Q & A    Archive
Page 83

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

Dear Josh,

I must agree with your assessment of the fight sequence in "They Live." My friend and I used to use it as a point of reference for "most ridiculous cinematic fight ever" because it DID go on way too long, and started to get funny. Anything that removes you from a film as that scene did pretty much sucks in my book. And as for Carpenter's other work, "Assault on Precinct 13" was pretty good, "The Thing," and-uh, well, that's it. I didn't even see "Escape From L.A." despite the fact that Bruce was in it...I have to maintain SOME standards.

With that said, I saw "Punch Drunk Love" on Sunday, and for me, the best part was the preview for "Confessions of a Dangerous Mind," the upcoming pseudo-bio-pic about "Gong Show" host Chuck Barris, who was allegedly a CIA agent during his television career. It stars Sam Rockwell, an actor whom I consider extremely underrated, and hopefully it will put him in America's subconscious. Have you ever seen "Box of Moonlight" by Tom DiCillo, or "Lawn Dogs?" Both are Rockwell films that do him justice. "Charlie's Angels" did not.

Cindy

Dear Cindy:

It seemed to me that "Assault on Precinct 13" ought to have been good, but I didn't think it was. I haven't seen either of the two films you mentioned. Do you really think I should? In which case I'll order them. I did see "Bowling for Columbine" last night so I can join into the discussion. I enjoyed it and found it very provocative in many ways. I really appreciate that Michael Moore has a sincere point of view, and for the most part, I agree with him. He did stop short of the big picture, however, in my opinion. Most major countries may only have 50 to 200 shootings a year compared to our 11,500 plus shootings, and white Americans undoubtedly do demonize black people, live in fear of them, and that's why we own so many weapons, but the real question to me is, of those 11,500 shootings, who's shooting who? Most of those shootings are not white kids shooting up their high schools, or little kids mistakenly shooting each other, it's (as far as I know) black people shooting black people. This may not actually be a threat to white people, but it does propagate the demonization. To have gone to this extent would have undermined Moore's premise, which is okay with me, but it's a bigger issue than he's going into. Any thoughts?

Josh

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

Josh,

I'm going to call you on this one. In your reply to Patrick about his fourteen-year old son, Alex, who wants to be a director, you said that good grades were unnecessary and that what was really needed was to watch old films, learn story structure, etc. Considering that Alex, at fourteen, is THE demographic for whom most current movies are directed, it seems likely that he might want to make exactly those sorts of movies. As you've pointed out countless times, current movies seem constructed with virtually no concern for structure, story or any sort of studied approach. My guess is that Alex, and the many others who write to you for advice on becoming a director, are more concerned with being successful than they are with being good.

Despite the fact that your, yourself, do not make movies that way, I would think that you would be able to offer rather practical advice for those who wish to do so. Of course, you may not wish to contribute to the delinquency of an industry. On his website, BC has a series of essays entitled "So you want to be..." and I think he makes the same mistake; believing that most actors, writers, directors, et. al, would rather be good than successful. Hollywood products certainly seem to argue otherwise. Not that I don't appreciate what BC has to say, but I wonder how many would-be directors feel the same. You could respond, and rightly so, that if people want to be like those other directors, etc, those people could visit those directors' websites. But I would enjoy reading an essay you might write on how to sell out and make it big in Hollywood.

I should also mention my appreciation for the reply that you did give to Patrick. The truth hurts and certainly seems to be an equal opportunity deployer. Thanks,

John

Dear John:

Neither Bruce nor I can really give advice on how to be a successful film director since neither one of us is one. All we can do is give the best advice we can about trying to make good films. To be a successful Hollywood film director is such an elusive, odd goal now, that is really and truly not based on knowledge or intelligence, what can you say? Start learning how to kiss ass and lie straight into people's faces as early as possible? Practice on your friends and family. It's not an essay I'm qualified to write.

Josh

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

Dear Josh,

I heard this morning that Wynona Ryder was convicted for vandalism and grand theft for that whole shoplifting incident a few months ago, and was wondering what you thought of the matter, and the idea of celebrities flaunting the law in general. Personally, I'm glad that she was convicted. There was no question of her guilt (numerous eyewitnesses saw her take items in excess of $5,000, and the security camera has footage of her using a scissors to cut the little security tags off of the stuff in the ladies' dressing room), but there was some question of whether or not she could evade the law.
It angers me when celebrities use their star power and money to evade justice, as it germinates disrespect for the law. Christian Slater was caught trying to smuggle cocaine and a 9mm pistol on board a flight at LAX, and all he got was a few days community service, washing police cars in Beverly Hills. If you or I were caught either doing the above or shoplifting $5,000 worth of expensive clothes from some boutique, we'd end up like Carl from RUNNING TIME fast enough to make your head spin. Frankly, it pisses me off, and I'm glad that at least one of them got nailed.

Sorry, but ranting to you is cheaper than
therapy,
Darryl

Dear Darryl:

I deeply and sincerely don't give a shit what Wynona Ryder does, offscreen or on. If it's an artist I care about, that's a different story. Then, like a friend, I'd want them to get off.

Josh

Name: Julian Iorio
E-mail: jiorio@pacbell.net

Dear Josh:

Throughly enjoyed your essay. You cleared up a lot of self doubt, and re-inforced self confidence. As you say, this type of writing, for the screen, is difficult at best. But when one is 'cooking', and is doing it right, and the outcome is right, its a great feeling. It is an art-form that one continues to work at all life long.Thanks for your imput.I sincerely enjoyed all of your comments. JI

Dear Julian:

Which essay?

Josh

Name: brian
E-mail: briantucker@metrocast.net

Dear Josh:

what is the running time about

Dear Brian:

It's about seventy minutes.

Josh

Name: Patrick
E-mail:

Mr. Becker,

My 14-year old son Alex wants to be a director for a career when he grows up. I support him in his goal, but I have some concerns.

He is convinced there are basically no qualifications required to become a director. He is further convinced that he does not need to do well in school in any subjects that are not directly related to film-making, so math, science, history, etc. are all very low priority to him compared to drama class for example, and his grades reflect it. No attempts to reason with him have been successful, and I am very concerned that he won't be able to pursue his dream, or any dream, if he keeps up the bad grades. I have told him he needs to get a degree in cinematography as a start, and in order to get into a good college he needs to get the best grades possible in every class he takes through high school, but again, he does not choose to believe me.

