Q & A    Archive
Page 132

Name: Mike
E-mail: SGbumjacket@aol.com

Dear Mr. Becker,

How can you make such gems of films like Alien Apocalypse and have the balls to bash Spielberg and the Coens'? just wonderin'...thanks!
- M

Dear Mike:

Have you seen "Alien Apocalypse"? How do you know it's not brilliant? Since, in my opinion, Spielberg and the Coens are so easy to bash, it really doesn't take very big balls to do so. And since any "critic" on any rag newspaper in the entire world can bash anybody they like, I don't get the same freedom just because I've made some movies?

Josh

Name: Matt David T.
E-mail: msturnbull@comcast.net

Josh! You're not dead at all!

Lots and LOTS of life left to live! You could still quite possibly do many (or already have done many as of my sending you this list) of the things on the following list:

* Make a truly great film.
* Inspire the next great filmmaker.
* Write a wonderful script, that's then made into a great film by someone else (who you likely inspired with your writing.)
* Meet the love of your life, and settle down with her (or him?) and live happily ever after with NO children!
* Kill a man in Reno just to watch him die.
* Break a world record.
* Learn to start fires with your mind.
* Get into the video game writing industry (interactive movies man, I'm telling you!)
* Have wild and crazy sex with twins! (Highly recommended, even if it's only one at a time.)
* Act in a cameo role in a film, and be discovered as a great character actor!
* Eat snow!
* Eat Snow peas! (I love snow peas.)

Whether or not you have any interest on anything on the list above, I'm sure you could easily create your own list of things, and accomplish all of them.

Basically, what I'm saying is that it's MUCH MUCH too early for you to regret your path in life. Each new day brings with it new opportunities, and new paths and directions to take your life. That's all :).

There's an obligatory question requirement for sending you mail, huh?

Umm... How are your... pets doing?

Dear Matt:

Hey, I'm not lamenting my life, someone asked a question and I tried to answer it honestly. Twins, huh? I made my decisions in life and I don't regret them. And I have some irons in the fire. It ain't over 'til it's over. My cats are fine, they're just going stir-crazy, they've had enough winter already.

Josh

Name: Trey Smith
E-mail: cobra_commander_of_cobra@yahoo.com

Dear Josh:

I was just looking at the promo picture for Alien Apocalypse on Scifi.com and Bruce looks kinda old. Is this makeup to make him look aged since he's returing to Earth from space or is Bruce just starting to age in real life?

Dear Trey:

That's just what Bruce looks like now. Time makes fools of us all.

Josh

Name: Christine
E-mail: christine34@aol.com

Josh,

Do you regret focussing so much time on your career and not enough time on your personal life, e.g. wife and kids? Have you ever been in-love? I mean, besides with film! lol!

Christine

Dear Christine:

That's a good question. I have regretted it on occasion, but not usually. Someone once asked Stephen King why he chose to write horror stories and he replied, "Who chose." There are plenty of kids in the world, so no one really needs my contribution there. And no, I have never been in love, other than with film.

Josh

Name: Trey Smith
E-mail: cobra_commander_of_cobra@yahoo.com

Dear Josh:

God, you really don't know how sad the world is until you read some of the imdb message boards. Some of these kids could be our future directors and they are completely ignorant to what a good film is.

Here are a few things I read:
1)According to one of these guys Citizen Kane is the most overrated movie in film history...next to Titantic.
2)The Usual Suspects and Pulp Fiction are better films than The Godfather.
3)According to this same guy The Godfather films are overrated.
4)This guy once more claims that if a movie is boring to anyone it is not one of the greatest films of all time since movies are made for entertainment.

Anyway, maybe these guys aren't our future directors...but they are part of the reason we haven't had a really good film in ages. Only a few since I was born.

Anyway, enough ranting. You probaly are wondering "Why the fuck are you telling me this???". I hope you still have some copies of "If I Had a Hammer"over the next few weeks....I'm broke at the moment but I REALLY want it. Maybe I'll be able to purchase it next week.

Really looking foward to Alien Apocalypse.

Dear Trey:

I've still got about 35 "Hammer" tapes, so don't worry. They seem to be moving at a rate of one a week. It's taken me nearly three years to move 200 of them. So, if they keep moving at this steady pace, I'll break even in just 1,000 years.

Josh

Name: Tom
E-mail: bellyoptopus@yahoo.com

Dear Josh:

Thanks for pointing the way to your interviews on Xena season one, I had completely forgotten about the extra disc with just the Directors. Still, I would have liked to have heard some commentaries from you on an episode or two (comedies specifically) that you directed in the later seasons!

I like your "Religion is Evil" essay too! You said it all better than I could...I found insightful and find it hard to keep myself from reading it from time to time.

"The Apartment" is favorite film of mine too and watch it every year as well. It never get's old at all even though technologically dates itself with an office building full of typewriters instead of computers...but it's part of it's charm! All the main Actors turn in performances of exceptionally complex characters which is part of why it's worth revisiting over and over again.

One thing I'm perplexed about is your assertion several times that because of the number of films you've watched that it's proof that your not wasting your life! Who's been telling you that you're wasting your life buy watching movies? You're a Director, so watching films is studying your craft!!! I just find it a puzzling and amusing statement!!!

Dear Tom:

It's a quote from "Love and Death," where Woody Allen's father has a piece of land, a square of sod he keeps with him. Later in the film he says that he's going to build a house on his piece of land, and Woody Allen says, "No one can say you've wasted your life." You see, everything is a movie reference. But these is a certain hint of truth in it, too. Watching movies isn't really living life. Or at least, not living it to the fullest. As a comedian said, My dad grew up during the Great Depression, fought in World War II, came home from Europe, got married, started a family, bought a house, then started a business. I have every episode of "I Dream of Jeannie" on video tape.

Josh

Name: Darryl Mesaros
E-mail: simonferrer@sbcglobal.net

Dear Josh,

I almost forgot...I think my favorite part of SUNSET BOULEVARD was when Norma and Joe are watching one of "Norma's" old silent films, projected by Max, and the film is Stroheim's QUEEN KELLY (which actually starred Gloria Swanson, was directed by Stroheim, and was probably the film that wrecked Swanson's career). I find the fact that Wilder used real has-been actors of the silent era to play has-beens fascinating, if a little creepy.

Darryl

Dear Darryl:

Not the end of Gloria Swanson's career, the end of Erich Von Stroheim's career as a director. Gloria Swanson had the biggest hit of her whole career that year, 1928, with "Sadie Thompson," which she also produced. But after "Queen Kelly" Von Stroheim never directed again. What really gets me is that Gloria Swanson is 49 years old in "Sunset Blvd.," has been retired for nearly 20 years, and represents a completely different era. The actual title of the film is "Sunset Blvd." with boulevard abbreviated, which we see painted on a curb.

Josh

Name: Darryl Mesaros
E-mail: simonferrer@sbcglobal.net

Dear Josh,

There was a little of the morgue sequence in the DVD special features, but just the coroner's van pulling up to the morgue, and footage of William Holden being wheeled in on a gurney. None of the film had sound, so probably they put in all there was. As for your early films, maybe you could rotate them on the server, kind of a "Feature of the Month" sort of deal, so that you wouldn't have to use up too much server space. Just a thought....
Last night I watched THE PRISONER OF ZENDA, with Stewart Granger and James Mason, and was wondering what you thought of the film. To me, it seemed a little dated (definitely a product of the studio system), but it was very nicely photographed and the climatic fight scene between Granger and Mason was paced fast enough that it didn't look overly choreographed. Also, James Mason stole the show as the villanous Rupert of Hentzau.

Darryl

Dear Darryl:

I've never seen that version. I think James Mason was basically always great, and frequently stole the show in his subtle way. If you get the chance, check out one of Mason's great early films, "Odd Man Out" (1947) directed by Carol Reed. When I was just in Bulgaria the French version of Turner Classic Movies (with an insanely repetitive schedule and commercials between the films), showed the 1953 Joseph Mankiewicz "Julius Caesar" over and over again, and even though I'd already seen it several times, I watched it several more times. James Mason's Brutus is really and truly brilliant, and I think he kind of shows up everybody in that cast, and that's some cast to show up: Marlon Brando, John Gielgud, Deborah Kerr, Greer Garson, and Louis Calhern (who was very interesting casting for Caesar).

Meanwhile, I think your idea of rotating the films is a good one, and I'll pursue it further. Thanks.

Josh

Name: Eric Zuesse
E-mail: cettel@shoreham.net

Dear Josh:

Like you, I am convinced that religion is evil. I'd like to discuss with you what is the best way to attack it. Under Bush, it's becoming a greater and greater threat. Few people are willing to counter-attack; even humanists and atheists don't seem to recognize the threat--they're just playing games, socializing, or whatever.

Dear Eric:

In the episode of "Star Trek," on the planet Vulcan, where Kirk and Spock must fight each other, Dr. McCoy says that the air is too thin for humans so it's not fair. Spok's mother says, "The air is the air, what can you do?" Bones holds up a syringe and says (oddly, wonderfully), "I'll compe'sate." Anyway, the point here is that humans are humans, what can you do? Of the nearly six and a half billion people alive right now, five and a half billion are actively involved with some sort of religion, and just shy of one billion people are listed as Athiest or Non-religious (as per my brand new almanac). So, that's over 5 to 1. What are you going to do, talk the other five out of their religious beliefs? This stuff was inculcated into their earliest memories by their parents and grandparents. To question it at all shows an amount of free will most humans don't have. To paraphrase Flannery O'Connor once again, Jesus is a trick on the slaves. It's what gets most people to work their lives away on some shitty job because religion assures them they'll have a better life in the next world. Well, living this life is the trick, and if you for one single second seriously believe that you're going to get a better life in the next world, then you're short-changing this life, and this is your real life. Anything other than this life is pure conjecture, and any attention paid to any other existence beside this one is a pure waste of time.

Josh

Name: Jonas Talkington
E-mail: jotek@fastmail.fm

Hi Josh.

Just wanted to congratulate you on Alien Apocalypse and the upcoming premiere this month. It was a pleasure working with you, and I can't wait to see it. I would even watch it if I wasn't in it :D
Hope things are going well, and looking forward to watching your next film after A.A.
-Jonas

Dear Jonas:

It was a total pleasure working with you. I really enjoy working with people like you who are upbeat and energetic and are clearly enjoying the process. I hope you get to see the film there in Bulgaria somehow.

Josh

Name: Darryl Mesaros
E-mail: simonferrer@sbcglobal.net

Dear Josh,

I just watched SUNSET BOULEVARD again, and I forgot what an incredible film it is. I was wondering, however, if any finished footage of the film's original opening existed intact. My DVD copy has some lead in footage and the shooting script from the morgue sequence, but not a cut of the entire scene itself. If it exists and you know where to find it, I would be greatly interested.
Also, I just watched THE BLIND WAITER off of your website, and was wondering if any plans were in the works to make any more of your early films available in the same format. I would be particularly interested in seeing the original pilot version of STRYKER'S WAR, since I've only seen it in a poor quality bootleg. I know it's time-consuming to do the digital transfer, but I think you would have an audience for the films if you put them up. What do you think?

Darryl

Dear Darryl:

It just takes up a lot of space on the server. I wouldn't mind putting up all of the old movies, but I don't want to pay for the extra memory. Yes, I just watched "Sunset Blvd." again, too, and it is an incredible movie. Entirely one of a kind, and totally unrepeatable. When she visits DeMille's set and the boom mike hits the feather in her hat and she waves it away, that's great stuff. And her "Waxworks" bridge pals: Buster Keaton, H.B. Warner (who played Jesus in DeMille's silent "King of Kings"), and Hedda Hopper. It's all too good. Anyway, I've never heard of any of that morgue footage still existing. Most footage that gets cut out of movies gets thrown away.

Josh

Name: DCM
E-mail: cartboard@yahoo.com

Dear Josh:

Hello there! I'm wondering where I can find a certain episode of Real Stories of the Highway Patrol. My wife was in one in the early 90's playing an undercover officer on a drug bust and I'd like to get a copy. Who do I get in touch with? I don't want to give her name in public. Could you e-mail me?

Thanks very much!

Dear DCM:

Look on the internet, some geek probably has them all. I certainly don't, and it's been about 13 years since I worked on that show. Good luck.

Josh

Name: Dee
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

You mentioned that you have TIVO now..Are you watching more television shows? I think I've read where you like the Simpsons, but what other shows on television do you think are geniunely funny or good?

P.S. If you haven't seen Arrested Development, you really need to..I find it to be the funniest show on television.

Dear Dee:

I use TiVo primarily for movies, and it's causing me to watch more mediocre movies than I've seen in a long time. I just caught a whole bunch of Oscar winners and nominees on TCM, like "Disreali" (Best Actor, George Arliss, 1929), "The Divorcee" (Best Acrtess, Norma Shearer, 1930), "A Free Soul" (Best Actor, Lionel Barrymore, 1931), "Smilin' Through" (1932), "Blossoms in the Dust" (1941), "Bright Victory (1951), etc. I do have "The Simpsons" in the TiVo memory, and I've come to the conclusion that any episode newer than 1999 just isn't funny. Maybe it was the death of Phil Hartman that caused it, or perhaps it was just that it had been on for ten years at that point. The only other TV shows I have in my TiVo are: American Experience, Nova, Frontline, and Inside the Actor's Studio. And everything related to boxing.

Josh

Name: john
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

The oscars sucked. Just proves how much hollywood movies suck. I mean, fuck, they even had P Diddy presenting. I mean, come the fuck on! Geez, I'm so totally sick of the hip/hop/rap everything. Can't we have real movies and music again? Sorry for the short rant, Josh. My question is: since the death of the midnight underground film and the takeover of the independent film by Hollywood, what new avenue do you think new filmmakers will use to get their films seen? The internet?

Dear john:

Do you watch movies on the internet? I don't. I don't mind seeing clips of things on the internet, but if I'm going to watch a whole movie, I need a good, large picture. But if the general populace only wants to see "Shrek 2" and "The Incredibles," what are you going to do?

Josh

Name: Mike
E-mail:

Hi Josh,

I finished "The Complete Guide to Low-Budget Feature Filmmaking" and enjoyed it immensely. I've read a lot of books on film making, both digital and 35mm/16mm, and yours is certainly one of the best out there. So they didn't like it because everyone's doing DV books these days, eh? Doesn't it seem ironic that publishing companies only want to put out DV film making books while the distributors are looking primarily for 35mm/16mm films? I guess there's a reason all those publishers are in the book business and not the film business.

I had some comments about some of the content:

Regarding the section on reshoots - do you have any other tips on ensuring that reshoots match the rest of your footage? What steps do you typically go through when you have to reshoot?

Also, in the lighting section would it be possible to give a brief rundown of lighting instruments? Nothing too complex - just an overview of the major types of lights.

Your section on LLCs and LPs was great! Along similar lines, what can you tell us about coming up with contracts for actors? What sorts of things should be included?

All of your information on assembling and composing shots & shot direction is fantastic. Clear, simple, and to the point. Ditto on your sections on depth of field & exposure. I've referred numerous people to your guide for those sections alone.

Your explanation of film processing, negative cutting, and so on were fantastic. As someone who's only worked on direct to video 16mm or DV projects I found those sections more enlightening and easier to follow than any other I've seen so far.

Similarly, your advice on working actors and crew were concise, helpful, and clearly based on practical experience. In fact, that's exactly how the entire book felt - it was as close to "learning by doing" as you can get from a book. As someone who's always valued learning in the field more than classroom education, I really appreciated the overall tone of your book.

I've always been happy to refer people to your site. Now when my non-film friends have questions I've just been sending them the link to your guide. Thank you so much for putting it out there - it's a prefect example of what the internet is good for. Bravo to you!

As always, keep up the great work, and fight the good fight.

Out!

Mike

Dear Mike:

Thanks for the nice review, and I'm glad you enjoyed it. Let's see . . .

Reshoots -- well, make sure to get the same actors and costumes, if humanly possible, and shoot on the same film stock. It's good if you can get back the same crew, specifically the hair and make-up people, so that matches. However, many times nothing matches anymore -- actors cut their hair, dye their hair blue, shave off facial hair -- so you do the best you can to recreate.

Lighting -- Quartz movie lights come in little kickers and inkies that are 250-500 Watts, 1000 Watts, 2000 Watts, 5000 Watts, and then you're into big, monster lights (the nicknames for these are 1K or 2K or 5K, meaning kilowatts). If they're Mole-Richardson brand, then they have names like Mini-Moles and Mighty-Moles. Then you have HMI lights, which are calibrated for daylight (as opposed to the quartz lights which are incandescent), and those come in the same sizes as quartz lights, but I think they go up to a 10,000 Watt light, or a 10K.

Actors contracts -- If I'm not mistaken, you can download a standard Screen Actor's Guild contract from their website, then make whatever changes you want to it.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

Anything interesting happen at the oscars, I was sick so I said fuck it and watched THE GODFATHER PART 2, CITIZEN KANE, and BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI again. My favorite part in the godfather 2 was when Robert DeNiro was standing in the hallway with a towel wrapped around his gun and Don Fanucci is flickering the light not noticing he's about to be shot... just enough to wet his beak eh? I also watched DAY WITHOUT A MEXICAN... gee what a good example of what to do and what NOT to do on a digital camera, it looks like crap. I like the joke where they're asking the afghan actor guy if he's mexican and he gets pissed off saying he's always getting typecasted into the mexican roles, then in a later news shot, you see him in the recreation of a border patrol incident.

Dear kdn:

No, not much interesting happened at the Oscars, other than Martin Scorsese got snubbed yet again, and he's always getting beaten by actors-turned-directors, like Robert Redford, Kevin Costner, Mel Gibson, and now Clint Eastwood, too. Apparently, Scorsese's response was, "I get it." In case anyone's interested, Clint Eastwood winning his second Best Director Oscar puts him into the company of: David Lean, George Stevens, Lewis Milestone, Elia Kazan, Joseph Mankiewicz, Fred Zinnemann, Oliver Stone, Billy Wilder, Robert Wise, Leo McCarey, Frank Borzage and Frank Lloyd. The only directors with more than two Oscars are: William Wyler and Frank Capra, both with three; and John Ford with four. Hillary Swank, meanwhile, by winning a second Best Actress Oscar, joins the company of: Bette Davis, Ingrid Bergman, Luise Rainer, Elizabeth Taylor, Sally Field, Glenda Jackson, Meryl Streep, Vivian Leigh, and Olivia DeHavilland.

Josh

Name: Tom
E-mail: bellyoptopus@yahoo.com

Dear Josh:

Have you seen the documentary "Lost in La Mancha"? If not....basically it's about Director Terry Gilliam's attempt to try and make a film version of "The Man Who Killed Don Quixote" and the series of unfortunate mishaps during pre-production and initial filming which only lasted 6 days then everthing came to a grinding halt! I think IFC has been playing it recently, but I rented it because of the extra 2 hour long interviews with Gilliam with an audience! Anyway, my question is... have you had any film projects that you thought for sure were going to get off the ground but were thwarted by circumstances out of your control?

