Q & A    Archive
Page 142

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

Josh,

You aked for chimes on "Die Hard" so I thought I'd throw my tones in. I rather liked the movie, and thought it far above the action-hero fare which have governed since the mid-80's. I find that Alan Rickman, whether understated as in "Sense and Sensibility" or over the top, as in "Die Hard" or "Quigley", is fun to watch. There were, I thought, some good shots in the movie, as when the exploding helicopter is shown from a distance.

The FBI guys were stupid, and I doubt a vent shaft could hold me up (at 165lbs). I would not class "Die Hard" with "Aliens", but thought it a relative high point for the period and genre. Two and a half out of five is about right; not really a three but better than two.

It goes without saying that the sequels were crap.

John

Dear John:

So, basically, it's good for what it is, but it's not great. It's a high point in the genre of dumbass action movies.

Josh

Name: kevin fentress
E-mail: jorusty2002@yahoo.com

Dear Josh:

would  you  be  interested  in  people  like  leonardo  dicaprio-johnathan  talyor  tomas-jacke  gyllenhaal  or  david  gallgher-  i  was  wounder  becaus  they  are  good  actor  and  i  would  like  to  see  them  at  ther  best.  so  they  can  let  the  vewers  see  what  real  acting  is.  if  it  is  not  to  big  of  a  problem.  do  you  thin  they  can  pass  T.  M. C  TEST  to  get  a  scrip  think  about.

Dear kevin:

I guess English isn't your first (or second) language. I've never seen anyone else double-space between words. It's sort of like an eye exam.

Josh

Name: John
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

What do you think of Robert Bresson's 1966 film Au Hasard Balthazar?

Dear John:

I haven't seen it. In fact, now that I check, the only Robert Bresson film I've seen is "Lancelot du Lake," which was gruelingly dull, although beautifully photographed by the Ghislain Cloquet.

Josh

Name: Karen Kary
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

Do you think plots involving time travel make for good stories. Speaking of, do you think time travel will ever be possible?

Dear Karen:

I'm a filmmaker and not a scientist, but I'd say no. Time travel generally doesn't make for a good movie plots because screenwriters aren't smart enough to deal with the concept. The idea was covered very thoroughly by the sci-fi writers of the 1930s, '40s and 50s, but if you're not smart enough to deal with paradoxes of time travel, as most knuckleheaded screenwriters aren't, then it becomes one of the stupidest plots you can get near. As we came out of the premiere of "Time Cop," which I thought was hammered shit, I asked Rob, the producer, why Jean Claude didn't just go back to when the villian, Ron Silver, was a baby and kill him, then he wouldn't do all of the nefarious deeds he did? Rob replied, "Don't you think we thought of that when it was being written?" I said, "But you didn't do anything about it." That's the problem with time travel stories.

Josh

Name: Bob
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

Why do you think that 'reality' shows like 'Survivor'(tm) are popular?

Dear Bob:

Because most people are as dumb as a box of rocks. If somebody said that rolling test patterns were hip, everybody would be watching those.

Josh

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

Josh,

Here's an interesting question (I hope) for you...

What was the first American film to use expletives? When did it come out?

Dear Saul:

"Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf" in 1966.

Josh

Name: rob
E-mail: habejr@mac.com

Dear Josh,

How depressing is it that my local blockbuster has none of the noire films you recommended me, yet the 1988 version of the lion the witch and the wardrobe is bumped up to new release... In short, what do you think about netflix?

Dear rob:

I was with Netflix for about four years and I feel like I watched every interesting movie they had. But since I got TiVo I did't feel like I needed Netflix anymore and canceled them.

Josh

Name: Jeremy Milks
E-mail: admin@homecomingcreations.com

Dear Josh:

Two questions this time around.

First question: I was jut wondering what you think of "They Call Me Bruce"? It sounds like it could be interesting, and since it's Bruce Campbell I'll blindly see it whether it looks good or not.

Second question: I don't know why this question came to mind, but have you ever played Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon? You seem like somebody who would be really really good at that game.

Also, while Die Hard is my favorite action movie, it's certainly not a deep film. I think I espeically like him getting his feet all cut up and not being able to find a pair of shoes that fit him. I'm weird though. I like the little things.

Dear Jeremy:

I haven't read the script, so I have no idea what "They Call Me Bruce" will be like. No, I haven't played that game, but I'm sure I could get myself within one or two degrees of Kevin Bacon. And I like Bruce Willis getting his feet cut up, too, but it still doesn't make it a great film, nor even a great action film. Hell, I'd take "Aliens" or "RoboCop" over "Die Hard."

Josh

Name: Patrick Coffey
E-mail: coffeypatrick@gmail.com

Dear Josh:

Your story sounds really cool. I know you probably get alot of these questions but i have to ask. I wrote a book called "Cotswold Farm,My Life with the Vise-Grip King, Sex, Lies Money and Boys." It is based on my life with a man since i was 15 years old. It involves weathly well known men and child porn death and rape it is a great story that needed to be told. I am lucky to have such strong supporting evidence. Everyone keeps telling me that it would make an excellent suspense movie. I am now 31 years old and a disabled Veteran retired from the Marines and have finally finished it. I think it would make a great screen play, I unfortunatly don't know how to write one? The front cover is now done, it looks great. Any help with contacts would be helpful

Thanks Patrick Coffey
Cpl USMC

Dear patrick:

What story of mine? Meanwhile, read my structure essays ("The Need for Structure" I-V) and learn how to write a screenplay, which isn't brain surgery, then write your script. I have no contacts to give you, just advice, which could well be useless.

Josh

Name: David Bilbrey
E-mail: bilbreydw@sbcglobal.net

Dear Mr. Becker-

I just have a quick question, and I don't wish to waste your time- I am on venture to digitally restore the "Record Of A Sneeze" to deliver a quality that has never been available before (better than the Library Of Congress' official copy, the "transfer" of which looks terrible), and I thought I had seen every known frame that had been archived from the original take of the "Sneeze." However, to my surprise, the low-res animated GIF on your website of Fred Ott sneezing (http://www.beckerfilms.com/sneeze_anime.gif) contains frames that I am certain are part of no "Sneeze" related documents in the Library of Congress or any other source that I know of. I fully believe that over 20 frames of the animated GIF on your site were recorded after the well known "Sneeze" itself! The original Harper's Weekly article stated that over 80 total frames were captured, but only 45 were archived to my knowledge. So, after all that, my question is:

Could I ask you to possibly reveal your original source for the animated GIF (scans from an old book, or images from another website, etc)? If I could possibly uncover any "extra" frames for my restoration project, I believe it would be a very exciting and historical event, and I would be very willing to credit you with any help you may be able to provide.

Thank you for any help!

David Bilbrey
Los Angeles, CA

Dear David:

I got those 24 frames from the World Book Encyclopedia, under "Motion Pictures."

Josh

Name: ACJ
E-mail: andrucharlz@webtv.net

Dear Josh:

I happened upon your screen treatment about Two-Gun Crowley. I became familiar with him through J.R. Nash's "Bloodletters and Badmen," and have sometimes thought of writing a stage play about him. What were your sources for your treatment? Thanks.

Dear ACJ:

"Bloodletters and Badmen" was where I heard of him, too. It seems to me that I did some more research on Crowley, but it's been 20 years and I can't remember now. Personally, I think his life would make a better movie than a stage play just because it needs all of the gunfire and killing. But I love the idea of a 16-year-old gangster who got the idea to be a gangster from the movies, then has absolutely no regret about what he's doing and remains a tough guy right up to the end. There are some wonderful metaphors in that.

Josh

Name: Christina M.
E-mail: spikeddragongurl@aol.com

Dear Josh,

My family just got a new computer so i can actually get on sites without it freezing. With my old computer I wasn't able to read any of your scripts. I just read "the presidents brain is missing", and "the biological clock". I'd love to see those as movies, it's too bad the only movies they make now are horrible. We seem to be in the dark ages of film, So sad...

Christina

Dear Christina:

I'm glad you enjoyed the scripts. When I wrote "The President's Brain is Missing" it seemed absurd that we would have a dumb, youngish Republican president who paid no attention to the people or the country (Dan Quayle was my inspiration), but my imagination could not go so far as to envision America actually having a moronic lying born-again crook of a youngish Republican president. Fact is stranger than fiction.

Josh

Name: Question
E-mail: ernstyanning@hotmail.com

Dear Josh,

I just ran across a title in the Leonard Maltin book that sounds so tripe, Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder would've banged the author to get the rights for their scam: Chevy Chase in UNDER THE RAINBOW. Did you ever see this in the theater? Apparently its only on video release in Europe.

Also, what did you think of William Wyler's THE MEMPHIS BELLE? It's $30 on dvd, but they say the transfer isn't that good.

Dear Q:

"Under the Rainbow" was a renowned disaster in its day. I have not seen it. Wyler's "Memphis Belle" is a good WWII documentary, but not worth $30. They show it now and then on TCM, along with John Huston's WWII docs, like "Let There Be Light," which was very interesting. If you can get them any of these films cheap on video tape you're probably better off. I have them on tape, watched them each once, then never watched them again.

Josh

Name: Rob
E-mail: habejr@mac.com

Dear Josh,

Just wondering about some union stuff... You're DGA. What does that mean? Does that limit who you can work with to SAG or something? I understand you can't mix a SAG and non SAG film, but as for the other unions, I'm not quite sure how this works... and if its a good thing or a bad thing. Thanks again.

-Rob

Dear Rob:

I was forced to join the DGA in 1993 when I was working on Hercules. Had I not joined I would not have been able to keep working on the show because the production company was signatory to the DGA, meaning they could only hire American DGA directors. However, the DGA doesn't have jurisdiction in New Zealand, where we shot, so they could hire local directors and not have to deal with the DGA, which eventually is all they did because the NZ directors were a quarter of the price of the Americans, without the flight, lodging, per diem, or residuals. So being in the DGA ultimately put me in bad position. Then they began to hassle the crap out of me about making my independent movies, and that's when I realized that they weren't working in my favor. Since then I have gone "financial core," which means they can no longer tell me what to do, even though I'm still a DGA member. Unions, like many things, are a great idea at the beginning, when the workers have no representation, but turn into a bad idea, a sort of a mafia, after they've been around a while, and the point stops being what's best for the workers, but instead becomes what's best for the union. I was very proud to be a DGA member at the beginning, but now I don't think it has any value at all, other than the residuals.

Josh

Name: Paul
E-mail:

Josh

When people write in, and disagree with you, some of them I'm sure move on and find peace with your answer. Others though, seem to want validation for their own opinions and are unwilling to let you have yours define what they like. Is this silly or just me?

Dear Paul:

Everybody's got their own motivations for their actions. There's no reason why my opinion should define anyone else's. An internet forum is a wonderfully democractic thing in that anyone can write and say anything they want. I may not post their question or answer it, but anyone can do anything they'd like. I'm just one more bozo sitting here in Michigan spewing my opinions, which may have some value, but also may not. There, does that validate your opinion?

Josh

Name: Campbell
E-mail:

Hey Josh

Long time. Glad to see you're doing well. I expected no less! Would love your feedback on a film dealing with an aspect of the Holocaust called, THE GREY ZONE. Despite its faults (and there are quite a few problems with it), I have more respect for the film and it's director than I do for Spielberg and SCHINDLER'S LIST. Tim Blake Nelson makes some very risky choices for the film whereas Spielberg (in my opinion) always plays it safe. Whether some of Blake's choices work or not is open for debate but I admire directors who take risks (even if a risk doesn't pay off) rather than a director who caters to the masses. If you've not seen it, be warned. the accents are appallingly inconsistent, if not completely lacking with some characters. I did not like Steve Buscemi in this movie. I think he was miscast. In fact, I think several people were miscast. .and, well, I won't bore you with my other criticisms. Personally, I think Blake's biggest risk was the fact that there is no musical score. There is literally nothing to ease the digesting of the story. Maybe it was a mistake but I respect him taking the risk. Your insights will be much appreciated.

-Campbell Cooley (former Xena bad guy)

Dear Campbell:

Good to hear from you. I watched the first 20 minutes and bailed out on "The Grey Zone." Yes, it's very risky piece of material, and from what I saw, he wasn't pulling it off. But if one is going to choose a subject matter like that -- the Sonderkommando, the Jews forced to work in the crematoria who herded the Jews in, hauled the dead bodies out, then dug out their gold teeth -- you better have a damn good reason to put me through that, and I didn't feel Mr. Nelson had one, other than just showing it to me. But I could be wrong since I didn't see the whole thing.

Josh

Name: joe
E-mail:

Hey Josh,

One more thing about Die Hard. You categorized someone who liked the film as simple minded. It brings up an important film issue.

Obviously I disagree with that label. Because I think that a film needs two things. A) It needs to be universal in theme and B) it needs to be unique enough to stand apart from everything else we ever seen.

Of course therein lies the problem. How to do both at the same time. Die Hard while not bringing anything particularly new to cinema as a whole does have a universal theme: a husband estranged from his wife seeking reconciliation. Someone in Japan, or Russia or Tahiti can relate to this theme. Thats why it works.

And its why say, Steven Segall movies are trash -- theres no theme, no character arc. Its just a guy kicking as and taking names.

Do you make this distinction in your writing or your reviews of others films?

Joe

Dear joe:

Certainly, and you're absolutely right. That's why I'd give "Die Hard" two-and-a-half stars (out of four); it is better than your run-of-the-mill actioner, but not by a lot. It's definitely better than the Steven Seagal, or Jean Claude Van Damme, or Arnold Schwartzenegger crap, but, in my humble opinion (and anyone else can chime in here and either back me up or not), it's not a legitimately good film, something that I would give three or more stars and would make my favorite list, like say "The Dirty Dozen" or "The Great Escape" or "Papillion," or even "Airport" or "The Taking of Pelham One Two Three."

Josh

Name: Will
E-mail: wdodson52@hotmail.com

Dear Josh:

I finally got a chance to watch The Taking of Pelham One Two Three. Matthau was great, of course. I loved the line he has to the undercover cop, after Robert Shaw electrocutes himself. The undercover cop has long hair, and he says, "We'll have an ambulance here in no time, miss. Everything's gonna be okay." Wonderful. The sad part was the DVD box advertised the movie as "the inspiration for Quentin Tarantino's color-code names in Reservoir Dogs." Sad. Just sad.

Dear Will:

It's not Tarantino's inspiration, it's where he stole them. Being inspired by something and stealing are two different things. I also love the running gag of "It's moving," "What is?" "The train!" The screenplay was by the terrific writer, Peter Stone, who won an Oscar for "Father Goose," a film I just loved as a kid, and still like. He also wrote: "Charade," "Mirage" and "Six Degrees of Seperation."

Josh

Name: Danielle
E-mail: shw9w1@hotmail.com

Hey Josh,

Have you seen John Frankenheimer's RONIN with Robert Deniro and Jean Reno? I came across the dvd in a bargain bin and it turned out to be a pretty cool movie. There was something about it that seemed like a thriller of yesteryear -- THE FRENCH CONNECTION (only more entertaining) or THREE DAYS OF THE CONDOR (only not as terrific).

The story is basic and familiar and the third act is disappointing, but it's set in pretty France, the characters are charming, and the whole movie has an intelligence to it that is rarely seen these days -- especially in the action genre. Deniro's role was a perfect fit and Jean Reno was so impressive that I'm now on the lookout for more of his work. I can't understand why RONIN was consigned to the Walmart $4.99 pile.

Dear Danielle:

I thought it was sort of a generic nothing of a movie and a dull, underwritten part for DeNiro. It's certainly down in the bottom half of John Frankenheimer's career.

Josh

Name: Jeremy Milks
E-mail: admin@homecomingcreations.com

Hello again Mr. Becker. I was just wondering, since you told Franklin that you mostly listen to classic rock stations anymore, what you think of Aerosmith (my favorite band). I had a friend tell me recently that "I like Toys in the Attic Aerosmith, but hate the new stuff." and I've discovered a lot of people feel this way about them. Personally, I dig old and new Aerosmith.

Just wondered what you thought of 'em.

Jeremy Milks

Dear Jeremy:

I've never liked them, although "Dream On" is a good song. Generally, if Aerosmith comes on, I'll change the station.

Josh

Name: rob
E-mail: haberjr@mac.com

Hey Josh,

I've recently gotten into film noire. The newest few I saw were Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, and The Ice Harvest. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang was amazing. I've also seen Maltese Falcon and Touch of evil. Do you have any recomendations, comedic or not? Thanks again.

Dear rob:

How about: "The Asphalt Jungle," "The Postman Always Rings Twice" (1946), as well as the Italian version, "Ossessione" (1942), "Double Indemnity," "Ace in the Hole," "Where the Sidewalk Ends," "The Killers" (both 1946 and and 1964), "Out of the Past," "This Gun for Hire," "The Big Heat," "Cornered," "Three Strangers," "Raw Deal," "Side Street," "Desperate," "Railroaded," "Follow me Quietly," "Trapped," "Armord Car Robbery," "The Narrow Margin" (1949), "Act of Violence," "Kiss of Death" (1947), "The Set-Up," "Brute Force," "Thieves' Highway," "Night and the City," "The Big Clock," "Boomerang" (1947), "Panic in the Streets," "Detour," "Gun Crazy" (1949), "They Live By Night," "In a Lonely Place," and "Tight Spot."

I met Ginger Rogers near the end of her life (she was in a wheelchair) at the Houston film festival in 1992, then stood in a long line to get her autograph. As each and every person got to her they said, "You were great in the Fred Astaire films," and she dutifully said "Thank you" and signed the autograph. When I got there I said, "You were great in 'Tight Spot'." Suddenly, her face lit up and she smiled, saying, "Oh, 'Tight Spot' was a good picture, wasn't it? And Eddie Robinson was just a joy to work with. Thank you very much."

Josh

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

Josh,

Thank you for answering the post about Composers - good choices. Anyway, I just finished watching Road to Perdition (not a bad film, but Conrad Hall's work was gorgeous)and I was wondering what your favorite Paul Newman performance was. I've personally always loved him in Lumet's The Verdict and in Nobody's Fool the most. What's your opinion on these films? Anyway, thanks for reading.

Dear Siegel:

Everything's Bests/Worsts these days. Regarding Paul Newman, I'd say my favorite is "Hud," then "Somebody Up There Likes Me," "The Hustler," "Cool Hand Luke," "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid," "The Verdict," "Sometimes a Great Notion," "The Sting," "Fort Apache, the Bronx," "Absence of Malice." I thought "Nobody's Fool" was okay, but not great. "Road to Perdition" was beautifully photographed junk. If you haven't seen any of those films, I'd say run don't walk to see them.

Josh

Name: joe
E-mail:

"Different strokes for different folks. You think I'm missing the big picture, I think you have simpleminded taste if you seriously believe that "Die Hard" is legitimately great in any way, shape or form. It's a two-and-a-half star movie -- not bad, but nowhere near great. To me, Alan Rickman is playing a one-dimensional, stereotyped character, Mr. Euro-Trash."

Hah-hah. Not sure how thinking Die Hard is a great action flick makes my taste simple-minded.

Pretension aside, I'd just like to point out that that analysis of Rickman is, I think, a misunderstanding of the character. Why he's a great villian is because of how worked out his plan is. Its so thoroughly worked out that when the FBI arrives you think he is nailed, but thats exactly what Rickman wants, since only the FBI could open the vaults. Every step of the film he is ahead of the hero, which makes the suspense very engaging. Calling him a euro trash cliche is focusing on his physical appearance rather the actions of his character.

Joe

Dear joe:

You win. "Die Hard" is obviously a much deeper, more intelligent film than I gave it credit for, and I'm clearly just not smart enough to understand it.

Josh

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

Josh,

I do agree that being creative is not about making piles of money from your art. I think that most people who have a desire to create do it until they can't anymore regardless of how marketable it is to anyone else.

I believe this comes from inside and either you have it or you don't.

I do feel there is a difference when it comes to being an artist and making a living as one which is what most people are trying to do in the film & music business. Unfortunately, these two artistic endeavors have come to a point where money has superseded the actual artistic process where as it used to be just part of the process.

Scott

Dear Scott:

My friends and I didn't go into film because we thought we'd get rich, we went into film because we love movies and wanted to try to make great films. Most everyone that's in film now is there for the dream of riches. Movies are now viewed as an alternative to the lottery. That's why they announce the grosses every night on the news, just like the winning lottery numbers.

Josh

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

Dear Josh,

I recently sat down and watched Sidney Lumet's "12 Angry Men" for the third or fourth time, and am always impressed at how well it's blocked and shot. Lumet was good at the 'tight spot drama' (look at his others films including Dog Day Afternoon) and he managed to keep up intensity and drama in what could have been a lifeless, limp film, all through intelligence and reason. I was wondering though, if now that films aren't subject to the same moral coding, this could be true today. Do you think our ability to resort to nudity, profanity and action/violence hinders our ability to tell good stories? There are few stories before 1967 which could be classified as hard PG-13 or R films, and still were intense and memorable.

Dear Brett:

I don't think freedom hinders storytelling. As an example, they would never have made "The Last Picture Show" or "Midnight Cowboy" before 1967, with their constant references to sex, and various sex scenes, so freedom made those stories viable. The problem is falling back on things like violence and sex "because they sell." The violence in "Bonnie and Clyde" isn't there because "violence sells," it's a key part of the story, and when the violence finally erupts, 2/3 of the way through the film, it's very shocking (this is the moment when Buck gets shot in the face). The bottom-line is that if you're telling a good story that happens to contain sex and violence, that's fine. If you've put sex and violence into your story because you think that's commercial, you're making shit. Meanwhile, Sidney Lumet did a brilliant job with "12 Angry Men," much better than William Friedkin's cable remake, which wasn't bad, but was entirely hand-held, so it lost all the beauty and style of Lumet's version.

Josh

Name: Franklin
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

I think I saw you post something up about not liking the state of music these days either, but I was just wondering if there are any bands out right now that you like? Or at least don't hate.

Coo,
Franklin

Dear Franklin:

Other than rap, which I hate, contemporary music isn't hateful, it's just dull and unimaginative. I listen to the Adult Alternative channel occasionally, and none of it is offensive, but none of it is particularly memeorable or unique, either. Then I'll switch back to the Classic Rock channel and hear something like "Sympathy for the Devil," and wonder once again why anyone isn't writing songs as good as that anymore, including the Rolling Stones. Nobody seems very inspired anymore.

Josh

Name: rob
E-mail: habejr@mac.com

Dear Josh,

What is your take on the whole Howard Stern FCC crap. I don't particularly like his show, but the whole "freedom of speech, except..." thing is really bugging me, and I know your not to keen to conservative beliefs... Also, you should check out http://www.pythonline.com/plugs/idle/index.shtml It's the "FCC Song" by Eric Idle...


One more quick question, when you got into filmmaking before it was professional, did people always ask you for random film favors, like to make a kid's sports highlight tape for college or make an ad for your school to show to all the incoming freshman... Its upsetting and I'm seemingly incapable of saying no... Thanks again, all your answers are always helpful.

-Rob

Dear rob:

That hasn't stopped. I was just asked recently to tape a Bat Mitzvah, which I politely turned down (they ended up getting a 10-year-old to do it, and he did a good job). Regarding censorship, I'm entirely against it and believe if you don't like what you're watching on TV or hearing on the radio, change channels. I don't really care for Howard Stern, either, but it's folks like him or Larry Flynt, the ones who push the limits, who are truly guarding our freedoms. But the FCC, being part of the federal government, is utterly corrupt. These are the schnooks who eased up on the rules so that Clear Channel could buy half the radio and TV stations in the country, then we were told this would "give us more choices," yet another bit of Orwellian double-talk. At least Colin Powell's idiot son isn't in charge anymore.

Josh

Name: joe
E-mail:

"No, I didn't care for "Die Hard." I really don't like action movies where no matter how many times the bad guys shoot right at the good guy they never hit him. This is one of those films where Bruce Willis keeps out-running machine guns, which I find deeply stupid."

You're missing the big picture with that kind of comment. Its Hollywood -- heros get shot at, but don't die. Anyway, thats been happening for two thousand years of storytelling.

What makes Die Hard a great action film is that it manages to have a character who must solve his emotional problem to solve the physical problem in the story. Of course its sad that a building block of storytelling such as character arc is missing from most films. But instead of complain about films that don't get it right, I applaud the ones that do -- such as this one.

McClane must realize how much his wife means to him, and that he must meet her half way before he can muster the resolve to take down the terrorists.

Its a well written film because it has a main character who, while still dodging bullets, has a believable, emotional character arc. And one of the all-time GREAT villians in ALan Rickmans Hans Gruber.

ciao.

Dear joe:

Different strokes for different folks. You think I'm missing the big picture, I think you have simpleminded taste if you seriously believe that "Die Hard" is legitimately great in any way, shape or form. It's a two-and-a-half star movie -- not bad, but nowhere near great. To me, Alan Rickman is playing a one-dimensional, stereotyped character, Mr. Euro-Trash. And just because a script thankfully does have a character arc doesn't automatically make it good. As I've said before, you can follow all of the rules of screenwriting and still write a bad script. Nor has John McTiernan shown himself to be much of a director with anything he's done since.

Josh

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

Dear Josh,

Who are among your favorite film composers and what are your personal favorite scores? Who is your favorite up-and-coming composer? And finally, what is in your CD player/on your Ipod right now? Just wondering. Thanks.

Dear Siegel:

The CD in my player right now (I don't have an Ipod) is the Rolling Stones Mix CD I made. I have no favorite up and coming composers. My favorite composers are: Bernard Herrmann, Jerry Goldsmith, Elmer Bernstein, Miklos Rozsa, and Joe LoDuca.

Josh

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

Josh,

I re-read your essay "The Lifespan of Creativity" and you do bring up some very good points about aging and creativity in the film business and as a whole

I do feel that the death of creativity is not all that linear and throughout one's life, there are always peaks and valleys, and some people such as myself are late bloomers meaning that my creative spurt is much stronger now than when I was younger (I also don't consider myself old though and I hope I still have more left), and I also have the discipline to achieve most of what I set out to do creatively.

