screenwriters

My Favorite Movies of 2017

sean-tuohy-favorite-movies-2017.jpeg

By Sean Tuohy

2017 was a year based on a horror flick...where the orange villain wins.

As always, going to the movies is a great way to escape, and this year was filled with some fantastic films.

Feel free to share your favorites in the comments section or by tweeting us @WritersBone.


“It”

This Stephen King adaption has been in the works for years. The made-for-television movie is still loved by many, but this version was absolutely terrifying. “It” makes you fall in love with a group of outcast school children living in Maine during the early 1980s. Which is why when “The Losers Club” is put in harm’s way—something that happens a lot—you feel true fear for them. Also, there is a really creepy clown in this movie. Like, poop your pants scary.


“Wonder Woman”

This classic D.C. comic book heroine arrived on the big screen with a bang. “Wonder Woman is filled with an amazing cast, a solid plot, and a lead actress who played the Amazon warrior with the right mix of heart and toughness.


“Logan”

The final film to star Hugh Jackman as the claw-stabbing Wolverine, this film went for the R rating in a bad way. “Logan” (written by our literary friend Scott Frank) starts off with a bloody and corpse-coated opening scene, immediately alerting viewers that this is a dark and moody superhero movie. Pulling from classic westerns, “Logan” follows a dying and forgotten hero in search of some type of redemption. I won’t spoiler it here, but the film has one of the darkest and most heartbreaking scenes I’ve ever seen in a super hero movie…and I loved it.


“The Big Sick"

This modern romantic tale was inspired by a true story. Told with a big heart and heaps of truth, “The Big Sick” will make you cry and smile at the same time.


“Baby Driver”

Part musical, part crime story, this genre-bending film from “Hot Fuzz” director Edgar Wright is a must watch.


“Dunkirk”

Christopher Nolan returned to the big screen with this sweeping World War II epic. Nolan toyed with the typical war story (in classic Nolan fashion), which focused on the British defeat and desperate retreat at Dunkirk. The aerial footage in this film is breathtaking.


“Wind River”

The screenwriter of “Hell Or High Water” made his first outing as a director with this gritty crime drama and did an amazing job. Honest and brutal, “Wind River” follows a hunter who helps a young FBI agent investigate the murder of a young woman in Wyoming. This film will shake viewers to their core.


“The Florida Project”

Heartbreaking, but wildly fun at the same time. Director Sean Baker perfectly captures the world of a trouble-prone six-year-old girl living in a motel with her deadbeat mother.


“Jim & Andy”

This in depth look at the making “Man On The Moon” shows the viewers the commitment of actor Jim Carrey as he tried to bring his hero, Andy Kaufman, back to life.


“John Wick 2”

Stop rolling your eyes. When the trailer first came out for this film I shook my head in disbelief. But after watching this edge-of-your-seat action film I see why it gets so much love. “John Wick 2” takes a simple concept and builds a murky world filled with thieves, killers, and a code of ethics.


“Get Me Roger Stone”

It is hard to say Roger Stone’s name without vomiting or screaming in anger. This fantastic documentary examines the outspoken Trump supporter with in-depth interviews. A must watch if you want to understand the rise of Trump.


“Bushwick”

This gem flew under the radar. “Bushwick” is original, wild, and filled with some great steady cam work. A young woman trying to get home to Bushwick, N.Y. finds herself in the in middle of the next civil war. 


“Wheelman”

This crime drama from Netflix is an edge-of-your-seat thriller. It features smart nods to classic noir and bone-crushing car chase scenes.

Expression and Understanding Are At the Heart of 'The Journey'

By Danny DeGennaro

For as long as people have existed, differences have inspired violence. The semantics of warfare and how it straddles the lines between terrorism and necessary revolution are gently probed in “The Journey.”

Set in 2006, “The Journey” chronicles the penultimate attempt to reconcile the cavernous rift The Troubles created in Northern Ireland. Ian Paisley (Timothy Spall) and Martin McGuinness (Colm Meaney) agree to meet in an attempt to end the bloodshed permanently. Paisley and McGuinness are sworn mortal enemies: Paisley is the founder of the Free Presbyterian Church of Ulster, and McGuinness the former leader of the IRA. As the film puts it, the two “were forced by fate or circumstance to make an historic journey together.” Thus, the two set off on a drive to the Edinburgh airport.

Expression and understanding, or lack of understanding, are at the heart of the film. The lush, rolling backdrop underpins the tension between the two men and their attempts to come to grips with one another and themselves. McGuinness is initially the primary instigator and is most interested in striking up a deal that’ll manifest a peace between the two factions. Paisley is more unyielding, and steadfastly refuses any olive branches. Eventually, they begin to mine common ground. A chance encounter with a wounded deer introduces a newfound sense of humanity that neither man had considered about the other. They both riff on the way people from Northern Ireland add affirmatives to the end of sentences (“so they do”).

Spall and Meaney both turn in stunning performances that would become vaudevillian in the hands of lesser actors.

The film is resolutely neutral in its views of The Troubles—if all art is propaganda, then the primary agenda “The Journey” pushes is that of understanding. The film announces during the opening credits that the conversation “is imagined,” and it’s this precise poetic license within historical fact that allows the movie to venture into empathetic, surprising places. Spall and Meaney both turn in stunning performances that would become vaudevillian in the hands of lesser actors.