Also, were you asked or were you just not interested in doing interviews/commentaries for the Xena/Hercules DVD sets? Do you try to distance yourself from your involvement in the two TV series?

Just wondering!!!

Dear Tom:

There's an interview with me on one of the extra disks in the 1st season collection of Xena. I've seen "Lost in La Mancha" twice. I found it highly amusing. I've never had a production canceled once it started shooting. But as I've said before, if I was the bonder on that film I would have shut him down, too. You never ever say to a bonder, "I don't know what we're going to do." What you've in fact just said is, "Shut me down." Terry Gilliam could have had an actor as good as Ben Kingsley on a plane and ready to shoot by Monday, but he didn't know how to handle the situation, so he deserved to be shut down.

Josh

Name: Jason McNeal
E-mail: jason.mcneal@comcast.net

Hiya Josh! Haven't been to your site in a while. I just moved and changed jobs and since I always write to tell you, here I am. I left the Library of Congress last June after spending 3 years preserving early Warner Bros. short subjects (saw a lot of pre-Stooges Shemp Howard stuff!). The gov't pays well but I had to work with idiots; people who really have no business in the field of film preservation. It's nice to know that the world's cinematic history is getting destroyed by people who don't give a shit. I'm now living in Atlanta working for CNN tranferring 20 year old news footage to some new fangled digital format. Nice and easy.
Just read "Religion Is Evil". Stupendous! Amazing! I thought I was the only one who felt that way! I'm sure you've upset quite a few people, but I guess that's nothing new for you! Interestingly, a lot of the stories I see on these old news tapes I work on have a decidedly Christian skew.
It's crazy and irritating.
Anyway, I hope the awesomeness of no-sales-tax Oregon is treating you well. Can't wait to see "Alien Apocalypse"!
Over and Out, Jason

Dear Jason:

Except that I now live in Detroit, where we do pay sales tax. I'm glad to hear that those early warner Bros. shorts are being preserved. Yeah, Shemp thought he had a career there for a while, without the Stooges, but it didn't really pan out. So it was perfect for him to step in for his ailing brother, Curly. Meanwhile, I'm reading a fascinating book, "The Metaphysical Club" by Louis Menand, which won the Pulitzer Prize in 2003 for history. It begins with the story of Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, his experiences fighting in the Civil War (he was wounded three times), and how he came to not believe in beliefs. He felt that certitude leads to violence, and the paradox is that you can be certain of that. But that's what religions are all about, certitude, and that ultimately leads to violence. As has been said, the only truly tolerant people are those with no strong beliefs.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

After reading your site i was amazaed that no one brought up the death of Hunter S. Thompson.I was just wondering what your thoughts are on the man and his work.

Dear Nick:

It was brought up, and I did comment, unless that Q&A disappeared, too.

Josh

Name: Blake in Missouri
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

Oh, my gosh. I may disagree with you on the oscars, but I'll bet I've got something here that you agree with...

I just saw "Gun Crazy," and I've been knocked out. This is the first Joseph H. Lewis film I've ever seen. I hear I need to see "My Name is Julia Ross," "The Undercover Man," "The Big Combo," and "Terror in a Texas Town."

On "Gun Crazy," the opening shot of the rain filled street, with young Bart rounding the corner and coming toward us, then the camera quickly moves back to reveile the inside of a gun shop...Hell, absolutely excellent style, and the whole film just runs at you with this sort of stuff. But the heist, shot entirely inside the car totally shocked me, exspecially with it's contemporary feel, both with the shot itself, but the tension and nature of the actors...but when the camera dollies up to the front seat and out the window I almost lost my mind! I'm still just amazed. It's very easy to see Lewis' influence on a ton of directors. Even the ending in the mist filled bog I thought had a future Kurosawa feel to it. Lewis just had terrific intuition. I can see it just after one film. Every wanna be filmmaker should see this movie. There's not a dull moment and that's something to learn.

An interesting story I heard was that Joan Crawford after seeing "Gun Crazy," tried to seduce Lewis, who would have nothing to do with her. He seemed like a truly honorable man based on comments made by others, and his own interview with Bogdanovich in "Who The Devil Made It." At any rate, I've made a film discovery to enjoy further and that doesn't happen too much any more.

Blake

Dear Blake:

"Gun Crazy" is wonderful; a terrific B-film. I admire the hell out of directors like Joseph Lewis, Edgar Ulmer, and Anthony Mann, guys who could really make something out of nothing, and took pride in doing so. These guys generally had 5-day shooting schedules, for a feature film. Have you seen Anthony Mann's film noir movies? "Desperate," "Railroaded," "Side Street," "Raw Deal." They're really something, and if you haven't seen them, you should.

Josh

Name: BG
E-mail: fgrove1@triad.rr.com

Dear Josh:

I was reading these letters to one another and was wondering if you (Josh) ever even watched any of these movies?Hoffman is not playing an indian,Cazale is not gay(he even says so IN the movie)and your comment on Pt Ryan,DOH!Well anyway Netflix these sometime "Mr Director" and WATCH them.

Dear BG:

It's like a little puzzle -- what on earth is he referring to? "Hoffman is not playing an indian." Is that in "Little Big Man"? "Cazale is not gay." In "Dog Day Afternoon"? Meanwhile, I dumped Netflix, which I enjoyed, but now I'm using TiVo instead. And I assure you that I watch many more movies than is probably good for me. I'm just about to break 4,000. I'm at 3,955. Nobody can say I've wasted my life.

Josh

Name: Frank Demne
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

What do you think of Woody Allen's films?

Dear Frank:

I was a major Woody Allen fan up to "Manhattan," which is where I think he stopped putting in the time on his scripts. Once he won the Oscar for"Annie Hall," and everybody decided he was a "genius," he's never recovered. He was much better off being a creepy little bespectacled Jewish comedian; there was plenty of humor there to mined. Being a genius, however, isn't very funny. If he never made another movie, that would be just fine with me.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

Okay, I agree with you. Rosemary's Baby gave me the fuckin creeps. It doesn't even try to jump out at you with scare moments, it just does it by the look of the film and the subject matter. That, and, the spanish-indian family I married into has some witches in it (yeah, we avoid those people) and some pretty screwed up stories this film reminded me of. I liked how it kind of gives you the creeps mostly by its casting too. I'll have to check out the TENANT of REPULSION next. I also thought the SEVENTH SEAL was a really good dark comedy, I think its as good as CITIZEN KANE and THE APARTMENT (in my personal opinion, but I've still got 500 movies to go). I also finally checked out ALL OF ME, which I'm surprised it was funny cause its from the same people that did THE JERK and THE MAN WITH THE SCREAMING BRAIN. I think Jim Carrey's performance in ME, MYSELF, and IRENE was influenced by this. Have you ever met Danny Elfman, I just saw him play The Devil in FORBIDDEN ZONE, he was singing a weird riff on a Cab Calloway song, MINNIE THE MOOCH. I noticed His OOGIE BOOGIE MAN song in THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS also kind of sounded like Cab Calloway.

Dear kdn:

I think you're going overboard when you say that "The Seventh Seal" is as good as "Citzen Kane" and "The Apartment." I don't even think they're close. I liked "The Seventh Seal," but it's not a film I care to watch very often. Whereas, I could watch "Citzen Kane" and "The Apartment" every year for the rest of my life. I've never met Danny Elfman, although I've been at the same party at the same time. Definitely check out "The Tenant" and"Repulsion," which fit in nicely before and after "Rosemary's Baby." Real horror movies don't need the "jump out at you" scares, which are all ultimately lame, are really just a trick, and aren't legitimately scary. On the other hand, the moment in "Rosemary's Baby," during the brilliant, drug-induced dream sequence, when she's being fucked by something awful and she realizes, "This isn't a dream; this is really happening." Now that's scary.

Josh

Name: Anthony Earl
E-mail: aed2426@comcast.net

Dear Reader,

I just read your internet posting about religion and it's very nature being evil and I couldn't agree more! In fact, I have been feeling that something is inherently negative about organized religion as far back as I can remember.

You so eloquently state the obvious that I would like to ask your permission in copying your posting your words of wisdom in another forum. I will give you your rightful credit in doing so.

I clearly hope that you would consider allowing me to do so.

Sincerely,
Anthony

Dear Anthony:

Certainly, be my guest. I can't tell you how much I deeply believe that all religions are bad, and are the basis of many of the ills of our species. They are entirely about divisiveness -- us and them. Here's my newest metaphor for religion: Life is a path through the jungle which is filled with man-eating lions and tigers, and no one makes it out the other side alive; everybody gets eaten by lions or tigers at some point. Religion is the guy in front of you saying, "Don't worry, it's all going to be okay. Not only that, but there's an oasis at the end of the trail where life is beautiful." Well, both of you know what he's saying is bullshit, but you both try your best to believe it by using "faith," the method whereby humans convince themselves that lies are true.

Josh

Name: Rich
E-mail: bigrich70@yahoo.com

Dear Josh,

I'm curious if you've ever used a camera move called a "Dutch Tilt" and/or could you explain what it is? I've read that Orson Welles employed this type of shot on occasion but I'm stumped as to what it actually is.

Also I'm wondering how you approached directing the sex scene in "Running Time"? I take it Bruce and Anita were really total professionals and it wasn't that big a deal? Reason I ask is that I know you mentioned doing sex scenes/nudity can be embarassing and I'm curious if you took any special steps or went out of your way to reassure the actress about the scene. I'm directing a scene along the same lines and am curious as to how you handled yours.

Best,

Rich

Dear Rich:

Any camera angle that is cocked to the right or the left is called a "Dutch Angle," although I can't tell you why since it's not like the Dutch Masters used cockeyed angles. Dutch angles were once used to give an unsettling feeling (like in "The Cabinet of Dr. Calgari"), but now they're somewhat ubiquitous. I used Dutch angles in "Hammer" when the characters are stoned. Meanwhile, the way to achieve Dutch angles is to use the Dutch Head on the tripod, which tilts sideways in both directions. You can also achieve this effect by lowering one of the legs of the tripod.

Regarding the sex scene in RT, we just rehearsed the scene a number of times in the week or two leading up to the shoot so that when it came to shooting it we'd already been there and done it several times and it was no big deal. Yes, Bruce and Anita are total pros and it really was no big deal, other than the truck we were shooting in was about 120 degrees inside. Anita needed no reassurance from me. At one point she grabbed Bruce's face hard (this was for the very last scene) and ordered, "Will you kiss me!" Bruce had been slightly holding back, and Anita wasn't having any of that. During the sex scene, I now recall, she told Bruce, "Do anything you want," meaning there's nothing you can do during the scene that will upset me as a woman, we're both actors so let's make this good. I must tell you, I take great joy in watching professional actors do their jobs well. Anyway, good luck with your film.

Josh

Name: Kathy Haizmann
E-mail: khnumber8@yahoo.com

Hi Again Josh. Thanks for responding to my comments about your article on William Wyler (I'm the one who adores Wyler too).
Why do you feel "Children's Hour" and "How to Steal a Million" were two of Wyler's only meriocre films? Although I don't think they are Wyler's best films, I thought Children's Hour was powerful (maybe not as much so as "These Three") and I found How to Steal a Million to be very clever and entertaining. Please comment if you would.

Dear Kathy:

This just came up recently, but I'll repeat it. "The Children's Hour" just seemed like dated material by the time it was made in 1961, and all of the impact of working with controversial material was 25 years past. It's a surprisingly flat film for Wyler, and rather stilted. Nor was it well thought of when it came out. Regarding "How to Steal a Million," it's supposed to be funny and it isn't. In fact, it's slightly painful in its lack of humor. It's one of those films where I think to myself, "I guess they had a good time making it." And then there's "The Liberation of L.B. Jones" (1970), Wyler's last film, which is just plain old bad. He had a few earlier films that weren't so hot, either, like "The Gay Deception" (1935). All in all though, Wyler made the most good films of any director, and certainly the most in a row. As I said in the essay, Wyler's films had twice as many Oscar nominations and wins as the next two biggest directors put together.

Josh

Name: Johnny Cash
E-mail: john@juno.com

Dear Josh:

My question is... what's your problem? Why do you say that Unbreakable is such a bad movie? It's one of the best I've seen in years, and still one of my favorites to date. I believe that there's something wrong with you, not M. Night. Shyamalan. You obviously can't recognize a good story/plot when you see when. I'd like to see you direct, write and produce a movie as good as Unbreakable. You critics are all the same.

Dear Johnny:

I'm not a critic, I'm just critical. So, Mr. Shyamalan has really proven himself to be some interesting filmmaker since "The Sixth Sense," huh? I'm being facetious, in case you're interested. Let's see, "Unbreakable" was that ridiculous movie with Sam Jackson as the silliest super-villian of all-time, Mr. Glass, who, if you fart in his presence he breaks to pieces, right? I guess I can't recognize a good story/plot when I see when.

Josh

Name: Brian
E-mail: are_you_my_caucasian@hotmail.com

Hey Josh-

I'm with you. I don't think Raimi is writing Evil Dead 4 for the simple fact that he's got Spider-Man, one of the most successful and profitable franchise out now, to make. ALthough, I can completly see him producing a shitty, mediocre remake of the original. I can't believe I wasted money on renting the grudge. And yeah, that's right I didn't put quotations around the grudge because it was fucking terrible and I don't believe it was a film, more like a steaming pile of horse shit packed for the masses and spewed in our faces.

Anyways, what do you think of Chris Rock hosting the oscars? I've always loved his stand-up routine but I have a feeling ABC will make him tone down and he won't even get to be boarderline edgy.

Dear Brian:

I think you're right. But I do like Chris Rock, and I think he's a funny comedian. I liked his routine about how people rarely discuss the good side of crack. That on the right day you can get a big-screen TV set for $25.

Josh

Name: john
E-mail: jdezsi@yahoo.com

Hey Josh, I am looking to shoot a feature film in the detroit area later this year and was wondering if you had any advice on a possible director of photography to hire from this area, such as George Lieber or Bob Anderson? Thanks

Dear john:

You seem to know everybody. I haven't shot anything in Detroit in about 15 years, I just live here. Good luck.

Josh

Name: Jim
E-mail:

Josh, a few days late in the game here, but what did you think about Hunter S. Thompson? I've always respected the guy on a certain level, although I've never been able to make it through any of his books, of which I own several. Is he just an oddball fringe character or did he have something special to offer the world? I think he made some important contributions, and I certainly agree with his stands philosophically. But I have to admit that his writing might have been overrated (or maybe I've just never been high enough to get it).

Dear Jim:

To me Hunter S. Thompson's entire career was exclusively the one book, "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas," which I read when it came out--I was in the 9th grade -- and I laughed so hard I thought I would shit my pants. Those Ralph Steadman illustrations still vividly stick in my mind 35 years later. But it was the first book with professional adult characters who used drugs constantly and carelessly throughout the story, but that wasn't what it was about, like "The Man With the Golden Arm" or something. Drugs had now become officially "casual." It said you could take LSD and still do your job, to some extent. That if everyone turns into reptiles, it's okay, it's just the acid.

Josh

Name: Kathy Haizmann
E-mail: khnumber8@yahoo.com

Dear Josh:

Thank you for your wonderful essay on why William Wyler is you favorite director. I'm not in the movie business, but I'm a movie nut, and I have intensely admired the films of Wyler all my life since I started being conscious of loving movies. Your article/essay on Wyler reflects my views of him, and is the best synopsis of why he was such a great director that I've ever read. Anyway... thanks. P.S. Why did you include Haya Harareet among the really "big" actors Wyler discovered? I really loved her in Ben-Hur, but she absolutely never made it in films.

Dear Kathy:

That's called "a joke." Considering that Wyler discovered, or made famous, such names as: Humphrey Bogart, Henry Fonda, Laurence Olivier, Theresa Wright, and Barbara Streisand, I thought adding his one total failure of a discovery, Haya Harareet, was amusing. Unfortunately, Ms. Harareet had two big problems in "Ben-Hur:" 1). Her part is not very well-written, and she gets all the crappiest lines in the film, and 2). She's actually Israeli, whereas everyone else in the cast (except the Romans, that is) are Americans pretending to be Israelis, and she's so outnumbered that she doesn't fit in. Still, I think she gives a very heart-felt performance.

Josh

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

Josh,

I keep thinking about the state of current films, and your notion that there really isn't anything really that good anymore.

Well I saw one. I recently caught THE MACHINIST w/ Christian Bale and thought it was a pretty damn fine film.

I've written about six scripts myself, and while I don't think I'm the greatest writer in the world, I do know a bit about structure, timing, and how to tell a properly staged story. THE MACHINIST, along with a stunning performance by Bale (much more than just the weight loss), made this one of the smartest films I've seen in some time.

I heartily recommend that you see it, when you can.

I don't see how you could be too disappointed in this one.

Richard

Dear Richard:

My friend was, but I'll try to keep an open mind. I just saw "Osama," the Best Foreign Film Oscar-winner from 2003, and it was pretty good. It's a real indictment of Islam. I'm sorry, but any system or religion that abuses and marginalizes half of its members, isn't a good system.

Josh

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

Josh,

I'm sorry, I missed your posting about "The Origin of AIDS". I tried to go back and find the posting but could not, through several archived pages. This is an area of interest to me and I certainly would have responded.

I've mentioned before that my wife is a Medical Doctor and, while her primary field is General Surgery and Trauma, she has a long-standing interest on immunology, mostly with an eye towards transplant but also with virology. I've combined her interest in the field with my own which comes more from a historical perspective, but also includes biochemistry.

I have not seen "The Origin of AIDS" but I believe I am well-acquainted with its arguments. The theory, most strongly espoused by British journalist Edward Hooper, postulates that HIV1 and HIV2 migrated to humans in the late 1950's as a result of an Oral Polio Vaccine (OPV) which was cultured in epithelial cells from chimpanzees and then widely distributed to Central-African populations.

There are several problems with this scenario. First, existing samples of the OPV show no signs of HIV or SIVcpz (the Simian precursor) virus, though, admittedly, the sample size is very small. Second, mitochondrial mutation rates in HIV1 and HIV2 both indicate zootic transfer in the late-twenties to mid-thirties, well before the 1957 OPC distribution. The earliest suspected cases of HIV in humans show up at the same time as the OPC, but HIV requires an incubation period of up to ten years, though it can develop into AIDS faster.

Hooper's theory has a few variants as well, most notably the idea that several forms of the virus had been present in human populations for decades or longer and that it was only when these human populations began intermingling after World War Two that strains could combine to become HIV. The OPV plays into this theory as the method of transmission; shared needles used in an injectable version of the vaccine would hav spread the disease.

The consensus seems to be that, while Hoopers OPV theory is possible it is highly implausible. Americans were also innoculated with a Polio vaccine which is known to have carried SIV and yet it produced no disease here. I think the book, "The River", and the movie serve a purpose in that they force researchers to defend their current thinking but it is unlikely that the OPV theory will hold up to science.

