Mark from the uk. I received your super 8 short dvds
and loved them especially strykers war. What have you
got planned for the future any more feature films.
I'm so glad you enjoyed the films, and that they actually
made it to you. I've got several projects written,
but I don't got no damn financing. I do, however, have
some decent leads. Please give me some specific
impressions of the various super-8 films.
Any details on "Insurgent" that you feel
comfortable sharing this early? Are you thinking about
going the do it yourself route a la "Hammer"
again? And I'll definitely pick up your low budget filmmaking
guide from Amazon. Also, your Evil Dead journal isn't
on the site that I can see, was that included in one
of your books?
My "Evil Dead Journal" is in my book "Rushes."
All of these books are available through me, and if
you get them from me, I'll sign them. The only
details I'll divulge about "Insurgent" is
that it's extremely low-budget, I co-wrote it with Gary
Jones, and he and I hope to make it soon.
It's funny, I have this friend who refuses to rewrite
because he can't see the point in putting more time
into something if he hasn't been given any money for
his initial efforts yet. I refrained from telling this
person that he is an idiot, but I tried to convey my
argument for revision in a more civilized manner. Which
brings me to another question that's been bugging me:
that of Big Idea versus structure. I love your structure
articles, and they make a valid point. How can a story
stand if the foundation is garbage? With that in mind,
when you write a script, do you come up with an interesting
"What If?" scenario and then figure out a
way to express an idea, or do you know what you want
to talk about thematically and then attempt to brainstorm
a fictional vehicle to express your concept? Almost
every single screenwriting book I've read out there
makes a huge, HUGE deal about having the High Concept
one sentence story summary. This is something I am having
trouble with when I do my own work. I am not interested
in chasing the big Hollywood scene anyway, I am much
more interested in smaller, more intimate stories. Is
it a sign of a bad screenplay if it can't be boiled
down to one sentence? I make no claims to greatness
at the moment; I'm 28 and going back to college and
I've only written three screenplays thus far, but I'm
getting better. I've always been writing though -- mostly
novels and short stories, but I've always had a love
for the screenplay form. Your "Devil Dogs"
screenplay, by the way, is tremendous. I hope it gets
made eventually, it'd kick the crap out of the exploitative,
blood drenched "Saving Private Ryan" knockoffs
that have been floating around the past decade. How
on earth did you plot that thing? It reads very naturally,
yet you must have had to structure your story around
the actual events. Thanks again!
You need to read my book, "The Complete Guide
to Low-Budget Feature Filmmaking," wherein I discuss
all of this at length. But being able to tell
your story in a sentence is not the same thing as "high
concept." The high concept thing was "Pretty
Woman" meets "Out of Africa" or "Boyz
in the Hood" meets "Star Wars" -- the
blatant merging of two other movies. But if your
script gets made and ends up being shown, somebody
is going to have to boil it down to a sentence for the
blurb in the movie or TV guide, and there's no reason
why you shouldn't be able to. You may just end
up having to pitch your idea to a producer or an executive,
so you'd better have already boiled it down. The
basic structure of a story (any story) is: something
causes something else, and that can be summed up in
a sentence. If you don't have that cause and effect
structure, you don't have a story. Therefore,
that's how you need to look at it. Regarding "Devil
Dogs," I just decided to focus on one platoon,
then take them through all the action, which is a very
standard approach for a war film, but it's clear and
Please look for because the money was sent off 23 dollar
for two dvds
Your payment has not been received by PayPal.
And if you include your email address we won't have
to do this over the Q&A.
I'm currently writing my first feature screenplay and
was curious to know which draft do you first allow your
friends to read and give notes on? The first, second,
or beyond? I know getting the perspective of trusted
friends is crucial to many writers, but I'm not entirely
sure which draft I should first let people read. I feel
like I should tackle it again after letting it sit for
a few weeks after I complete the first draft and then
get the opinion of others on the second.
If you've got friends whose opinions you trust who
will actually read your script and won't just blow smoke
up your ass, you've got one chance with each of them.
Nobody will read your script twice. Therefore,
you have to put your best foot forward. I generally
don't let anyone (except my co-writer, if I have one)
read the first draft. I can always improve it
myself between the first and second drafts by just reading
it, thinking about, and as you say, maybe sitting on
it for a week or two, then reading it again. If
you've got a number of trusted friends, maybe you let
one or two read the second draft, then have another
one or two read the third. With my most recent
script I gave the second draft out to my trusted friends
several weeks ago and half of them still haven't
read it. Keep in mind, for most people reading
screenplays is a pain in the ass, and many people don't
really get the concept, which is a big reason why I
never include technical jargon in scripts. Good
Been a fan for quite some time ever since I saw "Running
Time" -- great flick! I've yet to check out "If
I Had A Hammer" yet. Anyways, I have a little writing
question for you. What was probably the easiest script
for you to write thus far? Apart from "Lunatics,"
are you a believer in revising and revising and revising
or are a couple polishes enough in your opinion? Very
interested to hear back from you, and thanks very much
for emphasizing story in your screenplays over nine
foot tall blue aliens.
Hey, I had seven-foot green alien termites in "Alien
Apocalypse." Meanwhile, your's is an interesting
question. The most fun I've ever had writing a
script was "The Horribleness" with my good
buddy Paul Harris. It wasn't easy by any means
because it contains hundreds of gags and jokes, but
we laughed our asses off while writing it. Whereas,
the first script Paul and I wrote together, "Buds,"
was really a struggle, and I don't think it ever
fully came together. "Running Time"
was a very difficult script to write, due to the continuous
action. My newest script, "Insurgent,"
which I just wrote with my buddy, Gary Jones, came together
very quickly. So far it's on its 2nd draft and
I don't think it needs more than another draft or two.
I think most scripts need at least three drafts and
a polish. The first draft is to just spit out;
the second draft is to beat it into shape; the third
and onward are to refine it, punch it up, improve it.
But if you're on the fifth or sixth draft and it's still
not making sense, you're in trouble.
I have now transferred the money via paypal I live
in Germany how long must I wait for the movies?
So far I haven't received the money. But it probably
takes about a week.
Sorry to hear about the death of Robert Tapert Sr.
Are you planning on attending the service?
I was sorry to hear it, too. I didn't know him
very well and I think the funeral has already occurred.
Just wonder what ever happened with your movie Strykers
War. Would love to watch it again I will never forget
that night at the old Universal theater.
Yes, a mere 25 years ago. That was a helluva
good screening, too. Anyway, the film was retitled
"Thou Shalt Not Kill...Except," and has been
out on video and DVD for 25 years. You can buy
it at Amazon.
I hope you don't mind me addressing someone other than
you, Josh, but I wanted to suggest to Ryan Nazarian
(the guy who's scheduling films for a revival house
in Atlantic City) that he screen Louis Malle's ATLANTIC
CITY. It's not only an appropriate choice for the location
of the theater, it's a great movie that's a hundred
times better than any of the titles on Ryan's list.
Since the schedule allows for double features, do you
have a recommendation for a companion movie, Josh? (I
know ... Ryan's not going to like the idea. I'm just
fantasizing because I wish I had the opportunity to
create the screening schedule for an old revival house).
I'm 100% in agreement with you. "Atlantic
City" is WAY better than anything on Ray's schedule.
It's a legitimately great movie, and I'd say Burt Lancaster's
last brilliant performance. You could connect
it to any other Louis Malle film, like "Murmer
of the Heart," "My Dinner With Andre,"
or "Au Revior Les Enfants."
Did you ever watch the HBO series, The Wire? I've heard
so many great things about it. "Co-creator David
Simon compared his approach to this series as he would
writing a novel. He knew when it would end. And it "reads"
just like a great novel. It is much more than a TV police
drama. It explores our American institutions and how
and why they are the way they are: corrupted. It looks
at law, politics, education, labor unions, journalism,
and much more. The Wire doesn't avert its gaze from
the cold, hard facts, which have been gleaned from the
experiences of a real-life reporter (Simon) and a police
I watched the first couple of episodes and it didn't
Do you like the Jack Lemmon picture, "Save The
Tiger"? I didn't see it on your list. It is a very
serious adult drama that not too many people know of.
Perhaps most famous because Jack Lemmon won his second
Oscar (and thus became the first performer in Academy
history to win both Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor).
"Save the Tiger" is all right. I've
seen several times, including when it came out.
Both Jack Lemmon and Jack Gilford are very good, but
it's not a great story, and I don't think it really
has much to say. Jack Lemmon was the first actor
to win both supporting and best actor, but several have
done it since, like: Meryl Streep, Jack Nicholson, and
Do you think Godard made any good films after "Breathless"?
I've seen a few of them and none of them are nearly
as good as that film. In fact, they aren't really good
at all and I feel like bailing half-way through. His
latest film "Film socialisme" looks awful.
I'm of the opinion that Godard completely utterly shot
his wad with "Breathless." As you say,
everything after that is pretty much just miserable.
I really do like the documentary parts of "Sympathy
For the Devil," watching the Rolling Stones at
their peak recording that song, but everything else
in the film is dull nonsense.
Thanks for your kind words Josh. Writing is actually
the only thing that gets me through the lean times.
I love writing and I love editing...Pity I can't get
my arse into gear for the middle bits. I re-watched
your great film "Running Time" a few nights
back with a couple of friends and a few beers. Now these
guys aren't huge movie buffs or anything (They new Bruce
from Congo of all things). I put the film on without
any real build up. 80 mins later they were silent. Had
I put them through another dud? (I have a habit of doing
that kind of thing to them...My faves are others duds).
Well, they all loved it to death. They couldn't believe
how it was done (I tried my best to tell them). One
of my friends thought it was the best thing he had ever
seen (He has only viewed Racing Stripes, Sister Act
2 & 51st Dates in the past though). How much planning
did that thing take mate? Did you do full runthru's
of the entire segments? How much rehearsal?
I'm so glad you and your friends enjoyed the film.
I go into all of the gory details about the making of
"Running Time" in my book "Rushes."
But yes, I had several rehearsals over the course of
a couple of weeks, but at my producer Jane's house,
not on location. Once we were on location we basically
couldn't get through any run-throughs without something
going haywire, so after a few failed attempts we'd just
shoot it. Once the film was running, though, everybody
tried harder and eventually we got it. It generally
took three tries to get one good take. The guy
with the worst job by far was the boom man who kept
getting caught on camera five minutes into a take looking
sheepish. I kept saying, "If you Join SAG
you'll get residuals," which he didn't think was
funny, but I did. He eventually ended up crawling
along the bottom of the frame with the microphone.
Regarding planning, I had every shot completely planned
out before we got there.
Webmaster: Kevin Neece
In response to Ryan, I was asked to
come up with a "movie camp" for this one teen,
here is what I programmed from 1965.
July 1 – The Bedford Incident
& How to Murder Your Wife
July 2 – Those Calloways & The Gorgon
July 3 – 36 Hours & None But the Brave
July 4 – Lord Jim
July 5 – Hush… Hush… Sweet Charlotte
& The Sound of Music
July 6 – The Train & Diary of a Chambermaid
July 7 – Carry On Spying & Sallah
July 8 – Atragon & Operation Crossbow
July 9 – Blood and Black Lace & Major Dundee
July 10 – Beach Blanket Bingo & Girl Happy
July 11 – The Pawnbroker & Fort Courageous
July 12 – Die! Die! My Darling! & War-Gods
of the Deep
July 13 – The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who
Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies & The
July 14 – Shenandoah & Those Magnificent Men
in Their Flying Machines
July 15 – The Collector & I’ll Take
July 16 – The Hallelujah Trail & The Sandpiper
July 17 – Cat Ballou & The Knack and How to
Get It & The Family Jewels
July 18 – The Great Race
July 19 – The Sons of Katie Elder & Darling
July 20 - A Very Special Favor & Help!
July 21 – Morituri & The Skull
July 22 – Marriage on the Rocks & Bunny Lake
July 23 – The Hill & The Agony and the Ecstacy
July 24 – The Loved One & The Cincinnati Kid
July 25 – King Rat & Kwaidan
July 26 – Harum Scarum & King and Country
July 27 – That Darn Cat & A Patch of Blue
July 28 – The Flight of the Phoenix & Battle
of the Bulge
July 29 – The Spy Who Came in from the Cold &
July 30 – Dr. Zhivago
with vintage trailers and drive-in
ads. It's up in the air as to whether he'd go through
with it. I'd have to discuss all the films.
On a reality level, it seems like too much. It
would be movie overload.
I've been working at a cool old revival house in Atlantic
City for the last couple years and the owner has allowed
me to do a week of double-feature programming! How fucking
cool is that? Here's the schedule I have planned, I
wanted to see what you thought. I know all the choices
may not be for you, but I just want your general thoughts:
Monday July 26th: Grumpy Old Men & Out to Sea (2
with Lemon & Matthau)
Tuesday July 27th: Requiem for a Dream & The Fountain
(2 by Aronofsky)
Wednesday July 28th: Fight Club & Benjamin Button
(2 by Fincher)
Thursday July 29th: Batman Begins & The Dark Knight
(2 by Nolan)
Friday July 30th: A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints
& Tropic Thunder (2 starring Downey Jr.)
