Q & A    Archive
Page 157


Name:              Chowey
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

Wow...great response. This is my impersonation of Josh Becker talking about Before the Devil Knows You're Dead:

I liked it! I liked it when Albert Finney did this! I liked it when Philip Seymour Hoffman did that! It was good when this happened! And when that happened it was really good!
 
You ought to dust off and strap on those old film critic boots of yours and march around a little more before you start acting like king shit. Maybe you're softening in your old age.
 
Bottom line is this: the script was written by an asshole who epitomizes everything you hate about modern screenwriters. You not acknowledging that, or at very least accounting for it (like "wow, I was wrong all those years when I said disparaging things about modern screenwriters") represents a cognative dissonance in Becker-world akin to that in La-La Land Conservative world where Sarah Palin is President in 2012.
 
That's check...and we're approaching mate, old friend.
Dear Chowey:

Wait a minute, who the fuck are you?  What are your credentials?  Why are you bothering me?  I have an excellent idea: fuck off and drop dead.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:         

A note to the Miguel fellow asking about me. I'm still around like the webmaster said, my email is very public ... I'm not hard to find.

Second, to the webmaster, I was almost homeless. I fortunately never had to sleep in my car, but I did bounce around a little bit. All is better now though.

Thirdly, to Josh, because I feel like I shouldn't be wasting your time on this forum ... I'm admitting defeat. For the most part, I'm starting to agree with you on movies ... even the ones I always liked, upon recent rewatchings, I'm starting to notice things that piss me off as a filmmaker. I'm not completely 100% with you yet, because I still like a lot of stuff you hate, but I'm beginning to hate a lot of the stuff you hate too. And of course, I just about have always liked the films you've liked.

You may have rubbed off on me Becker. Oh how things can change in a year or two.

Dear Jeremy:

I'm sorry to hear about your misfortunes.  This has been a rough period for everybody.  Luckily, now that George Bush is on his way out I think all of our futures look brighter.  And I deeply apologize for rubbing off on you.

Josh

Name:              Giant Question Mark
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

You are enjoying more movies? Is this a good sign?
Dear GQR:

2007 wasn't the worst year for movies, although they certainly did pick one of the worst to give the Best Picture Oscar to.  I'd say that "Before the Devil Knows You're Dead," "American Gangster," "Michael Clayton," and "Atonement" were all better than "No Country For Old Men."  I'd say "Breach," "Disturbia," "Once" and "The Simpsons Movie" were, better, too.

Josh

Name:              Aaron Stroud
E-mail:

Dear Josh: 
       
I didn't see anything wrong with BEFORE THE DEVIL...

The beginning fit the saying the title is based on, his 30 minutes in Heaven was the trip to Rio. The irony is that he *wanted* the money, he didn't *need* it. He was perfectly stable at home, he felt he needed that Heaven in Rio to be happy, and his wife wanted to feel that way all the time, not just on a vacation.

I thought the ending could've been taken both ways. Is Albert Finney smothering him for revenge, or is he putting him out of his misery before the cops get to him? The last shot insinuates that Albert Finney is the only one who escapes to Heaven, because he does the right thing. He walks down the hospital corridor and it turns into bright white light.

I wonder what happened to Ethan Hawke when he escaped with the money?

Dear Aaron:

Me, too.  And that was a terrific scene with a tricky moment in it.  Hawke says, "Why don't you shoot me, too?" and Phillip Hoffman aims the gun at him and says, "Not a bad idea."  There's a long moment, then the insert of a finger on a trigger, and it's the woman shooting Hoffman.  The look on Ethan Hawke's face right there is brilliant.  He does a couple of stupified looks that I thought were great.

Josh

Name:              Chowey
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

After seeing DEVIL in the theatre, I immediately wanted to find out more about the writer, because I was shocked by how atrocious the script was. I looked him up and was not surprised to find that this was the very first script he had ever written, that he never studied screenwriting (and I don't mean 'in school,' I mean, like he never even tried to analyze the medium), that he barely outlined, that the finished film pretty much resembles his first draft, and that his two biggest inspirations for this "brilliant" script were the script for 'Reservation Road,'--which ended up going direct to video because the script was a piece of shit--and (and this is a QUOTE): "The Coen Brothers' A Simple Plan."

Uh...hello?

If there's anyone who knows what's wrong with that statement I know it's you, Josh, and it has nothing to do with either the films of the Coen Brothers or A Simple Plan, but how about the fact that THEY DIDN'T MAKE IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Did he misspeak and mean the Coen Brothers Fargo? Or Sam Raimi's Simple Plan? I don't know, and I don't really care, this guy is a bimbo, and his interviews, his plays (which I sought out out of curiosity--and they are BAD), and his sole screenplay reflects that.

This, to me, is a good example of what you usually rage against--a guy who has no sense of history, all he knows is he dug Pulp Fiction, Fargo, and A Simple Plan and decided to write a script like those (the script was originally written in the 90s...the next one he writes will probably be like Crash, Brokeback Mountain, and Little Miss Sunshine).

Btw, just google his name to find the interviews, I'm not gonna scout them out for links, but I remember one was for WGA and one was for Aint it Cool.

Every bit of this movie screamed AMATEUR in the writing department. In film school (and I should know, I went to two of them) it's all the kids who are screaming for attention who write scripts with pot, coke, and heroine use in them, as well as things like gay whore drug dealers, miserable and reprehensible characters without a shred of likeability, and zero sense of Aristotelian catharsis at the end of a long journey. I walked out of this movie feeling amazingly depressed, and not in a good way. I felt it was a waste of fine acting talent (no complaints there...except maybe the occasional hamming it up on the part of Hawke and Finney) and a waste of a year or two in the ever shortening life of Sidney Lumet, who has made some of my all-time favorite films (12 Angry, Fail Safe, Dog Day, and I'm very partial to Deathtrap and Prince of the City). I wanted to like this film, but I couldn't. "Hey, look at me, I'm writing a butt-fuck scene, and then a drug scene, and then shooting an old woman, and then showing what fucked up lives all these assholes have, assholes who don't even have an honor among thieves, and I'm throwing shit out of order because Quentin Tarantino won an Oscar for doing that, and...my scenes are almost all painfully long with contrived and controversial dialogue because I don't understand this medium whatsoever and I don't care to."

It's very easy to write tragedy, Josh, as I'm sure you know. It's not hard to not plan a plot, just let things spiral out of control for your characters. You may not care for Fargo or A Simple Plan, but those movies had suspense, ingenious twists, dark humor, and stellar production value. And characters who had an arc and weren't just archetypes.

If you disagree with any and all of what I just laid out, then I would like to know why. I would also really like to know if you think this is one of the best movies that has been made in the last several years and if so, then why, because I really don't see it.
Dear Chowey:

What vehemence.  But that's what art should cause.  I really liked "Before..." and I stick with my contention that it is, in my opinion, the best film of 2007.  I personally thought the heist-gone-wrong genre had played itself out (I being part of it with "Running Time"), but this story took it further than it's ever been taken. (**Spoiler Alert**)  To rob your parents' jewelry store and end up killing your own mother is having your heist go epically wrong.  I didn't feel like there was an unbelievable moment in the whole film.  When Phillip Seymour Hoffman finds out that his wife has been cheating on him with his brother, then lends her car fare, then he pulls the sheets off the bed and just falls over, I burst out laughing really hard both times I've seen it.  Events have gone so cosmically, profoundly wrong for this guy I thought it was spectacular. Yes, it's his own fault, but nevertheless, he's clearly human, and extremely well-portrayed by Phillip Seymour Hoffman, so I empathisized with him. Every action, as dumb as it may have been, seemed reasonably, and believably motivated to me.  The look on Phillip Hoffman's face as he kills those people by shooting them through a pillow is the most intense performance I saw in a film made in 2007.  And Albert Finney going to the old fence jeweler, whom he never liked, who never liked him, either, calls the guy a crook, then gets handed his own son's business card was a great dramatic moment.  I'll take this film over every film Quentin Tarantino has ever made, easy.  I don't believe his movies, and I do believe most of Sidney Lumet's movies.

Josh

Name:              miguel juarez
E-mail:

Dear Josh:
 
hello josh; whatever happened to jeremy milks and beth? are they still out there? what ended the communication?

regards,
 
miguel

Dear Miguel:

I don't know, people just come and go.

Josh

Webmaster's Note: Jeremy Milks was homeless for a while, shifting home to home, but I still talk to him occasionally. You can find him at:

admin@homecomingcreations.com

Name:              Chowey
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

Look Josh, I'm sorry, but for many years I've been reading your posts, and 99% of the movies you talk about post-Goodfellas are in your mind "shit."

If that's gonna be where you stand, then God bless you, you're entitled to your opinion, and it's cool that you keep voicing it.

But when at long last you come out praising a movie--and that movie is BEFORE THE DEVIL KNOWS YOU'RE DEAD--it just makes me want to petition congress to repeal the First Amendment so that YOU ARE NO LONGER ALLOWED TO EXPRESS YOUR OPINION.

Opinions are like assholes...everyone's got one, only some are shittier than others, Josh. And you should wipe more often!

Dear Chowey:

Beautifully expressed.  Does that mean you didn't like "Before the Devil Knows You're Dead"?  If so, why?

Josh
Name:              Aaron Stroud
E-mail:          

Dear Josh:   

Well, "Before the Devil Knows You're Dead" certainly caught me off guard.

When you realize the two brothers are robbing their parents store, there's something just so very evil about that moment. Being in debt, the people I've never ripped off were my parents. Where else can you turn to if you screw your family over?

It gets even more evil when you realize the old lady was their mother.

I love how Albert Finney gets away with murder by putting the heart monitor on himself. It's nice to see Sidney Lumet back in form.

How did you feel about the structure of that film? It just keeps doubling back and surprising you. It seems like you were against that sort of thing on films like PULP FICTION.

Dear Aaron:

"Pulp Fiction" is such a lame story the doubling back structure just seemed pretentious to me, where in "Before..." I think it keeps illuminating the story and the characters.  The film held up for me just as well the second time.  I think it's kind of profound in its own way.  When Phillip Hoffman pulls the sheets off the bed, then just falls over I burst laughing both times.  Things have biblically wrong for him.

Josh

Name:              Rae
E-mail:             rslowey@vyn.midco.net

Dear Josh:         

Hello, I have been reading several articles in preperation for a debate against religion for my Ethics class.  I would just like to say that your essay is by far the best that i have read! It is complete and makes great points that cannot be argued! Reading your essay has helped me to see other objections to religion. Thank You

Dear Rae:

My pleasure.  I hope you win.

Josh

Name:              Kevin
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

Hello,
 
I'm a writer and I have been doing research for my next screenplay.  You may find this a big coincidence, but my next screenplay is about the battle of belleau wood.  I was searching "Devil Dogs" and came onto your website.
 
I didn't read your script.  Now that I know that you have written a similar screenplay, I feel I'm in a moral gray zone.  do I not read your script and pretend i never knew about it ?  or do I read it, and try not to rip you off.  Either way, I feel the stories are probably too close for me to feel like I'm not doing something that hasn't been done before.

Has anything like this happened to you before ?
Oh and "Devil Dogs" is a way better title than anything I could come up with

Dear Kevin:

Considering I haven't been able to get my script made for a decade, you might want to think about that.  It's definitely not the kind of material that's being made these days, particularly my approach to the story, which was very patriotic and not downbeat.  Perhaps if you have the Americans lose in your version it'll get produced.  If you decide to read it, let me know what you think.  Good luck.

Josh

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

Dear Josh: 

Congratulations on landing the Intent gig!  I'm hoping that if time permits, you'll keep us updated once shooting begins.  In the meantime... what sort of pre-production are you doing?  Since they have done all the location scouting and so forth, are you going to have the chance to storyboard this out?  And how much input (if any) are you getting on the crew, like your AD, DP, 2nd unit etc.?
 
And did want to mention that Harpies turns up on Sci-Fi at 11:30 PM EST this week, making it the 5th airing thus far.  Apart from the SFX and the lack of fight choreography (and some ragged editing especially around moments where the SFX and choreography were needed) it's not all that bad. OK, OK, apart from aqueducts, sanitation, medicine, education, wine, roads and public health, what have the Romans ever given us, but you know what I mean.  The individual scenes with the leads were just fine.
 
Regards,
 
August

Dear August:

Thanks for the encouragement, I can use it.  Meanwhile, I haven't got much say in anything on this film, although I did get the DP I wanted.  His name is Dan Noga and he did the reshoots on TSNKE 25 years ago.  He shot the whole sequence when the Manson family breaks into the house and kills everybody, which I think is the best-looking scene in the movie.  I'm not storyboarding this film, but I have already done my shot-list, so I'm ready. It started snowing here yesterday and the first two weeks of this shoot are outside, so that ought to fun.  All the best to you, sir, and it's always good to hear from you.

Josh

Name:              Gary
E-mail:             gazdn@aol.com

Dear Josh:         

Josh, was Devil Dogs ever made in to a film and if so what's the title?

I'm sure that I've seen it shown in the UK on Sky but for the love of me can't find it on any of the databases....this is the closest that I've got.

If it wasn't made, do you know if there is a very similar film and if so what;s its title?
 
Thanks for your help.
 
 
Gary

Dear Gary:

No, "Devil Dogs" has not been made into a film under any title.  The only depiction of the Battle of Belleau Wood on film was in King Vidor's 1925 classic silent, "The Big Parade," and it's not even specifically named in that.  Did you like the script?

Josh

Name:              Nick
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

Hey, Josh. Just wanted to congratulate you guys on electing Obama. I'm a proud Canadian citizen, but I was so impressed (and proud) with America for electing an African-American to be president, I nearly passed out. We had a barbecue at my college to celebrate. Obama really looks like the next John F. Kennedy. Good luck!

Dear Nick:

Thanks.  I couldn't be happier about it myself.  If Obama is as good as Bill Clinton (without the sex scandals) that will be enough for me.  John Kennedy, for all his charisma and good looks, didn't really get much done, and seriously bungled the Bay of Pigs fiasco.  Were it not for Lyndon Johnson getting Kennedy's civil rights legislation through Congress, I don't think we'd remember him as fondly.  Anyway, I have great hope for Obama, and for America now, too.  The last eight years have been a screaming disaster.

Josh

Name:              Anthony
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

(Excuse me for my written expression, I'm French.)
I am a big fan of SAM RAIMI for his films but especially for his short films.

I would like to know if an edition DVD exists for all these short films (Attack Of The Helping Hand!, Cleveland Smith Bounty Hunter, Clockwork, It's Murder, Oedipus Rex, Six Months To Live, The Blind Waiter, The Sappy Sap, Torro Torro Torro!, Within The Woods) and if it is not case you could speak about it so that this plan, waited by many fans, comes true (PLEASE).

Put online all short films on Internet in downloading (I know it is illegal but all the world downloads today) because it already exists but with a quality, excuse me, to vomit (unless you find a resolution with authors' rights).

I am not surely the only fan to want to have these short films and I ask perhaps too much for it but if you could get into contact with SAM RAIMI or BRUCE CAMPBELL to speak to him about it and to say to him thank you for all these films (EVIL DEAD, SPIDER MAN...) I WOULD NOT KNOW HOW TO SAY TO YOU THANK YOU.
 
THANK YOU IMMENSELY.

Bon jour, Anthony:

Whenever Synapse Films gets around to releasing the new HD versions of "Running Time" and TSNKE, each will include a super-8 short -- "Holding It" with Bruce and Sam on RT, "Stryker's War," also with Bruce and Sam, on TSNKE -- as well as a documentary about the films, with myself and Bruce Campbell, among others (not Sam).  Sam's pretty touchy about his super-8 films and won't let anyone release "Within the Woods," which is too bad because it's really good.  However, there are rights issues with all of these films, regarding the "borrowed" music, as well as the ownership of the films.  So that's the story.  I'm glad you like the films.
 
