Saturday, May 31, 2008

The Films of Stanley Kubrick


Hey guys,

In addition to the the wonderful vid above, which is courtesy of
Barringer82, I've also shamelessly copied links to many of the fantastic essays on The Kubrick Site, managed by Roderick Munday. I've read most of them, and I can guarantee you that these are joyous, sumptuous, cinematic thoughts for any Kubrick fan.

Happy weekend reading!



Excerpt from
Cinema 2: The Time Image by Gilles Deleuze
Excerpts from
The Wolf at the Door: Stanley Kubrick, History, and the Holocaust by Geoffrey Cocks
The Country of the Mind in Kubrick's Fear and Desire by Jason Sperb
The Herd & Self-Reflexiveness by David Gerrard
On Viewing The Killing by Jules N. Binoculas
Three Essays on Spartacus by Duncan L. Cooper
Two Views of Lolita by Robert Stam and Thomas Allen Nelson
A Commentary on
Dr. Strangelove by Brian Siano
Kubrick's Psychopaths by Gordon Banks
Just what the Doctor Ordered... by Jeremy Boxen
Dr. Strangelove by Sharon Ghamari-Tabrizi
Kubrick and The Fantastic by Michel Ciment
2001 and the Motif of The Voyage by Claudia Zimny
Margaret Stackhouse's
Reflections on 2001
2001: A Progressive Analysis by Sandra Venturini
2001: A Cold Descent by Mark Crispin Miller
2001: A critical analysis of the film score by Dariusz Roberte
2001 and the Philosophy of Nietzsche by Don MacGregor
Some Thoughts on 2001 by Roderick Munday
Design & Meaning in 2001 by Mark Martel
Extracts from "Moonwatcher's Memoir" by Arthur C Clark & Dan Ricter
Comparing 2001 and '2010' by John Morgan
The Case for Hal's Sanity by Clay Waldrop
2001: Random Insights by Barry Krusch
2001's "Hotel Sequence" by Derek Rose
The Clockwork Orange Controversy by Christian Bugge
UK Clock ticks again for Kubrick's Orange by James Howard
A Clockwork Naartjie: Censorship of Kubrick in SA by Craig Clarke
The Cultural Productions of A Clockwork Orange by Janet Staiger
The Aestheticization of Violence by Alexander Cohen
Barry Lyndon Reconsidered by Mark Crispin Miller
Kubrick's Anti Reading of "The Luck of Barry Lyndon" by Mark Crispin Miller
Barry Lyndon: The Shape of Things to Come by Bilge Ebiri
Narrative and Discourse in Barry Lyndon by Michael Klein
Reappraising Kubrick's The Shining by Brian Siano
Thoughts On Reading Kubrick's The Shining by Kian Bergstrom
Historicism in The Shining by Frederic Jameson
Kubrick, King, and the Ultimate Scare Tactic by Michael Dare
Full Metal Jacket as Genre Film by Brian Siano
Full Metal Jacket by Bill Krohn
Introducing Sociology:
An analysis of Eyes Wide Shut by Tim Kreider
Eyes Wide Shut and the Lacanian Real by Slavoj Zizek


Debate and discussion:

Regarding Full Metal Jacket, a Newsgroup Discussion
Ryan O'Neal as Barry Lyndon, a Newsgroup Discussion
The 'Youth Culture' of 2001, a Newsgroup Discussion
Stanley Kubrick and Modernism a Newsgroup Discussion
The Jungian Thing: Duality in Full Metal Jacket, a Newsgroup Discussion
Kubrick and the Individual by Barry Krusch & Harry Mehlman
Dr. Strangelove's 'Erection' by Alec Kerala-Lee & J. Kastorf
Barry Lyndon: Passion's Epitaph by Geoffrey Alexander & Bilge Ebiri
The Shining and Transcendence by Tim Fulmer & Rod Munday


Reviews and Press Materials

Brian Siano reviews LoBrutto's "Kubrick: A Biography"
"Psychedelic Fascism" / The Hechinger Debacle
Harvard Crimson Review of 2001 (1968)
After Man by Penelope Gilliatt
Reviews of 2001 by Joseph Gelmis
Three Perspectives on 2001 by Morris Beja et al.
Apeman, Superman by Leon Stover
A Review of 2001 by
Ed Emshwiller
A Review of 2001 by
Samuel R. Delany
A Review of 2001 by
Lester Del Rey
Roger Ebert's
1968 Review of 2001 from the Chicago Sun-Times
NPR covers a showing of
Fear and Desire in New York
From '
The Daily Telegraph' (London) by Quentin Curtis
Barry Norman in the '
Radio Times' (UK), June 1996
Kael on The Shining (Excerpts)
Kael on A Clockwork Orange
Bill Blakemore on The Shining
Jack Kroll on The Shining


Interviews and Depositions

Michel Ciment's three interviews with Stanley Kubrick
Kubrick's 1969 Interview with
Joseph Gelmis
Strick & Houston's Interview with Kubrick
Penelope Gilliatt's Interview with Kubrick
Kubrick's Essay
Words and Movies
2001 Diary (Excerpts) from The Lost Worlds of 2001
Anthony Burgess on A Clockwork Orange, excerts from his autobiography.
Ian Watson Plumbing Stanley Kubrick, full text of his Playboy article.
Frederick I. Ordway's
2001 in Retrospect
Notes on Film
"Rolling Stone" Interview by Tim Cahill
Kubrick on Kieslowski: his
Introduction to Decalogue
Michael Herr's
Forward to Full Metal Jacket
Alex North's Comments on his own score for 2001
Terry Southern recalls Dr. Strangelove
Interviews with
Kubrick's Colleagues by Michel Ciment
An Interview with
Dan Richter
An Interview with
Julian Senior
An Interview with documentary filmmaker
Paul Joyce

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Sydney Pollack, 1934 - 2008

I admired the hell out of Sydney Pollack. He was the shadow man of directors. He was never the kind of guy that would impose his own visual stamp on a film like a Scorsese or a Spielberg. With Pollack, story and characters always came first. When you watch one of his films, you walk away with vivid memories about the characters and the story, and you may not realize this came from the same man who gave you Three Days of the Condor or Tootsie or Out of Africa.

In the wake of his recent death, there has been
a litany of articles about him, but in a time like this, I’d rather spend time with the man himself. I’d rather watch his films or hear HIM talk in interviews. Thus, I’d like to share the video above, probably one of the best interviews available on the web where he spends roughly 40 minutes talking with Charlie Rose about not only The Interpreter, which he was promoting at the time, but he also spends time talking about the craft of filmmaking, and about 70’s films, and about how difficult it is to do a comedy or write a screenplay, or the difficulties of a thriller.

Hope you enjoy it.


Monday, May 26, 2008

50 Flaws of Indy IV

On January 17, 2007, Indy IV screenwriter, David Koepp, said, “I’m going to get my ass handed to me on some level, even by my fellow filmmakers or the audience.”

