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December 2009 Archives

December 4, 2009

Enraptured

Title: Enraptured
Genre: Comedy/Horror
Draft: Fourth
Length: 117 pages
Logline: When a geeky high school senior fails to find a date for the prom, he joins a Satanic cult hellbent on bringing about the Rapture — getting rid of all the goody two-shoes and bringing about hell on Earth.

History:
First Draft — 1/9/04
Second Draft — 9/13/06
Third Draft — 3/8/09
Fourth Draft — 12/4/09

Click the image to download the complete screenplay for just $2.99.

Posted by D. B. Bates at 3:41 PM | Print-Friendly | Comments (0) | Writing, Feature Scripts

December 14, 2009

Black List Script #1: The Muppet Man by Christopher Weekes

Download PDF: The Muppet Man

MAJOR DISCLAIMER: Since these scripts, bought or not, are currently unproduced and/or in the midst of long, tedious development processes, they may not make it to the screen for up to three years, if ever. You should know that the synopsis contains MASSIVE, EARTH-SHATTERING SPOILERS, even though this screenplay may not resemble the finished film (if any) in any way. Read at your own risk.
Secondary Disclaimer: I refer to what follows as “coverage” by the loosest definition of that term. In keeping with this blog’s tradition, I’ve crammed the notes so full of rancorous rants, it’s 1/10th as concise as actual coverage, almost falling into the category of a review. However, since I’ve included the loglines and a detailed synopsis, it’s close enough to coverage for my purposes. Deal with it.

Logline (provided by The Black List): “The life story and tragic early death of Jim Henson, creator of the Muppets.”

Read "Black List Script #1: The Muppet Man by Christopher Weekes" »

Posted by D. B. Bates at 5:10 PM | Print-Friendly | Comments (4) | Script Reviews, Reviews

December 8, 2009

Script Review: The Lovely Bones by Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens & Peter Jackson

[In lieu of actual content, for the next several weeks I will present, at least, one review of an upcoming film each week. These are scripts that I’ve been paid money to read, and many of them contain watermarking, identification numbers, password-protection, and other ways of tracking what company it was sent to; because of this and my desire to keep my job, I will not offer downloads for ANY of the scripts I review here. Don’t bother asking.]

Like Fight Club, The Lovely Bones reads like the kind of thing that would be aces as a novel but might not exactly work on film. Plenty of people argue with me, but I stand by it: the “o btw i r u” “twist” in Fight Club just doesn’t work on film. You can do a lot in cinema with point of view, but I find more often than not that attempts at “unreliable narrator” stories in film turn out more like a cheap betrayal than a legitimate shocking twist. A novel can provide a true first-person narrator experience, allowing the reader to take the journey through the eyes of a single person. If that narrator discovers he has a second personality that he happens to believe is a real person, the reader discovers this right along with them, and it’s a shocking twist. Movies with unreliable narrator twists frequently portray it in exactly the same way: a long-winded explanation accompanied by an unintentionally hilarious montage with people/objects flitting in or out of existence to illustrate the fragile mental state of the character. Fight Club makes it even more hilarious by including eye-rollingly ridiculous moments like Edward Norton beating himself up while confused onlookers watch…and for some reason decide to follow a man who’s clearly out of his mind? Ugh…

Face it: no matter how you tell the story, short of making it a 90-minute POV shot loaded with internal-thought voiceovers, no film can tell a first-person story. At best, it’s third-person limited, but more frequently it’s third-person omniscient. Even with voiceover narration, it’s virtually impossible to sell an unreliable narrator story on film. (The Usual Suspects comes closest by showing its unreliable narrator’s non-insane motivations to weave a bullshit tale.)

Read "Script Review: The Lovely Bones by Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens & Peter Jackson" »

Posted by D. B. Bates at 10:29 PM | Print-Friendly | Comments (0) | Script Reviews, Reviews

December 21, 2009

Black List Script #6: Londongrad by David Scarpa

MAJOR DISCLAIMER: Since these scripts, bought or not, are currently unproduced and/or in the midst of long, tedious development processes, they may not make it to the screen for up to three years, if ever. You should know that the synopsis contains MASSIVE, EARTH-SHATTERING SPOILERS, even though this screenplay may not resemble the finished film (if any) in any way. Read at your own risk.
Secondary Disclaimer: I refer to what follows as “coverage” by the loosest definition of that term. In keeping with this blog’s tradition, I’ve crammed the notes so full of rancorous rants, it’s 1/10th as concise as actual coverage, almost falling into the category of a review. However, since I’ve included the loglines and a detailed synopsis, it’s close enough to coverage for my purposes. Deal with it.