John

Dear John:

Apparently my earlier reference to the film just disappeared, although I've since summarized it again. You clearly understand the theory, and the book"The River" by Edward Hooper is at the center of the film. The film points out that every other virologist did not use Chimpanzee kidney cultures, the only one that did was this Polish doctor, who has vehemently denied it ever since. The film does prove very clearly -- which is not in the book -- that he in fact did use Chimpanzee cultures. It isn't saying that these people immediately developed AIDS, it's that they were the first people diagnosed as HIV positive. The "existing sample" of the vaccine, which didn't exist for twenty years, magically appeared just when it was needed and is highly suspect as to whether or not it is legitimate. However, since there is no other rational theory for the migration of the virus from chimpanzees to humans, one must give a lot of credence to the only theory going. It brings up other issues, too. Because if in fact this is how the virus got to humans, then that one man is entirely responsible for the worst plague to ever befall humanity (AIDS has caused more deaths than small pox or the bubonic plague). Had he not made that "test," there would be no HIV or AIDS. There has also been this lurking concept that the Africans (i.e. the blacks) gave AIDS to the rest of us (i.e. the whites), whereas, under these circumstances, it's the whites who gave it to the blacks. There's also this insidious, evil, lurking concept that god created AIDS to smite homosexuals (and Haitians and hemophiliacs, I suppose); but if this is how humans got it, we did it to ourselves.

Josh

Name: Mike
E-mail:

Hi Josh,

A few questions. Recently I saw "Lost Horizon" and was overall quite pleased with it. The cut was apparently as close to Frank Capra's original release as possible. There were a large number of extra features on the DVD about the saga of restoring the film, which I found fascinating, as well as details on less than good changes Columbia made to the final cut. Seems that "monsterization" was alive and well back then, too.

I was wondering what you thought of Capra as a director, both in terms of his finished products, and in terms of his process - one of the featurettes described him as a fast shooter, which I found surprising. Also, I found the ending a little obnoxious, as it's about 10 minutes of non-stop exposition where a bunch of people talk about the resolution of the plot but nothing is actually shown. What are your thoughts on that?

Anyway, for the most part I liked the movie and enjoyed the idea of a film which lauds a cooperative, responsible society coming out right on the eve of WWII. The sets were completely amazing (and won an Academy Award if I remember right), and the first act is nicely tense and mysterious.

Finally, I'm in the process of reading "The Complete Guide to Low-Budget Feature Filmmaking". I don't want to make any comments until I've read the whole thing, but I'm enjoying it a great deal so far.

Aus,

Mike

Dear Mike:

"Lost Horizon" is certainly an interesting film, although it's too long and it gets more sluggish as it goes along. It was considered a disappointment in 1937, and Frank Capra was not nominated even though the film was nominated for Best Picture (and Capra was the president of the DGA). It won Oscars for Interior Direction and Film Editing. It does begin very well, but once you get to Shangri-La there isn't anywhere for it to go except for people to finally leave. So you end up stalling their inevitable departure for about an hour. All in all, it's the most non-Capra-esque film he ever made.

Josh

Name: Jay
E-mail: actor587@yahoo.com

Josh,

I hope you weren't too annoyed with anything I said about ED4, I wasn't trying to start an argument... just trying to show you what I heard. Sorry if I caused any trouble.

I was wondering what your thoughts are on digital filmmaking. I read your recent comments about how digital filmmaking is starting to take over, but it hasn't yet. It got me thinking of how you felt about the digital age and films bein shot on MiniDv.

Thanks Josh, and again, hope i didn't cause any trouble.

Jay

Dear Jay:

You didn't casue any trouble. I'm just sick of all talk about sequels and remakes. Anyone that supports any sequels or remakes deserves every crappy film they get. It's this attitude of flocking to see these inept sequels and remakes that has caused the almost complete extinction of originality at this point. Hollwyood studios much prefer to work on precendent, like lawyers, than on originality, which they don't understand. So, if people will flock to see sequels and remakes, which have a precendent, then why ever bother with films that do not have a precendent? If you pay to see sequels and remakes you are actively supporting the death of originality.

Meanwhile, I don't think MiniDV is good enough for feature films. You could use HD, but there are still almost no films shot in any digital format that are being sold. My point is, do you just want to make a movie, or do you want to make a movie and actually sell it? Let's face it, you could shoot a feature on video tape for the past 30 years, but it never took off because it doesn't look very good. So far, DV doesn't look much better, and that's why distributors don't buy them. As I've said before, just turn on any of the premium cable movie channels and watch what's being shown, that's the acceptable format of the present moment, and it's still 35mm motion picture film.

Josh

Name: Frank Demne
E-mail:

"the most interesting by far was "The Origin of AIDS," which I brought up and summarized a few days ago, but no one responded."

Josh, I read your forum daily and didn't see a post about this; it sounds interesting though, especially what you mentioned about the polio vaccine's relation to AIDS. But where is your original post? I tried the search feature, too.

Dear Frank:

"The Origins of AIDS" is a 2004 French documentary that has been showing on Sundance. It tells about the the beginnings of the polio vaccinations in the late 1950s. Jonas Salk's vaccine (which has to be injected) was made from the kidney cultures of Macaque monkeys, from India and the Philippines. A Polish viroligist (whose name I can't remember) did a test with an oral polio vaccine on a million people in the Belgian Congo in 1958-59, which this documentary clearly proves was made from Chimpanzee kidney cultures. The point being, no one seemingly knows how SIV (the Simian form of HIV) got into humans. There's a vague theory that a sick Chimpanzee must have bit a human, but that's a far-fetched theory. However, as this film proves by speaking to many African medical assistants and nurses who were involved with these vaccinations, they rounded up 600 chimps and killed them for their kidneys, which was a huge ordeal that everyone there that's old enough still remembers. This Polish viroligist has always denied using chimp kidney cultures, but it's very obvious that he did. Well, the chances of one of those 600 chimps being sick with SIV is probable, then it was given to a million Africans. The whole oral polio vaccine concept was a failure, and the World Health Organization condemned the test at the time -- you don't run a test on a million people, you use ten or twenty. However, the very first known case of HIV was discovered the next year, 1960, in the Congo in one of the little villages where these vaccinations were given. Then every other early case of HIV came from where these vaccinations were given. The Congo is Ground Zero for AIDS, and there is no other possible explanation than these failed polio vaccinations. The medical and scientific communities have been denying and covering this up for years because they don't want the moral responsibility for having given humans AIDS, nor do they want to inhibit people from taking vaccinations.

Josh

Name: Darryl Mesaros
E-mail: simonferrer@sbcglobal.net

Dear Josh,

Evil Dead 4? It seems unlikely to me. As for an Evil Dead remake, pardon my language, but is someone out of their fucking mind?!! Sigh....given the state of Hollywood today, it seems altogether TOO likely. Lately, it seems that high-budget, low-quality remakes of classic horror films have become commonplace, and are generally painful to watch. The less said about that, the better.
I just read your book on filmaking, and found it extremely informative. Has it gone to the publisher yet? If not, my only suggestion would be to add a glossary at the back, with encapsulated definitions for the film terms you described in the main text, along with all the crew positions and their respective responsibilities. This would be handy as a quick reference for the novice filmaker.

Darryl

Dear Darryl:

I actually thought of the same thing, which was why I italicized every term. I sincerely doubt that the book will be published anymore. It went out to a number of publishers and I got the same response from everybody -- there are already plenty of books on filmmaking, and no one cares about shooting on film anymore. However, I'm glad you enjoyed reading it, and hopefully got something out of it.

Josh

Name: Darryl Mesaros
E-mail: simonferrer@sbcglobal.net

Dear Josh,

How've you been? I just stopped by to check out the latest postings, and thought I'd throw my two cents in.
I just recently saw PROOF OF LIFE, with Russell Crowe and Meg Ryan, Taylor Hackford (DOLORES CLAIBORNE, and others) directing, and was curious to know what you thought about it. Personally, I was satisfied by the film, and thought it interesting. It had the virtue of telling a story about a previously unexplored topic (the new wave of international kidnapping and ransom, and the professional negotiators who are hired to deal with the kidnappers), and the performances were good. I know you don't think much of Russell Crowe, but in this instance, his flat delivery and emotionally contained demeanor actually aided him in his characterization. He is convincing as a seasoned professional who doesn't let his emotions get in the way of his job. Also, Mr. Hackford made interesting use of intercutting between Crowe's flat, jargon-laced report to his employers of his last mission, and the stark reality of the mission itself.
On a different tack, I noticed that everyone has been posting about music recently [I always seem to come in at the end of these great debates; I need to log on to your site more often, Josh!]. Anyway, I'll start by stating that my taste in music is eclectic, ranging from classical to hard rock, but I agree with you on many key points. I'm dissatisfied with the punk influence on modern rock. While punk itself is to me an interesting subgenre in its own right, it has turned the rest of the rock world into a wasteland where it sounds as if every half-assed garage band got a record deal, and all the songs sound pissed off and depressing for no particular reason. Anger and gloom without purpose are not compelling, and most modern rock repels me for this reason.
Well, I'll cut this short before I start ranting. I'll be looking forward to the premiere of ALIEN APOCALYPSE (I'm glad I didn't miss it, since I had originally thought that it was to air in January).

Regards,
Darryl

Dear Darryl:

Welcome back. "Proof of Life" went in one ear and out the other. What shreds remain of it seemed okay, but nothing special in anyway. Russell Crowe seemed fine in the part, with his bland earnestness. But I don't mind him when he's doing his normal Australian accent. I did quite like Taylor Hackford's documentary "Hail! Hail! Rock & Roll" about Chuck Berry. I've watched nearly 50 movies since the year started, with the assistance of TiVo, and the most provocative by far was "The Origin of AIDS," which I brought up and summarized a few days ago, but no one responded. The idea that we humans gave HIV to ourselves through polio vaccinations is quite a revelation, I think. But maybe that doesn't matter to anyone else. Maybe all that really matters is whether or not there will be an "Evil Dead 4."

Josh

Name: Jay
E-mail: actor587@yahoo.com

Dear Josh,

I believe Evil Dead 4 has been confirmed. I found this about 2 weeks ago:

From bloody-disgusting.com:

Sam Raimi and Tapert, when asked if they were considering Sean Scott Williams for the part of Ash, looked at each other for a minute and then, together said, "Who is that?" Sam then said, "I don't think I've ever heard of him".

In regards to 'Evil Dead 4 Raimi says, "There will be an Evil Dead 4, and there will ALSO be an Evil Dead Remake. The remake will be produced by Ghost House pictures, (his company with Tapert) and it will star a new cast and a completely new director. The point of Ghost House is that we want to bring new directors (like Takashi Shimizu of "the Grudge" to Hollywood and give them a chnace to make a good horror film."

On WHAT inspired him to allow the remake, Raimi said, "I love the original Dawn of the Dead, and I also really enjoyed the new Dawn of the Dead. I mean, they are both really great horror films. I want to let somebody with a fresh vision bring The Evil Dead to a new generation and a new audience with a different vision..."

Contrary to what Raimi told Mr. D, the remake will be Evil Dead 1 and 2 together, but remade with a higher budget and a new cast and crew.

However, Raimi will be directing and producing Evil Dead 4, which will star Bruce Campbell as ASH and will also have many of the actors from the previous Evil Dead movies. Raimi says that "This is the project I really want to make. The remake can belong to someone else, but part 4 will be a continuation of the original".

Ted and Sam Raimi have begun writing Part 4, and will be developing it for production later this year. Bruce Campbell and Tapert will both be involved...

--------------------------------------------------------
There have also been other interviews with Raimi and/or tapert which said pretty much the same thing. They may have to call it Army of Darkness II though.

Dear Jay:

Yeah? I still don't think so. I can also bet you that Sam isn't writing it with Ted. Ultimately, though, I deeply and sincerely don't care. I don't think it should have gone to a third film, let alone a fourth. But Hollywood thrives on bad ideas, and this just seems like one more.

Josh

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

<<To me, just doing what you want isn't good enough. It's still got to add up to something.>>

I recently saw Werner Herzog's HEART OF GLASS... yes I suffered through the whole thing. It had a couple of GREAT scenery shots in it and the rest of the movie is pure shit, There is nothing artsy or crazy about a bunch of hypnotised people walking around in a daze, it could have had an interesting story if not for that experiment. I usually don't mind Herzog being hard to watch because I usually come away from it with an interesting story, good scenery, interesting lines but HEART OF GLASS flat out sucked. SHAUN OF THE DEAD was kind of funny but the screenplay structure sucks like the most of today's film, it did have a hilarious ending where all the living dead are put to work in low end supermarket jobs and crappy game shows. I do thank you for recommending SEA OF LOVE and GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS. Have you ever thought of making a play and shooting it as a movie like GLENGARRY, ARSENIC AND OLD LACE, or STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE?

Dear kdn:

No, I haven't. I think a play and a screenplay are very different items, and if you write something as a play you've gone out of your way to make it uncinematic to begin with. It's now sort of illogically all got to take place in one location, possibly two. Whereas, a screenplay needs to be approached from a visual POV. Most plays that become movies generally fail to be very good movies because the material was designed to be in one location on stage. Beyond that, working on the stage simply doesn't interest me.

Josh

Name: RoughDraft
E-mail: RoughDraft1@gmail.com

Becker,

Just an addendum on the punk rock conversation: I would suggest anyone with a lick of taste pick up Green Day's "American Idiot," a punk rock opera that was certainly the anthem for 2004. They have a way of marrying civil discontent with our nation's politics into a great series of beats. A shame that The Grammys chose to honor a mediocre Ray Charles purely out of sentiment while virtually ignoring the true Album of the Year. Not a single person I've recommended this to has been disappointed.

On the Oscars: for those inclined to bet, I'm fairly certain "Million Dollar Baby" will take home Best Picture, as this ceremony seems to delight in stiffing Scorcese in a decades-long variation on Keep-Away. (For God's sake, I loved the movie, but..."Rocky" getting the Oscar over "Taxi Driver"?)

Jamie Foxx seems pre-destined for an award, as does Hilary Swank. I'd like to see Virgina Madsen prevail over Kate Blanchett, as impressions (save for Foxx's) don't normally impress me. The character is already fully formed, with mannerisms, behavior, and attitude set. Where's the work?

I'd like to see "Eternal Sunshine" take Best Original Screenplay. I didn't necessarily "enjoy" the movie, melancholy as it was, but I have to confess that it was fairly imaginative and well-executed.

This was a lousy year for movies, IMO. Everything I've seen I've been underwhelmed with. I'm sorry to see your boy Raimi follow Hollywood into shallow waters, remaking a movie for no real purpose other than commerce. "Premiere" magazine used to periodically run articles on good scripts that had been collecting dust for years, and it's a shame many of them go unproduced because the studios are too scared to run with anything that isn't "branded" or pre-digested for - in Green Day's words - idiot America.

Oh, and RE: "Evil Dead 4." Sure, I'd like to see it, but fans getting excited over comments made during Sam's latest press junket should be reminded that he's been saying the same things for years. His sadistic attitude towards his actors would seem to be leaking into fandom. He enjoys the tease. I doubt it will ever happen - and it pains me to see filmmakers act like they have all the time in the world to revisit franchise opportunities. I'd be as excited to see a 50 year old Ash as I would be for a 70 year old Indiana Jones. You have to know when to quit.

Dear RoughDraft:

I've been wrong plenty of times before, but "The Aviator" seems much more like a Best Picture than "Million Dollar Baby" -- it's serious, it's about a real person, and it's three hours long, and length is always a big factor in choosing the Best Picture. Generally, whichever films is the longest wins, and also wins Best Editing, too. The Oscars do like to make up for those they've overlooked in the past if that person can stick around long enough. Martin Scorsese seemed like some kind of threat to Hollywood in 1976 with "Taxi Driver;" now Scorsese is at the top-end of the Hollywood shit-pile, and I think it's his year. "Eternal Sunshine" seemed like a real piece of melancholy shit to me, and not well-written. And yes, Sam does like to tease and torture the fans.

Josh

Name: Trey Smith
E-mail: cobra_commander_of_cobra@yahoo.com

Dear Josh:

Actually, in recent interviews Sam said he wants to do ED4 with Rob and have Bruce star and that once Spider-Man 3 is finished he wants to start working on a script. IMDB has the ED4 page up with Ted writing, but that's probaly not true since IMDB always posts things that aren't 100% sure yet. Like you said though, Sam is really big now and I don't know if it will ever happen...I'm not getting my hopes up, but Sam has said recently he really wants to do it...to continue the ED story and let another director helm the remake.

Also, how many copies do you have left of Hammer? I would like to purchase a copy and comeplete my "Josh Becker Film Library" haha. What's the total cost with shipping and all?

Dear Trey:

Yeah? I still don't think they're will be an ED4, but I could be wrong. Meanwhile, I've got about 40 copies of "Hammer" left. It's $22.95, with S&H.

Josh

Name: justme
E-mail: kattem_wereld2@yahoo.com

Dear Josh:

How can you be taken seriously when you write so much shit about a movie that has one so many awards and acclaim?! I hope you don't do this for a living.

Dear justme:

I don't know what film you're referring to, but it doesn't matter. You're saying if a film wins awards and acclaim, then it must be good and everybody ought to just fall into line and agree? That sounds like a fascist point of view to me. You see, I don't care what everybody else thinks, and that includes you.

Josh

Name: Frank Demne
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

Just ran across Leonard Maltin's "Guide to Classic Movies". If you don't already have it, you should get it; so much fun to browse thru all your favorites.

Now to my question. Would you recommend any of the "classic" horror/monster movies? I'm refering to "Dracula" (1931 - Bela Lagusi), "The Invisible Man" (Claude Rains), or "Nosterafu" (not sure on the spelling there) or the like?

Love the website. Keep on keeping on, Josh.

Dear Frank:

If you haven't seen those films, you probably ought to. Of those three films, I'll take "The Invisible Man." "Dracula" is a pretty lumpy early sound film, and Todd Browning was a lousy director, but Bela is very good."Nosferatu" is an interesting German silent film.

Josh

Name: Jay
E-mail: actor587@yahoo.com

Hey Josh,

I was sitting at my computer when two questions came to my mind.

1. Out of the 3, which was your favorite Evil Dead film.

2. I know I asked this about a month ago, but much has happend since then: Now that Sam and Rob have confirmed they are making Evil Dead remake AND Evil Dead 4, have they contacted you yet for a possible position on the production.

Thanks, Josh. Your rule.

Dear Jay:

They did not confirm that they were making "Evil Dead 4." Go to Bruce's site, he flatly says they're NOT making it. And why would Sam make that film now? He has no need. Meanwhile, there's no reason to contact me. I work in only two positions on a movie: director or writer (or both), and they sure don't want me for either of those things. Regarding question one, I would take the first film.

Josh

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

Dear Mr. Becker,

What do you think about the latest albums by classic rock artists??? I know you believe that talent diminishes as one ages, but Springsteen and Neil Young, among others have made some pretty great albums recently (though there have also been some pretty bad albums as well).

You seem to enjoy well-crafted, mellow music (Moody Blues and Pink Floyd). Granted, not all of there music is mellow, but I think you understand what I mean. You may enjoy the band Sigur Ros. They are Icelandic and make some of the most beautiful music I have ever heard. Clearly, you don't have to actively seek this band out, that's up to you, but if you ever get the chance to listen to them, I would highly recommend it.

