read through your movie reviews.
In order to have any currency, you have to say what
is good, what you like. As far as I could tell you simply
hate everything - passionately.
There has to be something agreeable out there.
Perhaps some prozac might be in order?
don't have to have any "currency," unless
I'm trying to purchase something. I think most modern
movies suck. If you think differently, go ahead and
state your opinion. If you believe they're actually
making good movies now, tell us some of them.
question concerns producing an indie. The budget I'm
aiming for is ten or twenty grand.
And on directing you've worked with Sam Raimi, am I
right? I'd like to know if you know how he filmed the
"the continued shot of the from the evils perpective"
In the Evil Dead II. What did he use to move the camera?
were the most quoted person in my Latin book in college.
If you can pull off a whole independent feature for
ten or twenty thousand, I commend you. The shots you
are referring to were called "The Force,"
and it was done in many different ways: the camera mounted
on a one-foot 2x4 with one person holding both ends,
or a longer 2x4 with two people holding either end,
or on the end of a long pole to go smashing through
the windshield, or on a Steadi-cam, or sometimes just
hand-held with a very wide-angle lens.
to hell baoring movie
post this because I get a variety of letters every week
sort of like this, and I always wonder what got the
person to get as far as they did with the Q&A process
and then only give that message.
what is your opinion on showing advertisements before
movies at movie theatres? I don't mean the previews
for other movies. Nor am I referring to the slide projected
ads they show, along with movie trivia questions that
you know all the answers to because they show the same
frickin' ones before every movie. No, I am referring
to the commercials they show before the previews, but
after they've turned down the lights and started the
projector. I personally am sick of them. Especially
those condescending "Stop Movie Piracy" ones
that show some grunt who's worked on movies for 20 years,
and yet, strangely enough, was only important enough
to be aknowledged when the movie studios decided to
start caring about movie piracy. I'm all in favor of
people with seemingly unimportant jobs in movies getting
more recognition, but using them as spokespeople against
movie piracy is just exploitation. Anyway, in case that
rant made you forget what my question was, what is your
opinion of showing commercials before movies.
P.S. Feel free to comment on Movie Piracy, too.
never liked it, but if it helps keep movie theaters
open then I accept it. I fear that movie theaters will
go away and people will watch everything at home on
the large-screen TVs. As for movie piracy, it's just
one more panic and fear move on Hollywood's part. They
love to panic and freak out. Sound will put us out of
business, TV is going to put us out of business, video
is going to put us out of business, DVDs will put us
out of business, piracy will put us out of business.
Shut the fuck up! Hollywood is afriad of all technology,
as well as just about everything else, including their
shadows. And it's the worst kind of herd mentality.
That's how I see it, but I could be wrong.
Cynthia E. Jones
I rented "A Decade Under the Influence" on
Netflix and watched the first installment last night.
It's part of the "Docurama" series from IFC,
which I know you love. Have you seen it yet?
It sums up how "Easy Rider" sort of opened
up the playing field to any young, hungry director who
wanted to start their career, and had their 'finger
on the pulse' of 'young people today.' They would just
hand out $300,000 to anyone who had a pitch to give--oh,
the humanity! (There was even one story about a guy
delivering a pizza to a producer. He said, 'Yeah, green
light it, whatever,' to the hapless pizza man.) The
glorious, glorious 70s. I now have about a hundred more
films I need to see. I've always known the 70s were
a great time for film, but didn't have a reference point
to understand how it happened, and then went away again.
Do you have a personal 'top 10' or any particularly
fave films of that era? I have a tendency to get into
one director at a time, but I know I'm missing a lot
by using that system.
Anyway, check it out. It was Ted Demme's last project
before he passed away. It's also much better to watch
saw it on IFC, and of course I completely enjoyed it.
Good clips, too. I've posted this before, but it's worth
posting again. Within a thirty-six month span,1972-74
(when I was in high school), here are the newly released
films that I saw in the movie theater and liked: Slaughterhouse-Five,
Play it Again, Sam, Murmur of the Heart, Minnie and
Moskowitz, The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean, Lady
Sings the Blues, Junior Bonner, Joe Kidd, Jeremiah Johnson,
The Heartbreak Kid, The Godfather, The Getaway, Frenzy,
Fellini's Roma, Everything You Always Wanted to Know
About Sex, The Emigrants, The Effects of Gamma Rays
on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds, The Discreet Charm of
the Bourgeoisie, Deliverance, The Cowboys, The Candidate,
Cabaret, Fat City, Ulzana's Raid, Westworld, The Way
We Were, Walking Tall, Two English Girls, A Touch of
Class, Theater of Blood, Such a Gorgeous Kid Like Me,
Sounder, Sleuth, The Sting, Soylent Green, Sleeper,
Sisters, Serpico, Scarecrow, Save the Tiger, Payday,
Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid, Papillion, Paper Moon,
The Paper Chase, The New Land, O Lucky Man, Mean Streets,
The Long Goodbye, The Last Tango in Paris, The Last
Detail, The Iceman Cometh, The Homecoming, High Plains
Drifter, The Harder They Come, The Exorcist, A Delicate
Balance, The Day of the Jackal, Cries and Whispers,
Cinderella Liberty, Bang the Drum Slowly, American Graffiti,
Young Frankenstein, A Woman Under the Influence, The
White Dawn, The Towering Inferno, The Taking of Pelham
One Two Three, Playtime, The Phantom of the Paradise,
The Odessa File, Murder on the Orient Express, The Longest
Yard, Hearts and Minds, Harry and Tonto, The Groove
Tube, Going Places, The Godfather Part II, The Gambler,
Earthquake, Death Wish, Day For Night, The Conversation,
Claudine, Chinatown, California Split, Butley, Blazing
Saddles, Billy Jack, Badlands, The Apprenticeship of
Duddy Kravitz, and Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore.