Can you take a few minutes to write to my son and share your thoughts on this? This is an opportunity for you to help guide a teenager and help him make the right choices.

Thank you for your time.

Due to the personal nature of the question, please withold our names and email address if you decide to use this question on your website.

Patrick

Dear Patrick:

Doing well in school certainly won't hurt him becoming a director, but it's not a requirement. And he won't need a degree in directing or cinematography, which, once again, won't hurt him, but aren't necessary, and won't get him any jobs. What he does need to do is read as much as humanly possible to see how stories function, as well as seeing as many movies as possible. Old movies, not just new ones. I know this isn't the answer you were looking for and I apologize, but it's the truth as far as I know.

Josh

Name: Diana Hawkes
E-mail: top secret now

Dear Josh:

Alright,
does anybody care to tell me what in all hell is going on with the "American Movie Classics (AMC)" channel?!
Did I miss a memo?

They were showing "Mannequin" for christ's sake! I entertained the notion for a second that a programmer was hitting the sauce at the controls or something! Is this format change permanent?

Dear Diana:

I'm not sure how long ago it was, maybe a year, when AMC changed and began interrupting the films with commercials, and that's when I stopped watching. They were never a good channel, never committed to letterboxing, and always cut out the swearing, so I don't give a good Goddamn about them.

Josh

Name: Jack
E-mail: finchfry2004@aol.com

Dear Josh:

Thank you for taking the time to read this letter, I understand that you are a very busy man and I thank you for accepting this letter. Others and myself have always been a huge fan of your work. I am currently involved in a small independent film group, very close to the way you and your friends got started. We have made over ten films and have plans for more, but this group is very inexperienced and are walking blind so it seems. And we would greatly appreciate any help you could be willing to give us, anything would be greatly appreciated. Again I thank you for your time.
Anything you’d be willing to send, please send it to either

Dear Jack:

Did you get hit on the head with a blunt object? What is it you'd like?

Josh

Name: Tim Shank
E-mail:

Dear Josh,

What are the best films that involve irony in their stories?

Dear Tim:

My favorite example is "The Bridge on the River Kwai." Watch it.

Josh

Name: Matt
E-mail: www.Matthew@bigpond.com

hey josh,

i am currently studying year 12 english and on of my assignments is to compare the diffenences between a novel and the movie. I am doing the bridge on the river Kwai and i am having trouble getting a script and was hoping you could help me out.

thanks
Matt

Dear Matt:

I've never seen a script of it, so I guess you'll have to work from the film. The book and the film are very different. I quite frankly think the script is better than the book.

Josh

Name: Justin
E-mail: salicopics@mail.com

Josh,

So I just picked up my copy of Hammer, and it's awesome. Probably the best movie I've seen from 2001, but that might not mean much since I probably saw sub-20 movies produced last year.

Maybe it's just me, but I got the impression that you were using the 1964 death of the folk movement as a sort of commentary on today's society, with all the mindless tv watching and everything, or at least how it got so bad.

The main characters are clearly defined: you've got the ideal girl who these two guys are idealizing for the wrong reasons, driven to get in her pants (maybe not such a wrong reason). Besides the role these three play in folk music, I saw something else in them. Lorraine seemed to portray the ideals of artistic integrity and trying to do all the right things. Phil seemed to represent America, torn between the ups and downs of reality or TV, which he ultimately chooses. Black turtleneck is more of a poser parallel of Phil, he leads on that he cares (what's with his beard?). The two guys seem different in the beginning, but in the end, they are very similar, homogenized by TV.

So I saw the setting of the end of the folk movement as one more milestone of America becoming televisionized. America, just like Phil, had the choice between striving for something better in reality or becoming slaves to TV, and TV won out.

My biggest beef, however, was the whole part in the club being too long; it throws off the pacing. Lorraine's high school friends seemed the most unnecessary. Maybe you were trying to show how even Lorraine wasn't always ideal, but the ride with parents served a similar purpose.

Great film. Make more.

Justin

Dear Justin:

Interesting review. I think you're mixing up two characters, Max, Lorraine's friend at the beginning that helped her hand out the flyers, and Terry, the other guy at the club. And the film is most definitely a comment on America today.

Josh

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

Dear Josh,

I'd forgotten about the Elvis film, but it seems to me that it was unique for two reasons: Kurt Russell is very good in it, and it came out very recently after Elvis' death (was it the first Elvis biopic made?).
To say one thing more about John Carpenter, I enjoyed the fight sequence between Roddy Piper and David Keith in THEY LIVE. It was a real vicious brawl, and it defied the typical Hollywood notion that everyone in any action movie must know a martial art, period. Having gotten into a few brawls in my time (and gotten my ass kicked about as often as I won), I could appreciate the fact that Carpenter showed the fight for what it was: two guys hurting the living shit out of each other, and not giving a damn about technique or stunts.

Darryl

Dear Darryl:

Yeah, but the fight went on forever and that's sure not how the fights I've been in or witnessed really worked. Fights are, for the most part, rather quick ordeals. The fight in "They Live" looked like two stuntmen duking it out to me. And though the film has an interesting premise, I thought it was rather poorly written and a drag, like most John Carpenter films.

Josh

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

Dear Josh,

Just a quick word to Diana Hawkes: I just watched BECKER ON THE MOVE, and thought it was hysterical! Keep up the good work.

Darryl

Dear Darryl:

I dutifully pass the message along.

Josh

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

Dear Josh,

I was thinking about your theory on the bug in THE CONVERSATION, and I don't know if the bug was the phone. Moran makes a big point about the phone not making a sound on the receiver end, so that the subject doesn't suspect the telephone as a bug. Certainly, they wanted Harry to believe that he was bugged, but I don't know if they actually did or not.
As for John Carpenter, I enjoyed a handful of his films: HALLOWEEN, ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK, THE FOG, his remake of THE THING, and THEY LIVE. It was interesting to me that THE THING and ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK did for Kurt Russell what the westerns did for Jimmy Stewart: allow the actor to shed a persona that no longer fit him in favor of a more mature type of film. Both Jimmy and Kurt were known as nice guy, aw shucks type of actors, and both wanted to do more grown up things. An interesting parallel, although I don't think you'd agree with comparing Kurt Russell and Jimmy Stewart in any way (the actors aren't alike, but both went through a similar developmental period in their respective acting careers).

