Q & A    Archive
Page 87

Name: Sharon Carthy
E-mail: sharona2@earthlink.net

Hey Josh!

Thanks for reminding me about platform releasing. I tried to tell a 26-year-old about that, and he didn't know what I was talking about. But yeah, that's the way movies used to be released and I liked it that way.

Your comments re: My Big Fat Greek Wedding and the fraidy-cats who run the 'wood these days are right ON.

It's too bad there are so many young people with the disposable income to support the kind of crap that the 'wood is foisting upon us these days. They don't know any better, tho', they're just dealing with what's available. They've been trained to like crap.

People of my generation are more discerning about what they'll spend their 10 bucks on, so that's why the 'wood aims their crap at that young demographic which they've trained to like it.

And like you said, the 'wood is running on FEAR these days. Buncha pussies who're afraid to take a chance--even with flicks like MBFGW making huge returns on investment right in front of their faces!

But then, FEAR is pretty much running this entire country these days.

Dear Sharon:

Good point. As my friend, who owns a local ISP, was telling me yesterday, we're on our way to passing a federal law that internet providers have to come up with a system to scan everybody's email to make sure it doesn't contain any allusions to terrorism. And I'm certain no one will complain, either, because we'll give up our civil rights in a second in the face of a suspected threat. I can now be stopped for absolutely no reason and the cops can go through my entire car and its contents simply because I live near a northern border, and I might have just brought terrorists in from Windsor, Ontario. Our government clearly wants us to be afraid all the time, too, that's why we now have Department of Paranoia, run by Ashcroft, to announce utterly bogus terrorist threats every other week -- that have all turned out false so far -- just to keep our adrenaline pumping. So why shouldn't Hollywood be consumed with fear, too. It's the American way.

Josh

Name: drugstore_cowboy
E-mail:

Dear josh,

What do you think of Roman Polanski and his work? Will you be looking forward to The Pianist?
And what do you think in regards to his crime?

Dear DC:

I'm pleased that Polanski seems to have finally made a decent movie, after over a twenty year hiatus. It does seem like there's probably nothing new in the depiction of the holocaust, which has been covered extensively in movies. I've always thought that Polanski should film Jerzy Kosinski's book "The Painted Bird," which parallels Polanski's youth during the war. I read Polanski's autobiography, "Roman" by Polanski, and he explains his crime in detail, and the fact that he already served about a year in prison, and could have ended up doing ten more, which he felt was too much. That young girl is probably pushing forty now, so maybe it's time to forgive and forget. Maybe not. I honestly don't care about artists' personal lives, just their art. Wagner may very well have been a rabid Anti-Semite, but I still love "Tristan und Isolde." D. W. Griffith clearly had his head politically up his ass, but I still respect him greatly as innovative filmmaker. John Wayne also had his head politically up his own ass, but I like his films, too.

Josh

Name: Jean
E-mail:

Hi Josh,

Oh, so Robert Zemeckis directed "Contact". Never saw it and don't plan to. Not only is Zemeckis a hack he also has the worst hair plugs I have ever seen in my life! You think he would be able to afford something better. Sheesh!

Boy! Have you seen the comercials for "Catch Me If You Can"? Tom Hanks has an almost cartoonish New England accent. A la Rob Morrow in "Quiz Show". "We cot yer son faargin' checks". Oh man, I lost it the first time I saw it. It may be even better then Kevin Costner's embarassing attempts at accents. Or Keanu Reeves!

I saw "Fanalysis" this past weekend. It was really fun to watch. Have you ever gone to any of those conventions that Bruce Campbell and Ted Raimi frequent? If so, what's that like? It seems like a parallel universe. Those folks REALLY get into the characters. The documentary was kind of short. I would have liked to have seen more.

Thanks,
Jean

Dear Jean:

"Fanalysis" made me laugh, particularly the woman dressed as Xena, who legally changed her name to Xena, but luckily she's not obsessed by the character. There's a terrific shot of her and a cardboard standee of Lucy side by side that begins on the feet and tilts up. As it's tilting you think you're seeing Lucy standing beside the standee, until you get up to the face and realize it's the other woman. And the heavy-set girl in her complicated Klingon outfit. Yikes! Meanwhile, I don't know what the deal is with all these phony accents in movies. I just saw a long clip of "The Gangs of New York" and you've got Leonardo DiCaprio doing Irish, which could be highly problematic. In the recent "Path to War," there was Michael Gambon, who's British, trying and failing a Texas accent, Alec Baldwin failing at a Missouri accent, and I forget what Donald Sutherland was supposed to be doing, but he wasn't pulling it off, either. I just watched "Quiz Show" again and Rob Morrows Boston accent is really annoying. And Paul Scofield is doing a dead-nuts imitation of Joseph Cotten, whom he made a picture with ("A Delicate Balance"). Mel Gibson still sounds weird to me doing American, like he's from the fifty-first state.

Josh

Name: Pablo
E-mail: sanpablo@bezeqint.net

Dear Josh:

Hi, i hope you could help me

I'm looking for the North by Northwest Ernest Lehman screenplay to download.
Any idea where can i find it. I'v search in any site but nothing. I'll be glad if u can help me
Thanks

Dear Pablo:

You obviously didn't look very hard. Ernest Lehman's screenplay for "North By Northwest" is published, in print, and available through any bookstore, or online at Amazon.

Josh

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

Dear Josh

I see somebody say "American Splendor" can be another "American Beauty". I don't know, I am not so brave to see American Beauty after you review. I know, yes, American Splendor autobiography comic that Harvey Pekar write from years to now. He was inspired by Crumb comics, and Robert Crumb indeed illustrate some of his scripts. He was have cancer and that was matter for some of his work, too.
Now, that movie is very recent, I don't know if is commercially launched, I think was or will exhibited at Sundance. I did think maybe you or somebody more in this forum can would see them.
Eeek... my English sound very primitive tonight! Sorry!
By the way, I read "If I had a hammer". I loved. I hope can have a copy very soon. I started last night and in the morning I find my mother watching on TV "I Wanna Hold your Hand" (?) from... mmmm... (Zemeckis??). I did say she with indignation something like "That's the wrong stuff"...
Man, my mom was watching the infernal side of your story...
Thanks again for "If I had a Hammer". You really are an unstoppable force.

