Q & A    Archive
Page 82

Name: Anna Laws
E-mail: AnnaGLaws@aol.com

Howdy Josh!

Ok, I adore Lunatics, uber cuteness. And of course, TSNKE, Sam had great arms, wowzers. But I have a question about another of your group. Mr. Scott Spiegel. I've been searching for the better part of a year now to find where I can contact his publicist. I was wanting to do a big story/interview on him, but I can't even comfirm that he's alive. Any suggestions? Thank ye kindly,
-The Anna

Dear Anna:

I haven't spoken with Scott in years. He lives in Hollywood. Good luck in your search.

Josh

Name: Brian
E-mail: KumiteENT@aol.com

Hey Josh,

I was wondering if you've seen Coscaralli's "Bubba Ho-Tep"?? And if so is it as kick ass as I hear from some reviews. I just found out they were screening it in Royal Oak MI tomorrow as a part of Bruce's book signing. Sounds promising though, a real old fashioned mummy movie to smack Universal around with! Rock n roll!

Dear Brian:

I haven't seen it yet because Bruce doesn't have a video tape yet. It certainly has gotten terrific reviews on Aint it Cool, and Bruce does a hell of good Elvis impression he's being cracking me up with our whole lives. The idea of Bruce as 75-year old Elvis, teamed up with Ossie Davis, does sound amusing.

Josh

Name: Kurt Norlin
E-mail: KNorlin@aol.com

Dear Josh:

Re. the earlier post: Cleanflicks emphasizes that they maintain a 1-to-1 ratio of originals to edited copies. They rent out the copies, and don't sell them. So the original poster's argument holds up.

Dear Kurt:

The can maintain anything they want, they're still breaking the law. Isn't the FBI warning at the front of every video tape and DVD clear? No duplication. Period. And reselling. Period. There's nothing to talk about. It's like going into a museum and painting a mustache on a Rembrandt.

Josh

Name: Cynthia E. Jones
E-mail: cynthiaejones@hotmail.com

Dear Josh,

Hey! Long time no write. I didn't feel like going through all of your archives (pardon my laziness) but I was wondering if you have seen the film "Donnie Darko?" I thought it was pretty great, although I understand the DVD has a lot of extra stuff which makes it better and easier to understand (why don't they just cut the damn film so we can understand it in the first place? Okay). It stars Jake Gyllenhaal, who was the lead in "October Sky," and whom I think is fantastic. Just a thought.

And how are you, anyway?

have a great Wednesday.

cindy

Dear Cindy:

I really disliked that film and have done a pretty good job of downloading it out of my memory banks. It seemed like complete nonsense to me, but I can't tell you why at the moment, nor do I want to think about it and bring it back. As I dimly recall, Jake Gyllenhaal does a lot of glaring upward past his eyebrows, and every sixty seconds it cut to another title card saying "Tuesday, 11:37 PM," as though it mattered.

See any good movies lately?

Josh

Name: Jean
E-mail:

Hi Josh,

Those may be stupid plot turns but "The Silence of the Lambs" still scares the shit out of me. But I do agree with you about Anthony Hopkins. I thought he was much, much better in "The Remains of the Day". He is absolutely heartbreaking in that film. That movie gets me every time I see it.

I saw "An American Werewolf in London" for the first time last night and was very disappointed. It wasn't even scary! The guy transforming into the wolf was cool but other then that the movie sucked. The Dr. Pepper guy and his friend get attacked. His friend dies and comes back from the grave to warn him of his impending doom. Dr. Pepper guy turns into a wolf, kills a bunch of people and then the cops shoot him. Big fucking deal! And the acting sucked too. I always see this film listed as one of the best horror films ever made. What the hell?!

What movies have scared the hell out of you? I still get really freaked out by "The Exorcist".

Thanks,
Jean

Dear Jean:

I agree, "American Werewolf" did nothing for me. I thought "The Howling" was better dealing with the same subject matter at about the same time. I like "The Exorcist." I also really like "Rosemary's Baby" and "The Tenant." The old British horror film, "Dead of Night" (1945), scared the hell out of me as a kid. Also Robert Wise's "The Body Snatcher" (also 1945) scared me as a kid. I also quite like "Alien" and "Aliens." The film that scared me the most as a kid was "Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein," which completely freaked me out, and it's a comedy. Of course, I was about six or seven at the time.

Josh

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

Hey Josh,

I was wondering: can I order "Running Time" directly from you via normal mail, like you're doing with "If I Had A Hammer"? If so, what's the price and address? I've had some bad experiences with online ordering.

Thanks a bunch,

Nick

Dear Nick:

Sorry, but you can't. I licensed the film to Anchor Bay, and now if you want it you must buy it from them. Get the DVD, it looks great.

Josh

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

Dear Josh,

Sorry, just a quick thought. Going back to our discussion of Joseph Cotten from a few months ago, I have to temper my opinion that he had a weak on-screen appearance. What about SHADOW OF A DOUBT? In that, he was decidedly creepy; the charming, urbane gentleman who just happens to be a serial killer. I was pleasantly surprised.

Sorry, but vague ramblings are my specialty,

Darryl

Dear Darryl:

I know that Hitchcock thought very highly of "Shadow of a Doubt," but I never cared for it. It's ridiculously obvious from the very first second he's the Merry Widow killer, then we just have to wait the whole film for him to admit. I do like Teresa Wright, though. And Cotton's fine in it, I suppose.

Josh

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

Dear Josh,

The problem with THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS may be the translation from book to film. The novel makes it very clear that Lecter's ulterior motive for helping the authorities at all is to gain an opportunity to escape. He already had the handcuff key (the novel gives an explanation, but in brief, the ink tube of the ball point pen can be fashioned into a key; when it's considered that most standard handcuffs have simple, spring-operated locks, operated by one universal key pattern, then that is not so far fetched), but it would've been difficult to introduce his obtaining it into the film as the novel did. It was a good call on Mr. Demme's part to simply have Dr. Chilton, in the midst of gloating over his good fortune, forget the pen and leave it for Lecter.
On the subject of plot turns, I have to disagree with you; the logic of the film follows through for me, Q.E.D. By agreeing to help the authorities in Tennessee, Dr. Lecter gets himself out of the hands of Barney and the other hospital guards, who are extremely careful and would not afford him an opportunity. Further, he is placed in the custody of corrections officer unused to dealing with the criminally insane, and is not straight-jacketed when in the courthouse. The issue of his mutilating the guards is endemic to both Lecter's plan and his character: the grisly sculpture is just something he likes to do, but the need for the flesh and uniforms of the guards is necessary to his plan. This all follows well in the novel, but again I state that the problem may be in the translation, as the film follows the novel closely.

Darryl

Dear Darryl:

I have no more interest in super-villians than I do in superheroes. It's all bullshit to me. And, forgetting novels, you didn't explain anything about how he got the pen, got out, etc. The idea of carving someone's skin off and using it as a mask is utterly ridiculous, too. I don't want to think about or discuss these inane Hannibal Lecter movies.

