Q & A    Archive
Page 91

Name: alan
E-mail: picquickstudio@aol.com

Hi Josh

I noticed on one of your previous replies that you do not care too much for George Stevens's THE GREATEST STORY EVER TOLD and I'm with you on that. What though do you think of Nick Ray's KING OF KINGS (1961)? I saw it again yesterday and still believe it to be the best cinematic depiction yet of the life of Christ.

Dear Alan:

It's certainly a better film, but I still don't think it's all that good. The casting of the blond-haired blue-eyed Jeffery Hunter is kind of offensive. The sermon on the mount was well-shot, though. I'll still take "Life of Brian."

Josh

Name: ana
E-mail: That05Girl@aol.com

Dear Josh:

I am writting scripts but I have no idea on what to do with them when I'm finished. Do you have any suggestions?

Ana

Dear Ana:

They make great insulation, bird cage liners, or you can keep them beside the fireplace and use them to start fires. If you roll them up they're pretty good for swatting bugs. Actually, you need to try and get an agent. Don't just send a script blindly, though, query first. Good luck.

Josh

Name: Diana Hawkes
E-mail: upon request

Dear Josh:

If I may, actually I believe the first time you recounted that little story you quoted him thusly:
Ted, walking behind the ripped Kevin Smith, remarks:
"I grow more hideous by the second."

It's even funnier that way.

Since the subject of Smithy has come up, I thought I'd let you know that his pilot episode of "Riverworld" is indeed going to be broadcast, and hooray! Not only did they not edit out his participation, but they placed an "in memory of" to him at their webpage.
http://www.scifi.com/onair/scifipictures/riverworld/

March 22nd at 9:00PM and again at 11:00PM.
The Sci Fi channel.
I highly doubt it's Josh's cup of tea, but as I've said, I'll be tuning in to see him vital again.

Dear Diana:

You are of course correct, Ted did say, "I grow more hideous by the second," which is indeed funnier.

Josh

Name: Jean
E-mail:

Hi Josh,

I caught the screening of "Bubba Ho-Tep" last night at the Egyptian Theater and I can sincerely say that I have never seen anything like this film. It was a bit messy in places but I think that Don Coscarelli has made something pretty unique. The dialogue was some of the funniest stuff that I have encountered in a movie in a long time. Ossie Davis is absolutely wonderful. Is that guy a national treasure or what? But the true highlight of the film is Bruce Campbell. Wow! Your buddy turns in a truly funny and heart warming performance. His Elvis "impersonation" is right on the nose but what impressed me the most about Bruce in this particular roll was the way that he committed to the emotional and physical turmoil that his character is going through. He really dug past the quirky plot line of the movie (Elvis and JFK battle a mummy) and gave the audience a character that they could really invest in. I think that people who are not familiar with Bruce's work will be able to see this film (hopefully) and take notice of him. And his scenes with Ossie Davis are classic! They seemed to work very well with one another. Their chemistry is entirely evident. I could have cared less about the mummy and all the horror/sci-fi stuff in the film. All I really cared about were these two old men and their search for just an inkling of their former selves. Bruce as the old Elvis is hilarious, touching and sad. He really accomplished something pretty great and showed some serious acting chops. Some other folks must have noticed too because they announced at the screening that Bruce has been voted best actor in a film at the HBO Aspen Comedy Festival. A lot of my co-workers are at that festival right now and from what I hear it's a pretty tough crowd. Apparently it's mostly stand-up comics voting for their friends who are also stand-up comics. So, check it out if you can it's totally worth it.

Bye!
Jean

Dear Jean:

I can't believe I still haven't seen it. I asked Bruce to borrow the tape, but he didn't have one. Bruce has been making me alugh with his Elvis impersonation for thirty years.

Josh

Name: James Bond
E-mail: herculean@techie.com

Dear Josh:

Thank you once again for your thorough and informative response.

I am gladdened to learn that Renee and Lucy were able to display that they are such talented actresses. A poster on the Nutforum Sequel board recently stated that "they are so cute together", if I am not mistaken (not to trivialize the matter, of course).

Regarding Kevin Smith and Kevin Sorbo, forgive me if I assumed that you had worked on the "Hercules" set outside the pilot films. I am dismayed to learn that Kevin Sorbo had serious health problems- hopefully he has fully recovered. Please explain what problems you are referring to (I am only aware of the aneuryism he had in his shoulder?). Also please describe (if possible) what exactly made Kevin Smith appear in better shape then Kevin Sorbo. Although I believe that Kevin Sorbo had an outstanding physique, I must also agree that Kevin Smith appeared a consummate physical specimen (by the way I do not believe your description sounded gay).

Thank you,

James Bond

Dear James:

Kevin Sorbo's health problem was that aneuryism in his shoulder and arm, which caused him great difficulties on the last two seasons of the show. He could no longer work out, nor was he supposed to strain himself, which was a major problem for an actor playing Hercules. The last time I saw Kevin on the set -- Herc and Xena were shooting in the same location -- he was as out of shape as I ever saw him, which still meant he was in better shape than me. But Kevin Smith was just awesome. I've told this story before, but I'll repeat it. On that last ep of Xena I did with Kevin Smith, he had his shirt off between takes (his black leather outfit was rather warm on a hot sound stage) and Ted Raimi dressed as Joxer walked by, saw Kevin's physique, and muttered, "I'm horrible," and walked away.

Josh

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

Josh,

I just watched the Three Stooges with my four year- old, the episode "Men In Black". The boys are doctors in this one. The head of their hospital announces at one point that there has been a mining accident with sixty men injured. The only thing that can save them is the radium which is locked in the safe. The date on this short is 1934. It made me think of "Cycles". Though I'm still of the opinion that the setting of the screenplay was too late for the dial painters, the Stooges short certainly illustrates the casual approach people had to radioactive substances. Scary as hell.