Lastly, I know that you aren't a huge fan of Alexander Payne, but do you have some element of respect for him??? He is making the movies he wants to make and isn't making them for the lowest common denominator.

Have a good one,
Nate

Dear Nate:

With all due respect to the man, and I haven't seen "Sideways," which is clearly his most well-received film so far, but I haven't really liked any of his other films, and I've seen them all. I did like quite a bit of the first first two acts of "Election," but not the whole film. I liked the idea behind "Citizen Ruth" much more than actually watching the film."About Schmidt" was just a piss-poor script. Maybe "Sideways" is brilliant, but since I haven't seen it, I'm not brimming with respect for the guy. To me, just doing what you want isn't good enough. It's still got to add up to something.

Josh

Name: john
E-mail: jdezsi@yahoo.com

Dear Josh:

I just finished watching Hell's Angels and I wondered if you could clearify what James Whales did for the film as I don't see any sign of him having a hand in the technical aspect for the film? 1930 was also the year he released Journey's End, another war picture. Did you happen to see it or The Road Back, and if so what did you think of them? I can't wait to see Alien Apocalypse.

Dear John:

James Whale apparently directed quite a few of the dialog scenes, possibly all of them. The entire film had been made as a silent film with Greta Nissen, a Swedish actress he didn't speak English very well. So when Howard Hughes decided to reshoot the dialog scenes with sound and replace Nissen with newcomer Jean Harlow, which was 1929, ity just so happened that James Whale, a well-known British stage director, who also happened to be a veteran of World War I, was in Hollywood shooting the screen version of his stage hit, "Journey's End," a WWI story. Hughes hired Whale while he was in pre-production, and his film just waited for him. I have not seen"Journey's End." "The Road Back" was pretty dreary. "The Old Dark House" was kind of fun.

Josh

Name: Raoul
E-mail: ra0ul01@yahoo.com

Josh provokes:"...punk was the death knell for rock & roll. Here's why I say that (other than just not liking punk), it's a retrospective movement, not unlike the '50s rock revival that occurred just a few years earlier..."
I think you missunderstand punk. It wasn't a nostalgic movement like Sha-Na-Na or today's Beatles-fakers Oasis; it was a reaction to the path rock was taking post-Beatles: incorporating symphonic music and orchestral arrangements. Punk did something vital to all artforms: it stripped away all the various "innovations" that had built up around Rock & Roll and returned to the original inspirational form- Guitar, Bass & Drums playing three chord, three minute hi-energy music. Art grows and progresses as one generation builds on it's predecessor's works and ideas. But not all new innovations are 'good'; as a for instance: I hate Abstract art probably more thaan you dislike punk, and was glad to see the photorealist style of painting that developed in the late '60's & '70's. It could be said this was a return to the classic style of Vermeer or the Pre-Raphaelites, but it wasn't an emulation of those styles, it was a return to the basics of draftsmanship. I've heard Alfred Hitchcock talk about the need to periodically return to his basic suspense thriller roots after trying different variations like "The Trouble With Harry", "Psycho" > or "The Birds". I like the Kinks too, but The Clash definitely had songs of equal quality:'London Calling', 'Clampdown', 'Train In Vain', come to mind, and I haven't even heard half of their output. Your comments make me think the only Clash music you've heard were the singles 'Rock the Casbah' and 'Should I Stay or Should I Go', and we both know that record companies pick singles for reasons other than artistic merit. It reminds me of my brother's dissmissive comments towards Bruce Springsteen, circa 1980, based only on hearing the one single 'Hungry Heart'. ( And Bruce has certainly written his share of nostalgic, imitation '50's rock, which I know you enjoy.) Punk brought raw, unpolished energy back to rock as a reaction to Supertramp, James Taylor, et al., and was a huge influence on most new wave artists, as well as groups like U2 and REM. ( And don't get me started on grunge- Nirvana {and their direct inspiration, The Pixies,} restored my faith in Rock & Roll, God bless 'em.) I'll step off my high horse now, but I understand how an abrasive style could put you off an entire genre of music: I can't stand most Rap music, so my initial reaction was to dismiss the whole genre out of hand, but I've since heard some variations of rap that I enjoy, I'm just not interested in wading through all the simple-minded bullshit to discover the few nuggets I might like. So I'm not trying to convert you to punk, just to say 'The Clash' were a great, immensely influential rock band. Thanks for allowing your site to drift slightly away from film: it's all still art to me.

Dear Raoul:

You do say twice in your rant that punk is a "return to" and that's my entire point. Good or bad, like it or don't like it, it's still "a return to," as opposed to "a step forward to . . ."

Furthermore, I believe there was an insidious message lurking in punk. In saying "Fuck Pink Floyd," which also meant Fuck ELP, The Moody Blues, Rick Wakeman, etc., basically my favorite bands, it was saying, "We want to return to the days of Question Mark and the Mysterians recording "96 Tears" in their garage in Ann Arbor, MI, for the price of a six-pack, because that's democratic and any kid can dream of doing it, sort of like that nobody gets rejected from little league anymore. But, to be Pink Floyd or ELP or The Moody Blues, you have to be talented and have studied your craft. It's not just an issue of dreaming. This is one of the various points I make in my film "If I Had a Hammer," when Phil says, "You don't have to be good to be famous." Yes, it's true, but it's a bullshit dream. Yes, in our society we must always throw new heroes up the pop-charts, so somebody's always going to be hot at any given moment, and frequently it's people with very little talent, *but that's not worth aspiring to.* It's like dreaming of winning the lottery. I say it's a whole lot better to be Keith Emerson or Roger Waters or Rick Wakeman than Sid Vicious or Joe Strummer or Kurt Cobain under any circumstances all the time. Talent and expertise absolutely do matter!

Josh

Name: Blake in Missouri
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

Re the Oscars...I'm actually pretty eager for the outcome this year.

I think this is the most promising year in ages. It's also the first time I've seen all five best picture nominee's before the telecast...And also the first time I haven't hated one, or all of them.

"Million Dollar Baby," hit really well with me. I'm surprised that you spoke of it with such malevolence. For me, it's clearly the best film Eastwood has ever directed, with "Unforgiven," and "Honkeytonk Man." And it may be better than those. Swank sold me completely as the rough backwater fighter and Freeman was just terrific...To say that he just mumbled is something I can't even comprehend. And Eastwood himself I thought gave the perfomance of his career. Now, I too was more than a little bewildered by Freeman creeping out suddenly from the dark corner in the hospital, and by the breathing machine never being reconnected. Also, the scenes where Swank meets her family back in Missouri were clearly NOT shot anywhere near MO, but rather under the bright skies of Southern Cal. However, for me these are small gripes. I was sucked into the entire film right away. It unfolded steadily and strongly. And the final shot still lingers in my mind. For my money it's the best film of the year. I was and still am impressed.

"Sideways," gave me a great jolt. Really funny and yet heartfelt. I don't hold my breath for positive words from yourself, particularly if you didn't get "About Schmidt," but I find Alexander Payne to be one of the really gifted American directors working today. The comedy\drama mix was kept to the right level throughout, the photography vivid, story well written and paced, and the acting uniformally excellent...The fact that Paul Giamatti wasn't nominated for his amazing performance is one of the true dumb-shit goofs the Academey must seemingly make every year. I thought it was a wonderful picture.

"The Aviator," surprised me. Having completely hated "Gangs of New York," may have been a large factor in my enjoyment, but I still like it a good deal in retrospect. Ole "Titanic" boy isn't my favorite actor by any streach, but I found that his take on Hughes was interesting and admirable. But Cate Blanchett stole the show! Absolutely amazing! To think that you didn't like her as the young Hepburn is hard for me to believe. She sounded and even looked very much like the hollywood great. She deserves the Oscar, one of the truly graceful and professional actresses of the current time.

"Ray," and "Finding Neverland," I flet to be more routine, but still commendable. Jamie Fox did do a spot-on imitation of Ray Charles, but the script did get tiresome toward the end. That's when I got fatigued, anyway. "Neverland," I may have liked more if I was interested in the writting of "Peter Pan," to begin with, but it has a lot going for it. The photography, production design, editing and acting are all first rate.

I do think some films were overlooked for larger nominations. Like them or not, "The Passion of the Christ," and Fahrenheit 911," stirred up more talk than any other films last year. As it is, Gibson's labor of love only garnished a few technical nods, while Moore's labor of irritation failed even to get a nomination for best documentary.

Hey, it's a pretty good year in general. Compaired to the last decade and beyond, it's down right great. I'm just glad to see no prefab hog wash in the running like such winners as, "Return of the King," "Chicago,"> "Gladiator," "Titanic," or "A Beautiful Mind."

Have a good one.

Blake

Dear Blake:

Bravo for getting us back onto the subject of movies. Seriously, to say that Cate Blanchett looks like Katherine Hepburn is craziness. That's like saying that Kate Beckinsdale looks like Ava Gardner. Sorry, no they don't. Blanchett may well be "graceful and professional," but she not terribly attractive. And, I must seriously disagree about "Million Dollar Baby" being in the same league as "Unforgiven." "Unforgiven" is so far ahead of every other Eastwood film it's not worth talking about. It is the one and only time he's ever had a great script, and the true miracle of that film is that he didn't fuck it up with his one-take bullshit. But "Million Dollar Baby" is not only not a great script, it's not even a good one one, or even a well-observed one. It's one more dumb boxing movie, this time with a girl, that has a horrible act III that made me want to scream. Yes, Hillary Swank is good. Clint is doing his standard Clint performance. And Morgan Freeman just doesn't have much of a part. It's an amiable enough film for the first two acts, so I understand why people like it, but it's really nothing special. Yes, "The Aviator" is better than "Gangs of New York," so at least it's got that going for it. But if the truth be known, and I had to sit through a film about Howard Hughes again, I think I'd rather sit through "The Carpetbaggers" one more time, and that film's junk, but at least it's kind of fun. By hour three of "The Aviator" I couldn't care less what happened to him. And if "Sideways" is anything like "About Schmidt," which was a legitimately bad movie, it won't appeal to me. Jamie Fox looks like he does a good imitation of Ray Charles, but "Ray" looks even less inspired and less insightful of a biopic than "The Aviator." So, maybe this is a better year for movies than the last few, but it still hasn't generated a seriously good film.

Josh

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

Josh,

I know you want to put the music question behind you but I'm going to throw out two thoughts (and, obviously, you need not post them).

First, on the subject of great albums of 1967, no one has yet mentioned "Disraeli Gears" which really opened up the blues for rock music. There is nothing dated on that album, whereas "Pepper's", for all its brilliance, still sounds as if it were made in the late sixties.

Second, Since the advent of the Punk era, how many innovative bands have there been? Three? I can think of The Police, U2 and REM, all of which leaned on punk imagery without using punk musical (in)sensibilities. Nirvana was not so much innovative (they sounded like a garage band) as they were timely. The Seattle movement did produce some solid bands, like Alice In Chains and Soundgarden. Grunge (for lack of a better term) also brought groups like Live, Stone Temple Pilots and Black Crows exposure they would likely not otherwise have achieved. But by about eight years ago, more or less, any rock band trying to do anything interesting with sound was reduced to bars, clubs and smaller venues and there they are likely to stay.

I understand the guys from Cream are planning a reunion tour of sorts this summer. That's a trio which might still have good things to offer. I've often thought that of The Police as well, but Sting and Copeland just will not get along.

On "Million Dollar Baby", it kills me that disabled-rights activists are all in arms over this movie, especially since the injury which leads to the objectionable decision will never happen in women's boxing. I hate when movies hold up a sign which says "I want an Oscar and this is my bid". Developments which follow are always melodramatic and disjointed from the original premise in some way.

This is getting over-long. Thanks,

John

Dear John:

I've brought up Clapton a couple times within this discussion, but certainly "Disreali Gears" is a main contender for Best Rock Album of 1967, and has several great songs, like "Sunshine of Your Love" and "Strange Brew," but nevertheless the album is still half filler. Cream's next record, "Wheels of Fire," is a better whole album. I agree that The Police, U2 and REM are what came of the punk era, and none of them are punk bands. And, oddly, U2 and REM are both still together. Regarding Cream's reunion, I think it might just be one performance at Royal Hall in London, which I'll bet they record and tape and show on HBO or something.

Josh

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

Josh,

I don't think Punk was really a step backwards, I think the music that could be blamed for that would be Disco!

Punk was just a reaction, mainly in the U.K. towards the terrible Economy and the bloated ideals of Thatcher and the state of affairs during that period.

The music was simple and it was meant to burnout in a short period of time. It was a quick rush of energy and a "fuck you" to the powers that be.

The bands that could see beyond that were the one's that progressed and went on to make excellent albums beyond their punk beginings, and two of the bands I mentioned "The Clash", and "The Damned" went on to dive into very interesting territories., and "Johnny Rotten's" "PIL" band was also quite inventive.

The album that Tom mentioned by "The Damned" called "The Black Album" was one of their most inventive and the cover and title are a humorous take on the "The Beatles" "White Album".

"The Damned" also did two great covers; "I feel alright " by "The Stooges", and "Looking at You" by "MC5". In fact, "The Damned's" version of "Looking at You" smokes compared to the original.

As for "New Wave", it pretty much developed around the same time as the late seventies punk movement and in fact there were quite a few crossover bands.

"The Kinks" are one of my favorite bands, and none of the Punk bands can touch Ray Davies lyrics, but the punk movement was very much like any rebelious movement in music, including jazz and rock of the 50's, and the early garage band stuff of the 60's.

I do agree about the jazz of the 50's, it was great and I have many jazz recordings from that era.

Robert Johnson's music is some of the greatest stuff ever written as well, he influenced everyone who played the blues. Hands down!

Anyhow, I care as much about the Oscars as I did about the Grammys. I haven't seen "The Aviator", but I will most likely see it. I liked "Sideways" and I think it will be up for a few awards.

Scott

Dear Scott:

I don't think disco was a step backward (even though I hated it at the time) because there wasn't anything quite like it before that. I don't think it was any kind of step forward, mind you, but it wasn't a backward-looking movement. Punk, on the other hand, was an imitation of bands like The Kinks, The Yardbirds, and The Stooges. It was a retro movement, as was grunge. It was an attempt to recapture the rebelliousness of an earlier day, which it didn't really manage to do. To me all punk bands are no different than Sha-Na-Na, they're trying to ape an earlier sound. And as long as you're going backward, you ain't moving forward. Me personally, I'll take Talking Heads' "Psycho Killer" or Elvis Costello's "Watching the Detectives" over every single song produced in the punk and grunge movements. Honestly, what's the competition? "Rock the Casbah"? "Smells Like Teen Spirit"? And don't start pulling out songs no one has ever heard of because that's not the point.

Josh

Name: Tom
E-mail: Bellyoptopus@yahoo.com

Dear Josh:

I received "If I Had A Hammer" today and watched it this evening! In a simple statement--it was really good and I liked it! It's too bad that you couldn't get some kind of distribution deal on it or played at Independent Film Festivals! Overall in my opinion it's your best an most well put together film! I think sometimes most Independents get made because they can pull somebody well known into them whether the scripts good or not! It's not really fair but having Bruce in "Running Time" get's more attention drawn to the film and therefore more commercial success. I think you've shown growth and more expertise from film to film! I liked the fluidity and placements of the camera, it kept the pace up but wasn't distracting either! Like so much of your other stuff, it's funny! I laughed out loud at quite a few scenes and I was watching all by myself (that's always a good sign). You got good performances out the Actors too, I especially liked the guy who played Phil's Dad. Thanks for sending it so promptly, it's real treat to actually get a movie from the Director himself and for it to be good is real plus! Because if it was mindless and terrible(like "Thou Shalt not Kill..." but it still pays off somewhat with the over the top battle at the end), I would definitely tell you! Not that what I think should matter to you, because I know a whole lot more about music than film!

On the topic of Punk Rock: I thought you weren't interested? Well! I think you just want to lecture us on your belief that Civilization is in it's twilight and our Art tells us so rhetoric!Lol!

I had fun poking and prodding you to defend "Sgt. Pepper" but debating over something you have no interest in other than you don't like it! That's kind of morbid! Obviously you're disenchanted and disengaged from any music that doesn't represent you or what you percieve to be your generation! I think we're somewhat part of the same! You're what...8,9,10 years older than me, maybe mid-teens by the time 1970 rolled around? That's fine, I know guys like you who feel the same way! It's tough being an idealist when history shows over and over the unexpected always happens and it continues to challenge all our beliefs. Rock music is in a lull right now, but there still many great bands popping up(I could list them but I know you don't care)just not not any that have caused a major tidal shift since Nirvana. But...we are in a new Century where there's some trepidation and people are more inclined to try to recapture the safety of a known past. I think it will take a while for something to happen...but it's a ways away yet! I'm just not ready to be a sourpuss or be told that I should be one! Like you at one time...I'm still an Idealist!

Dear Tom:

I'm glad you got and enjoyed "Hammer." I'm rather proud of it, actually. I'll just drop this music topic because, you're right, I don't care. I'll just keep listening to ELP and Dave Brubeck and shut up.

Josh

Name: Tom
E-mail: bellyoptopus@yahoo.com

Scott: "The same can be said for the "Love" album I mentioned in my last post; "Forever Changes". The album sold ok, but Arthur Lee did not want to tour outside of California, and there other problems when they actually did tour outside CA and L.A., the sales suffered for it, but given the year it came out, it is one of the most innovative albums of that time."

I meant to comment on Love's "Forever Changes" earlier but it slipped away from me. I agree with you this is a much overlooked classic from the sixties and a one of a kind album. I heard it the first time in 1985 and was entranced by it! None of the people I was hanging out with at the time, including people like Josh who lived through the sixies seemed to know it or know it well. But I do come from the midwest!

Scott:"I must also counter one of Tom's comments, which is also myth in the Punk world. Johnny Rotten did indeed wear an "I hate Pink Floyd shirt", but alas, it was just another publicity stunt concocted by Malcom McClaren to give the band the image that he wanted them portray."

I've got no arguement with you there!!! I was just citing some samples of a band not revering the past. I personally like John's early Public Image Ltd. better than the Sex Pistols stuff , he obviously liked experimental music.

A better example that not everyone was on board with "Sgt. Pepper" at the time is Frank Zappa's "We're only in it for the Money" album from 1968. Captain Beefheart also wrote a song called "Beatle bones and smokin' stones" that supposedly angered John Lennon.

Scott:"The Damned" were also fans of early Pink Floyd and Nick Mason went on to produce their second album, and in my opinion, "The Damned" were a far better band than the "Sex Pistols" could ever be, and the "Sex Pistols" only released one official album."

I'm on board with you there too! I still peddle "The Black Album" to kids who haven't heard it! The Buzzcock's are my favorite of the English Punk Band's, I still can't get enough of them!!! Pete Shelley certainly got some his tight songcraft and pop sensibilities from the Beatles.

Sorry Josh, that none of this was directed toward you or film making! I will stop now until I get a chance to see "If I Had A Hammer" and comment accordingly!!!

