Q & A    Archive
Page 145

Name:              Karen
E-mail:             ndegwakw@yahoo.com

Hi Josh,

I just stumbled on your article about 99 cent stores. I found it both funny and true in many respects. i own a dollar store and while I admit I use some of the products we sell, some are complete junk and i always tell my customers if it does not work bring it back and exchange it for anything else in the store. In the two months that i have been open only one customer returned a cell phone charger. As long as people are willing to buy items for a dollar, i guess i will remain in business.
Thank you for your comments. I am glad i'm able to see the light side of life and appreciate honest comments like yours.
Sincerely,
Karen N.

Dear Karen:

I'm glad you enjoyed it.  As a post script to that story, I purchased a broom (made in China) at the 99-cent store possibly ten years ago and it's still perfectly servicable and I use it regularly.  That one broom made up for all of the other products that weren't so hot.

Josh

Name:             
E-mail:         

Dear Josh:         

ha-ha. josh likes american idol.

Dear        :

I only watched the 2nd season of "American Idol," but I enjoyed it. 

Josh

Name:              Screenplay Man
E-mail:             Screenplay Man

Josh, I gotta tell ya, I'm frusterated by a lack of unity when it comes to defining the terms "continuous" and "moments later" in screenwriting. Some people use them interchangeably, some only use one or the other, some define continuous as an unbroken shot, some say it's appropriate to use when one scene parallels another but they're happening at the same time, some say "moments later" can mean seconds later, some say it can mean thirty minutes later, I'm confused, can you tell me what these mean and when they can be used and for what?!?!?!?!

P.S. I saw an amazing old print of this movie called Four Flies on Grey Velvet the other day. Ever see it? The last shot uses a German Pentazet camera that captures 30,000 frames/second! Can you think of any movies off the top of your head where such ultra-slow motion was applied? Thanks!

Dear SM:

The shot at the end of "The Omen" when they shoot Gregory Peck was shot with a super-high-speed scientific camera so you can see the bullet slowly leaving the gun's barrel and floating out of frame.  Meanwhile, I don't use "Continuous shot" or "Moments later," both seem entirely unnecessary.  Until you begin a new slug-line, it's continuous.  When you do start a new slug-line, it's at some point later.  If time has gone by and I want to indicate it, I will occasionally put a capitalized "DISSOLVE:" between the scenes.

Josh

Name:              Mo
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

A series of questions for you.

First question, how much money did you make for Alien Apocalypse?
Second question, do you watch Sam Raimi movies and Rob Tapert movies and Bruce Campbell movies because they've worked on them even if you know you won't like the movie?
Third, have you ever tried to make a romantic comedy, that was quirky like Lunatics?
Fourth, why do you think so many people are unwilling to invest in your films when you have such connections to the film business?
Lastly, how do you get a film SAG approved? And why wasn't Hammer approved?

Mo Mo Ma-Mo

Dear Mo:

You misunderstand the SAG issue.  If I had decided to use SAG actors it would have been a SAG film, it has nothing to do with their approval.  I decided on "Hammer" to go non-SAG because then I could pay whatever I want, plus I was then not bound by their rules.  But since many of the actors I hired on that film were really musicians, most of them weren't SAG members. Well, one of SAG's rules is that if it's a SAG film, you can't hire very many non-SAG actors or you'll get fined, and I needed musicians who could act.  Regarding question number one, I don't think it's appropriate to discuss my fees.  Let's just say I could have bought an expensive car with the fee (which I didn't), but I certainly didn't get rich.  Yes, I watch Sam, Bruce and Rob's movies.  Third, I made "Lunatics," why would I make a movie like it?  Fourth, I'm either unlucky or untalented, I'm not sure which.

Josh

Name:              Dave
E-mail:             derothstein@hotmail.com

Josh -

In your opinion, who is the best indie filmmaker? And what makes them so good?
-Dave

Dear Dave:

I'm not impressed with anyone.  I was impressed by Zhang Yimou in the '90s, but he bailed into chop-socky films.  And who's independent anymore?

Josh

Name:              joe
E-mail:

"Bullshit.  Even people I know who liked the comic didn't like the movie."

Mm. Well a 230 page comic cannot be turned into a 90 minute film without sacrificing material. Things need to be cut, characters re-imagined, plot arcs streamlined. So if your friends cried that it wasnt true to the comic that answer doesnt play too well.

The point is the essence of the story remained. How far will a young girl accepting her life in a fascist government go to change what she comes to see as wrong? Certainly a worthy theme for a film

Dear joe:

Hey, maybe the film's great, but I really, really doubt it.  I don't believe that a good movie can be made from a comic book, I don't care how long it is.  Meanwhile, that's really the plot, not the theme.  A theme is a concept, like trust or success or duty.

Josh

Name:              Irma McHugh
E-mail:             irmamch@hotmail.com

Dear Josh,

Thank you for your thoughts and views on that scene in Irreversible. If you ever do see it, you might have a better idea of what it was like but you may not need to. Gaspar Noe may be a pervert like you describe, but in interviews he's said that anything that can happen in real life can happen on screen, and that was the approach he took. He says he doesn't believe in pornography. Monica Belucci, I agree with you about her, that poor girl that scene must have been very hard. She even thought Gaspar was crazy in some way and said she wasn't a porno actress. Here is a link to an interview with them if you have the time:
http://www.cinemaspeak.com/Interviews/tde.html

I feel sorry for Monica too. I've heard sometimes scenes like that can have a psychological effect on actresses. The thing about the scene was that not a lot of skin was shown so I don't think the director was really trying to eroticize it as much. She is a pretty girl and tall, some of her sizes remind me of another actress.

Thank you for comforting me. As a woman I especially find that scene bothersome, even excrutiating.

I've looked through some questions for you, and interesting views on God. But, if I can ask according to your beliefs about Him, what do you think He would think about religions? Especially those that talk about Him.

Also if you have the time to glance at the interview please let me know what you think about it.

Irma

Dear Irma:

There is no Him.  God is the animating force within everything living, and it doesn't think anything about anything.  Humans feel the need to apply human attributes to anything they don't understand.  And of course anything that happens in life could happen in a movie, but does it need to?  The biggest decision a filmmaker makes is what story they decide to tell.  If you make a film that's full of ugly awful things, that's certainly an expression of who you are.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

I just finished watching "Mosquito". Which I actually found to be highly entertaining at times. Your cameo was very humorous. How did it feel being on the other side of the camera even for a few minutes of screen time? I'm glad that Gary Jones has been doing his own directing. Did Gary get the directing gig for Raptor Island 2 when you guys were shooting Alien Apocolypse?

Your fan,
Jonathan

Dear Jonathan:

Not until afterward.  Gary also directed another film for that producer called "Xenophobia" with Steven Bauer and Ted Raimi.  How did I like being on the other side of the camera?  I didn't.  First of all, my vision isn't all that good and I couldn't hit my marks; second, it's really hard to give a good performance and I have no training, so I felt like I'd been thrown into the deep end without knowing how to swim.  Meanwhile, about half of my scenes were edited out -- on the TV version, most of my stuff -- so I actually did twice as much work on the film as you think I did.  I'm 100% more comfortable behind the camera.

Josh

Name:              Rennie75
E-mail:             hexator@luukku.com

Dear Josh:         

I just watched Cleveland Smith Bounty Hunter short movie. It was awesome.What year you guy´s made it? Before Indiana flick? Because of poor quality of picture i couldn´t see who else where making it.Bruce Campbell,Ted & Sam Raimi,Robert Tapper,Scott Spiegel,and you.

Dear Rennie:

That's who made it.  I directed it, Scott produced it, Scott and I wrote it, and Bruce and Sam starred in it.  We made the film in 1982.

Josh

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

Good Morning Josh.

This film "Irreversible" that another reader had brought up definitely does have that super bad Paris rape scene.

I will say this though in case you decide you might check it out anyway is that the montage is pretty hot in it and also that it attempts to do what Hitchcock and yourself did in "Rope" and "Running Time" and that is to make it look like everything was done in one take.It doesn't quite succeed but it is a very valiant effort. Lots of spins and hidden cuts.Twisty and violent tops my adjectives for this flick.

Finally,and this is just a comment, is that I got a hold of a really nice Arri-S. It might not be an SR but every since I got that TV safe glass installed with the target in the middle I've been feeling a little cocky about myself these days. Now obviously,me feeling a little cocky doesn't mean jack to anybody reading this, but if you have the right equipment to work with it becomes a real pleasure to stand behind that eyepiece all day.You get a rush everytime you push the button down and get on with it.

Have a good one Josh!

Tim

Dear Tim:

The Arri-S is a cool little camera, although it's a tad difficult to get it to run at exactly 24 fps.  It's also the only camera that I know of that will run backward.  Have fun.

Josh

Name:              John Skilling
E-mail:             skillis@functionnet.co.uk

Josh,

No that's not what I mean. In fact, I mean no disrespect. I've been called an asshole a number of times in my life because I stick to my opinions. I was just curious!

Best,
John.

Dear John:

Yes, I've been called an asshole a few times in my life.  I've been called an asshole a number of times on this Q&A.  The one I've been hearing for the past few years, which I think is synonymous with "asshole," is that I'm like Simon Cowell.  But you know what?  I'd rather be Simon Cowell than Randy Jackson or Paula Abdul, who do nothing but blow smoke up people's asses.  I think most people realize, and enjoy the fact, that Simon tells the truth since they all know that somebody ought to.

Josh

Name:              Irma McHugh
E-mail:             irmamch@hotmail.com

Dear Josh,

Thank you for your views and recommending the French film Forbidden Games to me. I must see that. I do speak some French myself, but I don't understand everything. I agree Gerard Depardieu is a fine and great actor and I thought he was just terrific as Cyrano.

My question for you, if have seen the French film "Irreversible" from 2002, is about a controversial and famous scene in it. It was also reviewed at Hot Button (or Ticket). Italian actress Monica Belucci, who is actually very tall, is anally raped in a very long, I think almost a ten minute scene, in a subway underpass in Paris. What came next was worst, but as a woman I found this scene terrible. It looked very real too and I heard how difficult it was for her to film it. I can't imagine what the director, Gaspar Noe, was thinking, but maybe he wanted to make a point about society and crime.

Its supposed to be the most intense rape sequence ever portrayed on film. I think it if was trying to be eroticized it would have been done differently. I don't know. It's horrible especially afterwards. As a woman especially I was offended and worried by this.

Please let me know what you think. I also find it hard to imagine an actress could film such a scene.

Irma

Dear Irma:

I haven't seen it, but it sounds awful.  Showing a long rape scene is like showing someone getting eviscerated -- it's unnecessary.  As far as I'm concerned the reason it's in that film is that the director is a creepy pervert.  I'm sorry a pretty actress like Monica Belucci, or anyone else for that matter, would put themselves through such a thing.

Josh

Name:              John Skilling
E-mail:             skillis@functionnet.co.uk

Josh,

In your life how many people have called you an asshole?

Best,
John

Dear John:

Is that a cute way of calling me one?

Josh

Name:              Scott Hite
E-mail:             srhite@chartermi.net

Dear Josh:         

Several times, I've read your writing on three act structure, themes, plots, etc.  I'm not a writer by training.  I had a story that I thought would make a nice film and a friend named, Jim Glennon.  Well Jim said, write it, copyright it and send it to me.  I bet you know what comes next!  He liked it, but said that the three act structure isn't there.  Funny thing is, I tried to get three acts at just the right spots.  Anyways, the stuff you write really helps someone like me.

Dear Scott:

I'm glad.  Is Jim Glennon a cinematographer?  And, is he related to the great old DP, Bert Glennon, who shot several of Joseph Von Sternberg's best films ("Blonde Venus," "The Scarlett Empress"), as well as having shot about half dozen of John Ford's films?

Josh

Name:              David R.
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

Thought this was an interesting list:
http://www.empireonline.com/features/50greatestindependent/50-41.asp

I'm sure you'll disagree with several films on there, but there are many very good films as well. Among them: "Mad Max", "Shadows", "Drugstore Cowboy", "Stranger Than Paradise", "Mean Streets", "Texas Chainsaw Massace", "Being John Malkovich", etc. Any besides those stand out to you as great independent films? (on, or off, the list at the link above)

Dear David:

There's a truly useless list.

Josh

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

Josh,

I once missed a KU basketball game because I was fliiping through channels just before the game started and "Cyrano" with Jose Ferrer was on.  I decided the movie was just more engrossing.  Ferrer had a wonderful career and did a better job than many at poking fun of his own image later in his career.  I wonder if his "Fifth Musketeer" was any good.  It certainly had an interesting cast, but most Musketeer movies fail, I think.  Have you seen it?

John

Dear John:

No, I haven't seen it, but it's just one more remake of "The Man in the Iron Mak."  After the first three "Three Musketeer" movies by Richard Lester, I'd had enough.  I went through a thing as a kid and watched every version of "The Three Musketeers," and quite frankly I don't like any of them (including the 1921 Douglas Fairbanks version, the 1935 Walter Abel version, and the 1939 Ritz Brothers version).  I'll take the 1948 Gene Kelly, Lana Turner version if I have to, but ultimately it just isn't a great story. And why on earth are "musketeers" always fighting with swords instead of muskets?  And why are there four of them if it's called "The Three Musketeers"?

Josh

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

Dear Josh:         

As you already don't believe in God, this first part is more for other people who visit your Q and A, as I believe some will find it interesting:

http://www.godlessgeeks.com/WhyAtheism.htm

Here are a couple of highlights:

"Another problem comes from the typical definition of God as a perfect and unchanging being.  If these qualities were true, then why would God need a universe and how could God change from not needing a universe to needing one?"

and

"Either God wants to abolish evil, and cannot; or he can and does not want to. If he wants to, but cannot, he is impotent. If he can, but does not want to, he is wicked. If, as they say, God can abolish evil, and God really wants to do it, why is there evil in the world?"

Anyway, now to the question that I originally intended to ask: What was it that lead you stop believing in God(I say this with the assumption that you once did)? Did a single event trigger your disbelief? Or did it happen over a period of time?

Hope everything is well.

Dear Trey:

I never said I don't believe in god, that's your incorrect interpretation. I've only said that I don't believe in any simpleminded human view of god, which includes all religions.  I think the concept of god is far bigger than we tiny little humans can grasp.  I think god is in everything that's alive, from a blade of grass to a human being.  God is consciousness. God has nothing to do with religion, which I think is the exact same thing as monkeys shrieking at the moon.  I won't for one single second accept that ancient humans from five thousand years ago, or two thousand years ago, were any more in touch with "divinity" than is modern man, and that's almost not at all.

Josh

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

Dear Josh,

Ever see Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid? What do you think of Carl Reiner in general? And, on a slightly different note, what do you think of Mel Brookes?

One more thing. I just started watching Sparticus. Do you know exactly when Kubrick took over, or is it somewhere around the end of the slavery scenes?

Dear Rob:

You're starting to get me down, which is why I don't answer all of your redundant questions.  You've gotten to the place where you're asking anything just for the sake of it.  I already answered that "Spartacus" question.  Seriously, who cares what I think about all these various directors and films?  The point here, as I see it, is not to constantly ask me what I think of various movies, directors, or actors, but to either ask questions about filmmaking, or state an opinion that I'll either agree or disagree with.  As for "Dead Men," it sucked.

Josh

Name:              Dave
E-mail:             derothstein@hotmail.com

Hi -

I understand you answer questions about moviemaking/directing, etc. Please answer me this: How do you get your best ideas? I want to know what gives you inspiration and light - I make movies with friends, and I was curious.

Thanks,
-Dave

Dear Dave:

I'd say I've gotten most of my ideas from reading books, as well as from other movies.  But the key, in my opinion, is to be inspired by whatever you're reading or watching, then come up with your own idea, but try not to become a thief.  Lately, though, I've been writing purely from personal experience.

Josh

Name:              C.R. MacNamara
E-mail:             ernstyanning@hotmail.com

Dear Josh:         

believe its called or: HOW I LEARNED TO STOP WORRYING AND LOVE THE BOMB because at the end of the film Dr Strangelove points out that to rebuild  humanity, a select few (including the ones in the War Room) would have to go underground and fuck nine different extremely sexy women over and over. Marriage would have to be abolished for the sake of the human race. Which reminds me: There's a line I really like in THE GETAWAY spoken by Slim Pickens "Are you two married? Thank God! All young people these days think if you're living together, you're not living!"

I'm thinking of this film SEVEN DAYS IN MAY where Burt Lancaster tries to overthrow the government. If all the illegal immigrants organized and went to Washington... Hey anybody up for civil war? If that happened, do you think the government would drop the bomb? Do you think the rich would go that far to protect their status in life? Is this post just retarded? I hear these kids went into a local supermarket, yelled Immigration and almost the whole store scattered like flys.

Dear C.R.:

I didn't detect a question there.  I like "Seven Days in May."  John Frankenheimer was in top form back then.  Here, I'll tell an immigration story.  In my apartment in Santa Monica, CA, my bedroom window faced the alley.  Directly across the alley was a tiny bungalow with a family of about ten Mexicans living there.  The father got up at dawn everyday ro collect bottles and cans, then would throw them into garbage cans full of bottles and cans, then pour entire garbage cans full of bottles and cans into the back of his pickup truck.  Needless to say, this was incredibly noisy and impossible to sleep through.  So, everyday I'd open my window and ask the guy to knock it off, and everyday he wave me off like I wasn't there. Possibly the 300th time this occurred, I put on my pants, went outside and confronted the man.  I said, "I have no doubt that you and your whole family are illegal aliens, which means nothing to me.  But if you are in fact illegal aliens, you might try blending in a little bit better.  Right now you're sticking out like a sore thumb and annoying the entire neighborhood, particularly me.  So, if you wake me up again, I'm not coming out to talk to you again, I'm calling the INS and you'd better have your green cards available."  The next day that house was empty.  Now, I'm not proud of myself for making a whole family move, nor was that my intention, but if you're an illegal immigrant the least you can do is a keep a somewhat low profile and not be the noisy, obnoxious asshole of the whole neighborhood.

Josh

Name:              joe capanear
E-mail:

Hey Josh,

I know you don't much like comic book movies. But I'd Just like drop my two cents: saw "V for Vendetta", and if anyone is making better, more emotionally sophisticated visually storytelling in the genre of action/sci-fi than the Wachowski brothers, I don't know who it is.

The scene where V confronts a gang of fascists in the London underground is a clinic in scene writing which most hollywood writers should study. It's unpredictable, has goal, conflict and resolution; it's brilliantly directed -- and when the villian asks V why he won't die, and V utters he represents ideas and that ideas are bulletproof, I got chills.

These guys truly do not get the respect and adulation they deserve. In due time they will be film legends -- yeah, they're that good.

Jc

Dear joe:

Bullshit.  Even people I know who liked the comic didn't like the movie. Shit, the writer took his name off of it.  I have no doubt I'll hate it as much as those crappy "Matrix" movies.

Josh

Name:              Irma McHugh
E-mail:             irmamch@hotmail.com

Dear Josh,

Thanks for telling me about that French actress in The Swimming Pool, I forget her name, she was a really naughty girl in it. I encourage you to see the film. But have you seen Cyrano de Bergerac, about a French hero, starring Gerard Depardieu. He has a long nose and a crowd teases him in the beginning but he shows he's a brave master swordsman. Gerard Depardieu is not really too tall either about average I think.

Let me know what you think, and if there are any French films you would recommend. I have another I'm thinking of too, and there is a controversial scene in it I was going to ask you about.

