Q & A    Archive
Page 163


Name:           Mark Fairclough
E-mail:           
Date:             06/12/10

Hi josh

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.

Thanks
Mark Fairclough.

Dear Mark:

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.

Josh

Name:           Nicholas
E-mail:           
Date:             06/07/10

Hey Josh!

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?

Dear Nicholas:

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.

Josh

Name:           Nicholas
E-mail:           nicholaslasalla@yahoo.com
Date:             06/07/10

Dear Josh:

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!

- Nicholas

Dear Nicholas:

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 highly functional.

Josh

Name:           Eugen Buturlakin
E-mail:           
Date:             06/07/10

Dear Josh

Please look for because the money was sent off 23 dollar for two dvds

Dear Eugen:

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.

Josh

Name:           Trey Smith
E-mail:           
Date:             06/07/10

Hi Josh,

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.

Thanks,
Trey

Dear Trey:

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 luck.

Josh

Name:           Nicholas
E-mail:           nicholaslasalla@yahoo.com
Date:             06/07/10

Hey Josh!

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.

Best,
Nicholas

Dear Nicholas:

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.

Josh

Name:           Eugen Buturlakin
E-mail:           
Date:             06/07/10

Dear Josh

I have now transferred the money via paypal I live in Germany how long must I wait for the movies?

Dear Eugen:

So far I haven't received the money.  But it probably takes about a week.

Josh

Name:           russ
E-mail:           
Date:             06/07/10

Dear Josh:

Sorry to hear about the death of Robert Tapert Sr. Are you planning on attending the service?

Dear Russ:

I was sorry to hear it, too.  I didn't know him very well and I think the funeral has already occurred.

Josh

Name:           randy mann
E-mail:           
Date:             06/07/10

Dear Josh:

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.

Dear Randy:

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.

Josh

Name:           Danielle
E-mail:           
Date:             06/06/10

Dear Josh:

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).

Dear Danielle:

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." 

Josh

Name:           David R.
E-mail:           
Date:             06/06/10

Dear Josh:

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 detective (Burns)."

Dear david:

I watched the first couple of episodes and it didn't hook me.

Josh

Name:           Jeff Alede
E-mail:           
Date:             06/06/10

Dear Josh:

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).

Dear Jeff:

"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 Denzel Washington.

Josh

Name:           Trey Smith
E-mail:           
Date:             06/02/10

Dear Josh:

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.

Dear Trey:

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.

Josh

Name:           Colin Hives
E-mail:           
Date:             06/02/10

 Dear Josh:

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?

Col

Dear Colin:

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.

Josh

Webmaster:   Kevin Neece
E-mail:           winedrinkingcritic@yahoo.com
Date:             06/02/10

Dear Josh:

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 Thrill Killers
July 14 – Shenandoah & Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines
July 15 – The Collector & I’ll Take Sweden
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 is Missing
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 & Thunderball
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.

Dear Kevin:

On a reality level, it seems like too much.  It would be movie overload.

Josh

Name:           Ryan Nazarian
E-mail:           
Date:             06/02/10

Hey Josh-

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 by Singer)

I can't wait! I'll even get to introduce them and everything it should be awesome!

Thanks man,
Ryan

Dear Ryan:

Good on ya.  Have fun.  Although personally you wouldn't have gotten me to show up for any of those shows.

Josh

Name:           John Hunt
E-mail:           Chowkidar@aol.com
Date:             06/02/10

Josh,

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

Dear 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."

Josh

Name:           Nick
E-mail:           
Date:             05/29/10

Dear Josh:

"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 saw one.

Dear Nick:

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 kid yourself.

Josh  

Name:           Ronald
E-mail:           
Date:             05/28/10

Dear Josh:

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.

Dear Ronald:

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.

Josh

Name:           Angelo
E-mail:           
Date:             05/28/10

Dear Josh:

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.

Dear Angelo:

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.

Josh

Name:           Jack
E-mail:           
Date:             05/27/10

Dear Josh:

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 a Song.

Dear Jack:

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.

Josh

Name:           Angelo
E-mail:           
Date:             05/27/10

Dear Josh:

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 makeup on!

Dear Angelo:

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.

Josh

Name:           Jack
E-mail:           
Date:             05/26/10

Dear Josh:

Just found this list of the 10 most overrated Films. http://www.scene-stealers.com/top-10s/top-10-most-overrated-movies/. 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?

Dear Jack:

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 4:4, either.

Josh

Name:           paul
E-mail:           
Date:             05/26/10

Dear Mr.Becker,

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! Thanks!

Paul

Dear Paul:

I read it.  Thanks very much.  Lots of luck.

