Wednesday, 7 March 2012

In the Looper

o A spec script (speculative screenplay) -  a screenplay for a movie that is shopped or sold on the open market, as opposed to one commissioned by a studio or production company.
My time of late has been occupied reading and getting copies of some of the Black List spec scripts which Hollywood producers rate as being the pick of the crop. It started about 7 years ago with a Producer struggling to find good screenplays by emailing his friends in the industry and having them email him a list of their favourite unproduced screenplays. This list has contained titles such as Juno, The Social Network, The King’s Speech and The Descendants. You can view each of the Black Lists on

Of the still unproduced screenplays, the following seem to be generating some serious buzz, many of which are already in pre-production. The best of these titles include Looper, Django Unchained, Peach Trees, The Last Son of Isaac Lemay, Cogan’s Trade, The Wettest County, Broken City, Big Hole, Seven Psychopaths, Stoker, The Dogs of Babel, Killing on Carnival Row, Kitchen Sink, Y: The Last Man, All You Need is Kill, White Jazz, Killing Pablo, The Gunslinger, The Counselor, The Imitation Game, Father Daughter Time: A Tale of Armed Robbery and Eskimo Kisses, Jackie, College Republicans and Bethlehem. I have only touched on the last couple of years of chosen scripts, and there are many more which could be worth a look. The aforementioned are the most exciting I have seen based on their two line description. Many of the scripts from the list have been analysed on ace blog site for your perusal.

So far, I have only ever read a handful of scripts, my first being Inglourious Basterds a couple of years back before the movie was released in the UK. Since then, I have also read Brick, Looper, Django Unchained, and am currently reading Peach Trees – Alex Garland’s reworking of Judge Dredd (named after one of the ubiquitous Mega Blocks). I can tell you now that Looper and Django are absolutely superb – Looper just pipping Django to the post. Rian Johnson’s futuristic hitman movie is a real treat: *light spoilers* the titular Loopers are present day assassins who are sent their targets by the mob 30 years in the future. This works well for the mob, who live in a time when time-travel is available (although illegal) and the disposal of bodies almost impossible. The time travel assassination process is the perfect answer to their needs. The Loopers wait in a set location and using their blunderbuss’, and pop a cap in the ass of whoever arrives at the spot in a whirlwind of time travel. Then dispose the bodies in a furnace. Easy. However, this process becomes complicated when one of the mob of the future become implicated in their illegal activities and have to ‘close the loop’. This involves sending the older Looper back in time only to be killed by their younger self. The young Looper receives a large retirement payoff, knowing they now only have 30 years left to live. When the protagonist Joe accidentally lets his older-self escape from closing the loop, the city Gatmen (mob enforcers) headed by the macabre Abe are after him; both his younger and older self.
The plot is so fantastically-well constructed that it has moved to my Number One Most Anticipated Movie of 2012. I won’t go into more detail about the plot at risk of having some studio bigwig blow up my blog, but things get messy and the narrative focus shifts between different characters as the plot unravels.

Tarantino’s latest, Django Unchained is definitely one of his best works. Before going on to give a bit of information, below are my Tarantino films in order of preference:
1. Inglourious Basterds
2. Pulp Fiction
3. Kill Bill
4. Kill Bill 2
5. Reservoir Dogs
6. Jackie Brown
7. Death Proof
Once Django Unchained is released, I can see the above titles all moving down one spot.
*light spoilers* The story sees Django, a black slave in America being saved by a German Dentist Bounty Hunter named Dr. Schultz (a part so clearly written for Christoph Waltz) after being bought and chained at a local slave market. After helping Schultz Django sets his heart on going to save his imprisoned wife, but first he must learn to fit. The two become partners roaming America as the Doctor teaches Django the skills of bounty hunting, and he soon becomes a sharp as shit gunslinger. Eventually this leads to the main task at hand, rescuing Django’s wife Broomhilda from the evil clutches of slave-driver and pimp Calvin Candie, from his despicable ranch, Candyland. Our two heroes set off on this quest, and Tarantino really falls into his stride. The supporting characters are awesome (and the names rock – Kurt Russell is playing Ace Woody, Leo DiCaprio is Calvin Candy), and like his previous works, there are plenty of great tidbits in the script akin to the famous ‘burger chat’ scene in Pulp Fiction. It’s an excellent story with a great ending – fans of the auteur director won’t be disappointed with Tarantino’s true Western outing.
Following on from the script talk above, below are my Most Anticipated Movies of 2012 (subject actual release date being this year!):

1. Looper
2. Prometheus
3. The Dark Knight Rises
4. Django Unchained
5. The Last Son of Isaac Lemay
6. The Wettest County
7. Cogan’s Trade
8. Peach Trees (aka. Dredd)
9. The Gangster Squad
10. Moonrise Kingdom
11. Skyfall
12. The Hobbit
13. The Master
14. Argo
15. Total Recall

Once I have finished reading Peach Trees (and then The Wettest County or Seven Psychopaths) I will do a similar report on the gist of the film(s) and how they’re looking. It goes without saying that many of these scripts will be rewritten to death before production, but then again, they may not. There are however scripts that neither love, money (nor huge amounts of web time) will help you find – The Last Son of Issac Lemay being one of them. The tagline: “An aging outlaw convinced that there is evil in his genes goes on a journey to kill off his offspring. In the process, he discovers that his last remaining son is a terrifying manifestation of his worst fears.” ScriptShadow reports that the film is very bloody and violent, with a few Tarantino-esque moments by the sounds of things, but that tagline just makes me shiver with expectation. I’m pleased that I can’t get hold of the script, because it sounds very visceral and gritty, so may be better watched on screen for the first time. The same goes for plenty of other future films – Prometheus, The Hobbit, Dark Knight Rises – which I wouldn’t even try to get the scripts for; some stones are better left unturned. Drop your email below and I will get a brother of a mate of a mate to maybe possibly email you a script…

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