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David Poland

By David Poland

The Big Hit

It looks like The Big Hit will be the big hit of the weekend. It’s one of only two films hitting screens in wide distribution this weekend, the other being Warner Bros.’ Tarzan and The Lost City, which has been lost in the shuffle. Tarzan (Casper Van Dien) was on the “next male star” train c/o Starship Troopers when Leo and Matt derailed him. He sure is pretty, though. The Big Hit is full of beautiful men, beautiful women and enough clichés to choke a horse but the performances are good across the board, and a lot of you are going to love this film. (Almost as many of you will hate it.) Look at about $15 million this weekend as teenage girls switch from The Object of My Affection (dropping about 25 percent to third place with $7.3 million) to the objects of erection (Mark, Lou, Antonio and Bokeem are all butt-naked, literally, just minutes after the picture starts). City of Angels should fall just below the $10 million mark in its third weekend. Titanic dazzled us all with a dozen straight weeks over $20 million, but three weeks around $10 million for anything else is big news anytime outside of summer.
The Big Boat should pass up The Big Spaceship this weekend as Titanic continues sailing with just a 20 percent drop to $5.9 million and Lost In Space takes what has become its traditional 45 percent drop to $4.1 million and fifth place. Paulie will probably drop about 25 percent to $4 million and sixth place, though if it follows in Mouse Hunt‘s footsteps, it would actually go up in its second weekend. I’m pretty sure that Tarzan can manage about $3.5 million to open in seventh place, even without Warner Bros.’ full support. Things should be tight the rest of the way with The Odd Couple II dropping about 30 percent to $2.6 million, Mercury Rising dropping 35 percent to $2.4 million and The Players Club and Species 2 sharing tenth with about $2.2 million apiece. And it’s back to the minors for Major League 3 dropping out of the Top 10 line-up altogether.
THE GOOD: Almost no one got sucked into Nightwatch ($585,733) or Suicide Kings ($558,081) last weekend.
THE BAD: Even fewer people got to the quality art house films, The Spanish Prisoner ($316,653) and The Butcher Boy ($224,386).
THE UGLY: Have I mentioned Tarzan and The Lost City yet? Nothing is uglier than when a studio abandons what was meant to be a high-profile project.
THE CONTEST : First, I want to apologize to a few of you who haven’t gotten your prizes yet. Studios are more efficient prize senders than I. All the outstanding stuff went out Thursday. This week, the prizes will come from the Hot Button treasure trove of Deep Impact and The Truman Show stuff. So, click here, enter the contest and win, win, win!
TWO BAD MOVIES EQUAL: Two Girls and a Guy + Suicide Kings = Two Girls and a Suicide King. Heather Graham and Natasha Gregson Wagner are driven to suicide after having to watch Denis Leary attempt to act for two hours. Among the horrible moments, Leary repeatedly insists that Wagner’s mother’s (Natalie Wood) last words were, “I hear you screaming, and I think I’m jumping in.”
JUST WONDERING: I caught Lés Miserables Wednesday night. Lots of good to say about it, but shouldn’t Claire Danes make at least one movie in her career where she doesn’t cry? Tears are becoming to Danes what accents were to Meryl Streep a few years ago. Normally, I pray for young actresses to get past the tight-T-shirted-girlfriend parts, but maybe Danes should be looking to intercept the next screenplay that’s headed to Jennifer Love Hewitt and just have a good time for a change. Or maybe a guest spot on the last episode on “Seinfeld” as the Easy Crier to make the transition to comedy easier?
BAD AD WATCH: I don’t think Two Girls and a Guy is the worst film ever, but writer-director James Toback couldn’t shoot his way out of a paper bag, and whatever part of the film is worth watching (mostly Robert Downey Jr. being his hyperkinetic drug-frenzied self) covers about 10 minutes out of a 90 minute film. Owen Gleiberman‘s pull quote is a good indication of just how out of touch with reality a critic can get. Second place goes to Jeffrey Lyons, whose name seems to be popping up in more and more ads for bad films, for calling Mercury Rising, “Bruce Willis’ Best Film Yet.”
READER OF THE DAY: From The Lady E: “After seeing The Sweet Hereafter for the third time last night, I still think that it’s the best film to come out in the last five years. Not a flaw to be seen. And I’m rankled anew that Jack Nicholson won the Oscar when Ian Holm did such incredible work in this little film. (‘Something has taken our children away from us.’) Arg. I’m also sad that I’m going to have to miss seeing it again Thursday Night (only playing twice this week, suck), but the sacrifice is worth it — test screening of The Truman Show with Peter Weir in attendance. This movie looks awesome from everything that I’ve seen and heard, and I have high hopes that Jim Carrey will prove that he can do a role that doesn’t endlessly irritate me.”

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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