Josh

Name:           Angelo
E-mail:           
Date:             05/26/10

Hey Josh—

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!

Dear Angelo:

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.

Josh

Name:           Alice Schultz
E-mail:           aeschultz333@hotmail.com
Date:             05/25/10

Hi Josh,

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?

Thanks,
Alice

Dear Alice:

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 memory.

Josh

Name:           Don Keeman
E-mail:           
Date:             05/23/10

Dear Josh:

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?

Dear Don:

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.

Josh

Name:           Trey Smith
E-mail:           
Date:             05/17/10

Hi Josh,

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,
Trey

Dear Trey: 

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.

Josh

Name:           Kristie
E-mail:           
Date:             05/17/10

Dear Josh,

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.

Kristie

Dear Kristie:

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.

Josh

Name:           tj
E-mail:           
Date:             05/13/10

Hi Josh.

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.

Dear tj:

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.

Josh

Name:           Larry Bellows
E-mail:           
Date:             05/13/10

Dear Josh,

So you can pay with paypal for the DVDs? How come that's not listed as a payment option on the site?

Dear Larry:

It should be now.

Josh

Name:           Mark
E-mail:           
Date:             05/13/10

Hi josh

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

Mark Fairclough.

Dear Mark:

As I just mentioned, PayPal ought to be up and running.

Josh

Name:           paul
E-mail:           
Date:             05/13/10

Dear Mr.Becker:

Where and How can I buy the film: "If I Had a Hammer" ?? I can pay with PayPal. Thanks!

Paul

Dear Paul: 

If all has gone right in the world, as it so rarely does, PayPal ought to be up and running.

Josh

[Webmaster's Note: I just finished setting it up yesterday. - Kevin].

Name:           David Flauen
E-mail:           
Date:             05/13/10

Dear Josh,

Are you a fan of Peter Bogdanovich's film Paper Moon?

Dear David:

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."

Josh

Name:           paul
E-mail:           
Date:             05/13/10

Dear Mr.Becker,

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!

Paul

Dear Pablo:

I don't use snuff.  I do smoke American Spirit cigarettes, which I roll myself.  I'm glad you're finding "Rushes" interesting.

Josh

Name:           Lee
E-mail:           
Date:             05/13/10

Hi Josh

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.

Thanks
Leepy x

Dear Lee:

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.

Josh

Name:           Colin Hives
E-mail:           colinhives@msn.com
Date:             05/13/10

Dear Josh,

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 had this?

Dear Colin:

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.

Josh

Name:           Eugen Buturlakin
E-mail:           
Date:             05/06/10

Dear Josh,

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!

Dear Eugen:

My email is josh@beckerfilms.com.

Josh 

Name:           A Man of Few Words
E-mail:           
Date:             05/06/10

Dear Josh,

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

Dear AMoFW:

"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."

Josh

Name:           Jessie
E-mail:           jessmcallum@yahoo.com
Date:             05/06/10

Dear Josh,

What do you think of Lucy doing nudity in Spartacus? Have you had time to see any of this new cable show?

Thanks.

Dear Jessie:

If you've got it flaunt it.  No, I haven't seen it yet.

Josh

Name:           KS
E-mail:           
Date:             04/29/10

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

Dear KS:

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.

Josh

Name:           Keith
E-mail:           
Date:             04/29/10

Hi Josh,

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 in film-making.

Dear Keith:

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.

Josh

Name:           Russ
E-mail:           
Date:             04/26/10

Dear Josh:

It is being reported that Legend of the Seeker is canceled. Looks like the rumor you heard was true. Your thoughts?

Dear Russ:

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.

Josh

Name:           Angel
E-mail:           
Date:             04/23/10

Dear Josh,

Just. Fucking. Wow. Did you know of this? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oAfzmm6ZvZ4&feature=player_embedded

Dear Angel:

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.

Josh

Name:           Justin
E-mail:           justinb@mondo-video.com
Date:             04/21/10

Mr. Becker,

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 editor

Dear Justin:

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. 

Josh

Name:           paul
E-mail:           
Date:             04/21/10

Hi Mr.Becker,

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!

Paul R.

Dear Paul:

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.

Josh

Name:           Joseph Snyder
E-mail:           Mega_droogie777@hotmail.com
Date:             04/18/10

Hello Josh,

Sometime ago I started a petition to get Lunatics : A Love Story released on DVD. Check out the petition when you have the time.

Thanks.
Joseph Snyder
http://www.gopetition.com/petitions/lunatics-a-love-story/signatures.html

Dear Joseph:

Your wish has been granted because you can now get it on DVD from me.

