Q & A    Archive
Page 107

Name: DS
E-mail:

Hey Josh,

I wanted to second Cynthia's opinion on "Willard," starring the talented Crispin Glover. I thought it was a positively wonderful film. However, I don't think you would like it...I can see you having all sorts of problems with it. Though, besides Glover's performance, one other thing you would probably enjoy about it is the thematic, heavily Herrmann-esque orchestral score by composer Shirley Walker.

And I was wondering if you've ever made a list of the top ten films closest to your heart? I know your all-time favorite film is "Magnificent Ambersons," and maybe followed by "Best Years of Our Lives?" I'm curious. Anyway, take care.

Dear DS:

I won't stick to this under duress, but . . .

1. The Magnificent Ambersons
2. Lawrence of Arabia
3. The Bridge on the River Kwai
4. The Best Years of Our Lives
5. Marty
6. Citizen Kane
7. The Godfathers I & II
8. Play it Again, Sam
9. Casablanca
10. From Here to Eternity

Josh

Name: Bird Jenkins
E-mail: bird@jjandbird.com

Howdy, Josh.

The state of decline that American cinema is presently in should not be blamed on children, women, Quentin Tarantino, MTV, or "kids today". The reason why Hollywood is a dung factory right now has more to do with the actors, or specifically, the movie stars.

I believe it was the crumbling of the old studio system that has caused this era of Happy Meal Movies. Back in the day when studios had a stable of stars who were under a binding and exclusive contract, they were kept under control. Now, everyone's a free agent and the lunatics are truly running the asylum. Stars' salaries have inflated to obscene proportions, so studios make fewer movies, and now only make "event" movies that practically ensure a profit because they have to pay Cruise 30 million bones because they know he can open a movie. The suits at the studios are business schleps, you now that. They never had any artistic integrity. They're trying to make a cool dollar and that's it. Even agents seem to have more power than filmmakers these days, thanks again to the stars and their endless avarice.

I think they were on to something in the silent era when they used to bill actors with names like "The Girl With The Golden Locks" or "The It Girl". It kept these damned stars from turning themselves into a brand name and abusing the power that was given to them in the first place by the filmmakers who now call them boss.

If Julia Roberts died tomorrow, we'd still have Sandy Bullock. And if Sandy died the next day we'd still have Reese Witherspoon.

These stars are made, not born. Fuck 'em in the ear. Fuck 'em in the other ear.

Your friend,
Bird

Dear Bird:

Yeah, but there's been movie stars since early in the silent era. Just because the studios are so insecure that they feel they need stars to open films doesn't mean they can't develop a decent script. Admittedly, stars do develop some of their own material, which is often the very worst stuff (like "Open Range"), but the problem is much bigger than stars' salaries. And most actors, if not the very biggest stars, will work for a lot less if they think it's a good project (but as a little note to you and JJ, they won't work for free, their agents won't let them, nor will SAG).

Josh

Name: Cynthia E. Jones
E-mail: cynthiaejones@hotmail.com

Dear Josh,

I was so distracted by the angry posts here I forgot to ask you--have you read the latest issue of "The New Yorker?" It's got the Hollywood sign on the cover as a cartoon...it's all about movies this week. I'm not sure if you're a subscriber or not, but you should definitely pick it up. There's a lot of great articles (and one about QT, unfortunately), including a reminiscence by a writer who used to go to the movies three or four times a week for years, during the Golden Age of Hollywood. He reminded me of you, waxing rhapsodic about being swept away by a movie--that "good movie feeling," as I call it, that happens so much less often these days. Nothing beats an after-good-movie high. Well--almost nothing.

Good reading,
Cindy

Dear Cindy:

I honestly went to the movies four or five times a week from the time I was eighteen to the time I was thirty-five. But that wasn't the only Golden Age of Hollywood, so far, it was just the last one. And another will come. The first Golden Age was the late silent period, 1924-28, then I'd say 1935-55 (although some people would undoubtedly start it later and end it earlier, like 1939-50), then the last one was 1967-77. I'm just anxious for the next one to begin.

Josh

Name: JJ
E-mail: jj@jjandbird.com

Josh,

I'm guessing that my other comment didn't make it up because it violated the PG rating of your board. That is fair, and I noticed the condition you stipulated. That is fair, indeed.

So. I will leave a simpler message. Rhonda. I disagree with you. Vehemently. If you'd like to discuss this further with me, I'm at jj@jjandbird.com. But I'd really rather not waste my time with it.

Josh. I agree with you. Kids aren't a big deal, in short. I had more to say on that topic, but the steam has faded, and I forget what I was talkin' about, mostly.

Hope this message is more in focus with your expectations, Josh!

Thanks,

Just JJ

Dear JJ:

Go ahead and say whatever you want, but all messages do not get posted. If you're trying to start a fight with me, that's one thing. If you're picking a fight with someone else, and I have to play referee, that's yet another thing that doesn't interest me all that much. I just think that by over-coddling the children, as is the way now, it's making them incredibly unprepared for the misery of life. I think many young folks honestly believe they're owed happiness, which of course they're not. Society has developed this attitude that kids are tremendously important, but once you pass eighteen you're not worth shit--you're not worthy of health care, a job, or civil liberties. But kids, let's not let their feet touch the ground. It's bad training for life.

Josh

Name: Ollie
E-mail:

Josh,

I take it you saw that episode of the Keenan Ivory Wayans show, because i distinctly remember Quentin saying that he saw the producer (Mentioned in Killer Instinct) in a restaurant and "Bitch slapped him 5 times!" That was the exact term he used, with childish glee I might add. Anyway, I believe the Jeff Burr film was Eddie Presley. I dont think it ever got released here. I remeber Bruce said in some interview that he did a scene with Quentin in that film. Anyway, I'm sure your not the only one who wants to Bitch slap Quentin, there is a long line of people he has screwed along the way.

Dear Ollie:

Honestly, I don't care at all about Quentin Tarantino. I think his only real impact on the world of film has been negative -- weak narratives, poorly-conceived characters, ripped-off dialog, ripped-off scenes, ripped-off fights, etc. He hasn't got anything to say, nor does he stand for anything, and he hasn't got much technique, either. I think he's just plain old insignificant.

Josh

Name: Cynthia E. Jones
E-mail: cynthiaejones@hotmail.com

Dear Josh,

Wow! I leave for a few days and I get anti-women bashing?! Coddled children and the future of America? Hatred of Quentin Tarantino?! What a great website!

My two cents regarding women: Why can't we just all get along? I love men, I love women...we all have differences. It's funny like that. I know sensitive men who coddle their children and straight-laced women who are making much more than their co-workers in the office. We gotta drop these old "poor me, I'm a woman" stereotypes.

As for blaming women for the infantile state of films today, blame 'focus group' people who invite people from shopping malls during the weekdays to do their research. ("Did you think this would be a movie you would go see?" says the man with the clipboard to the monday-morning shopper, next to the ear-piercing pavilion.) All I know is, there aren't NEARLY as many women directors as I'd like to see up there. I get excited when women's names are anywhere in the credits. I like anyone's name if they do good work. Women--men--if you're a good artist with a story to tell, you're awesome. It's only one little chromosome, for Christ's sake!

Also, regarding QT: Whoa. I didn't know you used to hang out with him. I understood that you 'pissed him off' after writing that "Film Threat" article and I thought that was it.

There's a school of 20-to-30-something 'movie geeks' whom I separate from 'film geeks.' 'Movie geeks' can quote all the dialogue from "Dolemite," "Battle Royale" and/or "Switchblade Sisters" et. al. These movies, even when high or drunk, are bad. Just...bad. Campy-bad, fun-bad, whatever. Poorly written, poorly executed. The fun of that wavers after about a dozen or so of these, even with a huge group of friends who can yell at the screen with you. 'Film Geeks' can tell you that James Wong Howe shot this one scene, and that Marlene Deitrich was having her period when they shot this other one.

QT movies are like a screenwriting version of "MST3K" where if you get the references, you're cool. If you don't, you're not. Whatever. William Wyler never threw in John Cage references to get the beatnik crowd. He just made good movies. Timelessness is an excellent quality in a film. One that is hard to find.

