Thursday, November 24, 2016

Mr. Beatty Has Made His Masterpiece (spoiler review)


This film is not a traditional bio pic. Beatty is too old to play Howard Hughes as Hughes was in 1958. The characters refer to Mr. Hughes as "very old." Beatty is playing a sort of alternative Hughes and liberties are taken. The events depicted in the story cover about six years. In life, these events happened during about a two decade period. This is not The Aviator that used a biography as its basis and stuck to it. This is something much better, a light film with serious concerns that fits the persona of Mr. Beatty very well indeed.

The film opens in the early 1960s as author Richard Miskind has written a book claiming that Mr. Howard Hughes has lost his mind and is at a press conference for the book. Hughes is expected to call in and debunk the claims of this book to avoid losing defense contracts and potentially have his business fall into the hands of conservators.  This is a nod to Clifford Irving who did write such as book. And the name Miskind is a take off of Peter Bliskind who wrote a somewhat unflattering book on Mr. Beatty. Mr. Miskind (played with a bit of menace by Paul Schneider) is seen earlier in the film hitting on one of the actresses  that Mr. Hughes has under contract. It was a smart move to make this character the Irving stand in and not add any unnecessary extra character. We already don't like this guy and want prove him to be wrong. It is sad that the bookends of the film hinge on if t Mr. Hughes is together enough to make a phone call. In a scene from the late 50's Hughes has to say the right thing during a congressional committee. Much of the film takes place in the late 1950's, a much less cynical time when we saw the good in these types of mavericks without looking for the warts.And, in the course of the film, Mr. Hughes will become a victim to all his warts, neurosis and fears.

There are touching scenes of Mr. Hughes trying to keep himself together. He is suffering from codeine addiction after plane crashes, as well as mental disorders. My favorite scenes: there is a scene toward the end where Mr. Hughes plays with a lamp, turning it on and off, looking into it. Much of the time he has been surrounded in darkness.  And the light and his smiling reaction is as if to say, what was all the hiding in the dark about. It is also one of the least vain scenes from a major actor, and one who is often accused of being vain. Another scene, Hughes flies in Raymond Holiday (a friend of his father's played by the great Dabney Coleman) to seek his advice on business matters. Hughes has just lost a major lawsuit and may have to sell his father's company. He is nervous and rambling and suggests that he and Raymond should go flying sometime, and Raymond, gently but firmly, tells him "I'm not sure you should really think about flying any more Howard. It is a devastating scene. A number of Warren Beatty films involve a man at odd. There is a disconnect between what he is and what he wants to be seen as. Bugsy saw himself as a family man and business maverick but became smaller in the name of lust. Bulworth started as a liberal dem and let special interests make him far more conservative. John McCabe thought he was a genius entrepreneur but had no business sense and was not the smartest person in the room. Sometimes Hughes is the smartest person in the room and is much admired ("I think Howard Hughes should be president" one character coos). Like McCabe, he is a comic figure as well as a tragic one. And this film has more than its share of comedy.

                                 


I don't mean to be negative, but are me living in Nicaragua now?

This is a question posed by Howard Hughes' drivers Levar Mathis (played by Matthew Broderick) and Frank Forbes (played by Alden Ehenreich) and eventual co-keepers after they are rushed to Nicaragua on a whim, and to avoid possible business catastrophe, by Mr. Hughes. The question gets a big laugh. After the intro, the story starts proper when Forbes picks up Marla Mabrey from the Hollywood airport. She has just won a talent competition in West Virginia, and is given a contract by Howard Hughes. 400 dollars a month plus a home. Mabrey is a songwriter and devout baptist. She travels to Hollywood with her mother (played by Mr. Beatty's lovely wife) who questions Mr. Hughes' motives. Hughes has a stable of 26 actresses that he keeps on his payroll. They are all there for a screen test for something (likely made up) called Stella Starlight. Many of the folks who have been there for a while still have not met Hughes.And there is a lot of confusion and misunderstanding about what being under contract means exactly.This is a great comedy of misunderstanding. The first meet up between Hughes and Mabrey sees Marla prattle on about how grateful she is as  Hughes eats a TV dinner,completely ignoring her, then (hilariously) picks up a saxophone and starts playing (as a signal that he is about to get lucky). Marla, tougher than she seems, indicates to Mr. Hughes that if his reputation with woman was true, he would not have time to work on aviation (Mr. Beatty has made similar claims about himself and the 12,000 women he is alleged to have slept with; I would not have had the time). When Hughes meets Frank Forbes for the first time, Forbes tries to talk Hughes into real estate as Hughes goes on about venereal disease. Hughes repeats himself because he is losing it (I will leave this country and never come back. I...will leave this country and never come back), but these instances are seen as adding emphasis because we make allowances for the rich.  These confusions end up showing how much interest and slack people are willing to give a billionaire while they reside in his orbit. Another point of comedy misunderstanding, Hughes is unaware that his doubles look nothing like him

 Mr. Beatty has said that the film is about sexual mores of the 50s. That plays into it a bit and informs Frank and Marla's behavior as they meet and fall for each other and have complications from back home and in Hollywood. The biggest complication though is Hughes and his frenzied mind.  This is a frenzied film. The editing is quite unique, many scenes are often quick, bringing in just the necessary information to move to the next part. It is a marvel. Another marvel is how much I related to the film as a man who cannot have children.
Hughes describes himself as still more of a son than a father, which I found a touching way to characterize it. And I still miss my father (who died Christmas day last year) the way Hughes misses his How come you never talk about your daddy Frank? I could always tell my mother I loved her..but my father, I miss him. Hughes is obsessed with leaving a legacy and believes that this new thing called DNA allows your father to still be alive in you. As Raymond Holiday asks him Who's DNA are you going to be in Howard?
In an early scene, Hughes sees a small child and runs out of the room in horror. At first, Hughes' legacy seems to be his planes and his films.



Marla writes a song for Frank based on a kind comment he had made to her.


One day I told my friend I was terribly blue.
Was it far too late to do what I dreamed I could do?
He thought for a moment, then he answered.
He said, “The rules don’t apply to you.”
He said it very simply, and quietly too.
But as if there wasn’t any doubt at all that he knew.
He gave me a gift that I would treasure.
He said, “The rules don’t apply to you.”
In the movies we see, in the shows on TV,
And in anthems passionately sung,
There’s a message that you’ve got to keep believing in yourself,
But they generally mean, if you’re young.
It it written in the air, as it seems to be,
That we haven’t long at all to find our destiny?
I’ll always remember to be grateful
That the rules don’t apply to me.
I wouldn’t like.
The rules don’t apply.
The rules don’t apply to you.
When Marla drunkenly sings the same song to Mr. Hughes a few scenes later (Collins is the perfect drunk in this scene), Hughes looks deeply moved, but we don't know if he is moved because his film Hell's Angels is playing in the background or because the song speaks to him as the aging nutty maverick that he has become.
SPOILER....................................................................................
 After Marla sings Rules to Hughes, Marla throws herself at him, after Hughes gives her a ring and says they are basically married, and ends up pregnant. When she confesses this to him, he assumes she slept around. Much later in the film, after Hughes and Marla have lost touch, some kids run around his bungalow, and he seems happy to see them. He has moved his interest in legacy onto children.
It will take Marla bringing her son to Mr. Hughes at the end of the film to enliven Mr. Hughes into going on record the Miskind book is a hoax. Mr. Beatty took 15 years off to raise his children whom he obviously loves very dearly. The hero in the film is ultimately the child. If Love Affair was a love letter to his lovely wife and Bulworth was getting all his political ideals down and Town and Country was a comment on past behavior, Rules is a love letter to his children who are the most important thing in life.

With that in mind, I will speak a bit about the young people of this film, Frank and Marla.
Frank has a Murphy bed as Beatty did when he came to Hollywood. Marla comes from a deeply religious family in Virginia as Beatty did and was under contract as Beatty was. Warren's sister Shirley had met Hughes right away when she came to Hollywood.
The cast and crew are by and large friends of Mr. Beatty that he has used a number of times before. Mrs. Bening (Bugsy, Love Affair) is Marla's tough mother, Paul Sorvino (Bulworth) is a reporter. Oliver Platt (Bulworth) is a bothered executive in a hilarious sequence. All the actors are great; the cinematography is excellent as well. Beatty did not become Hughes but made Hughes Beatty, shrouded in mystery, sexy, smart, mysterious,  Hollywood obsessed long after the real Hughes was,  and yes...old. It is an achievement that obviously only he could have done and it blows any other portrayal out of the water because it has nearly 60 years of an acting persuasive acting persona behind it and fits among Beatty's and the (in general) very best roles.

