it as i just read Mark Gados account of crowley...the
remark wipe the seat had me laughing man some of them
were tough in there last seconds on this earth in the
death chamber bob elliot shouldnt have been so quick
with that goddam switch as people have a right to speak..i
beleive when the military executed soldiers here in
england the proceedings took up to an hour speeches
etc..the verdict readout..
almost like a party canned beer passed around way to
go..not that way..great writing all best dave
there's a definitely a movie there with "Two-Gun"
Crowley. One of these days . . .
sure you've heard this argument about other anime shows,
but Cowboy Bebop is definitely not a kid's show. At
least, it's not one I'd let *my* kids watch until they
were at least thirteen, if I had kids. The premise of
the show is that in the future, man leaves the earth
behind and is spread out all over the galaxy. And as
man spread, so did crime. However, the police have become
too corrupt and spread too thin to be effective as enforcers
the law. So to compensate, the police and private institutions
employ the services of bounty hunters to bring in fugitives.
Cowboy Bebop follows the exploits of a group of four
of these bounty hunters. If you ever do decide to watch
it, it's on Cartoon Network's adult swim. Again, I'm
not saying that Bebop is a typical example of anime,
I'm just saying that if you want to find anime that
even approaches being good, you have to look beyond
the ones they show on Kids' WB. And as far as animation
being a format for children, you of all people should
realize that the first animated cartoons were not created
with children in mind as the main audience.
the very first animated films by Winsor McCay were simply
experiments in film technique and drawing, intended
for the amazement of young and old. Then, for many years
cartoons were short subjects in front of the feature,
so they were intended for everyone, as were the first
animated features by Walt Disney, then by Max Fleischer.
But once TV took hold in the '50s and the old cartoons
were packaged as TV shows and shown on Saturday morning,
then animation became intended for kids. Animation was
what originally piqued my interest in film, but I'll
be damned if it interests me at all anymore. I can still
watch the old Bugs Bunnys or any of the Warners cartoons,
or really any of the cartoons from the 1930s and '40s,
and I particularly like the oddball stuff, like Rudolph
Ising or any of the Fleischer bros. work, which has
astounding animation. Since then, however, animation
has gotten simpler and simpler, and far less interesting
to me. And most of that anime stuff, to me, looks like
crap, with very few actual drawing being made. That
"Cowboy Bepop" has adult-oriented scripts
is swell, but I just don't care. Sorry.
while back I had noticed that Raiders of the Lost Ark
used to be on the films you actively like list. After
reading the post where you claimed that you thought
it was crap from the get go, I have to wonder if it
was listed by mistake, or if you initially liked something
about it. Second, I was wondering what your thoughts
were on Easy Rider. I saw it for the second time yesterday,
and like many things about it. I understand that It
was a refelction of late 60s counterculture, but thought
it got a tad pretentious at times, especially during
the scene with Karen Black in the cemetery. I understand
that the charactors were high, which is what Hopper
was trying to convey, but it strangely reminded me of
certain stylistic choices that pretentious contemporary
directors, such as Spike Jonze and Paul Thomas Anderson,
use. Perhaps the true difference is that Easy Rider
had a theme, and was a reflection of a cultural movement,
whereas Anderson and Jonze have nothing to say. What
are your thoughts?
my, but aren't we the observant one. Quite frankly,
I don't know how "Raiders" got on my fav list,
but I suspect it was that lousey son of a bitch Gerry
who started this website a million years ago. He had
undue influence on me early on as the site was being
built and several films that I wasn't really crazy about,
but which Gerry liked and had found good pictures for,
and thus they got on there. One by one over the years
I've noticed them and had them removed, hoping no one
would ever take me to task for it. Alas, that day has
come. Anyway, I like "Easy Rider" a lot. I
think it's fun, well-shot, and so clearly of it's time
and reveling in it, and of course it has a terrific
ending. Also, the wacky editing that nobody else has
ever bothered to use again. Jack Nicholson is brilliant,
and so is Dennis Hopper. And the scene where they get
Nicholson stoned is one of the greatest scenes in a
movie ever (Nicholson takes the joint and says, "So,
then you say it's okay?" and when they're done
Peter Fonda stubs out the roach and says, "We'll
smoke it in the morning, it'll give you a whole new
perspective on the day.") Really, what more can
you ask for from a low-budget movie? I immediately went
home and sewed an American flag on the back of my army
Speaking of John Boorman, I just read an interesting
article of his on an aussie website: www.theage.com.au/articles/2004/01/08/1073437409701.html
He makes some great points and its a shame that he's
finding it so difficult to find work anymore. I haven't
seen a whole lot of his movies, just Point Blank and
Deliverance, but you would think a guy with his talent
would be able to get hired for something. I wonder if
some of it has to do with ageism. I know an older screenwriter
who wrote a bunch of movies in the 70s and 80s including
Philadelphia Experiment who doesn't get hired for movies
anymore. I guess since the target audience anymore is
16 year old boys, the studios dont trust an experienced
(older) screenwriter to make something the kids will
like. I wonder what Hollywood will do if suddenly 16
year old boys find another form of entertainment to
replace movies. When you figure that the summer movies
are costing upwards of $300 mill or so to make and market,
all it would really take is a couple of these to completely
bomb and the studios would be out of business. Probably
not gonna happen anytime soon, but who knows. I wouldn't
be all that disappointed if we had a few less lotrs
or batman movies. Apparently this is happening with
the tv networks, where the ratings for 18-24 males is
down a huge number this season so they're trying to
come up with mid-season shows for a different audience.
I guess video games are good for something.
a good article, and I agree with most everything he's
saying except the snide comments about script structure.
Although I think Boorman is talented director, I've
never much cared for his writing (regarding "Deliverance,"
which he says he wrote, it was based on a book by James
Dickey, who wrote a script that Boorman rewrote, and
Dickey got the sole credit). Nevertheless, he sums up
the Hollywood system quite well at this juncture, and
I too would love to see the whole system collapse under
its own stupid weight. And there's probably nowhere
on earth where ageism is more rampant than Hollywood.
They don't want strong directors or strong writers because
the executives are not interested in those folk's opinions.
It's their job to do as they're told. Also, with global
economics at work, and most films being shot somewhere
other than the USA, it's simply cheaper to work with
inexperienced, non-union directors, who make less money
and are much more willing to be pushed around. This
system will ALWAYS produce bad films. Any system that
doesn't value experience is a bad, fucked-up system.
My heart fills with pride. I welcome your constructive
tip, made all the more welcome by your refrain from
just calling me a "Wordy Bastard." Thanks.
As a show of gratitude, I'll take up this daunting task
you've set before me:
I don't care anymore about The Lord of the Rings. At
first, what was promised to be a faithful fantasy adaptation
seemed interesting, despite the fact that I wasn't able
to get past page 120 in the first book without feeling
utterly lost. The cast themselves seem able enough to
carry the story, given a decent script and director,
but that's not the case here. The characters are stiff
as a board, and the dialogue borders on community theater
melodrama. Peter Jackson has no idea how to handle a
story of this magnitude, and hence covers up his ineptitude
with constant epic wide shots and "ominous"
close-ups on the ring. Trim out all the swooping shots
of the landscape and cutaways to the EEEEVIL ring, and
you lose a good hour of extraneous crap.
Is that an expression anymore? But, hey, I realize that
there always has to be a "cool, new thing,"
whatever it may be. Star Warses or Matrixes or whatever.
