Hey Josh :)
thought of you as I was watching the news here in L.A.,
they said that Medford got it's first snow. So, how
are you liking the real change in weather? I bet it's
just gorgeous. I loved your comparison between Oregonians
and Los Angelenos lol. Very true. Nice to see you got
some very cute kitties..a whole brood. Did you adopt
them all at the same time?
You know, I was thinking how funny it would be to see
you and Bruce do a Siskel and Ebert type thing. I'd
love to see you guys in a lively discussion on films.
The faire lately seems to be more dismal than ever.
Tell Bruce to read his fan mail..I sent him several
weeks ago lol. Fanalysis was a hoot!
I adopted all three at the same time from the Humane
Society. The kitties are all sisters, and they happily
sleep on top of each other, but they'll also happily
bite each other's tails. The problem with Bruce and
I doing a review show is that neither one of us has
the slightest interest in watching new movies. I'd rather
watch the snow fall than anything coming out of Hollywood
now. They can't even pull off a run-of-the-mill film
like "Men of Honor" anymore.
the subject of the Aussie film "Chopper" -
you haven't missed anything, Josh. It is a pile of absolute
trash. It has no story, no plot and not an ounce of
structure. The main protagonist is a violent criminal
who is supposed to be likeable and it doesn't work.
Lead actor Eric Bana was a comedian and was chosen for
the role because of his impersonation skills, not because
he can act. His performance won him an Australian Film
Institute award for Best Actor which beautifully sums
up the state of the Australian film industry today (it's
OK, I'm an Aussie). Now that Bana the "local boy"
has been chosen for a "Blockbuster Hollywood"
film role we are all supposed to assume that he has
"made it" and the world will be his oyster,
just like "Australia's own" Russell Crowe
and Mel Gibson (who aren't Australian, by the way).
know, it's sad, too, because for a while there Australia
was making really terrific films. But all the Aussie
directors immigrated to Hollywood and they turned into
hacks. What the hell happened to both George Millers?
Bruce Beresford was doing fine work down there like
"Breaker Morant," then came to the U.S. to
do shit like "King David" and "A Good
Man in Africa." The same goes for Peter Weir. And
now a good film from Australia is nonsense like "Chopper."
E-mail: ya already have it
mean such tributes as "dr delaney", cos sharon
delaney is a friend of the actors and the head of the
of the official xena fanclub. fanfiction is mentioned,
the fans wanting season 7 is mentioned as is the fans
hate of spoilers. thanx again 4 answering me, bye 4
those things. Well, they were all in the script. Ted
being a better Xena is undoubtedly due to Ted and not
me, too. I'm glad you liked the episode. I thought it
was just okay, personally.
was just curious to know if you liked the show south
park and what you think of trey parker and matt stones
humor. also, when you've had someone edit your films,
what program are they using? i've been working with
the avid meridians all this quarter at college and was
wondering if they are still the industry standard. later,
worked on Avid, Lightworks, and D-Vision. Avid still
seems to be the industry standard, but things change
pretty rapidly these days. Bruce Campbell and his wife
Ida just got Final Cut Pro, which looks like a cool
system. It doesn't much matter to me as I don't run
the software, I just point and say, "Cut there,"
then the editor makes the cut. As I was discussing with
Ida yesterday, just because you can use an editing software
sure as hell doesn't make you an editor. Editors have
a million little tricks for speeding up and slowing
down the action or dialog that have nothing to do with
software. As I recommended to Ida, a good book on the
subject is "On Film Editing" by Edward Dmytryk.
It's more about why and where to make the cuts, not
E-mail: u already have it
week i told u i was just about 2 see ur last xena epp.
i saw it on sunday and needed to tell u how great it
was! it was sooo funny, i think ted did a better job
as playing xena this time, do u think this was down
2 good directing? there were also alot of "fan
tributes" were u told about this or did u put them
in, and did any of the actors notice?
thanx sooooo much for sharing ur talents with us
my eps I'd say all the good things are due to my direction.
Just kidding. So, what specific "fan tributes"
are you referring to and I'll tell you if they were
in the script or improvised?
the Coen brothers have never even read "Homer's
Odyssey". "O Brother Where Art Thou"
is ranked the 166th best film on http://www.imdb.com.
"The 39 Steps" is ranked 238! Unless Joel
and Ethan are constantly voting for their own films,
the public must like this crap. So I guess the state
of today's movies will never change if this kind of
stuff is popular.
I think you should give "O Brother" a rent.
I don't know if you know this or not, but in one of
the final scenes there is an exact recreation of "The
Evil Dead" cabin.Seeing that gave me the chills.