Josh

Name:           Paulie
E-mail:           
Date:             04/16/10

Dear Josh:

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

Dear Paulie:

I loved SCTV 3-D theater, with John Candy as Joe Buck in "The Midnight Cowboy" in 3-D.  That was funny stuff.

Josh

Name:           Jon Cross
E-mail:           
Date:             04/16/10

Dear Josh:

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...

Dear Jon:

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. 

Josh

Name:           David R.
E-mail:           
Date:             04/13/10

Dear Josh:

Where do you rate The Desperate Hours among Wyler\'s oeuvre? I\'ve always been a Bogart fan but haven't yet seen it.

Dear David:

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.

Josh

Name:           Jon Cross
E-mail:           
Date:             04/13/10

Hey Josh,

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?

Dear Jon:

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 jinxes them.

Josh

Name:           Jeff Alede
E-mail:           
Date:             04/12/10

Dear Josh:

Do you hold out any hope that the Wall Street sequel will be any good?

Dear Jeff:

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 look.

Josh

Name:           Yodar
E-mail:           
Date:             04/12/10

Shit Josh!

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?

Dear Yodar:

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.

Josh

Name:           Chris Kilgour
E-mail:           
Date:             04/10/10

Hey Josh,

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?

Chris

Dear Chris:

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. 

Josh

Name:           Lincoln
E-mail:           
Date:             04/08/10

Dear Josh:

Site's slowing down alot these days. Is that because you're an IDIOT????????????????????

Dear Lincoln: 

You seem to be accutely aware of the traffic on the website of someone you consider an idiot.  What does that make you?

Josh

Name:           Anthony
E-mail:           
Date:             04/05/10

Hello,

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.

Dear Anthony:

Would you use PayPal?

Josh

Name:           Johnson and Johnson Umpire
E-mail:           
Date:             04/05/10

Dear Josh:

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.

Dear J&JU:

It's $10 for short films and $20 for features.  And yes, it's $5 S&H for any order over 3 disks.

Josh

Name:           Sam Dodge
E-mail:           
Date:             04/05/10

Howdy Josh,

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,
Sam Dodge

Dear Sam:

I've been to your website a couple of times and I found it very interesting and informative.  I'm glad I could reciprocate.

Josh

Name:           Trey Smith
E-mail:           
Date:             03/30/10

Hi Josh,

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 it.

Regards,
Trey

Dear Trey:

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. 

Josh

Name:           Joe
E-mail:           
Date:             03/25/10

Dear Josh:

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 so much.

-Joe-

Dear Joe:

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 your show.

Josh

Name:           Rob Mclaine
E-mail:           info@bookofthedead.ws
Date:             03/18/10

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 UK?

Kind regards,
Rob.
info@bookofthedead.ws

Dear Rob:

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.

Josh

Name:           Trey Smith
E-mail:           treymakesmovies@gmail.com
Date:             03/17/10

Dear Josh:

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.

Dear Trey:

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.

Josh

Name:           Ray C
E-mail:           
Date:             03/17/10

Dear Josh,

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.

Dear Ray:

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.

Josh

Name:           Ray C
E-mail:           
Date:             03/15/10

Dear Josh,

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.

Dear Ray:

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.

Josh

Name:           Ray C
E-mail:           
Date:             03/15/10

Dear Josh,

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.

Dear Ray:

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. 

Josh

Name:           Chris Atkins
E-mail:           
Date:             03/14/10

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.

Sincerely,
Chris Atkins

Dear Chris:

Homophobia?  For trashing the Oscars?  I truly have no idea what you're talking about.

Josh

Name:           Leepy
E-mail:           
Date:             03/14/10

Hey Josh,

 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.

Dear Lee:

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.

Josh

Name:           Seth
E-mail:           
Date:             03/14/10

Dear Josh:

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 had.

Dear Seth:

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.

Josh

Name:           Ray C
E-mail:           
Date:             03/14/10

Dear Josh,

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.

Dear Ray:

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, lazy direction.

Josh

Name:           Seth
E-mail:           
Date:             03/13/10

Hey Josh,

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.

Dear Seth:

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!

Josh

Name:           Jim Nelson
E-mail:           
Date:             03/12/10

Dear Josh:

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 in.

Dear Jim:

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.

Josh

Name:           Manuela25Newman
E-mail:           
Date:             03/12/10

Dear Josh:

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.

Dear Manuela:

I don't know what this means, and it's a dead link.

Josh

Name:           Jeremy Milks
E-mail:           
Date:             03/12/10

Nancy,

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 (admin@homecomingcreations.com) 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.