Au revoir,
 
Josh

Name:              imdb.com
E-mail:

Warner Bros. Planning To Beat Pirates At Their Own Game
4 November 2008 10:46 AM, PST

Warner Bros. is planning to deliver a knock-out blow to film pirates in China by making its films available for online rental at the same prices the pirates charge -- about $1.00 per movie, the Los Angeles Times reported today (Tuesday). Some will be available for about 60 cents. "Every major American company has tried to figure out and crack the nut in China," Kevin Tsujihara, president of Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group, told the Times. "We believe that we have an opportunity, through digital distribution," to solve that problem. Distribution is being handled by Union Foole Technology, which also plans to launch an online subscription video service on Nov. 12 that will charge a flat fee for unlimited movie viewing.

Dear imdb.com:

Now that's a proactive position.  I'm all for it.  About five years ago there was a whole big deal about several Utah-based companies taking feature films, cutting out the nudity and swearing, then reselling them to religious folks.  Hollywood went nuts, particularly the DGA who felt that the "artistic rights" of directors were being stepped on, so everybody started lawsuits with everybody.  The fact that Hollywood recuts all feature films for network TV and airplanes, which no one makes any issue about, nor ever brings up artistic rights, never seemed to occur to anyone.  I wrote to the DGA and suggested that film companies simply put their recut network versions on the DVDs, thus beating them at their own game, which would then put these other companies out of business, but this seemed to fall on deaf ears.  That what this Chinese scheme is like, and I applaud it.

Josh

Name:              Jack Alderton
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

GO OBAMA! Due to Time Difference I found out about his Victory a couple of hours after it was announced but really it's no surprise and I almost feel sorry for McCain and Palin. Almost. At least it isn't Clinton. I suppose our Thatcher has put Westerners off Female Leaders for quite a while. I really think Palin killed off McCain's Campaign soon after the hype died down. I mean, would anyone want to face the prospect of being a Heart Attack, Cold Snap in the Winter or Paper Bag being popped away from a President who's main Foreign Affairs claim-to-faim is being able to see Russia from her house? In B. Tech on Tuesday we did our News Broadcast we, at my suggestion, did an Election Special. However, my other suggestion, that whenever reffering to Obama we should say something along the lines of "President Obama, I mean, Presidential Candidate Obama..." (face it, the day before the Voting it was an easy mistake to make) was turned down. I've seen a Review for W., and I liked the comment made at the end that Oliver Stone makes you care more for Bush in 131 minutes than the Man Himself has managed in 8 years, so it sounds like it has good Characterisation. Somewhat Coincidentally, today we started Voting for our Local Youth Representative and in History we started looking at Proportional Representation in the Weimar Republic. Also, in relation to you getting Hammer Released, there's a Site called Lulu.com where you can, free of Charge, Self Publish Bokks, Audio, AND D.V.D's., so that might be a good route. Back to the Election, I saw a thing in the Paper about a Poster being done with Obama and McCain Airbrushed so Obama's white and McCain's black, with the Slogan "Let the Issues be the Issues". Seen it? I'm guessing it Cheesed off quite a few Conservatives.

Dear Jack:

Although Michigan is a blue state, the area I'm in, Oakland County, is predominately Republican.  Every township office had Republicans running against Republicans (in which case I chose neither).  At the grocery store yesterday the very nice old woman behind the counter, who slapped me five when I said, "My man won the presidency," told me that she had never seen so many pissed-off, grumbling, unhappy people in one day, who kept saying things like, "Now the country is going to go to hell."  Clearly, Republicans are so out of touch that they can't even see that the country has already gone to hell under Bush/Cheney, and there's no way possible for Obama to fuck it up any worse than it already has been.  My only fear now, other than fear itself, is that Bush/Cheney will find some pretext to start a new war in the next 60 days, or they'll just push the button and blow the whole damn thing up.  Short of that, things will only improve now.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

When I cast my "early ballot" last week, my eyes actually teared up and I had to take a moment to inhale deeply before completing the act.  The pessimistic part of me feared it would never happen, but -- he won!  We will soon have a president who appears to be someone we can all respect.

I was nine years old when Reagan was first elected, so this reverence for our nation's future leader and this feeling of hope is very new to me. I don't expect our global Pottersville to miraculously turn into Bedford Falls (nor do I expect Barack Obama to be perfect), but the sky no longer seems to be falling. We're living in desperately dark times and it's been weighing on me very heavily lately, but you were the one who said things would get better. Some time ago, you stated that you've lived through many administrations and that it was only a matter of time before things took an eventual upswing.

When the election results were announced and we were given proof that the U.S. is not solely comprised of religious hate-mongers and idiot racists, I felt proud to be an American for the first time in my life. I've often felt fortunate, but not necessarily proud. It seems unreal that we not only elected a strong, intelligent, decent human being to follow the atrocity that is Bush/Cheney, but we chose a man whose not so distant ancestors were treated as though they weren't even human.
 
I hope all is well with your new directing job. It reminds me of the scene in GUILTY BY SUSPICION, when De Niro's character (a recently blacklisted director) is thrown into a production that is already under way. Instead of exerting little effort and sulking about the undesirable circumstances (he's used to big budgets and more creative control), he dives right in and does his very best. It's a nice moment (in an unremarkable movie), because you see someone who simply loves to direct.
Dear Danielle:

My house looks like Obama's Michigan headquarters -- I have eight Obama signs in my front window, a yard sign, and three bumper stickers.  Now I can happily take everything down, and return to simply being the local crazy movie director with three cats.  At Burger King yesterday the 75-year-old woman behind the counter saw my Obama button and said rather hatefully, "You're gonna lose!"  I smiled and said, "That's the wonderful thing about Republicans, you're obstinate right to the end."  Then later at the beer store, about 7:30, I glanced at the TV, saw Obama was ahead and said, "Obama's winning."  The black man in line behind me said, "I voted for McCain."  I said, "I hope you can handle your upcoming disappointment."

Change has arrived.  Hallelujah!

Josh

Name:              Kevin Neece
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

My wife has officially gone crazy. She's been driving up and downs the streets all night, honking the horn nonstop, screaming at the top of her lungs:

GO OBAMA!

Dear Kevin:

I was standing and cheering in my living room.  I was also very moved by Obama's acceptance speech.  McCain's defeat speech was pretty good, too.  A new world order has begun.  And to quote Michelle Obama, who took a lot of shit for this comment except she was completely right, "I'm finally proud to be an American."  The last eight years has been deeply shameful, and now, thank goodness, it's over.  Now we can get out of Iraq, stop torturing prisoners, and move on to fixing our economy, which begins with everybody believing that future will be better than the past.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:         

By the way, the film's website is pretty cool:

http://www.intentmovie.com/

Dear Jim:

Yeah, but it doesn't mention me.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:         

Josh, great to hear that you're directing this new film "Intent". Sounds like it has some talented people involved.

No real question, but just to clarify an earlier comment, MOST Hollywood productions now are shot in digital and then transferred to film for projection. This results are so good that no one has really noticed the transition from film to digital acquisition, but I'd bet that over 50% of the movies at your local theater were digitally shot. And they are shot with high-end HD cameras like the Sony CineAlta F23 that Josh mentioned. The Red camera is basically a nice consumer camera that can put it out a great image, but it's not comparable to something like the CineAlta.

Dear Jim:

I'd venture that you're wrong.  Most movies are not yet being shot digitally, although many are (including the one I'm about to do). However, of the perhaps 25 features that have shot here in Michigan in the past six months, I'd guess that 20 of them were still shot on film, either 35mm or super-16.  Most films are still shot on negative film, then transferred to digital, then the prints are made digitally.  It's changing, but it's changing slowly.  "Most" is certainly the wrong word at this time.
 
Josh

Name:              Justin Hayward
E-mail:             hayward@ionadfilms.com

Dear Josh:         

"I'd been negotiating with this company for weeks to rent my walkie talkies, then they put an ad in Craig's List saying, "Needed: experienced, Michigan-based, feature film director,"

Really?  I gotta check Craig's list more often.  Isn't it usually, "Needed: experienced, whatever based, mini dv camera op with equipment"?
 
I understand if you can't get too much into it, but how do they expect to release this to 890 theaters?  Unless you're lead dresses like a bat or is a talking Chihuahua, isn't the straight-to-DVD graveyard is most likely. especially when you totally bypass film festivals?
 
Unless when you say this is "Silence of the Lambs" meets "CSI", you actually mean "Saw" meets "The Police Squad".  Now that would be a good movie.

Dear Justin:

These folks really sound like they know what they're talking about regarding distribution, an aspect of filmmaking that's always been my downfall.  All of that remains to be seen.  Right now the issue is making the movie.

Josh

Name:              Aaron Stroud
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

Oh holy shit, I'm watching a movie that's actually as bad as CRIMEWAVE. Not worse, not better, the exact same level of badness. Most notably the terribly insulting cartoony soundtrack, and every scene looks like a bad comedy skit Lorne Michaels would rather wipe his ass with than put on SNL.

It's called NEIGHBORS with John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd.

Dear Aaron:

I saw "Neighbors" when it came out.  Yes, a very bad movie without a single laugh.  Apparently, Belushi and Ackroyd traded parts.  It probably would have been a tad better the other way around.

Josh

Name:              Shane
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

I just think it's funny you said Butt Fuck Alaska. Speaking of--you check out Nailin' Palin yet? This chick's so dumb, it's remarkable, it's like...science fiction. In what alternate reality can this GOP ticket POSSIBLY win? I don't wanna fuckin know. Remember that whole bit where Barbara Streisand said she'd leave the country in 2000 if Bush won, and pretty much everyone thought that was a little ridiculous? If this ticket wins, I really and truly won't know what to think. I will no longer feel at home in my own country.

Come Tuesday, Yes We Can...
 
...or at least we'd fuckin better.
 
-Shane

Dear Shane:

Don't worry about, we're gonna win.

Josh

Name:              Tim
E-mail:             Nansemondnative

Good Morning Josh.
 
I am always taken back when I log onto your site and read a comment from someone that gives you a kudo here or there but either, in a subtle fashion or outight,attempts to sabotage your success with negative comments.
 
I am responding to the poster that feels nobody remembers Andrew McCarthy since he did "Class" in 1983. McCarthy's credentials speak for themselves and he has remained steadily employed since 1983. 25 years in the business speaks volumes. Eric has been in the business for 30 years and has also remained steadily employed. You have been in the business since you were a kid and ,despite not enjoying some of the breaks that others got, have survived to tell the story.
 
From your writings and your website we all know you to be a high-level thinker.
 
I, as a fan, certainly hope that you can readily dismiss such petulance and move forward without it affecting, poisoning, your thought processes.
 
To your continued success with all aspects of your current project.
 
Tim

Dear Tim:

Well, thank you very much.  I do this Q&A because it amuses me, and occasionally I actually help somebody.  I don't give a damn about the naysayers.  I'm simply some kind of example of a filmmaker.  Not a great one, nor a terrible one, just a guy who keeps trying to do this crazy thing. I may well come off as an asshole now and then, but I'm really just a guy who cares about what he does and has to deal with the vicissitudes of life and art.  I will probably not be remembered as a great filmmaker, but I do care.  It does matter to me.

Josh

Name:              Richieeeeee
E-mail:             gooboyz@gmail.com

Dear Josh: 
       
I didn't like RUSHES but I thought it would make a good movie adaptation.

Dear Richieeee:

Care to explain?

Josh

Name:              Travvy
E-mail:             tunafishsoup@aol.com

Hey Josh,
 
BIG congrats on landing another feature!! What format are you shooting the movie on? Please tell me it's film. You mentioned your INTENT (wink, wink) is to go theatrical but being that it's an independent production what strategy do the producers have laid out? Festivals, negative pick-up, selling rights overseas, etc?
 
Also, unless you're shooting on film or the red one camera I find it hard to believe a digital movie starring Andrew Mcarthy and Eric Roberts will go theatrical, don't you? I mean, Mcarthy was great in CLASS but no one remembers the guy.
 
You mentioned this is a Hitchockian thriller but if it's low-budget is it just going to be another one of those indies that tries to do the studio thing on a shoe-string budget or is it smartly indie, uses its low budget to its advantage with contained locations and characters????
 
Regards,
 
Travvy

Dear Travvy:

No, it's digital.  We're using the new Sony F-23 (I believe).  These folks seem to really know their stuff about distribution, and they intend to have a fairly large theatrical release of about 850 screens.  It will be as good as I can make it, with the script that I'm given that I cannot change.  I feel pretty good about the whole thing, but it will definitely be "'Silence of the Lambs' meets CSI."  That's what they want, and that's what I'll give them.  I'll just make it as visual and snappy as I can make it.

Josh

Name:              franck
E-mail:             franckbinard@gmail.com

Dear Josh:         

This is a post that I recently placed on my blog. I send it to you as I've just read ur views on religion because they meet mine and because you seem to have the same tone of voice that I use (which i find amusing). Respect ur guts:
 
Fuck you and ur freedom of religion. fuck you and ur childish superstitions. fuck u while you cower in some church on sundays, weakly and pathetically hoping that some god somewhere is listening.
 
fuck u for taking me hostage with ur christmasses and ur easters and ur ramadans and ur caliphate and ur ban on stem cell reseach and ur belief that the earth is flat- u primitive retard: y don't u just go and idolize animal deities around some campfire while u're at it. listen: jesus didn't change no water into wine, he didn't die for ur sins and he isn't sitting at the right side of god: jesus was a sect leader and he is dead. what's left is the tool that's used to manipulate you. there were never, there are not and there will never be any saints. allah is ur imaginary friend, NOT some arbiter that ensures that the just is rewarded while the unjust isn't. u don't believe me? just look around. the unjust is NOT punished. He rules russia, lives in a mansion and drives a 100K car. and btw: he's laughing at you and at your stupidity. u think there must have been a creator for shit to be created? well then smartie pants: who do u think created the creator?
 
listen: moise didn't part no red sea, noah didn't stick a million different animals on some boat and the earth is not 6000 years old. the sun doesn't revolve around the earth and catholic priests who fuck little boys don't go to hell because there is no hell. there were no tablets from god on some moutaintop. just some dude who found a simple way to manipulate a bunch of idiots. when u say i should tolerate religion, u're telling me that i shouldn't think that lack of gun control is related to the murder rate in the us. it's the same thing: an argument that doesn't make sense repeated like a mantra in the face of contrary evidence while people get victimized. think jihad, holy war and catholic schools.
 
when u say that its fanaticism that i should direct my anger towards, i say no: at least the fanatics are consistent. the passive is even worst. he takes what he likes and "interprets" the rest to his satisfaction while closing his eyes on the glaring inconsitencies. ur shitass beliefs DO NOT make the world (or you) any better, no matter what u think. the truth is that you WILL die, and so will I and there will be NO heaven, hell or resurrection. these are HUMAN inventions.  u weren't some egyptian princess in some past life, u had NO past life and u have NO MORE life after this one. u just hope (pathetically) that u do.  There was never any Zeus, Ra, Yahve or any other god or prophet or son of or whatever. Just a bunch of poor saps who hoped for some supreme justice but weren't willing to do more than hope.

All u have is RIGHT HERE and RIGHT NOW.

Dear franck:

When I read prose written in the text/blog form, like this piece (and I utterly agree with what it's saying), I feel like I'm hearing someone who's drunk and slurring.  To me "ur" and "you're" do not have the same pronunciation.  Ur is where Gilgamesh came from.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:     

I heard this mentioned on an NPR (National Public Radio) show called "Tell Me More". It was a discussion about Obama possibly becoming the first black president.
 
One guest was told this by a friend:
 
"Rosa Parks sat so that Martin Luther King Jr. could walk. Martin Luther King Jr. walked so that Obama could run. Obama is running so our children can fly."
 
BRILLIANT.
 
Saul

Dear Saul:

I go for that.  Simply electing Obama will be an enormous step forward for this country.  The fact that racism still exists in our "land of the free" is both offensive and ridiculous.  And am I supposed to seriously sit here, right outside the city of Detroit, and be told that the "real Americans" actually live in Butt Fuck, Alaska?  Or Shithole, North DakotaDear Senator McCain and Governor Palin: Fuck You!!!  Love,

Josh

Name:              David R.
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

Hey Josh, I know you're a big fan of the original Twilight Zone series, and I was wondering if you ever watched and/or can recommend a later Rod Serling series called "Night Gallery"?