What the film is most interested in isn’t cause or justification, but reconciliation. Civil discourse has never been more vital to our collective well being as we enter into a post-Brexit world, where isolation and fear mongering are touted as patriotism and self regard. It’s an energizing and affirmative thing “The Journey” seeks to demonstrate. Change is inevitable. Progress is difficult. Our natural similarities far outstrip our constructed differences. Nothing can distill the awful machinations that make violence necessary, but “The Journey” can help us make sense of it.

Movies Archive

Nantucket and Eric Dane Anchor John Shea’s Romantic Thriller ‘Grey Lady’

grey-lady-movie-review.jpg

By Dave Pezza

The humble island of Nantucket is the true star of John Shea’s latest project “Grey Lady.” Shea—best known for his roles on “Lois & Clark: The New Adventure of Superman,” “Gossip Girl,” and “The Good Wife”—delivers a sturdy thriller that follows Boston detective Doyle, played by Eric Dane (“Grey’s Anatomy,” “The Last Ship”). Doyle retreats to Nantucket after the violent deaths of his sister and partner/lover at the hands of a serial killer that has pointed the crosshairs at everyone the monosyllabic cop loves. 

The island, though, stands out as a main character on its own. Shea forgets none of Nantucket’s gorgeous ocean vistas, quaint shoreline shacks, eerie fog, or beachfront storms. He uses the island’s best aspects to draw the audience into its insular community as Doyle returns to the place he cherished as a boy. The present-day Nantucket is marred in his eyes by the rogue investigation that has consumed his life, despite the good people he finds that want to help him both professionally and personally. Adrian Lester (“Primary Colors,” “The Day After Tomorrow,” “Hustle”) plays police officer Johnson, Doyle’s somewhat reluctant partner in crime, and Natalie Zea (“The Detour, “Justified”) skillfully inhabits the role of Melissa Reynolds, an alluring and enchanting local painter.

“Grey Lady” stays true to its genre. Packed with suspense between the island’s wide shots, Shea and his writing partner Armyan Bernstein touch upon mental illness, childhood drama, loss, alcoholism, family ties, and even managed to sprinkle in a little torture and cult-like ritualistic homicide. From start to finish, “Grey Lady” offers a dark ride that constantly leaves you not asking “who?” but “why?” 

With the exception of some awkwardly paced transitions, dissonant dialogue, and perhaps one plot twist too many, “Grey Lady” highlights Eric Dane’s formidable talent as an action/drama leading man, Natalie Zea’s uncanny range, and Shea’s masterful sense of suspense. Not to be undervalued are Chris Meyer’s haunting and remarkable performance of the gruesome and capable Perry Morrison, and the efforts of the beautiful and talented Carolyn Stotesbery, who plays Meyer’s shadowy and emotionally-damaged counterpart. All of these facets come to head in the film’s most accomplished scene: Doyle’s suspenseful game of cat and mouse with the murderer at a bed and breakfast as Melissa is held captive as bait.   

“Grey Lady” opens nationally on April 28 and is well worth a Friday night viewing for lovers of noir, a touch of poetry, and a dash of bittersweet romance.

Listen to our podcast interview with writer/director John Shea:

Paychecks: Famous Screenwriters Working On Lesser Pictures

By Sean Tuohy

All writers want to be artists. They want to be respected. They want to be loved by the public. That’s all great, but nothing beats paying the bills. Sometimes even the best artists have to work for a paycheck.

Screenwriters are well known for this. A screenwriter can win an Oscar on Sunday, and by Tuesday is working on “Failure To Launch 2: Lifting Off Harder.”

Sometimes you need to pay the rent by writing an awful movie!

Kenneth Lonergan

Oscar-nominated writer/director Kenneth Lonergan has an impressive resume of films under his belt. “You Can Count On Me,” “Gangs of New York,” and, 2016’s critical darling, “Manchester by The Sea.” He is one of the most beloved screenwriters because of his in-depth character studies.

Paycheck Script: “Fool’s Gold”

Remember when Matthew McConaughey was the “alight, alright, alright” guy and not “Oscar-winning actor” guy (okay, maybe they are the same person)? Back in those days, McConaughey paid the bills by showing up in every rom-com he could he find. The gold star—this will be funny in a second—being “Fool’s Gold.” A married couple gets a divorce but then finds gold. That’s the plot line. And, yes, Lonegan did an uncredited rewrite on the movie that features Kevin Hart saying “fakade” instead of “façade.”

Joss Whedon

Simply say Joss Whedon’s name and somewhere within a 26-mile radius a nerd gets a boner. The man is a storytelling treasure on both the big and small screens. He has written some of the greatest episodes of television (“Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” “Angel,” “Firefly”), and he assembled “The Avengers.”

The guy knows how to write.

Paycheck Script: “Waterworld”

Back in 1996, Kevin Costner was what we like to call a “bankable star.” During this time, he decided to make a film that took everything we love about “Road Warrior” and put it on water. Despite all the snickering, “Waterworld” was not a giant bomb. It actually made a profit, but it was panned by critics and, behind the scenes, it was considered a “hellish set.” Between actors almost drowning, a director abandoning the film, and the movie going over budget, it must have felt more like “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.” Whedon was called in at the last minute to work on rewrites. He famously called this time period “seven weeks of hell.”