These little details taken from life are as carefully planned as any of the glaces and banter that Frank and Marla share. We see two people falling in love on screen. There is a shot at the end of the film where Frank thinks Marla and her son have left. The camera falls back then moves forward in such a way that the audience knows Marla is still there, and Frank is just about to find her. It is a crowd pleasing scene that really could have used a crowd.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Boo a Madea Halloween: Like Ernest Scared Stupid with a lot of bad Language




Madea Halloween is the funniest Tyler Perry movie yet. It also contains elements that are different from his usual obsessions. No married woman is abused by her husband or has a sad sleazy past.
No one is particularly slut shamed, no man is an oaf. All that happens is teens want to go to a college party and one of the dads, Brian (Tyler Perry) needs to stand up to his daughter (one of the teens who is forbidden to go but goes anyway). There is a good moral here; a firm hand is necessary but does not have to include a switch (despite what Madea, Joe, Bam and Hattie might say).

The film should very much appeal to teens. I was in a theater with a few teens who laughed all the way through it. It could be a family film if not for Joe's language in most of his scenes.

He is not about calling his son a bitch and dropping the n work for surprising comic effect. Every scene Joe in is funny, particularly his confrontation with a clown.

Other comic highlight include Hattie's twerk, the hilarious church scene and a topless scene. I was really cheered up by this film. Weakness, most of the acting by anyone outside of Madea's circle is terrible, particularly the college boys. I will single out Liza Koshey as Aday though for giving a great sincere performance as the pastor's daughter. If I could make movies, I would cast her in a minute. Also, the film is too long by about twenty minutes and the ending really does not work. These are small quibbles as I have much praise for this enterprise.

Madea always has some one stay with her to learn a life lesson. It is often not by choice. A wife is abused and has nowhere to go. A woman is in jail with Madea. A couple is in the witness protection program at Madea's house...some of it is rather contrived. Madea, as she did with this film, should stick with teens, as teens are stuck at home and more or less have to listen without contrivance. And the issues will not be as overly dramatic as they often are in the adult world.  That being said...

The other idea I would try if I was Perry since Joe's profaneness was so funny in this film. Let's put him and Madea in a rest home, dealing with all the sex that is supposedly going on in those places and maybe solving some issue as old folks in rest homes, like teens have nowhere to go either.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

A Crisis in Six Scenes: Better Than the Last Couple of Movies A Few Thoughts.



It is nice to hear something other than jazz  or classical over Woody Allen opening titles.
I never thought that would happen.

And it is nice to see Woody Allen starring in a new project.
I never thought that would happen again.

He is in fine form here as an author with children and grandchildren and a wife just a bit older than he is yet still a smart and strong working woman., a marriage counselor

Woody Allen's persona at 80 is just as honest as his earlier characters. I was shocked that he admitted to needing hearing aids.

Allen has one very poor scene in this, the scene at the diner with Bobby Slayton.

He has about fifteen great ones though so don't be put off with that diner scene that comes before the half-way point.

Allen's comic highlights are the scene with the barber Dominic, who insults him brutally but with some affection. He has good moments with Miley who also insults him but with less affection.

It is nice to see brutal insults dealt at Allen and how he deals with them, much like Dangerfield, he changed from being someone who always had the upperhand to someone that only occassionally gets it, and it works here.

May is a treasure as well and the scenes involving her clients are hilarious.

The turbulent times that Miley speaks of and comically inspire everyone, except Allen are deeply felt as well; anyone with the service should check out this show.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

20 Favorite Directors Working or Dead





20. Jose Mojica Marins
                                         At Midnight I'll Take Your Soul (1964)

19. Cheryl Dunye

                            The Watermelon Woman (1996)


18. Jean Cocteau
                        
                     Beauty and the Beast (1946)


17. Ralph Bakshi
                            Hey Good Lookin' (1982)

16. Frank Tashlin
                            Cinderfella (1960)




15. Richard Kern
                            Fingered (1986)

14. Tobe Hooper
                            The Funhouse (1981)

13. Orson Welles
                            The Fountain of Youth (1958)

12. Tom Laughlin
                           Billy Jack Goes to Washington (1977)

11. Richard Fleischer


                            Million Dollar Mystery (1987)

10. Juraj Jakubisko
                             Bathory (2008)

09. John Derek
                             Ghosts Can't Do It (1989)


08. John Waters
                             Cecil B Demented (2000)

07. Henry Jaglom
                                             Ovation (2016)

06. Monika Treut
                                    
The Raw and the Cooked (2012)


05. George Lucas
                                          The Phantom Menace (1999)

04. Woody Allen
                                          Irrational Man (2015)



03. Jean Luc Godard
                                           Goodbye to Language (2014)

02. Warren Beatty
                                                     Rules Don't Apply (2016)


01. Charlie Chaplin

                                          

                                      A Countess From Hong Kong (1967)

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Damn Yoga Hosers

Thomas Pynchon is writing more conventional stories these days with an infusion of pop culture. Peter Jackson is things very far removed from Meet the Feebles. Boy do I miss things like Meet the Feebles.


I used to complain when Kevin Smith did anything outside of his View Askew universe. I liked some of those characters so much. I cannot quite be blamed for this. Clerks 2 was VA and it was good. Cop Out, Zach and Miri, Red State and Tusk were not to my taste. Though with the later films, I did notice a shift in his directorial style, more complex shots, better use of music, more chances, not revolving around a sitcom-like moral lesson at the end.

When I found out about Yoga Hosers, I was not looking forward to it. It had returning characters from Tusk. Tusk was bad because it played like a horror film then jarring scenes of comedy would interrupt everything; it was not funny; it was not scary. The tone was screwed.

The night before seeing YH at the local theater, The Loft, I read an indiewire interview with Smith, he talked about Henry Jaglom being a hero of his because he is always doing his own thing and putting it out there himself. I remembered that when Jaglom met his newest muse Tanna Fredrick, the films became way different. They were about a male (usually Jaglom) in a world of female issues; now they are about Tanna and acting communities.  The films are better than the old ones. Not everyone thinks so, but I do.  I realized then that YH is a film Smith feels he has to make and once I realized that, I figured I should give it a real chance and not just see it because I am a Kevin Smith fan and want him to keep working so he will make View Askew again one day.


Without question, this is his best film since Dogma (1999). The Colleens are every bit as memorable as his VA characters, the hilarious montage, the way they sing a sentimental song to their dad to prevent him getting laid in the other room, "sorry boot that."  The film is very quotable. Guy Lapointe (Johnny Depp) works in this film because the film has a consistent tone. It is a horror comedy on par and at times reminiscent of Evil Dead 2. Other stand out characters include Gordon Greenleaf and Ichabod (Adam Brody who has a throw away line that is among Smith's best all time lines). The VA films got their cues from pop culture. This film should be pop culture itself.

I will gladly follow these characters into Moosejaws, which will also feature Jay and Silent Bob (best of both worlds). That is not to say the film does not have problems. Ralph Garman is not good here. Smith also failed the luminous Vanessa Paradis by giving her nothing but exposition; he also failed Osment who fails to do anything here except look like Ron Jeremey. These mistakes are forgivable (Please though if YH's is ones only exposure to Vanessa Paradis, seek out her other films; she is wonderful in everything except this) because Smith has delivered a very good film.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Woody Allen's Cafe Society Spoiler Review


Radio Days: The film Cafe Society most resembles on the surface is Radio Days (1987). Both films are period comedies narrated by Woody. Both films include scenes of middle class life next to scenes of people who have really made it. Some of the most amusing stuff in both films are asides about moneyed individuals and their interesting lives. The best characters in both films are supporting characters. Society is not quite as episodic or as creative.

Sweet and Lowdown: Unrequited love is a theme running through Sweet and Lowdown (1999) and Cafe Society. In Lowdown, Emmet Ray (Sean Penn) is a jazz musician who makes his best music after he does not get the girl because the music is sadder with more feeling. Bobby, (Jesse Eisenberg) in Cafe Society, begins the film as a under-confident creep with odd mannerisms (His nervous scene with a part-time hooker might be the worst scene in a Woody Allen movie). Once he falls in love in Von (Kristen Stewart), he becomes the best version of himself. He becomes super confident and goes from Hollywood assistant (thanks to his uncle) to New York nightclub owner (thanks to his brother) mostly on the strength of his self-confidence. In both films, the lead character is in love with someone (Emmet Ray with Hattie) then suddenly married to someone else. Veronica (Blake Lively) is such a wonderful character, and Bobby is so smooth when he picks her up. (Unlike Emmet Ray ending up with Uma Thurman's character which seems at best a chemistry free plot device) that one is confused when Bobby still pines for Von. I grant you that Von helped make Bobby who he becomes, and Stewart is very warm. But Eisenberg and Lively have such easy chemistry that the movie might have been better if Lively and Stewart's roles were reversed. Emmet is left devastated without Hattie. Bobby is left...wistful. It is a slighter response in a slighter movie.