Dear David:

I watched it religiously when it was first on.  Several episodes have stuck with me very clearly (one with Elsa Lanchester and Cameron Mitchell --  "Green Fingers" or "Green Thumb" I think -- one with Bradford Dillman, another with Robert Morse and Rudy Vallee, yet another with Burgess Meredith and Cameron Mitchell).  There were quite a few good, scary episodes, but Rod Serling was only the host, it wasn't his show.

Josh

Name:              Stan Wrightson
E-mail:             stan@longliveTSNKE.com

Dear Josh:       

Congrats on the new film. I think it's great that we'll have a new Josh Becker film to watch. Will Joe Loduca be scoring this one?

Take care,
Stan

Dear Stan:

Thanks.  I've given the producer Joe's name and number, so the ball's in their court.  But who will be scoring the music isn't a very big issue during pre-production.

Josh

Name:              Tim
E-mail:             Nansemondnative

Good Morning Josh.

An interview I read on the net this morning states that since Cloris is off "Dancing" she will be "doing a movie with Brad Pitt".

Is that your project?

Just asking to quell or confirm.

Have a great day.

Tim

Dear Tim:

No, that's not this film.  She only has two days on this one, so she can probably fit it in before her Brad Pitt film.  I'm sorry to hear she's off the show, although I never saw it.

Josh

Name:              Alex Spivey
E-mail:             alexspivey@gmail.com

Dear Josh: 
 
Alright
man, back in the director's chair. It was inevitable. Im already looking forward to INTENT. I hope you enjoy working on the movie. I always enjoy watching them.

Dear Alex:

Thank you.  I'll do my best, as usual, which doesn't always equal success. But I feel WAY better about this picture than the last one.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:         

Congrats, big time!  Chalk one up for the Michigan Legislature and personal perseverance.

John

Dear John:

Yeah, let's hear it for the Michigan legislature!  This is the best damn thing Michigan's done since Ford started his factory on Woodward in Highland Park.

Josh

Name:              Nick
E-mail:

Hey Josh. I just wanted to congratulate you on getting another directing gig (the film does sound interesting BTW). I do have a question though, and it might be a little personal, but how much creative control will you have over the piece? Will you be able to tweak the script to your liking (which I assume is already written), or are you basically just a "hired gun?"

Additionally, I was glad to see you're currently reading Bukowski. I recently purchased "Portions from a Wine-Stained Notebook" which I highly recommend. I think his short story "I Met the Master" might be the best thing he ever wrote.

Dear Nick:

The script was written by the producer, so I'm shooting what I was given. It's a very straight suspense piece, and I'm having a great time.  This is the script that producers and agents have been telling me to write for a decade, but I never did.  The psychological suspense thriller.  Hitchcock territory.  I believe that I'm up to it, too.  I haven't read that book you're reading.  Luckily, Bukowski wrote quite a few books.

Josh

Name:              Vanishingpoint
E-mail:             No thanks

Dear Josh:         

Normally I only post to defend Blade Runner (again) but I have been provoked beyond restraint!

Am I the only one who knows the progression of Roman Numerals is: I, II, III, IV (or sometimes IIII) then V and VI? Or am I the only one reading your old reviews? Or was the fourth installment a little too racey?

Good luck with the new film.

VP

Dear VP:

I got screwed up, okay?  The one volume of Old Reviews that had been up on the site for a long time I thought was III, but was really IV, then Kevin and I added the others and something got mixed up somewhere.  It will be fixed.  I apologize for pushing you beyond restraint.

Josh

[Webmaster's Note: It wasn't a mistake, I didn't want people to think IV was a new addition. They're listed backwards, top to bottom, because of the order they were added to the site. This is all my fault, I watched "Vanishing Point" on a loop yesterday. - Kevin]

Name:              Blake Eckard
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

Same picture, Josh?  This found on Andrew McCarthy's IMDB page.  Obviously, this is full of old information.

PR Newswire-Press Release
Lipstick Jungle Star Joins Cast of "Intent"
05.21.08, 8:21 AM ET

LOS ANGELES May 21/ PRNewswire/
--Andrew McCarthy has joined the cast of the much anticipated suspense thriller, Intent. Producers from New Castle Entertainment announced the agreement today.

McCarthy has enjoyed a diverse television and film career. In the last 25 years, he has appeared in 40 films and 26 different television shows. Although he is probably best known for his role as Molly Ringwald's love interest in Pretty in Pink, Andrew also appeared in many blockbuster films such as St. Elmo's Fire and The Joy Luck Club. Earlier this year, he played Richard Grace in the film, The Spiderwick Chronicles, which grossed more that $150 million worldwide.

His television career has included everything from playing an Assistant District Attorney on Law & Order to a science teacher on Monk. He is also well know for his present role on the hit NBC series, Lipstick Jungle, in which he plays Joe Bennett, a wealthy, jet setting investor in New York City.

For Intent, McCarthy will play the role of kidnapping victim, David McDowell. "He's an amazing actor and a great guy to work with. The part was written with Andrew in mind, so we're very excited to have him on board," said Intent producer, Allen Cohen.

Intent has been described as a combination of Silence of the Lambs and CSI. The story begins with a kidnapping in a suburban neighborhood and leads police on a manhunt that comes full circle.

Producers are in talks with additional cast members, which could include such names as Kiefer Sutherland, Elizabeth Shue and Steve Schirrpa from The Sopranos. Filming will begin in Tampa, Florida in September.

Dear Blake:

Thanks.  I looked through the St. Louis Film Festival program until I found your film, "Sinner Come Home."  Good luck, and I hope you win.

Josh

Name:              Tim
E-mail:             Nansemondnative

Good Morning Josh.

I have to agree that if you have the opportunity to work with Cloris Leachman it would be another crown jewel on your resume. Mrs. Leachman is in that living legend status and comes from that time in Hollywood that you are so strongly attached to. If she is in fact added to the payroll think of what you could learn by picking at her brain for a little while.

I saw her on Leno 2 or 3 weeks ago and the woman has more get up and go than many 30 year olds I know.

I'm sure there will be some that will not agree with this but I really enjoyed her performances in "Young Frankenstein" and "High Anxiety" which, I'm sure you know, are both films by Mel Brooks. She has such incredible range and is so strong in her comedic timing.

I hope the production gets her too Josh.

Good Luck.

Tim

Dear Tim:

I agree, I think Cloris Leachman is great as Frau Blucher in "Young Frankenstein," and she's one of the few funny things in "High Anxiety."  I loved her TV show, "Phyllis," and I even attended the shooting of one episode.

Josh

Name:              Blake Eckard
E-mail:             bseckard@jagtec.net

Dear Josh:   
     
YEAH!  Way to go!

Looking forward to hearing more about "Intent."  Is this direct to video or a TV movie?  I figure it's one of the two if Eric Roberts is in it (hey, he was great in "Runaway Train.")  I also hope Leachman is kicked off "Dancing with the Stars!"  "Last Picture Show" is one of my top ten favorite films, and a lot of that has to do with the brilliant cast.

What great news.  So, do you know the budget?  Anything else that can be dropped?  Shooting near your home, or elsewhere in the state?  Pay better than Jeff Franklin?

Dear Blake:

No, it's meant for theatrical release.  It's mainly shooting about 15 miles from my house, in a town called Livonia (which was the historical name of the country, Estonia).  I won't go into the budget or the pay.

Josh

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

Dear Josh: 

Haven't written in for ages but this page is still a daily stop for me. I don't know if I told you that I found "Rushes" to be a very enjoyable read. Very cool to have those essays collected in one book. Also very cool to hear you go another directing gig. Cloris Leachman is awesome! She sure has done a lot of crap films but it would be cool to ask her about films like "Butch Cassidy" and "Last PIcture Show".

When you say "They've got..", who do you mean?

Chris

Dear Chris:

I mean they did all of the casting, then hired me.  They also did all of the location scouting before hiring me.  It's like making a film for the studios in the 1930s, and I don't mind at all.  It spared me a lot of driving around and casting sessions.  Luckily for me, they have good taste.  Meanwhile, Cloris Leachman is so good in "Last Picture Show" it hurts.  When she reaches out at the end, touches Timothy Bottoms cheek and says, "Never you mind," it's one of the great, great things in movies.  We only get her, though, if she gets voted off "Dancing With the Stars."  I wish her all the luck in the world, but I really do hope we get her.  Ms. Leachman and I crossed paths in Bulgaria the last time I was there.  She'd been in making "Lake Placid 2."  They dropped her off at the airport, then picked me up a few hours later.  They gave me the cell phone that she'd been using. Anyway, I'm glad you liked "Rushes."

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

A feature film!!! And it sounds like a good one too.  THIS IS GREAT NEWS. Did the connection happen through the rentals business or by some other avenue?  When do you start?  Don't fail to keep us posted....

Alice

Dear Alice:

I'd been negotiating with this company for weeks to rent my walkie talkies, then they put an ad in Craig's List saying, "Needed: experienced, Michigan-based, feature film director," which my buddy Dan Noga sent me, saying, "That sounds like you."  I sent them my resume and they called me back within 30 minutes.  Dan, meanwhile, has been hired as DP.

Josh

Name:              Stan Wrightson
E-mail:             stan@IhateBillO'Reilly.com

Dear Josh

Can you stand another TSNKE question? Who gave your favorite performance in that film? As I've said before, for me it's Quill; followed closely by Rickman, Raimi, Schulz and Manfredi (in that order). Oh, I forgot about Otis and Sally, they were good too. Can you give us an update on what you have been reading lately? (I know I've asked this question a few times before...If you're bored of answering please ingore it. I just find your comments on print to be endlessly enlightening.)

Take care,
Stan
Dear Stan:

My favorite performance in TSNKE is by Sam Raimi as the Cult Leader.  He's so over-the-top is amuses the hell out of me.  Next comes Rickman, Quill and Manfredi.  I'm presently reading "Notes From a Dirty Old Man" by Charles Bukowski.  I guess this is my sixth Bukowski book, and I just like his whole attitude and style.  Meanwhile, I've been hired to direct another feature film, entitled "Intent."  It's a psychological suspense thriller.  We start shooting Nov. 10.  They've got Eric Roberts, Andrew McCarthy and Cloris Leachman, whom I just love.  And they're renting my walkie talkies.  They've got two other features ready to go right after it, and hopefully I'll get those, too.

Josh

Name:              Jack Alderton
E-mail:

Dear Josh:       
 
Hello. I have been following your upcoming Election with some interest as it will be interesting to see how Obama (let's face it, McCain's f***ed) manages to rebuild the reputation of the Person in charge of one of the most powerful Countries on Earth. However, I must complain that the Election's being Reported on almost as much as the 2005 General Elections and I ask: Do American News Channels give a flying cluck about who's in charge of England? And di you hear when Tony Blair Resigned in '07? 'Cos I'm sure we'd hear straight away if Bush - or, as of Nov. 2nd, Obama - stepped down. Also, I saw a pretty good Newspaper Cartoon the other day that showed McCain and Obama from the back with their arms out facing a Press Conference with Microphones in their hands and each has a piece of paper stuck to their back like the sort you stick on Teachers' back saying "Kick me" only on McCain it said "Lier" and on Obama it said "Terrorist". The Caption was "A good, clean Race"! Below it it had a bit about the humorous Bumper Stickers attacking McCain and Obama. My favourite went something like this:

McCain    *      Palin
Incontinent Incompetent

I also came across a Picture of the Front Page of the Daily Mirror from Nov. 4th 2004 (http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/b/bf/Dailymirror.jpg). For those who don't follow the Link, it says: How can 59, 054, 087 People be so DUMB! Just thought you might like it. Plus, on the subject of Remakes, the 2005 King Kong at least has something the Original, in tht we at least get to meet 3 Sailors (Hayes, Lumpy and Choy) before they Die at the Log Bridge / Insect Pit, which is a lot more concerning caring for the Sailors when they Die than we get in the '33 Version.

Dear Jack:

You may meet those sailors, but it's not like you give a damn about them. The "King Kong" remake really sucked.  Jack Black and Adrien Brody are really awful.  And to put that dumbass ice skating scene before climbing the Empire State Building is one of the truly bad decisions in film history. Not to mention making it so horribly long.  As I've said before, and I'll now say again, the original "King Kong" is about ten minutes too long, as far as I'm concerned, and it's only 103 minutes.

Regarding  who's running Britain, it was reported here when Tony Blair left and Gordon Brown came in.  I can't vouch for how many other Americans know this, or if they were they were paying the slightest bit of attention.  And clearly there are at least 60,000,000 morons in this country, who voted for Bush a second time, and in reality there's probably a lot more than that. Still, Barack Obama is going to win, and win handily, too.

Josh

Name:              al watson
E-mail:             edhemain@yahoo.com

Dear Josh:         

Have been searching for a copy DVD of the movie "Sometime a great Notion" by Paul Newman.  Does this exist and if so where can it be obtained.  Thankyou Al Watson

Dear al:

"Sometimes a Great Notion" isn't available on DVD, although it is available on VHS. 
Here's the link: http://www.amazon.com/gp/offer-listing/630018188X/ref=ed_oe_vhs_olp  As a little note, the film has an alternate title, "Never Give an Inch."

Josh

Name:              Jeff
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

Have you seen the extended W. trailer on Apple.com? I'm not one to gush over trailers, but the way they edited it using Talking Heads "Once in a lifetime" turns it into a Bush bio in 2 minutes.


It also does it's job, I now want to see a movie I no huge interest in before.

The movie trailer sure has changed over time. You look at them from the 60's and you'd actually get a good chunk of an entire scene and had something to work with when deciding if it would be a good movie or not. Now you're luckily if a character speaks more than a line and all you can really tell is how good the production values were.

As someone who has probably seen more than his fair share of trailers what's your view? Necessary evil?
Thanks!
Dear Jeff:

The style of movie trailers has definitely changed over the years, quite a few times, from trying to impress you with the award-winning book the films was based on, to how socially relevant the theme was, to how much money was spent on the production, to how many extras were in the crowd scenes.  Now, as you pointed out, it seems to be how little information they can actually give you, like if you saw three lines in a row you'd now it sucked and wouldn't see it.

Josh

Name:              Tim
E-mail:             Nansemondnative

Dear Josh:

I completely agree with you on "300". I borrowed the movie from a friend at work who was just "blown away" by the movie so I pretty much knew I wouldn't be.

It, because I had no high expectations, didn't disappoint and I wasn't too impressed with it. I thought I was going to get beat up for telling my buddy I thought it sucked.

While I found some aspects of it interesting I would be more open to a movie about Spartan soldiers that included everything about them including the fact that they practiced homosexuality. These guys wre primed from childhood to be soldiers and women had no part in their lives. I'm surprised the king even had a wife.

Changing channels, I really like movies with long wide opening shots. Obviously they are establishing and set the overall tone of the movie. "Touch of Evil" comes to mind with that opening crane shot, "The Shining" and it's opening shots, the long drive down "Evil Dead" road to the cabin, Mike Myers almost 4 minute one take prelude to his sisters murder in "Halloween", and that long zoom opening you did in "Lunatics". This is a small list of course but it seems that some of the best movies take the time in the beginning to provide excellent establishment.

Finally, while puttering around the bargain movie section at my local big name discounter, I came across a collection of 50 episodes of "One Step Beyond" which evidently competed on some level with "The Twilight Zone". Interesting B/W collection Josh with many of your favorites making some early appearances. Well worth $5.00 bucks. It's interesting how some of the better movies end up in the bargain bin Josh.