John Patrick Shanley

John Patrick Shanley—“JPS” as the cool kids call him—is considered one of the greatest American playwrights. His plays have won respect and awards. In Hollywood, his’ scripts have been called “fantastic,” and his 2006 film “Doubt” won every award under the sun.

Paycheck Script: "Congo"

A talking gorilla.

“Congo” features a talking gorilla. I know that isn’t the whole plot, but for the life of me I don’t remember the actual plot. I know the film was based off of a Michael Crichton novel, and I know that Tim Curry is awesome in it (when is he not awesome?). Otherwise, this a movie filled with awful stereotypes and a talking gorilla with lackluster special effects (even for 1995). There’s also this exchange:

*Shit hitting the fan*
Ernie Hudson’s character: “What about them?
Laura Linney’s character: “Put them on the endangered species list.”

Oof.

Somehow listed among the credits, after gorilla handler but before craft services, is John Patrick Shanley as the screenwriter.

There is one upside to this train wreck of a film. The great Ernie Hudson has stated that his character is his personal favorite from his career.

Full Movies Archive

8 Movies That Should Be On Your Radar: February 2017

Much like our book series, "Movies That Should Be On Your Radar" aims to share indie darlings, worthy blockbusters, long forgotten gems, and rewatchable classics with aspiring screenwriters and authors alike. Feel free to share your own favorite flicks in the comments section, on our Facebook page, or by tweeting us @WritersBone.

“Dope”

Sean Tuohy: I finally got to see this movie and it was worth the wait. I’ve got a soft spot for coming-of-age stories, and “Dope” was one of the better ones I’ve seen recently. The film is charming, funny, and original in its storytelling and images. It follows a high school geek who worships 1990s hip-hop, plays in a punk band, and is trying to get into Harvard while also growing up in gang-riddled Los Angeles. Everything changes when he gets mixed up in a drug deal gone bad. The last 10 minutes had more heart sewn into it than most films I’ve seen during the past two years. Also, the soundtrack is awesome.

“The Monster”

Sean: I recently stumbled on to his horror film helmed by ‘The Strangers” director Bryan Bertino. This film has two parallel themes: part horror/part survival story and part character study. The horror storyline is basic: mother and daughter are trapped in a car while a monster stalks them. Nothing special. But the underlying narrative features an alcoholic and abusive mother dealing with her guilt. Zoe Kazan (daughter of former guest Nick Kazan) gives a heartbreaking performance as a woman struggling with her own demons while trying to raise her daughter. The horror storyline is interesting but it is the character study that really keeps you on the edge of your seat.

“Deep Web”

Sean: Directed by Alex Winters (of “Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure” fame) this sleek documentary follows the FBI investigation and downfall of the online black market website "Silk Road." Narrated by Keanu Reeves, (more “Bill and Ted” glory), the film moves at a breakneck speed without losing anything. Winters does a thoughtful job of quickly creating the world of the “deep web” and provides all the needed information the viewer needs while never hitting the breaks.

“20th Century Women”

Emili Vesilind: People are focusing on Annette Bening's incredible performance in this movie—and for sure it's amazing (her angry-uncomfortable face, among others, is heartbreaking!) But for me, the movie felt like a nuanced study and celebration of weird, fragile, everyday people. The characters and a relationships are fleshed out using every means possible—dialogue, music, set decoration, costuming. So you really feel like you stepped into a "scene" of sorts. The film also reminded me of "The Perks of Being A Wallflower" in that it explores how rock bands/clubs, music scenes and friends we sit around and do nothing with as teenagers can play a major role in who we become—and what we like—as adults. It definitely has its sad moments, so you don't leave feeling exactly buoyant, but it sticks like glue to your brain! Loved it.

“Under the Shadow”

Alexander Brown: A festival darling that never got a wide release, “Under the Shadow” was internationally co-produced between Qatar, Jordan, and the United Kingdom, and directed by an Iranian by the name of Babak Anvari. Set in 1980s Tehran, during one of many Iran/Iraq conflicts, it somehow seamlessly tells a ghost story that also focuses on the horrors of war, depression, and gender politics—all without being heavy-handed or taking away from the scares. I have no idea how they pulled it off. Also the lead actress liked my tweet review, so we're pretty much pals now.

“Kubo and the Two Strings”

Mike Nelson: It’s Oscar season, so I’m ripping through every nominee I can get to over the next few weeks. I see any spare time as potential to check something off the list, which is a totally fun, unnecessary emergency situation I’ve created for myself to continually deflect the opportunity to separate happiness from achievements.

Now that I got you all riled up with that intro (“Man, would love to hang out with this guy!”), let’s talk movies. Let’s talk animated movies. Let’s talk Kubo. “Kubo and the Two Strings” is not my pick for “Best Animated Feature” (that goes to “Moana”...handily), but it would be my pick for “Most Entrancing Animated Feature.” The story is pretty unique in itself, taking some unexpected turns and (no spoilers here) incorporating magic to create visual opportunities you just don’t typically get. Plus, you get tons of action and A-list actors…ummm...speaking. So that’s pretty sick.

