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Top Five Directors That Marvel Studios Needs

Now that Marvel Studios’ resident miracle maker Kevin Feige doesn’t have to answer to a creative committee for major upcoming decisions regarding the properties at hand he has the option to court talent and crew like never before. Ike Perlmutter, the reportedly penny pinching CEO has been moved on to the Marvel Television department and Mr. Feige, along with Louis D’Esposito and Victoria Alonso, now answer only to Alan Horn, head of Disney Studios. This is excellent news for the throngs of Marvel Studios fans old and new as it allows the studio to freely fund their creative projects the way they want. This means previously considered “Untouchable” actors and filmmakers are now conceivably on the table. Below I’ve listed the five directors that I believe would most improve the Marvel comics properties and help bring not only their inherent audiences with them, but also new and refreshing perspectives to the anthology of films which is something that is beginning to become more needed as time goes on. Similarly to how Marvel fixed it’s third act issues with Captain America’s first flick I believe this new era of possibilities will only strengthen the stories and execution that come with the territory. Here are my thoughts on who should join the roster.

1 JJ Abrams

While JJ is currently off in a galaxy far far away he will need to make more films after his deep space sandbox days are over. It helps that he’s only committed himself to episode 7 so that he may return to original works, or other creative properties that he would like to immerse himself in. He’s seemingly become a master at jumping into established franchises and making magic out of them, ie Star Trek, Mission Impossible, & (hopefully) Star Wars. So I wouldn’t put it as too far a stretch of the imagination for him to take on a Marvel Comics property. I think, and this one might be a stretch, but hear me out, that Abrams would be an excellent choice for “Thor: Ragnarok”. Abrams has proven that he can be comfortable in the cosmic side of things while this project would offer that up in a fresh and exciting way. Personally I’ve quite enjoyed the “Thor” movies but there could easily be an argument made that out of all the main Avengers (save Hulk) that the Norse God’s trilogy has been the weakest overall. The series needs a shot in the arm for its biggest story yet and Ragnarok is HUGE, it will need a crew and director suited for the trials and tribulations that this story demands. JJ Abrams would be the best creative solution to Thor’s issues in my mind.

2 Christopher Nolan

The man that brought Batman back to life is no stranger to mind bending genre fair and he very well might be the dressing that the “Inhumans” movie will need. With his revered use of practical effects mixed with comprehensive CGI and the ability to pull real character depth out of traditionally ill fated on screen conceptions of villains a la Two Face then I see nothing but potential for this pairing. Nolan might be busy with a trilogy of “Akira” movies for Warner Brothers but if he ever wants to try the other side of the Superhero fence I firmly believe it should be with the fantastical Inhumans.

3 Kathryn Bigelow

There are multiple reasons Kathryn Bigelow would be a fine choice for a number of caped genre fair flicks but there’s really only one character in mind that I think would go hand in hand with her style and substance choices. Captain Marvel. The character is going to be a powerhouse of a force in the MCU and she needs to be handled with care,  remember, she’s the only leading lady in Marvel’s care as of right now. Bigelow’s style and direction would only benefit the subject matter but also the character of Carol Danvers as a person, the director has proven she can take great care in fostering strong female characters. And we can’t forget to mention that Ms Danvers herself comes from a military background, another checked box in Bigelow’s filmography. Bigelow is the obvious choice.

4 Danny Boyle

Danny Boyle is very good at taking a unique perspective and flexing it over odd creative choices. Case in point, “Trainspotting”, “Trance”, and “28 Days Later”, well, 28 days isn’t as weird as it was a new take on the age old Zombie flick that surpassed expectations. This entry is more of a theoretical choice when it comes to the specific film I think he would be best at, but if the MCU heads ever decide to make a “Moonknight” movie, they should remember Danny Boyle. Moonknight is such an unrecognized and underused title when compared to the big four (Avengers) he would be an excellent palette cleanser from what what came before. Marc Spector, the Moon Knight, is a vigilante that brutally delivers justice while receiving instruction on high from the Egyptian god Khonshu.. and he has multiple personalities… and Schizophrenia. So is he really hearing declarations from the God? That’s just part of the fun. There’s no doubt in my mind that Danny Boyle would have an absolute blast making this weird character come alive onscreen, and he should!

5 Steven Spielberg

Even with his recent comments about the Superhero genre eventually going the way of the western, who wouldn’t want the king of movie magic laying his fingerprints over one of the comic giant’s properties? I can think of no better option than Spiderman himself. Arguably the most well known Superhero the world over, Spiderman would the quintessential choice for this legend of filmmaking. Think about it, make Tom Hanks Uncle Ben, allowing for a brief cameo so as not to use up too much of his time and voila! Perfection. Can you think of a better pairing between director and character than this? The character with the most heart getting the director with the most human touch and magical whimsy ever to be involved together? Shoot me now because this is the end all be all of theoretical-but-totally-not-gonna-happen ideas. I can dream though..

Honorable Mentions

Quentin Tarantino

I wish I could say I’d feel comfortable with meshing Tarantino into the Marvel universe but other than the Punisher I see no real possibility for this one. I’m sure he’s do a fantastic revenge thriller for the character, but would the director even want to get involved?

