Q & A    Archive
Page 85

Name: Jonathan Schwartz
E-mail: UGHH_PRODUCTIONS@HOTMAIL.COM

Dear Josh:

Oh, and I almost forgot.....Is it possible to find a copy of Within The Woods anywhere?
I haven't had any luck.

Dear Jonathan:

I don't think there are any copies of it around. It was shown too much in super-8 and got chewed to pieces.

Josh

Name: Jonathan Schwartz
E-mail: UGHH_PRODUCTIONS@HOTMAIL.COM

Dear Mr. Becker,

Because of your experience on the Evil Dead shoot, do you have any advice for a film maker who has so much passion but no money as of yet? I respect your work and your opinion.

Thanks for your time,

Jonathan Schwartz

Ughh! Productions

Dear Jonathan:

Yeah, get the money. Passion alone doesn't mean shit in the film business. If you can't get the money, you can't make any movies. So get on it.

Josh

Name: Slick
E-mail: sickslick27@yahoo.com

Dear Josh:

I bought 'Stryker's War' (which I think is the better title) last week from Amazon.Com and watched it for the first time Friday night. I really, really enjoyed the movie. Joe LoDuca's score is amazing and I personally really enjoyed Sam's performance. The commentary track with you and Bruce is great as well. Lots of good tidbits of info on that one. (Especially about Scott's love of props! My only complaint is that I wish he'd been on the commentary track as well.) Okay, enough ass-kissing! Ha! Just wanted you to know how much I enjoyed it. Oh, just one question: Excuse my ignorance, but what does 'DGA' stand for? Thanks!

Dear Slick:

DGA stands for Director's Guild of America. I called Scott to be part of the commentary, but he didn't call me back. Scott was definitely a prop fanatic. He managed to slip oddball props into the background of all of our short films, like boxes of Quisp and Quake, and old Seven-Up bottles, and the like.

Josh

Name: Saul Trabal
E-mail: ghost_kingdom@yahoo.com

Hi Josh,

You write:

"On some level I do believe you have to make your own luck. If you wait to be lucky, or wait to have someone help you, you can end up waiting the rest of your life. I've never gotten a financing deal on a movie, but I've bullied my way through four films now. On the whole, I'd have to say I've never been a particularly lucky person. I was always the one getting caught, I was generally the one getting hurt, and I've never been in love. I'm not trying to intimate I've been particularly unlucky, either, but certainly not lucky. Nevertheless, I've been bullheaded enough and determined enough to get at least some of what I've wanted from life, and that's because I made my own luck."

Well, that's what I meant by the phrase "you make your own luck" being a half truth. Sure, you've bulled your way through things despite the obstacles that have come your way-and that is certainly the way to do it. Part of achieving anything in life is getting off your ass and doing shit-regardless of how you feel. You get up in the morning and motivate yourself to get things done. And I admire the fact that you don't let failure get in the way. You keep trying, and that is an admirable trait.

Unfortunately, there still have to be people to open doors. All the bull-headedness in the world doesn't mean squat if people aren't willing to assist you at key points along the way. The fact that some of these idiotic studios don't want to distribute some of your films is exactly what I'm talking about. So, while some people have helped you at key points, others have slammed the door in your face. You can control what you do, but you can't control how other people think.

Perhaps the phrase should be reworded as-"You make your own luck-to an extent."

In the end though-as long as one give it his/her all, and is pushing themselves 110%, at least some satisfaction can be taken in that. And you certainly seem to do that. In life, we have to take what we can get, in terms of satisfaction.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Saul

Dear Saul:

Certainly in filmmaking there are many other people you have to work with and depend on. I was lucky to have a partner on the last two films, my co-producer Jane Goe, but she didn't raise any money or put the deals together, she just helped get the films made, which I would have gotten made in any case. She made my life a lot easier, though. But there are so many people sitting around Hollywood waiting for the phone to ring it's pathetic. That's part of why I left, I couldn't sit there staring at the phone anymore.

Josh

Name: Diana Hawkes
E-mail: still secret

Dear Josh:

Hold the phone! I couldn't bear it if you got contentious with me! I take it back, I take it back!
LOL, seriously, I agree with you woleheartedly that Jim Carrey is set on annoying overdrive, particularly in efforts like "The Mask" and "Pet Detective". And there wasn't one second of "Liar, Liar" I liked, just wasn't funny at all.
But I won't hesitate to admit that those two characters, Lloyd and Harry, in "Dumb and Dumber" I found to be pee-in-my-pants funny. (Peter Farrelly directed, whose work I recall you don't like.)

So you enjoyed Herbert Lom as the ex-boss of Clouseau and the death ray gun the most out of the Pink Panther series, eh? Good call, but I just adored the first two as well. I loved too the 60's sexiness of David Niven, Robert Wagner, Capucine (wasn't she the first model to go by just one name?) and Claudia Cardindale. I so wanted to be "Princess Dala"! And Elke Sommer too. Sellers loved to surround himself with beauties, didn't he. Wasn't he weirdly obsessed with Sophia Loren and his wife left him over it or something?
If you really made me choose just one, I simply couldn't--everything Sellers did in those was gold in my eyes...I'm just remembering that stuff with his oriental houseboy Cato, OMG I'm laughing as I type this.

Oh and speaking of comedy, I meant to mention, don't know if you're aware-
That line you love so much that Kevin Smith used in[i] Soul Possession[/i]-"Owww, that'll leave a mark!" when Xena kicks Ares--that had to have been lifted from Chris Farley in "Tommy Boy." (I don't know if Kevin ad-libbed it, or it was in the script.)
Course, now you know I love that Smithy, but the quip wasn't original really.

