Q & A    Archive
Page 109

Name: Ian Michael Drinkwater
E-mail: imdwhisper@hotmail.com

Dear Josh

Firstly, I'm sorry, but I'm yet another XWP fan. I guess the world's full of us.

I'm from the U.K. (Leicester to be exact), ...to the point; Ray Harryhausen of 'Jason & The Argonauts' fame visited a local theatre and gave an interview. Have you ever met the man? Apparently he now lives in London and has his own private museum of creatures/creations. He mentioned that he still thinks that there's a place for Stop-Motion in modern productions, and that he thinks that some scenes are more life-like/believable in older films. (did you ever meet the man?)

Two questions: Did they ever use any stop-motion animation for any of the Xena episodes (me-thinks possibly - and yes of course I know that they use CGI).

There's a rumour going around the xenaverse world at the minuite that there's a possibility of a xena feature-length film. Do you know anything of this. (me-thinks that if they're going to do one, they need to do it soon;
before the xenaverse dies)

And finally.... Maybe I'm risking it a bit in saying this (but what the hell!) In answer to all those people who ask about renee & lucy being friends:
I think they're close friends, but renee possibly has some reservations about lucy's morals (Heck! Lucy took her clothes off for all to see MAXIM - whereas Renee on the other hand preferred to keep her clothes on FHM). Also another possibility why they're never seen sitting together could be that they don't want any pictures taken to the effect of more sub-text speculation et al. I think the emmergence of the subtext was just rob going with what the fans wanted - i don't think it was the initial plan.

Anyway, before I sound too much like a xwp forum subscriber, I'll leave you in peace.

Regards

Ian
:)

Dear Ian :

There was no stop-motion animation in Xena or Herc because there wasn't time. There was barely time for the digital effects. Back during the inital five Herc movies we experimented with some old-time effects, like glass paintings and forced-perspective. Lucy and Renee got along fine, worked very well together, but were never close friends. I'm sure they remain in touch to some extent, but that's about it. And no, I've never met Ray Harryhausen, but I've always enjoyed his work. And there's no Xena feature as far as I know.

Josh

Name: Darryl Mesaros
E-mail: simonferrer@hotmail.com

Dear Josh,

I see that the Gentile Jesus argument has been laid to rest, so I'll skip that. Speaking of trilogies, did you see ONCE UPON A TIME IN MEXICO, the third installment in Rodriquez's "mariachi" series? I just saw it on bootleg VCD (one good thing about Iraq: $2 buys you any movie you want, even new releases; just be prepared to see the "EXIT" signs from the theater in the lower corners of the screen). It doesn't prove much of anything except the rule of entropy in movie sequels. Lots of flashy stunts, stylized violence (not that I'm against that, but this was more ludicrous than the wire stunts in a Jet Li movie), and hip atmosphere. Whatever else you can say about Rodriquez, he knew enough to hire a first rate cinematographer; all of the scenes have interesting lighting. The only real highlight of the film is seeing Johnny Depp walking around with his eyes gouged out.
In an unrelated subject, I just finished reading GATES OF FIRE, by Steven Pressfield. It chronicles the events leading up to the battle of Thermopylae, and really brings the Spartans to life. It's one of those books that you wish would be made into a film, but you know that the job would probably be botched, a la GODS AND GENERALS.
Speaking of sequels, there's one in the making: the only installment left in the Sha'ara trilogy that hasn't been filmed is THE LAST FULL MEASURE. I thought GETTYSBURG was an excellent film, and GODS AND GENERALS (although a prequel, it was made almost ten years later) was a disappointment. Hopefully, THE LAST FULL MEASURE will break the cycle. What do you think?

Darryl

Dear Darryl:

I think Michael Shaara's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, "The Killer Angels," which was the basis for "Gettysburg," was brilliant, and I read it twice. I thought the film was a disaster, very badly directed, with the worst facial hairpieces ever put in a motion picture. Tom Berenger's beard and Jeff Daniels' mustache are so ridiculous it's impossible to take anything they seriously. The director, Ronald Maxwell, did such an awful job there was absolutely no way I could be dragged screaming into "Gods and Generals." If it's Maxwell directing the third one, write it off before you see it. As a little note, both "Gods and Generals" and "The Last Full Measure" were both written by Michael Shaara's son, not him since he's dead. Stay safe.

Josh

Name: God
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

The day you make a good film that people will actualy see is the day I'll take you seriously. So, until then: FUCK YOU UP YOUR FUCKING ASS YOU FUCKING GUIENY COCKSUCKING FOR CRACK BITCH.

Dear God:

You've obviously got a lot to say, and a large vocabularly to say it with. What on earth do you mean by "guieny"? And oh my, you called me a "bitch," what terrible thing to say. You must be a rap fan since that's the worst thing they can come up with.

Josh

Name: Michael Smith
E-mail: samurai_x@elitesecurity.org

Dear Josh:

I would like to congratulate you on your success. Please tell me how you come up with your ideas?

Dear Michael:

Well, I haven't had all that much success, but thanks anyway. I get my ideas by constantly keeping my mind open to them. Story ideas are an instinctive, intuitive thing, very much based on what you know and what your tastes are. That's why, as a filmmaker, it's very important to see every good film from the beginning of film history until now. Taste is based on knowing a wide range of ideas, and knowing the difference between what's good and what's bad.

Josh

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

Josh,

I am likely to debate the DV over film issue when it comes to lighting. We shoot both film and DV here at work and I have seen 3 features in the past year shot on DVD, the last being "Pieces of April" which I thought was pretty good script and acting wise, but as with all the DV features I have seen with the exception of "28 Days Later", none of them looked very good at all no matter how they were lit.

I have to step outside myself at work and look at the DV stuff with the mind of an average viewer, but what I do notice about DV is that it doesn't take to light like film and it takes a great deal more energy to light than film for contrast and depth.

"28 Days Later" looked decent form a stylistic point of view, but I think the choice to shoot DV was to make the film seem more gritty and realistic. It worked in that respect, but the limitations were obvious to me. Granted most average viewers would never care about these issues, but I think some people could tell the difference between a well shot DV feature and a well shot film feature.

Anyhow, I have just received my first ever footage of High Def. 1080 progressive footage to edit and it looks excellent! I think that the HD format is the only thing close to film when it comes to contrast ratio and depth and the Use of DV is good for shorts, cost and convenience, but when it comes to lighting it and using it for features, I still it has very real problems.

Dear Scott:

All of this will eventually change, as high-def becomes more ubiquitous, but for the time being DV is inappropriate for features -- if you want to sell them, that is. If you want to be a filmmaker, and you're afraid of shooting film, you've chosen the wrong profession.

Josh

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

Josh,

First, a point of clarification. I did not say that semantics is the study of Logos. "Logos" was a term the Platonists and the early Christians both agonized about, another was "Homoousis", and that their arguments were semantic in nature.

As for movie trilogies, the "Alien" series was all right if you pretend the third movie never happened and just go on to the fourth. I know John Ford's Cavalry series doesn't really qualify but it is often thought of in terms of a trilogy. I don't know how many of the Connery "Bond" movies there were but I liked them as an extended series. I also always enjoyed the Rathbone "Sherlock Holmes" movies. There were actually quite a few series even in the Golden Age. "The Thin Man", "The Bowery Boys", "Charlie Chan", "The Pink Panther". How many "Topper" movies did they make? Two at least, though I think Grant was only in the first of them. Abbott and Costello's various theme movies were almost sets. I wonder what you think about series from the Golden Age? Thanks,

John

Dear John:

I guess the topic changed to series films instead of trilogies. "Topper" would in fact be considered a trilogy because there are only three of them, then it later became a TV series. But as for Bonds, Holmes, Chans, Thin Mans, and Panthers, there are more than three in all of those series. I like the first couple of films of all of them. I was with James Bond all the way up to the arrival of Roger Moore, then bailed and never returned. I particularly like the first five or six Charlie Chan films with Warner Oland. I just watched again "Charlie Chan at the Opera" (1936), with Boris Karloff, that's probably the highest-budget film in the series. Karloff, of course, is great as the mad opera star. I quite like "Charlie Chan at the Olympics" (1937), where he and Number One Son go to the 1936 Berlin Olympics in a zeppelin. The first four Pink Panther movies were very good (this is ignoring the wrong-headed "Inspector Clouseau" [1968] with Alan Arkin). The fifth film in the series, "The Pink Panther Strikes Again," being the funniest, in my opinion.

Josh

Name: Jim
E-mail: jeaganfilm@aol.com

Josh, have you done any digital video movies at all? In the last 3 months I've done about 10 shorts, shot on mini-DV and edited on my computer. Its about $2,000 worth of equipment and as far as I can tell its about as polished looking as alot of stuff on tv. Certainly the visuals of DV are not up to film but I've had alot of people ask me if it was shot on 16mm because a well-lit DV movie can actually look pretty close to 16mm in my experience. If time is put into lighting, whether you're inside or outside, it can look reasonably close to film. A friend of mine spoke to a person at Atomfilms and apparently there is now some sort of a market for short films. A guy at HBO named Mitchell Block buys quite a few DV shorts every year and pays up to $15k apiece, and websites like Atomfilms pay up to $2,000 plus a few cents every time the short is downloaded. Just wondering if you've played around with the equipment at all.

Jim

Dear Jim:

No, not really. I've shot video a number of times over the years, but not DV. I'm glad to here there's a short market possibly opening up. DV is perfect for shorts, and if you can actually sell them than that's terrific. We sold a few of our 16mm shorts way the hell back when. Sadly, though, my mind doesn't work in a short form anymore. I think in features. And feature films still need to be shot on film, at least for the moment. I'm trying to put together yet another film and even though it will be very low-budget, and a two-week shoot, it will bo shot on 35mm film. Shooting a feature on DV right now is like trying to sell an electric car -- it's not that they don't work, it's that people aren't quite ready to buy them. And when you go to the trouble of making a feature-length film, it's important to be able to sell it and get people to see it.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

On the LotR discussion - I thoroughy enjoyed the first two films thus far, although you are very correct about there being no characterization. For me, anyway, I got to understand as much about the characters as I wanted to in the books, and so am just enjoying seeing pretty pictures moving up on the screen, sort of like looking at those old Hildebrandt Brothers calendars. Tolkein was never my favorite anyway.

On the trilogy thing - how about the original Frankenstein and its first two sequels? Or maybe the first three Bond films? Although I agree - I doubt anything could hold a candle to the first two Godfather films.

Oh - just thought of a trilogy that actually isn't, but people refer to it as such - John Ford's cavalry trilogy.