As Paul Simon says, "Every generation throws a
hero up the pop charts." But this stuff now just
isn't very good. I mean, I can completely go along with
Dorothy in "The Wizard of Oz," and that's
a fantasy, because I'm given Act I, in black & white,
with her on the farm, and how she'd like to go over
the rainbow somewhere, and how Mrs. Gulch wants to take
her dog, and how she runs away and meets the fortune-teller
("Poor girl, I hope she gets home all right"),
and by the time the twister comes and she gets knocked
on the head, I completely empathize with her when she
goes off into fantasy land. In "The Lord of the
Rings," a ten-hour adaptation of three novels,
they didn't think it was necessary to get me to know
or care about their lead characters. Well, I'm sorry,
but everything else is bullshit. It's frosting on a
cardboard cake, and I'm not buying it even if everybody
E-mail: upon payment
unto thee, Josh,
Salutations once again, from the jerk who suggested
that you subject yourself to watching NARC (just to
elaborate on how crap it was). Sorry about that.
But on the subject of analyzing films, I've noticed
that you and I have the same distaste for the sycophantic
movie critics judging our cinema as of late. Hardly
any of them put real thought or value in the art of
filmmaking, simply passing off movies that they didn't
have too much of a problem sitting through with a pithy
little quip. And one of the worst goddamn phrases in
human history has to be "good, mindless fun."
It's guys like Roger "loves tits" Ebert and
his motard cohort Roeper who perpetuate these lowered
standards for films, and in turn lowered expectations
of people. It's gotten to the point that the only people
I trust are Leonard Maltin (who's been MIA from the
game, making bumper ads for low-rent movie channels)
and you, for the most part. So I've gotten into the
habit of writing my own critiques, if only to establish
my own firm viewpoints on movies. And I'm just fucking
tired of my non-cinemaphile friends hassling me about
my opinions on movies.
I've posted a couple of them in a Blog, because I'm
too much of an idiot to wangle with HTML. If you're
at all interested in reading them, perhaps to compare
notes or give me pointers, I'd be much obliged.
I have one for Kill Bill (yes, I hated it):
And another for The Station Agent:
back at you, Calvin:
read the first 17 or so paragraphs of your "Kill
Bill" review and bailed. I think you're trying
a bit to hard to be witty, and I don't think you need
to begin with the history of Quentin Tarantino at this
late date, we all know it. You write well, and you've
got emotion, so just tell me what you think and why.
And since I haven't seen "Kill Bill," or the
"The Station Agent," I can't comment on the
validity of your opinions. For me anyway, this is a
contentious issue -- state in a paragraph what you think
of the "Lord of the Rings" movies (as I did
a minute ago), and you don't need to give me a bio of
Tolkein or Peter Jackson.
I heard on NPR this evening that just under 9000 Army
troops had been evacuated from Iraq for medical treatment
of injuries and/or sickness. That is the Army only.
The NPR reporter couldn't get figures on the other services,
only runarounds from department spokespersons.
I'm just curious, which ending in "Raiders"
did you object to; the part where Jones and the woman
don't get killed by the specters, being good gentiles,
or the one where the Ark gets stored in a giant warehouse
which, we are meant to believe, is full of such antiquities
and oddities. That part reminded me of the line from
"Python and the Holy Grail" where the Frenchmen
replies, "We've already got one!"
That series of movies is another example of Spielberg's
conception of Nazi's as cardboard cutouts without redeeming
qualities. One can imagine the thought process;
Spielberg: "Let's makes the bad guys Nazis!"
End of thought process.
Again, to give him his due, Spielberg did have some
good shots in that film. He probably would have made
a fine DP, or even cinematographer. But it isn't just
the Nazis; Spielberg sees everyone and everything as
black and white. Oddly, given that the bad guys are
always completely bad in a Spielberg movie, there is
never a sense of menace, unless it is in the threat
of a sequel. Only in "Jaws" is there a true
sense of menace and I agree with you that "Jaws"
is not truly a Spielberg film.
Interesting sidenote on that. I watched a "Making
of" show on "Jaws" and the mechanical
shark was developed in fresh water and basically dissolved
in the salt water of the sea. As a result they redid
the story boards and only let the audience see the shark
at the end, because they could only shoot a very limited
amount with the mechanical. In other words, what makes
"Jaws" so great ran counter to Spielberg's
"vision" of the movie. It turned out so well
because of technical difficulties.
It would be a real treat to some day see someone post
an insult to you in proper grammar. I kain't haardlee
reed sume of thim.
you're making a simple-minded action-serial, why have
such a nonsequitur, cynical ending where you're suddenly
saying, out of nowhere, that the American government
hides all the good things from us? There isn't a second's
set-up for that ending, and it therefore sucks the big
one. I saw the film with my dad, and we both came out
of theater, lit a cigarette, shook our heads and muttered,
"Well, that was a piece of crap." Then it
became the biggest hit of the year. But then, the biggest
hit of the year before was "The Empire Strikes
Back," and I though that sucked even worse. And
since then it's been one film after another just like
them -- meaning stupid and very poorly written. Spielberg
uses the same idiotic set-up in both "1941"
and "Raiders," which didn't work in either
one, as far as I'm concerned. In "1941" a
guy (Treat Williams? I forget) keeps saying, "I
hate eggs!" then finally ends up being thrown into
a big box of eggs. In "Raiders" Indy gets
into the plane, and incongruously finds a snake, and
says, "I hate snakes!" For a while there,
me and my buds regularly ridiculed Spielberg by saying,
"I hate snake eggs!" It's all just knuckled-headed
writing. Yes, Spielberg does know how to set up a shot,
but so what? There's a lot more to filmmaking than finding
a nice place for the camera. A DP is a cinematographer,
seem to remember you not having a high opinion of Japanese
animation in general. Not that I blame you if you don't
like Japanese cartoons. I'd say that approximately 95%
of the Japanese cartoons that cross over to America
are total crap. But keep in mind that not every one
of them is a Pokemon knockoff. Have you ever seen Cowboy
Bebop? If you can watch an episode of Cowboy Bebop and
can honestly say you hate it, then I will never ask
you to comment on japanese cartoons ever again.
sorry, but I just don't care about animation anymore,
and certainly not anime. I loved cartoons as a kid,
but I grew up. When I was a child I spake as a child,
I thought as a child, but now I'm a man, and I've put
away childish things. You like that? I just made it
up. Everyone (particularly directors like Spielberg
and Lucas) are always talking about their fucking "inner
child," well mine grew up, and now I'm more concerned
about my outer adult. But I did like "Kimba the
White Lion" when I was ten.
agree; DELIVERANCE is an excellent film. His handling
of the rural characters is interesting in that he doesn't
lean one way or the other about them politically, no
matter what they do. Most filmakers either totally lampoon
rural people as hopelessly backward hillbillies, with
comedic effect, or just as totally worship them as the
salt of the earth, keepers of morals and wisdom the
wider world has forgot, etc. Boorman simply puts the
camera on them and lets them act as they will (in the
case of the story, clannish and hostile to outsiders),
which is much more believable.
Another good film that I resaw recently was SCARFACE
(the Brian DePalma version). Al Pacino's performance
is excellent, and he doesn't speak one complete sentence
in Spanish throughout the entire film! Some would criticize
the director's choice of casting a non-Hispanic actor
to play the Cuban Tony Montana, but Pacino sold it.
Speaking of Pacino, I also watched THE GODFATHER again
recently. I still can't believe that Coppola assembled
such an all-star cast, and that it all worked (that
movie was definitely an actor's film, not a movie star
vehicle). I guess sometimes you just get lucky, and
it all comes together at the right place and time.
a lot of talent involved there, too. Coppola did pull
it off again brilliantly with "Godfather Part II,"
so it wasn't just luck. Coppola's conception of the
whole thing and his empathy with the characters is incredible.
The photography, production design, music, costumes,
locations, everything is just perfect. And, unlike "Scarface,"
Pacino is giving a very subdued, believable performance.
Mr. Pacino is fun in "Scarface," but it's
a ridiculous, way-over-the-top, performance, and I really
found the last 45 minutes of that film to be very dull.
It's sort of interesting to me that people are taking
that film far more seriously now than they did when
it came out. It wasn't critically acclaimed, nor was
it a very big success. For my money I'll still take
Howard Hawks' 1932 version. There's nothing in the remake
as good as Boris Karloff being murdered while he's bowling
-- he's shot just as he lets go of the ball, he dies,
then gets a strike. Nor is there anything as cinematically
interesting in the remake as Hawks's opening tracking
shot. Nevertheless, DePalma's remake is probably better
than any film produced in the last five years, so I
see why people are now taking it seriously. But it's
still a joke of a movie.
I know you just read John Boorman's autobiography and
I am going to get it soon.
I just wanted to say that he is one of my favorite contemporary
Directors. With the exception of "Where the Heart
is" which we both know was changed by Hollywood
from his original idea, I actually enjoy all of his
films and even "Beyond Rangoon" had very good
moments in it, but the story was too contrived.
"Hope and Glory" is one of my favorite films
of all time!
I agree with you and he that Hollywood beat him up badly
and I am glad to see that he is making his own films
now. even if they are not as great as his earlier ones.
I have to rent "Point Blank" again. Netflix
dosen't have it yet. It is not on DVD yet.
just watched "Point Blank" again and it's
a very interesting movie that had a lot of influence
on the tough-guy films that followed it, particularly
Walter Hill's films. I watched "Hope and Glory"
again, too, and I enjoyed it, but I think it's dramatically
fucked up. The family spends all of acts I and II being
bombed by the Germans in London during WWII, then their
house gets blown up at the end of act II, so they go
stay with the grandfather who lives in a pretty little
house on the Thames River, and the spend all of act
III having a swell time swimming, boating, and playing
cricket. Well, why the hell didn't they go there in
the first place? Why stay in London and be bombed when
you have such a lovely, happy place you could go? Would
it have been inconvenient for the grandfather? Once
they leave London, the film dramatically falls apart.
I also just watched his 1998 Irish film, "The General,"
and it was a severe bore. At least the girls in "Beyond
Rangoon" are cute.
Fair enough. I can appreciate your point of view on
Spielberg, as much as I disagree.
As to my second question, what are your thoughts on
Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings films?
I just don't see how you could find fault with them.
They are phenomenal, and the new film mythology of our
think they're as dull as watching paint dry. I think
the writing and characterization are just terrible,
I didn't give a rat's ass about Elija Wood or Sean Astin,
and therefore I didn't care about anything. It has possibly
the most convoluted, gobbledy-gook exposition ever in
a movie, and I could really care less about this stupid
ring. Peter Jackson's staging of dialog scenes is so
flat-footed it was painful. I absolutely hated it. And
the effects did nothing for me. And at a combined length
of ten hours, this may the longest, dullest piece of
shit ever produced. These films are a perfect representation
of where the art of moveimaking has descended to, which
is that they could well have been made by a machine
-- scan the books in and it vomits those movies out.
see that politics has once agin become the topic of
discussion. I do have a movie related question/opinion,
but I'm curious to know your thoughts on the media's
lenientcy toward GW's fuck ups! I was not around during
Watergate, so my only point of reference is Clinton's
impeachment, which the media jumped on. I guess when
it comes to the media, sex is an easier sell than say
war profeteering or lies about weapons of mass destruction.
This is the first time I have ever seen fear and intimidation
turn our society into mindless sheep. It is also the
first time I have seen public opinion be easily swayed
by some half truth the media reports. The biggest, and
most irresponsible lie in recent months is that the
economy had the greatest recovery in 20 years due to
the lame brained tax cuts. Tell that to the 6 million
people who have lost their jobs since 2001,or our grandchildren
who will be paying for the increasing defecit. In any
event, I don't know who's at fault, the so called "liberal"
media deviating from what is really important, or the
majority of the populace who take everything at face
value, and can't think for themselves. Now that I got
that off my chest, I just saw Once Upon a Time in the
West last night, and loved every minute of it. It was
beautifly shot, well directed, and had a very engageing
story. I think it's Leone's best film. What did you
think of it?
is no liberal media. All media is controlled by conglomerates,
and all of which are run by right-wing conservatives.
If the white house says the economy is improving, they
report it with no comments. Just like all these stupid
polls they're forever flashing on CNN and MSNBC. That
Bush's approval rating is over 50%, and that most Americans
think the economy is improving. Do you really think
they're polling a true cross-section of Americans? I
don't think so. But it's not just about who's in the
white house, as we saw from Clinton's near-impeachment.
The Republicans are mud-slingers. What do you suppose
they would have done if a Democrat had fucked up as
royally as Bush has? He would have been impeached, that's
what. I'm ashamed of the Democrats for not trying get
Bush impeached -- lying about the "imminent threat"
from Iraq and the utterly bogus WMDs would easily have
gotten that asshole booted out of office if someone
had just pushed it. Regarding Watergate, the media treated
it like it was complete bullshit until it was proven
beyong a shadow of a doubt, then they switched sides.
for "Once Upon a Time in the West," well,
maybe it's Leone's best film. That or "The Good,
the Bad and the Ugly." For me anyway, Leone had
kind of snail's pace, his films are almost all 30-60
minutes too long, and there's a lot of standing and
posing. He did have style, and the casting in "Once"
is terrific, as is the use of wide-screen, but it kind
of bored me, as do all of his films.
what do you really think of Spielberg? haha, just joshing
with ya' I just saw Joe (Peter Boyle) and am wondering
what you thought about this movie. Reviews have asserted
Joe was the true prototype for Archie Bunker. I liked
the story quite a bit but the ending fell apart. The
male bonding was very interesting and seemed authentic.
It led me to wonder if any "chick flick" has
addressed as serious of themes as did Joe or other male
bonding movies. (racism, classism, sexism, drug use/abuse
all at the same time). Perhaps I haven't seen enough
movies, but it seems that all the real, "existential"
movies are centered on male relationships. (Zero Kelvin
is a great character study)
haven't seen "Joe" in over 30 years, but I
enjoyed it and thought it had things to say. I've always
felt that John Avlidsen's career was a major let-down.
He did "Joe," then "Rocky," then
never made a worthwhile film again, which includes all
of those idiotic "Karate Kid" movies. But
for the guy that directed "Joe," I always
felt he was one of the really big sell-outs. I can't
think of any female bonding movie that addresses a lot
of big issues. For some reason "The Group"
comes to mind, which is about eight female Vassar graduates
and what they go through after college, with gorgeous
young Candy Bergen. But it's from 1966 and I don't recall
it dealing with that many heavy issues.
read your last post, and your point is also valid. We
can't do everything for the Iraqis, or Iraq will end
up like Bosnia where, as one Air Force lieutenant-colonel
put it in a book, "the Serbs and Bosnians have
subcontracted the governing of their country to the
UN and the United States." At some point soon,
the Iraqis have to be on their own, sink or swim (it
is, in fact, moving towards that point even now). The
key to making that happen is tempering the tone of life
in the country. If the institutions start functioning
again, the economy continues to grow, and some sort
of homegrown stability is achieved, then the business
and professional classes will have the confidence to
sponsor the new government, one based on order and some
semblance of reason. If those efforts fail, than the
imams will rise to power on the backs of the unemployed
Shi'i in the cities, and Iraq will go the way of Iran,
only with 47% of the Middle East's oil to fund all kinds
of havoc on the world. Alot of people say that the war
was all about the oil, and in a way they were right.
