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Page 66

Name: Ron Turner
E-mail: ronscons@telusplanet.net

Dear Josh:

Whoever writes this pile of verbal diarehia needs to bang his head against the blade of a D8 Cat in order to sort out his brains{what little he may have left} Nuf Said!!!

Dear Ron:

Speaking of verbal diarrhea, are you trying to say something? Was there something you disagreed with? Speak up, man, or get lost.

Josh

Name: Nick
E-mail: HandfulofGuitar@aol.com

Dear Josh,

Wow these posts get answered fast! Hats off to you. :-)

I completely agree with your "Saving Private Ryan" review. The movie just seemed like a big, giant steaming pot of explosions and screaming. Now, I say go for it in terms of realism, but I think that the script should have been the most realistic part, not the entrance and exit wounds and explosions. On top of that, when they go and finally FIND this idiot Private Ryan, the guy refuses to go with them. He'd rather fight to the death with his comrades and have his mother receive yet another death notice in the mail. How noble.

Personally, I would have liked to have seen Tom Hanks' character have his men beat him until he was unconscious and CARRIED his butt back to his mother. I mean, that's what we're supposed to be watching the movie for, isn't it? Supposedly it's about Private Ryan being Saved. Nope, instead he just invites yet more people into certain death.

And what's with E.T., anyway? Did you see that they edited out the policemen's guns when E.T. is flying over them on his bicycle? The guns were replaced digitally with walkie talkies, I think it was. Personally, I'd rather have a rifle than a walkie talkie if an extraterrestrial was FLYING at me.

But then, I guess reason and big budgets don't mix.

Take care, Josh, and keep on writing scripts that make sense! :-)

Nick

Dear Nick:

Even if they don't get made. Yes, we here at Beckerfilms.com pride ourselves on our responsiveness. For me, by the time the kids are flying on their bicycles in "E.T." I could care less anyway. I like the first two acts -- which still surprises me -- but I think act three is a disaster. From the moment the house is covered in plastic, it all goes to hell and couldn't end soon enough for me. Meanwhile, I watched "Ghost World" last night, and that wasn't a very good movie. Not entirely awful, but not far from it, either. Both those girls are such morose, dull, bored, uninteresting characters. If it weren't for Steve Buscemi it would have been a total loss. Perhaps kids are like that these days, but they're unworthy of having films made about them.

Josh

Name: Tony Mitchell
E-mail: mitch_2209@hotmail.com

Hi Josh,

I saw "Exodus" starring Paul Newman last night on the big screen and I notice it is on your list of favourite films. I must admit I did not like it very much, it seemed to be all over the place. The story of Newman's character's attempts to get the 611 Jews from the 'Star of David' out of the camp and take them to Pallestine was OK but after that the film became very confusing and I still can't work out why they had to bust the prisoners out of the jail. I must admit that my ass was killing me by that stage. I liked the Ralph Richardson character, though, and enjoyed watching Eva Marie Saint save Newman's life with a fumbling injection into his heart (and then carefully patching up the hole made by the needle) which seemed to take 10 minutes of the film to do. John Derek seemed very impressed. I'd be interested to hear what you liked about this film. I kinda regret going to see it now.
Thanks.

Dear Tony:

It has nostalgic value for me. I saw it as a kid and was impressed as hell, and really felt like I'd learned something -- I was about ten. And I do think it's a good story, very much worth telling. It's that awful Otto Preminger, the sloppiest of Hollywood directors, with a deathly pace. I watched it again on tape five or six years ago and it sure is long, and lumpy, but there's still a spot in my heart for it.

Josh

Name: Ed
E-mail:

Dear Josh,

I saw Alfred Hitchcock's " Rope " recently and was struck by the way he seemed to be trying to stage the story in real time. Was this an influence on your film " Running Time "?

Ed

Dear Ed:

Uh . . . Yeah.

Josh

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

Dear Josh,

I just signed up with Netflix, and the first film that they sent me was THE THIRD MAN (I love this service already!). I thought it was very good, although I was disappointed that Orson Welles' actual screen time is so short (on the DVD, Peter Bogdanovich relates that this was Orson's favorite role, as his character is talked about throughout the first half of the film before you even see him, thus focusing attention on him). I had the film confused with one of the radio plays using the Harry Lime character, THE LUX RADIO THEATER PRESENTS "THE THIRD MAN", so I was expecting a different plot than the one in the film (incidentally, that radio play and one other, "A TICKET TO TANGIERS" are both on the DVD - I'll probably listen to them tonight). It was a great performance, though, one of the best in what I call the "young" phase of Welles' career, before his career went downhill and his weight went up (and up). Carol Reed's direction was very good, and the cinematography was engaging, especially in the use of light (compare the final sewer scenes in THE THIRD MAN with the bathouse scenes from Welles' OTHELLO-do you think that Welles' stole a trick there?). My question to you is this: playing the recasting game again, do you think that anyone else could have played Holly Martins better than Joseph Cotten? It seems to me that he always comes off as something of a milquetoast in all of his roles (his role in CITIZEN KANE might be an exception), and that the role of Holly Martins is no exception. That throws a flaw into the film for me; why would a rogue like Harry Lime be friends with a nelly like Martins? Joseph Cotten makes a few half-hearted attempts at alluding to a criminal background (see the Ferris Wheel scene: "You found a way out of that gambling den when they raided it, but not one for me.."), but it just doesn't seem to fit. It's possible that Reed was looking for a nelly type to contrast the sinister qualities of the plot and the other characters (notice that Martins doesn't speak any German, which puts him at an immediate "fish-out-of-water" disadvantage in an Austrian setting), but I doubt it. Do you think that someone with a tougher screen presence would have done better in the role?

