Another 5 Movies You Think Would Be Better Than They Are

Here are another five movies you think would be really better than they are, unfortunately for the films, the scripts, the direction, and the actors, they are not.

Gods and Generals – 1 Star (Terrible)

This so-called historical epic finds Director-Producer Ron Maxwell taking 3 hours and 49 minutes (yes, you read correctly) to re-tell the story of the Civil War from its beginning in 1861 through the Battle of Chancellorsville in 1863. Yikes.

Ted Turner wanted this film done real bad, he coughed up the entire $60 million budget to make it happen. Hopefully, he did not fall asleep watching the result of his investment. As near as I can tell, this effort earned virtually no recognition or accolades, and rightfully so.

The Netflix postscript tells us that the film is about Confederate General Robert E. Lee (played by Robert Duvall) and Colonel Joshua Chamberlain (Jeff Daniels), a Bowdoin College professor from Maine who becomes the central character representing the Federal (Union) troops.

This movie is really the story of Confederate General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson (Stephen Lang); whoever wrote the Netflix postscript apparently did not see the movie. This movie attempts to show the human side of the tragic Civil War in our country, and suffers from the lack of a narrator for the battle footage which goes on forever without great consequence.

Showing the battle scenes does not do squat for this film; having a narrator is the only way to explain the action so it makes sense to the first-time viewer. I really think Maxwell (the director/producer) was more impressed with his own effort than the subject matter.

If Maxwell wants to see a good presentation of the subject matter, he should watch Ken Burns’ documentary on the Civil War (I suspect he did and decided to make it into a movie, ’nuff said. He just did not make a very good movie).

Mr. and Mrs. Smith – 1 Star (Terrible)

Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie (who would later be joined at the hip) are guns for hire who find their next target is each other in this sorry flick. This is a sad, disappointing movie with no redeeming qualities worth talking about.

The story line is slow to develop, it has sound problems, it suffers from action flickitis (continual killing, mayhem and explosions), and comes across as sophomoric, juvenile and simply bad to the core.

The chaotic shooting scenes are reminiscent of the early cowboy flicks where both the good guys and the bad guys are systematically firing off 200 rounds from their revolvers without reloading. Good grief, if you are going to make a movie with two superstars of this caliber, bring something to the table.

Actually, this filmmaking effort was so poorly done it could not have been saved even with two superstars like Pitt and Jolie.

Just Like Heaven – 1 Star (Terrible)

Just Like Heaven is cute but not substantive. This movie effort takes off on the concept of Ghost in the reverse; instead of a dead person who can see the living but cannot be seen by the living, here we have a dead person who can also see the living, but the living can also see the dead person.

It just does not work like Ghost. Ghost is 1,000 times better than this effort. Ghost works because it is a drama and courts reality. Just Like Heaven does not work because it is a romantic comedy and has nothing to do with reality (just a minor point).

There are several more reasons why Ghost works, and Just Like Heaven does not (too many to mention in detail here). This effort entertains but lacks substance, and hence believability.

The best part of this movie is Reese Witherspoon (who would go on to win an Oscar for her lead role in the Johnny Cash story, Walk the Line). I would not see Just Like Heaven again, even with a monetary incentive.

Miracle – 1 Star (Terrible)

Miracle is the story of the U. S. Hockey Team that won the Gold Medal during the 1980 Olympic Games at Lake Placid in New York.

A potentially great story line that had a poor script and poor direction. I doubt whether the writer or director of Miracle has ever played competitive hockey. There was only one really good moment in the movie that should have had 30 great moments, and kept you on the edge of your seat, even though you already know the ending of the film.

I was so disappointed in the artistic effort of this movie, I consider it a petty crime to make a movie of the stunning, historic 1980 Olympic Games United States gold-medal performance with the script they had to work with.

How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days – 1 Star (Terrible)

This romantic comedy stars Kate Hudson. Of course, she does not follow through on losing the guy in 10 days, she finds him, he finds her, and he makes it happen for both of them. Forget the script, the acting and the directing. OK to see it once.

Copyright © 2006 Ed Bagley

Do You Have What It Takes to Be A Successful Author?

Being an author is no job for wimps. It takes a lot more than glamorously writing books in Paris cafes surrounded by admirers. It takes long solitary hours of writing-what John Steinbeck called “the loneliest job in the world.” And it takes a willingness to promote your book, no matter what the cost.

Authors have to deal with the public-not just admiring fans, but indifferent readers, and those who want to string them up by a rope when a typo is found in a book. Authors have to work long hours both writing and marketing, often with little reward. And authors have to sacrifice their free time and sometimes make difficult decisions such as using that money saved for a new car instead to print the next book. And yes, when someone tells you how he loves your book, it can be all worthwhile, but a lot of work is required before you may receive that compliment.