Oil is money, money is power, and who holds the power
in the Middle East dictates the safety and stability
of the rest of the world. Therein lies the problem.
Mass poverty, radical religion, and vast wealth in the
wrong malicious hands is a recipe for disaster.
One last thing in passing, and I'll jump off the soapbox;
I have nothing but respect for the Kurds. Personally,
I think they have more than enough balls to make up
for the limpness of their Arab neighbors to the south,
and they deserve either autonomy or a lion's share in
the new government.
P.S. I'm gettin' too political; what do you say we go
back to movies?
let's try to stick to movies, but occasionally the issues
of the world just have to intrude. The Kurds want to
establish Kurdistan, but I don't think anyone will let
them. That will remain a problem, but it's not our problem.
Iraq shouldn't be exclusively our problem, either. If
GW hadn't done such a tremendous job of alienating America
from the whole rest of the world, as well as being so
horribly blatant about the rebuilding contracts, which
are just war profiteering, this would be an international
issue, like the Gulf War. We need to get out of there,
repair our relations with the rest of the world, and
let the international community take over. That's my
opinion. And as Dennis Kucinich said, until we get out
of Iraq, which has already cost nearly 500 American
lives (and fucked up nearly 3,000 more due to wounds),
as well as $200 billion, we can't even discuss domestic
issues because there's no money for them.
back to movies. I just watched "Deliverance"
again, and it's such a terrific, intelligent, strongly-written,
well-directed, beautifully shot, tremendously acted
film, it amazes me. There isn't a director working that
could have handled the film as well as John Boorman
did, and there's almost no hand-held camerawork in a
situation where everybody now would shoot that film
Cynthia E. Jones
Watched "Paths of Glory" last night. Amazing.
Wonderful. Fantastic. And surprisingly only 87 minutes
long, which is short for Kubrick! My favorite actor
in the film was Timothy Carey, whom I recognized from
"East of Eden" and "The Killing."
Great character actor. Haunted eyes. Apparently, he
pissed off both Elia Kazan and Marlon Brando while filming
with them in "Eden" and "One-Eyed Jacks,"
respectively. This apparently relegated him to B-movie-Actor
status and he is sadly forgotten these days.
Great flick. Another one I'm sure would never be made
If I'm not mistaken, I think that previous letter-writer
was concerned that you hadn't given Adam West his props
as "the first Batman." How dare you? West
is a phenomenon! Anyway...
don't know what everyone's problem is, I loved the "Batman"
TV show as a kid. I think Adam West made a far better
Batman than Michael Keaton or Val Kilmer or George Clooney.
I'll take the 1966 Batman movie over Tim Burton's any
day of the week because it's actually funny. And yes,
"Paths of Glory" is one of the great movies.
The tracking shots through the trenches are awesome,
the battle scenes are brilliantly filmed, and all of
the performances are terrific. I particularly enjoy
George Macready. Timothy Carey has the funniest line
in the film when the one guy is freaking out, saying
that cockroach will know more about his wife and kids
the next day than he will. Carey smashes the bug and
says, "There, now you've got the edge on it."
Okay, you're right. You got me. I'm generalizing a bit.
Some of your favorite films aren't worse than ANY of
Spielberg's films (I didn't like Hook or 1941 either.)
But films like First Blood and L.A. Story? They sit
among your favorites while you trash Saving Private
Ryan, Schindler's List, etc.?
I'm a huge fan of Spielberg's and truly think his work
deserves all of the acclaim it has received. Even you
have to respect the fact that he has never been pigeon-holed
into a genre (much like Tarantino and Scorsese) and
continues to push and challenge himself in new and interesting
ways. Come on...A.I. and Minority Report were interesting
and very fresh films, to say the least.
I'm a fan of your film Running Time and a big fan of
Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell. Considering the company
you keep and the films you've made, you're obviously
a very talented guy.
I just think your harsh approach to 9 out of every 10
films that are released is a bit much. It's almost like
you set out to hate the films that are considered the
I'm almost afraid to ask, but what do you think of the
Lord of the Rings films?
just have to agree to disagree. With no exaggeration,
"Minority Report" and "A.I." were
two of the most difficult movies to sit through that
I've ever had the displeasure of sitting through. Dreary
and endless. I really and truly hated them both. I'd
sit through "1941" again before either of
those two. "Catch Me If You Can" is a real
lame fuck film, but it was easier to sit through than
MR or AI. Spielberg may well be challenging himself
with each new film he makes, but he's not challenging
me. And certainly "Saving Private Ryann" and
"Schindler's List" are interesting subjects,
but he handles them like a dunce. As Pauline Kael said,
"Spielberg has become a truly dreadful director."
I'm one of the few people that has nnever liked "Raiders
of the Lost Ark," which I found to be an exceptionally
hollow experience, with a totally inappropriate ending.
But I do like "Jaws," I'll give him that,
although I'm convinced the reason I like it is because
it wasn't Spielberg's production.
sir are an idiot. I couldnt put it any better than you
yourself have said "We are living in a foolish
day and age". I can not agree more when people
fail to akowledge anything that happened before 1980.
What are you a complete ignorant moron? The first batman
movie stared Micheal Keaton? Amazing, let me guess you
dont know about the tv shows either do you? How about
I ever say that the first Batman movie didn't star Michael
Keaton? What the hell are you talking about? If English
is actually your first language, then I'd be careful
who I'm calling an ignorant moron, because you write
like you're in first-grade.
don't object to Operation Iraqi Freedom or even to soldiers
being in Iraq; my main beef is being here so LONG (one-year
boots on the ground is too long, especially for the
National Guard and the Reserves-six to nine months would
have been more reasonable). Since being here, I've met
alot of Iraqis who've benefited from ousting Saddam
Hussein, and it would be doing them dirty to leave Iraq
before a new government is fully in place. The new police
force and the army are in their infancy, and a pull-out
right now would mean chaos at best. At worst, Iraq would
become the next province of the new Iranian empire.
I can't speak for every soldier here, but I know that
as tired and ready to go home as I am, I want to look
back on this time and know that it wasn't in vain, that
some good came out of it. Iraq will probably always
be dangerous, but if everything's still standing a year
from now, I can look at that and be able to live with
I've enclosed some more pictures. One is one of tanks
patrolling the Abu Gharib Market (one of the shittier,
more crime-ridden districts of the city). The second
is two of our platoon leaders, the third is a long view
of the crossed sabers monument (from 1LT Chiverton's
disc; he had a better lenses and got more into frame)and
the last two are of two of our guys doing rooftop security,
shortly after the al-Khadra Police Station was car-bombed
a few months ago).
certainly see your point, but quite frankly I don't
think we owe those folks anything. We ousted Saddam
for them because they were too lame to do it themselves.
OK, that's been done. I seriously believe that the only
reason we're not actively bringing in the UN and foreign
troops is because we now want to profit off the spoils,
or at least let Bush and Cheney's cronies profit off
it. I don't give a shit about Haliburton or any of these
rebuilding contracts, and I don't think they're worth
a single American life. Sadly, I believe that whether
we're there for six more months or three more years,
when we leave the country will go the way it goes, which,
like Afghanistan, even with a new governing council,
immediately became the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.
