Friday, March 26, 2010


I went to see When You're Strange last night at a screening here in Manhattan.  It's a feature documentary about the rock band The DoorsJohnny Depp narrates it.  Using only original footage shot between 1966 and 1971, director/writer Tom DiCillo gives us an inside look at the rise and fall of The Doors and its iconic lead singer Jim Morrison.

Morrison was clearly seduced by fame and also pushed it away.  At times on film, he appears the shy poet and then an attention-craving loon. Morrison is absolutely mesmerizing to watch perform.  This documentary puts its finger on the pulse of the times during the 1960s and early 1970s, when America was dealing with assassinations, the youth rebellion, the Vietnam War and drug culture.

When You're Strange is more than your typical biopic about a rock band.  Thankfully, there are no talking heads or cheesy dramatizations.  We see with our own eyes on raw footage when Jim Morrison is too drunk or high to perform and his band kills time playing their hearts out for the audience, while Morrison writhes around on the stage floor in an LSD stupor.  Then he's pulled up, as if by some outside force, and leaps to his feet and manages to join in again. 

The film gives much-deserved attention to the other three members of The Doors (Ray Manzarek, Robby Krieger and John Densmore).  Jim Morrison had the magic and sex appeal with his voice, good-looks and leather pants... but it was his guitarist Robby Krieger who wrote the #1 song "Light My Fire".  His keyboardist Ray Manzarek offered the intoxicating sounds and drummer John Densmore was equally dynamic giving The Doors their unique sound.

The Doors produced six albums and countless provocative live performances. 

Jim Morrison died in Paris in 1971 at the age of 27.  

If you love rock music and The Doors, don't miss this doc.  It opens April 9th.  Here's the trailer.

Until next time.

Friday, March 19, 2010


That's the working title of my new screenplay.  I haven't officially started to write it yet.  It's at the gestation stage.  I'm seeing the movie play out in my head, making a rough outline of key scenes and developments, picking names for the characters and music to reflect the time period (present and early 1990s).  I'm gearing up to write a first draft by summer when I can't keep the movie in my head anymore and it's ready to commit to paper.

Have you ever had a story basically tap you on the shoulder and say "write me".  In this case, it feels like that.  It's a story that started coming to me in drips and drabs over the past few years, especially whenever I drove through a small town.  It's one of those stories where you can't move forward unless you visit the past.  A story about redemption -- like in the tone of The Wrestler.

What is your favorite movie about redemption?  Where a character returns to pay for his sins?  Can you think of any?  Where a character starts out bad in the story and evolves to become a better human being?

Look at the news lately -- wow -- talk about redemption.  What is going on with people?  Every day it's another person falling into disgrace and public humiliation?  Human nature doesn't seem so pretty in the press lately.  Someone referred to the news the other day as Cheat TV.

I love stories about second chances (although some of these athletes, celebrities and politicians don't deserve it) but we're all capable of letting people down... it's how you get back up and correct the situation (if you can).  Flaws.  Redemption.  Forgiveness.  Hope. 

Great mix for a screenplay. 

PS -- If you know of a terrific redemption movie, e-mail me your pick.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010


The 82nd Annual Academy Awards are only a few days away now!

I love this broadcast every year no matter how dragged out it is, it's a must-see.  It's like my Super Bowl.  Friends invite me to Oscar parties, but I usually decline.  It's more fun to watch the show at home, in sweats, surrounded by snacks and all the comforts of home.  Besides, I really like to actually watch the show and that's hard to do at a big party. 

As you probably know, The Barbara Walter's Oscar Special will end this year on ABC.  The new "Oprah Winfrey Oscar Special" looks terrific though.  The format is more conversational than interview.  It has the stars interviewing each other (Penelope Cruz and Halle Barry) and appears more energized compared to the traditional BW Special.  But I've loved all the specials that Miss Walters delivered to us over the past 29 years! Who could ever forget her doing the tango with Al Pacino?  Bravo, Miss Walters, you're Oscar Specials thrilled this movie-lover growing up.

I'm reading the screenplay for "An Education" by Nick Hornby.  It's excellent.  So well-written and lean. The characters are defined immediately on the page with little dialogue.  The main character is Jenny, a seventeen year old London girl (played wonderfully by Carey Mulligan), who falls in love with an older, exotic man.  The movie is  compelling and shows how we tend to project our wants onto people blindly.

"An Education" is nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay, along with District 9, In the Loop, Precious and Up in the Air.  Hard to pick a winner from that group.  I'm torn between Precious and An Education -- both scripts focus on young girls finding education as a means to transform themselves. 

The five original screenplays nominated for Oscars this year are: The Hurt Locker, Inglorious Basterds, The Messenger, A Serious Man, Disney/Pixar's Up.  I haven't read them all or have even seen them all yet, but I'm leaning toward Inglorious Basterds as the best pick.  The movie was better than I expected and a Quentin Tarantino script is always an original ride. 

There you have it.  So, will you watch the Oscars this Sunday at a party or from home?  Either way, I hope you enjoy the show.  Plan to be tired come Monday morning with a bad speech hangover.  I look forward to it.

Until next time.