Saturday, December 20, 2014

by Janet J. Lawler
Revised Dec. 24th, 2014

There are so many good movies coming out Christmas week, but one that hasn't received a lot of buzz, but definitely should, is BIG EYES.  It stars Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz.  It's the riveting story about a married couple, artists Margaret & Walter Keane.  Margaret paints pictures of moppets with huge, charcoal eyes.  It's her passion. She's reserved and not very self-assured about her life (recently divorced with a young daughter) and she's especially insecure about her art.  Her second husband, Walter, comes into her life and sweeps her off her feet with tales about his stay in Paris where he painted street scenes and lived the starving artist's life in Europe.  He's cocky, sociable and believes in his wife's talent.  So far so good... 

When Margaret's paintings begin to catch eyes (pardon the pun) and pull in money, Walter sees a gold mine in the making.  His own work isn't selling.  So he tells his wife that people don't buy "lady art" and he should claim to be the creator of her popular paintings.  He charms the unsuspecting public (collecting $5,000 a pop for Margaret's paintings, but signing HIS name on them).  He also sells posters and postcards of the work.  It becomes one big eyes fraud bringing them wealth and luxury.
Tim Burton directs
It takes awhile for Margaret (played superbly by Amy Adams) to stand up for herself, locked away in their new California house painting, losing friends and her identity along the way, not to mention her self-respect. But when Margaret finally finds the strength to confront her conniving, domineering husband, sparks fly and the conflict over ownership of the works land them in court.

As they say, it's not the crime, it's the cover up that does people in.

Big Eyes has one of the best courtroom scenes. Christoph Waltz is both amusing and yet a lunatic.  It's hard not to like him, until you realize what he's capable of doing to hold on to his dream of being a "famous painter".  This is a biopic  It took ten years to come to the big screen, directed by Tim Burton (every frame of this movie is captivating and a canvas of beauty from framing to lighting to costumes).  Screenwriters Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski do a wonderful job of writing a tale about marriage and compromise in a dramatic, suspenseful and comical style.  The film is also beautifully shot with the colorfulness of San Francisco during the 50s and 60s.

Here is the trailer for the movie.


This North Korea/Sony Pictures hacking invasion is one of the biggest stories to come along in awhile.  It has the entire country riveted, the entertainment industry paralyzed in fear and causing Americans to wonder just how secure their privacy is at their own corporate jobs.

Should Sony have pulled The Interview from release?  Would North Korea go so far as to blow up a movie theater or kill moviegoers during Christmas week?  Some people don't think it's worth the risk to take and others think, as Americans, we don't back down to threats.  I agree with the ladder.  As a New Yorker, I lived through 9/11 firsthand and we didn't stop going to restaurants, walking down the street, shopping on Fifth Avenue or going to the World Series in New York City that horrible fall.  Hit us and we'll hit you back harder, but we never run scared.  Never have, never will.  Not in New York, not in America.  I get that Sony is afraid to have more lawsuits or problems (and public email disclosures), but if all of Hollywood and all the movie chains stood firm together, North Korea wouldn't have the upper hand.  It's not too late.

This is too serious.  We can't allow another country, a dictator, to tell us what we can see, hear or create.  This is America.  We may not all get along here, have the same political or religious views, but we do value freedom.  It's a cyber war and we've lost the first battle, but it's far from over.  Stay tuned in 2015.

UPDATE:  Sony is releasing The Interview in time for Christmas in theaters and on demand.  You can exercise your rights by watching it on YouTube, Google Play and other digital outlets starting today and Christmas Day.

Central Park in December
This is one of my favorite times of year living in New York.  The streets are full with tourists, the restaurants buzzing with company parties, couples taking horse and carriage rides through Central Park and Rockefeller Center welcoming skaters from around the world.  I'm headed to Ireland for New Year's Eve.  It's my first time traveling to Dublin and it's a dream come true to go to the land of my heritage.  I'll lift a pint and think of you all on New Year's Eve... until then, have a WONDERFUL, safe and healthy Christmas and holiday season!

See you in 2015.  It's going to be one of the best years ever!!
Happy Holidays.

Follow The NY Screenwriting Life on Facebook.  Janet J. Lawler is also a published author and playwright.  Her first novel From the Ground Up is available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble online.