Irma

Dear Irma:

Even though Gerard Depardieu actually has quite a big nose, and is a fine actor, I'll take Jose Ferrer in the 1950 American version because it's in English and I don't speak French.  Ferrer won an Oscar for it, too.  Yes, I can recommend a French film, "Forbidden Games" (1951), directed by Rene Clement, which is a very, very interesting, well-made film, that also won an Oscar for Best Foreign Film.

Josh

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

Hey, I just read that Jack of All Trades The Complete Series was going to be released this summer on DVD. I was just wondering if you'd been contacted about it or asked to contribute anything to the DVD?

Jeremy Milks

Dear Jeremy:

No, I haven't heard a thing about it, until now.  Since I only have a copy of one of the two episodes I directed, it'll be nice to get a copy of the other one.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

I'd be interested in hearing if you had given a chance at seeing "The Squid and The Whale". I thought it was an excellent movie with very deep and interesting characters and a different side than what Hollywood would have shelled out. The fact that Noah Baumbach co-wrote "The Life Aquatic" kind of almost turned me off from it considering I think Wes Anderson is a pretentious pompous ass and I thought this movie might be a bit like that. Thank God its not. What Wes lacks in humor and characterizations Noah makes up for it. I'm excited to see anything else Noah does and The Life Aquatic was the end all of watching anything Anderson does. If you haven't seen The Squid and the Whale I'd highly recommend it.

Your fan,
Jonathan

Dear Jonathan:

I'll see it eventually.  I was told about the scene where the kid claims to have written "Hey You" or "Comfortably Numb" (I forget) and absolutely nobody in the audience recognizes it, which isn't humanly possible in America today.  But aside from that, maybe it's good.

Josh

Name:              mwango lesa
E-mail:             mwango lesa@yahoo.co.uk

dear sir,
is it possible for you to send me the all Gospel?i would realy apreciate.
       Realy look forward to hear from you.

Mwango

Dear Mwango:

"The all Gospel"?  I'm afraid I don't know what you're talking about.  As far as my story, "The Gospel According to Judas," goes, it's all there.

Josh

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

Dear Josh,

Okay, another question about Strangelove. This one is due to my lack of comprehension. Interestingly I thought I was alone on this until I asked a bunch of people the same question and got a million different answers.

Anyway, my question is about the ending.

First off, Strangelove. Is he a villian? Why? What did I miss? Was his "I can walk!" comment some kind of giveaway that I missed?

Also, why is the film called Dr. Strangelove if the character has some of the least lines and screen time in the entire film among the speaking roles?

And lastly, when "We'll Meet Again" comes on, is that showing that they're too late and the bombs are instantly going off as they speak, or is it showing the inevitable which could be happening some time later?

Thanks. I don't know why, but I feel like some of these questions deserve "Duh!" answers. Anyway, thanks again.

-Rob

Dear Rob:

All of these questions deserve a "Duh!" response.  Apparently, you missed the whole thing.  Is Strangelove a villian?  To whom?  He's the nuclear bomb expert who seems to have previously worked for the Nazis.  We see the Russian ambassador, Peter Bull, sneak off and push the button, immediately followed by nuclear bombs blowing up and Vera Lynne singing "We'll Meet Again," why would that not be happening?  Why is the film called "Dr. Strangelove, Or How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love the Bomb"?  How about, because it's funny.  What's so incredible about that film is that Stanley Kubrick took the most serious issue of the day, and made a zany comedy about it.  The way people really felt about the bomb going off was portrayed seriously in "Fail Safe" that same year.  This wasn't some vague concept; everybody thought the bomb was going to go off any minute.  In school we all had to "duck and cover," like being under your desk would save you from radiation poisoning.  Everyone decided that being under your desk was strictly a way to identify your body.  Anyway, it sounds like you need some perspective.  These are kind of dumb questions.

Josh

Name:              Jonathan
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

Good luck with "666 N. Van Ness," I'll be first in line for a copy when (if) it's published. I'm crossing my fingers for you.

Shame on sci-fi, which has been airing nothing by crap lately. And very good luck with you comedies; your scripts all have some terrific wit to them, so I'm sure going all out on a comedy is a gratifying venture.

Take care.

Dear Jonathan:

Thanks for wishing me luck.  Here's the most overused expression in the film business -- "We'll see."

Josh

Name:              ringo starr
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

I was just watching the movie CAVEMAN the other day and I came to realize that this must be one of your very favorite films. You certainly pay homage to it often enough, in fact, I'd go so far as to say that ALIEN APOCOLYPSE even kind of rips it off. Am I right or am I right?

Dear ringo:

I take it that's supposed to be a cut, but I'm not really sure what you mean.  Regarding a guy starting a new tribe, so to speak, that goes back at least as far as "Robin Hood," but it's also "Spartacus" or "The Outlaw Josey Wales," as well.  I did use the line "Zug-zug" from "Caveman" in the Xena episode "Fins, Femmes & Gems."    So, are you right?  No, I think you're wrong.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:         

Even though it will probably be just as horrible as the rest of his film since "Apocalypse Now", do you...like me, hope Francis Ford Coppala's new film "Youth without Youth" will be a good movie?

Apparently, he posted a diary on the films website discussing why his films after "Apocalypse Now" were so terrible and that for this new film he is approaching it the same way he approached his early films.

I know it being worth anything is probably too much to ask, but I really do hope it is.

Dear Trey:

Hope springs eternal.  I hope it's good, but I don't think it will be. "Apocalypse Now" was 27 years ago.  Francis Coppola is a prime example of a sell-out, with the utter piece garbage, "Godfather III," not to mention shit like "Cotton Club," "Jack," "Dracula," and "John Grisham's The Rainmaker;" I don't think you can ever return from such a place.

Josh

Name:              Jonathan
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

What are some of the writing projects you've been up to lately?

Dear Jonathan:

This week I just completed a novel entitled "666 N. Van Ness," about my first year in Hollywood in 1976.  About two weeks ago I knocked out a treatment for Sci Fi, but they passed, foolishly, in my opinion.  Then I've got the two comedy scripts I wrote over the last year out to a few places right now.  If this novel flies -- it's out to a NY literary agent right now -- I'm beginning to sketch out the next section in my head.

Josh

Name:              Michael San Juan
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

nice guide.  fag

Dear Michael:

You should buy a copy of the book and read it while you're being corn-holed.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

I just netflixed and watched "Hercules in the maze of the Minotaur" and I'd have to say it was really well done. You did an excellent job directing. Tho my question is: Did you come up with some of the lines? Some of the jokes seem very much your style and I was laughing my ass off through alot of it. Alot of good quotable one liners. Just wish you had done some commentary track or something for it. But oh well.

Your fan,
Jonathan

Dear Jonathan:

I conceived and wrote the story, although I didn't get credit, but I didn't write the script.  As usual, though, I threw in lines all over the place. Filmmaking-wise, it was the worst experience of my life.  Were I the producer I'd have started firing that crew on day one, and by the end of the first week I'd have shitcanned the entire camera crew, the boom man, and few others, too.  Because they were such assholes, I never got to work on the Hercules series.  Maybe that's why they didn't ask me to do the commentary.

Josh

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

Josh,

If this doesn't sum up the folks running our government, I don't know what will.

Enjoy.

http://filmstripinternational.com/

Saul

Dear Saul:

If only it was funny, as opposed to tragic.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:         

Hey, that was my opinion of Sam Raimi as well. I'm glad we're on the same page about something again, though as we've much gone over, I do like the Spider-man films.

I just won a free copy of the new King Kong movie here awhile back, and I was just wondering if you've seen it and if you have what you thought of it. I watched it, and while I think the directing was pretty decent, and the acting and special effects were really good, I thought the film was kind of a slow, slightly uninteresting movie. I didn't hate the film, but it was anything spectacular and no way should anybody have ever spent over $200 million on it.

Your thoughts?

Jeremy Milks

Dear Jeremy:

Didn't see it and don't care.  So, $200 million on "King Kong" is too much, but $150 Million on "Spider Man" isn't?

Josh

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

Dear Josh:         

My favorite DR STRANGELOVE bit was at the end when Dr Strangelove gets so excited he stands up: "My God! I CAN WALK!"

Dear Kevin:

Actually, it's "Mein Fuhrer, I can walk!"  Every moment with Dr. Strangelove is great.  Him taking the chart out of his pocket, then his one hand can't get it away from the other one.  All of Sterling Hayden's dialog is wonderful -- "I'll make love to woman, Mandrake, but I deny her my essence."

Josh

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

Josh,

I get what you're saying about the confrence room and the bomb ride and things like that, but I've read stories and articals that tell how kubrick planned out every single shot well in advance and it seemed that some things were just too random (many of the shots from inside the military base)... My favorite shot in the film however was when Strangelove wheels himself out of the shadows about three minutes before "We'll Meet Again."

On another Kubrick note, I just watched Lolita for the first time. I'm young, so I'm seeing it with a very different perspective than he may have intended. It's not weird for a seventeen year old kid to be attracted to barely eighteen year old Sue Lyon, or even the fourteen year old character. I do however have a sneaky feeling that the film gives adults a shamefull pervy feeling... I guess because Humbert is so normal and blank for the first ten minutes; he can BE anyone watching it... then we see the growing relationship... My one doubt of quality would be the fold out bed. I enjoy slapstick, and I laughed a lot, but I wonder if it cheapens the rest of the film. Anyway, I haven't stopped thinking about the film since I watched it. It's haunting.

Did Kubrick ever publish anything? Anything about filmmaking? Maybe a book or an artical? And an additional mention: I was just comparing his moving camera to the moving camera in many of todays "MTV" type movies. When the new ones have the quick zooms, they're always accompanied by sound effects of zooms or swishes. I never noticed before but I'm sure that takes the audience out of the film. It's almost boasting the camera movements. Kubrick is trying to be 100% subconscious I think... and it works. Anyway, he has established himself as my official favorite director. Every Kubrick film I have seen leaves me thinking for weeks after... and I can watch them a million times before I get bored. Soon I'll check out some Wyler (by your recommendation). Though, I don't think they have anything at the local video store. Tomorrow its Full Metal Jacket, Barry Lyndon, and The Killing.

Thanks again for answering... and reading...

-Rob

Dear Rob:

I agree that the scene with the folding bed is ridiculous, but that's when he's supposed to be having sex with her and they certainly couldn't do that 1962.  It was probably too early to make the film in the first place.  I've never been a big fan of the film myself.  Have fun with other Kubrick movies.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:         

Since everybody's talking about selling out, I figured I'd throw in a question. Do you think Sam Raimi has sold out? I'm not asking this to start any fights or anything like that. I'm just curious as to your opinion.

Jeremy Milks

Dear Jeremy:

No.  Sam never wanted anything but to be a successful, big-time, Hollywood director.  Using my definition of selling-out as taking the big paycheck to knowingly make a piece of shit, I absolutely don't believe Sam ever thought of "Spider Man" as a shit.  Sam always loved Spider Man, from the time he was very young.  He's never wanted to do anything but make simple, entertaining movies, and that's what he does.  There's no selling-out involved.  Whereas, if I pursued making "Alien Apocalypse 2," which I'm not, that would be a sell-out.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:         

Is there a possibility that the TSNKE remake will ever happen? As I must admit I've always wanted to see Bruce Campbell as Sgt. Stryker.

Dear Trey:

I don't know what the future holds.  Maybe it will, maybe it won't. Honestly, it doesn't interest me very much.

Josh

Name:              David R.
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

I just purchased "The Godfather" trilogy on dvd. I mostly purchased it for the first two films and the bonus features (interviews with the cast and crew, etc). Now I have the dilemma of watching Part III, or not. I have read such awful things, I may just skip it altogether. What do you think?

Dear David:

"Godfather III" is a complete disaster, and will probably make you think somewhat less of the first two, though not a lot.  The saddest part was watching someone I greatly admired, Francis Coppola, do such a piss-poor job on every front.

Josh

Name:              Jeff
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

Recently say Malle's "Pretty Baby," and it was okay buy I wasn't that impressed. The treatment of the subject matter came off as rather awkward, and I didn't feel like the writer knew her characters very well. It's certainly nowhere near as good as "Atlantic City." What did you think of it?

Dear Jeff:

I agree, it's nowhere near as good as "Atlantic City."  It has nice photography, and Brooke Shields was a cute kid.

Josh

Name:              Evan
E-mail:             ema3924@uncw.edu

Dear Josh,

What is your opinion of Orson Welles' pseudo-documentary F For Fake? I saw it recently, and while I was intrigued with it at first it slowly lost me as it moved along. I did enjoy Welles' discussion of his own career, and I still can't believe how young he was when he started acting and making films. As he said, he "started at the top and worked down from there." After seeing the film, I honestly don't know what was true and what he made up. Was it just the Picasso section that was fabrication? Although it didn't live up to my expecations, I still found it to be an interesting film and was curious what you thought about it. Sorry if you have previously discussed it, but I couldn't find anything about using the site search.
Thanks, Evan

Dear Evan:

It's okay.  I liked the way he used the cutting of film to get in and out of some things, and the "For the next hour everything you'll see is true," then the film runs an hour and a half, but it's really nothing special.

Josh

Name:              Chris Buck
E-mail:             christopher_m_buck@hotmail.com

On The Life-Span of Creativity:

Chin up, old man.  Here's a list of things you shouldn't be worrying about:
http://www.menshealth.com/cda/article.do?site=MensHealth&channel=
guy.wisdom&category=life.lessons&conitem=52a437196292a010VgnVC
M200000cee793cd____&cm_mmc=GuyWisdomNL-_-2006_04_19-_-Guy
-Wisdom-_-Things_That_Just_Dont_Matter

unless worrying about it has produced significant, positive, results, I would stop worrying about your creativity drying up.  I not so humbly suggest your creativity will end when you don't have anything to say. It's unlikely that will end soon.  That being said, I'm sure this note is about five years too late: you're likely out of your self-obsessed funk by now.

unCopyright (uc) 2006 Christopher M. Buck, all rights released.   (lol)

Dear Chris:

That wasn't funny, or even particularly interesting.

Josh

Name:
E-mail:

Hey Josh,

I was watching Dr. Strangelove last night - really watching it closeley. I was looking for interesting shots. Aside from the quick zooms I saw nothing. Obviously its an amazing film, but why? Now that I think about Clockwork Orange also, I'm wondering if there that much special framing or composion in that either. Basically what I'm asking is, what exactlt made his films great? Was it just the story and music? Is there some subconcious thing he incorporated as part of some gigantic plan that's just too deep or intelligent for me to see? Anyway, I'm confused. And I do know he has some really good shots (like the jogging scene in 2001, or the fighting scene in Clockwork).

Also, side note: is Sparticus any good? I'm told he only directed half of it...

Thanks.

-Rob

Dear Rob:

You're not paying attention.  "Dr. Strangelove" has a brilliant script, is perfectly cast with Peter Sellers at the very pinnacle of his talent, George C. Scott giving the best performance of his career, it's very funny, and it's loaded with beautifully composed and concived shots, like the whole opening the plane refueling, every close-up of Sterling Hayden, the many gorgeously composed shots around the big conference table, Slim Pickens going down on the bomb -- these are some of the greatest moments in motion picture history.  What are you looking for?  Meanwhile, I like "Spartacus" very much, and Stanley Kubrick directed more like 7/8ths of the film.  Anthony Mann was fired after two weeks, which was pretty much all the slave school scenes and that's it, which are very well directed.  But so is the whole film.  It's a million times better than "Gladiator."

Josh

Name:              AJ
E-mail:             ajky1111@hotmail.com

Josh,

Do you think there is a diffrence between a ripoff and a "homage"?

Dear AJ:

Yes, certainly.  Just like there's a world of difference between being inspired by something and ripping it off.  I'd say "Running Time" is sort of an homage to Alfred Hitchcock without ripping him off.    Just because you're paying homage to someone doesn't mean you have to rip them off.

Josh

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

Josh,

I can see how one might have assumed Herzog was going in a commercial direction if they were told that he was filming "Fitzcarraldo" with Jason Robards and Mick Jagger as was shown in Les Blank's "Burden of Dreams".

I think selling-out still exists, especially, in the music scene. The reason so many bands appear and dissapear just as quickly from the radio and TV indicates how audiences are more fickle than ever. By the time you or I hear a band on a national forum, or are even given a CD by a friend, that band as ammased a significant following. When that band appears on MTV or a Clear Channel Radio Station, their followers feel almost betrayed or forsaken that a band they appreciated would choose to make their work more widely known. (Yes, it's a stupid idea, but in our Consumer Culture we want everything to be ours exclusively, including the Arts.) The new mainstream audience will quickly chew through the 2 singles released before forgetting about the band entirely, dedicating themselves to the newest sounds on the radio. The worst subgenre of this, that I'm familiar with, exists in the Punk Music Scene. The moment a punk band produces a song that is remotely considered to be of the dreaded mononym, "pop", the band will be dead by sundown.

In keeping with Great Moments in Sell-Out History, I'd like to offer Bob Dylan going electric, Guided by Voices foresaking the 4-track for a Studio,  the Rolling Stones releasing "Dirty Work" and KISS taking off the make-up. Anyone else have any offerings?

Dear Angel:

I completely disagree that Bob Dylan sold out.  I believe after about a couple of hundred songs and five albums he simply had bigger musical ideas than one man with a guitar could get across, and he certainly didn't do it to please his fans.  But to make a radical change in your art isn't to sell out, even if that's how all Dylan's fans took it at the time.  I disagree with the Rolling Stones and "Dirty Work" being a sell-out, either.  After 20 years they just didn't know where they were going anymore.  The Stones were accused at the time of selling-out with "Some Girls," and it's one of their best albums.  I know nothing about Guided by Voices, and KISS was shit from the word go, a silly novelty band who never had any integrity to sell out. And if I never hear "I'm Gonna Rock & Roll All Night" again in my life it will be too soon.

Josh

Name:              Herzog's Last Stand
E-mail:             ernstyanning@hotmail.com

Dear Josh:         

Speaking of Werner Herzog, I wonder if he's going to die soon. I heard he cast Christian Bale as Dieter Dengler. Dieter Dengler is the kind of guy I'd like to have a drink with. Just the sight of Christian Bale makes me want to punch him in the face. Where's the connection? Is Herzog selling out by remaking LITTLE DIETER NEEDS TO FLY with Christian Bale? I wonder what happened to Bruno S. after STROSZEK and THE ENIGMA OF KASPAR HAUSER? They have a couple of documentaries listed on imdb but that's it.

Dear HLS:

What a thing to say.  Herzog's not that old, he's 64, why would you expect him to die soon?  He's a very nice guy, I've met him several times.  I wish him all the best.

Josh

Name:              Greg
E-mail:             www.myspace.com/teargasginn

Dear Josh:         

Dare I say it?  I enjoyed THOU SHALT NOT KILL more than EVIL DEAD.  So shoot me.  Naturally, I'm wanting a remastered CD soundtrack of LoDuca's score and a glimpse of the 8mm demo film...both of which may never see the light of day.

Hmm, is there a question here?  I guess not.  I'm just glad that you got the chance to make this film.  It rocks my world!!  And here we are 20 years later and it STILL kicks the crap out of everything being churned out by Hollywood. Although with all the remakes flooding the theaters recently, maybe a remake of TSNKE is in order.

Is there anything left over that CAN be put up on the site?  Behind the scenes photos...a pic of Bruce as Stryker...a shooting scrupt...I'll settle for anything.

Dear Greg:

Here are three never before seen, behind-the-scenes photos of "Stryker's War": Bruce as Stryker with Cheryl Guttridge as Sally, Sam as Manson, and me directing.  This was in the summer of 1980. 

Meanwhile, I'm glad you enjoyed the film.  Bruce has actually brought up the idea of remaking TSNKE because now he'd be the right age for the part.

Josh

Name:              Bart Reyes
E-mail:             br@reyesmobile.com

Dear Josh:         

I understand where you're coming from on the "selling out" concept, Josh, but I also think it caused as much damage as it cured back in the day.  A ton of the movies on your favorites list would have been considered "sell out" pictures to an indie cinema snob of the 70s to whom making a narrative movie according to the rules of Hollywood and not "challenging the audience's way of perception" ala Marxist Godard would be selling out.

My uncle was the president of his college's avant garde filmmaker group and they successfully invited Werner Herzog to visit their campus.  Herzog presented something of his and critiqued their short films.  According to my uncle (who may be full of shit, I don't know), Herzog invited him to come down and work on Fitzcarraldo as some sort of flunky  assistant or menial worker as a starting position.  My uncle refused the offer because to him Herzog's films were "too commercial" and my uncle didn't want to "sell out."  Well, he didn't sell out.  He's spent the last forty years or so in a cabin in the woods tinkering on unfathomable abstract short films and paintings no one will ever see.  Even he regrets the decision.

Dear Bart:

If you can somehow construe working on a Werner Herzog movie as a PA selling out, then you have a strange conception of what selling out means.  And since I'm a very strong proponent of narrative structure, I certainly don't consider that selling out.  Nor am I even a fan of Jean-Luc Godard.  But selling out, as I understand it, is taking the big paycheck to make a piece of shit.  Here's a perfect example of it, and absolutely nobody held it against the guy, was Ang Lee making "The Hulk."  But, as I say, since the concept of selling out no longer exists, no one bothered to bring it up.

Josh

Name:              Stacey
E-mail:             staci_3088@hotmail.com

Hey Josh,

I've been reading a lot about MGM and have been comparing the studio system the big studios had in the early days of hollywood to how movies are made these days - i can understand why it would never happen, but i would love to be apart of a studio system like the old days (perhaps showing great naivity in that opinon) but i was wondering about your opinon on the how they made movies then, did they have a good thing going or were they being held back? I'm always interested in your view on things and thankyou for answering each time!

Dear Stacey:

They used to make good movies all the time during the studio era, so I think it was a very good thing.  Putting the power in the hands of actors and their agents has only been a negative, and expensive, influence on filmmaking.  Also, since the corporate take-over of all the studios (so now there is really no single person in charge, but instead a committee), all projects are dissected to death.  Back in the studio era there was oddly a lot less interference.  Once a writer, director, producer and star were assigned to a picture, unless something went wrong or they went seriously over-budget, they just got to go make the film.  The writer had to contend with a producer and a director, not a committee of ignorant executives who all have their own fucked-up agendas.  The studio system was a much, much better system for making movies, and the films themselves prove the theory.

Josh

Name:              Bob
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

I rented Crash tonight, what a crappy movie.  Is it my imagination, or did this film win the oscar for Best Picture.

It wasn't even a movie, just a mish-mosh.  The three act structure has no application here.

As far as its observations of race relations in the US, it might have unintentionally scored some points.  In order to create a multi-cultural society where people don't communicate, the society has to be economically viable.  The USA has no jobs.

On a more focused point, the part where the shop owner shot the Hispanic locksmith and his daughter, and nothing happened, I immediately knew that the gun had blanks in it.  I flashed back to the part where the gun store owner was trying to dissuade the shop owners daughter.  To me it at that point it seemed that the director accomplished that goal.  But the later scene where she opened the drawer and we see blanks printed on the box, seemed to be an insult to the audience, and made it confusing what it was that was trying to be conveyed.  They might as well have put a caption "The Bullets were Blanks".  The coincedences of everyone in the movie meeting up at different points was gimmicky and didn't prove much.

Sandra Bullock looked good, but it wasn't her kind of part.

Who was Matt Dillon supposed to be... Furhman?

The complaints against the Insurance industry and HMO industry were valid, but everyone realizes this through their own dealings, and they don't need Hollywood to explain this to them.  It's doesn't hurt though to put it out there.

The musical score, was unremarkable and forgettable.

As was the picture itself.  Two stars.

Dear Bob:

I'll go with two stars, mainly for having a good cast.  The blank schtick was okay, but that's all it is, a schtick.  I didn't believe for a second the Arab store owner's anger at the good-hearted locksmith.  I didn't believe Matt Dillon feeling up Thandie Newton in front of witnesses; I didn't believe Thandie Newton's reaction to the incident, that she felt her husband could have done anything about it; I didn't believe her husband's having a bad day at work, then not stopping for the LAPD and swearing and them when he finally did stop, nor that Ryan Phillipe happened to be there; I didn't believe Sandra Bullock saying the things she did about the locksmith in front of him; I didn't believe that good-hearted car-jacker, Ludicrous, would not sell the Asians at $500 a head; I didn't believe that Ryan Phillipe happened to pick up Larenz Tate, on and on and on . . .  And having lived in L.A. for a long time, it's a 100% unbelievable representation of the place.  Other than a good cast, I think it's crap.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

I just got in to the show "Entourage" on HBO. Its seriously alot of fun. Have you heard of it or seen it? if ya get HBO and you haven't checked it out I'd recommend at least one viewing. I think its incredibly addicting and makes me look up to some of the actors involved. I think its better than Sopranos but I never really got in to that show anyway.

Your fan,
Jonathan

Dear Jonathan:

I thought you meant you got a part on the show.  Meanwhile, for me anyway, the show seems incredibly offensive.  A bunch of sycophants sucking up to a famous guy, following him around like a pack of dogs hoping for some kind of scrap.  Not for me.

Josh

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

Hey, I was just wondering you've ever had this problem that I'm having currently (though I'm not sure it's a problem). Have you ever been writing a screenplay and just, for no real reason, put jokes all the way through it?

It's kinda weirding me out because I'm writing what is supposed to be a serious script, but I just keep seeing opportunities for jokes, so I just keep puttin' 'em in. I still like the script, but I'm worried that I'm going  to go all OCD on it and have it just become a comedy.

Have you ever had this problem?

Jeremy Milks

Dear Jeremy:

I put humor pretty much anywhere I can find a place for it, but I do know what sort of script I'm writing while I'm writing it.  But just because it's a drama doesn't mean it shouldn't have humor, too.  It all comes down to what's appropriate for the piece, which is your call.

Josh

Name:              Legit's Reply
E-mail:             Thank You

<<THE LAST TYCOON is based on an unfinished novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald, so it doesn't have an ending>>

That may be, but I liked what they did with Robert DeNiro talking to the audience, it caught me off guard. They did the same thing in GOODFELLAS, but Ray Liotta was the films narrator, it wasn't out of the ordinary for something like that to happen. I also loved the scene where Robert Mitchum's daughter is upset about Monroe Stahr's date, then runs into his father's office to find a naked woman hidden in the closet. And the aging starlet thanking everyone (especially Monroe for firing that FUCKING DIRECTOR), and cutting that scene that ripped off CASABLANCA. The reviews I read said it should've been more fun, but I thought it was alright... makes a good double feature with RAGING BULL. THE SWIMMER was the strangest Burt Lancaster film I've seen yet out of FROM HERE TO ETERNITY, SWEET SMELL OF SUCCESS, RUN SILENT RUN DEEP, ELMER GANTRY, JUDGMENT AT NUREMBURG, BIRDMAN OF ALCATRAZ, SEVEN DAYS IN MAY, THE TRAIN, THE PROFESSIONALS, AIRPORT, ATLANTIC CITY. They don't seem to explain anything in that film (such as Lancaster having repressive amnesia), they just left puzzle pieces. I like films like that where you think you know the lead's intentions, and it flips on you during the course of the film (like THE COLLECTOR and THE KING OF COMEDY).

What did you think of THE LEOPARD and THE DAMNED('68)? Those also looked promising.

Dear Legit:

Make sure to drink a lot of espresso before those last two films.  And, of course, Burt Lancaster isn't in "The Damned," it's Dirk Bogarde.  For me, Luchino Visconti completely shot his wad with his first film, "Ossessione," and everything else he made just sits there.  My parents still use "The Leopard" as their example of the dullest foreign film they've ever seen. Meanwhile, I thought it was sort of a cop-out of Harold Pinter to use Monroe Stahr's speech to the director (Donald Pleasance) again at the end of the film, since we'd already heard it.  The daughter, BTW, is Theresa Russell in her first film.  At the time, a world of shit was dumped on Ingrid Boulting's head for being bad in the film, but I still think it's entirely Harold Pinter's fault for not writing her part very well, and Elia Kazan believed the same thing.  He was expecting another rewrite to improve her character right up to the second he shot her scenes, but never received it from Pinter.  Twenty years after the film came out, Kazan ran into Pinter at a party.  Pinter confronted Kazan saying that Ingrid Boulting stunk.  Kazan replied that he was still waiting for the rewrite.

Josh

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

Hey Josh,

Sorry to ask another question, but this one is momentarily important. Say I was writing a biopic film. How do I credit informational sources? Can they be websites and or books or does it need to be purely based on interviews and such? Thanks.

-Rob

Dear Rob:

Have you ever seen a bibliography at the end of a movie?  Or a script?  No. Unless you're basing your script specifically on a biography or two (meaning you have the rights to those books), non-fiction movies generally don't credit their sources.  But if it's about a living person, you have to get their permission.

Josh

Name:              perry
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

what's so amusing about sam rami at 34 on the list? it's certainly less amusing than tonny scott's inclusion, or m. night ding-dong's.

just because you've got a personal beef doesn't mean you can't acknowledge the man's talent.

Dear perry:

A. Who the fuck are you?  B. I have no "personal beef" with Sam.  All I said is I thought it was amusing.

Josh

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

Josh,

I just got done watching "The Awful Truth" (1937).  It's striking how much of "My favorite Wife" is in there.  It also seems like Katherine Hepburn may have seen "The Awful Truth" once or twice.

They really never sold the divorce or its pretense and Bellamy is clearly from no where near Oklahoma, City or Tulsa.  Still, there were laughs all the way through (particularly with Dunne playing Grant's "sister") and I thought Dunne was just great.  I know it was adapted from a play and that shows, too.  It garnered at least three Oscar nominations, I guess (Director, Actress, Supporting Actor).  Thoughts on it or Dunne?

By the way, Ted Raimi's site seems to have been down some time now and Bruce Cambell's also seems to be gone.  More's the pity.

John

Dear John:

I like Irene Dunne, who was a huge movie star in the early '30s, but I'm not a fan of "The Awful Truth" or "My Favorite Wife."  For me, most of those screwball comedies of the late '30s just aren't funny.  Whereas, at the same time, anything written by Preston Sturges is funny, like "The Good Fairy," "Easy Living" or "Remember the Night."  I recently saw "Love Affair" (1939) with Irene Dunne and Charles Boyer, and she was terrific in that.

Josh

Name:              Bob
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

Here's a contoversial question, that I have been meaning to ask you, that was just reminded of.

Apparantly Disney has been holding back "Song of the South" for it being allegedly racist.  It has not been seen on TV since around 1987 and may have been released on video during the 80s but not recently.  It is not available on DVD.  Apparently there is a demand for the movie, if only for the music.

Do you think Song of the South should be released on DVD if there is a demand for it?

Dear Bob:

Absolutely.  It's a piece of history now, just like "Birth of a Nation." The only reason to hold it back is political correctness, and that's bullshit.

Josh

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

Dear Josh,

Just another comment about Jethro Tull. I saw them in November. Whether what you said about selling out was true or not, they played mostly Stand Up and Aqualung and Thick as a Brick. Obviously they know what was good, regardless of what sold. They're making up for whatever selling out they did back then. Some people even booed when they didn't do any warchild, but still they didn't. Also, off topic, Ian Anderson is a funny guy.

Also, I do really love Skating Away. You called it obvious. I agree somewhat. But when you compare to the music of today it's as cryptic as anything. So, having grown up in this shitty, talentless punk/pop 21st century of music, it is still great.

-Rob

(Ian can still play on flute one footed)

Dear Rob:

Yes, compared to today's music Jethro Tull's weakest stuff is good.  We're in a time when the Best Album of the Year goes to a third-rate U2 record, and I like U2, but it's like the outtakes from the previous album.  I just saw an interesting movie, "Man in the Shadow" (1957) with Jeff Chandler and Orson Welles,  produced by Albert Zugsmith and directed by Jack Arnold. This was the film that Zugsmith and Welles did together right before "Touch of Evil," and is  basically what caused the confusion that got Welles to write and direct "Touch of Evil."  Albert Zugsmith, who was a B to B+ producer, contacted Charlton Heston, pretty much the biggest star in the world at that time, to star in "Touch of Evil" and said, "I've got Orson Welles," which, to his everlasting credit, Heston replied, "Sure, if you've got Orson Welles."  When Charlton Heston found out that Welles was only supposed to co-star, and someone like Jack Arnold, of "The Creature from the Black Lagoon" fame, was set to direct, Heston said, "I only agreed to appear in this film because I thought Welles was directing.  If he's not directing, I'm not in it."  Anyway, "Man in the Shadow," which was shot in black and white CinemaScope, is sort of like what "Touch of Evil" would have been had Jack Arnold and not Orson Welles directed.  It's perfectly okay.  It was written by Gene L. Coon, who went on to write for the original "Star Trek."

Josh

Name:              Legit
E-mail:             please answer

Dear Josh:         

What would you say you like the most about THE LAST TYCOON, SHAMPOO, THE SWIMMER, and HARRY AND TONTO? I suppose they're all worth checking out, but which ones would you suggest seeing first?

Dear Legit:

I think they're all worth seeing, but "Shampoo" is probably the best of that bunch, followed by "Harry and Tonto," "The Last Tycoon" and "The Swimmer." "The Swimmer," which I found to be very interesting, is based on a John Cheever short story, and it feels like a short story that's been elongated to a feature.  "The Last Tycoon" was based on an unfinished novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald, so it doesn't legitimately have an ending.  "Harry and Tonto" is silly, but it works pretty well for what it's doing, and Art Carney is very good, and won an Oscar.  "Shampoo" is a unique, interesting, well-made, very well-performed film, that is about something.  It also has a few great scenes in it.  I think Jack Warden is terrific in it.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

I just saw the trailer to "Lonesome Jim" the Steve Buscemi written/directed comedy. Have you heard of this? It looks pretty depressing except for a few spiky comedy dialogue. It looks like it might become the next Garden State. Except Steve Buscemi is a highly famous actor and Zach Braff was and still is kind of a nobody. I forgot if ya had seen Garden State or not and there wasn't any review as far as I could see. So I just wanted to see what your thoughts if any were on that film and if from what you might have heard your interest with Lonesome Jim lied.

Your fan,
Jonathan

Dear Jonathan:

"Garden State" was okay, for an insignificant little nothing of a movie.  I didn't mind Steve Buscemi's first film, "Trees Lounge," although it was nothing special, as well.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:         

It's not foreign to everyone, I've learned everything I know about filmmaking from books, watching movies, experimenting while shooting shorts, and your essays/Q&A. I just remembered that you have book, "Painting with Light" by John Alton, on your reading list. Are there any other books on lighting you can suggest?

Dear Trey:

Sorry, I was just being snotty.  I read a very simple book on lighting 30 years ago and I can't remember the name or the author.  John Alton's book is complex, but interesting.  David Worth, the DP on "Alien Apocalypse," quoted the great British DP, David Watkin, as saying, "One light is a statement; two lights are kind of a statement, three lights are no statement at all." Oddly, DPs don't seem to write books.  I read the book of the great, great DP, Freddie Young (winner of 3 Oscars: "Lawrence of Arabia," "Dr. Zhivago" and "Ryan's Daughter"), "Seventy Light Years," but it just recounted his experiences, it didn't tell you how to light.  I think you can learn a lot about lighting by watching Anthony Mann's film noir movies, like "Desperate" or "Railroaded" or "He Walked by Night" or "Raw Deal" and just pay attention to the lighting.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:         

I just watched the trailer for "Why We Fight" and it made me remember a conversation I had with a close friend of mine a few days ago.

What the fuck is wrong with most Bush supporters? I have another close friend who gets extremely angry if you say anything negative about Bush around her. I've been called names when I get into arguments with people who still support Bush. Are these people really so fucking stupid?

I agree with the poster who wrote in about the trailer, the final quote in the trailer is something many American's need to wake up to.

Anyway, to my actual question. How did you learn how to light scenes properly? I mean, did you just experiment until you found a setup that looks good? Or did you research how to light scenes extensively before you tried? Also, when you shot "Thou Shalt Not Kill...Except", what type of lights did you use to light your scene?

Dear Trey:

I know this is a weird foreign concept now, but I read some books about it. Lighting isn't all that difficult.  There are only three possibilities in lighting: the key, the fill or the back-light.  On TSNKE I used a variety of old quartz lights.  My favorite lighting in that film I achieved with one 250 watt bulb, in the bunker between Stryker and Miller.  Meanwhile, to be a Bush supporter at this point means you're as stupid as a box of rocks.

Josh

Name:              Bob
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

It's too bad you gave up on Jethro Tull after the War Child album, since their best album ever was yet to come: Songs From the Wood.

Actually, didn't A Passion Play go to #1 or 2 and Platinum?  I think it did, although I think it was the last time for Tull to go to #1.

I'm with you on Bungle in the Jungle, but War Child has some great songs on it: Skating Away on the Thin Ice of the New Day, Back Door Angels, The Third Hoorah, Queen and Country, Sealion.  Many of these songs were salvaged from the failed Chateau D'Isaster project.  War Child itself was a failed movie project, which is why it may seem to many to lack a consistent concept or theme.

I never thought about your idea though, that industry execs forced Ian Anderson to go more mainstream.  It's something to think about.  A single song double album would have been interesting, but I don't know if even IA had anything like that in him.  Do you think he could have gone further with Progressive Rock?

Dear Bob:

I can't go with you.  For me, everything after "Passion Play" is weak, including "Songs From the Wood."  Jethro Tull's best albums are "Benefit" and "Agualung."  A song like "Skating Away," which isn't a bad song, is so obvious it hurts, and clearly another attempt at trying to sell records. But none of that's the point.  The point is that Ian Anderson sold out.  He didn't make the artistic decision, he made the monetary decision, and once you make that decision you're dead duck.  You've sold your soul to the devil, and there's no going back.

Josh

Name:              duffy
E-mail:             roguewriter1@juno.com

Dear Josh:         

Hey just checking in to see what's being dicussed and as always it entertaining. Saw a note about Peter Jason and thought I'd toss you a fun story. My son attends a school for special needs children that happens to be one of Tim Wakefield's pet charities. Anyhow there was a fun meet and greet with a bunch of sport types of which I was clueless but this one man came into my son's classroom. I thought "hmm he looks kind of familiar", his name tag said Pete. I kept looking at him trying to place him. Nothing. I sat next to this man for about twenty minutes literally rubbing elbows with him, watching as he played with the kids and they just loved him. He was so sweet and caring with them I finally gave up trying to figure out who he was and just watched the wonderful display of warmth and real human emotion as they all interacted. Later of course I googled him and almost fell out of my chair when I found out who he was. I love this guy! I'm yelling at my husband "he was at Justin's school!" and he says "okay" (a man's way of saying okay lady you've lost it/whatever) I wanted to put this out so people would know that not only is Peter a great actor but a loving, caring and fantastic man.  He was the hit of the day in my opinion although meeting Johhny Damon was pretty nifty as well.
Thanks Duffy

Dear duffy:

Well, I completely enjoyed working with him, he's a total pro.  If you run his name at imdb, Peter Jason has one helluva resume.

