Q & A    Archive
Page 136

Name: Tim
E-mail: nansemondnative@wmconnect.com

Mr. Becker,

No need to apologize to me.Your the man.I'm a fan.You had a vision for a flick and then had the cahones to see it through making numerous sacrifices along the way I'm sure.I enjoyed it immensely. In fact, the tunnel scene I had talked about yesterday took on a new view for me today. It reminded me of the opening credits...The way they were like hands on a clock. Hands on a clock and circular clock like movements in the tunnel.I might be wrong about that it is just my perception of it.

I'm just someone who analyzes movies frame by frame to learn from them and I catch things sometimes.I saw the same thing in the Evil Dead and quite a few other movies. Shit happens Mr.Becker. It serves to show me that we are all human. I identified with it because I have done it so many times and didn't realize I did it until after the fact.It goes right into your brain and makes you more aware of trying to not do it in the future. I've yet to meet anybody perfect though except for my girlfriend.

One observation and I'll go ahead and get out of here.

I'm sure that it doesn't hurt knowing someone in the film business. I'm sure that most of the people in the business got there by graduating from the school of hard knocks and experiencing tough love.

Knowing someone may even get you in the door but there is no way that anybody will ever convince me at this point in my life that it will keep you there.

If you don't have what it takes then somebody is going to eventually figure you out and out the door you go. That applies to the film business and every other business in the world.

Just from a realistic point of view no one should unrealistically expect to be handed a golden doorknob to Hollywood or otherwise. There is no way that anybody who has took ass whippings for years to get where they are at is going to do it. No...They want you to get the same ass whippings to build your character and you will appreciate it all the more if you do get in and then manage to make it.We all are, to a big degree, responsible for our own successes and our own failures.

Learning from it is what seperates the men from the boys though.

That might be old fashioned to some and maybe not too popular a train of thought but better old fashioned than to walk around in La-La land thinking Jack's Beanstalk seeds are the real McCoy.

Have good 4th Mr. Becker.

Tim

Dear Tim:

My buddy and I have a theory about how most young filmmakers view coming to Hollywood. They all think that at the agricultural checkpoint at the border of the state that they will be handed their studio contract. "Have you got any fruit or vegetables in your car? And would like to work for Paramount or Universal?"

Josh

Name: David Brine
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

A few years ago you wrote a very glowing review of "The Sixth Sense"; do you still feel the same way about the movie? In your review you talked about wanting to see it again, so did you? Let us know what you think of it today.

Dear David:

I did see it a second time, and now I never need to see it again, or at least not for about five years. But for a tricky movie it worked great the first time. The problem with movies with tricky plots is that there's nothing there but the trick, and once you know it, you know it.

Josh

Name: Danielle
E-mail: silverseed72@hotmail.com

Dear Josh:

I just read a previous question regarding Italian neo-realist films and it made me think of the hilarious BIG DEAL ON MADONNA STREET. It's not of the neo-realist vein but it pokes good-hearted fun at the genre --- as well as classic heist films such as RIFIFI. I'm not sure if you'd enjoy it, Josh, but I highly recommend it.

As for true-blue neo-realist movies, UMBERTO D. is another favorite. Maudlin perhaps, but it worked for me.

Dear Danielle:

I must confess that I found both "Rififi" and "Umberto D." boring. Regarding Jules Dassin, over "Rififi" I'll take: "Brute Force," "Thieves' Highway" and "Never on Sunday." I haven't seen "Big Deal on Madonna Street."

Josh

Name: Keith
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

Have you seen Pier Pasolini's Salo and if so, what do you think of it? Does it have any redeeming value or is it just garbage?

Dear Keith:

I've seen a few of Pasolini's films, "The Decameron" and "Canterbury Tales," and I just hated them. Sloppy filmmaking, crappy photography, bad acting. Not for me.

Josh

Name: james williams jr
E-mail: jameswllmsjr@yahoo.com

Dear Josh:

I've got a question or two or a few. I've been having a hard time breaking into the business and the harder I try the harder it gets. I was wondering if you could help if a send you a sample of some of the things that I can do. my home address is 512 Rougemont Ave Charlottesville Va. 22902 and my home Phone number is (434) 296- 9602. I a curently working on my fifth film and I need just a lot of help getting my foot in the door so please get back with me and leave me a real mailing address so that I can send you my finish project when we are done filming. thank you for hearing me out and my name is James Williams Jr. Be seeing you!

Dear james:

I wish you all the luck in the world, but I can't help you get your foot in the door. Everybody has trouble breaking into the film business, and that's the hurdle you must leap. Make a movie that people simply have to pay attention to. Good luck.

Josh

Name: andrea
E-mail: rnrhoney@yahoo.com

Dear Josh:

Uhhhh...actually Almost Famous does show scenes where we are led to believe that the groupies slept with the musicians........what movie were you watching? good flick

Dear andrea:

"We are led to believe"? Groupies fucked rock stars, that was their entire purpose on the planet. Rock stars took every drug available, all the time. "Almost Famous" is whitewashed history, about a phony band and utterly false groupies. Bad flick.

Josh

Name: Tim
E-mail: nansemondnative@wmconnect.com

Good Afternoon Mr.Becker.

I just saw your film "Running Time" and I found it to be unique in that it had that long lost love interest thrown in it almost right from the start.

Maybe the whole film was about those two getting back together after all those years and enduring all those trials and tribulations by themselves.

It might have been about Bruce getting out of jail, hooking up with some troublemakers to pull the thing off and everything that could go wrong did.It was like Murphy's Law at it's best.

I'm guessing that the resolution was Bruce deciding to hell with it I've had enough of this life and these losers...I've got this hottie here and we're gonna take off and make a new life together and that means leaving that damn Varsity jacket behind baby.

Maybe that wasn't the resolution I just feel that it possibly could have been. I've only watched it the one time a little while ago.I'll spend the next week or two dissecting it frame by frame and word by word in my free time. Then I'll dissect it again. I am analytical to a fault and sometimes the actual point will go right over my head. Feedback would be greatly appreciated and I'm not afraid to take an ass-kicking on anything.

You employed so many elements in that film and it was just crazy enough to me to think it could be happening in Los Angeles right this very minute. We are our own worst enemy after all and that movie drove it home but did give us that glimmer of hope that those two were ready to sacrifice everything to start over.I guess neither one of them really had anything to lose though.I thought it was a pretty cool flick Josh.

That camera work was awesome too. It was the way the camera kept moving all the time. Those 360 degree spins in the tunnel were pretty wild too. The girlfriend hated that part and wouldn't ya know...I loved it.

I loved it when the squib went off when Bruce was shot and a dab of blood got on the camera lens. It just lent it this surreal quality that takes it over the top.

Reflections in glass are the enemy though and not just for you but for anybody.

When Bruce hooks up with his boy that just drove up in the step-van at the beginning of the movie the camera follows them to the van. That van was super shiny but I saw nothing until we take the audience towards the front of the van following the actor. There is a small section of glass on the lower right that we can see the camera operator's reflection in. He has on a hat and is wearing headphones. I hate when that happens. It has happened to me on water before ,at the zoo,at the family reunions and inside the car.The polarizer helps with some of that but I tell you I really kick myself when I catch myself in the shot through a reflection. Shadows can be a real pain the ass too.However,I love the learning aspect of it Josh. I love the challenge of it.

The mention of the reflection is not my effort to crap on the movie though Josh and I don't want to send that message.I found it enjoyable and it was presented in a form excellent to learn from. It was just an observation and my long-winded commentary on it.

Thanks again for your feedback in the past and I look forward to catching your other films.

Briefly on the film "Intruder"...Old grocery stores have neat nooks and crannies to hide in and stock generic white label beer.Kids will drink that generic white label beer.Chicks from the 80's were and still are cool but very victimized. Mr.Sam Raimi can be seen hanging around in a couple of scenes,one can lose their head to an electric meat saw if not careful, half of one's face will be ripped off and an unbelievable amount of blood will explode onto the hydraulics of a trash compactor if one is not a good wrestler and can escape from such situations,jealous psychopathic ex-boyfriends are not cool, never trust the boss to do the right thing, Bruce will bust you during a cameo appearance and finally...The ending is a real scream.

My take on the movie is not meant to offend anyone nor is it a shot at anybody. It is my opinion only.

Have a good weekend Mr. Becker.

Tim

Dear Tim:

"Intruder" sounds just like "Night Crew." Sorry about the crew shots in RT, but something's gotta suffer at that budget.

Josh

Name: Darren Fripp
E-mail: noonelikesus@gmail.com

Dear Sir,

My name is Darren Fripp, i'm from the UK and I was hoping you might be able to help me. I'm looking to get hold of a treatment for the film "Girl, Interrupted" and I don't know where to start. You seem to write a few and I was wondering if you might be able to help me out with this?

Regards,
D. Fripp

Dear Darren:

Are you related to Robert? If so, give him my best. I can only suggest seeing if there are any websites dedicated to the film. Wouldn't be something like, 'Cuckoo's Nest' with girls?

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

You wrote: "We would all be safer, not to mention we'd save billions of dollars, if when Arab males are taking commercial flights they had to go through a seperate line, but it would be politically incorrect and people would go nuts."

Well, I'd agree that people would go nuts, and probably because it's a politically incorrect thing to do, but that's not actually the reason it shouldn't be done.

The main reason to fight less effectively than one can is because the principles in place (which need to be upheld) can be eroded by minor actions just as easily as major ones. If/When we start removing civil rights, then less savory members of our country salivate because they can use that lack of a right now as a tool towards their agenda.

If we validate the claim that Arabs are different than everyone else, that's intentional segregation based on skin color. Let's say the regime shifts, and we end up with (and we're not far from it now) Ku Klux Klan members in the White House and Congress. Now let's say they use the precedent of segragation to start forwarding their agenda.

You see where I'm going with this? Basically, when you say "let's put Arabs in a line because it's convenient for our current needs." and people start to agree, it becomes a tool that political individuals with their own agenda can now use against you at a later time. That's the whole premise behind the checks and balances system we've got going. The system, the Constitution, and the laws and rights we have are expressly there to protect the minority from the oppression of the majority.

Not that they're doing a great job right now, but it's better than in most other countries.

Frankly, people in our country die for their rights all the time, and I wouldn't have it any other way. 9/11 was a small price to pay for not living in a Totalitarian state where that never would've occurred, because security would've been better.

Dear Matt:

I didn't mean to suggest that that's how it should be, but that's the reality of situation. When Ray Charles got pulled aside and bodily searched at an airport, who are we kidding? Because some dufus tried to make his shoe into a bomb, that didn't go off, now we all have to take off our shoes when going through security? Because some idiot took too much ephedrine, now you can't buy it. I'm not trying to take away anyone's rights, I just don't want mine eroded away, as they blatantly are.

Josh

Name: Pablo
E-mail: pablocampbell2@hotmail.com

Dear Josh:

MY name is Pablo,I am fan of Bruce Campbell. I'm spain,isn't inglis,but write at my messenger,please.

Dear Pablo:

You said it, buddy.

Josh

Name: Dave
E-mail:

Josh,

Have you seen House of 1000 corpses? If so, what did you think? What about One Hour Photo?

Dear Dave:

I haven't seen "House of 1,000 Corpses," there's a review posted of "One Hour Photo."

Josh

Name: KS
E-mail:

Hey Josh... thought you might be interested in reading this....

"George Lucas has predicted the imminent demise of big-budget epics like the Star Wars and Indiana Jones movies with which he is associated. The online edition of Wired magazine quotes him as saying, "The big tent-pole movies will be the first victim of the rapid technological changes we're seeing now. ... We're just not going to see those being made anymore." > Internet piracy was one of the factors influencing change, Lucas observed. "Why pay for something when you can get it for free on opening day? ... If they don't solve this problem of how to sell over the internet, the business is going to shrink, and what's produced will be more like TV movies. They'll be low budget, and there won't be as many of them." Another factor, he said, was the growth of home entertainment systems. "There is a difference between how you make things for big screen and small screen," he said. "When you're designing for DVD, you tend to end up with more close-ups, and your wide shots aren't so wide. I don't subscribe to that stylistic shift, but a lot of kids making movies now grew up on TV and DVDs -- not films in theaters -- so that's how they make movies."

Kinda bodes well... although movies won't get better till the scripts do. I thought you might be interested because of that essay you were writing.

Dear KS:

Just because George Lucas says it doesn't make it true. If cholera swept through Hollywood and killed everyone, then all new people took over, maybe. As long as all the biggest-moneymakers cost over $100 million, Hollywood will keep making big-budget epics.

Josh

Name: Christine Parker
E-mail: cparker@seconddeath.com

Dear Josh:

I read your frequently asked questions. My god! Do people really ask you such lame ass questions and do they really word them just like that or did you make those up so you could floor us all with your witty responses? Really I laughed my ass off. Thanks, I needed that!

Christine

Dear Christine:

I just answer the the questions, I don't make them up, too. I'm glad you enjoyed reading them.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

Just a comment to possibly save one of your readers some time & money: Vincent Gallo's "Brown Bunny" is the most self-indulgent piece crap ever to make it into theatres. The "shocking" part referred to is the last scene, in which Chloe Sevigny's character gives Gallo's a blow-job. It's shown in C.U. and she either really gave her director/co-star a B.J., or they had a really good prosthetic schlong. If you're looking for shocking, just rent a porno. As one example of the tediousness of the film, there's one scene of his van travelling down the highway,(actually, that's 80% of the movie: him driving his van on the freeway, but I'm referring to one particular shot,) there's a rock song playing on the soundtrack, and the van finally exits frame, but the shot holds on empty highway as the song continues, then the song ends but the shot continues holding on empty highway in silence for another 30 seconds or so!
Roger Ebert called the work-in-progress shown at Cannes the single worst film he'd ever seen, but after Gallo put a curse on Ebert's colon, Roger recanted and said the final cut wasn't the very worst he'd ever seen. Gallo can curse me all he wants: I say his film is utterly pointless, ego-driven scum, I've seen more interesting film on my teeth in the morning. Sorry to belabor this, but I've lost that 90 minutes of my life forever, and I'd like to save any unsuspecting filmfans from suffering the same. (BTW ~ "Buffalo '66" was boring, as well as badly directed, but it did at least have some good performances... Hey, wait, now I do have a question for you: Do you think it's possible for an actor to give a "good" performance from a bad script,when the script has given them little or no charecterization?) Anyway, thanks for letting me vent, and remember: "Brown Bunny" ~ worst ever!

Dear Raoul:

Okay, I'll steer clear. Yes, I think an actor can give a good performance with a bad script. Take "The Deer Hunter" as an example. I think everyone in the cast is very good, but the script stinks.

Josh

Name: Mike
E-mail:

Hey Josh,

What do you think of the Italian neo-realist body of work? I've seen several films in that vein and almost all of them drove me nuts - long, unfocused narrative, little plot, frequently lacking in character develeopment, etc. "La Dolce Vita" was okay, but stuff like "L'Avventura" was maddening. Do you think they have value in and of themselves? Are they more worthwhile when viewed as in a more film history kind of context? Are they unredemable tripe?

That's it! Keep up the good work...

Aus!

