Q & A    Archive
Page 124

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

Dear Josh:

<<One of my favorite movies is "Remember the Night" (1940)>>
You just won me over with that freaking review, and I pawned a lot of bad movies to get it... and I find out at the mall that the movie isn't on DVD and the VHS was cancelled... son of a bitch!!! Dammit!!! I settled for NIGHT OF THE HUNTER, DEATH WISH, DR STRANGELOVE, DELIVERANCE, and THE KING OF COMEDY, SUDDENLY, AT WAR WITH THE ARMY, and some Sammy Davis Jr Western.. No Lolita, Paths of Glory, Play Misty For Me, Arsenic and Old Lace, Clockwork Orange. Dammit. What about THE GREAT RACE and DIVORCE AMERICAN STYLE, are those any good? (Dick Van Dyke in a divorce comedy... sounds interesting). Also, I just noticed in THE SHINING, some of the aerial shots, you can see the blades of the helicopter (notibly, the first shot of the overlook)

Dear kdn:

When I was a kid I liked "The Great Race," but by the time I was a teenager I realized that it all sort of falls on it's face. It's way too long and the pie fight isn't funny. I haven't seen "Divorce American Style" in 30 years or more, but I do recall being amused. Meanwhile, if you look for things like helicopter blades in aerial shots you'll generally find them. As a filmmaker I can't help but look into any shiny surface in a film, like the sides of cars, to see the reflection of the film crew, which is frequently there. Also, boom microphones dropping into the shot, or the shadow of the boom on trees and things. You have to just ignore that crap because it's ubiquitous.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

It's interesting to go back a few weeks before I started posting and see the threads. So I'll put in my two cents so I feel I've been vindicated.

POLITICS: The Greeks had it right - representative government isn't the best solution, but better than what we have. Correct me, was it Wallace or Reagan who wanted to use Springsteen's Born in the USA for their campaign? That should show you just how pointed and intelligent US leaders are. Glad to be Canadian, I say!

GAY MATTERS.: Ever since Kubrick cut the Oysters & Clams scene from Spartacus, there's been a heat running underground about gay matters. Who the hell cares if gays and lesbians marry? It's been pointed out to me as a legal matter, but I've always felt it's civilly motivated. If you're husband is in the hospital, go and look after him damnit and sign the life insurance away! ;) (Excuse the attempt at humour -- it's actually closer to home. A few gay friends of mine are considering marriage...again, glad to be Canadian!)

THE PASSION.: Jews killed Christ? Consider if you will, that Christianity is based upon a self-fulfilling prophecy. I, Christ, beget Christianity in the agreement whereby I am killed. You can only save the world if you're slaughtered, boy. Alright, where do I sign up? Christ had to die for "our" sins and someone had to do it. But if you're only indirectly responsible for salvation, you're still the red-hand of justice, I say. So go out on the street and cheer, "yes, I did it. I kill Jesus!...praise me!"

CATCH ME IF YOU CAN.: Light fare, but I enjoyed the hell out of the movie. It's a rare role where I like DiCaprio as the lead. Hanks is more than suitable. He always manages to rise up the material. His character is "paaaypah-thin" and yet, it works. I only wish the damn thing wasn't so long.
Gripe 1: all new Spielberg movies have to be 2 1/2 hours long. I like some of them, but even a mediocre movie doesn't have to be that damn long.
Gripe 2: Martin Scorcese's love of DiCaprio. He's putting him in the Aviator and a new flick, too.

Knock knock
Who's there?
Fuck you, that's who - Catch Me........

Dear Greene:

My, but aren't we loquacious today. It was Reagan who quoted "Born in the USA," then got hollered at by Bruce. Of course, Ronald Reagan, that poor schmuck, never listened to the lyrics or he wouldn't have used the song. Regarding gay marriage, this whole issue is just a way for the fundamentalist religious bigots to have a unifying cause, which is to have someone they can all happily discrimate against. Marriage is not a government issue, and should be left to religious organizations. The government should only be in the civil union business, and that should go for anyone who cares to want it. As Bill Maher said, if we put marriage into the constitution, what comes next? Birthdays and anniversaries? Nuff said about "The Passion." "Catch Me if You Can" sucked. Leonardo looks and acts too young and I never for single second believed he could fly a plane or anything else. And Tom Hank's Boston accent is an embarrassment. Not to mention the film is minimally an hour too long.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

Back into the video vault once more, but just briefly.
From the Soderbergh Solaris: (and this is open to anyone, btw)
Are we real? Is our reality concrete or as the movie suggests, are events dependent on our memories of them? If you and I see a baseball game, but in 10 years we forget, for us, did the event occur?
Just something to ponder over your morning coffee. For if you'll recall, the apparition was concerned she wasn't human, only a movie.
Solaris wasn't very good, but at least it opened up this can of worms.

Dear Greene:

This is like philosophy for teens. By the time you're 35 or so nihilism becomes a silly concept.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

Again, from the vault. This catching up I've beendoing has been fascinating but tiring.
A while back I saw a good little flick called Igby Goes Down. Jeff Goldblum and Kieran Culkin hashed out some fine performances and the story is a little off beat but not quite a jem. Have you seen it? It smacks of Salinger. I wish someone would have the balls to make a Catcher in the Rye, go to JD's house and say "you're right, you're not responsible for the world's problems. Mark David Chapman was an asshole and Catcher was pretty damn good."
The only this is this: it's a good portrayal of a teenage boy. I'm 20 and it rings pretty true. But quitessential, not so sure.
Back to the vault.......

Dear Greene:

I haven't seen "Igby." I'm perfectly happy that no one has made a crappy film version of "Catcher in the Rye," or any of Salinger's other books, too. And quite frankly, I think his Glass family stories would make a better film than "Catcher," and I'm glad that no one has fucked those up yet, either.

Josh

Name: Calvin Gray
E-mail:

Josh -

Hey now. Sure, I'm all for booting Spielberg and Lucas to the rest home with all deliberate speed. But at least give Coppola one last shot to get his "Megalopolis" project made, before putting him to pasture. I know the title sounds silly as hell, but there's something about it that I'm itching to see him do, at least as a return to his grand-scale storytelling. I'm sort of hoping it could be his "Touch of Evil" - the sudden return to form, after pumping out years of dreck. After that, he has my blessing to fade away from the industry altogether, and stay out.

- Cal

Dear Calvin:

Hope springs eternal, I guess. In my humble opinion, the chances of Francis Coppola making a good film at this late date is zero. He had completely shot his wad by 1980, and that was a quarter of a century ago. Not to mention ten tons of pasta, and 100,000 gallons of vino. Coppola would be better off going into business selling shade. Oh, and Martin Scorsese can be picked up on the way to the home, too.

Josh

Name: Darryl Mesaros
E-mail: simonferrer102@msn.com

Dear Josh,

I guess when it comes to politics, we'll just have to agree to disagree.
In lighter news, I've been loaning my copies of your films to a friend at work, and he was quite taken with them, particularly TSNKE and RUNNING TIME. I'll have to dig out my VHS copy of IF I HAD A HAMMER and loan him that next. Any plans yet on releasing that? It would seem to me that it could get a DVD or cable release at the very least; far worse films than HAMMER regularly show up on the video store shelves and on SHOWTIME or HBO, so why not your film?
Speaking of film releases, are there any plans for an audio commentary on the upcoming ALIEN APOCALYPSE DVD? I really enjoyed the commentaries you and Bruce did on TSNKE and RUNNING TIME, and look forward to another one.
Speaking of Bruce, I bought the DVD release of BUBBA HOTEP recently, and thought it was very good. It was funny in all the right places, and the subtext about Elvis' redemption was a little misplaced in a horror movie, but oddly touching. Incidentally, you were right about Bruce's Elvis impersonation; it was creepy how spot on he was with it.

Darryl

Dear Darryl:

He made me forget that he was anyone other than Elvis and I know Bruce. Still, that act 3 is a real problem. There are no discussions as yet about commentary tracks for AA. And no news on "Hammer."

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

I was just reading your treatment for "Cascade Effect" and I was wondering how do you do such a good job on the treatment? Like, how long does it normally take you to write it? And most of the lines you use in the treatment do you put in to the first draft? I can't wait to see it though it seems like a killer sci-fi flick.

Btw... I was watching "Hollywood Ending" last night. I don't think Woody Allen's really lost his touch. He can still make me crack up and he tells good original stories. One of the better writers still working in Hollywood.

Your fan,
Jonathan

Dear Jonathan:

You're obviously a nice guy, and it's very sweet that you're being so nice to Woody Allen. But he needs to retire, immediately. Every movie he's made in the last ten years has been dreadful, and "Hollywood Ending" is not only no exception, it may be the very worst of the bunch. And when we send the bus from the Motion Picture Retirement Home, it can pick up Spielberg and Lucas and Coppola on the way.

Regarding writing treatments, it's not the length of time it takes to write it, per se, it's the length of time it takes to think it up. I got the idea for "Cascade Effect" when I lived in LA, about three years ago. I kicked it around a little bit at the time, then moved on. Perhaps a year later, when I was living in OR, I began thinking about it again, and I suddenly understood who the lead character would be, and that's when I wrote the treatment, which took about two weeks, I suppose. Then I didn't touch it again for over two years, and I just wrote it into a script now. Many stories, I've found, need a fermentation period, and it's difficult to know how long it will take.

Josh

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

Josh

I mean to correct you there--I haven't seen many MODERN movies with good structure. I love To Kill A Mockingbird and 12 Angry Men, after all. It's just that lately the films I find interesting either don't hold up for all three acts, or have a slush effect (2 acts are indistinguishable). In the case of Penn's The Pledge, I found it an interesting character portrayal, but found that Acts 2 and 3 slid together like mud.
I wanted to open something up to the forum as well and just remembered it: would some films, unable to sustain 90 minutes, be better as shorts? Shorts are like short stories to me...short, sweet and properly written as satisfying per word as a novel. In fact, I think Philip K. Dick's Recall Mechanism would make a very cool noir piece.

-BG

Dear Greene:

You've got the same gripe I do, which is that movies are poorly written these days. Some people would like me to believe that the form has moved to a higher level than the films of the '50s, '60s & '70s, and I absolutely believe it's slid down to a much lower level. The very best movies these days are actually mediocre at best, and the average movie is complete shit, which didn't used to be the case. As for short films, yeah, you can really do anything you want since it's not a serious form. I mean, who cares what you do in a short?

Josh

Name: Daniel B.
E-mail:

Dear Josh: What do you think of Charlie Kaufman as a writer? I think he is very talented, and a breath of fresh air compared to most gun-for-hire screenwriters such as Steve Zaillian and Eric Roth.

Dear Daneil B.:

This has nothing to do with Charlie Kaufman, but it does have to do with screenwriting, and it also follows up on the Fred MacMurray thread that recently came up. One of my favorite movies is "Remember the Night" (1940), starring Fred MacMurray and Barbara Stanwyck, with an absolutely brilliant script by Preston Sturges (it was directed by Mitchell Leisen). Barbara Stanwyck is a kleptomaniac who steals a diamond bracelet the day before Christmas Eve, gets caught and is arraigned. Fred MacMurray is a prosecutor that specializes in prosecuting women. And as he explains to a young lawyer, prosecuting women, particularly attractive women, not to mention right before Christmas, is very difficult. MacMurray jumps on a technicality in her testimony and gets the case put over until after the holidays. The judge and all of the other lawyers congratulate Fred and brilliant legal manuever, and the bailiffs take Stanwyck away to jail. As she passes Fred MacMurray she says, "Thanks, I get to spend Christmas in jail. Merry Christmas." MacMurray suddenly feels horrible, and as he leaves the courtroom he passes Big Mike, the bail bondsman. He asks Mike if he just saw the good-looking gal that got taken away, and Mike nods and grins. MacMurray asks Mike to bail out Stanwyck. Mike grins and says, "Sure, it's on me. Merry Christmas." Meanwhile, Fred MacMurray is packing to go home to see his family in Indiana for the holidays. There's a knock at the door and it's Big Mike with Barbara Stanwyck. Mike says, "Merry Christmas" and pushes Stanwyck inside. She says, "I'm bought and paid for, I know what comes next." Fred MacMurray convinces her that wasn't his point, he just felt bad for her it being Christmas and all, and she can go now. Well, she hasn't got anywhere to go, and she hasn't got any money. As she says, "At least in jail I'd have gotten three squares a day." Now fred doesn't know what to do. She points at his suitcases and asks where he's going, and he says, "Home to Indiana for the holidays." Stanwyck lights up, "You're a hoosier? So am I." So Fred says he'll take her to her Indiana home on his way to his home (he's driving from New York). She hasn't been home in ten years and left under very bad circumstances, but is in the Christmas spirit and decides to go. When they get to her house, her mother is a mean old woman that's still mad at her and slams the door in her face. So, not knowing what to do with her, and also that he's growing to like her, Fred takes Barara home to his family, who are all wonderful people who all immediately love Barabra and think that Fred has found himself a terrific woman. Fred attempts to explain that she's really a kleptomaniac whom he is prosecuting, but no one cares. And of course they fall in love. And here's the absolutely brilliant twist ending, he's still going to prosecute her when they get back.

Josh

Name: JohnnyO
E-mail:

Josh,

Tell us more about your Absinthe experience. What did you think of it?

JohnnyO

Dear JohnnyO:

It just knocked me out. I'm not drinking these days because I'm not really in tune with alcohol at the moment. It comes and goes for me. That's partially why I think pot is so much better than liquor -- pot is dependable, whereas liquor is sometimes good and sometimes bad. You can't depend on it.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

To follow up a few things...in terms of structure: I haven't seen a film I can remember with really good structure. Not to say there aren't any, but if the flicks weren't good enough to remember, the chances are the stories weren't either. There's something unmistakable in the Minghella adaptation of Patricia Highsmith's The Talented Mr. Ripley though - while not as strong or beautiful as the source novel, I thought it was a very strong film. We know Ripley and his motivations and the scene where Tom and Dickie have a fight on the rowboat is just so crisp.
BTW, I read in another post your thoughts on Good Will Hunting and wanted to add this: when I read Ordinary People then watched the film, I did notice how much Judd Hirsch's portrayal seemed to ring familiar. Then I remembered I liked much of the same interaction in GWH. Guess this is a case of pure adoration on the parts of Ace and Gary....
P.S. One film I did like (and was memorable) was Sean Penn's The Pledge. It seaps in the conscious for me, I guess. Jack Nicholson's good, but like a rusty chair, the script and pacing need some tightning.

