Something, something… Edgar Wright, Marvel, Ant-Man… something.

I am spending today in my jammies, watching the Cornetto Trilogy. No reason. Just because.

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The Weekend Reader March 28ish – (The Stuck In An Airport With You Edition)

Did anyone else notice March went by really, really quickly?

Also, did anyone else spend an inordinate amount of time in March reading about Chris Evans?

Just me? Alright…

All the Captain America-related reading will be found in next week’s Reader. As a result, you might notice a dearth of reading material this week. I’ve been on the road working, I swear. Not just swooning over Chris Evans. In fact, as I write this, I am stuck in an airport lounge waiting  for a delayed flight. As far as I know,  Chris Evans is not here, nor is he responsabal for the flight delay. So I think I need to stop thinking about him…

 

Ahem. Anyway:

Attention female filmmaker! There’s grant money out there to finish your films.

Are there differences between writers and the mentally ill? Not so much.

New York state may give incentives to encourage diversity in writers rooms.

David Goyer really doesn’t care what you think (umm… and maybe he should? Possibly? Perhaps?)

The Black List has TONS of partnerships happening right now. Be sure to check them out!

Jason Bateman’s BAD WORDS opens wide this week. It’s a filthy, funny adult comedy that you should see if you haven’t

And the best thing I saw this week (or, possibly, in 30 years…)

 

More next week. Until then, Chris Evans! Um… OK, I did honestly think that. I’m not gonna lie.

 

 

The Weekend Reader – February 28ish (Oscar Weekend Edition!)

Oscar weeeeeeeeeeeekend! Let’s get ready to… um, eat popcorn in front of the TV in pjs? (Sound right?)

BUT WHAT ABOUT LIAM NEESONS, THO?

(I try not to pimp movies often, but Non-Stop is the type of movie that explains why I love writing thrillers so much. And can we talk about Corey Stoll? Can he be in everything already?)

Seriously, I know it`s too late for this year, but can we work on getting Liam Neeson a special Ass-Kicking Oscar next year?

OK, that`s not classy enough for the Oscars. Let`s call it the Lifetime Achievement In The Moving Arts Specifically Isolated In The Lower Extremity to Human Posterior Contact in a Spectacular Fashion Award.

Not to worry- we have a whole year to name it.

Once you`ve circulated your request to the appropriate offices, you can treat yourself to either:

The best commercial you`ve ever seen involving macaroni, cheese and turtles

or

Give yourself (and others) all the High Fives you can stand (there`s an app for that!)

There should be enough reading to tide you over from opening night of Non-Stop to Oscar Sunday, speaking of which…

THR talks to Brutally Honest Oscar Voters (emphasis on the brutal)

Five shocking stats about Oscar and Gender

In film festival news:

Enter your film to be judged by the greatest film jury, possibly, ever

James Franco has earned his own film festival

This just in! A bulletin from the Marvel Universe (and it`s not about the pizza boxes. Also, is it weird that Loki is on the Supreme Pizza? No, of course it`s not. I didn`t get a picture, but I will. I will.)

And the good stuff:

An interesting Buzzfeed video that will help you Change the way you look at women

Forbes talks about Why women can`t make movies

Slate talks about why it`s OK for The women on True Detective to be treated like garbage (I would love a huge, critical hit show where women both matter and aren`t totally sexualized objects. That would be cool.)

And, lastly, if you`re thinking about starting up a campaign that benefits girls and women, hit up Indiegogo and they will kick in some extra funds on International Woman`s Day.

In fact, International Woman`s Day is coming up soon! In fact, I think it`s a whole week now (go figure- half the population gets a week of celebration… yay.) But, there are so many accomplishments worth celebrating that I will try to pull out as many as I can.

Because we are all about celebration here. So congrats to all of this weekend`s winners, and to all the award season winners in general. And to Liam Neeson.

You know, for next year.

Colour And Gender-Blind Casting… What’s The Real Issue?

Ladies and gentlemen, lock up your internets!

Someone made the mistake of announcing the cast of a comic book movie.*

To quote the great Ben Affleck: “NOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!”**

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Reaction has been… er, mixed. (HA HA. NO PUN INTENDED.)

As an aside, I would like to take this time to come really, intensely clean on this topic. I generally don’t care who gets cast in what. Anything can happen between casting and opening weekend. The only time I have ever really been openly peeved about casting was when they announced casting for…

Captain America.***

And I was wrong about that. I was so wrong. I could literally not have been any wrong-er and survived until now. I am still sorry. Chris Evans won me over… In approximately 38 seconds.

It bothers me to this day that I was so judgmental and harsh on a process I wasn’t privy to or involved in. I had no idea what was going to happen, and I still felt the need to complain. Loudly.

But it seems no one really admits to this wrongheadedness- before, during or after filming.

Especially the pseudo-trolls. Listen, I know enough to not read comments on the world wide web but, wow, I’ve been feeling like I can’t get away from them in the last 24 hours. The biggest online complaint?

Michael B. Jordan isn’t white.

Usually followed up with “Now, I’m not a racist, but…”

Oooookay.

