Wednesday, August 27, 2014

From the creator of Mad Men: one of the worst movies ever.

I know it isn't necessarily fair to criticize movies that are complete failures. Stuff like that happens all the time. Most movies suck, so what else really is new here? It happens, so we as audience members just have to deal with it.

One of these bad movies, "Are You Here" was written and directed by Matthew Weiner, who is best known for being the creator of Mad Men from television (check the advertising line on the poster).

The problem with "Are You Here" is that not only it is a bad movie but it's a genuinely awful film. Currently it stands only 8% fresh at That is an extraordinary low number and begs for an explanation.

How can a supposedly talented person write and direct a movie so bad? Let's not forget that for example the movie Expendables 3 has a 32% fresh rating on the site. Even super turkeys like 'Catwoman' and 'Deuce Bigalow 2' that premiered years ago had 9% fresh ratings. 

Some have said that the movie failed because Weiner had previously done only television.  Tv and film are two different mediums after all. Just because you're supposedly a good television writer doesn't mean that you're automatically a great movie writer. 

Now, I can't say that I categorically disagree with this notion. For example, my favorite television writer, David E. Kelley, hasn't really found success with his movie scripts. Most of the movies he has written haven't been that good. So it can definitely happen.

But how do you explain a meltdown like "Are You Here". It is apparently so bad that you have to start wondering whether you can explain this all by just blaming Weiner's inexperience with movies. Perhaps Matthew Weiner just isn't that good of a writer per se.

To be honest, unlike many others and despite the praise, I never found his Mad Men to be a particularly well written show. Not much happened on it, the storylines went nowhere and the characters weren't that relatable, fascinating or likable. (Same thing happened with the Sopranos)

Even though in my opinion his show was fundamentally flawed, critics and advertisers loved the show and people in the industry fell for the series too. Plenty of awards were given to Weiner, so no wonder that he started to believe the apparent hype about his abilities.

With "Are You Here" Weiner stepped out of his comfort zone and decided to put his neck on the line without knowing what might happen. Unfortunately things didn't go well and the chickens came home to roost. The honeymoon was over - everyone hates his movie.

In any case, this whole thing should teach us all a lesson. This is what might happen when you think you're better than you really are - thinking that you can't screw it up. This is pretty much why such a big boo boo happened with this particular project.

In my opinion we should very rarely take anything for granted when it comes to writing. We all have our strengths and weaknesses and writing good scripts isn't easy at all. Honest feedback is almost always needed and obviously something went horribly, horribly wrong with "Are You Here". 

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Real writers don't pose on the covers of magazines.

One of the things that pisses me off is seeing writers posing on the covers of entertainment magazines. I really don't understand why any decent scriptwriter would do that, because pretty much nothing good can come out of it.

In my opinion, probably the best thing about being a writer is that in most cases you can be both successful and influential and still remain relatively invisible. For example, I don't think most people on the street would recognize David Kelley or Steve Levitan.

There are reasons why writers shouldn't be in the public eye. Like for example almost without exceptions it feeds your ego. As a writer, writing with it - ego - is not a good thing. You're supposed to write with your soul instead.

Nothing feeds your ego like being in the media. The U.S media particularly is extremely vain, shallow and superficial. If you want them or if "they" want you, it probably isn't because you're full of substance and talent.

If an entertainment magazine wants to have you on its cover, it's most likely because you're more or less a fraud as an artist and as a human being. As a writer you should be aware of this unfortunate reality.

Sure, the chances are that they will tell you that you're an interesting or an awesome person and stuff. Or even more absurdly, they might tell you that you have a beautiful mind or that you're the voice of the generation. But please, don't believe it.

For example look at the cover of Hollywood Reporter that has the showrunner of the extremely mediocre Orange Is The New Black, Jenji Kohan on it. If you think that the cover is bearable, wait until you read what's inside. It's a painful and even a disturbing read.

I didn't know anything about her, but after reading the article it became pretty obvious to me that she's not that talented or smart. What's worse, she actually does seem to believe what the media tells her - like that she's an iconoclastic or an original writer.

In all honesty that interview made me pretty mad and depressed. It contains obvious nepotism, all kinds of crude things that were supposed to be funny, denial and extreme superficiliaty that made me feel sick in my stomach. She just isn't that special.

What makes one special as a writer is not being a "disrupter", or being crude and all. If you want to be respected as a writer and as a human being, you need to be kind and truthful and real.

Besides, any self respecting artist should know that the product or whatever you have created should speak for itself and is the only thing that really counts.

In any case, there's no point in being on the cover of a magazine, unless you want to feed your ego instead of your soul. There's just no point in doing that, unless you're a vain and a superficial person.

If you want to get some contrast, watch the 2 hour interview with the uber recluse David Kelley below, and then read that long empty fluff piece about Jenji Kohan. The difference is just unbelievable.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

A great David E. Kelley interview.

So here's a must see interview with David Kelley, the guy behind shows like L.A. Law, Picket Fences, Ally Mcbeal, The Practice and Boston Legal. 

There are a lot of interesting things that you can learn from this two hour interview. There's good stuff about the creative process.. and, well, just about everything. 

I can't really recommend this interview enough. What an eloquent, kind, modest and talented person he is.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Harrison Ford on expressing honest emotions and being an artist.

Yesterday while I was randomly watching videos on Youtube, I managed to see this wonderful clip in which Harrison Ford gives an answer to a question during the filming of the television series 'Inside Actors Studio'.

Basically what the person in the audience asks Mr. Ford, is whether being a private person - and yes, Harrison  Ford is a private person - affects the way one performs as an actor.

Does being a private person in real life mean that you won't be open when you're supposed to act and perform? How is it being an artist? Surely a private person must have problems expressing his feelings when it counts.

Anyway, the answer that he gives is just about the best that any (private) person could give to the question. After watching the clip it's no wonder that Harrison Ford happens to be the biggest movie star of all time.

Despite having a rather well known public speaking anxiety, the minute he gets to give an answer to a real question, he starts to shine. He makes it seem so easy.

As a writer I can only agree with what he's saying. Every single time that I'm trying to write something,  I have to be real. I need to write with my heart and basically nothing is off limits.