony? By choosing one you've eliminated all of the others and have restricted yourself. Now, what key is it in? Is it a vocal piece or instrumental? What's the tempo? Is it upbeat or downbeat? Etc. The greater the art the more restrictions have been imposed on it. Therefore, art and rule-following are not mutually exclusive.

Josh

Name:             Nikolay Yeriomin
E-mail:            nikolayyeriomin@gmail.com
Date:               05/11/17

Dear Josh :

Sorry for not answering sooner, it took some time to compile a list of your trademarks, but here we go. It is, of course, largely guesses and most of it could just be coincidences. And I also haven't seen all of your directorial works so far, so I might have missed a thing or two in examples. I would love to hear your version and opinion on this, of course. 1. Using background elements to establish the time period. Probably to avoid blatant chyrons. Examples: -Newscast in "Thou Shalt Not Kill Eexcept..." (1985) -TIME magazine cover in "Lunatics: A Love Story" (1991) -Drunk rich kids doing an imitation of Jim Backus from "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World" in "If I Had a Hammer" (1999) 2. Using or referencing real historical figures as characters. Perhaps has something to do with your general love to history. Examples: -Judy Garland, Robert Taylor and Boris Karloff mentiond in TSNKE (1985) -Edgar Allan Poe and Mikhail Gorbachev in "Lunatics: A Love Story" (1991) -Thomas Jefferson in "Return of the Dragoon" episode of "Jack of All Trades" (2000) -V.I. Lenin bust in "Estate Sale" episode of "Spine Chillers" (2014) 3. Actors protraying multiple roles in one production. Examples: -I might be wrong but I believe Ted Raimi had two roles in TSNKE (1985); your own two cameos partially count, but one is more of a doubling -Bruce Campbell as Ray, the Surgeon in hallucinations and Mikhail Gorbachev's voice in "Lunatics: A Love Story" (1991) -Lucy Lawless as Xena, Diana and Meg in "Warrior... Princess... Tramp" episode of "Xena: Warrior Princess" (1996) -Paul Harris in "Running Time" (1997) -Lucy Lawless, Renée O'Connor, Ted Raimi and Alezandra Tydings in a few roles in "If the Shoe Fits..." episode of "Xena" (1999) -Lucy Lawless, Renée O'Connor and Ted Raimi again in "Soul Posession" episode of "Xena" (2001) -Carol Ilku in "Sorry I Couldn't Make It" episode of "Spine Chillers" (2013); also a lot of actors between episodes. 4. Both protagonists and antagonists show reckless behavior towards guns. Examples: -Nazi in "Cleveland Smith: Bounty Hunter" (1982) -Protagonists shooting session and some of the trigger-happy cult members of TSNKE (1985) -Comet and Nancy in "Lunatics: A Love Story" (1991) 5. There are rarely main antagonists, protagonists are opposed to a group more often then not. Examples: -Bullies in "Super Student" (1972) -Cult in TSNKE (1985) -Gang in "Lunatics: A Love Story" (1991); plus surgeons in hallucinations. -Police in "Running Time" (1997) -Aliens in "Alien Apocalypse" (2005) -Harpies in "Harpies" (2007) 6. Using signs with symbolism to further illustrate he situation. This is a weird one, as I only remember two examples, but they are very similar. Examples: -"Men" in "Holding It" (1978) -Bar sign in TSNKE (1985) 7. The woods as locations of at least one scene. Examples: -A lot in TSNKE (1985) -Hallucination in "Lunatics: A Love Story" (1991) -"Alien Apocalypse" (2005) 8. A shot of something flying in the air. Examples: -A lot in "Torro. Torro. Torro!" (1981) -Cleveland Smith and his hat in "Cleveland Smith: Bounty Hunter" (1982) -Syringes knocked out of surgeons hands in "Lunatics: A Love Story" (1991) -Severed alien limbs in "Alien Apocalypse" (2005) -Balloon in "Are You On Your Way?" episode of "Spine Chillers" (2014) 9. Masked character(s). Examples: -Chain Man in TSNKE (1985) -Surgeon in "Lunatics: A Love Story" (1991) -Robbers in "Running Time" (1997) -Daring Dragoon in "Jack of All Trades" episodes (2000) 10. Phone conversations playing some part in the plot. Examples: - Setting up the dates in "Public Enemy Revisited" (1971) - Numerous phone conversations in "Lunatics: A Love Story" (1991) - Cellphone conversation in "Are You On Your Way?" episode of "Spine Chillers" (2014) Also, as regular collaborators is somewhat of a trademark as well it should be noted that Joseph LoDuca and Bruce Campbell are the most frequent ones, the latter popping up at some point in everything from early shorts to "Spine Chillers" episodes: although he only appeared far later in 2016's "The Wraith", appearance was announced in all three of your episodes in the end credits. Yours sincerely, Nikolay Yeriomin.

Dear Nikolay:

I do like working with the same people if I enjoyed working with them before. Lucy playing multiple parts in Xena had nothing to do with me. But I guess those are my trademarks, along with title sequences, and long scenes. I like long scenes, as "Lunatics" and "Running Time" point out.

Josh

Name:             Jerry
E-mail:           
Date:               05/10/17

Dear Josh :

Do you ever wonder if you're delusional about your own talent? I do. Have you ever looked at a finished piece of work that's one hundred percent yours and thought, "man, I might be bad at this"?

Dear Jerry:

All the time. I can, for the most part, live with my direction, but writing never seems to get any easier. And I've had so many things rejected over the years that I can't help but think, "Maybe I have no talent at all." After a point, if you keep at it, I don't know that it even matters. Does one create art for what others will think afterward, or does one create art simply for the sake of its creation? If I make this thing that nobody has ever made before, and I enjoy making it, that's the point. If people like it, fine, if they don't, fuck 'em.

Josh

Name:             Tom
E-mail:           
Date:               05/04/17

Dear Josh :

Are there any X-rated films you like that are pornographically oriented that you feel are well made? Do you look at X rated porn films to, you know, take care of business? Rom

Dear Tom:

Porn has its purposes, but not as any kind of cinema. And no, I don't think there are any porno films with any cinematic value.

Josh

Name:             Mike
E-mail:           
Date:               05/04/17

Dear Josh :

Were films easier to make before all the video assist stuff and video village peanut gallery. Seems it would be quicker. But I don't know nothing

Dear Mike:

Video assist didn't slow anything down, at least, not for me. One could easily sit there and keep reviewing the footage, but I never do. Video assist is wonderfully handy. Plus, it gives the director a place to be. Before video assist I was constantly moving my chair to get as close to the lens as possible, and there really isn't any room for the director right near or beneath the lens, so I was always in the way. And the last place I wanted to be was up on a crane, so now I can just see what the shot looks like from the comfort of the ground.

Josh

Name:             Len
E-mail:           
Date:               05/03/17

Dear Josh :

So since they sort of both won, who do you think deserved this year's best picture oscar less, "La La Land" or "Moonlight"?

Dear Len:

"Moonlight," no question. "La La Land" has some vision and Damien Chazelle is a good director who knows how to set up an interesting shot. His screenplay completely undermines his efforts, but he did give it the old college try. "Moonlight" is just plain old miserable. The only spark of life in that film was Mahershala Ali, and he's out of the film in 30 minutes. And I hate the direction -- all hand-held and completely thoughtless.

Josh

Name:             DS
E-mail:           
Date:               05/03/17

Dear Josh :

Any new essays/reviews/scripts we can look forward to reading soon? Have you seen (or bailed out of) any more 2016 movies? Any chance "If I Had a Hammer" will ever get an official release? Any interest from anybody at all in your lovely film? Thank you.

Dear DS:

Thank you. No, that movie is as dead as a dodo. I wrote a new, long essay, but it's not posted because I'm trying to get it published. It's presently out at two high-end literary magazines, and should they reject it, which is more than possible, I'll post it. I've also written a new script, "Morning, Noon & Night," that I'm planning on shooting in Oct. We'll see how it all shapes up.

Regarding the movies of 2016, I just wrote to my good Buddy Bruce yesterday saying that 2016 is the worst year for movies in my lifetime, and that's saying something. It's not that the Oscar-winners were not Oscar-worthy; they're downright shit. I did make it all the way through "La La Land" and "Moonlight," but that was out of sheer obstinacy. It took me three tries to get through "La La Land," which has as miserable of a screenplay as I've ever encountered. Mr. Chazelle (the youngest winner of the Best Director Oscar) could not find a cute meet for his boy and girl no matter how hard he tried, then for no good reason had four acts, the fourth existing entirely to give him twenty tries at an ending, none of which were any good because his half-assed excuse for a story wasn't leading anywhere. And man o man can Ryan Gosling not sing at all. Nobody in the history of musical film has ever needed to be dubbed more than him. "Moonlight" is just pure, unadulterated shit. The lead character is so painfully underwritten that's not humanly possible to care at all, but if you might have gotten to like the actor, they switch actors three times so you can't even like it on that level. And it's all hand-held photography so I hated the direction.

But wait, I have more bad things to say about "La La Land." Halfway into the film they end up taking a ten-minute tour of Griffith Park Observatory that seemed like it was sponsored by the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce -- when in L.A. don't forget to check out the Griffith Park Observatory, where a good movie was made, "Rebel Without a Cause." And after the seventh hour of the film it hit me that Emma Stone looks just like Rango the cowboy lizard.

Movies could not be in a worse state than they are.

Josh

Name:             Michael Magee
E-mail:            mwmagee9120@gmail.com
Date:               05/03/17

Dear Josh :

Virginia brannon is my great aunt and that story you told is not how I heard what happened her....Mike Magee 210 765 1510

Dear Michael:

Who is Virginia Brannon? I have no idea what you're talking about.

Josh

Name:             Len
E-mail:           
Date:               04/30/17

Dear Josh :

Would you call QT's compositions not to your taste? Or would you call them bad compositions? Thanks

Dear Len:

I don't think I'm making myself clear. Quentin Tarantino is a perfectly competent, professional director. There's nothing wrong with what he does as a director or his choice of shots or his blocking; but there's nothing special about it either. And since he regularly works with the great cinematographer, Robert Richardson, the lighting is generally beautiful. But if I had earplugs in and couldn't hear his ridiculous dialog, nothing in his directorial style is special enough or unique enough to let me know it's his movie.

Josh

Name:             Jake
E-mail:           
Date:               04/29/17

Dear Josh :

Jonathan Demme is dead.

Dear Jake:

Indeed he is, as is his brother, Ted. Both moderately talented directors. But at least Jonathan got the ultimate Hollywood send off, "Oscar-winner dies at 74."

Josh

Name:             Len
E-mail:           
Date:               04/28/17

Dear Josh :

So I watched that last "Spine Chillers" and I thought it was intentionally campy and silly. (Please correct me if I'm wrong) If that was the case, was that the intention of all the other episodes? Were they meant to be funny or were they meant to actually be "chilling"? Thanks

Dear Len:

Here's how it worked: I pitched Chris and Paul with, "Why don't we make a horror series. Each of us will write and direct," and they said yes. The first one was "Sorry I Couldn't Make It," and my intention was absolutely to be chilling. You decide whether or not I achieved it. Chris and Paul then did whatever the hell they wanted to do, and thus we ended up with nine episodes; three from each of us. That's what it is.

Josh

Name:             Nikolay Yeriomin
E-mail:            nikolayyeriomin@gmail.com
Date:               04/28/17

Dear Josh :

Have you ever tried to consciously comprehend the list of your own "trademarks", repeated themes, visuals, stylistic elements? I certainly see a few in most of your works I can safely anticipate when watching anything by you. Yours sincerely, Nikolay Yeriomin. P.S. Sorry for sending two questions in a row. I believe second one is more legit anyway.

Dear Nikolay:

No, I haven't. What do you think my "trademarks," repeated themes, visuals, stylistic elements are?

Josh

Name:             Len
E-mail:           
Date:               04/20/17

Dear Josh :

Can you describe why you don't like QT's use of widescreen? Thanks

Dear Len:

It's perfectly fine to shoot close-ups in widescreen and shove them all the way over to the left and right, which I like, but in the wide shot the 2.35 frame constantly challenges you to keep finding interesting compositions, which I don't think QT even looks for. He's an utterly standard shooter.

Josh

Name:             Carlos
E-mail:           
Date:               04/20/17

Dear Josh :

Reservoir Dogs is well fucking made! Jesus. Even if you don't like it you must be delusional (at worst) or have absolutely no sense of charity (at best). I defy you to tell me one example from Reservoir Dogs or Pulp Fiction of Tarantino being a poor director. I don't care if you think he's immature and his stories/dialogue is stupid, or whatever. The dude knows how to shoot a scene. Jesus. You're like Uncle Rico in Napoleon Dynamite sometimes.

Dear Carlos:

Do you watch movies? I do, all the time. You don't have to be a brain surgeon to set up a scene and shoot it, particularly if you're going to shoot it just like 90% of all directors working, which is how Quentin directs. There is absolutely nothing unique or special about what he does. If you removed his stupid, though admittedly unique, dialog, and you didn't know what the film was, you certainly wouldn't be able to figure out who the director was by just looking at it. I once turned on the TV, saw an extreme close-up of a lighter with fingers reaching for it, and within 3 seconds knew that it was a Hitchcock film. The best thing that's happened to Quentin as a director was discovering Robert Richardson (Oliver Stone's DP), and his movies became exponentially better-looking, from a lighting standpoint. Otherwise, Tarantino is nothing more than a run-of-the-mill director.

Josh

Name:             Carlos
E-mail:           
Date:               04/19/17

Dear Josh :

Would you ever consider going back and watching Reservoir Dogs? Having seen 1,000 terrible movies that have come out since, you actually find much to appreciate, including Quentin's use of widescreen, which seemed to perplex you back in '91 but which actually makes a lot of sense when you watch it.

Dear Carlos:

No, I wouldn't be willing to watch "Reservoir Dogs" again. I read the script and saw the film, and that was sufficient for me. I remember it very well. It's a stupid movie and QT is an unexceptional director. I do understand his use of widescreen, I just don't think he made good use of it. Whatever it is that Quentin thinks is good in movies, I don't.

Josh

Name:             Carlos
E-mail:           
Date:               04/19/17

Dear Josh :

The Wraith. Or The Ghost Puncher. Or some stupid shit like that. The only good thing about it was it was nice to finally see Bruce. Though it was a shame it was a throw-away and not in an episode of yours.

Dear Carlos:

"The Wraith" is part of the original nine episodes (it was #8), and that's all I signed up for. Each of the three of us made three episodes. Chris and Paul are working on another one, although I have no idea when it will be done. But I'm out of it.

Josh

Name:             Carlos
E-mail:           
Date:               04/18/17

Dear Josh :

Thoughts on latest Spine Chiller? Are you still involved with them?

Dear Carlos:

What latest Spine Chiller?

Josh

Name:             Paul
E-mail:           
Date:               04/17/17

Dear Josh :

I wonder if in your younger days ever had a crush or a thing for some film star ? Who you might have found attractive or found in one a prime example of manliness or femininity ?

Dear Paul:

I've always had a thing for pretty movie actresses from the time I was about nine or ten, starting with Maureen O'Sullivan as Jane, particularly in "Tarzan and His Mate," where her outfit is so skimpy and revealing that you can see clear glimpses of tush all throughout. Young Katherine Hepburn in "Alice Adams" and "Little Women," Ingrid Bergman in "Casablanca," Joan Leslie in "Sergeant York," Audrey Hepburn in "Roman Holiday," Tuesday Weld in "Lord Love a Duck," Luise Rainer in "The Great Ziegfeld," young Barbara Stanwyck in "Baby Face," Jeanne Crain in "An Apartment for Peggy." More contemporaneously, I think "Natalie Portman" is gorgeous (I haven't seen "Jackie" yet, but I like the comedy premise of: what if Jackie Kennedy was actually Jewish?). I like Alice Eve, Olivia Wilde, I thought Amy Adams was sexy in "The Fighter." I like Julianne Moore (I just "Vanya on 42nd St. again, and Julianne is just stunning). So, yes, I do have a thing for pretty movie actresses.

Josh

Name:             Nikolay Yeriomin
E-mail:            nikolayyeriomin@gmail.com
Date:               04/15/17

Dear Josh :

How much were you usually involved in union affairs, while making movies? I'm especially interested on how it works in low budget and features filmed in other countries, like Bulgaria and New Zealand. For example were there any problems with casting non-SAG actors? Yours sincerely, Nikolay Yeriomin.

Dear Nikolay:

I have nothing to do with the unions; I'm a director-for-hire on most of those films and shows. I don't hire anybody. On my indie films I do, but since RT I've avoided SAG, as I will do on the next one. If I cast a SAG actor and they want to work on my non-union film, that's their problem.

Josh

Name:             Roger S
E-mail:           
Date:               04/15/17

Dear Josh :

Thanks for answering my last question. I was thinking today about "copy-cat" movies. Let's say for example a movie about dancing becomes popular, how long does it take other studios to get their dancing movies in front of the cameras? Do they have all genres of scripts around just waiting to see what someone else has invested in and works/doesn't work before they spend $ on their dancing movie or do they hire writers and say, "Make me a dancing picture like so and so." Again, thank you for your time.

Dear Roger:

For the most part studios don't have piles of scripts sitting around anymore since they no longer buy spec scripts. But if they suddenly need anything they just hire people to write it. And if they're jumping on a bandwagon, they're probably too late. What Hollywood will never understand is that just because a western does well doesn't mean that westerns are suddenly in, it just means that somebody made a good one.

Josh

Name:             Roger S
E-mail:           
Date:               04/14/17

Dear Josh :

What was your reaction, at the time, to the deaths on the set of the Twilight Zone Movie in 1983? If you are knowledgable about the incident (if you happen to have read"Outrageous Conduct"), who do you feel is to blame? Thank you.

Dear Roger:

In my opinion it is entirely John Landis' fault. He's the only one who demanded to see all of this dangerous shit occur at the same time with Vic Morrow holding two kids, helicopters and explosives. All he had to say was the magic word, "Montage," and they could have broken up into safe pieces.

Josh

Name:             Nikolay Yeriomin
E-mail:            nikolayyeriomin@gmail.com
Date:               04/12/17

Dear Josh :

By Houston International Film Festival you mean the one which is also known as WorldFest Houston? As far as I know his festival seems both prestigious (as it is quite old and had a lot of big names like David Lynch and Steven Spielberg having some of their earliest awards there) and not as formal as some of them are, encouraging the filmmakers... Yours sincerely, Nikolay Yeriomin.

Dear Nikolay:

Yes, that's the one.