John

Dear John:

They won an Oscar for that short. It's a parody, by the way, of a film called "Men in White" starring Clark Gable.

Josh

Name: bob
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

i saw that you said you dont know who jason lee is, well he will be in the movie dreamcatcher he was just in a guy thing and stealing harvard, he was also in kissing a fool, and a bunch of kevin smith movies that i did not enjoy, but other than those smith movies i really loved every other jason lee movies

did you like the matirx
will you see the sequels

Dear Bob:

Yes I did see "The Matrix," and no, I won't see any sequels.

Josh

Name: James Bond
E-mail: herculean@techie.com

Dear Josh:

Thank you kindly for your interesting response. Considering your observations, if Renee is considered more of a "method" actress, how would you describe Lucy's acting (terminology)?

Also, I was curious if you knew if Kevin Smith or Kevin Sorbo could lift more weight (for instance, in a bench press). The recent Kevin Smith documentary indicated that he could "press 200 kilograms". Please inform me if you know more regarding this (and Kevin Sorbo's one rep maximums, if possible). Also if you recall if they ever had any friendly contests- such as arm wrestling. I recall reading in an article that they used to discuss their gym routines while off the set.

Thank you,

James Bond

Dear James:

I'm not sure I'd term either Renee or Lucy method actors, although I'm sure they both know of, and use parts, of the method. I'm not sure you can be a method actor and work in TV, where there's no time for actors to search within themselves for their motivations. Many times on TV, if there's a line flub, you just have the actors go back two lines and pick it right up. Lucy and Renee were absolutely terrific at that, and it's not easy, let me tell you. Meanwhile, I don't know what went on between Kevin Smith and Kevin Sorbo as I never worked on the "Hercules" series, only the pilot films, and Smith wasn't on those. I didn't work with Kevin Smith until my very last "Xena" episode. Kevin Smith always looked like he was in better shape than Kevin Sorbo, but Sorbo had some seious health problems for a while there. If I can express this without sounding gay, Kevin Smith's body was perfect.

Josh

Name: bill
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

first off, i think 'fletch' is chevy chases best film
second, the fletch books are very different from the film if you have not read one of them then at least give them a chance

Dear Bill:

We live in America, I don't have to give anything a chance if I don't want to. Prequels, sequels, and remakes can all go to hell as far as I'm concerned.

Josh

Name: bill....again
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

i forget to correct you on the movie fletch won its not a remake of the first fletch movie it is...in a way a prequil it takes place before the first fletch movie

Dear Bill:

Oh, it's a prequel not a sequel, that makes it much more original.

Josh

Name: james windowers
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

i have read your thoughts on other directors and it seems to me that you hate everyone from Steven Speilberg to kevin smith.

i dont thnik you have a right to rate other directors

when i say to someone 'hay have you ever seen jaws or dogma' everyone goes 'of course i have' but then when i say have you ever even herd of josh becker they say 'no who is that'

Dear James:

So what? Who is the reviewer for The New Yorker? Who's the reviewer for Vanity Fair? Who are the reviewers for Variety or The Hollywood Reporter? Get with the program. You don't have to be anybody to review movies. Most reviewers don't know shit about movies and were formerly sports or general interest writers. At least I'm a movie fan, have seen many movies, am actually a writer-director, and I have a stake in the whole topic. If you don't like my opinions, don't read them.

Josh

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

Josh,

I'd like to add "The Greatest Story Ever Told" to John Wayne's list of movies he should not have touched. He only had one line ("Truly this man was the son of gawd") and the the film was an absolute stinker.

Dear Tony:

That line is mixed so low it's difficult to hear, and I'm talking about a 70mm print in the theater. It's a cameo, what's the difference? But I do agree it's a stinker of a film. Let's not forget "The Conqueror" with the Duke as Genghis Khan, probably the silliest picture of his career.

Josh

Name: James Bond
E-mail: herculean@techie.com

Dear Josh,

Thank you for your response. Regarding penalties, this is being discussed on various Xena boards (such as the Nutforum Sequel).

I am glad to know that working with Lucy and Renee was such a pleasure. I was also hopeful that you may be able to discuss their styles and approaches to acting (if possible).

Also, hopefully my earlier message was not disagreeable. Please consider the following message (hopefully it is less peculiar), and if possible convey it to the related parties.

Thank you,

James Bond

-----

Please convey to Ms. Lawless (and Mr. Tapert) that she has a multitude of decent fans who greatly appreciate her and would never hurt or insult her (or her husband). Also these fans would very much like to express their condolences for any hurt that others may have caused her, and will continue to support her.

Thank you,

James Bond

Dear James:

Lucy and Renee are just pros. They know what they're doing and they're always prepared. I think Renee prepared more than Lucy, or any other actor, for that matter. She always knew her lines and everybody else's. Rennee was always pleased to get direction, whereas Lucy only wanted so much, then she needed her own space and didn't want to discuss it anymore. Best of all, they were both always in a good mood, and since they were the stars, that was the tone of the set. It was a terrific enviornment to work in.

Josh

Name: Brian
E-mail:

Josh,

Hahaha no I never got around to seeing Rambo III, but I think I might seeing how Sheldon Lettich penned the script. It's too bad you can't put a block on here when someone asks about kevin smith. I am so SICK of hearing what a 'brilliant' writer he is. I can't imagine how 'clerks' got picked up. If anything, how he made the film was far more interesting than the movie itself, that he filmed in the convience store he worked at and maxed out all his credit cards. Didn't you do that for "Hammer"?

Dear Brian:

I sure did, and to a much greater extent than Kevin Smith. I'm still trying to pay them off. Smith is just lame, period.