Juan Jose Espinoza Aguilar
i'm from Venezuela, i love all Sam Raimi's films and
i notice that your name was on the credits of The Evil
Dead, (camera operator or something like that...) so
i search for your name and i find out that you are a
director, so i find Running Time and Lunatics. Great
movies!, One question ¿was Running Time made
film, buddy. 16mm motion picture film. You can't get
that kind of contrast on video or digital yet. The only
sharper black and white movie made recently, I think,
was "Pi," which was shot on 16mm reversal
film, which, like super-8, you're running the positive
original through the camera, as opposed to shooting
negative stock like everybody else. As yet, film still
looks quite a bit better than any video or digital medium.
saw this in Harpers:
"Lightning struck the actor who plays Jesus Christ
in Mel Gibson's current film project, "The Passion
of Christ," during a shoot in Italy."
Just goes to show, casting is SO important.
Is he okay? I mean, the movie's done, right? Was he
struck with lightning after the shoot?
I have a friend we call Hollywood Brad. He works steadily
in the film industry and he's always letting us know
how knowledgeable he is about movies. Ever since we
got into an argument about the merits of YOUNG GUNS,
I feel like Hollywood Brad has been very condescending
The other day, he told me a story about the silent era
in Hollywood. He said that back before cable, video,
or even television, movies were a disposable product,
kind of like a can of beans. Once they had their theatrical
run, they were worthless. Therefore, they were to be
used and then thrown away. According to Hollywood Brad,
they were making movies at such a high volume, they
got rid of the "used movies" by dumping them
from the Santa Monica pier into the Pacific Ocean. Hollywood
insists there are hundreds of film cans deep below the
pier to this day, each filled with a decayed and forgotten
Surely he's pulling my leg. These films had to be worth
something to somebody, even back then. I know that most
of the films made before the advent of sound have been
lost, but I thought that was due to the film deteriorating
over time. Have you heard this story of studios dumping
truckloads of film into the ocean?
"I gots to know"
I never heard that. He is right, though, that after
their initial theatrical run movies were considered
worthless. Very big pictures got re-releases, like "King
Kong" or "Gone With the Wind," but not
many. But considering that the Santa Monica Pier was
already there and it was a big tourist attraction, I
don't think they'd allow anyone to dump garbage, cans
of film, or anything else directing into the ocean there.
I mean, deteriorating nitrate film stock is poisonous.
Which doesn't mean it wasn't ever done, but not regularly.
And why bother hauling it 20 miles to the ocean when
you could just toss it into the furnace right there?
Yeah I think I know what you mean about that, The Wild
Wild West was pretty serious sometimes. The fights had
this edge to them, it was awesome. I think it was compared
to Xena. I didn't know the sets were cheap, but I guess
they kind of had to be since they always got broken
in the action scenes. It was like "Bam!" James
West knocks five stuntmen through a piano!
I don't remember the shows you mentioned, but I watched
some of Gunsmoke that was pretty cool. Do you know if
any of those are still re-run? Maybe on TVLand? I think
I'd like to check them out. What was your favorite show
changed, of course. I loved "Get Smart" and
"Twilight Zone" and "Batman" and
"The Green Hornet" and "Combat"
and "Lost in Space," then a bit later it was
"Star Trek," and, as I mentioned, "Laredo,"
and then, as I began going to more and more movies,
I began losing interest in TV shows. I did watch "Mary
Hartman, Mary Hartman" with dedication, but by
the mid-'70s I had almost stopped watching all TV shows,
except Johnny Carson. Then when Carson went off it really
put a nail in the whole thing.
You know, I always thought that a gaffer was down the
ladder from the DP, but Plannette hinted that it was
otherwise. In one conversation I remember him referring
to a DP as a 'cameraman', as in the guy that does the
framing and such while Jim is off doing. He has been
a gaffer/head lighting technician for 30 years or so
and it seems like he takes charge of the lighting on
films. Maybe he just works with DPs that allow him more
creative input than most gaffers get? I suspect that
most gaffers are simply technicians, but Plannette is
perhaps an exception. I know for Soderbergh's movies
in particular Plannette is very involved in determining
the lighting scheme while Steven works on framing and
blocking the actors.
Speaking of actors, I was wondering if you ever write
scripts with actors in mind? I've been shooting a bunch
of short movies the last few weeks and I find it much
easier to write a script when I already have the actor
in mind. If I know so and so is going to be available
to shoot, I write the story with their character in
mind. Maybe for features this is a bad idea though.
In a way it limits the creative process because some
of the decisions are already made for me. But I've come
to realize I'm pretty lazy about writing scripts and
having an actor already in mind gives me a kick to get
the stuff written.
having an actor in mind helps, then use it. I wrote
"Running Time" with Bruce in mind, and I'm
working on another story with Bruce in mind for the
lead. Most times, though, I don't think about actors,
just the characters I'm writing about and what makes
them tick. Whatever works for you.
I don't mean to be needlessly argumentative, but the
DP decides on the lighting. He may well convey this
to the gaffer in just a few well-chosen words, but the
DP designs the lighting, and that's their main job.
Many DPs work with the same gaffer over and over so
they don't have to go into big explanations, but nevertheless,
the DP makes the lighting decisions. And when you're
working with the very top-end guys, like Allen Daviau
("E.T.") or John Toll ("Legends of the
Fall") or Gerald Herschfeld ("Young Frankenstein"),
there's no question that they have all the authority.