Saturday July 31st: Jurassic Park & Jurassic Park
3 (the 2 best dinosaur movies ever)
Sunday August 1st: The Usual Suspects & X-Men (2
I can't wait! I'll even get to introduce them and everything
it should be awesome!
Good on ya. Have fun. Although personally
you wouldn't have gotten me to show up for any of those
It's been a while since I wrote in but I still keep
up. You get enough people raging at you, I wanted to
chime in with support. I think it's appropriate that
people bring up video games and "Titanic"
together. To me they both involve impressive visuals
(for their time) and nothing else. Why is "Avatar"
better than "Titanic"? Because the effects
are better, and that's it, essentially. Would anyone
read the book? As for The Beatles, they may well have
been the most innovative band in the most innovative
period since the early Jazz era. Lyrically, there's
nothing wrong with love songs if they're done well,
as The Beatles often did. In the past you've come up
with lists of movies from a particular year to demonstrate
how deep the quality of films once was compared with
the last thirty years. I think music has as sharp a
divide. Who today would compare with Steely Dan? Marilyn
Manson's music against David Bowie's? Please. How anyone
could deny that the Arts are suffering is beyond me.
Thanks, as always, John
Good to hear from you. I guess we're in a time
period where it's a lot easier to call the great stuff
of the past overrated as opposed to actually coming
up with anything new that's great. All I know
is that I have more Beatles songs on my ipod than any
other band, and they really did put out an astounding
amount of great material in 7 years. And
clearly none of them was anywhere near as good on their
own, so it was the dynamics of those four guys (and
George Martin) together. As my buddy in L.A. said,
"We were tricked. We grew up watching great
new movies and by the time we got to Hollywood they'd
stopped making them."
"Call me a stick-in-the-mud, but I don't think
video games where you do nothing but kill things, steal
cars, shoot cops or cut up prostitutes are good for
anybody or society in general. Whereas, as far as I
can see, there's no downside to being good at Jeopardy."
With all due respect, I'm going to have to disagree
with you there, Josh. I'd MUCH rather people do it in
video games (or art) than in real life. I actually think
it's good for society as a whole. I mean, let's face
it - this is all part of the primal yearings of the
human Id; everybody has thought about doing awful things
like that at some point, even if they don't admit it,
so what's wrong with pretending to do it as opposed
to *actually* doing it? How many millions of people
play these games and then go out and actually shoot
cops and kill prostitutes? In fact, I think film has
a far more negative impact in this respect since people
have actually been inspired by films like "A Clockwork
Orange" and "Taxi Driver" to commit violence.
If you personally find it offensive, of course, then
all the more power to you. To set the record straight,
I personally think the concept that video games are
"art" is pure nonsense. The main reason, I
think, is that art constitutes an expression of the
artist's individual personality, whereas in a game everything
is basically predetermined by the programmer, only with
variations as to how it will play out; the game is being
"created" by the player while it is being
played, so in essence he/she is the one creating it,
except that he/she is also not the one creating it,
if that makes sense. With that said, I enjoy playing
computer games (though mostly occasionally), and think
they do require intelligence, logic, and skill, though
not all of them, and there's nothing wrong with playing
them as long as you have fun (are they time killers?
Ultimately, yes), but they're not art, they\'re games,
no more than chess is an art form, or bowling, or baseball.
Of course I'd much rather play an older puzzle-based
adventure game than any of these aimless beat-em-ups
like Grand Theft Auto where, as you said, you do nothing
but cut up hookers. I must say I think it's ironic you
cited "Jeopardy" as a positive example of
gaming when Alex Trebek is a stick-in-the-mud if I ever
I like Alex Trebeck. I liked Art Fleming before
him. And I disagree with you. Cutting up
hookers, stealing cars, shooting cops is BAD in any
form. You shouldn't do it. It's bad. Virtually,
or any other way. You can't rationalize it.
If you like to cut up hookers or kill cops -- in any
form -- YOU ARE AN ASSHOLE! A CREEP! Don't
Regarding video games, I'm of mixed opininon. Overall,
I don't consider a valuble use of anybody's time, however,
the stories are improving and are becoming more cinematic
all the time, and I think there's certainly an art to
writing the story for a game, it's just all that silly
stuff where you have actually control the character
and make it fight things that takes away from the story.
Also, there's certainly an art to design and look of
the games. It takes a lot of skill, just like CGI in
a movie does. Also, there are some benefits to games.
These days they're trying to make educational games
and exercise driven games, and that can't be a bad thing.
Also, it can help with hand-eye coordination, and these
new Rock Band/Guitar Hero games can help you learn rhythm.
Overall though, most games are trash, but there are
some decent ones out there that could almost be considered
art. I wouldn't call the "Red Dead" games
art however ... though they are fun to play.
What you're saying is that it's artistic to create
the games, not to play them. I'm not a game-player,
but I have no problem with people playing games.
Call me a stick-in-the-mud, but I don't think video
games where you do nothing but kill things, steal cars,
shoot cops or cut up prostitutes are good for anybody
or society in general. Whereas, as far as I can
see, there's no downside to being good at Jeopardy.
Sorry dude but you're way out of line. And if you don't
know what you're talking about (exg. video games) you
should STFU and not act like king shit.
Are you some kind of fucking retard? I never
wanted to discuss video games in the first place.
No, I don't know anything about them, nor do I care
to. However, any game where you can virtually
cut up prostitutes sounds like deeply offensive hammered
dogshit. Do me and everyone else a favor and don't
come here anymore. I have no doubt there are plenty
of websites for moronic video gamers. Go there.
Just to clear up, I don't deny that Citizen Kane is
the single greatest Motion Picture ever made, I simply
agree with the point that someone should be allowed
to voice their opinions on something and be given a
reasonable answer like you do, not simply shouted down
as someone who doesn't know anything about Films. Admittedly
this would be the case with someone who disliked Citizen
Kane, but we should listen carefully to their views
before ridiculing them. And no, there isn't anything
wrong with 4:4 Time, but you should try and be creative
like Captain Beefheart, and given the choice between
Songs about leaky rooves, Circus Posters, Meter Maids,
Corn Flakes, a picture by a four-year-old Boy and the
umpteenth Song about whether or not a Girl Loves someone,
or Songs about the pointlessness of Terrorrism (Tommy
Gun), the futility of Murder (Somebody got Murdered),
or the lack of decent Jobs (Career Opportunities) -
that one being of particular relevence to a 16-year-old
with a month 'til he leaves High School and two years
of College to buy supplies for in the midst of the worst
Credit Crunch since the Great Depression - I'd take
the Clash any day. Yes, The Beatles did do a fair few
Songs with thought-inducing Lyrics, but the majority
have no deeper meaning, and for me, like a good Story
being vital to a good Film, Lyrics are the Heart of
I never said "Citizen Kane" was the best
movie ever, nor do I think so. Quite frankly,
it's not even my favorite Orson Welles film. But
"overrated"? It's still more innovative
than almost any movie that's come out since. And
I've got a Captain Beefheart record I haven't listened
to in about 30 years, I'm not even sure why I bought
it, and I never liked it. Nevertheless, for sheer
creativity, I'll still put the lyrics of "I Am
the Walrus" against any other rock song ever written.
So, you take the Clash, I'll take The Beatles.
And I wish you all the luck in the world. BTW,
you write very well for a 16-year-old.
With all do respect: Who the fuck are you? You don't
get to decide what's art and what's not. So Jepardy
is art? The only art in that show is on the hosts face
becaluse he's so fucking old he's like a zombie with
Who the fuck am I? I'm the guy to whom you wrote
seeking my opinion. The topic wasn't art, it was
games. I don't play them. If you think playing
some dumbass video game is art, you're simply one more
deluded bozo. Go virtually cut up prostitutes,
it's probably the best use of your time.
Just found this list of the 10 most overrated Films.
I love it's summing up of Titanic's success as being
the result of nothing more than "the Hormonal Imbalance
of millions of 12 and 13-year-old American Girls",
but I particularly agree with "Citizen Kane"
being on there due to it being seen as a Sacred Cow,
a Film that is seemingly beyond ridicule, which is ridiculous.
Nothing is beyond critisism. The worst offenders for
this are The Beatles. They were nothing more than a
hyped-up Boy Band and are solely responsible for the
fact that all Popular Music these days is standardized
in 4:4 Time with dull Rhythms and Drum Beats, meaningless
Lyrics and Nursery Rhyme Tunes. For me Punk Bands like
The Clash were the last truly great Bands in terms of
Lyrics. Also, what do you think of Carol Anne Duffy?
We did our English Literature Exam yesterday (I'm the
one who was the only one in the Class to understand
"Of Mice and Men", and one of only a few to
like it) and none of her Poems we've been studying actually
Rhyme, which is sort of the point of Poetry, isn't it?
What the fuck?!!! Is this a bloody fucking assault
on my senses? I won't even look at that list.
Yes, "Titanic" is a piece of shit, but "Citizen
Kane"? It's a really good movie. Just
look at any shot. It's brilliantly done and snappy
as hell. The Beatles were GREAT! Nursery
Rhymes? "Yellow matter custard/dripping from
a dead dog's eye"? And the point of poetry
is to rhyme. You're being taught shit my friend.
The Clash were garbage, and there's nothing wrong with
I would like you see on my offical web site: www.pablo-riquelme.com
, my personal tribute to you at the end of my biography.
I'm filmmaker on Spain and I've ever loved your films!
I read it. Thanks very much. Lots of luck.
Don't know if you're a "Gamer" but Red Dead
Redemption is fucking amazing. It's like living in the
Wild West. It's ridiculous, you get to ride around in
an area like the size of Texas and do anything your
heart desires, like hunt and campout under the stars,
or hold up a train, or slash up a prostitute, or play
poker (and cheat or not cheat) or slaughter cows. It's
so amazing it's ridiculous! What are your thoughts on
games? Roger Bebgert goes on and on about how video
games will never be art but I disagree completely. Point
in hand: Red Dead Redemption!
With all due respect, I don't play games. I enjoy
Jeopardy where it's entirely based on knowledge, but
otherwise I have no interest.
Did you by any chance go see "Where the Wild Things
Are" when it came out? It was interesting visually,
and it had atmosphere, and it did achieve a degree of
emotonal resonance about childhood. But I found it morally
confusing -- it was in part about marital dysfunction
and the effect this has on children, and I thought the
film put a really unsettling degree of responsibility
on the child viewer to understand and empathize with
his/her adults and their problems, including the adults'
problems with the children themselves. Personally I
think the burden of understanding rests with the adults,
not with the children. I figure we adults may fall short
in this responsibility but we can't transfer it, and
that this is already in enough real-life danger of being
forgotten. So this didn't seem to me to be a really
constructive film message for our times. I wondered
if I was maybe not being fair to the film, or what.
Do you have a take on this?
I agree with you, although it's probably not a bad
idea for kids to at least try to understand their parents'
problems, but I don't think the burden rests with the
kids. Meanwhile, I didn't see the film, but when
I was a kid I loved Maurice Sendak's "Nutshell
Library," parts of which I can still recite from
Name: Don Keeman
Hello, big fan. I was just wondering if you ever worked
with Roberto Orci or Alex Kurtzman at all during you
time on Xena or Hercules or JOAT? If you did meet them,
I wondered what you thought of them, and also what you
think of their work these days?
I never worked with them, although I was aware of them.
I hear their "Star Trek" reboot is pretty
good, but I haven't seen it.
I thought that you might find this interesting. Criterion
is releasing three Josef von Sternberg silent films
in a 3 disc set this August. Underworld, The Last Command,
and The Docks of New York, all which I believe have
never been released on DVD in the US. I'm pretty excited
about this as I've been wanting to see all three for
quite sometime, especially The Docks of New York. http://www.criterion.com/boxsets/744-three-silent-classics-by-josef-von-sternberg
Hope all is well,
I love those movies, particularly "The Docks of
New York," which I saw in a gorgeous nitrate print
at UCLA. There was no musical accompaniment and
it didn't matter because the film was so good.
Emil Jannings won the first Oscar for Best Actor for
"The Last Command" (and "The Way of All
Flesh." Back at the beginning actors won
for more than one film), and Ben Hecht won the first
Original Screenplay Oscar for "Underworld"
(which is a tad slow). Those are important movies.
Have you ever seen "Teresa" (1951) by Fred
Zinnemann? It's considered a good "lost" film
of the era by those who have managed to catch it.
I feel like I've seen it, but I'm not sure. I
could check, but it would be a pain. It doesn't
get that great of a review from Maltin.
was wondering if you are gonna be directing any of
Spartacus when the second season starts?Is it cheaper
for them to hire a nz director than an american or is
it are about the same pay?Thanks for taking the time
to answer our questions.
