Coen Bros: Inside Llewyn Davis part 4

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Now, don’t go a-readin’ this here analysis before you’ve seen the movie, because it’s awesome. The movie I mean.

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Coen Bros: Inside Llewyn Davis part 3

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Hey guys, be cool, don’t go reading this if you haven’t seen the movie, it’ll just spoil it for you.

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Coen Bros: Inside Llewyn Davis part 2

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As this excellent movie is still in theaters, let the reader beware: spoiler alert.

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Coen Bros: Inside Llewyn Davis part 1

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As this excellent film has just started its run in theaters, let the reader beware: spoiler alert.

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Todd Alcott: now available in book form!

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Attention, people who can read! There are two excellent new books out, Devastator #9 by the editors of The Devastator and Lebowski 101 by Mr. Oliver Benjamin.

What makes these particular books excellent? I am featured in each! Devastator #9, a typically sly and brilliant issue of Geoffrey Golden’s humor quarterly, features one of my rarer-than-hen’s-teeth comics pieces, and Lebowski 101, a volume of smart writing on everyone’s favorite Coen Bros movie, features my own take on the now-classic.

Pick them both up today at your favorite online retailer!

Why zombies?

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The current wave of zombie entertainment began with 28 Days Later, moved on to Zack Snyder’s remake of Dawn of the Dead, which spawned a remake of Day of the Dead, and, from George Romero, Land of the Dead, Diary of the Dead and Survival of the Dead. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies was a hit novelty book, and suddenly zombies were everywhere, culminating in The Walking Dead and now World War Z, which became a smash hit in spite of a wave of negative buzz.

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Some thoughts on the state of screenwriting in 2013

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It was a great weekend for American filmmaking. Gravity is a solid thriller, made by a great director, Alfonzo Cuaron, a man with a bold cinematic vision, backed by a fearless producer, David Heyman, who ushered Cuaron’s vision to the big screen, produced in collaboration with a huge studio, Warner Bros, who supported Gravity‘s vision and ushered it into theaters with a hugely effective marketing push. Miracle of miracles, the movie made a ton of money and will continue to do so. Because Gravity fulfills one of the essential qualities of commercial filmmaking in 2013: you gotta see it in a movie theater. This is a movie that will not be the same experience when you’re watching it on your phone while waiting in line at the grocery store.

Here’s the thing: in an ideal world, Gravity would be an average American movie. Why isn’t it?

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Breaking Bad and the importance of plot

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As Breaking Bad draws to its close, internet folk have deployed millions of pixels to dissect its meanings. All of which attention the show richly deserves. However, I haven’t yet seen an article describing what the show has meant to me, and to writing for television, so I’m going to write it now.

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A note on The World’s End

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Please do go to see The World’s End. Apart from being very funny and genuinely thrilling in the Shaun of the Dead mode (it’s almost Invasion of the Shaun Snatchers), it features a downright incredible performance by Simon Pegg as the worn-down burnout Gary King, whose life came to its peak in 1990 and who has been unable to move on since. Gary King could have been – and occasionally is – presented as a cartoon character, but Pegg makes him electrically alive. His performance is complex, detailed, incisive, lacerating and ultimately heartbreaking. If you only know Pegg as Scotty in Star Trek or Benji in Mission: Impossible, or even from Shaun or Spaced, those performances barely scratch the surface of what he’s capable of doing.

Favorite screenplays: Robocop part 5

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It warms my analytic heart when filmmakers announce act breaks with devices, and Robocop does not disappoint. Each act begins with a news report and attendant commercials (as news is, lest we forget, just another form of entertainment in a corporate oligarchy). Act III begins with a commercial for a car, the 6000 SUX, done in the style of The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms, yet another low-budget film reference to let cinephiles know they’re dealing with a self-aware, intelligent satire. The dinosaur in the car commercial terrorizes the city streets until it’s dwarfed by the advertised car. The joke, of course, is not just that the car is huge, but that the huge car out-dinosaurs an actual dinosaur. (It’s also fueled by dead dinosaurs, if you want to take its dominance that far.)

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