In the case of Steven Soderbergh, who shoots his own
pictures, and probably doesn't know all that much about
lighting, he may just leave it up to the gaffer.
You make a great point about photography and production
design not saving a crappy story. I thought Road to
Perdition was pretty good for about 15-20 minutes but
then I began to completely lose interest in everything
that was going on. I get the feeling that many filmmakers
these days put too much emphasis on making a story "cinematic"
rather than simply entertaining. Cinematic and entertaining
are not the same thing if you ask me. I feel kind of
bad that Perdition was Conrad Hall's last film because
its a shame his skills were wasted on such a dull movie.
I did a documentary/interview for class with lighting
director/gaffer James Plannette who has lit a variety
of movies from Young Frankenstein and E.T. to Legends
of the Fall and Oceans 11. His philosophy is that, on
his best films, the lighting and photography have been
a far second to the script. He always reads the scripts
before he does a movie and tries to make sure the lighting
is working for the script and not the other way around.
He said a movie like Road to Perdition is something
he could never work on because he can't understand spending
so much time on perfecting a shot. He thinks that perfect
is boring and that spending too much time on the photography
can take all the spontaneity out of the acting because
there are such large breaks in between shots. On the
other hand, Jim felt that lighting could certainly help
a bad script to some extent. He said that so many hollywood
scripts right now are so terrible that the DPs and lighting
guys feel responsible in trying to make bad ideas at
least halfway interesting to the audience in the way
they are shot. I got the impression that he's a little
tired of huge productions that look great as far as
photography but mean nothing when it comes down to it.
I think that a movie like Kill Bill is an example of
this stupidity, a film that is all about style and looks
great but is a big puffball of nothing. Its so weird
that we're in a time of the greatest number of filmmakers
ever and yet no one seems interested in just telling
a compelling story. There always seems to be some other
goal and that irritates me.
course I have my own theory on this. The reason young
filmmakers have turned away from well-written scripts
is that they're very hard to create. A good script takes
a lot of thought, a lot of effort, and a fair amount
of intelligence. Having neither the intelligence nor
the tenacity to write a good script, it's much easier
to discount the whole thing and just say that you're
not into "narrative filmmaking," whereas the
truth is that most filmmakers now are simply not smart
enough to handle it -- Quentin Tarantino being a perfect
example, and Charlie Kaufman being another good example.
I repeat this for one and all to consider -- feature
filmmaking is a narrative form. Period. If you want
to make non-narrative films, make shorts. But features
are too long to sit through without a narrative to pull
to clarify, James Plannette didn't light those films
you mentioned, he was the gaffer, which is the head
electrician, and he put the lights where he was told
to by the various DPs, such as Allan Daviau, John Toll,
and Gerald Herschfeld, which isn't to say that the gaffer
isn't an integral person to a crew, but you can't say
he lit it, he's just one of the people on the DP's crew.
On B-Movies - I think Hollywood still makes them, but
they're made-for-TV movies now. Especially made-for
cable (well, ok, and direct-to-video too.)
On Tarantino and his boasts about "bitch-slapping"
guys - I recall Jimmy Fallon on SNL commenting on that
by observing "Memo to Tarantino: you're white."
On the best TV show ever - well, for sheer consistent
dramatic quality, you're right - it would have to be
"Twilight Zone," especially because of the
anthology format. Stories could be much more daring
without the need to use and keep the same recurring
cast. Plus, there were so many talented and then-unknown
young actors who got early gigs and were able to show
off their prowess. Do you know about writers though?
Other than Serling himself, did he use a regular stable
of writers, or did free-lancers contribute scripts too?
I also loved the original Star Trek, as well as its
first successor, Next Generation. A lot of the episodes
of the old series really don't hold up well, but the
best - like Ellison's "City on the Edge of Forever"
- are as good to me as any Twilight Zone story.
I did always think those rotating Sunday mystery "movies"
on NBC (Columbo, McCloud, etc.) were extremely well
done. Another favorite of mine would be "The Avengers,"
but for style and acting and comedy, not for anything
Hey I just read "The Cascade Effect." Pretty
good - a simple idea, that is very original. Could be
done with splashy special effects, or done very simply,
with lots of shots of people sweating in control rooms
and so forth. (Not that you need any advice from me,
but I'd somehow not have the pilot find out his wife
is leaving him while she's on the shuttle he's piloting,
just because it reminds me of "Airplane."
Then again, I liked "Airplane.")
Any plans for this story?
no plans for "Cascade Effect." I would have
to disagree about TV movies being the new B-movies.
The films made for HBO and Showtime are some of the
best films being made, and generally far more intelligent
than most of the theatrical features. Honestly, the
As became the Bs. "Star Wars" and "Raiders"
and that kind of shit are really just B-serials with
huge budgets. But if there are Bs now, it's the independents.
Even the worst Fox or Lifetime TV movie has a higher
budget and a longer schedule than any B-movies of yore.
The closest you can come is probably now is one-hour
series TV, like Xena and Herc, where we had seven days
to shoot 44-minutes. Most B-movies were 5-7 day schedules
to shoot 60-75 minute movies. You really have to have
your shit wired tightly to work on that fast of a schedule.
I liked "The Avengers" when Diana Rigg was
in it, but even still it was a silly, tongue-in-cheek
show. If you ever get a chance, they published Harlan
Ellison's original script for "City on the Edge
of Forever" in a collection called "Science
Fiction Plays" (I lent it someone years ago and
never got it back) and it was a lot better than the
script that ended up being shot.
