REVIEW- Snowpiercer (a film by Joon Ho Bong)

From the opening montage setting the world in which you will spend the next mind bending 90 minutes, you get that frosty little tingling in the base of your seat that slices it’s way up your spine, crashing through the pan of your skull like a Kelvinesque sliver of ice…

Snowpiercer is a great ride!

Based on the 1982 French graphic novel Le Transperceneige, which was just released in the US in 2014, the story has been updated and bit and rendered in a way that sucks you in from the first frames.

It’s been a long time since I’ve seen a SciFi epic that focused on story and characters instead of glitzy special effects. Don’t get me wrong. Snowpiercer is beautiful; from it’s terrifying vision of a world gone cold to the dark and sometimes shocking interiors of the namesake train. This movie hits you in the guts and yanks them out on the tip of a molecularly sharp fire ax. In short; it forces you to engage your brain as you shit your pants on the rollercoaster.

Without giving too much away, we open with a short flashback on an attempted fix to global warming (oh don’t groan, no preaching. Just a set up) which has backfired sending the entire Earth into a global deep freeze (a la Snowball Earth) for the past 17 years. All life on the planet has died off except for this tiny microcosm; The Snowpiercer. An indestructible, titanium alloy, nuclear powered supertrain a mile long and rocketing around the entire Earth once per year to avoid freezing in place. Crammed onboard are humanity’s (and the planet’s) lucky survivors who managed to obtain a first class ticket or alternately, passage in the back end steerage section. Ripe for a class war to emerge.

Packed in the rear, like cattle, living in squalor and subject to Nazi like fascist military treatment from the “Fronters”, “Those From the Back” plot their coup to overthrow their oppressors and battle their way, car by car, to the “Engine” where they imagine, salvation and God awaits. The notion is clear as all great thought provoking SciFi should be, this is a metaphor about class struggle in the world, between the haves and the have-nots. Those that strive to bind and those that will shed their last drop of blood to break those bonds.

In this case the director has done a brilliant job to mash up the entire world into the a few cars of a speeding train. A horrific vision of all of humanity, represented here and like specimens in a petri dish, we are riveted and helpless to turn away as they bleed and evolve before our eyes…a “Mad Max” Darwinian social experiment with its finger smashed permanently on fast-forward reminiscent of the work of an early William Gibson.

Be warned, this is NOT just a mindless action film. There is a deep and profound theme and mystery entwined in the plot as Curtis (Chris Evans- Captain American), in one of his best performances, leads his group of rag-tag rebels on a hell bent mission to take the engine. And as each car is breeched… as each drop of blood spatters to the deck, new clues and new twists are encountered until final assault when all becomes startlingly clear.

I highly recommend Snowpiercer and hope you get a chance to see it in a theater packed with other people if only to enjoy the sighs and gasps of your fellow travelers in this visionary consensual hallucination. As of this writing it has been slated for only limited viewings in the US.

(Chris Evans, John Hurt, Tilda Swinton, Ed Harris, Octavia Spencer, Kang-Ho Song, Jamie Bell…)


Mike Palma

Head Scribbler

ScreenPens, Ltd.

Review: Third Person (a film by Paul Haggis)

I had the unique pleasure to attend a small intimate viewing of Paul Haggis’ new film, Third Person, this past Thursday night at the newly renovated Picture House Theater in Pelham NY. A quaint 500 something seat revitalization of a wonderful era past. The perfect place to view this film which works to recreate the thought provoking multi-plot film style of  the 1970’s; Hollywood’s last Golden Age. This is a favorite time of mine when maverick filmmakers like Scorsese, strove to break from the cliche ridden, mind numbing political (and sexual) correctness of the previous eras.

We, the audience, are the titular “Third Person” baring witness to this rich multi-plot narrative (similar to Haggis’ Academy Award winning Crash) which follows three intertwined stories subtly related to each other and which thematically explore the same ground; Infidelity. Infidelity in not just in the pedestrian sexual or marital terms we see in most commercial films but in the deep, gut wrenching, core foundation of all infidelities… The breaking of Human Trust.  The film probes the knife point question: What chance does love have without trust?