I didn't get on the first season so I'm not holding
my breath about getting on the second. I don't
know what the rates are these days, but back during
Xena it was about four times more expensive hiring an
American DGA director, flying them in, putting them
up and renting them a car.
So you can pay with paypal for the DVDs? How come that's
not listed as a payment option on the site?
It should be now.
i live in england i am intrerested in buying all five
of your super 8 short dvds how much would they all cost
with posting and packing and how do you go about sending
for them. thanks
As I just mentioned, PayPal ought to be up and running.
Where and How can I buy the film: "If I Had a
Hammer" ?? I can pay with PayPal. Thanks!
If all has gone right in the world, as it so rarely
does, PayPal ought to be up and running.
[Webmaster's Note: I just finished
setting it up yesterday. - Kevin].
Are you a fan of Peter Bogdanovich's film Paper Moon?
Not really. It's a terrific-looking production
and Tatum O'Neil was very good, but Ryan is a bore.
For me Bogdanovich shot his wad with "Targets"
and "The Last Picture Show."
Please, don't read this like a joke... I would like
to know the snuff brand of my favourite director. Consequently,
your snuff brand. I would feel so happy!
P.S.: I bought your book "Rushes" and I think
it's very interesting to read so many things and curiosities
about your films! Thanks!
I don't use snuff. I do smoke American Spirit
cigarettes, which I roll myself. I'm glad you're
finding "Rushes" interesting.
You've vented in the past about pretty boys Leonardi
DI Caprio and Matt Damon - young men playing at being
men in the movies. And I can cerainly see where you
ae coming from. I wondered what you thought about Coppola's
nephew: Nic Cage? I first came upon him in Raising Arizona.
I'm not a Coen Bros fan (my friend - Richard - and I
have endless arguments about the so called merits of
he Coen's films)... however, I do enjoy the eccetricity
of 'Raising Arizona' and I very much enjoy Nic Cage's
performance - he adds a gravitas to proceedings that
I think is hard to deny. I've recently seen Nicholas
Cage in Adaptation and Mike Nichols' Lord of War - two
very good films, and two (three?!?) very good performances.
From Con Air (!) to Leaving Las Vegas... here's an actor
that traverses genres. I fnd him interesting. Sometimes...
magnetic. A very watchable artist. I wondered what your
take was on this man.
I like Nicholas Cage and I think he's a good actor.
Like you say, he's very watchable. "Lord
of War" was pretty good, although I can live without
all of the other movies you mentioned. And it's
not that I don't like Leonardo DiCaprio or Matt
Damon, they simply don't have the gravitas of a Burt
Lancaster or a Robert Mitchum.
Do you ever feel really bad after a film Josh? I finished
my first feature last year here in Liverpool. Everyone
was really happy with it, a premier weekend at a cinema
with lots of people i don't know and tons of interviews
about things I know nothing about. 5 months later and
I can't get motivated to do anything. Spent two years
on feature and tons of enthusiasm. Now nothing. Ever
Yes, but you just keep going if you've got it in you.
I've had big long stretches of uncertainty between most
of my films. There were four years between my
first feature and my second, then six years until the
next one, then four years until the next one.
It's been four years since my last SyFy film.
The only thing that keeps me sane is writing, and even
though most of my scripts haven't been produced (I just
finished the first draft of script number 37), I'm still
hopeful for some reason. The point, as I see it,
is not the reaction to the movie or the script, it's
the process of doing it. Good luck to you.
I would like to buy two dvds from you (Acting &
Reacting with Final Round and Holding It) but I only
have € your movies i can buy with paypal But for
this I need your email thanks!
My email is email@example.com.
Name: A Man
of Few Words
I have two questions. What do you think of Blood Simple?
I thought it was pretty good actually. Second, have
you heard the band Muse? This is one of their new songs.
I think you might like it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w8KQmps-Sog
"Blood Simple" bored me. That story
has been told many times before, and generally
better. I'll take the 1946 version of "The
Postman Always Rings Twice," or Luchino Visconti's
1942 Italian version, "Ossessione."
What do you think of Lucy doing nudity in Spartacus?
Have you had time to see any of this new cable show?
If you've got it flaunt it. No, I haven't seen
Hey Josh –
interesting article I thought you might like to read...
kinda sad, really. http://themovieblog.com/2007/10/economics-of-the-movie-theater-where-the-money-goes-and-why-it-costs-us-so-much
What's sad? That's economics. You're the
consumer. If you think movie tickets and popcorn
cost too much, don't go to the movies. You think
Chris Tucker makes too much money? Don't see his
movies. Whoever wrote that silly piece is acting
like they're being ripped off. It's ridiculous.
I read your book "Going Hollywood" recently
and enjoyed it. It feels very honest, especially in
your depiction of your 18-year-old self. I must say
that it scared me a little just how many people were
driving constantly stoned, drunk, etc. I hope its not
quite as common these days. Have you ever been interested
in still photography? It was the first relatively movie-related
activity I ever did and it really began my interest
I'm glad you enjoyed the book. The 1970s were
a different era. Meanwhile, I have always been
interested in photography, and of course I've always
loved cinematography. I have a Yashica 2
1/4 that I pull out and shoot pictures with every
few years. I must admit, however, that I'm not
a very good still photographer. I've taken a few
good pictures, but not many.
It is being reported that Legend of the Seeker is canceled.
Looks like the rumor you heard was true. Your thoughts?
I never saw it. I don't watch many TV shows.
I did just watch "You Don't Know Jack" and
thought it was very good. Al Pacino gave Jack
Kevorkian an Upper accent, which is weird, but otherwise
he's terrific and it's an interesting, provocative,
well-made film, as are most HBO films.
Just. Fucking. Wow. Did you know of this? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oAfzmm6ZvZ4&feature=player_embedded
No I didn't know about it until just now. Restore
Stephen Baldwin, eh? He's our present-day Job?
I think it was on The Simpsons with Arianna Huffington
where the conservatives say they have Stephen Baldwin
and she says that like not having any Baldwin at all.
And Stephen spoke at a conservative rally recently
and the MC said, "A man who needs no introduction"
and Jon Stewart said, "A man who needs no introduction?
Stephen Baldwin needs an introduction in his own family."
Meanwhile, at the upcoming Wizard Con in Atlanta, the
special guests are: William Shatner, Bruce Campbell
and Stephen Baldwin. Sadly, they didn't invite
me. I asked Bruce to give my regards to Stephen.
I am contacting you on behalf of the website, The Mondo
Film & Video Guide (www.mondo-video.com)
I noticed you are gonna be at the motor city nightmares
convention this weekend. I was wondering if I might
get a brief interview with you on Sunday? We'd be happy
to promote your site or anything you're working on.
Also, will you have DVDS for sale, I need a Dvd of thou
shall not kill and lunatics. I've been sitting on vhs's
of these for years! Also on top of the mondo interview,
I'm wondering if you might not give me a few extra minutes,
as I'm helping out Troma's Lloyd Kaufman on his new
project, "Sell Your Own Damn Movie" It will
be a book, about selling your indie film, producing
it, making it ect. A sort of tips and tricks of the
trade. I'd like to grab some audio from you on this
as well. Anyhow, please let me know if we could set
something like this up. Warmest Regards Justin www.mondo-video.com
I will be very easy to find this weekend as I will
be stationed at a table in the guest area of the Motor
City Nightmares Weekend convention. I would be
more than happy to answer any and all of your questions
and do any kind of interview you'd like.
Have you ever been in the Cifi and Horror film festival
of SITGES (Spain)?? I think it is a very good festival
and you should go or sent your next Cifi movie!
I haven't been to Stiges, but my film "Lunatics"
showed there and Bruce Campbell and Ted Raim were there
with it. They called me afterward to say that
it was an incredible screening in front of about a thousand
people. I'm sorry I missed it.
Sometime ago I started a petition to get Lunatics :
A Love Story released on DVD. Check out the petition
when you have the time.
Your wish has been granted because you can now
get it on DVD from me.
Regarding: : Like you and the last poster on it I just
could not see much there. However later I thought of
the Greek myth of Sisyphus, as if the main character
seems to be condemmened to repeat the same action over
and over, as do the people who plant the bombs and the
humanity that wages wars over and over. I don't think
it was meant to be existential but it could be read
that way. : Much better when it focused on being up
in the air and not so good when it went down to earth,
I mean it was better when it focused on George Clooney
and his job and travels. Anna Kendricks apprentice character
reminded me of the girl from Juno, as in "Juno
gets a Job" : (aka "Blue Like Me" or
"A Man called Horseshit") (I came up with
several alternate endings as well) I really wanted to
like it and did but then after the insufferable battle
scenes ( in a ecco/peace themed movie ?) I felt agitated.
The CGI solidiers looked like GI Joe Dolls riding a
big Tonka truck fighting Jungle Barbies. And along with
the dozens of other films and stories that people have
compared it too you did a similar story in "Alien
Apocolypse" (one lone human turns a rag tag band
of schmucks into a lean mean fighting machine to defeat
powerful oppressors) and of course Bruce did it twice
in "Army of Darkness" as well. The message
was better done in "The Lorax" and in the
song "One Tin Soldier (Theme from the movie Billy
Jack) But the jungle and nature stuff was really well
done. This essay sums that part up for me http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/19/science/19essay.html
As for the debate on 3D. Perhaps you forgot or are unaware
of these gems from SCTV . http://www.metafilter.com/88159/Scary-stuff-kiddies
I loved SCTV 3-D theater, with John Candy as Joe Buck
in "The Midnight Cowboy" in 3-D. That
was funny stuff.
Name: Jon Cross
Thank you for the really great, detailed and pleasant
answer to my previous question. Have the old gang (Bruce,
Sam etc.) been involved, endorsed or OK'ed the releasing
of these old Super 8's and shorts that you are selling
on your website? Do any of them have any extras? did
you and Bruce discuss doing a commentary for Stryker's
War for example? Thanks again, keep making them and
I, for one, will keep watching...
The only member of the old gang I'm still in touch
with is Bruce and he's all for it. Most of the
old films I'm selling were produced by Bruce and I,
and we really did knock ourselves out trying to make
the best movies we could, given that they're super-8
and made for $400-500 each (except "Stryker's War,"
which cost a whopping $5,000). But,
if I do say so myself, these films were about as technically
advanced as super-8 ever got (Sam made a couple of films
that are every bit as good, or better, but he won't
release them). Meanwhile, Bruce is a very busy
guy and I wouldn't dream of bugging him to do anything
at this point. So no, there are no extras, just
the films themselves, but finally well-transferred,
so this is probably their definitive versions.
When Synapse Films finally releases the Blue-Ray versions
of TSNKE and RT there will be a documentary included
with Bruce and I discussing the super-8s.
Where do you rate The Desperate Hours among Wyler\'s
oeuvre? I\'ve always been a Bogart fan but haven't yet
It's lesser Wyler, but it's still a darn good movie.
Bogart and Fredric March are both very good, and it's
a solid, tense, dramatic situation. It's a nice
example of no bullshit filmmaking.
Name: Jon Cross
long time fan/some time writer, in regards to your
debate about The Hurt Locker you don't need to reassess
anything, it was a terribly dull and pointless movie.
I also agreed completely with you about Meryl Streep
in Julie & Julia,as for Avatar, CGI & 3D do
not a good movie make... I personally enjoyed The Imaginarium
of Dr.Parnassus (I am a big Gilliam/Tom Waits fan) and
thought that District 9 was a genuinely entertaining
and exciting twist on the genre movie. Are there any
new films you've seen recently that you liked? and what's
next on your slate?
I've got "Hurt Locker" sitting there and
I just can't bring myself to watch it again. I
will because I promised I would, but my opinions don't
change that abruptly. Isn't "District 9"
simply a variation of "Alien Nation," where
aliens now live among humans? New films that I
liked? That's an oxymoronic question (not that
I'm insinuating in any way you're moronic, that's just
how it sounds). I dragged my sorry ass out to
see "Avatar" in Imax 3-D before it left, as
I've mentioned, and though I enjoyed the 3-D and being
a blue monkey on Pandora, as you said, CGI and 3-D do
not a good movie make. I haven't even seen a good
old movie lately. I tried watching "W."
and that was unbearable, and I made through about 20
minutes of Woody Allen's "Melinda and Melinda"
and that too was unbearable. We're supposed to
be getting the same story as a comedy and tragedy, but
since the comedy isn't funny and the tragedy isn't tragic,
it's difficult to tell them apart. Pretty photography
by Vilmos Zsigmond. Meanwhile, I'm writing yet
another script (#37), but I'd rather not discuss it
because I'm superstitious and I feel like discussing works-in-progress
Do you hold out any hope that the Wall Street sequel
will be any good?
