a pro script reader ponders movies, reading, writing and the occasional personal flashback

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Seraphim Falls

I caught up with this movie on DVD last night. If you haven't heard of it, it's a western that opened earlier this year in 52 theaters, where it didn't do well, then disappeared.

It's a pity, because it's actually a pretty good movie. The western genre is definitely in a lull with audiences; if a film like this can't do anything at the box office, then it's going to make producers a little more wary about trying to make other small westerns.

Not that this is all that small. It has two solid stars -- Pierce Brosnan and Liam Neeson -- who both do very good work here. The plot basically has Neeson and a small posse chasing Brosnan across a largely-isolated wilderness. It's an adventure, but it's much more serious/dramatic than fun, though it is a good ride.

The interesting thing about the story? It jumps right into the middle. So as we're watching the tale, we have no idea who we are supposed to be rooting for, for most of the film. It's an interesting idea: it makes one pay attention to every scrap of character info that we get, and it all pays off pretty well by the end.

If you like westerns, check it out. Though this one really could have used a better title; I have a feeling most people had no idea what the movie even was.


At 1:31 PM, Blogger Lucy said...

I've never heard of it, but since I DO like Westerns, despite never even having so much dipped a toe in the US of A, I will check it out. Cheers.

Why is it Scott that so-called blockbusters generally seem to suck (IMO) yet the good movies never seem to do well? I'm reminded of A MAP OF THE WORLD here and countless others. What's your take? Is it marketing and distribution, or something more sinister - the stuff people want IS mediocre?

At 2:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


At 2:51 PM, Anonymous Matt said...

I blame audiences. In no possibly way is Pirates of the Caribbean, or Titanic, or Spiderman 3 a better film than Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Zodiac, or Punch Drunk Love. Studios realize that. But they know what the audience wants, which is larely dumbed down entertainment.

At 5:24 PM, Blogger Mariano said...

Matt, how do you know that what you like is "better" than what the "audience" likes and, according to you, wants?

Aren't you the audience as well? Are you blaming yourself, too?

How can you categorically state that there is no possible way the films YOU don't like are better than the films the "audiences" (whoever they're supposed to be) like?

At least Lucy had the decency to specify that in HER OPINION "so- called blockbusters generally seem to suck."

You, instead, are certain you hold the universal truth, and can categorically state which films are better than others.

Do you get dizzy high up on Mount Olympus? ;)

At 8:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


We already know it's Matt's opinion because it came from him. "In my opinion" is an unnecessary disclaimer and does nothing but weaken his position.

Besides, he's right.

And Spiderman 3 is a piece of shit. That's a fact.

At 9:07 PM, Blogger Patrick J. Rodio said...

What the hell, Mariano? somebody's cranky. And since when is Lucy "decent?" :)

I did hear about this movie, and will check it out. Also - Scott - check out The Proposition if you haven't already. Pretty neat Alt-Western.

At 2:21 AM, Anonymous Matt said...

"Matt, how do you know that what you like is "better" than what the "audience" likes and, according to you, wants?"

It just my opinion.

"Aren't you the audience as well? Are you blaming yourself, too?"

There are many areas of life where I am part of the problem. This isn't one of them. I like movies with a brain, simple as that. This can extend from action movies, to silent comedies, to horror movies. But they need to be well made.

"Do you get dizzy high up on Mount Olympus? ;) "

It's quite nice actually. But as a writer, I feel I can spot weak writing better than your average moviegoer. Just like a chef can probably spot problems with a fine meal better than I. Titanic was poorly written. Spiderman 3, although I enjoyed it, was poorly written.

At 4:47 AM, Blogger Mariano said...

I'm sorry if I came across as cranky.

Of course, if someone writes something it must be "their opinion." It's just that it grates when it's presented as the absolute truth.

I was also reacting against what I perceived to be the kind of snobbish attitude that blames audiences for being dumber than they are.

Matt, as another writer, I could disagree with your assessment of Titanic. And I clearly remember another writer (William Goldman) defending Titanic's script at the time the film came out.

Professionals disagree constantly about the value and merits of work in their chosen field. And you have to entertain the possibility that some members of the "audience" you berate for liking what you don't like must be, by the law of average, other writers.

Anyway, sorry for taking up the space on Scott's site. I really don't want to turn this thread into a slanging match between opposing opinions.

I'll go back to being a lurker... on the threshold. :)

At 6:57 AM, Blogger Suburban Screenwriter said...

I remember hearing about this flick briefly and then it was gone...I will look for it at the store. I have to agree with Matt and audiences can be considered a little dumb (me included sometimes)because yeah blockbusters are getting alot of money without having to put the bang behind them (i.e. Spiderman III) Now Shrek III isn't getting great reviews and I'm sure it will make alot of money(Spiderman III is already on it's way to making a profit after a 258 million dollar budget! ...what other products out there are bad and yet make tons of money? I wouldn't buy a lemon after a car getting these kinds of reviews. Lesson learned I'm not getting burned again. Shrek III is probably going to wait till DVD and then we'll see.

At 10:07 AM, Blogger E.C. Henry said...

Thanks for the reminder, Scott. Liam Neeson and Pierce Brosnan in the same movie -- sounds like a real winner! I vaguely remember this movie being in theatres. Must not have been promoted very heavily. BUT you did a great job of promoting it. Ever thought of moonlighting in marketing and promotions? Dude, your slick. Spread those wings, baby, smart heady promotions - you could do it, baby. Hey, you sold "Seraphim Falls" it to me. That's a GOOD start!

- E.C. Henry from Bonney Lake, WA

At 11:19 AM, Anonymous Matt said...

Mariano, I don't think audiences are dumb. I just think they like dumb movies. Why? I guess after a long week of working full time hours and raising kids they'd rather watch something that doesn't make them work to understand it.
Of course as a writer you can disagree about the merits of a particular script. My very first sentence in my initial post was "I blame audiences"
I don't think most audience members care about good writing. Probably why Transformers will make about thirty times the amount of money as Sideways, or Pan's Labrynth.

At 10:32 AM, Blogger Lucy said...

Wow, opened up a can of worms here! Pity I forgot I'd written that first comment, I could have participated more actively. Interesting tho there's the view that saying "in my opinion" weakens the speaker's position, since it "should" be taken as red it IS the speaker's opinion by virtue of them saying it: I don't see how this leaves room for non-opinion related talking about..stuff tho. If you know what I mean.

And as for you, PJ Rodio: you are a saucy boy!!! (But what's new? ; )

At 5:31 AM, Blogger annabel said...

Thanks for the suggestion, Scott. My hubby and I watched it a couple of nights ago and really enjoyed it.


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