Yours truly,
Darryl Mesaros

Dear Darryl:

I agree, Joseph Cotten is weak. There was such a variety of strong American actors to cast in 1950 -- William Holden, Robert Mitchum, Kirk Douglas, Gregory Peck, Burt Lancaster, Charlton Heston -- who knows? My biggest problem with "The Third Man" is the annoying zither score, which was a big hit that year. It seems inappropriate to me all the way through.

Josh

Name: Noelle
E-mail:

Dear Josh

Hey there. Remember me? Haven't been here awhile. Thought I'd say hello to you and make sure you weren't getting cabin fever or something.

And a question: I have been searching high and low for a movie that you just mentioned "Bedlam." I think I have been to every video store in the metro area and it is not to be found. Is this the same film that is called "Chamber of Horrors?"

Its kinda far from where you are but there's a video store called Movie Madness in Portland that you must check out if you ever go there. Kinda fun just to look at the old movie costumes if nothing else.

Take care

Noelle

Dear Noelle:

Yes, I remember you. "Bedlam" is a 1946 Val Lewton film starring Boris Karloff, and has no alternate title. I looked around a bit, and I couldn't find it for sale. It does appear on TV with some regularity, however.

Josh

Name: Nick
E-mail: HandfulofGuitar@aol.com

Hey Josh!

I'm an aspiring (read: struggling) writer a bit frustrated with the publishers today. I'm also a big fan of "Evil Dead" and I'm trying to figure out where I can get "Thou Shalt Not Kill...Except" and "Running Time". I've read a few scripts on your website and very much liked "The President's Brain Is Missing". This site has so much stuff on it that I've been coming back for a week and haven't read it all.

I have a couple questions for you:

How important is a good soundtrack? I've seen a few good movies with hardly any music at all, but I think that movies are most effective in driving their point home with music. On that note, when a film of yours is going to have music composed for it, do you ever give the composer some guidelines as far as what you want? Or do you let him/her watch the film and figure it out for themselves?

Also, have you ever seen an old horror movie called "The Uninvited"? It's a 1930's movie, I think, and has basically no special effects, masks, or anything like that, but still is very frightening. Scared the bajeezus out of me when I first saw it. Or, maybe I'm just weird. That's always a possibility. They sometimes show it on AMC.

Take care,

Nick

Dear Nick:

I haven't seen "The Uninvited" since I was about eleven, but I recall it being creepy. It was made in 1944, BTW. Regarding movie music, one of my favorite aspects of filmmaking is discussing the prospective score with the composer, which in the case of my films, is Joe LoDuca. Since the score establishes the emotional tone of each scene, it's imperative that the composer and the director agree on what the tone is. Also, Joe is interested in what kind of music I think should be there, even if that's not what he ultimately does. Since Joe is so good, and I completely trust him, if he decides to go in another direction than what I had in mind, then I just let him go there.

Josh

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

Dear Josh,

Yeah, it's strang because I am the only person I know who thinks "Eyes Wide Shut" is utter, pointless bullshit. Because that is what it is, it is just pointless. It has NO story. All it has is a guy leaving after a fight with his wife, the guy witnesses strange stuff, the guy comes back a new man. Bravo! This film is a masterpiece! It seems as if they fought over NOTHING. Am I right?

BTW, Josh, about your Netflix list. There is a few films that you should check out. I don't know if you've checked this one out, but it is a Norwegian 1997 film, "Insomnia", from Erik Skjoldbjærg, written by him and Nikolaj Frobenius. It is being remade by Christopher Nolan starring Al Pacino. Anyhow, you need to check this out. It has brillant acting, an engaging story, a sharp, well-written script, and to top them off, it has eerie but gorgeous cinematography which really fits with the film's remarkable story.

What did you think of "Dead Man Walking"? I found Sean Penn to be quite great in it. Susan Sarandon was good also. I recently watched this film and I was shocked with its story. I really enjoyed it. Sean Penn is one of my favorite actors, too. Some of his films I really don't like and he is horrible in them like "Sweet and Lowdown" et cetera. When he gets good material, he works well with it. I felt "Bad Boys" was an interesting piece for him. He did well and the film really is powerful, even though it does have the tendency to get a bit improbable at times.