Dear Greene:

You've never seen a film with good structure? Nearly all films used to have good structure, before this modern era. Watch "The Bridge on the River Kwai," or "Marty," or "The Apartment" or "All About Eve" or "Rocky," for goodness sake. Meanwhile, I couldn't even sit through "The Pledge," it's so exactly what it is and no more. I don't think Sean Penn is a very good filmmaker. I didn't sit all the way through "Ripley," either. Matt Damon is a drag.

Josh

Name: Darryl Mesaros
E-mail: simonferrer102@msn.com

Dear Josh,

It's been a long while since I've been on the site, and I just wanted to drop in and say hi. I've been out of the loop, and didn't even know that ALIEN APOCALYPSE had been started, let alone finished, in the can and aired. Is SCI FI talking about marketing it on video yet?
Other than that, how have you been? Anything new in the works?

Darryl

P.S. Sorry, an old synapse in my brain just kicked in. I remember awhile back we were talking about the fight scene Between Roddy Piper and David Keith in THEY LIVE. I said it looked like a real brawl, not the martial-arts laden effects-fests of today. You stated that it looked like two stuntmen going at it, and that most fights you had seen or been in were fast and over quick. While this has been true in my life as well, I hold with my opinion of the scene; two obviously tough guys like Piper and Keith would soak up alot of punishment and be tough to beat in that type of a fight, even in real life.

D.

Dear Darryl:

"Alien Apocalypse" hasn't aired yet. Not until January. Yes, it will be coming out on DVD, and through Anchor Bay, the folks that release my movies, and Xena, too. Meanwhile, that fight in "They Live" went on forever. I'm sorry, but unless you're wearing boxing gloves, fights just don't go on and on like that. It's a movie fight, not a realistic fight. And though that movie does have a shred of a good idea lurking in it, for the most part it's a piece of crap, like almost all of John Carpenter's films.

Josh

Name: Darryl Mesaros
E-mail: simonferrer102@us.army.mil

Dear Josh,

Sorry, one or two things I forgot. I didn't know you had your birthday recently, so congratulations and happy birthday.
Second, in reference to one of your posts further down the page, I can attest that Iraq was an utter shithole LONG before we got there, per the local inhabitants; it merely had a thin veneer of civilization on it, enforced by the shaky power of Saddam's regime. Compared to the way it was at the peak of his power, the infrastructure of the country has improved 100%. Bear in mind that the war is being reported by a news media interested in selling bad news for profit, and dedicated to selling Iraq as a chaotic failure. NONE of the considerable good in Iraq is ever reported, which is an injustice to the hard work our soldiers did and are doing over there.

Sorry, I just had to get that off my chest,
Darryl

P.S. Again, Happy Birthday!

D.

Dear Darryl:

I appreciate your POV, and I appreciate the efforts of all of our military personnel, but attacking Iraq was a giant mistake in every possible way, and I'm very sorry to say that every American life lost there was wasted. We should never have attacked them, nor should we ever attack anyone else. We supposedly stand for something here in "the land of the free," and attacking, bombing, and killing people in third world countries is not it. The "preemptive strike" is a Nazi concept, and that's what it makes us if we use it. There were no WMDs, there was no threat from Iraq, and everything we've done there is wrong. Period.

Thanks for the birthday wishes.

Josh

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

Dear Josh,

Happy Birthday!

You have good points, especially about the current chaos and the difficulty the people would have in making a democracy work, especially considering their histories and restraining cultures and close-mindedness and backwardness in much of that area of the world, but whatever those governments are now they are not vehemently anti-American or anti-Western, and they are especially not sponsoring or condoning terrorism. The current Iraqi president is committed to fighting terrorism, and that is good for us as the more nations in the region that are as against terrorists the better in the long and short run. As for Afghanistan that is worth consideration since you say they are still an Islamic theocracy, but the original evil government was destroyed correct? It is not being run by the same people so that is another victory against terrorism.

So I would ask wouldn't you consider that the future of these countries is a more hopeful one now, both for our interests and in general? The more nations in that area that become democratic, the better off civilization is.

And by the way about Alecto and her buds who wanted to post about me, most
of that is made up, although I definitely love Lucy and will mellow out of course but will always love Lucy. About the Xena boards they began this stuff when I was banned for saying that Lucy had very sexy legs and the people on the board responded very maliciously, their response was the same notion that when taken to an extreme was responsible for much of the nastiness and vileness and perniciousness of several that plagued the fandom for years. So I would say their gripes and whining and complaining is mostly invented and where it isn't, they asked for it.

Thanks,

John

Dear John:

Well, the crazy Xena fans came after me, too, so I don't have a lot of sympathy for them. You really need to stop watching Fox news. We installed a guy as president in Iraq and he has no power. There are terrorists acts against Americans every week there, as well as against everyone else, too. Iraq is not a better place now, don't kid yourself. It was a completely functional country, that was not Muslim fundamentalist, and now it's a smoldering pile of rubble with over 100,000 dead. Iraq is not a better place now, nor is Afghanistan, which has pretty much the same government as before, which is dominated by the Taliban, nor it a safer world now. I ran my own little poll in Bulgaria and tried to ask in the least inflected way, "What do you think of George Bush?" And the answer was consistantly, "Asshole!" That's how he's thought of around the world, and that's how we're now thought of around the world. That does not make us safer.

Josh

Name: Daniel B.
E-mail:

Dear Josh: What do you think of Charlie Kaufman as a writer? I think he is very talented, and a breath of fresh air compared to most gun-for-hire screenwriters such as Steve Zaillian and Eric Roth.

Dear Daniel B.:

I don't think he knows what he's doing. I don't think he has a clue about the basic elements of script structure or charcterization, he has no points to make, and he certainly doesn't understand the deeper levels of thematic writing. He's a nothing.

Josh

Name: Cath
E-mail:

Josh -

No questions -- just...

1) Happy Birthday, albeit belated. earlier in this section (when we discussed the excellence of Jerry Goldsmith) that Bernstein was one of the better composers for film. I agree. I've always loved his score for True Grit -- a movie that ranks as one of my all-time favorites, though I'm not a John Wayne fan.

Mr. Bernstein won an Oscar for Thoroughly Modern Millie (a "guilty pleasure" for performances by Julie Andrews and Beatrice Lillie; not that great otherwise). Also enjoyed his work for To Kill a Mockingbird, Hawaii, and The Magnificent Seven.

Am really looking forward to Alien Apocalypse.

Dear Cath:

Yes, Elmer Bernstein was one of the great film composers. He was 82, BTW. I really love "True Grit," I think it's one of the really great westerns, and Bernstein's score is a big part of it (as is Lucien Ballard's wonderful photography). It's one of the very few westerns that gives a real sense of it's period and the fact that people spoke differently then. "To Kill a Mockingbird" is one of my very favorite scores. As a kid I audio taped the front title music just to be able to listen to it whenever I wanted. Oddly, I thought, after Elmer Bernstein scored "National Lampoon's Animal House" in 1978 he became the comedy go-to composer and scored many, many comedies after that, like "Airplane!" (which is a terrific score) and "Ghostbusters." Mr. Bernstein also did "The Great Escape," one the great films scores of all time, and "Walk on the Wild Side," which is also wonderful.

Josh

Name: Francis
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

What if Kevin Smith held the key to eternal life or a cure for cancer. Now wouldn't that be a shame to miss? ;)

Dear Francis:

What are the chances, do you suppose? The guy can't figure out how to write a decent screenplay, why would he hold any answers to even bigger questions?

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

Back from the frey here, after seeing a few videos I'd either waited to see at home or was catching up on: Series 7-The Contender; We Were Soliders and Field of Dreams.
Series 7 failed in all the places regular TV does, which is interesting because while it satirizes TV, it does so ineffectively for a film. So perhaps it should nave been a FOX Monday movie broadcast. The Running Man concept isn't bad though - that in the future reality shows will force people to participate in kamikaze contests - but there's not enough real dramatic tension to hold it up.
We Were Soldiers was an interesting premise (a fascinating historical event) gone wrong. I was uninvolved from the bad editing, logic problems and weak Act One.
Field of Dreams suffers from the same problem. I thought by the third act we'd know why Kevin Costner had this special gift at this exact moment in his life, but no. And the revelation of the third act is weak. A big letdown.
I also watched just over a third of Barry Lyndon and despite Kubrick being a favorite and the visuals at their best, he should have put a strangle hold on the languishing pacing. EWS zoomed by in comparison!

Going back into the frey now.

Dear Greene:

I'm with you, for the most part. Personally, although I don't like either film, I'll take "Barry Lyndon" over EWS, but so what. "We Were Soldiers" sucked, and I've never understood this incredible fondness so many people have for "Field of Dreams," I didn't buy a word of it. I just watched "The Miles Davis Story," a documentary from 2001, that was very good. Nothing special, but very solid.

Josh

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

Dear Josh,

Your absinthe story cracked me up.

So I watched "Shark Attack 3: Megalodon" last night, fully expecting to be bored to tears. I've got to give kudos to David Worth - visually, the movie was really quite pleasant to look at, with lots of (what seemed to me to be) complex shots. Who knew Bulgaria had a beach that could sub for Mexico? Not me!

It was pretty much a scene-for-scene rip-off of "Jaws," of course. Except Roy Scheider became a hunky young lifeguard, Richard Dreyfus became a luscious female paleontologist, and Robert Shaw became a submarine pilot for a fiber optic company. Oh, and an improbable fourth act where the shark turns out to be a baby megalodon and mama comes for revenge.

What was especially funny to me was watching the Bulgarian actors saying their lines in English, and seeing the martial arts movie-like dubbing, where many of them were dubbed with Mexican accents. I'm guessing phrasing and spacing of words may be a little different for Bulgarians, even when speaking English, and so apparently the voice-over actors had to compensate by taking odd pauses here and there.

Sadly, most of Rosi's scene was cut - she's a bikini babe making out with some guy on a beach, then she strips and runs into the surf for more frolicing.... and then gets attacked by the shark, and runs screaming onto the beach, much to the delight of the passers by. But most of that I'm sure is available only in the overseas dvd release - we hardly get to see anything. Damn - now why didn't you add a scene where Ivan rescues her while she's bathing in a river?

Anyway, I'm actually looking forward to "Raptor Island" now. I gather that was done by the same production company as "Alien," and the same people are doing the SFX?


Oh, and one more question - how common is that, for the director to double as director of photography?

Regards,

August

Dear August:

The director also being the DP is not all that common. Joseph Von Sternberg did it back in the thirties ("The Devil is a Woman" 1936), and Peter Hyams does it. More directors have also worked as camera operator, like Ridley Scott and Steven Soderberg. On TSNKE I was the director as well as the DP and the operator, and I don't think it's such a great idea. I believe that the director needs to be paying complete attention to directing, which is a full-time job. If you're dealing with the camera and the lights you're not doing as good of a job as you might directing. Meanwhile, I will also some of that same rubbery synch once we've looped all of the Bulgarian actors.

Josh

Name: Francis
E-mail: ghostlorn@fastimes.tv

Josh

Although I remember from the other posts that you didn't like Kevin Smith's movies (ie. Mallrats, Clerks...) I'll recommend a series of Q&A's he did across the US in 2002. Called "An Evening with Kevin Smith", it's pretty damn funny and in it, Smith relates how hard it is to get good stories made in Hollywood. He tells of an insipid producer named Jon Peters, whose vision of Superman is the funniest (and stupidest) I've ever heard.
PS. Goodfellas SE came out this week!

Dear Francis:

Sorry, but I'm not interested in anything Kevin Smith has to say.

Josh

Name: Jason
E-mail: jk23oreily@spinnersweb.on.com

Mr Becker

I was wondering if you'd ever thought of how bad movies get sold in the public as good ones through the proliferation of what I'd like to call the 1984 effect. In Orwell's book (and the movie of the same name) a state department head tells Winston that if both of them agree 2 + 2 = 5, then between them, that reality is shared and verified. So if I say a movie is good and you agree and we pass this information onto friend C, then it must be good. You agree?
BTW, the film lacked any intensity and needed a jolt of pacing, but I thought John Hurt's performance in the torture sequence was astonishing. There you got a performance better than the film at whole. :)

Dear Jason:

It's all personal opinion. Nothing is intrinsically good or bad, it's just how we respond to it.

Josh

Name: Kevin O.
E-mail: orelans231@jokersbox.com

Dear Josh

I read a post back awhile ago when 24 was mentioned. Any comments on the show? Kiefer kicks so much ass it's a shame he was out of work for most of the 90s.

Dear Kevin O.:

I really haven't watched it. I don't watch any TV shows now that "Sex & the City" is over.

Josh

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

Josh,

I was going to ask you what you thought about "The Straight Story"? I thought that it was a good film and the end brings me to tears all the time.

For some reason, it was re-released here at the art theatre in Brooklyn (BAM- Brooklyn Academy of Music) this past month, I went to see it.

Richard Farnsworth's performance is very good. My favorite line is when he is asked "What is the worst thing about being old?" and he replies "Remembering when you were young".

I do agree with you though, "The Straight Story" is the exception and all of his films in the 90's and beyond are just a bore.

I love "The Elephant Man". John Hurt's performance is superb! It is also difficult for me to sit through that movie without crying at the end.

Scott

Dear Scott:

Are you some kind of girlie-man? What's with all the tears? But I jest. You cry as much as you like.

