know your not a Soderbergh fan, but have you seen his
1999 film The Limey? It was pretty intersting. The direction
was original, but when you look at jump cuts and voice-overs
and odd colors like he uses, you end up thinking "That's
cool, but why is it there?" That seems to be the
main problem with Soderbergh's direction in general,
he uses certain angles and filters just for the sake
of using them, and it eventually becomes annoying. I
must say that I did find the film to be ok though. What
are your thoughts?
didn't care for it at all. I didn't care a whit about
Terence Stamp, whom I like, or his quest. And, as you
mentioned, Soderbergh's directorial style is simple-minded,
obvious, and meaningless. In my opinion, he has yet
to set up one legitimately good shot in his entire career.
Any time he does anything with the editing or camerawork,
I feel like I'm watching a guy fumbling for a visual
style he simply hasn't got.
agree, i dont think there has even been a movie above
1 star rating in the past 10 or even 20 years. i prefered
the movies that werent made by developed directors.
they are less commercial and more real. i have to say
that alfred hitchcocks psycho is the only satisfactry
film i have ever seen. i havent seen any of your films
josh, sorry. i was wondering as well if u did stuff
on xena and hurcules than would you have been in new
zealand for that? im a film student down there and i
wanted to know what the new zealand film industry is
like. thank you very much.
was down in New Zealand about 25 times for Herc and
Xena. I enjoyed working there very much. For the most
part, the crews were very professional and knew their
jobs as well as anyone in Hollywood. Sadly, however,
due to the weird, socialistic employment rules there,
you can't fire anybody, and a few crew members that
really did a crappy job and had bad attitudes stuck
around for years. But they were by far the minority.
Otherwise, it was really terrific.
I really like the ending of "Running Time".
What does it take to make a great ending? I might have
almost enjoyed "Cast Away" if the ending wasn't
so damn anticlimatic.
Oh yeah, what are some of your favorites? I love the
endings to "The Bridge on the River Kwai,"
"Taxi Driver," "The Godfather Part 2,"
and "The French Connection".
Sorry to bring up a million things in one post. The
most disturbing scene I can think of is the first russian
roulette scene in "The Deer Hunter".
good ending is one that ties up all its loose ends.
As all the threads tie up at the end of "Kwai"
it becdomes breathtaking because you didn't even realize
there were that many threads out there. The man that
gave me my first serious idea of what screenwriting
is (which is mainly structure), Inigo DeMartino, Sr.,
who had written 35 films, used as his example of "bad
suspense" (this was 1977, two year before "The
Deer Hunter") was playing Russian Roulette. It's
not real suspense, it's fake suspense because it doesn't
go anywhere. Beside, the VC never made anyone play Russian
Roulette, it's just a silly, lame dramatic device to
try and end the severe boredom the first hour of that
film caused. "The Deer Hunter" is a film I
really can't stand.
regard to "fargo", The fact that she didn't
notice William H. macy's apparaent guilt at all contributes
to their parody of rural areas and their naivety. The
scene with the chinese man in the diner also achieves
the same end.
The william h macy scene in question also illustrates
the parody when he simply raises his voice to her causing
her to go silent and then claim that he is being completely
rude and unreasonable.
But then Again it's just my opinion.
a thing called consistency in characterization. Fran's
character is never meant to be stupid. I must also say
that the Coen's contention that folks in rural areas
are dumb makes me think that pretentious filmmakers
are far dumber than anyone living in a rural area. Doesn't
the Coen bros. knuckleheaded pretentiousness get anyone
else down but me?
had to ask you, what do you think of the hodge/boyle
team up? I mean, sure " the beach" was a piece
of shit, but I thought "shallow grave" was
an excellent film, and that "trainspotting"
was very good too, and one of the funniest films of
the last five years. I do disagree with the labelling
of shallow grave as a comedy, sure there where one or
two funny parts ( the new flatmate interviews) but I
just thought that cutting off hands and feet and smashing
out teeth with a hammer, didn't make for big laughs
although it does make it into my disturbing films scenes
must also mention another one of my 4 star films, "glengarry
glen ross", the cast was straight from leading
man heaven and david mamet's script was his sharpest
since "the untouchables" ( another **** effort).
you enjoy Depalma? I wil say that he's sold out lately
( "mission to mars" anyone? not even gary
sinise and don cheadle could save that one) but I still
enjoy his directing teqniques for a bit of fun.... and
"scarface" is forever one of my favorite films.
And another **** film which should have gotten best
picture over that piece of shit "titanic",
was "LA confidential". Another film I thought
was damn near perfect. And just for the record I think
"goodfellas" is the best film ever made, did
you give it 4 stars? It couldn't be given any less.
Did you happen to catch Scorsese's three part documentary
on the history of film? It was excellent, and I think
he takes the award for best directoral cameo of all
time ("do you see the women in the window?").
let's see? I haven't seen "Shallow Grave."
I did enjoy "Trainspotting," although I didn't
think it was great by any means -- almost none of it
sticks with me at all. I also like "Glengarry Glenross,"
but I don't think it's a 4-star film -- there's too
much yelling, swearing, and repetition, and it's all
pretty obvious. It's well-done, and it's certainly Mamet's
best work, but I don't think it's great drama. I really
don't care for "The Untouchables," other than
Sean Connery's performance ("Who would say they
are that that was not that"). Costner is a total
stick-in-the mud, them charging out on horses was dumb,
and I really couldn't get behind what they were doing.