FABIO

Dear Fabio:

Thanks. So you're saying that "American Splendor" is not "American Beauty." All right then. And Zemeckis gets brought up again today. I really despised "I Wanna Hold Your Hand" as plain old idiotic and not funny. I did like the way he handled The Beatles on Ed Sullivan, though, by having doubles in the background out of focus, and the actual footage on the monitors of the TV cameras in the foreground. I daresay, however, that if Zemeckis wasn't good buds with Spielberg he'd have never made it anywhere in the film business.

Josh

Name: John Rotos
E-mail: jrotos@aol.com

Dear Josh:

Do you recommend that I copyright my script. I've already registered it with the WGA, but some say you should do both. Are they right, or are they just morons. Also, is there any difference between registering a script with the WGAe as opposed to the WGAw. Thank you in advance.

Dear John:

There's no difference between registering with the east or west coast version of WGA. But copyrighting is far more important. The Copyright office is part of the Library of Congress and is the official way to guard your script. The WGA is simply a trade union, and doesn't have near the standing in a court of law, which is where it matters. Just stating "Copyright" (with the copyright symbol (c)) on the front of a script has meaning -- it says, "Don't steal this script or you're breaking the law." Registering in both places can't hurt, but if you're going to choose just one, it ought to be an actual Copyright.

Josh

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

Josh,

Do you know of a source which lists movies chronologically? You've mentioned a number of times that movies are geared towards kids these days and I was interested in checking out the numbers. I want to see how I would classify the target audiences for movies for maybe the last fifteen or twenty years or so. To do that I'll need a list of movies, at least the major releases, from that time period only. If anybody else has suggestions lay'em on me. Thanks as always,

John

Dear John:

I don't know about their availability, but the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (the folks that give the Oscars) send out a list every year to their members of every film released the past year that's eligible for Oscar nomination, which means any film that's played theatrically in LA for at least one week. So does the Director's Guild, and I'd assume, so does the Writer's Guild. My late friend Rick had all the eligibility lists from 1927 through about 1994, but they all went into the crapper when he died. The other source for this would be the John Willis Screen World books, that come out every year and list every film released the previous year, in the order they were released. Those can be gotten from the library or a book store. Good luck.

Josh

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

Josh,

I suppose you've said all this stuff before, but it just suddenly hit me that nothing particularly significant has been made in a long time. We have had varying degrees of good and bad entertainment, good and bad art over the last 20 years, but nothing that really strikes me as a timeless work, the sort of thing that we could look back on 50 years from now and think of as a classic.

In the 24 years that I've been here I've given moviemakers the benefit of the doubt. They're trying to make the best movies they can, and who am I to judge if their films are truly great or not. But since I've starting working on my own stories and doing a few short films, I've come to realize that the people making all the current movies are either lazy, incompetent, or simply boring individuals. I can understand kids out of film school having a hard time coming up with a great feature film script. But it truly disappoints me that these 30, 40, 50 year old writers out there have nothing to say. What the fuck have you been doing the last 40 years of your life? Has nothing struck you as interesting in this world that would be worth writing about? I'd like to know what the other people on this discussion board think. If you were 50 years old and working on a script with 5 other writers about a guy getting switched into a girl's body, wouldn't you start to question what happened to your career?

I used to give these filmmakers the benefit of the doubt, as most audiences seem to do. Five or six years ago I would try to see everything that came out, I didn't really mind that most of the films were about nothing, they were films and I just love the medium. Now I can barely get out to the theater more than a few times a year, dragged by some friends to see either some desperately bad drama (like Road to Perdition) or a raunchy comedy/action piece of crap. It honestly depresses me that I have this desire to make movies and yet there's like basically nothing being released that stimulates me. I feel like the bar is set so incredibly low, and most of the stuff doesn't even know there is a bar. Well-made cable movies just aren't the same. I want smart, stimulating adult movies to be released into movie theaters, and apparently thats just too much to ask.

Every year there's a few that claim to be that sort of film and they keep disappointing. I'm looking at a list of movies that are supposedly some of the best of the year, and we've got the annoying looking Adaptation from the Being John Malkovich writer, Gangs of New York which critics are saying is a mess, Catch Me if you Can which looks like another lightweight Spielberg confection, uh.. Right now there are two movies I have some hope for: About Schmidt and The Pianist. Other people on this board might disagree with me, but can you honestly say that movies these days offer anything more to you than ok entertainment? Sitting on my ass in a sticky movie theater for two hours is not my idea of entertainment. I can find better things to keep myself, and its not like watching a movie is a great way to spend time with friends. I go to the movies to get a new perspective on things, to get my mind going in new directions. Instead I'm stuck getting puked on by some jerks watching 8 Mile or having my ears blown off by a cheesy Vin Diesel movie. Its like seriously, what the fuck happened to writers in LA. They can't come up with anything better? I have to blame the people. There are alot of desperate, unhappy writers living and working in tinseltown. They have a responsibility to stop the cycle of mindless shit. They are shirking this responsibility every time they come on with 10 other writers to make Mortal Kombat 3. It's time to stop the nonsense, the American public deserves better than its getting right now. We're not as stupid as Hollywood wants us to be, are we?

Jim

Dear Jim:

I always find it amusing when some other movie lover arrives at the same place as me. I got here about ten years ago. I used to see nearly every film that came out, and had for twenty-five years previously. Suddenly, I felt like my back was broken. Having paid for and sat through 1000 pieces of Hollywood shit in a row, I just stopped going to the movies. I do think you're misplacing the responsibility for this debacle -- it's not necessarily the writer's fault, it's the dumbass executives that hire them. Keep in mind that very few, if any, Hollywood films are based on spec scripts anymore. The writers are writing what they're hired to write. I suspect that most members of the Writer's Guild could do a much better job if they were writing the stories they thought were good, and not being constantly interfered with. Writers are treated like crap in Hollywood, and on a very basic level are the most important people involved in filmmaking. What Hollywood needs are better, smarter executives that are asking for higher quality stories, and I have no doubt the writers would happily comply.