Darryl

P.S. You're absolutely right though: TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE rocked!

D.

Dear Darryl:

But Kurt Russell hasn't gone on to anything of any meaning. I personally think Russell is awful in "Escape," doing his half-assed Clint Eastwood imitation. He didn't even really interest me as a kid actor. He did do a terrific job Elvis, though, which is probably my favorite John Carpenter film. Shelly Winters was perfect as his mom.

Josh

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

Josh,

Yes, "Five and Dime" was a filmed play, definitely. But sometimes that works.

On another note, I watched "Made for Each Other," last night, which starred Carole Lombard and James Stewart...and it felt like a melodrama until the last two minutes. Did they tack a "Hollywood" ending onto that film?

Also, watching Carole Lombard, I found myself really annoyed with the timbre of her voice, which got me thinking--I think the reason I like most any actor or actress is because of his/her voice. I feel it's the central focus of any performance (provided it's a speaking role). Hence my fondness for Orson Welles, Jimmy Stewart, Katharine Hepburn, etc. etc. Great, distinctive voices.

cindy

Dear Cindy:

I agree completely. The sound of an actor's voice is very important. Their voice is their main tool, and with a weak or undistinctive voice it's almost impossible to be a great actor. I have cast a lot of voice talent in onscreen parts over the years because they had such terrific voices and I didn't really care what they looked like. Far too much attention is paid to attractiveness, whereas the voice is more important.

Josh

Name: Michael L. Andrews
E-mail: inspiringfeather@aol.com

Dear Josh:

I have written a spec screenplay. How much can a person expect to sell a spec screenplay for and do I have to give up my publishing rights?

Dear Michael:

Almost nobody ever sells spec screenplays. I did, but I'm the only person I know that has. If you can just get it optioned, you've done a whole lot. As to how much you might get if you did sell it, Writer's Guild low-budget minimum is about $28,000 and the high-budget minimum is about $48,000. If someone actually buys the script, they've purchased every possible right under the sun, including publishing, toys, sequels, and remakes. You might want to check out the Writers Script Network. Good luck.

Josh

Name: Garret Harkawik
E-mail: funktaisia@hotmail.com

Dear Josh:

About Micheal Moore, I almost always agree with his opinions and I'm really hoping Bowling For Columbine gets released where I live (Buffalo), but I find that sometimes he can be really unfair about his topics. In his documentary Roger and Me, he completely changed the order in which things happened. Like the loss of 30,000 jobs? It happened over a period of twelve years. Also, Moore makes the planned Car-theme park seem like a response to the plant closings, when the plan was actually conceived and fell apart long before the closings. Moore makes discrepancies like this throughout the whole movie, like the story about Ronald Regan visiting Flint. We're told that while having lunch with some laid off workers at a pizza parlor, Regan's response to the crisis was to advise them to move to Texas and during the meeting, the parlor's cash register was stolen. Regan did visit Flint, but it was in 1980 before the crisis and the register was stolen 2 days before. If Moore was trying to make a movie about expasing the truth about the plant closings around him, then why did he lie so much himself?

Dear Garret:

All movies are lies, particularly documentaries. There's no such thing as a completely true documentary, since the filmmaker is deciding what to use and what not to use. It's always going to be slanted some way due to the process. I have no problem with the "truth" of "Roger & Me," since his point is so valid -- does GM owe Flint something, considering it wouldn't be there if it wasn't for them? Does industry owe the community anything? Is industry beholden to the country it's in? Or is it perfectly OK that the second you start making a profit you fire all your American workers and move your plants to third-world countries? The Reagan story is just that, a story, and he tells it like it was being told all over Michigan. Keep in mind that Moore made that film over the course of many years, with no thought or hope that anyone anywhere would ever see it. That it became popular and he became famous is really odd, and he certainly had no clue of that when he made the film. He made the film he wanted to make, and I respect that.

Josh

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

Dear Josh,

Okay, I read the stuff on THE CONVERSATION. After watching it, my only question was: Where did they hide the bug in Harry Caul's apartment? Checking the director's commentary on the DVD didn't help; Francis Ford Coppola copped out with an artistic "I don't really know where it is" type of response. Thinking about it, it occurred to me that there was no bug; one of the tapes that the girl stole from Harry's workshop was the same jazz riff that Harrison Ford plays over the phone at the end of the movie to convince Harry that he is being monitored. It was just a head game.
In a tangent, I saw a documentary on the making of HALLOWEEN on AMC last night. I had always thought that it was a tightly paced, well put together horror film, one which made excellent use of suspense rather than gore. What did you think of it?

Darryl

Dear Darryl:

It seems obvious to me that the bug is in his telephone, just like the one he saw at the bugger's show. You call someone, there's no one there, they hang up, then the phone is a live receiver. While Harry is playing the sax the phone rings, no one there, he hangs up, plays the recorded riff, the phone rings again and he hears what he just played. The phone's a receiver. They went to the trouble of setting it up, it seems very clear to me. It's the camera out the window I don't buy, if that's what it is. Anyway, I don't care for "Halloween," or any of John Carpenter's films, for that matter. To me all his films drop dead within thirty minutes. For my money I'll take "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" any day of the week.

Josh

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

Josh,

Personally, I will always remember "Gladiator" as the film that killed Oliver Reed. That probably isn't fair, but it serves them right for making such a crappy movie. It astounds me that people write so many lousy stories when great stories are there for the picking. Roman history provides all sorts of stories that either haven't been done or haven't been done well. I find it interesting, though, that even in good movies Rome is seen as a thing to be resisted when, generally, it was great civilizing force. The Pax Romana was a great accomplishment and the Antonine Emperors provided about as good governance as man has ever experienced.

Your brief tirade against Anthony Hopkin's unmentionable role made me think that I generally find "Evil" characters boring. All those James Bond villains who are "out to control the world"; what will they do once they have it? Far more interesting to me as an antagonist are amoral characters. An amoral character need not be evil, he must only lack external behavioral guidelines. Fanatics of all stripes fit this description. Gregory Peck in "Guns of Navarone" was largely amoral; though he acted for a "good cause", his immediate actions were always justified by the end he was pursuing. He believed that his mission required any sacrifice. Alec Guiness in "Bridge" is another example; not really evil, his unshakeable faith in duty makes him an antagonist.