Josh

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

Hi Josh,

Another film I just saw that is not on your favourite list is "The Young Doctors" starring Frederic March and Ben Gazarra. Have you seen this one? I enjoyed it very much and I thought March was especially good as the stubborn, old but likeable chief pathologist. The film opens with the young, enthusiatic Gazzara arriving at the front of a hospital and ends with March, having just resigned, leaving the same way. Apart from finding it hard to take Dick Clark seriously I found the film very enjoyable, also with Eddie Albert before his "Green Acres" days.

Dear Tony:

I haven't seen that film since I was a kid, maybe 30 years ago. That was a good, solid picture. It's narrated by Ronald Reagan. Another film that goes along with it is "Not as a Stranger," with Robert Mitchum and Frank Sinatra as young doctors. Eddie Albert, meanwhile, who is still alive, began his career in the 1938 film "Brother Rat," in a part he had already played on Broadway. The guy has been around forever. Albert is really, really great in the terrific, and overlooked, film "Attack."

Josh

Name: Jean
E-mail:

Hi Josh,

What was it about "The Silence of the Lambs" that you did not like? That movie scared the hell out of me and still does when I watch it now.

On another note, what is your favorite episode of "The Simpsons". I've always been partial to "Kamp Krusty". The whole "Lord of the Flies" theme has always killed me! I love it when the kids take over the camp and Lisa hands out their mail. One kid gets his package and says "my mom sent me cookies"! Another kid says "fresh underwear" and the last kid shouts "my insulin"! The one where Mr. Burns teams up with Lisa to open the recycling plant has a place in my heart as well. "A little slurry will cure what ails you"!

Thanks,
Jean

Dear Jean:

There are far too many Simpsons episodes I like to choose favorites. There are so many great gags and lines it's astounding. I love when Homer argues with his brain, "Look, I don't like you and you don't like me, so let's just get through this and I'll go back to killing you with beer." Or when he is heading the breakfast table and thinks, "I'm not going to work today. I'm going on the Duff Beer factory tour, and I'm going to get drunk. Hey, wait a minute. Did I think that, or did I say that?" Marge looks at him and says, "What do you mean you're not going to work today?" Homer replies, "D'oh!" And I loved Krusty having John Updike write his memoirs, then telling him to "Shut up, Updike!" But I go on. Regarding "Silence of the Lambs," jeez I'm sorry guys and gals, but that is a stupid movie. Lecter is in a straight-jacket and sees a pen, cut away for one minute, then return and he's miraculously gotten out of the straight-jacket, killed both guards, cut all of the skin off one of them, hung them upside down, and backlit them. Those are exceptionally stupid plot turns. And Anthony Hopkins, who has been much better in many other films, got an Oscar for his one-note performance. It all wearies me.

Josh

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

Dear Josh,

Thanks for the answer on Herman Mankewicz (I was going to say Herbert Mankewicz). Also, my confusion on league baseball was geographic; in New England, the Little League season pretty much mirrors the professional one.
On another note, I went to see RED DRAGON the other day, and I have to say that I was entertained. The screenplay follows Thomas Harris' novel rather closely, which makes for a tight, well-paced film. Anthony Hopkins was very good (par the course), but I was initially displeased with the decision to cast Edward Norton as agent Will Graham. It took me a while to accept him as the character, based on the image that I had of him from the book, but he pulled it off in the end. I don't know if you read Harris' novel or saw the first filmed version of it, MANHUNTER, but it's worth watching in my book.

Darryl

Dear Darryl:

Well, this is where our paths diverge. Yes, I did see "Manhunter" when it came out, and it was as miserable a piece of shit as I've ever sat through. I also didn't give a crap about "Silence of the Lambs" or "Hannibal." I would have to be dragged kicking and screaming to see this one. A pox on all these films. Blah!

Josh

Name: tracy
E-mail: memphis@hotmail.com

Dear Josh:

what is your opinon on marilyn monroe and what do you think of her death?

Dear Tracy:

Marilyn Monroe was spectacular, and almost other-worldly. Her walk past Lemmon and Curtis in "Some Like It Hot" is really something -- "It's like jello, on springs." And when she does her commercial in "The Seven Year Itch" it's too good -- "I ate garlic for lunch, and onions for dinner, but my breath is kissing sweeet." Regarding her death, as Norman Mailer said in his very interesting book on her, she was probably the worst practicing Christian Scientist ever. But, since everyone's death only comes once, I'd say it's always right on time.

Josh

Name: Aaron
E-mail: agraham83@hotmail.com

Hey there Josh,

Saw that you mentioned Richard Price, so i figured i'd ask if you ever read his novel called "Ladies' Man"?
I think it's got some very interesting themes, and is sort of reminscent of "Taxi Driver" (though it came out around the same time).
The lead character, Kenny Becker (hey, same last name!), loses his girlfriend and his job through a life-changing week in New York when he starts to question what his life has become.
It's very funny, as its told in first person, and I always wondered why they couldn't make a film of it. It was his third novel, and they had previously made bad films out of "Bloodbrothers" and "The Wanderers" (though "The Wanderers" was pretty good).

Dear Aaron:

I did read "Ladies' Man" and I liked it a lot. I think it has a terrific structure for a story, which is the first week after the break-up of a long-term relationship, and each section is a day. I think Richard Price is one of the better writers working today. His script for "Sea of Love" is really good. I enjoyed "Clockers" far more as a novel than as a Spike Lee joint, that's for sure. I must say that I wasn't crazy about either of the films "Bloodbrothers" or "The Wanderers," and I liked both the books.

Josh

Name: Brian
E-mail: KumiteENT@aol.com

Dear Josh,

I already know you'll roll your eyes at this, but just had to write in and express. I went and saw "Rules of Attraction" last night for the mere fact that I loved the novel when I read it in high school. It was hilarious, dark, satrical (as most of ellis' work is-though you have expressed your distaste for him). Anyways, I hated how the tv adds made it seem like it was just 'Dawson playing a bad boy' but I had faith in Avary, don't ask me why but I did. So after watching the final scene, what a disappointment!! I could not believe what they cut out (and I understood that the MPAA sucks because all the sex was mostly chopped out of it) but Avary also wrote the screenplay based off the novel and he fucked up most the characters. He made the lead actress' character a virgin when in the novel she slept with a guy at each party, and her whole purpose was mainly to get laid. I'm thinking, Avary was knocking American Pie on an interview but his version of 'Rules' was just American Pie w/o the gags. Also it was confusing beccause you'r supposed to guess that these 3 characters are in some sort of a triangle when the film didn't show their relationships (which were mainly sex in the book). There was so much more but I won't go into any more details, but I will say that Avary did do one cool shot, which was the slit screen where Van der Beek and Sossoman meet and is split screen their whole conversation until both track back and it turns into one. That was the ONLY interesting shot Avary has accomplished in the two films he's directed.