Manhattan: Like Cafe Society, Manhattan (1979) is concerned with  maintaining personal integrity in a world that has a lot of phonies (I would bet that Woody got a lot out of Catcher in the Rye as a young adult.). Von and Bobby, as they are courting, make fun of the pretensions of self-involved Hollywood. Von ends up marrying an executive and telling the kind of stories she used to abhor. Is she a phony? I don't think so. She changed; she fell in love with executive Phil (Bobby's uncle overplayed by Steve Carrell), and took up some of his interests. At least she is more authentic than Bobby, a depressive who works as an effusive club owner. She knows she loves Phil and would not stray (outside of a kiss or two) while Bobby thinks he loves Veronica, but would leave in a minute if Von asked him too. The true authentic characters in the film are the other members of Bobby's family. Rose and Marty are the parents. Leonard (Stephen Krunken) is Bobby's brother in law. He is a moral man who loves his wife and wants to always do the right thing. To contrast, Ben (Corey Stoll), Bobby's brother, is a gangster. He lives by his own moral code. He is as right as any of us, though for the first time Allen does not glamourize gangsters and the violence here is bloody and hard hitting. He is eventually arrested and put to death. He is Jewish, and seeing no heavenly future in that, converts to Christianity. He does it so sincerely, bravely and matter of factly; I wish Allen would have spent more time on this this conversion. It is worth noting that Bobby's parents (played by Jeannie Berlin and Ken Stott) have a discussion about this conversion that is possibly the funniest and most honest conversation ever depicted in a Woody Allen film (which is really saying something). It is worth the price of admission by itself. Also worth noting, Krunken and Stoll deserving supporting actor nominations.

Woody Allen has such an impressive body of work and so many recurring themes that it is hard to see one film without comparing it to another in some way. I think of Judah (Martin Landau) in Crimes and Misdemeanors and his passive acceptance, as time passes, of the murder he was involved in and hope that there is no similar acceptance of Bobby and his marriage, as one stays married, they have another baby and eventually warm feelings take over for the hot impulses, the character of Veronica deserves much better than that.

If I were to take the film completely on its own merits, I would say it needs an editor and could probably lose twenty minutes. Howard Hawks once wrote that a good movie is two or three good scenes and no bad ones. Cafe Society has two or three great scenes, two or three great supporting characters and a few bad scenes.  It would call that a good movie.

3/5

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Garry Marshall RIP

Garry Marshall is gone, and I have the blues. He was so likable as a personality that he could make one be effusive about his good films and willing to sit through his bad films.

He was an artist. And one of the last to come out of a writer's room. He wrote for the fantastic Joey Bishop Show and created a number of fine shows himself including Mork and Mindy and Happy Days. A few of his films as director were a bit sitcomish in nature (Raising Helen, Dear God, Princess Diaries 1 and 2), but that is forgivable as he got his start there and nearly all his films were at least pleasant.

His first film Young Doctors in Love was an easy film for a writer comedian, a parody on par with Woody Allen's debut, What's Up Tiger Lilly.


His second film had a bit to do with his own life, The Flamingo Kid. It was about a kid working a Summer job and from this simple scenario, Marshall made his warmest, truest and best film. He was simple and true in his next film Nothing in Common with nice results as well.

Sometimes his sitcom nature betrayed the story a bit, as with Pretty Woman and its sanitized prostitute. Sometimes, he was able to overcome that nature and make something with a bit of uneasy heft like Georgia Rule.



I have a strange fondness for Runaway Bride. He was able to make Richard Gere funny, and the breakfast question in that film is something to think about. New Year's Day was the low point for me, so low that I avoided Mother's Day in the theaters. But Valentine's Day is another matter. A lot of it works. And I will never forget the romantic date film screening in the graveyard that Ms. MacLaine and Mr. Elizondo attend.



I will never forget the way Garry Marshall used Hector Elizondo in general. He was in all his films and ever reliable. I will miss Garry Marshall.




Saturday, July 16, 2016

The Fits, The Most Moving of Sports Films

Tomboy Toni (Royal Hightower) works out ever day, with precise discipline but doesn't seem to enjoy it. She, at 12, is without an once of fat. Her brother, while working at a rec center, trains to be a boxer, and she trains with him.
  



Adjacent to the boxing gym is a dance studio. One day, Toni takes note of the enthusiasm of the girls in the dance studio. Her brother notices this and does the opposite of what most movie brothers would do. He encourages her to join without demeaning it or saying "But you're a boxer like me." So she joins.



She is nervous, every moment of great nervousness is scored by what I would call horror film music. Trepidation is just as scary as fright.  And this will turn out to be a film more about the trepidation of joining than the triumph of succeeding.

She tries to put the same level of focus into her dancing as she used to in her boxing, but something is holding her back. Then there are the fits.


The leads of the class begin having seizure-like fits in the middle of the dance.
The first thought is that the water is contaminated. The class is scared until it keeps happening and then people began to wonder, "Why hasn't it happened to me."

I remember being in track in junior high. We used to practice and run until he threw up. And the people who had not reached that level felt like losers.



Toni makes a few friends, tries on temporary tattoos and even dresses and nail polish. The fits scare her though, and she begins to back away until she has to make a choice one way or another.

The fits is about fitting in. This is a diverse and interesting group, not something like The Stepford Wives. The small (in scope) problem of rather you want to give more of yourself or not is explored with great depth and skil.







Saturday, May 21, 2016

He Found Something Else to Do: Gong Show Movie


The Gong Show was a popular though short lived game program where contests did crazy acts
to get on television. Some of the acts were risqué

These girls went down on popsicles for two minutes and somehow made it past censors.

The show was kind of like the worst acts of America's Got Talent (the only parts anyone cares about anyway). In the film version of The Gong Show, which is four stars better than Springer's Ringmaster, the show act clips are cut down to their bare essence, about ten seconds each, recalling Vine videos.

If the show seemed ahead of its time, what it actually did was incorporate the theatrics and heckiness of Vaudeville but in a modern context.

Nixon had left office, Vietnam had just ended. We needed some goofy laughs.

The show was widely popular along with a number of other productions from host/producer Chuck Barris (The Dating Game, The 1.98 Beauty Show). When Barris started work on a film version of the Gong Show featuring many of the show's popular acts, it seemed like it could be a crafy parody of media. After all, Robert Downey co-wrote the script and was listed as director. An early scene involving an exec telling Barris (who co-wrote, directed and stars) that he will not get a raise this year because he sees slippage in the ratings.

Barris: But ratings are up!

Executive: Yes that are, but I sense impending slippage.

Barris fired Downey after a week or so because he wanted to direct the thing himself. And he does an admirable job.

Barris, it is said, was self-conscious in front of the camera so war a hat that covered his face. Hiding or disappearing is a theme in the film, faces are covered with hands, hands, towels. Barris, after a breakdown, hides in the middle of the desert.

The trappings of fame are discussed often. The film predates Stardust Memories by four months, and is a much better film in my mind because the Fellini-like encounters with fans actually make sense with Barris, as every weirdo wants to audition for him.

Also, the ending in Stardust has Woody accepting things as they are and maybe going back to making funny films.

The ending of Gong is far more moving with a tinge of bitter wistfulness. As Barris is hiding out in the Morocco desert after ditching his show.


He is finally alone, but then, his producer shows up with a helicopter and about forty of Barris' friends to sing him a ditty and convince him to go back to his show.

As Barris sits in the sand

"Don't get up. Don't get up for me. But if you do, I'm telling you, you'll make me happy through and through but no, don't get up, don't get up for me."

His side band that he records with sing

"Don't get up. Just sit there in the sun. Guess we'll never get that album done."

His receptionist who always drags her mom with her sings

"Don't get up. Being out of work won't us. Having no food won't cause no fuss..."

Every guilt inducing indicates that celebs have a responsibility to their crews and people around them. The song is catchy, hilarious and meaningful.