Josh

Name: Philip
E-mail:

Josh, where would you put Billy Wilder among the echelon of great directors? I contend that he was as consistently good as anyone, including Wyler and Hitchcock. From "Double Indemnity" in 1944 (who knew Fred MacMurray could play a seroius part?!) to "The Apartment" in 1960, Wilder directed a series of films that stand out in movie history. Just wondering your thoughts.

Dear Philip:

I think Billy Wilder was one of the greatest filmmakers of all time. He's not quite as high up on my echelon because he was much more of a writer than a director. and he wasn't nearly as into the visual side of filmmaking as Wyler or Hitchcock or Welles. But he was a great screenwriter, and served his scripts very admirably as a director. Meanwhile, regarding Fred MacMurray, he had played many serious roles before "Double Indeminity," and had made many movies, but it wasn't until Walt Disney got a hold of him in 1959 for "The Shaggy Dog," then he got the TV series "My Three Sons" that he became such friendly, lovable character.

Josh

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

Josh,

I just wanted to wish you a late happy birthday,sorry. Time to fire one up as a toast to the last 46 years and dare i say the next 46.



Thanks,
Nick el Ass

Dear NicK

Thanks for the b'day wishes. I honestly can't imagine living to be 92. If I can make 80 like Wyler or Hitchcock that will be just fine with me. I'll bet between 80 and 90 is just a plain old misery anyway.

Josh

Name: DocAlien
E-mail: doctoralien@yahoo.com

Dear J.B,

What do you think of the television series Twin Peaks? I know that the movie was awful, but I think the t.v series is by far the best show in television history. What do you think of David Lynch. I've only seen one of his films,Blue Velvet, and I thought it was really good. BECKER RULES!!!

Dear DocAlien:

I thought David Lynch was talented for brief moment there in the '80s, but he turned out to be a total disappointment. Still, "Blue Velvet" and "Elephant Man" are good, "Eraserhead" is certainly an interesting, very low-budget indie, and "The Straight Story" is a perfectly okay film, and that's the whole deal. He shot his wad, and everything else is useless, including "Twin Peaks," which grew utterly wearisome by it's fourth episode, since the whole series was based on one gag -- the red herring -- no he's the muderer, no she's the muderer, etc. By the end of the 1st season it most definitely should have been cancelled.

Josh

Name: JohnnyO
E-mail:

Hey Josh,

Happy B-day, you old son of a gun!! I raise a glass of Absinthe to you. Rose-lipped maidens, light foot lads! Cheers to you, Becker!!

Dear JohnnyO:

Thanks, man.

Josh

Name: JohnnyO
E-mail:

Hey Josh,

What genre of script are you currently writing? Can you tell us anything about it?

JohnnyO

Dear JohnnyO:

It's a science fiction script called "The Cascade Effect," and the treatment is posted. I'm hoping to make it for SciFi, but we'll see.

Josh

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

Dear Josh,

Sorry I didn't meant to sound like a crazed pervert. I was just fantasizing. I didn't know that wasn't um, acceptable (sorry I've always been like that I will try to keep it in check). I think part of it is due to my deprivation in these regards but what does it matter right. I've recently been thinking about things, and boy, I said I'll never damage myself again, I was so frustrated recently (you might not believe this) that I hit myself several times in the face and screwed myself up, my hearing is out of whack and teeth and maybe vision on one side and I've got all sorts of problems. So I said, don't damage yourself again, so basically I'm still an experimental person but that means no absinthe for me or anything like that, and probably will think twice about the bunjee jumping though I'd love to do it macho Rambo style but I thought twice about it and figured it was too risky for me, though I'm still thinking on it.

So anyway yes I realize Lucy is married with three kids, I was just fantasizing. You don't have to repeat the whipped cream cherry story if you don't want to. I just thought it was funny and very hot but sorry if that makes me seem sort of like a crazed pervert. Can I ask you something though? Where did you get the phrase mellow out in conjuction with this? Wizardbard (Warren) mentioned that to me, I was wondering about that, kind of a coincidence maybe.

Will definitely read the Devil Dogs script, I was just curious if you could have summarized a main idea but that's okay I'm sure the script will be very informative.

Very interesting about the war discussions, but I was under the impression that although some Taliban may remain in Afghanistan that government has been destroyed and replaced with a democracy. Likewise, despite the cost of lives which I am very sad about and can never say was right of course, the government of Iraq was replaced with a democracy. Two heinous vile governmental institutions were destroyed and have been replaced with democracy, the best form of government mankind has developed. This is better for the entire region and definitely for us in the long run at least as democratic governments there will not condone, sponsor, or harbor terrorists. The loss of life greatly saddens me but Bush toppled two evil terroristic governments. I think there should be plenty of good in that for the entire world. There is some damage to the country at this time but the current president Allawi, is much, much better than Hussein or anyone else like him. I'm sure Saddam hated the United States, after all we forcibly removed his army from occupying Kuwait. As for WMDs I was personally surprised none were found considering how much he was known to have, but I still think in true Xena fashion that the greater good was served in getting rid of him (whether such weapons are found or not). Just my opinion. I know people might see this as arrogant cowboyism but I would much prefer that over the evil insidiousness of such governments (which you've compared Bush with some of the worst dictators in history, which I thought you meant humorously because as much as I like you I don't think any historian will see any validity in that). A little arrogance isn't that bad in my opinion as long as the job is done (though personally I never really got that impression).

So my question is the loss of lives is horribe but wouldn't you agree two democratic governments there are so much better for all of us (especially in the light of terrorism) than what was there before? Just my opinion.

Thanks,

John

Dear John:

There isn't a working democracy in either Iraq or Afghanistan. In Iraq you have chaos, mayhem, and a shooting war; in Afghanistan the Taliban took right back over and it's back to being an Islamic theocracy -- the official name of the country now is The Islamic Nation of Afghanistan. We've managed to turn Iraq into a complete shit-hole, which it wasn't before we got there. Sorry, but just because Bush says it's a democracy doesn't make it one. The people themselves have to want it to be a democracy first, and I don't believe that either country is advanced enough in their thinking to make it work.

Josh

Name: Jonathan Moody
E-mail: Jondoe_555@yahoo.com

Dear Josh:

Richard Kelly at one point wrote his version of "Cat's Cradle". I've never heard your thoughts on Kelly's film, "Donnie Darko". I loved it. However I might be a bit biased considering the man grew up an hour away from my house. Though he made Middlesex County, VA be a suburb when its actually rather a hick town. I loved the flick despite that flaw. It was one of the few movies that my friends and I could talk over and discuss in detail on what we thought it was about. I hope the directors cut comes around here so I can see it in the theatres like I should have a while ago. And I can't wait for Kelly's next film, "Southland Tales".

Your fan,
Jonathan

Dear Jonathan:

Different strokes for different folks. I hated "Donnie Darko." It was completely ridiculous, it has those utterly meaningless titles every 2 minutes, "Thursday, 8:21 PM," and the monster is a giant bunny rabbit? Please!

Josh

Name: Anonymous
E-mail:

Josh,

Just thought you should know-if you don't already: John Rambo is troll who's been harassing people on Xena message boards for quite a few years. This person-as you can tell, also has an unhealthy obsession with Lucy, and has sent SPAM and viruses to people's in-boxes. This person goes under the alias James Bond as well.

You could try banning him/her, I suppose-but this person might come back under a different alias. This person is a sick fuck with WAAAY too much free time on his/her hands.

Dear Anon:

Thanks for the info.

Josh

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

Dear Josh,

Best wishes of the day. Some of your fans have chimed in at this message board thread to wish you a happy birthday: http://www.sf-fandom.com/vbulletin/showthread.php?s=&threadid=14487 - if you get a chance to check it out, you won't have to register, and no pop-ups, no spam, etc. I promise.

And if you want to really give yourself a birthday treat, and bring back fond memories of filming in Bulgaria, your colleague David Worth has a film running on Sci-Fi tonight called "Shark Attack 3: Megalodon." No need to comment on the film, as I'm sure the title says it all, but I notice that there is a "Rosi Chernogorova" credited in the cast, who must surely be the beautiful actress you mentioned. I'll bet she's crazy about ya, and as Luca Brasi said, I hope your first child with her will be a masculine child. Aother Bulgarian opus, also shot by David Worth, "Raptor Island," airs on Saturday, and features two more "Alien" alums - Peter Jason and Michael Cory Davis. I'm curious to catch them in action, and possibly see some of the countryside that you shot in.

Again, hope this was a great birthday for you, and that you downed a shot of absinthe for us all.

Regards,

August

Dear August:

I heard rumours that Rosi did a totally nude swimming scene in "Shark Attack 3." Thanks for letting me know what her last name is, I never knew while we were shooting. And thanks for the good wishes. Man, that absinthe just knocked me out. I drank two shots, then woke up two hours later going, "Huh? What?"

Josh

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

Hey Josh,

I enjoyed "In America" as well, but the only problem I had with the film was that the "Mateo" character wasn't developed well enough and then he dies.

I thought that it was rather odd to start out making him such a strong character and then not following through, then he dies.

Maybe that didn't bother you too much? The two girls were excellent and it was shot so well by Declan Quinn.

As for you comments on the legalization of drugs, I am in total agreement with everything you said there, and as you know, I never really did drugs with the exception of trying pot a few times.

Americans have to get their heads out of their asses about this drug thing and learn to realize that it would make some parts of the inner city much safer by legalizing certain substances and deal with these issues in a more humanistic way than the military "War on Drugs" approach. It will never work.

I have a friend that was having a conversation with a cab driver in Amsterdam once and he asked the guy which fare he would rather prefer late at night; Someone who just came out of a pub or someone who just came out of a Hash bar?

The cab driver said that hands down he would prefer someone who just came out of a Hash bar, since most of the drunks he encounters are brash and sometimes violent where the pot and hash smokers are mellow and friendly.

Alcohol is legal and it is far more dangerous than pot. There has never been a documented death related to pot use!

Scott

Dear Scott:

No, there was that one guy who was stoned on pot and ate so much cookie dough he exploded. Just kidding. Meanwhile, I thought the point of Mateo's character was to die, thus bringing life back into that family. He's almost more of a metaphor than a character, but I agree, I would liked to have known more about him, like why and how he was rich for instance, and why he was living in that building. The older girl singing "Desperado" was just great. And I loved the little girl's monologue about how she didn't have any friends, and her sister tells all of her secrets to her camcorder. It was charming, believable, knew what story it was telling, and was very well-cast.

Josh

Name: Sarge
E-mail: del23dtu@excite.com

Hi Josh;

Just wanted to wish you a very Happy Birthday and to thank you for all the great moments on Xena. I, along with countless others, are so looking forward to seeing "Alien Apocalypse"
Have a terrific day and here's wishing you many more.

Dear Sarge:

Thanks. I'm 46, that's old. When my dad was 46 I was 18, living in Hollywood, and seeing "Network" and "Rocky" in the theater. By the time Alfred Hitchcock was 46 he'd made 35 movies. By the time William Wyler was 46 he had already won the Best Director Oscar twice. Nevertheless, I continue to squeak along.

Josh

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

Josh,

I am so pleased that you watched "Finding Nemo". It was such an enjoyable film and I agree that all actors, and mostly Ellen Degeneres did a great job.

I haven't laughed so much in a children's movie in a long time.

I also felt that the story was less fluffy than most animated films and the whole deaing with death at the beginning of the film was a solid idea for kids to experience.

As you said, it was a "joyful" film and one of the best kid's films to come along in years.

Scott

Dear Scott:

And no painful Elton John or Phil Collins songs, either.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

What is your view on legalizing marijuana? Do you think there would be a lot of pissed off drug dealers if that happened? Do you think they should regulate it like cigarettes and alcohol (probably acohol, I don't recall cigarettes ever fucking up someone's driving... unless they drop it in their lap at the wrong moment)? I've only tried it a couple of times, I didn't see it as anything so special I'd risk jailtime for it, or my job, but I don't see it as something that should be illegal like coke or heroine. On the other hand, I can't imagine a family wanting to walk into a restaurant and have their kids get a contact high.

Dear kdn:

I am completely and totally for the legalization of marijuana, and all other drugs, too. Having spent some time in Amsterdam (I've been there five times now), you see that if pot is legal it doesn't change anything, other than the pot-heads don't have to be paranoid anymore. Most people don't partake, and if it's legal they still won't. And no kids are getting contact highs because they're not allowed in the coffee shops (where they sell the pot). You sit there at an outdoor table at a coffee shop smoking a joint (all the joints there are the size of cigars), and all of humanity goes past--old people, nuns, kids, businessmen, etc. -- and they don't take any note of pot being smoked, nor do they come in to get some. For most people it just doesn't matter and never will. And if you want heroin there you simply go to a clinic, sign up for it, and a doctor injects you. Suddenly, no one is selling drugs on the street or to kids, no one is contracting AIDS, and the courts and jails are cleaned out of all drug cases. Also, it takes the mystery and rebellious aspect out of it. If you don't have to sneak, and it's not illegal, and no one cares, why bother?

Josh

Name: Philip T.
E-mail:

Josh, whatever happened to your essays/rants that you used to frequently post? I miss reading them.

Dear Philip T.:

Well, I've been busy lately, first making "Alien Apocalypse," then writing a new script. I must say that nothing I've seen lately has inspired me one way or the other. I did like "In America," but I didn't feel like I needed to rave about it. I saw "Monster" last night, and it was sincere, and you'd never know that was Charlize Theron, but I didn't really enjoy the film, nor did I feel like I was getting a good look into the mind of a killer. I read an essay by the woman who wrote the biography of Aileen Worunos, and she said that she was never raped and that was not the motivation for her killings. Well, given that, the movie is a big lie.

Josh

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

Josh

Back again (I've spent the past few visits here brushing up on the interesting threads of past posts): Two things for you this time. (And more to come)

1. With the advent of DVD, some films are given a great forum to grow old and gain new respect from a younger generation. They're also given a chance to be seen in pristine condition. What's the best (or the top few) DVD transfers you've seen? For me, Quest for the Holy Grail is such a superior release. The grays and browns of the Scottish moors never looked so damn good; I was amazed to see colours I'd never seen before and hear dialogue/FX in clear quality.