Oh, and I'm fond of the "Willard" remake, starring Crispin Glover. It's pretty much a one-man show, but if you like him, it's a good one. I thought his performance was great. If you get it on Netflix, watch the original ending in the 'deleted scenes.' It's better that way. (Ah...focus groups.)

Take care,
Cindy

Dear Cindy:

Okay, I trust you, I'll rent "Willard." Meanwhile, I didn't hang out with Quentin. Quentin, and his future partner, Lawrence Bender, hung out at the bungalow I shared with Scott Spiegel and they were hanging out with Scott, not with me. I thought they were all idiots and tried my best to avoid them. I'm sure they thought I was a stuck-up asshole. What's funny is that Quentin admitted to me, and to our mutual friend, Sheldon, that he really loved TSNKE, and had seen it quite a few times. This was before I insulted him in the interview, of course. However, in some minor way, I'm one of Quentin's many film influences.

Josh

Name:
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

Re: your rant about the "president" was totally on target. Way to go!
On the "election" of W . . . You're right, he didn't win the election, he got us to call off the election and siezed control of the government. Talk about your dictators with illegetimate regimes!!!

Can we recall him?

Dear        :

No, but let's certainly not vote for him.

Josh

Name: DREW
E-mail:

Long Time No See,

Just wanted to say that I just got through reading your essay on the presidential misuse of power, and you literaly ripped the words from my mind like a psychic magnet. I couldn't agree with you more. It makes me sick to know that there are kids my age (I'm 22) fighting and dying for a cause that's inane and incomprehensible. Even when Bush declared that major combat was over back in May, I had a urging in my gut that things weren't as well as the government and the press made it out to be. And the fact that double (or maybe triple now?) have been killed since major fighting was delared over, only burns my ass even more. I'm sick of Bush's "Yosemite-Sam" mentality, as if this was the old west and he's drawing guns with Saddam Huessein - as if things were that simple anymore. This isn't the war mentality of yesteryear like WWI & WWII. There's no honor or heroics anymore, unless you call a suicide bomber blowing himself up in order to kill innocent people and soilders for the sake of their god heroic. These are very dangerous times we're living in and very dangerous people, and I know Bush knows this. I think he's just too self-centered and greedy to care.

Anyways, I just wanted to tell you that I finished my first quasi-professional short film. I self-financed for $400 bucks, and I think it came out quite well. I have you to thank a little bit for getting me there. Your comments in the past really helped in getting the thing done, and for that I thank you. Keep making great movies. Thanks.

Dear DREW:

Yeah, well you keep making movies, too. Good work on getting a film finished, it's not easy no matter what the length. I rather enjoyed hearing Dick Cheney bitch about the media yesterday, that they won't report all of the good things going on in Iraq. The folks at CNN, which has certainly been on Bush's side throughout this imroglio, felt the responsibility to explain to Bush & co. that TV news isn't based on the good things people do, it's based on the bad things. News isn't about the cat that didn't get caught up in the tree, it's about the cat that did get caught in the tree. Good old Walter Cronkite was quoted the day before yesterday as saying that the war in Iraq was "the single worst policy decision ever."

Josh

Name: Ollie
E-mail:

Josh,

I'm in total agreement of your assesment of Tarantino. I have always thought he was, not only a plagerist, but a pretentious egomaniac. Apparently he only has a 9th grade education, and it shows in his work, but I digress. I think a problem that plagues the public, is that the work of people like Taranitino and Kevin Smith are ingrained in the minds of young audiences who have never seen a good film before. Suddenly they are under the false impression that overwiritten dialogue, and pop culture references are tools for clever writing. I remember watching Resevior Dogs for the first time, and I wanted to cringe during Quentin's Madonna monologue. It was like he was saying, "Look how intelligent and witty I am, I'd like to see you write better lines!" Anyway, I highly recommend a book called Killer Instinct written by producer Jane Hamsher. It is about the making of Natural Born Killers. Even if you didnt like the movie, which I didnt, the book delves into the nasty politics of the making of that film. I have read many books old and new about the industry, and I must say that Killer Instinct is a very honest account of a film from start to finish. It is certainly a wake up call to those who want to be a part of the industry. Quentin was so offended by this book, he punched out one of the producers mentioned in it who trash talked him. Quentin was sued, but all charges were dropped out of good will, until he made an appearance on the Keenan Ivory Wayans show a few years back. Like a child he gloated about punching this guy out. Shortly after, the suit was reinstated for a larger sum, and Quentin had to pay up. It just shocks me that guys like Tarantino run this town. BTW- I heard Bruce Campbell did a scene with Quentin in an unreleased film directed by Jeff Burr. Do you know anything about that?

Dear Ollie:

I'm not sure if you're referring to Jeff Burr's film, "Eddie Presley," or not. Jeff got a lot of people to do bits in it (excluding me), including Ted Raimi. Meanwhile, regarding QT Mush, I too cringed right away in that first scene of "Reservoir Dogs" at the pretentious, self-aggrandizing Madonna dialog, which of course means nothing, and didn't help the characterization or the plot, it's just there to show what a hip guy Quentin is. Which is his trademark, his non-sequitur, pop reference dialog that tells you nothing. Like the "Burger Royale" scene in PF. Were it written by a writer that knows how to write, it would have had something to do with the characters -- does this hitman actually travel to Europe a lot? Is he so big of a hitman that he does overseas jobs? Is the other guy so stupid that he can't assimilate that in different countries things may have other names? What does it mean? Nothing, that's what it means. QT doesn't understand characterization, story structure, or plot. That's undoubtedly why he used the most painful, dreary, hoary old plot for "Kill Bill," he simply does not care about the writing. It's funny that I insulted Quentin (calling him goofy looking), and although he got mad, he didn't threaten to "bitch slap" me, but then I'm bigger than him. I'd be more than happy should he care to bitch slap me to bitch slap him back into the stone age. The best he could come up with, when I saw him at the first showing of "The Thin Red Line" in LA, and I said hello, was to ignore me like I wasn't there. That book sounds interesting, thanks.

Josh

Name: Kim
E-mail: mrsdagle@yahoo.com

Josh,
What you consider over-indulgent I consider neglectful and dishonest. People don't want to take care of their own kids so they invent places to send them. I'm kind of out of the loop with "playdates" because I don't know (or like) anyone here in my neighborhood and my son is autistic. So, I watch him myself. But I really think that people use special language to cover their own guilt. They complain that school doesn't do enough "for
kids" but they are really looking for a tax-payed babysitter. They complain that Media isn't Kid-Friendly enough, but they refuse to turn it off or invent their own entertainment.
As far as Shirley being a "messenger", when you generalize a whole people in such a negative light, you're not acting merely as a messenger. Like I said, I certainly don't require "payment" for services rendered from my husband and I don't associate with those who do.

And back to films, why are people here Who Know Better watching crappy films??? A couple of weeks ago, I saw a Spanish film, Mondays in the Sun (starring Javier Bardem). It was mostly good but the final shot totally confused me. I don't know if it was a good conclusion or not. That probably means no. (it's about shipyard workers that have been unemployed and what they do with their days) Maybe you'll see it soon and let me know.
;)
Kim

Dear Kim:

I haven't seen it. I did just see "Fidel," a 2002 documentary directed by Estela Bravo, that was very good. When you remove all of the American vilification of Castro and look at him the way the rest of the world sees him, he's a great man. Probably a greater man than the nine American presidents he's out-lived. Our embargo of Cuba is a crime, considering we do plenty of business with Red China. Anyway, it was a good documentary that opened my eyes past my own nationalist bias. I also just saw "24 Hour Party People," which I enjoyed. I think the music is all crap, but situation was very believable and humorous.

Josh

Name: Shirley
E-mail:

Dear Kim:

Hey, I'm just pointing it out, not making it up; don't attack the messenger.

Shirley

Dear Shirley:

Obviously, this is a touchy subject. I like touchy subjects.