Phil Lord & Christopher Miller

If we can’t get Spielberg then Lord and Miller would be excellent choices for the Spiderman character, maybe for one of his sequels? Their brand of humor and general favorability would mesh wonderfully with the quips and heart surrounding Spidey, which makes all the sense in the world as they are already working on some sort of animated Spiderman film, so I’m clearly not alone in this assumption.

So there you have it, those are the directors that I feel would be the best options for Marvel Studios to pursue in the coming years now that money isn’t as much of an obstacle as it had been. Hopefully we’ll see one of these visionaries take on a Marvel property, I’d love to see what they do with the boundless options this MCU sandbox has afforded us!

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Monday Movie Pitch [On a Tuesday]: Expendables 4

First of all apologies for the late Movie Pitch this week, occasionally life can take precedence, and this week it did just that. Enough with the speed bumps however because this week I have a tantalizing pitch that I’ve been stewing over for quite some time now: The next iteration of “The Expendables” Franchise.

On the whole I’ve enjoyed “The Expendables” movies but as they continue the movies have an increasingly cumbersome issue with each episodic adventure. Each movie feels like just like the other but with different palettes of actors or explosive situations. It could be said that Marvel Studios films are getting somewhat into this same issue of overly consistent tone, but that’s a whole other issue in itself. As far as I’m concerned Sly and the Gang need to up the ante and change things up big time in the next movie or the franchise will die, especially given the horrific box office of last year’s third entry in the action heavy series. Granted, the numbers were particularly low because of the movie being leaked online two weeks before the release date, but any way you slice it 6 million for an opening weekend with the amount of star power involved just doesn’t add up. That’s simply bad news for everyone involved.

What I would do to revitalize the series is to play to the crowd of the audience, pitting the older action stars up against impossible odds, odds of a particular magnitude. Introduce a superhero into the mix. It’s the perfect direction for the series to reassert itself among the crowded super-powered market with a unique perspective. The trick is to cast a powerhouse in this role, somebody that’s charismatic, able to do action/CGI sequences well, and bring audiences along with him. That man should be nobody other than Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.

I can already see the general outline of the plot. Act one has the Expendables sent to take out a young dictator on the world stage that has gotten unwisely bombastic with his nuclear weapon potential. North Korean assumptions can obviously be made here. Have Stallone and the team knock the palace doors down only to be out-staged by this new incredible force. They’re all out of the job after this sequence of events as the “hero” attempts to do as much as possible for humankind in eradicating war and instituting world peace. Eventually he must become either mad with power or deduce that he should be the earth’s sole leader because multiple sovereign nations will only ever result in war and discord. This is where the Expendables become important once more. After multiple countries attempt to nuke the Superman-like hero, and fail, the secret agencies that have been hiring the Expendables since day one step in and introduce some plot device or perceived weakness etc whatever they can do to trick, reason with, or kill the hero.

We could play into the otherworldly alien hero raised among humanity to save/destroy us storyline but that Superman “skin” has been used countless times as is. I prefer a “radiation/accidental act that transforms the everyday man” sort of event for this central character’s origin. For international appeal, and to make more sense for the global scale of the story, including new additions to the Expendables team from other nations would only help the formation of the group.

My top choices for additions to shake up the core team are as follows:

Jackie Chan: I’ve personally wanted JC in this franchise from the beginning since his contemporary Jet Li has had a spot on each film, small as they may have been. I shouldn’t have to explain why this would be a great deal of fun. Especially if he is against the use of guns.

Kurt Russell: Adding Kurt Russell to any movie is a wise decision in my opinion but he’s proven he’s ready to get back into the limelight with his “Furious 7” and “Hateful eight” roles and I’m sure any role they craft for him would be a blast.

Nicholas Cage: The franchise has gotten a bit ridiculous and if they want to be self aware and referential then adding in Nic Cage would be the just desserts. Especially if they need anyone to go crazy. He could be a conspiracy nut that knows everything on Dwayne Johnson’s character. Woody Harrelson would also fit this type of role… or Charlie Day, but that’s just because I love Charlie Day and will gladly advocate more roles for him.

Laurence Fishburne: The man that made Morpheus work has a certain gravitas to himself that would only help to bring balance to the team, plus he’s proven himself many times over the years for the type of work this film would likely entail.

Tom Cruise: Incredibly unlikely I know, but maybe they could squeeze an extended cameo sequence out of him similarly to how they utilized Chuck Norris in the second flick?

Charlie Hunnam: After “Pacific Rim” and “Sons of Anarchy” he could definitely be comfortable with a gun and growl, plus Stallone seems to enjoy the idea of “Young Blood” being added to the team.

Vin Diesel: Between saying “I am Groot” a hundred times and driving off of cliffs Diesel might be too busy to take on another franchise role anytime soon but no one can deny how much he could bring to the table in this sort of setting.

Idris Elba: Citing “Luther”, “Pacific Rim”, and his recurring “Thor” roles it comes to be seen that not only does Elba have a propensity for genre fair, but he’s a damn fine actor that can handle a one liner, or a monologue. Give that man a gun already!