Josh

Name:             Nikolay Yeriomin
E-mail:            nikolayyeriomin@gmail.com
Date:               04/07/17

Dear Josh :

I've become somewhat interested in film awards recently (mainly because I've started to add such on IMDb in 2016) so I've paid a bit closer attention to how much awards and nomination my favorite 25 movies, including "Lunatics: A Love Story", got over the years. The result is rather sad because a few classics doesn't even have one award or nomination listed on IMDb (a times it doesn't mean they don't have one, just that it's not listed). "Lunatics" were lucky enough to have at least a really nice nomination for International Fantasy Film Award at Fantasporto. Overall, you have one nomination and one win on IMDb, with win being Gérardmer Film Festival prize for "Alien Apocalypse". So he questions are: do you have any other awards IMDb's not aware of so far and can you recall any details regarding "Alien Apocalypse" receiving the award for Best Direct-to-Video Film? Yours sincerely, Nikolay Yeriomin.

Dear Nikolay:

Whatever the hell the Gérardmer Film Festival is, they did inform of that award. But it's not like I got a trophy or anything. I did win first place at the Phoenix Saguaro Film Festival for "Running Time," and I was even there, but they didn't even give me a piece of paper (not even handwritten) saying that I won. In all fairness, they did send me a piece of paper later saying that I won. "Lunatics" won 4th place at the Houston International Film Festival in 1993, I think it was. But those folks seemed to give every film that screened there some sort of award. At least I got a plaque, which I then got signed by the festival's guests, Rod Steiger and Ginger Rogers, so at least it has some meaning to me.

Josh

Name:             Nick La Salla
E-mail:            nicholaslasalla@yahoo.com
Date:               04/07/17

Dear Josh :

If you could please clarify, I'd appreciate it: Are you, as is implied by your very negative latest essay, embracing alcoholism and depression as your death sentence? I'm confused because a previous response here on this page said that you became sober two years ago, and you are much healthier -- so these are two very conflicting messages. How are you doing, man? Fuck movies -- I hope you as a person are doing well. Take care and I hope your weekend is a good one. Best, Nick

Dear Nick:

First of all, I didn't mean for that essay to be posted. I just sent it to Kevin the webmaster for him to read. He's going to take it down because I'd like to get it published -- it's out to a literary magazine right now. Secondly, that was six years ago. I wrote it in the present tense to make it feel immediate. I've been sober for two years. Thanks for your concern.

Josh

[Webmaster's Note: Yeeeeeah. My bad. Oh, but hey, there's a silver lining to this. At least I posted it in a timely manner and retained all of Josh's hard earned italics. Huzzah! Huzzah! Huzz-okay I'll shut up now]

Name:             Stan Wrightson
E-mail:           
Date:               04/07/17

Dear Josh :

What do you think of the director Ted Kotcheff? He has just released a memoir called "Director's Cut" and I was wondering if you would be reading this one. I find his output variable but I do love "The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz", which was an adaptation of the novel by Mordecai Richler, who was Kotcheff's best friend and a very fine writer in my opinion.

Dear Stan:

Ted Kotcheff is a good director and a real journeyman. If he gets a good script he'll make a good movie. I worked as a ticket taker at the movie theater here outside Detroit that showed "Duddy Kravitz," way back when, so I ended up seeing it many, many times -- it played for months -- and I enjoyed it a lot. The Bar Mitzvah movie he makes was ridiculous, but amusing. It's the film that launched Richard Dreyfuss' career, and his next film was "Jaws." His best films, which all came in a row, were: "North Dallas Forty," "First Blood" and "Uncommon Valor." I'll certainly read his book, and thanks for telling me about it.

Josh

Name:             Russ
E-mail:           
Date:               04/05/17

Hello Josh :

Bruce posted on his twitter page to check out Running Time. Some nice comments posted too. @groovybruce

Dear Russ:

That's very nice of Bruce, but sadly you can't even get the goddamn movie.

Josh

[Webmaster's Note: I still have my copy of the Original Anchor Bay dvd]

Name:             Brian Mack
E-mail:            mackbrockton@aol.com
Date:               03/24/17

Dear Josh :

What do you think of Werner Herzog?

Dear Brian:

I think Werner Herzog's terrific. He's had an exemplary career, and is certainly one of greatest living filmmakers. And for all of this he had to pay the high, high price of having to direct Klaus Kinski seven times. I love his film, "My Best Fiend." He was even smart enough to keep the camera rolling on all those films while Klaus went insane and raged. "Grizzly Man" is pretty amazing. There's an Inuit guy who's interviewed in the film who says a couple of times, "You can't be friends with a Grizzly bear," and he is, of course, proven right. Anyway, Bruce and I hung around with Werner and his brother a couple of times in Las Vegas at Anchor Bay parties. He's an extremely nice guy, too.

Josh

Name:             David R.
E-mail:           
Date:               03/21/17

Dear Josh :

Dick Cavett Show, did you watch it?

Dear David:

Yes. I've watched several episodes recently and come to understand that he simply wasn't a good interviewer. He's amiable enough, he just doesn't ask good questions.

Josh

Name:             Bob
E-mail:           
Date:               03/18/17

Dear Josh :

I saw Manchester by the Sea on DVD and I thought it had a lot of flaws. I did sit through the whole thing though. I found a lot of the characters and their behavior to be somewhat unbelievable. I know it was trying to portray rough and scrabble fishing families, but do people really swear and yell and insult a doctor when a doctor delivers some bad news? Similarly, do apartment tenants react the same way when the building custodian tells a tenant that a toilet needs to be replaced or become a psycho when told there is a leak coming from their unit. I thought the people generally wanted the custodian to be on their good side. A recurring theme seemed to be Kenneth Lonergan’s portrayal of the women in the movie as being nasty or stupid. The men not so much. I listened to the director’s commentary on the DVD and after that I was not sure that Lonergan effectively communicated all that he intended to. One important part of the film was Casey Affleck’s character trying to get a job but virtually having doors slammed in his face, in one case by another nasty woman behind the scenes. Later we see Affleck working on a furnace for a townsperson. In the commentary Lonergan says we see that he now has a job and his life is improving. I didn’t get that at all, I didn’t think much of it but if I did I assumed that maybe he was doing odd jobs on his own or doing it as a favor. Another miscommunication was in the commentary at the end where Lonnergan says the movie ends on an optimistic note, in that Affleck has reestablished a relationship with his nephew which was bound to continue. I did not take that nor did most reviews that I read. All I took that he was getting the hell out of Dodge presumably to continue with his solitary and hard drinking w ays. Maybe Lonnergan though he had to say something like that. Some reviews default to the beautiful scenery that was shot as giving the movie a redeeming quality. What? Shots of the ocean and some boats in the harbor? I could watch Wicked Tuna for that. But the scenery was nice enough. Also I thought the movie was flawed in that it was too long and could have easily been edited in some of the home scenes and flashbacks. At least to 2 hours anyway. Having said all this, I still think the movie was okay. Fair to middling. Suprisingly for me the character I liked the least, Affleck’s nephew, was the one I enjoyed the most. He also added some much needed humor to the film. A brief scene with Matthew Broderick, the nephew and the nephew’s mom – another deeply flawed woman, was good. Do you like Kenneth Lonergan's work in general or do plan to give MBTS another chance someday? Sorry for the long review.

Dear Bob:

A very thoughtful review for a film that was unworthy of thoughtfulness. I think Mr. Lonergan is an absolutely talentless nobody without a decent credit, who now has an Oscar. No, I will never waste one more second on that film. I bailed out on his previous film, "You Can Count on Me," and I think his script for "The Gangs of New York" is complete shit.

Josh

Name:             DS
E-mail:           
Date:               03/17/17

Dear Josh :

I like all of the actors you've listed. I would add to that Cate Blanchett, Julianne Moore, Sally Hawkins, Mads Mikkelsen, Bradley Cooper, Olivia Wilde, Ryan Gosling, Keira Knightley, Saoirse Ronan, J.K. Simmons. Any 2016 movies that you liked at all so far?

Dear DS:

I agree, and I wish they could all get better parts. So far the movies I've seen of 2016 have mostly been miserable. I did like "Captain Fantastic" and have seen it twice. I hate the camerawork -- entirely handheld -- but I like most everything else.

Josh

Name:             DS
E-mail:           
Date:               03/14/17

Dear Josh :

Even if they haven't acted in a film you really like (yet), who are some of the actors in films today that you particularly admire? I know you have mentioned Michael Shannon on a number of occasions, and I know Phillip Seymour Hoffman was your favorite until he passed. Curious who else has caught your fancy in the last several years? Thank you.

Dear DS:

I like Eddie Redmayne, Alicia Vikander, Bryan Cranston, Colin Firth, Amy Adams. Who do you like?

Josh

Name:             Scott
E-mail:           
Date:               03/13/17

Dear Josh :

Regarding Manchester By The Sea, I was curious as to what your thoughts would be on that film. I'm not surprised you bailed either. It's particularly bad writing as the lead character remains the same from beginning to end. He doesn't change at all which I believe was the point, and that's extremely bad writing. Casey Affleck is terrible. My friend suggested that the film be called "Obtuse Dick By the Sea." As we're forced to watch an obtuse asshole for over 2 hours remain an obtuse asshole until the bitter end. You're lucky you bailed but the sad part is that Manchester being what it is and winning an Oscar proves your theory that Hollywood no longer knows how to tell stories.

Dear Scott:

Indeed. I just bailed out on another "critically acclaimed" film of 2016, "Loving." An utterly miserable white guy and an utterly miserable black woman in the south in the 1950s fall in love, for no apparent reason, then suffer the utterly miserable consequences. After an hour of that I was ready to find the nearest tree and lynch myself. But at least the Oscars weren't too white this year -- they finally decided to share their undeserved Oscars with undeserving black folks.

Josh

Name:             Paul
E-mail:           
Date:               03/12/17

Dear Josh :

Since you brought up the Frank Capra story, I bet you have seen the 1966 "The Oscar", which as well as having a great parade of guest stars has a very similar scene to Capra's story, which I assume was the screenwriter Harlan Ellison idea. The main character Frank Fane rises when hearing his first name then finds out it goes to Frank Sinatra. I also remember an Oscar moment from the 80s where someone who won an award for a short film had some kind of novelty bow tie that spun around. I haven't found a clip of it so maybe it didn't happen but I am sure I saw it.

Dear Paul:

Yes, I saw "The Oscar." Harlan Ellison's one big Hollywood feature credit. I remember watching it on the 9:00 Movie when I was about twelve and thinking, "Good God, what a piece of shit." I tried watching it years later and it was unwatchable, even with all of the stars parading through. Another great Oscar moment was Helen Hayes winning Best Supporting Actress for "Airport" and on her way up to get the award falling on her face. Ah, those were the days. I tried watching "Manchester By the Sea" and could only make it 45 minutes. What an awful piece of crap. The Oscar-winning screenplay is junk, and Casey Affleck mumbles his whole part.

Josh

Name:             Paul
E-mail:           
Date:               03/10/17

Dear Josh :

First I have meant to get back to you regarding a rather mixed up question I sent you earlier. Until I do here is something that caught my interest. The moment in the Oscars that I found most interesting was not the end mix-up.(Actually that was one of the only parts I caught). It was when Warren Beaty and Faye Dunaway were announced as presenters. The announcer mentioned that this year 2017 was the 50th anniversary of "Bonnie and Clyde" which came out in 1967. Well 50 before that in 1917 films were in the middle of the silent era. I would say that between 1917 and 1967 each year had some pretty swell picture that came out, well given the survival rate of the silent era films. That and having two of the biggest stars of their day brought out by an industry that had no use for either in years, even Warren new film "Rules Don't Apply" took decades for him to work on and about Howard Hughes and the old studio era that few people even know today. So from the middle of the silents in 1917 to the beginning of what you would call the last golden age of film in 1967 to now in 2017 seems quite a rise and fall or coasting or settling down if you will. I just found a bit of historical poignancy in it all.

Dear Paul:

I do find your observation interesting, and if not exactly historically poignant to me, then at least it's a good sense of historical perspective. Movies were on a constant state of intellectual ascension from their invention in the 1880s until I'd say 1976, the last year of that golden age that began in 1967. Since then movies have gotten no better, mostly worse, and haven't come close to touching what I offer as the peak of their 125-year history, "The Godfather Part II" in 1974. Regarding Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway, their both over 80, of course there's no use for them. Their only value now is to give awards. And I really thought the finale of this year's Oscars was spectacular

-- the best Oscar moment I've ever seen. Fucking up Best Picture? That's great. The biggest fuck up before this was in 1933 when the host, Will Rogers, announced Best Director by saying, "Come on up and get it, Frank," when there were in fact two men named Frank nominated -- Frank Capra and Frank Lloyd -- and both of them came up to get it. It was then established that the winner was Frank Lloyd, and Frank Capra returned to seat empty-handed. His revenge was winning the Best Director Oscar the very next year.

Josh

Name:             Ryan
E-mail:            ryanphillipshovel@yahoo.com
Date:               02/27/17

Hey Josh :

Are you still writing screenplays? Have you ever thought about doing a comedy with African-American people as the main characters?

Dear Ryan:

I just completed the first draft of a new screenplay, entitled, "Morning, Noon & Night," which, if all the stars in heaven align, I'll shoot this year. Since I am not African-American, the idea of writing for African-Americans doesn't rank high on my list of priorities. As has been said, "Write what you know." I often have black characters in my stories, however. I did write one script many years ago called "Hoops" with a black shop teacher in the lead. Sadly, nobody gave a shit about that script.

Josh

Name:             Y.M.
E-mail:           
Date:               02/22/17

Dear Josh :

I believe you have mentioned that you have struggled with depression and even attempted suicide. You seem better now and I'm glad of that. But how did you do it? How did you recover? (your answer could help)

Dear Y.M:

I'm a drunk, so I can't drink. About two years ago I stopped drinking. Since that time my life has, bit by bit, improved greatly. Booze was my downfall. But now I arise, like the mighty Phoenix. And just remember what Apollo Creed said, "Don't be a fool, stay in school."

Josh

Name:             Scott
E-mail:           
Date:               02/22/17

Dear Josh :

Thanks so much for your response. My point was not who is worse. Clearly Trump and the Republicans are the most malignant and must be stopped, but my point was that this regression that has plagued the left has played a huge part in getting Trump elected. Each side feeds off each other now, which is the scariest part. Whether you think Trump won fairly or not, a lot of Americans were fed up with Democrats for pandering to their donors instead of acknowledging very real problems that are hurting middle and working class Americans. Furthermore, the left's rejection of free speech has played directly into Trump's hands. He would clearly attempt to gut the first Amendment if he had a chance and the left is paving the way. A recent poll stated that 40 percent of college aged milennials believe that hate speech should be illegal. That should scare everyone. When a certain faction of average Americans see Dems and liberal activists apologize for radical Islam and argue incessantly over transgender bathroom rights, people will reject the left in droves, which has already happened. With that said, I believe you're right, the left will never clean house and our focus must be doing whatever it takes to get Trump out of office. Although both sides don't behave equally or are equally immoral both sides have put our country in a precarious position. In the case of the left, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

Dear Scott:

Yes, I believe all of that is true. But as has been said, "Just because you're against the time you're living in; you're still living in it." Here we are, whether we like it or not. The Democrats shot themselves in the foot when the ignored the legitimate groundswell that was occurring for Bernie Sanders among young people; the exact same part of the electorate who had put Obama in office. The second the Dems said, "We don't care what the young people want; it's Hillary's turn," the election was over. I was actually prescient enough to note this in my journal on May 30, 2015, when I wrote, "Hillary can't win." Bernie offered extreme change (like Trump), but in Bernie's case it was all for the good, and exactly what I want. Well, I had my Bernie signs up for exactly two weeks until Hillary became the presumptive candidate, then I threw them out and bought Hillary signs. Then we found through Wikileaks (by way of the Russians) that the DNC had conspired against Bernie (which he took awfully well, like a real trooper), and Debbie Wasserman Schultz got shit-canned, and that was the end. So, here we are, in the toilet. You can bitch and bitch about the faults of the left, which are many, but they're still the good guys. The job of the moment is to get rid of Trump before he fucks everything up, which he will. This won't work itself out. Meanwhile, I watched an interview with that fucking weasel, Reince Priebus, and Chris Wallace (who is the best newsman on Fox), and Priebus wouldn't shut the fuck up defending Trump against the NY Times article about collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian intelligence, which makes me feel certain that it's true. That's the key in my opinion. Since no federal agency will do it, the free press needs to prove collusion, which might well lead to a charge of treason, then force the hand of federal agencies to prosecute. People can immediately shout, "Oh, that will never happen." Well, nobody even suspected in 1972 when Nixon got reelected that he would have to resign a year and a half later just moments before he was impeached, but it actually did happen, and I remember it.

Josh

Name:             Scott
E-mail:           
Date:               02/21/17

Dear Josh :

I always enjoy reading your essays and I found your latest to be on point but I'd like to take it further and ask, don't you think the left has gone batshit crazy too, and their batshit craziness paved the way for an autocratic numbskull like Trump? I am a life long liberal, but I find that the left has gone off the rails, especially with issues such as freedom of speech and it goes way beyond unbridled optimism. Its gotten to the point where If you don't agree with progressives on 100 percent of the issues you get called a racist, bigot, homophobe, Islamophobe, sexist, or otherwise. This tactic has been used on the left to shut down debate with people they disagree with and its getting old. Look at what's happening on college campuses across the country, you have language policing, safe spaces, and trigger warnings for ideas that progressive don't agree with. They ban relatively intelligent conservatives like Ben Shapiro from speaking at campuses for espousing a different point of view. I disagree with Ben on many things but a bigot he is not. As a Jew I hate neo nazis, but I respect the right of Richard Spencer to say what he wants publicly without getting punched in the face. So many of my liberal friends keep telling me its okay to punch nazis based on their beliefs. Ok, but where do you draw the line? Punching Spencer's wife? Burning his house down? The goal post of acceptability keeps getting moved into dangerous territory. I think Milo Yiannopoulus is a walking pile of human garbage, but I respect his right to speak at Berkley without violent riots breaking out. What were the riots about anyway, language and ideas that liberals don't agree with? This is madness. At Berkeley Milo tested the left and the left failed, plain and simple. Another reason why Trump is our leader is that the left ignored and demonized working class whites. I've seen too many people being called racist or bigoted simply because of their class and skin color, and when you tell a person who isn't bigoted who has to work three minimum wage jobs to feed his family of 5, that he and his family are privileged because of their skin color, guess who they're going to vote for? Hilary failed to connect to those voters because she implied things would basically remain the same for those struggling to make ends meet. Trump spoke directly to their struggles with empty promises, but it doesn't matter, desperate people make hasty decisions. Lastly you have too many people on the left siding with Islamists who hold extremely pernicious beliefs. Case in point, Linda Sarsour, one of the women who organized the Women's March in Washington. She speaks passionately on women's rights yet she is a pro-sharia, hijab wearing, Islamist with ties to Hamas. She has on record praised Saudi Arabia for their treatment of women and wants Sharia in the US. Her tweets from a few years ago about this came back to haunt her, yet useful idiots like Susan Sarandon, Mark Ruffalo, Van Jones, and even Bernie Sanders praised her and circulated the hashtag #istandwithlinda. Yes the left has an unbridled optimism problem, but they also have a problem with authoritarianism when it comes to free speech and ideas. The modern left loves diversity in skin color but not diversity in thought. Sadly defending free speech, a classically liberal position, is now becoming a conservative one.If we want to see the authoritarian and chief ousted in 4 years, The left better wake up and clean up their own house before its too late.