I do find that in the film business and more so in Rock & Roll, age has much to do with the appeal of artists and their longevity.

There are exceptions of course and I think Cinematography is one of them. maybe it is the curiosity level that keeps the flood gates open for DP's, but if that is true, the same could be said for directors writers as well.

You also bring up a good point that I also feel is true which is creativity really has much to do with the "See what I can do!" idea or the curiosity angle as well.

Although, I believe that creativity is certainly a form of personal expression, there is an element in music and in films that relies on the connection between the audience and the creative output.

In the big scheme of things it is really self-serving actually and I believe that if people believe in you as an artist or accept your creativity, then it feeds your ego to create more than if nobody cares and that may have something to do with aging filmmakers not creating anymore because it isn't that important to them to beat themselves to death when nobody wants to make anything they have to offer, or as you said about Coppola in your essay, maybe that was it for him. Who knows?

Also, I don't think youth culture always has the most interesting things to say, and in fact they are mostly immature and misguided ideas.

Growing old is a curse and a gift all at the same time, but our culture celebrates youth more than it does age and wisdom.

So, I guess my question is when do you know your creativity has peaked if it is such a self serving instrument?

Scott

Dear Scott:

How do you know if you're any kind of artist at all? How did Van Gogh know he was any good? His brother only managed to sell one painting of his in his whole lifetime, and not for very much money, either. Why did he keep going? But if you're somehow still compelled to do your art even if no one is buying it, then your creativity hasn't run out. Our society has bogusly switched creative inspiration with money. If someone's not paying you, you're not really an artist. Or if what you're doing isn't a big hit, then you're not really an artist. It's all bullshit. If you sit down and paint everyday it doesn't matter if no one is buying your paintings, you're an artist. As long as one feels personally compelled to do their art, their an artist. I don't think it matters at all what the audience thinks.

Josh

Name: Question
E-mail: ernstyanning@hotmail.com

Dear Josh:

I reference to IF I HAD A HAMMER: When you spend $100,000.00 on credit cards, where does the money go?

Dear Q:

To buy film stock, to pay the lab, to pay the car rental place, to buy food, to pay people's salaries, etc.

Josh

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

Josh,

You bring up a good point about directors and screenwriters not making anything good when they are much older in life.

Why do you think that is?

I agree that some DP's do some of their greatest work when they get older and I am befuttled that writers and directors don't have the same track record.

You would think that like photography or cinematography, that writing and directing would afford the same endless learning and creative expansion which would become stronger as one ages?

I have always held the deepest respect for people who were much older than me and even when I was in my teens, the person I looked up to the most was my grandfather becasue he always had interesting stories to tell which seemed endless.

I have said this before, but one of the reasons that I wanted to be a Cinematographer was that I felt I could work until I was in my 70's.

I remember James Wong Howe's famous saying about a year beofore he died and I paraphrase; " as a Cinematographer I am still learning everyday and I have just begun to better at it". Coming from a man that shot over 100 films, that is a pretty humbling thing to say and it has always given me hope.

Scott

Dear Scott:

It's an intriguing question, and one that I attempted to explore in my essay "The Lifespan of Creativity." Ageism is rampant in Hollywood, and they just don't like to hire older people because supposedly younger people are more in touch with the youth audience. But why bother to keep coming up with new ideas, and go to the trouble of writing them, when no one will buy your scripts? And directing is a high-pressure job, and probably not terribly suited to the elderly.

Josh

Name: pete chen
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

I sometimes feel ostracized because of my taste in movies. I like to watch movies with merit, substance, and thought, but most of them are from another era. Few of my peers seem to know of this great movies' existence, let alone appreciate them. I like directors like Hitchcock, Wilder, Sturges, and Zinnemann. I guess what I'm getting at is, do you ever feel isolated in your feelings about cinema? It would be nice to know others share my viewpoint.

Dear pete:

Yes, I do, and have for a long time. Most people just accept whatever slop is offered to them, then pretend it had merit. The reality is that most people are kind of dumb and have no taste. If everyone is eating McDonald's, then they'll just eat it, too, then pretend it's Filet Mignon. Stick to your own guns, and ignore the idiots. Clearly, you have good taste.

Josh

Name: Chris
E-mail: shenaniganz@hotmail.com

Dear Josh:

Did you ever think about shooting Alien Apocalypse here in NZ. I know it wasn't up to you but what do you think it would have been like. Still too expensive maybe?

Dear Chris:

I did suggest it, but the savings weren't enough. What would it have been like? I'd have gotten better beards and wigs, and the supporting actors probably wouldn't have had to be looped. It's a better crew all the way around in NZ.

Josh

Name: Barham
E-mail: reverendweather.@hotmail.com

Dear Becker,

Did you like the original Die Hard? What about the other two? Just Curious. Also, what is your favorite "action" movie? Ciao.

Dear Barham:

No, I didn't care for "Die Hard." I really don't like action movies where no matter how many times the bad guys shoot right at the good guy they never hit him. This is one of those films where Bruce Willis keeps out-running machine guns, which I find deeply stupid. The next two films were even worse miserable crap. I suppose if you care to term "The Bridge on the River Kwai" an action movie, then that's my favorite. I also liked "Unforgiven" very much.

Josh

Name: John Mitchison
E-mail: jmitch_595@fsmail.net

Hi Josh

I just read the what you said about the original Star Wars ruining the majority of Hollywood films dispite the film itself not suffering from lack of character importance or story structure. So why didn't the films afterward keep this in mind.

Dear John:

How do I know? Probably, George Lucas spent a lot more time on the first script than on any other. The first film was a script he wrote out of love, the next five he made for money and nothing else.

Josh

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

Dear Josh,

I really enjoyed your story outline for "Centurions" -especially the noble Romans Nomen Temporarius and Coitus Interruptus. I'm sure you did a double-take during the first episode of "Rome," given that it dealt with two comrades retrieving lost eagles for the imperator among the barbarians. Had that ever come to fruition, did you imagine it as a feature film? A tv-film (like for cable?) or what?

Couple of other quick notes: not that you need a pep talk from me, but even if "Alien" was your worst film by your own high standards, it's not like you had a lot of control over things like the tight schedule, the low budget, the dubbing, the wigs, etc. It certainly entertained a lot of people, and hopefully is making you guys lots of $$ from the dvd sales.

In other news (since I know you don't really follow the Nielsen ratings) you might be amused that the umpteenth airing of the 10-year-old "Mosquito" *still* managed to attract a million plus viewers a few weeks back, and made Sci-Fi's top ten for the week.

And on the writer/director of "Saw 2" - that is sort of an urban myth. He had been shopping his script around to mainstream industry people for several years, and finally got noticed when the original "Saw" began getting buzz at Sundance. They thought they could capitalize on the similarity, and then decided to turn his (originally unrelated) script into an actual sequel. So it would be like if Sci-Fi had bought AA from you, then turned the termites into apes and told you to do a Planet of the Apes sequel.

And finally, on aging directors - I recall seeing Hawks, Cukor, and Walsh in that "Men Who Made the Movies" series, and all were sharp as a tack, but well into their 70's. (Sheesh, Sean Connery is 75 after all.) In fact, my memory may be betraying me, but I seem to recall Hawks was on the set of some film that obviously never got finished, since he died not too long after, and I know "Rio Lobo" from some years earlier was his last film. Which wasn't exactly his best film, or Wayne's, but certainly entertained me.

Regards,

August

Dear August:

I did do a double-take during that first episode of "Rome." Their use of a lost eagle was utterly ficticious, whereas my use of it is true. What's particularly amusing at this moment is that a military historian at Hebrew University in Jerusalem just wrote an essay stating that George Bush's invasion of Iraq is the dumbest miltary manuever since Augustus lost three legions in Germany in 9 B.C., the Battle of Tuetoburg. I saw this story as a feature film, but that's how I see most everything. Meanwhile, I actually watched "Mosquito" this time around, having not seen it in years, and they cut out most of the sex scene I'm in, which was okay with me. And the sad bottom-line with movie directors is that almost no director in history has ever made a good film past the age of 70. DPs do good work past that age, as do composers and conductors, but not directors. There are also damn few screenwriters older than 65.

Josh

Name: Tim
E-mail: Nansemondnative

Josh,

I was going to shoot it in two different formats to do something I have never done before. That something I have never done would be to submit a film to a film festival. The ones I am looking at are sponsored, at least in part, by Kodak.The Super-8 festival is coming up in the first part of February at Rutgers University .The 16mm festival is in March in Calgary.

That's my motive for wanting to shoot the story in two different formats.

I guess or have at least a basic understanding that the big name festivals you have to be invited to.

There are some that you can submit films to as well.That's my plan for this short so far. At least I can look back and say I had the balls to attempt it.

I believe in this little short of mine to attempt such a thing. If I get some recognition then that is great. If not, no sweat off my nads Josh. I'll just try again.

A Super-8 film was featured prominently recently at Cannes Josh so I would have to imagine it's still a viable medium. True you probably won't ever see it at the local 10 but it's not going away.

Because of that moon shot discussion I found that Kodak makes both 250 and 500 speed Vision film for Super-8.The price of film and developing makes it attractive for small-time chumps like me.

However, to one of your points about shooting two half-assed versions of my short. I know exactly what you are talking about.This short of mine has no dialogue in it Josh. Everything is done by facial expressions and body language.Other things count on sound and the audiences imagination. The black and white and color expresses emotion at critical moments.I do wonder if this guy is going to be able to be just as intense a second time around.

Everything in this story, as far as structure, I learned from you. It just all came together this time in fluid thoughts and I put it down on paper.

My apologies for the long response. I know you hate that. This was more like a one on one response to your observations.

Have a good day.

Tim

Dear Tim:

I still firmly believe you should only do one version. Shoot in 16mm and put everything you've got into it. Make it absolutely the best film you can possibly make it, then you'll know you did your best. A super-8 version is just not going to mean anything. One of the biggest super-8 film festivals left is the one in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and it's pathetic and always has been. Super-8 is for kids; 16mm is for adults who are serious about filmmaking. And if you haven't shot much 16mm in your life, to do it properly that process alone will probably overwhelm you.

Josh

Name: Mo
E-mail:

Hey Josh.

I come in peace. I was just wondering if you had to choose between being just a director, or just a writer, which one would you pick?

Silly question, but one that has been kickin' my nuts lately.

Mo

Dear Mo:

They're entirely different things. Unless you're on a TV show, and most shows don't use the same directors all the time, you won't ever be able to direct all the time. So, even if I got to direct a film every year, which I certainly don't, I'd still have most of the year off waiting for the next gig. Whereas, writing can be done any time, anywhere. One thing feeds the other. But if I never got to direct again it wouldn't change my life very much.

Josh

Name: Richard
E-mail: tuxedomask_477@hotmail.com

Dear Josh:

Well it's very simple I just wanted to say what a wonderful job you do with film, I'm majoring in it and you, Sam and Bruce are a major inspiration to me. As for the question I watched Alien Apocolypse and I thought it was funny. Although it was kind of weird could you possibly give me some insight on it like what was your goal for this film? Personal or whatever you know the usual :-p

Richard

Dear Richard:

My goal was to get a movie made and pay my bills. I would like, if humanly possible, to just shoot my own scripts from now on, and I was able to achieve that with AA, even if it was a fifteen-year-old script that we ended up shooting in Bulgaria. Beyond that, I kind of think it's my worst movie so far.

Josh

Name: John
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

What's your opinion of F.W. Murnau's Sunrise? For years I had heard that it was the greatest silent film. In 2002, it ranked at #7 on the Sight and Sound critics poll, and at theyshootpictures.com it is ranked at #10. I finally got to see it and was rather disappointed. It was pretty enjoyable (I liked the long-take aesthetics)but I didn't think it was very compelling. I personally think Greed and Sherlock, Jr. are the greatest silent films, though there many I still need to see (I plan on watching von Sternberg's The Docks of New York tomorrow night.) What do you think about Sunrise?

Dear John:

When I finally saw "Sunrise" I was also disappointed. It's beautifully shot and directed, but it's not a very compelling story and George O'Brien is just awful, a really terrible performance. I didn't really care for "Greed," either. I think Erich Von Strohiem may be the most overrated director of all-time. I don't think there's one good cut in that whole movie. Regarding silent films, I'll take Buster Keaton's "The General" or Joseph Von Sternberg's "The Docks of New York" or King Vidor's "The Big Parade" or Carl Dreyer's "The Passion of Joan of Arc," or even Charlie Chaplin's "The Kid" over "Greed" or "Sunrise."

Josh

Name: Rob
E-mail: habejr@mac.com

Dear Josh,

Hypothetically, if one were to send a script into a production company out of the blue (I know this rarely works, but lets pretend it did), how would the person send it (e.g., contents of package, to whom, etc.)? I was just wondering because a guy who graduated from the school i'm going to attend wrote and directed Saw II, and supposedly he just sent in his script out of the blue. Thanks again.

-Rob

Dear Rob:

Sounds like nonsense to me. Urban myths. If you don't know who you're sending it to, you may as well just throw it in the trash. Go ahead and try it, but films don't get made that way.

Josh

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

Josh,

Thank you for your feedback.

I plan on using Black and White and a few frames of color to show emotion from a single character.I hope that doesn't sound stupid and I hope I can shoot it like I'm seeing it in my mind.

I was sitting at the Truck Gate the other day and was just overcome with this idea for a short story.

I wrote the story in about 35 minutes and then rewrote it again two times. It's short enough where I could do that effectively.Then tonight I went through and turned it into a shooting script.

I plan on shooting it twice. Once on Super-8 and once on 16mm.That might sound a little dumb but that's what I'm going for.I have it estimated at around 12 minutes long.

Just an additional note off the beaten path. I just read two books , Sci-Fi, called "Shambeau" and also "Northwest Smith" both by C.L. Moore. Ever heard of her Josh?

Science Fiction is not usually something I delve into but I enjoyed reading both of these books immensely.

I will say C.L Moore is , in my perceptions, an awesome writer, and the $2.00 I spent on these books at that yard sale was well worth it.

Have a good one.

Tim

Dear Tim:

I've never heard of C. L. Moore. I don't see the point of shooting your film twice. Shoot it once on 16mm and do it right. One good version is much better than two half-assed versions. Super-8 will do you very little good these days, whereas on 16mm you can do anything you want with it, including making a top-quality video transfer, which isn't possible on super-8. Anyway, good luck.

Josh

Name: Joe
E-mail:

Hey Josh,

If you HAD to name the single most important factor for framing a shot, what would it be?

As Hitchcock said, would it be the emotional impact created in the viewer? Or is it the theme of the film? Character motivation? Continuity of shots? Visual style? Or what....

Joe

Dear Joe:

I guess first and foremost is how well does it convey the necessary information in the shot, then how does it cut with the shot before it and the shot after it, then is there anything special about it and could there be without losing its main importance, which is conveying the necessary information, or disorienting the viewer. The point is keep the viewer's interest focused where I the director want it.

Josh

Name: Question
E-mail: ernstyanning@hotmail.com

<<If you ever get a chance to see the documentary, "William Wyler Directs," where they interviewed him the day before he died, he's completely on top of his game at 81, 13 years after he retired. >>

I actually have that on my computer right now (along with THE LOVE TRAP). Yes he looks pretty friendly and likeable (and they have the story behind it in A TALENT FOR TROUBLE). Let's see, they hired a woman to direct that so he wouldn't give her any trouble (although he parted his hair the wrong way one shoot, and didn't tell them till the end so they would have to reshoot). It could've been better, but you do get to see what kind of man he is just by the way he talks, and I did learn that the red dress in JEZEBEL was actually black satin. As for the LOVE TRAP, it had me going up till it turned to sound for no good reason. Have you seen any of his early silent westerns? Apparently, HELL'S HEROES is for sale on ebay for $10 much like ACE IN THE HOLE.

Dear Q:

I've got "Hell's Heroes" on tape. It pretty good, particularly for being such an early talkie. It's the best version of "Three Godfathers," I think.

Josh

Name: Question
E-mail: ernstyanning@hotmail.com

<<I thought that Axel Madsen bio really sucked. "A Talent for Trouble" was much better. Wyler wasn't all that old when he made "L.B. Jones," he was 68, which I don't think is "very old." >>

You read a lot of books and I don't so I'll just take your word for it. Otherwise, I didn't see much difference. 68 is only two years short of 70. My grandfather knows what its like to be in pain every night and he's ready to die at the next operation. He can't even sleep in his own bed anymore. My other grandmother is in her early 70s and she's in the hospital every now and then.

For Thanksgiving weekend, I made it to the magic year of 1967, and got to witness that evolution of film through IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT, BONNIE AND CLYDE,

Dear Q:

There are people who are 10 or 20 years old who know what it's like to be in constant pain. But my mom and dad are both in their mid-70s and don't seem "very old." If you ever get a chance to see the documentary, "William Wyler Directs," where they interviewed him the day before he died, he's completely on top of his game at 81, 13 years after he retired. I'm just reading Norman Jewison's new autobiography so I ought to have more info on "In the Heat of the Night" soon. Oddly, Jewison is not Jewish, which was a real surprise to the UA executives when they hired him to direct "Fiddler on the Roof."

Josh

Name: Tim
E-mail: NansemondNative

Josh,

I wanted to take the time to thank you and everyone else who contributed feedback on getting those night time moon shots on film. I thought it a very informative discussion.

All of that was greatly appreciated and believe me it has been filed.

Another technical question for you Josh.

I recently saw this very cartoon like movie entitled "Sin City".It's been out a while but I just saw it. Silly movie but unique.

What was different about it was that everything was in black and white except the characters which were in color.

I suppose if you wanted to try and pull something like this off on an amateur level you would first shoot it on film and then transfer it to digital and edit all the color there? Chromakey type thing maybe?

The idea of a individual or object in color over a black and white background I find very interesting.

Any feedback you could provide in this area Josh would be greatly appreciated as it always is.

Have a good evening.

Tim

Dear Tim:

Mixing black and white and color is a pretty tired technique at this late date. It just reminds me of those Advil commercials where everything's in B&W except the yellow pill. But you wouldn't have to shoot film to achieve this effect. If you shot color (film or digital), then desaturated it in post to B&W, you could then use the Da Vinci (or something like it) to put the color back in wherever you wanted it. The Da Vinci is a piece of equipment used in post-production that allows you to pinpoint specific parts of the image and alter them, like lightening very dark shadows or just people's faces. The best use of mixing color and B&W, in my opinion, was "JFK," where Oliver Stone had a purpose for it, the color being factual, the B&W being speculation. To just mix it for the sake of it, however, means nothing.

Josh

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

Josh,

I agree completely. It's a case of"Free-trade" versus "free trade", the first being the forcible, unidirectional opening of markets; an extension of the old imperial concessions system. The United States has been particularly egregious in Latin America.

Free trade, on the other hand, has worked very well in Asia, probably because of the combination of Japan's economy and China's military keeping the US in check.

It's a shame that words get co-opted. Liberal and Conservative retain their classic meanings in academia but have become "Irrational" and "Dumbass" in popular discourse. Free-Trade is another such example.

John

Dear John:

This administration particularly has resorted to co-opting words and turning them completely around from their meaning. "The Patriot Act," as an example, is unquestionably the least patriotic thing to ever occur in this country. The Patriot Act is a full-fledged attack on the U.S. Constitution, and undermines about half of it. "Operation Iraqi Freedom" was about occupying their country, stealing their oil, then forcing them into a political system like ours. "No Child Left Behind" was about how to leave every child behind. "The coalition of the willing" was about who could we force economically and politically into backing us. Etc.

Josh

Name: Jason Roth
E-mail: jason@visualnoiz.com

Hey Josh,

Is your book coming out soon? Just wondering since Christmas is on the verge. If you're doing book signings out there, I wouldn't mind the 2 hr trek to Detroit.

Picked up 3 W. Wyler movies (Detective Story, Big Country, Best Years of Our Lives) to check out on my next 2 days off. I've only seen Ben Hur out of all his films, time to catch up!

Best,
Jason

Dear Jason:

I can't imagine it will be out by Christmas since it hasn't gone to the printer yet. But when it does come out, I can assure you that it'll look pretty good. I recommend taking a break between those movies. Each one is a full meal.

Josh

Name: Question
E-mail: ernstyanning@hotmail.com

<< At least once Wyler knew he was past it, which took him one film to realize, he quit.>>

Yes, but he was also very old and in bad health. One night in the hospital, he was in so much pain, he just wanted to die. John Huston told him if he held out a little longer for the doctors, and he still felt that way, he would help him. Also I noticed, one thing that was in the Axel Madsen book, that wasn't in A TALENT FOR TROUBLE was, after L.B. Jones came out, the town began to despise and harass the author who lived there. He became so paranoid that one night, when someone parked in his driveway, he freaked out and shot the person in what he thought was going to be self defense. It turned out it was a black marine making out with his girlfriend.

I also like the bit that Wyler would watch Bruce Lee movies at the drive in with his hearing aid off, and the speaker cranked up.

P.S. I just noticed PLANET OF THE APES and 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY were released around the same time. What do you think's going to happen first: Hiltons in space or Planet destroyed by paranoia?

Dear Q:

I thought that Axel Madsen bio really sucked. "A Talent for Trouble" was much better. Wyler wasn't all that old when he made "L.B. Jones," he was 68, which I don't think is "very old." Meanwhile, I watched "Unconstitutional: The War Against Our Civil Liberties" last night on Sundance. If we actually give the asshole motherfucker Republicans three more years in office, we'll all be living in a gulag.

Josh

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

Josh,

I would like to chime in about "The Who". The incident with Pete and Jimmy at the Monterey pop fest was a little dramatized by myth. Pete wanted Jimi to make the decision and Jimi wanted Pete to make the decision, so they bascially flipped a coin and Jimi won the choice, and the rest is history.

I watched a great interview with Townshend and he was saying how both he and Jimi admired each other and he was shocked that Jimi had even listened to "The Who's" recordings. He said that there was much more myth surrounding that incident than fact and he was honored to earn such respect from Hendrix, he loved Jimi.

"The Who sell's Out" is a good record and of course "Who's Next" is a great record, but also played out. I would take "Quadrophenia" as my favorite Who album. I think the story and music still hold up well, where as "Tommy's" story does not, but some of the music still does.

I think "Quadrophenia" is a story that can be applied to any generation and that album holds fond memories for me. I think it is the pinnacle of Pete's writing and "The Who's" studio performance. I haven't listened to it in about 7 years, and I just started listening to it this past month on my iPod and it sounds great!

It makes me want to go and buy a used Vespa scooter.

Scott

Dear Scott:

Well, I disagree. I think "Quadrophenia" would have made a much better single record, and it has an entire album worth of filler. I don't think it really gets good until side four. Regarding the Hendrix/Townshend embroglio at Monterey, if you watch the complete "Monterey Pop" film (they added back all of the outtakes), there were quite a few people who witnessed the confrontation, and apparently Pete Townshend really pitched a fit. This was both The Who's and Hendrix's American debuts, and Townshend was going to be the guy who smashed guitars, not Hendrix. I think Townshend remembers it differently because he's ashamed of himself. And also because Jimi Hendrix blew them off the stage. I don't think The Who came into their own until Woodstock two years later.

Josh

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

Josh,

In preface, I did not see the Sixty Minutes program on super-sized houses, though I've read many articles on the subject recently. I bought my current house for about $80,000 ten years ago. It is now valued at $120,000. That's a 50% appreciation in ten years, which beats most investments. Moreover, house payments are tax-deductible. In short, there are legitimate financial incentives for larger houses.

As for free-trade, the alternative is tarrifs and subsidies. Sugar is the prime example, but examples abound. African nations have been accusing us of hypocrisy for years precisely because we will not lift tarrifs or abandon subsidies to agriculture, which means they cannot sell in the US, the world's largest market. If not free-trade, then what?

John

Dear John:

"Free trade," as it's presently used, is one of these Orwellian phrases that means the opposite of what it says. We don't really want to set up free trade with anyone, we just want to be able to make the people of the world have to buy our goods. The whole "free trade" movement, backed by the World Trade Organization, is a scam. The second you get any small country to borrow money from the International Monetary Fund, they are then stuck with every "free trade" obligation in existance, which in most cases quickly destroys their economy. "Free trade" has almost completely destroyed the economy of Jamaica, amongst many, many other countries. Three-quarters of the population of Jamaica were farmers until they borrowed money from the IMF and signed the free trade agreement, then once they couldn't stop subsidized agricultural imports from the U.S., with which their farmers can't compete, it promptly put all of their farmers out of business. Now you can't get locally produced fruit or vegetables, nor can you get fresh milk because imported powdered milk is cheaper and they can't stop the imports. The same thing goes for Argentina, and many other South and Central American countries. Free trade is a great idea as long as it's done on a level playing field, but it's not.

Josh

Name: Chris
E-mail: shenaniganz@hotmail.com

Dear Josh:

PT Anderson is basically a hack but I don't really see Kaufman as one.

Anyway for some reason I've been dying to see " The French Connection".
Did you like that movie? Looks like my kinda thing.

Any news on "The Horribleness"?

Dear Chris:

"French Connection" is okay, but it's way overrated. That it beat "A Clockwork Orange" and "The Last Picture Show" for Best Picture 1971 still pisses me off. Since I didn't like "Adaption," "Eternal Sunshine" or "Dangerous Minds," nor was I particularly impressed by any of the writing, either, I guess I'm not a Charlie Kaufman fan. Regarding "The Horribleness," I'm just waiing for contracts to be signed, but that's not a small step.

Josh

Name: pete chen
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

Did you see the "60 Minutes" story that aired tonight on the increase in house size in America the past 30 years? Some of the prodigal stuff I saw, man it made me want to throw up. No wonder other countries despise us.

Dear pete:

Yes, I saw it. Not only that, I'm surrounded by similar neighborhoods (mine's not like that). To me it's just a symptom of our entire society having jumped the shark. America peaked, and is now on the slide. The barbarians are pounding on the gate. The Muslims have a point, America is the personification of greed, gluttony, and capitalism gone out of control. With the lose of our entire manufacturing base, as well as many of the lower-end jobs, the upper class won't have all that excess money for very long. And this whole free trade agenda were pushing on the rest of the world, which is good for us and bad for everyone else, will ultimately blow up in our faces. It already is.

