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Ray Pride

By Ray Pride

Daniel Neman loved it: A History of Violence

Daniel Neman of the Richmond Times Dispatch saw a different A History of Violence than some of us did; he’s irritated to the max by the tasty minimalism. Neman reviews Cronenberg’s sleek stunner as “a cheap movie, cheaply filmed and cheaply made. And the editing leaves a lot to be desired, too… David Cronenberg ought to know better, but it is clear that he is working with too little money and too little script. [This] shows up plainest in the horrendous digital video photography, in which everyone is cast in a sickly light and looks nauseous. [Cinematographer Peter Suschitzky shot on film with a lovely, pale palette.] The problem with the story is clear when we consider all the filler used just to stretch the movie to an hour and a half… Cronenberg does not help matters by shooting the film so deadpan, so quietly, that it seems slow and uninteresting. The calm is punctuated by occasional bursts of violence and the disgusting special effects that follow them, but they don’t help… It is obvious where Cronenberg’s interest picks up, though it is only in a few places. A couple of sex scenes are raunchy, and it is unusual to see raunchy sex among married couples in the movies these days… He clearly revels in the scenes of blood and gore, though each one looks rather like the others… What doesn’t interest him or the writer is the ending. The [ending] feels like it was written by a committee that jettisoned logic and character motivation just for the sake of ending. The filmmakers want it to end, so it ends.” [For the record, Cronenberg has told interviewers, including yr. correspondent, that the final scene was one of his key demands to New Line, which readily acceded to his choice.]

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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