Dear Raymond:

I put "Insomnia" on the list. I didn't care for "Dead Man Walking." The story's about the saving of this horrible killer's soul, and I'm supposed to care? I thought it was a shame he only got lethal injection. They should have fried him in the electric chair so his head burst into flames. And I was hoping they'd do it about an hour sooner. Yes, Sean Penn was good, but it wasn't enough for me.

Josh

Name: wally
E-mail: wallymjns@hotmail.com

Dear Josh:

You dont seem to be a big fan of any kind of horror, but what would you say is the scariest film you've ever seen?
Thanks, Wally

Dear Wally:

You see, I actually like my horror films scary. If they're just going through the motions of horror, I could care less. Films that have scared me are: "Rosemary's Baby," "Texas Chainsaw Massacre," "Carrie," "The Tenant," Alien," "Aliens," "The Exorcist," "The Omen," "Repulsion," the Michael Redgrave segment of "Dead of Night (1945)," "The Body Snatcher (1945)," "Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer," "Bedlam."

Josh

Name: Kevin Mills
E-mail: thespythatshagsu@rogers.com

Dear Josh:

I just gotta throw in my two cents on Eyes Wide Shut.

Personally I loved the movie. So I'm on the side of EWS boosters.

But I'm more on the side of free speech....so any faults you see Josh, shout 'em out.

--Kevin Mills

PS: I know what it's liked to be slammed about my film opinions. I'm the only person (pretty much) who posts on www.deadites.net who doesn't think that Sam Raimi is a brilliant film maker. Nor do I think that Bruce Campbell can "do no wrong".

...just to add my two favourite films involving Sam are Evil Dead and TSNKE cause they both have their faults but have alot of heart.

Dear Kevin:

That's why they have horse races -- everyone will bet on a different horse. If I go to hell they'll have "Eyes Wide Shut" and "Magnolia" on an endless loop.

Josh

Name: John
E-mail: Chowkidar@aol.com

Josh,

My two cents on "Eyes Wide Shut". The film struck me as a period piece set in the wrong period. It would have played better as a Belle Epoch film. That having been said, I still found no characters with whom to identify, and none about whom I cared. The idea of a society of several hundred rich people having orgies remaining secret is absurd. Tom Cruise learns about it from a blindfolded piano player so how hard would it be for the press to discover it? The various scenes in the movie are simply that, scenes. They could easily be interchanged with each other with a minimum of rewrite without dramatically effecting the story. What more damning thing could one say about a film? Thanks.

John

Dear John:

Ditto.

Josh

Name: Jim K
E-mail: jamesfkenney@yahoo.com

Dear Josh:

I find your site quite interesting, and your views, while wildly divergent from mine on many occasions, refreshing for their reverence for film history and for picking a director, Wyler, who I think is terrific, although not as much as you do. Cool -- I think it's all too easy for people to say "Hitchcock" or "Ford", which is like saying "The Beatles" for what's your favorite band. It makes sense, but it sheds no light. For me, while I love the greats, the guy I personally like is Bogdanovich -- in fact, I think his big three -- "Picture Show," "What's uP Doc", and "Paper Moon" are terrific, but also his most derivative flicks...I think his best are "Saint Jack" and "They All Laughed," which mix his reverence for film history with a freer on-location filming style (no doubt thanks to Robby Mueller) that sort of created a classic-modern style that was all its own and for me works insanely well -- the point being isn't that I think these films are better than, say, "Vertigo," but that my love for them is a more personal, obsessive love, cuz it isn't shared by all. DId you see either of these later works?

For Wyler, I think "Ben Hur" is worse than "Magnolia" (which I largely like), but I'll back you to the death on "Roman Holiday," "Big Country" "The Collector", etc...and while I think you take the structure issue to extremes, I think it's necessary to "err" in that direction, as what you say is largely true.

Still, I liked (and owned) "TSNK" & "RT" before I ever found out about this site, and while they rest next to "Magnolia" & "Eyes Wide Shut" in my DVD collection (which may make you cringe), I hope it's cool that there are many out there who haven't found this site (not yet anyway) who dug your work even before we knew what an, ahem, "Up front" personality you are.


Recentish Recommendations (which you'll probably hate):

TAPE (New Linlater film, great performances)
DAYTRIPPERS
TAILOR OF PANAMA

Also, a couple of points, hope you don't mind me sharing:

You wrote that you didn't get the elongated fight scene ("Put on the glasses"!) in Carpenter's "They Live": while I don't think the film is all that great, I think that scene is, and for the following reason:

I agreed it was ridiculously long, but realized that was the point--I think he was making a point about how stubborn people are about not wanting to face reality (kind of like your feeling about Hollywood)--I think Carpenter (whose flaws don't usually include really slow scenes) dragged this scene out beyond all reason to show Keith David's inability to want to face the truth out there, which certainly supports the overall theme of the movie. Not that you'll like it any more, but if it's on TV one night and you catch it near that scene, stick around keeping what I said in mind -- see if you agree...