Josh

Name: Jean
E-mail:

Hi Josh,

I just read an interesting article that might amuse you. Awhile back Warner Bros. asked Trey Parker and Matt Stone, the creators of South Park, to edit out some things on the audio commentary for the South Park DVD's. Specifically a section where they say some not so nice things about the film "Contact". Apparently at one point Matt Stone says that it's one of the worst movies that he has ever seen. South Park is somehow connected to Warner Bros. and the "suits" wanted Parker and Stone to clean-up the commentary in fear of offending Jodie Foster. WB released "Contact" and they felt that it was disrespectful for these guys to be talking shit about one of their films. WB even went as far as contacting (no pun intended) Jodie Foster and the director of the film. Both of them said that they could care less about what these guys said on a DVD commentary. In fact Jodie Foster told the dorks at WB that she is a fan of South Park. But WB continued to push and prod Parker and Stone to edit the track. After 6 months of being harassed by the suits the guys decided to pull the entire commentary track from the DVD's. They now offer the commentary on a free CD that you can send away for. How insane is that? Stone and Parker both said that they stuck to their guns out of pride but also because they were quite proud of the commentary that they recorded. And now WB is pissed because the CD is out there. Who fucking cares!? What a bunch of retards!

Jean

Dear Jean:

Of course, I'm with Parker and Stone in that you can't run down "Contact" enough, as it was such a monumental piece of shit. And the director of "Contact," BTW, is that overrated hack, Robert Zemeckis.

Josh

Name: Harry Bleeker
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

Did you check out Kevin Spacey's new site triggerstreet.com? It's supposed to help independant filmmakers get more exposure.

Dear Harry:

I haven't yet, but I've heard about it. I'll do it now. Thanks.

Josh

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

Josh,

Speaking of great American movies, I saw Driven the other day. I have to hand it to Stallone and Renny Harlin, they are grown adults that haven't got a single clue. How is it even possible that the same guy that wrote Rocky wrote this.. film? I've come to a couple conclusions if you don't mind reading.

Hollywood is like a gay vampire that basically sucks the originality and creativity right out of its inhabitants. A guy like Stallone enters with a moderate amount of talent, becomes successful, and completely loses touch with humanity. He desperately wants to make successful movies but hasn't a clue how to make something worth watching. In a way, this idea works in larger terms. I think that Hollywood sucks these days because people are too happy. I imagine a utopian society where no one has any good stories to tell. I think a world of conflict is necessary for good art. If the people making movies/art have no interesting conflict in their lives, they have nothing to offer anyone else. I think its fair to say that there ARE still great stories out there, but in the empty utopia of hollywood these stories are not being written, and disliked if their are. Watching a film like Driven I wonder if the people that made this film are fellow members of the human race. It was sort of like Terminator on the racetrack, I didn't believe these were real people for a minute. Its almost getting to the point with movies these days that the shit could be programmed into a computer by a bunch of monkeys and we wouldn't know the difference. Who needs the skills of observation when you can program a 90 minute film of Adam Sandler tripping on Mel Gibson staring into his flattened crops?

Jim

Dear Jim:

Of course, I entirely agree. You're sort of restating the theory I put forth in my essay "Stories & Society." Stories are the representation of our society's mindset. Right now, and for the past twenty years, the main goal of our society is to make money and be rich. Even if the movie itself isn't on that topic, the film's reason for existence is. "Driven" only exists because Stallone believes he needs another hit. Period. It's not about your's or my enjoyment or edification. This is exactly the same reason Lucas keeps making "Star Wars" films. Money, and only money. Hollywood's best films were made either during the depression, WWII, the Korean War, and the war in Vietnam. Since that last conflict ended in 1975, it's been downhill ever since. Now the most dramatic thing around is going to Hollywood and making a movie. As has been said, "Success has destroyed more people than failure." Very few people know what to do with success, and it immediately confounds their sense of value. Suddenly, staying rich and famous overrides all other considerations. It's sad, but this too shall pass.

Josh

Name: David Pollison
E-mail: Daverat@aol.com

Dear Josh:

I loved your review of My Big Fat Greek Wedding. Haven't seen it yet. The last two movies I saw in a theater were Cronenberg's SPIDER and Hideo Nakata's DARK WATERS. People ask me if I've seen the remake of Nakata's RING. My response is "Which One?" On video & DVD I have the origional, the 2 sequels, the prequel and the Korean Version. Why should I bother? Last movie I saw before the 2 I just mentioned was MINORITY REPORT and I have to agree it did suck in a major & disapointing way! And this is coming from one of the few people who loved A.I. I only half agree with your final comment about if you make only cheap crap you can never loose. That might of been true when AIP, AMICUS and New World pictures was still run by Corman. Today the king of cheap crap is Charlie Band. I think you know why he always wins. He produces a movie for 7 hundred thousand, he tells the financer it cost A million 3, funnels the difference into his castle and studios and "production costs", & once the money has been "washed" through his companies' "expenses" He pockets it. He wins and you & I who grew up on a steady diet of good crap have completely lost our appetites. I wish you would open up the next AMICUS. I'd be first in line to work for you.

Dear David:

You loved "A.I."? I've got some land down in Florida you might be interested in buying. For me "A.I." wins the "Interminable Award," since I wasn't sure the film would ever end. It follows up on "Magnolia," another film where I thought I was caught on some level of Dante's hell where I might be stuck there forever. At least American International and Corman made some watchable crap, Charlie Band only makes unwatchable crap.

Josh

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

Josh,

Fair enough. I guess I misunderstood the tone of the poem. Is it a new work?

Ben

Dear Ben:

Yeah, I just finished it last month. It may not seem like it, but it took me a couple of months to work it out.

Josh

Name: Diana Hawkes
E-mail: spammers, a hex upon you

Dear Josh:

psssssssssssssst...Hey August -- see, actually, there really *is* a missing "Xena and Ares do it" scene. In "Armaggedon Now". You can even buy 8 x 10 glossies of the edited-out aforementioned canoodling. So neener neener with sugar on top. I know, I know, that wasn't really your point, I just had to get that in there!

