I always hear you say that "you cannot move past
the three act structure until you have mastered it".
I think that is what you talk about. Anyway, what I
am so curious about this is because I have been thinking
about it the other day and I asked myself, "Who
has gone past the three act structure?" I know
it sounds weird, but, who has gone past it? Who has
mastered it? Do you know of any writers who have? And
one more thing, contributing to my question, I was curious
if you will one day (or have already) written a screenplay
that goes past the three act structure, which means
you believe you have mastered it? Do you think you have
have not mastered the three-act structure. It's very
difficult to do properly. And then, to get into the
deeper levels of theme, irony, allegory, and metaphor
is very daunting, if you know what you're looking for.
To hear that bozo the other day say that "Reservoir
Dogs" is a well-structured three-act story makes
me laugh. Where does act one end? How about act two?
Tarantino hasn't got a clue. Regarding moving past the
three-act structure, I think Herman Mankeiwicz and Orson
Welles went beyond it in "Citizen Kane." "Groundhog's
Day" is in about forty acts, but that's how it
needs to be; that's its structure. Both of these films
are highly-structured, not structureless, like most
of the nonsense I see. Most writers never figure out
the basics, let alone go beyond them.
was currently browsing through your favorite films and
I came across Kubricks masterpiece, "A Clockwork
Orange". I recently got "A Clockwork Orange"
on disc and I enjoyed it very much. It has been the
third time since I have viewed it. I can recall back
to the first time I've seen it and I remember I did
understand the whole entire film, all up to the very
ending. The conclusion is what I did not understand
the first time I've seen it. What is your take on it?
I am curious because you seem to like it as much as
have a second question for you, Josh, if you do not
mind. It is about conclusions in films, which I thought
up of while writing the "Clockwork Orange"
question. Well, what do you think has more impact on
you and what you admire most about different types of
endings. Do you enjoy endings that have down notes,
sort of like how some film noirs have and other films?
don't care if an ending is happy or sad as long as it's
appropriate. That's why the writer must know their ending
before they start so that everything is ultimately leading
to that ending. I believe it is in "A Cloclwork
Orange." I do have other problems with that script,
though. I think act three is much too long and everything
at the prison is unnecessary. It should almost go straight
to the treatment scenes. I also have a problem in the
treatment scenes that they should not be showing him
footage of Nazi rallies or planes dropping bombs because
it's too vague. Will Alex now get sick when he sees
a large crowd? Or an airplane?
have a nagging question maybe you can answer. I've heard
the term "tyro" used often when a filmmaker
is working independently and on a low budget. What exactly
does that mean? Just something that's been bugging me.
Anyway, happy new year and good luck with all your ventures.
Hammer in 2002!
tyro is a beginner or a novice.
watching "Bonnie & Clyde" the other day,
which I like a lot, and I started thinking about the
explosion of graphic violence in "legit" movies
that came in B&C's wake, whereas before it was relegated
to the drive-in H.G. Lewis crowd (as Lewis said, "my
films are like the poems of Walt Whitman; no good, but
the first of their kind."). I wondered what you
thought about graphic violence as a desensitizing agent,
prolific as it is in prime-time television and movies.
My opinion has always been that if violence is part
of the story, it should be there, but if it's just a
way for the writers to be lazy, then it shouldn't. But
as for the social implications of art, the so-called
social responsibility of artists, my feelings are mixed.
I remain a defender of ars gratia artis, but at the
same time often see artists as being in a unique and
powerful position to influence culture. As an artist
who has made films with and without violence, what's
an interesting subject, one I thought about quite a
bit back in the 1980s when we had just made "Evil
Dead" and TSNKE. There's the cathartic point of
view which says that seeing violence depicted in films
gets it out of one's system. I, however, started to
feel like it was bad vibes. Certainly the whole "Friday
the 13th"-type of films where innocent kids are
slaughtered because they're having sex began to seem
pornographic to me. A friend in Michigan called our
films "asexual pornography," which upset some
people. As far as violence in a dramatic story goes,
like "Bonnie & Clyde" or "The Godfather,"
that's simply part of drama. What would the Greeks or
Shakespeare have done without violence? It's a necessary
ingredient since it's an extreme end of human behavior.
After TSNKE I consciously turned away from flagrant
violence in my stories. In both "Lunatics"
and "If I Had a Hammer" no one gets killed.
Obviously, a story like "Devil Dogs: The Battle
of Belleau Wood" is very violent, but that's war.
I personally would never make a film like TSNKE or "Evil
am glad you didn't lower down to that idiots level when
he wrote in, which wasted time out of his life. I think
you are an excellent director and writer. Regarding
"Running Time", I think you did a very fantastic
job with it and I couldn't be more proud. Excuse this
but: fuck what Jackass has to say about you writing
and directing more films. Make as much as you have left
in you. I hope you do because I want you to know I enjoy
your writings and so on. Now back to "Running Time",
that film should not be considered JUST a heist film.
It is more than that. A work of art is what it is. Damn,
that actually inspires me to start writing a heist film
at age fourteen in honor of you and because of the making
of "Running Time". Keep up the good work and
forget what anyone has to say, which you did.
there are more nice people than creeps out there. If
you're going to write a heist picture there are several
you ought to check out: "The Asphalt Jungle,"
"The Killing," "Riffifi," "Topkapi,"
"Seven Thieves," and "Grand Slam."