But on a lighter note, I recently picked up the Simpsons Season 2 dvd set-have you got that? Man, that is packed with extras and commentary on each episode! Interesting Simpsons fact I did not know about was that when Willie was written, they didn't know what he'd look or sound like so whoever did his voice, I believe Harry Shearer but I'm not positive, first did a spanish accent, then French, and then on the third take he went with the scottish and that became groundskeeper Willie. Also the animators never thought Willie would be back. I can't imagine the Simpsons world w/o groundskeeper Willie.

-Brian

Dear Brian:

No, I don't the The Simpson's 2nd season, but it certainly seems worth watching. I think of Willie often, generally when I'm pumping my gas, "The noozle, turn the noozle." That's from the episode when Lisa falls in love with Nelson. And I don't know the exact dialog, but when Principal Skinner is rearranging the menu and says, "I think I'll put Salisbury steak on Wednesday," and Willie responds, "That's what you said about the stuffed peppers, and you lost the twelve- to fourteen year olds!"

Josh

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

Josh,

Two things; first, as I'm right now sitting on the beach in beautiful Ka'anapali, Maui, what are some of your favorite Hawaiian movies?

Second, I'm still reflecting on "Hammer" and what it has to say about its subject. It strikes me that there are in the film two different representations made of folk music. The first is in the music store, the second in the club. The success of the impromptu music store rendition, the way the patrons and owner embraced and joined in the music, contrasts sharply with the relatively superficial reception of the more highly polished club performances, even with Lorraine's songs. One could look at those scenes as a comment on folk music in general. Folk was most powerful and dynamic when it was being generated in the field, as it were, by folks like Guthrie. Cleaned up, polished and sent out to a passive audience, it lost its dynamic. There is that sense in which the original setting for folk music, the labor camps and mining towns, had disappeared by the early '60s. The music was meant to be "of" the people rather than simply "for" the people. Just a thought.

John

PS I enjoyed your review of "Wedding". I agree completely with your point about intent. I also appreciate that you didn't make a nice movie out to be anything more, yet refrained from calling it "just a nice movie".

Dear John:

My favorite Hawaii movie by a mile would be "From Here to Eternity." I loved James Michener's book "Hawaii" when I was a kid, but I didn't much care for either of the films made from the book -- "Hawaii" (1966) or "The Hawaiians" (1970). I also quite liked Howard Hawks' "Air Force," which takes place in Hawaii. It has great aerial miniatures of the islands, too.

As for the folk music in "Hammer," well, it it's different when people just start singing a song, which doesn't happen all that often, but does happen. Or when people are in a venue being sung to. They still do happily join in a few times, but it's not impromptu, it's expected.

Josh

Name: Jean
E-mail: jthompson77@adelphia.net

Hi Josh!

I just got back from seeing "Punch Drunk Love" and all I have to say is save your money and time. It was an hour and 40 minutes that felt like an eternity! Adam Sandler plays the same rage filled guy that he plays in every movie. Emily Watson was so under used it was pathetic. There were some funny moments but those were few and far between. Paul Thomas Anderson glazed this picture over with so many camera and audio tricks as well as some visual effects that any semblance of a love story was lost.

The story was based on the same notion that "Lunatics" was based on. That there is someone for everyone. But unlike "Lunatics" the conflict in the story did not take place between the boy and the girl. Adam Sandler's character gets into trouble with some thugs after he calls a phone sex line. But there is absolutely nothing keeping him and Emily Watson from being together. They meet and they fall in love. That's it! There was really nothing romantic or endearing about the story at all.

I read the "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" review. What's stopping you from forming a production and distribution company? I mean besides the money. I'm surprised that you didn't do that a long time ago. You could do that out of Detroit. Far, far away from Hollywood. I still think you should make "Biological Clock". It's a far more interesting love story then anything I've seen in awhile.

Thanks,
Jean

Dear Jean:

Yep, the only thing standing in my way is the money, but that's a big stumbling block. Right now I don't have an answer for it, either. I'll avoid "Punch drunk Love,' not that I would have ever gone and seen it to start with. I just watched "Mad Dog and Glory" for about the fourth time and I really like that film. I think all the actors are terrific, but DeNiro is really, really good. I love the scene after he's slept with Uma Thurman and he's at a crime scene singing "Just a Gigolo" with Louis Prima. And not only does the story have a theme, it's a double entendre, which I think is particularly impressive. Richard Price can write very well occasionally. I like his books, too.

Josh

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

Josh,

I was just thinking about how right now, any person can pick up a camera and call themselves a filmmaker, or they can pick up a paintbrush and call themselves a painter, and society will accept it with no second thoughts. I think this goes hand in hand with the lottery mentality. Not only do people expect to be rich and famous without having to earn it, but they also think that whatever they carelessly throw together is on equal standing with the work of people who've actually strived to create something with meaning or who've tried reach a higher level of expression.
People argue with your structure essays, pretending like their right to choose somehow justifies any choice they make, right or wrong. It's really just ignorance combined with pretention. It's much easier to just type something out and not worry about structure, and if it has pretty enough packaging people will watch it anyway. They're trying to outweigh thousands of years of use with blind apathy and faulty logic.
I just saw a commercial for, "XXX," or "Triple X". From that one commercial it was easy to determine how it will end. Will Vin Diesel be killed? No, that would mean no sequel. Will he fail his mission? Of course not, that too would mean no sequel. What's the point of watching? Hey, I like explosions, but the promise of one won't get me into the theater. Something about it is convincing people to march see it, though. For the life of me I cannot figure out why anybody goes to see these movies. At what point did society decide to abandon logic? It's almost like this is a Twilight Zone episode, where everything is just a little off with no accompanying explanation.

I know you've said all thatbefore, but for some reason it hasn't hit me as hard as it did right now. Don't you think that the upcoming digital revolution will only make things worse? Sure, there will be some legitimately good work, but it will be buried under all the recycled storylines. It might even get to the point where the indepedent film industry will collapse under it's own weight. It's hard enough to get a film distributed now, think of how it will be in a few years when the price of DV cameras drops considerably.
What are your predictions on the future of filmmaking?

David

Dear David:

I don't see that the advent and rise of digital filmmaking technology has been the reason for the downward slide of feature films. It's not because of DV that independent features aren't getting released. They're just coincidental to one another. "If I Had a Hammer" is in 35mm color and I can't get it released. it's just that right now theaters would rather run "Scooby-Doo" on four screens than an single independent in one of them. And why do people go to the movies, any movies? Because there's very little else to do in life. You can go to the bar, you can go bowling, or you can go to the movies. And movies take less effort than most other things, you just sit there. But I do think people will go to better movies if they are given a choice.

Josh

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

Dear Josh,

What was the first name of the Mankiewicz who had co-writing credit on CITIZEN KANE, and was he any relation to Joe (silly question, I know, but my brain just isn't firing on all it's cylinders today)?
Hate to say it, but I found a logic flaw in IF I HAD A HAMMER. The story takes place over February 8-9, 1964. Why then, is Phil's younger brother off to Little League practice in the beginning of the film? The nice weather in the wintertime I can accept (the setting is non-specific, so it could be a region of the U.S. that has warm winters), but that thought just struck me. No part of the plot relies on the fact so it doesn't weigh on the film, yet it is noticeable.