Tim

Dear Tim:

As William Goldman said, if the audience is ever going to be patient with you it's at the beginning.  This is a crucial bit of information that's gotten totally subverted in the last 25 years, and I blame it on distributors who demand action immediately.  If you go directly to an action scene it's very difficult to set up a rational ascending dramatic pace.  And even though the film gets terrible reviews, I still have a fond place in my heart for the 1962 film, "300 Spartans," with Richard Egan and Ralph Richardson.  This is a film I haven't seen in 40 years, but I recall it looked great in widescreen (shot by the great Geoffrey Unsworth who later shot "2001" and won an Oscar for "Cabaret").  The final scene of the remaining Spartans in a circle with their shields up and literally thousands of arrows are raining down them seemed very impressive.  I can't remember a thing about the rest of the film.  And as for "One Step Beyond," I used to watch it as a kid because I liked "Twilight Zone" so much, and it was vaguely similar, but every single episode disappointed me.

Josh

Name:              Consumer
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

Are you gonna see W. when it comes out? Any interest at all in that picture?

Dear Consumer:

Yeah, I'd like to see it, it sounds like fun.  I'd lost all interest in Oliver Stone's films for quite some time, but he rekindled my interest with "World Trade Center," which I liked.

Josh

Name:              Tim
E-mail:              Nansemondnative

Good Morning Josh,

I like your Motion Picture Radios page.

The art reminds me of the old RKO radio tower you used to see at the start of many vintage films. It has a good feel to it.

You did great with that right down to the insurance issue which keeps you from the expense of carrying your own damage waiver.

I have no movie comments because the best thing I have seen lately is Scooby Doo's Spookiest Tales" courtesy of my 3 year old.

It's true Josh.38 year old Scooby cartoons are better than anything else new that I have seen in the last 6 months.

To your continued success in the rental business.

Tim

Dear Tim:

Good to hear from you.  I actually had to change the rental agreement to include me offering insurance, although if they want to use my insurance then they have to pay extra ($10 a radio per month).  And yes, my logo is based on RKO's logo, which I've always liked.  On the RKO version, the two big words on either side of the radio tower are "Radio Pictures."  On mine the two big words are "Picture Radios."  Meanwhile, on the movie front, I just watched "Atonement" and thought it was pretty good.  I liked the way it moved back and forth through time, and having three different actresses playing the lead, as young, medium and old (the old being the great Vanessa Redgrave), worked well.  And it's a very handsome production, too.  The big Steadi-Cam shot is sort of cool, and very expensive, but astounding by any means.  Still, I liked what they were trying to do.  It's a believable human drama with real emotion, and it's got a tricky plot.  And Keira Knightly is not only babe-a-licious, she's a good actor, too.  Nevertheless, as I just sat here thinking, "Hey, I saw a movie I liked last night, what the hell was it?"  It took me an entire minute to recall that it was "Atonement," meaning for me at least that the film wasn't great, just good.  I also saw "300" the other day, and I'm surprised to say that I sat all the way through it, even though I was ready to turn it off in six minutes.  Although I haven't read Frank Miller's graphic novel, the film did seem like a graphic novel come to life, or film as the case may be, and I'd venture to say that's not a good thing, it's a bad thing.  There is no characterization at all.  The films is entirely about killing and blood spurting and that's it.  But what sort of interested me was the intention behind the endless use of digital effects. I had just watched John Ford's 1936 film, "Mary of Scotland," that I'd guess was RKO's most expensive film of the year.  It's almost entirely shot on a sound stage, both interiors and exteriors, and they're terrific sets, against beautiful painted backdrops with superimposed clouds and lightning, with miniature rooftops in between.  So, on some level it's every bit as fake as "300."  However, "Mary" is trying to sell you reality and make you believe this is real, whereas "300" that's also entirely on a soundstage in front of blue or green screen, is intentionally trying to make you NOT believe what you're seeing and to sell you falsehood, as though that's somehow better.  That we're in a day and age where people will spend a lot of extra money to intentionally make their film false and unbelievable seems, well, crazy and stupid to me.

Josh

Name:              Aaron Stroud
E-mail:

Dear Josh:   
     
I have nothing but love for the filibuster scene in MR SMITH GOES TO WASHINGTON... no really, you should see my face light up when that scene makes it way onto my tv set, there isn't an unkind word I can say about it.

It's the rest of the movie I can't stand.

Since you mentioned BONNIE AND CLYDE, how about THE GRISSOM GANG? I think GRISSOM GANG'S only crime is it doesn't have any real stars in it, otherwise it was okay.

Look, there's even a connection between the two: Michael J. Pollard and Kim Darby where both in an episode of STAR TREK together, "Miri".

Dear Aaron:

I still haven't seen "The Grissom Gang," although I'd like to.  I loved "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" when I was eleven and they showed a 16mm print in school.  However, it's a film that I've found difficult to rewatch, and it's just too damn long at 129 minutes.  I'm not a very big fan of most of Frank Capra's films, other than "It Happened One Night" and "It's a Wonderful Life."  As a kid I liked "A Pocketful of Miracles" (particularly Peter Falk), but it hasn't held up particularly well, either.  I've never much cared for "Mr. Deeds Goes to Town" (my friend Rick deeply believed that "Capra ruined Gary Cooper"), and I actively dislike "You Can't Take It With You" (Best Picture 1938).  I recently rewatched "A Hole in the Head," another film I liked as a kid, and it stinks, even with Edward G. Robinson and Frank Sinatra (and an Oscar-winning song).  Going all the way back in his career, I don't like Harry Langdon or the films he made with Capra.  A couple of Frank Capra's really early talkies, like "Miracle Woman" and "Dirigible" are pretty good for early talkies, but that's not saying very much.  Oh, yeah, I also liked "American Madness," but not a lot.

Josh

Name:              Paul  Kane
E-mail:             pkane1951@yahoo.com
 
Dear Josh:       
 
A lady friend came across this and knowing I had the Chalet disco at that time told me about this, giving me this address.  I still have some of those match books somewhere around here.  That has been many moons ago, and left me with many good memories.  I had the Chalet for about five years.

Paul Kane

Dear Paul:

Thanks for writing in.  Yes, I had one particularly shitty evening there, but I don't hold it against you.

Josh

Name:              Raoul O'Hara
E-mail:             raoulzraoul@yahoo.com

Mr. Becker~

Hell yes I'll say Leonard Maltin is wrong! You've said it yourself regarding his non-ratings 'ratings'. Look, maybe the Brando 'Mutiny' is based on the script from the Laughton version; studios do that shit. But I stand by my assertion that if, as in the case of "The Thin Red Line", the filmmaker hasn't seen the previous version and is only basing his script on the book, then it is wrong and unfair to say he is 're-making' an earlier film.

Also: Really, is there any scene in "Bonnie & Clyde" as emotionally moving as the scene in "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" where Jimmy Stewart filibusters against the pork-barrel dam project, even though everyone is against him? If your answer is yes, then your heart must be smaller than the Grinch's.

Dear Raoul:

I admire your independence of thought.  No, The 1962 version of "Mutiny on the Bounty" is not based on the script from the 1935 version, but on the book (the script for the 1935 version is by Jules Furthman, the script for the 1962 version is by Charles Lederer), yet there's virtually nobody who doesn't believe the '62 version is not a remake of the '35 version. Whatever.  Is there a scene in "Bonnie and Clyde" as emotional as "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington"?  Yes, when they get killed, which I find more emotional than Mr. Smith's filibuster.  So, go ahead, call me Mr. Grinch.

Josh

Name:              Jim
E-mail:
 
Josh, have you seen Religulous? I haven't seen his HBO show in awhile, but I saw Maher on Leno a few nights ago and he's as sharp as ever. I don't agree with all of his thoughts on religion, but it does look like an entertaining movie. From the man who brought us "Religion is Evil" I figured you might be interested.

Dear Jim:

I haven't seen it yet, but I've heard about it and seen some clips since I do watch Bill Maher's show every week.  I think I will like it -- Bill Maher and I both have the same opinion about religion--although the clips haven't looked all that good.

Josh

Name:              Blake Eckard
E-mail:             bseckard@jagtec.net

Dear Josh: 
       
I think the subject of "Anti-hero" movies is a pretty fascinating one.  After thinking about it, these by and large constitute my favorite movies.

What are the great anti-hero films?  My pick after the "Godfather" films and "Bonnie and Clyde," would be (and I'll keep these to what I truly term "Great"): "The Treasure of the Sierra Madre," "Gun Crazy," "The Asphalt Jungle," "The Bad and the Beautiful," "The Defiant Ones," "Hud," "The Hustler," "Cool Hand Luke" (Newman was an excellent Anti-hero), "The Wild Bunch," "Papillion," "Dog Day Afternoon," "Taxi Driver," "Running on Empty," "Goodfellas," "Unforgiven," and "Affliction."

DePalma's "Scarface" is also a particular favorite of mine (love Giorgio Moroder's score), however, unlike all the above titles, "Scarface" DOES NOT stir up, for me, a single moment of empathy for Tony Montana.  I think he's a scumbag from the start and he dies a scumbag.  Yet, I find the film intense, well (if over) acted, and DePalma's vision clear and acute (for me, easily his best film).  But it is 3 hrs of simply watching a sadistic fuck kill and cuss.  I really see nothing in Stone's script that offers much humanity (the subplot with his sister just makes him creepy, which I know is something taken from the original film). Perhaps it's just Pacino and all the technical elements making it a film for film buffs.  I'm sure it's been brought up at some point before, but do you like this one?

Dear Blake:

Always good to hear from you.  There are even more and earlier examples of great Anti-Hero movies, like: "Little Caesar," "Public Enemy," the original "Scarface," "The Petrified Forest," "Dead End," "The Roaring 20s," "High Sierra" and most certainly "White Heat."  And let's not forget the Anti-Hero westerns, like "Fort Apache," "The Searchers," you mentioned "The Wild Bunch," and even "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid."  No, you're right, it's my favorite genre (that crosses other genres), as well, now that you've got me thinking about it some more.  And what about "Streetcar Named Desire," "The Wild One," "On the Waterfront," "East of Eden," and "Rebel Without a Cause."  It goes on and on.  Okay, anyway, DePalma's remake of "Scarface". . .  First of all, Howard Hawks' original 1932 version is MUCH better, cinematically more clever, and half the length (the original is 90 minutes, the remake is 170 minutes!).  Given that, I still like the first two acts of DePalma's version quite a bit.  However, as strenuously as you or anyone might defend it, Act III really and truly SUCKS!!!!  In Act III the whole movie goes into the shitter.  It's utterly unbelievable, there's far too much automatic weapon-fire and coke-snorting, which all leads to a truly piss-poor, idiotic ending.  Other than that, I like the film: Al Pacino gives a terrificly intense, fun performance, Michelle Pfieffer never looked better and is damn good, too, and so are Robert Loggia and F. Murray Abraham.

Josh

Name:              Raoul O'Hara
E-mail:             raoulzraoul@yahoo.com
 
Dear Josh:     
   
{In his book, "The Film Encyclopedia," Ephraim Katz defines a "remake" as: "A newer version of a motion picture that had been filmed before."} The key word being "motion picture"; his definition doesn't say "a newer version of a novel that had been filmed before." And once more I rest my case. But enough of this trivial back and forth, I have a more important question.

One of the reasons I dislike a lot of modern films aimed at adults is because they're usually about characters I have no respect for and/or feature unearned downbeat endings. I've never loved the 'Godfather' films as much as most of my generation seems to, and I think it's because I don't respect the characters. But I acknowledge it's artistic achievements and consider it a work of genius compared to all the 'Pulp Fiction'-type films about criminals that have been made since.

Back in the day, Frank Capra made movies about characters with admirable traits like intelligence, honesty, loyalty and compassion for their fellow humans; and after putting them through tough times that tested these qualities, he paid them back with mostly happy endings. I've been coming to this site for a long time, and I don't remember ever seeing a discussion about how important the "moral" of a movie is.

What is your personal opinion as to the importance of telling stories about admirable characters; stories that enoble the human spirit?

Dear Raoul:

The example that Katz gives is: "Lewis Milestone's 'Mutiny on the Bounty' (1962), starring Marlon Brando, is a remake of Frank Lloyd's 'Mutiny on the Bounty' (1935), which starred Clark Gable."  Leonard Maltin refers to the 1962 version of "Mutiny on the Bounty" as: "Lavish remake of 1935 classic." Both versions are based on the book "Mutiny on the Bounty" by Nordoff and Hall.  So, Mr. O'Hara, are you trying to insinuate that not only am I wrong, but so are Leonard Maltin and Ephraim Katz?  In their "Video Movie Guide," Martin & Porter refer to the 1962 version of "Bounty" as: "This years-later remake hits the south seas with a gigantic belly flop."  Must I go on?

Regarding your question about "Morals" in movies, I certainly believe in the concept that a story ought to have a moral, like "Crime doesn't pay" or "You can't always get what you want, but if you try sometimes you get what you need."  This can also be called "Having a point," which most modern movies lack.  However, what you're really asking is, does a story have to be morally uplifting?  And I don't agree with that.  I am a huge "Godfather I & II" fan, and as you point out, we're being asked to empathize, nee sympathize, with criminals, just as we are in "Bonnie and Clyde."  These are known as "Anti-hero" movies.  My criteria is that the writing must be good enough to make these criminals seem human, then as a fellow human I can both empathize and sympathize.  With the single exception of "It's a Wonderful Life," I'll take "Godfather I & II" and "Bonnie and Clyde" over all of Frank Capra's movies.

Josh

Name:              Jason Roth
E-mail:             oxboy30@gmail.com

Dear Josh: 

I don't know if you are still involved with the Mitten Movie Project in any way- but I'm premiering a short film there this coming Tuesday (Oct 7.)

If you feel like dropping by it'd be cool to meet you.  You've become kind of an unofficial indie filmmaking (tor)mentor for me after reading your writings over the years.

Glad to hear your business is underway.  Hope to see a new film from you in the near future.

Best,
Jason (happy belated 50th!  It's the new 30, I hear)

Dear Jason:

Thanks for the birthday wishes.  Don't be fooled for a second, 50 isn't the new anything other than 50.  As Robert DeNiro says in "Awakenings," "I'm just the glue that holds my bad habits together."  Meanwhile, I'll try to make it if I can, but I don't know.  I was never actually involved with the Mitten Movie Project, other than the screenings of a few of my films.

Josh

Name:              Kenneth
E-mail:             evildead167@yahoo.com

Dear Josh:

What is your opinion of the director James Whale? Specifically, what do you think of his musical "Show Boat"? I love the horror films he made (with the exception of "The Old Dark House") and also rather enjoy "Waterloo Bridge" but his work seemed to drop dead creatively after 1936.

Kenneth

Dear Kenneth:

I'm in complete agreement with you.  James Whale had a three-great-movie run: "Frankenstein," "The Bride of Frankenstein" and "The Invisible Man," and that's pretty much his whole career.  And you know what?  Three great movies is a lot.  Nevertheless, Whale's version of "Showboat" isn't all that good (the 1951 remake is better), although I do like Irene Dunne, and Paul Robeson's rendition of "Old Man River" is a classic.  "The Old Dark House" is pretty old and creaky, but it also has some good things, like Boris Karloff and Charles Laughton's performances, and the fact that it's only 71 minutes.

Josh

Name:              Raoul O'Hara
E-mail:             raoulzraoul@yahoo.com   
     
Joshula~

Did you watch the Vice-Prez debates?

I went on the interweb a few hours after it and the Yahoo headline was "Palin holds her own against Biden." Well, I didn't think so. She went with her "folksy" phrases and made several obviously scripted speeches. She didn't even answer a few of the questions put to them. She said to Biden: "I may not answer the way the way you or (Gwen Ifyll) want me to, but I'm gonna talk straight to the American people," and then launched into a speech that had NOTHING to do with the question. The debate would have made an interesting drinking game if you did a shot of liquor every time Palin said the word 'maverick'; you'd have been drunk before it was half over. She also was either wrong or lying about at least nine things she said by my count. Biden made a couple of prepared speeches as well, but they were germane either to the question or Palin's answer, ( when he finally launched into his bit about McCain being a 'maverick' I was laughing and cheering at the same time.) Anyway, it's getting increasingly hard NOT to get my hopes up about Obama being elected our next Prez. Is it just me or do you have a dread of having your hopes crushed again?