Logline (provided by The Black List): “Based on the book by Alan Cowell. The story of the life and subsequent poisoning death of Alexander Litvinenko, a former officer of the Russian Federal Security Service, who escaped prosecution in Russia and received political asylum in the United Kingdom.”

Read "Black List Script #6: Londongrad by David Scarpa" »

Posted by D. B. Bates at 5:15 PM | Print-Friendly | Comments (0) | Script Reviews, Reviews

December 18, 2009

Black List Script #5: Cedar Rapids by Phil Johnston

MAJOR DISCLAIMER: Since these scripts, bought or not, are currently unproduced and/or in the midst of long, tedious development processes, they may not make it to the screen for up to three years, if ever. You should know that the synopsis contains MASSIVE, EARTH-SHATTERING SPOILERS, even though this screenplay may not resemble the finished film (if any) in any way. Read at your own risk.

Secondary Disclaimer: I refer to what follows as “coverage” by the loosest definition of that term. In keeping with this blog’s tradition, I’ve crammed the notes so full of rancorous rants, it’s 1/10th as concise as actual coverage, almost falling into the category of a review. However, since I’ve included the loglines and a detailed synopsis, it’s close enough to coverage for my purposes. Deal with it.

Comically Long Logline (provided by The Black List): “After his co-worker dies from auto-erotic asphyxiation, an emotionally stunted insurance salesman from small town Wisconsin takes the man’s place at the division insurance convention in Iowa City, IA, only to find himself coming out of his shell as he bonds with his fellow conventioneers and gradually uncovers a money laundering scheme involving his employer.”

Read "Black List Script #5: Cedar Rapids by Phil Johnston" »

Posted by D. B. Bates at 5:14 PM | Print-Friendly | Comments (0) | Script Reviews, Reviews

December 16, 2009

Black List Script #3: The Voices by Michael R. Perry

MAJOR DISCLAIMER: Since these scripts, bought or not, are currently unproduced and/or in the midst of long, tedious development processes, they may not make it to the screen for up to three years, if ever. You should know that the synopsis contains MASSIVE, EARTH-SHATTERING SPOILERS, even though this screenplay may not resemble the finished film (if any) in any way. Read at your own risk.
Secondary Disclaimer: I refer to what follows as “coverage” by the loosest definition of that term. In keeping with this blog’s tradition, I’ve crammed the notes so full of rancorous rants, it’s 1/10th as concise as actual coverage, almost falling into the category of a review. However, since I’ve included the loglines and a detailed synopsis, it’s close enough to coverage for my purposes. Deal with it.

Logline (provided by The Black List): “A disturbed man attempts to walk the straight-and-narrow while receiving advice from his ‘talking’ pets.”

Read "Black List Script #3: The Voices by Michael R. Perry" »

Posted by D. B. Bates at 5:13 PM | Print-Friendly | Comments (0) | Script Reviews, Reviews

December 15, 2009

Black List Script #2: The Social Network by Aaron Sorkin

MAJOR DISCLAIMER: Since these scripts, bought or not, are currently unproduced and/or in the midst of long, tedious development processes, they may not make it to the screen for up to three years, if ever. You should know that the synopsis contains MASSIVE, EARTH-SHATTERING SPOILERS, even though this screenplay may not resemble the finished film (if any) in any way. Read at your own risk.

Secondary Disclaimer: I refer to what follows as “coverage” by the loosest definition of that term. In keeping with this blog’s tradition, I’ve crammed the notes so full of rancorous rants, it’s 1/10th as concise as actual coverage, almost falling into the category of a review. However, since I’ve included the loglines and a detailed synopsis, it’s close enough to coverage for my purposes. Deal with it.

Logline (provided by The Black List): “The story of the founders of the social networking website Facebook and how overnight success and wealth changed their lives.”

Read "Black List Script #2: The Social Network by Aaron Sorkin" »

Posted by D. B. Bates at 5:12 PM | Print-Friendly | Comments (0) | Script Reviews, Reviews

December 17, 2009

Black List Script #4: Prisoners by Aaron Guzikowski

MAJOR DISCLAIMER: Since these scripts, bought or not, are currently unproduced and/or in the midst of long, tedious development processes, they may not make it to the screen for up to three years, if ever. You should know that the synopsis contains MASSIVE, EARTH-SHATTERING SPOILERS, even though this screenplay may not resemble the finished film (if any) in any way. Read at your own risk.

