Q & A    Archive
Page 98

Name: phoebe and naomi
E-mail: naomiw@zianet.com

Dear Josh:

we think your essay was very cool in a catlike sort of way. long live the shemps and the not-shemps that speak out.

Dear P & N:

I'm a Shemp and I'm proud.

Josh

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

Dear Josh,

I just saw a movie that was utterly terrible, but I hope you catch it some day, as I'd love to hear your comments on it. This was the documentary "Lost in LaMancha," about Terry Gilliam's abortive attempt to do a Don Quixote film in Spain. I was hoping for a hilarious "behind the scenes" skewering of trying to get a film made these days, like you do in many of your essays. What I got was very boring and lethargic footage from what
*could* have been an interesting documentary.

It was also really disturbing - Gilliam seemed utterly ineffectual and lacking in control on the set. That's what I bet a lot of your fans would love to hear your take on - what he did wrong. The struggles he was unable to surmount - lowered budget, weather problems, badly chosen locations - looked to me like what most directors deal with on a daily basis. The producers seemed to want to blame it on the 1st asst. director, who seemed to be doing all the work on the set. It was really weird - I kept on wanting to shout out to Gilliam "Just shemp it, man!" Some of the problems involved an overly-echoing warehouse for interior scenes, noisy jets flying overhead, the sun not being out for the second day of filming a scene that was sunny in the first day's shooting... I don't know - to me those didn't seem to be such a big deal. Sheesh - insert a line about "Wow, those clouds are really gathering, Sancho" or something, and insert a 2nd unit shot of gathering clouds later on.

I was just really unimpressed with Gilliam as a director, and I'm now convinced that the flaws in all of his films (which have often had intriguing ideas, good performances, and a unique "look") are entirely his fault. I think he's probably a gifted art director, maybe even a decent cameraman, maybe even a decent concept/story writer.... but I'm just not so sure his complaints about the "system" are valid.

I wonder if you've actually seen this film, or what any of the regulars here thought of it?

Thanks,
August

Dear August:

I haven't seen it, but it sounds to me like your assessment is correct. On low-budget films or TV you are not only not allowed to be stopped or slowed down by such things, you're not even allowed to bitch about them, you just deal with them. It was very difficult to almost impossible to have a consistently-lit exterior scene in New Zealand, the weather changes every fifteen minutes. If you started the scene in the sunshine, it would absolutely be cloudy in a little while, then sunny again after that, then cloudy again, etc., all day long. It was not economically possible to wait for the sun or the clouds, although you still had to pay attention. As for noise, or hollow-sounding warehouses, which is what every single soundstage was in NZ, you just loop (dub) it later. Big deal. Those aren't real problems. I shot Anthony Quinn's big finale scene in a warehouse with a metal roof and it was pouring rain. It sounded like it was raining ball bearings hitting sheet metal. What was I going to do? Not shoot the scene? Of course we shot it, then we just looped it all later (Quinn did his lines at Technicolor in Rome). I actually got to a point where I really enjoyed shooting in the rain, it made me feel like a little kid playing in mud puddles. But then again I've never liked any of Terry Gilliam's films, and I've always believed the deficiency was his. He does have interesting ideas for art direction and he chooses lenses well, but that's about it. I'll take Terry Jones any day of the week, he's actually funny.

Josh

Name: Orangutan
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

As a 25-year-old filmmaker (shorts only so far), I too enjoy the discussion of young filmmakers. I think about these issues daily, and I do feel insecure about my own storytelling because I know that I haven't lived much and a lot of my living has been in front of a movie screen.

So what exactly do you think a person my age should be doing? If I forget filmmaking for a few years and travel and what not, then when I have a good story to tell how will my directorial abilities be up to par? Should I try to make corporate videos or commercials to practice my cinematic ability while biding my time until I have stories to tell? Or make dv movies in the vein of Evil Dead which aren't good stories but which could net some recognition since cinematic masturbation seems to be so popular these days? Do you think it's even possible to be heavily involved in filmmaking and still gather enough life experience to fill screenplays with?

Any thoughts are appreciated. I really am at a point in life where I have no idea what to do with myself next.

Thanks for running such a nice web site.

Dear Orangutan:

First, you need to stop monkeying around. Just remember, I hate all apes from chimpan-A to chimpanzee. Sorry, I couldn't help myself. I actually had done some adventurous things by the time I was twenty-five, like hitchhiking across the country several times, moving to LA when I was seventeen, as well as hitchhiking to Alaska when I was eighteen. But what I think was even more important to me as a writer was that I had dedicated myself to the proposition of being a writer and by twenty-one had already written five full-length screenplays. By the time I got to the fifth one, which was "Thou Shalt Not Kill . . . Except," I had figured out the basic concepts of screenwriting and narrative storytelling. Those first four script were crap, but it was completely necessary to have written them and come to realize that they were crap. That's how you learn writing and directing, you need to make every mistake possible, then learn from them. Also, I really think it's important to see all the great films and read as many good books as possible to see how good stories are told. Many, many fine writers didn't lead adventurous lives, they simply worked very hard at being good writers. Good luck to you.

Josh

Name: Lucas
E-mail:

Dear Josh,

The recent talk of Vilmos Zsigmond reminded me: he's shot Kevin Smith's next movie, so this one will actually look good.

You've said in the past that you don't like Smith's work at all, but I dig him.

(For the record, I don't think Smith is an exceptional writer or director. I do think he's a creative, funny guy with access to a camera and some of Miramax's cash. There's a difference.)

Lucas

Dear Lucas:

Well, you can't go wrong having Vilmos Zsigmond shoot your film, not that that will make it a good movie. For instance, Zsigmond did a terrific job on "Heaven's Gate," but it didn't save that film. Zsigmond's buddy from Hungary, Laszlo Kovacks, is a great DP, too.

Josh

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

Hey Josh & CD,

This is a good rant going here and I am in total agreement about the lack of ideas from young filmmakers and I too feel that it is simply because they have not experienced anything enough in their life to become interesting writers.

Many young people that go into filmmaking now have no life experience and it shows.

I remember back in 1995 when I was 28, I had taken what I consider my first big trip and it was to Australia. I had never been out of the country with the exception of parts of Canada and Mexico. I spent a month there and travelled with a friend all over the country.

When we were in Sydney, we me this really cool guy in a pub playing pool. He let us crash at his place for about a week. He was in his mid-40's at the time and just had gone through a divorce.