And so on this day, May 26, 2008, I, Mystery Man, will now officially hand David Koepp his ass:

(That’s my butler – Baremore. And I'm not even going to explain how we got David's ass. Hehehe…)


50 Flaws of Indy IV

** Total Spoilers **

1) Indy – The problems begin with Indy. Manohla Dargis suggested
in her review that the film was a half-hearted effort on the part of Spielberg because he seemed bored with the material. How does one get that impression from a film? I would submit to you that the entire enterprise felt half-hearted simply because Indy was under-motivated. An Indiana Jones film does not hang its hat on the McGuffin but rather Indy’s motivation. The McGuffin doesn’t matter. What matters is how important that McGuffin is to Indy. If Indy wants an artifact more than anything, then the audience will want him to have it more than anything. It’s that simple. Indy should've gone to get the skull because HE wanted to get the skull, and was always fascinated by the skull, and couldn’t wait to get his hands on it - NOT because Oxley and some woman named “Mary” were kidnapped. We don’t know who Oxley or “Mary” is so we don’t really care, and the adventure begins on a half-hearted, uninspired note. We cared in Raiders because Indy WANTED the Ark. We cared in TOD because we saw the dying village and Indy WANTED to get the stones for them. We cared in LC because we met his Dad, albeit briefly, in the opening flashback sequence before we learned about his disappearance. Some professor and some woman we never knew and haven’t seen is missing? Who cares?

2) Indy said that he and Oxley “used to be obsessed” about the skulls. A more compelling motivation would’ve been, very simply, that Indy was STILL obsessed about the skulls, that it was his latest and greatest passion, that he would love to find one, and he takes off to get it. But here, his motivations are muddled and confusing. Does he want to save Oxley and Mutt’s mom as a courtesy to this kid he's never met before or does he want the skull? Does he even care about the skull?

3) Another ridiculously under-motivated moment with Indy came right before the Third Act climax. After having gone over those 3 waterfalls, Indy tells the gang that he has to return the skull. Why? “Because it told me to.” How half-hearted and ridiculous is that? Are you kidding me? Indy should’ve WANTED to return the skull because HE personally wanted it to happen. Period. All of this under-motivation (or confusing multiple motivations) of Indy points to a bigger problem and that is, the filmmakers themselves were never fully committed to their own McGuffin. It's as if they brought back Marion as an excuse to have an adventure despite the McGuffin, because they were too embarrassed about it. It's almost as if Spielberg is purposely trying to distance himself from the younger Spielberg who believed in aliens and made a movie about a man who left his wife and children to fly away on an alien spaceship. Hey, look. If you're going to tell an Indiana Jones story, you have to be fully committed to your McGuffin regardless of what it is. Indy has to care deeply about that McGuffin. He has to WANT IT. BADLY. If Indy's fully committed to wanting an artifact, the audience will be, too, and happier when they walk out of the theater.

4) The Warehouse - If Indy knew what the Russians were looking for and how to find it, why did he later ask the FBI agents what was in the box? If he didn’t know what was IN the box, how did he know the box had magnetic properties? He does sorta explain this dilemma in the interrogation scene. He tells the FBI agents a tale about being thrown on a bus in the middle of the night, seeing mutilated bodies, and being told not to say anything. He revealed nothing about his experience with the box and knowing about its properties. The fact that we even have to endure a convoluted piece of verbal exposition about what happened in order to explain how Indy knew about a box and its magnetic properties without knowing its contents is weak screenwriting.

5) Skulls - Correct me if I’m wrong. Indy said in the diner that there were 13 skulls. He found one in Peru, and Spalko obtained another one at the warehouse, right? But there were already 12 in the chamber that needed 13. That's 14 skulls. Then Spalko says later that more skulls were found in Russia and other places. Then why did she need the one in the warehouse? What was the point of the warehouse sequence? What was the point of Indy saying that there were only 13 skulls? How did they know that the skull in the warehouse WASN’T the important 13th skull that needed to be returned? Indy films were a lot of things, but confusing was never one of them.

6) FBI - The subplot with the FBI went unresolved and had nothing to do with the main plot. You would’ve thought that we had that interrogation scene with the FBI agents because the U.S. government would continue to spy on Indy around the world and that this would’ve played a part in the Third Act climax after which Indy’s name would be cleared. But, no. Those scenes were pointless except to perhaps make statements about government witch-hunting, which has already been made more brilliantly in other films. Indy’s name is, presumably, cleared in the end, because he’s reinstated at the college, but we never know how or why this happened. A horribly under-developed subplot.

7) And let me also add that the FBI agents and the General are 3 wasted characters, and that's sloppy writing. What’s the point of this subplot if we’re only going to see these characters once? At least the government guys made a re-appearance at the end of Raiders.

8) Mac - I question the point of Mac’s character. The idea of a double-crossing sidekick is great fun, but he was never put to good use. In fact, they totally gave the game away in the very beginning with Mac's betrayal at the warehouse. He turns on Indy before we ever had a chance to get to know the guy. Hence the quick, yet forced dialogue outside the warehouse about their long history together. Forced exposition like that does not help the surprise of Mac’s betrayal. Spending time with a character is what gives us the emotional punch of a betrayal. Not only that, Mac turns on Indy in the least dramatic moment. The Russian army never needed Mac to save them. Of course, Mac HAD to turn on Indy in the warehouse sequence so that, in the next few scenes, Indy would be under suspicion by the FBI for a subplot that never gets fleshed-out or resolved. They should've saved the twist of Mac’s betrayal for the ending. As it is, the scenes with Spalko following the red-light blinking thingees were boring because we KNEW Mac was leaving them. Where's the surprise and tension in that?

9) Why was Mac in Peru? Presumably, it’s a conspiracy of the most absurd kind. I think I understand. Try to follow me. The Russians let Marion mail the letter to her son with the instructions to take the letter to Indy so that he will go on the hunt to obtain the 13th skull. And the Russians knew that Indy took on this challenge because they saw Mutt with Indy in the diner, and thus, they sent Mac to Peru to follow them. But Mac’s already betrayed Indy. That makes it an even bigger risk to the Russians to have him there. Why not send some anonymous spy? Why was Mac even in Peru? Didn’t he get paid off for the warehouse job? Shouldn’t he be on holiday? Since when did Russians pay?

10) Funny that Mac didn’t die in that crushing head-on collision in the warehouse, which involved THREE vehicles when that third truck rammed into back of what was Indy’s jeep.

11) Diner Scene - the exposition in the diner scene was the worst in the franchise. This was the most amateurish rock-bottom handling of exposition that could have been written. It was two talking heads in a diner. That's it. Remember how visual the exposition was in the Raiders setup with the big book and the chalkboard and the talk about the Well of Souls? That's great exposition. That was exciting! In TOD, we had the visual of the dying village. In LC, at least we had the visuals of dad's journal. Here, it's just two talking heads. And Spielberg had to add those visual flourishes of Mutt toying around with the coke and beer to keep the scene from being boring and visually lifeless. One of the bedrock principles of screenwriting: show, don’t tell.

12) There was also too much exposition in the diner scene. We had the rather convoluted and confusing backstory of Oxley, how Oxley’s important to Mutt, the kidnapping of Oxley, the kidnapping of his mother, the letter, and also heaping amounts of exposition from Indy about the skulls. It was too much. Indiana Jones films were a lot of things, but they never had to do a lot of explaining about anything. It would’ve been much easier if he had said very simply, “My Mom’s Marion Ravenwood, and she’s missing.” This would’ve given Indy a stronger motivation that could’ve excited audiences. We would’ve anticipated this great reunion, and we wouldn’t have had to listen to chunks of exposition to get around a surprise everyone saw coming since the day Shia’s casting was announced. Besides, even if some in the audience were actually surprised by her return, how many times are you going to be surprised by that twist? Only once.

13) Indy tells the Crystal Skull story to Mutt in the diner almost dismissively (“It's just a story, kid”) even though he just helped the Russians find one in the warehouse… in a box that he didn’t know about but somehow knew it had magnetic properties.

14) What was the point of the scorpion sting on Mutt's hand? Shouldn't that have led to something else? Or a setup to a joke of some kind later? By the way, David, scorpions STING, they don't BITE. I seriously doubt Indy would've made that little verbal mistake.