Dear Diana:

It was Kevin Smith's improv and it made me laugh. I've stolen many lines myself, as have every comedian or comedy actor before or since. It's just part of the game. And you're correct, I don't like those Farrelly brothers. I guess I'm just becoming a bigger fuddy-duddy by the second. There's a little gag in "A Shot in the Dark" where Clouseau is inspecting Elke Sommers' room, and stops to look at a jar of cold cream. He takes off the cap and smells it, then looks up and he has a glob of cold cream on the end of his nose, then he plays the whole rest of the scene with it there. That's funny.

Josh

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

Josh,

I wanted to add the "Jeeves and Wooster" series starring Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry to the comedy discussion. They were made for TV, but Masterpiece Theater must surely rate an exemption.

I read through your poem several times. Obviously, the idea of religion as the opiate of the people has a glorious history. The notion that all of the various religions have different names for the same God is also an old one, though not as glorious. Christianity pretty well rejects the idea. Judaism, as usual, has a variety of positions. The Hellenist strains would probably agree, seeing everything in terms of "Forms". Hinduism is the real proponent of that idea. I read somewhere that Hindus have never met a God they didn't like. That may be overstating it, but their religion does seem more accomodating than most.

I've heard it argued that the universality of religion points towards a hard-wiring in favor of religious belief. If so, I wonder if it is not polytheism we tend towards. I'm a cradle Catholic and I'm convinced most Catholics worship Mary and the various saints. The distinction of intercession is just too fine for most. For myself, I have questions. Physics indicate that the universe is the expression, from nothing, of a set of quantum rules. It inspires speculation. Thanks as always,

John

Dear John:

I've never seen this TV show you speak of, nor do I care to. I grant no exemptions (not that you need one from me). As George Carlin said of religion, "Thou shalt not kill, unless someone believes in a different invisible than you, in which case it's okay."

Josh

Name: Kim
E-mail: mrsdagle@yahoo.com

Dear Josh,

I second the kudos for your Ballad of Jehosus, it sums up the situation pretty well.
As far as funny movies go, I have a weird sense of humor. The Gods Must Be Crazy is top of the List,
any Monty Python movie (minus Jabberwocky)
Sixteen Candles (don't shoot me for that one!)
Some Like it Hot
South Park Bigger, Longer and Uncut
Perhaps you should also have an "unintentionally" funny movie list and then I'd vote for The Bad Seed.
Sincerely,
Kim

Dear Kim:

I enjoyed "The Gods Must be Crazy," but I don't think it holds up very well. I really don't care about the white guy and girl, only the bushman. I love the last location, it really does look like the edge of the world. And though it wouldn't be on my fav list, I think "Sixteren Candles" is a pretty good film, and by far the best thing John Hughes ever did. I think you're being unnecessarily cruel to "The Bad Seed," which has a ridiculous ending, but a number of legitimately scary moments. All of Henry Jones' scenes are great, like when he's telling the girl about electric chairs, and says, "The have little pink ones for the girls, and little blue ones for the boys." I must admit that that film scared the hell out of me as a kid. Sadly, though, bad movies don't make me laugh, they make me want to scream.

Josh

Name: Scott
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

I just saw an interesting film last night that you might enjoy. It's called Ararat, and is about the Armenian genocide of 1915. This film deals with a subject that very few people know about. It's not just about the fact that the Turks killed 2 million Armenians, It's about how the Turkish government still denies it to this day. the central theme of the film is denial, and deals with it on more than one level. The one problem I had with the film was the story structure wasn't as tight as it could have been, and there were a lot of primary characters to follow. Other than those two elements, the writer/director knows his theme very well, and never deviates from it. It was a sincere story about an atrocity that very few people are aware of. That is what makes this film important. Check it out if you have the time.

Dear Scott:

Now that I live in a place with numerous movie theaters around, perhaps I will. Thanks for the recommendation. BTW, I just saw "Amelie" or, more correctly, "Amelie of Montmartre," which was recommnded to me by one and all. Well, as far as shallow, meaningless little movies go it was pretty good, the actress playing Amelie is certainly a terrific example of the cute, pouty French female, and it's got pretty photography, but it's certainly not a very good movie. I could care less whether she fell in love or not. And it seemed awfully vengeful for no particularly good reason. Had it come out twenty years ago it would have been branded "pretentious," but that's just called "visual" now.

Josh

Name: Kimberly Nedopak
E-mail: KimberlyNedopak@aol.com

Hi Josh.

I was wondering if you had heard anymore if "Water" is going to be filmed by Deepa Metha. It is amazing the censorship laws, in India. I was horribly suprised about how Indian Fundamentalist, got away with burning down her sets and throwing them in a rivers. Yikes! And on top of that threw her out of the country.
I know America has its problems, but got bless it.

Dear Kimberly:

I don't know a thing about it. Fundamentalists of all kinds are evil.

Josh

Name: Saul Trabal
E-mail: ghost_kingdom@yahoo.com

Hi Josh,

Quick question-have you heard how Jeremy Roberts is doing? There hasn't been any updates on his site for quite a while. I hope he is recovering well from his heart surgery. My dad underwent that back in 1997, and I've seen how tough recovery can be.

I got RUNNING TIME, and have watched it about 3 or 4 times. I think it's great! It's a well-written, tight little story. I like how you handled the "continuous shot." I've managed to see where the cuts are after watching it several times.

