Q & A    Archive
Page 117

Name: Blake Eckard
E-mail:

Josh,

Damn, I was so absolutely blown away by Kurosawa's "Ran," that I thought about it for weeks. Actually, I'm still thinking about it. I would easily put it in the top five best films I've recently seen. Of his other works, I've only ever seen "Rashomon," "The Seven Samurai," "Red Beard." I thought they all were amazing. I didn't like "High and Low." I felt it would never end. "Dersa Ursla," (sp) was also a let down, although much better than most of what I've seen lately.

What's your take? I think he's most certainly one of the best filmmakers of all time. Kurosawa and Welles, to my mind, are unequaled as film directors with such infulence.

BTW, Allison Anders recently pissed me off. (Not that I've ever though much of her). She said she's sick of everyone trying to be like Orson Welles...She even went as far as saying she wished he'd never been born! Can you believe that hog shit? Allison Anders hasn't produced a film even half as interesting as Welles' worst. Just imagine how much better the indie scene would be if all young upcoming filmmakers tried to be as good as Welles.

Have a good one.

Blake

Dear Blake:

For me "Ran" went on and on forever. Kurosawa seemed so old at the time that the only way he'd cut is when the ten-minute roll of film ran out, then they'd have to wake him up and inform him the film had run out. Meanwhile, I liked "Dersu Uzala" very much. And though "High and Low" is at least a half an hour too long -- but then, so are all of Kurosawa's movies -- I liked it, too. I thought "Red Beard" was awful, as was "Dodes Kaden," but I really liked "Ikiru." Meanwhile, who gives a shit what Allison Anders thinks? I don't even feel like any filmmakers have ever tried to be Orson Welles, and most wouldn't even know what that entailed. As I said in my "Genius in Film" essay, I believe that only four geniuses have ever bothered to work in motion pictures: Thomas Edison, D.W. Griffith, Orson Welles, and Stanley Kubrick, and that's it.

Josh

Name: kdn
E-mail: jericho_legends@yahoo.com

Dear Josh:

Watched Ken Russell's TOMMY the other night, although he fucked up some of my favorite songs, I thought it worked on plain weirdness. That, and how can you beat a movie with Ann Margaret rolling around in baked beans or jack nicholson singing (he stilled messed up my favorite song). Whether you liked it or not, are there any others you know similar to it? (I heard I should see THE WALL)

Dear kdn:

If your goal is to see terrible movies based on rock albums, like "Tommy," then quick, go see "The Wall," then follow it up with "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band," where the highlight is a fight scene between The Bee Gees and Aerosmith slapping each other like little sissies. The one of these films that's actually not bad, although not great, either, is "Quadraphenia." Far better than all of that shit is this VH-1 series, "Classic Albums," which I've now watched most of. The newest one, on "Dark Side of the Moon," was terrific. There's also one on "The Wall" that was very good. I also enjoyed the episodes on: Paul Simon's "Graceland," U2's "The Joshua Tree," "Fleetwood Mac's "Rumours," Jimi Hendrix's "Band of Gypsies," Bob Marley's "Catch a Fire," and The Grateful Dead's "Anthem to Beauty," among others.

Josh

Name: Michoyl Pejzden
E-mail: michoyl@yahoo.com

Dear Josh:

Eyes Wide Shut is definitely an old man's movie, though I reckon Bunuel did pretty well up to the end, so I don't agree with the blanket condemnation of older directors. What really puzzles me is why anyone thinks 2001 or Clockwork Orange were ever more than pretentious, stylish crap...

Dear Michoyl:

Although "That Obscure Object of Desire" and "The Phantom of Liberty" were both well-received, I didn't like either one and found them both pale, dull versions of his earlier, better work, so I must disagree about Bunuel. To me they're very much like Kurosawa's last films. The public at large doesn't pay any attention to guys like that until they're nearly dead, then they heap honorary awards on them and overly-praise they're final films. Meanwhile, I disagree with you again because I think "2001" and "Clockwork Orange" are pretty terrific films that were hugely influential. In the case of "2001," if you didn't see it in a theater in 70mm, you didn't see it.

Josh

Name: Warren Serkin
E-mail: wizardbard@comcast.net

Dear Josh:

This didn't seem to come through the first time so I'll try again. Could I submit a package for consideration for a role in your SciFi channel film and, if so, to whom should I submit it to. Thanks.

Dear Warren:

It did come through and I ignored it. No, you may not submit anything, thank you. Other than the three leads, everyone else will be cast in Bulgaria.

Josh

Name: Ralph
E-mail:

Hi Josh,

When did you offer a part to Renee O'Connor? Did you go through her agent or just call her up? Good luck to you on your film!

Your fan,
Ralph

Dear Ralph:

I didn't do anything. The executive producer is dealing with her agent and her manager. It's not a done deal yet, either.

Josh

Name: Sharon
E-mail: outback@creationent.com

Dear Josh:

In an earlier message you said you didn't have a part for Renee in Alien Apocalypse and now she's playing the female lead. Did you not think of her for that role?

Dear Sharon:

Quite frankly, no I didn't. I was thinking a lot more along the lines of Lucy, who turned me down. But once we began going over all of the available actresses, Renee seemed better than all of them to Bruce and I. So, I realigned my thinking, and now Renee seems great to me. I love working with her and I completely trust her, I just have to stop envisioning her as being 20-years old, like when I first met her. And the more I've thought about her in the part, the better I like it. I think I'll have her play her real Texas accent, too. I think Texas gals can see becoming an astronaut as a legitimate possibility.

Josh

Name: Jeff Quest
E-mail:

Josh,

I do agree, they don't make movies like they use to. I recently had a chance to see "The Godfather" again at the theater. What a great movie. Poor Al Pacino. What happened to him. My girlfriend hadn't seen the movie before and didn't realize that was him until I told her. He is more scary in that film than any of the other "hoo-hah" crap he's done since and he barely says anything. Was it just having a good director that brought it out or has he just lost it?
One other possibly stupid question. What is it that allows plays to be successfully done over and over in many different ways but movies are never remade any better? Is it just the fact that you're catching it on film for all time, or that the writing isn't as good, or that in a good film there's only one 'good' way to shoot a scene, the fact theater is in front of a live audience or something else?
jeff

Dear Jeff::

It's the intentions, which nobody pays attention to anymore. 99 times out of a 100 a play is put on for the joy and the exercise of it, not to make a killing. To paraphrase William Goldman, all remakes and sequels are whore's films -- they're only being made for money, and with that intention can pretty much only be shit. All remakes are bad ideas.

Josh

Name: Scott
E-mail:

Josh.

I completely agree with you on the Clarke issue. I was wondering what your thoughts were on that little slide show Bush conducted a few days ago. When a slide of him puruseing his office was displayed, he joked that he was looking for the WMDs, then joked that he still couldn't find them four aditional times. I was just apalled that he had the chutzpah to laugh about the biggest fuck up of his term. I was also hoping that would give Kerry a boost. Anyway, did you happen to see the diner/roast/slide show, and Isn't it interesting that Condoleeza Rice won't publicly testify? I smell guilt.

Dear Scott:

Hopefully everyone else does, too. All that roast footage said to me, which I already clearly knew, is that Bush is clueless. Bush is the stupidest, most corrupt, sorriest motherfucker to ever inhabit the white house, and I'm just sorry I've had to live through it.

Josh

Name: Jeff Quest
E-mail:

Josh,

It sounds like you watch most of your movies through cable or netflix, since most modern movies are kind of crappy. Do you miss seeing films on the big screen? I live in chicago where I'm lucky enough to have multiple places to go to check out classics on the big screen - is there anything like that where you are? The extra bonus of that is since they're old movies the audience really wants to be there and aren't talking or answering their cell phone.
good luck with the new film!
jeff

Dear Jeff:

There isn't really such a place here in Detroit. There are a few Landmark art houses, and there's the Detroit Film Theater at the Institute of the Arts, which is the more obscure, recent art films and documentaries, as well as retrospectives of old foreign films. I've been to see one film there since moving back to Detroit a year and a half ago, which was "How to Draw a Bunny," a documentary about the pop artist Ray Johnson, that i thought was very good. It was directed and edited by a buddy of mine, John Walter, and he found a subject that was truly worth making a film about, which is the key to a good documentary. Anyway, do I miss seeing movies on the big screen? Not really. If I can see a film nice and sharp, and letterboxed to its proper perspective, like on DVD, I do feel like I've seen it. Not that it wasn't great as a kid going to see "2001" on a giant screen in 70mm in a 2000-seat theater, or "Lawrence of Arabia" or "The Sound of Music," but they don't make pictures like that no more.

Josh

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

Josh,

At some point in one of the Gospels Jesus says that anyone who has coveted another's wife has committed adultery in his heart. I doubt, however, that anyone became pregnant that way. As for coveting another's goods, I disagree with the premise. If I walk into a restaurant and see a meal on someone else' plate that looks good, I ask for another like it, not that other persons actual plate. Actually, when I looked up the Ten Commandments after reading your reply I really only found nine, the last one covering so much grround that they split it up. I don't buy any of all that anyway, and I'm willing to concede the individual point. I will try to catch Carlin's latest show. As I say, he was an idol of mine.

I read somewhere that Lee Majors was tremendously close to Barbara Stanwick and that he attributes much of his success to her. He had a cousin or something who won the Heisman too, by the way. I was amazed to find out that Majors and my father are the same age. They don't even seem like they are from the same world. This project is getting more exciting all of the time. Thanks,

John

Dear John:

I must agree with Carlin's point that coveting thy neighbor's belongings is the basis of our economy. I see my neighbor's new wide-screen plasma TV, and it looks so cool that I want one, too. That's what keeps the economy going. I personally could care less about stuff of any sort, cars, electronics or anything else. I think it's all worthless junk.

Josh

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

Josh,

As much as I agree that anger can be an energy that keeps one going, it can also be a catalyst for self destruction which can lead to the opposite of creativity or worse death.

I think this goes along the lines of dealing with one's shit before it deals with you.

The reason I was so turned off by Carlin after his wife died is that he wasn't really dealing with his pain very well and his monologues were terrible.

I think he made the mistake of trying too hard, and the man was visibly in pain, however, it just came out as spite and not in the great way in which Carlin was known for delivering.

I read an interview with him a couple years ago and he seemed to have dealt with his issues and he met someone new which definitely boosted his moral.

I have to watch his comedy special on cable because it sounds good from what you have been saying here.

One last thing. It is not so bad to go to bed and wake up happy every once in awhile!

Scott

Dear Scott:

No, I'm sure it's wonderful waking up happy, it just won't make you a good writer, comedian or commentator. To be a serious critic of society one must be honestly disturbed by things. I mean, I didn't think that I could get more pissed-off with GW Bush and his cronies, but the 9/11 commission hearings actually achieved this. Richard Calrke made it very clear that Bush & co. were flatly asleep at the wheel regarding terrorism before 9/11 and that it was not important issue to them. The one indisputable fact, which they're trying to use against Clarke, is that Bush demoted Clarke and the entire counter-terrorism dept. from executive status, where the counter-terrorism dept. had been for 9 years previously, down to deputy status, so that basically they could never get their suggestions up to the executive level. It doesn't matter what Clarke says, or anyone for that matter, the act of demoting the counter-terrorism dept. states clearly that terrorism was not an important issue to Bush until 9/11. In fact, he was pretty much ignoring it because he was too busy planning to attack Iraq for no good reason. And, as Clarke stated, the war in Iraq has undermined the war on terrorism. This kind of thing really pisses me off, particularly when I hear Bush respond by saying, If I knew a an airplane was going to be used as a missle to hit the WTC, I would have done something about it. Has that got enough qualifications on it? The fact is that the FBI knew about two of the hijackers being in the country before 9/11, and never told the CIA or the counter-terrorism dept. This information would have been exchanged had the counter-terrorism dept. still been an executive level dept. that was meeting with the other executive level people everyday, like they were under Clinton. Had this info been exchanged there is a chance that 9/11 could have been averted. Therefore, Bush, Rice & co. are partially responsible for the 9/11 attacks. And they're completely responsible for going after the wrong people afterward. And that makes me angry.

Josh

Name: Lucas
E-mail:

Dear Josh,

So if you're beginning pre-production in mid-April, what category do the storyboards you've been working on fall under? And what will the work in April consist of?

Lucas

Dear Lucas:

Well, since I'm not on payroll, nor is anyone else, pre-production hasn't begun. My drawing the storyboards would be considered pre-pre-production, I guess. During actual pre-production locations will be scouted and secured, sets will be designed and built, costumes will be designed and built, actors will be cast, a crew will be hired, y'know, shit like that.

Josh

Name: Lucas
E-mail: already given

Dear Josh,

Lee Majors! Right fuckin' on!

That's all, carry on.

Lucas

Dear Lucas:

That's what I think, too.

Josh

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

Dear Josh,

Holy shit! Did I read that right? Renee is doing the female lead? You have no idea how many crazed fans (me included) are going to be so happy about this. And Lee Majors has always been a guilty pleasure of mine, not from his later work, but from The Big Valley.

You know, for Sci-Fi, that's a pretty big-name cast. And with the obvious genre connections, I suspect this will be something they market the living daylights out of. Best of luck, and keep us posted on developments. Speaking of which, any idea when you'll begin filming? And is Bruce doing his film over there now?

Thanks,

August

Dear August:

Apparently, although not confirmed yet, we begin pre-production in mid-April, and we begin shooting the second or third week of May. Bruce will be directing his picture after this one, in June-July. My first question to Lee Majors will be, What was Barbara Stanwyck like?

Josh

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

Dear Josh,

At one point I recall you mentioning that you were going to have to force yourself to see "Cold Mountain," just to check out the sort of locations that you might be dealing with on your upcoming film. FYI - this coming Saturday evening, the Sci-Fi Channel is re-running a very bad film called "Interceptor Force 2" at 7 PM EST, but I believe most of it was shot in and around Sofia, Bulgaria. Only reason I'm familiar with it is that Adrienne Wilkinson, who played Xena's daughter, is in it. At any rate, I can't recommend the film, but it might be a good preview for the sort of locations, extras, etc. you may be working with.

Regards,

August

Dear August:

Thanks. Since we're not going to Bucharest, Romania I don't have to watch "Cold Mountain," thank goodness. I have watched one dreadful Sci-Fi production shot in Bulgaria, but it didn't tell me much, nor will some other picture shot there. I'll simply have to go there and deal with what is. Given the 18-day schedule, the major criteria will be that every location must be as close to town as humanly possible, period. I really can't spend one extra minute traveling. So, unless things change, which they easily could, my main cast will be: Bruce Campbell, Renee O'Conner, and Lee Majors as the former president. Sounds like a good cast to me.

Josh

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

Josh,

I trust you are aware that Carlin is quoting two different translations of the same Commandment, not two different Commandments. He is also deliberately misreading the word "kill" which should have been translated "murder", or "kill without justification". After all, the biblical Israelites pretty much spend all of their time killing; they merely felt justified doing so because "God said they should".

That, to me, is the problem with Carlin's later humor; he used to take what we truly were and showed us how foolish we were for being that way. Whether it was prudishness, hypocrisy, religion, or what have you, he percieved and addressed the culture as it was. He changed. I also will admit that I have not paid much attention to him of late. The last routines I saw of his were his "NIMBY" routine and his bit about "Houselessness". Both routines were based upon false premises. "NIMBY" tried to ridicule people for not wanting halfway-houses in their neighborhoods. But there are very good reasons to not want half-way houses in one's neighborhood. He also tried to make "NIMBY" into a White phenomenon which, it turns out, it is not. It is more an issue of social class (and corresponding political clout) as witnessed in Atlanta.

In "Houselessness" he tried to assert that there were not enough houses for homeless people. There are plenty of houses in America, we tear the things down at astonishing rates, mostly because no one lives in them. The problem is far more complex and involves economics and health care issues, not at all Carlin's assertion. By then suggesting that golf courses are to blame he again tried to put a racial slant upon an issue which is not inherently racist. Atlanta has as many homless people as does Minneapolis. Comedy is only funny when it resonates and I don't find that Carlin resonates because his perception is off. I don't think that the culture has changed that much, I think events in Carlin's life have hindered his craft. I used to think he was great, by the way.

That last really good thing I've known Carlin to do was his narration for the "Thomas the Tank Engine" stories, but, then, I've got kids. Thanks,

John

Dear John:

I'm sorry, man, but you're wrong. One commandment is "Thou shalt not commit adultery," and another is "Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's wife," which also includes not coveting they neighbor's house, his manservant, his maidservant, his ox, or his ass. He took that one and broke it in two to dispense with it, saying you don't need part one, coveting they neighbor's wife, because you've already got Thou shalt no commit adultery, and you don't need part two, the coveting of they neighbor's belongings, because it's bad for the economy. And if you haven't seen his last routine, you've missed something because it was very good. Quite frankly, to be a incisive comedian or commentator or writer, you really must be pissed-off by the way things are. As good old Harlan Ellison once said, "A good writer goes to bed angry, and wakes up angry."

Josh

Name:
E-mail:

Hi Josh,

Okay, I might finally be making progress. In the Structure question you're not talking about a rule of screenwriting, you're talking about a universal natural law of Story. They taught this in high school, now that I remember it, under other names I think.

If you want to know one thing that's sometimes genuinely confusing about the subject of structure on this site, it's that you do not, like other critics, seem to admit a distinction between authorial incompetence (it's vague, it's confused, it doesn't come to a point) and intentional unorthodoxy (its progression is non-linear, it doesn't obey the accepted time-clock, the main character dies at an unconventional moment in the
film.) It's treated as just all incompetent.

I'd be the first to agree that unorthodoxy is pure annoyance when the story is bad (In the Bedroom, American Beauty, Memento). This is often what you're saying, right - first of all it was a lousy story, and then we're also supposed to put up with all these acrobatics and even admire them.

In the other hand I do admire unorthodoxy when it serves a real purpose in a good story, as I thought was the case in A Beautiful Mind, where the sudden interruption and
radical re-orientation of the plot trajectory might have been a flaw but instead was an inspired strategy, enabling insight into a life predicament that I never had understood so well before, and never would have.

I don't remember seeing A Beautiful Mind being on your "Likes" list so you probably don't agree about it, but I was wondering, are there any films that are exceptions to the usual pattern, substantial deviations from traditional form, that you do admire? One place says no way, another says, maybe.

Thanks,

Alice

Dear Alice:

This reminds me of my late friend, Rick's, one attempt at commercial screenwriting, called "Teenagers Die Screaming" (I always liked the title). All of these high school students are dying one by one of various causes, and at the end we find out that there was absolutely no connection between any of the deaths. I said, "There's no point." Rick lit up and declared, "That's the point, there's no point." I replied, "Whether you've arrived at having no point because you're an idiot, or you arrived there through an intellectual course, you've nevertheless arrived at the same place. No point is no point and the route you took to get there doesn't matter." So, just dispensing with the three-act structure because you think it's hemming you in, and without having some other workable structure to fall back on, is not adventurous or experimental, it's called bad writing. Yes, you can come up with a new structure, which would be extremely difficult, but you can't just have no structure because that's called shit. The best recent example, I'd say, of a workable, alternate structure to three-acts was "Groundhog Day," which is in about 8 or 10 acts. If they'd used the three-act structure they probably would have repeated the one day three times, but that wouldn't have made their point. He needed to relive that same day many times to make their point, and new information is given each time. And I can assure you that writing that script was very difficult, and they certainly didn't just jump in and let it work itself out. It's like many (or most) young directors who don't make a plan before arriving on the set and are waiting for inspiration on the set. This may seem free-wheeling and adventerous, but it's really just lazy stupidity, and will always result in a bad product. The more thought you put into something the better it will be, not vice versa.

Josh

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

Josh,

Point well taken. I have to watch the latest Carlin special, since I gave up on him years ago, so I can't make that judgement about him now until I see his new stuff.

In reference to "Sophie's Choice" there is a great book I read a few years ago called "A Man's Search for Meaning" written by the pyschologist Victor Frankel.

The first half of the book focuses on his life and subsequent survival in a concentration camp which allowed him to develop his theories and work in the realm of psychology. It's a great book and it really shows the nature of humans when faced with such attrocity.

I had someone tell me once that there is a reason that each and everyone of us is born into this world as if the choice was ours to come into it.

I told him that I don't believe that at all and I feel that none of choose to be born and that everyone gives their own reasons and meaning to their lives when they are alive.

The drama of "Sophie's Choice" has something to do with that and I understand your point now.

If their is an afterlife or a past life, I don't know, but I do know that this life is what we have now and we must make the best of it or not.

Scott

Dear Scott:

And the great irony of life is that by the time you start to figure things out and get something of a handle on living, you've pissed away at least half of it. As Woody Allen says at the end of "Annie Hall" (since most of my wisdom is derived from movies), Two old ladies at a Catskill resort, one says to the other, "The food here is terrible," and the other replies, "Yeah, and the portions are so small."

In George Carlin's last HBO special, "Complaints & Grievances," he says that we don't need ten commandments, it's just too many, and besides, some of them are redundant and stupid. For instance, Thou shalt not commit adultery, and Thou shalt not covet they neighbor's wife are the same thing, so replace the two with "Be faithful." Thou shalt not covet they neighbor's belongings is just stupid because our whole economic system is based on it, so just scrap it. He finally gets to Thou shalt not kill, which he says that no sticks to because their religions demand that they kill each other, so that should be amended to Thou shalt not kill, unless someone believes in a different invisible man than you, in which case it's okay.

Josh

Name: dave
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

if you shoot a movie on film then transfer it to video, how is that different from just shooting it on video?

for a first time film maker what format do you think is best - 16mm film, video, or digital video?

thank you

Dear Dave:

It looks different. It's like the difference between "ER" and "American Idol." Film still looks better, even when it's transfered to video. But what format you choose to shoot in depends on a number of issues, like: how much money have you got? What do you intend to do with the film? Is it a documentary, in which case video is certainly the way to go. Does cinematography matter to you? You need to think about these things.

Josh

Name: Eric Rosenthal
E-mail: eric30202002@yahoo.com

Hi Josh,

You recently mentioned looping dialog for "Hammer". I'm doing some dialog replacement this weekend and was hoping you could give me some tips. I'm setting up a monitor so my actors can watch themselves, and listen to the dialog that I recorded on location. I'm also setting up foam or blankets to absorb ambient sound. I don't have a DAT so I'm using my DV camera (with a good microphone) to record sound. Is there anything else I can do (cheaply) to make sure the sound syncs up with the picture and is as high quality as possible?

Thanks,
Eric

Dear Eric:

Obviously, you want the sync sound coming through headphones for the actor, but not loud enough for the mike to pick up. Otherwise, just go for it, and if it looks like it fits, then it fits. Getting a similar level of performance is more important than exact sync anyway. You'll be fine.

Josh

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

Josh,

Carlin didn't really become bitter until after his third heart attack (His first he had in his early 40's) and his wife's death after a long fight with cancer about 8 years ago.

After that, he not only became angry, but he also became not very funny anymore. His stand up routines during this period were full spite and it was difficult to understand just what he was trying to achieve if anything.

I used to love his monologue comedy, but he just isn't funny anymore.

Somehow, I just really don't believe you when you say that you share this opinion about humans "for the most part, stupid, creepy little creatures that deserve all of the bad shit that befalls them."

I think if you really felt this way in your heart, you would not have many friends, but I don't believe that to be the case.

I have a Croatian friend here in NYC and he came to America when he was 12 years old under political asylum.

He is 34 years old now and he just received papers which allow him to leave the US which he could not do since he was 12. Not even to travel!

He did not have the same freedoms that I did living in this country, yet he is really a happy guy. He just had a little girl 8 months ago, he loves his wife, and his life.

My point is that there are people who look at life in different ways.

While we were talking about the problems here in the US, he said to me "The socialist system in my country has some positive things to it, but the problem is that the people in my country talk a lot about doing something to change things, yet that is all they do is talk,and that is one freedom that Americans take for granted".

I totally agree with him and lately, I hear a lot of talk in this country, yet not many things are being done. Complaining about things isn't going to solve the problems.

Scott

Dear Scott:

I must disagree about George Carlin. His last HBO show, "Complaints & Grievances," was really good, and I watched it three times. I think he's as funny as ever, he just isn't suited for a panel discussion. And we do deserve all the shit that befalls us, don't we? Isn't that called "Life"? On some horrible level, isn't life completely fair? Mainly because that's just how it is. At the end of "Sophie's Choice," after this fairly grueling drama, the kid walks across the Brooklyn Bridge and says, "But all in all, life is fair," and it kind of shook me. How could that be the point about this woman who had been in a concetration camp, had to choose between the lives of her two children, lived even though neither of her kids did, then ended up committing suicide. Life is fair? How could the Pulitzer Prize-winning author, William Styron, come to this conclusion? And on a bigger level than human drama, whatever life is, that's what it is.

Josh

Name: Alice Schultz
E-mail: schultz3123@hotmail.com

Hi Josh,

About screenwriting, if there's one thing I definitely don't get t's this about the non-negotiable structure -three acts and the rest. How can there be only one correct structure for a screenplay? Shakespeare wrote in five acts. A random scan from the Greeks onward shows playwrights have always written in any number of acts from one up. Is film drama intrinsically different from live drama so as not to have these choices? But why would it be intrinsically different? Plus then it would be automatically wrong to film Henry V or A Man for All Seasons. Or are you and others maybe talking about some kind of "deep" structure that any good script will have regardless of the surface divisions? But then might not any number of experimental forms actually prove to have this deep structure on examination? Or what?

Alice

Dear Alice:

The three-act structure is an intellectual concept about how a story is told. You can break it up into eight acts, like the TV movie I'm about to do, but it's still a three-act story, basically acts 1-2 are the real act one, acts 3-6 are the real act two, and 7-8 are the real act three. But most stories are told in three sections, set-up, confrontation, resolution. That doesn't mean all stories have to be told that way, but for the most part, that's the best way to tell the most powerful story. It's just like a joke, which has a set-up and a punchline. A story has three parts, but they work the same way -- you set 'em up and you pay 'em off. Of course, you can always tell the punchline first, but it isn't going to make the joke any funnier.

Josh

Name: Kate
E-mail: monsterkw@yahoo.com

Dear Josh:

I'm interested in writing a screenplay and I'm just wondering how much money can be made selling a script...

Dear Kate:

For 99.9% of all screenplays written, nothing. Most scripts aren't worth the paper they're written on, or the ink that was wasted to print them. At the other end, there are a few folks who have gotten more than a million dollars for their scripts, some as high as three million. But, for the most part, there are eight million scripts in Hollywood and nothing will happen with most of them. If making money is your goal, go into real estate, you're not needed in the movie business.

Josh

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

Howdy, Josh.

I was listening to the RUNNING TIME commentary last night, and I believe you said you knew the lovely Anita Barone since high school. Does she dig guys in wheelchairs? Tell her I've got a great head of hair...

On a serious note, that's a cool commentary on that disc. I love the casually informative way you and BC talk about the making of the film. It's far and away better than some of those other commentaries where it sounds like the guy has a stick in his ass the whole time. I was wondering if LUNATICS was ever on laserdisc, and did you record a commentary for it? If not, what's the likelihood of you and Ted Raimi recording one when the DVD eventually comes out?

Also, I saw George Carlin on Bill Maher's show this week. Carlin's hilarious, I've loved his stand up stuff for years, but there seems to be something sad about him now. He's always hated the human race, but the old guy seemed kind of depressed. Did you notice anything different? Like he's not amused by the world around him any more, only pissed and disappointed? It really put me on a bummer.

Anyways, I'll be moseying on. Take care.


Your friend,
Bird

Dear Bird:

Anita's married, I'm sorry to tell you. I haven't seen her in a couple of years, not since she came in and looped the voice of the mother in "Hammer" for me. She's such a pro she did that job in about 20 minutes.

Regarding George Carlin on "Real Time," I just don't think that's his forte, being part of a panel discussion. He's a monologist and being part of a group discussion just wasn't his thing. Also, his POV is different than most people's (and much closer to mine)--humans are, for the most part, stupid, creepy little creatures that deserve all of the bad shit that befalls them. I didn't think that Gore Vidal functioned all that well on the show the next week, and he is certainly smarter than just about every other guest Bill's had. Panel discussions just aren't for everyone. You really need to be someone who will out-yell the other guests, and Carlin and Vidal aren't about to do that.

Josh

Name: Kendall
E-mail: justforfun000ca@yahoo.ca

Dear Josh:

Bravo. Well said, and very well constructed.

The only unfortunate thing is that the people who SHOULD read it, won't, and even if they did, they would still think up a million excuses as to why you're wrong but you just don't know it because you're "lost". "It might LOOK like you are right, but AHHH if you only knew God like me"

Ah well. It's appreciated by some of us., Cheers. :-)

Dear Kendall:

I guess you're referring to the "Religion is Evil" essay. I'm glad you appreciated it. Anyone who says that religion is not the basis of evil is because they've already been inducted into the cult of evil and are one of Satan's minions, to put it in religious terms.