The  primary story line follows Michael (Liam Neeson)…

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Interview: Indie Rockers LOVE CRUSHED VELVET

ScreenPens Interview with the hot Indie music band “LOVE CRUSHED VELVET.

SP: What drove you to get into music; Hate 9-5 gigs, an artist, a dark obsession?

LCV: I studied piano as a pre-teen and foolishly gave it up when facial hair started appearing. Then when I was 17, I heard some punk music blasting out of my radio one night and I got hooked, bought a guitar a week later and basically taught myself to sing and play. I never thought of making music in the context of a career, per se. It’s something that I wanted to do, one way or another.

LCV: (9-5?)I am less against 9-5 than I am about living a rigid corporate life. That would be a slow, bleeding death. Structure in and of itself is not a terrible thing, although most of us bohemians play homage to railing against it.

LCV: (An Artist?) There’s always a particular artist involved.

LCV: (Dark Obsession?) There are certain elements of our personalities and lives that can only be expressed and touched musically. Sometimes those can be bright and happy elements. LOVE CRUSHED VELVET is not about bright and happy. LOVE CRUSHED VELVET comes from a seductive yet slightly dangerous place. We are not on the dark side, but love to flirt with it.

SP: Your song “Love Crush” has a driving retro 80’s back beat. A lot like Billy Idol. Is this intentional?


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Christopher Nolan Sued by Donald Duck?

We’ve all seen “Inception” the astounding, mind bending film by Christopher Nolan. Many critics have waxed euphoric over the brilliant and unique storyline; “A team of crooks use a special machine to break into a billionaire’s dreams and steal his secrets”. It’s like nothing we’ve ever heard of, Right? Maybe not.

Below we’ve taken a bit of creative license to imagine how that pitch meeting may have gone.

“A” list Director: You have to envision it. A billionaire corporate genius has the key to vast secret stashed deep inside his brain. We sneak in a specially designed machine while he’s asleep; one with amazing, almost magical properties that allow a crack team of crooks to not just enter his mind but actually enter his dreams. Once they’re inside, they trick him into revealing his incredible secret.

Big Time Executive Producer: That’s wild! That’s the most spectacular, original idea I’ve ever heard. We can plop down a bazillion bucks on the budget, get some top names, create astounding FX and make a killing at the box office. Since it’s a dream, we can have them jump to anywhere in time and space. We can have them moving between different realities. No one will know who’s dreaming and who’s in control.

“A list Director”: Exactly!

Big Time Executive Producer: But wait, if they’re in his dreams there’s really no real threat. I mean, it’s a dream, there’s no “ticking clock” to get the blood boiling. Even if they die, they don’t really die. They can stay as long as they want and just wait for the rich guy to spill the beans.

“A” list Director: I’ve got that covered. He’s gonna wake up at dawn. If he wakes up with the crooks still inside his brain, they’ll be trapped there forever… like eternity in a moment.

Big Time Executive Producer: “Eternity in a moment?”. I don’t know. It’s a little shaky. What if Donald won’t do it?

“A” List Director: Donald… Donald who? Look, we’ll just through a bunch of money at him. Once we tell him the about the special FXs, how we’ll make the whole universe flexible and movable and every scene will be like a nightmare, he’ll just go nuts for it.

Executive Producer: Hmmm it’s still missing something. How’s about; “when you fall, you wake up”. This way they have to stay on their feet the whole time.

“A” List Director: Now you’re cooking with gas. That’s a freaking brilliant, original idea.

Big Time Executive Producer: How did you every come up with this mind bending, original concept?

“A” List Director”: I dunno. It just came to me… in a dream.

Sound familiar. It should. Anyone who read Donald Duck comics recently (2002) probably came across this plot before in the story titled: “The Dream of a Lifetime” concept, written and drawn by the truly amazing Don Rosa. He’s the skinny.

Synopsis: Uncle Scrooge McDuck (a wealthy billionaire duck) falls asleep dreaming of his money. The notorious Beagle Boys, steal an invention that allows them to enter Uncle Scrooge’s dreams in order to break into his vault. Donald comes to the rescue, but not before entering the dream, leaping from location to location, falling down (to wake up) and going back in to save the day before Uncle Scrooge wakes and Donald is trapped in his dreams for eternity.