If you want something a little different from the cookie-cutter animated film, and you’re looking for whatever the animation equivalent of “food porn” is (I can’t call it “animation porn,” and I can’t call it “eye porn,” so if you have a better way of saying this, please, god, help me…“feast for the eyes,” got it, my bad here), this is a great way to spend 102 minutes.

“Hell or High Water”

Daniel Ford: I made the mistake of watching "Hell or High Water" right before I went to bed one night. My heart rate quickened almost instantly, and it kept pumping long after the shotguns and rifles cooled. The premise of this film is Elmore Leonard-level simple. Two brothers systematically rob a West Texas bank chain to...pay back the same bank chain to keep their family's land. Jeff Bridges plays the crusty lawman hot on their trail.

If that's all the movie had been, I probably would have loved it just the same. However, to the filmmaker's credit, "High or High Water" features subtle and biting commentary about those struggling to make ends meet in today's economy, gun control laws, crime, punishment, family, and our current political climate. Bridges and Ben Foster play their roles beautifully, but Chris Pine is the real standout here. He can be typecast in "standard Hollywood white guy" roles, but he absolutely shines as a conflicted and desperate family man. It's no surprise that this film was nominated for an Oscar for Best Picture. One of the best movies I saw in 2016. 

Manchester by the Sea

Adam Vitcavage: The logline for “Manchester by the Sea” sounds like the type of film a film student who takes himself or herself too seriously would want to make. “A mopey man battles his inner demons while juggling family obligations and a haunting past.” Okay, that’s not really the logline, but it's close enough. It would have been easy to take the idea of this film and make something that falls shorts. However, this film transcends a simple idea and produces one of the best films of not only this year, but of this millennium.

Kenneth Lonergan’s film is a nuanced look into heart wrenching moments of actions and reactions that unfold slowly over the course of the film. It would have been easy for the writer/director to fill the drama with a melodramatic score underlying long, drawn out artsy shots. The film could have easily been a realistic mumblecore affair for the millennial generation. But that isn’t what this filmmaker does. He provides a keen eye for beautiful shots that don’t stand out. It isn’t the type of film that has one breathtaking shot that will be memorable because it seemed different than the rest of the film; instead, Lonergan chose to subtly film the beauty of his subjects.

Everything hinges on the performance from star Casey Affleck. Lonergan creates a subtle, slow-paced study into Affleck’s Lee Chandler. What happened to him prior to the film and what happens during it is heart wrenching. There’s no other way to put it. [I’m going to leave the plot as much as a mystery, because that’s how I went into the film, and feel that it allows for the punches to hit harder that way.] Everything that Lee does is on the fringe of reasonable, but there is that slimmer of understanding that Affleck performs with that allows viewers to step into this character’s mind. He is a wreck, and by the end of the two hours watching him, you will be, too.

It would be a mistake to overlook the other performances in this film. Luckily, no one has made that mistake. Both Michelle Williams and slight newcomer Lucas Hedges round out a terrific core to bring Lonergan’s film to life. Because of the nature of the film, they will obviously take a back seat to many of the accolades being thrown at Affleck, but the film may not have worked without them.

Full Movies Archive

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.

Thank Tower Records and New York City for ‘Seven’

By Sean Tuohy

Remember record stores? Those big retail shops filled with CDs, DVDs, and the occasional poster of celebrities smoking pot? Well, if it weren’t for a disgruntled record store employee and the horrors of living in the Big Apple the world would have never gotten “Seven.”

Now considered one of the best American crime dramas of the past 30 years, “Seven” tells the twisted tale of a serial killer that murders based on the seven deadly sins. On the surface, it’s a straightforward whodunit. However, lingering under the thrilling plot is the dark story about how living in a city can slowly kill someone.

Screenwriter Andrew Kevin Walker was living in New York City trying to be a screenwriter while working in a record store. (By the way, how is that not a sitcom?!?!) In between walking around the soul-crushing city and going to his mindless job, Walker began to write a screenplay that reflected how he felt.

We ended up getting a film featuring a sociopath who makes an obese person eat himself to death.

Thanks, New York!

FULL MOVIES ARCHIVE

How A Loaded Gun Motivated Screenwriter Paul Schrader To Write ‘Taxi Driver’

By Sean Tuohy

It’s pretty easy to tell from watching “Taxi Driver” that the person behind it wasn’t in the best mindset. Screenwriter Paul Schrader has become one of Hollywood’s most interesting filmmakers, but before the fame he was a broke, homeless, and suicidal writer.

During the 1970s, Schrader was going through somewhat of a rough patch. His girlfriend dumped him, he had no money, nowhere to life, and no career to speak of. Schrader spent his evenings driving around the city, thinking, and occasionally breaking into his ex’s house when she wasn’t around. 

Schrader wanted to share how he felt so he wrote a screenplay (this was pre-Twitter; a much simpler time).

Schrader needed to stay motivated so he hung up a poster of a cat hanging on a wire that said ‘Hang in there, baby” and then started working.

Just kidding, only Daniel Ford does that. No, Schrader came up a more…creative way to stay motivated. He left a loaded handgun on the table. Nothing says, “Stay at it,” like a .45 threatening you.

But it worked. Schrader finished the script in 10 days and then went on to have an incredible career (until he made “The Canyons”).