The bottom line is, if and when the Iraqis ever get
one-man-one-vote, they'll get exactly the government
they want and deserve, and since they have an overriding
majority, that's how it will go. But removing Saddam
was definitely a good thing, and he sure as hell ain't
coming back. Now let's let them get on with their own
destiny, and let's get back to improving our own here
one more thing about gaffers, or at least this gaffer.
I don't do anything with electricity. My assistant,
Best Boy, handles all of that. I collaborate with the
Cameraman on the lighting.
don't mean to beat this issue into the dirt, and I have
no doubt that if I hired you to light my picture you
absolutely could do it, and very possibly quite well,
too. But a DP doesn't necessarily "collaborate"
with a gaffer. Conrad Hall could work with different
gaffers and still achieve the Conrad Hall look he was
after. Most of the DPs I've worked with over the past
20-odd years weren't really "collaborating"
with the gaffer, they were telling the gaffer what they
wanted and the gaffer then made it happen. Perhaps I'm
harping on this because I have the same issue with DPs.
One of the DPs along the way (a very talented guy, too)
said to me, "I thought this was a collaboration."
I replied, "You're mistaken, you work for me. That
doesn't mean you can't make suggestions, but we're not
collaborating, you're helping me achieve what I'm after.
I'm the director, I'm the captain of the ship, and you
are a lieutenant, not my co-captain." If that's
the case, the gaffer is the top sergeant to the DP's
lieutenant. Would you agree?
the answer for Diana's questions: David Letterman came
to the crossed swords monument on Christmas Eve to shake
hands and take autographs (as well as Paul Schaffer
and Biff Henderson; I have pictures with them as well).
It was simple to go see them, our compound is across
the street. The rumor was that he was taping a show
in Baghdad, but the visit wasn't part of it, more of
a "for the boys" goodwill visit. They handed
out Late Show T-Shirts as well as an offer for any soldier
there to go to a show taping in New York for free (which
I thought was really cool of Dave).
I'm with the 143rd Military Police Company (Combat Support),
Connecticut Army National Guard, out of Hartford, CT.
The unit wears the state headquarters patch (it's a
triangle with grapevines in it; we call it the taco
chip), but in the pictures, I'm wearing a 29th Infantry
Division patch (a round yin-yang symbol). Why? My previous
unit was part of the 29th, and the deployment left my
new unit short of the right patches (being common only
to the Connecticut Guard, they have to be special ordered),
so I figured it was better'n nothing.
As for the black thing clamped on the helmets, that's
the mounting bracket for night vision goggles, which
can be slipped off the bracket when not in use (good
thing, too; those goggles keep pulling your Kevlar down
over your eyes). The goggles can be flipped up away
from the face or taken off completely.
Hope that answers it,
all thank you for your answers, as well as for doing
what you're doing so we don't have to. On the presidential
debates yesterday from Iowa, I must say that I agree
with Dennis Kucinich the most -- the biggest issue,
no question, is being in Iraq, and we need to get out
ASAP. The very best way to support the troops is to
bring them home. Staying in Iraq for a couple of more
years is just plainly a bad idea, and we're never going
to stop losing soldiers there. And until we get out
of Iraq, we have no money to spend at home for health
care, social services or anything else. I don't know
what you folks in the military think, but that's my
opinion. Stay safe.
E-mail: upon request
The last e-mail I think I left out Dear Josh:, please
accept this as a correction.
okay, as you can see it does it automatically, whether
you think I'm dear or not.
E-mail: upon request, maybe
just rented the movie Monument Ave. I know it is not
a new movie, but it was better than I expected. I would
recommend it, but unless you are familiar with blue
collar northeast neighborhoods, that are in the process
of 'gentrification', I don't know if the viewer would
completely get it. Nonetheless, I think the story holds
its own and most people should be able to watch it.
The 'f' word is predominant, and drug use occurs, otherwise
the film is basically inoffensive.
Someone else mentioned that they would like to hear
more movie reviews from you. I would agree with this.
But that is up to you.
I also agree that Judgment at Nuremburg eclipses Schindler's
List for various reasons. I actually have been working
out the comparison in my mind and my post it here as
a post. I remember discussing this with someone (a Harvard
grad.) around 10 years ago when SL first was release
and he thought the the idea the JAN was better than
SL was absurd. What I think part of what is happening
here is that many people have forgotten Nuremburg completely.
I don't even think it is on DVD yet. It may have to
do with th e fact that it is in B&W. More on this
later, if you think it is worthwhile.
expound on the comparison as much as you'd like. Let's
face it, most people are unaware of most movies that
are 20 years old or older. There's also this ridiculous,
contemporary notion that anything new is good and better
than anything old. There's also this slobbering idolatry
of Steven Spielberg because he's so successful, even
though he's clearly a shallow simpleton. As Pauline
Kael so aptly put it in the wonderful last book about
her that came out not too long ago, "Afterglow,"
that Spielberg became a "truly dreadful director."
I find his films to be deeply stupid and unwatchable.
Whereas, my respect for Stanley Kramer continues to
rise. He was intelligent, the stories he told were generally
powerful, insightful, beautifully cast, and very well-made.
And he was a great producer before he became a director,
having produced such terrific, low-budget, films as:
"Champion," "The Men," "High
Noon," The Member of the Wedding," "The
Wild One," "The Caine Mutiny," "The
5,000 Fingers of Dr. T," "The Juggler,"
and many others. The major difference between "Schindler's
List" and "Judgement at Nuremburg" is
the intelligence behind the story, and the point they're
making. Spielberg, being sort of a dunce, chose the
story of the one good Nazi. Well, if the one good Nazi
got mixed in with all the others and got shoved off
a cliff, I could care less. But in "Judgement"
the story is much more complicated because it's a trial
about the German judges. A judge doesn't make the laws,
they only enforce them. If the country they live in
starts passing unfair laws, what is their responsibility?
That's an interesting issue. The point of SL seems to
be that Nazis are monsters, but Schindler was a really
good man. If Spielberg hadn't glossed over Schindler's
whole early life as a devout Nazi, using Jewish slave
labor in his factory, many of whom died along the way,
there's no way he could ever make him out to be a good
man. Oscar Schindler was an opportunist. When it was
good for Schindler to be a Nazi, he was a Nazi; when
it seemed like the only way to save his own ass was
to save some Jews, he saved some Jews. Schindler did
what was best for Schindler, and that is never touched
in the film. By saving those Jews, Schindler got off
at the Nuremburg trials -- and that's why he did it,
not that he didn't come to feel some sympathy for them
along the way, but unlike the way Spielberg depicts
it, he never cried and blubbered in front of them. That
Oscar Schindler is now considered a great man (being
lumped in with Marie Curie, Emile Zola, and Louis Pasteur
in a recent Academy Award montage), I find offensive.
Sorry I rattled on.
your assumption that Charlie Chaplin was even one iota
Jewish in any way, shape or form--- Take the time to
read a Chaplin biography. All of his biographers are
of one voice when they back up Chaplin's own claim that
he had dark hair because of a Gypsy grandmother. Research
has proven that he was telling the truth. Research all
indicates that he had not one single Jewish relative--religiously
Jewish, ethnically Jewish or otherwise. The rumors of
his being part-Jewish are wishful thinking on the part
of Jews who wanted role-models desperately. Like the
occasional [and fallacious] assumption by some that
Cary Grant was part Jewish. [The Website www.amiannoying.com
has him listed incorrectly as one of Hollywood's "Coolest
Jews".] Never mind the fact that he wasn't Jewish.