That whole thing was more of a comment than a question,
so I got one for ya. If Alfred Hitchcock had directed
one of your films where do you think his cameo would
be? I was just curious because this question was brought
up on a "JAWS" message board recently. I'm
still trying to spot Hitch in "The 39 Steps".
not much for questions like, "What if Hitchcock
directed your films . . ." But he didn't direct
my films, I did. I do make my own funky little appearances
in some of them. And, as hard as I try, I don't remember
Hitch's walk-through in "The 39 Steps." They're
usually right near the beginnings of his films, though,
just to get them out of the way.
work sucks my ass.
you're confused. It's your mom that sucks my ass.
like the comparisome of story structure to joke structure.
In the book, "Phantoms in the Brain" the author
uses jokes as one of his tools to test the extent of
people's mental disorders; if they get the joke, at
least that part of their brain is working okay. He also
explains that most jokes work by leading the author
along one path, and at the punchline, revealing a twist
that causes the events to be reinterpreted. This twist,
although unexpected must still make sense in terms of
the proceeding events. I think that plot twists and
surprises in good movies have to work the same way to
avoid the "god in the machine" syndrome. How
do you know if you're doing too much "god in the
Ellison wrote in one of his essays that the only thing
worth writing about is people. This makes sense to me
with Horror/Sci-fi in which the best ones focus on the
effect of the monster/technology/crazy situation, etc...
on the people. I think that's why I've never liked Star
Trek, you just don't get into the characters that much,
it's always about the space gizmos.
mentioned the Simpsons, at it's best it's an amazing
show. Do you have a favorite episode?
Have you seen the Batman animated series (the original
ones, not the future guy one)? It's as far away from
those rubber-nipple movies as you can imagine; interesting
heroes, bad guys with clear motivations, great voices
and artwork, and you actually root for the hero.
heard a commercial for the Planet of the Apes that scared
me worse than the Sixth Sense - they touted the DVD
as "The most advanced DVD ever!". Never mind
that the movie sucked ass, you can get a cool DVD with
lots of neato extras! Anyways, I just had to get that
off my chest; that trend sucks.
the way, I'm addicted to your site and read it every
think the comparison between story structure and joke
structure is a solid one. I honestly feel that the people
who fight me about story structure really are emissaries
of the devil, the representatives of evil dark forces
that want to take over humanity. As evil takes over,
the first thing it does is ruin all the good stuff like
movies. Anyway, no I haven't seen the "Batman"
animated series, although it's been recommended to me
before. I just don't give the slightest crap about super
heroes. I didn't care about them when I was a kid, and
care even less now. And of course Harlan Ellison is
right, as he frequently is, that people are there really
is to write about. If your character stinks, your story
stinks. Regarding "The Simpsons," there are
many episodes I love -- when Lisa becomes a vegetarian
and they make her watch a school film about eating meat
(Troy McClure says, "Come on, Jimmy, let's go see
the killing floor, although it's not really a floor,
it's more of a grate for organic material to sluice
through"), or the ep where Troy McClure stars in
the musical version of "Planet of the Apes"
("I hate every monkey from chimpan-A to chimpanzee").
I really love when Homer argues with his brain--"I
don't like you and you don't like me, so let's just
get through this and I'll go back to killing you with
you miss Harlan Ellison's Star Trek episode, then?
would just like to say that two years ago if you had
asked me my favorite movie, I would have rattled off
Die Hard or Pulp Fiction, which is sad to name those
films being as I am a film major. You, along with the
film theory classes I've taken, helped opened my eyes.
I took your advice of watching as many movies as possible
in addition to what I watched for my classes. One sad
thing from doing that was seeing the gamut of a professional's
work rise and fall, like Kurosawa and Frankenheimer,
in the course of a weekend. Long ago I was a Coen brothers
fan but now I just wish I could get my fucking money
back from watching and buying their movies. A friend
took me to see O' Brother and I still felt ripped off,
did I mention he paid for the tickets. We were actually
apart of a survey but for some odd reason the website
that posts all the comments neglected to show my unfavorable
Thank you for your website.
you ask me the current state of Hollywood is due to
the fact in the rise of Scientology.
Scientology is to blame. The idea of joining a religion
started by a half-assed sci-fi writer, entirely disrespected
by his peers, seems pretty absurd. Anyone ever try reading
L. Ron Hubbard's sci-fi? He makes guys like Mack Reynolds
and Jack Finney look like Shakespeare and Goethe. Scientology
makes the Church of Latter Day Saints look ancient.
I ask about your work, I have some questions about other
films. Have you seen the impressive Aussie film Chopper?
