Q & A    Archive
Page 123

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

Dear Josh:

<<And, just as a note, "Rocky 2" sucked.>>
true, but Rocky 5 goes lower with the rap music. I especially hate the part (R2) where they dress him up as a caveman and make him read cue cards. It made me want to see Apollo Creed get his ass kicked though. by the way, what the hell happened to Rocky's eyesight problem in the other films? I mean, Mr. T probably should've knocked his other eye out. Also, I just saw a special on THE WEAVERS and PETER, PAUL, and MARY last night on PBS. Maybe they'll replay it sometime. They played several songs from your movie (I noticed the WEAVERS looked mysteriously like the Four Feathers in one photograph... I think, I walked in the middle of it, heard the music, saw the photo, then it starts talking about the WEAVERS. That special just made the movie even funnier. P,P, & M sang a song for their PBS telethon (hey donate $300, get a dvd copy of the special, plus a new cd set)... mary got fat. she looks like a wiccan. but she still sings good. say, how much do you think it would cost to show HAMMER on PBS? Think about it:
Masterpiece Theater presents: IF I HAD A HAMMER.
So where did you film the scenes where they're walking down the streets besides the stores, how'd it look to the general public walking by?
Did you just rent out a bunch of empty buildings and restaurants. If you rent out a restaurant for filming, how much do you usually pay? like say, you have to pay them for the amount of business they usually get for the amount of time they're closed?... or did you just go cheap and use the same building(s) made up several different ways (like the record shop could've been the restaurant and vice versa...or snag a shot of Phil and Lorraine at a table in the political action building. How do you save money on location, is it cheaper to rent several places or just one?

Dear kdn:

We shot "If I Had a Hammer" in the north-eastern part of the San Fernando Valley, in Sunland and Tujunga (as a minor little note, "Reservoir Dogs" was shot in Sunland). Anyway, my producer, Jane, and I found a block of storefronts, on a side street, where almost all of them were out of business. So we rented one storefront in the middle, then dressed the whole block. The music store is actually a music store there -- I mean, look at all those props, that would be hard to fake. The club is actually a playhouse directly across the street from the storefronts. And we rented a vacant hardware store around the block and built the club interior inside. A rather difficult thing to do was to shoot all of that moving car stuff without seeing the modern world all around. Jane and I found a street that ran along the LA river basin that did the trick. We rented Phil's house from a location rental agency. I think The Weavers were wonderful, and, as you probably noticed, I dedicated the movie to them, and to Leadbelly, too. Meanwhile, you can't just pay PBS to show your film.

Josh

Name: Nate
E-mail: vlad1377@aol.com

Mr. Becker,

I don't know if you have seen this yet, but it looks like a great"movement", of sorts.
http://www.moveonpac.org/vfc/
There are a lot of really good artists involved.
Nate

Dear Nate:

Yes, I have heard of MoveOn.org, and have been to their site a few times. I watched all of the posted anti-Bush commercials they sponsored. I even discussed making one with the former webmaster of this site. It would have been a "South Park"-style animated spot with a commercial jet angling down toward the ground, then we see that the pilot is George W. Bush and the co-pilot is Condoleeza Rice, both are dead asleep and drooling, then we see the jet is headed straight for the World Trade Centers, and BOOM! It all blows up.

Josh

Name: Jonathan Moody
E-mail: jondoe_555@yahoo.com

Dear Josh:

What do you think of Hal Hartley and his movies? I've recently become a really big fan of his stuff. Especially, "Surving Desire" which is only an hour long. I think Hal can write real well and if you haven't yet you should check out his flicks. I would have to say so that the first time I saw, "No Such Thing" his latest film, I hated it. It was just boring but that was a couple years ago and my tastes have changed. I think sometime soon I might give it a try.

Your fan,

Jonathan

Dear Jonathan:

I saw one of his films at the theater, whose title I can't recall ("Good Men," "Real Men," something like that), and I just hated it. Dull, pretentious, pointless, and loaded with posing.

Josh

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

Josh,

As for "The Exorcist", I can say from a Catholic perspective (more or less) that it's a great source of pride. When Satan shows up at your doorstep, nobody calls in a Lutheran! Somebody, by the way, is making a "prequel" to "The Exorcist", or has made it. As much as you hate sequels I hate "prequels" even more. There have been decent sequels (though not many). All "prequels" suck to high heaven.

I finally got to finish "Head Shot". Of all of your scripts I have read I think this is the most visually complete for me; I feel more like I saw the movie than read the script. I think I'd put "Cycles" second, by the way. "Head Shot" is an excellent example of the Three-act structure and the value that structure provides. Like the best conspiracy stories, "Head Shot" makes a plausible case for itself using available, or seemingly available, evidence. At no point is the reader asked to make a leap of faith and that's quite good in a story of this nature. As I say, I really feel more like I've seen the movie than read the script.

I note that, in a story we've all heard in some form countless times, your version holds one's attention. You could almost hear the clock ticking. Oddly, I picture Jack lemmon as Ruby (I think he'd have done a great job) but, alas, that is not to be. Still, I was very impressed. Great pacing, great build, suspense when you already know the outcome; that ain't bad stuff.

John

PS Of course, Karl Urban was Cupid, not Eros who was Cupid's child, I think. Urban was really the best thing in "Supremacy". It's good to know he's a decent guy. I think a lot of people are following the alumni of the XWP/HLJ series. After all, it's not like we can go out and watch a good movie.

Dear John:

Jack Lemmon as Jack Ruby? I must say I thought Brian Doyle Murray was a very good choice in "JFK." Danny Aielo seemed too intelligent in "Ruby," although he's a wonderful actor. I'm so pleased you liked the script. No other explanation makes as much sense to me. As for sequels over prequels, well, it's six of one, half dozen of the other. They're both whore's movies, as are remakes.

Josh

Name: Greene
E-mail: greenebrett@spymac.com

Josh

I saw a film last night that kind of rattled my cage. I've come to expect you might not like it :) but I thought I'd throw it out there. Gus Van Sant's Elepant is a great little indie flick about events surrounding a high school shooting - some good work done my amateur actors and wonderful cinematography. Overall, I liked it because of it's ease with the actors, the lack of plot and just how damn good the thing looks.
I also recommend Das Experiment which is about the Stanford Prison Experiment.

And another thing: who are some actors you'd like to have worked with or want to work with in the future? Same for directors.

Dear Greene:

I'll keep my eyes peeled for "Elephant," it sounds interesting, although I must add that Gus Van Sant's career has been an enormous disappointment to me. I really, really like "Drugstore Cowboy," and I think Gus shot his entire wad with the one film.

Meanwhile, I've got a slew of favorite actors, but it's not that I necessarily want to work with them. I'm a movie fan. I don't watch films thinking, "I'd like to work with this costume designer, or this actor." The only actors who I'm really interested in working with at this time are Bruce Campbell and Ted Raimi.

Josh

Name: Michael Birch
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

The Exorcist is a great horror film and all but one thing has bothered me about it: How exactly was Reagan possessed? Was it through the artifact or through the ouiji board, and was "Captain Howdy" Pazuzu?
Possibly Pazuzu had a connection to the artifact and the ouiji board allowed him to enter our world and posing as Captain Howdy allowed him to gain Reagan's trust and thus possess her.

Dear Michael:

If you're curious enough, maybe you should read the book. I read it when it came out, in 1972 when I was 14, and I liked it a lot. I thought the movie did it justice, which doesn't often happen when books become movies. Not being a Catholic, though, I find all religious stuff pretty silly.

Josh

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

Josh,

I do agree with your rant on "The Girl with the Pearl Earring".

As far as Scarlett Johansen goes, I do believe she is rather pretty and she has beautiful lips. Maybe I am attracted to dopey looking chics. So be it.

Her beauty is similar to the model Laetitia Casta's with whom I have had the privilege of working with a few times.

Even though Scarlett Johansen is not French or first generation European etc..., she has that natural look that maybe attractive to some, but not others such as yourself.

I do believe she was much more attractive in "Lost in Translation" than in "Girl with the Pearl Earring", however, I don't think she is a very good actress and she is one dimensional.

You believe Lucy Lawless is a attractive, but she has never done it for me. Just a matter of taste

As for the your rant on the "Girl with the Pearl Earring". It is just a good case of a film where the Cinematography can't save the film no matter how well it looks.

I believe the script in a film is very much like music in a song.

Peter Gabriel once said that "There are many great songs with excellent music, but awful lyrics, however, the reverse is rarely true when it comes to pop music.,

I believe a good film script is much like good music in a song. If it doesn't hold together, no matter what you do, the piece will suffer.

Scott

Dear Scott:

Man, you should have seen Lucy on "Hercules and the Amazon Women" in 1993, in that leather amazon outfit, and she was blonde then, too! I shiver thinking about it. She's also married to my friend, Rob, so I'll knock off this line of thinking.

And if I was going to go for a stupid-looking chicks I'd go for Jessica Simpson or Paris Hilton before Scarlett Johansen. But honestly isn't their stupidness is a big turn-off? I think so.

I just watched "Fog of War" last night and Robert MacNamara made a very valid comment about war. He was referring to Vietnam, but it's perfectly applicable to Iraq. He said that you never go to war unilaterally. If you can't convince your own allies, people with similar values and beliefs, to go to war with you, it's a bad idea and you shouldn't do it. Anyway, it was an interesting film.

Josh

Name: Mike
E-mail:

Hi Josh,

A couple of things. Firstly, I wanted to pick up on the "favorite scene" thread. One that always sticks in my mind is from The Seven Samurai, when the super competent Kyuzo is killed. Up until that point he seems like a completely invinicible, but unassuming and humble, bad-ass. To see him shot by a rifle and slowly go face down into a puddle of mud is very poignant on a number of levels - it's technology trumping talent, the death of an old and honorable school of combat at the hands of a less face-to-face enemy. And it highlights the mortality of even those who seem above death. Actually, that whole final battle scene4 was remarkable.

Anyway, secondly, I read and thoroughly enjoyed "Headshot". It touches on a number of angles people seem to gloss over - the mob connections, Joe Kennedy being an amoral, power hungry bastard, and the possibility of foreign operatives being involved. It beat "JFK" hands down, which was nothing but 3 hours of stilted and occasionally historically innacurate exposition. Hats off to you! How much of the story was based on research, and how much was dramatic license? What sources did you use for research?

That's it for now. Very much looking forward to Alien Apocalypse!

Fight the good fight,

Mike

Dear Mike:

I did a ton of research for "Head Shot," didn't it seem like it? To make that timeline work was very difficult, and I don't think anyone else has done it. Meanwhile, I really like "JFK," even if I don't agree with it. I still think it's the best use of intercutting color and black & white, the cast is astounding, and Gary Oldman made a great Oswald. Anyway, I'm very pleased you enjoyed the script, you're the first person to read it and it's been up for about three months. I thought it would lead to some discussion.

As for favorite scenes, that one in "Seven Samurai" is a terrific choice. Both sad and moving, and very unexpected. But how about instead of classic scenes, weird scenes, which could still be from classic films, but not the famous scenes. For instance, I love the sequence in "Lawrence of Arabia" at the beginning when the Arab guide, Tafas, is leading Lawrence to Feisal. They stop for the night, under a huge canopy of stars, and Tafas asks (I'm doing this from memory) . . .

Tafas: Truly, you are a British officer? From Cairo? You rode here from Cairo?
Lawrence: My God no, I took a boat, it's 800 miles.
Tafas: And you are from Britain? Truly?
Lawrence: Oxfordshire.
Tafas: Britain, it is a desert country?
Lawrence: No, it's a fat country. Full of fat people.
Tafas: You are not fat.
Lawrence: No, I'm different.

Josh

Name: Greene
E-mail: greenebrett@spymac.

Josh

Two questions for you. Your film Running Time deals with (a) one long shot and (2) the concept of real time. What do you think of the Johnny Depp film Nick of Time (some fine camera work in long shots) and the television show "24" starring Kiefer Sutherland?

Question 2 - How do you like The Daily Show with Jon Stewart?

Dear Greene:

I didn't sit all the way through "Nick of Time," but it's cutting so it's not real time. Everytime you cut you can expand or contract time. To be in real time you cannot cut. The same thing goes for "24." Meanwhile, I like The Daily Show and I think Jon Stewart is pretty funny.

Josh

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

Howdy Josh.

I'm dropping you a line to get your opinion on the new season of Reak Time w/ Bill Maher. I thought Michael Moore was a good guest on paper, but he ended up being pretty lousy. Brash, loud, closed-minded, and of course divisive. The Republican guy couldn't get a word in edgewise between Moore and the self-righteous Canadian lady. The audience members would start moaning and groaning before he could even finish a sentence. There was no healthy debate there. It was very Orwellian, like a 30 minute hate session. I agree with many analysts view of Michael Moore, that he serves as sort of a rock star for the Democratic party, speaking from their hearts and souls, while clearly not the most educated among them and seemingly incapable of critical thinking. His views seem to come from a purely emotional place, much like many women I know. It seems even Bill Maher was getting annoyed with Moore's effect on his audience. I know you're a fan of the show, so I just wanted to read your thoughts.

Your friend,
Bird

Dear Bird:

It always seems to take Bill a few shows to get back in the swing of things. I didn't laugh once at this episode, so I think it was a failure. The Republican guy was an idiot, though. Trying to defend Bush is a really thankless cause, I admit, but to try and rationalize Bush's petrified immobility in front of that class on 9/11 as rational is beyond belief. This utter horseshit that he didn't want to upset the class is insane, and anyone that accepts that explanation is mentally deficient. Bush was scared to the point of turning into a pillar of salt. He may be the least qualified person to run this country of all 300,000,000 of us. At least Micheal Moore has a point of view and the balls to state it.

