The suspension of disbelief is imperative when watching (or reading, or listening to) a work of fiction. This is how we can accept a fantasy about giant blue aliens in outer space but get irked when there's a plot hole. Even though I've directed films and thus I know how the sausage is made, I can still easily lose myself… read more!
Lists of Nine with Keyword "movies" (most recent at top)
In 2004, I found out completely third-hand that my horror thriller Claustrophobia was being released under the title "Serial Slayer" by Lionsgate. I felt like a character in a movie: the poor indie filmmaker who finally lands a deal and is then told by the studio, "We love your movie, baby. That's why we're giving it the most embarrassing title… read more!
Digital visual effects are here to stay. Not just in terms of rendering entire characters and environments from scratch, but also in all those things you're not meant to notice: color and lighting correction, live action compositing, erasing wires and other detritus, etc. As such, there may be no filmmakers working today – certainly no mainstream filmmakers – who are… read more!
As movies and TV came around long after Alexander Graham Bell made his mark, the telephone has been an inherent part of screen storytelling from the beginning (unless, of course, your story is set in the pre-telephonic era). Thus dramatic tropes – or clichés, if you prefer – were quickly developed around it, at least around the ways we had… read more!
It's been a while since I wrote a List of 9; my research & writing interests have been focused on a new, non-film-related project called L.A. Street Names. You'll be hearing more about that later. Anyway, for decades, TV was seen as the artistic inferior to theatrical motion pictures. Lately, of course, the tables have turned. Yet TV creators remained… read more!
This is the most random of lists, I know. My mind has been preoccupied with a big, non-film-related project lately, and I've been neglecting my Lists of 9. At any rate, Oscar-winning actress Juliette Binoche is renowned for her European elegance and charm. As such, it's no surprise to see her cast opposite elegant and charming Europeans like Daniel Day-Lewis… read more!
Here's another variation on a theme I've explored off and on: the confluence of song and movie titles. It's no secret that Hollywood studios will steal the title of a beloved pop hit to make a movie more palatable – the famous example is Disney/Touchstone taking a dark drama called 3000 and turning it into a romantic comedy called Pretty… read more!
Some movies age like wine; others like milk. Often it can't be helped. As a filmmaker, you don't always have all the facts about your subject matter, not to mention your collaborators; those facts might only surface later, when it's too late. If the following nine films had allowed a little more time for the truth to come to light,… read more!
The epistolary novel is the literary equivalent of the found footage film, abandoning a traditional narrative for one cobbled together from fictitious diary entries, personal letters, and so on. Loads of novels have been written in this style, but how many films based on these works manage to capture their epistolary – which, after extensive research, I've concluded is a… read more!
It's a clunky title, I know. But I didn't want to call these people the "best" directors of the decade, and certainly not the "most successful", for how do you define these things? Awards, critical praise, and box office only tell part of the story. In any case, these notable filmmakers were the most influential and most discussed and/or worshipped… read more!
The world has been rife with fan films – amateur riffs on Batman and so forth – even before the advent of YouTube. The following nine features take this idea to the next level. They are not spoofs, documentaries, or "making of" dramatizations (e.g., The Disaster Artist, Hitchcock). They are, for want of a better word, tribute films: each is… read more!
Folks, I'm here to save you a lot of time. The following nine films, in my opinion, must be watched – however, they need not be watched past the first scene, because it's all downhill from there. Obviously this is a subjective list: some of these films are considered classics. Others, not so much. In any event, if you're curious,… read more!
It's an old showbiz tradition: make a name for yourself in your home country, do noteworthy work in a movie that scores US distribution, and Hollywood will soon come calling. It does say something about the American film industry that it has always been relatively open to immigrant talent. But those big breaks don't always pan out for the stars,… read more!
I'm currently in the thick of submitting Words to Live by to American film festivals near and far. (I'm not pursuing foreign festivals this time, for reasons stated below.) A lot of websites offer dos and don'ts for the festival-bound filmmaker, but these are mine, based on my own experiences and observations. Before you start submitting your film – hell,… read more!
Some actors are born to play certain roles. So much so that they'll be cast as the same person in two entirely different movies – and I'm not talking about sequels, spinoffs, remakes, or cameos in which they spoof themselves. Read this list and you'll see what I mean. IAN HART as John Lennon. Mainstream moviegoers know Hart as the… read more!
I had hoped to preface this list with a trivia nugget about the first song ever written for a film. Alas, my research has proven inconclusive, though it might have been "Sonny Boy", from the 1928 Al Jolson musical The Singing Fool. (It was almost certainly the first hit song written for a film.) Anyway, lots of well-known songs came from… read more!
In the old days, a biographical motion picture – biopic, for short – would cover its subject's life from cradle to grave, emphasis on grave. Yet there have also been countless biopics made while their subjects were very much alive: W., The Queen, What's Love Got to Do with It, I, Tonya, and so forth. In rare, awkward instances, the… read more!
Now that half the universe has seen Avengers: Endgame, I feel comfortable in talking about it without fear of spoiling it. Still, if you haven't yet seen the film, and you still intend to, then leave this page immediately. In any event, while one must suspend tons of disbelief when watching a superhero movie, Endgame did leave me with some… read more!
San Francisco has starred in scores of films, and nearby Oakland has recently had some time in the spotlight thanks to Fruitvale Station, Sorry to Bother You, etc. But what of lowly San Jose and its environs? Silicon Valley is driving the world's culture right now, but motion pictures shot in Santa Clara County – or with stories set in… read more!
When you think of the British Invasion – the musical one, in the mid 1960s – you think of the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Who, and maybe the Kinks. The Beatles, of course, also became movie stars that decade, beginning with A Hard Day's Night. The other three bands, alas, never got their own teenybopper films. (Gimme Shelter, Tommy, and Return to… read more!