Shane Black

5 Movies I Loved in 2016

Sean Tuohy shares his five favorite movies from the past year. Send us your favorites by dropping us a line in the comments section, on our Facebook page, or by tweeting us @WritersBone.

By Sean Tuohy

“The Nice Guys”

This should be no surprise: I love this movie. I’ve been in love with it since I read Shane Black’s 2006 script for this dark comedy. The film, which ended up being directed by Black, is the movie that moviegoers were crying out for but didn’t know it. Smart, funny, and filled with enough gunplay and one-liners to bring out the movie hard on.

Read Sean Tuohy's  interview with Charles Ardai , author of "The Nice Guys" novelization. 

Read Sean Tuohy's interview with Charles Ardai, author of "The Nice Guys" novelization. 

“The Arrival”

This sci-fi thriller penned by Writer’s Bone podcast guest Eric Heisserer was a stand out this year. If “Independence Day” is on the lowbrow end of the scale for “aliens invade Earth” movies, then “Arrival” is very much on the high end. Paced just right and filled with wonderful images, this film captured the spirit of modern sci-fi storytelling. The best part in this film was that the major action scene never happens. You never see a gun being fired, but you hear it. The film wisely doesn’t rely on action, but focuses all its attention on the characters.

Listen to Sean Tuohy's interview with "Arrival" screenwriter Eric Heisserer.

“Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them”

I left the theater smiling with joy after watching this film. Harry Potter was in my life, but I was not a mega fan like some (cough, Daniel Ford, cough). This movie captured the wounded and joy of the original Potter books. I definitely had a tear in my eye during one of the saddest moments at the end of the film.

“Midnight Special”

“Midnight Special” was the perfect mix of science fiction and noir. Shot in muted tones, grounded in the real world with characters that peel off the screen, “Midnight Special” was overlooked by filmgoers. The heart of the story—a father protecting his son—is heartwarming, but the action in the story is believable.

“Triple 9”

Crime legends Ross Macdonald and James Ellroy would be proud to see that their tradition of dark storytelling, featuring criminals and violence, continue on in this thrilling heist film. A group of bank robbers indebted to the mob must kill a cop—a triple 9 call—to pull off their next heist. Character-driven, dark, moody, this movie was sadly overlooked.

Why Shane Black’s Upcoming Neo-Noir ‘The Nice Guys’ Will Be A Masterpiece

By Sean Tuohy

Wild West gunplay, witty dialogue, a hard-boiled mystery good enough to make Raymond Chandler scratch his head, and Russell Crowe in bell-bottoms! These are just some of the things we have to look forward to look in script king Shane Black’s new film “The Nice Guys.” 

Set in 1970s Los Angeles, a down and out P.I. (Ryan Gosling) and an enforcer (Crowe) team up to find a missing woman who caught in the middle of a conspiracy. The Red Band trailer showcases Black’s poppy banter, cynic tough guys, and heart-pounding action. Penned back in 2003, “The Nice Guys” is a well-known script among script hounds and the project has gone through several changes (at one point it was planned to be filmed as a television show instead of a feature). However, we finally get to see the film on the big screen!

After watching the trailer 19 times in less than an hour and rereading the script at an equally feverish speed, it’s easy to see that “The Nice Guys” is going to become a masterpiece.

The Dialogue

Shane Black writes some of the best back and forth banter between characters. It’s lightning fast, but easy to keep up with (unlike Aaron Sorkin’s solid dialogue, Black’s never goes over the audience's head). The dialogue in a Black film, and this movie in particular it seems, is tough and spoken with a rough edge.

The Characters

The characters in “The Nice Guys” are broke, cynic, burnt out, and about ready to give up on life completely. However, they appear to have one good fight left in them.

Black’s characters are human; they are filled with fear and self-doubt but they are always able to pull off superhuman feats. Gosling’s P.I. is a troubled man who is awful at his job and has a daughter who doesn’t like him. Despite everything stacked against him, we want to root for him. Black tends to creates characters you should dislike but fall in love with in the end.

The Humor

Throughout the trailer viewers are treated to gruesome violent images, but we can’t help but laugh the whole time. Black performs an incredible balancing act between violence and humor that never feels forced or unnecessary.

The movie comes out May 20, 2016. 

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Not Coming Soon: The Top Unproduced Action Scripts Part 1

A big pile of scripts.

A big pile of scripts.

By Sean Tuohy

Hundreds and hundreds of movies scripts are written and then sold to studios and then never made. Somewhere in Hollywood there are stacks of unproduced scripts that have been sitting and collecting dust for years. Studios will buy the scripts, work on them for a while, maybe a producer or A-list actor signs on to be involved, and than for whatever reason it falls through. The way of Hollywood.