Josh

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

Josh,

The "Girl with the Pearl Earring" is very much one of those gray area films. I went to see it in the theater with a good friend who sees a lot of films as well.

He is generally more forgiving than I am with most films, but we have similar tastes to some degree.

The funny thing is when we left the theater we both said "Wow, that was shot really well" and that is all we really had to say about the film. The script was paper thin and the characters were truly uninspiring. You forgot to mention how annoying Vermeer's wife was in just about every scene.

I thought maybe they wanted to treat the film like a painting? They accomplised that with the Cinematography, but it is a motion picture and not a painting, so a story is in order and characters that actually did something other than walk in and out of door ways creating nice compositions.

Scarlett Johansen as pretty as she is, has to be one of the most boring actresses around today. It is almost like she her characters are on the verge of falling asleep. Maybe she should play a narcoleptic character in her next film?

Scott

Dear Scott:

Scarlett Johansen is pretty? She is a truly dopey-looking chick, and I don't think she's the slightest bit attractive. And yes, she does look like she's about to nod off all the time. And yes, Vermeer's wife was awful, and what's her big problem? How can she proclaim, upon seeing the painting, "It's obscene!" Is that because she's not wearing a bonnet, but a scarf instead? And why can't he paint two paintings at the same time? And what's the deal with the patron, Tim Wilkinson, and him wanting to keep the the girl with the pearl earring painting in his private closet? Is that to jerk off to? And why is the girl wearing the wife's pearl earrings such a big deal? I think it's very poorly written.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

On IF I HAD A HAMMER, it lists Sam Raimi, Ted Raimi, Robert Tapert in the special thanks credits, were they the backers? Also, did you have to buy the rights to the beatles song from Michael Jackson (I heard somewhere he bought all the rights to their music)? Oh yeah, Bruce had a funny bit in Spiderman 2 where he played a stuck-up british usher.... that's definately a role I've never seen him play before. I can't trash the movie though, the first one really sucked, this film was a masterpiece in comparison. It's not that good, its tries the ROCKY 2 route, making the hero suffer nonstop, over and over and over again (with comic timing this time) so it can guilt the audience into rooting for the lead... and it worked so well, I forgot how bad the first film was and bought it again... I feel like such a sucker. I'm not buying another movie again... (...okay, half a year) I think I'll trade my bad ones in and save my money. NORTH BY NORTHWEST is entertaining so far.

Dear kdn:

Yes, I suckered Sam, Rob and Ted into investing. No, Michael Jackson doesn't own The Beatles catalog anymore, he sold it to Sony to whom he owed a lot of money (Michael reneged on most of his last deal with them). And, just as a note, "Rocky 2" sucked.

Josh

Name: JohnnyO
E-mail:

Josh,

What are some of your favorite cult films? Here is a list of mine in no particular order:

Blue Velvet
Evil Dead
Drugstore Cowboy
Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!
Harold and Maude
This is Spinal Tap
Barbarella
Rocky Horror Picture Show
Rope
A Clockwork Orange
Nosferatu
Heathers
Pink Flamingos
Dawn of the Dead
Blood Simple
Reefer Madness
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
Rushmore
Touch of Evil
Dr. Strangelove
Easy Rider
Monty Python and the Holy Grail
Sid and Nancy
Night of the Living Dead
Scarface

Dear JohnnyO:

The term "Cult films" doesn't make any sense to me. Films like "A Clockwork Orange," "Scarface" and "Dr. Strangelove" are big studio films, what makes them cult?

Josh

Name: Greene
E-mail: greenebrett@spymac.com

Josh

Right, I'll get to the meat of a question - isnt it possible to like a shitty film or at least one you have problems with? For example, liked Fahrenheit 9/11 but found Moore's coverage of the Gore loss too sarcastic and over the top?

Dear Greene:

I think people spend way too much time trying to find what's amusing about shitty films, than appreciating what's incredible about good films. "Farenheit 9/11" isn't a great documentary by any means, nor even a really good one, either, but it's pretty good and it's timing is perfect. But other than its political content, there really isn't much to discuss, filmmaking-wise. For instance, I watched "Girl With a pearl Earring" last night, which my good friend had raved about, as well as several others, too. Well, it's interesting, and well-photographed, and nicely realized, but the script is thin, deadly thin, as far as I'm concerned. As opposed to characterization we get long, pouty, well-lit looks standing in doorways, or near windows. The character of Vermeer is barely one-dimensional, and the girl is a vapid dolt, which Scarlett Johansen was born to play. Is this a good movie? No. Is it a bad movie? No. It's that vast gray where all critical thinking lies.

Josh

Name: Greene
E-mail: greenebrett@spymac.com

Josh

I'll defend Unbreakable another day (for me, its positives outweight its negatives like Shyamalan's heavy handed script). What are some films of the last 15 years you DID like, and why?
I'll certainly nominate Goodfellas and Kill Bill as a whole (Uma's work is quite exciting after all).

Dear Greene:

I've got news for you, if the script sucks the movie sucks. Although I have yet to sit through more than five minutes of "Kill Bill," it seems like it could be the worst film ever made. Trying to find the good in films in the past fifteen years is like trying to pick the peanuts out of a pile of shit.

Josh

Name: Michael Birch
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

You've done some work for sci fi pictures. I'm looking to submit a script in the near future and was wondering whether the studio picked up a scripts by a newcommer?

Dear Michael:

Sorry, but you really need to find an agent first. Nobody in Hollywood is interested in unsolicited scripts.

Josh

Name: Michael Birch
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

As a director what's your view on "method acting" ?

Dear Michael:

Whatever an actor needs to do to get ready to play their part is fine with me. If they need to remember when their dog died, that's fine; if they need to run around the block, that's fine; if they need to be left alone, that's fine, too. As long as it doesn't slow me down, I don't care what their method is.

Josh

Name: Jamie
E-mail: jkleeds@sport.ie.net

Dear Josh:

Do you think there is a "wool over the eyes" phenonmenon when people see movies in a theatre? Is it possible to like a film better because of the experience and not the content of the flick? I find it something like this: you're in your seat, the decibels are loud and if you're in tune with that's happening, you're connected to the rest of the audience; this is of course lacking if you're at home. So it's possible to see a bad picture and like it because you had the wool pulled over your eyes. Comments? (I had an experience like this in the reverse - I got so distracted because of a projectionist when I saw Lost in Translation because the frame incorrectly showed a boom mike!)
So, better to see a movie at home or at the cinema? (Requiem for a Dream may work equally well anywhere!)

Dear Jamie:

"Requiem for a Dream" doesn't work at all in any venue. It is the definition of "hammered shit." There is a certainly a crowd/mob experience with a large audience, but I must say it's never meant much to me. Just because an audience is reacting will not change my opinion at all. I make my own opinions based on what I see and feel and think, and what everyone else is experiencing is up to them. But people at movie theaters act so consistantly like assholes that I prefer watching films at home.

Josh

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

Josh,

I saw "The Bourne Supremacy" yesterday. It's an okay story about misdirected identity, and had a few good performances, notably Karl Urban as the Russian assasin. Did you ever work with him? He played a variety of roles in the Xena/Hercules series, including Julius Caesar and Eros. He was also in the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy as "Eomer".

The camera work in the movie was horrible. Half of the scenes were intentionally out of focus and the other half was shaking all over the place. It was enough to drive you nuts. Otherwise it wasn't too bad. There's a recommendation for you.

I'm still working my way through "Headshot". I'll give an impression when I get through.

John

Dear John:

Yes, I worked with Karl Urban, he's a very nice guy. He didn't play Eros, he played Cupid, as well as Julius Caesar. I watched "The Bourne Identity" and the camera work is horrible. Aren't we past hand-holding the camera for entire films? It's such a giant cop-out I can't watch it. And Matt Damon does nothing for me. It's just one cliche on top of another on top of another.

Josh

Name: JohnnyO
E-mail:

Josh,

Do you ever watch the Independent Film channel? Are there any recent independent films you like? I think Running Time holds up pretty well. One of the best Indy films I've seen.

I just watched The Ice Storm last night. Man, I like that film. Then I watched Ordinary People, and American Beauty. What do you think of those films?

Dear JohnnyO:

I have a review of "American Beauty" you can read. I enjoyed "The Ice Storm," particularly all the ice storm effects, although the 1970s wife-swapping stuff was lame, and on some deep level I just don't give a shit about Tobey Maguire, who seems slightly retarded to me. "Ordinary People" is a pretty good film, although I'll always resent it for beating "Raging Bull" for Best Picture and for Robert Redford winning over Martin Scorsese.

Josh

Name: George Pilalidis
E-mail: agamemmnon@msn.com

Dear Josh, for me the best film music composer is Enio Moricone without question,and the best music was in (The good the bad and the ugly),the best Western movie of all times???or meby i'am wrong?hhmm i think we ask George Bush,bus,boom,boom arghh.George

Dear George:

Ennio Morricone is a great film composer, and possibly the most prolific film composer of all time. I think he's done at least 600 scores. And many of his scores sound very different from one another. But there's still Elmer Bernstein, don't forget, may he live to be 150.

Josh

Name: Greene
E-mail: greenebrett@spymac.com

Josh

Some directors, especially Stanley Kubrick, are thought of as visually oriented directors. In fact, most of Kubrick's films are stunning to look at (note Clockwork, Barry Lyndon and Eyes Wide Shut). It's my opinion that his obsessions sometimes quelched the atmosphere and emotion of the scenes he was working on. So my question is, in your opinion, what's more important: getting a good shot, or finding a good moment in a scene.
And, what is your favorite scene of all time? (Mine might be the Hero sequence in Unbreakable).

Dear Greene:

Your favorite scene of all time is in "Unbreakable"? That ridiculous piece of shit with Bruce Willis. I liked the whole question up until there. Great movies are the magic combination of the right shot with the right drama, emotion, blocking, etc. Kubrick made that work many times, like with the great low-angle shots of General Ripper (Sterling Hayden) in "Dr. Strangelove." Or the tracking shots down the trenches in "Paths of Glory." It's when your scene is worthy of a great shot, and you're smart enough to know what that shot is, and have the time and the money and the actors to get it.

Josh

Name: Sam Jorge
E-mail: biggiesean@canada.com

Josh

What did you think of Minority Report or Blade Runner? Interesting stories about the future of technology and the fallacies of humanity are expressed therein. :D

Dear sam:

I disliked both of them, particularly "Minority Report." "Blade Runner" is just a dumb detective story that makes no sense -- he would never have lived through his first fight with a replicant (the late Brion James), which should have just killed him. But there's no way he could live through his fight with Darryl Hannah, where she basically twists his head off. Then he still has to fight Rutger Hauer. It's silly. "Minority Report" I'd rather not even think about it was such a bloody bore.

Josh

Name: James
E-mail: Hobgoblin3@hotmail.com

Dear Josh:

I am on the verge of makeing acouple of short independant films but I was wondering how would I get copyrights to use popular music in these movies?

Dear James:

You wouldn't. Paying the clearance for songs is prohibitively expensive.

Josh

Name: Nick el Ass
E-mail: therealnickelass@yahoo.com

Josh,

In the last few years i have had serious doubt about the Presidents competence.Now i have no doubt George "dubya" Bush is a dumbass.In the last few weeks Dubya has managed to wreck his bike yet again,likened the 9/11 Commission's report to a well written mystery novel.He even said quote I want to be the peace president unquote.If you ask me i think he is going about it the wrong way.It is in my opinion and many others that this November we need to vote his dumbass out of office.By the way this is comming from a Republican.I hope other republicans will wake up and see that bush is far from the "compassionate conservative" he claims he is.I also happened to see Michael Moore's fahrenheit 9/11 and i must say i thoroughly enjoyed it.


Thanks,
Nick el Ass

Dear Nick:

Although it doesn't come to me naturally, I am being optimistic these days and simply believing that GW will be voted out and will quickly become a distant bad memory. I liked during the Democratic convention, which I thought was run pretty well and had a pleasant, upbeat tone, that they made reference to John Kerry's ability to make life and death decisions in a split second, compared with Bush's seven minutes of petrified panic on 9/11. Bush isn't qualified to lead a cub scout troop, and he's proven beyond a doubt he isn't qualified to lead a country.

Josh

Name: Patrick Chambers
E-mail: trooper2@kc.rr.com

Dear Josh:

You mention a character eating a Mickey's Banana Flip in your Biolgical Clock script. Any idea where you can still *get* these?

I know, I know...it isn't a directing question. Think of it as a prop inquiry. My wife and I were discussing these, and I did a web search, and, well...there it is. I figure if you were going to put one in a film, you might have a clue where to get one...

Thanks! Love your work!

Dear Patrick:

I didn't do any research on Mickey's Banana Flips, I just wrote it into a script. But I sure did like them as a kid -- great frosting.

Josh

Name: Jonathan Moody
E-mail: jondoe_555@yahoo.com

Hey Josh:

I was on IMDB and I decided to look at Alien Apocalypse and I wasn't sure if this was true but I saw that Rob co-wrote it with you. Did he just come up with the story, or did he not have any involvement? I know how the IMDB can be wrong from time to time and I know how you say you have never co-written anything with anyone. So just wanted to know what was up. And I picked up "Bubba Ho Tep" the other day... what a good, clever, fun movie. And Bruce is just as fantastic as ever.

Your fan,
Jonathan

Dear Jonathan:

I don't write the script with anyone anymore, but I still enjoy working on stories with other people. I wrote the story and the first draft of the script, then Rob read it and gave me very good notes. I followed his notes for the rewrite, and that's the script. That's why I gave him co-story credit, which he was not able to take since this film was not Writer's Guild signatory. And yes, Bruce was wonderful as Elvis, to the point where you forget it's Bruce and just believe you're watching Elvis. Sadly, though, I think act three of "Bubba" just drops dead.

Josh

Name: Norma
E-mail: normawp@aol.com

Dear Josh:

Will there be a Xena movie soon? I met Lucy Lawless at the Pride Run in June and here is my site with pictures of her and me. She was so nice and sweet to everyone.
http://home.earthlink.net/~wppix1/imetlucylawless/

Dear Norma:

I honestly don't believe there will be a Xena movie, not with Lucy and Renee anyway.

Josh

Name: Fabio
E-mail: longtom@oeste.com.ar

Dear Josh:

Just because Hollywood sucks and we know, I think share the Manifesto of John Water's Cecl B. Demented:

"Cinema terrorists - join the revolution against Hollywood movies! From the empty seats of every good movie theater in America, we will rise up and take back the screen. No english language remakes of foreign films! No more movies based on stupid video games! No sequels to tiresome big-budget blockbusters! Become an avenging angel for underground cinema! ... Stop the mass distribution of mediocre movies! ... Sabotage the cinema, take back the screen! Vandalize the movies, bring back the dream! CELLULUNATICS AND CINEMA SURVIVALISTS, MAKE GOOD MOVIES OR DIE! DEATH TO THOSE WHO ARE CINEMATICALLY INCORRECT!!"

Hehe! By the way, I am reading your script about the Kennedy's murder. I like a lot. I would like see in the screen. Have some touch of French Contact or is just me? Not because the french guys in it, but the mood, the semi documentary tone. That Old Kennedy guy was really a prick. I hate him.

Best regards
FABIO

Dear Fabio:

It's a very good manifesto, it's just too bad John Waters sold out. I'm glad you're enjoying "Head Shot," it was starting to look like no one would read it.

Josh

Name: grubio
E-mail: rubitef@sbcglobal.net

Dear Josh:

Where are the pictures of Renee?

Dear Grubio:

I believe I should be getting more pictures very soon. I personally didn't take any.

Josh

Name: Scott
E-mail:

Josh,

I thought you and your readers might find this interesting. It's an article on our president's mental state. It's somewhat long but it's worth it.

http://www.capitolhillblue.com/artman/publish/article_4921.shtml

Dear Scott:

What's Capitol Hill Blue, I've never heard of it. Maybe GW will crack up onstage at the Republican convention. Try to take his pants off over his head or something.

Josh

Name: Jo
E-mail:

Hi Josh:

I think you and your readers might get a chuckle out of this:
www.jibjab.com .

A pleasure, as always.

Jo

Dear Jo:

It's amusing. I hear the copyright holder of "This Land" is suing, which is ridiculous since it's political parody.

Josh

Name: JohnnyO
E-mail:

Hey Josh,

Are you watching the DNC? Man, I'd like to be there. Pretty cool seeing Michael Moore sitting next to Jimmy Carter. I really liked Teresa Heinz Kerry's speech. She is so ballsy! Great convention!! What do you think?

Dear JohnnyO:

I've been enjoying it. The best speaker by a mile was Rev. Al Sharpton; nobody can whip an audience up like he can. I just wish all of these politicians would stop invoking god, which is alienating and discriminatory to Athiests and Agnostics, who are every bit as American as religious people.

Josh

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

Dear Josh,

I imagine the question about Sam's production companies referred to "Ghost House Pictures," which I gather is what they're calling the parnership with that German company, Senator International. Ghost House is the name on the three new films, starting with "The Grudge."

I'm guessing that whenever there is a partnership for specific projects, as opposed to an actual merger, one simply creates a new company, for legal/accounting purposes? Like that whole LLC thing you've written about?

Speaking of which, though, I'm curious - do you have any idea how much of a staff is still technically involved with Ren Pics? I'm assuming there have to be a ton of accountants and so forth just to ride herd on royalties, licensing, residuals etc., even if there are no projects currently in production.

Thanks,

August

Dear August:

Even when you have a production company you still start a new company, which is either a limited partnership or a limited liability corporation, for every single production. This separates the liability from everything else. For a while there, like during the late 1980s and early 1990s, Renaissance Pictures kept using Roman numerals, Reniassance Pictures II and III, etc., for "Lunatics" and "Hard Target," but that gets confusing. Meanwhile, Ren
Pix expands and contracts depending on what's in production. At its minimum, though, it's two people, Sue, the office manger, and David, jack-of-all-trades, both of whom have been around forever.

Josh

Name: Carrie
E-mail: carrierosser@hotmail.com

Dear Josh:

Are you at all familiar with the music of Ben Folds? I was just thinking he would probably do a great job with a film score.

Dear Carrie:

Never heard of him. I've been working with the same composer my entire career, Joe LoDuca, and his music pleases me.

Josh

Name: JohnnyO
E-mail:

Josh,

Why does Sam Raimi have two different production companies? Is one for film, and the other for television? What is the purpose of having two?

Thanks!

Dear JohnnyO:

I didn't know that Sam had two production companies. I know about Renaissance Pictures, his company with Rob Tapert, that's been around for over 25 years now. What other one is there?

Josh

Name: Jonathan Moody
E-mail: jondoe_555@yahoo.com

Dear Josh:

I've been seeing lots of horror films coming out recently. Mainly Japanese remakes like "The Grudge" and "Ring 2". And one day (hopefully soon) I'll write and direct one. But do you recommend any good horror films American or Foreign that you love to watch?

Your fan,
Jonathan

Dear Jonathan:

The horror film that scared me the most as a kid was "Rosemary's Baby," and for me it has remained on top of the heap. I also quite like Roman Polanski's films, "The Tenant" and "Repulsion." Another horror film that scared me as a kid was "The Body Snatcher" with Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi and Henry Daniel. Also, the British compilation horror film, "Dead of Night," particularly the last episode with Michael Redgrave. I also quite like "Alien" and "Aliens." Another horror film definitely worth seeing is Robert Wise's "The Haunting."

Josh

Name: Warren Serkin
E-mail: **********************

Dear Josh:

Couple of more scores by Mr. Bernstein. The Magnificent Seven and The Hallelujah Trail.

Another composer for your consideration --- Maurice Jarre. Scores for Lawrence of Arabia and Doctor Zhivago, among others

Dear Warren:

Elmer Bernstein has written literally hundreds of scores, and somehow became the comedy go-to composer for the past 25 years, after "Animal House." His score for "Airplane!" is great. I'm not a big fan of Maurice Jarre, although I like his score for "Lawrence of Arabia" very much, he was never that good again, and many of his scores just aren't very good. I have the greatest hits CD of Jarre's and most of it is unlistenable. Whereas someone like Bernard Herrmann, or Jerry Goldsmith to a lesser extent, their scores are frequently better than the movies they're in.

Josh

Name: Amber
E-mail: amberhanson1984@hotmail

Hey Josh,
I was just peer pressured into watching Pink Floyd's The Wall and I was wondering what you thought of it or even the concept. Also, while on the topic have you ever seen Run Lola Run?
Thanks,
Amber

Dear Amber:

Although I'm quite fond of Pink Floyd's album "The Wall," I think the movie is basically unbearable. I watched about ten minutes of "Run Lola Run," was bored and turned it off.

Josh

Name: Ariel Lindgren
E-mail: arielsarajevo@yahoo.fr

Dear Josh Becker,

This is , of course, a surprise for me that some letters are published. I have absolutely nothing against it, but I think my commenting for most readers is completely out of topic and not very interesting.
I thought this was written privately to you, either chosing commenting or/and asking. Never mind ! You do with it, what you want.
You must get an awful lot of mail, and I think I have misunderstood the idea of it to some extent. But, that's nothing new. Quite normal for me !
So, my excuse for bothering you with the previous mail.
I do have some questions about the great Filmcreator William Wyler, but I have to formulate myself.
I think, he had a tremendous psychological insight !
Ariel Lindgren
Strasbourg (temporary resident)
France

Dear Ariel:

Not some of the letters, most of the letters are published, and I answer them, too. And you're not speaking for most readers, just yourself. Just like me. But I'm very pleased to connect with another William Wyler fan because he really was the very best director of them all. TCM out of France kept showing "Ben-Hur" over and over while I was in Bulgaria, and the DP, David, and I, kept watching it over and over again. David kept exclaiming, "Judah! Messala drives a peaked chariot!" meaning it had those spikes on the axle. But Stephen Boyd's death scene may very well be the best death scene ever. Holding those leather straps, all of the skin on his body torn off, only staying alive long enough to wreak more revenge on Judah by telling him that his mother and sister are alive, but are lepers. "The game goes on, Judah!" Great stuff.

Josh

Name: Ariel Lindgren
E-mail: arielsarajevo@yahoo.fr

Dear Josh:

Thank you , Josh Becker for a very interesting, and beautifully written personal impression of William Wyler. One of the greatest personalities in the history of film.
I was born in Sweden, but now living in Strasbourg, France after being in Sarajevo during and after the recent war. I was working as frelance journalist and simultaneously helping the Sarajevo Jewish community and its organization " La Benevolencija ".

I am on my way to Paris, before settling down in Israel. I cannot recall now, how I did find it out, but William Wyler was born in Mulhouse, one hour by car from Strasbourg. I haven't been in Mulhouse yet, but I would like to find out more about his roots. His parents went to the USA, when he was very young. I think, before WW I.

I am a former teacher in violinplaying and in the Swedish language. Now I am struggling with my writing about Sarajevo, but it's very hard. It is interesting to me, but to make it intersting for a reader without any previous knowledge ....
That's THE THING !
A great writer can write about a chair, but I have no choice. I have to do it, whatever the result !

It was really not my meaning to present some of my own life, but the one gives the other.
My question is simply, if you have any contact with his family. I haven't tried, but I suppose that the Jewish community in Mulhouse knows a lot about his family before going to USA.

What a clever decision to emigrate to USA ! It most probably saved their lives.
That's all, and now I will try to find all his films and look at them carefully.

By the way ! I am having a group about a great Polish Jewish writer Bruno Schulz. He was assinated by the Nazis in Drohobycz, Galicia, Ukraine (today), November 19, 1942.

Again !
Thank you !
Ariel Lindgren
Temporary resident in Strasbourg
France

Dear Ariel:

William Wyler (born Willi) was born in Mulhouse, in the Alsace, on July 1, 1902, and he arrived in the USA on September 17, 1920 on the Aquitania, by himself, without his family. He already had a job in the film business because his uncle was Carl Laemmle, head of Universal Pictures.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

What did I like about Hammer? Well besides the music, heroine addicts, beatniks (I like Bucket of Blood), flintstone cigarette ads, the excellent performance of the three leads, the full term pregnant women getting drunk off their asses, Michael Dean Jacobs from ORGAZMO as the m.c., and the fact that everyone in this movie is probably going to get lung cancer. Well probably the story about how you take Phil Buckley and turn the story against him once he gets to the club, that he's the only one there without a real purpose so he represents everything wrong with music. It's not just the acting, its that the story just drives the film to be funnier every second. It looks campy at first, but once the you get past the first guy that hits on Lisa Records (that scene kinda sounds like he's reading off a page), he disappears, the movie really picks up, oh and the same guy comes back and redeems himself with an anti-semetic joke. Oh yeah, it also feels like Lorainne doesn't really care about the Springfield Five, she's just doing it to feel important. I can't find anything wrong with it really. Hell, its more rewatchable than KILL BILL (which has a lot of pointless chapters).

Dear kdn:

I love that the character Max, in your assessment, redeems himself with an anti-semitic joke. That first scene between Lorraine and Max is the worst scene in the movie -- it was about 120 degrees in that office, it was the last scene to be shot on the first day of shooting, we got in there late and I just rushed the actors through the scene. On top of which, the writing is pretty lumpy, too. Ah, well. Thanks for this nice review, I appreciate it.

Josh

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

Josh,

Collaboration!

I believe that is pecisely what is so fascinating about making films and I know how well you work with Bruce on projects, and I also know how excited you get about working with him. This is the visceral part of it all.

The relationship between Nykvist and Bergman was that rare combination that you do not find very much anymore in filmmaking, and I feel that maybe the European fillmakers can keep those bonds longer than filmmakers can in Hollywood.

You said yourself at one time that once a director who has made some great films in Europe starts working in Hollywood, their films suffer. A good example is of course John Boorman.

I also feel with regards to Cinematographers is that like anyone in this business, they all want to work on good projects, however, many of them are just happy working and like most of us, they take jobs that are below their capabilties sometimes and of course work with stale directors and the pressures of the studios etc...

After Bergman stopped directing, I think Nykvist was lost and shot some very balnd films, however, there were a few which were quite nice as well. He worked until he reached his 70's and had to retire do to health problems.

As odd as it may sound, one of the things that inspired me about becoming a cinematographer was the fact that most of the masters worked until they could not physically anymore.

James Wong Howe shot his last film "Funny Lady" when he was dying of cancer. He knew he was dying, but he wanted to do the film and he told the Director Herbert Ross that he wanted to "go out with his boots on", and he did.

Even though you did not really like the film, I feel that Conrad Hall shot "Road to Perdition" beautifully and he was also in the early stages of cancer and died not long after the film was complete.

Vilmos is still shooting features and he is now in his 70's. My boss and I had lunch with him last year and he is still as wonderful as ever.

Anyhow, what I am trying to say is that most cinematographers never even feel they have a real grasp of their craft until later in their life and maybe that is what Directors feel as well. Unfortunately, Hollywood doesn't have this attitude.

Scott

Dear Scott:

Cinematographers have a tendency to live long lives, just like symphony conductors. Conrad Hall did a great job on "Road to Perdition," and his photography is the film's only saving grace. I remember reading the American Cinematographer interview with James Wong Howe when "Funny Lady" came out, and he made a comment that stuck with me. Howe never used filters on the lens, he only put filters and gels on the lights. His comment was, and I paraphrase, I'm not putting a two dollar piece of glass in front of $10,000 lens. But the experience that you mentioned that comes with years of working is the same for directors and writers, too. To not make use of the experienced professionals is one of Hollywood's biggest crimes.

