Tag Archive | "Current Movies"

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Screenwriting 101: Grabbing Reader’s Attention

Posted on 24 March 2007 by Rich Drees

It’s always important for a movie to open with a scene that grips its audience, pulling them into its celluloid world for the rest of its runtime.

Although not meant for general consumption, screenplays need to do the same job to whomever is reading them. A junior executive wading through dozens of scripts, hoping to find the next big blockbuster, doesn’t have time to plow through all 100-plus pages of every script in their slush piles. A screenwriter has maybe ten pages at most to grab the attention of a reader who may hold the script’s fate in their hands.

Perhaps the best example of this that I’ve come across in a while is script for the opening scene of writer/director Robert Rodriguez’s segment of Grindhouse, a zombie thriller called Planet Terror. (Yes, what a surprise. We’re talking about Grindhouse. Again.) In just a few sentences, Rodriguez sketches out his protagonist Cherry, giving us some tantalizing information about her that will be explored through the film. And than he hits us with that last sentence, almost daring us not to continue reading.


Over titles, we are close on a pair of red go-go boots as the woman wearing them strides confidently onto the well worn stage.

This is CHERRY, a go-go dancer. She’s too good at what she does, meaning she should think about doing something else.

Oddly, tears run down her face through her dance.

Side Note: The next time Cherry does this dance, people will die.

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Trailer Park: Opening This Weekend

Posted on 22 March 2007 by Rich Drees

Lots of new films opening this weekend. Here’s what you have to choose from-

The Hill Have Eyes II

The Last Mimsy


Reign Over Me



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Posted on 21 March 2007 by Rich Drees

We still have a little over two weeks until Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez’s Grindhouse, but that doesn’t mean we still can’t get some glimpses of what’s in store for us.

Thanks to the folks over at Yahoo, you can get to know “The Girls And Guys Of Grindhouse,” courtesy of a short video hosted by Tarantino and Rodriguez. Since Yahoo doesn’t offer video embedding (Get with it guys!) you’ll have to click on this link to check it out.

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The Battle for THE UNIVERSE

Posted on 20 March 2007 by Rich Drees

Across The Universe, the 1960s set musical utilizing the songs of the Beatles, is at the center of yet the latest round in the ongoing Hollywood struggle between art and commerce.

Specifically, director Julie Taymor is upset that Revolution studio chief Joe Roth has taken the film, re-edited it without her knowledge and test-screened the result last week. In a report in yesterday’s New York Times, an unnamed source has described that Taymor is feeling “helpless and [is] considering taking her name off the movie.”

The film stars Evan Rachel Wood and Jim Sturges as a young couple whose relationship is tested and torn asunder by the social turbulence of the 1960s. I have previously discussed the project and posted its trailer here.

While it is normal for a studio to test various edits of a film to determine what will respond most favorably with audiences, it is a process that usually includes the participation of the director. For Taymor to not even be informed of Roth’s cut is a marked departure from the standard operating procedure.

Taymor’s version clocks in at a reported 2 hours and 8 minutes. The edit overseen by Roth – who, in addition to his duties as Revolution’s head since 2000 has also directed America’s Sweethearts (2001) and Christmas With The Kranks (2004) – is reportedly a half-hour shorter. The Times is reporting that Taymor does not have final cut.

It seems to me that Hollywood has forgotten the lessons learned two decades ago when Terry Gilliam duked it out with Universal Studios head Sid Sheinberg over how Gilliam’s film Brazil (1985) was to end. Sheinberg argued that the Gilliam’s darker ending tested poorly and took the film away from the director to have it re-edited to include a more upbeat ending. Gilliam countered by taking ads out in the press chastising Sheinberg and by holding clandestine screenings of the film for Los Angeles critics, who promptly and loudly hailed Brazil as one of the best films of the year. Chagrinned, Sheinberg relented and released Gilliam’s version of Brazil. But the victory came at a price for Gilliam, and despite successful projects such as The Fisher King (1991) and 12 Monkeys (1995), he is still thought of in some circles as a “difficult” director to work with.

As noted, Taymor is reportedly contemplating removing her name from the film if Roth goes ahead and releases his shorter edit. The cat’s out of the bag though, and viewers know that any shorter version that shows up in theaters isn’t Taymor’s. Will this affect the film’s potential box office? Very probably. Although Taymor may not be a household name yet, her work on Titus (1999) and Frida (2002) have proven her to be not only a capable director but one with an exceptional eye for visuals. A move like Roth’s is just plain insulting to a filmmaker of Taymor’s track record.

It has already been announced that the Sony-owned Revolution Studios will cease operations in October of this year with Roth moving on to a producer position at Sony. Revolution already has a varied history, producing hits like Black Hawk Down (2001) and Rent (2005). It also has had its fair share of misses including The Master Of Disguise (2002) and Gigli (2003). With a release scheduled for September 28th, one hopes this would get resolved fairly quickly so Revolution can close its doors on a high mark rather than a low.

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Trailer Park: Opening This Weekend

Posted on 15 March 2007 by Rich Drees

Daydreams of infidelity and impending disaster dominate the two major studio realeases this weekend while the indie studios give us tales of love in London and tribal conquest in 18th-century Kazakhstan.