As you might have noticed, I am fan of action films. I love to watch and write action movies. The first script I found and read was Steven de Souza's copy of "Die Hard" when I was 14 years old. Since then I have spent many sleepless nights trolling message boards and search engines for copies of scripts. I love reading a new script. The joy of seeing "fade in" at the top of the page, followed up the scene heading, is indescribable.

During my years of searching I have come across several unproduced scripts that have never seen the light of day. After reading these five scripts, I felt cheated by Hollywood for not allowing these imaginative and original stories to be made in to movies!

Well, here is my chance to share them with you. Below are the top five unproduced action movies that Hollywood has sadly forgotten, but stay very much alive in my head.

"The Nice Guys" By Shane Black and Anthony Bagarozzi

Well-written screenplays and Shane Black go together like peanut butter and jelly. "The Nice Guy" is one of the funniest screenplays I have read. The script is filled with black humor, snappy dialog, and vile bad guys with happy trigger fingers. The noir story follows two men; a burnt out private detective and a fighter who try to solve a who-done-it in Los Angeles. Nothing is what it seems. While working the case, the pair get caught up in drug induced car chases, neighbor shoot outs, and hotel brawls. The script is written in crisp and to-the-point lines, the dialog flows smoothly, and nothing feels forced.

Will this ever see the light of day?  Maybe. Black left the scene for a good 10 years, but came back swinging with indie-hit "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" and the mega-hit "Iron Man 3" so it could get made as a small indie movie.

Note: This script was acted out at the 2012 Austin Film Festival and featured Thomas Jane. It was not recorded, but there are stills available.

"The Quick Killing" By Ken Nolan

Ken Nolan penned the 2001 war-drama "Black Hawk Down" and has done some punch up work in Hollywood, but this script made a name for him. A classic action movie that has deep roots to action films from the 1960s and 1970s, the script told the story of a reformed gangster trying to make some extra cash quickly. Nolan penned a great action script; everything was kept short, but the action scenes are big and over the top populated with tough guys of few words.

Will this ever see the light of day? Doubtful. Hollywood is no longer making shoot'em up action movies like this. They want massive CGI movies that have little character and just look cool. A movie like this does not fit in to the Hollywood mainstream.

"Hell Bent...And Back" by Doug Richardson

Doug Richardson

Doug Richardson

All screenwriting nerds know this script. It was known for making a big splash for being one of the biggest spec sales. It was never made, which is tragic because when you read the script you find yourself reading a love letter to the movies. This script was penned by fan boys who grew up loving movies and wanted to write the kind of movie they watched growing up and they pulled it off. The World War II action film is filled with cigar-chewing, wise-cracking good guys who know when to talk and when to shoot. You also have bad guys who drive around in tanks and are looking for trouble. Most of all, you have a great flow of story and character building throughout the whole story.

Will this ever see the light of day? Doubtful. Like so many well penned action scripts there is no place in the market for this kind of movie.

If you want to learn more about the true behind the scenes story of this movie go read "A Million Dollar View" written by screenwriter Doug Richardson. You should also check out Part 1 and Part 2 of our interview with him.

"Exit Zero" By Kurt Wimmer 

Kurt Wimmer is one of the few action writers who is able to blend outlandish and good story together. This 1990s action-techno story is "The Net" on blow. A computer nerd and a mentally ill woman are chased across the country by a computer that will bring down mankind. The ending twist is only something Wimmer could pull off without it making sound cheesy.

Will this ever see the light of day?  No. The fact that "Eagle Eye" was made and did really well doesn't help the cause. Both "Eagle Eye" and "Exit Zero" have similar story lines and I don't see Hollywood making a squeal to another Shia Labeouf movie any time soon.

"Godzilla" By Terry Rossio and Ted Elliot 

When they decided to make an American remake of monster king Godzilla, Rossie and Elliot ("Pirates of the Caribbean") were asked to create a story for the building-destroying lizard. The pair wrote a fantastic monster movie that would have been a great way to introduced Godzilla to American movie goers. Instead, the studio tossed the script and made the heap we all saw in 1998.  

Rossio and Elliot's script had a strong cast of characters, an larger than life idea that worked, and plenty of things getting blown up. Also, the sight gags in the script are knee slapping good.

Will this ever see the light of day?  Nope. After the previously mentioned 1998 version of "Godzilla" did not do well at all and ruined my weekend, Hollywood held off from making another movie. Now, they are taking another stab at "Godzilla" and it looks like they may pull it off. They have a great team behind the camera and in front of the camera, and it looks like they are actually going to try this time around. Pity, because I would have paid extra to see Rossi and Elliot's version.

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