Josh

Name: Cath
E-mail: mscl@ix.netcom.com

Dear Josh -

Amen on "A Patch of Blue." I saw it years ago and loved it then; will have to rent and watch it again.

I have an album of "best" of Jerry Goldsmith's film scores, including a brief piece from the theme for that film.

Even Goldsmith's T.V. work was above par, along the lines of Henry Mancini's in terms of being memorable. I've always enjoyed Goldsmith's "Man from U.N.C.L.E." theme.

Jerry Goldsmith also did a wonderful job for "Chinatown" -- producing one of the most evocative, sensual themes for any movie. I love his score for "The Wind and the Lion" -- and notice that some of the music Josesph LoDuca composed for "Xena: Warrior Princess" resembled Mr. Goldsmith's music for that Sean Connery vehicle. I like the movie too, while realizing it's not great filmaking -- just an entertaining adventure.

In your opinion, who are some of the other outstanding composers of music for film?

-Cath

Dear Cath:

I'm a big fan of Elmer Bernstein and I think he's really terrific. I love his scores for "The Great Escape," "To Kill a Mockingbird," "Walk on the Wild Side," to name a few. John Williams used to be a very good composer until he fell in with Spielberg and Lucas. His score for DePalma's "The Fury" is wonderful, as well as "The Cowboys." My favorite is still Bernard Herrmann, as he is many people's favorite.

Josh

Name: David Edward
E-mail: PiccoloDiamao1020@yahoo.com

Dear Josh:

I recently made a film called "Phantasmagoria" about a man who has strange hallucinations, and in the end he dies, and we discover it was of a drug overdose. I'm thinking about making an anthology with this and similar stories. I think it's a nice change from other movies we see nowadays, since most of them are just action movies, or romantic comedies. Does this movie sound good enough to get some sort of release?

Dear David:

It sounds interesting, but it's all in the execution. As a general rule, though, distributors don't like anthology films, which is why they don't make very many of them.

Josh

Name: John Rambo
E-mail: thisisjohnrambo@yahoo.com

Dear Josh,

Thanks for informing me about Night Train to Munich, I will definitely check that out, sounds very interesting. I think Rex Harrison was one of the actors considered for the part of Bond in Dr. No, among other famous actors at the time. You are probably right about the film and his character inspiring Ian Fleming to create Bond. I've also heard that there were other inspirations such as the English detective literary character Bulldog Drummond, and the exploits of Ian Fleming himself. According to imdb he modelled the character with Cary Grant in mind, who would only have agreed to doing one Bond film when asked if I'm right. He also wanted David Niven to portray his character, who did later in the 1967 spoof of Casino Royale which I personally found funny and entertaining (and hot!) but most hardcore fans of the series didn't appreciate it.

Well, very interesting. I was also going to ask you, I heard about composer Jerry Goldsmith passing away sadly, and I am glad he was one of your favorite composers. I love the theme he came up with for First Blood, especially the Home Coming theme with Rambo, which is the Rambo theme. There's kind of this eerie somberness to it and a sort of loneliness and desperation I thought, and a lack of hope I sort of felt. Most reviewers say it conveyed a sense of nobility too. I listen to it all the time I thought he did a wonderful job. I was wondering what feelings it evoked in you or if you agreed on the descriptions? I also liked The Sand Pebbles.

Thanks,

John

Dear John:

Jerry Goldsmith's score for "First Blood" is wonderful. Lonely and exciting and simple. He was brilliant. I've had the editor use quite a bit of "Planet of the Apes" for the temp score on "Alien Apocalypse," and it's really terrific music. I also love his score for "MacArthur," which is a truly 2nd rate film with just a great score. I used the main theme as the main theme for the super-8 version of TSNKE, "Stryker's War," and I think I made better use of it. The theme begins with something like a spoon banging on the low strings of a piano.

And while we're on Goldsmith again, I want to go back to "A Patch of Blue," which is a movie I absolutely love, with a lonely, dramatic, touching, mid-'60s score by Mr. Goldsmith. People keep writing in saying shit like, "I'll make a zombie parody," or "I'll make a James Bond story" or whatever, as opposed to trying to come up with A GOOD IDEA. "A Patch of Blue" is a good idea -- a lonely, abused, 19-year-old blind girl, with an abusive, racist, alcoholic, prostitute mother (Shelly Winters in an Oscar-winning part), meets a very kind, caring man in the park, who happens to be black (Sidney Poitier), except that she's blind and that doesn't matter. This is the first person that's every been kind to her, and actually likes her. And she immediately falls completely and totally in love. Well, sooner or later her mother just HAS to find out, right? And it's this loud-mouth, battle-axe, abusive bitch played by Shelly Winters. The inevitability is horrifying. A story is about something causing something else, and "A Patch of Blue" is a brilliant example of it. And a perfect story to make other, socially important, points with, as well. Then you've got three great performances, Shelly Winters, Sidney Poitier, and Elizabeth Hartman, and a beautiful Jerry Goldsmith score. I saw this film as a kid and it blew me the fuck away, and on some level I never got over it. THAT'S what movies can do! Make you care so much your heart breaks. And that's a good idea.

Josh

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

Josh,

I had completey forgotten about Sergio Leone. What a complete brain fart on my part.

Yes, I agree it is not a good idea to limit the number of tools you decide to use as a DP if they help tell the story, and even beyone that, I believe that many DPs get routed into a way of thinking that actually narrow their ideas due to this type of attitude.

I think that we have exhausted the handheld look now, but it is still being used (overused) in many productions. The point is just like fashion, just because everyone is wearing it, doesn't make it great.

In fact, it makes it less unique and only serves to stagnate the story instead of supporting it.

That is what I was getting at.

Actually, before the film "Nowhere in Africa" which I mentioned earlier, the shot you mentioned in "Full Metal Jacket" was the last contemporary film within the last 20 years that I can remember a snap zoom being used.

I am sure there are others, but I don't remember them.

That is cool that you used one in "Alien Apocolypse".

I believe that the visual strength of "The Conformist" is what most DPs who have any sort of vision strive for when they shoot a film.

As you have said before, there are many beautifully shot films with bad scripts, but when the two are in snyc, then the film is unstoppable.

Storaro has always been an inspiration to me as much as Sven Nykvist for the simple fact they both light for simplicity, yet the quality of their images has mostly been far from simplistic in terms of imagery and emotion.

Scott

Dear Scott:

What's so fascinating about DPs is that working with some directors they can be great, then with other directors they can be completely pedestrian. Like Sven Nykvist, who has shot many films for many different directors, but his work for Bergman is his best. A DP's work is very tied up in their relationship with the director. Nykvist has shot a bunch of run-of-the-mill Hollywood pictures where you would never know it was him. I just watched "The Last Samurai," which really sucked, but looked terrific and was shot by John Toll, the talented Australian DOP (as they say down there). But to see something like "The Bourne Identity," this high-budget film where every shot is hand-held is just depressing to me.

Josh

Name: Heather MacDonald
E-mail: humewood@idirect.com

Hello Josh.

I stumbled on your site while looking for a DVD copy of The Little Kidnappers. Did you know that Vincent Winter died quite young of a heart attack some years ago? I found a listing for VHS copies of this 1953 version on a site called Roberts Hard to Find Videos. I ordered it at once but don't know if I'll ever get it.

Dear Heather:

It was very good, and the little boys were particularly good (and got a special Oscar for it, too). It's about two little boys in Nova Scotia at the turn of the century who are not allowed to have a dog, so they steal a baby and raise it in the woods. I haven't seen it in 20 years, and only once, but it was incredibly effective.

Josh

Name: jeremy
E-mail: jeremyhunkin@yahoo.com

Dear Josh:

I want to start by saying that you summed up everything ive been trying to tell people.Ive been pondering these same things for years since "islamic extremism" became a household term and a U.S. propaganda term.The fact is that religion is the overwhelming evil that is polarizing this world,you are no longer just accepting a belief anymore there is a package that comes with religion and includes the us and them,the im right your wrong and im good your evil and i must massacre you and your people because it is the holy thing to do.The sooner people realize the evil intent,the sooner we can live peacefully.

Dear Jeremy:

I wouldn't hold my breath if I were you. It's become even more polarized over the past decade or two. It's not that we don't have serparation enough between cities and states and countries and hemispheres, but there's also this mystical voodoo about whose got the "right" view of some all-powerful invisible man. It's ridiculous, yet horrifying.

Josh

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

Josh,

How can you go on about story and how visual and artistic elements of a film can't carry a film, but then you praise "The Conformist"? Did I miss something?

Ben

Dear Ben:

It's called, there are exceptions to all rules. "The Conformist" really stands alone as a purely visual film experience. Sadly, because the script isn't that good, I've never cared about the dramatic experience, only the visual experience. But in this specific case, the visuals are so arresting, and consistently imaginiative and beautiful, it somehow manages to pull you through. Certainly Bertolucci has never been able to do it again, and he's tried. The trick of movemaking is combine a good, solid, dramatic script with beautiful visuals. Most films haven't got either one. "The Conformist" only has the beautiful visuals, but it really has them in spades.

Josh

Name: Camden Natysin
E-mail: Lonchaney20@msn.com

Dear Josh:

I'm making a film based somewhat off of the works of H.P. Lovecraft, and a story of my own. The basic plot is that a man is forced to translate a passage in the Necronomicon that resurrects Cthulhu, and creates an army of Shoggoths (kind of like zombies, except different...)and so the man (and someone he meets while hiding from the monsters) has to recite a passage that send Cthulhu back to his prison of R'lyeh while fighting off the monstrous hordes. How can I create an effective film with an extremely low budget, and what sort of humor can I put in this film?

Dear Camden:

A. It doesn't sound like a low-budget idea, B. if you intend to actually use parts of H.P. Lovecraft's stories then you must purchase the rights to them, and if you don't intend to buy the rights, but are still going to use sections of his stories, you're putting yourself into a position of liability which will alienate all distributors, C. the story sounds like a lot of gobbledygook. How about coming up with something original, that you actually might be able to shoot?

Josh

Name: Nik
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

With reference to you comment: "There's nothing humorous, or even interesting, that you can do with a zombie movie at this late date. Zombies are a bore.", I would like to reccomend that you see the British movie "Shaun of the Dead" when it comes out in the US later this year - a screamingly funny zombie film.

Dear Nik:

Okay, if you say so.

Josh

Name: C.R
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

Your right, zombies are a bore, and the zombie genre basically belongs to Romero and Raimi. So I guess it's back to the drawing board, but hell I'll probably get a better idea soon. Anyhow currently I'm writing a novels which I might be able to adapt to a screenplay. Thanks.

Dear C.R.:

Open yourself up and become a cosmic antenna; look deep into your own soul and don't lie to yourself -- what do you really and truly think is a good idea. And remember, a story in its most basic form is: something causes something else. Good luck, Mr. Phelps.

Josh

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

Josh,

I think you are bringing up a good point about the use of of zooms in film. The shot in "Il Conformista" is a good example of great visual employment of the snap zoom.

Sven Nykvist and Ingmar Bergman used the zoom in a similar manner within a few of their films, this technique was also used a few times in "The Planet of the Apes".

It seems to be a technique that was more utilized in films during the late 60's and early 70's when shooting styles loosened up and the "New Wave" era began. It also seems to have been a technique used more with european DPs and directors than Americans.

You rarely see it anymore and I think much of it has to do with the idea that it is a "no no" and DPs like the one you mentioned stay away from it, however, if it helps tell the story then why would you claim never to use it?

The technique was used in the recent German film which was quite good called "Nowhere in Africa". It really had taken me by surprise when I seen the use of the zoom like that because it had been a longtime since I had seen it. The fact is it worked in the film.

I think coming from a background in shooting, I have always felt that rules are always meant to be broken when it comes to telling the story, and if this technique visually helps the story then why not use it?

Scott

Dear Scott:

But beyond that the zoom is a tool, just like a dolly or a Steadi-cam or a crane. To say that you don't use one of the tools in your toolbox is just stupid. You forgot a big proponent of the snap zoom, Mr. Sergeo Leone. I did a couple of zooms in this recent film, and I like them. Oh, Stanley Kubrick did great zooms. In "Full Metal Jacket" the zoom through the hole in the wall to Arliss Howard right before he gets shot is brilliant.

Josh

Name: Warren Serkin
E-mail: **********************

Dear Josh:

Now I hear that the hollywood types are going to remake Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory as well as The Posidon Adventure. Is there anyone in Gollywood these days having original thoughts????

Dear Warren:

Uh, hello! You just getting this? Nobody has had a good idea, let alone an original thought, in Hollywood in years. Decades. And I'm so old now that I didn't like "The Poseidon Adventure" when it came out. Gene Hackman falls into some water with some gas burning on top and we never see him again? It's like he fell into a vat of acid. And when the highlight of your picture is Shelly Winters disrobing, you're in trouble. And Red Buttons shemping. Christ, now it's all flooding back.

Josh

Name: C.R
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

I'm writing a screenplay and I need to know how I could take a simple idea, such as a satire on the zombie genre, and make it into a 90 min movie. I have a habit of writing really promising openings which run out of steam towards page 20.

Dear C.R.:

The first thing you need to do is come up with a better idea. There's nothing humorous, or even interesting, that you can do with a zombie movie at this late date. Zombies are a bore. A story is frequently based on a good idea, so you need to begin with one of those. What if . . . ? You fill in the blank.