The whole scene on the steps is just painfully wearisome
in its homage to "Potemkin," with the bouncing
baby carriage. To say that DePalma just sold out is
a laugh. he sold out 20 years ago. Did anyone but me
see "Bonfire of the Vanities"? In fact, the
only DePalma film I really like and respect is "Carrie."
I'm also not a very big fan of DePalma's remake of "Scarface."
Pacino is ridiculously over-the-top the whole time,
and the ending with the rocket launchers nearly put
me to sleep. I'll take Howard Hawks's original any day
of the week. Certainly "L.A. Confidential"
was far superior to "Titanic," but I still
wouldn't give it 4-stars. I really didn't like Guy Pearce,
it was too long, and there was way too much weapon-fire
at the end for believability's sake. I also don't think
you can really play that gag of "That really is
Ava Gardner." Well, no it wasn't. I agree, "Goodfellas"
is a 4-star film (and Scorsese's last good film).
how is it going? Well, I have to be in this conversation
about four star films and disturbing film and everything.
I got to start by saying I do think that Memento is
an amazing film, I mentioned it before. It is in a page
in the archives, I am not sure which. But anyway, it
is a film that is as original as anything you can think
of. And Bound, it is a good Joe Pantoliano film and
I have been wanting to get the DVD, I am not sure when
though. I cannot think of a fourstar film either. I
have a question, though. Josh, have you seen any film
that you admire the ending of? I can think of a few
but you probably did not like them.
like the endings of many films. "Casablanca"
and "The Maltese Falcon" jumped to mind right
away. "The Bridge on the River Kwai" has a
terrific ending. Good God, I like the endings of hundreds
of movies. The end of "Going My Way" is really
great, when Bing Crosby brings Barry Fitzgerald's 95-year-old
mother in from Ireland and reunites them after 50 years.
Or the end of "The Palm Beach Story," when
you realize Joel McCrea and Cluadette Colbert both have
twin siblings. It goes on and on.
it hanging? I crew on films in small capacities such
as PA and dolly grip jobs. Growing up I watched Stryker's
War, and that was one of the sole reasons for wanting
to become involved in the film industry, the other reasons
were The Toxic Avenger, Coming Home and Psycho Cop.
Psycho Cop is a great film if you ask me, and its star
Robert R. Shafer is one of my favourite actors and I
think he could and would be perfect in your next project.
Consult www.imdb.com for his full filmography. Anyway
I absolutely adore your work. Running Time is the best
low-budget single take american film starring Bruce
Campbell and Art LaFleur to come out of 1997. Just kidding,
I hated it!!!! Na, I just had you, it was a good film,
and was what got me interested in mortgaging my house
to film a low-budget 16mm film entitled Love on Devil's
Wheels starring a promising actor with one prior film
credit Mitch Maglio and several other non working actors.
The film will be independently released sometime in
the middle of 2002. You are an inspiration to me. Tell
me what you think of the films Psycho Cop, Psycho Cop
Returns, Ms. 45, and No Way Home. Don't be so harsh
on Bringing Out the Dead. Catcha on the flipside.
sincerely Barney Bloom.
work on getting a film made. I haven't seen any of the
films you've mentioned. I haven't liked any of the Abel
Ferrara films I've seen, though. "Bringing Out
the Dead" was a disaster. Other than a few good
angles, it really has nothing to recommend it. I wish
you extra luck on your release.
thing, Maybe the reason you hate so many films is because
you enter onto them fully expecting a cetain structure
and, when disapointed ( which im sure happens alot as
films attempt to be new and fresh)
consider it a slap in the face for boring, ordinary
structures in films which it's obvious you can't break
away from and hence dump all over.
now you think about it asshole.
now I'm an asshole, eh? Simply put, those who dump on
story structure are those that don't understand anything
also had to mention that two films this year have made
my top twenty list of all time.
are "cecil b. demented."
and the best film of the year "o brother where
art thou" which breaks into my top ten.
both are 4 star films.
strokes for different folks. I watched a half-hour of
"Cecil B." and it was awful! I think John
waters sold his soul to the Hollywood devil. Every film
of his after "Female Trouble" is worthless.
As for the Coen bros., well, 'nuff said.
honestly can't believe how much of a hard-ass you are.
Is there any films you do like? It seems to me that
everytime you criticize the shit out of a film, it's
because It doesnt follow the typical conventions of
ye olde cinema work. You claim traffic has no story,
no lead actor, bad direction and acting. Bull shit...
If there was ever a set protocall that a filmmaker had
to follow in order to be considered a real film maker,
then he ceases to allow his creative intentions to eventuate,
if every film maker in the world modified their ideas
to fit a more acceptable frame of structure, then the
monotony of an identical framewrok and storytelling
premise would soon grow very tiresome.