Josh

Name: John
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

What's your opinion of the album The Who Sell Out? I think it's the Who's greatest record and, other than Sgt. Pepper, the best album of 1967.

Dear John:

I don't have it, nor am I terribly familiar with it. But that was before The Who had any decent material, when the highlight of their shows was "Summertime Blues." That's the year they played Monterey, and Pete Townsend and Jimi Hendrix got into a fight backstage about who would go out first, and who would smash their guitar. The bottom-line, though, was that Hendrix blew The Who off the stage because he already had all of his best material, and The Who didn't have anything yet (they had "Magic Bus," not a great song). It wasn't until the next year that Townsend really started writing, and then he came up with Tommy which changed the course of their fortunes. I personally think that "Who's Next" is their best album.

Josh

Name:
E-mail:

hey Josh,

I'm guessing that you are definately not a fan of P.T Anderson and his films but I was wondering if maybe you had seen or heard a little about his movie "Punch Drunk Love". It isn't a very good movie even though I got a few laughs out of it but i couldn't help but notice so many similarities between it and "Lunatics". Both main characters have emotional issues, both main characters are strange and happen to fall in love with a strange lady, the parents of both guys are worried about them, both guys become stronger and fight for the one they love when she is in danger. Also both main characters ring a phone sex line too and that becomes a kina big part in the story. This post might seem a bit pointless but it was just something I happened to notice.

Also, are you a fan of any of the movies that Charlie Kaufman has written. I know that you don't like "Eternal sunshine of the spottless mind". I have yet to see "Confessions of a dangerous mind". I enjoy watching his weird yet cool movies because they are kind of a break away from all those overused stories that keep coming out as are your movies because they are origional. That's all I want to be as a writer...origional and creative.

thanks.

Dear ____:

I can't stand P.T. Anderson, nor can I stand Charlie Kaufman, both of whom seem like utter hacks to me.

Josh

Name: Question
E-mail: ernstyanning@hotmail.com

Dear Josh,

I noticed I almost have all of Wyler's GOOD films on dvd. Now I have the unexplainable urge to shell out $30 for THE LIBERATION OF L.B. JONES on dvd, just to see it. Talk me out of it. Just how bad is this movie?

Dear Q:

It's certainly not worth $30, nor even owning, as far as I'm concerned. It's a lame, half-assed version of "In the Heat of the Night." Another film that came out at the exact same time that's very similar, and better (even though it's not all that good, either), is Ralph Nelson's ". . . tick . . . tick . . . tick . . ." with Jim Brown and Fredric March. At least once Wyler knew he was past it, which took him one film to realize, he quit.

Josh

Name: Beth
E-mail:

Dear Josh,

thank you for the suggestion of "The Best Years of Our Lives." I thoroughly enjoyed the movie. In fact the character of Homer reminded me of you. Though a good movie, a thought struck as to why it was a best picture. The fact that it dealt heavily with an hot topic of the time, post-traumatic stress, probably gave it the popularity it needed to win the Academy award. What do you think?

Beth

Dear Beth:

Well, let's see . . . It was brilliantly written and directed (both Oscar-winners), it has a perfect cast, incredible photography, is about an important issue that's handled so well that it's still powerful 60 years later. Quite frankly, I think it's as good as movies have gotten in their short history. In fact, I would go so far as to say "The Best Year of Our Lives" deserves its Best Picture Oscar more than any other film to ever win Best Picture. How's that?

Josh

Name: Ben S
E-mail: shippybs@hotmail.com

Good morning Josh, hope everything is dry and intact upon awakening! Lol. Anyway I've written in a couple of times before but not to often. You've answered a great deal of questions through the years. I've read all the archives and found many of my questions already answered so it seems pointless to ask you a question you've already answered 300 times.

However, here's one I don't think I've seen asked and luckily it just dawned on me. If I'm rambling it's just the weed.

Are there any words that you intentionally try to avoid when writing a script? For instance whenever I hear an actor use the word "Besides" it seems to cheapen the whole conversation. Do you know what I mean? Generally everything that follows that word seems to sound like it was tacked on to make the conversation seem longer.

That probably is the dumbest thing you've ever heard but I digress.

Last thing regarding lighting. I'd like to know what you would do, or have done, to light a nightime exterior (at night) over a long distance. Take for example in the Evil Dead when Ellen is running through the woods. How would you light a tracking shot like that if you wanted a long continous shot to cover say 50 or 60 feet? Obviously on board camera lighting is out.

I'd appreciate your thoughts, and thanks for listening to mine.

"Have a pleasant and restful evening"

Dear Ben:

I just got called on using the word "which" by the proof-reader on my book. Apparently, I used it over 300 times in the last quarter of the book. To remove them we had to go on a which hunt. I do like the word, I just abuse it. Regarding lighting at night, you need a lot of bright lights. On "Evil Dead" we had one big 5K (5,000 Watts), several 2ks, and four or five Pars, which are like big car headlights, and we set them up all over the place in the woods with a trillion feet of cable. Then we used foggers to fog the whole area. It was a major pain in the ass, and cold, too.

Josh

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

Dear Josh,

I'm wondering what you think of the work of Neil Labute assuming you've seen some of his work ("Your Friends & Neighbors", "The Shape of Things", "In the Company of Men")?

On a related note I'm curious if you're a fan of live theatre? Ever consider taking a stab at writing a play and taking it to the stage?

Rich

Dear Rich:

Live theater doesn't interest me. Neil Labute is absolutely terrible; truly a shit writer and director with nothing worthwhile to say.

Josh

Name: Jeff Alede
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

What do you think of Matt Damon's acting chops? Personally, I thought he was terrific in the two "Bourne" films. I know you hated the filming techniques, but you have to admit, the man can act.

Dear Jeff:

Matt Damon? Come on. He's a nobody, with very little screen presence and not much acting ability. And at least that first "Bourne Identity" (which is a remake), sucked. Nor should he have gotten an Oscar for his screenplay for "Good Will Hunting."

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

Happy Thanksgiving! My question is two fold; First off what do you really think of Sci Fi pictures (the company)? I have seen some really good films and some really really bad films on the channel and wanted to get your opinion before sending them anything. When they accepted your screenplays, obviously you had some control as director but as the writer did they try to change it or make suggestions that could've made the films crappy or hokey or did they stay true to the writing? Like I said they have had some great things but some of the others...gag. Secondly about Bulgaria, I know you shoot there because of costs but what do you think of it as a place to visit? Thanks, have a good one. Duffy

Dear Duffy:

I dealt very little with Sci Fi Channel. Bruce and I made our films for a production company that had made other films for Sci Fi. The scripts went into Sci Fi, then there was about a two year wait before they finally got made (keep in mind, these scripts both had Bruce Campbell attached, and there was a still a two year wait). I got some script notes from Sci Fi very late in the game, like right before I left for Bulgaria, so I just ignored all of them. After I got over my initial shock, I quite enjoyed Bulgaria, specifically Sophia, which is a very lively city. But nobody speaks English, and the signs are in Cyrillic, which all look equally as alien as every other. There were many cafes, which I love, as well as many pretty girls, which I also love.

Josh

Name: rob
E-mail: habejr@mac.com

Dear Josh:

so, I was browsing the imdb pages the ither day, and I came across something very interesting. A new film called Poe. The film is based on the life of Edgar Allen Poe (a hero of mine) and stars Robert Downey Jr. as the lead. It was cool, until I saw who the writer/director was... Sylvester Stalone... How dissapointing...

Dear rob:

I've heard about it. Stallone has been talking about making a film on Poe for years. Robert Downey, jr. seems miscast to me. It should be more like Adrien Brody, a thin tall guy.

Josh

Name: Lee
E-mail: lee.price@musicradio.com

Hey Josh

Get this. There's a 'director' here in the Midlands in the UK who shoots on DV. On his last film (backed by East Midlands Arts Council primarily) he had two cameramen to cover each scene, and he said he didn't direct them; he treated the cameramen like the actors: i.e. let them improvise.

(Apparently he shot over 90 hours of footage for a ninety minute film!)

You can see this lack of planning in the editing; it's all over the f*cking place and at one point he cuts from two identitcally framed shots which just jars.

This director got good performances from his cast, but visually this film is a mess.

I met the producer and showed her some of my 16mm films and to say she was underwhelmed was an understatement. She told me to lower my sights. Bitch!

And she backed THIS guy. I don't think it even computed what I'd managed to achieve on 16mm with such low budgets.

I just have a terrible feeling that digital technology is taking all the art/craft away from film-making. We'll end up with directors like the one above; glorified amateur theatre directors shooting hundreds of hours on DV.

The director's Chris Cooke and the film's One For The Road, BTW.

Slightly bitter in the UK

L :-)

Dear Lee:

It's not the equipment or the technology, it's the people. The director might well have done a worse job shooting film than he did with DV. But nobody's got anything to say anymore, nor do they seem to have any stories to tell. The arts at this point in history are truly backwash.

Josh

Name: Gary
E-mail: 4673hmf@yahoo.com

Dear Josh:

According to a site called www.fundrace.org -- where one can find out about political contributions made during the last presidential race, Sam Raimi donated $400 to George Bush's campaign.

I know all of this is totally none of my business, but I'm glad you guys as are no longer tight.

Dear Gary:

Really? You see what happens when people get rich, they become right-wing conservatives. It happened to my dad, too. When I was a kid and he didn't have much money, he was a Democrat; when he finally made some money he became a Republican. Being a Republican means: I'm looking out for me and my money, and fuck you! That's why it's such a bad idea to let rich Republicans run the country, they don't care at all about poor people. Republicans believe that poor people bring their standard of living down. Rich Republicans, particularly the ones like G.W. Bush who inherited all of their money, sincerely believe that poor people are poor because they're lazy. That's how the truly knuckleheaded comments, like Barbara Bush's, "This is working out really well for them" are made in utter sincerity, like "Let them eat cake."

Josh

Name: Bob
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

On "They Were Expendable", I thought it did drag a little in the middle part of the movie, I might have even dozed off in parts, but I still liked it. As far as Robert Montgomery being a dull, well I thought that he portrayed how people really are, which is usually dull, nevertheless a good officer. I thought some of the retreat tactics were a little hard to follow which contributed to length of the movie.

As far as not knowing the fate of Donna Reed, I think this was intentional. Just like the old man on his farm, and the guy that was bumped off the plane, we don't know what their fates will be. But we have to move on just the same as painful as it is, and not knowing. I think that adds to the realism of the movie. In real life, I read that the Donna Read character was based on a real Army Nurse POW who survived the war. I guess she didn't like the way the character was portrayed and sued. I think she either lost or settled.

Dear Bob:

Not knowing what happened to secondary characters like the old man is one thing, not following up on a lead character seemed like a mistake to me. I didn't like the whole "We shall return" ending anyway, because by the time the film was made they knew the ending and there's no reason not to give it to us. As far as Robert Montgomery being a realistic bore, he's still the lead character of a movie, and dull leads are a severely bad idea. I would recommend at least ten John Ford films ahead of that one. If it was the story of people eating so much that they get fat, it could be called "They Were Expandable."

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

OK, not to belabor the point much more. You're right of course, adding NDs will give you a higher f-stop, ie stopping down.. the terminology can be confused on this, which is what I did. Anyway, I still don't think you'd need an ND for a moon shot using a DV camera, but perhaps I'm wrong. Certainly shooting directly into the sun would need a number of NDs. And regardless, the point is that even getting the right exposure with a DV doesn't mean that the image will be impressive. The fact that DV cameras are faster than many film stocks has nothing to do with quality. Since the moon is a time-lapse shot, I see no reason not to shoot with a higher-end digital still camera. Many digital stills have time-lapse features and the quality is leaps above mini-DV and HD cameras. The visual quality we can get with those is probably another 5-10 yrs away from the video market.

And to get back to movies for a moment, I think it's very odd that now in a time when literally anyone can make a movie, when the tool has been completely democratized, nothing but shit is being made. There are significantly more movies being made than than at any time in history. It sort of proves the point that the truly talented artists will find their calling one way or the other, and lowering the bar to let everyone in hardly means better art.

Dear Jim:

Yo! What you said. But why does a moon shot have to be time-lapse? And you really do need the NDs, honestly. It doesn't seem like it would be all that bright, but once you zoom in on it unless you stop way down you'll never get the real detail of the green cheese and the man's face. It just comes out a round white circle.

Josh

Name: Will Dodson
E-mail: wdodson52@hotmail.com

Dear Josh:

I think I agree with you about "Laura." I wanted to like it because of its reputation, and because I like Gene Tierney and Dana Andrews. I thought Clifton Webb was great, until his sudden character shift which made no sense to me. I could see him doing everything except become a crazy shotgun killer, you know? Anyway, it was all right, and I didn't feel like I'd wasted my evening, but I doubt I'll see the movie again.

My 2,621st movie of my adult life was "The Marriage of Maria Braun." I only knew of Fassbinder by reputation until finally renting the BRD trilogy. Have you an opinion of Fassbinder? I know little of him other than these three movies, and his reputation for rushing through movies (which makes me nervous that he's sloppy). But I did think "Maria Braun" was pretty good. The final scene where Maria realizes that her entire enterprise was a complete sham because her husband and lover had made her a contract commodity was pretty powerful. The trope of Sirk-style melodrama to enact a commentary of post-Hitler Germany leant a certain irony to things. Haven't seen Veronika Voss and Lola yet, but Maria Braun at least was solid. I could believe Maria had it in her to be amoral and pragmatic.

Dear Will:

Fassbinder gets me down. He was such a big deal for a while there, and I kept going and going to his movies and not really liking any of them, although there's something there in all of them. He made something like 28 features in ten years, then quite understandably died. But he never moved me, and ultimately, that's what I'm looking for.

Josh

Name: Jeremy Milks
E-mail: admin@homecomingcreations.com

Dear Josh:

Hey, did you just say that we agree on something? Wow. See, I'm not all bad.

I really didn't like "Crouching Tiger." I didn't like how much damn time was spent saying "look, the characters walk on trees!" Just, bleh, how the hell did that get nominated for any Oscars?

Yeah, I felt bad for Alan Rickman in "Sense and Sensibility" too.

"The Ice Storm" is probably my favorite of the two. I really like the scene where Katie Holmes passes out from the drugs and her head lands in Tobey Maguire's lap. Then again, I also liked how all the relationships of the characters worked. I kinda liked how there were so many affairs happening in the story.

Also, I don't know if this makes me weird or not, but I liked the shot of Elijah Wood's body sliding down the road after he got electrocuted ... that was a cool shot.

Also, regarding some of the stuff being said about shooting in DV and how most young filmmakers today don't plan their shots, I just wanted to say that I do agree that that's just lazy. Even though I'm reduced to shooting in DV (and not even the really good kind), I still plan my shots. I seriously wish I had a film camera though.

Jeremy Milks

Dear Jeremy:

That was a very cool scene where he gets electrocuted. I wasn't expecting it at all. His body sliding down the icy hill was creepy and a great image. Meanwhile, regarding DV, I think you can make anything look cool if you put enough time and thought into it. I am constantly inspired by the work of Vittorio Storaro, and one of the things he frequently does can be applied to film or DV. Storaro is always finding ways to put colored light into his shots, often by making the windows stained glass or just gelled, or having anything in frame that creates colors or shadows, like weird lampshades, or light coming through strangely-shaped things. If you add well-executed camera moves, it should look good no matter what format it is.

Josh

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

Josh,

I just wanted to add that you could also use a combination of a polarizer and ND filters to shoot the moon to get some really interesting exposures and shading if you do it right, since a circular polarizer is denser on one side than the other (about 2 stops).

Thanks for mentioning bracketing the shot as I forgot that too, but that is what I did when I shot the eclipse on 35mm. You need to bracket the shots and it is easier with DV, since you can see what you are doing right there, although getting the detail of the moon is much harder with DV.

I am not sure Jim quite understands the use of the ND filters for shooting the moon has nothing to do with trying lessen the depth of field, although, they are very useful in that respect with a different scenario, the ND is as Josh says, allows you to have the ability to stop down even more.

You have to think of it as letting less light into the lens to compensate for the moons brightness. You don't open the lens up, you just keep the sucker stopped down all the way and use the NDs which in turn will eventually bring the moon's brightness down and bring out the detail. The advantage with video is you won't have the problem that Josh did on "Cleveland Smith" which is seeing through the lens as the video viewfinder will be much brighter.

If you are in manual mode on your DV camera stop the lens all the way down and add an ND .3, ND .6, or an ND .9. You may have to use a combination of two of these filters or all of them as I can tell you the moon is really bright!

The only problem you will face with video is that if the ND's are not truly neutral which only the expensive glass one's tend to be, you will have a color shift that will lean on the warmer side or greenish side. This can also happen with film do to reciprocity, but it is easily correctable in video with the white balance by white balancing with a colored gel over the lens with the same color as the shift, then manually white balance. That should work. You may have to experiment with different density gels and colors.

Scott

Dear Scott:

Ditto.

Josh

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

Hello Josh - Sorry if I was a little bent out of shape in my last "Ask the Director" E-mail to you. In sending E-mails to this website, we're really just guests in your forum, and the rules of decorum should always apply. I was just being defensive - for which I apologize.

Regarding the checkers/chess thing, I guess I'm just truly curious about your opinions on modern films that are (while still not good) not *as* bad as others. It's a slow painful process to change, it was slow and painful for Hollywood to squeeze all life and art out of filmmaking, and getting it back is going to be even worse - so I'm always trying to look out for areas that are improving, no matter how slightly. Glimmers of hope to latch on to and all that.

I love what I do, sell-out or no, but I do long for a day where I can look forward to movies again outside of a work context, and I'm in a better position to positively change things than most that I know.

I found your reponse hypocritical partly because of a misunderstanding on my part of The Wizard of Oz, and partially due to the rather stilted and angry nature of the reply. Nonetheless, I withdraw the comment. I do worry, however, that in being unwilling to try to change things from the inside (the only place real change may be possible) you're not helping the solution - but contributing to the problem. Although given how you've inspired me over the year and a half that I've been reading your website, I must admit in your own stubborn way you're making some difference there.

To sum up, sorry, keep on keeping on, best of luck with your various gigs out there - and I'll try to bug you about adult Hollywood movies that I feel are trending better, and leave you alone on kids ones.

Oh, and I had a film question as well. Regarding David Lean (Writer of BoTRK) - I never found he could write women very well. I've heard rumors that he was a profound misogynist, have you ever noticed that trend in his writing of directing?

Dear Matt:

David Lean wasn't a writer. First he was an editor, then a director (yes, I know he wrote the script for his last film, "Passage to India," his only writing credit, which just proves my point). I never heard that David Lean was a misogynist. I've read several books about him and he seems to have been a real gentleman.

Josh

Name: Christina M.
E-mail: spikeddragongurl@aol.com

Josh,

First, Happy Thanksgiving, I'm thankful for you and the site. Second, what did you think of Alice's Restaurant? And third, What are you doing for Thanksgiving?

Christina

Dear Christina:

I like the record "Alice's Restaurant," I didn't much care for the movie.
I'm going to friend's house.

Josh

Name: Question
E-mail: ernstyanning@hotmail.com

<<And "Hidden Fortress" is the basis for "Star Wars." I agree that "Ran" has a decent story, colorful looking characters, and atmosphere, but I disagree that it's not boring. It luckily picks up as it goes along, but it wouldn't be difficult to trim an hour out of that film. And there's no strong lead to care about, like all his films with Toshiro Mifune, who was incredibly watchable. Oddly, so was Takashi Shimura, with his long horse-face.>>

Actually, its the two theives in HIDDEN FORTRESS that inspired R2D2 and 3-CPO (they also have the same opening where they split apart and are captured). The princess is a coincedence. But I thought carrying the gold in the sticks was fucking cool (and tossing them in the dance of fire). I thought Toshiro Mifune's best role so far was Kikuchyro in SEVEN SAMURAI. I love that he walks in there with a family scroll he snatched off a kid, and later they name him after the child saying it suits him well. And they crack him over the head while he's drunk. Really I thought it had a heavy ending for the one Samurai teen that never killed anyone, but observed. He watches his hero shot down in the back, then he breaks down crying no more at the end and I suspect the girl left him by that closing shot (I think that would make a good ending). Unless I missed something, I think the cowardly farmer killed one more guy than this kid did (remember, he speared a man in the attic and was frozen stiff).

Dear Q:

Lucas took the entire story of "The Hidden Fortress," including the three lead characters, and the two second-leads. It's as big of a lift as "The Magnificent Seven" is to "Seven Samurai." Personally, though, I don't have a big problem with that when you're changing genres. Samurai films made good westerns, and westerns made good samurai movies. I love Toshiro Mifune's performance with his back in "Yojimbo," but he's pretty much good in everything, except "Midway," that is.

Josh

Name: David R.
E-mail:

Josh, I read your forum daily, and I must admit that I agree with you about many things. Indeed I, too, suffer from a general malaise about the state of modern filmaking, but I am excited for a few films this holiday season: "Walk the Line", "Syriana", and "Munich", to name three. They appear intelligent stories with real themes and, importantly, do not cater to kids in any way. I know you have not liked much of anything Spielberg has done, but "Munich" but appear to be a return to empathasis on story and structure rather than special effects. "Syriana" is particularly pointed and appropriate considering the events in our world today, not to mention sporting a solid cast. I hope that you can share some of my enthusiasm, and I look forward to hearing your thoughts.

Your fan,
David

Dear David:

The NY Times review of "Walk the Line" sure didn't make it sound very appealing. They kept using "Ray" as the example of a good biopic, which they felt "Walk the Line" didn't come close to. Well, "Ray" wasn't very good, so that's a real condemnation. Meanwhile, if Spielberg made the film, it's crap. A leopard can't change it's spots. And anytime Spielberg gets serious, his shit gets even worse.

Josh

Name: Bob
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

What did you think of "They Were Expendable" after seeing it again? I think it holds up for today, and it's a good contrast for today since war at that time was not the expectation of just running over small countries with our far superior technology. Our then enemies, were armed to the teeth, and the stakes in winning or losing WWII were life or death.

P.S. I liked Harold Russell in The Best Years of Our Lives too. One scene I'll never forget is when he smashes the window in the garage. Great acting. And the scene where he his showing his girlfriend how he uses his arms was moving also.

Dear Bob:

I must say I was even less impressed with "They Were Expendable" this time around. First of all, Robert Montgomery is a grimacing stick-in-the-mud; second, the best scene in the movie is the first attack, where they take all the boats into the harbor and zig-zag, taking down three planes. It never gets that good again, and that's always a big a problem with anything, the shooting of one's wad too early. It's also very episodic, and kind of keeps lurching from one section to the next. Also, it's just too long. The writing isn't that great, either. There's a long scene in the hospital with a dying sailor whom we've never really met. And we also never find out what happened to cute young Donna Reed. Was she captured? Is she hiding in the mountains? Why Peter Bogdanovich thinks this film is an "essential" I do not know, it's certainly lesser John Ford.

Josh

Name: Jeff Alede
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

Are you a fan of any of Philip Kaufman's films? I liked "The Unbearable Lightness of Being", but that's it. However, I have not seen "The Right Stuff" yet.

Dear Jeff:

No, not really. I think he's a lumpy director without much sense of pace. "The Right Stuff" has a number of interesting aspects, particularly the cast and the photography, but the direction isn't all that good. I kind of liked "The White Dawn," although I haven't seen it since it came out in 1974, and I thought his remake of "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" was all right.

Josh

Name: ashleigh
E-mail: yadkins@cinci.rr.com

Dear Josh:

I would like to star in a movie and i was wondering if you had any open jobs for a 14 year old female i have plenty of experience i went to barbizon modeling agency and now i am with john casablanca modeling and career center please email me back if you have any answers for me thank you for your time.

Dear ashleigh:

14? You're not even old enough to get a job.

Josh

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

Josh, just to clarify what Scott said earlier - Most DV cameras (and probably all HD cameras) have manual irises. Not sure why you would need ND's, I can't imagine that you would to do much more than stopping down a bit. ND's are good for controlling the depth of field, which is meaningless when shooting the moon (and you may even want a higher stop to get a sharper/more detailed image, not a lower one that NDs will give you). The real problem with using DV to shoot something like the moon or the sun is the lack of latitude - film has much more latitude than DV. Any details in DV that are a stop or so away from your primary exposure will quickly drop off into zero recorded information, whereas with film you can get many stops of exposure around your primary. In other words, shooting something hot like the sun or moon on film will give you much great detail than DV, which will represent it like a single shiny bright disc with little to no shading or detail.

And it is disturbing how these little cameras are now an excuse for many young directors to not learn anything about lighting or getting things right the first time. The medium encourages handheld, natural lighting, and long (and many) takes. There's something to be said for the higher-level of craft needed to make a film over a video.

Dear Jim:

An ND filter won't give you a lower f-stop, it will give you a higher one. The ND would be if you were stopped all the way down -- meaning closed down, which is the highest f-stop, like 22 or 32--and needed to stop down even further. So an ND is the right idea. It's like when I shot "Cleveland Smith" with 400 ASA film outdoors. I couldn't stop down enough, so I had to use NDs, which made viewing through the eyepiece almost impossible so I set up the shot, stopped down and basically just aimed the camera like a gun. I agree, I don't think the ease of using DV cameras is helping young filmmakers at all. Clearly, nobody seems to think it's hip to plan their shots anymore, and if you don't plan your shots you're simply a lazy, shitty filmmaker.

Josh

Name: Question
E-mail: ernstyanning@hotmail.com

Dear Josh:

Yes I agree THE LAST SAMURAI was junk. But since that is what everyone's idea of a good movie is today, and since the style of acting is so unlike a comic book movie, of course a comic book fan would fall for it. Also I watched RAN last night. It's not boring, its got a decent story, colorful looking characters, atmosphere. Thanks for making fun of it in BUDS, otherwise given your current opinion, I probably wouldn't have seen it. Also, I think Kurosawa made better films in the 50s than the 60s. That's why I picked IKIRU over SANJURO (good god, the plot sounds like its been repeated a million times, it'd have to be a hell of an entertaining movie to make up for it). I thought THE HIDDEN FORTRESS was really funny too (but not better than YOJIMBO). It made me laugh everytime the thieves tried to fuck Toshiro Mifune over and had to come groveling back.

