Movie Review: Antibodies

Antibodies is a German film from 2005, so I’m a little late to the party. I usually don’t post reviews of films even over a year old, but this film got my attention.

It starts off with such a tense in-your-face bang, it was hard for it not to keep my attention throughout. It is a gripping journey into the mind of a serial killer and the obsession of those looking for answers to why he did what he did. Andre Hennicke puts in what is definitely the creepiest performances since Anthony Hopkins. He even has a line, ‘What’d you expect, Hannibal Lecter?’ And then he sniffs the air like Lecter. It was well-timed, well-delivered and a nod to what is probably the most classic serial killer movie of all-time. The rest of the cast was extremely strong and the photography was excellent, setting a pitch perfect tone. It was one of those foreign films that I will probably never forget. Was it perfect? No. But it kept you guessing throughout with the way the story unfolds. And it reminded me of something I would aspire to in a film like this.

Alas, it is already set-up with another producer/studio so I’m sure you’ll see the watered down Hollywood version soon enough. With someone doing their best Hopkins impersonation, rather than putting a fresh spin on it like Henneke.

Movie Review: Big Fan

I had gone into the little indie Big Fan hearing good things, but it still didn’t gain much of a foothold.  Written and directed by the writer of The Wrestler, a Long Island native… made it more of a must-see for me.

Not the highest production value, but that was to be expected with an indie of this nature.  In fact, it made it all the more enjoyable.  Like we were living in this world.  The world of a football obsessed fan from Staten Island.  Someone who calls into a radio show almost every night with monologues he spends all day writing.  Someone who lives with his over-bearing mother.  Someone who cares more about the Giants than he does about women or a ‘normal’ life.  And this someone is oddly fascinating.  Mesmerizing even.  We come to know this guy and it makes his choices that much easier to reconcile.  Choices that a ‘normal’ person would blanche at.

It culminates in what was one of the better endings I have seen in a long time.  At first you have this cringe-worthy – this just jumped the shark and went into crappy movie territory – moment.  Then, Siegal does an about face and really surprises you.

If you can track it down, I definitely recommend it.  It moves at a brisk pace and is short enough that you won’t mind be tormented by the deranged fandom of what would, on the outside, appear to be a loser.

Writing a Novel

Some of you may know that I am turning two of my scripts, Harbor Moon and R.E.M., into graphic novels. I plan on turning another 3 scripts that are written into graphic novels as well – but that takes money.  I’m actively attempting to raise that capital, but cannot do anything until I have it.

So I have decided to take another whack at a novel. I actually wrote one two years ago, based on my script for Monsters of the Midway (which is now called Bulderlyns).  I wrote it after the first draft of the script, and have since done a massive rewrite.  However, the thought of sitting down and rewriting the book is not very appealing.  Especially since I consider it a slamdunk as a graphic novel.

What to write then?

I had been kicking around the idea of turning my very first script (way back when I thought teen drinking was profound).  It would be a male version of The Late Great Me, a book I read in high school that left an impression. Something loosely based on my own experiences. A coming-of-age if you will. But it seemed trite and I have grown way too much as a human being since then.

Then I realized something I should have a long time ago – The Beast would make a good book. It’s a football script, but has more in common with Lord of the Flies than anything. It’s dark, almost horrorific… and based on actual events. It would never translate to the comic form… so why not a novel?  And I’ve already figured out how I will do it.  It’ll be a first person narrative, but from the perspective of multiple characters.

Now I just need to buckle down and do it.

Rumblings from the lab

Podcasts.  I’ve never been sure of them… until I started subscribing to some (such as KCRW’s The Business).

I have wanted to do a weekly entertainment show for a while now.  A local access type of thing, in the hope that the TV gods found me – goodlooking, charming, clever and insightful  – and put me in front of millions.  Clearly where I belong.

It would be a half hour 3-camera show, ticking off 24 topics in the film/tv world and my commentary on each.  One minute per topic.  Topics such as script sales, writer hires, casting moves, release dates, upcoming box office and executive moves.  (24 because there are 24 frames per second.  See – clever.)

And then when I was listening to a few podcasts this weekend, it dawned on me.  Why not just do my show as a podcast?  Brilliant.

Well, some initial hurdles need to be overcome. I always envisioned it as a 2 person deal.  It’s always better and more interesting to be playing off someone else.  But I guess I could do it Joel McHale The Soup-style. But I don’t have a camera, or cameraman.  So it would probably start off as a radio broadcast.  Another reason to have a second personality (and lets face it – I have a face for tv, not radio).

And then there is the technical difficulties of doing it as such.  I can edit a show/video.  I can’t edit sound.  And if this is a straight radio broadcast – I don’t even know how to record good sound.  I rely on others for this.

But now it is in my head, and I will try and figure this out…  Cause the world needs me.

Greatest Movie Soundtrack of All Time

Belongs to my favorite film of all time.  Rad.  