Gerard Butler: “Shoot ’em up” alone has given this man enough action film cred to be involved in this series, let alone his glorious “300” role as King Leonidas. Give that man a sword, or a gun, or both- and let him have at it!

Chiwetel Ejiofor: I seriously doubt he would even want to take on this caliber of role, but his choice of the villain in the upcoming “Dr. Strange” film opens the conversation for more ridiculous options than the Oscar level work he’s currently being more associated with.

A few other recommendations for this film:

Make it a Hard “R” rating. All, or at least most of, the actors in the franchise come from action series where they are almost constantly killing hordes of bad guys in the process of achieving their goals, let them be who they want to be. Let the movie be what it wants to be too, going PG-13 for a wider audience only alienates the core audience that clamors for this type of movie anyways. Oh and cut the CGI blood splatter and terribly awful renderings of tanks and helicopters, we can all see how terrible it is and in the year 2015 we shouldn’t have to see blatant budget choices every time a bad guy bites the dust.

Put Stallone back in the director’s chair again. I stand by the fact that the original Expendables was the best in the series. While I enjoyed the second one there were clear losses of vision and expertise on several levels that Sly had covered in the first piece. Granted I know this series is not known for Oscar nominated performances or the world’s most stunning cinematography, but the first film excelled in areas where the sequels lacked. Having Stallone back in the saddle again might alleviate these issues and help to keep the tone and feel he wants consistent with what ends up being the wide release version.

Kill one of the main characters. They are called the Expendables after all, right? At this point in the game a death in the family, and I mean a meaningful death *SPOILERS* not what we got in two where a newcomer is introduced and killed two scenes later. It would be a good motivator for the team, but it only works emotionally for the audience if we’ve invested in the character. I nominate Dolph Lundgren’s character. He’s gone through a lot in the series and it would maker sense thematically to painfully cut that chord. Nothing against Lundgren though- he’s great.

All in all this could be a potentially huge game changer for this series if pulled off well. Obviously there needs to be a lot more thought put into Dwayne Johnson’s character to make sure he is overwhelming but not omnipotent as well as pacing issues, and having enough for the action guys to do what they do best, shoot, cut, blow up, and punches to the face! Hopefully Sly can make the next one work because I enjoy the series and love the talent involved, its because of this that I want each installment to be better than the last. That’s my movie pitch for this week!

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Heroes: Kevin Smith

One thing I’ve begun to notice when bringing up my favorite directors is that people always seem to nod in approval when mentioning The Coen Brothers, Edgar Wright, Spielberg, Nolan, Abrams, but every so often when the name Kevin Smith is uttered, often alongside Tarantino, about twenty to forty percent raise an eyebrow, or their face contorts into a look of questionable reasoning. Now, I know the man is not everybody’s slice of pie, but I believe he’s one of the best, if not most well known, indie filmmakers that made it. He’s a goddamn sage of the indie film community for Christ’s sake! So, here’s my defense for Kevin Smith’s place on my mantle of inspiration.

One of the main reasons his films caught my attention in college was because he was doing something palpable with filmmaking. In my wide eyed early ambitions of deciding that film was something I wanted to do Kevin Smith’s work made it seem possible. Were the laughs somewhat childish, yet adult in content? Yes. Did I laugh every time Jason Mewes found a new way to incorporate the word “Fuck” into every other sentence? Yes, yes I did. In fact it was the first Clerks that really truly opened my eyes to the fact that if you wanted to make a movie, all you had to do was gather some well trusted close friends, find a decent location, and have at it!

After I became acclimated to Smith’s directorial style I found his Q and A series of videos starting with “Too Fat for 40” and seemingly immediately after came “Burn in Hell Kevin Smith”. Those two specials motivated and inspired me more than I could even imagine, because now not only had I seen his work and thought “I think I can do that” there was the former beloved Mute telling me, “Anybody can do this, Hell if I can do this, You can do this!” His encouragement of art was astounding, world breaking to me, but not in a negative light, it merely broke my perception of a world where only connected studio backed directors like Spielberg and the like were allowed to create magic behind that coveted curtain of movie making.

The next big moment of surprise from Kevin Smith for me came in the form of “Red State”. Here was a movie that was tonally, stylistically, and creatively different from anything he had done before. The fat guy from jersey did indeed have another ace up his sleeve, he had become a chameleon in his work, proving to me that if you are passionate enough and pour your heart and soul into something you can chase your heart’s fancy. That you can change and not be locked into an accepted version of you for the rest of your life. That was a powerful message to me. You don’t have to fit into the box that everyone expects you to fit in, if you simply accept yourself and follow your imagination with a vigor and unrelenting fervor, you can succeed, even if that success is a bunch of radical church nuts kidnapping teenagers in the middle of nowhere to cleanse them of their sins. I didn’t say success was measured by the amount of “fucks” you get out of a movie, cause if so Smith would have four oscars, just short of Scorsese, cause really, “Wolf of Wall Street” had a lot of “fucks”.

