Friday, November 28, 2008

Four Christmases (and two good jokes)

Just saw Four Christmases and was SO disappointed. As I've mentioned before, I first read of the concept for this film ages ago and thought it was such a brilliant idea for a Christmas movie. It had nearly unlimited comedic potential and had the promise of being a year-on Xmas classic. Well, they blew it.

Despite a great initial idea and a top cast (Robert Duval, Sissy Spacek and Jon Voight, all wasted in minor roles as the divorced parents), the film is a badly-written, lazily-directed series of cliches. There are two funny bits - Reese Witherspoon getting trapped in a jumping castle and Vince Vaughn falling off his dad's roof while trying to fix the TV aerial. Otherwise the movie bored me (and most of the audience, judging by the muted reactions) to tears.

One of the problems is that Vaughn, who is likeable and funny in small doses, was let completely off the leash in this one and is just obnoxious. Reese Witherspoon, as his supposedly adoring fiancee, could barely hide her dislike....

It just goes to show that you can start with a diamond and end up with a lump of coal.

Four Christmases (and two good jokes)

Just saw Four Christmases and was SO disappointed. As I've mentioned before, I first read of the concept for this film ages ago and thought it was such a brilliant idea for a Christmas movie. It had nearly unlimited comedic potential and had the promise of being a year-on Xmas classic. Well, they blew it.

Despite a great initial idea and a top cast (Robert Duval, Sissy Spacek and Jon Voight, all wasted in minor roles as the divorced parents), the film is a badly-written, lazily-directed series of cliches. There are two funny bits - Reese Witherspoon getting trapped in a jumping castle and Vince Vaughn falling off his dad's roof while trying to fix the TV aerial. Otherwise the movie bored me (and most of the audience, judging by the muted reactions) to tears.

One of the problems is that Vaughn, who is likeable and funny in small doses, was let completely off the leash in this one and is just obnoxious. Reese Witherspoon, as his supposedly adoring fiancee, could barely hide her dislike....

It just goes to show that you can start with a diamond and end up with a lump of coal.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Christmas presents and upcoming movies

Two flicks I can't wait to see are Four Christmases and Twilight. Four Christmases because I first read of the premise for this film in Blake Snyder's brilliant Save the Cat book and thought it was such a great idea: a newly-married couple have to spend part of Christmas day with each of their divorced parents (so four Christmases in one day). Let's hope they haven't dropped the ball in executing it and ruined what promises to be the sort of funny Xmas movie we can all identify with.

Twilight I have to see simply because the teenage girls' reaction to star Robert Pattinson appearing at the Austin Film Festival was so insane that I have to see what the fuss is about. I didn't think he was fantastic in How to Be, the film actually showing at the festival, so am curious to see what he'll be like in Twilight.

It's based on a novel (which I haven't read yet), which brings me neatly onto my tip for Christmas presents: buy novels that are about to be made into films next year. It can be person/age appropriate, i.e. get children's books for the kiddies, something like Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane for people who like thrillers etc. That way, when the films come out in the theatre, they can be all smug and say "Well, of course I've read that already". It's a no-brainer: people love being ahead of the pack....

Christmas presents and upcoming movies

Two flicks I can't wait to see are Four Christmases and Twilight. Four Christmases because I first read of the premise for this film in Blake Snyder's brilliant Save the Cat book and thought it was such a great idea: a newly-married couple have to spend part of Christmas day with each of their divorced parents (so four Christmases in one day). Let's hope they haven't dropped the ball in executing it and ruined what promises to be the sort of funny Xmas movie we can all identify with.

Twilight I have to see simply because the teenage girls' reaction to star Robert Pattinson appearing at the Austin Film Festival was so insane that I have to see what the fuss is about. I didn't think he was fantastic in How to Be, the film actually showing at the festival, so am curious to see what he'll be like in Twilight.

It's based on a novel (which I haven't read yet), which brings me neatly onto my tip for Christmas presents: buy novels that are about to be made into films next year. It can be person/age appropriate, i.e. get children's books for the kiddies, something like Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane for people who like thrillers etc. That way, when the films come out in the theatre, they can be all smug and say "Well, of course I've read that already". It's a no-brainer: people love being ahead of the pack....

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Being patient - and a pleading letter to Ewan McGregor

I've started work on The Heartstoppers, my U.S.-set comedy horror and it's going well. The reason - and the thing that's changed my screenwriting life - is that I sat down first and wrote a ten-page treatment for it. Never again will I try to write a script without a treatment. Therein lies madness! And a lot of frustration and pacing up and down....

After some good news about my Irish thriller Summer Tide, things seem to have gone quiet again. However, I'm trying to learn to be patient about these scriptwriting go-slows so I'm cracking on with other projects and leaving all that to percolate, at least for a while.

I haven't seen any films in the theatre since Easy Virtue, which is shocking. However, I see Ewan McGregor is in cinemas with another complete turkey, i.e. Incendiary. What's happened?? He used to be one of my favorite actors . I've sat through some humdingers in the past few years because he was in them and I figured they couldn't be that bad (I was wrong).