2. I've been trying to remember this, but you're probably a better source than most: What was so incendiary about the 40 minutes Welles' showed to RKO that they cut from The Magnificent Ambersons? Any speculations?

Thanks again and keep up the good work,
BG.

 

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

Dear Josh:

Thanks for taking the time to answer the question (sort of) and for the good luck wishes. A little good luck would be very welcome about now.

BTW: Hope you have a very happy and enjoyable birthday tomorrow.

Dear Warren:

Thanks.

Josh

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

Josh

I can't imagine a good version of Vonnegut's Cat's Cradle being made because of it's tongue-in-cheek attitude. Satire and black comedy are a mess in Hollywood. What do you think?

Dear Greene:

It completely depends on who's making it. Is it being made? I think I could do it properly, since I loved that book as a kid. Although most of his books have gotten fucked up being made into films, I really do love "Slaughterhouse Five."

Josh

Name: JohnnyO
E-mail:

Hi Josh,

Did you ever find a distributor for Hammer? How hard is it to find distribution for an Indie feature? And lastly, what is the difference between in-development, active development and on hold with regard to the status of a film project?

Thanks,
JohnnyO

Dear JohnnyO:

Nope, I never found a distributor for "Hammer," nor even a sales agent who would handle it. No action, no killing, no sex, so no deal. And all of those states of development for a film simply means it's not actually being shot yet.

Josh

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

Dear Josh,

Thanks for the response as always. Well, I was going to say, yes I often bring up Stallone and Rocky, and I don't mean to be overly repetitive with it, sorry about that, but now that you mention it, I was going to ask you if you could describe what Stallone's part in Devil Dogs would be. I think it is extremely cool that you might cast him in the film. You know, I recently learned that he will have a series on NBC this fall I think. Totally cool! Also I meant to say, I don't know if you prefer him as pumped up for the role as he usually his, but according to a recent magazine article he is 196 pounds these days. That is really very heavy for someone of about average height and 4-7% percent bodyfat. Could you describe the role you want him in for that film? I guess you might even want him to drop some muscle as is sometimes asked (I remember reading that Steve Reeves was asked to play Samson but didn't want to drop 20 pounds, so the role went to Victor Mature). Also Steeve Reeves was considered for the James Bond role actually I read.

About politics, well, I understand your view on this about our global actions seeming arrogant sometimes, and also that you have quite a liberal position on things which is perfectly fine, but still this is my opinion I appreciate the things that Bush has done. That is not to say other presidents have not done things to admire, because they certainly have, but in terms of fighting terrorists and evil regimes I definitely appreciate what Bush has done, it seems he's really done more than any other president. The Taliban was purely evil and I was under the impression their government had been destroyed, could you explain why it's still around?

Also, I don't meant to ask too many questions, but could you explain the Soul Possession whipped cream cherry story with Lucy again? Oh man that is SO HOT I love Lucy! I love hearing this story, could you please go over it in as much detail as you recall?

Also I'm sorry you don't like Tom Cruise, he always seemed interesting and hard-working to me. He's also said to be very nice in person they say. I'm sure he had a great time when he was with Nicole Kidman, I watched Eyes Wide Shut and I was reminded of the Xena episode The God You Know with Lucy where she's dressed in an extremely sexy revealing costume and wears a mask sometimes, I was imagining a hot sexy beautiful orgy scene to go with that as in the Stanley Kubrick Eyes Wide Shut film but that was just my imagination going wild. I heard Lucy wore The God You Know costume to Adam Sandler's birthday party is that true? Oh man oh man that is SOOOOOOOOOOOOOO HOT! I love Lucy!

But well, as with Tom Cruise some guys get 'em, and some guys don't as with me, so I guess I will now retreat into the depths of my melancholy and fantasy. Thanks for your responses.

Thanks,

John

Dear John:

You're sort of sounding like a crazy pervert. Lucy is a married woman with three kids, one of whom is probably about 16 years old. Mellow out. Meanwhile, you can see exactly what I had in mind of Stallone by reading the script, which is conveniently located here on this website. Anyway, it sounds like you watch too much Fox news, which is so slanted it's not even news. The Taliban still very much exists in Afghanistan, and we would have done a much better job getting rid of them if we hadn't moved most of our troops out so quickly to go fight in Iraq. Every al Qaeda member that we've captured or killed has been replaced with someone younger. And considering that Saddam Hussein did not have any WMDs, nor was even developing any since 1991, was it really worth the lives of tens of thousands of human beings to capture the guy? What had he done to us? Nothing. He was thumbing his nose at us, so now over a thousand Americans, and probably over 100,000 Iraqis are dead and the whole country is destroyed and in mayhem. What did we Americans do that was good or right?

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

Off topic question for you. If you would rather answer this offline so as not to take up message board space, please do. I have talent agent (non-exclusive) representation here in Alameda but would also like to find an agent in the LA area. Are there any who you could recommend. Thanks for your time.

Dear Warren:

No, I can't stand every single agent I've ever met or worked with. They're a notch below studio executives, which puts them two notches below child pornographers. Every second I've ever spent talking to an agent (I've had eight agents, not including sales agents) was a complete waste of time. Good luck to you.

Josh

Name: Jeff Smitty
E-mail: Smitty@yahoo.com

Dear Josh:

I've been hearing alot of rumors that George Bush may drop Cheney and choose Rudy Giuliani as his running mate at the Republican convention later this month in New York. If that does happen, Bush will win the election by a landslide. Everyone I speak to says if that does indeed happen they would switch their votes from Kerry over to Bush. Even my most liberal friends love him because he is pro-abortion, pro-gun control and pro-gay marriage. Giuliani's resolve during 9/11 showed how great a leader he is; and the way he turned New York City around is mind boggling. This would also set up him to run for President in 2008, which I would love to see happen. Do you agree that Giuliani as VP candidate=Bush's re-election?

Dear Jeff:

I sure hope not. Having just heard Giuliani speak the other day on TV defending all of Bush's mistakes and mishaps, I say he can't be trusted. He's a cog in an utterly corrupt machine. Since for some reason I don't feel pessimistic about the future, I'll say there's no way on Earth Bush can be reelected since he represents everything wrong in this country, and I seriously don't want to believe that's what Americans really want -- to be the wrong-headed, bully, assholes of the world.

Josh

Name: Daniel B.
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

Do you know of Richard W. Haines, director of Space Avenger and Unsavory Characters? Even though his films do not always come off as well-written, what do you think of his directorial talents? He was the author of a book on technicolor and he is a real expert on cinematographic processes. From my last question, No Way Home is a great little indie flick from 1996, starring Tim Roth and James Russo, directed by Buddy Giovinazzo. Try and get hold of it. Have you seen Hatred of a Minute with Bruce Campbell? I havent seen it yet, but it is on my to see list. What is it like?

Dear Daniel B.:

Never heard of Haines, I haven't seen "No Way Home." Bruce is my buddy, so you decide what you think of "Hatred of a Minute," which wasn't his project, he just bailed it out.

Josh

Name: Daniel B.
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

As I said a long time ago, I loved your Ballbreaker script! I have glanced through some of your other scripts online and I think they are all worth their weight in gold. You are exposing the unseen film industry, the side of the coin that shows the fans how difficult it is to get a script made into a film. So many great scripts are floating around for years and years unmade. One must think that Hollywood's product must be out doing the unmade opuses. I think not! The character development in every Fuck-heimer film is appalling. They eliminate the acting and instead hire Diane Warren to write a tear-jerking song that is supposed to sum up all of the motivations of the characters. That is just one example. Your scripts are decent, and I find it more entertaining to read your scripts than to watch most of the shit that hits cinema screens. And to strum on a very sensative nerve ending of mine, the bastards went out and re-made Assualt on Precinct 13, one of my favourite films. What do you think of these hip remakes of great films. I thought the point of remakes was because the original is average and needs improvement. What next, Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson will star in Butch Cassidy. Soon remakes of late 90s films will be in style. Maybe one day directors will re-release the same film over and over again, year after year.

What do you think about this? Have you seen No Way Home? If so what did you think? And what was Michael Dean Jacbos like to work with?

Dear Daniel B.:

I haven't heard of "No Way Home." Michael Dean Jacobs was a fun, upbeat, theater-type actor, who smoked so many cigarettes and gabbed so much with the other actors between his shots that he managed to give himself laryngitis by the end, which I didn't appreciate. Still, I thought he was a very good actor, and a couple of his line deliveries are really great.

As for remakes or sequels of any kind, I'm just against them. Yes, there have been three or four exceptions, but there are literally thousands of horrible remakes and sequels now, and they are always a bad idea. And I'm glad you've enjoyed some of my scripts. The new one, "The Cascade Effect," is just about done.

Josh

Name: David
E-mail:

Josh, are you a baseball fan? I noticed you wearing a Tigers cap in one of your behind-the-scenes pics. On a related subject, what's a couple of your fav baseball movies?

Dear david:

No, I'm not a baseball fan, although I do enjoy playing softball. I just like Detroit hats. I have a Motown baseball hat now. Given that, I rather enjoyed "Pride of the Yankees" with Gary Cooper, and as a kid I liked "The Babe Ruth Story" with William Bendix, although it's pretty ridiculous stuff. Otherwise, I think it's a pretty dull game.

Josh

Name: kdn
E-mail: jericho_legends...at..yahoo_commie

Dear Josh:

<<Another great scene is in "The Bridge on the River Kwai," when Alec Guinness is taken out of the oven and brought in to talk to Sessue Hayakawa, who first offers him corned beef, then scotch whiskey ("I prefer it to sake"), then a cigar, all of which Guinness turns down. Finally, Hayakawa says that if he doesn't have the bridge built by a specific date he'll have to kill himself. He asks, "What would you do?" Guinnness replies, "I suppose I'd have to kill myself," then picks up the glass of scotch, "Cheers.">>
What about the mass confusion ending where Col. Nicholson ends up passing out on the detonator and destroying the bridge, along with all the sick pows. That had to be the best ending I've ever seen. KILL BILL just had 4 or 5 long drawn out speeches (many of which could've been summed up in one scene)... the worst one being about a pregancy test (I guess "Once that line turned blue..." repeated 5 times in the same speech was supposed to be dramatic or something.) preceded by superman metaphors(oh just kill him already)... wtf! River Kwai not only ended with the meeting of two intentionally good missions crossing each other out, but the irony of one man's pride to help people and be remembered in the future overpower good judgement (was it really a good idea to finish the bridge) winding up in the death of all the people on the train. "Good God, what have I done..." (faints, blows up bridge).
Also, you think Blake Edwards would've bothered making TRAIL OF THE PINK PANTHER if he knew they were coming out with dvd deleted scenes. It's amazing, the plot stops halfway through the movie.
Also, do you feel its possible for a slapstick film to have something to say and be as good as say, River Kwai, or, the Deer Hunter, or Platoon?

Dear kdn:

Yes, it's a brilliant ending, but the concept here was to offer up great scenes that were not the classic scenes, and I'd say the end of "Kwai" is the most referred to part of the film. I still think it's the tightest screenwriting ever in a movie. When the threads of the story begin to tie up, you had no idea there were that many threads out there. And it's all thematically connected.

Meanwhile, regarding a slapstick comedy having something to say, how about "Dr. Strangelove"?

Josh

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

Hi Josh,

your comment about enjoying "Finding Nemo" surprises me (even if it was a short-lived enjoyment) ...I wouldnt have thought that this would be the sort of film that you would like!! Was it the production value of the film that you enjoyed or the story? (sorry if you have answered this question previously)

Luv JO xx

Dear Jo:

Mostly, it was Ellen DeGeneres and Albert Brooks and Willem Dafoe, then the lovely digital animation, and it's got a funny, very simply-structured, but quite functional, script. Ellen having no short-term memory and constantly forgetting Nemo's name made me laugh every time. And I liked the Australian crabs on the sewer pipe, "Sweet essence of loyfe."

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

"Why doesn't Kim Novak just say, "You know, I'm the same girl"? She has no reason not to, except that it would kill the plot dead. Most of that film is Jimmy Stewart driving up in front of various locations, sitting there looking, then slowly getting out of the car, walking up to the front door, knocking, asking a question, walking slowly back to his car, then driving off."

Heh, heh. I asked the same thing about kim novaks character. Her motivation for not just telling him is unclear and a bit puzzling.

The scenes with jimmy stewarts character driving around and observing her is a bit repetitive, but its also a good example of pure cinema. When he visits her in the musuem and he sees she has the same flowers, the same hairdo as the portrait, this works beautifully to tell the story in a visual way. Sure much of it is: shot of Kim novak, reaction by jimmy, another shot of Kims hair, reaction shot of jimmy.

This leads me to a question: josh, what do you think are the best examples of pure cinema-hitchcock, as well as others?

thanks for the reply.

Dear Joe:

The entire first 20 minutes of "Psycho," with Janet Leigh stealing the money is a pretty good example, although there is the occasional line of dialog ("This is the first time the customer ever high-pressured the salesman"); also the scene with Norman cleaning up the hotel room and getting rid of the body. Of course, the crop-duster scene in "North by Northwest" -- "Strange. That crop-duster's dustin' crops where there ain't no crops," and also the entire sequence leading up to the crop-duster, with Cary Grant just standing there on the side of the road waiting for something. Or the whole opening of "Rear Window," past the sports photos and the broken camera, to Jimmy Stewart in a leg cast. The scene in "Notorious" in the wine cellar, where he breaks the wine bottle and it's full of powder, intercut with the bartender running out of wine. There's a few. Anyone have any others?

Josh

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

Heya Josh,

It's been a while.

Seeing that you hate religion as much as I do, you might get a kick out of this link:

http://www.newsday.com/news/local/wire/ny-bc-nj--communioncontrove0812aug12,0,6656242.story?coll=ny-ap-regional-wire

In a nutshell: the little girl in this story wants to recieve Holy Communion, but the wafer has wheat in in. She can't consume it, due to a rare disorder. Wheat will harm the kid. The mom wants her to receive a wafer without wheat. The Catholic Church says, "no-can-do". It's isn't true Communion then.

