Q & A    Archive
Page 160


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

Hey Josh

Contributing to Jeff's question. A British film-maker called Shane Meadows made a low budget (BBC funded) film called Twenty-Four-Seven. It was low on script structure and high on energy, with a palpable first film charm. Shane admitted he was learning film-making 'on the job'. Bob Hoskins played the part of a homeless bloke given a second chance by starting a boxing club for disaffected youths. (You may like this aspect of the film). Some people loved it, some critics lambasted the lack of story structure, characterisation and character arcs. I enjoyed it, but felt it unsatisfying, and was a little irked by people calling Shane a 'working class hero'. I've always thought his films celebrate the loafer, not the working class. His second film, A Room For Romeo Brass, is stunning. A very personal, autobiographical film about how he and his friend (the writer Paul Fraser) were split up when they were twelve by a local outsider. Shane said he reigned in his camera; he made directorial decisions based on the script. There's still a little bit of midddle-class bashing in it, but on the whole it's a joy. And Paddy Considine's real breakthrough film. As I said, the camera and editing are mature, the chracaters are well drawn, there's a definite story arc. Just a great example of a very small, intimate story speaking universally. Anyway, maybe you've seen them. if not, keep an eye out.

Leepy

Dear Lee:

Adding the British influence, Lee Price.  But did Shane Meadows "break through" with "A Room for Romeo Brass"?  Not to compare my shabby little career, but when Bill Warren was about to review my second film, "Lunatics" A Love Story," for Leonard Maltin's Film Guide he called Rob Tapert the executive producer and asked, "Is this really the same guy who wrote and directed 'Thou Shalt Not Kill . . . Except'?"  Rob said yes.  Bill added, "The he wins the Biggest Improvement Between the First and Second Feature award."  My point is, just improving between your first and second film, which one would hope you'd do, wasn't really the criteria, it was "hitting it out of the park," which I certainly didn't do.  Still, and interesting choice.

Josh

Name:             Danielle
E-mail:           

Dear Josh:

Bob Rafelson went from directing tv episodes of THE MONKEES (and a Monkee movie) to FIVE EASY PIECES. It's difficult to come up with decent examples because, as you mentioned, so many talented filmmakers of the '30s\'40s cut their teeth on several smaller movies before ever getting the chance to knock anything out of the park. And '60s\'70s directors like Frankenheimer, Lumet, and Altman directed heaps of television and sometimes a string of Roger Corman movies before making their own features. Now that you mention it, I suddenly have much more respect for Spielberg. I don't enjoy his movies at all ... except one: JAWS was an impressive achievement for someone who didn't have the advantage of practicing for years in television and low-budget movies.

Dear Danielle:

Good choice with Bob Rafelson.  To go from "Head" to "Five Easy Pieces" was a huge leap.  Sadly for Mr. Rafelson, he never made another good movie.  Meanwhile, Steven Spielberg did spend several years working in TV before starting his feature career.  He directed one of the great TV movies of all-time, "Duel," as well as a number of other things, like one of the three pilot episodes of "Night Gallery."  The least impressive of the three, I might add.

Josh

Name:             Henry
E-mail:           

Dear Josh,

In response to Jeff Burr's question, how about Oliver Stone, who made two crappy horror movies, "Seizure" and "The Hand", before directing "Salvador" (an all right film) and "Platoon" (a great film)?

Dear Henry:

Yes, another interesting, two-to-get-going choice.  Of course he had won an Oscar for writing "Midnight Express" in between "The Hand" and "Salvador," which certainly helps.  Nevertheless, it still took him three films as a director to get on track.

Josh

Name:             Jeff Burr
E-mail:           

Hey Josh...

in one of your answers to a recent question you make a VERY astute point, one which is rarely talked about in film. It is, as you say, MUCH harder to make your second movie than your first. Usually, you use up any favors owed or good will or money sources in the making of that first film. So, my question to you and your readers is this...we all have heard of first time directors that make a smashing debut but then follow it up with the so-called "sophmore curse", a disapointing second film. What about the opposite? What are some of the directors who made horrible first films, but somehow got an opportunity to make another feature, and hit it out of the park? One modern example immediately comes to mind...James Cameron from PIRANAH 2 to THE TERMINATOR.

Dear Jeff:

I particularly like it when you drop be because you pose interesting movie questions.  My first thought is good old Steven Spielberg, whose feature career began with the reasonably unimpressive "Sugarland Express," which he followed up with "Jaws."  Or how about George Lucas, who went from the painfully dull "THX 1138" to "American Graffiti."  It doesn't quite fit, but it took Robert Benton two misfires before he hit, going from the boring "Bad Company" to the boring "The Late Show" to the Oscar-winning "Kramer vs Kramer."  It took Martin Scorsese two films to get going, "Who's That Knocking at My Door?" to "Boxcar Bertha" to "Mean Streets."  The old guys like Ford or Wyler or Hitchcock or Hawks made so many early movies before they had a hit that they don't fit into this equation.  Can anybody think of anyone else?

Josh

Name:             Wladek Binkiewicz
E-mail:           

Dear Josh:

Iagree with you that religion is a cancer of this world and a source of all evil. Yet I do believe that there is some Loving Intelligence in the Universe and we are part of It, because we all have love, intelligence and feelings. Out of animal state,we have become Spiritual Beings: we have mercy, we love animals and Nature. These are spiritual attributes of humans. Personally, I have had 17 miraculous escapes betwen life and death. I was to be executed within one hour by the Germans in 1945 and I am still here. Do you think that It was just coincidence? If you do you are not yet fully developped human being. You can observe the results of Intelligence of Nature but you cannot actully see the Intelligence. Religion robs us of reason and contact with the Universal MIND and Spiritual Awareness, creates wars and massacres of million of innocent human beings.

Yours sincerely,
Wladek Binkiewicz

Dear Wladek:

I would never minimize your beliefs or experiences into coincidence.  If you believe that there was some sort of divine intervention by a "Loving Intelligence in the Universe," who am I to say there wasn't.  That, however, doesn't fit within my view of the world.  I don't believe that there's a god or a loving intelligence that's aware of us individually.  I do believe in coherence and logic and forces like gravity that hold every together and in their proper rotations, and I don't think that comes from nowhere.  I also sincerely believe that no human conception of this force means anything.  I think that all human conceptions of god or loving intelligence or call it what you will are akin to apes looking at the moon and shrieking.

Josh

Name:             Jeff Alede
E-mail:           

Dear Josh:

I miss being able to click over to your Q&A daily and read some stimulating conversations. Why so few posts lately? No longer receiving questions very often?

Dear Jeff:

Exactly.  There was a stretch there of several months when there weren't any at all.  Now they're sort of just dribbling in.  I suppose if I were writing some incendiary reviews it might inspire some posts, but I'm not.  Oh well.

Josh

Name:             Jack adams
E-mail:           

Dear Josh:

You dont know what you are saing man......It does not make cents ooohh

Dear Jack:

Wait, let me guess . . .  You're making a joke about my 99-cent Store essay, right?

Josh

Name:             Mike Loons
E-mail:           

Dear Josh:

In the file under "insane weekend" department, Werner Herzog now has a film school, teaching such valuable lessons as "the art of lockpicking. Traveling on foot. The exhilaration of being shot at unsuccessfully. The athletic side of filmmaking. The creation of your own shooting permits. The neutralization of bureaucracy. Guerrilla tactics. Self reliance." http://www.roguefilmschool.com/default.asp

Dear Mike:

Werner Herzog knows what he's talking about, he's been making movies for a long time.  I thought "Rescue Dawn" was pretty good, too.  I've met him a few times over the years at Anchor Bay Ent. parties in Las Vegas, and he's a very nice guy.

Josh

Name:             Jeff Alede
E-mail:           

Dear Josh:

I really enjoyed a recent film called "Big Fan". It's a movie about sports, but there's really very little of actual sports in it (no games are shown throughout I do believe). It's nice to see a film with a solid opening act, and a well-developed theme. The ending was completely surprising yet made total sense upon reflection.

Dear Jeff:

If it pops up in front of my face on TV I'll certainly watch it.

Josh

Name:             Bob
E-mail:           

Dear Josh:

I have been watching the show Combat! on DVD recently. I think it is better that just about anything on TV nowadays. What do you think of Combat! ?

Dear Bob:

I loved "Combat" as a kid, but I haven't seen it in about 40 years.

Josh

Name:             Stephen Wharf
E-mail:           

Dear Josh:

As interesting as the article is, the comments in response to it are an amazing display of how fucking inconsiderate people can be. Becuase they spends days/months/weeks/years writing it - some people feel others are obligated to read it. You've been dealing with the "Hey, read my script. No? You're a dick!"-thing for years. Hope you enjoy.

http://blogs.villagevoice.com/runninscared/archives/2009/09/i_will_not_read.php And it doesn't need to be said, 'A History of Violence' was fucking terrible. Still, that doesn't change the fact that the dick is the one asking to have their script read.

Dear Stephen:

Thanks for sending the link.  I'm in complete and total agreement with Mr. Olsen, expletives and all.  Yes, I've been putting up with the same horseshit for years.  In my case all, and I mean all, the screenplays given to me to read were garbage--first rough drafts loaded with typos and grammatical errors, without the faintest clue of what the bare essentials of screenwriting are about.  And, as Josh Olsen says, the goddamn fucking hack loser wannabe non-writers always pitch a fit when they hear anything negative because they haven't got the slightest idea how to deal with criticism.  I won't read anyone's fucking screenplay, either, and I haven't even been nominated for an Oscar.

Josh (Becker, not Olsen)

Name:             Robert Barlow
E-mail:            rebrockmusic@yahoo.com

Dear Josh:

I’m about to try and do an animation short movie. The players will all be animated but the backdrops and the props will be real. I'm doing this on my own. I've done a few short skits as practice, now I want to take it to the next level. I'm a musician and a songwriter and NOT a screenwriter. I'm asking permission to use Buds as my script. I have no money so I can't pay anything, but I'm not looking to try to make money from this. Just want to see if I can do this really well with a good script. Maybe put it on youtube ..lol

Dear Robert:

I don't mean to be a stick-in-the-mud, but I don't give my scripts away for free.  Also, my co-writer, Paul Harris, wouldn't like it.  Sorry.  Try reading my book, "The Complete Guide to Low Budget Feature Filmmaking" to find out how to write a script.  Or you can read "The Need for Structure" essays on this website.  Good luck.

Josh

Name:             Kevin
E-mail:            

Dear Josh:

THE MAN (1972) is out of print and very hard to find. Yet you've seen it. Tell me everything you know about THE MAN. Was it a good movie, bad movie? Did James Earl Jones kick ass in it. If it was a good movie, what was interesting about it? What were the good plot points from start to finish?

Dear Kevin:

I only saw it the one time in the theater in 1972, so it's not crystal clear in my memory.  But the president gets killed in a plane crash, if I recall correctly, and the vice president is a very old man in a wheelchair who won't take the job.  The next in line for the job is the speaker of the house, and it's a black man, James Earl Jones.  I remember enjoying it (the script is by Rod Serling), but I don't think it really went anywhere.