Josh

Name: Bird
E-mail: bird@jjandbird.com

Hello Josh.

I just saw KILL BILL this weekend myself. My opinion? Trite, shallow, and masturbatory.

I know that Tarantino was attempting to just make a chop-socky fight fest and not worry so much about characterizations and plot development, but this was just subpar for QT. You're probably laughing right now, because I know you think he sucks anyway, but I admit I call myself a fan of his.

I always thought Tarantino's greatest strength was his dialogue. In this movie, there's hardly any. Not that the action was bad, it wasn't, but it just got to be a bit mind-numbing after a while. That coupled with the fact that Miramax expects us to pay for the same film twice when vol.2 comes out, I was a little chafed when I left the theater.

Another question: How come Roger Avary had to fight tooth and nail with his old video store buddy Quentin to get his rightful "story by" credit in PULP FICTION, and then QT still talks endless shit about him for it... but Uma Thurman shares a "character created by" credit with QT and he's strokin' her in every interview I see him in. How much input could she have had? Honestly? Why's he so keen to share the credit with her and not his old buddy Avary? My theory is she has a nicer ass, what's yours?

Your friend,
Bird

Dear Bird:

Sounds right to me. Uma is definitely better-looking than Roger Avery. I read that Quentin considers himself Joseph Von Sternberg to Uma's Marlene Dietrich, which may be the biggest overstatement of all time, not to mention that she isn't even in two of his four films. Quentin is the perfect star director/writer for this rotten time in film history: He's a film geek that hasn't seen all that many movies (or at least good ones); he's an Oscar-winning writer that can't create a character and hasn't got the first clue about story structure; he's a genius director that's never set up an interesting shot, nor is he particularly talented at staging scenes; he's considered one of the most "original" filmmakers of the past decade and he steals almost every scene and line of dialog he uses. We can only all hope that this time period in film passes quickly. Regarding the Coen brothers, so they finally sold out, what a surprise. The only thing they had going for them was a slight shred of integrity, but they sold that for a few sheckels.

Josh

Name: Scott
E-mail: sspnyc66@mac.com

Josh,

I just want to pipe in again and say that I went to see the latest cohen brothers film "Intolerable Cruelty" and it was bad. Both my girlfriend and I did not like it at all. The story was stupid, and it was their biggest cliche of a film and not in a good way.

We had a discussion about their films when I came home to see you, and I do feel that every film they make gets worse with the exception of "Fargo".

My best friend was interested to see "Kill Bill', but I told him that i did not want any part of that film. I never liked "Pulp Fiction", and the only film that I ever mildly liked by him was "Resevior Dogs", but that became dull after the stupid "ear" scene. It wasn't necessary to film at all.

I know Taratino used to hang out at your apartment in L.A. with Scott S. and talk about bad movies, well now the fucker gets to make them too.

BTW, This week I am sending a photocopy of the John Sinclair and Oliver Stone interviews that I told you about. I think you will enjoy both.

Scott

Dear Scott:

Bad films were all the Quentin was ever interested in, and all that he's ever made. He's obviously read too many of his own reviews, that keep referring to him as a "film geek genius," which is blatantly untrue. He's neither a genius (nor even particularly smart), nor is he even a well-informed movie geek. He's spent his whole life watching exclusively bad films and has done an excellent job of avoiding the good ones. Like I told you, when Quentin was coming by that house all the time the conversation never veered from bad films -- "Oh, you think that was bad, this one was much worse." I finally got so pissed-off I yelled at everyone in the house, "For Christ sake, stop discussing bad films! Why don't you try discussing good films for once," but of course they didn't, so I soon moved out. "Kill Bill" looks like a horrible pastiche of all these bad films that I hated in the first place. That we revere this bozo just shows how bad off this society really is.

Josh

Name: Kim
E-mail: mrsdagle@yahoo.com

Well, Josh,
I don't know what to think after reading your thoughts on "women". Do you really think the females have overtaken society? Do you really think it's their preoccupation with children that has created this Schpielberg Generation?
First, look at the helmet laws (are they really laws?); that's a man-initiated program. In my hometown in CA, it was a neurologist that started the trend for children to wear helmets. It had to do with his profession and exposure to head injuries from bicycle accidents. Look at the motorcycle helmet (and seatbelt) laws, those aren't due to Female Need for Safety, but insurance company greed. Do women run that too?!
I would say most of our losses in the personal liberty dept are due to insurance lawsuits and insurance policies. Companies and the gov't don't want to be sued or pay higher premiums because someone get hurt or sick, so they ban smoking, they test you for drugs.
I can't even begin to wonder what is wrong with Shirley and the people she must encounter. If someone demands a piece of jewelry as a declaration of Love and Committment, then they are selfish, vain and greedy. In large numbers, that may reflect on society but I wouldn't blame Women. I hate diamonds and my huband's wedding band cost more than mine. So there. And if anyone is looking for role models on Television, well good luck! They are All caricatures of American society.
I don't think it is female preoccupation that dominates the child-oriented Media and Merchandise. It is corporate greed and the knowledge that there are more kids with access to money and the fact that children are Neglected that make them the perfect Market to advertise to.
Kim

Dear Kim:

Good points, and well-taken. Maybe women aren't to blame for this safety-over-fun time period, but I do think one some level they still are. It's the very powerful motherhood, protect-the-children attitude. I listen to my friend, Lisa, tell me about the things she has to do with her three kids, between 8-13, and having to set up "playdates," where one mother calls the other mother to see if it's okay if their kid plays over there after school, having to work out all of the kids social issues for them, and the constant running and running to get the kids to all of these extra-curricular activities, just sounds severely over-indulgent to me. And I am constantly being informed how smart kids are these days, but if you ask a 16-year old the easiest questions, like who was president in 1990, they have no clue, and I will be informed, "Hey! He's only sixteen." Or my 13-year-old nephew who is still reading Harry Potter books, but he's "very intelligent." The kids have been coddled into stupidity and severe wimpiness.

Josh

Name: Blake Eckard
E-mail:

Josh,

Oh man, am I mad!!!

I went to see "Kill Bill, Volume I," this weekend. Having sorta enjoyed "Pulp Fiction," when I first saw it at the age of 14, I opted to see it out of total curiosity. (I must admit, with every year, I've grown to like PF much less. Since reading your structure essays about three years ago, I now don't care for it much at all).

Long story short...Tarantino's new film is total garbage. I urge everyone who reads this not to see the film...Don't support it or anything having to do with Quentin Tarantino.

Absolutely no plot. Absolutely no depth with any character. Absolutely no theme. Absolutely one of the most self-consciously produced films ever made. Tarantino is a brat. A director brat who must (if he isn't in the process of giving another one of his horribly irksome cameos) continually make sure every frame is totally "kick ass, dude!" He's quite simply the most pretentious filmmaker alive. Perhaps ever.

Coming out of the theatre I told my girlfriend (who was totally confused at that point) that I was totally confident this film, despite all the hype, was going to be panned by every major critic in the world. That's going out on a limb, I know, but it was really THAT bad. Two minutes ago I checked Roger Ebert's site. How great was it going to be to read what I expected to be a down and dirty review from one of QT's most supportive critics...

EBERT GAVE IT FOUR STARS OUT OF FOUR!!!!

I'm so in shock I can't help but give you a few quotes from his review...

"The movie is all story telling with no story." A four star review...

"The motovations have no psychological depth or resonance, but are simply plot points." (didn't he just say there was no story?) He gave it four out of four...

"Kill Bill is not the kind of movie that inspires discussion..." Four out of four.

Josh, we need another Becker film! What can WE do?

Have a good one, if you can.

Blake

Dear Blake:

"Kill Bill, Volume 1" isn't any good? What a shock. It actually look quite a bit worse than his other films, and that's saying something. And how many times do I have to remind you guys that Ebert's nothing more than a salaried lackey for the man, nor has he ever had any taste. Gene Siskel was the decent one. Meanhwile, the NT Times wasn't thrilled with it, nor was Salon, and they're probably the best critics around. A.O. Scott in the NY Times said that the dialog being spoken and the dialog being translated from Japanese sounded equally as stilted, then found some subtitle with bad grammer that said something like "Whom are you?" At the end of the review he admits that others may like the film, and ends with "Whom knows?"