Full Movies Archive

Robbing Uncle Sam: How 'Die Hard With A Vengeance' Hit A Little Too Close to Home

By Sean Tuohy

One New York City cop must stop a bunch of machine gun-toting terrorists from robbing The Federal Reserve Bank of New York by using bombs and the subway system. Completely unbelievable. Would never happen. Could not happen.

Wait, what? Maybe it could…?

The third installment of the long-running action franchise “Die Hard” was one of the best. Following our hero John McClane as he tries to stop the brother of Hans Gruber—the guy who fell out of a window in the first one—as he tries to rob the New York Federal Reserve by bombing a subway stop and then using trucks to drive through water tunnels. 

Screenwriter Jonathan Hensleigh states in the audio community for the film that while writing the script he wanted to find out how to actually rob one of the world's most important banks. The best way to do that? Probably plan a daring heist for months, right? Nope. Just walk in and ask for a tour. Yes, the building that holds the most amount of gold in the United States allowed a screenwriter to walk into the vault, let him hold a gold bar, and even told him that the nearby subway messes with security system all the time. We assume afterwards they told him where they hid the spare key (Spoiler alert: it’s under the fake rock out front).

Later, while Hensleigh was trying to figure out how to get the gold out of the city, he read that a new water duct tunnel was being built. Perfect. He added that to the finished script and turned it in.

At this point, the FBI was able to read said script with all the spare time they must have. They discovered a huge problem… All of it was possible! While writing an action movie, Hensleigh had created a very plausible plan to rob Uncle Sam. FBI agents eventually showed up at the studio’s office and started asking questions. “Die Hard With A Vengeance” was allowed to move forward but only after major changes were implemented at the Federal Reserve.

The spare key has since been moved to a secret location (it’s now under the plastic frog).

Full Movies Archive

3 Directors Who Should Have Stayed in Front of the Camera

By Sean Tuohy

Sometimes something sounds like a good idea but it ends up being awful. For example, peanut butter and jelly mixed together in one jar or actors who think they should be directors.

Yes, sometimes it works out. Ben Affleck, Tom Hanks, and Jodie Foster have all pulled it off successfully.

However, as the 2016 Golden Globes taught us last night, it is way better to make fun of famous people screwing up than talking about how wonderful they are.

Here are a fewer actors/directors who didn’t quite make the grade:

The Fonz Directs “A Cop and A Half”

What happens when has-been actor Burt Reynolds and nice guy Henry Winkler walk into a bar?

A god-awful movie is born.

“A Cop and a Half” is a heartwarming story about a police-obsessed boy who witnesses a murder and then teams up with the city's most badass cop to save the day.

Yes, the guy who popularized, “Ayyyyy”, brought you this film!

“Why is the Fonz directing?!?!?!” Why was that not the first question that was asked by the studio head? Let’s hope he is no longer employed and that the studio went bankrupt.

The Artist Who Did It All for the Nookie Makes an Art Film

If your most well known song features you screaming about how you do everything just to get laid, why not direct a coming-of-age film that seven people will see.

This really happened. Fred Durst, the backwards hat-wearing lead singer of Limp Bizkit, directed a film in 2007 called “The Education of Charlie Banks.” Critics called the movie “uneven,” which is a nice way to say that it sucks.

However, I have to be honest…the film isn’t all that bad. The story isn’t awful. The characters are okay. It is nothing special but…it is watchable. 

They Call Me…The Guy Who Directed ‘Ghost Dad!’

Sidney Poitier is one of the most respected actors of his generation. He’s well spoken, charming, and could do no wrong on screen…

….that is until he decided to team up with Bill Cosby and make a family friendly movie about parents dying.

The 1990s were a simpler time, folks. Cosby starred in a film in which he died and came back as a ghost who helped his children. The person who directed this corpse of a film? Sidney “I Electrified Audiences in ‘In The Heat of The Night’” Poitier.

This film was so bad that is ruined Poitier’s career as a director. It is his last directing credit. He had directed eight other movies before this one in the ‘70s and ‘80s, so he had some chops coming into this film.

The fact that this movie wasn’t a hit is a shame because I wanted to see the sequel “Ghost Dad 2: Tropical Funeral. “

(Also, to be fair, this movie is the least offensive thing Bill Cosby did during the 1990s. Allegedly.)

Full Movies Archive

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. 

Full Movies Archive

The Top 5 Films of 2015

By Sean Tuohy

Editor’s note: Sean’s 2014 list was an eclectic mix of Oscar winners and pleasure rides, and this year is no different. The man knows movies better than anyone and picked some great ones from 2015. I’m just thankful “Terminator Genisys” didn’t make the list. It was a close call everyone, but we dodged it!—Daniel Ford

“Top Five”

Chris Rock wrote, produced, and directed this perfectly well balanced comedy that fell under radar. The stand-up comic vet blended together humor, heart, and well-rounded characters. The film follows a flawed comedian during one day as a reporter questions him about his craft (as well as his love life). Brutally honest, but charming and loving, Rock’s “Top Five” offers a candid look into the mind of a comedian and what it means to be funny.