Josh

Name:             Alice Schultz
E-mail:            

Dear Josh,

Which is the script you're trying to get financing for right now?

Alice

Dear Alice:

It's called "Red Alert: Mutant Meltdown," and I really do believe it's perfect material for SyFy Channel (I still can't get used to that spelling).  I co-wrote it with my good buddy Paul Harris.  But trying to raise money here in severely depressed Michigan sure ain't easy.

Josh

Name:             Settor11
E-mail:            

Dear Josh:

I feel no-one is here for the emo, sometimes.

Dear Settor11:

You'll excuse me, but I have idea what you mean.

Josh

Name:             Blake Eckard
E-mail:            

Dear Josh:

Josh (RUNNING TIME) Becker: "Goddamn it, Blake. How could you have come to my website for all these years and not learned a single thing?"

Jon (ALL THE VERMEERS IN NEW YORK) Jost: "I'd like to say close but no cigar...but, this isn't remotely close."

Got both of those comments on my second, and more or less totally un-seen film "Backroad Blues." Of great interest is how this came from two very independent and long-standing filmmakers, but also minds of absolute opposing views in terms of how films should be made, and are made....and, on a personal level, the only two people I've ever considered teachers. Guess I'm still a bad student. That film did, however, (along with my first film) get programmed into a 13 film line-up of popular MUMBLECORE films that ran in Toronto, Canada last year. Funny how that happened, since my films are not only totally removed from this movement, but that I despise most of the films that comprise it. Anyway, being one of the very old ones to this on-going discussion, I guess I'll muster up and give a bit of a plug...I begin shooting what will mark my 4th independent feature next week. The first feature was on Mini DV. The next two on 16mm (plus a documentary about Sasquatch hunters which remains to be finished). This will be my first try with HD. Wish it were film, but...this is free...and I still remain my own funder. And what a joke that is.... Oh, and to Jeff Burr...I've always been very taken with your film "Eddie Presley." I actually wrote Duane Whitaker a rather rave letter on his performance. He never responded. Have a good one, all. Still love this site.

Blake

Dear Blake:

Always good to hear from you.  As the old expression goes: "If you try and don't succeed, then give up; that's failure.  If you try and don't succeed, but don't give up; that's experience."  You just keep going at it and you don't give up, and that's the sign of a professional.  It's like that dumbass film festival Slamdance.  Years ago I sent them "Running Time."  They called me up and just raved about the film: they loved it, what a terrific achievement, amazing filmmaking, what an astounding first film.  I said, "But it's my third film."  They said, "Oh, then we can't show it.  We only show first films."  I replied, "That's ridiculous.  Making your second feature is MUCH harder than making your first.  Most filmmakers are defeated by their first films."  Of course, Slamdance didn't give a damn.  Making your first feature film is extremely difficult, but keeping going after that is much more difficult.  So just keep going.  I'm attempting to put the financing together for my 8th feature, and it's been exceedingly rough and fruitless so far, but I haven't given up.  And that's all you can really do--keep going or give up, and if you give up, who cares?  You may as well have never started.

Josh

Name:             David R.
E-mail:            

Dear Josh:

I was leafing through the latest Leonard Maltin Movie Guide and noticed they give "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" four stars, with a note like: "epic, powerful storytelling." I found that hard to believe, though I haven't seen the film. Generally I find Maltin's ratings fairly consistent with my own. Does he do all the ratings in his guide? I know there are several editors for the book. Anyway, it got me thinking about critics that I "trust", or at least whose opinion I respect. There aren't many, but one is Michael Phillips of the Chicago Tribune. I'm also glad to see him and A.O. Scott onboard with the AT THE MOVIES show. A couple weeks back Scott did a review of "The Burning Plain", which is one of those multiple-thread with intersecting storylines told out of sequence (a la "Crash"). Scott did his review out of sequence and spent some time mocking the technique, noting perhaps one might think it pretentious and confusing. Great stuff. Any reviewers that you like currently?

Dear David:       

All of those people named as editors on the first page of Maltin's book review films.  Most of the horror, sci fi, and low-budget films are reviewed by Bill Warren, who I just quoted recently.  But a single human cannot see 20,000 films in their lifetime.  Meanwhile, the only movie reviews I read anymore are in the NY Times by A.O. Scott and Manhola Dargas, but I don't really give a damn about them, since I don't give a damn about the new movies coming out.  I seriously believe that there's an editorial policy now that basically says, if you write too many negative reviews, you're fired.  Meaning that reviewers must now search for a way too be positive about films they don't really like.  Although I haven't seen it, either, I seriously doubt "Benjamin Button" is a four-star movie.  Maltin doesn't give out four stars very often anymore, and one of the last films to get four stars was "Cider House Rules," which was a three star film at best.  Even the author and screenwriter, John Irving, didn't think it adapted quite right from book to film (he goes into detail about the process in his very interesting book, "My Movie Business").  There was an article a few years back about the NY film critic screenings.  It recounted how electric and lively these screenings used to be back in the days of Pauline Kael, Andrew Sarris, John Simon, Penelope Gilliat, etc.  It said that now, however, the critics look and act like they're being marched into a gulag for work detail.  A sad state of affairs.

Josh

Name:             Jeff Burr
E-mail:            JeffCBurr@AOL.com

Hey Josh...hope things are good...havent checked in for a while. Here's a question for you, prompted by one of your recent posters...Have you ever gotten a bad review for a film that made you laugh, because of a particularly clever turn of phrase or the sheer vitriol of the writer? Two lines from two different reviews of my first film FROM A WHISPER TO A SCREAM stick in my mind. "This film will burn a path to the nation's videostores...don't let your theater stand in the way." BOXOFFICE MAGAZINE "The cinematic equivilent of a razor blade in a child's apple on Halloween" THE MILWAUKEE TIMES Like the man said, if you believe the good reviews, you must believe the bad as well.

Dear Jeff:

Good to hear from you.  Well, let's see (without going back and checking).    Variety said of "Lunatics" -- "With an obviously fake giant spider."  My internal response was, "The real giant spider was booked that day."  There's a review in one of the current movie books that actually gives "Running Time" a pretty good review, but ends with (and I paraphrase), "Writer-director Becker is an ass for saying his film is better than Hitchcock's 'Rope."  Of course, I never said that RT was better than "Rope," I said I thought I'd used Hitchcock's all-in-one-shot idea better than him, but I always added that it was his idea, not mine, and I had his film to work from.  But maybe that does make me an ass.  A local commercial producer here in Detroit, when he was completely smashed at a party, staggered up to me and said, "I saw 'Running Time' and it was completely preposterous."  I was speaking with film writer, and contributor to Leonard Maltin's Film Guide, Bill Warren, and I asked, "Why isn't 'Thou Shalt Not Kill...Except' in Maltin's Guide?  It actually got a theatrical release, unlike many films listed there."  Bill replied, "If it ever goes in it's getting a BOMB."  There's a hardcover book about every Vietnam War film ever made, and it's really well-researched, and beautifully published, and sadly it was like $75 so I didn't buy it.  Anyway, because it's so definitive it has a review of TSNKE, as well as all of the eight million credits (I gave every extra screen credit), and the writer was deeply offended by my film and thought that it was bullshit on every possible level.  Unfortunately, I don't remember any specific quotes, but it's got to be the worst review I've ever received.  There's a review of TSNKE, and I can't remember from where, that ended with, "If only Sam Raimi had been behind the camera instead of in front of it."  The NY Daily News, in their year end awards for 1987 gave Sam, "Worst performance by a director."  I could easily keep going with this, but I'll do myself a favor and stop.  Excellent topic, Jeff.

Josh

Name:             Lee
E-mail:           

Hey Josh

So this is the film that won the Virgin Media Shorts competition this year in the UK: http://virginmediashorts.co.uk/films/film/mixtape/ It's only two minutes twenty seconds, so won't take much of your time. Give it a watch if ya want... and can you find the drama in this piece, cos I certainly couldn't!! The 'undiscovered' director? A music video director signed to a London production company. It seems to me the short is just an excuse for him to make ANOTHER pop video. Conflict is drama. There's very little here. Unless you count a nicey mummsy next door type as the antagonist. It's just a well polished piece of nothing. If the director can find something to say in a screenplay, then he may be able to apply his slick technique to something more worthwhile. But I doubt it. His other film is about a kid who wishes he could fly... and then manages to fly. Oh my God, I'm obsessed. Or maybe just a little pissed cos they didn't pick my film!!!!! L

Dear Lee:

Life's a bitch.  Frequently, what's best is not recognized; just what's showiest.  I still find it difficult to believe that horseshit like "Crash" or "Slumdog Millionaire" wins best picture.  This is a bankrupt time in history, both with money and with ideas.

Josh

Name:             costel musat
E-mail:           

hi josh!!!!

thnks for everything that means your website and stuff and i salute everyone who is penpallwriters and fans to josh becker dga...i'm a 29 y.o. street guy from bucharest ,romania and i'm very found of rap and hip hop enviroment . whithin years i'm looking 4 a producer or director- impresario or any other links or recommandations that is busy with directing a rap/hip video with and promote and / or launch a guy from georgia/antlanta who is now with me in romania. he is able to perform a dj or being a rap/hip hop master of ceremony of a concert very talented guy who knows old school rap and hip hop and now he performs and works on some kind of new style of rap and hip hop .i don't have enogh words about him but my recomandations will not let you down . he wants to make a careea in rap/hip hop enviroment .he need only links and contacts to be promoted and launch his new rap style for the nowadays generation. his name is paul . pls. make me beleive that my bad and stupid english convinces u all to launch and promote paul as a dj and mc of rap/hip hop concerts in world tour. he told me that rap and hip hop comes from georgia ,antlanta .give him a chance to show himself up. i'm sure he'll have a huge audience and will be a go in the rap / hip hop history... eminem, snoop doggs, busta rhymes, cyprell hill wu tang clan and all others would pay him a new welcome in their profesional rap/ hip hop music. for futher details : contact :joshuam.costelpetru@yahoo.com id.costel_musat ps. paul will wait for a reply... may god bless u all and your country usa. love and harmony and simpathy ,costel and paul

Dear Costel:

I can't even express to you how much I don't care about rap/hip-hop.  As far as I'm concerned it's not even music since, for the most part, there is no melody, just a rhythm.  And the rhyme schemes are all so similar that I find it depressingly dull.  I truly think rap/hip-hop is a haven for the untalented.  Even moreso than all of the movie remakes and sequels, rap/hip-hop is to me a clear represntation of why this generation is so ridiculously uninteresting.  Disco seemed like crap at the time, but it seems like fucking Mozart compared to rap.

Josh

Name:             David R.
E-mail:           

Dear Josh:

Seems the web hits counter at the bottom of the site is down. Are you watching the new Ken Burns documentary?

Dear David:

Thanks for the update.  No, I'm not watching it.  I don't even know what it's about.