I like your directing style. B&W film is a great medium to use, and it's too bad I don't see it more often. When I was at the School of Visual Arts in New York years ago, I had a class in comic book illustration, and the teacher told me that it's important to watch black and white films so you can get a good sense on how positive and negative space are used.

My favorite B&W film is Orson Welles' OTHELLO. I just loved the way he used it to tell Shakespeare's story. I liked it even more than CITIZEN KANE, to be frank.

BTW-were you able to make a profit or at least break even with RUNNING TIME? I think it's a great film, and more people should see it. I absolutely agree with everything you say about all the bullshit in Hollywood.

Many of your stories about the business only reinforce my belief that the phrase "You make your own luck" is a crock of horseshit. It's a half-truth, and half-truths IMO can be worse than lies. Yes, you've got to motivate yourself and work your ass off. But NO ONE gets ahead in this life on their own. There's always got to be someone who gives you a break or gives you a helping hand.

All the talent and perseverance in the world doesn't mean a damn thing if people aren't willing to take a chance on you. I think that people who believe in that phrase "you make your own luck" have to be incredibly naive, and have not had enough adversity in their lives.

Still you keep at it. And I'm glad to see that you still keep trying.

I'll try and get another film of yours when I have the chance. I'm looking at purchasing or renting LUNATICS next.

Take care.

Saul

Dear Saul:

I haven't heard anything from or about Jeremy in a long time. I also hope he's doing well. On some level I do believe you have to make your own luck. If you wait to be lucky, or wait to have someone help you, you can end up waiting the rest of your life. I've never gotten a financing deal on a movie, but I've bullied my way through four films now. On the whole, I'd have to say I've never been a particularly lucky person. I was always the one getting caught, I was generally the one getting hurt, and I've never been in love. I'm not trying to intimate I've been particularly unlucky, either, but certainly not lucky. Nevertheless, I've been bullheaded enough and determined enough to get at least some of what I've wanted from life, and that's because I made my own luck.

Josh

Name: Kent McLeod
E-mail: hroptr@hotmail.com

Dear Josh:

I would just like to say that I Really enjoyed your Ballad Of Jehosus,our mutual friend Renee Cooper showed it to me and it made me laugh and think.In fact I had her send me a copy so that I could share it with my boyfriend.Thank you once again.Sincerely K.Mcleod

Dear Kent:

Thank you. You're the very first person to respond to it. It actually took me about two months to write it. I tried out all of my various versions to Bruce Campbell's wife, Ida, on our morning walks in Oregon, and I thank her for putting up with it and encouraging me. I'd love to know what the rest of you folks visiting the site think of it.

Josh

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

Josh,

A little comment about "Mississippi Burning" and "Dances With Wolves"; I won't defend those movies, but I do think it can be legitimate to look at "minority" or "oppressed" peoples through the lens of the oppressors. "A Man Called Horse" used this device quite well, as did "Last of the Mohicans". Both "The Jewel in the Crown" and the similar movie with Alec Guiness, the name of which escapes me for some reason, also succeeded using "civilized" persons to illustrate the humanity of the oppressed culture. The important thing about those movies was the use of characters, as opposed to "Wolves" which used caricatures.

As for funny movies, it probably makes me a low-brow but I laughed so hard I ruptured a hernia the first time I watched "Zorro, The Gay Blade". I still watch that movie once or twice a year and it always gets to me. Brenda Vaccarro is killer and Ron Liebman steals the show as the Alcalde. It's also a very quotable movie, so the jokes stick. Well, that's my two cents (adjusting for inflation, naturally).

John

Dear John:

I've never heard anyone say anything nice about that film, which I've never seen. Next time it pops up I'll have to check it out.

Josh

Name: Diana Hawkes
E-mail: top secret

Dear Josh:

Let's see...
Funniest movie candidates...
I submit:

"The Producers" -- I was quite pleased with myself as a 13 yr. old kid catching this on t.v. and finding it so belly-aching hilarious when all my friends were into, like, Splash and Sister Act or something lame.

"Vacation" -- The first one obviously. Hmmm, actually, the Christmas one I enjoyed all the way through too-it got back on board with poking good fun at americana "family time", come hell or high water as seen in Clark Griswald. My father IS Clark Griswald, essentially.

"So I Married an Axe Murder" -- Definately funnier than any of his Austin Powers flicks. The fear of commitment in a fella turns ironic.

"Dumb and Dumber" -- Come on! Watching those 2 clowns, with THAT brand of dumb was genuinely funny. Jim Carrey just really went for broke with his "dumb" bit, and he was fresh on the scene kinda-sorta, and well, I found his comedy refreshing at the time. Who else was around? Eddie Murphy was getting pretty stale by that point.

"A Shot in the Dark" -- and the next one, the first titled Pink Panther film: "The Pink Panther".
Peter Sellers!!! There's just been no one like him, has there? <Well, O.K. I did LOVE Ted Raimi's take on Inspector Clouseau in "The Xena Scrolls"!>

"Caddyshack", "Airplane", and the 1st "Naked Gun" --I lump them all together, pretty funny, but I would only keep it on while I was cooking or bored at this point.

How about Danny Kaye, in "The Court Jester"?
It occurs to me I've never seen all the way through any of the Marx Bro's films: like Duck Soup, Horse Feathers, Monkey Business, Animal Crackers, A Night at the Opera, A Day at the Races... But they always get such glowing buzz when it comes to discussing classic comedy, I dunno.