Darryl

Dear Darryl:

It's just that, a warm part of the country. I played ball out in LA in the winter. Admittedly, I wasn't on a an actual team, but there were actual teams playing all around us. Baseball goes on all year long in southern California. Meanwhile, the co-writer of "Kane" was Herman Mankiewicz, Joe's older brother.

Josh

Name: Ben
E-mail: bendab02@yahoo.com

Josh,

I just visited the CleanFlicks site and read some articles on the situation. If a friend bought a DVD but was dissatisfied with some content, knew I had some editing equipment and a burner, and asked me to cut out a part, and gave me $10 for my time, would that be wrong also? The way I understand it, CleanFlicks buys a copy of the DVD/VHS for every order, in which case, the creators aren't losing sales. In fact, they might be improving them. I would admit that the sex scene in "Monster's Ball," after watching the commentary, was the most interesting I've ever seen in a movie because parts of the characters were manifested in it, and their characters actually developed through parts of it. That being said, it still wasn't the core of the story. I would have gotten 98% of the message without them. And that movie was more justified than any other I've ever seen. Frankly, I don't see how the vulgarity or nudity could possibly be more important than the rest. Most of what is in movies these days could be eliminated and the effect will be similar. This is a good situation, I think. Filmmakers can make their movies any way they want, then they can piss and moan when companies like CleanFlicks resells their films, then they can laugh on the way to the bank because their movie sold more copies than it would have before, having reached a new audience, and never have to disappoint the hardcore fans whose greatest fear would be their favorite indy director selling out to censorship.

I guess all that depends on whether CleanFlicks actually buys a copy for each order, or if they use the same one, which would undoubtedly be illegal.

Don't take offense to any of this. While that is basically what I feel, I'm just playing Devil's Advocate, a movie which, by the way, featured unnecessary nudity.

Thanks.

Ben

Dear Ben:

Why would they buy a new copy every time? That's silly, and I'll bet they don't do it because they'd have to digitize it each time. They buy one copy, digitize it into their hard-drive, make the cuts, then download it when someone buys it. CleanFlicks can now sell as many copies as they want having only paid for one. That's theft and it's illegal. Let's say you write a book. A company buys one copy of the book, scans it into a computer, edits out sections, then prints copies for anyone that wants to buy it. They sell a hundred copies, but you the author only sold one. And get over this "laughing all the way to the bank" nonsense. The actual filmmakers don't get very much per tape or per DVD, and on a film like "Monster's Ball" they undoubtedly didn't get all that much to make the film in the first place, either. Bootleg the film and you're stealing their living.

Josh

Name: Ben
E-mail: bendab02@yahoo.com

Dear Josh:

The posts about distribution companies editing films brought up a lot of questions for me.

1) Are these the same distributors who edit films for T.V. and, if so, who hires them?

2) If a video store wanted to rent or sell versions that were edited for T.V., could they?

3) Are these film hackers companies like Criteron, the DVD producer? And are companies like Criterion allowed to re-edit a film for various reasons?

And I'm not saying that the person who spoke out against all this a few posts ago would do this, but for a taste of irony in real life, I'm sure that there is some overlap between the people who would argue that the director's vision should not be tampered with and those who are scouring the Internet for movies to burn for their library. And if you only answer one of my questions, answer this one: Would you rather be given a cut of legitimate sales of an edited version of your movies, or would you rather see copies of "Hammer" all over the Internet being downloaded for free?

Thanks.

Ben

Dear Ben:

That's kind of like Sophie's Choice, both sides suck. I don't want anyone re-cutting my films, and I don't want people stealing them, either. Regarding question one, no these aren't the people who edit films for TV, that's done in-house at the networks, who are the only ones that re-edit movies anymore, and since they pay more than anyone else, no one objects. I object, but no one has re-edited any of my films. I object when it's done to other people's movies, though. Question number two is exactly the issue, the companies that are re-editing the films are reselling them to video stores, particularly in religious areas, like Utah. Should they be allowed to? No, not in my opinion. This isn't an issue of taste, it's an issue of copyright. No one has the right to re-edit and resell copyright material unless given specific permission. This is how copyright holders make their money, and it's against the law to duplicate and resell copyright material. Regarding question three, Criterion is a very legitimate company that only releases authorized version of films, with generally the best packaging and transfers. They don't re-cut films.

Josh

Name: Charles
E-mail: cscorder@hotmail.com

Dear Josh:

I recently purchased a computer that can show DVDs and the second one I ordered (and the first one I watched) was "Running Time" (which I already had on video). I really enjoyed the commentary track by you and Bruce. It made the movie even more enjoyable, especially since you two refused to take yourselves seriously. Congratulations. Now I'm eagerly waiting on my copy of "If I Had a Hammer" to arrive. (PayPal is a wonderful thing.)

Good luck and keep up the good work.

Charles

Dear Charles:

Yeah, Bruce and I had fun doing that. We did the commentary for TSNKE immediately after it. When we got to the studio, Werner Herzog was just finishing the commentary track for "Fitzcarraldo." Anyway, "Hammer" is all packaged up and will probably get mailed out today. Thanks for buying it, and I sincerely hope you enjoy it.

Josh

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

Hey Josh,

Thanks for the info on that lawsuit about the cleaning up of DVDs and selling them. I had no idea it was that bad! I totally agree it shouldn't be allowed. Which brings me to another question: who chooses the editing for content on a movie? Is it the financers who have the clout to demand edits or the distribution company or even the director?

Thanks,

Nick

Dear Nick:

If it's a studio picture they have the final say-so. When the director signed the contract to make the film it will state that he has to deliver a film with a certain rating. It's the studio's film and they can do anything they want to it. Very, very few directors have final cut.

Josh

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

Dear Josh,

I know what you mean. West Haven may have a corrupt city government, a beach you can't swim in without developing a rash (out of date sewage plant) and the occasional shooting, but it is my home. I recently went with a friend to check out a town in rural Pennsylvania where he might be moving. The place was clean, the prices were low and the people were nice, but a week there would drive me insane. I need some urban background; it's in my blood.
Anyway, I was reading the post, and I never knew that Bernard Hermann scored THE GHOST AND MRS MUIR. It's one of my favorite films (I hate to admit it, but the ending always gives me a lump in my throat). What did you think of the film?

Darryl

Dear Darryl:

I thought it was wonderful. Gene Tierney and Rex Harrison are terrific. And I think Gene Tierney is just gorgeous in that film. And also the great George Sanders, and little Natalie Wood. Joe Mankiewicz was just beginning one the great runs ever of a writer/director in Hollywood. He had been a writer in Hollywood since the late 1920s, writing my favorite W. C. Fields film, "Million Dollars Legs" in 1932. He then became a producer and made some great films, like Fritz Lang's "Fury," "The Philadelphia Story" and "Woman of the Year." The he became a writer/director in 1946 and made (among others): "The Ghost and Mrs. Muir," "A Letter to Three Wives" (Oscar-winner for best screenplay and best director), "House of Strangers," "No Way Out," "All About Eve" (winner of Best Picture, screenplay, and director), "People Will Talk," "Five Fingers," and "Julius Caesar." I really, really miss movies like those of Joe Mankiewicz.

