me if you agree with me or not. Regarding Dracula (1931)
starring Bela Lugosi, I think this film represents a
perfect example of timeless cinema. It represents an
age of horror when charisma and romance was intertwined
with a dark backdrop to deliver a terrifying, yet charming
villain. Bela Lugosi's intensely haunting portrayal
of the count makes me wonder why anyone would try to
remake this film that has been around for seventy years
and will very well be around for at least a hundred
agree that Bela Lugosi is very good as Dracula, but
Todd Browning wins the award for the crappiest filmmaker
of the silent era to make their way into the sound era.
What Browning did have was very weird sensibilities,
having grown up in the south in the early 1900s working
in carnivals and freak shows. But he never had much
of a grasp of filmmaking. Browning does more crummy
cuts and lousy shots than any other director I can think
of. Meanwhile, James Whale, who directed "Frankenstein"
the same year as "Dracula" was a far better
director, with a real visual sense. I'll take "Frankenstein"
over "Dracula" any day of the week. And James
Whale's "Bride of Frankenstein" is pretty
wonderful, too. As a little historical note: Todd Browning
was from Louisville, Kentucky, and his uncle, Louis
"Pete" Browning, was one of the very first
professional baseball players in the 1880s. Back then
you could use any kind of bat you wanted, and some players
used cricket bats. Pete Browning went to a bedpost company
in Louisville and had them make him a baseball bat at
certain specifications, which became the Louisville
Slugger, and the same company still makes them.
Dear Mr. Becker:
you very much for your excellent description of Wm.
Wyler's genius for making worthwhile movies. Max Jackel
was my pleasure. I just showed a group of my neighbors
Wyler's "Detective Story" and it's still strong
stuff. Kirk Douglas is really at his overwrought best,
ready to poke his own eyes out over things. It's William
Bendix's best performance ever, and I don't know how
Wyler knew that Bendix had it in him. And young Lee
Grant is just great. William Wyler never fails to hook
me, no matter how many times I've seen his films. I
really want to see "Counsellor-at-Law" again,
which I've only seen once, and it was John Barrymore's
best film performance by a mile, and seemed like a really
and nice to see a fellow smoker being vocal about the
injustice. Yesterday the Lincoln County Commission passed
a smoking ban in Lincoln County West Virginia (the last
place as far as I know that was smoker friendly) that
disallows smoking in ALL businesses. I own a small ISP
(one employee, me) and I smoke in my office which is
publicly available by appointment. Anyway, it is now
illegal for me to smoke in my own office.
am filing a lawsuit against the Lincoln County Commission
and wondered if you had any information that might assist
me in winning this stupid battle.
you for being vocal in any respect.
would you like me to do, testify that there are other
smokers out there? I'll come in as an expert witness.
Yes, your honor, I have been smoking non-stop since
I was eleven. Got a light? Nobody bothers me here on
my mountaintop in rural Oregon. And since I got my cats
as little kittens, they're used to it. I honestly wish
you all the luck in the world if you do sue.
was watching the documentary series "A Personal
Journey Through American Film with Martin Scorsese"
recently, which was interesting actually. Worth the
time, even if I did laugh at Scorsese's statements like
"without a story you have no movie..." Guess
that's what happened to "Bringing Out the Dead."
He does list off some pretty good examples of overlooked
films that should be seen, particularly in his gangster
and western sections. Pretty fun.
I started thinking about Scorsese films and wondered
what your opinion was on "After Hours" and
"The King of Comedy." The former is always
written as his big comeback after the flop of the latter,
but I really liked "The King of Comedy" and
hated "After Hours." "King" has
interesting casting, good performances, and a tight
story that was light years before similarly themed stuff
like "The Cable Guy" (and of course, it's
way better than that stuff). "After Hours"
was ponderous, the story pointless, and the characters
totally uninteresting, merely collections of quirkiness,
which is a shitty, lazy way to make characters. That's
why Tarantino scripts suck. What did you think?
in complete agreement with you. I think "King of
Comedy" is a really good movie, and "After
Hours" is meaningless, insignificant, and illogical.
At every single moment all the way through "After
Hours" all I could think was, so walk home, it's
not that far. I've walked further than that in NYC,
what's the big deal? And he's running into people like
Cheech & Chong for no reason who aren't even funny
in it. Meanwhile, I'd say "King of Comedy"
is almost a great film. I also think it's Jerry Lewis's
best performance on film. My one and only gripe with
the film is that I desperately wish Rupert's comedy
routine at the end were actually funny. That would be
the big irony, and his minor fame after getting out
of jail would then be somewhat deserved.
about jacobs ladder? i guess its not really sci fi enough,
but i was happy with the overall mystery to the film.
is something like this just too jumbled for your tastes?
the script too loose? or is tim robbins just too much
of an idiot?
of the above. It also didn't make any sense. You can't
flash forward into the future that hasn't occurred yet
and have a soundtrack of the contemporary pop songs
that will be hits then -- nobody's imagination is that
good. And since we're discussing needlessly tricky movies,
is that what people think is a good story now? Endless
twists with dull characters that you don't give a crap
about? That's what "Memento" was, and that's
pretty much what "Open Your Eyes" was, too.