He is a very interesting character and made much money by gambling on horses that he owned. he was one of these risk taking guys, but he was pretty well off and lived quite modestly.

We helped him move to a new place in return for letting us stay with him.

Anyhow, my friend and I were sleeping on his floor during a very rainy day towards the end of our trip.

Our Australian mate David was hungry and he wanted to take us out for some Thai Noodles, so he kept saying in his aussie voice, "come on men, lets go eat some noodles". I woke up, but my travelling bussy was out like a light and wasn't budging a bit.

Finally, I said to David "I think it is funny that you keep calling us men here, since I don't feel like I have seen enough in my life to consider myself a man yet. I am only 28 and I haven't done a 1/4 of the things you have."

He laughed and said "That's pretty smart mate, let's go get some noodles".

We have remained good friends and keep in contact until this day.

I remember when I was in my 20's and many of my friends would say "Why don't you direct a movie or make your own film?". I would always say that I never had experienced much in life yet, so I never felt confident enough that I could tell a good story.

Now, at 36, I am just beginning to believe that I have stories to tell.

That in a nutshell is what I believe is the problem with young aspiring filmmakers.

Scott

Dear Scott:

What? Not enough noodles?

Josh

Name: CD
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

I agree that the state of the film industry is depressing (as well as the entertainment industry as a whole). The new younger breed of filmmaker out there is quite sad (and there are millions of them). It seems all they know how to write about is filmmaking, pop culture or their trivial problems.

Years ago, even before I met anyone that wanted to make a film about making a film, I hated the idea. I've always hated references to filmmaking or real movies in movies, even if it was only one line of dialogue. Then all of a sudden it became 'hip and cool' to do that and got out of control in the nineties. I thought it would've died down by now, but it's still running rampant in films (and scripts I read).

The idea of making a film about making a film isn't new, though you'd think that the 'new breed' thinks it is. They think it's the 'funniest' thing. All the things that can happen on a film set. Every time I hear that, I think 'yeah, only funny to other wannabe filmmakers'.

I've met 'aspiring' filmmakers on both the east and west coasts. I was stunned that on each coast, many of the filmmakers' 'best' ideas were about the 'trials and tribulations' of making a film and out of all their ideas it was this idea they were so determined to bring to fruition more than any other. Many student/independent films are about making a film.

I agree with you that if that's the best a 'filmmaker' can come up with, they should just stand on a street corner with a sign hanging around their neck that says 'I have no imagination'. Maybe you can blame it on the advice that's usually given about writing, 'write what you know'. I guess all these recent 'filmmakers' know is filmmaking and screenwriting. Scary.

I think film and filmmaking went down hill when the 'hip and cool' crowd discovered it. Blame it on Tarantino I guess.

I think I also figured out a big difference between movies made between the two 'golden ages' (30's - 70's) and today's 'movies'. The older movies had CLASS. Most newer movies don't. Many movies up into the '70's (and maybe even into the early 80's), even some of the not so good ones, had, in the least, a sense of class about them. They had a more 'serious' tone about them even when they had plenty of humor. Today's movies try too hard to be 'hip and cool' over 'classy'.

The same can be applied to the stars of yesterday and today. I don't think 'classy' when I see the likes of Sarah Michelle Gellar, Freddie Prinze jr, Jennifer Love Hewitt and Mark Wahlberg. I do think 'classy' when I see Audrey Hepburn, Cary Grant, Burt Lancaster and David Lean.

I was watching a documentary on Gregory Peck on TCM. It was interesting and revealed him to be quite the 'classy' guy who cared more about 'storytelling' than being a 'star'.

The reverse is true of today's younger stars (at least the newer breed). I began to think about stars of the older era and this era. Stars like Audrey Hepburn emit a sense of class, unlike Jennifer Love Hewitt (who actually played Hepburn in a TV movie) who certainly doesn't lack in the looks department, but certainly lacks that sense of 'class'.

The older generation of stars cared about making movies. Today's 'stars' only care about being stars. Movies are only the vehicle used to give them 'star' status.

Though you say things go in cycles (and I believe that), it seems this cycle of lameness isn't going to end anytime soon.

Where do we go from here? Can it get worse or is it so bad now that the only way it can go will be for the better? That's my question. Sorry for the long rant.

Dear CD:

Hey, this is exactly the place for such a rant. We movie geeks understand and commiserate. Old time stars like Burt Lancaster or Audrey Hepburn or Katherine Hepburn radiate intelligence as well as class. Someone like Marky Mark Wahlberg radiates lunkheaded dullness. The joke about young filmmakers making films about making films, and "writing what they know," is that they don't know anything about making films. If you've only made a few student films, you haven't got a clue, which is why you never even get an honest depiction of filmmaking. The writers and directors of the films of the 1930s, '40s and '50s had all lived interesting, varied lives, and had been journalists, playwrights, and soldiers that had fought in wars. They had real-life experience to draw on, as opposed to having done nothing else but gone to film school. And let's face facts, shall we, making movies is boring. It's basically a lot of sitting around and waiting. The other contemporary standard is stories about junkies, made by people that never had the balls to use heroin (like say Quentin Tarantino). QT is also the guy to blame for all of these lame movie and comic book references, as well as the exceptionally dull concept of non-sequitur dialog. This may seem amusing to some, but to me it's a total cop-out from writing decent characterizations or having believable motivations. Tarantino's trite dialog about movies, "Burger Royales," "TV pilots," or "Madonna's new record" simply mask his inability to write.

Josh

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

Hey Josh,

"A River Run's Through it" is one of the films I talked to Philippe about and I learned a great deal more about natural light through talking with him about that film.

I had also known that Leonetti shot "Fast Times". I have followed him and Philippe among other DP's careers since I was a teenager. We also worked with Vilmos Zsigmond here too and he was also a very nice man and of course a great DP. I asked him about his films including "Close Encounters", "The Long Goodbye", "Deliverance" and "Heaven's Gate" which he said was riddled with all sorts of problems from the beginning. He just finished another feature this year at 73 years old.

It was fun to hear him talk about his migration to America and how he got started in the business.

I remember he was talking about all the car shoots he had been doing lately and he was happy to work on a commercial with us, since he was shooting beautiful women (Victoria's Secret).

