At Sundance….. Sloppily Stoking Mass Murder?

Stoker  Written by Wentworth Miller and Erin Cressida Wilson Directed by Chan-Wook Park Starring Nicole Kidman, Mia Wasikowski At Sundance…. This was one of the big premieres that everyone wanted to see, mainly because Nicole Kidman was in the house, but also because it is the first English language movie from the reputed Korean film [Read More…]

Twisted Oscar Amour

The biggest statement of this year’s Oscar nominations is the extraordinarily fawning attention being given to Amour; a very little French-language film written and directed by the ever-despairing Austrian director, Michael Haneke.  The best review I read of the film expressed the tone and “big idea” thusly: “Haneke is playing with the same themes of alienation and [Read More…]

Attn: Writers: “Crafting Movies That Matter: A Two-Day Conference”

For years, my friends in Hollywood and I have had one main gripe at every meeting, lunch, dinner and party:  Hollywood-based storytelling is broken, irrevocably broken, and the whole system needs to be rethought or the incidences of good movies at the theaters will continue to be more and more rare. The remote problem is [Read More…]

Sin in Storytelling

My friend Daniel McInerny (“Son of Ralph”) has a great piece just out on the depictions of evil and sin in art and storytelling.   There’s a nice big quote from me. Hollywood screenwriter Barbara Nicolosi sizes up the distinction between these two approaches in this helpful way: “The depiction of evil in art becomes [Read More…]

Few Perks for the Audience in Wallflower

  The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012) – Written and Directed by Stephen Chbosky, based on his novel of the same name; Stars Emma Watson, Logan Lerman and Ezra Miller; Rated PG-13 for drug use, homosexuality, sexual abuse, bullying, suicide, and every other depressing thing you could throw in a movie about teenagers. This [Read More…]

Back Down is a Union and Government School Smack Down

  Won’t Back Down (2012) – Written By Brin Hill and Daniel Barnz;  Directed by Daniel Barnz;  Starring Maggie Gyllenhaal, Viola Davis, Holly Hunter, and Ving Rhames.  Rated PG for mild language and for showing close ups of union thugs and government schools. I know I’m late to the party on this one, but I [Read More…]

Enter Catharsis

Here’s a nice piece on a new company which I just started to help storytellers hone their work for the screen. “No matter what the project, Vicki and Barbara seek to elevate its story craft and infuse a fresh perspective. Their efforts can bring catharsis, too, to writers and producers struggling with stories they’ve spent [Read More…]

Learn Screenwriting in Phoenix!

Act One is holding one of its amazing screenwriting weekends next month in Phoenix.  Seats are limited so don’t dally. [Read more…]

Trouble is a Solid Double

Trouble with the Curve (2012) – Written by Randy Brown; Directed by Robert Lorenz;  Starring Clint Eastwood, Amy Adams and John Goodman;  Rated PG-13 for blasphemy and other crass language; With the pacing and Americana scenery of an afternoon at a high school baseball game in anywhere USA, Trouble with the Curve is an enjoyable, [Read More…]

Under Homeland’s Power

I’m irrationally excited for the second season of Homeland, on Showtime.  I think it’s the best television I’ve seen since those astonishing first and second seasons of the remake of Battlestar Galactica back in 2003.  The Season 1 finale was so agonizingly good, it had me writhing and sputtering on the sofa with a blanket [Read More…]

Mastering Pretentious Obscenity

(The Master (2012); Written and Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson; Starring Philip Seymour Hoffman, Joaquin Phoenix, Amy Adams;  Rated R for obscenity) It probably means that I’ve been in Hollywood too long, that I think I was more offended by this movie’s profound and sustained boringness as opposed to its pervasive and gratuitous obscenity.  Don’t [Read More…]

Odd Life Lacks Life

(The Odd Life of Timothy Green; 2012; Written by Peter Hedges and Ahmet Zappa; Directed by Peter Hedges;  Starring Jennifer Garner, Joel Edgerton, CJ Adams and Odeya Rush) The hardest part of writing a family movie today is incarnating conflict.   I’m not really sure in which of our many societal dysfunctions this problem originates.  Certainly, [Read More…]

What Frank Stole in His Glory Days

Robot and Frank (2012); Written by Christopher D. Ford; Directed by Jake Shreirer; Starring Frank Langella, Susan Sarandon, James Marsden, Liv Tyler, Jeremy Sisto.  PG-13 This is a bittersweet, quirky little movie that should win lead, Frank Langella, an Oscar nomination.  With a small scope and probably an equally low budget, the film shows that, [Read More…]

Not Mincing Words

  (The Words, Written and directed by Brian Klugman and Leon Sternthal; PG-13) I liked The Words when I saw it, but I have to qualify that “liking” by adding that I saw it at Sundance. It was all the rage this year in Park City, mainly because, as one film student expressed it to me [Read More…]