"Nocturnal Animals" presents a beautiful world filled with brutality.
Tom Ford may have come from the world of fashion and beauty, but his latest movie entitled "Nocturnal Animals" is all about ugliness. Susan (Amy Adams) may be rich and glamorous, but her life is cold and lonely. Her art gallery is bleeding cash, her marriage is marred by infidelity, and she covers her shame in artifice. Then her ex Edward (Jake Gyllenhaal) sends her the new novel he's written, dedicated to her. As she reads, Susan realizes his fiction is a metaphor for their reality 20 years earlier. And the brutality in his story echoes that which ended their marriage. Tom Ford writes and directs this multi-tiered story with extraordinary attention to every word and detail. He's a true artist, provoking his audience with a controversial work as exquisite as it is unsettling.
"Westworld" is an enigmatic mystery that keeps us guessing.
The new HBO series does more than just re-imagine Michael Crichton's 1973 cult movie "Westworld" as a deeper and more philosophical examination of modern technology. It also confounds most of the rules of narrative in a television series. Almost every character at work and at play in the westernized adult theme park remains enigmatic eight hours into the 10-episode season. Multiple timelines may be at play, though they've yet to be clearly stated. And just what the maze at the center of the show means is anybody's guess. Maybe because so much is left to the viewer to decide and decipher, it's become the ‘water cooler' show of the fall season. Is it about robots becoming human, or God complexes or something else? Hard to say, but no matter where it's all going, it is utterly enthralling television. And we anxiously await its answers.
An excerpt from Jacob Krueger's podcast:
"... So learning how to write a successful screenplay is not actually just about learning how to write a good screenplay, it's learning how to know what compromises you can make and what compromises you cannot. Which imperfections your audience will accept, which imperfections are going to pull them out of the story.
In many ways, the success or failure of your movie all boils down to one really simple concept: Feeding The Genre Monster."
An excerpt from Jacob Krueger's podcast:
"... Don't Breathe is not reinventing the wheel, but what it is doing is showing a really interesting template for independent filmmakers of how to make a very low-budget movie with a potential for very high return.
Does this mean that you should run out tomorrow and write a horror thriller? Absolutely not. But it doesn't mean that you can take some of the lessons of Don't Breathe and apply them to your own writing in order to get the most bang for your buck as an independent filmmaker..."
"The Edge of Seventeen" is a coming-of-age comedy filled with humor and compassion.
Writer/director Kelly Fremon Craig has made a superior coming-of-age comedy with "The Edge of Seventeen." What makes it so great? For starters, the comedy is grounded in reality. None of the humor in it feels forced or ‘written.' Instead, it all comes from the characters and what they would truly do or say. Second, it takes the problems of troubled teen Nadine seriously, never ridiculing her or belittling her panic and rage. Finally, Craig's lead is Hailee Steinfeld, one of the best young actresses working in the business these days, and she gives a performance that should warrant awards recognition. All in all, this is a film with universal themes about the need to belong and be loved. And that should appeal to audiences on the edge of 17 or 70.
"Arrival" is science fiction that twists narrative expectations in profound ways.
The best science fiction always comments on society and indeed, "Arrival" from director Denis Villeneuve has a lot to say about how we communicate and interact with those alien to us. (It couldn't be more prescient in the aftermath of an election where so many factions felt well, alienated.) Here, Amy Adams stars as a linguist professor helping translate the communications coming from an alien life form whose space ships are hovering over our air space. It's a story both pragmatic and thrilling as she works to put the pieces of the puzzle together. And the movie's mind-blowing surprises happen off-screen as well, with screenwriter Eric Heisserer's adaptation of Ted Chiang's "Story of Your Life" twisting traditional cinematic storytelling tropes in profound ways.
Unique and fresh. Let's dig in to why those two words are so important where a pitch is concerned. First, you all know what a logline is, yeah? I assume so, but if you don't, you're in the right place. A logline is basically a written form of a pitch. It's a way for a producer to read a short and quick version of your project's summary within one sentence. When I'm reaching out to producers on behalf of the writers in our Development Program, for example, I'm sending along loglines for those producers to consider. They read through a bunch of them, decide on whether or not any of them spark interest, and then they request the script. All based on the logline. So in a lot of ways, your foot in the door is the logline, or in other words, your pitch. You can see why I'm spending so much time building this episode up and hitting all of the conceptual points first. I can't stress enough how important it is for you to be able to nail a pitch, and by "nail" I mean, prove to whomever is listening that you know how to tell a story. Maybe we can start there, really. A story.
What is a story, really? Have you ever really tried to define what a story is? To actually sit down and come up with your own definition? We all assume we understand what that word means, "story", but have we really given it much thought? I'll break it down for you, and hopefully you can get a better sense of it too. It starts with purpose. What's the purpose of a story? Ultimately, it's to entertain in some way, shape, or form. I could dive in to the meaning of the word "entertain" too, but let's not go off on too much of a tangent here. A story is also a way to inform. Here is information I have to share, let's share it with others. We, as screenwriters though, are not journalists delivering a non-biased relay of information or news. We're not simply telling someone that something happened. That's just information. Information turns into entertainment when it is told as a story. So... story is both information and entertainment. Fine. Basic. Your eyes are probably glazing over as I speak and wondering when they hell I'm going to just get on with it. Here we go...
“Doctor Strange” is one of cinema’s very best comic book adaptations
In a year that already saw “Deadpool” as a high-water mark for comic book adaptations, along comes “Doctor Strange.” It is not only one of the best that Marvel Studios has ever done, but it stands with the greatest superhero origin story films like “Superman: The Movie”, “Spider-man” and “Iron Man.” How? By being character-driven and acting as smart as its neurosurgeon main character. Doctor Strange (the ever sharp Benedict Cumberbatch) is a brilliant, yet egotistical man whose hero’s journey takes him from self-centered to at one with the universe. He learns the wonders of mysticism, magic and selfless power. And the storytellers here never lose sight of that arc. They imbue every scene with his braininess, including a final action scene that doesn’t play like a brawl, but rather a chess game for the fate of mankind.
SYS Episode #147
SYS Episode #146
SYS Episode #145
SYS Episode #144