Dear Tom:

You should have the tape today or tomorrow, I guess. Neither of you music mavens commented on my assertion that the arrival of punk was the death knell for rock & roll. Here's why I say that (other than just not liking punk), it's a retrospective movement, not unlike the '50s rock revival that occurred just a few years earlier (exemplified by "Happy Days" and "Laverne and Shirley"). It's homage, it's not a step forward. And the very second rock & roll stopped moving forward, it dropped dead. It was no longer vital. The same thing had recently occurred with jazz, too. By 1970 jazz no longer knew where to go, had become totally atonal, and was really just for jazz musicians and not the audience anymore, so it died. All the jazz of the last 35 years has been homage to the jazz that came before it ("Oh, that sounds just like Miles Davis," "Hey, that guy sounds a lot like Coleman Hawkins"). As Woody Allen said about relationships, but it relates directly to art, "It's like a shark that has to move forward and eat all the time, and what we have on our hands is a dead shark."

Josh

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

Josh

As long as we're on the subject of music, I thought I'd poke in here. I've been listening to Billie Holiday and Robert Johnson lately and it's such powerful fucking stuff - with the dogs nipping at Johnson's heels and a hard life knocking at Holiday's door (Strange Fruit just gives me shivers). Any thoughts on these two?
And of course, still listening to Tom Waits (got his album, Blood Money just this morning).

Dear Brett:

Robert Johnson, one of the most important influences in music in the last 100 or so years, only recorded 36 songs, all in the course of two or three years, and that's it. He seems like the single biggest influence on Eric Clapton and Keith Richards. And Billie Holliday had the pain of the whole world in her voice. Tom Waits I can still live without.

Josh

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

Josh,

I really like "Atom Heart Mother" as well and I find myself going back to listen to that album a great deal and mainly on my iPod when I am riding the subway to go to work.

I know you are an early Pink Floyd fan, and I know that "Piper" never sold well at all, but it was still a very innovative album for that period of rock.

The same can be said for the "Love" album I mentioned in my last post; "Forever Changes". The album sold ok, but Arthur Lee did not want to tour outside of California, and there other problems when they actually did tour outside CA and L.A., the sales suffered for it, but given the year it came out, it is one of the most innovative albums of that time.

Hindsight is 20/20, and I agree with you that none of us really knows what happens in any decade unless we live through it, and many myths are drawn, and the truth seems to settle somewhere in the middle.

I remember reading a funny interview with Phil Collins discussing the now classic status of "The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway" which was the last Genesis album before Peter Gabriel left the group.

He was talking about the tour where they performed the album in its entirety over 100 times back in 1974 and 1975.

The tour was a long one and Gabriel announced he was leaving the band during the tour, so it was a difficult one, but the most inventive yet with Gabriel donning a variety of more costumes to portray the characters in the songs as well as stage props and an innovative light and slide show.

Phil said that "the album was not very successful when it was released and in many places, the venues were half empty", so when somebody tells him what a classic the album is today, he said in the interview, "Yeah, were where you when we were performing to half empty venues?" Then he laughed.

I must also counter one of Tom's comments, which is also myth in the Punk world. Johnny Rotten did indeed wear an "I hate Pink Floyd shirt", but alas, it was just another publicity stunt concocted by Malcom McClaren to give the band the image that he wanted them portray.

Johnny Rotten (Lydon) was a big early Floyd fan and has said many times that the shirt was a joke just to piss people off.

"The Damned" were also fans of early Pink Floyd and Nick Mason went on to produce their second album, and in my opinion, "The Damned" were a far better band than the "Sex Pistols" could ever be, and the "Sex Pistols" only released one official album.

The best bands of that era were "The Clash", "The Damned", "The Buzzcocks", and "Stiff Little Fingers". The "Sex Pistols" were mostly a joke that took off in a big way.

Scott

Dear Scott:

Now you've moved into a realm of music I don't care about at all. I'd rather discuss '50s jazz, or turn-of-the-last-century classical, than punk. I was FAR more interested in New Wave than punk. Then rap came in and it all went to hell. To me punk was a big step backward, and rock & roll never moved forward again. I don't think any punk band ever came close to, say, the early Kinks for sheer stripped-down rock. Or even Question Mark and the Mysterians, for that matter. But that's just me, obviously.

Anybody give a shit about the Oscars? I don't, but I predict "The Aviator" and Scorsese will win (he's way overdue).

Josh

Name: Tom
E-mail: bellyoptopus@yahoo.com

Dear Josh:

Ah! It's fun to push your buttons too! To say something slightly outlandish to get a reaction! I like a little harmless anarchy!

"Mickey Mouse Music" is Pete Townshend's quote not mine, but I enjoyed his scrappy point! I believe all icons need a good ribbing, you shouldn't worship anyone or anything blindly! I liked early punk's iconoclastic notions! Wearing I hate Pink Floyd t-shirts...bassist Glen Mattock getting canned from the Sex Pistols for continuing to try introduce what Steve Jones disdainfully called "Beatle Chords" into their songs!

Was John really into making "Sgt. Pepper"? I don't know of course! It's clear in interviews with him later that it's not his favorite 'Beatle' album with exception to his own bits! John had a big ego as well as Paul and they were both highly competitive with eachother! "Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite" is the least likable likable song of his, I would rather listen to "Revolution #9" instead! His "Sgt. Pepper" songs (because the theme is an imaginary band)isn't really revealing anything about man himself (other than he's a gifted songwriter), which is what is so refreshing with many of his other songs (Help, You've Got to Hide Your Love Away, Norwegian Wood, In My Life, Nowhere Man, She Said She Said, Strawberry Field's Forever) and a host of others after "Sgt. Pepper". Also, I thought I was clear on how I felt about "A Day In the Life" and "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds"! You're just trying push a few more buttons, Eh!

I was surprised how big my last post was!!! Hope you enjoyed a good chuckle!!!

Dear Tom:

I guess my point is that it's not quite the same thing looking back and assessing, as it was experiencing the impact at the time. Neither one is better or worse, but they're different. Neither you nor I can ever really know what it was like during the Roaring '20s, which is the only other decade of the 20th century similar to the '60s, where the beginning of the decade was nothing like the end. Unless you lived through the '60s, nothing in the '70s, '80s or '90s can give you a clue. For a brief second it seemed like everything was going to change, that a better world was coming at us at 1,000 mph, there was no stopping it, and everything would just get better and better and fairer and more even and more equitable until we all transcended. However, by 1975 and the advent of the Disco Era, it had all proven false, and was not going to happen. By 1980 the corporate take-over of the American, as well as the worldwide, soul had truly taken hold, and that's where we still are. I'd personally rather listen to "Revolution #9" than any contemporary song I might hear on the radio right now.

Josh

Name: Scott
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

In regards to your statement about influential smash albums. I would have to say that Nirvana's Nevermind was the last smash album that highly influenced a generation, but the grunge movement ended over a decade ago, and there really hasn't been anything since. The music industry is a lot the the film industry, most artists care more about selling out than making good innovative music. I was doing quite a bit of research on the business of film recently, and I find it fascinating that there was actualy a somewhat stable marriage between art and commerce for a while. I also find it interesting that publications haven't made a bigger deal about Arthur Miller's death. He was a wonderful writer who contributed a great deal to literature, the theater, and cinema, and all he receives is a small blurb in the paper. If Tom Cruise had died, the press wouldn't let us hear the end of it. It just goes to show that the news media, like the film and music industries, only cares about selling ads. In your honest opinion, do you think we will see any sort of artistic resurgance iour life time?

Dear Scott:

Honestly, no. But don't blame the media because people care more about movie stars than writers. They always have, and probably always will. People still show up every year at Rudolph Valentino's grave, for goodness sake, yet no one watches any of his movies anymore. I must confess that Arthur Miller's writing didn't really move me. I saw an old TV production of "Death of a Salesman" not too long ago, with Lee J. Cobb as Willy Loman, and Gene Wilder as the smart kid who lives next door, and it was very good, but ultimately I didn't care. Nor did I care about "The Crucible," or "The Misfits." I did like the film of his first big play, "All My Sons," (1948), with young Burt Lancaster and Edward G. Robinson as his father. Regarding "selling out," that's the entire point of going into the arts now. They don't do it to create great new art, they do it to get rich. All independent filmmakers truly aspire to make "Free Willy 5."

Josh

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

Josh,

To say that Brian Wilson was not a genius is a bit silly. "Pet Sounds" and the Beach Boys may have had very simple lyrics, but it was with out a doubt what Wilson did in the studio and the Beach Boys did with harmonies that made them innovators in their own right.

"Pet Sounds" is an incredible album in the respect of the mutli track production and what Wilson accomplished with studio techniques as well as harmonies.

The Beatles were experimenting, The Beach Boys were experimenting and to write off "Piper at the Gates of Dawn" is insane. That album was so far ahead of its time taht I can't believe you could make such a comment.

Maybe it does not hold up as well as "Sgt. Pepper" now, but it was by far one of the most innovative albums of the time, and writing off Barrett as some kind of hack songwriter is silly, in fact, the band became successful and made a career by writing songs about his disintergration because they all knew how talented the guy was and had he not gone too far with drugs, he may very well have done far more than we could ever imagine.

Without Syd Barrett, there would be no Pink Floyd period!

"Bike" is one of the coolest songs ever written in Popular music.

Pop songs may seem easy to write, but they are fucking hard to write, and you could see for yourself when you tried to write songs for "Lunatics".

This discussion seems to have not included another great album from this period which was Love's "Forever Changes" released in 1967. This album was also a milestone for that year and it was also far ahead of its time.

The Beatles were a great band, and "Sgt. Pepper" opened the door to many new things in rock, but they were not the only kids on the block, they just consumed the masses. When you dig a litle deeper, you can find some really cool stuff from that period.

Scott

Dear Scott:

Ah, I pushed your button, too. Let me rephrase what I meant about Syd's Pink Floyd. Other than "See Emily Play," nobody was listening to Pink Floyd or had any of their albums until "Meddle," which is the first Pink Floyd album I had. I knew a few people with "Atom Heart Mother" and "Ummagumma," but keep in mind that these were all albums that pretty much didn't sell at all, and that includes "Piper." Pink Floyd was a cult band for those who seemingly took too much acid. The only people listening to Pink Floyd then were anti-social weirdos. Pink Floyd didn't really come into existence until "Dark Side of the Moon." And that's when everybody began to look back at all their old albums, and the myth of Syd Barrett began. In retrospect, Syd's stuff is innovative and interesting, although not terribly accessible. But at the time, Syd's Pink Floyd equaled "See Emily Play," and that's it. I feel like I'm a very early Pink Floyd fan, and somewhat prescient, because I was into them before "Dark Side of the Moon." And there weren't many of us.

Josh

Name: Tom
E-mail: bellyoptopus@yahoo.com

Dear Josh:

You're right! I was all but 1 years old when "Sgt. Pepper" came out, so what I know about that period in music is what I get from reading and documentaries. The first music I showed serious interest in was The Beatles and my Parents bought me their 1964-1966 and 1967-1970 compilations when I was 10 for Christmas. I don't doubt "Sgt. Pepper's" > influence on the culture at the time and to this day in cultural terms (drug taking, long hair, questioning authority, peace promotion). The Beatles were definitely a part of that, not neccessarily by design but because they found themselves in a position of having clout by having so much respect within the Youth Culture. I have no flowery notions about the 60's, it was a major cultural upheaval that was full of controversy and violence (I don't think I would've like growing up in that period despite all the great music) even more so than what's happening today with the 9/11 and the Bush Administration. I wish there was something truly astonishing happening in music today, but there really isn't!

I was speaking of "Sgt. Pepper's" musical merits alone separate from the cultural impact. For me "Sgt. Pepper" has some style over substance going on within it. I think it was intentional, I don't know if you've watched the Anthology set at all, but clearly the album was designed as an escapist record. Paul specifically wanted to make and album the wasn't The Beatles at all but an imaginary band putting on a imaginary show and the rest of the band just fell in line with that concept and went with it! The result is an album that is initially imaginative and full of ideas overtime becomes remote and not very emotionally engaging("A Little Help From My Friends" being the warmest moment). Maybe there is a big difference of hearing it at the time than only listening to it outside of that context. As I said I love The Beatles and I love "Sgt. Pepper" but I'm also not afraid to be critical of it or praise it excellent points. I really don't listen to it as much as "Revolver" or "The White Album". I'm with it all the way up through "Fixing a Hole" then sort of plods slightly (I did say slightly) until the Grand Finale "A Day In The Life" which is one the best endings for any album. To a great extent it feels like Paul's record and John who has such powerfully good songs on "Revolver" seems disinterested on "Pepper" and George puts in his least interesting songwriting effort ever with "Within You Without You". Only Paul has a fondness for "Pepper" and John & George seem to like "Magical Mystery Tour" much better! I didn't mean to infer that "Magical Mystery Tour" is a hack album, because it isn't! It's one of the oldest records I've owned and I listened to it to death as a kid. To be fair "Strawberry Field's Forever" and "Penny Lane" were a pre-Pepper double A- sided single tacted on quite righteously on "Magical Mystery Tour" as well as "All You Need is Love" in America. In Europe it was a mini-album just containing songs from the film. After "Pepper" many many bands set out to make they're own "Pepper" with mixed results but by 1968-69 any band with good sense stopped. You don't hear modern bands going Pepperesque. The Kinks really did the Music Hall stuff really well, All their songs of that period were like mini-stories about ordinary people, I really love the Kinks stuff all the way up to about 1970-71. The band "XTC" have incorporated The Beatles, Early Pink Floyd and Brain Wilson into their sound to reasonably good effect. I quite enjoy them but XTC's early albums are much more original.

I do think calling Brian wilson A Genius is a stretch. He's got "Pet Sounds" and "Good Vibrations" in his cannon and that's it! I agree "Smile" or "Smiley Smile" is a dismal affair! It's fair to say that "Pet Sounds" is a desperate record. Desperate because Brain Wilson really ached to be as popular and infuential as the Beatles and obsessed over it and then had a nervous breakdown. Comparing "Pet Sounds" and "Pepper" is futile in some ways because they really are different albums made in different years with different motives. Paul claims that "Pet Sounds" influenced "Pepper" directly but I personally don't hear it! "Pepper" is new bag of tricks separate from "Pet Sounds" all on it's own. I have no love for The Beach Boys songs about surfing, fast cars and bikini's. I had to be pushed into listening to "Pet Sounds" because a lot of people rave about it, eventually it won me over!

Syd Barrett(I don't know why I put his name in quotes) era Pink Floyd and the Roger Waters/David Gilmour Pink Floyd debate is always a divisive one! I think both divisions of Pink Floyd haunt the other! The later Floyd most successful albums (specifically Darkside, Wish You Were Here, The Wall) are fueled with the mythos of Syd's pychological and emotional breakdown in their lyrical themes(not the music...the music is original owe's a great debt to Gilmour in retrospect. Roger Waters has proven himself pretty tuneless with solo efforts). "The Wall" really is an unflattering character assassination of Syd from which I take issue with! Syd on the other hand has to face (which he hasn't done very well) the fact that the band he started was able to move on without him and achieve both greater critical and commercial success in his physical absence but woefully still retains an omni-presence in their recorded output. Ironically Syd and Dave were childhood friends and busked together pre-floyd! There's a lot of speculation of who influenced who! I think Dave obviously is the more versatile and consistant guitarist! Syd had a peculiar erratic edge that could be stimulating when he could keep it together.

My point with "Piper" is that like "Pepper" it pushed the boundary's of the recording technology of the time. "Piper" also didn't have "Pepper" as a template to draw from so it's a wholly original album on it's own. Both of these album are amazingly recorded on 4-Track 1" tape I believe... with amazing amount of track bouncing in order to get all the instrumentation in there! That's difficult to do...I've tried it myself! I can appreciate your preference for "Sgt. Pepper" and most people would be be so inclined,"Piper at the Gates of Dawn" is hardly useless! It has it's own flaws, mainly "Sgt. Peppers" cover art kicks "Pipers" Ass! As a guitarist myself "Piper" songs are much more exciting to play than "Sgt. Pepper".

I like Clapton alot and Cream had a lot of great songs but their albums weren't quite as focused as Jimi's. London, was a hotbed of a lot of great guitarists(Clapton, Beck, Page & Townshend) with is why Hendrix went over so well there and scared them too! I saw a funny interview with Pete when Hendrix came to town in 1966 and started playing clubs, Clapton rang him up and asked him if wanted to go see a movie(which never ever did before!). They sat there and looked at eachother knowingly and Clapton asked have you seen Hendrix yet? He's good! Yep! He leveled some of the competition there in London! I don't think one really influenced the other. The difference is that Clapton had a record deal...Jimi didn't yet!

On another topic: I glad you're pleased with how "Alien Apocalypse" turned out! Sounds like directing for television is much different than movies. From what I could gather you didn't have any control over content, editing or effects! They sort of hired you to write the script and direct filming on location and that's it? Seeing Bruce and Renee together is going to be a real treat! I've got a whole lot admiration for Joe LoDuca's scores too, he is immensely talented!!!

Dear Tom:

Well, I guess I pushed a button. 1967-73 is my favorite period in music, along with jazz from the 1950s, and classical music from all the years before that. But since I lived through the rock & roll period, it means the most to me. I'm so glad you didn't really mean that "Magical Mystery Tour" is lame, because it really is a great record. To say that "Sgt. Pepper" is Disneyesque or Mickey Mouse, though, is ridiculous. Nobody had ever made a record like it. And to say that John wasn't into it is wrong -- he wrote the best song on the album, which is the first big epic rock & roll song. Sure, the whole fake band idea was Paul's and John just went with it, but he used it as a vehicle for his very best songwriting. I mean, come on, John showed up at those sessions with: "A Day in the Life," "Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds," "Being For the Benefit of Mr. Kite!" and "With A Little Help from My Friends," and you're saying he wasn't into it?

Josh

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

Josh,

I saw an interview with Ray Manzarak of The Doors where he describes the band listening to "Sergeant Pepper's" for two days straight. They then decided that what they were working on was amateurish by comparison, chucked those songs out, and wrote the album "Strange Days", essentially a response to "Pepper's" McCartney has talked in the past about ideas making the rounds; Dylan would come up with something, The Beatles would flush it out and The Byrds would and "that jangle-thing."

Back to a previous subject, I was wondering if you would agree that Laurel and Hardy were ideal for the transition from silent comedies to sound. Laurel, of course, seldom spoke (Hardy was hardly garrulous) and both men would often perform for more than a minute without a word being said. I wouldn't want to take the idea too far, naturally, but they do seem to segue nicely between the two formats. I can remember choking on a hot dog from Laurel's burning thumb routine, I was laughing so hard. "Sons of the Desert" is still one of my favorite comedies, and comedy is my favorite genre.

It's good to see the press for "Alien Apocalypse".

John

Dear John:

Let's put it this way, the coming of sound didn't effect Laurel & Hardy at all, which is really weird since it destroyed Keaton, Lloyd, Langdon and Mack Sennett. L&H's comedy works equally as well silent or sound. The real change-over in comedy, though, was the Marx brothers, who never made any silent movies and were purely a phenomenon of sound. Their first film,"Coconuts," (1929), has got to be one of the first fully sound films. Groucho was the first verbal film comedian.