Josh

Name: Scott
E-mail: sspnyc66@mac.com

Josh,

Thanks for clarifying, we are pretty much on the same page with letting kids be kids.

Rock on Brother!

Scott

Dear Scott:

I knew we were, it's just that you're now an expecting father and have to be more sensitive to these kid issues, I understand.

Josh

Name: Scott
E-mail: sspnyc66@mac.com

Josh,

I want to comment on your comment with regards to kids.

"I'm saying kids aren't all that important. You spend ten years as a kid, then ten years as a teen, then the next sixty or so as an adult. Being an adult is more important than being a kid."

I agree that being an adult is as important than being a kid, but it is not more important in the long haul.

I think the point that you miss is that the first 5 to 10 years of your life shape much of your personality and how you react to things which will eventually carry over into your adult life, so saying " "just get on with it" is good advice, but I think there is a little more to it than that.

I believe it is possible to transcend these things in some ways, but it can be very difficult and not many people actually do it, so in a sense, you are who you are by the time you are about 12 with varying degrees of change throughout the rest of your life.

Most adults have issues from when they were children and it is how you deal with these issues as an adult that allows you live your life out. I know you can relate to this Josh.

This is where I find you idea flawed, but all humans are flawed and that is what makes life interesting, so I guess it is really a non-issue.

I believe that Rhonda and Shirley both made good comments about men and women.

Actually, my girlfriend and I laugh a lot about this idea that a man is expected to buy an engagement ring which is one quarter of his salary.

That is truly an American thing and living in NYC, it is even more of a thing.


Of course in the eyes of society, we are putting the cart before the horse by having a child before getting married. We don't give a shit. Having a child is far mor important to us than marriage which is just simply a personal choice.

I also liked Sam 's brother's comment about men's pain, however, I think much of that is self induced as much as I think the extreme feminist view of women's pain is also self-induced. I belive 80%- 90% of life is how you react to things.

Scott

Dear Scott:

I understand that one's whole personality is formed in the first ten or fifteen years. All I'm saying is that life should be more aimed at adults than kids; kids should not be the predominate issue of life. And when I say, get on with it, I'm sort of paraphrasing John Steinbeck from "The Red Pony," where the kid, who's about eight, wants to watch the horse give birth and the ranch-hand isn't sure if he should let him, so he asks the kid's mother, who says that everyone is going to see everything and find out everything eventually, so you may as well just get on with it. It's like making kids wear their bicycle helmets all the time because they might fall boom-boom and get a bump on their widdle heads. Well, it's important to hit your head and have it hurt so you learn not to do that (The guy goes to the doctor and says, "It hurts when I do this," and the doctor says, "Then don't do that"). As a society we need to stop catering to kids, it's not good for them, nor is good for society. There isn't always going to be somewhere there to catch you when you fall, or to kiss your boo-boo and make it all better. Life is basically a bitch, and you better start getting used to it. As Buddha decreed in his first noble truth, "Life is suffering."

Josh

Name: Shirley
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

I think women these days don’t realize how spoiled they are, nor do they see anything wrong with a double standard which favors them. I’m talking about the whole “men suck, women rule” bullshit. They would be offended if mothers were always portrayed as the stupid ones of the family on TV, but it’s fine to portray fathers that way. In relationships with men, they expect to be won and for the man to prove he is good enough for her, but if they met a man with the opposite expectations he is being outrageous. He’s expected to buy her an engagement ring worth one quarter of his yearly salary, while she’s not expected to give him anything. He’s supposed to be a skilled lover, she just has to show up. If she fucks around behind his back, it’s his fault; if he fucks around behind her back, it’s his fault. If she gets tired of his bullshit and leaves, she’s courageous; if he gets tired of her bullshit and leaves, he’s a jerk.

Finally, during their teen years young men experience rejection and begin to learn how to handle it, that it’s not really that big of a deal, while at the same age young women are becoming accustomed to everyone kissing their asses. I think men tend to be more mature and realistic than women, because of this.

Shirley

Dear Shirley:

Obviously, Rhonda might not agree with you. My friend Ivan Raimi (Sam's older brother), who is a doctor, and I were lisening to a mutual friend, Irene, a feminist psychiatrist, tell us about the pain of being a woman, the monthly problems, child birth, etc. Ivan calmly replied, "Yes, but the pain of being a man goes on 24-hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, and it's so intense we don't talk about it."

Josh

Name: Rhonda
E-mail:

Hey JJ,

The next time you want your dick wet why don't you have the male president, male vice-president, mostly male congress and senate, mostly male judiciary system, mostly male police force, mostly male military, mostly male FBI, mostly male CIA, and mostly male media moguls give you a blow job. Oh yeah, women are sure as hell running this country! Give me a fuckin' break, dickwad! You're just sad that you have to actually be nice to a women to get some pussy, so you whine and cry. Actually, you can get a prostitute off of any city street-corner and treat her like shit in this wonderful country. That way you can get your dick wet and not have to be courteous at all.

Dear Rhonda:

Welcome to the discussion.

Josh

Name: Scott
E-mail: sspnyc66@mac.com

Josh,

The woman thing is an interesting topic, but it is nothing new in the history of the human race. I think there is this misrepresentation that woman or more sensitive than men, however, I don't believe that is true, I believe "in general" men are far more sensitive than women and also "in general" men are much less open to change than women.

I believe the men that are more open to change and proven that are able to tap into the feminine side of their nature and adapt more readily to situations.

I think a good example of this in the art world is David Bowie and their are many others.

I believe much of this has to do with the biological changes which happen to women each month and throughout their lifetime including pregnancy. Also, there are many factors as to why women outlive men in general and some of it is biological and some of it is emotional strength.


I do agree that now women have as many rights as men and I don't believe that is an all together bad thing, however, I don't agree with over classifying anything which is the stand that most extreme feminists take. Women and men are not equal biologically and that is nature and I believe to exploit this equality issue is a bad thing.

As you know, I enjoy Bill Maher too, however, I don't value his opinions when it comes to children because the guy has been a life long bachelor and has never had children.

I know you take this to heart to Josh, since you are in this situation, but much of how you are as an adult is reflected in how you were raised as a child combined with how you react to these things in life and life experience.

I personally have nothing against people deciding to be life long bachelors or never to have kids, but I also don't feel that their ideas about how kids should be and what is good for kids is the most credible.

I am expecting my first child and I am 36. It is exciting and scary all at once, but I am happy and I will do my best to give my child a balanced life as much as I can, however, I do not blame the art world's slump for pandering to children, I believe that more than anything it is a generational problem and much more of an adult problem.

To put the blame on a woman and kid oriented society is a cop out to the true root of the problem which is laziness and Maher is being "overly sensitive" with regards to this.

Adults are inspirationally lazy now and have been for sometime. I think it is good to be around kids because they can be an inspiration in some ways.

As you get older you realize it can breathe something new into life instead of re-hashing all the old worn out ways which become much like religion in a sense.

As with adults, there are anoying kids and there are cool kids, but to blame society's pitfalls on women's relationship to children is not the answer, however, it is more complex than that.

Men at the top, still have much of the material and ultimate power in this country, and this is what is determining where our society is heading not women. It is usually the women who have to bail the men out of stupid situations.

I think giving life is one of the things that humans do and it is like anything, if it is abused there is going to be problems, the big difference is that it is a life of a human and not drugs or junk food, so utlimately, the effect is much greater.

As I am writing and reading it to my girlfriend she says "that most women would never be having this conversation because it is a waste of time and it is a big, big generalization and it is fair that things are becoming equal between men and woman"."

I am going to take a bike ride now and enjoy life.