Also, a remake is a new version of an original movie. You've seen the 1916 "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea", right? Do you really consider Disney's version a remake? If Disney had based his film on the silent film's script, I guess you could call it that, but he obviously based it on the book and so it has nothing to do with the silent version.

The exception that proves the rule is the recent Will Smith "I am Legend" which is a remake of the "Omega Man" and so John & Joyce Corrington, the screenwriter's of "The Omega Man", are credited before the book's author, Richard Matheson. If they're not crediting the earlier film's screenwriters, I don't think you can call something a remake. I like the slightly altered look of your site. I followed the link to the list of "Movies with Guts Made far from Sissy Hollywood"  which lists "Thou Shalt Not Kill... Except," along with the movie "Combat Shock" which has always reminded me of a cross between "TSNK...E" and "Eraserhead." Have you ever seen it?

Dear Raoul:

In his book, "The Film Encyclopedia," Ephraim Katz defines a "remake" as: "A newer version of a motion picture that had been filmed before."  If you have your own definition, that's swell, but it has little to do with reality, a place I know you only visit on occasion anyway.  Meanwhile, I got so aggravated with Sarah Palin's intensely scripted, non-question-answering, talking points, as well as winking at the camera, that I turned the damn thing off halfway through.  Obama and Biden seem like leaders, McCain and Palin seem like a crappy vaudville ventriloquist routine with two dummies. And no, I haven't seen "Combat Shock."

Josh

Name:              Palin-a-go-go
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

Hey, what do you think of Tina Fey? Mentioning Palin getting her Tina Fey glasses smacked off her pretty face made me wonder.

Do you like Tina Fey? Dislike Tina Fey? Indifferent? Midnight fantasies? Anything at all? :D
Dear Palin-a-go-go:

I think Tina Fey is funny.  I liked "Mean Girls."  Sadly, Sarah Palin handled herself pretty well at the debate, and did not get her Tina Fey glasses smacked off.  She did sound like a non-stop commercial for drilling in Alaska, which will not solve our oil issues.  The sooner we find alternatives to oil the better.

Josh

Name:              Nick
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

Just wanted to say I really liked your essay on Iraq (I sure wish you'd write more - your review of "Unbreakable" nearly made me throw up, it was so funny). The Neo-Cons seem to get dumber, louder, more childish, and more insane every year while living in their self-reinforced bubble of delusion. I'm still utterly appalled McCain got the nomination. Keep in mind that a man who once publicly stated that "I hate the gooks. I will hate them as long as I live" may be our next president.

Since the U.S. went into Iraq with no clearly defined goal, and STILL don't have one, I'm not even sure how Bush and McCain would define victory in Iraq, unless of course victory in Iraq would be "bringin' all them camel fuckers to Jesus." I think George Bush pretty much summed up Republican ideology when he said that "Reading is the basics for all learning."

Dear Nick:

Well, McCain threw in the towel here in Michigan.  In a month he and Palin and Bush and Cheney will all be an ugly, disturbing memory.  A Republican councilwoman knocked on my door the day before yesterday and asked me to vote for her, even though I have Obama signs everywhere.  I said, "I don't vote for Republicans under any circumstances, ever."  She put out her hand and said, "Nice to meet you," and left.  Change is a-comin'.

Josh

Name:              Raoul O'Hara
E-mail:             raoulzraoul@yahoo.com

Josh, Josh , Josh ~

I don't make the rules, Josh, but I know a few. You recently repeated a statement you've made before referring to "The Thin Red Line" as a 'remake', ( you've also said this about the more recent "Pride and Prejudice" and any literary adaptation that had previously been filmed.)

This is clearly nonsensical.

If a literary work is adapted to cinema, it's always gonna be an adaptation, no matter how many previous adaptations there were. The terrific novel "Ishmael" by Daniel Quinn is about a talking gorilla who wants to save the world; it was 'adapted' into the lame film "Instinct" which was about a talking human ( Anthony Hopkins) who killed some gorilla poachers. If someone were now to make a new version of "Ishmael", I assure you it would not be a remake of "Instinct". If the new version uses the source novel, it is a literary adaptation.

Your stubborness in conceding this point makes you seem like a Republican: someone who will never admit a mistake or learn anything new.

Anyway, congrats on the new business and the new book ( I've read almost all the essays & journals in it and I thought the Fangoria review was fairly accurate and eqitable.)

Raoul, Raoul, Raoul:

Okay, nothing is a remake.  Nordoff and Hall wrote a book called "Mutiny on the Bounty."  They made a film out of it in 1935 with Clark Gable.  Then they made a film out of it in 1962 with Marlon Brando.  Then they made a film out of it in 1984 with Mel Gibson, but they dropped the words "Mutiny on" and called it "The Bounty."  These are not remakes?  They're all just reinterpretations of the book?  I suppose that "remake" ought to be dropped from the lexicon as a meaningless word.

Josh

Name:              David R.
E-mail:

Dear Josh: 
       
Any thoughts on Warren Buffett? It's interesting that he remains strongly democratic after accumulating all that wealth. I also read that he lives in a very modest-sized home and drives a small car.

Dear David R.:

Honestly, I don't have any thoughts on him.  He only made money, not movies, so what do I care?  I did just see "The Racket" (1928), one of the nominees for Best Picture in the first Oscars of 1927-28, and directed by Lewis Milestone.  It's one of the very first gangster movies.  It had several rack focuses in it, too, which surprised me.  Snappy picture, starring Lewis Wolheim, who two years later would co-star in Milestone's Oscar-winning, "All Quiet on the Western Front."

Josh

Name:              A.v.E.
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

Republicans have destroyed so much in these last eight years that they can no longer refute the facts. They've sent our nation into an unprecedented state of disarray, and can only say, "You left-wingers are being mean." I also love how the "liberal media" has now become the evil empire. Again, they can't argue the points being made(twice standing behind the worst President in history, sending sons and daughters to "war" for no discernible reason, and fighting for deregulation in financial markets that have gone on to yield the current result), they can only say it's unfair that they're being picked on. Despite the fact that it could be argued that the right-wing voice is the loudest in all of journalism.

I can't wait for this Thursday's vice presidential debate. I'd love to say that it's going to be a slaughter. That the first three rows will be given Gallagher like tarps to cover themselves with. Unfortunately, I know that won't be the case:

Back in high school, a good friend of mine was walking to class when a someone shoved him from behind. My friend turned to see that it was Tobias, a kid who was known for having a sideways foot. His condition gave him a very recognizable saunter. My friend had to choose between walking away, and being seen as the guy that couldn't stand up to Tobias. Or, pushing back - thus earning him the title of "the guy that beat up a cripple."

Joe Biden is in the exact same position as my friend.

Dear A.v.E:

Nice analogy.  You can just bet that Palin is being drilled on her talking points like Alex in "A Clockwork Orange," with her eyes wired open.  The audacity of the oldest presidential candidate ever taking on a complete idiot fundamentalist twit as a VP is insane.  I was out to dinner on Saturday with four others and we were discussing Sarah Palin, and someone likened her to Dan Quail.  Jay, who's a lawyer, said, "I've met Dan Quail, and Sarah Palin is no Dan Quail," which got a big laugh.  Meanwhile, I think it's hysterical that the Repubilcans are blaming the bailout being defeated on Nancy Pelosi, because "she's too partisan."  Karl Rove was even bitching about it, that criminal scumbag.

Josh

Name:              Mike
E-mail:

Heya Josh,

Just wondered if you were looking forward to the VP debates tomorrow. Overall I'm hopefully for a horrific drubbing of Palin - she's shown over and over that she's nothing but an ambulatory talking points mash-up disaster, whereas Biden's been debating and arguing on the floor of the Senate since she was hitting the catwalk as Miss Alaska, or whatever.

 Anyway, hope the equipment rental business is going well!

 Aus,

Mike

Dear Mike:

Yes, I'd like to see Ms. Palin get her shapely ass kicked at the debate, then get her Tina Fey glasses smacked off her pretty face. On the other hand, Joe Biden is a master of sticking his foot in his mouth.  Regarding the equipment rental, I've started renting the stuff, so that's good.

Josh

Name:              Charles
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

Mr. Becker, reading some of your more political essays, you simply reinforce a view I've had for a while... conservatives disagree with liberals, liberals HATE conservatives. For a fifty year-old man to be unable to write about politics without resorting to name calling and juvenile profanity is a little sad.

Dear Charles:

I HATE what the Republicans have done to our country, why shouldn't I say so?  And using the strongest possible language, too.  They were handed a perfectly good country eight years ago and they've done everything they could to destroy it.  Fuck them!!

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

Happy 50th (I'm still a few years away) and I'm glad the Equipment business seems to be panning out. I do hope you can get back to directing at some point. Howard Roark needs to design buildings.

Where would Gary Cooper stand as GOAT actor?

I've been thinking a lot about your point on digital "films" and archiving.  I think the issue is huge in all media, and yet gets very little attention.  Remember paperless offices?  My ass. If anything of any value needs a hard-copy back-up, then anything which doesn't have a hard-copy back-up has no value.  That goes for movies, photos, digital books, music, anything.  One might have been tempted to say that money was one thing which could be handled electronically but that doesn't seem to be going so well just now. Both literally and allegorically I find the archiving issue fascinating.

And I thought I'd let you know.

Again, happy birthday and best o' luck. And thanks as always to you and Shirley for the site. When there's a brief hiatus here, as recently, it's striking how much some of us notice.

John

Dear John:

As an example, on Bruce Campbell's film, "My Name is Bruce," which will be opening in 22 cities over the course of the next three months, from the digital master they made a 35mm negative, then 35mm prints.  My feeling is if you're going to do that, why not just shoot 35mm?  Using that process you then have an inferior-looking negative.  Bruce's film looked really good in digital, so we'll see how the transfer looks.  Having lived through the rise and fall of many different digital formats, I have no doubt that every digital format that's around right now will be rendered useless in a few years.  And like computers and software, nothing is backward compatible.  If you shot your feature in the '90s on D-1 or D-2, which were the very top-end digital formats at the time, you would be hard pressed to get that transfered or duped at this point.  All of the digital formats of the early '00s that are pre-HD are all obsolete now.  In 1988 I shot Rob Tapert's fishing documentary on S-VHS, which looked pretty damn good at the time, and now there's nowhere that can handle that format.

Meanwhile, Shirley's taking a break for a while, after running this website non-stop for a decade (thank you, Shirley), and Kevin Neece, the Wine Drinking Critic, is running things for now (thank you, Kevin).

I love directing movies, but if I never make another movie like "Harpies," which contains nothing I'm proud of, that'll be all right.  I really only want to make my scripts, and seemingly no one else is interested in them.

Regarding Gary Cooper, I'd say he made 23 great films, and that's a lot.  Of course, he started in the silents so he has a large filmography.

Josh

Name:              Doug
E-mail:

Dear Josh: 
       
What are your thoughts on the death of Paul Newman. I think it's a great loss.

Dear Doug:

I loved Paul Newman, and thought he was one the great actors and stars of his generation.  I personally don't think people dying at 83 years old to be a great loss, it's just the way of life.  And very, very few people had or have as full of a life as he did. He was also a fine example of a human being, married for 50 years to Joanne Woodward, he gave million to charity, and just seemed like a truly nice man.  Bruce Campbell worked with him on "The Hudsucker Proxy."  Newman came up to Bruce at a point and said, "Could you do me a favor and run lines with me?"  Bruce, of course, said yes, and went back Newman's trailer with him.  He said he just couldn't remember his lines anymore.  Bruce said it was a great thrill and honor for Paul Newman to have asked him in the first place, and he couldn't have been nicer.  I think Paul Newman was brilliant in: "Somebody Up There Likes Me," "Long Hot Summer," "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof," "The Hustler," "Sweet Bird of Youth," "Hud," "Harper," "Hombre," "Cool Hand Luke," "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid," "Sometimes a Great Notion" (also director), "The Sting," "Fort Apache, the Bronx," "Absence of Malice," "The Verdict," "The Color of Money," Mr. and Mrs. Bridge," and "Empire Falls."  One Helluva career.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

Have you been watching the special documentary on Warner Brothers on PBS? It's called "You Must Remember This," and is very well done. It runs through Thursday 9/25 (but I'm sure will be rerun over and over.) Details at http://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/episodes/warner-bros/you-must-remember-this/281/ . Richard Schickel put it together, and the part dedicated to the early years draws heavily on his "Men Who Made the Movies" interviews, especially with Howard Hawks. I know Wyler is your man, but I've always thought there were a lot of similarities between you and Hawks, including your abilty to move back and forth naturally between drama, action and comedy. There was a clip that reminded me very much of your style, from a movie I haven't seen:  it was a war movie, where an airplane crew watches their skipper die, and they go through the check-list with him as if he's heading out into the great beyond.  Very spare, very simple, very moving.

Anyway, curious as to your thoughts on this special, if you've seen it.

Regards,

August

Dear August:

I watched part one, but I haven't watched part two yet.  The film you're referring to is "Air Force," and it's a darn good film.  It has a great set-up: an air force flight crew takes off from San Francisco.  When they get in the air they open their orders and find that they're heading to Pearl Harbor and the date is Dec. 6, 1941.  They arrive the next morning in Hawaii just as it's being attacked.  There's also some terrific miniatures of blasted, burning Oahu from the air.  What's weird about Warners is how liberal and issue-minded they were in the '30s and half of the '40s, then how conservative and red-baiting they became after the war, completely embracing the blacklist.  Sadly, they never found a head of production as good as they're first two, which was Darryl Zanuck, then Hal Wallis.  Zanuck went off and started 20th Century-Fox, and his heyday was the '40s through the '60s; Hal Wallis became an independent producer and made films for the next thirty years.  Warners sort of never recovered, although they're still going strong today, but there's no longer the clear sense of "Oh, that's a Warner Bros. picture" like there used to be.  Of course, the same can be said of all of the studios now.  Back in the '30s and '40s all you had to do was watch a minute or two of a movie to know which studio made it because they were a all so distinct, not to mention the specific contract players.

Anyway, I enjoyed the show.

Josh

Name:              Jack Alderton
E-mail:             dogstogs@blueyonder.co.uk

Dear Josh:
         
In 20th Century History (I'm now taking the Subjects for my End-of-School-Exams) we've just been looking at the Sinking of the RMS Lusitania that brought America into WWI. We saw a Propaganda Poster following the Sinking that features a Giant Gorilla with a German-style Spiked Helmet on, carrying a Damsel in Distress as he steps out of the Water onto Land with "America" Written on it and the trashed remains of Europe in the Background. My Teacher mentioned somewhat off-handedly that the Giant Gorilla was meant to be King Kong as it was a big Film at the Time. I pointed out that there was a slight problem with that: the Lusitania was Sank in 1916, King Kong came out in 1933. My Teacher then said that there was a really old (emphasis on "really") Silent Film Version of the Film. I really, really doubt this, but I wanted to know if you had heard anything about this, you being - let's see... 36 years older  than me -and knowing a Hell of a lot more about Films than me. Also, one route to getting your Films mad is that over here in England / the U.K. of G.B. the B.B.C. (sure you've heard of them) have this thing on their Website (bbc.co.uk) called the Writer's Room (just Type it in the Search Bar) where Writers of any age (I'm hoping to take advantage of this sometime) can Mail in Unsolicited Scripts for, amoung other things, Feature Films. I'm sure you'd have a chance.

Dear Jack:

Thanks for the info. As you suspect, the very first filming of "King Kong" was in 1933 and there's no silent version. Willis O'Brien, the animator of "King Kong," had made one silent feature in 1925, "The Lost World," but there are no giant apes in it. Nor would it explain the 1916 propaganda poster, which I've seen, and it's simply a gorilla with a spiked helmet, not King Kong.

Josh

Name:              JoeD
E-mail:            

Dear Josh:
         
I was looking fotr the essay of Norman Mailer on The Thin Red Line, but instead ran into this site. It's hilarious of you criticizing Terrence Malick as a bad filmmaker when you wrote episodes of Xena. Oh and The Thin Red Line is not a "remake" of another film, which is why no one mentions this. If it can be called "remake", then it's a "remake" of the novel, not the other film. The Thin Red Line didn't borrow an shots from Platoon like you claimed. That's all that needs to be sai to the boom operator of evil dead.

