Q & A    Archive
Page 114

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

Hey Josh,

I can see we are getting political again. I finished my poem which I will eventually compose into a song which will be a little different in structure.

Anyhow, I sent it here for you. If you want topost this e-mail on the site feel free, but I can understand if you wish not to, since it is your forum.

I wish we were able to impeach Bush.

Scott

RESOLUTIONS AND SOLUTIONS

Hey, Mr. Bush!
Hey, Mr. Blair!

Can't you pull your pants up boys?
We are all standing down here

As you spew a litany of illusion and confusion
While sitting back and reveling in an unjust intrusion

Billions of dollars spent,
Thousands of men and women sent

Two opposing men of power,
One was a tyrant,
One believes he is a martyr

Dreaming he is a cowboy riding into the sunset,
Though the movie hasn't ended yet

The bureaucrats give the orders
To squeeze and discriminate our borders

Like a hungry vulture
Picking away at our culture

The doctrine of our country is lost
And oh what a cost!

Amongst jeers and fears
Denying a union for the queers

Our neighbors in the world fret
While you keep pretending
And spending, spending, spending.

Declaring a war you cannot win
Until you realize independence comes from within

This is something we have learned from
Jefferson, Mandela, and Min

In the beginning there may have been a doubt
Now we know what it is all about


If oil is the spoil which pollutes our solutions
Then we must find better resolutions.

Instead of being the Aggressor
Why can't we be the proggressor?

We need a leader
Not a feeder of the big MACHINE

Using its power to control the masses
which kills our seas, trees, and grasses

The greatest weapon is in your heart
And that is where it has all begun to fall apart.

Shrouded under the disguise of freedom and peace
It's about securing that precious lease in the land called the Middle East.

Dear Scott:

Yeah, Bush should have been impeached already, but let's just vote the cocksucker out now. I loved last night on the WI debate, when Al Sharpton was asked, "Did George Bush lie about Iraq, and if so, why?" Sharpton replied, "He absolutely lied, and why did he lie? Because he's a liar. And if he didn't know that he was lying, that's even worse." I laughed for the next half an hour.

Meanwhile, is that a rap song?

Josh

Name: The goose
E-mail: thegoose888@yahoo.com

Dear Josh:

Do you know any places where my work could be read for free? Oh and Ball Breaker was sweet, will it ever be made?

Dear The goose:

Where can your work be read for free? Try leaving it a Christian Science reading room.

Josh

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

Josh,

I saying that half the country is ashamed to be an American--isn't that an extremely unverified statement?

Also, I've been hearing a lot of previous quotes from many democratic politicians--John Kerry, Al Gore, Bill Clinton, and many others--that Saddam was developing WMD technology, that he was a threat to the world, that he must be taken down. If the American public was mislead, so was our president, and so were Bill Clinton, Al Gore, John Kerry and the many others. If you want names and quotes, I can get them.

Ben

Dear Ben:

Did you watch Bush's State of the Union speech? Half the people stood and clapped, half sat and crossed their arms. And, let's face it, more than half didn't vote for Bush. Saddam was attempting to develop WMDs in the late 1980s, but the Israelis bombed the crap out of him and that was the end of it. Iraq was never even close to developing nuclear weapons. They hadn't even set up the centrifuges, let alone going any farther. And let's not forget that when Saddam gassed the Kurds, he was our ally, we were supplying him with his weapons, and he had our blessing. But when old Blood & Guts GW Bush went to war with Iraq the best intelligence the world had came from the U.N. weapons inspectors who said there were no WMDs or even any parts or factories that were attempting to produce WMDs. They couldn't find anything. Also, the satellite photos that Colin Powell waved around at the U.N. had been analyzed by experts at the State Department who have since appeared on "60 Minutes" and said they saw no evidence of anything WMD related, and they told the White House that Saddam was not only not a threat to us, he wasn't even a threat to his neighbors. Also, the data had been given to Oakridge Nuclear Laboratories, who said that there was nothing nuclear-related, particularly the aluminum tubes. Also, the CIA had said that Iraq was not getting unranium from Niger. That was the intelligence, and that's what Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld ignored because Bush had his own agenda, stated from day-one of his presidency (as reported by former Secretary of the Treasury O'Neil) that he was going to bring down Saddam Hussein. Those are the facts, my friend.

Furthermore, Bush did not go to Congress to get a declaration of war against Iraq, which, with the scant evidence he had, he knew he would not have gotten. So, after intentionally "sexing up" the intelligence, and intentionally misrepresenting the level of threat to the U.S. (playing on our fears after 9/11), he went to Congress to get the emergency ability to send in troops should there be an imminent threat to our country, which he knew there wasn't. Saddam is not the issue; Bush's lies are. He lied and he was caught. He can say that Saddam is a bad man from now until doomsday, it doesn't make his lies any less false.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

I liked that Franklin bio as well. What a character he was - wonder if anyone will ever do a decent movie about him? (There never has been one, has there?)

BTW - I think that Ellis book is called "Founding Brothers," not "fathers" - if it's the same one I've read. I actually did a paper on one section of it for a government class, the part about the "silence" over the slavery issue. I was much amused by a disgruntled Quaker's observation of a "thee scratch my back and I'll scratch thine" atmosphere in the early Congress.
Some things never change!

Regards,

August

PS - Hey give us an update on "Alien Apocalypse!" I think a series of "Making Of..." essays might even be in order. After all, in a way this is new turf for you, since it's a production of your own script, but you aren't having to put up the $$ - your public wants all the details, no matter how boring! :)

Dear August:

You are correct, it's "Founding Brothers" about the founding fathers. I don't think most people now realize what a ballsy thing those guys were doing; no colony of England had ever broken off and declared independence, and doing so was treason punishable by death. Signing the Declaration of Independence could well have been a death warrant for all of them. Then to take on the British army and navy, the most powerful military in the world, with basically no army and no navy was tremendously courageous.

Josh

Name: Stanley H. Hoffman M.D.
E-mail: docgramps@charter.net

Dear Josh:

Your concern is one that we share completely..and that democracy(if it is not already a plutocracy)has never been in jeapordy as much as it is now, with the extremist presently in power. Read 'The Founding Fathers and The Brotherhood' by Joseph Ellis for a peak into American History that is relevant. I am an 83 year old retired cardiologist, who took care of a lot of power players in my time, but concerned about USA

Dear Stanley:

I read "Founding Fathers," which was very interesting on the level of how those guys related to one another. It's one thing to learn about the founding fathers individually, but they did, amazingly, function as a group. I also recently read "The First American," an absolutely wonderful biography of Ben Franklin, who arguably was the most important member of the group -- the oldest, anyway. It amused me that Samuel Adams, before the revolution, lamented that America simply did not have the great men necessary for the job. Alas, he was wrong. My favorite president was Teddy Roosevelt, and GW Bush is almost the anti-TR. Teddy was a Republican from a wealthy family, but truly did everything within his means to improve the lives of average Americans, made conservation a legitimate issue, made serious attempts to improve the lives of the poor, didn't go to war in seven years, made both Democrats and Republicans proud of thie country and their president, was a real war hero, and also did everything within his means to break up the conglomerates, which he realized were not in the average American's best interests. Bush didn't fight in a war, but sent America to war for false reasons, has undermined many of the conservation policies (with Orwellian names like the "Clear Skies Act"), has encouraged giant conglomerates to become even bigger (with an idiot like Michael Powell -- Colin's son -- as the head of the FCC, who says that media conglomerate mergers and buy-outs will give us "more diversity," one more Orwellian statement), has made minimally half of the country ashamed to be American and utterly ashamed of our president.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