Scott

Dear Scott:

I'm not telling anyone how to raise their kids, nor do I particularly care how anyone raises their kids. I'm saying kids aren't all that important. You spend ten years as a kid, then ten years as a teen, then the next sixty or so as an adult. Being an adult is more important than being a kid. And gearing too much of society toward kids is a big mistake, in my humble, single opinion. Guard kids, don't guard kids, they're all going to figure everything out sooner or later, so we all may as well just get on with it.

Josh

Name: JJ
E-mail: jj@jjandbird.com

Josh,

In regards to this quote, yours:

"but the obnoxious comic, Orney Adams, had a funny bit. He said, there was a time when women couldn't vote, so men had to vote to give them the vote. How did we lose that one?"

I've given the matter some serious thought. Though I appreciate the humor reflected in it, it occurs to me, don't women have ALL the control?

For instance... we, in America, live in a democracy, whether people like it or not, it's true, right? Votes are cast, the results tallied, and the demands carried out. The electorial college has not to date gone against the state's wishes, to my knowledge. Rigged elections? Maybe, but proof is hard to come by on that topic.

So. Under the assumption that votes really do matter - then look at the population numbers between men and women. Not only do women outweigh us, percentage wise... but more men go to prison, have run ins with the law, etc...

The prisoner is not allowed a vote. You also lose your voting priveleges after receiving a federal conviction. Random folks on the streets can't even vote these days. Simply put, there are more men without the ability to vote in America than women.

I believe that women are secretly controlling everything, letting men think that they are in charge, and letting us do all the damn work in the meanwhile. Add on top of all of this, women demand equal rights and courtesy.

Josh, I've been a workin' man for a while. I've heard for a long time that women make less per hour for the same job than men do, statistically. Now, having been a workin' man and such, I just haven't seen it. Every woman in every office, and every woman on every shoot, and every woman in every restaurant, IS MAKING THE SAME MONEY!

This has to be a lie. Propaganda, surely.

No wonder men die earlier than women. They have us hoodwinked, in sex, politics and fiscal matters. We are slaves, and worse yet, puppets because we do not realize it. All because we want to get our dicks wet, and then we're made to feel guilty for that.

I love women as much as the next guy. Don't get me wrong. But am I off my rocker, entirely? Have I finally gotten paranoid?

Just JJ

ps... I only told Bird that we'd "telecine the hell out of it" because he wouldn't stop nitpicking my style.

Dear JJ:

I do think it's a real issue you've brought up. I agree, I think women have taken over this country, and are in the process of taking over the world. That's why all of this kid-oriented shit is so predominate now, because women think kids are the most important thing on the planet, which I heartily disagree with. Bill Maher discussed this, saying that now that women have taken over "safety is more important than fun, sensitivity is more important than masculinity." And in the name of the kids, we systematically keep losing our civil liberties. But worse still, it's completely destroyed the arts. Kids are now the only important audience to Hollywood, so just about all movies have to be geared down to ten-year-olds. Movies are no longer about art, or even mature entertainment, they're about how to dump the kids somewhere for two hours while the adults go shopping. To quote Bill Maher again, "When I was young Hollywood didn't give a shit about me and didn't make films for me. They made films for adults, and when I saw them they challenged me, and made me a better person." Films now have to be like McDonald's food, unhealthy shit that can be eaten without teeth.

Josh

Name: jonathan Matthewson
E-mail: bloodstainedbiblesforwhores@yahoo.com

Dear Josh:

ya I hate christains because when I was one they brain
washed me

Dear jonathan:

That's some handle you've got there. I hope you get your brain back in order.

Josh

Name: Ben
E-mail: wakko@icon-stl.net

Re: Post Modernism:
I was referring to the philosophy known as Post Modernism. Basically it is a philosophy that does not seek absolute truth, and instead seeks relative coherence. Like many philosophies, it is a rejection of another philosophy, in this case Modernism. Examples of Post moder films would be Ghost World or Donnie Darko. But I'm sure there's someone out there who can explain Post Modernism better.

Dear Ben:

Well, I didn't care for "Ghost World," and I really didn't like "Donnie Darko," so I guess I don't like post-modern movies. I don't know about "absolute truth," either, but I do think a story should have a point, just like a joke should have a punchline. Meanwhile, I just watched "Comedian," which I thought was a piss-poor documentary -- it's like all the funny footage will be available later in an HBO special -- but the obnoxious comic, Orney Adams, had a funny bit. He said, there was a time when women couldn't vote, so men had to vote to give them the vote. How did we lose that one?

Josh

Name: Diana Hawkes
E-mail: upon request

Dear Josh:

I finally bought the DVD's with the director commentary for Xena, and I think you are too hard on yourself, you're cute as a button. As a matter of fact, I'm compelled to say- I've seen stills of T.J. Scott and he's a former hunky stuntman, correct? So I expected him to look and sound... different.

Anyhoo--
What is your family's opinion of your films and your television work?
I get the sense that your father wouldn't hesitate to tell you what's truly on his mind regarding what you've accomplished.
If I may ask- how old is your sister, and what is her take on X: WP?

Dear Diana:

Cute as a button, eh? Golly, thanks. Let's see, I have two sisters, one older, one younger, neither of whom cared for Xena or Herc. Nor did my mother or father, for that matter. But then, I don't look to my family for that sort of reinforcement. My younger sister just enthusiastically liked my newest script, which was rather surprising, but nice. My dad won't even finish reading it, which is why I generally don't bother giving him what I write. Bruce Campbell, meanwhile, has always read everything I've given him, then gives me back terrific, insightful comments, so I've got that going for me.

Josh

Name: Benjie Wood
E-mail: Treasle@Juno.com

Dear Josh:

Comment on silent actress Olive Borden. In the 90's, I did extensive research on the Olive Borden/Sybil Tinkle name change. Her her real name was Olive Borden. Census records show her living in Virginia at the same time Sybil Tinkle was living in Texas. After talking to Tinkle relatives and Olive's cousin actress Natalie Joyce I think I solved the mystery of the name mixup. Sybil Tinkle left Texas in the 20's, she resembled Olive but was about five years older. She had told her family she changed her name to Olive Borden. The family states they tried to find her but she was last reported seen at a TB hospital in California. Sybil's brother died in a car crash after leaving an Olive Borden film and the family contacted a reporter and an article was written stating "Olive Borden's brother dies in crash". This article resurfaced after Borden's death in the 40's. From that point on all film books list her real name as Sybil Tinkle. Her real father was H. Borden and both he and her sister died in an car crash when Olive was young. Sacred Heart School records also support this. This research was used in part by Michael Ankerich in a Classic Images article featuring Olive.

Dear Benjie:

Thanks for the clarification.

Josh

Name: Bird Jenkins
E-mail: bird@jjandbird.com

Howdy, Josh.

I'd appreciate it if you could weigh in on a dispute JJ and I had.

My writing partner and I decided to do some test shooting for our YOUNG GUNS PROJECT last weekend, so we went all the way from L.A. to Barstow to shoot some desert footage. As much as I hate to sweat the small stuff, I noticed JJ was shooting rather indiscriminately, not accounting for lighting or composition, but just shooting the desert with his camcorder like he was Uncle Sal filming my soccer game. I challenged him on this, and he arrogantly replied that we'd "fix it in post". Now I've heard this cliche before, but JJ is a trusted friend and I believe he knows a thing or two about cameras, at least more than me. I thought he was joking at first, but he was really adamant about it. He said that guys like Conrad Hall and Janos Kiminski are considered great cinematographers because they "telecine the hell out of their shit". This sounded ridiculous to me, but then he pointed to the example of TRAFFIC, which Soderbergh shot himself in addition to directing. He said that Soderbergh "telecine'd the hell out of TRAFFIC,"and that's why it looked so interesting.

After JJ brought it up, I started thinking about it, and it always did strike me as amazing that Soderbergh was able to perform two huge jobs so well at the same time on that movie. I know you dislike TRAFFIC because of the moral assumptions it makes with its characters, but what do you think of it from a technical standpoint? Is JJ correct when he says that a movie only looks as good as how much money you throw at it during post-production?

"I gots to know..."

