am an aspiring director, about a year away from graduating
high school. What films would you suggest for me to
watch to get me "started" on developing an
innovative style? i apreiciate the way you take the
time to answer everyones questions
telling a good story that gets the viewer to care. That
would be highly innovative at this point. And to know
what a good story is, you have to see as many quality
films as you possibly can, and read as many books as
add "Bottlerocket" to your netflix list. I'd
really like to know what you think of it. I'm a major
Wes Anderson fan.
you got the pictures of william wyler?
you mean, do I have all his movies? Yes, I have most
of them. I've seen all of his sound films, but none
of his silents. The earliest film of his that I have
is "Hell's Heroes" (1929), which was the film
that launched his career.
computer has been kinda messed up, and i dunno if the
first question i sent, has been sent threw, so ill ask
again. (Sorry if it is a repeated quetion.) Well anyways,
i was watching TSNKE.. a couple days ago, and i was
wondering something. What made you cast Sam as the main
villain? Was it a part he had always wanted to play?
cause he sure does a great job at it. Or was the part
actually written for him? Thanks Josh, and keep up the
played the bad guy in all of my films for years (whereas,
I was his cameraman). Sam's the bad guy (or a heavy)
in my films: "The Case of the Topanga Pearl,"
"The Final Round," "Acting & Reacting,"
"Holding It," "Stryker's War" and
"TSNKE." He played Manson in "TSNKE"
because it was his part that he had already played in
the super-8 version, "Stryker's War," four
years earlier. He played the part because I asked him
you suppose that Branagh simply remade THE SWANSEE CONFERENCE
deliberately? I've noticed that a powerful story will
be remade into several films, simply because a filmaker
saw the older version and wanted to update it (Look
at how many times that HAMLET and MACBETH have been
filmed, or the Mutiny on the Bounty story[Opinion question
for you here: Comparing the original Mutiny on the Bounty
(1930's) to The Bounty (early 80's) - I think Clark
Gable made a better Fletcher Christian than Mel Gibson,
but Anthony Hopkins surpassed Charles Laughton (in a
close race; both performances were superb) as William
Bligh. What do you think?]). In The Conspiracy, I noticed
that the business-like, corporate attitude that the
participants adopt to so horrific a proposal makes the
film very disturbing. As to The Swansee Conference,
do you know if it is commercially available? I'd like
to watch it and compare the two (hopefully English subtitles
are available; my German is nonexistant).
get this straight, it's "The Wannsee Conference"
(pronounced von-say), which is a suburb of Berlin. And
Kenneth Brannagh didn't make the picture, it was Frank
Pierson, Oscar-winning screenwriter of "Dog Day
Afternoon," who wrote and directed. Why did they
remake it? Because that's what Hollywood does best now,
remakes and sequels. If you can just show a completed
movie to the executives then no one has to go through
the bloody horror of reading a script. Meanwhile of
the three versions of "Mutiny on the Bounty,"
I prefer the 1935 version. I think all three actors
that have played Capt. Bligh were good, Chas. Laughton,
Trevor Howard, and Anthony Hopkins. The best Christian
was Clark Gable, then Marlon Brando, then Mel Gibson.
As to "The Wannsee Conference's" availability,
I saw it on cable with subtitles. It must be somewhere.
us what you thought of darko
Darko," and all the other films I've watched recently,
seem to think that it's perfectly okay to be a miserable
bore for two hours, just as long as they have an explanation
at the end. The entire film the kid keeps making a Jack
Nicholson face from "The Shining" while heavy-handed
music wails, intercut with "28 Days remain,"
crazy face, "27 days remain," crazy face,
"26 days remain." And an evil bunny rabbit
keeps appearing. Now there's a story for you! I also
saw "Requiem for a Dream," which ought to
be called "Unrelenting Misery," which it puts
all of the characters through, plus the audience. After
"Pi" it's particularly distressing to see
that Darren Aronofsky is nothing more than a camera
jerk-off, that sincerely wishes he had made "Drugstore
Cowboy" but hasn't got a clue how. Man, these recent
films have been terrible.
to write you twice in one day, but I have another suggestion
for your Netflix list. "The Conspiracy" is
an HBO movie that Kenneth Branagh made last year about
the Swansee conference (I saw "The Swansee Conference"
on your films list, but don't believe that this is the
same film). It takes place in nearly real time (there
are cuts, but the film takes about as long as the actual
conference), and manages to confine the action to one
boardroom without getting claustrophobic. Stanley Tucci
won a Golden Globe this year for Best Supporting Actor
(he played Adolf Eichmann). It is certainly worth a
saw it, and it's nearly a word-for-word remake of "The
Wannsee Conference," which was better (being in
German helped this story), but "Conspiracy"
was pretty good, too. There's an off-handedness to the
German version that made it even more powerful.