What did you think? Eric Bana is taking America by storm
with him being cast in the Incredible Hulk. Do you think
he is a talented actor? I read that letter from that
Barney fellow, and am inclined to agree that you should
use Robert R. Shafer in your next project. He is a great
actor, who has had roles in Echo Park, Hollywood Shuffle,
Mr. Atlas, The Corporate, Finding Kelly and the hilarious
Psycho Cop Returns. He has also had guest spots in Becker
and Malcolm in the Middle. Now, are you friends with
Bill Lustig and Scott Spiegel? Do you think Scotty has
directing talent? Are you a fan of the Maniac Cop trilogy?
I am making a low-budget feature entitled Old School.
How would I go about getting permission to use songs
in the film. I would like the rights to use The Joker
by Steve Miller Band. The film's budget in around $10,000.
Is it possible to get the rights? What is your upcoming
project and who have you in mind to star?
have not seen any of those contemorary films you mentioned,
nor am I the slightest bit interested in seeing them.
"Chopper" sounds awful to me. And I'd have
my fingernails torn out before I ever see "The
Incredible Hulk." Meanwhile, I used to be both
friends and partners with Scott Spiegel, but we haven't
spoken in years. I didn't care for either of the films
he's directed so far. I've known Bill Lustig for years
-- Scott and I rewrote his film "Hit List"
in 1988 -- and I'd say he hasn't got the slightest shred
of filmmaking talent. As has been said of Bill, he really
cares about all the movies ever made, except his own.
As far as getting bthe rights to a song, you need to
contact a clearance house, like Harry Fox in NY, although
there are several of them. I'd guess the rights to Steve
Miller's "The Joker" will cost as much or
more than your whole movie. In 1990 when we finished
"Lunatics," they wanted $75,000 for Frank
Sinatra's recording of "Strangers in the Night"
and that's at least ten years older than "The Joker."
agree with Kimberley...she sounds intelligent. Has anyone
mentioned yet how embarrassing George Clooney was as
Ulysses? I think Clooney signed a pact with the devil
to be a movie star.
response to you regarding Howards's End--this was a
few days ago. I liked it too but I didnt think it was
as good as Remains of the Day which I thought had alot
more to say, especially about class issues and the German
appeasement subplot added an eerie untertone.
when are you getting some kittens? PLease post pix when
you get them!
still haven't seen "O Brother," but the whole
concept offends me. The title is stolen from Preston
Sturges's film "Sullivan's Travels," wherein
a film comedy director really wants to make a serious
movie, very much like "The Grapes of Wrath,"
entitled "O Brother, Where Art Thou." For
the Coens to make a comedy out of it means they didn't
understand it. Anyway, although I liked "Remains
of the Day," I don't think it's half the film that
"Howard's End" is. I think both Anthony Hopkins
and Emma Thompson are better in "Howard's End,"
but most of all I think it's a very powerful, highly
ironic story, and irony really interests me. Irony is
a difficult dramatic concept and E.M. Forester weaves
it through the story beautifully. I really do think
it's a terrific film, and very much worth seeing again.
I've liked "Howard's End" better each time
I've seen it, and "Remains of the Day" just
didn't hold up for me the second time.
have gotten the kittens and here are their pictures.
"Pile O' Kitties"
came across your web site, so thought I would drop you
a line...Seems you have moved out to the country!
all is well
name just came up last night when Bruce Campbell and
I were discussing how many good DPs there are in New
Zealand, given it's such a small place. For the readers,
Simon photographed the last episode of "Xena"
that I directed. For the record, I truly enjoyed working
with you. I hope we get another chance to work together
in the future. All the best.
comes in part as a response to the remarks posted by
Frank. I've been skimming through the recent exchanges
related to the Coen brothers and, to the best of my
ability to discern, the discussion had been addressing
their poorly drawn characterizations. Perhaps inadvertently,
though, Frank does raise a matter of some academic worth.
I agree the Coens do on occasion manage to provide striking
visuals, but so does any tourist shop with a rack of
scenic postcards. That doesn't mean if I thumb through
a series of those postcards that I will have a well-told
story in my hands. (Actually, relative to most flicks
these days, I might.) I need more from a film than a
glimpse of an interesting visual to make it worth my
time and money. Applicable vision is all well and good,
but it would be nice if the Coens had any sense of what
the hell they're looking at and why they're trying to
apply it to anything.
