Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Top 5 movies with best dialogue

Casablanca movie

The following post is by T. B. Markinson, the author of A Woman Lost, Marionette and Confessions From A Coffee Shop.


Hello everyone!

It’s a pleasure to be here today. Vanessa asked me to write about five movies that have inspired my stories. The plots of the following films had zero bearing on my actual stories. However, each of them has helped me understand the importance of dialogue. Dialogue is tricky. It has to sound realistic, reveal bits about the story, and it has to help shape a character. Many of you have probably read novels with flat dialogue. If you’re a writer my best advice is to read authors who have mastered the skill and to watch a lot of great movies with fabulous dialogue. Here’s my list.

1. Casablanca

The first film that comes to mind when I think of great dialogue is Casablanca. How many of you have quoted this movie at some point? I know I have. Here are some quotes to refresh your memory:

“Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine.” 

“We’ll always have Paris.” 

“I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”

His Girl Friday

2. His Girl Friday

His Girl Friday, starring Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell, is a classic and the rapid-fire dialogue is spot on. You really have to listen to catch all the wonderful wise-cracks. Here’s a sample:

Walter: Look, Hildy, I only acted like any husband that didn’t want to see his home broken up. 

Hildy: What home? 

Walter: “What home?” 

Don’t you remember the home I promised you? You don’t have to know much of the back story to realize that their marriage wasn’t a good one. Three lines and the viewer is clued in completely.

Here’s a fun youtube clip from the movie: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=loqDhn3mtW4

The Thin Man

3. The Thin Man

Yes I’m listing another black and white film. I love classics and the main reason is the dialogue. This film stars Myna Loy and William Powel and is based on Dashiell Hammett’s hardboiled novel by the same name. The screwball comedy has some great interactions, like this one:

Reporter: Say listen, is he working on a case? 

Nora Charles: Yes, he is. 

Reporter: What case? 

Nora Charles: A case of scotch. Pitch in and help him.

Check out this clip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YDiDYrUoQ0I

I’m hoping it tempts you to watch this marvelous film. Careful, you may want to watch the entire Thin Man series. I do once a year.

Pulp Fiction

4. Pulp Fiction 

I figured it was time for me to list a film that was made during my lifetime. I do prefer older films since story and dialogue are front and center. Today blockbusters are more about visual effects, but some writers have been able to master mixing good stories with plenty of violence and action. What can I say about Quentin Tarantino? He’s a master when it comes to writing screenplays. I could have named several of his movies for this list, but I selected my favorite. There are so many classic quotes from this film.

“Just because you are a character doesn’t mean that you have character.” 

“If my answers frighten you then you should cease asking scary questions.” 

“Play with matches, you get burned.” 

“Besides, isn’t it more exciting when you don’t have permission?”

Recently the Huffington Post had an article titled: 16 ‘Pulp Fiction’ Quotes That Will Help You Become A Better Person. Check it out here.


5. Goodfellas

For the final movie that I want to discuss today I went back and forth between Goodfellas and The Silence of the Lambs. Goodfellas won for the simple fact that I could remember more of the interactions. Who can forget this memorable scene? (Warning: there’s strong language)

Henry Hill: You're a pistol, you're really funny. You're really funny. 

Tommy DeVito: What do you mean I'm funny? 

Henry Hill: It's funny, you know. It's a good story, it's funny, you're a funny guy.  [laughs] 

Tommy DeVito: What do you mean, you mean the way I talk? What? 

Henry Hill: It's just, you know. You're just funny, it's... funny, the way you tell the story and everything. 

Tommy DeVito: [it becomes quiet] Funny how? What's funny about it? 

Anthony Stabile: Tommy no, You got it all wrong. 

Tommy DeVito: Oh, oh, Anthony. He's a big boy, he knows what he said. What did ya say? Funny how? 

Henry Hill: Jus... 

Tommy DeVito: What? 

Henry Hill: Just... ya know... you're funny. 