Dear Scott:

I feel your pain, but if you think the left is going to clean their house now or in four years you're dreaming. All that "safe place," "micro-aggression," touchy bullshit is here to stay, and will just get worse. But it's nowhere near as bad as what the right is doing and wants to get done. They are not equal; not even close. Just as I put forth in the essay, and I certainly don't condemn you for it, you think everything is going to get better if just . . . There's only one job at this point and that's getting rid of Trump. Everything else, particularly the idiocy of extreme political correctness, pales to insignificance compared to what is probably lurking in the none too distant future. I believe that job number one is proving collusion between Trump's campaign workers and Russian intelligence, two, proving that the collusion goes all the way to Trump himself, taking the whole mess to federal court (where Trump hasn't fared very well so far) and prove that the election was clearly and obviously tampered with, then have it annulled. I think the NY Times is on this, but who knows?

Josh

Name:             Joe
E-mail:           
Date:               02/14/17

Dear Josh :

Perhaps I'm wrong, but didn't you write in your book "Rushes" that you saw Star Wars at Mann's Chinese Theater and you liked it saying, "It was a thrilling new kind of film?"

Dear Joe:

And my friend Rick and I sat through it twice. We just remained in our seats there in the Chinese Theater and said, "Run it again." And when we came out we were both completely and utterly fulfilled and both felt that we never needed to see "Star Wars" again. After I saw "You Only Live Twice" when I was nine years old, and loved it, loved it, loved it (and went back and saw it three or four more times, I never needed to see another James Bond movie.

Josh

Name:             Joe
E-mail:           
Date:               02/12/17

Dear Josh :

You've mentioned your love of film bios here on several occasions. DO you have the new bio on George Lucas? I was thinking about buying it but it's 35$ and I'm probably not going to read it. I have too much good stuff I haven't read.

Dear Joe:

George Lucas doesn't interest me since he's never made a movie I really like. What I enjoy are film director's autobiographies so I can get a sense of their voice, and hopefully learn something. Biographies about directors are usually fawning bullshit.

Josh

Name:             Jim
E-mail:           
Date:               02/11/17

Dear Josh :

Do you own any movie memorabilia? Original movie posters, lobby cards, props? If so, do you display them in your home? What are your thoughts about collecting movie memorabilia from films one enjoys? Thanks

Dear Jim:

If it makes you happy, why not? I'm not a collector of memorabilia, although I do have about 3,000 books. I have a few movie posters here in my bedroom: the 1961 version of "The Killers," Visconti's "Ossessione," and three Saul Bass posters of "Anatomy of a Murder," "The Man With the Golden Arm" and "Vertigo." I do have about fifty more movie posters that I got while I was working in New Zealand because this old movie theater had a monthly sale of wonderful old posters for very cheap that I bought just because I couldn't help myself, and it was something to do. I had a few wonderful old movie posters up in my bedroom when I was a kid, "Lolita" and "The Harder They Fall," and some others I can't remember. When I moved out of the house my parents promptly had my room painted and the posters were torn down and thrown out.

Josh

Name:             Nikolay Yeriomin
E-mail:            nikolayyeriomin@gmail.com
Date:               02/06/17

Dear Josh :

Regarding the movie references - I believe that the problem you're addressing is the fact that references could be divided into in-context and out-of-context. The problem with in-context references is that it's hard to tell, whether they were planned or not (posters on the cinema marquee might be placed intentionally or might just be there). The problem with out-of-context reference is, of course, that it might be tad too random for the film's style, but it may also add additional context, which is something that might be useful. Example of the first one is how you used Mikhail Gorbachev in "Lunatics: A Love Story" - it works even more due to film's postponed release - if the movie takes place in 1990, then it makes Hank having old magazines in his apartment - which is surely something that puts us in the context of how long he was not leaving the apartment. Example of the latter are things like one random thing I really like in great Soviet Sherlock Holmes adaptation - in one scene they're showing the photographs of criminals, which, for the Soviet audience were just photographs of some scary and quite ugly men. For a modern viewer with an access to all the movies which were not shown in the USSR these men are Lionel Atwill from "Captain America" (1944), Senior and Junior Lon Chaney's as The Phantom and The Wolf Man respectively, Frederic March as Mr. Hyde and so on. I love this scene, because it is not only beautifully out-of-context, but also makes and additional context, as it tells the viewer immediately which layers of Hollywood movies exactly Soviet film industry was oblivious to which makes all the more impressive horror scenes in the mini-series, which are very well-directed. As I need to ask something I actually really have a question - what do you think about the in-joke reference "feud" between Sam Raimi and Wes Craven, which started with torn poster of "The Hills Have Eyes" in "The Evil Dead" and continued with the latter shown on television in "A Nightmare on Elm Street"? I'm especially interested because, well, you were there when it all started. Yours sincerely, Nikolay Yeriomin.

Dear Nikolay:

When "Lunatics" was completed and first shown Gorbachev was still president of Russia, so that doesn't make it an old magazine or an old reference, at least at that time. Nor is showing Gorbachev on a magazine cover any sort of movie reference. Sam putting the torn poster of "The Hills Have Eyes" in the basement of the cabin in Evil Dead" seemed silly to me at the time because it really wouldn't have been there. Everything down there was supposed to be old, and "The Hills Have Eyes" had only come out two years earlier. The reason Sam put it there, I believe, is that he liked the movie and it influenced him. As for some kind of "feud," I know nothing about that.

Josh

[Webmaster's Note: The Sam Raimi Wes Craven injoke feud is pretty well known amongst Evil Dead fans. Sam put The Hills Have Eyes poster in the basement as a way of saying, "That movie was scary, but it was just a movie, THIS is real". So Wes Craven got him back by showing Evil Dead on tv in A Nightmare on Elm Street, "No, your movie is just a movie, but Nightmare on Elm Street IS REAL", so Sam put Freddy Kreuger's knife glove in the basement of Evil Dead 2 "No, Nightmare on Elm Street was just a movie, but Evil Dead 2 IS REAL". I don't know how much further in injoking continued, but Sam talked about it in a magazine interview. - Kevin Neece]

Name:             Paul
E-mail:           
Date:               02/02/17

Dear Josh :

What do you think of referencing other movies or scenes form other movies in a film. I find it takes me out of the movie I am watching and I think fondly or not, of the film being referenced. Or that it is just the director showing off his likes. Done sparely it is okay. I am saying this because I just watched "La La Land" and much of its point is to recreate moments from 50s and 60s films. By the way, I though it was mostly awful, a supposed musical with a few dance numbers and three unmemorable songs, patched together with a so so romance drama. And it just slightly address its title as a name for LA and its eccentric movie people. I was with it until a cocktail bar scene with JK Simmons and found Ryan Goslings jazz snob character puzzling. Like "Birdman" and "The Artist" before it a story built on showbiz cliches and stock characters that were dated when Busby Berkely was around, that could be bad or good depending on what is done with them. I also saw "Jackie" which was terrific, and would love to hear your take on when you get to watch it. Thanks for this great site.

Dear Paul:

All artists are influenced by the art that they've previously encountered, that's inevitable. However, to what extent you care to reference it in your work of art is a matter of taste, which is the ultimate arbiter of everything. I never make any outright references to previous movies in my movies because I don't like it. I find it pretentious. In TSNKE you do hear on the radio in the background that Judy Garland, Robert Taylor and Boris Karloff just died, but that's to set the time period, and I thought it was interesting reference since they all died right in a row there in 1969 when the story takes place. I also have the drunk rich kids doing an imitation of Jim Backus from "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World" in "If I Had a Hammer," but, once again, it's to set the time period, and they never mention the name of the movie, so you either get it or you don't. But if you have to talk about other movies in your movie, or, God forbid, tell a story about making a movie, you're not trying very hard.

Josh

Name:             Paul
E-mail:           
Date:               01/30/17

Dear Josh :

Since "Running Time" was brought up a while ago one other thing that goes along with the "single take" technique is that you had a single dramatic action, the heist, that takes the same time as the running time of the film. This has been done before where the story is the length of the film, such as in one of your favorites, "The Set Up". What other films do you like done in this manner but done with conventional editing ?

Dear Paul:

The heist is only act II, but the story is, as you've pointed out, in real time, as is "The Set Up." But I don't think this is genre. I never saw "Run, Lola, Run," but that might be. I can't think of any others, off hand. Can you?

Josh

Name:             Keith
E-mail:            keithhward@gmail.com
Date:               01/28/17

Dear Josh :

I also enjoyed your new essay and am looking forward to reading your new books when you post them. I hadn't realized that you have an interest in still photography. Have you ever seen the work of Vivian Maier? Some of her stuff can be found here: http://www.vivianmaier.com/. She was a truly strange person who secretly created a massive portfolio of beautiful street photography, unknown and unpublished until after her death. I first found about her from the popular documentary "Finding Vivian Maier" that came out a few years ago.

Dear Keith:

I just brought "Finding Vivian Maier up in the previous Q&A which probably isn't posted yet. How wonderfully odd and coincidental.

Josh

Name:             
E-mail:           
Date:               01/28/17

Dear Josh :

Donald Westlake discussed and you don't mention Point Blank? Which is listed as one of the films you like! Here's a question. Film scripts are supposed to be sparse: Pretty much just location, character speaking and dialogue. How are the scripts to "dense" comedies (for example Airplane) written. I am asking about the plethora of sight gags, musical cues, characters in the background doing pratfalls, camera angles, lighting stuff, costume changes and so on.

Dear :

I didn't remember "Point Blank," OK? That's a good one, although the best thing about that movie isn't the script, it's John Boorman's direction. And, BTW, the book isn't really by Donald Westlake, it was by Richard Stark, which was one of Westlake's pseudonyms.

Regarding script writing, if it's important to the movie you just write it in. If Leslie Nielsen is lying and his nose is growing, you just say so. If they pull the unconscious Kareem Abdul Jabar out of his seat and he's in basketball shorts and knee pads, you just write it in.

Josh

Name:             Paul
E-mail:           
Date:               01/28/17

Dear Josh :

What do you think of referencing other movies or scenes form other movies in a film. I find it takes me out of the movie I am watching and I think fondly or not, of the film being referenced. Or that it is just the director showing off his likes. Done sparely it is okay. I am saying this because I just watched "La La Land" and much of its point is to recreate moments from 50s and 60s films. By the way, I though it was mostly awful, a supposed musical with a few dance numbers and three unmemorable songs, patched together with a so so romance drama. And it just slightly address its title as a name for LA and its eccentric movie people. I was with it until a cocktail bar scene with JK Simmons and found Ryan Goslings jazz snob character puzzling. Like "Birdman" and "The Artist" before it a story built on showbiz cliches and stock characters that were dated when Busby Berkely was around, that could be bad or good depending on what is done with them. I also saw "Jackie" which was terrific, and would love to hear your take on when you get to watch it. Thanks for this great site.

Dear Paul:

"La La Land" just looks like shit to me, and I'm a big fan of Damian Chazelle's film, "Whiplash," which I've seen four times. My sister played me the main song, sung by Ryan Gosling and perhaps Emma Stone, too, and it's terrible. Ryan Gosling cannot sing at all. And I've seen the dance number on the bench and it's a complete nothing. I am put in mind of certain types of ancient Greek pottery that have some sort of glaze that even under microscopes and spectographs can't be understood or recreated. Nobody expects Ryan Gosling, who's a fine actor, or Emma Stone, who does nothing for me, to be Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly, Ginger Rogers or Cyd Charisse, and of course they're not. They're not even close. And should I bring that up to anyone I get a wave of the hand, and an, "Aw, come on," like it's entirely unreasonable of me to even bring that up. Why on earth would anyone now be as talented as anyone then? As though 1950 was 2,000 years ago.

Josh

Name:             Bobby
E-mail:           
Date:               01/28/17

Dear Josh :

Thank you for your latest essay. I enjoyed it. In your discussion about HCB's photography you say, "You either have it (an "eye" for photography) or you don't." After years and years of working on my street photography, I've come to the hard reality that I don't have "it" and it's a drag. It's depressing. I enjoy taking pictures with my Leica M3 rangefinder but I know they'll never be any good. And you know what, It's a bitter pill to swallow. Sometimes I'll be out shooting on the streets and I'll see people snapping away photos on their smart phones and posting them on whatever social media and I know more folks will see their photos then will ever see mine. This after having spent years on the street trying to learn to see. Trying to understand what is a photograph. What is there for me?

Dear Bobby:

I understand entirely because I don't have an "eye" either. I have a Yashica 2 1/4 and an old Agfa rangefinder and I've shot hundreds of photos and never taken a great one. A few pretty good ones, maybe. I just watched a very interesting documentary called "Finding Vivian Maier," about this weird old nanny, with a fake foreign accent, who was once a nanny for Phil Donahue, who literally shot thousands and thousands of photos with a Hasselblad 2 1/4, most of which were either never processed or never printed, that the documentarian picked up at an auction. Every single one of her photos is great. Ms. Maier had an incredible eye, and she was never published and never had a showing in her lifetime. She also seemed to really like photos where she appears in a reflection or a shadow, and they're all very cool. But you watch someone like that, or Cartier-Bresson, and those people couldn't take a bad photo. Either you've got it or you don't.

Josh

Name:             Nikolay Yeriomin
E-mail:            nikolayyeriomin@gmail.com
Date:               01/27/17

Dear Josh :

What is your opinion on Roald Dahl and Donald Westlake? Do you have any favorite/recommended novels or short stories by them? Yours sincerely, Nikolay Yeriomin.

Dear Nikolay:

I've liked all of Roald Dahl's stories that I've read over the years. I have his collection, "Kiss Kiss," and I enjoyed that. He wrote my favorite James Bond movie when I was a kid, "You Only Live Twice." As for Donald Westlake, the only thing that jumps to mind is "Castle Keep," which was a horrible movie, but he just wrote the book that I didn't read.

Josh

Name:             Gregor
E-mail:            robocop3001@gmail.com
Date:               01/27/17

Dear Josh :

This was a good new essay. Thank you.

Dear Gregor:

My pleasure. I keep thinking about that dumb kid, or young man, as the case may be, who said, "I have a smart phone. I can get at any information in the world. Why know anything?" Indeed.

Josh

Name:             KS
E-mail:           
Date:               01/26/17

Dear Josh :

Hope you've been well. Any new essays or other features (stories, treatments, scripts, reviews) we can look forward to seeing on your website in the near future? Are you about to talk about any brewing projects you're working on?

Dear KS:

You inspired me to finish an essay I've been sitting on and post it. Thank you. I also have several books that I want to post and all I have to do is write an introduction, that I've been putting off. So I'll do that too.

Josh

Name:             Booby
E-mail:           
Date:               01/17/17

Dear Josh :

So now that you're not hustling deals, and someone asks to see a copy of this or that movie you did, what specifically do you tell them in telling them no?

Dear Booby:

Well, luckily, or unluckily, nobody's asking to see anything of mine. I never got a sense that anyone watched anything anyway.

Josh

Name:             Stan Wrightson
E-mail:           
Date:               01/14/17

Dear Josh :

I just watched the documentary INVALUABLE again. Besides Sullivan himself, I thought that you were the best interview subject in the film. Tom is obviously a fascinating guy, and I think you are too. I love this movie!

Dear Stan:

Well, thank you. It seems to me I was half in the bag during those interviews.

Josh

Name:             Bobby
E-mail:           
Date:               01/14/17

Dear Josh :

What do you do/tell people when they find out you've made films and say something like, "I'd wanna see it, send me one?" assuming that you'll spend the resources sending them one free of charge. I understand you may not go around bragging about your work, but people probably find out regardless and, believe like most people, that everything is free that they desire and the artists goal in life is to provide everything to everyone for free.

Dear Bobby:

When I lived in Hollywood and was taking meetings and trying to hustle projects, sure, I gave everybody everything for free. Now I'm not hustling any deals, so I don't give anybody anything.

Josh

Name:             Bob
E-mail:           
Date:               01/08/17

Dear Josh :

I saw King Rat for the first time today. I knew about the film but didn't know much about it. I was thinking it was in North Africa, confusing it with Rat Patrol. I noticed it is on your favorite films list. I liked the film, I would put it in that category of 60s anti-war stories, such as SlaughterHouse Five, Catch-22 and The Victors. I had mixed feelings about the use of freeze frames. Ending a scene with a close up of George Segal smiling, seemed funny. On the other hand, in that scene the madness of the men kept intensifying and it had to break somewhere. So maybe it was somewhat effective. And I only noticed the freeze frames in a couple of places, so I guess Bryan Forbes didn't overdo it. What do you think of freeze shots in general and in King Rat? Do you still like King Rat?

Dear Bob:

I think "King Rat" is a good movie and a particularly good adaption of James Clavell's book. I don't care for the freeze-frames, but it was the '60s and there aren't too many of them. My biggest gripe is that I think the movie is too long and that 15-20 minutes could easily be cut out. The story certainly does tie up well, and it's a terrific part for young George Segal. It's a wonderfully provocative opening with the officer taking a crap on the "throne."

Josh

Name:             Peter Podgursky
E-mail:            podcore@hotmail.com
Date:               12/30/16

Dear Josh :

Can you talk about how the upcoming Blu-Ray release of “Running Time” came about? How they contacted you? How many they are planning on making? Etc. I love the film and I’m very curious about how boutique Blu-Rays come about. I would be grateful for any insight. Thanks.

Dear Peter:

"Boutique Blu Rays," eh? New terms every day. Synapse Films has been around forever, mostly putting out nicely packaged versions of obscure horror films. I've known these guys for a long time--they're located here in Michigan and I used to cross paths with them pretty regularly at the local horror cons. Years ago already, when the rights became available for TSNKE from Anchor Bay, Synapse picked up and released it. That went well, so now, eventually, they're releasing "Running Time." That's how it worked.

Josh

Name:             Nikolay Yeriomin
E-mail:            nikolayyeriomin@gmail.com
Date:               12/29/16

Dear Josh :

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! I hope in 2017 we will hear a lot from you and that will be even more inspiring then ever. Additionally, I wish you all the health a new year can provide. That always comes in handy. Have you ever considered doing a Christmas movie yourself? It might be one of the more over-used themes in films, but it still feels that it could bring something great, if inspiration is there... Yours sincerely, Nikolay Yeriomin.