Scott

Dear Scott:

I actually spent several hours one day talking Vilmos Zsigmond. This was in 1979 and I had gone to AFI with a freind to see "The Deer Hunter," which hadn't opened yet, and Zsigmond was going to speak after the film. When we got there they were only letting in AFI fellows, so my friend went in and I was left to sit and wait for him for three hours since he had driven. I went out on the balcony to smoke a cigarette and a little, bearded Hungarian man came out and sat down. He and I talked for the entire length of the film. I asked him how he did those great follow shots of the guys shooting the rapids in "Deliverance"? He nodded and said, "Zooms." I said, "They don't look like zooms." Zsigmond smiled and said, "I know." He couldn't have been nicer.

Josh

Name: Martyn Perry
E-mail: evileyeperry@hotmail.com

Hi josh,

i've read the evil dead companion and it suggests taking a look at your running time flick with good old Brucey in it. I've managed to grab copies of your other films from here in the UK but i can't seem to find Running Time at all. Any Advice to help me get a copy of your film? All the best, Martyn.

Dear Martyn:

It was released on video and DVD in the UK, so you ought to be able to find it. You could always order it through Amazon. Apparently, the agents are just making a deal to show it on UK TV, but I don't know when that will be. Good luck and I hope you find it.

Josh

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

Dear Josh and Jean,

Jean, that is a great story about your grandfather. I have similar stories in my family as well and I agree that "Breaking Away" is a great film about regular people having regular lives like most people do.

Josh, I think that is cool that you worked with Mathew Leonetti. I have always admired him as a DP and his has also done so many different types of films. I enjoyed the film "Dead Again" which I know he shot. he has done some stinkers too, but at least he keeps working.

Oddly enough, I was just speaking to one of the DP's that shoots a lot with us and I was talking to him about getting back into shooting, but I was really reluctant due to all the competition that is out there,(We get hundreds of reels from DP's here at work) but I am getting tired of editing and I went into this business to DP.

Anyhow, the DP I was talking to said that most people now want to be a DP so they can be cool and pick up women and it has nothing to do with making good pictures or good photography.

He said, "It is about image and not photographic if you know what I mean?". I agreed with him and said this is why I shied away from the profession because all I wanted to do was make nice photography, and I did not see that happening in the film climate of the 90's and now.

BTW, one of the most down to earth DP's I have ever met and he also happens to be one of my favorites is Philippe Rousselot. He shot some of my favorite contemporary films including the British film "Hope and Glory" which is also a film about normal people set in England during the German bombings in WWII.

He worked on a few commercials we shot here.
We shot a commercial in B&W 35mm and I was honored when he asked my advice about shooting B&W Ilford stock for one of our spots.

He had never shot it before and I recommended it to him, since I had shot the 16mm stock and it is great B&W stock and I have used their still film and paper as well. It is Far better than Kodak's B&W stock.

I went on location when we were shooting and even at lunch he was asking me how I would expose the film so he could compare it to what he was doing and measure the results That was cool!

He was very nice. Not condescending at all, and we had some great conversations about other things as well. He also said that one of the most enjoyable experiences for him was working on the film "Hope and Glory".

Scott

Dear Scott:

Phillipe Rousselot also shot "A River Runs Through It," for which he won an Oscar, and it really is gorgeous. Matt Leonetti also shot "Fast Times at Ridgemont High," among many other films. His son is a DP, too. I must disagree about the Ilford and Kodak black & white stocks, though. I much prefer the look of the Kodak stock. I tested both and used Kodak for "Running Time."

Josh

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

Dear Josh,

Okay, I've been living under a rock for quite some time. I didn't know that "The Orchid Thief" was a real book, or that Susan Orlean was a real person. (Whenever I want to see a movie, I avoid all reviews of that film. 'Adaptation' is one of those movies I avoided all press for.) I thought that Charlie Kaufman had made up that entire film, and that it was pretending to be about real people. So, you mean, the film is actually what it is, but with Nic Cage playing Kaufman, for real? Okay. Now I don't like this movie nearly as much, for I thought that Kaufman had invented all of these wonderful things about orchids and LaRouche and all of that stuff. I thought they were using "The New Yorker" to give it a sense of reality. I must amend my review. It's not nearly as good as I thought, all of the best ideas were true...bummer...

Changing the subject, I loved your script for "Delirious." I read it on my lunch break the other day and laughed my ass off! It was hilarious. I watch a lot of worthless comedies, hoping for something that's more inspired like this, and I always end up disappointed. This script is much better than the teen sex movie crap that's out there these days...teen sex movies with no sex, no drugs, no rock and roll--you'd think that teenagers today just want to run for student council! Either that, or you get the depressing "too much sex and drugs but no fun" of Larry Clark or your more depressing independent features, where someone has to learn a horrible lesson, or someone has to die if they smoke weed.

Thanks for rockin'...and making me laugh.

Cindy

Dear Cindy:

I'm glad you liked it. As a little historical note, there really was a Hash Bash in Ann Arbor for many years, where hundreds of people would show up and smoke all day long out in the open. It was very cool.

Josh

Name: Jean
E-mail:

Hi Josh,

I watched "Breaking Away" for the first time ever this weekend and enjoyed it so much that I went out and bought the DVD. It was so nice to see a well made film about regular people for a change. The writing was solid and the performances were fantastic. I almost forgot what it was like to actually care about a character in a film. And what a great ending! I thought that the build up during the "Little 500" bike race to Dave's final victory was very well done. I have also grown very tired of films about superheroes and annoying, rich white people. "Breaking Away" was a simple story about an average guy from Indiana with a not so average obsession with Italian bike racing. And this simple story had me enthralled from beginning to end.

I loved the scene where Dave and his Dad are walking around the college campus at night and Paul Dooley's character points out the stone that he helped cut for the various buildings. He says to his son "I loved being a cutter and I was good at what I did". This scene said more about who his character was then anything that I have seen in recent films. Dave seemed to think that being a cutter was something that his father was ashamed of because of the stigma that surrounded the blue-collar folks in Bloomington. But he realizes in that moment that his Dad took pride in his work and his job was much more then just a paycheck to him.

It reminded me of my Grandfather who worked bridge and highway construction from the time he was 14 up until the day he died. He could figure out how much concrete and asphalt was needed for a 20 mile stretch of highway with a piece of paper and a pencil and he never made it past the 9th grade. He was very proud of the work that he did and he always pointed out the highways and bridges that he helped build. He also had a ton of hilarious and frightening stories from his construction days. When he was 36 years old he was involved in a job related accident in which both of his forearms were broken. He took less then a week off and then went right back to work with casts on both arms. When I asked him how the hell he worked with his arms in casts he said that it was not a big deal because the casts were only from his elbows to his wrists! He was a REAL man, as real as they come. So what happened to stories about people like my Grandfather? Why are we so obsessed with lawyers an

Best,
Jean

Dear Jean:

Yes, it was a good picture. Completely normal and straight-forward. That's what I miss and long for most in movies -- tell me a story I can believe that I want to hear. Peter Yates is an odd director, having gone from "Bullit" to "Breaking Away" to "The Dresser." I worked with the DP of "Breaking Away," Matthew Leonetti, a few times on commercials and he's very talented and a nice guy.