Dear JoeD:

If a book was made into a movie, then it was made into a movie again, that's the definition of a "remake."  Otherwise, what do you think it means? Meanwhile, I did more than write a few Xenas, I directed nine of them. I was a real part of that show, and I'm proud to say so. It's some of my best work, so far. And yes I did hold the boom for some scenes of "Evil Dead," as well as run sound, load the camera, and do a lot of the lighting, too. I'm proud of that as well. Regarding Terrence Malick, I saw "Badlands" when it came out and thought it was brilliant and that Malick had an incredible future ahead of him. Then "Days of Heaven" came out, and Nestor Almendros's photography was gorgeous, but dramatically the movie just sits there like a ton of wheat.  And having the little girl narrate, which worked perfectly in "Badlands" with Sissey Spacek, doesn't work at all in "Days of Heaven." Let's just say that I was very disappointed. Then, with each preceding film, as well as a 20-year hiatus, each new Terrence Malick film is worse than the one before, with even more ridiculous narration issues. The endless stream of narrators in "Thin Red Line" is, in my opinion, an utterly drama killing decision. That last film, "The New World," was truly painful to sit through, and also has multiple narrators.

Josh

Name:              Wine D. Critic
E-mail:             http://winedrinkingcritic.t35.com/main.html

Dear Josh:

Saying I converted is such a nice way of saying I ran like hell and never looked back. I spit on 2006 and I'm enjoying my vacation in 1971.

You were indeed the first of three inspirations, the other two being a Nordling post on Chud.com called "Are we looking at the past cinema through filtered eyes?" and a reply email from Author Jan Herman stating he agreed that the FOCUS was on a lot of rotten movies.

One 90s film I like is FAR AND AWAY, because its beautifully shot, funny, and BADLY WRITTEN, and all the critics called Ron Howard on it for taking the 70mm Historical Epic and aiming it at teenagers. How often does that happen today?

The most recent film I enjoyed was BIG JAKE, mostly because of the structure that feels modern because its been re-used by modern action films (I'm thinking ALIENS for some reason). The boy is kidnapped. A team is gathered together with State-of-the-Art equipment to deliver the ransom (in this case its automobiles and motorcycles in the old west). It looks like a cake walk. Then they're ambushed and lose their modern day vehicles and have to go on horses. Then they're told that a whole town of people are going to try and steal the ransom, and the boy will still die if that happens. Then it turns out there never was a ransom, the Mother and John Wayne had an understanding that the kidnappers are to die whether the boy lives or not. So there is no doubt that his life is really on the line in the trade-off. And then you have snipers and machetes killing half the team in the climax. I love this movie.

Dear Wine:

I enjoyed "Big Jake," too (for a silly, late, John Wayne movie), except that they used modern dirt bikes in the old west. I thought "Far and Away" was just miserable, and endless.

Josh

Name:              Diana Hawkes
E-mail:             Upon Request

Dear Josh:

Want to give a shout-out to Blake for indulging me with a Picnic at Hanging Rock opinion. Guess I didn't spark a long discussion with that one. *chuckle* I remain puzzled why it supposedly put Weir on the map. I like to go to Rotten Tomatoes after I've seen movies that especially intrigue or frustrate me to see what the concensus might be. Apparently it was a wildly popular story and so the film version was bound to get attention. Oh well.

I've been having insomnia lately and have been watching IFC a lot. Anyone have any recommendations on their schedule? Oh - I flipped over to Turner Classic, and finally saw The Shootist start to finish. I loved Lauren Bacall. I wish she would have had more scenes (or longer scenes) with Wayne.

Was she up for awards for this one?

Dear Diana:

Everybody in "The Shootist" is great. The only nomination it got, however, was for art direction, which it didn't win. But that was a good year for movies, 1976. "Taxi Driver," "All the President's Men," "Network," "Rocky," "Carrie," "Face to Face," "Bound for Glory," "Marathon Man." In a year like that with a lot of good films a terrific film like "The Shootist," with an all-star cast, great direction and writing, could come out and be ignored. Really wonderful opening montage of the Duke getting older.

Josh

Name:              C. Bruce
E-mail:            

Dear Josh:

I'm sorry that you think so low of the humour in Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz as I feel those two films have very clever storytelling and structuring from at least a technical level. I believe I have quite a good grasp of story structure and I can't help but disagree with you when you claim that NO ONE working today knows how to tell a story, no one might be telling the types of story's with the themes that you enjoy but I find the claim that there are no well structured films being produced quite extreme but hell, at the end of the day what do I care what films you or anyone else likes. A film I find compelling still comes out every now and again, not as many as I would like but just enough to still have faith in filmmaking. So in conclusion, sorry no one is making the types of films that give you joy. I've read enough bad scripts especially by my peers with absolutely no regard for any sort of theme or structure but I still find rays of light here and there.

Dear C:

There's certainly nothing wrong with being optimistic, and it probably keeps you in a better frame of mind than me. I do start off watching each movie with a hopeful, positive attitude, but I've been let down so often by modern movies that it's really killed my optimism. Take "Hot Fuzz" as an example. The direction and editing were pretty snappy -- actually, too snappy for a comedy, in my opinion -- but after 15-20 minutes without a single laugh, I really began to hate the film. After 30 minutes with no laughs I turned it off. The premise of a super cop being sent to a small town could've been funny, but not with a lead character who's deathly grim and utterly humorless. Also, on a screenwriting level, there's nothing compelling about the story. I just watched a new (meaning 2007) film that was fairly well-written, "Fracture," but there was enough other things wrong with the film to make it immediately forgettable. It was also reasonably well-directed and nicely photographed. But from early on when we keep seeing Anthony Hopkins sitting in prison, lit from below, portraying a super intelligent criminal, it's so painfully reminiscent of "Silence of the Lambs," but not a tenth as good (and I'm not a huge fan of that film, either), that it just drained the interest out of it. Also, Ryan Gosling, who's a fine actor in the right part, is seriously miscast as the super intelligent hotshot lawyer. He resorts to rubbing his face the whole movie to express his confusion. Ultimately, I got the feeling that the film was made by a machine and not by humans. And what the title "Fracture" has to do with anything is beyond me. I did sit through the whole film, and the writing was compelling, but they never got me to care, and without that element it can't be good. As my friend Rick said, "If I care, I can have a good time; if I don't care, I can't have a good time."

Josh

Name:              Michael Lang
E-mail:            

Dear Josh:

Just finished gobbling up RUSHES. Kudos to you for writing such a fun, informative book. I guess I have been a fan of your for years. Saw THOU SHALL KILL...on 42nd Street back in the late 80's(perfect venue for viewing that film), bought a VHS copy of IF I HAD A HAMMER from you four or five years ago(good, solid movie, I found the final shot of the film very poignant). Searching right now for a copy of LUNATICS and have RUNNING TIME and ALIEN APOCALYPSE poised in my Netflix queue. Hopefully you can come down to the University of Tampa(I am a professor there) early next year. Your experiences and insights would be very illuminating to the students.

Dear Michael:

I'm glad you enjoyed the book. Yes, TSNKE's natural home was in grindhouses like on 42nd St. It played at the Gratiot Drive-in Theater here in Detroit for about two months, where folks would honk their horns after each killing. We'll see if we can work out my coming there at some point in the winter.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

That travelogue of beautiful Bulgarian countryside and medieval ruins that you shot, with Stephen Baldwin and the lovely Kristin Richardson narrating, is airing on Sci-Fi on Sat. afternoon, 9/27 at 5 PM EDT. Oddly, someone seems to have spliced in some scenes from a Renaissance Festival or something, plus out-takes from something about harpies. But just thought I'd pass the word along. :)

So is the equipment rental business up and running? Any stories, good or bad?

And, on an utterly unrelated topic, you often mention the positive influence of your parents and those of your friends when you were a child, as far as being exposed to old movies, local theatre, etc. How are Mom and Dad Becker doing, and for that matter Mom and Dad Raimi? And for that matter, Big Sisters Becker and Raimi, who I seem to recall you mentioning were far bigger troublemakers than you ever were.

Thanks,

August

Dear August:

Always a pleasure to hear from you, sir. Quite frankly, I was hoping that "Harpies" had already disappeared into oblivion. No doubt it will very soon, but it can't be soon enough for me. I mean, I can barely watch  "Alien Apocalypse," with its shockingly shoddy production, and that was a milestone for Sci Fi. But "Harpies" is poor even by Sci Fi standards. I will forever savor my buddy Paul's comment upon seeing the film -- "It's not the worst film in the world because it's competently directed." Meanwhile, equipment-wise, things are starting to happen. Real movies actually keep showing up and shooting here. And once all of the UPMs and 1st ADs realize that I'm the best place to rent this equipment here in Detroit, that my stuff is properly packed in indestrucible cases and meant to be on movie sets, it should even get better. As for siblings, all are well. I saw my Mom and Dad, as well as Mr. and Mrs. Raimi, at my surprise 50th birthday party, and they're all fine, too. Now if we can just get the goddamned Republicans out of office, life will really start to improve for everybody. My Obama lawn signs are on the way. I got extra for my neighbors.

Vote Obama!

Josh

Name:              Bob
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

Your comments about Israel are interesting. My way of thinking is maybe Israel and the Palestinian areas should all be merged into one.  Maybe there could be a Jewish senate and a Palestian majority House.  Either way, the situation today is much different than it was in 1948.  When Israel was created, more or less by the British, the British still accepted that some people were more suited to rule than others. That way of thinking gave us Iraq and South Africa.  In some ways it may be true considering the success of the Israeli state.  On the other hand you have the incessant call for democracy.  That's why maybe a merged Israel-Palestine might be an idea.  The Israelis can't compete on numbers alone, if that is the game.

On a more pleasant note, what do you think of the movie Silent Running with Bruce Dern.  I think it is great.  I am surprised at how many people have never heard of it, and those around at the time.  Why would such a movie be forgotten?

Dear Bob:

I watched "Silent Running" again last year, after having not seen it since it was released, and I found it painfully dated and utterly ridiculous, with a really silly score.  Nice special effects.

Josh

Name:              Alex Spivey
E-mail:             alexspivey@gmail.com

Josh

where can i find out more about your film The Horribleness? I am more than intrigued.

Dear Alex:

This would be the only place.  I wrote the script with my buddy Paul Harris, and I think it turned out very well.  I thought I almost had it set up, starring Bruce, Ted, Ellen Sandweiss and a bit part for Sam, and it fell through twice.  I suggested to Paul that we post it (as well as the next script we wrote, "It's a Lost, Lost World"), but he wasn't into it. Presently, nothing is happening with either script.

Josh

Name:              Jason
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

Reading your rants on cinema, I think it's painfully clear that "good writing" and "creativity" aren't nearly as dead as you think they are. The problem is that modern art no longer conforms to your notions of how it should be. Your criticisms read like a wine critic who only likes one type of wine from one type of winery, and I think it's a cop-out to shrug off this disdain as being "the fault of comic books, commercialism, and low IQs." There's an entire world of interesting cinema being produced in this day in age - from indies to foreign titles to the rare studio gems - and instead of thumbing your nose at it all, why don't you read up on some modern film theory to see why your fellow cinema buffs still enjoy movies?

Dear Jason:

Were it only true, but it's not.  Beckerfilms old friend and longtime visitor, the Wine Drinking Critic, has been putting together a very interesting website for quite a while now -- http://winedrinkingcritic.t35.com/1973.html -- showing the posters of nearly all the films released in any given year (I've included the link for 1973, but he's already got quite a few choices from the '70s through the present), in the order that they were released.  If I may take a tiny bit of credit here, I think at least a little bit of his inspiration for putting this huge project together was my constant rants about this subject.  I believe he was of a somewhat similar frame of mind as you until actually seeing what came out when, then he converted.  What I learned from looking at this site was that there were an enormous amount of shitty movies released every year that far outnumber the good films.  But if you keep clicking down (and 1973 is a perfect example), every few weeks, or a month, or sometimes even more, there's suddenly a spate of terrific films, then it goes back to pure crap for the next several weeks or a month.  As you keep following these lists through to the present, there keeps being less and less good movies released each year.  By the time you get into the '90s and the aughts, there really aren't any good films anymore.  You just keep clicking and clicking and clicking and never get to the good ones.  It's like comparing "Taxi Driver" to "The Departed."  Or as someone here just did, comparing "The Big Country" to "There Will Be Blood."  You may think I'm a snob, and perahps I am, but I love good movies and I hate bad movies.  I have no tolerance for poorly-written movies, and if you don't have the three-act structure down, you're a shitty, amateur, hack of a screenwriter.  The only way to get beyond the three-act structure is to master it.

Josh

Name:              andrew michaels
E-mail:             yankee_fan231@hotmail.com

Dear Josh:

Dear Josh, I just wanted to direct you and your readers attention to this website http://www.rideaccidents.com/

Unbelieveable stuff! Could definitely be made into a movie, don't you think?

Dear andrew:

Quite frankly, no, I don't think amusement park accidents are movie material.  They tried it with "Rollercoaster," and even in SenSurround it sucked.  Personally, I hate rollercoaster, and the like.  But what makes them exciting is the possibility that you might die, and that possibility is based on the fact that every year people actually do die on them.  Like when mountain climbers die scaling some gigantic mountain, I don't think it's a tragedy, it's simply a very possible outcome for that activity.  Or race car drivers dying in crashes during races -- not a tragedy.

Josh

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

Hey Josh

Can I have a little rant?!?

I read that the director of 'The Strangers' was working as a dolly grip for a producer. He pitched the idea of 'The Strangers' to the producers, who gave him the green light. The director said he then had to go away and read books on directing!!!

Ebert said 'The Strangers' is VERY thin on story but it shows promise for the director.

Jeez - wish someone would give me a few million to make my mistakes in public.

I can't get my head round this nepotism thing.

I was watching a TV program about the affects of punk; a few eighties musicians were saying: 'Punk made us realise you didn't need to learn all the chords, like a seventies band like Genesis. You could learn a few chords, or even easier, get a synth, and you were off.'

I think we're living in a society of chancers, rather than people who constantly endevour to study their art.

It really pisses me off. I guess what I'm saying is: LIFE AIN'T FAIR!!!

Lee

Dear Lee:

No, life isn't fair, particularly in the movie business.  When Xena was cancelled in 2001 and I went out to the studios and production companies attempting to get movies made or direct TV shows, I consistently ran into a brick wall of not only being pigeon-holed as a TV director, but as a low-budget, cable TV director.  The fact that Xena had been quite a big hit meant nothing; the fact that I brought every episode I directed in on time and on budget meant nothing; the fact that I'd written and directed four indie features and directed one TV movie at that point meant nothing.  They wouldn't take me seriously as a feature director, nor was I "network approved" to do network TV shows.  Yet kids coming right out of film school, or kids who'd directed one or two music videos, were being hired all over the place.  The moral of the story, as I see it, is that Hollywood not only doesn't care about experience, they have disdain for it.  And since no one out there has ever read a good script or seen a good movie, they have no clue what they're trying to do.  I've spent my whole life educating myself in screenwriting, film direction, and production, and it's truly all for naught.  It's like at the end of "Unforgiven" when Clint has the rifle in Gene Hackman's face, and Hackman says, "I don't deserve this," Clint replies, "Deserve's got nothin' to do with it" and kills him.

Josh

Name:              McCain-Hater
E-mail:             mccain-hater@yahoo.com

Dear Josh:

Wow...is it just me, or did McCain throw in the towel already?

SARAH PALIN??? Runner up Miss Alaska 1984????? Ms. "No abortion even if the mother is twelve years old, was raped--by her BROTHER, and she'll die if she goes through with it"?????????????

And he has the AUDACITY to question Obama's experience????????????????????????????????????

You gotta be kidding me!

It's not HUMANLY possible for America to be so stupid as to elect them, is it Josh? Cynical as we all may be, come on, it's just not POSSIBLE, right?