Dear Nikolay:

No I haven't considered doing a Christmas movie, probably because I'm Jewish, but also because just about all of them suck. Other than "It's a Wonderful Life," "A Christmas Carol" (with Alister Sim) and "Miracle on 34th Street," it's not much of a genre.

Josh

Name:             Peter
E-mail:           
Date:               12/29/16

Dear Josh :

Seen any good movies of late? La La Land is good but too long.

Dear Peter:

No, but I've seen a lot of all right movies lately. "Perfect Sense" (2011), "The Seven Five" (15), "Queen to Play" (09), "A Royal Affair (12), "Made in Dagenham" (10),"Lust, Caution" (07), "Lymelife" (08), "Reunion at Fairborough" (85), "The Lunchbox" (13), "The Ritchie Boys" (04), "The Duchess" (08). Ang Lee's "Lust, Caution," which isn't one of his best movies, but that still makes it better than most everyone else's movies, has the most graphic sex scenes that I've ever seen in a movie, short of pornography. At a point I had to wonder how they were possibly not actually fucking. Sadly, there is no joy in any of this sex. Or is there?

"The Lunchbox" is the best of this lot, and I thought it was pretty good. Mumbai, India apparently has the greatest lunchbox delivery system in the world, yet somehow one lunchbox is being incorrectly delivered and a relationship develops between the older man (the actor who who played Pi as an older man) and a young, unhappy bride who is trying to prepare better and better food to impress her husband. I found "Perfect Sense" more interesting than good, but to make a reasonably believable apocalypse movie now with no FX at all was kind of impressive and I felt like I hadn't seen it before. "Queen to Play" with Sandrine Bonnaire and Kevin Kline was intriguing and well-executed. And I've never seen Mads Mikkelsen is anything before, and he was impressive in "A Royal Affair." I brought him up to my friend and he said, "Oh, Mads Mikkelsen is great!" "Valhalla Rising" doesn't look particularly appealing to me, but I do like him. The other films are all pretty good.

Josh

Name:             Diana
E-mail:            upon request
Date:               12/22/16

Dear Josh :

I finally got around to seeing "Birdman", with Michael Keaton. I found the entire film irritating and the ending unforgivable. At any rate, the technique of a single constant shot for almost the entire film length had me thinking of you, the originator. Wondered if you commented on that aspect of it yet.

Dear Diana:

Lovely to hear from you. I've wondered why nobody has brought this up before now. It's exactly the same technique, except that I kept it going the whole film and he did several dissolves to move through time, thus in my opinion, dissipating the entire purpose. If it's in real time then it seems to me that it should stay in real time. Meanwhile, I kind of enjoyed the film, except for the silly supernatural aspects like him floating or flying or suddenly having telekinesis for no good reason. I liked the basic idea of a bigshot Hollywood actor, famous for playing a superhero, wants to go back to NY and show his chops, of which he doesn't really have any. And attempting to take on the particularly serious work of Raymond Carver seemed amusing to me. But in all humbleness and honesty, and without the use of digital transitions, I think I put the real time technique to better use.

Josh

Name:             Jonathan A Moody
E-mail:            sickflickproductions@gmail.com
Date:               12/22/16

Hey Josh :

Long time no talk. Hope you have a happy holiday! I looked through your favorite films once again and noticed you didn't have a lot of Brian De Palma films. What is your opinion on him. Just watched "Bonfire of the Vanities" tonight and quite enjoyed it. Just surprised it wasn't on your list. Jonathan

Dear Jonathan:

With all due respect, "Bonfire of the Vanities" is a real stinker, and famous in its day for going wrong in every possible direction. A book whose title I can't recall was written about what an enormous disaster it was. It went way over budget, but the worst aspect in most people's opinion is that it was based on a very good book by Thomas Wolf, which was not a silly comedy, and was then turned into a silly comedy. The part of the judge played by Morgan Freeman was written as an older, white, Jewish man and was changed strictly out of political correctness. In any case, it seemed really terrible. Regarding Brian De Palma, I love "Carrie," and I have a fondness for "The Fury," but most of the rest of his films really do seem like junk with some nice moments in them. There was even a sequence in his fairly recent film, "The Black Dahlia," running up a staircase in slo-mo that was cool, but it's a nothing movie. Certainly "Scarface" and "The Untouchables" have some wonderful scenes, but they don't nearly add up to good films. If you could cut off the last 40 minutes of "Scarface" it would be a good movie. But as it is, I'll take the 1932 Howard Hawks version.

Josh

Name:             roger b
E-mail:           
Date:               12/19/16

Dear Josh :

Do you like watching your own movies?

Dear Roger:

Not really, no. And certainly not with other people around. I wouldn't mind seeing some of them in a theater with an audience again. That was fun. I had a great screening of "Running Time" at the 1997 New York Underground Film Festival. I got out of the cab that evening at about 8:00 PM for a 9:00 screening at the NY Film Academy where the festival was held and there were literally several hundred people standing around the corner waiting to go in. I thought, "This is going to be great." A few minutes later an usher at a legitimate theater next door announced, "'Tap Dogs,' now seating," and every single person went in leaving me by myself. I finally went into the 150-seat screening room and there were about ten people, all in black leather with funky hairdos. I thought, "OK, this is my audience." Between 9:00 and 9:15, during the announcements regarding other screenings, every seat filled up, all young punks, boys and girls. The movie started and I had that hip, cynical young audience in my grip for the entire running time of "Running Time," and I just knew that they were expecting a bleak ending, which I play into, then Bruce returns and they all sighed in happy satisfaction. Softies, every single one of them.

Josh

Name:             Eric
E-mail:           
Date:               12/10/16

Dear Josh :

I am working on a screenplay set in the seedy side of Los Angeles in the late 70s. I have read your fun memoir "Going Hollywood" and appreciate you have a first hand knowledge of this era. I am looking for movies set in this time and place to help with period details, so far I have "The Choirboys" and "Hardcore." Can you suggest any other films that capture this time and place? Thanks.

Dear Eric:

First of all, "The Choirboys" is one of the worst movies ever made and a blot on the career of director, Robert Aldrich. My buddies and I ridiculed that movie when it came out, and it still has one of the stupidest things ever put in a movie -- a guy grabs the end of another guy's mustache and tears his whole mustache off, as though a mustache was not made up of individual hairs, so all you'd really get was what your thumb and finger were grabbing. "Hardcore" was a better idea than it was a film, and I honestly don't think that writer-director, Paul Schrader, really knew anything about the seamy side of Hollywood. He did, however, do a great job with the seamy side of New York in "Taxi Driver." Regarding my recollections of Hollywood in the 1970s, I've never seen that in a movie, so you may just have a good idea. Like the female hookers plying their trade for miles along Sunset Blvd., and all dressed in skintight Danskin bathing suits, stockings and high heels; whereas the boy hustlers ran for miles along Santa Monica Blvd. And that Hollywood Blvd. in the middle of the night was was mainly crazy people, and me, too, of course. But I was doing research. Anyway, good luck writing your script, and if you have any questions, just write in.

Josh

Name:             Kae
E-mail:            kaeshun73@hotmail.com
Date:               12/03/16

Dear Josh :

I'm just now getting hype to you. MY LOSS. ;-) I'm reviewing your website and have a copy of your book The complete guide..." but do you cover why you decided not to sell your DVDs as streaming products at least on Vimeo subscription (rental), Netflix, or Amazon?

Dear Kae:

Maybe I will in the future, but right now I don't care. I'm not interested in adding any more nostalgia to the already overly saturated market. We're living in the present day, which is a bloody fucking disaster area; who honestly gives a shit about some dumb fucking super-8 movies from 40 years ago? I don't. Nor am I interested in the twelve cents I'll make from streaming them. By the way, what did you think of the book? Of any use?

Josh

Name:             Randall
E-mail:            randall_favors@yahoo.com
Date:               12/03/16

Dear Josh :

Youtube searched "Lunatics a love story" only found a Spanish version. Searched Amazon... $100 for VHS. Is there any way to find your movie for sale on dvd, it really sucks not being able to find the movies I randomly found on TV before cable guides and 3 day menus.

Dear Randall:

Sony never released "Lunatics" on DVD, so the only ones that exist are the DVD-Rs I made and sold. But apparently Sony will stop any English language version from getting onto YouTube. I'm not sure what the deal is with copyright law in Spain, but I know that "Lunatics" was illegally shown on Spanish television because I got a residual payment for it, even though it's not covered by the DGA. Weird.

Josh

Name:             Bob
E-mail:           
Date:               11/28/16

Dear Josh :

I watched Paris, Texas for the first time. It was very slow paced. I thought it was ok, but I had hoped that there was a little more to the resolution. I think it followed the three act structure. I would say there there was a very long Act I, well over an hour, which ended with the departure of Travis and Hunter from California. Act II was shorter beginning with the road trip to Texas and ending with the first encounter between Travis and Jane. Act III was relatively short with Jane's realization of Travis's identity and her reunion with Hunter. Is it a good idea to have a great disparity in length between the three acts, or does it matter? Do you consider the film to be a good one? I wonder if the peep show was a real place or just a constructed movie set? It was very odd.

Dear Bob:

I saw the film when it came out and my only recollection was that it was slow and dull, but looked good. On a very basic level the three acts are about: 35 minutes, 50 minutes, 35 minutes, but that's anything but chiseled in stone. Act one of "Lunatics" is 45 minutes and I think it's too long, and I took a little bit of shit for it. Act three of "Marty" is about 5 minutes long and it's all the story needs. But 35-50-35 is a reasonable guide for a 120 minute movie.

Josh

Name:             Ramsey Lawson
E-mail:            adamrlawson1982@gmail.com
Date:               11/25/16

Hey Josh :

Was wanting to know if you are doing any convention appearances in the future? Was hoping to one day have you sign my Evil Dead cover. If you don't have any appearances in the near future, is it possible for you to sign it if I mailed it to you. I would be pay whatever fees there would be as well. Thanks Josh, and tell Synapse to hurry up with your Blu releases!

Dear Ramsey:

Those folks work in their own sweet time. No, I don't plan on any more appearances in the near future. I'll be happy to sign your ED cover as long as you include return packaging and postage.

Josh Becker
1829 Wellington Ave.
Bloomfield Hills, MI

Name:             Carl
E-mail:           
Date:               11/23/16

Dear Josh :

Can you please further explain PB's quote, " I had good producers on that film." What does it mean and what was the importance of producers in Hollywood back in the day? What is the current studio system like and why did it come to prominence?

Dear Carl:

The importance of the producers hasn't changed, but finding "good ones" who let you do whatever you want is pretty much unheard of. Bogdanovich's producers on "The Last Picture Show" were Bert and Harold Schneider, who had gotten rich from "The Monkees" TV show, then produced "Easy Rider," which was a huge, unexpected hit. There was a short period in Hollywood when directors had an enormous amount of freedom to make the films they wanted to make, but by the late 1970s that ended. The system changed with first "Jaws," then "Star Wars," when it became clear that special effects movies could gross a hundred million dollars in a month. Suddenly, the whole system became calculated to to do just that, with the occasional nod toward quality and perhaps Oscars. Just like Hollywood does not have the same system it had in the day of the movie moguls, it does not have the same system that it had between the moguls and corporate take-over that turned all of the studios into money-grubbing bean-counting machines.

Josh

Name:             Paul
E-mail:           
Date:               11/18/16

Hey Josh :

First of all count me in on the snooze you lose club regarding your videos (Que Sera Sera!) Anyways I caught this 1972 episode of the Dick Cavett show on one of the low rent cable channels. Maybe you have seen it. It is his film director special with Altman, Bogdonavich, Brooks, and Capra. What struck me was that everything about it recalled a lost time, first Frank Capra having his film world come to an end, Bogdonavich and Altman would soon find their day in the sun over a few years later, Mel Brooks would have more success, and the show itself with Dick Cavett just conversing with interesting people, nowadays talk shows are mostly just celebrity shenanigans. https://www.youtube.com/watch? v=7yCQ_ko28IQ

Dear Paul:

Yes, it's fascinating. It's kind of a shame they didn't all get to converse in a round table sort of way. Capra certainly seems like the odd man out, but his book, "The Name Above the Title" (which I read at the time) had just come out. What's really interesting is that one of the topics was, "Is film dead?" with which none of them agree, and as far as I'm concerned, and many others, 1972 is smack in the middle of Hollywood's last golden age. I think what they really meant was is the Hollywood system dead? They all acknowledge the concept of studio interference, but none of them had experienced it. By 1980 there was no avoiding it; the studio system had become nothing but interference. What you're seeing there is the last gasp of freedom in Hollywood. Bogdanovich actually says, "I had good producers on that film," which is phrase that was never spoken again after 1977.

Josh

Name:             Eddie
E-mail:           
Date:               11/15/16

Dear Josh :

Why don't you sell your films on your site any longer?

Dear Eddie:

Because it was an enormous pain in the ass that never made any money. And DVD-Rs suck and are unreliable. So, having done it for many, many years, I finally grew weary of the whole thing and have stopped. Quite frankly, I don't care if people bootleg them and give them away for free on the internet. For years the only way you could get them was with bootlegs. Now, perhaps, the bootleg versions will look better.

Josh

Name:             Bob
E-mail:           
Date:               11/13/16

Dear Josh :

You mentioned that the electoral college system is broken, but I thought it actually worked better than 2000 because there weren't any disputed state results and nothing that would change the electoral college vote. At any rate the system is unlikely to change since it would require an Constitutional Amendment which would require ratification by 3/4 of the states. The small population states would never pass anything that would reduce their clout. The Senate is even less representative than the electoral college. These are all holdovers from the Articles of Confederation which the small states insisted on retaining in 1789. Maybe a radical left Supreme Court would declare these provisions unconstitutional, but now that is unlikely to happen. The best advice is to devise a strategy for the existing system, which Pres. Obama was able to achieve.

Dear Bob:

I don't think the electoral college is broken; I think it's unnecessary, and ultimately, not fair. Back when it was devised counting votes and getting a clear tabulation of who was voted for was difficult; now it isn't. There's no reason that some dumbass in rural Shitville's vote is worth more than a person living in a city. And there was ways of doing this without a constitutional amendment. What the popular vote clearly shows is that there are more liberals than conservatives, and I believe that there are a lot more than that. But complacency killed us. Complacency killed our arts, and it's now destroying our society. Nobody wants to use this comparison because it's become a cliche, but it's more true with Trump than any other presidential candidate in our history -- he's very similar is Adolf Hitler. Pin your problems on ethnic and racial minorities, spout extreme nationalism, bring back employment with massive manufacturing jobs (meaning military) and tell people exactly what they want to hear even when you absolutely don't mean it. I am certainly not espousing civil war, but the reason we fought the American Civil War was over an idea -- all men are created equal. It was not rational to have a Constitution that said that and also have slavery, so we fought our bloodiest war ever to straighten it out. Mexicans aren't taking our jobs and Muslims are not undermining our social fabric; they are scapegoats, just as the Jews were in Germany in the 1930s. Well, this is where we are, to the surprise and consternation of many people. If you don't like it, do something about it. But if you sit around and wait for someone else to fix it, it won't get fixed. I am not an eternal optimist like Obama. I think this society has been heading for disaster for a long time, and now it's truly beginning. It could get worse before it gets better, or it can just get worse and worse. I must admit that I'm highly curious to see what happens.

Josh

Name:             Heather
E-mail:           
Date:               11/13/16

Dear Josh :

Have you seen this video? https://www.youtube.com/watch? v=GLG9g7BcjKs I take issue with several of his points, but his overall argument is sound.

Dear Heather:

What argument is sound? Start a dialog? What does that mean, and with whom? I understand his anger -- even if he is British -- and what that needs to do is fire up the left. Trump has promised to return us to the "good old days" when we were the manufacturing giant of the world. That can't happen; it's not humanly possible, even with a successful entrepreneur instead of a politician in office. I suspect that he won't roll back the minimum wage to 50 cents an hour, so we can't compete on that level. In fact, almost everything he promised isn't possible. Unless he's going to put huge tariffs on all imports -- which has proven itself over and over as the death of free trade -- what's he going to do? Of course, that is the big question: what's he going to do? In my 58 years I have spent almost exactly half under Republicans and half under Democrats. It seems to me that Republicans are always wrong about the economy and run it into the dirt, while setting a conservative agenda liberals can't stand; Democrats fix the economy (to some extent), then set a liberal agenda the right can't stand. It's a divided country and always has been, from the time of our founding fathers. But let us not forget our history. This country was far more divided before the abolition of slavery, and we went through almost 30 years of inept, one-term presidents, until we had a man with real backbone, Lincoln, which immediately caused the Civil War. We're not there. Our country is not nearly as divided now as it was then, and I daresay we're not headed to a civil war. What we are headed for, I presume, is four years of dissatisfaction for everybody. So, if Trump can manage to not get us into an utterly meaningless war, like Bush did with Iraq, or blow up the whole world, we'll live through it.

Josh

Name:             Heather
E-mail:           
Date:               11/11/16

Dear Josh :

Did you watch Trump's victory speech? I couldn't stomach the entire thing, but the expression he wore when he first entered the room seemed to be the expression of a man who didn't want to be there. His trophy wife's expression of utter misery was even more disturbing. I can't believe what is happening right now. Yes, I remember dumb dumb George W, but this feels so much worse. IDIOCRACY may not have been a very good movie, but it turned out to be incredibly prophetic. The only thing the filmmakers got wrong was that they underestimated how long it would take for the stupid people to take over.

Dear Heather:

The left deserves this for their ambivalence and feeling that somebody else would handle the problem and they didn't have to. I bought a pile of Hillary signs during the summer, put two on my lawn and offered them for free to anyone who wanted them. All of the folks I knew who were ultimately going to vote for Hillary wouldn't take one. I had to hear five hundred times, "I just don't like her," and no amount of explanation or urging could get them past it. Finally, a week before the election people took all the signs. Whoops! Too late. The second you stop caring and think somebody else will deal with this, you're fucked. As H.L. Mencken said, "Democracy is where the common man gets the government he deserves, good and hard." Hillary offered the status quo; Trump offered change, whatever it may end up being. Well, change is what the people wanted. And people can bitch about the electoral college, but that proved itself broken and unworkable in 2000 and nobody did anything about it. From my perspective, Trump looks flabbergasted that he actually won; now what's he going to do? He's already capitulated on not backing South Korea and told the prime minister, "We're behind you 100%," which is good. I think he's going to have to go back on most of what he promised because it made no sense; it was strictly to get votes. So now, who is Donald Trump? What does he actually stand for? We'll now find out, but I'm not going to worry about it. OK, so it's not going to be an era of hugging women and kids and LGBT people. But whatever it is, I'm curious to see it. This is now officially a much more dangerous time to live in, just like it was with Bush. I don't think Trump is as stupid as Bush, nor as inherently evil. So fasten your seat belts, we're in for a bumpy ride.