How's it going. I'm glad you liked The Prisoner, that
was way cool. What do you think of The Wild Wild West,
I thought that was awesome. I heard it was cancelled
because of TV violence but I thought that was just weird
because other than those awesome stunt fights I really
didn't see much violence in it.
a kid I loved it. But you look back at it now and it's
a horrible-looking show, way over-lit with with really
cheap sets. I do appreciate the seriousness of its tone,
though. Does anyone remember "Larado" with
Neville Brand and William Smith? I though that was a
great show when I was a kid, but it only lasted one
season and was never shown again. Or "The Guns
of Will Sonnet" with Walter Brennan. No brag, just
I was wondering if you heard of the book: Understanding
Movies (9th Edition) by Louis Giannetti. If, so what
is your oppinion of it?
The reason I ask is because you are obviously movie
critic, and the book focuses on movie criticism.
I know you stated once that there are only two movies
in the world, one is good and the other burns your butt
from having to sit down for hours watching it. But I
was wondering if you have more of a solid criteria in
criticizing films. For, as your probably agree, there
are so many parts of a film, and the whole is only as
great as its weakest link.
I've only read reviews, and one reviewer says he breaks
a movie down like so:
Mise en Scène
an old book, which I have. We used it as the text book
in a film class I took in 1974. It's also the sort of
film book that I don't like, where he's over-intellectualizing
everything. For me the very first criteria is the story,
is it worth telling in the first place? Then, is the
story being told well? Are the performances helping
to tell the story? Is the direction, photography, camera
movement, and editing helping? But for me, everything
exists in a movie to aid in the telling of the story,
whatever it may be. Having the most expensive, pretty
photography or elegant production design, like "Road
to Perdition," for instance, will interest me for
about fifteen minutes, but after that it's entirely
up to the script to carry me along. In that case, the
story began as a Japanese comic book series, became
a series of Japanese movies, then an edited-together
American version ("Shogun Assassin"), then
an American graphic novel, then finally "Road to
Perdition," which by then had lost all of its story
integrity along the way. Therefore, even though it's
beautifully photographed, with great production design,
the movie sucks because the script is bad. Sam Mendes'
direction is also dull and pretentious, which certainly
didn't help. So, first and foremost is the story and
the script, and if those aren't good everything else
will sink with them.
there! I was just srufin here and happened to come upon
your sight. I was wondering, if the Jeff Gehron of "The
Four Feathers" is the same Jeff Gehron who taught
me in the 5th and 6th grade? Whoa, that is just great.
I saw the picture and um yeah I think it's him. He used
to bring his guitar to class sometimes and that picture
is just the way I remeber him um, 13 years ago. If you
have any idea would you please let me know. Thanks,
idea of what? Where he is? In LA. But that's all I know.
He's a wonderful guitar player.
Josh, love your work and your website! Was just wondering
if you had ever seen Patrick McGoohan's cult TV series
'the prisoner' from the late sixties..
Excellent series. Really well made episodes, well sureal.
watched it avidly when it first aired in the '60s and
enjoyed it very much. It certainly does win for oddball
series of its decade. I used to have nightmares about
that giant bubble asphyxiating me.
thought you and my fellow Beckeristas (or should that
be Beckerians?) might find this Associated Press story
ESPN fires columnist over remarks
NEW YORK - ESPN has fired Gregg Easterbook as a freelance
contributor to its Web site after the columnist wrote
that the producers of the movie "Kill Bill"
were "Jewish executives" who "worship
money above all else."
Easterbrook apologized for the remarks last week, as
has The New Republic magazine, which posted Easterbrook's
comments in an online column on its Web site.
ESPN dismissed Easterbrook last week as a freelance
contributor to its Web site, where he wrote a column
called "Tuesday Morning Quarterback." In a
statement, the sports network said Easterbrook had made
comments "that were highly offensive and intolerable."
In the column, Easterbrook was critical of "Kill
Bill" and its director, Quentin Tarantino, saying
they glorified violence. He criticized the studio that
released the film, Miramax, and its parent, Walt Disney
Co., saying it was "wallowing in gore" for
He noted that Disney and Miramax are both run by Jewish
executives, Michael Eisner and Harvey Weinstein, respectively.
"Yes, there are plenty of Christian and other Hollywood
executives who worship money above all else, promoting
for profit the adulation of violence," Easterbrook
wrote in the column. "Does that make it right for
Jewish executives to worship money above all else, by
promoting for profit the adulation of violence?"
Easterbrook apologized for the remark last week and
said he was guilty of "mangling words."
ESPN spokesman Chris LaPlaca said the decision to fire
Easterbrook was made solely within ESPN. ESPN and Miramax
are both owned by Disney.
all else fails, there's always anti-semitism to fall
back on. For goodness sake don't point any fingers at
Quentin Tarantino himself, who's not a Jew, for making
"Kill Bill." As though anyone tells Quentin
what to make at this point. There's no shortage of idiots
in this world, that's for sure.
You already know what I thought of "Mystic River".
I spoke with my boss, since he went to see it the same
night that I did and he did not like very much either
for the same reasons. Although, we both felt that the
ugliness of the cinematography was approriate to the
story. I know that bothered you, but I understood why
it looked the way it did.
Someone said to me the look reminded them of "In
the Bedroom" and there is a lot of truth to that
with the way the Dp used available light to give the
feel of ugliness.
I forgot to tell you when I talked to you last weekend
that we also went to see the Brazilian documentary "Bus
174" which is about a street kid who holds up a
bus in Rio and then has to take hostages and has a standoff
with the Police for about twelve hours.
Most of the footage comes from the live news footage
of the ill fated event and it ends tragically, but what
was so good about it were the interviews and how the
filmmmakers gave a history of the highjacker and humanized
him as well as showing the problems with the police
in Brazil and how ill prepared they are to handle situations
like this one.