Secondary Disclaimer: I refer to what follows as “coverage” by the loosest definition of that term. In keeping with this blog’s tradition, I’ve crammed the notes so full of rancorous rants, it’s 1/10th as concise as actual coverage, almost falling into the category of a review. However, since I’ve included the loglines and a detailed synopsis, it’s close enough to coverage for my purposes. Deal with it.

Comically Long Logline (provided by The Black List): “After his six-year-old daughter and her friend are kidnapped, a small town carpenter butts heads with a young, brash detective in charge of the investigation. Feeling failed by the law, he captures the man he believes responsible, holding him captive in a desperate attempt to find out what he did with the girls, whom he’s convinced are still alive. But the further he’s forced to go to get the man to confess, the closer he comes to losing his soul.”

Read "Black List Script #4: Prisoners by Aaron Guzikowski" »

Posted by D. B. Bates at 5:13 PM | Print-Friendly | Comments (1) | Script Reviews, Reviews

December 22, 2009

Black List Script #7: L.A. Rex by Will Beall

MAJOR DISCLAIMER: Since these scripts, bought or not, are currently unproduced and/or in the midst of long, tedious development processes, they may not make it to the screen for up to three years, if ever. You should know that the synopsis contains MASSIVE, EARTH-SHATTERING SPOILERS, even though this screenplay may not resemble the finished film (if any) in any way. Read at your own risk.
Secondary Disclaimer: I refer to what follows as “coverage” by the loosest definition of that term. In keeping with this blog’s tradition, I’ve crammed the notes so full of rancorous rants, it’s 1/10th as concise as actual coverage, almost falling into the category of a review. However, since I’ve included the loglines and a detailed synopsis, it’s close enough to coverage for my purposes. Deal with it.

Logline (provided by The Black List): “Based on the author’s book of the same name. A young gangster goes to work in the LAPD as a mole investigating a crime against the head of the Mexican mafia but learns more about justice than he expected from his seasoned partner.”

Read "Black List Script #7: L.A. Rex by Will Beall" »

Posted by D. B. Bates at 5:15 PM | Print-Friendly | Comments (0) | Script Reviews, Reviews

December 24, 2009

Black List Script #9: The Gunslinger by John Hlavin

MAJOR DISCLAIMER: Since these scripts, bought or not, are currently unproduced and/or in the midst of long, tedious development processes, they may not make it to the screen for up to three years, if ever. You should know that the synopsis contains MASSIVE, EARTH-SHATTERING SPOILERS, even though this screenplay may not resemble the finished film (if any) in any way. Read at your own risk.
Secondary Disclaimer: I refer to what follows as “coverage” by the loosest definition of that term. In keeping with this blog’s tradition, I’ve crammed the notes so full of rancorous rants, it’s 1/10th as concise as actual coverage, almost falling into the category of a review. However, since I’ve included the loglines and a detailed synopsis, it’s close enough to coverage for my purposes. Deal with it.

Logline (provided by The Black List): “A tough ex-Texas Ranger has unfinished business with the Mexican gangsters who tortured his brother to death, and when they kidnap his brother’s young son, he comes after them with everything he has got.”

Read "Black List Script #9: The Gunslinger by John Hlavin" »

Posted by D. B. Bates at 5:16 PM | Print-Friendly | Comments (1) | Script Reviews, Reviews

December 23, 2009

Black List Script #8: Desperados by Ellen Rapoport

MAJOR DISCLAIMER: Since these scripts, bought or not, are currently unproduced and/or in the midst of long, tedious development processes, they may not make it to the screen for up to three years, if ever. You should know that the synopsis contains MASSIVE, EARTH-SHATTERING SPOILERS, even though this screenplay may not resemble the finished film (if any) in any way. Read at your own risk.
Secondary Disclaimer: I refer to what follows as “coverage” by the loosest definition of that term. In keeping with this blog’s tradition, I’ve crammed the notes so full of rancorous rants, it’s 1/10th as concise as actual coverage, almost falling into the category of a review. However, since I’ve included the loglines and a detailed synopsis, it’s close enough to coverage for my purposes. Deal with it.

Logline (provided by The Black List): “After a woman sends an indignant email to her new beau, who’s gone radio silent postsex, she discovers he’s comatose in a Mexican hospital and races south of the border with her friends in tow to intercept the email before he recovers.”