Josh

Name: Dylan
E-mail:

Hello Josh,

"A Patch of Blue" is a wonderful film, one of the best films Goldsmith was involved with (and it's a shame he didn't win the Oscar that year for best original score). I shed a few tears when that film ended (I've seen it a few times as well). It is an immensely touching story, handled beautifully by Guy Green, DP Robert Burks, Goldsmith, and especially the actors. I also believe it's Poitier's best work. I felt his performance to be as naturalistic as they come, effortlessly pulled off.

One film you often mention that I don't see on your favorites list is Bertolucci's "The Conformist." I believe that it's one of the most important films in the history of cinema, and I think you've said something similar (which made it surprising not to see it on your favorites list). Vittorio Storaro's brilliant use of color and light is enough to make anybody in love with film cry. Wonderful film as well, beautifully realized and shot. I hope Storaro's recently completed restoration is released on DVD soon, more people should be exposed to it.

Best,
Dylan

Dear Dylan:

"The Conformist" isn't on my list? Oh my god! Well, it's purely an oversight. I've seen "The Conformist" in the theater about eight times and the film visually means a lot to me. The second this one dumbass DP said to me years ago, "I don't use zoom lenses," I flashed on "The Conformist" with the girl lying on the desk and it snap-zooms back to the huge room with the black and white pattern on the floor. What's very interesting with that film is the weakest part about it is the script, and on some deep level I've never given a shit about the story. But almost every single shot is gorgeous. I'm convinced Coppola stole the low-angle tracking shot with the blowing leaves for for the end of "Godfather 2." Then Coppola began to work with Storaro, so it all makes sense. There's a sequence that haunts me in "Il Conformista," when Jean-Louis Trintignant is in his mother's bedroom and there are two doors into the bathroom, and as he and mother go in and out of the bathroom and the bedroom, both lit completely differently, and it tracks between them. There's also that scene when he's dancing with Stefania Sandrelli, and she's wearing that crazy black and white stripped dress, and the light is moving across them. It's a stunning film.

Josh

Name: Charles Pope
E-mail: charles.pope@sbcglobal.net

Dear Josh:

There was a man with a dog at 86th st and First avenue in New York City many years ago.At this time there was a RKO Video store at the southeast corner..a woman came out of the store and had a video in her hands..

she and this gentlemen walked south on First avenue.
No one in the area knew it ..but this man was Anthony Quinn. I cant quite explain it but he seemed to blend in with the area of the city...yet here was Anthony Quinn. True Experience

C Pope

Dear Charles:

In NYC everyone blends, I guess, but Anthony Quinn didn't blend all that well being about 6'3". He was a big, cranky, talented man.

Josh

Name: The Real Bob
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

Since you are from the Detroit, MI area, I was wondering if you remember a TV personality from the 70s known as 'The Ghoul' who I believe was based in Detroit but the show was syndicated at least in the Boston area, and I guess elsewhere, in the '70s. Do you know what became of the Ghoul? For those who have never heard of The Ghoul he was the host of a sci-fi/horror movie presentation and during the breaks would do things with Cheez-whiz and Richard M. Nixon masks, etc.

Dear The Real Bob:

I was on The Ghoul's show, with Bruce and Scott Spiegel. The Ghoul was Ron Swede, and I actually had the honor of watching him nearly blow his hand off with M-80s. The Ghoul also showed one of Sam, Bruce and Scott's films, "Six Months to Live." I was in a skit with Bruce and The Ghoul.

Josh

Name: Camden Natysin
E-mail: Lonchaney20@msn.com

Dear Josh:

I was wondering if you think it's better to create a film with a deep meaning, or instead a more down-to-earth film. Which do you think is a more effective approach?

Dear Camden:

As Pruett says in "From Here to Eternity," "A man should be what he can do." If you can create a story with deep meaning then you certainly should. You should only write what you think is good.

Josh

Name: Dylan
E-mail:

Hello Josh,

I am saddened to mention the death of who I believe was your favorite living composer, Jerry Goldsmith:


http://www.nynewsday.com/entertainment/news/wire/sns-ap-obit-goldsmith,0,6118366.story?coll=sns-ap-entertainment-headlines

I'm devastated, he was 75. He was working until the very end, though never on good movies. His very last score didn't even make it into the movie it was composed for, it was for Richard Donner's "Timeline," a terrible-looking film. Goldsmith recorded his score, the studio put it in the film, and a test audience decided its fate, citing it as too old fashioned. It was replaced with a score by a new guy, Brian Tyler. I bet their sorry now. I've heard Jerry's score, and it's a wonderful achievement, he was just as good as he ever was, right until the end.

My favorite scores of his will always be "Seconds," "A Patch of Blue," "Magic," "Alien," and "Poltergeist."

I believe that one time on here you said that one of your dreams was to work with Goldsmith, and I'm sorry that never came to fruition. Did you ever have a chance to meet him?

Best,
Dylan

Dear Dylan:

No, I never met him. I would most certainly have loved to work with him. C'est la vie. Goodbye, Jerry Goldsmith, I loved your music. My favorite score of his is definitely "Patton," which I think stands as one of the greatest scores ever. The use of the distant trumpets is heartbreaking. I just watched "A Patch of Blue" again, and it's a movie I really love, and of course Jerry Goldsmith's score had a lot to do with it. I also really like "The Sand Pebbles."

Josh

Name: Emmet Kearney
E-mail: efkearney@bankofny.com

Hello Josh Becker,
I happened across your review of "Saving Private Ryan", and since it's a slow day here at work, I thought I'd pick a. . .uh. . .discussion with you. And since you seem to encourage contentiousness, I thought you wouldn't mind.

I did notice that your review is dated back in '98, so I hope you don't mind covering old ground.

I see that you are a film director yourself, and that you've gone to film school as well. I assume then that you've seen and studied many different types of film. I also then assume you must have a broad understanding of the different elements of film. For that reason, I was surprised with your view of this film and of films in general. In my assessment, your view of what makes a film good or worthy or artistic is too narrow.

You say the basic point of "Saving Private Ryan" is that "war is hell". Obviously, the film does show that war is hell, but I wouldn't say that that is its point. I'd say instead that the point of the film is that many sacrifices were made to give us what we have today. Average guys sacrificed much to help people they never knew, whether that be Private Ryan or future generations.

Is this theme complicated? No. Is there any ambiguity or irony in it? No. Would anyone disagree with this theme's assertions? No. However, I think there's nothing wrong with that. This is what I mean when I say you define good filmmaking too narrowly. Why does a film have to be ironic, complex, or contentious to be good? I think some great films include one or all of those elements, but I wouldn't make that the litmus test for what's good.

So then what makes "Saving Private Ryan" a good film, you ask. I'd say it this way: Why do you think about 75% of the film is combat scenes with virtually no dialogue, story or character development? What would a film like that be trying to do? Or better yet, how would it be trying to do it? If you think about it, the above three film (really story) elements you lamented are intellectual experiences. So what kind of an experience must a film with so much combat screen time be trying to provide? Instead of intellectual, perhaps it's trying to provide a visceral experience to its audience.

This film is indeed simple. Stephen Spielberg wasn't trying to get his audience to ponder how the forces of history trap individuals, or how war dements one's humanity, or that the poor man fights the rich man's wars, etc. He wanted his audience to experience war the way soldiers experience it-with their guts. And he wants them to experience that so that they can have some insight into the sacrifices some made to give us what we have today.

So on a visceral level, "Saving Private Ryan" really delivers, and I think you say as much when you praise the first 25 minutes. How could anyone not be unnerved by the blunt force of that sequence? Powerful cinema, all with almost no dialogue and no complexity to ponder. How could that not be good filmmaking?

(Also. . .consider that "Saving Private Ryan" won Oscars for cinematography, sound, and sound effects, which deal exclusively with the visceral experience of a film. This tells you at least why the Academy thought it was a good film. [And Im NOT saying a movie is good only if the Academy says so.])

Dear Emmet:

Yes, but the film also won Oscars for Best Screenplay and Best Director, too. And yes, I agree the first 20 minutes works quite well on a visceral level. It's all that shit that comes afterward that sucks so bad. Unlike what you assert, most of the film is not combat scenes--there's basically the Normandy Invasion at the beginning, and the sticky bomb scene at the end, which wasn't a very good battle scene. The remainder is a lot of stupid plotting, bad dialog, and purely idiotic story that makes no sense, isn't believable, nor is it true. And, as I've pointed out previously, the "twist" ending is insulting bullshit. So, for me, the opening sequence isn't good enough to bail out all the rest of the film.

Josh

Name: John Rambo
E-mail: johnrambo@yahoo.com

Dear Josh,

Sorry about that long entry and question, I was just trying to get my views across and then ask your opinion on it. Anyway, I understand your view, but I would say the film version of Bond is usually funnier (though less believable). I do agree that the books were great and more realistic. Do you think any of the films were close enough to the books to be more appealing to you? I can understand about the excessive gadgets sometimes, but the first two films were closer to Fleming's source material from Dr. No and From Russia With Love. From Russia With Love especially is seen as closer to the novel and more realistic. I think the films are awesome but like you I greatly enjoy the books too and wonder how it would be if the films had been more directly related to the literature. So anyway I understand your point but don't you think at least the first two films were closer to the novels? There were also efforts to make the series less fantastical with Timothy Dalton's films what are your thoughts on that?

Anyway, I personally enjoy both the films and the literature but I can understand why you might not like most of the films as James Bond seems more of a superhero I guess.

Thanks,

John

Dear John:

Clearly, this topic is important to you and you like both the Bond books and films. I really did like the early Bond films when I was a kid, but they all seem pretty clunky to me now. Yes, I suppose the first two films are closer to the books, but they're still not trying to be true to them, which movies rarely are. You ought to check out "Night Train to Munich," which I'm convinced was Ian Fleming's inspiration for James Bond. It's a 1940 Carol Reed film with very young Rex Harrison as a sauve British secret agent. I'll bet Fleming saw this film during the war, and when the war was over used the basic concept of the Rex Harrison character for Bond.

Josh

Name: John Rambo
E-mail: thisisjohnrambo@yahoo.com

Dear Josh,

Also I just forgot, about the absinthe thing that sounds pretty interesting. They mention it in the movie Eurotrip in this bar in Germany I think. I'll have to check it out, though I personally am most interested in Amsterdam and Club Vandersexxx (I love Madame Vandersexxx she's so hot and beautiful and sexy!) from the film.

I was wondering, I'm certainly not judging here, but would you experiment with absinthe even if it had negative side affects? It is mentioned in Eurotrip but I don't recall if they mentioned side effects.

John

Dear John:

Considering Vincent Van Gogh apparently cut off his ear while drunk on absinthe, I suppose there are side-effects, but I don't think I'll experience them from just one bottle. I'm not much of a drinker anyway, so we'll see what happens from a couple of shots.

Josh

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

Hey Josh,

Long time no talk. Glad to hear that "Apocalypse" is in the can. Congrats!

Watched "Mister Roberts" last night for the first time. (As a huge Jack Lemmon fan, I am ashamed to admit this.) What a great film. It managed to make me laugh and cry, and I didn't feel manipulated. Henry Fonda, William Powell, James Cagney--great cast. John Ford directed half of it, then had to hand the reins to Mervyn LeRoy, but the transition felt smooth. Didn't see it on your list, so I don't know how much you like that one.

Also: my friend loaned me the entire series "Freaks and Geeks" on DVD and I can't recommend it highly enough. It's all about being stoners and outcasts in high school, 1980. For some reason I think of you when I'm watching them talk about Led Zep and how much "disco sucks." It's been so long since I've written, and my short-term memory's not so great, so I may have told you this before.

Best of luck with the Absinthe thing, I've heard varied reviews. But then again, most people I know who are trying it are getting the much weaker, "Americanized" version. If I could afford $100 to try the good stuff, I would.

Take care,

Cindy

Dear Cindy:

I love "Mister Roberts," and I can't believe it's not on my fav list. I'll have to correct that. It's the quintessential early Jack Lemmon performance, and an Oscar-winner, too. I find myself singing that tune he's singing and humming throughout the film, "If I could be with you one hour tonight, I'm tellin' ya true, I wouldn't be blue, if I could be with you, for just one hour." I used to have the poster on my wall as a kid, with Fonda and Powell making the scotch out of Coke and iodine. Yeah, Henry Fonda and John Ford got into a big fight halfway through production and Ford walked off the film. I'll let you know how the absinthe is, when I get it.

Josh

Name: Blake Fitzpatrick
E-mail: stranger_@hotmail.com

Josh, we are interested in casting you in a small cameo for our next upcoming feature. The film is a throwback to 1950s hammer flicks, and we are trying to get a lot of people who have personified this niche in the film industry to appear in the film. We are also interested in getting Bruce to do a small role as well, although we are unaware of his status. If you are interested, Please let me know when you get a chance.
Regards,

Blake Fitzpatrick
Founder and President
Monumental Pictures
http://www.monumentalpictures.com

Dear Blake:

Thanks, but no thanks. I'm not an actor.

Josh

Name: Bonni
E-mail: bonnimart@aol.com

Hi Josh,

I was wondering if any of the cast of Alien Apocalypse are going to be at the San Diego Comic-Con to promote the film? I noticed that Sci-Fi Channel had a booth in the Exhibit Hall. Thanks for your reply.

Dear Bonni:

No, nor will I.

Josh

Name: Laura Fogelson
E-mail: anniemal42@iwon.com

Dear Mr. Becker and one of Bruce Campbell's best friends ever:

re: Your essay on the Tush administration-
YEAH, WHAT YOU SAID!
If you have not yet seen Michael Moore's movie, Farenheit 9/11, I strongly encourage you to do so.

That movie clearly lays out WHY BUbba Tushie was so busy looking the other way during the first several months of his term. O I L. DUH, like we are shocked!