Just a quickie; I've just been reading your reply to my question about Roy Harryhaussen etc.... Thanks for the clarrification. I've also just read your reply to the robin williams film (the one about jesus) though, probably thankfully I havn't seen it yet. I just wanted to vecture an opinion that it's probable that in some point in history, most people of the world spoke the same language and therefore it is quite possible that all religions originally based their opinions, rules and beliefs around one set of beliefs initially. There are many similarities between different beliefs. Obviously the stories, versions and differences came about later when people split in to different groups and their leaders used this power of credulity to rule their peoples in whichever way they fancied. I still think though that people should be allowed to believe whatever they want to believe as long as it doesn't affect anybody else. Why can't we just get on together? we're all human beings just trying to survive after all.

Dear Ian:

You sound like Rodney King, "Can't we all just live together? Young people, old people . . ." Everybody clearly has the right to believe whatever they'd like, and so do I, and I'm with Joseph Campbell. All religions are mythologies, and all the world's mythologies, from the tribal religions, the ancient Greeks and their pantheon of gods, the Romans, the Jews, the Christians, the Zoroastrians, the Hindus, the Buddhists, the Muslims, the Eskimoes, to the tribes of New Guinea are all equally as good and equally as valid as historical references about how to face life's problems. But to take any of them literally is completely miss the point. To seriously believe that any of these old sci-fi books, such as the Bibles old and new, the Koran, the Baghavad-Gita, the Book of Zoroaster, or the heiroglyphs on the walls of the pyramids, is the actual "Word of God" is stupid. Knuckleheaded. Ridiculous. That's what I believe.

Josh

Name: karl beesley
E-mail: karlbeesley@scoopmail.com.au

Dear Josh:

Think you are a little snooty about American Movie.
True, I hired the video. True I could only take 10 minutes of the thing before I was leaping for the sick-bag, but your review takes a tone that implies that those who didn't graduate film school with honours should have their fingers smashed with a hammer if they even think about going within arms-reach of a movie camera.

The reason I'm so prickly about the subject is that I'm fed up to the tits with the over-produced glossy, formulaic drivel the rest of the world has to put up with (yes we have to put up with it unfortunately as the world is subsumed by the american idiom on just about everything).

Give the independent films a decent bit of breathing room. Sure, they ain't exactly apocolypse now but they have a tale to tell.
Haven't you ever heard of 'slice of life' films?
You don't have to have a tale to tell at all. That is an arbitrary distinction you have introduced to your review.

TO paraphrase Stephen King in his book 'on writing' he states that to have a clearly delineated story and plot mapped out before you fill it out with text you inevitably end up with a tale that is wooden and hollow (that's the gist anyway, flail me with nettles if I've taken his advice the wrong way, just remember to buy me a couple of drinks first).

Viva la difference.

Actually, none of the above was what I wanted to comment on but I'm nothing if not easily distracted.
Anyway ....... err ...... what was I talking about again???? Oh yeah. I really only wanted to say that having seen the docco 'demon lover diary' on the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) I would just like to correct you on the matter of the documentary crew buggering off from Don Jackson and Co.
I don't think you can really call them paranoid, they were being shot at! You can hear 2 gunshots in the background as they are leaving, post haste. The shots sound like a handgun and you don't hear a 'thunk' of them hitting the car so the person firing could have been either firing blanks or firing into the air for all we know.
Still, having been on both ends of firearms in the past myself, I can say with confidence that the first thing one has the urge to do is vamoose like the roadrunner and anyone thinking that is paranoid either:

a.) hasn't been shot at or
b.) has the overwhelming urge to join the choir invisible.

Have a nice day (and don't forget to floss)
Love and kisses
karl beesley

Dear karl:

Waxing poetically, aren't we? Look, I really liked Chris Smith's documentary, "American Movie," and I've seen it three times. The dopey subject of the film, Mark Borschart, was who I was picking on, and since that film was made in 1999, we haven't heard hide nor hair from him, even though his kindly old uncle died and left him the money he needed to finish his film, the mispronounced "Coven." Ultimately, you can teach monkies the technical side of filmmaking, it's all what you do with it. Also, I don't necessarily believe that the film crew in "Demon Lover Diary" is actually being shot at. It could very easily have been a car backfiring, or almost anything, but they're so paranoid and obnoxious that they declare it to be a gunshot. When I saw the film at UCLA Don Jackson was actually there and he said the gunshots were all bullshit and I believed him. He seemed sincere to me.

Josh

Name: Carole Gannon
E-mail: honyg42@aol.com

Dear Josh:

I am trying to find out who was the male who played their manager/discover in the Harlem Globtrotters film. probably done back in the 50's. I can see his face but can't recall his name. Can you help?

Thanks,

Carole Gannon

Dear Carole:

I believe you are referring to Thomas Gomez, a character actor who appeared in many films, including "Force of Evil" and "Beneath the Planet of the Apes."

Josh

Name: j dezsi
E-mail: jdezsi@yahoo.com

dear josh:

I have been a fan of yours for some time and I think your site is great. Your articles on screenplays are very informative. I can't wait to see your scifi movie. I was wondering if you will be posting humans in chains under your screenplay section? Do you find that you have use a different style for shooting a television movie than a film, such as more close-ups?

Dear j dezsi:

I just took "Humans in Chains," AKA "Alien Apocalyspe," down. It was posted for years. Once the film is done I will probably put it back up. I shoot TV a bit differently than features in that I generally get more coverage, meaning close-ups and over-the-shoulder shots, so that every scene can be altered in editing. In my features I often cover scenes in a single shot, which I find interesting, but it annoys TV producers.

Josh

Name: NORMA, XENA WANNABE
E-mail: normawp@aol.com

Dear Josh:

Will you be directing the new Xena movie for the big screen?
http://home.earthlink.net/~wps-sdpix/id4.html

Dear NORMA, XENA WANNABE:

There is no Xena feature, as far as I know.

Josh

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

Heya Josh,

First, I want to wish you and Bruce good luck with your upcoming project.

Secondly, I'd like to bring up the subject of ageism in Hollywood. I was reading a 2001 interview with Robert Trebor where he said that the big agencies don't want any actors over 32 unless they are huge names. And I remember a conversation that I had with Paul Robert Coyle several years ago at a Xena convention in New York City. If I recall correctly, he worked on "Streets of San Francisco", and a couple of other TV ahows I can't recall at the moment.