Your friend,
Bird

Dear Bird:

I'd say the look of "Traffic" (which I don't like) was achieved during shooting, by use of the angled shutter. This was how Spielberg did it for "Saving Private Ryan," and that's what everyone was copying for a time ("Three Kings," "Band of Brothers"). That's how you get that slight trailing effect. Saying you "telecined the hell out of it" doesn't mean shit in the world of film. That's not where you make your changes because then they wouldn't be on film and you wouldn't see them in the movie theater. Everything that's done to film is either done in the camera during shooting, with filters on the lens and gels on the lights, or in color timing, which is a lab process done on film. You can make a lot of color changes in color timing, but that's not how great DPs like Conrad Hall achieved the look they were going for, they actually lit the film that way. Color timing is really just to smooth out the differences between the shots. When you do finally telecine the film, from your color-corrected IP, you're really just trying to get it to look like it did on film. And composition is all done at the time of shooting. "Fix it in post" is an excuse to try straighten out the problems you foolishly created during shooting. And how does Soderbergh both direct and operate camera? He does a half-assed job in both departments, then probably still has time left over. I absolutely despise films that are entirely hand-held and pay no attention to montage or juxtaposition of shots, which is one of the major aspects that interests me about filmmaking, like how Hitchcock or Kubrick directed -- every shot is specific and has meaning. Shooting a film all hand-held is a bullshit, overall decision that relegates the film to the shit-heap of visual junk.

Josh

Name: Ben
E-mail: wakko@icon-stl.net

Josh,

I was wondering: what do you think of Post-Modernism in general and Post-Modern films specifically?

Dear Ben:

Please be more specific because I'm not sure what you're talking about. Are there particular dates when films were pre-modern, then modern, now post-modern? If so, when?

Josh

Name: JJ
E-mail: jj@jjandbird.com

Mornin' Josh.

I read your reply to my other post, and I have changed my mind. I am not disappointed in you any more. Your response made sense. Of course you didn't want to shit all over my dream. I can respect that, but in the future... lay it to me straight as an arrow. I can take it.

In regards to whether Bird and I are living in a "dream world". Bird has a friend. We call him Hollywood Brad. He's a player, a mover, and yes - one hell of a shaker. The only guy I know that's ever got a sitdown with Kosberg, if you know what I mean. The reason I bring up Holllywood Brad is 'cause he said something about Bird and I that may answer your (possibly rhetorical) question.

"Those guys have all the heart in the world," Hollywood Brad said. "But not a pot to piss in." That's how he finished it. Yeah. Not a pot to piss in. But eh, fuck Hollywood Brad.

We. Are. Making. This. Film. That's what it comes down to, friend. Come misery, come debt, come tornado, hurricane or avalanche... this film is ALL that we have, and I for one will not let anything like money stand in the way.

Ol' Betsy, my camera, has seen me through many trials. I sleep next to her. Get my drift? Good. I think that Heath Ledger will get it too, and I'm prepared, with Bird, to offer Heath Ledger a healthy amount of the profits, after the film finds a distribution deal. Other name actors have been known to enter into creative deals, for the sake of a beautiful idea.

This is a movie that has to be made. They say that it took something like nine or ten years to carve Mt. Rushmore to perfection. Well hell. Bird and I have been working on this project longer than that, so you can imagine it's pretty good, least better than Mt. Rushmore, which people flock to.

So. Yeah. The money machine's got a few kinks in it right now, but that's Bird's area of expertise. He's workin' on it. (In fact, I believe he and John Ritter were s'posed to hash out some details, but alas...)

This is my life, chivato. Shit on it. Everyone else has. We'll see who's laughing when Bird and I are watching it for the first time on the silver screen though.

I, for one, will have a lump in my throat. And I won't care if anyone sees me crying. 'Cause tears of joy are rare. Rare indeed.

Just JJ

ps... we still dig you though, Josh. Hard core to the max. Thanks for you replies, thus far.

Dear JJ:

Hey, good luck to you. I think you have the right attitude, come hell or high water. However, you might want to consider raising money independently and shooting cheap, non-SAG, so you can actually make your film. This would mean skipping the use of stars -- which, in all sincerity, I don't believe you'll get -- but it would put fate back into your own hands. All you have to do is raise some money and you can go make the film, as opposed to waiting for Hollywood flakes and agents to okay your dreams. As long as your future lies in someone else's hands, you're basically helpless. But, you'll do what what you do, and I wish you all the best.

Josh

Name: Daniel
E-mail: danjfox@rogers.com

Dear Josh:

Re: realism, there's a bit on the Shining DVD extras where Jack Nicholson is being intervied. He says something like as an actor you're constantly being trained and searching for realism. But then Stanley Kubrik says {to me} realism is all well and good, but it's not always the most interesting way to tell the story.

In terms of directing "realistic" moments, wouldn't it be better to slap the camera down, point it somewhere, and let things happen in front of it? If the camera works as our eyes, putting us in the scene, as an observer if something happens nearby I'm probably just going to look at it anyway, not run towards it, circle around it, and crawl as quickly as I can through a person's legs just because they're there.

Along those lines I just saw Big Country recently and it was almost physically refreshing to see the work of a director who knows what they're doing and isn't trying to hide their crappy content with loops and whorls.

Dear Dan:

Yet emotions can be heightened by camera placement and camera movement in the right places. The point, in my opinion, is to not go whole hog in any one direction, but to do what is best for the scene or film in its totality. Just slapping the camera down and playing out the whole scene in front of it may very well not be the best way to get it across. William Wyler was of the school, like Billy Wilder and John Ford, where cutting to a close-up meant something. Films like "The Big Country" are what I miss the most: it knows exactly what it's about and what story it's telling, it's got scope, and it's spectacular. And it's perfectly cast. It's one of Gregory Peck's best performances, and I think it's Charlton Heston's very best -- he really makes a lovable prick.

Josh

Name: John Hunt
E-mail: Chowkidar@aol.com

Josh,

In reference to "Thirteen" and movies of its ilk, I wonder what you think about the current fascination with "realism" in movies. It strikes me that"realism" in Hollywood today refers to poor lighting, unsteady camera work and gratuitous profanity. Quentin Tarantino's work comes readily to mind. It strikes me that "realism" becomes so much of a crutch that it takes precedence over story, just as much as special effects movies place SFX over story.

I haven't seen "Thirteen", and likely won't, but I've seen a fair number of clips and know the basic plod, sorry, plot. Trying to represent the life of a thirteen-year old with all of the insight of a thirteen-year old can't teach anything to anyone with a larger perspective; a fourteen-year old, for instance.

Golden Age movies always seemed to have a degree of separation which required the audience to step into the movie's world. The Billy The Kid movies you list were all heroic, which means not life-like. "Black Hawk Down" attempted realism and failed to find the heroism of the situation. That doesn't mean that "realism" cannot be employed, only that it should not, as it so often is, be a crutch substituting profane cliches and bad camera work for story.

John

Dear John:

Or worse still, using "realism" as a substitute for an actual story with believable characters that I give a damn about. There has been a rejection of dramatic structure and characterization, but there's been nothing added to replace those things, nor can you replace them, in my opinion. I heard that a few times regarding "Black Hawk Down," that had they any real dramatic structure or characterization that would have been "old-fashioned." Yeah? But I might have given a shit as opposed to being 70% bored the entire film. I still believe that the real reason for the rejection of good, solid, deep writing is that everyone writing is too fucking stupid and too lazy to figure those things out, which aren't easy. It's much easier to say you're being modern and "cutting-edge" and not bother figure anything out. And that's mainly why movies these days suck so bad.

Josh

Name: Bird Jenkins
E-mail: Bird@jjandbird.com

Josh,

JJ and I use "Young Guns" as shorthand for all things Billy the Kid. When we say we want to remake YOUNG GUNS, we mean we intend to portray The Kid as a reckless sociopath with a devil-may-care attitude and a wicked laugh, as seen in YOUNG GUNS.