Likewise with Chaplin. The rumors are persistent--even
though they are demonstrably without foundation. I direct
you for a quick reference to www.jewhoo.com. They have
a great write-up on Chaplin.
took that essay, "Jews in Film," down years
ago, where did you read it? I wrote that essay about
ten years ago, and since then I have read Charlie Chaplin's
autobiography and I realize he was not a Jew, although
many people in Hollywood thought so. This may also stem
from Chaplin having been so vehemently anti-Hitler so
early, earlier than most anyone else in Hollywood. But
no, Charlie Chaplin was not Jewish.
E-mail: upon request
Amazing snapshots from Darryl Mesaros! What unit is
that? I can't make out his insignia.
Can I take this opportunity to ask him to give us a
summary of David Letterman visiting?
I had heard rumors Letterman did go over, and so I had
been tuning in to see if his show was going to air from
there or have highlights, but nothing but re-runs for
the last week or so. You got to meet him! Pray tell
us just every little thing! Was there filming for his
show specifically? Did you get to participate in a Top
Ten List? hee...
And I've heard that sword entrance to the grand arena
(or what is it, exactly?) is actually pretty tacky,
and cartoonish, especially in person. (On t.v. it looks
commanding...intimidating, which I gather is the intent)
And I've been meaning to find out just what the heck
those black metal attachments are on the helmuts of
certain military personnel. Sometimes they look hinged,
but anyway they appear to perhaps be for attaching night
vision, or maybe they clip off to use as digging tools...
or to fasten chemical safety apparatus....
I *must* know!
minds need to know things. Darryl, will you answer this
poor girl's questions, please? As I already said to
Darryl, that's our problem here in America, just not
enough giant hands holding giant swords.
new year Josh,
I just read your article on your experience with short
stories. Sounds like some experience! I was just wondering
what your take was on what makes a good short film.
I mean if you're going to make a film that's 9 minutes
long how do you get the most punch for what's packed?
9 minutes is short, and our objective should be to get
the viewer to be involved with the character and in
a good film the foundation for that involvement is established
in Act I (which in a 2 hour motion picture is a heck
lot longer than 9 minutes). Anyways I would like to
hear your take on making a strong, touching shortfilm.
Any tips and pointers is appreciated. I am going to
make a short film soon for my college platform film
project soon, and as you have had much experience in
the field of filmmaking I'm excited to heap up my own
course, what's nice about short films is that they don't
necessarily have to be narrative. I've made several
shorts that weren't narratives, per se, just a series
of gags. But you most certainly can do a narrative story
in 9 minutes, and the structure (like the song) remains
the same. You'd be working in approximately 3-minute
acts, and just like a feature, you need to establish
a character that needs something that causes something
else, since a story on it's most basic level is: something
causes something else. I recall a Hallmark cards commercial
from quite a few years ago, when Hallmark would put
one long, meaning 3-5 minute, commercial in the middle
of their Hall of Fame movies. It's Christmas time somewhere
in the east or midwest, with a lot of snow, and a young
couple with maybe a 5-year old daughter are preparing
for the holidays, and the husband and wife are obviously
having some trouble between them. As the father works
on different things, like putting up the wreath or hanging
the stockings, the little girl keeps trying to help
and keeps getting shooed away. That night as the father
is going up the stairs he hears his daughter in her
room praying before bed, asking God to please let her
father pay some attention to her. The father looks utterly
stricken, lowers his head, goes into his daughter's
room, takes her in his arms and tells her he loves her.
The end. A full, powerful, human story in about 3 minutes.
was just reading the posts, and gather that you didn't
think much of David Lynch's DUNE. It was alright to
me (certainly better than the TV remake the SCIFI Channel
put out a few years ago). Just curious as to what you
thought of it.
Speaking of SCIFI Channel remakes, have you seen the
new BATTLESTAR GALACTICA? I know how you feel about
remakes, and normally I would agree. However, there
are a few points in the new version that I rather liked.
For instance, Edward James Olmos lent alot more dramatic
weight and credibility to the role of Commander Adama
than Lorne Greene ever did (I still can't picture Lorne
in anything but westerns and WILD KINGDOM).
For a television production, the production values were
better in the remake than in the original. This is saying
alot, as the $1 million an episode pricetag was the
leading reason for the original show only going into
one season. It still amazes me that the much-touted
crew of STAR WARS, brought in to produce the special
effects in the original, always made the space scenes
look like props on a soundstage.
Again I don't know if you've seen the recent effort
or not. If you did, I would be curious to know what
you thought of it.
thought David Lynch's "Dune" was one of the
worst films I've ever seen in my life, and as awful
of an adaptation of good book as has ever been done.
I couldn't bear the original "Battlestar Galactica,"
so there's no way on earth I'd ever watch a remake of
include some of the photos you sent me so others can
see what a swell time you're having in Iraq.
Cynthia E. Jones
Happy New Year! I'm resolving to watch better films,
but that's what I say every year.
I recently watched the BBC series "The Office"
(on Netflix) and I thought it was great. I watched all
6 episodes in one sitting and still wanted more. I'll
be watching series 2 next week (my friend has it on
Region 2 DVD--don't know when it's coming out in the
Of course, being such a great show (actually a 12-part
miniseries), NBC has decided to make an American version.
Be afraid. They did this recently with "Coupling,"
another great BBC show, and completely ruined it. Why
must Americans do these things--remaking foreign films
for the US market? Especially when it's already in English?
Have a great New Year.
New Year to you, too. Why do they remake these foreign
shows and movies? To make more money, what else. An
American version of anything, no matter how bad it is,
will draw a bigger audience than anything foreign. As
William Burroughs said 45 years ago, "Consumer
society is about simplifying and degrading the consumer
as well as the product." Hollywood has managed
to completely degrade and simplify movies, and the audience
has become so degraded and simplified that it has just
gone along with it. As John Boorman pointed out in his
new autobiography, "Adventures of a Suburban Boy,"
the Hollywood films he made between 1967 and 1989 were
pretty much the films he wanted to make -- "Point
Blank," "Deliverance," "Excalibur,"
"The Emerald Forest," "Hope and Glory"
-- but once he got to "Where the Heart Is ,"
he started to get so fucked with by the studios -- this
was a drama set in Ireland about a British family that
Disney immediately changed to a a goofy comedy about
an American family in the U.S. -- that it became impossible
for him to deal with the system. Now he just makes little,
Gnu Year Josh. ;)
I've got a couple of questions about New Zealand...
What is the cost of living like down there? What did
you like the most about staying down there? What did
you like the least?
As for books-I'm finishing up Kurt Vonnegut's CAT'S
CRADLE. Great book! I recently read Franz Kafka's AMERIKA,
which is an unfinished novel. Considering that Kafka
never visited America, it's still an interesting view
of this country. Orson Welles' version of THE TRAIL
is the only film of his I didn't care for. The book
just didn't translate well into a movie; it came across
as rather stilted. I appreciate the effort, though.
that the follow-up film to John Wayne's "The Big
Trail"? I'm kidding. I'm not a big fan of Welles's
"The Trial," either. Apparently, he thought
the film was an hilarious comedy. Now, about NZ: one
US dollar would buy you two NZ dollars, but some things,
like cigarettes, were expensive, which is why so many
kiwis roll their own. But since almost everything has
to be imported to NZ, many products are expensive. I
like the people, who are, for the most part, bright,
well-educated, and attractive. The service in many restaurants
sucked, however, potentially due to no tipping, so I
just tipped everyone. Also, being a thin island in the
middle of the ocean, the weather changes constantly,
which made shooting exteriors rather difficult. All
in all, though, I really liked the place.
was alerted to your website and discovered I was being
discussed by Jim Eagan, who interviewed me at the Maine
Photographic Workshops. I'm afraid he should review
the interview. I, of course, never said "I lit"
anything. I stressed the collaborative aspect of the
whole motion picture process, which is what makes it
fun. I collaborated with the DP's you mentioned and
many others. It certainly wasn't a case of anyone saying
put a light here or there. The term, cameraman, is commonly
used to refer to the director of photography who has
the ultimate responsibility for the look of the movie.