This writer isn’t saying a word, but for all those who’d like to read the entire story, “The Dream of a Lifetime” can make draw their own conclusions.


Mike Palmisciano

ScreenPens, Ltd.

Review: Nolan’s “Deception” (Inception)

References: Dreamscape (Dennis Quaid -1984) and The Thirteenth Floor (Craig Bierko -1999)

Alright. I love Chris Nolan.  His wry wit and visionary eye have created some of the best reasons in recent years, to actually get up off   your ass and get to the movies. “Following”, “Memento”,  “Insomnia” the “Batman series” and “The Prestige”, are all haunting and thought provoking films done with taste, wit and a bit of tongue in cheek humor.

And now “Inception”. Hmmm. Without giving anything away (that already hasn’t been revealed in trailers) the story follows Dom Cobb (Leo DiCaprio) a man with a past, who’s “Day Job” involves entering the sleeping minds of unsuspecting victims and stealing their ideas and dreams.  Sounds like a great premise for a summer blockbuster, right? Except this NEVER happens in the movie.

Cobb and his “crack team” (a surprisingly good Gordon Joseph Levitt, Ellen Page, scene stealing Tom Hardy, an underutilized Sir Michael Cain and an indecipherable Ken Watanabe) muddle through a type of reverse heist plot.

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ScreenPens Video “New Zealand Magic” Scores in the top 4% of all “Most Popular” Peter Jackson, Submissions

Pheww! Voting and submissions have ended. the two month long event has been trying and exhilarating at the same time.  But  well worth the effort.

ScreenPens hilarious video “New Zealand Magic”, thanks to all of your votes, has achieved the top 4% of all “most popular” submissions on the Peter Jackson / Tourism New Zealand “Your Big Break” video production event.

ScreenPens, wrote, shot and produced this hilarious video in ONLY 5 WORKING DAYS, with the help of our friends who contributed their time and talent to the project.

Conceived, Written and Directed by Mike Palmisciano

Starring Leslie Meisel (spokes person) and Danielle Hess (spokes girl)

also Starring Craig Blair (as Voice of the Spokes Person)

Director of Photography – Erik Vidal

Video Edited by Larry Bobker

Post Sound and Dubbing by Billy Cobin

Production Coordinator – Vanessa King.

Check out the finished video here in the left column of this page titled “New Zealand Magic” or go to our Facebook Fan Page site. Cheers to all that helped and supported us with votes.

Now we wait to see what the judges think. Thanks to all that supported us in this event. Keep you fingers crossed!


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Interview With BlueCat Alum Vicki Speegle

[Mike’s Comments:] Check out the BlueCat Screen Play Competition and Newsletters providing high profile access and feedback on every submission.

Reposted from BlueCat Screenplay Competition Newsletter.

BlueCat Screenplay Competition Newsletter 29-Dec-2009

Today’s News

:: LA Workshops

:: Interview – 2007 Finalist Vicki Speegle

:: New Feature

:: December Title Contest Deadline – Six Days

:: Free Entry Friday – Twitter

:: Script of the Week

What’s New BlueCat?

The Los Angeles workshops are approaching fast, with room available on both days. Register now to polish your full script, or your first ten pages.

There are only six days left until the January 4th deadline for our Title Contest. Submit your script now and be automatically entered to win $1000 for the best screenplay title, as voted by the public.

Free Entry Friday continues this week with another special promotion on Twitter on New Year’s Day. Follow us and win!

We have another new addition to the newsletter this week. Starting with today’s issue, we will give our readers the chance to submit their own critiques of scripts. Look for links to scripts of recent popular films, and write your way to a free entry into the 2010 competition.

Offering yet another download, our Script of the Week continues this week with The Road.

Do not forget, all of your newsletter needs can now be found in one place.

2010 Competition Entries to Date: 465

Los Angeles Workshop Jeff Hirschberg BookSpots Available

Do you reside in the Los Angeles area?

In early 2010, Gordy will be in Los Angeles for not one, but two, workshops. On a rare two-day excursion, Gordy will be conducting a Full Script Workshop, and a First Ten Pages Workshop.

There are spots available for both days, but workshops fill quickly, so register today.

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