Regards,

August

Dear August:

I don't think you can say the first three films of a series, like James Bond or Frankenstein. Neither is a trilogy. Ford's cavalry films are a trilogy, though, and a good solid choice to throw up against LOTR. I'll quickly and happily take Ford's films as a better trilogy -- not to mention the third LOTR film hasn't even been released yet. This concession you make to the films, that there's no characterization, but that's okay because it's like like looking at a calander, is completely and totally unacceptable to me. If they won't give their script twelve seconds of thought, fuck them!

Josh

Name:
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

what did you think of Robert Rodriguez's first movie el Mariachi and his follow up movie desperado

i think it shows a lot of skill to make a movie like el mariachi for only 7000 dollers

what format did you use for running time, lunatics, and thou shalt not kill...except

Dear :

Both movies bored me, and I don't believe his $7,000 number at all. The fact that a film company came in and put in all of the finishing funds doesn't discount the fact that the money was spent. When everything is added up, I'll bet you "El Mariachi" didn't cost a cent less than a quarter of million dollars, and probably cost more (with 35mm blow-ups and remixing all of the sound). "Desperado" was like the more expensive, even duller, remake. Meanwhile, TSNKE and "Running Time" were both shot in 16mm, and "Lunatics" and "If I Had a Hammer" were both in 35mm.

Josh

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

Howdy, Josh.

You're dead-on about the decline of quality films in Hollywood. It's obvious there aren't many good films being made.

Personally, I don't blame the LOTRs or SPIDERMANs of the industry. This type of escapist entertainment has been predominant in Hollywood since the beginning. Maybe you can't enjoy these films anymore because, being older and wiser and decidedly more jaded, you watch them with a more discriminating eye. I find that's the case with me sometimes, that I don't enjoy films I probably would have liked when I was a kid (example: HARRY POTTER), because I'm watching them through the eyes of an adult rather than with the wonder of a child. The THREE STOOGES ain't rocket science, either.

Don't get me wrong, being an adult is a good thing, and I too find it irksome that there is such a shortage of adult-minded entertainment (adult themes, not speculums and gaping asshole shots). However, I enjoy a good "bubblegum" movie as much as the next guy, like SPIDERMAN for instance. The real shame is that Hollywood isn't cranking out the "grown up" films at the same rate as they were in say, the 70's. That is due to the fact that less films in general are being made these days, and the big budget films are more of a safe bet, business-wise.

Maybe you should see more current films, and not just the big ones everyone sees. 5 or 6 a year don't cut it. Do you even bother seeing foreign films anymore? There are far more than 5 or 6 films a year worth seeing. Foreign and independent films do a lot to fill in the void left behind in Hollywood.


Your friend,
Bird

P.S. You're right that certain films do little to inspire thought or discussion. But is that ALWAYS a bad thing? Just look at the endless discussion surrounding the gentile Jesuses. Was anything ascertained? No. Just more "I'm right, you're wrong," and empty pontifications from the peanut gallery. Me? I'd rather be watching YOUNG GUNS.

Dear Bird:

I still see most everything, just on cable and DVD. I'm nowhere near as scrupulous about it as before, but I still see more movies than the average bear (I'm barreling up on having seen 4,000 films--my total as of today is 3,807). I don't even mention most of the films I see because they're not even worth a mention. My assessment of what's going on in movies is not based on assumption. But I'm going deeper than the generality you're making, I'm saying that even these big Hollywood films aren't as good as they used to be. LOTR and "Star Wars" and all of these comic book films are very poorly written, that's what I'm responding to, not that they're "bubble gum movies." I absolutely believe that you can make a good film in any genre on pretty much any topic, if you write it well enough. I'm not saying that LOTR is a bore because all fantasy is a bore, I'm saying the writing and acting in Peter Jackson's film version is boring. I'm saying that Elija Wood and Sean Astin are dull actors stuck with breathtakingly dull dialog that would be rejected from a screenwriting 101 class. Those last two "Star Wars" films, if I was the screenwriting teacher and a student turned in those scripts, I'd fail them. That's what I'm talking about.

Josh

Name: Lucas
E-mail: see the archives

Dear Josh,

I don't want to keep beating the dead Lord of the Rings horse, but I'd like to get my thoughts in here. I'll keep it quick, since there's already been so much discussed on the topic.

The Hobbit and LOTR are very, VERY different books. The Hobbit was written for children, while LOTR was written specifically for adults. It's a big metaphor for the way the world changed with the industrial revolution and the introduction of mechanised warfare, etc., that happens to appeal to children because it has elves and wizards and all that. But those are the books, not the films.

Knowing what this and other sites, as well as many books have taught me about filmmaking, I'm not going to say that they're great movies (although I do kind of enjoy them). As far as I can tell, all of the metaphorical aspects I referred to have been taken out of the movie, not to mention that the films pretty well follow the books' pace, which is not a movie's pace - it's uundnerstandable why Bruce used the word "plodding".

All that said, I think that the way the books have been adapted to fit into a movie is pretty astounding. You can tell that Jackson has the same passion for the source material that Raimi had for "Spider-Man". On that level, I think the movies succeed. Also, they managed to cram so much of the books into the movies that it's pretty commendable, if one has any respect for the books in the first place.

Okay, that's it. I didn't manage to keep it that short, but oh well.

Lucas

Dear Lucas:

I certainly seem to be in the minority on this one, and you're in the majority, and that's how it is. Apparently, LOTR with its two dull characters plodding through a land of endless digital effects is sufficient these days to create, as a young film student just stated to me, "The best movie trilogy ever!" As my late friend Rick used to say if someone liked a film he didn't, "I give it to you." As far Best Movie Trilogy ever, I would have to go with "The Godfather," even though Part III sucks, or "The Road Warrior," even though III sucks. I'm having a hard time thinking of many other trilogies.

Josh

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

Josh,

I am in agreement with you on your assesment of LOTR. It was difficult for me to get through the first one and it detered me from seeing any of the others.

Fundamentally, I believe as you do, there was no script and all of the film's energy went into the effects.

Personally, I think the most interesting book in the Whole Tolkien series is "The Hobbit". I read the entire LOTR series when I was young, however, it just doesn't hold up.

I feel that a live action version of "The Hobbit" could have come off much better than doing the LOTR series. I feel that even the first "Harry Potter" movie was more interesting than the first LOTR movie.

Of course, "The Hobbit"was made into an animated film already which is not half bad.

Oh, I just wanted to mention to John Hunt his use of the word Semantics is incorrect, it is not the study of Logos as he mentioned, but it is the study of language. He may have mixing it up with Semiotics which is the study of signs and symbols.

I had an excellent professor in college who was fascintated by the study of both ideas. He went to Africa one year an did a lot of research on the subject. He came up with some great ideas with regards to communication between as humans and animals.

Scott

Dear Scott:

As Shirley, the webmaster here, said, "If LOTR was written for 10-year-olds, 'The Hobbit' was written for 6-year-olds." That adults are falling all over themselves for this moronic, simpleminded horseshit is pathetic. It's my curse to be stuck in a time when the national intelligence quotient seems to have dropped to the level of pre-pubescence. I daresay that many of the great, intelligent, well-made films of the past, like "The Bridge on the River Kwai" or "From Here to Eternity" or "On the Waterfront," would fail now because they'd be over most people's heads. LOTR, "Star Wars," "Spider-Man," "The Hulk," etc. are kid's movies. And for the elementary school crowd, they're fine. For grown-up adults, they're nothing to think about or discuss.

Josh

Name: Brian
E-mail: KumiteENT@aol.com

Hey Josh-

Wow! I'm shocked to see that you saw/made it through "8 mile." I think it's funny how the movie really didn't have anything to say. Slim Shady-oh i'm sorry 'bunny rabbit' accomplished nothing from beginning to end. All he did was freestyle or whatever, but nothing came out of that. No record contract, his girlfriend's still a whore, and he's still living it up in the trailer park. But what do I know, that movie made over 100million and my movie still hasn't even recieved a rejection letter from the SlamDance film festival LoL!

Speaking of shitty movies I got dragged to "Kill Bill" yesturday and it was all that was expected. Mainly QT showing off what a 'bad-ass, edgy filmmaker' he is and how witty his diologue is. I still can't understand why miramax would split it in two other than they're greedy bastards. People can't sit through 3 hour movies anymore? They could have just put an intermission in the middle....but i guess with the short attention spand of most audiences they like only seeing half the movie and waiting four months to see the rest.

-Brian

Dear Brian:

"Scooby-Doo" made $100 million, so what? Anything that's the big film of the moment, that they invest $50 million or more in the advertising, is going to gross that much. Surprise, advertising does work. But nothing has any legs anymore. Every big picture has a large, bought, opening weekend, maybe two, then it drops off the map. When was the last time a film actually stayed up at number one for a few weeks? Even "Spider-Man," which is the fourth largest grossing film of all time, was only number one for two weeks, then got pushed out by "Star Wars," which was only at the top spot for a week or two. There hasn't been a real, honest-to-God, runaway hit in many years. And everybody seems to be suckered by that $100 million number, even if the film cost $150 million, then had $75 million more poured into advertising.

Josh

Name: Dee
E-mail: dsmit71@lsu.edu

Dear Josh:

Please don't just reply with "no" or something like that, I really want to know your opinion on this. Have you ever thought that the reason why 90% of the people out there(fans, critics, moviemakers) all believe that certain films like the LOTR are great movies, yet you trash them, is because you are wrong? I mean, I am sure you think you are right and all, but have you ever just once thought that you just have a twisted view on how things really are? Whether you like some of the mainstream directors and writers or not, these are smart, smart people. I thought both LOTR movies have been incredible. But you trashed them and I completely respect your opinion, but it prompted me to wonder if you just have a completely wrong outlook on these things? I am really curious to what you have to say...

Dear Dee:

First of all, there is no right or wrong in opinions, there's just mine and your's. But I feel that I've been around long enough to know why I think something's good or bad, and in almost every single case it's predicated on the script. I've also been around long enough to know that most people think whatever is new is good, but given some slight perspective they will change their minds. Also, if my good friend Bruce agrees with me that a big, popular movie like LOTR is bad, then I know it really is because I trust his opinion. I also trust my own opinion, but I don't trust most other people's opinions. Most people have severely unsophisticated taste, and are suckers for whatever is being hyped the most, and whatever seems hot at that second. I don't need the perspective of time to see what a movie really is, and whether or not it stands up to my criteria. Does that answer your question?

Josh

Name: Tuomas Laasanen
E-mail: tuomas@cinemasf.net

Dear Josh:

I just wanted to tell you - if you didn't already know - that Bill Lustig's DVD-company, Blue Underground has acquired the rights to release your friend's, Gary Jones' movie Mosquito. So, soon the "beckerheads" will be able to see your (in)famous scene in digital clarity. Scary!