I haven’t even mentioned the podcasting phenomenon, his ruling of the social media that is twitter, his complete knowledge of Star Wars and Batman, or how he goes out to film fests, film schools, and everywhere in-between to talk about film, inspire new and upcoming filmmakers, and probably tell a joke or two about the gooey origins of every human being that we all so lovingly don’t want to mention in public. The man is a force to behold within the last five to eight years, he “quit” film, then found some inspiration of his own and came back into the fold. Not everybody went to see “Tusk”, the box office numbers proves this. But I did. Was it my favorite Kevin Smith movie? No, but it wasn’t horrible, and hell I had fun going late at night with friends to a totally weird monster flick. We had a good time with it. The most important part though was that Smith chose to make a movie that he was creatively invested in. Because of “Tusk” we’re now getting a sequel to “Mallrats” and a third “Clerks” movie. This, I am okay with. Not to shut down the True North Trilogy either because I’m quite looking forward to “Yoga Hoosers” and “Moose Jaws” in particular.

So Kevin Smith will be around for awhile creating more stories. Whether he will hit the highs of his original works or not is up to the future, but personally I’ll enjoy the ride as it happens. I’m glad to have the guy around, it just proves a good indie director’s merit and gumption can keep him around for the long haul. Oh and for the record, my favorite movie of his is “Dogma”, it’s just wonderfully written and was an excellent chapter in the book of his works. Write on Silent Bob, write on.

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Movie-Pitch Mondays! Remake of “The Magnificent Seven”

Starting this week my goal is to keep pace with more weekly postings, Movie Pitch Mondays is that first step. This is where I imagine how I would approach the casting, the direction of plot, and crew that inhabit the production of this theoretical film. Description and vision of each film can vary from piece to piece.

For my first pitch I would love to see a remake of the old western classic “The Magnificent Seven”. Which itself was an Old-West style remake of Akira Kurosawa’s Japanese-language film “Seven Samurai”. I know there’s a current remake of this property under way right now, set to be directed by Antoine Fuqua with Chris Pratt, Denzel Washington, & Vincent D’Onofrio among others signed to star. This is simply how I would arrange the property.

The Cast, with character descriptions:

Tom Hanks as the Sheriff with a heart of gold and wit of steel.

Aaron Paul as the Deputy, loyal and proud yet a shadowy past.

James McAvoy as the angry Scottish indentured Railroad worker.

Simon Pegg as the Neurotic Englishman that translates for McAvoy’s character, inventive.

Michael Pena as a wanted bank robber from south of the border seeking asylum.

Vin Diesel as the tough Miner that’s had enough and demands a call to action.

Robert Downey Jr. as the devilishly charming Southern Gentleman, in from the East.

Patrick Stewart as The face of bureaucratic, crushing, power. Joyless.

Tim Roth as Business partner to Stewart’s character, The Good Cop to Stewart’s bad.

The Crew:

Director: JJ Abrams

Writer: Christopher McQuarrie

I chose JJ for this piece not only because I personally want to see what he could do in this most classic of sandboxes, but also because I believe he would handle that territory of filmmaking well. I would trust his handling of the genre. After “Star Trek”, and now “Wars” a western will almost be akin to retiring if we’re scaling for box office numbers anyways. JJ has a unique visual style, and I’m assuming his cinematographers would come along with him on subsequent projects. He can handle a piece such as this, a big ensemble cast that has many moving parts while maintaining just the right slow burn pace that is representative of the genre as a whole, but respectful of its varied and long history. What I think JJ brings to this potential film that is most needed is his sense of “Magic” that he has somehow acquired, that almost unfathomable subtle touch of magic that makes the film feel impervious to negativity. If that makes any sense. He’s very Spielbergian in that way, which is why I also chose to add in Tom Hanks as the emotional anchor of the piece.

Christopher McQuarrie has a history of delivering knock out screenplays, and just wrote and directed the latest “Mission Impossible” installment, “Rogue Nation”. With “The Usual Suspects” in particular, and “Edge of Tomorrow” in a lesser way, McQuarrie has proven himself capable of multifaceted and complex screenplays. Though this film won’t be a mind blowing reveal like the ending of “The Usual Suspects” it will have multiple things going on all at once and I believe his style would only compliment it.

I see the plot essentially maintaining the general idea that a group of gunslingers ban together to save a small Mexican town overrun by bandits. However in my revision we would place the setting in America and the Sheriff is the initial push in banding together forces both local and afar to save the town from a crushing pair of British businessman that bought their way into the Oil business and need a railway to run their product through the town for high speed purposes. From there the film almost writes itself to be honest. First the threat is established by the foreign businessmen, then when they are turned down a terrible act of violence is carried out. Perhaps the child of Vin Diesel’s character? Dark, but a high character motivator. You’d have your traditional recruitment scenes wherein Hanks rounds up anyone who isn’t too scared of the threat aka Vin Diesel. Next up, the people that have great needs for which they will join up if reimbursed/helped, a la Pena, Pegg, and McAvoy. Lastly, the wild card, or Robert Downey Jr’s character, the charismatic big talker blown in from the east who is really a washed up legend and feels obliged to take up the cause.Lest the townspeople neglect him or worse, find out his true tale and exile him.