Josh

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

Dear Josh,

I thought you might be interested this month on Trio, they are running an hour and a half special on Bill Hicks the comedian. It is very good and if you haven't heard of him(Many people haven't) He was an excellent comedian who erased all boundries and he picked up where Lenny Bruce left off. Dennis Leary stole many things from his routine.

He never gained popularity in his own country(US), and it wasn't until he was selling out places in England, Canada, and Australia when his popularity sprouted once again in America later in his career. Sadly, he died of cancer at 31 in 1994.

The special is called "The Outlaw Comic-The Censorship of Bill Hicks".

Also, I went to see "Finding Nemo" on Friday and it was very enjoyable and well done. I know you have the "no kids" movie policy, but I just thought that I would like to say that I agree with Jean that it was a very good animated film. The formula was there, but it came off really well.

Lastly, a film I forgot to ask you about is "Swimming with Sharks". Have you ever seen it? I thought it was interesting, but not a great film and it was on the other night, so I watched it again. I just thought about it after all of the latest discussions here on the reality of working in Hollywood.

Scott

Dear Scott & Everyone:

I'll bet "Finding Nemo" is terrific, I just don't want to see it. I'm sure I'll eventually see it, but I'm not interested in going to the theater to see it. I'm pleased there is someone out there that can make a good, commercial film. I hope everybody has a great time with it, but that's not what I'm looking for from cinema at this time so I won't support it.

Josh

Name: John
E-mail: merrimaj@dickinson.edu

Mr. Becker,

Thank you very much for your advice about the Super-8 digital transfer question my friends and I had.

I apologize if you have answered these questions before, but I couldn't find them while perusing the lengthy archives. Do you think that the old studio system where studio heads often had complete control of movies and a stable of stars, writers and directors to choose from was better than the current, more independent system? And do you think the current system's rise has given way to more freedom for filmmakers to follow their misguided instincts uninhibited, resulting in the marked decline in quality you see in the American film industry today?

I would say "No" to both these questions, though I was curious as to what you think. Thanks for your time.

John

Dear John:

The old studio system was much freer in its own way than the congolmerate studio system is now. When someone like Darryl Zanuck or Hal Wallis assigned writers or directors to a picture, they sort of just let them make it as long as it was on budget. But twenty stupid executives didn't stick their grubby paws into every script making sure anything original or unique was removed. There was also an attitude in the old days that of the fifty pictures each studio made a year, forty were run-of-the-mill junk, but ten were going to be as good as they could possibly make them, and they actually made those ten pictures very well. So when, as an example, Darryl Zanuck hired Joseph Mankiewicz to make "All About Eve," other than making some casting choices, Zanuck let him make the film his own way. There was a respect for talent and experience which no longer exists. As gruff as Harry Cohen may have been, when he hired Howard Hawks, he respected his talent and left him alone. Zanuck and John Ford never got along, but Zanuck let Ford make his films his way. But the guys at the top had some taste and were willing to stand behind it. Men like Darryl Zanuck, Hal Wallis, Pandro Berman, and Arthur Freed actually put their names on their films and stood behind them. Even a bozo like Robert Evans, who didn't put his name on the films made at Paramount while he was there (nor should he have), actually had enough taste to not fuck them up. Now movies are just one more commodity, like pork bellies, and the bottom-line is everything. We, the film fans of the world, need to start a revolution. And the revolution will not be televised.

Josh

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

Josh,

Have you considered that one of the reasons why there are so few great stories being told at the movies is our society has reached a sort of stand-still in the last 20-30 years? It seems like there's less going on now than at any time before. The color in our sky is green, and I just don't think that there is much of interest in a society so obsessed with money. I honestly think that writers these days have very little to work with. Is it a cop out to say that we simply live in boring times? I don't see the sort of changes in society that could be remarked on a century ago. Maybe it's a coincidence, but it seems like ever since the introduction of the tv, we've had less and less interesting stories to tell. I think that, to a great extent, the television has replaced our storytelling instincts and we're becoming sort of entertainment zombies. I'm sure these thoughts are not original, but I've been traveling around the country recently and I just get this feeling that tv has completel

Jim

Dear Jim:

I've brought up the very same idea a number of times, and I put it forth in some of my essays, too. It seems to take big drama in the world to get writers to understand the meaning of drama. First the Great Depression in the 1930s, then WWII in the '40s, the Cold War in the '50s, then Vietnam in the '60s, all seemed to have a tremendous impact on the writing and storytelling of the times. It seemed like there were stories that needed to be told. Now, it's comic book super-heroes, or two young guys drive to Hollywood to make it big in the movies, or a bunch of young people sit around and complain about their sex lives and lack of personal fulfillment. Zzzzzzzzzzzz! It's like Charlie Kaufman adding himself into "Adaptation," that his pissing and moaning about how hard it is to be a writer is more interesting than the actual story about the orchid thief, and of course, he's just wrong. Learning how the Chris Cooper character lost his front teeth was 1000% more interesting than Kaufman struggling with script structure. Young people don't seem to dream of making great art, they dream of fame and fortune. So we end up in a world where any film that's a sequel or a remake has got a far greater chance of getting made than something original or simply well-written, and worse still, the movie business has become a place where being young and having no experience is more desirable than knowing what you're doing. It's all very depressing to me.

Josh

Name: Lucas
E-mail: see the archives

Dear Josh,

I wanted to chime in on "Adaptation", so here's my theory.

The main gripe people, including you (and me, for that matter), appear to have with the movie is that the it turns into a generic Hollywood movie during the third act. The screenplay is credited to Kaufman and the fictional Donald from the movie. Since the actual script is supposed to be the script the Kaufman character is working on in the movie and at one point in the film, Donald offers to help Charlie out with the script, I thought that the third act Hollywood stuff was supposed to be the "contribution" of Donald. It's exactly the kind of generic crap that, um, "The 3" is about.

I figured it was all supposed to be a surreal sort of joke, although, let's face it, it's really not that funny.