Josh

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

Josh,

As I see it, the comic book-based movies, and a great number of other recent genre films, not only employ a structure, they have taken structure to the extreme of formula. Rather than trusting in story and characters, trust is placed in formula. A prime example of this is "Top Gun", a formula picture so successful that it was remade by the same team a few years later as "Days of Thunder". The structure of these movies are clearly defined and nearly identical. The structure of "Spiderman" was not all that different from those two movies. Structure is not the final goal, just one necessary part of a complete story.

And I wish people would stop defending "Schindler's List". It seems to me that Spielberg has for some years been bucking for sainthood. "Amistad", "Schindler's", "E.T.", "A.I." are all designed to make the viewer feel good about himself. That's even true of "Close Encounters" though I liked that movie. The viewer gets to be the enlightened person, sympathizing with the clearly good characters against the clearly evil ones. A good Nazi film would be one which shows how easy it can be for anyone, the viewer included, to tolerate something like Nazi ideology. The story of Oscar Schindler could be quite compelling, if it were told in such a way as to demonstrate human complexity. Complexity seems to be something Spielberg leaves to the FX department. Thanks as always,

John

Dear John:

I entirely agree with everything you said.

Josh

Name: Davy
E-mail:

Hey Josh -

I saw on your movies list that you loved 'RoboCop.' Have you seen Verhoeven's 'Starship Troopers?' I think it's one of his best works and was totally misunderstood by everyone. I thought the political and social satire was genius and the goofy "war propaganda" delivery of the film was brilliant. I consider it a companion piece of sorts to 'RoboCop.'

Dear Davy:

That's good. I thought it was a miserable piece of junk. That lead kid was a complete bore, and it's really, really bad sci-fi. In a future where they have star ships they still have to use weapons that fire 9mm bullets? So to kill a bug you have to fire a million rounds at it? Painfully stupid. That he dressed people in Nazi-like outfits doesn't make it a politcal and social satire.

Josh

Name: bill
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

what do you think of the actor jason lee, i think he is one of the best actors out there right now

i herd he might play fletch in the fletch won movie, have you read the fletch books

do you think kevin smith will do a good job directing it

Dear Bill:

What kind of horseshit is this? Who gave a damn about "Fletch" the first time around with Chevy Chase? Now it's being remade and it's supposed to matter? Not to me, I can assure you of that. And I don't think Kevin Smith will do a good job with anything. I've never even seen Jason Lee. Has he made a movie or is he just a TV actor?

Josh

Name: ted
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

what do you mean kevin smith has nothing to say

how can you not respect someone that has made 5 very popular movies, done them mainly by himself

he made clerks soo low budget and yet it is very popular, how can that be if he is such a 'bad' director

and he has such a way with words and making charecters

Dear Ted:

What has popularity got to do with anything? Do you like Britney Spears just because she's popular? Also, I would dispute that Smith has made five popular films. That last one, "Silent Bob," went right down the shitter, as did "Dogma," which was really and truly awful. Nor do I accept that he has "such a way with words and making characters." It all seems ridiculously false to me, and "Clerks" was simply unbearbale. I walked out.

Josh

Name: brian
E-mail: kumiteEnt@aol.com

Hey Josh,

Have you ever seen "The Green Berets"? I had to watch it for a class I'm taking called Vietnam on film. Man, what a horrible film! It was the Duke vs. Charlie, I'm curious if that's what the tagline was back in '68. Most of the movie cracked me up. Right in the beginning, when all the Green Berets are lined up giving a press conference and the first starts talking in German and then switches to English saying "I am captain of so and so and I can speak German and Noregian," then the one next to him says how he's second in command and can speak German and Spanish. Wow, how important being that you're going into fucking VIETNAM! And then when John Wayne's helicopter gets shot at and they're going down, just before they hit, him and the rest of them inside meraciously leap out with not even a scratch on them. It's funny how one of the first films about vietnam was a pro-war propoganda film by John Wayne. It just got me thinking how if history repeats itself, if maybe to make a pro-iraq war propoganda movie with some washed up hollywood tough guy fighting the taliban. I'm sure Stallone has the time for that. Wasn't Rambo a green beret also? :)

Dear Brian:

Did you see "Rambo III"? He's in Aghanastan fighting with the Mujhadeen against the Russians. My buddy Sheldon wrote that film, by the way. Anyway, yes, I've seen "The Green Berets," and I found it every bit as absurd as you. I liked the scene with Aldo Ray hollering at the reporter, David Janssen, saying "This is a Russian AK-47!" like that means something. Still, I'm a fan of the Duke, even if his politics were up his ass. For the most part he had very good taste in the scripts he chose--just not that one. Or "The Alamo," either.

Josh

Name: SDev
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

I think I have to defend my comments that I sent a few days ago. When I said, "if all movies had structure, the movie industry would collapse," I didn't mean that structure wasn't needed. I just meant that with the type of people you have in America, people would MUCH rather go see Daredevil than say Citizen Kane. That's not to say good movies today (i.e. Big Fat Greeek Wedding) aren't appreciated, but you can't sit here and say that truly good movies with structure could support the movie industry of today. If you say it could, you are a moron.As far as Schindler's List goes, I still just don't understand how you can criticize the movie. Yes, the book was ten times better. In the book, Oskar Schindler isn't perfect and the book exemplifies that. The movie didn't do as great of a job in that area, but the movie really didn't need to play on his "flaws." It played on the plot of a man who saved thousands of Jews from the Concentration camp. What else do you need? Great acting and a great(and TRUE) plot. Call it a weak movie, call it a weak script...That's fine. Like I said, I think you are little too hard on movies. But it's your opinion and I respect that and I will still continue to read your stuff.

