Q & A    Archive
Page 154

Name:              Kevin
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

<<However, I do hear that it looks good>>

The image that comes to mind is the train robbery in the green fog. I give JESSE JAMES credit for trying to be a good film, if you talk about the plot, it sounds like a good film, but watching it is like watching paint dry...

In the meantime, I did rent ROBINSON CRUSOE ON MARS, and promptly bought it afterwards. It seemed like a completely ridiculous movie that works anyways with nice special effects. I also liked JOURNEY TO THE FAR SIDE OF THE SUN where the other planet was actually a mirror version of our own.

Dear Kevin:

Yeah, I like both of those films, and saw them both in the theater as a kid. I particularly liked the monkey in RCOM.

Josh

Name:              Diana Hawkes
E-mail:             crazyfelinelady@yahoo.com

Dear Josh:         

August, my good man!  I think you're mistaken in which scene, and therefore episode, John was referring to. The Gabby-on-da-Barby scene borrowed from Naked Prey was actually in "The Abyss" - story by Rob, written by James Kahn, and directed by Rick Jacobson. ("Dangerous Prey" had the human hunters flush out Xena and Varia from the woods by setting fire to the trees.) I do agree with John that Gabrielle getting strung onto a spit with a huge venting tube forced into her mouth was one of the most provocative visuals of the entire show.  I always contended that it was a phallic metaphor, and the previous scene with the medicine man forcing liquid in her mouth and sprinkling her torso with herbs - I go right to Monica and the stained dress in my mind.  Which always had subbers steamed at me for mentioning it. I'd love to ask that hunkie Rick about the ep!

Which reminds me - someone down page was dissing Josh's appearance - I'm here to say I find all the XWP directors I've seen very attractive! (Well, I suspect TJ has had work done. *wink*)  I know Josh hates his late night haze on the Season 1 DVD, but I think you're all adorable.  Why, if I wasn't married and Josh didn't smoke, I'd bat my eyelashes from across the room.  So neener, neener.

Dear Diana:

Thank you for correcting that.  And thanks for the bat of the eyelashes.  Do I really have a "late night haze" in that interview?  It was actually done in the morning, and I'd just flown into L.A., then I turned around and flew right back out.  It was a lame interview.  They asked, "So, tell us about Xena," having seen none of my episodes.

Josh

Name:              Steve
E-mail:             spicoli323@gmail.com

Hey Josh,

I was going to propose Sleuth for movie with smallest cast, but its Wikipedia article linked to an article on something called Give 'em Hell, Harry! which apparently only has a single character.  But maybe this wouldn't count, apparently being just a filmed play.  Would you disqualify Sleuth on the same grounds?

Steve

Dear Steve:

"Give 'em Hell, Harry!" was a feature film, so I guess that's the answer.

Josh

Name:              Vincent
E-mail:             VPaterno@aol.com

Dear Josh:         

Your late 1998 entry on Turner Classic Movies came up recently on a TCM message board, and your thoughts still apply nearly a decade later. If I were stranded on a deserted island and could watch only one channel, this would be it.

I regularly watched "Xena: Warrior Princess" during its run, and enjoyed it immensely as a wonderful blend of action, adventure and humor (an element of Lucy Lawless' talent that has yet to be fully exploited during her post-"Xena" career). Belated kudos on a directing job well done.

Finally, I'd like to invite you to check out my site, "Carole & Co.", dedicated to my all-time favorite actress, Carole Lombard, and classic Hollywood. We've put up nearly 300 entries since the site began eight months ago, with plenty of rare stills and other information. I think you'll enjoy it. Check us out at http://community.livejournal.com/carole_and_co/

Dear Vincent:

I know I did write that essay, but I don't remember doing it.  I still watch TCM way more than any other channel.  Where else would I get a chance to see John Ford's completely forgotten 1933 film, "Pilgrimage," a slightly shocking story of a truly awful mother who so disagrees with her son's choice for a wife that she signs up with the Army during WWI and he promptly gets killed.  Truly an odd film, and one that will never show anywhere else but TCM.  I like Robert Osborne a lot, but I can live without Nick Mankiewicz, whose only claim to fame, and claim to film knowledge, is being Herman Mankiewicz's grandson.  Anyway, I just fast-forward through him. It's still a damn shame that Carole Lombard died so young.  She was funny, talented, and beautiful.

Josh

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

Dear Josh,

In case anyone is curious, that Xena episode that John Hunt asked about was written by Joel Metzger, and was Renee O'Connor's first full-length directing gig (since her earlier episode was a clip show.)  As you can tell from the title "Dangerous Prey," it was a combo of the plots of "The Most Dangerous Game" (bad guy hunts humans for sport) and "Naked Prey" (especially the fire  scenes) along with a climactic fight sequence atop a teetering tower of logs taken straight out of a Jet Li/Michelle Yeoh film called "Twin Warriors."  It was pretty decent.

So unsure if you would know this, but perhaps you've heard some of your old colleagues talking about this in passing.  Do you have any idea if Disney/ABC was interested in the Goodkind books and then courted Sam and Rob?  Or were they interested in the series and then began pitching it to studios?

And is it likely they will do it in NZ?

Thanks,

August

Dear August:

I don't know how the show got going, but as far as I know it will be shot in NZ exclusively with NZ directors, which is a drag for me.  Sam actually offered me a job on it, then Rob came back with there won't be any money to get me there or put me up.  So it goes.  Thanks for the info on "Dangerous Prey," which I never saw.

Josh

Name:              Jayne
E-mail:             jayno17@hotmail.com

Dear Josh:         

Hi, I was just wondering if the script 'biological clock' has been made into a movie? i absolutely loved reading it!!

Dear Jayne:

I'm glad you enjoyed it, but no, it hasn't been made into a movie, just like most of my scripts.

Josh

Name:              Kevin
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

I'll save you some time and misery. Avoid THE ASSASSINATION OF JESSE JAMES BY THE COWARD ROBERT FORD. It's really boring, the music is annoying, and to add insult to the injury, it finally gets interesting in the last 30 minutes of the 2hr 30min film.

Dear Kevin:

However, I do hear that it looks good.

Josh

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

Josh,

It's been a while since I wrote (and "sent" anyway) but, like many, I check the posts every day.

We've discussed the elephant slaughter in "Naked Prey" before, but the roasting scene; do you know who put that scene into "Xena".  It was almost as disturbing in "Xena" as it was in "Prey", if only because it was less expected.  I can't think of another scene in "Herc" or "Xena" that stood apart like that.  Since the rest of the episode seems to have been there to include that scene, I always wondered whose idea it was, and if you knew anything about the decision.  Thanks,

John

Dear John:

I didn't even know it was in Xena, but you can just bet it was Rob's idea.

Josh

Name:              God
E-mail:             iamthelord@gmail.com

Josh, my son:

I understand you do not believe in me, and I just wanted to let you know that I am perfectly okay with that, and anyone who says you will "burn in hell" is quite wrong. I crafted man in my image and gave him a brain not so he could shut it off and act like an ant, but so he could use his brain, and resemble me in all of his trials and tribulations. Even I am not perfect (if I was, I never would have created Republicans).

Don't you just hate Anne Coulter? Would you fuck her if given the chance? Don't forget, I am the lord, and can make such things happen.

Dear God:

I don't fuck Republicans; Republicans fuck me, and everybody else with their hysterical paranoia, and unending sense of hegemony (sorry, God, go look it up).  Meanwhile, and once again, I never said I didn't believe in god, I said I believe that religion is evil.  There's a difference.  I just don't think any human conception of god, or God, or whatever, means anything. Human religion is as meaningful as monkey's looking at the moon and shrieking.

Josh

Name:              Edwin Spaulding
E-mail:             espaulding@aol.com

Hey Josh,

It's my buddy Ross Starr's birthday--you mind giving him a little well-wishing shout-out? He's a fan of yours and checks your site daily.

Thanks.

--Edwin--

Dear Edwin:

My pleasure.  Yo, Ross!  Happy Birthday!

Josh

Name:              Tim
E-mail:             NansemondNative

Good Afternoon Josh.

Did you ever watch a movie called "The Virgin Spring" directed by Bergman?

If not you should do so. It was shot in Black and White and is beautiful to watch.

The only thing you might not like is that it seems to get into religion a bit.

The story allows for forgiveness, in real life however, I would be hard pressed to believe any father/family would steer towards forgiveness given the crime.

I'm not going to give out a load of BS and tell you I'm a big Bergman fan but I did like this movie.

Any thoughts on it if you have seen it?

The film you want to shoot, The Horribleness, is that going to be shot in the US or are you planning to go abroad if you get the green light on it? Just wondering on that.

Finally, I found "Within the Woods" a somewhat interesting study. Like everyone else I have the official bootleg version of the movie.

It was interesting from the standpoint of seeing how the ideas were expanded and improved upon in the later movies.

It was cool seeing a Baby Face Bruce, geeky glasses and all, doing some improvisation and a clearly crazy Ellen Sandweiss running through what I recognize as a for real honest to goodness swamp.

How none of you folks never had an encounter with a water moccasin amazes me. You seriously got lucky unless the snake doesn't populate swamps in Michigan.
You were right there with them after all...Fogger in one hand and I think a smoke in the other.

I'd bet $100.00 that none of you have the spine to go trotting through a swamp now! Or do you?

In any event, Sam might dismiss the movie as "amateur" and hate it but us diehards love it!

Have a good one!

Tim

Dear Tim:

I have to admit it, but I haven't seen all of Ingmar Bergman's films, "Virgin Spring" among them.  I haven't seen most of his films from the 1950s, probably half of the films from the '60s, and I'm pretty good after that.  Oddly, Wes Craven's film, "Last House on the Left," is based on "The Virgin Spring."  Should "The Horribleness" get made through this present deal it would probably be shot in Pennsylvania, outside Philadelphia, but there's nothing sure about this, and it's giving me an ulcer.  And I like "Within the Woods."  I think it's a very impressive super-8 film, and just goes to show what you can do with basically nothing.

Josh

Name:              Diana Hawkes
E-mail:             crazyfelinelady@yahoo.com

Dear Josh:         

Wow, again.  I just want to thank Calvin, Lee and everbody else for chiming in about what 5 Easy Pieces meant.  (See, this is why I was pushing for a message board here; we could talk amongst ourselves too, and keep a bunch of topics on one page.) I'm going to write my Dad and he'll think I'm brilliant.  I still don't get why they'd keep that title if the final cut took out the "Title Sequence" scene which gave it significance.  Meh. But moving on, as suggested!

I throw out "My Dinner With Andre" as a contender for least # of cast. Just the two of them and a waiter, right? Behind them as they talked was a lamp and a mirror, so I don't think the viewer saw any other patrons.
[img]http://www.dvdbeaver.com/FILM/DVDReviews25/a%20my%20dinner%20with%20andrea%20-%20louis%20malle/3.jpg[/img] I forget if we see them enter and exit the restaurant, though.  Hmm....

Dear Diana:

I thought about "My Dinner With Andre," however the film begins with Wallace Shawn going to the restaurant, on the subway, and walking up Manhattan streets, so there are many other humans.  I still stick with my suggestion of "Robinson Crusoe on Mars."

Josh

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

Josh,

I could get the gist that Tapert is not an "artsy-artsy" guy nor is Sam and maybe that is why they are so success, but nobody that I know of goes out and purposely says "I'm going to make and art film!", so that is why when people throw around that term so loosely, I find it bothersome.

There are filmmakers who speak very eloquently when they talk of making films like for instance Vittorio Storaro, and maybe his motivations when he shoots are to make some sort of artistic expression, but he still never refers to the films he has shot as "art films", however, hearing Storaro speak and hearing or reading Tapert speak about something related to filmmaking are in two completely different worlds, but both have had great success at what they do, so that is why singling out certain films as art films doesn't really make much sense to me.

Also, let me make it clear that Tapert wasn't dissing "art films" throughout the whole Q&A, but it mentioned it strongly twice and once before going into a diatribe about how much he likes fantasy films and discussed his idea for doing a new TV show based on a fantasy script he had etc.. Of course, I was immediately turned off when he started talking about fantasy films over true science fiction because I am not that interested in fantasy films, and personally, that is where I think both "Xena" and "Hercules" failed in ever holding my interest, but I am sure they were a gas to work on and they had a good run.

I know that here in Brazil and when I lived in Europe, what we do for a living is referred to as Cinema, so maybe that gives it more of an "artsy-fartsy" aura?

Even though I believe you have great taste in cinema and films for the most part, honestly, I don't consider your films "art films", so I guess the terms means something different to everyone, which is probably what you were trying to say in your response.

BTW, I find it hard to believe that you don't like "Nebraska" by Springsteen. I think that is one of his finest moments as a songwriter and it is music stripped down to it's essentials. I don't think it is a great album, but I think it is far better than almost anything that followed it. It was hard to listen to anything else by him when he released "Nebraska" as I thought it was such a good album.

-Scott

Dear Scott:

Yeah, "Nebraska" was voted album of the year, and ended up in the top five of best albums of the 1980s.  I still never listen to it.  A big part of the whole thing for me is the E Street Band, and it continually aggravates me that since he got them all back together for "The Rising," he hasn't made better use of them.  There's all this horseshit about getting producer Brendan O'Brien in to give them a more modern sound, but to me it just sounds muddy and dull.  And now he'd never give Clarence a sax solo like the one in "Jungleland," or give Danny an organ solo like the one in "Kitty's Back," or that whole wonderful piano overture performed by David Sancious on "New York City Serenade."  And to go from the lyrics of "Incident of 57 St." or "The River" to "Radio Nowhere"?  Oh dear.

Josh

Name:              Matt Kerny
E-mail:

Josh, I know you hated "Magnolia", but this latest film "There Will Be Blood", it's nothing like any of Anderson's previous work. In fact, it's unlike any movie I've seen before (and I've seen well over a thousand). I'm not saying your going to love this movie, but it's a powerful piece of filmmaking.

Dear Matt:

I haven't heard one kind word about the film, other than Daniel Day Lewis is good.  With all due respect, dude, I smell a huge stinker with "There Will Be Blood."

Josh

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

Hey Josh,

Havn't sent ya an email for ages but i still read your Q+A. Just wanted to know if you have seen "My name is Bruce" or at least seen the trailer? What are your thoughts on the movie/trailer? I think its looks really really funny. Perfect movie for Bruce! I hope it comes to theaters in NZ. Bubba Ho-Tep came here for one weekend...maybe the same will happen for MNIB.

PS. "Maybe you want to fix the Wikipedia entry on me, too." - I saw that....You look VERY different Josh. (Ha...)

Dear Chris:

Hey, mate, welcome back.  No, I haven't seen it yet.  I've seen a couple of scenes, but Bruce is just now completely finishing it.  It's a bitch getting through all of the final post-production, like sound mixing, color timing, FX, etc.  Anyway, he did it.  Good on ya, Bruce.  Yeah, it looks funny.  The scenes I saw made me laugh.

Josh

Name:              Jake Weaver
E-mail:             jweaver221@yahoo.com

Dear Josh:

That's cool about 'Highway.'