I'll probably think of a dozen more once I hit "send" here.

Dear Diana:

This could get contentious, but I can't stand Jim Carrey, and really don't find him funny at all. He plays everything up at the top, and he thinks he's so damn funny I just find him annoying. Back in the days of actual film criticism, Pauline Kael kind of nailed "The Producers," in that it's quite funny as long as the audience watching the show thinks it's not funny. However, the second they start laughing, it's not funny anymore. Strange, that. Those first two "Vacation" movies had some good laughs, but not all that many, as far as I'm concerned. I liked the Marx Bros. when I was a kid, but I can't watch any of their films anymore. They seem SO dated it's painful, and Chico and Harpo simply aren't very funny. I'd much rather see them play the harp and the piano. I think Groucho was infinitely funnier coming up with his own lines on "You Bet Your Life." As a little note, the order of the "Pink Panther" movies (with Peter Sellers) is: "The Pink Panther" (64), "A Shot in the Dark" (64), The Return of the Pink Panther" (75), "The Pink Panther Strikes Again" (76), and "The Trail of the Pink Panther" (82). Here's a wonderfully funny film that no one has mentioned yet, "Dr. Strangelove."

Josh

Name: Jeremy Bridges
E-mail: RecurveTD2@AOL.COM

Greetings,

I just got my hands on a copy of TSNK-E, and it rocks! I was wondering if it would be possible to have Mr. Becker autograph my copy? I would , of course, send in my copy for signing, and would be only all to happy to pay for any shipping charges.

Thanks in Advance,

Jeremy Bridges
Baton Rouge, LA

Dear Jeremy:

It would be my pleasure. Keep the disk or the tape and just send the cover.
[mail it and a self-addressed stamped envelope along to: Shirley Robbins LeVasseur; c/o P.O. Box 86; East Vassalboro, ME 04935; and I will forward it directly to Josh. -webmaster]

Josh

Name: Will Armstrong
E-mail: andykaufman2@hotmail.com

Hey Josh,

I think "The Party" is the funniest film I've ever seen. I've never heard you comment on the works of Peter Sellers and Blake Edwards. Since Peter Sellers is my favourite actor I was just wondering what you thought of him.
"Birdy Num Nums"

Cheers,
Will

Dear Will:

It made me laugh a lot. It goes on too long, I think, being a one-joke film, but it knows its one joke extremely well. I also quite like "The Pink Panther Strikes Again," which seemed like the funniest film of that series.

Josh

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

Dear Josh,

Funniest movie ever? Wow, quite a task to decide. Like you, some things seem hilarious to me at the time, but don't hold up with repeated viewing. I was majorly into the Marx Brothers, for example, for years, especially their Paramount films, and used to think "Duck Soup" was about the funniest thing I'd ever seen. I still like it a lot, but it would not be at the top. "Annie Hall" would be right up there too, and "Young Frankenstein," but they appealed to me more at 15 or 20 than now.

One of the few from that era that still does it for me would have to be "Monty Python and the Holy Grail," which I realize is really just TV sketches filmed on location with better costumes and camera work and so forth, but it never fails to crack me up.

"Bringing Up Baby" and "His Girl Friday" might have to be tied for the funniest, though, along with the funny moments of a bitersweet Branagh/Thompson film called "Peter's Friends." (Ever seen it?)

And I do confess the guilty pleasure of stuff like "Beavis and Butthead Do America" and "Wayne's World," just silly TV stuff that is still funny on the big screen.

Regards,

August

Dear August:

I would also have to add "Monty Python's the Meaning of Life." And Preston Sturges' films "Christmas in July," Unfaithfully Yours," and "The Lady Eve." And Buster Keaton's "Our Hospitality" and "The General." And Harold Lloyd's "Doctor Jack."

Josh

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

Josh,

My second post makes no confusion between Max and Terry. I was mostly asking if you had considered using Terry in Max's place, and why you decided to use what seems to me an extra character, fat.

So you intended for Max to be the truer folkie, but I don't think you communicated it well through the finished film. He's only in a couple of scenes, and I got the impression that he just didn't get enough screen time to explain his fakeness in regard to folk music as a front to get close to Loraine. You probably could have communicated his trueness quickly and concisely by interjecting a simple line when he's unloading the chairs, like, "I missed the Purple Onion last night because I went to Folkie Club X, where I had an actual chance with a girl. But that's all the way in the next county." Followed by a telling glance from Max and an awkward pause, then end the scene.

The jagged cut I was referring to was after the text that explains the record viewership for the Beatles performance. The video and audio change very abruptly in one frame. The audio goes from the Beatles song to relative quiet, and the video goes from a still with text to daytime motion. It's too jagged, and it makes everything afterwards feel like an epilogue. My only suggestion would have been to maybe fade out the audio and do anything but what you did with the video cut.

What's with these high school kids, and what's with them being rich? It looked like they had just come from a prom or some other formal event. Maybe there was some expensive jewelry or keychains to Porshes that I overlooked. Even though they are rich Loraine's old friends, you could have had one of them comment about having several tv's or something. I've made three reasonable (but apparently inaccurate) takes on the "rat pack's" purpose, and I still don't know what your intentions were with these particular characters.

Justin

Dear Justin:

I appreciate your having issues with the film, but it's not my place to defend it. If things didn't work for you, then they didn't work. My explanations don't matter. Perhaps someone else that's seen the film would like to answer you (and may be not).