1.   ‘Break the Ice’ – John Farnham
2.   ‘Riverside’ – The Beat Farmers
3.   ‘Wind Me Up’ – 3 Speed
4.   ‘Get Strange’ – Hubert Kah
5.   ‘Send Me an Angel’ – Real Life
6.   ‘Music That You Can Dance To’ – Sparks
7.   ‘Baby Come Back’ – Jimmy Haddox
8.   ‘Thunder In Your Heart’ – John Farnham
9.   ‘With You’ – John Farnham

Movie Review: Book of Eli

Book of Eli is a pretty standard genre movie, elevated to something a bit more by Denzel Washington and Gary Oldman.  To be honest, I’m a little unsure why Denzel would do this movie as it is straight genre fare – but it is to the benefit of fans like myself.

It’s a sort of post-apocalyptic Clint Eastwood western.  Stranger of a few words rolls into a strange town… and mayhem ensues.  And just like Eastwood, this Stranger has a singular focus that nothing can disrupt.

To be fair, I am a gigantic fan of Clint Eastwood, especially his westerns Pale Rider and High Plains Drifter.  And of films like Bad Day at Black Rock… the three of which form the spine of my graphic novel Harbor Moon.

The action is good, the acting is good and the story moves along at a really brisk pace.  The ending has a nice little twist on it too.  There’s not much to dislike about this movie.  And the more beat up Mila Kunis gets, the hotter she gets.  It also goes to show you how acting can be overcome by a good director – cause she was awful in Max Payne and is pretty good here.  Glad to see the Hughes Brothers back in the saddle.

Top Films of 2009

Without further ado, and exactly three weeks after the end of 2009… I bring you the list of my top ten films of 2009.  It’s amazing that I wound up seeing more movies being back in New York than when I was in Los Angeles.  You get so wrapped up in what you’re doing out there, it is easy to forget why you’re there in the first place.

A special mention cause I justcan’t vote for my own movie.  Butseriously, best film of the year. Maybe.
1.   Avatar
            Afeat in filmmaking.
Tense, gripping and superblydone.  Anyone that hasn’t seen this‘little’ war film needs to. Asap.  Done by KathrynBigelow, who somehow makes more guys guy movies than just about anyone.
The most fun at the movies in2009.  I had a smile on my face theentire time.  And seeing it in 3Dmade it that much better.
Mann being Mann.  Depp being Depp… and a supporting castthat surrounds them that blows any other film this year away.
Funniest movie of the year.  Refreshing to see a comedy that wasn’tsecretly about some sappy love story.
6.   District 9
The biggest little sci-fi film in along time.  Blomkamp’s short filmis one of my favorite of all time, and I was really looking forward to this –and it delivered.  Although therewere some things that I couldn’t buy, it was fun and sucked me in.
Tarantino’s return to form.  I actually didn’t want to see thisafter suffering through Grind House. But I’m glad I did.  I thinkthey actually did a bad job of selling this film, as it was much better thanthe trailer let on.  Pitt wasn’t soabsurdly over the top (Burn After Reading) and it wasn’t goofy.  It all seemed to fit, which is a hugeachievement by QT.
Dark, terrifying and sad… but oddlyfun.  I know, it makes no sense,but either does this film.  And itwas great.  Made me feel like acare-free kid again.
9.    Gomorrah
The best foreign film of the yearwas an engrossing look at modern ‘mafia’ in Italy. Which is more Boyz n theHood or New Jack City than Godfather.
I tend to despise these chic, toosmart for their own good geek romance movies.  While this movie still had some of the trappings (theannoyingly precocious younger sister), it still came out on top.  Joseph Gordon-Levitt was the realreason this was able to shine.  Thescript was clever in a good way, and the direction really paid it off.

Harbor Moon website is live!

Just in case you missed the announcement, the website for the graphic novel Harbor Moon is now live.

www.harbor-moon.com

Click. Browse. Enjoy. Marvel at the awesomeness.

We’re still working on adding some features to the site (like fan interaction).  And we’re waiting on a release date from Arcana.  I will let everyone know as soon as I do.

Submitting a Script

Ted Hope recently posted an entry on his Truly Free Film blog regarding Ten Things to Do Before You Submit a Script.

It is a really good read (as are most of his blog posts)… but I think it was a more ‘artsy’ list. It contains things about character and story…. etc… Things that, at this point, if a writer feels the script is ready to submit then they probably aren’t going to shore up those leaks by keeping them in mind.

I wholeheartedly agree with the entire list.  But I think these are things you need to consider when you finish a first draft, or last draft.  Some are even things to consider before sitting down to start writing.  They are, for the most part, more about you – the writer.