Josh

Name:              James Bryznt
E-mail:             akademics2000@yahoo.com

Dear Josh:         

Hey I have an idea to make a movie how do i get my idea out there while being protected it's a very good idea and I just need that one shot to prove my material.

Dear James:

Write the screenplay, send it to the copyright office, then send it to agents and producers.  Good luck.

Josh

Name:              David R.
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

I just saw a trailer for an upcoming documentary called "Why We Fight" that looks interesting. The trailer implies that a big reason for american involvment in any war after about World War II is that our military-industrial complex is so large - and so profitable - that wars are influenced and begun by this factor alone. It is my thought that this has been pivotal in the recent Iraq "war". The trailer also ends with the quote: "It is nowhere written that the american empire goes on forever." We should all heed these ominous words.

If you're interested, here's the link to the trailer:
http://www.sonyclassics.com/whywefight/

Dear David:

Yes, I saw the trailer and I've seen the filmmaker interviewed.  It looks very interesting.  Kellog, Brown and Root, a subsidiary of Halliburton, was building the bases in Kuwait for the attack three months before our sneak attack on Iraq.  Dick Cheney's company, Halliburton, has made billions off this war.  This is the worst kind of war profiteering, and it was absolutely forbidden during WWII (and who was the worst offender back then?  George W. Bush's grandfather, who continued doing business with the Nazis until he was sued by the U.S. government and forced to stop).

Josh

Name:              pete chen
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

Yeah, "Blue Collar" was very good. I do agree that Act III dragged, but it its defense, it did have a lot to cover. Funny that you just recently rewatched the film. There is a Paul Schrader biography on the dvd's "special features" that mentions he studied under Pauline Kael (who has been much in this forum's discussion of late). I really do need to read some of her film books.

Dear pete:

Uh, yeah.  Start with Pauline Kael's books "Deeper into Movies" and "Reeling," which are both Kael at her peak in the early 1970s.  Then you can either go backward or forward.  Her reviews from the '60s in "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" are all very cool, although the later stuff, like "When the Lights Go Down" and after that into the late 80's and early 90s, just get more and more depressing, until she finally quits out of utter frustration because the movies have gotten so horrible.

Josh

Name:              Jonathan
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

That top 40 directors list is a real joke isn't it? Peter Jackson in the top ten? Shit, maybe for monster movies, not for all movies.

A shame somebody just called Resnais' "Marienbad" meaningless. I really found that film fascinating, but I know a lot of people dislike it. Even if one doesn't like his films, Resnais did have some excellent writings on cinema that anybody here would probably enjoy.

What do you think of Jean Vigo?

Dear Jonathan:

I like Jean Vigo.  I thought "Zero for Conduct" was kind of great, and mesmerizing in it's own weird way, as was "L'Atlante."  He was a unique artist.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:         

Yeah the list is dumb. The fact that the guy who made "minority report" beat the guy that made "A clockwork Orange" or the guy that made "The Godfather" to the number 1 spot is just odd. William Wyler and Frank Capra aren't even on the list.

Mind you the list was put together using 10,000 votes from empire readers so it don't matter.

Dear Chris:

No, of course not, but what does matter?  It amazes me on some level that the concept of "selling-out" no longer exists.  When I was a young man the idea of selling-out was a real issue.  As an example: I was a big Jethro Tull fan from time they started, and I was right there with them for the albums: "This Was," "Stand Up," "Benefit," "Aqualung," "Thick as a Brick" and "Passion Play."  By the last two of those albums Ian Anderson had gotten himself to a point where he was really writing full-fledged rock operas that had no cuts in them and were therefore totally radio unfriendly.  And "Passion Play" didn't sell very well, so I have no doubt that Mr. Anderson was called on the carpet by record executives, managers, agents, etc. to write a "normal" record, with 3 1/2 minute songs.  Now, had Ian Anderson told these bozos to fuck themselves and wrote a piece that went on for two albums without any cuts, that's someone to admire.  Instead, though, he put out "War Child," which is all 3 1/2 minute songs, the lead song being "Bungle in the Jungle," as insipid of a rock pop song as was ever written, and a big hit.  Ian Anderson sold out, and it broke my heart.  Now, however, the point is selling out.  Nobody ever gets accused of it now because it's what you're expected to do.  As opposed to actually having a story you must tell, the reason one makes an independent feature these days is in the hope that they will be chosen to direct "Free Willy 5."

Josh

Name:              Thad Dude
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

Dude, I downloaded you Aliean Apocolypse script and it came out looking like this: 000-000 -oOOOo00.

Just a bunch of squares and zeros man, just a bunch of squares and zeros.

Dear Thad:

I'm sure it's not supposed to be that way.  Perhaps someone will look into it.

Josh

The webmaster sez: It is a Word document; it shouldn't be opened as a text file. I just opened it in WordPad and it looks fine.

 

 

Name:              Jamie
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

Watched "Paths of Glory" again. Seems to actually become more complex with each viewing, and, paradoxically (or not), more satisfying. The ending is amazing: after Kubrick catalogs almost every means mankind has at its disposal to manipulate, coerce, suppress, and pacify those of its lower orders (even when dealing with the more "honest"> characters, such as the priest, or the sergeant who tells Paris (Ralph Meeker) to "be a man" as his life is being snuffed out for no good reason), it seems clear to me that the German girl is put in the movie to demonstrate that the soldiers empathize with her, and perhaps - even for just a moment - recognize where they are in the universe. What do you think?

Dear Jamie:

Yeah, a moment of pure human empathy, it's brilliant.  "Paths of Glory" is not an easy movie, and that's part of what makes it great.  You can't have better snotty generals than George Macready and Adolph Menjou.  I think the sergeant's punch in the face of the panicking soldier is one of the the great punches in movies -- you really feel it -- and it's completely believable that with that one punch he cracked his skull.  My other favorite movie punch, BTW, is Sterling Hayden punching Al Pacino in the face in front of the hospital and breaking his jaw in "The Godfather."  You feel that one, too.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:         

Hey, I was just rewatching "Resivoir Dogs" here the other day, and I remembered you had interviewed Tarantino back when he was shooting it, but I don't remember ever reading what your thoughts on the film were. Did you like Resivoir Dogs or hate it?

Also, what are your thoughts on Tarantino in general? I know I read that you didn't like "Pulp Fiction" so I was just kinda curious as your overall view of the man.

Jeremy Milks

Dear Jeremy:

This topic has come and gone so many times now it's just a bore.  Use the handy-dandy search engine.

Josh

Name:              adam sloan
E-mail:             ahs65@yahoo.com

Dear Josh

Beth Smarrs comments/questions are so rediculous! Anyways the website is awesome and i just want to thank you for taking the time to answer all these questions!

Dear adam:

I wish I were busier and didn't have the time to do it.  But so far in 8 years I always have.

Josh

Name:              harry shalliker
E-mail:             harry@harryshalliker.wanadoo.co.uk

Dear Josh:          

How do you know that this story is fact or just another fable?

Dear harry:

What story might that be?

Josh

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

Dear Josh:         

I looked at the top 40 director list that Chris sent you. Wow. I don't understand how half the people are on there. I guess it just proves every point point you make about retardedness of the general public. Tony Scott? Michael Mann? Are they serious? And in the actual artical, they listed Tim Burton as a Brit! He's from Burbank. Orson Welles would turn in his grave if he knew he was listed behind Ridley Scott.

Anyway, a question: A while back I mentioned that I had 1500 dollars to spend on a camera. Assuming I'd rather rent one, what do you suggest I do with the money? a lighting set? keep it until I can use it in a production I'm involved with? Thanks...

Rob

Dear Rob:

Begin by coming up with a good story.  Not just any story, a good story, one you truly believe in.  A story you'd tell to a dying friend that you didn't think would be wasting their precious time.  That's where you begin this process, not with cameras or equipment.

Josh

Name:              George Jose
E-mail:             loaduup4u@yahoo.com

Dear Josh:         

How do we know that the gospel of Judas is not a concortion of your weird mind, what if there was no Father McPhillips or Giovanni, what if they were all products of your imagination as was the context of the said "Gosple of Judas" since according to you, the original manuscript was burned by McPhillips after he "read it"  but not after he translated it?  How did you get the dialogue if it was burnt same day?

Dear Dufus:

It's a short story.  It's fiction, you ever hear of that?  I've got news for you, so is the bible.  Get with the program.

Josh

Name:              Jamie
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

Just watched "Magnificent Ambersons" for around the tenth time. Still one of the all-time great movies - I've begun to share the opinion of those who feel that it's actually better than "Kane"; it certainly feels like Welles is raising the stakes, diving headlong into the void more often and more fearlessly. My favorite shot in the movie, which has a wealth of "favorite shot" candidates, might be the super-long long take that follows George and Lucy, riding a horse-drawn buggy, as she rebuffs his nineteenth or so marriage proposal: it seems to exist outside of our expectations of both conventional Hollywood cinema as well as Wellesian cinema. It's a small consolation to the massacred ballroom sequence: if we can't have that lost, nigh-mythological masterstroke of choreography and camerawork, at least we have Georgie mourning the bed as Welles speaks of his come-uppance.

How about "The Other Side of the Wind?"

Dear Jamie:

How about it?  Nobody's ever seen it, and I guess there are leans against it or something.  I don't have much faith that it's any good, though.  The shit he was doing at the end was out of sheer desperation.  I got a number of inside stories about the making of "The Other Side of the Wind" from Peter Jason, who is apparently in the film, as well as having worked on it for several years, when we made "Alien Apocalypse" together.  Welles kept not paying Peter, so Peter finally just took Welles's Cadillac and never gave it back.  Meanwhile, regarding "The Magnificent Ambersons," I seem like the only person on earth who doesn't lament the cut footage.  I have a strong suspicion it was not a better movie 45 minutes longer.  And the scene at the ball is still brilliant, so what do you want?  What amazes me is how much Orson Welles obviously loved that book, and he was just a 25-year-old kid at that time.  He had wonderfully good taste.

Josh

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

Josh,

You always say that nothing has been written in a while that is any good by your standards. Would you ever consider directing film based on a novel?

-Rob

Dear Rob:

Potentially, if I really liked the novel.  But then you're in the common situation of "the book was better than the movie."  I'm still a lot more interested in making films from my own scripts.

Josh

Name:              pete chen
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

What do you think of the film "Blue Collar"? I believe it was Paul Schrader's directorial debut. I know you don't care for most of his work as a director, but thought perhaps you would feel differently about this film. The cast with Harvey Keitel and the late Richard Pryor is terrific, and the plot has merit. I liked it.

Dear pete:

I like it, too, and I think it's Paul Schrader's best film as a director. Coincidentally, I just watched it again, and the first two acts move right along.  Act III kind of takes a dump, as it gets embroiled in legal machinations.  What was truly odd was Yaphet Kotto's last line, over the freeze-frame of Keitel and Pryor going at each other, is really poor sound recording from the production track and it's barely audible.  Why didn't Schrader get Kotto to loop that last line so we could actually hear it?  I mean, it is the last line of the film after all.  Nevertheless, it's a pretty good movie.  Great opening title scene, with terrific Jack Nietzche music.

Josh

Name:              Jonathan
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

Do you remember the Oscars from around March 1977 where they performed Jerry Goldsmith's "Ave Satani?" I just remembered that today and I remember it was a strange performance. Can you see that being nominated for "Best Song" these days?

With that said, I will say that Goldsmith's score for "The Omen" was indeed the creepiest part of that film.

I do think, however, that Goldsmith should've won the Oscar for "Papillon." The 'chasing butterflies' cue is really beautiful.

Dear Jonathan:

No, no, Jerry Goldsmith's year was 1970, and he absolutely should have won it for "Patton," which took all the rest of the major awards, but he lost to the insipid, saccharine, Francis Lai score for "Love Story."  This is one of the great blunders in Academy history, and giving it to him for "The Omen" was making restitution.  I absolutely agree with you that Jerry Goldsmith should have also won it in 1973 for "Papillion" over Marvin Hamlisch for "The Way We Were" (who won two other Oscars that year and didn't need Best Dramatic score, too).

Josh

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

Dear Josh:         

BTW if you want to have a laugh...check this out. Don't forget to scroll down to read the full top 40 list.

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,3-1637094,00.html

Dear Chris:

Yes, number 34.  Amusing.

Josh

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

Hey Josh,

"Everybody disagrees on something though (like you and Bruce on "Lawrence of Arabia"). "

What does he mean? What did Bruce think of "Lawrence"?

Also what do you think of "Anatomy of a murder"? I noticed it wasn't on your favourite films list but I figured that doesn't mean that you don't like it at all. I quite enjoyed that movie.

Dear Chris:

I love "Lawrence of Arabia," and Bruce wasn't crazy about it.  But we both love "The Bridge on the River Kwai."  What's my problem with "Anatomy of a Murder"?  Otto Preminger, is the problem.  I think he was a shitty, sloppy director, with a really poor sense of pace, who consistently made dumb decisions.  Just because Jimmy Stewart's character likes jazz, doesn't mean it's appropriate for the score, and I love Duke Ellington.  Also, casting the world-famous Duke Ellington as Pea Eye was just weird.  But the worst aspect is the sluggish pace, which Preminger was known for, and the boom dropping in.  Ultimately, with that cast and book it should've been great, and due to the director it isn't.

Josh

Name:              John Ertsgard
E-mail:             rooksquared@yahoo.com

Dear Josh:         

I couldn't lay it down more precisely and to the point than you did. Excellent. You might have added that these cowards alsdo think that religion is the basis of morality...one of the big lies purpotrated on the un-thinking masses. I coined a saying while back that you might find amusing:

"If god exists, he's just kidding."

Take care and good luck to you and your family.

John Ertsgad

Dear John:

No, religion is the rationale for immorality.  There's no clearer example of it than the Muslim belief that if you kill an infidel you go straight to heaven.  It's using religion as a cloak for completely immoral behavior. Just like America's sneak attack on Iraq, with Bush's Christian rationale that "god wants everybody to be free."  Yeah?  Whose god?

Josh

Name:              Walter Lemon
E-mail:             mancow@jerusalem.org

Dear Josh:         

Vagabond was a story.  It was the story of how a homeless woman ended up dead on the side of the road.  If I recall correctly, the film begins with that image, then goes back in time to before she died and humanizes this character for us in a way that connects us with a homeless woman as an individual human being and showed us why she died, the combination of psychological damage and social malfunctions that lead to that end.  I cared a lot about what happened to the character.  She wasn't a Eurobimbo.

As for Three Colors, if you take the first one, which is the one I'm most acquainted with, it's a very compelling story of a woman who is forced by a car crash to reveal to the world that she was the actual composer of the music her husband was famous for.  She doesn't want to do that because she doesn't want to betray the memory of her dead husband.  It depicts the process of her coming back to life after the near-death accident and how she may actually be more alive afterwards than before, because now she can't hide behind her husband anymore.  The way Kieslowski shows the music gradually working its way through her emotional damage, and the themes of her composition coming back to life to mirror her emotional recovery was deeply moving to me.  It was not artsy-fartsy meaninglessness.  (I would offer "Last Year at Marienbad" for that category.)

Dear Walter:

Okay.  I accept your point of view; it seems well-reasoned and intelligent, I just disagree.  I feel that in those films particularly there's an entire major level of empathy or sympathy for the character that I'm supposed to read in myself based on long close-ups of blank facial expressions, as opposed to it really being written into the script.  But that's my perspective, and many people liked those films.  I know many people love the films of Truffaut, Chabrol, Rohmer, Bresson, and Lelouch, and for me they're liking watching paint dry.  Whereas, I don't get that from Ingmar Bergman, who certainly loves his close-ups of characters reacting, but I always feel like I'm watching much more serious actors performing far more serious scripts.

Josh

Name:              Craig
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

Nobody ever told you to grade on a curve. I don't grade on a curve, nobody here said they did.

One thing I notice is that your tastes are mainstream, just not modern. If you were living in 1962 now you'd be considered mainstream and more interested in Hollywood than anything else. Your favorite director is Wyler, who is a fucking great director, but very "mainstream" as far as cinema in general goes (aside from maybe "The Collector," an interesting movie).

You don't like French films because they bore the hell out of you. Personally, I think I've seen maybe 200+ French films, and I can only think of maybe five I didn't care for, and I seriously disagree that something like "Vagabond" or "Three Colors" is "meaningless" or "crap." > But if it bores you it bores you.

However, I also love everything you love. And I do have very high standards. Everybody disagrees on something though (like you and Bruce on "Lawrence of Arabia").

Dear Craig:

Is there a question here or are you just trying to categorize me?  I was completely interested in the foreign films of the 1950s and '60s as I grew up, particularly Kurosawa, Bergman, Bertolucci, the Neo-realist Italian films, and the French New Wave, but once you've seen them you've seen them. There have been many foreign filmmakers that have been highly touted in the last 20 years, but none of them have turned out to be anything.  But French films particularly have their own unique brand of dull vacuousness, and "Vagabond" and the "Three Colors" films are good examples.  Basically, a cute, pouty, French girl wanders around in a daze for two hours having random encounters, and if we're lucky there are some nude scenes.  Or you've got the Eric Rohmer variety, of attractive mid-20s French girls and boys wander around talking endlessly about sex and relationships.  You can call me mainstream or not modern, or even Ray, but I'm looking for one basic thing in all movies -- make me care about this story, whatever it's about, and wherever it's taking place.  What I'm looking for, I get from films like Vittorio DeSica's "The Bicycle Thief" or Zhang Yimou's "To Live" or Clint Eastwood's "The Unforgiven," and it's what I don't get it from most contemporary movies these days, wherever they're from.

Josh

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

Dear Josh,

What do you think of twist endings (i.e., Usual Supects, The Sting)? Do you think it ruins story structure or helps it along? The two films I listed have very different types of endings. The Sting has the setup and execution of its twist all in act 3 (I think), while The Usual Suspects begins their setup with the opening titles.

On a slightly related note, what are your thoughts on Bryan Singer? I admit the X-Men movies were crap, but specifically Usual Suspects and The Apt Pupil.

Also, there's this documentary in my local film festival called "This Film is Not Yet Rated". It's about corruption in the MPAA. Have you heard about> it?

Thanks as always.

Rob

Dear Rob:

The problem with twist endings is that frequently the entire rest of the story is sacrificed to get the twist to work, and it's almost never worth it.  It ultimately also has a tendency to make the stories more insignificant, because once you know the twist, you know it.  I'm not saying it can't work, it does in "The Sting" and "The Sixth Sense," but usually it doesn't.  With that, "The Usual Suspects" bored me, and seems like one of those films where too much is being withheld.  "Apt Pupil" stunk, and I didn't even try to watch "X-Men."

Josh

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

Dear Josh:         

Yeah, the main problem with the old Kragnogorsk is that it isn't a sync camera. I figured I'd have to loop all my dialogue later anyway, so that wouldn't be too much of a problem. Though I finally decide upon using a film camera for the pilot, I'll probably do some checking at the University of Iowa and see what type of equipment they have.

Anyway, back to my other question I'd sent you ... if I did manage to get a movie to you, and you hated it, I'd fully understand your need to get on here and say bad things about it, and that's fine with me. Once you make a movie and put it out there for the world to see, you have to expect a few bad reviews here and there.