You did however, mention Benicio del toro , who did
not speak a word of spanish, and for traffic,
learnt his lines of dialogue in another language, and
acted them in a totally convincing manner, not unlike
Robert Deniro's completely italian speaking Don Corleone
in The Godfather part II.
is expression,and yes, film is an artform , once you
begin placing restrictions on an artists creativity,
it's not their own anymore, and has been sullyed to
convey the thoughts of a people who refuse to make exceptions
And as for legalizing drugs, a number of countries who
chose to adopt this method have turned into the biggest
waystation drop off points for drug shipments and home
to some of the largest cartels in the world. In the
Netherlands, a country smaller than West Virginia, there
is around fifty clinics set up to help addicts. Over
three percent of the population over fifteen years of
age in Rotterdam use cocaine. In England, heroin was
made legal by prescription and the number of heroin
addicts went from under 500 to about 20,000 in only
One more thing, I thought Election was another 4 star
film. The whole affair thing was to contrast his ethics
concerning his school with his private life,
which also served to add up and result in his final
resting place as a museum curator.
is a boring argument I've heard 500 times. To use my
house metaphor yet again, you certainly have the right
to put the roof in the basement, then put the walls
on top of that, it just won't function as a house. And
using the joke metaphor, you can absolutely tell your
punch-lines first, you just won't get any laughs. You
don't have to use proper story structure, but you simply
can't tell a good story without it. You say that my
assessments of "Traffic" are "Bullshit,"
but you only back that up with the fact that Benecio
Del Toro didn't really speak Spanish. So what? Is Michael
Douglas' DEA agent a good character? How about Catherine
Zeta-Jones? These are poorly-written characters. And
I will reiterate my stance, when you are aware of a
director's presence every frame of the film, as in "Traffic,"
that's called bad direction. Any director that makes
umbrella decisions, like I'm shooting the entire film
hand-held with long lenses or everything is in tight
close-up, isn't dealing with the specific moments. All
of the architecture we know deals with the foundation,
then the walls, then the roof, and it hasn't gotten
in anyone's way.
Dear Josh & Everyone:
someone who has a say in whether he thinks a film is
good or not, I think that most of the films have their
good points and their bad points, for me atleast. My
** Stars. Throughout the film, I had thought that the
character development for Wade Whithouse (Nolte's Character)
seemed dull and thawed out, as if Paul Schrader was
making everything along as he went. I never cared about
the character, and the film's premise was just okay.
I do agree that it was disturbing.
Shawshank Redemption- ** Stars. I have to admit that
the first time I saw it, I fell in love with it, but
the more and more I watch it nowadays, I don't have
the admiration as I did the first time I viewed it.
I do have to say it is Frank Darabonts best yet, best
Stephen King adaption that, considering that the guy
made a career out of putting his works to the screen.
Out The Dead- * Star. Josh, I can't agree with you more.
The picture is well ripped off Taxi Driver and if you
think about it, the story tries to become Taxi Driver
while trying to become a whole new film. God, what a
*** Stars. This film has its moments, that I admire.
I liked it because I felt I was watching a cops and
robbers movie, just like a thing where me and my friends
used to play around when we were really young and I
loved the fact that Pacino and De Niro (My favorite
actors, btw) in the same movie, even though they are
only in a (breif) single scene. I don't like how there
should be an ending long before it is sussposed to be.
That is the only problem. But other than that, I enjoyed
*** Stars. When I saw this, long after The Matrix and
Assassins, I was questioning whether or not the Wackowski
brothers made the film. I checked and I was surprised
that the Brothers did in fact make this film. It was
surprising because I hated Assassins and I thought Matrix
was boring from the start and I thought that Bound was
well crafted, well written and awesome acting, mostly
by Joe Pantoliano. Maybe this is because I just like
crime movies, and I am questioning myself whether to
give it *** Stars. By the way, it does have some depressing
scenes in it where Joe Pantoliano bounds and gags Jennifer
Tilly and tries to cut her finger off just to know vital
information from Jennifer Tilly's lesbian partner, Gina
Of A Vampire- * Star. Not worthy of anything past *
Star. I just simply hate the fact that they are trying
to pass for a good film but it turns out to be a tedious
mind game. Hate cannot describe the boredom I felt when
watching this move. Do not see, if you do, you have
I have to say, the worthy **** Star film that comes
to mind is "Following" written and directed
by Christopher Nolan, the same man who would later make
"Memento", a mindbending thriller that breaks
filmmaking rule after filmmaking rule, just not worthy
of **** Stars, *** Stars is good. Don't believe good
old Maltin with that one. Anyway, if you are interested
in seeing "Following", then I suggest you
are in for a wild ride. Christopher Nolan's style is
just mindblowing, you have to check it out. It really
would make you wonder who Christopher Nolan is.
when you mentioned the film "Tigerland" and
said that it had believable characters and such, I checked
it out. It came on, so I watched it. Whoa, thanks for
mentioning that, may I add. I just got the DVD of it
today and I have been watching it over and over ever
since. Though, questionable if it is a **** Star film.
about RT, I have no problem with the film, dont get
me wrong. But the ending just didnt do it for me in
terms of answering a couple of things. It really is
a good piece of work. Sorry, to offend you.
didn't offend me. You and everyone else can say whatever
you'd like about my films and TV eps. They're out there
to be seen and critiqued. Go ahead and hate them if
you'd like, just have a reason. I think "Shawshank"
is better than you're making out, but it's not a great
film, just a good one. I don't think "Tigerland"
is a four-star film, either, but a good one, nonetheless.
I'd give it three, and I think it does have some subtext.
Pretty good thumbnail reviews, who do you review for?
you haven't seen "bound" , make a b-line for
the nearest video store and get it, Joe pantoliano,
who I think is one of the best actors working today
("momento" anyone?), His performance deserved
some kind of award.
