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Friday, April 8, 12:30 p.m. ET

Behind the Screen

Hollywood and Indie Offerings

Desson Thomson
Washington Post Film Critic
Friday, April 8, 2005; 12:30 PM

Have you ever wanted to know what the director had in mind when making a particular film? Or why the producer altered the original screenplay? Why was an actor or actress cast over another? Thomson has answers to these and other questions about filmmaking.

Washington Post film critic Desson Thomson brings Behind the Screen online for a discussion on filmmaking and the art of the cinema.

Desson Thomson (washingtonpost.com)

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_____The Name Change_____
I have changed my name to Desson Thomson. The story is thus: I started life as Desson Patrick Thomson. But my parents divorced when I was a wee lad of five. I lost touch with my father. And my mother remarried to a Howe. To cut a long story short, I was Desson Howe for 40 or so years. And after some personal events which I'll glide over, I felt a need to go in search of my birth father (I have learned not to say "real" father to respect those who are fully connected with their adoptive parents). I eventually traced him to Aberdeen, Scotland. We met and had a wonderful reunion. I also discovered two siblings I didn't know I had. So suddenly, the family name of Thomson made a lot more sense to me than Howe. So I changed my name, and so did my three sons. Hope that explains it, said the Critic Formerly Known as Howe.

Reviews:

Fallon, Farrellys Strike Out With 'Fever Pitch' (Post, April 8)

'Sahara': From Dust Till Yawn (Post, April 8)

'Oldboy's' Powerful Hold (Post, April 8)

Thomson, a movie critic at The Washington Post for 15 years, was raised in England where he was entranced, like most, by Hollywood movies. And it was a visit to see David Lean's "Lawrence of Arabia," that made him realize movies had to be a part of his life.

A transcript follows.

Editor's Note: Washingtonpost.com moderators retain editorial control over Live Online discussions and choose the most relevant questions for guests and hosts; guests and hosts can decline to answer questions.

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washingtonpost.com: Desson is on his way. He's just getting out of a screening. So stay with us.

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Desson Thomson: Hey folks. A few technical problems getting online but we are in bizness. How is everyone? Movies to talk about? Other isshas? Let's chat.

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Laurel, Md.: Any buzz on The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy? The trailer is uproariously funny; people were laughing out loud.

Desson Thomson: I have enormous hopes. I loved the original TV series, and Doug Adams' book. I had the good fortune to interview him before he passed on.

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Maryland 20615: Desson:

Rented SHAUN OF THE DEAD this week ... What a funny film! With many classic lines ... my favorite being: "You've got your pint, you've got your pig snacks ... what else to you need!"

Was wondering though (without giving it away) don't you think Shaun would have been more broken up over the bar if he had known what happened at the end of the movie?

Desson Thomson: Glad you liked that movie. Yes a question to ponder for Shaunoscholars.

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Washington, D.C.: I read recently that studios and several theater chains have reached a deal to install digital projectors. Of course, this will save them both a ton of money in the long run, so surely the savings will be passed along to the consumer in the form of lower ticket prices, right? Right?

On a related note, with the glut of theater chains out there, why isn't there really any difference in ticket prices? Has anyone ever looked into whether or not there's price fixing going on?

Desson Thomson: Good questions. I can't imagine this would lower prices. It would just maximize profits.

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Silver Spring, Md.: God, what an awful weekend for movies (except for Oldboy) when does it get better?

Desson Thomson: There's always hope. Kung fu Hustle is coming.

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Silver Spring, Md.: Desson,

Have you ever been assigned to review a film so awful (but not in a good, "Plan-9" way) that you simply had to get up and leave the theater, even if this violates the Post's rules? (Maybe you could write a one-word review: "Unwatchable.") I can't imagine, for example, sitting through something truly insipid, like "Cat in the Hat" or "Baby Geniuses." What's the worst film you've ever seen?

Desson Thomson: Oooh, worst I have ever seen? Wow. That's truly impossible to say. I have sat through every horrible movie, I regret to say. The grey hair is my proof.

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Washington, D.C.: Hi Desson -- Will be going to see Sin City this weekend, but have also been hoping for a good horror movie as well. I hear Ring 2 was a dismal sequel, but am curious if Amityville remake might be worth it. I read the book many times as a kid and it always freaked me out, so, am hoping this rendition will do Jody some justice. Any chance you have seen it?

Desson Thomson: I see it Tuesday so I can't say. The preview looks creepy enough. Go see Sin City meanwhile. Super film.

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Alexandria, Va.: Wow, it says you're on at 12:30 a.! That's one heck of a jump for Daylight Saving Time.

Desson Thomson: Wow I'm early. Or am I late?

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washingtonpost.com: We're experiencing technical problems again. Please stand by.

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washingtonpost.com: Due to technical problems, Desson's discussion will not continue today. Please consult our Live Online schedule for his next program. We apologize and thank you.

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