Dear Sdev:

Just because a story is true doesn't make it good. During WWII there were sixty million Germans, but only one million Nazis. Oscar Schindler was one of those one million. They were the problem. And Schindler was a Nazi from about as early as it was possible to be one. That he made recompense at the very end of the war, which saved his sorry ass from execution, doesn't make him a good man. Certainly the people he saved thought he was great, but the many that died performing slave labor for him, which is not depicted in the film, didn't get any say so at all. If a film doesn't have decent characterization, or a reasonable script, it can't, in my opinion, be a good film. Good intentions aren't sufficient. I'll still take "Judgement at Nuremburg" any day of the week. Regarding structure, do you think films based on comic books don't have structure? They're just using it poorly. Also, I have more faith in masses than Hollywood. I think if you gave them better movies, they'd go to them. The fact is, Hollywood can no longer make them, so it's not a choice.

Josh

Name: ted
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

you have good views on directors and movies in general i agree with almost all of your views but one person you dont talk about much is kevin smith how do feel on his works do you like them and the actors he uses all the time

Dear Ted:

I can't stand his films. I think he's utterly inept, and has nothing to say. And I could care less about Matt Damon and Ben Affleck.

Josh

Name: Heather
E-mail: ledleeaf@yahoo.com

Hi Josh!

I was so excited to see your film on the schedule of the East Lansing Film Festival! I remeber buying "Running Time" my freshman year of college and now my senior thesis "Fish Sticks" is in a festival with it (Sunday, March 23, Short Films 1<- shamless personal plug). This is so cool.

Dear Heather:

Bruce made a film in college, starring Sam, called "Fish Shticks," which was a zany slapstick fishing comedy. Best of luck with your film, I hope you win.

Josh

Name: James Bond
E-mail: TheJamesBond@post.com

Dear Mr. Becker,

I am impressed with and appreciative of your work. I am curious of your opinion on Lucy and Renee regarding acting (styles, etc.).

I also have another comment- of course it is directed to a number of persons- I am hopeful that you will consider this.

Best regards,

James Bond

-----

Here is the comment:

Dear Studios USA,

Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Bond, James Bond. I have been for a long time highly appreciative of the beautiful and lovely Ms. Lawless and of the genius and creativity of Mr. Tapert. It has come to my attention recently the depth of depravity and ill-sentiment directed toward Ms. Lawless and Mr. Tapert by some Xena "fans". May I convey my deepest sympathies and condolences to Ms. Lawless for any hurt afflicted by these persons, and to Mr. Tapert. May I also convey that the persons responsible for the heinous and hurtful comments shall be penalized (and have been, in some capacity, over the past year). My best wishes to the incredibly beautiful Ms. Lawless and the innovative and handsome Mr. Tapert.

Sincerely,

James Bond

Dear James:

That's a pretty weird comment. How are people to be penalized? Are you crazy? As for Lucy and Renee, I love them both and working with them was a tremendous highlight in my life.

Josh

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

Dear Josh,

Did you get to see Ted in "The Foreigner?" Was it good? I've seen local productions of it, and found the second half (all the Klan stuff) to be pretty silly, "I Love Lucy"-style fluff, but thought the first part, with the local simpleton trying to teach the guy how to speak English, was utterly utterly hilarious. Can't think of anyone better than Ted to do it!

Regards,

August

Dear August:

I haven't seen it yet, my ticket is for March 9. Ted did the play once before about ten years ago. I have no doubt he's terrific in it. I'll let you know.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

I feel I have to pull up SDEV here when he/she says, "if all movies had structure, the movie industry would collapse". What absolute nonsense - it is, in fact, the other way around: if only all movies had structure then things would be much better (as well as a few other things).
I think that what he/she meant was that in order for movies to be seen as progressive they have to bend the rules in order to make them interesting. This may work with other forms of entertainment (music, reality TV, etc) but not with motion pictures.
Most movie-goers I talk to have no idea that a movie has (or should have) three acts. When I point this out to them the looks on their faces are priceless.

Dear Tony:

I didn't even bother taking that one on because it's so stupid. As William Goldman so aptly put it, "Screenwriting is structure." Period. Art is the imposition of structure (and a point of view) onto reality. Take something like "Adaptation," which folks thought was "wildly original" and unstructured, but is in fact highly structured, but poorly thought out. Originality in screenwriting absolutely does not come from losing structure, it comes from coming up with something new to say within the structure, or even possibly coming up with a new structure -- like "Groundhog's Day," for instance.

Josh

Name: mike wilson
E-mail: punkadict@hotmail.com

Dear Josh:

hi,real quick one,and if you get this question all the time feel free to send me hate mail,im desperatly trying to find contact info for someone from renaissance pictures to get permission to use images and logos from the evil dead films for my non-comercial non-profit fan site.please help,love your work

mike

Dear Mike:

No one talks to the great ones at Ren Pix, no how, no way. Ignore that little man in the booth.

Josh

Name: Vicki Roper
E-mail: vicneric@lcc.net

Dear Josh:

I was trying to do some reasearch on the 99 cent store chain for possible employment. They are planning to open 20 stores in my area, Houston. Imagine my surprise at finding your essay/observations.
Very well written. Your forte seems to be film but have you ever concidered submitting your observations to the New Yorker? Your essay,in tone and content, reminded me of the Talk of the Town pieces. Or maybe a longer piece along the lines of "Letter from..." essays?
Have you written any other pieces I can read on line?
Thanks,
Vicki

Dear Vicki:

Thanks for the nice comments. Look around the site, there's plenty more to read.

Josh

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

Dear Josh:

Just dropping a quick note...

Yeah, I agree that rock music has become rather stale. I've a huge fan of the rock band Rush, and they are one of the few bands out there that pushes the envelope musically. They've been going strong for over 30 years-and they came out with new album, VAPOR TRAILS, last year. It's 68 minutes of fire and passion, IMO one of their best albums in many years.

As Geddy Lee, bassist, once said "You have to be willing to fail in public if you really want to achieve any kind of growth as an artist." Sadly, most of the popular press has ignored them. I guess because these guys are nearing 50 and not chick magnets, they're ignored. Well, whatever.

