Tuesday, December 26, 2017


There's much to like in this film about the desperate rescue of trapped British troops from the French beach town in 1940. That said, while very good, I'm not sure it's the epic, unqualified success that so many reviewers seemed to think at the time of its release. What sets it apart is its focus not on the larger picture or strategy -- hardly mentioned at all -- but on the people caught up in the evacuation. It's told in a clever and almost elegiac way, intertwining three stories -- that of a British soldier desperate to get home, two Spitfire pilots covering the evacuation, and a civilian yachtsman helping to ferry troops off the beaches. Events in the three stories unfold in different time frames, the stories flit back and forth before coming together. It conveys the horror, confusion and human drama of combat very well.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Sam Elliott's Oscar Role

"The Hero" 

I'm a huge Sam Elliott fan, so it stands to reason I would like this film about an aging actor facing his mortality. And Elliott delivers a strong performance, surely worthy of an Oscar if there's any justice. Laura Prepon of "That 70s Show" fame puts in a creditable account as Elliott's unlikely love interest. This is not the movie for you if you're looking for thrill and chills -- it's a movie for those who like quiet, understated stories about people. If you like Francois Truffaut films from the 60s, this ought to appeal. I liked it all the way to the end, which came on rather abruptly and left me feeling I hadn't arrived at my destination. Still worth the journey, but when it's over you may feel like you still have to walk the last few miles to get where you're going. 

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Mr. Trump's Wild Ride as Chronicled by Katy Tur

Unbelievable" by Katy Tur ★★★★★

NBC correspondent Katy Tur's memoir of the insane 2016 Trump campaign, which she followed from day one, is alternately amusing and maddening -- it's about Trump, after all -- but always compelling. She chronicles the wild trip that was the bumpy, chaotic Trump campaign tour, vividly recreating the whole, yes, unbelievable phenomenon. Along the way, we're reminded again and again just how unperturbed Trump's acolytes were by the serial lies and misdemeanors of their candidate, how Trump withstood with nary a scratch innumerable assaults and exposes that would have killed the campaign of any normal politician. Don't look for deep analysis here; that's not Tur's purpose. Just go along for the scariest ride this side of the Kingda Ka roller coaster at Six Flags.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Script Revolution

I posted "Double Trouble" to the Script Revolution website today. Essentially, it does what sites like The Black List do -- allow screenwriters to post their material, allow agents and producers to peruse them -- but for free.

As horrid as the process of selling a script is for those not already plugged into the Hollywood scene, I refuse to pay someone as part of flogging my screenplay. On principle, and because you never know what's a scam and what isn't.

On the other hand, a place that charges nothing should be OK, right?

But...I had to wonder -- cynic that I am -- how are the folks behind Script Revolution paying for the site? What's their angle? My suspicions about any website are legion. There's always a way to make money from getting people to sign on for free. Selling email addresses, collecting data. And so on.

However, as best as I could tell from the internet sleuthing I did, nothing suggests Script Revolution is anything other than what it claims to be.

It's hard to know how useful the site is -- but given how hard it is to get someone to even look at a movie script, well . . . what the hell, right?

As it stands now, after about 350 queries, I managed to get 4-5 producers (can't remember, exactly) to request the whole script.

It's a crazy system.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Now, Screenwriting

I recently completed my first screenplay, "Double Trouble." It's a crime drama, and you can read the first scene by clicking on the third page of this blog. I envision it as a made-for-TV movie myself -- or did, as I was writing it -- but will defer to the expertise of others.

Of course, as any neophyte screenwriter knows, getting your screenplay in front of an agent or producer, much less selling it, is a near-impossible task. But we shall not be defeated! If I learn any tips along the way, I'll pass them on.

One thing I won't do is pay some site to "host" my script so eager Hollywood eyeballs can take a gander. Perhaps those eyeballs are numerous, and perhaps they're movers and shakers in the film industry, but I doubt it.

Nor will I enter the script in any contest. It's just not the kind of screenplay to win any awards. (The one I'm now getting started on ... perhaps.) It's a fairly straightforward crime drama with one exception -- a unique and original premise. (Really.)

Friday, November 14, 2014

Classic Novels I've Never Finished

This article on Moby Dick from the New Yorker got me thinking of classic novels I've never been able to finish, Moby Dick being perhaps first and foremost among them. I found it impossibly dense and turgid, the prose style convoluted and confusing, and it just failed to keep my interest.

War and Peace is another classic that's defeated me. I've started it at least four times and never gotten past page 20. That's probably as far as I got in Pride and Prejudice, too. I forced myself to read Crime and Punishment all the way through, but I'll be damned if I remember much about it or got anything out of it. The only way I got through Thomas Mann's Buddenbrooks was by skimming it and concentrating almost exclusively on the dialogue.

There's a certain pattern here -- I obviously have a problem with the 19th century (I count Buddenbrooks there, even though it was published in 1901), and it doesn't help if a book is long. (On the other hand, I love Dickens and Wuthering Heights -- it really is "the strangest love story every told" -- and I did read every word of Finnegan's Wake, though I now consider that to have been a colossal waste of time.)

I can think of other classics that failed to move me: The Aeneid, The Great Gatsby (which I have read three times, trying to get what everyone else gets about it), Henderson the Rain King (long!), A Passage to India. There doesn't seem to be a pattern after all.

It used to bother me that I couldn't get interested in these books. After all, they're classics, great works of literature. If I didn't get them, what did that say about me and my lack of intellectual heft?

I don't worry about it anymore. The infinite combining and recombining of DNA within our species results in an infinite number of individuals, each with sensibilities and tastes that set him or her apart. The womb is a sort of aesthetic Thunderdome -- no two individuals emerge from it the same.

What famous novel do you find insufferable?

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Author Kathleen Hale Shoots Herself in the Foot Multiple Times Over Goodreads Reviews

Author Kathleen Hale, whose first novel was recently published, has confessed to stalking a book blogger who gave her a lousy review on Goodreads, earning her a bunch of 1-star ratings and generally pissing off book bloggers here, there and everywhere.

I can understand the impulse to strike back at the anonymous person who trashes your book. After all, it's like someone calling your baby ugly. I've been trying for a long time to get Barnes & Noble to remove one review of Tainted Souls, not because it's 1-star, but because it's homophobic. (Near as I can tell, the reviewer took umbrage at what he perceived to be anti-George W. Bush sentiment and hit back by metaphorically calling me a fag. Sigh.)

But, as Hale was warned by any number of people, doing so is a losing proposition. And Hale took her unhappiness to a new and obsessive level, tracking down the book blogger in question, calling her at work, and even showing up on her doorstep. Leaving aside the stalking part, what did she hope to accomplish? Did she really think she was going to strike a blow for liberty and justice?

Now some folks who haven't even read her book are giving it fresh 1-star ratings to show their displeasure at her actions. I think that's wrong, but predictable.

On the other hand, as the old saying goes, there's no such thing as bad publicity, so maybe Hale's misadventure in obsession will pay off in the long run. Should be interesting to see.