He collaborates with the director on the choice of lens
and the framing. No one is in absolute charge of his
area of expertise. That's what makes it fascinating.
When I work with Steven Soderbergh, he is the director
of photography and the lighting is the way he wants
it. I certainly have ideas and make suggestions, as
I do with any director of photography. Steven Soderbergh
has a great eye and wonderful ideas.
hope this clears up some misconceptions about what a
gaffer does. We all work a little differently; some
have more input than others.
Jim, I think we've got this all worked out.
Hope things are going well in Detroit and on your various
projects in development. I just wanted to clarify some
things that I mentioned to you a couple months ago about
gaffer Jim Plannette, who I did an interview with in
the fall. Jim sent me an email recently in which he
wanted to clarify the fact that, as you said, he does
not "light" the movies that he worked on.
As Jim says "The cameraman is the director of photography.
He collaborates with the director on the setting up
of the shots and collaborates with me on the lighting.
I have ideas and he has ideas and in the end the lighting
is done. If there is a difference of opinion on the
lighting, the cameraman prevails. If there is a difference
of opinion on the setting up of the shot, the director
prevails." So just in case anyone got the wrong
idea out there, there's the clarification. By, the way,
I saw a really good documentary recently called The
Fog of War by Errol Morris. Its basically just an interview
with Bob McNamara intercut with stock footage but it
gave me a whole new perspective on the guy and on war
in general. Check it out if you get the chance. Happy
Mr. Plannette wrote to me as well. I didn't mean to
impugn the work of the gaffer in any way, they are an
utterly crucial part of a movie crew -- there's always
a lot of electricity used on my movie shoots, and the
gaffer is in charge of that. I've watched these guys
do shit like tying into the power box of a building
from the 1920s, and let me tell you, that was the very
last place I wanted to put my hand. But basically the
DP designs the lighting, then speaks to the gaffer in
a sort of shorthand code, like the clicking of a Kalahari
Bushman, and the gaffer gets the lighting crew to implement
you seen all the David Lynch films? Have you seen Blue
Velvet? What's your oppinion on Pulp Fiction? I like
what you say about films, but your oppinions are mostly
like saying that you wont appreciate a good statement
because it doesn't begin with a capital and end with
a period. I wander what you think of Lynch because he
may be my highest respected director, yet I don't understand
many things he does, but it's the feelings he provokes
that make me respect him. I hope you like Pulp Fiction
because it may well be the only truely well written
film of the last decade, if not among the greatest of
all time. Look, I'm a sixteen year old kid who probably
doesnt know my balls from my dick, yet I understand
movies, their language. I'm going to start an Indipendant
Film Club this year in my school, and my goals are to
create a full length feature, begin a film festival,
perhapse with neighboring schools, use all this to get
myself and several friends into college for free, and
do it all with NO money. I will do this, and since you
are an accomplished indipendant filmmaker I'd like to
ask for whatever advise you may have to offer. whatever
you have to say is well appreciated. Plus what you think
about Lynch. thanks
like your ideas and your plans, and I think you have
just the right approach. Go for it, don't let anyone
tell you you can't make a feature, start a film club,
whatever it is you want. The dick, BTW, is the tubular
item, the balls are the round things below them. Meanwhile,
I thought David Lynch was really something when he first
started out. "Eraserhead," then "Elephant
Man," then "Blue Velvet" (we'll just
skip "Dune") were a terrific series of films
to put out in a row, and I think they're all three very
impressive films. "Blue Velvet" is a very
solid film, with a strong script, terrific casting,
and simple, tight direction. It's a powerful film. However,
almost everything Mr. Lynch has done since then--with
the exception of "Straight Story"--just sucks.
I believe he totally shot his wad and he no longer has
the first clue why his stuff was any good to start with.
And I'm sorry to tell you that I don't like "Pulp
Fiction," and I don't think it's a particularly
good example of screenwriting. The last thirty minutes
of that film are really awful. Honestly, did they really
need for Harvey Kietel to come in and hose them down?
And after QT's little acting bit, where he says "Nigger"
seventy-five times for no good reason, I wanted to bitch
slap the motherfucker and tell him to stay the fuck
out of his films. And his pointless, nonsequitur dialog
really gets me down. I don't give a shit about burger
royales, TV pilots, or Madonna's new album, and Sam
Jackson's final speech is complete gobbledy-gook. As
my friend Rob summed it up as we left the theater, "Man,
that was a real butt-burner." And I have no doubt
that PF is miles ahead of "Kill Bill," which
I wouldn't see with a gun against my head. Anyway, I
wish you all the best with your plans.
just saw "Running Time" on IFC this evening,
and I just wanted to tell you that I thought it was
really great. I knew nothing more than that Bruce was
in it. Anyway, I thought it was really well executed,
and alot better than Rope. Anyway, Keep up the good
work, and welcome to Oregon
Chris ~ pdx or.
don't live in Oregon anymore, I moved back to Michigan.
I'm glad you enjoyed it. Amusingly, I think, TV Guide
reviewed the film and said, "An ex-con plans to
rob a prison-laundry business in this familiar drama."
I guess they didn't notice that it was in real-time
because they certainly wouldn't review "Rope"
and not mention it. This occured in a few of the print
reviews, too. How one could watch that film and not
notice is an amazement to me, particularly for a film
In comment to the title card that appears near the end
of "Hammer." This is one of my favorite moments
and it certainly doesn't take me out of the film. In
fact, I'd say it drew me into the reality of the film
as a piece of history. The three or so times I've seen
the film with buddies someone has always made a comment
during that moment, something like "Well, I'll
be," or "Hell, that sure was a big deal."
If anyone ever winds up repping "Hammer,"
for you they'll probably require two things. An updated
copyright and a shorter running time. In fact, I'd absolutely
bet on both of these points. While I do feel that with
ten minutes removed "Hammer," would be a better
film, I most definately wouldn't want to see the blurb
removed from the end...The dope smoking could be trimmed
and the distribution of the flyers in the Purple Onion
could simply be cut all together. Other things like
this that seem to go on too long. Just food for thought.
I think at 107 minutes, "If I Had A Hammer,"
would be improved beyond the good film it already is.
Have a good one.
suppose both of those scenes could be trimmed, or cut
in the case of distributing the flyers. I was accused
by a few folks that the film was "self-indulgent,"
and perhaps it is, but it's my independent film, why
shouldn't it be self-indulgent, I asks ya? Nobody levels
that criticism at foreign films, or boring, 3 1/2 hour
special effects films. Most pictures that come out of
Hollywood now run 2 1/2 hours and no one says anything.
"Hammer" isn't quite 2 hours, and unlike most
of those other films, is actually going somewhere.
I did a course in copyrighting once upon a time and
I remember learning that if a song was more than 50
years old, it was in the public domain. If I was to
use songs from say the 1920s, would I need to pay for
recently extended the term of copyright in the USA,
from 57 years to 100 years, I believe, but it's not
retroactive. Therefore, anything that went into the
public domain remains there. That would be almost any
song from 1945 back, but there are exceptions. Part
of the reason for the extension was so that Disney could
keep Mickey Mouse under copyright, and Mickey's from
the late 1920s. Lawyers get a yearly supplement of everything
that's gone into the public domain in the past year.
