Monday, December 15, 2008

Blog Talk with Emily Blake – A Look Back at 2008!

Uhh, what’s a “blog talk?”

I do this at the end of every year. I love it! I get to talk with another blogger about the year’s slate of films and the state of screenwriting in general. And this year, I invited the always fabulous
Emily Blake to have a blog talk with me! Woo hoo! If you don’t know Emily, she is a teacher, filmmaker, blogger, writer of great zombie scripts (I read one), and potential ass kicker (she knows martial arts).

So here’s what we’ll do. I’ll write a few general thoughts, and then Emily will respond with whatever she feels inspired to write about, and we’ll go back and forth for a total of two articles each.

Hope you enjoy it.



My first question to you, Emily, is how did you feel about 2008 in terms of screenwriting in general and the movies that were released?

One word to describe my own personal feelings: Sigh...

It’s a travesty, this whole pitiful slate of films that came out this year. I would’ve done more script reviews, but I would’ve sounded like a broken record – bad endings, lack of tension, and weak characters. Is the best thing we could come up with all year a damn comic book film? Years from now, people will look back at 2008 and shake their heads in disbelief and ask, “Where were the great filmmakers? Where were the great writers? Where were the great visionaries and storytellers?” We, as an industry, have become like so many other industries - lazy, greedy, corrupt, and complacent. Ignorance knows no bounds in our industry. They’re all thinking the wrong thoughts, asking the wrong questions, writing the wrong notes, and all the while greenlighting all the wrong films for all the wrong reasons.


You’ll have to cheer me up, Emily, or perhaps prove me wrong, because I’ve lost a bit of faith. I’ve gone to fewer movies this year than ever before, and I’m cranky. They couldn’t get either Indiana Jones or James Bond right. What the hell? I’ve had to turn to the master filmmakers (mostly old, foreign, and dead) in order to experience some kind of great film I hadn’t seen before. Right now, I should be blogging about the best new films of the world, and I got nothing. Richard Corliss of Time came out with his
Top 10 Films, one of which was actually a 2007 film, and number 9 was Speed Racer. Are you kidding me? Where’s the fucking passion? Where’s the push and drive to be great? I don’t believe it’s possible to compile an adequate list of 10 truly great films of 2008.

Consider this sobering list:
The Top 100 Worst Movies of 2008. A few years from now, the world will marvel about NOT the great films of 2008 but how 2008 produced the worst reviewed films in the history of cinema like The Hottie and the Nottie, 88 Minutes, The Happening, 10,000 B.C., My Best Friend’s Girl, or Disaster Movie.


Tell me, what’s good out there right now?



Kevin said...

This year wasn't so bad. I saw some great films.

The summer fare alone was great. Wall-E, Iron Man, The Dark Knight, Kung Fu Panda, The Strangers, Cloverfield, In Bruges, Tropic Thunder, Pineapple Express, Let the Right One In ...

Kevin said...

Oh, and in response to your thoughts -- yep, the industry is cannibalising itself. It is sad the amount of remakes, adaptations, sequels and worst of all -- prequels on offer now. It won't be changing anytime soon either. My writing partner and I had a connection with The Donner Comp. We were all excited for them to read out original spec, they outright refused to consider the material because it's not based on an existing property. That is their company policy now, unfortunately. So this is how retarded the industry has become? Anything without a built in fan base is no longer a viable entity.

It's beyond words, really.

Also, MM, if you felt '08 was bad -- '09 looks much, much worse.

DavidM said...

I got Richard Corliss' back on this; Speed Racer is a marvel.

crowmagnumman said...

I agree. This year was pretty sucky overall. But we got Dark Knight. And despite Rambo's bad acting and writing and overuse of shaky-cam, I still found it to be one of the better modern action films.

Deaf Brown Trash Punk said...

are you guys crazy? I thought we got some amazing new films out this year... hellooo? Slumdog Millionaire, MILK, The Wrestler, The Dark Knight, Tropic Thunder, etc.. but of course, we all have different opinions on what movies are good and what movies suck.

but Kevin is right-- we've had way too much remakes, adaptations, and sequels. it makes my heart ache.

oh god... prequels, too?!?! Barf.

terraling said...