This could be a really fun throwback to Western and Samurai tales. I may have wandered too far from the original concept, but every remake has to have its own skin, it’s own purpose, otherwise why do it at all? Obviously the third Act has to have large numbers of muscle/militia bought by the businessmen that end up carrying out an onslaught on the town and its people. Maybe even have Aaron Paul’s young and nimble deputy fall in battle as in the initial Western remake? Like I said there’s a lot you could do with this, I love the idea of it and while this will look almost nothing like the actual remake that is being made right now, I can dream, and you should too! That’s my Movie Pitch for this week!

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Passion. Drive. Grit.

I’m gonna take a moment here to say something to all you would be filmmakers out there (fyi I count myself among that crowd).

Don’t. Give. Up.

If storytelling is in your blood, if its the thing that captures your attention from the moment you wake til the second your head hits that pillow, if its what inspires awe, laughter, even sadness, or simple reflection, then embrace it! Embrace that undying need to create, to inspire in others what moves you most!

I am fully aware of all the things that stop somebody from going out there and shooting a movie. Making a movie is a huge ambiguous, gelatinous, shapeless thing, it is different every time someone puts pen to paper, or powers on a camera, or buckles that last belt on their costume. It cannot be done alone, nor should it be. There are many, many, many, many, many, many variables to consider, and problems to overcome. Chief among them being the simple task of having enough money to even be able to start. That’s where I’m at. I get it. I have no gear, a handful of friends spread across several states that have interests in film, but reality steps in and takes precedence.

For Now…

My point is, do what you can, when you can. Have an idea? Write it down! I am no stranger to starting a billion ideas before finishing one. Clarity and focus is key. Knowledge is also important! Read up on it all! Do your homework. Get acquainted with the lingo, at least the basics. A particularly influential Art teacher I had in High School taught me that you have to learn the rules first, so you know what to break later. Here’s my current film related reading list, some I have completed, others I have yet to start, but they cover almost every aspect an indie filmmaker might want to know:

1 “The Filmmaker’s Handbook: A comprehensive guide for the digital age by Steven Ascher & Edward Pincus. My Thoughts: Its a bit of a behemoth, but packed with facts, details, and techniques. It solidly explains everything from how a camera works on its most primitive level, all the way to the heat of production and post. This might be the most info you get for your money out of all the books on this list.

2  “Making Movies” by Sidney Lumet. My Thoughts: I hadn’t heard of director Sidney Lumet before this (I know, shame on me), but I immediately respected him for his process of filmmaking. He was very detail oriented and planned things out way ahead of time, his style of controlling the creation of his films was a unique and fascinating one. If you haven’t seen any of his movies, check out “Serpico”, “Network”, and “Dog Day Afternoon”. Personally I loved all three and they made me realize Al Pacino was capable of more than a well placed “Ooo Aaahh”.

3 “Filmmaking: The Hard Way” by Josh Folan. My Thoughts: This book is a case study of indie director Josh Folan’s first feature length flick. If you’re wondering how other people in your shoes did it, check this out! He details the entire process from pre-production all the way to distribution. Plus the guy’s a very active and responsive social media personality, nice guy, and he’s totally willing to help with any questions that you might have (at least it seemed so from my short exchange with him).

“On Film-making: An Introduction to the craft of the Director” by Alexander Mackendrick. My Thoughts: Just because the framework of the story is “old school” in its time and references doesn’t mean the core ideas are “Out of Touch”. Plus if “The Third Man” comes up and you still haven’t seen that, you really need to stop what you’re doing and go watch that, a classic, and great, noir film starring Orson Welles (of “War of the Worlds” [not that one you mook] and “Citizen Kane” fame).

“Tough Shit” by Kevin Smith. My Thoughts: Even if you don’t necessarily care for Smith, this book still has valuable information in it. It details how he took his film “Red State” across continental America and self distributed it proving some twenty years after “Clerks” that he still is the indie kid that could, and did.

“Writing the Character Centered Screenplay” by Andrew Horton. My Thoughts: I’ve personally always had a bit of trouble adhering to the script format, and this helped break down the essentials for me, and helped me to appreciate a different, more character oriented take on the form. Very Useful.

7 “Film Directing Shot by Shot: Visualizing from concept to screen” by Steven D. Katz. My Thoughts: As an extremely visual person this one is VERY helpful to me as sometimes I just need to see it to better understand it, helpful for story-boarding and the multitude of different shots out there.

“Rebels on The Backlot: Six Maverick directors and how they conquered the Hollywood studio system” by Sharon Waxman. My Thoughts: Reads like a bit of an expose on the six most famous indie directors of the nineties at times, but I found it mesmerizing to learn how all of them worked so differently from each other, and how each arrived at success in wildly different ways. Directors include: Quentin Tarantino, Steven Soderbergh, David Fincher, Paul Thomas Anderson, David O. Russell, and Spike Jonze.

“True and False: Heresy and Common sense for the actor” by David Mamet. My Thoughts: Haven’t even opened this one yet, but from my time working at a theatre during college, I know David Mamet knows his stuff when it comes to acting, or so I’m told. Most likely worthwhile.

10 “Making a Good Script Great” A guide for writing and rewriting by Hollywood script consultant Linda Seger. My Thoughts: This one is just a great layer of extra fluff knowledge backing up your primary writing knowledge, it does focus on a good rewrite, which is an immensely important aspect.

