Film Review: PERMISSION (USA 2016)

Submit your Screenplay to the Festival TODAY

Permission Poster
Trailer

A woman on the brink of a marriage proposal is told by a friend that she should date other men before spending the rest of her life with her boyfriend.

Director:

Brian Crano

 

There are two categories of chick-flick romantic comedies – those made by female directors and those made by male directors.  The former category usually sees everything from the feminine perspective while glorifying the female while more often than not, debasing the male counterpart. 

PERMISSION, the new romantic comedy debut by writer/director Brian Crano belongs to the second category.  Like most films in this category the male filmmaker usually also takes the side of the female, giving them enough respect so as not to offend them.  In PERMISSION, the female is clearly the more mature and intelligent of the couple.  Since the film is written by a male, males cannot complain that this is a feminist film.

The film begins with a really short sex scene between the two leads.  Anna (Rebecca Hall) and Will (Dan Stevens) are very much in love and have great (if not, too short) sex.  Will intends to propose to Anna at her birthday celebrations at a bar with her brother, Hale (David Joseph Craig) and current male lover, Reece (Morgan Spector).  But that is impeded by the suggestion of Reece and Hale to have Anna “test date” other men before she ultimately settles down.  This results in the relationship turning open, meaning that Will can try other girls too. 

The couple faces the obvious problems that result in an accepted open relationship though the film and the couple insist that dating others does not constitute an open relationship.  My question to them is then: What then is an open relationship?  The problems include jealousy number one followed by number two, the craving for wanting for sex with strangers.  But the biggest danger of all is the probability that the stranger might be the better one to marry.  These are two human feelings that cannot be removed, and unless a couple can deal with these two issues, an open relationship or a closed relationship with allowance for multiple sex partners should not ever be considered.   Anna and Will together believe that their love for each other can conquer all.  So the rest of the film goes on to see whether love can.

Writer/director Crano’s film runs into many problems.  For one, the main premise of the couple is compromised by the introduction of Anna’s brother’s gay relationship.  Worst still, Crano inserts a problem into the gay couple’s relationship – the adoption of a child.  This distraction is boring and does not contribute to the main story at hand.  The four characters are all too nice and likeable.  The film would be more interesting if any one would be a complete asshole or one to be totally at fault.  Some of the humour makes no sense at all, as in Will spitting into his lover, Lydia (Gina Gershon) mouth, while high and having sex.

One good insight the film provides is that it shows the hurt the people go through as a result of such an experiment.  The film also surprisingly is almost saved by its ending.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EV9ZnPPnyz8

Submit your Screenplay to the Festival TODAY

Advertisements

THE MAN WHO INVENTED CHRISTMAS (Ireland/Canada 2017)

Submit your Screenplay to the Festival TODAY

The Man Who Invented Christmas Poster
Trailer

The journey that led to Charles Dickens’ creation of “A Christmas Carol,” a timeless tale that would redefine the holiday.

Director:

Bharat Nalluri

Writers:

Susan Coyne (screenplay), Les Standiford (book)

 

The last Christmas Ireland and Canada collaborated on a film that had a setting in NYC was the film BROOKLYN that was an immense success, critically, commercially and financially.  THE MAN WHO INVENTED CHRISTMAS appears on paper as another perfect adaptation, that begins in NYC at Yuletide.  This is the story of how Charles Dickens came to write about A CHRISTMAS CAROL, the arguably most popular of all his novels  – yes the one where Ebenezer Scrooge turned over a new leaf after meeting the ghosts of Christmas, past present and future.

The film opens in 1943 in NYC, right after Dickens (played cheerfully by DOWNTON ABBEY’s Dan Stevens) achieved fame an success from his latest book “Oliver Twist”.  He is the toast of the town.  An appearance at a theatre shows him over celebrated amidst dancing fanfare and fireworks that shock him, literally to the ground.

The idea of making a film about the writing process of A CHRISTMAS CAROL instead of another remake make seems more logical given the uncountable number of film or TV films made already.  Unfortunately, THE MAN WHO INVENTED CHRISTMAS based on the reported well-researched book of the same name by Les Standiford  on the inspirations behind Charles Dickens’ beloved ‘A Christmas Carol,’ is a travesty.

For one, though the biopic reveals lesser-known details of the author’s life, these details are not so favourable, thus changing the beloved view the public has on the man – not a good idea at Christmas, the time of good cheer.  Dickens is portrayed as a man who loves fame, who is often out of touch with his family and book ideas.  He thinks he can come up with a hit at any time and the fact that he has had several flops after “Oliver Twist” never bothers him.  He does not have any financial sense.  But worse of all, director Nalluri makes the fatal mistake to reveal that Dickens steals ideas and names, and does not possess original ideas for his stories.