Josh

Name:             Robert S. Evans
E-mail:            Surllio@hotmail.com

Dear Mr. Becker,

I just recently found your website, through a fellow director. So far, its has been amazingly helpful with showing me things I didn't know, or things which I knew but not as well as I should. It has been a blast reading some of your thoughts and comments on various aspects. So, now for my question. Bruce Campbell is an amazing actor. I've loved him in the Evil Dead Series, your films, and of course, The Adventures of Brisco County Jr. My question on that part is what is it like to work with him. I know the two of you are friends, but from my own experiences, that has little to do with anything once crunch time hits. My other question is about the money raising for a film. I've found, as well as you have stated, that the hardest part is raising money for a picture. Everyone wants money for you to do a lot of stuff, and its hard to get talent or locations without it. So, what are some methods of raising money for funding? I know of a few, though I've had little success with it in the past.

Thank you greatly for your time.
Robert S. Evans

Dear Robert:

Bruce is great to work with, he's a total pro.  He's almost always in a good mood, and if he's on the set I know that I'll be laughing.  He really goes over the script in advance--unlike some actors I've worked with--and has all of his issues worked out before he gets there.  On "Running Time," where we actually had some rehearsal, it was a pleasure watching watching Bruce and Anita Barone and Jeremy Roberts really work the scenes and dig out what was beneath the lines, as well as working out all of their business.  Some of these scenes were very long, talky scenes, and when we went to shoot them it was like nothing.  We blasted right through them because everybody knew what they were going to do.  That's the way to shoot, btw.  You truly don't want to be working the scenes and searching for subtext on the set when you're shooting because there's no time.  Bruce knows how to save up his energy for when it's needed, and he takes direction wonderfully.  I ask no more from an actor than what I always get from Bruce, without asking.

Regarding money-raising, which I'm doing right now, I think you just have to go at it like a bull--nothing will stop you.  The second you think you're not going to get any money from someone, or some group, you move on.  Nobody has the guts to say no.  Everybody will just drag you along for as long as they can, so the second you think they're bullshitting, cut them off.  Don't waste your time.  If you have to keep bugging someone, you're only bugging them for a no.  You can't bug anyone into investing.  If someone wants to say yes, they'll say it.  It's your job to ask everybody you've ever met if they know someone who might invest.  And you just keep at it.  That's all there is.

Josh

Name:             Alex Spivey
E-mail:       

Dear Josh:

I was just wondering about one of the questions below. your responce was "The editor tells me that "Going Hollywood" will be out very soon, whatever that means. Here's the cover, created by the former webmaster here, Gerry Kissell. I'm very pleased with it." is that a real project or just a fake mock up gag?

Dear Alex:

"Going Hollywood" is a 300 page book it took me a year to write, and that's the cover.  There's nothing fake about it.

Josh

Name:             aqeel
E-mail:       

Dear Josh:

i want the picture of crowely????

Dear aqeel:

Here's a great photo of Francis "Two-Gun" Crowley.

Josh

Name:             Paul
E-mail:       

Dear Josh:

I would like to Know your opinion about Which is the most hard part in a film: The pre-production, shooting, or post-production...What Do you Think and Why?

P.S.: I think it's obvious that the part of the bad reviews always is very difficult! Thanks! and I would like to see a new film of yours!

Paul

Dear Paul:

The hardest part by far is raising the money.  Once you've got the money, all the rest of it is fun.  Certainly, shooting is the most difficult part of the actual making of the film, but I love it.  The pressure of shooting, when you spend three-quarters of your budget in three weeks (or whatever your schedule allows), undermines most filmmakers because they're not prepared.  If you are prepared, though, it's wonderful watching the scenes come to life.

Josh

Name:             Danny Derakhshan
E-mail:       

Josh-

It doesn't bother me what your religious beliefs if any are as long as you keep making quality work. I recently finished my third feature screenplay, and sold my second script. Thanks in part to you because I read all your articles on structure (along with a hundred other books on screenplays and reading other screenplays).

Dear Danny:

Congratulations on the script sale.  I hope you got a lot of money, and they actually make the movie.  I pleased that I helped you in some small way.  People may well fight the concept of story structure, but that's how you write a professional script, one that might actually sell.

Josh

Name:             Alex Spivey
E-mail:       

Dear Josh:

whats the deal with Going Hollywood? i didnt catch the reference?

Dear Alex:

I'm sorry, I don't know what you're referring to.

Josh

Name:             Nick
E-mail:       

Dear Mr. Becker.

If you do not believe in God, you are an idiot. If you like boxing, you are a barbaric idiot (and a sympathizer of ancient Rome). Don't waste my time with historical facts and insightful information. I'm much too busy reading comic books, playing video games, going to church and NOT smoking. The next time you consider going through the trouble of writing a lengthy, well-reasoned article about a topic that is important to you, I suggest you prepare yourself for the wrath of superior men such as myself. Why should I bother wracking my tiny brain to explain my position, when I can simply leave a brief, judgmental, pathetically ignorant post on your blog? Jackass.

P.S. Three-act structure is for pussies!

Dear Nick:

Your use the first-person was an interesting, if initially confusing, approach to the recent attacks upon my gentle soul.  I put forth ideas that I believe, and those who do not believe them, become furious and attack me.  I don't take it all that seriously because it's been going on for so long--Beckerfilms celebrated its eleventh anniversary last month--and because those who come after me always sound so damned uneducated and stupid.  Unlike the old days when I used to counter-attack, I now just try to explain myself clearly.  In either case, it always fails to cause the attacker to become reasonable.  Nevertheless, I think it makes for amusing reading.

Josh

Name:             Mike Adler
E-mail:       

Dear Josh:

That's real good, avoid my point at all costs. No one's talking about the Romans--I don't really give a shit about the Romans--except for the fact that they liked to watch lions eating people's heads for entertainment. You like to watch black and Hispanic guys punching each other's heads into man-meat. Yes, football is a contact sport. So's rugby. Bottom line is there are objectives to them and skills, as opposed to boxing, which is just kill-or-be-killed. Sorry, but I believe in Darwin and believe that we've evolved past that barbarism. Let me ask you this: If Merryweather and Tyson or whoever the hell it is who's fighting is fighting and one of them causes the other to go braindead, will you care? Or will you sit in your living room with your beer buddies watching it on Pay Per View hooting and hollering because the guy you bet 10 dollars against just got owned? Yeah, I think I made my point. Change the subject again, why don't you.

Dear Mike:

You brought up the Roman empire, not me.  You seriously believe that there's no skill to boxing?  It's probably the most difficult sport there is, with by far the most intensive training.  Boxing has also been incredibly important to society: the first black champion of anything was Jack Johnson, who was the world heavyweight champion from 1908 to 1915, long before there was any kind of civil rights movement in this country, and in many ways inspired the civil rights movement to come into existence.  Both Jack Johnson and Joe Louis were world champions long before Jackie Robinson was allowed into professional baseball.  Muhammed Ali, being the world heavyweight champion, then becoming a conscientious objector to the Vietnam War, was crucially important in legitimizing the anti-war movement.  Meanwhile, no boxing fan wants to see anyone get killed due to boxing, although it does happen.  It also happens in football, and I'm sure in rugby, too, which is a very brutal sport without any kind of pads or protection (as a side note, if someone passes the ball high in rugby, so that the player must reach up for it, it's called a "hospital pass").  Now, having gotten all of that out of the way, what has boxing got to do with religion?  There are no wars being fought over boxing; there are no terrorist acts being perpetrated over boxing; there are no societies falling apart due to boxing, yet religion causes all of the afore mentioned atrocities.  Boxing is by far the most multi-ethnic sport there is, and all races, creeds and colors are part of it.  Religion, on the other hand, is entirely about differences.  My religion is right, and in touch with the "real" god; your religion is blasphemy.  It's perfectly okay for me to kill you because you're not a true believer.  Boxing makes sense, religion doesn't.

Josh

Name:             Alice Schultz
E-mail:       

Dear Josh,

No, it was Byzantium, a.k.a. .... Constantinople!! Which just exactly goes to prove whatever my point was while decisively trouncing all others. BTW speaking of boxing, "Rocky Balboa" was a small beautifully cut perfectly mounted semiprecious stone. Dissenters need not go postal.

Alice

Dear Alice:

Well, different strokes for different folks.  I found "Rocky Balboa" so awful and ridiculous that I bailed out halfway through.  A. There are no professional, 63-year-old boxers.  The oldest they ever possibly get is 45, and that's way old for a boxer, B. The whole digital rendering of a fight between he and Antonio Tarver (playing, dear god, Mason Dixon) was just stupid, and C. Antonio Tarver is a light-heavyweight, meaning 175 lbs., which negates the fight from ever being for the heavyweight title.  If Stallone had to fight one of the Klitchko brothers, he'd be doomed.  Beyond that, his whole relationship with the girl who was in the first "Rocky" was just plain creepy, and dull.  I'll take Stallone's most recent "Rambo" any day of the week.

Josh

Name:             Alice Schultz
E-mail:       

Hey Josh,

Also don't forget Constantine, who gave us the Roman Catholic Church.

Gotcha,
Alice

Dear Alice:

I never said the Roman Empire only achieved good things, I said that they were the ones to spread civilization wider than anyone had done before.  Did the countries that were occupied like it?  Probably not, but that's how empires work.  However, what you're referring to came at the tail end of the Roman Empire, which was merely a remnant of what it had once been.  The capital wasn't even Rome anymore.

Josh

Name:             Mike Adler
E-mail:       

Dear Josh:

Love that you're against the "evils" of religion yet you're all about watching two men in a ring beating each other to a pulp before your bloodthirsty eyes. Real civilized, real rational. I suppose the Romans had it right too, didn't they? Jackass.

Dear Mike:

I'm a jackass, eh?  Would I not be one if I liked football or hockey?  Both of those are contact sports.  Also, do you know anything about the Roman empire?  It was the first great empire and expansion of civilization in the western world.  The put in roads and bridges all over Europe and Asia Minor.  To dismiss the Roman empire out of hand because they watched fights in the coliseum is utterly foolish and severely ignorant.  As opposed to being immature and calling me names, perhaps you'd like to explain your position.  Quite frankly, though, I'll just bet you haven't got the brains or balls to defend yourself.

Josh

Name:             David R.
E-mail:       

Dear Josh:

What do you think, is Mayweather going to win the fight tomorrow night?

Dear David:

Even though he didn't make weight, I do think he'll win.  It probably won't be a great fight though, with both fighters trying to hit, then stay away.  Juan Manual Marquez is a terrific boxer, and very tough, but he's way over his usual weight class.