Thanks for the nice note.
have a few questions with you, but just bear with me.
One, why do you think you are so damn good? I mean,
aside from being full of yourself, you pass yourself
off to be one of the best writer/directors of all time,
but in all fact, you aren't. You stress the three act
structure a lot, usually. I finally saw "TNSKE"
and it absolutely sucked ass. There is no development
between Jack, Sally, and the rest of his soldier buddies.
They are all a bunch of one dimensional characters who
you tried to make work. But they didn't. I am sorry,
I hated it. It sucked. You did a very bad job, I am
sorry but your work just needs to be criticized because
since you criticize everyone else's work, I feel the
need to do the same to your work. I am not just doing
this because I like the writers and directors you are
criticizing, this is because I am telling the truth.
After I saw "TSNKE", I decided to bear through
"Running Time", which started out okay, then
fizzled out completely. I thought maybe it would be
good because your first was low budget and your second
would be a better follow up but...it didn't. It sucked,
It sucked, It sucked. God, I can't believe you are so
full of yourself. It did have a three act structure,
but then again it was...just another heist film. What
was different about that and other heist films? Nothing,
not anything at all. Correct me if I am wrong, please,
anyone, help me out. Take "Reservoir Dogs"
for example. Now just hear me out...it is a heist film,
in some way. It has the same three act structure as
your film, Josh. You can disagree with me but I am right
and your wrong. Why doesn't anyone want to see "If
I Had A Hammer"? Why don't I want to see it? Because
it sucks...you suck, you suck! Stop thinking you are
the best damn director whoever lived, because you are
wrong. If I have to hear of another one of your films,
or a film that you are writing now or directing in the
future, I will seriously commit myself to a mental institution.
Come on, I am not trying to criticize your work, your
shit work that sucks horribly, but Josh, you may be
a nice guy, but please choose another job. For your
sake, before you make a film that will in fact end your
writing forever. You should of paid me for sitting through
your films, or should I say, failures.
then you think my works sucks, eh? That's perfectly
okay with me. You are confused, however, if you think
that I believe I'm a great writer/director. I've never
said such a thing, nor have I even intimated it. That
I actually have standards and criteria for which movies
I like and don't like seems to just freak some people
(like you) out. I think that reveals your limitations,
not mine. One thing you can say in my favor, though,
is that I don't write nasty letters to strangers. Happy
there! I was wondering if it would be possible to get
that information about the Alpha distributors from Scott
as well, either by posting it or just through my e-mail.
Thanks very much.
website is Alphafilmgroup.com
and their phone number is (770) 740-1962. I haven't
contacted them yet.
know, I live in this third world big country named Argentina,
where two presidents did quit in a month. Here last
night, meanwhile did rain a lot, I did download, read,
and "see" "THE PRESIDENT'S BRAIN IS MISSING".
Bruce Campbell was in my mind but all the characters,
too. I loved them, to Delbert and Warmwater and the
Five Guys named Mo'. I laugh a lot, man, I really enjoy
this script. I want thanks you for let me see that marvelous
never maked movie... I really hope you keep writing
and filming so honest work...
Best Regards, FABIO
I thought it would be a good part for Bruce. The scene
I was particularly eager to do with Bruce was him in
the Oval Office trying to get to a high shelf and putting
his feet through antique chairs that had been in the
White House since Abraham Lincoln. Oh well.
best wishes to you and your country in these times.
Stay safe, keep well, and may economic and political
stability be restored early in the new year.
watched THE EVIL DEAD for like the millionth time, and
just wanted to say, you did an excellent job on that
films, aswell as the others, but after reading the Evil
Dead companion you were one of the guys who stayed out
in the log cabin filming with Bruce, Rob and Sam while
everyone else left to other things. Now thats what i
call commitment! Five Top Fave Films Are---
2. Its a wonderful Life
3. Citizen Kain
4. Dawn of the Dead
5. The Evil Dead
English and 23 years old and live with my parents, so
as you can guess, im still a virgin.
for the info, dude, I was wondering. Maybe if you stop
sitting around watching "Evil Dead" a million
times and try talking to some girls you'll score. Hope
you get some in 2002.
reading your review of Unbreakable, I can confirm that
Shamalayan was working on another script after the Sixth
Sense and then banged this sucker out when he was having
problems with the other script. That doesn't excuse
Unbreakable, but it leads one to hope that his next
film will be better, or you're right, he's screwed.
for all the exploration of comics the movie tries to
do, I found it to be one of the most insulting protrayals
of the comics medium ever put on screen.
hear his next film is about crop circles. Oh dear. Since
Bruce Willis excelled as an empty hole in "Ubreakable,
I'm sure he'll be great as the lead crop circle.
Hi again Josh,
anyways, it's probably about time for me to be thinking
about College...senior year going to end before i know
it ~ yet i haven't even taken my SATs (do they even
look at SATs when you want to major in filmmaking?).
Anyways, would you have any thoughts and recommendations
concerning what school to go to for directing/screenwriting/cinematography/etc
(also i'm wanting to have an art ~ drawing and painting
~ minor). Thanks Josh! Your site is a goldmine :)
and, just a thought. It'd be great if you could further
organize your favorite films into something 1-100 ---
#1 being your favorite film, #2 being your second favorite
film, etc. Oh and, what is your favorite film anyways?
you want to go to one of the major film schools like
UCLA, USC or NYU (where they love me), you undoubtedly
do need to take the SATs and score well. A film degree
means nothing regarding working in the business, but
the information you pick up there is probably useful.