Read "Black List Script #8: Desperados by Ellen Rapoport" »

Posted by D. B. Bates at 5:16 PM | Print-Friendly | Comments (4) | Script Reviews, Reviews

December 25, 2009

Black List Script #10A: By Way of Helena by Matt Cook

MAJOR DISCLAIMER: Since these scripts, bought or not, are currently unproduced and/or in the midst of long, tedious development processes, they may not make it to the screen for up to three years, if ever. You should know that the synopsis contains MASSIVE, EARTH-SHATTERING SPOILERS, even though this screenplay may not resemble the finished film (if any) in any way. Read at your own risk.
Secondary Disclaimer: I refer to what follows as “coverage” by the loosest definition of that term. In keeping with this blog’s tradition, I’ve crammed the notes so full of rancorous rants, it’s 1/10th as concise as actual coverage, almost falling into the category of a review. However, since I’ve included the loglines and a detailed synopsis, it’s close enough to coverage for my purposes. Deal with it.

Logline (provided by The Black List): “A Texas Ranger and his wife move to a frontier town to investigate the disappearance of Mexicans in the area, and soon find themselves caught in the cult of personality that rules the area.”

Read "Black List Script #10A: By Way of Helena by Matt Cook" »

Posted by D. B. Bates at 5:16 PM | Print-Friendly | Comments (1) | Script Reviews, Reviews

Black List Script #10B: The Days Before by Chad St. John

MAJOR DISCLAIMER: Since these scripts, bought or not, are currently unproduced and/or in the midst of long, tedious development processes, they may not make it to the screen for up to three years, if ever. You should know that the synopsis contains MASSIVE, EARTH-SHATTERING SPOILERS, even though this screenplay may not resemble the finished film (if any) in any way. Read at your own risk.
Secondary Disclaimer: I refer to what follows as “coverage” by the loosest definition of that term. In keeping with this blog’s tradition, I’ve crammed the notes so full of rancorous rants, it’s 1/10th as concise as actual coverage, almost falling into the category of a review. However, since I’ve included the loglines and a detailed synopsis, it’s close enough to coverage for my purposes. Deal with it.

Logline (provided by The Black List): “A man who possesses a time travel device uses it to go back in time to prevent an alien invasion.”

Read "Black List Script #10B: The Days Before by Chad St. John" »

Posted by D. B. Bates at 7:16 PM | Print-Friendly | Comments (3) | Script Reviews, Reviews

Black List 2009 – Black Christmas Wrap-Up

To recap:

  • The Muppet Man — A dreadful script that manages to dramatize much of Jim Henson’s life without ever providing any insight into what drove him to create.
  • The Social Network — A quick, compelling read thanks to Sorkin’s ease with generating conflict and suspense almost entirely through well-written dialogue. The script also wisely focuses on Mark Zuckerberg and the other people involved in the foundation of Facebook more than the story of its founding.
  • The Voices — A flat-out great script — funny, insightful, tragic, and brilliant. One of the best scripts I’ve ever read. If it can make it through development unscathed, it’ll be one hell of a movie.
  • Prisoners — Too much intricately plotted story, too little anything else.
  • Cedar Rapids — A mild-mannered but genuinely funny comedy. As a frequent visitor of Cedar Rapids, it’s nice to see a story set there that doesn’t condescend to what idiots assume “flyover country” responds to.
  • Londongrad — One hell of a dull docudrama, telling an interesting story in a remarkably lifeless way.
  • L.A. Rex — A convoluted yet hackneyed look at policing in South Central L.A. Full of everything you’d expect and little you wouldn’t (I didn’t see the pit sequence coming, so they have that going for them): gangsters with ties to celebrities, dirty cops, a veteran partnered with a rookie.
  • Desperados — A bland but genial comedy that suffers from an overdose of Idiot Plot.
  • The GunslingerDull Country for Old Men
  • By Way of Helena — An historical drama that manages to combine three of my favorite subjects (religious battles, post-Civil War America, and hunting men for sport) without making any effort to make the subjects compelling
  • The Days Before — A sci-fi comedy that gets off on its own cleverness, which is particularly irksome because the script is not as clever as it thinks it is. It’s pretty much just Independence Day with a darker edge and time travel.

Read "Black List 2009 – Black Christmas Wrap-Up" »

Posted by D. B. Bates at 7:16 PM | Print-Friendly | Comments (1) | Script Reviews, Reviews

December 11, 2009

Surprise Script Review: A Single Man by Tom Ford and David Scearce

Script Download Link: None Available (sorry, kiddies, I’m not risking my neck just to placate you, and I couldn’t find a download anywhere else online) [Although I mostly agree with John August, I am offering this script download because my not-entirely-captive audience has threatened to abandon me if I don’t start “offering downloads like Carson.” It is not for educational purposes. It’s for the purpose of placating people who want to feel good that they know more about an upcoming movie than their plebeian friends and coworkers. If anyone affiliated with this production requests that I remove the link, I won’t lose any sleep over it. Just send an e-mail to the address on the sidebar.]