Tommy DeVito: You mean, let me understand this cause, ya know maybe it's me, I'm a little fucked up maybe, but I'm funny how, I mean funny like I'm a clown, I amuse you? I make you laugh, I'm here to fuckin' amuse you? What do you mean funny, funny how? How am I funny? 

Henry Hill: Just... you know, how you tell the story, what? 

Tommy DeVito: No, no, I don't know, you said it. How do I know? You said I'm funny. How the fuck am I funny, what the fuck is so funny about me? Tell me, tell me what's funny! 

Henry Hill: [long pause] Get the fuck out of here, Tommy! 

Tommy DeVito: [everyone laughs] Ya motherfucker! I almost had him, I almost had him. Ya stuttering prick ya. Frankie, was he shaking? I wonder about you sometimes, Henry. You may fold under questioning. 

Now watch the clip and see it in action.

This list is by no means the top five films with fantastic dialogue. They just happen to be some of my favorite films that I watch quite a bit. 

What movie(s) do you like with great dialogue?


Confessions From A Coffee Shop

About T.B. Markinson's latest release, Confessions From A Coffee Shop:

Cori Tisdale was on top of the world. A basketball star at Harvard and a promising author with a lucrative book deal.

A few years later, Cori’s life is falling apart. Her beautiful girlfriend, Kat Finn, has a shopping addiction. To make ends meet, Cori takes a part-time job at a coffee shop.

Just when Cori thinks her life can’t get any worse, an old crush appears out of the blue. Cori’s friendship with Samantha Clarke pushes Cori further into a dangerous abyss when Sam reveals two secrets to Cori and asks her not to tell a soul, including Kat.

Will this be the end of Cori’s and Kat’s relationship?

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Strasbourg Fantastic Film Festival 2014

Vox Strasbourg

I'm currently at the airport of Strasbourg, France, waiting for the flight that will take me back to Belgium. I've been here since Thursday to attend the Strasbourg European Fantastic Film Festival and to discover the beautiful Alsatian town in between films and meetings (pictures coming soon). As I missed the Underrated Treasures Blogfest yesterday, I thought I'd compensate by telling you about the little gems I've seen at the festival. Enjoy.

Starry Eyes horror film

Starry Eyes

Starry Eyes delves into the world of failed but ambitious actors and questions whether they would sell their soul to the devil for a part. With thorough character development, good pacing, and several inventive and atmospheric scenes, there's a lot to be admired in this little flick that is heavily influenced by Bava, and interspersed with elements from Anguish, The Fly and Mulholland Drive. Problem is Starry Eyes should never have been a horror film. The idea of 'selling one's soul to the devil' is too literal. By their actions alone, the characters are already underlining the film's premise and just a hint of the supernatural would have been enough to tilt the film to another level. Though Starry Eyes is definitely a recommended watch, it would have worked so much better without its devil worshippers, killings and transformation scenes.

The Black Cat 1934

The Black Cat

Starring Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff, The Black Cat (1934) focuses on a couple that is trapped in the home of a satan worshipper who preserves women in glass cages. Despite its cult status, the film has aged badly and suffers from an incoherent plot and bad acting. Also, it hardly bears any relation to Edgar Allan Poe's The Black Cat, but instead draws inspiration from the life of Aleister Crowley who killed cats and devoted his life to occultist practices.

Alleluia Fabrice du Welz


Inspired by the true story of Honeymoon Killers Raymond Fernandez and Martha Beck, Alleluia may seem like a story you've seen before, but it's the daring direction and stunning photography that make the film both original and remarkable. It's most of all a movie of opposites in which violence mingles with humor, refinement with trash, love with disgust, and realism with exaggeration. Once in a while, Alleluia transgresses the borders of the ridiculous, but for most of the film, the balance is just right. It overflows with personality and even flirts with brilliancy.

Predestination Ethan Hawke


At the core, this is just your ordinary sci-fi about a man (Ethan Hawke) who time travels to prevent a crime from happening. The events are not very logic, definitely not realistic, and, at a certain point, even predictable, but the underlying concept is so twisted it'll stick. Based on Robert Heinlein's All You Zombies.

