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New Past Time: Reading Screenplays May 7, 2011

Posted by pacejmiller in Blogging, Misc, Study.
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I’ve developed a new hobby: reading screenplays.  I never realised how much fun and how educational it be.

I read a few when I did screenwriting last year, but I kind of considered it a necessary learning experience and didn’t read as many as I should have.

A couple of weeks ago I was at the university library looking for a book that was conveniently ‘misplaced’.  It was listed as available but was nowhere to be found.  Typical.

Anyway, I was huffing and puffing from all the running around looking for it and desperately needed a break.  So I rested against a shelf of books and randomly decided to pluck one out.  As it turned out, I was at the screenplay section, and the one I picked was ‘The Contest’ episode of Seinfeld, possibly one of the greatest half hours in sitcom history.

I found myself laughing out loud as I read it, gaining a new appreciation for Larry David’s (and Jerry Seinfeld’s) genius, and the genius of the actors to be able to pull off those lines.  It was quite astonishing, really, putting anything I have ever written to complete and utter shame.

I used to think screenplays were just for the lines, but reading a good screenplay is a very enjoyable exercise in itself.  And a lot quicker than reading a book too.

I’ve grabbed a few more screenplays to read at home, just for fun.  I just got through the screenplay of one of my favourite films, Fargo, which has a phenomenal screenplay, a well-deserved Oscar winner.  The way the Coens write dialogue is just ridiculous.

I’m looking forward to doing more, when I have the time.  I do also have plenty of books I still need to read as well, not to mention a whole heap of writing to do.

Which screenplay should I read next?

End of Year DVD Blitz: Part II December 27, 2010

Posted by pacejmiller in Movie Reviews.
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Four more movies in this second instalment.  If you want to check out the first one, click here.

Yes, I voluntarily watched SATC2

Sex and the City 2 (2010)

I know, I know.  I must have been really desperate.  I saw the first one and it didn’t strike me as horrible, so I thought maybe this one might have some merit.  After all, it was advertised as a fun movie.

But my goodness, SATC2 was atrocious.  Perhaps not as bad as some people say (ie worst movie of all time), but it was pretty awful.  Basically, this was a self-indulgent 146 minutes of advertising for Abu Dhabi, product placement, and rather insulting jabs at Muslims (and especially Muslim women in the Middle East).

There was a paper thin plot somewhere in there, and I suppose the fans of the show will always be happy to see the foursome on screen together, but SATC2 really should be the last one.  Please, enough is enough.

1.5 stars out of 5

Yeah, I voluntarily watched this too

Charlie St Cloud (2010)

This was a nasty little Zac Efron surprise.  When I first saw the trailer, I thought it looked pretty good.  A supernatural slant on a touching story about life and death.  It may have seemed a little too ‘Nicholas Sparks’, but I loved The Notebook, so why not?

Anyway, despite the terrible reviews, I still decided to watch it.  Perhaps it was the low expectations, but Charlie St Cloud didn’t strike me as one of the worst films of the year.  It’s one of those stories that you can tell would have been pretty good as a book, but when translated to the screen, feels overly melodramatic and frankly, quite ridiculous.  Mind you, I love ghost stories and I don’t mind feel-good, sappy dramas, but Charlie St Cloud stretched my latitude a little too far.

The film has brought comparisons with The Sixth Sense, but that’s not really fair.  To me, it’s a little more Field of Dreams, but nowhere near as good.

While it’s watchable and not entirely uninteresting, Charlie St Cloud is probably only suitable Zac Efron fans.

2.25 stars out of 5

I thought this would be good, but...

Grown Ups (2010)

I was really looking forward to this one, an all-star comedy starring Adam Sandler, Chris Rock, David Spade, Rob Schneider and Kevin James.  But damn, this was one of my biggest disappointments of the year.

The intro was great — a bunch of little kids on a basketball team playing in a big game and spurred on by their enthusiastic coach.  Fast forward 30 years and the coach has passed away, and the funeral serving as a catalyst for the old friends to reunite at some luxurious holiday cabin.

Was I expecting too much?  Admittedly, I have been at least a minor fan of each of these comedians at some point in my life, but Grown Ups was a complete dud.  Why?  It wasn’t funny.  The jokes were repetitve (which is I suppose a trademark of some of these comedians) and surprisingly mean spirited.  I just couldn’t get past how mean they were.  Granted, being mean can be hilarious, but here it only highlighted how obnoxious and unlikable the characters are.

And I don’t get what the deal is with recent Sandler movies always trying to put in some contrived family goodness/poignancy into his comedies these days.  Here, it was a massive failure.  They should have never tried.  It just made the whole thing more uneven.

The only thing that prevented Grown Ups from being an epic disaster was the fact that my main man, Steve Buscemi, had a minor role in it — and as usual, he was brilliant.  Apart from that, this movie sucked.

1.75 stars out of 5 (with half a star for Steve Buscemi)

Nothing to say really...

Killers (2010)

I’m really on a roll here.  Killers is promoted as an action comedy, and while there is decent action in it, there is very little comedy.  Or should I say the attempts at comedy weren’t funny.  Ashton Kutcher is some CIA assassin, and Katherin Heigl is his unsuspecting wife.  Tom Selleck and Catherine O’Hara (the mother from Home Alone) are her parents.

Apart from being completely and outrageously unbelievable (which I could accept if the film took itself less seriously), Killers is extremely bland and formulaic.  Kutcher is okay, but Heigl’s ditzy, flustered routine is really getting old.  She’s very annoying.

I don’t blame it all on the direction of Robert Luketic, because the screenplay really lacks a punch.  I didn’t hate this movie but I can’t think of anything to like about it either.

2 stars out of 5

Wow, I’ve really been watching some shit movies lately.  Can’t believe Charlie St Cloud is the best film of the bunch.  Nevertheless, there’s more to come.  The next set will be better, I promise.

Top 5 Most Underappreciated Hollywood Actors April 21, 2010

Posted by pacejmiller in Entertainment.
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I’ve been clearing out some of my old drafts and came across one that for one reason or another never got posted.

As a huge movie buff, I’ve seen my fair share of actors over the years.  Of course, there are the A-list superstars, the Will Smiths, the Brad Pitts and the Tom Cruises (before he lost it on Oprah’s couch) — guys that get paid in the tens of millions no matter what they do.

But what about those guys that have been working hard for years, been in some terrific roles and some wonderful movies, but never got the attention and appreciation they deserved from the general public?  Here are my top 5 most underappreciated actors in Hollywood.

(click on ‘more’ to find out!)

(more…)

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