I liked "Open Your Eyes" better than the two
afore-mentioned films, but I never cared. And if I don't
care what I'm watching, it can't be very good. It's
too bad Phillip Dick isn't alive, he'd be the most popular
writer working. It was interesting to see that Penelope
Cruz actually was beautiful before coming to America,
hooking up with Tom Cruise, getting a Ralph Lauren contract,
and losing fifteen crucial pounds. Now she looks anorexic.
Licia Albanese is a cousin on my fathers side. It would
be great is you could post a photo of her star on your
website for us to look at if you have the time, or maybe
if you could tell us a site that has a photos of the
star on it. She is retired opera singer from the NY
Metropolitan Opera. She is still alive and is about
live in rural southern Oregon. If you want a photo of
the Hollywood walk of fame, go there and take it.
noticed you sing songs of praise for The Road Warrior,
George Miller's film, and compare it unfavourably with
Mel Gibson's recent work.
about " Braveheart "? It has a stronger story
and more believable characters than The Road Warrior,
and the action scenes are way better.
but I'm not going there with you. George Miller is a
real film director, with a visual sense, and a terrific
grasp of montage. Mel Gibson isn't really a director
and has no visual sense or any grasp of montage at all.
Gibson shoots in the run & gun fashion, meaning
you get as many cameras running as you can afford, shoot
everything in sight, then dump it on an editor to figure
out. Due to this, all of the action scenes in "The
Road Warrior" are FAR superior to those in "Braveheart."
As the stunt director in Herc and Xena pointed out at
the time, the foreground stuntmen in the fights in "Braveheart"
look fine, but one level back they're slapping each
other like girls. I didn't mind the first hour of "Braveheart,"
but once the girl was killed and it became nothing more
than a lunkheaded revenge film, I grew increasingly
bored. By hour three I was reduced to a quivering blob
of bored jello just praying for the miserable picture
to end. For a similar film, that came out the same year,
I'll take "Rob Roy" any day of the week. It
has a better cast, stronger performances, a much better
story, and is an hour shorter.
glad to hear the Road Warrior get mentioned on this
site; the action is incredible, and the story moves
well. My take on the characterization is Max doesn't
change; he's a selfish bastard throughout the whole
movie, but he's challenged to change by the situations.
What's your favorite aspect of the movie?
Sci-fi movie I saw recently that I liked was the low
budget "Cube". The character interaction was
interesting to watch, and makes you think, "what
if that happened to me?" You might have a problem
with it because there's no real main character, just
a small group.
like everything about "The Road Warrior,"
except the score, which sounds too much like John Williams'
music for "Star Wars" (which sounds too much
like Holst's "The Planets"). My favorite aspect
of the film is probably George Miller's direction, which
is visually well-conceived, inventive, and snappy; then
Dean Semler's photography, which is gorgeous; then the
imaginative costumes; then the cast, led by young Mel
Gibson at his best and still an Australian, before he
transformed into an American from the 51st state, Flatland,
where everyone talks through their nose. Meanwhile,
I looked up "Cube," and it sounds unbearable
to me, rather like the God-awful "Labyrinth,"
where everyone is stuck in a maze the whole film. It
also sounds a bit like Harlan Ellison's classic story
"I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream," where
a group of people are caught inside a computer.
Dear Josh: Josh,
Question for you about "Lunatics". First I
should say that I really enjoy the film. There is only
one thing about it which does not sit well and that
is towards the end. Hank is rushing to the rescue of
Nancy when, by coincidence, a garbage truck turns down
the alley Hank is in. Hank, in keeping with previously
established hallucinatory tendencies, interprets the
garbage truck as a giant spider trying to get him and
runs in terror. The garbage truck/spider is bearing
down on him when Nancy shoots at the truck causing it
to veer off. Why would an LA garbage truck driver pursue
Hank. As shot, it sure appears as though the driver
is trying to run Hank down. Why? I've looked at this
scene several times for clues, what am I missing? Thanks.