I've always said that filmmakers who can't take a bad review should be in a different business. I appreciate my bad reviews as much as I appreciate my good ones.

Jeremy Milks

Dear Jeremy:

First of all, it's Krasnogorsk.  Second, looping a whole film with a lot of dialog is very, very difficult, generally doesn't work all that well, and there's no reason for it in this case.  Third, why would you bother shooting a sit-com pilot?  Nobody will ever make a sit-com based on it, that's not how it's done.  Fourth, as was already suggested to you, this is the perfect instance to shoot DV.  What are you thinking?

Josh

Name:              Count von Droste Schattenburg
E-mail:             coppolas_cocaine@yahoo.com

Dear Josh:         

I'll stick my neck on the line and say DELICATESSEN for the foreign films department, though its just okay. I love the synchronized sex scene. Dominique Pinon is always weird. I wish they'd release that film on dvd.

I can't really find Pauline Kael's reviews online, what did she think of APOCALYPSE NOW?

Dear Count:

"Delicatessen" was a stupid bore.  I don't recall Kael's review of "Apocalypse Now."

Josh

Name:              David M Payne
E-mail:             paynefullproductions@yahoo.com

Dear Josh:         

Not a question really, I bought and read your book and wanted to thank you for it. I'm doing a film called "Holy War" a SciFi/Horror/Erotic flick and I think your input from the book will help me get it made. I am using two Panasonic HVX200's shooting in High Definition 720i 24P for a film transfer if it turns out to be a good flick, which I think it will, even for a first time director at age 57. As for computers for filming to hard drives and editing, I have 3 apple computers a new G5 Quad and two new G4 laptops as well as FCP and some other equipment lights, mics etc totaling about $40,000.00. Film cameras are just too much for me to grapple with, and this new camera has put out some very fine work that has been uprezed to film already. As you know in the digital age one can do a movie now with this equipment that would have cost many more thousands if not millions only a few years ago. Thanks for your book bud, and I hope I helped you get out of that big debt a bit. I used a second on my home to finance my film for the most part, so hopefully I'll not have the problem you did with credit. Now if I just had an answer to the sales agent problem.

David M Payne

Dear David:

That's a lot of money to spend on equipment, all of which will be outdated pretty soon.  You know you can rent equipment, then you still have money with which to make the movie.  Now, don't do what every beginning filmmaker does (even if you're 57), and that's not put the time in on your script. Having a decent script to work with is more important than any equipment issue.  Good luck.  Let us know how it goes.

Josh

Name:              Jonathan
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

You said on the FAQ that you met Francois Truffuat. Did you have a discussion with him? Was he giving a lecture at the film school you were in?

Who are some living filmmakers that you would like to meet?

Dear Jonathan:

Yes, Francios Truffaut spoke for a class of mine at Sherwood Oaks Experimental College in 1977.  He did a Q&A, with a translator, although he understood the question, but answered in French.  I don't recall him saying anything of any real interest.  I'm not all that interested in meeting any other filmmakers.

Josh

Name:              Irma McHugh
E-mail:             irmamch@hotmail.com

Dear Josh,

Could you please describe what you did not like about "Man From La Mancha?" I thought there were great performances, plot, and idea.

Also, your opinions on the French film "The Swimming Pool." The young actress is very French I thought, they really enjoy those sorts of things in contrast.

Irma

Dear Irma:

I haven't seen "The Swimming Pool."  The French actress is Ludivine Sagnier. Regarding "The Man of La Mancha," well, let' see . . .  Peter O'Toole, Sophia Loren and James Coco all can't sing, and it happens to be a musical, so that's a big detriment.  It's poorly directed, ugly, and everyone seemed like they were on downers.  Not that it much matters, but Leonard Maltin gives the film a BOMB, and says, "Beautiful source material has been raped, murderd, and buried."  Well put.

Josh

Name:              Andrew Mayfield
E-mail:             batgnome@gmail.com

Howdy, I was just introduced to your page the other day and have since been fascinated.  I want to thank you for making available all these essays and articles (for free no less!).

I haven't read everything, yet what I have has been informative and encouraging, for I have had similar thoughts for a while now (especially the jump-cut thing in Dogma 2006, jesus christ that shit annoys the hell out of me) and it's good to hear others are as disgusted and fed up as I am, and in your case more so.

I am really impressed with your "Need for Structure" essays and am embarrassed to admit I wasn't familiar with the three act rule.  Although, looking back on a couple short stories I have written they do basically follow the setup / confrontation / resolution structure but definitely not as strictly as they should.

My question is :  Do you believe any story can be translated to film?  Not SHOULD be necessarily but CAN be?  I ask because with a significant amount of my ideas I am having difficultly figuring out how I would commit them to film.  An example; a young man thinks he is going insane, he is frightened beyond belief and is desperately trying to prevent it, yet ultimately the inevitable happens and he goes mad.  I am not sure how to approach it, and am doubtful it is worth the effort.  I have some ideas but they seem kind of cheesy.  I don't know, maybe it's a dumb idea to begin with.

Anyway I am sort of rambling on here, I would appreciate any thoughts you might have if you have the time to respond.  And if not thanks for reading.  Good luck and stay sane.

Regards,

Andrew.

Dear Andrew:

Welcome.  I don't know that every story can be adapted to film.  Or, let's say, *should* be adapted to film.  Everything is not a movie.  Some stories exist better as literature, that's why movie adaptations generally aren't as good as the book.  Because something makes a good story or novel doesn't mean it's necessarily a movie.  Your example sounds like an Act I -- A guy fears he's going insane, tries to stop it, but is going insane anyway. Okay, now what happens?  That's your set-up, it's not a whole story.

Josh

Name:              Alex Wilson
E-mail:             alexdot@shaw.ca

Dear Josh:         

I really enjoy your site and your analyses of Wyler's films, especially THE BIG COUNTRY which I think has been underrated for too long probably because of exposure on small TV sets. Have you heard of Wyler's Rules for writers? I'm told that the first one is "Grab 'em by the throat" but I can't find anything else.
Thanks.

Dear Alex:

I've never heard of Wyler's Rules for Writers.  Of course, he wasn't a writer himself, so you could only take his suggestions on the topic so far. But he supervised the writing of a lot of great scripts.  He wisely worked primarily with great writers, like Sidney Kingsley, Lillian Hellman, Jessamyn West, Frederic Knott, James Hilton, Gore Vidal, etc.  I love "The Big Country," and I think it's up there in the realm of "As good as movies get, or have ever gotten."

Josh

Name:              Jacob Sargeant
E-mail:             sjacob666@aol.com

Dear Josh:         

You've hit the nail right on the head man.  Its nice to know that there are some people out their that refuse to be indoctrinated with "religious" bullshit.
Thanks

Dear Jacob:

Yeah, man!

Josh

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

Hey Josh

A quick note to Jeremy Milks: why on earth would you want to shoot a pilot sit-com, on a limited budget, on 16mm film (and on an MOS camera at that?!?) If digital's perfect for anything it's a sit-com! Jeez-Louise!

All right Josh I just had to let that one out.

I know you probably don't care but I wonder what George Lucas is going to do now? I thought THX 1138 was an interesting film (a dystopia in which the populace seems complicit in its enslavement) and I really liked the humanity of American Graffiti. I'd like to see him do something like the latter.

Lata


Lee

Dear Lee:

Dude, "American Graffiti" came out when I was in high school, 33 years ago, and "THX 1138" was two years before that.  George Lucas had just gotten out of college.  You know what the chances are of Lucas being able to get back to that frame of mind?  Zero. Meanwhile, why anyone would want to shoot a sit-com pilot is beyond me anyway.  It certainly won't lead to getting a sit-com made.

Josh

Name:              Craig
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

Watch anything good or interesting lately?

Kael was interesting, but I do get the impression that she placed more value on gut-feelings, and always stubbornly refused to re-elvauate anything.

Some of the first film criticism I read was Kael's, and she's a very talented writer, but not the best film critic. She offered little in the way of actual film criticism (coming to the film and discussing the film on its terms) and more in the way of reviewing/opinions (approaching a film on her terms.) Not that this is inherently wrong (god knows must of us take this approach), but her stance particularly on Clockwork Orange and Gimme Shelter was both misled and misleading.

However, her pieces on The Godfather I and II, Nashville, 2001, Mean Streets, Masculin Feminin, Last Tango in Paris, etc. are a joy to read.

Dear Craig:

That is an interesting dichotomy you point out.  I feel that I have been accused of this many times myself: of approaching films on my terms, as opposed to taking a film on it's own terms.  I got into it with Leonard Maltin because of this issue.  Maltin is a critic who supposedly "takes films on their own terms," so that "The Godfather" gets three and a half stars and "Pulp Fiction" also gets three and a half stars.  When I asked, "So, you then believe both of those films are equally as good?" Maltin replied, "I don't compare one film to another, I take them on their own terms."  Well, of course, he's just full of shit.  He puts out a book of ratings, and the definition of "rate" is the comparison of one thing to another.  The upshot of all of this is, in my opinion, that you can only take things in your own terms, and you can never remove yourself from the equation.  It's going in through your eyes and ears into your brain, where you store the info on all the other films you've ever seen, and immediate comparisons are being made, whether you like it or not.  Therefore, I believe that first category is bullshit.  And any critic that seriously believes they are reviewing that way -- meaning attempting to be totally impartial -- is a fool.  It's just like most people grade movies on a yearly curve, like, "'Crash' is a great movie, compared to the other films of 2005."  Yeah, but compared to ALL movies, it's a piece of crap.  So, is it great or is it a piece of crap?  I say it's crap, and therefore a grading on a yearly curve is worthless.  "Vagabond," which someone just brought up, is either a dull, meandering bore in regard to all movies; but is great in the category of boring, meandering, meaningless French films.  If that's a category, who cares?

Josh

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

Josh,

A very quick question number two. Do you have the premium membership thing at imdb? Why or why not? It seems worth it for anyone in the business (I think it gives you budget and contact info), but that's coing from someone who's not in the business... so I'm asking you.

-Rob

Dear Rob:

No, I don't.  I go to imdb pretty regularly, and I get all the info I want without having to join.

Josh

Name:              Michael A. Sparks
E-mail:             msparks@mts.net

hi, I have a firefighter based screenplay, it has many strong elements such as a revenge plot of an arsonist, a love story and the classic humor of the movie MASH. this all weaved around a few realistic fire scenes. it writes to 150 pages in format and I am just putting the finishing touches on it. FYI I am a fire fighter and this is my first screenplay. I also have two others in the conceptional stages. My question is, should I finish the two other plays and also write a 22 minute 16mm short about detailing a gangsters car at 3 AM, which I can produce and direct before I flog "Fire Hall Five"? Also, could you suggest a manuscript editor that can be trusted, I have copywrite issues as every writer does. I thank you in advance for your attention to my concerns.
Adios Amigo.

Dear Michael:

Here, check this out http://www.pw.org/mag/classifieds.htm#misc This is Poets & Writers Magazine, and under "Services" is a whole list of editors. I don't know what you should do next.  Do what seems right you.  Good luck.

Josh

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

Hey Josh,

I was just wondering: In your opinion, what separates a gimmick from a piece of intelligent direction?

As an example, Raimi's quick zooms, Kubrick's slideshow beginning credits, or Burton's twisty curly architecture...

Thanks,
Rob

Dear Rob:

Use a gimmick often enough and that becomes your style.  As far as I'm concerned, everything is in regard to the story.  Whatever approach you take has to be to get your story across, and if it's not, then it shouldn't be there.  Sam likes snap-zooms, and therefore he'll find a place for them. Kubrick loved tracking shots and Steadi-cam shots, and he was always looking for a cool places to use them.  That's style, but it's being used used to make the story more visual, so it has meaning.  However, when you make a big, overall, umbrella decision, like "the whole film's hand-held," like so many films are now, that's a gigantic cop-out.  You've then relieved yourself of the responsibility of how to visually approach each shot, each scene, and the whole film, and therefore you may as well just not show up.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:         

Sorry, I thought of another question here so I figured I'd ask. A long time ago I came into possesion of a Kragnogorsk 16mm camera. I actually was consider shooting my first feature with it, before my budget knocked me down to digital ... anyway, the question.

I've been thinking about shooting a sitcom pilot with my 16mm camera and I was just wondering if you know the standard price (assuming there is a standard price) for develing the film? And for getting the negatives transfered to film so that I can digitally edit it. If nothing else could you tell me how much it cost you to develop your film, just so I could get some sort of idea.

Thanks,
Jeremy Milks

Dear Jeremy:

A Krasnogorsk camera isn't a synch camera, so you can't really shoot dialog scenes with it.  As for the most recent prices for film to digital transfer, etc. check with a lab.

Josh

Name:              jo-jo
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

Hello sir. I know a in a couple of your films you've used stock footage. Was that in the public domain? How did you go about finding such footage, and was it difficult to get the permission to do so?

Dear jo-jo:

The stock shots in TSNKE were purchased from NBC and National Geographic, and were quite expensive.  They charge by the second, which is why I double-printed all of it and made it slow-motion. That way I only paid for 60 seconds of footage and got a 2-minute sequence out of it.  There are also stock footage houses, and they're expensive, too.  In "Lunatics" I bought the time-lapse shots of L.A. and they weren't cheap, either.  When you get to older, black and white, stock footage, you're no longer paying for the rights, which are in the public domain, you're paying for access to a decent copy.

Josh

Name:              Bob
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

I checked imdb.com about the Fredric March version of Death of a Salesman.  It is from 1951.  Apparently it was shown on TV at one time, but according the the site, not for over 20 years.  It has never been released on VHS or DVD.  A viewers comment says it is a forgotten gem.  It received a 1952 oscar best picture nomination.

Dear Bob:

Yeah, I'd love to see it.  Maltin gives it three and a half stars.  It's got Kevin McCarthy and Cameron Mitchell, and it was directed by Laszlo Benedek who also directed "The Wild One."  But I really want to see Fredric March as Willy Loman, he seems like very good casting for the part.

Josh

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

Hello again Mr. Becker. I just read that a fan (or at least a site frequenter ... is frequenter a word?) got a film that he made actually to you for viewing. So, I guess my question is, if somebody actually does manage to get a film in your hands, you'll watch it? Or at least attempt to watch it?

Because as soon as I get a film that I consider watchable shot and cut and everything, I'd love to get a copy of it to you. I mean, if you'd actually be willing to watch it that is. I don't want to push my "work" on you or anything, but I would truly appreciate your input on my work (assuming I had anything moderatly good to show you).

Jeremy Milks

Dear Jeremy:

It was a tad cruel of me to have brought that up, but there you go.  This was from someone who has been coming to this site for many years, and this wasn't his first feature, either.  He sent me his first one about four years ago, and it was just as bad as the second one, in exactly the same way.  I certainly admire fortitude, but I can't express to you how much I dislike reading people's scripts or watching their movies, and I honestly wish it weren't so.  In the course of my 47 years on this planet, pretty much 100% of the scripts I've read and the films I've seen by people coming up or trying to come up in the film business have been completely dreadful.  Very little in life angers me as much as reading half-assed scripts or watching lazy, ill-conceived movies.  I've never met anyone around my own age or younger that has the first clue how to write a script, and if they don't know that I don't care what they do with the camera.  So, it is possible you might be able to slip me your film, but I really, really, really don't want to see it, and if I do and I don't like it, I will bring up here on the Q&A.

Josh

Name:              Jonathan
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

I read "Afterglow," and she still doesn't strike me as harsh as you, though maybe it's because I don't personally know you. I do know, though, that she "loved" fewer films than you do, so maybe you are less harsh than her, but she seemed to like far more of the newer stuff than you did. I've been through a few of her books, and she was hard in the past on a lot of movies you (and I) like or love. But you've walked out or written off on a lot of what she loved. Who knows?

I less than seldomly agree with her myself (though I always like what she likes, again similar to you). I love her "Last Tango in Paris" review. Kael actually never stopped loving De Palma, she prasies "Mission to Mars" and "Snake Eyes."

Was she more harsh on Spielberg than you? She seemed to enjoy the only two you like, "Jaws" and "Close Encounters," though she sort of mocked them in her "praise." She definitely hated the first "Star Wars" though, which you loved at the time.

What was good about Kael was that in many of her reviews you had to almost figure out if she liked the film or not, because she can start a review favorable, but then mock it toward the end (or vice versa). She was interesting.

Dear Jonathan:

I daresay Pauline Kael was the best film critic we've had in this country, so far.  It still surprises the hell out of me that she only saw movies once, and she never watched them a second time.  A big part of my life has been watching the movies I love over and over again.  It makes me very happy to be able to do long runs of dialog from, say, "The Magnificent Ambersons" or "The Godfather" or "The Best Years of Our Lives" or "Unforgiven."  I'll bet I've watched "Tender Mercies" 50 times.  I saw "Play it Again, Sam" 16 times in the movie theater as a kid.  So Pauline Kael and I are very different movie fans.  She praises "Magnolia," which I really think is pure garbage. Kael loved Robert Altman and to me he's been nothing but a huge disappointment for the past 30 years.  I actually had hope for Altman for a few years after "M*A*S*H," and was right there with him for "McCabe and Mrs. Miller" and "Brewster McCloud" and "The Long Goodbye but then he spun off in a horrible direction with all of his characters talking at the same time, but no longer saying anything, and became completely uninteresting.  Anyway, had Ms. Kael continued with it, and not retired or died, I have no doubt she'd be ten times as harsh as me.

Josh

Name:              David R.
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

Benoît Jacquot's "A Single Girl" (1995) was an interesting french film. Did you see it?

Dear David:

I haven't seen it, but it sounds good.  Is it?  If so, why?

Josh

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

Hi Josh

My day job sees me working as a radio copywriter, so I have to work very closely with my colleagues in sales... so YES, other people DO seem nuts!!! ("What's my commission? What's my new car? See the latest reality TV show/soap last night?" etc...)

I think you're right: the ultimate sin a film can commit is being boring - so bring on the mayhem!

(For some reason I want to watch Glengarry Glen Ross again. Then maybe Dustin Hoffman in Death Of A Salesman).

Lata


Lee

Dear Lee:

"Glengarry Glen Ross" is a helluva good movie, although somewhat grueling. Still, all stories don't have to give you a snow-cone at the end.  Wonderful cinematography by the great DP, Juan Ruiz Anchia.  I wasn't impressed by Dustin Hoffman's "Death of a Salesman."  He's much too young for the role, and not pulling off playing older.  I saw the early 1960s TV production, which was the Broadway revival at the time taped, with Lee J. Cobb and a very young Gene Wilder as the kid next door, and it was great.  That really was Cobb's part.  I'd love to see the 1950s film version with Fredric March, but it's never been on TV that I know about.

Josh

Name:              Monsieur LeBaguette
E-mail:             frenchy@ouioui.com

Dear Josh:         

No good french Movies in over 40 years?  A couple of suggestions:

* Agnes Varda's "Vagabond" (80s)
* Kieslowski's "Three Colors" trilogy (director Polish, but made in France in French language in 90s)
* Luc Besson's "Nikita" (90s)

Dear M:

Saw them all, not a great film in the bunch.  Not even close.  Sandrine Bonnaire was good, but "Vagabond" was an extreme bore; the "Three Colors" were all truly dull and miserable (with nice photography, and pretty lead actresses); "La Femme Nikita" is fine pop nonsense, but when the best thing in a film is seeing the lead actress in her underwear, it's really nothing special.  Sorry, not impressed.