If you’re not much of a bookworm then I have one last suggestion for you.“The Story of Film: An Odyssey” is a 15 episode series, one hour each, that features an in depth look into the entire history of filmmaking. I’ve found it to be an inherently fascinating watch. The series is chock full of knowledge on essentially every aspect of how filmmaking has evolved over time and I strongly suggest anyone that has a loose or even decent grasp on the history of filmmaking to check it out, it’s on Netflix, and surely available elsewhere as well.

Well there you go folks! I hope you find something useful in all that, I sure did! Remember, just be as productive as possible in your current situation! Never give up, and keep dreaming!

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Possibly Unpopular Opinion: Mel Gibson

Mel Gibson has become by his own choices in life both an amazingly competent director and actor, but by the same hand he has also made some severely poor choices in his personal life at varying times of distress. My argument here is not to convince anyone to forget the things he said, but to understand not only the context of those situations, but that he apologized profusely, and has not committed such grievances since that time. Plus, outright dooming an actor for previously unwise decisions isn’t always the right way to go. Think about it, if we hadn’t all given Robert Downey Jr. a second chance the Marvel Cinematic Universe would either look very different than it does today or not exist at all. So with that lets explore why Mel Gibson should be considered an icon in the world of film.

Mad Max. It feels strangely poignant to come full circle with the renewed interest in Gibson’s original Road Warrior, albeit in the new flesh of Tom Hardy. “Mad Max: Fury Road” was an insanely impressive feat of filmmaking, but George Miller started the character off decades ago and was Gibson’s first major role in movies. The original Mad Max movies combined insane stunt work, gripping visuals and score, with the quiet charm subtly imbued in Max through Gibson’s emoting in an intense and gritty post apocalyptic setting. If you haven’t seen them, I highly suggest it, “The Road Warrior” in particular is one of the best sequels of all time in the new and exciting ways the Max’s world has expanded to become even more mad than the original. In fact, for a taste, check out this link below* in it IGN dissects one of the initial scenes in the sequel that sets the tone for the rest of the film.

After the success of the Mad Max movies Mel Gibson became a a sought out figure in the movie making business. His next major role came in the form of Martin Riggs in “The Lethal Weapon” movies. Likely the best of the “Buddy Cop” action flicks Gibson does a 180 from the solemn and deadly, yet speculative, Max to the absolute balls to the walls unpredictable bolt of lightning that is Riggs. Nothing but testosterone and one liners “Lethal Weapon” is truly a product of its time, and it is a damn fun time. Throughout the four movies Riggs and Danny Glover’s Roger Murtaugh get into all sorts of collateral damage, high speed car chases, and plenty of fists are thrown, and bullets fired in the name of taking down the bad guys. Not exactly high level acting, but oh so much fun. **If you haven’t (somehow) seen any of these movies yet I’ve linked the trailer for the first entry in the series below, it’s wonderfully 80′s and oh yes, plenty of neon wide font graphics to boot!

It’s after this period that Gibson ascends to greatness in my opinion. In ”BraveHeart”, pretty much the greatest thing Gibson’s ever done, he portrays William Wallace in a historical epic set in 13th century Scotland. The film depicts the Scottish revolt against the iron-fisted rule of the English led by none other than Wallace himself. The film was a critical and commercial success for Gibson’s directorial debut netting him the Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Cinematography Oscars among others. I could go on and on about “Braveheart” but trust me, if you haven’t seen it, stop reading this right now, go watch it, and come back in three hours for the rest, believe me, it’s worth the runtime. Again, here’s the trailer*** just in case you need persuading, I’d link you to the great speech at the end, but if you haven’t seen it, you need to build up to that moment for the initial viewing. Here I will also include the trailer for “The Patriot” **** Mainly because its essentially just “BraveHeart” in America, but don’t let that stop you, its a damn fine historical war epic like its Scottish predecessor. Gibson’s acting in the Patriot might also be slightly better than his previous efforts, I say this because he is really, really good in several scenes and I would challenge anyone that claims Gibson can’t act to watch this movie in entirety because it gets tearfully emotional and powerful at times. Another solid performance to add to Gibson’s repertoire.

After this period things get somewhat sticky for The Lethal Weapon with the lucrative, yet disappointing “Signs” and “The Passion of The Christ”. Some of you out there might love these two movies, but here is the speed bump in quality content for me concerning Mel. “Signs” wasn’t really his fault, and I’ll give the movie some credit, there are times it works with its scenes setting up tension. However, that Shyamalan twist with the water was just too silly for me,

*SPOILERS!*

Why would those aliens invade a planet mostly covered by the one substance that can kill them?! You can make all the “That’s why they were only in the cornfields invading people” arguments you want, but guess what? Farmers use water every god damn day to WATER their crops!! I mean, c’mon, WE’RE mostly made out of water!!! Ugh. Okay, so that was mostly aimed at the terribleness of Director M. Night Shyamalan, but I digress, you lost me on that acting choice Mel.