Just a reminder to everyone else to write in to Anchor
Bay in support of "Hammer". Email email@example.com
is an city garbage truck driving around at night? is
probably a better question. In the script the garbage
truck is entirely unaware of Hank and turns the corner
into the alley at the last second, thus fusing Hank's
delusion with reality. Sadly for me, though, the alley
didn't work that way, and there was no other way for
the garbage truck to go except across that parking lot,
so I just went with it. The garbage truck driver, BTW,
is Gary Jones, the special effects supervisor on the
film, and now a director -- he directed "Mosquito,"
which I appear in.
do you think of films like: "Swingers", "Made",
and "The Crying Game". The reason why I ask
is because these are three films that I just recently
seen and I don't know if anyone has seen them to give
me their opinions about them.
the way, I just watched "The Crow" trilogy
with me cousin and I was bored after the first one.
I was really impressed with it. It was a comedic, dark,
brooding revenge story adapted from an underrated comic.
Did you see that? If so, any thoughts?
didn't care for "Swingers," which was okay
for the first thirty minutes, then completely fell apart;
or "The Crying Game," which I had figured
out in ten minutes. "Made" is presently on
its way to me from Netflix. I absolutely hated "The
Crow," and wouldn't watch a sequel to it if my
life depended on it. It's nothing more than MTV music
your Essay about being a PA you mentioned coming
across a lot of really annoying AD's. After becoming
a Director did you have any arrogant AD's working
for you? If so, did you get your own back? :)
liked all of the ADs in New Zealand, and I hired a New
Zealander on "Hammer." I haven't really worked
with many American ADs since becoming a director, it
was mainly when I was a crew member. There wouldn't
be any "getting your own back," though. An
AD is not the director's assistant; an AD is the foreman
and hatchet-man for the producer. The 1st AD runs the
set. But I would never hire an obnoxious AD when I was
producing and directing. I'd hire an AD that was on
someone else who thought Memento was complete trash.
I knew you'd hate it. For a while I thought I was the
only one. Guy Pierce is an abomination to the acting
profession. Didn't you find that he was the weak link
in LA Confidential? It seemed as if he was laboriously
attempting to sustain an American accent, and failed
on all counts. My question for you is: What do you think
of Bruce Campbell as an actor? I think he is highly
underated, and is one of the only actors of this generation
that has a classical golden era-like presence. His screen
presence is remeniscent of actors like Cary Grant and
Douglas Fairbanks. Other than Bruce, I can only think
of a handful of modern actors that exude such charisma.
What is your impression?
think Bruce can be very good, given he has the material
to work with. Sadly for Bruce, though, he's ended up
in a lot of crap. I think he's a lot better than many
of the bigshots, like Jim Carrey or Brendan Fraser.
going on a backpacking/camping trip in the mountains
of Tennessee this summer and was wondering if you remembered
how to get to the site where Evil Dead was filmed and
would you be able to giv em directions?
I know is that we shot in Morristown. Maybe you should
write to Bruce Campbell at his website and ask him.
enjoyed reading your comments on 99 cent stores. I'm
thinking about opening up a store in the near future
and hopefully I can find better products and still sell
them at 99 cents. Unfortunately, I cannot guarantee
that no Chinese prisoner had a hand in the manufacture.
you don't want to promote slave labor in China, then
don't sell 99-cent products from China.
much would it cost to make a low budget Vietnam flick
set entirely in Vietnam and full of battle scenes?
a big fan of Thou Shalt Not Kill....Except and of John
Woo's vietnam epic Bullet In The Head.
a pretty open-ended question. TSNKE was about $200,000.
"Apocalypse Now" was about $40 million. So
I guess it could fall anywhere in between, or more expensive
if Hollywood does it.
am trying to find the vocal score of the song "What
is a youth" from the Romeo and Juliet 1968 soundtrack,
and I am just wondering if you have any tips as to how
I could find it? I would very much appreciate if you
would send me an answer to this.
/ Lenita, Sweden
could buy the record, which was by the late, great Nino
Rota. I had the record as a kid, and I may still be
able to remember the lyrics.
is a youth
What is a maid
Ice and desire
The world wags on
rose will bloom
It then will fade
So does a youth
So does a fairest maid
a time when one sweet smile
Has its season for a while
Then love's in love with me
they think only to marry
Others will tease and tarry
Mine is the very best parry
Cupid he rules us all
of the cape (?)
Now, sing me a song
Death will come soon to hark us along
Sweeter than honey and bitter as gold
Cupid he rules us all
you've got one email off to Anchor Bay in favor of releasing
"Hammer". I'll bet there's others going too.
just saw "Ghost World" and it was absolutey
brilliant. Infact, I found it to be so good, that it
made me realize how long it had been since I last saw
a film I liked as much. One that affected me like this
one did. Have you seen it? I'm not sure if it's on the
cable networks yet. Terry Zwigof (who's "Crumb"
I found offensive and dull) is a better narrative director
than documentary. Anyhow, it was easily the best film
I saw this year. Actually, I didn't find "A Beautiful
Mind" to be too bad. I was expecting something
dreadfull, but foreced myself to go see it since it
won the oscar. I actually go into it after the opening
drag-ass 30 minutes.