Those other versions you mentioned show a different Billy. I've seen three of the ones you named, THE KID FROM TEXAS, BILLY THE KID VS. DRACULA, and THE LEFT-HANDED GUN, not to mention GORE VIDAL's BILLY THE KID which was made for TNT or something. They show him as a loner, an alienated youth... I am interested in Billy the Kid as a notorious celebrity, a guy who's having one hell of a time being a desperado, not the melancholy Billy full of regrets...

And yes, we do have some fresh ideas to offer. First off, our Billy would be played by Heath Ledger. Secondly, we would like to deal with the events AFTER Billy was supposedly shot by Pat Garrett, when he lived a secret life as Brushy Bill Roberts in the panhandle of Texas. He did all kinds of cool stuff. He was a Pinkerton detective, a rustler of Mexican cattle, he joined a wild west show, and he lived to his nineties.

You are right, we do not own any rights to YOUNG GUNS. Fortunately, we don't need 'em. The script we have could have been a script for YG3, as it picks up where YG2 left off. YG is the definitive Billy the Kid story, and we have no desire to reinvent the wheel here. However, Brushy Bill's story is one that should definitely be told, and last we heard, the good folks at Morgan Creek aren't interested in reviving the franchise.

Anyway, thanks for the response, and you really need to put YG2 on that list of yours. Give it another chance, you'll be surprised how it's held up. Great cinematography, great Silvestri score. This shit's hot, I'm telling you.

I remain your humble servant,
Bird H. Jenkins

P.S. I also notice that Geoff Murphy did second unit on the LORD OF THE RINGS TRILOGY. I bet he shot Samwise Gamgees' hands or something.

Dear Bird:

So, you don't have the rights to "Young Guns," and you don't have Heath Ledger or Josh Hartnett signed. So what on earth makes you think you're actually making that film? Pure bravado? Considering you're talking about two hot, young stars, have you managed to raise at least $20 million, or are you both just living in a dream world?

Josh

Name: August
E-mail: joxerfan@hotmail.com

Dear Josh,

I was especially fond of Dana Andrews in "Laura," although I guess that was just before "Best Years." When I was a little boy, I remember my mother pointing him out on some soap opera on which he played the patriarch, and telling me that he had been a big matinee idol when she was young.

Hey I have an idea - since you are looking over some of your old work, why not get opinions from your fans here as to good scenes and moments? Adrienne Wilkinson (the actress who played Xena's daughter) did that at her fan club site, when she was putting together a new reel - she just asked fans what they thought some of her best moments had been.

If nothing else, it would make for good discussion here. I'll throw out a couple of bits from "Maze of the Minotaur" (which I've only seen once, at about 3 AM four years ago, so my memory is fuzzy.) At one point someone - Iolaus? - is in the maze, and the camera suddenly zooms away from him, going upwards towards the roof of the cave, and we see how many different choices of paths he has from overhead. Another, scary, bit was when the Minotaur manages to kill some guy who gets separated or trapped somehow. I think maybe a partition comes crashing down (?) and we only see his terror-filled eyes, and then a growing trail of blood - so like with Hitchcock, we don't see much of the violence, but can still imagine it.

Oh, and I'm very fond of the bit in "Soul Possession" where the camera circles pretty swiftly around Xena and Ares as they are arguing in the middle of the woods; plus the buzz of those cicadas or whatever they were may not have been intentional, but I liked it.

Regards,

August

Dear August:

Those cicadas were the death of the Xena sound men. Many entire scenes were looped in quite a few episodes due to them. If people want to talk about their favorite moments of my work (should they have any) that's fine, but I'm not urging anyone toward that, nor is it necessary. I just finished writing a new script, I've got my stuff out to an agency, I've got "Hammer" out to a video distributor, I've got a script at Sci-Fi Channel, I've got another script out at another company. I've got a few irons in the fire, and I'm not licked yet. I will survive, even if I don't make an indie horror film. But I do appreciate your trying to buck up my spirits.

Josh

Name: JJ
E-mail: jj@jjandbird.com

Josh? You lied? About liking Young Guns? I don't understand. Why would you lie about something that ridiculous?

I always thought of you as the guy I could go to for a straight answer. Not a nice guy who would blow smoke up my ass. I get that every day, everywhere else. Yes. Every day, everywhere else.

You have disappointed me.

Just JJ

ps... I still think that you didn't give Young Guns a chance though. That's just your crusty side shining through. I'll bet dollars to pesos that you secretly smiled when Billy told the Chinaman story in Young Guns 2... and if you really didn't see YGII, then save up some of your .99 cent store funds to rent it, you slippery son of a bitch.

Dear JJ:

I never said that I liked "Young Guns." I just didn't come right out and say I didn't like it. Since you said you going to remake it, I just didn't shit all over it, and that's mainly because I can't remember most of it. But it certainly seemed like thin, lame nonsense, and Emilio Estavez was a very weak Billy. I do recall that the tripping scene seemed entirely out of place. But why are you guys saying you're remaking "Young Guns" anyway? It's not like you've got the rights and are actually going to make "Young Guns III." You simply intend to make one more version of the Billy the Kid story. You're following in a very long line of film versions of William Bonney's life: There's the 1930 King Vidor version called "Billy the Kid" with Johnny Mack Brown (shot in the very early 70mm process, Grandeur-Realife); the 1941 version called "Billy the Kid" with Robert Taylor; "Billy the Kid Returns," 1939, with Roy Rogers; the famous 1943 version called "The Outlaw"; the 1949 version with Audie Murphy in "The Kid from Texas"; the 1950 version, "I Shot Billy the Kid,"; the 1954 version, "The Law Versus Billy the Kid"; the 1955 version, "The Parson and the Outlaw"; the 1958 version, "The Left-Handed Gun"; the 1974 Sam Peckinpah version, "Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid"; and let's not forget the 1966 "Billy the Kid Vs. Dracula." I certainly hope you have something new to add to all of these various versions, otherwise, what's the point?

Josh

Name: Joe Murphy
E-mail: joemurphy.1@email.com

Dear Josh:

I came across this essay recently, and remembered your Misuse of Presidential Power rant. I thought you'd like to see it. It sounds a bit over the top, but what do I know?

The essay is located here: http://www.thehappyheretic.com/current.htm

joe murphy

Dear Joe:

Thanks for sending the link (which leads to other links I perused as well). I certainly don't put any of this past Bush and co. What it says, in essence, is that Bush's governemnt knew there would be a 9/11-like attack in the very near future and let it happen to give us a reason to go into the middle east and secure their oil fields, plus give us new miltary bases in the area. I believe it. As is pointed out in the article, when G.W. Bush was informed of the 9/11 attacks he was reading to a class of school kids and hardly batted an eye, then went right back to reading. Did he already know? Good question. I've also heard, based on another conservative, right-wing think-tank, that the real reason for attacking Iraq, which everyone knows had nothing to do with 9/11, was to secure the Iraqi oil fields, and have a place for new military bases since we were imminently going to have to leave Saudi Arabia (which we have since done) so that if the Royal family of Saudi Arabia lost power, and we subsequently lost access to the Saudi oil, we'd still have the Iraqi oil, plus military bases nearby in Iraq so we could easily invade Saudi Arabia. I believe that, too. The bottom line is that there were many possible reasons for attacking Iraq, but the reasons Bush gave us were all lies. He didn't feel that we, the great unwashed American public, were smart enough to understand them, so he dumbed the reasons down (or sexed them up, as the British have said) so we, being the morons that we are, would understand them. I also have little doubt that this outing of the CIA operative goes all the way up to Bush himself, who vindictively outed her because her husband had the earliest proof that Bush was lying. All of the statements coming out of the Justice Department and Bush himself right now in regard to this felony sound eerily like the early statements of Nixon and his administration regarding Watergate. Why do you suppose they've turned it all over the redoubtable Ashcroft as opposed to an independent investigator and counsel? Because they want to bury it, that's why. Perhaps if the American news media wasn't so completely under the administration's thumb we might have some actual investigations going on. I only hope someone stays on this case and follows it right back up to Bush, where it undoubtedly belongs, and we get onto impeaching this utterly corrupt creep before he completely ruins our country. He's done a hell of a good job ruining it so far, and he's only been in office for three years. Give this asshole four more years and we'll end up looking like the Nazis to the rest of the world (if we don't already). I know I'm really going on here, but I'd like to quote Michael Moore from Bill Maher's last show: "There is no terrorist threat." It's all a ruse by the Bush and his cronies to keep us off-guard and in a state of constant panic so they can do anything they want. And every time Bush intones 9/11 regarding Iraq he dishonors all of the people who died there.