One more gripe about McCain, since this is all anonymous anyway. We call him a war hero because he was shot down and taken captive and tortured and survived--I get that, it's a terrible, terrible thing that happened, and any man or woman in uniform deserves nothing less than our utmost respect. But how come no one ever seems to bring up the fact that he SIGNED A CONFESSION blaming America for atrocities of war? No doubt, he was under great duress at the time, but there are MANY examples of soldiers in similar circumstances who would NEVER sign such a document, as it was turned around and used as propoganda AGAINST us. And McCain buckled.

I'm not saying that I could withstand whatever pain that was inflicted upon him, I'm just saying...the man gave in and gave them what they wanted while other soldiers didn't. He may be a hero, but there were plenty of others in his position who were more heroic and selfless.

And let's not even get into the fact that he dumped his wife--who was faithful to him in his absence--as soon as he could because she was in a debilitating car accident, and he ran off and married a cute young blond who was LOADED. I don't necessarily begrudge him that either...but let's face it:

This guy's character--and judgement--is damn questionable.

Dear MH:

Hey, you're preaching to the choir.  Hell, I wouldn't vote for any Republican ever under any circumstances.  As far as I'm concerned, to vote for anyone who holds even the most tenuous connection to this present adminsitration is sedition.  Bush, Cheney, and all the rest of these assholes are traitors who made a serious attempt at destroying our beloved country, and ought to be up on charges and facing prison terms.  Anyone who wants any policy of this administration continued hates America, plain and simple.

Josh

Name:              Kris
E-mail:

Dear Mr. Becker, because of your advice, I went out and bought Bridge On The River Kwai. It's now become one of my favorite movies. It's a movie I can watch over and over without ever tiring. I've watched it at least 12 times. I'm still finding new neauances to enjoy. It's also inspired me (along with your essays on script writing) to be a better script writer.

Thanks once again and God bless :)

Kris

Dear Kris:

Screenplays don't get any better than that.  That's the reason I started this website a decade ago, and also the reason I wrote my book, "The Complete Guide . . .", was an attempt to clue people into screenwriting. Sadly, I don't think it's taken at all.  Modern movies are so poorly written that it makes no difference who's in them or who directs them.  When I watch "Kwai" now I become nostalgically depressed.

Josh

Name:              Kristie
E-mail:

Dear Josh,

I just re-read your account of meeting Rick Sandford, and I saw a parallel. The last words you heard Rick speak were literally "The Magnificent Ambersons," and for me this recalls William Goldman's great novel "Temple of Gold" (which you've said at some point you read and quite liked)... before Zock, the protagonist Ray's best friend, is killed in a car accident, the last words he speaks (while Ray is drunkenly speeding along the highway) are "The temple of gold," referring to "Gunga Din," which the two characters saw as children and loved. Very moving and haunting, and your experience with Rick is kind of similar - having his final words to you being a recollection of a film both of you loved.

Just an obsersation. Hope all is well on your front.

Kristie

Dear Kristie:

Yes, interestingly similar.  I did enjoy all of those William Goldman books as a kid.  I just watched "Butch Cassidy" again and that's a terrific screenplay.

Josh

Name: Mickey Fisher
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

Wish the Roosevelt was being filmed.

Dear Mickey:
 
You ain't the only one.  I'm pretty proud of that script.  Meanwhile, I spoke at length to a not-all-that-young (35?) filmmaker yesterday, who's just finishing his first feature and sounded very intelligent . . . right up to when Batman was mentioned, and he went goo-goo about how Batman is so incredibly imortant in his life.  Suddenly, I could care less about anything he's doing or might do in the future.  This same thing happened a few weeks ago, too (except for that guy it was ALL superheroes).  I truly find this whole thing horribly pathetic.  The second you admit that comic books are your main inspiration for becoming a filmmaker, as far as I'm concerned you've totally let yourself off the hook from ever learning how to tell a rational story or writing a decent screenplay.  Oh well.
 
Josh

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

Josh,

Tore through Rushes in a day.  It was a great read.  The Harpies chapter was painful to read.  Tapert doesn't come off particularly well, it's kind of amazing you're still friends.

I recently watched There Will Be Blood and your man Wyler's The Big Country back to back.  TWBB felt like 30 minutes of story stretched to 3 hrs.  Big Country used every bit of its running time (sic) to pack as much story and character in as possible.  It's one of my new faves.  Thanks for hyping it up, it didn't disappoint.  Incredible score too!

Hope your business takes off.  I find myself in Detroit area every so often, it'd be great to meet you one of these days and say hi.

Cheers!
Jason

Dear Jason:

I'm very glad you enjoyed "Rushes."  I haven't heard from Rob in about a year.  Yes, "The Big Country" is a helluva movie, and a brilliant example of the importance of having a theme.  When you know what your theme is, and who your main character is, then everything flows out of that.  Not only is Gregory Peck perfect for the role (he was also co-producer), but I contend that it's Charlton Heston best role.  He has several great lines that he delivers perfectly, like, "You were the lostest thing I've ever seen," and "I thought you were stupid, but I didn't think you were THIS stupid."  The final fight is a cinematic masterpiece.

Josh

Name:              Steven Millan
E-mail:             stevmillan@gmail.com

Dear Josh:            

Now that Barack Obama has chosen Joe Biden as his Vice Presidential running mate,do you think that Obama stands a chance at winning this year's Presidential election(and becoming our next Presdient),since John McCain surprisingly hasn't yet chosen his VP running mate(which is quite a surprise for someone that the Republicans desperately want to win[the White House back for them once again]).

And what is your view on this offshore oil drilling business,for the Republicans pretty much bypassed Congress in getting their way with conducting this enviormentally-dangerous business(to lower their[parties' controlled]gas prices and help the Republicans another White House win,as well as bash and slander the Democrats for something their party didn't do[since,as we know it,the Republicans control our nation's economy,gas prices,and so on]).

Dear Steven:

Wow, that was a lot parenthetical asides, with bracketed asides within the asides.  I don't care what the Republicans do, nor do I give the slightest shit how the TV news reports it.  Barack Obama will win because the Republicans have proven beyond a doubt that they have no idea how to govern, and are the worst thing that's ever happened to the USA (far worse than 9/11).  Off shore drilling is a joke, and extremely hazardous joke at that. America uses 25% of the world's oil, and we have 3% of the world's oil reserves left beneath us.  If we start drilling now, we may get a trickle of oil in 2030, but nothing substantial because it's not there.  Meanwhile, John McCain is a fool, and the extension of any of Bush's policies will be a disaster.  Nor do I believe McCain can get any of the younger people to vote for him.  And what the media is not mentioning at all is the plethora of disgruntled Republicans, like my father, who seriously believe in the concepts of the free market, and the need for a strong economy, and no matter what the RNC says, the reality is that they've destroyed our economy, mainly from starting an totally unnecessary, and severely expensive, war. My Dad will not vote for McCain.  The Republicans up the street from me, who had Bush-Cheney signs all over their lawn in 2004, as well as Mitt Romney signs a few months ago, have not put up a McCain sign.  The polls know nothing, and the media wants drama, which they'll happily create even when it's not there.  McCain has no chance.

Josh

Name: Chris
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

Nice website - just happened across it looking for Rise Shaving Foam - and Google 'hit' on your story about buying Rise from the .99 store. Good ole Google. Wow, I can't believe how much we are alike in our likes/dislikes and humor. Anyhow, nice site!

Dear Chris:
 
Welcome.  I'm glad you enjoyed the site.  What are some of our similar likes and dislikes?
 
Josh

Name: Susan Olsen
E-mail: rhodapenmark8@aol.com

Dear Josh:

Just wanted to give you kudos. This isn't myspace so I have to write to you to do that. I found your site by googling "Religion is Evil" only to find that you and I seem to agree on lots of other things that are evil. I grew up in "show business". I've also been toying with the idea of living in Oregon. Living here in Mexifornia is just living on borrowed time. One day God will prove he exists by creating the big earthquake. I'd rather not be in that scene.
Anyway, I've not read a whole lot on your site but just wanted to say that what I have read I've enjoyed and been inspired by. I will be back for more.
Be Well,
Susan

Dear Susan:
 
Good to hear from another rational person.  I find it interesting that the two essays of mine that receive the most responses are: "99-Cent Stores" and "Religion is Evil."  Meanwhile, after moving from L.A. to Jacksonville, Oregon, where I lived for a year, I then moved back to Michigan, where I'm from.  I've been here for six years now, and I don't think I'll be moving anywhere else again.  If I'd moved to Portland, maybe I'd have to stayed since Portland is a terrific town.  But Jacksonville was just too remote for me.  The nearest "big" town was Medford, which ain't very big, although it's a nice little town (possibly the size of Flint, MI).  What do you mean by having grown up in "show business"?  As you know, there are no people like show people.
 
Josh

Name:              Blake Eckard
E-mail:             bseckard@jagtec.net

Dear Josh:         

I was wondering how you'd respond to ol' Welles the actor.

But, still...you didn't have to remind me we're talking about "great" films.  Each and every film I chose is pretty well considered a "classic" by any terms today.  Like 'em or not Josh, "Journey into Fear," "The Lady From Shanghai," "Compulsion," and even "Catch 22" are considered classics, (and "Jane Eyre," to me, is a most wonderful, wonderful film!  Way better than "The Stranger.")  In fact, I was going off your saying Tom Hanks has been in 7 great films, (still trying to figure out what ones you consider "great") including 2 as Voice Over in "Toy Story's 1 & 2"  (which served as my inclusion of Welles the narrator, since he was famous as one in so many films).  From what I can tell, the other five films you picked for Hanks must be "Sleepless in Seattle," "Phildelphia," "Forrest Gump," "Apollo 13" (YUCK!  Another lame, Ron Howard-directed piece of shit), and "The Green Mile."  To me, I would only consider two of those up to par...(God forbid you're thinking "Big").  And, as I'm thinking about it, are we to not consider "Saving Private Ryan" because you (and many of us readers) don't like it?  It's certainly a "famous" and highly honored picture.  It's an odd situation...what really is a "classic" or "great" film?

Anyway...I have something to add about "Picnic at Hanging Rock."  The full and short of it is it has always bored me.  I own it and remember being totally with it for the first hour or so. There are many enigmatic elements of the film.  It's very spooky for a film shot in full sun-lit locations, is well acted, has (in the first hour) a pace that let's one know danger is coming, and totally stands as most sexual film I've ever seen that contains zero sex or nudity.  Yet, it doesn't go anywhere or mean anything, thus Diana's words "What The Hell Was That...?"  At the end, I found it all infuriating.  I remember feeling the same way after Tarkovsky's "Stalker," where we watch three people walk through the "zone" for nearly 3 hours, waiting and waiting for something to happen, the photography and lighting brilliant, tension rising...only to find that...NOTHING HAPPENS BECAUSE NOTHING IS THERE.  I was 16 when I saw that (one of my first tries with foreign film) and I vividly recall screaming "BULLSHIT" at the TV.

What's odd is that I respect both Tarkovsky and Weir as filmmakers, although I don't particularly like any Tarkovsky films (save for "Solaris,") and the two Peter Weir films you mentioned enjoying I find totally fucking boring.  I did like, however, "Witness," and "The Truman Show."

Anyway, there's some thoughts for Diana and "Picnic at Hanging Rock."

Blake

Dear Blake:

This is all extremely subjective.  You're absolutely right, though, about Tom Hanks.  Legitimately, I don't think he should be included at all, but I was just trying to be somewhat contemporary, which is clearly not one of my strong suits.  However, I honestly don't know when "Compulsion" or "Catch-22" became classics.  I did just see a very interesting film starring Orson Welles -- "Black Magic" (1949), where he plays the 17th century hypnotist, Cagliostro.  Apparently, Welles co-directed the film, with Gregory Ratoff, but uncredited.  Very well photographed in black and white, and shot in Europe.  Welles gives a big performance, but the part calls for it.  Not great by any means, but consistently interesting, and young Raymond Burr is in one scene.

Josh

Name:              josh pecker
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

my name is josh pecker and i am a flaming doosh bag. i think i'm so smart that i think i know everything and you out there know nothing because you like hollywood movies. doesn't matter that my movies never get made (except when their sci-fi geek of the week things), i'm so cool. i don't believe in god and i like to smoke and i hate kids so that makes me cool. i can be controvresial, woo-wee look at me!

my final thought provoking feeling on this topic is that i'm so cool because i have a webmaster named shirley who i just made up to come off as cool. and...boring black and white generic old movies will always be better then fresh new ones.

bye all!!!!

Dear jp:

Don't forget to buy my book.

Josh

Name:              I wanna be raimi
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

I just read that Sam Raimi is working on a script for Evil Dead 4 with Ivan Raimi. He said so at ComicCon. Do you know anything about it, ol' wise one?

Dear Iwbr:

I heard that, too.

Josh

Name:              Jo'Bama
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

What do you think of Obama's choice of Joe Biden for VP?

Dear Jo'Bama:

I think Joe Biden's a great choice, and I've been predicting it for a month (to my friends, not here on the Q&A).  Biden's got all of the foreign experience being the head of the Foreign Relations Committee, he's been a senator for over 30 years, he's older and he's white.  He's also an ingratiating, funny guy -- he's been on Jon Stewart's show a number of times.  Meanwhile, the staunch Republicans up the street from me, who had Bush-Cheney signs all over their lawn in 2004, then had Mitt Romney signs a few months ago, have never put up a McCain sign.  My Dad's a Republican and he won't vote for McCain.  There may actually be hope.

Josh

Name:              Omar
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

My understanding is that the Palestinians do have a right to vote, and in fact have representation in the Knesset, Israel's legislative branch, as well as Palestinians in their supreme court. If Palestinians had no right to vote, how would these elected officials be placed in office--by quota?

And, nice as it would be to simply give the Palestinians these lands in the West Bank and Gaza, as was originally proposed by the UN partition plan, the fact is these areas are of strategic necessity far as waging war goes. They had these lands initially, then attacked us in '67 and '73 (not to mention Nasser's War of Attrition in between), and in defeating these aggressors we took these lands, as well as the Golan heights, because missiles were being launched from them into neighborhoods and it was our only way to insure security. By giving them back, surely we would be opening ourselves up to future attacks, and then what? The world would again frown upon our re-capturing these regions.

Your thoughts about oppression are well taken, and there is clearly room for improvement in how Israel deals with the Palestinians. Out of curiosity, what do you think of me, an American Jew (of Ashkanasi heritage), using possessives such as "us" and "we" when referring to Israel? Because I truly feel one with its people. If you were to have children (which I know you're certainly not planning on), would you raise them with some semblance of a Jewish identity, despite the fact that you are obviously secular and agnostic (if not athiestic)? I know your feeling is that religion is evil and brings about more harm than it does good, but do you or do you not feel maintaining one's cultural heritage is of any value?

Your thoughts would be most appreciated, as they always are.

Dear Omar:

No, the Palestinians can only vote within their group, they can't vote for Israeli political positions, like prime minister or members of the Knesset, although they do have their own representative in the Knesset.   The Palestinians have as much right to be on that land as the Jews do.  Like you said, the UN partition said the Palestinians were supposed to get their own country and they never got it.  Yasser Arafat didn't even want it. Nevertheless, they should still get it.  And if they fire rockets from their new country into Israel, they'll get the shit kicked out of them by the Israeli military.  But oppressing people in the name of security is still oppression.  Also, I'm neither an Agnostic, nor an Atheist, I just don't believe in religion.  When I say I'm proud to be a Jew, it's on a racial level, like being proud that one is black, or Maori, or whatever.  Jews are an impressive group of people (considering how few there are) and I'm proud to be amongst them.  Luckily, I don't have any kids, nor do I plan to have any, so I don't have to bother with those decisions.

Josh

Name:              Jack Alderton
E-mail:             dogstogs@blueyonder.co.uk

Dear Josh:         

P.S. Just so you know, People can still view the "Making of Running Time" Page via a Link from its Wikipedia Article. Also, you said somewhere that in the first few years of Talkies all the Films were rubbish. Does this include the Universal Horror Classics made in that time (Dracula, Frankenstein, The Mummy, The Invisible Man)?