Meanwhile, I have no interest in putting my fav films
in any kind of order other than alphabetical. I don't
know that "The Bridge on the River Kwai" is
my favorite film, but has given me tremendous joy, as
well as making all of the concepts of script structure,
theme, and irony very clear to me. I really do think
it's a film worth studying.
holidays! Here are my questions:
the risk of offending that Jason Patric worshipper,
what percentage of film/TV directors (including all
the assistant directors) would you estimate have a film
degree? (I would guess 25-50%).
your Matrix review you mention rules (not story structure
rules, movie world rules). I think a lot of sci-fi movies
fail because the rules of what can happen in the movie's
world aren't clearly established; characters conveniently
pull powers or gadgets out of their asses. What are
your thoughts as far as rules go, and at what point
in the movie should the rules be defined?
creepy movies, I liked the made for TV adaptation of
Salem's Lot ('85 or '86 I think) which freaked me out
without any gore. Have you seen it?
regarding my last email's mention of Harlan Ellison/Star
Trek, I read about his episode, City on the Edge of
Forever, which sounded really cool although I never
saw it. However, the producers changed the ending, which
really pissed off Mr. Ellison.
wishes on your book and getting Hammer released,
changed a number of things between Harlan Ellison's
teleplay (which I read in it's published form) and the
show, which is still one of the best "Star Trek"
episodes. The whole beginning was changed. Ellison had
a Enterprise crew member selling Jewels of Sound, which
were like drugs. In the show, Bones mistakenly injects
himself with something that makes him go nuts. The TV
adaption of "Salem's Lot" was in 1979 or early
1980 and I didn't like it all, having enjoyed the book
quite a lot at that point. I thought Tobe Hooper did
a crappy job directing. James Mason was good casting,
though. I also agree with you about sci-fi stories --
you must establish the rules of your world as early
as possible, I'd say.
Wim Wenders' name came up, what's your opinion of his
work? Are any of his films among your favorites?
they're not. I've found most of his films to be dull,
as with most contemporary German filmmakers.
you very much for answering me and giving me feedback.
I know you didn't have to, but you did and I appreciate
for Hawk's version of "Scarface", I have seen
it on TCM and I absolutely loved it, so you can tell
I own it now. Oliver Stone, though made some decent
films made his take came to screen, along with Brain
DePalma, and of course it was not superior to the original
I am almost postive you agree with me on that. They
even got Al Pacino, whom I like very much, but that
still does not help.
heard about "Le Trou" in, which I said befor,
The Crterion booklet, which came with my "Dead
Ringers" disc. I did some checking on it, and from
what I read, it does not sound that bad. So, I will
give it a shot. Taken right from the booklet, the caption
reads: In a Paris prison cell, five inmates use every
ounce of their tenacity and ingenuity in an elaborate
attempt to tunnel to freedom.
is based on the novel by Jose Giovanni and it is directed
by Jacques Becker (Ironic, isn't it?) It does remind
me of films like, "The Great Escape" and "Escape
am fond of "Repulsion". Too bad it is not
on dvd, it should be on Criterion, how great would that
be, don't you agree? The reason why I liked it was because
it shocked me very much; it is creepy and unnerving,
sort of similiar to "Taxi Driver". God, I
love that movie. I just do not know why all of my friends
do not feel the same. I guess they do not know what
good films are, besides they did want to go see "Ocean's
Eleven" and "Lord Of The Rings".
am a fan of Fritz Lang, I think he can do some unique
things when he directs. When I think of directors from
not so long ago, I can only think of Martin Scorsese,
Josh Becker, of course, and I would say Stanley Kubrick,
but judging from "Eyes Wide Shut", it makes
me think less of him, which is a sham because "A
Clockwork Orange", "Killer's Kiss", "Full
Metal Jacket" and "The Killing" (and
others) are unbelievable on most levels, atleast that
is what I believe.
you are also a big fan of classics, what other films
are thee that you can emphasis on viewing, possibly
more than once. Do you have any to mention that you
do not think I have seen, and would very well like?
I appreciate that a lot. I have a huge collection going
(most are vhs copies, but nonetheless in great condition)
and I also have some in dvd, but not as much as I would
whew, one more thing, I have seen "Running Time"
and "Lunatics", which I caught a while ago
at a friends house (we laughed our damn heads off).
But I am having trouble getting "TSNKE", I
want to see it badly and I am displeased at myself because
of not seeing it yet. I am either going to get it off
of amazon.com or dvdempire.com, which have been reliable
in the past. I am either going to do that, or get it
another way, if possible.
sorry for making you read so damn much,
sold reasonably well on DVD, so perhaps you could find
it cheaper on ebay or half.com. I recommend, if you
haven't seen them, all of the films of William Wyler,
going all the way back to 1929, like "Hell's Heroes,"
"Counsellor-at-Law," "These Three,"
"Dodsworth," going all the way to the end
of his career in 1960s and early 1970s. Let me know
what you think of them.
was just reading your respnse in which you mentioned
the sales agent's "contract". I recently produced
an independent feature with no stars and found a wonderful
foriegn distributor that you should look into. They
are called Alpha Films, and the stndard deal is this:
they set up an account in your name, and any sale that
comes through, the filmmaker takes 80% of the gross,
while Alpha takes a 20% comission. keep in mind there
is no advance, but you have the option to give them
an option. You can give them 6 months, and if a sale
isn't made with in that period, all rights revert back
to you. I have dealt with a lot of shysters, and crooks
before, however, i was very pleased with the way Alpha
handled our film. The company is based in Atlanta, and
they attend every major film market. Unfortunately I
don't have a contact # off hand, but the person to contact
is Ray Guthrie. If you're interested I will forward
more info in a day or so. Best of luck.
am interested. Could you send the rest of the info and
your last name to use as a reference? I won't post it
if you don't want. Thanks.