For what it's worth, I though the rest of the movie was pretty good, although I liked "Being John Malkovich" quite a bit more.

Lucas

Dear lucas:

I agree that's why act 3 is like that, but I still think it's agiant cop-out, and not particularly interesting. I thought the film really lost interest every minute it went along. The same thing for "Being John Malkovich." Kaufman starts off with an quirky, unique idea, then hasn't got a clue how to develop it or where to go. By the sixth time people had gone into Malkovich's head for good reason, then dropped out onto the side of the freeway, I became deeply bored. By the time Catherine Keener is selling trips into Malkovich's head I could have easily walked out of the film. Charlie Kaufman and Spike Jonze should be making 30-minute shorts. To me, just starting of with a sort of unique idea is not sufficient for a feature film. You really have to know how to develop it, all that stuff that Charlie is making fun of with Robert McKee (Brian Cox) in "Adaptation." He's one more writer that can't see the forest for the trees. He's rebelling against structure, but has nothing to replace it with, and ends up using the three act structure anyway, but poorly.

Josh

Name: ALAN
E-mail: Picquickstudio@aol.com

Hi Josh

Will you be providing a commentary for the forthcoming DVD release of "Hercules in the Maze of the Minotaur"?

Dear Alan:

I didn't even know it was being released. No one has contacted me about it, so I guess not.

Josh

Name: John
E-mail: merrimaj@dickinson.edu

Mr. Becker,

My friends and I are going to make a short movie, possibly using a Super8. Is there any economical way to transfer the film to a digital format for editing purposes? Thank you.

Dear John:

There are places around that can do a decent Super-8 transfer, like Yale Labs in LA, but it will never be great. Also, you really must shoot at 24 fps. as opposed to 18 fps. Personally, I'd say you would be much better off shooting 16mm negative stock, which will transfer perfectly and look terrific. If you're shooting 16mm MOS (silent), it's not very expensive and the quality is much higher. Good luck.

Josh

Name: Scott
E-mail: sspnyc66@mac.com
Dear Josh: Josh,

In reference to "Adaptation", I too believe that Chris Cooper's character was very interesting. I believed that the development of his character was done very well until the killing scene.

I thought his acting was excellent and when I do think of the film, I never even think of Kaufman and his brother, I think of the Chris Cooper character and then I think of how badly it was handled in the end and it makes me mad that there was actually an interesting character there and nothing happens. Stupid

Scott
Dear Scott:

Yes, the best stuff was certainly from the book "The Orchid Thief." That Kaufman felt the only way to make it interesting was to shove himself into it shows his utter lack of understanding of what actually is interesting. And his big rebellion against story structure shows that he's ultimately a fool.

Josh

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

Dear Josh,

I am glad someone else shares my feelings about "Adaptation". I left that film really disappointed.

There was absoultely no motivation for Meryl Streep and Chris Cooper to become killers at all!

It was a really stupid and cheap device in the film. In fact, there was nothing at all in Chris Cooper's character development that would even remotely lead to having him become some kind of ruthless killer.

None of that concept (or lack of) was in the least bit believable or useful. It ruined the film for me.

The ending of that film was the worst cop out ending I have seen in a longtime and it made the film stink. The first act was very good and then it went to shit.

I agree with you on this that Kaufman didn't have an ending for the film and it became a mess.

Scott

Dear Scott:

It's worse than not having an ending, he didn't know where he was going from early on. And it's too bad too because Chris Cooper's character is really interesting, far more interesting than the whining miserable Charlie Kaufman character, or his utterly false brother.

Josh

Name:
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

what do you think of bruce lee movies

Dear _____:

The movies themselves aren't very good, but he was great. By far the best martial arts actor so far. He has a terrific persona, and I absolutely love the way when he gets into fighting position, he then gives a little tug on his pants to make sure the seams are straight, before kicking ass. The guy had style.

Josh

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

Dear Josh,

I noted with some sadness today that Gregory Peck passed away. Besides "To Kill A Mockingbird," which of his performances did you admire best? I never really could get into him in "Roman Holiday" as far as romance, but he was pretty damn great in a hell of a lot of other movies. I still haven't seen "Big Country," though...

I noticed "Fearless" is being lobbed at you as a good movie. I must agree. Although it had a great deal more impact for me back in 1993 when I first saw it (I remember asking all of my friends to RUSH to the theater before it left, because I knew that it wouldn't be around long, it was so good), I watched it again recently and still thought it was pretty damn good--some really great scenes there. And Rosie Perez does an completely different kind of character than she had been given back in the early 90s--more of a real human being, less of a squawking Brooklynese-speaking sex object from Puerto Rico. Plus Tom Hulce is really, really slimy.

In newer film news...have you seen "Adaptation?" I know you probably don't want to have anything to do with Nic Cage after "Windtalkers," but "Adaptation" has an interesting theme of structure vs. no structure, complete with seminars on structure given by 'screenwriting experts' and whatnot--it might be interesting for you to check out. I'd be interested to know what you think--some found it ludicrous, while I found it to be enjoyable.

Take care,
Cindy

Dear Cindy:

Sad news about Gregory Peck, but he was 87, and that's a pretty healthy life-span. I loved him in "The Big Country," of course, which he co-produced with William Wyler. He was also wonderful in: "The Yearling," "Twelve O'clock High," "The Gunfighter," "Roman Holiday," "The Man in the Grey Flannel Suit," "Pork Chop Hill," "The Guns of Navarone," "Cape Fear," "To Kill a Mockingbird," "Mirage," and "The Omen."

Regarding "Adaptation," I enjoyed the first act, but after that the film fell apart as badly as any script that's ever been filmed. Act three is a disaster. From the moment we see Meryl Streep and Chris Cooper snorting green orchid cocaine, then saying (about the Kaufman bros.) "We'll have to kill them," it really couldn't get worse. The film became everything that Kaufman obviously hates, and I do, too. Nor did it have to go that way and become a "Hollywood film." It was nothing more than a cop-out on Kaufman's part because he didn't know where to go with it. I never accepted the phony, false brother bit, either. It's simple-minded and I think it flatly just didn't work. And nobody expected Charlie Kaufman, the guy that wrote "Being John Malkovich," to turn "The Orchid Thief" into an action film; he only did it because he didn't have a decent idea of where to take the story.