There's always hope. I enjoyed "Wall Street,"
which wasn't great, but it was pretty good, and
it was a terrific part for Michael Douglas. There's
certainly been a lot of shenanigans on Wall Street
since he made the first film so it's worthy of another
I just tried reading through some of your old questions
and youve got millions of questions like youve been
doing this forever! How many fans do you have! Do you
attribute that to your website your movies your writing
or your tv?
I think I have three fans and two of them don't like
me. But I jest. Yes, I've answered many,
many question over the past 12 years. Tens of
thousands of them, I'm sure. Hopefully, I've been
of some help to at least a few of the people.
It seems like more people stumble across my website
than come here on purpose, but I don't really know.
Wow I'm still a daily Q&A reader since 2004....Just
thought I'd mention that.... Anyway, I just finished
"Going Hollywood" and I loved it! I was very
interested to read this book since I'm 19 myself with
a dream of moving out to LA (one of many dreams). It
was a great read. Such and odd cast of characters living
at 666 Van Ness huh! As a wannabe writer who feels like
he's in need of something worth writing about I found
this book relatable and inspiring. I look foward to
any other books you may be working on. Wasn't there
some talk of a short story collection?
I'm very pleased you enjoyed the book and found it
inspiring. Yes, it's a wonderfully odd cast of
characters. Like they say, truth is stranger
than fiction. I'm still working on the short story
collection. I had a terrific run at the end of
last year and wrote eight short stories in a row, and
maybe four of them are worth publishing. So I've
got eight or ten and I just need eight or ten more.
Site's slowing down alot these days. Is that because
you're an IDIOT????????????????????
You seem to be accutely aware of the traffic on the
website of someone you consider an idiot. What
does that make you?
I would like to buy Holding It but I have 2 questions
: Ma monnaie est l'euro, est-ce un problème ?
I never buy on the web and my English is bad, then I
would like to know how to send money? I must send the
check to the address or something like that ? Sorry
to ask stupid questions but you should know that the
passion for these shorts is global and the fans are
not always English. Thank you for your understanding
and I hope to see more shorts in the future.
Would you use PayPal?
and Johnson Umpire
Let me get this straight, if I were to buy all the
dvd-r's your selling, it'd only be five bucks total
for shipping? Also, when are you making other titles
available. And how did you decide on the prices? Some
of them seem a bit steep.
It's $10 for short films and $20 for features.
And yes, it's $5 S&H for any order over 3 disks.
Name: Sam Dodge
Thank you for the concise rundown of the studios. You
had some information I needed on Kinemacolor. It's clear
you are interested in the history of Hollywood so I
thought you would like to crash around my website www.samdodge.com
It's full of silent era 35mm motion picture cameras
including William Fox's first camera and the first unit
A camera that shot the original King Kong.
Hope to hear from you soon,
I've been to your website a couple of times and I found
it very interesting and informative. I'm glad
I could reciprocate.
I received the DVD's in the mail today, all three were
in good condition. I didn't expect them to have cover
art, very nice touch. I don't think I'll ever be able
to watch the feature version of Stryker's War again,
though. Even though I liked a lot of things about it,
including the marines, having Bruce Campbell as Stryker
really makes it work better for me. If only he had been
able to make the transition to the feature. Holding
It was great and very funny. Did you get permission
to film at any of those locations? Especially the ending
scene with the shootout at the museum, which was very
well done. I love all the stuff with Sam Raimi in that
movie, especially when he was running down the road
with the bum leg, the way he hammed it up was great.
Thanks again for making these available, Josh. I'll
be ordering the remainder of them soon. I feel inspired
to pull out my 30 page short script that I\'ve been
sitting on for about a year now and finally shooting
I'm glad the DVDs arrived safely. Yes, I
have very much the same feeling about "Stryker's
War" compared with TSNKE. Also, I was highly
inspired when I made "Stryker's War," whereas
TSNKE was made out of sheer desperation, and there is
a difference. Regarding permission, no, we never
got permission to shoot anywhere. The finale of
"Holding It" was shot at Cranbrook, the beautiful
school right near here, where parts of "Acting
& Reacting" were shot, too. Meanwhile,
I think Sam's very good in both of those movies, and
all of the other movies as well. I saw Bruce
not too long ago--he was on his way down to Miami to
start shooting season 4 of "Burn Notice"--and
I think he's still a tad miffed that he didn't get to
star in TSNKE. He seems to seriously want to remake
the film again.
I'm a longtime fan of your films and a longtime reader
of the always insightful (and often colorful) Ask The
Director column, though this is my first time writitng
in. One could consider it a shameless plug, but my production
team and I just launched a new web show called "Cinema
Cool" that we think you and your readership might
get a kick out of. Pure and simple: we consider it a
fun web show for those who think movies matter. Our
website is: www.cinemacoolshow.com
It's hardly highbrow stuff (our first episode is on
Charles Bronson who, based on recent posts, I know you're
a fan of) and I'd love to hear your thoughts. Thanks
Go ahead, make a shameless plug. I personally
don't think that Bronson's best moments are just shooting
people or beating them up, I think he was a good actor
and he had a lot of great line deliveries and reaction
shots. Calling "10 to Midnight" a "classic"
is certainly stretching things. Good luck with
Name: Rob Mclaine
Hi there Josh,
Rob here from the BookOfTheDead.ws website, Hope you
are well? I just spotted that you were selling a couple
of the super-8s you had restored, I guess you got tired
of waiting for synapse? Well at least selling them yourself,
you have complete control over how they're presented
& the selling price. I'll add a note & link
on your BOTD.ws interview page about this page, and
add the information to the Super-8 shorts sections too.
How much would you charge for the Strykers War &
Blind Waiter/Holding It DVDs including shipping to England
I'll have to check and get back to you. Thanks
for including the link. I've had more of the super-8
films transferred, and those will be available, too,
very soon. They include: "The Final Round"
and "Acting & Reacting," both with Bruce
and Sam, "The Case of the Topanga Pearl,"
the first film I made with Sam, Scott Spiegel and Ellen
Sandwiess in her first film role, a new transfer of
"Cleveland Smith," my very first film, "Public
Enemy Revisited," and "Super Student,"
the smash success of 9th grade that I finally got from
my former social studies teacher.
EDIT: It's $12.78 U.S. postage. So the total
would be $52.78 U.S.
I'd like to place an order for the Stryker's War DVD-R
and the Blind Water/Holding It DVD-R. Do you only accept
the two payment methods above or do you also accept
Paypal? If you don't accept the latter, I'll mail a
money order off for the total. Will it be $43 or $46?
It doesn't really specify if there is combined shipping.
Also, I'd like them signed. This is an awesome opportunity,
thanks for making it available.
You're the first customer. Thanks. Those
are very reasonable questions you've posed. It's
$3 for shipping on any DVD order, and $5 for the books.
Therefore, your order is $43. I'm not going to
do PayPal, but I can take credit cards if one cares to
give me all the necessary info.
Name: Ray C
Thank you for the response. Perhaps the movie was not
your type of thing - not everything is made for everybody.
I certainly believe it was the strongest of the year,
too. What other films did you enjoy in 2009, just curious?
I'm asking because there was not many that I liked,
or that were particularly good.
I thought "Precious" was rather audacious
and it moved me by the end. I don't know that
I'd go so far as to say it's a good movie, but I was
interested and everyone in it was good. Nothing
in "Avatar" made any sense, and I really hated
Act III with the miltary blowing everything up, but
I enjoyed being on Pandora in 3-D with the blue monkeys.
I enjoyed the Julia Child half of "Julie and Julia,"
and Meryl Streep was, as always, terrific. The
Julie half, with Amy Adams blogging, cooking and
crying, was sort of miserable. From what I saw
it was a ridiculously weak year for movies.
I did just see a very interesting, and exceptionally
well-made documentary, called "Let's Get Lost"
by Bruce Weber. It's about the great jazz trumpeter
Chet Baker, made in 1987 a year before he died.
Aside from the fact that Chet Baker is a fascinating
subject, the film is cinematically gorgeous, which is
incredibly unique in a documentary. It's terrifically
well-shot in black and white and Weber, who's a famous
photographer, is really paying attention to how it looks.
Bruce Weber made another documentary called "Broken
Noses" that was also kind of exceptional, and beautifully
shot in black and white.
Name: Ray C
You don't have to be an Iraq vet to "get"
the movie by any means. It's just that I've been there
and I am trying to tell you that it conveys enough realism
to be believable. That's all. Just because the film
is realistic does not make it good - the performances
and the tension is what makes it good in my book. I
just think the bits of realism are a nice touch. The
characters all have an arc - because of the episodic
nature of the narrative, the movie focuses on these
three Soldiers days and how they cope with what comes
their way. All three of them are defined because of
their job - the three Soldiers are much different from
each other. Jeremy Renner is very on the spot - his
performance relies on impulse, largely spur on the moment.
Through failure and success, he does his job. Like I
said earlier, the repetitiveness is part of the point.
As a writer, let me ask you a question. Does it make
a bad drama if the lead character does not go through
a transformation? Is it absolutely necessary? Or is
it not with every circumstance? Since you seem to have
a major problem with the lack of an "arc",
I am curious. But in the case of THE HURT LOCKER, I
will have to disagree. James acquires a self-awareness
during the tour like many Soldiers do when they are
overseas: going from not knowing at all why he does
what he does, to understanding that "why"
he needs to feel alive, to constantly be in a heroic
situation and dangerous environment suitable for a man
and his inner conflict. When he spoke to his baby at
the end of the movie, he acknowledges wholeheartedly
that he IS aware of his flaws. He IS aware of his inner
need to be elsewhere - yet he makes no effort to meet
his fears. It goes nicely with the "We are all
a coward for something" dialogue and it wonderfully
contrasts with Sgt Sanborne's choice to overcome his
fear on starting a family finally and James' addiction
to the adrenaline rush of war, etc. Like I said, I did
notice the documentary approach to filmmaking. But it
did NOT bother me, and that's not because I liked the
film a lot. It's because it is not too blatant like
most filmmakers do. These zoom in shots you are alluding
to seem intentional to me - so whether you like them
or not, they serve as a raw, documentary approach to
the setting. I actually thought the Barry Ackroyd cinematography
was solid - it gave the movie an immediacy and energy.
Sorry you didn't like it. Like I said, not a "perfect
movie" and certainly has flaws and takes some liberties,
but I really appreciated the way it brings to light
things we haven't seen before in a war movie.
You're so damned reasonable, and your points all
seem so logical, I'll simply have to see it again and
reassess. Perhaps I didn't give the film
its due, it's certainly possible. As I said from
the beginning, I'll give it best picture of 2009 of
what I saw.
Name: Ray C
You say it's dull, which I disagree with: there are
a lot of thrilling set-pieces that generate tension
and suspense effectively. Again, the film follows a
very simple structure, which you call repetitive - yet,
it is exactly how Iraq is like. I am saying this since
I was there and days that go by are the same and this
makes for a dull movie for you. For me, it's honest
and realistic. I guess, to each his own, right? I'm
not sure how much more characterization you hoped for
because all three of the characters in the EOD squad
felt real and defined. Perhaps the character Jeremy
Renner plays DID go through a transformation, as seen
in the sequence where he goes back home and he cannot
function. He needs to be back at war, doing his job
because he is built for it psychologically. That is
why he gave an excellent performance because he was
a realized character, emotionally and psychologically.
I don't know where you get the "robot" because
I have worked with EOD and what they do in the movie
is very similar to what they do in reality. Besides
some liberties that were taken, the movie is not very
far-fetched. And I was so engaged in the movie, I didn't
even notice the handheld cam. I did notice it was shooting
for a fly-on-the-wall documentary approach and I think
it did a fine job without being too showy and shaky.
But like I said, I don't think THE HURT LOCKER is a
perfect movie. It was one of the best of the year, but
to be honest, there were barely any good movies released.
Out of all of the other movies nominated, it was certainly
the strongest. I think it spoke volumes about humans
adapting to and being stuck in the clutches of danger
and violence. These primal urges of human behavior are
what make Jeremy Renner's character so fascinating.
Like you say, to each his own. I found nothing
fascinating about it, and I could have easily stopped
watching halfway through. Look, if you have to
be an Iraq war veteran to get this movie, then it completely
failed. And just being realistic doesn't necessarily
make it interesting. Nor is it a character arc
if the character spends two minutes right near the end
aggravated by being home, then goes back to war.
Seriously, if you didn't notice the shaky, bouncy,
annoying camerawork, with little pointless snap-zooms
all over the place, then you weren't paying attention.
Dear Josh Becker:
I do not know if it was intentional or not as I am
not yet too familiar with your writing style, tone and
system of beliefs, but I found your Oscar appraisal
to be offensive. I am a strong proponent of the 1st
Amendment to the United States Constitution so I in
no way intend to infringe upon your natural born right
to free speech and I do not yet feel it necessary to
forward your comments to my friends. I would like to
hear you out first and give you an opportunity to reply.
I assume (and hope) you were just making an attempt
at humor when you trashed Neil Patrick Harris, the dance
performance, and other aspects of the show, but nonetheless
there is a clear homophobia on display in your writings.