While I did enjoy Schindler's List when it came out, I am open-minded to other people's POVs, and I must say that the more I think about your comments on this film, the more I agree with them. You make some very valid points. I also wonder if there is really any point in continuing to make movies based on the Holocost (sp?). It just seems to be that it's always the same thing...Jew facing overwhelming odds in the form of Nazis. How many times can you tell the same tale? It's like, "Okay, I get it already." After a while, it's just parroting the same theme.

Maybe I'm just talking out of my ass; I dunno. But I'd like to hear your thoughts. As I said before, I enjoy your frankness.

Dear Saul:

I actually saw Rush about twenty-five years ago and they were pretty good, although I'm not really a fan. Given that twelve million people were exterminated by the Nazis, I'd say there's many different and varied stories to tell, and it's certainly the most dramatic event of the past one hundred years or so. There were hundreds of WWII movies, and many of them are very good. But we seem to keep getting the same holocaust story over and over again. I think "The Pianist" could have been a good film, had they bothered to give us an act one so we could get to know the people before the Nazis arrived. And I agree with the Jewish perspective of the minute you stop telling stories about the holocaust and reminding people of it, you'll get another one. This isn't ancient history, it's very recent history, and people do need to be reminded of it.

Josh

Name: Evan
E-mail: eandrews@volcanomail.com

Dear Josh,

Have you seen the Michael Caine film The Quiet American? Are you a fan of the book or of Graham Greene's work in general?
thanks, Evan

Dear Evan:

I haven't seen this version, it's a remake you know. It was originally made in 1958 by the great director-writer, Joseph Mankiewicz, and starring Audie Murphy. I do like Graham Greene, and he wrote a lot of terrific screenplays, like, "The Third Man," "The Fallen Idol," and "This Gun for Hire." I'd actually like to see this new version, and I generally won't bother seeing remakes.

Josh

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

Josh,

Just a quick question for you; is there an official name for those shots, usually in interviews, where the scene goes to gray-scale and frames or repetitive sections are removed to create an almost strobe-like effect? I was trying to complain about them the other day and realized I didn't have a name for them. I think they're supposed to emulate slow motion but they annoy the crap out of me. Thanks,

John

Dear John:

What you're referring to is one of two kinds of effects -- there's the look of "Saving Privaye Ryan," "Three Kings," and "Band of Brothers," where it has that strobing effect, and this is achieved with an angled shutter, where the camera's shutter is attached to a computer. The other effect, which is used in music videos all the time, is a weird video effect where it looks like slow-motion, but actually stays in synch, and is achieved by shooting slo-mo, then removing frames. I don't know if there is a name for either of these effects.

Josh

Name: Blacky
E-mail:

Josh.

I'm going to mention 3 names and I'd like to hear what your thoughts are on these 3 individuals.
1) Martin Sheen
2) Robert Duvall
3) Tommy Lee Jones

Reason I'm asking you this is simple. Opinions vary, but I've watched a lot of movies and a lot of performances of many stars. I feel these 3 individuals are 3 of the best 'acting' talents around. They can do drama or comedy, they have a certain charisma on screen, and they just simply give damn good performances in their work. But what gets me is normally when the industry describes the top actors in pure class of talent.....I rarley ever hear their names mentioned. You of course here DiNero or Pacino and even Tom Hanks, etc.; and I'm not taking anything away from those guys......I think they are good actors....but I don't see them being any better than the 3 I mentioned above; and in some I ways I think the 3 I mentioned are better. Given this, I was just curious what your thoughts were on those 3 actors.

One last quick question that's totally different. You are obviously familiar with the cast of Xena given your work on the show. I'm a fan of the show and a fan of Renee O'Connor. Renee(along with Lucy as well) obviously think very highly of you given what they've said in recent interviews. I was just wondering if you had the chance to make another film(totally hypothetical here) and had a female role that needed filling; do you feel Renee is a competant enough actress(in your eyes) that you would like to have her be a part of your film?

Thanks.
Blacky

Dear Blacky:

I'd give Renee a part in a film in a second, I think she's terrific. My friend Gary and I wrote a story for a film that we thought would be a terrific part for Renee, called "Hyderabad" (the treatment is posted on the site), but we couldn't get the financing. Anyway, Martin Sheen, Robert Duvall and Tommy Lee Jones are all exceptionally good actors, no arguments there.

Josh

Name: SDev
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

Ok I generally disagree with your movie reviews just because all movies don't have to have structure. I mean, seriously, if all movies had structure, the movie industry would collapse. But I read a question to you that called Schindlers List a horrible movie in so many words. WHAT?! You can say all you want about AI. You can say all you want about Minority Report. But Schindlers List? Don't give me any of that "structure" crap. I love your movies, just bought running time the other day, but your critique of movies is, well, as bad as my grammar. You miss the point of movies. Movies aren't meant for the cinematic snobs of the world, but for the general public's entertainment. I've read Schindlers List and it is a true story that Spielberg beautifully tells as the survivors of that story will tell you...

Dear SDev:

I don't care what the survivors think, nor anyone else, for that matter. I thought "Schindler's List" was truly simple-minded, and the most expensive exploitation movie of all time. Half the movie takes place in a concentration camp where none of the main charcters are. And if I never see the raving lunatic Nazi character in a film again it will be too soon. Nazis weren't raving lunatics, They were just regular people, that's what's so scary about them. When Nazis are depicted as raving madmen it misses the entire point. But worst of all, Schindler is depicted as a bad man, then miraculously he becomes a good man. Bullshit. This was a very opportunistic man who was a Nazi when it benefited him, and who saved Jews when it benefited him. After running a slave labor factory for ten years, and he saw the war was lost, he saved some Jews and was subsequently not convicted at Nuremburg. Schindler is a 99% more interesting character than Spielberg knew how to make him. And that final presnt-day scene of putting stones on his grave went on FOREVER. I just hated it.