Josh

Name: david dalton
E-mail: afreshbreeze@aol.com

Dear Josh:

Only 1 film have I seen more than 3 times... in the theater... MY BIG FAT GREEK WEDDING. I told scores of people... I mean over 20... many of which told me they told their friends... and what is amazing about this film... is it is so funny you HAVE to GO with your friends to watch to see their reaction!

I remember only 2 months ago, I took my daughter... the theater was full... laughing NEVER stopped from the onset to the end! I have never personally sat in a theater and heard laughter that loud, that long, with spontaneous hand clapping.

Excuse me if I sound too excited here...:-). Then I heard Tom Hanks produced it... is the mans hands made of gold or what!

This was the best romantic comedy I have seen in ages... War of the Roses was pretty too.

I hope the film stays in the theaters... as long as Jurassic Park... I hope it grosses over 300 million. And more than ANYTHING I hope it launches a WONDERFUL actress into the limelight... she deserves it!

David Dalton
Knoxville, TN

Dear David:

It sounds like you haven't seen very many movies. I liked the film and thought it was funny, but it's not THAT funny. It doesn't even come close to being the funniest movie I've ever seen. Quite frankly, I thought Woody Allen's "Love & Death" was much funnier, as was "Sleeper" and "Annie Hall." I laughed longer and louder at "Airplane!" and "Kentucky Fried Movie." I'll also take "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World" any day of the week. Which isn't to take anything away from "Greek Wedding," which is certainly the funniest movie of 2002, but that's not saying much. What are some other people's choices for the funniest movie they've ever seen?

Josh

Name: Matthew Krist
E-mail: kingpopper@aol.com

Dear Josh:

I don't really have any questions, I just wanted to say I really enjoyed Running Time, and your the most underated guy in the Evil Dead crew. You rock man! Keep up the good work. PS: Send me an autograph.

Dear Matthew:

Well thanks. I'll see what I can do about the autograph.

Josh

Name: Princess La La
E-mail: gabbiehoff@hotmail.com

Hi,

I just wanted to make a comment about the film "Election".
I agree with you about there being a lot of plain old poor taste, but not necessarily on the lack of irony.
I think the 'third act' of the film was quite appropriate in the end, because it IS ironic. Tracy is repugnant, and we have to reluctantly feel the same thing Mr M. does when he sees her in the car, despite also seeing that Mr M. is pathetic and hypocritical. Everything that comes out of his mouth during the film is bullshit, including his crapping on about being happy at the end of it (exposed by his impotent coffee-throwing reaction), but he has loveable, well-meaning narrator status to make us sympathise with him and believe him. The disintegration in act three includes the disintegration of our faith in him as a narrator, but the highlighting of this only emphasises the irony of the fact that he's still as charming and sympathetic as ever, and Flick is still unappealing.
Act 3 is where the irony really comes out, because by this time it is conscious, and the viewer has to admit it - there is no room for contrary argument because we've seen the proof already in Act 2. Hence, Act 1 is optimistic, Act 2 breaks that down and in Act 3 we see Act 3 again in a way, but without the blinkers that Act 2 has stripped us of.
Anyway, that's how it seemed to me...coming from someone who hated the film first time round, but guess it's grown on me as a post-modern joke or something.
Love to hear your thoughts on this.

Dear Princess La La:

I already stated my opinion in my review. I still think that act three is a complete dramatic mistake, and the stated theme is never realized or followed through on. I feel that the film falls flat on its face at the end of act two, really from the moment he crumples up the ballot and throws it away, which is too stupid and obvious of a plot set-up.

Josh

Name: Jean
E-mail:

Hi Josh,

I watched "Mississippi Burning" last night for the first time ever and was just plain offended. I always thought the civil rights movement was about people of color struggling for freedom but according to Hollywood it was about 2 white FBI agents! What is with this very disturbing trend in movies? Apparently minorities can't do anything unless some white guy steps in and helps them out. And Hollywood is supposed to be filled with all of these caring, liberal, humanitarians. Bullshit! Films like "Dances With Wolves" are pretty fucking racist in my opinion. People who are not white are savages until a white person befriends them and then all of the sudden they're real human beings. The focus is always on the white person and the audience is supposed be so moved by this story of oppressed people rising above the occasion. It makes my head hurt.

Jean

Dear Jean:

Yeah, I couldn't stand that movie, either. I don't like anything by Alan Parker, whom I think is a hack. The film that really annoyed me on that score was "Geronimo: An American Legend," starring (in this order): Jason Patric, Robert Duvall, Gene Hackman, and Wes Studi as Geronimo. Geronimo is barely a supporting character in his own story because we have to spend all of our time with an utterly superfluous white soldier who has nothing to do with anything. What tortured me the worst about "Dances With Wolves" is the Indians coincidentally having an attractive white woman of just the right age of Costner so he wouldn't have to be messing around with any Indian girls. Further, no one ever mentioned that "Dances" is almost a straight remake of "Broken Arrow" (1950) with Jimmy Stewart, who in fact does fall in love with an Indian girl (admittedly played by Debra Paget, but still meant to be an Indian).

Josh

Name: Tanya
E-mail: tanya852@mail.ru

Dear Josh,

I have the request about Kevin Smith. I read your words and words of other actors about him. Many people told some stories. You spoke touching, but general words, and what you could TELL.

Thank You,
Tanya.

Dear Tanya:

I can't really tell all that much because I didn't know Kevin very well. He's as nice of an actor as I've ever worked with, and just a plain-old nice guy. Bruce Campbell knew Kevin much better than I, having worked with him on quite a few Hercules episodes. Kevin Smith, Kevin Sorbo, and Bruce all used to go golfing together. Kevin Smith and I only did the one episode of Xena together, and he wasn't even there for the entire shoot.