Far as Springsteen goes, I love where you're coming from. Wild, Innocent... is easily his most underrated album. "Incident on 57th Street" and "New York City Serenade" are my two all-time favorite Springsteen songs, and "Rosalita," "Kitty's Back," and "Sandy" are nothing short of genius. He's got a couple great songs on the "Tracks" collection that were outtakes from his Wild, Innocent... sessions that are just as cool.

Here's where we differ--I'm a HUGE fan of Nebraska, as well as its little brother Ghost of Tom Joad. While I can't say I listen to them anywhere near as much as I listen to Born to Run or The River, these are my choices for long night drives on desolate highways.

And with each passing year I find myself appreciating Tunnel of Love more and more, it's probably his most "grown up" album.

I'm with you on the majority of his music post-Tunnel, but I have to say, his latest album Magic is kind of a return to form...a good deal of it reminds me of his early stuff, and joy of joy, he even brings back the piano! Have you given it a shot yet? Don't listen to the one or two pop-singles and get turned off, he's got some real gems tucked in between them.

Well, sorry if that bores you, I can talk The Boss all day. I'm actually surprised you're not a big fan of "Baby It's You." The moment where Vincent Spano walks into the caffeteria and "Saint in the City" comes on is one of the coolest moments I've ever seen on film...not to mention the whole "Adam Raised a Cain" climax.

Anyway, just to weigh in on "No Country for Old Men," though I felt the same way you did about the water plot-point I was able to get past it because I was so absorbed by the suspense. I'd take the academy honoring a movie like that over "Crash" or "Brokeback" or "Chicago" any day.

And I love "Last Detail." The moment in the park where Quaid tries to run is heart wrenching. Definitely my pick for favorite Ashby and Nicholson.

Ever see The Naked Prey? How about The Naked Jungle? I'm a big fan of movies where it's one-guy-vs-the-world. Any reccommendations?

Dear Jake:

Maybe you just like movies with Naked in the title?  "The Naked Jungle" isn't one guy vs. the world.  It's Charlton Heston and Eleanor Parker against a zillion red ants.  I'd like "The Naked Prey" more if it didn't begin with footage of what I believe is legitimately killing elephants.  It upsets me so badly I can't watch the film anymore.  It's truly horrifying when the cook the one guy over the fire encased in mud.

Anyway, I like "Nebraska" better than "Tom Joad," but I never listen to either one.  Life's bleak enough as it is, I don't need to be that clearly reminded of it.  Whereas I've listened to "The Wild, The Innocent . . .," "Born to Run," "Darkness on the Edge of Town," "The River" "Born in the USA" and "Tunnel of Love" innumberable times, more than can be counted.  I know the lyrics to ever single one of those songs.  Meanwhile, the last two songs of Bruce's that I absolutely loved were "If I Should Fall Behind" from "Lucky Town" and "Bloodbrothers" from his greatest hits album.

Josh

Name:              Gregg Kent
E-mail:             greggkent@comcast.net

Dear Josh:         

The book says-Texas 1886, but where did they really film all those Big Country shots?

Dear Gregg:

William Wyler's "The Big Country" was shot in Stockton, and Red Rock Canyon, in the Mojave Desert, both in California.

Josh

Name:              Jason Roth
E-mail:             scootermcgurk@yahoo.com

Hey Josh,

Regarding The Last Detail, I watched it last year and it was wonderful. "I AM the fucking shore patrol!"  I'll take your recommendation on Cinderella Liberty.

Nice to see that someone else didn't dig No Country For Old Men.  Just plain poor storytelling.  The less said the better, I guess.

Back to the classics, I finally caught Singin' In the Rain the past weekend.  I'm not huge on musicals, but I was totally enthralled.  Amazing colors, dancing, humor, the works!  Don't know why I didn't see it sooner.

Best,
Jason

Dear Jason:

Yes, "Singin' in the Rain" is an amazing movie.  Cyd Charisse is just astounding.  Are those long legs, or what?  Going off on a tangent here, but I have a feeling that most people, if they ever think about such things, would say that in the 10,000 years of civilization so far, we've been on a constant rise toward knowledge, intelligence and sophistication, but that incorrect.   Human civilization has hit several peaks, then dropped, then risen again.  Humans hit a peak in ancient Greece, 2,500 years ago, then slid down into the Dark Ages, then rose again, very possibly never getting back to the previous heights it had reached.  I bring this all up because I think most people now believe that we are more sophisticated than we were in 1952 when "Singin' in the Rain" was made, and I disagree.  We can't make that movie now: it's too refined and too sophisticated.  We are able to move information around more quickly now, but the information itself is becoming increasing less complex.  Just stray thoughts.

Josh

Name:              susanna
E-mail:             swillener@aol.com

Hi

I came across your site.
I work and live at the St.Moritz Hotel.Yes,Theres a lot going on!!
Its my first Job after I moved from NYC to LA I was wondering if I could order your movie and if you actually filmed the scenes in the St. Moritz.
Thanks
Susanna

Oh, susanna:

I don't know what movie you're referring to.

Josh

Name:              Kristie
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

To respond to your question, I saw "The Last Detail" back in the early days of VHS (I was sixteen or so), then again fairly recently on DVD.

It's great how Nicholson and Otis Young fluctuate between natural feelings of sympathy for Quaid to looking after their own asses and getting the job done, leaving morality in favor of duty. The ending is surprisingly unsentimental, though it also allows Robert Towne to fully deliver his message about male bonding, mixed sympathies and the meaning of duty. Jack Nicholson's character is so volatile and erratic, and you never know when he's going to really go for it in terms in explosive energy and misdirected anger, which makes him a real pleasure to watch. It's certainly one of Hal Ashby's best films.

By the way, I can't wait for "Rushes." I'll order a copy the first week it's out.

Kristie

Dear Kristie:

Yes, Budowski is wonderfully volatile.  Like the scene in the bar where they order a beer for Randy Quaid and the bartender won't serve him.  Budowski gives the guy shit and says he's going call the Shore Patrol.  Budowski takes out .45, slams it on the bar and screams, "I am the fucking Shore Patrol!"  Or something like that, I haven't seen the film in about ten years.  I love the progression of Meadows with the cheese on his cheeseburgers.  And that's Michael Moriarity at the end in one of his very first film appearances, as well as Carol Kane as the hooker, and Lorraine Newman at the Buddhist meeting.  Given that most of the film is three actors, I think it's astounding.  I just tried watching "Old Joy," a big deal at last year's Sundance festival, about two goes going camping, and it's pure, 100% blather.

Josh

Name:              Jake Weaver
E-mail:             jweaver221@yahoo.com

Dear Josh:

Is it true you directed episodes of "Real Stories of the Highway Patrol"?!?!?!?!?!

Also, do you like Bruce Springsteen and what are your favorite songs/albums?

Dear Jake:

Yes, it's my great honor and privilege to say that I did directed quite a few of the reenactment segements on the first season of "Real Stories of the Highway Patrol, back in 1993.  The "Ride-along" segments didn't have directors, just a cameraman and a sound man.  We used cops as the cops, cops as the bad guys, and cops' girlfriends and wives for the female parts.  I did all of my segments in either Sacramento, where the California Highway Patrol headquarters is located, or in Lansing, where the Michigan State Police headquarters is located.  Most of those cops were pretty cool and I liked them.

Regarding Bruce Springsteen, I have been a big fan of his for about 30 years, since "Darkness on the Edge of Town" came out.  I must say, however, that I've been particularly underwhelmed by his recent work.  In the wonderful documentary included with the 30th anniversary edition of "Born to Run," Bruce explains that for that specific record he wanted all of the songs to be "mini-epics," which is why he composed all of the songs on the piano.  I can't help but think, "If that method worked so well, why did you stop doing it?"  Still, I absolutely love almost all of his records from the beginning up through "Tunnel of Love" (excluding "Nebraska"), and I think there's one whole album worth of good songs on the two albums, "Human Touch" and "Lucky Town."  My favorite album of his is "The Wild, the Innocent & the E Street Shuffle."

Josh

Name:              Redundant
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

You've probably heard this question a million times, but what do you think of Heath Ledger's death? Does it make you sad at all? Did you like him as an actor?

Dear Redundant:

You're the first to ask, not that my view means anything.  It's always sad when a young person dies, no matter who they are or what their profession. As an actor, Heath Ledger meant very little to me since I never saw him give a great or even a very good peformance, but he did seem to have some charisma.  Had he lived longer he might have gotten the chance to give a great performance.  Still, when someone in their twenties dies it reminds you of how fragile and nebulous life is.

Josh

Name:              Austin
E-mail:             zman221@gmail.com

Dear Josh:         

Just wondering how much a screenplay will typically sell for? It would help me greatly in determining if I want to pursue this as a career or merely as a hobby. Thank you.

Dear Austin:

It can range from a couple of thousand dollars for a low-budget horror film, up to millions of dollars for high-budget film, and anything in between. And they don't buy spec scripts very often anymore, so if you weren't hired to write the script, you'll very possibly never sell one.  If your sole reason for going into movies is to make money, I suggest finding another profession.

Josh

Name:              Chigurh
E-mail:

Josh:

Alright, you want a No Country for Old Men challenge, I'll challenge you you jerk.

First off...you claim in an earlier post that this is not one of Roger Deakins's finest moments. What the hell is that supposed to mean? This is the tip-off that you are not intelligently critical of the film, that it's something deeper, you've got an inner demon, or perhaps just dementia, and you simply refuse to acknowledge that anything of worth has come out since, what, Unforgiven? You're grasping at straws when you criticize this film for its cinematography...you got issues with the narrative? Fine. But the movie looks fucking incredible. And I'd like to know what Roger Deakins could have done to make it look better.

Next up: Josh Brolin returns to give the guy the water. Unlike criticizing Deakins (which is illogical) finding fault with a character motivation like this is perfectly fair, but also very subjective. I won't convince you on this point, but the fact is:

The guy didn't have water the first time out, and he was too busy thinking about his money to go back immediately. But, like most good people, he is not without conscience, and the image of that guy dying in the car must have been biting at his eyelids, preventing him from sleeping. He knows it's stupid, he acknowledges it's stupid, but he's compelled by morality to go back and give the guy the water. If Hamlet was just a badass and killed his uncle in Act I then Hamlet wouldn't have been much of a play, now would it? God forbid someone have a heart...even if it's a bleeding heart.

Unfortunately I can't speak to your other "issues" with the film because your stupid search engine turns up nothing of relevence when one types "No Country for Old Men." Thanks Shirley. If you care to stand up for you opinion, please restate it.

And I'll extend the invitation to all your pansy-ass fans out there who love to jump on the Becker band-wagon and trash the latest "stupid" movie out of Hollywood just because Joshy is bashing it.

It's going to win best picture this year, and unlike most other recent best picture winners, this one deserves it.

Dear Chigurh:

So, any who disagrees with is a jerk, eh?  Obviously you are intellectually incapable of having a critical discussion, as many, many sub-literate people are these days.  If you've just stolen millions of dollars from a drug deal that's gone bad, YOU DON'T GO BACK TO GIVE SOME UNKNOWN GUY WATER!  It's completely, utterly, totally stupid.  In the book he goes back to kill the guy, which makes perfect sense since that guy was the only person to see him.  I assume the Coens removed that motivation because it would make the character unlikable, but it's a fatal error.  The rest of the film is a psycho killer with a bad haircut, a five-foot shotgun, and big air tank, chasing a guy with a mustache.  And, as I've already said at an earlier point, by not keeping the story in the first-person perspective of Tommy Lee Jones, A. it makes no sense calling it "No Country for Old Men," and B. his dream at the end means NOTHING.  Meanwhile, I have great respect for Roger Deakins, but I still don't think this is one of his best efforts.  It's certainly a good looking movie, just not great looking.  And I'll bet you a dollar it doesn't win best picture, you jerk.

Josh

Name:              Adam Dixon
E-mail:             Dixicup@mistress.edu

Dear Josh:         

"LAS VEGAS -- Filmmaker Sam Raimi is looking to conjure up some syndication magic.

The Spider-Man director is teaming with Disney-ABC Domestic Television and ABC Studios on a new first-run, live-action weekly series targeted for a fall launch. The series, titled Wizard's First Rule, is based on Terry Goodkind's best-selling epic fantasy series The Sword of Truth.

Sword follows the extraordinary transformation of woodsman Richard Cypher into a magical leader who joins with a mysterious woman to stop a bloodthirsty tyrant.

Raimi is executive producing the hourlong series with Robert Tapert (The Grudge), Joshua Donen (The Quick and the Dead) and Xena: Warrior Princess production executive Ned Nalle. Disney-ABC Domestic TV is distributing, and ABC Studios is producing. "

Looks like someone's off the bread line!

Dear Adam:

Yeah, we'll see.  It's being shot in New Zealand, and I don't believe there's any money for American directors.

Josh

Name:              Kevin
E-mail:

Dear Josh,

How do you survive the horrors of "work-in-progress"? That little beginning stage where you put your all into a screenplay everyday and it still comes out badly.

Dear Kevin:

I suppose it's with the hope that someday it will turn out good.  The bottom line is that if you're actually a writer, then the writing itself is the point, not what people think of it afterward.  The process is the point.

Josh

Name:              Hughes Christina
E-mail:             jack.shang.lu@gmail.com

Dear Josh:         

Do you say religion is inheritantly evil or it has been manipulated for evil and has become evil?

Dear Hughes:

I believe that religion is inherently evil.  That's because to create a religion you must first begin with a lie, that you have the first clue about the existence of god, and that he/she/it somehow endorses your religion so that you can now feel superior to those other blasphemous, profane religions.  Religion is all us and them.

Josh

Name:              Evan
E-mail:             evanmandrews@gmail.com

Hi Josh,

In reference to what the title of "Five Easy Pieces" means, the IMDb claims that it's the title of a book of piano lessons for beginners, so it's pretty much what you assumed it to be.

Some other interesting facts listed about the film are that Nicholson originally wanted Janis Joplin to play the role of the annoying hitchhiker, and that the original ending has Dupea driving his car off a bridge. He dies, Rayette survives. That's an even bleaker ending than the one they eventually went with, but I'm glad they didn't use it. The ending to that film couldn't be more perfect, with Bobby leaving without a cent to his name. I always wondered why he leaves his jacket behind, though, Any thoughts?

Also, I'm curious whether or not you ever saw Children of Men, and if so, what you thought about it. It certainly has an interesting visual style, full of long tracking shots like you used in Running Time, although I think they hid the cuts using CGI.  Have you seen it yet?

Thanks,

Evan

Dear Evan:

I watched the first half, thought it was boring crap and turned it off. Clive Owen's character was severely dull, although there was minor amusement, if nothing new, in Michael Caine's old hippy character.

Josh

Name:              Paul
E-mail:             paul@paulsalvi.com

Josh:

"Five Easy Pieces" is the title of a children's piano primer.

"A Clockwork Orange" refers to the main character, who is no more alive and normal than said mechanical fruit.  I don't remember how or when or where I came across these factoids, though, so don't go by me.

Dear Paul:

Thanks.  I think we've got this covered.