Dear Jeremy:

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.

Josh

Name:           Nancy
E-mail:           
Date:             03/12/10

Dear Josh:

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.

Dear Nancy:

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 anymore.

Josh

Name:           Nancy
E-mail:           
Date:             03/11/10

Hi Josh,

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.

Dear Nancy:

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.

Josh

Name:           Bob
E-mail:           
Date:             03/10/10

Dear Josh:

Did you see V for Vendetta? If so, did you like it?

Dear Bob:

Nope, didn't see it.  That's one of those comic book things, right?

Josh

Name:           paulli
E-mail:           
Date:             03/08/10

Hey Josh

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 (Warner Bros.)

Dear paulli:

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.

Josh

Name:           Jack Alderton
E-mail:           
Date:             03/07/10

Dear Josh:

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".

Dear Jack:

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.

Josh

Name:           Jeremy Milks
E-mail:           
Date:             03/07/10

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 you, Nancy.

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.

Dear Jeremy:

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.

Josh

Name:           Nancy
E-mail:           
Date:             03/06/10

No, Josh,

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.

Dear Nancy:

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 veneer.

Josh

Name:           Jack Alderton
E-mail:           
Date:             03/06/10

Dear Josh:

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).

Dear Jack:

I just answered this one.

Josh

Name:           pauli
E-mail:           
Date:             03/06/10

Hi Josh.

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.

Dear pauli:

"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.

Josh

Name:           Calvin Gray
E-mail:           
Date:              03/05/10

Josh,

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. - Calvin.

Name:           Nancy
E-mail:           

Okay Josh,

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.

Name:           JJ
E-mail:           vacdoomed@hotmail.com

Hey Josh,

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.

JJ

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.

Josh 

Name:            Debi, Ricks sister
E-mail:           
Date:              03/05/10

Hi Josh,

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!

Dear Debi:

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 it.

Josh

Name:            David R.
E-mail:           
Date:              03/04/10

Dear Josh:

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 too obvious?)

Dear David:

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.

Josh

Name:            Zack Brown
E-mail:           
Date:              03/03/10

Dear Josh:

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 diharrea!

Dear Zack:

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.

Josh

Name:            Nancy
E-mail:           
Date:              03/03/10

Dear Josh:

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.

Dear Nancy:

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.

Josh

Name:            Jeremy Milks
E-mail:           
Date:              03/02/10

Dear Josh:

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.

Dear Jeremy:

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 dead.

Josh

Name:            David R.
E-mail:           
Date:              03/01/10

Dear Josh:

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?

Dear David:

Yes, there's been multiple hosts a number of times.  They've had as many as six hosts.

Josh

Name:            mike
E-mail:           
Date:              03/01/10

Dear Josh:

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 ever invented.

Dear Mike:

HaShem.  Gesundheit.

Josh

Name:            Zack Brown
E-mail:           
Date:              03/01/10

Dear Josh,

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?

Dear Zack:

I've never had a girlfriend like that.  What's her number?

Josh

Name:            Joe
E-mail:           
Date:              03/01/10

hey becker:

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.

Dear Joe:

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.

Josh

Name:            Seth
E-mail:           
Date:              03/01/10

Hi Josh,

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 work.

Dear Seth:

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.

Josh

Name:            Kristie
E-mail:           
Date:              02/28/10

Dear Josh:

"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 through recently.

Dear Kristie:

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."

Josh

Name:            Daniel Gomes
E-mail:           
Date:              02/28/10

Dear Josh:

Which Kevin Smith films have you seen and what did you think of them?

Dear Daniel:

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.

Josh

Name:            Wyuun
E-mail:           
Date:              02/28/10

Dear Josh:

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.

Dear Wyuun:

Really?  Would you like to be my interpreter and food taster?  The job's open.

Josh

Name:            Joe
E-mail:           
Date:              02/28/10

Dear Josh:

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.

Dear Joe:

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.

Josh

Name:            David R.
E-mail:           
Date:              02/26/10

Dear Josh:

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?

Dear David:

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 moved me.

Josh

Name:            Chris B
E-mail:           
Date:              02/26/10

Dear Josh:

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,
-Chris

Dear Chris:

It was my pleasure.  I had a very good time and Kalamazoo seems like a cool town.

Josh

Name:            Seth
E-mail:           
Date:              02/25/10

Dear Josh:

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.

Best,
Seth

Dear Seth:

Well, I'm really, really pleased you liked it.  We had a good time making it.

Josh

Name:            Scott
E-mail:           sspnyc66@mac.com
Date:              02/22/10

Hey Josh,

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" http://vimeo.com/8739198 "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 work.