glad that you're giving SUICIDE KINGS the benefit of
the doubt. In the meantime, I have a cinematic question
for you. As you know, Leslie Howard played the role
of Ashley Wilkes in the film version of GONE WITH THE
WIND. Vincent Price, then a Hollywood contract player
with no "horror" persona attached to him yet,
tested for the role and was turned down. Price said
afterward that he always felt that he could have been
more convincing in the part. I agree with him for a
Leslie Howard was English and had great difficulty affecting
a believable Southern accent (even in the finished film,
some of his English accent bleeds through); Vincent
Price was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri, to
a wealthy family, and did not have to "affect"
an aristocratic Southern accent at all (he had to "affect"
conventional, unaccented speech for his acting and public
appearances, lapsing into his native Missouri dialect
b.) Leslie Howard was in his late 40's when principal
photography began, and required extensive make-up to
appear younger for the film. Vincent Price was in his
late 20's at the time, as befitted the part.
c.) Although both actors were the requisite height,
Vincent Price had that innate intangible quality that
befits an aristocrat. When you look at a picture of
him, can you imagine anything other than a Southern
gentleman or an English aristocrat?
do you think about this?
was one of my late friend Rick's favorite games, recasting
films. You've followed his rules, too, in that it must
be someone who could have played the part at the time.
Although in many ways I agree with your recasting of
Vincent Price as Ashley, I disagree, too. Yes, he's
more suitable on an age and accent basis, but he wasn't
particularly handsome, which the role called for. Also,
Selznick was trying to cast the biggest stars he could
get, and Leslie Howard was a big star, and Price wasn't.
Speaking of accents, I always admired the fact that
Clark Gable didn't even attempt a southern accent, and
I think he's much better due to that.
offense to the appreciator of "Suicide Kings,"
but I rather doubt that will improve your Netflix batting
average. I will say though, it isn't quite as bad as
the flick a friend of mine dragged me kicking and screaming
to this weekend: Mel Gibson's "We Were Soldiers."
Blatant propaganda, which wouldn't be bad if it had
an actual story with actual characters. Apparantly,
every American soldier in Vietnam was a doe-eyed innocent
who, upon being napalmed to death, say things like "I'm
just glad I could die for my country," and, of
course, "Tell my wife I love her." The film,
which I'm compelled to call it only because it's shot
on the material known as film, tries to be politically
correct by occasionally shifting to the perspective
of the Vietnamese soldiers, which of course completely
destroys any semblance of narrative coherence that might
have been there. Stuff like this makes me want to shoot
myself. I hope to God a real soldier would never see
a lone enemy, shout "Look, a scout! Let's take
him prisoner!" and then lead an entire platoon
into an obvious ambush.
Becker, will you please set fire to Hollywood? Or, assuming
that's a little much to ask, maybe you could just tell
me everything's gonna be ok.....I don't mind that it's
not true. Just tell me.
goes down, must come up, that's how I've been comforting
myself for years. The stock market can't keep going
up, nor can movies keep getting worse. Of course, we
may have wait for everyone working in Hollywood right
now to grow old and die. Or World War III, but something
will happen. Perhaps if people began boycotting obvious
crap, like "Star Wars" movies, as well as
Mel Gibson movies, it might speed things up. My theory
is that if you see a film in its first week or two,
even if you hated it, you just voted that you liked
it. Keep that in mind.
making a research on Renaissance Pictures and I have
few questions about Rob Tapert and Sam Raimi:
1) What are the skills needed to become director?
2) What is the schedule of a normal day of working for
both Rob and Sam?
3) How do they deals with stress?
4) What are their fears while making a movie or serie?
5) What are the good and bad side of being a director
say Rob or Sam, but since you are a director yourself,
you're allowed to answer from your experiences.
thank you very much for your time.
Sorry for my english, I'm French Canadian.
want to interview me about Rob and Sam, and I'm supposed
to guess about how they deal with stress, and what their
days are like? Nonsense. If you want an interview with
Rob and Sam, track them down.
am new here and I am very fond of your works. I can't
wait until your next film as I can't wait to see "If
I Had A Hammer". So far, it sounds like a well
thought out film. I am sure you did a great job on it
as well as the actors.
need your help, though. I am in the mood to see a great
film and the other day, I asked around work and a few
mentioned to check out the Russel Crowe film, "Romper
Stomper". They said that it was about skinheads
and it was far superior than "American History
X". They also said that Russel Corowe's acting
is a must see. What do you think? Is it worth watching?
haven't seen it. Along those same lines, however, I
just saw "The Believer," which I thought was
pretty good. Ryan Gosling is particularly good.
saw your last posting, and my thanks to you and the
webmaster for fixing the link (I just got my DVD player
last week, and I have only two DVDs of my own right
now, so I'm slowly stocking up). I couldn't sleep last
night, so I watched a couple of DVD's that I borrowed
from a friend. One was THIRTEEN GHOSTS (the remake,
not William Castle's original), and the other was SUICIDE
KINGS(a crime film with a healthy dose of dark comedy).