Josh

Name:             Paul Angelosanto
E-mail:            dr.ravenwell@gmail.com
Date:               11/09/16

Dear Josh :

I was going to buy Lunatics but I saw you closed your store. Is there any chance I could still buy a copy from you? thanks.

Dear Paul:

Nope, the store is closed.

Josh

Name:             Russ
E-mail:           
Date:               11/07/16

Dear Josh :

Have you heard about this? http://www.hollywoodreporter. com/news/quentin-tarantino- confirms-retirement-rumors- two-more-943862 He says he's one of the greatest filmmakers that ever lived. Is he serious!

Dear Russ:

Tarantino is probably the most known filmmaker of the past 20 years, following after Spielberg. But then most people don't know who directors are, so they glom on to the few they've heard of. "Best" is a an extremely relative term. It's nice at the age of 53 that he thinks so highly of himself, although he does seem to be in a constant and unending state of nostalgia, which was how he was way back when I knew him, and he was young then. I have no nostalgia in me. There were no good old days as far as I'm concerned, there's only now, like it or not. For some reason Quentin believes that 1970 was the apotheosis of filmmaking, with which I don't agree, and I think that my five year age advantage gives me a much clearer view. He was merely seven in 1970, whereas I was twelve. 1970 was a very good year in the history of film, and my favorite film by far, which I saw five times in the the theater that year, was "Patton," and it won all the Oscars, so I felt fulfilled. But to say that 1970 was the best year of a brilliant ten-year run of filmmaking, 1967-1977, doesn't bear itself out. It's a good year, but no better than any of the others. I am personally very fond of 1976, the year I moved to Hollywood (beautifully detailed in my book, "Going Hollywood"), with "Rocky," "Taxi Driver" and "Network," amongst many others.

Oh, yeah, I didn't answer your question, what do I think of Quentin retiring? I'll bet he wishes he stayed in the Director's Guild so he could get his benefits. It's the best health insurance I've ever had.

Josh

Name:             Kevin Fox
E-mail:            foxphotous@gmail.com
Date:               11/07/16

Mr Becker :

Kevin again from the advice messsage. I meant specifically the camera department, my background is in photography and I want to build myself up to a DP.

Dear Kevin:

Make a demo reel. Blow everybody away in a short, easily-watchable item. Light people in different circumstances, shoot pretty exteriors, blazing sunsets. Set it all to spectacular music. Then corner people and make them watch it. Regarding my being a PA for all those years, in both Detroit and L.A., I was connected up to a couple of production companies in both cities (having gotten gigs with them through other people), whom I would regularly pester for work. My PA career lasted from 1976 to 1992. It was great production experience, but I'm glad it's over. If I can't be the director I don't want to be on a film set, even visiting.

Josh

Name:             Russ
E-mail:           
Date:               10/26/16

Dear Josh:

I guess you don't want to work on Ash vs. Evil Dead enough to go after it but apparently Kevin Sorbo does. Bruce was asked about Kevin Sorbo being in Ash by a fan at one of the Comic Cons. Bruce said a lot of people want to work on the show. "Sorbo emailed me and said he could do Evil." Ash has lots of profanity, dark humor and gory as hell. Any thoughts on why Sorbo would want to leave his religious films that he seems so fond of and essentially beg Bruce for a job?

Dear Russ:

It's a good gig, and I have no doubt Kevin likes to work. Why else?

Josh

Name:             Tyler
E-mail:            mark3tardis@gmail.com
Date:               10/24/16

Dear Josh:

I'm a big fan of your super 8 work and your features, I really wanted to buy the dvds when you were selling them but the store is closed now. I'm wondering if there is any way to get those? I especially would like a copy of Lunatics DVD or Blu Ray. I'm sure I could bootleg or download them all but I'm an trying to be a film maker myself and I wanna make sure you get money for your hard work.

Dear Tyler:

I appreciate your concern for me getting the money for my films, but alas, I no longer sell them. I did sell the movies for most of the last decade, so I guess the moral of the story is: he who hesitates is lost. Bootleg away, and I hope you enjoy them.

Josh

Name:             Kevin Fox
E-mail:            foxphotous@gmail.com
Date:               10/24/16

Dear Josh:

Mr. Becker, as a recent former Michigander who moved to Los Angeles to find work in the industry I'd like to hear some advice on crew work. I've worked as a PA a couple times but I had to take a higher paying job guarding sets in order to pay off debts. I'm not established enough myself to get stable work as crew and I was wondering if you had any advice for someone newly minted in the industry. I heard you started off as a PA in the 1970s and I would love to hear any pointers.

Dear Kevin:

What do you want to do? Be a director? A writer? A DP? If you just want to work on the crew, that's a thankless ambition. What's your goal?

Josh

Name:             Nikolay Yeriomin
E-mail:            nikolayyeriomin@gmail.com
Date:               10/21/16

Dear Josh:

Apart from "The General" and a few others listed in "Favorite Movies", do you have any special favorites among silent comedies? Also, have you seen Keaton's "Hard Luck", which was recently found and restored in its entirety? Yours sincerely, Nikolay Yeriomin.

Dear Nikolay:

I haven't seen "Hard Luck," but I'll watch it. Some great silent comedies are: Buster Keaton's "Our Hospitality," Harold Lloyd's "Dr. Jack," and Charlie Chaplin's "The Kid."

Josh

Name:             James
E-mail:            cinefile6899@gmail.com
Date:               10/21/16

Dear Josh:

I'm a little surprised (and disappointed) guys like you and Scott Spiegel and Gary Jones don't get any love from the Raimi/Tapert camp. How come you guys aren't directing Ash Vs. Evil Dead? Or Ghost House flicks? Where's the loyalty?

Dear James:

I got plenty of love when I wanted it; they produced "Lunatics," then I worked on Herc and Xena for years. If I really, really wanted an episode of this Evil Dead show I'm sure I could get it, but I don't want it. Not enough, anyway. Regarding the Ghost House films, they keep working with Fede Alvarez because he's young and he's good and he wants it. And it paid off big. If I had a horror feature in me to make, I'd make it. I often think of Laurence Olivier's quote, "You think you're an artist, prove it." There's nothing between me and writing a great script except doing it.

Josh

Name:             Bob
E-mail:           
Date:               10/10/16

Dear Josh:

How much financial sense does a director have to have? Does a director have to have a good sense of managing finances and budgets, or is that an area left to others with the director knowing up front what material resources there are to work with to produce a film?

Dear Bob:

It depends on what size of a movie your talking about. If you're shooting a full-length film in three weeks, all your thinking about is how do I achieve this schedule in this amount of time? I was informed early on by an assistant director that no shot takes less than a half hour. Therefore, there are only so many hours in a day, minus lunch and tea (if you must), and you're left with ten and a half hours--potentially 21 shots, if you know what you're doing. It's all time and money management, and how you put your resources to their best advantage, like anything else. If you have any talent, hopefully that will shine through.

Josh

Name:             Garfield Von Bautista
E-mail:            mpowerman33@outlook.com
Date:               10/10/16

Hey Josh!

Long time lurker. I saw a few posts back that you block out 30 minutes for tea. Are you a tea fan or is this the standard break? I'm a big fan of you and your work, and I've got a few dollars saved up. If I'd like to invest those dollars to seed fund a movie to get you directing a new project, what kind of budget would you realistically need?

Dear Garfield:

I don't like tea and never have. In New Zealand, by way of England, there is a tea break at 4:30 where they would serve sandwiches. It serves no purpose other than to ruin your appetite for dinner and slow the production down. Luckily, we don't have this break in America. The next movie I make will be $100,000 or less, although what that movie will be is up in the air at the moment.

Josh

Name:             Russ
E-mail:           
Date:               10/07/16

Hello Josh:

Today Bruce was asked on Reddit about a film he starred in that might not be well known to his fans. He suggested they buy Running Time. You might be getting a run of requests for it.

Dear Russ:

Too bad, I don't sell it anymore. It's been licensed to Synapse Films, and will come out when they feel like it. But it was nice of Bruce to mention it.

Josh

Name:             Paul
E-mail:           
Date:               10/06/16

Dear Josh:

Regarding your review of "Born to be Blue" (Which at least was better than that ridiculous Miles Davis move) Since so many bio pics, especially in the arts category, tend to follow the rise/fall/redemption cliches and formulae, what ones do you recommend that go beyond that pattern or are just overall better films. Thanks

Dear Paul:

A fairly recent biopic I liked was "The Last Ride" with Henry Thomas as Hank Williams over the course of the last few days of his life. He was booked for three performances somewhere in the south and hires a kid from a gas station to drive him to the shows, then misses all of them. Therefore, we never have to hear him sing a song, but we do keep hearing his songs on the radio, often covered by other musicians. Henry Thomas was surprisingly good. "Trumbo" was all right. It's a difficult genre, I think. I found "Ray and "I Walk the Line" both kind of miserable. I liked "The Glenn Miller Story" with Jimmy Stewart.

Josh

Name:             Russ
E-mail:           
Date:               9/30/16

Hello Josh:

Bruce talks about smoking weed on the set of Evil Dead 37 years ago. I thought you'd find it amusing if you missed him on Conan O'Brien's show last night. https://www.youtube.com/watch? v=NtnTPzNAyaQ

Dear Russ:

I did find it amusing. Thanks. We certainly didn't have very much weed while we shot that film. Tom Sullivan was the only one who brought any, and that's why I assisted him as much as I could. But it's a knuckleheaded idea that pot had anything to do with what "Evil Dead" is or has become. Bruce is correct in saying that he kind of got freaked out when he got high during shooting because, unlike the rest of us, he was a complete novice at smoking weed. Bruce was the straight guy in the group, and him finally succumbing was highly amusing, particularly in that setting. But since we didn't have any weed on set--Tom was usually back at the house making the effects--we only got high when some local yokel kids would find their way to the cabin and ask, "Wanna smoke some wacky tabaky?" and that didn't happen all that often.

Josh

Name:             Roger G
E-mail:           
Date:               9/26/16

Dear Josh:

A couple of years back in your Q&A you said something about the elements of TSNKE being in a climate controlled storage facility in Hollywood. I believe my memory is correct. Question: Is it important to keep film elements that are over 20 years old.(16mm negatives, work prints, sound mags, etc.) in a climate controlled environment or is it ok to keep them in a dark, cool closet at my house? I'm in Los Angeles. Do you recommend a storage facility? What do you pay to store the elements of TSNKE?

Dear Roger:

I've got a lot of stuff: negatives and prints of four features, plus all the shorts. The place is Pacific Title Archives. You keep the shit where you can. I pay $70 a month, and it wouldn't be much less for a storage unit.

Josh

Name:             Justin Hayward
E-mail:            justinhayw@gmail.com
Date:               9/24/16

Dear Josh:

Right, but it can't all be mathematical based on time constraints. A wide angle close up has a much different feel than a long lens close up even though they're both close ups. For me, it feels like the more I learn, the more I find out I don't know, so when I was in film school I thought whatever I did was great. Now? Not so much. Do you feel more confident in your creative choices now than when you began?

Dear Justin:

What lens you use doesn't effect the amount of time you have to shoot it. I've probably mentioned, but I generally don't call the lens, I let the DP choose, then I either accept it or change it, and I often change it. The best way, I've found, is to just keep the zoom on the camera, find the focal length you're looking for, then replace the zoom with a prime. I'm sure you already know this. Having now seen you work, and I admire what you shot, I don't take that much time on the set considering the possibilities. I've got a plan, and that's how I'm shooting it.

Josh

Name:             Roger G
E-mail:           
Date:               9/23/16

Dear Josh:

There is this whole Brad Pitt Angelina Jolie stuff in the news now: He's under investigating for child abuse, they are getting a divorce, blah, blah, blah. Question: If you were directing a film with let's say Brad Pitt at this very moment, would you ask him about this or bring it up or even reference it at all? If your star is going through a big public drama/scandal, as a good director, do you bring it up?

Dear Roger:

It depends on how close the star and director are. There's an enormous amount of time just sitting around a set, but if the star doesn't want to talk about bullshit they can always stay in their trailer until it's time to shoot. It's about discretion, I suppose.

Josh

Name:             Justin Hayward
E-mail:            justinhayw@gmail.com
Date:               9/22/16

Dear Josh:

It seems the older I get, the less confident I am in my decisions on any particular film directing job. Is that something you've encountered? Thanks

Dear Justin:

Actually, no. I was much less confident of my shot selection earlier in my career. Somewhere between "Lunatics" and "Running Time," meaning the first season of "Hercules" and the beginning of "Xena," I stopped worrying about it. My brain went purely mathematical. Minimally, I have these 24 shots to get, and I have 12 hours, minus an hour for lunch, minus a half hour for tea, therefore 10 1/2 hours. Since in every scene I could always get more coverage, so what's the minimum coverage for each scene? Is it in one, or does it need close-ups?

Josh

Name:             Steven Milan
E-mail:            stevmedia@aol.com
Date:               9/18/16

Dear Josh:

With the Presidential elections quickly coming along in the next 52 days(as if this writing),it looks like everything is zooming in upon Donald Trump's chances of obtaining the Presidency looking bright(after Hillary Clinton's illness stricken faint at a 9/11 related ceremony). Is there any chance that you are planning on writing an essay of reasons not to vote for Trump as you did with 2004's "A Vote For George W. Bush Is Treason",considering that Trump and the far right wing extremist forces that he's surrounded and allied himself with are too dangerous for both America and the world to handle and deal with(even more so that both ISIS[and the Middle Eastern terrorists] and North Korea).

Dear Steven:

I have two Hillary signs on my lawn; I know where I stand. I live in a predominantly conservative neighborhood, generally with a lot of Republican yard sign. Alas, there are none right now. However, I bought six Hillary signs and I can't give four away, even to folks whom I know are voting for her. But there's no arguing with a Trump supporter; they are indeed a basket of deplorables, and I daresay it's more than half of them. But if you've somehow rationalized that any change is better than what you have, even if it's far worse, then who can talk to you?

Josh

Name:             Roger G
E-mail:           
Date:               9/16/16

Dear Josh :

Later this month I'm seeing The Evil Dead on the big screen for the first time in a giant old theater in Los Angeles. Bruce is presenting it with a new score, performed live by Joseph DeLuca (sp?) and his orchestra. My question is this: I have seen the film before on video only. With this large screen viewing is there something I should look for that can only be appreciated on the big screen? I have no idea what, perhaps you do. Thanks.

Dear Roger:

It's Joe LoDuca, for the record. That ought to be great fun watching the movie with Joe conducting a live orchestra and Bruce presenting. Here, you can look for this: in the scene where Hal Delrich (who is really Rich Demanicor) tells Bruce he's leaving and Bruce says, "But what about Cheryl?" and Rich says, "She's your girlfriend, you take care of her." Bruce then delivers the single worst line-reading of his life (and he knows it), for which I've personally been giving him shit his whole life, "Cheryl? She can't walk, she can't even stand up." However, the real point is to notice the beautiful soft lighting I used, a purpilish-blue background in the two medium shots, which I did as a counterpoint to the drama that I think turned out rather lovely.

Josh

Name:             Russ
E-mail:           
Date:               9/5/16

Dear Josh :

Sam and Rob's new feature "Don't Breathe" is once again number one in the box office this weekend. They produced it with a host of others with Fede Alvarez directing. This film almost has more producers than actors. Why do some movies have so many producers? Are that many really necessary or is it easy to get a producer's credit?

Dear Russ:

I looked on imdb. and there are four companies and fourteen producers listed. Therefore, if each company gets three producers, that's twelve. Plus Fede and his co-writer, Rodo, and there's fourteen. Was it necessary? Apparently in this case it was. As they say, every deal is its own deal. Whatever it takes to get a movie made, that's what you do.

Josh

Name:             Justin Hayward
E-mail:            justinhayw@gmail.com
Date:               8/30/16

Dear Josh :

"Thank you, sir, thank you. I needed that." Why did you "need" that?

Dear Justin:

Because I tried very hard with that little script, "The Undercard," to achieve something -- investigating the parameters of horror -- and another human being on the planet recognized it. I also tried with my third "Spine Chillers" episode, "Estate Sale," and nobody recognized it. C'est la vie.

Josh

Name:             Will
E-mail:            wdodson52@hotmail.com
Date:               8/30/16

Dear Josh :

Oh hell! I was so caught up in my Gene Wilder moment that I forgot about "Bonnie & Clyde," "Young Frankenstein," and "The Producers"! Okay, quite a few big movies. But still, I think the best moment was his tribute to Gilder on the actor's studio.

Dear Will:

And "Blazing Saddles." But the film of his that really got me as a kid, and it may very well not hold up since I haven't seen it since it's initial release in 1970, is "Quackser Fortune Has a Cousin in the Bronx," which I went back and saw several times. I thought it was completely charming, and Wilder completely nailed the Irish brogue (it's an Irish film). Mr. Wilder does win some kind of award for having written, produced, directed and starred in two of the worst movies of all time: "Sherlock Holmes' Smarter Brother" and "The World's Greatest Lover," which we all ridiculed for years afterward. As a friend of mine recently pointed out, it's Wilder's scene in "Bonnie and Clyde" that changes the whole tone of that movie. It's all a lark until Wilder says that he's a mortician, then it becomes a tragedy. It was certainly a star-making scene.

Josh

Name:             Joey
E-mail:            joeythemovieman@gmail.com
Date:               8/28/16

Hi Josh :

I just read your three unproduced Spine Chillers, thanks for posting them. I thought the Bryce one was entertaining (picturing Bruce in that role, how could it not be???)...did he read it? Comment on it? It's a shame that it won't ever get made (I'm only assuming that because you said you were done with the series). The deli one was ok, I admit I was holding out for a better twist of some kind. I feel like it would have been your most ambitious Spine Chillers shoot and probably would have been a tough production. Still wish we got to see it. Anyway, lastly, I wanted to comment on your Undercard script, which I thought was just exceptional. I mean, wow, it was a great piece of work, you should really be proud of that, and I very much hope this isn't the end of the line with it. A short story adaptation, maybe? So you can publish it in a lit zine? It reminded me of H emingway, and frankly I'm kind of glad you didn't do it for Spine Chillers, it's honestly too good for that! I would love to hear a little bit more about what inspired this piece, if you might consider another medium for it, or shooting it as a stand-alone, etc. Thanks, and nice work! -Joey-

Dear Joey:

Thank you, sir, thank you. I needed that. I thought that "The Undercard" would be a really good episode, and completely achievable with nothing. You never see a fight, you only hear them. All of the locations are: an office, a locker room, and a stolen exterior of Joe Louis Arena. But beyond that it was an exploration of what exactly horror is? I'd still like to shoot it.

Josh

Name:             Keith
E-mail:            alwayslikethis882@mail.com
Date:               8/26/16

Dear Josh :

Do you have any plans to put your six un-shot "Spine Chillers" scripts onto your website? I would be interested in reading them.

Dear Keith:

What a wonderful idea. I'm so glad that I thought of it. Here are three of the unproduced "Spine Chillers" scripts. The others still need work. I just saw Bruce yesterday and he's let himself go gray -- grayer than me -- and he looks like Jeff Chandler (for those who know who he is), which would be great for his episode. Alas, he'll have to dye his hair again for the next season of "Ash vs the Evil Dead" and I'm not making "Spine Chillers" anymore.

Josh

Name:             Eric
E-mail:            hoheisele@aol.com
Date:               8/21/16

Dear Josh :

You no longer have script/treatment review services listed on your website. Do you currently have too many clients or are you permanently out of the script consultant business? Thanks, Eric

Dear Eric:

No one was interested so I discontinued it. But from the few scripts that I did read and make notes on, nobody -- and I mean nobody -- could get with what I considered very simple instructions. Apparently, everybody feels that they are "artists" and "rebels" and will not be infringed upon with basic screenwriting concepts; that they, having never written a decent script, will now reinvent the form, which I find the height of absurdity.

Josh

Name:             Nikolay Yeriomin
E-mail:            nikolayyeriomin@gmail.com
Date:               8/17/16

Dear Josh :

Happy Birthday! Wish you all the health, inspiration, luck and prosperity! Hope that this new year of your life will bring you a lot of good stuff. As it is "Ask the Director", I'm also asking a question, anyway: do you own (or have ever owned) VHS copies of "Battle the Big Tuna" and/or "Hawg Wild in Sturgis"? Yours sincerely, Nikolay Yeriomin.

Dear Nikolay:

Thank you. Yes, of course, I have copies of both of those films.

Josh

Name:             Paul
E-mail:           
Date:               8/16/16

Dear Josh :

What would you say is the difference between what is called a thriller and what is termed suspense or is it just nitpicking, and a good example of each.

Dear Paul:

I don't think it's nitpicking, although I don't know if anyone has ever bothered to differentiate between them, but let's try. It seems to me that a thriller simply has a lot of action, whereas suspense is an emotion created by the drama. As I just mentioned in my previous response, I watched "Zulu" last night and I don't think anyone would term it a thriller, and there's not much action for the first two-thirds, but there's a lot of suspense. We know that 4,000 Zulus are going to attack the one hundred British soldiers, but neither we nor they know when. So, as they build barricades and stack sandbags, the tension keeps increasing. That's suspense in its purest form. Something like the "Bourne" films have a lot of chases and shooting and stuff, but not much or any suspense. As Hitchcock, the Master of Suspense, defined suspense, a nervous-looking guy goes into a restaurant holding a briefcase which he sets underneath his table, then orders a cup of coffee. He gets the coffee, takes a few sips, then leaves, but doesn't take the briefcase. Now, what's in the briefcase? Is it just some papers, or is it a bomb? We don't know, but as long as that briefcase sits there, and the fellow gets further and further away without going back for it, that's suspense.

Josh

Name:             August
E-mail:            joxerfan@hotmail.com
Date:               8/16/16

Dear Josh :

Wishing you a very happy birthday, filled with Bulgarian supermodels serving you mooch potato liquor and ganja. I never get a chance to send any good questions for you these days, and half the time the e-mail function doesn't seem to work, but I always read every word you post. Anyway, here's not so much a question, as just an observation that occurred to me while watching "Rio Bravo" recently - Howard Hawks was certainly famous for his fast-paced, overlapping dialogue, but lots of times he went with minimalism instead. That opening sequence - with Dean Martin smacking Wayne, then Claude Akins shooting the guy in the bar and eventually getting arrested by Wayne - plays out for about a minute and a half with no dialogue whatsoever, apart from vague background conversation. Later Ward Bond shows up, and Wayne sends his men to stash their wagons somewhere, and young Colorado simply says "Is that the way you want it, Mr. Wheeler?" One sentence, and he's defined his character - not afraid of Wayne, but not disrespectful either. Just incredibly loyal to his boss on the tiniest of details. Later Wheeler asks Wayne if two men is all he's got. Wayne replies "That's what I got." Four words, and he's defined his character - not denying the odds he's facing, but not scared by them either. Things like that always impress me - and of course, I immediately think of you, since you are someone who always urges viewers to look for things like that. Hoping all is well! Regards, August

Dear August:

Always good to hear from you, and thanks for the birthday wishes. Yes, isn't that great stuff in "Rio Bravo." I love that opening with Dean Martin reaching into the spittoon for the coin -- we know everything we need to know about both Martin and Wayne with no dialog. As a writer, I wrestle with this all the time -- does the audience understand, or do I need to flat-out tell them? I think in most cases the audience does understand and it's simply my insecurity. A perfect example is in "Running Time" when Bruce beats up the junkie, takes his watch and says, "That was Buzz's watch." I believe now that everyone in the audience remembers it was Buzz's watch and it would have been a lot better to not say it. Give the viewer some credit for their intelligence. I just watched "Zulu" last night for about the sixth time, and there's a moment between a soldier and the sergeant that stuck out to me. A hundred British soldiers are being attacked by 4,000 Zulus. The soldier asks in a frightened tone, "Why us?" and the sergeant replies, "We're here." Being completely visual, or at least succinct, seems to be part of the lost art of filmmaking. Anyway, please stop by more often and bring up interesting points. Thanks.

Josh

Name:             Lynn
E-mail:            csappreciation@aol.com
Date:               8/16/16

Dear Josh :

I have a website, www.charlessiebertappreciation.com . I did my weekly search on anything new on Mr. Siebert and your site came up. Am assuming it has to do with his direction on Hercules and Xena - ?

Dear Lynn:

I have absolutely no idea what you're referring to. I know who he is, but I'm reasonably sure I've never met him.

Josh

Name:             Stan Wrightson
E-mail:           
Date:               8/12/16

Dear Josh :

Do you think horror films need comedic scenes? Brian DePalma and Stuart Gordon have both stated that when making horror films, filmmakers should include comedic scenes. Their rationale is that audiences need something to laugh at, and if there are no funny scenes in horror films then the audience will be laughing during serious and/or scary scenes when they shouldn't be laughing. Both DePalma are Gordon are obviously much more learned and experienced than I am, but I don't agree with this theory. I think horror can be totally serious and still be successful without provoking unintended reactions. What do you think?

Dear Stan:

I think it's an issue of dynamics and suspense; you don't want your story to run in an emotional straight line, you want it to go up and down. A great example of this is "Jaws," which, for all intents and purposes, is a monster movie, albeit with a real, believable monster. Spielberg gets the biggest laughs of his whole career in that film -- "He ate the light" -- because they're in the midst of great tension and suspense. And by making people laugh in a suspense situation, you can then scare them even more when the monster appears. So I don't think it's a necessity to have laughs, I just think it's a good idea.

Josh

Name:             Ryan
E-mail:            ryanp.545@gmail.com
Date:               8/10/16

Dear Josh :

I was recommended Running Time a few months ago by Mr. Tom Sullivan, I just watched it and, Wow was it good. Anyway, is there a release date for the blu ray yet? I can't wait!

Dear Ryan:

I'm glad you liked it. Nope, no date yet. I spoke to kind folks at Synapse recently and asked when the release might be, and was told, "What's your hurry?" Indeed.

Josh

Name:             Ross
E-mail:            Xchetdesmondx@yahoo.com
Date:               8/6/16

Dear Josh :

I have a pretty good idea of some of the filmmakers you admire. I'm wondering who your 10 least favorite directors in the history of cinema are?

Dear Ross:

Considering that I haven't heard of at least 90% of the directors out there, and most folks haven't heard of 99.9% of them, what you're really asking, I presume, is who are my least favorite directors of the most famous directors, and I've made that exceedingly clear, too, over the years. I would much rather discuss what's good as opposed to what's bad.

Josh

Name:             Diana Hawkes
E-mail:            upon request
Date:               8/1/16

Dear Josh :

Here's an odd question- I was watching a spaghetti western marathon this weekend, and something interesting (to me, anyway) was happening throughout The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly. During close-ups of physically dying and suffering men, flies were crawling around their faces. Most notably when Tuco opens the carriage of dead soldiers and is pilfering their bodies, flies are menacing him and Eli Wallach genuinely swats at them. Later flies are crawling near Clint's mouth as he makes his smart remarks recovering at the monastery. The young dying soldier Clint gives a last smoke to - flies. So I have to wonder if this is a "happy accident" or if it's possible the director managed to get flies intentionally in those scenes. I think it contributes to the theme of impending death the film has, really adds to that one-foot-in-the-grave flavor. I know a trick to get dogs to love on characters is to smear liverwurst or something behind the ears of the actor (Charles Siebert did this with Kevin Smith in Xena and you can catch a bit of the food falling as they pan out). Is it possible to apply a little - whatever - to get flies to be reliably on their mark in film close-ups? Are there such experts as "insect wranglers" in the film industry? What a career that would be.

Dear Diana:

One thing flies love is Karo syrup, the stuff you make fake blood out of. But it seems to me that on a hot day in Spain in the 1960s, if you wanted flies all you had to do was kill an animal, any animal, and wait. I saw "A Fistful of Dollars" and "For a Few Dollars More" on the original theatrical release in 1967, in a double-bill. I was eleven. When I emerged I felt that I had just seen two of the greatest movies I'd ever seen in my short life. What's wonderful about "A Fistful of Dollars" is that it's 100 minutes long and actually has a pace. By "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly" it's 161 minutes, and the restored version is 180 minutes! I love the original Italian title, "Il Buono, Il Brutto, Il Cattivo."

Josh

Name:             Tommy
E-mail:           
Date:               8/1/16

Dear Josh :

So...is Spinechillers dead? If so, it was a good run. Yours were easily the best!

Dear Tommy:

There's a ninth episode that is 97% done, but my buddy, Paul, seems to want to fuck around with it forever in post. Chris has a script and is making noise like he wants to shoot another one, but we'll see. As for me, though, I'm done. I'm putting all of my focus and effort into making another feature. My plan is to shoot in fall '17. My script is pretty good, but it can be better and it will be by then. I have a half dozen Spine Chiller scripts, but no interest in making them anymore.

I'm glad someone watched them.

Josh

Name:             Colin
E-mail:            bigirish84@aol.com
Date:               7/28/16

Dear Josh :

Just a comment, dude I love Lunatics: A Love Story..okay here's a question, how crazy was Bruce on set as the mad doctor?!

Dear Colin:

Not at all. Bruce was the producer and took everything that was going on very seriously. He does, however, have the ability to change gears at a moment's notice, and when he played the Mad Doctor he played the hell out of it. His ad lib, "I have the red fluid," is a great line. It's also a lot of fun, I think, to watch Bruce give a performance with just his eyes since his face is covered by the mask. The eyeball through the hole in floor is Bruce and he manages to give a performance with just one eye. I daresay that he could, if necessary, give a performance with just one eyebrow, or his ear.

Josh

Name:             Joe
E-mail:           
Date:               7/21/16

Dear Josh :

Not giving Los Lobos writing credit (therefore no writing payment) for a song they wrote, isn't "the breaks," it's theft. Although this seems way off topic for your site, however, I found it funny you're such a champion of Paul Simon's Graceland album and it's full of theft. All that you bag on QT for, it's ok for Simon.

Dear Joe:

I sincerely don't believe that Paul Simon stole that song from Los Lobos, and I don't think he stole anything from the South African musicians, that's the difference. Having watched his whole process on the show "Classic Albums," what he did was not stealing; it was a unique, fascinating process of collaboration. It's sort of like if you hired a cameraman and walked around Paris for a week shooting anything and everything that looked interesting to you, then took the footage home, watched all of it over and over again, then shot a whole feature film and dropped documentary shots into it all over the place, does the documentary cameraman get a co-writer credit? Or co-director? You're not stealing the footage, you paid for it and it's going into your project. Perhaps this is the core of the issue -- there's a world of difference between inspiration, collaboration and theft. Here, I'll give you two examples: 1. Quentin steals the entire plot, point by point, character by character, from beginning to end, from wherever, a TV show, a Hong Kong movies, what have you; 2. In "If I Had a Hammer" I was inspired by the central concept of "The Magnificent Ambersons" regarding a change in time periods, there's being the 1800s to the 1900s, mine being from the pre-rock and roll era to the rock and roll era. If I didn't tell you that I was directly inspired by "Amerberons" you'd never know. The concept of eras changing isn't a story or characters or any kind of plot; it's a concept. Having a bounty hunter handcuffed to a woman accused of murder, blah, blah, blah, point by point5, is theft. Get it?

Josh

Name:             Joe
E-mail:           
Date:               7/21/16

Dear Josh :

Do you ever get depressed? I'm thinking of your piece about "Other Men's Careers." Seems like you've been close but never won. It would get me down. Again, Josh, it's cool that you take the time to answer some of my more probing (nosey?) questions that aren't of the boring (in my opinion) of "Do you think this movie is good?" Speaking of which, what do you think of Errol Morris' movies?

Dear Joe:

I haven't given up yet. What would really get me down is if the folks around me were making really good stuff and wouldn't let me join in. But all there is these days is crap, and I've made a sufficient amount of that. Other than the money, it doesn't mean anything to me at this point to get in there and make another shitty TV show episode or another horrid, asinine SyFy film. I just want to make the movies i want to make at this point, and when I'm ready -- and I'm getting there -- I'll scratch together enough money to make another feature. I've got a script that I'm almost happy with.

I liked "The Fog of War" because Robert Macnamara is a fascinating character, and the whole subject of LBJ and the Vietnam War is interesting, not because Errol Morris does anything with the form of the documentary that I found interesting. I did not like "The Thin Blue Line" and I abhor recreations in docs.

Josh

Name:             Diana Hawkes
E-mail:            upon request
Date:               7/21/16

Dear Josh :

Oh - and I also thought of you when I stumbled on the HBO miniseries (5 episodes) "Mildred Pierce". I was hoping to talk about it too. I love that old film and I also recall fondly you remarking how much you enjoyed Ann Blyth's over the top delivery of "With this money I can get away from you and your pies and your chickens and everything that smells of grease!!!" So I sat down and watched it, waiting to see how they'd re-do that scene, and was slightly disappointed! Have you seen it? They chose to stay on a close up of Kate Winslet (as Mildred), as Evan Rachael Wood (as Veda) says the line, without punching it quite as much. I wanted that no holds barred melodrama! Also disappointing was that they omitted my 2nd favorite line, perfectly executed by Joan Crawford with that sharp raising of her glass to block his kiss, at the business-like engagement arrangement: "SOLD, one Baragon." Why on earth would they 86 that delicious line?! Anyway - some aspects I liked very much with the production; Evan Rachel Wood as Veda is amazing, as is Guy Pierce as Monty Baragon. Not sure how I feel about Winslet as Mildred. She seemed to be laboring with her American accent attempt. Oddly, they added a character- Lucy as her right-hand-man, which I thought was unnecessary, since the character of Ida in the original was enough, and great to watch with the few scenes she gets. Most of my generation knows Eve Arden as the stiff principal in "Grease", but I'm proud that I know her from her earlier roles when she was a young Amazonian "handsome woman" presence. They made serious changes to the storyline, especially the ending - should I talk about it if you haven't seen it yet? Would love to discuss the comparisons more with you and your peeps here who've seen it.

Dear Diana:

I watched about fifteen minutes of the first episode, then, as I so often do, I bailed. I didn't like the tone, nor Winslet as Mildred. Ultimately, I have a love for that movie that I didn't want to sully. It's director Michael Curtiz at the peak of his power, and I think it's a really snappy, well-performed, well-shot film. Eve Arden has all the funny lines. When she's standing on a stool changing a light bulb (or whatever), the fellow gives her the up-and-down and she quips, "Well, leave me something to wear." It's got a brilliant opening, Joan Crawford is at her best (Oscar-winner), Ann Blyth couldn't be snottier, and it really looks good. The movie is fun and the series didn't look like fun. To me the TV version is yet one more unnecessary remake.

Josh

Name:             Justin Hayward
E-mail:            justinhayw@gmail.com
Date:               7/20/16

Dear Josh :

"why? Because he watched a bunch of shitty movies and TV shows in the 1970s? Who didn't?" Not me. I wasn't born. Is that why I like Quentin T? ;) Cause I do like his movies.

Dear Justin:

Perhaps. You just don't know all of the shit he's blatantly ripping off, not that I saw that episode of "The Rebel" from 1960 (I was two, but they reran all of those shows a lot) that he ripped off the plot for "Hateful 8;" but the guy is a story thief. In his behalf he's never denied it that I've heard, nor made any apology. But to me it just makes him the perfect representative of the time period -- painfully unoriginal. Unlike Quentin and many others folks I know about my age, I'm not the slightest bit nostalgic about my childhood, nor the 1960s and '70s. Yes, music and movies were good then, but I've seen all of those movies and heard all of those songs and I'm just bored with the whole damn thing. It doesn't amuse me to pull out waxworks from then, like Kurt Russell or David Carradine or Pam Grier, nor am I impressed with Tarantino's taste of what he thought was good from back then, nor am I impressed with his dialogue, plotting, camera placement, choice of music, cutting or anything else he does. If he is the foremost filmmaker of the past 20 years, that's just undeniable proof that movies during the last 20 years stink to high heaven. And this utterly mistaken idea that Quentin is somehow an expert in any way, shape or form of film history appalls me. He's seen the shit he's seen, but he doesn't know his movies -- not the big picture by any means -- and had I not met him and talked with him as many times as I did back there in the late 1980s when he used to hang out at that bungalow where I lived in Hollywood, perhaps I could go along with the false mythology of his expertise. he obviously loves movies, I'll give him that, but he has nothing to say, no point, no real point of view, no visual style. And if he didn't keep making worthless movies that people keep taking seriously for lack of anything else to take seriously, I could forget about him entirely. I hope he sticks to his promise and quickly and happily retires.

Josh

Name:             Joe
E-mail:           
Date:               7/20/16

Dear Josh :

Reading your QT stuff with amusement. I walked out of Reservoir Dogs because I was bored. People I told were shocked. I think I liked Jackie Brown but I don't think I finished it because it was sooo long. Saw one part of one on TV where Leonardo Decapro is making mean faces at black people and I couldn't stand three minutes of it. I think I ended up switching the channel to some infomercial about a ladder and I enjoyed that better. Anyways, you talk big about Paul Simon's album Graceland. Ddin't he get in all kind of hot water with stealing from (South?) African musicians re: that album. I know the band Los Lobos say Simon flat out stole from them. Is this any different?

