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Holiday Weekend Film Report

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Mike Cohen
Holiday Weekend Film Report
on Jul 6, 2009 at 12:37:51 am

4 nights/3 days...what to do? Go for a long bike ride...maybe, but of no interest to the readers of Creative COW.

Watch movies? Now you're talking.

Thursday - Woke up at 4:30 - drove to NYC for a 7:15 call time. Shoot finished at noon. A usual 2 hour ride home became 5 hours thanks to a tractor trailer roll-over in Danbury.

Thursday night - the TiVo has recorded The Searchers on my behalf. This classic John Ford epic stars John Wayne as he hunts for 5 years for his kidnapped niece. John Wayne's unique style of acting always seems appropriate, but I have to say, acting in general in the 50's was different than it is today. I can't explain it, it seems like performances that were supposed to be dramatic came off to my 21st century brain as comedic. That being said, the plot, cinematography, sets acting in general and action were great. This is more than can be said for a lot of current movies, to say the least.

Friday night - we finished up True Confessions of a London Call Girl, a Showtime tv series starring Billie Piper best known as Rose from the recent incarnation of Doctor Who. Innocent companion of the Doctor no longer, this young actress really gets raunchy for the cameras, but in an entertaining and tasteful way.

Next I watched the latest episode of a USA series Royal Pains, a silly Dr. Macgyver on Long Island drama, in which the hero, a former ER doctor, does private conceierge medicine for wealthy folk in the Hamptons. It is a silly show but a fun medical show that amazingly is a bit more realistic than Grey's Anatomy..barely.

Saturday - Day. Having previously judged Star Trek and Terminator Salvation to be more hype than enjoyment (I know people love Star Trek, but I did not love it), I decided to go for broke and see Transformers 2. I know what you are saying - "What, you paid money to see robots and explosions?"
Darn right I paid money to watch robots, explosions, over-stylized slow motion shots of scantily clad Megan Fox and all the Michael Bay cheeze adults have grown to love.

It was loud. Some of the cuts were too quick. And the plot was just stupid. But did I mention the explosions, the robots, the Megan Fox? This movie is what it is - a Summer blockbuster popcorn movie with gratuitous use of tax payer dollars(military hardware) and did I mention explosions?

One could argue that other movies with a lot of special effects are disappointing when it comes to the plot, acting and dialogue(Revenge of the Sith anyone?). But this movie does not claim to do any of those things well. Just the special effects, which are special.

Saturday night - Ok, with my adrenaline fix for the weekend, back to work.

Into the Wild.

I had read about this film back in 2007, but it never made it to my Netflix queue...until now.
Sean Penn, if you use the internet, and you stumble upon this post - congratulations. What a brilliantly beautiful and heartbreaking movie. All I can say to anyone who has not seen this film - go see it.

After viewing the movie, doing some google searches on the movie and the original book, I remembered that there were a few articles in some of those free industry magazines I subscribe to. One in particular was quite fascinating. Rather than shooting this story in Vancouver where most films are shot about the wilderness, Sean Penn chose to shoot all over the Western US, Mexico and Alaska where the real life story of a college graduate who hits the road then goes to live in Alaska on his own actually took place. Technically and logistically speaking alone, this film is quite an achievement. But the DP did not let raging rivers and mountains of snow stop him from using cranes and 3 film cameras, yet using available light whenever possible. Another article talked about the post workflow. The editor tagged along to locations around the country, setting up in a hotel room to edit dailies, and carting around a DLP projector and 60" screen for showing cuts to the cast and crew periodically to keep everyone motivated.

Yet another article talks about effects shots in the film, though they are subtle effects that one would not notice, such as digital water and sky replacement.

Since it was 4th of July weekend here in the US, I had my DVR record 1776, the musical version of the story behind the Declaration of Independence. Starring William (Voice of KITT) Daniels as John Adams...this should have been the first warning sign...the movie would have been an ok historical piece if not for the rousing musical numbers. Not a fan of rousing musicals, I got about 1/3 through this 3 hour trainwreck before my brain had the good sense to close my eyelids and save me the agony.

Maybe that is harsh, as movies made in the early 70's either hold up or they don't. Maybe this was not the best choice, but I had to give it a shot. The HBO miniseries John Adams is much more up my alley.

As for tonight, Sunday night, I have a widescreen DVR recording of Rocky on deck. You cannot open a screenwriting book without seeing references to Rocky as a triumph of screenplay form and function.
I took a 90 minute seminar last month entitled "How to write a Selling Screenplay" by Peter Fox of TriPeg studios in Hamden, CT. He gives an overview of the elements of a successful screenplay, and how to prepare to write your screenplay. In other words, write a lot about your characters and your story before actually sitting down to write the screenplay. As expected, Rocky was cited as an example of a story that has all the elements of a good screenplay. William Goldman also mentions Rocky in his discussions of screenwriting, in addition to his own successful record of produced scripts.

So me and Adrian (Rachael) are going to curl up on the sofa, grab Apollo and Mickey (Tigger and Rusty), pour ourselves some raw egg drinks (hot cocoa) and punch some raw sides of beef (sofa cushions) and hope that we can go the distance (stay awake after a long holiday weekend).

Thanks for reading.

Mike Cohen

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Mark Suszko
Re: Holiday Weekend Film Report
on Jul 21, 2009 at 4:37:16 pm

Royal Pains is such an obvious imitation of "Burn Notice" that it just bugs me. I mean the signature look, the editing style, everything is too spot-on in imitation.

I shouldn't like "Burn Notice", but I do. You can clearly see it is shot on a shoestring, but the stylish execution and the chemistry of the ensemble actors makes it work. The lead actor, when he's doing his voice-overs or acting "tough" or "dark", always comes off like Napoleon Dynamite to me:-)

And how can you not like anything that has Bruce Campbell in it?:-)

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