Josh

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

Hey Josh,

I was thinking about something this past week and I finally had time to write you. I read that whole Rob Tapert Q&A and I give the guy a lot of credit for answering so many questions and he seems to really have had a passion for these shows he produced, but it also seems he is more interested in making a lot of money more than making better films which was evident when he started talking about the "Ghost House Pictures" > films.

As you know, I was never a fan of "Hercules" Or "Xena", so it was funny for me to actually have read all his answers to the questions, but I was interested in other things he had to say as well, but the one thing that struck me throughout the Q&A is how he kind of criticized or said how he disliked what he calls "art films".

Now I know what many people believe to be "art films" and there were and still are "art house" movie theaters, but when people start saying they don't like "art films", but give no example of what they are talking about it always makes me believe they don't know what they are talking about.

What the hell makes an "art film" and art film and why would a guy like Tapert point this out so much as disliking them? is there really such a thing as an "art film?". Are they like Warhol's films or a film by someone like Mike Leigh, or films that don't make any money, or all three?

Personally, this term bothers me and I just wanted to get your take on that?

To me there are only three kinds of films no matter what genre they are in and that would be good films, bad films, and a shit load of mediocre films.

-Scott

Dear Scott:

I read the interview, too, and I honestly don't remember Rob dissing art films, although I'm sure it's true if you say so.  Rob Tapert is a movie and TV producer, and his job is to make money.  He's not an artsy-fartsy guy and never has been.  Neither is Sam.  I am, kind of, and it probably hasn't done me much good in getting ahead in the film biz.  20 years ago "No Country for Old Men" and "There Will Be Blood" would have both been considered art films.  "Five Easy Pieces" was an art film.  Now I guess it would be something like "Old Joy," that I attempted to watch last night.  Two dull characters go camping and spew blather at one another.  Spare me.

Josh

Name:              Rob
E-mail:             info@evildeadchainsaws.com

Hi Josh,

I run EvilDeadChainsaws.com making replica evil dead chainsaws, so I am a massive fan! I'm trying to hunt down a better quality copy of 'within the woods', I have three versions so far, all from different source tapes and all about the same poor quality. Can you help?

I would offer to trade copies any of the rarer unreleased evil dead video material I already had but I'm guessing you'll already have anything I could offer you?

Thanks for your time, Rob.

Dear Rob:

Ah, you should have seen "Within the Woods" back at the beginning when it was a brand new film.  Sam and Scott Spiegel and I had all been making movies to show at parties, like "Six Months to Live," "The Blind Waiter," "Happy Valley Kid," but when Sam made "Within the Woods" it became a whole different thing.  Previously, the whole point was making people laugh, but suddenly now it was scaring the shit out of them.  I made TSNKE, Scott made "Intruder," and off we went into whatever we went into.  Anyway, I remember when "Within the Woods" was pristine, but it got shown a lot.  Really, more than any other super-8 film we made, and it gotten eaten up in the process. I honestly don't think there is a "good" video version of the film.

Josh

Name:              VanishingPoint
E-mail:             No Thanks

Dear Josh,

My recollection was "A Clockwork Orange" was derived from a slang expression "as queer as a clockwork orange" meaning something (or someone) odd, unexpected or unusual. I'll add here I myself have never heard the expression used anywhere else. Ever.

Checking on Wikipedia ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Clockwork_Orange ) confirms and expands on this:

Anthony Burgess wrote that the title was a reference to an alleged old Cockney expression "as queer as a clockwork orange". Due to his time serving in the British Colonial Office in Malaysia, Burgess thought that the phrase could be used punningly to refer to a mechanically responsive (clockwork) human (orang, Malay for "person").

Burgess wrote in his later (Nov. 1986) introduction, titled A Clockwork Orange Resucked, that a creature who can only perform good or evil is "a clockwork orange - meaning that he has the appearance of an organism lovely with color and juice, but is in fact only a clockwork toy to be wound up by God or the Devil; or the almighty state."

In his essay "Clockwork Oranges", Burgess asserts that "this title would be appropriate for a story about the application of Pavlovian, or mechanical, laws to an organism which, like a fruit, was capable of colour and sweetness". This title alludes to the protagonist's negatively conditioned responses to feelings of evil which prevent the exercise of his free will.

Recently  I have been reading a lot of Stephen King. I think he writes extremely well (I may have already condemned myself to your contempt there) but I do feel the technical structure, the pacing and the 'timing' of his books is often dreadful. I find it so frustrating. I guess the parallel is a movie with great special effects, superb  cinematography, a couple of set pieces but no actual story.

Incidentally the 'horror' parts in Stephen King's work are the least interesting to me. Have you ever read IT? Take out the horror and you'd have a great nostalgic story of a group of self proclaimed losers taking on a gang of bullies in the late 1950s. Which he actually wrote in the later novella 'The Body'.

VP

Dear VP:

Without going and checking, I'd guess that "The Body," which was part of the collection "Different Seasons," was before "It."  Anyway, I was a sincere Stephen King fan for his first 8 books.  Sadly, I found myself reading "Christine," when it was brand new in hardcover, and thinking, "This is bullshit.  This is a 22-minute 'Twilight Zone' stretched out for 550 pages. I'm completely wasting my time."  And thus I stopped reading Mr. King.  But I completely enjoyed everything up to that point: "Carrie," "Salem's Lot," "The Shining," "The Dead Zone," "Different Seasons," "Night Shift," "Fire Starter," and "The Stand."  I was also a big, big fan of Brian DePalma's film of "Carrie."  Anyway, thanks for the definition of A Clockwork Orange, which is certainly a pretty obscure title.

Josh

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

Hi Josh (Hi Diane!)

I think the title Five Easy Pieces comes from the scene where he's trying to impress the girl by playing one piano piece from his repertoire of five classical numbers. She loves it and he says he's a fake, "Five easy pieces." I think his repertoire is a symbol of his life: he's never found a direction, a real passion, and he's coasted through without emotionally connecting. This is his flaw. He's a lost man.

Thems my two bits.


Lee

Dear Lee:

I agree.  I think we've beaten this topic into the dirt, although it was interesting.  Speaking of Jack Nicholson movies from the early 1970s, has anyone see "The Last Detail"?  I think it's a terrific example of fairly low-budget filmmaking, with a great script and cast.  Unlike almost anything you'll see these days, all of the characters have full-fledged character arcs.  The author, Darryl Ponicsan, also had "Cinderella Liberty" filmed right afterward, another navy story, and I think that's a pretty damn good movie, too.

Josh

Name:              David R.
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

Do you recommend any of Peter Weir's films? I've seen "Master & Commander", which I liked alright. I also just watched "Picnic at Hanging Rock", though I didn't like it that much.

Dear David:

No, I'm not a fan.  I enjoyed "Gallipoli" and "The Year of Living Dangerously," although I don't think either of them is great.  He tortured the hell out of me in "Year" by naming Mel Gibson's character Guy Hamilton, the name of a British director, who, among many other films, directed several of th James Bond movies.  As for Australian directors, I think Bruce Beresford is much more interesting.

Josh

Name:              Bob
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

Just my last word on the Last King of Scotland.

The Scottish Doctor, I guess it's not a good sign for me or the movie that his name escapes me, I don't think was supposed to be that sympathetic a character.  Yes, he had no trouble being a cuckold, which made him dislkable, but, I think the idea was that Gillian Anderson and Kerry Washington were neglected wives, and there was the swinging 70's idea. Maybe this played better to Hollywood types than to the public.

As far as his detachment from the violence of the Amin regime, I think the idea there was that he was naive and idealistic.

So here is the question, do you agree with me that a lot of the suspense in the movie was based on a subliminal fear that white people might have of what to do if stranded in a third world country, without being able to rely on their nationality to protect them?

Dear Bob:

Yes, there is some suspense in his helplessness, as well as him being a stranger in a strange land, but so what?  And if you're an adult -- and this guy has graduated medical school -- and you live in Uganda during the military dictatorship of Idi Amin, and you don't bother to notice that there's violence occurring around you, you're not naive and idealistic, you're an idiot.  A cuckold, BTW, is the husband of a woman who's had an affair, so in this case it's Idi Amin.  So, the doctor is screwing other men's wives, and idiotically ignoring the massive violence going on around him, so why should I give a shit about this guy?  And ultimately, if the filmmakers haven't gotten me to give a damn about their lead character's plight, they've utterly failed.

Josh

Name:              Jeff H
E-mail:

Hey Josh

I sent question to you awhile back asking about working with Bob Perkis and appreciate your response.  He was beast of a taskmastering line producer and it turned out to be a nice situation.  Thanks.

I've made about 20 shorts and shot two features, but now ready for a turn as AD for a feature with an astromical budget ($2M--do you really need any more??) and would like to know any advice you have about what a quality AD can bring to a set.  I've had a few really good ones, but have never been on set for anything as big as this current project.

Good luck with your projects and with your new book....

Dear Jeff:

Will you be doing the schedule?  If so, that's a tricky, difficult task, and one you'll really want to think about and research.  Regarding the qualities of a good 1st AD, I'd say first and foremost is being upbeat and energetic, and not being a prick, which sadly many 1st ADs are.  Second, keep it all moving, and don't let it stop.   As you're shooting a shot you should be thinking about what will be needed for the next shot.  As they say, shit rolls downhill.  If the director or the 1st AD are freaked out, the whole production will be freaked out.  If the director and the 1st are calm, everyone will be calm.  Good luck.

Josh

Name:              Rob Hampson
E-mail:             robhampo14@yahoo.co.uk

Dear Josh:         

I am 20 years old and from South Africa and I am planning to study at Los Angeles film school next year but have not saved enough money to pay for all my expenses. Would you be able to give some advice or point me in the right direction on how I would be able to find a form of financial aid or sponsorship to help pay for my expenses? Apologies if I have waisted any of your time. Thanks

Dear Rob:

Your one short paragraph didn't waste too much of my time.  Sadly, I have no advice or information for you.  I don't even know if you can get U.S. financial aid since you're not a U.S. citizen.  Doesn't South Africa have some form of student financial aid?

Josh

Name:              Alice Schultz
E-mail:             aeschultz333@hotmail.com

Dear Josh,

? Excuse me? You're "not certain it's all that important" to know why the title of a thing is the title??

For your information, the title "Rushes" for example suggests:
--any big hurry, esp. toward something important or good
--sudden influxes of inspiration
--the reeds from which the Egyptians made papyrus, the material on which they could then write down their rushes of inspiration
--whatever those things are, obviously intrinsic to the filmmaking process, that you're talking about in "Evil Dead Journal"
--sex
--drugs
--rocknroll ("Don't miss your chance to see Rush live!!  Join the rush for Rush tickets and we'll rush you your order!!")
--oh and the obvious one, a verdant wetland in the arid desert of Life

And that's just a sample.  Indeed so many, varied, and useful are the meanings of this title that the title itself could be called inspired.  So what you wish we wouldn't bother?  Hardly.  You yourself never thought of the half of these applications, and certainly not the sex drugs and rocknroll?  So much the better!  Work your audience overtime while you go to the movies!

As for "Five Easy Pieces," I'm just glad this film came up because I was the last visiting Martian on earth not to have seen it or almost even know about it and it's in every way as awesome as its reputation.

Oh and BTW I do know why Bod Dylan called it "Rainy Day Women Numbers 12 and 35."  To drive Me crazy, that's why.

Cheers and regards,

Alice

Dear Alce:

All right, I took both sides of this issue.  It's nice to understand things, but sometimes with art it's also perfectly acceptable to not entirely understand.  "Rushes," by the way, are also known as "Dailies," and are the processed film you shot yesterday.

Josh

Name:              Dan Lovetere
E-mail:             dlovetere@gmail.com

Dear Josh:         

I just heard that "Running Time" and "Thou Shall Not Kill..." Except are being released on remastered special edition DVDs.  I was so excited to learn about this.  I just watched Running Time again yesterday, coincidentally.  It truly is a great, yet sadly overlooked film.  As a young writer/director, it has actually served as a great piece of inspiration to me.

Dear Dan:

I'm pleased to hear that.  Yes, there will be new, remastered versions of both films coming out at some point this year from Synapse Films.  They'll both be new, high-def transfers, and each will have a second disk worth of extras, including new transfers of the super-8 films "Stryker's War" starring Bruce and Sam, "Holding It," also with Bruce and Sam, and a documentary of some sort about the super-8s.  Bruce has already done an extensive on-camera interview.  I don't know when the release date will be, but I do believe that Synapse will do a good job.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:         

Someone started an interesting thread on a message board last night that posed the question of which movie in film history has the least amount of human characters on screen throughout the entire film. This includes characters that extras would usually play such as crowds, restaurant patrons, etc.

So far the best we've been able to come up with is the original "Alien" with it's 7 crew members. Any input?

Dear Trey:

How about "Robinson Crusoe on Mars," which, if I recall correctly, is two humans, an alien, and a monkey.  Or "Enemy Mine," which may be three humans and an alien.

Josh

Name:              Henry
E-mail:

Dear Josh,

I see you liked the documentary AMERICAN MOVIE, about a would be filmmaker trying to break into the business. I'm wondering if you've seen another documentary entitled OVERNIGHT, about Troy Duffy, the director of BOONDOCK SAINTS, who is handed the keys to the kingdom and just pisses them away? If so, what are your thoughts on Mr. Duffy and his self-defeating attitude?

Thanks,

Henry

Dear Henry:

I didn't see it.  However, like the show "Operation Greenlight," I don't really enjoy watching under qualified people fuck up movie productions.  I suppose there's not as much entertainment value watching a professional director not fuck up, but that's usually what occurs.

Josh

Name:              Tim
E-mail:             NansemondNative

Josh,

Music? Isn't "Five Easy Pieces" about Jack nailing 5 easy pieces of booty in 90 or so minutes? The PERFECT saturday night!!!

Just kidding. It conceivably refers to a title sequence, per the internet, that was not used in the final print. Apparently a "fictitious" piece of music by Grebner.

I think if Mrs. Hawkes owns "Five Easy Pieces" she should watch it again and just enjoy it without applying too much logic to it.

I just got through watching "The Thing from Another World" which had a fair amount of cheese factor to it. I couldn't help but laugh when this Chuck Connors look-a-like walked over to this hysterical man, who had just seen the creature for the first time, and threw a glass of cold water in his face. That would result in a decapitation nowadays.

What did grab me about the movie was how the director, Nyby, kept track of all those actors together in one place. I mean 11-15 or more in one shot with many of them talking. Overkill I thought. I could see though why the movie was so visionary and influential to so many future film makers.

Later.

Tim

Dear Tim:

Don't forget, "The Thing" is a Howard Hawks production.  He allowed his editor, Christian Nyby, to direct it, but it's still very much Hawks's film. I believe you're referring to Kenneth Tobey.

Josh

Name:              Calvin Gray
E-mail:

Josh,

Hello once more.  I just wanted to throw in an answer to Diana's question about Five Easy Pieces (being that it's one of my top ten personal favorites):

The title "Five Easy Pieces" refers specifically to a book of piano sheet music that was quite popular around the 60s.  The concept of the "Five Easy Pieces" booklet was breaking down classical piano compositions that, while relatively simple to play, sound complex and brilliant.  This reflects on the Bobby character, especially when he refers to "Faking a little Chopin" - what he's playing isn't difficult and he knows it, but those who hear it regard him as a genius, and he can't deal with that kind of pressure when he knows himself only as a fraud.

