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Other Voices

By Other Voices

Bill Tush: December 12, 2003

It seems in the past few weeks I have been blasted with swashbuckling. Limb-lobbing battles in Master and Commander, gruesome, graphic carnage in the Civil War epic Cold Mountain and mythical, computer generated killing in The Return of the King the final installment of Lord of the Rings. Man if there was ever a time for Jack it was now.

Nicholson that is. The film is Something’s Gotta Give. Playing what I would think is himself, a sixty-something bachelor who dates younger women. When he suffers a heart attack at his date’s (Amanda Peet) mother’s home in the Hamptons, it’s Mom who has to nurse him back to health. Mother is a famed playwright Erica Bery, played by Diane Keaton as a woman who has been encased in a protective coating since her twenty year marriage crumbled. Keanu Reeves, by the way, is the doctor who treats Jack’s character and falls for Erica… whom Jack has no interest in, at first.

Okay, so you know where the plot is going. That’s not important now. What is important is that Jack Nicholson once again charms you into his world. I swear he could be the Devil, who, by the way, he once played. Remember Witches of Eastwick (1987)? Give any other actor the same lines and they would fall flat. When Jack does them, you laugh, you cry and you wonder, “Why can’t I say things like that?” Who better to play the older woman than Diane Keaton? Fifityish, in charge of her life and never one to let her guard down, you would think sh, too, is playing herself. The only part of the film that ran a little too long was her ongoing crying jag after Harry and Erica part ways. Of course this works for her because her heartbreak inspires her to write a…. I’m not giving any more away.Something’s Gotta Give is just a fun romp at the movies and sometimes you need that, I did.

Big Fish

I’m a fan of Tim Burton. Not as big a fan as I am of Jack Nicholson, but a fan. To me Ed Wood was brilliant, but the public never got it because they couldn’t believe there ever was such a guy. Edward Scissorhands is a wonderful unbelievable tale. Pee Wee’s Big Adventure I think of as a classic, and there are more. Big Fish, his latest, just leaves me hanging. Okay, so Albert Finney plays the old man who has been spinning tall tales all of his life and is dying of cancer so his son finally accepts his dad’s b.s. and the two reconcile. It seems that earlier William Bloom (Billy Crudup) just couldn’t take any more of his father’s windbag ways. Neither could I. Every time one of these fabrications came on screen I was ready to walk. Burton’s old friend from Batman Returns, Danny DeVito makes an appearance as a ringmaster at some LSD-induced circus for one of the cock and bull bits. Jessica Lange plays old Edward Bloom’s long-suffering wife who long ago just bought into his exaggerating ways. How she stayed married to him so long can only happen in the movies — I was ready to pack it in an hour into the film. Come to think of it, I still can’t figure out the ending of Burton’s Planet of the Apes either.

Cold Mountain

I was blown away by Cold Mountain, the film set in the last days of the Civil War that follows a Southern soldier by the name of Inman (Jude Law) as he makes his way home to the women he left behind. The beautiful Ada is played to perfection by Nicole Kidman. Here comes another Best Actress nomination. In fact, this film has got multiple Oscar nominations all over it and it won’t take a Weinstein campaign to get them. Enter Ruby for comedy relief and Ada’s major source of support. Another Oscar nod will be coming forRenee Zellweger, who plays her. Based on the best selling book by Charles Frazier, Screenwriter and Director Anthony Minghella comes up with a movie that has it all. From violent battle scenes to comedy and a major love story throughout. Hey, give Minghella a nomination while you’re at it, for both the screenplay and directing. My wife asked that I not compare it to the sacred cow, Gone With The Wind, but it is the best civil war era love story I have seen since.

It must have been Saving Private Ryan that first brought the horrors of battle realistically to the big screen. The films made since have made them even more graphic. Cold Mountain may top them all. The huge North and South confrontation near the film’s beginning at times can be hard to watch. This was truly hand-to-hand combat. You can almost smell it.

Meanwhile, I have noticed the former Mr. Nicole KidmanTom Cruise has been doing everything to promote his newest film, The Last Samurai short of selling the tickets in the box office. He must have a ton of his money in this project is all I can figure. When he was promoting Jerry Maguire, he didn’t do the usual Junket routine. I interviewed him forCNN at the Sony building in New York. There was just a chosen few who got the opportunity to talk with Cruise. Even the great Larry King carried his little desk microphone up Fifth Ave. to talk with Cruise. For the Last Samurai Cruise was even doing phone interviews on local radio stations.

Which reminds me. I could not be happier forNicole Kidman‘s success. Isn’t it interesting how it has all come since her divorce from Tom. What was she under some kind of Cruise control? Just a thought.

Cold Mountain is a film that both men and women will love, but if you are in my situation you might want to go separately. My wife, Lisa, is born and raised in Georgia. She is Southern through and through. I, on the other hand, am a Northerner. For the first hour of the film I could tell by her body language that she was just thinking, “Those damn Yankees.”
Let’s put it this way. I asked her once if she would like to visit Gettysburgh some weekend. Of course I had to ask if it would be alright, since I didn’t remember which side won that battle. Her answer, “The war isn’t over yet.”

And hurry, hurry, rent Gigli before somebody else does. Don’t buy it, you’ll be sorry. At least you can return the worst film made this year after watching about ten minutes of it. As I’m sure you know, the film that starred America’s hot couple Ben Affleck andJennifer Lopez barely lasted a week in theatres. Now it’s on video. She plays a lesbian who teams up with his small time hood guy to pull of a scam by kidnapping a mentally challenged kid. The kid is like around thirty and all he wants to do is be on the set ofBaywatch. How mentally challenged is he. I wouldn’t mind being on the set of Baywatchmyself. The chemistry between Bennifer is non-existent. Let’s hope they do better behind closed doors. Bottom line is some bad films are just fun to watch to see how bad they are, then there is Gigli.

That’s thirty for now. Say hello to me over at

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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