Dear Toumas:

What makes it all okay is that I was in decent shape back then. I get to see how these last ten years have played hell on me. But that performance, with Gary's help, put the kabosh on my acting career forever. I'm very pleased for Gary that he's finally getting a decent release.

Josh

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

Josh,

For most of his active career, Paul was preaching to Greeks, first in the northern Lavant and then through the Isles and then Greece itself. He preached some in Rome itself but had far less success there than in Greek cities like Antioch, Ephesus, etc. Paul's interpretation of "Christianity" was similar enough to Platonism, with its fascination with semantics (Logos, etc.) that it appealed to the Greek philosophers. The Greeks had a long history with Judaism as well (The Septuagint was compiled by for the Greeks, not the Jews or Christians) and Hellenizers were a powerful force in the Judaism of Jesus' time.

I'm sorry, did someone write a screenplay based on "The Lord of the Rings"? I assumed they were making it up as they went along.

John

Dear John:

Okay, I think we've beaten the Christian topic into the dirt. LOTR certainly didn't seem like it had a screenplay to me. If Peter Jackson has spent one-one-thousandth of the time on the script he spent on the effects, he might have had something bearable. Obviously, that's not important anymore, just so long as there's a lot of digital effects. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz!!

Josh

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

Dear Josh,

In the ongoing religious discussion: I gather Paul pretty much preached to whoever would listen to him - he was born and raised a Jew, but was from Tarsus, which is in southern Turkey somewhere, and was a pretty Greek-dominated city. I think the whole area was very multi-cultural by then - there were Jewish communities everywhere, as well as Greeks, ex-soldiers and former slaves (who could be from Gaul or Germany or Spain or rural Italy or wherever) who had settled in the area, etc. Plus the descendants of the original peoples - Canaanites, Phoenicians, Philistines and so forth.

Paul initially preached in Damascus (in Syria) to the Jews there but toanyone else interested too, and then in his home town of Tarsus, in Turkey. I gather the biggest conflict between his group and the "original" disciples of Jesus was about grown men having to be circumcised to convert. And sheesh - can you blame 'em? So eventually Paul agreed to go spread the word in non-Jewish areas - mainly Greek areas that were dominated by the Romans, but had large Jewish populations - Corinth, Ephesus, Thessaly, Macedonia, Crete, Athens, and so forth. Most of his converts were Greeks, slaves, freedmen, women - basically anyone disenfranchised. I gather that it was when he was back in Jerusalem that he was arrested for causing unrest, pretty much like Jesus was.

And just to bring the topic back to film - do you have some favorite biblical movies? I thought Franco Zefirelli's tv movie "Jesus of Nazareth" was very well done, and have enjoyed the TBS films about Joseph, Abraham, and co.

By the way - there's a great bit in the book "I, Claudius" that I don't think made it to the series. Caligula gets filled with all these Jewish prophesies of a god who's born a man at a time of great peace but who will cause many wars after his death, born outside of Rome but will rule in Rome, loved by his people but forsaken by his people, and whose followers will drink his blood - and he's convinced it's him! He tells his uncle that as a little boy he ran into a Jewish temple and announced to the elders that he was the prophesied one - but then he refused to enlighten them, as it was beneath his dignity!

Funny stuff.

Regards,

August

Dear August:

That wasn't in the BBC mini-series. It's been 30 years since I read those books, which I loved. Meanwhile, John Hurt was brilliant as Caligula. There was another book very similar to "I, Claudius," called "Augustus" by John Williams (one of the many John Williams) which won the National Book Award and was really good. The first half of the book is all letters from people who knew "Augustus," the second half is his diary. You ought to be interested for he is your namesake.

Meanwhile, on an unrelated topic, I finally saw "8 Mile" and it was COMPLETE CRAP!!! M&M can't act and has the same pinched grimace on his face all the time. Kim Basinger is awful, and the rap "battling" is embarrassing. "You a bitch!" "No, you a bitch, and yo' momma be ugly." It's pathetic.

Josh

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

Josh,

First of all, I was the one that first mentioned Antonio's ethnicity. Plus, I guessed that "latino" is a PC word for any Hispanic/Southern European person. So, in promoting Bandera's "latino" background for Zorro, they are saying that no other Hispanic has done so. It is highly inaccurate and all the Spaniards I know would be quick to say they are not "Hispanic". As for being cast as an Arab, those from Andalusia admit they are likely descendants of the Moors.
As far as Ben's problem with Jesus as Jew and how Christians really view the subject: We were taught that Jesus "transcended" Judaism. So, he might have come from a Jewish heritage but that he preached and taught something quite different. So, he is no longer Jewish. Right or wrong, this what we were taught in church and thus, the focus isn't on Jesus' ethnic makeup but his philosophy. Indeed, they don't like even discussing his humanity. In addition to this philosophical perspective, the Romans often had to convert people who already had a messiah, one closer to their culture. So, like Santa Claus, Jesus became whiter or darker depending on where he was being preached about.
However, none of these factors justify the miscasting of a Jesus in a Historical portrait.
Kim

Dear Kim:

Yes, part of Christian theology is this nonsense of Jesus "transcending Judaism," which, were he still alive when this concept was dreamt up, I have no doubt he would have completely disputed. Jesus never said that he transcended Judaism, nor would he have. It's just the silly, divisive interpretations after his demise. Jesus was a Jew, from the moment of his birth to the end of his life. If he was the son of God, then God was Jewish, too. Therefore, anyone that's a Christian doesn't believe in Jesus and doesn't believe in God. Don't assume that I'm prejudiced, because I'm not. I still think that all religions are idiotic, evil, and intentionally moronic for the masses. Religion is a cop-out for those that don't have the inner strength to take personal responsibility for their own lives, and is just a variation on joining the military where you're not expected to think or make your own decisions.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

You said earlier that Lord of the Rings is a bad script with a dull lead character.

I was wondering what you thought of the book, if you've read it.

joe

Dear Joe:

I read about 50 pages of "The Hobbit" in junior high, absolutely hated it, and never went any farther. Please keep in mind, for whatever it's worth, that I was probably one of the biggest readers in my junior high and high school and I had already read a lot of books, particularly science fiction. "The Hobbit" seemed like pure drivel to me. Regarding the movies, Elija Wood and Sean Astin are BORING, basically have nothing to say, and don't have a one-dimensional character between them.

Josh

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

Josh,

Nice catch by Darryl. I checked and Banderas is, as Darryl rightly points out, Spanish. But it does not quite refute my point as I believe that Spaniards are generally considered "caucasian" rather than 'latino'. That the movie was promoted, if only in passing, on the basis of the first "latino" Zorro, what exactly does that mean?

I know I wasn't going to touch upon this again but I hope you'll indulge me. I absolutely agree with you that Jesus would have considered himself a Jew, as would have the first generations of his followers considered themselves. As you rightly point out, Judaism allows for a great range of beliefs and practices within its scope. I'm not certain when the Judaizers in the early Christian Church finally petered out (3rd century?) but they were the most direct decendents of Jesus' movement and clearly considered themselves a reform movement within Judaism, as did the Essenes and others. They were also treated as such by the Jews of the time; witness their defense by the Pharisee leader Gamaliel at the trial of Apostles before the Sanhedrin (Acts 5:34-41). Gamaliel's response was essentially that movements like Jesus' were commonplace in Judaism. Even the opponents of the early Christian Church acknowledged their Jewish nature. Anybody who doesn't accept the Jewish nature of Jesus hasn't read his or her own propaganda. Thanks,

John

Dear John:

So, as it got farther and farther from the time of Jesus, Christianity became less and less about Jesus and his beliefs, and more and more about the interpretation, until you have the papacy making it into something else entirely. By the time of Martin Luther and the beginning of the Reformation, the Catholic church is the most corrupt institution on the planet, and has never changed.

Josh

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

Dear Josh,

Somehow, I'm reminded of an old "Peanuts" cartoon where Linus mentions the "patience of Job," and the entire baseball team launches into a deep discussion on the religious ramifications of that expresion. Charlie Brown ends up saying "Good grief! I don't have a ball team. I have a theological seminary!"

That said, I do agree with you completely about the weird skittishness in society in general to admit Jesus was a Jew. (And I still keep hearing Graham Chapman saying "I'm a Yid, mum!")

Interesting point: Apparently Peter and Paul had a major rift early on, over Paul's willingness to preach to and baptize Gentiles. They eventually compromised, and agreed that Peter and his group would continue as nothing more than a progressive sect of Judaism, while Paul was free to preach to whomever he wanted. As it happened, the non-Jewish converts were more numerous and more receptive (Paul's active inclusion of women was a big part of this, I understand) than the Jews, and gradually the sect morphed into its own deal, as opposed to just a spin-off of Judaism.

So yeah - I imagine Jesus would be mortified to discover that what got started in his name became such a blatantly Romanized institution, one that actually persecuted Jews. Now *there* would be a great moment of cinematic irony - a revived Jesus seeing himself displayed on a Roman cross and being worshipped like an idol!

Regards,

August

Dear August:

I think he'd be deeply offended. So you're saying the Paul was preaching to non-Jews? Who would that have been in Israel? The Arabs? It certainly wasn't the Romans. For quite a while there Christianity was nothing more than a sect of Judaism. Also keep in mind that there were even more books of apostles, like the Book of Thomas, that basically contradicted everything that Peter and Paul said, that was dropped from the canon as the church solidified, as was all of the apocrypha. Thomas was the one who interpreted Jesus's teachings with a much more Buddhist view, that God is not outside of us, God is within everyone, which the church felt undermined their power, so they dropped it. Anyway, you're right, a theological society has sprung up in the Movie Geek Salon. I listened to Bruce Campbell tear "Lord of the Rings" to smithereens last night, which was highly amusing. He voted it "the most plodding movie ever made." Meanwhile, I spoke at a screenwriting class at MSU last week, and one of the students voted "Lord of the Rings" "the best movie trilogy ever." I guess that makes it better than "The Godfather."

Josh

Name: Darryl Mesaros
E-mail: simonferrer@hotmail.com

Dear Josh,

Thank you for the well-wishes. It looks like March for us, although that is subject to change (the word on when we would be going home has changed at least ten times since the start of the deployment, and probably will again).
Just a few thoughts to throw out there: I don't think that followers of Jesus would properly become Jews, as the philosophy that he preached was markedly different from the mainstream Judaism of the time, so much so that the Pharisees marked it as heresy. Strictly speaking, Christians are followers of Christ. His sermon that God was a loving, forgiving being that pervades all things and people was a definite turn from the angry, vengeful, distant God of Abraham that the Keepers of the Law held as the status quo. Theologically, it is important to understand the religious philosophy from which Christ's words were based, but to also understand how they deviated from them.
Sorry, didn't mean to go into a theological rant there (as an anti-cleric, I surprised myself). Moving on to something else; Someone mentioned that the publicity for THE MASK OF ZORRO portrayed Antonio Banderas as a "latino" actor playing the Spanish nobleman Zorro, and that this was incorrect. If I recall, Banderas isn't Latino; he's actually from Spain, born and raised, so the casting was actually accurate. Now having him play an Arab in THE THIRTEENTH WARRIOR is another story....
One last thing about R. Lee Ermey. I spotted the role he played in APOCALYPSE NOW. He is the pilot of the Kiowa scout helicopter during the scene where they attack the village. You hear his voice (it doesn't sound the same as in FMJ) feeding intel to LTC Kilgore, then his bird takes a hit from the ground, and he reports a mayday. It's not a large role, and Ermey has a flight helmet and aviator sunglasses on throughout.

Darryl

Dear Darryl:

Ah! No wonder I couldn't spot him. My point regarding Jesus is that he was a Jew from birth to death, and should he return, he'd still be a Jew. Yes, he was looking at Judaism his own way, but that didn't make him any less of a Jew. One of the postitive aspects of Judaism, in my opinion, is that you don't have to do anything to be a Jew, and no one can throw you out. If you're born a Jew, you die a Jew, and it doesn't matter what you say or do. Sure, if you have a tattoo or you commit suicide you're put in another part of the cemetery, but you're not an outcast. Therefore, since Jesus was a Jew, he'd never be a Christian. Ever.

Josh

Name: Jan Rogers
E-mail: janrogers@sympatico.ca

Dear Josh:

Your story on Two Gun Crowley & Fats Durringer have a difference to what I have read. The girl Fats killed was Virgina Brennan, she would be my Great Great Aunt's daughter, who married a Brennan & lived in Maine. The story as I read it was she tried to escape the car & they killed her, in the newspapers there was no mention of rape. What is the true story??? Thanks a lot. Virgina had only been in New York a few weeks.

Dear Jan:

My main source of reference for that story was a book called "Bloodletters and Bad Men" By Jay Robert Nash. In it he says, "When she [Virginia Banner] refused to go out with Duringer, he and Crowley waited for her one night and after she left the hall, the two shoved her into their green coupe and drove to an isolated spot. There Duringer raped her repeatedly. Then Crowley, using the pistol he had given himself for his nineteenth birthday, shot her to death."

Josh

Name: Danielle
E-mail: asskickcity@hotmail.com

Hi Josh,

I've been working on a feature screenplay based upon the life of a famous, dead Canadian. I won't bore you with the specifics, but everything about the project truly excites and fascinates me and I've spent many months trying to create a script that's solid and interesting.

Today I found out that an established independent producer who is a Canadian citizen (I'm not) is in the process of working on a screenplay about the same historical figure with an award-winning writer. Naturally, my heart sank and I felt like an idiot for thinking my "one-of-a-kind" idea would not be in someone else's head as well -- someone with a hell of a lot more clout, resources, etc. than me.

My initial goal was to keep working on the script until it was absolutely perfect, then contact producers in Vancouver to pitch the idea. I have a few short films to my credit, but nothing at a professional level.

My question is, do you think it's naive to not accept defeat at the recent news of this intimidating competition? I'm clinging to the hope that their plans will gather dust and eventually disappear. Also, judging from their past credits, the movie that I've been envisioning is very different from anything they would do.

Have you ever encountered this problem?

Thanks.

Dear Danielle:

Just because an independent producer is developing a scipt doesn't mean that they're making a movie. Most movie projects die before they're made. Has this dead Canadian been dead long? Like a hundred years? Otherwise, you might need permission from the estate or the family, which this producer may have gotten. As Ferdinand Foch, commander of the French Army during WWI, said, "The first rule of victory is to never admit defeat." Good luck.

Josh

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

Dear Josh,

Regarding casting "against type": James Stewart played "the bad guy" in the movie "After the Thin Man" back in 1936, when he was still young and devastatingly handsome. Sure, he was debonair and bad, but still a bad guy.

But that whole "against type" thing begs the question: aren't actors actors? And shouldn't they be a whole lot of different types? I know the parts are not always given to them (see Jaime Pressly and her recent "New Yorker" interview: "I'm always the hot girlfriend of the jock."), but they should. I think it's kind of sad that flexible actors are generally called "character actors" and people like Vin Diesel are "stars," when he's a much worse actor than the guy playing his sidekick.

Ahh...Hollywood. And this is why I like actors like Sam Rockwell. He's handsome! No, wait, he's ugly! He's a killer..no, he's the nice guy. When I was studying theater arts growing up, I thought that kind of range would be expected of anyone trying to enter the field of acting. I should have known--just work on your tan, don't eat, and try to look cute. Then you'll get hired.

Not acting any more,
Cindy

Dear Cindy:

I also don't think that actors need to be attractive. I like ugly and weird-looking actors. I'd much rather see the fat, creepy Franklin character in a wheelchair in "Texas Chainsaw Massacre," then some model-type.

Josh

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

Dear Josh,

I thought I'd read this years ago, but checked the IMDB to be sure. Here's what they said:

Ronald Ermey's real life USMC career is not at all on the same level as his famous character Gunnery Sergeant Hartman. In real life, Ermey was a Staff Sergeant and, although a Vietnam veteran, was never awarded the Purple Heart or a combat decoration (Bronze Star, Silver Star, etc)....

He rose to the rank of Staff Sergeant, and his Marine service included one and a half tours in Vietnam. After injuries forced him to retire from military service, he moved to the Phillipines, enrolling in the University of Manila, where he studied Criminology and Drama. He appeared in several Phillipino films, before being cast as a Helicopter pilot in Francis Ford Coppola's Apocalypse Now. Due to his Vietnam experiences, Coppola also utilized him as a technical advisor. He got a featured role in Sidney Furie's The Boys in Company C, Playing A drill instructor. He was not intended to be in Full Metal Jacket (1987). He was on the set to show the actor how to be a sergent but did such a better job that they hired him to play the part.

Although he retired from the United States Marine Corps in 1971, Ermey was later awarded the Honorary rank of Gunnery Sergeant.

U.S. Marine Corps awards and decorations include: Meritorious Unit Commendation, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal (w/bronze service star), Vietnam Campaign Medal (w/60 Device), Vietnam Gallentry Cross (w/Palm), Good Conduct Medal (w/2 bronze service stars), Marksman Badge (w/Rifle Bar) and Sharpshooter Badge (w/Pistol Bar).

So there you go.

Regards,

August

Dear August:

Thanks for the research. So, he never was a DI. eh? Interesting. Well, he does a hell of a good impression of one. I wonder if he can be spotted as a chopper pilot in "Apocalypse Now"?

Josh

Name: Ben
E-mail: dabrowskigroup@yahoo.com

Josh,

The other day, someone said he didn't want to spend time writing, he just wanted to direct a film. Should he be criticized for that? What if he's not a writer?

Ben

Dear Ben:

My friend brought this exact issue up, so I already have an answer. As a young filmmaker you must do everything. As a director you absolutely must know how stories function, and you won't figure that out any other way then by writing them. You may not be a camerman, either, but at first you have to that, too. As well as edit, and get coffee, and drive to the lab, and anything else that needs to be done. The second you throw some impediment in your path that can't be surmounted without someone else's help, you're boned. Give up. You want to get something done, then do it. As Laurence Olivier said, "You think you're an artist, prove it."

Josh

Name: Mike
E-mail: z@evilgeniusentertainment.com

Hey Josh,

A couple of things - first thing, just wanted to back up Darryl on the R Lee Ermy thing. I'd read an interview with Kubrick years ago where he talked about casting Ermey after seeing him work his DI mojo on some actors. Managed to dig up that interview - the URL is http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/style/movies/features/kubrick1987.htm
if you or anyone else is interested.

I remeber reading another interview with Ermey where he said he wanted to do more comedy, which initially struck me an odd notion. Talk about casting against type! Which brings me to the second thing - what do you think about casting actors against type? Can you think of examples in your work or the works of others where casting against type worked, or didn't work?

As always, thanks for your time, and fight the good fight!

Mike

Dear Mike:

Was R. Lee Ermey an actual DI, that's what I want to know? He certainly is casting for the part, particularly in "Boys in Company C" when he was younger and his teeth were messed up. He must have used the money from that film having his teeth fixed. Regarding casting, there are certain physical types you can't fight, like a muscle man or the gorgeous babe or a thin nerd or a fat person (gravitationally challenged). But if you look at Alec Guinness's career, nothing would have inspired casting him as a tough army colonel in "Bridge on the River Kwai" previous to that, he was basically a comic actor in films like "The Lavender Hill Mob" and "The Man in the White Suit." My point is, a good actor has no type, they just play the part. When James Stewart finally got a chance to start playing bad guys in the 1950s, he was a great, pissed-off bad guy. And who could have predicted the turn Leslie Neilsen's Career took? Everything he did from 1950 to 1980 was deadly serious, then he made "Airplane!" and now he's a comic actor. And since comedy is frequently played dead serious, the more serious you can be, the funnier you are.

Josh

Name: Tommy Jr.
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

That sucks to hear about what happened to Jeremy. I do remember him in "Brisco County" and in "The Mask" as the bouncer. I did like him a lot in Running Time though. That movie is one of the best independent films ever. Acting is great, the one liners Bruce says, and you got the beautiful Anita Barone.

Now on to Hatred, I did love the commentary just like I liked it on Running Time. It did make the movie funnier. Some of it was cheesy, but I guess that's the way I like movies....

TJ

Dear Tommy Jr.:

Well, that's good. I prefer movies that are not cheesy or stupid. I have no great regard for bad movies, nor do I get much enjoyment out of laughing at films. I think the whole veneration of bad movies has resulted in just about all movies becoming bad. The bad is to be shunned, and the good welcomed, not vice versa.

Josh

Name: Ben
E-mail: dabrowskigroup@yahoo.com

Josh,

In all the back and forth comments you and I have made throughout my history here, the only one that still makes me react physically is the one about Christians not wanting to believe the Christ was Jewish. Is there some deeper level to your criticism? Some subtext that I'm missing? Or do you really believe that Christians deny that Christ was a Jew. I know he was a Jew. My parents know it. Everyone I've ever spoken religion with knows it. The priests mention it in their sermons. I can only assume that of the many Christians you've met, none of them were Traditional Catholic. In fact, even in the new, messed up Catholicism, they all knew he was a Jew. I wish there was some way for me to impress this point upon you--we are aware of the Jewishness of Christ. He was a rabbi. They celebrated Passover. And such. I guess I can't ask you to stop saying that Christians deny that Christ was a Jew, so, oh hell. Please stop saying that Christians don't think Christ was a Jew.