There is so much very wrong with this administration, it makes me appoplectic.

I love your comment at the end, about if someone worked for you, lied 237 times, etc, you'd fire them.

I have been trying to explain this to several people. Sadly, most of them are from that lost, clueless, Xtremely Apathetic generation that simply can not be bothered to go out and vote (then get out of my country! Voting is the one, true way to prove your patriotism!). As such, my lectures fall on proverbial deaf ears. This is not about 'electing a president" it's about hiring a person for the single, most important job, to represent the "greater good" of the people of the USA. Therefore, isn't it about time we did our homework, requested resumes and references, and hired qualified people. Had we had Bubba Tushe's resume and a list of references, we would have found out very early on how badly he did his job as Governor of Texas. I know of very few companies that would have hired someone like him to do little more than clean toilets (and even then). Well, except for Haliburton and Enron, of course.

Thank you for letting me vent. I feel much better now.
And thank you for using your Hollywood connections only for good and never evil (well, mostly).

-Your new Number one Fan (can I be both YOUR number one fan AND Bruce CAmpbell's number one fan at the same time, or do I have to alternate weeks?

-Laura from KenOsha.

Dear Laura:

I saw "Farenheit 9/11 the day it opened. I'm all for Michael Moore. He used a lot of my crew from "Thou Shalt Not Kill . . . Except" to make "Roger & Me," including Wendy Stanzler, whom I hired right out of Wayne State University to be a sound cutter, and she went on to edit "Roger & Me." She then became the editor of "Sex & the City" and actually directed one of the very last episodes.

Josh

Name: Darlene
E-mail: ***

Dear Josh:

Do you ever watch Six Feet Under? I'm curious about your take on the show...

Dear Darlene:

Never watch it, sorry.

Josh

Name: Jonathan Moody
E-mail: jondoe_555@yahoo.com

Dear Josh:

Its really cool to see that your working with Gary Jones as your special effects and Second Unit Director guy. I haven't been able to check out his movies yet. I really want to see Crocodile 2 and Mosquito. Are you gonna help out on "The Last Picture show"?
Your fan,
Jonathan

Dear Jonathan"

You mean "The Last Horror Picture Show," and he hasn't got financing for that. Gary is directing "American Black Beauty" in Bulgaria next.

Josh

Name: The Real Bob
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

I just viewed Mystic River. I really didn't think it was that great a movie. Is the difference between a bad TV cop show and a bad movie the fact that they can say 'fuck' 150 times in the movie and on TV they have to say something else? I thought Kevin Bacon was halfway good in his part, but was it Sean Penn that got the oscar? All he seemed to do was cry during the entire movie. I understand the reason for this, but as far as acting, he could have done it one and got the point across that he can be emotional, and then spared us from it for the remaining hellish two hours or the movie. I guess the ending with the plot twist was the best part of the movie, but the weird wives with their betrayals and their speeches seemed to be more of a reason not to get married, than good acting. I guess I am believing it a little bit after all. Still didn't like it. Just some random thoughts.

Dear The Real Bob:

Yeah, I thought it sucked. And Sean Pennshould've won the Wallace Beery Overacting Award (Sean, can you blubber more andf scream louder?). Kevin Bacon and Larry Fishburne's parts, as the cops that keeping pulling up in front of places, slowly getting out of the car while exchanging utterly meaningless quips, was a dreadful bore. I didn't care about any of the women, and the last scene is just garbage. Nor did I ever buy that Tim Robbins was the killer, or the twist, which was very poorly set up. On top of all that, it really looks awful, and is seriously the worst-photographed film Clint has ever made. Poorly directed, too, I might add.

Josh

Name: Keith
E-mail: Keithrobinson@krobin.freeisp.co.uk

Dear Josh,

Would you be able to tell me who i would contact with regards to optioning the rights to a book for the purposes of turning it into a screenplay? Are the rights owned by the publisher or authour?

Thanks, keep up the good work!

Regards
keith

Dear Keith:

You need to get a lawyer and have them contact the publisher.

Josh

Name: Ryan
E-mail: sned1@yahoo.com

Hi,

On your Xena end of show essay you mentioned the "Action Pack" which was a good idea. The martial arts show was "Vanishing Son" with Russel Wong, and was quite decent, till the fourth or fifth one, which was basically a rehash episode.

Will have to investigate where I can rent some of your works. Thanks for the interesting page.

Ryan

Dear Ryan:

Yes, "Vanishing Son," that's what it was. The Action Pack was a good idea and it's crazy that no one has tried it since.

Josh

Name: Diana Hawkes
E-mail: upon request

Dear Josh:

If I'm not mistaken, one can get Absinthe created from a non-toxic variety nowadays.

Don't forget to get one of those glasses that has a Absinthe resevoir ball in its stem, and a fancy Absinthe perforated spoon to do the sugar pouring ritual.
It's the elegant way to indulge in the drink.

http://www.absintheoriginals.com/

And by God, Becker surely wouldn't want to be accused of being inelegant.

Dear Diana:

I went to the first site and it's all rather interesting, I think. I'm very curious to experience the effects of this drink. So, we'll see . . .

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

Saw HAMMER 3 times, liked HAMMER, must watch 47 more times.

Dear kdn:

Tell us about it. What did you like, and what didn't you like? And thanks for buying it.

Josh

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

Josh,

Since you don't want to comment on "Hatred of a Minute", I will, since I have a few friends who worked on the film back when I lived in Michigan.

It took Kallio 8 years to finish the film, and it is truly bad. I say this with the utmost respect to Bruce who only helped get the film made.

Kallio is now in Hollywood making more bad films, but at least he is making his own stuff which you can't say for most people.

BTW, I checked that Absinthe website out mildly interested in picking up some, since it is a close cousin to a digestive called "Bitters" which is used quite often in Switzerland and other countries in Europe after a heavy meal like Fondue. (I actually picked some up when I was there in May).

The big difference is that "Bitters" contains different herbs and not Wormwood (Artemisia Absinthium). This plant is very common in Switzerland and it does have similar qualities as Marijuana.

The peculiar thing I noticed on the website was that there were two artists mentioned on the site who indulged in the stuff, Vincent Van Gogh, and, Ernest Hemingway who ended up blowing there brains out. Then I read on and one of the makers of the original recipe sold on the site did himself in too. (Which is not that uncommon if he was Swiss. The country has a high sucide rate mainly among young people. No, not Sweden, Switzerland!)

I thought that was a little interesting, but I am sure there is no connection.

Let me know how you like it.

Scott

Dear scott:

I don't suppose it will make me suicidal after one bottle. And if I could do anything as well as Van Gogh painted or Hemingway wrote, it would be worth it.

Josh

Name: Jonathan Moody
E-mail: jondoe_555@yahoo.com

Dear Josh:

Have you seen or heard of the movie, "hatred of a minute"? It's produced by Bruce and he does commentary on the DVD as well. I picked up the DVD at Best Buy today having only heard of the movie and having not seen it. It just has too many cool extras on the DVD to pass it up for 15 bucks. Lemme know if you've seen it and what you think? It's a Michigan flick so I was thinking you might have seen it.
Your fan, Jonathan

Dear Jonathan:

Yes, I've seen it; yes, I know about it; no, I don't want to comment on it.

Josh

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

Josh, just read an interesting article in usatoday about sci-fi films: http://www.usatoday.com/life/movies/news/2004-07-15-sci-fi-main_x.htm
I like the quote by Ellison: "The beauty of science fiction is each story is different. They postulate a 'what if' scenario that's logical, but the people making science fiction movies are not trained in storytelling. They don't understand science. So they make stupid, silly stuff that's been made five or six times before."
I've always loved short stories, particularly sci-fi ones. Its interesting how they tend to be very cinematic as I read them, but when they are made into films they lose almost everything they made them great as stories. Do you think that it is particularly difficult to make a good sci-fi film? or do you think that this is result of simply bad filmmakers? I recently did a sci-fi short that I think came out reasonably well, but we ended up simplifying it quite a bit in editing as far as the complexity of the science in the film. Apparently it was boring to alot of people. One thing I hate about sci-fi is when they turn into action films though, so I was trying to avoid that. Did you have any particular goals in AA as far as how to keep it about the ideas rather that people running and shooting at stuff?

Dear Jim:

The one thing I stated from the outset, when on several occasions I was informed that I was making "an effects film," was to emphatically state that I was not making an effects film, I was making a film about characters that happened to have effects in it. I told the digital effects guys that when they were on my set working with my actors, they had ten minutes. I absolutely would not spend hours on shots that were a couple of seconds long. I must say the digital effects guys were very good about following this dictum, too. But the point, as far as I'm concerned, is to concentrate on the characters and the drama in the story, and the effects will fit in, which they will. Anyway, I entirely agree with Harlan Ellison's point, and the worst offenders of making "stupid, silly" SF are comic books. They're the opposite of good science fiction, and always have been. Comic books are really SF for 8-year-olds, but by the time you're 12 you realize that the writing in comic books is just dreadful, and it's really about the drawings. And that's why comic books NEVER make good movies; they're crappy source material.

Josh

Name: Nick el Ass
E-mail: Therealnickelass@yahoo.com

Dear Josh:

To answer your question about Robert Shaw(Conductor)renowned choral music conductor who won 14 Grammy awards and recipient of 40 honorary degrees and citations.Had an active career spanning some 60 years. Some of the well known and documented achievements include first conductor to receive a Guggenheim Fellowship,the Ditson Award for service to American music,honorary doctorates from 13 colleges and universities,a Kennedy Center honoree,Musical America's Musician of the Year,He was the recipient of the first gold record for a classical recording that sold over one million copies.I do not know any of his stuff but im a big fan of classical music too.sorry to butt in i Hope this helps.


PEACE,
Nick el Ass

Dear Nick:

That's a big career, I can't believe I never heard of him. It's like there are at least four famous people named John Williams -- the film composer, the classical guitarist, and the National Book Award-winner (for his book "Augustus"), and the British actor who was in "Dial M for Murder." People also don't realize that Robert Shaw the actor was also a well-known playwright, and wrote "The Man in the Glass Booth," which was made into a film by Arthur Hiller starring Maximillian Schell.

Josh

Name: stephane burgatt
E-mail: good_ash@hotmail.com

Dear Josh:

Hi, i lead the franch fan central for Bruce Campbell. I'd like to get some informations about you alien apocalypse.
What's his budget ? Will he get a dvd distribution ? Have you got a date of distribution ? You're filming it in Bulgaria ; Bruce wasn't suppose to make is "man with the..." here too ?
Regards

Dear stephane:

The budget was $1.5 million. Yes, apparently it will get DVD distribution, at least in the U.S. Bruce is filming "Screaming Brain" in Bulgaria as we speak.

Josh

Name: Deborah
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

Actually, the star on the walk of fame for Robert Shaw is for the conductor, and not for the actor who appeared in Jaws. That's why there is a recording symbol.

Dear Deborah:

Well, that explains that. I've never heard of the conductor, Robert Shaw. Do you know anything about him?

Josh

Name: JohnnyO
E-mail:

Hi Josh,

Yes, I've tried Absinthe and I love it! It's an amazing experience to use while writing. Here is the site I buy it from in the UK--excellent stuff from the Czech Republic. They also have great accessories:

http://www.absintheoriginal.com/

Also, check out these two sites:

http://www.moderndrunkardmagazine.com/issues/11-02/11_02_absinthe.htm

and

http://www.feeverte.net/
This is a great resource for choosing the right stuff!

Cheers,
JohnnyO

P.S. If you do try it, please let me know what you think. I am sure you'll probably write an essay once you've experienced it! LOL! You'll love it. :-)

Dear JohnnyO:

I ordered a bottle. Thanks, I'll let you know what I think.

Josh

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

Josh,

I remember when "Saving Private Ryan" came out somebody asked me what I thought of it. I told them I hadn't seen the movie and didn't have to; I already knew everything I needed to know about it. Specifically, I was asked about the "ensemble" group of characters. I took a guess that they had the Jewish guy, the Italian guy, the farmer guy etc. I think I got most of them right without ever having seen a frame of the movie (I still haven't seen it). The resort to caricatures in the place of characters is, to me, the great bane of contemporary movies. I thought that "White Squall" had potential but failed in the same sort of way. "Black Hawk Down" did similar things; presented you with a bunch of faces and expected you to know what such a person would be like and why, then, you should empathize with him. The problem is that people empathize with people, not caricatures.

Somebody said recently that modern filmmakers are trying to correct their childhoods. He thought that folks like Tim Burton think back on the shows they saw as kids and think to themselves, "That's not what Batman's car would look like. I'll show them what Batman's car would really look like." Of course, that thinking fails twice; first, there is no Batman. Second, the newly realized car is no more realistic than the first; less if anything. I imagine most directors sitting around with their crew and saying, "Hey, we could do this!" (this being anything visually climactic). Their movies, driven by insulated, unjustified scenes, really are exclusively visual.

I know you're optimistic about a swing back to good writing but trends in entertainment are driven by money. Let's face it; if the average 14-28 year old has a definition for the word "plot" it usually involves a headstone and flowers. I think that well-written, well motivated movies will have to find a niche in places like A&E, HBO and the like. "Alien Apocalypse" would fall, I think, into that sort of niche-production category.

I see posted here. I'm not talking about the occassional mispelled word or misplaced tense; that can happen to anyone. As a writer yourself, you've shown remarkable restraint in responding to some of the constructions (I won't say sentences) you get sent. I know some of the grammatical errors are the conventions of email, which I still don't care for, but a lot of it seems to be a lack of language skills. Bravo to you for your silent suffering, but how about a little essay on grammer? You could hyperlink it with every reply to a poorly constructed sentence. The book "Eats, Shoots and Leaves" is doing quite well; there seems to be a market for such works. Bill Cosby seems to have touched a nerve with the subject as well. Who knows, you might even finance your next film that way.

