Friday, October 26, 2012

Cloud Atlas Film Review Up at F.O.G.

No lie, G.I. You catchee No. 1 review all same. Tom Hanks catchee multiple roles in movie that say No. 10 actions long time ago now be No. 1 actions in future. All same same? Not really. Discover more at Forces of Geek as "Reviews of Films I Have Never Seen" examines philosophical questions posed by the Rhombus of Life. Image: paste
Tom Hanks portrays Mr. Future Man in one of his many Cloud Atlas roles.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Writing Trumps Blogging

Image: NerfWiki

Odd but true. Blogging wanes as I rush to finish another short story before year's end. Old writing foes procrastination, perfectionism, and despair arise to hinder me. My antidote is cranking out a lousy first draft and not pausing to edit or judge the content. Then I will have something to work with. Nevertheless "Reviews of Films I Have Never Seen" will return Thursday with a gripping peak at Tom Hank's latest movie, Cloud Atlas.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Hollywood Slush Pile: When Shriners Attack

 (Here is the third edition of Untold Stories From The Hollywood Slush Pile, exploring the quarter million unsolicited screenplays that perish each year, passed over and forgotten along with their authors. This week we examine a work that sought to explore the depths of paranoia, but just didn't.)

“Dawn and a small Oregon town sleeps deeply like a sloppy drunk on New Year’s day. Suddenly the early morning peace is split by the sound of many tiny engines. 

Then they appear. 

A young women out jogging is the first to see them, riding out of the mist. She screams a forlorn scream of terror and despair and a darker emotion too primal to name but sometimes heard in Costco. 

But it is too late. 

They are many. 

They are Shriners. 

And they have come to rule.” 

The above passage was taken from an outline prepared by Lisa Manly-Guam. Author of the screenplay, When Shriners Attack, (originally titled Mark of the Fez). Manly-Guam was a 24-year-old activist from Salem, Oregon. Other than writing this cryptic photo play, she remains a cipher. All we know for certain is that Lisa believed passionately in odd things.

One of her outrĂ© fears involved a patriarchal coup undertaken by the Shriners, an offshoot of the Masons. Formed as a fraternal order in 1870, the Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine, or Shriners, are noted for charitable works, wearing silly hats and riding little cars in parades. In Manly-Guam’s opus, they are the hidden hand behind the world’s ills, infiltrating politics and banking; biding their time, pulling strings from the shadows.

And then one day they strike.

Red Fez Among the Evergreens

 In her 1997 tale, the small town of Pine Head, Oregon is overrun by a Shriner horde. Shocked citizens cannot escape and must endure a reign of enforced fun. Our protagonist is the same jogger from the outline, Jenny Loam. In the wake of invasion, she find herself isolated as her parents and siblings embrace the Shriner ethos of good times and service. Loam stays silent, outwardly complying, even joining a Shriner women’s auxiliary, the Daughters of the Nile.

But inwardly, she vows to throw off the Shriner yoke.

Eventually Loam forms a guerrilla band, obtains automatic weapons and ambushes the Shriners at their weekly parade. Steel-jacked slugs riddle the invaders. Little cars crash, bursting into little flames. The Shriners attempt to fight back, hurling water balloons, but they are cut down like bunch grass. The film ends on a close shot of a bloody fez.

Registered with the Writers Guild of America West, Manley-Guam's screenplay landed at Sun Nova Pictures, a small independent production company. The coverage was puzzled.

      “The Shriner Menace failed to deliver. They came across as goofy but benign.”

     “Didn’t the Shriners build a hospital in Pine Head? Killing them sends a mixed message.”
     “Perhaps the story would make more sense if Jenny’s parents were maimed by a little car.”

Out of the slush pile and into the wastebasket.

No more is know about the subsequent life of Lisa Manly-Guam and her Shrinerphobic epic. She remains anonymous. But that happens. Unknown authors are as common in this town as…well…unknown screenplays.

But now a lost tale has finally been told.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Argo Film Review Up at F.O.G.

Spook Tony Mendez (Ben Affleck) hides behind the film logo.

Iran. You ran. We all ran in 1979. All except six Americans hiding out from the barking mad Mullahs. Can a CIA agent train this undirty half-dozen to pass as self-entitled Hollywood types? There is no time to develop drinking and drug problems or crash a Mercedes into a dumpster on Sunset. The clock ticks as the Revolutionary Guard dogs the Yanks. "Reviews of Films I Have Never Seen" examines Ben Affleck's latest directorial project over at Forces of Geek. Go and sup upon hidden knowledge.
Image: WarnerBros.

"Bummed Out" Accepted for Publication

Darkness by Commons@OEN
 My short story "Bummed Out" was accepted for publication in an anthology entitled The Darkness Within. For the last two years I've been recycling the same three published tales into various print and eBook venues. It feels excellent and swell to finally land an original piece. "Bummed Out" is not my usual dark humor. This time it's just dark, telling a tale of crime, teenage brutality and poetic justice. Updates may be found here or on Facebook at Indigo Mosaic Publishing.

Monday, October 08, 2012

Fit to Be Tied
My apologies to all those who have arrived here in error because someone linked Write Enough! at a bondage website. Is there bondage here? Yes. But it is bondage to language and the written word. It is the leather restraining straps of story. It is the ball gag of examining film and screenplays. To those who have clicked here by mistake, I imagine my musings are cold soup indeed.
Nevertheless you are welcome to stay and browse, unrestrained as it were.