Okay, back up. Are you talking Protestants, Baptists, and all the other denominations? Or do you mean Catholics, too? I could supply you with a consensus, if you wish, of 2000 Catholics that I know personally, that would corroborate your claim, that Christ was a Jew.

As always, thanks for your time.

Ben

Dear Ben:

You and all other Christians can pay lip-service to it, but if you REALLY believed that the son of God was Jewish, you'd be Jewish, too. None of this man-made horseshit that came after the fact would apply at all. If the son of God is a Jew, therefore God is a Jew, and if you want to be anything like God or his son, you'd be a Jew, too. Okay? I personally don't believe God is a Jew, nor any other religion, nor of any form or shape that we humans can understand. I believe that it's painfully simpleminded to try and quantify the incredible, awesome forces that make up our world and universe. To me religion is a Bronze-Age understanding of life.

Josh

Name: Kevin
E-mail:

Dear Josh,

I read your comment on Gianneti's Understanding movies. I was wondering what books you would recommend then whose knowledge will aid in filmmaking. I agree with your simple criteria that you listed out, but I think all or at least many filmmakers have those criteria in mind when they first make a movie. Many believe the story is worth being told. Many labour meticulously for hours just to get "the shot." Many work for those beatiful camera angles in belief that it adds to the story they are trying to convey. But what makes a good movie good, or better yet a great movie great?? Unless the judgement is all relative, there has to be a more solid, narrowed-down substance to movie criticism. Josh, you probably have developed an eye in recognizing a bad movie when you see it and I respect that. And I guess, recognizing an awful movie is pretty much common sense as well... if it's boring, it's boring and it stinks. If it's lame, it's lame and it stinks. If its stupid, it's stupid and... well... it stinks. Doesn't take a genius to recognize an awful movie. But what happens when you get to criticizing a movie that you say stinks and another says has the scent of excellence. I say Lord of the Rings stinks, and another says it is one of the best movies ever made. Another says Schindler's list is an example of a great movie, whereas you drastically differ in oppinion. Is it just that? - Oppinion. I mean, when a movie plain stinks it's easy to spot and many will agree -- corny acting, awful cinematography, and just plain boring. But, as you and I both know, there will definitely be a sea of differing oppinions. In the midst of all of that, the void of the "why???" still lingers. In analogy to the methods of a good practitioner who delves down to find the root cause of a disease, a film critic or a filmmaker should delve down to the root cause of the disease. Certain symptoms are identified. But let's not concentrate just on the symptoms, but delve into the core and root cause and in so doing we can then create a compass, a paradigm, a map to the road of preventative and healthy measures. We see symptoms of a bad movie (boring, dull, lame, etc.), please let's delve deeper and identify the root cause... dr. Becker.

Dear Kevin:

It's the script, plain and simple. The fact that kids are very impressed with digital effects means shit to me. "Lord of the Rings" has a bad script with an exceptionally dull lead character. "Schindler's List" has a one-dimensional, utterly unbelievable lead character, who unrealistically switches from all black to all white, with a ham-handed director pounding you on the head to makes his points. The big difference is the viewer's taste. Most viewers are unsophisticated and take most everything they're handed as truth and art. I know it's an overstatement, and I probably bring it up too often, but George Bernard Shaw said, "If more than 10% of the population likes a painting it should be burned, for it is bad." If the masses like a film it's probably painfully stupid so that it can appeal to such a wide spectrum of people. So, the ultimate criteria for what is a good film lies within each of us. I can only view films from my perspective, just like you. And I can only apply my criteria when criticizing a film.

Josh

Name: Darryl Mesaros
E-mail: simonferrer@hotmail.com

Dear Josh,

How are you? I'm still in Baghdad (we got this internet cafe a few months ago; glad to know the $87 billion went to something). Anyway, I was reading the rants on the ol' message board and decided to chime in.
On the subject of a Jewish actor playing Jesus, I have to agree with some others on the website and say that the specific religion or ethnicity of the actor doesn't matter as much as the performance and appearance of the character. I don't agree with the old Hollywood system of bending over backwards to give ethnic roles to Caucasian actors, but in many instances, the talent of the actor is showcased by taking on an ethnic role. Burt Lancaster was excellent as an Apache warrior and a Mexican in APACHE and VALDEZ IS COMING, respectively; Toshiro Mifune was great as a Mexican peasant in UN HOMBRE MUY IMPORTANTE, and there are many other examples. Should Hollywood have the guts to make Christ look like the Sephardic Jew that he was? Of course. Should a gentile actor who could portray Christ in this matter be given a shot at it, ethnicity nonwithstanding? Certainly.
In other matters, I haven't seen the new TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE yet, nor do I particularly want to. No doubt it will be as unsatisfying as the remake of NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD. Too slick of a production value destroys the effect of the story; in the original TCM and NOTLD, the extras and grainy photography give the plot an almost documentary feel, and a really creepy vibe. Make the protagonists too attractive, the blood too stylized, and the antagonists too cardboard cutout psychotic, and all that is lost. Unfortunately, it seems to be the trend in Hollywood nowadays to scavenge of the past and try to recycle it.
On the subject of R. Lee Ermey, I heard a Hollywood legend that he was originally hired as a technical advisor on FULL METAL JACKET, and was completely unsatisfied with every casting choice for the DI. Supposedly, he made his opinion to colorfully and verbally known that Kubrick decided to cast him instead. Any truth to this story?

Darryl

Dear Darryl:

Good to hear from you. I hope you get rotated out very soon (I hear there's a big rotation coming in January, I hope you're included). Getting back to the endless discussion of a Jew playing Jesus -- since Jesus was a Jew, and since a Jew has never played Jesus in a film, don't you think it's time? Regarding this piece of casting, there is a much bigger agenda below the surface than simply that gentile actors are more suitable for the part, which is of course nonsense. This miscasting is strictly to pacifiy the Christians. Period. It has nothing to do with good casting or good filmmaking, it's strictly PC in regard to Christians. And it's not like Jim Calvaziel is a big star and will sell tickets, either. It's that Mel Gibson is a chicken. Regarding R. Lee Ermey in FMJ, I've never heard that story, but if it's true then I'm happier about the casting, and the complete rip-off of "Boys in Company C."

Get your ass home, dude.

Josh

Name: samantha
E-mail: gothbabydoll_00@hotmail.com

Dear Josh:

I don't think you should think this way about films. Not all of them are the way you say. I really like the "big budget" films

Dear samantha:

Then you're lucky and you get your money's worth. I won't condemn you for thinking like you do, so why shouldn't I think the way I do?

Josh

Name: Jonathan Sequeira
E-mail: bossbeat@bossbeat.com

Dear Mr Becker,

thanks for the website. Sorry to say I haven't seen any of your films, but I'll keep an eye out for them next time I'm in the video store (which is not often).

But I have read all the articles and essays you've posted, and enjoyed them all. Probably helps that I pretty much agree with most of what you've written (both film making and political stuff), but even the most rambling of the essays is still well written and an entertaining read. Anyway, I thought since you'd gone to the trouble to put them on public display, I'd go to the trouble of praising them.

By the way, a note on your essay about police not having guns in New Zealand; unfortunately they carry guns in Australia (where I live), but strangely enough in the UK they don't. Go figure.

Thanks again for your thoughtful comments and hope you keep making those movies,

Jonathan Sequeira

PS I can still occasionally enjoy a bad or flawed film. Sometimes the good is so good, it overshadows the bad. A lot of people think 'Apocalypse Now' is a great movie, even though the end with Marlon Brando totally ruins it for me (the end is the most important part!!!!). Having said that, 'Gladiator' absolutely stank.

Dear Jonathan:

I agree, the entire third act of "Apocalypse Now" stinks. From the moment they arrive at Kurtz's camp it all goes wrong. A lot of that probably has to do with Marlon Brando arriving on location weighing 300 pounds, which couldn't have been more inappropriate for a commando leader living in the jungle for many years. Also, Coppola simply did not have the end of the story figured out at all. Also, all of the new footage added into the "Redux" version sucks, and was deservedly cut out. But I still do enjoy the first two acts of the old, non-redux version, right up to Do Long Bridge. Meanwhile, as you and I well know, Australia and New Zealand are very different places. And both of them are very different from England. Australia probably has guns because of its history as a penal colony. It amuses the hell out of me when I mention New Zealand and Americans reply, "Oh, that's an island off the coast of Australia, right?" Yeah, just 2,000 miles off the coast. In America that would be like saying, "Chicago, that's a city right next to Los Angeles, right?"

Josh

Name: Tommy Jr,
E-mail:
Dear Josh:

You couldn't get all the way through the long 85-minute running time in one sitting?

Yeah I could have, but my brother in law moved in buttfuck 12 midnight, when I was enjoying Thou Shall Not Kill... I loved the movie. I still need to listen to the commentary, but I did love the one with you and Bruce on Running Time. Did you like "Hatred of a Minute"? Thats if you saw it. Even though it's old, I like the feel of independant films. I don't like too much of the big budget films anymore. And I hope, "Of I had a Hammer" will make it to DVD, but I guess I will have to order VHS from your site sometime this week.

Has Jeremy Roberts been doing any other films at all. Last time I looked his site it said on there that he had a attack or something like that. Best wishes,

TJ

Dear Tommy Jr.:

I haven't spoken with Jeremy in a long time, but he did have a heart attack. I think he's all right now, though. I just watched my first Xena ep, "A Fistful of Dinars," again (since it came out on DVD), and Jeremy is really good in it. The guy's a real scene-stealer, and Lucy and Renee are such lovely actors that they never had a problem with letting someone else steal the scenes. I actually didn't make it all the way through "Hatred," but I wasn't all that impressed with what I saw.

Josh

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

Howdy, Josh.

Just wanted to ask a few questions about your opinion on gentile Jesuses. What exactly is your gripe? Is any Jewish actor preferable to a gentile, even in the case of a Paul Newman or Edward G. Robinson? These guys hardly look the way Jews did during biblical times, it may as well be Jefferey Hunter if you're going to use your run of the mill ashkenazi. If you are saying that Jesus should be more sephardic-looking, then that's different than demanding he be Jewish. For example, Anthony Quin was not Jewish but he could pass for a sephardic Jew before Newman or Harrison Ford could. Likewise, Al Pacino looks more like a Jew than Kirk Douglas. If you're saying that the casting of a blue-eyed and blond haired Christ is innaccurate, I completely agree. If you're just interested in filling the position with a bona fide Jew, then I think it's a little silly.

Lest we forget, Emilio Estevez is of latin descent but played one hell ofa Billy the Kid in the extraordinary films YOUNG GUNS 1 & 2.

I'm not trying to piss off the irascible Josh Becker, just wondering what you're thinking.

your friend,
Bird

Dear Bird:

It's now politically incorrect to cast whites as Native-Americans or Asians (like Jeff Chandler as Cochise or Warner Oland as Charlie Chan), so why isn't it politically incorrect to cast a gentile as a Jew? Jesus was a Jew, so why shouldn't he be cast as one? What about the feelings of the Jews? Don't they deserve some consideration? My Greek friend absolutely hates "Zorba the Greek" because Mexican Anthony Quinn plays Zorba. This may not matter to all of us non-Greeks, but it matters to them. The casting of whites as Indians really pissed off the Native-Americans, but it didn't bother white people. A gentile playing a Jew bothers the Jews, isn't that enough?

Josh

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

Dear Josh,

I was thinking about the Jewish actor-as-Christ thing - Dustin Hoffman would have been about the right age for "King of Kings," or "Greatest Story," right? And as you said, Kirk Douglas or Tony Curtis or Paul Newman or any of those guys would have been available in an earlier decade.

Ah well... - as Adam Sandler observed:

"Paul Newman's half Jewish, Goldie Hawn's half too - Put those two together--what a fine lookin' Jew!
....We got Ann Landers and her sister Dear Abby, Harrison Ford's a quarter Jewish-- not too shabby..."


Regards,

August

Dear August:

The miscasting of gentiles as Jesus is strictly based on an erroneous view of political correctness and nothing else. If a Jew were cast as Jesus it would offend the Christians who don't want to really believe that Jesus was Jewish. If Christians actually owned up to Jesus being Jewish, then they would naturally have to question why they are Christians, right? If the son of God was Jewish, ergo God is Jewish. And if God's a Jew, then all other religions are blasphemers.

Josh

Name: Tim Eaton
E-mail: eaton@imageworks.com

RE: "I recently read "Wizard: The Life & Times of Nikola Tesla" and completely enjoyed every moment."

FYI : http://www.netsense.net/tesla

In case you have any contacts who might be interested in our screenplay based on Marc's book.
Cheers, Tim Eaton http://us.imdb.com/name/nm0247886

Dear Tim:

Yeah, I liked it a lot, too. Tesla was a great character, and the yang to Edison's yin. I particularly enjoyed that he took X-ray baths everyday.

Josh

Name: King
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

Why you so mean. A man of art shouldn't give a fuck about the shit you blathered out. Who fucking cares what you think. Make your movies and be great at what your doing instead of writing these shit essays, the kind your made to write in college. It's fucking bullshit.

Dear King:

Who said I'm "a man of art"? And who fucking cares what you think? Certainly not me.

Josh

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

Josh,

Just a couple of comments about ethnic casting and Gentile Jesii(?). John Hunt's complaint about Antonio Banderas being described as a Latino is a bit misplaced. He is Spanish (Andalusian to be exact) and probably the correct type of Spaniard who would have been found in California for the Zorro story. I think "Latino" is just being used as a catch all PC term to describe anybody Hispanic/Southern European.
As far as Jesus goes, have there been star quality Jewish actors that have been available to portray the Christ? I honestly don't know, I'm not up to date on all the younger actors these days and can't remember off the top of my head, older actors that might have been passed up. The only Jewish/Israeli, young actor I can think of is Oded Fehr, who ironically often plays Arabs/Egyptians.

Dear Kim:

There have been many Jewish actors, from Edward G. Robinson (real name, Emmanuel Goldenberg), to John Garfield (Julius Garfinkel), to Kirk Douglas (Issur Demsky), to Paul Newman (who is half-Jewish). I think it's a bit of an overstatement to use "star quality" regarding Jim Calvaziel. The guy's a character actor at best.

Josh

Name: Tommy Jr.
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

My friend said the same thing about the ending of Bubba HoTep. And he said why would the mummy be afraid of 2 old geezers. But yea, I loved the movie, I thought Bruce did a really good job at Elvis. I did see it when Bruce came down here in San Diego, which was a good time. I've seen some of Thou Shall Not Kill... and I like the grittyness of the film, giving it a good time essance. Sam looks very cool as a bad guy though.

TJ

Dear Tommy, Jr.:

You couldn't get all the way through the long 85-minute running time in one sitting?

Josh

Name: Josh Barnett
E-mail: 1pbarnett@comcast.net

Hey Josh.

My name is Josh Barnett and I am a senior in High School. I live in the small town of Florence Alabama. I want to be a film maker (just like evryone else). Anyway, I love making small non funded independednt films. The problem is that I love making the films so much, I cant take time to write them. I found your website and I was just wondering if would mind me and a few of my friends making a no-budget film out of one of your never created screen plays like BUD or BALL BREAKERS. We will not be sailing them. It will mostly be for fun and for me to get more experience and lines on my resume. I realize I could have just done like most other young film makers and made a movie out of your work without asking, but I know how much time and effort that goes in to these screen plays. I figured I would at least have enough respect to ask you first. If you say its ok, will be producing the movie with 3 Canon XL1s's and editing it with Adobe Premier 6.0, Arcsoft Showbiz, and Digieffects. Thank you for your time. Maybe I will here from you soon.

Dear Josh:

With all due respect, the idea that you love filmmaking, but haven't got time to write a script is idiotic. The script is the most important part of a film, and if you don't have the time, or the ability, to come up with stories you should probably not be a filmmaker. What stories you tell is the bottom-line of who you are as a filmmaker. Therefore, I do not grant you permission to shoot any of my scripts. Come up with your own stories, put in the time, it's part of the process. Good luck to you.

Josh

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

Josh,

A little comment on the subject of casting ethnicities (e.g. gentile Jesus'). I remember when Antonio Banderas' "Zorro" movie was released one of the promotional points was that Banderas was the first Latino to play Zorro on the screen. I found that ironic as Zorro, the character, was a Spanish nobleman, not a "Latino" at all. I am of the opinion that worrying too much about ethnicity is a waste of time since ethnicity is self-defined. This is particularly true of historical characters, as the genetic mix has often changed so radically in the intervening period. Try to reproduce a historical personage if you can, but draw from whatever group is necessary.

That having been said, I understand someone is filming a blonde, basically Germanic, Alexander The Great. I guess they think this guy will do a better job than Burton. Anyway, I'll admit that a German Alexander doesn't sit well.

On the subject of a Xena revival, I hope they let the thing alone. If they want to bring something back from that experience I agree with something you posted a long time ago. You mentioned in passing that you thought the "Action Pack" concept of essentially test-driving series concepts made sense to you, and I agree. I think the relative costs would be low and the potential rewards significant. Most importantly, it could allow for a creativity not available in a thirteen-minimum episode, prime-time series. I won't hold my breath, however. How "Action Pack" ever happened in the first place is beyond me. That must be a great story in itself. Thanks,

John

Dear John:

Ethnic casting in general is not what I'm scoffing at, it's the casting of gentiles as Jesus, which is how it's always been done, which is flatly out of fear that the Christians will freak out if they see a Jewish Jesus. It's a supremely gutless move, and anyone that perpetuates it is a coward. And that includes all of the Christians with pictures of the blond-haired, blue-eyed, Jeffery Hunter-style Jesus on their walls and dashboards. The Jews have gone way out of their way to not inter-marry, so we still know very clearly what a semitic-looking Jew looks like (just like my uncle Amos in Tel Aviv, with black nappy hair and a big nose). But once you've made a cowardly concession like casting a gentile as Jesus, everything that follows will ergo be bullshit.

Yes, the "Action Pack" was a good idea, and I have no concept how it came to be.

Josh

Name: Tommy Jr.
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

Yea, I feel the same way about movies now, how they mostly do suck. Even though I do like Freddy Kruger alot, I just didnt like the film as much as I did with Nightmare 1. I did see Texas Chainsaw, and my roomate and I think that the original is the best. This new one did not even seem scary. I won't even go waste a cent to see Mystic River, since I already heard how much it did suck. But anyways, I just picked up Thou Shall not Kill... and I haven't seen it yet, but I have heard its really good.

Did you ever get to see Bubba Ho-Tep at all yet? If you did, did you like it.
TJ

Dear Tommy, Jr.:

Yes, I saw "Bubba Hotep" the week before last when Bruce was in town. I enjoyed the first hour, and I thought Bruce and Ossie Davis made a good team. The last half hour really blew, though. It didn't tie up any of it's threads, the battle with Bubba was lame -- he's set on fire once and it doesn't kill him, but it does kill him the second time? That's bad writing. And the ending is an emotional dud. Still, it did seem original, and that's saying a lot these days.

Josh

Name: Ben
E-mail: dabrowskigroup@yahoo.com

Josh,

If we're relying on the consciousness of a sunflower and a grasshopper, I don't think that God will be smoting any actors today.

In good fun, right?

Ben

Dear Ben:

I don't think God smotes anyone ever. Yes, of course, it's all in good fun. But as the great Joseph Campbell said, in his opinion the least helpful of all the religions are the Judeo-Christian religions (which includes Islam) because they purport that God is outside of us, looking down on us and judging us. The useful religions, like Buddhism, Hindu, and most tribal religions, say that God is not only within us, he (she, it), in fact, is us. We are God; it's not a seperate thing, and the second you seperate yourself from God you are living in confusion.

Josh

Name: ALAN
E-mail:

Josh

Season ONE of "Hercules" has just been released on DVD in the UK and it includes an 80 minute featurette called "The Men Behind the Myth" which was filmed in August and includes a lengthy discussion between Kevin Sorbo and director Bill Norton about Anthony Quinn.
Sorbo asks Norton if he knew that Quinn hated one of the Herc telemovie directors and Norton asks if it was him or Doug Lefler. Sorbo replies "No, it was Josh, Rob Tapert's's friend" although he says that he had no problem with you himself. Sorbo suggests that Quinn was offended when a director asked him to react in a scene by repeating a performance style that he used in a scene from LAWRENCE OF ARABIA. Quinn said "I never repeat my performances" and walked away. If you were that director do you recall this event Josh and were you aware that Quinn held this opinion of you?

Dear Alan:

I never asked Anthony Quinn to repeat a performance from "Lawrence of Arabia" or any other film. I did ask for a bigger reaction on one shot, which did piss him off -- he felt his reaction had been big enough, and in fact it was. I did ask him a question about "Lawrence" that same night and he flatly told me to "fuck off." I mentioned this to Eric, the producer, who replied, "Hey, I got five on you. Quinn's told me to fuck off six times now." But I was the only director who Quinn didn't call "boy" (he called Bill Norton "boy," and Bill was in his 50s). This was based on me standing up to him on the first day of the shoot and asking for a second take when he didn't feel it was necessary. I stood my ground, he did another take and it was better. After he was wrapped that day, Quinn showed back up on the set, took me aside and apologized to me. Quite frankly, I think I was the only director in the bunch that he respected at all, and that's because I wasn't afraid of him and showed it. Kevin's got the story wrong.

Josh

Name: Diana
E-mail: upon request

Dear Josh:

Zoroastrianism, heh.

"You're-- you know, you're-- very attractive. I just don't think this is gonna work. Look-- you're a pagan. I'm a Zoro-astrian. How will we raise our kids?"
Did Ted improvise that?

Anyway, I think the Xena fandom buzzes about a possible feature film only because at a convention or two since the show's folded, Creation Ent. has passed out little surveys asking the fans what they'd like to see story-wise in a movie: Post-finale story, a story set in the classic period of the show, that sort of thing. I think it's more or less an attempt to keep interest alive in the franchise, for future convention attendances and merchandise sales (numbers have taken a nose dive). Also, when asked at such venues, Lucy, Renee or Rob has answered that- sure, they'd like to make one if it ever comes to fruition and they're not too old. (What are they going to say to fans' faces? "Hell no"?) During print interviews however (and you've said yourself she's relayed this to you), Lucy has gone on record as saying anything from - she doesn't miss it, she thought the last season was poison to shoot and she just wanted to kill it, to- they'll probably be too old, to - it's not clear to her who really "owns" X:WP.
Lucy and Kevin Sorbo filed suit against Universal about a month or so ago for cooking the books regarding their respective % cuts of the profits, so, how warm and fuzzy would Universal feel about green-lighting a project with the star in the middle of a lawsuit against them?!

Also, a writer of one episode of Xena has said she was interviewed by Rob a long while ago I think on possibly writing a feature. So even that gets the fans all atingle. I think Rob has always dabbled around and pursued it to some extent off and on, but I don't think there's an iron super-hot or anything.

Steve Sears has said that anyone who wrote a Xena film would have to have a feature film writing credit to be taken seriously and he hadn't, so even though he's been such a part of the Xena team, and written so many fine eps, he wouldn't have a chance.
See, I think that now that my man R.J. Stewart has the "action blockbuster" type film under his belt- "Rundown" (starring The Rock and this apparent heartthrob of the moment Seann William Scott and Christopher Walken), I would tend to think since he was *also* the head writer for Xena, he'd be the first consideration for a Xena feature now, and not the writer of a Shirley MacLaine hanky flick and one Xena ep. Doesn't that make sense?

But at any rate, I don't think there's much of a chance for Xena to actually be a movie. Not one with Lucy and Renee starring. Maaaaaaybe, in 20 years they'll do a "remember that cool show?" (Like Charlie's Angels) flick starring girls who are 5 yrs. old now!
What do you think?

Dear Diana:

The Zoroastrian line was mine -- most of the improvised lines in my eps were mine. You can be absolutely certain that if a Xena feature should ever be made, it will not have Lucy or Renee. But I honestly don't believe there will be one. But, never say never.

Josh

Name: Saul Trabal
E-mail: ghost_kingdom@yahoo.com

Josh writes:

"And who's talking about a Xena feature? I haven't heard Rob say anything."

Go here:

http://www.usaweekend.com/03_issues/031026/031026whosnews.html

From Q & A:

---------------


"Xena: Warrior Princess" was one of my favorite TV shows. Is it true there will be a "Xena" movie?"
Deerdra Reese, Ruidoso, N.M.

Universal has one in development, but it probably will be years before we see it. Still, you can get your "Xena" fix with new boxed DVD sets of the first and second seasons; companion shows "Highlander" and "Hercules" are out, too
-----------------

Of course, I'm most likely making too much of this, since things are in development all the time-and that doesn't mean they'll come out.

Last question on Harlan Ellison-I've been trying to find The Glass Teat, and no luck. I understand it's out of print. Have you read it, and can you tell me your thoughts on it?

Take care.

Saul

Dear Saul:

I guess you don't speak Hollywood-ese. Saying there's a Xena feature "in development," is the same thing as saying there isn't one.

No, I haven't read "The Glass teat," although I've read a few of the essays from it. It's Ellison being his usual snotty self ripping into '70s TV, which isn't particularly vital anymore. Still, it's always fun to hear him rant.

Josh

Name: Tommy Jr.
E-mail: thancher_jr@hotmail.com

Hey Josh, just wanted to know is there any film you enjoyed so far this year at all?? I seriously think alot of movies now really do suck, like Cabin Fever. I only think in my opinion I liked so far was Kill Bill.

P.S. Are you ever gonna come out with another film again? I still enjoy watching Running Time, ever since I got it back in '99(I Believe).

Dear Tommy, Jr.:

I'm trying to get another film made, honestly. To me "Kill Bill, Volume 1" looks like it could be the worst film of all time, but of course I have my own strange criteria. Meanwhile, I haven't seen very many 2003 releases, and the ones I have seen, sucked, like "Open Range" and "Mystic River." But I have finally caught up on most of the 2002 releases, and I'm certainly glad I didn't waste my time and money going to the theater to see those films.

Josh

Name: Angelo Mike
E-mail: mmike10371@aol.com

Dear Josh:

Here's some info on Jim something (the Jesus actor) who was struck by lightning on the set (yes, on the set) of The Passion: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/entertainment/3209223.stm

He wasn't hurt badly, but smoke was coming out of his ears. Additionally, his shoulder was dislocated during shooting, and he was accidentally whipped twice.

Dear Angelo:

Thanks for the info. I think God was trying to stop that production, and was offended at the casting of a gentile as a Jew. That's what I think, but I could be wrong.

Josh

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

Re: Jesus struck by lightning.

It sounds like the actor is okay. He was struck during production, while he was standing beside an assistant director who was holding an umbrella. In fact that same AD had been previously hit on the shoot on another day while, yep, holding an umbrella.

Dear Daniel:

Well, that's good to hear. We don't want God smoting out actors, do we?

Josh

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

Dear Josh,

Happy Halloween! Thanks for the bitchin' list of films. I now have 138 movies in my Netflix rental queue. It's going to be a movie-licious Fall and Winter.

Saw "Texas Chainsaw: The Remake" last night. Not that you're going to go, but don't go. It pretty much ruins the memory of the original, which retained its creepiness because of the 16mm "home movie" feel. This thing looked like a music video. Pore-free, gorgeous, scantily clad men and women, hacked tastefully to bits because they're bad, Skynrd-lovin', pot smokin' people. R. Lee Ermey was great, but he's always great. I mean, he's always R. Lee Ermey. Anyway.

Have a great weekend. I hope you party yourself silly.

Cindy

Dear Cindy:

R. Lee Ermey played Bruce's dad on "Brisco County." When I finally saw "The Boys in Company C" again it shocked me that Ermey plays the drill sergeant and it's exactly the same performance as "Full Metal Jacket" ten years earlier. I don't blame Ermey for that, he's terrific in both of them (although he clearly had his teeth fixed between them, so he's younger and tougher-looking in "Boys"), but it really made me feel let-down by Kubrick, who just stole the whole thing, and the actor, from another film. Anyway, part of what makes the original TCM is the characterizations -- Franklin, the fat, ugly guy in the wheelchair; the crazy hitchhiker ("It's a good knife. You can pay me now. Five dollars"). But, once again, lack of money caused them all to be far more imaginative in the original, which they didn't have to be in the remake.

Josh

Name: Mike
E-mail: z@evilgeniusentertainment.com

Hey Josh,

I saw Ben's question and your response to the whole piracy issue and could not keep my mouth shut. I think you're absolutely right - it's a knee-jerk panic response to changes in technology and the world at large. It seems to be related to their overwhelming laziness and unwillingness to change their business model - the same laziness that has them cranking out $100 million dollar pieces of crap faster than a Thai sweatshop turns out Nikes. They don't want to update their distribution methods and practices any more than they want to stop making Vin Disel movies. Frankly I have no problem with people pirating Pearl Harbor or the blockbuster du jour. I mean, God help you if you actually want to watch it, but it's not like the Bays and Bruckheimers are hurting for cash, and the unions get paid no matter what. If all they understand is profits then the only way to register our displeasure is to deny them our money, either by refusing to go to their movies (my preferred method of protest) or by having copies available for free on the net. So if you must see Pearl Harbor, please - do the responsible thing and download it.

That said, when it comes to independent film-makers - people who work outside the system and who are bleeding and scrimping to make their films - that's where piracy is *not* a Good Thing. These are the people who need and deserve your money, as they can offer an alternative to the dross that oozes out of Hollywood. It's all about vigilante consumerism.

Anyway, that's my $.02 Please feel free to agree or disagree, and keep up the good work!

Thanks for your time,

Mike

Dear Mike:

Hey, you're agreeing with me, why would I disagree with you? This whole piracy deal is just a put-on to cover the extreme lack of quality of the product, and the loss of revenue coming from less and less people going to the movies every year. Just like with CDs. The CD market was great just as long as people were still trying to replace their record collections and re-buying all of The Beatles, Pink Floyd, and David Bowie's recordings. As soon as that was accomplished and the music industry had to depend on just new music, it all went into the crapper. If you want to see the catalog value of a recording, go into a used CD store -- you won't find any Beatles CDs, but there will be hundreds of copies of anything new, like Eminem or Britney Spears, which people buy because they're hip for a second, then don't even want them in their house. Over the course of 25 years I have purchased "Dark Side of the Moon" on vinyl, then on 8-track, then again on cassette, then again on CD. If the next technology is a pill I stick in my ear, I'll buy that, too. A year after Eminem puts out a recording you can't give the fucking thing away. The product is the problem, not piracy.

Josh

Name: Saul Trabal
E-mail: ghost_kingdom@yahoo.com

Heya Josh,

Two of my favorite movies from the 1970s are THE LAST DETAIL and MIDNIGHT COWBOY (or did COWBOY come out in 1969? I forget.) I got to see COWBOY on its 25th anniversary, on the big screen at a theater on 59th Street and 3rd Avenue in New York City. DAMN, is this film good. And so is THE LAST DETAIL. I could watch each of these films a million times and not get bored.