Going back to the "Hud" topic for a minute, I once tried to explain the Ares dynamic to someone puzzled as to the appeal of a "bad boy" character (cringe-worthy cliche` term, I know) by telling them to check out Paul Newman's Hud. The glimpses of humanity and self reproach in a character built up with such bravado I always find interesting, even if in the end they stick to their status-quo.
Any examples in film that you find genuinely interesting Josh? I never myself understood the fascination with archetype Stanley, in A Streetcar Named Desire. It seemed Stella going down those stairs to him at the end smacked of '50's sensabilities toward lust. (Written in '47?) Being the fan I am for seeing that behavior/character explored in a story, you'd think I'd "get it". We're supposed to see him as a miserable monster, pretty much irredeemable? Or, in the end, not? I heard the Legion of Decency or whatever cleaned up Blanche's past for the film, she seduced some student in her past and was hinted to be a "a nymphomaniac". So- what the character of Blanche thinks of Stanley-- does it differ in the play vs. the film? BTW-Kevin Smith played Stanley on stage in NZ in one of his last gigs. He sized up the character as basically a miserable rapist.

Dear Diana:

Is the question that's lurking in there, who are some other interesting bad boy characters? One of the most famous, although I don't like him at all, is Richard Burton in "Look Back in Anger," which is the first of the British "Angry Young Man" films. I liked Albert Finney in "Saturday Night and Sunday Morning" and felt he was the direct influence on Alex in "A Clockwork Orange," another bad boy. My favorite of those films is "A Kind of Loving" with Alan Bates, but he's more frustrated than angry. There's Marlon Brando in "The Wild One" which is pretty good, if a tad diffuse on motivation -- "What are you rebelling against?" "What've ya got?" And of course James Dean in "East of Eden" and "Rebel Without a Cause."

Josh

Name: Nicky G
E-mail: nickyg@aol.com

Dear Josh:

My script just got rejected by a production company. They said that they had already optioned a couple of scripts that were similar in genre and style. I thought that sounded sneaky. Do you think they're setting me up to be ripped off, or they just thought it sucked the big one? I heard how your script Crime after Crime was ripped off by Columbia; did you try to sue?

Thanks in advance.

Dear Nicky G:

Absolutely not. Copyright suits are some of the most difficult and expensive law suits there are. Honestly, I don't think about or worry about being ripped off. Since no one seems to give the slightest shit what script they shoot, or what it even means to be a decent script, why rip anyone off? I wouldn't worry about it.

Josh

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

Josh,

I read your "Jehosus" poem, but didn't feel the need to comment until August said that it was accurate. I have been searching for answers my entire life, and I'm glad that she could now set the story straight. I will refer any confused people to this woman.

Okay, I'm being sarcastic and unfair, but it was just funny to see someone make such a bold statement on matters of opinion--opinions vehemently held to be truths by both stubborn sides, but opinions nonetheless. As strongly as I profess my Catholic beliefs, while also begrudgingly admitting that anyone is free to disagree, do you also consider your poem to be 100% fact, and 1% opinion?

If you're looking for critical analysis for the poem as a poem, then the subject matter may be too controversial to allow that. Basically, you're asking people if they agree with your position on God. Anyone who devoutly practices a religion will not, and those who don't will eat it up. Would my opinion be biased? Probably. I found much of the poem sing-songy and kind of childish. I tend to be more anal with poetry and prefer to stick precisely to the rhyme, meter, and accents that I set forth in the first stanza, if it's a poem I am taking seriously. The half-rhymes like Buddalla to scholar annoy me. However, the line about us six billion being his chosen few was perfect. I like those types of contrasts that bring something that we consider so massive down to what it is beside God--a small matter.

Some of the things I said, I would have preferred to ease back on in other cases, but I actually feel like I'm mirroring your own attitude. Even though you can tear someone's work to shreds and call it exactly what you think it is, doesn't mean you're trying to insult anyone as a person.

So if you're still reading, have you heard that Mel Gibson is making a movie about the death of Christ and filming it all in Latin and Aramic with no subtitles? We obviously know your religious standpoint, but as far as Gibson doing something that he wants to do and blatantly disregarding all popular sentiment, do you have any admiration for that? Or is the prospect of a movie like that so ludicrous that there's no merit to it. Don't you think that since we survived with silent movies, the Twilight Zone (the one where the old lady who was being harassed by the spacecraft never spoke, and it was revealed to be a United States ship), and other visual stories, a film like this could be good?

My fingers are tired.

Ben

Dear Ben:

There's no facts involved, it's all opinion. And everyone's opinion is biased. I don't care if any agrees or disagrees with me. Its rhyme-scheme is sort of Dr. Seuss-like, and meant to be childish. Rhyming Buddallah with scholar is meant to be funny, just like rhyming Koran with Morman. I actually kind of conceived the poem as the lyrics to a country-western song, with Flatt & Scruggs-like banjos behind it. As for Mel Gibson, I don't think he's got the ability to make a decent movie, let alone something intelligent or controversial. And once a guy has a trillion dollars, how brave is it to make a film financed by someone else on a subject that may not make money? He ain't risking his own money, other than the reduced fee. And haven't we already had enough films about Jesus? If someone actually wanted to depict him as the dark-haired, big-nosed, Jewish semitic guy he was, that might be interesting, but any more depictions of him as a blue-eyed blond are entirely unnecessary.

Josh

Name: TheRope
E-mail:

Josh,

Did you review Monster's Ball? I looked for it in your Review section and couldn't find it. I caught it on the tv a few nights ago. I really wasn't impressed with it. The performances seemed contrived, and the editing seemed choppy and uneven. The story wasn't fleshed out enough. I think there were some great moments and some great truths, but overall not that great of a film. What do you think?

Best,
TheRope

Dear TheRope:

I didn't review it. I liked it, but having seen it twice I never need to see it again. I certainly think it's one of the better films of recent days, but that doesn't make it a great film by any means. Quite frankly, the aspect that moved me the most was Berry's overweight son, who disappears from the picture fairly early on. I do think there's a legitimately interesting story going on, and I liked the way it ended. It's pretentiously directed, but that's just par for the course these days. At least it's not stupid and not aimed at kids.