I am sure you are a decent, fair-thinking man, I would
just like to confirm this. Please respond in kind.
Homophobia? For trashing the Oscars? I
truly have no idea what you're talking about.
I didn't watch the Oscars this year cos I'm just
really depressed with the state of cinema at the moment.
WHat I did watcv was a little of the 'clue-less reporter
interviewing stars on the red carpet' on Sky and BBC
news. What struck me was how mealy mouthed ALL of the
stars were. When asked for an opinion, everyone sat
on the fence and gave politicians answers. Nobody wants
to upset anybody else. All these hotshots just came
across as... scared. Being diplomatic so they don't
blow their chances of getting a gig. Maybe Hollywood's
always been this way. It just struck me this year as
being very overt. Thems my two bits! Lee PS - Oh, I
caught a radio production of Of Mice and Men on the
radio last night. What a wonderful story. One of your
contributors said people in his class don't like it,
and couldn't articulate WHY they didn't like it. That's
sad. I've just moved into education, (being a stand
in teacher for 14 to 16 year old here in the UK), and
the lack of passion, the amount of disrespect and interest
in literature... it's depressing. A lot of teachers
say kids attitudes have changed - for the worse. Having
said that, the school's just put on a great stage show
of Boogie Nights (a very commited teacher has driven
the show for months, now). Oh, I don't know about the
kids. Maybe the majority of teenagers of this age have
always been anti-social. But I sense something's in
the air; a lack of critical thinking, at school, and
on our cinema screens.
I definitely feel it. This is a glum, depressing
time and our art shows it. Catering to children
is a bad idea in the first place, and assuming that
kids only want stupid bullshit so that's all they get
is also a bad idea. Kids need to be pushed a bit
into appreciating better stuff, because on their own
they'll pretty much only choose drivel. HBO's
recent film, "Temple Grandin," which is a
true story, has a provocative point (HBO really does
make the best movies these days). Temple Grandin
is a girl in the 1960s with autism. She doesn't
fit in at high school and doesn't want to go, but her
mother makes her. She doesn't want to visit her
aunt who has a cattle ranch, but her mother makes her,
and spending time with cattle changes her life.
She doesn't want to go to college, but her mother makes
her, and she ends up not only graduating, but getting
doctorate degree. She also redesigned cattle pens in
a such a way that this is now the standard design used
worldwide. At the end--Spolier Alert--she attends
an autism convention and all of these mothers of
autistic children keep saying that they don't force
their kids to do anything. Temple stands up and,
as the world's foremost expert at designing cattle pens,
as well as the holder a doctorate degree, says that
she completely disagrees with the mothers. Had
she not been forced into almost everything she wouldn't
have accomplished anything. The point being, if
you just give kids what they want, you're not challenging
them, and if you're not challenging them they will probably
not rise to a higher level. Kids will absolutely
sit through and digest more challenging movies if they're shown
to them, and I have no doubt a kid will get a lot
more out of "To Kill a Mockingbird" than they
will out of "Transformers" or "X-Men."
Apparently, nobody has any faith in kids these days
that they have it in them to step up to a challenge,
and therefore they are pandered to. And when a
society lets something as important as their art become
drivel, it's a sure sign of a failing society.
I know just what you mean about The Hurt Locker. I'm
on the same page as you. I mean, at the time I saw it
I really, really liked it. But in retrospect, I mean...really?
Come on, really? 2010 was a pretty bad year. I mean
there were some movies I thought were pretty good but
all-and-all I was not impressed. You know? And 10 nominees
for Best Picture? They shouldn't have had any. That
would have been really really fucking funny. But who
knows. It's just Hollywood being Hollywood. Why does
Hollywood always have to pat itself on the back? You
know? I mean I am really really sick of some of the
bullshit I see at the Oscars every year. And what's
the point of having an Oscars if the Golden Globes come
the month before and all the same stuff wins? You know?
I'm actually a really big fan of James Macavoy and I
was disappointed he didn't get nominated this year because
I think he is really good. I mean REALLY good, like
the next best thing. While story hasn't improved in
the last several years at least acting has. I think
some of the actors of today are the best we've ever
Sorry, I don't buy that acting and actors are better
than ever. There are some good actors, for sure,
but there aren't very many strong personalities, or
real movie stars. If you're looking for a strong
male lead, who have you got? Russell Crowe
and George Clooney. Who's stepped up to replace
Robert Mitchum, Gregory Peck, Charlton Heston, Kirk
Douglas, Clark Gable, Humphrey Bogart Spencer Tracy
or James Cagney? All of these overgrown boys they
cast in the leads now do very little for me. James
Macavoy is a fine actor, he's just not much of a presence.
Name: Ray C
I see your opinion on THE HURT LOCKER, which I very
respectfully disagree with. You say it's a war movie
that says nothing about war. This is completely and
absolutely untrue. As a Soldier, the movie speaks to
the absolute extreme in which men will go. The movie
starts with a quote that says, "War is a drug".
This addiction is what fuels the main character, played
by Jeremy Renner (who was terrific) - and it doesn't
say that drugs = bad, as in war = bad. There are drugs
that can help people (insulin, etc) and the drug that
Jeremy Renner's character is addicted to is not merely
"war" but saving people, doing his job, etc.
Some men/women do it because it's their duty whether
they like it or not. Some DO like it, some just want
the extra money, etc. I think THE HURT LOCKER is a strong
film - honestly, it IS far from perfect. And as a Soldier,
I can name a few inconsistencies that I can name. For
one, the uniforms they were wearing at the time were
DCU's not ACU's which the movie portrays. There are
some other tidbits that bugged me. Especially the whole
idea of him leaving the post and coming back. I didn't
like that, but I can understand why it was on the movie
- to generate suspense, etc. THE HURT LOCKER depicts
Iraq as a goalless war that results in nothing meaningful.
This is not a hugely politicized film for a reason.
It's episodic for a reason, too. This approach rings
true because that's how Iraq/Afghanistan really is.
It's an important film that speaks on modern warfare
and the modern soldier. It brings to view a POV that
has never been shown yet. The story is told from the
Soldier's POV, not the Iraq's because that's the focus
of the movie. You say it's still endangering the lives
of Americans to defuse bombs. Of course - it's WAR.
Why are we there? Soldiers have no choice but to do
what they are ordered to do. It sounds as if you were
expecting a different movie, and your political views
clouded your judgement of it.
Everybody's view clouds their judgement. My issues
with the film are: I think it's dull, repetitive, poorly
photographed, has very little characterization,
and no character development, therefore, I don't
think it's a particularly good movie. OK,
war is a drug, or thrills are a drug. Uh-huh.
What else you got? He starts there and he ends
there. That's not good drama. And because
there's absolutely no character development, there's
no chance for Jeremy Renner to give a really good performance,
of which he may very well be capable. It's a one-note,
one-dimensional character. And I still contend
that had they not chosen the thrill-seeking, fear-is-a-drug
character, we'd have been watching a robot defuse the
bombs the whole movie. And I'll say it for the
thousandth time -- if I NEVER see another movie that's
entirely hand-held with long lenses, making it
bouncy and shaky and look like an ersatz documentary,
it'll too soon. In my opinion that's just thoughtless,
Are you friends with Bob Murowski? Just won the Oscar?
Thanked Sam Raimi? That was cool. Mentioned Roger Corman.
For the Oscars I thought that was really really cool.
I just met him tonight at the premiere of Duke Mitchell's
Gone with the Pope, which was filmed 35 years ago but
never seen till now. Murowski resurrected it and worked
on it for 15 years. It was really good. They showed
it paired with Mitchell's other film Massacre Mafia
Style. Have you seen it? Really REALLY good. Awesome.
I loved it. Bob must be a cool guy. Have you met him?
He\'s the real deal. Even if you didn't like Hurt Locker
you've gotta admit it was a hell of an editing job.
I thought at least that part was really great.
I've met Bob any number of times over the years, although
I don't really know him. He's a very friendly,
nice guy, and a good editor. He's cut most of
Sam's films in the past 20 years. I have not seen
the film you mentioned. Meanwhile, I admit nothing
regarding "Hurt Locker." Yes, it's cut
together, but it's such sloppy, haphazard footage
that the editing didn't impress me. If you give
Bob better material he can certainly edit it in
an impressive fashion, but he can only cut what he's
given. Look, "Hurt Locker" may very
well be the best film of 2009, but that doesn't make
it a good movie. It's a war film that says nothing
about war. Yes, they simply do the job they're
ordered to do, but it's still endangering the lives
of Americans to defuse bombs set by Iraqis to blow up
Iraqis. No matter how hard you try to ignore it
there's still a bigger issue sitting on top of the whole
thing -- why are we there? Had there been a better
screenplay it might have been used as a metaphor for
the whole situation.
And while we're on the subject, I thought the
actual Oscar telecast was TERRIBLE! The folks
who put that show on have absolutely no clue what they're
doing. What was that pathetic opening number with
Neil Patrick Harris? A bad song poorly staged
to set up the fact that Steve Martin is going to have
a sidekick he totally doesn't need. Utterly useless,
and a waste of time that came back to bite them on the
ass at the end when they had no time left to give Best
Picture. And an awful eight minute break
dance number set to the best score nominees? Absolute
garbage and a total waste of time. It was great
honoring horror movies, but the montage was twice as
long as it needed to be. And having a live performer
during the memorial montage is a mistake, not to mention
they forgot Farrah Fawcett and Gene Barry. But
they start off in a wide shot to include James Taylor
(whom I like very much), and you miss the names of the
first five people on screen. I don't need to hear
James Taylor or anyone else performing during this serious,
moving homage -- just show me the clips!
And to not let Lauren Bacall or Roger Corman speak was
a crime. The Oscars are the oldest and most important
of all the silly award shows and need to be handled
with a bit of gravity -- not a lot, but some.
It's not a fucking variety show!
Name: Jim Nelson
Just a movie goer here, Antiochian, & 25 year senior
corporation executive (with a soul). I agree the films
these days are gawd aweful. I too am convinced that
the studios are as cynical, callous and incompetent
as you say. I also think there has to be a solution.
If you want to find a disruptive solution I would be
happy to see if we can come up with a few. I am a bit
of a genius at times. And I get royally pissed of at
the number of times I have taken my wife to the movies
over the past 26 years and left feeling both insulted
and ripped off. If you want some brainstorming help
to try to come up with a way to bury the bastards...I'm
You want to "bury the bastards," come up
with some money to finance one of my movies. You
can't stop them, but you can try to be better.
Did you know that essayscentre.com rendered scholars
with the amazing descriptive essay topics just about
this good topic. But your idea could remain at the peak
point of students’ evaluation.
I don't know what this means, and it's a dead link.
Ok, seriously Nancy? What ever your problem is with
me needs to move off of Becker's website. I'm easy to
find. Facebook me. I'm the only Jeremy Milks in Iowa.
If you want my phone number, I'm happy to give that
to ya too. I'll text battle ya. I'll even talk to you
as if you were a human being. Or at least email me (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Please leave the email in, Josh, I can deal with getting
spammed. I really don't mind if you don't like me. That's
fine. I didn't do anything to you, but that's cool all
the same. What I don't find cool is you assuming you
know how I think and making a mockery of my taste in
film. Attack my character all you want, but don't attack
my taste. Josh, Can you follow this logic, first she
says you've corrupted me, and then she says that I probably
think Up In the Air is the best movie of the decade
and that The Dark Knight is better than Citizen Kane
and that Reitman is on the same level as Kubrick. If
you had corrupted me, wouldn't it stand to reason that
I would by no means feel that way? I apologize for her
keeping at me on your site. I don't know where this
vendetta of her's came from. And for the record, Citizen
Kane is better than the Dark Knight. Jason Reitman,
while I like him, is no Kubrick and never will be. And
I don't know for sure what the best film of the decade
is, but I doubt it's Up In The Air. Sorry again.
I'll post this (or Kevin will) and that's all I want
to hear about it. It's certainly not your fault,
which is why you get the last word, but I can't read
one more word by this Nancy idiot.
He's always butting in where he's not wanted! For years!
I feel like I can't win here. I ask you a reasonable
question and once again you'd rather turn it around
on me and not bother answering. My message to Milks
was an aside and frankly none of your business.
None of my business? On my website? On
my Q&A? Obviously you're just an idiot, and
I've wasted more time on you than I should have.
Do me and everyone else a favor and don't come here
I was disturbed to learn recently that Variety was
laying off Todd McCarthy, who I consider to be one of
the best practicing critics. Whenever I survey Rotten
Tomatoes it saddens me to see the influx of new/young
on-line reporters weighing in, all trying to be clever
and needlessly caustic or retardedly enthusiastic (calling
Up in the Air the best movie of the decade and Dark
Knight the best movie ever made). It's the equivalent
to most news these days being all about sensationalism
and sound bytes as opposed to telling people things
they really need to hear. What do you think about the
current state of film criticism? And while I'm sure
Milks would agree that Up in the Air is the best movie
of the decade, that Jason Reitman is a genius on the
level of Kubrick, and that The Dark Knight kicks Citizen
Kane's black and white ass, I have no interest in what
he has to say on the subject.