I was also looking through "running time"'s
maltin review, pretty damn favorable, You gotta be happy
with that. I wonder, does him saying your film was "well
acted , suspenseful, both realistic and romantic"
help cement your respect for him, and praise him so
totally in your replys? Nah im just fucking with you....
I think Running time deserved everything it got, (well
decidedly that) an excellent effort.
Bye the way, I believe "Fargo" to be as close
to film perfection as possible with no adjustments able
to be made. A real **** effort.
One last thing, In "seven" where the fed ex
guy comes out to the middle of nowhere, the driver says
that "this guy payed me $500 bucks just to bring
it out here" shows that the guy is obviously acting
on his own time. There may have been numerous inaccuracies
and faults (a homocide detective was quoted as saying
he shuddered when Freeman just plucked the note from
behind the fridge with his bare hands) it is still Amazingly
photographed (the chase scene in particular)
and well written.
how many of your films has maltin reviwed? ( I know
that running time got 3/4 which according to him makes
it on par with unforgiven)
isn't that a joke. And, given his ratings, "Lunatics"
is as good as "Taxi Driver." Yeah, right.
Two of my films, "Running Time" and "Lunatics"
are in Maltin's book (both reviewed by Bill Warren,
BTW). The other book just like Maltin's, "Video
Movie Guide" by Mick Martin & Marsha Porter
has those plus TSNKE, which they give a turkey, their
lowest rating. They do give RT three and a half-stars,
but that's out of five. Meanwhile, I agree that "Seven"
is well-photographed, but I disagree that it's well-written.
I also disagree that "Fargo" is "as close
to film perfection as possible." I do think it's
the Coen's best film, but I'd give it three stars. I
don't think Frances McDormand's character is particularly
well thought-out. For a cop she comes off as not very
observant. The first time she questions William Macy
in his office, he's acting so guilty a five-year-old
would suspect something, but Fran just stands and leaves.
Also, the scene with the Asian fellow in the restaurant
couldn't be more extraneous. Also, Fran's husband could
not have been more underwritten. Beyond any of that,
there's no subtext or theme, it just is. As Hemingway
said of good writing (including his own), it should
be like an iceberg, with one-quarter showing and three-quarters
below the surface. That ain't going on in any of the
Coen bros. films.
four star film since 1992.....I really like Michele
Soavi's "D'ellamorte Dellmore" (released in
America as "Cemetery Man," starring a pre-star
Rupert Everett. I think it's a four-star movie, despite
not following your structure essays (:p). It's surrealism
and surprising resonance in pre-socratic Heraclitian
philosophy (don't see that every day) poses very interesting
questions about real/not real and the boundaries between
the concscious and subconscious. I also think Steve
Buscemi's "Trees Lounge" is a four star movie.
Reasoning being the well-developed characters and the
tightness of the story. All the subplots move along
at a steady pace and are intertwined with the main story
convincingly. And the performances and photography are
top-notch in my opinion.
me also weigh in on the "disturbing" discussion.
Tod Solondz's films, which I don't particularly like
but find compelling to watch anyway, do it for me. In
"Welcome to the Dollhouse," when school bully
refuses to allow Heather Matzouri's character to leave
the restroom until she defecates and in Happiness, the
entire homosexual pedophilia subplot just make my spine
not seen "Cemetery Man" or "Trees Lounge"
I can't comment. I have a distinct feeling that if and
when I see either of these films I'll disagree. I don't
honestly see how anyone could get a 4-star film out
of either of those premises. Come on, a 4-star zombie
movie? I just kinda doubt it. Nevertheless . . . I didn't
like, nor was I moved by, Todd Solondz' "Welcome
to the Dollhouse" and I bailed out halfway through
"Happiness" because it was so fucking repetitive,
but perhaps I should try again and stick it out. As
a note, a 4-star movie is a GREAT film, a classic. So
far, the choices I'm hearing I don't buy, even if I
haven't seen them. I'm supposed to believe that Steve
Buscemi, a good character actor, made a GREAT, classic
film his first time out? Call me a doubting Thomas.
maybe "disturbing" was the wrong word, maybe
"frustrating" is more appropriate.
Besides, I thought of something else. The movie "Blood
Simple." Especially in the scene where Dan Hedaya
won't die and the other guy buries him alive. Just the
thought of Hedaya trying to crawl away on the side of
the road gives me shivers.
suppose one could take that scene that way, I, on the
other hand, was so annoyed at how blatant of a rip-off
the scene was from Hitchcock's "Torn Curtain,"
which is a truly disturbing scene, that I couldn't take
any of "Blood Simple" seriously. Not to mention
that the premise has been done so many times, from "The
Postman Always Rings Twice" and "Double Indemnity"
to "Body Heat," and the Coen bros.' film seems
like weakest version of the bunch. I can accept a man
killing for Lana Turner or Barbra Stanwyck, but not
for Francis McDormand.
reading your onset diary for " book of the dead"
I couldn't help noticing it's parralels with an extremely
unknown documentary called "the demon lover diary".
The diary being of course, about an hour and a half
of on set behind the scenes 16mm footage showing the
trials and tribulations of the troubled shoot of the
1976 film "The demon Lover" directed by Don
One of the producers is even mentioned as deliberately
cutting his finger off in an industrial "accident"
to claim the insurance money, therefore, funding the
I believe it to be one of the most raw, real and altogether
amazing film documents of all time.