that, I'll add another issue that kicks me out of their
films (and not because I have any personal invective
directed toward them, mind, but simply because their
work is currently being discussed in this forum). Whatever
merit their films may have for me tends to be lost in
how frequently they opt for scenes of gratuitous violence
in lieu of actual character or story development. Now,
for anyone who may want to come at me on the topic of
violence, please note I have spent many hours exhuming
shallow graves, pulling dead babies out of filthy crawlspaces,
and even assisting in the autopsy bays. I am not a squeamish
woman by any means, nor do I have any illusions about
the state of the world. And perhaps that's why I've
particularly come to have no room for pointless depictions
of violence; in all honesty, the last thing I usually
want in watching a movie is my "drudgery and struggle"
even loosely brought to the screen. Nevertheless, if
I am going to be asked by any filmmaker to sit through
a beating, a murder, a volley of gunfire during what
little time I have for escapism, then I damned well
expect that filmmaker to give me a reason to endure
it along with the characters. I have no problem with
suffering so long as it remains apposite and meaningful
and, if I'm really fortunate, ultimately cathartic.
...Which leads right back to arguing for rock-solid
characterization and where filmmakers like the Coens
frequently fail for me. The example of Frances McDormand's
character confronting William Macy for the first time
demonstrates they had no real story, no real plot --
they had to suspend characterization in order to keep
things moving. Why the hell should I, as the audience,
be asked to invest anything into a character when the
filmmaker obviously hasn't?
I digress. The beatings in most of the Coen films always
leave me queasy because the violence, besides seeming
pointless and hateful, comes across as having been a
vaguely masturbatory experience for them. We're watching
it not because the film requires it, but because it's
what they personally like to look at. They put what
gets their rocks off ahead of the characters, ahead
of any attempts at storytelling, and certainly ahead
of the audience. Putting a character through a scene
simply for the sake of creating a splashy visual (violent
or no) or to burn through a little of the effects budget
is -not- the same as telling a story. Ditto contriving
artificial instances in a script to set up said splashy
visual. And, frankly, if you're not looking for a story,
then save yourself some money and snag a flipbook of
that this is anything that hasn't already been said
here any number of times. Besides, based on the spelling,
grammar, and coherency of what has been posted here
in defense of their work, it becomes readily apparent
for whom the Coen films are intended and argues quite
eloquently (however unintentionally) for any further
points I might make regarding to what their vision might
do forgive the length of this response and its lack
of a question for the director, Josh.
go, girlfriend. As an example, could there possibly
be anything more extraneous than the last 30-40 minutes
of "Barton Fink"? Suddenly, all the wallpaper
is peeling off, everything's on fire, and everybody
is shooting everybody with shotguns? Until then we had
been in a very poorly conceived Hollywood story. But
we really needed some visuals, I guess. Joel and Ethan
Coen are nice enough guys, but their films, just like
Woody Allen's films of the past ten years, are so badly
written that beautiful photography and all-star casts
don't really help anything. The Coen bros. have never
created a decent, well-drawn character in any of their
films. Period. If I don't have a fully-formed character
to pay attention to, I have nothing to pay attention
to. Then I may as well be looking at a pile of pretty
postcards, as Kimberley suggests.
**Also, this whole argument that the simple folk only
want entertainment is nonsense.**
may be your OPINION that it's nonsense, but from my
observations, that's very much what we folks want.
I go to see a movie, all I care about is whether I enjoy
it or not, and I feel the vast majority of people feel
the same way. I can tell you for a fact practically
every person I know could care less about how a film
is put together, they just care whether or not they
enjoy it. And there is no 'ONE' designed formula to
produce enjoyment in a film. What may please you may
bore me, and vice versa.
of the films you have critisized and claimed a failure
because of the writing structure, I along with millions
of others have loved, also many of the films you have
mentiones as your favorites, I've felt were worthless.
There's no 'definate' definition as to how to make an
entertaining film. You may have certain things you want
and need to make a film an enjoyment to yourself, but
that's just your personal opinion, not a FACT that is
a given for everyone. If you standards were the norm,
how come so many love films that lack your structure....it's
because we have DIFFERENT standards than you.
all were talking about here is opinions. I don't speak
for anyone but me, and neither do you. You don't know
what everyone wants any better than anyone else. Some
people are only looking for knuckle-headed entertainment,
while others are looking for something more. Is it really
that big of an offense that there is one harsh critic
of movies left in the world? When I was a kid I couldn't
wait to read Pauline Kael's reviews every month and
I certainly didn't always agree with her, but I was
always interested in her reasons for liking or not liking
a film. When I say that "Election" for example
falls apart in its third act and doesn't follow through
on its stated themes, I explain my reasons. What I get
in return is people saying bullshit, I'm an asshole,
and "that's your opinion." You're Goddamn
right it's my opinion. And I have reasons and logic
behind my opinions. That the simple folk just want entertainment,
well, who cares? Then read the reviews in Cosmopolitan,
they're always positive. If you want to discuss films
on a slightly more intelligent level, then come here.
have been looking all over for "TSNKE" and
"RT" on DVD. I heard that they have a killer
Commentary Track on them and they are worth buying just
for that, not only the film but the Commentary, too.