To make matters worse, Christmas is depicted here as dying commercially.  It is deemed to be an excuse for workers to take a day off.  Dickens is shown the awkwardness of a tall Christmas tree, and told that the Germans use it.

The film does look good with sufficiently  cheery Christmas period atmosphere with horse drawn carriages and some snow.  

The films highlights Oscar Winner Christopher Plummer in the role of Scrooge.  Plummer only briefly appears and does the customary performance that is nothing special.

THE MAN WHO INVENTED CHRISTMAS offers nothing more than the disgusting artificial cheer of the season.  Everyone is supposed to be in good spirits with all the problems of the world hidden away.  A predictable story, bland direction and unconvincing acting among other things result in this very bland and boring Christmas film.

There is only one word to describe THE MAN WHO INVENTED CHRISTMAS.  In the words of Ebenezer Scrooge: “Humbug!”

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UxcnYR3mcPU

Submit your Screenplay to the Festival TODAY

Film Review: NORMAN: THE MODERATE RISE AND TRAGIC FALL OF A NEW YORK FIXER (USA/Israel 2016)

Deadlines to Submit your Screenplay, Novel, Story, or Poem to the festival: http://www.wildsound.ca

norman.jpgDirector: Joseph Cedar
Writer: Joseph Cedar
Stars: Richard Gere, Lior Ashkenazi, Michael Sheen

Review by Gilbert Seah

Not to be confused with the other film NORMAN made in 2010, this new NORMAN comes with a long subtext in the title that essentially tells everyone what the film is about.
Written and directed by Joseph Cedar, NORMAN (film’s original title was OPPENHEIMER STRATEGIES) tells the moderate rise and tragic fall of the said man. The film is well shot and directed as a combination of set pieces are performed almost meticulously by veteran actor Richard Gere. At the age of 67, Gere could be almost be doing old fart movies like GOING IN STYLE. (Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman and Alan Arkin share the average age of 80), Here in NORMAN, Gere is in top form, articulating his character who still has the ability to charm and ‘cheat’ investors of their hard earned savings.

Cedar’s film begins with two dramatic set pieces that show Norman hard at work. In the first, he is unsuccessful while he succeeds in the second. In the first segment, he stalks a high-profile businessman interrupting his private life, while he is jogging in the morning to pitch his deal. In the second, he successfully courts a young politician, Nicha Eshel (Lior Ashkenazi) after paying for his shoes at a shoe store. (French actor Isaac Bankole is immediately recognizable as the shoe salesman who flatters Eshel.) Three years pass and Eshel becomes Prime Minister of Israel. Eshel’s name is used to no end by Norman in all his present and future schemes.

At the film’s start in one of Eshel’s speech, he says: “I do not look at the way things are and ask: Why? I look at the way things should be and ask, why not?” The same idea can be used to critique NORMAN. The film is fine but the question that should be asked is what the film should have been with the question why not.

For one, nothing is mentioned of Norman’s background. Norman is shown the way he is – no girlfriend, minimal family and a loner at heart and in life. It is hard to identify with a person like Norman and especially as he is a trickster at heart. Norman has few redeeming qualities. There is no suspense in the way he could have got caught which could have added some needed suspense into an otherwise monotonous film.

Gere is good and the film contains an impressive cast of actors that include French Bankole and Charlotte Gainsbourg and others like Hank Azaria (always appearing in con films), Michael Sheen, Dan Stevens and Steve Buschemi. One could say that Gere is too good looking an actor to play a shady character like Norman. But one could argue too that as Gere said, when he was here for the film at TIFF that it shows that there is a Norman in each one of us.

The film is shot partly in Hebrew and English in New York City where the story is set. NORMAN is not bad but could be better. And why not?

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EXFCrl37HzU
 

_________

Also, Free logline submissions. The Writing Festival network averages over 95,000 unique visitors a day.
Great way to get your story out: http://www.wildsound.ca/logline.html

Deadlines to Submit your Screenplay, Novel, Story, or Poem to the festival:http://www.wildsound.ca

Watch recent Writing Festival Videos. At least 15 winning videos a month:http://www.wildsoundfestival.com

Film Review: BEAUTY AND THE BEAST (BELLE ET LA BETE) (USA 2017) ****

Deadlines to Submit your Screenplay, Novel, Story, or Poem to the festival: http://www.wildsound.ca

beautyandthebeast.jpgDirector: Bill Condon
Writers: Stephen Chbosky (screenplay), Evan Spiliotopoulos (screenplay)
Stars: Emma Watson, Dan Stevens, Luke Evans, Kevin Kline

Review by Gilbert Seah

Right after two blockbuster films LOGAN and KONG: SKULL ISLAND with lots of killings and dead bodies, comes the musical family fantasy animation/live action to sober audiences back to sugar sweetness.