Despite it's lacklustre appearance (natural light and
grainy 16mm, although I would choose 16mm over 35 if
given a choice), It exhibits the most humourous traits
of human psychology and the climax although not quite
clearly filmed, is quite amazing.If you have not seen
this, I seriously recommend you do, and if you have
seen it, then maybe you should watch a few of Don Jackson's
other works of art... ie. "hell comes to frogtown"
or "I like to hurt people". I also recommend
"Lingerie Kickboxer". I'd be interested to
hear your thoughts on the "diary".
I do believe there has been a number of 4 star films
in the last ten years, most notably "Bound",
"Seven", "Heat" ,"Bringing
out the dead" and " Shadow of the Vampire".
Just to name a few.
have seen "Demon Lover Diary" and spoke highly
of it in my review of "American Movie," of
which it reminded me. I didn't see "Bound."
"Seven" wasn't very good. As my friend put
it, "Seven" is a mystery for idiots. The cops
never figure out anything, they just keep getting calls
in the middle of the night saying, "There's been
another one," then showing up somewhere that's
all covered in blood. At the end, when a FedEx truck
delivers a box to the 137th phone pole in the middle
of nowhere is so stupid it's breathtaking (FedEx won't
even deliver to PO boxes, for God's sake). "Bringing
Out the Dead" is Scorsese at his worst, ripping
of his own film, "Taxi Driver," and have nothing
new or interesting to add. Cage's character is terrible,
played at the same level the whole time, and never goes
through any kind of interesting change. Patricia Arquette's
character is a dull, miserable whiner. I really hated
it. It's the perfect definition of "Great directors
don't die, they become cinematographers." "Heat"
was okay, if overlong, but it's certainly no great shakes.
It's a persistent cop and a wily criminal and not much
more than that. The big heist scene had way too much
automatic weapon fire for me. And DeNiro and Pacino
have one scene together. 4-stars it ain't. I haven't
seen "Shadow of the Vampire" yet.
think there have been a few 4-star films made since
I felt, was a truely great picture with an absolutey
chilling pair of performances coming from Nick Nolte
and James Coburn. I've never liked Paul Schrader as
a director, but "Affliction" is a very strong
picture. Unforgetable, and I've only seen it twice.
(Actually it could fit on a disturbing list. Coburn
hitting his own, grown son over the head with an embty
bottle of booze then being murdered and burned by him,
is really awful.)
also felt "The Shawshank Redemption" was a
really great film. A true throw back to the golden era
of films, say the 30's or 40's.
also remembered two other films to add to the disturnbing
little seen documentary "Brother's Keeper"
about three elderly, backwoods brothers that all lived
together in the same house, and how the youngest one
was accused of murdering the oldest brother.
also always thought that "Cutter's Way", a
little movie from the early 80's, was always disturbing.
John Heard, one armed, one leged, and one eyed, drinking
himself into death, knowing his best friend, Jeff Bridges,
is screwing his wife, and basically making up a murder
story around a local welthy man...Then it winds up being
possibly ture after he goes psycho and kills himself.
a good one.
agree that "Affliction" should be on the disturbing
list -- Nolte pulling out his own tooth with a pliers
was one of the most horrifying things I've ever seen
in a film (and ought to have gotten him an Oscar), but
I sure don't think it was a 4-star movie. I don't know
that I'd even give it three. Two and a half seems more
like it. I really do like "The Shawshank Redemption,"
but I don't think it's a 4-star film, either. It works
really well on a surface level, just like the Stephen
King story, but there's no subtext, no depth, and therefore
I don't think it deserves more than three and a half
stars. I saw "Cutter's Way" when it was first
released and was called "Cutter & Bone,"
and though it's been quite a few years, John Heard's
performance still stands out as utterly absurd. Admittedly,
it was a difficult part to play, but he approached it
as though he were a cartoon pirate, only lacking the
parrot on his shoulder.
Maltin also gave 4 stars to Howards End, Little Women,
and Schindler's List...just for the record. I liked
Howard's End (I don't think I could sit through it again
though). Little Women was OK, but I didnt go crazy for
those are all before 1997. I think the fact still stands
that he's only given 4-stars twice since then. I think
"Howard's End" is a very good film and I've
seen it four times. It gets easier to sit through each
time. It's also highly ironic, which impresses the hell
out of me. Both Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson simply
could not be better, nor could Helena Bonham Carter.
And it looks wonderful. I think it's Merchant/Ivory's
best film. The Gillian Armstrong version of "Little
Women" was okay, if rather dry, but I don't think
it comes close to the 1933 version with the very young
and incredible Katherine Hepburn. Personally, I'll take
the 1949 version, with Janet Leigh and Elizabeth Taylor,
over the recent one. Regarding "Schindler's List,"
I just think it's a bad movie, poorly thought out, with
simple-minded characterizations, annoying music, and
severely overlong. That's a film I truly hope I never
have to sit through again.
and this Maltin discussion. Obviously, you and Maltin
have something in common. You have your own different
but fascinating opinions. See, I may disagree with some
of Josh's favorite films of all time and I may disagree
with Maltin's picks in his books. But I still read Josh's
and Maltin's stuff just because it is interesting to
read and why the critic cut up a certain film. Am I
right? Like Maltin and his take on "Taxi Driver".