“Ex Machina”

Alex Garland, the writer of “28 Days Later” and “Sunshine,” took his first shot at directing and created one of the most original and creepy sci-fi films in the last 20 years. A young computer programmer wins the chance to work with one of the wealthiest and smartest computer designers but discovers that he’s been pulled into an unnatural experiment with A.I. The imagery alone is jaw dropping, borrowing from Kubrick’s “The Shining” and "2001: A Space Odyssey." With one foot resting in reality and the other stepping into the realm of possibility, this film will keep you awake long after you finish watching.

“Spotlight”

Based on the true story of The Boston Globe’s investigation team’s uncovering of the Catholic Church’s sex scandal, “Spotlight” offers a look into the not-too-distant past. With Michael Keaton delivering a strong lead performance and a stellar Mark Ruffalo backing him, it is nearly impossible to pull your eyes away from the screen.

“The Martian”

Author Andy Weir’s surprise hit novel about a witty astronaut left behind on Mars had readers falling in love across the globe, but when directing god Ridley Scott brought it to the bring screen this year the whole world jumped on board. Even President Obama said it was one of the best films of the year! With Matt Damon playing the cheerful and resourceful Mark Watney, the film showcased the best of Hollywood filmmaking: remarkable sets, strong performances, and a well-written story. You could not ask for anything more.

“Mad Max: Fury Road”

Nearly 30 years after bringing us to the wastelands to fight for gasoline, Aussie filmmaker George Miller brought us back and holy mother god were we thrilled to return. Simple, gritty, and turbo-charged, the fourth “Mad Max” film was a crowd-pleasing monster. This is not a film you’ll spend a lot of time talking about because you’ll be busy re-watching…re-watching…and re-watching it.

Full Movies Archive

4 More Movies To Watch Before 2014 Ends

By Stephanie Schaefer

Sean Tuohy inspired me to share my favorite films of 2014, and one I wish I never watched...

“Boyhood”

Hands down, Richard Linklater’s film takes the gold medal, not only because of its brilliant direction, but also because of the raw and real dialogue coming from the mouths of actors like Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette. Filmed throughout the course of 12 years, the story follows Mason (Ellar Coltrane) morphing from a shy child to an angsty teenager to a college freshman dealing with life’s hurdles. The coming-of-age film is one-of-a-kind, and I’m hoping to see it pick up some hardware during this year’s award season.

“Begin Again”

What do you get when you pair soft-spoken Kiera Knightly, scruffy Mark Ruffalo, hipster Adam Levine and the New York City skyline? The charming rom-com “Begin Again.” The indie film quietly stole my heart with its hopeful themes and poetic soundtrack. Plus, I love that Levine didn’t take a penny for acting in the low-budget flick.

“Gone Girl”

I’ll admit that I never actually read the book, but did see the movie on opening night. I was intrigued by all the hype of the film, and it didn’t disappoint. Although I’m usually not one to enjoy thrillers, it certainly kept my attention throughout. I personally believe that it was one of Ben Affleck’s most well-acted movies to date (even though I blinked and missed his “nude” scene), and Rosamund Pike gave a hauntingly good performance. The plot may have had a few holes, but if you’re one of the five Americans who haven’t seen it yet, I recommend watching.

“22 Jump Street”

Although this film probably won’t win any Oscars, I’m adding it to my list because defied all odds by

1. Being a good sequel (the list of good sequels is short). 

2. Being a comedy that actually makes you laugh.

Let’s face it, comedies these days tend to be lackluster, but not when Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill are paired up. I laughed out loud numerous times in the theater, and have the Writer’s Bone crew Daniel Ford, Sean Tuohy, and Rachel Tyner as witnesses.

Bonus: The Worst Movie of 2014

I’ve walked out of the theater about three times in my lifetime, and one happened this year. Actually, I think I stormed out. When I hear the words, “That Awkward Moment,” the first thing that comes to my mind is misogynistic piece of crap. It may be too late for Zac Efron, but I hope that Miles Teller and Michael B. Jordan pretend that movie never happened, and go on to show us their full potential in 2015 (à la “Whiplash” and “Fruitvale Station”).

Full Movies Archive

My 5 Favorite Films From 2014

By Sean Tuohy

Sadly, I missed a lot of movies this year. There were so many great films that I wanted to see and so many truly awful movies I wish I hadn't seen.

Despite all that, here are my top five films of 2014:

“Birdman”

I left the theater smiling ear to ear. This film was truly amazing and did not miss a beat. The juggernaut performances were moving, the writing was crisp, and it felt like the film was shot in long take. It’s easily one of the best written films of the year. It deserves all the praise it has received, plus much more.

“Guardians of the Galaxy”

I am not a huge fan of comic movies because I was a movie fan long before I was a comic fan. I love watching movies, but lately the theaters bombard moviegoers with nearly identical films featuring men and women in tights. Expect for “Guardians of the Galaxy.” This flick brought fun back to the movie world. It was funny, action-packed, had a good storyline, and produced a wonderful world to visit. It felt more like a true action/sci-fi movie than a comic book movie. James Gunn (“Slither” and “Dawn of the Dead”) crushed it.

“The Imitation Game”

A British movie about World War II? Boring. Oh wait, you have a fantastic performer in a bittersweet? I’m back in! Benedict Cumberbatch hits a homerun in this true-life movie about Britain breaking the Nazi’s Enigma code. The film follows genius Alan Turing (who designed one of the first computers and was punished later in life for being gay) and his code breaking team. It’s a truly well-made movie audiences should love.