As far as “Passion of The Christ” goes, Gibson may know how to direct a movie well (remember Braveheart?), and technically he might be a genius because of the rampant religious fanaticism that fueled the box office for this movie, but is it really even a movie? I say no. It’s literally just two hours of Jesus getting his ass kicked, brutally. Then they do what we all know the movie was leading up to, and crucify him. I know, I know, but hear me out, if you have essentially no build up to the brutality, why do I as the viewer care? “He’s JESUS though!” I digress, in the realm of the story, you need to give me something more than just a hell of an ass whooping for that long, demi-god or trinity member status does not make up for a lack of substance. Also, I haven’t seen that movie in forever so maybe I’m just being too harsh here, but I really did not care for it at the time.

Fast forward a few years and you have a wildly different movie come from The Road Warrior’s creation, “Apocalypto”. This was a return to directing form for Gibson, done entirely in subtitles and extremely intense once the action sets in motion, this movie was a return to Gibson’s previously well mined storyline arcs of “The little man gets pushed and he pushes back harder for his freedom”. The story takes place in undiscovered central america during the height of the Aztecs rule. The story centers on a small tribe that is torn apart by the imposing rule of the warlike Aztecs. They invade and kill whoever imposes them while gathering young men for rituals and slaves, then they simply leave the small children behind with their village burning and their dead lying about the place. Nasty. One young man of the captives has a wife left safely behind in a well and throughout the rest of the film he is simply trying to return to save her and his young child. It gets rather heart-poundingly extreme from there and I wouldn’t want to ruin it for you, but there is a scene where the main character essentially just runs for days while being relentlessly pursued! Check it out, again, trailer below. *****

So, what has he been up to lately you ask? After a few years passed since his public meltdown/racist/anti-Semitic episode, and everyone cooled down, Gibson returned to several acting roles. Notable mentions here being his quirky yet charming role in Director Jodie Foster’s romantic dramedy “The Beaver”. I’m including it here to showcase Gibson’s range, but also, it really was a heartfelt quirky charming bit of a movie.Not his best work, but a good deviation nonetheless.****** He’s also starred in several smaller projects like “Get The Gringo” and “Edge of Darkness” but they were more or less just “ok” genre pieces. The crazier titles he’s been a part of since then include his villainous roles in “Machete Kills” and ”The Expendables 3″. Both are ridiculous but fun in different ways and if you enjoy a good mindless action flick, they’re both worth a watch. The third Expendables entry may have under performed massively at the box office (though that may have been due to the film leaking a full two weeks before the release date) but its still chock full of sizzling action sequences, and Gibson gets to chew some scenery and he looks like he’s having a hell of a time with Stallone and the rest of the gang, here’s a bit of dialogue for fun!******* Machete Kills even has Charlie Sheen as the President of the United States. Tiger Blood does wonders for the campaign trail I suppose.

What’s next for this controversial character? It could seemingly be anything at this point in time. My point here is that if we can all let Tom Cruise get back into the business and prove his entertainment value once more a la “Edge of Tomorrow” or “Mission Impossible Ghost Protocol” then we should all at least give him a shot when he does try for something worthwhile. Robert Downey Jr. has been publicly rooting for Gibson to be involved in the Marvel cinematic Universe, and I’m just saying, how cool would it be if he turned out to be Star Lord’s father? Take my money please. Until he does something bigger and better he’ll most likely do bit acting jobs that he’s sees as somewhat lucrative or at least a good bit of fun a la “Machete Kills”, there’s even a rumor that he’ll reprise his role for the third movie, “Machete Kills, in Space” I’m not kidding, check the IMDB link below. Personally I hope he continues making solid acting or directing choices because he’s proven that if he cares about a project and really puts his blood, sweat, and tears into it, then it’ll turn into a great film. He can do it. We might just have to let him.

*http://www.ign.com/articles/2015/05/23/action-analysis-the-road-warrior

**https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GUorM4nTX7k

***https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WtO3CsleMDg

****https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P5u1am7pmrw

*****https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ngWBddVNVZs

******https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YBDJebGQTaw

*******https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IhZ1xdInaPY

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000154/

film

Rant Time: Hell Ride

This where I take the time to funnel all of my negativity regarding movies into one, hopefully funny, place. Note that from here on out there will (most likely) be an abundance of expletives and spoilers for any titles mentioned. Remember, I’m not (probably) as irate as it may seem, this “Character” is only a version of me. You’ve been warned.

Have you ever heard of actor/writer/director Larry Bishop? No? Well get ready folks cause this man’s story may have you laughing in tears, or you’ll have blood vessels popping from the insanity of his creative choices.

Back in College there was a time when my friends and I endlessly consumed terrible, terrible movies on repeat. I’m still in awe of why we did this to ourselves. “Hell Ride” was the first movie of that tradition. A friend from back home had sent me a bunch of movies for my college friends and I to watch, he wasn’t even entirely sure of all the titles he’d thrown in that box. Well, after going through a few good and/or entertaining titles we came upon the monstrosity that is “Hell Ride”.