I'd second 'In Bruges', maybe not an all-time classic, but I liked it just as much as, say, last year's Juno. High concept ("Irish gangsters in Belgium") with a witty script that actually managed to make the inclusion of a dwarf integral to the story and not just for spectacle.

Matt said...

MM, did you see CHOP SHOP? It not only reaffirmed my belief in movies, but in people. It is, without a doubt, one of the best movies I've ever seen, and it should be on the top of every single critics and Top 10 lists out there. I think if you saw it, your opinion on 2008 movies would be different.

Christian M. Howell said...

Some of the reviews for the Top 100 Worst were FUNNY!!

Righteous Kill: You get to see two living legends fall on their faces for the price of one.

The Bucket List: A movie about not one but two men with a terminal illness that is so bad you wish they would hurry up and die.

Penelope: Christina Ricci dons a prosthetic pig's nose as a woman bearing the brunt of her family's curse. The curse can be broken only when Ricci sacks the agent advising her to take films like this.

Jumper: Samuel L. Jackson valiantly attempts to look menacing while wearing what looks like a white rubber bathing cap on his head.

Superhero Movie: A “parody movie” that parodies Spider-Man, Batman and X-Men. By parody, of course, I mean copying the original movie and inserting lots of fart jokes

Death Race: Apparently, the only navigators with map-reading skills equal to the task are half-naked supermodels contractually obliged to synchronise their breasts and buttocks in bouncy slow-motion

88 Minutes: There are so many things wrong with this Al Pacino vehicle that it’s difficult to know where to start. The fact that it’s nearly 30 minutes longer than the title suggests is as pertinent a place as any

Wow. I guess writers have two choices:
Fell bad and give up or feel bad and keep going.

Anonymous said...

My favorites for 2008:
2. 4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days
3. The Dark Knight
4. Cloverfield
5. Son of Rambow (technically 2007, opened in US in 2008)

Lucy said...

I've only seen three films I've liked more than "meh" in about five years and those were Cloverfield, The Brave One and Children of Men, so I agree MM.

More to the point however, why haven't you talked TO ME?


I thought we were having a cyber love affair and everything...

Matt said...

"I've only seen three films I've liked more than "meh" in about five years and those were Cloverfield, The Brave One and Children of Men, so I agree MM."

I think I see the problem, Lucy. And I mean no disrespect. But those films are:

Cloverfield-Decent idea, poor execution. Still exciting at times. But the characters could've died within ten minutes and I would've been happy. They were annoying. Zero tension because I just didn't care about anybody.

The Brave One-Terrible movie. Lame plot, horrible writing. Bad ending. I paid for the sunuvabitch on Comcast on Demand and really struggled to watch the whole thing. One of the few times a Jodie Foster performance hasn't engaged me in the slightest.

Children of Men-Brilliant film. Not the best of the year it came out in, but still pretty damn great.

I agree with Deaf Brown. There have been some great movies this year.

Crumbs said...

There were some really good films this year; it's just that almost none of them played the mainstream cinema circuit.

Mystery Man said...

Hehehe... A little drama never hurt no one!

I knew when you guys were leaving these comments that Emily would talk about In Bruges and it's next in my queue.

Lucy - We'd have to do something really exciting. Let me think about it.


Lucy said...


I'm intrigued.

Remember I'm high class and very demanding ; )

David Kassin Fried said...

I think you're being unfair. There's nothing wrong with a great comic book movie. Although Iron Man was overshadowed by The Dark Knight, I think it was outstanding.

That said, why is everyone so crazy about Wall-E? It was okay, but it was also predictable and formulaic. Pixar has been re-making the same movie over and over again, just with different non-human characters. Next year it'll be a book that has to read itself in order to learn a major life lesson, and the year after that a towel that desperately wants to be a bathrobe. Come on, Pixar, try something new.

Mystery Man said...

David - Well, you know, a few unfair statements and a little drama is not a bad way to start a blog talk. Hehehe... I saw Wall*E a second time around and wasn't as impressed. In a good (or even average) year for cinema, that film wouldn't even be a contender.


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