Also, did you see any of Kubrick associate James Harris' recent films? I didn't like "Cop" at all, but I liked "Fast Walking" a lot, and thought the dumped "Boiling Point" was underrated (and mistitled) -- Slow Simmer would've been more appropriate.

Also, do you like the Anthony Mann noirs? (He's another of my personal favorites..."Running Time" would make a good double-feature with "T-Men"!)

But I go on, and it's time for an intermission! Keep up the good work, I'm going to read the Teddy Roosevelt script this weekend. Oh, yeah, one more question regarding "Running Time: When you were getting funding, did people know they were supporting such a short movie? I'm not complaining at all about the running time, I loved it, along with (a guy you hate) Hal Hartley's 60minute "Surviving Desire", two recent films that remind me that a film should only be as long as an idea needs. That being said, I know he had "American Playhouse" supporting him. Did people know that your film was going to be short enough that it would have trouble getting distribution? (I'm assuming that exhibitors ARE nervous about 68 minute movies -- too long to be a short, too short to be a feature)

Dear Jim:

Long letter there, Jim. I put up most of the money for RT myself, and the rest I got from friends who didn't question me. Interestingly, perhaps, is that no distributors have questioned the film's length. I've now got a company handling worldwide and TV sales, and they haven't mentioned it. Meanwhile, I am a big fan of Anthony Mann and I like his noir films a lot, particularly "Raw Deal" and "Side Street" ("Desperate" is kind of dumb, but I like it, too). Mann's westerns with Jimmy Stewart are all very good. Now, regarding Mr. Bogdanovich, I sincerely believe that "The Last Picture Show" is a great film in all departments. I can easily live without every other film in his ouvre. Bruce Campbell and I sat in the theater in 1981 watching "They All laughed" and we were truly astounded at just how awful the film was, and began ridiculing it out loud as there was no one else in the theater. Some reviewer needed to headline their piece, "We All Slept." Quite frankly, I think there was a confluence of talents on "Picture Show" -- Polly Platt, Larry McMurtry, Robert Surtees, Ben Johnson -- that somehow over-rode all of Bogdanovich's bad tendencies. Then, just like Ziggy Stardust, Bogdanovich sucked up into his own mind, and he's been a losy cause ever since. I do think he's good writer about film, though, and I like several of his books. Regarding John Carpenter, I think he's just a hack and doesn't interest me at all.

Josh

Name: Christopher Stewart
E-mail: Talorian@hotmail.com

Dear Josh:

Just to take a step because I'm from a stage origally,
Hi Josh I just wanted to make sure I said this been doing to much to keep track I just launched my Web site at http://www.angelfire.com/gundam/pentangle
It has some screen shots as well as my resume, a few games and stories, I'll add a link to your web site
please help me pramote it.
Oh and Josh I just wanted to enjoy a cup of lemonade with an old friend
Lemonade
did I mention that something never in my resume is that I used to be a lemonade stand with a little known off broadway theater company called Penny Bridge Players with Sally Forbs, and "Robin" Tara Rubins I also worked with Jim Sisco in high school a little touch of magic in the night No I never leave a broadway stage at least not in my heart
Take care my friend
Christopher

Dear Christopher:

You act like I know you, but I have no recollection of you. You write like English is your second or third language. You might want to try asking if you can put a link on my website instead of telling me.

Josh

Name: Court
E-mail:

Hey Josh,

After months and months of watching stupid crap claiming to be horror, i think i have found a film that can actually live up to the title. The Film is "Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer". I have to admit though, before watching it, the title threw me off guard, because it sounded like something that would be produced by The Lifetime Channel, and possibly starring Beau Bridges(dear god, haha). Yet, it was amazing. The intensity of this film was truly great. I dont get scared of films easily, but after watching this i found myself sweating heavily. Mike Rooker, was awsome as the title character; and i thought it to be very pleasing that the movie that frightened me that most wasnt filled with gore, and over the top blood(even though i love that stuff, haha) but it was a great, and new twist to me. John McNaughton, the director i think was brilliant because of the way he used the atmosphere, and "grittyness" to his advantage. It seemed as if Oliver Stone was trying to capture that type of thing again with Natural Born Killers, but it didnt have the same effect. Well, i hope youve seen this film so you could understand what im trying to say, or tell me some of your thoughts on it; if not, you should check it out sometime. Anways, thanks Josh.

Dear Court:

Boy, you're acting like the film is something new. Yes, I saw it when it came out (it's on my fav list), and I think it's quite good. And it scared me, too. I really liked that you begin to care for Henry, and begin to hope that his relationship with the girl will work out somehow. I also like McNaughton's film "Mad Dog and Glory."