Dear Q:

And "Hidden Fortress" is the basis for "Star Wars." I agree that "Ran" has a decent story, colorful looking characters, and atmosphere, but I disagree that it's not boring. It luckily picks up as it goes along, but it wouldn't be difficult to trim an hour out of that film. And there's no strong lead to care about, like all his films with Toshiro Mifune, who was incredibly watchable. Oddly, so was Takashi Shimura, with his long horse-face.

Josh

Name: Jeremy Milks
E-mail: admin@homecomingcreations.com

Dear Josh:

I liked Sense and Sensibility a lot. I thought it was a really good film. Definitly one of the better Ang Lee films, in my opinion, though I also liked Lee's "The Ice Storm" I think Ang Lee should stick with these types of movies as opposed to his extremely horrible "The Hulk"

But yeah, I liked Sense and Sensibility. I actually saw the film because of my love for Alan Rickman movies, and I wasn't dissapointed.

What are your thoughts on the film?

Jeremy Milks

Dear Jeremy:

It's a red-letter day, I agree with you. I liked "The Ice Storm," too, and I also agree that these are Ang Lee's two best films. I kind of liked "Eat Drink Man Woman," as well. But Alan Rickman is very good in "Sense and Sensibility." My heart broke for him. I think Emma Thompson did a particularly good job writing the screenplay. I think "Crouching Tiger" was an unfortunate turn in his career.

Josh

Name: Will Dodson
E-mail: wdodson52@hotmail.com

Dear Josh:

I don't think I've written since purchasing "If I Had a Hammer"...which seems like a year or two back now. I think I was one of the first. Anyway, I also sprung for the Alien Apocalypse DVD, and though I wouldn't say it's my favorite of yours (that would be "Hammer," followed by "Running Time") it was solidly written and the irony of the ending made the whole thing worthwhile. A movement/revolution is corrupted pretty much as soon as people become involved, and a messiah becomes a symbol of a movement contrary to his intentions. AA is a good example of how a B-movie can make significant social criticism amidst green blood and scantily clad models.

But I'm writing about a few documentaries: "The Weather Underground" and "Guerilla: The Taking of Patty Hearst." Both were entertaining, though the latter moreso because it had Patty as a central representation of how having money means never having to risk it all for revolution. Anyway, the themes of each have tangential connection to AA: movements being corrupted, its leaders disillusioned, etc.

Both weave new interviews with former participants in with news footage pretty well. Sometimes the music scores seem a little much, but overall the history is well-explored, the handling is fairly even-handed, and the themes are compelling.

I'd go into more specific reviews, but I'm already overlong. Perhaps I'll see what you think of "Laura" (Preminger's 1944 noir) after I watch it this evening.

Take care.

Dear Will:

I'm always on the lookout for good documentaries and I haven't seen either of those, so thanks. As for "Laura," it's not one of my favorites. I'm just not a fan of Otto Preminger, although "Laura" is certainly one of his very best films. Clifton Webb and Vincent Price were both very good, as was Joseph LaShelle's lighting and David Raksin's score, but the film never really caught me. It could just be me, but I've seen it a few times and it keeps not working. I'm glad you got something more out of AA than the green blood and bad beards.

Josh

Name: Question
E-mail: ernstyanning@hotmail.com

<<To respond to someone's question, the Great Escape very definitely happened, because the movie was based on a book by one of the guys who took part in it.>>

I think this person misread the question, but thanks anyways. What I meant was, in BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI, the doctor tells Saito there are too many witnesses in the sick bay, he will never get away with calling it a mass escape. And I was curious if he had knowledge of the great escape and the fifty (or perhaps the writer of the book did). Perhaps that was just wishful thinking.

I saw watched this wonderful scene transition tonight on ZORBA THE GREEK. Zorba asks Alan Bates where he was that night he came back (at the widow's getting laid), while Zorba fiddles with an instrument. As we see the look on Alan Bates face, the music Zorba plays gets better and more intense till we cut to the widow threatened at her house by the funeral mob. Stick that in your pipe and smoke it.

K

P.S. I know why everyone bugged you about BATMAN BEGINS. Instead of making a comic book movie, they ripped off Edward Zwick's directing style from THE LAST SAMURAI and all the comic book fans mistook it for art. Well that's not good enough, I want Akira Kurosawa back, can somebody please dig him up and re-animate him? Hey Josh, do you recommend KAGEMUSHA or RASHOMON?

Dear Q:

I'm not a fan of either "Kagemusha" or "Rashomon," I found them both boring. I actually liked the American version of "Rashomon," "The Outrage," with Paul Newman and Edward G. Robinson, better than the Japanese version. I really don't like any of Kurosawa's films after "Dersu Uzala." As he got old his films got slower and more ponderous, and they weren't terribly snappy to start with. I believe that Kurosawa's best period by far was the 1950s and '60s, with "Seven Samurai," "High and Low," "Ikiru," "Yojimbo," etc. Meanwhile, "The Last Samurai" was garbage.

Josh

Name: Josh Cryer
E-mail: josh@fakeshemps.com

Dear Josh:

So, did you see Serenity? (I googled your Q&A and there was no mention of it so I thought it was safe to ask.) If so, what did you think?

Dear Josh:

Didn't see it.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

That's a lot of interesting assumptions about me in your response regarding my film-watching habits.

I'm far from a sucker for the big corporations, Josh. I'm their representative. I'm a harbinger for this stuff, not a schill. I am partially instrumental in creating the culture that you hate - and am intentionally reaching out for yours and others beleifs and thoughts regarding the materials created that it's my job to produce, and then to sell. Far from a pawn, I consider myself a well paid and happy associate and participant in the corporate creative culture, and I see a lot of room for improvement. To continue the chess analogy, I'm closer to a bishop - an important if specifically utilized piece of the machine, and you're playing checkers.

Regarding your comments about not knowing how others think or feel, yes, that's strictly true. But the study of others perceptions, and their apparant reactions and how that relates to both my own and their internal feelings and emotional attachments is a well-documented and respected field of knowledge. Anthropology and Psychology are both entirely based on these principles - as such I find it worthwhile and important to experience what affects others even if it isn't necessarily going to impact me in the same fashion - particularly for my job. Marketing wouldn't be effective if one could not predict the effect of media on others.

I also pursue my own tastes, but I care more about people and their reactions than film as an artform - (which clearly this website is more about.)

Good on you for sticking to your guns on what you think is good or bad, I do the same. Simultaneously, how do you deal with your hypocritical standard regarding children's films? You discuss, often and praisingly, other films that were clearly made for children, but were well done pieces of art. Wizard of Oz jumps immediately to mind.

I brought up a children's movie that I consider to be not nearly as terrible as most of the films out there, and worth discussion upon its merits. You shot it down ignobly saying that you don't give a damn about children's movies! That's a lie Josh, you do care about children's movies, only the one's you saw when you were a child.

Don't you think children today deserve to watch good movies that are for them? I'm not saying the Harry Potter movies are necessarily good choices, but they're a damn sight better than Star Wars, and worth discussing on their merits. Also, people who make movies will inevitably also make movies for children (like the Wizard of Oz), and they might need help from you on making them better and more worthwhile films that actually help turn around the tide of mediocrity you so loathe by instilling within children the same deep love of films you have.

Dear Matt:

A very even-tempered response. I'm an adult, and I've been one for over 30 years, and I don't have to pay attention to kid's stuff. Once I passed the age of about 12 I stopped watching kid's movies. That I still have a fondness for a few of them from my early youth does not make me a hypocrite. That's a simple-minded attack and nothing more. I may have enjoyed Dr. Suess's books as a kid, but that doesn't mean I have to keep reading them and discussing them for the rest of my life. You may well be a "happy associate and participant" in the corporate culture (I drop your use of the "creative"), but it's the force that has destroyed quality movies, and removed the art from filmmaking. The big coporations are to movies what McDonald's is to food -- making a product that you don't need teeth to eat. Just as a little note, "The Wizard of Oz" was NOT made as a kid's film. It was an A-movie from MGM, directed by Victor Fleming, who did not direct kid's movies (who also directed "Gone With the Wind" that same year), and it was nominated for Best Picture, and kid's films were not nominated for Best Picture in those days, not until the late 1970s, that is.

Everyone can buy it or not buy it about "Wizard of Oz," but it's true.  It's like saying "Cats" was a kid's show, not that you can't take kids to it, but it's not.  But even if "Oz" is a kid's film, it was such an oddity for MGM to make an A-movie with a kid's theme, and treat it like an adult film.  The give-away is getting Harold Arlen and E. Y. Harburg to write the music, two top-end, jazzy song writers, who would continue working with Judy Garland for years to come.  Harold Arlen and Ira Gershwin wrote the songs for Judy Garland's "A Star is Born."  Also, getting three older, famous vaudvillians -- Bert Lahr, Jack Haley and Ray Bolger -- for her companions has nothing to do with kids, other than they're talented and funny.  Billie Burke, who played Glinda, was married to Florenz Ziegfeld.

So, by discussing Harry Potter movies you're playing chess, and my dismissing them means I'm playing checkers?

Josh

Name: Jeremy Milks
E-mail: admin@homecomingcreations.com

Dear Josh:

Jesus Christ man, I'm sorry. I just notice little things you've said to people or that people have said to you and then I comment. Am I dumb for doing this ... probably.

And no. If you don't like Harry Potter now you won't like it when the stories come around to being adult. Though, it will never be adult enough for you, I know. I'm not trying to start anything with you. I respect your taste and opinion and I'm leaving it at that.

I was just wondering now though, what do you think of Alan Rickman? I think he's a really good actor and has done some really good films. He's my favorite actor in the Harry Potter movies even though he's supposed to be playing a dick.

Anyway. Any thoughts on Rickman?

Jeremy Milks

Dear Jeremy:

Alan Rickman is a good actor. I liked him in "Sense and Sensibility." What did you think of that film?

Josh

Name: Question
E-mail: ernstyanning@hotmail.com

Dear Josh:

Speaking of free will, I demand you light up a cigarette. Isn't it time for that juicy nicotine goodness to flow into your bloodstream?

Have you ever used the nicotine patch or are you a true blue smoker to the end? They pulled a SOUTH PARK gag where the boys are taken to the musuem of tolerance to learn to respect people's life choices, then all the grownups started belittling the smoker sitting outside by the fountain and ran him off.

Dear Q:

That's funny. I've never tried nicotine patches or gum. I just smoke, I'm not trying to quit.

Josh

Name: Bob
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

Just to mention The Best Years of Our Lives again, I thought that the shots at the end with the scrapped planes was remarkable. Never again will we see anything like that, and it was captured on film in that movie.

Harold Russell's accent, Massachusetts I guess, was noticeable, and stood out all the more since the town seemed to be in the midwest or someplace, and he was trying to portray that he was born and bred there. However, although he won an oscar for the part, I think his part was done more as a public service to make the public aware of the difficulties of Disabled Veterans. I believe that Harold Russell, went on to a high position with the Disabled American Veterans. I think he died a year or two ago.

How about the movie "They were Expendable"? I don't think it's on your favorites list. I saw it recently on DVD and thought it was a very good movie. It was interesting to see a movie that showed America in an underdog situation but not losing the belief that it could win. Did you like it?

Dear Bob:

Yes, I liked it, but I didn't think it was great. Coincidentally, I have it on my TiVo right now and was just ready to re-watch it. I'll let you know how it holds up. Yes, Harold Russell died in 2002. I think he's really wonderful in "Best Years," he just has an east coast accent. That's where the willing suspension of disbelief comes in, not when you hit a giant hole in the plot. William Wyler added the scene with the scraped planes because he came across them while location scouting. That scene was the inspiration for the tunnel scene in RT, which just came up. How do you do a flashback without flashing back?

Josh

Name: Danielle
E-mail: shw9w1@hotmail.com

Dear Josh:

With all this recent talk of the super 8 format, I thought some folks might like to check out a page that features stills from Guy Maddin's latest b/w super 8 feature.

I know you think that super 8 sucks, Josh, but Guy Maddin has fun shooting with his little garage-sale cameras and he sometimes gets beautiful results. I love the fact that he utilizes such low-rent techniques as rubbing Vaseline directly onto the camera lens, then rubbing it away in the middle -- in order to get that old-fashioned vignette look.

Here's the link: http://www.twitchfilm.net/archives/002450.html

Dear Danielle:

I never said that super-8 sucks. I shot tons of super-8 and I loved it. I've just said that it's impractical to work with in any professional manner. And I've used the vaseline method in 35mm, on Xena. But a few keys to that are: A. never smear anything directly on your lens, put it on a clear filter, and B. don't rub it away at the center, smear it on around the edges and leave the center clean.

Josh

Name: Danielle
E-mail: shw9w1@hotmail.com

Hi Josh,

Someone posted a comment here not too long ago about securing a SAG-member cameo for his non-union movie. I don't know if this changes anything, but I just revisited www.sagindie.com and they've altered some of their previous rules. There is now something called an "Ultra Low-Budget Agreement" which allows the use of both professional and non-professional actors in the same production.

Anyway, it might be too late for the person who wrote to you (I guess one would still need to take care of the signatory stuff well before shooting), but I wanted to mention it for the benefit of other filmmakers who might have similar designs.

By the way, the SAG site also mentions that there are no "step-up fees" for this particular agreement. Could you please tell me what this means?

Thanks.

Dear Danielle:

Nothing is as easy as it seems. The Ultra-Low-Budget Agreement has been around for a while, or variations thereof. But any agreement you get into with SAG is a pain in the ass. The minute you become signatory to SAG you have to do all of the paperwork properly, time-cards, health care, workman's comp, meal penalties, overtime, stunt adjustments, etc. I believe that a step-up fee would be that you pay the SAG actor part of their fee when you shoot, and the remainder later. The biggest problem with SAG is the "assumption agreement," regarding residuals and who's going to pay them forever, which you must get your buyer to take on (or assume), and nobody wants to do that. My feeling is either go SAG and deal with all of their issues, then you have access to every actor; or don't bother with them at all.

Josh

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

Josh,

I just wanted to give Tim another suggestion for shooting the moon with his DV camera.

He needs to use ND filters and a very long zoom lens. Something equivilant to 500mm in 35mm.

In order for the moon to get the exposure that is suitable, even if you try and spot meter the moon which I have done many times, it will still be about two stops brighter than the spot meter reading. There are many reasons for that, but I won't go into them.

The problem you are facing with shooting video Tim is that the CCD chips don't take to proper exposure well with standard DV and the moon will definitely blow out. Shooting film would give much more control over the exposure and a much better image and even trying the built in ND filters in your DV camera or renting/buying some ND filters would help.

I shot an eclipse one year with some short ends on a Panavision Gold 35mm camera when my buddy was wroking at a rental house. We ND'd the shit out of the lens and used a Nikon 500mm lens and we bracketed the shots. We had some really cool stuff, but I think he has the tape or i would post it for Tim to see.

As for the HD and Standard DV craze, it has run rampant here in NYC. I think there are more problems than people going out to shoot DV other than 16mm film. The main problem is nobody gives a shit about quality anymore. It is more about access and ease of use. That has be come evident with Reality TV shows.

I just talked to someone the other day that was going out to shoot an interior interview for a Doc. on DV and I asked her if she had lights and she said, "I don't know?" I said what are you going to do? And she said jusr use what light there is there. Of course with docs you can somewhat get away with that, but I would have had a small light kit to make it look halfway decent. I know they had the budget for it.


Scott

Dear Scott:

As soon as I pushed send on that one I thought, "The real issues are metering, then bracketing, and I didn't discuss either," so thanks for bringing them up. The moon, just like the sunset and sunrise, are difficult to get a light reading on, so you cover yourself by bracketing, meaning shooting it again and again with different exposures. But you can't do squat unless you can control your exposure. I've been dealing with this issue since I was a kid shooting super-8, and most of those cameras came with an automatic light meter that you had to override, and you generally could. If you can't manually set the exposure you can't rationally hope for an artistic-looking image because the automatic meter will always expose for the brightest area of the frame. Unless you can set your exposure manually, your camera isn't really worth a shit.

Josh

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

Dear Josh,

To respond to someone's question, the Great Escape very definitely happened, because the movie was based on a book by one of the guys who took part in it. There's a documentary about it on I think the History Channel that turns up periodically; I gather that most of the escapees were eventually re-captured, so Hollywood had to glamorize it a bit for the film. One of the officers in it retired to my home town of Columbia, SC (it's a big military town due to several nearby bases) and lived in the same condo complex as a friend of mine in high school. I know this because he came and bitched us out one time for making too much noise at the pool, and after he left, my friend said in awed tones "Do you know who that guy is???" (Wish I could recall his name, but I don't.)

On a completely unrelated topic that came up a few weeks ago, about ironic scoring for scenes in films: I think what was being referred to was things like the church organ music and the chanting at Connie's son's baptism in "The Godfather" being juxtaposed with the scenes of all of Michael's enemies getting whacked. Or Alex tapdancing and singing "Singin' in the Rain" while beating the crap out of the people in "Clockwork Orange." Or the Ride of the Valkyries from "Apocalypse Now," - although that's certainly appropriate, just unexpected.

OK, a real question for you. I agree with you about children's films.... but my question is: are there any kids' films that you enjoy? Not when you were a child, but now. (Like "Wizard of Oz," for example?)

Thanks,

August

Dear August:

I love "The Wizard of Oz," although I first saw it when I was 5 or 6, possibly earlier. I have "Bambi" on tape, and I'm sure I'd enjoy it if I watched it again. I also have "The Swiss Family Robinson." But I saw both of those as a young kid, too. The bottom-line is that I'm sick and tired of having my inner child catered to, while utterly excluding my outer adult. Since WWII this catering the children's every whim and wish has become a serious problem that seems to intensify with each new group of kids and parents. Now kids call their parents on the cell phone every five minutes demanding to be picked up or dropped off and the parents must comply. Kids get to call all the shots. Well, I totally resent it. I'm very glad I didn't have kids because I don't like most kids I meet. And that my favorite thing, movies, got co-opted for these spoiled brats with too much of their parent's money to spend, pisses me off.

Josh

Name: Tim
E-mail: NansemondNative

Josh,

Thanks again for the response.

I feel you can learn the story telling on DV. Practice makes perfect.Then when you get good you can take those skills learned on video and use it on film.The transition really isn't that difficult. You just have to think about what you are doing with film as opposed to having a electronic chip do your exposure for you. However,when it gets down to the do or die "We're going to make a real go at this" scenario you better not show up on set with anything other than a film camera. Use the DV as a back-up for continuity or something.

Josh,in Running Time,what was your direction to Bruce when he was beating the hell out of the dopehead that screwed everybody over after the fact? Was it something like "Bruce just draw on anger and beat the shit out of him?" or was it something a little more deep than that?

Also, about your character Mustafa in "Hammer". He was pretty much the same during the time that we saw him. What was his direction for his scenes in general? He had a reserved type of thing going until he was spoken to. Then he kind of let you have it with both barrels. Was it kind of like "Hey guy I want you to be passively agressive until your spoken to then I want all your anger and intelligence hidden under the surface to come out"?

I may be wrong on both counts but I want to ask. I feel you have to be part psychologist to get people to draw on emotions. You really have to know what makes people tick.If you can get it then it translates most of the time very well even in the amateur crowd.

Thank you for your time as always.

Tim

Dear Tim:

Regarding the fight with Donny, the junkie, in RT, it's actually more complicated than that because the scene is connected to the two previous scenes, of Carl freaking out in the tunnel, then coming out, sitting down and trying to calm down, pulling back to reveal Donny making a deal, then Carl sees him, approaches, beats him up, then runs away. That's all one shot, so Bruce had to go through quite a few emotional changes in that single hunk. But I don't tell actors where or how to draw on their anger, that's their job. I say what I'm looking for like, "Get furious and kick the shit out of him," and that leads to the practical consideration of how does he do that with only one arm? Once we've worked that out, and of course, that whole complicated tunnel scene before it, then we just went for it. Regarding Jason Kyle Webb as Mustapha, I don't recall saying anything. The two actors just understood the scene and played it. I think that's one of the best scenes I've ever done, both writing- and directing-wise. But I rehearsed both of those films, so most of the performance stuff was pretty much worked out before we arrived, which is the way to do it, I think.

Josh

Name: Franklin
E-mail:

Yo Josh, I was just wanderin' what the budgets for all for all your films were?

Dear Franklin:

TSNKE was about $200,000; "Lunatics" was $650,000; "Running Time" was $130,000; "If I Had a Hammer" was $350,000; and "Alien Apocalypse" was budgeted at $1.5 million, but by the time all of the overhead and everything else was deducted I had about a half million to shoot with.

Josh

Name: pete chen
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

Do you watch the news magazine "60 Minutes" regularly?

Dear pete:

Yes, I do.

Josh

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

Josh,

It might be just me, but Richard Dreyfuss reminds me of you. He's honest, wry, and a bit impish.

http://www.chud.com/index.php?type=news&id=4405

Dear Brett:

Back when both myself and Richard Dreyfuss had beards, people used to say I looked like him, but I don't think I do. I guess the nice part about remaking a piece of shit like "The Poseidon Adventure" is that you can't fuck it up too much since it was such crap to begin with.

Josh

Name: Bob
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

I liked the Best Years of Our Lives quite a bit. It was so well done, and honest, that the way of life and attitudes portrayed are not so unlike today, which is why in my opinion, the movie has not become dated.

I read some criticisms of the film. Do you think the story was left with too many loose ends, such as Fredric March's possible developing alcholism crisis, and the future of Dana Andrew's character? Or did the movie end at an appropriate point.

Thanks.

Dear Bob:

I think it's damn near perfect. And since it's trying to be realistic, all the problems of life will not be tied up by the end. Maybe Frederic March does become an alcoholic, and maybe Dana Andrews loses that job. That's life. But I think it's a perfect ending, at Homer's wedding, with Andrews and Theresa Wright finding each other. Regarding Frederic March's character drinking, the scene at the banker's party with him giving his speech is hysterical. I love when Myrna Loy crosses the four lines on the tablecloth with her fork as he slams his fifth martini, then gets up to make his speech. ". . . So we didn't take the hill, and we lost the war." If I have any issue with the film, and I don't, it's that Harold Russell clearly has an east coast accent, yet no one else does in Booneville. "I can drive a cah." But that's nit-picking, I think.

Josh

Name: Question
E-mail: ernstyanning@hotmail.com

Dear Josh:

I have a question. I'm watching THE GREAT ESCAPE right now (I finished THE BIRDS and CHARADE earlier) and I'm at the part where Big X is walked into camp and told if he attempts one more escape, he will be shot. That got me thinking of THE BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI, when the doctor tells Colonel Saito all the men in the sick bay are witnesses, he will never get away with calling it a mass escape. When did the actual great escape happen, and how well known throughout Europe was it? Also in the movie (GREAT ESCAPE) the men are all taken out to piss and mowed down at once. In real life, I hear they were taken out a few at a time, wouldn't the other soldiers in the truck notice they weren't coming back?

Dear Q:

Although that's not how it is in the film, if they were taken out in smaller groups and shot, what could the others possibly do about it? I believe that actual escape was in 1944, but I'm not sure. And nothing was well-known that was coming out of Germany during the war. I'm sure no Americans knew anything about the great escape until the book came out years later.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

Is Wizard of Oz a child's film, or an adult's film?

Would you watch it again - or when you passed a random arbitrary barrier did you decide to only ever disparage it in the future, and ignore its impact on people?

Speaking of, I think I've figured out one of the places where your and my opinions differ. I'm interested in how art (films included) affects people, and you're not. You seem to only be interested in how art affects you.

Dear Matt:

You can only deal with your own perceptions, you don't know what other people think or feel. Yes, I deal exclusively in what I think is good or bad, and I don't give a damn what other people think. If I think something's good, then it's good; and if I think it's bad, then it's bad. I don't need anyone else deciding for me what my tastes are. But you are seemingly just a sucker of the big corporations. They spend $50 million advetising a Harry Potter movie or a Star Wars movie and you go see it, just like a robot. You're just a tiny little pawn in the big corporate swindle. You think you have free will, except every time you do what they tell you to do, like see Harry Potter movies, you're just one more lemming following the crowd to blindly jumping off the cliff.

Josh

Name: Jeremy Milks
E-mail: admin@homecomingcreations.com

Dear Josh:

It's funny that you mention that DV looks like porno, because during my first movie, unfortunatly shot in dv (I wanted 16mm but that cost too much), there's a scene where the two main characters are supposed to start to make out before they have some sex (I couldn't shoot the sex scene because the actress was 17) and all I could as I filmed it was think of that cheesey porno music. Needless to say I blew a few takes laughing, but I quickly got past that.

Secondly. I know you don't care about Harry Potter because it's for kids, and that's true, but as the characters get older, the stories become more for adults ... just with magic. I know that won't change your mind, but just figured I'd say it.

Jeremy Milks

Dear Jeremy:

So what? So, what are you saying? That if I wait long enough the Harry Potter movies will become adult films? I assure you that even if I were 17 years old I wouldn't see a Harry Potter movie. Those films are for 6-14-year-olds, and if you're older than that and going to see it then you're slumming. It seems that everyone who is 50 or younger has the Peter Pan Syndrome and won't grow up. Until people start acting like the adults that they are, we will all continue to be treated like babies, and be given nothing but pablum movies, which are all mushy and pre-digested.

Josh

Name: mark sawicki
E-mail: biztoon@yahoo.com

Hi Josh

I just finished your touching confessions of a movie geek article. You brought back so many memories of those grand times. I also saw How the West was Won in Cinerama and had the greatest tiny gun in a holster commemorative. My sad story of loss was the time I was given $20 on a very windy day to purchase something and promptly lost the cash to the weather. Having been brought up in a strict Polish Catholic environment I promptly prayed to God to bring back that $20 and as a sacrifice I threw that wonderful little toy gun down the sewer. Yes, you guessed it God was not at home that day and I wound up losing both cash and toy.