What is he thinking? I think "Taxi Driver"
is a film where there is so much character development
with its lead character that it is so hard to get your
mind off of something else. You feel how lonely De Niro
is and what he becomes and how he becomes it. How is
there anything bad to say about that, and that alone?
Josh, I am curious: do you have any regrets on the ending
of "Running Time"? Would you want to make
it better if you really could? OR what do you think
has its strong points?
Driver" is an exceptional film. Scorsese and DeNiro
are at their very best, it's certainly Paul Schrader's
best script, Michael Chapman's photography is breathtaking,
and it's the great Bernard Herrmann's last score and
a brilliant one. Regarding the idea of disturbing, that's
what "Taxi Driver" is all about. Travis taking
Betsy to a porno movie on their first date is excruciatingly
disturbing. As to the ending of RT, with which you seem
to have a problem, I quite like. So, what's your problem
was wondering if it is a good idea to buy software for
making screenplays. It seems to be easier, they basically
have the format for you layed out, you just have to
write your story. Is that the way to go or writing it
from scratch a better choice?
think it's a waste of money. Screenplay format is very
simple and is simply four or five tab stops. Figuring
out what to write, then writing it well are the hard
parts, not the formatting.
another addition to the "disturbing films"
discussion, even though it's a bit late. While "Mr.
Smith Goes to Washington" isn't a disturbing movie
as a whole, that one scene where the "gangsters"
or whatever they were are beating up little kids, stealing
their papers and driving them off the road, and then
when they turn a fire hose on a parade, well, that was
the ending was really good, too. When they bring in
all the telegrams and Stewart doesn't show a reaction,
they just hold the suspense for what seems like minutes.
I mean, we all know they're going to be bad news, but
when he doesn't respond immediately, we start to wonder.
(in case you can't tell, I just rented it today)
think we've gone astray of actually disturbing. There
are some uncomfortable spots in many films, the "Mr.
Smith" examples being a few of them. "Disturbing"
is a different thing. In "Forbidden Games,"
a French film about WWII, a German plane strafes civilians
killing a 5-year-old girl's parents and her puppy. She
crawls out from beneath her dead parents, holding her
dead puppy, and a fat ugly woman grabs the girl and
throws her dead puppy off a bridge. That's disturbing.
Newsboys being run off their corners is not.
disturbing films? How about The Wall when Bob Geldof
shaves himself and cuts up his chest. I know you are
a Pink Floyd fan, what did you think of that film?
very disturbing is the Ken Russel film Tommy by the
Who. Ann Margaret rolling in baked beans? I can't believe
she won an Academy Award for that.
time no hear. I really disliked both of those films
and simply found them dull, not disturbing. And Ann-Magaret
did not win an Oscar for "Tommy," nor anything
else for that matter, although she was nominated for
"Carnal Knowledge" in 1971.
the topic of disscussion is disturbing scenes in films,
I must mention Alan Parker's Angel Heart.
The sex scene , which is intercut with scenes of blood
running down the walls and over the two in bed, and
images of the devil in black and the unknown man at
the parade, while Micky Rourke's participation suddenly
becomes slightly more fervent and violent.
is altogether a very unsettling scene, which is enhanced
by the lack of sound from the two in bed, and a strange
chorus of tribal music instead.
disturbing array of horror appeared while I witnessed
the paul Verhoven epic, "showgirls"........
Did you know that leonard Maltin has only given two
films 4 stars since '97 and they are spike lee's "4
little girls" and Lasse Hallström's "
the cider house rules".
suppose you must have heard that fact somewhere. I double-checked
it and it seems to be true, too. I won't argue with
Maltin's concept, either, as I don't think there's been
a great film in ten years. I saw "4 Little Girls"
and even though it's a powerful subject, I thought it
was kind of a crappy documentary. "The Cider House
Rules" just isn't a terrific story. That Tobey
Maguire and Charlize Theron end up screwing so quickly
after her husband leaves for war (I read John Irving's
account of the making of the film, "My Movie Business,"
which was interesting, and he explains that what was
14 years in the book became 14 months in the movie)
made me not like either of them. Also, Michael Caine's
scheme of making a fake diploma for Maguire so he can
take over the orphanage is just stupid -- he didn't
go to med school and he's going to get caught, fast.
I must also say that Caine's New England accent is preposterous.
It is very well-directed and well-photographed, however.
For me, there hasn't been a 4-star movie since "Unforgiven"
in 1992. Maltin only gives it 3-stars, and originally
only gave it 2 1/2, but unpgraded it. He gives "Titanic,"
though, 3 1/2-stars. I'd give it a BOMB. Anyone else
think that there's been a 4-star movie in the past ten
creepy films, have you seen "Santa Sangre"?
was years ago when I saw it, but I remember feelingvery
disturbed after viewing it.
the french film "Betty Blue" has some reallyun-settling
haven't seen either one, but I did hang out with Alejandro
Jodorowsky (who wrote and directed "Santa Sangre")
for an afternoon last year in Chicago. He's a very interesting
man, with a gorgeous young French girlfriend. We all
went to a Jewish Deli (Jodorowsky is Jewish, BTW) and
had corned beef sandwiches. His film "El Topo"
was sort of disturbing, too.
see all of this talk about Leonard Maltin's book of
reviews. Quite frankly, I'm completely unimpressed by
him. I received a copy of The Psychotronic Video Guide
for my birthday last year. This book is great and puts
Leonard to shame. It gives reviews of movies from almost
every genre and avoids most of the commercial/generic
films. The author, Michael Weldon, has in fact viewed
all of the movies that he reviewed.
but they're very different books. The Psychotronic Video
Guide has possibly 500 to 800 films listed (I'm just
guessing), whereas Maltin's book has 20,000. It's possible
to see 800 films, it's not possible to see 20,000 films.
