Films I have been watching…

As the UKs most in demand script consultant, I’ve been very busy getting my feature film debut as a director Markham finished and ready to release (find out how you can buy Markham here).

But, as always, I’ve also been watching a lot of films, some new, some old, but there’s always something to learn.  Here’s a quick round-up of what I’ve been watching…

Whiplash (2014)

As a script writer for hire, UK Script editor  and UK script consultant I sometimes find my role is to teach other people about script writing, stories, how to write scenes, why something’s works and something’s don’t.

Whiplash is about a teacher and a pupil, but it’s not a healthy relationship, in fact, it’s slightly psychotic.  And this is one of the great films about ‘obsession’. The surprising thing about Whiplash is the ending, which manages to be both insane and inspiring at the same time.  A great film.

The Verdict (1982)

Great wintery camera work, Paul Newman struggling with alcoholism, and a court case that seems impossible to win.  Sidney Lumet’s The Verdict is one of the great Newman performances, a character study that sits back and let’s Newman struggle with a glass in his hand and then later without.

The film ends on of one of those great courtroom twists.  There’s not much plot at all, but it’s a pleasure seeing Newman he slowly regains his conscience and his self respect.

Knives Out (2019)

It’s fun, frivolous, and has some very good performances.  It was also a surprise box office smash, which shows that people love a ‘who done it’.  I enjoyed the production design.  The house where most of the film is set is a production designer’s dream.

The Lighthouse (2019)

At times, the look of the movie reminded me of my own film Markham.  The performances are fine, but gradually the film lost its grip and became too repetitive.  Still, the actors must have relished the chance to play with such characterisations, and the film is grand to look at.  A must see for salty sea dogs of the old school.

Three Days of the Condor (1975)

Olden but golden. This conspiracy thriller is a great ride, and worth watching for Max von Sydow alone. The love story is forced and doesn’t ring true, but the rest of the story works fine.  Some superb New York locations are used, and from time to time the suspense is racked up pretty well.  The new Blu-ray has a fabulous transfer. It’s not ‘Day of the Jackal’ or even ‘Marathon Man’ but it’s of that ilk for fans of this type of film (and  I am).

The Hot Rock (1972)

On sunny days he wrote as Donald Westlake, when it rained he wrote as Richard Stark.  This script was the product of a few sunny day, and it’s an enjoyable heist romp – old fashioned and featuring excellent performances.   The caper is jauntily played by cast and director.

Heist (2001)

Gene Hackman, a Mamet script and direction.  It’s another caper picture, but more a rainy day one, plenty of plot twists and bits of business with dialogue (it’s Mamet after all).  Enjoyable enough with some excellent performances (Delroy Lindo is sooo underrated). Finally, doesn’t add up to much but very watchable while it’s playing out.

The Package (1989)

Another olden but golden, director Andrew Davies would go onto bigger and better action pictures but this plays well with a conspiracy theme, some good old fashioned intrigue and Tommy Lee and Gene play well off each other – both tough guy actors deserve more screen time together.

And that it’s it for the round-up. 

Matthew Cooper has been a script writer for hire, UK Script editor  and UK script consultant for over 20 years. He’s written for most of the UK soaps, including writing award-winning episodes of Emmerdale, EastEnders, Hollyoaks and Family Affairs and has been BAFTA shortlisted and Royal Television Society nominated as a script writer. His UK script coverage service, Script reading service and script development service are highly sought after.

You can find some of his broadcast credits on the IMDb.

You can contact Matthew directly to purchase his ebook The UK Soap Opera Script Writers Handbook.

His directorial debut, the rubber reality horror thriller Markham will be released in 2020. You can find out more about Matthew’s work as a director here.

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