You actually came off as a rational person for three-quarters
of this email, then you reverted back to being the creepy
ignorant bitch you obviously are. You may not
care what Jeremy thinks, but I certainly don't care
what you think.
Did you see V for Vendetta? If so, did you like it?
Nope, didn't see it. That's one of those comic
book things, right?
Thanks for your comment. I actually haven't seen Avatar
yet. Anyways I did end going to the Oscar thing but
left early. When I got home I caught Tom "Americas
Historian" Hanks introducing the best picture.
He mentioned that the last time the Oscars had ten nominees
was in 1943. So for research and comparission purposes,
here are those 10 nominees from 1943. I think the reason
there were ten this year was for the purpose of target
market diversity. 1943 Oscar Nominations Casablanca
(Warner Bros.) *Winner* For Whom the Bell Tolls (Paramount)
Heaven Can Wait (Twentieth Century-Fox) The Human Comedy
(MGM) In Which We Serve (Two Cities; United Artists)
Madame Curie (MGM) The More the Merrier (Columbia) The
Ox-Bow Incident (Twentieth Century-Fox) The Song of
Bernadette (Twentieth Century-Fox) Watch on the Rhine
When the Oscars started in 1927-28 there were five
nominees for Best Picture. In 1933 is switched
to ten nominees and stayed that way for a decade until
1943, arguably Hollywood's golden age, then switched
back to five and stayed that way for for 67 years!
Now we're back to ten. Maybe it will bring on
the next golden age. We can only hope.
Sorry about that. When I asked the most recent post
was the three People talking about "Up in the Air",
so both Oscar questions must have been sent around the
same time. Also, I have recently discovered that there
is no hope for my Generation in terms of knowing a good
Story when it hits them in the face, since we are doing
"Of Mice and Men" in High School English and
even the A-Grade Students (I'm B/C-Grade) found it boring
and were unable to identify any Themes (I was, by the
way.) Meanwhile one of my Friends from the top English
Class didn't like it because she finds Lennie "annoying".
It constantly surprises me how forgiving most people
are for getting crappy stories in the movies they see,
but won't forgive cheap special effects or continuity
flaws. I just watched the 1939 version of "Of
Mice and Men," which I haven't seen in a long time,
and it's pretty good. Burgess Meredith and Long
Chaney, jr. are perfect casting and Aaron Copeland's
score is terrific. Lewis Milestone did a nice
job directing. If I recall correctly, most
everyone liked "Of Mice and Men" when we read
it in school, it's a moving, short little book.
To Nancy –
I didn't come to brag, I came to thank a man who was
at least partially responsible. Would you hate me any
less if I told you I like "Up In the Air"
quite a bit and want it to win Best Picture and every
other award it's up for? Because I do. Just because
Becker has been helpful doesn't mean I'm a carbon copy
of him. I respect his opinions, but I don't always agree.
I'm not a drone. Josh and I have disagreed countless
time on what makes a good story, but structure is something
we've always tended to agree on, and that's what his
site has helped me with greatly. Sorry if that bothers
To Josh –
I don't know if Up In Air is 100% believable but I
could sort of see Clooney's point of view in the story,
so that's why I bought into it. I thought it was really
good movie, though there were parts that I didn't care
that much about. I just could identify with some of
the loneliness themes of it. Also, do you have any idea
what I did to piss Nancy off? lol. Instead of badmouthing
me on here, I do post my email address. She's aloud
to write me.
I've been deleting everyone's email addresses for a
while to stop everybody from getting spammed.
Meanwhile, if anyone should not be accused of sucking
up to me it's you. You've given me as much shit
as anyone who ever came here. I suggest that you
don't take Nancy's comments seriously because I
certainly don't. I'm happy to provide a forum
where people can vent their spleens. You
like "Up In the Air"? Good for you.
I'm here at the Darkwoods Con in Pikeville, Kentucky,
and I assure you that most of the folks here don't agree
with my opinions. In fact, I have, for the most
part, kept my opinions to myself, as I've sat listening
to people discuss the merits for "Friday the 13th"
sequels. Once again, congrats on getting a real
gig. Write them a great script.
You're the only one in my life who calls me an ignorant
bitch. You've been on my case ever since I started writing
in to you and I don't think you ever gave me a fair
shake. Now I've just switched tactics so I'm no longer
put in the position of being the victim, you the all-mighty.
I'm not a 'yes-sir' kinda gal, which you seem to be
a fan of, I actually speak my mind. You think I'm an
ignorant bitch? I think you can be cruel and heartless
sometime. And I think like Rush Limbaugh you've spent
far too much time hiding behind the microphone with
your fingers on the controls. You've started to buy
into your own bullshit. And it saddens me. When I think
of how you used to be...so encouraging, so generous,
so passionate, so lovely. Now I don't know. I think
you like being mean because you can. Or maybe your heart's
so callused you don't even realize it anymore. Either
way, I'm sorry I disrupted the flow of Ask The Director.
It wasn't my intention.
A very thoughtful response. I'm impressed.
You may not realize it but you came into this discussion
in a very aggressive manner from the outset
and I was just responding in kind. I state my
opinion and you can agree or disagree, but if you attack
me personally, all bets are off. That's how I
play the game. I'm more than happy to have you
as part of the discussion, but if you think that my
opinion of a movie gives you the right to insult me,
you're wrong. Nevertheless, I suspect there's
a decent, intelligent person lurking beneath your aggressive
Barry Norman, a Veteran Film Critic in the TV Guide
I Read over here in Britain, made comparisons between
Braveheart and Avatar this week. On a joky note the
fact that both are about Giant Smurfs defending their
beloved homeland against an occupying force, but his
main point was that both got the Best Picture Oscar
(yes, I know the Oscars haven't happened yet but let's
face it as soon as it became the Highest-Grossing Film
ever that Oscar - and most of the others for that matter
- were in the bag) yet neither were/have been Nominated
for Best Screenplay, and that if the Screenplay isn't
worthy of an Award, then why the Film? It's an interesting
point and wondered what your view on it is. Also, are
you a fan of South Park? I don't always agree with their
Libertarian Ideology (I tend to think of Centre-Wing
Politics as being like Agnosticism - to Quote Graham
Chapman: "There's really nothing an Agnostic can't
do if he really doesn't know whether he believes in
anything or not",) but it's still one of the best
Shows on TV at the moment, and one of the main reasons
for my being eternally grateful for the existence of
Comedy Central UK (that and the thrice-daily Reruns
of Frasier and Two and a Half Men).
I just answered this one.
I first of all I would like to thank you for being
so direct about everything no matter what people say.
Secondly I came across this anti Oscar rant which made
me think of your style (it also has a link to a great
anti QT rant ) http://somecountryforoldmen.com/2010/02/03/the-definitive-article-about-why-the-oscars-suck/
I am invited to a friends Oscar night oscar party, but
have declined since I would rather watch dirt grow than
4 hours of bad production numbers, lame jokes, and excessive
self congratulation. I am rooting for Avatar just because
of those poor peace loving blue aliens.
"Avatar" put the asses in the seats, and
is a spectacle along the lines of a Cecil B. DeMille
film, like "The Greatest Show on Earth," which
won best Picture, so it'll get Best Picture, too.
Fine. The 3-D was spectacular and I'd never seen
anything like it. The script makes almost no sense
at all, and everything with the military was painful,
but it achieved it's goal -- it sold tickets.
I have no issue with that. Personally, I haven't
given a crap about the Oscars in 20 years.
Re: Up In The Air Let me say up front that you should
know I often respect and praise your opinions on cinema
and storytelling. But clearly you've never really worked
in a corporate office. There absolutely are companies
whose purpose is to fire people for employers -- they're
called consulting firms. One of the most dreaded phrases
amongst office drones is "they're bringing in the
consultants," because it usually precedes a big
round of layoffs. While it's a little rare for consultants
to do the direct firing themselves (their job is usually
just doing the math on who gets canned and how to compensate
them), there are specialty firms that do offer that
service for especially cowardly HR executives. And,
let's face it, most executives are a cowardly and superstitious
lot. While something of an exaggeration, Up In The Air
paints the corporate world pretty accurately. Take it
from someone who was practically raised in a cubicle
-- corporations are held together by wasteful practices
and people with bizarre priorities. My mom was in middle-management
for most of my formative years, and while she may not
have been as fond of the constant travel, most of her
coworkers (especially those who planned the events that
required her travel) almost certainly were. Executives
working in the same office as her would would have her
fly out with them to glamorous locales like Des Moines
and St. Paul simply to hold project conferences. Because,
as Clooney's character states in the movie, it means
you pay for nothing out of your own pocket. Everything
goes on expense accounts and reimbursements. You book
yourself on a cushy airline with an in-flight meal of
chicken a la king and mojitos, get a hotel room with
a pool and free HBO, dine out at some nice restaurants,
and maybe see a movie or a show; and, so long as you
save your receipts, all it cost you was a few hours
listening to someone talk about quarterly projections.
The company picks up the tab on everything. (Or, at
least they did in the days before the economic meltdown
and the collapse of the credit markets.) As for Clooney's
character taking the girl out on the job with him, it's
not as far-fetched as you might think. As they show
in the movie, she's devised the means to conduct layoffs
via teleconferencing, but she has little or no grasp
of the method with which to do it. Management-based
consulting firms live and die by their methodologies
- the research and projections that they believe can
predict the behavior of the marketplace, consumer demand,
technological advances, and what you and I will have
for breakfast. This is the product they sell to the
companies that hire them: "We know what you only
wish you could know." Taking the girl under his
wing, while a standard trope of "Master and Apprentice"
character dynamics meant to serve the story, allows
her to watch Clooney's character as he utilizes those
strategies - stick to the right verbiage, keep the conversation
focused on a positive target, and allot time for any
unpredictable or uncooperative behavior. By the third
act, the movie shows that she's adapted those methods
to the teleconferencing center protocols. I'll give
you that the film isn't really "Best Picture"
material, even while I found it to be enjoyable and
solidly crafted. No one expects it to win anyway. But
that's what you get when they bloat the category to
fit ten damn movies in a year when there were only a
small handful that were any good. And as unfit nominees
go, its selection isn't nearly as egregious as that
godawful "The Blind Side" pablum getting nods
for Best Picture and Actress (Sandra Bullock, oy). I'm
not expecting this whole overlong rebuttal to change
your mind. After all, I've been reading the Q&A
for too many years to labor under any delusions of your
opinions being, let's say, "flexible." But
I felt it was only fair to set the record straight about
some of the conceptions you had of the film's realism.
Right now I'm making my living from writing and reporting
on the inner workings and corporate cultures of consultancies
and law firms and so on, and Up In The Air honestly
didn't stray far from the mark in those respects. -
I'll back off of Milks and his usual bullshit for the
time being. And I'll try my hardest not to be profane
or needlessly inflammatory. But you don't like Up
in the Air because...you don't buy that someone
could like travelling? Someone with no life who throws
themselves into their work? You don't buy that? I'm
not even going to address the rest of your complaints,
it's not worth it, this one is so ridiculous it's laughable.
First of all--completely realistic. Sorry. I know a
couple people who would love to travel first class around
the country all the live long day. Second of all--even
if it wasn't "realistic" you're full of shit
when you thumb your nose up at something that is no
more guilty than damn near everything else. What movies
do you like? Let me check your favorites. Ah--The Adventures
of Robin Hood. Very realistic. Airplane! Yup.
With you there. Alien...hmm, see, there's where we differ
because I didn't like it because I didn't believe a
corporation would send such a big ship on a mission
with such a small crew. Didn't buy it. What else? Oh,
Aliens, I was with it until that part where the marines
get ambushed. Didn't buy it. Marines would never walk
into such a trap! What else? All
of Me? Gag me. What else? Altered
States? The part where the scientist turned into
a monkey man was clearly a sign that Paddy Chyefsky
did some serious research while writing the script.
Maybe that's why he took his name off. I can go on and
on. Andy Warhole's Bad is one of your favorite movies?
I hope when Jason Reitman
wins his Oscar on Sunday
he thanks you, Josh, for paying to go see his film.
Your recap of Up in Air. Best review of a movie this
year. You pretty much hit the nail on the head with
everything. It is strange, cause this movie is getting
a ton of attention for the script. I didn’t hate
the movie, but just felt nothing for anything or anyone
in it. It reminded me of the movie Lost
in Translation. Another film that got tons of
hype for the writing, but was a pretty weak script.
Dear Calvin, Nancy, and JJ:
Here we have three different responses to my little
review of "Up In the Air." Calvin, who
has clearly lived through similar circumstances, disputes
my accuracy, which I think is perfectly valid.