Josh

Name:              Jonathan
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

I think whoever sent you the movie has a lot of nerve to face up to you, but I admire the guy's confidence. But personally, even if I made a film that was unanimously hailed as a masterpiece, and gorgeously photographed in 2.35:1 by Vittorio Storaro (AND with a title sequence by Saul Bass from beyond the grave), there's no way in hell I would send it to you. I would wait for you to catch it on cable and bail out.

In all seriousness, out of all of the people I know (or know of) who are passionate about film, you are by and far the toughest nut to crack. I don't know anybody who says the last great film was 14 years ago. We all like you and your work and that's why we frequent this forum, but you are seriously beyond Kael-esque in your hard criticism.

Dear Jonathan:

Did you read Pauline Kal's last book, "Afterglow"?  It came out in 2001, ten years after she'd stopped reviewing movies, which most people assumed was because she had Parkinson's Disease, but it wasn't.  She'd had Parkinson's for ten years previous to that.  She stopped reviewing because movies had become so outrageously awful, and she didn't feel like writing nothing but bad reviews.  What really got her down (and me, too) is that the filmmakers she had previously championed, like Scorsese, Altman and DePalma had also become so horrible, it was all too depressing to her, and she died soon thereafter.  She's the only other person I've ever heard or read that disliked Spielberg's movies more than me.  It's definitely worth reading. Meanwhile, you might consider me harsh, but I'm not.  I have standards that aren't even all that high, but contemporary movies don't come within a mile of them, and I won't lower my standards for today's tastes, which are pathetic.

Josh

Name:              Beth Hicks
E-mail:             lilacstreetcollectibles@yahoo.com

Dear Josh:         

What is your response to the "L-Word"'s use of you as a character in its most recent season? How did that come about?

Dear Beth:

I have no idea, and if indeed I did inspire it, I take it as an honor.

Josh

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

Josh,

The Pugh Hispanic Center released a report earlier this year that said that 80% of Mexican citizens in Mexico would move to the Untied States if they could do so legally.  That's eighty percent.

You've been (justifiably) bemoaning the state of European movies.  Grenada Media has turned out a lot of good stuff in the last fifteen years, though at least a good deal of it was for television.  The "Jeeves and Wooster" > series with Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie was well done also, though I don't know who produced it.

My attention was held by "Nowhere In Africa".  I've caught it twice on Sundance.  I think the director did a good job with culture and prejudice. The film also conveyed rural isolation well.

I'm planning on reading your book, but I've got a stack of other books to get through first.  Still, I'm looking forward to it.

John

Dear John:

"Nowhere in Africa" was okay, although very little of it has stuck with me. I'm not bemoaning European movies anymore than I'm bemoaning American movies, they all suck.  The state of the movies worldwide is like the old Pollack joke about why don't Pollacks have ice cubes?  They lost the recipe. Same with good movies, we humans lost the recipe.  One fellow who has frequented this site for a long time just made a feature film, and to my great consternation sent it to me.  When I said, "You haven't got a story," the response was, "I didn't have time to finish the script."  Really?  Why, was the big Christmas release when it opened in 2,500 theaters coming at him to fast?  When I said, "It's all mushy, uninspired, hand-held camerawork," the reply was, "I couldn't afford a tripod."  On my very first super-8 movie when I was 12 years old I had a tripod.  It's that lazy attitude that has brought the art of filmmaking down to its present incredibly low level.

Josh

Name:              Irma McHugh
E-mail:             irmamch@hotmail.com

Dear Josh,

What are your opinions on the 1973 film "Man of La Mancha" starring Peter O'Toole?

Irma

Dear Irma:

Disaster.

Josh

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

Hey Josh

Do you think that if the majority og film characters were put on the analyst's couch we'd find they have a mental illness?

You've got your obvious films like Bablands and One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest... but think about it. At the least the behaviour of many protagonists is obsessive.

I was just thinking, "Wouldn't it be cool to make a film where the lead characters are mentally ill, but it's not foreshadowed or signposted." But then I thought, most protagonists are at least out of the norm'.

The old adage is 'drama is conflict' so maybe as an audience we like to see people showing 'grace under pressure', people with either temporary or permanent imbalances in the mind.

Just a thought.

Lata


Lee

Dear Lee:

Don't most people seem just a little nuts once you get to know them, or even if you just listen to them for a few minutes?  Normal, for the most part, is boring.

Josh

Name:              Kevin D. Mudd
E-mail:             ernstyanning@hotmail.com

<<If you were really patriotic, you'd tell the government where to shove it>>

I wonder how many soldiers DID tell the government to shove it? Are they sent to jail? Dishonorably Discharged? I wonder what kind of movie that would make? They have films about POWS, why not soldiers who refuse to fight?

I read something earlier about how you feel the U.S. needing illegal immigrants for below minimum wage jobs is a bunch of bull. How do you feel about the 500,000 people protesting the law of making illegal immigration a felony and putting up walls along the border?

P.S. I laughed my ass off during CRASH. That film was so awful, its hilarious.

Dear Kevin:

Here's what I think:  I say, build the fence all the way along the Mexican border, from San Diego to Brownsville, Texas, and close that border off completely.  Then have a general amnesty for every illegal alien in the country, saying they're all now U.S. citizens, nobody's a felon, everybody's on equal footing.  But any other Mexicans who would like to immigrate have to go through the same shit everybody has to go through trying to immigrate anywhere else, with visas and work permits and the rest of the junk.  Then the U.S. must change the minimum wage laws to accomodate the agricultural industry, and say when it comes to picking crops the minimum wage is $3.00 an hour, or whatever.  But letting people come over that border at will is stupid.

Josh

Name:              Nathan Poljak
E-mail:             ddrbanchee@msn.com

Hello Mr. Becker.  I am currently reading your book and I must say that it is very enjoyable as well as informative.  I have not yet watched any of your movies but I hope to change that soon enough. You mention in your book that you seem to be always finding yourself in debt during and/or after making a film.  Is there a profit that the director reaps after the release?  How is this determinded with all of the loans and rentals etc. that must be paid back?  In other words, how can truly make a living off of feature film making?

Dear Nathan:

It depends on what deal you've made, and every deal is different.  But I've never made a living off my independent feature films, although, as I explain in the book, if you own the negative, and live long enough, and you made a film that has any life in it, you can keep making new deals every time the old deal expires.  Over 20 years I've made four different video/DVD deals on TSNKE.  I suppose if I just confined myself to working for other people and making TV shows or TV movies I'd make a decent living, I did during my halcyon years on Herc and Xena, but that doesn't interest me all that much. I really just want to make my my own movies, and if I have to supplement that with writing books (I'm finishing my third one now, the second will hopefully be out in early fall), and making the occasional TV movie, then that's what I'll do.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:         

Wow i just saw TSNKE and from all that i've heard so far, yes i would say that it is Joe's best work. That movie was amazing for its budget BTW. I loved how you used stock footage for the title sequence. It's my favourite Becker title sequence next to "If i had a hammer".

Two questions:

1. What is your favourite movie out of the ones that you have made? My guess would be running time...right? My favourites would be lunatics and running time even though I think they're all cool.

2. What does the Lunatics theatrical poster look like? I would have thought it would be just like the cover art that it has now but you mentioned in an essay of yours that it got re-released in 95' with new art and Lunatics was released in a few theatres back around 91' right? This also makes me wonder what the origional box art was.


Thanks in advance.

Dear Chris:

The original video box artwork for "Lunatics" is on the main page and I had nothing to do with it.  The original poster is really cool, with silver balls on a plane, some close, some far, and a big eyeball, and it only says "Lunatics" not "A Love Story," which I hadn't yet convinced everyone to use. I had nothing to do with that one, either.  The video box artwork I was referring to, when I saw the film on the shelf in Gore, New Zealand, was the best of all, it was a good painting of Hank leaning back against his front door with arms reaching in through the door all around him.  I had nothing to do with that, either, but I sure wish I had a copy of it.  Regarding question #1, my favorite movie of my own is "If I Had a Hammer," which I think is my most original film, and actually has something to say.

Josh

Name:              Bob
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

I know you are asked this type of question often, but do you think you will write any more movie reviews?

Dear Bob:

I've got to be moved to write a review, and I just haven't been lately. I've also been very busy writing other things.  When I write all day long, once I'm done I don't want to write anything else.  So I kind of basically only write reviews and essays when I'm between projects.

Josh

Name:              Jonathan
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

Saying there hasn't been a legit good film to come out of France in 40 years strikes me as a fervently hasty assertion, to say the very least (what was the last one? "Breathless?"), and I'm sure you've gotten into some fights over your opinion. But then again, you only have like five on your favorites list so I'm not surprised. But don't forget that "Boyfriends and Girlfriends" was twenty years ago.

Dear Jonathan:

No, I don't think so.  I think you've come up with a good example, too, with "Boyfriends and Girlfriends," which was okay, as are most of Eric Rohmer's films.  A bunch of good-looking people just yak and yak and yak about relationships, walking here, walking there, sitting in a cafe, sitting in a bar, etc.  It's not that the dialog is  bad, or that the actors aren't good, it's that it just sits there like a ton of lead.  I was expecting someone to throw "Amelie" at me, which was nowhere near great, or even very good, for that matter.

Josh

Name:              Casey
E-mail:             rockNrollr99@aol.com

Dear Josh:         

i was wondering how you can write so many horrorific stories. i think its way rad and i want to learn. i write many songs and stories, but now i want to write some plays and screenplays. could you give me some clues and tips that have helped you?
Thank you,
XXX

Dear Casey:

Read books, watch movies and write, write, write.  That's how.  If you do it long enough, you'll get better at it.

Josh

Name:              David Paulson
E-mail:

Josh, I saw recently a film I really liked called "The Rains Came". It was directed by Clarence Brown, whom I was not familiar with, and stars Tyronne Power, Myrna Loy, and George Brent. Although Myrna Loy has never really interested me (she got repeitive and tiresome in the Thin Man movies, I thought), the rest of the cast was excellent. There were two shots by the director that really stood out: early when Ransome and Lady Esketh are alone in the palace, the lights go out, and Ransome lights her cigarette for her. Its just a neat shot, nothing really profound though. The other, towards the end of the picture, when Lady Esketh realizes she has just drank from a glass of one of the dying patients... brillantly done! Of course the shots of the rains are great too, with the streets flooding and people rowing about.

I did not see the film on your favorites list, so did you not like it, or have you not seen it?

Dear David:

Good effects, but it's very silly movie.  Tyronne Power as an Indian?  And I love Myrna Loy.  The "Thin Man" movies themselves became tiresome, not Myrna Loy. And she couldn't be better than she was in "The Best Years of Our Lives." Clarence Brown, meanwhile, was one of the very top directors in Hollywood for at least twenty years.  He directed most of Greta Garbo's films, as well as the classics, "The Yearling, "The Human Comedy," and "National Velvet." "The Rains Came" is one of his lesser films.  The film was remade in 1955 as "The Rains of Ranchipur" with Lana Turner and Richard Burton as the Indian doctor.  It wasn't all that good, either.

Josh

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

Dear Josh,

Sorry I haven't been on in awhile, but my time hasn't been my own lately (Uncle Sam booked me on another Third World tour, this time Afghanistan). Just thought I'd stop in and see what the latest movie buzz is.   I just saw the French film, HIGH TENSION.  It's rather your standard slasher film, with the popular "twist" ending, although the new wrinkle of a frustrated lesbian character is interesting.  Although it had its moments, in my opinion it proves that the Europeans can make bad movies, too.  Indeed, they seemed to borrow alot from THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE.
Have you seen it, and if so, what'd you think?

                           Darryl

Dear Darryl:

Nope, I haven't seen it.  Europeans have been making bad movies since cinema began.  I don't think they've made a legitimately good film in France in over 40 years.  Most Europeans countries don't even have a film industry anymore.  So, you're going to keep fighting for the Imperialist Capitalist aggressors, eh?  Two utterly wasted tours in the giant mistake of a war in Iraq wasn't enough?  You want to be a bigger part of bringing to world to the apocalypse, huh?  Because that's what George Bush is after, and he won't even deny it.  Our meddling in the middle-east has made the whole world a much worse place.  Iraq is 100% worse off since we foolishly and needlessly attacked them, just like the Japanese attacked us during WWII.  If you were really patriotic, Darryl, you'd tell the U.S. goverment to shove it up their ass.  However, if you do go, I wish you all the luck in the world because you'll need it.

Josh

Name:              Mickey Nicky
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

BIG fan of the movie 'Blue Collar' by Paul Schrader. One of the precious few times his directing abilities were on par with his writing abilities. Anyway, I hear he was posed with quite the conundrum while filming that movie, and I'd be curious to hear how a director might handle this problem:

Seems Richard Pryor was a one-take kind of guy. He came from stand-up, of course, so his art was spontaneous. As soon as the camera was rolling he was doing his best work. Harvey Keitel, on the other hand, was more of a method actor. He had to feel "right" and "comfortable" before he could give anything more than a lukewarm line reading. He had to get into it. He was at his best around take 7 or 8, at which time Richard Pryor felt spent and started doing line readings. Additionally Pryor was very much into improv, adding lines from time to time when he felt it was appropriate. Keitel, however, wouldn't respond to these new riffs. Reportedly they hated each other and often broke into fist fights between takes. How would you deal with these two? Obviously you're not a babysitter, but how would you juggle their styles to get what's best for the picture?

Thanks.

Any thoughts on Schrader? You ever see Hardcore or Rolling Thunder?

Mickey:

Have I ever seen "Hardcore" or "Rolling Thunder"?  Uh, yeah.  I saw "Rolling Thunder" twice in the one week it showed in the movie theater.  And I saw "Hardcore" the week it opened.  I happen to have just watched "Blue Collar," again, too.  If you have actors that need some warm-up time, you do it in rehearsal, and if you have an actor who doesn't like to warm-up, you use an stand-in or an AD to fill in for them until you shoot.  This is a standard part of filmmaking.  All actors work in different ways.  Meanwhile, I like "Blue Collar," even though it start losing steam at the beginning of Act III, and kind of fizzles its way down to the end.  But it's about something, it has a terrific cast, and cool score by the late Jack Neitzche.  I like "Rolling" thunder" quite a bit, too.  "Hardcore" drops dead pretty early into the film and never recovers.  That George C. Scott doesn't kill all the porn producers with a .44 Magnum is a big cop-out.

Josh

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

Good Morning Josh,

I caught this really cheesey western yesterday called "My Name Is Nobody".Henry Fonda and Terrence Hill.

Cheesey though it was it had some awesome cinematography in it. One shot in particular was at the beginning of the movie when Henry Fonda has a gun on the bad guy giving him a shave. Fonda gets up and walks to a mirror and bad guy #2 fires a shot from outside and Fonda turns around and drops all 3 of the bad guys. Done in slow motion and in the mirror. I thought it was cool anyway. I thought the encounter with "The Wild Bunch" was cool too at the end of the movie.

Question for you about camera equipment.

Suppose you had an Arri S that you wanted to have serviced but the place with the best reputation on the East Coast, in Miami, is not accepting repair work and other searches have turned up nothing.

I can go outside the East Coast I guess. Do you have any recommendations for a qualified Arri service tech?

I did some homework on it and got a D- so I thought you might be the best to ask for something like this.

If not, no problem but I Thank You for your time either way.

Tim

Dear Tim:

Try either of these guys, bothwork at Ariiflex:


            Schwinzer, Juergen
            Vice Pres. Camera Division
            Blauvelt Office
            Phone: +1 845-353-1400
            Fax: +1 845-425-1250
            e-mail: JSchwinzer@arri.com


            Russell, Bill
            Vice President
            Burbank Office
            Phone: +1 818-841-7070
            Fax: +1 818-848-4028
            e-mail: BRussell@arri.com


Josh

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

Hi Josh

I didn't know there WAS a film version of The Red Pony. I'm definitely going to check that out. I really enjoyed that book; the theme of loss and the lesson that one has to be tenacious and persistent in life. He captures the time of adolescence beautifully.

And the sense of tragedy in Of Mice and Men. Each time I dip in I want the characters to work it out and achieve their dream. That sense of tragedy is so palpable. I think this is heightened cos the three of them are so DAMN close to achieving their goal. It's like Quint's speech in Jaws; he was scared the most just before they pulled him out of the water.

I liked the Sinise/Malkovish version of Of Mice and Men. I thought the opening was a great example of how a film can 'open up' a play/novel. But then I haven't seen the Meredith version! So I'll check that out. Thanks for the heads up on both.

Lata

Lee

Dear Lee:

John Malkovich can't be Lenny, he's not big enough.  They padded him up a bit, but it just made him look puffy.  Lenny must be a big guy, and Lon Chaney, Jr. was a big guy, and he plays simple-minded very believably without having to do a whole "performance" as Mr. Malkovich does.  Malkovich made him retarded, and I don't think that's what Steinbeck was saying.  Gary Sinise was good, in his own sinister kind of way.  Meanwhile, "The Red Pony" has a really young Robert Mitchum as the ranch hand, and he's great.  Mary Astor as the mother is wonderful, too.  But the phony sets, and fake owls, oh my, my, my.

Josh

Name:              Serpico's Dirty Shorts
E-mail:             coppolas_cocaine@hotmail.com

Dear Josh:         

Speaking of Kaspar Hauser, have you seen Stroszeck yet? Its more of a dark comedy, and I like it a lot better than Woyzeck. I like the 70s german pimps outfits, the scene where they break into Bruno S. apartment make him lay on the piano and put bells on his ass while they search the house. that bit at the end with the dancing chicken and the circling truck.

Also, I've read up to page 80 of the Q&A, I was amused that whenever you bring up MIDNIGHT COWBOY you mention the scene where Brenda Vacarro has sex rolling over the tv remote... that was actually at the beginning of the film with Sylvia Miles' ugly Cass. Brenda Vacarro played scrabble when Jon Voight couldn't get it up, then starts using words to taunt him like Pay Lay Gay, oh is that it, Gay? Then you see Jon Voight with the scrabble pieces popping out of his back while they roll around and Vacarro takes the lead violently.

How fond are you of Sam Peckinpah's direction? I noticed you have THE WILD BUNCH and THE GETAWAY(hey Walter Hill wrote it) on your list.

Dear SDS:

Thanks for the correction on "Midnight Cowboy."  I haven't seen those Herzog films.  Those two Peckinpah films are the only two that I think really work, all the rest only have moments.  But those two films are really unlike anyone else's movies.  Nobody else has ever cut that way, or used slo-mo that way, and actually pulled it off.

Josh

Name:              Scott Ellis
E-mail:             primitivewhiskey@yahoo.com

Hello, Mr. Becker. 

My name is Scott Ellis and I just wanted to say that the story for "Centurion: Lost Eagle of Varus" is outstanding.  While I could throw my two cents in an mention that some dialogue needs tweaking, is there any chance you'll be producing this project in the near future?  If so, I await it with baited breath.  Thanx.

Scott Ellis

Dear Scott:

It's not even a completed treatment, let alone a script, let alone a movie. But I'm very pleased you liked it.  Personally, I think it's a good story.

Josh

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

Hi Josh,

On the subject of Joe LoDuca scores- After rewatching Thou Shalt Not Kill...Except, I agree it's criminal that Joe's score is unavailable on CD.  I particularly love the music when the marines are blowing the shit out of the shed.  It adds the right level of warped patriotism that makes the movie work.

How's your buddy Paul's movie coming along?  I have a friend who's been working a film for 9yrs plus, so 8 doesn't seem so terrible, heh.