15) Discovering the Skull - Two problems with Indy finding the skull. First, you make the whole experience and joy of discovery less special (or not special at all) if it’s a tomb that Indy doesn’t discover for the first time and if it’s an artifact that Indy isn’t the first to find. Here, the tomb's already been raided, the artifact was found, taken, and put back for Indy to find later. That’s ridiculous. That pulls the rug out from all the fun of watching Indy do what he does best.

16) The second problem is that the discovery of the skull was too simple and too easy. He handed a corpse to Mutt and flipped up some fabric. Are you kidding me? Consider the past films and all the great care that went into the revealing of the all-important McGuffin, which was always made as special as possible for the audience.

17) Consider how the metal objects of the warehouse trailed behind the skull, which was wrapped up inside a lead container inside a wooden box. If the skull was behind the corpse’s head in Peru, why wasn't all the gold lying RIGHT NEXT to the corpse all over the head?

18) How did Oxley, of all people, get past the graveyard guardians? Plus, who did they work for? And who did their wardrobe and make-up?

19) Dialogue - WAY too much confusing dialogue in Act Two while they were searching for Oxley. There were too many double-meanings of words, which is beneath the caliber of an Indy film. I didn't understand much of it on my first viewing. The scene in the tomb should’ve ended almost immediately after they found the skull, but they just kept talking and talking. That was a bad pacing misstep.

20) The skull looked like cheap plastic filled with Saran Wrap. There was no discernible rhyme or reason to its properties except that they were carefully designed to save Indy whenever he was in trouble.

21) Irina Spalko - She was the worst and weakest of the villains. She wasn’t even as ruthless as Julian Glover. Koepp cock-blocks every opportunity to make her a great villain. First, he should've established early just how BAD she really is. The worst thing she ever did was whip out her sword. I would’ve been happier if, instead of Mac betraying Indy in the warehouse, Spalko kills Mac to prove that she meant business. The fact that Spalko couldn't communicate with the skull was another misstep, in my opinion. Her mental connection to the skull would've raised the stakes and turned her into a more dangerous antagonist. Also, why make Spalko a psychic if A) she can’t even read Indy’s mind and B) nothing else develops from it? Her psychic abilities, I guess, was her motivation to obtain the skull’s power of mind, but she was so weak as a villain that I never felt she deserved what she got in the end. (I get the sense that they made her a soft villain so they wouldn’t offend today’s Russians, but to make her weak would be even more offensive, would it not? Besides, there is nothing worse in an Indy film than an under-motivated protagonist and a soft villain.)

22) Marion - We never got the sense that Marion was ever in real danger. Consider how quickly and simply Marion was in danger in the bar scene in Raiders.

23) I never once believed that Marion would not have told Indy about their son. The only reason she didn’t tell him was because a contrived plot forced her to do so and we can have a special moment in a sandpit.

24) Why was Indy helping the Russians? Wouldn't he have told them one thing to send them on the wrong path while he goes off to do something different? Wouldn't that be more in his character? The fact that Indy was asking for help when only the Russians were around (and they always complied) just made them even LESS formidable as foes. Could you imagine Indy asking the Thuggees for help?

25) Mutt - I never once believed that Mutt, a supposedly tough 50's teen rebel, would've been so emotional about Oxley – even more so than for his own mother who's in just as much danger as Oxley.

26) The fact that Mutt was able to surprise a trained Russian army by pushing over a table, pushing them back with the table, and throwing down a lantern was beyond implausible.

27) Why did Indy tell Oxley to “get help” when he and Marion were in the sandpit? The only humans within a square mile were armed Russians actively searching for Indy. And Mutt already went to get help. Indy would’ve known better. Besides, they were surrounded by trees. Why didn't they just grab a nearby branch? I’ll tell you why. Because the screenplay called for a contrived slapstick moment with a snake that was too forced and unbelievable to get real laughs.

28) Early Reviewers - I’d like to give a shout-out to
ShogunMaster who wrote that scathing early review. He took a lot of heat for that in the media. David Poland at Movie City News described him as “one idiot.” There were actually 3 reviews, David. Try to keep up. The thing is, ShogunMaster was right. All of his complaints about lack of tension were not only spot on but also echoed by many other top critics, including Robert Wilonsky, Joe Morgenstern, James Berardinelli, and the great Manohla Dargis who said she was “bored out of her mind.” Here’s a perfect example of this film's lack of tension. How can there be any tension leading up to the Third Act when Indy has the McGuffin in his possession and he’s doing what the Russians want him to do (without forcing him to do it) and he’s also doing what the skull wants him to do? What the hell does Indy want? When we get into the chamber, he strangely changes his mind when Spalko puts the skull on the alien’s body. If anything, the Russians should’ve obtained the skull in the chase sequence, captured Indy and the gang, and they all marched up to the chamber together. Indy could’ve known what would happen if the skull is returned, DIDN’T want to see that happen, and tries to stop Spalko from doing it. THAT, my friends, creates TENSION.

29) Nothing, and I mean NOTHING, about the Third Act climax and the aliens made any sense to me. How did the 13 become one? Why do they become one? What was the “gift” exactly? Melting Spalko?

30) I actually didn't like the exchanges between Marion and Indy. It was all too angry, on-the-nose, and not much fun for me. Marion’s return was just a ridiculously contrived fanboy concept, and I believe
Jeb Stuart’s wedding (and the surprise appearance of Marion and Willy in a bar afterwards) would’ve played better with audiences.

31) So Indy, Marion, and Mutt are prisoners in the back of a truck, which of course, they manage to escape from AGAIN by suddenly kicking everybody. Question - why would Russians have a bazooka stored in a truck transporting prisoners?

32) The Chase - Ebert had
a funny observation: “We get such sights as two dueling Jeep-like vehicles racing down parallel roads. Not many of the audience members will be as logical as I am and wonder who went to the trouble of building parallel roads in a rain forest.” Actually, Ebert’s wrong. There shouldn't have been ANY roads, because the sequence began with that monster vehicle cutting up the rainforest and paving the way for the convoy behind it. After Indy blew it up, they should've been on foot or turned the truck around and went back.

33) Nearly everyone made this complaint and it’s true - excessive, bloated CGI. I hated those stupid prairie dogs. The "big damn" CGI ants would've never worked. In Raiders, you felt tension with Indy fighting around that plane because it was a real, physical plane. You'll never feel that same kind of tension with CGI ants, which frankly betrayed years of promises to fans about no CGI.

34) No blood. Anywhere. Just a bit in the Soviet soldier's mouth before he toppled into the ants. That was it. Hardly any bullet holes in the dead Indians and no blood after the soldiers got gunned down in the beginning. This was the most cartoonish, fake, sanitized Indiana Jones film ever made and one that should’ve been PG instead of PG-13.

35) The sword fight between Mutt and Spalko was pointless and failed to advance the story in any way. Mutt was given what amounts to a razor burn and that’s it. Mutt’s talent for sword-fighting was fed to us via bad verbal exposition. If a character has a particular skill that the audience needs to know about, then that skill better be used to advance the story in some meaningful way, not so that we can have a 10-second sword fight on top of two moving cars that has no affect on the outcome of this giant “tent pole” chase sequence.

36) Shia swinging from vines was the dumbest idea in not only the entire Indiana Jones franchise but also the Spielberg canon. It’s worse than the high bar crap in Lost World, which by the way was also written by David Koepp. But even worse than that is the simple fact that Indiana Jones did NOTHING in the big chase sequence. All the action was handed to Mutt. Tell me: whose movie is this? Indy’s or Mutt’s?