Doc Of The Dead

Doc Of The Dead

Doc Of The Dead promises to close any remaining gaps in your knowledge of zombies, but I'd rather call it Zombies For Dummies as it doesn't mention much more than cult classics such as White Zombie, I Walked With A Zombie, Shawn Of The Dead, World War Z, George Romero movies, and well-known zombie games. What about the vague of Italian zombie films from the seventies and eighties? Where are the many indie flicks about the undead? How about zombies in other cultures? Doc Of The Dead doesn't even have its information right. The recent Warm Bodies is not the first romantic zombie film as the filmmaker pretends. Zombie Honeymoon, to give an example, has been made way before that, more precisely in 2004. For a sixteen-year-old, Doc Of The Dead can be a good introduction and a lot of fun, otherwise you'll have the impression that the documentary was made by someone who doesn't know much about zombies at all.



Zombified beavers = zombeavers. What else can it be but a guilty pleasure? Yes, it's silly. Yes, it has awful special effects and no character development whatsoever. But who cares? It's an hour and a half of fun, mindless entertainment. Too mindless, maybe. Zombeavers could certainly have benefited from better jokes and more originality, although I did like the idea of people and animals growing beaver teeth and gnawing on wood.

Why Don't You Play In Hell

Why Don't You Play In Hell?

Shion Sono's latest follows a group of filmmakers that make a feature about a war between two Yakuza clans. Only the outrageously bloody scenes from the third act got my attention. The rest of Why Don't You Play In Hell? was well-made, but rather boring. It's getting critical acclaim elsewhere, though.

Dead Snow 2 Dead vs Red

Dead Snow 2: Red vs Dead

Picking up where Dead Snow 1 left off, Tommy Wirkola enhances the premise and delves further into the concept as he addresses the criticism on his first movie. Overall Dead Snow 2: Dead or Red is darker, better scripted and more original than its predecessor. It also develops its location beyond the borders of the cabin and sets its action against a backdrop of stunning Norwegian landscapes (at a certain point, the zombified nazi battalion attacks an entire village – an absolutely thrilling sequence). If there's one flaw to be voiced, it's that the Zombie Squad and Star Wars jokes are forced and completely ridiculous.

ABCs Of Death 2

ABCs Of Death 2

Twenty-six horror directors were each allocated a letter from the alphabet and, on that basis, had to direct a short film lasting a few minutes, choosing as its title a word that begins with that letter. Just as in the first installment of ABCs Of Death, the execution is poor and good ideas are lacking. Only one short stood out, and that was the K-section from Kristina Buozyte (who you might know from the excellent Vanishing Waves). On the plus side should be mentioned the vast diversity and the fact that they leave the viewer to guess the word/killing method until the end of each short.

Underrated Treasures Blogfest

Monday, September 15, 2014

Monday Mishmash - Festivals and Transylvanian castles

Transylvanian castle

* Un homme bien (the French film adaptation of my screenplay A Good Man) will be shown at the Dracula Horror and Fantasy Festival in Romania in October. One of the screenings will take place in a famous Transylvanian castle. The film will also be screened the 11th of October at the Indiana Short Film Festival. My vampire story will be part of the Saturday Nite Fright.

* Can't go to these festivals? You can now also discover Un homme bien / A Good Man on FestTV, the VOD channel of the Benelux horror distributor Zeno Pictures. Or you can download the original screenplay from Amazon.com, Amazon UK, or Smashwords.

* To top it off, Un homme bien / A Good Man has received a diploma for "higher cinematic culture for solving social issues" at the Krivoy Rog Film Festival. 

* I'll be present at four different festivals this autumn, starting with the Strasbourg European Fantastic Film Festival on Thursday, and then the Sitges Film Festival, the Film Festival of Ghent, and Razor Reel.

* I've started preparing the Halloween edition of Traveling Cats. Expect lots of cemetery pictures this season.

* I finished my book on Avalon. I'll be sending it out to the first beta-readers this week.

* Also wrote another short film script: Next To Her. More about that soon.

Monday Mishmash
Hosted by Kelly Hashway