2013 Sir Peter Ustinov Scriptwriting Award

Emmys

Well today is the deadline for the 2013 Sir Peter Ustinov Scriptwriting Award, run by the international Emmys and I have just sent in my script for consideration.

Having only a month to conceive of an idea and write a 30-60 minute script was certainly a challenge, but I did manage it (just about!)

Having wasted the first two weeks on an idea I couldn’t cement and the last 2 weeks procrastinating (where I only managed to write a quick first draft), I left most of the work to the last five days. So I don’t expect to win.

Regardless, I am happy having completed the 45 or so minute script and hope I can keep the momentum going into the next project, whatever that may be.

Something For The Weekend: The Ice Harvest

The Ice Harvest

Sure it’s the summer, but there’s always time for a Christmas film!

The Ice Harvest is a black comedy directed by Harold Ramis and starring John Cusack and Billy Bob Thornton.

Cusack plays Charlie, a lawyer for the mob who is estranged from his family, whilst Thornton plays Vic, a porn distributor. The two lowlifes then join forces to steal $2 million from the mob boss. The film is set the evening after the theft so that they can escape when the weather gets better.

Charlie spends most of the film going from strip joint to strip joint, getting drunk and helping other people, which is decidedly out of character.

It is a decidedly dark turn for Ramis, but also works best when it is at it’s darkest. There are some funny moments, the pulpy, noir-style story moves along nicely and the performances from Cusack and Thornton are good.

Despite being adapted from a novel, it is also a remarkably short film, clocking in at around 80 minutes. It has also been referred to as similar to a Coen Brothers style film. Whilst it is nowhere near that quality, it does give a feel for what to expect.

Something For The Weekend: The Weather Man

The Weather Man

Nicolas Cage plays a weatherman whose family is falling apart. He has divorced his wife, his child is obese and being bullied and his son’s drug councillor’s behaviour seems highly dubious. He also has a difficult relationship with his father, who is dying of cancer.

Everyone is miserable and it is up to Cage’s character to sort it out, sort of.

This is a nice story about someone trying to do right by his family, whilst trying to sort his own mind out.

There are some good performances here and a nicely written script.

Five Seasons and Dan Harmon?! Speculation On The Future of Community

So, despite being a massive critical disappointment, Community has been renewed for a fifth season. This has less to do with ratings (season 4 was pretty much the same as season 3 in that regard), but about reaching that magic number and allowing that magic word to be spoken:

Syndication.

Another 13 episodes will be enough to make a lot of people a lot of money. Continue reading

Whats In A Name?

It is difficult to tell whether or not this is a recent trend, but I have noticed it recently.

I know branding is a major part of selling a movie, but this year I have seen three blockbusters, none of which I recognised as being legitimate parts of their respective franchises. By this I mean any of the three films could easily have been done with minor tweaks and no-one would have gone “that’s a blatant rip-off of <insert beloved franchise here>!”

The first time I noticed was with Star Trek Into Darkness. Now, I have a lot of problems with J. J. Abrams in general and the Star Trek reboot in particular. This latest film has completely removed all the things that made the series (and some of the films) really interesting. They dealt with issues and theology and morality. The reboot is just stuff blowing up really fast so as to distract you from the ridiculousness of the plot.

Then there was Iron Man 3, which admittedly due to the specific “suits of iron” make this a little harder to copy, but not by much. Despite this being the 3rd or 4th time I’d seen these characters I didn’t recognise any of them. The biggest problem seemed to be that they had drawn out this distinctly mid 1990s film structure and then forced the characters into it, rather than allowing the characters to develop naturally.

Then there was A Good Day To Die Hard. Boy, oh boy! Whilst the fourth edition had seen our favourite string vest wearing protagonist into some kind of bad ass action hero, rather than the everyday cop of the first three, the fifth one turned it up another notch. Aside from the stupid dialogue, the stupid, weak, stupid plot, and the boring characters, they made him immune to radiation poisoning! If this isn’t a Die Hard movie, it doesn’t get made.

All these films have completely abandoned everything that made them interesting and to make things worse, there will be sequels to all of them.

I am not against sequels and reboots, though there are probably too many, but these films hardly qualify. If you are going to change everything so that it barely resembles what came before, please use a different name.