Do you have any suggestions? Is it out of print? Or
disturbing films, I just have to say that David Cronenberg's
"Dead Ringers" is quite disturbing, also depressing.
The whole film was creepy and had that throughout the
entire film. Cronenberg did a good job with that. How
about "Requiem For A Dream"? It is Aronofsky's
follow up to "Pi". Tidbits of "Breakdown"
are disturbing as well. The whole bit where the kidnappers
bring their Kurt Russels wife, to their home, we found
out that the main kidnapper is married as has a son.
That was disturbing, also it was an original tidbit
that was never used in any film that I have ever seen
or would see. It had a good ring to it. Seen these films,
Josh? Agree or disagree?
you click on either TSNK or "Running Time"
on the front page you go to amazon.com and can buy both
films. Or you can go to many other places online. They
don't seem to have them at Best Buy anymore, though.
I do agree that "Dead Ringers" was creepy,
but I was bored by the end. I thought Jeremy Irons was
very good. I didn't see the other films.
am a student currently studying a media production course
at college, and would be very greatful if you could
tell me the steps i need to take to become a film director.
It would be a great help if you could include any relevant
info, such as required qualifications, eqipment needed-
anything at all!!! Thank you very much- with your help
i might just pass the course!!!
reading some books, I have a recommended
Blade". That's a great film. I'd give it 4 stars.
It sports some of the best acting all around that I've
seen in a long time. The direction is strong, but definately
not overbearing (like the discussions going on about
self conscious camera angles and such). The story is
a simple one, but definately not boring or stupid. There
are also wonderfull moments of real humor in it. You
never feel like Thornton pulled a Spielberg and said
"Ok, we've had 30 minutes of seriousness, time
for a cute joke to keep it from getting too heavy."
Even in the end with the murder, nothing goes too far
to the point of becoming gratuitous. And that is a very
hard thing to overcome with a picture, particularly
one that has such a tricky scene as a retarted man that's
taken alot of flack for 130 minutes that's going to
kill a character that everyone really hates.
also scenes that will forever live on in my mind. When
Thornton goes back to his house to confront his father,
it really is an eerie feeling one gets. Especially when
he goes out to the shed and we see a shot of the hole
in the ground that he used to sleep in as a boy. Or
what about the amazingly uncomfortable scene when Dwight
Yoakam gets drunk, invites all his friends over to play
in the band, and infront of them and his entire family,
gets drunk and beligerant, and proceeds to kick everyone
out before getting abusive with his grilfrind and then
being hurt by the little boy. This whole scene was as
realistic as something from a Cassavettes film. John
Ritter also stood out as the gay friend that is always
around, but not really of anyuse to the family. Thornton
deserved an oscar for his portrail. And J.T. Walsh is
absolutely freaky and gross as the perverted inmate.
Everyone is a standout.
ending left me feeling that the characters really were
alive out there somewhere.
Blade" is a truely great film. That's easily the
greatest film produced in the last ten years.
a good one.
I don't think it's a great film. I saw the short film,
"They Call it a Slingblade," first, and the
feature really seemed like the short exapnded out in
all directions. Also, Billy Bob's performance seemed
very self-conscious to me. The whole thing was okay,
but it didn't seem anywhere near great. It doesn't even
seem to be terribly memorable, either.
anyone who's utter disdain at the Coen's amazing visuals,
and off beat plotting (which you obviously don't fully
comprehend) and apparent lack of your fucking 1-2-3
structure, I just have one thing to say,
they have succeeded for a reason, they are talented,
they have an applicable vision, not one good idea every
ten years, and the fact that they have slipped into
the mainstream with their style, must make alot of you
who believe your drudgery and struggle laced with your
boring fucking formulaic filmaking styles is more worthy
of being brought to screen.
The second you can make a film, not one that good, but
make a film nonethless, then you can criticize, and
no mr becker, just because you've made one or two films
doesnt mean you are off the hook.
Oh by the way, running time sucked ass.
I think the simpleminded dullards of the world need
to have their say, too. Go ahead and preach the gospel
of stupidity, it's a difficult job, but someone has
to do it.
a comment on your enjoyment of films because of the
so-called story structure. You can tell me if you think
this opinionmay be accurate or not.
my opinion, I feel you may look at films a tad differently
that just your everyday, ordinary person. You are a
writer yourself, therefore you see more and different
things when you see a film. Similar to how Renee O'Connor(after
she directed) claimes she saw the episodes differently(from
a totally different perspective) than she used to and
what the ordinary fans do.
probably know your story structure like the back of
your hand, so you can tell in a film if it follows it
the other hand, most ordinary folks(like myself) don't
have a clue what a story structure even is, so we certainly
aren't going to be looking for it when we watch a film,
and we aren't going to notice if it's lacking or not.