My list would be more about me – the reader.  And I’m going to steal some of his thoughts…

  1. Cut at least another 10% out of the script.  Even when you think you are finished, you can always another 10% that can come out. Don’t use Ted’s advice as an arbitrary thing. Think it through – if your script is 100 pages, 10% is 10 pages. Try and cut out ten pages. You may fall in love with your prose, but you need to distance yourself from it to an extent. Kill your babies!
  2. Format. If you’re serious about screenwriting, and if you’re sending me or anyone else your script you damn well better be – it should be in industry standard format. You can find older versions of Final Draft out there for cheap. Besides being extremely easy to use (bonus for the writer), it makes your script look like you at least know what you’re doing.  So it won’t go to the bottom of the reading pile, or worse – right in the recycling bin. If you have one foot in the poor house, at the very least you need to set your font to Courier.
  3. Spelling/Grammar. This would probably be #1, but if you do not have the correct format you probably won’t get far enough for people to know you had poor spelling/grammar. RUN SPELL CHECK! Twice. Three times. The spell check on Final Draft isn’t very good, so copy and paste your script into Word, which has an excellent error correction program. You’ll be able to see all the errors that Final Draft did not pick up. Don’t copy and paste back, but just revise your Final Draft document based on this. Then, give your script to someone you trust to proofread it. Not for notes. For spelling/grammar mistakes.
  4. Make the world your characters inhabit truly authentic. I’m stealing this from Ted Hope, but I will be more specific. Use adjectives or specifics when dealing with places and people. Your characters shouldn’t live in a ‘Home’ in the sluglines, they should live in a ‘Dutch Colonial’.  If you’re on a street – what kind of street?  Deserted street?  Main street?  Highway? Boulevard?  If you’re in a specific location, do your homework.  What is the Main Street called?  What is the exact name of the Highway you’re on?  What is the cross streets your cops are going to bust the drug dealers?  Give your smaller characters life. The waitress serving your hero eggs shouldn’t be ‘Waitress #1’, she should be ‘Frumpy Waitress’. These small details will make your script infinitely more interesting to read, and will most likely spill over into the rest of the script.
  5. Spacing. This applies more to the density of your prose than line spacing between sluglines (between one or two is up to you). A general rule that I like is – action/prose should be no longer than 4 lines long.  If it is, challenge yourself to cut it. Or separate the action. Break it up. Maybe this way the reader will be able to follow it better.
  6. Your Cover – less is more. You want to be a professional, act like a professional.  You do not need the copyright #, the WGA registration # and all of the info that you can possibly stuff on the cover.  Keep it simple. The title, written by, the draft date and your contact info (phone and email). If it is copyrighted and registered with the WGA, great. What is putting it on your script going to do? Besides make you look like an amateur. Even if it is subconscious, it will get moved to the bottom of the stack.
  7. Convert to a PDF. Any computer should be able to do this. If not, there are a ton of free websites that can do it. And Final Draft makes this very easy. Do not send .fdr, .doc, .txt, .rtf – they are system/program specific, they look like crap and they can be manipulated by someone other than yourself. Only send a PDF. After you save the PDF, be sure to open it up and read through it.  Make sure it is perfect (margins are all good, there isn’t a blank page at the back, etc…)
  8. Spend time on your logline. It should be short and sweet. Just like the script, less is more. If you just cannot crack it, go online for help. There are a ton of professional readers who also do freelance reading. Put an ad up in the ‘writing gigs’ section on craigslist. For a small price (I’d suggest $35) you can get them to do a logline and synopsis. For more they can even give you notes (some extra eyes on your script would be nice, but at the end of the day – just use them for the logline/synopsis). Then, do not be satisfied with the logline they send. Rework it until it is your own.
  9. Cut the script down!  Yes, it is that important to list it twice. You are not an Oscar winner, yet. The person who is reading your script probably has to read at least 1 script a day. At least. It is more like 2 a day. Do the math.
  10. Do not be scared about people reading your script. This last one is less about the script, and more about you. The more people reading your script, the better your chances are. And if you are afraid of it being stolen, you are just looking like a paranoid amateur. I do not mean to be harsh or overly-critical, but I have had people email me their logline, it sounds interesting so I say I’ll read the script and then they want me to sign a release form and want to know more about me. First off, do your own homework. If you are contacting someone you know little about, look them up. If you can’t find anything and you are still leery – then do not send the script. I’m sure other producers/writers may have a differing opinion on this, but I think being realistic is always the best course of action. Do not get me wrong, I am not saying to not be leery about plagarism. But why on earth is an established producer going to steal your idea? Or a studio? It can pay you nothing (relatively speaking) and own it, why bother stealing it?

J-E-T-S

The Jets are a team of destiny.  Rex Ryan, although he is still learning how to manage a game, is the best thing to happen to them since Vinny Testaverde.  Mark Sanchez is proving he can win big games, right now by not doing too much.  Give him time and he’ll be slinging the ball downfield with the best of them.

And this defense.  They give up the short ball, but you can’t run on them and Darelle Revis is a nightmare.  Why on earth would you throw anywhere near him?  One throw by Rivers to him and he makes one of the most ridiculous interceptions I’ve ever seen.  How this guy didn’t win Player of the Year over Woodson is beyond me (I am a huge Woodson fan, but the lack of numbers put up against Revis by the best players in the game is more staggering than the stats put up by anyone else).

Bring on the Colts!