Lastly, I was wondering if you had ever seen the Mike
Binder film "Crossing the Bridge"which was
shot across the border in Windsor and in Detroit. I
was made in 1992 and I remember when it came out in
Detroit, but I never went to see it, however, it was
on cable the other night, so I watched it.
I thought the film had a lot of potential, but it was
also seriously flawed and the main plot of smuggling
drugs across the border was its biggest flaw. It seemed
liek a forced idea, but it detracted from the characters
which I though were well developed.
Scott (AKA "Huggy Bear")
I did see "Crossing the Bridge," which seemed
like utter hooey to me. I never heard about anybody
ever smuggling pot from Windsor, Ontario to Detroit
-- Windsor's a little town and Detroit is major metropolis
where all types of drugs have always been available,
why would you need to go to another country and hassle
with an international border. It's ridiculous. Mike's
movie before it, "Coupe DeVille," is equally
ridiculous (that you could total a cherry '59 Cadillac
and have it repaired over the weekend -- oh, sure!).
I didn't like his HBO show, either. He was in my cabin
at Camp Tamakwa several different years.
I admire what your friend and yourself are doing on
his 16mm movie, by shooting piece meal. Ive tried this
twice recently and both feature attempts died due to
losing one or more lead "actors" and ive decided
NEVER to try this again. Your friend must have the patients
of a saint. What are your views on the Sat&Sun type
feature shoot? Have you ever produced one? Im planning
a simple 2 actor one room feature now (after learning
from my mistakes) and plan on shooting it over a long
weekend.Its a mad crazy rush but at least it gets DONE.
At the end of the day thats all im worried about now,
getting it done...
Oh yeah, can those 100 foot metal spool'd reels be loaded
into a Bolex in daylight or is it essential to be done
in the changing bag? I heard someone say it doesnt have
to be dark... Thanks for your help
100 foot rolls of 16mm are daylight loads and can be
loaded in the daylight, although it's always best to
try and find a place with subdued lighting, as opposed
to direct sunlight, like in a car, or just in the house
before you go outside. Anyway, I'd never shoot a feature
film this way, but it's been working for my friend Paul.
As I said, he and his best friend star in it, so he
never has trouble wrangling either of his lead actors.
I must say that trying to shoot an entire feature in
weekend sounds a little crazy. Trying to shoot a feature
in five days, like the old days, always sounded like
a terrific challenge to me. I shot "Running Time"
in 10 days and that seemed pretty fast. Good luck and
let us know how it goes.
The best part of "Starsky and Hutch" was there
pimp informer "Huggy Bear" played by Antonio
I was working with a photographer in Miami back in 1994
and we were eating in a cuban restaurant in South Beach
and I looked over at a table and there was "Huggy
Bear". I said, "Hey that's Huggy Bear!"
The photographer had no idea what I was talking about.
It was the weirdist thing, but not as weird as after
I e-mailed you about Stqarsky and Hutch I went to the
Internet Movie data base" to check something and
saw that a "Starsky and Hutch" movie is in
production with Owen Wilson and Ben Stiller.
Oh Boy! Another Movie made from a bad TV show.
BTW Josh, I use to love "Combat," "The
Green Hornet," "Batman," "Lost in
Space," and "Gilligan's Island." when
I was a kid too. I could not watch any of them now.
I guess there are many reasons why we get along.
met Antonio Fargas. He was in Detroit appearing in Sam's
movie "Crimewave," which I'm also in briefly.
All of Huggy Bear's scenes were edited out, though.
People yelled that at him every night out on the streets
where we were shooting, "Hey! Huggy Bear!"
I got into a recent discussion with JJ about B-movies.
It seems neither one of us could really put a finger
on what exactly a B-movie is. Is it a cheap film, done
on a shoestring budget? Is it a "genre" film
like EVIL DEAD or FORBIDDEN PLANET? Is it any film that
has no pretensions of being anything other than escapist
It seems the original definition of a B-movie was anything
that played second on a double feature. Traditionally,
these were exploitive and brainless cheapies. Now there
are no double features and the independent film movement
has done a lot to counter people's earlier notions of
what a low budget fim can be.
However, in this age of movie studios' brainless excesses,
where movies like STAR WARS and FAST AND THE FURIOUS
are the order of the day, are these still considered
B-movies? They're just as brainless, exploitive, and
escapist as ever, but are made with "A-list talent".
Basically, if you could give me your opinion on this
topic, I'd be very grateful. Also, would YOUNG GUNS
qualify as a B-movie?
all about the budget and the use of stars. If you had
a star in your film it was an A-film. But since "Star
Wars," the Bs have become the As. Both "Star
Wars" and "Raiders of the Lost Ark" are
B-movies made with A-budgets. "Young Guns"
was an A-movie because it had a large budget and many
hot, young stars. Hollywood doesn't make many B-movies
anymore, except perhaps these shitty horror movies they're
now putting out, but even still they have large budgets
(like the new "Texas Chainsaw Massacre," for
example, where seemingly all of the energy, wit, visual
artistry, and impact were replaced by money; the same
goes for "Road to Perdition"). Also, a B-movie
generally had one, two or three weeks to shoot. If you
had four or more weeks of shooting, you had moved up
to B+ or A-. Most of the cool Bs of the 1940s and '50s
were shot in five days! And you'd better have your shit
really wired to shoot a feature film in five days, let
me tell you.
times you've mentioned a friend of yours who has been
shooting an MOS 16mm feature on weekends for several
years. Could you elaborate on his method? Does he just
take the camera around town with no equipment or crew
and get a handful of shots every weekend? Does he play
the main character himself? Surely the same actors haven't
been showing up for years, keeping their appearances
consistent. How does he even stay focused on this single
I've read about a few filmmakers doing something like
this to make their first feature, but I was wondering
if you had any nitty-gritty details on the process that
are worth sharing.