Josh

Name: Drew
E-mail: seaquestdsv@hotmail.com

Dear Josh:

Could you please tell me if there are any plans at releasing Lunatics: A Love Story on DVD? The video copy I own is a quite ragged ex-rental and I can never seem to find the ever-elusive laserdisc version. I am quite certain that many people would enjoy seeing the film released on DVD. Thank you for your time.

Dear Drew:

There are no plans that I know of, and no one would like to see it on DVD more than I. But I don't own the film, so it's not up to me. Thanks for being interested.

Josh

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

Hi Josh,

Have you seen or heard about a documentary on the Hollywood producer Robert Evans called "The Kid Stays in the Picture"? I saw it last night and I thought it was fabulous. Not only an amazing story but it was brilliantly put together. I learnt so much, it was amazing. What are your thoughts on the man? He sure did produce some incredible films.

Dear Tony:

No he didn't. He's not the producer on any of those great films. He was the head of production at Paramount at the time. The films he actually produced, like "Players" and "The Saint" SUCK! I read the book when it came out ten years ago and it's basically the story of this lame fuck, over-the-hill creep trying to take credit for films he didn't actually make. And their use of digital effects on the still photographs became boring very quickly. I'm sorry, but I have no respect for Evans. Evan-Picone is probably a more important aspect of his life and that was all his brother.

Josh

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

Josh,

The '"fake tough guy" Brooklyn accents in "Donnie Brasco" ain't that fake at all. I have lived in Brooklyn for about three years now and there are still plenty of people who talk like that here.

I noticed too the other day that the word "nigger" has become a new adjective with the black population here. I swear I heard it used in about 4 different ways when I was walking down the street the other day.

It can mean about 10 different things depending on the way it is used.

Spike Lee's film "Do the Right Thing" is also a pretty good depiction of certain neighborhoods in Brooklyn ( Which is where it takes place), however, this is the only Spike Lee film I have ever really enjoyed.

Luckly, I live in a pretty cool part of Brooklyn, since there are still parts like the one in Spike Lee's film.

The film "Fearless" is a very good film. I forgot about that one. You may enjoy that film Josh.

Scott

Dear Scott:

I didn't mean that people in Brooklyn sound fake, I meant that Al Pacino and Johnny Depp did. I've really got the "wise guy" thing, and I feel like I've had it since "Good Fellas." We just end up tredding the same ground over and over. I agree that "Do the Right Thing" is Spike Lee's best film by a mile, but I don't know what the hell he was trying to say. I felt like it all boiled down to the scene between Spike and Danny Aiello in front of the burnt-down pizzaria, and this was where we would learn something about why this just happened. Instead, Spike keeps demanding his money -- and we've seen he was the worst pizza delivery guy in history, stopping for hours to have sex among others things -- so Aiello gives him the money. Huh? That's it? I was lost. Is Spike Lee saying that white people owe black people money? Or if it's a black neighborhood you are supposed to burn down the white people's establishments? What are we being told? Meanwhile, I saw the film with a predominately black audience who all began to cheer when the looting of the pizzaria began and for a moment I wasn't sure I was going to get out of the theater alive. And given what a predjudiced little creep Spike is, along with all of his crappy films that followed, I've grown to dislike "Do the Right Thing," which I think it doesn't do, nor does it even know what the right thing is.

Josh

Name: Angelo Mike
E-mail: mmike10371@aol.com

Dear Josh:

Hopefully this hasn't been asked before, but I don't have the patience to read through all your archived questions, and I'm pretty new to the site.

I've got three main questions. I was curious as to what some of your favorite current directors are. One specific one whom I'd like to know your opinion of is David Fincher, partly because he's my favorite director, and partly because he says there's more good directors working now than ever, and you said on your site that there are less good movies in the last few years than ever, or something like that.

My second question is, do you watch Japanese anime? I hope you'd find that there's a lot of anime to your liking, especially the recent works of the great Hayao Miyazaki.

Thirdly and finally, do you still want to work in film? I gather from what I've read on your site that you've pretty much stopped directing.

Thank you for your time.

Dear Angelo:

I certainly do intend to keep making films and I'm brewing up my next assault right now. I do not intend to direct anymore TV unless it falls on me like bird droppings. Nor do I intend to keep duking out in Hollywood, where if all the fates smile on you you'll get to make "C.H.U.D. III." If David Fincher actually said that, and I don't doubt your veracity, he's a bigger fool than I suspected. There most definitely aren't better directors around now than there ever were, that's just plain idiocy. Who's the director around now that's better than Hitchcock, or Wyler, or Ford, or Hawks, or Curtiz, or Sturgis, or Fleming, on and on. Get real. So far I haven't liked any of Mr. Fincher movies, but I do admit he does a nice camera move now and then. To quote a friend of mine, "Seven" was "a mystery for idiots," where the cops don't figure anything out and spend the entire movie scratching their heads looking at bloody dead bodies, then very luckily for them the killer just turns himself in. "Fight Club" starts out okay, but degenerates into one of the most absurd, ludicrous stories ever filmed. When we finally see Ed Norton beating himself up I really felt we had dropped to a new low in storytelling. As for anime, as I recently said, I liked "Kimba the White Lion" when I was a kid, but that's the extent of it.

Josh

Name: Jim Kenney
E-mail:

Dear Josh:

All of Cimino's films stink? Well, I'd agree (starting with THE DEER HUNTER), but I think THUNDERBOLT AND LIGHTFOOT is actually quite offbeat and refreshing, and from what I gather, Eastwood really did lay off the kid and let him make the film he wanted...so I'd put Cimino in the category of had talent but blew it, as opposed to just plain crappy...

It's time for some capsule reviews...some other Hollywood films, of the last 10 years or so, that I liked or admired --- I'm wondering what you thought (knowing that you generally think pretty much anything recent is garbage)...

1) NOBODY'S FOOL (Paul Newman film)
2) TIN CUP
3) BOILING POINT (James Harris, Kubrick's companero when Kubrick was
still good, directed this one)
4) BITTER MOON (I know you mentioned you didn't like Polanski's recent work, but I was wondering if you saw this -- I think it's a very funny dark comedy about pointless obsession, much more coherent than the similarly themed EYES WIDE SHUT...

5) DONNIE BRASCO

6) THE SPANISH PRISONER

7) JACKIE BROWN (I'm no Tarantino apologist, I find his other stuff too self-involved, but here I actually thought, no doubt due to Elmore Leonard, that he presented real characters with real psychologies and motives)

8) FEARLESS (Peter Weir plane crash survival film)

9) MALCOLM X (I really thought Lee did a lot with a relatively little amount of money, and I generally like my epics to be about offbeat guys, like him or Lawrence of Arabia, rather than government or society approved heroes, like Ben Hur)

10) TO SLEEP WITH ANGER -- Did you see this Charles Burnett film with Danny Glover?