As you say, it didn't change my opinion of the film,
but it did give me something to think about. I
still don't think there's anybody who wants to travel
340 days a year, even with an expense account.
Maybe 150 days, but not every day. And like you
say, the consultants don't actually fire the people,
they calculate the cost and savings and let HR do the
rest, certainly for the lower end employees. But
whether it's true or not, I didn't buy it. Something
I realized a long time ago, just because a story is
true doesn't mean it's believable (not that I accept
that this story is true or believable). Nevertheless,
Calvin's response is a thoughtful, intelligent, mature
response to a critique of a movie. JJ agrees with
me, so there's that side respresented. Then you
have Nancy. Her response was to a non-existent
review I didn't write that began with, "Nancy,
you ignorant bitch, here's why I didn't like 'Up In
the Air'..." Sadly for her, I'm sure that's
how she hears most everything in life -- "Nancy,
you ignorant bitch, want to go out for lunch?
Nancy, you ignorant bitch, what would you like for dinner?"
And then to back up her aggressive, idiotic response,
she brings up science fiction movies I liked as rebuttal?
Really? That's the best you can do? Nancy,
honey, you need to take a xanax and think a little bit
before you write down your simpleminded thoughts and
put them on the internet. We're discussing a movie,
not you. If your express purpose is to inform
the world you're a fool, you're doing an excellent job.
I got your books "Rushes" & "Going
Hollywood" - I was delighted at the references
to Rick. Did he ever tell you that I also hitch-hiked
to Alaska when I was 18? I wonder how many 18 year olds
did that in the 1970s? It still remains one of the great
adventures of my life. So, I read that part first -
your encounter with the wolf is HILARIOUS!! - I could
just picture it - really a big laugh!
You're the only other person I've heard of who hitchhiked
to Alaska at 18. No, Rick never told me you did
that. Years later I said to Rick, "Can you
believe that I hitchhiked to Alaska when I was 18?"
He replied, "Who but an 18-year-old would do such
a thing." I'm glad you got a laugh out of
What didn't you like about "Up in the Air?"
I found it pleasant enough. Certainly not a great movie,
but not bad. I liked that he did not end up with the
girl in the end, though I think a better ending would
have been being fired by the young girl he trained (perhaps
George Clooney's character flies 340 days a year and
likes it? Sorry, I don't believe it -- nobody
likes traveling that much. He works for a company
that fires people? Sorry, I don't believe it --
that's called Human Resources within each company.
The new cute 25-year-old comes up with the brilliant
idea of firing people by teleconferencing -- quick,
somebody give her a Nobel Prize. But before they
actually do that, she now has to travel around the country
with Clooney firing people? Why? The entire
middle of the movie is nothing more than stalling. Meanwhile,
he has to carry around a cardboard cut-out of his sister
and her fiance and hold it up in front of anonymous
buildings in every city he goes to and photograph it?
Useless dull nonsense. Then his sister gets married
but her fiance has cold feet -- characters I don't know
and don't care about, but I'm supposed to think they're
cute because they're from somewhere in the hinterlands?
More uninteresting nonsense. He has an affair
with a jet-setter gal whom he sees every now and then
in airports, who's barely a character, but oh my god,
she's married. Clooney is crushed and no longer
gets to travel 340 days a year. The end.
Other than George Clooney is kind of charming, I didn't
find anything to like in that film, not to mention it's
photographically ugly. A Best Picture nominee?
This is called scraping the bottom of the barrel.
867-5309! Ha!!!! Lol. For our anniversary last week
we saw the new Scorsese. It was awesomeness! The last
girl I dated never heard of Scorsese, she wanted to
see the new Ashton Kutchner "film"! Lol! It's
biggest plot twist involved crotch rot and a cat with
I'm glad you're so happy with your girl. Being
51 and single, I certainly haven't found a keeper yet,
and never one who wanted to watch Ingmar Bergman movies.
I somehow dragged my on-again off-again girlfriend to
the movies (we've seen two movies together in the previous
5 years), and at her suggestion we saw "Up in the
Air," then I had to pretend like I enjoyed it so
she wouldn't get mad at me.
Oh great--Milks is back again. This time to brag. Hey
Milks--get lost and stay that way this time. And Josh,
stop corrupting the next generation of filmmakers with
your indoctrinating. We need some originality right
now not write-by-numbers.
Let's try a metaphor. Do you believe that if
you know too much about music, like you could play several
instruments very well and were aware of all the great
music written, it would infringe on your creativity
and originality in writing music? Do you believe
that originality comes from a lack of knowledge?
Do think that Beethoven would have been a more original
composer if he didn't understand the construction and
structure of symphonies, concertos, fugues, etc.?
Sadly for you, only someone who has no clue what they're
talking about could think or suggest such a thing.
Hey. As of yesterday I was hired to write a screenplay
for a legit movie. It's really indie, so the pay isn't
up front, but it\'s a real movie with real working actors,
so it's a huge step up from where I was, so I'm happy.
I just wanted to thank you because your site has been
extremely helpful to me regarding how to write a screenplay,
and if I hadn't come here and bitched and moaned and
argued with you so much, I may have never learned how
to write a screenplay properly, so thank you.
Congratulations! If I provided any help or information,
it was my pleasure, bitching, moaning, arguing and all.
That really is the point of this website -- not arguing
about politics, religion, or other people's movies --
so I'm glad it was of some use. Now knock 'em
Has the Academy stated why they increased the number
of Best Picture nominees to ten? I assume it's b/c of
a slip in ratings in recent years. Also, has there ever
been more than one host before?
Yes, there's been multiple hosts a number of times.
They've had as many as six hosts.
I'm glad I am not the only person from a Jewish family
who realizes that HaShem is imaginary, and prayer is
one of the most bizarre, time wasting behaviors mankind
Do you know how I know my girlfriend Rebecca is a keeper?
On Friday night she asks me, "Do you want some
strawberries?" And I say yes and do you know what
she gives me? Wild Strawberries on DVD. Should I marry
her or what?
I've never had a girlfriend like that. What's
AMERICA. love it or leave it. you're close enough to
canada why don't you swim across the lake. don't drown
while you're at it. you calling glen beck a moron is
like a hunk of shit looking up at an asshole and saying
it's shitty. stick to what you know. old outdated movies
that no one likes but you.
Exactly. So, if you don't like the government
of the country you supposedly love, the one that was
elected by a majority, why don't you get the fuck out.
And take that blubbering idiot Glen Beck with you.
Anybody who feels that the biggest problem in America
is "progressiveisim," as Beck put it, has
the intelligence of a box of rocks. He and many
other conservatives clearly believe in "looking-backward-ism,"
which just couldn't be more foolish. And because
a piece of art isn't brand-new certainly doesn't make
it outdated. That too is simply a sign of idiocy.
I'm a little confused as to why somebody with a name
like Wyunn is writing in to you about MY post telling
you what I meant. Look, I liked Alien Apocalypse, alright?
I think it's really really good. I'm not saying it's
brilliant or Citizen Kane or something I'm just saying
for what it was it was good. Really good. And Bruce
Campbell especially. The guy is just fucking awesome.
So I just wanted to make that clear. Keep up the good
Thanks for the clarification, although I didn't feel
confused by your comments. Regarding Wyuun, I've
been attracting foolish people to this website for over
a decade, so there's nothing new about that. I
just say what I want and if others disagree they can
say what they want. The amusing, or perhaps sad,
part is that those who cannot form an intelligent opinion
attack me personally, which is a sure-fire sign of stupidity.
Here, I'll set them off once again. "Hurt
Locker" sucked. It's undoubtedly Katheryn
Bigelow's weakest direction yet, and I thought the whole
plot of having a character who gets off on fear was
a cheap way to get more action into the story.
In many of the cases of defusing bombs it should just
have been the robot, but that's not very exciting so
they had this moron character keep going in on his own.
When he decided to attack without waiting for the infantry
I was ready to bail. If that's the best film of
the year, it's been a REALLY bad year for movies.
"The Tenant" was made after "Chinatown"
(just before his arrest) and that's a great horror movie.
He was lined up to direct the disater screenplay "Hurricane"
before fleeing the US, so there's no great loss there,
but you've voiced your opinion of "Tess" here
before. All of his films since "Tess" are
visually cunning and skillful in terms of formal qualities
and performances, and his material's often in the right
place, but none of these films really come off. "Bitter
Moon" comes close, though. "The Ghost Writer"
is said to be his best in thirty years but I haven't
seen it yet - I am pleased they haven't removed his
name from the marketing just becuase of the arrest.
Of course, he's way past his prime but it's possible
he has a good or great film left in him. Most of these
silver age directors do - Lumet and Nichols have come
You're absolutely correct, "The Tenant" is
a great horror movie and Polanski's last really good
film. "Bitter Moon" was OK, but went
in one ear and out the other. For the most part,
though, once a director's great period is over -- if
indeed they ever had one -- it's over. Most never come
back. I think the reviews for "The Ghost
Writer" probably benefited from coming out at the
same time as "Shutter Island."
Which Kevin Smith films have you seen and what did
you think of them?
I walked out of "Clerks" and have not yet
made it through an entire Kevin Smith film. He
seems particularly untalented. Except at eating,
where he's clearly a champ.
Are so daft you can't tell that someone like SETH is
being ironic with his post? All the really, reallys
he threw in...he's yanking your chain, pal.
Really? Would you like to be my interpreter and
food taster? The job's open.
you really piss me off sometimes becker. the last several
posts are enough already. get off your high horse because
no one put you on a pedesil like some greek god. oh
yeah, but you don't believe in god do you? take your
socialized medicare and your president hussein and make
movies somewhere in south america.
And I so want to be on a pedesil. "Socialized
medicare," eh? I just love the conservative
perspective of "the government shouldn't be involved
with health care, but don't mess with my medicare,"
as though medicare comes from someplace other than the
government. It's like that world-class moron,
Glenn Beck, saying that he didn't need the government
to help him with his education because he learned for
free at the library. Meanwhile, if you're an American,
which is difficult to tell since English can't possibly
be your first language, "president hussein"
is your president, too, and if you don't like him I'm
sure you can find cheap housing these days in Chile
or Haiti. Adios.
Hearing conflicting comments on "Shutter Island",
but I still smell a stinker. Meanwhile, the new Polanski
film looks decent; when's the last time Polanski made
a good film?
It clearly depends on one's perspective because there
are certainly those folks out there who consider "The
Pianist" a good movie, although I don't number
myself among them. I'd say his last legitimately
good, and in this case great, film was "Chinatown."
Nothing since then has really caught my interest or
Thanks again for the Kalamazoo visit this evening.
I've just started trying to wrap my head around the
whole filmmaking process, and then I hear about your
appearance not one hour before you were scheduled to
start. (Or an hour and a half, depending on which itinerary
one chose to use, i suppose.) So. Impeccable timing.
It was reassuring and uplifting to discuss the craft
and the business with someone who\'s been doing it for
a while. Thanks again. Good to have met you.
Until Next Time,
It was my pleasure. I had a very good time and
Kalamazoo seems like a cool town.
I just saw Alien Apocolypse for the first time and
I was suprised. I thought it was really good. Like--really,
really good. Bruce Campbell is fucking good! I mean,
really, really fucking good. He's the real deal. The
whole movie was good. Really.
Well, I'm really, really pleased you liked it.
We had a good time making it.
You covered the Digital vs. Film issue very well and
I just wanted to add the link to both films I worked
on that you mentioned "Heaven is Waiting"
(Shot on RED) & "The Girl and The Spanish Boy"
(Shot on 35mm film), so everyone here can see the difference
between shooting film and shooting what has become a
very popular medium and camera RED. The interesting
thing about these two films is they are completely different
from each other in terms of story and style. Both films
were made by first time Directors and in the case of
"The Girl and The Spanish Boy", the Director
is also the lead actress. Cost was a big factor, but
it wasn't the only issue when it came to each of these
films and the choice to shoot one medium over the other,
it also had a good deal to do with the look that was
to be achieved AND how cost effective that look could
be achieved with each medium for each project. Both
film were shot in two days which is also an interesting
thing in of itself. The editing took a good month +
for both films and that is where everything really came
together for both films because they both have problems
with story. Here are the links: "Heaven is Waiting"
"The Girl and The Spanish Boy" http://vimeo.com/8716854
On thing I have to say about the RED Camera as opposed
to the other professional HD cameras out there is it
about as close as you can get to a "film"
style camera meaning that it is about as close as you
can get for a decent priced professional digital camera
to shooting with a film camera and it is affordable
to buy for people who are serious about making quality
Thanks for adding into the discussion. I think
the comparison between the two films is very interesting.
Have you read “The View from the Bridge”?
It’s a new memoir from writer/director Nicholas
Meyer and I highly recommend it. I don’t know
if you’ve enjoyed any of his films but his story
(moving out to Hollywood in the 70’s to try and
break into film), his love of movies and focus on writing
above directing reminded me of you. Personally, I feel
he also made the only Star Trek movie that could be
viewed as a good movie separate of all the Star Trek
baggage, but I’m not looking to get into the whole
sequels argument. I’m just about finished with
“Going Hollywood”, I’ll write back
with my impressions once I’m done.