Thai student. Now I'm taking the american literlature
course and I have to find out that this novel 'the scarlet
letter' has any subject related to psycological theory?
and how it related. please help me. I cannot find the
answer for Hester whether she is right or wrong with
her affair. Please send me your help immidietly coz
now I'm going to die.
sure hope you don't have to die because of this, but
you came to the wrong place. I have not only not read
the book (although I have started it), I couldn't sit
through either the 1934 Colleen Moore version or the
1995 Demi Moore version (Hey, is Demi related to Colleen?).
I hear that Wim Wender's 1973 version with Senta Berger
is pretty good, though, but I haven't seen it.
worked in film as a standin actor ... do vocal impersonations
... would like to submit vocal samples for consideration
in post production tasks ... any advice or direction?
probably want to hook up with one of the post looping
groups, like Barbara Harris or the Loop Group (pick
up a Hollywood 411 book). Keep in mind, though, that
all those actors are SAG, and if you're not in SAG they
won't hire you. Good luck.
haven't been through all of your site, but i'm already
nodding in agreement with you ~ particularly that a
gread movie NEEDS great characters, period. Ahh, when
will they release a great movie? The movies now-a-days
range from retarded to pretty good, and the pretty good
seems to be getting rarer and rarer.
recent hit was Lord of the Rings which I thought after
seeing it was SO overly hyped. I personally found that
to be a "butt-burner" of a movie. I expected
more from it coming from a novel well reputed to be
authored by the "father of fantasy" tolkien.
The plot was so simple, and the characters were like
cut-outs from a cardboard box. My friends are against
me on this one, they think it was a good movie. Then
I read your comment on FAQ, "a great movie needs
great characters." Yes! That's what I was trying
to say, and that pretty much covers Lord of the Rings.
An eyecandy, plot-oriented movie that was...ok, but
I shall explore your site Josh. Also, I'm wondering
what movies do you think are great and why. (Yes, i'm
wanting some recommended movies for me to dig up a few
$$ and go to blockbuster and rent 'em). The movie i've
claimed as my favorite is Zefirelli's 1968 version Romeo
and Juliet by Olivia Hussey and Leonard Whiting. This
is no ordinary chick-flik! It was moving ~ the best
love story i've seen yet (although I'm still looking
to expand my horizons on the realm of movies). Also,
you might want to check out Dog of Flanders animated
version ~ Quite moving for an animated movie...and does
not have a happy disney ending too...very memorable!
good characters are indeed the bottom line of a great
film. Without good characters it simply cannot be a
great film. I have already posted my 750 or so favorite
films, so check that out. And I absolutely agree with
you about Zeffirelli's "Romeo and Juliet,"
it's a great film, beautifully conceived and shot, with
a prefect cast. I had Nino Rota's score as a kid and
played the hell out of it. I still remember all (or
most) of the lyrics to the song, too . . . "What
is a youth? Impetuous fire. What is a Maid? Ice and
desire . . ."
Hi Josh. I think I can guess your response to this but
I was wondering if you were going to watch the A&E
version of The Magnificent Ambersons in January. With
the following cast...
Stowe .... Isabelle Amberson
Bruce Greenwood (I) .... Eugene Morgan
Jonathan Rhys-Meyers .... George Amberson
Gretchen Mol .... Lucy Morgan
Jennifer Tilly .... Aunt Fanny
William Hootkins .... Uncle George
James Cromwell .... Major Amberson
Dina Merrill .... Lady P.
doesn't interest me very much. Oddly, unlike most everyone
else in the world, I think Welles's version is just
as long as it needs to be, even if Welles thought it
should be 45 minutes longer. It's so heavy in its own
way that 88 minutes seems like exactly enough. But it's
simply not possible for anyone else, certainly not an
A&E TV production, to approach that story with as
much love and visual acuity as Orson Welles (and cinematographer
Stanlet Cotez). Madeleine Stowe seems like a good choice
for Isabelle, and James Cromwell will make a good Major
Amberson, but Jennifer Tilly as Aunt Fanny? It's sort
of the key supporting role in the story and Agnes Moorehead
just couldn't be better. As a little note, the lead
character is not George Amberson, he's George Minafer.
His mother, Isabelle, was the Amberson.
had the good luck to see "Ben-Hur" (1959)
on TV again over the weekend. Maybe it's not a great
work of art, but I agree with you, it's a helluva movie.