It was nice to read of your movie going friend. I'm glad that you let us in to this tender part of your life. We have lost so many to that cruelest of plagues. What you have written really captures the essence of the movie life. It is important to honor those who have gone before. It gives us all a measure of dignity. I'm anxiously awaiting your book. If I'm not mistaken that is a picture from Hammer on the cover. This is going to be really great. To catch you up on my circumstance I'm still slamming away as an effects cameraman with more focus on the computer (we moth balled the printers this year) I'm still acting when I can see: sheerforceofwill.com
Acting comes so seldom that I really relish it when that stray part comes along. I'm still pushing my educational DVDs and generally happy to still be working as so many movie folk out here have been permanently out sourced. It's like Detroit in the 70's. My neighbor ,an excellent sound technician, has had to turn to selling home improvement items at Sears. In many ways Josh, we saw a brief glimpse of the tail end of a great age. As for me, I'm happy for the delicious little taste of it that I've had thus far. Working on your film was a paricularly bright episode.
All the best,
Mark Sawicki

Dear mark:

Not only is the cover of the book a photo from "Hammer," you took it, and you're getting the credit for it, too. Thanks for taking the best pictures of anyone on the set. Meanwhile, it still breaks my heart I've never been able to get "Hammer" released. It seems that when I began planning that film in 1999, legitimate independent films were still being released, and by 2001 when the film was finished, that was all a done deal. Indies had been completely co-opted by the corporations. Anyway, it's great hearing from you, and I wish you all the best.

Josh

Name: Tim
E-mail: NansemondNative

Josh,

Thank you for your input on shooting a full moon at night. DV and Super 8 were my only choices because my 16's are just not good for this kind of thing.My Bolex's spring just broke and the Krassie simply doesn't have the zoom nor does it have the capability to take 500 speed film.That Bolex I'm probably going to ceremoniously burn anyway because it's non-reflex and I do not particularly care for it. The spring popping is just icing on the cake.

The Canon, on the other hand, has the lens attachment that lets me go beyond the standard zoom capability. Kodak has the higher speed film but it is on order. I'll just stick it in my freezer until the next cycle.

On DV the moon simply looks like shit. It looks like a white ball no matter what you use.That's in darkness though. If the moon happens to come out about 4 or so you can have yourself a little DV moon party.

Yes Sir. Film is still going to continue to out perform DV for a while yet. The thing is though that when people reference DV they need to understand that it cannot be one of those "crappy" little home DV cams.It's true that some really fine DV equipment is available for the home consumer and some really cool stuff can be done with it. However, the professional DV rigs have it all. Interchangable lenses are just one feature and it records directly to the Digital Beta tape. These things are right good size too but still very portable. Once any kind of shooting is completed the final product is then edited on some big time editing software like "Avid Professional" which you can usually get if you get a second mortgage on your home.Same thing goes for the camera itself. Many thousands of dollars there Josh. The truth is that,if you got that kind of dough,you can spend as much on a professional DV rig as you could a professional film rig but film still looks better not to mention the archival issue that you brought up.

And it is about the look. I get a whole lot of shit over why I would spend $14.00 for one roll of Super 8 that will hold roughly 2 minutes of footage when I could get 3 MiniDV tapes for the same $14.00 and shoot for hours. The answer is always the same. It's the look of the finished product. In addition,I cannot push a button on my DV cam and get 54fps slow motion either! How about shooting a good comedy fight at 18 fps and then playing it back, through a projector, at 24fps to kind of speed things up? Good stuff there.

Thanks Josh. My apologies the long post. If I'm wrong about anything I know you'll tighten me up on my perspective.

Tim

Dear Tim:

The PBS show Nova switched from film to HD, and though they have a top-notch DP and do everything they can to make it look like film, it still looks a bit cheap, and not nearly as good as film looked. The bottom-line is that film and digital are completely different kinds of pictures, one's photographic and the other is electronic, and it's still going to be a while before they can get an electronic image to look as good as a photographic image. I repeat my contention that DV being easier and cheaper doesn't mean shit. What's cheaper and easier for you is meaningless, it's all about what looks the best. That's why all of the movie channels on cable continue to show movies exclusively shot on film.

Josh

Name: Beth
E-mail:

Dear Josh,

I get that absolute fear that comes from talking to someone you are attracted to, I get it quite often myself, but I still would like it if more guys would approach me. And I'm certain that I'm not the only gal who feels that way. In addition to purchasing Charming Billy, I got Mosquito, I hear that you appear in the buff in some scene? Is it true? I've also sent off for Little Foxes, directed by William Wyler. What is your opinion on it? Have you ever watched any South Park? I use to find it a bit too juvenile to watch, but ironically, as I have grown older I seem to enjoy it more.

Good cheer,
Beth

Dear Beth:

I don't think "Charming Billy" is necessarily worth owning, but it was worth seeing. Yes, I appear naked in "Mosquito." "The Little Foxes" is brilliant, although not all that easy to sit through. Great, great photography by Gregg Toland. Bette Davis couldn't be any better. Herbert Marshall's finale is one of the classic scenes in movies. The scene in the bathroom shaving is pretty cool, too. I've seen "South Park" a number of times, and it's kind of funny, but not enough for me to watch it. The basic concept is poorly-animated little kids swearing, which grows thin quickly.

Josh

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

Josh,

It's odd that your site is frequented by so relatively many Kansans (I'm in Wichita). It must be a form of escapism. As you know, in Kansas we're all Bored of Education people. Morons.

In your list of famous Kansans you neglected Buffalo Bill Cody. He and my great-grandfather were good friends and we still have artifacts related to him. A nod for Hattie McDaniel as well.

Separately, I rewatched "The Black Hole" the other day. I've always thought that an odd film. It was made just before Touchstone and seemed clearly a film uncomfortable with itself. The cast (Schell, Perkins, Borgnine, McDowell, etc.) was top-flight, I assume it had good financing. It's production values were clearly behind the times, however. Disney in the late seventies had an interesting identity crisis and I've thought that "Black Hole" exemplifies it quite well. You mention going to see it in "ED Journal" but never gave your thoughts.

John

Dear John:

It's a nothing. Disney did a half-assed job of trying to reamke "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea" in space.

Josh

Name:
E-mail:

Josh,

Your take on Sideways, interestingly, seems to be the exact opposite of mine. Where you were baraged with disbelief, I saw complete reality.

First, a week-long, premarital trip with a buddy is not uncommon. Second, the trip was never meant to be a 6 day pussy hunt, but R&R with wine, food and golf (just ask Miles). Not until Jack, on the second day, laid out his intentions over breakfast, did it become about getting fucked; again, totally believable--this is the main goal of many "soon-to-marrieds"--chicks incluced. Third, the sets, ancillary actors and prop stylings were perfect--The Windmill Inn, the bowling alley, the biker's house (especially his backyard),both fat, white-trash waitresses working in nice restaurants. Have you been to Buellton? It's full of trailer dwellers; that is the workforce there, they didn't doll it up with cute LA types. Fourth, Sandra Oh's character's disfunction was not only illustrated through her behavior, but characatured through social morays as she is Asian yet has a white mother and a black daughter...priceless.

Finally, I disagree with your take on the time it took Maya to read Miles' novel. You felt it was a few days I felt it was at least a couple of months. We heard her on his answering machine say: "I'm sorry it has taken so long to get back to you....". Then, as he goes to reconnect with her...Maya goes on to say she's almost done with her degree which conotates December or May. As Miles is driving, it's raining...HARD. In So. Cal, this is the dead of winter--their trip was in early September as grapes were still on the vines.

Perhaps the reality made you feel uneasy. You don't want it to be real. Well, most guys are pussy-hunting, juvenille assholes. Many people live lives of quiet and not-so-quiet, prozac-popping, wine swilling desperation. White-trash, fat people fuck each other and are turned on by watching their wives get fucked by someone else. These are,however, behaviors that most people keep secret.

Here's my white flag to you: I completely agree that someone as hot as Virgina Madsen wouldn't give Paul Giamatti the time of fucking day...totally unbelievable.

Cheers.

Dear ____:

You say a week-long trip immediately before your wedding is "not uncommon," but I say it is. It's totally unbelievable. And Church arriving back totally naked, and now must get his weasel buddy to go back and steal his wallet out of a biker's house is "complete reality"? If I had a DVD of the film I'd give it to you, or throw it out.

Josh

Name: Jeremy Milks
E-mail: admin@homecomingcreations.com

Dear Josh:

I don't know. I mean, digital video looks horrible, but I think you can still make a somewhat watchable film with it ... or at least I hope you can. I've discovered that if you switch the dv footage to black and white in editing, it looks way better than if you leave it in color.

Some movies still get released on DVD that are shot on dv. I think Comic Book The Movie was shot on dv, but I'm not 100% sure on that.

I hear, if you've got the right editing equipment, you can make digital look like film. I hope to hell that's true.

Jeremy Milks

Dear Jeremy:

Except that it's not true. DV at it's best still looks like a porno movie. HD can be gotten to look good, but it takes a lot of work.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

Did you see any of the Harry Potter movies? As far as I can tell, they tend not to violate most of your '05 Dogma.

1. The films focus on a mix of plot and character-relationship dynamics, particularly centered around Harry and his trials and tribulations.
2. Each sequel in the series is based on an entirely separate book as opposed to being an exact sequel to the prior film - they utilize the same actors but continuity and sets change frequently.
3. They're not handheld.
4. Music is entirely original.
5. Titles are at the end. Can't help you here.
6. Based on a series of novels.
7. Ditto 6.
8. No 3D or other gimmicks.
9. Video games are based on the movies, not vice-versa. I'd know.
10. The stories are more intricate than cross-country trips.
11. The film's scripts are adjusted primarily prior to filming, and then not changed during the movie's creation (so goes rumor).
12. No vampires and zombies, generally more imaginative and strange creatures.
13. The men are men. The characters that are young boys, are indeed... young boys.
14. No sex scenes.
15. No lesbian sex scenes.
16. Large ensemble cast, however there is an extremely clear lead.
17. The films are all approximately 145-150 minutes in length, to better be adaptations of the source material.
18. See note above about length.
19. They each have a definitive story-arc/theme related to the main character's growth, and it changes each film.
20. The artists who are involved in the films are generally professionals that work at their craft.
21. These movies are specifically for 12 year olds, but appeal to most adults.
22. Doesn't really apply.
23. Few to no Jump Cuts.

I'm honestly curious as to your thoughts on them.

Dear Matt:

I have seen none of the Harry Potter movies. Harry Potter is kid's books and kid's movies. I'm an adult. When I was a child I spake as a child, but now that I'm a man I've put away my childish things. I recommend it for anyone over the age of eighteen. Unless you also have a well-developed inner adult, only having an inner child makes you a retard. I don't give a fuck about Harry Potter.

Josh

Name: Angel
E-mail: aesparz2@students.depaul.edu

Dear Josh,

I think the succession of famous Kansans goes:

1. Dennis Hopper

2. Dwight D. Eisenhower

3. Kirstie Alley

Thanks,
Angel

Dear Angel:

And now Kirstie Alley lives just up the street -- meaning a few miles -- from Bruce in Oregon. Small world, eh? Dee Wallace, from "The Howling," is from Kansas City, Kansas, Elvira is from Manhattan, KS, R. Lee Ermy is from Emporia, KS, Melissa Etheridge is from Levenworth, Ed Asner is from Kansas City, KS, not to mention Bob Dole, Amelia Earhart, Gayle Sayers, Carrie Nation and Wilt Chamberlain.

Josh

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

Josh

Is it just me or are folks putting less effort into paying attention to the stimulus around them? You'd think given the scope and focus of The Dawn of Man it would heighten arousal. What gets lost in the shuffle with Kubrick is his composition, which was often very linear, centered and with an emphasis on foreground images. In theoy it seems very dull, but proof positive is how good The Shining and Eyes Wide Shut, not to mention Full Metal Jacket and Strangelove, look.

Dear Brett:

ALL of Kubrick's films look great, he had a great eye. An artist's eye. I just watched "Barry Lyndon" again, a film I disliked when it came out, and I still don't really like it, but goddamn it looks good, the photography, the costumes, the makeup, and the casting of terrific faces. He keeps de-zooming over and over again, and it keeps being cool, although it's certainly an odd way to cover a period film. And the "Dawn of Man" sequence in "2001" is 30 totally fascinating minutes of film, as far as I'm concerned. I'll happily take it over all nine fucking hours of LOFTR.

Josh

Name: Rob
E-mail: habejr@mac.com

Dear Josh:

What do you think of Kubrick? A Clockwork Orange is probbly my favorite film - the direction and editing mesh so well with the music, that it becomes something like an onscreen ballet. I also own and love The Shining - I notice Kubrik hangs on one shot for incredibly long periods of time (Somewhere halfway in the ballpark of similar to Running Time in that sense). I also saw Space Oddesy (though I can't spell it correctly). I watched it four times, and I still don't get it. And was the whole half hour ape scene incredibly necessary? I can see it as maybe five minutes long, but 30! Anyway, thanks again. I ask to many questions...

-Rob

Dear Rob:

Stanley Kubrick's one of the masters of this form. I think the "Dawn of Man" sequence in "2001" is great -- no dialog and totally interesting. Perhaps you should read Arthur Clarke's story "The Sentinel."

Josh

Name: Jeremy Milks
E-mail: admin@homecomingcreations.com

Dear Josh:

Hey, I was just wondering what you thought about digital video for movies. Not like HD, but like, crappy little mini-dv cameras.

I have two opinions on the matter. The first is: I don't like it because it looks horrible; and my second is: Story counts for a lot, so if it's good enough I may be overlook some of the badness that digital has.

It pisses me off because film cameras cost so damn much, and then there is film costs, developing, etc, so all I use right now is digital.

Anyway, just wondered what your thoughts were on the matter.

Jeremy Milks

Dear Jeremy:

It depends on what you're after. If the point is ease and cheapness, then DV is the answer. If you want to make a film that actually looks good, and might actually have some value, I think you still need to shoot film. But what's easiest and cheapest for you doesn't mean anything to the rest of us. I could have shot TSNKE on video tape and it would have been a lot easier and cheaper, but nobody would have ever seen it, nor would anyone be making DVD deals on it 20 years later.

Josh

Name: Angel
E-mail: aesparz2@students.depaul.edu

Dear Josh,

This is a forum for movie lovers and I'm glad to see Danny, a fellow Kansan and fan of Klaus Kinski on here. Given recent events in the state (such as Intelligent Design being tacked onto the science curriculum as a means of debunking Evolution), I'm sure you hold no esteem for the Sunflower State. But it is an interesting place that breeds an interesting people. I'm from Dodge City (I'm sure you'll be more familiar with it's western folklore than even me), which is the birthplace of Dennis Hopper. Nearly everyone I know in this state carries the same crazed dementia as he. Just take a couple of seconds and try to imagine a state populated with right-wing Dennis Hoppers. It's as fascinating as it is scarry. I think that's why I can appreciate Kinski and hope that that's the appeal for Danny, too.

Thanks,
Angel

Dear Angel:

Right-wing Dennis Hoppers? Shit! Note to self: Avoid Kansas. I would guess the second most famous person from Kansas, after Dennis Hopper, of course, would be Dwight Eisenhower.

Josh

Name: DS
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

That piano-playing scene in "Autumn Sonata" is a perfect encapsulation of a musician who can never stop being a teacher and perfectionist, and it shows how this interferes with a parent/child relationship. Really terrific film. For me at least, Bergman has this amazing ability to tell you an unnerving story and keep you riveted all the way through. The colors and the light in this film are captivating. "Autumn Sonata" is probably one of his more accessible films, though it certainly does command the viewer like his other films do.

And I've seen "The Serpent's Egg," which was a lower tier Bergman but still good. David Caradine and Liv Ullman are both good and the script is pretty solid (while a tad campy). And Sven Nykvist's photography was interesting, love the cobble stone streets and the lighting of the nightclubs. That film has some strange twists as well.

And meanwhile, I've also seen "Bird with the Crystal Plummage," and I found it weak, though it had an interesting Morricone score and good Storaro photography. As long as we're talking about 1970, I'll throw in "The Conformist" (released in the states in '71, but Italy got it in '70).

As for winning the heart of a model, from my experience we should first try to look as attractive as humanly possible. Then our confidence will be raised, and we'll be our most desirable.

Dear DS:

We must stick with the U.S. releases since we are in the U.S., so "Il Conformista" is a 1971 film, and it begins with C and we were only on A & B, so that's not fair on several levels. "The Serpent's Egg" has some shocking bits of violence that are even more shocking for being in an Ingmar Berman movie. There's the one scene where the Nazis beat up the club owner, smashing his face repeatedly into a balustrade, or the big fight at the end under the freight elevator, where Carradine and the bad guy keep pushing each other's heads into the elevator shaft as this huge elevator is coming down. They keep turning around so that first one's head is in the shaft, looking up at the descending elevator, then the other. Finally, it takes the bad guy's head off and sprays Carradine in the face. Pretty intense shit for Bergman.

Josh

Name: Rob
E-mail: habejr@mac.com

Dear Josh,

I don't knopw if you have experience with digital cams, but mine broke so I need to find one that I can use for my films. My biggest problem as of now is NTSC or PAL. I would assume NTSC would be a better choice because of compatibility, but the PAL cameras seem to be cheaper. Any assistance would be nice. Thanks.

-Rob

Dear Rob:

America is on the NTSC system (foreign cameramen believe this stands for "never twice the same color"), most everywhere else is on PAL. PAL is a better, sharper system with more lines of resolution, but to show PAL in the U.S. it must be converted to NTSC.

Josh

Name: PJ
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

Barquero was a good film from 1970. As was Bird with the Crystal Plummage.

I recently re-watched Groundhog Day on the tele. When it first came out it was just viewed as another funny Bill Murray movie. Now, however, it has gained a substantial cult following, in fact, many people believe it to be one of the great masterpieces of modern cinema, believe it or not, religious gurus and existentialists and even the art house crowd alike embrace it. Maybe it has to do with Bill Murray suddenly becoming an art house poster boy. Anyway, upon rewatching it I did in fact find that I liked it a lot. Any thoughts on the subject?

Dear PJ:

I've always liked it, I think it's a helluva a piece of writing. A great masterpiece? I don't think so. But that was back when Bill Murray gave an actual performance, as opposed to sleepwalking through the part, like "Lost in Translation." Meanwhile, "Barquero" was a piece of crap, and "Bird With Crystal Plummage," which I haven't seen, was released in 1969.

Josh

Name: Question
E-mail: ernstyanning@hotmail.com

<<I like "Autumn Sonata" and "Cries and Whispers," too, but they are mainly close-ups of women in angst, fading to red, which was cool.>>

I'm not saying CRIES AND WHISPERS is a bad movie, I only watched the first 25 minutes after three tries. Its just that, AUTUMN SONATA made me cry. As a parent it scared the living fuck out of me, made me almost reconsider my life, and I broke out crying when the daughter rips on her mother for making her feel like an idiot. I mean, how many movies have the power to do that in your life? And the plot on the case says a mother and daughter get together to have a night of painful revelations, and things get worse when she finds out her mentally impaired sister is living with her. Then the box for CRIES AND WHISPERS reads three sisters come together for a night of painful revelations, one of them is dying. Well, when I was growing up, I used to hear everyone older than me bitch about how critics pan anything that isn't an art film. That's what I felt like when I tried sitting through CRIES AND WHISPERS. Like I was just being shown a bunch of pretty sets. Maybe it got better after I turned it off. But AUTUMN SONATA didn't waste time on pretty shots, it got its characters talking.

Also, I lost my copy of DETECTIVE STORY... hey I have THE BIG CARNIVAL. I like that title, it has a better ring to it than ACE IN THE HOLE. Don't you just love that they gave Leo a catchy theme song before he died? I like that, I can hum that tune..

Dear Q:

I think "Ace in the Hole" is a better title, and it certainly another terrific Kirk Douglas performance. After you see "Detective Story" or "Ace in the Hole," you know you've seen a movie. And I'm with you, I liked "Autumn Sonata" more than C&W. When mother and daughter both play the same piece on the piano, the look on the other's face watching them play is amazing. The look on Liv Ullmann's face is pure hatred; the expression on Ingrid Bergman's face is pure disappointment. It's very intense stuff. If you haven't seen "Scenes From a Marriage," check it out, it also gets very intense at times. It's also the film that Bergman has come out of retirement to make a sequel to.

Josh

Name: Danny Cork
E-mail: dpc9839@ku.edu

Josh,

While we're on Kinksi; have you ever read his notorious autobiography? Every page is a sexual conquest or a rant at someone. It's painfully honest about his escapades with prostitutes, while simultaneously being a little fabricated when it comes to his 'hatred' for Herzog (which you'll know if you've seen 'My Best Fiend'). It's very hard to find in the States, but you might find it on Ebay or in a used bookstore under the title 'All I Need is Love.' Anyway, just thought I'd give everyone the heads up. It's very entertaining, colorfully written and an interesting cult oddity. Later,

Danny

Dear Danny:

He seems like such an asshole, particularly in "My Best Fiend," which was really what I meant. That's where you get to see Kinski pitch some heavy-duty fits. The looks on the natives' faces as Kinski goes nuts are great. I generally don't read most actor's books, anyway.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

Ok.

Yes, it was Kirk Douglas' best role. I loved when he was in the police wagon with George Macready and just lost it and punched the hell out of him. Also, when Eleanor Parker finally admits to him she had an abortion, his reaction upset me(in a good way) more than anything I've seen in a film in a long time. I actually had tears in my eyes when he finally let Craig Hill go as he was dying.

I aslo loved Lee Grant's character, an innocent(not of shoplifting, just innocent)woman who played eyewitness to the events that were unfolding in the police station that would soon lead to tragedy.

Dear Trey:

I'm glad you liked it, I always have. William Wyler was able to get Kirk Douglas to do what he does best, which is to get really mad. It's just a tight little production, too. Another terrific, tight Wyler film in that same period, when he was producing his own films, and also based on a play, is "Desperate Hours" with Humphery Bogart and Fredric March. It makes great use of Bogart.

Josh

Name: Beth
E-mail:

Dear Josh,

A comment was made as to what attracts a supermodel. I would like to put a little input on that subject. As a voice of experience as a beautiful woman, I can say that a lot of that has to do with who is willing to approach her. Most guys assume that, just because a woman is beautiful, that she is going to automatically shoot down anyone who approaches her. That leaves a limited few who are willing to approach her. And amongst those men, maybe 1/8 of those guys are worth dating. If society were more accepting of an independent woman, who could approach guys on her own, that she is interested in, maybe this could be rectified in the future. But until then, guys, please just approach a girl, so what if she says no, that just means you are going to be able to move on to someone who is right for you. Okay, I will get off my soapbox now. I've sent off for a copy of "Charming Billy", I will write with my opinion when I see it. And one more thing, I got a B&N gift certificate for my birthday from a friend, I was thinking of buying a William Wyler movie for myself, what would you suggest for someone who has never seen a Wyler movie?

Thanks,
Beth

Dear Beth:

Get "The Best Years of Our Lives," Best Picture 1946. Meanwhile, in the case of Rosi Chernogorova, she didn't speak much English and I couldn't speak three words in Bulgarian, so there you go. Besides, I was busy, I had a movie to make. But what you don't realize, Beth, is that approaching any woman, but particularly a very beautiful woman, is about as frightening as anything a man can do, including going into battle and sky-diving. That's why god invented alcohol, and also so the ugly girls get picked up, too, of course.

Josh

Name: pete chen
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

Saw a neat documentary called "See It Now", have you seen it? Its about Edward R. Murrow's news show of the same name, which was also the first "news magazine" a la "60 Minutes". Murrow sure is interesting, and its great to see someone smoking during a broadcast! I am also wondering if you have seen/are interested in Clooney's recent "Good Night and Good Luck"? Ted Koppel recommended it on "Nightline" the other night.

Dear pete:

I haven't seen the documentary or Clooney's film. I thought Clooney did sort of an interesting job directing "Confessions of a Dangerous Mind," although it wasn't a very good film.

Josh

Name: Question
E-mail: ernstyanning@hotmail.com

<<Did you ever see "Forbidden Games"? The 1951 winner of Best Foreign Film. I'd buy that before either of those Bergman films.>>

It comes out on dvd on December 6th. The first films in my 70s section are COLOSSUS: THE FORBIN PROJECT and FIVE EASY PIECES. Can you think of any really good movies from the year 1970 that start with either an A or B?

Thanks,
K

Dear Q:

There's "Airport," which I like very much. That's it for As and Bs.

Josh

Name: Angel
E-mail: aesparz2@depaul.edu

Dear Josh:

An actor can be as eccentric and demanding as he/she wants as long as what they bring to the finshed product is worth the hassle they create. For me, Klaus Kinski has Carte Blanche. I haven't been fortunate enough to see 'Burden of Dreams' but I am familar with Kinski's reputation. If I was Herzog and had to deal with everything Kinski threw at me, I would say it was all worth it just for the scene in which Fitzcarraldo is playing his gramophone for the party. He stands there, presenting the people with Opera and can't understand why nobody else sees in it the beauty he does. His expression carries the happiness the music brings him while being riddled by the people's failure to understand how amazing what he's presenting to them is. He captures so perfectly that feeling of sharing something special with someone, only to be met with apathy.

Compare this to the common temper tantrums created by today's actors who feel they have the right to be difficult because their T.V. series is currently syndicated or they were in the number six highest grossing picture of 1979.

Dear Angel:

I don't know that I could have put up with Kinski's shit. He was really and truly crazy, and mean, too. But I've had very little trouble with actors, who are, for the most part, very cooperative people who are trying to do their best. I've had more issues with frightened, inexperienced actors than with actors throwing tantrums. I've had far more trouble with script supervisors or camera operators than with actors.

Josh

Name: Jason Roth
E-mail: jason@visualnoiz

Dear Josh:

Ah yes, Joseph Lewis on Big Combo, my bad. Only seen 3 of his movies -Big Combo, Gun Crazy, & Terror in a Texas Town, but they've all been crackin' good films. Terror in a Texas Town is one of the best, oddest westerns I've seen. Are there any other Lewis films you'd recommend?

