MCN Blogs
David Poland

By David Poland

Readers Week

Well, everyone, about now I’m out on the open Pacific, headed toward Puerto Vallarta. I’m probably about 2.3 pounds heavier already and I have a slight burn on my nose. My “King of The World” camera has picked up 89 guys trying to pick up women by hanging off the front of the cruise ship and screaming the phrase that pays. And now, day one of you and you alone. Let the ranting begin.
That Stuff We Watch by killcows
“Movies are lost. Why do I say this, you ask? As with any legitimate art form, movies should come from the artist’s soul. But looking at the majority of films out there, especially the big-budget summer films that everyone sees, you’ll notice that they’ve become simple money-making machines for rich guys sitting in a mansion in L.A. that people like me only dream about.
Look at Godzilla. Do you think that someone said ‘I have this great idea that needs to be made into a movie because it is so powerful and entertaining,’ or ‘I have an idea that’s gonna get us a couple hundred million dollars and will be tied-in with every T-shirt, Happy Meal and action figure made next summer, and if we hurry production, we can have a sequel that makes twice as much the next year and gives us summer control for two years?’ Do you think Mortal Kombat was as cared about by its creators as Sling Blade or Citizen Kane?
It seems the only films that are really great these days are indies and the occasional accidental big-budget film on which somebody mistakenly installed an intelligent director and great writer set on making a classic. Steven Speilberg’s early stuff and the Star Wars movies, and a few other sci-fi and fantasy movies are the only films like that. Movies these days usually fall into clearly distinguishable categories: Sci-fi films usually are the best big-budget film type, since they require vision to create a completely different world. Action movies always seem to follow a simple formula and have little plot strung together by great explosions and fights.
Thrillers can be the worst, since they can be incredibly fake and stereotypical with bad plots. Comedy seems to all involve sex jokes and sight gags these days. Romance is usually boring and stupid, and stereotyped characters get into stereotypical situations that bring them together and then there are stereotypical relationship problems. Drama is almost non-existent. It exists in disaster and romance movies or sci-fi. Real drama, just drama is like Citizen Kane or It’s a Wonderful Life or period novel adaptations or Sling Blade or Rain Man. Most drama films are the indie films, and that’s why the industry is bad. It’s uninspired, rehashing the same stories and formulas.”
And now for something completely different…
My Rants by Annie Larsen
Primary Colors was a mediocre movie, but I’m sure it’ll be up for some statues next year because all the political aspects were there. But come on, folks, doesn’t anyone agree with me that 1. it wasn’t THAT funny, 2. it was, at times, about as interesting as a REAL political campaign and 3. it had some seriously nasty stereotypes going on? Regarding No. 3, I’m not usually terribly offended by stuff in movies. But when I first saw that there was a strong woman in the movie (Kathy Bates) and two women with short hair, I was pleasantly surprised. Too often Hollywood says, ‘Longer is more beautiful’ in regards to how much hair a woman should have. But then, of course, the strong woman (who had short hair) and the other short-haired women were… lesbians! Of course! How else could a woman in a movie be allowed to be pretty without long, flowing strands of hair, or be allowed to be strong without needing a guy? Ugh!
Other rants: Could somebody please set up a charity fund to give to any athletes who are considering a career in acting in the near future? We need some way to persuade them out of it. Think of the horror we could have saved some people if we’d had this for Dennis Rodman and Shaq.
I really wish somebody would make a movie about a strong woman who has her own life and career, is satisfied with that and is not considered a bitch. She wouldn’t need a lover, in fact, she wouldn’t even talk about sex or her lack of a man in the entire movie. She could be funny and have a personality without needing a guy. This is my dream. Can you do it, Hollywood? You failed miserably with Contact, so I’m beginning to have my doubts.
We need more action movies that contain actual plots. The Rock was the only example I’ve found so far in this genre.
And please can we lay off the disaster movies? How many do we need? How many more will people sit through? Twister had more errors than you can shake a stick at.
The typical box office today will give you: one romantic comedy, one action/monster flick with no plot, one disaster movie with no plot, one sad movie with a plot (usually about the disease of the week), one kids’ movie that makes you want to puke and one movie starring a cast member from ‘Friends.’ Take your pick.”
BOX OFFICE CONTEST WINNERS: With Dave out sailing the blue waters of the Pacific, I had the great honor of tabulating box office winners, and boy was I impressed. While not a single person picked the surprise Paulie to jump into fifth place, a whopping 20 contestants picked the top four right on target. I went ahead and based your score on what you gave the fifth place film, even though most of you chose Lost in Space. Coming in at first, with almost spotless numbers (he missed three by only $100,000) was Brian Greene from Florida. Impressive! Enrique Ortiz also strutted some serious knowledge by missing by a mere $700,000. Hey, Enrique, send Dave a shout-out because you didn’t leave any info for me to contact you. Great job all! We’re starting to get all set for this upcoming weekend, so start studying.

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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