But-but this is Jesus Christ, in the form of a wafer! After all, He won't allow the child to die!! I mean, what's WRONG with this mother? Doesn't she have FAITH??

Ugh.

Yet another example of the wackiness of religion. BTW-Catholicism, as far as I know, is the only religion where you can be under-age and drink alchohol, re: the "blood" of Christ.

Ridiculous. We're still in the Dark Ages-as we've ever left them.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again-we're apes with delusions of grandeur.

Saul

Dear Saul:

If you believe that religion is evil, as I do, then it makes perfect sense that the church doesn't give a damn about a little girl. Let's face it, anyone that thinks that a wafer is the body of Christ is a blithering idiot anyway, so what's the difference? There are over six billion people on this planet, so we can spare a few. I think that all religious people should be allowed to kill all other religious people at random, since killing non-believers proves how much you love god.

Josh

Name: Daniel B,
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

I liked most of your choices. Did you like Mystic River and it's direction and of course acting from Sean Penn and Tim Robbins. I imported Bubba Ho-tep over to Australia on the day of it's release and I thought it was everything I'd hoped for. Bruce Campbell was amazing in it and the story was just so original. Did you like that one?

Dear Daniel B.:

I liked Bruce and Ossie Davis very much, and I was interested for the first two acts, but act three is a disaster. "Mystic River" is awful in every department -- it's poorly directed, as badly photographed as any big-budget film ever was, the script is stupid, and Sean Penn is chewing up all the scenery. I really hated it.

Josh

Name: Daniel B.
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

I just read that Tom Cruise discussion, and even though I am not a huge fan of his films, he impressed the shit out of me in Magnolia but perhaps his performance was largely unnoticed because of the great ensemble performances all round. Who are some of the contemporary actors/actresses who you like?

Dear Daniel B.:

His performance in "Magnolia" is so one-dimensional it hurts my brain remembering it. That film was really a monumental piece of shit, and represents everything wrong with the contemporary film industry. I wouldn't wipe my ass with that screenplay. And at over three hours, P.T. Anderson ought to be shot. I'm sorry but nobody is coming to mind.

Josh

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

Josh

When I write, I get to a point of frustration sometimes where I either (a) can't write fast enough (b) face a point where I doubt what I'm writing is good enough or (c) I have a block of what a character should say or how to wrap things up, even though I can see the story quite well in my head. Do you have any suggestions? Lately, I've been focusing on short stories and two scripts (one a play I will direct next year--I enjoyed directing extremely the couple of times I did it).

Also, do you have any knowledge of Francois Ozon? He's a French filmmaker of shorts in the tradition of the New Wave. His collection called X 2000 is excellent.

Dear Greene:

If it annoys you enough you could always quit writing, it's not like anyone will miss you at this stage of the game. Otherwise, you're experiencing the same crap as every other writer on the planet, so you just power through it. Remember, writing is really rewriting. The 1st draft is usually just a plan to work off of, so just spew it out as best as you can, then fix it later. And no, I haven't seen any of Ozon's films.

Josh

Name: jamie gumm
E-mail: jgumm1@artitech.com

Josh

There's always a lot said about the Quentin. QT loves movies to death, and he loves the most exploitative of crap -- the chopsocky grindhouse shit unbearable to most. But, to remind people, he does have a love of good ones, too, like High Noon (1952).

Did you like Back to the Future?

Dear jamie:

Oh, great, he loves "High Noon." So what? For the most part, QT's taste in movies is up his ass. And no, I didn't care for "Back to the Future." The idea that some stupid white kid taught Chuck Berry how to rock & roll is offensive to me.

Josh

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

Josh,

In reference to your quote from USN&WR, I think that, given the current administration, it should read, "Liberals want to help others while Conservatives help themselves to whatever they can get." The latest scandals concerning Haliburton are almost comical.

I listened to NPR's Science Friday today and several of the panel guests remarked about the indirect subsidies recieved by the oil companies, from reflagging Kuwaiti tankers to the war in Iraq. One of them estimated that the amount came to a four-dollar per barrel tax (taken through our income taxes) which was passed directly or, more often, indirectly to the oil industry. Self-sufficiency or helping themselves, I ask you? Nuclear power recieves similar benefits in spent fuel-rod storage, for which they do not pay a thing.

What I'd like to see is a rather simply stated ideology from which a party's or a candidate's positions can be deduced. I could tell you a few personal beliefs of mine from which you could deduce my position on almost any topic. I would not exempt a candidate or party from exceptions, but the exceptions cannot be the rule as currently they are.

I have met several of our Senators and Representatives from Kansas and the ones I've met I would not leave alone in a room with my kids. No decent person would subject themselves to what it takes to win a campaign so we're left with maniacs like Todd Tiahrt who wants kids to be able to carry concealed weapons. Remember the little discusion we had a while ago about Evangelicals pushing for the coming Passion, with all the Jews converting or going to Hell? Our people from Kansas are all members of that group, which wasn't true just six years ago when we had Dole and Kassebaum.

I don't know if Kerry will be a lot better but he can't be as bad.
Thanks,

John

Dear John:

I said to my Republican father that if this were during WWII, when they had the Senate committee on war-profiteering, led by the then unknown Harry Truman, Bush, Cheney and Halliburton would be indicted for war-profiteering (as was Herbert Walker, George Bush's grandfather). Anyway, my dad blew a gasket, saying over and over, "They are not war-profiteering." Really? Then how did Halliburton go from the 37th largest supplier to the U.S. government before the Iraq War, to now being the 7th largest supplier? And I firmly believe that the Moral Majority is neither, and will not effect the election. Keep in mind that by far the largest portion of the American population lives east of the Mississippi River, and are not crazy evangelicals.

Josh

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

Josh

How many real war films do you think there are? How many are good? War films people usually think aren't really so--Apocalypse Now is about man's dark heart, The Great Santini about a father and a son, Hart's War a courtroom drama...the only one I can think of that focuses on a larger, strictly plot-driven "war" recently is Tears of the Sun. If you haven't seen it, it's got some great low light cinematography in near pitch black, real jungle beauty. And I just remembered Bruce Willis was in that and Hart's War. Hmmm.
Spartacus wasn't even a real war movie. Any thoughts? I watched We Were Soldiers the other day and didn't like it at all but spurred the thought in my head...

By the way, if it was ever clear I had a soft spot for all movies or all Tom Cruise has done, I hated Play It To the Bone, Stigmata and Cruise's M:I-2. Lord, what a piece of crap. But his hair looks great.

Dear Brett:

Are you serious? There are literally hundreds of war films, arbitrarily starting with "The Big Parade" in 1925, "What Price Glory?" in 1926, "Wings" in 1927 (the first Oscar-winning Best Picture), "All Quiet on the Western Front" (1930) (also Best Picture), which has some terrific battle footage. Then you get to World War II and every studio began making war films, like "Air Force" (1943) or "Sahara" (1943) or "Bataan" (1943). War films went out when the war ended in 1945, but returned in 1949 with "Battleground," MGM's biggest hit of that year. There's John Huston's brilliant Civil War film "The Red Badge of Courage" in 1951, which was the first film to star WWII hero Audie Murphy. "To Hell and Back" (1955) the story of Audie Murphy starring himself was Universal's biggest money-maker for 20 years, until "Jaws" came out in 1975. There's Stanley Kubrick's masterpiece "Paths of Glory" (1957). Lewis Milestone, who directed "All Quiet on the Western Front" sort of specialized in war films, with "A Walk in the Sun" (1945), about WWII, and "Pork Chop Hill" (1959), about the Korean War. Then you have Sam Fuller, who also kind of specialized in war films, with "The Steel Helmet" (1951), "Fixed Bayonets" (1951), "Verboten!" (1959), and "The Big Red One" (1980).

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

Hey I was just wondering if you knew if Scott Spiegel was a big Ed Wood fan himself. I just watched "Flying Saucers over Hollywood: The Plan 9 Companion" a 2 hour documentary and it had Sam and Scott doing their impersonation of Tor Johnson and Groucho Marx on "You bet your life". I didn't know Sam could do such a good Groucho. Scott needs a bit of work as Tor though. But it was cool to see them show up in the doc. Have you ever seen them do that impression?

Your fan,
Jonathan

Dear Jonathan:

I grew up watching those idiots do that imitation. Sam did his Groucho impression in my film "Cleveland Smith Bounty Hunter," where Bruce has a Groucho ventriloquist dummy. I do a pretty good Groucho, too, BTW. Scott audio taped Tor Johnson on "You Bet Your Life" when we were about 18-years old, then he played it ten thousand times.

Josh

Name: kEVIN kINDEL
E-mail:

Josh,

That's interesting how you say there is free speech here. A couple of days ago old "W" made a stop in Phoenix while on his campaign trail and there was some people heckling him. His secret service people physically dragged them out of the place. Also, I went to school with a guy who was arrested for slandering the president. It's funny how nice freedom looks on paper...Kind of makes us feel all rosey inside, when infact the government does everything in their power to control us...Later

Dear kEVIN:

Well, this administration, anyway. I didn't feel my liberties were infringed upon when Clinton was in office. I was just reading U.S. New & World Reports in the hair salon (that's all there was), and someone in there defined liberals as people who feel they need to help others, whereas conservatives believe in self-sufficiency. This is pretty simple-minded, but it contains some truth, I think. Conservatives may very well believe in self-sufficiency, but the reality of the world is that everybody is not self-sufiicient and some folks do need help. So, what are you supposed to do? Ignore them? The very first law ever written in the western world was Hammurabi's Code, from about 1750 B.C., and the main principal of it is that the strong shall help the weak. That's reality, and that's how it's always been. Pretending everyone should just be self-sufficient is not realistic, nor is it practical, and that's why being a conservative is foolish.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

When the deal for filming in Bulgaria went through, do you know if there was any required number of locals that the government made you use (extras, crew, etc.) or was that pretty much taken care of before you got there?

Also - you mentioned the reverse zoom. I *think* I know what your'e talking about - did you use that in one of your earlier Xena episodes ("Blind Faith," maybe?) And is that a technique that your bud Sam uses sometimes? There's a bit in "Quick and the Dead" where the camera seems to be pulling away, and yet at the same time we seem to be getting a more intense close-up of the actor's face, and all the surrounding scenery seems to be sort of warping into the picture.

Of course, thinking about your film always makes me think about other science fiction favorites of mine, like "Planet of the Apes." With a title like that, and the poster showing Kim Hunter and Maurice Evans in ape makeup, there's little doubt as to what Taylor and co. will encounter... yet the first 20 minutes of crash-landing, trekking through the desert, etc. make you all the more eager for that first shot of a gorilla on horseback. Hoping we get a similar build-up in your film. :)

Regards,

August

Dear August:

That's the perfect example, "Planet of the Apes," and one I certainly thought of myself. But do keep in mind that "Planet of the Apes" was made by intelligent people for adults (the writers were Oscar-winner, Michael Wilson, and Rod Serling, for goodness sake), and that's why it's still a good film and holds up. It wasn't made for kids, nor was it intentionally being geared-down for the dumbest person watching.

Anyway, regarding zooms, a zoom in is when it goes from wide to close, and a dezoom (or mooz) is when you go from close to wide. What you're referring to is the dolly-zoom (or zolly), which was invented by good old Alfred Hitchcock for (it comes back around) "Vertigo." This camera move was conceived to give the impression of vertigo. Jimmy Stewart is on the ledge of the church steeple and looks down. The camera is physically moving down while simultaneously zooming back. You end up changing the focal length and depth-of-field without changing the framing. Spielberg used this technique very well in "Jaws," when Roy Schieder is sitting on the beach keeping watch, then thinks he sees a shark attack -- the camera quickly dollies back as it zooms in, thus causing the background to rush up behind him. After this technique was used in every horror film of the 1980s, it's now a visual cliche.

Josh

Name:
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

No, absolutely not. This is the doing of paranoid, fearful distributors and studio executives, and has nothing to do with good storytelling techniques. If an audience is ever going to be patient it's at the beginning of a story when they are internally demanding that the characters and situation be set-up properly so that they feel in their guts that this story will carry their interest for the next two or more hours they will have to sit there. If you jump straight into an action scene you are failing at your responsibility. That's why most films that do begin with action drop dead soon thereafter.

Josh, cmon. Ever see vertigo? I know you are a hitch fan, and his pure cinema skills are renowned. Anyway the film visually and with action established jimmy stewarts inner conflict with the rooftop chase scene.

I agree that characters must be setup in the first act, but it has to be interesting as well. You cant bore me into caring about your characters.

Of course genre is important here too. If you making a drama the first scene wont be an action scene. But if its an action flick, let the action happen man.

Dear _______:

Seriously, "Vertigo" isn't a very good movie, and certainly lesser-Hitchcock. It's one of those phony classics that drives me crazy (and I am most certainly an Alfred Hitchcock fan). Why doesn't Kim Novak just say, "You know, I'm the same girl"? She has no reason not to, except that it would kill the plot dead. Most of that film is Jimmy Stewart driving up in front of various locations, sitting there looking, then slowly getting out of the car, walking up to the front door, knocking, asking a question, walking slowly back to his car, then driving off. I'll take "Rear Window" or "North By Northwest" any day of the week, and both of those don't begin with action scenes. And no one ever said that the set-up needs to be boring. Meeting characters, even if they're only one-dimensional characters, is interesting. But a perfect example is "Black Hawk Down," where they don't bother letting you meet the characters, then spend the rest of the film killing them, which means absolutely nothing if you don't know who these guys are. You really and truly don't need to start your story with an action scene.

Josh

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

Josh

Did you manage to catch either the 2002 film Changing Lanes with Ben Affleck and Sam Jackson? Affleck's work has never been a reason for me to watch his stuff, but this film works because it's a human story of bartering. I recommend it, if nothing else than to see Jackson again on screen.
Also, if you happen upon a copy, you might get to view one of my top-10 favorite films of all time, War of the Buttons (1994). It's a third remake (film versions in 1922 and 1961 I believe) but much of the movie makes me celebrate: heart, subtlety, cinematography, earnest acting and an exciting story. You can read about it on IMDb, of course. It's simply the story of how two village armies of children war against each other and in the process reflect how they view adults. It's a gem.