Mike

Dear Mike:

Those aren't really neo-realist films you mentioned. The very first neo-realist film was Luchino Visconti's "Ossesione," made in 1942 during WWII and based on James M. Cain's book, "The Postman Always Rings Twice," and I think it's really terrific. It's actually the best version of the book, and I quite like the Lana Turner-John Garfield version. I also really like Vittoria DeSica's "The Bicycle Thief" (1947), which is a very powerful film, and a great example of making something out of nothing. The other early, famous neo-realist film is Roberto Rossellini's "Open City" (1945), which was very interesting, but I didn't like it as much. But these films are termed "neo-realist" in that they're all harshly believable stories, shot on location with very little money, no make-up, torn dirty outfits, and an extreme sense of realism, or neo-realism. By the time you get to "La Dolce Vita" in 1959, and "L'Avventura" in 1960, there's nothing neo-realist about the films, they're just artsy-fartsy Italian movies. Admittedly, "La Dolce Vita" and "81/2" are the best of the late '50s, early '60s Italian artsy-fartsy films, but it's an entirely different kind of movie. The reason I don't just write Michelangelo Antonioni off entirely is that I like "Blowup" and "The Passenger," but "L'Avventura" and "L'Eclisse" and "La Notte" and "Red Desert" all seemed like dull, pretentious horseshit that I can completely live without.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

I just wanted to know your opinion on Vincent Gallo? Have you gotten a chance to see Brown Bunny yet and did you ever watch "Buffalo 66". I want to see Buffalo again because I remember when I first watched it years ago I was bored by it. But I have this feeling that just as I gotten older I might have more respect for it. However I have heard that Brown Bunny was supposed to be shocking and that usually means its just plain shock for sake of shock with no substance behind it at all. Although until I see it I can't judge it. So eventually I will check it out.

Your fan,
Jonathan

Dear Jonathan:

I haven't seen either film.

Josh

Name: Darin
E-mail: none

Josh,

I have a few questions about pitching a television show:

How does someone go about getting a pitch session for a television show? Do you just call a production company and ask for an appointment with whoever accepts pitches, or would you have to go through an agent?

Should all material used in a pitch session, scripts, outlines, etc., be copyrighted beforehand?

Do you have any advice from your experiences with pitch sessions?

I appreciate any information you can give me,

Darin

Dear Darin:

To get to anyone who means anything regarding a TV series you must have an agent. Sadly, if you have to ask any of these questions about agents and copyrights you're so far from being in the right place you're just kidding yourself, and that's the ugly truth.

Josh

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

Hi Josh,

Another thought/question on the degredation of modern film. Case in point: Mr. & Mrs. Smith. I probably cant adequately put into words how juvenile, silly, ridiculous and pathetic this film was, but Ill try briefly.

First there is not plot; its all contained in the trailer. Two assassins have a broken marriage, their secret identities are revealed and they must kill each other. Ummm...thats it. There are no plot twists, secrets, or other reveals.

One scene has them driving home so they cant fight in their suburban house at night with machine guns and such. After ten minutes of this silly nonsense of which nobody cares about, they stop to make passionate love. At one point an elderly man in the front yelled: just kill her and get it over with. You know youre film is weak when old men are yelling about how boring it is. Lastly, this film has the single worst ending to a film I've ever seen. They are surrounded by agents who want to take them both out. In a brain-dead rambo style sequence they...you guessed it...kill everyone and escape. To where they dont tell you. Not only is it not and ending because nothing is resolved, but its a cliched, over used one to boot.

The question becomes how low does modern cinema have to go before we either get a revolution or someone wakes up and stops making this kind of crap? Or will the dollar always triumph over substance? Will people stop going to the cinema-recent trends have shown a huge slump with more adults preferring to stay at home to watch movies. Is there any hope at all?

J

Dear joe:

Nothing just keeps going down and down forever, eventually it must rise up again. I don't know when or how, but I think it's inevitable. There's a huge market there -- DVD went up much more than box-office went down -- it's just that presently complete idiots are running the business. This too will change. We all have to take the responsibility into our own hands. That's exactly why I wrote my book: not that I thought I was writing a bestseller, but that the basic storytelling/ filmmaking information that is necessary to possibly make a good film is being lost. If young filmmakers can just get it through their thick skulls that the point of making movies is to tell good stories, hopefully in visually interesting ways, then it will all correct itself.

Josh

Name: KS
E-mail:

"But the bottom line for me is, I don't see or support remakes."

Sorry to be facetious, but isn't one of your favorite films, Ben Hur, a remake?

However, in response to War of the Worlds being a good film, I haven't seen it yet, and I was looking forward to it, but I stumbled across a "10 stupid things about War of the Worlds" thread and it does refute Speilberg being at the top of his game. These are some pretty big gimmies, if you ask me.

Some of the stupid things are: The EMT at the beginning of the movie knocks out everything electrical, including cell phones... but video cameras still work, Every other human being on earth seems to leave their home EXCEPT the people Tom is running to find... and the number one was.... the tripods have been buried in the earth for millions of years yet NO ONE stumbled across one. Ever..... the list had more stuff, that's funnier, but these ones I'd thought you'd be interested in.

Dear KS:

Yes, "Ben-Hur" is a remake. Yes, "The Godfather Part II" and "The Road Warrior" are both sequels. These are the rare, rare, rare exceptions. So yes, only 99.99% of all remakes and sequels suck, not 100%. Good point.

Josh

Name: Ron
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

Just a simple question.

You seem to claim a ton of movies are crap. Fine.

But I want to know what you personally think about 'Alien Apocolypse'. This is your story and your vision. When you sit down and watched it....do you feel you were watching crap, or were you watching quality film making.

Also, you claim to not be able to stand remakes..........but just how many times have Alien invaders taking over the Earth been done now?

A bit of advice, if you're going to put down things being redone, you may want to be a bit more original yourself.

By the way, no offense to Bruce or Renee......they are great, you just didn't give them anything to work with.

Dear Ron:

I'm sorry you didn't like it, but it's not a remake. Obviously aliens coming to Earth is not original, the question is why are they here? The fact that they are giant termites stripping all the wood to export back to their planet is original as far as I know, which puts this film miles ahead of the rest of the crap. As for the production, it was shoddy and cheap and shot in Bulgaria in 17 days. Do you honestly think I watch "Alien Apocalypse" and see "Lawrence of Arabia"? But whatever AA is, or what any of my movies are, makes no difference regarding my opinion of other movies.

Josh

Name: John
E-mail:

Dear Mr. Becker,

Thanks for offering this great question-and-answer service. My question is in reference to something often discussed on this forum: the sorry state of the American movie industry today. I hope you won't mind if I share a few of my thoughts.

Having been born in the early 80s, I grew up on the Spielberg and Lucas popcorn that you understandably deride. For a number of reasons, I have an emotional connection with these films. For better or for worse, they had a large hand in shaping my adolescent cinematic tastes.

Now in my early twenties, I find these tastes in increasingly greater conflict with the knowledge of how deficient those movies, as well as the movies being made today, are in terms of storytelling, which I have come to realize is the only way movies can be elevated beyond mere technical exercises in craft, which is the only thing the movies of today seemed to be concerned with, and become something greater than that: art.

I can only imagine what you think of the moviegoers in my generation, having been weaned off of such poor stories. Luckily, my father is a great admirer of good films, and essentially showed me why the movies he grew up on are so much better than the ones today, why so many of them are indeed works of art.

Here's my dilemma: The films that my father has showed me - The Bridge on the River Kwai, Double Indemnity, Strangers on a Train, The Hustler, etc. - have given me so much pleasure, but the pleasure of going to a new movie for the first time in the theatre with an audience is something that can't be replicated on a TV screen. Yet, very few movies seem to be worth that experience anymore. But, the inevitable conclusion of that realization - stop going to the theatres - fills me with such jealousy, as people in your generation had the opportunity to go see such great films for the very first time in the theatre.

My question is, if you were in my shoes, in my generation, what would you do? I love films, and to divorce them from the experience of going to the theatre would mean that that part of my life is dead. I realize that there are much more important things in life, but as someone who believes in the arts (I have aspirations of being a fiction writer), it's still a very hard realization. Do you think my jealousy and regret is valid?

Thanks for taking the time to read this,

John

Dear John:

I have the same regret. I loved going to the movie theater and seeing great films, and good films, and even bad films. It's what I lived for during the first 30 years of my life. But after about 500 bad movies in a row I began to feel like an idiot. In "The Simpsons" Lisa does a science report entitled, "Which is smarter, a hamster or my brother Bart?" and Bart keeps losing. If you shock a hamster when it goes down a certain path enough times it will stop going down that path. I finally got shocked enough times to stop going down that same path. My movie geek friend Rick arrived at this same place before me, but since he lived in LA he was able to keep going to the movies everyday while also avoiding all Hollywood product, which can be done in LA or NYC. He switched to only documentaries and foreign films. As for me, I stopped going to the movie theater and now strictly watch films on TV. When I do drag my ass out to the theater on the rare occasion now, I don't like it anymore because people simply won't stop talking and since I will definitely tell them to shut up, many times it seems like a fight will start. I don't need the stress. You'll have to come to your own conclusions.

Meanwhile, I just saw a wonderful documentary called "Monster Road," about an animator named Bruce Bickford. Very worthwhile.

Josh

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

"I don't give a shit what Steven Spielberg does. Since I think he's made one good film, "Jaws," which was 30 years ago, the top of his game came and went very quickly. But the bottom line for me is, I don't see or support remakes."

Wow, you're mean. :)

Seriously though, what about Raiders of the Lost Ark? Close Encounters of the Third Kind? Duel? E.T.?

Richard

Dear Richard:

I liked "Duel," but that was a TV movie. I enjoyed the first two acts of "Close Encounters," then it falls completely to pieces. The first half of "E.T." is okay, then it totally goes into the crapper. "Raiders" just seems like homage on top of homage, Indiana Jones is a weak, cliched character, and the film manages to be both dumb and paranoid at the same time. There's certainly a technical proficiency to his films, but they all lack substance, intelligence, irony and wit.

Josh

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

Josh,

Here's a challenge for you: Go see War of the Worlds and come back and tell me that Spielberg is not on top of his game. In this film, he's truly doing what he does best. This is a tense, scary film that has real heart and resonance with our post 9/11 world.

There's not much to mess up from a story standpoint, so I don't see how you could think the script is bad. Aliens attack, Cruise and his family try to survive...period.

Great film. His best in years.

Richard

Dear Richard:

I don't give a shit what Steven Spielberg does. Since I think he's made one good film, "Jaws," which was 30 years ago, the top of his game came and went very quickly. But the bottom line for me is, I don't see or support remakes.

Josh

Name: David Brine
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

I think we both agree that the current studio system has to change for quality movies to return to the mainstream. Do you think bringing back exclusive contracts would help the system at this point? (let's assume for a moment that this is practical, and possible).

I think at this point that ANY change in the current system is probably for the better. If movie ticket sales continue to decline, as they have been all year, then Hollywood producers will have to stop investing so zealously in ridiclous sequels, and maybe we'll get some good films again.

Dear David:

You have a hopeful attitude and that's good. Exclusive contracts will never return so there's no point in even thinking about that, not to mention that most actors hated them. And just because box-office is down, as it has been for a long time, doesn't mean that anything in Hollywood will change for the better. Fear doesn't make anyone act rationally, and the film business runs on fear. But there's no getting rid of the theatrical release, even if they don't make money, because those are the only films that really sell on DVD, which is a booming business right now (as is cable and satellite TV). People want movies more than ever, they're just not terribly interested in going to the movie theater anymore.

Josh

Name: Joey Johnston
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

When was the last time you saw someone smoke a cigarette on the Tonight Show or the Late Show? I remember almost all the guests back on Johnny Carson's and Jack Paar's shows used to smoke routinely, and even drink for that matter. Why must our celebrities be so politically correct? Its pissing me off.

Dear Joey:

I'm sure these shows have rules now, not to mention that there's no smoking in LA or NY, so it's probably illegal to smoke in those studios. You do see the occasional actor smoke on "Inside the Actor's Studio," like Johnny Depp. Meanwhile, Johnny Carson was always smoking during his show and had a cigarette burning just off-camera, which he'd hit just as they went to a commercial. But political correctness has taken over and there's very little we can do about it anymore. Let's face it, all of the billions of dollars being spent on airport security, and all of the time wasted getting through airport security, is entirely about political correctness. 100% of the terrorists have been Arab males, so checking anyone who is not an Arab male is strictly for the sake of PC. We would all be safer, not to mention we'd save billions of dollars, if when Arab males are taking commercial flights they had to go through a seperate line, but it would be politically incorrect and people would go nuts.

Josh

Name: Call Me: Van Wilder
E-mail: iamvanwilder@sbcglobal.net

Hey Josh: Call me Van Wilder. I was just curious about two things:
One:
What does "Directing from the Edge" mean exactly? And Two: Is "Lunatics: A Love Story" being remade big time Hollywood style or is that just a rumor? That would be tres cool. Oh, and in response to the question about Intruder, I think it was awesome, very Raimi-esque, but at the same time totally 100% original. Worth checking out.

Thanks Josh. I appreciate it.

V A N W I L D E R ! ! !

Dear Van Wilder:

I'm not exactly sure what "Directing from the Edge" means. It's the name given to the website by Gerry Kissell, the man who created it. If "Lunatics" is being remade no one told me.

Josh

Name: Matt
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

What's your opinion of director Jean-Luc Godard?

Dear Matt:

I like "Breathless" and that's it. Every other film he's made seems unbearbale to me.

Josh

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

Heya Josh,

Firstly, good luck with your book. I'm retooling the novella I just wrote, and I'm working on a short horror piece-though the kind of horror I prefer writing is stuff based in a real world environment. I could care less about zombies, vampires, and crap like that. I'm looking around for places that buy novellas, but it's not been easy. Oddly, short stories and novels seem to be less difficult sells than novellas, but whatever. Maybe I'll have to expand the thing into a novel. We'll see.

Anyway, here's two questions for you:

1)What screenplays would you recommend people read to get a good idea of how a screenplay should be written? I own a copy of Oliver Stone's JFK, and it's a great script to read.

2) What do you think of John Sales?

Have a good summer.

Saul

Dear Saul:

Yeah, a novella is an in-between genre, like the novelette (and the little-known novelinni, or noveletto). Since a short story can get up to 25-odd pages, perhaps a bit of condensation might be the way to go. I've got the script of "The Great Escape," attributed solely to James Clavell, although the movie is credited to W. R. Burnett and James Clavell, and it's great. I've also got "Lawrence of Arabia" by Robert Bolt, and it's fascinating, but not very easy to read. I had David Peoples' script for "Unforgiven," which is terrific, but I don't know where it went. Regarding John Sayles, I was interested in him back at the beginning of his career, when he wrote "Alligator" and "The Lady in Red" and "Wild Thing," and then directed "The Return of the Seacacus Seven." But with each succeeding film I've grown less and less interested in him. I walked out of his last film, whatever the hell it was called with Chris Cooper, and I bailed on the Los Babys thing, too. I don't think he has any stories to tell anymore.

Josh

Name: kdn
E-mail: jericho_legends

Dear Josh:

Okay, here's question. The magic of film is that, as Steve Martin says in GRAND CANYON, all of life's answers are in the movies. In other words, no matter what problem you have, an avid movie watcher is destined to see it performed onscreen.

What are some of the coincedences in the movie that have reminded you of your or your family and friends lives?

The other day I just saw my friend who came back from Iraq. All his friends that left the base were dying so he never left his office or quarters the whole time he was there. He was married right before he left to Iraq. When I finally met him and his wife, he looked like he was having trouble adjusting and upset about his marriage or something but first looks can be deceiving. Anyways, at the time, it creepily reminded me of THE BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES, where Virginia Mayo is spending her husband's military paycheck on clubs and fun, but once he comes home, they don't get along.

I feel like Paul Muni in I AM A FUGITIVE FROM A CHAIN GANG. Everybody is bugging the shit out of me to work a retail job I hate for the rest of my life, but I can't take the repetition. Anyways, my addiction to movies might actually get me landed in jail for six months if I can't get that ticket paid off.