Thanks for the time.
name you've got there. My friend Paul has been making
this film of his for about five years now, and he's
probably got three-quarters of it shot. I've come in
and out as his cameraman, and since his Bolex busted,
it's been shot exclusively with my Bolex for the past
year. He and his buddy, Robby, are the two stars, and
frequently Paul shoots the shots of Robby, then Robby
shoots the shots of Paul. Robby looks just like he looks
for the film, so that hasn't been a problem, but Paul
is supposed to have long hair and a beard, which has
caused him a lot of trouble, like it stopped him from
getting a decent job for several years. Finally, he
cut his hair and shaved, and now he uses a wig and make-up.
But it's a very simple story that mainly involves the
two of them, that covers several years, thus taking
advantage of the long shooting schedule, so he has scenes
in all seasons, something you don't see very often in
big-budget movies. he's also switching between black
and white and color -- and has a good reason for it,
too, which I won't reveal -- which is a visually cool
thing to do that adds no extra cost. Most of the film
was shot MOS, even though there are some dialog scenes
within this section, but he shot them very cleverly,
either in long shot, or shadow, or over-the-shoulder,
so they can be looped later without having to match
lip-synch. He intends, oncew he's made some more money,
to put together two weekends of synch-sound shooting
that will intercut throughout the film, and give the
impression it's all in synch sound. It's all pretty
clever, and I think it will be a unique, interesting,
and hopefully funny, film. And since it's in 16mm, he
intends to blow-up to 35mm. It's a way to go without
Cynthia E. Jones
I've never really liked too many television shows. I
guess it's because when I was in high school, stuff
like "Full House" or "Who's the Boss"
was on. I would search for old (and new) "Twilight
Zone" episodes on Saturday nights, which were always
"Twin Peaks" had me for the first season (in
1990), then it fell apart. It should've been a mini-series.
I've rented the first season of "Six Feet Under"
and that's great, but I don't know if that counts, since
it's cable. "South Park" consistently makes
"The Simpsons," I suppose, would get my vote
for best show ever. I've seen pretty much every episode.
I've always preferred movies to television. I can't
get past the over-lighting and the incredibly bad scripts.
And since I don't have cable, it'll probably stay that
way. The TV is a monitor for my DVD player these days...
before that, it was a monitor for my VCR.
I'm with you. I got out of the habit of watching TV
shows somewhere in the '70s. I did watch most of "Sex
and the City," I must admit, and it's a good show,
but it's completely used itself up. I haven't gotten
into any of the other HBO shows, although I'm sure they're
well-made. So, getting back to movies, hasn't anyone
else bothered to see "Mystic River"? Considering
it hasn't gotten a negative review that I've seen, and
I thought it sucked the big one, I figured someone would
dispute me by this time.
Another British show that I loved was "The Young
Ones". There was some great humor in that show.
I loved '"M*A*S*H" and "All in the Family"
too, but I agee that "M*A*S*H" became weak
towards the end there.
I must admit that I was a big "Starsky and Hutch"
fan when I was a kid, but I recently watched an episode
not too long ago and it was bad. My fahter liked to
was already a bit too old for "Starsky and Hutch,"
and all I ever saw was the the skid marks on the pavement
from their rehearsals before they did any car stunt.
Within our group those became known as "Starsky
and Hutch Marks." I must admit that I quite liked
the first few season of "ER." I do think it
used it's entire premise up in three seasons, as we
followed Noah Wyle through his residency. Once he was
a doctor, though, the show was over. TV-wise, I also
really liked "SCTV," as well as the first
three or four seasons of "Saturday Night Live,"
but there's a show that's gone on 20 years too long.
It's real title now out to be "Beating a Dead Horse,"
which is what they do to every gag. As a little kid
I loved "Combat," "The Green Hornet,"
"Batman," "Lost in Space," and "Gilligan's
Island." Luckily, I grew up.
"The Twilight Zone" and "Star Trek"
(TOS) were both good, as was "Python", but
I'll put my money overseas on "Fawlty Towers".
There were virtually no "misses" in that series,
only hits. The writing was superb and Cleese himself
feels it is his best work. I would give honorable mention
to "All in the Family" and "M*A*S*H"
because they were more ambitious than any other series.
Not much has been done since that those two series didn't
do first and better.
I started "Cascade Effect" but was interrupted
by my kids. I'll have some thoughts on it for you when
I'm through. Thanks as always,
Towers" is a good choice, although there weren't
very many of them as it was a short-lived show. But
they were all funny, well-written and well-performed
("When the German guests arrive, whatever you do,
don't mention the war"). Nevertheless, I don't
think it was really striving for anything more than
what was on the surface, which in that case was very
good, but still. "All in the Family" was striving
for more than the surface laughs, and therefore I'd
say it was a more important show, if not quite as funny
as "Fawlty Towers." I absolutely loved "M*A*S*H"
for it's first four or five seasons, but I got very
weary of it by the end, when Alda had really taken over
and it became rather self-righteous. Still, these are
all interesting choices.
E-mail: upon request
have a query about Spaghetti Westerns. I see Lee Van
Cleef and Clint Eastwood saying their lines in English
(usually looped). But quite a few of the other actors
in the same scenes appear to be speaking another language
(Italian? Spanish?) and then are dubbed in English.
Why is this? I tend to think it was because they hired
local actors for the minor parts that didn't speak English.
On the best t.v. show front-- I guess I'll say "Seinfeld".