I'm gonna see if I can ferret out any other recent films I've enjoyed...don't get me wrong, I agree that the basic model for Hollywood entertainment these days is pretty threadbare, but I still believe between foreign, independent, and Hollywood films that generally flop when released you can still find 30-40 high quality entertainments a year...

Dear Jim:

I agree that "Thunderbolt and Lightfoot" is Cimino's best film, but I also think it's a second-rate Clint Eastwood film, at best. If the big event in your story is breaking into a safe with an anti-aircraft gun, you haven't really come up with a great story. But I did enjoy the relationship between Eastwood and Jeff Bridges. Quickly, "Nobody's Fool" was okay, if unmemorable. I bailed out on "Tin Cup," which really seemed like one more half-assed Ron Shelton sports film, none of which are particularly good, but this one seemed even lamer than the rest. I didn't see "Boiling Point." "Bitter Moon" was okay, and more watchable than most of Polanski's recent films, but still not very good, and his wife seems kind of bad and miscast. "Donnie Brasco" was purely awful, with all those phoney, tough-guy, Brooklyn accents, and just more of the tough-guy cop bullshit. "The Spanish Prisoner" seemed incredibly insignificant, was attempting to be way trickier than it actually was, and ultimately just bored me. "Jackie Brown" is just bullshit, Pam Grier is dull and miscast, the film goes on for eternity, has nothing to say, and Tarantino is dull, uninteresting director, and most Elmore Leonard's books make crappy movies. I didn't see "Fearless." "Malcom X" is fucking travesty, it redefines boring, it wasn't cheap by any means, it's so self-righteous I wanted to scream, Malcom is portrayed as one-dimensional character, and the big jitterbug dance number may very well rank as the most inappropriate musical scene ever put into a serious movie for no reason. I found the picture to be excetionally gutless given it's subject matter, and I realy and truly can't stand Spike Lee. "To Sleep With Anger" was just another run-of-the-mill, nothing picture, and Danny Glover was far too young for the part.

Josh

Name: Jean
E-mail:

Hi Josh,

Awe, come on Josh! "Finding Nemo" was far better then any "adult" films that I have seen in a long time. But I can see your point about films that are geared towards kids. Have you heard the latest Hollywood term for pre-teens? Tweens! Ya got that? Tweens! They must have stayed up all night thinking that one up. I read stuff in the trades almost everyday about the latest "Tween" movie that is about to start shooting. May God help us!

And I watched Colin Powell's speech before the U.N. Security Council. Don't forget about those helpful yellow labels that told us what we were looking at. That pile of dirt was not just a pile of dirt according to the yellow labels. That pile of dirt was a bunker containing weapons of mass destruction! Did you hear the latest news about Powell's speech? Apparently the original speech that his people prepared for him was even flimsier then the speech that he presented. Powell took one look at the speech and the pictures, shouted "this is bullshit! I can't read this"! And threw the stuff across the room. His people were scrambling to come up with some harder evidence right up until the last 30 minutes before Powell went before the Security Council. I have no idea if this story is true but I really don't have a hard time believing it either. And why the fuck does he pronounce his name colon, as in the part of your large intestine or t

Best,
Jean

Dear Jean:

I've wondered that, too. It's a rather unattractive pronunciation. But I want to know why the Democrats aren't going after Bush with all the power right now? I accept the idea of showing a united front during the war, but now we're talking about the upcoming election and the Dems haven't got dick. They should be ripping Bush to shreds, just like the Republicans did to Clinton for eight years, and for far less important reasons. Bush, Jr. has proven himself to be a criminal, just like his dear old dad, and the Democrats, if they had any brains, would be shoving this misuse of power right down his throat.

"Finding Nemo" may well be the best film of 2003, but if I pay money to see it then I'm supporting the proliferation of kid's films, and I simply won't do that.

Josh

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

Dear Josh,

I am sorry, but what I meant to say that the attacking of Iraq is one of the worst things that the American Government has done in "quite sometime" in history.

I don't believe it is the worst thing. I agree that something needed to be done about good old Saddam, however, I also stand by the fact that the American people were lied to and our Government also misguided Blair.

I believe he was as mislead as the rest of us were by the Bush administration.

Notice now how much more backlash and criticsm Blair is receiving in England post war as oppossed to Bush. Blair is actually a pretty decent leader and that is why the English are so outraged.

This is a good example of how much people here really care about the fact that they were mislead by their own government as long as the fuel prices go down for their SUV's they are happy.

I did see the Powell speech with the so called "evidence" and that is one of the reasons I have taken the stand that I have taken on this issue. All of the evidence or lack of evidence has been disputable from the get go.

I thought in the beginning: "Maybe they know something more and they are not telling Us?" I hoped that was the case, but sadly it was a debacle and we were being duped all along.

Scott

Dear Scott:

It's all inconceivable!

Josh

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

Dear Josh,

I agree with you on the Marshall Plan and the Macarthur Plan, I too believe they excellent strives towards humanity in history. I wish I could say the same for the current situation in Iraq, however, that has a much different agenda and the allegations towards the Bush admnistration are now getting messy.

I think this situation could go down as one of the worst things the American government has done in history. We shall see.

Scott

Dear Scott:

Oh, I don't know about that. Let's not lose sight of the fact that Saddam Hussein was a despot and a tyrant, and no one should shed any tears for him. It's simply that Bush, Blair, and Powell chose the wrong reasons for the war, then saw no problem with flatly lying about them. I think that's part of the official Republican platform, "Lie any time you want to." Well, lying Republican presidents certainly isn't anything new. Have we already forgotten Richard Nixon and "I am not a crook"? The bombing of Cambodia, with whom we were not even at war, was far worse than this little police action. I still feel like I'm the only person I know that actually watched Colin Powell's speech before the U.N. Security Council, where he kept showing grainy black and white satellite photos of six sandbags in the desert with a truck parked nearby, proclaiming this was an active chemical weapons factory, then adding at the end of each statement (with his slight lateral lisp), "It's indisputable!" After the third time I thought I was watching Wallace Shawn in "The Princess Bride" where he keeps stating (with his lisp), "This is inconceivable!" Until finally someone says, "I don't think you know what that word means." All 90-minutes worth of Colin Powell's evidence turned out to be highly disputable. We were also told, if anyone still remember all these months later, that Iraq had a fleet of unmanned aircraft that could drop chemical and nuclear weapons on the U.S. Where the heck are those? Buried beside the ruins of Babylon? There's also another issue going on here, which is Bush and Powell's misuse of goverment intelligence agencies for their own political ends. That sounds like grounds for impeachment to me.