Meanwhile, that's how everyone responded to the release of "Sgt. Pepper." Apparently, Brian Wilson, never a stable character, locked himself in his bedroom with the album and didn't come out for a week. That album sort of changed the world from black and white into color. Coincidentally, also that year, 1967, the Academy dropped the Best Black & White Cinematography category. Before "Sgt. Pepper" is one reality; after it is another.

Josh

Name: Tom
E-mail: bellyoptopus@yahoo.com

JB:"I let a comment by that Chaplin nut go by. He besmirched The Beatles' albums Revolver and Sgt. Pepper for some reason. I'd only give them the Best Rock Album of 1966 and 1967, respectively. Sgt. Pepper is the pinnacle of recording technique for 1967, and contains possibly the best rock song of all time, "A Day in the Life," but otherwise I guess it's overrated."

I agree with you the Best Rock Album of 1966 is "Revolver", with "Pet Sounds" a close second. In fact, I think it's the only perfect Beatles album. But I differ with you on "Sgt. Pepper", though an immensely popular album at the time it wasn't the only album to push recording techniques that year. Pink Floyd's "Pipers at the Gates of Dawn" was recorded at the same time as "Pepper's" and at Abbey Road Studios. Paul was rumored to have visited the studio a few times when the Floyd were recording and in interviews later described them as the real direction of music into the future, and he was somewhat right! "Pipers" would indeed become more influential than "Sgt. Pepper" at least in musician circles. When bands cop from the Beatles, they cop "Revolver" or "The White Album", not "Sgt. Pepper"! Pink Floyd had more avant-garde influences and was able to make them more palpable to youth culture at the time because their leader "Syd Barrett" was a whip smart songwriter as well freeform experimentalist. Of course "The Grateful Dead" would take freeform rock and kill it (They are one of the worst bands ever in my opinion). I think "Piper" holds up better nearly 40 years later than "Sgt. Pepper" but that not to say it doesn't because obviously like you said "A Day in the Life" is a masterstroke as well as "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" but song for song it has some major weaknesses when compared with other albums in the Beatles cannon, "Sgt. Pepper" is still better than most people's albums. I've read that Pete Townshend once described it as "Mickey Mouse Music" and that's a fair criticism I think, many of the songs take on a style of old pop music from the early 1900's and update them with sort of Disney-esque sound effects and to me that's not too revolutionary!

But my Real pick for the Best Rock Album for 1967 would be Jimi Hendrix "Are You Experienced?" for no one viewed the electric guitar the same again and he had some songwriting chops to boot! I think in retrospect it was the true watershed album rather than "Sgt. Pepper". I think 1967 was the breaking point for the Beatles where they no longer defined the music culture (but obviously much respected because they jumpstarted it) because it was evolving away from them and after that you hear them incorporate the sounds of their contemporaries into their albums! Where they become the influenced rather than the trailblazers! They're albums were still good to excellent (The White Album, Abbey Road) but "Magical Mystery Tour" was partially lame and "Let it Be" was abysmal, I refuse to own that record. Don't get me wrong, I love the Beatles and they are beyond important! Anybody who claims to be a rock musician studies them for sure!

If you're interested you can download some of my songs from one of my CD's off my website www.bellyoptopus.com, Of course you're not required to by me for any reason! You won't hurt my feelings or piss me off if you don't! Just if you're curious! Ted Raimi counts himself as a fan, but that's god awful namedropping isn't it!!!

When you post this message you can delete this part of it, because it's pretty cheesey to try and self-promote on your website, I know!

Dear Tom:

With all due respect, and I am a BIG Pink Floyd fan, I don't think "Pipers at the Gates of Dawn" or "Pet Sounds" come within a country mile of "Sgt, Pepper." I also don't know why you'd put Syd Barrett in quotes, that's his name. Personally, I think Syd wrote one good song, "See Emily Play." Otherwise, I think those early Floyd albums are nigh unto useless. Until they got to "Obscured By Clouds" and "Meddle," which is long past Syd Barrett, and firmly in the realm of David Gilmore, that's when their music started getting really good. To say that musicians didn't "cop" from "Sgt. Pepper" is ridiculous. It completely changed the direction of rock music, and every rock musician working at the time was influenced (read any musicians account of 1967). "Sgt. Pepper" was the big introduction to the drug generation for everybody. Yes, Paul wrote some silly music hall songs ("Lovely Rita" and "When I'm Sixty-Four"), but otherwise it's all great songs. Also, even though I was a big Jimi Hendrix fan, and to a certain extent still am, I don't think "Are You Experienced?" is nearly as good an album as "Sgt. Pepper," and "Purple Haze" and "Hey, Joe," which are both terrific songs, don't come near "A Day in the Life." Nor was it like Jimi Hendrix was the first guy to take the electric guitar where he did, Eric Clapton had already done it with Cream.

Here, I'll get back to the same agrument that's already going: I absolutely do not accept Brian Wilson as any kind of genius, or even as particularly important in the development of rock & roll. His one big accomplishment, in my opinion, was using a theramin on "Good Vibrations." Otherwise, he wrote painfully cliched, simpleminded surf songs, and Jan & Dean were already doing that before the Beach Boys got there. Most of the songs on "Pet Sounds" aren't even very good Beach Boys songs. Brian Wilson may well be reviving "Smile" these days, but it's a terrible album, and was worthy of being forgotten.

Furthermore, "Magical Mystery Tour" is a great album: "I Am the Walrus," "Strawberry Fields Forever," "Penny Lane, "Fool on the Hill, " "All You Need is Love," "Hello Goodbye," "Blue Jay Way." If any band working could write and record one of those songs they'd be famous. Also, as best as I can recall, there hasn't been one big smash album that was highly influential in the last 22 years. The last two big smash albums, which weren't very influential, were Michael Jackson's "Thriller" (still the largest-selling album of all-time) and "Bruce Springsteen's "Born in the USA," which were both before your time. Quite frankly, given the rise in population, as well the segementing of music (rock, classic rock, alternative adult rock, arena rock, etc.), I don't think any album can be as influential now as "Sgt. Pepper" was in 1967. You really can't imagine it if you weren't there. That album caused an entire generation to take hallucinogenic drugs. The only thing in your whole life that even comes close is 9/11, and that's way different.

Josh

Name: Trey Smith
E-mail: cobra_commander_of_cobra@yahoo.com

Dear Josh:

http://www.geocities.com/xhlist/alien.apocalypse.html
I don't know if you have been there but it is a fansite someone made for Alien Apocalypse...it's more of an info page though since the movie hasn't come out yet, but they seem to have followed news about the movie pretty faithfully.

Dear Trey:

Thanks for the info.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

<<I let a comment by that Chaplin nut go by>>
Its just his opinion, though. If I knew so much about film, I wouldn't be out there buying up and watching everything. There's always something more to learn. I just watched documentaries on JOAN CRAWFORD and THE MAKING OF GONE WITH THE WIND. Joan's daughter was surprisingly professional about the whole wire hangers thing and her mother's career, I watched all the film trailers and I get the feeling MILDRED PIERCE and BABY JANE where two of her best. The whole story behind Gone With The Wind is amazing... considering they didn't have a finished script, they went through 3 directors (or were they just threatening Victor Fleming with that last one?), plus its interesting to know the burning building falling down was the giant gate set to KING KONG. The way Vivian Leigh talked about George Cukor and how well he worked with women, I get the feeling he had a ball with THE WOMEN. I also got a kick out of seeing clips from the set of A STAR IS BORN which I had seen two weeks earlier. I kind of like black and white movies better than color, but one of my favorite color films was PLAY MISTY FOR ME... out of all the ones I've seen so far. I was watching TOUCH OF EVIL (the one re-edited to Welles memo), and I still kind of freaked out at the make-up on Orsen. Its amazing what you can get away with in Black and White. And the opening shot of EVIL was pretty nifty with the one shot of them strolling down the street while the different music plays on speakers from different buildings colliding into each other.

Dear kdn:

There were three directors on GWTW: George Cukor, Victor Fleming, then when Fleming left to go direct "The Wizard of Oz," his buddy, King Vidor, came in for one scene, the "Over the Rainbow" number. The burning of Atlanta was the very first thing they shot, which was even before they had cast Vivian Leigh in the film. She was brought by the burning Atlanta set by her agent, Myron Selznick, David's brother, and that's when she got the part.

Josh

Name: Jim K
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

It seems that you haven't had a very hands-on experience with the final post-production on "Alien" -- is this just the way Sci-Fi works? Why wouldn't they want the director around for all of these aspects -- did you have any say in sound editing, the final cut, etc.? I can sympathize that Sci-Fi may not have given you much of a choice, but it just seems for months you've been saying "now they're working on..." or "right now, the sound editor is..." which makes it sound like you're off the project. Is this just the nature of the beast, and you always knew you'd be on the side by this stage, or did something happen to give you a diminished role (or is my perception just wrong)? I assume if you had your druthers you'd have been hands-on through all steps... in any case, I'll be very curious to see it as all your films have been interesting at the very least! Good luck with the airing, and hopefully it'll lead to more work.

Dear Jim:

When you direct TV you are involved until you turn in your director's cut, then it's out of your hands. That's how it was on Herc and Xena, and that's how this was, too. I supervised the post-production on all of my indie films, but no one really expects or even wants the director at all the various stages of post on a TV project. Meanwhile, I didn't work for SciFi, I worked for a production company that produced the film for SciFi.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

It's amusing that AA is competing on the same network with a $30 million direct-to-tv movie (Man-Thing). What was the final budget on AA after effects, etc? Do you get any points or anything if it does well in the ratings?

Dear Jim:

You're kidding, right? I'm happy the checks cleared. The film cost $1.5 million, all in, the head, the tail, the whole damn fish.

Josh

Name: Kevin Kindel
E-mail:

Hey Josh:

I went to Fangoria.com and found this info posted on their site about AA...

The Sci Fi Channel has scheduled airdates for two of its most-awaited premiere features, Fango has learned. MAN-THING (pictured), the Brett Leonard-directed, Hans Rodionoff-scripted adaptation of the monstrous Marvel comic, will premiere Saturday, April 30 at 9 p.m., with a second showing at 1 a.m. You can read our extensive interview with Rodionoff in Fango #242, on sale March 15. Arriving a month earlier is the Bruce Campbell-starring ALIEN APOCALYPSE, directed by the actor's frequent collaborator Josh (RUNNING TIME) Becker. That film debuts Saturday, March 26 at 9 p.m., followed by a 1 a.m. showing and another airing March 31 at 9 p.m. See Fango #238 for our Monster Invasion piece on APOCALYPSE. -Michael Gingold

Dear Kevin:

Thanks for sending that. I finally saw the completed film yesterday, and given the limitations of TV, it turned out all right. Bruce and Renee are terrific, the physical and digital FX a quite good, the photography is nice, and Joe LoDuca's score is very good. As for my script and direction, you'll have to judge for yourself.

Josh

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

Hey Josh -

What would be a good introduction to the work of Harlan Ellison? I've just finished listening to his engaging commentary tracks on the recent dvd release of the 80s "Twilight Zone" revival (which I recommend, by the way, and now I finally get the comparison between yourself and him. He has a way, as I presume you do from the writings on this site, of cutting out the bullshit when it comes to the movie industry).

And not all twenty-somethings are as immature as "Jo". I'm twenty-one and think Keaton is miles ahead of Chaplin visually, laughs-wise, and as a filmmaker on the whole. That's not to say that I don't admire some of Chaplin's films, but the ego represented in such pictures as "Limelight" (where he's essentially writing his own obituary) is a real turn-off.

Meanwhile, this "Jo" character strikes me as another one of those "rebel" writer/directors you speak of in "The Need For Structure".

Dear Aaron:

I don't think jo is a filmmaker, just a kid who obssesses over Charlie Chaplin. Regarding good old Harlan Ellison, I'd recommend starting with his short story collection, "Angry Candy," which is a very good collection containing several great stories (one of which was made into a "Twilight Zone" ep). I also think his book of movie reviews, "Harlan Ellison's Watching," is a lot of fun. There are several good retrospective collections of Ellison's work, too, like "The Essential Ellison" and the various "Edgeworks" collections. But you'll have to wade through his 100 or so other books yourself.

Josh

Name: Damnell
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

Have you ever read the book, 'The House Of Leaves'? If not, you should check it out.....if so, what did you think? While I must say it certainly isn't the best book I've read, it was an interesting experience, and one I'm not likely to forget.

Also, I was thinking that if it was done RIGHT(which would be very difficult) it would make an intersting film.

Your thoughts.

Dear Damnell:

I've never read it. Who's it by?

Josh

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

Josh,

I'm 23 and I still know Jo's wrong. However I don't want to get in to it anymore. Maybe he'll just realize he won't win and leave. So on that note I'm changing the subject completly to... TV stars directing shorts/features. I think it can be really cool when I certain stars deciding to direct and doing a good job of it too. Like I saw Sean Astin did a bunch of short films. One of which I've seen and it was fairly good called "The Long and short of it". But now I hear that the girl who played Winnie Cooper from Wonder Years, Danica Mckellar and the girl who played Kelly Kapowksi on Saved by the bell, Tiffani Thiessen (Two shows I don't think you watched) are directing short films. It seems like an interesting switch. I want some of them to start doing features but I think its even better that their starting off doing short films instead of just jumping in to features. My favorite actor turned director has got to be Keith Gordon though. His movies have amazed me. Do you have any actors that have turned director you like? Or do you think they should stick in front of the camera?

Your fan,
Jonathan

Dear Jonathan:

Some folks get to directing from writing, some from editing, some from photography, some from producing, some from acting. Whatever inspires someone to go there, it all depends on how you handle it when you get there. I think Clint Eastwood did a brilliant job directing "Unforgiven." Robert Redford did a very competent job with "Ordinary People" and "Quiz Show." I think the best directors, however, come from being a writer or an editor (that's if they didn't go directly to directing from some lower crew job, like Hitchcock was a silent film title designer, or Wyler was an AD). But coming from acting can be a good background for a director because it makes you more apt to empathize with the actors, which is very important.

Josh

Name: Christine Gregory
E-mail: qtchewy11@yahoo.com

Dear Josh:

Hello, you are not going to believe this but I was an extra in one of your movies,Lunatics a love story back in 1989.We shot some I believe wedding scenes at I believe it was Hothorne Park in Pontiac Michigan.Anyways It was a group of us drama students from Waterford Kettering High School.It was a lot of fun.I was wondering if you have a video available for purchase of the outtakes of the movie that would include us.I remember seeing the movie while it was on cable years ago but I don't recall seeing any of us.Perhaps we didn't make the cut.Anyway,I just thought I'd give it a shot.Thanks for your time.I enjoyed looking at your site and viewing all your works. Sincerely,Christine Gregory

Dear Christine:

That's where we shot that final wedding scene. Sorry, there are no outtakes extant. All that stuff got thrown out years ago.

Josh

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

Josh,

I haven't been checking the boards here lately, but while I was astray, I see things are heating up again.

The Charlie Chaplin debate and such. I love Buster Keaton, and when Royal Oak Music Theater was still a real theater, I used to go and watch the Buster Keaton festivals and they would have a real organ accompanist for the films as well as the Charlie Chaplin and Harold Lloyd films.

They also had Three Stooges film festivals, which I would never miss.

Ah, the good old days!

Anyhow, I agree with your assessment of scores and silent films. Nobody really knew what to do then, and the music scores seemed to be only secondary to the films themselves.

Whoever this Jo character is chiming in here, He seems to have all the answers at 22 years old. Yeah, so did I and every other 22 year old. Now I am 38 and I realize how naïve I was at 22, and I am sure he will too someday.

No I am chiming in here.

"No one cares about the placement of the camera"? What the fuck kind of comment is that? Is this guy for real?

If you are making a film You better care about the placement of the camera or your not making a film, your making a document of action in front of the camera, so why not just do a play instead?

The camera is your eye buddy that helps tell the story and gives it the aesthetic that no other story telling device in a film can.

As you said Josh, "Hitchcock definitely cared about camera placement" and if he had not, his films would not have been as great as they were and that conscious decision of camera placement in his films still holds up today and makes for very interesting filmmaking indeed.

Scott

 

Name: Raoul
E-mail: ra0ul01@yahoo.com

'Jo': "by the way in what way did keaton innovate?"
Has Jo ever seen 'Sherlock, Jr.'? or Keaton's short 'The Playhouse'? He was not only innovating with filmic ways of telling a joke, he was innovating in movie special effects and narrative. As you replied, almost all Chaplin's gags could be performed on a stage, but in 'Sherlock, Jr.', Keaton is creating gags that can only exist on film. When he walks on stage and then INTO the film-within-a-film, he's so far ahead of the crowd, it was 70 years before anyone followed up on his ideas (and 'Purple Rose of Cairo' isn't as good as Keaton's silent.) The effects where the film backgrounds are changing (from the front of a building to a mountainside, say,) while Keaton remains in exactly the same position are still flawless, better than what could be accomplished today with digital effects. In the short 'the Playhouse', Keaton plays all the characters: actors, audience, the pit orchestra, etc. Josh, you know more films than I, but has there ever been another film where one actor played all roles? And Buster's deadpan acting is so opposite of the typically broad, theatrical silent movie style, I'd call him an innovator in that regard as well. Humor is obviously a very subjective thing, but register my vote for Buster Keaton as 'Funniest Film Comedian'. You mention Chaplin's gag with the monkeys on the tightrope, in 'the Cameraman', Keaton only has one monkey scampering all over him as he climbs a fire escape to get a better view of the Tong War going on around him, and it's one of the funniest scenes ever put to film. And the ending of 'The Cameraman', where he rescues the girl, then goes to get help and his rival takes credit for the rescue, is just as emotionally bittersweet as anything Chaplin did, with the added bonus that he then pulls back from the sad, dejected cameraman, and we see the monkey is now filming him. The first time I saw that, I didn't know whether to laugh or cry, it's still one of my favorite film endings. Sorry if I'm belaboring the point, but, like Jo feels about Chaplin, if someone thinks Keaton isn't the funniest film comedian, I immediately assume they just haven't seen his stuff. But as far as innovation, it can be objectively proven that Buster was light years ahead of Charlie. Sorry, jo, them's the facts ( and have you heard of the little innovation known as 'punctuation'?).

Here's my question for you, Josh: which do you think is the better bio-pic: 'The Buster Keaton Story'(directed by the hilarious Sidney Sheldon,) or 'Chaplin' ( by the equally hilarious Richard Attenborough)?

Dear Raoul:

I've never seen "The Buster Keaton Story," but it looks awful. As you well know, I thought "Chaplin" was awful--a three hour biopic about a famous comedian without one laugh. Look, jo is just full of shit. His statements regarding camera position or cinematic innovation, that "No one cares about that," is is just plain idiotic. But he's 22, so he's got that as an excuse. He just wrote in calling me a snob, and saying that everyone in the film business is a snob. Okay then, I'm a snob.