Josh

Name: Jean
E-mail:

Hey Josh,

Those are very good points about "The Conversation". I did not even think about that while I was watching the ending. I was so engrossed with him loosing it and tearing apart his apartment. I will have to watch it again. I just thought it was a fascinating character study. Kind of like "The Treasure of the Sierra Madre" or "Taxi Driver".

I have another observation about "American Beauty" that I thought of a few days after I saw the film. When AB first came out I remember the hype for the film being out of control. Everyone was talking about it and saying that it was a must see movie and how amazing it was etc.... Well 3 years later I was one of 3 people in the room who had never seen the film before. All 3 of us were less then impressed with the movie. My buddy Dave, who is not a big movie watcher, said "what was so great about that?" as soon as the end credits began to roll. His girlfriend felt the same way. But I wonder if they would have liked the movie more if they had seen it 3 years ago. I think people get caught up in the hype and they are afraid to admit not liking a film that everyone is talking about. I went to see "Chocolate" after it was nominated for an Oscar. It was a total bore. There was nothing special about it what so ever. The only reason, that I could think of, that it got nominated is because Miramax hyped the shit out of it! So I guess all you need is a lot of money for publicity and a lot of pretension and you can get nominated for an Oscar.

Thanks,
Jean

Dear Jean:

That certainly seems to be the case. And I completely agree with your assessment -- which I've made myself a number of times over the years -- that people take whatever is new as automatically being much better than it really is. New equals good, which I, of course, completely disagree with. As I came out of AB with two very dear and bright friends of mine, as I was about to state my opinion of the film, both of them jumped down my throat, saying that they liked it, and I shouldn't go and spoil it for them by saying negative things. I found this shocking coming from intelligent people. I still believe that if art has any value at all it can be critiqued and discussed.

Josh

Name: Chopped Nuts
E-mail: danjfox@rogers.com

Dear Josh:

About that last shot in The Conversation. I also got the surveillance camera feel of the shot, but until I read what you said about it I never figured on anyone taking it as a literal surveillance camera. Don't you think it's just there as a metaphorical kind of set-up? It's been years since I've seen the movie, but doesn't the scope it shows from one side to the other show the camera position as being in the room, thereby making it obviously not an outside surveillance camera? Ah geez, you've gone and confused me.

Dear Dan:

No, it's outside the window. You're undoubtedly right and it's meant to be a metaphor, but it's always annoyed me.

Josh

Name: tony evans
E-mail: tony@evans5060.freeserve.co.uk

Dear Josh:

Please Sir. could you tell me the title of the main tune from the film.
(THE VIKINGS)with kirk Duglas.. please...... Tony

Dear Tony:

It's the Main Theme from "The Vikings" by Mario Nascimbene, a terrific Italian composer. I love the fact that he came up with a main theme that could be played on a mastodon horn. It's a great score. Nascimbene, among many other films, also scored "One Million Year BC" and "When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth."

Josh

Name: Jean
E-mail:

Hey Josh,

I watched "The Conversation" today for the first time in about 5 years and I was blown away by it all over again. Gene Hackman's character is incredibly well developed. You really get a sense of who this strange and tormented man is. I thought it was all the little things that really made Harry a great character. When he is walking up the path to his girlfriend's place he picks up a scrap of paper from the ground. He keeps his phone in a desk drawer. When he is leaving "The Director's" building after giving him the photos he crumples up his folder and tosses it across the grass. He takes a few steps and then turns back around to pick it up. When he has his ear up against the hotel room wall he turns his pinkie ring sideways on his finger and taps the wall with it. I got the sense that this was the only reason that he even wears the pinkie ring. He was such a measured and calculated man. What a movie!

I also saw "America Beauty" for the first time ever at a friend's place last night. What a piece of shit! I would have turned it off after the first hour but other people were watching. Were we actually supposed to believe that Kevin Spacey's Marine neighbor was a closeted homosexual? And the scene where he thinks he sees his son giving Kevin Spacey a blow job was just plain stupid! It reminded me of a Three's Company episode. I felt like I was watching a 2 hour soap opera. I was even stoned and I still couldn't find anything that I liked about the film. And this thing won Oscars? What a fucking joke!

Thanks,
Jean

p.s. If you are thinking about moving back to LA instead of Detroit anytime soon good luck finding a decent place to live. The rent is fucking insane right now! My friend Mike just moved into a one room apartment in Hollywood and he's paying over $1,000 a month. It's out of control.

Dear Jean:

"The Conversation" is a very interesting movie, loaded with good stuff. And all of the aspects you pointed out are great. It being a really good film, I believe it can stand up to some criticism. My two gripes both occur in the last scene. He's playing the sax, his phone rings, no one's there. His phone rings again, but now he hears himself playing the sax. he then tears his whole place to pieces. Well, at the bugger's expo we saw a system where you call someone and hang up, then their receiver is turned into a live microphone, which is clearly what happening. Why wouldn't Harry know that? Also, the very last shot, which pans one way, then pans back the other, etc., at least to me is supposed to be a surveillance camera -- right out his window that he can't see? I doubt it. Otherwise, it's really good stuff. And of course I completely agree with you (or, since my review came first, you agree with me) about "American Beauty." I really do think it's a poorly-written (Oscar-winning) piece of crap. Spacey's good, but then he's always good.

Josh

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

Hi Josh,

I was wondering if you have heard of an Anthony Quinn filmed called "The Secret of Santa Vittoria" - it's not on your list of favourites. I saw a short for it last night when I saw "The Great Escape" and it looks like an interesting film with Quinn in particularly fine form.

Dear Tony:

I saw it in the theater when it came out. It's lesser Anthony Quinn and lesser Stanley Kramer. I was disappointed and bored, although it's not a bad premise of an Italian town during WWII hiding all of their wine when the Germans arrive. It is better, however, than the next picture Quinn and Kramer made together, "R.P.M.," which is monumental stinker.

Josh

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

Hey Josh!

I saw a news story about a week ago about a lawsuit saying that TV editing is actually copyright infringement and therefore punishable. I think the DGA is involved somehow, though I'm not sure. I haven't seen anything on it since. Do you know what it's about? I only caught the end of the story.

Thanks,

Nick

Dear Nick:

It's not TV editing, it's re-editing features and selling them on DVD and video. Video comapnies are editing out the violence, sex, and swearing, then selling the DVDs and video tapes. The culprits are CleanFlicks, Sunset Video, Video II, MovieMask, and MovieShield. This is in infringement on copyright and will probably be stopped, although people can certainly figure out how to do this themselves eventually. Anyway, the DGA is against it, as they ought to be.