Amorality can be a temporary condition. The need for revenge, in "Monte Cristo", for example, can create a temporary amorality. I think we all believe we could set aside our own morality under the right circumstances and seeing what motivates screen characters to do so helps us in this belief. Well, that's what I think and have been thinking about recently. Thoughts?

John

Dear John:

I'm actually working on a story that takes place in Rome in 41 AD, under Claudius. I think the Romans got their present rep from having picked on the Jews and Christians, who are still around and the Romans aren't. It's not the winner that gets to write the history, it's the survivor. The Roman republic and early empire were the greatest civilizations on this planet, up 'til now, perhaps. And yes, I completely agree with you that an amoral believable human is much more interesting, and potentially scary, than a super-villian. Super-villians and superheroes, in my humble opinion, are for the birds.

Josh

Name: Kevin
E-mail: iamkevin@aol.com

Dear Josh:

When writing a screenplay, do you double space after a period?

What's the minimum number of pages a screenplay has to be? A lot of people say to write at least 90 pages, but is 75 sufficient? Because when I look at some produced screenplays, they are in the 70 to 80 page range (especially action and horror flicks).

THANKS.

Dear Kevin:

Most scripts are about 120 pages. 90 pages would be the minimum, and about 150 would be the maximum. But that's if you're trying to sell it to someone. If you're making it yourself it can be however long you care to make it. The script for "Evil Dead" was about 35 pages long, but Sam knew what he had in mind. And yes, you double-space after a period.

Josh

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

Dear Josh,

This suggestion may be insane, or illegal, I don't know: why don't you have a button on your website for people to donate money for your next film? I mean, Darren Aronofsky just asked everyone he knew for $100 each to finish "Pi," and then put their names on a fat list at the end of the credits. Couldn't you do something like that, and use the internet? I saw a guy on eBay offering "producer credit" for bids of $500 or more to finish his film. Crazy, yes. But, hey! If it works, you have a neat story to tell.

And as for good movies I've seen lately? "Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean" by Robert Altman was pretty cool, and Karen Black playing a transsexual made Karen Black make sense, ya know? And for some reason, even though she always plays the same flustered schoolteacher/virgin/prude type, I like Sandy Dennis.

--cindy

p.s. Thanks for your comments about Michael Moore. He truly inspires and delights me and its good to hear someone else echoing his sentiments. You pretty much live these tenets, anyway, and I can't see you directing commercials for Wal*Mart anytime soon.

Dear Cindy:

Raising money that way is in fact illegal. To legally raise money you have to make a legal offering, like a limited partnership or limited liabilty corporation (which I did for all four of my films), which is registered with the state and has limitations on how many investors you can have, how much they have to make a year, and how much the investments are. This is to guard the average person so they don't get bilked. Part of the deal is that the investors have to make a minimum of $200,000 a year, and you can only have 25-35 of them, thus making the shares $5,000 to $10,000 each. If you want to raise a thousand shares of $500 each, then you have to register your offering with the SEC (which costs about $50,000 to set up), and then you're offering stock like anyone else on the stock market. Meanwhile, I didn't make it all the way through "Five and Dime" many years ago when it first appeared on cable. It seemed too much like a filmed play to me, but I don't think I really gave it a chance. Sandy Dennis is great in "Who's Afraid of Viginia Woolf?"

Josh

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

Dear Josh,

I can think I can shed light on the Harris/O'Toole drunk-on-stage story.
The "Madam you're ugly" line is probably an urban myth, and has been around since the 1930's, and has involved various combinations of W.C. Fields, Judith Anderson, Winston Churchill, and Lady Astor. As for the stage story, I do recall one of them (but I think it was O'Toole) on some late-night talk show, talking about how *both* of them appeared in some play where neither were on stage for 45 minutes or so. So they went across the street to a pub, and quickly got toasted. One matinee, someone in the front row did notice that one of them was noticably weaving and flubbing his lines, to which he responded something like "so bloody what?"

(Of course, just because he told the story doesn't really mean it happened!)

And a note on that smothering scene. The historical Marucs Aurelius died a natural death way in the middle of nowhere in modern Yugoslavia, at an adanced age while leading his armies. Not too cinematic. So they borrowed an image from the death of the Emperor Tiberius from 100 years before. He had apparently died, then struggled to his feet from his deathbed, and his great-nephew Caligula had a guard smother him with a pillow (since Caligula had already announced Tiberius's death!) In "I, Claudius, Tiberius is seen as a frail 77-year old, and the guard is a brute, so it's more believable.)

Regards,

August

Dear August:

Not to mention that Tiberius was right on the verge of death from disease. That he had made it as long as he did is something of a miracle. Whether Caligula actually had him smothered is open to conjecture, too. It's in "I, Claudius," which is a great book, but it's still a novel. I knew that's where they were stealing the smothering scene from when I saw it, but it doesn't make nearly the sense in "Gladiator" that it does in "I, Claudius," as you mentioned. The worst thing about "Gladiator" is that it's such an unoriginal pastiche of other films, shows, and books about ancient Rome.

Josh

Name: Allison
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

Could you please put some pictures on your website of cholesterol. For example a picture of a clogged artery. Thanks.

Dear Allison:

What happened? Did you put "Cholesterol" into a search engine and get my short story "High Cholesterol"? This is actually a movie site, in case you're interested, and there will never be any photos of clogged arteries. Sorry.

Josh

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

Josh,

What do you think about Michael Moore's documentaries? I just saw his new film Bowling for Columbine last night and thought it was pretty great. It's been awhile since I left the theater with something to think and talk about afterward. I realize that some people think he is just a left-wing fanatic, but I find him to be a very bright guy that offers alot to the political conversation. Based on his previous films (and his latest book) I assumed the film would have a very anti-gun bias, but I have to give him credit for not coming to any easy answers in the film. Yes, we have a huge problem in this country with the availability of guns, but many other countries have the same availability with much lower gun-related deaths, so there must be something deeper going on here.

Anyway, I think the film is definitely worth checking out. Hopefully the distributor puts it out in a few more theaters. I was looking at a map of where the film is playing and much of the midwest and south is still not showing it. Including Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Louisiana, and our sniper's homestate of Alabama. Apparently there has been some problems with the distributor in terms of getting a decent release. Maybe if it keeps doing business they will have to put it out in more places. I really think it's a film that needs to be seen by alot of people. At the moment though, the country seems more interested in seeing Jackass: The Movie.