Josh

Name: Jason Roth
E-mail: rothj@student.gvsu.edu

Hey Josh,

Have you ever read Just Tell Me When to Cry, Richard Fleischer's memoirs and musings about his years as a director? I didn't notice on your recommended reading list. I'm only about 1/4 of the way in, but it's a great no-bullshit look at the industry from the 50s forward. Great John Wayne anecdotes too, heh.

You are right on about the lack of tough-guys in modern cinema. Where are the Burt Lancasters and Kirk Douglases? Nuthin' but candy-asses these days.
At least there's still a Bruce Campbell out there!

Dear Jason:

Yes, I've both read and own "Just Tell Me When to Cry." It was good, but I didn't think it was great. I do like Richard Fleischer, who was a no-bullshit director. One of his earliest pictures, which was for Stanley Kramer, was "So This is New York," which I've only seen once, but I laughed like hell, and I found it very surprising for a 1947 film. I also quite like another early B-picture of his, "Follow Me Quietly," which has a great scare in it. Also, "The Narrow Margin" (1950) is a really snappy B-film (forget the remake). I watched "Fantastic Voyage" again not too long ago -- a film that blew me away as a kid -- and was impressed at how snappy it was. Once again, no bullshit. I also love "The Vikings."

Josh

Name: Kevin
E-mail:

Hello Josh,

Yes, I have an old model H-16 Bolex camera (it's Non-reflex though) laying around. I also have a reverie 16mm magazine camera (do you know how much these things are worth by any chance?). Nothing fancy or professional. I was looking at the Bolex EL earlier, they seem very good and are able to be bought at a good price on auction sites. I looked at the arri sr you talked about, it seems like an awesome camera...very pricey.

Writing for the reader's edification is not pandering.

Dear Kevin:

I just watched a lot of footage shot with a Bolex last night, and it all looked great, both black & white and color. Far better than any digital or video camera. You simply can't beat the look of film at this stage of the game. The problem with using is Bolex is that it's unforgiving. You must remember to set everything for every shot or it won't come out. This all becomes habitual pretty quickly, though. If you only have two lenses, however, I think you'll need a few more. The standard lens on a 16mm camera is the 25mm (which is 50mm on a 35mm camera). I'd say you also need a 50mm for tighter shots. And a good tripod, and a light meter. The Seconic Studio meter is a good, reasonably priced light meter that I'm sure you could find used for quite cheap if you look around on the internet. I bought my Bolex and all its lenses on the internet.

Josh

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

Dear Josh,

No questions, but a couple of answers.

I bet "American Splendor" (which a guy asked about a day or two ago) is how "American Beauty" got translated for some of the overseas markets, especially since he seems to be a Thora Birch fan.

And how to get everyone to read "Jehosus?" Easy. Put three links, all leading to it, on your main page. Have one read "Now accepting original scripts for future production deals." Have another read "The scene they cut out where Xena and Gabby got it on." And the third could be "The scene they cut out where Xena and Ares got it on."

Just an idea. ;

Regards,

August

P.S. "Jehosus" is pretty funny, and accurate too.

Dear August:

That sounds like a reasonable guess as to what "American Splendor" is. My dad actually liked the Jehosus poem, which I found suprising. Meanwhile, I just saw two pretty good films: "Jim Brown, All-American," Spike Lee's documentary, which is well-made and Spike isn't even very intrusive, although he does feel the need to frame interviewee's faces in odd ways, like one eye and half their mouth, just prove there is a hip director at work. Nevertheless, Jim Brown is a fascinating man and worthy of a documentary. I don't care at all about football, but watching Brown run the field is astounding -- he is untacklable -- his speed and balance is almost inhuman. Also, I saw a cable film from last year called "Warden of Red Rock" with James Caan, David Carradine, and Brian Dennehey (who also produced), and written by the late James Lee Barrett (whom the film is dedicated to). Caan is really good, the writing is very sound with good characterizations, and it was a solid little picture. To actually see something new that was professionally written was very surprising.

Josh

Name: Jean
E-mail:

Hi Josh,

No shit! I wish Lee Marvin was still alive so he could break a chair over Tom Cruise's wimpy ass head! And Steve McQueen should come back from the dead so he can kick Ben Affleck in the balls! I am not remotely attracted to any of these girly men. They all work so hard on their bodies and their "look" and shit like that. I would never, even for a split second, think of sleeping with a guy who gets facials and mud wraps. I've met guys out here who get their nails done! What happened to men who get in bar fights and eat red meat? Did women feminize men? It sure seems like it. I'll take William Holden with his glass of scotch and cigarette over Leonardo Dicaprio and his work-out regiment any day of the week and twice on Sunday.

Jean

p.s. I'll check out your sci-fi script.

Dear Jean:

William Holden is an interesting example because he started making films when he really was still a kid. You see him in "Golden Boy" in 1939 when he was just wtenty-one and he's still a kid. He was cast the next year as the lead boy in "Our Town" and is still a kid. However, by the time he was in "Sunset Blvd." in 1950 (when he was thirty-two) he's definitely a full-grown man. I think Holden just got better and better his whole career. By "The Wild Bunch" in 1969, he just couldn't be better. And Lee Marvin, now there was a man, and a fine actor, too. And what a great voice! To me the voice is the actor's foremost tool, and once again these Cruise, Affleck, Damon, DiCaprio wimps all have little voices. Listen to Gregory Peck's voice -- that's an actor. As a little anecdote, when I first got to Hollywood in 1976, I was hanging around with a guy, who's still a good friend of mine, and his best buddy was drawing a comic book with another guy. That other guy was Leonardo DiCaprio's father, and Leonardo was a toddler running around getting under everyone's feet.

Josh

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

Josh,

I thought I read somewhere that "Ender's Game" is in production. I, too, enjoyed the books, the first one particularly, though I have little hope for a faithful adaptation. The book is about seven hundred pages long which would translate to three or four hours of sreen time under the best of circumstances. LOTR has the same problem; too much exposition, not enough character development. I've read the books more times than I can count and dreaded the movies. I prefer the Rankin Bass cartoons, truth be told. Some things just shouldn't be filmed, and most things shouldn't be filmed in Hollywood.

