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Ray Pride

By Ray Pride

Nathan Lee loved it: The Weeping Meadow and drowned worlds

In the New York Sun, Nathan Lee has little patience for Trilogy: The Weeping Meadow, but does manage to work in Katrina, 9/11 and Donnie Darko. “Theo Angelopoulos has announced that his new film is the first part of a trilogy that will attempt a “poetic summing up of the century that just ended.” Those are some mighty big words, and he’s backed them up with a mighty big movie. Just shy of three hours long, Meadow is an epic meditation on Greek history from 1919-49… Mostly what it’s about are thick slabs of cinematography: elaborately orchestrated long shots that unravel the landscape with sinuous self-importance… An early shot introducing us to the characters’ coastal village manages a dozen neat feats of telescoping distance, shifting scale, metamorphic point of view. So that’s what an animated Bruegel looks like…
weeping meadow 1.jpg
But if this is poetry, it hasn’t learned the modernist lessons of concision and concentration. The movie isn’t poorly written; it’s barely written at all. Halfway through the story, the village is wiped out by flood…. It’s a very pretty calamity. This sequence would be impressive in any context. In the wake of Katrina, however, such images penetrate the imagination from unexpected angles, posing unexpected questions. The mind can’t help but struggle to connect them meaningfully to events outside the theater… Mr. Angelopoulos’s ostentatious style invites (but doesn’t reward) the most demanding engagement from its viewer….There is, moreover, a recent and illuminating precedent for the uncanny correspondence of film images to real world disaster. The first movie I saw after September 11 was Donnie Darko” a moody pastiche of sci-fi, satire, and 1980s suburban period piece. Five minutes into the story, a jet engine falls from the sky… The hypersensitive narrative that followed perfectly reflected the mood of New York in those days: tortured introspection, melancholy vertigo, a sense of reality slipping off the rails… The flood images of The Weeping Meadow embrace the viewer in nothing but their own virtuosity.”

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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