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Ray Pride

By Ray Pride

Grain of the VOICE: film crickets put 2005 to bed

A prime highlight of the VOICE year-end movie crickets’ poll is when contributors hone their anti-bourgie cred and press gobbets of caffeinated contrarianism, sultry snobbery and juicy, injudicious phrasing into the mix. Bangkok-based expat Chuck Stephens, who has a naughty one I won’t quote, seldom disappoints. But here’s a personally triumphalist one from his East: “A History of Violence and Land of the Dead are a pair of potent reminders as to why I won’t live anywhere near North America anymore.” Other choice entries in this seventh edition: NYPress’ Armond White spearing the Squid and the Whale: “The almost unbelievably biased critical response in favor of the dreadful Squid and the Whale is proof of what happened when the educated and privileged classes moved into positions of power. They usurped cultural savvy as their own provenance the way they also gentrified neighborhoods—turning the movie theaters into cultural slums. A friend exclaimed that he wouldn’t want to live next door to the people in The Squid and the Whale let alone watch a movie about them.”
Philly City Paper’s Sam Adams on 2046: “More than a year after its Cannes debut, 2046 finally snuck into theaters. Everyone I know already owned the DVD, but many declined to watch it, an act of fetishistic denial perfectly in tune with Wong’s universe.” Plus, this from NYC freelancer Saul Austerlitz: “Caché was so diabolically effective in large part due to the production design. The couple’s apartment was a bourgeois intellectual’s idea of paradise, all modernist furniture, overstuffed bookshelves, and recessed lighting. You could practically hear critics salivating as they pictured their own dingy walk-ups.” Sweetly, concisely, Boston Globe’s Wesley Morris takes on one of the most cavalier of cavils against Brokeback Mountain: “Stonewall, Harvey Milk, Fire Island, Edmund White, John Waters, and Andy Warhol are all going on simultaneously with Ennis Del Mar’s loneliness. But gay culture can’t save him. Gay culture doesn’t know he exists. The idea of his “choosing” to live (and presumably die) alone in that closet of a trailer with two shirts in the middle of nowhere is tragic. It all hails from Annie Proulx, but Ennis is a man after Edith Wharton’s heart.” [My ballot is here.]

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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