Speaking of LOTR, I was wondering what you thought about religious parallelism in movies/literature. Anyone unaware of Tolkien's religious convictions or his fascination with language, for instance, would likely find little of value in the books. It strikes me that religion, as opposed to vague spirituality, is currently out of vogue where once it was a frequently mined source of inspiration (Man For All Seasons, Ben Hur, etc.). Thanks,

John

Dear John:

I like "A Man For All Seasons" and "Ben-Hur." I'm seriously against organized religion of all sorts. Religion may not be hugely popular among younger Americans, but it certainly is popular with most everyone else around the world, as well as older Americans. The largest supporters of Israel and it's causes are not Jews, but the fundamentalist Christians, who count their numbers at 75 million. They are also the largest group of tourists to Israel now. The fundamentalist Christians believe that the Jews must be here when the second coming occurs so that Jesus can give them the choice of converting or dying, and half convert and the other half perish, as all the Christians find heaven on Earth. What's amusing is that the Israelis don't like this whole philosophy, but have to support the Christians because they need the tourist dollars, as well as America's support. Ah, irony. I love it.

Josh

Name: Kevin
E-mail:

Hey josh,

I was just wondering if you could help me as I look around for a camera to work with and possibly purchase. What camera do you like/love/use, and about how much is it the price range?

Also, there's a rumor going around that you're going to write a book or something? Um, well, I hope you do! I'm interested in hearing more of what you have to say.

The articles in your site are good, but it seems to me that you wrote from a critical standpoint more than for the edification of the reader.

Dear Kevin:

That's correct. I write what I want to write, and the reader can get as much or as little as they care to out of it. If you're writing specifically for the edification of the reader, that's called "pandering." What do they want to hear, as opposed to what do I really think. Meanwhile, what sort of camera are you talking about? Film or video? I don't know a thing about video cameras. If you're talking about 16mm, unless you've got a lot of money you're probably talking about a Bolex. If I had my druthers, I'd probably buy a used 35mm Arriflex-SR.

Josh

Name: Tom O'Sullivan
E-mail: osullivant@earthlink.net

Dear Josh:

I found your script on Belleau Wood and it sparked my interest. My grandfather was a runner for Lt. Col. Frederick Wise (2d Bn, 5th Marines). Silver Star, Croix de Guerre. He was a PVT through the battle and was later appointed Sergeant Major - a very unusual progression. I've read much on the battle and have visited the battlefield (I'm a former Army Lieutenant Colonel). I think the concept of a movie on this battle is a good one - not only was the American action heroic, but the German as well (I think two "Blue Max" medals were awarded - a ground commander and a flyer.) In addition, the involvement of the famous reporter Floyd Gibbons is a great story. Anyway...

Is this going into production?

Dear Tom:

No, but I wish it was. Got a spare $20 million? Floyd Gibbons was in all the early drafts, and I finally removed him in the later ones just to stick with the soldiers. For those who don't know, Gibbons was a reporter for the Chicago Tribune, who made his way right up to the front lines at the battle of Belleau Wood, then got shot three times, in the arm, the shoulder, and in the eye, and crawled out after the sun went down. Pretty heroic for a reporter. There was an officer with Gibbons, Major Berry, who was shot in the elbow and the bullet came out his palm, and he stayed and commanded for days with this awful wound. It was a hell of a battle.

Josh

Name: Diana Hawkes
E-mail: top secret

Dear Josh:

A couple of my favorite t.v. shows were actively produced in other countries, New Zealand and Canada.
Now, the companies, while I don't know exactly how they are set up, does have business branches set up in the U.S. as well- Renaissance Pictures and Warner Bros.

Does this mean that they must hire union <Writer's Guild, Director's Guild, other staff> even though they are on foreign soil, so to speak? I thought that was a "rule" you had mentioned, but I think I got it wrong.
Hell, that and exchange rates/taxes is probably why filming is bailing on Uncle Sam and why places like Toronto, Austrailia, NZ are such hot spots.

What is a freelance writer? If a freelance writer participates, do the guild rules to give them credit still apply, or could producers totally discount the name (if nothing is specified in the one-shot agreement, assuming they were smart enought to get something on paper?)

Alot of this stuff is confusing. For instance, Steven Sears wrote an episode 1st draft but it was changed so much he had his alias placed on it-Buddy Williers. Why not just use the real writer's name that changed the bulk of it? Guild rule?

Dear Diana:

Maybe Steve just didn't like how the script turned out. Both Renaissance Pictures and Warner Brothers are American companies. But everybody sets up a new, seperate company for each individual project, which removes liability from the parent company. I'm not sure what show shot in Canada you're referring to, but for Herc and Xena, it was all Writer's Guild and the writing offices were in LA. Being freelance means you're simply not on staff, but it's still all Writer's Guild contracts and rules. Not only can't the producers screw a Writer's Guild writer they've contracted with, even if they completely rewrite the script so that not one word resembles the original, the original writers must be credited. That's what happened on the Amazon/wrestling Xena I did (I can't remember the title).

Josh

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

Josh,

I've got some technical questions. I recenltly parted company with a DP that's been shooting a documentary of mine for the last 2+ years. I own a Bolex that I plan to use for some scenery\pick up shots, whatever. I remember your friend Paul being the one who had nearly shot a movie with a Bolex and that everything looked great.

What kind of lenses did he use? The widest one I own is a 16mm. I think it's pretty standard. I also have a telephoto, 100mm lens.

Also, to check focus, would you recomend getting out a tape measure, or is moving the turrent (sp?) and looking through the top view finder enough? (Not the actual view finder that attaches to the side.)

Also, sometimes F-stops confuse me. I understand how the aperature works. The higher the number the more you close it down, each stop being half of the last. But is there a general F-stop area one usually tries to keep things? If so, what if you're in a dark area, like the deep woods? Just open it up?

Well, I believe that's about all right now. I'm sure there will be more questions, but I'm not there yet.

Have a good one.

Blake

BTW, did you ever see "Strozek"?