Josh

Name: August
E-mail: joxerfan@hotmail.com

Dear Josh:

Saw an interesting Brazilian film this afternoon, called "Behind the Sun." Not sure where they got the English title from, because the original (based on a novel) is actually "Broken April." Anyway, it might interest you - basically a western family feud/vendetta story, just set in east nowhere Brazil. Simple theme of violence begetting violence. Its only problem for me was that it never decided who the protagonist was - the laconic older brother who has to decide whether or not to be his own man, or the kid brother, who technically is the narrator. We see much of the older brother through the kid's eyes, but he's actually more interesting when he's on his own. Anyway, I wonder if you've ever encountered that problem (deciding who the protagonist is) in any of your work, or if you've seen it in other films.

Also saw "Ride the High Country" last night on AMC for the first time. I'm guessing you liked this one? Very simple and straightforward - the mountains/woods setting reminded me of your plans for "Warpath," and I think the film could actuually have been done on a much smaller scale and been just as good. While I spotted Warren Oates right away, it took me a while to realize the main bad guy was the future "Virginian" James Drury, whose autograph I got when I was like seven. What do you think of the finale, and why do you think the two old-timers decided to shoot it out face to face with the bad guys?

Thanks,

August

Dear August:

I put "Behind the Sun" on my Netflix list. Yes, I did like "Ride the High Country," although mostly as precursor to "The Wild Bunch." Walking straight at the bad guys is a way to go out in glory, I suppose. I love when the Wild Bunch marches right into town and starts shooting everyone. In the same vein, I really like "The Shootist," too.

Josh

Name: Dylan
E-mail:

Hi Josh,

I knew that 'Hammer' did not have stop-motion (it wouldn't make any sense if it did)...and most of my all-time favorite films have no stop-motion. But that artform is something I am immensely interested in.
I have been looking around for the widescreen dvd of "The Kentuckian." I don't believe that score was ever released, though a 20 minute suite was recorded for an album release. I'll be on the lookout for the film.
'The Night Digger' is one of my all-time favorite scores (that Finale always breaks my heart, in the greatest Herrmann fashion...it really is a perfect score in every way). A lot of the other ones you mentioned (A Hatful of Rain, The Man in the Gold Flannel Suit, etc.) are available on an excellent set of cds, entitled "Bernard Herrmann at the Fox." His scores for the Fox dramas were some of his greatest, I agree.
Have you seen the film "The Night Digger"? It seems to be out of circulation.

Best Regards,
Dylan

Dear Dylan:

No, I haven't seen it, although I have heard the score. I have a CD called "America at the Movies" that has the twenty minute suite of "The Kentuckian." It's also got Hugo Friedhofer's wonderful score for "The Best Years of Our Lives" on it. There's also another Herrmann cut called "Williamsburg, The Story of a Patriot," which is the score for a 1956 documentary. When I was a kid I found the complete score for "The Kentuckian" on vinyl for $3.00, held it in my hand, read the cover, had the guy behind the counter play it for me, then I didn't buy it.

Josh

Name: Jean
E-mail:

Hey Josh,

I saw your Xena ep "For Him the Bell Tolls". Very funny stuff! I liked how Joxer's hair was perfect when he was super Joxer and then messed up when he was regular dumb Joxer. The slow motion water drenched kiss was funny as hell too. Great episode. Ted Raimi is so good at what he does. He's a great character actor. People should be giving him jobs left and right.

Thanks,
Jean

Dear Jean:

I think so. He slaughters me. I'm pleased the episode came together as well as it did, considering we were all set to shoot another script ("Blind Faith") when Lucy broke her hip on Jay Leno's show, and we switched at the last second to "For Him the Bell Tolls" and the script was whipped up out of nowhere. I tip my hat to Adam and Nora Kay, the writers. Shooting that final sword fight, with actual metal foils that were highly dangerous, was one of the most difficult scenes I've ever directed, mainly because we had so little time. I added in the big bell falling and almost killing Joxer.

Josh

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

Josh,

I forgot to mention; I was listening to Fresh Air on National Public Radio and they interviewed the author of a new Muddy Waters biography. The author was talking about what a difficult family life Waters had when I thought about the Muddy Rivers episode. My friends couldn't understand why I was laughing at Waters' troubled family life. It was too much to explain, but I really loved that bit in the movie.

John

Dear John:

Thanks. Brett, the lead actor and a big Muddy Waters fan, was really embarrassed by the whole thing, and I think it helps the scene. I saw Sam Raimi do a very similar thing at a party twenty years ago. The host of the party was showing photos he had taken, and as he showed one of a church Sam chimed in, "I know that church, it's in Boston." The host replied with utter disdain, "This is in South Africa." Sam said, "Right. Boston, South Africa," then quickly split.

Josh

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

Josh,

I have to agree about stop-action versus computer generation. For my money there's still no beating the natural shading and the natural asymetries one gets with models. Computer generated effects are antiseptic and seem to me like a way for directors/producers to a show off how much money they have. I saw a TV program a while back where they demonstrated a combination of stop action with computer morphing which created a more fluid animation without sacrificing the texture of modeling. That struck me as the best of both worlds. Since the morphing technique basically blurred one frame between two using over the counter programs it was fairly cheap as well.

On a completely different note, I was wondering why there are no parallels in film to theater groups. It seems that, if making movies is really the point, actors and production crews might imitate a theater group, distributing expensees and sharing profits. Obviously, the initial expense would be greater than a theater group would face, but I'm still surprised I've never heard of such a group in film. John Ford and others would often employ the same cast and crew even after the studio age had passed. But I doubt any of them were taking percentages they way a theater group must. Any thoughts? Thanks.

John

Dear John:

That's how John Cassavetes made his first film, "Shadows." It was a group effort on most everything, and they were all part of an acting group. Of course, good old Ingmar Bergman had his stock company of actors and crew, almost always working with the same people. I've tried to do that in my own little way, too, working with the same composer on all four films, the same editor on three, the same producer and DP on the last two. But whoever writes, produces, and directs is going to be up for a bigger percentage than the others. This isn't communisim after all. In college they tried to make a film in a completely communistic way, where everyone's names were picked out of a hat for their positions, and everything was equal, and the film barely got started let alone finished. Making a movie is a group effort, but it's still a benign dictatorship. It's got to be one person's vision.