In the spirit of Empire's hilarious open letter to Mark Walhlberg ( http://www.empireonline.com/empireblog/post.asp?id=308), I'm writing a letter to Ewan to ask him to get his act together already:

Dear Ewan McGregor,

I'm been a fan of yours since I saw Shallow Grave 15 years ago. You immediately endeared yourself to me with your great acting, adventurous role choices and willingness to get your kit off at every opportunity. You were jaw-dropping in Trainspotting (I'm ignoring Blue Juice), great in Emma and lovable in Brassed Off and if A Life Less Ordinary was less than brilliant, it wasn't really your fault. Up to 2004 I'd have defended you to anyone who criticised you but in the last four years you have made it seriously difficult to be your fan.

First of all, your film choices have been more and more random. I still can't believe I paid good money to see The Island. What a load of crap. You looked silly, you had no chemistry with Scarlett Johansson and frankly, Steve Buscemi acted you off the screen. The latest crime against movies that you participated in (that I've seen anyway), was Deception. Yes, Hugh Jackman and Michelle Williams should be ashamed of themselves too, but at least they gave it their all. You looked like you were thinking of the bike trip you were going to fund with your fee.

I think the rot started with Star Wars. For some reason George Lucas is able to take perfectly good actors and suck all the life out of them and that's what happened in this case. You were supposed to be heroic and I just wanted to smack you. Please, whatever George says to you on the phone, no more Obi Wan.

The other big mistake was teaming up with Charley Boorman to do that stupid TV series. Every group of male friends seems to include someone like Charley Boorman and he's usually the guy all the female partners wish would disappear. When I watch this show I feel for Mrs. McGregor, at home with the kids while two self indulgent idiots with too much money and time on their hands faff around the world on their penis-extension machines. Ewan, sometimes it's nice to maintain some mystery, and letting all your fans see you at your macho worst wasn't the best move.

It's not too late - you can get back to doing what you do best and take on brave, brilliant parts. But please, Ewan, sooner rather than later. I want to be able to go to the cinema and NOT come out cringing or annoyed. I want to be blown away again - and I know you can do it.

Best,

Eilis

Being patient - and a pleading letter to Ewan McGregor

I've started work on The Heartstoppers, my U.S.-set comedy horror and it's going well. The reason - and the thing that's changed my screenwriting life - is that I sat down first and wrote a ten-page treatment for it. Never again will I try to write a script without a treatment. Therein lies madness! And a lot of frustration and pacing up and down....

After some good news about my Irish thriller Summer Tide, things seem to have gone quiet again. However, I'm trying to learn to be patient about these scriptwriting go-slows so I'm cracking on with other projects and leaving all that to percolate, at least for a while.

I haven't seen any films in the theatre since Easy Virtue, which is shocking. However, I see Ewan McGregor is in cinemas with another complete turkey, i.e. Incendiary. What's happened?? He used to be one of my favorite actors . I've sat through some humdingers in the past few years because he was in them and I figured they couldn't be that bad (I was wrong).

In the spirit of Empire's hilarious open letter to Mark Walhlberg ( http://www.empireonline.com/empireblog/post.asp?id=308), I'm writing a letter to Ewan to ask him to get his act together already:

Dear Ewan McGregor,

I'm been a fan of yours since I saw Shallow Grave 15 years ago. You immediately endeared yourself to me with your great acting, adventurous role choices and willingness to get your kit off at every opportunity. You were jaw-dropping in Trainspotting (I'm ignoring Blue Juice), great in Emma and lovable in Brassed Off and if A Life Less Ordinary was less than brilliant, it wasn't really your fault. Up to 2004 I'd have defended you to anyone who criticised you but in the last four years you have made it seriously difficult to be your fan.

First of all, your film choices have been more and more random. I still can't believe I paid good money to see The Island. What a load of crap. You looked silly, you had no chemistry with Scarlett Johansson and frankly, Steve Buscemi acted you off the screen. The latest crime against movies that you participated in (that I've seen anyway), was Deception. Yes, Hugh Jackman and Michelle Williams should be ashamed of themselves too, but at least they gave it their all. You looked like you were thinking of the bike trip you were going to fund with your fee.

I think the rot started with Star Wars. For some reason George Lucas is able to take perfectly good actors and suck all the life out of them and that's what happened in this case. You were supposed to be heroic and I just wanted to smack you. Please, whatever George says to you on the phone, no more Obi Wan.

The other big mistake was teaming up with Charley Boorman to do that stupid TV series. Every group of male friends seems to include someone like Charley Boorman and he's usually the guy all the female partners wish would disappear. When I watch this show I feel for Mrs. McGregor, at home with the kids while two self indulgent idiots with too much money and time on their hands faff around the world on their penis-extension machines. Ewan, sometimes it's nice to maintain some mystery, and letting all your fans see you at your macho worst wasn't the best move.