The mighty Mister Jordan (from my favourite movie of 2013, Fruitvale Station) will supposedly be playing Johnny Storm, brother of Sue Storm. Sue Storm, if you believe the hype, is to be played by Kate Mara.

Most of the online chatter seems to emanate from the fact that the two don’t look closely related… But, as many others have countered, Jessica Alba and (in a strange coincidence) Chris Evans didn’t look enough alike to play siblings in the previous incarnation of the FF. Nor were the two actors even of the same ethnicity/background.

“Now, I’m not a racist, but…”

Oh, wait, I got ahead of myself. Did I mention that The Fantastic Four is A STORY ABOUT PEOPLE WHO GO TO SPACE AND COME BACK WITH SUPER POWERS?

I won’t go into detail (the backstory is on Wikipedia if you’re not familiar) but, yeah, this is the root of the story we’re talking about. Based on this, why would anyone argue about who’s not supposed to black or not supposed to be a woman?

Oh, yeah, also forgot that the main FF villain might be re-imagined as a woman. Though to some, a female Doctor Doom is still less credible than A STORY ABOUT PEOPLE WHO GO TO SPACE AND COME BACK WITH SUPER POWERS?

Wait, ladies can be DOCTORS?! When did that happen, y’all?

OK, it’s now serious time. Please listen to my plea, nerds, geeks, fans and lovers of comics and movies and everyone in between, however you may self-identify:

I am one of you. I hear you. I really do. You love these people and you love their story they way it was first told to you. You want them to be exactly the way you’ve always known them to be. You are invested in these characters and what becomes of them.

Being against change, in the context of any form of fandom, makes total sense.

But it doesn’t change the fact that what you’re ultimately advocating is really against the spirit of the characters and, honestly, the medium itself.

I’m not going to speak on behalf of Stan Lee, co-creator of The Fantastic Four. I’ll let him speak for himself:

“For just this once, I would do the type of story I myself would enjoy reading…. And the characters would be the kind of characters I could personally relate to: they’d be flesh and blood, they’d have their faults and foibles, they’d be fallible and feisty, and — most important of all — inside their colorful, costumed booties they’d still have feet of clay.” -Stan Lee (Also, ironically, a quote reused on the FF Wikipedia page.)

The characters in The Fantastic Four were created to allow readers to enjoy the adventures of people they could identify with. People can read the stories and see themselves in them. That’s what the best comics do, after all.

So, can we allow the next generation to have the same experience? Maybe even do it up a bit better? Can we expand the mirror image of characters to blacks and hispanics and women and minorities of all shapes, sizes and stripes? Why can’t Donald Glover be Spiderman? Why can’t Sam Jackson be Nick Fury? Why can’t Idris Elba be Heimdall?

Why can’t Kate Mara and Michael B. Jordan be siblings?

Why can’t we expand the characters we love to encompass other realities and make new fans feel mirrored and welcome in spaces that have always been safe for white boys? Why can’t women see real representatives of themselves in comics? Why can’t people of colour be whoever they want to be in comics? Why can’t we, when it comes to casting the films, be open enough to re-imagine the characters we love into something new?

Why can’t we be generous enough to transform art we love into a gateway for someone else to enjoy it as much as we do?

Any story, even one re-imagined with a black superhero, blended family and a female villain, shouldn’t be more foreign to any of us than A STORY ABOUT PEOPLE WHO GO TO SPACE AND COME BACK WITH SUPER POWERS.

Just a thought.

*Based on the Variety article, this doesn’t necessarily seem to be firm casting. (Offers seem to still be pending for just about everyone.) Are these notices leaked to try and scare off talent? It scared that guy off 50 Shades.

**No disrespect to Ben Affleck.

***No disrespect to Chris Evans. I owe that man a beer. Or a case. Or, honestly, a brewery. (Or a Wahlburgers franchise? I’m open to negotiations on this.)

Best Bits of 2013 – The Year of Screenwriting Dangerously

There are a glut (a word I do not use lightly) of “best-of” lists that appear this time of year. Originally, I wasn’t going to add to the pile at all, but I wanted to recap the work of screenwriters I’ve enjoyed in 2013. I’ve been blessed to be on the receiving end of so much great wisdom this year, so I figure this is the least I can do.

(A disclaimer- I am not a movie critic, so my viewing isn’t as thorough as someone who watches movies for a living. I see a lot of movies because I write movies. I sometimes gravitate more to movies/genres/stars/writers I like. And there are still a handful of unseen films on my must-see 2013 list, as listed below. So, better yet, don’t even consider this a year-end list. This is just a collection of films I liked in 2013 that had awesome writers and creators that I’ve learned a whole lot from. Enjoy.)

1-Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg – The World’s End

The only film I can ever imagine seeing in a theatre 13 times (which I really did do) because I am so much in love with the Pegg/Wright aesthetic. Shaun of the Dead turned me on to a whole genre and Hot Fuzz turned a genre I already loved on its head, but The World’s End was something… else. Something really beyond your average film-going experience. Something really smart,  invaluably sweet and utterly enjoyable.

