Sunday, February 19, 2006

Written Test, Part Two

For the first post in this series, click here.

On with the test. I'll start with just the DVDs that I've purchased. On a side note, consider this one of those voluntary memes – I’d enjoy seeing what conclusions others come to and whether or not you’re surprised by any trends you discover, but I won’t tag anyone specifically.

Mission: Impossible: D-- Brian De Palma; W-- David Koepp, Robert Towne, Steven Zaillan

Koepp also wrote Carlito's Way, Jurassic Park, Spiderman -- so he's a good bet. Steven Zaillan: Clear and Present Danger, Schindler's List, Searching for Bobby Fischer, another good bet. And I imagine most screenwriters don't need me to tell them about Robert Towne. De Palma is always a good bet for me too -- but probably no better than the writers on this project.

The Usual Suspects: D-- Bryan Singer; W-- Christopher McQuarrie
I liked The Way of the Gun, probably about as much as Singer's other film, Apt Pupil -- but I need something more before making a call.

X2: X-Men United: D-- Bryan Singer; W-- Zak Penn, David Hayter, Michael Dougherty, Dan Harris, Bryan Singer
I liked some of Zak Penn's other stuff, Last Action Hero was fun and PCU had funny bits -- overall not great, but generally solid. David Hayter's writing credits are short now, but growing. Scorpion King was pretty fun. Michael Dougherty and Dan Harris have a tremendous looking list of upcoming films, but the only other thing currently out I've seen is Urban Legends: Bloody Mary, which was solid but not spectacular.

X-Men: D-- Bryan Singer; W-- David Hayter, Bryan Singer, Tom De Santo
Tom De Santo has almost no credits yet -- we might be seeing a trend here of writers on films I like either being young and just starting out, or older and hyphenating themselves into directors or at least producers.

Lord of Illusions: D-- Clive Barker; W-- Clive Barker
It's Clive Barker! 'Nuff said. Well, not actually enough -- I'm probably just as keen on him as a pure writer, as I am on him as a writer/director. Looking forward to Abarat.

Constantine: D-- Francis Lawrence; W-- Kevin Brodbin, Frank Cappello
These guys don't have many credits yet -- director even moreso. I saw Brodbin's Mindhunters and that was okay. But overall, a wash here.

Star Wars Episode 2: Attack of the Clones: D-- George Lucas; W-- George Lucas, Jonathan Hales
Is Lucas a better writer or director? That's a tough call. Better in collaboration though. Haven't seen much of Hales's work, other than The Scorpion King (still liked The Mummy better -- what's with having The Rock play a sneaky guy??).

The Road Warrior: D-- George Miller; W-- Terry Hayes, George Miller, Brian Hannant

Here's an interesting one -- other than the Mad Max films and Babe: Pig in the City, I'm not so hot on George Miller's work. But Terry Hayes has done Dead Calm, Payback, Vertical Limit, and From Hell -- not all great, but enjoyable, and a better bet for me.

Spirited Away: D-- Hayao Miyazaki; W-- Hayao Miyazaki

Aliens: D-- James Cameron; W-- James Cameron
Let me float an argument on favor of Cameron being a better writer than director -- Piranha Part Two: The Spawning, he wasn't a good enough director to save this dog, but the movies he also wrote were strong. Okay, that's the kind of argument only a philosopher seeking tenure could love, but it is logically coherent...

Terminator 2: D-- James Cameron; W-- James Cameron, William Wisher
Wisher also wrote Judge Dredd, the Exorcist prequel, and the 13th Warrior -- a bunch of geeks like the 13th Warrior but all of those are sort of mid-range for me. I need to dig up this Xenogenesis somewhere though.

Fargo: D-- Joel Coen; W-- Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
Are they even wearing the same hats in their IMDB photos? How on the nose is that??

Miller's Crossing: D-- Joel Coen; W-- Joel Coen, Ethan Coen

In The Mouth of Madness: D-- John Carpenter; W-- Michael De Luca
Carpenter is actually one of the most reliable directors for me, or at least has made some of my all time favorites -- but the big ones for me mostly have other writers: Big Trouble in Little China (Gary Goldman -- Navy Seals, Total Recall, David Z. Weinstein, W.D. Richter -- Needful Things, Brubaker), The Thing (John W. Campbell Jr., Bill Lancaster), Starman (Bruce A. Evans and Raynold Gideon -- Stand By Me, Dean Riesner -- Dirty Harry), ....

The Maltese Falcon: D-- John Huston; W-- John Huston
Do you realize that this was a stinkin' remake? I found a copy of the script online, looked like it was the original, like 180 pages or so. Looks like Huston just went through the novel and added sluglines and camera directions.

Resident Evil: D-- Paul W.S. Anderson; W-- Paul W.S. Anderson
Don't hate me.

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring: D-- Peter Jackson; W-- Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Peter Jackson
Interestingly, on a pure predictive measure, Ms. Walsh and Ms. Boyens are just as useful as Mr. Jackson since they all have worked on the same films.

Kill Bill: D-- Quentin Tarantino; W-- Quentin Tarantino

Pulp Fiction: D-- Quentin Tarantino; W-- Quentin Tarantino, Roger Avary

Reservoir Dogs: D-- Quentin Tarantino; W-- Quentin Tarantino, Roger Avary

True Romance: D-- Tony Scott; W-- Quentin Tarantino, Roger Avary
Have to say that Tarantino has been a little more consistent for me than Avary -- so far at least.

A Bridge Too Far: D-- Richard Attenborough; W-- William Goldman
I'm quite fond of Attenborough's Ghandhi, but Goldman is easily the better bet for me here: Butch and Sundance, All the President's Men, Stepford Wives, Great Waldo Pepper, PRINCESS BRIDE... sweet Jesus.

The Stunt Man: D-- Richard Rush; W-- Lawrence B. Marcus, Richard Rush
This is an obscure-ish film but it has one of my favorite opening sequences.

Alien: D-- Ridley Scott; W-- Dan O'Bannon, Ronald Shusset
Actually, Ridley Scott hasn't been that consistent for me, besides Blade Runner and Blackhawk Down, the others have been a bit more middling for me; maybe he became an artist. Dan O'Bannon also wrote Blue Thunder, which I really liked, then Return of the Living Dead, Invaders from Mars, and Total Recall.

Blade Runner: D-- Ridley Scott; W-- Hampton Fancher, David Peoples
But making just one Blade Runner in your life makes you a maestro. Fancher hasn't written much else. However, Peoples also wrote LadyHawke, Unforgiven, and Twelve Monkeys! One nice thing about doing the slog work through all this is that you find some new film-makers to keep your eye on.

The Faculty: D-- Robert Rodriguez; W-- Kevin Williamson, David Wechter, Bruce Kimmel
Both Rodriguez and Williamson have some credits on great films, though I'd give Rodriguez the nod here after Sin City.

Sin City: D-- Robert Rodriguez, Frank Miller, Quentin Tarantino; W-- Frank Miller

2001: A Space Odyssey: D-- Stanley Kubrick; W-- Arthur C. Clarke, Stanley Kubrick

A Clockwork Orange: D-- Stanley Kubrick; W-- Stanley Kubrick

Barry Lyndon: D-- Stanley Kubrick; W-- Stanley Kubrick

Dr. Strangelove: D-- Stanley Kubrick; W-- Terry Southern, Stanley Kubrick, Peter George
Terry southern also wrote Barbarella and Easy Rider.

Eyes Wide Shut: D-- Stanley Kubrick; W-- Frederic Raphael, Stanley Kubrick

Full Metal Jacket: D-- Stanley Kubrick; W-- Gustav Hasford, Michael Herr, Stanley Kubrick

Lolita: D-- Stanley Kubrick; W-- Vladimir Nabokov

The Shining: D-- Stanley Kubrick; W-- Diane Johnson, Stanley Kubrick
After looking through the list it's surprising how many of the screenwriters on Kubrick's films didn't write very many other films. Compare that to Spielberg's screenwriters, who often have busy careers. It also makes me wonder to what extent he's a director, like Spielberg or Singer, or to what extent he's a writer/director like Tarantino or the Coen Brothers.

Jaws: D-- Steven Spielberg; W-- Peter Benchley, Carl Gottlieb
My God, 48 films directed by Spielberg -- so far. I don't own more of them because I'd need to sell more movies just to cover the costs. Gottlieb also wrote The Jerk and Doctor Detroit!

Monty Python and the Holy Grail: D-- Terry Gilliam, Terry Jones; W-- Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, Michael Palin
It's a statistical mystery how this much talent appeared at the same location at the same time.

The Matrix: D-- Andy Wachowski, Larry Wachowski; W-- Andy Wachowski, Larry Wachowski
More brothers. Perhaps a key to classic films is having siblings...

The Matrix Reloaded: D-- Andy Wachowski, Larry Wachowski; W-- Andy Wachowski, Larry Wachowski

The Matrix Revolutions: D-- Andy Wachowski, Larry Wachowski; W-- Andy Wachowski, Larry Wachowski

The Manor: D-- Ken Berris; W -- Ken Berris, Steven Moses
Woot, Ken! I still wonder how a movie with Peter O'Toole in it can't at least find its way into Blockbuster.

Whew! That's actually my current DVD collection (that I've purchased). I imagine any readers have developed a strong opinion about my tastes now.

An analysis is in the third part.


Gary Bartlett said...

Nice to see mention of 'Blue Thunder'. Always liked that film, though I couldn't really figure out why. So maybe it was the writer...

Most of our DVDs are TV series. We just started watching Season 1 of 'The X-Files' (damn, it was a good show!), while waiting for the return of my 'American Gothic' disks, which I'm having replaced b/c of scanning problems. You ever watch that show? (Produced by Sam Raimi.)

And unrelatedly: J'aime defended successfully. She is now Dr. Wells!

Steve Peterson said...

Congrats to J'aime!!

I loved American Gothic -- really disappointed to see that taken off the air, especially so fast. I think it might have been hurt, popularly, by Gary Cole's resounding success at playing a villain. That's just hard for the general TV audience ot invite into their hom every week. It might have done better if it had been on HBO.

Gary Bartlett said...

Cole nailed the role of Lucas Buck. The show was clever; it had me rooting _for_ him on some occasions. That's not something main-stream audiences deal with often.

Surprisingly few of my so-called 'geek' friends here saw it. Yet I caught it way over in NZ! (That was a bad year for good shows. In the same year, I think, 'Nowhere Man' came and went in one season.)