P.S.: I'm sorry that some seem so offended by your opinions. In answering my questions, we've often disagreed, but I take no offence in that -- after all, we are all allowed our views and preferences. Hell, I still like a lot of what Tom Cruise has done. But is there a real reason for the viciousness of any post made here? Maybe you attract especially insane fans of film. That should be a good thing, too, if passion presented here means good films keep being supported.

Dear Greene:

There aren't many places in this world where you can say any damn thing you want, but this is one of them. If folks want to call me an asshole, that's fine with me, but I'm going to say what I want. Too much of the garbage that passes for art was created by people who, to quote my mother, "Wouldn't say shit if they had a mouthful." Most of the population of the world are lemmings, and if everybody else is jumping off the cliff they'll just get in line and jump off, too. So, someone tell me the name of a great Tom Cruise movie and I'll back off on him, but alas, there aren't any. "Risky Business" is okay, and he gives it his all in "Born on the Fourth of july," a film I don't particularly like. Otherwise, he's made nothing but junk.

Josh

Name: Mike
E-mail:

Hey Josh,

Firstly, professional or not, I agree with your assessment of Tom Cruise. He's the kind of actor who really has only one character, one set of emotional responses. Every character he plays is essentially the same. There's little or no functional difference between his acting as "Maverick" from Top Gun and Charlie Babbitt from Rain Man. It's Tom Cruise as Tom Cruise.

Anyway, I just wanted to follow up on your "Odd scenes" thread. There's a bit in The Day the Earth Stood Still where Klaatu is talking to some government functionary. The earth fellow is trying to appologize for the earth governments acting like asses, and Klaatu pretty much shuts him down at every turn, pointing out that he and his ilk are morons. Then:

Harley: Our problems are very complex, Mr. Klaatu. You mustn't judge us too harshly.
Klaatu: I can judge only what I see.
Harley: Your impatience is quite understandable.
Klaatu: I'm impatient with stupidity. My people have learned to live without it.

I just love the fact that Robert Wise and co. were able to call the United States government, and governments in general, stupid right to their faces at the height of the Cold War. Plus the theramin based soundtrack was very cool. That's it.

Out!

Mike

Dear Mike:

That's a good one. Let's do odd scenes from Robert Wise movies. The scene in "The Sound of Music," during the big party, Baron Von Trapp goes out on the porch and dances the Austrian kick-step dance with Maria, and the Baron's fiancee (Eleanor Parker) is watching, and quips, "That girl will never be a nun." Or how about the scene in "The Sand Pebbles" when Steve McQueen shows Mako how to run the ship's engine. He points and says, "Main steam stop valve." Mako says, "Main stem stop wow." McQueen repeats, "Valve." Mako says, "Wow," and McQueen shrugs, "Okay, wow."

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

My friends and I in a few weeks are working on a short film called, "The Jogger" (Right now thats just the working title) that I just finished the script to. I plan on paying the cast with food, which I think is a good way to go on a 15 minute short film. My question is though: Should you follow the three act structure even for a short? I mean my movie does have a beginning, a middle, and an end.

And the btw... the funniest political thing I've heard from David Cross is his quote against Bush. "Republicans have some awesome racists. They have some great racists, some great sexists... Homophobes? A Number 1. Absolute A Number 1. Crazy Crazy homophobic people. But look, listen listen... I'm not saying that all Republicans are Racist, Sexist, Homophobes. Just the people that they choose to elect in to office to represent them are." That's from his album "It's not funny" which I think is the funniest thing he's done yet. Much funnier than "Mr. Show".

Your fan,
Jonathan

Dear Jonathan:

Unless you're making an experimental short, then yes, you should have three acts. That's like asking whether your joke should have a set-up and a pay-off, even if it's a short joke.

Josh

Name: Daniel B.
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

I have been checking in on your site for a few years now and I am in a few spots in the archives, however one question. Name three films you have liked post-1998 and what you liked about them?

Dear Daniel:

Here's three films I liked in the last couple of weeks: "In America," "Spellbound," and "Capturing the Friedmans." I just watched "Le Divorce" for a second time, which is certainly second-tier Merchant/Ivory, but that still makes it better than most everything else. I kind of liked "Antwone Fisher," which I watched twice. "White Oleander" interested me. I was a amused by "24 Hour Party People," although I couldn't sit through it the second time. I also liked "Fahrenheit 9/11," I was somewhat amused by "American Splendor," I enjoyed "Finding Nemo" in a very ephemeral way, and I enjoyed the docs, "Cinemania," "How to Draw a Bunny," and "Man of Aran." That's what I've liked in about the last six months. The connection between these films is that the filmmakers, for the most part, knew what story they were telling.

Josh

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

Josh

1. Did you tell the SciFi channel about Alien or Jaws? We don't get to see the beast or Bruce the Shark until very late in both films.

2. How much a film do you think should be reliant on the visual? Flicks like Das Experiment tell a story that without dialogue, would be understood.

3. What's your opinion of The Simpsons?

Dear Greene:

I'm in no position to tell SciFi anything. Regarding visuals versus dialog, it depends on the story. It's a film director's job to take whatever is in the script and make it as appropriately visual as possible, which sometimes means completely backing off and letting the dialog carry the scene. Meanwhile, I love "The Simpsons," particularly seasons 3, 4 & 5.

Josh

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

Josh

There's a good documentary called The Hamster Factor which appears on the 12 Monkeys DVD and laserdisc and looks at the production of the film from start to finish. It's clear then that Gilliam isn't the most stable of people and perhaps guiding what was then a $30 million investment shouldn't have been his responsibility. But his work is at least trying to punch out of studio claws. In fact, on Monkeys, he was given final cut if the film retained no more than an R rating, a budget of 30M and a running time of less than 215 minutes. (Who would sit through more than 3 flat is beyond me)
So I guess in a roundabout way, what represents a good director to you?
Gilliam waffled, Kubrick seized ultimate control and Hitchcock was as gentlemanly as Churchill.

Dear Greene:

First of all, a good director is one who makes good movies, and since I've never liked any of Terry Gilliam's non-Monty Python films, he's not on my fav list. But the way he handled the production on "Don Quixote," from a strictly production-savvy point of view, was pathetic. Admittedly, the guy had some seriously bad luck in his first week of shooting, but he let it defeat him. If he had really, really wanted to make that film he would have recast Quixote the very second he saw how ill the actor was. He could have had any number of top-notch actors on a plane that night (like Ben Kingsley, as an example), but to say to the bonder (the representative for the insurance company) that he didn't know what he was going to do is in essence saying, "Shut me down." And were I the bonder I too would have shut him down.

Josh

Name: Richard
E-mail: filmfan_1@hotmail.com

Josh,

It's comments like the one below that lowers my opinion of you as a filmmaker. I read your site daily, and often agree with your political points of view and you as a person. It's when you start talking film that things go south for me. Consider this:

"I personally can't stand watching Tom Cruise, who seems like a truly lame fuck, haggardly boyish midget to me."

Come on, Josh. As a professional in the film world, how can you resort to dismissive and un-professional name calling?? If you don't care for the films Cruise is in, that's one thing, but to just insult him and patently cast him off like that reeks of amateur (and seemingly jealous) behavior.

Love him or hate him, Mr. Cruise always surrounds himself with great directors and pushes himself with every film. I personally think he gets better every year. Kubrick, Spielberg, Mann, P.T Anderson, Stone, Zwick, etc...these are good directors, and I applaud him for his work ethic and determination. This is one guy who never just "cruises" on star power.

You would think that as a professional, you would recognize the effort, if not always the results.

Richard

Dear Richard:

I appreciate that you disagree, but I'll stick with my initial assessment, which, as I look back on it, seems both lucidly descriptive and somewhat witty, in its own adjective-heavy fashion. Yes, Mr. Cruise may well have worked with many big-name directors, but he made shitty films with most of them. I just watched "The Last Samurai," which was pretty terrible, and it was like casting Mickey Rooney in a part for Gary Cooper. And why am I always being accused of being jealous? Or bitter? I just don't like Tom Cruise.

Josh

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

Josh,

Do you think you'll be checking out the Motor City Film Fest? I haven't heard anything that inspires me to want to drive across the state, but you're much closer. As the organizer is a maker of music videos and had a hand in 8 Mile I have no confidence in there being anything interesting going on.

Thanks,

Dale

Dear Dale:

I'm so lost in my own little world that I haven't even heard of it.

Josh

Name:
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

there is nothing worse than a know-it-all.

Dear _______:

I don't know, an inflammed hemorhoid might be worse.

Josh

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

Josh

To be fair, I meant only in the basest of forms was it to be used as entertainment -- that film is rarely anything more than that because if you total the number of films produced a year worldwide, how many of those are really important films? Not very many, I assure you. So my point was to let some dead dogs lie and put to rest a general dislike of anything at first glance. I've seen films that for me represented a greater good and those films are the ones that deserve to be put ahead in the crop. Whether as a fan you like or dislike Moore's tactics, Roger & Me, Bowling for Columbine and Fahrenheit 9/11 all represent issues that not only spoke to specific eras, but brought an open discussion when it was needed. The beauty of films is that you can be as passive or as active as you like -- be challenged in your seat or let the images wash over you. I find it a great art and a worthwhile medium of expression. So maybe if my words are taken too harshly then we should be asked to classify the purpose of film? We have talky courtroom dramas, heaping melodramatic schmaltz, blockbuster action flicks and fairytales alike but--some poke through the grating. Stories do you mean to impress something on us. The '50's box drama 12 Angry Men (one of my favorites) and the 1962 classic To Kill A Mockingbird are clear in their messages of tolerance and justice for all. The aforementioned MacBeth tells of greed and lust for power, an assumption of the greater evil that can overpower us. Ditto for Colonel Kurtz in Apocalypse Now. Maybe I'm fed up with a system that spends $30 million dollars to make a romantic comedy but won't pick up the bill for enlightenment. Where the hell is Terry Gilliam when you need him?

Dear Greene:

I'm saying that even basic entertainment can and has been a lot better than the shit we're presently getting. No, all films don't have to be heavy or have a serious point to make, but they should all have some kind of point. And, quite frankly, I can't stand Terry Gilliam's films, and after watching "Lost in La Mancha," I have no respect for his filmmaking and production abilities. He came off as a truly lame motherfucker, in my opinion.

Josh

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

Josh

I try to find something positive to look for when I see films. One of the films dearest to me is Vanilla Sky - the special effects as enhancements are wonderful enough to knock anyone's socks off.
For me that's the way good SFX should be -- disappear on screen never to be thought of again.

And any views on Sky? I fear a negative opinion on it's way again hahaha. It's all in good fun though.

Dear Greene:

I saw the Brazilian version, which everbody said was far superior to the American remake, and I thought it was a big nothing and didn't make sense. I personally can't stand watching Tom Cruise, who seems like a truly lame fuck, haggardly boyish midget to me.

Josh

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

Dear Josh,

Thanks for your awesome response, sorry I didn't get back sooner, was having a few problems. I'm glad you love the First Blood score too it is wonderful. I really look forward to the Alien Apocalypse theme you chose that was inspired by Goldsmith's Planet of the Apes theme, it's all very interesting and sounds very cool.

Anyway, A Patch of Blue sounds wonderful, very interesting themes and a Goldsmith score too, I'm glad it had such a powerful effect on you as I'm sure it will on me as well, since just by hearing the plot you've described I'm already moved by it. Very interesting and sounds like something that could actually happen, and the social context of it should also be very educational. I will definitely go rent it immediately, thanks. I don't think I've ever seen anything quite like it, but I did see The Color Purple, though I'm not sure how comparable that is. Have you seen The Color Purple? I think it has some similar themes but may not be as gripping and powerful. I was curious of your opinion on that film.

Anyway I like various kinds of entertainment but I definitely see your point about good movies and how they should make you feel, I'm looking around for movies like that and a Patch of Blue sounds tremendous. They are definitely a good idea.

Also kind of off topic here maybe but I respect your political views, I'm sure we agree on a number of them, and I can understand why some don't like the president. However, in my observation he has done more to fight terrorism than all previous presidents combined, and any president who can destroy the Taliban and topple Saddam within a couple years is definitely worthy of my respect. That's just my opinion.

Also I was going to add about Norma she took some very beautiful and lovable pics of Lucy at http://home.earthlink.net/~wppix1/imetlucylawless/, they are so beautiful I was completely in awe of Lucy and dreamt of her, and I was thinking that she might be a Stallone fan because she once said her name was Frances Balboa, that was very funny and cute. And since we were also on the topic of Rocky I agree that the sequel is not rated as highly as the original.

Thanks,

John

Dear John:

No matter what the subject, you are always able to return to Stallone and Rocky. I thought "The Color Purple" was garbage, with an awful tone and a lot of overacting. At the end when the sisters are reunited, and it keeps pushing into close-ups of everybody, my friend whispered, "Shouldn't they be putting on their sunglasses?" which still makes me chuckle. And let's get things straight, shall we? Bush has probably been the single worst thing for terrorism ever. There have been 1000% more terrorist attacks since 9/11 then before it. He did not destroy the Taliban, nor has even come close. The Taliban in Afghanistan is as strong as it ever was. The same goes for al Quaeda. The single worst thing that Bush has done to America is the complete loss of respect we now have from the entire world. We need the rest of the world to help fight terrorism, and alienating ourselves is a terrible mistake. We have no reason to be in Iraq, our "pre-emptive strike" on Iraq may be the single most shameful act in America's history, and Saddam wasn't doing shit to us or anybody else. It was all for nothing.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

I know how you always say you hate shitty TV shows and movies but did you ever watch, "Mr. Show" or ever listen to David Cross at all? I think David is the funniest comedian to be touring the US (whenever he's not be in movies) and his political rants are just great! If you haven't I think you should listen to his CDs, "Shut up, you fucking baby" or "It's not funny". Both are fantastic.