Screenplays for all three films are available on The Ultimate Three Flavors Cornetto® Trilogy Blu-ray™ and there are oh-so-many how-to writing and filmmaking bits floating around online that the guys have shared in their decade-long writing partnership. A huge inspiration to me.

 

2-Ed Solomon – Now You See Me

My all-time favourite screenwriter since forever turned out to be the coolest, sweetest and most generous writer, possibly ever. Did I mention the smartest? Also, probably that. And did I mention I love his work. Swoon. Just swoon.

I was really enchanted by Now You See Me (remind me to post more about how great Mark Ruffalo always is) and I can’t wait to see whatever he works on next.

 

3-Katie Dippold – The Heat

I watched The Heat in theatres, on planes, in airports, in bed. I loved everything about it – including the performances and director – but I especially loved the funny and fearless script. It also prompted the realization that Katie Dippold was one of the few female screenwriters I could actually name… And that was part of the reason why this blog was created in the first place.

 

4-The Great Teachers of TX (Austin, to be exact)

I have been promising myself every year, literally, for nearly 20 years that I would make the trek to Austin, Texas to spend a week of sun and fun there during SXSW. Finally, this year, I made it… almost. I made it to Austin just in time for the 20th Austin Film Festival. I do not regret that choice. Those folks aren’t kidding around.

They say it’s a writer’s festival and they mean it. I spent a lot of time and money on screenwriting events over the past 12 months and, though Austin was kinda pricey, a lovely bunch of people made it worthwhile, including:

Craig Mazin – Identity Thief

Craig Mazin is really, really good at his job. Aside from the weekly Scriptnotes podcast with John August, he wrote both this year’s Identity Thief and The Hangover Part III. But it was Craig’s A-Game at the AFF that floored me. Especially his panel Structurally Sound. I couldn’t explain it to you if I tried but, man, it felt like a whole screenwriting education crammed into an oh-so-brief session (in a very tiny room, even).

Listen to Scriptnotes

 

Shane Black (with Drew Pearce) – Iron Man 3

This year, after a long and flirtatious courtship, I really fell hard for Shane Black. At AFF, listening to him talk in such loving, dulcet tones about noir, hard action, insane thrillers and Iron Man… You had me at noir, Shane. You had me at noir.

Listen to the brilliant On Story Podcast with Shane Black

 

Vince Gilligan – Breaking Bad

This was the year of Vince Gilligan was capped off with the heartbreakingly brilliant end of Breaking Bad. I very nearly expected the AFF crowd would organize a parade to hoist and carry him through the streets. And deservedly so.  In the lead up to the AFF, I did some binge-watching of classic Gilligan-penned X-Files eps like Memento Mori and Drive. I have so much respect for someone working at that insane level of talent.

Listen to the lovely On Story Podcast with Vince Gilligan

 

(Side note: is it weird that I can’t find any of the video from the Austin Film Festival? They seemed to film everything, and there was so much good stuff… If anyone knows where I can point to, let me know!)

5-For Heroes, Thrillers and those Lost in Space

Joss Whedon (with a little help from William Shakespeare) – Much Ado About Nothing

Find someone Joss Whedon hasn’t inspired and I’ll give you a nickle. I have a lot of nickles and I’ve never had to give one away. (I forgot about Much Ado initially, only because I first saw it at TIFF in 2012. It was magic, though, no matter how or when or where you saw it. Enough with the Marvel nonsense Joss! Make more Shakespeare!)

 

Nicolas Winding Refn – Only God Forgives

Another early entry that may not be for everyone, but film I liked from a generous filmmaker nonetheless.

 

Scott Z. Burns – Side Effects

There aren’t enough straight-up adult thrillers. I don’t think Hollywood ever had an era where they cranked out an excess of these. There’s no time like the present…

 

Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke – Before Midnight

I love these movies. Richard Linklater has written a bunch of other brilliant movies. Julie Delpy has written a bunch of other great movies. Before Midnight is a masterclass in everything.

 

Alfonso and Jonas Cuaron – Gravity

One thing I’ve learned in 2013 is that the more movies you watch, the more cynical you can get about the strained, cookie-cutter fare that seems to rerun endlessly. If you ever wake up feeling like that, watch Gravity. Or anything Cuaron, really.

 

7-The New Kid

Ryan Coogler – Fruitvale Station

I’ve already declared my Best Picture for 2013 because the only movie that made my heart stop in 2013 was Fruitvale Station. So, if you haven’t seen it, do. And if you’re the type who votes, take it under consideration.

Read the unlikely story of Ryan Coogler

 

Still playing 2013 catch-up (some are available for reading right now, thanks to Go Into The Story for the links):

Enough Said by Nicole Holofcener

Dallas Buyer’s Club by Craig Borten and Melisa Wallack

Saving Mr Banks by Kelly Marcel

Philomena by Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope 

Nebraska by Robert W. Nelson

Mandela: The Long Walk To Freedom by William Nicholson 

August: Osage County by Tracy Letts 

Inside Llewyn Davis by Joel and Ethan Coen

 

And, yes, this is still my favourite clip from 2013. No contest. Happy new year indeed.