Josh

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

Dear Josh,

I agree with you on the Marshall Plan and the Macarthur Plan, I too believe they excellent strives towards humanity in history. I wish I could say the same for the current situation in Iraq, however, that has a much different agenda and the allegations towards the Bush admnistration are now getting messy.

I think this situation could go down as one of the worst things the American government has done in history. We shall see.

Scott

Dear Scott:

Oh, I don't know about that. Let's not lose sight of the fact that Saddam Hussein was a despot and a tyrant, and no one should shed any tears for him. It's simply that Bush, Blair, and Powell chose the wrong reasons for the war, then saw no problem with flatly lying about them. I think that's part of the official Republican platform, "Lie any time you want to." Well, lying Republican presidents certainly isn't anything new. Have we already forgotten Richard Nixon and "I am not a crook"? The bombing of Cambodia, with whom we were not even at war, was far worse than this little police action. I still feel like I'm the only person I know that actually watched Colin Powell's speech before the U.N. Security Council, where he kept showing grainy black and white satellite photos of six sandbags in the desert with a truck parked nearby, proclaiming this was an active chemical weapons factory, then adding at the end of each statement (with his slight lateral lisp), "It's indisputable!" After the third time I thought I was watching Wallace Shawn in "The Princess Bride" where he keeps stating (with his lisp), "This is inconceivable!" Until finally someone says, "I don't think you know what that word means." All 90-minutes worth of Colin Powell's evidence turned out to be highly disputable. We were also told, if anyone still remember all these months later, that Iraq had a fleet of unmanned aircraft that could drop chemical and nuclear weapons on the U.S. Where the heck are those? Buried beside the ruins of Babylon? There's also another issue going on here, which is Bush and Powell's misuse of goverment intelligence agencies for their own political ends. That sounds like grounds for impeachment to me.

Josh

Name: Geoffrey
E-mail: way2crackulating@hotmail.com

Dear Josh:

Wow! thanks for getting back to me so bloody fast.

In regards to "Everybody Wins"

The Fusion of characters shows that no matter how little one knows another the effect can be tremendous. I can see how you or others wouldn't like this film. On my first viewing I didn't either, But there was something that pulled me back within the material of the film. Even on my seond viewing of the film it failed on many levels but again there was a whole new bunch of things that drew me back in again. On my third viewing it worked in a totally different and new way then maybe I had hope or expected or even sadly tried to force to be on previous viewings. For one it really isn't a detective film or a whodunit. Sure these are major aspects of the plotline, but they act as plot arcs to create more meater character development. Even the title "Everybody Wins" suggests double and triple meanings like "The Good, The Bad and The Ugly" there's an honesty to it, an underlining sarcasism to it and a truth to it. The Function of the plot acts only as a device to get you more involved with

"Desperate Hours" Don't ge me wrong it's good and all but I just so happend to be a major Michael Cimino fanboy here not to mention Mickey as well and I think the remake is better. As for the others "Detective Story," "Carrie," and "Friendly Persuasion," there all on my 'Super too get list' thanks.

Dear Geoffrey:

I'm sorry, but Cimino can't hold a candle to Wyler and Mickey Rourke stands no comparison to Humphrey Bogart. Anthony Hopkins and Fredric March can stand comparison, both are fine actors. But Cimino is really the bottom of the barrel. He's a crappy filmmaker and all of his movies stink.

Josh

Name: Jean
E-mail:

Hi Josh,

I really enjoyed your latest review although I have not seen any of those films and don't plan on seeing them either. You made the exact same point about Hitler that my high school German language teacher Mr. LeBlanc made. He said, something like, Hitler was a man of flesh and blood just like you and I and so were all of the Germans that followed him and his party. That statement hit me like a ton of bricks at the time and it has stuck with me ever since. He also inspired me to read "Inside the third Reich" by Albert Speer. I remember being so enthralled by Speer's book that I would keep it in my lap during math, science class etc. so I could kind of look like I was paying attention when I was actually reading the book.

On a lighter note. I saw "Finding Nemo" this weekend and really enjoyed it. As a matter of fact, it was the best time I have had at the movies in ages. I thought that the visuals in the film were absolutely beautiful. The story was sappy at times but as a whole it flowed very well. There were some truly funny moments and the animation was just awe inspiring at times. The theater was packed with rowdy kids who went dead silent as soon as the film started. They laughed and cheered and got into the movie in a major way. It was a pretty cool thing to witness.

I hope all is well with you and I hope that you can get another film in the works soon!

Best,
Jean

Dear Jean:

I've got a permemant ban on all kid's films. "Finding Nemo" may actually be good, but I'm not interested.

Josh

Name: Lester
E-mail: lmedley@vci.net

Dear Josh:

I thouroghly enjoyed the Hercules and Xena series. My question, have you read the 'Black Company' novels by Gelnn Cook? I would love to see a TV series in the vein of the Xena /Hercules type done with this material. It would be just the thing for Renaissance to tackle. IMHO you guys are the only ones who could do it.

Dear Lester:

No, I've never read or heard of them.

Josh

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

Mr. Becker,

I searched your archives first and did not notice you addressing the question, but your recent reviews of Windtalkers, We Were Soldiers, and Hitler: The Rise of Evil made me curious as to what you thought of Band of Brothers if you've seen it. I'm rather immersed in the story and am enjoying it, especially the interviews with the survivors of the 101st that precedes each episode. I found that you thought that the look of the miniseries was cliched, but other than that, what did you think? I realize you have an aversion to Spielberg (as a director at least), but that you have also enjoyed some recent HBO original productions. Thank you for your time.

Nate

Dear Nate:

I watched the first three episodes and I didn't like it. The only interesting character was David Schwimmer as the insane Jewish drill instructor, which was a tad over-the-top. Otherwise, all of the men are severely underwitten and just plain old dull. I also hated the direction, with all of that shaky hand-held camerawork combined with the angled-shutter blurriness, I found it somewhat headache-inducing. The episode where they take out the artillery was so confusingly directed that I never knew what was going on.

Josh


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