Josh

Name:             Alice Schultz
E-mail:       

Hey Josh,

Thought you might find this of passing interest, about a trend our Peter Howell notes this year at TIFF, which is just winding down. Didn't get there and haven't seen any of these movies. http://www.thestar.com/comment/article/697499 I hope when I do, I'll agree that it's possible to popularize your movie up without necessarily dumbing it down, because if not we're in even worse trouble than you've been saying for years. I've become increasingly aware of the vicious cycle involved in the change in audience appetite for popular entertainment -- the more you feed them sensation and spectacle, the less tolerance or skill for meditation and substance they have, and therefore the more sensation and spectacle you have to feed them not to get dumped. And we're all affected through osmosis at the very least. When I watch the movies of even twenty years ago, I have to make the effort now to adjust my expectations, my mental radar and above all my attention span. No doubt this article is also acknowledging that the life, even often the take-off, that some box-office-failed films used to enjoy in video rentals applies less and less in the important way: people may still watch your movie on DVD but fewer and fewer will pay money for the privilege in the good old-fashioned legal fair-minded way. At least at the theatre they still have to get past a ticket-taker and you may entertain the hope of getting a distributor again some time. Nothing earthshakingly new here or anything but it's interesting to me.

Alice

Dear Alice:

Always good to hear from you and thanks for sharing.

Josh

Name:             Alex Rendoza
E-mail:       

Josh-

Have you kept in touch with Brett Beardslee? I thought he was great in 'Hammer' and was wondering if he's doing acting or music.

Thanks

Dear Alex:

Sadly, no, I'm not in touch with him.  I haven't seen him in ten years.  I thought he was very good, too.

Josh

Name:             Perry Wagner
E-mail:       

Dear Josh:

I see what Henry is trying to do and I really don't appreciate it. We were writing collaborators and he's trying to pass the Carey Grant movie idea off as his own. We came up with it together. The better idea, I always thought was what if George Lazenby was actually working for the secret service while he was filming James Bond. I wouldn't do it with Connery or the others because they would be harder to get to agree to it but Lazenby is a nobody so he might be interested. I think bb would have been a better movie than the rookie which is always on tv and probably makes scott spiegel al ot of money but can he really say that he is proud of it? on the other hand he did work with clint eastwood and charlie sheen which is pretty cool too ya know? do you think charlie sheen is a good actor and also what is your favorite movie that clint eastwood directed since space cowboys?

Dear Perry:

You can't use any James Bond stuff no matter who you think you're casting.  James Bond is under very strict copyright, meaning any unauthorized use would be severely punished.  I thought Charlie Sheen was very good in "Platoon," otherwise I don't care.  Of course, I love Eastwood's "Unforgiven."  As for post "Space Cowboys," I don't like most of them.  I did, however, think that "Changling" was very well made.

Josh

Name:             Chris
E-mail:       

Hey Josh,

Good to see some new posts! It's been a while. Any news in regards to "Going Hollywood"? Is there a release date yet?

Thanks,
Chris

Dear Chris:

Yes, we sure did have a lull in posts for a while.  The editor tells me that "Going Hollywood" will be out very soon, whatever that means. Here's the cover, created by the former webmaster here, Gerry Kissell.  I'm very pleased with it.

Josh

[Webmaster's Note: I thought I was out of a job for a while there. - Kevin]

 

Name:             RICK
E-mail:        

Dear Josh:    

I just found your article and I think is the fantastic! i also like to read articles from Sam Harris and the Reality Project. Have you written any books that I could purchase? -- Great job, THANK YOU for having the COJONES to do it ! ---Rick

Dear RICK:

I suspect you're referring to my "Religion is Evil" essay because I don't think anyone would thank me for having the cojones to write about 99 cent stores.  Anyway, I'm glad you enjoyed it.

Josh

Name:             David R.
E-mail:             

Dear Josh:

Did you hear about the Warner Archives program? They are releasing back catalog titles using burning on demand technology and selling directly from their website (as opposed to making them available in stores, where, let's face it, they would most likely sell very poorly). I'm thrilled to see so many of their deep catalog titles becoming available.

Dear David:

Yes, I did hear about it, and it's a good thing.  However, if you watch TCM, which has a truly vast film library, most of the little known titles are really awful and are little known for good reason.  Still, there could be a few gems hidden there.

Josh

Name:             Henry Mitz
E-mail:        

Dear Josh:     

I appreciated your opinion on my idea, it means a lot to me. I really haven't done much of the "history" research yet, even though I know I have to, I always thought history was pretty boring even though certain things (Egyptians, Nazis, Vietnam) were pretty cool and interesting. If I sent you my outline would you maybe be even 1% interested in doing it with me? It's all pretty much there, you'd only have to do the research. I know the answer's probably no, but you said you like writing with partners and I would never rip you off--you have me on your website, that would be all the proof you'd need in a court!

Dear Henry:

Sorry, but no thanks.  I write my ideas, you have to write your's.  Good luck to you.

Josh

Name:             Jay Bliznick
E-mail:             

Hey Josh

Thought you might like to share this with your website readers. Give me a call sometime. Jay http://blogs.villagevoice.com/runninscared/archives/2009/09/harlan_ellisons.php

Jay:

Good to hear from you.  Thanks for the link, I'm always interested in Harlan Ellison's antics.  I'll call soon.

Josh

Name:             Kevin
E-mail:             

Dear Josh:

In response to an earlier post, immediately two Robert Bloch anthologies come to mind, both good movies: TORTURE GARDEN and ASYLUM. Check them out and see what they did right or wrong.

Dear Kevin:

I've seen them.  There are quite a few more, too, like the great "Dead of Night" from 1945, or Roger Corman's "Tales of Terror," written by Richard Matheson.  Nevertheless, none of these films have six parts.  Also, historically, anthologies do very poorly at the boxoffice.  My opinion is that if you only have short stories to tell, you shouldn't be working in features.

Josh

Name:             Henry Mitz
E-mail:             

Dear Josh:

Sorry to hear that BB and The Rookie broke up your relationship with Scott Spiegel, and sorry if you don't like talking about it, I probably wouldn't like to. It's crazy though because so many of your scripts were written together. What happens if you direct one, can you just take his name off? Or what happens if he directs one? Do you ever worry he might try and rip another one of your collaborations off like it sounds like he maybe did with BB? It's a scary world, and when you can't even trust your friends, at least to give you uncredited work so you get paid...Do you recommend writing with a partner? I have a pretty cool idea about Carey Grant in real life being a secret agent for Winston Churchhill when he was making movies like Charade and North by Northwest and I told a friend all about it and said we should do it together. I'm not worried about someone stealing the idea because I think my ideas for the different scenes are unique enough that my version would be really unforgettable (I'll give you a hint about one scene which I think you'll appreciate: Carey Grant is filming the Mt. Rushmore scene while Nazis are disguised as film crew secretly trying to really push him off!). But I wouldn't want to risk working with my friend if you think he might make things complicated.

Dear Henry:

No, you can't just take the other person's name off.  When you make a movie you have to assign to copyright of the script to the production company, which means you both have to sign.  If the other person won't sign, that kills the deal.  Since I do enjoy writing with a partner, particularly comedies, you either have to have an agreement written up and signed before you start, or you have to absolutely trust the other person won't screw you, and that's happened many, many times in the course of history.  Meanwhile, why on earth would Cary Grant be a British agent in the late 1950s and 1960s?  Wouldn't it make more sense if it occurred during WWII?

Josh

Name:             Perry Wagner
E-mail:             

Dear Josh:

You said you and Scott Spiegel wrote the ball breaker script first so are you implying that the other movie he wrote took a cue from that earlier script? Just curious cause I also read bb and saw rookie and thought that.

Dear Perry:

You may infer what you'd like from the facts.  Here's another fact: "Ball Breaker" and "The Rookie" caused the end of Scott's and my 5 year collaboration, among other things.

Josh

Name:             Felix
E-mail:             

Dear Josh:

Here here well said! What other field of study, makes it up as it goes along and doesn't require ANY EVIDENCE, in fact the more unfounded crap you believe the more you are praised. What a fucking joke! Religion is evil, it's a tool of the global slave masters, it destroys rational critical thought.

Dear Felix:

That's what I think.  To quote Mark Twain for the hundreth time: "Faith is believin' what you know ain't so."

Josh

Name:             Henry Mitz
E-mail:             

Dear Josh:

I read your script Ballbreaker which I thought was pretty good. It reminded me of a few other cop movies including The Rookie which I saw was also written by Scott Spiegel. Did you get uncredited work on this movie?

Dear Henry:

No, I didn't get uncredited work on "The Rookie."  However, Scott and I wrote "Ballbreaker" first.  Actually, Scott and I wrote the story, I wrote the script.

Josh

Name:              Need to know! Need to know!
E-mail:             

Dear Josh:

What is the proper story structure for an anthology film. Say, six twenty minutes shorts that are sorta loosely connected. What's your opinion?

Dear         :

Six shorts in an anthology film sounds extremely painful to sit through.  Most anthologies don't work and don't sell.  I recommend writing a whole script, then shooting it in six seperate hunks, like shorts, that all fit together into one whole story.  If you're intent on make a six-part anthology, each of the six stories ought to have three-act structures.

Josh

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

Hey Josh,

I see the new Peter Jackson produced movie District Nine is being marketed as a low budget film. And the budget? A mere 18 MILLION! Has the world gone MAD when 18 million is considered low budget?!? Bonkers! On another note, I went to see Inglorious Basterds yesterday. Like the Cohen brothers' films, I enjoyed individual scenes, and some of the performances (some of the time)... but the film didn\'t hang together for me. The end scene in the cinema raised a few intellectual questions about watching vioilence... but overall I was underwhelmed. It seemed to be a series of vignettes loosely tied together by an adolescent aesthetic. Man, there's SUCH a backlash against traditional storytelling. I was speaking with some film students a while ago and they all refute the traditional structural tenents I swore by. There's a real sea change against trad storytelling, I reckon.

Lee

Dear Lee:

I've been running into the refutation of the three-act structure my whole life, which is why I wrote those structure essays, and partially why I wrote my filmmaking book.  The bottom line of all of this, as far as I'm concerned, is pure laziness.  Kids, and the uninformed wannabe screenwriters, have the silly belief that a good script will emanate from the ends of their fingers while sitting at the computer.  Also, what they clearly and painfully don't understand is that SCREENWRITING IS STRUCTURE!!!  Without structure, you can be 100% certain that it will be a bad script.  End of story.  Regarding "Inglorious Basterds," I wouldn't see another Tarantino movie if you paid me.  Now there's a guy who knows almost nothing about screenwriting, and has an Oscar to prove it.  QT can somehow manage to have people sit around and talk for fifteen minutes without revealing one tiny iota of characterization.  He is the King of Blather.  And I hear from good souces that "IB" is scored with the actual soundtracks of Sergio Leone's westerns, as well as David Bowie's "Putting Out Fires With Gasoline," which is not only painfully absurd to have in a WWII movie, but is also stolen from another movie.  I scoff at Quentin Tarantino, and everyone who likes his movies.