The metaphor extends into his personal life.  He bags women by "pretending" to be a local TV commercial celebrity.  He stumbles into relationships like the one with Rayette, where they latch on to him and feel he is the only man for them, when he knows he's just a scumbag.  He gets her pregnant, which his friend tells him is a meaningful act while Bobby knows it's just a side-effect of haphazard fucking.

I could go on delving into the meaning and duality of all this, but I'd likely come off as more of an obnoxious nerd than usual.

Allow me to use this space to share one last piece of information, however: Tim Burton's Sweeney Todd musical sucks, and is probably the laziest piece of acting and direction I've seen all year. Why the hell is it apparently so hard to make a worthwhile musical these days, and what piddling shit we do get is hyped and overpraised to the moon and back?

- C.G.

Dear Calvin:

I'll buy that for a dollar.  Although I do sort of like the concept of the women in the story being the five easy pieces.  Regarding "Sweeny Todd," although I have great respect for Stephen Sondheim, it's a crappy musical and, like Kander and Ebb's "Chicago," wasn't worthy of being filmed in the first place.  Let's face another fact, Tim Burton is a shitty director. Yes, "Pee-Wee's Big Adventure" was good, 23 years ago, and I liked (but didn't love) "Ed Wood" from 13 years ago.  Everything else in his career can easily be flushed down the toilet. He's certainly not getting better as he gets older.

Josh

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

Dear Josh,

I can take no credit for the update at the IMDB, I just found the listing there.  But if I ever register to be able to do Wiki updates, I'll be sure to add that.

That's extremely cool that the overseas dvd people have been in touch, given that the producers are the only ones making any $$ off of these, right?

And thanks for the image from my favorite moment in "Blind Waiter" - that's *my* salad!

As for the significance of the title "5 Easy Pieces," I still have fond memories of MAD Magazine saying that the title referred to the all-female Radcliffe basketball team.  And then printing a ton of hate mail the next month from outraged Radcliffe alums!

Regards,

August

Dear August:

I like that.  Wait, let's see . . .  Sally Ann Struthers and the other girl make two, Rayette makes three, the hitchhiker makes four, and Susan Anspach makes five.  How about that?

Josh

Name:              Diana Hawkes
E-mail:             upon request

Dear Josh:         

Ooh!  I'm delighted there's some other responses to "Five Easy Pieces". Lee, Tim, Josh, Bueller, anyone  - any thoughts on what the title is referring to? (My inkling was maybe 5 pieces of music, perhaps corresponding to 5 confrontations, but I looked at the credits and there were more songs.) The only mention of "easy" in the movie [i]I think[/i] is his friend Elton saying:  "I can't say much of someone who could leave a woman in a situation like this and feel easy about it." The five children of Bobby's family? "Five Easy Pieces,  by Grebner",  played over Bobby's mother's funeral that is shown on sheet music (apparently fictitious)?

You know what - just reading the script provided here: http://www.imsdb.com/scripts/Five-Easy-Pieces.html -- that entire 1st sequence at the funeral with Bobby as a child wasn't on the DVD I watched! The rental copy started with Tammy Wynette singing "Stand By Your Man" with shots of Bobby working and driving. Weird! Did the theatrical release have that flashback funeral stuff as the "Title Sequence" or was this cut before release at all?

Dear Diana:

I've always thought it was in reference to five easy pieces of music, although I have no good reason for believing that.  I'm not certain that it's all that important to know for sure.  Why, for instance, is it called "A Clockwork Orange"?  Why is Bob Dylan's song, with the refrain, "Everybody must get stoned," called "Rainy Day Women, Parts 12 & 35"?  Meanwhile, there's only one cut of the movie as far as I know, so those scenes in the script were either shot and cut, or not shot.

Josh

Name:              The Line That Shall Be Crossed
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

I was just wondering where the line was between quoting a song in a script and copyright infringement? I thought you would know.

Dear The Line . . .:

I'm not an attorney, but my understanding of the situation is: anybody can quote a line of anything, and that's fair use.  However, if you quote an entire verse and don't get permission and pay, that's probably copyright infringement.

Just remember, "You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows."

Josh

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

Dear Josh,

Following up on my previous e-mail, my memories of high school French began nagging at me after looking at the copy on the new dvd cover.  So a little bit of research reveals that you were indeed the 2007 winner of the Best Direct-to-Video Film at the Gerardmer International Fantasy Film Festival (which appears to focus on genre movies.)   It's even now listed at the IMDB: http://www.imdb.com/Sections/Awards/G%E9rardmer_Film_Festival/2007 , and it's now dutifully recorded on your bio there under "Awards."

That and a couple of Euros still won't get you any ganja in Amsterdam, but hopefully if nothing else it gives you a nice warm feeling.
Congratulations!

August

Dear August:

Thanks for updating IMDB.  Maybe you want to fix the Wikipedia entry on me, too.  Anyway, yes, I'm aware of this award, as well as the accompanying artwork.  The French DVD distributor, who was incredibly nice, also licensed my 9th grade movie, "Oedipus Rex," for that disk, as well as the "The Blind Waiter," and sub-titled them both.  Here's an example:



Josh

 

Name:              David R.
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

Any thoughts on Joseph L. Mankiewicz's 1972 film, "Sleuth"? I watched it earlier tonight. Actually, it took me two tries to get through it. The first hour was really tedious and dull; I almost bailed. It wasn't until Michael Caine's character got shot that the film really started moving. Particularly liked the direction from Mankiewicz (was surprised to see on IMDb that it was his last film).

On a related note, this actually showed a few weeks ago on TCM. I continue to be amazed by all the material they broadcast on that station, many of it not seen on tv in years.

Dear David:

It's a play, and not really great movie material.  But it's got two great actors giving it everything, and it's kind of tricky, too.  Not a bad last picture, though.  Mankiewicz had a helluva a career, too.  1929 to 1972, two Best Director Oscars, two Best Screenplay Oscars, one Best Picture.  Check out "All About Eve" and "A Letter to Three Wives."

Josh

Name:              Lee Price
E-mail:             lee.price@gcapmedia

Hi Josh

Watched No Country For Old Men last night. What a meandering mess. I've only read one Cormack McCarthy novel, The Road, which absorbed me. He writes about landscapes beautifully. The film of No Country... (which I haven't read) is all over the place. The best part is the cinematography of the wide plains - you get a great sense of isolation. But, I left the 2 and a half hour film without a clue about what the filmmakers wanted to say (apart from, maybe, don't steal a million dollars in a suitcase out in the desert). It's a huge contrast to my movie viewing at home two night ago - The Treasure of the Sierra Madre was on a late night showing on TCM. A brilliant film that knows what it wants to say, then structures the film to deliver that point.

And No Country... has got two Golden Globes and EIGHT (count em) Oscar nominations.

See No Country... on cable, mate - it'll make ya mad!

I've always found the Coens to make visually striking films, with a certain amount of kookiness (I love off the wall Raising Arizona, and it has a rare emotional resonance despite the broad comedy) but as storytellers/humanists I think the Coens pull up short. (Having said that I've still to see Miller's Crossing).

All right, Josh. Them's my two bits.

Lee

Dear Lee:

I guess you didn't see my little critique of "No Country" a few weeks ago. I think it's a disaster, with incredibly thin, illogical, unmotivated writing.  The reason that Josh Brolin's character goes back in the book (which I didn't read, but was told) is to kill the one guy who saw him. Without that little piece of motivation it all makes no sense.  Even with it, what have you got?  A psycho killer with a five-foot shotgun and a tank of air chases a guy with a mustache for nearly three hours.  Without retaining the cop's narration throughout (once again, in the book I didn't read), there's no reason to call it "No Country for Old Men," nor does it make a lick of sense to end with the cop's dream, which means NOTHING!  BTW, "Miller's Crossing" is no better, and may even be worse.  "The Treasure of the Sierra Madre," on the other hand, just gets better and better.  The difference between these two films is like comparing Rembrandt to a child's crayon drawing.

Josh

Name:              not for you
E-mail:             steamfan1@hotmail.com

Dear Josh:         

ROFL I was expecting your "Blast from the Past" to be that Silverstone movie.  WOW, have you actually made any of your treatments into a movie?

Dear not for you:

Not that one.  Yes, I used the title "Blast from the Past" years before it was usurped and made into a movie.  That story is actually based on a true event and character, although it was extremely fictionalized.

Josh

Name:              Landon
E-mail:             landon2006@gmail.com

Hey Josh, I have been wanting to get into Film making for a long time, and I guess I have two questions for you:

1. I was once told that it is easier to sell and idea and/or get funding to make a movie from TV sources (Sci-Fi Network, USA, ABC, etc) than it is to get financing from a major Hollywood studio. In your opinion, is there any truth in that statement.

2. When making a movie, is it considered "less glamorous" to work on a TV Movie instead of Theatrical movie, from the Director's stand-point.

As always, I enjoy your work. Thanks for your time,
Landon

Dear Landon:

1.  There's no difference.  All of those TV channels are subsidiaries of major Hollywood studios (or in the case of ABC, the parent company). Getting financing out of Hollywood is extremely difficult for anything, and you must have contacts and a way in, like an agent.  Nobody ever gets anything made just mailing it in.  "Over the transom" submissions go straight into the shitcan.  2.  Yes, TV is "less glamorous" than theatrical movies, but both are incredibly difficult to get.  After I had spent 8 years directing "Hercules," "Jack of All Trades" and "Xena," when I got back to Hollywood and tried to get another TV directing job, I was treated like I'd never done anything.  To the TV executives, directing a show like "Xena" didn't count for anything, and my independent features meant nothing as well.  Quite frankly, I think everybody there has their heads up their asses.  Good luck.

Josh

Name:              Sabrina
E-mail:             monsonsabrina@yahoo.com

Dear Josh:         

Ok seriously, I would honestly like to know how you kept from killing the others on the set of Evil Dead?  I want to kill(just a figure of speech) annoyingly evil people I have to work with for 8 hours.  And these are people I don't have to spend all day with.  I surely would have blown up at somebody,

Dear Sabrina:

A. It was nearly 30 years ago, B. we were kids, and C. I'll bet quite a few people on that shoot wanted to kill me.  Luckily for me, ED was the most difficult shoot I've ever been on, so everything has been easier ever since.

Josh

Name:              David R.
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

This is kind of random, but...

I know you've mentioned the ubiquity of high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) in American foods on the Q&A. I truly believe that most of the food people eat in this country is negatively affecting their lives in my ways. Anyway, very interested to check out a recent documentary about the subject called "King Corn". Here's the link to the trailer at IMDB: http://imdb.com/title/tt1112115/trailers-screenplay-E35325-314

Ahh, documentaries these days are great.

Dear David:

It looks interesting.  I just hope it's not too "jauntily hip," as described by the Toronoto Star.

Josh

Name:              Torben
E-mail:            

Hi Josh

I just watched Cleveland Smith on youtube (HAHAHA it's awesome). Is it possible that it will be released on DVD (maybe together with the your old super8 movies and that stuff(the Campbell, Raimi, Becker, Tapert etc. stuff)) (Is it released?)?

I've just ordered your book, looking forward to reading it.


All Hail!

Dear Torben:

No, "Cleveland Smith" isn't on DVD, nor are there any plans to release it. Luckily, it's availabale on YouTube, although I didn't put it there.  Also on YouTube is "The Blind Waiter," which stars Bruce and Sam, and is older than "Cleveland Smith."  "Torro, Torro, Torro!" may be posted there, too. Anyway, I hope you enjoy the book.

Josh

Name:              Brian Christie
E-mail:             b.christie@sbcglobal.net

Dear Josh:         

Being told that my great grandfather built owned "Christie Hotel" in Hollywood in the 1920's. Really have limited info & not sure what is accurate. Was told his first name is Haldane and came to hollywood around 1916 from michigan. Am trying to find if it was actually Charles H Christe, same as the Christie Film Company, along with his brother Al. Sort of fits with what I heard over the years. But never any mention of fil company before. Do you have any info to pass on?

Dear Brian:

I don't know what Haldane has to do with the Christie brothers, Al and Charles, who had the first movie studio in Hollywood, Christie-Nestor, and indeed built the Christie Hotel in Hollywood.  Here's the link to the Wikipedia entry -- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christie_Film_Company

Josh

Name:              Bhaskar Banerjee
E-mail:             banerjee.bhaskar@rediffmail.com

Dear Josh:         

I have no idea about the treatment of a film. Is it a paragraph wise synopsis of the story as described in the script?Thanks.

Dear Bhaskar:

A treatment is like the short story version of the script, that generally run somewhere between 8 and 14 pages.  This where you tell the entire story, without dialog, and without going into great detail.  There are a few of my treatments posted on thsite, go ahead and read them.

Josh

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

Dear Josh,

Ernest Borgnine became your old buddy when you made him smile the time you ran into him on the street in Hollywood.  And I wouldn't be surprised if he told that story to a lot of his buddies too.  I didn't see the tv movie he got nominated for, but according to the PR material, he plays a retired song-and-dance man, ala Gene Kelly, which is sort of funny if you think about it.

And happy to add my two cents' worth - I just realized the other day that it was Christmas of 1998 when I read somewhere that one of the Xena directors had a website. A few days later a friend introduced me to a hard-to-find videotape called "Lunatics," and I said "Wait - that's the same guy!"

That exceptionally long Q&A with Rob was rather remarkable - the site had said he was willing to do 20  Questions, and so readers could submit as many as we liked.   He ended up answering every single freakin' question, 121 in all (he numbered them.)  I asked two broad ones that I knew the answers to anyway, but it was nice to get him to confirm.    Plenty of fans who visit you here participated in that.  (I was the one who added that "Lost Lost World" would be a great project with which Ghost House should diversify its appeal.)

The drive-by insulters notwithstanding, one thing I really enjoy about your Q+A section is when people pass along interesting info and links, like that short film "Camping," and the previous one by the same director, about the paper-doll robot that came to life. Those were just amazingly well done.

And just to give you a smile - that new release of Alien Apocalypse is currently ranked at #5,488 on Amazon, while Titanic is at #5,548.

Regards,

August

Dear August:

I've got to believe that many, many people have said to Ernest Borgnine, "What do you want to do tonight, Marty?"  Particularly between say 1955 and 1960, then everybody probably switched to, "Hey, McHale!"  (I can hear Joe Flynn's voice in my head, "McHale, you and your gang of cut-throats are through!").  That's right, we're in our 10th year here at Beckerfilms, and you've been participating from the beginning.  Thanks.  And thanks to everyone, particularly Shirley, our intrepid webmaster.  That's my revenge on "Titanic" for opening the same day as "Running Time" and burying me.

Josh

Name:              Evan
E-mail:             assgas@hotmail.com

Dear Josh:         

Hey i was just surfing the web and found an essay you wrote on religion being evil, i thought it was mighty kickass but the us and them thing i thought isnt the key focus on religion at all, its not about exterminating a section of humanity at all, or even converting them for that matter, although the us and them thing IS a huge factor to most people, the basis of religion is to control mass amounts of people in different countries around the world with all sorts of different governments, and in that way, religion becomes almost the perfect dictatorship, so screw sadam and hitler, its that damn L. Ron Hubbard we gotta be scared about haha, but im not gonna write you an essay on it cause after reading through yours essay your probably a well informed individual, i just thought your essay on it was fairly kick ass and just wanted to leave a comment

Dear Evan:

I'm glad you enjoyed it.  "Assgas"?  Not a very complimentary screen name. Sort of like calling yourself Pitstink or Zitface.  All of these sound like Dick Tracy's enemies.

Josh

Name:              Lee Price
E-mail:             lee.price@gcapmedia.com

Hi Josh

Five Easy Pieces is a terrific piece of cinema. Favourite scene is when Jack is trying to leave Karen and he can't and he beats himself up in the car. A story about a man who's just... lost. The ending is perfect. Man, can you imagine the Hollywood exec's greenlighting that one today? American Pie 15, maybe!

Have you seen Rafelsson's Blood and Wine, starring Michael Caine and Nicholson? A great little thriller, rarely seen on TV and unavailable in the UK on DVD (I had to get a Thailand copy off Ebay!) Some real Oedipal stuff in there.

Gonna Watch Five Easy Pieces again this week! (I've recently bought King of marvin Gardens - haven't seen it yet but intend to soon).

Lee

Dear Lee:

No, I haven't seen "Blood and Wine," and it sounds good.  I don't know how I missed it.  I was not blown away by "King of Marvin Gardens," although it's kind of interesting, and well-shot.  Avoid "Man Trouble" at all costs.  Yes, that's a brilliant scene in "Five Easy Pieces."  I love the scene when he's talking to his buddy, Elton, who says he doesn't think it's right to leave a pregnant girl, and Nicholson replies, "I can't believe I'm sitting here listening to some asshole cracker from a trailer park compare his life to mine.  Tell me about the good life, Elton, because it makes me puke!"  I haven't seen the film in a decade and I can still remember the dialog --  that's my idea of a good movie.  Sadly, having well-written dialog these days is no longer popular.

Josh

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

Dear Josh,

Best of luck with both the movie project, and Bushes, err... Rushes.   Not sure if you caught my other question or if no news is good news, on if you had started teaching classes, something you had mentioned in passing last fall.

BTW, I might echo Tim's sentiment on the random acts of trolling; the first 9 years of "You're not as rich as Spielberg, so I'm going to call you names at your site even though I haven't directed any movies at all!" letters have been amusing, especially the numerous and diverse ways you find to answer in kind, but they eventually get a bit old.  You've written a couple of very eloquent replies recently (i.e. you make movies for yourself not random viewers, you stand by your films especially given the time and $$ you had to work with, not being George Lucas doesn't diminish the value of your professional opinions on film-making, etc.)  so I wonder if you might just add those to your FAQ and refer nuisance-writers there. And/or to their mothers, as Joe Pesci did in "Goodfellas."

One other observation:  there was a neat profile of your old buddy Ernest Borgnine in the Mon. 1/14 USA Today - I had no idea that at age 90, he'd been nominated for his 2nd Golden Globe for Best Actor, for a TV movie he did for Hallmark called "A Grandpa for Christmas."  He lost to the guy from "Longford," but that's got to be some kind of record for longevity.

Regards,

August

Dear August:

I'm not sure how Ernest Borgnine became my old buddy -- although I did meet him once -- but I'll bet you're right about longevity between award nominations.  His first nomination (and win) was in 1955 for "Marty," so he's been nominated for acting awards for 52 years.  Next, I suppose you'd have Katherine Hepburn who won her first Oscar for Best Actress in 1932-33, and her last in 1981 (with two others in between), so that's 49 years. Meanwhile, I didn't end up teaching that class.  Regarding those that feel the need to attack me, I don't think putting responses into the FAQ section would stop or even slow them down.  I could just delete them, but I do try to answer all the questions (or accusations) that I can.  But do keep adding your two-cents worth in, August, it's always interesting.  Oh, and I read that exceptionally long interview with Rob Tapert, and if I'm not mistaken you asked some of the questions, right?

Josh

Name:              Tim
E-mail:

Good Morning Josh.

I truly wish this clown Erricson would cut the bullshit.

His ridiculous rants, aimed directly at you personally, take away from the forum.

Until shown other proof, we can only guess that he rented his local sticky floor for $50.00 and projected his home movies thereby qualifying his "theatrical releases". Probably lost money on it.

Moving forward, "Five Easy Pieces" is a fantastic movie as stated. One of the most memorable scenes, and one discussed a lot, is the diner scene with the exchange between Jack and the waitress over the toast. The two hitch hikers added an edge to the story as well. It struck me as kind of a sexual edge at one point.

I enjoyed Karen Black's performance immensely and have enjoyed most everything she has ever been in. That would include the cheesey horror movies and especially "Burnt Offerings". Karen fit in perfectly with Dunsmuir.

Josh, did you like anything Bob Clark did? I have watched all of his stuff including all of his early horror outings and then most everything right up to his death last year."Porky's" and "A Christmas Story" seem to be what most everybody associates him with. You know yourself he did a whole lot more than that. Any thoughts on his style or the man himself?

Tim

Dear Tim:

I would daresay that "Five Easy Pieces" is Karen Black's best performance ever.  I think she's perfect.  And what a great name, Rayette DePesto.  I love when she says, "I am not a piece of crap."  The scene after the diner scene, in the car, when the hitchhiker says, "That was great," and Nicholson says, "I didn't get my toast, did I?"  Anyway, regarding Bob Clark, I would dismiss him entirely were it not for "Murder By Decree," which I'd say still stands as the best modern Sherlock Holmes movie since Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce.  Christopher Plummer and James Mason are terrific.  It's not a great movie, but it's a damn good try.

Josh

Name:              Jackson
E-mail:             jville@comcast.com

Hey Josh Becker!

Long time reader here. I was sifting through your responses and found a thread about the loss of irony in American films. I think that's true, but some interesting recent examples include Arlington Road and The Mist.

The Mist is actually a neat B-movie that recognizes itself as such, and does have a great bit of irony running through the whole story. It's also a lot of fun, and got some good effects mileage out of a $17 million budget.

Any Hal Ashby films you can recommend?

J.

Dear Jackson:

I love the fact that $17 million is now a low-budget B-movie, and it's based on a Stephen King story no less.  Regarding Hal Ashby, I recommend: "The Landlord," "Harold and Maude," "The Last Detail," "Shampoo" and "Being There," and possibly "Bound For Glory" and "Coming Home," which have their positive aspects, but I'm not a fan of either one.  The rest of his films are bullshit.  I personally think that "The Last Detail" is far and away his best film.

Josh

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

Dear Josh,

Happy New Year!

I remember when someone wrote in suggesting you add a blog or journal to this site, and you observed that you often slip little tidbits of news into answers to questions.  So I realized there have been some potentially big ones recently.    Like the chance that "The Horribleness" will come to fruition.  Somehow I missed this - when did you get this all lined up? Who is producing it?  (Is this that the Steven Mena you referred to earlier?)  I know you don't want to jinx anything, but any bones you can toss us would be much appreciated....

Also congrats on yet another screening at that Mitten Movie Project thing. You seem to be turning into a regular there.   Was the event an evening of short films?  Or was it just you, and if the latter, did you show more than just "The Blind Waiter?"

And any other news?  Progress on "Rushes" and/or the novel?  Did the teaching gig come through, and if so,  what has that experience been like?

Thanks,

August

Dear August:

I'm waiting to hear about the financing for "The Horribleness."  I've been working on this deal for about a year.  It's with my old buddy, Tom Bambard, formerly of Anchor Bay, who has teamed up with Steven Mena.  They've already made two features together.  I'm presently doing the breakdown and the schedule, and I'm hoping to shoot in the spring with Bruce, Ted and Ellen Sandweiss.  We'll see . . .

Regarding the Mitten Movie Project, this month it was a series of shorts and trailers, culminating with "The Blind Waiter."  Somehow they managed to have some of the worst projection ever -- stretched to anamorphic, everything was blue, no sound for big stretches -- and it was digital projection which I didn't think you could fuck up that badly, but you can.

We're into the final stretch of laying out "Rushes."  I assume that it will be done very soon.  Here's the first attempt at the cover art, but this will change somewhat to get Quinn's head away from the R so it doesn't look like "Bushes," god forbid.

Josh

Name:              Si
E-mail:

Hello Josh

Happy New Year. Long time, no post, but I've been busy...

Anyway, just like to tell you that I saw "To Sir, With Love" a few days ago and quite enjoyed it, especially Sidney Poitier's performance. What did you think of it?

Also, I'm curious as to what you think of Liam Neeson as an actor. I personally think he's impressed in nearly everything I've seen him in (yes, even Schindler's List - he had good presence and delivered his lines well, as did Ralph Fiennes and Ben Kingsley. I think the problems with that film are more down to Spielberg and Steve Zaillian, not the actors and Janusz Kaminski. But I'm digressing...)

Si

Dear Si:

I saw "To Sir, With Love" when it came out, when I was nine, and I thought it was great.  Every time I've seen it since, which has got to be four or five more times, I still think it's great.  It works like gangbusters, and is pretty much just a British rip-off of "Blackboard Jungle."  What's incredible to me is that the film was written, produced and directed by James Clavell, the man who wrote "Shogun" and "Tai-Pan."  Meanwhile, I don't blame anything on the actors in "Schindler's List," it's certainly not their fault (and the DP, Janusz Kaminski, did a great job).  But in all three of the lead actor's cases in that film, Liam Neeson, Ben Kingsley and Ralph Fiennes, I think they're all one-dimensional performances because that's all the script gave them.

Happy new year.

Josh

Name:              Jim Erricson
E-mail:             nethrfriend@aol.com

Dear Josh:         

Well "dumb as a box of rocks" shares something very unique with Bombast Becker. What do you both have in common? C'mon Joshie boy, crinkle up your bald forehead , cross your skinny arms over your fake ,rebel cool, khaki explorer throwback , wannabe director's shirt, and take a guess. No...? Okay , in the last 25 years, "a box of rocks", has had exactly the same number of movies released theatrically as writer/director Josh Becker. An amazing fact that I was unaware of. You should thank the folks over at IMDB for posting that lil tid bit. Also, as an aside, how long do you think that you would last in the ring with P.T. Anderson?

Dear Jim:

"Bald forehead," eh?  Yep, my forehead's as bald as they day I was born, as are my palms and the bottoms of my feet.  And I assure you that of my many shortcomings, I don't have skinny arms.  Just out of curiosity, how many theatrically released films as writer/director have you got listed on IMDB? As for a boxing match between myself and Mr. Anderson, I don't know his weight class, but were I a boxer I'd be a heavyweight these days. Meanwhile, in my revenge fantasy we don't fight fairly, I just mug him from behind and take my money back.  The three and a half hours is lost forever.

Josh

Name:              David R.
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

Do you care at all for director George Roy Hill's "The Great Waldo Pepper"? Watched it this evening and enjoyed it. I thought it was a good solid three-star film. I noticed it's not on your fav. film list. (Pauline Kael hated it by the way)

Dear David:

I thought it was perfectly okay, although certainly not up to "Butch Cassidy" standards.  I watched a really great making of "Butch Cassidy" film on TCM that was made at the time the film was shooting, and was done before the film was released, so Hill has no idea if anyone is going to like it. You see a lot of wonderful shots of George Roy Hill and young Conrad Hall, with a big beard, shooting the film.  Hill takes you through the choreography of the final shoot out, which is very complex, and totally fascinating, then thankfully explains the last shot that I never understood. Butch and Sundance come out the door with their pistols out, and freeze frame.  Then it begins to very slowly pull back on their frozen images as you hear hundreds of Bolivian soldiers firing their rifles in volleys, and it just keeps slowly pulling back on their frozen images as they become smaller and smaller in this town square.  It turns out that they shot an 8x10 still plate of the whole town square (with the late, great L.B. Abbott in charge), and Butch and Sundance are matted onto the plate right from the beginning.

Josh

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

Josh,

I was going to pipe in earlier about "The Last King of Scotland", but you beat me to the punch. I really enjoyed Forrest Whitaker in that film and he has always been on one of my favorite actors anyhow, so it was nice to see him get such a good part to play.

My feelings about the doctor character pretty much mirror yours, and I feel that like another film "Cry Freedom"- (The Stephen Biko Story), the secondary fictitious character becomes the main character of the biopic and I hate that.

The Biko film could have been done very well, but Kevin Kline's journalist character became the main focus and in the case of both "The King of Scotland" and "Cry Freedom", each of the main "real" character's lives were interesting enough not to warrant the token fictitious character to drive the story.

However, the difference between the two films is that  "The Last King of Scotland" is it was based on the novel of the same name which was basically written from the fictitious doctor's point of view of the.

I agree that the writing was very thing with regards to this character and it really weekend the film which is a shame because Whittaker was so good in that film.

I subsequently read the novel, and the Doctor's shenanigans with others wives were pretty much exclusive to the film which I also agree made for a weaker story, however, this was one of the better films I had seen this past year.

The other films which I had the chance to see which I enjoyed were mainly documentaries and I think the one you should try to catch is "The King of Kong: A Fist Full of Quarters" which is basically about a guy trying to beat the Donkey Kong video game Highest score, but in fact the film is beyond better than the premise (Which was not that fascinating to me) and I think it is a documentary you would really like.

The other Documentary I think you would like is "Good Grew Tired of Us". It is very good, and one of the best docs I have seen in a longtime.

The other films I liked this year were:

"This is England"
"Atonement"
"Once"
"Paris Je T"
"Zodiac" (Yes, I liked this film)
"Sunshine"
"Reign over Me" (When you get past Sandler's Dylan look-alike hair, the acting is really good in this film and like a few of Binder's films, it isn't great, but decent.)
"Ratatoullie" (One of many animated films I took my son to se this year and it was the best of all of them).
"There Will Be Blood" (Daniel Day-Lews is rally good in this film).

That's about it, although, I haven't seen "Eastern Promises" and I want to see that.

-Scott

Dear Scott:

I was just having this discussion about "The Last King of Scotland" with someone who defended the film by saying that they liked the "realism" of the doctor's character having no dramatic arc, and the story having no theme and no point.  That having those elements would have made it "contrived."  This is the main issue I've been confronting for 10 years now on this website, and of course in still watching movies.  Adding more thought and more levels to the writing does not make it more contrived, it makes it better, deeper writing.  A theme and a point are not contrivances, they're the reason for telling the story in the first place.  The backdrop of Uganda under Idi Amin is dramatic and interesting, Amin himself is a fascinating character, and that he might have had a young, white, Scottish doctor isn't beyond believability, but that's all the set-up.  Now what do you do with it?  The doctor pays no attention the violence raging all around him, then has sex with the president's wife.  Is he just a complete idiot?  What's his main malfunction?  What's the reason for this behavior?  They don't know, and haven't even thought about it.  And so it's dramatically weak, pointless, and ultimately highly forgettable, except for Forrest Whitaker's performance.