Jim

Dear Jim:

I haven't seen it yet, but I'd like to. I enjoyed Michael Moore's two previous documentaries, and I do agree he has a very legitimate point of view. In "Roger & Me" and "The Big One" I think he's making a very valid point that unchecked capitalism can become a bad, evil thing. Capitalism is certainly a good system, far better than most, but at a point is goes utterly sour. When the vice-president is part of a multi-billion dollar scam like Enron; when the president is in bed with Saudi Arabian oil, who are the big financiers of terrorism (then has the taxpayers financing TV ads for the DEA saying that drugs cause terrorism); when the CEO of a company is making $20 million a year and the average worker at the company is making minimum wage; when highly profitable companies move all of their operations overseas to not have to pay American workers minimum wage, it's a system going wrong. To me this is most apparent and egregious in the film business, where all of their product is now geared down to the lowest common denominator and aimed at children because it's the easiest, stupidest product to make. I think we need people like Michael Moore to point out how wrong things are going. Everybody else is so ready and eager to sell out that they'll never speak out against the staus quo.

Josh

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

Dear Josh,

I think that you might enjoy the reconstructed version of GREED, as the adding of the stills is non-intrusive. Indeed, it does look as if it were part of the original production, and the use of the original camera movements, per a continuity script from 1923, gives the stills some movement. The jump-cuts may be part of the famous hack-job that MGM did to the film when they found Von Stroheim's second cut still too long. The original cut was about 9 1/2 hours, then Von Stroheim cut it down himself to about 4 hours, and finally the studio yanked the film from him, gave it to a house editor, and chopped it down to a little over 2 hours. I taped the film off of TCM, along with a short piece about the reconstruction. If you like, I can send you a copy when you get settled in your new location.
I just learned myself that Richard Harris died. It saddens me that most modern audiences will only remember him as the old man in GLADIATOR. That seems to be the price that the talented, Shakespearian-trained British actors have to pay for stardom and big American paychecks. Most audiences won't remember Michael York's performances in LOGAN'S RUN or THE THREE MUSKETEERS or a good number of really good roles; they'll only know him as Basil from those moronic Austin Powers movies. The same goes for Christopher Lee, who spent years dividing his time between the Royal Shakespeare Company and inumerable cheap horror flicks, and who is now known to audiences the world over as the wizard Sarumon in THE LORD OF THE RINGS. My friend Joe was surprised when we happened to be watching THE FOUR MUSKETEERS and I pointed out Christopher Lee to him (the one-eyed Rochefort) as the same actor who portrayed Sarumon.
Even Anthony Hopkins hasn't escaped this fate: most people think of THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS when they hear his name. I'm happy for these talented people to enjoy a little financial success in their lives (as well as escape crushing British income taxes), but dislike the fact that it cheapens their talents, for they rarely appear in any American venture that exercises them to their full potential. What do you think of this?

Darryl

Dear Darryl:

I probably do need to see "Greed" again. And British actors didn't used to be wasted in American films. Of course, now everyone of every nationality is wasted in American films. But Laurence Olivier made a lot of terrific films in Hollywood, like "Wuthering Heights," "Pride and Prejudice," "Carrie" and "Sleuth," to name a few. So did John Gielgud, Ralph Richardson, Deborah Kerr, Peter Ustinov, Jean Simmons, on and on. The soulless corporate take-over of filmmaking doesn't care where you're from or what your training was.

Josh

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

Dear Josh,

Sorry, but I had another letter's worth of junk in me. I just saw THE CONVERSATION today, and was wondering what you thought of it. I realize that there was already a discussion on this a month ago, but I hadn't seen the film at that time.

Darryl

Dear Darryl:

So go back and read the previous discussion, then join in. I've got to recap it for you?

Josh

Name: Diana Hawkes
E-mail: you got it

Dear Josh:

Whoops! How embarrasing, I got Harris and his phallic buddy mixed up, eh. (I think they used to get high alot together as young live theatre actors in London....???)
Now I'm confused-- help me out here-- which of them would be a recurring guest on David Letterman (actually I think it was both!), where-in Letterman would always plead with Harris to tell the legendary tale of their heavy drinking days, and particularly the one where Harris (or O'Toole?) was acting on stage, hammered out of his skull, and an uptight woman in the audience screeched- "You're drunk!"
and Harris broke character and responded, "Madam, I may be drunk, but tommorrow I'll be sober and you'll still be ugly." Something like that.

Oh -I do however recall quite clearly your disdain for Gladiator! I felt emboldened to stick my neck out and mention that I was moved by that scene, though. I guess I bought it because of the demonstration that Harris' Marcus Aurelius was so weak as to barely be able to mount his horse, and at Maximus' last meeting with him he seemed ready to die. Combined with a quick showing off of Phoenix's Commodus being quite atheletic in sword sparring....well, eh, I bought the suffocation <shrug>. I kinda thought; Super-old folks with, say, pneumonia are weak as kittens. (Not trying to sway your mind on it, just don't want you to think I like the film only cause I'm some girlie-girl with a blinding crush on Crowe or something, heh-heh although admittedly that probably has something to do with it.)

Dear Diana:

I think you're still mixing up Harris and O'Toole. I don't know about Letterman, but Peter O'Toole appeared quite a few times on Johnny Carson's show and he was always drunk or completely out of his mind. As opposed to the ease in which Aurelius dies in "Gladiator," I'm much more on the side of Hitchcock in "Torn Curtain," that it's really difficult to kill someone, if you don't shoot them or stab them repeatedly. "Gladiator" just seemed like horseshit to me in every direction, but that scene made me moan out loud. I'd much rather discuss "Spartacus" or "Ben-Hur," which are far superior films. Or even "The Fall of the Roman Empire," which isn't great, but far better than "Gladiator."

Josh

Name: Danny Cork
E-mail:

Josh,

Just read your review of 'In the Bedroom'. In effect you said that it would have been far better had it established itself as a revenge film from the beginning, and ditched using the son as a lead character in the first act.
I just read the short story it was based('Killings')at college. The story foreshadows the killing, does not use the boy as a protagonist, and never once switches genres. Why the story was approached from seemingly three different directions in the film, is beyond me. Anyway, just thought you'd be interested to know that it USED to be a decent story. Bloody Hollywood. Take it easy,
Danny Cork

Dear Danny:

That's interesting. I found it to be a painfully dull film to sit through. Hollywood is very good at ruining stories.