37) Oxley - What was with the funny-sounding rod that Oxley was playing with the first time we see him, which is presented to us as if it has some kind of significance and then is quickly forgotten?

38) Here's
Ebert again: “At his advanced age, Professor Oxley tirelessly jumps between vehicles, survives fire and flood and falling from great heights, and would win on 'American Gladiator.' Relationships between certain other characters are of interest, since (a) the odds against them finding themselves together are astronomical, and (b) the odds against them not finding themselves together in this film are incalculable.”

39) I also wholly agreed with
James Berardinelli: “Unfortunately, not only is the level of tension at an all-time low but the choreography is dubious. The film can't keep track of all the characters so one car disappears for half the chase only to reappear at a critical juncture near the end. The movie contains its share of other action scenes that, while less lavish or extensive, are no more thrilling.”

40) So those natives were just plastered into the walls, waiting for someone to come along for the last 500 years? The idea was too similar to the crazy protectors of the graveyard in Peru. The entire discovery of the skull should’ve been completely scrapped and re-done.

41) There were jokes about Indy's age, but his fights were treated as if he was still young. So which is it? Is he old or is he young? Don’t bones get more brittle with age? One of the charms of Indy in the past is that the filmmakers allowed him to show pain. But in this film, he takes more abuse than he ever did in the three previous films, doesn't show any pain whatsoever, and yet, he's much OLDER.

42) Way too many characters: Indy, Mutt, Marion, Mac, and Oxley.

43) We were frequently ahead of the story (when we weren't confused) such as “Mary” being Marion Ravenwood or Mutt being Indy’s son or that Indy will win the fight with the Russian soldier who will fall into the ants, or frankly, the mysteries about the skull itself.

44) The spaceship taking off lacked any sense of wonder. Nothing Spielberg could give us in that sequence will ever compare to the emotional impact of E.T. or the stunning visuals of Close Encounters. I blame Lucas for putting Spielberg into the position of giving the audience an impossibly unsatisfying ending any way he approached it.

45) “It's the space between the space” might actually be worse Third Act dialogue than “Illumination.”

46) I don’t know about your crowd, but when Shia was getting ready to put Indy's hat on, people in my theater started BOOING.

47) You know it’s bad when even John Williams turns in a lame score.

48) Should I even mention how joyless and unfunny it was? I’d recommend that Koepp reads Mel Helitzer’s
Comedy Writing Secrets.

49) By my count, Indy should’ve died 168 times.

50) And finally, they should’ve turned to me for the writing duties.


[I'd like to thank Erin, Joel, anonymous, Octavio, Mickey Lee, Nic, Purpletrex, James, Pat, and Kevin Lehane for their thoughts. -MM]

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Post Your Indy IV Comments!

I'd like to try something new.

Since most of the world will be watching Indiana Jones this weekend, I'd like to ask all of my readers one, simple question:

What did you think about the screenwriting of Indy IV?

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

On GreenCine Daily

Hey guys,

Let me say that
GreenCine Daily offers the best coverage on films on the web bar none, and no, they didn’t pay me to say that.

I receive their daily e-mail updates, which you can also get for free by signing up
here. I’ve said before that one major problem I’ve noticed in some aspiring screenwriters I’ve encountered over the years is that they limit their vision by ONLY hanging out with other screenwriters and by ONLY reading screenwriting books and screenwriting magazines. You hurt yourself and your creativity by limiting the information you get about films. Most discussions about films are usually, by extension, discussions about screenwriting, too.

These guys really open your eyes to films in ways you won’t expect, and today’s e-mail was no exception. So I’d like to share their coverage on three Cannes films that I personally can’t wait to see. The way that David Hudson compiles all the articles and quotes is certainly no small feat, and my hat goes off to him.



Cannes. Changeling.

"A thematic companion piece to
Mystic River but more complex and far-reaching, Changeling impressively continues Clint Eastwood's great run of ambitious late-career pictures," writes Variety's Todd McCarthy.

"Emotionally powerful and stylistically sure-handed, this true story-inspired drama begins small with the disappearance of a young boy, only to gradually fan out to become a comprehensive critique of the entire power structure of Los Angeles, circa 1928."


"Changeling rings the muckracking bells of the likes of
I Am A Fugitive From A Chain Gang, and the devoted-mother high notes of Stella Dallas," writes Glenn Kenny. "Its old-fashionedness, or I should say respect for verities, goes hand-in-hand with a particularly Eastwood-esque directness. The result is not as perfect a film as Eastwood has made, but it's damn strong, both as a story and an exploration of the parent-child bond and a polemic. Because despite the fact that it deals with the corruption and venality of a past era, Changeling is at times a very angry picture; Eastwood's angriest, I think, since Unforgiven."

"Beautifully produced and guided by Eastwood's elegant, unostentatious hand, it also boasts a career-best performance by
Angelina Jolie who has never been this compelling," writes Mike Goodridge in Screen Daily.

The true story the film's based on, "as incredible as it is compelling," as the Hollywood Reporter's
Kirk Honeycutt puts it, was "uncovered by screenwriter J Michael Straczynski in the city's own records and newspapers, adds a forgotten chapter to the LA noir of Chinatown and [LA Confidential]."

Updates: For Time's
Richard Corliss, Changeling "juggles elements of LA Confidential, The Black Dahlia, The Snake Pit and any number of serial-killer thrillers. But at its center are the heartache and heroic resolve of a woman who has lost the one person she loves most and is determined to find him, dead or alive, against all obstacles the authorities place in her way. In that sense the movie is a companion piece to last year's Cannes entry A Mighty Heart, in which Jolie played the wife of kidnapped journalist Daniel Pearl - except that Changeling is far more taut, twisty and compelling."

"Because the film is based on real events, we know going in how it's going to end; the film's tension rides, therefore, not in the destination but in the journey to get there," notes
Kim Voynar at Cinematical.

Eugene Hernandez has a snapshot and quotes from the press conference.

"Whatever it winds up being called, 'L'Ex-Changeling' got a warm reception from the press this morning," reports Salon's
Andrew O'Hehir:

"Whether that really reflects the film's inherent qualities, or just the experience of observing two prodigious stars of different eras collaborate on a major Hollywood project that wasn't made for morons, is open to debate. For anybody who's ever felt passionate about the movies, it was impossible to resist the spectacle of Eastwood, looking both dapper and weatherbeaten in an elegant cream-colored suit, strolling slowly through a rooftop garden here with the gloriously pregnant Jolie on his arm. It was of course the impersonation of casualness and spontaneity rather than the real thing; they were walking through a forest of photographers on their way to the press conference. But the appearance of being at one's ease while maximally exposed to public scrutiny is the essence of stardom."

Much more follows.

Online viewing tip.
Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times.


Cannes. Of Time and the City.

"[T]he one truly great movie to emerge so far has been
Terence Davies's Of Time and the City [site]; it's not only this writer who considers it some kind of masterpiece."

This writer is
Geoff Andrew (Time Out): "Watching the film, you realise that Britain has no other filmmaker to match Davies in terms of his purely cinematic sensibility. Fine as our other far-from-inconsiderable big names are, it's hard to imagine any of them creating sheer filmic poetry as may be found here. Davies's juxtapositions of music and image, especially, are consistently audacious, original and exhilarating, whether the compositions reflect and reinforce each other or whether they make more complex by way of superbly sharp irony."

Updated through 5/20.

"[E]ven though it runs a brief 72 minutes, this documentary memory play about Davies' hometown of Liverpool is so rich with emotion, nostalgia, clarity, and love that it feels epic," writes the Boston Globe's
Ty Burr. "Davies himself narrates over the inspired onrush of historical and archival footage, and his hoarse, whispered cadences have the urgency of the confessional and the scornful humor of the outsider.... [I]t's easily the most haunting work I've seen at Cannes."