Note: I would have posted this earlier than the date of its release, but I honestly forgot about this project until I saw a bunch of reviews pop up last night, which doesn’t bode well, right?

Adapted by legendary fashion icon Tom Ford (who, apparently, self-financed the entire project) and David Scearce from the semi-iconic 1964 Christopher Isherwood novel, A Single Man is one of those scripts that lives and dies based solely on the actors selected to play the roles. Ford (who also directed) could have done worse than Colin Firth and Julianne Moore, but still, I feel compelled to examine this phenomenon of “the right actor” saving an otherwise dismal project.

Read "Surprise Script Review: A Single Man by Tom Ford and David Scearce" »

Posted by D. B. Bates at 5:20 PM | Print-Friendly | Comments (0) | Script Reviews, Reviews

Black List 2009

Say, these aren’t the best scripts. They’re just the “most liked.” Because why would anyone like the best scripts the most? That’s crazy talk!

As I did last year, I intend to cover the top 10 on this blog over the course of the next two weeks — one a day, starting with The Muppet Man (because I love biopics!), ending with By Way of Helena. This schedule assumes, of course, that these scripts don’t disillusion or enrage me to such a degree that I give up on life altogether.

THE BLACK LIST was compiled from the suggestions of over 300 film executives, each of whom contributed the names of up to ten of their favorite scripts that were written in, or are somehow uniquely associated with, 2009 and will not be released in theaters during this calendar year.

This year, scripts had to be mentioned at least five times to be included on THE BLACK LIST.

All reasonable effort has been made to confirm the information contained herein. THE BLACK LIST apologizes for all misspellings, misattributions, incorrect representation identification, inelegant loglines, and questionable “2009” affiliations.

It has been said many times, but it’s always worth repeating:

THE BLACK LIST is not a “best of” list. It is, at best, a “most liked” list.

I see little reason to list all the scripts mentioned when you can just download the PDF.

Posted by D. B. Bates at 2:29 PM | Print-Friendly | Comments (0) | Script Reviews, Reviews

December 5, 2009

Suspicious Script

Last week, I read a script that made me a tad uncomfortable. It attempted, very ineptly, to capitalize on the recent-but-not-as-recent-as-the-writer-thinks poker craze. I don’t claim to be a cigar-chomping cardsharp, but I know this: a 52-card deck does not contain any “1” cards. That’s more than the writer of this script, who explains that an “Ace is the best card you can get. Then it’s King, Queen, Jack, Ten, Nine, Eight…down to One, usually.” Usually.

Several things got my gears going as I read this script. First: I received it the day before Thanksgiving. Usually, the Murdstone & Grinby Company is shuttered for the whole holiday week (plus the Monday after), so getting a script during an unofficial coverage dead zone concerned me. Also irritated me, because while the extra cash is nice, it’s still the day before Thanksgiving, and I’m fucking lazy.

Second: something about it felt off, in an indefinable way. Sure, it had the same very definable problems from which other scripts suffer (notably one-dimensional characters and a nonsensical third act), but something about the diction didn’t feel right. It felt less like a dramatic work than a loudmouth guy at the end of the bar saying, “Hey, buddy. Yeah, you — you know what’d be a good idea for a movie?” before elucidating a ramshackle stream-of-consciousness narrative that felt more like a working-class fever dream than a piece of writing. I don’t just mean it had a conversational style. The only thing separating it from the guy at the end of the bar was a lot of “No, no — just hear me out” asides. ‘Twas a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. Emphasis on the “idiot” part.

Read "Suspicious Script" »

Posted by D. B. Bates at 5:05 PM | Print-Friendly | Comments (1) | Blog Posts, Murdstone & Grinby, The Reader

December 3, 2009

Morality and The Next Three Days

This post exists primarily to expound, in spoiler-tastic detail, on a comment I wrote in response to ScriptShadow’s review of Paul Haggis’s latest script, The Next Three Days. For those too lazy to click the link, The Next Three Days focuses primarily on a character hellbent on breaking his wife out of prison in order to reunite his family. Whether or not his wife actually committed the crime — the murder of her boss — remains a mystery throughout the script.

[The spoilers start after the jump, so don’t say I didn’t warn you…]

Read "Morality and The Next Three Days" »

Posted by D. B. Bates at 5:23 PM | Print-Friendly | Comments (0) | Screenwriting Articles, The Writer