Josh

Name: jo
E-mail: bryanhernandez@sbcglobal.net

Dear Josh:

again no one notices nor cares of such details. i have hundreds of movies at this early age of 22, and nit picking something so trivial is well, trivial. Chaplin is an obvious throw back to his english stage days, and that's all right. No his scores weren't crappy, and yes i am well aware of whom max steiner is. whose music for casablanca doesn't even fit the bill at times. you guys are out of your minds.

Dear jo:

Let's drop this, but do understand that you're young and foolish and don't know very much. That which you think no one cares about, many, many people care about, particularly me. So just leave it at I'm out of my mind.

Josh

Name: jo
E-mail: bryanhernandez@sbcglobal.net

JOSH:Chaplin has alwyas been too absurdist for me; I am not surprised that in France people still laugh out loud at him in theaters. French culture seems to have a greater appreciation of the absurd, from guys like Jerry Lewis to the annual Tex Avery festivals they hold over there. I will admit that I enjoy Avery's cartoons; perhaps I am more willing to suspend belief in an animated feature.
---------------------------------------
that's chaplins allure! but maybe that is where i differ in opinion so greatly. i think the stooges were funnier than keaton, lloyd, laurel and hardy, etc.. and chaplins sentimentality is also what rates him higher than any other. realistic? maybe not, but highly entertaining and feeds to the idealism in each of us. i don't watch him for reality, just the opposite.
The last scene in City Lights is the most touching dramatic acting i've yet to see. and i've seen nearly any film rated among the very best. He reaches dramatic highs in the Gold Rush and Limelight as well. The scene in City Lights where he boxes to raise money for blind romance, is a tour de force. And just 15-20 minutes later he executes a dramatic scene as poingnant as i have seen. NO funny men or women have ever shown such capabilities. oh and i also believe the marx brothers had some of the funniest movies of that time. some can argue groucho was the first great verbal comic.
Now to say Chaplin's scores were bad is complete nonsense. His rewritten score for The Kid is excellent. Modern Times is one of the absolute best. City Lights, the rewrite for the Circus, and the Gold Rush are all exceptional. "Smile" from modern times was later released (with words) by nat king cole. some of you may have heard it. Its one of the most beautifully written romantic/friendship songs written for a film. So to say he was "bad" is laughable. Limelight probably is my favorite original score for a film to date.
Chaplin was brilliant, take for instance his short Kid auto at the races, where he is constantly showing up for the camera and people keep pushing him out of frame. who would have thought of that in those days? Or his other short/documentary, How to Make Movies. It's brilliant. Or the Immigrant? These were masterpeices. Chaplin was an artist.
genius or not he IN MY OPINION is the best talent film ever produced. by the way in what way did keaton innovate? and remember innovation doesn't equal quality. ie michael jackson

Dear jo:

Clearly you love Charlie Chaplin, and I appreciate that. We'll simply have to agree to disagree. I don't blame Chaplin for not being all that good at scoring his films since nobody really knew how to score a film until Max Steiner did "King Kong" in 1933. Previous to that they just sort of played any kind of music while the action occurred (which is what Chaplin did all the way through "A Woman of Paris"). Max Steiner was the first composer to really hit the beats and "Mickey Mouse," meaning to score the individual actions occurring on-screen. He was also the first guy to convey information musically, like you see a battleship and the music is "Rule Brittania," and you now know it's a British battleship. Film scoring at it's best is a very complex procedure, delving into the psychology of the characters, and Charlie Chaplin was not a terribly accomplished musician or composer--he could neither read nor write music. He did pretty damn well under the circumstances, though. "Smile" is a pretty tune.

Regarding Buster Keaton being more innovative than Chaplin, here's how I see it: All of Chaplin's gags, as good or bad as they ever got, were all conceived and played out in a single shot as though it were being performed on stage, whether it was monkeys on the high-wire or a futuristic worker-feeding machine that goes out of control. Whereas, take the gag in "The General" where Buster's train is chasing another train, and he's trying to shoot a canon at the enemy train. Buster leaves the engine, runs over the coal car, gets to the canon, goes to load it with gunpowder and isn't sure how much to use, so he puts in a handful, loads a canonball, lights the fuse, runs back over the coal car to the engine, the canon fires with a huge puff of smoke and the canonball lands right behind him. Buster reacts in his incredible deadpan, picks up the canonball, takes it back to the canon (and keep in mind this is all on a moving train), and as he's about to reload, this time he puts in the entire can of gunpowder. Buster lights the fuse, then runs back over the coal car to the engine. Except that the train hits a bump and the canon lowers down so that now it's aiming right at the back of Buster's head. At the very last moment, just as the canon fires, there's a curve in the train tracks causing Buster and the engine to veer out of the line of fire and the canonball hits the train ahead. This entire series of gags was all conceived with the idea of montage in mind, that individual shots can be intercut to achieve something larger. Buster Keaton made better use of the cinematic form than did Charlie Chaplin, in my humble opinion.

Josh

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

Josh,

I think Chaplin must, at one time, have been the most parodied actor in history (Lucille Ball did a "Chaplin" I believe), but Harold Loyd has been borrowed more often. His bits are all over commercials or used to convey someone's reaction to an outlandish situation (I don't know what that kind of cut-away is called). There's some obvious bits like the clock tower from "Safety Last" and the dissolving tuxedo in "The Freshman". I've seen maybe half a dozen of Loyd's features and a few of his shorts.

My father was a huge fan of both Loyd and Keaton, and the Keystone Cops when they started making independent pictures. He grew up in Leavenworth which ran a silent theater well into the forties. I don't know how common that was in larger towns or more forward states, but in Kansas it was apparently not unusual. My wife's grandfather, who is now 99, ran the movie projector in McFarland, Kansas, outside of Topeka, projecting the image against the wall of the Methodist (I think) church. He was also the mayor at the time which tells more about the town than about him. I've seen the piano they used for accompaniment, an old spinnet they would wheel down from the church. The neighboring towns would ride up the rails to watch the movies and then head back home the same way. The whole scene was pretty cool.

John

Dear John:

A cut-away to someone's reaction is appropriately called a Reaction Shot. Meanwhile, everybody used to do Chaplin. I just watched "Sunset Blvd." again and there's a scene where Gloria Swanson does a pretty good Chaplin impersonation. I'd say that most towns and cities stopped showing silent films about 1929, and never showed them again. As soon as sound came in, silent films were severely dated and nobody wanted to see them anymore. Chaplin continued making silent films until 1938 (with sound effects and his crappy music scores) with "Modern Times," but that was really because he was a stick-in-the-mud. He just wouldn't get with the program, although eventually he just had to. The big silent film comedians were: Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, Harold Lloyd, and Harry Langdon, and I'd say in order of who was the funniest and how well their films hold up, it goes: Keaton, Lloyd, Chaplin, Langdon.

Josh

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

Josh,

I had to laugh at this Jo kid. I mean seriously... he's dissing your movie even though he's never seen it cause it ain't out yet. And calling it typical though I'm sure he has no idea what its about. And the best thing... he hates independent film though he's ranting about that an independent filmmakers q and a board. I can sense a little irony there. Message to Jo: Grow up and watch some more movies and then come back and talk about how much you think people like Tarantino are geniuses because his camera work is so innovative.

Jonathan

Dear Jonathan:

Of course, it is an easily dissable title, "Alien Apocalypse." There are seven other films on this month with "Alien" in the title, ranging from the actual "Alien" films, to "Alien Cargo," "Alien Fury," "Alien Nation," and"Alien Siege."

Josh

Name: Rich
E-mail: bigrich70@yahoo.com

Dear Josh,

Thanks much for posting your Filmmaking Guide on-line. It is a tremendous resource. You have an excellent section on the legal aspects of filmmaking which I think a lot of other "how to" books fail to properly address.

That being said, can you tell me what a sales agent/distributor means when they are asking for a "QC Report" on a film submission?

Would also be interested on your thoughts on the big fights coming up, Morales-Pacquaio? Tszyu-Hatton?

Best,

Rich

Dear Rich:

Okay, you stumped me. A "QC Report"? Never heard of it. Meanwhile, both of the upcoming fights you mentioned ought to be barn-burners, but you never know. Frequently, though, the really well-matched fights turn out to be boring. I'm particularly interested in Kostya Tszyu and Ricky "The Hitman" Hatton, who are both great fighters. It always sounds to me like they're saying Ricky "The Hit" Manhattan.

Josh

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

KDN

<<For Bergman I recommend "The Seventh Seal" and "Autumn Sonata;" for Cassavates, "Faces" and "A Woman Under the Influence;" for Fellini, "81/2" and "La Dolce Vita.">>

Yeah, I have been noticing the WARNER BROTHERS FIRST NATIONAL logos lately. I like them, I just finished MILDRED PIERCE, There's no real mystery as to who did it, but it was an interesting plot turn to have Veda become a bum who thinks she's a rich snob... but she's just a bum. I like the line "Here's to our men... the stinkers". I've been watching some of the Warner Brothers night at the movies on the dvds. I think the newsreels are the most interesting, its like watching another time and imagining what's going on behind the cameras. Strangely, I just bought THE SEVENTH SEAL right after I wrote the first message.

Dear kdn:

Yeah, it says Warner Brothers First National on literally hundreds of films. I also recently watched The Ace of Hearts" (1923) with Lon Chaney, Sr. and made for Goldwyn Pictures, with the whole MGM logo with the roaring lion. The next year, 1924, it became Metro-Goldwyn Pictures, with the roaring lion logo, as can be seen in the wonderfully weird Lon Chaney film, "He Who Gets Slapped." Then in 1925 it became Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, still with the roaring lion.

I let a comment by that Chaplin nut go by. He besmirched The Beatles' albums Revolver and Sgt. Pepper for some reason. I'd only give them the Best Rock Album of 1966 and 1967, respectively. Sgt. Pepper is the pinnacle of recording technique for 1967, and contains possibly the best rock song of all time, "A Day in the Life," but otherwise I guess it's overrated.

Josh

Name: Tom
E-mail: bellyoptopus@yahoo.com

JB:

"Have you gotten your tape yet? If not, it'll be there any minute."

I haven't received it yet, but I will email you tell you what I think! I'm really looking forward to it! I'm a musician, so it's a subject of interest for me!

All this talk about Keaton, Lloyd and Chaplin makes want to watch all their stuff again! It's been since I was a teenager that I've seen any of those silent comedies(I'm 38 now by the way).

It's remarkable that you do this Q&A, where you answer everybody whether friendy, hostile(in a friendly kind of way) or sometimes somewhere in-between!

Dear Tom:

It's for my own amusement, and as a public service. Someone has to have some standards.

Josh

Name: jo
E-mail: bryanhernandez@sbcglobal.net

DIRECTOR:I don't think you do, Chaplin was a seriously crappy composer, and his music doesn't fit his films very well to almost at all. His score for "A Woman of Paris" was pathetic.
------------------------
this is nonsense! i don't have the time to chime in yet, but this is really silly. and no no one cares how a camera is positioned.

Dear jo:

I care how the camera is positioned, and so did Alfred Hitchcock and Stanley Kubrick and William Wyler and Orson Welles and Sergie Eisenstein and Akira Kurosawa and many, many other directors (although certainly not all). That you don't care is due to your lack of awareness. And Chaplin's music being piss-poor is not nonsense, it's a sad fact.

Josh

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

Josh,

I personally never cared much for Chaplin, though I've always appreciated what he did. I preferred Keaton in the silents, but really prefer the comedies of the thirties, from Laurel and Hardy to W. C. Fields. Chaplin has alwyas been too absurdist for me; I am not surprised that in France people still laugh out loud at him in theaters. French culture seems to have a greater appreciation of the absurd, from guys like Jerry Lewis to the annual Tex Avery festivals they hold over there. I will admit that I enjoy Avery's cartoons; perhaps I am more willing to suspend belief in an animated feature.

I'm with you on Nabokov. He might have been a brilliant writer but his work never resonated much with me. It was always a bit of a chore for me to finish his stuff.

I also take issue with the casual use of the word "genius". My understanding is that genius is a momentary thing, a flash of insight or an intuitive leap which moves, not to the next logical step, but to some point well beyond that. I think the physical sciences lend themselves more to such epiphanies than do most fields, and it is rare that ony one person experiences such insight more than once in a life time, whatever their field. Edwin Hubble, for instance, had a moment of genius when he realized that many of the Messier objects could represent extra-galactic structures. The work he did to prove this theory was impressive and painstaking, but the genius what the moment of the idea. That's no insult, by the way. Most people never get one such experience.

On a separate topic; ad hominem attacks reveal only two things, both about the attacker. First, the attacker has no real arguement, or else he would present that instead. Two, the attacker must be motivated by an insecurity which expresses itself in denigrating others to elevate himself. I do wish some of these folks would look up the definition of "discussion" before going on their diatribes.

Forgive me, I drone.

John

Dear John:

I don't think Chaplin was ever as absurd as Keaton, whom I too found to be much funnier than Chaplin (and far more innovative). But Charlie Chaplin was indeed funny, although not screamingly so, as far as I'm concerned. There's a scene in "The Circus" where Charlie is trying to impress the cute high-wire girl by going out on the high-wire himself. Right at that moment someone lets the monkeys escape from their cage. The monkeys all climb up on the high-wire, climb all over Charlie, are perched on either end of his balancing stick, one unbuckles his pants which fall to his ankles, and another monkey gets on his head and begins biting his nose. Now that's funny. I don't think it's genius, but it is funny. But unlike Keaton or Lloyd, Chaplin resorted to such over-the-top sentimentalism that his films feel far more dated than the others.

Josh

Name: Tom
E-mail: bellyoptopus@yahoo.com

Dear Josh:

Huh! I guess the real controversy is what constitutes "Genius"?

By dictionary definition, genius is: 1. a) exceptional intellectual and creative power b) one who possesses such power 2. a) a natural talent or inclination b) one who has such talent or inclination 3. the prevailing spirit of a place, person, time, or group.

Genius by definition is vague, lackluster and boring! Which is why it's so overused... a lazy way to describe something or someone you like without really expressing why and what for! It's just a catch phrase.... and that's one faction of people!

The other faction, are people who add connotations the word that aren't really there in the definition! People who only reserve the name "Genius" for people they hold up as being more/or better than humanly possible at creative arts or inspirational intellectual thinking, or whatever! The Deity Status!In the case of Cinema, Really, the people who invent the technologies for film/photography are more extraordinary than the Director's and Performer's application of the technology. But invention and application go together, one feeds the other....it's evolution baby!!!

I really hate the word "Genius" because it is so vague and pandering!

Whether C. Chaplin is a genius or not doesn't matter much...because the word doesn't mean anything extraordinary to me at all! I agree he was well above averagely gifted and deserves his spot in cinematic history!

I'm just blabbering, 'cause I can!!!

Dear Tom:

Have you gotten your tape yet? If not, it'll be there any minute. As you say, "Genius" is a severely overused term, that's why I wrote that essay in the first place. I was offended hearing that Spielberg is a genius, or Peter Jackson is a genius, for goodness sake. The term is now employed for anyone who is successful. But in my definition a genius must have had an impact on those that came after them, specifically in their own field. If you're a physicist, there's no way to not refer back to Einstein all the time. If you're a filmmaker you will be making reference to D.W. Griffith every time you cut within a scene, because he's the guy that figured the concept of "simultaneous action" (meaning, if I shoot the whole scene in one actor's close-up, then I shoot the whole scene again in another actor's close-up, I can then edit the two close-ups together as though they were occurring at the same time), and this is how every filmmaker now works. Anyway, that's how I see it.

Josh

Name: Gwen
E-mail: gwennybdead@yahoo.com

Hello, Josh!

Just a note on the subject of genius. A genius is one whose ideas change the world. Albert Einstein was a genius. So was Marie Curie. Freud and Jung may also qualify. I can't think of a single filmmaker who has changed the world the way any of the above examples has. The only genius associated with motion pictures was the fellow who invented them, and that was Thomas Alva Edison.

I'm loving your book, Josh. Did you do any research on termite behavior while writing "Alien Apocalypse"? Just curious; entomology is a pretty interesting subject once you get past the oogy bugginess of it all.

Kisses!
G

Dear Gwen:

I think you're going too far in the opposite direction. I don't think someone has to "change the world" is be a genius. You can simply be a genius in your own form. Beethoven was a genius in his own form, music, but that didn't change the world. Rembrandt was a genius at painting, but that didn't change the world, either. But someone like D.W. Griffith established the language of filmmaking in 1915, and no film before that was like it, and all films after that owe something to it. Griffith's genius didn't change the world, it just changed all of filmmaking for everybody. Meanwhile, no, I didn't do much research on termites. I did look them up in the encyclopedia, though.

Josh

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

Dear Josh,

Thank you for your kind compliment, I usually don't get many anywhere. I guess I usually keep trying, sometimes it gets me places not always. That sounds like a fun boxing match, I guess Corey Spinks is related to Leon Spinks? I actually haven't seen some of the newer matches. That is funny.

Sometimes I don't know how to best phrase my questions and I guess there are certain topics that you would rather keep to on here and that is totally fine as it is your site. Anyway, well, I was wondering on the differences between a Super-8 film and a regular film, technically.

Also I hope the criticisms and nasty questions to you on here cease.

Thanks,

John

Dear John:

They won't cease, but that's part of the charm of this Q&A, I think. Anybody can say anything they want, as long as it gets past me, that is. Yes, Corey Spinks is the son of former world champion, Leon Spinks, and the nephew of the another world champ, Michael Spinks.

The three most common formats of motion picture film stocks are: 35mm, 16mm and 8mm. Each one now has a Super-version, meaning you can shoot a wider image on the same stock. Obviously, 16mm is twice as wide as Super-8, and 35mm is over twice as wide as 16mm. There is also 70mm, too.

Josh

Name: jo
E-mail: bryanhernandez@sbcglobal.net

DIRECTOER:Thanks, but I still don't think Chaplin's a genius. Being good at something doesn't make you a genius. Nor does being successful make you a genius, either. Chaplin was the first movie superstar, and he made a number of funny films. But did he innovate the form? Did he do something with motion pictures no one else had done yet? Did he elevate motion pictures to a new level? No, no, and no. He was good at what he did and he made an enormous amount of money doing it, and subsequently became the most famous person on earth for a while. But that don't make him a genius, at least not in my book.

---------------------------
to do what he did and to do it well makes him a genius. he is a CINEMATIC genius. and where on earth did i claim that chaplin's success and fame AND riches weigh in any way on his ability to entertain from all levels of film? i am not an idiotic jerk off who believes somone like speilberg is a genius just cause he has 10 all time money makers. hell no! i don't personally believe that talent in general renders one a genius. however, chaplin was and is one of a kind who could do anything, and do it well. brando has been labeled a "genius" and hell even bill parcells (cowboys coach) has been labeled a genius. i believe that perhaps in ones respected venue that the label genius could be applied, but only used loosely. Now, i aslo don't believe that just cause somone fades a scene in or out well, or uses lighting in a different way, or positions the camera in odd places to acheive a certain affect, makes him/her a genius either. welles was good and creative,but not a genius even in terms of cinema. here is what i think the problem is. people too often mistake unique and creativeness for "good." this is what happened to the beatles. take for instance sgt eppers lonely hearts club band. usually hailed as the creme de la creme of modern record making. but what is so great about it really? cause the album had a concept? cause they used musical instruments in strange ways? what the hell kind of reasoning is that? so what?! somone can use a synthesizor (dont think thats the way you spell it but oh well). revolver and sgt pepper are usually as regarded as the best rock has to offer. but neither are as well done as abby road. and guess what? abby road didn't contain any synthesizors no strange musical techniques etc... i really think the same rules apply with welles and others. innovation isn't always good. and anyways,chaplins, THE CIRCUS, and THE GOLD RUSH contained some of the most innovative camera work up until that time. Chaplin is a genius.

