Odds & Ends: Director Obsessions and Screenwriter Break-Ups

Because my available time to write is more limited these days than I’d like, I’ve decided to create a post to compile some quick-hit thoughts on news that might be pertinent to the interests of this blog.

I’ll leave it to our readers to discuss further in the Comments, if you’d like.

Orci and Kurtzman Trek into Darkness Separately

Found at: Variety

The powerhouse team of screenwriters Roberto Ori and Alex Kurtzman – responsible for penning some of the worst big-budget blockbusters of recent years, including ‘Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen’, ‘Cowboys & Aliens’ and ‘Star Trek into Darkness’ – have officially parted company to go their separate ways. Allegedly, the split was amicable, and the two men simply want to focus on solo projects. How much truth there is in that, I have no idea.

Orci is said to be lobbying intensely to take over as director on the next ‘Star Trek’ sequel. That sounds like an absolutely horrible idea to me.

Blastr describes the split as “the end of an era in blockbuster film.” Hardly. All this really means is that the two guys will be able to churn out twice as much crap separately as they could together. Also, they’ll continue to collaborate on TV projects in any case.

Aaron Sorkin Admits He Blew It

Found at: Vulture

Never previously a man known for his humility, TV writer/producer Aaron Sorkin gave a speech at the Tribeca Film Festival in which he apologized for the heavy-handed, sanctimonious preachiness that made much of his HBO series ‘The Newsroom’ so unbearable. However, he insists that the problem was more with tone than with intention.

“I think that there’s been a terrible misunderstanding. I did not set the show in the recent past in order to show the pros how it should have been done. That was and remains the furthest thing from my mind.”

Well, that’s just bullshit. Telling the pros how they should have done it is the whole point and purpose of the series.

Sorkin says that he’s “just now starting to learn how to write it.” Better late than never, right? Hopefully, this means that the upcoming third (and final) season will be an improvement.

Our recapper Shannon and I will no doubt continue to disagree over the merits of the series. I thought the first season was a disastrous mess, and the second made some (uneven) strides toward correcting that. He, on the other hand, felt that the first season was nearly flawless and the second a huge blunder.

Steven Soderbergh Makes Fan-Edits Now

Found at: Extension 765 via Indiewire

Now in self-imposed retirement from feature filmmaking, Steven Soderbergh apparently has far too much time on his hands. In the blog at his weird web shop Extension 765, the director recently posted a video he calls ‘Heaven’s Gate: The Butcher’s Cut’, in which he (using the alias Mary Ann Bernard) has taken it upon himself to re-edit Michael Cimino’s notoriously bloated four-hour Western down to a brisk 108 minutes. This was done entirely on his own without any approval or authorization, simply because he’s obsessed with the film.

I haven’t had time to watch it in full yet, but ‘Heaven’s Gate’ suffers from so much padding and repetition that this could very well be an improvement. However, Indiewire claims that Soderbergh cut the sublime roller-skating scene, which was easily the highlight of the entire movie.

William Friedkin Submits User Review for His Own Movie

Found at: Amazon

Confirmed via the director’s Twitter account, William Friedkin submitted an Amazon review for the newly reissued DVD edition of his movie ‘Sorcerer’.

Unlike the new Blu-ray release, which has been freshly remastered, the corresponding DVD from Warner Bros. merely recycles an old, pan&scan video transfer that dates back to the VHS era.

While I’ve taken Friedkin to task in the past for some of the absurd decisions he’s made concerning the presentation of his movies on video, he’s firmly in the right on this one. If the studio already has a new HD master ready for the Blu-ray, there’s no excuse at all for not downsampling a copy of that to standard definition and pressing it onto a DVD.


  1. Chris B

    Not everything Orci and Kurtzman have has been crap, MI:3 was easily the best of the first 3 movies in the franchise (I actually think it’s the best out if all 4 but I know people lose it when you suggest Ghost Protocol isn’t nearly as fantastic as they think it is). And the Star Trek reboot was a hell of a lot of fun. Albeit their recent work has been decidedly sub-par, a break-up is probably best for them and us as movie-goers.

    Have never seen a single episode of The Newsroom so I can’t comment. I do think Aaron Sorkin is a fantastic writer, but even in the waning days of The West Wing the preachiness became rather abrasive.

    I’m still bummed Soderburgh is already retired, hopefully it’s not a permanent thing. I wonder what Cimino thinks of his new cut of the film? Wait….I can probably guess.

    I’m appalled WB would pull a dirty trick like that for the Sorcerer release…that’s inexcusable.

    • Could swear I left a reply to your comment about this? Was is removed? Anyway, I agree, I enjoy a lot of what Orci and Kurtzman have done. And I really do not understand Josh’s hatred for them. While I did not love the Spock/Kirk reversal trick and the way forced “Khann!!” moment I enjoyed the rest of the movie and I have had no real complaints about any of their other work. I will say that as people have more success our society seems intent on attacking people for it. But I guess thats nothing new.

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