Sadly, this is why I haven't gone into film-and why I am concentrating solely on trying to publish short stories and novels. I **might** take a shot at writing a script to sell just for the experience-but I happen to be a hard realist-which is why I pay close attention to people like Harlan Ellison, you and Bruce Campbell when they talk about the realities of the industry. There's just too much bullshit happening in Hollywood, and as you say, they don't give a damn about good stories. Everything has to be done by yesterday, and it doesn't matter how bad the film is, as long as it's out there. It's pretty much why I consider Hollywood movies fast food for the brain-and also why I feel expecting otherwise is incredibly naive.

I couldn't agree with you more about the shit coming out of Hollywood. And no offense to Rob Tapert and Lucy Lawless-but even though I'm a big Xena fan and I enjoy what they both have done in other venues, I'd rather not see a big screen remake of Xena. 134 episodes is enough, and there are too many remakes out there nowadays. I understand that a remake of the Six Million Dollar Man is under development. Ugh.

Take care.

Saul

Dear Saul:

Yes, those are both great movies. "Midnight Cowboy" was Best Picture of 1969, which was pretty amazing at the time considering it was rated X -- there hasn't been an X-rated Best Picture since then, either. And in "The Last Detail," which is really a very low-budget film, it's all in the writing, acting, and directing, not the production value, which really means very little, I think. In fact, I'm convinced that the more money you have the less imagination will end up on the screen -- money is the antithesis of imagination. And who's talking about a Xena feature? I haven't heard Rob say anything.

Josh

Name: Ben
E-mail: dabrowskigroup@yahoo.com

Josh,

A few thoughts have been floating around my head lately, but I wasn't going to bother bringing them up until "The Passion" came up again in the boards. For the record, Jim Caviezel is okay--in fact, so is the other guy that got hit. I don't know the details, but I heard there were two or three strange weather occurences on the set. I wasn't sure if you were being sardonic, but then, if a human being get struck by lightning, I would be the insensitive one to think that you would make fun of it, regardless of the problems you have with the project.

In any case, what I have been thinking about is the whole anti-Semitism controversy surrounding the movie. My explanation comes from a Traditional Catholic's standpoint (I don't know any Trads who would disagree), not a misinformed, modern Catholic. Therefore, I don't expect anyone to understand it, either, but I'll try.

One website countered in the film's defense, saying that it was the "sinfulness of man that crucified Christ." Now, that may seem too abstract to non-Catholics, but really, it's the truth. A portion of the Jews, as well as pharisees and the Romans (and others of the society of the day) were all responsible for the death of the man. But it was in God's plan, since the exile of man from the Garden of Eden, to send a Saviour to die for our sins. And when Gibson says that the film is meant to "inspire, not offend," we should take that to heart. A movie about Hitler would ultimately show us what a monster he was. This movie, among Traditional Catholics, will only make us think about the extreme suffering he endured for love of us. If I look at the Jews or others negatively while I watch the film, I will surely also be remorseful of how even I turn my back on Christ and the faith, and fail on a regular basis.

The ADL is responsible for every bit of anti-Semitism that has been generated by this movie so far. If the ADL never existed, I wouldn't have thought, "Oh, those rotten Jews. I'm going to go vandalize their homes." They make ridiculous comments and demands, and my initial reaction is at least uncharitable. Since I have thought it through, I have been able to reign back my emotions and say calmly that they are making problems for themselves. They even admit that they hadn't gotten any hate-mail until they began making comments in the press. I think the proof is in the pudding.

And about that girl's opionion of "One Hour Photo," at the very least, does it make you happy that someone is thinking through a film that much, and actually have reasons for liking it, rather than clinging to effects and stars? Or is it all for naught if the defend crappy movies?

Ben

Dear Ben:

I think she is clinging to stars and money. For some folks the expensive production and star lead obscure what they're really seeing, as well as just being somewhat thoughtless and internally saying "I'll forgive all the plot holes." To say that Robin Williams' character is "Christ-like" in "One-Hour Photo" and actually believe it is totally absurd in my opinion. Would Jesus stalk a family? Would Jesus hold a couple at knife-point, threatening their lives? It's all a weak rationale for a poorly-written script. Had they really made Williams a full-out psycho-stalker clearly a big studio wouldn't have made it and Robin Williams wouldn't have starred in it. So they've ended up with a mushy, almost-a-psycho story that's just weak.

So, on a basic level a "Traditional Catholic" is right and a "Modern Catholic" is "misinformed"? I also have real problems when referring to mythology and making statements about "truth." Religion, at it's very heart, is based on lies. All this nonsense about heaven and hell is pure speculation. There isn't a single living human being that knows for a fact if there's a heaven or a hell, and to say so is to lie. You can call it faith if you'd like, but it's just another name for lying to yourself. If you want to honor God, do something with the life you were given, because when you're dead, you're dead. Anyone that puts more credence in the afterlife than in their present life is a moron. If it makes you happy to believe that some Jewish guy died for your sins 2000 years ago, terrific, don't for as second believe there's any "truth" in the explanation. The truth is that the Romans had a troublemaker executed, just like many, many others, and crucifixtion was the Romans' preferred form of execution. That a religion sprung up around this event is not all that uncommon. And since the predominate religion at the time was Zoroastrianism, which put extreme emphasis on the arrival of a messiah, as did the Jews, too, and that's where it came from. But this idea that your religion is right and all of the others are wrong is offensive to me. It's divisive and makes the world a worse place. And since we do know for a fact that Jesus was Jewish, casting a gentile in the part is, as always, offensive as well.

Josh

Name: alice schultz
E-mail: alice.schultz@sympatico.ca

Mr Becker, concerning One Hour Photo, I'd like to suggest that it is in fact a really, really competent achievement in sleight-of-hand. Practically all the way through, we take it for yet another film about a psycho. At the very end, we realize we've had it wrong all along. Sy is not obsessive. Sy loves "his" family with a real, simple, fully appropriate love, and takes the steps he takes not to punish them or satisfy some perverse impulse in himself, but to save them. His own childhood history tells him this family is on the road to disaster. This being realized, through a shock treatment of his own devising, he bumps the "bad father" back on track. The look that passes between husband and wife after the ordeal, in the final moment when we see then together at home, should tell us that Sy has been successful. The "bad father" has seen his behaviour as it really is thanks to the trauma in the hotel room, and has acquired a new seriousness.

In other words Sy's motivation is not destructive, it is interventionsl. He acts to save and repair, to to hurt. Since his actions do hurt, can his ends be said to justify his means? This is where the whole police business comes in: Sy gets the police on his own trail BEFORE he acts IN ORDER to be caught. That is, he fully intends to pay the penalty for the pain he is about to inflict. He knows the pair in the hotel room will probably never report him, out of shame. So he sets up his own capture. Again, this isn't a demented man, but a highly moral, entirely sane man driven to drastic action by his own drastic past. His actions are fuelled, not by hatred, but by the love greater than which no man has, which is to lay down his life for his friends. And I repeat, it works. We are definitely supposed to understand this from the final scenes.

As to the deed itself, consider the details: Sy enters the hotel room armed not with a gun, but only with a knife. In other words, it's a fair fight if anyone wants to fight. Sy doesn't force the couple to commit any sexual acts, he only forces them to pretend. And the real stunner: he was never really taking the photos. He just pretended to. None of it is for anything but to shock the couple into awareness. Sy himself has not a perverted bone in his body, and that he hates everything he's doing is surely this is clear enough in the hotel scenes.

Many critics noted that the film was curiously soft-edged in some ways for a film about a psycho. That's because it's a film about something else entirely, and part of its function is to make us examine our own prejudices and preconceptions. In my first viewing (I watched it twice), I was confused by the music as much as by some other things, because it was beautiful and pleasing in a way that just didn't suit the psycho material. Something I clearly remember, too, is how during the first viewing, when the searchlights centre on Sy in the moment of arrest in the parking garage, I thought of the Christ image. It made no sense whatever at the time -- I still had no idea this wasn't a psycho -- and yet the image was able to assert itself for a moment before it disappeared again till I could assimilate things later. I don't want to exaggerate things by bringing in the Christ image -- but I strongly doubt it's any coincidence that Sy's last name is "Parrish" (perish/parish), and on the second viewing I noticed that Sy is for Seymour ("see more").

Incidentally, that child's action figure about which I know nothing -- something Evangelion etc. -- is intentionally linked to Sy in the dream sequence where Sy is standing in a sort of corridor and the shelves extend from either side of him exactly like the action figure's wings. And the knife parallels the sword. I wouldn't know what all the connections might be, but I do know we're supposed to get this much from the film --
Evangelion (whatever) is a "good guy" as the child says in the store, and SO IS SY; not a villain, but the hero.

In the same dream sequence, Sy suddenly bleeds from his right eye. In the hotel conference room right after the confrontation, we see a visual of a surgeon's instrument on the verge of entering a right eye. This connection first of all indicates a certain prophetic capabaility in Sy -- he "sees more" than we do, he sees the future in some sense that is not overly specified, but nevertheless is meant to enforce that if his instincts tell him this family is headed for real tragedy, they really are. In other words, he's not just acting on a fancy. The device only seems a little arbitrary if we take it too literally -- we are meant to nuance it. The connection with the surgeon/surgery also underscores that Sy's motivation is healing, not harming.

I apologize, I have written at length and also clumsily and hastily. I would suppose you won't post this on your website -- I strongly, strongly hope you will not because it gives away the ending of the film, or rather tells the excellent and fine secret of the film, in advance (if I'm right about these things that is), which is unforgiveable in film commentary of course. So I don't expect an answer from you. If I am right, this is in no way a weak or random script, but a subtle, perfectly balanced, and truly masterful achievement in a certain kind of moral statement. You may not agree, but thanks for listening. Respects and regard,

Alice Schultz

Dear Alice:

I'm glad you liked it. Leonard Maltin liked it, too. I, on the other hand, did not. No matter how you rationalize it, he's still a psycho because he's intruding himself into a random family that's not his own, therefore he's nuts. The scene in the hotel room would not be done by a rational person, no matter what the outcome, nor could he know in advance he wouldn't have to use that knife and cut someone. As for it being "a subtle, perfectly balanced, and truly masterful achievement," what about all of the extra prints he's making? Is he just stupid? The guy is supposed to be an expert, but he doesn't realize there's a counter on the printing machine? If he's not a psycho, why has he covered his wall with hundreds of photos of someone else's family? I'm sorry, but I do think it's a lame script that's gutlessly trying to make a psycho-stalker film, but hasn't got the balls to really do it. And am I supposed to honestly believe he's fixed the problems of that family? It's ridiculous.

Josh


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