In the film, Barris goes right back to his show with a sense of purpose that being reminded of responsibility can provide

In real life, Barris cancelled all his shows, even the popular ones, right before the movie came out.

He did not get up.

The women in Stardust Memories are played by great actresses (Ms Rampling and Ms Harper) both play unsympathetic nuts. Woody writes amazing parts for women, just not in that film. To contrast, Barris has written a a fully realized girlfriend role in Red (played by Robin Altman, Barris' real life gal and a first time actress!). She knows how to handle Chuck even if he is a bit clueless on how to handle her. Barris' daughter makes an impression. And Lillie Shelton brings great humor and dignity to the role of Mabel's mom, despite having only one line, "That's Right"










Monday, March 21, 2016

Summer Camp 2016 A Movie I Coulda Made

With great feedback from my friend Salem, director of Spidarlings, I wrote my first screenplay almost four years ago, Voodoo Exotica.

The progress of the film was slowed down almost immediately as I was fighting cancer at the time.

Still, I met with Martha Davis, of Martha and the Motels fame, to discuss a part. I talked to the daughter of Sheri Lewis, of Sheri Lewis and Lambchop fame.

The best bit of casting was the now late Jimmy Scott as a voodoo doctor. I rewrote the part to go with his condition at the time, wheelchair bound and very soft spoken. He would have doen it if I had the funds together. I even had a part, at one time, for the great Carol Channing, who I knew for a moment and wanted Johnny Whittaker for the same part I also offered Don Murray.

I pride myself on my ability to cast any actor I like in just about any part I write.

Voodoo Exotica will never happen. I met many great people because of it and had some interesting talks. I will make a movie called Diggers (about the diggers movement) and Murderer and His Bride (with a great director named James McKenny). I will see those released one day and those have better stories than Voodoo could ever hope to. I am very willing to give up on my first script because I have seen one that is very similar to it, only better than I could have done.




Summer Camp is a Spanish film about some Americans who are running a Summer Camp with parents seeking English immersion for their kids There is something in the air (or water) that is causing each of them to briefly become violent and kill the others.
It is a non-stop thrill ride and endlessly creative, tho a bit tiresome at about minute 80 of its 95mins.

The differences are my script was more sexual than violent; this is not sexual at all.  I had planned to make a porn parody of the film around the same time I made the film. My script was about xenophobia, missionaries in Haiti are given drugs by a witchdoctor posing as a pharmacist.  The film will not get made because the drugged violence in Summer Camp is much better. I do not doubt Salem and I will make a film one day.  For those interested, the Voodoo script can be read here:



  

Voodoo Exotica

 

Fade in.

Int. doorway of Ana’s apartment, Burbank---early morning

Evelyn Winley (lovely 30-something blonde slightly curvy wearing jeans + a t-shirt, two sizes too small) is knocking at Ana’s apartment door, quite loudly. Ana Rogers (late 40s, attractive blonde) answers after a few beats.

 

Ana

What can I do for you?

 

Evelyn

Oh…God, it’s really you!

 

Ana

A fan, I don’t get a lot of those

 You’d better come in.

 

Evelyn walks into the small apartment (living room, one sofa chair and a large television, kitchen, a counter and two barstools, a bedroom with a bathroom).

 

Ana (motioning Evelyn toward the barstools)

Have a seat.

 

Evelyn takes a seat on a barstool. She fidgets, nervous energy.

 

 

Ana

Now, what’s your name?

 

Evelyn

Evelyn.

 

Ana

Okay…Evelyn…pretty name.

It’s not even 6am.

You must be a morning person.

How did you even find me?

 

Evelyn

You post pics around your house.

It’s not like you are Thomas Pynchon.

 

Ana

And you want me to autograph something?

 

Evelyn

I…this is embarrassing…I

read on your blog that

you are horny in the morning.

 

 

Ana

This is no fan pilgrimage

Q and A, idiotic question thing?

 

Evelyn shakes her head.

 

Ana (moving very close to her)

So you are here to…

 

Evelyn (assured)

I am here to fuck your brains out.

 

Ana

My lucky day!

 

Ana goes into the kitchen cabinets and pulls out a tray which she sits down on the counter. She then goes into her fridge pulls out whipped cream, cherries and a cucumber, all of which she sits on the tray.

 

Ana

I was about to have breakfast.

Do you mind if you incorporate both?

We can call it sexfast but take our time anyway.

I am a bit of a kinky foodie, takes the

place of the bad addictions that I used to have.

 

Evelyn stands up. Ana hugs her.

 

Ana

Before we go in there, what is your

favorite book of mine and why?

 

Camera moves into the bedroom for a moment, there is a small shelf of five paperbacks, all written by Ana Rogers.

 

Evelyn

I loved your book on the Bloody Mary tours.

 

Ana

That seems to be the popular one.

 

Evelyn

I like the other stuff too.

 

Ana

I’m glad to hear that.

Listen, keep the shirt on. Remove the

jeans and grab that tray.

 

Evelyn smiles ear to ear. She takes her pants off (no panties) her back to the writer and walks to the tray.

Ana

Now to the bedroom.

 

Ana watches Evelyn walk into the bedroom, POV on her rear.

Cut to

Ana’s bedroom, an hour later

Ana is under covers though her breasts are exposed. Evelyn is cuddling next to her. The tray of food is empty on the nightstand.

 

Ana

Hope that was the ultimate fan experience.

 

Evelyn

That was sinfully refreshing.

 

Ana

You have a way with words yourself.

 

Evelyn

Speaking of words, what

are you working on next?

 

Ana

If I tell you, could we play

with other kinds of toys?

Evelyn

As you wish.

 

Ana

You probably know that I didn’t start

until 40. Before that, I was a druggy girl.

This was my last night of that kind

of good time. I worked as a teacher

abroad in Haiti, a co-worker, the

ugliest guy that I could think of

had a big crush on me.

 

Ext. Outside of Teacher’s home, Jacmel, Haiti, afternoon, twelve years ago

Ana Rogers (30s, a bit less together in manner and look) is sitting on the steps outside of a run-down boarding house. Lucas (30s, obese) walks up to the steps holding red hibiscus flowers and two beers. He sits on the steps handing Ana a beer and the flowers.

 

Lucas

It’s so hot.

I thought you could use one.

 

Ana

That was sweet of you.

 

Lucas

I always try to lend a helping hand.

 

Ana (chuckling)

Spoken like a boy scout.

 

Lucas

Well, I am in some ways.

 

Ana (long silence as

She downs much of her beer)

Not in too many ways I hope.

Boy scouts bore the shit out of me.

That shouldn’t surprise you too much,

after I told you all the crazy shit I did.

 

Lucas smiles at Ana dreamy-eyed. Ana stands up.

 

Ana

Well, thank you again.

Have you seen Spence?

 

Lucas shrugs his shoulders.

Int. teacher’s home

Ana walks into the house carrying her beer and flowers. The house is a two story, sparsely decorated, several small rooms. Ana walks to the door nearest the stairs, Spencer’s; she knocks on Spencer’s door.

 

Ana

Hey hun, mind if I come in?

 

Spence (from behind the door)

Can’t right now, I have to work

on some things for tomorrow.

 

Cut to

Int. Spence’s Room, that moment

A candle illuminates the dark room. Spence (early 20s, East Indian) is staring into a rusted mirror practicing his lesson.

 

Spence

Okay elèv yo, Students, get your

liv, book. We are going to tradwi, translate.

The first word is (speaking slowly and carefully,

stumbling over the occasional Haitian word)

doubla, pain. The second word is

lopital, hospital. We have gone

through these many times. Dlo, water, okay?

Tanpri souple ede, please help.

If you pay attention in lekol,

school you gain konesans, knowledge.

Cut to

Ext. Spence’s outside classroom, next morning

Spencer’s classroom is an old canopy held up by large sticks. This functions as a school house. A prominent cross hangs from the back side of the canopy. There are 12 Haitian children (ages 4 to 8), sitting quietly, sharing three long, chipped, poorly-put together picnic tables. Spence has a backpack on and is standing in front of the children. Behind the group of children, observing Spence’s lesson, is Mr. Rekey (late 40s, long hair).  He has a poker face throughout.

 

Spence

Te pitit fi mwen mande pa pwofesè, teacher li nan

 non yon bagay enpòtan, important ke nou pa t

 'gen 10 zan de sa. She te entelijan. She reponn Me!

(Translation: My daughter was asked by

her teacher to name something important

that we did not have ten years ago. She

was smart. She said me.).  You can all

do enpòtan, important things.  You are

entelijan, smart, smart kids.