Josh

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

Dear Josh,

Just checking in to see how things are going, and to chime in my two cents on a few things. I'm glad to see that your deal on ALIEN APOCALYPSE is going ahead, and I look forward to seeing it on TV when I get back stateside.
I'd like to share some thoughts that have been on my mind lately concerning this situation with Halliburton. I don't feel qualified to discuss the issue with petroleum purchase from Kuwait (that's not my lane), but I feel I can chime in knowledgeably on the catering and food service aspect of their operation.
I believe that the overcharging issue with Halliburton and it's subsidary corporation, Kellogg, Brown and Root, is administrative error and not deliberate fraud, and I'll tell you why. All KBR dining facilities in CENTCOM (Kuwait, Iraq, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, etc.) serve four meals per day (breakfast, lunch, dinner, and midnight meal), available to all soldiers, KBR personnel, U.S. contractors, and certain native personnel at each post. For quality control and health reasons, most of this food has to come from the United States (certain bulk canned goods, packaged milk, and some vegetables come from Kuwait or Europe, but the bulk is American). These goods, many frozen and/or perishable, are shipped primarily by air, where they have to compete for limited space with everything from bullets to bedpans, all the sundry and miscellany of Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force logistical needs. The dining facility managers on the ground know roughly how many people they have to feed everyday, and since the company's contract hinges on having meals available for all soldiers without fail, the managers have to plan and order rations under the assumption that every soldier will be present at every meal. This way, the dining facility never runs short on meals.
The only problem with this is that not every soldier or civilian eligible to eat in the mess hall eats every meal every day there. In a hot climate, you want to eat alot less, so over the summer it is no big thing to see the soldiers eat only one meal a day, sometimes one meal every couple of days. Even in temperate weather, no one will eat four meals a day. However, heavy volume times can't always be anticipated because of sudden tactical considerations; the soldiers you support might have a mission that interrupts the meal volume [example: you have an infantry battalion on your FOB, and a division OPORDER comes down tasking that battalion with a raid, to be set up in the late afternoon and take place after nightfall. You now have 400-550 soldiers who will not be eating dinner, but who will crowd into midnight chow, which is usually your lightest volume meal. As a civilian contractor, you will have at best extremely limited knowledge of any missions that the soldiers you support are tasked with, especially if you have locals working in your facility. Thus, you can't predict fluctuations in meal volume, so you always have to plan for a heavy volume of diners at each meal.
The other thing is that you have competition for the mess hall, even in forward deployed bases in Iraq. Often, there will be a restaurant run by locals (we have one on our base), plus franchise restaurants brought in for morale purposes, like the Burger King at Baghdad International Airport, the Pizza Hut at LOGBASE Anaconda in Balad, or the Subway that they're opening on my own FOB. Soldiers especially get bored of the chow hall, no matter how good it is, and want either a taste of home, or just something plain different. This further effects the number of people eating in the mess halls at any given time. Since the facilities have to operate on the premise of maximum dining volume at every meal when they order supplies and you don't actually have that many people eating, once you add up the actual headcounts (taken at the door by KBR personnel with limited command of English, I might add), you get a discrepancy. It may be inefficient, but it's most likely not fraud. As for me, all I know is that the service and the food in KBR chow halls are always excellent, and certainly 1,000 times better than what we would be eating if they weren't here (MREs and T-Rations, which we ate for the first ten months of this deployment). The fact that Halliburton can accomplish this awesome logistical feat at all is amazing, and if there is some spillage, then so be it. Also note that when the discrepancy came to light, Halliburton agreed to hold back on presenting to the government $150 million of operating costs and bills until the issue was resolved. To sum up, while fraud is often the norm in the world of government contracts, this is one instance where I don't think it is the case. Sorry for the long post, but I wanted to get that down.

Darryl

Dear Darryl:

But that's just one of about five things Halliburton has over-charged the U.S. goverment for, and maybe thay have good reasons for all of them, I don't know. But if a Democrat were in office and had ties to a giant corporation like Halliburton, which suddenly went from the 37th largest supplier to the U.S. government to the 7th largest in mere months, without any bidding process, then began over-charging for various things, the Republicans would go nuts. It's not really an issue, to me, about what kind of company Halliburton is, but how the Republicans believe it's their right to give out government contracts to friends. This is called war profiteering, and it was seriously looked down upon during WWII -- that's how Harry Truman became known, as the head of the Senate sub-committee on war profiteering. But it's still nice to know that Halliburton's subsidiary is doing a good job for the soldiers so that they're not stuck with just MREs.

So, when the hell are you coming home?

Josh

Name: Reggie
E-mail:

Hey Josh,

A couple questions for you:

1) What was it about the direction of Linklater's TAPE that you think sucked so bad?

2) If you have two characters sitting across a table from eachother, and you're cutting directly from a close-up of one character to a close-up of another, how the hell are you not "crossing the line"?

Thanks,
Reggie

Dear Reggie:

Easy, the line is right down the middle of their heads. As long as one person is looking right to left, and the other left to right, you haven't crossed the line. But if they're both looking the same way, you have crossed the line. So, that's one of the constant screw-ups Linklater is making in "Tape," and, for the most part, it's simply too haphazardly shot for my tastes. Just because you're in one room doesn't mean you can't plan your shots and create interesting montage. Watch "Who's Afraid of Virgina Woolf" or "Glengarry Glen Ross."

Josh

Name: Dale Richardson
E-mail: dsrichardson@firstam.com

Josh,

Pardon the lack of clarity earlier: As the thieves were fleeing it seemed rather improbable that they would actually get away. Carl was not running that fast at any point, all the pursuers had firearms anyone that thinks they can outrun a pursuing car by running down the street right in front of it is crazy. I know there are several posible explanations for the success of the getaway, but nothing is really shown on the screen to explain the lack of some close pursuit. When Carl is running from the car the only way it wouldn't have caught up with him is if it was not really part of the pursuit. We see that he is in the open, in plain sight, why was he not run down?

Mind you, this is my one-gimme scene in an otherwise excellent story. Just curious to know if you'd ever thought about this.

Thanks,

Dale

Dear Dale:

Ultimately, it just my mistake. I wanted to see the car in the background and it shouldn't have been there. We shouldn't have seen the car until he was behind the dumpster. I deduced, in a stupid sort of way, that without seeing the car we wouldn't know what he was running from.

Josh

Name: Dale Richardson
E-mail: dsrichardson@firstam.com

Josh,

Would you care to share your thoughts on a scene from Running Time? Specifically the flight of the Theives from the laundry. I consider this to be the weakest part of the film, and am curious to know your thoughts on it. I understand the continuous shot structure of the film probably tied your hands a bit as far as story-telling. Was this a case of compromising both demands to get the results that worked the best?

The commentary track answered my similar question about the tire-changing scene, btw. :)

Thanks,

Dale

Dear Dale:

I'm not sure what you're asking. What's the issue about the flight of thieves? And which part of the flight?

Josh

Name: Aaron
E-mail: agraham83@hotmail.com

Dear Josh -

Short, quick question:
Is it perfectly acceptable to create a location for a screenplay, or do you find it better to place it in an actual named location?
My problem lies in wanting to place my story in a southwestern town, but having not been in that area in my life, I don't know towns or counties in which to set it in (though I certainly know the atmosphere I'd like to capture).

I apologize if this is more or less a common sense question, but it's been puzzling to me and I hold your talent in scriptwriting with high regards in matters such as these.

PS: Were you able to check out HBO's new western series "Deadwood"? The pilot was directed by Walter Hill, although the writing left something to be desired.