I just wanted to tell someone about "Ghose World".
It really is one of the best movies I've seen in a long
time. Great acting. Wonderful style (not one attention
getting shot in the movie, yet the visuals are still
ringing in my mind), wonderful score, honest story that
never becomes obscene. Excellent, man, excellent!
and you're right. The new "Mad Max" dvd does
have the original Australian soundtrack. That was a
good line you put in there...Remember the lead bad guys
name? The guy talking about the Night Rider?
a good one.
I put on my Netflix rental queue. I must say that I
liked "Crumb" very much, and I've seen it
three times. I think it's a terrific documentary about
a very interesting guy. Meeting Crumb's family was a
real eye-opener. Meanwhile, I didn't hate "A Beautiful
Mind," it was easy enough to sit through, it just
doesn't have a story. The guy's delusional in college,
and remains so for the rest of his life. Uh-huh? Then
what? Then nothing. And having read his real story since
then, it seems that Ron Howard and co. are just afraid
of the actual drama, that his wife left him, and he
became homosexual. Ron Howard is a ridiculously flat,
uninteresting director, who directs as though he were
a bottle-cap machine.
while we're at it, since several folks have recommended
"Memento" to me here, I finally saw it. The
key word was DULL! I was solidly bored in fifteen minutes,
severely bored by 35 minutes, and excruciatingly bored
for the remainder. In my humble opinion, that is a BAD
movie, with dull characters, and no interesting dialog.
Oh great, it's going backward. Well, so what? I didn't
believe any of it for a second, and didn't care at all.
For me the two most important things about a film is
that I believe it, whatever it is, and that I care.
"Memento" had nothing. And Guy Pierce is just
awful. He's the emaciated version of Val Kilmer. If
that's the modern version of a good movie, we're all
the subject of film vs. digital video, did you ever
hear of MaxiVision48? If so, what do you think about
it? Ebert had an interesting article on it and why he
felt it was better than digital video at http://www.volksmovie.com/rants/archive/rogerebert.htm
is a variation of an older system developed by the special
effects wizard, Douglas Trumbull ("2001"),
except his sytem runs even faster than 48 fps. Although
I have no doubt that MaxiVision48 looks superior to
film at 24 fps. or digital video, I don't believe all
of the theaters will switch over to it, nor do I believe
that Hollywood will embrace it, either. It would double
the price of film prints, which are already expensive,
and would double the shipping costs. I think everybody
was wrong about downloading from satellites with digital
video, but I wouldn't be surprised if all the theaters
finally switched to DV projection of DVDs, which can
be sent out for nearly nothing (Netflix includes postage
on DVDs for free). We'll see.
But I can't see Hollywood taking on extra costs in the
already expensive world of distribution. To make 3,500
prints, as they do with a big U.S. release, costs over
$4,000,000 right now, and MaxiVision would kick that
up to over $8,000,000. Hell, the movie companies can't
get the average Joe to buy DVD machines yet.
Hello, I saw your film Running Time in 1998 at a filmfestival
in Sweden called, Gothenburg Film Festival, the thing
is that ever since I´ve looked for this really
special and just great movie but haven´t found
any place I can buy it. I just love that movie, do you
have a answer to this please mail it, keep up the good
you could order it online from many places here in the
U.S., but I don't know if the DVD will play in your
machine. I'm just signing a deal with an overseas sales
agent, and hopefully it will finally be available in
Europe. I was originally supposed to be at that festival
in Goteborg, but went and directed a Xena episode instead.
The man that runs that festival, whose name I've forgotten,
was very nice and I was sorry to let him down. Someday
I'd still like to get there.
just been reading through your essay's (I've nearly
finished). I must say they are a fantastic read. A beautiful
blend of wit, irony, and genuine heartfelt emotion.
viewpoint on 'what makes a good film' is really fascinating.
I was wondering, does your view point stem primarily
from a writers point of view. The majority of your criticisms
seem to spring from the content and style of the stories.
Given that film making is really story telling, it is
a valid point. But do you never watch a film (from the
last 25 years) and think "Wow, that's a really
you ever find yourself getting excited over a grand
(though ultimately meaningless) action sequence?
do poor stories always negate any entertainment value
that can be derived for you?
don't think a beautiful shot is a beautiful shot unless
it's in the proper context. If it's there to help get
across the story, then it's a beautiful shot. If it's
there to amuse the director, it's masturbation. Everything
is a feature film is there to serve the story. In a
short film it can be different, but not a feature --
it's simply a storytelling form. Nevertheless, as an
example, I admire and like the opening D-Day invasion
sequence of "Saving Private Ryan," and really
hate the rest of the film. There's a terrific car chase
in "The Seven-Ups," which is a nothing film
otherwise. But generally, a single action scene or well-set-up
shot won't move me much in a poor context. Whereas,
if the filmmakers have an interesting story to tell,
I don't really care if they ever do a good shot.
your opinion on some of Sam Raimi's latest efforts like:
'A Simple Plan', 'For Love Of The Game', and 'The Gift'?
my friend, so I will leave him out of my tirades. Let's
just say that I admire his success and his ability to
have achieved it.