Josh

Name:              Samuel
E-mail:             don't have email

Mr. Becker

First off, I've noticed that there have been less postings in the last few months. Is that because you updated your "rules for posting" in April to more directly skew questions towards your work (and therefore limit the amount fanboy rants and arguments that at times have dominated this site)? And God Almighty. Do you remember back in the 80's when a quasi futuristic movie like Back to the Future would postulate, without being serious, that in the future Hollywood would only produce unlimited sequels (such as "Gone With the Wind 4"), as a joke? And I look at this summer: Harry Potter 6, Transformers 2, Ice Age 3, Da Vinci Code 2, Star Trek 49, X-Men 12, etc. When does an erstwhile joke turn into a current tragedy? And a real question: I enjoy your advice on theme and premise, sort of a Lajos Egri mentality, but where do you place character? Do you beleive theme begets character or vice versa? Also, many classic short stories (and some of my favorites) seem to directly refute the need for a three act structure. The structure seems to be necessary for workable plays, musicals, and films; but do you think there is something about short form prose that allows for a more pliable approach? Is the storytelling aspect different?

sam breck

Dear Samuel:

I believe that the short story form is more pliable and can just be a single scene if you want, or one dramatic event, or a short three act story.  I'm just reading Ambrose Bierce's short story collection, "In the Midst of Life," which are all short dramatic situations during the Civil War, with twist or ironic endings.  They're not three act stories, and they're very good.  However, in my opinion, anything over 30 minutes or 30 pages, must have a three act structure or it will suck.  As to the postings on the site, I didn't change the rules, it just dropped off of its own accord.  Possibly because I'm simply not seeing the new movies and ripping them to shreds.  Nor have I had much work of my own to comment on, or to shit upon.  Meanwhile, this penchant for sequels has been going on for a decade anyway.  I've stopped bitching about it because that's just the way it is.  I don't give a crap about any of them, so it doesn't matter to me.  Being an adult, I wouldn't watch the first installment of "X-Men," "Transformers" or "Harry Potter."  The first "Da Vinci Code" was so awful I can't find words to express it," and I lost interest in "Star Trek" 20 years ago.

Josh

Name:              rj
E-mail:             

hi josh,

was checking out your treatments and i really like 'The Cascade Effect'but i kept imaging Renee o'connor as sarah and lucy as the scientist and bruce as mac.hehe anyways was wondering if you are going be watching Rob and Sam's Spartacus,not sure if it is my cup of tea but i will atleast watch the first ep.anyways good luck with your latest book and i hope to see you directing again soon. your xena comedies are the best,no one could direct them like you.they were wonderful. renee, lucy and ted=pure magic.

Dear rj:

I'm glad you liked the treatment, and my Xena episodes.  I had a terrific time making them.  Yes, I actually had Bruce and Renee in mind when I wrote that treatment.  BTW, the complete script is posted, too.  As for "Spartacus," I'd like to watch it, but I don't have Starz.

Josh

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

Dear director from real treasures like "Running Time", "Lunatics" or "Alien Apocalypse":

I supose that you have noticed that I love your work...However, the last day, I was watching your film: "Stan lee's Harpies", and I don't understand How you have made that film... I was amused with the film, but it is not your typical film. You can make better films than "Harpies"!! Please, you don't have to read this as a insult, because you are one of my favourite film-makers, and I have wanted to make you this question: Why have you made this film that has not the good results that other movies like "Alien Apocalypse" or "Lunatics" have had? Is the money the reason?

Thank you.

Dear Paul:

I made it for the money.  I agree with you, I think it's my worst film so far.  Sadly, the producer wouldn't put ten cents into the special effects.  I think the stuff that went between the nonexistent makeup effects and the super-crappy, ridiculously cheap, post digital effects isn't terrible, but I could very well be kidding myself.  It seems to me that if I'd had decent looking harpies, as opposed to flying crack whores, it might have been okay.  I also did the best I could dealing with Steven Baldwin, who I think he comes of better than he ought to, but that's not saying a lot.  I just hope "Harpies" isn't the final film of my career.  I'm glad you like my other films.

Josh

Name:              Faith Taylor
E-mail:             fhtaylor@yahoo.com

Dear Josh:

I've read some of your scripts, they are good. I could imagine seeing what was happening as I was reading. Did you really give up and move back to Michigan? If so why? These are really good.

Just wondering,
Faith

Dear Faith:

I wouldn't call it giving up, I just grew royally sick of L.A.  Since that time I've written three books (two published, the third will be out soon), about a half dozen scripts, and I've directed two movies for Sci Fi Channel (which is now Sy Fy).  Meanwhile, I'm glad you enjoyed some of my scripts.  Care to comment on them.

Josh

Name:              Kevin the Neece
E-mail:             

Dear Josh:

If KANSAS CITY BOMBER is not Raquel Welch's better starring role film, what is? I mean "Starring Role", not ensemble cast side role, or pop culture cameo, I mean up front and center.

Dear Kevin:

My immediate response is "One Million Years B.C."  Next would be "The Wild Party."

Josh

Name:              Allan C.
E-mail:             lln_cllns@yahoo.com

Hi:

Just finished "The Complete Guide To Low-Budget Feature Filmmaking", learned something about the film industory and enjoyed your writtine style. Best of luck to you in the comming projects.

Dear Allen:

I'm glad you enjoyed it.  Now go out and make a good film.

Best of luck,

Josh 

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

Hi!

I can't download the theme from running time, and I love that soundtrack!! Please, How Can I download the soundtrack? 

Thank you.

Dear Paul:

I like the music a lot myself.  Unfortunately, you can't download the soundtrack, and I don't control it.  The music belongs to Joe LoDuca, the composer.  I only have the synchronization rights--meaning the music on the film--and all of the other rights belong to Joe.

Josh

Name:              nick
E-mail:             

Dear Josh:

I've always thought the real outrage of the 1952/53 Oscars was that not only did "Singin' in the Rain" not win best picture, it wasn't even nominated. TWO Oscar nominations, and neither of them for best original song, even though it should have had at least three in that category (for Make 'Em Laugh, Good Morning, Singin' in the Rain, etc.), or best cinematography. Or am I missing something?

Dear nick:

You're right, "Singin' in the Rain" should definitely have been on my list, too.  However, it couldn't be nominated for Best Original Song because none of the songs were written for the movie, they were all pre-existing songs from 20-30 years earlier by Arthur Freed (the producer of the film and the head of the MGM musical dept.) and Nacio Herb Brown.  By 1952 and the film "Singin' in the Rain," it was the third time that song had been used in a movie (it's in the Best Picture of 1929, "Broadway Melody").  In many ways, "Singin' in the Rain" is the follow-up to "An American in Paris," where MGM made a whole musical based on the pre-existing songs and music of George Gershwin.  This time Arthur Freed decided to use his own songs.  And it's a much better film than "The Greatest Show on Earth" (although I'd still give Best Color Cinematography to "The Quiet Man," which won that year).

Josh

Name:              paul m
E-mail:             

Dear Josh:

About "the outrage" that Fords "The Quiet Man" didn't get the Oscar, I have to say that I don't get the adulation that movie gets from people. Just my opinion but all I see in it are brightly technicolored Irish people drinking, fighting, screwing and tending sheep now and then. Then the Duke comes along, acting like a jerk, eventually they all bow down to his American goodness and fight, drink, and screw some more. And dragging Maureen O'Hara like a sack of potatoes. That scene just gives me the creeps. Like a ball of moldy cheese with a razor blade in it.

"God must only be a semi-supreme being, since everything he's ever made has died" - George Carlin

Dear paul:

No matter what you think of "The Quiet Man," it's better than "The Greatest Show on Earth."  The nominees of 1952 were: "The Greatest Show on Earth," "The Quiet Man," "High Noon," "Ivanhoe," and "Moulin Rouge," and of that bunch I go with "The Quiet Man."  I see what you're saying about it, but I find it to be a rollicking, on-location, Technicolor romp, and Duke, O'Hara and Ford are all in fine form.  And I remember like it was yesterday the first time I saw the film, like 30 years ago, that the cut to Duke in the boxing ring is brilliant.  However, if I could choose anything released that year, I'd probably go with "The Bad and the Beautiful" or "Member of the Wedding" or "The Lavender Hill Mob" or maybe even "Come Back, Little Sheba."  1952 wasn't a great year for movies.

Josh

Name:              john craske
E-mail:             john.craske3@gmail.com

Dear Josh:

I agree with every word. Trouble is, there is no arguing with a person of faith - they have a different mind-set. Fortunately, Europe is largely turning its back on Christianity - unfortunately that aint true of the US or Africa. So the more voices against religion which come out of the States, the better. No reply is required.

Regards
John Craske

Dear John:

As Mark Twain said, "Faith is believin' in what you know ain't so."

Josh

Name:              wendy higham
E-mail:             hi_im_wendy@yahoo.com

Dear Josh:

i really am confused....if there is no god who has been sparing my life???

Dear Wendy:

Sparing you from what?  Meteors hitting you?  An elephant stepping on you?  What do you think that god has been spared you from?

Josh

Name:              Charles Corder
E-mail:             

Dear Josh

I saw TCM's documentary on Cecil B. DeMille on Monday and I thought it was excellent. I thought of you when I heard DeMille say that the writing and preproduction on a movie were the cheapest and most important part of film making. And I had to agree with Spielberg when he said that the parting of the Red Sea in "The Ten Commandments" is the greatest special effect in movie history. I was lucky enough to see that movie in the theater as a young boy. Talk about shock and awe. A lot of the acting in DeMille's movies seems laughable to me now, but the man certainly knew how to tell a story and stage a spectacle.

Dear Charles:

Although he generally told a long and lumpy story.  The Red Sea parting is the "greatest special effect in movie history"?  I'd nominate King Kong in the 1933 version doing pretty much anything as being better.  Or anything in "2001."  The Red Sea parting is kind of a cheesy, reverse-motion effect, and looks like it.  I watched "Samson and Delilah" and that was particularly ridiculous film.  Samson fighting the lion was absurd.  As Groucho Marx said, it looks like Victor Mature has bigger tits than Heddy Lamar.  George Sanders looked extremely uncomfortable in his outfit.  "The Greatest Show on Earth" has a running time of eternity, and that it beat John Ford's "The Quiet Man" for Best Picture is still an outrage (at least Ford got Best Director instead of DeMille).  As my friend Rick once said, "DeMille was the best filmmaker in the world in 1913, but he never got any better than that."

Josh

Name:              Oren
E-mail:             

Dear Josh:

What's your opinion on Michael Jackson? Not as a performer, I mean...you know what I mean. Guilty? Innocent? Weird and misunderstood? Or truly evil?

Dear Oren:

I have no opinion on the late Michael Jackson.  I was never much of a fan, although my younger sister was.  He was 12 days younger than me, so I've outlived him.

Josh

Name:              David R.
E-mail:             

Dear Josh:

The Final Jeopardy! question today had me stumped: "The only person to ever be nominated for four Academy Awards: directing, producing, writing, and acting, for the same film, happening twice." I'm sure you'll know it right off the bat.

Dear David:

I didn't get it until I heard the years, 1978 and 1981, and then I immediately knew it was Warren Beatty for "Heaven Can Wait" and "Reds."  My buddy calls me with the final Jeopardy question all the time trying to stump me.

