2016 was a pretty grim year, but I do have one positive thing to say for myself: I saw more movies in the theater than I had in any year over the past decade. Compare: in 2015, I caught just 31 new feature films on the big screen. (That may sound like a lot to you, but you're probably not a childless filmmaker who… read more!
Lists of Nine with Keyword "movies" (most recent at top)
It's a bummer to watch a talented filmmaker's career stall out. Someone comes along, directs a few noteworthy movies, then poof! You never hear about them anymore. What happens? Some retire without fanfare. A lot give up on features and move to TV (Keith Gordon, Carl Franklin, Agnieszka Holland). A handful keep working, but not on anything you've ever heard of. And then you have these "whatever… read more!
Much of my time this year has been spent on film festivals: entering them, attending them, and just plain obsessing over them. This list, informed by my experiences and observations, is written with the American independent filmmaker in mind. My short 20 Matches has played in (almost) all of the following types of festivals; for a full list, go here. So if… read more!
Lately it seems like we have more period pictures than ever. It's not unreasonable to conclude that filmmakers are setting their stories in pre-digital times because mobile phones and the Internet screw up traditional dramatic tropes. (More ominously, it's possible that some current films take place far in the past in order to justify non-diverse casts.) But what 2010s films best represent life in the 2010s? Will it be the upcoming The Circle, based on Dave… read more!
Forgive the awkward title. But how else to describe those who were cast as iconic comic book characters, yet never got to play them to their full potential? I write this list in honor of Jared Leto, whose much-hyped Joker was front and center in Suicide Squad ads, then relegated to a few fleeting moments in the actual movie. (Seriously, when you've got the Joker, why do you instead make… read more!
The one-man or one-woman play has become a mainstay of the Los Angeles stage, thanks to the many struggling actors who write these pieces for themselves to perform because no one else will hire them. Once in a rare while, one of these solo shows gets turned into a movie, complete with a big cast and multiple locations. The results aren't always successful, but the task… read more!
Even though Hollywood cranks out sequels on an almost weekly basis, the word itself has become toxic – so much so that studio heads laughably insist that their sequels are not, in fact sequels. They're "reimaginings" or "stand-alone films". In the case of this list, however, we're talking about actual non-sequels. But you'd be forgiven for thinking otherwise. 10 Cloverfield Lane. We begin with a debatable entry.… read more!
This is the promised follow-up to my previous list; the concept is the same, except that this time I'll be focusing on an older crop of small-screen moguls. SKATEBOARD, written by Dick Wolf. Grand Vizier of the Law & Order empire, Wolf had a humble start with this 1978 teen flick, cowritten with its director. Then came a dreadful comedy called Gas, then brat pack… read more!
This list was so interesting to research that I've decided to make it a two-parter. (Part 2 is here.) Usually the biggest names in TV got their start in that medium. But once in a while you'll hear about a writer who gets a motion picture screenplay produced, then makes the move to television. This once was considered a step down; now it's a… read more!
This list was hard to write, because I don't really believe in remakes. First, because filmmakers and studios should focus on new material (even though we all know they don't). Second, because while most older movies look dated today, they still fascinate as time capsules, and often have charming star performances that can't be replicated. Third, because most remakes are lousy. That said, I came up with nine… read more!
As of this writing, I've submitted 20 Matches to 41 film festivals. Deciding where to submit can be tricky, as most festivals cost money to enter, and those fees add up fast. To make it worth the gamble, you have to consider which festivals you're willing and able to travel to; how much clout each festival has; whether it's the right venue for your film; if it has potential for… read more!
Movie romances thrive on the "odd couple" concept: the less the two paramours in question have in common, the more memorable the story. We've seen some nutty extremes, from Harold and Maude to King Kong. But then there are those cases in which the star pairing elicits a gigantic "What?!" I don't just mean a lack of chemistry. I mean performers you'd never imagine being in the same room together, much… read more!
A while ago, I wrote a list about nine character actors given solitary shots at leading man/lady status. This a companion piece looks at the various singers, comedians, and TV personalities who couldn't resist the lure of the silver screen... but were never given a second chance. LIBERACE, Sincerely Yours. The IMDb displays a grand total of ten acting credits for… read more!
I've been remiss at updating this section lately, but as I have literally 136 Lists of 9 in various stages of completion, I promise that I haven't run out of ideas. It's just a matter of timing, a matter of not repeating other people's lists on the Internet, and a matter of finding just the right nine examples for each list. Anyway, predicting a movie's financial… read more!
When I was a child, I often watched Captain Kangaroo. Naturally, the Captain and his best pal Mr. Green Jeans dominated the show. But there was also a supporting player named Dennis, played by Cosmo Allegretti. In one episode, Dennis got his own little number, set to Manfred Mann's "Ragamuffin Man". He danced so soulfully. It was touching, seeing this guy that nobody cared about,… read more!
The main (and indeed, only) character in my new short 20 Matches hails from Vienna, Austria. When casting the film, I sought out actresses from Austria and Germany rather than endure endless Americans attempting a Viennese dialect. I just didn't have the time. Conversely, when casting Foreign Correspondents I chose an American actor, Corin Nemec, to play my Englishman, not only because he was the best-known of all the actors who… read more!
There's a line in Zoolander in which idiotic supermodel Derek Zoolander (Ben Stiller) looks at a scale model of a learning center and says, "What is this? A center for ants?" This is not a list for ants, though it is a list about ants. That is, movies about ants. Grab the Raid and read on. Ant-Man (2015). The inspiration for… read more!
Finding work – and acceptance – is an ongoing struggle for female film directors, both in Hollywood and elsewhere, but some are doing it. A handful of them came from the acting world, though they haven't yet directed themselves in anything (e.g., Penny Marshall, Angelina Jolie). Here are some who have. In the wake of the boffo box office garnered by Pitch Perfect 2, the directorial debut of its costar… read more!
Recently I read an article in The New Yorker, written by Oliver Sacks, about the troubled last years of actor/monologist Spalding Gray (Swimming to Cambodia). Sacks noted that, on January 11, 2004, Gray saw the Tim Burton movie Big Fish a few hours before drowning himself in New York's East River. I was reminded of the Heaven's Gate suicide cult, and how,… read more!
Every once in a while, a documentary filmmaker will make something notable – notable enough to make some money, secure an Oscar nomination or a win, and make said filmmaker the toast of the town. Then comes the inevitable Hollywood offer: "How about directing a real movie with real actors!" Few can resist the temptation, and while sometimes it works out – e.g., Bennett… read more!