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Ray Pride

By Ray Pride

Live free or indie: NH's Lars Trodson challenges NY's Tony Scott

A. O. Scott‘s recent paean to the death of “howler” movies gets a gauntlet thrown down by Lars Trodson in New Hampshire’s Seacoast Online: “A.O. Scott and his peers may feel they see representative regional cinema at the big film festivals. But the idea that the best of the best of these independent films will eventually surface at these festivals, by the way, isn’t always true… This is a difficult and tricky point to make[, but] the idea of film festivals is to celebrate the best, not the worst, so the filmmaker who is wildly off base in his first few tries but has ambition and talent isn’t really going to get seen…. Can the film critic of the New York Times get out of the office and go to film festivals such as the New Hampshire Film Expo? … He should… How many more reviews can you squeeze out of a product that you have no real interest in any more, A.O. Scott?
“This was certainly an implicit message in your “Howlers” essay about the status of Hollywood and in other reviews you write. In your review of Casanova, you wrote: “So I sighed and sank down in my seat, preparing for a long, perfumed ride to Prestigeville.” About the latest Jennifer Aniston movie, you write: “I suppose Rumor Has It could be worse, though at the moment I’m at a loss to say just how.” You sound tired, tired, tired…. Getting out to the heartland of movie-making is certainly not as glamorous as watching films in New York City. You’ll have to sit in dingy auditoriums, suffer through too many conversations with young filmmakers… stay at a hotel that’s uncomfortable and take part in conversations that are howlers in their own right… In the process, you will see some films that, in all their glory, in all their howling glory, may revive your interest in the state of film-making today. Because there will be a moment, maybe just one, but it will be there nonetheless, inside the “train wreck, the catastrophe, the utter and complete artistic disaster” — as you so aptly described these bad films — where you’ll not see just abject failure but also a glimpse of a Scorcese, or a DePalma, and then you’ll know it was worth the trip. So get out of the office. Come see us up in New Hampshire some time.”

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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