We discussed a story about a woman who couldn't find work as an actress for almost a decade, who went on to try writing and lied about her age. Things began to click for her, and she signed a deal with Disney. Someone ratted on her, mentioning her true age. When this happened, offers dried up, and Disney severed the deal they had with her.

Mr. Coyle understood why this woman did what she did, but also said that the system now would make things even harder for her.

I told him-and I mentioned this to Steve Sears too, at one point a couple of years later-that this attitude really pissed me off as a writer. One would think that an older writer, with the chops that come from experience, would be able to tackle even the most contemporary stories. To dismiss such a writer just on the basis of their age would be to dismiss the experience that he or she would bring to the table.

I do remember hearing/reading someplace that some screenwriters leave out work they had done 15 to 20 years ago because it could shoot down their possibility of getting work.

Which brings about a question-has this ageism always been prevalent in Hollywood, or is this something that has come up in the last 15 years?

Have a good one.

Saul

Dear Saul:

Ageism has always been around for actors, but I'd say it's a more recent phenomenon for writers and directors. You can easily date it back to 1977 and "Star Wars," when the studios made up their minds that the most important audience was kids, which has only intensified over the intervening 27 years. The studios are so desperate for the youth market that they would happily hire 12-year-olds to write and direct the films if the insurance companies would let them.

Josh

Name: Dan from joppa
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

in your answer to gena barnabee about the movie requiem for a dream....that movie was an awsome movie, i don't know if you've ever done or had to deal drugs...but if you did you would realize that the movie comes pretty close to the lives of actual addicts...once you start doing/dealing those drugs, there is no going up...only a slow downward spiral till eventually you're either a bum on the streets with only a few years to live because of your health, or you die from your addiction. so i've come to realize that your an overpaid, mr know it all that has no clue what your talking about

Dear Dan from joppa:

You realized all of that from my disliking "Requiem For a Dream"? Well, I still don't like it, it was a huge camera-jerk off, an extreme bore, and a grave disappointment coming from Darren Aronofsky who had previously made "Pi." "Requiem" was so bad that I'm not sure his career can recover.

Josh

Name: Derek Stockton
E-mail: DLStockton21@tntech.edu

Greetings,
Nice work, im a big fan, I loved Lunatics!

Anyways, Ima 20 year old college student, that is really interested in filmmaking/writing, and I wanted to write you to see if you had any Advice for me.

I have completed Edit(thats right, I Editied it) as well as shot one of the scenes for a completed short film(shot in on Mini Dv, Edit on Adobe Premiere), its entitled Crabs.

But anyways any advice or tips, or just comments and/or ramblings, would be greatly appreciated!

Best.......
Derek

Dear derek:

I'm pleased you liked "Lunatics," but you really need to think of a question.

Josh

Name: MIKEY
E-mail: MIKEYVIRUS106@YAHOO.CO.UK

Dear Josh:

HEY IM CURRENTLY STUDYING MEDIA AT UNIVERSITY AND I HAVE BEEN GIVEN THE TASK OF DIRECTING A SHORT 2 MINUTE PIECE ON ANYTHING WITH IN REASON.. THIS PIECE HAS TO HAVE A WEIRD WAY OF TELLING A STORY.. IS THERE ANY CHANCE THAT YOU COULD HELP ME WITH A SHORT BUT WEIRD SCRIPT.. YOUR HELP WOULD BE SO MUCH APPRECIATED.. THANK YOU

Dear MIKEY:

Get the fuck outta here!

Josh

Name: Landon
E-mail: jhuber@mstar2.net

Dear Josh:

I don't know whats the matter with some of you people.
HOW COULD YOU NOT LIKE THE MATRIX! Thats an awsome movie. However, the
second one sucked royally and I didnt even want to see the third. But that first one in my opinion is one of the best films ever made.

Dear Landon:

Clearly, you haven't seen very many movies. I'll give you that it might possibly be one of the better films of the past five years, but that's like saying that dog shit doesn't stink as bad as cow shit. To quote Leonard Maltin, "The Matrix" has "a high MJQ (Mumbo-Jumbo Quotient), and a tendency to keep changing it's own complicated 'rules'." At 136 minutes I found it to be an exceptional bore, and Keanu Reeves is simply a dull actor.

Josh

Name: joe capanear
E-mail: joecap74@optonline.net

josh

I usually agree with most of your reviews and your commentary on the sad state of what passes for well-made films anymore. Your essays and reviews are refreshingly real and well written, and I look forward to visiting your site regularly.

But I think you missed the mark with the matrix. I was looking forward to reading your review of this film, since I think it is one of the better sci-fi films in recent memory. Not only does the film follow a three act structure, but it has a great concept with great motivated characters. stuff
like:

"..By the time the Wachowski Bros. reach the end of this nonsense they're not even following their own stupid rules anymore. Whether or not Neo is "the chosen one," nothing has indicated in any way that he's immortal and won't die, yet he gets shot five or six times and it means nothing."

is not thought out enough. It absolutely means something when he gets shot. He is in a virtual world but it is still possilbe to die obviously. The mind makes it real. Neo pulls what the basic theme of the movie is here, he does a mind over matter thing when trinity reveals the oracle told her she'd fall in love with the one. He realizes since he loves trinity, he MUST be the one, and "resurrects" himself.

I thought it was original, brilliantly visual, storytelling. He then learns he can overcome physics in the matrix and goes on to take on Agent Smith in slow motion-it gave me goose bumps.

Kudos on your site and keep up good the good work.

Dear Joe:

You're certainly in the majority on that one. I've managed to blank almost all of it out of my mind, except Keanu Reeves running upside down shooting Uzi's, but I figure if I just smoke a couple more pounds of pot, I'll get rid of that, too.

Josh

Name: craig pecs
E-mail: aquapec71@america.hm

Dear Josh:

hey, i would like to know if you really did a take onOedipus Rex, and if so, where might i obtain, or screen it...?
thanks
-pecs

Dear craig:

I did make a version of "Oedipus Rex" in junior high school, with Bruce Campbell as King Creon, but it's not available.

Josh

Name: ag
E-mail: blakbuttafly@go.com

dear josh,

what a cool site! here is my question: do non-union directors get paid substantially lower than those that are members of the dga, and should a non-union director demand to be paid as much as a dga member? (sounds like a stupid question, i know, but i'm having an issue with a non-union director and just needed clarification.) thanks!

Dear ag:

Generally, non-union directors make far less than DGA directors. There is no standard rate for non-union, but for a low-budget feature it's probably about five times less, say $15,000 as opposed to about $75,000, which I think is way too high. A non-union director can ask for whatever they want, but they probably won't get it.