Take care

Dear Aaron:

Set the story wherever you'd like, you certainly don't have to have actually been there. I wrote "Teddy Roosevelt in the Bad Lands" and I've never been to N. Dakota or the Badlands. I wrote "The Battle of Belleau Wood," and I've never been to Belleau Wood or the town of Chateau-Thierry. Use your imagination.

No, I didn't see "Deadwood," I watched the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony to see our homeboy Bob Seger get inducted, by Kid Rock, who was good. Also inducted were: Traffic, Prince, Jackson Browne, ZZ Top, and The Dells. Steve Winwood, singing "Dear Mr. Fantasy," sounded as good as ever. Seger's voice is down an octave and sounds a bit shot. Prince and ZZ Top were both in fine form. ZZ Top has been together for 35 years (which was undoubtedly the last time they shaved, although the drummer without the beard is named Beard). Anyway, I'm sure "Deadwood" will be on again and again, but I smell pointlessness.

Josh

Name: Debby
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

How do you feel about Hong Kong/marshall arts films? Likewise, what about boxing in movies: good to watch staged, or only the real thing?

Dear Debby:

I don't give a damn about martial arts movies, and most boxing in movies looks fake and stupid. I do like "Raging Bull" and "Rocky," and to a certain extent, "Rocky III," as well, but that's about it. Something like the fairly recent "Undisputed" was offensive to me as a boxing fan.

Josh

Name: john smith
E-mail: john@aol.com

Dear Josh:

You wrote this page in order for people to think you are smart and have a good knowledge on the subject. Unfortunately you succeeded in looking like a dumbass instead. Good job dude, everyone thinks you are a dumb mother fucker.

Dear John:

First of all, I don't know what you're referring to; second, do you really suppose "everyone" thinks I'm a dumb motherfucker, or are there possibly a few people, in say Asia or Africa, who might not think that? In fact, you don't even know if most people think I'm a dumb motherfucker. I think you're just guessing.

Josh

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

Josh,

The problem with Wilson as President was that he completely misunderstood the nature of the First World War. His impression was formed prior to the onset of the war when everyone believed that war could only last a few months. The war which began as an imperial war, because of the toll it took on the participants, quickly became a nationalist, idealistic war. An imperial war would have lent itself to Wilson's ideals far better than did a nationalist war. I think Roosevelt would have recognized the character of the war.

As you yourself have pointed out, Roosevelt was no war monger. He just believed in decisive action; do nothing or commit completely. He also would have recognized far earlier than Wilson that US interests lay with the Entente. Wilson nominally allowed both sides to trade equally, despite the fact that British control of the seas meant an inevitable conflict with Germany who couldn't allow Britain to resupply from the US with impunity.

One of the great appeals of history is wondering what might have happened. At any rate, Roosevelt was certainly the most colorful president we've ever had.

John

Dear John:

No matter what Wilson's understanding or intentions were, he kept us out of most of that war, which was the isolationist will of the people at the time. And due to that our losses were far lower than any other country involved. If you're going to fight a war, the less losses the better, I say. As Patton said, "The point isn't to die for your country, it's to make the other poor, dumb son of a bitch die for his country." The U.S. had less battlefield deaths in WWI than in Vietnam, although even more soldiers died of the flu during WWI than from bullets. As a little war trivia, during the Spanish-American War more U.S. soldiers were killed by eating their own mistakenly poisoned canned rations (from Hormel) than from Spanish bullets.

Josh

Name: Scott Bennett
E-mail: sbennett@mayfairsystems.com

Dear Josh:

Any chance of Hammer being released on DVD? I'm sure someone has asked you this before, but I could get through all your pages of questions.

Dear Scott:

If I could actually ever get the film released it would be on both video and DVD, but if I'm just selling it myself here on the website, having DVDs made is too big of an expense and a pain, at this time.

Josh

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

Josh,

I always liked "Wind and the Lion". TR was an intelligent guy who could make a move for a number of seemingly contradictory reasons. He was a man of principle who never wandered too far from "real politik". I thought Keith did a really good job portraying him.

I think that often when directors depict TR their research is limited to the cartoon caricatures so often put into history books. Strong-willed people lend themselves to caricatures and often their assessment suffers popularly as a result. TR was considered so problematic for his own party that they made him Vice President just to get rid of him. It's a shame that he said in that speech that he would not seek re-election. In today's climate nobody would have much cared had he changed his mind but that pledge was a serious issue when he went "Bull Moose". That, by the way, is the best name for a political organization of all time.

John

Dear John:

TR served nearly two full terms, most of McKinnley's second term, and the election he won, by a landslide. That's enough. I'm glad Woodrow Wilson was president for WWI, he kept us out of it as long as humanly possible. TR would have jumped in the first thing, and we would have lost a lot more men, with probably the same result.

Josh

Name: Aaron
E-mail: agraham83@hotmail.com

Hey Josh-

I'm curious on how much research you give towards your screenplays based on history, like your one on Teddy Roosevelt.

Do you dive deep into biographies and history books to come up with a basic storyline, then dramatize those particular scenes? Or am I way off?

I'm researching for a proposed screenplay about the later years of Pat Garrett, and any advice or methods would be greatly appreciated.

Take care,
Aaron

PS: what did you think of John Milius's "Rough Riders" TV film?

Dear Aaron:

I thought Milius's film was complete bullshit. He made TR out to be a bumbling moron, whereas he may well have been the smartest president we've ever had. As for my script, I read everything I could get my hands on about TR's young life, particularly "The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt" by Edmund Morris and "Mornings on Horseback" by David McCullough. The script is 90% factual, although the fight at the end is pure fiction, but that's what inspired me to write the script -- in reality it's a terrific story without an ending, so I added what I felt was the appropriate ending. The only depiction of TR I've ever seen that seemed accurate was Brian Keith in "The Wind and the Lion," oddly also directed and written by John Milius.

Josh

Name: Jennifer Poulos
E-mail: writermage@hotmail.com

Dear Mr. Becker:

Before I go on, I feel it necessary to mention that I have written to Mr. Bruce Campbell on a topic within this comment once before. I mention this now only because I don't want either you or Mr. Campbell to think I am in any way writing to you because of your connection to him. The truth is, I have far different reasons for mentioning this to you than I did when contacting Mr. Campbell. I doubt he even will remember, but the above disclaimer is in case he does.

From Mr. Campbell's website, I came upon yours, which has happened before, but not since you updated it. At least, I had never noticed essays on it before. Today I did, and I'm always up for a good essay. I mean, I've read all of Bruce's. I like his style of writing. I also read your journal of the filming of "The Book of the Dead," as included in one of my many editions of the first movie. So when I saw you had essays on your website, I hearkened back to the writing in that journal and could not resist (as an extreme stickler for the English language, I take good writing very seriously).

Especially when I saw the words "essay/rant" under a title with the word "religion" in it. This is my favorite soapbox.

I must say, I was blown away. It's refreshing to see that there is someone else who relates strongly with my own views on the topic of religion. Although, I've written slightly more on the topic - about 500 pages; a novel, and pieces of sequels to said novel of religious satire, starring characters from all over world pantheons. (That's the part Mr. Campbell may or may not remember. Also, yes, of course I'm mentioning this because I would love for you to say, "Hey, that sounds interesting, let me give it a read," but I don't expect you to. It's not my primary motivation for mentioning it. The primary motivation is...:)

Obviously, having done so much writing on the subject, and only taking time of because I'm in the process of expanding my research, I feel pretty strongly about the topic too. And pretty much the same way you do. Thanks for having a clear head in this world of religious chaos. I think I achieved supreme religious clarity once I realized what you so eloquently "ranted" about in your essay. PLEASE don't stop writing - you're good at it.

Sincerely,
Jennifer Poulos

I make no excuses for the number of words it took to say that. I'm a novelist, not a short story writer.

Dear Jennifer:

You took so long getting to the point I was afraid you were going to rip me a new asshole, so it was very nice to find that you agree with my point of view. Read some other essays, like my 99-cent one.

Josh

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

Josh,

You said in a post, "They make great insulation, bird cage liners, or you can keep them beside the fireplace and use them to start fires. If you roll them up they're pretty good for swatting bugs. Actually, you need to try and get an agent. Don't just send a script blindly, though, query first. Good luck."

That was funny and reminiscent of a quote on Bruce's site that I read a long time ago about wallpapering your bathroom with an original script for Evil Dead 4.

In any case, you say query first. How about production companies? Should a person send query letters to only agents, or to companies as well, and any other director or actor they are lucky enough to have contact info for?

Does a query letter have specific info for the script or is it just a request for general submission requirements?

Thanks.

Ben

Dear Ben:

As with everything in the film business, there are no chiseled-in-granite rules, but like everything else, if you're going to send a query letter to anyone you ought to be dazzling. But the accepted route is to get an agent, then have the agent submit the script to production companies.

Josh

Name: Trey
E-mail: treydix@hotmail.com

Hi, Josh. Do directors have business cards? I'm planning to attend a film festival in a few weeks and hope to befriend a few likeminded souls. Though I make extremely low-budget videos in which I play the role of producer, writer, director, editor, etc., I'm assuming it would be more effective and less amateurish to choose just one "title" when representing myself professionally.

Business cards seem like a practical way to stay in touch with new acquaintances, but I'm not sure what to write on mine other than my name, phone number and e-mail address. Any suggestions regarding what the card should state without sounding too pretentious? "John Doe, Director" just seems kind of dopey. Thanks so much.

Dear Trey:

My cards say the name of my company, Panoramic Pictures, have my name, address, phone number, and email address. They don't say what I do, but obviously it must have something to do with films.

Josh

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

Josh,

That's a great story about John Cameron and the extras. Now that's what I call dialogue!

Regarding Cuba, how can you sy the sanctions haven't worked? If we hadn't had those sanctions in place Miami would be swarming with Cubans! Oh..., yeah. The really funny bit is that the exiled Cubans are now the driving force behind the continuation of the sanctions. I'm not saying Castro is a saint, but given the "concessions" won by American companies (as a result of armed invasion and occupation) nationalization seems like a reasonable response, there as elsewhere.

Salvadore Allende tried the same thing and was massacred in a CIA sponsored military coup. Mussadiq in Iran was ousted and very nearly killed, despite the fact that he was an elected official of a US ally, and in his place the dictatorship of the Shah was installed. Oddly, it was Stewart Copeland's father (Stewart being the former drummer for The Police) who engineered the Mussadiq Affair. He was a founding member of the CIA and used to brag about bringing down governments.

I wish someone in government would have the balls to own up to the foolishness of our Cuba policy and reestablish ties. It probably won't happen until Castro dies. He's close to eighty now so that might not be too far away. We should try to normalize relations before then, however, so as to minimize the risk of a Haiti-like slide in anarchy. All of those islands should be raking in the tourism dollars, especially with many Americans nervous about traveling to Europe. Give those people a reasonable chance at a decent life and you'll get stable government.

Go Sugar-Growers Association!

John

Dear John:

And our whole stated rationale for treating Cuba like lepers for over 40 years is that they're communists. Yet, look at our relationship with red China. If there's a lot of money to made we don't care at all if someone's a communist. Much of what was nationalized in Cuba was owned by the American mafia, and Castro wasn't going to let that continue, and rightly so. His point was that they didn't fight a revolution to go back to being the Americans' busboys and waitresses, and I think he was right about that, too. As a little side-note, Castro had a bronze statue of John Lennon erected in a Havana park, even though he had banned The Beatles' music throughout the '60s as capitalist dogma. When asked about his change of perspective, Castro replied, "I was wrong." Can you imagine GW Bush ever saying that?

Josh

Name: Blake Eckard
E-mail:

Josh,

I recently saw "JFK" for the first time. The director's cut on DVD. I was really surprised. For 200 minutes I was totally enthralled. Truly the best film I've seen in ages, even though Stone certainly took many liberties with the facts. (I absoluetly loved the cast...Tommy Lee Jones, John Candy Kevin Bacon, Donald Sutherland and Joe Pesci all in absolute top form. Even Costner was bearable...I can't get Ed Asner as Guy Bannister out of my
mind). Remembered "Nixon," which I saw in the theater but not since.
Rented it and found it to be very good too. (Anthony Hopkins was a terrifically unusual bit of casting, as was Bob Hoskins). It really reminded me of what a strong force Oliver Stone was from 1986 to 1996. But then, as you've written about, his lifespan of creativity seems to just stop. I found both "U Turn," and "Any Given Sunday," to be flat out terrible. I missed his HBO documentary on Castro, but it did look interesting.

Also saw the new and "improved" version of Apocalypse Now. I was so bored and found the film to be so self indulgent I'm amazed Coppola has all but turned his back on the original version, saying that the Redux cut is his "final cut." Stupid. If ever there was a problem with the 1979 version it was maybe being 10 minutes too long! AHHH!

Have a good one.

Blake

Dear Blake:

I completely agree with you about "Apocalypse Now Redux," it's not nearly as good as the original, shorter version. The redux version is what I saw at the very first screening of the film in 1979, although even a a bit longer still, and I was stupified with boredom and told Coppola so on the questionaire. I guess everyone else must have said about the same thing because he cut over an hour out of it for it's general release. Meanwhile, I once agree with you about JFK, which I think is a pretty damn good movie, and the best use of intercutting color and B&W ever. And yes, what a great cast. Stand-outs, I think, are Gary Oldman as Lee Harvey Oswald, John Candy, Kevin Bacon, and Brian Doyle Murray as Jack Ruby. The only thing I object to in that film is the whole, tired subplot of his wife, Sissey Spacek, bitching all the time that he ignores her and the kids. If I never encounter that dynamic in a story again it will be too soon. I must disagree about "Nixon," however. I think Hopkins is severely and fatally miscast, and it undermines the whole film. I never for one single second believed Hopkins was Nixon. It's also WAY too long. Paul Sorvino made a great Kissinger, though.

Josh

Name: Scott
E-mail:

Josh,

I remember hearing about Alien Apocolypse/Humans In Chains Project a while ago, and was wondering if you always had Bruce in mind to star? I was also wondering if you were going to rely on CGI or practical FX? I personally loathe how most filmmakers utilize CG. It seems as if CG is now used as a method of compromise for lazy filmmakers to do things quicker and cheaper. Anyway, as a fan I hope you don't go down this road, but I understand how daunting an 18 day shooting schedule can be. Nevertheless, I wish you the best of luck, and I can't wait to see the film.

Dear Scott:

It will be a mixture of CGI and practical FX, but mainly CGI. There really isn't any other decent way to go. Guys in suits always look like crap, and CGI will actually work better for this than stop-motion would have. The design for the aliens is going quite well, and I think they should be cool.

Josh

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

Hey josh,

Wondering if you got a chance to check out Bruce Campbell in Bubba-Ho-Tep (based on the story by Joe Lansdale)? For my money its one of the better short stories I've read in my life and I've read a few.

It'll be interesting to see how it turned out visually, since I think making a film whereby 90% percent of it is INT old folks house scenes sounds daunting.

Anyway, Lansdale is probably the best american writer going, certainly the most under-appreciated, and the characterizations in Bubba-ho-tep display a real sincere and honest look at the elderly, which is refreshing.

joe

Dear joe:

I enjoyed it, and I thought Bruce and Ossie Davis were terrific. I think Bruce deserved the Best Actor Oscar more than Sean Penn. Story-wise, I think it falls apart in Act III, but the first two acts were good.

Josh

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

Josh,

How did this deal at SciFi come up? Do you, or an agent, continually shop around your scripts? I haven't read any of the scripts on the site, but I gather that at least some of them (and a lot of your treatments) are kind of "in the past" works. Not only literally, but also in the sense that you would do things differently if you wrote them today.

When they were interested, did you dust it off and tighten it up, or was it in good condition? Or was that story already in the forefront of your mind?

I suppose it could be totally different for you, but for us, we observe the progression of your films, wonder what you're next project will be, and then it turns out to be HIC. Were you as surprised as I was that that was the one?

Ben

Dear Ben:

I presently don't have writer or director's agent, just sales agents. These sales agents, whom Bruce is signed with, too, were trying to set up a deal for Bruce at Sci-Fi, so I decided to hop aboard that train and sent them my one sci-fi script, "Humans in Chains," as is, no rewrite (although I must add that I had rewritten it a few times back when I originally wrote it, and I was pretty pleased with it). Slow dissolve to two years dribbling by, then a couple of months ago Sci-Fi brought in a new executive producer, and kapow! It hasn't stopped moving forward since then. Although there are plenty of my old scripts and treatments I don't care for, there are also plenty that I still do like, and "Humans" was one of those. I had put a lot of thought and work into it, and I always believed that it was a good story and solid script, and a good part for Bruce.

Josh

Name: Campbell
E-mail:

Hey Josh

Wow! You've been busy. That's what I get for not visiting your site in 'I don't know HOW long'. Anyway, I was reading over your article, 'The Misuse of Presidential Power' and you hit the nail on the head! It's amazing how blind people are to what is actually going on. At the risk of sounding like a conspiracy theorist, there's a declassified, Top Secret file out now called the 'Northwood's Document' and the stuff the government was up to 42 years ago is absolutely mind blowing! It's so amazing that I can't even believe they declassified it for anyone to get their hands on. In a nutshell; as a pretext to invade Cuba, the government was planning attack American targets (i.e. blow up commercial airliners with American civilians on board; send in troop's disguised as Cubans to attack Guantanamo Bay, attack our own ships, etc.) and blame it all on the Cubans. If you want to read it for yourself, here's a link to download it. http://www.infowars.com/saved%20pages/northwoods.pdf Obviously, they didn't go through with it but the fact that they were planning it makes one wonder, .WHAT exactly HAVE they go through with (since then) that we're not being told about? Incidentally, it's pretty well documented (and amazingly available to anyone willing to research it), that the government KNEW about the impending attack on Pearl Harbor and purposely did nothing to prevent it; knowing full well that it would give us a 'justifiable pretext' for entering the war. Frightening .absolutely frightening. I'm not trying to bad mouth America but we need to start waking up to who's really running the country and what their true intentions are. Oh, and before I forget. 9 months ago someone here managed to pull a huge prank on a LIVE news broadcast (that I think you would have gotten a huge kick out of). During the weather report, somebody managed to change the graphics and announce that the president was a "professional fascist". Here's a link if you want to check it out. It's half way down the page.
http://www.scoop.co.nz/mason/stories/HL0306/S00146.htm
How they got away with it I'll never know. On a different note, I'm pleased about your recent success with the Sci Fi network. I look forward to seeing where it all goes. Anyway, just thought I'd check in and see how you were doing. Next time, I'll try not to wait a few years before checking in again and saying 'Hi'. Take care.

-Campbell (former bad guy)

Dear Campbell:

Good to hear from you. Not only did the U.S. government know there was an impending attack on Pearl Harbor (or, let's say, somewhere in the U.S., except that Pearl Harbor was certainly the closest military installation to Japan), but the Japanese ambassador was attempting to get in and see the Secretary of State or the president and officially declare war before the attack, and nobody would see the guy. He was left sitting in a waiting room for two days, and never was allowed in. Of course, had they seen the Japanese ambassador then it wouldn't have been a sneak attack. What boggles me still is that the entire Japanese navy was able to make it across the the Pacific Ocean to Hawaii without being spotted by any air reconnaissance. Those naval schmucks at Pearl Harbor clearly had their thumbs up their asses, and the commander was subsequently court-martialed. But he was a scapegoat for the schmucks in Washington.

Moving forward to the early 1960s, the U.S. had such a bug up their butts about Cuba and Castro it was ridiculous. This was entirely based on Castro nationalizing all of the American industries in Cuba, and we've never let up on our sanctions and ill-will since then. Just to bait my conservative, right-wing father, I said that Fidel Castro might possibly be greatest man of the past 50 years, certainly greater than any of the ten U.S. presidents he's outlasted, and my good old dad nearly blew a gasket. But Fidel was the inspiration for at least 50 other countries around the world to stage revolutions and throw out their foreign oppressors, which is a much bigger deal than anything the U.S.A. has done in 50 years. That Fidel is still thumbing his nose at us 44 years later is, in my opinion, very impressive.

Moving forward to the present, the GW Bush administration is probably the most corrupt in U.S. history. Everything they do is for an ulterior motive. Haliburton, has gone from the 37th largest civilian contractor supplying the U.S. government, before Bush, to now being the 7th largest supplier. They have already overcharged us by tens of millions of dollars for their services, possibly hundreds of millions, but no charges are ever brought. Bush says he's made America safer, yet more American soldiers have died under his watch than the five previous presidents put together. More than 10,000 humans, both U.S. and Iraqi, have lost their lives in the past year in Iraq, and none of these deaths have anything to do with terrorism. This whole war was entirely based on Bush's pre-election agenda, and has nothing to do with 9/11, other than as an excuse to go to war. And now Iraq is a melting pot for terrorists from around the world. The war in Iraq has increased terrorism, has put us far more at risk, has alienated us from at least half the countries in the world, and is the single worst foreign policy decision made in America in 228 years.

That's what I think.

Josh

Name: Dale Richardson
E-mail: dsrichardson@firstam.com

Josh,

Thanks for the site, and for your thoughts and opinions. It's been quite an eye-opener for me. Watching movies growing up in the late 70's and 80's I must say that I was pretty well lulled into the clone mentality as far as the difference between a good movie and crap.

Thanks for signing If I Had a Hammer, that was a pleasant suprise. Good movie IMO, your best so far.

Any chance of some of your older movie reviews being put up? In reading the archive I saw that you reviewed Starship Troopers. That was one of my favorite books when I was younger, and I am curious to read your thoughts on the movie.

Thanks,

Dale

Dear Dale:

The review of "Starship Troopers" is posted, it's under "Video Round-Up Summer 1998." I'm very pleased you enjoyed "Hammer," and bought it.

Josh

Name: Debby
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

What do you think of David Mamet, as both a writer and a filmmaker?

Dear Debby:

Mamet was an interesting playwright in the 1970s, and I enjoyed his first two books of essays, too, but he has long since worn out his welcome. His prose is now verbose to the point of being unreadable, and he's an unexceptional screenwriter, and an even less interesting director. His book on film direction is nonsense.

Josh


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