Dear jo:

"and anyways,chaplins, THE CIRCUS, and THE GOLD RUSH contained some of the most innovative camera work up until that time. Chaplin is a genius." I guess you just haven't seen many silent movies. Chaplin was one of the least innovative film directors ever. By 1928 when he made "The Circus," I'd say nearly every director working at that point had a better handle on how to use a movie camera than Chaplin did. At that point Joseph Von Sternberg was a million miles ahead of Chaplin as far as being cinematic. So was Alfred Hitchcock, so was Raoul Walsh, so was Sergei Eisenstein, so was Able Gance, on and on. Which isn't to say that "The Circus" isn't funny, because it is. It's just making no new use of the cinematic form. Whereas, Orson Welles did things with film that had never been done before. And these innovations effected every other filmmaker that came after him. And if you want to face facts, which I don't think you do, Chaplin was a seriously crappy composer, and his music doesn't fit his films very well to almost at all. His score for "A Woman of Paris" was pathetic.

Josh

Name: Tom
E-mail: bellyoptopus@yahoo.com

Dear Josh:

That guy Jo is off his rocker!!!

"He was and still remains the only truly funny man film has produced." -
Jo must be completely humorless and evidently wants to be Chaplin's love slave even to the grave. Poor Charlie!!!

"Wait a minute your the jack off that intiated such crap as alien apocoplyse?" - Nobody's even scene this movie yet and he's judged it crap!
OK! Lol!

Is Chaplin a genius? The word "Genius" has been use to try elevated people into divine deity status when it just means that someone has natural talent or intellectual inclination for doing something! Which applies to a whole lot of people! So, yes Charlie is a genius because he's got some talent! I don't think that's news to anybody!!!

Is Josh Becker talented? Yes! So he must have a little bit of genius in him too! Just not quite the influence and stature of Chaplin or Welles. Hope that's not insulting you Josh?

Just stickin' up for ya Josh....not that you need any help!

Dear Tom:

Thanks, but I still don't think Chaplin's a genius. Being good at something doesn't make you a genius. Nor does being successful make you a genius, either. Chaplin was the first movie superstar, and he made a number of funny films. But did he innovate the form? Did he do something with motion pictures no one else had done yet? Did he elevate motion pictures to a new level? No, no, and no. He was good at what he did and he made an enormous amount of money doing it, and subsequently became the most famous person on earth for a while. But that don't make him a genius, at least not in my book.

Josh

Name: Diana
E-mail: upon request

Dear Josh:

I hope I don't sound like a dummy, but in "Lolita": Does the Peter Sellers character(s) represent Professor Humbert's guilty conscience, or an emerging awareness of sub-conscious thoughts?

I have heard that in the book, Sellers' character is relatively minor. Is he still Clare Quilty (TV writer)/Dr. Zempf (Beardsley High School psychologist) in the book?

Dear Diana:

I haven't read the book, and I've never liked the movie. I did read a few other books by Nabokov and I didn't like those, either.

Josh

Name: jo
E-mail: bryanhernandez@sbcglobal.net

Dear Josh:

wait a minute your the jack off that intiated such crap as alien apocoplyse? wow! i sent an email about how much chaplin rules and you don;t, and that was before i new you disgorged such typical crap out of the indie scene. i hate indie movies and particularly their masterminds, and i use the term loosely. man, i knew you werent at liberty to discuss whether chaplin is a genius or not. get outta here!

Dear jo:

You again? So what have you done that makes you so worthy of discussing a genius like Charlie Chaplin? Come on, give.

Josh

Name: jo
E-mail: bryanhernandez@sbcglobal.net

Dear Josh:

well, i do agree that GENIUS is applied much to often to people who are boarderline talented. such as speilberg, allen iverson?!, oprah, and even emenim for crying out freakin loud! however, your assertion that chaplin was not a genius is laughable. i agree mostly with ya, but not in this regard bub. Chaplin is the genius to end all genius name calling in hollywood. He wrote, directed, choreographed, produced, and scored all of his movies, and movies, not essenay shorts. HE not only attempted but succeeded where many fail constantly, like you i am sure. as a matter of fact why don't you try it out? You probably havent seen much of chaplin to even merit an honest opinion. I will admit that countess from hong kong, and a king in new york were mildly entertaining. but those failures were by a 65 plus year old man!! you know your creative abilities diminish greatly around that time. paul mccartney for instance. he sucked soon after turning 40.
I do think welles is highly creative, but not a genius, and mostly overrated. Chaplin is the one and ONLY person in film that should ever be mentioned as a genius. he wasn't funny? now that is very funny. he was and still remains the only truly funny man film has produced. he was the greatest actor in the history of cinema and the greatest director as well. who cares if camera work is innovative and different? if that is what one needs to make a good film that i must assume that it is poorly written in the first place. you are a true directorial snob and possess very little if any REAL sense of good cinematic judgment, thanks, please email back so we can continue this discussion.

Dear jo:

So you like Charlie Chaplin, I take it. "You probably havent seen much of chaplin to even merit an honest opinion." Really? I've seen pretty much everything he did. I just watched "A Woman of Paris," his silent feature he didn't star in in 1923, which was pretty good. Still not genius, however. And why do you think you must attack me personally?

Josh

Name: kdn
E-mail: jericho_legends

Dear Josh:

kdn
jericho_legends

<<Please don't make me respond to nameless questions. If you can't put your name on the thing, don't write in.>>

If its nameless, it is probably me, but its not my fault because I DO type the name in. Its just doesn't show up for some reason. On the other hand, if worse comes to worse, and you kick somebody off the questions board, they can always write back under a silly name.

then all hell would break loose. Have you ever had a problem where somebody stole somebody else's name to write insulting questions? Do you just ignore them.

Dear kdn:

We've had all kinds of shit happen here over the nearly seven years we've been up and running. We've been around as long as Amazon and Google, in the rather short history of the internet. Meanwhile, I just watched "The Divine Lady" (1929), the final nail in the coffin of First National Studios, which was a major film studio between 1917-1929, and had a big backlot in Burbank. Anyway, they had a lot of borrowed money tied up in a number of expensive silent films right when sound took off, and they did not make the switch-over to sound in mid-production on any of the films. They finished them silent, then put music and sound on afterward, except the music isn't scored to the action, and there's only the occasional sound effect (the film had a wonderful credit, "Sound Apparatus, Western Electric Co."). So First National went bankrupt and Warner Brothers acquired them, mainly for their backlot, which is where Warners is still located. You'll notice on all of the Warner Brothers films of the thirties it actually says Warner Brothers First National, which they finally dropped about 1940, and it then became plain old Warner Brothers.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

I watched JUDGEMENT AT NUREMBURG the other night. I wish I could make a film as good as that, it was near perfect. I'm thinking of buying a CANON XL2 to learn shooting a film on... you think all digital films are bad, I wanted to see what it looks like in gritty black and white.

On writing a movie, they say you are supposed to write your scenes out on cards to learn your structure, I was going to piece apart my best movies into the chapters and write out what happened in the scenes and how it happened to get insight into this (on MILDRED PIERCE, THE APARTMENT, BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI, JUDGMENT AT NUREMBURG). Besides these movies, what are some more films I should do this on.

What are some good films of Ingmar Bergman, John Cassavetes, Frederico Fellini, and maybe just some good German Expressionist films worth checking, I'm interesting in doing a film like that... Although I'm not wasting my money on a story that has nothing to say, I'm still working on that.

which brings me to Robert Rodriguez. I've been spending some time in Barnes and Nobles to hang out and read film books, now that yours is complete I'll check it out. I wanted to see if I could put your emphasis on a good script and his budgeting together... but after reading some chapters on REBEL WITHOUT A CREW I thinked his idea of filmmaking is a little fucked when it comes to making a good movie. He's seen and studied a lot of good films, but he made El Mariachi KNOWING it would suck. He didn't like the idea of writing two scripts and throwing them away to get to the good movie, he figured he could get some film experience if he made his crap movies and sold them on the Spanish Video Market where nobody in Hollywood would see them. He thens goes on through chapters where he obviously doesn't care about the story he's making, he's just happy to be making a movie and he puts off his "breakthrough" film. He doesn't seem to care. It's disturbing. How can you ever expect to learn to make a good or even great movie if you don't try, there's no point in making a bad movie. Its sad... but I think he has good ideas on HOW TO make films on the cheap by being multiversital its just his attitude that sucks. I figure put that together with a good script and a LOT of rehearsal and planning and its possible to make a good movie.

Oh yeah, favorite disturbing line of his, he asks somebody in the Lab Rat place if they want to play the lead villain. He then asks him if he knows how to act "no" "Good he'll be like everyone else on this film"... that's a little disturbing, if you knew somebody that knows how to act and stage, you could learn a little from them.

Dear kdn:

I've never been a fan of putting your scenes on index cards. I'm a much bigger fan of sitting down and writing the story out as a treatment, 12-14 pages, and see if you actually have a story. If you can't get 12-14 pages out of your idea, you'll never get a 100-120 script out of it. I agree,"Judgement at Nuremburg" is a very good movie. For Bergman I recommend "The Seventh Seal" and "Autumn Sonata;" for Cassavates, "Faces" and "A Woman Under the Influence;" for Fellini, "81/2" and "La Dolce Vita."

Josh

Name: Luiz Fernando Gallego
E-mail: lgfallego@openlink.com.br

Dear Josh:

Congatulations for your text about W.Wyler. But why dou you think "Children's Hour" is not a good film? It's not a very great Wyler picture but it's a good one, I think. The French movie director Alain Resnais liked it and it was nominated to 4 Oscars that year. I think A. Hepburn, S. MacLaine, Mirian Hopkins are so well as Fay Bainter (nominated). The girl who lies is not well as the girl in the 1936 version but the other girl was well, as in Hitchccock's The Birds. Pardon my poor English. I can read English but I speak and write in a very bad way. I am from Brasil. Portuguese is may language. It was nice to read you. So long.

Dear Luiz:

Although the writer, Lillian Hellman, had to be a lot more vague about the lesbian relationship in the 1936 version, "These Three," than in the 1961 version, "The Children's Hour," (both directed by William Wyler), the first version is a much better film. Sadly, by 1961 the material seemed very dated and it no longer seemed believable or relevant. "These Three" is a very adult, intelligent film for 1936; "The Children's Hour" is dusty old material for 1961. And even though I really like Veronica Cartwright as the little girl in the remake (she was in "The Birds" and later, "Alien"), I think Bonita Granville is better in the original.

Greetings to Brazil.

Josh

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

Dear Josh,

Thanks a lot for telling me about those boxing stories and your favorite boxers. A lot of those top-notch boxers are really talented. Anyway, very interesting about boxing Bruce's macho brother Don, I guess this means Bruce is bigger and stronger than him? I thought it was more boxing skill than strength but I guess maybe you and Bruce weren't in the same weight class? Bruce weighs around 180 right? I think that's what was given for Ash on the fansites (6'1", 180 pounds).

Also I was going to ask, what do you think of the TV series The Prisoner? That was so awesome I thought and I really like the message too. There are some good boxing scenes in it, if you are interested I will point out the episodes for you.

Thanks,

John

Dear John:

You are persistent, I like that in a person. It was just fun watching Zab Judah take the title from Corey Spinks in his own home town, St Louis, in a sold-out auditorium of 22,000 people, after the silliest, longest entrance yet (rapper Nellie [Nelly] came out with him rapping some unintelligible gibberish while Corey danced). Meanwhile, I liked "The Prisoner" a lot when it first aired and I was nine or ten years old.

Josh

Name: Dana L. Estes
E-mail: evil_dead_chick76@hotmail.com

Mr. Becker,

Hi! I have been a fan of your work since the days of Lunatics and Thou shalt Not Kill Except.. I can appreciate your sincereity to independent films and your refusal to bow down to the entity that is Hollywood. Which is why I would like to do an interview with you for my fanzine, Blood Type. If you are interested, I can send you a set of questions to be answered at your leisure. Thank you for your time and good luck with future projects.
Sincerely,
Dana L. Estes
Blood Type Magazine

Dear Dana:

Sure, send the questions.

Josh

Name: Bob
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

Did you like Jack of All Trades? How about Cleopatra 2525? As for me, I thought JOAT was a good concept and that Bruce C. did a great job as Jack, but that the episodes became childish and silly after the first few. As for Cleo, I always was disturbed by it. It gave me headaches or neuralgia or something. Why did Rob Tapert go ahead with these shows? Did he think they would be successful? Thanks.

Dear Bob:

No, he thought they'd fail, that's why he made them. Of course he thought they would be successful. I like my two episodes of "Jack of all Trades." No, I didn't like "Cleo 2525," but I have my own reasons. The show is based on an old science fiction story that I read as a young kid and loved, called"Tumithak of the Corridors" by Charles R. Tanner (which is in Isaac Asimov's collection "Before the Golden Age, Book 1"). About 20 years ago Rob Tapert offhandedly remarked that "Everything good that's ever been written has been made into a movie." I laughed and said, "Only a person who doesn't read very much could say that," then I reached into the bookshelf next to him and handed him the book with "Tumithak" in it and told him to read it. Rob read the story and said, "Yeah, that is a good story, and it would make a good movie." Dissolve and five or six years go by. Rob asks, "Whatever happened to that "Thumbelina of the Hallways' story?" I said, "It was written in 1932, then 60 years later you read it." "Can you send me a copy of it?" "Sure." So I did, and Rob called back saying, "Hey, that's a good story, it would make a cool movie." I replied, "Yeah, it would." Dissolve five or six more years. Rob calls me up, "Hey, whatever happened to that 'Thumbelina' story?" "Tumithak," I corrected, "and what would have happened to it between then and now?" Rob said, "Send me a copy." I did, he read it, blah, blah, blah, and at some point it became Cleo, but in a highly altered state. The young warrior Tumithak had somehow become three stupid girls, and everything good about the story was left out. I personally found the show unwatchable.

Josh

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

Josh

Re: The Simpsons ('I'm Canadian, they think I'm slow, eh?')

Any idea why Americans like to take the piss out of Canadians like myself? I find few actually know anything of value about my country, but feel free to jump in there and tease. It's alright, though..the Simpsons do it. Now if i could just stop the Irish!

bg

Dear Brett:

Now, come on, in this case it was "French-Canadian" and you dropped the French part. And what's being made fun of is the French-Canadian accent, like Celine Dion, for instance, who might be a rocket scientist in her spare time, but to us knuckleheaded Americans she sounds dumb.

Josh

Name: April
E-mail: radieuxcanteur@juno.com

Dear Josh:

I can't rememeber if I've written to you yet or not. I've read the conversation and fight with Rick several times. (Academy Awards post script) It so exactly represents my uncle. Thank you. I appreciate you writing it, I missed him.
April

Dear April:

I miss my friend Rick. It will be ten years this year since he died. I could get Rick mad by just saying I liked Kirk Douglas, who he hated. Or that I didn't like Tom Cruise, who he loved. The last movie he and I saw together was "The Bridges of Madison County," which neither of us liked. Rick always went through a whole routine before a movie cleaning his glasses. However, at that point he was so sick, and nearly blind, that his glasses were filthy and he didn't even know it. Maybe six months later, when he was in a coma in the hospice, was just about to die and he hadn't opened his eyes or spoken a word in weeks, there were several of his friends in the room talking. Suddenly, Rick opened his eyes and asked like he he'd stopped paying attention to the conversation for about a minute, "The Magnificent Ambersons?" We all looked at him in surprise. Nobody had mentioned it. Someone asked, "What about 'The Magnificent Ambersons'?" But he had relapsed into his coma. Those were the last words I ever heard him say, which I think was impressive for such a movie fan. He and I both loved that movie.

Josh

Name: Tom
E-mail: bellyoptopus@yahoo.com

Dear Josh:

Religion's are naughty!!! We should drag all those irrational religious folk's out for a public spankin'. It might take a few hundred years to catch them all though!!!

Just injecting some dumb humor here!

Your website is always entertaining! I enjoy your films, essays, critiques & such! I hope you get the chance to get to make "The Horribleness", Good Luck!!!

Dear Tom:

Your tape of "Hammer" will go out today or tomorrow. Let me know when you get it and what you think?

Josh

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

Hi Josh

Just a few quick questions:

1. Have you seen any of Francois Ozon's early shorts? (They're in a DVD set called X2000 now). He's a French, nouvelle new wave director who recently did 8 Femmes and Swimming Pool - neither of which I've seen.

2. What's your favorite Simpsons episode? I've always boiled it down to structure and great jokes, so I'd vote for the episode where the family moves to Cyprus Creek and meets Hank Scorpio (Albert Brooks).

-bg-

P.S. On a sidenote to #2, who would you say is the better long-time guest voice, Kelsey Grammar (Sideshow Bob) or Joe Montegna (Fat Tony Williams)

Dear Brett:

No, I haven't seen Francois Ozon's shorts or features. There are so many Simpson's episodes at this point, and so many of them are good, I'd have trouble picking a favorite. What's sort of interesting is that now that I pick them up on TiVo it actually gives the episode's titles, which aren't listed on the eps themselves. I just saw again "King-Sized Homer," where he puts on 61 pounds so he can work at home. He goes to the movies and when he gets back the nuclear plant is about melt down, so he grabs the phone and tries to dial, but his fingers are now too fat to push a single button. A recording comes on saying, "I'm sorry, your fingers are too fat to dial the telephone. Please use your entire palm to squash all of the buttons at once." I particularly like the episode when Lisa becomes a vegetarian; the one where Lisa gets a pony and Homer has to work all night at the Qwicky Mart to afford it. I don't know, there are a lot I like. The Hank Scorpio ep is good one, too. That's where it turns out Bart can't read, so he's sent to the Step-up Program, with all the retards and idiots ("I fell of the monkey bars and woke up here," "I'm French-Canadian and they think I'm slow, eh"), and they play musical chairs with more chairs than kids ("That way everyone wins"). I don't want to pick favorites.

Josh


BACK TO Main Archive Page

BACK TO Current Q&A




Click Here To Submit Your Questions or Comments



BECKERFILMS SITE MENU

[ Main ]  [ Film & TV Work ]  [ Screenplays ]  [ Old Stuff ]
[
Reviews ]  [ Articles, Essays & Stories ]  [ Ask the Director ] 
[
Favorite Films ]  [ Scrapbook ]  [ Links (& Afterword) ]  [ Web Team ]

This site is the property of Josh Becker Copyright © 2005 Panoramic Pictures, All Rights Reserved.
Panoramic Pictures Logo