MCN Columnists
David Poland

By David Poland

Monday, 15 September 1997

It was no contest as The Game won the weekend box office race. It was the only real contestant. With over $14 million at the box office, it did more than four times as much as G.I. Jane, yet fitting its labyrinthine plot, The Game disappointed. It was Douglas’ best opening since Basic Intinct’s $15.1 million, but movies had a longer theatrical life back then. It was the second best September opening ever, after last year’s The First Wives Club, but Goldie, Bette and Diane did $18.9 million, 35 percent more than The Game. Ultimately, The First Wives Club hit $100 million. The Game won’t come close. Especially with L.A. Confidential coming in hot on its tail.
Speaking of L.A. Confidential, the first of this year’s serious Academy Awards contenders, it has three remarkable features. First, with an Oscar in hand, Kevin Spacey now gets top billing for playing the same kind of small character part he played when he was billed fourth. Second, two Australians, who first became famous for their work as gay men — Guy Pierce in Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, and Russell Crowe in The Sum Of Us — are now going to be known as hard-bitten L.A. detectives from the ’50s. And third, Kim Basinger really can act. The degree of amazement may not be in the order listed.
Sony’s promoting Gattaca by running realistic print ads for genetic engineering with a small Sony tag on the bottom. Those interested are instructed to call 1-888-4-BEST-DNA. Don’t dial quite yet. The number wasn’t working as of posting time. Seems that there has been some controversy about the ads being too real and somehow insulting those of us who haven’t been genetically engineered. For my two cents, I wouldn’t put my child’s DNA in the hands of a company that couldn’t come up with a better name for a movie than Gattaca. gattaca_ad.jpg
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It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
~ Hampton Fancher

“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon