Welcome to The Morning Read.

I think it's official.  2009 has just plain kicked my ass.

I've never been sick as many times in a year as I have been this year.  I've never slept less hours in a year than I did this year.  I've never worked as much in a year as I have this year.  I perpetually feel like I'm being chased by a bear.  My comprehensive physical last week is the first one in the last decade that I outright failed, with my doctor just writing "NO" on my chart and circling it in red.  I find that most days pass in a blur of exhaustion, where I feel like I'm moving backwards underwater at all times.

Other than that, I'm fine.  And you?

I will say that almost 11 hours sleep over the last 24 hours has gone a long way towards me feeling human for the moment.  I need to take care of myself this week... I can tell I'm on the tipping point of a major bronchial incident of some sort, and with BNAT this weekend, I really can't take being sick.  Throw in a quick trip to Vancouver for a set visit, and I'm daring my body to collapse.  Let's see how much we can get to this morning before I have to bail for the airport.

Speaking of set visits, when I saw the news on Shock Till You Drop this morning that "Jonah Hex" is gearing up for some additional photography, it flashed me back to that humid, gnarly swamp where a group of us visited Josh Brolin at work on the film earlier this year in New Orleans.  I think there's some real potential there, and I'm curious to see what happens with the film this year.  Westerns are always a hard sell these days, but I think they're up to something cool.  It's obvious people are getting crazy for Josh Brolin, with the rumor today being that he may end up in "Men In Black 3" in some capacity.

I'm curious to see the evolution of films adapted from video games, and I think it's inevitable that one of them will end up being a great film... the law of averages says so.  I think the key is treating it like any other source material and just focusing on making a movie, paying real attention to story and character.  I like what Wyck Godfrey has to say about the "Gears Of War" film these days, and it could well turn out to be something that finally justifies the translation. 

I feel like an old man frequently these days.  I have a couple of crazy white hairs that are growing in on the beard these days, and getting out of bed in the morning, I feel ever bad decision I've ever made.  But what really makes me feel like a dinosaur is reading a list like this one, where a young film writer talks about being 16 at the start of this decade.  I am fascinated by the people who have come of age with internet film culture already fully available to them, and I am jealous.  I wish I'd had this sort of community when I was in my early teens. 

The Auteurs put up their list of the 50 best films of the decade, and it's literally just a list with nothing else. No explanation of their decisions, no editorializing.  Just 50 titles.  Call me crazy, but this seems hollow to me. Film School Rejects, in addition to the very personal list I linked to above, put together a list of the most culturally significant films of the decade, and it's very well-done, designed to spur real conversation.  I'm not surprised to find that The A/V Club published both a great best of the '00s list, but also an entertaining worst of the 00's list.  And call me biased if you must, but I am loving every moment of the 100 best films of the decade list that Mr. Beaks is publishing at AICN.  Part two and part three are both up now.

I love that television has become so much better in the last fifteen or twenty years, and that restrictions on how things can be shown have loosened up, even on the networks, but I think Peter Hall raises a fair question in a recent article.  I know in our house, every single thing that our kids watch, whether broadcast or shown on DVD, is screened by us and debated first. 

Have you seen the clip that's online yet for "The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret"?  Aside from featuring Will Arnett, David Cross, and Spike Jonze as the stars, which would automatically make it interesting, the clip looks like a great set-up for a show.  This is part of a program where the UK's Channel 4 is allowing viewers to vote on pilots to see what goes to series.  If you're able to vote, then do me a personal favor and vote for this one.  I would love to see where it goes:

 

 

Oh, did I mention you shouldn't play that at work?  Because you shouldn't. 

I don't agree with all of her conclusions, and I'd love to discuss the film with her at some point because I think it's a film that demands contemplation, but I dig Kim Morgan's decade-later look-back at "Eyes Wide Shut."

I took a little heat yesterday, both in our comments and in my e-mail, for my decision to embed an image from MTV's "Jersey Shore," which I've never seen and never plan to see.  I hate the sewer of reality television, and this show seems from my brief exposure to it to be a perfect example of why.  I will say, though, that if MTV decides to put Bobby Bottleservice on season two, I'll break down and watch.  Once you see his audition tape, you'll understand:

 

 

And finally today, it looks like John August really kicked a hornet's nest with a brief blog posting about why he thinks the Script Shadow blog is bad for screenwriters.  What August should have said is that he thinks it's bad for working screenwriters, since the people who seemed to leap to the site's defense the quickest are aspiring writers.  It sort of blows my mind that the subject of whether script reviews are good or evil is just now being debated, since I spent a decade or so doing it at Ain't It Cool.  This is not a new idea. However, the thing that makes Script Shadow indefensible is the way he includes PDFs of the scripts in his blog postings, allowing people to download the material.  That is, simply put, criminal.  And there's really no other way to frame the conversation.  "Carson Reeves," who obviously knows what what he is doing is wrong which is why he freaks out at the mere mention of his real name, does not own the rights to the material he distributes.  Discussing that material is a different ethical issue, one I'm familiar with, but distributing it?  Wrong.  Period.

If Carson wants to be the person he claims to be, helping new screenwriters as they break into the business, there are ways to do that.  He has some potentially good ideas, but right now, he knows full well that discussing in-development material and revealing major spoilers is a way to drive traffic to your site. It's easy bait, and it's obviously working for him.  I had an evolution on my own feelings about the topic over the time I was at AICN, and I think the only way you can really justify writing about material in-progress is if you know what you're talking about.  You have to know what draft you're reading, where the material is in the process now, what the state of the development is.  You have to, or there's a chance you are kicking the writer in the balls for no good reason.  I've worked on scripts where we were asked to intentionally follow a bad idea on a draft, just to see what happened, and if that's the only draft someone read, they would think all of those ideas were ours alone.  Carson claims he's doing new screenwriters a service to show them "what sells," but you can do that without revealing 1/10th of what he does.  In the end, his site serves one person:  him.  Until that changes, I can't imagine defending his actions, and I'm shocked by my online peers who think he's on the side of right.

Gotta hit the road now.  I'll have my first of two articles about the return of Pee Wee Herman later tonight, once I'm in Vancouver, and I'll have more stuff for you between now and Butt-Numb-A-Thon, which begins Saturday at 11:00 AM.

The Morning Read appears here every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.  Except when it doesn't.

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