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Ray Pride

By Ray Pride

Peter Howell says it's over and it makes him sad

While Toronto Star’s Peter Howell has a 2005 top 10, he’s sounding the knelliest of death knells for the cinema-going experience: “We may look back on this year as the beginning of the end of movie-going as we know it. I’m referring to the magnificent ritual of the past century, whereby film lovers congregate in dark public auditoriums to gaze upon a silver screen reflecting wondrous images. I see this rite changing dramatically, and it saddens me.
This might sound alarmist, and I wish it were simply that. But technological and cultural innovations of the past 12 months have pointed the way to a revolutionary future for the movies, one that few could have envisioned until recently. Watching a film is fast becoming a hermit’s pursuit.”
After a stretch musing on the iPod, Howell writes, “Traditionalists who demand a larger screen may well opt to stay in their basements, viewing a DVD on a new high-definition TV, because the cost of turning your abode into a bijou is rapidly dropping. How many times have you heard people say in the past year that they’d prefer to stay home and watch a movie on DVD, because the quality is so good, the price is right and they don’t have to put up with the cost, the noise, the ads and the rude patrons found in cinemas?… The century-old habit of going out to the movies could become a cult pursuit indulged in by the nostalgic, much like the people who gather for antique car shows. And the films that do get shown in public theatres will either be blockbusters like King Kong or sentimental reissues of Casablanca and other classic fare. Independent and foreign films will be virtually shut out. The vast middle ground of popular entertainment will have been ceded to the single end-user, huddled in a basement or coffee shop.”

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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