“Chef”

This was the small movie with a big punch. Funny, charming, sweet, and heartfelt, this film follows an artist/chef embarking on a new path in life.

“Tusk”

Wow, this movie is…well…it’s dark, but wildly original. Only Kevin Smith (badass writer, host of “Smodcast,” director of “Clerks,” “Mallrats,” and “Chasing Amy”) could bring you a tale as twisted and funny as this. “Tusk” follows a young man held by a madmen who slowly transforms him into a walrus. You’ve never seen a scene like the last 10 minutes of this movie, and you never will again. 

Full Movies Archive

Why Sony Should Not Have Pulled ‘The Interview’

By Sean Tuohy

Apparently, Sony had a gun cocked and pointed at its head. The gunman was a cold-hearted mastermind…actually, it was (allegedly) a country that can't even feed its own people. 

On Dec. 17, Sony decided to pull the upcoming comedy film "The Interview,” which stars Seth Rogen and James Franco, because of safety concerns. The film tells the story of two American television hosts headed to North Korea for an interview who are recruited by the CIA to assassinate the hermit country’s leader Kim Jong-un.  Hackers, who U.S. officials have identified as originating from North Korea, leaked footage of the film and threatened anyone who saw it. As of now, Sony will not show the film at all: no theaters, no VOD, no DVD.

It’s understandable that the studio is concerned about filmgoers’ safety. Potential harm to movie fans was too great a risk to take on what appears to be a slapstick/stoner comedy. However, this threat appears to come from North Korea, a nation that we really know nothing about. What we do know is that the country's citizens live under the iron grip of an overweight guy who may or may not have fed his uncle to angry dogs.   

Sony should have called the bluff.

I’m not dismissing the fact that North Korea could have a lot more power than we think. I understand it’s a nation with resources and means and likes to test nuclear weapons for fun, however, it is also a country that didn’t let its male citizens enjoy The Fappening.  

The ripple effect of giving in to terrorists, who may or may not be sitting in their mother’s basement right now blogging about potential Oscar snubs, is going to be felt for years to come. Studio heads are going to be extra careful when greenlighting a project, which means worthy scripts will be passed up for being “too risky” or having the potential to “upset someone.”  It’s already hard enough to get a film made in today and age, but now it is going to be even more difficult.  When a group of people doesn't want something shown, they are going to hold Hollywood hostage. 

"The Interview" is a Hollywood comedy, and it should be treated that way.

Full Movies Archive

The Top 4 Reasons Why Narc Is A True American Classic

By Sean Tuohy

This week, "Gone Girl" will be hitting theaters across the country. The film, based off the best-selling novel written by Gillian Flynn, is being set up as the next American classic. Great cast, great source material, and a great director behind the camera all should add up to a great flick.

"Narc" is another classic that was sadly over looked. Filmed on a shoestring budget by a director that had only one other film under his belt (a self-financed action thriller that never saw the light of day), "Narc" hit the American landscape in 2002 and was praised for its gritty style and teeth-shattering truth. The film follows two Detroit detectives, both with shady pasts, as they try to solve the murder of an undercover cop. Since then, Joe Carnahan has gone on to become one of Hollywood's most sought after directors. The fact that "Narc" is an afterthought is awful because the movie is incredible. From the opening scene, it hits every beat just right and keeps you pulled in. The writing is strong, the characters are layered, and the scenes well shot.

With that in mind, here are the four best scenes that showcase why "Narc" is a true American classic.

1. Opening Scene

Holy. Mother. Of. God. That opening scene grabs you like a coked out Brazilian boxer and pulls you in for a ride. A tweaked out undercover cop chases a junkie through the city and into the park. The junkie is stabbing people. The cop is out of breath and barely able to keep up. There's no underlying soundtrack either. Just the sound of cop's heavy panting. Then the scene sends with a dead junkie, a bleeding mother, and a cop crying.

Jeez!

2. Ray Liotta

We love Ray from "Goodfellas," where he was the loveable gangster with some awful friends. He was far from loveable as Detective Oaks in this movie. Liotta took the inner city cop with a short temper to a another level. For one thing, he is massive (he ate Chinese food before takes to look more puffy) and scary. One stare from this guy makes you find another pair of underwear. You are never sure what is going to make him snap. The scene below showcases his talent. The fact that Liotta didn't get an Oscar for this one scene is awful.

3. The Ruiz Scene

This scene had to been taken from a lost episode of "Cops" because it bleeds crazy reality. While searching for leads the two cops stumble open a crackhead who has recently set his girlfriend's head on fire because she has given an STD. Standing in a room without pants dealing with withdrawals, the crackhead promises to give the cops info as long as he can get high one last time.

What the hell?! You never scene like that in a movie. Ever!

John Ortiz gives a stellar cameo as the crackhead Ruiz. It was so good that until I saw Miami Vice several years later I thought he was a real crackhead.

4. The Bathroom Scene

Jason Patric's character, Nick Tellis, does not have an easy journey in this film. A cop with a former drug problem who wants to be a good family man and work at a desk gets dragged back into the streets and finds his addiction for police work puts his family life at risk. As Tellis falls deeper into the hole that is police work, his wife, who painfully watched him go through rehab, pulls away.