Obviously there are no scenes in "Lunatics"
where the doctor is present absent Hank. What I meant
was that another writer/director might have made that
mistake of misplaced perspective. Quite correctly, you
did not. To me this reflects the "craft" present
in your "art", something I find lacking in
all too many movies.
As active as this forum is also thought I could post
the suggestions email address at Anchor Bay Entertainment.
If the people in this forum can write to them and indicate
support for "If I had A Hammer" I would think
it can only help the cause. That email address is:
This email address is openly posted on their website
where they solicit opinions so I can't imagine they
would have a problem in me including it here. Thanks.
the man. I say, go for it. Write to Anchor Bay and tell
them to release "Hammer." Absolutely. They've
been waffling for over a year. Any influence in "Hammer's"
favor is good influence. They're all good folks over
there, so be polite. And thanks.
noticed that "Starship Troopers" seems to
be coming up in a few emails on the site, and I just
wanted to put down a comment on it.
As it most often the case, the book was infinitely better
than the finished film. I didn't understand why they
boiled a great science fiction/war story down into a
mishmash of neo-fascism and political correctness. In
the novel, the Mobile Infantry are equipped with armored
suits capable of enhancing the strength of the soldiers
wearing them, as well as being armed with an array of
weapons from grenade to sub-nuclear in size and power.
The infantry is still entirely MALE (I think that soldiers
everywhere gave a wolf whistle, then shook there heads
at the scenes of co-ed infantry school in the movie),
and is transported to hot-spots around the galaxy in
space-going troop transports (piloted by women, interestingly
enough; the book claims that women had better reflexes
and math skills to become starship pilots than men).
The world that they live in is not a weeny form of fascism,
but an evolved form of democracy, wherein the right
to vote and have political francise (citizenship) is
only given to those who first serve in the military.
The novel is infused with the philosophy of the future
society, and is still full of action and entertaining.
Then the Belgian director of the film watered down the
philosphy into Fascism, and put a ridiculous politically
correct spin on the nature of future warfare (this may
also be why all of the uniforms appear either subtlelly
or blatantly Nazi-esque; Belgium is Germany Lite). A
talented director could have made so much more of the
premise; it is a soldier's diary, coming of age story,
and social critique all rolled together. The Great Hollywood
Homogenizer ground all of that up and spat out a piece
of trash where soldiers fire thousands of rounds from
miniature magazines, then, when they DO actually run
out of ammunition, get passed another mag and are told
to "make 'em count!" The only thing that the
idiot in charge of that piece of crap got right was
the reality that, no matter what leaps in technology
or developments in weaponry, you will always need infantry
on the ground, buying real estate with blood to win
Phew...sorry about that, but I just needed to rant on
that one...will there ever be decent films in the theaters
again?! The only hope is that they perfect cloning and
bring back some real directors, which leads me to my
question (I assure you, there is one)..
In the film WITCHUNT, there is a scene where a movie
producer has a witch bring William Shakespeare back
to life, then puts him to work writing screenplays.
If you had your choice, what notable director of the
past, now dead, would you like to see brought back to
life and making films? [This question assumes that the
individuals involved would be brought up to speed on
current events and incorporated into the modern world,
etc.] Yours truly,
read many Heinlein novels as a kid, but I never read
"Starship Troopers." BTW, Paul Verhoven is
Dutch, not Belgian. My favorite filmmaker is William
Wyler, but I don't think Im would want to subject him
to today's Hollywood. I don't think he could function
nearly as well now as he did in the old studio days.
Everything has to be homogenized and turned into flavorless
mush now, and I don't think he would have appreciated
hope you don't mind me responding to the guy who asked
me why I slamming "Donnie Darko". Even though,
I didn't really intend to slam it, it had a few interesting
elements that I liked.
I thought that it characterized Donnie as a genius by
a few scenes (and it's mentioned in the director's commentary
on the dvd that he sort of looked at Donnie as one):
His complete understanding of that Graham Greene short
story, as well as the scene where the principal tells
him that his "test scores are intimidating"..
I combined that with what the director's comments and
assumed that he was meant to be some sort of genius.
