you idea if Anchor Bay will release some day 'Thou Shall
Not Kill...Except' and 'Running Time' in Europe (region
And an 'Evil Dead' question. Which is the 'Evil Dead'
aspect ratio? 1:33 or 1:85?
I don't believe they will. They don't really do European
releases. They did release RT in England, though. Anyway,
ED was shot in 16mm in a 1.33:1 format, but it was shot
with the idea of blowing up to 35mm and 1.85:1, and
that's how it came out.
think you missed the whole point of the movie. The dude
stands for lowered ambitions, expectations. He is the
ultimate American. The man who is not pissed off about
his lot in life. In fact, he is totally at ease with
it. He has his bowling buddies, his bowling, and his
weed. That's all he needs.
Everyone thinks they are going to be the next Tom Cruise,
the next Steven Spielberg, the next Ernest Hemingway
but that's all bullshit. Look at it from a different
perspective. This is inventive stuff. Never have I seen
a character so comfortable in obscurity. It's beautiful
to see him go through such turmoil and in the end say,
"The Dude abides." You know why? Because he
will. And so will I.
you talking about "The Big Lebowski"? It would
be helpful if you said so. Maybe I missed the whole
point, maybe that's my problem. Maybe Coen bros. movies
are just too damn smart for me.
you ever watch those entertainment news shows, like
ET or Access or whatever? They sort of serve as a reminder
to me why Hollywood movies are becoming totally irrelevant.
You want to be depressed, leave E! on all day. This
pisses me off because I recently came to the conclusion
that, for the most part, the best movies have all been
made under the studio system. That's not to say that
great independent movies have not been made, but it
seems to me that the movies I love watching over and
over were made with big studio budgets and just happened
to be made in a time when smart scripts and talented
directors were around and actually used. That combination
of money and talent seems to be the spark for truly
classic movies, and without the money (and perhaps the
talent) they have all but evaporated. I can always seek
out the good indie film, but there's just something
about a great big Hollywood classic that can't be equalled..
And its really sad that, basically, this sort of film
is nonexistent. The big news nowadays is that Superman
5 has the greenlight and that Jon Peters cried when
he read the script. Can't wait.
another note, I saw Serving Sara recently. As I'm sure
Bruce would readily admit, its a baaaad movie. From
my non-biased point of view, his scenes were about the
only entertaining ones in the entire film. I fail to
understand how these incredibly boring tv-actors like
Matt Perry and Liz Hurley keep getting major roles in
major movies. The two of them were on-screen 99% of
the running time and (not to kiss his ass) but Bruce
provided more laughs in his 1%. And even forgetting
about Bruce, practically all the minor characters in
the film were more interesting than the leads. These
are characters that had probably one line of description
in the entire script (probably less for Bruce), and
yet they made an impression. I'm aware that Perry and
Hurley do something for the box office (though apparently
not a helluva lot this time). Maybe its just me, but
the pool of great lead actors seems to be diminishing
along with the quality of scripts in Hollywood. I don't
think that its for lack of great actors even, but Hollywood
seems more and more intent on casting the blandest,
more boring fucks for their movies. Mel Gibson, Mike
Myers, Vin Diesel, Ben Affleck, Will Smith, Tom Cruise,
George Clooney, and Jackie Chan. And unfortunately the
older guys like Deniro, Pacino, and Hopkins seem bored
out of their minds. So anyways, what else is new. I
did see a good documentary recently called Paradise
Lost, seen it?
I don't watch those shows. I don't read the trade papers,
either. And yes, "Serving Sarah" was wretched.
I sat next to Bruce at the screening and he intentionally
crinkled a candy wrapper in my ear the whole film, obviously
trying to distract me from the film. It takes both taste
and guts to be a good film executive, and there hasn't
been one of those in about 25 years. Now they're all
frightened little rabbits with MBAs.
just saw Oliver Stone's film NIXON, and was curious
as to what you thought of it. Personally, I can see
why you quoted that writer in reference to him ("Old
directors don't die; they become cinematographers").
All of the rapid cuts to different angles, black and
white, morphed archive footage, or undercranked hyper-reality
must have given his editing team wet dreams. Apart from
that, however, I thought that Anthony Hopkins gave a
compelling performance, and the actor who portrayed
Henry Kissinger was dead-on.
I also saw an interesting documentary on HBO the other
night (I know you like documentaries), called AMERICAN
PIMP. It was (obviously) about pimps in the United States,
and about the difference in their lifestyle from what
is portrayed in the movies. If you haven't seen it,
I recommend it.
saw it and it was creepy. That women put their trust,
as well as all their money, in those guys' hands is
insane. Meanwhile, I never accepted Hopkins as Nixon
for a single second, and it undermined the whole film
for me, as well as all the stupid, meaningless cutting,
morphing, and switching to b&w. Stone has become
a big jerk-off. That's Paul Sorvino as Kissinger and
he is very good.
got a nice little scoop for you that I thought you might
weekend (September 20-22) I attended a small, but nonetheless
interesting film festival in downtown New Haven, Connecticut.