Thanks for the list, all of which I haven't seen, but will.

Josh

Name:              Diana Hawkes
E-mail:             upon request

Hi ya Josh -

Been a while since I've written.  I woke up with my two new kittens and my old cat on the bed, all purring away, and your "Pile O' Kitties" photo popped into my head.  I hope your 3 lil' siblings have happily adjusted to Michigan.

My dad and I have taken to recommending films to each other, and he wanted me to watch "5 Easy Pieces" with him.  (The Sally Struthers bouncing boobies sex scene, sitting beside my parents - can you say: "Awkward"?)

Anyway, while Nicholson is always interesting to watch, as you've said, I found the ... point of the film I guess I want to say ... elusive. Was the protagonist frustrated with the 2 worlds of his life (the stuffy uppercrust classical music scene of his family juxtaposed with the honky tonk blue collar life he wandered into), because both were filled with people fooling themselves?  It was about his unwillingness to cater to fake feelings?  I wasn't sure why I should empathize with him, other than: at least he's trying to be honest.  Like when Catherine tries to flatter him:  "I played that better when I was 12."  The theme = brutal honesty?

At first I thought we were to assume she served as a morality exposition character with her dopey speech to him: "You're a strange person, Robert. I mean, what will you come to? If a person has no love for himself, no respect for himself, no love of his friends, family, work, something - how can he ask for love in return? I mean, why should he ask for it?"> But then I think - Nah, he had her number - she was just as full of bologney as anybody.

Is the point that he's searching for a life of integrity and it's ironic that no one finds he has any because he's so brutal with his opinions?

I did really love his "talk" with his paralyzed father - "If you could talk I suppose we wouldn't be having this conversation" - boy did that hit a nerve with me.

It was nominated for a bunch of Oscars, back when that meant something, eh?  So, I'm sure it's just me (although, since I'm quoting it so much, maybe it did appeal to me deep down) and I need some help figuring this movie out.
Anybody want to talk about it?

By the way, Josh - Rob Tapert answered a boatload of online questions from fans and he mentioned you fondly: question 44- Do you ever worry that if you did get backing for a Xena movie the fans might not like what you put together? Will a movie be enough or will they just keep wanting more?

Answer- "Human nature will always want more. Josh Becker, who I dearly love, says that only a funny comedy would satisfy everyone. He believes that Lucy, Renee, Bruce and Ted are all best as comedians. He is probably right."

(The whole Q&A if you're interested:)
http://p071.ezboard.com/ftalkingxenafrm3.showMessage?topicID=12971.topic

Oh - one more question about that film -
What is the meaning of the title?  5 pieces of music?
5 confrontations in his life in which he takes the easy way out?

Dear Diana:

You make me want to see "Five Easy Pieces" again right now.  I haven't watched it in about ten years, although I've seen it quite a few times.  I was actually a ticket-taker at the little art house theater here in Michigan, The Studio 4, when it was originally showing in 1970-71.  What does the film mean?  I'm not sure, but I feel like it knows what it's saying, and it specifically knows who all these people are.  I've always felt like Nicholson was a guy who's running away from himself.  When we first meet him he's living a lie that he can't sustain, then we follow him back to his old life that he's completely rejected and that he can't return to.  It seems like Rayette is the only truly sincere character, basically because she's so dumb.  Maybe the meaning is in the speech of Sally Ann Struthers, who says that when you're born you go past god on a conveyor belt, and if he likes you he squeezes your cheeks and you get dimples, but if he doesn't like you he pushes you on the chin, giving you a cleft, while he says, "Go away!"  Some folks are doomed from birth.

Meanwhile, I read that epic interview with Rob (he sent me the link).  That was a very nice comment of his.  I particularly appreciated the intelligence and details of his answers.  It seemed like he was treating the fans like actual, intelligent, human beings.

As for my three kitty cats, they're fine, prospering, and presently all asleep on the bed behind me.

Always nice to hear from you.  Keep seeing good movies.

Josh

Name:              David R.
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

I watched "Elevator to the Gallows" last night, one of Louis Malle's very early films. Although I think it's an interesting story with very cool direction from Malle, I found I just didn't care about the characters. There's basically no introduction to these people. The movie jumps straight into the murder. The lead character, Julien Tavernier, seems so calm and collected while killing his boss that I didn't buy for a second that he'd have forgotten to retrieve the rope on his way out (which is the pivotal action setting the story in motion).

I guess I'm just disappointed after having read what a "master of suspense" this picture was. For me, there was no suspense at all!

Dear David:

I recently tried watching it on TCM and bailed out.  I watched the "Calcutta" episode of Malle's "Phantom India" again, and it's an interesting approach to making a documentary -- Malle didn't talk to anybody, he just covered the hell out of the city of Calcutta for some amount of time, like a few weeks, and you get to watch.  I found it refreshing not having interviews and talking heads. Meanwhile, Louis Malle never was a master of suspense, but he could tell a story on film.

Josh

Name:              Henry
E-mail:

Dear Josh,

First of all, thank you for responding to my list, even though as predicted you didn't agree with most of my choices. I would've put down L.A. Confidential as well, but since it's the new year, that makes it 11 years old and not ten. I do have question for you, are there any films that came out in 2006-2007 that you did like?

Thanks again,

Henry

Dear Henry:

I'd have gone with you on "L.A. Confidential."  Regarding 2006, I liked "World Trade Center."  I didn't hate "Factotum," although it's not in the same league as "Barfly."  I didn't hate "The Last King of Scotland."  "Find Me Guilty" was okay.  I liked "Longford," which was an HBO movie.  I was amused by the first third of "Idiocracy."  That's about it.  Now that it's '08 I'll get all the '07 movies on cable.  The few I bothered to go see I didn't like.

Josh

Name:              Kevin
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

Forest Whitaker was good/scary in LAST KING OF SCOTLAND, but the film takes place from the doctor's point of view and I never care about him, nor do I buy the ending.

I've seen PURSUIT OF HAPPYNESS three times and it's almost a great movie for the first half, and would make a good triple bill with KRAMER VS KRAMER and PAPER CHASE. If anything's keeping it back, its those music replacing drama scenes that seem to appear in every movie.

Dear Kevin:

I saw "The Last King of Scotland," and Forrest Whitaker is indeed terrific, the setting is dramatic, the relationship between the doctor and Amin is an interesting, but the writing of the doctor's character is thin, and the utter lack of a dramatic arc, or any subtext or theme, ultimately undoes the film.  It seemed to me that they should have spent a bit more time at the beginning in Scotland establishing his relationship with his father, and what the problem was between them that caused him flee to Africa, then have the father position get filled by Amin and the same problem occurs, or something.  As it is I didn't really care about the doctor, and it didn't help that he keeps having sex with other men's wives (or at least trying). It's one more modern example of a story that could easily have been good had more time and effort been put into the writing.

Josh

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

Josh,

Just to clarify for you, N.L.E. means "Non-Linear Editing" system like Avid or final Cut Pro.

It is much easier to sync out of sync visuals with audio with these edit systems and i had to do it on one the short films I shot and cut some years ago because the Director could not afford to do a sync transfer to the film, so we transfered the sound to one Beta and the film to another, and I synced the footage using the slate clap. It wasn't too hard and I mastered it pretty well.

It helps to master both the film and the sound in sequence and try and get matching timecodes if possible on your master tapes.

-Scott

Dear Scott:

Thanks for the clarification, as always.  So there's a new acronym to deal with, eh?  N.L.E.  Okay, fine.  I've never tried to synch up picture and sound on an N.L.E., but I assume it must be easier than on film. Nevertheless, it's still better to shoot in synch.

Josh

Name:              Henry
E-mail:

Josh,

Let me start off by saying I love your site. It's nice to see someone in the industry voice his opinions so candidly. Even though I can't say I agree with you all the time, I do find your honesty refreshing amongst all the ass kissing that goes on in Hollywood. That said, you asked a previous poster if they could name any good screenplays from the last ten years. Well, I would like to take a shot at this. I know you'll disagree with most of my choices, but anyway, here it goes, off the top of my head, in no particular order. American Beauty, Being John Malkovich, Memento, Pan's Labyrinth, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, The Sixth Sense, Magnolia, Juno, Secretary, O Brother, Where Art Thou?, Dirty Pretty Things, Talk To Her, The Departed (sorry), Eastern Promises. Again, I'm sure you disagree with most if not all of these. I just thought I'd chime in with my two cents.

Good luck to you,
Henry

Dear Henry:

Your two cents is worth as much as mine -- two cents.  I haven't seen "Juno," "Dirty Pretty Things" or "Eastern Promises," but otherwise I completely disagree with your whole list other than "The Sixth Sense" and "Talk to Her," which I enjoyed, but it's totally left my mind (other than the guy climbing into the giant vagina).  Several of the films mentioned, like "Being John Malkovich," "Eternal Sunshine," "Magnolia," "O Brother, Where Art Thou" and "The Departed" I would go so far as to say are really fine examples of bad screenwriting -- stories that are going nowhere, have no point, and are belabored beyond endurance.  I think "Magnolia" stands out as one of the truly monumental pieces of shit in film history: minimally an hour too long, stupifyingly repetitive, and with possibly the worst ending of any movie ever made (and that's saying something).  Had P.T. Anderson been anywhere in the vicinity after I left that film I'd have happily beaten the crap out of him and taken my money back.  Both "Pan's Labyrinth" and "Secretary" seemed so awful that I bailed less than halfway through.  But hey, different strokes for different folks.

Josh

Name:              Bob
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

I viewed the movie The Last King of Scotland.  I thought it was pretty good.  Forest Whittaker was good as Amin.  The main problem with the movie is that the central story is fictitious wrapped in a historical story.  However, the movie was suspensful.  There was use of jump cuts, however, it was effectively done, as opposed to The New World, which used them while the same dialog was going on.  H

Have you seen the Last King of Scotland yourself, and do you think that making a fictional story out of historical events is tricky business?

Dear Bob:

I have not seen it yet, but I assure you I'll watch it as soon as it pops up.  Forrest Whitaker got an Oscar for it, and he looks like he deserved it, so that's reason enough.  As for adding fictional aspects to true stories, it all depends on how you do it.  Some of our best stories are fiction injected into true life events, like "Ben Hur" or "Gone With the Wind."  In my script "Teddy Roosevelt in the Bad Lands," I added the fight scene between the Marquis de Mores and TR because it just seemed like it should be there, and that bit of fiction is what caused me to want to write the script in the first place.  I wanted to fix history.  I've always admired General Lew Wallace's concept for "Ben Hur," of injecting an epic action story into the story of Jesus, and then using Jesus's super powers to resolve his story and get a happy ending.  So, it's all how you do it.

Josh

Name:              Kevin
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

Whoa whoa whoa, I didn't mean to imply that all your screenplays sucked. Running Time was good, and If I Had A Hammer was good once it got started 20 min in (with 1hr 40 min to go, that qualifies).

Dear Kevin:

I'm glad we got that straight, I'd hate think I've been totally wasting my time for the past 30 years.  The bottom line of all this is, if you need to make art, then you just do.  I need to make movies and write, but that doesn't necessarily mean that I'm adept at either one.  For example, it doesn't matter how many times knowledgable people tell me that Abstract Expressionism is great, meaningful art, since it neither emotionally moves me nor technically impresses me, I don't like it.  For me you can take all the Jackson Pollacks and all the Rothkos and just throw them out.  I'll take Rembrandt or Van Gogh or Monet's worst pencil sketch on their worst day over all of it.  That's art.  Movies, if their not sequels or remakes, have the vague posssibility of rising to the level of art on rare occasions, although generally they don't. Whether you like "Hammer" or not isn't really important to me.  I'd prefer if you liked it, but the fact remains I didn't make it for you.  I made it for me.  It's something I had to do, for whatever the reasons, and I did it.  It's 35mm, color, 117 minutes, and you can take it or leave it.

Josh

Name:              A.J.
E-mail:             ajky1111@hotmail.com

Hey Josh,

I am reading so many nasty messages to you in these last few batch of post! Whats wrong with people. I on the other hand have always found you to be of much use to people like me who so badly want to make films but have never thought about the possibility happening outside of their dreams.I have never worked on a film that is now considered a cult classic. I have never worked on a highly ranked T.V. show then went on to make two features for a pretty popular cable network.Maybe someday I will. However, even if I didnt like your movies that doesnt change that your one step ahead of me right now buddy. If your a footnote in the history of filmmaking, then I am a tiny blot of ink that was accidentally smeared on the bottom corner of the page somewhere.

  With that being said thank you for all the tips in your book about writing and blocking shots and moving the camera particularly. Without those my new film "The Last Stop" would be a mess and would not be ready in time to hit the festivals I want.

   No heres my question. You mentioned once that it was a nightmare to sync all your dialouge up after recording it to tape.Do you still think this is a bad idea today? Even if I am using a N.L.E system? Because that seems to be one of the cheapest options for me since I already have the equipment and it will only cost me $20 per 75 minutes of sound to transfer.

Dear A.J.:

I'm glad to be of service.  I don't know what an N.L.E. sound system is, but if it records in synch, then you're fine.  If you're not recording in synch it will definitely be a nightmare.  In one long dialog scene in TSNKE, with Stryker and Sally in the car at the A&W, the camera and the synch recorder didn't resolve, meaning they never got into synch, and it was a bloody nightmare to fix.  You end up having to move every word back and forth trying to find its correct position.  Good luck.

Josh

Name:              Kevin
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

There's no defending Alien Apocalypse because even if you had all the money and all the time you needed, it would still be beneath Battlefield Earth.

If you had all the money and all time on a great screenplay, I have no doubt you could pull it off, but you're very intent on only directing your own movies no matter whether they're good or bad.

Do you have no doubt that your comedy films you're attempting to get made will be better?

Dear Kevin:

Well!  And what's your idea of a great screenplay?  Can you name one from the last ten years?  I certainly hope that my next film will be good, but who knows?  Maybe it'll suck, just like all my other films and scripts.  I just do the best I can.

Josh

Name:              Jim Erricson
E-mail:             faithyell@aol.com

Dear Josh:         

You're pretty harsh on almost every filmmaker. Why is it i never see you review Raimi pictures, or rag on his horrendous Spiderman series. Especially the putrid third installment, that seems to be everything you rail against in this business. With a 300 million dollar price tag to boot. THE GIFT. FOR THE LOVE OF THE GAME? C'mon man, he has devolved like no other. Speak up hypocrite.

Dear Jim:

Yeah, well I just bet you're ugly (since we're name-calling), and probably as stupid as a box of rocks.  I have made my feelings about comic book movies very, very clear over the years.  If you haven't got the wherewithal to look around the site a bit to find out what you're talking about, that's your problem, not mine.  Meanwhile, I didn't pay money to see "Spider Man 3," you did, therefore you have made a clear statement to Columbia Pictures that you wholeheartedly support the Spider Man series and want more.  If you don't want more, stop paying to see them.   You say, "Especially the putrid third installment," from which I take that you thought the first and second installments were better.  Why?  As my friend said of the third film, "There were too many super villians."  My response was, "How many people have to dress up in colorful leotards before it becomes absurd?  So, one super hero and one super villian are the limit?"  You go on to say, "[Sam Raimi] has devolved like no other."  Really?  So, there was a big step down between "Evil Dead" and "Spider Man"?  Or did the big step down come after "Darkman?"  Get real.  Sam hasn't devolved anywhere.  He's making exactly the films he wants to make.  They're not the movies I want to see, but then, I'm not the audience he's going after.  You, on the other hand, are just full of shit.