The film plays like a Science Fiction "Magnolia",
it even has a 'big star' play upon his public persona
(Patrick Swayze as a Self-Help guru not unlike Tom Cruise
as Frank TJ Mackey).
I suppose I should ask Josh a question (I'm always intrigued
of what he thinks of certain films).. what did you think
of the original "Mad Max"? Not as good as
its sequel, "The Road Warrior"?
I don't think "Mad Max" is nearly as good
as "The Road Warrior," but I still think it's
terrific low-budget film, and I've seen it many, many
times. I still wonder how George Miller could make such
a cheap film with such good stunts? I think he must
have been buds with the stunt men. Anyway, I hear the
new DVD release has the original Australian soundtrack,
which I'd like to see. "And remember, when you
look into the night sky, think of the Nightrider."
is it like directing is it fun? I plan to direct some
of my scripts. could u give me any advice?
like it. I'm happy to answer any of your questions if
you just get more specific.
First a follow-up on The Thing (1951). I read somewhere
that Hawkes may have ghost-directed the movie, standing
over Nyby's shoulder and offering "guidance".
I do think the movie draws inspiration from Hawkes,
but Nyby was clearly a director with skills as his later
TV work shows.
I actually have a question for you about the sci-fi
genre as regards your friend BC. He did a movie called
"Mindwarp" wherein he turns out to be a character
who never actually existed. He was a computer-generated
character in a controlled dream sequence. The problem
is that a good portion of the movie is told from his
perspective. In "Lunatics" the parallel would
have been if the Doctor, BC's character and Hank's tormenter,
had had scenes of his own independent from Hank. This
seems to be an endemic problem in sci-fi today, and
in a more abstract sense in all movies; a disregard
for the perspective from which the story is told. From
a writing/directing perspective this seems like a technical
issue rather than an artistic one. You refer to this
problem in your review of "Saving Private Ryan".
How could Ryan remember what Hank's character was thinking
and doing when he, Ryan, was'nt even there?
It seems to me that perspective is one of the primary
responsibilities of the director and that control of
perspective should be an elementary, rather than an
advanced directorial skill. The alternative is that
the writers should be held accountable, but isn't that
why directors call for rewrites? What do you think?
I'm looking to place blame here so help me out. Thanks.
scenes are there of the mad doctor without Hank? I think
you're mistaken. I do agree with you, though, about
the writer and director sticking to the proper POVs.
For instance, there's only one scene in "Taxi Driver"
outside Travis Bickle's POV, which is Sport and Iris
dancing, and I really wish it wasn't there.
the guy named Aaron that slammed "Donnie Darko":
I'd agree that the plot was a little hard to follow,
but only for a while. After the first half (which still
maintained interest, despite some of the confusion),
it started giving enough answers that not only kept
it interesting, but made it (in my opinion) even more
fascinated and curious.
what's this about a boy genius? He was a very disturbed
kid, with some "out there" visions and ideas,
but never characterized as a "genius". His
was a character with many questions about him (including
his sanity... which, by the way, was answered at the
film's end), but what made you see him as a genius?
Josh, this isn't really a question for you, but I'm
hoping that Aaron responds.
then you don't get an answer from me -- not that I had
one. BTW, I saw "Gosford Park" yesterday,
and found it to be a pretty big bore. It's like a half-assed
Agatha Christie mystery, which I've never been a fan
of, and not as good as most of them. I also couldn't
understand almost anything Emily Watson said. It was
a film I was hoping would end within 35 minutes of it
beginning. Also, it has an historical error in it --
Bob Balaban, as the Hollywood producer, says that Zanuck
is taking over the studio (Fox), which didn't actually
occur until three years after the story was set.
the whole sci-fi discussion, I'm going to first say
that "Pitch Black" was pretty much crap. It
had a few things going for it, but a weak story riddled
with stupid details (like the one suggested about how
can a huge race of flying monsters survive in a baren
desert) is not made up for; not even close.
AM going to say that I thought "Donnie Darko"
was great. I don't get what the problem was that the
guy who slammed it had with it, but I'd be curious to
know if he'd send in a more detailed critique. It's
hard to say if it would qualify as "sci-fi",
but it did have that element to it. One of the things
I liked about it was that it blended different genres
together intelligently, and without seeming like it
was trying too hard. I thought the protaganist was a
great character, and very well acted. There were a few
supporting roles that were a little weak, but there
were others that were very effective. Also, it had a
great ending, that tied everything together in a bittersweet
way that made sense of the mystery that had been built
up, but without spoon-feeding it, either. If you've
seen it, or get a chance to see it, I'd be curious to
hear what you think. I have a feeling that you won't
like it, just because our tastes seem very different,
but I'd still be curious on your take of the film.
I put "Donnie Darko" on my Netflix list, too.