Interestingly enough, it was located just across the
street from Yale University, or what I tend to call
the course of the three-day gathering, I was able to
get a good look at what passes for a festival-worthy
independent film, albeit a very minor and fledgling
festival. I saw a few good films that fit well into
the present Indie Mold (such as KAATERSKILL FALLS, a
"psychodrama" that takes its inspiration from
Polanski's A KNIFE IN THE WATER), some decent films
that work well in a specific niche (Like TV actor Tony
Shalhoub's directorial debut MADE-UP, which operates
as a mockumentary about women who are "coming of
middle-age"), and some downright Worthless movies
(i.e. GLISSANDO, a DV flick about a father and son and
the woman that would tear them apart, if the fucking
story actually went anywhere).
festival itself is only in its seventh year, but I'm
more than sure that in a few years it would easily gain
momentum. After all, the fact is that Connecticut happens
to be the United States' nexus for Old Money, and there
happens to be a great deal of celebrities in the tri-county
area (Paul Newman, Jane Curtain, Tim Robbins and Susan
Sarandon, Dave Letterman, Martha Stewart...) The whole
organization has some great potential for expansion.
after one of the showings (when the filmmakers of the
movie held a Q & A session), I approached one of
the organizers of the festival, to squeeze a little
info out of her about submitting material for next year's
competition. I began by finding out a bit that pertains
to my own situation (Wannabe filmmaker with plenty of
time on his hands and a million project ideas rumbling
in his head), and how I might submit.
simply because the idea struck me, I informed the organizer
of your own situation: smart indie director being squashed
by the inequities of today's film markets, with a new
movie under his belt that's dug a deep trench in his
wallet; and despite getting great reviews for the movie,
no other festival wants to pick it up. I made sure she
knew about your current tactics of distributing the
film yourself as a sort of poor man's Cassavetes, but
she assured me that it wouldn't infringe on your ability
to qualify for acceptance.
for next year's festival start as early as late December,
although you're free to pass the organizers a tape of
"Hammer" earlier than that. Check out their
website for more details:
luck. Perhaps both our efforts will make it into the
for the info and heads up. Maybe I will submit it, we'll
see. I hope you get a film made to submit.
took a trip to the 99 cent store on LaBrea today and
was amused to see that they now sell condoms! I've been
a 99 cent store shopper for about 3 years now and I
never remember seeing condoms there before. They had
a rack full of brands which included "Pure Pleasure",
"Fantasy", "Sensitive" and my personal
favorite "Reality". The condoms were right
next to "Ready Lube" which came in a gigantic
tube far bigger then any tooth paste tube I have ever
seen. Next to that was a shelf full of "Daisy"
pregnancy tests and these were next to a whole bunch
of baby care products. Gotta love that 99 cent store!
I got a bottle of tub and shower cleaner that smelled
so disgusting that I threw it out less then 2 hours
after it's purchase. Oh well, it was only 99 cents.
the chance you take at the 99-cent store. I'm sure those
condoms are extremely trustworthy, too. There's nothing
like a dose of reality.
want you to be aware that someone has been plagiarizing
your words on the discussion boards at Rotten Tomatoes.
I have no clue the motive of this person but he seems
to want to give people the impression that your words
are his. Now, I wouldn't be writing to you if you couldn't
do anything but I believe you should confront this guy
at the discussion boards and set him straight. For some
reason he is denying everything. I think a little scare
from you will do the kid some good. Below are the links
to some of what this kid is saying (his handle is "filmsRpriceless"):
one is the most blatant:
are some lesser offenses but offenses none the less:
for taking the time to read this and if you decide to
help this kid out, thanks in advance.
absolutely correct, that guy is ripping me off blind.
I guess he likes my reviews. I didn't feel like signing
up on Rotten Tomatoes so I couldn't respond, but you
could. Tell him he's thief and a plagiarist and give
the address to my reviews he's stealing. You can quote
this letter. Thanks for the heads up.
have to admit to a certain curiosity concerning several
of the films on your favorites list and several that
you have mentioned not liking. You have often cited
a film's inability to hold your interest, generally
due to story problems. There are those films, such as
"Tarzan and His Mate", "20,000 Leagues
Under The Sea" or "Captains Courageous",
where the story is so well known as to be almost a non-factor,
if you get my meaning. There one falls back on execution
of the story, obviously exceptional in the movies listed
above. Yet you take a movie like "Chariots of Fire",
to which I admit a personal devotion, and say (in an
earlier reply to me) that the execution was fine but
the story failed. Others, myself included, saw a complex,
allegorical and true story with discernible character
development. I wonder how you would evaluate your ability
to step away from personal preference in your evaluation
of a story's interest. Are there, for instance, films
whose themes or subject matter you did not find personally
compelling, yet appreciated on a more general basis?
know that the argument could and should be made that
an intelligent person should be able to find something
interesting in a well written story, but I'll also admit
to an appreciation of many classics of literature which
far exceeds my actual enjoyment of those classics. If
I never read "Moby Dick" again it'll be too
soon, but I recognize its value. I also appreciate that
this is a forum largely centered on your own views and
preferences, yet you've never indicated that you would
express your opinions differently in another forum.