It reaches a boiling after Tellis is shot and refuses to give up on his case. His wife, child in hand, pleads for his husband to his job to be with her. He says no. His wife leaves.

Holy crap is this heart breaking. Try not to cry as you watch his woman plead with her husband.

Full Movies Archive

Not Coming Soon: The Top Unproduced Action Scripts Part 3

By Sean Tuohy

We're happy to see that you've all returned to Part 3 of our ongoing series "The Top Unproduced Action Scripts." If you're just joining us, you might want to catch up with Parts 1 and 2.

Let's not waste any time here, folks. Below are five more scripts that were written by some talented souls, but for one reason or another Hollywood decided not to make them into a movie. What a shame.

Let the show begin!

"Apogee" by Andrew W. Marlowe

There have been a lot of "Die Hard"-like movies over the years, but Marlowe's script set in space is one of the most original. Who wouldn't want to see "Die Hard In Space?" As over-the-top as that plot line sounds, Marlowe keeps the story grounded and keeps you turning the page in this well-paced script. The bad guys have ice water pumping through their veins and they are armed with microwave guns. Yeah, that's a thing. The good guy is a damaged soul trying to set things right in his life while saving the world at the same time. Throw in some zero gravity fight scenes above the Earth and you've got a great action movie.

Will this ever see the light of day?  I hope, but a movie like this cannot be done as a straight to DVD movie. It has to be a summer blockbuster. A movie like this is meant to be watched for thrills and chills while wolfing down popcorn and sipping ice cold cola. In a world where one-off movies are dying(or already dead) I don't know if a movie like this would be considered by Hollywood executives. However, put in the right hands of the right filmmaker, this movie would be stellar. Oh, and since it is set in space Ed Harris has to be in it as the head of  NASA mission control.

"True Believers" by Doug Richardson

FrontCoverThumbnail2.jpg

This is Mr. Richardson's second appearance on our list. Hats off to him.

As you all know here at Writer's Bone, we are big fans of Doug Richardson as both a screenwriter and novelist. The story behind True Believers is almost as interesting as the story itself. It started life as a thriller novel—one that kept me up at night and made me miss my bus stop more than once—before Richardson turned it into a screenplay. The screenplay is tight, fast-paced, and filled with strong, well developed, and sinister female characters that leap from the page. You are pulled into a dark world filled with evil souls from the opening paragraph of the screenplay. I highly recommend reading the book before you pick up the script because it provides you a chance to see a writer approach his craft in two different ways.

True Believers the novel is filled with multiple characters' point of views, settings from coast to coast, and intriguing subplots. Most of those elements are removed from the screenplay, but the core of the story stays intact.

Will this ever see the light of day?  Well, they already tried once and you can read what happen at Richardson's blog about the mess that it became. I hope that a director picks this up and does it right if given the chance. The lead role of Will Sullivan would be a great part for a young, up-and-coming male actor and the  mischievous character of Izzy has to be filled by a drop dead looker with an evil twinkle in her eye.

"Gunslinger" by John Hlavin

Westerns are dead for the most part in Hollywood, but every once in a while a gifted writer comes along with a new spin on the genre. That's the case with "Gunslinger." This action script tells the tale of a Texas Ranger pulled into a bloody war with drug cartels. The main character is a man of few words who goes through hell during the end of the second act to beat the bad guys. The script is not long, but carries one hell of a punch. This fast read is one of the best westerns I have read in a long time.

Will this ever see the light of day?  I hope, but I have a feeling that Hollywood may take this and turn it in to a low budget straight to DVD kind of movie. They may put in a second tier action actor and take out a lot of the character building moments and replace them with bland action scenes.

"Killing Pablo" by Joe Carnahan

I love Joe Carnahan! "Narc" is on my top five favorite films of all time and top ten scripts of all time. Carnahan is an incredible writer and, when given the chance, writes fantastic dialog. I was thrilled to hear he was going to tackle the international best selling story about drug kingpin Pablo Escobar.  Carnahan did a great job of taking tons of facts and many characters, most of them Spanish speakers, and fitting them into a great script.

Will this ever see the light of day?  Carnahan left this project so I am not sure if it'll ever get made. If Carnahan had stayed involved we would have seen an epic crime drama. Carnahan has a talent for putting real characters in very violent worlds and making you root for them. This is a story we all know—well a powerful crime lord hunted down by law enforcement—but the story of Pablo Escober is legend status and needs to be captured on film.

"Uprising" By David Twohy

David Twohy knows how to write fast-paced sci-fi thrillers with a great human element and "Uprising" is no different. Starting with a bang that you can only find in sci-fi, "Uprising" combines  "The Great Escape" with "Independence Day." The story follows a group of soldiers held in a POW after an alien race invades Earth and the captured troops must find a way to break out of the alien prison.

Will this ever see the light of day? It looks like it may get made, but I am not sure by which studio. Twohy goes into the history of the alien race, giving them a little more backstory than your normal alien invasion movie. This could be a summer blockbuster with big cast of well-known older actors mixed with young newcomers and some great special effects thrown in. That's a recipe for a great movie.

Full Movies Archive