I ought to have a mailbox full of DVDs in no time.
goal is indeed to tell a story. In that sense, I guess
"professional-looking" productions aren't
important. At least, not right now. It seems to me that
the next thing I could use would be a digital 4-track
machine. I suppose I could record the dialog more deliberately,
and I could mix an honest-to-goodness audio track with
necessary sound effects and music.
saw "The Arrival" long before I paid a lot
of attention to act structure, but I do remember liking
the movie. Have you ever seen it? I didn't care too
much for the ecological message, but the movie was entertaining.
not a fan of buying equipment, since it's expensive
and becomes outdated very quickly. I think you'd be
better off borrowing or renting what you need. No, I
haven't seen "The Arrival," but it sounds
kind of interesting. I put it on the Netflix list.
Pi - You said there wasn't enough sci-fi in it to justify
calling it sci-fi. True, there wasn't much, but at the
point where he does go at it with the drill is arrived
at only through that superchip and the soop, which qualify.
Troopers - I'd rather have bullet-spewing guns in the
future than wussy Star Trek phasers. The thing that
got me was the guns in the movie are nearly useless,
they have to use 1000+ rounds to off a single bug. We
have guns now more powerful-looking. I have to admit
I got a kick out of the cartoony facism of their future.
It seemed to me that your hero did two unheroic things.
The idea of it isn't so bad, nobody's perfect. But these
actions seemed to me to be the sort of thing to lose
the audience's support completely. The first was the
reaction to his old flame, seeing her after she's gained
wieght. Realistic maybe, but not heroic.
big one was he came close to clocking his father. This
of course deals with his father not understanding him,
but dad never seemed to push too far, he read to me
like he was trying to get his son to do something with
himself. (I also got that your hero was adrift after
the war.) Anyway, it seemed like an overly big reaction
to the way his father had been relating to him.
of what I like about "Cycles" is that good
guys aren't all that good, and the bad guys aren't necessarily
bad. Everybody's got their own agenda. In my first draft,
the good guys were good, and the bad guys were bad,
and I was bored. It took me two more drafts to move
everything into the gray area. Then the first person
I showed it to optioned it, then it sold. I still think
it would make a good film, but that's just me.
think it's clear that your point on sci-fi films falling
short of ACO has been well demonstrated. The dearth
of even eligible challengers poses, to me, another question.
Have there been good ideas poorly developed since ACO?
Take "Contact" for instance. If you stripped
away about seven subplots and focused on what seems
to be the primary question, which is one of faith rather
than fact, you might have had an interesting movie.
If we as the audience had only watched Jodie Foster
fall into the ocean then she could have tried to convince
us as well as the Senate Sub-committee of what she experienced.
Done right it would have required a complete (that would
be a "complete!") rewrite, but there is a
kernel of an idea there.
Someone mentioned the movie "Pitch Black".
Essentially a monster film, one wonders what six million
large, hyper-active flying monsters eat on a desert
world when there are no people around. One of the stupider
things about the movie "Starship Troopers",
and this is at the head of an impressive list of stupid
things, is that a desert world could possibly support
an apparently infinite number of giant monsters firing
bug-plasma out of their asses. Like the gunmen who don't
carry ammunition (and yet only run out when there are
only two left) this sort of ignoring of resource issues
illustrates the inability of modern science fiction
movies to deliver.
By the way, for what it's worth (precious little, I
realize) I prefer "The Thing" 1951, to ACO;
great dialogue, intelligent characters and a monster
that was largely intrusted to our imaginations. The
build-up of tension is smooth and the delivery at the
end spectacular. Whether Hawkes directed it or not it
shows his influence and ranks, to me, as not just a
great sci-fi film but one of the better films period.
much prefer the original "The Thing" as well.
I wish we never got to see that it's James Arness in
a carrot suit, but what the hell. I don't know why everyone
thinks Hawks directed the film. Perhaps because no one
knows who Christian Nyby is. He was a big-shot editor
to whom Hawks gave a directorial shot, and Nyby remained
a director for the next 30 years. Quite frankly, I think
Hawks liked the project, but felt it was beneath him
to direct it. What was even worse for me in "Starship
Troopers" was that in this silly vision of the
future, where we have a fleet of starships like the
Enterprise, humans are still using bullets. It's so
painfully stupid it hurts.
long time reader of the site, not partaking much by
asking questions, but the movie geek saloon is really
picking up lately.