Josh

Name: Slick
E-mail: sickslick27@yahoo.com

Dear Josh:

Is Scott Spiegel in the movie 'Thou Shalt Not Kill...Except'? He's listed on www.imdb.com as playing a character named Pin Cushion. Thanks!

Dear Slick:

Scott's character Pin Cushion is the cultist that Tim Quill fights in the work shed that gets punched back against the wall and gets all of the tools stuck in his back, thus his name.

Josh

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

Dear Josh,

Hoping you and your cats are all settled down back in Detroit now. I have a variety of random questions -

Was Oregon just too far out in the middle of nowhere for you? Or do you have some possible projects lined up in Detroit?

How's the Roman script coming along? Any tidbits you care to share?

For those of us too slack to order "Hammer" yet, are you just doing credit card orders now? Or is there somewhere to send a check?

If an independent theatre/art house wanted to show "Hammer," and pay you whatever traditional fees there are - would you be interested?

Any news on that guy who claimed he wrote all of Joe LoDuca's music? (right after he probably claimed to have written all of Shakespeare's plays.)

Thanks,

August

Dear August:

Good to hear from you. For the time being it's just credit cards for "Hammer." In the course of less than fifty checks, I had two bounce. The heck with that. Borrow someone's credit card. Right now I'm trying to get "Hammer" showing in some theaters. We'll see what happens. Oregon was beautiful, but ultimately too remote for my liking. No, I don't have any projects lined up. My Roman story stalled out in the middle. I'm supposed to be hearing from Joe tomorrow, I'll ask him about it, however, as Rob Tapert said, "If you're not suing someone, or being sued by someone, you're not really in the film business."

Josh

Name: Jim K
E-mail: iamjimkenney@hotmail.com

Dear Josh:

I think all of what you say is intelligent, and much of what you say I agree with. But is your hostility an act? I can't quite get a handle on it, you really seem pissed off in ways that won't do you any good and don't quite pass for edifying criticism, either...

"Yeah, fuck Eminem, fuck rap, fuck hip-hop, and fuck "8 Mile." I have no doubt it's a complete piece of shit."

If that's your review, you're full of shit. You've made 2 good films, sir, and so has Curtis Hanson: LA Confidential and Wonder Boys. I thought "Bad Influence" was pretty good too, and his script for "White Dog" (The Sam Fuller flick) was no joke, either...and I have no interest in seeing "8 Mile," either, as I have no interest in Eminem. But to say you know it's shit without seeing it is just obnoxious and stupid...I'm sure it's what you're facing with "Hammer" -- people assume it's a piece of shit cuz no one famous is in it and you're a TV director (in their eyes) -- While "8 Mile" is a hit and doesn't need my defense, to assume Curtis Hanson saw nothing socially significant or interesting in the story that COULD be told in that film (Again, I have no idea whether he tells it well or not) is just as repugnant as the attitudes of all the people you decry repeatedly on this site. You are a talented filmmaker, a very talented filmmaker, but so is Curtis Hanson. If you don't agree, fine, but reviewing it without seeing it is pretty much what everybody has done with your whole body of work, right? I mean, "Thou Shalt Not Kill"??? Look at the title and plot, and a lot of people would say that's "Exploitation shit" -- and they'd be wrong. I dig your love of tradition, and agree most new filmmakers need an education, but when you start bitching about stuff you haven't seen made by a filmmaker who has enough ambitious credits on his resume (even if they're not all fully realized), I think your venting without thinking, and it's a shame.

Dear Jim K:

I think your response to my little tirade is perfectly reasonable. Of course, I wasn't reviewing "8 Mile," which I haven't seen, I was expressing my disinterest in going to see it. And I didn't say "fuck Curtis Hanson," whom I do have some respect for. I just so deeply don't care about rap and hip-hop that I couldn't find words sufficient to express lack of interest. I disagree about "Wonder Boys," which I thought was stupid and dull, but I liked two-thirds of "LA Confidential" and about half of "The River Wild." I also didn't care for "White Dog," which also seemed pretty dull. I'm sure it makes me sound like a fuddy-duddy not liking hip-hop, but I don't care. I don't have to appreciate everything that comes down the tubes.

Josh

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

Dear Josh,

Thanks for mentioning "Hud." It's one of my favorite films of all time. I'm a sucker for black and white Panavision--but James Wong Howe's cinematography takes the cake. Newman's screen presence, Patricia Neal's amazing performance--well, everything about it is excellent. I remember, the first time I watched the film, there was this really great opening shot. Most films have this, then they recede into 'regular' camera work. But following the first shot, there was a great second shot, and third, and so on, until I realized that the whole movie was going to look that good! I almost died. I watched every single frame with rapt attention, waiting for something 'ugly' or 'boring,' and it never happened. I was completely entranced for the entire film. And, honestly, that hasn't happened since with any other film. I use "Hud" as my ideal in cinematography, and go nuts when I meet "film geeks" who haven't seen it. In fact, a friend of mine recently told me that she "doesn't watch black and white movies" because "they look old." Help! I fear for how many people feel this way, and are missing out on wonderful, wonderful art.