Dear Joe:

"Graceland" is a brilliant album, and was indeed controversial in its day, but that all blew over. During the apartheid era, Paul Simon decided to go to South Africa and work with native musicians to achieve a sound. He hired and paid many South African musicians to come into a studio there and just record anything and everything they could think of or enjoyed playing. After a couple of weeks and thousands of feet of tape, he came back to the the U.S., culled through all of the material, took bits and pieces from here and there, then wrote songs to go around them with lyrics -- and I think this is the genius part -- that have nothing to do with South Africa. He just wanted the sound, he didn't want to do an album that was a tribute to South Africa in any other way except musically. When the album came out to great acclaim, some South Africans -- not the musicians he hired -- complained that Paul Simon had stolen their sound. Well, he didn't steal anything, he paid everybody; they're all his songs, and all of the musicians, particularly the wonderful vocal band, Ladysmith Black Mombazo, all loved him and were more than happy to tour with him. When apartheid fell, Paul Simon was one of the first musicians to play there, at their invitation, and everybody played along with him. Paul Simon making "Graceland" and getting the South African sound out to the world is considered on some minor level to have helped apartheid fall. He is not considered a thief there; he's a hero. And he certainly gave Los Lobos credit on the song they recorded together, just not a writing credit. Well, them's the breaks.

Josh

Name:             Paul
E-mail:           
Date:               7/19/16

Dear Josh :

I am a bit surprised that you even bothered with Hateful 8, as your dislike of Tarantino is well known on the site. Well QT recently announced that he is only going to make 2 more films and then stop. Also since someone mentioned how his films are his own it has been discussed since he came out how many lines, bits of action, even plots are similar to ones found in other films. Since you made a note of "The Revenent" being a remake of "Man in the Wilderness", you might get a kick or not of this expose of H8 and its plot similarity with an episode (Fair Game) of a 1950s western series "The Rebel". http://www.cowboysindians.com/2015/08/quentin-tarantino-rebel-moviemaker/

Dear Paul:

I enjoyed the let's-make-excuses-for-Tarantino's-thievery section -- "Maybe he didn't know he was stealing" -- where the writer spends seven paragraphs accusing him of plagarism, in detail, then say's not accusing him of plagarism. I do think it's possible to steal a tune and not know that you've stolen it, but not an entire story: it's too complicated and there are too many set-ups and pay-offs (the ones I missed by not seeing acts two and three). Ultimately, it means nothing to me that Quentin's a story thief and always has been, it's that he's taken so seriously, entirely let off the hook for his sticky fingers, and constantly being given credit as some sort of film expert -- why? Because he watched a bunch of shitty movies and TV shows in the 1970s? Who didn't?

Josh

Name:             Justin Hayward
E-mail:            justinhayw@gmail.com
Date:               7/17/16

Dear Josh :

I think we touched on this a bit, but since we're talking specifically act 1, can you list some specific characteristics of a stellar act 1 and some specific characteristics of an act 1 you'll turn off before act 2? Thanks

Dear Justin:

That immediately put me in mind of Zhang Yimou's film, "To Live" (1994). This rich young man in China is gambling away all of his family's fortune. It's become a scandal. His wife shows up with his baby as the gambling house, and losing face in front of everyone, begs him to stop. He has her thrown out of the casino and proceeds to lose not only the family fortune, but the ancestral home, too. As the whole family now stands in rags and watches the new tenant take their home, the Communists take over the country and promptly shoot all of the rich people, including the new tenant, but the young man and his family are safe because they're now poor . . . It's a wonderful family saga that takes place over the next 30 years of Chinese history. And it has a clever, ironic act one. Act one is where you take your gauntlet, your glove, and throw it down. The little boy walks out on the stage with a sign that says, "Hamlet is the story of a man who could not make up his mind." OK, that's what it is. What's your story? What story do you intend to tell me over the course of the next two acts? "Lawrence of Arabia" has a great act one, and in many ways is my favorite part of the movie. It begins with the beautiful front title scene, from overhead, of him cleaning his motorcycle, then taking a ride and getting killed. At his funeral his former commanding officer says to a reporter, "Know him? It seems to me that he had some minor post on my staff in Cairo." We cut to Lawrence in a basement room painting in the blue of the water on a map. Anyway, he gets the assignment to find King Faisal somewhere in the vast Arabian desert and "appreciate the situation" for the Arab Bureau. And off he goes. For the next half an hour we're in the desert searching for Faisal in what may the best use of 70mm ever. We're on a quest to get to where the action will occur. By the end of act one, when Faisal says, "What we need is a miracle," and Lawrence figures out, "Aqaba from behind," you are incredibly well set-up for the rest of the movie. That's a good act one.

Josh

Name:             Jeff Burr
E-mail:            JeffCBurr@AOL.com
Date:               7/14/16

Dear Josh :

Hope you are well and things on your new indie movie are moving ahead full steam. Just saw your posting on HATEFUL 8. I got news for you, you didnt SEE Hateful 8. Seeing 35 minutes of a roughly three hour film means nothing. There could be setups both story-wise and stylistically that are ingeniously paid off by the end of the movie. There could be performances by actors that appear two hours in and blow you away, there could be...(you get my point) Now, I am not saying that anything like this happened in HATEFUL 8 (nor am I saying it didnt happen). I just want to make the point that watching the first 35 minutes of a film and bailing and then writing negative things as if you know the whole movie is something an asshole studio junior executive would do, not a committed filmmaker. I acknowledge that you stated you only watched the first 35 minutes and all your comments were about what you saw in that time frame and not the whole movie, but what is the point in doing that? Watch the whole film and then write whatever you want to write. It's like looking at one corner of a painting through your fingers and pronouncing the whole thing worthless. It is the totality of the whole that makes an impact in cinema. The little moments that add up through the course of the film to something greater than the sum of its parts. OK, now I have that off my chest, I actually do have a question. Can you think of another filmmaker of Quentin Tarantino's stature that has kept a steady path ONLY doing his own stuff? That is what I totally respect about him...like his movies, hate his movies, he has never made a film (written yes, but not directed) that wasnt his own. And I consider JACKIE BROWN his own, even if Elmore got the ball rolling by writing RUM PUNCH. The only other people that immediately come to mind are Woody Allen and John Cassavettes.

Dear Jeff:

Of course you're right, one should see the whole thing first before commenting, but since I bail out on 2-5 movies a week -- I record anything that seems like it might be of interest; and I make it through 2-3 movies a week -- I feel that I'm an expert on judging films from just seeing the beginnings. Act one is utterly crucial. You can fake your way through acts two and three, one way or another, but not act one. I'm going to put my foot down and make a flat statement -- if your act one sucks; acts two and three are going to suck, too. Tantalize me if you will with these possible great pay-offs lurking in the unseen sections of "Hateful 8," but I kinda fuckin' doubt it. And if I'm wrong, then I guess I will have just missed some great Tarantino moments. And I could hold my fingers 97% over my eyes and still hate a Jackson Pollack painting.

As for good old QT, yes, his shit's his own. So what? Just because he has a voice, if not an eye, doesn't mean he's worth listening to.

Josh

Name:             Joey
E-mail:           
Date:               7/8/16

Dear Josh :

I've been WAITING for you to finally watch Hateful Eight and I am really bummed you only watched 35 minutes. I was really really hoping you'd stick it out (for the entire 3 hours!!!) just so you could write an amazing takedown essay on how MONUMENTALLY stupid. I mean, say what you want about Tarantino's other films (in my opinion, the first three were great, but the rest were train wrecks), but none, not even the mega-bloated and remarkably stupid Kill Bill saga, even comes CLOSE to being as bad as The Hateful Eight, which really should go down in history as being a SPECIAL kind of shitty. The dude knows how to string together a sentence, knows how to frame a shot, knows how to hire good actors, the best composer, best cinematographer, etc. And yet even with all of that, and a budget to make any movie he wanted, he made a HISTORICALLY bad movie, a Razzie-level monstrosity. I'm telling you...the first 35 minutes were THE BEST PART if you can believe it. You have to see the whole thing to believe it, Josh. Please, please, please, reconsider, watch the whole thing, and write one of your old-fashioned scathing essays. I promise to do my part and link your essay all over the fucking internet just so people can see how retardedly fucking braindead they are for championing QT's Burger King level cinematic cuisine. -Joey-

Dear Joey:

Dude, you couldn't get me to watch the rest of that piece of shit with a gun against my head.

Josh

Name:             Justin Hayward
E-mail:            justinhayw@gmail.com
Date:               7/8/16

Dear Josh :

Is there an official cinematographer rule book that says if you don’t shoot 70mm film with X Y and Z, you’ve wasted the format? Because the way you talk, it sounds like that rule book exists. You seem to think there’s one way to make a movie and I don’t, but you’ll state this pure opinion as hard line-in-the-sand fact. I could argue with you ten ways to Sunday why I liked The Hateful Eight. I could bring my projector to your house and give a 2 hour lecture on why I liked the photography, but I won’t because you treat movies like they’re math problems. It’s either 2+2=4 or it’s crap. It’s like telling me my favorite color is a horrible color, or sunny is right and overcast is wrong. It’s not. Sometimes overcast is nice. People have honest emotional reactions to certain movies regardless if YOU like the movie or not. Yes, I thought The Hateful Eight was hysterical. Since Josh Becker declared from on high that the movie is garbage, does that mean I didn’t laugh? Because it wasn't shot according to your specs, was it not pleasing to my eyes? I couldn’t have laughed because according to you its a fact that the movie is not funny and I couldn't have enjoyed the look because its not shot on 70mm according to the Josh Becker rule book. If I did laugh and I did like the look it’s because I’m a moron with horrible taste that is too stupid to know 2+2=4 and now you’ve insulted me personally. See how that works?

Dear Justin:

Pardon me if I offended you. So I can't say that any movie is shit because there might be someone out there somewhere who might like it and have an emotional attachment to it? All standards are gone? Painting of kids with big eyes are every bit as good as Rembrandt because everything is equally as good? The definition of taste is the preference of one thing over another, and the ability to differentiate between good and bad. Without a sense of taste, art is dead, just like it presently is. And Quentin Tarantino is the perfect representation of a complete lack of taste. If all of your inspiration comes from shit, as it does with Quentin, you'll undoubtedly make shit.

Josh

Name:             Justin Hayward
E-mail:            justinhayw@gmail.com
Date:               7/8/16

Dear Josh :

Gotta jump in on this one... "Once they've seen a film it becomes a part of them and if you don't like it, you're ostensibly saying you don't like them." No, no, no... When you say you're not a fan of someone's favorite movie, you're speaking to your taste. When you say someone's favorite movie is horse shit, you're speaking to their taste, and you're calling their taste horse shit, which is very different than saying you personally don't share their taste. That's why people are so defensive of your "opinion".

Dear Justin:

What you're referring to is called "Political Correctness," which i find particularly offensive. It's not what you said, it's how you said it. What you're saying is that I should always begin my opinions with, "I think . . ." as opposed to being definitive. I could always end my opinions with, ". . . but I could be wrong." But since there are no rights or wrongs on opinions, why bother? It's prevaricating. "The Revenant" is a long, boring, poorly-written movie. In shorthand it's a piece of shit (with a good bear attack). If you liked "The Revenant" I suppose you could take my statement and be offended -- "But I liked it" -- and if you did it's strictly because of your insecurity at being unable to defend your position -- "I don't know why I liked it, I just liked it." Well, that's your problem, not mine. I'll be happy to tell you why I didn't like it. And for many years movies, like books and plays and music, were discussed with vim and vigor, and things were declared brilliant and garbage all the time. Now a comedian can't tell a dirty joke on a college campus without being termed a racist or a homophobe. I watched the first 35 minutes of "The Hateful Eight" and it is complete, unadulterated shit, and the single biggest waste of Super Panavision 70 ever. Your defense for liking it was, "I saw it in the theater" and "I thought some of the dialogue was funny." Other than saying the word nigger twenty-five times or hitting Jennifer Jason Leigh in the mouth with a pistol two or three times, please name or indicate something funny. You can't because it's not there. Thirty-five minutes of weak dialogue in a stagecoach. Christ, I was ready to scream. But the problem is, liking shit puts one into an indefensible position, and that's what people don't like -- having to defend an indefensible position.

Josh

Name:             Bob
E-mail:           
Date:               7/7/16

Dear Josh :

What is your take on director's commentaries on DVDs? It seems that with the decline of the DVD medium, the commentaries seem to be disappearing from the DVDs that are still being manufactured. I found that the commentaries range from the very good and insightful, discussing specific matters about the scene the viewer is watching, to the ridiculous, discussing personal matters totally unrelated to the movie. And good commentaries don't have to be limited to directors or to motion pictures. On the DVDs for the Combat series, Conlon Carter raised a lot interesting insights, such as how Thousand Oaks where many of the episodes were filmed, was mostly pastureland at the time, and how is suburban sprawl, and about the change over to color for the final season not really being a matter of choice for the 66-67 season. What do you think of DVD commentaries?

Dear Bob:

I don't generally listen to commentary tracks. I enjoyed doing the three that I've done, all with Bruce -- TSNKE, "Running Time" and "Alien Apocalypse" -- and folks have told me over the years that they're good commentaries. But I'd have to really, really like a movie to want to hear about the misery they went through making it. I did just watch all the extras and stuff on the DVD of "Sunset Blvd."

Josh

Name:             Stan Wrightson
E-mail:           
Date:               7/6/16

Dear Josh :

Can we expect any new essays soon? I often wish you would write an essay on opinions - specifically, how people have become dogmatic and tyrannical with their opinions. Not just with issues like politics, etc.; but with movies too. So often when I'm online I'll see comments that essentially say: "I did/did not like this movie and this is not only my opinion it is fact and if you don't agree with me then you're an asshole and you should die." Of course I've noticed that through the years, idiots have come to this website and taken personal shots at you simply because you don't like the films that they like. I would certainly agree that passion for cinema is a good thing, but the extremes some people take it to...I think it's fucking crazy.

Dear Stan:

I've been putting up with this nonsense my whole life. What folks seem to find particularly annoying about me not liking a film is that I always have reasons why I didn't like it, then they have to go into a song and dance about why my reasons don't matter. Of course, they're only defense is, "I liked it," which is bullshit. It is interesting how personally people take movies. Once they've seen a film it becomes a part of them and if you don't like it, you're ostensibly saying you don't like them. People grew so hostile over the years defending bad new movies -- that were just getting worse and worse -- that I stopped seeing new movies. Six months after a film comes out people are a lot cooler about it, but when they're new films are either brilliant and sacrosanct, or complete shit to be ridiculed, depending on what everyone else is saying. Harlan Ellison overstated it (as he will) in the film "Dreams With Sharp Teeth," when he said something along the lines of, "Everyone says, 'I'm allowed to have my opinion.' No you're not. You're allowed to have your informed opinion; nobody's interested in your uninformed opinion."

Josh

Name:             Brian
E-mail:            mackbryan1986@gmail.com
Date:               7/5/16

Dear Josh :

Can you recommend a few Cassavetes films for someone unfamilar with his work?

Dear Bryan:

Sure, but all of Cassavetes' difficult. Do not start with "Shadows," his first indie hit, which I found to be an extremely dull, sloppily made film (which he admitted). He didn't make another indie feature for eight years until "Faces," and that's a really interesting film. Black and white 35mm with five people in the cast, including his wife, Gena Rowlands, and mostly shot in their house. The first film of his that really got me, and may well be his best, is "A Woman Under the Influence," which has a couple of the most excruciating scenes ever put in a movie. I also appreciated "Opening Night" (in which I'm an extra) and "Minnie and Moskowitz," but once again, be warned, they're all hard to sit through.

Josh

Name:             Angel
E-mail:           
Date:               6/28/16

Dear Josh :

The library of congress sought help in identifying the following stills. Curious to see how many you could identify. http://m.imgur.com/a/Mwf83

Dear Angel:

I don't recognize any of them.

Josh

Name:             Rick's Sister
E-mail:            debryan50@verizon.net
Date:               6/20/16

Dear Josh :

Thank you for memorializing Rick and Stevie in your book ~ I love it.

Dear Ricks Sister (Deb):

Rick Sandford is a major character in my book "Going Hollywood," and I hope I captured the essence of him. He was an important influence on me. He's been dead 21 years now. We met on the set of John Cassavetes' film, "Opening Night" in 1977.

Cheers to Rick!

Josh

Name:             Andrew
E-mail:           
Date:               6/19/16

Dear Josh :

Are you still friends with David Goodman? Also what do you think about the controversy over the upcoming Ghostbusters remake?

Dear Andrew:

I haven't seen David in years. What controversy? That it looks like shit? Who'd have ever suspected otherwise? It couldn't be anything but shit at this late date.

Josh

Name:             Robert J.
E-mail:           
Date:               6/14/16

Dear Josh :

Do you subscribe to the theory of the 7 story archetypes? Would all stories really fit into one of these?

Dear Robert:

Here they are:

Overcoming the Monster.
Rags to Riches.
The Quest.
Voyage and Return.
Comedy.
Tragedy.
Rebirth.

This list I've found bafflingly has periods. Hey! Anything that helps. I do try to keep in mind as I'm writing my comedy script, "This is a comedy, try and be funny." If it's a tragedy one might want to keep that in mind. And the rest is the hero's journey. I don't see stories this way. I see a guy and some shit's happening to him. Now what's he going to do?

Josh

Name:             Justin Hayward
E-mail:            justinhayw@gmail.com
Date:               6/13/16

Dear Josh :

"just because you are going somewhere doesn't mean that I want to go with you."

But that's subjective, right? Not a sign of amateur writing...

Dear Justin:

I don't know that amateur/professional are the differentiation. I suppose it's more of a gut sense as to whether or not you're telling a story that's worth telling; a story that has a point.

Josh

Name:             James
E-mail:            russianattack1@yahoo.com
Date:               6/9/16

Dear Josh :

What do you think is an appropriate reason to be a filmmaker? As in, are there better reasons than others to be a filmmaker as far as a career? I ask because, when I was younger, I thought that I would go into filmmaking because I could make change in the world, or give viewers greater insight in some way or another. I have come to the conclusion that this kind of impact is highly unlikely, regardless of how well I could present it or how successfully it would be received by audiences. With that aside, I suppose entertaining others in an intelligent way, while getting my artistic ideas out, is a valid goal. I guess my overall question is, what's the point? Perhaps it is cynicism, but I just no longer believe that films of any kind have much of a lasting impact. People are going to do stupid shit, more and more stupid shit the more there are of us, and then it will end. Is that depressing or just realistic?

Dear James:

Ah, what's the point? The eternal question. Why do anything? Sooner or later it will all come to dust. Why bother? Because, what else is there to do? If we don't invest what we do with some meaning then it has no meaning; then nothing has meaning. And the only thing that has meaning is what you decide is meaningful. I think making a good movie is a valid thing to do, so I'll keep trying.