Thanks as always,
John

Dear John:

Hey, get it all off your chest. I'm far too mad about bigger issues to be concerned with anyone else's grammer. My enraged gay friend made me watch about an hour of the congressional hearings yesterday with all of these horrible, small-minded, fundamentalist, paranoid, insecure, relegious zealots of all denominations, coming together to espouse discrimination against homosexuals in the name of god and the children. That I am any part of this group, meaning I live in the same country, disgusts me. It does give me some hope, however, that the constitutional amendment did not pass. As good old Bill Maher said (and he will thankfully be back on soon), and I paraphrase, That's what we need to do is to put a new part in the constitution about weddings, then we'll put in another one about birthdays and anniversaries.

Josh

Name: JOhnnyO
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

Have you ever tried absinthe? Do you use any particular intoxicants to help enhance your writing? What music do you listen to when you write? And, what time of day is best for you to write? Do you watch a couple of movies beforehand? I'm really interested in your writing setup.

Best of luck to ya,
JohnnyO

Dear JohnnyO:

No, I've never tried absinthe, have you? Is it any good? I hear it's slightly hallucinogenic. Bruce and I just asked if they had absinthe in a bar in Bulgaria, but they didn't. Meanwhile, I'm a pretty big fan of intoxicants, and other writing enhancers, like caffeine, nicotine, and THC (I'm against cocaine and meth-amphetamines for writing because they trick you into believing you're witty or funny when you're absolutely not). Honestly, the best drug of the bunch, which no one wants to come out and say at this point in time, is nicotine. I seriously believe that nicotine is the most creative drug. The wonderful writer, Colleen McCullough, who wrote the recent brilliant series of books about the fall of the Roman republic, is going blind and cigarettes aren't helping (nor are they the cause), but she won't stop smoking because she said, "The words are in the cigarettes." It's horrifying, but true. But I also like pot a lot and I always have. As the comedian Gallagher used to say, "I should be able to write off dope as a business expense." Anyway, music-wise, I switch back and forth between the jazz and the classical DJ-less satellite radio stations all day. Frequently, around 4:00 PM, I enjoy listening to very loud rock & roll or Motown. I like writing most early in the morning, before the sun has risen. And I never watch movies in the morning, or before I write. I only watch movies at night after work.

Josh

Name: Carly Spade
E-mail: XvPanteraX@aol.com

Dear Josh:

Hello, my name is Carly Spade and I run a Bruce Campbell website. Currently I am trying to find people that have worked with Bruce to agree to a simple e-mail interview so that we may find out more about them, and more about the truth of what it's like to work with Bruce Campbell. So, I was wondering if you wouldn't mind answering a few questions about your work in general with Bruce.

Thank You
Carly

PS- My site is: http://www.the-bruce.cjb.net

Dear Carly:

Sure, no problem, send the questions.

Josh

Name: Nate
E-mail: vlad1377@aol.com

Mr. Becker,

You spoke of the lack of character development in the first act of movies a couple of posts ago. How much of that do you feel is the assumption by the writer or director or whomever else might have influence of the outcome of a film that the audience will become attached to characters because they are supposed to??? Thanks,
Nate

Dear Nate:

I don't think it's based on that, because that assumes an understanding of what an act one is. I think everybody is too paranoid and impatient to set up the characters anymore, they all want to go right to the main action, which is act two. There's no time to meet the soldiers, we just have to go directly to battle -- like "Black Hawk Down" for instance -- so instead of it being about people I know getting killed, which would matter to me, it's just a bunch of guys wearing camouflage who are nothing more cannon fodder, and Somalians who mean even less than that. But I think it was the distributors who bullied the producers into believing that movies must begin with action, which is just wrong. If the audience will ever be patient with you, it's at the beginning. The audience expects to be set up, and if you go directly to the main action you've failed in your responsibility as a writer. The number one most important thing that a writer does is to make the viewer care about what they're watching. Period. And that's what act one is entirely about, and that's what almost every script immediately fails at now.

Josh

Name: Terry Suggs
E-mail: jedisuggs

Dear Josh:

First off I respect your opinion. All exepct why anybody would vote for Bush. Clinton recently credited Bush's efforts on terrorism and the operation in Iraq. I agree that if our intelligence was from Putin and Russia we should have said that.

Now under a democrat we would have a better economy maybe but thyen would we not also have partial birth abortion which kills thousands a year? Under Bush do we not have a bigger budget for the space program? I believe it was JFK a democrat who pushed for the space program.

With all this said I hope that you are not going to respond harshly and if it sounds like I am that is not my intentions.

PS. Love your films.

Dear Terry:

Hey, you're allowed your opinion, even if I don't entirely agree. I think George Bush has been the worst thing ever for terrorism by invading Iraq -- now terrorists get to kill Americans every day. We had no reason invading Iraq and almost nothing but bad things have come out of it. Catching Saddam may have been a good thing, but at least he knew how to run that country and they weren't in a state of war or rebellion when we attacked, and now the situation is much, much worse. And since Saddam wasn't doing anything to us, it certainly isn't worth the thousands of lives that have been lost catching him. As for abortion, partial birth or otherwise, I'm for it. There's more than enough unwanted kids already.

Josh

Name: Mel
E-mail: **********************************

Hey Josh, how are you? I hope all the post production is going well. Did you send Bruce my love like i asked you to, cos he doesnt reply to his e-mails like you do!! (wink! wink!) dont get me wrong i think hes a great bloke and i know he is very busy but its a shame that he doesnt have time to reply. :( so have you got any more projects lined up? Loadsa Love from Mel. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
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Dear Mel:

Nope, nothing else lined up at the moment. There's still post-production to do on this last film, though.

Josh

Name: Brett
E-mail: greene_chs@hotmail.com

Josh:

You know as well as any filmmaker or director that sometimes a film is as good as its parts would allow. A good premise can be shot to hell by a faulty script and poor casting choices can mince your words to an unrecognizable state. Given your distaste for so many recent hit films, what would you do to change them (other than a need for structure, which you fully endorse). Specific techniques to specific films would help. (ie. while the cinematography in Road to Perdition was excellent, the story veered off in the end, and the actor playing Mike Jr. was unrefined. How to change
this?)

Dear Brett:

Look, I review the movies I review, and I'm happy to specifically discuss any film I've seen, but I don't really care for giant generalities. On a basic level, however, the writing in most contemporary films -- and that means structure, characterization, motivation, let alone irony or any level of subtext -- is at an all-time low. For instance, I just watched a reasonable, serious, dramatic. fairly new film, "White Squall," (1996), directed by Ridley Scott and starring Jeff Bridges. It's based on a true story about a group of teenagers who go to school on a sailing ship in 1961, run by captain Bridges, and the severe trauma they end up going through. This is a real film, with a large budget, that has to be looked at on rational, realistic, adult level, and it's still not written very well. It's got a particularly weak act one (which is a common contemporary problem), very little character development, and ultimately darn little empathy is created. And this is certainly one of the better films I've seen recently. How's that?

Josh

Name: Jason
E-mail: whitja01@gettysburg.edu

Dear Josh:

You didn't like The Big Lebowski. You didn't like Walter. I don't like Xena or Hercules. I doubt i will ever think of alien apocolypse again. Unless I watch Apocolypse and somehow think of a cheap sci fi rip off, than i might think of alien apocolypse. Just becuase I haven't seen it doens't mean that i can't rip on it. a filmmaker that doens't like the big lebowski is someone whose movies i will stay away from. The rules before submitting comments are funny as well, i don't want a job working for you, we wouldn't agree on anything, if i had a script i sure as hell wouldn't give it to you to read, and looking over it i guess i need to ask a question. Well, why do you have a website, nobody cares what you have to say, and the 93099 hits your website have are all from people searchinig for the big lebowski and stumbling onto your website.

Dear Jason:

I appreciate your sharing the criteria of all critical judgement with me -- whether one likes "The Big Lebowski" or not. If that is indeed your pinnacle and apotheosis of all artistic achievment, then you're simply an idiot and have no place in this discussion in the first place.

Josh

Name: Makayla
E-mail: makayla_98@hotmail.com

Dear Josh:

Hey, I was just wondering what all information you had on Rudolph "Rudy" Ising, the founder of Looney Tunes. He's my Great, Great, Great, Uncle, and I have been looking for some kind of biography or something on him, but i'm not having very much luck!! So, if you could email me some kind of information or a website about him, i would really appreciate it!! Thanks again!! Makayla

Dear Makayla:

I'm sorry, but I have no information on Rudolph Ising, other than I admired his animation when I was a kid. He used to do all of the animated short subjects for MGM in the early 1930s, and they were just beautiful. He was as good, or better, than every other animator working, but his rep hasn't held up.

Josh

Name: John Rambo
E-mail: thisisjohnrambo@yahoo.com

Dear Josh,

I'm sorry you don't like superheroes and feel like they are only for kids. Well, I understand your sentiment, but I don't really see superhero films in the same way. Just because someone wears a leotard or red underwear in a movie doesn't automatically make their character or the film unworthy in my opinion. It is the fact that they are a hero that appeals to me, that they are willing to do what's right and make sacrifices, and to stand up for a good cause. I think Christopher Reeve once said a hero is an ordinary person who does extraordinary things under extraordinary circumstances. I like that definition. I think it can apply to Spiderman well- he is an ordinary person who happens to develop super powers if you will, but that is not the only focus. It is what he does with them and the human side of the story. As soon as he became depressed and tired his powers faded, but when he was motivated to save his love Mary Jane they returned. Superman, despite his great powers, is in some ways an ordinary person in extraordinary circumstances as well. So I don't think the fact that these particular heroes wear costumes and can do things most people can't automatically disqualifies them and their films as childish or unworthy. It is the fact that they are a hero that is appealing. I know you like Ian Fleming's James Bond and I like him a great deal as well. He is a hero, or an anti-hero, and fits the description of more or less an ordinary person in extraordinary circumstances, who manages to draw up in himself an extraordinary strength and perseverence in extraordinary circumstances. I think Timothy Dalton described him that way.

So I understand you might think that superheroes are childish but I think if you could give them another look in terms of being heroes and the stories that they are in you might find something you like. There is a little of all of us in these heroes. And while I understand you can't believe a man can fly, well, I think if you look at superheroes in these terms you can have fun.

Anyway, I was going to ask, since I know you do like heroes like James Bond and Rocky, and they are human, could you accept that sometimes these characters might do things that may seem superhuman at times? What is the distinction for you between heroes and superheroes?

Oh and that is okay if you don't know if Lucy is a Stallone fan. I thought she might be because in one of her interviews she mentions his porn film, it's now named The Italian Stallion. And have you seen the Tiki jewelry she wears? That is very cool and sexy, she is so extremely sexy and beautiful I love her very much and am completely in love with her. Rambo wears something similar (a necklace) in Rambo II, it's also green and may be made out of jade. Very cool.

Thanks,

John

Dear John:

What's ordinary about a guy who can shoot webs out of his hands and climb skyscrapers? Nothing. A hero is Audie Murphy, a dufus kid from Texas who was such a dolt he could barely get through basic training, then became the biggest hero of WWII. If you have super powers you are not an ordinary person, you're a fictional comic book superhero. And James Bond in almost every movie bores me to tears with all of his super gadgets, fighting super criminals. I'm sorry but it's all garbage as far as I'm concerned. When Bond was a regular old secret agent fighting regular old bad humans in the books, I was interested. Comic book superheroes and the movie version of James Bond are moronic and aimed at kids and stupid people, and since that's what most of the world is populated with, I understand why this crap is popular. But none of it appeals to me. And I certainly don't need it explained to me, but thanks anyway.

Josh

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

Dear Josh,

I remember back in the early days of this site you'd occasionally get idiots who would write in to bash your for one reason or another...and then a dozen times that many fans would reply, pointing out how stupid the basher was. In more recent years, we are more likely to sit back and watch you skewer these people on your own..... but the support is still there, big guy. So ignore "Royler" - probably just a disgruntled fan who stalks...errr...visits your site to take potshots in retaliation for the WWF-parody in "Real Stories of the Highway Patrol" ..... or maybe that was some other series you worked on that they're disgruntled about. The only resentment I see is from people who can't even get jobs working on things like "Alien Apocalypse," and can't get their "opinons" published anywhere, and so take it out on you. Either way, pay no attention to the dickhead behind the attitude - you have no idea how many people (who may never bother to write in) appreciate your work, and your willingness to be so responsive to your fans.

Quick question - tell us about the American expatriate community in Bulgaria. Do people like your DP David Worth actually live over there now, since there seems to be a good of work going on? Or do they just fly in for jobs as you did? Oh, and how would you describe the countryside there? Forests like Oregon and Washington?

Thanks,

August

Dear August:

Royler has written in before, and others have written in about this person -- apparently a psychotic, disgruntled fan. Still, I try to answer all the questions to the best of my limited ability. Also, I do fly in the face of the consensus, so I must expect some response.

There really wasn't that much of an American expatriate thing happening in Bulgaria. All of the American department heads on the film live in America and just fly in for the shoots, except the 1st AD, who was married to a Bulgarian gal and lived there. A couple of the actors I hired were also expatriate Americans, most of them were formerly in the Peace Corps. I know an FX guy who moved there, too. Mostly, though, everyone commutes.