Josh

Name: eric Aguiar
E-mail: lobovicky2003@yahoo.com

Dear Josh:

I am certain that you are very busy but I have always been taught that it doesn't hurt to ask.
I have written a very original and intriguing film concept and laid it out into a story format. I know that Hollywood would love to get it on the big screan; but I don't know how to go about finding the person or people to send it to. Now it seems to me, from all the emails that I read on your web-site that you know alot about film and thus here is my question. I would like to email you the summary which is only 1 page and a half. May I? I am sure you will like it alot, as it is very deep in concept and ventures into explinations that nobody has ever thought of or expressed. If that is possible please tell me how to get the summary to you. I promise you will not be sorry.
Sincerely, God Bless
Eric Aguiar

Dear Eric:

No, I don't want to read your "screan" story.

God bless,

Josh

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

Hey Josh! We just watched the film Casablanca in its entirety for my film class. I was surprised at how good the photography/editing was. It seems that in several older movies that the scene will be seen from just one angle for most of the scene, then suddenly and without apparent purpose will cut to a different angle for a few seconds, then just as unexpectedly will cut back to the original angle for the rest of the scene. But Casablanca did not have that problem. And of course, the characters were all well developed and well acted. And the story, while simple and straightforward, is no worse because of how simple and straightforward it is. The cool thing about the whole experience was that I was sitting next to a bunch of guys who kept saying that they knew it was going to be horrible because it's an old movie, and why can't we watch something more modern, etc. But I would swear that I heard all of them snickering at all the jokes in the film. I know that doesn't mean they liked the film, but at least they liked the funny parts. Why don't they make movies like this anymore?

Dear Ben:

On some level that's as good as movies get. Certainly everybody that worked on "Casablanca" was surprised at how well it turned out, not that Warner Brothers system wasn't working pretty darn well there in the 1930s and '40s. But I do think that "Casablanca" is the ultimate Warners film, where everything worked right, and everybody had the right job. If, for instance, it had been Ann Sheridan instead of Ingrid Bergman, who they originally considered, it might well have not worked. Say if Archie Mayo or William Keighley or Vincent Sherman, all Warners contract directors, had done the film instead of Michael Curtiz, I'm sure it wouldn't have been anything special. If it had been George Raft instead of Bogart, it wouldn't have worked. All the stars lined up on that one. You even buy the cheesy miniatures of the airplane landing, and that wacky rear-screen shot of the miniature plane taking off with Rick and Louie seated in the foreground -- I mean, is Rick's Cafe directly next to the airport?

Josh

Name: Will
E-mail: wdodson52@hotmail.com

Dear Josh:

I thought I was the only one who kept a list of all the films I'd seen.....Good, this makes me feel a little less obsessive. I started mine at age 15, when I first discovered that movies could be nearly as rewarding as books. Now 25, my list sits at 2097, so I have a way to go to catch up to you.

I've been talking up If I Had a Hammer since I got my copy (back when you were still accepting personal checks). It's clearly your most accomplished film, and I like the fact that, should one watch all four of your completed feature films in a row, you can clearly see the progression of your filmcraft.

Hammer also has an unrelenting, though playful, cynicism that I really like. The observations on behavior resonate beyond just that time. It could easily be set during the rise of punk and no wave, the start of the jazz age, etc. etc. The archetypes are the same. This story is a cycle that repeats with every new generation. Friends of mine call it depressing, but I think it's refreshing. One needn't be discouraged; in many ways one can easily identify with similar archetypal characters, and gain fresh perspective on their own social dynamics.

Humor-wise, you have great timing. There's one scene in particular where Terry explains to Phil how attending folky protests occasionally results in "getting laid," Phil snickers, and you cut back to Terry's reaction shot for a few seconds longer and catch the grin and nod, it's honestly one of the funniest moments I can recall ever seeing.

I continue to hold great respect for your filmmaking, your independence, and your refusal to kiss ass and compromise. It's refreshing to know someone bears the cross. Best of luck with the Humans in Chains adaptation for Sci-Fi. I don't have television, but I hope to see it anyway.

Dear Will:

As of today, I've seen 3,826 films. Nobody can say I've wasted my life. Thanks for the nice review of "Hammer." I'm utterly ashamed of myself that I haven't gotten that film released.

Josh

Name: dustin
E-mail: dustglas@hotmail.com

Dear Josh:

In response to the fellows comments on birth of a nation... i watched the film for the first time in a history of film class about five years ago at the beginning of my film school experience. I'm surprised your teacher seems to have brushed over it, if you will, more as if it was part of the curriculum an not the innovative film that it was. Society was different, and DW covered alot of things in that film besides just slavery, like the brother against brother aingst of the civil war, and the assasination in moive house. anyway i hate for the film to just be recognized as racist. gosh i don't wanna go crazy, but women weren't aloud in theater in shakespearean times right? so should we brush over those plays because of the way they were presented back then?

i also read that DW recut his film when he heard the kkk made it recruitment/initition viewing.

wonder what all those extras thought when they were running on the battle field or in that theater? "man this is never gonna work, what the hell is that guy doing?" hehe

racist yes, innovative and changed the way films were shot forever, hell yes.

by the way if you are bored by silent films, watch some of the "talkies" that came about at the dawn of the coming of sound if film. so excited by what they could do they did it to death, much like cg in modern times.

sorry about whatever spelling, dustin

Dear Dustin:

I love those early sound films from 1927-1933, but they're certainly not the same experience as watching silents, particularly the ones from 1924-28, when they reached their pinnacle. There are those that believe that movies never got better than the late silents, when directors had reached a high point of visual storytelling. The early sound films are so non-visual and clunky it's painful, but historically fascinating. The directors who understood the possibilities of sound the earliest, I believe, were: Frank Capra, Alfred Hitchcock, and Howard Hawks. Hitchcock's first sound film, "Blackmail (which was also the first sound film in England), does some absolutely wonderful things with sound (which nobody bothers with anymore). The girl, who was almost raped and killed by the guy with a knife, walks home in a daze. She looks up at a lighted billboard of a hand raising a cup of coffee, which magically becomes a hand weilding a knife. She gets home to the boarding house where she lives and everybody is talking about this murder with a knife. As they all keep talking their words become garbled, except the word "knife," which keeps being repeated and repeated until all they're saying is, "Knife, knife, knife," and the girl wigs out.

Josh

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

Josh,

I think you are right about the challenges of drama versus comedy. I would say, though, that in my own experience comedy is easier to write in short pieces and harder to sustain, while drama is easier to make convincing in a longer piece, but more difficult in a shorter one. I find it harder to create an emotional investment in a short piece and that is crucial to drama.

I just read through "Spawn of Hell". For the most part I think the story is a great, straight-ahead horror story. I do wonder at the connection between the mass deaths of marine creatures and the events in Michigan. I don't understand why the Doctor's interest in mass animal suicides would lead him to a cemetary infested with aliens.

Beyond that, however, I think it would make a great horror movie. I recently read an article by an evolutionary psychologist who feels that bigfoot-type creatures are an essential part of the human psyche. He claimed that humans need to believe in such creatures, that this belief somehow assisted in our development, though I can't remember the reason he gave. Tapping into such a common myth seems a great idea and is, I think, "Frankenstein" and "The Thing" and such-like work so well. Mix in cemetaries and tunnels and some good pyrotechnics and I would say you've got a winner. I especially appreciate that the people don't just hang around waiting to be eaten. They intelligently decide to take a course of action which would be plausibly open to them. I really hate scenes with bugs, though.