Dear Jack:

Yes, I'm a master of hyperbole.  I'd say the Lugosi "Dracula" and "The Mummy" are both still caught in the horrible web of early sound, but by 1932 they had it all worked out, so "Frankenstein," "The Invisible Man," and "The Bride of Frankenstein" are all good pictures.  Also, James Whale was much better director than Tod Browning or Karl Freund, who was really a DP.  I mean, come on, have you watched "The Mummy" lately?  It's terrible.  The best thing about it is the opening title in upraised bricks on the side of miniature pyramid on a turntable.

Josh

Name:              Jack Alderton
E-mail:             dogstogs@blueyonder.co.uk

Dear Josh:         

You say that all your Reviews Critisize the Film in question. However, your Reviews for for The Shining (partially) My Big Fat Greek Wedding and Shadrac seem to be Praising the Films. How come? Also, I looked for If I Had A Hammer on YouTube but couldn't find it, just Infinite versions of the Song of the same name (incidentally, on your Wikipedia Filography, "If I Had A Hammer", until I changed it, Redirected to the Song's Article). Please tell me isn't the one where it says "If I Had A Hammer (Good Sound) Part 1", 2, 3, 4, Infinity +1 and Beyond, and if it is, can you put it on a Video Site that lets you Download the Videos so I could arrange the parts on Windows Media Player and Watch it in order?

Dear Jack:

Anything else you'd like me to do?  Yes, it's the version that says "(good sound)," and I didn't post it.  It certainly was easy enough to find.

Josh

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

Dear Josh,

   Regarding Lee Marvin, you're right about his filmography; I must've been typing tired again.  My favorite thing about his performances are the little subtle and not so subtle bits of business he would bring to many of his more minor parts.  Two cases in point:  in BAD DAY AT BLACK ROCK, I liked the bit where Spencer Tracy is looking at his disabled car, and Lee Marvin comes up, says something to the effect of "What's wrong, the ignition wire?", then violently rips the wire out of the starter, and says, deadpan "Yep, it was definitely the ignition wire."
The other instance was in ATTACK!, when Eddie Albert kept pouring just a little bourbon into Lee's glass, and Lee kept tipping the bottom of the bottle to make him fill the glass to the brim.  Little things like that can bring a performance to life.

Dear Darryl:

Lee Marvin was great, although I've heard he was a big pain in the ass to work with.  Burt Lancaster wanted to kill him by the end of "The Professionals."  He'd often show up to work drunk, or just not show up at all.  I believe that "The Professionals" is the direct inspiration for "The Wild Bunch."  They both have at their core the issue of giving your word, and what does that mean?  Meanwhile, I think that "Attack!" is a really terrific movie, and very possibly Jack Palance's best performance.  Eddie Albert couldn't be better, too.

Josh

Name:              Kenneth
E-mail:             khw03@hampshire.edu (don't post it)

Hi Josh,

What is your opinion of Antonioni?  I had the displeasure of watching "Blow-Up" recently.  Dull story, irritating protagonist, no point.  I just don't see why so many people love it. In the book "Easy Riders, Raging Bulls" I remember someone being quoted as saying that that film became popular because it was the first movie widely released in the US to show pubic hair.

I'm going to be buying your new book "Rushes" soon.  By any chance does it contain "Evil Dead Journal" you wrote during that production?

Dear Kenneth:

Yes, "Rushes" does contain my "Evil Dead" Journal, but I expanded it, filling in some stuff between the journal entries.  Meanwhile, "Blow-Up" is one of Antonioni's best films, so if you didn't like that, avoid the others like the plague.  I actually do like "The Passenger" with Jack Nicholson, but I really and truly don't like the Antonioni's films.

Josh

Name:              Omar
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

A) I believe that Israel is the fair (earned and hardwon) homeland of the Jews. I think that they allow a significant portion of Muslims to live there and exercise their right to religious freedom, as well as have represention in the only legitimate democracy in the whole Middle-East, is a testament to their fairness. They are not subject to unfair taxation, nor concentrated descriminatory attacks. There is controversy over the West Bank and Gaza, no doubt, but that people use this as a platform to suggest that Israel has no right to exist is terribly anti-semitic and grossly out of proportion when compared to any of the hundreds of controversial policies of other countries.

Does that answer B) as well?

Dear Omar:

My opinion is that the Israelis have never treated the Palestinians fairly. From the moment in 1948 when the UN declared Israel a state, meaning a country, and all of its neighbors immediately attacked them and were all quickly repelled, Israel has treated the Palestinians as second-class citizens, making them live in specific places, or refugee camps, removing them from the villages where they'd lived for a long, long time to resettle European Jews, and not letting them travel freely.  Israel may well be the only democracy in the neighborhood, but it's not a democracy to the Palestinians, and there are as many Palestinians as there are Israelis. Even though Israel is threatened from all sides by the Arabs, I still think it's impossible for them to take the moral high ground when they're actively oppressing someone else.  In my opinion, in all cases, the opressor is always wrong.  I believe the answer is to give the Palestinians a sizable chunk of the West Bank and Gaza and let them start their own country.  If any Palestinians want to remain in Israel, and many will, they should be given the chance to become full-fledged citizens, with the right to vote.

Josh

Name:              Chuck
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

Considering the trouble you've had getting your screenplays produced, have you ever considered adapting any of them into novels and trying to market them that way? A few of your screenplays would make great books ("Buds," in particular, would be great--although you might need to consult Paul. And "Head Shot" would make a very compelling narrative). I hate to say it, but your work would probably sell easier that way, if only because there are so many markets to sell to. I understand that they are two very different forms of writing, but the process of adapting a screenplay into a novel can't be all that dissimilar to writing a novel from an outline.

Also, you mentioned that "The Horribleness" is being looked at by the company who made "Hot Fuzz" and "Shaun of the Dead"--do you actually like either of those films? And have you heard anything from them?

Dear Chuck:

Don't think I haven't considered novelizing the scripts, but somehow I've never been able to bring myself to do it.  Meanwhile, I just tried to watch "Hot Fuzz" and turned it off after 20 minutes.  It was painfully unfunny.  I probably made it about that far in "Shaun" as well.  And no, I haven't heard back from them.

Josh

Name:              David R.
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

You really think that modern foreign cinema is equally as dull as modern American films? I beg to differ. There have been some excellent, often compelling (foreign) films released in the past 2-3 years, among them: "Persepolis", "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly", "4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days", "Waiting Alone", "The Counterfeiters", "After the Wedding", "The Namesake", "L'Enfant", "Paris, Je t'aime", "49 Up", etc. I can't think of any American films from that time that belong in the company of those.

Dear David:

Since you've seen the films and I haven't, I'll assume you're right.  I have seen all the "Up" films from "28 Up" through "42 Up."  They're the same age as me.  Anyway, thanks for the correction.

Josh

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

Hi ya, Josh!  (~Belated Happy Birthday~)

Regarding Jeff's question (Is there a factor?) within the discussion of great actors and great films - it had me recalling Betty Davis from one of her jaunts to Late Night with David Letterman, way old and still smoking on camera, being praised for her long acclaimed body of work, and being asked how she did it. She just kept saying:  "Good scripts, good directors."
I loved those twilight years visits of hers to Letterman; they played off each other. I think she still wore gloves.  And a hat.

Anyway - I'm writing in hopes of sparking another talk like we all had for my 5 Easy Pieces query:

I just caught Peter Weir's '75 "Picnic at Hanging Rock", originally a popular book with the last chapter containing the "answer" left out for 12 years, supposedly.  (Apparently it was published after the author's death with her permission as "The Secret of Hanging Rock".) It's being played frequently on IFC nowadays, so if anyone has TiVo and wants in on the discussion they can put it on their DVR WishList.


O.K. ...

What.
The.
Hell.
Was.
THAT?

Creepy, pretty movie - but I'm not sure what on earth that was all about! This author of the '67 book - Joan Lindsay, I think she's talented but I suspect she dabbled in a lot of drugs in Austrailia 'round about this time.  Woof!

I'll ask a more specific question if need be, but I wondered what everyone else's overall impressions are/were.

Dear Diana:

"Picnic at Hanging Rock" bored me.  I've never had the slightest interest in seeing it again, and it basically went in one ear and out the other. Regarding Peter Weir, I liked "Gallipoli" and "The Year of Living Dangerously" and nothing else, and certainly not his Hollywood bullshit.

Josh

Name:              Omar
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

Religion recently came up in somebody's question and you mentioned Israel as well as Jews not treating Palestinians fairly, or as equals.

What are you general thoughts on the subject matter? Please be as specific as possible.

Thank you.

Dear Omar:

Let's begin with the fact that I'm a Jew, and proud to be one.  Before we begin a discussion on this topic, I'd like to hear your opinion on two issues: A. Is Israel the homeland of the Jews (as well as the Palestinians)?, B. Do you believe that the Jews are worthy to live in the same world as Muslims?  Please be specific as possible.

Josh

Name:              Danielle
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

I'd like to add Max von Sydow to the list. In addition to starring in a string of remarkable Ingmar Bergman films, Max appeared in "Three Days of the Condor," "Hannah and Her Sisters," "The Exorcist," > and "Pelle the Conqueror." Unfortunately, he has acted in a great deal of garbage as well.

My personal favorite in this "game," however, has to be the previously mentioned Burt Lancaster. Whenever I see his name in a movie description, I pretty much assume the viewing experience will be worthwhile.

Dear Danielle:

Great minds think alike.  You're second one to suggest Max Von Sydow today.

Josh

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

Hey Josh,

First of all, Happy 50th Birthday. Hope you had a good one.

Secondly, I just got Rushes, and have started reading it. One part that had me in hysterics for a good five minutes is reading how the Arri-S used in shooting "Evil Dead" couldn't be put back together by the technicians who tried cleaning it. My God, what the hell were you doing with those cameras?! Actually, I should rephrase that-what WEREN'T you doing with those cameras?!

Another part that had me in hysterics was Bruce stabbing his brother in the arm with a screwdriver during the making of "Stryker's War". So-how did that story end? Did Bruce get his ass kicked by his brother and parents? How many stitches did Don get on his arm?!

Those are some fucked-up stories, dude. Looking forward to reading more.

Dear Saul:

I explained in the book what happened to the Arri-S: we lost the crescent wrench, so we'd put the camera on the shaky-cam (an 18-inch piece of 2x4), tighten the bolt by hand, then twist the camera around until it was firmly attached.  By doing this day after day after day, it actually twisted the camera out of shape.  And there was no real conclusion to Bruce stabbing Don with the screwdriver, other than Don chasing Bruce around the whole neighborhood.  Don's a tough guy, he handled it.  I'm pleased you're getting some laughs out of the book.

Josh

Name:              Tom Robinson
E-mail:             tomr@flash.net

Mr. Becker,

I am seriously abusing your website's "Ask The Director" feature to wish you a Happy Birthday. Love your work. I have also enjoyed reading some of your essays here on the website. (I'll get to them all, eventually.) I'm glad you are proud to call yourself a liberal. I am equally proud to apply the same label to myself. May you have many happy returns of the day, and many successful projects to come.

Dear Tom:

Thanks for the birthday wishes.  There's no chance of me dying young now. Meanwhile, you haven't abused the Q&A as far as I'm concerned.  If you're getting something out of it, so much the better.  In my opinion, a conservative looks to the past and a liberal looks to the future.

Josh

Name:              Kristie
E-mail:

Dear Josh,

I have an actor to nominate: Max Von Sydow. The bigger Ingmar Bergman fan one is, the higher his number of great films, I suppose, but I've always considered him one of the all-time greatest actors. Including the great Bergman films and such pictures as "The Emigrants," "The New Land," "The Exorcist" and "Hannah and Her Sisters," he comes in at around 10 to 15 great movies, with a greater number of interesting movies behind.

Best,
Kristie

Dear Kristie:

I very good choice, and a great actor.  I would immediately have to add "Three Days of the Condor" where Mr. Von Sydow gives perhaps the best depiction of a professional hit man in motion pictures.  There's also "Pelle the Conquerer," and I'd also throw in "Awakenings."

Josh

Name:              WDC
E-mail:

Dear Josh:         

Since we're talking about Great Productions with bad scripts, the latest is Hollywood Vietnam spoof TROPIC THUNDER. Great Production, Great Cast, lots of explosions, why wasn't this film funnier? It had four or five moments but mostly it misfired. Jack Black is completely stripped of his personality so they might as well have cast someone else.

How much you want to bet that this film doesn't have the legs to make its budget and advertising back?

Dear WDC:

I don't recall that we were talking about great productions with bad scripts.  What we were discussing was great actors in great films.  I personally could care less how much "Tropic Thunder" grosses.  I don't think film grosses are a meaningful topic.  I don't think it has a thing to do with anything.  Like I keep hearing, "Dark Knight" has made nearly as much as "Titanic."  Yeah, but "Titanic" is hammered shit, so who cares?

Josh

Name:              Blake Eckard
E-mail:             bseckard@jagtec.net

Dear Josh:         

I kind of wound up veering away from the true meaning of one who's been in a high number of "great films."  But, I've always loved those Jeff Bridges movies...even "Texasville."  And Brando and McQueen are iconic (though I've never been a Brando fan).

(Quick aside on him...I just saw Sidney Lumet's "The Fugitive Kind" on TCM and am convinced that Brando totally phoned that role in, something he was always whispered as doing if he didn't like a director.  Just seems odd to have happened with such a well-known "actor's director" like Lumet. Anyway, I was pretty bored with it.)

Back to great actors in great films.  How's about Orson Welles?  I count 13 possible great films  (several of which I'm sure you may not agree with).

CITIZEN KANE (for sure)
JOURNEY INTO FEAR (maybe)
JANE EYRE (for sure)
THE STRANGER (maybe)
THE LADY FROM SHANGHAI (for sure)
THE THIRD MAN (for sure)
MOBY DICK (maybe)
TOUCH OF EVIL (for sure)
COMPULSION (maybe)
A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS (for sure)
CATCH 22 (maybe)
F FOR FAKE (a maybe, but for me, very great; totally ahead of itself)
THE MUPPET MOVIE (probably a maybe, but I think a far superior family/kids film to "Toy Story")

Beyond that, many would adamantly include "Othello" and "Chimes at Midnight" both of which won high honors at Cannes (and the latter being Welles' personal favorite film...although definitely not for me).

If one is to include his work as narrator, which he was for countless films, I'd quickly add "Swiss Family Robinson," "The Magnificent Ambersons," and "Duel in the Sun."  Adding those five would put Welles at having been in 18 "great films."  Not bad.

I can watch Welles in anything, including the many complete piece-of-shit films he did for money.  His turns as Charles Foster Kane and Det. Hank Quinlan, are, for me, two of the most brilliant film performances of all time.

Dear Blake:

I'm being a lot more stringent than you.  As a director and screenwriter Orson Welles certainly get "The Magnificent Ambersons" as one of the truly great films of all-time, and his narration is brilliant, but I wouldn't include it for him as an actor.  Regarding your list, I must take a lot of exception.  The criteria is "great films."  "Journey into Fear" and "Lady from Shanghai" aren't even good, and Welles' Irish brogue in "Lady" is embarrasing.  "Compulsion" isn't a great film by any means, it's a lumpy,awkward Richard Fleischer movie.  And "Catch-22" is a disaster, a true mangling of Joseph Heller's great book.  "F is For Fake" is okay, but the last third of the film utterly falls on it's face.  Quite frankly, I don't think "Jane Eyre" or "The Stranger" are great films, either, although they're both pretty good.  I won't eve bother with "The Muppet Movie," where one is subjected to watching pieces of cloth with wires up their butts being shaken around for two hours.  Therefore, I give Orson Welles five great films.
P.S.  "The Fugitive Kind" SUCKED!!!

Josh

BACK TO Main Archive Page

BACK TO Current Q&A




Click Here To Submit Your Questions or Comments



BECKERFILMS SITE MENU

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