Josh

Name:              Tony
E-mail:             

Dear Josh:

Hello, just out of curiosity, the Super 8 shorts are at Sam Raimi ? Will they be a day on a bonus in a DVD ? Anchor Bay has already tried to add Within The Woods, he could tried to add the others. I'm a big french fan of The Evil Dead, if you have the time, go to see my chaine : http://www.youtube.com/user/TONY92FR I saw Drag Me To Hell and it\'s a really brilliant film. Thank You.

Dear Tony:

When the new, HD Blue-Ray versions of my films, "Thou Shalt Not Kill...Except" and "Running Time" finally come out, each will have a super-8 film included as an extra.  TSNKE will include "Stryker's War," starring Bruce Campbell and Sam Raimi; "Running Time" will include "Holding It," also with Bruce and Sam.  I finally got beautiful sound super-8 transfers of the films from a place called Post House just outside Atlanta.

Josh 

Name:              Tim
E-mail:             Nansemondnative

Good Afternoon Josh.

Just a comment or two about the late great Robert Shaw. I remember , even as a kid, being particulalrly awestruck, when he told the story of the USS Indianapolis in "Jaws". There was just that presence and he had that look as if he had been to the depths of hell, survived and was there to tell about it. My other comment is that maybe not a lot of people know that he was an accomplished author. I am fortunate enough to have a copy of "The Man In the Glass Booth" and would recommend it without hesitation to anyone. Have a good one.

Tim

Dear Tim:

And let's not forget Robert Shaw's brilliant, Oscar-nomated performance as King Henry VIII in the Oscar-winning film, "A Man For All Seasons."  Nor should we forget his terrific performance in the Oscar-winning film, "The Sting."  But Shaw's speech about the U.S.S. Indianapolis going down in "Jaws" is one of the great, great scenes in movie history ("I'll never where a life-preserver again").  And, as you mentioned, he was also a fine playwright.  The film version of Shaw's "The Man in the Glass Booth" with Maximillian Schell isn't bad, either (although Robert Shaw didn't like it, and died soon thereafter).

Josh

Name:              Brian Slade
E-mail:             

Dear Josh:

When you act like this you're acting like the equivalent of Sean Hannity--you're like the Bill O'Reilly of web-hosts. Someone voices an opinion and all you do is shout them down with your opinion (and no facts!) like you're superior and that's the end of the discussion. I don't understand that attitude. Why have the website to begin with? To fuel your ego? The original Die Hard is a highly respected movie, and if you can't suspend your disbelief (I know, I know, the FIRST Rambo was SOOOOO believable) then that's your problem. As for me, if they did another King Kong remake in 10 years, I just might go see it. I'm not saying I definitely would. But I'm also not saying I definitely would not. I don't stubbornly stick to principles and self-righteous indignation. I like to give films--and filmmakers--their day in court. You shouldn't be so hostile, life's too short.

*Bri*

Dear Brian:

I shouted you down?  Did I respond in capital letters?  What do you mean, no facts?  As I said before, and will now repeat, "Die Hard" is a prime example of the dumb action movie where ten bad guys firing automatic weapons can't hit the good guy.  That's a fact.  In the world of reality, one guy firing an automatic weapon, even if he's blind, can't miss the other guy.  As opposed to watching and re-watching "Die Hard 1, 2 & 3," try watching "Pride of the Marines," the true story of Al Schmid, who, during WWII, having been blinded by a Japanese grenade, held his position all night long because he had a machine gun, and ended up killing about 150 Japanese soldiers.  That's what an automatic weapon can do.  People can't outrun machine guns, particularly bare foot over broken glass.  That's a fact.  You don't like it?  Too bad.  Calling me Sean Hannity or Bill O'Reilly only makes you sound like a fool.  You say "Die Hard" is highly respected movie.  Not by me.

Josh

Name:              Textual Love Detection
E-mail:             

Dear Josh:

Do you text ever? I'm just curious.

Dear TLD:

No.

Josh

Name:              Brian Slade
E-mail:             

Dear Josh:

It sounds like Will left the theater five minutes into the movie because that was one of the first things that happened. It also sounds like he had his eyes closed because they completely explain how that was possible by showing the badguys installing a signal device. Maybe Will has a problem too with the bad guy in Die Hard (an action masterpiece) hacking into all the Takani Tower computers. I think his mind was made up before he even gave the movie a chance. And I think yours is too, Josh. Which is disappointing. Who says Travolta can't be as good as Shaw? Did you ever see Blow Out? How about Swashbuckler? Compare Travolta to Shaw in those two, why don't you!

*Bri*

Dear Brian:

"Die Hard" is an "action masterpiece" like McDonald's is a four-star restaurant.  "Die Hard" is a prime example of the utterly unbelievable, totally ridiculous, overproduced, high-concept action movie where ten guys firing automatic weapons can't hit the star while he's running in bare feet across broken glass.  "Die Hard" is as much of a masterpiece as "Predator" or "Rambo: First Blood II."  I might have even taken you seriously had you not made that supremely silly statement.  The bottom line for me is that I've seen the original "Taking of Pelham 1 2 3" five or six times over the preceding 35 years, and I've got it.  Absolutely, completely and thoroughly, and I have ZERO interest in a remake.  In ten years they may feel the need to remake "King Kong" yet again, but it means nothing to me.  "The Bridge on the River Kwai" or "Lawrence of Arabia" are action masterpieces, "Die Hard" is pablum for folks with no teeth.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

I don't mean to belittle Brian's opinion of Taking of Pelham 123.....but.....I was dragged into it and left as soon as I saw that the film hinged on people getting WiFi and cell reception--uninterrupted--in a subway tunnel. Hollywood people get a bad rap? I guess they've never been in a subway, so we'll have to forgive the whole movie? Speaking of Walter Matthau, I saw Wilder's "The Fortune Cookie" for the first time this weekend and loved it, primarily for Matthau's performance. I wonder if any single actor has delivered that many double-entendres that well in a one movie. The ending was a little sappy, but THAT I'm willing to forgive for 2 hours of acerbic humor and actual character development (Lemmon grows a spine, ironically given he's pretending to have a damaged one the whole time). I also saw Raimi's new "Drag Me to Hell." I have to admit, I really enjoyed it. It was funny, taut (there's a great sequence in a parking garage that was both relentlessly scary and funny). There were also some actual character moments that moved the hokey plot along. Definitely his best film since A Simple Plan, which wasn't great but pretty good. I hope you get to see and enjoy it. I also saw Stone's "W." It was okay.....the main thing I liked about it were the constant visual references to "The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie" (which no critic mentioned). Seems like the real substance of the movie has less to do with what happened and more to do with the culture that let it happen.....

Dear Will:

They've been putting a subway into L.A. for the last decade, which is a really bright idea in a place with a lot of earthquakes.  It kills me that they wonderful folks of L.A. wouldn't okay a monorail, which would have been at least a hundred times cheaper, because it would destroy the natural beauty of their lovely city.  Yes, Walter Matthau was great in "The Fortune Cookie" (and he won an Oscar for it, too).  I saw the film as a kid and thought it was great.  I saw it a few times in between and liked it.  The last time a tried to watch, a few years ago, I couldn't sit through it anymore.  It seemed one big long series of dud jokes.  I didn't think about that the updating of "The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3" must now take into consideration that everybody has a cell phone, and many younger folk can actually text with it in their pocket.  It sort of undermines the whole story.

Josh

Name:              Brian Slade
E-mail:             

Dear Josh:

What do you mean no other film like it? In what way?

*Bri*

Dear Brian:

As far as I know, previous to 1974 there hadn't been a film about hijacking a subway train.  Nor had there been a film about the inner workings of the NYC subway.  And, as Kevin, the webmaster, just wrote me, everyone expects Denzel to be a calm, cool negotiator, whereas no one expects it of Walter Matthau.  Also, no matter what John Travolta ever does, he'll never be in the same league as Robert Shaw.

Josh

Name:              Brian Slade
E-mail:             

Dear Josh:

I saw The Taking of Pelham 123 this weekend, a remake of the 70's film starring Walter Matthau. I was actually surprised at how good it was. John Travolta gives his best performance in decades and Denzel Washington (while no Walter Matthau) is pretty solid. Really what struck me was the depth of characterization usually eschewed in big Hollywood crapfests. The screenwriter really took the time to establish who everyone was and where they were coming from. I like the original, but in the character/motivation department this one actually surpassed it. Does it count as a remake if they're just both based off the same book? Haven't remakes/adaptations been happening since the beginning of cinema? Sometimes I think Hollywood just gets a bad rap.

*Bri*

Dear Brian:

Whether you consider it a remake or not, and I do, it's still in no way, shape or form original.  When the film originally came out in 1974 there was no other film like it.  Now, no matter how good of a job they may have done, there's another film just like it.

Josh

Name:              Kevin
E-mail:             

Dear Josh:

What are the rules about writing a screenplay based on historical events? if its historical fiction, do you need the rights for the people you are writing about? did you have to deal with any of that when writing devil dogs?

Kevin:

There aren't any rules that I know of, particularly regarding an event as old as World War I.  Those folks have all been dead for at least 50 years, some as long as 90 years.  But I don't know that Oliver Stone had to get any kind of permission to make "W," and George W. Bush is very much alive.  Many years after writing "Devil Dogs" I heard from Gunnery Sgt. Dan Daly's great-grand nephew, who is a fireman in NYC.  He had no problem with my script, although he didn't think Daly was the reader I made him out to be.

Josh

Name:              Trey Smith
E-mail:             vgntrey@gmail.com

Dear Josh:

Any fresh news on your upcoming book?

Dear Trey:

It's been proof-read, and Gerry Kissell, former webmaster of this site, is creating the cover.  That's all I know.

Josh

Name:              David R.
E-mail:             

Dear Josh:

Good interview by Susan Smiley for the Woodward & Vine interview. To be fair, you do have three Spielberg films on your Favorite Films list: DUEL, JAWS, and CLOSE ENCOUNTERS. Too bad Cycles never got made into a movie; it really does sound like a terrific story.

Dear David:

I like "Jurassic Park," too.  That wasn't my statement about Spileberg, it was the interviewer's assumption.  Honestly, I love "Jaws."  Yes, it's a shame about "Cycles."

Josh

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

Dear Josh,

What trouble? Did the prospective gig directing films disappear? Or are we still not allowed to talk about that? Or what?

Alice

Dear Alice:

You can talk about anything you'd like here.  There's just not much business, nor is there much love these days.  It's all quiet on the midwestern front.  I did just watch William Wyler's first hit film, as well as his first sound film, "Hell's Heroes," which I'd already seen, and I'd nominate it as best film of 1929.

Josh

Name:              Fred Best
E-mail:             fbest@msn.com

Dear Josh:

I have been using the word lemmings to describe people since forever. Being the ultimate cynic,I don't think that things will change. Just be happy that you have your own mind and are not afraid of truth or death.

Dear Fred:

You're the ultimate cynic?  Really?  Meanwhile, I'm not afraid of truth or death, it's life that's giving me trouble.  I know, I know, join the club.

Josh

Name:              Joe
E-mail:             

Dear Josh:

Any thoughts on David Carridine?

Dear Joe:

How do you end up hanging in a hotel closet with a rope around your dick?  It doesn't make sense to me.  Quite frankly, I think Bruce Lee would have been better in "Kung Fu."  I always liked David Carradine, but I don't think he ever gave a great performance.  I did meet him once when I came by the set of "Sundown: The Vampire in Retreat," a particularly terrible film that Bruce Campbell starred in with David Carradine.  He was very friendly.

Josh

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

Hey Josh,

If a movie is an adaptation of a book or another work, do you think it's important or necessary for your actors and even yourself to read the source material even before you read the script? I know that the screenwriter(s) usually have to read it to adapt it to begin with (unless it's a very, very loose adaptation)

Dear Brian:

Obviously, the screenwriter has to read the book before adapting it or how do they know what they're adapting?  The director should read it, and the actors might or might not.  Since there's undoubtedly more in the book than made it into the script, it's a good idea to read it.  Personally, I've never done adaption.

Josh

Name:              Charles House
E-mail:             mr_goodbomb@yahoo.com

Hello, Josh.

I've been reading your guide to low-budget filmmaking simultaneously with If Chins Could Kill. I'm working on a documentary piece about the history of independent horror films as a part of my college senior thesis. I've conducted many interviews with cast and crew from Romero's Dead franchise, living cast from Lucio Fulci's zombie films, and several other franchises. After reading your book, I would love to get some insight on these sorts of films, and independent/budget filmmaking in relation. Would you be willing to work out an interview? Please let me know. Thank you!

Dear Charles:

You could also read my book, "Rushes," which will give you a lot more detail about the productions.  But I'm not adverse to being interviewed.  Write back with some questions.

Josh

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

Hey Josh,

Haven't written in on here in a while. I recently watched Patton for the first time and thought of you. Plenty of irony on display- I love when Patton gets the dog "Bred for battle!" and it's fearful of everything. And that he keeps the dog anyway. Looking forward to the rereleases of TSNKE and Running Time, and to finally seeing the "pilot" version of TSNKE. How is the Motion Picture Radio biz? Any new directing gigs on the horizon?

All the best,
Jason Roth

(just noticed the Horribleness script is on here, cool!)

Dear Jason:

Welcome back.  Yeah, I love "Patton," what a great character. He names the dog William, then when he sees it's afraid of other dogs, even little ones, he renames it Willy.  And you can't beat the real Patton lines, like, "We are going to rip out their living guts and grease the treads of our tanks," or "No dumb son of a bitch ever won a war by dying for his country.  He did it by making the other poor, dumb son of a bitch die for his country."  Meanwhile, radio/director's chair biz is happening, but in any spectacular way.  There's an interesting possibility of making more films, but I won't curse it by going into the details just yet.  Yes, read "The Horribleness" and report back.  I'm interested in response.

Josh 

Name:              David R.
E-mail:            

Dear Josh:

Today (err, I guess yesterday now), I was very proud of our President. What a fantastic, thoughtful speech he gave in Cairo.

Dear David:

I said to myself as I listened to it, "This is more important and more meaningful than anything George Bush did in eight years."  In fact, a good part of this is straightening out the mess that Bush got us into.  Nevertheless, it's exactly what we need to be doing, holding out an olive branch, not aiming guns.  I don't mean to sound religious, because I'm not, but hate begets hate, violence begets violence, and friendship begets friendship.  It's as simple as that.

Josh

Name:              Hal Werbs
E-mail:             hal@werbwerks.com

Hey, Josh.

Have you heard of this ludicrous new "Army of Darkness" comic book miniseries where Ash saves/meets Obama? When will they give it a rest? http://www.comicvine.com/news/obama-versusthe-army-of-darkness/138536/

Dear Hal:

Yes, I've seen the cover.  I guess my question to you is, give what a rest?  Dumbass comic books?  Comic book spin-offs of movies?  Utterly superficial entertainment?  Honestly, is it any less or more ridiculous for Ash to save Obama then Superman saving the universe?

Josh 

Name:
E-mail:

Dear Josh: 

I couldn't agree with you more Josh; I've been doing a bit of research. If "Constantine the great" hadn't used the christians/jews at the battle of milvian in 312 AD instead of his italian troops, we wouldn't be in this mess. The arabs (jews/christians) if you were a judist you were from a arab tribe as far as i'm concerned ! The italians, anglo saxons etc were the europeans not arabs. I'm not racist but facts are facts ! If a white man says this he's branded a racist, if a colored man of any denomination says this he branded a revolutionary. Bullshit ! It all religious garbage, one race against another, one religious order against another ! centuries ago we burnt women for having a spot on their nose etc and branding them a witch, men for stealing a apple, whats changed ? only the way its played out thats all, now we have political nitwit who couldn't organise a piss-up in a brewery ! but manage to coin their pockets before skedaddling away under the tablecloth as they quickly resign for no apparent reason; and head to the bahamas.

When are people going to get over believing rubbish? 1st we had prophets, 2nd preists, and 3rd now politicians, lets get real !

Dear          :

We're on the religion thing again.  I don't see a question here, so we'll just leave it with your little history lesson.

Josh

Name:              ryan
E-mail:             nights1302@yahoo.com

Dear Josh:         

im glad to see that someone shares some of my belifes about religion its only use is to seprate cultures fromon another i am 21 and i understand these principales for all religiion has a violent past and a more violent future

Dear ryan:

It certainly seems that way.  I recently watched the two Cate Blanchett "Elizabeth" movies, both of which are interesting and worth seeing, but all of that Catholicism versus Protestantism makes me want to dig a hole, crawl in, then pull the dirt in behind me.  The fact that the modern world still pays attention to utter nonsense like Catholicism, the Pope, holy trinities, how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, and all the rest of it's medivel, arcane baloney I find incredible, and ultimately sad.  And to an unbelieving Jew, that billions of people who are not Jewish pray to a dead Jew I find astounding.  What would Catholics think if Jews prayed to a dead, bloody, emaciated, crucified Pope?  It's truly an offensive hold-over from the time of the Inquisition when they'd stick pins through your tongue, put out your eyes with burning pokers, then push you to the bottom of a trough of water and if no bubbles came out then you were a true believer, and then for good measure, to prove their true, deep, abiding love of god, they'd burn you at the stake alive.

Josh

Name:              Bruce Postman
E-mail:             bpostman@yahoo.com

Dear Josh:

Ever see The Border w/Nicholson playing against type? Little choppy but pretty good overall. Great theme song. How about Friends of Eddie Coyle w/Mitchum? Just released on dvd for the first time and I think it's one any fan of crime-cinema should check out.

Thanks,
Bruce

Dear Bruce:

I saw them both and can barely remember either of them.  As I vaguely recall, Mitchum seemed rather old and mopey in "Eddie Coyle;" and "The Border" all seemed to come to nothing.  If you haven't seen "Blue Sky," it's a much, much better Tony Richardson film, and his last, too.

Josh

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

Hey Josh,

I just watched a fantastic movie the other night called "Straight Time" starring Dustin Hoffman. I'm quite sure you've already seen this movie considering the amount of films you have seen over the years. Anyway I couldn't help but notice similarites that this movie had with "Running Time". Was "Straight Time" an influence on RT? The failed jewellery store heist in particular was quite similar I thought. Both are very cool movies. By the way, sucks to hear about the amount of RT posters you threw out! I would love to own one!

Dear Chris:

"Straight Time" was absolutely an influence on "Running Time," and also on "Reservoir Dogs," too (the author of the book Edward Bunker is in RD).  I think the jewelry store robbery is just brilliant, with Harry Dead Stanton checking his watch and stating, "This is very un-fucking-professional."  The junkie getaway driver not being there is a total rip-off on my part.  M. Emmett Walsh was terrific as the probation officer.

Josh

Name:              James
E-mail:             

Dear Josh:

Jack Alderton is obviously either very young or very misinformed (or both) - the American TV series (Star Trek, The Munsters, Get Smart et al) being remade into big movies these days used to be broadcast on British terrestrial TV all the time. Even now, quite a few contemporary US shows like Heroes and The Wire are on the BBC. Still waiting for TSNKE to show up on Synapse's release schedules! Is it just you and Bruce being interviewed in the documentary about the Super-8 days?

Dear James:

Well, we've done the HD transfer and I'm still waiting to put on the sound, which I guess will be soon. Yes, it's just  Bruce and I being interviewed, although I'd like to get some others, like Joe LoDuca or Tim Quill.  And it still needs to be edited, too.

Josh

Name:              Jack Alderton
E-mail:             

Dear Josh:

Though I agree with you on Remakes being rubbish I will take Remakes of old TV Series because though BBC Two did briefly have "The Munsters" (which I hear they're doing a Film of) on in the mid-mornings a couple of years ago it's the only time I've ever seen an American Series on British Terrestrial TV. So so what if "The Addams Family" is a Remake? Until they start showing the original Series on TV I'll take the Film (though I actually thought the second one was Funnier) as my dose of The Addams Family.

Dear Jack:

The fact that you folks in England didn't get some of the original TV shows that are now being remade means nothing.  This era of remakes and sequels is a clear representation of the utter lack of originality in society.  It also represents the total takeover of media by huge, multi-national corporations, where anything with name value is better than anything original.  The fact that moldly old shit from my early youth 40 years ago, like "Star Trek" or "The Addams Family," is still getting dragged out and remade is pathetic beyond mere words.  It's as though nothing of any actual value has occurred in 40 years that's worth making movie about.

Josh

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

Hey Josh,

That's a great list off the top of your head! I love White Hunter, Black Heart. Especially the last shot, when Eastwood/Huston flops into the directors chair and calls action. (I love the way he puts the fascist woman in her place, too). Great film. I'd forgotten about it.

Lee

Dear Lee:

There's a terrific scene where the writer, Jeff Fahey playing Peter Viertel, is going on and on about truth, and how it's all that matters in life.  George Dzunza as Sam Spiegel finally says, "If I always told the truth, I'd be a bar of soap now."  At another point Fahey tells Eastwood that killing an elephant is a crime.  Eastwood replies, "No, it's a sin, and that's worse."

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

Word to "Anonymous" : if you give Josh Becker an excuse to write a list of movies, he WILL run with it! Within the list were several films I enjoyed and hadn't thought of in a while. The one that I'd like to ask you about is "Fort Apache: the Bronx", ( with the very scary scene of Pam Grier as a hooker who hides a razor blade in her mouth to cut men's throats.) It struck me at the time that it didn't really have anything to do with Ford's "Fort Apache", or am I forgetting something? I felt the same way about Carpenter's "Assault on Precinct 13", which he always says was an urban remake of Hawk's "Rio Bravo", but it really isn't that similar. It seems like it would be very cool to adapt westerns to modern settings, but I can't thing of any films that have done it well, can you?

