What place does a broken cowboy have in this modern world? The Rider is a gem that will reward those patient enough to discover it. Filmmaker Chloé Zhao tells a story of an injured cowboy in contemporary times who has to deal with the trials and tribulations of life, all the while yearning to get back to the rodeo. This film won an award after first premiering the Cannes Film Festival, and I finally caught up with it at the London Film Festival. I wasn’t expecting to be so moved, so overwhelmed with emotions, yet I was wiping away tears by the end of the screening. Whenever a film hits me that hard and leave me sobbing by the end, that’s usually a sign it’s something special. This is one of those outstanding films to seek out and discover. ›››
“Did you see him?” Miracle Communications has debuted an official UK trailer for the film The Unseen, a horror thriller set for release in the UK starting in December. The film is about a couple whose young son dies in an accident. The mom blames herself and starts to have panic attacks that affect her eyesight – and the audience’s point of view. Her husband, tormented, believes he is hearing his son’s voice calling out to him. They attempt to escape the grief by going to a lake house retreat, but things only get worse. Jasmine Hyde and Richard Flood, along with Simon Cotton, Dana Haqjoo, Derek Horsham, and Ashley R Woods. This looks like an intriguing thriller about the horrors of grief, but that not sure if it’ll be any good. ›››
A report from the latest Black List Live! stage reading in Los Angeles.
I flew to L.A. a day early for the Black List Feature Writers Lab so I could attend the Black List Live! stage reading of one of my favorite annual 2016 Black List scripts: “The Miserable Adventures of Burt Squire Aboard the Horn High Yo”.
As usual, the reading took place at The Montalban Theater on Vine Street in Los Angeles and there was a big crowd on hand. The actors:
Burt Squire — Milo Ventimiglia Captain Vernon J. Knux — Matthew Modine Mel Squire — Janina Gavankar Trevor Squire — Raphael Alejandro Wyatt Squire — Brandon Scott
Narrator — Cooper Thornton
Written & Directed by Ben Bolea
The performance was both terrific and hugely funny in large part due to the interplay between Ventimiglia as Burt trapped with the foul-mouthed, opinionated, blowhard Knux played Modine. Some background on the project from Deadline from October 2016:
LD won a spec battle for a Ben Bolea spec script that has the longest title I can remember. The Miserable Adventures of Burt Squire Aboard the Horn High Yo is fact-based, and follows a family man in the midst of a midlife crisis who embarks on what he hoped would be a dream sailing vacation. He ended up shipwrecked in the Atlantic Ocean with a charming but unhinged sea captain who was off his meds.
Three writing takeaways from the stage reading:
Locking together two ‘strange sojourners’ is a tried and true narrative conceit, and it works for a reason: when the characters are well-drawn and come from two very different worlds and world views. It also helps if one or both of them has a way with words and is prone to act on their own self-interests, the former purely for entertainment, the latter to create conflict and twists in the plot.
In an era in which the major studios are addicted to branded content, now more than ever original screenplays have to work as actor bait. You need those attachments to get a film made. And the best way to do that: Write compelling, entertaining characters actors will want to play. Tonight Ventimiglia and Modine completely through themselves into their roles and you could tell they were having a hell of a good time doing it. Why? Because they were playing a pair of well-written characters in a compelling narrative circumstance and the chemistry between the two was palpable.
At one point late in the reading, Gavankar returned to a secondary character — Wyatt’s self-absorbed teen girlfriend — and gave those handful of lines an awesome take. To which Cooper Thornton threw out an aside: “There are no small roles.” This is how a writer needs to think. Whether a character you’re writing is a primary, secondary, or tertiary one, you need to treat them as complex individuals worthy of an actor’s attention and focus.
Oh, and one final point: The script is yet ANOTHER blast against those who ascribe to the theory that a screenwriter can only write scene description which can be seen or heard on screen. There were dozens of times in which the ‘Bert Squire’ script used scene description to editorialize on the action. Yes, we have to be judicious, but as an extension of our Narrative Voice, we have the freedom to do this. And as in the case of ‘Bert Squire’, it added greatly to the entertainment value of the read.
Ever since The Walking Dead got its spinoff (aka prequel) series, Fear the Walking Dead, fans and reporters alike have been badgering the producers behind the two shows about the possibility of a crossover — and apparently said badgering has finally paid off.