Before you publish that book, you may want to find out whether you have what it takes to be a successful author. It’s a lot like being Superwoman or Hercules while having the patience of Job. Find out whether you have what it takes by taking this short quiz:

The Successful Author Quiz:

You are invited to speak at an event on Saturday that is a three-hour drive from home, both ways, for which you will not get paid and there is no guarantee you’ll sell any books. Do you:

a. Instantly say, “Yes!” and feel elated that someone wants to hear you speak. (2 pts)
b. Tell the event planner you can’t come unless you are paid for the mileage. (1 pt)
c. Say, “No, sorry. Saturday is family time.” (0 pts)

A reader points out to you the typo on p. 38 of your book. Do you:

a. Realize no one is perfect, but fix it for the next printing. (2 pts)
b. Tell the person, “I’d like to see you do better.” (1 pt)
c. Go home and cry. (0 pts)

The local bookstore wants 60 copies of your book delivered before it closes in two hours, all autographed, and they want a 40% discount payable on consignment (after the books sell). Do you:

a. Say, “No problem,” drop everything else, print up an invoice, sign those books, load your car, and make a delivery within the hour. (2 pts)
b. Say, “Sorry. I can’t make it today but I’ll be there tomorrow, and my price discount is 30% and I need to be paid up front.” (1 pt)
c. Reply, “Are you crazy? Do you realize how much work that is and how heavy those books are-I’ll bring you five and when you sell those, then I’ll bring you more.” (0 pts)

You are inundated with requests from people who say they are also writing a book and want to meet you for lunch. Do you respond by:

a. Saying, “I’m sorry but I don’t like to talk about my writing or share my publishing secrets-and it cuts into my writing time.” (0 pts)
b. Give out free information in the hopes other people will be interested in reading your book even though they are actually only interested in their own. (1 pt)
c. Refer people to a local publishing or writing group where they can learn everything necessary and which you belong to, while politely explaining you’re just too busy right now to meet. (2 pts)

You are invited to an event where the event planner assures you you’ll sell 100 books and insists you bring that many with you. Do you:

a. Refuse to come. (0 pts)
b. Bring only one box of 20 books with you because you know you’ll never sell 100 (1pt).
c. Buy a dolly to reduce how many trips you need to make to carry that many books back and forth from the car and hope for the best. (2 pts).

You are at an event where a customer complains that your books are too expensive. Do you:

a. Say, “Sorry, ma’am. It’s not my fault you’re poverty-stricken.” (0 pts)
b. Patiently explain about the costs of printing and profit margins on books. (1pt)
c. Tell her you’ll make her a deal and if she buys two books, you’ll give her a free one. (2 pts)

You’ve successfully sold over a thousand copies of your self-published book and are invited to a local event where an author newly published by a small press is also appearing. This author tells you if you are interested in becoming a “real” author, she can hook you up with her agent so you can sell more books and get royalties. Do you:

a. Jump at the chance to become a “real author,” kiss her butt, and contact her agent. (0 pts)
b. Explain that you are a real author and that you make more money off of self-publishing your books than you would traditionally publishing them. (1pt)
c. Thank the pompous author for the offer and avoid her in the future. (2pts)

You are asked to speak to a group of schoolchildren about being an author even though you have not written a children’s book. Do you:

a. Say, “No, I’m not a children’s author.” (0 pts)
b. Show up and give your usual talk about writing and put the children to sleep. (1 pt)
c. Spend hours planning and thinking up ways to engage the children in writing activities and entertain them so they are interested, then come home exhausted but hoping you made a small difference in the children’s education. (2 pts)

You have written a historical novel set in your hometown. A reader asks you which house the fictional people in your novel lived in. Do you:

a. Say, “What are you stupid that you don’t know the difference between fiction and non-fiction?” (0 pts)
b. Explain that the characters are fictional but the fictional house is based on a real house in town. (1 pt)
c. Take it as a compliment that your characters seem like real people to your readers. (2 pts)

You are inundated with requests from other authors to read and edit their books. Do you:

a. Say, “Sorry. I have a day job and like to write my own books in the evening. I don’t have time.” (0 pts)
b. Form a writing group with the few authors you think are serious so you can exchange manuscripts and give each other feedback. (1 pt)
c. Agree to help in exchange for payment and spend your evenings working on other people’s books until you have enough clients to leave your day job and make it your full-time business to be an author expert and help others, thereby selling more of your own books as well. (2 pts)

SCORING:

18-20 points: Congratulations! You have the makings of the next Stephen King, Danielle Steel, or John Grisham! I’ll see you on the New York Times Bestseller list…maybe. Well, at least you should make a profit someday.
10-17 points: You might become fairly successful, if you consider success as selling 500-5,000 books over your lifetime. Keep at it.
10-0 points: Keep your day job. There are real authors out there.