Josh

Name: Diana Hawkes
E-mail: sdhawkes@penn.com

Dear Josh:

Awwww, just found out Richard Harris died.
Josh, your thoughts? What are your "must-see's" of his work?

I'm not extensively familiar with his body of work, but I can say ironically I just caught him like, last week, for the first time in "Lion In Winter" and enjoyed his performance. (His reaction to his son-Anthony Hopkins- and a very young Timothy Dalton, whom I consider the sexiest of the Bonds, in a homosexual scandal mirrored my own reaction! D'oh!}
I also was touched by his suffocation scene with Juaquin Pheonix in the recent "Gladiator"-- where director Scott talks of his lines being improvised there, and Scott only allowing it if he would say it on his knees.

And I mustn't forget the SCTV skit based on Harris' singing his 60's "Macarthur Park". LOL! Do you remember that skit Josh?
It was Dave Thomas as a wigged out Harris, and the backup singer gal was reading a book during the excruciatingly long song, and scrambling to get to the mic when her brief part came up. Everyone went thru their 60's phase, eh?

Dear Diana:

That was Peter O'Toole in "A Lion in Winter" (as Groucho Marx said, "Peter O'Toole has a double-phallic name"). I really thought Harris' death scene in "Galdiator" was ridiculous and stupid. Juaquin Phoenix hugs Richard Harris to death? Harris is a bigger man than Phoenix. I must say that I really hated that movie. Anyway, Richard Harris gave terrific performances in "A Man Called Horse," "Wrestling Ernest Hemingway," and "Unforgiven." I didn't see that SCTV skit, but it sounds funny. It always amused the hell out of me that Richard Harris, who basically can't sing (as "Camelot" proves), had a number one hit single. I'd say that has a lot more to do with Jimmy Webb's song than Harris' delivery. I much prefer Donna Summer's version.

Josh

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

Dear Josh,

THE WANNSEE CONFERENCE was from 1984? Where the hell did I get the early sixties from, then? Oh, well, at the advanced age of twenty-four, the old synapsis' start going...
Anyway, I do agree that a remake being a bad idea is generally the norm. This is particularly true with the shot-for-shot remake concept, such as Gus Van Zant's reshoot of PSYCHO. Why on earth would anyone want to make an exact, shot by shot remake of a previous film? That's not filmaking, it's painting by numbers, something which Van Zant, everyone's favorite gay Hollywood rip-off artist, is famous for. That would explain why a huge chunk of the plot in MY OWN PRIVATE IDAHO was lifted, dialogue and all, from HENRY IV part I. Shakespeare and gay street Hookers in Seattle: only in Hollywood is such a thing possible.
Before I start ranting (too late), I'd better change the subject. Did you happen to see the reconstruction of GREED that TCM aired a while back? I thought that the method the reconstruction team used was interesting: use the production stills that survived the massive studio re-edit, put them on a motion table, and move them according to the original camera directions in the continuity script. The end result is very good; the use of stills blends well with Stroheim's camera directions, and looks as though it was originally intended. Short of finding the lost footage in someone's basement, it's the next best thing for seeing what the director originally had in mind.
I recall you saying somewhere that GREED only interested you historically at this point, and although I would disagree that that is the extent of it's value, I can see your point. Historically, GREED represents an important cinematic experiment. Nowadays, filmakers like to say that you can't translate a novel page for page into a film. However, prior to GREED, no one had ever attempted it. Personally, I think he succeeded, but no one could say anything definite on the subject unless Stroheim had attempted it. What do you think?

Darryl

Dear Darryl:

Admittedly, I haven't seen it in twenty years, but I was less than impressed. I didn't like the acting or Von Strohiem's technique, or lack thereof. My memory tells me it had more jump-cuts than any other movie before or since. I probably do need to see it again and reevalute it. I really don't like the idea of adding stills into moving pictures, which totally pulls you out of the flow of the film. They did this to the 1954 "A Star is Born" and now it's the only version available. I think the director, George Cukor, would have preferred it cut down than with stills included. Meanwhile, I just watched the 1930 version of "Trader Horn," which was fascinating. Shot on location in Africa, it actually has pretty good sound for the day, and is well-shot and well-edited. It was a huge hit, and started MGM off on their series of jungle films, led by the Johnny Weissmuller Tarzan films. Sadly, though, you actually see two rhinos get killed, as well as a lion get killed with a spear through it's head. Still, it's a well-produced, entertaining early talkie.

Josh

Name: Fabio Blanco
E-mail: longtom@oeste.com.ar

Hi Josh:

Only to comment I am trying to find some of your movies here in Buenos Aires. Lunatics was edited a lot of years ago, and is very hard to find but I did localize somebody that can sell me one copy. I realize that Thou shall not kill... except is edited too, but is more easy find that bird from Malta. Anyway I hope I'll soon enjoy your films and share them with my filmlovers friends...
By the way, I dream about you. I can't remember too much but was about you travel in time and working for Harry Cohn... worst case scenario? :)
See you later Josh...
I'll keep seeing the movies...

Dear Fabio:

I've had that same dream, and you were in it. Even though Harry Cohn was supposedly a big asshole, I still respect him for having good taste. A lot of great films were made at Columbia under his presidency. When he died and was buried at the Hollywood cemetery (which is right next to where Columbia used to be), and there was a big crowd at the funeral, Danny Kaye quipped, "You see, give the people what they want and they'll show up."

Josh

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

Dear Josh,

"Kongo" sounds interesting (is it on Netflix?), and should certainly be better than the big budget schlock-fest of a few years ago. I haven't seen HOWARD'S END, but I enjoyed both REMAINS OF THE DAY and THE LION IN WINTER (indeed, the latter is one of my favorite films; it isn't so much a film as it is an acting duel between high caliber actors). LION IN WINTER tickles me; I just love the dialogue.
I was just thinking about remakes. It seems to me that there are legitimate circumstances for making a film, play or subject into a film more than once. If previous productions were artistically unsatisfactory, or if the director legitimately felt that his vision of the material was different and compelling, or if a compelling subject did not translate to a current audience in its previous cinematic forms, then a remake would be justified.
Take the Kenneth Branagh production of CONSPIRACY, for example. You mentioned some months back that it was a close remake of a German film from the early sixties. Not having seen the original, I cannot comment on it. However, it being a film in a foreign language, many audiences would have difficulty being absorbed into the story, a problem which is not often well-solved by subtitles or dubbing. In that circumstance, a skillful remake makes a compelling topic accessible to a larger audience.
This post is rather long, so I'll cut it short. While most sequels or remakes are indeed "whore's films," there are legitimate circumstances for remakes.