Dear Jason:

I still haven't seen most of Joseph Lewis's movies. There's also "My Name is Julia Ross," "So Dark the Night" and "Retreat Hell!" But even his crappy movies generally have something in them worth seeing, like "The Invisible Ghost" with Bela Lugosi, which is junk, but he did an entire courtroom sequence without any set at all -- it's all close-ups and shadows, and I found that impressive.

Josh

Name: Christina M.
E-mail: spikeddragongurl@aol.com

Josh,

How did you start making your movie list? I'm up to 1149 on mine, but I'm sure I'm forgetting some. Looking at that list makes me realize how much time I wasted on horrible movies. I try to watch one new one a day, yesterday was Take the money and run, very funny. What happened to Woody Allen?

One more question, what's your list up to now?

Christina

Dear Christina:

I'm up to 4,093. I started the list in 1979 by using the Maltin book, the Scheuer book, and the Academy Award yearly reminder lists that list every film released during that year, which I had going back to 1927-28. That all got me to somewhere around where you are, then the next 3,000 were all listed as I saw them. What happened to Woody Allen? He won two Oscars in 1977, began taking himself seriously believing he was an "artist," and subsequently stopped being funny.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

"I'm here to make good pictures. If I don't see it, I won't touch it. I may not make a good picture, but I still gotta believe in it!"-William Wyler

If only modern filmmakers would take the quote to heart. My mother talked me into watching the "Amityville Horror" remake and it did one thing for me, reminded me why I've given up on new movies. Buy hey, I'm only 19 so if I never make a good film(or any film at all), I'm sure someone will start making them before I bite it.

Until then, Netflix is my bestfriend. I'm watching Wyler's movies right now. I just finished "Detective Story", which was a wonderful movie, and "Dead End" arrived today.

Anyway, have a nice day!

Dear Trey:

Come on, discuss these films. Wasn't Kirk Douglas at his very best in "Detective Story"? There are moments when he gets so mad you think he's going to explode. And young Lee Grant is terrific. And Joseph Wiseman. And I think it may be the best performance Wlliam Bendix ever gave in anything, and he was in a lot of stuff. Give.

Josh

Name: Joe
E-mail: n/a

Hey Josh,

Ethically what do you think about guys like Woody Allen and Roman Polanski.

Polanski left America because of child rape or molestation charges or something. He claims he didnt know how old the girl was. I think recently a judge in France or something acquitted him of these charges, which is ridiculous.

Woody Allen basically married his adoptive daughter.

Does this change the way you see them as filmmakers?

If Bill Smith on the street married his adoptive daughter, people would probably run for the hills awawy from someone like that, call him a sick, perverted man. So why is it OK for Woody Allen to do so?

Dear Joe:

I don't care what artists, or anyone else, do in their spare time. Woody Allen didn't marry a 10-year-old, he married an adult, and they've been married for about ten years now. Who am I to judge? Roman Polanski had sex with an underage girl, did time in prison, then had to leave his home and his Hollywood career and never come back. He's doing his penance. I wish him and Woody all the best.

Josh

Name: DS
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

Ingmar Bergman's work is gorgeous, and I really can't see the similarities between "Autumn Sonata" and "Cries and Whispers" other than they are both color films shot by Sven Nykvist and have Liv Ullman in a lead role. The 'same ground' must just be painful family drama. But if you can't get into them, you can't get into them.

The 1970s were an exciting time for world cinema though, whether you liked the films or not you can't deny that we'd have something new and interesting every week, many imported through Roger Corman's New World Pictures. It's sad that we don't have a New World Pictures anymore to see similar films, as there are still fascinating films being made from Italy, France, and Sweden, though unfortunately theaters are all chain-owned and primarily distribute Hollywood films, and many of those films don't even get North American DVD releases.

And "Forbidden Games" is a wonderful film (along with "The 400 Blows," a film about children made for adults).

Dear DS:

Don't get me wrong, when Ingmar Bergman was trying to be visual and artsy fartsy I was right there with him, such as "The Seventh Seal," or the one I like that nobody saw, "The Serpent's Egg" (astounding Sven Nykvist photography). I also really, really liked "Scenes From a Marriage," which he shot for TV. I like "Autumn Sonata" and "Cries and Whispers," too, but they are mainly close-ups of women in angst, fading to red, which was cool. And I'd say that "The 400 Blows" is Truffaut's best film. It was before Jean-Pierre Leaud sort of didn't grow up and became cute and coy.

Josh

Name: Tim
E-mail: NansemondNative

Good Morning Josh.

Quick statement on this "Cabin Fever" movie...Kids,man in the woods,cabin in the woods, unknown flesh eating virus,foot eating dog and a stupid ass movie. It is currently in the $5.00 bin at Wal-Mart.

Josh how do you get the best Moon shots? We are near a full moon cycle and I want to try again. I've had no real luck with DV and I never have enough light with the Super 8 film. Any suggestions would be helpful.

Thank you for your time.

Tim

Dear Tim:

Those are the choices, super-8 or DV? If you have 160 film try it with super-8. It's easy with 500 speed film in 16mm or 35mm.

Josh

Name:
E-mail:

Dear Josh,

I'm about to start reading the book, The Boys Across the Street, by Rick Sanford. I was wondering what the name of the character is that Rick based on you.

Thanks,
Beth

Dear Beth:

He's named Josh.

Josh

Name: Jason Roth
E-mail: jason@visualnoiz.com

Hey Josh,

I forgot that you shot Hammer non-SAG, interesting. I decided to forge ahead and finish my movie minus the celeb cameo.

To be totally upfront, I had a pipe dream of getting your buddy Bruce to do the cameo, to the point of emailing him and his agent. But I've realized I'm quite naive about the business end of things. In the future, I'll do my homework (and paperwork) before approaching professionals with a project.

Bruce was quite cool in turning me down, but also being very encouraging about the movie. A scholar and a gent!

On the earlier subject of post-nuke flicks, have you seen Cornel Wilde's No Blade of Grass? It's a pretty brutal film, and feels like a precursor to the Mad Max series. From the few Wilde films I've seen (Big Combo, Beach Red), he seems interesting as both an actor & director.

Cheers!
Jason

Dear Jason:

I haven't seen it. I did like "The Naked Prey," which I think is his best film. "Beach Red" was okay at best. "The Big Combo" was good, but he didn't direct it, that was the terrific Joseph Lewis. Cornel Wilde wasn't a great actor, I don't think, but he was all right. He was kind of a stiff matinee idol.

Josh

Name: Question
E-mail: ernstyanning@hotmail.com

<<Speaking of that, anyone see "Burden of Dreams"? Klaus Kinski was a first-class fit thrower, and he wasn't faking.>>

No, never heard of it. Don't know who Klaus Kinski is, or that they had a prostitute around the area for the cast and crew or that Herzog was driven out of the country before he could even get the first shot and had to come back a year later. Have you ever seen Les Blanks' WERNER HERZOG EATS HIS SHOE? I wouldn't pay $30 for BURDEN OF DREAMS but, at least its on Criterion DVD. I might shell out for WEST SIDE STORY in widescreen.

You know, I couldn't really get into CRIES AND WHISPERS, I kept trying to watch it and kept getting distracted. Finally, 25 minutes into the movie, I realized AUTUMN SONATA got into damn near the same story from frame one, and turned it off. You think I made a mistake? Is it really worth sitting through? I liked AUTUMN SONATA. That's probably worth $35.

P.S. And the next big blockbuster showdown for this christmas is: the sequel to the remake of CHEAPER BY THE DOZEN vs. the brand spanking new Dennis Quaid comedy... a remake of YOURS, MINE, AND OURS! And I hear they might start releasing the dvds at the same time as the movies and drive theaters out of business.

Dear Q:

I don't think releasing the DVDs simultaneously with the theatrical release will drive theaters out of business. What they've come to realize is that one thing hasn't got anything to do with the other, or pay-per-view, either, which will also happen at the same time. This way everybody just sees the film in the format they prefer, and Hollywood gets all of its revenue immediately. I liked "Autumn Sonata" better than "Cries and Whispers," but I'm not the world's biggest Bergman fan, either. He's too concerned with people just yakking in close-ups. Did you ever see "Forbidden Games"? The 1951 winner of Best Foreign Film. I'd buy that before either of those Bergman films.

Josh

Name: Rob
E-mail: habejr@mac.com

Dear Josh,

Three questions packed into one...

First off, what are your thoughts on Eli Roth? I saw cabin fever recently, and studied the extras. It had a 1970's glow to it. I can't describe it. In many ways it shocked and affected me like I imagine E/D and Nightmare on Elm Street originally did.

Second - same question for Tim Burton. You never talk about him. I think his last few were just OK, but Edward Scissorhands and Nightmare Before Christmas are among my favorites.


Third, as a writer, not a critic, do you find it easier to write based on real life situations, or completely fictional situations. I have a new group of friends and they have all this love triangle crap going on between them, and it all seems to interesting to pass up - even if it did enter into sci-fi scenario...

Thanks again for answering... You should get some kind of award for this stuff.

-Rob

Dear Rob:

I haven't seen "Cabin Fever." Regarding Tim Burton, I like "Pee Wee's Big Adventure" and "Ed Wood," and I can live without everything else he's done, particularly "Edward Scissorhands." I just answered your third question about a week ago. I mainly don't use my real life for my stories, but that's just me.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

That whole video of Luis Guzman and Rob McKittrick from the waiting set was all a big april fools joke. They released it online as a joke to the people checking Rob's site. It wasn't serious but loads of people stuck up for Rob and loads backed up Luis. First time writer/director Rob McKittrick dedicated 8 or so years of his life to getting his first film finished. And you can read it about it at his site http://www.robmckittrick.com

Now I saw "A History of Violence" today. I thought it was okay maybe boardering on good but not great. Cronenberg has done some great entertaining movies and he should really stick with mainly sci fi stuff because this drama is just not up to par with his other stuff. It almost seemed like a new filmmaker trying to make a drama by ripping off Cronenberg. The acting was great. But the story and structure was a bit late. I had to keep checking my watch. And you know thats never good. I hope his next movie will be better. I still have faith it will. Have you seen it yet Josh? Or are you gonna wait for DVD?

Your fan,
Jonathan

Dear Jonathan:

I haven't seen shit. I'm glad to hear that video was a joke, I hate seeing actors throw trantrums. Speaking of that, anyone see "Burden of Dreams"? Klaus Kinski was a first-class fit thrower, and he wasn't faking.

Josh

Name: Colleen
E-mail: aquavariousmaggots@lissamail.com

Dear Josh:

Are there any high school classes I need to or I should take to help me along my way to becoming a director?

Dear Colleen:

If they offer any film classes, then you should certainly take those. Otherwise, I'd say anything that has to do with writing or reading will be helpful. The more reading the better.

Josh

Name: Franklin
E-mail:

Hey yo. I hate to bother you with a Bruce Campbell question but you're the most reliable source that I have access too, :D

I read on the IMDb that Bruce was the first choice for the lead in Pet Sematary but instead it went to that one guy from Love Potion No. 9. Do you know why Bruce wasn't cast?

Thanks man,
Franklin

Dear Franklin:

Because I guess they didn't choose him. It was down to Bruce or Billy Zane for "The Phantom" and they chose Billy Zane.

Josh

Name: Jeremy Milks
E-mail: admin@homecomingcreations.com

Hey man. First things first, some money issues came up so I won't be ordering a copy of "Hammer" just yet but will hopefully be doing that soon ... because me buying a copy of it is the most important thing to you right now, I'm sure, hehe.

I was just wondering why Bruce Campbell doesn't have something to do with "Hammer" seeing as how he's in most of your other work. Was it like a scheduling conflict, or was there just not a role that he was suitable for?

Jeremy Milks

Dear Jeremy:

"Hammer" was non-SAG so Bruce couldn't do it. He did show up and hang around the set a couple of different days, though.

Josh

Name: Taylor A
E-mail: tapeea@yahoo.com

Dear Josh:

What's the last few movies you've seen in theaters? When is the last time you were excited to see a NEW movie (excluding documentaries) in theatres?

Dear Taylor:

The last movie I saw in the theater was "War of the Worlds," which was enough to put me off going to the theater for years. I was kind of excited to see the restored version of "The Big Red One" last year, but it wasn't very good. I haven't been excited to see a new movie in so long that I can't remember.

Josh

Name: Jeff Alede
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

Roeg's film "Walkabout"... great film?

Dear Jeff:

Not to me. It was okay. A lot of walking, nice photography. Personally, I liked Nicholas Roeg better as a DP. "The Masque of the Red Death," "Far From the Madding Crowd, "Petulia," as well as 2nd unit DP on "Lawrence of Arabia." As a director I find him rather pretentious, although I enjoyed "The Man Who Fell to Earth."

Josh

Name: garin
E-mail: garinshouse@yahoo.com

dear josh,my film friends are all moving to l.a. to try and get there futures started. i'm staying back for two more years to get more experince,i've done 3 films just this year and would like to get 10 total before I leave,who do you think is making a better choice,i know this is not a director queston,it's a some one who went through this question, p.s. i'm going to vancouver, thank you for your time, your fan garin

Dear garin:

You have to do what seems right to you. L.A. will still be there when and if you decide to go. And all of the folks that were right at the edge of having a deal three years before will still be right at the edge of having deal three years later. I moved to L.A. years before Bruce and Sam and it didn't do me the slightest bit of good. Good luck.

Josh

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

Howdy Josh,

I saw that you mentioned Geoff Murphy's brilliant film YOUNG GUNS II, so I felt the need to chime in. It's my favorite movie, hands down. As far as I'm concerned, anyone who appeared in/or worked on YG2 has a lifetime pass from me. Everyone from the main stars to the lowliest extras, I'll never say a bad word about any of them, ever. Lifetime pass. There is nothing any of them could do now to overshadow their work in YG2.

I bought the dvd of ALIEN APOCALYPSE. I liked it even better the second time I saw it. I especially like the ending with Campbell's narration. It leaves me with the impression that there were more adventures for the Great Healer... I'm thinking a sequel may be in order here. I was expecting a SPARTACUS ending where they're all crucified or something, but I was pleasantly surprised. It kind of reminded me of CONAN THE BARBARIAN with that narration at the end. I say go for it, Josh. Fuck the haters. You can crank out another one pronto, and SciFi would probably give you more money than last time considering AA's strong ratings. I bet Campbell would be game for round 2... oh, and I've heard your schpeel about sequels and remakes, so save it. I'm just telling you what I think you should do, take it for what it's worth. That movie was good shit and guys like me really appreciate it. Call me simple, but I have no use for artsy films about gay cowboys eating pudding. Give me giant alien termites and a hot Bulgarian girl wearing nothing but animal pelts and I will give you my money every time... and there are more like me out there, Josh. A lot more.

I also listened to the commentary track, and I'll tell you, you have quite a nice speaking voice. I've listened to other commentaries of yours (RUNNING TIME, STRYKER'S WAR), but it seems your voice has more of a rich baritone to it now that you've aged... perhaps it's all the smoking. But that's a radio voice, there. You could probably do voiceover work with that voice, but you'd have to lose the midwestern accent.

Back to that hot chick in AA. Rosi Chernogorova, eh? Whenever I see a chick that hot, I wonder if she could ever love a guy in a wheelchair. Then I get drunk and cry until I fall asleep. haha. Good talk.

I'll be moseying on now...

Your friend,
Bird

Dear Bird:

No one at Sci Fi is talking about a sequel, nor is the producer, nor would there be any more money than the first one. Just to get you clear on that topic. Sci Fi has had a script of mine for over a year and I don't think anyone's even read it. I'm pleased you liked AA. As to what would capture the heart of a super-model, that's certainly a mystery to me.

Josh

Name: Jack Koperia
E-mail:

Hiya Josh, wondering, what is the most number of movies by one director you have seen? My personal most is the work of the Master of Suspense, Alfred Hitchcock, with 22 seen. I am guessing you can trump that rather easily.

Dear Jack:

I've seen 37 of Hitchcock's films, 36 of John Ford's, 28 of William Wyler's. It's too early to keep counting.

Josh

Name: Angel
E-mail: aesparz2@depaul.edu

Dear Josh,

I knew you wouldn't agree with his taste, but his opinion of what film criticism has degenerated into is interesting. Armond White's taste is somewhat skewered, but the manner in which he writes about film, specifically what he likes and doesn't is far from the conventional criticism. He explains himself in a manner that allows me to see what merit or value one could find in a film that I would normally dismiss. He makes me think a little, I can't think of many other critics today who can do that. However, he is one of the last De Palma-ites. He still adamantly defends that mans work. I can't chart into those dark waters with him.

Also, for Christina M.(who was having difficulty directing an actor), I found this video clip on-line last night and realized that directing any type of production with a stubborn actor has to be one of the most aggravating issues to have to deal with. In the example provided in the link below, first time writer/director Rob McKittric is on the set of his first feature, "Waiting". Granted, he should have been a little more forceful, but this has to be the worst thing that can happen to a director in front of the entire crew:

http://www.thatvideosite.com/view/1008.html

(The video should play automatically)

Thanks,
Angel

Dear Angel:

There's two words for an actor like that, "You're fired." However, if he's been all right for several days of shooting previous to that, so you're stuck with him because he's in too much footage to now fire, then you also know he can be rational because he was those first several days. Then you just have to take him aside and calm him down. You do whatever you have to do to get your movie made.

Josh

Name: Beth
E-mail: oddlief@gmail.com

Dear Josh,

You talked about "Goodfellas" : "His use of the Rolling Stones' "Monkey Man" in "Goodfellas" was terrific". I was wondering what part is this song used in? Good Fellas is one of my favorite movies ever. I enjoy it because of the acting. I am particularly partial to Paul Sorvino's performance.

Beth

Dear Beth:

It's during that wonderful sequence where Ray Liotta is making spagetti sauce, trying to dump a bag of pistols on DeNiro, and make a dope score, while a helicopter keeps following him.

Josh

Name: Jeff Alede
E-mail:

Josh, which of William Wyler's films translate the best to our current time period? Basically, I am looking for a recommendation on his best films, but not ones that appear stodgy and aged now. Thanks.

Dear Jeff:

Nothing of Wyler's translates to today's standards. Wyler's movies were almost all intelligent, well-written films; whereas today's standards are stupid and poorly-written, so none of them are like that. Maybe you're one of those people that thinks that anything in black and white is "stodgy and aged now." I personally prefer it. My instinct is recommend "The Big Country." See how that goes.

Josh

Name: Christina M.
E-mail: spikeddragongurl@aol.com

Dear Josh,

I've been wanting to write in for awhile now, but I'm never sure where to start. But, I really got the urge to write in when in Drama the other day. I've wanted to be a writer/director for a few years now, so I took Drama. The thing is that in Drama 1 you learn to pantomime and do improv, in Drama 2 you act, and in Drama 3 you finally get to direct the drama 2's. I figured this would be good to see if I actually had any skills as a director. Well, my teacher gave me two guys, and out of the pile of old, crinkled, and occasionally moldy plays she had I picked a scene from Blue Denim, where this guy, Arthur is asking his friend about where he can find a doctor to get his girlfriend an abortion. I liked the script and we just finished working on it for the past three weeks. I loved every minute of it. And two weeks in, Windel said I was a good director, and since I hadn't mentioned it as what I actually wanted to do, I felt fantastic! It was the nicest thing anyone had ever said to me. They performed it on stage and it went pretty well, I thought, for it being a high school thing. The other two scenes that day were supposed to be comedic, but I don't remember one person laughing, because the people saying the lines were just saying lines, not what I would call acting. I was a little dissapointed though, when Windel stumbled on a line and messed up part of the blocking, but he nailed it where it counted most.

Now, during this time, the other guy (I am so horrible at remembering names) didn't change much from beginning to end, I kept telling him certain things I wanted him to do, but he never changed. I gave up after awhile and focused my attention on Windel, who I had playing the main character. His problem was with showing emotion, and he didn't seem to understand the frustration his character was going through, and on top of that he asked a question about every little thing, which was a little annoying, but he did it the way I wanted. When he finally got on stage I was worried, but he was able to show the emotions I wanted. I think I was trying to get a little to much out of them, but when the other scenes ended there was a long pause before there were a few claps. When our scene ended everyone was applauding. I think I'm letting my ego get the best of me. I just found out Windel wants to be an actor, and how he plans on going to New York. I must say with some work he could be a good actor.

Have you had trouble with actors constantly asking you how you want them to talk, move, and react? Sorry for being long, I usually don't have this much to say.

Christina M.

Dear Christina:

The good actors don't ask a lot of questions, just the inexperienced ones. I heard Renee Zellweger say on "Inside the Actor's Studio" that she "asks the director thousands of questions," and I made a little mental note -- "Never work with Renee Zellweger." But I'm happy to answer any questions an actor has, and work with them in any way I can. But to me, rehearsal is the time for all the questions. If we're on something that didn't have rehearsal (like all TV), then we don't have the time for a million questions on the set, either. The bottom-line is that I'm a director, not an acting teacher. It's my job to cast the best actors available in every part, then let them play those parts.

Josh

Name: Angel
E-mail: aesparz2@depaul.edu

Dear Josh,

I was wondering if you had any thoughts on the film reviewer Armond White? He's from Detroit and his passion for film is strongly reminiscent of yours. As is his understanding of the problems in the "industry" and even with critics today. If you don't know much about him, You should check out the following link:

http://www.filmmakermagazine.com/winter2004/features/the_critic.php

Despite his somewhat "pop" sensabilities (Music Videos?)he's one of the few critics I respect and trust, with the exception for his excitment of the film, George Washington. I couldn't make it through that one.

Dear Angel:

White has an interesting perspective, but once they got down to specifics I think his taste is up his ass. "Storytelling" is a great film? Bullshit! Wes Anderson has has good craft and great sensibilities? Utter nonsense. "AI" is anything other than hammered shit? Sorry. Sofia Coppola gave a great performance in "Godfather III"? Holy shit, this guy's completely full of crap.

Josh

Name: rob
E-mail: habejr@mac.com

Dear Josh:

Sorry - I don't mean to be a jerk and write twice in one day, but I need a question answered... I'm guessing you've seen An American Werewolf in London. In the famous first transformation scene, Blue Moon is playing in the background. The version used was performed by Sam Cook. The song is featured three times in three different versions in the film, and Cook's is by far the calmest. We also see several cutaway shots to a happy little mickey mouse bobble head. All these happy things are happening while David Naughton's character is screaming in agony as his bones shift. What is this called? I don't know if it should be considered contasting or ironic or something... I've seen the effect in one other film - The 60's... a miniseries from a while back, in the scene where Julia Stiles gives birth, Bob Dylan is playing... Is this used often? What do think of the effect? Thanks again and once again, I'm sorry for writing twice in one day - I imagine writing these things back to everybody must use up a substancial amount of time.

-Rob

Dear rob:

In "American Werewolf" they were just using any goddamn song that had the word "moon" in it, which didn't seem all that clever to me. But the idea, if I understand you correctly, is called scoring -- how well does the music fit the picture. You can have a composer write a score, in which case it should fit perfectly, or you can use extant music or songs. Stanley Kubrick using "The Blue Danube Waltz" for spaceships in "2001" is a good example. As has been pointed out many times recently, both "Mean Streets" and "Fast Times at Ridgemont High" use their song scores very well. Martin Scorsese is good at using songs. His use of the Rolling Stones' "Monkey Man" in "Goodfellas" was terrific. So, how you choose the song can be right on the money, or it can be subtle. And what you can afford, of course.

Josh

Name: Rob
E-mail: habejr@mac.com

Dear Josh,

I'm currently learning how to write simple music that I can use in my short films. Being that my films are mostly horror, I need some tips on how to write scary music. Do you know of some resource or way I can contact someone who knows about this stuff - maybe a q/a thing like this site? Anything would be nice. Thanks, as always...

-Rob

Dear Rob:

I can only recommend listening to scary movie scores you like, then try imitating them. I'm totally non-musical.

Josh

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

Josh,

To be honest, they may not matter to you, but the reason I loath Barbra Streisand is mainly because of her ego. I like her as an actress in a few films, however, I never liked her music and if she fell off the face of the earth I could care less.

Eventually, the ego problem casues the demise of an artist and it is almost always the case.

To say that ego doesn't matter negates the fact that we are all human and once you put yourself above that idea you have pretty much destroyed your own being.

I do agree that it takes a certain amount of egomania to be very successful in your pursuits as an artist, but to be too hyperfocused internally while not embracing the world around you is the death of any human being no matter if they are an artist, a scientist or a truck driver. No offense George!

Scott

Dear Scott:

I didn't say being an egomaniac was a good trait, I just said it was common amongst great artists. And maybe it's an important part of what makes them what they are. And in the course of time, I don't think it matters. Maybe Ludwig Von Beethoven was crashing bore, but who cares now? If the art is good enough, only the art goes on.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

I am reading "This Is Orson Welles" as we speak. Though I haven't reached the parts regarding Amberson's yet, well I'm on the chapter it's in I just haven't started reading it yet.

This is such a wonderful book and Welles is a very funny man. I love how he lied while in Ireland so he could act, saying he was a big actor back in America. Or the moments he in Bogdanovich share with Peter keeps trying to slip back into "Citizen Kane" after Welles keeps changing the subject.

I do agree that the 43 minutes would make the movie a little hard to watch and I really do love the movie just the way it is, after I finish "This Is Orson Welles" I'll pick up Tarkington's novel and the script.

Dear Trey:

More than almost any other adaption of novel to film, I feel Welles's love for Tarkington's book. Yes, wasn't it wonderful how Bogdanovich feels secure enough with Welles to keep bringing it back to "Kane," and not let him off the hook? I think Bogdanovich is a terrific interviewer, and Welles couldn't be more interesting of an interviewee.

Josh

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

Josh,

At forty years of age, I still smile when I watch Rocky and Bullwinkle, though more for the secondary cartoons than the two primaries.

We've mentioned "Holiday", and I wondered if you had ever noted the parallels between Johnny Case and James McKay from "The Big Country". I've always thought they represented the same man at opposite sides of the great exploration of life. Case wants to see the world, McKay has just returned from it. Both are motivated by ideals and principals, and are misunderstood because of it. Both essentially begin pursuing the wrong "sister" ("Julie" and "Patricia", TBC, were childhood friends). I wouldn't take it too far, but I find the similarities interesting.

John

Dear John:

I never made the connection, but I do see it now that you've pointed it out. That's about the extent of the similarities, though. But they're both good motivated characters who know what they stand for, but are being befuddled by the hearts. They're both very good movies, too. There's nothing like a strong-minded lead character who knows who they are.

Josh

Name: Beth
E-mail:

Dear Josh,

Thank you very much for the answer to my question. I felt it was like it was a nice rousing of the troops. I will try and see that movie you suggested, "Charming Billy". All right, I have another off subject question for you. I was wondering about when people give you their phone numbers in these posts. Do you ask them if they are all right with having their phone numbers on the Internet when you post their notes? I realize that by giving my email address I open myself up to spam, but I'm not too certain those people realize that they are doing the same when they send you their phone numbers. I know you value your privacy and so I suspect that you would do the same for others, but can't be completely certain until I ask.

Sincerely,
Beth

Dear Beth:

Of course, I don't want anybody sending me their phone numbers, so if they get posted that's their problem. I certainly am not calling any of these people.

Josh

Name: Robert
E-mail: flyboyinla@aol.com

Dear Josh:

Your comments on religion are brilliantly accurate and true. You took the words right out of my mouth.

Sadly, America is regressing rapidly toward the evil of religions. And amazingly, we bitch about the Taliban. Many folks in the USA are pretty close to those evil fools.

Dear Robert:

There's no difference. If you're religious, you believe in nonsense. All religions are equally nonsensical. You can dress it up in any form you'd like and it's all the same thing. Religion is simply superstition and anti-logic. As Bill Maher just put it, the USA has become so Christian that it's new name should be The Unites States of Jesus Christ, and instead of E Plurubis Unum, our new slogan should be, "I'm with stupid."

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

I finally saw "The Magnificent Amberson's" this past weekend on Turner Classic Movies(I would have seen it much earlier but as there is no DVD release in the US it's not on Netflix)and it was simply amazing. The cinematography was beautiful, the acting was great, the script was great, and Orson Welles' direction was at it's best.

My question to you is: do you think the film would have been better than it already is if Welles' cut had seen the light of day? I mean, 43 minutes was cut out of the film while he was away in South America. That's a huge chunk of movie in regards to the what Welles wanted to show us.

Also, do you think Welles would have turned out more films on the same level as "Citizen Kane" and "Amberson's" if RKO had continued giving him complete control of his films? Or do you think there are other things that factored into his downfall in the film industry?

Dear Trey:

You need to read "This is Orson Welles" by Peter Bogdanovich. It's a 350-page interview with Welles, and you also get the script pages of the scenes that were edited out. I've read Booth Tarkington's novel twice, and I've seen the movie about 25 times, and my opinion is I like it the way it is. Another 43 minutes would have made that film extremely difficult to sit through, and most of what was eliminated (by editor Robert Wise) wasn't necessary. That very last scene, directed by Norman Foster, is terrible, but it does get you out. The only scene I would like to see restored is the big party, although what's there is so wonderful I don't lament the loss. But at 88 minutes, there's a lot of movie there. Yes, of course, Welles would have thrived with financing and complete control, but that he got it at all is incredible.

Josh

Name: DS
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

Well, I know you were a big Allen fan when he started out (I've read how many times you saw "Play it Again, Sam") so I shouldn't have said you're not a fan, you were very devoted until Allen started making films you didn't care for. As for me, and Allen is one of my very favorite directors, I'd say he was at the height of his power until "Husbands and Wives" because I do love many of his films in between "Manhattan" and "Wives," though you and I solidly disagree on that (the arguement simply ends when you say he stopped putting time into his scripts and of course that you don't like Mia Farrow in his films...by the way, as far as I know, he spends months trying to get his scripts right). As for his most recent work, I personally think that "Anything Else" and "Melinda and Melinda" are classic Allen. He's about as ready to retire as Ingmar Bergman is at 87 (though Bergman actually is retiring after "Saraband," his sequel to "Scenes from a Marriage"). My opinion, of course, even though we can respectfully disagree. With that said, I very much enjoy reading what you have to say about the Allen films you like; it always touches me that somebody else has seen some of those as much as I have.

And yes, Rotunno is just god damn amazing, I was pretty sure you dug his stuff. To see "The Leopard" and "Satyricon" in a theater is just so damn parylizing. I've also seen "Fellini's Casanova," which very few have seen (a very interesting film indeed, and it really gave Rotunno a lot of creative air to demonstrate his skill). And "Carnal Knowledge" is just gorgeous (though that's seriously a film that has everything: gorgeous script, perfect performances, masterfully framed by Rotunno). Take care.

Dear DS:

I'm sure it's not Mr. Rotunno's favorite subject, but he even made that miserable piece of shit "Popeye" look great. Ingmar Bergman did retire from directing movies in 1983, after "Fanny and Alexander." Bergman's retirement, however, has been sort of like Muhamad Ali's. Meanwhile, you brought it up, but "Anything Else" was just awful. I really find his films an embarrassment now. Jason Biggs and Christina Ricci are SO unappealing, and so utterly NOT funny it caused me physical pain. Leonard Maltin's assessment is "The filmmaker's all-time worst movie," which I might agree with, but I think he's got a half dozen films that tie with it, like "Alice," "Celebrity," "Deconstructing Harry," "Bullets Over Broadway," "September," and "Hollywood Ending."

Josh

Name: clueless
E-mail: amsneece@yahoo.com

Hello, This is the first time I'm writing to you. I was recommended by others who write you about writing and directing movies. I'm interested in photography. I would like to know how you light a night scene indoors and outdoors? Do you use a back light, or some kind of source light and maybe some florescent light in the front of the person? Are reflectors good to use indoor or outdoors?

Angela

Dear clueless:

That got me thinking, here at 5:07 AM. One way to light an interior night scene is that you first have to black out the windows so that no sunlight is visible, then replace the bulbs in the lamps and fixtures that are really there with brighter bulbs (or shoot faster film), or key to the lamps, known as "practicals," because they're really there. On an exterior, first of all is it Day for Night or Night for Night? If it's Night for Night, then you need at least one bright light to emulate the moon, or you need some practical source, like a streetlight or front house lights, or car headlights. You can either use white light or use blue gels in front of the lights. Day for Night is a whole other can of worms. You generally under-expose by 2 stops and put either a blue or green filter on the lens, or both. Reflectors are good anywhere, as are white cards or silks, to kick back a softer fill light. I'd avoid flourescent light whenever possible. It's ugly and it flickers. Mercury vapor lights should generally also be avoided, in that it's a greenish light that makes people look like reptiles. If you go with a big backlight, particularly at night, without some sort of fill light you'll only have silhouettes, and that can be a cool effect, if it's what you're looking for. If I haven't answered your question, try rephrasing it.

Josh

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

Josh,

I agree that "Pictures at an Exhibition" is an amazing album and there are still single songs that I love by ELP, a few of them being "Take a Pebble", and also "Knife's Edge".

I think their first album, "Pictures at an Exhibition" and "Trilogy" are my favorties.

Greg Lake had one of the best voices in Rock as far as I am concerned, but I think things really fell apart when each one of them would limit each other to a 20 minute solo spot each night on the tour and if one of them went a minute over the other two would pitch a fit.

The topper was when they embarked on the biggest tour ever conceived in rock history at the time in 1977, including a 77 piece orchestra and choir, Lakes's persion rug and its handlers, and Palmer's Karate instructor.

The tour nearly bankrupt them and they soon became the brunt of the punk movement which was well justified by that time., and then they released "Love Beach". Talk about not knowing when to quit. Peeewww!

Anyhow, I am still fond of the band just not their egos.

Scott

Dear Scott:

It often takes big egos to create great works. Which brings us to an interesting topic, I think. Does it matter who the artist is or was? Michelangelo could have been the biggest asshole of all time, but does it matter? I say no. Barbra Striesand might be a controlling bitch, but does that make her voice any less beautiful? Richard Wagner was a an infamous anti-Semite, but does that make "Tristan und Isolde" and less lovely? That Greg Lake and Keith Emerson's egos were wigging out during their very short heyday doesn't seem even slightly surprising to me, nor do I think it matters in the slightest.

Josh

Name: DS
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

I beg to differ with the person who said that "Melinda and Melinda" isn't as good as "Hollywood Ending" (which is definitely in Allen's bottom five). I really liked "Melinda," which I thought was vastly more human, intelligent, and delightful than anything Allen has done in many years (I'd say that out of the 36 Allen's I've seen, I'd rank it as #10). Josh, since you don't like any post-Manhattan Woody Allen (except "Husbands and Wives") I'd say you wouldn't like it. But I'm very, very surprised that somebody would say it's not as good as "Hollywood Ending," which as you said is really the bottom of his barrel.

Meanwhile, to change the subject since I know you're not really an Allen fan, what do you think of Giuseppe Rotunno?

Dear DS:

Giuseppe Rotunno is one of the great DPs. He's a master. "The Leopard" and "Carnal Knowledge" and "Satyricon" and Casanova" and "All That Jazz" and "Wolf." His lighting is awesome. Meanwhile, it some pains me to hear someone say that I'm not a Woody Allen fan. I was his biggest fan for years, from "Take the Money and Run" through "Manhattan," and that's a decade. I saw "Love and Death" and "Annie Hall" in the theater six times each. But then I watched his decline, from one unfunny movie to another to another, etc. His movies are unbearable to me now. And it's sad losing a hero.

Josh

Name: Beth
E-mail:

Dear Josh,

I was wondering, does it ever seem like you are answering the same question over and over again? And if so, is that why you are willing to expanding the boundaries of this forum to things like current affairs?

Beth

Dear Beth:

Yes. I love writing, and I enjoy being forced to think first thing in the morning, as well as the hope that I'm occasionally helpful to someone who actually needs it. For me anyway, politics are so aggravating at this point that it's better, for the most part, to not discuss it. Not that I'm not willing to, of course, but what's left to be said? But movies just go on and on. And if people just had their eyes open a little bit, and were also forcing themselves to think a little bit, there are plenty of interesting movies to discuss. This nonsense of people recommending movies to me is an avoidance, I believe, of saying, "I saw this movie last night, and I thought it was great and here's why . . . " Fine, now we can both decide whether we want to see it or not based on the review. For instance, I saw a perfectly legitimate indie feature last night, made with a reasonably clear vision and an understanding of the film form, that's probably worth discussing -- "Charming Billy." It was made in Illinois in 1999, and I saw it on IFC. It was 16mm blown up to 35mm, and they used the same lab I did on RT, Metropolis Lab in New York. Anyway, a guy gets pushed so far that he goes up on a water tower and begins shooting anyone who comes past. The whole story is in flashbacks getting him to the point of climbing the tower, and I thought it was handled pretty well. It seemed like a real independent feature, as opposed to phony "Indies" with all-star casts. Has anyone else seen it?

Josh

Name: Dave
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

The Quiet Earth is an interesting survivalist movie which takes the usual themes of loneliness and freedom to some pretty strange places. Highlight of the film is Bruno Lawrence kicking down the door to a church and appearing in shot wearing a white wedding dress and sporting a shotgun. He proceeds to attempt to hold a statue of Christ ransom, taunting God "if you don't come out I'll shoot the kid!"

Regarding Richard Matheson, aside from the 'I am Legend' movies, has he had anything else made into a movie? Any good?

Dear Dave:

Has Richard Matheson had anything else made into movies? There's a couple of things, like: "The Incredible Shrinking Man," "The Beat Generation," "The House of Usher," "Master of the World," "The Pit and the Pendulum," "Burn Witch Burn" "Tales of Terror," "The Raven," "The Comedy of Terrors," "The Last Man on Earth," "Die Die My Darling," "The Young Warriors," "The Devil's Bride," "De Sade," "Cold Sweat," "The Omega Man," "The Legend of Hell House," "Dracula" ('79), "Somewhere in Time," "The Incredible Shrinking Woman," "Twilight Zone--The Movie," "Jaws 3-D," and "Loose Cannons," to name a few.

Josh

Name: Leepy
E-mail:

Hey Josh

Someone recommended The Quiet Earth today; a Kiwi film along the lines of Richard Matheson's I Am Legend. I'll watch it this week.

Anyhow - Slow or fast zombies? Discuss.


Lee

Dear Leepy:

It sounds interesting. Maltin gives it two and a half stars, whatever that's worth. It was directed by Geoff Murphy, who came to Hollywood and made "Young Guns II," then seemingly disappeared off the quiet earth. I worked with Geoff Murphy's daughter and former wife on "Hercules." Meanwhile, zombies aren't really worth discussing.

Josh

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

Josh,

I had a conversation with an otherwise well-educated 21-year old who wasn't aware that Jackson's "King Kong" is a remake. I set her straight (Kong '33, "Joe Young", "Son of Kong"), but, wow! Another friend, about the same age, had never heard of Cary Grant. Repent, for the end is nigh.

I saw "Shall We Dance" this morning on TCM. It'd been years, maye twenty, since I'd seen it last. I love Astaire, but Rogers is just terrific. I did notice that Astaire is more comfortable on the skates, though.

"Dance" also had Edward Horton who was one of my favorites. My favorite of his was probably "Holiday". Was he ever the lead, and could you recommend something, maybe less-played, of his? Thanks,

John

Dear John:

I came to Edward Everett Horton first as young kid through Fractured Fairytales on Rocky & Bullwinkle (for which he was the narrator), then in the Astaire-Rogers films. I love "Holiday," too. Just as a little trivia, Horton made over 150 films, starting in the early 1920s. His only lead part may have been in the 1922 version of "Ruggles of Red Gap." His last film was "Cold Turkey" in 1971, a film I thought was very funny. Just like Jack Benny could always get a laugh saying, "Well . . . " Edward Everett Horton could always get a laugh saying, "Oh, dear." I'm laughing now thinking about it.

Josh

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

Josh,

The Hyde park footage of King Crimson that Jon is refering to is all there is of that performance and all of it was shot without sound, and it is owned by the BBC as they filmed all the Hyde Park performances over the years.

There is an offical live audio recording of the show on CD which you can get now.

The Hyde park concerts were free concerts in London that a lot of bands liked to play including Pink Floyd and Roy Harper.

As for Someone lighting Greg Lake's cigarettes, you have realize that you had three enormous egos in one band and I mean huge egos.

At one point, Lake actually had some guy laying a out a Persian rug for his spot on stage wherever they performed and he had about three people to vacum it. If it wasn't spotless before he took the stage, he would pitch a fit.

I used to love ELP, but having listened to so many different prog rock bands over the years, I think their music holds up the least of any of the band from that period, even though as you said Josh, "They did not sound like anything else" which is true, I would still take King Crimson's(The noddling period), Pink Floyd, Early Genesis, and early YES and a few other prog bands not as successful and more obscure over ELP today.

I met Greg Lake once when I still lived in Michigan, and he was in his 40's at the time. I could tell that he was living in the past and hoping for the "salad days" to return when someone idiot would vacum his Persian rug.

He was a decent enough guy, but not very happy, and the three of them did not get along at all.

I did not grow up during that era, but I grew up on prog rock and it still remains some of my favorite style of music, however, I have a hard time listening to ELP and even more so now.

Enjoy the documentary it's not bad.

Scott

Dear Scott:

I listened to ELP yesterday, and, as usual, when the CD was over I played it again. I admit that I now primarily only listen to their first album and "Pictures at an Exhibition," and to a lessr extent "Tarkus," and otherwise it's just individual songs ("Still You Turn Me On" is a great song). But I really do think that "Pitcures at an Exhibition" is a true highlight in rock & roll, and somewhat unparalleled. To take a full-length classical symphony (by Modest Mussorgsky), completely rearrange it for rock & roll, then add lyrics to several sections, while all the while sticking exactly to the symphony, I think is astounding. And it's performed live by a trio. No other band could do that given a year in a studio with an entire orchestra and unlimited funds, while ELP sort of did effortlessly, and no paid much attention to it. All three of them are at their youthful best at that point, too, and Greg Lake has a beautiful voice.

Josh

Name: alex
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

i saw a small interview with bruce campbell and he said they are working on a "where are they now" documentary for the new evil dead dvd. have they interviewed you for this yet? are they going to? why havnt you been on the dvds before, like on a commentary track or a interview.

also i dont recall you ever saying what you thought about bruce's two books. did you like them?

thanks

Dear alex:

Do they often interview the 2nd unit lighting & sound guy on DVD commentaries? Regarding the "Where are they now?" thing, I don't believe that anyone has been interviewed for it yet. I was recently interviewed for the Ladies of the "Evil Dead" documentary that's on the most recent British release of ED. Bruce's books are great, have you got a comment to make about them?

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

I've been reading your articles again and actually been trying to walk around or sit outside my house saying "Whats a good idea?" its brought up some possible suggestions but nothing that would make a good story. So I'm gonna have to do some hard and long soul searching. My friend John (also a fellow filmmaker in town) knows a producer/actor from Michigan who might help me at some point if I can just get a script off the ground. I'll have to shoot a 30 minute short before then to help raise the cash (like you did with Thou Shalt not) but I will try to get something moving. My big question is: How long does it generally take for you to come up with a good idea? Or is that just a ludicrous question.

Also I just saw "Melinda and Melinda" -- a movie about how any story can be shifted to make it a drama or comedy. Its an okay movie but not one of Woody Allen's best new movie. "Hollywood Ending" was much better.

Your fan,
Jonathan

Dear Jonathan:

"Hollywood Ending" was unbearble; truly the rock-bottom of Woody Allen's career. He needs to retire. As for good ideas, there are many, many writers who have never had one. And what is a "good idea" anyway? It's an idea you think is good. What's the difference between taking a shit and taking a good shit? It's all in your mind. You'll have a good idea when you think you have a good idea, which could take an hour or it could take the rest of your life. Good luck.

Josh

Name: diane
E-mail: boulderdiane2006@yahoo.com

Hello,

I own the exclusive rights to a recorded musical collcetion that spans 20 years by one composer. My former husband transferred the rights to me because he wanted to trade ownership to me for something that I owned. Now, I do own it, although he created it. His signature melodies have been stolen and plagarized by many in the musical recording industry.

Lately, Santana, Sting, Stevie Wonder, earlier, CSN, the eagles, Michael Jackson. Mostly, I wish to gather together a band to re-record some of the music, to put some songs, melodies, out there, along with the true story of the composer, although he is ashamed of the true story, a victim of a car accident, recorded tape collection stolen, I need some advise so I am writing to you.

I am a writer, so I am reclusive.

Thank you for your excellence in service to me.

All statements are true and correct, to the best of my knowledge, and are being made under penalties of perjury, all Courts.

Dear diane:

I just make low-budget movies, I don't know nothin' 'bout birthin' babies. I'm afraid I can offer you no excellence. All of my statements are also true and correct. Good luck.

Josh

Name: CosmicBrat
E-mail: occultrush@yahoo.com

Dear Josh

In regards to "directing" an item into a flow..

Is it that you orchastrate a bunch of unconscious variables...?

and/or are you creating new-reality...? (or simply a stream of new-thought...?)...

Dear CosmicBrat:

I don't know what you're talking about. Are you referring to the juxtaposition of one shot against another shot?

Josh

Name: Jon Kenworthy
E-mail: monsterkilledbylaser@yahoo.co.uk

Hi Josh

Thanks for the response to the question I posted a while back regarding King Crimson. I recently got the new ELP dvd Beyond the Beginning. Just wondering if you've seen it or plan to purchase it. Personally I think its pretty darn amazing, the 17 minutes of rehearsal footage is pretty insightful (though Greg Lake smokes far too much and appears to have someone on hand to light his cigarettes for him), the only weak point on the dvd for me is the Crimson footage featuring Greg Lake (and maybe Tiger in the Spotlight), the reason for this was that it was footage from their Hyde Park performance edited down to around 1 and a half minutes with the album version of Schizoid Man playing over it. Anyway enough of my rambling. If you haven't got it then I recommend it.

Dear Jon:

It sounds great, I'd love to see it.

Josh

Name: Question
E-mail: ernstyanning@hotmail.com

Dear Josh:

Why is MEMPHIS BELLE which was released in the early 90s a really shitty movie, but ROB ROY, released in 1995 by the same director, a really good one in terms of acting, script, directing, music, structure? I think Jessica Lange had the best part in the movie and I like how the screenplay sort of just builds to that one line: "It's not the child that needs killing."

I think the most embarrasing part in MEMPHIS BELLE is when they are proposing shoving a wounded soldier out the plane with a parachute hoping the enemy will help him, because Billy Zane doesn't have the proper medical training, but then they actually drag the plot along with the stupid idea of Zane doing the operation (even though he doesn't know how to). Shitty acting, shitty special effects, shitty script. How could this possibly be the same guy who directed ROB ROY? It's enough to make me want to hide in a dead animal.

P.S. Did you get to see WAIT UNTIL DARK in the theater or were you too young? I think you were a kid when it came out. The ending freaked me out. Alan Arkin kind of reminds me of Dustin Hoffman/MIDNIGHT COWBOY for some reason.

Dear Q:

Yes, I did see "Wait Until Dark" in the theater on its original release in 1967, and the ending scared the hell out of me. I was nine. Audrey Hepburn and Alan Arkin are both great, and Richard Crenna and Jack Weston are both good, too. Regarding Michael Caton-Jones, "Rob Roy" is his only good film. "Scandal" was okay, and "This Boy's Life" had it's moments (with DeNiro giving an absurd performance), but "Memphis Belle," "Doc Hollywood," and "The Jackel" are all crap. What's he done for us recently?

Josh

Name: Jeremy Milks
E-mail: admin@homecomingcreations.com

Dear Josh:

If it ever comes to the point where I have to pick one thing to do and do well, it'd be movies. I'd like to work in as many mediums as possible, but film is goal.

Hey, I was wondering if you'd ever seen the movie "The Big Picture" starring Kevin Bacon? I just got done watching it because I found it for a buck on video at a movie rental store. I know one of the actors in it so I figured I'd give it a see. Not the greatest film ever made, but I like a few parts of it and I like the message it was trying to get across.

Just wondered what your take on the film was.

Jeremy Milks

Dear Jeremy:

I enjoyed it, and I've seen it a couple of times. I really liked Jennifer Jason Lee's student film. The whole bit with J.T. Walsh as the studio executive changing his story into something entirely different is actually very realistic, in its own silly way. I also loved Martin Short as the agent, "I don't know you, I don't know your work, but you're a genius." I actually had an agent who said that. There's quite a bit of truth in that film.

Josh

Name: Bob
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

Do you actually recommend the movie 'JFK?' I have always avoided it since it seemed as if it were based on fantasy and also I had enough of the Zapruder film after seeing it 150 times on Geraldo's documentary back in 1988.

Dear Bob:

I absolutely recommend "JFK," it's a terrific piece of filmmaking, is the best use of mixing color and black and white footage together, has a brilliant cast, great photography. Gary Oldman makes a great Lee Harvey Oswald, Brian Doyle Murray is very good as Jack Ruby, it's probably John Candy's best performance, and possibly Kevin Costner's best performance, too. The entire Sissy Spacek sub-plot is extraneous, but it doesn't add up to much. I personally don't buy Oliver Stone's premise, that LBJ was behind the assassination because he was in cahoots with military to escalate the Vietnam war, but that's Stone's take, and he presents it forcefully. But I do think it's an important movie because it brought the nagging questions of JFK's murder back up and got people talking and thinking about it again. If you'd like my take on it, read my script "Head Shot: The True Story of JFK's Assassination."

Josh

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

Dear Josh,

There's another halfway decent review of the AA dvd at http://www.ugo.com/channels/filmtv/features/brucecampbellforever/alienapocalypse.asp - although initially, they refer to it being directed by "Josh Campbell."

Regards,

August

Dear August:

Thanks for keeping me abreast of the AA reviews, which I certainly wouldn't find on my own. Yes, I'm initially "Josh Campbell," but I switch to plain old "Becker" after a while. Meanwhile, I don't know what they're talking about when they say that the transfer of AA is shadowy and not very good. It's a perfectly fine transfer, and it's not "shadowy" at all. I've got gripes with many other things, but not the transfer.

Josh

Name: Jason Roth
E-mail: jason@visualnoiz.com

Hey Josh,

Thanks for the kind words awhile back (and recommending the Borgnine on the Bus doc), it means a lot! I've got a slightly odd filmmaking question/situation for you.

I've completed principal filming (and most of the editing) on my film, but I am looking into pursuing a celeb cameo for a very small add-on scene. My production is completely and utterly low-to-no-budget, and the actor in question is a longtime SAG member.

I know next to nothing about how SAG works with indie productions, and their website isn't much help. After glancing at their contracts, I realize I don't have record of my production expenses to prove the budget of my movie. Am I just shit out of luck trying to get a SAG actor after the bulk of principal production is complete?

I haven't contacted the actor in question, since I'd like to have my act together before I do. The cameo thing may be more trouble than it's worth, but I'd like to at least take a stab at it. If you have any advice, it'd be much appreciated!

Best,
Jason

Dear Jason:

Theoretically, you can't do it. You're not allowed to mix SAG and non-SAG. To hire a SAG actor you would have to run a proper SAG shoot, at least for the time you're shooting with the actor, meaning doing all the correct paperwork, putting up the actor's fee in advance, etc. And I don't think you can do that on a film that's already been shot non-SAG. Pursue it and see what people say, but I think you're shit out of luck.

Josh

Name: Jeremy Milks
E-mail: admin@homecomingcreations.com

Dear Josh: Yeah, of course there is always the possibility of having a film do badly and then never being able to get anymore work ever.

TV shows don't seem to get full season runs anymore if they don't do well, which saddens me. I'd personally like to work in as many fields as possible. Movies, TV, Novels, Comics, Video Games, Radio, etc. I think all shows should get full season runs and should get that season released on DVD ... even if it sucks. Or hell, now days I guess you could release every episode as a video download from i-tunes I guess.

Oh well. Happy belated Halloween by the way.