Surprisingly, THIRTEEN GHOSTS was pretty good(not deep,
mind you, or compelling, but good). It had effective
scares in all the right places, and all the elements
of a classic horror film, with the added bonus of F.
Murray Abraham having fun as the villain. It was not
by any means a deep film, but it was a good example
of a well-executed genre piece. I find that occasionally
a shallow film is relaxing and enjoyable, so long as
it is presented AS a shallow film, with no pretense
of depth where there is none, and that it is made with
SUICIDE KINGS was a taut, well-put together film, at
least in my opinion. It was not predictable, and emitted
true tension, with just the right amount of dark humor
interspersed throughout. Christopher Walken gives a
great performance in it, despite the slight hindrance
of spending the majority of the film duct-taped to a
swivel chair with his pinky finger chopped off. And
the ending doesn't punk out; the conclusion isn't softened
by any catering to the American inability to see a hard
reality in films. I don't know if you've seen either
film, but if you have, you're opinion would be interesting.
I know you're not a fan of the swill coming out of Hollywood
these days, but these two films might possibly be exceptions
to the rule.
right, "Suicide Kings" is on my Netfilx list.
As for the other recommendations I've received here
and have now seen, we're batting zero. "Memento,"
"Open You Eyes," and "Donnie Darko"
were all crap. So far, my opinion of recent cinema has
not improved. In fact, I think it's now decreased.
is sort of in reference to "If I Had a Hammer."
How do you know whether or not a song is public domain?
I there a search engine somewhere, or a listing, or
lawyer once sent me a partial list of public domain
songs from about 1800 to the 1920s, so I know lawyers
have some kind of reference on this.
I'm not 100% sure of my numbers, but a copyright lasts
for about 54 years or so, which would put everything
from about 1948 back into the public domain. There are
music clearance houses that would know all about this,
and they're listed in the LA 411 Book and the Hollywood
want to check out the
Domain Information Project;
they have several resources you should find useful.
Thanks to the Sonny Bono Copyright Protection Act of
1998, you'll have to go back to 1922 and earlier for
public domain works in the U.S., and there will be no
new copyright works added to the public domain until
2019. (However, this law could be overturned later this
year when the Supreme Court hears Eldrid v. Ashcroft.)
the hell does an agent do for a director? Is one needed
to make a film with an actual cast and money?
one of those "I'll help you further your career
and get you an agent and script sold" type fellers
interested in me. He wants a fee (no too crazy a figure)
for his services. I'm new to this line of work, but
am sort of if'y about the wholet thing. You've probably
had a bazillion of these sort of solitations, so I figured
you might have words of advice.
what all did you go through getting your last two pictures
up financially? Did you need an agent to work out money,
getting the script out to SAG actors? Etc.?
guess it's a two question post.
a good one.
everyone needs to see "Ghost World"!
an agent wants any more than 10% of the deals they themselves
bring in, I say they're crooks. I've had eight, count
'em, eight agents, and not one of them ever got me a
job. You certainly don't need an agent in any capacity
to make an independent feature, like my last two. My
co-producer, Jane, and I dealt with SAG. For both RT
and Hammer, I put up some of the money, and raised the
rest from unsuspecting suckers, meaning my friends and
Dear Mr becker
for answers you wrote to my questions, is there anyway
i can contact Sam? I need to speak to as many people
as possible, i have spoken to yourself and Bruce.
there anyway i could contact Sam or Rob?
is running time available in the Uk? I cant find it
it's not, it should be very soon. Check with Anchorbayentertainment.com,
they have the UK rights. Regarding contacting Sam, no
one sees the great Oz, no how, no way!
say that movie reviewers are nothing more than failed
filmmakers, jealous at the success of other directors.
never actually believed that saying, until I read your
not a movie reviewer, I'm a filmmaker with a website.