Josh

Name:             Justin Hayward
E-mail:            justinhayw@gmail.com
Date:               6/9/16

Dear Josh :

As you know, I'm a director with a background in cinematography, so I probably pay a little closer attention to camera work than most. A question amateur filmmakers often ask is how they can achieve a "film" look. What they're actually asking is how can they make something look professional. Lately I've noticed the first thing that gives away an amateur production is bad compositions. I'm not talking about artful, unbalanced, compositions. Just off-putting ones on something where the camera should likely be more subdued like an independent, talky, dramedy or something like that. It's usually a collection of misplaced pictures or lamps that are too close to the character's head or too bright or too dark for the scene. Sometimes it looks like they didn't properly level the camera (even if they did). Stuff like that. As a writer, what is the first thing you spot in watching a movie that gives away an amateur screenplay? And I’m talking about watching the finished movie, not reading a screenplay with a bunch of bad grammar (like this question :) Thanks.

Dear Justin:

Yes, does it know where it's going? Is it presenting me with a story, meaning it's going somewhere. But just because you are going somewhere doesn't mean that I want to go with you. What story are you telling me? Is it a story worth telling? Or is it, oh, this one again? I have over 100 movies on my DVR of which I've watched 15 minutes and I'm just too lazy to delete, but I'll never watch a minute more. Most movies have a dreary premise, if they have one.

Josh

Name:             Don Jon
E-mail:           
Date:               6/7/16

Dear Josh :

Holy shit. In picking his "top 10 movies of the last decade," that Nikolay guy literally proved your point. Shaun of the Dead? Reign Over Me? The Guest???? Is this guy high? The Guest wasn't even a top 10 great movie that came out that weekend. Hey, here's my top 10 movies of the last decade that prove that cinema is still alive and vibrant: 1. Transformers 2. Transformers 2 3. Transformers 3 4. Transformers 4 5. Transformers 5 6. Spider-Man 7. Spider-Man 2 8. Spider-Man 2 (the second one) 9. Avengers Fight Each Other (because Spider-Man shows up) 10. Spotlight (because I'm sooooo high-brow and intellectual) What an embarrassment. I miss the old Josh that would have told Nikolay to fuck off.

Dear Don:

I have no reason to tell Nikolay to fuck off. He's a nice guy and I asked a question which he answered. At least he gave it an honest try, not that I'd have gone to the trouble. I watched "The Revenant" and, other than the bear attacks, it's a nothing, and not nearly as good as "Man in the Wilderness," that's 50 minutes shorter and just more interesting and not a revenge plot, which makes it kind of special. "Spotlight" is anything but high brow and intellectual -- it's a run-of-the-mill investigative reporter story we've seen a million times, and not in the same league as "All the President's Men." Perhaps I am an old fart, but they don't make very good movies anymore.

Josh

Name:             Chris
E-mail:           
Date:               6/7/16

Dear Josh :

I had the chance to meet Ted Raimi the other day at NZs equivalent to Comic Con in Wellington. I gave him my VHS copy of "Lunatics" to sign and he was pretty surprised and thrilled. He told me to write to you and let you know that I want a Lunatics sequel and that by doing so I might help make it happen. So yes, I want that movie! Another movie about Hank and his struggles would be fantastic and you directing another feature and Ted having another lead role would obviously be awesome. Is this something you've really thought about? Chris

Dear Chris:

I don't want to make "Lunatics 2." I don't like sequels. I'd rather make the script I've just written (and am rewriting), "Who Needs Rhetorical Questions?" I want to make a new movie, not an old one. But I'm glad you liked it and got to meet Ted.

Josh

Name:             Keith
E-mail:            alwayslikethis882@gmail.com
Date:               6/6/16

Hi Josh :

You have stated in this Q&A that you do not watch televisions shows. Do you consider feature-length movies to be a superior medium to episodic TV programs? I do. I find that most shows, even critically acclaimed and story arc-driven ones such as “Mad Men” tend to tell their stories in a meandering way. That bores me. In a good movie, on the other hand, every scene matters and adds to the overall story being told.

Dear Keith:

The point of a series is familiarity -- that each episode is very much like all the others, and it spares you the effort of getting to know new people. It's the pablum of entertainment; nothing difficult to chew. I'm most of the way through "The Revenant," which looks good and has those great bear attacks, but not much else. Leo certainly groans a lot, but I'd say Eddie Redmayne was better in "The Danish Girl."

Josh

Name:             Nikolay Yeriomin
E-mail:            nikolayyeriomin@gmail.com
Date:               6/5/16

Dear Josh :

Loved previous q&a's with Keith and Tim because it is quite an interesting "food for thoughts". If it is okay, I have a few comments and questions regarding what they were writing, so this message may be a little bit long (I hope that it may be separated if that will be more comfortable for you and/or webmasters). Firstly, regarding Alfred Hitchcock (by the way, my all-time favorite director) - it should be noted that "Hitchock/Truffault", even though it is one of the greatest books on Hitchcock and movie-making in general is quite flawed by one thing in nearly any translation, that thing being the fact that all of the Hitchcock statements were translated in French and then book was again translated in English from that translation, so at times what Hitchcock actually said was somewhat paraphrased and may have affected the sense of a few statements. Secondly, a little thought on Hitchcock's movies - last summer I've discovered that I've actually haven't seen that much of his directorial works, mainly because in cases of one of the favorite directors dying or working rarely I usually postpone some movies in advance, just to have a few if I'll have some specific mood. In case of Hitchcock, though, I understood it was quite pointless, because if counting his TV episodes and some other things he has quite a big filmography. So, I've started a tradition of sorts that I hope to continue this year - to pick five Hitchcock directorial works (from each decade of his career excluding the 70's of which I've seen everything) mostly at random and watch them on and around his birthday. What I've picked in 2015 were "The Pleasure Garden", "Jamaica Inn", "Spellbound", "The Trouble with Harry" and an episode of "Startime" named "Incident at a Corner". I can highly recommend each one of them (though "Spellbound" is probably the better one of them), but "Incident at a Corner" is especially recommended because it is mostly overlooked and forgotten, despite this little gem is actually pretty impressive. Thirdly, while I can understand your and Tim's concern of culture being "rotted", I have some optimism for it and I just believe that we're living in a period of quite a big shift and it's hard to judge the society which is in a constant stress and undergoes a process of certain social and cultural mutations. I'm quite concerned about culture as well because, well - mainstream culture seems less and less appealing to me. Especially since younger people (of which I am, to some unfortunate extent) seem less and less tolerant to more individual and "unconventional" tastes and will try to force you to watch what they like, massively overreacting if you dislike their choice, forgetting that anyone has right to choose what he or she wants to watch. I'm quite tired of people shaming me for my dislike of "Game of Thrones" and "The Walking Dead" - while both series are very popular and acclaimed I just can't find anything of strong interest in both of them (not to mention that people fail to notice how much "Game of Thrones" is derivative to works of William Shakespeare) so I don't have a point to watch them. But I hope that such "Age of Overreacting" will eventually pass and we'll have some kind of renaissance. I don't lose that hope because, well, even my dorm roommate (19 years old), who has considerable difficulties to even perceive movies older then 1990 (it seems a common problem for many people of age 16-25, which puzzles me because I'm of the same age gap and yet I can easily watch anything regardless of time period) loved "Lawrence of Arabia" and is amazed by Buster Keaton stunts (despite him being a parkour practitioner he just can't understand how some of them were executed) and another one of the same age is reading a lot and tries quite thoughtfully to compare and balance mainstream, independent and classic art. One of my best friends who is essentially of my age disliked "The Hateful Eight", by the way and while I was okay with that movie I can totally see why and approve both his and yours concerns about it. Fourthly as you've asked for someone to pick ten greatest movies and albums of the past ten years (that should be the period of 2004-2016, I guess?) I might as well try to name at least movies. But I should warn you that I'm casually watching some movies two or three years after the initial release, so I'm quite surely missed at least a few great titles. I'm also subjective, of course and will try to balance those movies which both I've found great and at least some significant amount of people enjoyed a lot as well, trying hard to limit it for one-two movies per year.

My picks are (in chronological order):

1."Shaun of the Dead" (2004) Dir. Edgar Wright (UK);

2."Takeshis'" (2005) Dir. Takeshi Kitano (Japan);

3."A Scanner Darkly" (2006) Dir. Richard Linklater (USA);

4."Reign Over Me" (2007) Dir. Mike Binder (USA);

5."Serce na dloni" (2008) (known in US as "And a Warm Heart" though the translation is "Heart in the Hand") Dir. Krzysztof Zanussi (Poland);

6."Drive" (2011) Dir. Nicolas Winding Refn (USA);

7."FireCrosser" (ToyKhtoProyshovKrizVohon) (2011) Dir. Mykhailo Illienko (Ukraine);

8."L'écume des jours" (2013) (known in US as "Mood Indigo", though the translation is "The Foam of Days") Dir. Michel Gondry (France);

9."The Guest" (2014) Dir. Adam Wingard (USA);

10."Mad Max: Fury Road" (2014) Dir. George Miller, (Australia and USA).

The problem is - great rarely equals life-changing personal favorites - if you'd asked to put a list of ten personal favorites a fewer of those will move from one list to another.

Yours sincerely,Nikolay Yeriomin.

Dear Nikolay:

It's good your hopeful; the young ought to be hopeful. I've only seen four of the films on your list, but the word great would not come to my mind regarding any of them. OK would be more like it.

Josh

Name:             David R.
E-mail:           
Date:               6/5/16

Dear Josh :

Since you liked "Amy" so much, you should check out an earlier documentary by Asif Kapadia called "Senna", about the Formula One race-car driver. Very good.

Dear David:

I'll keeps my eyes open for it. Thanks.

Josh

Name:             Tim
E-mail:            timm@indra.com
Date:               6/4/16

Dear Josh :

One last question for now, and sorry if I'm hijacking your Q and A. I enjoyed very much your recommendation, the United States of Amnesia, as well as the other recommendation you made for Louis Malle's Phantom India. What are some of the other documentary films that you have loved?

Dear Tim:

"Amy" is a really good documentary, check it out. One that comes back to mind through the mists of age, that I only saw once, 30 years ago, was "Black and White in Color," which won the Oscar that year. People died making it. "When We Were Kings" about the late, great Muhammed Ali's fight with George Foreman. Almost any of Barbra Kopple's films, like "Wild Man Blues" or the one on "Woodstock." "Monster Road," "Crumb," "Let's Get Lost," about Chet Baker, by Bruce Weber, and I want to see that again. I just watched "Directed by William Wyler" for the 20th time -- I've had two VHS copies, and now a DVD -- and I nominate it for the best episode ever of "American Masters." They interviewed Wyler 3 days before he died, and he's spunky and grinning. Uh . . . "Woodstock" itself. I just watched the "Isle of Wight" documentary and that was a miserable concert, with a great line-up.

Josh

Name:             Tim
E-mail:            timm@indra.com
Date:               6/4/16

Dear Josh :

Your last post about the decline of film really hit home. A topic I occasionally talk about with my friends who are more or less the same age as you and me (50s or so), is: Has the entire culture fundamentally rotted? On the one hand, it seems like that's what every old fart wants to believe and repeats. On the other hand, it seems objectively true. Even from a technical point of view. something like a David Lean movie seems light years away intern from anything being produced today. There are the technical elements, but there's also a sensibility – – the sophistication that seems to have completely vanished. Not to mention that few of the people I know read with any kind of hunger or consistency in the way that my parents' generation did. It feels a bit as if it's 400 A.D. and a few of us have some mosaics to reminders of what civilization is really about. Do you think it's just crankiness ? Or a fundamental shift in our society?

Dear Tim:

Yes, I believe that our society has fundamentally rotted. It's not that "Lawrence of Arabia" is out of style; it's that nobody could make it or understand it anymore. I have been decrying this for most of my life -- movies keep getting duller and stupider year after year. And art is the early-warning system of a society. And it's not just movies, it's all the arts. Please listen to the Pulitzer prize winning music for last year, "In For a Penny" by Henry Threadgill, to check if I'm overstating things. But if that's the best music, and "Spotlight" is the best movie, we're doomed. "Spotlight" isn't good enough to be an HBO movie. It's perfectly OK, unlike Mr. Threadgill's music, which is literally nothing more than an orchestra warming up. Just look at our politics. We have become a very stupid, unsophisticated society. And once everybody saw that they too could be constantly connected to the global matrix, unlike science fiction that predicted we'd have chips put in our heads, we all happily carry it around with us, and set it on the table in front of us in case we go anywhere. And now technology isn't even all that interesting. Yeah, I can get a 4k camera, but I can't show it on my TV. Yeah, I can get an iPhone 8, or Windows 10, but none of them are an improvement on the previous model. OK, we're all connected, now what? Yeah, I can get "The Hateful Eight" on my phone right now, but that doesn't make it any less of a piece of shit. If I'm just being a curmudgeonly old fart, somebody please name the ten greatest films (or songs or albums) of the past ten years. The last article I read said that all the movies are bombing right now. Nobody even like the big dumb superhero movies anymore. Seven-year-olds have had enough.

When a buffoon like Donald Trump has a serious chance at becoming president, we're doomed. The next step is "Idiocracy", then we can all wait for the great garbage avalanche of 2055.

Josh

Name:             Tim
E-mail:            timm@indra.com
Date:               6/3/16

Hello Josh :

So what's the deal with Vertigo? Iris recently saw some top 10 lists for critics and directors and vertigo is either contesting first place or in first place of their top 10 lists. I love Hitchcock and I revere Orson Welles. But even among Hitchcock's own films, Vertigo would be a few notches down the list. (For example, what about "Shadow of a Doubt" or "Notorious" or even "Psycho"? I like the film, but I don't fundementally understand the reverence for it. What do you think?

Dear Tim:

Yes, what is the deal with "Vertigo"? I wouldn't even put it on my top-ten of Hitchcock films. Let's discuss its merits: it looks great and has one of Bernard Herrmann's best scores (which I listen to frequently), and Kim Novak is at her most attractive, icy prime, and it has a terrific opening, and finale. But it's all that stuff in between that bugs me. It feels like it has more arrivals and departures then I feel like I've ever seen in anything. Jimmy Stewart slowly pulls up at some cool, San Francisco location, gets out of the car, goes to the door, knocks, waits for the door to be answered, has some dialogue, then gets back in his car and drives away. At a point my friend turned to me and asked, "Why doesn't she just tell him she's the same girl?"

From that mid- to late-1950s period I'll take "North by Northwest" and "Rear Window."

Josh

Name:             Keith
E-mail:            alwayslikethis882@gmail.com
Date:               6/2/16

Hi Josh :

I found something online that I think you would enjoy. As I am sure that you are aware, the famous film history book "Hitchcock/Truffaut" was based on a 1962 interview for French radio. That 25-part radio series is now available for free (and legally) on several websites. I found it at: http://www.slashfilm.com/listen-12-hours-franois-truffaut-interviewing-alfred-hitchcock/ Since Truffaut didn’t speak much English and Hitchcock knew very little French, a New Yorker named Helen Scott acted as translator. I found the series very interesting to listen to, in part because Hitch had such an iconic speaking voice.

Dear Keith:

I've read the book twice over the years and enjoyed it both times. I suppose I could listen to the twelve hours of the interview, too, but I feel unmoved to do so. In the course of my life I think I've read every book written about Alfred Hitchcock, and I've seen damn near all of his movies (there are still a few silents I haven't seen), and I think I get him pretty well. I was just trying to rewatch "Strangers On a Train," a movie I've never really liked, and I still don't. I don't give a crap about either of the lead characters. I know if I stick with it long enough there's some nice filmmaking ahead, but I'm not sure it's worth it. My question is: did filmmaking hit some kind of pinnacle with Hitchcock? And Ford and Wyler and those guys? Or did it hit its peak with Coppola and Scorsese in the 1970s? But it hit its peak somewhere in the past and now we're just watching it slide down the hill. I just started writing an essay entitled, "Movies Are Shit," which I'm somewhat uninspired to finish. But I felt that after putting in a mighty effort and seeing about 25 of the 2015 movies I ought to comment. Movies stink. There aren't any great filmmakers out there, and that includes the aged Martin Scorsese and Francis Coppola. Hitchcock could make a brilliant scene out of a guy just standing on an empty road waiting for who knows what? Now all we've got is an embarrassment like Quentin Tarantino who, in the greatest waste of Ultra Panavision 70 ever, only knows how to repeat the word nigger over and over again while senselessly smacking a woman in the face with a gun butt every few minutes. Anyway, thanks for the link.

Josh

Name:             Russ
E-mail:           
Date:               5/16/16

Dear Josh :

I've often read reviewers say that the script was rubbish but the actor/actress made the drivel watchable with their talent. I realize there are fine actors out there and some not so fine but is that possible? As a writer your thoughts? How about as a director? Can a director make a script better than it is?

Dear Russ:

I'd like to believe that I made the Xena episodes I directed better than they were. I added jokes and songs, and anything else I thought was amusing or funny. A director brings their sensibility to the show. And it's always great having an actor give a terrific performance. But no matter what you're stuck with the script, and if it stinks than you can probably bet the movie or show will stink, too. As they've been saying forever, "If it ain't on the page it ain't on the stage."

Josh

Name:             Justin Hayward
E-mail:            justinhayw@gmail.com
Date:               5/10/16

Hey Josh :

Lately I've been working on a script I'm really enjoying and when people ask me if I'm working on another movie, I feel like I am, even though it's only the script and not the production. It occurred to me that even though I'm not a writer, I still get tremendous pleasure from writing a movie. I get about the same pleasure from writing a movie as I do from shooting one, or editing, or even sound mixing. All of it feels like "making movies" to me and making movies is what I enjoy. You're an actual writer, so I'm probably asking a rhetorical question, but do you get the same thrill from writing as you do from everything else involved with making a movie? Thanks

Dear Justin:

I'm glad you brought this up. I love writing. I write every day, and I think of it like weightlifting: the more you do it the more comfortable it gets, although it never gets easy. I do think there is a whole school of thought regarding your comment, "it's only the script," where writing the script is the incidental part of filmmaking. It's not incidental, it's the most important part of the process. Without a good script nothing you can do afterward will fix it, no matter how good your lighting, your shot selection, your casting or anything else. But, as I mentioned, it never gets an easier writing a good script. Because I write so much I don't have any problem sitting down and knocking out a 120 page script, but that doesn't mean it will be good. As Irving Thalberg, former head of production at MGM, said long ago, "The most important decision you'll make is your first one -- what story am I telling."

Josh

Name:             Dave G.
E-mail:           
Date:               5/7/16

Dear Josh :

Can't find the Film Threat article you wrote on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Do you have a link to it?

Dear Dave:

It got taken down, but will now go back up. Here's the link.

Josh


TO Q&A Archives Page




Click Here To Submit Your Questions or Comments



BECKERFILMS SITE MENU

[ Main ]  [ Film & TV Work ]  [ Screenplays ]  [ Old Stuff ]
[
Reviews ]  [ Articles, Essays & Stories ]  [ Ask the Director ] 
[
Favorite Films ]  [ Scrapbook ]  [ Links (& Afterword) ]  [ Web Team ]