Josh

Name: Scott
E-mail:

Josh,

I recently saw Best Years of Our Lives, and greatly enjoyed it. I appreciate Wyler's invisible director approach, and makes me wish that style junkies like Michael Bay would take a flying leap, but I digress. What other Wyler films do you recommend? What became of Dana Andrews? I thought he did a great job as Fred, the war hero/soda jerk. Did he become a huge star after Best Years, or was he more of a working character actor? Anyway, I thought the world that Wyler created captured post war America quite well. It was interesting to see how America's troops were so respected, they were treated like celebrities upon their return.

Dear Scott:

I think it's an astounding movie, and perfectly achieved in every department. Dana Andrews was a big star for a while there in the '40s and '50s. I'm glad you brought up the concept of "Wyler's invisible director approach" because I think it's important, and it's something I've been thinking a lot about lately. I've just sent a bunch of my stuff off to a new agency in the hope of getting a new agent. So I sat here and watched many of my TV episodes with the idea of what would someone else consider "good direction." In most of those episodes I was exerting myself as director all over the place, but I always shoot the scenes in what I consider to be the most appropriate fashion to get the scene across, not to make the audience keep thinking, "Oh, there's a director at work here," which to me is the definition of pretentious. Nevertheless, I now think that's what people consider to be good direction -- when the director is jerking off and believes there's a joystick on the camera. But I don't direct that way and never have, with the exception of "Running Time," where the non-stop camera movement is part of the concept. William Wyler may be considered "invisible" now, but he was always doing things on a subtle directorial level. I do, too (certainly not putting myself in Wyler's league), but if what you're doing takes you emotionally out of the scene, it's bad direction. For instance, in the cab when the three soldiers are first coming home, there's that beautifully conceived matte shot of them in the rear-view mirror -- it's visually cool, but it enhances the scene, it doesn't detract from it. The entire scene of Dana Andrews going to the airplane junkyard and sitting in the turret of the nose gun is all direction and music, but it's emotionally appropriate so it doesn't stick out. The most important thing a director can do is to make the scenes work on an emotional level, which rarely comes automatically. It usually takes a fair amount of consideration on the part of the director, and with those TV scripts, a little to a lot of rewriting. My job as the director on those Xena episodes was to figure out what the point of each scene was, then make it happen. If it was supposed to be funny and it wasn't, then I would add a joke. But I would do whatever the scene needed to sell it. That's good direction, not just doing pointless camera moves.

Other great William Wyler films are: "Hell's Heroes," "Counsellor-At-Law," "These Three," "Dodsworth," "Dead End," "The Little Foxes," "Mrs. Miniver," "The Heiress," "Roman Holiday," "Carrie," "The Desperate Hours," "The Detective Story," "Freindly Persuasion, " "The Big Country," "Ben-Hur" and "Funny Girl." I'm even skipping a few, like "Wuthering Heights," The Letter" and "The Westerner," which are really considered classics, but they're not my favorites.

Josh

Name: Dylan
E-mail:

Hello Josh,

I've been enjoying the interesting conversation about horror films. I don't know how you will take this, but I've read yoour short story "Grave Error" quite a few times and I thought it was absolutely wonderful. Your Tim character has an incredible depth that few characters in horror stories have. When he gets together with the "thin, bespectacled girl" I am always interested. It's a horrorific story, and sometimes strangely romantic. I loved it.

I'm a fan of the horror genre, but I hate horror films with senseless violence, gore, and sex. I love atmosphere, performances, beautiful photography, beautifully rich and dark orchestral scores, and a good story (or a story that appeals to me personally, and there are a lot of different kinds of horror that attract me). Old fashioned matte paintings are another element in horror films that I love. I know that I like many more horror films than you, but I agree with you on many, many points. I also loved "Terrified" immensely. It was smart, beautiful (in describing the town, the interesting depth of the characters and the situations) and disturbing (the ending, obviously). "Terrified" has a sense of immense irony, which is a rare gift to horror. "Grave Error," of course, is also very ironic in many cases (once again, having Tim meeting the girl, and introducing the element of romance in this horrorific story, was just wonderful).

I haven't read "Dark of the Moon" yet (will sometime), but based on the two horror stories of yours that I've read, I'd say that you have a flair for the genre, and that you could make a brilliant horror film.

Anyway, I have a lot of favorite horror films (many of which I know you wouldn't like), but the one I believe is the finest horror movie ever made is the Robert Wise B&W panormaic masterpiece "The Haunting." The horror genre doesn't, and couldn't, get any better than that, in my personal opinion. Take care.

Dylan

Dear Dylan:

"The Haunting" is a very good film which knows exactly what it's trying to do and what emotions it's attempting to bring out, and it has sub-text, too. It's also very well-shot by an expert. As a little note, and this really interests me for some reason, this was the film Robert Wise made between "West Side Story" and "The Sound of Music." Talk about a change of pace.

Thanks for the nice comments on my stories.

Josh

Name: Cynthia E. Jones
E-mail: cynthiaejones@hotmail.com

Dear Josh,

http://moveon.org/

It's "Move On" not "Moving On," which is a religious site. "Move On" is an anti-Bush, Pro-Gore site...check it out again (with the right html).

Just had to correct that.

Meanwhile, I saw "Thirteen" the other day. It was gritty and well-written, but with no story arc save for "teenage girl gets in trouble, has friend who is bad influence, wakes up." It was kind of a worst-case-scenario movie, but not far from the sex and drugs thirteen-year-olds in Los Angeles are actually doing. I've been told to see "Lost in Translation," but haven't done so yet.

Have a good Wednesday.

Cindy

Dear Cindy:

I guess I'm supposed to be socked that thirteen-year-olds are doing drugs and having sex, except that when I was thirteen I was doing drugs and having sex, so it doesn't seem shocking to me at all. So far, one friend of mine saw "Lost in Translation" and wasn't impressed.

Good Thursday to you.

Josh

Name: Ben
E-mail: wakko@icon-stl.net

Josh,

I was going to ask if you believe in God in any way shape or form, but I see you already answered that question. I personally think that it's a good idea to take elements from many different religions and philosophies. I'm technically a Roman Catholic, but I really only go to church every sunday because it's routine. And there are several things that I take issue with the Church on. For instance, I think that it is very possible and likely that Jesus had brothers and/or sisters. Now for my question, and it may seem really mundane, but what was the last movie you saw that you really liked?
Thanks!

Dear Ben:

I just this moment finished watching "Kramer vs. Kramer" for the umpteenth time, and I love that movie. It so completely knows what it's doing and why, is handled with perfect taste on all levels, and it never fails to move me. Honestly, and I'm seriously not trying to be pedantic, there hasn't been a great movie in eleven years, since "Unforgiven," which was clearly a fluke in Clint Eastwood's career. And the entire decade before that film, the 1980s, really sucked. They don't make great movies anymore, or even very good films. As I stated in my last two reviews, and I honestly believe this, today's version of a good movie is actually just a bad movie with a few good moments in it. By good movie I mean a film you can get entirely caught up in and forget your life and the world around you, which is what I'm looking for in a movie, and I don't care what it's about or what genre it's in. The very best movies of recent days are still 30% to 50% boring at a minimum. Movies, at least for me, no longer have the ability to make a solid emotional connection. They're all bumbling along on a surface level, and usually failing on that level, too. And to make sure it's not just me, I constantly go back and check and older movies could regularly make this emotional connection, and modern movies cannot.

Josh


BACK TO Main Archive Page

BACK TO Current Q&A




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 ]

This site is the property of Josh Becker Copyright © 2003 Panoramic Pictures, All Rights Reserved.
Panoramic Pictures Logo