When I saw it when I was a kid, it was a thrilling action
story. When I watched again and again later, I picked
up the irony and subtext in the story. Of course, having
maybe the best movie action sequence ever, the chariot
race, doesn't hurt the movie, either. Will anybody be
willing to sit through something like "Gladiator"
(which lacks all of those things) in 40 years? Doubtful.
also occurs to me that if "Ben-Hur" was remade
today, there would have to be big-time changes. The
1959 version was about much more than just a chariot
race. That's all a modern verison would be about. So
the chariot race would have to be the end of the movie.
All that redemption stuff that came after it in William
Wyler's version won't sell any action figures. That
means that Messala will have to actually kill Ben-Hur's
sister and mother. Then Ben-Hur can kill him in the
chariot race (done digitally, naturally) without all
that messy irony and moral questions tarnishing his
I'm dubious when someone says "the old guys did
it better." But I have to agree with you, Josh,
we're definitely not living in a golden age of movies
I don't even think "Ben-Hur" is one of Wyler's
best films. Check out "The Big Country" and
"Friendly Persuasion," which I find to be
regards to cutcheez: I'm a film student here at Columbia
College in Chicago and a fellow student suggested your
site. I loved it so much I asked one of my teachers
to check it out. Well, she liked it alot and let her
students know that it is an excellent resource and a
great example of the realities of working in the business.
opinion is that cutcheez is just another shallow New
York hipster who is more concerned w/ being percieved
as edgy than dealing w/ reality. Reality is a great
equalizer and cutcheez will get cut down fast.
even bother posting a rant like that? Keep up your mission;
you are a great teacher.
I may very well begin teaching screenwriting here in
Ashland, Oregon come spring. We'll see.
have a few brief questions on the three act structure.
Are all three acts supposed to be the same length, or
are some supposed to be shorter than others? I assume
that the second is supposed to be the longest, followed
by the first, then the third act is the shortest.
Also, what is the best way to "master" the
three act structure? Is it through observation or practice?
a TV show where the acts must be a certain length, 12
minutes, you do have some latitude in a feature film.
Generally, though, act one is about 30-40 pages, act
two 40-50 pages, and act three is 20-40 pages. My act
ones have a tendency to run long and my act threes frequently
run short. Act one of "Lunatics" runs 48 minutes,
which I feel is too long. In "If I Had a Hammer"
act three is only 18 minutes, but it seems fine. Observing
other writer's use of the three-act structure is important,
but actually doing it is far more important. It's not
brain surgery, but it's not as easy as falling off a
log, either. I recommend watching "Bridge on the
when I went to film school we watched films from Kurosawa,
Hitchcock, Hawks, & your man Wyler, with entire
classes devoted to genres like crime, westerns and such.
The newest movie that we had discussions over was Goodfellas
or Unforgiven. I think I sat through Birth of a Nation
three times. In all these we classes never even had
one discussion about Jason Patric, I don't even know
who the fuck that is. I think I might have gotten a
much better education at OU that if I had went to NYU.
guess we'll all have to eat our words when Jason Patric
becomes the next American acting legend. I wait with
bated breath. They may as well be showing film students
"Speed 2" and "Solarbabies," that's
all they want (and, if they're lucky, get) to make when
they arrive in Hollywood anyway.
x-mas!! I was wondering if you ever feel that you or
crtics in general are overly critical of films... and
also wanted to know how hard on a scale of 1-10 do u
see directing as being?
something is a legitimately sound piece of work it ought
to be able to stand up to any criticism leveled at it.
Quite frankly, I don't think there are nearly enough
(or any at this point) critics that are harsh enough.
I feel like all published film critics now are on the
Hollywood payroll, getting free trips to Las Vegas that
they'll lose if they don't pander and say that every
Hollywood piece of crap is a masterpiece and a triumph.
Part of my reasoning for having this website, doing
a daily Q&A, and occasionally reviewing films is
so that there is at least one free, independent voice
left out there. Regarding your 1 to 10 rating, it depends
on what you're directing. Some particularly insignificant
episodes of "Xena" were very hard to direct
due to circumstances, like getting the script the morning
we started shooting--that's how you throw a wrench into
a director's plans.
I am fourteen years old and I am an aspiring filmmaker.
I am so pleased that I found your site. Everything is
enjoyable, everywhere I click to. I just want to say
that I really appreciate your works. The only thing
is, I can't get my hands on the TSNKE and Running Time
dvd. I have seen Lunatics, and I must say, you did a
great job with it. Everyone that was involved with it
did a great job with it. So, I enjoyed it, even though
I didn't care for its ridiculous story. But then again,
as mundane as it was, I still couldn't resist.
your theories on filmmaking, that is where I really
start applauding. I just have something to confess:
some films that you hate, I like. That is only with
a slim percentage of films that you have mentioned or
referred to in the past. I think it is funny because
in an interview on the project greenlight website, Kevin
Smith gets asked this question that I was anxious to
hear the answer:
do you think about the three act struture?
answers it, giving his opinion: "It's fine for
some films, but not all. Sometimes, it's thrilling to
break with convention." Rather interesting, I thought.