 

The children repeat the words important and smart as Spence says them. All the children clap when Spence finishes talking.

Cut to

Ext. Spence’s work, later

The children are gone. Mr. Rekey is standing next to Spence looking mighty displeased.

 

Mr. Rekey

We need to talk about

this whole approach of yours.

I am tremendously disappointed.

 

Cut to

Int. Witchdoctor’s waiting room, Jacmel, Haiti, next morning

Mr. Rekey is standing in a run-down waiting room holding an electronic translator in his hand. The witchdoctor (80s but spry, wearing long lab coat) enters and shakes Mr. Rekey’s hand and leads him into the exam room, a small room with an old exam table and a few chairs.

 

Mr. Rekey

Hello, how are you?

 

The witchdoctor smiles.

 

Witchdoctor

Mwen pa konnen (Translation:

I do not know.).

 

Mr. Rekey (not really listening)

Umm…yes? I heard from someone that

you sell any kind of medications.

 

Mr. Rekey pulls out a wad of small US bills.

 

Mr. Rekey

I need (he types a word into his

translator and looks at it) ti kras,

a little (he types another word and

looks at it) kokayin, drugs.

(He mimes sniffing coke)

 

The witchdoctor grabs the cash. He inspects it for a moment and then pockets it.

The witchdoctor nods.

 

Mr. Rekey (relieved)

Wonderful.

 

Cut to

Ext. Lucas’ classroom---morning

The classroom is setup the same as Spence’s. Lucas has a knapsack over his shoulder. He is facing the eight or so children occupying the benches.

 

Lucas pulls a stuffed cat out of the knapsack. He holds it up for everyone to see. All look passively. As the children interact with the lesson, they seem bored.

 

 

 

Lucas

Now you all remember that I

had a cat like this when I was little.

 Cat.  Can you say cat?  Cat.

 

Students (drone fashion)

Cat.

 

Lucas

His name was Pablo.

He was my best friend as a child.

(Incredulously) A cat as a best friend?

Cat…cat…cat…cat.

 

Students (drone fashion)

Cat.

 

Lucas pulls out a plastic ice cream toy with cone from his bag.

 

Lucas

Okay class. Ice cream is yummy. Ice cream

 

Students (drone fashion)

Ice cream.

Cut to

Ext. Same location, hours later

The children have left. Lucas is sitting on one of the benches chatting with Mr. Rekey.

 

Mr. Rekey

I think you run a fine class.

You got the total immersion thing down.

I’d have you show the newbie a few things,

but you both run classes at the same time.

 

Lucas

Yeah, Spence?

 

Mr. Rekey (nodding)

I should not be telling you all

this, but he seems lost and slow, which

is a waste of time, wages and travel expenses.

He speaks their fucking language half the

time! I’m sure he will pick it up though

with close training. He better, we have

a six month contract on him. With my luck,

he will pick it up two weeks before he leaves.

 

Lucas

Just glad I’m doing okay.

 

Mr. Rekey (reaching into his shirt pocket)

You are, and that is why you get a bonus.

 

Mr. Rekey hands Lucas the baggie of cocaine that he picked up from the witchdoctor.

 

Lucas

Shit! Thanks how’d you get this?

 

Mr. Rekey

Some grinning bag of bones doctor

Who would do anything for the almighty

dollar, figured you could use a break.

She is a party girl. Not sure if

you know, a bit of coke of the

dick makes things go on longer. I’d

throw a shot into her myself if

I wasn’t so goddamn happily married.

 

Lucas

To say the least, you

are the best boss ever!

 

Mr. Rekey pats Lucas on the shoulder then walks off. Lucas flashes back to something Ana said to him a few months ago.

Close up of Ana’s face.

Ana

I know how to have fun. Basically,

I’m a bit of a coke whore.

 

Cut to

Int. Teacher’s home, evening

Ana, Maggie (late 50s, frumpy), Spence and Lucas are gathered standing around a long table, picking at the food on the table. A Bon Voyage Ana sign is on the table. There is also a big bowl of unopened Little Debbie cupcakes, a pitcher of tea, an untouched basket of cornbread and a few bags of Doritos. Spence is conversing with Lucas and Ana is next to Maggie. Maggie eats a chip.

 

Maggie

The comforts of home.

 

Ana (interrupting Spence and Lucas)

What is that stuff?

 

Spence

I got it at the bakery. It’s called Benitas

Pain de Mais, a filling cornbread.

It is eaten as a meal here.

 

Ana nods and tries a piece. Maggie makes a subtle ick face then puts an arm around Ana’s shoulder.

 

Maggie

Members of the other house will be

here in a little over an hour and

I understand they are bringing booze.

 

Cut to

Int. doorway to Ana’s room, hours later

Lucas is knocking quietly.

 

Ana (from other side of door)

Yes?

 

Ana opens the door and waves Lucas in. Both are standing, him at the door.

 

Lucas (excited)

Hope I did not wake you.  I was nervous

and couldn’t give you my gift in front

of everyone. I just wanted to show

you I like you and listen to you.

 

Ana (sleepily)

Huh? It’s okay. I wasn’t asleep.

Lucas fishes in his pants pocket and pulls out the baggie of cocaine.

 

Ana

Where did you ever…

 

Lucas

(Interrupting) I have ways.

Was hoping we’d do it together.

I mean this in more ways than one

if I am not being too subtle.

This is your last night here after all.

 

Ana (slightly annoyed but fake pleasant)

Doggy, lights out, no touching.

Meet me in here, twenty minutes.

 

Cut to

Int. teacher’s house bathroom, a few moments later

Lucas is naked in the bathroom, illuminated only by a small flash light.  He has rubbed a bit of the cocaine onto his small member. It is flaccid, and he is getting nervous.

 

Lucas

C’mon, this is my one chance.

Do not let me down.

Cut to:

Same location, a few moments later

Lucas is sitting on the commode looking utterly defeated. He turns off his flashlight. Ana knocks on the door.

 

Ana

Okay if I come in?

 

Lucas

Sure.

 

Ana comes in, turns a light on, sees Lucas sitting naked on the toilet, sees the baggie of cocaine sitting on the camping sink.

 

Ana

I was waiting for you.

Why don’t you stand up?

 

Lucas stands up, camera focuses on his upper half as Ana inspects the goods.

 

Ana

On your dick?

 

Lucas

It’s supposed to help.

 

 

Ana (nodding)

Are you nervous, or are you cold?

 

Ana turns off the light and bends down to blow Lucas. In the dark, Ana makes sniffing sounds. Lucas moans.

 

Ana

You like your balls juggled?

That gets anyone going.

 

Within a few seconds, Lucas makes a loud climax sound.

 

Ana

It sure got you going.

 

Lucas

Thank…thank you.

 

Ana turns on the light and grabs the cocaine off the sink.

 

Ana

And thank you for the gift.

 

Ana walks out the door.

Cut to

Int. back to Ana’s bedroom

Ana and Evelyn are cuddling in bed.

 

Ana

His was the smallest I ever encountered.

Like I said, I loved coke.

 

Evelyn

You must have.

 

Ana

To be fair, I just put my nose on

it and juggled a pair of balls.

(Both woman chuckle)

After that, I wanted to spend my

last hours there with Spence. He

was sincere and smart and kind.

 

Cut to

Int. Spence’s room, moments after Ana left the bathroom

Ana walks into Spence’s room. Spence is lying down on his small bed but sits up when Ana comes in. She smiles at him, white teeth in the dark. He motions for her to sit next to him, which she does.

 

 

 

Ana

Look what I found. Party time!

I had to go through a lot to get this.

 

Ana pulls the little baggie from her pocket. Spence looks at it with a half-smile and a bit of trepidation.

 

Ana

Rough day, you okay sweetie?

I know that I am going to

miss you the most of all.

 

Spence

Thanks, day could have gone better;

Mr. Rekey thinks I stink at this.

 

Ana

Funny since we all stunk when we started

except you.  I have seen how good you are. The

best advice I can give is do what he wants when

he is around and what you want when he’s not.

 

Spence (nodding)

That’s what I’ll do then.

Now to you, anything you want?

 

Ana (rubbing her fingers

through Spence’s hair)

I am leaving in eight hours, and

I just want to get us high and get laid.

 

Cut to

Int. airport women’s bathroom, next afternoon

Ana is stepping out of a stall when she begins to have a freak out. She begins to shake.  Her eyes turn yellow. She appears in a trance like state and makes guttural sounds unlike speech. A bathroom attendant sees Ana’s distress and runs to her. Ana grabs the woman and drags her into the stall.

The attendant screams.  Ana bangs the attendants head against the wall.

The attendant bleeds profusely. Ana stuffs the woman’s head into the toilet, causing the toilet water to spill out. Ana pulls the attendant’s head out of the toilet and falls back, slipping on the water and blood. Ana slams the back of her head against the bathroom door and is left unconscious.

Cut to

Int. airport women’s bathroom, moments later

Ana (clothes wet, unkempt) is coming to. Her head hurts. She groans. She looks around her, sees the dead bathroom attendant on the floor next to her.  Ana gets up. She picks up the dead woman and sits her on the toilet. Ana gingerly walks out of the stall. No one is around, and the mop bucket that the attendant must have brought in is by the sinks.

Ana grabs the mop bucket and drags it inside the stall she had just left. It is situated in a way that prevents the stall door from opening, making it seem occupied.

Ana quickly cleans up and walks out of the bathroom.

Cut to

Ext. Spence’s classroom, morning

Spence and Mr. Rekey are sitting on a bench before Spence’s class starts. Mr. Rekey has a gym whistle around his neck.

 

Mr. Rekey

I want you to not be nervous. You’re

already here, and there is no danger

of being fired, but I want you to take

my last notes very seriously. I could not

in good conscious recommend you for future work

unless you make a real effort to do better.

 

Spence (nodding)

I’ll do my best.

 

Mr. Rekey blows his whistle, and the children excitedly take their seats. Spence stands in front of the children and Mr. Rekey moves off to the side.

 

Spence (long sigh)

Okay class. We are going to focus on

English only. How are all of you?

 

The children stare and seem confused. Spence pulls a comb out of his pocket. He walks up to the nearest child, a six year old boy.

Spence

This is a comb, comb.

 

Spence combs the boy’s hair.

 

Spence

Comb is for…

 

Spence begins to have a freak out like Ana had. Mr. Rekey watches with a mix of concern and impatience.

 

Mr. Rekey

Are you alright

to move this along?

 

Spence forces the comb and his fingers into the boy’s mouth. He lifts him up in the air with that fist and tosses him to the ground.  Everyone, including the thrown boy, flees.

Mr. Rekey runs behind a nearby tree and begins frantically dialing his cell phone.

 

Mr. Rekey

Holy shit I…knew

this asshole couldn’t hack it.

 

Cut to

Int. back at Ana’s bedroom

Ana

And now the story moves forward by six years.

 

Evelyn

Wait! What?! People really died?

You killed people?

 

Ana

Yes because of a voodoo drug.

Don’t hold it against me or anything.

 

Evelyn

And what happened to Spence?

 

Ana

He killed Mr. Rekey and was killed

himself in a Haitian prison.

 

Evelyn

And Lucas?

 

 

 

 

 

Ana

I do not know. I know

that the program went under.

But I am sure he still teaches

abroad. I like to imagine he

is online doing small cock porn.

 

Evelyn (chuckling)

Okay, now you can continue.

 

Cut to

Int. Olivia’s bedroom, Modesto, CA---afternoon, 2009

Olivia (19, blonde, thin and tiny) sits on her king-sized bed next to her brother, Terry (25, dark hair, thin); maneki nekos and oversized pink pillows are all over the place.

 

Terry

So where is Butch?

 

Olivia

He’s at church until seven.

 

Terry (surprised)

On a Wednesday?

What is that?

 

Olivia

Some kind of youth group meeting,

 I already know you don’t approve.

 

Terry

Yes I do. Sure I do.

I mean I know he can be a drag.

Olivia

But he’s really not.

 

Terry

I am going to make an effort

to get to know him. In fact, I came

here to invite you guys out to dinner.

 

Olivia

Yeah?

 

Terry (nodding)

I read this book about those dicks at

Yale, the no means yes, yes means anal.

Men are scary out there. All of it makes

me glad that you’re into Mr. Wednesday church.

 

 

Olivia (all smiles)

Hey, that’s Mr. Sunday,

Wednesday, Thursday church to you.

 

Cut to

Int. church secretary’s house, Modesto CA, evening

The church secretary (60s, demure) sits on a recliner meeting with Hilary (20s, short, in work out outfit), Kate (teenage, in plain dress), Adam (20s, thin) and Brian (30s, chubby) who are sitting on an adjacent couch. The church secretary has some paperwork on her lap.

 

Church Secretary

I am glad everyone has their

passports and flight stuff in order.

I also want to mention that the dress

code is strict there. We are not there to distract.

 

Hilary shoots the secretary a dirty look.

 

Church Secretary

Oh yes, one thing left. Anyone want to upgrade

to the hotel option? (looking at a notepad)

300 more, you get a private room, breakfasts and

dinners in room, instead of the ten to a room

communal thing. Also, your free day is a

beach day; a beautiful beach is nearby.

Adam

No, I’m fine with the communal thing.

 

The secretary makes a note of Adam’s statement.

 

Kate

Is the hotel any safer?

 

Church Secretary

No, the translators are around.

The private bus is going to both locations.

Both areas are gated and no one is allowed

to travel outside before dawn or after dusk,

so you will all be safe from vampires.

 

Everyone laughs.

 

Hilary

How many people are going

with the upgrade option?

 

 

 

 

 

Church Secretary

Under half and one from the Omaha

group. The pastor is going communal.

I’d go with it since it lends itself better

to the spirit of community support and

evangelical works that take up the week.

Sophie is the only one who needs

the hotel. She is taking her eight-year-old.

 

Hilary

That kid can barely get through a service

without acting like a jackass.

 

Cut to

Int. Olivia’s bedroom---morning

Olivia is sitting on the bed. She is wearing shorts and dangling her legs next to Butch (18 but handsomely boyish) who is sitting Indian style on the floor. She bumps her feet into Butch’s belly. He flinches for a moment.

 

Olivia

Sweets, would a leg

massage be out of the question?

 

Butch

Sure…with the precautions.

Butch goes off-screen for a moment and comes back with latex gloves and lotion on. He massages her legs slowly with an abundance of lotion.

 

Olivia

I can only defend your oddities

To my brother so much, baby. Would be

nice to feel your hands on my skin sometimes.

 

Butch

I never mind the wait because

I know we will get there.

 

Olivia

Time does have a way of flying;

the thought of you leaving seemed far off and

now…are you nervous about the flight?

 

Butch

I’m nervous about everything.

They need help though, a lot of help.

 

Olivia

You and Pastor Don are the ones to do it.

 

 

Butch

If Im doing half of what he does

By his age, I’ll be happy.

 

Olivia

I wonder what I will be doing at that age.

 

Butch

Not sure, but I know

you will be as alluring as ever.

 

Olivia moans with pleasure from the massage.

 

Butch

Maybe we should take a break.

 

Cut to

Int. Donald’s bedroom---evening

Donald (short, mid 70s) is packing clothes into a suitcase. His bedroom consists of a few paintings, a small bed and a desk with a record player on it. Next to the player is this record sleeve Albert Schweitzer: Bach Chorale, the record that plays through the scene.

After he nearly fills the suitcase, he puts his journal on top. On the cover of the journal is written Foreign Missionary Work: The Ravages Are Everywhere.

Cut to:

Ext. Haitian streets, morning, after the church group arrived

Pastor Don and a group of six (Butch, Brian, Kate, Hilary, Adam and a nameless local security person) are walking the streets of Haiti. The streets are empty outside of a few kids and transients.

 

Don (checking his watch)

Let’s not stray too far, twenty minutes guys.

 

Brian

It is…way too hot.

 

Pastor Don sees something up ahead and stops in his tracks. Everyone else sees as well and stops. Camera cuts to a dead body propped against a building. It is the charred remains of a  woman dressed in the nun’s outfit. The security person pulls everyone away from the scene, except Don who walks up to the body.

 

Adam (off-screen)

I’m pretty much scared shitless now.

 

Don (kneeling near the body)

To live in Christ is to die in glory.

 

Don walks back to the group.

 

Don (muttering)

Nuns are dying here.

 

Cut to

Int. back to Ana’s bedroom

The two are still in bed. Evelyn is sitting up with her bra on.

 

Evelyn (interrupting)

What is this about a dead nun?

Ana

I have a theory about that.

We will get there if you

stop interrupting.

 

Ana pokes at Evelyn playfully.

Cut to

Int. missionary campus room, evening

The room has ten beds, in two rows of 5. All the beds are small. There are two ceiling fans for the large room. Butch is sitting on his bed eating chips, facing an empty bed. Dale (late 30s, overweight) comes up to the empty bed holding his backpack, sits the backpack down, gives Butch a head nod of acknowledgment and sits on the bed.

 

Butch (shaking Dale’s hand)

My name is Butch.

Nice to see a new face.

 

 

Dale (a bit congested)

I am Dale. Thank you. You might

not think I am so nice after tonight. I

got moved from room B, terrible, noisy allergies.

 

Butch (laughing)

We sleep through anything on this side.

I almost missed breakfast yesterday.

 

Cut to:

Same location, hours later

Dale is sitting up coughing and Butch is lying down unable to sleep. Butch springs up, gets into his backpack (on the side of the bed) and hands Dale bottled water. Dale downs it.

 

Dale

Thank you.

 

Butch

No worries, so, since we are up,

what brought you to this place?

 

Dale

A lot of family stuff I guess.

 

 

Butch

Families can be tough.

 

Dale

Yep.

 

Butch

Okay, does your family attend church?

 

Dale

Sporadically.

 

Butch

Trips like this are the best for

getting over issues and shyness.

It’s all so humbling.

 

Cut to

Ext. Jacmel river, morning

A dozen Haitians, Butch, Pastor Don and four unnamed missionaries are standing by the riverside. The group is all dressed in white and singing or humming (in the case of the Americans) a secular tune in Haitian Creole. Pastor Don walks a few of the Haitians into the water and baptizes them. He walks those folks back and a few more follow.

Cut to

Ext. same location, afternoon

The baptism is done. The Haitians are gone. The missionaries are happily conversing with Don, except for Butch who is sitting under a nearby tree. Don notices, excuses himself from the group and squats down next to Butch.

 

Don

Anything wrong Butch?

 

Butch

Hey pastor. No I was just thinking.

 

Don

Oh, how’d today go for you?

 

Butch

Great, but you know how it is. I started

thinking about people who might not be

having this experience. I…

 

Don (interrupting)

It does not have to be like that.

Some advice, enjoy the good

as it is happening. The memories

are always a bit more hollow.

 

Butch

I will try.

 

Butch smiles an unconvincing smile.

 

Don

Bah…go ahead, just spill it.

 

 

 

Butch

I’m worried about one of my roommates.

 

Don

Just be there for him and pray.  

If you can help, do so, but don’t worry.

All worrying does is stress the worrier out

and ultimately annoy the pastor.

 

Don smiles as does Butch.

Cut to

Ext. Jacmel Park area, late afternoon

The sun is beating down at this park location. A boombox, next to a Styrofoam cooler, placed on a park bench is blasting hymns. There are about eleven Haitian citizens (eight women, three men), all dressed in out of fashion American summer clothing. Five missionaries are with them: Butch, Brian and Adam and a few females from the Omaha church. Everyone is dancing and a few are singing along in ostentatious fashion.

Everyone seems utterly enraptured in the music and dance. After some moments, Butch sits down exhausted. One of the Haitian men sees Butch resting. He goes to the cooler and gets Butch a bottle of water.

Cut to

Int. Witchdoctor’s kitchen---night

(Tight shot) The witchdoctor sits at a dirty sink. He is washing a bowl of fish guts. In view, near sink is a small glass bottle with a nasal spray lid top and a small wooden mallet.

 

 

Witchdoctor (to self)

Etranje fè mal fason Nan liv

(Translation: Strangers hurt our way of life.).

 

Cut to

Int. Missionary campus room, that evening

Butch is sitting up on his bed. Dale is sitting up on his. They were conversing, but Dale is in the middle of a coughing fit while Butch looks on.

 

Dale

I mostly stayed in today, the air.

I handed out supplies though, felt nice.

 

Butch

Absolutely.

 

Butch hands Dale a small paper bag. Dale opens it to find the small glass bottle with the nasal spray lid the witchdoctor was putting together.

 

Butch

Speaking of handing out supplies, I

found a doctor’s office near the park.

He gave me this stuff for allergies.

 

 

Dale (big smile)

Thank you very much. This will be

my first time with foreign medicine.

Maybe now I can enjoy our free day tomorrow.

 

Dale inhales a bit of the medicine.

Cut to

Int. same location, hours later

Dale is coughing. Butch is awake.

 

Butch

If you like, we can talk to that doctor

tomorrow, see if I communicated something

incorrectly or if you need other medicine.

 

 

Dale

Sure, may as well.

 

Cut to:

Int. Missionary campus room, next morning

Dale (dressed in Hawaiian shirt and shorts) is sitting on his bed putting his shoes on. Butch (dress shirt, slacks) is standing next to him. Butch is holding a bible.

 

Butch

After we get you some more medicine,

a few of us are going to visit a woman

who lost her child last night, comfort

her. You are welcome to join.

 

Dale

I…it’s…I think I will pass.

 

Butch (disappointed)

Understandable. I am just trying to

squeeze every bit of help I can

out of this trip.

 

Dale

I’m just too exhausted.

 

Butch

I understand.

 

Cut to:

Int. Witchdoctor’s waiting room, a bit later

Dale and Butch are sitting out in the witchdoctor’s sparse waiting room. Butch is holding his bible and the medicine bottle. There is nothing out there to jointly occupy them, and they twiddle their thumbs for a moment before Butch digs into his bible.

The witchdoctor comes out of his exam room, spots Butch. Butch and Dale stand up. Butch steps up offering the witchdoctor the medicine bottle.

 

Butch

The medicine does not work. I…

 

The witchdoctor is not really listening. He grabs Butch and forcefully pushes him toward the door.

 

Witchdoctor

Kite! Kite!

(Translation: Leave! Leave)

 

Butch (frantic)

What kite? Listen I don’t…

 

The witchdoctor is holding his front door open, motioning for Butch to leave. Butch calls out to a startled Dale.

 

Butch

Do what you can. I guess.

I will be outside.

 

 

 

Butch steps out the door. The witchdoctor motions for Dale to follow him into the exam room. He does; a radio in the room plays tin pan alley music; the witchdoctor locks the door and begins searching through his desk drawers. Camera stays on the witchdoctor as Dale stands off-screen.

 

Witchdoctor

Se ke yon zanmi? Mwen te

sove ou  pou kounye a. (Translation:

Was that a friend? I have

saved you, for now)

 

The witchdoctor has his back to Dale. He finds his handgun, as he is making sure it is loaded, he looks to his side at Dale who has turned. Dale reaches for the witchdoctor; the witchdoctor drops his gun and runs toward the door with Dale following. The door is unlocked and opened. The witchdoctor makes a run for it. He gets as far as opening the front door. Dale backhands him and knocks him outside.

Ext. Outside witchdoctor’s office

A few people outside scatter as the witchdoctor comes flying out of his doorway. The witchdoctor hits the ground with a thud and is knocked unconscious. Butch is dumbfounded watching this scene from across the street.

 

Butch

Dale are you okay?

What is going on?

 

Dale picks up the witchdoctor, stands him up and snaps his neck.

Butch flips through his bible looking for something that might help. He is crying a few fearful tears. Dale drops the witchdoctor’s dead body and starts moving toward Butch who is half scanning the book, half keeping an eye on Dale’s movements.

When Dale gets very close, Butch closes his bible and throws it at Dale, knocking him out cold.

 

Butch

Thank you God!

 

Cut to

Int. back to Ana’s bedroom

Ana, in bra and thong, walks back into the room with a cup of water that she hands to Evelyn.

 

Ana

Before you ask, I talked to Pastor

Don recently, he is retired and well.

Dale is in prison, and Butch is saddest

of all. He went to dinner with Terry and

Olivia when he got back. They all died,

in a bad freeway accident. You cannot

make the endings you want in nonfiction.

 

Evelyn

And your theory about the nun?

 

Ana

The nun, let me go back to just a bit

before the missionaries arrived in Haiti.

A filmmaker named Nick McCougle, you may

remember him from the 90s, kind of a low-

rent Huell Howser type. He went to Haiti

to make a film about poverty, meet a hot girl

there and ended up shooting Haitian porn

for audiences all over the internet. He is

considered missing so all this is speculation.

 

Cut to

Int. Witchdoctor’s exam room, morning

Close up of Mika’s (tall, twenty-something, lovely Haitian) naked butt as she puts her pants back on. She is dressed in gaudy hooker clothes. Medium shot, the witchdoctor grins at Mika and hands her a paper bag.

 

Witchdoctor

medikaman sa a se yo dwe

fwote sou zòn nan ki enfekte

(Translation: This medicine

is to be rubbed on

the infected area.).

 

Mika

Bagay sa yo rive

san patipri souvan

(Translation: These things

happen fairly often.).

 

Witchdoctor (smiling)

Wi?

(Translation: Yes?)

 

Mika (nodding)

Ah Epitou, fiyanse m 'ap

fin granmoun. Ou gen Viagra

(Translation: My fiancée is old.

Do you have erection medicine?)?

 

 

The witchdoctor nods.

Cut to:

Int. Nick’s bedroom, late evening

Nick, (60s, fat) in bathrobe, stands at the back wall holding two glasses of champagne. He is standing to the side of a large framed film poster. The poster reads HURRICANE DEVASTATION: THE MOVIE and features a cheap graphic of Nick standing in a cartoonish cyclone holding an umbrella. Nick walks over to the bed. The large bed is adorned with red pillows and red silk sheets. The mosquito netting over the bed is red also. Mika is behind the netting, wearing a nightie.  Nick joins Mika sitting next to her on the bed and handing her a glass of champagne. They clink glasses and kiss before downing a single drop.

 

Mika

Did you take garlic pill?

 

Nick nods.

 

Mika

Go ahead.

 

Both down the champagne. Nick gets up to put the glasses away. He comes back a moment later with holding an expensive looking necklace. He puts it on Mika. She smiles brightly.

 

 

 

 

 

Nick

Another year, another bauble; we survived

an earthquake, lived large in a place stricken

with poverty that I (laughs) originally came

here to document. Still no chance you want to

to come to the United States? I know your

answer, still like to pose the question sometimes.

 

Mika starts rubbing Nick’s back.

 

Mika

A man like you has to be a big fish

because you are a big man. This is the money.

We add authentic outside scenery and people.

And we have something no one else has and

for less money than anyone else is spending.

 

Nick (giving a look of admiration)

I was drowning before I met you.

I had a hag wife, earnest documentaries. Oh

spoke to your doctor, in as much as we could

understand one another. I’ll be right back.

 

Nick leaves for a moment and comes back with a paper sack that he hands to Mika. She looks through it, a prodigious number of little baggies of cocaine.

Mika (surprised)

He sold you these?

 

Nick (nods)

Practically gave them to me. My language

skills are poor, but I think he thought

I worked for some teaching program.

I went with his assumptions. I heard

this stuff is a numbing agent for dicks.

 

Mika

We shall have to see tomorrow.

 

Mika pulls her nightie down, exposing her breasts.

 

Mika

Does this mean no blue pills?

 

Nick

This means only for us.

 

Mika

Did you take one earlier?

 

Nick nods.

Mika

It’s working?

 

Nick nods. Mika lies down and pulls Nick on top of her.

Cut to:

Int. Nick’s ballroom, morning

Nick and Mika (both dressed comfortably, Nick in a bathrobe) are sitting on chairs in the middle of a large ballroom. A plush pink couch is several feet in front of them. Camera equipment is set up to shoot the couch. A young Haitian man dressed like a genie (a gold turban, red parachute pants) is laying on the couch as a young Haitian woman, dressed in rags, stands to the side of him.

 

Nick (whispering to Mika)

I think you know what I am about

to say. I am super hard right now.

 

Mika

This tends to happen right before a shoot.

 

Nick

You know how fickle the natural ones are.

Let’s take care of it (To the actors). 10

minit tout moun (Translation 10 minutes everyone).

 

Nick and Mika walk hurriedly toward a nearby door. Mika goes through the door. Nick, right before he can enter, is accosted by an old gentleman who walks up behind him.

 

Old Gentleman

You bezwen peye m 'yo (Translation:

You need to pay me).

 

Nick

Jesus, now?

 

Nick frantically pats himself down, realizing he doesn’t have pockets except for one at the front of his robe. He reaches in and pulls out a small cocaine baggie.

 

Nick (handing off the baggie)

Sa a pral dwe fè (Translation:

This will have to do.).

 

Nick goes into the bedroom. The old gentleman looks at the baggie with some confusion.

 

Ext. Alleyway, sometime later

The old gentleman is putting some coin in his pocket and quickly leaving the alleyway. Behind him, the buyer of the drug is sniffing the merchandise. The buyer looks up and sees something that alarms him.

Cut to:

Int. Jacmel Prison cell, next day

Three inmates, the buyer and two impoverished souls (one tall, one medium height,) are tightly squeezed into the cell. [It is important to note in Haiti, the average cell space per prisoner is 0.42 meters square. That’s less than the amount of space you’d need to stand up and swing your arms around. Imagine living with three other people at that distance from you, sleeping in shifts because you can’t all lie down at the same time.]. The buyer is being smacked around by the shorter of the two inmates while the taller man looks on. The buyer begins to have a freak out. He begins to shake at which point the shorter inmate backs off a bit. His eyes turn yellow. He appears in a trance like state and makes guttural sounds.

This should all be shot in a herky-jerky Ping-Pong manner. The shorter inmate watches the freak out thoughtfully. The tall man falls to his knees in prayer.

 

Shorter Cellmate

Mwen twò gen kriz (Translation:

I too have seizures.).

 

Though it is hard to maneuver in that cell, the buyer manages to grab hold of and rip the throat out of the standing cellmate.

The buyer discards the piece of throat by throwing it at praying inmate who recoils in disgust. He begins to lift the taller man into the air and is shot dead by a guard who comes upon the scene.

Cut to

Int. Nick’s ballroom, morning

Nick is dressed as a bishop. The room is full of gold trays; lit candles are placed on the trays. The camera is set up in the center of the room. The only other person on set is a young Haitian actress dressed like a nun.  Nick steps behind the camera. The woman is standing in front of a tray full of candles and two large windows.  The woman begins to have a freak out similar to the man in the jail cell earlier. She falls back and is covered in flames. Nick looks shaky but seems mesmerized to be catching this suffering on camera. The actress jumps through the window, glass shatters everywhere.

Ext. Jacmel alley, weeks later

Nick sees a tattered homeless man in an alley. He offers him a few bucks. He then walks him out of the alley.

Cut to

Int. Nick’s guest room, a bit later

The homeless man is devouring a sandwich at a table. Nick pours some of the witchdoctor’s drug into a bottle of beer that he then hands to the homeless man; the man happily chugs the beer.

Cut to

Int. nondescript room in Nick’s house, next day

This room has no furniture. There are a few film cameras at the back wall pointed toward the center of the room. There is also a tall rather large cage against the back wall next to the cameras. Mika and Nick are at the center of the room conversing with the homeless man from earlier (dressed in new clothes) and another lanky bearded man.

 

Mika (reassured)

Jis kanpe isit la. Nou pral fim

(Translation: Just stand here and we will film.).

 

The men nod but stand around looking confused. Mika and Nick go into the large cage, causing the men to look even more confused.

 

 

Nick

And action.

 

The men stand around for a moment or two then the homeless man from the previous day starts to turn. He becomes violent and throws the other man onto the ground. He climbs on top of the man and breaks his arm. He bites his ear off.

Cut to:

Int. nondescript hotel bedroom, Bolivia, months later, morning

An elderly woman in a wheelchair is next to the hotel bed. A short old man is sitting on the bed. Both are staring into the red light of a film camera placed on top of the television. The woman’s eyes begin to change color. She begins to shake. She has turned. The man seems concerned for her and places his hands on her. She locks her teeth on his hand, not letting go. He is getting up off the bed and pulling her with him, out of her chair. He trips. She unclamps her jaw, spits some finger and skin out of her mouth and climbs on top of the horrified man. She bites his jugular. Much blood spurts out.

 

Ana (voice over)

Once they figured out what the stuff did,

they found out about the large snuff film market.

Mika found the doctor’s notes and made more medicine.

 

Nick enters the scene coming in from the bathroom. The old woman looks up; the noise of the door has got her attention. Nick shoots her in the head with a handgun.

Cut to

Int. back at Ana’s bedroom

The ladies are back to cuddling as Ana finishes her story.

Evelyn

And what makes you think all

that stuff about snuff films is possible?

 

Ana gets up, gets her laptop, turns it on and goes to a favorited video.

 

Ana

Watch this.

 

Five seconds of the Bolivian woman turning and attacking plays on the screen. After the video is over, Ana closes the laptop.

 

Ana

And that is where my story ends.

 

Evelyn

That story was even better than sex!

 

Ana

Maybe we should do it again then.

 

The ladies start making out under the covers.

Fade to black

 

THE END