Most ordinarly folks culd care less about a 'story structure',
but rather are just concerned as to whether the film
is entertaining or not.
look at "Fast Times At Ridgemont High". I've
never read your story structure, so I have no idea whether
or not 'Fast Times...' followed it or not. I would assume
however that it didn't simply because there wasn't much
of a story at all. Just a group of kids that they followed
in highscool....jumping from one to the next with several
different stories going on at the same time.
could care less about the structure of the story, all
i cared about was that I liked the movie. I found it
entertaining. Millions loved it.
point is that I feel you being a writer yourself look
at films from a different perspective to normal folks.
Where you may look at more in depth things, like the
writing or structure, us normal folks are just concerned
about whether or not we are entertained or not. Kind
of like a parallel to an ex-football coach sitting down
and watching a game with just regualr fans. He'll be
looking at the game from a totally different perspective
than the normal fans.
you agree with that assessment.
I don't agree. I've been putting up with this nonsense
my whole life. Movies have to be the only subject where
knowing a lot about it is used against you. Would you
say to a mechanic, "You know too much about engines
to enjoy a smooth car ride" or to an air conditioner
repairman, "You know too much about AC to enjoy
a cool room"? It's just silly. Also, this whole
argument that the simple folk only want entertainment
is nonsense. As Sean Penn said on Inside the Actor's
Studio, "Movies are too important of a medium to
only be about entertainment. If all you want is entertainment,
get yourself an eightball and a hooker." "Fast
Times at Ridgemont High" happens to be a very well-observed
script (and Cameron Crowe's best script), with very
believable characters and situations. No, there isn't
much of a plot, but there doesn't have to be if you
know what story you're telling and who it's about. Each
of the main characters does go through a dramatic arc
-- Spiccoli actually does his homework. If his character
hadn't been set up as well as he was, him finally understanding
the school lesson wouldn't have been funny. Knowing
more about a subject does not decrease your enjoyment
of it, you just understand why things are working or
not working. A good film is not an artistic mystery,
as many people would like to believe, it's a craft.
Cynthia E. Jones
Glad to hear that you've gone rural like myself. Now
I can comment on this whole "hick" mentality
thing that the Coens (and many other filmmakers) seem
to believe--and where are they from, anyway?
six months in a small town, where blue-collar jobs rule
and people have dirt under their fingernails, I've learned
that rural people aren't dumb. They have less money,
generally, yes, due to layoffs in local factories because
labor is cheaper in foreign countries. They don't care
about things that people in L.A. care about: liposuction;
new, expensive clothes that last three months before
they're 'useless;' Hollywood drivel...You know, crap.
No. Instead, they care about their families, their jobs,
the repairs that need to be done on the car, the phone
bill that might not get paid, or the Christmas presents
for their four children. They are like most of America...just
'plain' folks. And living here with them has taught
me that wearing cool clothes and listening to the 'right'
music or being up on the latest crap coming out of LA
or NY doesn't matter. At all. That's not stupidity,
not by a long shot.
another note, I saw "October Sky," a well-crafted
film, which you recommended on your site. Not bad. And
now that I live here...I understand it a lot more than
if I'd seen it in California.
for continuing to rock,
thoughts exactly. It's now such a pleasure to go to
gatherings and not discuss weekend grosses, who's about
to do which film, or what assholes this agent or that
executive is. Here people discuss things like the terrible
draught last summer and the hope for a lot of snow this
winter; the mountain lion someone saw and shot; or simply
world or local events. It's also a real pleasure to
hang around with adults that act like adults, that aren't
pretending to be hip and clued into youthful desires.
I've honestly come to believe that you can't have a
real sense of humour until you're at least thirty because
you simply don't have enough information to get the
for the heads up on the false rumor about Ted. Weird.
I just assumed it was true since its on his credits
at the Movie database site. I'll let everyone know...
I think the quintessential example of idiocy in a Coen
Bros film is the scene in Fargo when one of the officers
(I think maybe it was Marge's retarded partner) questions
a guy who saw Buscemi's character in a bar. He asks
him what he looks like and the guy says he was "funny
looking." The officer says "funny looking
how?" He replies "Oh just in a general sort
of way." END OF CONVERSATION!! I mean this is a
guy who saw a triple homicide suspect first hand and
the officer is satisfied with "funny looking"
as a description??? Anyway, enough ranting. ha ha.
you see yourself filming a public domain story/novel/play?