Best,
Jason

Dear Jason:

After a point, not finishing just becomes ridiculous, I think.  I've always been of the mindset that you get things, then move on.  Perhaps having been caught on TSNKE for 6 or 7 years got me off ever wanting to stay with any project for any length of time.  I was on "Hammer" for 3 years, and that was way too long, and I won't do that again.  You make a film, you write a script, then you move on to the next one.

Josh

Name:              Peter Strauss
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

Why is the "Godfather Part II" great while part III is not? In looking at the release dates I see that Part I and Part II were made only two years apart, whereas Part II and Part III were made approximately 15 years apart. Was Part III just a whore sequel, or do you believe the intention was not all about money but to make a great film? What went wrong?

Dear Peter:

"Godfather III" is strictly a whore's film and nothing else.  Everything went wrong.  It's wrong in all possible ways.

Josh

Name:              Craig
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

Shouldn't "The Enigma of Kasper Hauser" be on your favorite films list? I thought you really liked that movie.

And yes, see "Grizzly Man," I think you'll like it.

To chime in a bit on Morricone, "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly" was also one of my first LPs. Wonderful score. I really love Morricone, pretty much everything I've heard (and "Fateless," which somebody mentioned, is quite a great, but very heavy dramatic score). Meanwhile, Herrmann is my favorite as well. Have you heard his "Night Digger" score? It features quite an astounding utilization of harmonica. Never saw the film, but would like to just to see how the music works.

It was a crappy film, but did you like Goldsmith's score for "Basic Instinct?" I thought it was interesting.

Dear Craig:

Yes, it should be on the list.  Maybe it's under "The Mystery of Kasper Hauser."  Then again, maybe it's just not there.  I have not heard the "Night Digger" score, and I can't remember Goldsmith's score for "Basic Instinct."

Josh

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

Hey Josh,

I just read an interview where you said that Sam Raimi has a bit part in Lunatics.....is this true? If so what does he play? I spotted a camp tamakwa T-shirt BTW.

I saw Running time and I thought it was awesome. The acting, the story, the way it was shot, the score...everything. Joe Loduca is the man. What is your favourite score that joe has done? TSNKE? So far mine is Running time or ED 2. I wish all of his scores were available on CD as a box set or something....that would be cool.

Dear Chris:

Yes, it would.  I must say I'm partial to all of Joe's work, but particularly the scores for my films.  His score for "Lunatics" is terrific, too.  I really liked his score for "Alien Apocalypse," too.  Sam is an extra in "Lunatics."  He's sitting in the hotel lobby.

Josh

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

Howdy Mr. Becker! I'm writing this time with more of a comment than a question. I just wanted to thank you for all the advice you've given others (that I've stolen) and all the advice you have in your essays about screenplay structure.

I wrote my first script, god, I guess two years ago now, and I didn't have a set structure to work with (except for some notes I took from Bruce Campbell's website), and that script, while I still like it, isn't that great. However, I've since used all you fancy know-how and started writing a script, with a solid outline that follows proper script structure, and it's going much easier. Granted, I've been thinking the script out in my head for awhile, but still, one serious writing session (roughly 12 hours) and I'm about 23 pages in ... 23 pages that I actually kinda like.

Anyway, there's still no saying the script will be good (it's a crime/action/thriller kinda thing, so that's always iffy), but anyway, it's easier, and for that, I thank you.

That could be the most long winded thank you note I've ever written.

Jeremy Milks

Dear Jeremy:

I didn't dream this shit up, I'm just passing it along.  But you're clearly getting it because as you embrace story structure it makes writing easier. When you suddenly know where you're going and why, then it all becomes a different thing.  Have fun.

Josh

Name:              Brandon
E-mail:             goldmind_2020@yahoo.com

Dear Josh:         

Have you had much experience with pitching? If so, what advice might you have? What kind of attitude do you think one should have upon entering the room?

Dear Brandon:

Always make sure to warm your arm up before the game.  Ben-gay and a 20-pound dumbell will do the trick.  But enough levity.  I've pitched at every studio in Hollywood, and never got anything going, so I may well not be the best guy to ask.  Nevertheless, I thought I was getting pretty good at it about the time I quit.  My advice is: short and animated.  The more concise and the more dramatic the telling the better.  It's a performance. Good luck.

Josh

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

Hey Josh

That made me laugh. Great training if you're gonna do a 'Falling Down'! There's no doubt playing Halo or such games can make you twitch like a freak. And I do think video games can be truly addictive; and children do have a hard time knowing when to stop. That comes down to good parenting. There is a dark side to these games re: them becoming all consuming for children.

As an adult, I like to dip in and I enjoy it.

Anyhow, I think that one's done to death, now.

I'm coming to the end of the special effects short I'm shooting digitally. Brother is it hard work. Here I am creating the backgrounds, the foregrouds, the characters, and then they all have to be composited together. After this I'm doing a talking head piece!!!!!

Right. I'm off to re-read Steinbeck's The Red Pony (rather than shoot up a fast food joint).

Lata


Lee

Dear Lee:

I liked "The Red Pony," although Lewis Milestone's film version isn't very good, even with a terrific cast and one of the great music scores of all-time, by the brilliant Aaron Copeland.  Milestone and Copeland had both previously worked on Steinbeck's "Of Mice and Men" together ten years before, and that film's great.  I don't think anyone will ever beat Burgess Meredith and Lon Chaney, Jr. in those parts, certainly not John Malkovich and Gary Sinise.

Josh

Name:              Jonathan
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

Morricone is one of the masters, I think, and that extends far beyond his westerns. I didn't think you liked "The Thing" score...while I think it's pretty good, it doesn't stand out as much to me. How about "The Mission," "Malena," "Fateless," or some of his interesting horror scores...I guess his more dramatic scoring isn't for all tastes, he's been accused many times of overscoring, though I don't buy it. I'd say that 9/10 of his output is for Italian films few have seen.

Dear Jonathan:

He's scored hundreds and hundreds of movies.  But once you said I couldn't choose his westerns I was screwed.  One of the very first records I ever had was the score to "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly."  Ennio Morricone is Joe LoDuca's favorite (the guy who scores all of my movies).  I'm more of  Bernard Herrmann kind of a guy, who could also be accused of over-scoring.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:         

There was a whole discussion about video games vs. movies on Roger Ebert's site a couple months ago. Roger pissed off a bunch of gamers by saying that games are not art and inherently never will be. I totally agree with him, and I played video games off and on for at least 10 yrs. They're mindless entertainment. Sometimes exceedingly well-crafted, but that's as far as they go. Its kind of sad to me that games have become so interwined with filmmaking. There have been articles about how technology will essentially eliminate the non-interactive cinema that we have today, that tomorrow's movies will be the next step of today's video games. Truly an ugly thought.

But to change topics here - Have you seen Grizzly Man? I'm hoping to rent it this weekend. But I'm curious as to your thoughts on whether it would have been exploitative for Herzog to include the audio of Treadwell's last minutes in the film? Apparently there is a scene where we can see Herzog sitting and listening to the audiotape, but it is never played for the audience. It's an interesting decision that many filmmakers would not have made. But I wonder if that selfishness pisses off a lot of the audience. If Herzog can hear it, why can't we?

Dear Jim:

Good question.  I haven't seen it yet, but I will.  It sounds very interesting, and I like Herzog.  As an aside, I think Werner Herzog is the best of the '70s German New Wave, which included Fassbinder, Wenders, and Schlondorff, among others.  Anyway, I liked Herzog's other documentary, "My Best Fiend." As to the question of "exploitation," if you have extraordinary footage or sound, why not use it?  For instance, if you were making a documentary about your grandmother and while you were interviewing her she died on camera, would you use it?  As a documentarian you've just been given a present, is it your place to reject it?

Josh

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

Dear Josh,

I just finished reading a book called "The Schreiber Theory" (at least I thin that's how it's spelled). Have you heard of or read it? It's actually a thesis concerning film critiques. It says that most critics are auteurists (once again, probably spelled incorrectly). Auteurists being those who search for connections between the various films of one director. The shrieber theory searches for similarities between different authors.

It actually implies that auteurism has dulled out films and is actually a factor in the decline of American film.

It also complains that because of global marketing, Americans make films FOR other countries. French people direct films for the French, Germans for the Germans, etc. There is no longer anything that sets American films apart from those of other countries.

To say the least the book was confusing (It uses werds that us publik skool kids don't understand)

Thoughts? (But I highly reccommend it)


-Rob

Dear Rob:

I would agree that the general acceptance of the auteur theory is a small part of the decline of motion pictures, but not the main reason. Absolutely, the main reason is that people are just stupider now and haven't got the brains to do a better job.  And they're clearly much lazier now, too.  What I blame on the auteur theory is that when a script is written in Hollywood, and the writers go through all the paces and rewrites needed to move it through the studio labyrinth, should it finally get the green-light and a director is hired, the director then gets to totally rewrite the script themselves, whether they're any kind of writer or not, or with their own writers, or with the original writers, but rarely the last.  And this can easily be some jerk-off who's only directed a few music videos or something.

Josh

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

Hey Josh

In the majority of cases a video game made out of a film is just a cash-in.

But there are exceptions; regardless of what one thinks of the film, the King Kong video game on Xbox/360 is a great gaming experience.

Games based on movies enables the fan to act out the narratives that surprised them onscreen. Video games are the technological equivalent of playing with toys!

And I think no matter how old you are you shouold leave some room for play.

And then there are truly original games like Halo and Halo 2. These two games fabulously recreate real world physics and locate them in distant worlds. No two plays are the same; the games basically set up a battlefield, with the enemy in posession of great AI and you shoot it out. It's a very visceral and exciting experience for me, when I dip in.

I agree with what you said before: film watching is a passive activity, where the viewer is lead by the writer-director. And video games, by their very 'interactive' nature, can never replace this.

But, games today can provide a great form of entertainment in their own right. They're not going to make you a better person, or make you think, like a book or film can, but they can create an immersive 3D experience that's very visceral.

I'm a film-maker, but take time out to enjoy the cream of video games like Halo for what they are. I don't want them to challenge me or make me a better person. Sometimes you need to chill out to let your subconscious do some work.

All right. Video games aren't gonna change the world but I thought they were getting a bit of a bashing.

Lata


Lee

Dear Lee:

My girlfriend's kid plays Halo 1 & 2, and I'd like to smash them both to pieces.  It's great training if you're going to go out and kill things with an automatic weapon, like say, everybody in a McDonald's, for instance.  I won't allow that shit to be played when I'm around.  It's mental detritus.

Josh

Name:              Fred
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

What are some of your favorite non-western Ennio Morricone scores? He's such a brilliant composer.

Dear Fred:

I just tried watching one of Morricone's many westerns, "The Guns of San Sebastian," with my buddy Anthony Quinn, but it was awful and I had to turn it off.   Just look through his credits and although he scored many films I've seen, none of them really stand out to me, except "The Thing."

Josh

Name:              Net Dicks
E-mail:

Hiya Josh. I just started up NetFlix because as long as I've been hearing about it, I've been hearing all good things. As I recall you dug it for a while, till you saw everything on your Q and switched over to TiVo, right? Anyway my question is about this so called "throttling" that supposedly exists, wherein NetFlix, in an attempt to insure that profits are made off of every paying customer, systematically delays, screws up, and discriminates against frequent customers--the kinds of movie buffs who want to watch a movie a night, so they can return a movie every day, and thus make the most out of their "Unlimited" movie deal. Theoretically, someone who gets 3 movies at once should be able to squeeze 25+ movies a month out of that offer, right? In truth (or so I now hear) they cap it off at 13. Did you ever experience any "throttling"?

Dear Net:

I had no issues with Netflix, other than I watched everything they had that looked interesting, and all that remained for me was new films that didn't interest me.  I'm happier, however, with TiVo combined with every cable channel, so now I generally have about 25 movies and shows I actually want to see.

Josh

Name:              Craig
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

I saw on TV that they are releasing a big elaborate "Godfather" video game, and it's kind of disgusting. I can't help but feel they're somewhat degrading "Godfather" by doing this, and it's disheartening. I deeply love those films (I and II). Have you heard about this, what do you think?

I could give a shit about video games, but...I don't know, this just doesn't feel right.

Dear Craig:

I saw the commercial, that was enough for me.  Since I couldn't give the slightest shit about video games, I don't care where they get them from.  I was able to live through the horror of "Godfather III," I guess I can live through this, too.  It's just one more example of how artistically bankrupt our society is now.  This generation can't stop picking the bones of the last one.  When I was a teenager there was no nostalgia.  There were no oldies stations and there were very few remakes or sequels, except "Godfather II," which was every bit as good as the original.  Nobody was looking backward for their ideas.  I'm not a fan of games anyway.  I think games are just time-killers.  And since life is so ridiculously short, I think that anyone who feels they need to kill time is a fool.

Josh

Name:              Jamie
E-mail:             seeger.j@pace.edu

Dear Josh:         

What's your next project? Is another SciFi Channel project  a possibility?

How are your cats doing?

Dear Jamie:

I don't know what my next film will be.  I'm trying to do a thing with Sci Fi, but that doesn't mean it'll happen.  I've got scripts out to a few different places.  I'm nearly done writing a novel.  I kind of hate discussing any works-in-progress until they're real.

Josh

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

Hey Josh,

I read your book and loved it. It was very entertaining and answered many questions I had about filmaking in general.

One question. You mention somewhere that one of the early drafts of Lunatics would have been rated NC-17...why would that be?

Dear Chris:

'Cause it was dirtier.  Nancy was a phone-sex operator in the first few drafts, and they didn't meet through a wrong number, they met because Hank had called a phone-sex line.  To me anyway, the moment she stopped being a phone-sex operator is when the story stopped making sense.

Josh

Name:              Peter Strauss
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

I've been on a bit of a Cary Grant kick of late, and just got done watching George Cukor's "Holiday", which I enjoyed. Have you seen it? I know you love a young Katherine Hepburn to look upon, and she is strikingly beautiful in this one. All the performances in the movie were very good, and I especially liked the young Lew Ayres as Linda and Julia's alcoholic brother Ned Seton. He cracked me up. Also, was Cary Grant a gymnaist at one time? He most have done three pretty difficult cartwheel things in there. Pretty cool.

Dear Peter:

Yes, I've seen "Holiday" many times.  It's a great, wonderful film.  Cary Grant did start off as an acrobat and a juggler.  And Katherine Hepburn is just luminescent.

Josh

Name:              David Lean's Bukkake Special
E-mail:             coppolas_cocaine@yahoo.com

<<I Haven't Seen Them But The One Thing I Do Know About Johnny Cash Is He Didn't Have A Harelip>>

...And the one thing I know about Buddy Holly is he didn't have a band named The Crickets. Robert Stroud was actually sick and demented despite being intelligent (well, that's what imdb says anyway). Bonnie and Clyde did not know a man named C.W. Moss. T.E. Lawrence was not that pretty ("that poor devil is riding the whirlwind..." "lets hope we're not"). Tommy from Goodfellas was not short like Joe Pesci. I'm probably not going to see WALK THE LINE anyways.

Dear DLBS:

All it would take is a little tiny prosthetic, for goodness sake.  Look at what John Hurt had to go through everyday in "The Elephant Man" or Christopher Plummer as a Klingon in "Star Trek," or Henry Fonda in "Young Abe Lincoln," or Charlize Theron in "Monster," literally hours and hours of makeup.  But you know and I both know that Johnny Cash didn't have a harelip, yet they wouldn't put Jaoquin Phoenix through fifteen minutes of makeup.  What's that about?

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

Hey I just got back no less than 3 days ago on a cruise to the bahamas. Which was fun. But I spent alot of my time reading, getting drunk, and babysitting. Anyway I just wanted to say that of all the second run movies they showed only 3 stuck out. "Walk The Line"---which I pretty much only saw till the middle and never the ending. "Flightplan"--- which was retarded and felt like it almost made me stupid after watching. And "Just Like Heaven"--- which also was stupid but made me laugh at times so I couldn't hate it. Which brings me to my question of all these flicks have u seen any of them. I'm sure you'll try them all when they get to HBO status. And you'll get to the 10 minute marker and you'll say "Ehhh these suck" and walk away. Though from what I saw Walk The Line was the best.

By the way I bought "Man with the screaming brain" and "Alien Apacolypse" today. I hope to see all the extras soon. I'm sure I'll have more questions after.

Your Fan,
Jonathan

Dear Jonathan:

Nope, I haven't seen them.  The one thing I do know about Johnny Cash,
though, is that he didn't have a harelip.

Josh

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

Hey Josh,

Just a quickie here. When one raises his or her own independant funds for a film, they theoretically purchase a ton of equipment (cameras, film, etc.). My question is, after the production is completed, do you typically keep all the eqipment for future projects, or sell it off to pay back investors?

Okay, two quickies. What's the deal with shooting brand names? As in, I'm doing a tracking shot down a street and a the camera catches a glimpse of a Ford sign on the back of a truck. Is this legal? Do I pay them or ask them for permission or something?

Thanks, once again. I just want to note that my most recent short is a black and white noir comedy and Running Time is quite inspiring to a fan of the genre.

-Rob

Dear Rob:

No, you don't buy all of the equipment; you either rent it or borrow it, if possible.  No, it doesn't matter about Ford signs or anything else that's really out there.  Ignore them, they mean nothing.

Josh

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

Dear Josh,

I watched "Marty" for the first time last night, and I just loved it. It truly is a beautiful film about doing what you will with life on your own terms. As well, I never realized how much I like Ernest Borgnine. There's a moment when he and Angie are in the Stardust Ballroom and Ang suggests they go ask the girls to dance. Ernest's Marty says, "This music seems a little too fast." He then steps aside, does an akward pivot and comes back saying, "I think it'll be all right." Or the mother telling her son to go to the Stardust Ballroom because it's packed full of tomatos. Just so many great moments. I think I only picked it up because I recall you posted, a while ago, about running into Ernest Borgnine and asking him "Marty, what do you want to do tonight?" to which he answered, "I dunno. Whatever you feel like doing." After watching the film I realized how cool of an exchange that was.

Dear Angel:

I'm very pleased you enjoyed it.  I always have.  That whole scene with his mother where she tells him to go to the Stardust Ballrom because "it's loaded with tomatoes," and he says, "I'll put on my blue suit, I'll go to the Stardust Ballroom, and you know what I'll get?  Heartache."  Or when he calls the girl he and Ang met at the RKO-Chester Theater, and it slowly pushes into a close-up as she rejects him, "How about next Saturday?  How about the Saturday after that?"  Great stuff.

Josh

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

Josh,

I'm in Crash about the 10 minute mark and I can already see why some people have had problems with it. I can't judge Haggis' movie since I haven't finished it, but the dialog is fake and the set-ups are too overtly proselytizing. You have two intelligent, well versed black men engaging in discourse about race and how they face stereotyping, then we learn they not only have guns, but rob the rich couple? What the fuck is that?

Dear Greene:

It's called a schtick.  It false characterization in regard to a gag.  And that's one of the better things in the film.  But it's all gags of one sort or another, none of it is real or believable or legitimately interesting, nor has it got anything to say.  Wait until you get to the end and it takes not one meaningless pop song to end the film, but two.  And the final pay-off is also a meaningless gag.  Other than a good cast, the film has nothing.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:         

At the risk of following my last question with a dull one, I'm seriously the only person who does that? Nobody else on here posts an interesting question, then a stinker of a question? Jesus. My self esteem just went down one more notch.

