information on the Official Kevin Smith Foundation/Fund



Q & A    Archive
Page 65

Name: phillip mccrevis
E-mail:

josh,

i 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
-phil

Dear Phil:

Try 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 you can.
Good luck.

Josh

Name: billy bud
E-mail: bb@aol.com

Josh,

Please add "Bottlerocket" to your netflix list. I'd really like to know what you think of it. I'm a major Wes Anderson fan.

Dear Billy:

It is done.

Josh

Name: maheshravi
E-mail: maheshravi8@yahoo.co.in

Dear Josh:

have you got the pictures of william wyler?

Dear Maheshravi:

If 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.

Josh

Name: Court
E-mail:

Hey Josh,

My 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 good work.

Dear Court:

Sam 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 to.

Josh

Name: Darryl Mesaros
E-mail: simonferrer@hotmail.com

Dear Josh,

Do 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).

Yours truly,

Darryl Mesaros

Dear Darryl:

Let's 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.

Josh

Name: pedro
E-mail: sounddesign79@hotmail.com

Dear Josh:

tell us what you thought of darko

Dear Pedro:

"Donnie 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.

Josh

Name: Darryl Mesaros
E-mail: simonferrer@hotmail.com

Dear Josh,

Sorry 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 view.
Yours truly,
Darryl Mesaros

Dear Darryl:

I 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.

Josh

Name: Darryl Mesaros
E-mail: simonferrer@hotmail.com

Dear Josh,

I'm 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 few reasons:

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 in private).
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?

What do you think about this?

Yours truly,
Darryl Mesaros

Dear Darryl:

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.

Josh

Name: Will
E-mail: wdodson52@hotmail.com

Dear Josh:

No 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.

Mr. 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.

Dear Will:

What 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.

Josh

Name: Caroline
E-mail: Tigoo9@yahoo.ca

Hi!

I'm 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 and producer?

I say Rob or Sam, but since you are a director yourself, you're allowed to answer from your experiences.

I thank you very much for your time.
Sorry for my english, I'm French Canadian.

Dear Caroline:

You 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.

Josh

Name: Jason Hartnell
E-mail: j_hartn@hotmail.com

Dear Josh,

I 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.

I 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?

Dear Jason:

I 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.

Josh

Name: Darryl Mesaros
E-mail: simonferrer@hotmail.com

Dear Josh,

I 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 honesty.
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.

Yours truly,

Darryl Mesaros

Dear Darryl:

All 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.

Josh

Name: David
E-mail: david@dustdevil.com

Josh,

This 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 what?

Thanks,
David

Dear David:

My 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 Flip-Book.

Josh

 

Dear David,

You'll want to check out the Public 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.)

Shirley

Name: Blake Eckard
E-mail: bseckard@hotmail.com

Josh,

What the hell does an agent do for a director? Is one needed to make a film with an actual cast and money?

Have 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.

Also, 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.?

I guess it's a two question post.

Have a good one.

Blake

BTW everyone needs to see "Ghost World"!

Dear Blake:

If 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 relatives.

Josh

Name: Jose
E-mail: kungfufighter9@hotmail.com

Dear Mr becker

thankyou 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.

Is there anyway i could contact Sam or Rob?

p.s is running time available in the Uk? I cant find it anywhere!

Dear Jose:

If 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!

Josh

Name: Pavan
E-mail: pavansham@yahoo.co.uk

Dear Josh:

They say that movie reviewers are nothing more than failed filmmakers, jealous at the success of other directors.

I never actually believed that saying, until I read your reviews.

Dear Pavan:

I'm 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.

Josh

Name: S.C.
E-mail: scornett@yahoo.com

Josh,

I'd say more, but I wont. Just: good answer to the "dude" response you got in regards to O.W.

Did 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.

HI,

S.C.

Dear S.C.:

You 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.

Josh

Name: Lucas
E-mail: snoogans@softhome.net

Dear Josh:

You 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?

Cheers,
Lucas

Dear Lucas:

During 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.

Josh

Name: Ray Rantuccio
E-mail: filmsrpriceless@yahoo.com

Dear Josh,

I 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:

"To 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."

What 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.

(BTW, "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. Robinson.)

Dear Ray:

Those 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.

Josh

Name: Ed
E-mail: ednewman5hotmail.com

Dear Josh,

Dude, 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.