Apparently, the story goes that small time actor/filmmaker Larry Bishop, son of Ratpack member Joey Bishop, chatted up directing legend Quentin Tarantino on the set of “Kill Bill 2”. Bishop had a small role in the film, as Strip club owner “Larry Gomez”, a fairly forgettable role in all honesty. Apparently that’s when Bishop told Tarantino of an idea he had for a Motorcycle Revenge Flick in the vein of “Chrome and Hot Leather” and “Angel Unchained”. Granted, I haven’t seen those movies, but I assure you, he missed the mark. Tarantino reportedly told Bishop that if he ever got that idea off the ground he’d help him put it out there. I always assume this conversation happened while Tarantino was walking between sets with Bishop trailing behind and Quentin eventually muttering “Yeah sure kid” with Bishop eventually holding Tarantino to that promise later. *That can be the ONLY reason Tarantino’s name is plastered all over the sad marketing for this movie.**Sidenote:I’ve included a link to the trailer below so you can fully understand the shitstorm that this movie truly is.

Okay, now strap in, because now I will do you the disservice of describing this movie. The Basic plot to this movie is that a decades old rivalry between two biker gangs is reignited. Okay, not a terrible idea so far right? It could go places. Just wait. So, Larry Bishop himself plays the character of “Pistolero”, deduct a point, that is the leader of “The Victors”, make that two points. In this gang there are two other main characters that are loyal to Pistolero’s leadership, Michael Madsen as “The Gent”, and Eric Balfour as “Comanche”. Yes, those are the ACTUAL character names. There’s even a throwaway character named APE SHIT, Motherfucker, are you kidding me? Anyways, these two idiots supply a lot of the terrible things that are said and done in this movie, and by terrible things, I mean, lines of dialogue that are so bad they threaten the very existence of cinema itself! The very worst offender here is Bishop himself, but we’ll get to that in a second. I don’t have to transcribe a scene to let you know that the script was basically written by a coked out seventeen year old that thought he was being clever. The writing is FULL of bad, and I do mean BAD, puns, sexualized double entendres in offensive taste, and pseudo-profundity that boggles the mind. It would be one thing if this was in any way satirical, but it’s all portrayed quite solemnly and the film takes its seriousness seriously which is odd because of its insanely adolescent nature.

I’m getting ahead of myself though. Somehow David Carradine and Dennis Hopper were both roped (blackmailed likely) into smaller performances in this trainwreck as well. Hopper plays a role that not-so-subtly tries to be the metaphorical connection to the days of ”Easy Rider” and the like. Carradine is “The Deuce”, no one is saved from the writing, the villain of the piece. The Deuce is leader of “The Six-Six-Sixers”, rival gang of the The Victors. They show up on “pres” Pistolero’s turf after banishment years ago (or something, nobody actually cares about the plot here) and start to kill off members of The Victors and try to claim the territory. The Sixers have an “Ace in the Hole” as Billy Wings, aka Vinnie Jones, who has a particularly memorable scene because of its absurdity. He has tattoos of multicolored wings all over his arms. Apparently, he tells a random girl in another throwaway scene, they’re “for all the pussies I’ve licked. The white wings are for licking a virgin’s pussy. The Red one is for licking a bloody pussy, and the Purple one.. well that’s for eating a dead pussy!” I shit you not I cannot make this up. I swear to god he says Pussy about eighty four more times in that scene. Oh Vinnie, you were so great in “Snatch”, what happened? Tell you what I’ll just list some of the words or phrases that are repeatedly said throughout the runtime: Fire (said 16 times in less than two minutes in one scene that was meant to be sexy but was really just stupid), Dust (The Gent has a whole god damn speech about dirt for fuck’s sake, and it’s not even profound or meaningful!), Six (”You go down the sixth road on the sixth day after six, but watch our for those Sixers!), Hell (referenced/said in about a billion ways), and Fuck (I don’t usually care how many fucks are in a movie, Wolf of Wall Street did just fine, but when you only have a word bank of like ten other words in your script, maybe tone down the fucks, you fucks).

So yeah, everything about this movie is complete horseshit. The worst part, out of many… many terrible parts, is that it’s possibly the most anticlimactic film of all time. They all build up, mention, or reference the Sixers every chance they can get and when the final god damn “Showdown” happens it’s basically five guys in the middle of the road and Vinnie Mother Fucking Jones’ character shows up with a MOTHER FUCKING TINY CROSSBOW. YUP. A Handheld crossbow. Wonderful. So practical! The perfect weapon to bring to a gunfight! Yeah so the bad guys are dispatched in about four seconds, Pistolero say “Awww Hell” like three more times and they all fuck off. Happily ever after.

0/10 No Stars. Failure across the board. Ugh. That is my rant time, for this time. I need to go and cleanse myself… and my soul.

***I’ve included a link here where the whole damn mess can be viewed on youtube for free because I could never actually ask anyone to give any money to actually see this crapfest, but it truly is a sight to behold, so there you go, try not to choke on your own vomit.

*Apparently, I was wrong  “Hell Ride was conceived when director Bishop was invited to Quentin Tarantino’s home to view a print of The Savage Seven. Upon realizing that there hadn’t been a true biker film in years, the pair quickly contacted Bob Weinstein and conspired to produce a lean and mean two-wheeled revenge flick that would more than make up for lost time.” http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/1192781-hell_ride/

**https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jHglhwcwO8I

***https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gVnKICvZW2M

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0411475/?ref_=nm_flmg_act_4