Just a thought,
Darryl

Dear Darryl:

The original version of "Conspiracy" is called "The Wannsee Conference" and it's from 1984. Although I enjoyed "Conspiracy" (both Branagh and Tucci are very good) it's much more powerful in German, and much more off-handed, too, which made it a lot creepier and undoubtedly more realistic. But yes, it's a reasonable reason for a remake, I suppose. Just like "Kongo" was a sound remake of the silent "West of Zanzibar," which is a fair reason for a remake. Generally, though, it's just not a good idea.

Josh

Name: Ken Trovato
E-mail: trov@hotmail.com

Dear Josh:

You have no soul....

Dear Ken:

Well, I'm not black, but I can keep a beat.

Josh

Name: Jean
E-mail:

Hi Josh,

It's been 3 months for me and every script I have read made my head hurt. If I have to read one more stupid, gross-out teen comedy I'm going to freak out! I think I may last about one more month and then I'm ditching this gig.

Is Ted Raimi interested in doing "Biological Clock"? How much do you think it would cost? It seems like you could make it with a relatively small budget. Detroit must be a hell of a lot cheaper then LA in terms of making a film. How do you plan on raising the money for your next film? I assume that you are done with paying for your films yourself.

Thanks,
Jean

Dear Jean:

Ted likes the script and would love to do it, if I could get the money. Presently, however, I have no plans for raising capital. My present concern is just getting me and my cats back to Michigan.

Josh

Name: Diana Hawkes
E-mail: sdhawkes@penn.com

Hi Josh!

Guess what! I made my first film, and it's all about YOU!
You heard me!
I hope you'll indulge me and watch it. You got 5 minutes?
I'm pleased to say I did indeed follow the 3 act structure.
(Each act takes ~30 seconds-a minute to load)
Click here to see it:

http://mm.dfilm.com/mm2s/mm_route.php?id=416144

If it still doesn't work, just copy and paste the URL.

How on earth will you manage 3 nervous cats in the car for hours across the country? Or are they going under the plane??? I'm worried! You know I wish all the best for you.

Dear Diana:

I'm very honored you made a film about me, although it looks more like Woody Allen than me. That poor girl was so cold she was blue and her neck wouldn't straighten out. Actually, I'm flying the cats so it won't be so bad. They'll just have one bad night. Thanks for your concern, and the film.

Josh

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

Hi Josh,

I read the script again and I think Ted Raimi would be perfect for Aaron. From his performance in "Lunatics" and the Xena eps that you directed I can tell that you two work well together. He's the right age and he's handsome but he's regular guy handsome. I think he would do great things with the material.

As for Kate I really like Bitty Schram. She is on the TV show "Monk" and she was in "A League of Their Own". I think she's really talented. Or you could go with someone like Parker Posey. Who would be great as Kate or Beth. More so for Beth. I really like Maura Tierney. She's on "ER" and she was on "NewsRadio" which she was hilarious in. I think you mentioned something about Penelope Ann Miller before. She would be great. What about Anita Barone? As for Beth I can totally see Parker Posey doing a fantastic job. I think she can do just about anything. I also like Jamie Gertz.

The thing that stood out the most for me when I read the script this time was the duality of Kate and Beth. Beth did everything "right". She got married young had kids etc. But then her husband turns out to be a jerk and she ends up traveling all the way from New Zealand to fuck an old boyfriend. And then we have Kate the "crazy" one. She's 35 not married, no kids and she has a crapy job. But at least she didn't settle. Her standards are just too high. She's the type of person who waits for perfect situations that never happen. Which is kind of fear based. Maybe she would have allowed herself to fall in love with Aaron and make a career as a writer if she didn't psych herself out so much. I would have liked to see her start to write at some point. It would bring a bit more change to her character and empower her more. Other then that it's a damn solid script. I'm doing free-lance script coverage right now and you would not believe the shit that I have to read. And then I have to write about it! It makes me want to blow my brains out! But it pays the bills. Anyway, I hope you get the cash to make it.

Later,
Jean

Dear Jean:

Thanks for the interesting suggestions. I guess I'll have to watch some these shows to see who these actors are. I was a script-reader for a few months, and I too was ready to blow my brains out after not very long. I probably read 50-60 scripts in that time and they all completely sucked. Suddenly, my life seemed like an utter misery. The sight of the stack of scripts on my desk sickened me. And after about eight weeks I decided that I would rather starve than read another shitty script and quit. Good luck to you.

Josh

Name: Ben Essner
E-mail: dalty_smilth@hotmail.com

Dear Josh:

I have a question. Now I realize that you are a film director and not a film composer, but you've probably met more film composers than I have (Seeing as how I've met none), and would therefore be better qualified to answer this question than anyone I know. Why is it that most of the time, the complete score to a film is never released commercially, except when it's, for instance, the twentieth anniversary of the release of a film (For instance, the Star Wars: Special Edition Soundtracks) if at all? Thank you and good luck with all your future endeavors!

Dear Ben:

Unless it's a really big movie or there's a hit song on the soundtrack, most movie scores don't sell very well. Joe LoDuca has done four terrific scores for my films, but no one will release them as soundtracks because the films didn't have very good releases.

Josh

Name: Brian C.
E-mail: Brian.Canada@state.tn.us

Josh,

I have just read your essay "Bailing out on LA." All I can say is Amen Brother Josh. I make films with Ghostship Films (fromerly Renegade Films) based in NASHVILLE TN. Los Angeles is the pit of despair (to steal from "The Princess Bride") and only the desperate (read ignorant) get in and the lucky escape. I am far happier here than I ever was in the people's republic of California. That, and we make the films we want to make now. B-grade horror in the tradition of Romero. We have mastered the micro budget film. But the best thing is - we have fun doing it. I congratulate you on your return to Michigan (Detroit...shudders). I am from East Lansing myself. There must be something in the water in lower penninsula that makes guys want to make films.