Josh

Name: Dylan
E-mail:

Hello Josh,

Thank you for the response. What magic it was (and still is) to watch Harryhausen's creatures set to the music of Bernard Herrmann! I was just listening to the score for "Mysterious Island" a few days ago, and it's brilliant how Herrmann composed a theme for each of the creatures on the island. That score is a perfect companion piece to Herrmann's "Journey to the Center of the Earth." It is a coincidence that you brought up Herrmann, as I was going to do just that in the following message to you. Talking to you through here early on in the summer, I learned that Herrmann was your favorite film composer, and I completely agree. This may sound odd, but not only is he my favorite composer..but musically, my love is Herrmann. Have you been able to pick up the book, "A Heart at Fire's Center: The Life and Music of Bernard Herrmann" yet? An absolute must for those who admire and love his music. I remember you loved the footage on the hour documentary you own, of him standing by the pool smoking a cigarette. The book explores his personality quite deeply. I saw that Larry Cohen was mentioned a few days ago, don't forget Herrmann scored his B-film "It's Alive." Have you heard Bernard Herrmann's score for the Brian DePalma film "Obsession"? Taxi Driver's Paul Schrader wrote it...it's taken from Vertigo, as the story follows a man who's wife and daughter were killed years ago, and 10 years later he meets a woman who looks exactly like his wife did. Bernard Herrmann wrote one of his most intensely romantic and tragic works to underscore the drama. You would certainly like the score, but I'm guessing that the film wouldn't be to your liking. It's not an excellent movie, but I love what Herrmann's score does to it. A shame the world didn't take full advantage of his brilliance the last years of his life (though I strongly believe that if he wouldn't have died so suddenly after scoring Taxi Driver, he would've made quite an impressive comback), but similar things happened to other legends of film, such as Orson Welles.

Best Regards,
Dylan

PS- Yes, I have seen and own your wonderful film "Lunatics: A Love Story." The writing especially was excellent, but the acting and cinematography also shined (and I loved the spider sequence, of course). I plan to purchase a copy of your film "If I Had a Hammer" in the future. It looks like a very well-written and quite an accomplished piece. Take care.

Dear Dylan:

It may possibly be all of that, but it hasn't got any stop-motion animation. I think you guys forget sometimes how incredibly old I am. I saw "Obssession" at the theater the day it opened. I wasn't particularly impressed, and I must say it's one of Herrmann's lesser scores. I actually found the film to be over-scored, with that big giant church organ blasting in. But there are many, many of his scores no one ever talks about that are just brilliant, like "The Kentuckian" with Burt Lancaster (who also directed), "Beneath the Seven Mile Reef," "Anna and the King of Siam," "The Night Digger," "The Ghost and Mrs. Muir," "The Man in the Grey Flannel Suit," "On Dangerous Ground," "A Hatful of Rain" and the original "Cape Fear," to name but a few. Bernard Herrmann really was the greatest.

Josh

Name: dustin
E-mail: dustglas@hotmail.com

josh,

i'm taking a steadicam class at college now and each week we turn in a paper with pics from a movie and diagrams to show what the operator was doing. i chose the scene in running time when the guys are trying to crack the safe. my professor mentioned that most steadicam sequences recorded audio only for a scratch track and then later adr'd and foleyed things back in. is this the aproach you chose? by the way, your operator in that film must have been a hoss! those cams get heavy! thanks, dustin

Dear Dustin:

I'm sorry to be a party pooper, but that whole heist sequence was hand-held. Acts one and three are all on the steadi-cam. And the operator, Bill Gierhart, though not all that big of a guy was nevertheless very impressive with the steadi-cam. I think you should use the sequence going through the tunnel, then pulling back to the drug dealer.

Josh

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

Dear Josh,

The lack of logic in scripts seems to be par for the course these days, which is sad. Personally, I am willing as a movie lover to suspend my disbelief, but the filmaker must not make it too great a leap. Even a fantasy film must follow logic within the tenets of it's own story, and any film based on the real world is required to do this, or else the story becomes self-conscious and uncomfortable to watch. My friends chide me for this, but I just can't get into a film where the characters don't follow a logical progression (which is 99% of most big movies nowadays).

Darryl

P.S. Just out of curiosity, but why are you moving back to Detroit? I thought you really enjoyed living in Oregon.

D.J.M.

Dear Darryl:

It's too darn quiet up here. It's beautiful and the people are very nice, but it's too under-populated of an area and I'll never get anything going here. This last year was a nice idyll though. And if I'm not going back to LA, God forbid, then Detroit's where I'm from and where I know the most people (including il familia). It also still feels like home to me.

Josh

Name: Chris Johns
E-mail: seenonscreen@yahoo.com

Dear Josh:

Im from Michigan and I worked as an actor in your movie in Michigan Mosquito, Im in LA now, Can I work for you again?

Dear Chris:

That wasn't my movie, I was just in it. It was written and directed by Gary Jones. I have no jobs for anyone, except movers right now.

Josh

Name: Dylan
E-mail:

Hello Josh,

I was wondering, what do you think of Ray Harryhausen’s films? I don’t see any of them on your favorite films list, but I perfectly understand that (the acting, probably, is one thing about those that you dislike). But what do you think of just his work? I believe that what Harryhausen did is more artistically satisfying than the CGI we get today. CGI seems so redundant to me, as the Jurassic Park (which I don’t care for anyway) formula is immensely depleted. CG characters move so smoothly that they bare underwater weight, and also bare an unappealing shininess. Computers are a great tool, but computer animation is so dreadfully over-used today…the advent of CGI has killed the art of the craftsman, sorely missing in today’s world of visual effects. I don’t understand what most new filmmakers see in CGI, it certainly isn't more realistic, and it is sad that they ignore the older ways of creating effects. Currently, stop-motion is often used in clay comedies for tv (that are, for the most part, badly scripted) and it is also used in advertising, but it has so much more potential than to be reduced to that. Pure puppet films are still being made independently, but stop-motion's use in live action film has ceased for the time being. What do you think of this? I know visual effects in general don’t interest you, but I believe stop-motion has an important place in cinema’s history, and it always added immense dramatic impact to the films that utilized it. I also miss traditional matte and glass paintings, which were utilized to create Skull Island in King Kong, Castle Xanandu in Citizen Kane, and the town in The Birds. Shots like the matte paintings mentioned, or when Kong makes his entrance, had such a magical and haunting quality that added to making those films so unforgettable. It's a shame shots are not done like that anymore.

Best Regards,
Dylan

Dear Dylan:

Hey, I agree with you. Stop-motion is much more interesting and fun to watch than digital effects. Part of what was so appealing, I think, was that you never quite sure what someone like Harryhausen was doing, and he was always changing his approach to the effects. I used this technique in my film "Lunatics." The giant spider is a clay stop-motion effect, then it's stop-motion projected on a rear-screen behind the actor, just like "Kong," then you get parts of it full-size and mechanical, just like "Kong." And you're wrong, I love visual effects, but they have to be used for a good purpose. On their own they don't interest me. BTW, most of the time when you see what appears to be clay animation now it's really a digital effect aping clay animation, like "Shrek," which cost like $100 million, and animation guys like Harryhausen or Wllis O'Brien could have done that film for $2 million, and it would have looked better. None of Harryhausen's films are on my fav list because none of them a really very good films, the best being "Seventh Voyage of Sinbad" and "Mysterious Island," both of which I've seen many, many times, but the acting and the scripts blow. Ray Harryhausen and Bernard Herrmann always showed up for the party, though.