This is really sitcom, I just found out my two first cousins went to visit a Greek Island right now, and everybody on the island thinks that they are two actresses from THE YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS (despite they "claim" they're not), and they've been showered with over $2,000 in gifts, plus hotel rooms, free room service, sailboat rides, this is fucking nuts. I'm waiting to see if this hits IMDB. I feel sorry for the people when they find out they've been gypped. I hope it doesn't turn into ZORBA THE GREEK with throats being slit.

Just because its true doesn't mean its believable... or a good movie.

Dear Kevin:

Taking a job in retail is not a lifetime decision. A knuckleheaded job that I rather enjoyed was being a process server. It paid pretty well -- I was getting $25 a case, plus mileage, and I often had three or four cases a day -- I was generally done before noon, and it was non-repetitive. You mainly file cases with various courthouses, but you also get to serve the occasional subpoena which always freaks people out. Regarding your question, it doesn't spark anything. I do love the scene in "Best Years" where Virginia Mayo is playing with the scarf in the mirror, making a babushka, then a bikini top out of it. She's high on the list of characters from movies I'd love to bitch-slap. I also love when the determined Theresa Wright tells her parents, "I'm going to break up that marriage!" How often do you hear that?

Josh

Name: jimj
E-mail: jimj23@aol.com

Hey Josh,

Read the site every week, great stuff. A person asked about the director Scott Spiegel, who you've collaborated with...you worked with him on so much it seems like, how is it possible that you haven't seen any of his work? What about his first movie Intruder? I haven't seen it but internet fans seem to like it. Do you?

Dear jimj:

I haven't seen "Intruder." I worked on the super-8 version, "Night Crew."

Josh

Name: David Brine
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

Have you seen the Norwegian film "Insomnia"? In the reviews I've read people discuss it as a "modern" noir film. But its a color movie; isn't that a contradiction, a color film being considered "noir"?

What good b&w films have you seen lately?

Dear David:

Yes, I saw it. I saw the Hollywood remake, too. Both of them were okay, although I actually liked the remake better because of Al Pacino. I don't think a film noir has to be at night, it just has to be emotionally and psychologically dark. I haven't seen any good b&w movies lately.

Josh

Name: David
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

Just curious as to why Renee wasn't involved in the 'AA' commentary with you and Bruce. I read earier that you were supposed to do the commentary with Bruce and Renee.

That sucks that she wasn't involved.

David

Dear David:

I think she was busy. Bruce and I had a swell time doing the commentary, and I think it turned out pretty well.

Josh

Name: Dervid
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

Have you seen LAND OF THE DEAD yet? George Romero has finally made another masterpiece. The film totally rips into the Bush administration and America's 9/11 attitude. You should check it out. It's one of the best films I've seen in a long time.

Dear Dervid:

Although I liked "Night of the Living Dead," I can really live without every other Romero film. I've already heard this film isn't as good as "Dawn of the Dead," which I hated and found utterly boring, so I won't be dashing out to see it. But I'm glad you enjoyed it.

Josh

Name: KS
E-mail:

Heya Josh.

You don't like comic books as they are anti stories. So what do you think of pulp fiction? Stuff like The Shadow or Doctor Strange?

Dear KS:

Wasn't "The Shadow" originally a comic book (then a radio show)? I don't know from Dr. Strange. The only sort of pulps I ever read were sci-fi, and those were good.

Josh

Name: d-bomb
E-mail: grubinov@usc.edu

Dear Josh:

Heya Josh, longtime reader, first time writer. After checking out many of your screenplays I decided to investegate the career of your frequent co-writer Scott Spegel--it's pretty wild. Any thoughts on Dusk Till Dawn 2 or his directing style? And when are you guys going to collabarate again??

Dear d-bomb:

I doubt if Scott and I will ever collaborate again. We haven't even seen each other in many years. Actually, the last time I saw Scott was in "Spider-Man 2" (he's the guy with the pizza on the balcony at the beginning). I have no thoughts on his directing style.

Josh

Name: Danielle
E-mail: silverseed72@hotmail.com

Hi Josh,

Would you happen to know if it's true that b/w 35mm is now more expensive to shoot than color 35mm? Director Jim Jarmusch mentioned this fact when discussing his film DEAD MAN.

Hope this question hasn't already been asked. Thanks.

Dear Danielle:

I have no doubt that it is. Black & white stock is more money because it has silver in it, and the processing is more money because they don't do much of it anymore. Black & white film stock is a specialty order now, 35mm or 16mm. You can't just call up Kodak and expect them to have it on hand, they need a couple of weeks to get it.

Josh

Name: James Magillo
E-mail: jmagillo@icast.net

Josh,

Off the film topic but I'd like to know how you are holding up in this the second term of the Bush Administration.

Thanks for a very informative site.

Dear James:

Bush winning reelection was so distressing to me that I literally shut down that part of mind. However, six months down the road I can't shut it out anymore. I just signed the Downing Street memo petition (and the Don't-Shut-Down-NPR petition, both at MoveOn.org), and I've very recently written twice to MI Rep. John Conyers, who led the "forum" in the Capitol on the memo, asking if he himself intends to introduce impeachments proceedings on the Senate floor? The evidence is clear, impeachment is the next step. That's what I think.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

I see that your book has been taken from the front page and despite the fact it's not longer going to be free I am very happy about that. 1)It's great that it's finally going to get published after you worked so hard writing it, 2)It's going to be wonderful to actually own it so I can carry it around with me(I could have printed it out, but that would have been really exspensive ink wise).

I will definately pick up a copy once they are available. Any idea when the realease date will be?

Anyway, I can't remember if I ever wrote in and told you what I thought of "Alien Apocalypse"...so I will now, it was a great movie, way above the shit SciFi usually cranks out, and I really enjoyed it.

Also, have you seen "Man With the Screaming Brain" yet? If so, what are your thoughts?

Later.

ps-I'll be showing by friend "Running Time" when he returns from Hawaii in 2 weeks, before he left I showed him "Citizen Kane" and he loved it(We decided that on one night, each with for the entire summer I will venture to his house and show him movies that I believe are really good). As I was leaving his house I mentioned "Running Time" and how it was as if it was one continuous shot and I explained to him the whole concept behind the movie. He's really interested in seeing it now and since I know you enjoy hearing feedback I'll be sure to let him know what you think. The week after "Running Time" I will be showing him either "The Godfather" or "Lawrence of Arabia".

Dear Trey:

No, I haven't seen "Screaming Brain" yet. I could have attended a rough-cut screening, but I opted to wait until it was finished. I was glancing at the comic books last night which my friend Paul brought over, and they sure don't look like Bruce, even though he has such an easy face to caricature. Yes, we took the book down once I signed the contracts with the publisher. No, I don't know the release date yet. I hope your friend likes RT, although jamming it between "Citizen Kane," "The Godfather" and "Lawrence of Arabia" probably won't help it.

Josh

Name: Duffy
E-mail: g_duffy@bellsouth.net

Josh, why did you have to go and say that? Killjoy. But dangit you're most likely right. I tell you what though I'm not touching that thing again until a producer type guy tells me to fix act one scene three or asks me exactly how my character should kick her enemy's butt. Or hands me a check then I'll touch that script like it's never been touched before. Sage words from you as usual, kind of depressing but sage. Thanks, Duffy

Dear Duffy:

Sadly, yours is the wrong attitude. Since you can be fairly certain that 1st drafts aren't very good, why would anyone offer you anything until it is good? It's your job to make it as good as possible so that some producer type might be interested in giving you some money. Learning how to go back over and improve your script is as important as all the rest. Only amateurs think they're done after one draft, and they never sell anything. A key piece of information about screenwriting is, just because you wrote it doesn't make it good. Writing a good script is MUCH harder than just writing a script. I didn't write anything that was worth a shit until my fifth script.

Josh

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

Hey Josh,

"There's the old One-Gimme rule in storytelling, meaning you can ask the audience to go with you anywhere once -- back in time, forward in time, to a galaxy far, far away, whatever -- but if you ask for more than one gimme, it's a bad story."

I gotta step in here because Im not only a comic book fan but a fan of Chris Nolan the director of Batman begins (also, memento).

The one-gimme theory makes sense but I think where your logic breaks down is that what it really means is one coincidence is ok, after that you get bad storytelling. But if the world created by the story has people of superpowers than coincidences in cause and effect storytelling and exerting superpowers in said world are not the same thing.

If Batman is stopping for a cheeseburger and happens to witness Joker committing a crime, thats a coincidence. But ok we can deal with this one. But if Batman then flies off a building, uses a bunch of cool toys and subdues joker ninja-style--this isnt the film asking us to suspend disbelief its the world this character lives in.

But if later Batman bumps into an old friend who knows exactly where joker has escaped to, then yeah thats too many gimmes and bad storytelling.

Dear joe:

A gimme is not necessarily a coincidence; it could be, but it doesn't have to be. The reason I dislike the genre of comics, and I contend that they're anti-stories, is that the endless need for gimmes is built right into the genre. It's not enough that there's some nut running around in a unitard trying to right society's wrongs, there's also coincidentally some evil nut trying to take over the universe. It just seems like we've taken a big step backward in our storytelling abilities. We had progressed to Shakespeare and beyond. But superhero comic books to me are more like ancient Greek mythology, where nothing has to make sense because everybody is a God. A gimme that's not a coincidence in "Spider-Man 2" is when his webs fail him and he falls 50 stories to the ground, then he just gets up and walks away.

Josh

Name: Duffy
E-mail: g_duffy@bellsouth.net

Dear Josh:

To my screenwriting teacher the most kind and awesome Mr. Becker I give a hearty thanks. The script is done, typos banished and action blocks seemingly okay. It reads well and flows like a freaking river. A big cyber hug to you for your assistance and advice. You rock! Without your input I believe I would have resorted to rending my garments, pulling out my hair and running around stark raving mad. Thank you from the bottom of my exhausted heart. Duffy

Dear Duffy:

Remember, writing is rewriting. The only two ends to a screenplay are to shoot it or abandon it, but to think they're ever done is to kid yourself.

Josh

Name: renee
E-mail:

hey josh,

i wrote a while back asking for advice on shooting a sequence with the same passenger inside several different cars. you asked if i would let you know how it all went.

well, i ended up ditching my initial idea, and instead shot plenty of coverage and created transitions from car to car. it all cut together smoothly and maybe it worked out for the better.

but i still wonder whether my one-shot per vehicle idea would have worked. so in a way i feel i chickened out.

anyway, i have another question for you. have you ever experimented with using heat-bars infront of the lens? i think they did this in raging bull. i'm shooting something in a few weeks and imagine this effect would work well to achieve a certain intensity. any experience or advice?

thanks
renee

Dear renee:

I just did that on "Alien Apocalypse," in the first sequence in the desert, which was really a gravel pit. I wanted the impression of a heat haze in the distance, and it sort of looked that way. I think it would have worked better with a longer lens (and we were already on a 200mm, I believe). Anyway, my advice is use the longest lens possible.

Josh

Name: Duffy
E-mail: g_duffy@bellsouth.net

Josh, please have mercy on this frustrated writer and suffer her yet another question. These action blocks may be my undoing or better said the darn pronouns. We already established that yes it is ok to use them where appropriate and we know that the character's names should be caps and underlined when first appearing in the block. Does the same apply to the darn pronoun when it is taking the place of the name? In addition, and you'll get a feel for what I'm writing, if the character name had a speaking part before the block but will appear later only as a corpse does the caps and underlining apply? Having no screenwriting program, I am doing all the formatting freehand and I have to say I am getting sick of fixing it, I want to finish it soon before I hate my characters and their story as well. Help!

Dear Duffy:

I think you're making more out of this than you should. The first time a speaking part appears you capitalize and underline their name, then you never do it again. No, you don't cap or underline anything other than the character's name, and only do it the one time. It doesn't matter if the character dies, then reappears as a corpse, if they had lines they were a speaking role, and even if they now only appear as a corpse they're still a speaking role. Check out some of my scripts to see what they're supposed to look like. Good luck.

Josh

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

Josh,

I've always thought that George Harrison got screwed on "My Sweet Lord"> (after all, what do you do with every 12-bar blues song ever written?), but in the last fifteen years that lawsuit has become for me the height of irony. Studios will now often release a "song" on which no instruments were played; everything is sampled. I think I've heard riffs from various America songs (Horse With No Name, Ventura Highway) at least a dozen times on different "songs" in the past few years. I wonder if Harrison ever reflected on sampling with regard to his lawsuit?

I agree with you about dying-slowly films in general and "Terms Of Endearment" in particular. It's a little odd because I think that movie deaths are generally too quick; guy gets shot in the stomach and dies instantly. But drag-out dying cannot seem to help but make a play for emotions in a gratuitous fashion. I've had to deal with drawn out deaths in real life and they're mostly very quiet, even the bad cancers. There is noise and even talking, but it comes in short spurts. Most of the time there is deafening silence and a paralyzing stillness. All change is bad change and everyone seems to pick up on that pretty quickly. Slow-dying pictures almost never capture that. And even if one did, how could someone bear to sit through it? There's never a point to a long-drawn out death. It's just something that happens and it's just terrible. All the other crap, the confessionals, the epiphanies are just that; crap.

As for Newman, what a great career! He had the best set of eyes of his generation and tremendous selection of roles. He's been almost as good off screen as on, with his product line, his racing and his marriage. Those two give the institution of marriage a good name, as did the Hopes and the Stewarts. May my wife and I be that fortunate.

John

Dear John:

On top of everything else, Paul Newman's a pretty good director, too. I enjoyed the hell out of "Sometimes a Great Notion" (also known as "Never Give an Inch"), which was so poorly released, then pulled, retitled, and poorly rereleased, that no one gave it its due. Henry Fonda is terrific, as is Newman, and it's Richard Jaeckel's best performance ever. I just looked it up and Maltin gives it two stars and called it "disappointing," but I think it's a good movie.

Josh

Name: David Brine
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

What do you think of "Charade"? I thought there were some excellent moments of suspense in there, particularly the elevator scene where the guy cannot get the elevator to stop (3rd pajama death i believe).

Also, do you ever prefer to watch movies that are in color in black & white instead? I watched the first 40 minutes of "Charade" in its technicolor presentation, couldn't stand it (something about the color in many of those early 60s films bugs me), then turned off the color on my tv and viola! Great noir thriller!

Dear David:

I wouldn't do that. If the film was shot in color, then I need to see it in color. If it was shot widescreen, then that's how I must see it. Meanwhile, I like "Charade," it's sort of a silly, lighthearted Hitchcock film. Great supporting cast, with James Coburn, Walter Matthau, George Kennedy and Ned Glass, as well as a wonderful Henry Mancini score. I saw it initally on the 9:00 Movie in probably 1969 or so, when I was 11 or 12, and it really got me. I'm a sucker for Audrey Hepburn.

Josh

Name: mike zenatta
E-mail:

Hi Josh-

I love the films of yours that I've seen and I think that you are providing a terrific public service with this website. I am an aspiring screenwriter and your essays on structure have helped my writing tremendously. Eternal thanks to you for that. My question to you is: What are your thoughts on test screening films for preview audiences? Have you ever test screened any of your films?

Dear mike:

Yes, I have, and I don't like it. I know it's common practise, and has been for a long time, but I think test screenings cause the filmmakers to panic and make changes out of fear, which is bad. Also, I'm just not a fan of showing films before they're completely done. Test screenings generally occur before the film's sound is done, or the proper music is in, or the special effects are in, and to expect your average viewer to understand and compensate is asking too much of them.

Josh

Name: Tim
E-mail: nansemondnative@wmconnect.com

Good Afternoon Mr. Becker.