Cindy

Dear Cindy:

Apparently, when the great James Wong Howe first arrived in Texas while scouting locations, was supposed to have said something like, this place is so ugly and bright it can't be photographed. Of course, he got the Oscar that year for black and white cinematography. Patricia Neal's part in the book is a black woman, BTW, which changes the dynamics somewhat. Other gorgeous black and white movies are: "Citizen Kane" (Gregg Toland), "The Magnificent Ambersons" (Stanley Cortez), "The Bad and the Beautiful" (Robert Surtees, who also shot Larry McMurtry's "The Last Picture Show," which looks terrific), and "Raging Bull" (Michael Chapman).

Josh

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

Josh,

I've got to agree with you about Max and Terry. Their commonalities are their attraction to Lorraine and the fact that they are both sympathetic characters. But even the nature of their attraction to Lorraine differs significantly. For me, Max represents the high tide of the Folk movement and so represents, within the setting of the film, the Present. Terry is the future; not only because he likes rock and roll, but also his study of computers, his forward vision and his principled, yet pragmatic opportunism.

It's been a while since I've watched the movie. I'm pleased to say it rests well in my memory.

John

Dear John:

That's great. As I said, I think my biggest mistake with the two characters was dressing them both in black. As people, the two actors couldn't be more different. Terry has a huge, theatrical voice, and Max is rather effeminate. To confuse the two is to really just not be paying much attention, I think.

Josh

Name: Caitlin
E-mail: aikaterine14@aol.com

Hi there Mr. Becker!

I'm an Evil Dead fan and I just wanted to say that your Evil Dead journal is super cool. I really enjoyed reading it.

-Caitlin

Dear Caitlin:

Thanks. I think I come off as a snotty little prick, which I think I was at that age, so it's a true depiction. I was just asked to come in and read my journal before a screening of ED and I declined, it's too embarrassing. Just keeping it up on the website takes a certain amount of teeth-gritting for me.

Josh

Name: Nate
E-mail: vlad1377@aol.com

Mr. Becker,

I noticed that you have many of Mel Brooks "classic" movies on your favorite movies list, but there is no Young Frankenstein. Did you not like that or did you just overlook it???
Nate

Dear Nate:

Many? I have two: "The Producers" and "Blazing Saddles." I think "Young Frankenstein" is okay, but I don't think it's great. I think Mel had already begun his big slide into mediocrity at that point.

Josh

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

Dear Josh,

lol...must've struck a nerve there with the rap stuff, Josh....say what you will, I am an Eminem fan, although I consider the other 99.9999999% of rap music to be utter shit.
Here's a question that I've been meaning to ask you for awhile: do you find movies less enjoyable now that you are a filmaker? By that, I mean do you have difficulty suspending your disbelief and not focusing on the technique of the film? The reason that I ask this is that it comes across in your reviews and critiques, this seeing everything from the director's perspective. I have a similar problem with military films; I tend to nitpick on the details. Am I far off the mark here?

Yours truly,
Darryl

Dear Darryl:

I see things from my POV, whatever that is. And a big part of my perspective is literary. I do not forgive bad, thoughtless writing because there's a good cast or pretty photography. I don't think this has a thing to do with being a director, it's much more about being a writer. For example, I just saw "The Royal Tennenbaums," which a good friend recommneded. I think it was complete shit because the script was so awful. It certainly has a good cast, and Wes Anderson has some idea how to compose a shot, but he and Luke Wilson (or was it Owen?) can't write a script to save their lives. They stole a big hunk of J. D. Salinger's stories, then took that and noodled it into nothing. My big problem is that I know where they're stealing from, I know what they're ruining, and I don't forgive them. And having a really terrific cast with a crappy script just makes it worse for me because it's a bigger waste. So, I'd say being a writer affects my perspective more than being a director.

Josh

Name: Shiela Sutton
E-mail: wwwSting 847@aol.com

Dear Josh:

I have looked everywhere for three of Sandra Dee's movies,That funny feeling ,and I'd rather be rich, If a man answers.I would like to know if they will be on TMC,or AMC anytime soon. Or if they are for sale anywhere. She is my favorite actress,and I love her movies.That's all I want for Christmas.

Dear Sheila:

How would I know what's coming up on TV? Who do you think you're writing to, Nostradamus? Contact the TV channels.

Josh

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

Josh,

Before posting again, I wanted to rewatch Hammer in its entirety. Having done that, I'm ready to give some more feedback.

So Max and Terry are two different characters, but what's the point? They both look and sound very similar, and Max just comes off as Terry-lite, for the daytime. Why not just eliminate Max, whose only real purpose is being one more guy after Lorraine. Max is filler. Instead of using a couple scenes to exhibit a seemingly meaningless shadow of a character, why not use that time to further develop the Terry character, and his relationship with Lorriane, instead of just having him in the club and at the very end. Involving him in the whole story would have made it even more significant when she doesn't even take the time to tell him goodbye.

Those high schoolers are such an uninteresting eye/ear sore that I think the film would be better off without them. Since I was apparently off before, I'm thinking that they provide another example of the suckiness that tv produces, which would explain why they are so annoying. Besides that, they serve as one more group of posers in the club, but that's just like having one more guy (Max) trying to get in Loraine's pants. It just seems unnecessary; trim the fat.

When the club owner walks to the right to erase the blackboard for the last time, he looks like he's going the wrong way. Loraine and the others at the table look left. He makes up for warping through space by delivering one of my favorite lines, "think of all the good you could do for me." That really cracked me up.

Another thing that bothered me was the incredibly jagged cut after the text for the Beatles performance. It makes everything after it feel like an epilogue. The rest of your text after the opening credits had a much smoother look. What happened?