Dear Blake:

No, I haven't. And Netflix doesn't have it, so I wrote them a letter and suggested they get it. Both Paul and I both have Bolex cameras. I have the slightly higher model that has really lame reflex viewing through the lens. Anyway, I have a 10mm lens, a 25mm, a 75mm (or 3"), and a 16-100mm zoom. I think Paul has a 16mm and a 150mm, too. Regarding focus, if it's any kind of low-light situation, measure it, too. If it's outside in the sunlight you can just eyeball it. And remember, you must set the paralax on the side-finder compared to looking through the lens while its swung around on the turret. Also, make sure to set the proper lens setting on the side-finder. Regarding exposure, or the f-stop, you must have a light meter or you won't know where to set it. Out in the bright sunshine it's generally between f-11 and f-22, and in the shade it's generally between f-4 and f-8, on a very basic level. This has a lot to do with what speed film you're using. But if you don't have a light meter, you've got to get one. Any more questions, just ask 'em.

Josh

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

Dear Josh

I loved the ballad, I want send it to my friends poets. I was trying to translate to Spanish.
Josh, did you see GHOST WORLD of Terry Zwigoff? if so did you like? What about American Splendor?
Well why not another question... did you read sometime about Kabalah...? :)
Thanks, excuse me my curiosity...
Fabio

Dear Fabio:

I'm glad you liked my poem, too. Yes, I saw "Ghost World" and didn't care for it. I found both girls dull, uninteresting, and mean, and I didn't give a shit about either of them. I liked Steve Buscemi. I've never heard of "American Splendor" and it's not in the books or on Netflix. What is it?

Josh

Name: Jean
E-mail:
Dear Josh: Hi Josh,

I saw "A.I." at a friends house this past summer. If I would have had a gun I think I might have blown my brains out. Could that movie have dragged on any longer? I must have looked at my watch 10 times while sitting through that piece of shit. Have you read anything by Orson Scott Card? I have been a fan of the Ender Wiggin series since I was a kid. The books are so much more then your run of the mill science fiction stories. The character of Ender gets more and more complicated with each book. It's pretty cool stuff. And I agree with you about CGI. Stop-motion animation is so much more endearing. I think it's a much more cinematic medium then CGI. Miniatures and special effects makeup are cooler too. It's seems as though movies have been taken over by computer geeks. Do you think you would ever direct a sci-fi film?

Jean

Dear Jean:

Absolutely, if I were to ever get the chance. I don't know if you've read my sci-fi script, "Humans in Chains," but I think it's sort of interesting. I've reaqd a few of Card's short stories over the years, but none of his books. And "A.I." was just awful. "Minority Reprt" isn't quite as bad, but nearly. Cruise running his computer by waving his hands around like a spastic was really and truly ridiculous. I wanted to see a bee land on his nose, he goes to swat it, which then tells the computer to set off all the nuclear weapons in the world. And why are male actors such androgynous little fag-boys now? Where are the real men? Why aren't there any Robert Mitchums or Kirk Douglases or Burt Lancasters? Mitchum could take out all the boyish little Cruise wimps, and all the Ben Afflecks, C-flecks, and D-flecks with his little finger.

Josh

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

Dear Josh,

Like a lot of your fans who discovered you through your Xena work, I found that half the fun of watching the film LotR was in spotting NZ locations ("Wow - the river the Fellowship is paddling down is the same one from 'The Price!' ") and familar performers ("Hey - that elf played Prince Sarpedon in 'For Him the Bell Tolls!' ")

Like you, I was a big sci-fi fan as a kid (Heinlein and Roger Zelazny in particular) and adored the fairy tale-ish fantasy of people like C. S. Lewis, but found Tolkien to be a bit heavy-handed. I enjoyed it, but could have read 10 Edgar Rice Burroughs novels in the time it took me to read LotR. I really appreciated the whole world he created (which races lived where, how they interacted and so forth) but wasn't impressed with his plotting or pacing or dialogue.

So that said, the film blew me away, simply because it's such a fast-paced action film. A lot of people found it to be more scary and violent than the books, but for viewers jaded by decades of Freddie/Jason flics, I think it had the same effect that the books would have in the 50's or whenever. Plus the performances were excellent, I felt, although with people like Christopher Lee and Ian McKellan, one probably simply has to turn the camera on, and the excellent performances will happen. Granted, I don't look at it from a film-maker's viewpoint, but I think it might be worth your time to catch LOTR when it comes on TV. If nothing else, Jackson filmed something believably that was virtually unfilm-able.

Speaking of sc-fi, I caught part of something called "The Last Man on Planet Earth" on the Sci-Fi channel over the weekend. It was at about 3 AM, so I couldn't watch it all, but it was surprisingly good, and I wondered if you knew any of the people involved, from Hollywod circles - the director was Les Landau, and the writer was Kenneth Biller. A very old-fashioned plot in the tradition of James Tiptree, Jr., about a near future where almost all men had been wiped out by bio-weapons, and women reproduced by cloning. No special effects, just a lot of detail paid to what sort of culture would develop in that scenario. Like street hustlers who *dressed* as men, and a brothel where a few surviving men in their 60's and older serviced rich female politicans. Probably a very "low" budget by today's standards, but it was done well. I hope to see the rest of it, and I'd recommend it to anyone who enjoyed "Dangerous Visions" or the old magazines like Analog.

Regards,

August

Dear August:

I took out the DVD and watched every bit as much as I could of LOTR. I found nothing exceptional in what I saw, and simply a lot of dull screenwriting. There's virtually no characterization in the first 70 minutes, just meaningless exposition. If this is what a good movie is now, I'm completely uninterested. If that's fast-paced, I'll take a slower pace wherein the filmmakers actually get me to care what's going on. I've never heard of the sci-fi channel film you mentioned, not any of the filmmakers. It's not in Maltin's book, either. It does sound interesting though.

Josh

Name: Christian Gomez
E-mail: xtianito@aol.com

Dear Josh:

Wow! I thought I was a poet!?
What critical thinking of the now!
Put into a jangle. The cohesiveness of the perspective
is intelligent and needs to be heard! for the positivity it enriches, gives insight to the truth.

Dear Christian:

I'm very glad you enjoyed my "Jehosus" poem. How do I get everyone to read it?

