Film & TV: July 2005 Archives

A couple of years ago, my friend Rob showed me a hysterical short film featuring the handful of guys who do every movie trailer voice over you've ever heard, all sitting around in the same car. Alas, Rob lost the tape, and I was never able to see it again.

Now, one man has put that short film online. Five Men And A Limo. See it--before it sees you.

Via Metafilter

A few months ago, I visited the set of the new feature-length Wallace and Gromit movie The Curse of the Were-Rabbit to direct a behind-the-scenes documentary short I directed for Moviefone. Nick Park is one of my personal writer/director gods, but I managed to keep my inner fanboy in check for the course of the set visit.

We ended up shooting enough footage for two shorts, and they're both now up at Moviefone. The first one is on the history of Ardman Animation and Wallace & Gromit in general, and the second is a behind-the-scenes look at The Curse of the Were-Wolf in particular. As you'd expect from a detailed behind-the-scenes look, there are some minor spoilers in the second one, although they're mainly limited to things like glimpses of new characters, and some hints about the plot. It gives away much less than, say, the film's trailer; the focus is on how the animators work, rather than what story they're telling.

Oh, and by the way: as part of the visit, I got to watch the first third or so of the film. It looks really, really, really good, but if you've seen any of the Wallace and Gromit shorts, you probably don't need me to tell you just how brilliant Nick Park and his crew are. (And if you haven't seen them--good God, man, go out and rent The Wrong Trousers and A Close Shave this instant. Both of them are about as perfect as films can be.)

Film Geek Test

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Some years ago, I came across one of the many variations of the famous Geek Test. Disappointed at my low score, I wrote my own version, on which I could score higher: the Film Geek Test. It's been sitting on my hard drive since I first posted it to Wordplayer, but recently, a friend sent me a link to the Geek Test, which has inspired me to dig this out, put it into HTML form, and post it. So, without further ado, it is with great pleasure that Yankee Fog presents the Semi-Unofficial Film Geek Test.

Unproduced Screenplays

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In response to a question about unproduced screenplays:

Every summer, Written By ((the WGA's magazine) does an annual issue on unproduced scripts and they put up a bunch of those scripts on the WGA's website. Try going to the site and doing a search for "unproduced". You'll turn up things like a comedy called No Contest which has been circulating for 30 years, attracting interest from (at various times) Barbra Streisand, Michelle Pfeiffer, Diane Keaton, Geena Davis, Sandra Bullock, Drew Barrymore, and Meg Ryan, without ever selling; a script about legendary silent movie character Fantomas coming out of retirement; a bunch of unproduced comedies, and a number of unproduced TV pilots, including one by Charlie Kaufman.

The 100 Best Screenplays

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The Writers' Guild of America is currently surveying its membership to determine the 100 Best Screenplays, as agreed upon by working screenwriters. The tricky thing is, as an individual member, I don't get to cast 100 votes--I only get 10.

After some reflection, here are the movies I ended up voting for:

Citizen Kane
High Noon
Lawrence of Arabia
Singin' In The Rain
Memento
The Bank Dick
Groundhog Day
Sunshine
Miracle of Morgan's Creek
North by Northwest

I left films like Star Wars, Chinatown, The Godfather, and Casablanca off the list because I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that they'll make the top 100 without my help, and I figured I'd save my votes for films that needed them--because (like Sunshine) they are underappreciate masterpieces, or (like Citizen Kane or Lawrence of Arabia) their direction is thought of so highly that the screenplays don't get the credit they deserve.

Other scripts that I could just as easily have put in my top 10 (and, in fact, if you had asked me on a different day, I might have):

Duck Soup
12 Angry Men
Magnolia
Mulhollland Drive
The Sixth Sense
Eve's Bayou
State & Main
On The Waterfront
The Lion in Winter
Manhattan
Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid
Some Like It Hot
Toy Story 2
Do The Right Thing
Raging Bull
...and probably a dozen others that I am going to think of at 3AM and hate myself for not including.

The other tricky part here is that, in a number of the above cases, I haven't sat down and read the script; I'm judging it purely by the finished movie. This is a risky business, I know. However, my general assumption is that if a film is bad, you can't assume the script was bad--but for a film to be great, all the elements, from script to direction to cast to editing, must be great as well.

I did restrict myself to English-language films, since I don't think it would be fair to judge foreign scripts based on their subtitles.