Monday, May 18, 2009

One Of My Favorite Screenwriters Is...Scott Frank?

I love when this happens. You watch a movie, like it enough to look it up on IMDb, and see a name attached to it that sounds vaguely familiar. You click on the name and discover that this person has been involved with several other movies you really enjoyed.

This weekend, the wife and I revisited Dead Again, an overlooked and underrated movie from the early 90s starring Kenneth Branagh and Emma Thompson, back when the pair were still an item. The story follows Branagh as an LA private eye helping out Thompson, a woman suffering from amnesia and horrific nightmares that always end the same way: with a pair of old-fashioned scissors about to be plunged into her torso. The story is entertaining, literate, and has arguably two fantastic twists toward the end. It also features Branagh's personal idol, Derek Jacobi, Andy Garcia, and (Shhh, don't tell anyone because his name does not appear in the credits) Robin Williams in a terrific little role that foreshadowed his later work in Insomnia and One Hour Photo. If you haven't seen it, I recommend it because it's an interesting take on the detective story, and it's really well-filmed. (SPOILER ALERT) I especially love how the climaxes of both plotlines are intercut at the end of the film. Just don't take the ridiculously over-the-top death of the villain at the end too seriously (END OF SPOILER ALERT).

Anyways, I've always thought Dead Again was a well-written and very creative story, so after we watched it I did some snooping on IMDb. I saw that Scott Frank penned the screenplay, so I clicked on his name and made one of those great discoveries: I've really enjoyed a lot of this guy's stories.

It turns out Mr. Frank also wrote the screenplay for Get Shorty, Out of Sight, Minority Report!!!, The Interpreter, and...wait for it...The Lookout!

If you haven't heard of The Lookout, this one is worth checking out. It's a neo-noir set in the Midwest starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt as a former high school star athlete suffering from a brain injury that prevents him from remembering things for extended periods of time, who gets swept up in a bank heist. It's well-acted, and the plot is tight and well-executed. Not to mention, this was also Scott Frank's directorial debut, and he does a marvelous job.

So yes, I can honestly say that Scott Frank is now one of my favorite screenwriters. Check out Dead Again and The Lookout if you get a chance.


Nick Hughes said...

Sounds like JG-L had some problems with the architecture of his mind in that movie.

I remember loving Out of Sight when it first came out. That was back when J-Lo was a respected actress and George Clooney played a silly Batman. Those were the days.

Brian O'Rourke said...

He most certainly did. That guy can act his ass off too.

I only saw Out of Sight once, but remember it being a very good movie. Soderbergh directed it, and that was back when he got nominated by the Academy for getting out of bed in the morning. As you alluded to, those were the days.

seanag said...

I will, well, look out for The Lookout.

Speaking of movies that you've recommended, I ran into Adam Scott's mom today, and I mentioned that we'd been talking about his appearance in 'The Matador'. Or, despite being unable to come up with the title or the names of eother of the major actors, we somehow managed to figure out which movie I was talking about. (I am a little brain-dead after the move, apparently.) She said that though it was a small part, he and his then girlfriend, now wife, had a great free vacation out of it.

Brian O'Rourke said...


Wow, that's pretty cool. You know, all you have to do is write a decent screenplay and you could break into Hollywood with no problem via Adam Scott.

I hope the move went well!