Your fan,
Jonathan

Dear Jonathan:

I haven't heard David Cross yet, but I certainly didn't like "Mr. Show," which I didn't find the slightest bit funny.

Josh

Name: Jim
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

Wow, you must really be pissed off, you've lost your sense of humor: "And why would I want to keep "Battlestar Galactica" in mind? I didn't watch that show when it was new." Exactly. Sci-Fi isn't looking for the next Citizen Kane or the next 2001, they're looking for the sort of bland programming you typically dislike. I look forward to seeing Alien Apocalypse when it airs, but I'm not expecting the Josh Becker director's cut. Its tv, they're going to make changes. Hopefully it won't get fucked up too much.

Dear Jim:

Yes, hopefully. And I haven't lost my sense of humor, I just don't like shitty movies or shitty TV shows, is that unreasonable of me? Unliked the rest of humanity, apparently, I have no fondness for that which sucks. The Cult of the Bad has usurped the appreciation of what's good. As I've noted before, when I lived in a bungalow in Hollywood, on DeLongpre, and Quentin Tarantino and his gang of idiots used to hang out there, they never stopped discussing bad movies. "Oh, you think that's bad, this was WAY worse." I finally got so pissed-off I yelled at everybody, "Why can't you discuss good movies? Discussing bad movies non-stop is a complete waste of time!" They all looked at me like I was nuts. And now the bad movies have completely taken over, which I find deeply depressing.

Josh

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

Josh

A recent respondent to Ebert's pick of Kill Bill as best picture of the year was met with this response: "I didn't learn anything, I didn't grow...it wasn't an important film." Maybe not, but isn't the purpose to have fun with a film? I liked Kill Bill and believe some of what Ebert says is true (while regarding your opinions to the negative). However, I thought for fluff, Sam's film was just as good -- derivative as both may be, Spider-Man 2 was as much bang for your buck. It's rare for me to be astounded when I see a film at any rate -- Scarface and Goodfellas represent the best of the bunch in gangster flicks, Apocalypse Now the quasi metaphysical and Aliens in the sci-fi horror field. Comedy gets splicey, but for me the Quest for the Holy Grail caps it off. The seriousness of some film fans is really quite comical; there is rampant passion for anything that moves on screen. I think back to our discussion about finding great moments in film or appreciating aspects of movies. Getting back into the groove of what made cinema special. Just recently I took a look at Roman Polanski's MacBeth again and was astounded at how visually striking his film was. Maybe we need that again. Less muss, less fuss, less hype. Unless it's good of course, but how often can you say that without grinning?

Dear Greene:

No, the purpose of film is not just to have fun, or be entertained, that's simply the low-end purpose. Film can educate, enliven, illuminate the human condition, and, for the course of a good film, make you feel that life has meaning. It's the most important art form of the past hundred years, and to shrug it off as nothing more than entertainment is simple-minded and thoughtless. As Sean Penn said, responding to the same question, "If all your looking for is entertainment, go buy an eight-ball and a hooker, but film is more important than that. So when some lousey, thoughtless, knuckleheaded piece of crap like "Kill Bill" is the best film of the year, we have hit the nadir. The concept and writing in "Kill Bill" is complete garbage. As a crew member I just worked with said of "Kill Bill," "Quentin Tarantino has proven he's as good as the worst director in Hong Kong."

Josh

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

Josh

What do you think is the greater accomplishment, making something important or interesting out of a kernel of the unworkable or making fluff seem more than it is? Films today seem to be waffling between the two...

(And) Stanley Kubrick said (and I'm paraphrasing here, so I apologize for inaccuracies) that "One Man paints a portrait, One Man writes and opera, One man should make a film" in response to his well known controlling personality and working style. Do you believe this to be true? That autership is the best way to go? Hey, even teamssters have their place.......;)

Dear Greene:

It takes a lot of people to make a movie, but it should clearly be one person's vision. That's why I'm only interested in shooting my own scripts. If I'm the writer-director, it's obviously my vision. Films today are not important, interesting, or even good fluff. You see, I like Hollywood movies -- or what used to be Hollywood movies -- much better than foreign films or low-budget indies or weird experimental films, or anything else. And it's not like Hollywood made all that many "important" movies anyway, but they did do it with regularity, and they were often good. But mostly, Hollywood made fluff of one sort or another, and they were very good at it. And that's what Hollywood can't do anymore, make believable fluff, let alone anything important. Right now there is no one working in the film industry capable of making "Airport" or "Ben-Hur."

Josh

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

Josh, maybe they could show the aliens in a title sequence or something, rather than fucking up the tension in the film itself. Or maybe some effects shots of space or something in the first ten minutes so everyone knows its a Sci-Fi movie. 12 minutes to meet the bad guys doesn't seem like a lot of time. That actually feels a little early to me. My cousin was actually on the sci-fi channel for a Battlestar Galactica special. You're competing with Battlestar Galactica specials, just keep that in mind.

Jim

Dear Jim:

They'll do whatever they care to do. I made a stink and screamed and yelled, and that's the extent of my power. I sold it to them and now it's theirs. And why would I want to keep "Battlestar Galactica" in mind? I didn't watch that show when it was new.

Josh

Name: Joe Flaherty
E-mail: flahertyproductions@hotmail.com

Dear Josh Becker,

I am a young film maker in need of answers. I have lately been working on ideas for films, and i found just the right one. My city is not known for supporting youth film productions (unless its kiddie porn) which is pretty sad. So i decided to run and fund my own youth film festival ( if you wish to have the url please email me). But back to the question at hand, i was wondering if i should shoot a feature on Mini Dv, and try to distribute it myself, or shoot a pilot on mini dv, and get investors to put up their cold hard cash.

thanks alot Josh Becker,

p.s Sgt. Strkyers War- was a masterpiece

Dear Joe:

If you can figure out how to shoot the whole film, then do it. I'd look at it more as a showcase for your talent than as something you'll distribute yourself and make money with. Keep your costs to a minimum and really show what you've got. Good luck.

Josh

Name: SALAH SALEA
E-mail: IraqiActor@salahsalea.com

Hello Mr, JOSH BECKER I just Loved every think you wright in your panoramic pictures,is the Truth nothing but the truth..and I love it.. and by the way.

my name is * SALAH SALEA * I AM FROM (IRAQ-BAGHDAD) I AM ONE OF PEOPLES A RASING AGINST SADDAM IN 1991 AFTOR WE HEAR Mr.w BUSH HE HAS SPEACH IN THE RADIO FOR IRAQI PEOPLES RASING AGINST SADDAM.AND IRAQI PEOPLES THEY ARE VERY HAPPY TO HEAR THAT BUT WE GET NO SUPORT. AND SADDAM START SHOTING AND BOMING ALL THE CITYES WITH NO FELLING FOR IRAQI PEOPLES.SO I WAS ASKING THE PEOPLES FROM AL-BASRAH CITY CROSS ME TO AL-ABDULY CITY ON THE BORDER OF KUWAITY SIDE WICH IS ALL AMERICAN TROOPS TO BE SAVE FROM SADDAM.AND EVRY BODY WAS AFRED FROM SADDAMS GARD
AND WHAT I DID.I WAS TALKING WITH MY SELF.I HAVE TO PASS THOSE 30 MILE TO GET THERE.AND I HAVE TO STAY A WAY FROM FREE WAY BEACUSE ALL SADDAMS GARD CHAK POINT IF I GET CUT THATS IT THOSE PEOPL THEY GOANA KILL ME SLOWLY MY AND THEY GO TO MY FAMLEY AND THEY KILL THEM TO.AND I WAS LOOKING FROM FAR TO THE FREEWAY HALF HOUR .AND I SAID GO SALAH THATS IT DEAD OR LIFE WALKING 30 MILE.YOU KNOW MR PRESIDENT.I WAS RUNING AND RUNING LIKE CRAZY TO CROSS THE LAST 400 YARD TO GET TO AMERICAN SIDE.AND I DID AND YOU WHAT KIND FELLING I HAVE THAT TIME I FELL I AM SAVE BETWEEN MY FAMILY.AND I CALL THIS MISSION....

( WALKING 30 MILE TO THE FREEDOM )

AND I START WORKING AND HELPING WITH AMRICAN RED CROSS WITH ( Mrs,Dr BOBIE HIMLTON ) she was a superviser for AMERICAN RED CROSS IN AL-ABDULY CAMP..... AND MY JOP WAS GUARD FOR ALL THE CLNICS AND THE DRUGS STORG IN THE CAMP.AND SHE SEND OUR NAMES TO THE AMERICAN GOVERMENT TO INTERFEW THE PEOPLES HELPING THE TROPS THERE.AND I DO HAVE DOCMENT FROM Mrs Dr, BOBIE SHE IS beautful women I NEVER FORGET THAT TIME WHEN THE LAST DAY FOR CLINIC GROP THEY HAVE TO LIVE THE CAMP BEACUSE THEY HAVE TO TRANSFER ALL THE REFUGEES IN SIDE SAUDI ARABIEA TO BE SAVE.AND IT WAS SAD MOMENT TO SAY BUY TO THEM AND TERRS ON EVERY BODY FACE.AND SHE SAID I DONT FORGET YOUR HELP ANY WAY ALSO I WAS HELPING --UNHCR-- AND I DO HAVE A DACOMENT FROM THEM ALSO I HELP--I C R C--AND IN US .

WORK-- HAIR STYLIST
* ACTOR AND SAG MEMBER i WAS IN THE (THREE KINGS) MOVIE.OPENING SCEAN.MY ROLL IT WAS THE (ASS MAP MEN)

* IWAS IN ( LIVE FROM BAGHDAD ) SHOW ON HBO

* I WAS IN (TERMINAL ISLAND )

AND THIS IS MY WEBSITE WITH UPDATE PHOTOS
and thank you very much for your time and I will love to meet you one day.thnks

www.salahsalea.com
IraqiActor@salahsalea.com
Tel-- 619-889-9877
Tel-Fax-858-573-6769

Dear Salah:

Good luck in your film career.

Josh

Name: Scott
E-mail:

Josh,

i saw two very good documentaries this weekend that I think you might enjoy if you haven't already seen them, "Outfoxed, and "The Corporation". Both of these films are very well made, make valid points, and are franky eye opening. I think a good point that "Outfoxed" proves is that the media is anything but liberal, partially because Fox News brings in high ratings. In other words, its all about money, and Rupert Murdoch's political agenda. It also mentions how and when MSNBC started leaning toward the right. The film makes a great point in stating that the majority of editorial commentators are conservative, even on so-called liberal networks, and radio stations. It's nice to see that there are at least some good documentaries out there, as I believe they are the only films worth seeing these days. Collateral for instance, was a piece of shit but is anyone really surprised?

Dear Scott:

I saw "Outfoxed," and I wasn't all that surprised, since I personally consider all American TV news to be conservative and right leaning, including CNN. MSNBC and Fox are just moreso, to the point of irresponsibility. That montage of Fox "reporters" using the highly unprofessional unattributed quotes, with the lame "It's been heard," or "They're saying," was very good. I saw another good documentary, "My Uncle Berns," which was made by Billy Crystal's daughter, and it's about Billy's uncle, Bernhardt Crystal, who is 88-years old and a really joyous individual. The guy has been through some shit, like living on the streets of NYC for three during the depression, and fighting in WWII, landing on Omaha Beach on D-day, as well as living four blocks from the World Ttrace Centers when the went down. But Uncle Berns clearly has had, and continues to have, a huge influence on everyone in the family.

Josh

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

Mr. Becker,

Forgive my ignorance, but recently, you have been discussing using a zoom and using a dolly. Is there a situation where one is preferred to the other (aside from the one you described about how the dolly wouldn't fit into the tight space)??? Also, how does one tell them apart??? Thanks,
Nate

Dear Nate:

A zoom lens is about a foot long and about 3-4 inches in diameter, whereas a dolly is the size of a riding lawnmower, so they're easy to tell apart. But I jest. You can tell the difference, if you're really looking, because with a zoom the focal length and depth-of-field changes as you zoom. If you zoom from a wide shot to a close-up, the background will go completely out of focus. Also, you can zoom a lot faster than you can dolly. They just look different, and they achieve different psychological purposes. But, for instance, using Mr. Stanley Kubrick as the example, the zoom shot in "Full Metal Jacket" where it zooms from the sniper's POV through the hole in the wall to Arliss Howard could not be achieved any other way beside a zoom. If you tried to move the camera on that same path with a crane it would have taken forever.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

Hey man, just got done watching "Lunatics- A Love Story"... My friend Vito had it and he brought it over tonight and we watched it. I was in heaven. Lunatics was everything I was hoping it would be and more.

We just got a couple questions for ya if you don't mind? First of all I was wondering what does Hank do for a living? I mean how can he pay for that apartment? My friend wanted to know much Aluminum foil did you guys go through? haha. And on top of those two, do you have the first draft of Lunatics or was that lost at all? Cause I'd love to see how it could have been different. It was a great movie man. Fun and funny. Everything I was hoping and alot more. Thanks for making it.

Your fan,
Jonathan

Dear Jonathan:

I'm glad you enjoyed it. Hank is on a disability because they used some experimental drugs on him in the mental hospital that turned out to be dangerous. None of that made it into the final draft of the script or into the film. The script went through fourteen drafts and changed quite a bit in that time. Initially, it was going to R-rated, and Nancy was a phone-sex operator -- which I still think makes more sense -- and Hank just ate pills like they were candy. One of his bottles of pills falls behind the fridge so he can't find it, and that's what originally set off all of his hallucinations. I do have every draft of the script, but not on disk. We (meaning Shirley, the webmaster, and I) are going to begin experimenting with Adobe Acrobat files to see if we can't get some of this vast amount of shit I've written up onto the website, and perhaps we'll put up one of the early drafts of "Lunatics," too.