-Scott

Dear Scott:

Thanks for adding into the discussion.  I think the comparison between the two films is very interesting.

Josh

Name:            Jeff Q.
E-mail:           
Date:              02/21/10

Dear Josh,

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.

Dear Jeff:

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 on.

Josh

Name:            Trey Smith
E-mail:           
Date:              02/21/10

Dear Josh:

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.

Dear Trey:

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 or something.

Josh

Name:            Henry
E-mail:           
Date:              02/21/10

Dear Josh,

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?

Dear Henry:

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.

Josh

Name:            Dean
E-mail:           
Date:              02/20/10

Hi Josh.

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.

Dear Dean:

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.

Josh

Name:            Lee
E-mail:           
Date:              02/20/10

Hey Josh.

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.

Lee

Dear Lee:

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.

Josh

Name:            Henry
E-mail:           
Date:              02/20/10

Dear Josh,

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.

Dear Henry:

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"?

Josh

Name:            Dave Christiano
E-mail:           
Date:              02/19/10

Hi Josh,

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.

Thanks,
DAVE C.

http://www.meyouusforever.com/trailer.htm

Dear Dave:

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.

Josh

Name:            Amy
E-mail:           
Date:              02/19/10

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? STUPID!

Dear Amy:

Bore v. to make a person feel tired or uninterested by being dull or tedious.

Josh

Name:            chowwwy
E-mail:           
Date:              02/19/10

Dear Josh:

FUCK YOUFUCK YOUFUCK YOUFUCK YOUFUCK YOUFUCK YOUFUCK YOUFUCK YOUFUCK YOUFUCK YOUFUCK YOUFUCK YOUFUCK YOUFUCK YOUFUCK YOUFUCK YOUFUCK YOUFUCK YOUFUCK YOUFUCK YOUFUCK YOUFUCK YOUFUCK YOUFUCK YOUFUCK YOUFUCK YOUFUCK YOUFUCK YOUFUCK YOUFUCK YOUFUCK YOUFUCK YOUFUCK YOUFUCK YOUFUCK YOUFUCK YOUFUCK YOUFUCK YOUFUCK YOUFUCK YOUFUCK YOUFUCK YOUFUCK YOUFUCK YOUFUCK YOUFUCK YOUFUCK YOUFUCK YOUFUCK YOUFUCK YOUFUCK YOUFUCK YOUFUCK YOUFUCK YOUFUCK YOUFUCK YOUFUCK YOUFUCK YOUFUCK YOUFUCK YOUFUCK YOUFUCK YOUFUCK YOUFUCK YOUFUCK YOUFUCK YOUFUCK YOUFUCK YOUFUCK YOUFUCK YOUFUCK YOUFUCK YOUFUCK YOUFUCK YOUFUCK YOUFUCK YOUFUCK YOUFUCK YOUFUCK YOUFUCK YOUFUCK YOUFUCK YOUFUCK YOUFUCK YOUFUCK YOUFUCK YOUFUCK YOUFUCK YOUFUCK YOUFUCK YOUFUCK YOUFUCK YOUFUCK YOUFUCK YOUFUCK YOUFUCK YOUFUCK YOUFUCK YOUFUCK YOUFUCK YOUFUCK YOUFUCK YOUFUCK YOUFUCK YOUFUCK YOUFUCK YOUFUCK YOUFUCK YOUFUCK YOUFUCK YOUFUCK YOU

Dear Chowwwy:

Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz...

Josh

Name:            Kris
E-mail:           
Date:              02/18/10

Dear Josh:

Regarding Frankenheimer, there's also Grand Prix and the Inge scripted All Fall Down, both of which are very interesting.

Dear Kris:

I didn't care for either of them, although I do like Saul Bass's split-screen work in "Grand Prix."

Josh

Name:            Will
E-mail:           wdodson52@hotmail.com
Date:              02/17/10

Dear Josh:

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.

Dear Will:

Thanks so much for the nice description of me.  It certainly does sum me up in a succinct fashion.

Josh

Name:            Alex Spivey
E-mail:           
Date:              02/17/10

Dear Josh:

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.

Dear Alex:

Thanks for the suggestion.

Josh

Name:            Chase
E-mail:           
Date:              02/16/10

Hi Josh,

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 fuck yourself!"

Dear Chase:

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 enjoyed it. 

Josh

Name:            Will
E-mail:           wdodson52@hotmail.com
Date:              02/16/10

Dear Josh:

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.

Dear Will:

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 again.

Josh


TO Q&A Archives Page




Click Here To Submit Your Questions or Comments



BECKERFILMS SITE MENU

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