It's not too late - you can get back to doing what you do best and take on brave, brilliant parts. But please, Ewan, sooner rather than later. I want to be able to go to the cinema and NOT come out cringing or annoyed. I want to be blown away again - and I know you can do it.

Best,

Eilis

Friday, November 7, 2008

Two films, one stinker.

A quiet-ish week - saw Burn After Reading and Easy Virtue. One was a complete disappointment and the other was a nice surprise. And not the one you'd think!

Burn After Reading was actually a disaster. I've rarely been so disappointed by a film: the weird thing is that this means the Coen Brothers have now made my favorite film of the last year AND my least favorite. They managed to write a script in this case with not one likeable character, and wasted the talents of Malkovich, Clooney et al. I'm not saying every film has a have a "save the cat" type moment, but if you don't see any reason to like the main character after 30 minutes have passed, then the film-makers have lost you. It was a same problem with Eagle Eye - Shia La Boeuf did his best to make his character someone you would root for, but he was saddled with playing a guy who cheats his friends out of money, owes his landlady rent, whines at his dad and has a twin complex. Suck it up!

If you want to see properly written characters and some great performances, go to Easy Virtue instead. I've never been sure about Jessica Biel's acting ability but she was excellent as the flashy Larita and has the film's best line (about her in-law's draughty English mansion), "I can't live here. Nothing can".

Two films, one stinker.

A quiet-ish week - saw Burn After Reading and Easy Virtue. One was a complete disappointment and the other was a nice surprise. And not the one you'd think!

Burn After Reading was actually a disaster. I've rarely been so disappointed by a film: the weird thing is that this means the Coen Brothers have now made my favorite film of the last year AND my least favorite. They managed to write a script in this case with not one likeable character, and wasted the talents of Malkovich, Clooney et al. I'm not saying every film has a have a "save the cat" type moment, but if you don't see any reason to like the main character after 30 minutes have passed, then the film-makers have lost you. It was a same problem with Eagle Eye - Shia La Boeuf did his best to make his character someone you would root for, but he was saddled with playing a guy who cheats his friends out of money, owes his landlady rent, whines at his dad and has a twin complex. Suck it up!

If you want to see properly written characters and some great performances, go to Easy Virtue instead. I've never been sure about Jessica Biel's acting ability but she was excellent as the flashy Larita and has the film's best line (about her in-law's draughty English mansion), "I can't live here. Nothing can".

Saturday, November 1, 2008

The name is....

I've been dying to see Quantum of Solace for ages and finally got the chance tonight.

It's not the most fun Bond movie that's ever been but I really enjoyed it nonetheless. I loved the way they updated Bond in the sense that it's now a much more uncertain world. He doesn't necessarily defeat the villain (or at least not in the way you would think), he doesn't get as much bedroom action as he used to - and as for saving the world, in this one it's more Bond versus global warming than Bond versus some Blofeld-type villain. And all the better for it!

The stunts are amazing: maybe not as amazing as Casino Royale with the cool free-running sequence but pretty damn good. There are some nice touches - one of my cinema accomplices pointed out a sweet little stunt where Daniel Craig walks nonchalently along a thin parapet. Hard to imagine Roger Moore managing that one!

As for the villain, well the real villain is the super-secretive Quantum organisation but as its human face in the movie, Mathieu Amalric is utterly malevolent. I don't know whether I was more freaked out by his cold eyes or the fact that he looks really like a younger version of Roman Polanski.

Bond 21 - check it out.

In other news, no need to ask anymore whatever happened to Corey Haim because he's back! Pictures from the set of Crank 2 show Corey getting his ass kicked by the female star Amy Smart (see here). Corey, it's good to have you back - next let's see you in a movie I will actually pay to see...

The name is....

I've been dying to see Quantum of Solace for ages and finally got the chance tonight.

It's not the most fun Bond movie that's ever been but I really enjoyed it nonetheless. I loved the way they updated Bond in the sense that it's now a much more uncertain world. He doesn't necessarily defeat the villain (or at least not in the way you would think), he doesn't get as much bedroom action as he used to - and as for saving the world, in this one it's more Bond versus global warming than Bond versus some Blofeld-type villain. And all the better for it!

The stunts are amazing: maybe not as amazing as Casino Royale with the cool free-running sequence but pretty damn good. There are some nice touches - one of my cinema accomplices pointed out a sweet little stunt where Daniel Craig walks nonchalently along a thin parapet. Hard to imagine Roger Moore managing that one!

As for the villain, well the real villain is the super-secretive Quantum organisation but as its human face in the movie, Mathieu Amalric is utterly malevolent. I don't know whether I was more freaked out by his cold eyes or the fact that he looks really like a younger version of Roman Polanski.

Bond 21 - check it out.

In other news, no need to ask anymore whatever happened to Corey Haim because he's back! Pictures from the set of Crank 2 show Corey getting his ass kicked by the female star Amy Smart (see here). Corey, it's good to have you back - next let's see you in a movie I will actually pay to see...