I find Maltin's book to be the best general film reference
book as it's fairly complete (although it still doesn't
list my first film, which, considering it had a theatrical
release, really ought to be there). And, for the most
part, I generally agree with the reviews. But whether
or not I agree with a critic isn't my big issue, but
do they have valid reasons for their opinions? Maltin
is still a sucker for anything that made a lot of money
or won Oscars. For its purpose, though, it's a good
have been reading some messages and I now have knowledge
of a talk about disturbing films. Well, I just need
to get in on this conversation. Okay, here I go:
of all, I always thought that "In Cold Blood"
was pretty disturbing.
Tenant" and "A Clockwork Orange" were
know you do not like "American History X"
but most of the film, notably the end, were found to
me to be disturbing and unsettling.
scene in "What Ever Happened To Baby Jane"
where Jane is kicking the living hell out of her sister
Blanch and when she kills the maid right in front of
her eyes. That was pretty tense.
"M" with Peter Lorre was one of my top disturbing
films. I really admire the way it had an impact on me.
was disturbing on how the killers acted.
Texas Chainsaw Massacre" was just the weirdest
and creepiest lowbudget film that I experienced. When
they have Sally tied to the chair and when they torment
her, I just went, "geez".
last, I thought that "Single White Female"
was pretty sick, too. It was not a film that should
be taken 100% literally. I thought that the scene where
Jennifer Jason Leigh comes out of the bathroom, with
a new appearance, and when she confronts Bridget Fonda
who is taped down to a chair with her mouth taped shut
and everything was pretty disturbing. Not only that,
but when she talks to her as if everything was okay,
I thought it was odd and twisted.
Josh, is there any films that I have mentioned that
you agree with? If there aren't any, then why don't
you agree with them?
for you time,
Just . . ."
they're all good choices. The concept of disturbing
is bringing out interesting films. As a kid of 11 or
12, I was particularly disturbed by "Dead End"
and its depiction of poverty during the Depression,
particularly when they beat the crap out of the rich
kid just because he's rich.
you beat me to Freaks. "Lord of the Flies"
was creepy. Especially when Piggy gets crushed by the
rock. Also the scene in "The Omen" when the
girl hangs herself from the building. Its been awhile
but I think that is the same movie with the guy getting
decapped by a giant pane of glass.
although its a tad tacky "The Bad Seed" had
some good scenes between the girl and the gardener.
of unsettling I rented "Wit" this weekend
which was amazing.
agree, I thought "Wit" was very good and most
certainly unsettling. Christopher Lloyd was terrific
as the Oncologist. One line stuck with me for some reason.
The intern is taking her history and asks if she uses
stimulants? "Like what?" she asks. "Like
coffee," he says. "Oh, yes. Six to eight cups
a day, but I don't think that's immoderate." Meanwhile,
"The Bad Seed" was one of my favs as a kid,
and yes, all the scenes with the handyman (Henry Jones)
are great. He's telling her about going to the electric
chair and says, "They have little blue ones for
the boys, and little pink ones for the girls."
And the mother's realization that the half-moon shapes
on the dead boy's hands and face are from the heel of
Patty McCormack's shoe as she hit him while he tried
to get out of the water. "Lord of the Flies"
was another film that really got me as a kid of maybe
14, that I found very disturbing. And I also agree that
the nurse saying, "It's all for you, Damien,"
then hanging herself was totally creepy. Excellent choices.
few years ago when RT came out, only Hitchcock had attempted
real time. Recently though, real time seems to be all
the rage. Showtime did 12 angry men, HBO made "Conspiracy",
"Timecode" used it, Richard Linklater has
a real time film called "Tape" coming out,
and Joel Schumacher has "Phone Booth". With
all this, do you think the technique has become played
out? would you as a viewer be interested in seeing real
time films anymore, or are you just annoyed by it?
the only ones to do it without cuts so the real time
is actually real time are "Rope" and "Running
Time." "12 Angry Men" isn't in real time
as there is some time lapse during it. "Conspiracy"
is a remake of a German film called "The Wannsee
Conference," and though both are in real time,
they're both done with cuts, so who cares? Cinematically,
as far as I'm concerned, being in real time isn't an
issue and doesn't mean anything unless it has no cuts.
disturbing and unsettling I've got to say "Bring
Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia". Warren Oats looses
his woman, becomes a murderer, gets Garcia's head, looses
his mind, starts talking to the head, is drunk all the
time, gets no money, and then is machine gunned.