Jeremy Milks

Dear Jeremy:

It's been said, "It's not important to know a lot about a lot of things; it's only important to know a lot about one thing." Something to think about.

Josh

Name: Beth
E-mail: oddlief@gmail.com

Dear Josh,

When I tell people that I want to write for a living I am often told these two mantras. One is that you should write everyday, no matter what. And the other is to write from what you know. My Questions for you are: How much weight do you give those two separate ideas? Also how often do you write from your own experience in terms place and character of those close to you? Have you ever written a screenplay under these terms of place and character?

Cheers,
Beth

Dear Beth:

They're both good pieces of advice. I write everyday, and I think it's necessary to stay fluid and not clog up. Writing what you know makes perfect sense, but I also think that writing what you want to learn, meaning doing research, is just as good. Then there's the whole realm of the fantastic, which you can't really know, you just have to dream up. The truest script I've ever written is "The Biological Clock," which is not a true story, but based on real people I know, as well as myself. Then would probably come "Buds," which is also not a true a story, but the two lead characters are based on my buddy and co-writer, Paul Harris, and I. Beyond that, I don't really use my actual life as the basis of most of my stories. I do, however, try to invest the characters in my scripts with aspects of myself, my relatives, and my friends.

Josh

Name: P.S.
E-mail: ernstyanning@hotmail.com

Dear Josh:

You kind of remind me of Alan Squire. Except for the cabana boy thing and add more marijuana.

Dear P.S.:

I don't know who Alan Squire is.

Josh

Name: Question
E-mail: ernstyanning@hotmail.com

<<But I could throw out all of those Best Picture tapes right now and not care at all. Physical stuff means very little to me.>>

If my apartment burned down, the only items I would bother with are the photo albums, the marriage license, and leather case of dvds. I know the movies can be replaced, but it was a real bitch to gather these together and arrange them chronologically. Surely there is something you would save... the film negatives? Or do you keep them in a safe place?

Dear Q:

All of my film elements, including the negatives and soundtracks, are in a film vault in L.A.(and are right next to the original negatives of The Beatles' films). The only thing that matters to me is my journal, which I've been keeping for 30 years and is tens of thousands of pages long. Otherwise, it can all go.

Josh

Name: Blake in Missouri
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

Very interesting on John Ford's run. It got me to thinking if there were any other great runs of five or more films.

Coppola had "The Godfather, parts I & II," "The Conversation," "Apocalypse Now," and perhaps "Rumble Fish," (although I don't know of too many others that loved the last one like I do).

Bogdanovich had "Targets," "The Last Picture Show," "What's Up, Doc?," and "Paper Moon." (Only four, but pretty damn slick).

Ploanski had everything from "Repulsion," in 1965 up through "Tess," in 1979. That's 9 pretty spectactular films in 14 years. But, of course, five spectactular films in a year and a half...well, that's just inconceivable nowadays.

Except, I guess, for Oliver Stone who made "Salvador," and "Platoon" in '86 and ran well through (in my opinion) "Nixion" in '96. That's ten films in ten years, although a few were rather in question. That's the most recent series of great films I can think of.

And certainly Hitchcock, Huston and Wyler had their share of brilliant runs, but they are also of that long gone era.

Blake

Dear Blake:

William Wyler had the best and longest run of great movies, from "These Three" in 1936 through "Ben-Hur" in 1959, which is 19 great movies in a row, with two documentraies during the war, one of which, "Memphis Belle," won an Oscar. Regarding Francis Coppola, I'd back him him up one film and give him "Patton" as well, up through "Apocalypse Now," so that's five great films in 9 years. You really can't go past "One From the Heart," though, which is such a monumental misfire that it basically destroyed his career. For me, Peter Bogdanovich is a one film director, with "The Last Picture Show." "Targets" was a nice lead-up, and it's okay, but it's certainly not a great film, and I can't go with you to "What's Up, Doc," which many people seem to think is a lot funnier than I do, and "Paper Moon," which is okay, too, but also not great. I think you're going too far with Polanski as well. Within that run you mention are also "The Fearless Vampire Killers," a complete bomb, and "What?" an even bigger bomb, nor I would I include "Tess," which is pretty, but very dull. So that would leave you from "Rosemary's Baby" in 1968 through "The Tenant" in 1976. For me anyway, Oliver Stone goes from "Platoon" in 1986 through "JFK" in 1991, with that pretentious piece of crap "Talk Radio" in there. "Nixon" laid a big egg as far as I, and most others, were concerned.

Josh

Name: Jeff Alede
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

Criterion will soon be releasing "A Young Mr. Lincoln", one of John Ford's old classics. What is your opinion of this film?

Dear Jeff:

It's just "Young Mr. Lincoln," no A. I liked it, and I thought Henry Fonda was a terrific choice for young Abe. That's when John Ford was at the peak of his career. In the course of about 18 months he made: "Drums Along the Mohawk," "Young Mr. Lincoln," "Stagecoach," "The Long Voyage Home," "The Grapes of Wrath" and "How Green Was My Valley," four of which were nominated for Best Picture, two of which won Ford Best Director (he won four Best Director Oscars in total, more than any other director), and one of those films won Best Picture. That's a helluva run.

Josh

Name: Jeremy Milks
E-mail: admin@homecomingcreations.com

Dear Josh:

I'm sorry, I explained myself poorly. I'll try again and hope I make more sense.

Yes, a movie is more difficult to make than a tv show. But with a movie, yeah there's a lot of hard work that goes into it. Character development, figuring out the plot, etc. But once the movie gets made, even if it blows, it's made and you can move on. With a tv show, at least now days, if you're show doesn't do well in the first 2 or 3 episodes, they'll cancel you. Like, the show Head Cases on Fox. I didn't watch the show, but it didn't look very good. They showed 2 episodes, canceled it. For all I know, that show may have become really funny when it got to the third episode, but it wasn't really given a chance and once you're canceled, there isn't anywhere you can go with it.

I hope I'm making more sense this time.

Jeremy Milks

Dear Jeremy:

I think we keep getting into issues of semantics. Whether you've made a movie and it's finished, or you've made four episodes of a TV show and it gets canceled, they're both done. What's the difference? And many shows have a 13-episode, or a 24-episode, order and no matter how bad they are, or how poor the ratings are, you're still going to get all 13 or 24 of them. Spielberg got a two-season guarantee on "Sea Quest," and by halfway through the 1st season nobody was watching it, but it continued on for three seasons. And who says you can necessarily move on after your movie gets made and possibly tanks? Most people don't move on, they get destroyed.

Josh

Name: Question
E-mail: ernstyanning@hotmail.com

<<"Polymorphically Perverse?">>

Do not try to reverse a Custard decision... ah fuck it. You said you own all the Best Pictures on video, but you're "not a collector"? go figure. I assume they're in pan and scan. Doesn't it annoy you if you can't see the film in widescreen, like say, THE APARTMENT. I think quality and clarity have a great deal to do with enjoying a movie (but then again, I just saw REVENGE OF THE SITH and that movie sucked).

I watched EXODUS for Halloween. What'd you do?

Dear Q:

None of the tapes are pan and scan. I don't watch pan and scan versions of anything. And I didn't even know that I was collecting the Best Pictures until my friend built me a shelf for my tapes about 14 years ago, and when I was putting them up I began to realize that I had quite a few of the Best Pictures and began putting them on their own shelf, in order. I quickly saw that I had over half of them, maybe about 35-40, so I just kept taping them off TV when they appeared in their proper ratios. Soon I had them all. I've begun getting them one by one on DVD, but I don't really care. The only thing I collect are the Pulitzer Prize-winning novels in 1st editions, and books in general, but there's no rhyme or reason to that. But I could throw out all of those Best Picture tapes right now and not care at all. Physical stuff means very little to me. On Halloween I gave away candy to kids, and watched "Inventing the Abbotts," which I kind of liked.

Josh

Name: Duke Mantee
E-mail: lukea14@hotmail.com

Josh,

I recall reading in an earlier Q&A that a friend of yours has been shooting a feature on a Bolex off and on for a few years in his apartment, shooting when he has the time, etc. I was wondering what type of lighting equipment you'd need for such a camera, especially if one were to shoot a short thriller?

Dear Duke:

I always liked that name, Duke Mantee, which, for those of you who don't know, was Humphrey Bogart's first big film role in "The Petrified Forest." Anyway, my buddy Paul, who's been shooting his 16mm film for 7-8 years now (we almost got a shot yesterday, but the clouds rolled in), doesn't even really have any lighting equipment. Almost all of the footage we shot in his apartment was by sunlight coming in the windows, which looked really cool. But it depends on what film stock you use. If you shoot 400 ASA stock, then you'd need less light; and if you shoot 100 ASA you'll need more. But if you had a single quartz kit, which is four lights (600-1000 Watts each), you'd probably be fine.

Josh

Name: Irina
E-mail: skachevka@yahoo.com

Hey!:) About the picture with a garbage dumpster-I'm sure it's not Bulgarian, it's definetly Russian, as there's an inscription "Clearness"(it's Russian word there)!
With love, your Russian fan!:)

Dear Irina:

So "Yuctota" means "Clearness"? Maybe it means "Cleaness" in Bulgarian.

Josh

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

Josh,

I know you've been a fan of U2 in the past, but have been underwhelmed by their latest stuff.

Let me tell you, I saw them in concert Saturday night and was absolutely blown away by their performance. They have only grown as a live band since I saw them in 92'. It was the best concert I've been to in my 30+ years. Practically bordered on a religious experience for some...

Wow...just wow.

Richard

Dear Richard:

U2 is a good band, and it's nice to hear they performed well. Their last album was no great shakes, but the one before it, "All That You Can't Leave Behind," was a very solid record.

Josh

Name: Diana Hawkes
E-mail: upon request

Dear Josh:

Just a reminder for Jeremy Milks or anyone else thinking of getting the Xena/Herc DVD's -

If you want to see Josh's commentary, you should buy the 1st season of Xena from "Best Buy" stores only.

They are the carriers of the bonus material that other Xena DVD sets sold elsewhere do not contain.

And to boot - be wary of buying the sets from Best Buy Online, as they do not *always* send the true Best Buy Bonus sets that are in their actual stores. (Odd, I know, but I got burned on that. They'll exchange it, no problem, but it's still a hassle.)

Look for the box sets that have a light purple banner printed on the top that reads: "Exclusive Bonus DVD 'What You Didn't Know About Xena' A 60 Minute Featurette From The Directors Of Season One".

(Still wish they'd invited you to do additional seasons. See, you just had to criticize their directing, and we fans miss out on you! Goober.)

Dear Diana:

I didn't mean to, but as I've done any number of times previously, I simply stated what had occurred and the next thing I knew I was in hot water. Oh well. Thanks for the reminder.

Josh

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

Hi Josh,

I know you're sick of people reccomending stuff, but I saw a great documentary called "Spellbound" about the journey of 8 kids to the national spelling bee. It really got me to care about the kids. Also the structure was nice; the first half you spend 5 minutes with each kid at home and learn about their background, and the second half is the competition. What are your thoughts on structure as it applies to documentaries??

Thanks,
Eric

Dear Eric:

I saw it and I liked it. Structure is crucially important in all storytelling, whether it's fiction or fact. Two people can tell the same story, but if one isn't a good storyteller and one is, the same story can be riveting and exciting or as dull as watching paint dry. What story you're telling is most important, but how you tell it, meaning it's structure, comes second. A great story with poor structure is no longer a great story.

Josh

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

Beth wrote, "I was surfing around the internet and found this:

http://s2.phpbbforfree.com/forums/joshbecker.html

I don't know if the person who set it up sent it to you or not, but thought I would send it any how."

Haha, that's mine and yes it is rather new. I'm surprised she found it by surfing around. I tried advertising it on the Deadites.net board, but I believe most people there(not including the few who write here) think you are an asshole and weren't interested.

Anyway, I thought it was a neat idea for people to be able to discuss your work and beliefs in a forum. Which allows for users to interact with each other in a more peronsal way than this Q&A does. Guess no one liked the idea as much as me though. Maybe the link appearing here will cause more people to join.

Dear Trey:

Oh well. It looks good.

Josh

Name: Jeremy Milks
E-mail: admin@homecomingcreations.com

Dear Josh:

Cool, I hopefully will be ordering a copy of "Hammer" soon ... just realized you'll like, have my address and stuff afterwords won't you? Weird, but oh well.

And no, I didn't mean that a sit-com was harder to shoot ... I figure they're one of the easiest things to shoot especially once everybody knows their character and there's not a million and one takes to get things right ... I just meant it's a harder medium to stay in.

What I was trying to get at was, basically, if you can convince one person that your script is good, and they give you enough money to make it, then it's made and if it sucks, that's a shame, but oh well. You've technically ended your plans for that story (unless you planned sequels), so you can call it a success. With a tv show, especially a sit-com, if it takes you a couple of episodes to really get into things, then you're fucked and they cancel you. The story never proceeds into where it was planning to go and you end up with four episodes of a show that you can't really do anything with.

That's what I meant by harder.

Jeremy Milks

Dear Jeremy:

I still don't quite buy what you're saying, but that's okay. Your description of how a movie gets made, "if you can convince one person that your script is good, and they give you enough money to make it, then it's made," is so not the way movies get made that I guess this must be at the center of your thinking a sit-com is "harder" in any way, shape or form. When you go make a movie you've got exactly the same problems as when you go shoot the first episodes of a TV show -- Who are these people? Does this make any sense? Have we cast the right actors in the parts, etc. But with a movie you've only got the one crack at getting it right. On a TV show, like say "Star Trek," for instance, you can recast the lead role AFTER you shoot the pilot. Therefore, TV as a medium is more forgiving. Or like on "Xena" where they spent half of the first season trying to figure out what the show was about.

Josh

Name: Jeff
E-mail:

Josh,

I just read a story about how they are re-releasing "The Passenger" starring Jack Nicholson by Michelangelo Antonioni. Nicholson owns the rights to it and has kept it out of circulation for a long time but is now going to release it again. Have you seen it? Is it worth heading to the theater to check it out? It came out right in the high water mark of Nicholson's career so it seems promising.

Thanks!
jeff

Dear Jeff:

I've seen a few times at the theater, including on it's original release, and I even saw Maria Schneider at the theater. It's my favorite Antonioni movie, although I seriously dislike most of his films. I must admit that I also have a fondness for "Blow-up." But "The Passenger" is a weirdly compelling movie, and Nicholson is at the height of his power, even though the part and the director aren't calling for all that much from him. It also has one of the great last shots of any movie ever. But it's still Michelangelo Antonioni, so it's still oblique and slow, and well-shot.

Josh

Name: joe
E-mail: N/A

Hey Josh,

WHat do you think of the Peter Jacksons King Kong remake. I know how you feel about remakes and Im in the same boat, but this trailer looks breathtaking.

And unlike something like assault on precinct 13 or remaking TV shows like the honeymooners or dukes of hazzard which are always, always horrible ideas and cheap tries at cashing in on the first weekend, one could make a good argument for remaking Kong.

Obviously CGI being the first point. Kong will be brought to the screen in the most realistic way ever. Second it has been a long time for this film, not like the aforementioned remakes. So is there a kind of cut off point where its acceptable to remake a film?

I dont think anyone, even you, would down Stone/Pacinos Scarface because it was a remake, since the original was what from the 30s or something.

Anway Kong will be a massive hit. It just looks too much fun to miss. And this will catapult Peter Jackson to the very top of the list, past Speilberg, as the biggest director in Hollywood. And he is good.

Dear joe:

Hope springs eternal. From my skewed POV there's absolutely no reason to believe that Peter Jackson's "King Kong" will be any good. A. I don't feel that Peter Jackson has yet made a legitimately good movie, B. Remakes are almost always a bad idea, C. "King Kong" was already remade once, if you'll recall, and it was a disaster, D. A BIG part of what makes the first version so good is the brilliant animation work of Willis O'Brien, and that will not be improved with CGI, E. It's a clunky idea that functions better in 1933, than in any other time period, F. I saw the trailer, too, and wasn't impressed, and finally, G. Jack Black seems like lame casting. But I could be wrong.

Josh

Name:
E-mail:

Hey Josh,

I was surfing around the internet and found this:

http://s2.phpbbforfree.com/forums/joshbecker.html

I don't know if the person who set it up sent it to you or not, but thought I would send it any how.

Cheers,
Beth

Dear Beth:

I've never seen it or heard of it, and since there's nearly no posts, it's either new or unpopular. But it looks good.

Josh

Name: Beth
E-mail: oddlief@gmail.com

Dear Josh,

I read your stories, "Alaska Journal" and "Fear and Loathing on I-10", and was wondering, to what degree are they true stories? When you write how often do you place yourself in the story? whether it is in part or completely.

Thanks,
Beth

Dear Beth:

Both of those are essays, and they're both 100% true. But when I'm writing fiction there's generally going to be part of me in every character. Writing is all about finding motivations for the character's actions, so no matter who the character is, I can still only use myself as the guide as to what someone would do next, and why? Some characters, like Aaron in "The Biological Clock," is specifically based on me, but even when writing historical figures, like Teddy Roosevelt or Lee Harvey Oswald, I still have to use myself as a gauge.

Josh

Name: Jeremy Milks
E-mail: admin@homecomingcreations.com

Dear Josh:

Yeah, the canned laughter kinda bothers me too. Ironically, "Friends" is my favorite sit-com though. My favorites as of late are the kind without laugh tracks. "Scrubs" and "Arrested Development" are really cool little shows that don't have laugh tracks.

I respect tv shows though because they're harder to do. I mean, if you make a movie and it's a flop, then oh well, the movie's made at least. If a show doesn't do well in it's first 2 episodes anymore, it's liable to be canceled. I was actually gonna do a sit-com pilot a while back (still gonna here this summer maybe).

Do you have just the seasons you've worked on of Herc and Xena or do you have the entire run of both shows? I personally don't have either yet, but I'm probably gonna start getting them here soon.

Hey, how much does a copy of "Hammer" cost? I've been thinking of ordering one.

Dear Jeremy:

$19.95, plus shipping. Very few left. I have every season of Xena because I worked on all six seasons. I only have season one of Hercules, though, because I only worked on the first season. What on earth do you mean, TV shows are harder to do? Nonsense. Since the standards are so low on sit-coms, and they all mainly take place on one or two sets, they're MUCH easier to make than an hour-long TV show or a movie. A 30-minute sit-com, which is really only 22-minutes, takes two hours to shoot. A one-hour episode of a TV show takes 12 hours a day for 6-8 days. A movie takes 12 hours a day for anywhere between 12-100 days. Sit-coms are the easiest thing to shoot.

Josh

Name: Frank Dell
E-mail: popeyerose@hotmail.com

Josh, you wrote:

"I worked with cops for a while on 'Real Stories of the Highway Patrol,' and they were, for the most part, nice guys, but you could just tell with all of them that they have a very low bullshit threshold. The second they think they're being dissed I think the world turns red for most of them, and when the cloud dissipates, whoever was giving them shit will now be a bloody mess."

To be fair now, this sounds exactly like your "Ask the Director" persona! Not meant as an insult, just an observation... Cheers.

Dear Frank:

People diss me all the time and I don't physically beat up anybody. I haven't been in a fist fight in 30 years. But yes, I too have a pretty low threshold for bullshit. If I weren't such a pot-head, maybe I'd have made a good cop.

Josh

Name: Chris
E-mail: shenaniganz@hotmail.com

Dear Josh:

I finally saw AA, Lunatics and MWTSB. What great great movies! Nice audio commentary for AA (loved how you and bruce each did a voice for a bulgarian). Dam lunatics was cool (it really really needs a dvd release!). Bruce was pretty cool in that one too.

Anyway, What are your thoughts on going to a film school? I'm pretty sure that you or sam or scott didn't go to one (or did they/you?). So many directors say it's a great way to make mistakes and to learn how to do things properly and I agree with that but like Ted Raimi says on the cover of your new book "...forget film school.....grab a camera and just make a movie" or something similar. If I never went to a film school I guess I would just go and get lots of set experience.

Dear Chris:

If you can afford to go to film school, why not? You get a chance to work on some movies and meet others who are into the same thing. But unlike law or medicine or accounting, once you've got your degree in film you're really no further than when you started because it won't get you a job. It certainly won't hurt you, and any knowledge you pick up is good, but working in the film industry is whole other can of worms. And if you want to direct or write, the attrition rate is about 99%. So, good luck to you, and I'm glad you liked the films.

Josh

Name: D. Huffman
E-mail: l5g@excite.com

Dear Josh:

I've been watching the Hitchcock marathon on TCM these last couple of days and was wondering what you thought about his propaganda pictures like Adventure Malagache and Bon Voyage, I've yet to watch those, I have them saved on my Tivo. I also wanted to know your opinion on the police procedures of today compared to twenty to thirty years ago. I told a police officer to "fuck off" when he said I needed to leave the premises of a local bar. Instead of being escorted away I got thrown around, hand cuffed and arrested but I never got the mini-miranda. So will I be up shit's creek when my court date comes around or will I get off scott free? I was even quoted wrong on the paper work as saying "go fuck yourself" and he was, according to the report, "working in a extra duty capacity." This guy was also several inches shorter than I was, so I think he may have had a Napolean complex. Is this all part of G. Dub's bullshit Patriot act that they could get away with out something as basic as the mini-miranda. It would be awesome to sue for any reason I could think of being that I would use that money to pursue much more worth while persuits like funding a few short films and working on my narrative. I do have a scratched up nose to show for it. :-( BTW, I enjoyed AA, just wish the dubbing wouldn't have happened, though it would have been a strech to have that accent coming from Oregon.

Dear D.:

I haven't seen those Hitchcock shorts. Meanwhile, I don't think there's much difference in cops between 20-30 years ago and now. They're power-hungry people, generally with low self-esteem, who get off on bossing people around. That's why you don't fuck with them; you call them Sir and kiss their asses, because that's what they want and need. I worked with cops for a while on "Real Stories of the Highway Patrol," and they were, for the most part, nice guys, but you could just tell with all of them that they have a very low bullshit threshold. The second they think they're being dissed I think the world turns red for most of them, and when the cloud dissipates, whoever was giving them shit will now be a bloody mess. As Pretam Bobo, the founder of the Hell's Angels, and a man with no police record, once said, "Is it so hard to say 'sir' to a cop?" I go along with Charles Bukowski, whose character is asked in "Barfly," "You don't like cops, do you?" He replies, "It's not that I don't like them, I'm just happier when they're not around." Good luck.

Josh

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

Hello!

I'll be brief. I'm on a Jack Nicholson stint(watching his movies and finally picking up his biography "Jack's Life" again as I now have time to finish it) and I was wondering what are your favorite Jack roles?

Dear Trey:

Let's see . . . "Easy Rider," "Five Easy Pieces," "Carnal Knowledge," "Drive, He Said" (which he wrote, produced and directed, but isn't in), "The Last Detail," "Chinatown," "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest," "The Shining," "Terms of Endearment," "A Few Good Men."

Josh

Name: Question
E-mail: ernstyanning@hotmail.com

Dear Josh:

Jeremy Milks once stated that he'd rather watch TRUMAN as a movie than read the book... ironic because they did film the book with Gary Sinise for tv in 1995. What did you think of the film?

Dear Q:

Not bad for condensing a 1,000-page book into a 2-hour movie, but shallow and ultimately insignificant. Gary Sinise was an interesting choice, and he's a fine actor, but I never really bought him as Truman. The book is WAY better than the movie. I'm reading David McCullough's newest book, "1776," right now, and it's pretty good.

Josh

Name: Question
E-mail: ernstyanning@hotmail.com

Dear Josh,

Do you think Harry Truman could been polymorphically perverse and supressed it because of his upbringing? It says he was so faithful to his wife that he had a phobia to be in the room with other women alone (outside the family). However, why should he be afraid if he didn't have the psychological urge to bang them?

Dear Q:

"Polymorphically perverse"? You've been watching too many Woody Allen movies, that's a concept that he made up for "Annie Hall." Harry Truman came from a different day and age. He was born in 1884 in the wilds of Missouri, which was still the tail-end of the Victorian era. I know it's probably difficult to understand now, but Truman was just a good man, and a pretty good president, too.

Josh

Name: Sylvia Colburn
E-mail: KayRed17@aol.com

Dear Josh:

Where did you find the cleaner called Awesome, and how much did you say you paid? I have looked everywhere and can't find this all purpose cleaner anywhere. Please e-mail me the place and name of the store where I can shop or have it sent to me. Thanks KayRed17@aol.com

Dear Sylvia:

I got it at the 99-cent store, that's what the essay was all about.

Josh

Name: Jeremy Milks
E-mail: admin@homecomingcreations.com

Dear Josh:

Is there any particular reason you don't watch sit-coms? I don't watch near as many as I used to, and I basically wait for the DVD releases of 'em now.

Do you collect any shows on DVD? Lately I've been going through a MacGyver phase and buying/watching all the seasons that come out.

Jeremy Milks

Dear Jeremy:

I don't watch sit-coms because I don't think they're funny, nor do I enjoy the format, with all that phony laughing and canned punchlines. I stopped watching most TV shows 20 years ago. I still watch shows like "Frontline," "Nova," "American Masters, "The American Experience," but otherwise I'm not interested. There are still more than enough movies out there that I haven't seen to fill that slot. The only TV shows I have on DVD are "Hercules" and "Xena," because I worked on them, and the first season of "Star Trek," of which I finally watched one, "The Man Trap," which was okay, but the planet set was so cheap it was shocking -- the boulders were cardboard boxes that jiggled if you touched them.

Josh

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

Dear Josh.

Nice cats Josh,i like cats when i was 9 years, in Grecce i have one ,and idon´t have go sleep if my father not lat her with me in my rom i call her Bouboulina,the name i have from one hero women,when se die on fight agaist Turkie,on the revolution in 1821 against the osman imperium ,se was very smart.I don`t write last time,because i don`t was near to the places where iknow there is internet coofe,on countries like (BG)and (RO) you finde on evry corner one.friedly George

Dear George:

Thanks for checking in, it's always a pleasure.

Josh

[Dear George: Thank you for the nice postcard. -webmaster Shirley]


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