The humor still makes me spew what I'm drinking, and
its commentary on human foibles I think will always
hold up for the most part. And lately, now that I am
catching the reruns again, I am noticing that I'm impressed
with the terrific way they ended the last scene in each
episode. It just always seems to hit the perfect final
punch line just right and then freeze frames for maximum
**Kramer points to George's golfball ...<beat>...
"Titleist?" **George falls to the floor with
his pants around his ankles, utterly defeated: "Vandelay!
Say Vandelay Industries!" Jerry: "And you
want to be my latex salesman."
Hmm, maybe for similar reasons I'd nominate "The
As for Sci-Fi/Fantasy being used as a powerful metaphor
for drama about the "real" human condition,
social problems, subtext, etc...
I emmensely enjoy and am often moved by --
"Star Trek: The Next Generation"
Plus I can't get enough of Xena, but not for those reasons.
can certainly go along with "The Simpsons."
Your assessment of why the secondary characters in the
spagetti westerns were dubbed is exactly correct. That's
why it's always better to shoot in English-speaking
countries, so then the local actors all speak English.
That's partially why all the low-budget films they now
shoot in Romania and Bulgaria all suck. I always liked
"Seinfeld," but I never thought it was great.
loved the script for your Indiana Jones parody. What's
your favorite parody movie? And are there any movies
you like even though you know no one else likes them?
I know there are plenty of movies that you don't like
that everyone else loves.
my favorite parody film is "Kentucky Fried Movie,"
then "Airplane!," which doesn't hold up very
well. The "Naked Gun" films were good, too.
It's a very difficult genre where most films generally
fail completely. As for films I like that weren't well-received,
well, I love "Who'll Stop the Rain," which
was universally panned that year, whereas the maudlin,
drippy "Coming Home" was universally praised
that same year and won Oscars. I quite liked Stallone's
first film as writer-director, "Paradise Alley,"
which was basically despised. I thought "Rob Roy"
was FAR superior to the miserable "Braveheart"
the same year. That's all that's coming to mind at the
I saw that same interview with Mike Wallace and Rod
Serling, in fact, I researched his life a lot and found
that is the only known full length interview shot on
video with him.
He was a very humble guy and he worked long hours to
make that show what it is and I believe the television
viewing audience in America is better off for it. I
loved "Monty Python's Flying Circus" too.
I used to watch it on PBS when I was a teenager.
I liked "Monthy Python's Flying Circus" as
well, but it was still a somewhat hit-or-miss show,
much moreso, I'd say, than "Twilight Zone."
I also liked the original "Star Trek" very
much. I never got into any of the follow-ups, though.
I havent submitted for quite a few months, here is a
list of film's, tell me what you thought of each?
Kill Bill: Vol. 1
Rules of Attraction
And do you have any news on what is going on with the
new Modesty Blaise film, cos it seems to have no official
cast, except for the leading actress?
far as I know, "Modesty Blaise" was made and
finished. I thought it would be available on video by
now, but Scott and I never communicate, so I don't know.
The only one of those films I saw was "25th Hour,"
which seemed like a nothing. I really got bored stuck
in that nightclub, just like Phillip Seymour Hoffman.
And the big drama about beating him up seemed completely
forced. Meanwhile, I wouldn't see "Kill Bill"
if they were giving money away.
there anyway that I could purchase a poster of "Running
Time" through your site or any site that you might
know of? I didn't know if you might even have a couple
rolled up somewhere. That is my favorite movie, and
coming from a strong devotion to Hitchcock, I especially
like the daring "one-shot" approach. Please
let me know because I have been looking everywhere for
I left LA I probably threw out 200 of them. I'm sorry
to report that I only have a couple left, and I won't
sell those. However, if you send me a stamped, self-addressed
envelope (big enough for and 8x10 photo), I'll send
you a signed photograph from the film, okay?
1829 Wellington Ave.
Bloomfield Hills, MI 48302
I think you would already know this, but I have to agree
that the "Twilight Zone" is the greatest TV
show hands down. Nothing could even come close in my
opinion. Both "Patterns" and "Reqium
for a Heavyweight" ARE brilliant.
I also agree tht Rod Serling was a genius at writing
for television. Nothing could ever come close to the
time and passion taht he put into his work and what
the audience received in turn.
I am still amazed at the episodes when I watch them.
I believe they are timeless.
just watched a very good documentary on Rod Serling,
called "Submitted for Your Approval," and
he there was an interesting segment of Serling being
interviewed by Mike Wallace in the early '60s -- both
Serling and Wallace are smoking during it -- and Serling
said that as far as he was concerned, he was a good,
contemporary TV writer, and nothing more, and he wasn't
sure if his work would hold up at all. Well, I believe
have to agree with you that "Twilight Zone"
was the best tv show in American....but as an avid Python
fan, it goes next to "Flying Circus," for
me. Anyways, just curious on your thoughts about "Bubba
Ho-Tep" if you saw it. Bruce was hilarious!! It
was the part he was born to play in my opinion, and
of course Ossie Davis was just incredible as JFK. haha!
enjoyed it and laughed many times. I do think it completely
ran out of steam about an hour in, and act III was just
sort of a lame Don Coscarelli horror film. Once you've
been laughing regularly, to then have to deal with bad
monster effects and phony suspense without laughs was
a big let-down. Bruce was great as Elvis, although I
think he was born to play many parts, not just that
one. And it's the best part Ossie Davis has had in 20
years. Of course his agents wouldn't even give him the
though I haven't seen even an average amount of tv in
my lifetime, I'd certainly vote for Twilight Zone as
the best show. Not only did the episodes have creative
plots, but many had a multi-layered story and message.
The stories could make you think long after it was over
and even cause arguments amongst your friends.