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

I recently saw the new version of "The Exorcist", and was impressed. The producers of the new version had performed some technical wizardry on the film, and it no longer had that old look to it. Can you shed a little more light on the method they used to achieve, to my eyes, a pretty cool trick?

Cheers,
Lucas

Dear Lucas:

"The Exorcist" was gorgeously photographed by the great cinematographer, Owen Roizman. Although I haven't seen the updated version, I'd guess they simply did a new, high-quality video transfer, and now you're getting to see what the film really looks like.

Josh

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

Josh,

Just for the hoot and hollering aspect of it, I'm gonna interject into the current "Eyes Wide Shut" conversation. While I certainly don't think it's Kubrick's best picture, I definately don't think the film is any where near as inept as you proclaim.

I agree totally with Ed when he talks about the basis and underlining themes-emotions that are "under the surface" between Kidman and Cruise in the bedroom scene. The whole thing about Kidman being envious of Cruise, and that being the reason she tells, or I alway thought possibly made up, the story of the wished affair with the navy dude, is a good and quite interesting answer.

On the other hand, I must say I believe you are in the right when it comes to the film's pace. "Eyes Wide Shut", in my opion, needs an editor more than "Barry Lyndon". EYS shouldn't have been over 110 minutes. Kubrick just lost his timing.

His films did become, to a certain degree, bloated and pretentious, but he was the last living director whom I considered a genius. That's no doubt.

Have a good one.

Blake

Dear Blake:

Another country heard from. I still don't understand where Kidman's righteous indignation came from, considering she was dancing the handsome older guy the entire time Tom was flirting with the girls. I don't even think it's basic theme means anything. I don't think it has a point, or has any idea what it's trying to say.

Josh

Name: Austin
E-mail: bmxfreak420@juno.com

Josh,

I am making a movie on vietnam and i need some low budget film ideas. Vietnam is pretty tricky to do, but im sure with your advice i i'll be able to pull it off.

Dear Austin:

You're soliciting story ideas from me? I say, if you can't think of a story, maybe you're not a filmmaker. Filmmakers are just storytellers, and if you haven't got any stories to tell, maybe you're going into the wrong profession. Then again, try reading a book.

Josh

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

Dear Josh,

I have to get into this "Eyes Wide Shut" argument if you don't mind. Now, ten minutes into the film, I couldn't care less about these characters. I swear to you, I lost interest in them ten minutes into the film and keep in mind that this was 159 minutes long. No wonder why I lost interest easily, it takes 2 1/2 hours to delve into an uninteresting marriage and it winds up, coming up with absolutely no insights whatsoever. The characters are shallow and insipid, the orgy plot was seemingly predictable and pointless, and the mood of the film was somewhere between dull and turgid. I agree with you, Josh, the film was a complete disaster, a mess from start to finish. To me, this is a film that has nothing going for it. "Eyes Wide Shut" is nothing more than a long build up to a tedious, uninteresting mystery with no solution. Someone tell me, why did it have to be so long?

Dear Raymond:

My feelings exactly. Why it's so damn long is that Kubrick was old, and old directors seem to lose their sense of pace. That's my problem with Kurosawa's "Ran" (and "Kagemusha"), every shot just hangs there, and I keep chanting in my head, "Cut. Cut now. No, no, cut now. For God's sake, cut already." Then it finally cuts.

Josh

Name: Ed
E-mail: ednewman5@hotmail.com

Dear Josh,

I read your review of " Eyes Wide Shut ". I was struck by two things: (1) you say Kubrick didn't know what he was doing with the scene where Cruise and Kidman have a fight. Here's my take: Kidman is angered by the fact that Cruise is so sure she wouldn't have sex with someone else, because she is jealous of him but he is confident about her fidelity. She then tells him about an incident where she almost did have sex with someone else, and its this information that shatters Cruise's confidence and sends him on his odyssey of revenge fucking.

(2) You also say that because the Kube was old he had no sense of pace. In fact, Kubrick's controlled pacing was influenced by the slow pacing of the equally brilliant " Pulp Fiction ", which was made around that time. (This is documented in Frederic Raphael's book on Kubrick.) You mentioned that you can't see the sex in the orgy scene. That's because you've got the censored American version, if you want to see Kubrick's original uncensored version, order the European dvd.

As to whether a director over the age of 70 can't make a good movie, I would point to Akira Kurosawa's " Ran ", which is his best film.

Ed

Dear Ed:

We just disagree. And I read Fredric Raphael's book, "Eyes Wide Open," and have to agree with him, that Arthur Schnitzler's story wasn't very good to begin with, and it didn't make the transition to modern day. As depicted by Rapheal, Kubrick never knew what he wanted from that story, and it only got worse as they went along. For me, the film was like watching paint dry. I'm not a very big fan of "Ran," either, and I certainly don't think it's Kurosawa's best by any stretch of the imagination. So we disagree. Anyone else see "Eyes Wide Shut"? What do we think?