Josh

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

Josh,

I watched both "Chicago," and "The Hours," this past weekend and absolutely hated them both, particularly the latter, which went on forever, had no lead character, no point (unless "sexually frustrated people like to kill themselves," was the point), and absolutely no darned plot. "Gangs of New York," was utterly horrible and I haven't seen Polanski's new film. With that I can say, without a doubt, that the best of the best picture nominees that I've seen is "LOTR-Two Towers." Kind of depressing that the best of a group of Oscar contenders is a milit-million dollar sequel. I really think the state of things is getting much worse. I honestly don't think there was a single good relese this year.

I keep remembering "Hammer." I still think that is a darned good film, and most certainly one of the few contemporary pictures that was made by a director with a specific vision and statement in mind. I'm still in disbelief that no committie will select it to run a festival. Utterly unbelievable.

Do you know of NewFilmmakers in NY? It's an independent film showcase that's run by the people behind the Anthology Film Archives, wich, as I'm sure you know is (along with Film Forum) possibly the biggest indi showcase in NY, if not America. I just recieved notification that my first picture has been selected to run there this spring.

If you would like, I'd put in a word for them to give "If I Had A Hammer," a good look. It may get you a better chance at setting up a screening of your own. Quite honestly, I think they'd program it in a heartbeat.

You can check their site out at www.newfilmmakers.com

If it didn't bother me that a film as good as "Hammer" could be so horribly overlooked by a film world that produces nothing but shit, you can sure bet I wouldn't have brought this up. We need more films like it, but they have to find a way to be seen. I'll help out if I can.

Have a good one.

Blake

Dear Blake:

Sure, please do put in a good word for me there, I'd love to show the film in NY. I haven't had the guts to go see "The Hours." All of the other big Oscar-contenders were such crap that I was driven back into my house and I can barely go out for groceries now.

Josh

Name: Bronko Steller
E-mail:

Josh,

What type of camera is used on Reality shows and shows on the Travel Channel? How much would one cost? What type of camera do you own?

I saw a cool film yesterday with Kirk Douglas called "The Champ." The cinemotography was awesome. Gritty and realistic. What type of camera would they have used in 1949?

Thanks so much!

Dear Bronko:

They use those top-end digital video cameras for reality TV, but I don't know what brand. The good ones have to be at least $5,000-10,000 anyway. I don't know because I don't work in DV. As for "Champion" (not "The Champ," which was with Wallace Beery in 1932), it was some sort of 35mm camera. The most popular models in those days were made by Mitchell, and were very good cameras.

Josh

Name: Jessica Schneider
E-mail: cosmoetica@usfamily.net

Dear Josh:

Absolutely the best review(s) of Spielberg I have ever read. SPR is one of the worst films ever made, possibly the only one any worse was Shindler's list. I agree 100% with your opinions. Say, would you like to write an essay/review for me/my husbands website www.cosmoetica.com?
One important point you touched upon was how condescending his films are- i.e.- "war is bad" "slavery is bad", etc. The problem is that old Steve has no vision whatsoever. But what really pisses me off is how people think SPR is so good without really thinking why &then dismiss a great film like Thin Red Line- a film with true vision, simply bc people just don't want to get it. I'd be curious to read what you thought of "The Hours".

Dear Jessica:

I haven't seen "The Hours" yet. If you'd like to reprint any of my reviews or articles, just let me know and that can be arranged. I don't know that Spielberg doesn't have any vision, he actually sets up a shot quite well and does see things cinematically, it's that he doesn't understand storytelling or human motivation. He's the Michael Jackson of film directors, stuck in his neverending childish cocoon, forever riding the merry-go-round in Neverland, and dreaming he's Peter Pan. To a twelve-year-old things are simply good and bad, black and white. You have to be an adult to see that life is made up exclusively of shades of gray and there are no blacks and whites.

Josh

Name: Scott
E-mail: sspnyc66@mac.com

Josh,

I will compile a CD of of Roy harper music for you. The reason he is singing on "Have a Cigar" is that he was recording in the studio next to Pink Floyd when they were recording "Wish You Were Here" and he stopped by to say hello to David Gilmour, since they were and still are friends. At the time, he was on the harvest label with PF in Europe, so it was like one big family.

Waters and Gilmour were not happy with what they could do with the vocals on the track, so they used Roy to sing it and the rest is history.

Roy's music is political and intelligent, however, he does come off as being quite English, but I don't think you will be disappointed

As for "21st Century Schizoid Man", I too feel that this song and "Epitaph" from the first album were far ahead of their time. It is erie listening to "Schizoid Man" now and relating it to how we have progressed in society.

I remember coaxing my roomate at college to listen to "Epitaph" one day. Our other roomate was a music major, so we had a nice sound system in our house. Both my roomates were really into the "80's" thing and their favorite band was U2.

I cranked "Epitaph" and we both layed down on the floor and listened to the song. It blew him away. He said he never heard anything like that before and he thought the lyrics were great. I told him that I doubt he will ever hear anything like that again in music. I was right.

I will send the CD soon.

Take Care,
Scott

Dear Scott:

Thanks. I really do love "In the Court of the Crimson King." "Epitaph" is one of the greatest songs of all time. Peter sinfield's lyrics on the whole record are astounding. And the whole album is pre-sythesizers, just a mellotron. Peter Fripp has also never sounded better. Michael Giles drums may very well be my favorite on any rock & roll record. He's so incredbly all over the beat it takes my breath away (the only other drummer I've ever heard that sounds like that was Bruce Springsteen's first drummer, Vinnie "Mad Dog" Lopez, who's only on the first two albums). And Greg Lake has one of the most beautiful voices to ever sing rock & roll. I'm listening to it right now.