Hey, I just watched your latest movie "If I had
a Hammer" and I really enjoyed it. I thought the
music choices were great and by far the highlight of
the film and you found some really talented people to
pull it off. One thing you really showed was that if
it's a good music performance you don't need to fade
between 3 cameras or fifty cuts. A good performance
just draws you in on it's own.
My only quibble would be the text you put up about the
beatles performance on the Ed Sullivan show. I was curious
on why you chose to put that up there at that point.
That was actually the only thing that took me out of
the film. Which brings me to my next point - the fact
that I really enjoyed how your directing was all focused
on helping the story rather than shouting "hey
look at this cool camera move".
Thanks for the first enjoyable, recent, movie that I've
seen in awhile! They're showing the Best of Ed Sullivan
on PBS, in honor of Hammer I think I'll check it out.
Good luck on your next project!
make a very valid point, one that others brought up,
too, which is about the title card near the end about
The Beatles. It's the only time I step back out of the
story and the time period, and it's probably a mistake,
but I somehow felt that if I didn't state it flatly
no one would realize just how big of a deal The Beatles
being on Ed Sullivan was, and there's no way for the
characters to know that at that time. The story functions
just fine without it, I think, but somehow I still think
people need to know. Anyway, I'm glad you enjoyed it,
and I'm also glad you appreciated how I shot the film,
which no one else has ever brought up.
I finally saw "A Mighty Wind," the other folk
music movie of recent days ("Hammer" was shot
three years earlier), and you couldn't have a more talented,
funnier cast, but they've got no script to work with.
It's a 30-minute skit, at best. What was particularly
odd to me was that, because the acts in the movie are
fake, they felt they had to make the entire folk movement
fake without one actual reference. I'm also completely
sick of the "mockumentary" form. I feel like
this shtick worked once for Christopher Guest, with
"Spinal Tap," and has never worked again.
I'll second Darryl's recommendation of the Sharpe's
series. You really need to watch that series, particularly
the early episodes, with a military man, preferably
enlisted. They howl at it because the dynamics ring
so true. "Horatio Hornblower" was of a similar
vein and was what "Master and Commander" hoped
to be; a study of the men of the period with good men
and bad abounding on both sides. I'd love to see you
film "Battle" with the backing those productions
had. Those were both produced through Granada Television,
I think, and they seem to do a splendid job on period
Well, I hope you have a great Christmas and a happy
and productive new year.
you, and you, too. Happy holidays to everyone. Yeah,
I'd really love to make "Devil Dogs: The Battle
of Belleau Wood" (I think that's what you were
referring to). I really don't think it needs to be all
that expensive, either. But more than anything else,
to me, is its tone, and that's what I think no one seriously
deals with anymore in their stories, which is -- why
am I watching this? In the case of Belleau Wood you're
seeing a spectacular bit of human courage and endurance,
that actually mattered in the scheme of the whole war.
That's a great story. I just hope that I do it justice.
just downloaded HUMANS IN CHAINS to read later. Also
just read your treatment, "Two-Gun Crowley,"
which was very good, even in treatment form. I would
think that one could be made as a TV movie (it sounds
like the sort of thing that TNT would air, rather like
YOU KNOW MY NAME, but less Western-oriented) if not
a cinematic feature.
Concerning MASTER AND COMMANDER, I can understand why
they changed the adversary, although good writing could
have put the story over even if the antagonist was American.
It wasn't necessary to change the period, though; the
Napoleonic Wars lasted from 1799 to 1814, and the British
were involved from around 1803 onwards. The War of 1812,
although caused by specific American grievances, was
another theatre of the Napoleonic Wars (some historians
have argued that the period marked the first global
conflict). That leaves alot of room to play around in.
P.S. I recommend reading Bernard Cornwell's novels.
They're the best thing going for historical fiction
Crowley," the first case of a juvenile killer wanting
to be like the bad guys in the movies. It's a true story,
and worthy of its 1930s contemporaries: "Bonnie
and Clyde," "Dillinger," "Pretty
Boy Floyd," "Baby Face Nelson," and "Big
Bad Mama" (Ma Barker).
First let me say that I wish you'd write more reviews-
they're more fun than Ebert & Roper & I enjoy
reading them even if I disagree.
I agreed with your reviews on Frida & Black Hawk
Down. Just saw BHD yester & thought it was realistic
in terms of setting & fighting but lacked any depth.
I thought the parts you critiqed in Frida (your mentioning
of those digital effects) were the only real 'original'
parts to the film- the rest was just standard no depth
biography. I still think Kahlo was a bad painter- very
melodramatic & immature. Diego is the better of
the two but they could have done the film on just Diego
& Rockefeller- that would have been more interesting,
but instead they compress too much into 2 hrs. Other
bad bio films are The Hours & Sylvia-they suffer
from the same flaws as Frida- but the Hours is the worst
of the all. In light of your Hitler review & Nazi
films, Ever see that Anne Frank story that has Ben Kingsley
as Otto Frank? I think it's called Anne Frank Remembered
or something. That's one of the few Nazi films that
made me feel anything- by the time they are found you
grow attached to Anne & her family- it was strange
bc the ccamp scenes were hard to watch for a change,
as opposed to S.List. Ditto goes for Polanski's Pianist-
thought that was by far the best Nazi film I'd seen
bc it wasn't drenched in self-pity. Bummer about The
Good Girl though- I liked that one. Ta ta.
didn't see the Ben Kingsley, Anne Frank film. I have
seen George Stevens' "The Diary of Anne Frank"
many times, and was very moved by it as a kid. As I
got older, however, the weird, gentile casting of Millie
Perkins and Richard Beymer really threw me off and I've
never gotten past it. My favorite Nazi film is undoubtedly
"Judgement at Nuremburg." As I get older I
appreciate Stanley Kramer more and more. Review-wise,
I just watched "Narc," which I can entirely
live without. I hit a point in the film where the wigged-out
cop Ray Liotta was beating two handcuffed black guys,
blood all over them, Liotta screaming "Nigger!"
over and over, and I thought to myself, "Why on
earth do I want to be sitting here watching this ugly,
hateful drivel?" I in fact did finish watching
the film, but if I never see another cop story of that
nature it will be just fine with me. And, once again,
I contend -- Jason Patric is a bore. He's not a bad
actor, he's just a bore.
I am looking for buy DVD "25th hour" movie
from Henry Verneuil?? not in sales on the web, How to
Thanks for your replay to firstname.lastname@example.org
. J.O.Dinand, Secretary of the Official Association
(loi 1901) "les Amis de Virgil Gheorghiu"
who do you think I am? Henry Verneuil, whoever that
my be, or Spike Lee? Does Josh Becker sound like either
of those names?
topic that came up recently on the site was the problem
with adapting novels to the screen. One example of a
successful transition from novel to screen was the Richard
Sharpe series, made for British television and based
off the books by Bernard Cornwell. Set during the Napoleonic
wars, the movies (it was sort of a miniseries, but made
up of feature-length installments) brought the period
to life with all the excitement and drama of the novels,
and the screenwriters weren't afraid to make a few changes
for the sake of the film. I haven't seen MASTER AND
COMMANDER yet, but I'd be willing to bet the transition
from book to screen was much smoother in the Sharpe
series. What do you think?
haven't seen these Sharpe things, so I cannot say. Even
though I haven't read any of the Patrick O'Brian books,
either, I do know that the books are set during the
War of 1812, with the British fighting the Americans.
The movie version was pushed seven years back to the
Napoleonic War so the enemy could be the French. The
second you say something like, "Sure, they are
great books, but the setting and time period don't matter,"
you've lost your way.