By the way, I doubt this issue could come up all that
often since even a good film you did not find compelling
would still have to be a good film and those seem in
short supply these days. Thanks as always,
the story does matter, even if it's an old one. And
"Tarzan and His Mate" is full of surprising
story elements, like right at the beginning they are
attacked by mean, aggressive apes on a mountain that
throw boulders down on them. Who could expect that?
I don't like "Chariots of Fire" mainly because
both leads are dull, and the execution is slow. I mean,
Hugh Hudson certainly didn't turn out to be a very impressive
director. And who are those two guys in the leads? Nobodies.
Once again, there was a TV movie at the same time called
"The First Olympics" with David Ogden Stiers
that much better.
on its omissin among your favorites, I'm guessing that
you didn't enjoy "The Princess Bride" at all.
I admit that I am hardpressed to delineate the act structure,
but I found the irony entertaining. Maybe irony is a
wrong word, since it usually implies not only something
unexpected, but some significant reveal or change (a
homocide detective eventually becomes a killer after
identifying with them for so long). But two swordsman
casually bantering while they fight is certainly something
you wouldn't expect. Anyway, I think it loses steam
once Westley dies and is revived, but I can watch it
until the end probably at least every six months or
so. What do you think about it?
film amused me, I certainly didn't hate it. I didn't
love it, either, but having read the book when it came
out many years before, I though they did a pretty good
job of bringing it to the screen. And I thought Wally
Shawn was funny.
see the subject of Magnolia has been brought up yet
again. I think an important topic of discussion is the
plague of self indulgence that most of today's up and
coming filmmakers are guilty of. BTW Josh, I think you
were being too kind when you said Magnolia had 30 minutes
of story. It seems to me that because the 80's were
chocked full of popcorn movies, today's up and coming
filmmakers, like Pul Thomas Anderson, and Chris Nolan,
feel the need to rebel against the "hollywood norm",
and make pretentious films, because they think it makes
them look intelligent. I see both Magnolia and Memento
as the aformentioned director's big middle fingers to
the audience. With those films they are saying "look
how intelligent I am, I'm so intelligent that you won't
even understand what i'm trying to say." In actuallity
many people know they have absolutely nothing to say,
and wont fall for the pretension. Filmmaking has become
a very selfish medium since the neo independent film
boom, that started with Tarantino. No one is interested
in telling a story anymore. filmmakers are only intersted
in making a mark in society without putting in the effort.
It seems as if the product is limited to contrived big
budget crap, or low budget self indulgence. Why can't
people just tell a stories anymore?
certainly is a good question, and I entirely agree with
your assessment of the situation. When I was younger,
say twenty years ago, when critiquing a film the single
worst thing you could level at a filmmaker was being
being pretentious. Now it's just par for the course.
I think younger filmmakers won't just tell a story because
no one is willing to be sincere. If you sincerely do
your best and no one likes it, that hurts. But if it's
all pretention, there's nothing to be taken seriously.
I find it very distressing.
think Michael has a valid point. Sometimes I wish you
would elaborate more on why you did not like a certain
film. I think that most of us who frequent your site
do so because you are a very opinionated film viewer.
It would be nice to find out why a particular film bored
I did my best regarding the excerable "Magnolia,"
without actually having to suffer through it again.
thoughts on the upcoming movie "Phone Booth"?
It's an intriguing premise but I doubt that it'll be
enough to carry the entire movie even with a running
time of only eighty minutes. I just saw the short it
was based on called "End of the Line" over
at Ifilm (http://www.ifilm.com/ifilm/product/film_info/0,3699,2398940,00.html)
and it was unable to amount to anything more than an
think it has the potential to be a good movie but I
don't think the director (Schumacher) or writer (Larry
Cohen) will be able to turn it into one. At least they
made the right choice in casting Kiefer Sutherland as
the caller which leads me to an interesting question.
If Sutherland is never seen in the film, would he technically
be eligible for an oscar nomination? On the flip side,
if an actor never spoke would they be eligible for a
don't know anything about it, but I wouldn't have very
high hopes with Joel ("Batman & Robin")
Schumacher directing and Larry ("Maniac Cop")
Cohen writing. I don't think just a voice performance
could be nominated for an Oscar, but certainly a mute
performance could be, as was Samantha Morton in "Sweet
is JAWS not a Spielberg film? I just don't get it.
it wasn't his project, he was a hired gun on it. The
script was developed by the producers, Richard Zanuck
and David Brown, and represents their tastes far more
than Spielberg's. Also, Spielberg didn't have final
cut, or final say-so in the casting (if indeed he had
any input at all). It's a Zanuck/Brown movie far more
than a Spielberg film.
read any of John Simon's film criticism? If so, what
did you think of it?
why don't you give your name? Not only have I read a
lot of it, I met him and talked with him once many years
ago. He's a nasty son of a bitch, but at least he has
a strong, learned opinion. He was never my favorite,
but I respect him.
was at Bruce Campbell's book signing last night, and
asked him what advice he had for somebody seriously
trying to get a screenplay read by somebody within the
industry. Before I was able to even finish asking my
sentence, he wrote down your cite's address and told
me that I should submit it to you, as he feels that
you are "one of the best," and that you would
"tear into" whatever was wrong with my work.