And though this may be difficult for you and others
to accept, I'm not jealous of anybody.
say more, but I wont. Just: good answer to the "dude"
response you got in regards to O.W.
you think that Clint Eastwood was as good at directing
as he was at acting? I thought he was good at both,
despite some problematic elements in regards to the
directing element. Overall I thought he was a better
actor (although limited). Just curious as to your opinion.
said that all in the past-tense. Did Clint Eastwood
die and I didn't hear about it? I'd say Clint's a better
actor than a director. The fact that he actually directed
a great film, "Unforgiven," still boggles
me. It seems like a giant fluke. Most of his direction,
however, is quite bland, and some of it is just plain-old
bad. As an actor, Clint hasn't got much range, but within
his limited range, he's terrific.
often mention the superiority of the old studio system
over the current method of film production. Could you
outline the basic differences between the two?
the studio system, each movie studio made about fifty
films a year -- one a week. They'd sit down once a year
and figure out what all fifty of those films would be,
assign them out to various producers, and then, for
the most part, let the producers make the films. If
the producers were sticking to their budgets, nobody
really said anything. Therefore, there was far less
interference in the process. Now a big studio makes
about fourteen films a year, and each one of those scripts
is gone over by every insecure executive, and anything
that seems personal, quirky, or not directly involved
with the plot, is summarily removed. And the studios
now expect a blockbuster every time out, so everything
must be geared to the largest audience, being kids,
and the lowest common demoninator, which means stupid
kids. In the studio days they most certainly wanted
big hits, and kids to see some of their films, too,
but they also tried to make a few films every year that
were as good as they could possibly make them, and that's
where the great films all came from. This is no longer
a goal in Hollywood, and that's why we no longer get
any good films from there.
was wondering if you can help me out. I was having a
discussion with some film critics at the website, http://www.rottentomatoes.com.
The discussion was over Stanley Kubrick's film, "Barry
Lyndon". (What did you think of it?) They insisted
that the film was so "memorable and unforgettable"
because of its gorgeous cinematography. I didn't agree.
I replied that cinematography is NOT more important
than direction, story, and strucutre and it shouldn't
be considered more important. The response was this:
a large extent, cinematography IS storytelling, structure,
direction. Style IS substance: How you tell the story
plays a key part in what that story is/becomes."
do you think? I'd love to hear your opinions. I just
did that a film doesn't need to LOOK good to BE good.
That's just where I stand.
"The Stranger" is a very well done film that
I barely hear people discuss. I think its a vastly underrated
thriller. Welles did a fine job, and so did Edward G.
are the style-over-content promoters, who deep down
are my mortal enemies. They're the ones promoting garbage
because it looks good. My feeling is that no matter
how well you dress it up, garbage still stinks. I absolutely
agree with you, Ray, that if you have a good story to
tell, you don't have to have pretty photography. To
me, nice photography is simply a purchasable item --
hire a good DP and the film will look good. Well, that
ain't much of a challenge. How about telling a compelling
story, with three-dimiensional characters, that's got
some depth to it? That's seemingly impossible now. Regarding
"Barry Lyndon," Ryan O'Neil and Marisa Berenson
are both so weak and uninteresting, not to mention that
the story isn't all that terrific, that it ends up being
an excruciatingly dull three hours. Yeah, there are
scenes shot by candlelight. So what? It's a three-hour
film about an f-0.8 lens. Honestly, I would rather sit
through a documentary about the making of that lens
rather than sit through "Barry Lyndon" again.
Orson Welles' career most certainly did NOT end in 1958.
He made a really intelligent film called " The
Trial " that was based on the works of Franz Kafka
(a well known writer) and he also made William Shakespeare's
" Chimes At Midnight " which was also interesting.
did not care for " The Stranger ", though.
not trying to intimate that Welles didn't make films
after 1958, he just never made another really good one.
I'm not a fan of "The Trial," which seemed
neither dramatic nor funny to me (apparently Welles
thought it was a laugh-out-loud movie, and was surprised
when other people didn't agree with him). All of Welles'
films have interesting things in them, but I still contend
that his last film of any real quality was "Touch
of Evil" in 1958 (the year I was born).
I think your site is great. I was just wondering if
you liked Lindsay Anderson. "If..." is one
of my favorite movies. Malcolm McDowell, David Wood
and Richard Warwick were just fabulous in it. Thanks
. . ." was okay, but I liked the original version,
Jean Vigo's "Zero for Conduct," much better.
I liked Lindsey Anderson's film, "This Sporting
Life," which was one of the "angry young man"
movies of the early-sixties. All in all, though, he
doesn't really interest me.
for the information on James Clavell (I'm using the
computer at work, so I can't consult my references).
I tried to click on your purchase link for RUNNING TIME,
but the link is not working. Who is carrying the film?
sucks), but I will if I have to.