What do you have to say about that? I think he is right
on some levels, but wrong on some, also. I think you
can even admit it, some films don't all need the structure
to be good.
am a big fan of old films made way back and I also am
a fan of old foreign films. I saw "M" a year
or so ago and I really liked it. I heard it is on Criterion,
so I might purchase that when I get around to it. I
saw it in Criterion booklet, which came with my "Dead
Ringers" disc. Another foregin film that I am awaiting
to see is which I found out in the booklet, "Grand
Illusion", the film where Orson Welles quoted,
"If I could save one film, if it had to be one,
it would be Grand Illusion". I wanted to check
out two more when they are released, "A Knife In
The Water", Polanski's first, and reportedly his
best and I wanted to check out a french film, "Le
Trou (The Hole". Have you heard of these. If so,
can you tell me if they are worth it. Your feedback
on them is appreciated (and needed). Thank you, it was
a pleasure writing in.
think it's great hearing from a fourteen year old that
likes old movies. "M" is an impressive film,
and particularly coming so early into sound movies.
I enjoyed "Grand Illusion," but I didn't see
what everyone thought was so great about it. Another
film like that is Renoir's "Rules of the Game,"
which is also all right, but it's greatness evaded me.
As for Kevin Smith, he couldn't write a properly structured
three-act script if his life depended on it. Those that
reject story structure are those that can't do it. I
repeat for the thousandth time, you can move beyond
the three-act structure, but you must first master it.
You can't go to the 200-pound weight until you can lift
the 100-pound weight. As for "Knife in the Water"
being Polanski's best film, I disagree. I think it's
quite a good film and very well-made, but I'll take
"Repulsion," "Rosemary's Baby" and
"Chinatown" over it. I haven't even heard
of "Le Trou." I think you might get a big
kick out of Howard Hawks's version of "Scarface."
Check it out and let me know what you thought. And keep
watching old movies.
Tim Gibson - Houston
wife and I just saw "The Man Who Wasn't There"
in the theater. We liked it very well - despite typical
Coen brothers flaws, the script, acting, beautiful B&W
photography, music, etc. felt like they were done as
the writer intended. It lacked that "script by
committee" effect you usually get these days.
not a classic movie, but certainly different from the
mainstream drivel we've seen recently.
you are no fan of the Coen's, but:
- Have you seen this picture, and if so, did you like
it any better than the Coen's other films?
me if this topic has been discussed here before - I
didn't find this movie in the Coen brothers messages
in your last 6 archives or so.
I haven't seen it, nor do I want to. To me just being
quirky means nothing, and that's the Coen's specialty.
send me few notes on "The conquest of happiness"
by Brterned Russell
you send me some notes on it. I enjoyed it.
was amused by your review of Unbreakable there, though
I haven't seen it myself to say if its as bad as you
say. The trailers for that film never interested me,
and the whole 'serious' comic book aspect seemed ludicrous.
I never understood this whole fascination that 20-something
directors have with comic books. If you're going to
spend 2+ years writing and directing a movie, can you
really not come up with something more substantive than
a superhero movie?? Also, having just seen the trailer
for this guy's new film, I agree with you he probably
shot his load with Sixth Sense. The new movie is called
Signs, and stars a similarly bored looking Mel Gibson.
Its a serious drama about crop circles. No joke. It
might have some horror/sci-fi aspects to it, but come
on. Crop circles? OK, can't wait for that one.
why do you think it is that alot of director's these
days can make a pretty good first feature, and then
make crap for the rest of their careers? Wouldn't it
make sense that if they can tell one good story, they
can also tell other good stories? Is it that they suddenly
let the success go to their head? I can't figure it
finally, I saw Lord of the Rings this weekend. Like
you, I had little interest in the thing but a friend
dragged me to it anyway. As it turns out, I enjoyed
it. Its not a great film by any stretch, but it mostly
held my interest for the first 1 1/2 or so. I thought
the acting by the leads, especially Ian McKellan, was
very good. But really, the strongest aspect of the film
is the visuals. Its not quite like any other film I've
seen in that respect. There was some overuse of the
crane shots, but overall it is a very unique looking
film to say the least. Saying its probably the best
movie I've seen this year isn't saying much, since every
single 'award-worthy' movie I've seen this year in theaters
has been pretty worthless. Moulin Rouge, Memento, Mulholland
Drive, The Man Who Wasn't There.. What the fuck? What
pieces of shit and these are the front runners for Best
Picture? Since when did experimental indie crap like
Memento become Best Picture material? And Moulin Rouge
is practically unwatchable, its like they gave the camera
to a coked up monkey or something. You've said it before,
but seriously.. Why even bother going to theaters anymore,
when the best thing they have to offer is a well shot
fantasy film aimed at 10-year olds? Hope all is well
do some people start out so well, then go into the crapper
and stay there for the rest of their lives? It's an
excellent question for which I don't have answer. I
mean, why can't Francis Coppola make a good movie anymore?
He sure knew what he was doing back there in the 1970s.
Luckily for Hollywood, people seem to have a great fondness
for new things. People will defend a new film as though
a family member had made it. A year later, however,
no one cares at all. In December, 2002, no one will
bother defending "Lord of the Rings" because
it'll be just one more kid's movie showing on TV.