"[T]his is mainly a biography of a place and time," writes
Mary Corliss for Time: "of its stately old civic monuments and, later, its soulless estates (an expression, Davies says in the narration, of 'the British genius for creating the dismal'); of its residents' football mania and fondness for radio's corniest comics; of the contrast between postwar rationing and the regal excesses of Queen Elizabeth's coronation ('the Betty Windsor Show')."

"Davies has always been fascinated by both out-of-reach glamour and the banality of everyday life," writes
Howard Feinstein in Screen Daily. "Revisiting what he calls 'the happy highways where I went and can not come again,' is obviously cathartic for Davies, even if melancholy seeps through every frame."

Frank Cottrell Boyce talks with Davies for the Guardian.

Updates, 5/20: Davies "ranges far and wide through both the city and its history, waxing personal and then political as he lingers at the movies (an early love), pauses in bleak homes and passes through one grim brick-lined Liverpudlian street after another, strewn with litter and busy with children," writes
Manohla Dargis in the New York Times. "Mixing his words with quotations (from Friedrich Engels to Willem de Kooning), pop songs and classical music, he brings the past sensitively to life with black-and-white and color footage of a time long gone, both distant and still."

"Nothing in Cannes has given me as much pleasure as Terence Davies's glorious Of Time and the City," writes the Guardian's
Peter Bradshaw. "It is by turns tender, lyrical, angry, shrewd and, above all, funny. This tough, unsentimental film refuses to use cliches and it got enormous, deserved laughs from festival-goers of all nationalities.... I was reminded of Philip Larkin's request that his poems should be read aloud as simply as if giving directions in the street: Davies's poetic cinema has precisely this clarity and force."

Leslie Felperin finds the film "by turns moving, droll and charming, and niftily assembled, but not necessarily that profound."

"Who's the happiest man in Cannes this week?" asks the Telegraph's
David Gritten. "My vote would go to British director Terence Davies, who's walking around the place looking like the cat who got the cream."


Cannes. Ashes of Time Redux.

"National cinemas have different Golden Ages," writes
Mary Corliss for Time.

"For Hong Kong, it was the decade from the mid-80s to the mid-90s, when directors like
Tsui Hark and John Woo were revitalizing the crime film, and when young Wong Kar-wai was revolutionizing the misty romance. At the time, Hong Kong also had perhaps the world's greatest roster of glamorous stars, and prominent among them were Leslie Cheung, Maggie Cheung, Brigitte Lin, the two Tony Leungs, Jacky Cheung, Carina Lau and Charlie Young. All of them are in Wong's 1994 martial-arts reverie Ashes of Time, which had a special screening last night in a version revised by the director."

Updated through 5/20.

"The first surprise about Wong Kar-wai's revamped, re-edited and rescored version of his 1994 cult wuxia classic Ashes of Time is just how little has been changed," writes
Lee Marshall in Screen Daily. "The second is how much these minor tweaks still have helped clarify the Hong Kong auteur's interpretation of Louis Cha's historical fantasy novel The Eagle-Shooting Hero, confirming that his most poetic, experimental film belongs not in the curiosity cabinet but on the big screen."

"Wong was not content merely to repeat or reinvigorate the genre when he began shooting Ashes of Time more than 15 years ago, but decided to reinvent it completely," writes
Peter Brunette in the Hollywood Reporter. "[O]ne wonders what fecundity of imagination - or perversity of artistic willfulness - it took to shoot a costume epic that is made up almost entirely of dark rooms, close-ups and tightly constricted long shots... Wong's obsessive themes of memory, the irretrievability of the past and the impossibility of love, trump those of the traditional wuxia film, which tend to deal more with honor and the indomitability of the spirit."

"The original 1994 Ashes, which I haven't seen (it's available in a poorly done DVD version) apparently didn't make much sense, and it certainly doesn't now, but, lord, is it a vision to behold - a wuxia film turned into an abstract expressionist action painting," writes the Boston Globe's
Ty Burr.

Patrick Frater has a brief report on the emotionally charged screening - and a pick of Wong and cinematographer Christopher Doyle, together - at the Circuit.

Updates, 5/20: "Culled from prints gathered from around the world, this newly re-edited and digitally tweaked iteration runs about 10 minutes shorter than the original, and rather more coherently," writes
Manohla Dargis in the New York Times. "Drenched in shocking color - the desert shifts from egg-yolk yellow to burnt orange under a cerulean sky - the film is Mr Wong's most abstract endeavor, a bold excursion into the realm of pure cinema. It also now seems like one of his most important. Ashes of Time Redux will be released by Sony Pictures Classics in September."

The Guardian's
Xan Brooks gets a few words with Wong.

Ray Pride's found the poster.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Indy IV Links!

I had other articles planned, but dammit, I’d rather be talking about Indy IV. So, if you’re as excited as I am, here is a list of links to tide you over as you count the minutes ‘til the opening:

Extensive lists of updated film reviews may be found
here and here.

Eric Kohn actually
live-blogged the Cannes screening (full of spoilers).

FILMdetail on the
creation of Indiana Jones.

Christopher Campbell’s
Lost Art of the Serial.

Ali Arakin’s
Indiana Jones blog-a-thon.

Jonathan Lapper posts some
concept art for Raiders of the Lost Ark.

David Thomson on Harrison Ford's career.

Lucas talks Indy V, God help us all.

Kim Voynar on the Cannes press conference.

Peter Rainer on Spielberg and Paul Brownfield on Karen Allen.

Peter Howell talks with Allen and with Harrison Ford.

Here’s my own article,
The Long, Sordid Road to Indy IV.

And finally, below are three vids that capture fairly well the excitement and boredom of being on a film set. Hope you enjoy them.



Friday, May 16, 2008

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Van Gogh's "Iron Wall"

Hey guys,

Below are highlights of a recent TriggerStreet script review of mine, which was for a story about a great painter. The script brought to mind a film that I'm sure many of you have not seen, called Lust for Life, a great, great film on so many levels.

There are parallels that can be made between writers today and Van Gogh's personal aspiration to break through his own "iron wall." We all have them. And I believe that all aspiring writers must labor just as intensely to break through their own unique iron walls.

Anyway, you'll see. Hope you enjoy it.



Van Gogh’s “Iron Wall”

Ya know, I'm trying to recall the last few films I've seen about great painters. Umm, it would probably be Girl with a Pearl Earring, Frida, and Pollock, I believe. All had their strengths.

But my heart will always belong to
Lust for Life, the Vincent Van Gogh biop with Kirk Douglas, arguably one of the greatest movies about a painter in cinema history. You mentioned Van Gogh a few times in your spec. Listen, if you're going to see Lust for Life, don't watch it instantly on Netflix. Rent the DVD, see it in widescreen on a big TV and soak in all of its glorious and sumptuous visuals. That film never fails to move me. It's downright SPOOKY how much Kirk Douglas actually looked like Van Gogh. The whole project fascinated me. It was a passion project for Vincent Minnelli, the director, who later regarded this as the toughest challenge in his career. It was cool how Minnelli used color as both psychological and artistic expressions of his protag. Structurally, the film concentrated on four phases of the artist's life: the black-and-white drawings from the mining district of the Boringe, the Dutch drawings and paintings of rural labor in the Hague, the impressionist landscapes of Paris, and the portraits and nature paintings of Southern France. And so, Minnelli asked his cinematographers to create different color schemes for each of the four phases of Van Gogh's career: the coal-mining scenes were dominated by grays, the Dutch sequences by bluish greens, the Parisian episodes by bright reds, and the concluding session, Minnelli’s favorite, were in sunny yellows.