Here's an interesting one for you: do you have a dream
project that you wish was made, but wasn't? Like a film
with your favorite actors, your favorite director, and
a screenplay that you loved? Personnally, I always wondered
what a movie with Toshiro Mifune and Clint Eastwood
would be like (both played the same sort of anti-hero,
both in fact made westerns, and of course, A FISTFUL
OF DOLLARS is the western version of YOJIMBO, which
in turn is Kurosawa's version of the American western).
Their roles paralleled each other (although I personally
think Mifune is the more versatile actor), so it would
be funny to see the two of them together. Since I'm
still fantasizing (obviously, this movie can never be
made; Mifune is dead and Clint's too old), why not have
Mifune star as Yojimbo, and Eastwood as the Man With
No Name? It might be a bit hokey, like when Mifune starred
in RED SUN with Charles Bronson, but it would be fun
to watch. What do you think?
I don't mean to keep bothering you, but your website
helps keep me awake at work. For that, I thank you.
about the dead links. Perhaps our webmaster might use
her powers and bring them back to life again. But any
of these online DVD places will have "Running Time."
I'm glad you finally mentioned "Red Sun" because
that was the attempt at combining the two genres, and
it totally failed. I would like to have seen Joseph
Von Sternberg's version of "I, Claudius,"
with Chas. Laughton as Claudius, which was never completed.
for the heads-up. Boy, that was weird! It's all fixed
Christopher Stewart Hoins
Good morning Josh,
are you doing? I don't know if you remember but we met
once. At the time I was both dateing Hudson and invloved
with the military, I'm currently no longer invloved
with the military and looking to get back in film Yeah
I know "No I don't Have a job for ya." seems
like the first words out of you to such an extent I
still remember laughing with you about it. "Hey
everyone it's Josh" "No Lucy I still don't
have a job for you." As for me I'll send you a
reseme, but I'm mostly a martial artist studied Ninjitisu
in Japan in 1983 starred in the movie Pentangle released
by Toshiba EMI in Toyko did some stunt work in the Masterninja
series and studided under Lee Van Cleef and Sho Kosugi.
I can also do coragraphy gee remember me yet Josh I'm
the guy that sounds like Lucy. Oh God I would have loved
to work with you then, But Desert storm did one thing
then they screwed with my head for a wile, Hypnotism
wonderful thing that. anyway Never trust a man in green
who says that his name is the Major he'll make you forget
everything on earth. But then again you didn't like
the company I was standing with back then either.
Take care Josh
and Yes I Lived. on to the Future after all I'm only
32 got years of film to do.
"No Christopher I still don't have a job for you."
were dating Hudson Leick? That's kind of impressive.
You might find this odd, but here in rural Oregon we
haven't much need for ninjas. Oh, sure, occasionally,
but not very often. Not only do I not have a job for
you, I don't have a job for me. Good luck.
just read that Orson Welles made a movie back in the
60s with Peter Bogdanovich in it called "The Other
side Of The Wind". Do you know anything about this
or the story of why it was never released? Do you think
it ever will be?
was never completed, nor released in any form. It comes
up several times in the wonderful interview book "This
is Orson Welles." Welles, apparently, shot bits
and pieces of it on weekends over the course of many
years, but never finished. His later work wasn't of
much interest anyway. I really think his career is entirely
over by 1958 and "Touch of Evil." The film
of his that no one ever mentions, that I quite like,
is "The Stranger" with Edward G. Robinson.
I think it's very snappy and well-done.
absolutely agree with you, Mr. Becker, "The Straight
Story" is a very rewarding David Lynch film. I
remember seeing it for the first time and I remember
falling in love with it when it was done. The reason
why I like it so much is because it is without a doubt,
a touching, profound story. Also, it is the opposite
of most Lynch films.
saw "Lost Highway" right? I felt it was unbearable
most of the time. I never really felt for the characters
or the mystery. However, "Mulholland Drive"
is much different. Instead of having dull characters
whom you can care less about, it has mysterious characters
who are put through many hurdles and many surreal experiences.
The experiences, no matter how weird and improbable
they can get, you have to understand that Lynch put
them there for a reason and the reason he put them there
is not to throw you off. The reason he put them there
is to make you think of WHY he put them there and what
they symbolize and represent.
"Mulholland Drive" really made me think. I
probably will never FULLY understand the film, but he
did give me something to talk about and something to
yeah, I just saw listened to "Running Time"
with the commentary on. One thing about it, GREAT JOB!