“There are two Walking Dead shows, I’m not gonna name them… There is one character that is going to go from one show, that I will not name… and appear in the other show, which I will not name,” series creator Robert Kirkman revealed at the show’s New York Comic Con panel. “So what does that mean, because these timelines, how does that work? Are we going to see an interesting backstory of a Walking Dead character showing up in Fear the Walking Dead, or are we going to see a Fear the Walking Dead character show up in The Walking Dead, and see a future version of a character? What’s gonna happen? Is it going to be something completely different than that? Who knows?” Read more…
Where did this film come from?! I finally caught up with a sci-fi feature called The Osiris Child, originally titled Science Fiction Volume One: The Osiris Child in full. This film is way, way, way better than it should be, and left me totally blown away. It’s not perfect by any means, but it is extremely impressive storytelling, with some cool ideas I have never seen before in any film. I can’t speak for others who don’t like it, but I can say this is exactly the kind of sci-fi I love. It’s remarkably ambitious storytelling on a galactic scale, created on a minimal budget, utilizing some sleek filmmaking tricks that actually make this successful. The world building (or rather, universe building) in this rivals Luc Besson’s Valerian, and in all honesty, upon first viewing I actually like this more than Valerian. I really, really enjoyed it – but I do not think everyone will. ›››
“Is man ready to re-constitute it?” What the heck is this? A full trailer has debuted for a film titled The Broken Key, some sort of weird sci-fi mashup involving historical artifacts and modern technology and all kinds of wacky things. It’s set in the near future, at a time when paper has become a rare item, “a luxury possession”, and printing is now a crime. The main character is a British scholar of ancient Italian origins, who gets caught up in a series of murders taking him “on the path traced, so many centuries before, by Dante Alighieri and by the painter Hieronymus Bosch.” This stars Rutger Hauer, Michael Madsen, Christopher Lambert, Geraldine Chaplin, Franco Nero, William Baldwin, Maria de Medeiros, Kabir Bedi, and Marc Fiorini. This really looks way too weird for my tastes, another film straight from the 90s destined to find its way into VHS bargain bins. How these films are still getting made is beyond me. ›››
“This Friday the 13th – brush your teeth, put on your PJs, and run like hell.” Netflix has debuted the first official trailer for a new horror comedy titled The Babysitter, from director McG (who has resigned from Hollywood and moved over to Netflix, thankfully). The movie is about a young boy who has the hots for his babysitter. When she brings her friends over to his house for a night of fun, he discovers they’re actually part of a satanic cult. Then it twists into a fun survival horror, where he must fight back and figure out how to make it through the night. Starring Judah Lewis as the kid, with Samara Weaving, Bella Thorne, Leslie Bibb, Hana Mae Lee, Robbie Amell, Emily Alyn Lind, and Andrew Bachelor. This actually doesn’t look so bad, it’s bloody and violent and seemingly quite funny, who would’ve thought. Take a look. ›››
We’ll bet most of you can relate to the protagonists of ‘The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)’.
Noah Baumbach returns to a familiar familial territory with his latest movie The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected), and we certainly haven’t grown bored of his work with the theme. The prolific director’s career really took off after 2005’s The Squid and the Whale, a film whose dark humor made even the legendary Mike Nichols gush.
In a talkback after Meyerowitz’s screening at the New York Film Festival last week, Baumbach recalled an interaction he had with Nichols upon their first meeting. Nichols had remarked of Squid, “It reminded me of why I got into movies to begin with, which was revenge.”
Everyone is obsessed with Game of Thrones these days — even the The Simpsons. America’s favorite TV family is paying homage to the HBO hit in the Season 29 premiere, “The Serfsons,” and we’ve got an exclusive sneak peek at the episode.
After almost 30 years on air, long-suffering bartender Moe Szyslak has had to endure countless prank calls from Bart Simpson — but how would Bart get his laughs if phones didn’t exist? Our clip has the answer, and let’s just say Samwell Tarly wouldn’t approve.
The Game of Thrones-themed premiere also features the vocal talents of one of fantasy series’ stars, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (aka Jaime Lannister), in a role that Simpsons executive producer Matt Selman describes as “a character not unlike Jaime. He has a surprising and sexy connection to one of the main characters.” Read more…
“So you lied to me about everything?” Blue Fox Entertainment has debuted the first official trailer for an indie romantic comedy titled The Truth About Lies, made by writer/director Phil Allocco. This quirky comedy is about a guy who starts coming up with a series of lies in order to impress a girl. Fairly simple premise. Fran Kranz stars and Gilby Smalls, and the girl he falls for is played by Odette Annable, who you’ll recognize from Cloverfield or The Unborn. The cast includes Colleen Camp, Mary Elizabeth Ellis, Chris Diamantopoulos, Oakes Fegley, and Laura Kightlinger. This doesn’t look that unique, almost like every other quirky indie romantic comedy. And I’m pretty sure he’s going to get the girl in the end, too. ›››