Josh

Name: Nick el Ass
E-mail: therealnickelass@yahoo.com

hey Josh,

I recently read this article "Sam Raimi wants to document a millennium."I think its pretty interesting the idea of time-lapse over a millennium if you shoot one frame a 24th of a second of film each day. that a decade would blow by in two and a half minutes and a century would run 25 minutes.A full 1,000 years of film would last just over four hours.what is your opinion on this if you have one. http://www.cnn.com/2004/SHOWBIZ/Movies/06/29/film.raimi.centurycam.ap/index.html

Dear Nick:

It seems impracticable. Also, speeded up that fast it would sort of just be a blur. What you want is a shot of a dress store, like "The Time Machine."

Josh

Name: Sean Bieri
E-mail: sbieri@metrotimes.com

Mr. Becker,

Metro Times is running a story on independent filmmakers this week, and as part of the story we're running a list of five indy films recommended by the owner of Thomas Video in Royal Oak. "Lunatics" was one of his picks.

Would you mind if we ran the photo of Bruce Campbell and Ted Raimi from your site to accompany the list? We'd credit your site (or the photographer if you prefer). Unfortuanately this story only got laid out late last night and we go to press later tonight, so please respond soon! Thanks

-Sean Bieri

Dear Sean:

Go ahead, use anything you want.

Josh

Name: Jo
E-mail: jo.field@ntlworld.com

hey there Josh, long time no question!!
I was just wondering which of the films that you have made had the biggest buget? and was this one your fav? How do you go about raising funds for your films, is it all totally from investers/ does this vary from film to film? And finally have you got any more pictures ready to post from your filming on Alien Apocalypse...I cant wait to see more!!

Keep up the good work

Loadsa Luv

JO xx

Dear Jo:

"Alien Apocalypse" was co-financed by SciFi Channel and the executive producer. This film had a $1.5 million budget, but a million bucks of it was fees and overhead, leaving only a half million to actually make the film, which is why it was shot in Bulgaria. I've never really had more than a half a million bucks to shoot anything. Was this film my fav? Not necessarily. "If I Had a Hammer" meant more to me, and has more to say. "Running Time" makes a bigger visual statement. But I think "Alien Apocalypse" turned out pretty well, is quite entertaining, and isn't exactly like everything else, not that it's masterpiece of originality, either. Meanwhile, I'm still waiting on more photos.

Josh

Name: Royler
E-mail: Royler20@aol.com

Dear Josh:

I admit to being a glutton for punishment - revisiting this page is like going back to the site of a train crash.

Now you're denouncing the spectacle of comic books, Becker? Did someone fail to clue you in to the fact that "Hercules" and "Xena" were nothing more than funnybooks at 24fps? Both shows were silly, shallow, and hyperactive, with characters doing physically impossible things and having all the depth and motivation of your average leotard-clad superperson.

The only difference between those series and "Spider-Man" is that you're incredibly bitter over not being involved in the latter. Your taste seems to disregard itself when it comes to putting food on your table. Maybe that's human nature: I find it hypocritical and shameless.

When you're not busy editing your magnum opus "Alien Apocalypse," try understanding that badmouthing an entire medium based on a few dumb characters is like chiding the film industry for vomiting up chum like...oh, "Alien Apocalypse"?

"Maus" is a 'comic book' that happened to win the Pulitzer Prize. Numerous others harbor more talent and storytelling ability than you could ever hope to possess. Best of luck with your next epic. Be sure to keep us posted, since this site is the only place anyone would ever hear of it.

Dear Royler:

I'm so chastised I can barely speak. First of all, I'm not dissing the whole form of comic books, just the Marvel, DC superhero comic books, which I find idiotic and worthless, and bad science fiction. Were Herc and Xena comparable? I'd say so, but I didn't create either one of them. If I work as a clerk at Wal-Mart am I personally responsible for the exploitation of Chinese slave labor? And since you haven't seen "Alien Apocalypse" yet, it may be better than you imagine, or maybe not. But to explain for the thousandth time, whatever films I am able to get made are not my comparison to what I think is good. I have never said that what I make as a filmmaker is setting the standard for what's good. But my taste in films is quite another thing, and I'm absolutely allowed to be as discerning and critical as I care to be, based on the films I've seen. My being a filmmaker does not negate my opinion as a film watcher. And though you and many others will never accept this, I do not hold the slightest iota of bitterness or envy for my friend's success -- he's worked hard and deserves it, and it just so happens that his taste coincides with the public's taste at this time. But that means nothing to me. I love good movies, and I disdain the bad ones. Regarding "Maus," it may well have won the Pulitzer Prize, but it's still not very good. As a guy with three cats I resent that the Nazis were all cats -- I like cats better than mice. In fact, I hate mices to pieces. Since I collect the Pulitzer Prize-winning novels you can take my word that the Pulitzer committee is only right about half the time, at best.

Josh

Name: The Real Bob
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

Congratulations on completing the Alien Apocalypse project. I'll be looking forward to seeing it whenever it is broadcast.

In reading some of the posts I started thinking about your comments on the '4 star' system that is used by movie reviewers and how you pointed out it doesn't make sense to equate movies like Cider House Rules and The Godfather. I basically agree with you. Few of the movies in recent years seem to be 4 star quality if the benchmarks are movies like The Godfather or Casablanca.

So doesn't it seem that the explanation is one of marketing. After all, movie reviewers are part of the industry's marketing arm. A certain quota of movies are expected to be 4 star 3 star etc. within a certain period. So if the quota is one 4 star every two years or two 4 stars a year or whatever, that is a foregone conclusion, and that is what is going to happen. Another thing is that these star ratings get revised over time, losing stars or gaining stars depending on how current generation of reviewers feel about them.

Something else that I have been thinking about, is why does there seem to be almost a taboo about comparing the quality and entertainment value of TV productions to movie productions. There have been single episodes of TV series with more entertainment value than many feature movies. Also many of the old mini-series certainly exceeded the entertainment value of today's movies. I am trying to think of a good example, but I think that the point is that with the budgets involved in making a movie the industry would never allow any movie to be reviewed in a way to seem lower in quality than a TV production.

Also, I don't know if you have heard or are interested, but I read that Judgment at Nuremberg is being released on DVD around September 5.

Dear The Real Bob:

I have "Judgement at Nuremburg" on video tape and I probably watch it every two years, so it's probably worth having it on DVD. The issue, in my mind, regarding reviewing and rating movies is, are you grading on a curve? "Cider House Rules" may well be a 4-star movie compared with the films of the past ten years, but it's really about a 2 1/2-star movie compared with all movies, and that's my comparison. It's like when "Gladiator" came out and everybody was raving about it, except me. I kept saying but it's a half-assed version of "Spartacus," and I kept getting the same response, "Oh, you can't compare it to 'Spartacus,' that's an old movie." Yeah? Why not? Did they have a recipe for good movies in 1960 that's been lost? It seems so. And as far as just giving out a certain number of 4-star ratings every year, even old Leonard Maltin has only given one 4-star rating in the past five years, "Cider House Rules," which is bogus. I seriously don't believe there has been a 4-star movie since "The Unforgiven" in 1992.

Josh

Name: Diana Hawkes
E-mail: upon request

Dear Josh:

So how are those additional snapshots of Renee and Bruce on the set coming along? We're hungry for 'em out here, maaan.

Not that a photo of a yuck-toter isn't great and all...

Dear Diana:

I wrote to Bruce's wife, Ida, and asked for her pictures, but I haven't heard back from her yet. She was off traveling around Europe while Bruce was shooting and I'm not sure she's home yet.

Josh

Name: Larry
E-mail:

Heya Josh. Was there ever a time in your life you suffered from writers block? If so, what did you do to cure yourself from it.

Dear Larry:

"Writer's block" is an issue of perspective and point of view. If you have no stories to write and your mind is complete blank, then I suppose you have writer's block. If, however, you have stories and none of them is really turning you on and you're trying to figure out a new one, that's not writer's block, that's pre-production -- conceiving the stories is as important as writing them. The point is to not get panicked between stories. If you really are a writer, you'll come up with another story, or you'll go back to an old one, or you'll rework an old one into a new one.

Josh

Name: DS
E-mail:

Hello Josh,

The board has been discussing Bush off and on for a while now. Well, today news broke out relating to Bush: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/3880141.stm

I believe it's incredible that they believe anyone will buy this story or even take it remotely seriously, it almost sounds like something from a bad B movie.

Dear DS:

You find it surprising that his incriminating records were magically destroyed? So were the police records of his cocaine bust. His dad was the head of the CIA and any records he wanted destroyed were destroyed. But you don't need those microfilms records to know that Bush, jr. got into the National Guard ahead of about 100,000 people who were signed up before him, or that he got out months early to attend Harvard, which ain't kosher, either.

Josh

Name: MICHAEL R. RILEY
E-mail: MIKERILEY16RE@HOTMAIL.COM

MR. BECKER,

I LOOKED AT YOUR LIST OF MOVIES THAT YOU HAVE SEEN BUT I WOULD LIKE TO RECCOMMEND A WAR MOVIE THATS NOT ON YOUR LIST. ITS THE TRUE STORY OF GUY GABALDON. ITS CALLED "HELL TO ETERNITY" AND WAS MADE IN 1960. IT STARS JEFFREY HUNTER IN THE ROLE OF GUY. I'M A FORMER MARINE AND MOST OF THE MOVIES I'VE SEEN ABOUT MARINES SUCK. THIS IS THE BEST MARINE MOVIE EVER MADE WITH MAYBE THE POSSIBLE EXCEPTION OF "THE SANDS OF IWO JIMA". THE COMBAT SCENES ARE EXCELLANT CONSIDERING THE TIMES. ONE THING THAT ALWAYS PUZZLED ME ABOUT SAM PECKINPAUGH (WILD BUNCH) WHO WAS A FORMER MARINE WAS THAT HE NEVER MADE ANY MOVIES ABOUT MARINES. I ALWAYS THOUGHT THAT WAS KIND OF ODD.

Dear Michael:

That's not the list of the movies I've seen, that's the list of the films I like. I've seen over five times that many films, although I must admit I haven't seen "Hell to Eternity." Sam Peckinpah did make a film about German soldiers, "Cross of Iron," and he's got the wild bunch dressed as marines at the beginning of "The Wild Bunch." You should read my script, "Devil Dogs." Other good movies about the Marines are: "Pride of the Marines" (1945) with John Garfield, "Battle Cry" (1955) from Leon Uris's novel (he wrote the script), "What Price, Glory," (1926), and "The Big Parade" (1925).

Josh

Name: Randy
E-mail: randys7@aol.com

Josh,

I noticed you aren't into films marketed to young kids, like Spiderman 2. What age group is your new Scifi Alien film geared towards? Being an adult and all, did you have fun writing it? Or did you just write it to be marketable?

Randy

Dear Randy:

No, when I wrote it fourteen years ago I thought it was a good idea. I still think it's kind of a good idea, the Earth being taken over by alien termites stripping the planet of all of its wood, and an astronaut returning from deep space to lead the slave revolt of the future. It's sort of silly, I admit, but it's still a legitimate science fiction story. Comic books are bad science fiction, and always were. If you want to be a science fiction writer you'd have to do better than a kid is bitten by an atomic spider so he becomes a spider, even if it was 75 years ago. But comic books never demanded good stories, which is why they never make good movies.

Josh

Name: John
E-mail:

Mr. Becker,

Thank you very much for your prompt reply.

Here's something else I've been pondering: a movie like "Ghostbusters" has relatively low standards for itself, since it only aims to entertain and make people laugh. Yet, one might argue that for what it aims to do, it succeeds, so it deserves 5 out of 5 stars.

Or a film like "Alien," which chiefly intends to take the audience on a scary thrill ride, does not have the highest standards for itself. Yet, one might argue that it succeeds in being a thrill ride, so a critic might give it 5 out of 5 stars.

Yet, a classic like "The Third Man" certainly is an artistic success, and it justly receives the highest rating as well. But how could movies like "Ghostbusters," "Alien" and "The Third Man" all get the same star rating, despite the fact they may have succeeded in what standards, high or low, they set for themselves?

This question came to my mind when I saw the wildly positive reviews of "Spider-man 2" that proclaimed, "Best comic book movie ever!" (i.e., it achieved its low standards), but then gave the film its highest rating, putting it in the same class as true film classics. This also relates to your correspondence with Leonard Maltin about giving "Pulp Fiction" the same rating as "The Godfather."

Can movies be judged just on how well they achieve their goal, and not on how high they set that goal? What is your opinion on this?

Thanks again for considering to address these questions, it's very much appreciated.

John

Dear John:

And it's a very good question, too. You can only succeed as far as you reach. If you're not trying to make a great movie then you won't make one. My point to Maltin was that as good as a McDonald's can ever be, it's still a McDonald's and will never be Le Dome (a fancy restaurant in LA). In a book of ratings, it's a travesty to give both "The Godfather" and "Pulp Fiction" 3 and-a-half stars. First of all, if "The Godfather" doesn't get 4 stars, what does? (For Maltin it's nonsense like "Cider House Rules," "Schindler's List" and "The Deer Hunter"). To me "Pulp Fiction" is much more comparable to a film like "Billy Jack," which was very popular in it's day, but isn't actually very good (although I'll personally take "Billy Jack" any day of the week). As for "Ghostbusters," it's kind of funny, but it's not that funny. And by the time all of the effects come in and it goes into montage/music video scenes, it's not funny at all.

Josh

Name: Warren Serkin
E-mail: **********************

Dear Josh:

I've been thinking about your comments regards the "art" of modern movie making (or total lack of it) and have unfortunately come to the conclusion that the same statements can be made about every form of present day entertainment. All surface flash, hype and "Image" with no substance. It's all designed for the basest instincts and so that you don't have to "think" about what you're seeing or listening to. I have grave doubts that we'll ever get back to meaningful entertainment.

Dear Warren:

Everything moves in cycles and so will this, probably. We can only hope because movies are really awful now; the worst they've ever been in the over 100 year history of motion pictures.

Josh


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