You were right about "I married a Witch". I thought I had seen that one before but apparently not. I should keep notes. Thanks,

John

Dear John:

I'm glad you enjoyed "Spawn of Hell," even if I barely remember it. I keep a list of all the movies I've ever seen. I began the list in 1979 when I was 21 by going through all the movie books, like Maltin's, as well as the Academy Award reminder lists going back to 1927. Since then I just add the newest film onto the end. It's actually very easy once you've started it. I won't put any movie on the list I didn't sit all the way through, that's my criteria. The list actually inspires me to finish watching many films I would have otherwise bailed out on just to put them on the list.

Josh

Name: beth
E-mail: theevilovaltineman@hotmail.com

Dear Josh:

AMEN! It's nice to see someone who actually cares what's going on. I think if everyone could read your article, it would AT LEAST strike up some curiosity and concern. Just thought I would tell you nice job, and keep up the fight!

Dear Beth:

Thanks. What are you referring to?

Josh

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

Hey Josh!

I've started taking a class this semester called "The Art Of Film" and in it we will be watching several classic films. The first one will be Casablanca, and I know Citizen Kane and, I believe, Psycho (the original version, obviously) are also on the menu. We watched part of Birth of a Nation, which I found profoundly ridiculous. I wonder if I've been so jaded by film with sound that I just don't have the patience for silent films. I know that at the time it was released, Birth of a Nation was controversial, and also quite an achievement, but looking at it through modern eyes, I wonder how anyone could take it or its message seriously. But then, it was a different time, and perhaps after a lifetime of seeing and hearing films with sound, I just can't handle seeing a silent movie. Plus, I'm not, and never have been a racist. What do you think?

Dear Ben:

As I get older I like silent films more and more. I admit that I didn't have much patience for them when I was young. Now, getting to see any part of life from 1890-1927 is just amazing to me. I particularly enjoy seeing the development of the cinematic language, and "Birth of a Nation" is possibly the most crucial and all-pervasive leap in the cinematic language that ever occurred. Previous to that film, for the most part, a scene was a shot and a shot was a scene, there were no intercuts. You actually do see the occasional example of intercutting in films between 1911-1915, but never consistently, and never with a clear understanding of how film goes together. It wasn't until D.W. Griffith figured the whole thing out and displayed it in "Birth of Nation" that everybody else suddenly understood. The great old director, Allan Dwan, who was making films before 1915, said that every filmmaker went and saw "Birth of a Nation" and it was like going to film school. "Birth of a Nation" is the major demarkation in the history of filmmaking so far. All films before it are one thing, and films after it are another. No other film has had that much impact on every other film that came after it. I think that the scene of John Wilkes Booth (played by the future great director, Raoul Walsh) assassinating Lincoln is the first fully-realized scene of montage in motion picture history. Griffith was the first director to integrate close-ups, tracking shots, inserts, and to compress time within scenes. The irony is that the film is politically a nightmare, the horrible KKK are the heroes, and the use of white people in black face is painfully ridiculous. But none of that diminishes Griffith's importance to the development and history of film.

Josh

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

Josh,

I just wanted to make a clarification from my last post, there was a typo. I left out the word "only" before disrespectful. I meant say not only is it disrespectful to the people of this country.

Leaving only out made the sentence quite different.

Yes, I know all good writing is quite difficult. I have been working on two songs lately and they are coming together, but I am hitting a little writers block.

Take Care,
Scott

Dear Scott:

I guess what I was saying, and folks can certainly dispute me, is that for me comedy and drama are equally as difficult, or conversely, I find one no harder than the other. It's a piece of common wisdom that comedy is more difficult, but I don't find it so. When writing drama, it's hard to know if it's coming anywhere close to working, whereas with comedy, ostensibly you know where the laughs are supposed to be, so if it's working or not is a clearer issue. With drama you may never know.

Josh

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

Josh,

I agree with what you said, and I too feel it is difficult to be funny on stage for 90 minutes. I also feel that comedy is one of the most difficult things to write for films and theatre. I am not sure how you feel about that?

To me it is like creating and singing a song. It has a great deal to do with timing, and if you are off, the whole piece will suffer.

I am not sure if you are aware of this organization or not MoveOn.org, but they recently held a contest called "Bush in 30 Seconds" where people sent in 30 second commercial spots relating to Bush's antics.

The winner was supposed to be aired on network TV. The organization purchased time during the Superbowl for today, however, CBS is refusing to air the spot. Surprise! I thought the spot was done very well. Here is the link to the site and quicktime movies of the winners: http://www.bushin30seconds.org/

The issue was even brought up in Congress by congressmen Senator Durbin from Illinois:

http://www.moveon.org/cbs/durbin.html

His discussion to Congress is very eye opening about our media giants and the Republican party.

The spot is airing on CNN between 8:10-8:35 this evening.

The ironic thing to me about the Bush administration is that they are doing what they are doing under the shroud of Democracy, yet what they are accomplishing is taking all the bad concepts of Socialism and turning into a totalitarian idea. It's my way or the highway attitude is not disrespectful to the people of this country and the world, but it is very dangerous to he welfare of this country as a democracy.

Scott

Dear Scott:

Yes, I saw Moby on Bill Maher's show discussing Moveon.org. I watched all of the anti-Bush spots, too, and many of them are quite creative. As to writing comedy, yes it's certainly difficult, but so is writing anything good, comedy or drama.

Josh

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

Josh,

Back to storytelling and/or the lack of it. I just bought the 45th anniversary dvd release of Singin' in the Rain. It's a wonderful collection of outtakes, original footage of the music (as it was previously performed in other movies) and a 96 minute documentary about Arthur Freed's "unit" at MGM. There's even a feature where a reel comes up and when you click on it, it shows the possible/probable source of inspiration for that scene. I noticed that this movie is on your favorites list and I wonder if it "holds up" over time. The songs (except for one or two) used were all previously written and the plot was structured around this collection of music. I think it's a cute little story and has a lot more meat to it, than many other musicals. Some of the dance numbers are a bit long (esp. "Gotta Dance") but the filming of them is great and something we don't see anymore. Too often we get close ups of the waist up or the feet-probably because the "stars" aren't really dancing.
The only other issue I have with the movie is that Debbie Reynolds (barely 20) had no chemistry with Gene Kelly (about 40) at all, in fact looked more suited with Donald O'Connor.
Any thoughts on this style of writing? If you haven't seen the documentary, it supports everything you have said about the studio system as it was in the "Golden Age" where producers were given a lot of freedom and $$$ to make the movies they wanted. They, in turn, gave their directors and writers a lot of freedom and clout to do their job.

Dear Kim:

"Singin' in the Rain" was Gene Kelly and Arthur Freed's follow-up to "An American in Paris," which was a very similar situation -- all of the songs were previously written by George and Ira Gershwin, and the finale orchestral piece was written in 1928. Alan Jay Lerner whipped up a fluffy little souffle of a story that tied all of the songs together, and everybody won Oscars. So, two years later they tried again, only this time using producer, Arthur Freed (and Nacio Herb Borwn's) songs, a number of which were written for the early sound musical "Broadway Melody" (Best Picture 1928-29). This time they got Betty Comden and Adolph Green to whip up a connecting story, which is a good one about the first talking pictures, and an ordeal that Arthur Freed had lived through and dealt with 25 years earlier. The modern version of this sort of melange would be "Moulin Rouge," except that there's no connection between the songs, they don't fit the period, and the connecting story is utter shit. So no, Hollywood can't even come close to making pictures like those Arthur Freed/Gene Kelly films. Not to mention that there's no one in films now who comes close to Gene Kelly's talent. Now we get "Chicago," where the best you can say is that the musically untalented actors gave it the old college try.

Josh

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

Josh,

As much as I enjoy Maher, I disagree with Jim that he sees both sides. He really doesn't even though he would like people to believe that.

There was one episode of Maher's show last season where he almost lost me. The skit was not politically incorrect, it was just in really bad taste and not funny at all.

He compared the Paparazzi shot of Lara Flynn Boyle looking anorexic in a bikini on a beach with the famous black and white photo of the Vietnamese child running down a road burning from Napalm.

I can always handle on the edge humor, but this was just plain stupid.

I grew up listening to George Carlin albums. I had them all. I love George and he is the king when it comes to stand up, but no sitcoms.

I hope Chris Rock's new stand up routine is funny, I think he is one of the best things to happen to stand up comedy in a long time.

Scott

Dear Scott:

I agree that comparison is in bad taste, but if you want to do cutting-edge humor you'll probably drop over into the realm of bad taste occasionally. Better that than sticking to what's PC. And one person's bad taste is another person's big laugh. Humor is frequently at someone's expense. In a world of PC it's very difficult to be funny. In George Carlin's last HBO special there was a fairly long stretch in the middle that was both in bad taste and not funny, but I don't hold it against him, it's got to be incredibly tough getting up there and being funny for 90-minutes. It's a very fine line between what's in bad taste and is funny, and what's in bad taste and not funny, and if that's a lne you're treading regularly, you're going to step over it. I also agree with you that Bill Maher is not even-handed, he's definitely on the side of the liberals, and I like him for it. Fuck the Republicans and their war-mongering, hyper-spending, tax-cutting for the wealthy, giant deficit, lying to the American public ways.

Josh

Name: Blake Eckard
E-mail:

Josh,

I just saw a little film that I thought was absolutely brilliant. Have you seen Guy Maddin's six-minute short "The Heart of the World,"? It was made for the 2000 Toronto Film Festival and according to most who attended was the single best film that played. It won numerous awards, was given a theatrical release, and was even selected as one of the years 10 best films by the New York Times and the Village Voice, a very rare feat for any short film. It's truely an exceptional work. I want to see more from Maddin, an independent Canadian filmmaker who's been around since the mid 80's. Had never heard of him before, but he's made half a dozen features or so.

Have a good one.

Blake

Dear Blake:

Thanks for the info. I've never heard of him or the film.

Josh

Name: Diana Hawkes
E-mail: upon request

Dear Josh:

I caught Mahar's episode last night, and I could be mistaken, but I recall Sean Astin saying that he was a long voting Democrat.

Mahar's site does not have that transcript up yet to confirm.

http://www.safesearching.com/billmaher/print/transcripts.shtml

Dear Diana:

I don't recall him saying that, but he's certainly a Republican now, and is on some committee of Bush's, and certainly talks like a brain-washed right-winger. I spoke with a friend of mine yesterday who absolutely agrees and defends Bush's actions, and when I said, "But he lied to us to go into war," my friend replied, "Oh, presidents lie to the people all the time." Yeah, but when they get caught they get fired. And just because it's been done before doesn't make it right. My friend went on to say that "Saddam was a destabilizing force in the mid-east." So the mid-east is a more stable place now? Al Quaeda has found a new home in Iraq where they can kill several Americans a day, so that's better? And this knee-jerk response of Republicans, that Saddam is a bad man who gassed the Kurds. Of course that was back in the 1980s when Saddam was our ally and we were supplying him with weapons, and probably gave him the gas he used on the Kurds, as well as a big thumbs-up to go do it. Bush senior went into Panama and killed 5,000 Panamanians (the worst disaster in their entire history) for absolutely no reason, doesn't that make him a bad man? Nixon and Kissinger supplied the weapons and the okay for the ethnic cleansing of East Timor, where over 300,000 people were slaughtered, so doesn't that make them both equally as bad as Saddam Hussein? We live in a glass house and we shouldn't be throwing stones.

Josh

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

Josh,

Chris Rock is a really funny comedian and his stuff is intelligent too! I was able to see his stand up routine live here in NYC and it was great!

I have to catch the new special. The last one was really funny. I loved his routine on Blacks being afraid of Whites reversing the stereotype scenario.

It was classic. I think he is the best comedian we have to offer these days.

Scott

Dear Scott:

I still hope so, but it's been a while since he's done a stand-up routine, with several years of that awful talk show, and several crappy movies in between. The NY Times review of the act was good, but not great. It didn't say it would be on HBO, but I believe it will be. Fame and fortune usually doesn't help a comedian keep their edge. Ellen DeGeneres' most recent stand-up routine was pretty good. Not screamingly funny, but consistently amusing. She said, "If I had a hammer, I'd hammer in the morning. I'd hammer in the evening. All over this land. Then you get a hammer, and surprising you don't use it all that much."

Josh

Name: Gideon Dabi
E-mail: gdabi27@yahoo.com

Dear Mr. Becker,

I am a big fan of your films and enjoy your commentary on other filmmakers. You are rather politically incorrect which I find most refreshing. The only thing I must take exception to is your editorial on religion and you version of the Jewish perspective of "we're the chosen people, so screw you all anyway." That is incorrect. Judaism is one of the few religions that firmly believe that you don't have to be a Jew to go to Heaven. We are slightly separatist, yes, but not hostile or elitist about the afterlife and such. I thought I read somewhere that you were Jewish? Anyway, keep up the good work.

Dear Gideon:

I am Jewish, and I still firmly believe that Judaism is utterly elitist, which in some way I admire about it. At least Jews don't go around proselytizing. You're either in or you're out. But certainly the orthodox and the Hassids don't believe that anyone but them are going to heaven, certainly not Muslims or Christians. I'm sorry, but heaven's a load of shit anyway. You think there's really a place where people hang around all day and all night for all of eternity floating on clouds? Come on. There is no heaven and there is no hell -- this is the whole deal. You can make heaven or hell out of it, but when you're dead, you're dead. And it doesn't matter if you were a Muslim, a Jew, a Hindu, or a Buddhist, dead is the same for everybody and everything. Humans are so painfully insecure that they're pissing their lives away that they demand that there simply must be something beyond this vale of tears. This reminds me of "The Decline of Western Civilization, Part II: The Metal Years," where all of these talentless young heavy-metal "musicians" keep telling you that they'll be famous, no question, they have faith, they believe, so it's inevitable. Except in every single case time has proven them wrong. That's what having blind faith in something (like heaven) gets you -- nothing.

Josh

Name: Lucas
E-mail: blah blah

Dear Josh:

I have to agree with you about Chris Rock. He's got everything a great comedian needs: he's a smart guy with a dicsernable <sp?> point of view, a sound socio-political mind, and he's really fucking funny. One thing I like about watching his specials is that, as a black man, he can get away with saying shit that no white person could ever get away with saying in public, no matter what.

His bit about Notorious BIG and Tupar Shakur, for example: "Martin Luther King was assasinated, those two niggas got shot!" Sums it right up, no?

Lucas

Dear Lucas:

Chris Rock certainly says what he wants. Like he said, people don't discuss the good side of crack. On the right day you can furnish your whole apartment for $25. You can get a big-screen TV for $10. Or as he said of OJ Simpson, his ex-wife is living in a condo he paid for, driving an expensive car he paid for, he's still paying her alimony, and she's fucking a white waiter. I don't say that killing them was right, I'm just saying I understand. But Chris Rock was another comedian that was no good at hosting a talk show, and I'm glad that went away.

Josh

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

Josh,

I watched the better part of a movie the other day which was similar to "Bell, Book and Candle". It must have been filmed in the late thirties and involved an engaged wealthy man, perhaps a doctor, who rescues a young woman from a hotel fire. She turns out to be a witch and starts working subtle spells on him. I really enjoyed the bit I watched and was wondering if you could figure out which film it was.

On a different note, I love those casting ideas. I think Shatner would be great and would carry a certain audience with him and pairing Lucy with Bruce would get you five Nielsen points with the sound turned off. I don't think Lucy has been on American TV since Xena ended, has she? I know she's been working but we haven't got to see anything beyond her cameo in "Spiderman".

Thanks,
John

Dear John:

Lucy was a regular on the recent, short-lived WB "Tarzan" series. Meanwhile, the film you're referring to could be "I Married a Witch" (1942) with Veronica Lake and Fredric March and directed by Rene Clair, although I could be wrong.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

I agree, John Stewart just isn't half as good as Maher. I haven't had a chance to watch much tv in the last few months (is Maher still on HBO?). But, I think the problem with Stewart is, for one, he's not nearly as smart as Maher, and he also goes for the easy jokes. Maher is actually politically incorrect in the sense that alot of people hate what he has to say. I don't think he's really trying to please anybody. Stewart softens the punch and goes after easier targets. You don't see Stewart saying fuck the children, or marriage is a waste, or religion is for morons. Stewart also seems to stick to one side of an issue. Maher is willing to hold two things in his head at the same time, to look at an issue from both sides. I'd also have to throw Carlin in there. Funnier than Maher and almost as smart. BTW, back to movies for a moment. Does anyone know if Twilight Zone is on DVD? I don't have a netflix account, but I'm working on a short-film script right now that has alot of dark humor and some sci-fi. Very similar to a twilight zone episode. I'd like to see some short-subject versions of this material (which I'm also planning to shoot in a few months on HD). Outside of Twilight Zone, there's also the Outer Limits, which I doubt is on DVD. Anyone else have suggestions for dark/sci-fi/comedy films?

Jim

Dear Jim:

All of the original "Twilight Zone" is out on DVD, and the original "Outer Limits" is, too. And I agree that George Carlin is a funnier comedian than Bill Maher, but he never could run a show (his sitcom was a disaster). On this week's show, Sean Astin proved that A.) he should never be on the show again, and B.) young Republicans are the most deluded people in America. The rationales that conservatives come up to defend Bush attacking Iraq are so pathetic it hurts my head. Astin said that Bush knew in his gut that Saddam was a bad man, and since Bush knew he only had 4 years as president, and if he presented the case straight he wouldn't have gotten a declaration of war, so he had to do what he knew was right in his gut. So, in essence, he had to lie so he could accomplish his pure and honorable goals. And now Bush and Powell are pointing fingers at the intelligence agencies because they're such gutless eunuchs they can't even take responsibility for their own horrible actions. As a TV director you are never allowed to make excuses. You shoot what's on the schedule, or you take responsibility for not getting it. If you point fingers at anyone else, even if they're to blame, you'll never be hired again. Politicians need to take the same attitude. Bush got us into this war under false pretenses and it's entirely his responsibility. Period.

Josh

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

Hey Josh,

I agree with John Hunt about John Stewart. I was going to mention him in my last post, but forgot to.

I like Bill Maher, but I think Stewart is much more funny than Maher and he doesn't take himself so seriously.

I agree with you about Miller before 9/11. I liked some of his routine and used to like him back in the days of SNL, however, after I met him in 1997, I began to dislike him, and now I very rarely think that anything he says is that funny.

I am not sure what he is afraid of? Maybe he is afraid that his talk shows will keep failing? Maybe he should have Saddam on his new show to boost his ratings? Ha!

Scott

Dear Scott:

John Stewart doesn't do it for me, I don't know why. I just read that Chris Rock has a new, full-fledged routine that just opened in NY, that will probably end up on HBO. He's funny. They quoted a line from the show about the tiger that bit Roy Horn, Chris says, "The tiger didn't go crazy, the tiger went tiger." He says the reason Krispy Kreme donuts are so good is that they contain crack (or would that be Krack?). Rock's first two HBO specials were brilliant.

Josh

Name: dustin
E-mail: dustglas@hotmail.com

Dear Josh:

Can you comment on who you cast for which part in the "Humans in Chains" production? Will Bruce be playing the president? Is sci-fi going to stick you with one of their usual troop of actors like Dean Cain, the bad cobra kai guy from karate kid, or David Keith? I don't know when or who decides those kinds of things, but I'm sure as heck interested.

On another note, my dad and I were watching the discovery channels doc. on "Barbarians" the other night, and the question came up on how this project came to be. Does someone that works with the discovery channel pitch the idea, then get it approved, then find a director and give him a budget, or does someone put the package together then try to sell it to the channel?
just curious if you knew. Interesting stuff though.

oh yeh, and i guess Bruces "Earwigs" idea is out for scifi?

Dustin

Dear Dustin:

Yeah, "Earwigs" is out. Bruce will be playing the lead, the astronaut doctor who leads the slaves to freedom. I've offered the second-lead astronaut to Lucy Lawless, but she hasn't said yes or no yet. I've suggested a number of older actors for the president, like William Shatner or Tony Curtis, but there's no word on that yet. Sci-Fi hasn't made any casting suggestions. And, quite frankly, I don't know how shows on Discovery come to be.

Josh

Name: Scott
E-mail:

Josh,

What do you think the democrats are afraid of? Do they fear that the Repblicans will issue a smear campaign against them? As far as I can see, it's already happening. I agree with you, Bush should be impeached and convicted of more crimes than I can count on both hands. Did you hear the latest? Moveon.org held a contest a while ago which entailed making an anti-Bush TV spot that would air during the Super Bowl. Well the contest had a winner, the only problem is that CBS is refuseing to air it because it's "disrespectful". This just goes to show you where this country is headed. A network will exploit the short comings of a Democrat who receives a blow job, but won't air a simple 30 second anti Bush TV spot. Liberal media my ass! 9/11 was the best thing that ever happened to Bush. Do you remember his first 9 months in office? The country perceived him as the incompetent boob who stole the election and said the word "Nucular!" I remember people throwing eggs at him right before his inauguration, and at thetime, he was certain to be a one termer. Have you ever thought about writing a political satire based on our current state of affairs? I think now is a great time for something of that nature.

Dear Scott:

And they're going to show a Bush commercial during the Super Bowl, but not an anti-Bush spot. But don't forget that all of the media is owned by giant multi-national conglomerates, and that's who Bush looks out for and gives tax breaks to, so it's their responsibility to cover his ass. Meanwhile, I already wrote one political satire, "The President's Brain is Missing," about a stupid Republican president.

Josh

Name: Jean
E-mail:

Hey Josh,

Whoops! My bad, I was talking about "Spellbound" the documentary which centers around 8 kids on their way to the national spelling bee in Washington. I found the film to be pretty engrossing and the fact that these kids spend 6 to 8 hours a day 7 days a week studying for the bee blew my mind. The last half of the film takes place at the bee and it is absolutely nerve wracking! You should check it out. I think you would find it to be very interesting. I've been on a documentary kick for the past few months. Documentaries seem to be the only films that I can really get into these days.

And yes, I am a silly kid. I have not seen Hitchcock's "Spellbound" but I will check it out. I remember watching "Treasure of the Sierra Madre" (one of my favorites) last year on DVD and I got a little bummed out because I realized that I will probably never be able to see it in a theater. When I first moved to L.A. almost 10 years ago there were a few theaters that screened classic films but that sort of faded out over the years. Kind of sad, huh?

I hope you are staying warm in Detroit.

Best,
Jean

Dear Jean:

Although I haven't lived in L.A. now for over two years, I just bet they still show old films in 35mm at the L.A. County Museum on Wilshire and Fairfax, where I literally saw hundreds of films. And I believe the Nuart in Westwood was still showing new indies and old films, too, when I left, but I could be wrong about that. Anyway, I did hear about the spelling bee documentary and that it was very good. It'll be on TV in no time and I'll watch it.

Josh

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

Josh,

I agree with you about both Maher and Miller, but do you ever catch The Daily Show with John Stewart? I think his show is both intelligent and entertaining. He slaps just as well to his right as he does to his left and the "roving reporter" bits are often hysterical.

In response to your tirade about Bush and the Iraq War, what really amazes me is the number of times Bush and his team have been given good advice and ignored it. For example, Bush tried and miserably failed to link Saddam Hussein and Al-Quaida. He tried to sell the War in Iraq an extension of the War on Terror. Though there was almost certainly no link before we invaded Iraq, It is true that Islamist terrorists from throughout the world have converged on the American forces in Iraq. The manpower and resources which might have been directed at American Targets in the West are now bottled up in Iraq. We are essentially attracting flies with honey, but that line of reasoning is not pursued, probably because it smacks too much of the US dumping its problems on the developing world. Not that we mind doing that, but we hate to be reminded pointedly. It is, at least, a credible justification for the Iraq Invasion.

You mention the "Mission Accomplished" episode on the aircraft carrier. If, when that issue came up, the administration had simply said that the aircraft carrier's mission in the Gulf had been accomplished, not the entire US military mission, I think the whole thing might have blown over. Instead we got a series of unbelievably lame denials ("Technically, the Navy put the sign up. We just made it and brought it along."). The mentality that bespeaks is one of disdain for the citizenry and I find it profoundly disturbing. There is something perversely honest about the politician politician who toadies. At least that politician recognizes the ultimate power of the electorate. My impression is that Bush feels himself ordained by God (HIS God) and the rest of us should either shut up or be shut up.

As if the Wars weren't enough we have a recovery with almost zero job growth, which means accumulation of wealth to the wealthy. We also have record-setting deficits with no relief in sight. The awarding of massive contracts to Haliburton felt bad even before they were caught taking kickbacks and price gouging.

It seems that we are being "governed" ("ruled") by a Cabal comprised of corporate heads and religious extremists, among whom G. W. Bush is actually fairly tame and benign (compared to the Ashcrofts and Rumsfelds and such-like). Bush at least, I think, believes in meritocracy. It doesn't matter your race, background or even your religion; as long as you are an asset and on-message you can be a member of the "Team". Being ordained of God, as this Cabal feels it is, means never having to consider that you might be wrong. I wonder if there is a democratic candidate who could actually halt, let alone reverse the separation of administration from liability. Government tends only to ratchet up.

John

PS This is a bit long. I will take no offense if it is not posted or given a response. Thanks.

Dear John:

To believe that Bush is the innocent in the bunch is, I think, a mistake. He's as evil and guilty as the worst of them, and it's his agenda of trying to right the old issues of his father's presidency that we're stuck with now. And if I have to hear one more time that the war was justified because Saddam is a bad man, I'll just scream. Whether Saddam is a bad man or not means nothing. That he gassed Kurds means nothing. Bush bypassed the Congress by saying that Saddam had WMDs and was planning on imminently using them on the U.S.A. That's why we went to war, and it was a blatant lie. Lying to get us into an unnecessary war is far worse than getting a blow-job or bugging Democratic headquarters, and if the Dems had any balls they'd be pushing to impeach that horrible asshole. So where's Ken Starr when you need him?

Josh

Name: Jean
E-mail:

Hi Josh,

I've been very delinquent on checking out your site lately---sorry about that dude. But I was very excited to find out that you have another film in the works. Congratulations Josh! I hope everything with the project keeps rolling along and that you make a kick-ass flick. Then maybe you can make "Biological Clock" and I can stop bugging you about it.

I watched a very interesting film last night called "Manic". I read the script about 2 years ago and remember really liking it. I was pleased to see that the film came through for the most part. It was shot on digital and it's about a group of teenagers in a mental hospital. The lead character lands there after he beats the shit out of another kid with a baseball bat. The performances were very good and the emotion felt realistic. Anyway, if you get a chance to check it out you should do so.

I also had a great time watching "Spellbound" this weekend. Have you seen it?

I hope all is well with you and I can't wait to hear more about your project.

Best,
Jean

Dear Jean:

Good to hear from you. Have I seen "Spellbound"? What sort of movie geek would I be having not seen "Spellbound"? Unlike you silly kids, I've seen many of these classic movies in 35mm in a movie theater. I think it's lesser Hitchcock, but still a lot of fun. It's a great flashback to the kid sliding down the rail, kicking the other kid and having him land on the spikes. And of course the giant hand with the giant pistol aiming back at the lens, and let's not forget the poorly conceived Dali dream sequence.

Josh


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