I'm not looking to get into an argument about anything.
Meanwhile, the book sounds interesting, and I agree
with you, "The Wrath of Khan" is the best
of the Star Trek movies, although it's not as good as
the episode, "The Space Seed," that it's based
I see you have a few appearances scheduled throughout
the year. Any chance you'd be willing to make it down
to DragonCon it Atlanta in September if they invited
you? Or is that too far? I'd definitely be interested
in seeing some sort of panel or talk with you and they
do have a filmmaker track there.
I've contacted DragonCon and we'll see what they say.
Atlanta's not that far. And I'm sure if I go there
will be some sort of panel or Q&A or a screening
I agree, you did improve on Hitchcock's idea, mainly
by making the time that passes an integral part of the
story, and I just think "Running Time" is
a better film overall, or at least one that I enjoy
more. "The Bin" is not the name I gave it
when I suggested the idea. I wanted to call it the "Lost
& Found". The editor of the site came up with
"The Bin", which I assume refers to bins found
in DVD stores, where you can find half-forgotten gems,
or, and for the most part, half-forgotten crap. By the
way, I've read about Blu-Ray re-releases for both "Running
Time" and "Thou Shalt Not Kill... Except".
Any news on those?
The Blu-Ray transfer of TSNKE has been done and it
looks great. It's the best that movie has ever
looked, including the 35mm prints, which were never
framed quite right. I believe I'm going to show
this new transfer at the The Motor City Nightmares Weekend,
April 23-25. RT hasn't been done yet.
I just wanted to say I have read and enjoyed rushes
very much, particularly as a long time ago you wished
me luck with my first feature ( that has but five days
left to shoot ) and that meant a lot to me, as a fan
of your work. I loved hearing about the on set problems
( and by this I mean no disrespect ) because it made
me think, "wow, my problems weren't so bad",
which is not to say I handled my on set problems better
( in fact I handled them much worse than you ), but
that on certain projects you seemed to have a lot of
bad luck. It is good to know that somebody I respect
so much as a film-maker and film essayist, also has
shitty days too. Just wanted you to know, that your
writing does mean something to some people out there
( I am writing from London England ) and that I would
buy a copy of "If I had a hammer on DVD in a second",
I look forward to reading your new book whenever Amazon
get around to actually sending it. Oh and I am a big
wimp, because the story of your friend Rick's passing
brought a manly tear to my eye ( on a packed train no
less ). You are a teacher and share information from
a real life film making perspective, I am sure that
you could earn a lot with your knowledge teaching professionally
and it is good of you to share it with strangers for
very little cost. I guess I should ask some questions
instead of fawning with praise in such a sycophantic
fashion. Do you have any tips for dealing with "difficult"
actors throwing their weight around ? ( Especially in
week 3 when they know they can't be fired ) Anything
learned from the Anthony Quinn experience ? Why the
sudden warmth to digital ? Do you think it will become
the standard and is a necessary evil ? In your opinion
is film on its last legs ? ( I know we may be splitting
hairs, but even the new Red camera has a slightly "video
porn" look to me even under the best lighting ).
Do you think we will get to see another feature out
of you ? I would love to see the horribleness ( I read
the script and could easily bore you with a long diatribe
about it, in short Universal Monsters + Slapstick comedy
= Good times ). Take care of yourself, Sorry for the
long post, thought I would combat some of the negativity
with some thanks and praise.
Isn't it wonderful how art brings out such strong
emotions in people. It shows how necessary art
is to life. I was reading the NY Times' negative review
of "Shutter Island," then the reader's comments
below. The first three or four were in perfect
agreement with the reviewer. The next one was
like so many of the comments made here, not only filled
with animosity and vitriol, saying things like you guys
are idiots and have your heads up your asses, but then
basically going on to say (and I'm interpreting) , "I
know how to watch a movie and you don't. You think
too much. I just sit there and go for a ride and
whetever happens happens, and it's always great, and
that's the superior way to experience this artfrom called
movies. My way, not your way." What's
fascinating to me is this belief in some people that
a lack of knowledge and critical sensibility makes their
experience of this artform superior in some way.
That less knowledge equals more enjoyment.
Anyway, I'm so glad you enjoyed "Rushes,"
and possibly got something out of it. Good luck
with your last five days of shooting. I discussed
my one little trick with Quinn in "Rushes"
where I started with his close-up, got it right, then
backed up to the long shot and he was now compelled
to hit my mark or he'd have to reshoot the close-up.
With Stephen Baldwin, who wanted to go wherever he wanted
to go, I made it very clear on day #1 that the only
proper way to shoot a scene was my way, and if we weren't
shooting it my way I was just going to be unsatisified,
which might keep us there forever. By the end
of a shoot, if you haven't already exerted your will
you may be in trouble. I say, be firm.
Haven't posted for a while. Happy New Year! Do you
think digital technology is finally superceding film?
It seems to me that it's becoming more prevalent (especially
for special effects films). If one were shooting an
sfx novie I can see why digital woould win over emulsion
film. But for other movies? It seems convenience is
winning the day. When I shot my 16mm shorts on my Arri
BL, the results were amazing - and, unmistakabky, looked
like FILM! When digital finally does win, what will
we call films? Movies? Pictures? How about - THE LATEST
SHINY DISTRACTION?!? Anyway, just wondered where you
were on the film vs digital thang.
I think it depends on your budget and what kind of
movie your making (I've always liked the antiquated
term "movie," and it still applies whether
it's film or digital). If you're making an FX
film, digital makes more sense. Also, if you're
on a very limited budget then digital can make a lot
of sense, particularly if it's intended for television.
Given the coice, nine times out of ten I'd still shoot
film. My buddy Scott Pelzel just edited a short
film called "Heaven is Waiting" that was well-shot
with the Red camera, and he both shot and edited a film,
"The Girl and the Spanish Boy" (both films
are on Vimeo), on 35mm film. Guess what?
The movie shot on film looks A LOT better
than the one shot DV. Surprise, surprise.
Regarding digital technology superceding film, I believe
that one has nothing to do with the other. By
electrifying instruments, did it supercede the acoustic
instruments? I'm listening to a symphony by Hayden
right now. Could it be played on a synthesizer?
Of course. Would it be better? I doubt it,
but it would be different. If you shoot 35mm and
try to cut an image shot by a Red camera into it, you
have to degrade the hell out of it because it's too
sharp. They can keep making it sharper and sharper,
but that doesn't make it better, or even equivilant.
Wow, am I alone in thinking that "chowwwy"
should seek help? Anyway, I actually review films for
the site iratefilms.com,
and, on my suggestion, we started a section of the site
called "The Bin", where we review more obscure
films that we felt were overlooked and deserve more
attention. I wrote a review of "Running Time"
for this section, which you can find here: http://iratefilms.com/running-time/
Check it out and let me know what you think.
Thanks so much for the positive review. It's
not that "I believe" that all of the cuts
are invisible, I just did the best I could under the
circumstances having never done it before. Were
I to make the movie now, having already made it, I'd
do a much better job hiding the cuts. However,
and this is where people really jump down my throat,
I did do it better than Hitchcock did with "Rope,"
and a major reason for that is because I had "Rope"
to work from, whereas Hitchcock dreamt the idea up and
did the best he could under those circumstances.
There's a book of film reviews out there in the bookstores
that calls me an ass for thinking I possibly improved
an idea of Hitchcock's. Well, Hitchcock was the
innovator, I was simply trying to use an idea of his
and make it better than he used it, and I honestly believe
that I did by applying it to a time-related story, which
he didn't do. Is it not possible to take someone
else's good idea and improve on it? Or are we
in a time period where every idea simply must be worse
than when it was originated? Am I as good as Hitchcock?
No, and I never will be. But unlike the thousand
other Hitchcock rip-offs out there, I'd like to believe
that I didn't take an idea of his and make it worse.
Meanwhile, does "The Bin" stand for "has-bin"?
I'm a devoted Christian man who reads your site every
day. Despite the fact that we disagree on religion,
I respect your opinions and can looks past our differences
to enjoy your critiques and treatise on film. As a fellow
filmmaker, I'd like to say thanks--as well as link you
to a trailer for my new film, now out on DVD.
Yes, it's very possible to disagree with someone yet
still respect them, and show respect for them.
I appreciate that. Thank you. Good luck
with your movie.
Jesus Christ, Josh—
can you blame a girl for trying to help out? You know
what, you getting defensive about my advice (which my
husband thinks was GREAT advice) is another indication
as to why you never made it. You can't take a little
bit of healthy, constructive criticism. You should really
work on that though. Let's start now. For example, in
RUNNING TIME, you could have done with AT LEAST one
or two freakin' cuts. A whole movie shot in real time?
Bore v. to make a person
feel tired or uninterested by being dull or tedious.
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Regarding Frankenheimer, there's also Grand Prix and
the Inge scripted All Fall Down, both of which are very
I didn't care for either of them, although I do like
Saul Bass's split-screen work in "Grand Prix."
What? You didn't like Frankenheimer's "Prophecy"?
Just kidding. Changing the subject, I teach film and
English, and I'm a freelance writer. I was hired last
year to write a short (very short) history of cult films.
There were certain requirements regarding what films
I had to cover, but I did have some leeway on whom among
cult film directors I could give little sidebars to.
The book came out in America today (European edition
is already out, I think), and I managed to get a whole
paragraph about you in there. I hope I didn't misrepresent
you. Here's what's in the book, pages 66-67: "Josh
Becker is a classic Hollywood studio director stuck
in an underground cult film director's career. A true
anomaly among modern filmmakers in that he emphasizes
screenwriting over spectacle, he favors subtle irony
to blood and babes (although he has no problem having
all those elements). Becker's cult following is small
but devoted, and his films reward viewers with thoughtful,
funny stories. His cult hits include Thou Shalt Not
Kill...Except (1985), the charming and strange Lunatics:
A Love Story (1991), Running Time (1997), the criminally
unreleased If I Had a Hammer (2001), and the SciFi Channel's
highest rated original movie ever, Alien Apocalypse
(2003)." I imagine the books sales will number
in the dozens, and I hope they all check your work out.
Thanks so much for the nice description of me.
It certainly does sum me up in a succinct fashion.
I recently watched the movie "House of the devil"
by Ti West. It was a really great horror movie that
nailed the time period as much as it did the tension
required for a good horror film. It didn't depend on
bad gore and special effects. I would definitely suggest
this movie if you haven't seen it.
Thanks for the suggestion.
I just saw a documentary about Harlan Ellison called
"Dreams with Sharp Teeth" and it reminded
me a bit of reading your blog. Both you and Ellison
seem to have anger as default switch to most conflicts
and you both generally back up your anger with solid
intellectual justification, but angry responses just
breed more angry responses. Since much of your writing
seems to revolve around self examination, I wondered
how you see your personality-especially in terms of
anger. Damn, I sound like a social worker. Anyway, I
recommend you check out "Dreams with Sharp Teeth"
and feel free to respond to this email with "go
Not at all. I take it as a compliment to
be compared to Harlan Ellison because he's a personal
hero of mine. As he himself once said, "A
good writier should wake up every morning angry,"
and there's truth in that, not that I'm necessarily
a good writer. But if you're angry about things,
then you care, and you may even make an effort to change
things, or at least write about that which angers you and
expose it. Anger at apathy and phony altruism
inspired me to write and make "If I Had
a Hammer," for whatever that's worth. Oh,
I did see "Dreams With Sharp Teeth" and totally
I listened to your webradio interview. I thought you
came off well. I really appreciated your concluding
statements about the nobility of storytelling, and the
nobility of storytelling AS entertainment (rather than
JUST entertainment). I see you're going to Pikeville,
KY soon. I used to live there. Very small town in an
interesting place. Eastern Kentucky has been exploited
by big coal companies for generations, so there\'s this
weird dichotomy of natural beauty and huge chunks of
mountains just ripped out of the earth. Finally, a movie
question. Have you ever seen John Frankenheimer's "The
Gypsy Moths"? Burt Lancaster, Gene Hackman, and
Deborah Kerr. The movie's from 1969, 16 years after
From Here to Eternity. It's a great little movie. Frankenheimer
reportedly was devastated that it didn't do well, but
it's so existential and depressing that it's no wonder!
Anyway, I can't really describe the plot without giving
too much away, except to say it's about sky divers.
If you haven't seen it, I recommend it.
I've seen it. Great opening, but I wasn't blown
away. I thought it was just OK, and certainly
lesser Frankenheimer, although most of his films would
be in that category. He sure had a great run there
with: "The Birdman of Alcatraz," "The
Manchurian Candidate," "Seven Days in May,"
"The Train" and "Seconds," but he
was never able to get anywhere close to that quality