Snap Review: Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn II

Another rapid film review of an upcoming motion picture complete with authentic motion picture trailer. This November 16, conflict erupts between supernatural creatures after a wedding reception is spoiled by a bounced check.

A human chick marries a vampire. Then things unravel. The reception lodge claims the deposit check never cleared. The space has been leased to a werewolf seminar on hair care products. Upset, the vampires celebrate there anyway, ordering the accordion player to "crank it up, Stan." Tempers flare, fangs bare and the curtain rises on the last installment of the popular 'Twilight' series, demonstrating how everyone in the state of Washington conceals deep unnatural problems.

Watching the trailer, you'll notice  some business about a baby. But don't be fooled. It's a minor subplot—so to speak. The meat of the film depicts a wedding reception brawl. Watch the movie and if there's nothing about a vampire-werewolf polka contest, then you've been robbed. Demand a refund. Better still, howl like a wolf and demand a refund. This motion picture is a cross between The Wedding Crashers and Nosferatu.

Friday, October 05, 2012

Untold Stories from the Hollywood Slush Pile: Where's Aida?

(Here is the second edition of a series exploring the quarter million unsolicited screenplays that perish each year, passed over and forgotten along with their authors. This week we highlight a strange comedy that came close to seeing the big screen.)

Vaughn Flores worked for a temp agency in Alhambra, giving typing tests, making coffee, and getting everyone to sign office birthday cards. Each night he returned to a small home in La Crescenta where he lived with Grandma Flores. One winter evening in 1994, while smoking pot in his room and watching Matlock, Vaughn decided to write a screenplay. Then he'd have one just like everyone else who worked at the temp agency.

By summer 2002, after numerous distractions and many bags of chili Fritos, his project was ready. He called the script, Where’s Aida? Vaughn’s surrealistic comedy revolved around the Zavala clan, an extended Mexican family and their pet cow Beso de Leche. A headstrong bovine, Beso constantly tries entering the house to watch television, preferring soap operas to soccer and news.

Whenever a crisis arises, the Zavalas call upon bossy-but-lovable daughter Aida to fix things. Never seen throughout the film, Aida is the measuring stick by which other characters resolve their conflicts—what would Aida do? After a big fight and chase, the movie ends with the Zavalas realizing Aida is a real pain-in-the-ass. They move without leaving her a forwarding address

Getting tips from his temp agency pals, Vaughn managed to land the script at 20th Century Fox and Touchstone Pictures. But his work never passed the junior coverage readers. Said one about the screenplay: “More TV than film and bad TV at that, though I liked the cow.” Another wrote that 'Aida' seemed “a cross between Waiting for Godot and The George Lopez Show but with a funny cow.”

And so 'Aida' teetered before the plunge into that Tartarus of discarded visions called the Hollywood Slush Pile.

But in an odd twist, a company called Baja Quality Entertainment learned of the property through the grapevine and optioned it from Vaughn. They shot a screen test of a young actress, Carmen Solano, and a cow chosen to play Beso. 

 Where's Aida? seemed poised to spring from screenplay to produced movie. But the cow wrangler wanted too much cash upfront. Negotiations collapsed. The screenplay achieved the sterile honor of also landing in the Baja slush pile.

Deal deader than cheap gas, Vaughn lapsed into a depression. He had quit his temp job and used the option money to buy a cravat in anticipation of being a screen writer. Grandma Flores had already invited their family and friends to the Oscar awards. But time dulls all wounds. Vaughn realized that the hard work of writing didn't exactly fog up his bong. There were other things in life. And while he never stopped smoking pot, he eventually found a job where it didn't matter. Today, Vaughn Flores is in charge of Amtrak.

And now a lost tale has finally been told.
 video: lichoo

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Freakazoid Animation Art Awaits

This fellow.  I'll say no more.

Rafa Rivas posts a fine article on Freakazoid! containing Bruce Timm artwork from the series' original development. Paul Dini thought up the characters who graced the initial show bible but then never blossomed on screen. Unfortunately, Rafa attempted to close his piece with a comment about a certain spooky hooded character who spoke like the late Jack Palance. All the best to Rafa, wherever he may be. (Keep an eye open for pie. It's your best play.) "Ohhhhh my!"

Monday, October 01, 2012

Snap Review: All Together

Launched seven days ago, this week's Snap Review includes a genuine film trailer as well as comments on Jane Fonda in a French-language film.

What happens when five aging Frenchies decide to move into a house together? What happens when they hire a young caretaker interested in studying the elderly? What happens when Jane Fonda continually breaks the fourth wall, saying things like, "Check out my bad self speaking French. Tre cool, no?"

As Death creeps toward the elderly on wrinkled feet, the Frenchies turn to religion . . .  specifically the Aztec faith. They construct a pyramid in the back yard and begin sacrificing transients and unwary neighbors to the sun god, striving to win favor and pass quickly through the nine lives of the underworld to Mictlan, the realm of the dead.  Without giving too much away, the film really zooms at that point. (NOTE: all Aztec elements have been scrubbed from the trailer.) A cross between On Golden Pond and Apocalypto

trailer: kinolorber

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