Seems like forever since I posted here. I blame it all on GoDaddy. They made my web builder obsolete, and for a year I tried jumping through all kinds of hoops to make it work. Alas, it was not to be. So I bit the bullet and used one of their (far less flexible) web builders to recreate this site. It's all a work in progress -- honestly work I'd rather not waste time on. But now that I'm more or less up and running, I'll be posting more often. See you soon. 02.17.22
I was interviewed by Larry "Dr. Trek" Nemecek for his Star Trek web site. It was a fun interview, mostly about Star Trek and my writing for The Next Generation and Voyager. Unfortunately, the link is no longer active. 07.18.20
There are three cinematic techniques that absolutely take me out of the film: shaky cam. lens flare and the one-shot film. When I watch a film or a TV show, I want to be immersed in it, drawn into it so that all my attention is focused on the characters and their struggles. But these three cinematic techniques (which quite a few directors and cinematographers evidently find to be cool) work against that, and make me painfully aware that I'm watching camera work. Shaky cam is supposed to reflect reality, but I don't actually bob my head around when I'm looking at something. Likewise, even though I wear glasses, I've never experienced lens flare in real life. The one-shot film was pioneered by Alfred Hitchcock in one of his least successful films: Rope. Lately (because of advances in digital tech) the one-shot technique has been used in films like Birdman, Hardcore Henry, and 1917 -- a film that, but for the one-shot technique, might have actually been good. So much of the time when I watched 1917 I was pulled out of the film -- admiring the shot, but completely removed from the story. There's a reason Hitchcock never did another one-shot film. 06.22.20 reviews
Really enjoyed this 6 episode Netflix miniseries The English Game, about the origins of football (what we call soccer). It's from Julian Fellowes, the creator of Downton Abbey, and it has all the class conflict and ultimately warm sentiment that characterized that show. Nice character-based drama as well. Maybe the history of this series is not exactly accurate, but if you've ever enjoyed the game of soccer (as Beverly and I did, managing our daughter's club team) and experienced its ups and downs, you can't help but identify with The English Game. 04.26.20
I saw The Irishman last week and used it as the film of the week for my online screenwriting class. It's worth watching because as a film by Martin Scorsese, a major director, essentially made for streaming on Netflix, it's historic. But as a film itself, it's merely good, not great. The script by Steven Zaillian is well-written, the cinematography is gorgeous with little or no use of shaky cam. The biggest problem I had with it is that, despite great performances, it is miscast. Using four older actors (Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Joe Pesci and Harvey Keitel) and digitally de-aging them to play younger men is part of the problem, and to be honest, it didn't really work for me. But the bigger issue is casting two actors who are most identified by playing Italian-Americans as an Irishman (De Niro's character Frank Sheeran) and a German-Dutch-American (Pacino's character Jimmy Hoffa). De Niro wasn't the slightest bit Irish and essentially played De Niro. This worked strongly against the basic concept of the film which is the idea of an Irishman working as a hitman for the Italian mafia. His character was supposed to be an outsider, and yet, as played by De Niro was really just another one of the boyz. Pacino (though he gave a great performance) was slightly less problematic as Hoffa. But when a scene required the guy who played Michael Corleone to speak about the Italian mob as "you people" it just didn't play. 12.13.19
I can't say that I've been overly wowed by anything, but three crime dramas (especially the two French ones) are definitely worth the time. First up is Mindhunter, a period drama in which members of a new Behavioral Sciences Department at the FBI interview serial killers in order to understand their thinking with hopes of applying that knowledge to current cases. What's cool about the show is that the prison interviews reportedly use transcripts of actual interviews with Charles Manson, Richard Speck, Ed Kemper and David Berkowitz. Normal people can't write dialogue like this. What's less cool is that for the most part there are no ongoing investigations and therefore little drama. What drama there is -- family/relationship drama as well as conflict within the team -- feels manufactured.
The next two are crime dramas from France, La Foret (The Forest) and Black Spot (Zone Blanche). Both take place in small mountain villages in the countryside surrounded by forests that have a mysterious or supernatural element. Both feature missing or murdered children that start investigations by the local gendarmerie. The top cops in each show are sensational. The police in Black Spot are headed by a woman (a local resident with a dark history in the woods). The police in La Foret are headed by a serious cop who is a new arrival in town. All the acting is great, or at least seems great since my French is more than a little rusty. 09.30.19
Mongoose I: Backed over with my car in the garage, wrecked. Mongoose II: Wrecked when I was hit by a car, frame bent. Mongoose III: Stolen outside LA Fitness club two weeks ago. Mongoose IV: Brand new, ready for adventure (see pic). I've gotta be one of Wal-Mart's best bike customers. 06.20.19