Unitll Dark" is another pretty good one. Alan Arkin
is absolutly evil in that picture! And what about Kubrick's
"Lolita"? The idea that James Mason wants
to off his wife just so he can be with her daughter
is bad enough. Then, after she does herself in they
do start a relationship. But that's not all. I'm always
shocked when Mason finds that Lolita (the very sexy
Sue Lyons) was with Quilty (Peter Sellers, who's a total
creep) durring the whole time that Mason felt she was
only his. It suggests that Lolita is just as much a
perv as Mason's character, and she's 15! What a shocker.
a good one.
choices, although neither one disturbed me. I always
felt that 1962 was just too early to do "Lolita"
justice. Instead of the big seduction, we have James
Mason doing half-assed slapstick gags with a folding
bed. My good buddy, Gary Marvis, who was the co-production
designer on "If I Had a Hammer," had a fling
with Sue Lyon when he first got to Hollywood in 1975-76.
Getting back to disturbing, how about the scene in "Platoon"
when Charlie Sheen makes the Vietnamese man dance by
shooting at his feet, then Kevin Dillon crushes the
guy's head with the butt of his rifle. Truly awful.
Or when Tom Berenger shoots the old lady, then threatens
to kill the little girl.
Josh and the gang.
about Freaks? I think it was directed by Todd Browning
a long time ago. That one never sat well with me. That
guy with no arms or legs who rolled around with a knife
in his mouth was just damn strange.
I just suggested "Freaks" yesterday, so I
agree. The pinhead girls are pretty disturbing, too.
you think Leonard Maltin really watched every movie
in his movie guide? I always just assumed he let the
publisher put his name on the book (for a large sum
of money) and a team of ghost writers wrote most of
have you ever wanted to change a script after you've
copyrighted it? Would you need to copyright it again
if you did?
Maltin first started his book in 1969, following up
on Steven Sheuer's book (which had been around since
1958 using the same format and four-star rating system),
I think he had seen all of those films, which was far
less than there are now. Since then he has hired a team
of other reviewers to assist him and they're all listed
as editors or contributors on the front page. If I'm
not mistaken, Maltin still reviews most of the "big"
pictures. Most of the low-budget, horror, and sci-fi
films are reviewed by Bill Warren, who recently published
"The 'Evil Dead' Companion." Regarding copyrights,
you certainly can change it after it's been copyright,
and if they're not substantial changes, it doesn't really
matter. But you must state of the front page that the
script is copyright and put the little c in the circle,
or at least like this (c) (MS Word will make a little
c in parentheses into the proper mark). Stating your
copyright is very important.
E-mail: upon request
I'd like to offer a few suggestions for the *disturbing*
Her To Heaven" with Gene Tierney's character encouraging
her handicapped brother-in-law to swim, and then allowing
him to drown, and then when she, pregnant, puts her
toe into that carpet edge at the top of the stairs.
The first time I saw that, I screamed to myself-- No!
surely she isn't going to....dear god, she's gonna do
it! And it's revealed finally her behavior is rooted
in a sick obsession with her father's love.
about Bette Davis in that film with Karl Malden (Josh
-you know the title?) where she takes up her sister's
identity. That scene where she ponders how she's going
to mask her handwriting...and then we see her pick up
that hot poker and sizzle her own hand. Oh, and then
in another scene the camera stays on her face as she
lets that Great Dane maul a man to death.
"Glory" when Matthew Broderick's officer orders
a disciplinary whipping of Denzel Washington's union
soldier; the camera pans over his shoulder to reveal
dozens of old lashing scars. I thought the audience
would be shown mercy and the scene would end there,
but no, we see a close up (as I recall) of Washington's
tear stained face as he is whipped...once again.
this is disturbing to ME, but not in the way you all
but how about "Manhattan", where Woody Allen's
42 yr. old character Isaac has a sexual relationship
with Mariel Hemingway's 17 yr. old Tracy.
I think I was probably around 17 when I saw that on
t.v. and I was shocked at how it was handled. I kept
thinking, good lord, what are we supposed to think of
Isaac here? Josh, do you recall any pubic backlash when
that film was first released in 1979?
(Of course, as I've mentioned before, I have this foible
of regarding gossip of actors and directors when I consider
a film. So when Allen ends up in real life with the
Sun Ye scandal, and I heard of Gene Tierney's (supposed)
troubled deal with her father, I got all the more "disturbed"
at the irony of their work...coincidence though it most
haven't seen "Leave Her to Heaven" since I
was about twelve, so I can't really remember it, other
than Gene Tierney looked sort of spectacular (for which
the great Leon Shamroy won the Oscar that year, 1945,
for Best Color Cinematography). The Bette Davis/Karl
Malden picture you're referring to is "Dead Ringer,"
which was indeed creepy. Plenty of other Bette Davis
pictures could go into this category, too, as she was
the queen of disturbing performances -- let's not forget
one of my favorites, "The Little Foxes," where
Ms. Davis just sits there as her husband has a heart
attack and dies on the stairs. I agree as well with
that scene of Denzel Washington being whipped, which
stays on his close-up for the whole whipping. I still
think that was Washington's best performance of his
career. Lastly, when "Manhattan" came out
in 1979 no one really commented on Woody Allen being
with a 17-year old as it just seemed like a plot device
at the time. It was, as far as I'm concerned, however,
the beginning of the end for Woody Allen as a filmmaker.
He took his fame, fortune, and Oscars from "Annie
Hall" so seriously that he was never able to make
an unself-conscious, legitimately funny movie again.
To add another film to the disturbing list, "Who'll
Stop the Rain," where Ray Sharkey and Richard Masur
are torturing Michael Moriarity, burning his hand on
the stove and injecting him with heroin.