Josh

Name: DS
E-mail:

Hello Josh,

I the past, you have shared with us your thoughts on film music. Bernard Herrmann (who is my favorite composer as well) is one who you bring up quite a bit, as well as the score for Blade Runner. I was wondering, what are your thoughts on Nino Rota? Of course, not just his famous Godfather music, but some of his lesser known scores for Fellini as well. I think his music is beautiful, catchy, and often otherworldly. Take care.

Dear DS:

I do think Nino Rota's "Godfather" scores are by far his best scores. His music for Fellini's films is all so similar, and all circus music, that it bores me. I've got an Italian CD of his Fellini scores and I can't listen to it. I bought his score for "Hurricane" many years ago and couldn't listen it, either. I do love his score and song for Zeffirelli's "Romeo and Juliet."

Josh

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

Dear Josh,

The Q&A isn't really onto this topic at the moment, but you brought it up not too long ago, so I'm going to throw in my 2 cents worth. To wit: three reasons why I liked "Lord of the Rings":

1. It was extremely faithful to the books. From what I understand, that's not a particularly easy thing for a movie to be, especially when a huge studio is breathing down your neck wondering what you're doing with their hundreds of millions of dollars.

2. Although you've said you disagree with this sentiment, I think they handled the exposition very well. If you read the books, Tolkien created approx. 10,000 years of history for his characters to muddle through, and all things considered, I think the story progressed quite nicely considering everything they had to explain to the Tolkien neophyte.

3. This means nothing in terms of telling a well-rounded story, but since I already believe they did that, the special effects, CGI included, were very well done, and did nothing but serve the story, which is exactly what they're supposed to do. George Lucas could stand to learn a thing or two from Peter Jackson.

If you or anyone else who reads this Q&A have any thoughts, I'd like to hear 'em.

Peace,
Lucas

Dear Lucas:

That all may well be. As a kid I couldn't bear or get through the books, so it may very well be a brilliant adaptation. I basically can't stand that kind of fantasy. It seems no better or worse to me than "Xena," and the only "Xena" episodes I like are the funny ones. There didn't seem to be anything funny about LOTR, and it was not humanly possible for me to take it seriously. Nor was I impressed with the digital effects which all looked like digital effects. I'll take real, well thought-out science fiction any day of the week, which, of course, they don't make movies of anymore. All we get is knuckle-headed garbage like "A.I." or "Minority Report." As I've said before and I'll say again, kids can have these movies for kids. I'm an adult, it took me a long time to get here, and I want smarter movies made for adults.

Josh

Name: Darin
E-mail: none

Dear Josh:

I was just wondering how you got $80,000.00 charged onto credit cards for Hammer. Did you have a lot of credit cards with no limits? Did you just have really good credit before you shot the film and thus were given a high credit limit?
I don't mean any offense, I'm just wondering what the logistics are that allows someone to charge so much.
I guess it shouldn't surprise me as much as it does, they're giving credit cards to college kids with no credit history at all, solely in the faith that their parents will bail them out if the debt gets out of control, but I'm still wondering how the amount can get so high.

Darin

Dear Darin:

It's not very difficult if that's your intention. I didn't even have a credit card until I was about thirty-four and began directing "Real Stories of the Highway Patrol," where they demanded I have one so that I could rent cars and trucks. Once I had a credit card, I began to receive many other credit card applications, and I filled everyone of them out. Before you could say "boned up the butt" I had ten credit cards, all of which I paid off entirely every month. After you do that for a while, you just call them and ask for more credit, which they're always happy to give you. Soon I had a $10,000 limit on ten different cards. Voila! What's amazing to me is there's no connection between all these various MasterCards and Visas from different banks. At a point I was working with six MasterCards, three Visas, and an American Express card. I've paid off and canceled four of those cards. I always came within a hair's breath of declaring bankruptcy, too.

Josh

Name: Enrique
E-mail: rico4@hotmail.com

Dear Josh,

Who is your favorite fiction author and why?
Do you have an all time favorite book?

Dear Enrique:

I don't read much fiction anymore. As a kid I loved Kurt Vonnegut, Isaac Asimov, Harlan Ellison, Robert Heinlein, Arthur C. Clarke, and the rest of those guys. The last fiction books I really got into were Colleen McCullough's books about the end of the Roman republic (the sixth and last in the series will be out soon). I enjoyed many of Alice Hoffman and Anne Tyler's books, but I grew weary of both of them after a point. I've liked several of Richard Price's novels. I liked the writing in Tom Wolfe's most recent novel, "A Man in Full," although I didn't think it was a very good story, nor very well worked-out. I liked Phillip Roth's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, "American Pastoral," quite a lot. The greatest enjoyment I've gotten from books in the last ten years or so has all been non-fiction. This book I'm just about done with on Ben Franklin, "The First American" by H. W. Brands, is great. David McCullough's "John Adams," "Truman," and "Mornings on Horseback" were all terrific. I don't have a single favorite book. I think I've reread "Slaughterhouse-Five" more than any other book, so maybe it's my favorite.

Josh

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

Dear Josh,

I got the 2003 edition of Leonard Maltin's movie guide, and was momentarily amazed that it actually was smaller than the last one I have, from 5 or 6 years ago. Then I realized how he's managed to trim it down - virtually no made-for-TV movies, direct-to-video films, or sequels are listed, unless they are really really significant.

Which of course made me immediately scramble to see if all my favorite Movie-of-the-Week films were still included. For me, some of the old ones - like Spielberg's "Duel," Dan Curtis and Richard Matheson's "The Night Stalker," and a horror film with Cornel Wilde called "Gargoyles" - were really well done. I also enjoyed John Frankenheimer's "comeback" on HBO with "Attica," even if it was practically a documentary.

So I wonder - have there been any TV movies that have made an impression on you?

Thanks,

August

Dear August:

More than theatrical films of the past five or more years. I really liked "Elvis Meets Nixon," "Don King: Only in America," "The Day Reagan Was Shot," and "Keep the Faith, Baby." I didn't really like any of Frankenheimer's HBO films, particularly the last one, "Path to War," which was pretty inane (the premise being: Lyndon Johnson would have been one of the best presidents ever had there been no Vietnam War--but, of course, there was a Vietnam War, and subsequently he was a lousy president). At least these films are about something, whereas theatrical films are no longer about anything.

Josh


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