Dear Raoul:

Hey, I stopped at 1992, and I could easily have kept going to the present.  I just don't like folks saying I haven't liked a movie in 30 years, which just ain't true.  I don't think there is any connection between Ford's "Fort Apache" and "Fort Apache: The Bronx."  They just called the police station in the Bronx Fort Apache, and they had a bunch of Native American knick-knacks all over the walls, until Ed Asner has them removed.  But that was a good, tough picture, and Paul Newman was, as always, great.  I particularly liked the fact that the whole city is looking for Pam Grier and she's actually dead, rolled up in a rug, and sitting in a pile of trash in the garbage dump.  Danny Aiello throwing the kid off the roof was frightening.  Regarding making westerns into modern-day stories, I can't think of any.

Josh

Name:              Justin Hayward
E-mail:             

Dear Josh:

A lot of very interesting movies seem to be made... post twenty years ago, but I’ve noticed recently you can find many interesting movies underground, at festivals, and other places. Trouble is, studios and high-end so-called “independent” films are the only thing screened and/or released nationally. And, I’m talking about Martin Scorsese films. “The Departed” is considered a small character piece to most of the American public these days. Do you make an attempt to see some “smaller” films at festivals or small indy video stores? You can find some really interesting (as well current) films, just nothing starring The Rock. It’s just nowadays you have to look out for stuff yourself. No more relying on Hollywood to provide much. The superhero movie has overrun the entire business... lately.

Dear Justin:

I see quite a few of the small indies on Sundance and IFC, and most of them are unwatchable crap.  Back when I was a kid this type of film was called "The NYU Walking Movie," where a boy and girl endlessly walk around Manhattan.  Now they're called "Mumblecore" because they've added entirely useless dialog.  At least in the old days they used to use a tripod occasionally so they could actually compose a pretty shot; now they're entirely hand-held, so they're visually worthless, too.  I did see a good, tiny, legitimately indepedent film recently called "Garage" from Ireland.  The accents are so thick it has subtitles.  It all takes place at a garage/gas station, and the local pub.  But every shot was well-considered (not hand-held), and I cared about the lead character and the situation he was in.

Josh 

Name:              anonymous
E-mail:             

Dear Josh:

LOL, why would anyone recommend the new Star Trek movie to you? Memo to Alice S.: Josh doesn't like anything from the last 30 years, and frankly I don't blame him. The stuff they release today makes the stuff from the 90's look like Kurosawa by comparison. At least something like "Pulp Fiction" isn't part four, or part five, or part eleven of anything, or a remake of a rather crappy 60's TV show which has little more than novelty value. Interesting that every big film this summer has been praised endlessly for the first weekend, then the grosses literally drop by more than 50% over the next few days and nobody remembers it by the end of the week (the new ST movie started with $75m and dropped down to $43m the next week; the new X-Men movie dropped from $85m to $14m in it's third week). Hell, did you read the recent Time Magazine interview with JJ Abrams? He couldn't have made it more obvious that he has no idea how to direct a film. Sorry, just ranting here. Incidentally, I just saw "The Devils," a film from 1971 the other night. Have you seen it Josh? You might like it, it really exemplifies the whole "religion is evil" aspect of your philosophy. It'd make a great double bill with "Passion of the Christ." I also saw "RKO 281" again, which didn't hold up very well. Liev Schrieber, who I like, was insufferable as Orson Welles, and not believable at all as a 25-year-old.

Dear anon:

Without knocking myself out I could come up with a list of at least 100 films I've liked since 1979, such as: "Kramer vs. Kramer," "Apocalypse Now," "Being There," "Norma Rae," "Manhattan," "The Tin Drum," "Raging Bull," "Coal Miner's Daughter," "Ordinary People," "The Elephant Man," "The Shining," "Airplane," "Caddy Shack," "The Great Santini," "Shogun Assassin," "Resurrection," "Breaker Morant," "Altered States," "From Mao to Mozart: Isaac Stern in China," "Fort Apache: The Bronx," "Atlantic City," "Arthur," "Mephisto," "Gallipoli," "Rocky III," "Diner," "The Road Warrior," "An Officer and a Gentleman," "First Blood," "Fast Times at Ridgemont High," "48 Hrs., "The Verdict," "Sophie's Choice," "10," "The Year of Living Dangerously," "Wasn't That a Time: The Weavers," "Local Hero," "Monty Python's The Meaning of Life," "The King of Comedy,' "Tender Mercies," "The Dead Zone," "The Right Stuff," "The Gray Fox," "Uncommon Valor," "Splash," "This is Spinal Tap," "Moonlighting," "Places in the Heart," "Stranger Than Paradise," "Lost in America," "Sixteen Candles," "Pee Wee's Big Adventure,"  "All of Me," "Plenty," "The Times of Harvey Milk," "Murphy's Romance," "Hannah and Her Sisters," "About Last Night," "Aliens," "Salvador," "Blue Velvet," "28 Up," "A Room With a View," "Something Wild," "Platoon," "Demon Lover Diary," "Full Metal Jacket," "Desert Bloom," "The Trip to Bountiful," "Hail! Hail! Rock 'n' Roll," "Broadcast News," "Moonstruck," "The Dead," "Robocop," "Aur Voir Les Enfants," "Stand and Deliver," "Street Smart," "Sid & Nancy," "Hoosiers," "Big," "Midnight Run," "The Long Good Friday," "Crossing Delancy," "The Naked Gun," "My Life as a Dog," "The Accidental Tourist," "Prick Up Your Ears," "Biloxi Blues," "Jean De Florette," "Say Anything," "Jack Knife," "When Harry Met Sally...," "Parenthood," "Sea of Love," "Drugstore Cowboy," "Five Corners," "Glory," "Roger & Me," "Driving Miss Daisy," "Bat 21," "Crimes and Misdemeanors," Powwow Highway," "Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer," "Goodfellas," "Postcards from the Edge," "Misery," "Berkeley in the Sixties," "Pelle the Conqueror," "Let it Ride," "Running on Empry," "84 Charring Cross Road," "The Commitments," "Black Robe," "The Man in the Moon," "White Hunter, Black Heart," "JFK," "Howard's End," "La Femme Nikita," "Unforgiven," and that takes us from 1979 - 1992, where I'll stop.  Meanwhile, I only saw "RKO281" once, but I liked it and thought that Liev Schrieber was a good choice for Welles.

Josh

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

Dear Josh,

You might enjoy the new Star Trek movie, the one where all-new actors take on the characters in the original series from the '60s. Don't know that you'll overly admire the story -- it's one of those time-travel things and I for one wasn't tracking it any too adroitly, nor have I yet talked to anyone else who thought they did, but I also haven't met any confirmed Trekkies who minded this at all. It's no doubt some nonsense of a premise but the movie adheres to the values of the original show and the recreation of the old roles is just wonderfully done, and what more do you need, really? Someone suggested the time warp thing is just to establish that a slightly altered universe is in place so as to allow the movie, and any sequels, creative license with old story conditions, which it certainly exercises. But what's loveable is not what's been changed, though I had no particular problem with that, but what's been retained.

Regards,
Alice

Dear Alice:

Yes, I've heard this review few times now.  That the dynamics between Kirk, Spock and McCoy are the same as the old days so it's fun to watch.  Nevertheless, from my curmudgeonly perspective, "Star Trek" is as tepid and warmed-over of an old, moldy idea that there is out there, next to James Bond and 60-year-old comic books.  "Star Trek" is from my early youth, 1967-69, when I was 9-10-11, and I'm more than happy to leave it there. 

Josh

Name:              Jay
E-mail:             justice101601@msn.com

Dear Josh:

Hello. Am very keen on acquiring a 27X40 Running Time poster....but would in fact be happy with ANY Running Time poster. Any idea on where one could get such a thing? Thanks in advance. Jay Wilson

Dear Jay:

When I moved out of L.A. I threw out about 500 "Running Time" posters, and now I've only got a couple left.  Sorry.

Josh

Name:              Timothy Patrick Quill
E-mail:             timothyquill@gmail.com

Geee Josh,

Thanks for telling your fans that I am really not an actor. Appreciate that---IMDB.com--Timothy Patrick Quill When I'm not working on a project (Americas Next Fake Shemp) I teach Middle School. Also Just registered the Script " The Shemps " Hope all is well with you.

Dear Tim:

I said that?  I deeply apologize, and I certainly didn't mean it.  You've given me many fine performances, going all the way back to the super-8s.  Your performance in "The Blind Waiter" is a classic, and I think you're terrific in TSNKE, too.  If I ever get "The Horribleness" financed, you're the Woofman.

Josh

Name:              Jeff Alede
E-mail:             

Dear Josh:

Seems like most of my comments are not getting through (I sent 2 follow-ups about boxing but haven't seen any response). Ever since this new webmaster stepped in there seems to be a lot of hiccups with the site. Hope it gets fixed.

Dear Jeff:

It's not the webmaster, it was the server, and it's fixed now.  Kevin, the webmaster, helped get it fixed.

Josh

[Webmaster's Note: And Brian. Gerry was willing to help, but Brian beat him to it. I did my best under the circumstances. I re-uploaded and ran through every page of the website twice. -Kevin]

Name:              maria
E-mail:             

Dear Josh:

i love you

Dear Mariah:

You don't happen to be the wind, do you?

Josh

Name:              Tim
E-mail:             Nansemond Native

Good Morning Josh,

A while back you mentioned a film entitled "The Evil" from 1978 starring Richard Crenna. Just like the other guy, I'll digest some of your mentions and look for them. The movie has a high cheese factor but it also had some interesting ideas. I liked the location to be sure. That led me to Gus Trikonis. I figured he was a one shot director but I found out different. He was even married to Goldie Hawn during her "Laugh In" years. He worked on many different projects until 1998 including "Hercules: The Legendary Journeys". Did you ever get to meet the guy and talk shop? Any opinions of him or his work? I noticed he used the camera as the all-knoowing malevolent POV in "The Evil" and it was effective enough for that movie. I also think he maximized what he had to work with to make the best movie he thought he could at the time. It was still painful to watch though at some intervals to be 100% fair and honest. Have a good one. Tim

Dear Tim:

Interesting you should bring him up.  When I wrote the story for "Hercules in the Maze of the Minotaur" (for which I did not get credit), I named the bad guy Trikonis, in homage to Gus Trikonis.  For me, Gus's best credit is as one of the Sharks in the film "West Side Story" (and his sister, Gina, is one of the Shark girls).  Gus is in every scene with the Sharks and does all the great Jerome Robbins dance numbers.  Anyway, I certainly did meet him in New Zealand, and when I told him that I named the bad guy in "Minotaur" after him, his mouth dropped open in amazement.  He said that he got about ten phone calls the night "Minotaur" premiered from friends of his saying that his name had been used in a movie.  And it had.

Josh

Name:              Jack Alderton
E-mail:             

Dear Josh:

What are your thoughts on "Chariots of Fire"? It's on TV next week and although it came out in 1981, being British it may have escaped being rubbish so I was wondering wether to Watch it.

Dear Jack:

Sorry, but it really is rubbish.  Nice score by Vangelis, and pretty photography.  Otherwise, it's dull drivel.

Josh 

Name:              Jeff Alede
E-mail:             

Dear Josh:

Guess you're not interested in talking some boxing?

Dear Jeff:

This isn't a boxing website, although I'm certainly a boxing fan.  Something on your mind?

Josh


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