I did not care for " The Stranger ", though. Too formulaic.

Ed

Dear Ed:

I'm 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).

Josh

Name: Keith Boyd
E-mail: webmaster@hotmail.com

Dear Josh,

Hi! 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 a lot.

Dear Keith:

"If . . ." 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.

Josh

Name: Darryl Mesaros
E-mail: simonferrer@hotmail.com

Dear Josh,

Thanks 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? I'd rather not shop at Amazon.com (their privacy policy 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?

Yours truly,
Darryl Mesaros

P.S. I don't mean to keep bothering you, but your website helps keep me awake at work. For that, I thank you. D.J.M.

Dear Darryl:

Sorry 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.

Josh

 

Dear Darryl,

Thanks for the heads-up. Boy, that was weird! It's all fixed now.

Shirley

Name: Christopher Stewart Hoins
E-mail: Wardancer0@hotmail.com

Good morning Josh,

How 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."

Dear Christopher:

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.

Josh

Name: Evan Andrews
E-mail: evdoggand@aol.com

Dear Josh:

I 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?
Thanks, Evan

Dear Evan:

It 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.

Josh

Name: Brad Arnold
E-mail:

Dear Josh,

I 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.

You 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.

Damn, "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 study.

Oh 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!

Dear Brad:

You 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 track.

Josh

Name: Darryl Mesaros
E-mail: simonferrer@hotmail.com

Dear Josh,

I 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?

Yours truly,

Darryl Mesaros

Dear Darryl:

James 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.

Josh

Name: Jose
E-mail:
Dear Josh: mr becker

i 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...

hidden meanings and contextual issues within the plot and screenplay of the film.

Which films were key influences and why,

Why do yo think it gained such cult status?

Thanks for you time

Jose.

Dear Jose:

So, 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.

Josh

Name: Darryl Mesaros
E-mail: simonferrer@hotmail.com

Dear Josh,

I 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 you think.

Long-windedly yours,

Darryl Mesaros

Dear Darryl:

I 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.

Josh

Name: Stryker
E-mail: :)

Dear Josh,

From 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.

Dear Stryker:

I 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.

Josh

Name: Stryker
E-mail: :)
Dear Josh: Dear Josh,

If 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.

P.S.

Who are some of your favorite directors?

Dear Stryker:

"Ikiru" 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.

Josh

Name: j pacetti
E-mail: jpacetti@tampabay

Dear Josh:

Many years ago i saw the film the sky above and the mud below, is there any way that i can see it again?

Dear j:

I 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 impressive documentary.

Josh

Name: Blake Eckard
E-mail: bseckard@hotmail.com

Josh,

Yeah, 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".

The 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.)

I think of "Freaks" as being a great "director's film", therefore I think of Todd Browning as a legit director.

Peter 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.

Have a good one.

Blake

Dear Blake:

Although 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.

Josh

Name: Kevin Kindel
E-mail: kindel@mail.mc.maricopa.edu

Josh,

I 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...

Kevin

Dear Kevin:

I 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.

Josh

Name: Brad Arnold
E-mail:

Dear Josh,

OH 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.

Check it out!!

Dear Brad:

Okay. 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 wind.

Josh

Name: Kevin Kindel
E-mail: kindel@mail.mc.maricopa.edu

Josh,

In 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?

Kevin

Dear Kevin:

"Dracula" 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.

Josh

Name: Gigi Levangie
E-mail: LastPunch@aol.com

Dear Josh:

No 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.

G.

Dear Gigi:

I seem to have become the expert on 99-cent stores from having written one silly essay about them.

Josh

Name: Rob
E-mail: robk98@hotmail.com

Josh,

How 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.

Rob.

Dear Rob:

Sorry, 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.

Josh


BACK TO Main Archive Page

BACK TO Current Q&A




Click Here To Submit Your Questions or Comments



BECKERFILMS SITE MENU

[ Main ]  [ Film & TV Work ]  [ Screenplays ] 
[
Reviews ]  [ Articles, Essays & Stories ]  [ Ask the Director ] 
[
Favorite Films ]  [ Scrapbook ]  [ Links (& Afterword) ]  [ Web Team ]

This site is the property of Josh Becker Copyright © 2002 Panoramic Pictures, All Rights Reserved.
Panoramic Pictures Logo