Josh

Name: Scott
E-mail: sspnyc66@mac.com

Josh,

Thanks again for your reply! "All the President's Men" blows me away for the same reasons that you mentioned as well. It is amazing how much much conspiracy was going on (and goes on0 in our government. My roomate was kind of teasing me that I was so mesmerized again by seeing the film again, but I love it!

I here you on the groups you mentioned from the 70's. I grew up listening to King Crimson, Yes, Early Genesis, Jethro Tull, ELP, Pink Floyd and a host of not very well know british bands from that period. When I worked in the record shop, there would be guys who would come in that were ten years older than me and they could not believe I had known all that prog/art rock stuff, since I did not really grow up in that era.

There is a musican/singer that I admire a great deal from England his name is Roy Harper. He is was very big in the late 60's and 70's in England and Europe, but not so much in America. Something tells me you would enjoy his music. His music is very intelligent and political.

Many people were inspired by him including Led Zeppelin's Jimi Page who played on many of his albums and wrote a song with Plant about him that appears on led Zeppelin III, "Hats off to Roy Harper". His lead vocals are also what you hear on the Pink Floyd tune "Have a Cigar" on their album "Wish You Were Here".

I can burn a CD of his stuff if you have an interest?

Let me know.

Scott

Dear Scott:

I am interested. I always wondered who that Roy Harper guy was that was singing on "Have a Cigar." I too also love that first King Crimson album, with Greg Lake on vocals and bass (he was eighteen at the time). I wonder if this was how the envisioned it when they wrote "21st Century Schizoid Man." If you do want to send the Roy Harper CD, Shirley, the webmaster, will give you an address where to send it. Thanks. [send to: Shirley Robbins LeVasseur, c/o P.O. Box 86, East Vassalboro, ME, 04935]

Josh

Name: Irishman
E-mail: irishman91@hotmail.com

Hiya Josh,

Is the Renee who recently sent you filmmaking questions, the lovely Renee O'Connor? If so, let her know that we miss seeing her in front of the camera. Everytime I see Renee Zellwegger (sp?)on screen, I think her role should have been O'Connor's. If it is the multi-talented Texan, you are an amazing actress. I wish you much luck and success behind the scenes as well. Hope you eventually make it over here to Sundance with your short film. We need great talent. Keep writing, directing, and acting!! You triple threat Diva!!

Cheers,
Irishman

Dear Irishman:

Honestly, I don't think that was Renee O'Connor.

Josh

Name: Diana Hawkes
E-mail: got it

Hi Josh!

So I'm sitting down with my plate of nachos and unexpectedly flip right to the start of "Mosquito" on the Sci/Fi channel. I'd forgotten how incredibly cute you are in that! You really are, Josh! My favorite part is you behaving menacing with the barbeque fork. I still don't quite get your expression coming out of the tent. Was it supposed to be a kind of: "Whew, what a tiger in the sack she is"-exhausted shake of the head? Or you were just behaving drunk? I wish Gary Jones didn't cut out your, umm, "technique" footage. We could rib you for years on that alone.

I can't wait to compare you then to the season 1 extra DVD with you. So what was the format for that? Did someone off-camera pitch questions, or were you free to comment "free style" during play-back of your episodes, or what.
You mentioned you met Michael Levine, but did you happen to meet T.J. Scott? I am so impressed with his Xena episodes, as well as an old "La Femme Nikita" ep he directed. (But his show with amazing wife Victoria Pratt--Mutant X? Cringe worthy. Yikes.)

Dear Diana:

I didn't see T.J. there, but I've met him before down in NZ. He's a very nice guy, although, quite frankly, I don't like the way he directs, although many others do. But I'd never met Michael Levine before and I had to study his episode "Warrior . . . Princess" before I did "Warrior . . . Princess . . . Tramp" and I thought he did a very good job. Yes, there was an interviewer off camera asking questions, although I don't think the guy even saw my ep. They were all very general questions. I talked for about two and a half hours, so we'll see what they use. The idea coming out of the tent, BTW, is that girl was supposed to be screwing my brains out. She was actually a stripper hired from a topless club in Detroit, and she had the sharpest hip bones of anyone ever.

Josh

Name: Scott
E-mail: sspnyc66@mac.com

Josh,

I had written you a couple weeks ago and mentioned the Brazilian film "Cidade De Deus" (City of God). I thought that it would have a wider distribution, however, it has been snubbed by the Oscars (No surprise to me), so I doubt if most people will get to see this truly fantastic film. Unfortunately, it seems that an Oscar nomination would be the only way it could get the wider distribution it needs.

Anyhow, I noticed in an e-mail posted to you a couple weeks ago that there was mention of "Thomas Video" in Clawson, MI. You mentioned that it was a couple blocks from you. Have you moved back to MI? As I mentioned in my previous post to you, I am a native Detroiter and I used to work at Flipside, the record/CD shop that is very near Thomas Video. I know both the owners of Thomas Video and it is one of the best video stores anywhere! (I have been to many here in NYC and in LA).

The only other video store that I have found equal to Thomas Video is a little video store I used to frequent when I lived in Zurich, Switzerland for three months. Zurich, of all places!

Lastly, I watched "All the President's Men" the other night on DVD of the first time in a longtime. I love that film and I started to think about how it was shot. There is so much wide space in many of the shots and the film gives you the sense of how big an vast the whole unravelling fo the Watergate story actually is! It gives you the sense of distance from the facts surrounding the scandal.

I also agree with you that filmmaking and music in my opinion, hit there creative peaks in the lat 70's. I still listen to a lot of music and see films, but both arts are quite different now. Even though I was a teenager of the early to late 80's, I had alwasy connected more to music form the late 60's and early 70's and films included!