With respect to the writers, no one thought this story could be told successfully. Minelli first turned to Robert Ardrey (Madame Bovary) and then Daniel Taradash (From Here to Eternity) who both declined to write the film because they thought the story was too internal and emotional to be effective as big screen entertainment. Plus, it's kind of a downer when a character cuts off his own ear. Minelli then turned to Norman Corwin (The Blue Veil) and he was the natural choice. He was the studio's fastest and most prolific writer, and he found a way to carry a through-line throughout those four phases of Van Gogh's life by centering on his ever-evolving relationship with his brother, Theo.

Corwin got an Oscar nom for that script.

In any case, there are two reasons why I share Lust for Life.

1) I thought of two lines from that film. First, Van Gogh takes his black-and-white drawings to his cousin artist, Anton Mauve. Mauve asks him, "What kind of an artist do you want to be?" Van Gogh replies, "I want to create things that touch people. I want to move them so they say 'he feels deeply and tenderly.'" Mauve responds, "It's fine, fine. But before you can move people, you first have to learn your business. It needs skill as well as heart." The second line is when his brother, Theo, offers to let Van Gogh live with him in Paris. Van Gogh says, "If I'm to be anything as a painter, I have to break through the iron wall between what I feel and what I can express." I thought of these lines, because this is where you're still at, as a writer, I think. Lots of potential for greatness but still in need of more experience so that you can communicate with crystal clarity to your audience what you feel in your heart through story. There's a sometimes surprising disconnect to aspiring writers between what they feel when they write a script and how effectively those feelings are being communicated. It takes a lot of practice and lots of scripts before you get a sense of how well you are effectively moving your readers.

2) The second reason is because this film has in spades the one element that this script lacks - conflict. On the one hand, I should praise you for working in subtleties and subtext within your scenes. You clearly understand how little gestures have big implications in film. On the other hand, everything was so subtle, it was to the detriment of conflict. In every single scene in Lust for Life, there was a clearly identifiable conflict. We were always watching a scene because something was wrong. Or someone was trying to right a wrong. Or we were being shown something that was going to go wrong. Norman Corwin reveled in emotional conflicts in ways that were so very moving, and I'd like to see you delve right into all that conflict. Lust also had an overall conflict that carried through all of the little conflicts in each scene, that is, Van Gogh's pursuit to break through his own perceived "iron wall" of his art, which he never felt he attained. In the end, he tore up a painting and screamed, "It's impossible! Impossible!"

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Screenwriting News & Links! 5/13/08

Hey guys,

What’s with all you screenwriting bloggers out there? Crickets are chirping in scribosphere! Write something brilliant!

tell me about it.



New Screenplays:

Iron Man - October 21, 2004 unspecified draft script by Alfred Gough & Miles Millar.

Speed Racer - January 4, 2007 first draft script by Larry & Andy Wachowski

Master and Commander: Far Side of the World - August 2001 draft by Peter Weir & John Collee

The Mist - August 5, 2005 revised draft script by Frank Darabont

Jumper - June 23, 2005 unspecified draft script by David S. Goyer

3:10 to Yuma - December 16, 2005 unspecified draft script by Michael Brandt & Derek Haas. Revisions by Stuart Beattie

The Assassination of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford - August 17, 2005 final white draft script by Andrew Dominik

The Omen - september 8, 1975 revised draft script by David Seltzer

Damien: Omen II - September 19, 1977 final Shooting Draft by Stanley Mann and Mike Hodges

Omen III: The Final Conflict - January 3, 1980 third draft script by Andrew Birkin

Omen IV: Armageddon - February 24, 1983 final first draft script by Stanley Mann

Flight Plan - April 30, 2004 first polished draft script by Peter Dowling

(Hat-tip to


Julie Gray on Situation vs. Story
"What is the difference between a situation and a story - that is to say, a compelling crux of conflict big enough to cover three acts of your feature film? A situation is that I walk into a bank and it gets robbed. A story is it is being robbed by an inept man who needs the money for his lover's sex-change operation. A situation is I cover for my dragon-lady boss while she's away. A story is I cover for her, I do better than her, her boyfriend takes a shine to me and then she comes back, furious. A situation is I decide to put my child up for adoption. A story is that the couple adopting starts to fall apart from the inside out and meanwhile my due date is coming up fast. A situation is I decide to escort a criminal to the train station. A story is when his gang is close on my heels and then he escapes."

Laura Deerfield on The Essential Caesura
"Caesura is a literary term, referring, in poetry, to a pause that occurs naturally when a line is spoken. It is used purposefully, using the rhythms of speech to make it fall in a specific place, to create a desired effect, and can be soft (barely noticeable) or hard (as in a full stop, such as a period.) Without these little pauses, the words all run together an become meaningless. When used skillfully, they can not only add to the flow of a piece, but can actually create implied meaning. (For example, when I sing White Christmas, when I get to the line, 'everybody knows a turkey and some mistletoe,' I like to pause after 'turkey'. That pause give a whole new meaning to the line.) What I've noticed recently, is that there is some equivalent to the caesura in all art forms."

8 Things Modern Films Need to Stop Doing
"#5. Remaking every film ever made. There are so many great stories waiting to be told, but brand-name executives are relying on past successes to make profits. Sure, they’re less risk and less work, but when we resort to cannabilising the past we atrophy. We need new, different and exciting stories, we do not need to watch Ferris Bueller have another day off (you know it’s coming). Somewhere a great film is going unmade because they want to recast Karate Kid. Who can blame them? We all can."

Alan says you should learn how to make sandwiches.

Wollen’s Alphabet of Cinema
“A is for Aristotle … the first theorist of film”; “B is not for Brecht, although of course it could be. Or even for B-movies, much as I always loved them. It is for Bambi”; C for Cinephilia; “D must certainly be for Daney, but it is also for Dance—Vincente Minnelli and Gene Kelly”; E for Eisenstein, a “ruined filmmaker, an image-maker ‘haunted by writing’ (Daney’s phrase), by the shot as ideogram, obsessed with the synchronization of sound, movement and image”; F for film festival; G for Godard, “for anti-tradition”; “H is for Hitchcocko-Hawksianism—and a pathway towards avant-garde film”; I for Industry and Ince; J for Japan; “K is for Kane, the film maudit par excellence”; L for Lumière; M for Méliès; N for Narrative; O for Online; “P is personal—for The Passenger, a film directed by Antonioni, which I wrote with my script-writing partner Mark Peploe”; Q for Bazin’s Qu’est-ce que le cinéma?; R for Rossellini, Rome Open City, Renoir, and Rules of the Game; S for Sternberg, Shanghai Gesture, and Surrealism; T for Telecinema, Third Dimension (3D), and Television; U for Underground Film; V for Voyeurism; W for Snow’s Wavelength; “X stands for an unknown quantity—for the strange fascination that makes us remember a particular shot or a particular camera movement”; Y for Les Yeux sans Visage, Franju’s Eyes without a Face; Z for the final frame of the zoom shot, Hollis Frampton’s Zorn’s Lemma, and for Zero.”