First off Josh I just want to say I'm a fan and also
a Bruce Campbell fan. I don't know why anyone would
want to work on a big budget film with spoiled celebs
and rotten screenplays. Enjoyed reading your many articles
add to the discussion here about hate mail. Hoping not
to beat a dead horse but when you get mail like that
it seems to me that these individuals (if we are to
take them for their word that they do actually go to
film school) are lashing out because what you have to
say scares the shit out of them and they want more than
anything to beleive that you are dead wrong. Alot of
people in the industry feel the same way as you. My
friend who does set design for two decades has never
bothered to see any of the films she worked on because
the stories were so lame brained...i won't mention which
films so i don't get her in trouble. I've got news for
these idealistic film students...if or when you move
to LA you're gonna hear EVERYONE talk about how fucked
up things are. You may not hear it at Film School (WHERE
THEY WANT YOUR TUITION MONEY) or on Entertainment Tonight
but you will hear it from just about everyone else.
one outside the film industry wants to believe just
how fucked up it is -- it must be run on some logical
basis, it's a huge industry. Not so. I just received
a contract from a Hollywood sales agent to rep "Running
Time" overseas. If I just signed that contract
and sent the guy all of my film elements (negative,
soundtracks, video transfers), I would never see another
cent no matter how many overseas sales he makes. And
it's all written into the contract -- they take 25%
off the top, plus $3000 a film market (not to exceed
$18,000), plus a minimum of $20,000 for expenses that
may go as high as $40,000, plus a 20% service charge,
plus, plus, plus . . .
And that's a standard contract. I'll attempt to negotiate
all that crap away, but I don't think it's possible.
If a sales agent or a distributor can't take all of
the money, why bother? Now, I happen to know someone
in LA that's just finishing post of their first feature.
He's been in Hollywood for a long time working on special
effects crews. Having put as much time, work, and money
into the film, he will not be convinced that he's about
to step into a shark pool and be eaten. Not him. It
may happen to everyone else, but not him. Everyone thinks
that they are the exception to the rule. Young wannabe
filmmakers believe that when they get to the border
of California and stop at the agricultural check point
that they will be handed their big Hollywood contracts
and they'll be all set. This is the dream that's been
dragging people out to Hollywood since 1913. Who am
I to poke a hole in that bubble? I must therefore be
"an internet nobody with an axe to grind,"
because, if I'm not, then I'm speaking the truth and
that's too frightening to handle.
you are more than capable of skewering "college
student nobodies on the internet with an axe to grind"
like your new buddy Jake, I gotta add my two cents'
worth. Somehow I doubt that professors are recommending
your site to their students in lieu of textbooks (although
perhaps they should!) Likewise I seriously doubt any
actual prof would slam a filmmmaker in front of his
class - people lose out on tenure doing stuff like that.
And I *really* doubt a film prof would be studying the
work of the actor Jason Patric - I actually had to think
for a minute to figure out who that was - then I remembered
"Oh yeah - kid in that vampire flic with the two
Coreys." No Brando, no Olivier, no John Wayne,
no Hoffman or Pacino... but they studied the films of
Jason Patric. Yeah. Plus if I'm not mistaken, NYU's
exams were over a while ago, so it's unclear why they'd
be studying any actor when they are on Xmas break. Go
I was watching a rerun of "Rocky" the other
day, and wondered what your thoughts on it were. I thought
it was not bad at all for a B-movie, and I remember
when it came out, people said it was a pretty sad commentary
on the current state of films that something so simple
and old-fashioned would be the best film of the year.
This was right at that time you've described as the
end of good movie-making in Hollywood, and on its own
terms, I thought it succeeded in doing exactly what
it set out to do. Granted, it's perhaps a bit far-fetched
that a pug could go the distance, but then who thought
Spinks would beat Ali, or Ramahn would knock down Lewis?
the holidays are restful for you, and that you don't
get snowed in. If Bruce is lurking around, tell him
a bunch of his fans saw his pics from "The Majestic"
opening, and thought he and his daughter (I'm assuming
that's who that was) were quite the elegant duo.
like the first "Rocky" film very much, and
think it's rather exceptional. Had Rocky beaten the
champ it would have been old-fashioned nonsense, but
since he realizes that there's no way he can beat Creed,
just going the distance is a believable goal for Rocky.
I also think that all of the characters are very well-developed.
Stallone is actually funny and charming all the way
through, a feat he's never repeated. And for a million
bucks, making it the second cheapest film to win best
picture after "Marty," I think it's terrific.
BTW, that was Bruce's daughter, Rebecca, that was with
him at the premiere.
of Bruce, what does he have to say about the Majestic?
Does he think it's any good, or is it just another job?
Just trying to figure out whether or not to see it over
exact comment was, "It's trying to be great and
fails." That may still mean it's okay, although
I wouldn't go see it. If you do, let us know what you
dunno Mr. Becker, I really have to disagree. I know
Jackson got money from Miramax but he managed to make
the films on his terms, as he did as an independent,
which I think is great. He didn't give in and make one
film, which was the original pressure from the studio.
And you don't have to like the source material to like
the film. Jackson's re-telling is a cinematic experience
of the first order, it really is. It certainly follows
the correct story structure (even though the ending
of the first film is the beginning of the second so
we're left will all this stuff ABOUT to happen, which
is somewhat frustrating). Despite that quibble, it still
follows the correct story structure, and well. Main
characters are developed steadily (though some we know
play larger parts in the films to come), even though
the visual scope is epic. That's no mean feat.
hope you break down and get a chance to see it. At the
very least it would be less a waste of your time than
all the movies on your "nasty review page"
: ). So we'll agree to disagree. I thought Heavenly
Creatures did a good job of developing believable characters.
anyway, this is a good example of what Mr. NYU film
student misses. You are one of many filmmakers whose
work and opinion I respect, but it's still certainly
okay to disagree and feel strongly about differing notions
on this stuff.
happy holidays and all that jazz.
is simply an issue of taste. I've never liked fantasy,
and I completely don't care about fantasy worlds with
furry creatures and monsters. Obviously, many people
do. The books have always been popular, but they never
appealed to me. And just because a film has good story
structure doesn't mean I'll like it. I'm much better
off not seeing it at this time.