Josh

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

Josh

Since we got onto the Citizen Kane/Third Man thing...do you ever think that there is a clear, definable Charles Foster Kane? The movie looks at him from other people's perspectives and the viewer has to really search to make a 3D picture of who this guy was. It seems his defining emotion was greed and a need to be loved, to regain what he lost as a child. He cast aside the things he despised most about his adopted father, yet become more like him that he could stand....so who was he?

And, although the Third Man is a great film, most of the credit owing to it in some people's minds are not Carol Reed's direction or great cinematography, but Orson Welle's performance. What can you say about this phenomenon--when a performance overshadows the whole piece? Or, like Gange of New York, when a character has clearly risen above the material? (I dont know if you'll agree, but for me Daniel Day Lewis's Bill the Butcher is the only thing worthy looking for in that Scorsese piece....it's no Goodfellas, for sure).

So, what do you think?

Dear Greene:

John Huston said that he could spend years thinking about and working out a story, spend a year writing a script for a year, spend six months putting a production together, then the second he cast Humphrey Bogart in the lead the whole thing became a Bogart picture. That's what happens frequently when a star is cast in the lead -- it becomes their film. In Orson Welles' and "The Third Man's" case, he managed to do it a in a supporting part. I personally think the key aspect of that film is Graham Greene's script. Greene (like you) and Carol Reed did another film together, "The Fallen Idol," with Ralph Richardson, which I thought was terrific. Meanwhile, I completely disagree with you about Daniel Day Lewis in "Gangs of New York," He was overacting all the way through the film, and was doing, to my mind, a imitation of Peter Falk from "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad, World"--"The cops in this town are morons. Moronic people." Day-Lewis can be good, but in that film he's just chewing the scenery. Of course, the film sucks so bad that anything is helpful to sit through it.

Josh

Name: Bryan Becker
E-mail: bryan_becker@comcast.net

hello Mr Becker ,

first of all i would like to let you know i am a big fan of Bruce Campbell. and i see that you have worked with him many times , i am pleased to see that you have a tremendously GREAT last name . hehe wishing that somehow i am related to you.... anyway i do have a bit of information about another friend of Mr Campbell -Sam Raimi . without say'n too much , im not sure how much i am allowed to say but my cousin is going to be working with Mr Raimi on a project that she wrote -her novel , i will ask her tonite if i can talk about it more..this is all new for me - having a relative in that is this close the the business and i probably sound like a moron too so i will end this message hope to talk to you soon

ohhh i almost forgot ..i was wondering when or where i'd be able to see or get ahold of some of the episodes of Jack of all trades ??

thanks again
Bryan Becker

Dear Bryan:

I don't know about the availability of "Jack of All Trades." I don't think it's even been shown again after the initial showings, unlike it's companion show, "Cleopatra 2525," which showed on SciFi. They ought to at least release it on DVD, but I'm not sure anyone cares.

Josh

Name: Berg
E-mail: Bergstrom@plaintoff.com

Dear Mr. Becker:

Is there any reason why long zoom shots (like the ones used in many 1970s films) have gone out of favour? The only recent shot I can think of is in the orgy scene in Eyes Wide Shut...

Dear Berg:

Because filmmakers, just like most everybody else, are just lemmings waiting to jump off the cliff like the lemming in front of them. Since no one is doing them, they must be uncool. The only thing that's cool is to do exactly what everyone else is doing. Now to be a cool filmmaker you must hand-hold every shot, and never plan anything, nor ever have a great shot in your film. Kubrick didn't shoot his films with regard to what anyone else was doing, he did exactly what he wanted. I've told this story before, but I'll tell it again. On "Hercules in the Maze of the Minotaur," I had a scene where Herc and two other guys are making their way through the maze, and they get to a very tight passegeway. I initially wanted to do a shot where the lens was all the way through the narrow passage, then we dolly back to reveal how tight it is. However, the set was built in such a way that we could not get the dolly into the tight area. Immediately, the crabby old DP said that we had to get the art department in to rebuild the set. Well, I still had a lot to shoot that day and didn't feel like waiting for the set to be rebuilt, so I suggested that we use the zoom instead, which would have revealed the narrow passage just as well as the dolly move. The DP would not use the zoom because he "never used a zoom." I found that somewhat astounding and said, "The zoom is a tool, just like any other piece of film equipment, and it has its place." The DP proclaimed, "Yes, in the truck," and he got a big laugh at my expense. Then I had to wait two hours while they rebuilt the set. Anyway, well used zooms can be beautiful, and Kubrick made terrific use of them. What's particulalry weird to me is to see zooms in very old movies (the zoom lens was invented in 1929). I saw a zoom in the 1930 film "The Big House" and it almost made me fall off my chair. I did one zoom shot in "Alien Apocalypse," that's really a de-zoom, which some wags call a "mooz," as it pulls back with a guy walking toward a fence. In the fully zoomed-in mode you can't tell there's a fence at all, but as it zooms back the fence appears and comes into focus blocking his path. This is a wonderful trick of optics that you can only achieve with a zoom lens.

Josh

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

Josh,

On the subject of the relative importance of XWP/HLJ, did anybody really make extensive use of anachronistic and culturally misplaced martial arts prior to those series? I don't remember seeing martial arts extensively outside of Hong Kong Theater, and particularly not in the cartoonish way they are so often portrayed today (obviously there were movies like "Officer and a Gentleman"). I also think that the "Charlie's Angels", "Kill Bill" movies take their cultural motivation directly from Xena. What woman was trying to be taken seriously as a fighter (outside of real fighter, but "C" movie actress, Cynthia Rothrock) prior to Xena? Now every one-hundred pound woman is beating the crap out of two-hundred and fifty pound former NFL linemen. Maybe the shows (XWP/HLJ) did the world a disservice, but I think they were definitely influential.

On a different note, I loved the most recent "Bushism"; (to paraphrase)"America's enemies will never stop looking for ways to bring down America and neither will we." Something like that. Anyway, it was classic.

You were mentioning favorite scenes. One of mine has always been from"Fort Apache" where Henry Fonda is interviewing Ward Bond about his son, played by John Agar.

Fonda: "I was under the impression that appointments to the Academy were reserved for sons of winners of the Congressional Medal of Honor."

Bond: "That was my impression as well, sir."

What a great way to make a point.

John

Dear John:

I'm not trying to say that Xena wasn't influential because I think it was, but it's certainly not a show I would have ever watched had I not worked on it.

Another great scene is in "The Bridge on the River Kwai," when Alec Guinness is taken out of the oven and brought in to talk to Sessue Hayakawa, who first offers him corned beef, then scotch whiskey ("I prefer it to sake"), then a cigar, all of which Guinness turns down. Finally, Hayakawa says that if he doesn't have the bridge built by a specific date he'll have to kill himself. He asks, "What would you do?" Guinnness replies, "I suppose I'd have to kill myself," then picks up the glass of scotch, "Cheers."

Josh

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

Josh

Since you mentioned Betrayal, I was reminded of something. Did you watch Seinfeld (or do you)? If so, what's your opinion on the series?
And what do you think represents the best fictional tv programs?

Dear Greene:

I've seen any number of Seinfeld episodes over the years, but I was never dedicated to it. I do think it's a funny ensemble. And enough with this best/worst crap. That's for all the magazines and TV shows at the end of the year. I just saw a good movie, the documentary "Spellbound," not to be confused with the Hitchcock film. Very well-conceived and put together, and tightly edited.

Josh

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

Josh

What do you think of film critics either individually (Ebert or James Berardinelli's Reelviews.net) or as a whole? Do you think they have a function in impressing upon important opunions to the viewer?

And...Chris Nolan did a wonderful job of creating atmosphere and tone conducive to mystery in Memento (2000). What do you find is the best way to convey a film's atmosphere or attitude? Nolan did it best with music and Guy Pearce's performance.

Dear Greene:

"Memento" sucked, and Guy Pearce's performance sucked, too. Once you've got the schematic of the story -- each event caused a tattoo -- it became repetitive and severely dull. I'll take Harold Pinter's "Betrayal," which is also told backward (and came out 20 years earlier), because it's used for an emotional purpose, as opposed to just a shtick. "Betrayal" isn't all that good, but it's miles ahead of "Memento."

Meanwhile, I can't stand Roger Ebert, whose taste is up his fat ass. I've never read Reelviews. But since these contemporary films aren't worth watching in the first place, who cares what critics say?

Josh

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

Josh

From a visual standpoint, which do you prefer, The Third Man or Citizen Kane, and why? (I think Harry Lime's entrance and the tunnel chase trump even some of the best shots in Kane, except perhaps for the campaign shot with the gigantic poster...)

Dear Greene:

I don't even think they're close, "Citizen Kane" blows "The Third Man" off the map. Yes, Harry Lime's entrace is terrific, and the sewer chase is cool, particularly the last shot of the fingers through the sewer grate, but "The Third Man" is not doing anything new or setting any precendents. Orson Welles is making use of just about every film technique there is. Nobody had ever shot such low-angle shots before; put ceilings into their sets; had made such extensive use of long-focus (following up on William Wyler's "The Little Foxes," also photographed by the great Gregg Toland); hand-held documentary-looking footage; great transitions (Mr. Thatcher says to the child Kane, "Merry Christmas . . ." and to the adult Kane, " . . . And a happy New Year"); and one great shot after another after another -- the crane up into the fly of the theater during Susan's opera performance to the stage hand holding his nose; the move through the skylight; the crane shot over all the artifacts. Seriously, "Citizen Kane" is 100 times the movie that "The Third Man" is, and much more important historically and artistically.

Josh

Name: Kevin
E-mail:

Hello Josh,

I read someone's attack to you, and their comment went something like "Well, Xena and Herc are dumb blah blah." And you responded with, "Yeah, well, I didn't make it."

You hold "character development" in high esteem when it comes to story telling. And I believe that the Xena series have succeeded in doing just that. It's always a thrill to watch a Xena fight-scene. It's not anywhere as fancy as a fight scene from... oh, the big budget flicks like "Gladiator" or "Troy." But I think it's more moving, and entertaining, because the series are so character-driven and that adds an excitement to every battle. An example, "Is there a doctor in the house?" That last scene with Xena and Gabrielle just moved me, and that's something that's very rare in movies these days. And the people who think the series is a joke, has not really followed the series. They probably watched an episode in the middle of season 3 or 4. Well, movie-wise, that's like skipping Act 1, the character set up, altogether. They weren't introduced to the characters in the beginning, therefore they don't care for the characters or the series. You can just do a search on the internet and find how many sites are dedicated to the series. How many people the series moved. To conclude, I think the Xena series should be held in high-esteem.

Your thoughts?

Dear Kevin:

I hate being misquoted. I didn't say, "I didn't make it." I said, "I didn't create it." I certainly did "make" nine episodes of Xena, and I wrote two others. As for the show's significance, well, that's up to the viewer. As for me, I would never have watched the show if I hadn't worked on it, and I always had grave difficulties sitting through any other episodes besides the ones I directed. I worked on the show, and had a great time doing it, but I was never a fan.

Josh

Name: Kevin
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

You talked about how many people make the mistake of jumping into the action rather than setting up the characters. My question is... can't you do both? Action and character development. I mean, in writing, or storytelling in general, doesn't an exciting attention-grabbing introduction work for your benefit?

Dear Kevin:

No, absolutely not. This is the doing of paranoid, fearful distributors and studio executives, and has nothing to do with good storytelling techniques. If an audience is ever going to be patient it's at the beginning of a story when they are internally demanding that the characters and situation be set-up properly so that they feel in their guts that this story will carry their interest for the next two or more hours they will have to sit there. If you jump straight into an action scene you are failing at your responsibility. That's why most films that do begin with action drop dead soon thereafter. Act one is not about action, that's the purpose of act two. Act one is strictly about set-up, and that's what most films are sorely lacking.

Josh

Name: justmarvin
E-mail:

Hi Josh,

I watch 9/11 and the first thing that came to my mind was your definition of an exploitation movie: "Tthe dramatically unnecessary taking of human life or dignity to achieve visceral thrills or shocks." You said "Saving Private Ryan" makes "Friday the 13th" and "Nightmare on Elm Street" look like the work of newborn infants. Well, let me just tell ya, "Farenheit 9/11" tops them all in the exploitation MOVIE category.

Moore pieced bits of footage together to make George Bush look like an idiot. But Moore's main thrust was using the age-old adage that "war is hell." Ok, we all know that "war is hell." Moore uses that fact to manipulate the viewers to form antagonistic emotions at the (falsely portrayed) "inapt" president.

Moore's personal attacks on Bush have no grounds whatsoever. They are all
out-of-context pieces which he pieced together to form an entirely different picture. The only truth that Moore portrayed to the audience is that "War is hell." But it's how he used that truth that disgusts me. He exploited the lives of the people who suffered from the war for the sheer purpose of stirring antagonistic emotions against Bush.

With the creepy background music, the out-of-context scenarios (Read http://fahrenheit_fact.blogspot.com/), the falsified information, false implications, etc.... in the end, who REALLY is fooling who?

Moore said that people's decisions are easily shaped because of their ignorance. It will be a sad case in America, when Moore succeeds in doing just that with his film: Shaping people's decisions because of their ignorance. Especially come election time.

Now, don't think that I worship Bush. This comment is not meant to be a critique or judgement on Bush. I keep my political stance to myself. But I was just disgusted at the film per se.

Cheers,
Marvin

Dear Marvin:

It is a documentary, not a fiction film. And no one has to go out of their way or to any real trouble to make George Bush look like an idiot, all he has to do is open his mouth. I don't think that "war is hell" is point of that film anyway, it's that George Bush is a terrible president who has made nothing but bad, lying decisions for three and half years. Certainly, the war in Iraq is hell, and we shouldn't be there, so that makes it even worse. Also, why shouldn't Moore use footage of those that suffered due to Bush's stupid decisions? Those families wouldn't be suffering if Bush and his people hadn't lied about everything to get us into an entirely unnecessary war. All of the death, pain, and suffering in Iraq is enitrely and 100% George W. Bush's fault. George Bush has caused as much suffering in this world as several of the worst fascist dictators. The man cannot be condemned sufficiently.

Josh


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