I Think I Love My Wife


Dead Silence



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The Spoils of 300

Posted on 13 March 2007 by Rich Drees

This past weekend’s $70 million box office gross for the historical action/drama 300 surprised and surpassed nearly everyone’s expectations*, making its director, Zack Snyder, Hollywood’s Golden Boy of the moment. And that’s good news for those comic book fans who have been waiting for a big screen adaptation of the seminal classic graphic novel Watchmen. Created by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons, Watchmen was a deconstruction of superhero tropes disguised as a murder mystery that not only forced those beyond comic book fandom to re-evaluate the potential of the graphic storytelling medium but also became the only graphic novel named to Time magazine’s list of 100 Best Novels Since 1923.

Watchmen has been in on-and-off again development almost since its publication in 1986. Director Terry Gilliam had been anxious to do the film, working with Batman (1989) screenwriter Sam Hamm on the screenplay. Gilliam even wore a Watchmen blood-splattered smiley pin on a 1995 appearance on The David Letterman Show while promoting his just-released Twelve Monkeys. Darren Aronofsky and Paul Greengrass also took cracks at the project before moving on to other films. Chief among the reasons that none of these versions came to pass is the amount of money needed to bring the sprawling epic to life.

But now the Watchmen ball is in Snyder’s court and has been since this past June. Snyder has been deep into script development and has already done some costume tests, as evidenced by the quick image of Watchmen character Rorshach discovered hidden in the most recent 300 trailer by Snyder.

Snyder has stated during the press rounds for 300, itself an adaptation of a comic book miniseries from Frank Miller and Lynn Varney, that he is looking to start shooting Watchmen this summer, although the film has yet to be officially greenlighted by studio Warner Brothers. Industry scuttlebutt says that Snyder’s vision of the Watchmen world will cost the studio somewhere in the neighborhood of $150 million, while Warners would prefer to cut that budget by a third to around $100 million.

However, this weekend’s greater-than-expected grosses for 300 give Snyder a rather large bargaining chip to use against Warner Brothers when it comes to discussing the potential budget of the film. Snyder delivered the visually sumptuous 300 on a budget of just $65 million. With this weekend’s receipts at $70 million, the film is well on its way to being one of the first blockbusters of the year. Directors have been handed to the reigns to bigger projects for lesser reasons.

* 300 has done so well, that I see no point in writing up a review for the film. Still, I do want to share one thing I jotted in my notes while watching the film this weekend, just because I like how the wording came out.- “300 makes no pretense at a realistic depiction of the Battle of Thermopylae. It is a myth, a legend, a story told in the light of the modern day, 24 frames per second flickering campfire of cinema.”

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Trailer Park: This Weekend’s Releases

Posted on 08 March 2007 by Rich Drees

Local cineplexs are being invaded by gladiators, mutated river monsters and credit card companies this weekend. Here’s some trailers to help you decide what to look at while you munch your popcorn.


The Host

Maxed Out

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Trailer Park: This weekend’s releases

Posted on 01 March 2007 by Rich Drees

In a quandry what to see at your local cineplex this weekend?

Take a gander at these trailers to see what your choices are-

Black Snake Moan

Wild Hogs


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Trailer Park: FANTASTIC FOUR 2 and NEXT

Posted on 27 February 2007 by Rich Drees

We have a pair of offerings of movie trailers into today’s inaugural edition of Trailer Park for you to feast your eyes upon today.

First up is the new 30-second TV spot for Fantastic Four: Rise Of The Silver Surfer. There’s a few new moments from the film not seen in the previous trailer including our first, albeit quick, look at the Fantastic Four’s classic mode of transportation- the Fantasticar!

Fantastic Four: Rise Of The Silver Surfer is scheduled to hit screens on June 15.

We also have Next, the latest attempt to turn a Philip K. Dick short story, in this case “The Golden Man,” into a film. Nicholas Cage stars as a man who has the ability to glimpse the future and who is pursued by the FBI, lead by Julianne Moore, for his knowledge of a possible terrorist attack.

Next is set for release on April 27.

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Pop Culture Intersections

Posted on 25 February 2007 by Rich Drees

They may call it a comic book convention, but that is really an understatement.

This year’s New York ComicCon (NYCC), which is concluding today, is just one of the numerous major similar events held around the country every year that realizes that comic books and their fans do not exist in their own isolated continuum. Instead comic fans interests lie across numerous related fields and comic books themselves influence and are influenced by those fields. So any major convention will have programming tracks that encompass not only comic books, but also gaming, animation and films. There are comic book characters making the transition to television and movies, comic books and movies being created based on the story lines from video games and games are being based on both comic books and films. And as these various hobbies begin to overlap, so too do the creative people involved.

The result is a fertile cross-pollination that results in instances where a session where J. Michael Straczynski, creator of the TV series Babylon 5, can talk about the future of that show as a line of made-for-DVD movies, his script for a film called The Changeling which will begin filming this summer with Ron Howard producing and give hints about the various comic book projects he’s writing for Marvel Comics.

Producer Michael Uslan summed it up best at a panel about a forthcoming adaptation of Will Eisner’s classic comics hero The Spirit with Sin City co-director and comic book writer/artist Frank Miller. Hollywood is always looking for good stories and there are plenty of good stories to be found in comics. These stories are not just guys and gals with super powers and colorful outfits. Films like Men In Black, Ghost World, Road To Perdition and A History Of Violence have proven that.

For myself, I found plenty of good stories at NYCC this year as well, which I’ll be sharing with you as the week rolls on. So look for stories about John Landis’ next film, a sit down conversation with Eli Roth about the upcoming Hostel 2, as well as a preview of what we can expect from Miller’s Spirit film and more.

Stay tuned!

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