Falling Down, the title coming from the nursery rhyme “London Bride is falling down”, is about a regular man (Michael Douglas) who’s has had enough. He’s in his car, stuck in traffic, in the heat, with no air conditioning. And all he wants is to go home. But, this traffic just won’t budge. So, he decides to abandon his car, and walk home. And thus this Homer’s Odyssesy begins.
Another man, a policeman just about to retire, literally his last day at work, also wants to go home. Kind of. He just wants to finish his last day at work. He’s determined to finish it, in spite of the people he works with, and in spite of his wife who just wants him to knock off early.
The first man also has a wife, albeit an ex-wife, and a daughter, who’s birthday it is today. And this man just wants to attend his daughter’s birthday. It’s just that so many things get in his way. And when something gets in his way, he has a tendency to remove the problem.
And thus the stage is set for this update on “Taxi Driver”. A film about a good guy, who does some pretty bad things. Or a bad guy who thinks he’s the good guy. Or both.
It’s an angry film. A very angry film. And it’s also a good one. It was in competition at the Cannes Film Festival, and just lost out on the top prize to “Pulp Fiction”. Possibly because “Pulp Fiction” has a very fresh feeling about it. Whereas “Falling Down” feels as if it were made much earlier. Back in the second golden age of film in the 1970s. The only give away that this film was made in the early 90s is the soundtrack. That’s the one part when you watch it today that really sticks out at you like a sore thumb. It’s sounds like it was lifted right out of “Kindergarten Cop” at times. The racism also sticks out at you. At the same time, those scenes feel very real. And we need real people in cinema. Even if we don’t always like them. Because even though the character is a racist, the film isn’t. It doesn’t show casual racism as being a good thing (Australia – take note), and it puts it’s money where it’s mouth it. Among the police are people from all walks of life, and when the detective tries to pass off one Asian man for another, the film calls them on it.
The interesting thing about this film for me, is the people behind it. It is arguably the best work of the Writer, Lead Actor, and the Director himself. Joel Schumacher, the infamous director of “Batman and Robin”, pulls out a tight angry little film. Every scene is perfect. Coverage is fantastic. All actors perfectly cast. Including the surprise casting of Michael Douglas, who excels in this film like no other film he has ever done before or since. A powerhouse performance. The calm business like exterior, hiding, but not quite hiding, the bubbling rage beneath. And the writer, Ebbe Roe Smith, an actor himself with over forty four acting credits on IMDB, only has three writing credits. A well received short film made for TV, next comes “Falling Down”, and after that, is “Car 54, where are you?” – a film with only a 2.4 rating on IMDB. So, you know what that means – even his family and friends didn’t like that one. A cop comedy staring Fran Drescher and Rosie O’Donnell is a pretty interesting follow-up to the 90s answer to “Taxi Driver”. And after that, nothing. I guess he just had nothing left to say after “Falling Down”.
“Falling Down” is an unforgettable film, from three men who have never quite managed to repeat it’s success.
And it’s my pick for Netflix this week.
See the trailer:
That’s right folks. ‘An American Piano’ will be a part of the “Short Film Corner” program.
Everyone has talent. What is rare is the courage to follow the talent to the dark places where it leads.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to make a horror movie… even though I couldn’t encourage you to do it more – the Horror community are the most open, friendly, supportive fans out there.
What it means, as my improv teacher at the Tokyo Comedy Store once said, “audiences want you [the characters] to walk into the danger”. They want to see you do what they fear to. For a writer, that means the courage to face your demons, and write about it with truth, and candour.
Success follows truth.
Directed by award-winning filmmaker Paul Leeming, “An American Piano” is based on the extraordinary true story of a young Japanese girl, Youko Koshida, who played the piano for Prisoners of War during World War II and how it affected their lives.
War is only possible when the enemy is dehumanised. “An American Piano” is a story of humanity, compassion and the universality of music in helping to heal the rifts between wartime rivals.
Starring Lou Ohshiba, Adam J. Yeend, Qyoko Kudo, Jun Matsuo and introducing Leon Masuda.
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Originally posted on Gideon's Screenwriting Tips: So Now You're a Screenwriter...:
Words of wisdom from BOSI.
1) Be prepared to meet always-questioning, confused investors/executives. Many times folks with lots of loot, power, and influence aren’t the most creative people. So help them get inside your brain. Put together storyboards, have drawings, play music, do a puppet show, anything. Well, maybe not a puppet show.
2) Be tenacious. In order to get the meeting, you need to hit up everyone you know and even more people you don’t. Call them.
3) Meet the right people. You should know before you start knocking on doors who the most likely targets are. What network would put your idea on TV? What studio makes like-minded movies? What investor has put money into these types of projects?
4) Be confident but don’t be arrogant. If you’re gracious and open, even if they say no, they will keep you in mind for other projects.
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