Bordwell on Branagh’s Hamlet
"Scale of time also matters. By playing the full version, Branagh can give full weight to the father/ son parallels that riddle the play. If Olivier’s Hamlet was about a son’s love for his mother, Branagh makes the play about the strife between fathers and sons, with women caught in the middle. Hamlet Sr./ Hamlet Jr., Claudius/ Hamlet, Jr., Polonius/ Laertes, old Norway/ Fortinbras, and even the Player’s speech about the murder of Priam: the parallels are in Shakespeare’s text but played out at proper length they snap into sharp relief. Once Laertes is off to Paris, Polonius makes sure he’s spied on, just as Claudius orders Rosenkrantz and Guildenstern to watch Hamlet. In his turn, Hamlet assigns Horatio surveillance duty during the play-within-a-play (a piece of action nicely caught in the opera glasses that Branagh’s choice of period allows). Branagh’s decision to emphasize the military politics around Fortinbras’ march into Denmark helps justify the 70mm format and his decision to set the action in late nineteenth-century Europe; it also allows him to expand, through crosscutting set up early in the movie, the plot of another son at odds with his father."

Can Leo actually hurt a script sale?
"A week doesn't go by without Brett Ratner, Ridley Scott and/or Leonardo DiCaprio attaching themselves to a new handful of scripts. Or at least that's how it appears. But does it ever dilute the writer's negotiating power when the talent's hearty "maybe" joins a dozen other "maybe" commitments to other projects around town? Having an actor or director attached to your script can certainly increase your sale price, but a good rule of thumb may be this: If your talent is publicly attached to more projects than you have zeroes in the offered purchase price, ask yourself whether it's important that your film actually gets made. And beyond that, beware of anecdotal evidence that an overbooked or underwhelming attachment can negatively affect your negotiation."

NYTimes reports that the negative Indiana Jones reviews that leaked last week was actually from “a theater executive who saw the film at an exhibitors’ screening this week.” And that “Theater executives may have an incentive to play down a movie’s prospects after such a screening, to get better terms.”

BioShock Writer & Director Announced
“According to a press release on Take-Two Interactive's official web site ‘the prospect of bringing this blockbuster game to life has attracted not only a major studio, but top Hollywood talent. Gore Verbinski, director of the Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy, is slated to direct and produce the BioShock movie. John Logan, Academy Award-nominated writer... is in talks to do the screenplay.”

Interview With Screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg

A 14-essay package on Godzilla
“Godzilla was once, as conventional wisdom would have it, a stand-in for the unspeakable violence of the atom bomb and by extension humanity's perennial, inscrutable drive toward self-destruction,' says PopMatters writer, Mike Ward, "But the history of Godzilla is also one of a gradual cultural transformation, whereby this self-destructive drive persists, but awareness of it is gradually lost - replaced by collective hubris...'" Karen Zarker introduces the 14-essay package: "Our writers contemplate his transition from bringer of Armageddon to bringer of agathon, a fierce and ironic comfort to children who sense that theirs is a dangerous world. Godzilla understands."

The Billion Dollar Club

Favreau on the Iron Man 2 Sequel ideas
"Demon in a Bottle is one of the very strongest story lines of the series, and Iron Man is not a comic book character who is known for having wonderful storylines. He’s known for having great suits, great characters, but the villains kind of get thin at times, and it’s so very dated when you look at Communism and the metaphor. Politically, much of it doesn’t hold up well. And the Mandarin is incredibly challenging in that respect. So we have challenges ahead of us. Demon in a Bottle tends to be one that, from a storytelling perspective, is compelling to all of us."

Kyle Ward has a deal with the devil
“Lionsgate picked up the rights to Alias Enterprise's comic book Deal With the Devil. Screenwriter Kyle Ward has been hired to adapt from Mike Miller's source material. Ward brought the property to the studio's attention and is co-producing alongside David Tischman and Lisa Brause. Alias' official synopsis for the story reads: Anthony Goodwin is one of the best manhunters in the history of the FBI. In his final case, his prey, Kevin Runyan, became his hunter, and his career took a turn for the worse as he was critically injured and the suspect vanished without a trace. But four years later, his nemesis returns to ask for his help, and the former detective is forced to make a choice: to help the man stop a dangerous copycat killer or to avenge the wrongs committed in the past.

Above is the
Screenwriter Agency-Hopscotch For Visual Learners
Why the hopscotch? From Variety: “Writers and their agents say that the post-writers strike and pre-actors strike funk has ramped up agency raiding of rival clients...Add in stress-inducing factors — expected post-strike writing assignments that never materialized; studios squeezing quotes on the few jobs that do exist; studios having filled out slates through 2009; and the lack of greenlights until a SAG deal is in place — and the combination is a perfect storm of anxiety that has made talent, writers included, particularly susceptible to sweet talk from other agents.”

Screenwriting spouses move to WMA
"Husband and wife screenwriting duo Cormac and Marianne Wibberley have signed with WMA for representation in all areas. The Wibberleys' career spans 12 years, focusing mainly on the action film genre. The duo's credits include the "National Treasure" franchise, "Bad Boys II" and "Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle." They are working on the script for the remake of "Fantastic Voyage" for Fox, which is being produced by James Cameron and Roland Emmerich, who also is directing. The Wibberleys left UTA a month ago."

Picturehouse and Warner Independent Pictures are closing, it was announced by Alan Horn, president & COO of Warner Bros." Variety has the story; Anne Thompson has the press release.

Tracie "Slut Machine" Egan explains the pitfalls of being a sex writer
"Jezebel writer Slut Machine, also known as Tracie Egan has written a very thoughtful column called The Sexist Business of being a Sex Writer. Egan, or Mistress Machine, talks about all of the horrible judgments people make about her, simply because she is open about the fact that the girl loves her some sex. She says that despite her clearly stating over and over again that the only void she's trying to fill is the 'one between my legs', she gets shit on because of her sex life. People not only tell her she has psychological and emotional problems, but that she's basically asking for all of the hate mail and nasty comments she gets because she's a sex writer. To that, Tracie says, 'Fuck. That. Shit. I don't have to accept it. I refuse to accept it. Mostly because I know that this wouldn't happen if I were a man.'"

Alex on hiring playwrights for TV shows
“TV is about the words, the action, the framing, and the editing. They are different media. And therefore, they use different flavors of dialog. So play dialog tends to be expansive and wordy. It is often stylized. Mamet's characters all speak Mamet-speak. TV dialog is terse. If a character has more than three sentences strung together, it's a big deal. Plays have huge ole chunks of dialog, character arias, often about the past. TV rarely describes the past, and tries to avoid referring to it. You can go hours on TV without hearing a character say, "You remember when...?" and then recounting an event in it its entirety that both characters remember perfectly well.”

"The first time I saw The Tracey Fragments, I felt as if I was seeing a revolution in film form, a new visual concept that made us process images in a fundamentally different way," writes Dan Sallitt in the Auteurs' Notebook. "And the second time I saw it, I realized that you could play the soundtrack in your living room and enjoy the film without ever looking at it. I wonder whether these seemingly contradictory impressions are related.... The Tracey Fragments is not the first film to use paneled images, but it's the first feature-length narrative that I know of that relies on paneling as its basic method of visual communication, that dispenses with the safety net of the full-frame image." And he offers "a partial, not terribly rigorous taxonomy of the effects I noted in Tracey."

Ted on the screenwriting for The Fountainhead
“It also brings up what is the major, and fairly well-deserved, criticism of The Fountainhead: its woeful screenplay. Ayn Rand wanted to make sure that the vision she presented in the novel would survive on screen, and so she took on the task of writing the screenplay. However, it's patently obvious that she had no idea of how to write an effective screenplay, especially the idea that what it takes to write a good book isn't the same as what you need for a good screenplay. The dialog is lifted in large parts straight out of the book, which causes serious problems whenever one of the characters delivers an extended soliloquy. While this makes for a terribly flawed movie, it doesn't hurt the book so much. Indeed, the book is quite good...”