I just read your guidelines for submiting, and I read
that you don't want to buy (or read) my script, but
figured that I would attempt to see if you were willing
to read this one. Bruce did not read my script, but
was very enthusiastic about my visiting your cite, and
that you could be very helpful. If you want nothing
to do with it I understand, as you probably have quite
a bit on your plate. Also, please know that I did not
ask this in front of all 400 people, but 1 on 1, so
you shouldn't be getting 399 more "nutjobs"
writing too you. Thanks for at least reading this email,
I don't want to read your script, but I do wish you
all the luck in the world with it, and if you have any
specific questions about screenwriting that you'd like
to ask, I'd be more than happy to try and answer them.
E-mail: I Love Films
is wrong with MAGNOLIA? You seem to hate almost every
movie that you see now, and out of curiousity, I searched
this site to see if you had any negative insight into
MAGNOLIA. Well, I found two critiques of yours and in
both of them, you just say that the film bored you.
Is that it? Please don't take me as an asshole trying
to piss you off. I'm simply trying to understand. I
thought that the film was cinematic perfection, a great
masterpiece that proves that Paul Thomas Anderson is
a great director.
if you are up to it, would you be able to go into any
insight (other than it's "boring") into why
the film is as terrible as you make it out to be? Because
I can give you plenty of reasons why it's as good as
I think it is.
dear, why am I being made to think about that miserable
picture again? How about that there's legitmately maybe
thirty minutes worth of story, dragged out interminably
for three and a half hours, and the conclusion is frogs
raining down from the sky, which may win as the worst
ending on any movie ever. By the fiftieth time we cut
back to Tom Cruise saying exactly the same nonsense
he spewed forty-nine times previously, I was ready to
scream. And who on Earth gives the slightest shit about
a fake game show and a kid that's got to pee? "Magnolia"
is a truly lousy script, that at three and a half hours,
becomes a monumentally bad film.
than "The Apartment," "The China Syndrome,"
"Some Like it Hot" and "Mr. Roberts,"
can you reccomend a good/great Jack Lemmon film?
was the only western he ever did "Cowboy"?
was Lemmon's only western. I'd recommend "Save
the Tiger," for which he won his second Oscar,
and "Days of Wine and Roses," which is a major
bummer, but he and the wonderful Lee Remick are both
did "Running Time" do at the film fest? I
caught the documentary "The Ballad of Ramblin'
Jack" on TV the other night. It's about Ramblin'
Jack Elliot and it was made by his daughter. I found
it to be very interesting. The film had a lot of insight
into the folk movement and traditional cowboy music.
You should check it out I think you would enjoy it.
was there and said it went very well, there was good
crowd, and it was fun seeing RT on a big screen at a
drive-in theater. There were no awards or anything.
CHARLES A. OSWALD
E-mail: CASEY JONES 43000@AOL.COM
realy enjoyed Henry Hathaway's HOUSE ON 92nd.STREET(1945).
What I would like to know the location of a particular
scene in the movie. It was when Bill Dietrich meets
Aldoph Kline at a bar somewere in N.Y.C. Any response
would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.
film was all shot on location in New York City, but
that's as specific as I can get.
you have ideas that you think would make a great TV
show or movie, how do you go about getting your idea
to the right people, where do you even start?
in and of themselves don't really mean anything. You
need to write a script, then find an agent. Good luck.
sorry to hear you're not working now. Hopefully, something
will come along. I've been having difficulties of my
own in trying to get published. My father was really
sick for a long time (diabetic, and on dialysis); my
mom and I spent a lot of time taking care of him and
bringing him to doctors. Taking care of him cut into
a lot of my free time-not that I minded, he was my dad
died September 2 of last year-and unfortunately, I also
saw the Twin Towers' destruction from the roof of my
friend's building nine days later. In early January
of this year, I almost lost my mom; her aorta almost
ruptured, and the doctors caught it in time. She was
was in the hospital for a badly burned foot when the
doctors discovered the abnormality in the aorta. She
spent a month in the hospital, and now is at home with
me. I'm looking after her.
have settled down a bit, so I've begun to focus on writing
again. I also drive a school-bus part time. I'm looking
for other work.
can be a real bitch sometimes-but we've gotta keep moving,
just ordered RUNNING TIME, and I'm looking forward to
seeing it. I'll be sure to drop you a line after I watch
to hear about all of your troubles. I hope things improve
for you, and I hope you get back to your writing. The
book I recently wrote is at the agent's in NY. No word
as yet. Yeah, life's a bitch, but that's all there is.
And by the time you get the hang of it and start figuring
out how to live it well, you die. Ah, irony! Good luck.
more I think of the literary comparison the more obvious
the need for structure becomes. It doesn't matter whether
you are submitting a peer-review research article, a
short story or a novel; if you get as far as a full
reading your piece will be evaluated for proper structure.