Thanks again for your input. You knew exactly what I was looking for and I now feel secure in duplicating angles or shots that inspire me as long as they apply to my own original story. I really was worried about that.

I have been told I shoot like Mr. Raimi but not because I am some guy running around thinking I'm all that. Let's face it from a realistic standpoint...I am not even a zit on Mr. Raimi's rearend or yours either.I never will be. But I will be Tim and I learned from watching what you guys have done and then going out and trying to do it.

If my little films look like something he did it's because I have studied his films so much. When I see something I think is off the charts that he, or another director did, I grab the camera and go try it and I keep trying it until I get it.It's pure fun and learning Josh. It took me a long time to get good at that Spielberg shot where you have the lens zoomed in on a stationary subject and then move the camera quickly towards the subject while simultaneously zooming out. I know for sure I saw that in both "Jaws" and "Poltergeist".It was fun learning it and I did it on my own with a Critter doll that belongs to one of the kids right in the backyard.After that I went to real people.

Same with the tilts and unorthodox angles in a lot of Sam's stuff. The only way to learn it is to jump out there in the trenches and do it and pick the brains of those who have been there.

The bottom line for me is that I want to make something special before I curl up my toes and croak.Hopefully somebody might like it. If not,I am secure knowing that I saw it through to the end.Then I'll try again.

Your input has been invaluable and I sincerly hope that you keep this website up for many years to come.

You are on a different level for taking the time to correspond with all the people out here and attempting to teach us something as well.

Next step for me is to study your movies. I expect to learn a lot from them as well.

Have a good evening.

Tim

Dear Tim:

Sam didn't invent Dutch angles. Regarding movies, that honor must go to "The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari" in 1919. The dolly-back-zoom-in schtick was invented by Alfred Hitchcock for "Vertigo," so Spielberg was stealing it for "Jaws" (and putting it to great use). I used it one of my super-8 films. As Michael Caine said in his wonderful acting class video (and I paraphrase), Study your favorite actors, and when you see them do something you like, take it, because I assure you they took it from their favorite actors.

Josh

Name: Bruno Combat Martino
E-mail: brunocombat@yahoo.com.br

Hi, Mr. Becker! I´m brazilian. I just want to say that Lunatics is one of the most beautiful and original movies I´ve ever seen!
Best Wishes!

Dear Bruno:

Thank you very much. Is Combat a real name?

Josh

Name: Jeff
E-mail:

Hey Josh,

I thought of this after I sent the first message in - out of the three movies mentioned, I felt Hud was the strongest. It had such a strong theme that is still so relevant. Sometime you have to do right thing, even if it hurts.

The fact that you(or at least, I did) start out thinking that Newman is the "hero" of the story and it's not until quite far into the movie that you realize, hey, it's actually the kid. And he's been there the whole time!

Also, that Newman takes on a role that's such a bastard is great too. Who would do that nowadays!?! Out of Hud, The Hustler, and Cool Hand Luke which do you think is best? What's your favorite Newman film?
Thanks! jeff

Dear Jeff:

I'd say "Hud" is my favorite Paul Newman film. Nobody could have played that role better than him at that point. By the way, Patricia Neal's character is black in the book. The book, which is very good, is called "Horseman, Pass By," and Larry McMurtry was 19 when he wrote it. McMurtry has had very good luck having his books adapted into films, like: "The Last Picture Show," "Lonesome Dove" and "Terms of Endearment" (which is one of those people-dying-slowly movies I don't like, but it did win Best Picture).

Josh

Name: Jeff
E-mail:

Hey Josh,

I recently watched a few Paul Newman films in a short span of time, Hud, The Hustler, and Cool Hand Luke, and all I can think is Wow. If any actor did just one of those movies I think it would make your career, and he did all of them plus movies like The Sting, Butch Cassidy, etc... It got me thinking. I know we talk about how it sucks to watch movies now, but how much worse must it be to have made amazing movies like those and then, after the seventies, the movies just turn to crap. It's not like his acting talent just went away. No wonder he's just sitting around making salad dressing.
How do you think actors like Newman or Nicholson handle the fact that, like Norma says in Sunset Blvd., "I am big. It's the pictures that got small"?

You know current screen actors, do they feel gypped that they're around now rather than the 60's-70's?
Thanks! jeff

Dear Jeff:

I don't know what other people think. As for Paul Newman, who is 80, he just executive produced and co-starred in HBO's "Empire Falls," which I enjoyed, and actually watched three times, and it's 3 and 1/2 hours long. But it's a real movie, with good parts for actors like himself. Ed Harris and Helen Hunt were both terrific. Paul Newman just has taste and class. "The Verdict" is 1982 and it's a very good movie and he's absolutely great in it. Also check out "Somebody Up There Likes Me," the movie that made him a star. "Hud," "The Hustler" and "Cool Hand Luke" are three of my favorites. Lines from "Hud" come up all the time for me, like, "Better enjoy bein' 17 'cause it wears out in a hurry." Or when Brandon De Wilde is looking at the paperback books in the drugstore, and the clerk asks if he's read "From Here to Eternity," and he says, "It's just about the best book you ever had on this rack." Meanwhile, the whore's name in "From Here to Eternity" was Lorene (played by Donna Reed in the movie), and the whore's name in "Lonsome Dove," also by Larry McMurtry, who wrote "Hud," is also named Lorene (played by Diane Lane in the TV mini-series).

Josh

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

"Really? How could not like a film about a rich guy who dresses up in tights, a cape and an outfit that has the ripples of a washboard stomach built into it, and runs around helping people?"

Come on, Josh. You're smarter than this. How can you berate a movie you haven't even seen? No matter what the genre or subject matter (or your level of interest in it), it's not fair to condescend or put down a film you've not even viewed.

I'm not a comic book or fantasy film lover by any means at all, but my wife and I saw Batman Begins with some friends this past week and loved it. It was smart, well acted, and very entertaining.

If you open your mind a little, you might find quality in the strangest of places. If it's well done, well acted, well-WRITTEN, then it has done it's job. And this film has. It's up to the viewer to decide if they like it or not...after they see it.

BTW - Part of the enjoyment of this film was that it explained exactly WHY someone would dress up in a costume and fight criminals. It had explanations for why the suit looks like it does, why he wears a cape, etc.

Richard

Dear Richard:

You're absolutely right, you can't honestly comment on a film unless you've seen it. Maybe "Batman Begins" is great. To me, though, comic books are anti-stories. There's the old One-Gimme rule in storytelling, meaning you can ask the audience to go with you anywhere once -- back in time, forward in time, to a galaxy far, far away, whatever -- but if you ask for more than one gimme, it's a bad story. It seems to me that comic books ask for a gimme every minute or two, which may not be true for "Batman Begins," but it has been true for every other movie based on a comic book. If I had to choose the genre I like least, it would be a toss-up between comic book movies and people-slowly-dying movies, like "Million Dollar Baby."

Josh

Name: Umberto Andretti
E-mail: umbie_baby@andretti-industries.net

Dear Josh:

Who would you rather work with, Keith David or David Keith?

Dear Umberto:

That's a funny question, but I honestly think that they're both good actors and I would be pleased to work with either one. If I ever made my script "Devil Dogs: The Battle of Belleau Wood," I'd have Keith David play the officer who gets shot in the helmet, and I'd have David Keith narrate the film -- he has a great narration voice.

Josh

Name: Tim
E-mail: nansemondnative@wmconnect.com

Mr. Becker,

Thank you for the response. I am in agreement with your viewpoints on my question.

With that being said...Let's say you have an idea for a story to be turned over to the visual format.

In that presentation there might be camera angles and shots reminescent of films by gone because that's the way you learned but you throw in some original angles and shots to keep the interest up and build the impact.

So if you have shot angles or scenes that are'Beckeresque" or "I saw something similar to that in a Raimi movie" then I have put myself in a position of being possibly labeled a knock-off artist?

Coming up with what might be considered and interesting and original story is a challenge enough in itself.

Do you think just following the feeling of the shots and scenes is the best way to go and then if I get a rock thrown at me for having a scene or two with very familiar angles in it then so be it? As long as that story is new/original and interesting.

I think that the last thing I, or anybody else would want is for the final product to be looked at and have someone say "Oh...You remade The Evil Dead.Great job there Waldo."

So the challenge is to do it and do it right, draw on your inspirations but present them in an original form? An extension of your perceptions and emotions but keeping in stride with the original intent of the movie idea?

Your thoughts please Josh. I promise,I won't ask another question for at least another week.

Have a great day.

Tim

Dear Tim:

Nobody can kid me that they don't know they're stealing when they're stealing. That does happen on rare occasions (like "My Sweet Lord" and "He's So Fine"), but generally not. And it's probably easier to unconsciously steal a melody than a story, which are generally less spontaneous and more cerebral. But no one will ever know if you take a camera angle from another director. Most people don't even realize that there are camera angles. But no director owns a camera angle. If I like what another director has done, and I can figure out how to apply it to my film, I do. You should be so lucky that anyone thinks you shoot anything like Sam Raimi, no matter how much you steal from him.

Josh

Name: Jeff
E-mail:

Josh,

As if you needed any more ammunition against the endless stream of people who hate you for not loving everything that Spielberg does - All the President's Men, a great movie, shows the ENTIRE WATERGATE STORY in less time than Catch me if you can, a movie about a con man with daddy issues. It's just another example of how film makers have gotten lazy in the past twenty years. Catch me if you can was a fun book that could have been a great 90 minute comedy but was instead a overlong, boring movie that had five different ending points.

Just had to get that off my chest after seeing one after the other. Thanks!
jeff

Dear Jeff:

I completely agree. I think "All the President's Men" is a great movie, and I've seen it at least ten times. It's a riveting real detective story, it's very compelling, and it's beautifully shot, directed, acted, and written. I never believed "Catch Me If You Can" for one second, and, as you said, it's a flaccid, lazy film, particularly in the writing and direction. To be fair, it did have lovely photography and art direction, as do all of Speilberg's films.

Josh

Name: Duffy
E-mail: g_duffy@bellsouth.net

Josh,

in regards to action blocks...all material I have read to write the "perfect" i.e. non-Hollywood scrap paper say that the character's name should appear in caps the first time he/she appears in the block. Okay, but how about a block that goes like this. They sit at the table, Bob sets down his stack of books with a thump. Sue looks at the books questioningly and then at him. etc... Should it be THEY and their names normal or They and BOB, SUE. Does that make sense? I guess what I'm trying to ask is if starting the block with a plural pronoun then their names further on in the block which should be caps? Thanks for the help, the script is done and I am polishing it for protection against rejection. Doesn't help that I'm a type A personality, Best to you and yours, Duffy

Dear Duffy:

Capitalize the names the first time they appear, and underline them. This indicates to the 1st AD that these are speaking roles that need to be cast. The way that paragraph should really read is, "BOB (underlined, which this email program won't do), a tall, handsome man of 25, sets down his stack of books on the table with a thump, then sits down. SUE (also underlined), a strange-looking brunette of 23 with crossed eyes, is already seated at the table and looks at the books questioningly, then glances up at Bob." The first time you introduce a character you must describe them, otherwise Bob could be 9 years old or 90, how would I know?

Josh

Name: Tim
E-mail: Nansemondnative@wmconnect.com

Good Evening Mr.Becker.

Just an FYI...The Super 8 trick of reverse motion performed in the fashion that you said it would. You have to slice and dice the film and run it into the editor flipped over to see the mechanics of it.

Thanks again for that feedback.

I do have a another question. You have said that you have seen over 3000 movies. I do not know if you keep copies of the movies or not. I do though. I do it because like a businessman has his library of business books us film-makers or wanna-be film-makers (of which is the category I fall into along with thousands of others)have to have a library of visuals to study at all times.I find them to be a constant source of inspiration and it seems like I always see something in a movie that I have never seen before. For example, in the "Evil Dead" movie I just noticed that when Scott walks into the cabin for the first time at the beginning of the movie and is checking out the room that you can see the cameraman's reflection in the window at the end of the shot. That's not a criticism because I love that movie and have seen it roughly 300 times just never noticed that before.Obsessive-Compulsive? Possibly. But I have found that if that is the case then it fits in with that side of my personality that leans toward being a perfectionist which I guess can be construed as being somewhat anal.All depends on your perception. I don't know but I know it works for me.

Which finally, after all that, brings me to the question. With all the movies that are in our mind's eye, available for recall at anytime, do you think on some unconcious level that we might inadvertently remake certain scenes from certain memorable films in our projects without knowing or realizing it at the time? Is that a bad thing? Also, do you think that if one were to make a movie that made people think and entertained them that it would float or do you think perhaps that society doesn't really want movies like that anymore? You would think people would be hungry for it.I know this might not be the best thing for me to ask but I would really like your input on this.

My apologies for being so long winded on this.

Thank you for your time.

Tim

Dear Tim:

I've just passed 4,000 films (4,012, actually). No, I don't have copies of most of those movies. I saw them and they're stored in my brain. As the old expression goes, and I think this is very important, "If you're not directly inspired by something, then you're just stealing." To me knowing many stories and letting myself be inspired by them is how I come up with my own stories, but I think it's bad form to just steal other stories. Alfred Hitchcock's film "Rope" inspired me to come up with "Running Time," but there isn't one point of similarity between the two stories. Orson Welles' (and Booth Tarkington's) "The Magnificent Ambersons" inspired me to write "If I Had a Hammer," but once again, there aren't any similarities in the stories. But if you're stealing, you know you're stealing. Does it matter making better, deeper movies? I think so.

Josh

Name: Mayor
E-mail: cmayor@telus.net

Dear Josh:

What do you have to do to start you own production company?
ie: license?

Dear Mayor:

Nothing. Have business cards made. It might be good to make a movie, too, in which case you'd need to start a limited partnership or a limited liability corporation, but that's along with your production company. You could file a DBA or Doing Business As form with the state so you can do business under the company name.

Josh

Name: David
E-mail:

"The rise of the auteur director was the cause of the last golden age of film, 1967-1976. The rise of purely capitalistic, corporate filmmaking, since the first "Star Wars" in 1977, which is also due to the rise of the actors, the $20 million actor's fee, and the packaging by the actor's agent and agency. Directors, for the most part, don't have the power anymore."

You do realize that the era of filmmaking that you're so in love with had even less artistic integrity and diversity? Directors had even LESS creative control back then. Creative teams were completely orchestrated by producers and studio executives. It has ALWAYS been a corporate industry. The "big decline in Hollywood" you keep ranting about wasn't a decline at all. Its more of the same thing, just with bigger figures.

You're just one of those people who will point to an easy target (like a Michael Bay movie) and use it as an excuse for the "death of invention" without even looking at the rest of the movies around you. The fluff today is no different from the fluff then. And, as always, there are diamonds in the rough. People like you just refuse to see these new diamonds because they don't mirror the old ones.

Dear David:

Interesting theory, but sadly it's not true. Your statement regarding the films of the late 1960s and early '70s, that there was "even less artistic integrity and diversity" is pure nonsense. You know not of what you speak, and you really ought to read the very good book, "Easy Riders, Raging Bulls" by Peter Biskind. The movie moguls of the 1920s-1950s who ran all of the studios had all died or retired by 1966, and there was an odd bubble for a little while where the directors really ran the show. There's never been as much artistic freedom in Hollywood before or since. Do you seriously believe that Hollywood would make "Easy Rider" or "Five Easy Pieces" or "The Last Picture Show" anymore? Not a chance. But what you, and folks like you, can't understand (and I assume it's because you're just too young), is that we used to get a good new movie every week, and a great movie at least every month. And this went on for ten years! It wasn't like that before that, nor has it been like that since then. I grabbed this list from something else just to prove my claim. Within a thirty-six month span,1972-74, here is an example of the films released that I went and saw: Slaughterhouse-Five, Play it Again, Sam, Murmur of the Heart, Minnie and Moskowitz, The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean, Lady Sings the Blues, Junior Bonner, Joe Kidd, Jeremiah Johnson, The Heartbreak Kid, The Godfather, The Getaway, Frenzy, Fellini's Roma, Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex, The Emigrants, The Effects of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds, The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie, Deliverance, The Cowboys, The Candidate, Cabaret, Fat City, Ulzana's Raid, Westworld, The Way We Were, Walking Tall, Two English Girls, A Touch of Class, Theater of Blood, Such a Gorgeous Kid Like Me, Sounder, Sleuth, The Sting, Soylent Green, Sleeper, Sisters, Serpico, Scarecrow, Save the Tiger, Payday, Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid, Papillion, Paper Moon, The Paper Chase, The New Land, O Lucky Man, Mean Streets, The Long Goodbye, The Last Tango in Paris, The Last Detail, The Iceman Cometh, The Homecoming, High Plains Drifter, The Harder They Come, The Exorcist, A Delicate Balance, The Day of the Jackal, Cries and Whispers, Cinderella Liberty, Bang the Drum Slowly, American Graffiti, Young Frankenstein, A Woman Under the Influence, The White Dawn, The Towering Inferno, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Taking of Pelham One Two Three, Playtime, The Phantom of the Paradise, The Odessa File, Murder on the Orient Express, The Longest Yard, Hearts and Minds, Harry and Tonto, The Groove Tube, Going Places, The Godfather Part II, The Gambler, Earthquake, Death Wish, Day For Night, The Conversation, Claudine, Chinatown, California Split, Butley, Blazing Saddles, Billy Jack, Badlands, The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz, and Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore. And you want me to believe there's greater diversity now?

Josh

Name: Charles Rottwell
E-mail: bengins@piecemeal.com

Dear Josh:

I went to Batman Begins today and the only good part was when top of my head flipped open and started spraying 20-foot jets of vomit and brain matter all over the surrounding families who brought their kids to see this horrible film. I may have lost 50 IQ points in the process, but in the end, that visceral reward outweighed the decline in mental prowess I sustained from the experience. I was somewhat astonished, however, that at least half of the people took no notice of my eruption of bodily matter and continued munching on their offal-strewn popcorn like it was butter-soaked manna from heaven.

Dear Charles:

Does that happen to you often? I certainly wouldn't want to sit anywhere near you in a movie theater. So, I take it you're expressing in your own way that you didn't like the film? Really? How could not like a film about a rich guy who dresses up in tights, a cape and an outfit that has the ripples of a washboard stomach built into it, and runs around helping people?

Josh

Name: Jeff
E-mail:

Josh,

How did you deal with the music rights from If I had a Hammer? And I mean, if you had decided to put out a CD of the songs performed in the movie, would you be the one making the money from it or would all or a portion of the profits go to the performers? I assume that was something worked out in contracts ahead of time. Thanks!

Dear Jeff:

All rights regarding the film belong to me, not that they've been of much value.

Josh

Name: Jason Becker
E-mail: w9jeb@yahoo.com

Good afternoon Josh.

I always enjoy reading about our Marine Corps history. I am surprised to see a fellow Becker at the wheel...this I truely appreciate.
I'm a Chief Warrant Officer in the Marine Corps and I'm currently deployed in Iraq. I take great pride in our illustrious history and have spent years studying Marines in WWI. My research has led me to one of my favorite Marines, Gunner Henry Hulbert, and finding supporting documents to prove that he and Dan Daly served together...I think on many occasions. When I get my Henry Hulbert book written; titled "Gunner", I'll be sure to send you a copy to put with your script.
Best regard and keep up the great work.

Dear Jason:

I'm glad you enjoyed my script. Although I don't think it's a terribly well-written book, have you read "Chesty" by Col. Jon T. Hoffman, USMCR, the story of Lt. General Lewis "Chesty" Puller, USMC? He's the officer version of Daly. Chesty had the great line, when told during WWII that he was surrounded, he replied, "Good, now we can fire in any direction."

Josh

Name: Allan
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

GHOST GETS ITS HAND ON 'PAW'
Raimi, Tapert to tame 'Monkey'

Horror indie Ghost House Pictures will fully finance and develop the spooky family pitch "Monkey's Paw," from scribes Dave Kajganich and Tom McAlister, for Sam Raimi and Rob Taper to produce. "Paw" concerns a father who brings home an artifact rumored to make any wish come true, but misfortune begins to befall the family with every desire granted.

Do you know anything about this project, Josh?

Dear Allan:

Vaguely. Rob mentioned this and another film he's going to be making the last time I spoke with him, a few days ago. He's got two horror pictures in production right now.

Josh

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

Hey Josh,

Im wondering how you get through to fellow film fans of yours about why a film present bad storytelling, without entering into a shouting argument.

Case in point: I read your review of Saving private ryan and I agreed, as I did when i first saw the film, that spielberg was visually connecting the old man at the grave with the Hanks character. When you find this is a twist and the old man is really private ryan the question becomes how could remember something he wasnt present for.

Now, Ive point this out to fans of the film, who claim Im crazy, stupid, and deaf, dumb and blind too apparently because its obvious that ryan learned of these events off screen. Or read about it or whatever.

I tell them its bad storytellingt assume something which isnt shown in a film, ie. if you dont show it the audience cant know it.

If you show a man in a suit at a board meeting, we assume he took a shower and shaved. We know it because we SEE him clean. Showing him getting clean is unecessary and redundant info. Likewise if you dont show a Ryan learning of Hanks exploits to rescue him we cant assume he learned of it, because we didnt SEE it.

How do you get through to people like this, assuming you agree with me?

Dear joe:

It's the world we're living in. Our art represents society's state of mind, and for quite some time now it's all been disconcertingly illogical. Do keep in mind, also, that "Saving Private Ryan" won an Oscar for its screenplay. How do you explain to blind people what colors are? You can't.

Josh

Name: jo
E-mail:

hello josh,

i was wondering what is up with the cascade effect project and do you think you will ever work with renee again.i as a fan of renee's work was hoping she would be in your comedy with ted and bruce, i think renee got great comedic timing and i love her work with ted.aso have you done the dvd com. for AA if so how did it go

Dear jo:

I don't know what's happening with "The Cascade Effect." I certianly hope to work with Renee again, if she's of a mind to. The script I'm presently writing (with Paul Harris) is a comedy for Bruce, Lucy, Renee and Ted, but it's nowhere close to being finished. I think the AA commentary went very well, and Bruce and I had a fun time doing it.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

I know you don't care Josh, but I wanted to voice my enthusiasm for Batman Begins. I saw it today and, having not liked many of the more recent comic book films, was very skeptical.

Boy howdy what an exciting film! It's serious, adult, visceral, and quite literally...scary. The best adaptation of a superhero I've ever seen.

I've always admired Christian Bale, and he completely trumps any previous incarnation of Batman.

Richard

Dear Richard:

Okay.

Josh

Name: Ryan Phillips
E-mail: ryan_002000@yahoo.com

Dear Josh:

What's your next movie project?

Dear Ryan:

If all goes correctly, I'm hoping it will be my slapstick comedy script (written with my friend, Paul Harris), "The Horribleness," with Bruce Campbell, Ted Raimi, and Ellen Sandweiss. We're theoretically supposed to shoot in March, 2006.

Josh

Name: A.V.E
E-mail: N/A

Dear Josh:

From reading your responses I've gathered that you rarely go the theatre anymore and watch most films from the comfort of your home. I was curious as to the environment that you watch movies. Is there an elaborate home theatre set-up or a 13-inch Sony Trinitron from 1989 atop a dresser? I know this is a weird question, but in my experience it seems some films, especially black and white, loose their texture and space when you watch it at home on television.(Browning's 'Dracula'would be good example) In that same regard do you think wathcing a film on television with commercials screws up pacing and interest to the point where it hurts the film?

I've been an avid reader of yours for some time. Your site has been more informative than all the over-priced 'Make your own film books' and Liberal Arts Courses out there. It's also made me appreciate the need for structure in not just film but all narrative forms. Thanks.

Dear A.V.E.

I have a 27-inch Zenith, and I recently got a new surround-sound system, with six speakers. I should probably get a new TV pretty soon, too. But having seen so many shitty prints of so many movies at the theater, I'm still impressed with how good DVDs look. If I never see another scratched, broken, faded-to-magenta print again as long as I live, that will be fine. Meanwhile, I won't watch films with commercials cut into them, nor will I watch pan & scan versions of anything.

Josh

Name: Jeff
E-mail:

Josh,

Do you think that the decline in power of the producer and rise of the auteur director is one of the big reasons for the amount of crappy movies now? This is asked knowing that the BIGGEST reason for crappy movies right now is greed.

Dear Jeff:

The rise of the auteur director was the cause of the last golden age of film, 1967-1976. The rise of purely capitalistic, corporate filmmaking, since the first "Star Wars" in 1977, which is also due to the rise of the actors, the $20 million actor's fee, and the packaging by the actor's agent and agency. Directors, for the most part, don't have the power anymore.

Josh

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

Josh,

It's interesting thinking about your comment about "being too old to rock." Clapton has a certain advantage in that the Blues seem to blend well with age. You're right though; nostalgia and Rock and Roll make for uneasy bedfellows. I am interested in watching the Cream reunion show which, I understand, will be offered on DVD.

In terms of reunions, though, the only one I would really put any stock in would be a reunion of The Police for new material, something I doubt will ever happen. Sting and Stewart Copeland still have enough animosity towards each other that something creative might yet come of them. I suppose the same might be said of Gilmore and company, but I don't think they're planning new material.

I've watched "Hombre" a few times recently. I think that it is a very solid film. It's not a huge film; one of the things I like about it is that it's just about a stage hold-up and its aftermath. The hero dies in the end because, given the circumstances, he should. It has a little something to say about history and about human character. All in all I quite enjoyed it. It's odd to me, really, that I haven't seen it before.

By the way, congratulations on the book deal. If, like Bruce, you do a tour you'll have to post your itinerary.

John

Dear John:

I can easily live without Eric Clapton now, too. He's too old and tired to rock & roll anymore. Now he'll just remake all of his old, good songs in new, slow, boring versions. I enjoyed "Hombre," which I watched again a few years ago. It has a very good cast, but I don't think it's director Martin Ritt's best. I like "Hud" much better. He made a film in 1957 called "No Down Payment," in widescreen black and white, that I quite like, and it's got a lot of young stars-to-be, like: Joanne Woodward, Tony Randall, Cameron Mitchell, and Jeffery Hunter. I also like Ritt's film, "Norma Rae."

Josh

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

Dear Josh,

How's it going? I hope all is very cool. Anyway, well, I was going to ask what you thought of the series The Contender, I thought it was very interesting especially for boxing fans. Also, have you seen Sly Stallone's new fitness book? There is one part where he talks about how he goes to see boxing fights, and dietwise there are like two major types of boxers, ones who go very high on protein, and others who also mix a considerable amount of carbs in. The ones on very high protein seem bulkier, more toned maybe, but the ones with considerable carbs as well seem to have a fuller look. Well, he says that he would bet on the ones with the fuller look every time (kind of reminds me of how he was in the first Rocky film as opposed to say the third, though I think in the third which you mentioned you also liked they were trying to go for the contrast between him and his opponent so he basically slimmed down to about 161 pounds which roughly carried on to the first Rambo film where I believe he weighed about 160).

Anyway, I was curious on your opinion on this matter of boxers and their diet if that is something you could share your ideas on.

(also by the way I didn't know you didn't like Van Damme, I thought he had some pretty good films with Rob and Sam as well)

Thanks,

John

Dear John:

I don't know anything about boxer's diets, and I never watched any of "The Contender." Boxing itself is a reality show, I don't need to see non-contenders spar off for a million bucks, it doesn't mean anything. Put any of those schmucks in with a real contender, let alone the champ, and they'll immediately get creamed, so what's the point? And no, I don't like Jean-Claude Van Damme, he's a very creepy person and a terrible actor. Both films he made with Sam and Rob -- "Hard Target" and "Time Cop" -- were hammered shit, in my humble opinion. In fact, he's never made anything but.

Josh

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

<<I love it. I think it's a great film, with terrific characters, absolutely first-rate acting, and a strong narrative that's really going somewhere. It's also got some wonderful film technique in it. John Schlesinger was doing some great work there for a while, with "A Kind of Loving," "Darling," Midnight Cowboy," and even "Marathon Man.">>

Why do filmmakers have to be such perfectionists after they have a good product. John Schlesinger said if he could change anything about the film MIDNIGHT COWBOY he would cut down on the razzmatazz party scene, but that is one of my favorite parts. He also said that one of the Andy Warhol people he cast got excited about getting the party, called to tell Andy, and heard a shot go off on the phone.

Dear Kevin:

Well, he's wrong. The party scene is great. Ratso is at the table filling his pockets with lunch meat and the filmmakers say, "You don't have to steal it, it's free." Ratso replies, "If it's free then I ain't stealin'." I love Jon Voight's sex scene with Brenda Vaccaro, where they roll over onto the TV clicker and it just stays on the TV changing channels.

Josh

Name: Linda Rogers
E-mail: doitrightornotatall_1@yahoo.com

Dear Josh:

First I would like to say, from what I have read about you by you, you are extremely normal in my opinion. You are definitely interesting. Sci-Fi is not my forte', but anything done well can change an opinion. I think your real life is much more interesting than your imagination. Dig deeper, a movie with heart stopping reality is in your future.

Dear Linda:

Normal, eh? Your last line sounds like a fortune from a fortune cookie, although an incisive, interesting one. What would you say is an example of a movie with a "heart stopping reality"?

Josh

Name: William MacDuff Armstrong
E-mail: andykaufman2@hotmail.com

Dear Josh:

I don't know if you've heard or not Josh, but Pink Floyd (including Roger Waters) are getting back together for the new Live Aid on July 2.

David Gilmour was quoted as saying:

"Like most people I want to do everything I can to persuade the G8 leaders to make huge commitments to the relief of poverty and increased aid to the third world. Any squabbles Roger and the band have had in the past are so petty in this context, and if reforming for this concert will help focus attention then it's got to be worthwhile."

Apparently Bob Geldof orchestrated the whole thing. Bob phoned Dave and Roger and then Roger got in contact with Dave, the first time they've spoken to one another since the mid-80's.

Just wanted to hear what you think about this as I know you're a Floyd fan. It'll probably be a one-show thing but I'll still be very happy to see Waters on the same stage with the rest of the band.

Cheers,

Will

Dear William:

If it goes well, maybe it will inspire them to make a new record. I hear the Cream reunion went very well. Look, there is a certain perspective regarding rock & roll, which I can't entirely get past myself, which says, "Hope I die before I get old," or "Too old to rock & roll, too young to die," meaning guys in their sixties are just too damn old to rock & roll, but that doesn't mean I don't have a morbid curiosity to see Pink Floyd back together again. I mean, they all look like elderly Cambridge professors now.

Josh

Name: Gerald Prezeau
E-mail: geraldprezeau@earthlink.net

Dear Josh:

Hi, how do you pay in points.

Dear Gerald:

A standard Limited Partnership is a 50-50 deal between the limited partners and the general partners (although you can make the split whatever you'd like), so the general partners -- the filmmakers -- have 50% of the film to barter away, should they care or need to. But first you need a Limited Partnership.

Josh

Name: Nick
E-mail: Nickyboy@hotmail.com

Josh,

When you're directing do wear sneakers or shoes?

Dear Nick:

You may be kidding, but I do have a chapter in my filmmaking book about this (see "Comfort and Hydration"). I always wear comfortable sneakers, or rubber boots, if it's muddy. But it's very important to wear comfortable shoes when directing because the director probably puts in more mileage running back and forth between where the scene is being shot and where the camera is located than anyone else on the set, and if your feet hurt you won't be able to concentrate on what you need to.

Josh

Name: Bob
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

I just found QB VII, the mini-series with Anthony Hopkins from 1974, in the library. I hadn't seen it for many many years, since the 70s probably. It was pretty good for TV, except there was a long interlude developing Ben Gazzara's hard drinking, hard womanizing, persona. Those 70s shows always had the sherry and the scotch decanters brought out any time of day, whenever there was a meeting between men. Anyway, there are a lot of interesting details about it. I think it is one of the first times that the Holocaust is used to refer to the Nazi genocide. Comparing Judgment at Nuremberg, holocaust is never used. They used terms like crimes against humanity. Do you know when or how holocaust became the reference to the Nazi extermination? Maybe Leon Uris had something to do with it. Another, the scenes of medical experimentation are still chilling. How people can be that mean are unexplainable. Anyway, Anthony Hopkins was great as Dr. Kelno, and Ben Gazzara was good too he got better toward the end. There were many other good British actors as well, such as Jack Hawkins. Do you have any remembrances of QB VII?

Dear Bob:

I read the book when it came out, then I saw the mini-series when it premiered (I was in high school at the time), then I saw it again maybe five or six years ago when I realized the nearby Blockbuster had all the old TV mini-series on tape, so I rewatched all of them. I think QB7 was the first one, before "Shogun" or "Roots," and I thought it was good; a very faithful rendition of the book. The gossip at the time was that Jack Hawkins was going through throat cancer and could barely speak, so they got Rich Little to dub him. I used to be a big fan of Leon Uris as a kid, and I read all of his books up through maybe "Mila 18." I used to really like the film "Exodus" as a kid, too, but for me just about none of Otto Preminger's films hold up. He was a severely sloppy director.

Josh

Name: K
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

Is "Body Parts" the worst film you've ever seen?

And also, what have you watched in the last few days?

Dear K:

I haven't seen "Body Parts." Let's see: I watched "Empire Falls" three times through, and though I don't think it's great, it's a real movie with multi-leveled characters, some interesting subtext, and some really terrific acting and top-notch actors; "Frank and Ollie," a very interesting documentary about two of the "nine old men" at Disney, the great, great animators from the 1930s through the 1960s, who had a lot to do with Disney's best stuff, like "Bambi," "Snow White," "Fantasia," all the way up to "Jungle Book;" "One Million B.C." the original 1940 version with Victor Mature and Carole Landis, which was fascinating, with some terrific sets and wonderfully weird FX.

Josh

Name: John
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

What's your opinion of the film Midnight Cowboy?

Dear John:

I love it. I think it's a great film, with terrific characters, absolutely first-rate acting, and a strong narrative that's really going somewhere. It's also got some wonderful film technique in it. John Schlesinger was doing some great work there for a while, with "A Kind of Loving," "Darling," Midnight Cowboy," and even "Marathon Man."

Josh

Name: Mark Andrews
E-mail: mark@cellphonecaddy.com

Josh,

First let me say I love your stuff. I am also finding your website to be quite a big help as I am planning my first shoot and developing other ideas. Thank you and your web team for all the good stuff.

I have a question for you about the Arriflex 35BL-3 camera you used. The shoot I have coming up in August is going to be taking place in a small hotel room. We have a DP that is willing to shoot for us for free, with his camera package for a Producers credit. Great. He has a Arriflex 35BL-3 but I am worried about the size of the camera and the amount of noise it will make.

From your experience, do think I would be better off renting a differeny camera for that shoot.

Any advice would be great. Thank you for your time.

Mark Andrews

Dear Mark:

No, and Arri 35BL-3 is a great camera, and if it's in even decent repair it should be just fine. You can also blimp the camera, which the camerman may well have, or you can just cover it with a blanket if it's too loud, but it shouldn't be. It's not a little camera, but it's not huge, either. You'll be okay. Good luck, and let us know how it went.

Josh

Name: Noah
E-mail: NNoa@hotmail.com

Josh,

I've just finished your guide on independent filmmaking...hands down the best book I've ever read on the topic. I wonder if you could walk me through a couple things in more detail though:

1) How complicated is it to set up an Limited Liabality Partnership? What must I do to set it up? Will it cost me?

2) How do taxes figure into all of this? In the LLP once it is set up and for the duration of the film's production?

3) If I'm working with a non-union cast and crew, do all of the same rules and regulations still apply?

4) Does a contract that I write up and is then signed by my crew and cast, hold the same weight as a contract written up by a lawyer?

5) Do you use a lawyer? How else could I do my legal work?

6) How do you do work on post-production sound?

Thanks so much!

Dear Noah:

1). You've mushed the two things together: it's either a Limited Partnership (LP), or a Limited Liability Corporation (LLC), and you'd be forming the former, not the latter, since I assume you're not already a corporation, nor do you want to form one because that does cost money. You can either have a lawyer create the LP for you, which is no big deal and can be done with a standard, boilerplate limited partnership, and just plug your numbers in (so don't let them charge you very much, like $500-750), or you can find an already existing LP, use the paperwork and rewrite it for your own purposes, but you'd have to know what you're doing (I've done it myself, BTW, so it's not that complicated). It's still going to take some homework, and possibly just talking to a lawyer to get some advice.

2). It should state in the partnership agreement that each investor must deal with their own tax issues, which will be different for each person.

3). If you're working with a non-union cast and crew you can make or follow any rules you want, if you can get people to work for those rates and under those conditions. I still think the 12-hour turnaround rule is a good one, whether you have to do it or not. But if you pay people minimum wage, then get worker's compensation insurance through the state, you're stuck with the state employment laws, like after 8 hours everyone is in overtime.

4). A contract you write holds just as much weight as a contract written by a lawyer, and might actually hold more weight because you knew what you were writing, as opposed to being able to say "A lawyer wrote it and I didn't understand it."

5). Yes, I do use a lawyer, although I've also not used one. To not use one you have to know the partnership laws of the state where you live, which are contained in a a thing called "The K regulations," or "K regs." It's easier to get a cheap lawyer.

6). I always work with a sound facility, of which there are many. On "Hammer" I worked with some wonderful folks in Lansing called Harvest Sound, who cut me a great deal, then did terrific work. But with a good computer, and the right software (like Sonic Solutions, I believe), you could do it yourself, but you'd have to create every single sound yourself, as opposed to using the sound facilities library.

If you have any other questions, go ahead and ask. And good luck.

Josh

Name: David
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

After reading over your website, I've come to a conclusion: What you consider "structure" isn't structure at all. It's formula.

For all the criticism on this site, it's obvious you're just hung up on a rudimentary narrative style and preach it as dogma. But do you know why people are less inclined to use it these days? Because it's tired.

To say that things were "better in the good old days" is a simple-minded excuse. Film is simply evolving and you refuse to evolve with it.

Dear David:

That's a lazy cop-out, but it does explain what's going on these days, and why films suck so bad now. Structure is not "formula" anymore than putting a foundation on a house is "formula." It's much, much harder to write a properly structured story than to spew out anything in any order, which will ALWAYS be inferior. Film is NOT evolving, it's been steadily devolving for 30 years, so that now the crappy B movies are the A movies; and the A movies are the made-for-HBO movies. You simply can't convince me that all of these trite, tired, witless sequels and remakes are anything more than whore's movies made for one purpose, and only one purpose, to make money. Period. What are the big movies of this second? The 5th unnecessary sequel to "Star Wars," the remake of "War of the Worlds," and the remake of "Mr. & Mrs. Smith." Come on! Film is "evolving"? Gimme a fuckin' break. Anyone who thinks a remake or a sequel is a good idea ought to throw in the towel on movies and go sell shoes.

It reminds me of the scene with Robert Stack in "Airplane!" where he's talking the plane down, and it's just about to come in for a landing. Someone asks Stack, "Aren't you going to tell them to put down the landing gear?" Robert Stack glances up, looking somewhat insane, and says, "That's just what they'd be expecting!"

Josh

Name: Sam Farnon
E-mail: sam@farnonestateswinery.com

Dear Josh:

When directing, do you choose boxers, briefs, or go commando style (none)? I'm about to go on the set at my first filmmaking opportunity and I'm not sure what to do with my man biscuits.

Dear Sam:

I wear briefs because I need support for my man biscuits. Good luck to you.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

"What annoys me is that Spielberg is such an egomaniac these days that it has to be 'Steven Spielberg's War of the Worlds."

This is absolutely ridiculous. Nowhere in the title or advertising does it say that this is "Steven Spielberg's War of the Worlds." It credits Spielberg as director and H.G. Wells with the source material...period. Ellison just comes off in this article as a cranky old buzzard who doesn't know what he's talking about. People (including you Josh, I know) may not like Spielberg's work, but give the guy a break. He updated the material to present day, yes. But in no way is he claiming authorship, or anything else, from the material. Personally, from the adverts, I think it looks like a darn solid (and refreshingly adult) sci-fi film.

Richard

Dear Richard:

Okay. I can't imagine Spielberg doing anything "refreshingly adult," but then that's just me. I'm such a stick-in-the-mud that I think his only legitimately good film is "Jaws." There may be those who disagree, but I don't pay them no never mind.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

This is in regards to Sheldon. I've been looking back at his career thinking he's been doing pretty good for himself. He co-wrote Rambo 3 and Russkies. Russkies I think was a pretty entertaining movie when I first saw it. And then he went to work with Jean Claude Van Damme and my favorite martial artist Mark Dacascos. But lately Sheldon hasn't done too much that I've been aching to see. I might check out "The Order" because it's got Jean-Claude and Charlton Heston in the same movie. That's gotta be a monumental breakthrough. Or maybe its just showing Charlton's really getting old that now most of his stuff is going direct to video. But out of all the movies Sheldon did I will always be a fan of "Only The Strong" the most. It was a feel good movie. And I cared about the characters and even liked the badly acted villian. It also introduced me to Mark who went on to do two of my favorite flicks, "The Brotherhood of the wolf" and "Drive". What can I say growing up and taking Karate really makes you become a martial arts genre fan. Did you see "Only The Strong"? And if so what did you think? If you don't want to comment that's fine but I thought I'd throw how much I liked Sheldon's flicks.

Your fan,
Jonathan

Dear Jonathan:

Let's just say I'm not a fan of martial arts movies, particularly Jean-Claude Van Damme films. The only acting Jean-Claude ever does is pretending that he's not the world's biggest asshole, which he never pulls off. Mark Decascos seems like a good martial artist, but a very weak actor. Sheldon just wrote and directed "Bloodsport 7," I believe it is. And the DP I just worked with, David Worth, shot the first "Bloodsport." The imitation of Jean-Claude within our group is, with a Belgian accent, "I'm very exciting to meet you."

Josh

Name: kdn
E-mail: jericho_legends

Dear Josh:

does ACE IN THE HOLE or THE ACTRESS still play on TCM?

Dear Kevin:

Yeah, they both do. "The Actress" was just on a few weeks ago.

Josh

Name: kdn
E-mail: jericho_legends

<<Well, "Hammer" isn't even close to being in the same league as "Citizen Kane" or "Paths of Glory," which may not have been big hits when they first came out, but both were extremely well-received, and "Kane" won an Oscar for its screenplay. But you saying that "Hammer" is better than "The Aviator" I take as a big compliment since "The Aviator" probably cost $150 million, and "Hammer" cost $350,000, so thank you. Which brings me to another thought: how could a clearly intelligent man like Martin Scorsese, who has made some great films, think that the scripts for "Gangs of New York" and "The Aviator" were worth shooting? Particularly "Gangs," which is a terrible screenplay. It boggles my mind.>>

The Aviator entertained me for the time I watched it, but there was nothing in it to go back and study, but I also like Super Troopers and Predator and those aren't going anywhere near your list. I'm going to go back and re-transfer Hammer, I put the cut right after David Zink's number (which I think works well because you get a little break from the music at the beginning of the second part before Jason Kyle Webb goes on), but I accidentally cut out the 3 -5 seconds where Bobby Lee Baker gets pissed off and walks out and that's criminal. Its the little things like that which make the movie.

Also, I'm not so sure about your arguement on showing why Howard Hughes is crazy. Some people are just born a little off or can't take stress. I didn't care why he was crazy, I cared that he did great things despite his handicap. I don't doubt the rest or your review.

You made a similar weird arguement on CATCH ME IF YOU CAN saying Abagnale coming from a broken home wasn't good enough, but on the behind the scenes, the REAL Abagnale's verson of his start was exactly the same as the movie. It was JUST that simple, he ran off, desperate for money, once you write one check, you're in trouble anyways so what the hell. What was really BULLSHIT about CATCH ME IF YOU CAN was Spielberg tried to make it look like he was trying to make his father look up to him, but the real Abagnale never saw his father again in real life (except I think his funeral). So that whole thing with Christopher Walken was bullshit, but I liked his character anyways. Oh and I heard that thing with him escaping out the plane toilet was bullshit too.

Dear Kevin:

Regarding screenwriting, you can't just say "Oh, he's a little bit off" and be done with it. If the lead character is nuts, I MUST know why. In "The Aviator" it's a major part of the story, which they keep returning to over and over again, and to not explore it is just bad writing. If one is going to make a three hour biopic about someone, then just the facts are not sufficient. Regarding motivation in a movie, just because it's true story and it really happened doesn't mean it's believeable. Getting the viewer to believe something in a story is much more difficult than just stating it's true.

Josh

Name: John
E-mail:

Dear Josh,

You can do the reverse motion super 8 trick. When editing you have to flip the film over though so you get a reverse image or mirror image, cos like you said its single perf. Its ok silent, but sound film puts the mag tracks on the other side.

Dear John:

Yes, I discussed this with my friend Paul, and you can do it with super-8, but you're then projecting through the emulsion side of the film instead of the base, which could throw off the focus.

Josh

Name: Benny Abrahms
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

"Gunga Din" - great movie? Just saw it for the first time and quite enjoyed it. Can you recommend any other of George Stevens' films?

Dear Benny:

There are a lot of people out there, particularly older ones, who think "Gunga Din" is a great film, but I'm not one of them. It was enjoyable, but very silly, and the three leads are all trying to out-act each other, and neither Cary Grant nor Victor McLaglen need any urging to overact. The idea of a little Jewish man in his 40s, Sam Jaffe, playing the Indian boy, Gunga Din, is truly absurd. I love George Stevens's film of "Alice Adams," with the young, luminous Katherine Hepburn. I also love "Shane." Stevens won an Oscar for "A Place in the Sun," which is as highly-regarded of a film as there is, but I don't love it. "Woman of the Year" is the first Tracy-Hepburn film, and it's good, but I don't think it's their best. I guess I'm not George Stevens's biggest fan, but I do respect him.

Josh

Name: kdn
E-mail: jericho_legends

<<I thought "The Aviator" was a bore, weakly written with very little explanation of how he became who he was (his mother washing him naked as a kid don't cut it), and it's easily an hour too long. >>

Well, you're honest, and you know how to back up your reasons. I've watched IF I HAD A HAMMER 4 times in the past few days and its easily a better film than THE AVIATOR. CITIZEN KANE and PATHS OF GLORY weren't really excepted when they first came out either, and given that HAMMER is almost immediately a satire of what's wrong with people today (it translates to all mediums, not just music, you could easily take what they're saying and translate it to anything in life), its no wonder nobody wanted it.

Dear Kevin:

Well, "Hammer" isn't even close to being in the same league as "Citizen Kane" or "Paths of Glory," which may not have been big hits when they first came out, but both were extremely well-received, and "Kane" won an Oscar for its screenplay. But you saying that "Hammer" is better than "The Aviator" I take as a big compliment since "The Aviator" probably cost $150 million, and "Hammer" cost $350,000, so thank you. Which brings me to another thought: how could a clearly intelligent man like Martin Scorsese, who has made some great films, think that the scripts for "Gangs of New York" and "The Aviator" were worth shooting? Particularly "Gangs," which is a terrible screenplay. It boggles my mind.

Josh

Name: Tudor Wise
E-mail: frankditko@spamhole.net

Dear Josh:

I assume since yer not a teevee freak, that you don't watch "The Sopranos."

But you would have gotten a kick, based on your reviews of SWINGERS and MADE, of an episode wherein one of the gangsters (who, it has been established earlier, has screenwriting aspirations) meets Jon Favreau, trying to get his mafia screenplay read. It's not actually very flattering to Mr. Favreau, even though he's in it.

Dear Tudor:

For someone who's not a TV freak, I spend an awful lot of time in front of the TV. And now with TiVo I'm probably watching even more TV, although admittedly not too many TV shows. I do watch "The Simpsons." But I never even started with "The Sopranos." I saw Jon Favreau's "Marciano," and it sucked.

Josh

Name: Tim
E-mail: nansemondnative@wmconnect.com

Josh,

I wanted to take the time to thank you for taking the time to answer my Super-8 question concerning reverse motion.

Interestingly enough, after sending you the question I called the guy who had passed the original information on to me. I asked him where he had gotten that info from and he stated that he had heard it in a Director's commentary track from the film Jeepers Creepers 2. Director is Victor Salva.

Long story short, armed with a 12 pack of iced tea, I went over late last night and we watched the movie together along with the usual amateur critique of the movie.

There is a dream sequence in it and Vic Salva states that " when he was a kid - 13 years old makin' movies on Super-8" that he had learned that trick.

So now that information is now up to debate. I tend to side with you but I will never know unless I take a roll of K40 and try it which I intend to do today here in good ol' sunny Virginia Beach. If it doesn't work I'm only out $15.00. I'll then try it out on my K3 16mm and see what happens.What the hell...You only go around once.

Finally I wanted to also thank you for your gracious sharing of information concerning the business.

You have a no BS way of sharing information and it is entirely on cue. I learned more from reading your book than any other book I have ever read on the subject.You don't candy-coat it and you show everybody what it is like in the real world.

I know this is long and no need to post.

Thank you again Mr. Becker or as I call you...The Rambo of the film business.

Have a great weekend!

Tim

 

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

Dear Josh:

I was wondering what your thoughts were on "Swingers" and "Made". I love both of these movies in their own seperate ways. Swingers had very interesting characters. All 5 of the guys were supposed to be like the rat pack. And the irony of the whole situation is that Jon Favreau's character loves his ex girlfriend so much and won't stop talking to her and tries to date all these girls who aren't interested in him and finally meets the one he wants and she turns out to be exactly like him. It's a pretty good story and depicts realistic things that have happened in Jon and everyone's past except fictionalized a bit. Makes the phrase, "Write what you know" really mean something. Tho I imagine you didn't care for it as much and you thought it tried to be too trendy, which is what I hear and disagree with the most. However you can't say it didn't have a good lead character because Jon did a perfect job. All the guys did. They were all likeable interesting and different characters. The fact that it got made with the actors Jon wanted and not what it could have been... hell it could have been: The Oceans 11 cast and that would have SUCKED. I mean Brad Pitt playing Vince Vaughns character. Ahhhh! All I'm saying is "Swingers" was a good independent movie made by people who really cared about getting a good story made. And I'm surprised its not on your favorite list.

Your fan,
Jonathan

Dear Jonathan:

Well, be surprised because I don't think "Swingers" is even a decent movie, and certainly doesn't have a good story. It's okay until they get to Vegas, then it sits there like ten-ton dead weight, not knowing where to go or how to fill the length of a feature film. I didn't like "Made," either, which seemed like a one-joke concept that might have been an okay 15-minute short, but was dragged out to feature-length. I'll go one step farther in that I don't think Jon Favreau is very good or appealing actor, and he's even less of a writer. Nor do I much care for him as the host of "Dinner for Five." He seems like a non-talent to me. I do find Vince Vaughn kind of amusing, though.

Josh

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

Heya Josh,

I figured this subject was gonna come up sooner or later, so, what the hell-I might as well get the ball rolling.

Did you see "Cinderella Man"? Thoughts? Worth all the hype? And what do you think of Ron Howard as a director?

By the way-you'll get a kick out of this: Harlan Ellison blast Steven Spielburg...

http://www.scifi.com/scifiwire2005/index.php?category=0&id=31121&type=0


An excerpt:

"SF writer Harlan Ellison questioned why director Steven Spielberg didn't give more credit to fellow author H.G. Wells in his upcoming film adaptation of The War of the Worlds. Speaking to SCI FI Wire at Enigma Con at the University of California, Los Angeles, Ellison said: "What annoys me is that Spielberg is such an egomaniac these days that it has to be 'Steven Spielberg's War of the Worlds. No, you puss-bag. It's H.G. Wells' War of the Worlds, and it wouldn't kill you to put his f--king name on it." "

The rest of the article should put a smile on your face as well.

Take care.

Saul

Dear Saul:

The article about Harlan Ellison isn't long enough. I needed ten times more of what he was saying, like that Steven Spielberg is not a genius, nor even a trendsetter. Regarding "Cinderella Man," it looks like slop. The NY Times review said it wasn't as good as "A Beautiful Mind," which was garbage, so my expectations aren't very high. And to trade in Jennifer Connelly for the utterly horrid Renee Zellwegger sounds like a big come down. But boxing movies generally suck, and are usually made by people who don't watch boxing, don't understand it, and don't care, and you can tell. As for Ron Howard as director, he's all right, but nothing special. I liked "Apollo 13," "Parenthood" and "Splash." That last film he made, "The Missing," was a real piece of crap.

Josh

Name: Robert Snyderman
E-mail: crackthesky222@hotmail.com

Dear Josh:

You said in your review of American Beauty that if you do not understand the movie then that is the film makers fault, because "nothing goes over your head." Well I guess you must be God then. And I mean, with the superb and innovative directing of Xena: Warrior Princess and other great films such as Alien Apocalypse and If I Had a Hammer! You are one damned brilliant man. Wow.

P.S. - obviously everything goes over head. Hey Josh, Abre los ojos.

Dear Robert:

Did you even see "If I Had a Hammer"? I think not. Having not seen it, then using it as an example of how dumb I am, makes you a fool. And I assure you that Hollywood hasn't produced a film in decades that would go over the head of any 10th grader. Meanwhile, as opposed to taking the idiotic, confrontational approach, do you disagree with my review of "American Beauty"? If so, why? Insulting me doesn't make you look any smarter. If you care to defend the film, go ahead. Show us all what you've got lurking between your ears, if anything.

Josh

Name: Tim
E-mail: nansemondnative@wmconnect.com

Josh,

Technical question for you.

Is it true that if I took my Canon 814 and turned it upside down while shooting a sequence that when it is processed right-side up that all the images will appear to be going backwards in a right-sideup reference?

Super 8 film isn't cheap and I would like to qualify this information before I go and try it.

I hope this isn't a stupid question. I really am in a learning curve and trust me...I'm getting a very late start.

Thank you for your time.

Tim

Dear Tim:

Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but you can't do that schtick of turning the camera upside for reverse motion in super-8 because it's single perf, meaning there are only sprocket holes on one side of the film, and you need double-perf to completely flip the film around. I've done it a few times, but it was only after graduating from super-8 to 16mm.

Josh

Name: Patrick Alfo
E-mail: patrickalfo@yahoo.com

Dear Josh:

The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou had no soul.

Pretty overblown scenes, senseless special effects, soaring rock soundtrack, and non-existant performances from Angelica Houston, Bill Murray, and especially Willam Defoe.

It looks great: the sets were amazing, no expense was spared. But there was nothing there.

How did this happen? They had it all: an A plus cast, amazing soundtrack, and an one amazing set after another all filmed in paradise.

Dear Patrick:

Bad writing, the plague of our times. Sadly, Wes Anderson has no stories to tell that are worth hearing, and that's the bottom-line of filmmaking. All right, here's a story -- I just watched this oddball little film from 1940 called "Bad Little Angel," where a sweet little orphan girl of 12 has recently been placed with a sweet, wise, religious old lady, and the two get along wonderfully. The old lady tells the little girl if she's ever in bad trouble, and only then, she should ask God for answer, and you do this by saying a prayer over the bible, closing your eyes, randomly opening the bible and pointing at the page, and whatever it says you must do. Soon, the old lady becomes very ill and dies. The little girl is sent back to the orphanage, where they believe she is a jinx because this is the third place she's been sent to, the first family, who are wealthy, immediately went bankrupt, the second and third both promptly died. They decide to never send her out again, and she'll just work at the horrible orphanage cleaning and doing chores until she's 18. The little girl goes to her bible, closes her eyes, prays, opens the book and points, and it says, "Flee to Egypt," she packs her bag and leaves. She gets to the train station and says, "One ticket for Egypt, please?" The ticket seller says, "A dollar thirty-two." She's amazed, "Only a dollar thirty-two, all the way to Egypt?" The ticket seller nods, "Yep, Egypt, New Jersey, six stops up the line." So the little girl goes to Egypt, gets off the train and immediately meets a cute young poor boy of 14 shining shoes (played by young Gene Reynolds, who 35 years later would create and produce the TV show "M*A*S*H"), who befriends her. She then goes on to affect and improve the lives of every person in Egypt, even though she still thinks she's a jinx, but ultimately comes to find out otherwise. Anyway, that's a snappy, well-written, clever little screenplay, like we don't get anymore under any circumstances.

Josh

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

Josh,

Regarding "The Life Aquatic," I'd say to avoid it at all costs. You would hate it, your instincts are correct. I like Wes Anderson based on "Rushmore," and hated this movie. He becomes more self-serving with each passing film. I feel there's something wrong when you're aware of the director. Especially when he comes off as smug.

I made a short film this week for the EPA. It was quite exhilarating to be doing camerawork and lighting while getting paid in the cubicle farm. Three minutes of silliness, but I think it's going to look pretty good.

Have a great weekend.

C.

Dear Cindy:

You made a film, that's what counts. All experience is good experience. Meanwhile, I couldn't stand "Rushmore," and I really hated "The Royal Tennenbaums," so I have no hope for "Aquatic." I think the guy is complete hack.

Josh

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

Dear Josh,

Just in case you're interested, this was the blurb in my local paper for the rerun of AA, on Thursday, 3/31.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v147/joxerfan/Jonas/newspaper.jpg


Regards,

August

Dear August:

It's nice that they featured it with a photo.

Josh

Name: Brian
E-mail:

Josh,

What does the different colors of TV scripts mean? Like, if I have a script labeled white on top of the page, for instance? And, do writing changes occur up to the last minute of shooting? How far in advance do you (the director) get a script before filming begins?

Thanks Josh!

Dear Brian:

Up until pre-production begins, all drafts are white. Once pre-production has begun, though, the first draft is white, the second draft is pink, the third is blue, the fourth is orange, the fifth is green, the sixth, I believe, is striped. This way everyone knows if they have the correct pages or not. On TV rewrites can come in at any time, including the night before shooting, the morning of shooting, while the scene is being shot, or even after you're done shooting, in which case you get to throw the colored pages out and ignore them. Very little made me as nervous as getting rewrite pages the morning of the shoot. There's nothing like trying to shoot a scene you're unfamiliar with and have no plan of attack, and also now the actors don't know their lines. It's a bad procedure, and whatever improvements the producers think they've made are utterly mitigated by the lack of preparation on the cast and crew's part.

Josh

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

Hey Josh,

Have you seen the documentary, Gunner Palace? I think it's a good one, as documentaries go. So far, I have seen 3 covering the occupations in the Middle East and this probably has the least amount of propaganda in it. Basically, it's an insight to the daily duties and lives of a particular unit that is stationed in the former palace of Uday Hussein. Some activities are very staged and others quite candid. I know you don't care for Wes Anderson films, but I loved The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou. I think it was a darkly cute story. I think it's the first time I ever saw Willem Dafoe do comedy (and he does it well).

Kim

Dear Kim:

Yeah, I know I'll just hate it. Willem Dafoe does comedy as the fish in the aquarium in "Finding Nemo." He's just a good actor and can do whatever he wants. I just liked "Empire Falls," which was too long, but still good stuff.

Josh

Name: Tuomas Laasanen
E-mail: tuomas@cinemasf.net

Dear Josh,

Have you seen this:

http://www.twitchfilm.net/pics/alienapocalypse.html

Dear Tuomas:

No, I hadn't seen it. Thanks.

Josh

Name: David Greene
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

Ah, thanks for the quick response. I like "Notorious" as well, although I find it moves along too slowly. FYI, there were releases of several Hitchcock films from the Criterion Collection, including an excellent transfer of "Notorious", although many of those are now out-of-print.

Also, I enjoyed the 1934 version of "The Man Who Knew Too Much", but the quality of the picture and sound on every vhs and dvd copy I've seen is just atrocious. Did you see it during its origianl theatrical release? (kidding! I know you're not that old, Josh)

I haven't seen "Blackmail" yet. Have you seen "The Lodger"? I believe that's generally thought to be his best silent.

Lastly, some trivia: which actor appeared in the most Hitchcock films? (Of course Cary Grant and Jimmy Stewart each had four; this actor had many more than that, albeit in mostly lesser roles)

Dear David:

Certainly Hitchcock himself wins for most extra appearances in his own films. Hitchcock was good buddies with Norman Lloyd, the guy who falls off the Statue of Liberty, who became the producer of his Hitchcock's TV show. Without looking through books, I don't know. Leo G. Carroll? Yes, I've seen "The Lodger" and it is a good silent flm. "Blackmail" was started as a silent, but completed as a talkie (the first sound film in England), and it has a lot of imaginative things in it, with the big chase finale in the British Museum.

Josh

Name: David Greene
E-mail:

Josh, what are your favorite of Hitchcocks' films? I recently saw "Saboteur" and "Dial M for Murder", and consider them among his best. They don't get much attention compared to "Psycho" and "North by Northwest". I think much of his early work is fantastic.

Dear David:

Those aren't two of my favorites, but they're good films. The Statue of Liberty scene is, of course, a classic. I'd say my favorite is "Notorious," which I just can't seem to get enough of. Others favorites are: "Psycho," "Rear Window," the 1934 "The Man Who Knew Too Much," "The 39 Steps," "The Birds," "Frenzy," "Blackmail," and of course "North By Northwest."

Josh

Name: Michael Paszt
E-mail: michaelpaszt@cinemavault.com

Dear Josh:

Is "Man with the Screaming Brain" available for foreign sales representation?

http://www.cinemavault.com/productupdate.html

Dear Michael:

Sorry, it's not my movie.

Josh

Name: Andrew
E-mail: andrew.walther@kofc.org

Hi there, I am working on a book that includes a Chapter on Sgt. Dan Daly. I was hoping you could give me an insight into his personality, what made him tick. Did he have a religious side?

Thanks,

Andrew Walther

Dear Andrew:

There is no information on Sgt. Daly, other than the facts of his life. He certainly didn't seem religious, and I don't believe really tough soldiers ever are religious. If you're going to make it through a battle you can't be thinking about the next world, only this one. I just read Sam Fuller's autobiography, "The Third Face," which has a lot about his four years in the army during WWII, and he said, contrary to popular belief, that he never heard one soldier pray in four years of fighting. The closest he ever heard to a prayer was soldiers exclaiming, "Goddamnit!"

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

Okay, this has been bugging me for a while. I know you don't like Tarantino's movies and what not. But you do have to agree that he does have a pretty good grasp on structure since his movies usually have three acts, they are just usually mixed up and switched around. His dialogue is also more realistic. The reason I bring this up is I was looking back at his script books and noticing the structures were there and thought at least one guy seems to care about what he's writing. Though, I am strong believer that Jackie Brown is one of the most boring scripts and movies ever.

Your fan,
Jonathan

Dear Jonathan:

I can't go there with you. I think Tarantino is a second-rate writer, at best, and nothing about his writing impresses me. All of his characters are stereotypes and cliches, he never has a theme, nor a point, nor real character arcs, nor anything worth paying attention to. All of his tough guys speak with the same cliched voice. Where are the act breaks in "Pulp Fiction?" What's the point? What does the lead character learn along the way, that you shouldn't leave your Uzi on the kitchen counter when you go piss? Or that you shouldn't mistakenly blow people's heads off in your own car? Or that you need an expert, like Harvey Keitel, to help you wash your car out and hose off? And that's tarantino's best script. The "Kill Bills" have nothing when it comes to writing (or good editing or good performances or good direction). The guy's a non-talent, and a perfect representation of this horrid time period in movies.

Josh

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

Josh,

I know we've discussed the studio system before but I don't think you've ever given an opinion here about the effect the decline and fall of the studio system had on screenwriting. Specifically, didn't the studios have writing pools, with head writers on down? I know that Sid Ceasar's old show on TV had all sorts of guys (Reiner, Woody Allen, Larry Gelbart, etc.), and I think I saw a documentary about MGM describing a similar situation. I know there were pools of music writers. It seems to me that such a situation would foster structure, in particular, and professionalism in general.

Thanks for the advice on synchronization rights, by the way. I had never heard of it, nor had my brother.

Like the guy ealier, I watched old movies on television growing up. I consider it a shame that stations don't show those anymore. It used to be that every local station would show at least three movies a day. I can no longer remember the last time I saw an old movie, i.e. a not-first-run-made-for-TV movie, on a local station.

John

Dear John:

Movies used to be the cheapest thing a TV station could show, but once cable came in and the film companies began getting better rates for films, local TV stations couldn't afford them anymore. Quite frankly, if I never see another movie with commercials cut into it, it will be too soon. Regarding the major studios, due to the fact that they each made about 50 films a year, or one a week, there was a lot less dicking around with them. Darryl Zanuck, when he was head of production at Warner Bros., would put the entire year's schedule together in one 24-hour session, saying, "Okay, we're making two Bogart pictures, who directs Bogart well?" Someone would say, "Archie Mayo handles Bogart well." "Good, Mayo is directing." Zanuck would ask, "Who writes that tough guy stuff well?" Someone would replay, "W.R. Burnett writes good tough guy stuff." "Fine, he's writing." And once they'd assigned everybody to the various films, and gave them their budgets, they were frequently left alone unless the screwed up somehow. There was little to no micro-management, which there's far too much of now. At that time pretty much all of the studio's actors, directors, writers and DPs were all under exclusive contracts, so there was no availability issues, nor any negotiating. Once everybody went freelance, particularly the actors, everything changed.

Josh

Name: kdn
E-mail: jericho_legends

<<Hughes may have been nuts, but "Scarface" is a darn good film. It's as good as, or better than, every Warner Bros. gangster film of the era. I'll bet I've watched "Duellists" 20 times.>>

I liked the aviatior, its just one of those films you enjoy the first time, its not one you can go back and study. The dogfight effects looked pretty good for something that was obviously blue screen. Cate Blanchett doesn't look like Katherine Hepburn, but she sounds and acts like her so Clint Eastwood's John Huston impression (which had better dialogue) is a good comparision. I'm always a little weirded out by WHITE HUNTER BLACK HEART cause its Clint's body with somebody else coming out of him and I'm not so sure they match up, so I payed attention to the voice and the dialogue and just imagined John Huston instead.

What are some of the best bluescreen effects you've seen used in a GOOD movie (yeah, fuck Star Wars). Or have there been any?

I like movies where people have to cope with being nuts but still go out and do great things. I think Howard Hughes was a strong man to go out and do all that. He sat there and ate the fish and drank the dirty water despite his habits so he could face Alan Alda.

Dear Kevin:

I thought "The Aviator" was a bore, weakly written with very little explanation of how he became who he was (his mother washing him naked as a kid don't cut it), and it's easily an hour too long. Nice photography, and Leonardo was better than I thought he'd be. I didn't like the writing for Katherine Hepburn's character, nor Cate Blanchett's performance, which was an impersonation, not a performance. Regarding blue screen, I don't want to think about it.

Josh

Name: tj
E-mail: yahoo.com

hello josh, i was wondering if renee will be joining you and bruce c. on the AA comementary. thanks for your site and the info it provides.

Dear tj:

She may, I'm not sure. We'll have to see.

Josh

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

Josh

Caught a fairly solid British flick called, 'Millions' here two days ago. It's a Danny Boyle film about two brothers who discover a sackful of £230, 000 by a train-track and must decide how to use it. One brother thinks it's a gift from God and wants to give it to the poor (he's visited by Saints) while the other wants to use it to climb the social ladder at school, and gain some much needed respect, having just moved into the neighbourhoods. There are no clear-cut villains, and while the story wavers from being crisp and airy to very dark and menacing, it's a real treat to see. Funny, intelligent and affecting. See it if it comes to your TiVo!

Dear Greene:

OK, I will. I saw a documentary yesterday called "Frank and Ollie," about two of the "nine old men" at Disney, the great animators from Disney's golden age. These two guys were friends in college, went to art school together, were roommates, both went to work at Disney in the late 1930s, both married and moved into a duplex next to each other, then each built houses right next to each other, their wives are good friends, and both of the men's mothers came from the same little town in southern Illinois (which they didn't realize until they were in their 70s). I was pleased to hear that "Bambi" was Walt's favorite film of his own (because it's mine). Anyway, these guys both seemed wonderful. They said that WWII ended the golden age of animation, so there's another reason for hating Hitler.

Josh

Name: jim K
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

Didn't Howard Hawks make SCARFACE? What did Howard Hughes have to do with it?

Dear jim:

Howard Hughes produced "Scarface." Howard Hawks directed it.

Josh

Name: kdn
E-mail: jericho_legends

Dear Josh:

hmm, when you asked about the original SCARFACE playing, you never mentioned Howard Hughes was fucking nuts. I like that in a director. Now I HAVE to see HELL'S ANGELS and SCARFACE. I don't think I could sit through the AVIATOR again till I reach the end of the flicks and start over (shame its not really rewatchable like CITIZEN KANE, ZULU, or THE DUELLISTS... I could watch those films on a loop all day... Oh wait, I did that already). That's cool, I can transfer IF I HAD A HAMMER, LUNATICS: A LOVE STORY, and THE AFRICAN QUEEN to dvd now.

Dear Kevin:

Hughes may have been nuts, but "Scarface" is a darn good film. It's as good as, or better than, every Warner Bros. gangster film of the era. I'll bet I've watched "Duellists" 20 times.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

So I watched "If I had..." again this time with my dad. And he said it was a good movie he just thought the script lacked something. Not saying he's a critic or anything but he generally is hard to please. However he did say, "That is a real movie". When I was watching it again I realized you really do structure your movies well. There are many things in Act one that come back in Act 3. The characters are well defined and well acted. The three leads are pretty incredible. I especially liked Terry. And I always like Michael Dean Jacobs who it may be sad but the first time I ever saw him in a movie was playing the villian in "Ogazmo" and he really sounded and looked different as the M.C. I could barely even recognize him. As for the guy telling you that the stock footage in the opening was boring, I'd strongly disagree. Though it may have been a bit cliched to do it, it wasn't boring. It set the mood for the era. And as for the DVD. Yeah, I really wish you had gotten distribution on it. I'd love to hear more of your insiteful commentary. If you don't mind I'm gonna ask my friend Vittorio to burn it on to a DVD so I can have it on both formats though it'll look pretty much the same. It's just easier to take places since everybody uses DVDs these days. Hey, I'd gladly spend an extra 20-30 dollars on a real DVD of it.

Your fan,
Jonathan

Dear Jonathan:

Should I ever get rich one of the first things I'll do is make a decent video transfer of "Hammer," which has some lovely lighting and wonderful colors that the whole crew went to great difficulty to achieve. But what you're seeing on that tape, and it would look exactly the same on DVD, is a one-light transfer off of a print, which is the cheapest way to transfer. What you really want to do is transfer off of your interpositive, or your original camera negative. And if I ever do that, the film will really look terrific. Regarding the title sequence, which I like, when Terry tells Phil the conspiracy theory about rock & roll being stopped and Elvis being drafted, you've got some images of it to work with. The stock shots cover 1958 (the year I was born) through that specific day, February 8, 1964, with The Beatles getting off the plane in NY. I think it's important from a story POV. I also like doing title sequences. Micheal Dean Jacobs has one line that makes me laugh every single time I see it, "Okay, let's have fun!" It's a wonderful delivery. I've seen him several commercials since working with him.

Josh

Name: Frank Demne
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

Just saw a PBS documentary about Cary Grant. It mentioned that the script for "His Girl Friday" was about 180 pages! Considering the movie is only 90 or so minutes, that's remarkable. It'd be one thing if it was that ultra-fast-talking guy from the Micro Machines commercials in the lead, but it wasn't. You know of any other long scripts that ended up with much greater than 1:1 page to screen minute ratio?

Dear Frank:

The other film known for its fast talking is Billy Wilder's "One, Two, Three." I'm not a fan of delivering dialog as fast as possible. It makes the performances all rather one-note, I think.

Josh

Name: kdn
E-mail: jericho_legends

Dear Josh:

I got a $2,000 computer with lots of memory, a good film editing system, and a dvd/cd burner... no internet yet, though. While I was there, I picked up a copy of the AVIATOR which I was afraid to see cause of GANGS OF NEW YORK.

2/3 into the movie, I'm convinced he made this film just to get me off, and I forgive him for the last movie. I think its about as good as WHITE HUNTER, BLACK HEART and RKO 281:THE BATTLE OVER CITIZEN KANE, but I'll let you decide if I'm overblowing it. I'm disappointed they didn't show SCARFACE in the film, they just mentioned it, since Scorcese said he showed the cast and crew THE PUBLIC ENEMY to show them what SCARFACE was going to be up against. I don't think it beats GOODFELLAS, TAXI DRIVER, ALICE DOESN'T LIVE HERE ANYMORE, MEAN STREETS, or THE KING OF COMEDY, (how could it?) but its pretty damn entertaining. The performances are almost farcical like Clint Eastwood's John Huston but they work.

Dear Kevin:

Finish watching the movie before you review it.

Josh

Name: Bob
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

Someone asked about how did we see movies more than once or twice in the theater before we had VCRs. I would add that TV was the other major means of doing so. You would just wait for your favorite movies to show up again. Sometimes staying up in the middle of the night in order to watch it.

As far as the marriage and dating issue, from a lot of the responses you have received, the answer seems to be that life is all about getting married and having kids and working your butt off in a job you hate so your kids can go to the best college, etc., etc.. And if you don't achieve marriage, or are not in a relationship, then your life basically has no meaning.

I don't think so.

Dear Bob:

On a biological level, just like every other species on earth, the point is procreation. Everything else we do, like art, science and philosophy, may all just be to amuse ourselves before and after procreation. Meanwhile, yes, as a way to see a movie again there was also TV. If you missed a big film at the theater in three or four years it might show up on the 9:00 movie, with commercials. After that it would go into rerun on the 4:00 movie, or the late show, or the late-late show, which I stayed up for almost every night throughout my youth, which is undoubtedly part of the reason why I did so poorly in school.

Josh

Name: Gideon Rhine
E-mail: palindrom3@wiggins.com

Dear Josh:

Oh my gawd. I just saw a movie last nite that screamed out for the three act structure you champion: "The Man Who Wasn't There" by Les Freres Coen. UGH! DOUBLE UGH. I was really enjoying the movie until about one third of the way through, when suddenly the entire conflict that the movie was seemingly built around -- a milquetoast guy getting revenge for marital infidelity -- fell apart. All of the characters that the main character was in conflict with die, one by one, and suddenly we are left with two-thirds of a movie that drifts aimlessly here and there, like a toddler dancing through a poppy field with not a care in the world. Suddenly we are following the main character's chaste infatuation with a teenage pianist, which has nothing to do with the conflict at the beginning of the movie. Suddenly all of these UFOs start entering the movie as a a symbolic motif that has no relation to the conflict at the beginning of the movie, or the main character in any way. What a pile of garbage of a film. I watched this movie with a friend (who was the one who picked it out) and we both felt incredibly cheated. What a couple of poseur arseholes to play with the audience like this.

Dear Gideon:

But that's EVERY movie now. It almost shocks me now when I watch an old movie and encounter good screenwriting, as I did the other day with an obscure little film from 1940 called "Bad Little Angel," which wasn't great, mind you, but it was professionally written by screenwriters who knew how to write and clearly knew what their story was. I also just saw two new movies, both from 2003, an Icelandic film, "Noi Albinoi," and an Italian film, "I'm Not Scared," both of which are pretty good by today's standards, but both are basically just weakly written by people who don't really understand screenwriting, although both films are kind of strongly directed. Both of them have a pretty good story, and neither knows what to do with it. Meanwhile, I find that the writing is better in foreign films now than in Hollywood films. The last recent movie I saw, if I recall correctly, that had a well-written script was Zhang Yimou's 1994 "To Live." Actually, Nicholas Meyer's adaptation of Phillip Roth's "The Human Stain" was very good, and that's a Hollywood film from 2003. Nevertheless, to me most contemporary movies seem like they're written by idiots without a clue.

Josh

Name: Joe Lindsay
E-mail:

Hey Josh-

I'm going through your scripts and reading them. I just finished 'Delirious'. Really funny script! Nice Job again! Why did you write the O-Jays into this script? Were they known for cocaine use and that's why you wrote them in? Or did you have contacts with the band and figured you could get them? Is 'X' a real band? Anyway, 'Delirious' was a joy to read and it would make a fun film. I hope it gets made someday.
Best,
J.

Dear Joe:

We just chose the O'Jays because it seemed funny. And X wasn't a band when we wrote the script, but there was one with that name after that. Those were the days when they had the Hash Bash in Ann Arbor and thousands of people would show up. I went to one semester at U of M, winter 1976, and one spring day I stepped into the diag holding my backpack full of books and there were a thousand people smoking dope, joints, pipes, hookahs, and I said to myself, "Josh," I said, "you're not going to class today." Anyway, I'm glad you liked the script, it's only 21 years old.

Josh

Name: Edgar Johnston
E-mail: ejohnstow@netscape.com

Josh, did you catch the Felix Trinidad vs. Winky Wright fight? (I'm guessing you did, as I know you're a big boxing fan) That shit was insane! Who's your favorite boxers currently in their prime? I'll take Hopkins still anyday.

Dear Edgar:

I can't imagine how you could say "That shit was insane!" regarding that fight. I predicted the outcome, and it went exactly as I expected. Winky is a much smarter fighter than Tito, and bigger, too, so Tito didn't have a chance. I certainly respect and like Bernard Hopkins, but most of his fights are boring. I'm really looking forward to Kostya Tszyu and Ricky Hatton, and Arturo Gatti and Floyd Mayweather. I'll take Tszyu and Mayweather. I like all of those aforementioned fighters, as well as James Toney, Andre Ward, Jermain Taylor, Rocky Juarez, and my brain's gone blank.

Josh


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