I know that sounds weird but I work at a high school
and there is alot of interest in film versions of the
classics, or stuff that wouldnt be likely to come out
good example of why "Fargo" is not a 4-star
movie. Let's face it, even in a small town, cops are
not a naive group of people. There are only 2000 people
here in Jacksonville and I still wouldn't mess around
with the local cops. "Fargo" is an okay movie
-- certainly the Coen's best film -- but it sure ain't
great. Regarding PD works of fiction, no I don't have
much interest. If I never see another Jane Austen or
Henry James adaptation it will be fine with me. I really
just want to do my own work.
read your article on leaving L.A., and I found it extremely
enlightening. I am thinking about moving out to L.A.
because that's where I was told the business was. I
recently graduated from film school at NYU, and I moved
home in Cleveland to save up some money to head out
west. So it's that corrupted. I have no opportunities
here in Cleveland, so what can I do?
say, stay in Cleveland and make your own independent
films there. Take advantage of knowing your location
and the people there. You will not be able to make the
films you want to make -- if you get to make any films
at all -- in Hollywood. As people in the film business
love to tell everyone else, making movies is a long
series of compromises, until you ultimately end up with
a piece of crap. Even if you can only scrape together
a little bit of money, you're much better off doing
the films you want, without compromises. The chances
are 99.9 to .1 that if you go to Hollywood you'll either
end up bailing out or settling for doing some job you
don't really want to do -- that's how all those post
jobs get filled -- then kidding yourself that you're
in show business. Working in a lab or a post house,
you're in show business just as much as the guy that
shovels the elephant shit at the circus.
we're talking about recent good movies and the use of
structure I have to throw in "The Red Violin".
It had a non-traditional overall structure but the individual
stories had a normal three act structure.
surprisingly, it was made outside the U.S. and didn't
win any oscars. Has there been an oscar given to a actual
good movie in the last twenty years?
the site and movie talk.
started watching "The Red Violin," but got
distracted or something and didn't actually watch it.
In the last twenty years I'd say that "Platoon"
in 1986 deserved its Oscar and "Unforgiven"
in 1992. For me, that's it.
watching Ben-Hur again tonight I was looking for information
about the movie and found out that there was actually
a sequel to the book called Ben-Hur:The Odyssey. It
was just published last year by some guy I never heard
of (it's his only book). When I tried to get some more
information on the book, all the search engines came
up with lists containing "Ben-Hur" and "2001
A Space Odyssey." Now my morbid curiosity is piqued
and I was wondering if you've ever read it. Is it any
good (or any good for a laugh) or should I just forget
that a sequel ever existed?
who cares if some bozo just wrote a sequel to "Ben-Hur"?
It certainly wasn't written by General Lew Wallace,
former governor of the Arizona Territories, so what's
the difference? It's like that "Gone With the Wind"
sequel that came out about ten years ago. It's a completely
worthless genre, the unnecessary sequel not by the original
in your opinion, are movies supposed to do? Obviously
the majority of movies out there today are designed
to make money, but what's the general purpose of films?
To entertain seems to be the easiest answer, but is
there something much deeper?
about more specifically-what, in your mind, are your
movies supposed to do? Inform the audience? Alter their
perspective? Maybe even just to provide an escape? Is
there any one intention that links the majority of films?
say to catch us up in their spell and transport us to
somewhere else. I don't care what a film is about, who's
in it, or if it has any deeper message (although I prefer
it if it does), I just never want to be aware that I'm
sitting there watching a film. That's it.
completely agree with you in regards to the curent state
of hollywood. It's a damn shame that agents, lawyers,
and suits with MBAs run the business, and believe that
they "know" exactly what audiences want to
see. I am currently getting a taste of this first hand,
because I work for a Warner Bros. based company. It
should be no surprise to anyone that our development
slate is just plain sad. Nothing of worth or value will
come of any of the 13 scripts that we plan to greenlight.
The sadest part is that crap only starts with the material.
The powers that be dictate that about 30 actors are
considered "bankable", and no studio film
will be greenlit unless one of these actors are attached
to a project. Do you think this is because the rising
cost of prod. budgets, as well as the cost of prints
and advertising seem too risky for studio heads and
distributers to think outside the box. Do you think
this will change? As recent as 12 years ago you could
make a film for a couple million dollars, with no stars,
and could receive some kind of theatrical release. It
also seems as if most of the micro distributers, as
well as mini major studios are being swallowed by larger
conglomorates. At this point it appears as if the independent
film market is on it's last leg. What is you're impression
of this, and do you believe that the exhibition/distribution
business will ever change for the better? I am a huge
fan of both Lunatics, and Running Time, and was very
disappointed that they didn't get proper exhibition.