You guys were really insightful and I really enjoyed
it. Please, please tell me there is going to be a commentary
track on the "If I Had A Hammer" disc whenever
it comes out. I am really looking forward to it!
are really flying the face of most opinions I've heard
about "Mulholland Drive," but I respect you
for having your own opinion. As for "Hammer,"
should it ever come out on DVD, I'm sure it will have
a commentary track, although I'll have no reason to
do it with Bruce. He and I also did the TSNKE commentary
just saw your answer to my last question, and will try
to pick up some of the books you suggested. In the meantime,
I had a comment or two, and a few questions.
I watched the special edition DVD of MAD MAX last night,
and I have to say that the film is overall better with
the original Australian soundtrack. Some of the voices
aren't too far off (in the original track, the Toecutter
sounds roughly the same, just a little more Australian),
and the dialogue makes more sense when you hear it with
an Australian accent. With American accents and Australian
syntax, the dialogue sounds stilted, as if the writer
were portraying Americans and not quite pulling it off.
Give the language back its original sound, and everything
falls into place. The only difficulty was interpreting
some of the uniquely Australian slang (in the international
version, when Bubba Zanetti is arguing with the Toecutter
about Johnny the Boy, the line is "Johnny the Boy's
still at the wreck. Stoned again. He's never going to
learn!" In the original version, it's "Johnny
the Boy's still at the wreck. This time it's a scruffer.
He's never going to learn!"
An interesting difference in vernacular,that.
My question for you is half-comment. I recall reading
somewhere (I think it was the hardcover jacket for SHOGUN)
that James Clavell was a POW under the Japanese at Changi
in WWII, and that he later earned a degree in Asian
history, with emphasis on Japan. His novels after KING
RAT became more focused on Japan (SHOGUN, then GAIJIN,
chronologically by period; I'm not sure if that was
the order in which they were written). I wonder if his
later works were an attempt to come to terms with his
captivity and his captors. Any thoughts on this?
Clavell was most definitely an Asia-o-file, and all
his book are set in Asia, not just Japan. "King
Rat" was in Singapore, "Tai-Pan" was
in Hong Kong, "Shogun" was in Japan, "Noble
House" was in Hong Kong, "Whirlwind"
was in Iran, and "Gai-Jin" was in Japan. As
I said, he also made quite a few movies that are about
many different topics and locations. He wrote the screenplay
for "The Great Escape," which is about POW
camp in Germany. I wouldn't be surprised if his interest
in Asia began in that prison camp.
Dear Josh: mr becker
am writing a exam report on the film 'Evil Dead' which
you worked on, the evil dead journal you wrote was interesting
and off great help, but I was wondering if you could
give me some info on some of the following things...
meanings and contextual issues within the plot and screenplay
of the film.
films were key influences and why,
do yo think it gained such cult status?
for you time
English isn't your first language? I personally don't
think there are any "hidden meanings or contextual
issues" in the screenplay of "Evil Dead,"
which was written on a pile of napkins, and half of
it was figured out on the set. As to the influences,
ask Sam, I didn't direct it. I think it gained cult
status due to Sam's direction, which is very flamboyant,
and makes terrific use of camera moves. I do think it's
all style over content, though.
just read your article on reading books, and my compliments
to you on your universal tastes. It made me feel a little
better to see many titles on the list that I have read
(interesting note: since "The Godfather" films
were released well before I was born (I'm 24), I didn't
really see them until after I read the book, which has
to be something of a rarity now). I do enjoy good autobiographies/biographies
as well (two recent favorites are Charlton Heston's
IN THE ARENA, Bruce Campbell's IF CHINS COULD KILL,
and Victoria Price's bio of her father Vincent, VINCENT
PRICE, A DAUGHTER'S BIOGRAPHY), but I have been utterly
addicted for over a year now to the novels of Bernard
Cornwell, particularly his Richard Sharpe series. If
you haven't heard of the Sharpe series, I seriously
suggest checking it out. In short, it chronicles the
life and adventures of Richard Sharpe, a British army
officer in the Napoleonic Wars (most of the adventure
takes place over the Peninsular Campaign), starting
from about 1799 (when he was a private in India) and
going on past Waterloo. My friend tried to get me to
read the books for a year to no avail, but when I finally
dipped into one novel, I was completely hooked. The
only fictional elements are the principal characters;
everything else is accurate historically - Cornwell
is praised for his accurate research - and he really
seems to bring the past to life. I definitely recommend
checking them out. If you do, please post a comment
on the site and let us know what you thought.