Newspapers use the pyramid structure, other forms have
other structures, but any editor will insist that your
piece have a progressive, logical structure. Romance
novels all follow the three-act structure; that may
well be the only quality criteria they do have.
puts out what; a couple-hundred movies a year? How many
books are published in this country in a year? Tens
of thousands? If those books, with all their varieties
of theme and genre, not to mention quality, can all
be held to standards of structure, then there is no
reason why the few hundred screenplays written and produced
cannot be held to the same standard.
a tangental thought, writers are often employed to write
novels based upon hit movies. Alan Dean Foster used
to do a lot of that sort of thing, particularly for
science fiction movies. I often felt that his version
of the story was smoother, more internally consistant
and better structured than the movie upon which it was
quick questions; first, who submitted the information
on "Hammer" to IMDB? Second, you mentioned
your residuals and I wondered if Oxygen has ever contacted
you for their little running commentaries about Xena
episodes? Thanks as always,
screenplays are one of the most structured forms of
writing, moreso than a novel or a short story. Anyone
that says they don't believe in story structure, or
planning out your story in advance, is simply an idiot
and not really a writer. As a little side-note, I took
a screenwriting class taught by Alan Dean Foster in
1977 at LA City College. He may write good novelizations,
but he sure couldn't teach screenwriting. And staying
all within one paragraph, though changing thoughts,
I don't know who submitted the info to IMDB, and no,
Oxygen has never contacted me.
reference to this on-going argument over the importance
of structure and a good story, perhaps those who disagree
with you could distinguish between a movie without a
story and a two-hour scene. A scene, after all, is analogous
to the paragraph of a story. When was the last time
anybody read a good story consisting of a single paragraph?
Even short stories are broken into paragraphs, each
of which deals with a particular aspect of the story.
If your critics can show me a published paragraph of
80,000 words (standard novel length) then I'll concede
the point. Skipping paragraph breaks doesn't count as
some stories, slave narratives for instance, sometimes
fail to employ breaks. That doesn't mean they fail to
employ paragraphs. Ten bucks to the winner, via Paypal.
story could all be in one scene, I suppose. "My
Dinner With Andre" is sort of like that, although
you do have the scenes of Wally Shawn getting to the
restaurant and leaving. It's sort of an interesting
analogy, a paragraph and a scene, but it doesn't relate
exactly to what I'm saying about three acts. A paragraph
and a scene are physical divisions in writing, the three
acts are a concept. You could potentially have all three
acts within one scene. It is an interesting thought,
absent-minded, too. http://www.gwacvp.com/hammerban.gif
may be too personal of a question, but it came to mind
when I read the Worst Case Scenario story. What do you
do for a living? I know that whatever position it was
that they offered you wasn't what you want to do, but
isn't it a paying job in a somewhat related field? I
take that to mean that you have a regular income since
making feature films only contributes to debt, not savings.
it's personal, but what the hell, I've got nothing to
hide. I'm unemployed. I live on my residuals from "Xena,"
which I can pull off because my expenses are so low.
Also, thank goodness, the show has stayed on the air.
What I'll do next, though, is a mystery even to me.
Spoilers for "Hammer" ahead ***
I'd like to congatulate Mark Sawicki, seeing as he's
checking in, on his performance in "Hammer".
I got a particular kick out of his impersonation of
Red Skelton. I used to love his show when I was a kid.
for the question. I've been considering the ultimate
statement that "Hammer" makes about the folk
music movement. For me, the indicative scene is Lorraine's
perfomance at the Purple Onion. It should have been
Lorraine's hour. The cut aways to Phil and Terry trivialize
(brilliantly), not just her performance, but the folk
movement which she represents as well, with all those
hypocrites singing "Solidarity Forever". The
movie seems to say of the folk movement, "Yeah,
the music was good, and the motives sometimes noble
in a childish way, but it ultimately was a bankrupt
movement that amounted to little." Folk ran counter
to gratification and so was doomed to irrelevance. This
seems to be echoed in the Three Deadbeats and the quarreling
Alvin and Debbie as well. The fact that Lorraine doesn't
evolve so much as just move on would seem to bode poorly
for your assessment of the folk movement's legacy. Am
I off base or is this pretty much your position? Thanks.
Mark Sawicki does a terrific Red Skelton imitation.
I don't necessarily agree with your assessments, but
I think they're interesting and valid. I think the folk
movement was more important than that, but by 1964 was
running out of steam, and was about to give way to the
next movement, rock & roll, which started right
off being more self-serving than folk ever was. I believe
there's gratification in helping other people, possibly
moreso than helping yourself. I don't think folk was
doomed to irrelevance, it's time was over, and with
it went some of the better aspects of the American character,
particularly in the young. I have some neighbors, Marvin
and LilliAnn, who are in their mid-seventies, are former
folkie/beatniks, and very community-minded. LilliAnn's
comment after seeing "Hammer" was "Marvin
and I would have gone to her meeting," and I think
they would have, too.
thought you might be interested in a banner for Hammer.
It's a 184k, but if your interested, I can slim that
mentioned a while back about advertising being the more
decisive element of a film's success, rather than the
quality of the film. It got me thinking that, even though
movies do get re-releases and special editions, a month
in a movie theatre followed by video store wasteland
is a sad life for a film. In my opinion, home viewing
shouldn't really be an option. Sure, one might think
that a film would eventually lose enough steam to make
it not worth running, but if there was a theatre in
town that charged two or three bucks, and it was for
a movie I liked, I would be a repeat customer for a
while. After all, there have been movies that I've seen
several times, and at seven bucks a pop. That's just
a hint of my future plans. I'm formulating a revolution
in the movie industry. But I tend to get lazy, unfortunately.
then don't be lazy, do it. We need a revolution in the
sending this as a separate post because it didn't really
fit in with my other letter. Anyway, I was wondering
if you knew where I could find a particular film, called
either COLE JUSTICE or COLD JUSTICE. I saw it a few
years ago on the MOVIE CHANNEL and haven't seen it since.
A synapsis, in brief (I know you don't like it when
I tell the whole plot) would be this:
A history professor lives a double life as a vigilante,
in the form of his alter ego, a Western gunslinger called
the Killer Cowboy in the press. After witnessing a girl
getting raped at the hands of some drug dealers, he
takes on the thugs one by one, Western style.
It was a quirky and interesting twist on the standard
action film, and unfortunately, it's quite obscure.
Any ideas on where to find it?
never heard of it, nor do I know where you can find
can't be certain, but I think you listed yourself as
one of the fake shemps in THE BLIND WAITER, which is
why I thought you had a role in it. Sorry 'bout that.
I just read the DOGPILE review of HAMMER, and you have
my congratulations. A good review is golden.
In defense of Kevin Smith (the director, not the actor),
I have to say that I enjoyed some of his films. Although
often clunky and somewhat amateurish (even his big productions
have an seat-of-the-pants, low-budget feel to them),
his films do fulfill one of the primary conditions of
art: coalescing the artists' life experiences into a
focused work. Would you agree that Smith at least sticks
to the basics, and writes based on what he knows? However
clumsy, his work IS personal expression (DOGMA, for
instance, was born from his views on religion and his
own religious upbringing, and being a recovering Catholic
myself, it made me laugh my ass off). His work is that
much, if nothing else.
you're amused by Kevin Smith's films, great. I only
see a guy who doesn't know how to write, nor has he
the slightest clue how to direct. His stuff is amateur
time, and I don't think he has anything to say, either.
recieved my copy of "If I had a Hammer" and
was able to show it to my wife for the first time (she
was unable to make the 35 screening) She got a big kick
out of it especially the summation argument at the end
on apathy and inability. We had just finished being
appaled watching a few minutes of the Anna Nichole show
and Hammer seemed to sum up all the reasons we hated
that dubiously popular celebrity death watch program.
I also bought the Bruce Campbell book and found it fascinating
to see how you and your group of Michiganders made the
Hollywood journey. I remember Tom Sullivan from those
days and on another note recall vaguely the film Demon
Lover done in Jackson Michigan by Don Jackson and Jerry
Younkins. The Skotak brothers also from Michigan worked
on that film and went on to do Terminator II. Don Jackson
went on to work with Roger Corman. There was a documentary
done called "Demon Lover Diary" that chronicled
that movie and its time period. I only saw it once at
the Nuart. What a different age! I managed to work my
way up as an effects cameraman and actor (when I could
get the work [thanks again Josh]). It fascinates me
that so many film people came out of Michigan during
that period. It was fun reading about your groups journey.
I'm glad that "Hammer" is out there.
small town boy from Jackson Michigan
Mark Sawicki aka Mr. Buckley
glad you got your tape. Thanks for buying it. Yes, lots
of movie folks have come from Michigan. And yes, I saw
"The Demon Lover Diary," and it was a terrific
documentary. Now get everyone you've ever met to buy
so josh, are you saying that a film CAN be "artsy"
as long as it has a story to tell?
you think that a film lacking a plot can still have
a story? for example, BAD LIEUTENANT has no "plot"...
the character IS the story of the movie.
absolutely what I'm saying, and if the artsiness actually
fits with the subject matter it can make it a better
a story. A good story frequently comes out of the lead
character, though not always. I didn't like "Bad
Lieutenant" and I think it's one-note and repetitive,
but say "Taxi Driver" or even "Tender
Mercies" are good stories about interesting characters
that aren't about plot. If you actually have a legitimately
interesting character you don't necessarily need a plot
because the character will cause things to happen, and
that's what a story is, something causes something else.
Most movies have a plot -- they plan to steal the money,
then they steal it, now do they get away -- because
the characters aren't all that interesting. But if you
don't have that cause and effect concept, whether from
a plot or an interesting character that keeps causing
things to happen, your film will just sit there and
be boring. And as far as I'm concerned, boring is entirely
response to "artsy fartsy" and "jerk
referring to the feature film form, meaning over an
hour long. Artsy-fartsiness will NOT carry a feature.
The feature film form is about story."
the Webster dictionary definition of STORY : A usu.
fictional prose or verse narrative intended to interest
or amuse : Tale. 2. The plot of a narrative or dramatic
work. 3. A report, statement, or allegation of facts.
4. A lie.
i.e. "artsy-fartsy" Informal. Pretentiously
or affectedly artistic.
Dreyer's JOAN OF ARC "artsy-fartsy" because
of its close ups, Murnau's early camera movements in
THE LAST LAUGH, Vertov's revolutionary MAN WITH A MOVIE
about STORY in the work of Bunuel, Bresson, Ozu, Fellini
to name a few... and yes, even "experimental"
filmmakers like Brakhage, Anger, Mekas.
us not forget that it was "experiments" that
brought about the language/vocabulary of film **( it
was Melies who was credited with the first SPLICE: his
of these filmmakers understood the limitless potential
of film form and expression. Their work is not "artsy-fartsy"
nor was it confined to such a small minded concept of
STORY. They understood that STORY is an act of disguise!
A mixture of emulsion and light.
always aware that there's a director at work"
there not always a director at work. You are a director,
right? And your films, I suppose, is yourself at work.
The almost hilarious inaccuracy and campy-ness of a
film like LAWRENCE OF ARABIA is more distracting to
any intelligent viewer than the jump cuts of Godard.
cannot begin with deconstruction; you must first understand
construction before you deconstruct."
can begin anywhere you please, although generally some
understanding of how to load the camera is useful.
am writing this response to challenge the limited view
expressed here about experiment and cinematic self-consciousness.
These techniques have been a part of the beauty, art,
poetry, and yes, even STORY in film since its birth
over 100 years ago.
not draw your reference only from the multi million
dollar B-movie Hollywood of today and the insipid music
video and commercial world. We all know that sucks.
But the ignorace of this list is no better...
NEW THOUGHTS LET US MAKE OLD VERSES!"
say that as though Bunuel, Dreyer, Ozu, Fellini, or
Murnau didn't have stories to tell, but they most certainly
did. I've found that Godard frequently doesn't have
a story to tell, and most of his films are awful. No
Brakhage and Anger aren't telling stories, per see,
but they primarily made short films, and they're very
watchable, either. And saying "You can begin anywhere
you please, although generally some understanding of
how to load the camera is useful" is another form
of ignorance. It's just like saying that you can design
and build a house anytime you want, but knowing how
to load bricks in a wheel barrow is useful. Sure it
is, but knowing what you're doing is way more important.
Feature films are an extension of theater which is an
extension of plain old storytelling. If you haven't
got a story to tell, you haven't got a film to make.
was wondering, having just watched "Taras Bulba",
what you thought of the decline of the "cast of
thousands". It seems that any more the tendency
is towards computer-animated fillers. I prefer real
people, but I prefer models to animation as well. Both
seem more authentic to me. I've been trying to remember
"Hercules and the Minotaur"; I can't recall
if that installment had a large battle scene or not.
At any rate, it seems that it would be easy to find
people from the SCA who would volunteer to do reenactments
for a film. Computer animation is still so expensive
that I'm amazed that directors/producers opt for it.
I say that, but now that I think of it XWP/HTLJ did
use computer-interpositioning to increase the size of
their crowds so, from what I understand of Mr. Rob Tapert,
it must have been the economical solution.
what do you think of the "cast of thousands"
and what was the largest such scene that you've been
involved in? Assuming that it was fairly sizable, was
it chaotic? Thanks as always.
fifty extras into five hundred extras is a thing digital
effects can do well, and fairly cheaply. I've personally
never directed a scene with more than about fifty people
in it. I was an extra (or Fake Shemp, as I'm credited)
in ED2 and AOD, where there were over a hundred extras,
horses, stuntmen, etc. and it's very chaotic. I thought
I was going to get run down by horses all the time.
My biggest scenes in "Hammer" have forty dress-extras
(meaning we dressed them and made them up) and perhaps
ten or fifteen actors, too. It took a lot of wrangling.
I'm sure something like "Lawrence of Arabia"
or "Taras Bulba" were very difficult to make.
just saw Lunatics: A Love Story on movieplex (quite
possibly the only good movie they've ever shown) and
I was really impressed.
I was jsut wondering what you thought of the following
David Lynch, Wes Anderson, Kevin Smith, David Cronenberg
and Terry Gilliam.
any plans for your next film?
glad you liked the film. At this point I don't care
about any of those directors. Lynch made some good films
at the beginning of his career, like "Elephant
Man" and "Blue Velvet," but he hasn't
made a decent film in over fifteen years. I liked Gilliam
when he was with Mony Python, but really can't stand
any of his films since. We Anderson is a complete bore.
Kevin Smith is utterly inept. And is Cronenberg still
saw your film the other night on Encore. FABULOUS!!!!
Hopefully one day you will have this wonderful title
Hopefully someday it will be. If you liked "Lunatics,"
you'll love "If I Had a Hammer." Buy your
what you think of remakes and what you think of William
Wyler, I was curious as to your opinion on These Three,
directed by Wyler and The Children's hour, Wyler's remake
of his own film, twenty-some years later.
think the remake kind of blows. It's got a good cast,
but by 1961 Lillian Hellman's play seems severely dated
and the whole thing sits there like a ton of lead. I
understand why Wyler wanted to remake it all those years,
having to cut all the homosexual innuendo in the 1936
version, but "These Three" is a much better
saw Coppola's "The Conversation" on the big
screen the other night (brand new 35mm print) and I
was interested to know your thoughts on the films (it
being one of your favourites) and how it stacks up against
Coppola's other films. On a personal note, I thought
it was a fantastic film - the irony at the end when
Harry, the so-called "best in the business",
fails to find the bug in his apartment was excellent.
Also the fact that he was an incredibly private person
who made his living and reputation from delving into
other people's lives was superbly ironic.
a strong picture with a lot of irony. If someone hires
you to bug somebody, then they use that information
as a reason to kill them, are you partially responsible?
I always loved the sequence of Harry Caul (Hackman)
cleaning up the tapes of the bugging, pulling out all
of the extra noise, and finally able to hear what they're
saying. Coppola was on this incredible run at that point,
having gone from co-writing "Patton" (and
winning an Oscar), to directing and co-writing "The
Godfather" (and winning another Oscar), to "The
Conversation," which was nominated for Best Picture,
to "The Godfather Part II," for which he won
everything, and was the same year as "The Conversation."
Five years later he came out with "Apocalypse Now,"
which has its problems, and that's the end of the deal.
Everything since then has been crap.
really enjoyed "Taras Bulba" though I agree
with you that Tony Curtis probably bore a close resemblance
to the Bulba's milkman. I was struck by how many scenes
I recognized from later movies. I was also struck by
the fact that Cossacks in the sixteenth century were
calling for more vodka, a drink not known in Russia
for another two and a half centuries. There were also
an awful lot of trees for the Asian Steppe, but I loved
the scenes in Kiev and the fortified town. Best of all
was the set up in the relationship between Curtis and
Brynner. Without that set up the ending would not have
had the power it did.
real question this time. Thanks.
love the ting! sound effect of the bullet going
through the armor.
chance I can talk you into writing about your experiences
with the almighty pitching process? Perhaps a little
tongue-in-cheek "How to" diatribe?
truly enjoy reading about your filmmaking experiences
and am simply dying to read more.
fighting the good fight,
actually already wrote that essay, and it's lurking
around somewhere. Finding it is the issue. On a basic
level, one ought make their pitch as short and snappy
as possible. You're trying to intrgue someone into reading
your script, which there's a very good chance they won't
do. I'm convinced, however, that no movies ever get
made from writers coming in and pitching executives.
The execs that listen to pitches are the low-end execs
whose only power is to say no. None of them are anywhere
close to being able to say yes. It's futile, and a certain
level of hell.
put Cukor's LITTLE WOMEN on my Netflix list, if they
have it. Did he also direct THE BARRETTS OF WIMPOLE
STREET, or am I mistaken?
I happened to watch some of your old Super 8 shorts
the other day, along with a few of Sam Raimi's, and
I noticed that you have acting credits in several shorts.
In THE SAPPY SAP, is that you fiddling with the parking
meter, so that it looks like you're unbuttoning the
girl's dress? Also, in TORRO, TORRO, TORRO, are you
the guy with the goatee sitting next to the colonel's
table ("My, the colonel's fallen on his brass")?
I was curious about those two in particular, as well
as THE BLIND WAITER, where I confess I can't pick out
what role you played. The credits in those films weren't
specific as to who played who, so I was hoping that
you could shed some light on the subject.
the 1934 and the 1957 versions of "The Barretts
of Wimpole Street" were directed by Sidney Franklin,
who was big shot director/producer at MGM in the 1930s
and 40s. He directed "The Good Earth," and
he produced "Mrs. Miniver" for William Wyler
(who was on loan to MGM from Sam Goldwyn). Regarding
the short films, yes that's me diddling with the parking
meter in "The Sappy Sap," and yes that's me
in "Torro." I'm not in "The Blind Waiter"
because I was busy running the camera the whole time.
site. i just stumbled on it, and i am glad i did. i
was wonderin what u thought on a couple of films that
i like and enjoy watching. they are:
-scorcese's "last temptation of christ"
bet u hated theem, but i just wanted to make sure cuz
u never talk about them.
one last thing: are there any recent films that you
would recommend to me (besides "monsters Ball")?
haven't seen "Crash," but sure sounds like
a dumb idea -- people screwing while crashing their
cars to have bigger orgasms. Right. I didn't like "Last
Temptation." It's like watching the cast of "The
Sopranos" pretend they're biblical characters.
"Jesus, you mook!" The basic premise of the
film seems to be, what if Jesus was a creepy asshole?
David Bowie was good as Pilate. I just saw "My
Big Fat Greek Wedding" and it was cute, lightweight
fluff, and just at the point my interest was seriously
flagging, it ended, so that's good.