Rod Serling used horror and fantasy to make points about
society, which gave his stories depth and subtext, which
I think is terrific, and I believe made the stories
even better. That's what's lacking in most stories these
days. Also, he gave many great young actors their start
on the show, like: Robert Redford, Cliff Roberston,
Telly Savalas, and many others.
Did you ever see REQUIEM FOR A HEAVYWEIGHT with Jack
Palance and Keenan Wynn? I thought it was **brilliant.**
Rod Serling wrote an excellent script.
Also, what's your opinion about Harlan Ellison? Both
of you seem to share the same hatred for Hollywood,
and you are both equally brutal in your opinions. I
personally find that kind of honesty refreshing.
Have a good one.
a big, big fan of Rod Serling, and I like both versions
of "Requiem for a Heavyweight." I really like
both versions of "Patterns," too, which I
highly recommend if you haven't seen. And "The
Comedian" is brilliant, too. Serling was absolutely
and unquestionably the greatest TV writer of the 1950s
and '60s, and a lot of great writers, like Paddy Chayesfsky,
Gore Vidal, and Horton Foote, came out of there. Here's
something to think about? I think I'd vote "The
Twilight Zone" the best TV show ever, what does
everyone else think?
Harlan Ellison is one of my heroes. He's the greatest
intelligent big-mouth of the past thirty years, and
I only wish I was as half as smart, elequent, and anywhere
near as good a writer as he. I read all of Ellison's
movie reviews religiously for many years, following
him from one publication to another. I had the great
joy of reading Harlan Ellison's review of "Darkman"
out loud to Sam, Bruce and Rob (it was incredibly and
intelligently scathing). Meanwhile, I highly recommend
Ellison's collection of film reviews, "Harlan Ellison's
Watching" to everyone. I absolutely loved that
there were some months when he was so mad about things
that he couldn't even get to the movies he was going
to review. His collection of short stories, "Angry
Candy," is absolutely brilliant, and I recommend
that to everyone, as well. There are a few stories of
his that I think about all the time. A number of opinions
that I picked up from him formed the basis of my worldview.
Ellison once wrote that we are all the same person under
different skins, which is crucially important information
for a writer. That I should be thought of in anywhere
near the same light as him pleases me greatly. Thanks.
Damn Josh, way to go. Loved the essay entitled "The
Misuse of Presidential Power." Your reviews aren't
always agreeable to me, but every damn word there was
Here, I'll give another disagreeable film review --
I thought "Mystic River" really sucked. I
never gave the slightest damn, everyone in the cast
was overacting, with particular honors going to Mr.
Penn who is an overacter of Paul Muni's caliber. The
big twist completely and flatly doesn't work, the last
scene between Penn and Laura Linney was beamed in from
the planet Mars, the direction is sloppy, the lighting
is downright ugly, and it's minimally a half an hour
too long. I reiterate yet again, the modern version
of a good movie is really just a bad movie.
a comment, not a question. Actually, it's three comments.
The first is that the literal translation of that commandment
is "Thou shalt not murder", which is intrinsically
different from "Thou shalt not kill". That
is to say you are not so far off on adding "except"
in that it is biblically acceptable to kill if your
life is in danger. The second comment concerns Judaism
in that you are mistaken in believing that it advocates
"everyone is screwed anyway". I am not sure
if you meant to add "else" in that sentence
or something closer to Catholicism and original sin,
but neither view is accurate. In the case of the former,
Judaism absolutely disavows proselytism (sp?) and does
not believe that everyone must be Jewish. In the case
of the latter, it believes that repentence is always
possible--no one need be doomed, and in fact, the religion
has no Western-traditional concept of hell.
My last comment deals with the misnomers "Yahweh"
and "Jehovah", neither of which is an accurate
translation of the letters "yod hey vav hey",
or "YHVH" from the original word. These spellings
were adopted by Greek and Roman translators to compensate
for the fact that the word is literally "The Unspoken
Name of God" and was meant only to be vocalized
once a year by the High Priest--we no longer know how
it was pronounced but chances are that the Christianized
version is far from the mark.
Thank you for your attention,
Yehudit Hannah Cohn
the Jews are "God's chosen people," then ergo
everyone else in the world was not chosen. As I've been
assured by Hassids, you don't get to go to "heaven"
(or whatever the Hebrew word for it is) unless: a) you're
a Jew (meaning your mother was Jewish), b) you read
the Torah, in Hebrew, and, of course, c) keep Kosher.
Now, since 99% of the world isn't a Jew, doesn't read
the Torah in any language, nor do they keep Kosher,
that means there's only Jews in heaven, right? Come
on, 'fess up. Within this philosophy everybody else
is boned. I didn't say everyone else was going to hell,
I said they weren't going to that conception of heaven.
Anyway, as far as Baptists are concerned, if you haven't
been baptized you're not going to heaven, and that includes
an innocent, sinless baby that dies a week old. Islam
says only Muslims go to heaven, Catholics say on Catholics
go to heaven, etc., etc., etc. I'm saying it's all equally
ficticious. It's all mythology, and Judaism, Islam,
or Christianity have exactly as much meaning and value
as the beliefs of the Inuit eskimoes. Mythology is mythology,
and if you think your's is the word of God and everyone
else's is phony, you are on some level being simple-minded
all due respect, in regard to your response to Safiyya
Dharssi's question regarding her school project: you
are a dick.
P.S You are very ugly.
you're uglier. And stupider. And dumberer.
own & Operate 40 Dollar Stores in the Pacific Northwest.
Great Reading !!! made me laugh.
Good Job !!
glad you enjoyed it. If you have any stores around Medford,
OR, I've shopped there.