Cheers,
Scott

Dear Scott:

I've always liked Thomas Video because they carry my movies. Meanwhile, I bet I've watched "All the President's Men" twenty times over the years, and I'm always impressed by the entire film, and Gordon Willis' terrific photography. It's brilliantly written, directed, and acted. I watched it again a few weeks ago and it struck me that it's about a conspiracy between all of the law-enforcement angencies in America, the CIA, the FBI, and the Justice Department, and it's true, so why couldn't there have been a similar conspiracy in the assassination of JFK? People are always very quick to scoff and say it's impossible for a conspiracy to include all of the law enforcement agencies, but it has happened. Quite frankly, though, I think the mafia and Sam Giancana were behind it. Anyway, my contemporary musical tastes are pretty much stuck in the late 1960s and 1970s. I listen to something like Emerson, Lake and Palmer's "Pictures at an Exhibition" and think that rock and roll never went beyond that in terms of sophistication. And no one has written more cynical lyrics than Ian Anderson on the album "Aqualung" (I'm thinking specifically of the songs "My God" and "Wind-Up"). Rock and roll used to be a place of terrific experimentation, self-expression, and finding new approaches. Now it's just the search for hit songs. And rap and hip-hop all sound exactly the same, sample from other songs, and is ultimately a complete musical dead-end. Movies are in the same place.

Josh

Name: Renee
E-mail:

Hi again Josh,

Thanks for your assistance regarding my 1940s short film. If I may I do have one more question of sorts.. We plan to shoot a car scene, also in the 1940s period. How did they originally do this back in the day? We are currently thinking of rear-projecting some moving background footage behind the (stationary) hero car and shooting it live, as opposed to using a blue screen. Is this a crazy idea? We want to recreate the artificiality of the backgrounds in those days. I hope artificiality is a word.

Thanks for any advice you may have. All the DOPs here in New Zealand are staunch for shooting colour. I think we are also going for the grainy look to save lighting time. Always a compromise.

Renee

Dear Renee:

Shooting rear-screen is a slightly complicated ordeal. First, you must have a large rear-screen, which is made of a specific kind of material. Then you have to have a very bright projector, preferably with a xenon bulb. Next, you need to have a sufficient throw from the projector to the rear-screen to be able to fill the screen, which is behind your subject, which sometimes means projecting into a mirror to increase the distance. Then you have to make sure you're getting a low enough exposure on the foreground subjects so that the image on the rear-screen will be bright enough. You're supposed to synch up the camera's shutter and the projector's shutter so you're not getting black frames, although I've shot rear-screen without synching it up and it worked. Next, you need to rock the car to make it look like it's moving, as well as moving the foreground lights and passing branches and things through the light to also give the impression of movement. All in all, it's much easier to actually shoot people in a moving car. Good luck.

Josh

Name: kevin
E-mail: SMIT12092000@aol.com

Dear Josh:

i have already edited the film by just hooking up the camcorder to the vcr [having a blank tape in the vcr] and edit it that way, but i dont know how to add music to it

Dear Kevin:

I don't know if you can even add music using such a low-budget method. Unless you've got an "Audio dub" switch on the VCR, which most home models don't have, you'll just wipe out the picture. You need to locate an actual editing system, which many schools have. Just running your camcorder into your VCR isn't good enough. Sorry.

Josh

Name: kevin
E-mail: SMIT12092000@aol.com

Dear Josh:

i make films in regular vhs film or the smaller vhs film, how would i add music into the film

Dear Kevin:

What system are editing on? You need to cut the film first, then add the music. If you're editing digitally on a computer, then it's pretty easy to add music and do a minor sound mix. If you haven't started editing your footage yet, you need to start.

Josh

Name: Renee
E-mail:

Hi Josh,

I'm currently in pre-production, planning to direct a short film set in the 1940s detective film noir genre (maltese falcon, the big sleep etc). I was wondering if you had any advice you could offer me on recreating the look of these old films, e.g. what kind of film stock would be best, whether to shoot in color or black and white (the film to be finished in black and white). Any lighting suggestions would be fantastic. We are shooting on super 16.

Kind regards,
Renee

Dear Renee:

I'd suggest shooting black and white stock, which will look much better than shooting color stock and draining all of the color out later. The master of film noir lighting was John Alton, who wrote a book on lighting called "Painting With Light," which is in print and available from the University of California Press. The basic concept, though, is to use as little light as possible to get an exposure, and generally the light is coming from the side or behind the actors, with no fill light, meaning no overall illumination, thus letting the actors drop into shadows or into silhouette. I've found that the Kodak stock gives you the blackest blacks, which is what you're looking for. Also, you might want to go with the 80 ASA black and white stock, as opposed to the faster 250 or 400, to get a sharper image. On the other hand, if you do go with the faster stock, you'll get more grain, which is an interesting look, too. Good luck.

Josh

Name: Becci Hebel
E-mail: tkh18@aol.com

Dear Josh:

My son, Allen Hebel, spent 4 years in the Marine Corps, and spent a portion of that time aboard the USS Belleau Wood. He ran across the screenplay for the movie, Devildogs Battle of Belleau Wood, and suggested that I read it, too. Has a movie been made yet, and if so, where can we see it? If not, when do you expect to film?

Dear Becci:

No film has been made, nor are there any plans to make one. Of course I'd be more than happy to make it at any time, but no seems interested.

Josh

Name: Jason Doherty
E-mail: Jad1138@hotmail.com

Dear Josh,

I live in Australia and I have decided to try and set up my own DVD distribution company, because the current distributors here are useless and being a big fan of Running Time I was wondering how does one go about securing the rights to it (I have no idea what I'm doing and learning as I go along). I will completely understand if you ignore this email, but I thought I'd give it a shot. Thanks Jason Doherty

Dear Jason:

You purchase the rights for Australia, duplicate it, possibly design new packaging (or get the rights to the old packaging), then distribute the DVD throughout the land, trying to make as big a deal of it as you can. All this would take money, not necessarily a lot of money, but enough to do the job well. I'm interested if you can come up with some money and make an offer, as well as a proposal for how you'll distribute it.

Josh


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