Josh

Name: Deana
E-mail: DeanaLackey@msn.com

Josh:

I heard that you think most movies are rubbish. I happen to agree with that wholeheartedly. There are very few movies I even go see at the theater -- 2 or 3 out of every 50 that catch my eye, once every two or three months (that's here in the states). I am curious to know why you feel this way. I personally feel this way because it's a money-pumping machine -- Hollywood -- first and foremost and sex and violence sells universally -- thus, easy bucks. Quality is important, diversity is important (in subject matter, dialogue, actresses, actors (in other words, use DIFFERENT ACTORS FOR A CHANGE!), etc. Thanks.

Dear Deana:

That seems to be my claim to fame, that I think most recent films are rubbish. If it weren't for some HBO and Showtime films, I'd think that some sort of toxic substance had gotten into the water or air that was making humanity progressively more brain dead. Perhaps it's the proliferation of technology and communication. Everyone is both daunted and at a loss for words, so they just keep saying the same things they've already said.

Josh

Name: Vadim
E-mail: vadox@yahoo.com

Dear Josh,

It seems you believe that three-dimensional characters are much more important than great cinematography in telling a story. I think for many films that is true, BUT... Going back to Stanley Kubrick, how would you explain 2001: A Space Odyssey, which holds almost entirely on sweeping visuals, but has characters that are as cold and distant from what we can relate to as they can be? In fact, almost the entire first 30 minutes of the film are played out with absolutely no dialogue, relying only on the amazing cinematography, editing, and music. And yet, it captures our imagination and holds it until the end credits start to roll. If you look at film as visual art, I think in some cases it is possible to have a film that holds up on visuals, editing, and sound alone, as long as it has an interesting concept. What do you think?


Vadim

Dear Vadim:

There are exceptions to every rule, but not many of them. I disagree that "2001" holds up to the end credits. I think all of part three, "Jupiter and Beyond" is nonsense that doesn't hold up, and never really worked. I must say that the film doesn't hold up very well on a simple logic level -- if HAL doesn't want Keir Dullea back in that ship, he's not getting back on, and firing yourself through space with no helmet is a bad answer to the problem. And why does HAL then let him get a space suit and lobotomize him? I don't buy it. I'm also not crazy about the visuals being cut to the music, as opposed to the music scoring the visuals. Anyway, I just flatly disagree with what goes into a good movie. To say "it's a visual medium" is to miss film's major purpose, which is that it's a story medium. If you can make story visual, great. But if you haven't got a story to tell, then all the visuals in the world don't mean dick.

Josh

Name: D.Huffman
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

This is in response to an earlier post but I have heard many people say that there hasn't been any good movies come out. "What's with all the Rap/Metal in all these movies?" one would quip. "Goddamn, Panic room wasn't very good at all." sez another. "What's with the musketeer's doing Karate and shit?" sez my-brother-in-law "Didn't they already make Planet of the Apes five other times?" (That one comes from me) These are people that have no clue as to what goes into making a film, or have any interest. A guy at work saw Blade 2 and said "Man, the fight scenes were awesome but that was pretty much it, the plot was nothing." He's planning on seeing it again with a friend this weekend. Knowing that the current trend in movies is nothing but kung fu fights makes my heart just sink. With all the wire work in movies now I guess it's a good time to be a rigger.

p.s. I really fucking hate Hobbits

Dear D.:

Does this bring you to some sort of conclusion, or is hating hobbits the conclusion? BTW, the stunt men set up their own wire-rigs. I'll tell you what's missing from all these recent films, beside not having decent stories, is there is a complete lack of honesty and sincerity. Art is an honest expression of the human condition. All these recent films have nothing to say about the human condition, they're just trying to be tricky, which is a bore. No one seems willing to look within themselves and observe what's really going on. They all want to hide behind ridiculous camera moves, overbearing music, and pointless effects. I'll go you one further here. A film like "Marty," which has almost no style, is a much better example of filmmaking than "Requiem for a Dream," which is nothing but style. Good filmmaking is not necessarily about moving the camera, it's about making what's on camera matter. Every director wants to go straight to being an artist without bothering to be a craftsperson first, and you can't be an artist without knowing your craft. A craftless artist is a fake, and ultimately a pretentious bore.

Josh

Name: Ryan
E-mail: rhmill74@hotmail.com

Dear Josh:

Do you recommend joining Netflix? Are they easy to deal with? how long do they take to send you the movies you rent?

Dear Ryan:

I'm enjoying it so far. It only seems to make sense for those that watch a lot of films every month. The service seems pretty snappy, so far, and I've liked opening my mailbox and finding movies there. It makes sense for someone living in the middle of nowhere, as I now am.

Josh

Name: Sean Casey
E-mail:

Dear Josh,

I don't agree with whoever thinks "Eyes Wide Shut" is Kubrick's best work. He said that it was his best work? So what? What does that mean? Nowadays, almost every filmmaker rants and raves about how their current project is going to be their best. Am I right?