Well, I suppose I had better ask a question, or I'll
probably be barred from this website, so here goes:
I saw that James Clavell's KING RAT was on your book
list, and I've read it myself. What did you think of
the film version from the early '60's? I thought that
they did an interesting job, despite the obvious omission
of a few storylines (Sean the transvestite never makes
an appearance, and most of Marlow's past in Malaysia
is never explored, to name a few). Please tell me what
thought that Bryan Forbes' film version of "King
Rat" was pretty good, and George Segal was well-cast.
I was very impressed with the opening, with an emaciated
officer sitting on "the throne" over the boreholes.
It's better than any other Clavell adaptation. James
Clavell was a film writer and director, too, by the
way. He wrote the original version of "The Fly,"
and wrote, produced, and directed "To Sir, With
Love," among many others. I quite like his film
"Walk Like a Dragon," from which I stole the
basic storyline for a "Hercules" episode (starring
Lucy Lu). I haven't read the Cornwell books, but they
do sound interesting. I'm not really reading fiction
these days, though. I'm presently reading Stanley Kramer's
autobiography, which isn't all that good. I just read
the memoirs of Darcy O'Brien, called "A Way of
Life, Like Any Other," who was the actor George
O'Brien's son. George starred in several of John Ford's
silent films, like "The Iron Horse" and "Four
Bad Men," as well as F.W. Murnau's "Sunrise."
It was an odd, interesting memoir of growing up in the
1950s in Beverly Hills as the son of a complete has-been
whose fame had ended 20 years earlier. I also just read
"The Professor and the Madman" by Simon Winchester,
about the writing of the Oxford English Dictionary,
which took over 50 years, and one of the main contributors
was homicidally insane.
looking at your list of favorite films, I can see that
you have some Kurosawa films in there. If you like Kurosawa,
then I suggest you take a look at the films of Kenji
Mizoguchi, most notably Ugetsu and Sansho The Bailiff.
After you see those I hope you will see as I did that
Mizoguchi stages the best mise en scene out of any director
who ever lived, and that Mizoguchi is one of the forgotten
greats of world cinema.
saw a few of Mizoguchi's films as a kid and was bored,
but I think I was just too young. I'll try again. I
just rented his "47 Ronin" Parts 1 & 2.
Thanks for the tip.
Dear Josh: Dear Josh,
you had to pick your favorite film what would it be?
My personal favorite is John Woo's Bullet In The Head,
then Kurosawa's film Ikiru.
are some of your favorite directors?
is definitely an interesting choice, and really got
to me. It's not really like any other Kurosawa film,
either. Takashi Shimura is great, and what a face. He
was great as the lead in "Seven Samurai,"
too. My favorite directors are: William Wyler, Fred
Zinneman, Alfred Hitchcock, David Lean, Orson Welles,
John Huston, early Stanley Kubrick (up to "A Clockwork
Orange"), Stanley Kramer, early Martin Scorsese
(up to "Goodfellas"), early Roman Polanski
(up to "The Tenant"), Raoul Walsh, Victor
Fleming, Michael Curtiz, John Ford, Elia Kazan, Vincent
Minnelli, Robert Wise, Billy Wilder, Lewis Milestone,
Akira Kurosawa, King Vidor, Luis Bunuel.
years ago i saw the film the sky above and the mud below,
is there any way that i can see it again?
don't know, is there? I saw it, too, and liked it a
lot. It's never been on TV that I've seen. It's a very
Browning may not have been a great director, and Dracula
isn't a "director's film", or perhaps a very
good one, (A good many folk think the Spanish version,
which was shot at the same time, is ten times better.
I haven't seen it.) but what about "Freaks".
scene where all the freaks invite that one chick to
become one with them is full of great shots, and as
you brought up the other day when discussing George
Miller and the Mad Max films, has a terrific sense of
montage. It also has great sound work "One of us!
One of Us!" I know that when it cuts to certian
freaks you can individually hear, say for example, the
bearded lady saying that line with the rest ranting
in the background, then the pinhead, so on so forth.
Creepy stuff! Creepy not by accident either. Creepy
because it's well done. And "Freaks" was made
in 1932! Just one year after "Dracula", and
it's way more effective today than anything James Whale
ever did. (At least in my opinion.)
think of "Freaks" as being a great "director's
film", therefore I think of Todd Browning as a
Bogdanovich was once talking with Orson Welles and complaining
that some actress (don't recall who) was great but had
only appeared in one decent film. Orson quickly quipped,
"You only need one." I think he was right.
And I think that applies to Browning.
a good one.
I do agree that "Freaks" is Todd Browning's
best film, I still don't think it's particularly well-directed
or written. From his days of working in the circus,
he did have an understanding of the freaks, and handled
them well, but he still doesn't know what to do with
the camera. Quite a lot of the film is purely sensationalistic,
and once you've seen a guy with no arms or legs roll
a cigarette, you've seen it. That the woman becomes
a chicken at the end is pretty ridiculous, I think.