How do you feel about the films of Terry Gilliam? Interesting
visuals for sure, but that doesn't make a film. I still
have to give "Brazil" a second look to see
if it's as good as most people like to claim(that's
probably not *really* a sci fi film at all, just fantasy).
to your site is refreshing, before i even THINK about
asking a question about a particular film or director,
I mull it over in my head over and over, and usually
a film that I think is brilliant ends up not being so
after a little bit of thinking about it.
there's a new film "Donnie Darko" that just
came out on video, already something of a cult film
to most. It's just a mess of a film, with a terribly,
hard to follow plot about a boy genius and him being
a major part of the end of the world. If you've caught
it, i'd love to hear your thoughts. Why must all new
filmmakers have a plot about a genius?("Good Will
Hunting", "Magnolia", "Donnie Darko"),
I think it's a helluva lot of egotistical directors
thinking they're the next big thing.
don't like Gilliam's films, I find them all to be self-conscious
bores. I tremendously disliked "Brazil" when
it came out, and everyone I knew kept praising it, so
I went back and saw it again, and it was even worse
the second time. Yeah, and now that nobody can make
a decent film, they're all geniuses. We are in a time
period where style has totally overtaken content. It's
a tremedous bore. And nobody has the balls to be sincere
anymore, either, and insincere stories are inherently
the recent Hamlet film by Branagh had an intermission.
At 4 hours it only made sense. But what would be nice
is an intermission for the interminable 3-hour oscar-baiters
that generally come out around christmas every year.
Michael Mann, Paul Thomas Anderson, and Frank Darabont
movies come to mind. Maybe theaters could offer a half-price
refund if you dont want to come back for the second
for good sci-fi, I honestly can't think of anything
great since Clockwork or 2001. I'm looking at lists
of sci-fi movies of the last 20 years or so and you
guys are right, basically all kids movies. I found things
to enjoy in Brainstorm, Total Recall, The Fly, and 2010,
but nothing close to what I would call a classic. Its
hard to believe, but there have probably been thousands
of sci-fi movies made in the last 20 years and yet none
have achieved any kind of greatness. What does that
say about filmmakers nowadays?
like everyone has given up on making things for adults.
Everything revolves around kids. I'm only 23 years old
and I'm already bored with most of the stuff out there.
Its getting more and more difficult to find anything
remotely intellectual. There are some interesting movies
being made for HBO and Showtime and occasionally a good
foreign film slips through. I thought best-foreign film
winner No Man's Land by Danis Tanovic was smart. And
I enjoyed the documentary Startup.com that I think premiered
on Showtime. But overall its pretty slim pickings in
general, let alone in sci-fi specifically. But what
are you gonna do? Maybe a better question would be whether
good sci-fi stories are being told anywhere? Has anyone
read a great sci-fi novel or short story lately? BTW,
I'd recommend skipping Pitch Black. I thought that director's
first movie, The Arrival, was decent but Pitch Black
is just a dumb action movie in space.
I bailed on Branagh's "Hamlet" I didn't know
it had an intermission. I've always found Olivier's
"Hamlet," which I like a lot, to be too long
at 153 minutes. If I die and go to hell they'll make
me watch all of Branagh's "Hamlet" in a double-bill
with "Magnolia." Anyway, Jim, you pose the
question that constantly plagues me -- why can't anyone
make an intelligent film anymore? My theory is that
once the baby boomers took over Hollywood, then the
subsequent generations, everyone is too lazy and too
stupid to understand what an intelligent film is. Since
"Star Wars" and the advent of "the blockbuster,"
the whole deal is about scoring the big, big money,
and nobody knows or cares what's good -- good is what
Money, money, money. Zzzzzzzzzz!
been playing around with this camcorder and, as much
as I'd like to end up with a professional production,
I'm the theory that the bare minimum requisites for
believable storytelling are a) A script. b) Some cuts.
c) Distinct characters.
I had to do was film myself in two sides of a conversation
and cut them together. Right away it looked like it
was closer to a story, rather than watching home videos.
my second attempt, I did minimal scripting, in the sense
that every word was scripted but it wasn't a story,
as such. It was just about three lines a piece.
most recent attempt, I had two and a half pages of dialog
that went (shallowly) from beginning to end, and went
through the trouble of shaving my beard, slicking my
hair, putting on glasses, and intoning my voice differently,
along with different mannerisms. BOOM! Suddenly, I was
watching a movie.
what I'm saying is that sound and picture quality don't
bother me too much. The lighting was not perfect, by
any means. But it was enough to tell an audience a story.
I'm very excited about the next few weeks.
is your insight on this? Do you consider the lighting,
sound, visual, production design, costume, etc. to be
necessary to tell a story? Or, is the point of a movie
no more than to tell a story, or is it to convince an
audience that they are experiencing the story?
not sure if I'm making sense. But this is what is going
through my head.
you're telling a good story, that really is the bottom
line. Do you need a nice production, good lighting,
costumes, make-up, etc. No, not necessarily. It depends
on what you're after. Do you want other people to watch
your film? Do you want to sell it? What's your goal?