Hope all is well, and Warpath sounds like a great project;
I wish you the best with it.
sound like you understand the situation quite well.
Why would anything change for the better? Honestly.
It's a total mess and I can't see it getting any better.
The entire business is now geared exclusively to the
blockbuster mentality, which means aiming at kids, and
trying to second-guess everybody. I so utterly don't
give a crap about "Harry Potter" I can't even
express it. If I was twelve I still wouldn't care. Of
course, the whole star thing is just crap, too. Stars
don't assure you of anything, and most of the star's
films go down the toilet, too. Someone needs to come
up with an alternative to Hollywood, but no one has
the forsight, guts or money.
many DVD's do you own?, do you have a favorite disc?
only have about 20 DVDs, including my own films. I only
buy movies that I love, so I love all the films I have
on DVD. But I've seen all these films many times so
having the DVDs doesn't mean much to me.
is your favorite Paul Newman film?I'd have to go with
Cool Hand Luke or Hud, Do you think Newman has made
any good movies in the 80's or 90's?
like a lot of Paul Newman's films. My favorite is probably
"Hud" as well, but I also quite like: "Cool
Hand Luke," "Somebody Up There Likes Me,"
"Cat on a Hot Tin Roof," "Sweet Bird
of Youth," "Hombre," "The Hustler,"
"Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid," "Sometimes
a Great Notion," "The Sting," "Fort
Apache, the Bronx," "Absence of Malice"
and "The Verdict," which was 1982. I haven't
much cared for anything he's done since then, except
his food products, but I don't think it's his fault,
there just aren't any good parts anymore.
was't saying rural folks are dumb, they were saying
that they can be naive. That's all...naive.
I don't buy it. The way Frances McDormand's character
is written when confronting William Macy the first time
is not naive, it's stupid. She's a cop questioning a
suspect who is acting blatantly guilty and doesn't notice
anything -- I've never met a cop like that from anywhere,
and I worked with cops for a year on "Real Stories
of the Highway Patrol." And the way Fran's husband
is depicted he may as well be retarded. Small town people
aren't naive, but pretentious filmmakers certainly are.
response to your question, the Coen bros. knuckleheaded
pretentiousness wears thin on me as well. The assumption
that being from a small town means being ridiculously
naive (Fargo, Hudsucker Proxy) or unlearned trash (Raising
Arizona, O Brother) gets tiresome. For that matter,
so does the general portrayal of Southerners in film
these days, but that onus I cast upon Hollywood collectively.
Yeah, I'm from small town Texas and now live in rural
Oregon...but I'm also concurrently working on a doctorate
in archaeology and a bachelor's in chemistry. I make
this point because, having worked in both the lab and
the field with law enforcement as a forensic archaeologist,
I've (apparently) been fortunate enough to never work
with anyone remotely like a Coen character.
realize this is leading to a rant tangential to your
inquiry, but the issue has become something of a point
of contention for me in the last few years. As for films
that represent what I would recognize as a reasonable
portrayal of the modern (as in the last two decades)
Southern culture, only one readily comes to mind.
course, I could just as well go off on the current characterizations
of anything from law enforcement to archaeologists in
film. (And just might at some point because, despite
what H'wood would have folks believe, my coursework
has yet to require hand-to-hand combat with Nazis or
inexplicable mechanical bugs. Any whipwork was strictly
you've made some interesting changes since I've been
here last. Nice job on the site.
it's the aspect of the Coen's work I'm most offended
by (and a lot of thing about thier films offend me),
which is their looking down their noses at small-town
people. Anything new and interesting does not come from
LA or NY, it comes from all the areas in between and
around. LA just likes to take credit for everything
as they take whatever it is and market it until you
can't stand it. But to rationalize living in such crummy
places the big city folk have to pretend there's some
positive aspect, which there really isn't. Nice to hear
from you again here at Beckerfilms, Kim. Thanks for
entering the fray.
time I was here we were ripping on the Coens about OH
Brother and why it sucked so bad because they didnt
want to read the book they were allegedly basing it
on. Ive only seen that one and Fargo and am not impressed
so far. I was gonna see their latest one because Ted
Raimi is in it but according to the Tedites listserv
his part got cut out. True or false? Doesnt really matter
I cant stand Billy Bob Thornton.
wasn't edited out, he was never in it. That was a false
rumour. Well, it's nice to know I'm not the only person
who isn't impressed with the Coens, who substitute quirkiness
for story, plot, and characterization.