Having no desire to see a musical live-action Disney re-make of BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, the film proves to be a surprise where magic, music and romance can still charm the hell out of a hardened audience.

It is still the same story, based on the French fairy tale novel BELLE ET LA BETE by Barbot de Villeneuve, most would be familiar with A handsome selfish price is cursed by an enchantress to be a beast forever unless he is saved by falling in love (both ways) before the last petal of her rose falls.

Belle (Emma Watson) is the young woman who is taken prisoner by the Beast in his castle in exchange for the freedom of her father Maurice (Kevin Kline). Despite her fears, she befriends the castle’s enchanted staff and she learns to look beyond the Beast’s exterior to recognize the true heart and soul of the human Prince within. Meanwhile, a hunter named Gaston (Luke Evans) is on the loose to take Belle for himself and later intends to hunt down the Beast at any cost. He riles up the villagers (FRANKENSTEIN style) to invade the castle, burn it to the ground and slaughter the beast. Belle eventually falls in love with Beast and they waltz together in the grand ballroom to the famous Beauty and he Beast song. Romantics in the audience should have lots of Kleenex handy – especially when Beast utters the tear-jerking line to Belle: “You came back!”

Great pains have been taken to make the film look like a fairy tale. The French village of Villeneuve in the film looks something right out of a fairy tale story book. Belle even sings in the morning, just as Snow White sang to the birds in SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS. There is the icy cold winter surrounding the beast’s castle (like the snow and ice in FROZEN) and the talking tea-pot, cup, candlesticks and clock as in the original animated BEAUTY AND THE BEAST.

Watson is perfect as Belle, the beauty but the film’s impressive cast includes stars Emma Thompson (she gets to sing a line of the famous song), Kevin Kline, Luke Evans, Stanley Tucci, Ian McKellen and Ewan McGregor.

Gay audiences should be pleased with the gay content in the openly gay director, Bill Condon’s (GODS AND MONSTERS, two TWILIGHT films) film. Josh Gad plays Gaston’s gay sidekick, LeFou (obvious to all except to Gaston) who sings and prances about to no end. During the fight at the Beast’s castle, one of the invaders is given a ‘pretty bad boy make-over’ and he is last seen dancing with LeFou in the grand closing dance scene.

BEAUTY AND THE BEAST is more a musical than LA LA LAND with most of the songs being memorable and catchy. See it! You will not be disappointed!

Interesting fact: the animated version cost $25 million while this live-action cost $160 million to make.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OvW_L8sTu5E

 

_________

Also, Free logline submissions. The Writing Festival network averages over 95,000 unique visitors a day.
Great way to get your story out: http://www.wildsound.ca/logline.html

Deadlines to Submit your Screenplay, Novel, Story, or Poem to the festival:http://www.wildsound.ca

Watch recent Writing Festival Videos. At least 15 winning videos a month:http://www.wildsoundfestival.com

 

Happy Birthday: Dan Stevens

danstevens.jpgDan Stevens

Born: October 10, 1982 in Croydon, Surrey, England, UK

Married to: Susie Hariet (2009 – present) (2 children)

[on the controversy surrounding his leaving the ‘Downton Abbey’ cast to make ‘The Guest’] I couldn’t have sat down two years ago and said, ‘Okay, Julian Fellowes, what I really want to do is a twisted action thriller black comedy with horror elements. Preferably with an American accent’. That would have been insane and highly implausible. But as soon as the opportunity came along it seemed like a reality.

DOWNTON ABBEY Season 3
2012
Best of the series
Created by Julian Fellowes
DOWNTON ABBEY Season 1
2011
Created by Julian Fellowes
TV POSTERDOWNTON ABBEY Season 2
2012
Created by Julian Fellowes
TV POSTERDOWNTON ABBEY REVIEWS of EVERY EPISODE
Watch video reviews of the entire series.

TV POSTERDOWNTON ABBEY TV Series
Best of the series
Created by Julian Fellowes
TV CONTESTSUBMIT your TV PILOT or TV SPEC Script
Voted #1 TV Contest in North America.
FILM CONTESTSUBMIT your SHORT Film
Get it showcased at the FEEDBACK Festival
writing CONTEST1st CHAPTER or FULL NOVEL CONTEST
Get full feedback! Winners get their novel made into a video!
SCREENPLAY CONTESTSUBMIT your FEATURE Script
FULL FEEDBACK on all entries. Get your script performed