Josh, "Made", I found to be a pleasure watching. I can see how one could think it would be boring or wearisome (as you called it), but I agree when you say it is about characters and not endless camera angles. Vince Vaughn is at his best in a while now and Favreau is outstanding.

I do believe "The Arrival" is on your Netflix list and even though the third act falls flat on its face, the film is an enjoying, well-acted, and satisfying fare.

"Requiem For a Dream" was excellent on every level; great adaption, outstanding performances, neat camera work and a tidy script. Even though Aronofsky used endless amounts of camera angles, he still did a good job with the film. All in all, it is an interesting character-study film about addition. "Drugstore Cowboy" was the opposite. Okay..."Drugstore" had NO point. It was about NOTHING and Gus Van Sant is a hack along with actor Dillon who is uninteresting and a bore.

I would skip "Ghost World". It started okay, but then it failed trying to maintain its characters and their actions. The aftermath was a bore of a film that leads nowhere with no message whatsoever. Very pointless and meaningless.

P.s. Good luck with your book, what is it about? I know I'll be looking forward to it!!

Dear Sean:

I'll take "Drugstore Cowboy," which I think is a really terrific film, over "Requiem for a Dream," which I found to be pretentious crap, any day of the week. And I completely disagree regarding the points of these stories -- "Drugstore Cowboy" does have a point, and "Requiem" doesn't. "Requiem" is one more drug addiction story with a dramatic arc that goes straight down, which is just poor drama. I really can't disagree about this more. I must also say that Gus Van Sant, who indeed has become a hack, understands heroin better than Aronofsky. I also cared about the characters in "Drugstore" and I didn't give a crap about them in "Requiem."

My book, BTW, is called "The Complete Guide to Low-Budget Feature Filmmaking."

Josh

Name: Ed
E-mail: ednewman5@hotmail.com

Dear Josh,

I have to disagree with what you said about " A Clockwork Orange " being Kubrick's best work. "Eyes Wide Shut " is Kubrick's best film. In terms of human emotion, it's a far more sophisticated work than " A Clockwork Orange ", and the lighting and composition he achieved on " Eyes Wide Shut " are also superior. Even Kubrick said it was his best film. Who can argue with the Kube?

Ed

Dear Ed:

I'm not going here. Read my review and get back.

Josh

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

Dear Josh,

I noticed that someone posted a mention of THE HIDDEN FORTRESS on the site, and it got me to thinking about the partnership between Kurosawa and Toshiro Mifune, then about the career of Mifune in general. What did you think of one of his later films, THE CHALLENGE (also titled SWORD OF THE NINJA)? I thought it was an interesting blend of Western action and Eastern martial arts, and that Scott Glenn didn't play up the "fish out of water" American in Japan approach too much. Mifune's character seemed a little distant, perhaps because the perspective is from Scott Glenn's character, who naturally sees Mifune as an inscrutable foreigner. However, he still brings his usual fire and energy to the part (I don't recall exactly when Mifune was born, but I would say that he was in his late sixties when he made THE CHALLENGE), and convincingly portrays a much younger man in a flashback sequence. It is definitely a genre piece, but one I feel is of superior quality. What do you think?

Darryl Mesaros

Dear Darryl:

I saw it when it came out and it went in one ear and out the other. It seemed like nothing special, particularly since it was John Frankenheimer still slumming. Toshiro Mifune was born in 1920, and "The Challenge" was 1982, so he was 62.

Josh

Name: Sean Casey
E-mail:

Dear Josh,

You know what would be a good idea? You should write reviews on the recent films that you did or didn't enjoy like the reviews you did in the 'Summer 1998 Video-round up'.

Another thing, someone has mentioned the Russel Crowe Austrailan film, "Romper Stomper". Out of every Russel Crowe film I have seen, this one is the most powerful, the most thought-provoking and the most gripping. The reason why this is so good in my opinion is because unlike other filmmakers, Geoffery Wright doesn't leave the viewer with a mention. He leaves us to decide.

Dear Sean:

It's on the list. I'm too busy writing my book right now to write reviews. None of these recent films have inspired to want to write about them, either.

Josh

Name: Stryker
E-mail: :)

Dear Josh,

What do you think of Kurosawa's The Hidden Fortress? I think that along with Seven Samurai, Ikiru, and Ran it's one of his best achievements. George Lucas also said that it influenced Star Wars, ( if you watch it, you can see the similarity ).

Dear Stryker:

I liked it, and there's no question that's where the entire plot for "Star Wars" comes from. I also like "High and Low," "Yojimbo," "Sanjuro," "Throne of Blood," and "Dersu Uzala." Although I must admit that "Ran" bored me to tears. It's so obviously a movie made by an old man with no sense of pace anymore. I felt like he wouldn't say cut until all the film ran through the camera.