At least to pretend this is a real question, I'd better ask one. Do you watch any network TV? Like, any shows on NBC or ABC or CBS, etc. It's dull, but I thought it worth asking. But is it worth answering?

Jeremy Milks

P.S.- I was discussing you awhile back with another Becker fan, and I referred to you as "A big teddy bear that will swear at you." I thought it funny enough to tell you.

Dear Jeremy:

Look at that, two answered questions in a row.  No, I don't watch any network TV.  The only TV shows I watch regularly are Bill Maher and Jon Stewart.  Otherwise it's movies or boxing.  I simply make use of all the limited amount of words that I know, and expletives are expressive words.

Josh

Name:              Sonja Berger
E-mail:             Bionic.Luddite@gmail.com

Dear Josh:

If you film in public without a permit can you be punished after the fact, or only if they catch you in the act?

Dear Sonja:

Punished?  My whole youth and early adulthood were spent shooting in places without permits and being told to leave.  But nobody does anything afterward.  In my film TSNKE we shot at the Veteran's Hospital and a military base, both without permission, and now it's 22 years later and I have yet to be punished.

Josh

Name:              Einav
E-mail:             xenafin@hotmail.com

Dear Josh:         

hello... my friend and i just wathched the movie alien apocalypse and we couldn't stop laughing
the movie was great! you did a great job:) but i didnt understand why the aliens needed the woods??... can you please help me?

sincerely yours
Einav

Dear Einav:

I'm glad you and your friend liked it and laughed.  Wood is a luxury item to the aliens, like gold or diamonds, and they eat it, too.  It's all explained in the slave cellar by the old slave, Jeff.

Josh

Name:              Craig
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

Do you have the Varese Sarabande two disc release of Williams' "The Fury?" (with both the studio recording and the London recording) It sounds like you really like that score and it's quite a good listen.

I agree with you on the part with Douglas and Stevens. Douglas goes through so much to get his kid back, really that is the story even though there is a lot that takes place with Irving. Once his son has become so corrupted that he's committing crimes, it's obvious how the story will turn out, so it's not so much the son's demise but Douglas's fall from the roof that seems off. Certainly that opens things up for the confrontation with the Casavettes character, but dramatically Douglas should be around for the finale. But that's just my own take on it.

But that's a small complaint from me at least. I still really like the film, it's quite fun, and I like how it essentially goes from an action film to a horror film.

Meanwhile, your opinion of it reminds me of your opinion of "Ed Wood." Didn't like it the first time, but it's gotten a lot better with subsequent viewings. I think we all have a few films like that.

Dear Craig:

I have the vinyl album of "The Fury" that I haven't listened to in years because I don't have a turntable anymore.  I don't usually change my opinion over time, but sometimes I do.  I just watched "Abe Lincoln in Illinois" with Raymond Massey that I really didn't like when I first saw it, but now I appreciated it much more.  The scene of the Lincoln-Douglas debate was quite moving, and Massey, though giving a pretty broad performance, is really appropriately cast in the part.

Josh

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

Hey Becker, I got a question for ya. I was just wondering what makes you decide to answer certain emails and not others? Like, what's your selection process? I thought I knew it for awhile, but then I decided I didn't. Like, there are some emails I'll send, that I think are reply worthy, but they won't get a reply. Then there are others which I know are just me ramblin' shit and nonsense, and I don't expect a reply but low and behold I find one when I check back, lol.

That's my question. It's a doozy I'm sure.

Have a good day,
Jeremy Milks

Dear Jeremy:

The criteria isn't what you think is a good question, it's what I think is a good question.  Oddly, you always seem to immediately follow an interesting question with a dull one.  You're the only who does that, BTW.  I also reject long, rambling diatribes that pose as questions.  I frequently ignore the very short, "YOU SUCK"-variety of questions, which are really statements anyway.

Josh

Name:              Laquisha
E-mail:             laquishahughesaintyomama@gmail.com

Hey hun, I was reading your site, and I see you bitchin' up one side and down the other side and gettin' up in people's faces, and damn I love that. Anyway, my question is in regards to digital filmmaking. I know you hate it, and I hate it to, but I was just wonderin if you were hired for some tv show, like ir Mr. Raimi or Mr. Tapert produced another one, and they wanted to shoot in HD, would you still be willing to direct some episodes if they asked you to?

Laquisha Hughs

Dear Laquisha:

If I accept a gig on a show shot in HD then it's not up to me.  But after Xena I stopped working on TV shows.  If perchance I do another TV movie for Sci Fi, I'll push hard to shoot on film, and since they still prefer it, I'd probably win that battle.  I don't think Raimi and Tapert are going to go back into TV very soon, if ever.

Josh

Name:              Craig
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

What do you think of De Palma's "The Fury?" It's kind of campy and I suppose a little dated, but I think it's very solid, and a hell of a lot of fun. When it came out I was very impressed, and I saw it three times. I remember very fondly how people reacted the ending...it was so violent and intense, with the big explosion and crescendo in the score (that even had a theremin, I believe) that people were laughing in that 'wow' manner just because it was so terrifying and exhilerating. Of course, this also happened with the audiences I saw "Carrie" with.

Back to "Fury," The slow motion center piece is terrific, as are all of the actors. My favorite part about it is the John Williams score, for my money one of the greatest ever written for a film.

Dear Craig:

I agree.  It's a beautiful John Williams score, and unlike anything else he ever did.  When I first saw "The Fury" I didn't like it.  I thought it was a big let-down after "Carrie," and the ending seemed really absurd. Nevertheless, I came to like the film more the more I saw it.  It still has some awful things in it, like the final scene between Kirk Douglas and Andrew Stevens, where they both drop about fifteen feet and are immediately dead.  And that whole unnecessary, dumb scene with the older couple and Mother Knuckles.  It's also got kind of a lumpy pace, too.  But there are a bunch of terrific scenes, like Amy Irving's slo-mo escape, and the way she keeps seeing the scenes that previously occurred in the house, like when she turns on a light switch and suddenly the room is full of people.  I love the shot at the fair, when Stevens is really mad, the great Dick Smith veins on his forehead are throbbing, and as we track with him light bulbs are blowing out in the background.  And of course you couldn't beat John Cassavetes as a bad guy.

Josh

Name:              Jake
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

Jerry Goldsmith worked almost exclusively on crappy films for the last ten years of his life: "The Sum of All Fears," "Along Came a Spider," "Timeline" (which was rejected), "Hollow Man," "The Haunting" remake...good scores though, all of them.

Though in that midst did come "L.A. Confidential," a good film, with quite a nice Goldsmith score. "The Edge" may not be a very good movie, but that had a very fine score as well. Then again, most of his work is brilliant. Was there a recent Goldsmith score that stuck out at all for you?

And post more old reviews! Those are very entertaining.

Dear Jake:

The last Goldsmith score that I thought was really good was "L.A. Confidential."  We haven't mentioned one of Mr. Goldsmith's greatest scores, "Chinatown."  He was brilliant at setting the period and creating the atmosphere.

Josh

Name:              Franklin
E-mail:

Hey Josh, I know you're a filmmaker, and not a love doctor, but I guess I'm asking you because you seem like an experienced dude.

When it comes to chicks, what do you find to be the best way of getting them to date you (or more)?

Franklin

Dear Franklin:

I always found that the pity approach works pretty well.  Get the girl to feel sorry for you, like you're a genius who can't get a break.  Make her believe that if she just puts out you'll finally be able to write your million dollar script, or the great American novel.  And don't forget the old standbys, alcohol and pot.  I know that on college campuses now if a girl is drunk and says yes, that still means no.  But if you're not on a college campus, yes means yes, drunk or sober.  Good luck.

Josh

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

Hi Josh,

Interesting comment about Goldsmith's 13th Warrior score being superior to the movie.  I can't stand Vertigo, but I just picked up Herrmann's score on Itunes, which is magnificent.  Scores which outdo their movies might make for an interesting topic.

Regarding the Oscars, I'd take Plan 9 From Outer Space over Crash any day of the week.  Crash seems like it's set on another planet- the characters don't behave like any humans I know.

Your book is a good read, thanks for livening up a boring 4 hour plane flight!

Best,
Jason

Dear Jason:

My pleasure.  And I agree, I'm not a big fan of "Vertigo," but I love Bernard Herrmann's score.  It's got that great sense of height in it.  I think all of Bernard Herrmann's scores for the Harryhausen films are better than the movies themselves.  I just love Jerry Goldsmith's score for "McArthur," but the film blows.  I really like Elmer Bersntein's scores for "Walk on the Wild Side," but I can easily live without the film, although Jane Fonda is very young and cute at that time.  Nice title sequence by the great Saul Bass, too.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:         

Tarantino said John McTiernan was the best director working? And he waxes uneloquent about the genius of DePalma too. There' s just no perspective anymore. I teach freshman composition, and I find that my students are handicapped by a sense of history that doesn't even reach back to the Clinton years. I keep thinking, maybe I'M out of touch, but I know for certain that I was taught everything--and taught to learn everything--about the history of things in order to formulate intelligent opinions. And I'm only 27. I'm not that far removed from these kids at all. The times just get more and more frightening for me.

But movies, that's why we're all here. I always liked a certain subtext, at least the subtext I read, of "If I Had a Hammer:" no matter the time or the dominant medium of music or art, the vast majority of participants remain (a) willfully ignorant, (b) hypocritically manipulative, (c) so earnest that they burn themselves out, or (d) mere spectators. Thus, the more things change, the more they stay the same, a universal theme.  But that's just my reading. I could be way off the directorial intentions.

I saw Sullivan's Travels and Le Corbeau last weekend. ST was pretty painful but good; painful in the sense of watching a rich man realize neither his charity nor his spokespersonship are worth a shit. I'm not sure how I feel about it as a polemic for the superiority of entertainment for its own sake, to let us feel a little less miserable for a while, but hell, maybe Sturges had a point with that.

Le Corbeau was my first Clouzet movie. I kind of liked it, although I figured it out pretty quickly. Don't know if that's just because I'm a jaded moviewatcher or if it really was that obvious.

Saw Godard's Alphaville as well, but the less said about that, the better.

Dear Will:

I just wish that Preston Sturges had used a clip of something legitimately funny at the end, like a clip of Buston Keaton film, or a Three Stooges short, but the cartoon doesn't cut it.  Meanwhile, I'll take DePalma over McTiernan any day of the week.  At least Brian DePalma has made one really good movie, "Carrie."

Josh

Name:              Brian Whitmore
E-mail:             pigface30101@yahoo.com

Dear Josh:         

well, heres my statement, i dont even have enough money to order your guide, i wish i did but judges, cops, probation, house arrest and so on has really taken its tole on my wallet. All im asking is if anyone can send some info my way on how to get started making a no budget super 8 film, i just want it to be gory and believable, maybe about a satan possessed killer who is craving serial killer status who comes from a po-dunk town like me, Acworth, GA!!! im using a hand held 20x optical zoom / 800x digital zoom panasonic mini DV! i know this is sounding like a joke, but its all i have and im for real about this, Bruce Cambell is my hero and if he can get big starting from a super-8 film (the woods) then so can me and my group of talented friends. please im a horror fanatic whos life is going no where without my band and camera, so please send me some advice! IM BEGGING YOU!!

Dear Brian:

Okay, here's some advice -- go make your movie.  What are you waiting for, an engraved invitation?

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/story/9178374/gods_senator?rnd=1142140225190&has-player=true&version=6.0.12.1212

Have you read anything about this man? He sickens me. He wants to tear down everything this nation was built on and reinforces my stance against organized religion.

Oh well, on a lighter note. At least we know he's a fucking liar...not because he's a politician, but because we both know the God who "supports" him doesn't exist.

Hope you have a nice day, Josh

Dear Trey:

Seriously, who gives a shit about assholes like this guy?  Anyone who thinks god talks to them needs to be locked up.  When you have other entities in your head talking to you it's called Schizophrenia, and the next thing you know you're stabbing people to death in the shower.

Josh

Name:              Malena L
E-mail:             beltonandres3@aol.com

Dear Josh:         

Im writing a script Im getting close to the end and it hit me, who the hell can play these people I wrote about. I've been thinking about a couple of friend of mine but I dont have enough that I trust to take it as serious as I am. My question is how do you go about picking out people for the part you write? I love you're work and movies!Thanks for you time. M.N.D

Dear Malena:

Casting sessions.  If you get enough actors to come in and read for a part, one of them will be better than the others and you cast them.  Go through local theater groups.  Good luck.

Josh

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

Josh!!!

I just finished Running Time... Wow! Go you... I truely enjoyed it (I'm very into noir). It was amazing how amidst all the constant camera moving, every shot still seemed planned. Did you have to storboard every single movement of the camera for that film?

As for questions (and this is coming from someone who doesn't know the first thing about a three act screenplay), it seemed to me as if your act 1 ended with Bruce and his friend splitting up after the robbery. Then your act 2 would be Bruces conversation with the girl until his friend arrives? Is that how you saw it? I always thought act 2 was the longest act. That would also make act 3 last about two minutes.

As my one complaint which isn't really a complaint: I think it may have been a little too short. It ended rather abruptly ad I was far from bored. I think 20 minutes would have done it. Is there any reason you wrote it to be so short?

Okay. One more question (the movie sent my brain all over the place). How did you manage to get such amazing performances? I read somewhere that cuts were done in close ups of shadows and such, every ten minutes or so. That wuld still require the actors to really act straight through for ten minutes. That's pretty amazing.

And in closing, the tunnel scene is one of the greatest things I have ever seen. I'd put it up there with the last minute and a half of Clockwork Orange and and the monkey bars landing scene in The Birds. I'm not trying to kiss up, either (it's not my style). I honestly love that scene.

-Rob

Dear Rob:

I'm glad you did.  Act I ends when they go into the laundry to rob it -- that's a moment of no return -- and Act II ends when they run away.  I didn't know if the not cutting schtick wouldn't get wearisome after an hour, just as it did in "Rope," which is only 80 minutes, but feels like it's over 2 hours.  Meanwhile, I didn't storyboard the film, I did overhead diagrams that worked much better under the circumstances.

Josh

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

Hey Josh,

Now that I've seen both "Bridge on the river Kwai" and "Lawrence of Arabia" and enjoyed both, what other David Lean movies would you recommend?

Also, What do you think of the Coen Brothers work? I'm a big fan myself (Of pretty much everything except Ladykillers and Intolerable Cruelty) and was wondering if you thought any of their movies were ok.

Thanks.

Dear Chris:

"Fargo" is okay, but it's the only Coen Bros. film I care for.  All the rest can be flushed down the toilet, as far as I'm concerned.  As for David Lean, "Kwai" and "Lawrence" are his two best films by a mile, but coming next, a mile down the road, would be: "Dr. Zhivago," "Oliver Twist," "Great Expectations," "Brief Encounter," and "Hobson's Choice."

Josh

Name:              Blake
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

At least "The 13th Warrior" had one of the last Jerry Goldsmith scores, and it's a good one...though maybe that's all the more sad.

One question, do you have a list of old movies you want to see but haven't had the opportunity yet? I'd be interested in hearing about some of those.

Dear Blake:

No, I don't.  And the fact that one of Jerry Goldsmith's last good scores was wasted on "The 13th Warrior" is a shame.

Josh

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

Josh,

About "Red October", I remember when the two Soviet submarines disappeared off of the coast of the United States, officially a couple of weeks apart, as I recall, back in the early eighties.  I give a nod to fiction which presents a functional hypothesis for real, unsolved events; "Head Shot", for example.  Clancy took some heat from DOD, I believe, who wanted to know his sources.  He struck a nerve.

I think most Lithuanians are from Scotland, aren't they?  My mom was Lithuanian, though she had never been to Scotland that I know and had a Midwest accent.  I did like Baldwin in that role, however, and thought he was a better choice than Ford.  "October" was not an ensemble film, but I did think the "name" actors were used well.

John

Dear John:

I think we've exhausted the subject of "The Hunt for Red October."  When I interviewed Quentin Tarantino back in '91, he stated that "John McTiernan is the best director working," or some such horseshit, and I responded something like, "Are you fucking crazy?!"  I then recall Bruce and his wife Ida and I going to see "The 13th Warrior" in New Zealand.  The film is based on the book "The Eaters of the Dead" by Michael Crichton, which both Bruce and I liked a lot, and we all walked out of the film somewhere before halfway.  The film is breathtakingly awful.  That was the last John McTiernan film I saw, and probably the last I'll ever go see.

Josh

Name:              nathan lopez
E-mail:             digisummo@gmail.com

Dear Josh:         

Holy shit man. I just watched this interview with Eli Roth where he talkes about the problems he had with the Movie Studios and Union ripping him off and it discuraged me greatly, so I thought how did Raimi and crew get their stuff made and deal with this issue?

Dear Nathan:

"Evil Dead" was entirely non-union, as were films TSNKE and "If I Had a Hammer."  There were no movie studios involved in those films, either.  They were truly independent.

Josh

Name:              Bob
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

Speaking of The Hunt for Red October, I agree, it was a cool sub, but beyond that there wasn't much there.  The other thing I couldn't get from the film, that wasn't established well, was why would the Sean Connery character be so willing to defect to an unknown life in America, for no apparent reason.  It was sketchily established in the film, and from what I have been told more so in the novel, but it seems unlikely that an Russian Admiral, dedicating his life to that goal would have been doing it only as an avenue to become a common immigrant to America.  People are afraid to lose their jobs as cashiers. So I doubt that Admirals are likely to quit theirs.  Anyway, do you think Red October was generally a boring film?

Dear Bob:

No.  It's just run-of-the-mill.  Better submarine movies are "Run Silent, Run Deep" and "Destination Tokyo."  I just watched "Torpedo Run" with Glen Ford and Ernest Borgnine that I would say was better than "Red October."  Or "The Enemy Below."  Or "Das Boot."

Josh

Name:              pete chen
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

I rewatched "The Hunt for Red October" recently and was reminded what a solid, intelligent action film can be. The directing and story were top notch (although John McTiernan hasn't made any other good films, which I'm sure you'd agree). I really liked Alec Baldwin it it as well. What did you think of the film?

Dear pete:

It's a well-made picture, but it's dumb.  They set up this whole premise about the Russians having a completely silent submarine that can never be located with sonar, then the sonar operator immediately locates the sub using the dolphin wavelength.  So much for super-secret technology.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:         

Did they involve you in editing AA at all? You mentioned a directors cut. Do you think we'll ever see that on DVD? I watched it with commentary yesterday. That's awful that they cut out Bruce's "fag" comment when it aired - though it didn't subtract very much from his overall characterization. I'll watch running time tonight. Does that fall victim to censorship at  all?

I got into an argument with my film teacher yesterday over censorship in film. She was showing us Saw II (some film class, eh?) and she made a comment about the gore effects being artful. While I don't believe art should be censored (and of course, anyone can claim that their work is art), but I find the random missuse of blood in that film to be the result of an immature filmmaker who obviously considers the new MTV style horror to be amazing. Anyway, she tried to attack my knowledge of film by asking me if I'd ever "even" seen "The Steamship Potumkin" (she pronounced it "pot-umm-kin"). I made the mistake of correcting her with the films real title, and she lowered my behavor grade... I can't wait to move somewhere where people know what they're talking about, because this sure isn't it. Thanks again, Josh.

-Rob

Dear Rob:

I did my director's cut of the film and turned it in, then the producer did what he did.  That's how it works.  On "Running Time" I was the producer, so it's exactly the way I meant it.  Also, you can't cut anything out of that film.

Josh

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