Josh

Name:              Manfred
E-mail:             nethrfriend@aol.com

Becker, you will ultimately be rememberred as a loud mouth fool.  Your talent willnever match your bombast.If you didnt have a website, you would be even more of the nothing than you are. I mean it's actually guilty pleasure to watch you pontificate about film, and criticize any other working living being.Especially after watching your films. The ones available that is. Usually through YOUTUBE, as no distributor has ever given you the light of day. Your movies are unreleaseable, and unwatchable. IF I HAD A HAMMER looks like it was lit by some first year film student circa 1984.THe over the top acting,is as uninvolving as the amateur dialogue. The great debate is who is actually a worse writer/director, you of course, or Ed Burns? Yet you expound as if you were a young Welles. YOu blame everyone else for your films shortcomings. Josh Becker, kneel down to the power of the internet, your deity, because you are an angry moron with with not enough talent to even do XENA justice. So don your khakis, regurgitate your worthless indie film , self published pap, and pretend you are one of the greats.You are quite the film historian. Enjoy it,and others exploits, successes and adventures.You will never be so much as a footnote within these annals.

Dear Manfred:

I think you mean Ed Wood, not Ed Burns.  If you're going to get on the internet and expound, you might want to check a fact or two.  Regarding "no distributor has ever given you the light of day," that's just not true.  My first film, TSNKE, is on it's fourth distribution deal over the past 22 years; my second film, "Lunatics," was sold outright to Columbia Tri-Star, who I suppose you could consider something of a distributor; "Running Time" is on its third distribution deal.  Meanwhile, I've never self-published anything.  Yes, I may just be a footnote to the history of movies, but you're not even that.  You're nothing.  So, happy New Year, fuck you, and drop dead.

Josh

Name:              Brian
E-mail:             mackbrockton@aol.com

Hey Josh,

I was perusing your site and I was wondering if you ever compile lists of what you think are the most overrated films of the year and/or of all time? I enjoy reading your reviews, even though I don't always agree with them.

Dear Brian:

No, I have no lists of the overrated or worst films.  Hell, I don't even bother seeing most movies anymore, at least not when they're new.  And when I finally do see them, usually a year later on TV, they're even worse than I suspected they might be.  Foolishly, I saw "No Country for Old Men," but no one's even bothering to defend that film.  As my buddy said, "No more movies about hit men.  It's a cliche that's been completely beaten into the dirt." As far as overrated goes, how about every single Best Picture Oscar winner for the past 15 years.  A little joke of mine all this past year was asking people, "What won Best Picture last year?"  Nobody, and I mean nobody, could remember "The Departed."  On reflection, it may be Scorsese's least impressive movie.  Honestly, I still can't believe that I live in a time period when horseshit like "Crash" or "Chicago" or "Million Dollar Baby" win Best Picture.  To me Best Picture conjures up images of "Lawrence of Arabia" or "Patton" or "The Godfather," not some dumbass, simpleminded, entirely unbelievable girl's boxing story where she ends up breaking her neck on the stool!  Or a shitty muscial performed by people who can't sing or dance.  Or a "message" movie with no message.

Happy New Year.

Josh

Name:              Kurt Yaeger
E-mail:             lameattack@hotmail.com

Dear Josh:         

I read the FAQ's section on asking for an "in". That is not what I am doing. What I am doing is asking if I could send you my headshot and resume for your files so if you have an audition in the future you could consider me. WHY? Because I am an amputee. Not many people realize that there are good actors who happen to be amputees. I recently was a Guess Star on the CBS TV show "Without a Trace" airs in Jan 08. I have no discernable limp so I could play a normal, running around guy who later looses his leg, etc...
Anyhow, my question then is could I, and if so, where can I send my information?
This is shear will!!! lol
Thanks for your time,
Kurt Yaeger
www.kurtyaeger.com

Dear Kurt:

I appreciate your desire to get into the business, but I don't have an actor's file.  When the time comes I work with a casting director and they're the ones that keep files of actor's headshots.  Good luck to you.

Josh

Name:              David R.
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

Have you regretted at all not taking the offer to make "The Horribleness"?

Dear David:

You're mistaken.  The making of "The Horribleness" is based on Bruce Campbell's availability.  The producer initially wanted to shoot in Feb-March, '08, but Bruce couldn't do it because "Burn Notice" was supposed to start shooting in Jan.  Well, now it's not going to start in Jan., so I'm hoping we can get the deal going again.  There's nothing I'd like more than to shoot that film.  So, we'll see . . .

Happy New Year.

Josh

Name:              Kevin
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

Your material is probably always going to be better than you, but that doesn't mean you can't milk a good movie out of it. That's why I chose to see I AM LEGEND over the rest of them last night.

It wasn't a bad movie, Will Smith was perfectly good as Neville and it certainly had its scares, but they've completely removed the irony from the story. Why did they do that? I'd have easily traded that scene where Neville creepily quotes Shrek word for word to the kid to show how desperate and lonely he's been.

It's not like the first two movies were great, but I thought it was interesting that Neville lived simply because he was the one authority telling everyone that the virus wasn't a threat and that the main villain was the one person who was trying to warn everyone. And that by the end of the story, Neville winds up being the monster because everyone else has adapted into a new society.

They ripped out all the irony simply so they could have a scary fast moving zombie film, but once again, Will Smith was good. He has a character arc where he's put a bunch of mannequins in the video store so he has someone to talk to, and a running joke that someday he'll get the courage to ask the woman mannequin out, and when he finally does, he breaks down in tears because she is unable to talk back to him.

Dear Kevin:

Yes, it's a remake of "Omega Man," as opposed to a new version of Richard Matheson's "I Am Legend."  To not use Matheson's ending, which has only been used on "The Last Man on Earth" so far, is sheer stupidity.  Everything in that story is leading to that ending.  In a world of vampires the one non-vampire is the monster.  Once again, a pox on all remakes.

Josh

Name:              Alice Schultz
E-mail:             aeschultz333@hotmail.com

Dear Josh,

Well if you do get around to reading Ishiguro, my one thought would be maybe don't start with "The Unconsoled," which is something of a departure for him.  It may be great but I wouldn't know because I didn't understand a word of it, and intentional obscurity isn't his usual style.

Now that you mention the decline of Merchant Ivory, I just looked at a list of their titles and found I've never even heard any of them talked about since "The Remains of the Day" except "The Golden Bowl," which I did catch and thought not bad but forgettable.  The chillingly kindly discussion I'm seeing says that Merchant Ivory half went out of style and half just "lost their knack for picking the right subjects."

It's December 24, which is a little far along for the whole purpose -- but if it ain't out of keeping with the sityouation, Happy Holidays!

Alice

Dear Alice:

Thank you.  Happy holidays to you, too.  Regarding Merchant/Ivory, it took them 30 years to discover the right subject, from the early 1960s to the late 1980s, and about 20 interesting, if undistiguished, pictures, then they had it for five years and three films, then lost it again.  I thought "The Golden Bowl" was a real nothing, although not nearly as bad as "A Soildier's Daughter Never Cries," which was awful.  And what the hell were they thinking casting Nick Nolte as Thomas Jefferson in "Jefferson in Paris"?  I did kind of like "Le Divorce," although it went retarded in it's last 30 minutes.

Josh

Name:              Ian Seymour
E-mail:             iseymour@panix.net

Merry Christmas, Josh!!!

You may not believe in Jesus, but Jesus believes in you.

Lots of love and warm wishes,

Ian Seymour

Dear Ian:

I'm Jewish, just like Jesus was, and neither one of us believe in Christmas. Jesus and his disciples were all Jewish. Christmas is for gentiles who believe that Jesus was the son of god, but he was mistaken in his religion. Quite frankly, I think everybody is mistaken in their religions.  Christmas was originally a Pagan holiday celebrating the Winter Solstice.  So, happy Solstice.

Josh

Name:              Cedric V.
E-mail:             cedric.vara@gmail.com

Hey Josh,

  I recently completed shooting Stevan Mena's film "Malevolence 2," I hear you might be working with him in the future on a project.  Hope to see you on set in the states one of these days...also have to buy your book.  He raves about it, says it's the best.  Seen any good flicks lately?  I know it's a long shot since you hate everything.  How about the new Coen bros. feature?

Dear Cedric:

In your next email you went to the trouble of reminding me who you are, but I remember you and Anna quite well.  Were it not for you two I might've had to strangle at least one of the Bulgarian crew members.  Yes, I'm hoping to make a film for Steven and his company pretty soon, if all the stars line up.  Maybe you'll work on it.  Give my best to Anna, and good hearing from you.   I did see "No Country for Old Men," and yes, I did hate it.

Josh

Name:              David Sarnecki
E-mail:             DeadManWalking316@hotmail.com

Hello Mr. Becker. 

I'm a big fan of yours, so I hope you don't take this the wrong way...  I've been reading your entertaining Reviews section, and as you slam Gladiator, and Matrix and pour on various snide comments, I can't help but think "this is the guy who made alien apocalypse...  Where does he get off?"

Dear David:

What has one thing got to do with the other?  Not to mention that I reviewed both of those films previous to making AA.  But should I have changed or taken down the reviews once I had made AA?  I'll go one step futher here -- I seriously don't believe that Ridley Scott or the Wachowski bros. could have done any better than I did in 17 days in Bulgaria.  In fact, I'd go so far as to say I don't think any of them could have brought any movie in in 17 days, let alone in Bulgaria.  All movies are not created equal.  There's a world of difference between having $50-100 million and months and months to shoot, and having less than a million, 17 days, and a crew that doesn't speak English.  As Leonard Maltin says of "The Matrix," it has "a very high MJQ (Mumbo-Jumbo Quotient), and keeps changing it's 'rules'."  With all of its obvious faults, and lack of budget, I don't think AA has nearly the MJQ of "The Matrix," not to mention that my script actually has a hint of irony. Also, I'll watch Bruce Campbell over Keanu Reeves any day of the week.  And, as I've said a number of times over the years, is Roger Ebert or any other film critic's opinion more vaild than mine because they don't actually know how to make movies, and never have?  Or is it that they're simply employed by a newspaper?  My opinion is as valid as anyone else's, only I have experience doing this.

Josh

Name:              Kevan R. Craft
E-mail:             k_r_craft@sky.com

Hi Josh

Read your article "Bailing Out Of LA"..

WOW, what a fantastic article.. I've often wondered if anybody whose worked on LA could be honest and tell it how it is and you sure did that.

I'm sorry you experienced difficulties with achieving your goals wanting to make a classic movie.. We all want that ourselves to see something on the screen which matters, which speaks to us and which reverberates and taps into our soul once in a while.

Such a shame LA and Hollywood has gone the way you describe in your article/essay.. I'm British and always wanted to write a screenplay or two and get it made into a movie by a dedicated director with vision much like yourself but I guess the corporates have turned Hollywood into big business and they're are not concerned with art but more so with commerce..

I feel for you. It must have been a big wrench leaving behind what you once perceived as your dream but like you say, you live in Oregon and you have wonderfully scenic country there just begging for you to make a Western.. And you have your buddy Bruce Campbell too.. I should do it man, make a Western that's so damn good, put it into Sundance and some other festivals and see how you do..

Thanks for sharing in the article/essay can't have been easy to write but there again you must feel you can now get on with your life and produce your films on your own terms without pandering to anal types who have obviously been so badly potty trained that all they think of is screwing everybody.. That's the Capitalist ethic for you, screw everybody for the money and fuck everything else!

Do that Western, Josh.. And if you'd fancy a screenplay anytime get in touch.. I wouldn't want any money, just the opportunity of writing a screenplay for classic movie would do for me.. Who wants money?

Again, thanks for sharing.. Get in touch anytime..

Best regards


Kevan R. Craft

P.S. I live in the North of England about 17 miles from Liverpool where The Beatles came from.. In a county called Cheshire where Lewis Carroll, who wrote "Alice In Wonderland", came from..

Dear Kevan:

I only lived in Oregon for a year, 2002, then I moved back to my old hometown of Detroit, and I've been here ever since.  Bruce still lives in Oregon.  Anyway, I hadn't read that essay since I wrote it at the end of 2001, and I agree with you, it was pretty good, and it expressed my feelings very well.  I haven't missed LA once since I bailed.  I've been back several times, and it's always fun to visit, and it's always even better leaving and coming home.

Meanwhile, I don't feel like I need to make "classic" movies, I just need to make *my* movies.  The next generation can decide what's a classic.

Josh

Name:              Keith
E-mail:             kmcgraw5502@comcast.net

Dear Josh:         

If you have not already, may I suggest you read "The Lost Eagles" by Robert Graves, published 1955, Knopf, NY.  It is a very well written similar story about the Varus Eagles, and a Varus scion who tracks them down.

Dear Keith:

I didn't know the book existed.  If Robert Graves covered the subject, I'm sure he did it better than me.

Josh

Name:              Alice Schultz
E-mail:             aeschultz333@hotmail.com

Dear Josh,

I for one love "The Dead."  Near the end when the guy has that soliliquy and there's that one line which I won't quote here, the moment is totally epiphanic in James Joyce's own sense of the word. I've never forgotten it.

This reminds me, other than that you've approved "The Remains of the Day" on your film list, do you like the novels of Kazuo Ishiguro?  Since he's been called "one of our most eloquent poets of loss" and works in something of the same mysterious way.

Alice

Dear Alice:

I haven't read anything by Kazuo Ishiguro.  What do you suggest?  I really do like the film of "Remains of the Day" very much.  Aside from Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson both being great, Christopher Reeve was really good, too.  So what happened to Merchant/Ivory?  After making three terrific pictures in fairly short order, "Room With a View," "Howard's End" and "Remains of the Day," they haven't made a decent movie since.

Josh

Name:              Kevin
E-mail:

<<Regarding books to be adapated to film, I wouldn't want to be responsible for fucking up a book I like into a bad movie.>>

Oh, Poppycock. You're only as good as your material. Funny you mentioned COME BACK LITTLE SHEBA, I watched that a few days before I read that post, and it really seems like a perfect movie. Perfectly written, perfectly shot, perfectly acted, and who wouldn't be upset with marrying a slob with a voice like Bugs Bunny.

I like cycle they had going that the younger tenant is possibly making the same mistake and going to ruin her life getting herself pregnant and the frustration it causes the older couple. It's like watching her future by looking at Shirley Booth and Booth's youth by looking at her. Just like DEAD END and FAT CITY.

Dear Kevin:

"You're only as good as your material," which is true; but your material can certainly be better than you.  Using Kurt Vonnegut as an example, his material was far better than the abilities of Alan Rudolph with "Breakfast of Champions," or Keith Gordon with "Mother Night" or Steven Paul with "Slapstick."  Luckily for Vonnegut, George Roy Hill was up to the task with "Slaughterhouse Five," and Mark Robson did a pretty good job with "Happy Birthday, Wanda June."  So for Vonnegut, 60% of the time his material was FAR better than the movies that got made from it.  Considering just how badly Alan Rudolph and Steven Paul fucked up Vonnegut's books, I wonder how they sleep at night.

William Inge, on the other hand, had almost entirely good movies made from his terrific material.  I'm a big fan of "Picnic," "Bus Stop" (which is probably Marilyn Monroe's best performance), "Splendor in the Grass" (one of Inge's two original screenplays, and an Oscar winner for Best Original Screenplay), and "Dark at the Top of the Stairs," as well as "Come Back, Little Sheba."

Josh

Name:              David R.
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

I'm glad to hear you think "The Dead" is a good film. I plan on checking it out very soon as I found a vhs copy of it for cheap (it's not been released on dvd in the U.S.). I also was browsing the imdb forum threads for "The Dead" and came across an interesting review--and one sentence in particular: "John Huston was seriously ill when he made his final achievement and it's thoroughly his testament: uncompromising, difficult, a thousand miles away from crazes and fashions, it will stand as the best "last film" you can ever dream of."

That got me thinking about the whole topic of "last films". I thought it might be interesting to discuss. Any that stand out to you as particularly good? Or, if you like, how would you rank the final films from your 20 favorite directors?

Dear David:

That quote might well be true.  Many great director's last movies stink, like Ford, Wyler, Hitchcock, Billy Wilder, and Kubrick.  Cecil B. DeMille's last film as director was "The Ten Commandments," which is possibly his best film.  Elia Kazan's last film is "The Last Tycoon," which doesn't exactly come off, but it's a pretty good attempt, with an unbeatable cast.  Anyway, "The Dead" is certainly one of the best last films of a great director.

Josh

Name:              David R.
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

Is director John Huston's last film, "The Dead", any good?

Dear David:

I liked it quite a bit, and I've seen it several times.  It's really a perfect visulization of James Joyce's story, which takes place almost entirely at a dinner party.  Don't expect big fireworks, but it's very well done, and moving, too.

Josh

Name:              Lee Price
E-mail:             lee.price@gcapmedia.com

Hi Josh

Thank you so much for watching our short 'Camping'. Glad I made you laugh/choke! You're the first person to comment on the technique in this short; as the director I wanted to, visually, stay out of the way of the actors and the story, which are paramount. I wanted to enhance what was there, but not be 'flashy'. Your example of the heaven-view of Viv on the beach is an example of this approach. I hope to make more films like this in 2008. Mini DV allowed me to shoot this for £50 and use an improvisational approach (lots of takes). I use my Arri BL to shoot shorts, also, but the approach (due to money) has to be completely different to 'Camping', i.e. a strict storyboartd and limited number of takes.

So I use the tools (film/tape) to suit the project, all on limited budgets.

Thanks again for your time, mate.


Best


Lee

Dear Lee:

Terrific use of mini-DV.  You said, "I wanted to enhance what was there, but not be 'flashy'," which is another way of defining "good direction," and it's almost a lost concept.  It's the opposite approach of most everything you see these days, particularly independent, low-budget films, where it's all hand-held with no rhyme or reason, but it was easy for the filmmaker. As though I, the viewer, gives the slightest shit about what's easy or hard for the filmmaker.  The direction and camerawork are there to enhance the story.  If that's not what you're doing, then you're wrong.  That really is one of the best short films I've ever seen.  Very good work.

Josh

Name:              Chuck
E-mail:

Josh:

I'm surprised you actually shelled out the cash to see No Country for Old Men in the theatre. From what I heard about it before seeing it ("It's so unconventional"; "The ending is so thought-provoking"), I figured you'd avoid it like the plague. I've always been on the fence about the Coens (Fargo and most of The Hudsucker Proxy, in particular, I like)--but No Country was really, really bad. Specifically, the Coens seemed to put absolutely no effort into their script. They basically just adapted Cormac McCarthy's (mediocre) novel very literally, and forgot that they work in an entirely different medium.

Is there any book that you, personally, want to adapt to the big screen?

Dear Chuck:

I hadn't been to a movie in months, and this film got 100% positive reviews, as well as an it-couldn't-be-any-better-under-any-circumstances review from the NY Times.  There's a solid chance it'll win Best Picture, too, so I wanted to head it off at the pass.  The ending of "No Country" reminds me of Luis Bunuel's last great film, "The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie," where a group of people keep sitting down to eat dinner, and keep being interrupted.  At one point, just as they're about to eat, the army comes bursting in, and as the officer is explaining why they've intruded on this dinner party, a private steps forward and says, "Sir, I had a dream last night."  The officer says, "Quiet everyone, the private had a dream last night.  Go ahead, private, tell us your dream."  What's so "unconventional" about Tommy Lee Jones's dream at the end of "No Country" is that it means nothing, is coming entirely out of left field, and doesn't sum anything up. It may well be a decent book (I haven't read it), but it's a crappy movie.

Regarding books to be adapated to film, I wouldn't want to be responsible for fucking up a book I like into a bad movie.  Philip Roth's "American Pastoral" is a great, Pulitzer Prize-winning novel that hasn't been made into a movie, but I don't think I'd like to adapt it into a film.  It always seemed to me that Kurt Vonnegut's books "The Sirens of Titan" and "Cat's Cradle" would both make good movies, but I don't necessarily want to make them.

Josh

Name:              Andrew
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

I'm totally with you on "No Country," and just because you've laid out ground (and because this shit is getting so acclaimed) I really want to chime in.

Tommy Lee Jones mumbles and plays the "I'm too old for this shit" cop. Not too interested in being involved in the actual film itself, he just visits locations and characters to pontificate.

Javier Bardem (who has been excellent in other films) skulks around the film like a bored spectre of evil. Don't expect any character development. He flips a coin to decide the fate of his victims, which is as resonant as when the villainous Two Face did it in the Batman series. He seems as if he was ripped from a cartoon, even carrying a requisite unique weapon of choice.

Realizing they must tell us something about this character, the Coens assign Woody Harrelson (reprising his Larry Flynt accent in a throwaway role) to tell us that the serial killer "has his principles." The movie's strict somber tone furthers the idea that this is an original philosophic breakthrough.

It's truly the antithesis of what seemingly every other reviewer has called an achievement in the craft of storytelling. By the time the guy was buying tents with poles to make an instrument to get the suitcase out of the vent it had lost all sense of dramatic function and logic for me.

Dear Andrew:

Well, at least there are two of us.  It's one more empty, hollow, meaningless exercize in cinematic masturbation, in which the Coen bros. specialize.  We're apparently in a day and age where you can fool most of the people most of time.  I suspect that most people's expectations are now so low that if the film isn't based on a comic book, or isn't the third in the series, then it must be original and intelligent.

Josh

Name:              Mark James
E-mail:

Hello Josh, just wanted to say I read your book and found it to be very informative, invaluable to filmmakers actually, I would put up there with the best books on the subject.

I do however have a quick question, if a character in a film I made wears copyright clothing ( Adidas for example ) or a T-shirt featuring a photo of Mohammed Ali, would that come under "fair use" or would it be a copyright infringement ?

I know that obviously you can not give legal advice, but it seems to me if you clad a character in sports wear without specifically drawing focus it should be fair use right ?

Dear Mark:

That's cerainly Fair Use and I wouldn't worry about it.  If you're not making a feature, I wouldn't worry about any copyright issues at all. Meanwhile, I'm glad you enjoyed my book.  The new book, "Rushes," is crawling slowly toward publication, and ought to out fairly soon (like early '08).

Josh

Name:              Tim
E-mail:             NansemondNative

Josh,

I just got through watching "Big Bad Mama" which I last saw when I was about 12 years old. Way back then it was Angie Dickinson's nude scenes that did it for me.

Looking at it today I can see it is a pretty good movie on a comedic level. I still like Angie's nude scenes too!

The performances by Shatner, Dickinson, Skeritt and the two actresses playing the daughters were cohesive and when combined with the other script elements (like the stripper with the tassles at Town Hall and the Sheriff that kept dipping his finger into the jelly doughnut) made the picture very entertaining.

You could see the production value in this little movie and some awesome cinematography. I personally like a beauty shot or two in most any movie. If you happen to be shooting outside in certain parts of California I guess the beauty shots are pretty easy to get.

I found it very entertaining in most all respects Josh.

Any thoughts you might like to share on Roger Corman and/or his work Josh?

Tim

Dear Tim:

I've never seen it.  I think there's an inherently uninteresting streak in Roger Corman's work, an emptiness and a lack of humor.  I want to like his movies more than I ever end up doing, even the Poe/Price films.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:         

Okay. It was brought to my attention that somebody was throwing my name out there like it was candy. JohnQAnybody, I believe.

In regards to the Spider-man and Superman stuff he was babbling about, I throw out a lot of hypotheticals, and I defend the things I like (not Superman though, I'm not much of a fan) even when I know it's pointless and I'm never gonna change the other person's mind. I hope that explains that to Mr. Anybody.

Also, I wish people would stop referring to me as "kid." I don't like it when hot girls do it, and I don't like it when people I don't know do it ... but I suppose I'll never be able to stop it.

I should say something so as not to waste your time, shouldn't I, Mr. Becker? I saw Running Time not too long ago, and I loved it. It's made me decide I want to try the "one continuous shot" effect. Once again, you've inspired me, sir.

Best of luck with all your work. I shall go into hiding again now.

Jeremy Milks

Dear Jeremy:

I'm glad you liked my film.  Best of luck to you.

Josh

Name:              Lee Price
E-mail:             lee.price@gcapmedia.com

Hi Josh

The short is 26 minutes long, but I had to chop it up into three parts so I could upload it onto Youtube. For the rest of the story you can watch Camping (part two) and camping (part three). There are links to the other two parts from the previous link. Sorry I didn't explain the breakdown of the film! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pus_7bO27hE

BTW, I've sent one of my novels to an agent and they said it wouldn't survive in today's competitive market place. Maybe that was a compliment?!?

Lata


Lee

Dear Lee:

I'm so sorry!  You absolutely have a complete story, and it's wonderfully well-shot.  The performances are all very good, and meeting Viv made me laugh so hard for a minute I almost choked.  Beautiful camerawork and compositions.  That's a really terrific short film.  Nice high angle looking down on them on the beach.  Snappy end song.  And you've got a brilliant sunset along the way.  Very nice use of wide angle shots.  Bravo!  I apologize again for my hasty critique.

Josh

Name:              Rrrrruby
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

The Coen brothers have hit the cinematic jack-pot again with No Country for Old Men...one of the best films of the last several years. That might not be saying a lot, but it's saying something. What's your history with the Coen bros? If you had to pick a favorite or two of their works, what would you pick? How about least favorites? Personally I'll stick Fargo and Man Who Wasn't There in the former category (perhaps along with No Country), O Brother-Ladykillers in the latter.

If you really want to have a happy holiday weekend, I'd suggest seeing this film on the big screen with the surround sound. If it doesn't keep you on edge, I don't know what will.

P.S. I'd really like to hear your thoughts on the "ultra-controversial" ending.

Dear Rrrrruby:

Well, I saw "No Country for Old Men" and I was not impressed.  As with so many movies these days, it has a totally insufficient Act I.  Instead, it plunges directly into the action without having properly set up the lead character (Josh Brolin), so I never gave the slightest shit about him, nor anyone else in the film.  The main motivation for the entire story is so stupid that it really negated the entire rest of the film for me.  Brolin comes across a drug deal gone bad in the desert, with dead guys all over the place, as well as one wounded guy, a truck full of drugs, and a bag containing 2 million dollars in cash, which he decides to take.  Then he returns a few hours later with a jug of water for the wounded guy, is spotted by the evil hitman, and is then  pursued for the rest of the film. Well, I'm sorry, but if you decide to take the money you ain't coming back to give water to the wounded guy.  That's nothing but stupid, stupid, stupid melodrama.  Meanwhile, this psycho-thug with a bad haircut walks around out in the open with a 3 foot tall air tank conected to a gun for killing cows, as well as a 5 foot shotgun with a silencer.  Beyond that, Tommy Lee Jones's sheriff character does NOTHING, and has no purpose in the story other than to piss and moan that 1980 just ain't like the old days.  As for the "ultra-controversial" ending, which isn't in the slightest controversial, it flatly doesn't work.  The dreams the sheriff relates have no impact, no resonance, seem nothing more than muddled and meaningless, then it cuts to black.  And even though I greatly respect the DP, Roger Deakins, I think this is one of his lesser efforts.  I am not a fan of the Coen brothers, and this film did not convert me.

Josh

Name:              david
E-mail:             david@electrohermit.com

Josh,

What advise can you offer for a writer maintaining his or her motivation and energy in the creative process, knowing full well that the script may never see the light of day?

Dear david:

Writers write.  You write because you have to write.  If you don't have to, you shouldn't.  As Andre Gide said, "If a young writer can refrain from writing, they certainly should."

Josh

Name:              Rick
E-mail:             teufeldoc_2@hotmail.com

Dear Josh:         

My question is do you plan to make this a film? I think if done correctly and detail accurately. This film could be a success for you as there are many Marines old and young that would see it. I'm curious because, I am a Hospital Corpsman with the Marines and a three tour veteran of Iraq. My buddies and I study this battle particularly. Would love to hear your take on this. Thanks

Dear Rick:

I take it you're referring to my script, "Devil Dogs: The Battle of Belleau Wood."  I certainly would like to make it into a film, but, alas, I don't have the financing.  My buddy, Gerry Kissell, at Charlie Foxtrot Ent. is presently adapting the script into a graphic novel in the hope of attracting the money to make the film that way.  I think it'll make a good graphic novel.  Did you like the script?  It has an heroic tone that I don't think you get to see in movies anymore, and I miss.

Josh

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

Josh,

I just wanted to add to the camera rental options in Michigan. Stratton Cameras is also an excellent place to rent cameras and they will be starting to rent the RED camera in Feb. which looks to be a great camera.

I used to know Lon Stratton very well when I lived in Michigan, and he is a really good guy and very helpful if you have a low budget project.

http://www.strattoncamera.com

-Scott

Dear Scott:

Good call, as usual.  Lon Stratton is a very nice guy, a talented DP, owns every piece of film equipment extant, and is terrifically helpful to young filmmakers.

Josh

Name:              Bob
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

Did 'Come back, Little Sheba'(1952), have any trouble getting past the Hays Code?

Dear Bob:

Not that I know of.  I don't see why it would, either.  There's no swearing or nudity.  It's an intelligent, adult drama; it's not dirty or offensive in anyway.  Most everything William Inge wrote ended being filmed after that, like: "Picnic," "Bus Stop," "Dark at the Top of the Stairs," "Splendor in the Grass," "All Fall Down," and "Bus Riley's Back in Town."  I think he was a terrific writer, and his plays and screenplays made great movies. "Splendor in the Grass," which was an original screenplays, and won an Oscar, seems far racier than "Come Back, Little Sheba."  My one gripe with that, by the way, is that Burt Lancaster is too young for his role.

Josh

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