Josh

Name: Stryker
E-mail: :)

Dear Josh,

When you said that "early" Stanley Kubrick was one of your favorite directors, waht is that supposed to mean? Are you saying that Full Metal Jacket is bad? Sure, I can agree with Barry Lyndon, The Shining and Eyes Wide Shut being bad, but Full Metal Jacket?

P.S.

Don't rent the 47 Ronin if you want to see a good Mizoguchi film, rent Ugetsu like I said, or also film critic Derek Malcolm recommends The Story Of The Last Chrysanthemums an early piece from Mizoguchi ( it was made in 1939 ).

Dear Stryker:

No, I'm not a big fan of "Full Metal Jacket," although it certainly contains a number of good things. I think Vincent D'Onofrio killing the DI is nonsense, Matthew Modine is a weak lead and I could care less that he's a photographer with Stars & Stripes, and that it all turns out to be a girl sniper just falls flat -- she's killed a half dozen guys, who cares what her age or sex are? Also, having seen "The Boys in Company C" again recently, it shocked me to find R. Lee Ermey (who played Bruce's dad on "Briscoe") as the DI doing all the same things he does in FMJ, ten years later. I do like the boot camp scenes, even though I'd felt like I'd seen it all many times before. I also like the whole battle with the sniper, just not the pay-off. I must say, however, that film never convinces me I'm in Vietnam -- it looks like it was shot outside London, which it was. Therefore, I still contend that Kubrick's career went from "The Killing" in 1955 to "A Clockwork Orange" in 1970.

Josh

Name: Jim
E-mail: JEaganfilm@aol.com

Josh,

Another question for ya on that neverending "why do current movies suck so much" topic. It seems like people here can't stop discussing it, yet I don't see a hell of a lot of people complaining outside of your site. And that's basically my question: Do you think that audiences are to blame for this? You've said countless times that the current studio system is mostly to blame, but isnt it fair to also lay some of the blame on audiences? I mean, if the studios felt they could make money off of smart, literate films, don't you think they would be at least trying for that?

Of course this is all hypothetical, but just for fun lets say that on a fluke, you were given $30 million to shoot one of your best scripts. Do you think you would be able to make your money back? Do you think current audiences would respond to your film? Because that's the real question. If current audiences truly want classically made films, then clearly the studios are missing the boat. But I think these guys are able to sniff out where the money is, and they know it isnt in a modern day Bridge on the River Kwai. They may not even know HOW to make another Bridge, but based on their extensive research, the audience for a film like that simply isnt there.

Personally, I just think that audiences are just sheep. I think that they are herded in by advertising and marketing and have mostly made their judgements about a movie before they see it. Can you imagine many comic-book fans being truly disappointed with the new Spiderman movie? They are already sold on it and will love it regardless. I think audiences have completely lost the critical mindset when they enter the movie theater, and as long as it doesn't bore them or confuse them, they'll be entirely satisfied. Heck, sometimes its even ok if they're bored and confused. As long as they aren't challenged.

Dear Jim:

If your research tells you that the main movie-going audience is 12-16 males, then that's who everything is geared for. That doesn't mean that's the only audience out there, it's just the most dependable and the least critical. Precedents prove that if the film has a lot of special effects, it'll probably interest the 12-16 males. In fact, though, the baby-boomer audience is larger, but being grown-up adults, they're harder to hook. You actually have to come up with a story that interests them, and the folks in Hollywood don't know what that is or how that's achieved. So a large part of the audience is simply ignored now. I'm not saying they shouldn't make "Spiderman," but I'm also saying that "The Bridge on the River Kwai" would in fact still sell, but to another audience. It might even get some of the young boys, too. I don't blame 12-16 boys for liking junk, that's their job -- who else would want all that breakfast cereals, candy, and video games. I blame Hollywood for only catering to them.

Josh

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

Josh,

I've gotta know what you mean when you keep going on aobut your Netflix list. What the hell is a Netflix list?

By the way, there's a rather large error in one of your essays. I believe it's the Making of Hammer one. In mention of Peter Bogdanovich's latest book, you put the title down as "Who the Hell Made it". The actual title is "Who the Devil Made it" from Howard Hawks' quote.

I also think you need to try out Zwigoff's "Ghost World". I found it excellent beyond expectation and am going to buy the DVD (I don't even own a player yet).

Have a good one.

Blake

Dear Blake:

That certainly is a mistake, and worse still because I've read the book twice. BTW, it really seems to me that there ought to be a question mark at the end of "Who the Devil Made it?" since it was a question Hawks was putting forth. Netflix is a service on the internet where you pay $20 a month for an unlimited amount of DVDs. You just keep putting the movies you want on a list, and as they become available they send them to you. "Ghost World" is already on my list. I watched "Made" last night, which I found wearisome, unbelievable, and one-dimensional, but at least it was about characters, not camera work and meaningless story twists.

Josh


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