Anyhow..I did not have a question, per se. I just wanted to offer you a slap on the back and best wishes. I do envy you in one regard, though. Growing up in a circle of friends like Bruce and Sam and the Coens that have stuck to the dream - that is awesome. I hope you and Bruce get to shoot the western - I'd watch it (just no Brisco please!). We are screening our latest film "The Ghast" (Horror/Fangore/Action) on the 30th and are trying to finish the contract to finance "Hunters." (As a side note I emailed Bruce about reading the script once financed - he gave me the "ONLY WHEN FULLY FUNDED" schpiel but we are solid for around 450k - not bad for an indie Vampire flick.)

Take care, Josh. Look forward to hearing about the next project.

Brian

Dear Brian:

Thanks, good luck to you. $450,000 is a lot of money to a master of the micro-budget. I hope I have that much for my next film. And yes, LA is the pit of despair. Where all of these fearful, unfulfilled souls are running around humiliating each other. Phooey. Good riddance. Hey, don't they make records in Nashville, too?

Josh

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

Hey Josh,

First off, welcome home to the beautiful season of construction here in MI. I just wanted to write in to say how great BUBBA HO-TEP's premier (of sorts) went. Bruce was Elvis, I believed it. The crowd loved him and Ossie Davis teamed up as well. Could you recommend any of Davis' other work that you enjoyed? He played the part so convincingly I even thought he was JFK!! Just an all round fun picture- I hope it gets picked up soon. I also enjoyed Bruce's rant during the Q & A about how it is a B movie, but that doesn't necessarily mean bad movie. Just like A pictures do not always mean great movies. Then he tore apart Serving Sara.
A little while ago I read your article on how the term genius is thrown around all too easily. I never gave it much thought until Friday night, and you aren't kidding! Somebody in the back of the theatre told Bruce he should do a movie with director Kevin Smith. Bruce then asked him why and the guy replied "Cause he's a genius!" and many people in the audience agreed with that statement. But I couldn't understand what makes Smith a genius. Is it because he writes lengthy dialogue? Is it because he steals names, quotes, ideas from other movies or books he's liked? Somebody once said during my video store days, that he's got the balls to mock the Catholic religion. And...?? Does having balls to do something make you a better filmmaker than someone who's passionate about some other topic? I mean, sure Clerks was conventional, I did appreciate the concept of the day in the life of a store clerk. Many people can relate. I just don't think he's made an interesting film since then. Same with Robert Rodreguiz. I liked El Mariachi, the rest of his stuff I could care less about. It seems when filmmakers don't have money or a large crew, they have more creativity to tell a story, in my opinion. By the way, how much did Running Time cost you to make?
-Brian

Dear Brian:

Damn it, I haven't seen "Bubba" yet. Can you believe it, but Bruce doesn't have a video tape. The Ossie Davis film that immediately comes to my mind happens to be his debut, "No Way Out" (1950), which is also Sidney Poitier's first film, as well as Ossie Davis' wife, Ruby Dee's, too. It's a terrific film about racial hatred, with Richard Widmark giving one of his incredibly intense crazy-man performances. Anyway, obviously I not only don't think Kevin Smith is a genius, I don't even think he's a competent filmmaker. And "Dogma" is crapma, with a truly insipid script. "Running Time" cost $130,000.

Josh

Name: Jean
E-mail:

Hi Josh,

Wow! You laid down the law about the Hannibal Lecter movies. I was cracking up when I read that. No more LA for you huh? I've been out here for 7 years now and I'm seriously considering moving back to Maryland for awhile. But only after they catch the sniper. My parents have been running from their cars into the grocery store, bank etc. The little boy who got shot lives in my hometown and he goes to my Junior High School. Scary!

On another note, are you going to keep making movies? It may actually be easier for you to get something done in Detroit. Make "Biological Clock"! I caught "Big Night" on cable the other night and really enjoyed it. It was a simple and interesting story. And Tony Shalhoub was great as usual. Have you seen it?

Have a safe trip back to your homeland.

Jean

Dear Jean:

Oh, I'll keep making movies. I made my first two features in Detroit and it's a much friendlier place to shoot than LA. And yes, "The Biological Clock" is a logical choice to pursue. What do you think of Ted Raimi as Aaron? And who do you see in the other parts.

Josh

Name: Rosalva Villegas
E-mail: nasarv03@prodigy.net

Dear Mr. Becker,

My name is Rosalva Villegas and I am a senior in high school. I am doing a Senior Project on being a film director and I was wondering if maybe you could do me a BIG favor and be my mentor. I have been trying to get a hold of directors for the past three weeks but naturally they are extremely busy, and by the way have very rude secretaries. I compeletly understand if you too are very busy but I would really, really appreciate it if you at least tried to consider helping me out. No hard feeling if you can't. Thank you for your time.
Sincerely,
Rosalva Villegas

Dear Rosalva:

I'll be happy to answer any questions you may have, but I don't want to be your mentor, whatever that involves. Sadly, movies aren't an apprenticeship-type business anymore, like the trades of yore. I wish I had had a mentor, too.

Josh

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

Dear Josh,

lol..alright, man, it's your website...the Lecter movies are out of the discussion. Have you seen anything interesting lately? I was forced to watch HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERORS STONE recently, and rather enjoyed it, despite huge plot holes. It seems that the film was made for people who read the books; my friend Joe kept saying "in the book, they did this" whenever something went unexplained in the film. Problematic, but whimsical is the way I would describe it. Oh well, at least it gives Richard Harris a long-deserved payday.
The Lecter discussion brought up (obviously) the subject of Anthony Hopkins performances. What would you consider his best one to be?

Yours truly,
Darryl
P.S. I assume that you were offline because of your move. If so, which did you choose, LA or Detroit? Just curious.

D.

Dear Darryl:

I'm never moving back to LA, that's for sure. Therefore, yes, it's Detroit. I'm moving in a bit over a week. I'm renting the cheapest house in one of the nicest neighborhoods. I think Anthony Hopkins' two best performances on film are "Howards End" and "Remains of the Day." He's also very good in "A Lion in Winter," his first film. I watched a film called "Kongo" (1932) with Walter Huston as an insane man running a jungle empire in Africa. It's a remake of Todd Browning's "West Of Zanzibar." Very weird stuff, both films. What's particularly strange to me is that they're both MGM films. Before Universal was the main horror studio it was MGM and all of the Todd Browning/Lon Chaney pictures. That "Kongo" was an A-picture for MGM I find odd.

Josh


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