Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Screenwriters Showcase + Discount

We would like to offer your readers a discount admission price of $125 (reg $149) good until Jan 31st for admission to our Scriptwriters Showcase.

For more info on the event, featuring only working screenwriters as panelists, please visit:

Scriptwriters Showcase: Learn From Those Who Write

April 7 - 9, 2005

Universal Studios Sheraton

Final Draft and scr(i)pt magazine present a one-of-a-kind scriptwriting and creative development industry conference, marketplace and job fair. Panels featuring A-list screenwriters, agents, managers, producers and development executives will examine the craft and business of scriptwriting for film, television and interactive media. Don’t miss this unprecedented opportunity to learn from the professionals who drive the entertainment industry.

Join us at Universal Studios in the heart of the entertainment community for this gathering of professionals dedicated to promoting the art and business of scriptwriting.

Space is limited! To register: http://www.scriptwritersshowcase.com
Use Discount Code MABL06 to receive your discount.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Crazy John's "King Kong" Review

My friend Crazy John gives his take on KONG.

King Kong (2005)

Review by John Dodd (jrd_73@yahoo.com)

Dir: Peter Jackson

(with notes on two other versions)

Kong and I go way back. When I was a child in the late 1970s/early 80s, I had a King Kong raincoat, part of the 1976 promotion that had been discounted over the years until my parents took advantage of some closeout sale. Being way too young to go to the film when it was released (or even to know it existed), King Kong 76 was not caught until it played network television some years later. I remember grooving to the snake and subway scenes but finding the film too slow and made even slower by the commercial interruptions. A viewer had to wait more than a whole hour to see the ape. What horror!!!!

The 1933 King Kong took longer to view. As a pre-teen, I remember reading film monster books and looking at the photos of Kong fighting the bat, but the film was not available at the local video store. Sad to say, once I got to be a teenager, I would watch an old film only if that was all there was to watch. I had other, gorier fish to fillet besides a fifty-five year-old monster movie. Finally, in the late 90s, I watched the original King Kong.

By comparison, this year’s King Kong was watched on opening day. I took off work just to be able to watch the first showing. Sure I had a few misgivings. The film was three hours, an indulgent running time for a monkey movie. It seemed odd for director Peter Jackson to want to remake his favorite film (I wouldn’t want to remake Dr. Strangelove or Ikiru or The Wild Bunch). Still, if any director could give King Kong 1933 a rival it would be Peter Jackson.

What I watched was a thrilling, well done, if overlong, adventure film. Kong 2005 is a film that wants to please. Instead of Kong fighting one t-rex, he fights three at once. Instead, of the would-be rescuers swimming from a herd of brontosaurs, they are caught in a wild brontosaurus stampede! The boat landing scene has giant waves, a rock wall, and many close calls. Jackson even gives the viewer a variation on the legendary, lost spider sequence from the original King Kong. Jackson is a showman worthy of Carl Denham himself.

Having said that, King Kong 2005 is not a great movie. By having a running time over three hours long, the star does not get his first close-up until well over an hour. Certain scenes (like the romance between Ann Darow and Jack Discoll - Watts/Brody) drag on. Hey, this is a film about a giant ape. The audience does not need relationships between crew members. We are all paying for the big monkey, bring him on.

Running time aside, there was at least one wink wink allusion to the first King Kong which produced a groan ("Faye is shooting a picture at RKO with Cooper"). Also, and there is no getting around this, computer FX cannot rival stop motion for this viewer. Kong moves perfectly, but many of the dinosaur scenes, as good as they are, look like twelve year-old left overs from Jurassic Park.

What Jackson does do brilliantly is the end. The New York of this King Kong is an amazing creation. The Empire State Building sequence provides an amazing view of a recreated 1930s city, a world that seems as real and as tangible as our own. The aerial footage squeezes the viewer’s emotion. We are in the planes circling Kong and feel the rush and the horror of the action. This sequence is amazing. It ends King Kong 2005 on a high note. Yet, this Kong is not the *real* Kong.

Time has not been kind to the 1976 King Kong directed by John Guillermin. I had remembered from my youth liking this Dino De Laurentiis production. Due largely to Jackson’s remake, it is now out on DVD. While I do not think the film is as bad as everyone but Dino says, it certainly can not be called good. Jessica Lange gives either an awful performance or has a very thankless role. The snake now looks like a contender for film history’s fakest looking reptile (and there is quite a competition in that category). Yet, the biggest fault was the decision to use a man-in-a-suit after over a dozen Godzilla movies. This Kong is not even a good man-in-a-suit, not much better than the one in Mighty Peking Man, the cheap-O, Hong Kong ripoff of King Kong 76. The film even highlights its fault with the very unwise line, "Who the hell do you think went through there, some guy in an ape suit?"

The King Kong of 1933 (made by explorers Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack) remains the best version of this story because it creates one of the most memorable characters in film. Kong lives, breathes, and dies before our eyes. He dies with a gesture of confusion as if to say how did I get here. We feel the pain of a stranger in a strangeland, the last of a dying breed killed by the modern age (and love). This is not a man-in-a-suit, but a character more real than the ones played by Robert Armstrong and Faye Wray. To his credit Jackson in 2005's King Kong does strive to make a character, but this Kong does not have the life, the style of the Kong of 33. When Kong 33 played with the carcass of the tyrannosaurus, there was genuine curiosity on his face. When Jackson’s Kong does it, the end result feels more like homage. I have met more than one who claims the 1933 King Kong as the best film he/she has ever seen. My grandfather was one of these. If he was still living, I would take him to Jackson’s King Kong. He probably would have liked it, but I’m also sure he would have said, "That’s not King Kong."

Jackson’s greatest achievement for the true King Kong is to help with the release of the DVD. This two-disk set, which among other extras recreates the lost spider scene, is a must buy for all Kong fans. Many will spend $5-10 to watch Jackson’s Kong. It is money well spent, but an even better buy is the $20-25 DVD of the 1933 King Kong.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Happy Birthday to Me

33 years ago today in a galaxy far far away, actually Illinois, but close enough.

Few Contest reminders.

Two Additional Weeks

The AAA Contest deadline has been extended to December 15th.
That's just two weeks away!

To submit your screenplay right now, https://www.creativescreenwriting.com/step1.php

Call for Entries!

Breaking into the world of screenwriting is no easy task. Creative Screenwriting magazine is proud to sponsor the AAA Screenplay Contest, a chance for a few talented writers to take the next step in their writing career.


Only 7 days left until the Ferryman crosses the river Styx and your
chance of becoming the next big thing in horror dies forever. Don't miss
the boat.

You could miss the chance to win the only screenplay competition solely
dedicated to the horror genre... your genre.

By now, you're probably hard at work tweaking the screams and scares of
your script.

Please remember, all entries must be postmarked by December 9, 2005 to
be eligible.

Horror Screenplay Competition
1028 12th Street #8
Santa Monica, CA 90403