And all of the performances by non-freaks are, as usual
with Browning's films, awful. Once again, James Whale
was 99 times the director that Browning was. There's
nothing in any Todd Browning film as good as the scene
between Frankenstein's monster and the little girl.
And the camera move at the beginning of "Bride,"
inside the burned-out windmill, to the water and the
monster's hand comes out and grabs a beam is brilliant,
and far beyond Browning in all ways.
saw Braveheart mentioned on this web board. I think
this movie is nothing more than a steaming pile of unintelligent
shit. I hold this opinion for several reasons. For now
I will concentrate on one, the historical incorrectness.
Why make a movie based on historical events if you fabricate
the events that make it historical? The whole thing
is a lie and if Mr. Wallace was alive I'm sure he would
raise his sword and split Mr. Gibson in half from the
top of his head to the crack of his ass. If I was going
to make a movie based on historical events I would make
it so true to the actual events that someone could watch
it and use it as a valid reference to write a report.
I think this is the standard by which all historical
events should be handled...
agree with you, although that has nothing to do with
my problems with the film, as I don't know the details
of the true story. I just don't think it's very well-written
or directed. It's like "A Beautiful Mind,"
where Ron Howard felt the true story wasn't "inspiring"
enough, so he dumped all of the drama, like the guy's
wife left him and he turned to boys instead. I think
it's somewhat irresponsible, personally.
MY GOD! I just saw the best film in a while! I have
to share it with you. Well, I'm not sure if you have
seen this film, "Mulholland Drive". If you
ask me, it is one of Lynch's best works. It is one of
my favorite of his next to "Eraserhead". I
know you didn't like "Lost Highway" (I didn't
either). But "Mulholland Drive" is so much
better. It is classic Lynch. You may not like it because
of the non linear structure of it and the complexity
of the plot, but I think you should enjoy it. I have
seen it twice already because the first time, I didn't
know what the hell was going on. The first time I saw
it, I wanted to see it for myself. I wanted to be amazed.
Then the second viewing was even better.. The second
time I saw it, I wanted to solve the puzzle as if I
was a detective, trying to find out what Lynch was aiming
for. I got a lot out of it. "Mulholland Drive"
is a lot of things. If I had to break it down, I would
say it was a surprising, confusing, thought-provoking,
and extremely inventive film. I think it is a great
comeback for David Lynch.
Your comments are the first good things I've heard about
it. I did just watch "The Straight Story"
and I liked that. Maybe Lynch is getting his second
a response to a question from Godmil you stated, "...if
the filmmakers have an interesting story to tell, I
don't really care if they ever do a good shot."
With that in mind, judging Dracula on its story line
and character interaction, what are your thoughts. Is
the storyline to Frankenstein better, or was it the
craft by which it was made?
is sort of a dumb, dated story, and everyone but Lugosi
stinks in the film. As I said, Todd Browning was an
awful director. And yes, I think "Frankenstein"
is a much better story. It's one of the very few monster
movies where you actually care about the monster. Also,
as I've been discussing regarding the difference between
Mel Gibson as a director and George Miller, it's always
a pleasure for me to watch a director work that understands
the medium in which they're working. Neither Gibson
nor Browning understand the medium. If you have a great
script, like "Marty," for instance, you don't
have to be very stylistic, just get out of the way.
However, most scripts aren't anywhere near that good,
and need as much help as the director can give them.
There's also a big difference between watching the work
of a director like Delbert Mann, who was smart enough
to get out of the way in "Marty," and Mel
Gibson, who doesn't really know what he's doing (both
of whom won Oscars). That's the great irony of the Oscars,
by the way, that they'll give Best Director to Mel Gibson
and Robert Redford, but not Martin Scorsese, Alfred
Hitchcock, or Joesph Von Sternberg.
question -- only a comment -- believe it or not, doing
research on 99-Cent Store -- and found your essay --
thought it was hysterical. I don't know your work as
a director, but as social commentator, you do very well.
seem to have become the expert on 99-cent stores from
having written one silly essay about them.
can you call 'Braveheart' a "lunk head" revenge
film and sing songs of praise for 'Mad Max 2'? I'll
give you the benefit of the doubt and say you're trying
to be funny, right? 'Braveheart' is a fantastic film
with battle scenes better than anything before or since.
And the performances are very strong, too.
but I disagree. I liked Bruce Campbell's critique of
"Braveheart," who said that young Wallace
is told, "Use your head, boy," and all that
he or any of them ever use their heads for is getting
hit by clubs.