Watching Hammer again, I saw a few more things that could have been fine tuned, but its still a great film.

Justin

Dear Justin:

Terry and Max are completely different characters as far as I'm concerned. Max is a real, honest-to-God folkie that understands why he's committed and to what. Terry doesn't even like folk music and makes no bones about it. He's part of the upcoming time, intelligence in regard to nothing, other than conspiracy theories. They don't look alike, sound alike, or stand for the same things. I'm sorry I dressed them both in black, but the confusion beyond that is your own. I don't know what you mean by "jagged cut." The rich kids stand for more than the suckiness of TV. And there's no trimming the fat now, the movie is done, and has been done for nearly two years.

Josh

Name: Jean
E-mail:

Hi Josh,

No I have not seen "Hud" and Netflix does not offer it. Netflix is starting to piss me off. I looked for 5 different films today and they did not have them. And I wasn't looking for anything obscure.

Have you seen "Hedwig and the Angry Inch"? Very interesting stuff in my opinion. The first time I watched it I was not sure how I felt about it. So I watched it again and really got into it. I own the DVD now and have watched it several times. The music is great and John Cameron Mitchell who plays Hedwig is fantastic. He also wrote and directed the film. And to top it all off the music is great.

Thanks,
Jean

Dear Jean:

You really need to see "Hud," it's really great, and Paul Newman is at his very best. I love to book, too, "Horseman, Pass By," Larry McMurtry's first book, which he wrote when he was about nineteen. I put "Hedwig" on my Netflix list. I too am getting pissed off with them since they haven't had about 20 titles I've gone there for. I wrote them a letter saying if they want to keep a movie geek like me satisfied they better get a lot more films.

Josh

Name: Nate
E-mail: vlad1377@aol.com

Mr. Becker,

I excluded Planet of the Apes because I feel that it has a completely different feel than Tim Burton's other movies. That, and it I don't think it is very good at all.
Nate

Dear Nate:

I think it has a very similar feel to most of his movies, it's crap. He's just one more thoughtless knucklehead making overly-expensive lousy remakes that bring our whole society down.

Josh

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

Dear Josh,

Getting back to movie subjects, have you had any problems recently with Netflix screwing up your mailing address? The last three movies that I requested never showed up, so I went on their website and checked it out. I found that they had me down for the wrong street. Apparently, their system periodically checks all addresses in its files against the U.S. Postal Service database, and the post office apparently doesn't recognize my street (except to deliver bills). Just a warning to everyone to check their accounts with Netflix every so often.
On another topic, have you seen the new film 8-MILE yet? I have to say that I want to see it. I'm normally not a fan of rap, but Eminen's music seems to have a sincerity of expression that other artists (their videos littered with women, cars,and the club lifestyle) in that genre lack. Open expression of real emotion is something desperately lacking in today's art, regardless of the medium. Any thoughts on this?

Yours truly,
Darryl

Dear Darryl:

Yeah, fuck Eminem, fuck rap, fuck hip-hop, and fuck "8 Mile." I have no doubt it's a complete piece of shit.

Josh

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

Josh,

I just saw "The Ring" and noticed that there were absolutely no credits. The writer and director are moderately famous. I'm not sure about Verbinski; I know he did "Mouse Hunt" and "The Mexican. I really liked "Arlington Road," written by Kruger. In any case, who decides whether a film will have opening credits, why would they, doesn't the SAG/DGA have requirements, and finally, would you consider it for any reason?

Thanks.

Ben

Dear Ben:

There are all kinds of rules about the credits. I don't know how you get away with none. The 70mm prints of "Apocalypse Now" didn't have credits, and you got a program with all of them when you entered the theater. Not only would I never consider not having credits, I'd never put them all at the end, which the hip thing to do these days, because when I watch a movie I want to know who did what.

Josh

Name: Jean
E-mail:

Hi Josh,

OK, maybe "enjoyed" was not the right word to use when talking about "Once Were Warriors". It WAS a very powerful film. Some of the violence was actually hard to watch. It all felt very real. Films like this always remind me of how violence is glorified in so many movies. I loath action movies and not just because they are almost always completely devoid of any intelligence. It's the way that violence is turned into something that's cool. It makes me sick to my stomach. Maybe it's because I'm a girl?

On another note I watched "The Hustler" last night. There is something about how that film was shot that always impresses me. I think that the black and white photography in "The Hustler" is just beautiful. The shots are composed so well. Plus for me it doesn't get much better then Paul Newman in a white t-shirt. Wow! There are no actors these days that have the screen presence of Paul Newman. It's not just his looks, it's the whole package. Brad Pitt?, Matt Damon?, Tom Cruise? Give me a break! None of those guys are or ever will be Paul Newman.

Later,
Jean

Dear Jean:

I agree, Newman is so far ahead of the kids these days of a similar age to him at that time it's incalculable. The cinematography on "The Hustler" was by the great German DP, Eugen Schufftan, who won an Oscar for it. Schufftan invented an in-camera matting process in the 1920s called the Schufftan Process, which was used very successfully in Fritz Lang's "Metropolis" and Hitchcock's "Blackmail." Have you seen "Hud"?

Josh

Name: Nate
E-mail: vlad1377@aol.com

Mr. Becker,
I was just wondering what your feelings on Tim Burton are, excluding his most recent work, Planet of the Apes. Thank you.

Nate

Dear Nate:

Why exclude that? I like "Pee Wee's Big Adventure" and I sort of like, but mostly just respect as a noble effort, "Ed Wood." That's it.

Josh


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