I do know it hardly makes me any better, but I can't
help getting the giggles when I see someone such as
jake "cutcheeze" asttrin attempt to be pedantic
when he doesn't even have a handle on capitalization
or punctuation. You know, Josh, just today I was describing
you to a friend as being charismatic like a razor blade:
even when folks know they're just going to end up bloodied
from testing the edge, they can't resist the impulse
to try. At this moment, I daresay I could extend the
analogy to provide for certain dipshits who end up slitting
their own throats in the process, but I would hate to
deprive the NYU cognoscenti the opportunity to work
through that on their own.
providing Jason Patric's body of work as a means of
putting you in your place? Yeah, -that's- a formidable
argument. I notice careful omission was made of some
of his other outstanding films, such as Solarbabies,
The Lost Boys, and (how ever did the world get on with
out it?) Speed 2: Cruise Control.
jake, honey, as Josh suggests, make sure you actually
have a leg to stand on before you try for the high kicks.
questions today -- just a fit of laughter that's fast
deteriorating into hiccoughs
my perspective, anyone that will write insulting letters
to strangers is an asshole, plain and simple. Perhaps
he's practicing for when he goes to Hollywood. Of course,
one more asshole out there won't even be noticed.
wanted to express my amazement at that incredibly rude
lambast by the NYU student. If the wonderful star of
Speed 2 and The Lost Boys is this student's example
of a great actor, I have no doubt he will be the next
Renny Harlin. Ick.
here's my question. I saw "Lord of the Rings"
last night and was blown away. I've always liked Peter
Jackson's gore flicks and Heavenly Creatures was great
(I thought, anyway). I like his integrity as well, staying
for the most part away from Hollywood machines and making
what he wants on the budget he can get. This leap from
"small" to "epic" is amazing. I
was very worried at what would be lost in the translation
from book to film, but my fears were quickly assuaged.
I just thought it was incredible. What do you think
of Jackson, and LOTR if you get around to seeing it?
wouldn't see it if they were giving away money. I didn't
give a damn about those books as a kid, and I certainly
don't care now. I didn't care for "Heavenly Creatures,"
which had no insight into why those girls did what they
did and was really a one-note picture -- the girls are
giddy. All the fantasy stuff with the clay people was
just awful and didn't work at all. And "Brain Dead"
just seemed like and "Evil Dead" rip-off.
To say that Jackson is not making a Hollywood picture
when he got $250 million from Miramax's and this giant
ad campaign is ridiculous. He just shot on location
in New Zealand where you get two NZ dollars for every
one American dollar, that's why.
I finally got to hear your review
of "Unbreakable" I almost fell out of
my chair laughing at the very end when you described
Mr. Glass as the supervillan. I honestly think that
film could be cut down by at least an hour. And that
shot in the train (the little girl's POV) between the
seats at the beginning might've worked if it was just
showing Bruce Willis and the girl reacting to each other,
but continously moving back and forth throughout the
conversation, it gave me a headache.
for the guy from NYU, does he even realize that after
the eight years of college it will take him to "know"
film, he'll be behind all the people like you that actually
make films? I'm betting this guy tries to get funding
for a week, quits, then becomes a film critic for "Ain't
it Cool News."
hope springs eternal. I suppose it's important for film
students to believe that they will be the next big thing.
Sadly, however, most of them will not. In fact, most
of them will be rolled over and either end up working
on the crew or in post-production to pay their bills,
or they'll just give it up and go home. If you REALLY
believe that Jason Patric is the next American acting
legend, then you're lost from the outset because the
guy is a bore, a roaming hole in the screen. As a little
note, when Bruce Campbell read that letter he told of
working with Jennifer Jason Leigh and her saying that
Jason Patric was not only a full-fledged asshole, but
a pretentious pain-in-the-ass to work with that needlessly
questioned all of his direction and made shooting a
nightmare. She said that she spent most of the shoot
smoking cigarettes with the crew waiting for Patric
to stop hassling the director so they could get to work.
review. Especially the hilarious line referring
to Mr. Glass : "all you have to do is leave this
asshole alone, and he puts himself in the hospital."
Christ I was rolling!
I noticed that a lot of bad to average films made in
the 80s and 90s are now being hailed as classics. It
kind of brings to light how easily critics seem to lavish
their praise. I was wondering if there were any movies
you saw as a kid, that are now 'classics', but in fact
lucky because the new films I saw as a kid in the 1960s
and 70s legitimately are great films. That's my biggest
problem (or blessing, depending on how you want to look
at it) -- I really do believe I know what a good movie
is and why. It's all those shitty films in the 1980s,
like nearly all the Oscar-winners for best picture,
that are really just crap, like: "Chariots of Fire,"
"Out of Africa," "The Last Emperor,"
and let's not forget the utterly dismal "Rain Main."
Another well-thought of movie I have great disdain for
is "The Deer Hunter," although I don't think
its rep has held up very well anyway.