Josh

Name: Brian
E-mail: KumiteENT@aol.com

Hey Josh,

Has there ever been a book or play that you read, liked it so much and thought that you'd love to adapt it into a film? There have been a few plays I've read that seem like they would work well on film, with the right actors.

Dear Brian:

Not plays, necessarily, which I don't often read, but books. I'm surprised that no one has tried to tackle Colleen McCullough's Rome books, they sure seemed like movie or a mini-series to me. No one has ever made a film out of Willa Cather's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel (1922) "One of Ours," which would still be provocative. I recently read Phillip Roth's "American Pastoral" (also a Pulitzer-winner) and it seemed like it could possibly make a very interesting, intelligent film, in the proper hands.

Josh

Name: Rosana Mendoza
E-mail: rosana@superheros.as

Dear Josh Becker,

I am a senior at Sierra Vista High School and I am in real need of a mentor. I need to do a senior project in order to graduate and with the project I need a mentor. I am doing the project on film(directing). Please, I need a mentor by Oct.13, 2002. It is hard to find someone to be your mentor from the film industry. I want to graduate!!!
Thanks
Rosana Mendoza

Dear Rosana:

I certainly wish you all the best, and I hope you graduate, but I don't think I'm suitable mentor material, not at the moment anyway. Unless it can all be done here on the Q&A, in which case that's fine.

Josh

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

Dear Josh,

I agree about NIXON; although there was another good performance in Bob Hoskins' portrayal of J. Edgar Hoover (the poolside scene with the houseboy and the tortilla chip was disturbing).
Watching AMERICAN PIMP got me thinking about another film (my train of thought often takes the scenic route), LEAVING LAS VEGAS. When thinking about the two films together, I realized that the logic of LLV was flawed. If bordello prostitution is legal in Reno County (also safe, clean and better paying), why would the girl in LLV waste her time working the streets in the first place? Street prostitution in Las Vegas city limits is still illegal. It's not as if the legality of the issue were obscure; indeed, the Bunny Ranch featured in AMERICAN PIMP is world famous. Just a thought that struck me on that one.
In an aside, I read Calvin Hobbes' post about the film festival in New Haven, and if I'm not mistaken, he's talking about the York Square Cinema. Apart from the festival, that theater shows mainly independent films, and would be a good venue to approach for regular distribution (I've seen some films there run for two months or more). I don't have any contact info, but I think that they have a website (do an internet search for "York Square Cinema").

Darryl

Dear Darryl:

Bob Hoskins is always good, and he was particularly good as Hoover (a true creep). I still think the guy who played Nixon in "Elvis Meets Nixon" was WAY better, and really sounded like him. Your thought on "Leaving Las Vegas" was one of my biggest problems with that film -- Elizabeth Shue would not be working the streets, no how, no way. And if I'm supposed to feel for Cage's character, although I don't know why, they ruined it for me by giving a gorgeous, loving girlfriend immediately, so why's he so damn sad? And by skipping act one -- as so many movies do these days -- I had no idea why he was drinking himself to death, and subsequently didn't care. As I've mentioned before, a much better film on the same subject that came out the same year was "Georgia" with Jennifer Jason Leigh and Mare Winningham. The whole film is about why she's drinking herself to death -- which I personally think is a crappy story to start with -- so it all meant something and I empathized. Anyway, perhaps I will get on my own theatrical distribution, with my one print. Right now, however, my mind is on moving back to Detroit.

Josh

Name: Mike
E-mail: scarymike@hotmail.com

Dear Josh:

First off, I promise not to ask you about Magnolia! In fact, my question deals with a much lower brow.

My question is this. I saw Eight Legged Freaks not too long ago. Went in with fairly high hopes, as I really appreciate "B" type giant bug/monster movies. The movie disappointed me, though I probably should have expected that. Seems like Dean Devlin and Roland Emmerich are more miss than hit these days, and that project stank of micro-management. I hated the fact that the spiders were seen in full view during daylight chasing motorcycles to an Xtreme Sportz soundtrack (don't show the monster in daylight until it's dead!), and the fact that all the citizens of the spider infested town were able to get into the cars and yet all went to the mall at the center of town rather than driving the hell away to some place with fewer giant spiders (never give your victims access to escape until the end of the movie!). It got me thinking about another "B" flavored movie which I felt served the genre much more successfully: Tremors. The characters were believably isolated, and all escape routes were cut off.
To make a short story long - I was wondering what your take was on these two movies, and wondered if you had any thoughts or insights on the "B" monster movie genre?

Thanks,
Mike

Dear Mike:

I haven't seen "Eight Legged Freaks," but it sure sounds a whole lot like my friend Gary Jones's film "Spiders," which pre-dates it by a few years. I kind of liked "Tremors," which was well-done, had a few nice surprises, and Kevin Bacon and Fred Ward are both good. Having seen it twice, however, I feel like I never need to see it again. The whole genre doesn't interest me very much, though.

Josh

Name: Jean
E-mail:

Hi Josh!

All the bars in my neighborhood (West Hollywood) have huge jars near the bathrooms or the front doors filled with free condoms. I think I would trust those free condoms over the 99 cent store condoms any day.

I caught "Say Anything" on cable the other night and really enjoyed it. I have never been able to sit through an entire Cameron Crowe movie before, except for "Fast Times" which he did not direct. I rented "Almost Famous" and turned it off after about a half an hour. But I was impressed with "Say Anything's" story and structure. I thought it was a well written and well executed film. What did you think?

Thanks,
Jean

Dear Jean:

I agree. I think it's his best film as a director by far. And it's both a good idea, and a well-written script. I love Cusack's speech that he won't sell anything that's manufactured, and won't manufacture anything that's sold, etc. I also liked after he gets dumped, when he was getting advice the burn-outs in the 7-11 parking lot, and the guy tells him to "find a girl that looks like her, fuck her, and dump her." It's a good film, and I believed both the leads.

Josh

Name: FilmsRPriceless
E-mail: filmsRpriceless@yahoo.com

Dear Josh,

For what its worth, I'm sorry for using the reviews. I obviously didn't know what I was doing. Trust me, I won't let it happen again.

Dear Films:

That's okay. But don't use my opinions, use your own. Obviously, you know a smart critique when you see one, so develop your own critical facilities. Stop in here and argue with the rest of us.

Josh

Name: Mario Ruiz
E-mail: marsobig@yahoo.com

Hi, I wrote to you about The Big Lebowski. I never insinuated that I thought you were too dumb to understand Coen brother movies. I only wanted to encourage you to give it another chance. Your review was so rough and it's my 2nd favorite movie. Do you see why I defended it so vehemently?
How could I call you dumb? Your words were being plagiarized by a so-called film expert on the Rotten Tomatoes boards that I frequent. I'll look for your film. Is it out on DVD/video yet?

Dear Mario:

You weren't insinuating, you came out flatly and said I didn't understand it. I think I did. Jeff Bridges is good, and so is John Turturro, but the script isn't very good and it therefore doesn't interest me. Check out the site's main page and you'll see where my various films are available.

Josh


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