"Something like a pain-fueled, R-rated Princess Bride, The Fall straddles the intertwined worlds of storytelling and story," writes Nick Pinkerton in the Voice. "If the human details are often problematic, the IMAX-grade bombast, ceremonial camera, and Jodorowsky-esque eclecticism still combine for a singular spectacle." "As in [Tarsem's] The Cell, the plot is a feeble framing device for what is, no more and no less, a wearying nosedive through a self-indulgent imagination, a succession of allusive images and Baraka-style jaunts to modern and ancient corners of the globe, and though The Fall lacks for the alluring empathy Jennifer Lopez brought to The Cell, it achieves something close to it through Catinca Untaru," writes Ed Gonzalez in Slant.

Evan Goldberg on Screenwriting & 'Superbad'
‘Superbad’ began its life in Goldberg and Rogen’s pre-adolescent minds and took over a decade to bring to fruition. When Rogen, then an aspiring actor in Los Angeles, got the chance to show the script to producer Judd Apotow, it was a case of, Goldberg says “right spot, right moment”, and their dream of ‘Superbad’ reaching the big screen finally become a reality. “We started writing it when I was 12 and Seth was 13. We worked on it consistently for ten years trying to make it into a film, we never stopped, every week we would probably have a discussion about it and this went on for ten years.”

Jeff Goldsmith’s Podcast interview with On the Waterfront and A Face in the Crowd screenwriter, Budd Schulberg.

"I grew up in the era of the term 'hermaphrodite,' which I now learn - via
Lucía Puenzo's mostly fascinating and deeply-felt movie XXY - is politically incorrect. The term used should be 'intersex.' Until I was well into adulthood, I thought that hermaphrodites were more legendary than real. My movie experience of them came mostly from crass, sleazy and enormously entertaining films like Larry Cohen's God Told Me To. (Aren't most of Larry Cohen films crass, sleazy and enormously entertaining?) Puenzo's XXY is something else. It begins in media res, and, in fact, ends there, too. But, oh, in the middle of the middle, what people, events and feelings do we meet, witness and experience! Puenzo is simply terrific at guiding us into her characters' emotional states - even though we don't always know what is causing these states. But because this writer/director puts us so quickly and deeply into the feelings of her people, it is difficult not to respond with empathy, as we slowly learn what is going on, and why."
here to continue reading.)

Apparently, Australian screenwriters suck – who knew?
"The debate about how to improve Australian screenwriting continues, with News Ltd film writer Andrew Fenton weighing in on Friday with a well-researched discussion of the industry's woes (failure to attract significant audiences, etc.) followed today by an assessment of the screenwriting problems that have been much featured on this blog over the last few months… 'Australian screenwriters are immature, their screenplays are not properly developed; not ambitious enough; too parochial; have no emotional dynamics; they tell instead of show; and they all too often produce works that seem like large scale telemovies, without any true understanding of the art of cinema."

Robert Towne and the Kanvar Award
"In person, Robert Towne looks every inch the survivor of the Seventies New Hollywood that he is. Tall, white-maned and white-bearded, he settles on the Kabuki Theatre stage, where he is to receive the Kanvar Award given annually to honor distinguished screenwriters at the San Francisco International Film Festival. He’s courteous but wryly guarded as author (and film noir specialist) Eddie Muller begins the interview by dropping the L-word (as in “legendary”) on the guest’s lap. “It’s a bit of a mixed blessing,” Towne muses of the accolade. “Like I’m getting ready for the waxworks.” As the writer of such Seventies favorites as The Last Detail and Chinatown (to say nothing of oft-uncredited contributions to The Godfather, The Parallax View, and The Yakuza), he’s certainly earned the right to bathe in such praise. Yet one understands Towne’s note of rue: Still sharp as a shiv and filled with ideas for projects, he is nevertheless weary of the way things have changed since “the old days,” and, following frustrating experiences directing his most personal projects, has apparently accepted the role of Hollywood’s resident script-doctor."

Mamet Interview on Redbelt Was it difficult getting this film greenlit?
David Mamet: Yeah, nobody wanted it in Hollywood except for Sony Classics. I think it was my third or fourth film for them, so they said, "Yeah, sure." I talked to everybody in Hollywood and said, "If you don't get it, look at the demographics. This is the hugest demographics in the world of young males 18 to 25. They all watch the UFC. Look at what they did last year in DVDs, are you nuts? If they make the worst movie ever made, all these kids are going to watch their movie. Guess who I'm going to put in it," and they all said, "Yeah, yeah, yeah, no thanks," They all want to make movies about people standing up on a beach with their arms spread, looking up at the heavens, and twirling because they've understood the meanings of life, and they have.

Kim Morgan on Six Stanwyck Noir Films
“I've been neck-deep in noir (a good thing). And I’ll get to all of it later (interviewing Marsha Hunt and Eddie Muller at the Egyptian, watching the amazing Wicked Woman and Cry of the Hunted, Peter Lorre, Steve Cochran, Jack Elam…there’s so much to process) but for now, I’m turning to Barbara. Before I dive into Beverly Michaels (and I will -- that woman was a revelation), here are six Stanwyck noir and one Sirk for measure. You can’t deny yourself the Sirk.”

Original ‘Robocop’ Screenwriter Champions Franchise’s Return
“I would love to make a ‘Robocop’ movie,” declared Ed Neumeier, the original screenwriter of Paul Verhoeven’s classic before comic creator Frank Miller took over scripting reigns for the film’s sequels.

British screenwriter Taylor holds “Pinocchio” workshop in Iran

Twitter Along With Diablo Cody!

Screenwriter talks GRUDGE 3

'Cloverfield' director delays sequel

Nine Cursed Hollywood Films
Well, you may have heard reports that things aren't going smoothly for the James Bond crew, which has led some to think the film is cursed. It wouldn't be the first time, and the L.A. Times shares a look at nine cursed films from Hollywood history.

DreamWorks is ready to bolt from Paramount
"DreamWorks co-founder David Geffen has been on his yacht in Tahiti since late March, but even from that distant tropical isle, his intentions have been made loud and clear -- DreamWorks' top creative team is planning to leave the Paramount lot, a departure spurred by an endless loop of animosity between Geffen and Viacom chief Sumner Redstone and Paramount chief Brad Grey. According to an existing series of contractual outs, Geffen can announce his departure in August, creating an opening for co-founder Steven Spielberg to depart in October, triggering a key-man clause allowing DreamWorks chief executive Stacey Snider to leave as well."

Steven Soderbergh will direct The Girlfriend Experience, a drama set in the world of prostitution written by his Ocean's Thirteen scribes Brian Koppelman and David Levien.

United Artists has hired 24 creator Joel Surnow
to pen an untitled contemporary spy thriller that will be directed by Bond franchise vet Martin Campbell.

MGM continues
its spec-buying frenzy with Michael Galvin and Peter Speakman's Executive VP David M. Murch's Adventures in Zametherea, a comedy about an investment banker who gets a chance to revisit a land he created in his childhood imagination.

Ten terrible cinematic superheroes
In celebration of the release of Jon Favreau's 'Iron Man', Time Out offers a list of the ten worst cinematic superheros of all time


On the Contest Circuit:

ASA Announces Semifinalists

Script Savvy Announces March Winners Announces Spec Scriptacular Winners Announces People's Pilot Winners

MoviePoet Announces March Contest Winners

StoryPros Announces Quarterfinalists

Sundance Announces June Screenwriters Lab Participants

Bare Bones Film Festival Announces Contest Results


And finally

Wall*E Vignettes: