MCN Blogs
David Poland

By David Poland

The Campaign Against Munich

What to do, what to do?

Be Sociable, Share!

128 Responses to “The Campaign Against Munich”

  1. Crow T Robot says:

    Poland, when you say the movie will die without comment from Spielberg, do you mean Box Office death or Oscar death? Wouldn’t that indicate either is important to this film, which I’m sure if you ask the filmmaker he would say is not. The movie will be released. It will be discussed. Moving on.
    You didn’t see Mel Gibson running around defending his film. And some were livid! But to speak for your own art seems a little redundant. And it often plays right into the hands of the Agenda People.
    As for the Oscars… they can go Streisand themselves.

  2. Wonder17 says:

    This may sound obvious, but I’m curious if Spielberg is exhausted right now and not up to fight. He just made this film in record time and maybe he’s just at the point where he’s saying, “Screw everybody, let the film speak for itself.” Yes, I agree he should stand up for his film and it does need someone to fight for it, but Spielberg has to lead the charge.
    Brokeback mania is such an easier train to jump onto right now. It’s right there, ready for everyone to get behind it. Will most of the voters not want to spend the effort to fight for so many difficult oscar contenders like Munich and Brokeback? Maybe films like Match Point and King Kong will get slots that Munich might deserve come oscar time; just for the fact that the right wing smothered Spielberg’s vision beyond recognition. Or maybe… Munich isn’t that much of an emotional ride and moviegoers will find it distant and disconnected. I hope I’m wrong.

  3. Jeremy Smith says:

    I think Spielberg very definitely believes in “good and bad”, too. It’s just that he’s also wise enough to realize that what’s considered “good and bad” can get twisted when you’re being stripped of your national identity and oppressed. Until we accept the mess we’ve made, we’ll never move forward, and more blood will be needlessly spilled.

  4. Jeremy Smith says:

    Also, the right plays a game of extreme simplification where it’s impossible to win if you’re advocating a nuanced position, as Spielberg is doing with MUNICH. They’ve been formulating this attack for months, and if the Academy is susceptible to being spun by the same people who called them on the red carpet for (wrongly, in my opinion) denigrating THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST, then so be it. Spielberg’s film will stand the test of time. Hell, it took a decade for EMPIRE OF THE SUN to get its due, and, even then, it’s still rarely discussed as the masterpiece that it is.

  5. Eric says:

    If Spielberg did his job, then what he has to say on the matter is in the film itself.

  6. David Poland says:

    Crow… Gibson talked endlessly about his movie, for months and months before it was released. And when he was attacked, particularly by the NYT, he talked some more.

  7. David Poland says:

    You can lead a whore to water, but you can’t make her think.

  8. Jeremy Smith says:

    “You can lead a whore to water, but you can’t make her think.”
    And that is the tragedy of our national discourse. Spielberg distinguishes himself by not keeping out of the fray.

  9. Jeremy Smith says:

    I meant to say “by keeping out of the fray”.

  10. Hopscotch says:

    Yeah, I was so sick to death of the “Media is beating up Mel Gibson” mantra of last year. Yeah, he really took a beating when 20/20 devoted a full hour to him making it, all the magazine covers he put himself on…poor Mel.
    I honestly beleive Munich hasn’t gotten more of a big awards push is because I’m guessing less than one thousand people have seen the film thus far. When more see it, the more we’ll talk and the more it’ll get defended.

  11. James Leer says:

    What is it that makes “Brokeback” a “tragic P.C. romance”? Is it inherently P.C. because it focuses on two gay men? Can’t it just be a story? I don’t think Proulx had anything “P.C.” in mind when she wrote it, and the movie hews remarkably close to her vision.

  12. Hopscotch says:

    And I’ll also say that I’ve been reading Wells’ column longer than Poland’s…and I’m thinking of jumping ship on Wells right now. His devotion on “Munich” is past a little crazed. Did Spielberg stand him up on a date once? I mean he’s thrashed the idea, the poster, the trailer, the movie, the way Spielberg’s marketing it… I mean I’m so put off this guy right now. He can write whatever he wants and I disagree with him half the time, but this feels much more personal.

  13. jeffmcm says:

    Gotta fill those column inches.
    It’ll be nice once the movie comes out and we can all dig in, which is probably what Spielberg’s waiting for. The public has almost always been his biggest friend.

  14. RoepersGottaGo says:

    DP, did you get a chance to read David Brooks’ column in the New York Times over the weekend. I cant stand Brooks, he contradicts himself every time he puts pen to paper, it seems. Any thoughts?

  15. Bruce says:

    Using the term “Swift Boat’d” is not the right usage of it. By saying that you are saying all these columnists are in the right and they know something about someone they worked with. As the Swift Boat Vets were. You want to see they’re pulling a “Rather”. Miscalculating facts. Using phony arguments. It works better.

  16. Mr. Emerson says:

    For the life of me, I don’t understand what’s happening with Munich at all.
    For years, Spielberg has had his detractors: the people who dislike high-concept movies (which he helped popularize), the people who can’t appreciate the childlike wonder which still permeates his work, the people who for years have described him as entertainer first and filmmaker second. My own nagging instance of this syndrome is Damien Bona’s apparently tossed-off comment in “Inside Oscar” that only Spielberg could have made a Holocaust movie with a happy ending. He just can’t keep the lightness out of his work…even The Color Purple and Minority Report had up endings.
    So now Spielberg has made a film which reflects reality, which, from the looks of things, introduces all the shades of gray and psychological nervousness and fear and deep introspection which doesn’t always up in his movies. I would have expected the critical community to be happy.
    But they’re not. They’re attacking him for throwing out the emotional manipulation, for not simply giving us the happy ending and the easy answers.
    I agree with David…there IS good and evil, lies and truth, but there are always so many sides to the truth. For years, so many films which have garnered the praise, the awards, the whole shebang have been lauded for their stark honesty and questioning and searching for some kind of answer.
    I have not yet seen Munich, admittedly, but from everything I have heard, from everything David and others have written, it seems Spielberg has done just that. And it has so far earned him nothing.
    I apologize if this post went on too long…I just don’t understand it.

  17. bicycle bob says:

    thats what spielberg gets for hiring tony “marxist” kushner. people have been calling this type of backlash and discussion since the summer. munich is going to be a typical left wing hollywood give peace a chance movie. “why can’t we all get along?” “war is not the answer” “jews are at fault too” “the plo was justified” “eye for an eye never solves anything” “israel is the cause of all problems”. yadda yadda blah blah
    i hope he at least gives us an exciting dramatic movie but most reviews are saying the same things about it. its slow. its meandering. its boring. which is the kiss of death.

  18. jeffmcm says:

    So Bob, if it was Marxist propaganda, but still exciting to watch, it wouldn’t bother you?

  19. lindenen says:

    “But they’re not. They’re attacking him for throwing out the emotional manipulation, for not simply giving us the happy ending and the easy answers.”
    I don’t think this is true at all. I think they’re saying his exploration of the issue is bullshit.
    Also, it’s inappropriate to say Spielberg is being swiftboated. This isn’t a he said-she said about something that happened twenty+ years ago, and the only people capable of knowing the truth are those involved. Everyone will be able to see Munich and judge for themselves what they think is right. Instead of claiming he’s being swiftboated why don’t those who’ve seen it just answer the criticisms of the film? Is that NYPost article really true when it says Spielberg depicts his main character getting off to the killing of Arabs? If so, how can anyone defend this? And how does that NOT count as emotional manipulation of the worst kind?

  20. David Poland says:

    Bruce – Political positions aside, Swift Boat was not successful because it was or was not true. (not really interested in starting that conversation here either) It was effective because many people chose to believe it for various reasons.
    Dan Rather was caught in a big, politcally-biased mistake. But it was quite different and he paid a price that none of the Swift boaters did… in part because they did not have Rather’s position of authority. Rather’s report has never been proven wrong and neither has that of the “Swift Boat Veterans.” But that is really besides the point.
    McCarthyism is not right either because this is not a state-driven movement.
    Whatever side you are on, the effort here – Brooks to Peyser and beyond – is intended to do damge, not seek truth. And the Swift Boat ads, even if true, did the same. It was not about balancing a moral situation, except personally for some veterans. But the ads were beyond thier personal issues. They were puppets in national political theater and those were attack ads.
    This is much like movie marketing. Good marketing is good marketing… the quality of the movie is an entirely separate issue.

  21. lindenen says:

    “Rather’s report has never been proven wrong and neither has that of the “Swift Boat Veterans.”
    The documents Rather based his report on were obvious forgeries written on Microsoft Word.

  22. jeffmcm says:

    Oh god…here we go…
    The documents were fake, but the underlying facts that they were going to support have never been proven wrong…

  23. David Poland says:

    The sex scene, which is actually his main character is lost in his thoughts about the Munich massacre while having some rather intense sex with his wife, is up for a lot of debate.
    No, he is not getting off to killing Palestinians. And no, I would not say he’s getting off to anyone being killed.
    To put it flatly, only a fool would use the word “daydreaming” to describe Avner’s experience in that scene. And one has to be willfully simplifying to see that scene through that prism.
    The scene is about choosing love over guilt and violence. And it is stunning that Spielberg, who is not very subtle, even reached for it. I’m not sure it’s 100% successful. But Peyser spun it in an unreasonably ugly way.

  24. David Poland says:

    And please… can we table the discussion of the details of Rather and Swift Boat. I really was trying to engage a discussion of what those events meant to people, not the ongoing arguments over the veracity of either claim.
    I would be okay with that discussion, but there is no answer and it will just get ugly.

  25. lindenen says:

    Thank god. But if Peyser sees it that way, how many others will? I just need to see it to see if the interpretation is not correct as you claim.
    What about this statement from the article though?
    ” In Time magazine, Spielberg reveals how Hollywood he’s sunk. About the Israelis, he said, tellingly, “A response to a response doesn’t really solve anything.”
    Wait! The unprovoked atrocity carried out by Arabs in Munich is a “response?” To what, exactly? To the existence of Israel? “
    His statement is demonstrably ignorant. All one has to do is think about WWII or the Civil War or any other war that was fought with eventual victory to know his statement is ludicrous. If Israel (and by obvious extension America) solves nothing by responding to terrorist attacks against her citizens, what should they do? Just wait to be murdered in their beds? Or on a bus? We should just lay down and die? Is this really what Spielberg thinks? Or has Hollywood rotted his brain? If the answer is that they should just leave Israel (because I seriously doubt he’d agree with the idea they should just lay down and die), then isn’t it obvious he’s anti-Israeli? He’s essentially calling for the disestablishment of Israel.

  26. jeffmcm says:

    I agree DP, there’s no point in wasting time in neverending back and forth argument – which is sort of the point of the movie, right?

  27. RoepersGottaGo says:

    I dont think Spielberg is saying either of those things. He is talking about the cycle of violence. Bloodshed begets bloodshed. To what end though? What is being accomplished?
    This is interesting conversation. I cant wait until we get to actually see the film.

  28. jeffmcm says:

    Also, without having seen the movie, it sounds like it argues that civilized nations should hold themselves to higher standards – that by responding in a way identical to how the terrorists act, they cede the moral high ground. That’s just what I get from the trailer.

  29. Mark Ziegler says:

    If you thought Spielberg was going to take any stance other than “Response other than talking is bad”, you were kidding yourself.

  30. PandaBear says:

    I have a feeling Munich is this years Phantom of the Opera. But didn’t Phantom at least get a Golden Globe nom????

  31. Joseph says:

    I agree that Spielberg needs to throw his thoughts in on the film, now that those against the film have quite the ire going. From the Time piece that I read it seemed that Spielberg was really optomistic about the film causing serious discussion rather than out-there attacks (how else can one characterize the author of “Indecent Proposal” calling Spielberg’s faith into question, despite his humanitarian efforts, all because of “Munich”). I haven’t seen the movie but like all films I see I’ll give it the benefit of the doubt (to say the least for “Munich,” being that Spielberg is the director of some of the best films I’ve ever seen).
    As for the sex scene in question it’s even called into question in the review in “Entertainment Weekly.” As yet the website has yet to post who wrote it (it reads like Glieberman though) but overall the movie got an A and that scene was taken into account as being a little over-the-top. To me it reads like what the scene is about is a battle between Avner’s passion that he’s exerted as a human being: is he justified making love to his wife–body and soul–when his soul has killed people with questionable justification. It’s the war within the statement “make love, not war”–can one do both? Okay, that’s REALLY out there, and I haven’t seen the movie to note whether I believe that’s what the scene is really about, but because of all these criticisms I’m ready I kinda have to look on the optomistic side of everything the film stands since the nay-sayers have such a voice at the moment.
    Maybe it’s naive for Spielberg, in this day in age, to simply release a movie and have it speak for itself, what with how instantly anybody can comment on it (whether they’ve seen the movie or not) before the masses know when the movie is to be released–let alone whether the masses have seen it. I’m sure it’s a struggle with how informed Spielberg wants the potential audience to be before they see the film (thinkin’ that if he doesn’t speak then how could anybody else) but in this day and age everyone is a know-it-all (or so they claim to be) and you have give as much to keep the pro-con sides of the spectrum as balanced as possible as to let the audience decide for themselves. It’s time get personal, talk about why this project justified him, and why the film should stand for something the naysayers aren’t validating.

  32. Nicol D says:

    Without seeing this film yet it is hard to speak to specifics, and with Spielberg I give benefit of the doubt.
    Just a few thoughts;
    I have not seen a mass ‘right-wing’ campaign against Munich yet. Peyser is hardly a well known pundit. When Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter start attacking it (they have not that I have heard or read) then perhaps this argument would be valid.
    Many of the detractors of the film are in fact very left-wing critics (Mr. Blue State himself, Jeff Wells is leading the charge with others) and some Jewish organizations/pundits who are on other issues also very left.
    Hindsight is 20/20.
    Gibson talked about the Passion but not to mainstream media. He played the situation very differently and had a different situation to play with. He was attacked by Hollywood itself and the mainstream media. He therefore talked to his constituency, conservatives and church-groups to get support for the film. He gave one mainstream interview to Diane Sawyer and posed for no entertainment cover stories that I know of. When The Passion was covered, the mags usually used paintings and bizarre artists renditions of Gibson wearing a crown of thorns to ridicule him. Most were op/ed pieces which Gibson took no part of.
    In retrospect, to follow the Gibson model, Spielberg could have showed this film to the groups whom maybe he could have forseen being offended such as pro-Israel groups (many conservatives love Spielberg’s work) and general Jewish organizations who see him as a hero. He could have not made the film in a vacuum so by the time it came out he could call on their support to defend him.
    Hiring Tony Kushner was a bad call all around. He is to this project what Mel’s dad was to him on The Passion; a nut case you don’t want to have to justify once the going gets tough. But- Mel did not have a choice, Spielberg did.
    Hiring an avowed Marxist (can we say communist?) who is very anti-Israel? Already you are loading a bullet into the opposing teams gun for them.
    I want to see this film now more than ever as it does seem like a genuinely challenging project (whether I like it or not).
    I love Spielberg, but sadly, many of his missteps on this project seem to have come from him not being able to see clearly due to his ego. Mel mixed with the rural/average types to get his film going…Spielberg seems to be ‘above it all’. More concerned with the Oscar cache. Damn. If only he realized he is so above it.
    Finally, do not underestimate the left-wing people/critics dumping on Munich so they can take it out to make room for the PC message of Brokeback Mountain. In the New Left hierarchy, the message of Brokeback Mountain trumps the message of Munich.

  33. jeffmcm says:

    The difference is that a large part of the intelligentsia respects Kushner. Gibson’s dad never won a Pulitzer.

  34. Angelus21 says:

    I’ve seen just as many on the Left attack “Munich” as well. And everyone that has attacked it has specific reasons and mostly they have to do with the movie. Peyser for example. She had major issues with the movie. I don’t think she cared one way or the other which side Spielberg chose. She just wanted him to pick a side and go with it. She didn’t like the movie. That’s not really attacking it.
    Maybe this is Amistad 2. And not the Oscar juggernaut we thought.

  35. jeffmcm says:


  36. Joseph says:

    I’m not a subscriber to the NYPost but from the preview of the article that I read Peyser does call Spielberg out as being too left-winged. To me that’s a blatant complaint about Spielberg’s politics, and how it shaped his approach to the film. I don’t care if she wrote from then on her dislikes having only to do with the scenes themselves, in the beginning she attacked Spielberg (well, if you believe that the political IS personal).

  37. jeffmcm says:

    That last comment would make more sense if Angelus hadn’t squeezed in between there.

  38. jeffmcm says:

    Damn. Not Joseph’s comment, mine. I give up.

  39. lindenen says:

    Joseph, if you go to you can get a password and username to gain access to the Sometimes you have to try several usernames though because some idiots forget to verify their registration, so the password doesn’t work. This happens a lot.

  40. David Poland says:

    The real Spielberg quote… not about the events at Munich…
    “More significantly, Spielberg wonders if the Israelis and the Palestinians will ever find peace. “I’m always in favor of Israel responding strongly when it’s threatened. At the same time, a response to a response doesn’t really solve anything. It just creates a perpetual-motion machine,” he says. “There’s been a quagmire of blood for blood for many decades in that region. Where does it end? How can it end?”
    Thanks for pointing out that Ms. Peyser is actually a liar, taking a quote about one thing out of context to fry him on something else.
    And Munich is a much better movie in almost everyone’s opinion than Phantom or Amistad… cheap shot…

  41. Richard Nash says:

    Peyser just comments on S Spielberg being a Hollywood Leftist. Which he is I may add. We all figured what direction this picture was taking once they signed the writer. That is how Spielberg wanted this. He has some cajones if he thinks that one little picture will effect relations in the area. It goes a little more deep.
    One other thing. What Spielberg bases the story on has been disputed by almost everyone as unfactual. The book that is. Forget what it is called. I think it’s “Vengeance”. But it has been disputed by the Mossad and the Israeli government.

  42. Hopscotch says:

    Who cares if the Israeli government “disputes the facts”? How does that effect the movie?
    Mike Wallace and Don Hewitt dispute eventds depicted in “The Insider”. Doesn’t make it a bad movie, or a relevant movie.
    Lets take a look at some pretty obvious shit our government can’t agree on.

  43. PetalumaFilms says:

    Great convo, wish I could chime in more but I’m really trying hard NOT to read anything about movies I haven’t seen. However…
    I think David saying MUNICH is being “Swiftboated” is right on…not so much for the circumstance or a literal comparison, but more for the way the “right” is playing the offensive. The articles mentioned (Peyser and Wells namely) seem to be planting a seed in the minds of readers well before the film comes out. Much the same way the swiftboat accusations needed only to be planted, not verified or proven false. It’s an a-typical “whisper campaign.”
    I also think Spielberg does need to respond or else the anti-MUNICHers will damage the film. However, I don’t know how he can respond because once Hannity/Limbaugh/Savage grab hold of this story, it’s good night Irene. And trust me, they will grab hold of this because that way they don’t have to back-peddle on praising Bush and the war in Iraq.
    Maybe Spielberg can do the Daily Show or Letterman or something. Whatever happens, it’s interesting stuff.

  44. mutinyco says:

    Funny. I guess I’m the only person who thinks Spielberg is setting a trap.
    Aren’t these people doing exactly what the film is trying to teach against? Wait till it hits a certain point, then he’ll talk. And place it in a moral context that they can’t reply to without proving his point that violence (attacking) is destructive and that dialogue is the only answer.

  45. Hopscotch says:

    Spielberg on the Daily Show. One can only dream… (actually the guy is typically a lousy interview, but in Stewart’s hands it could be great)

  46. lindenen says:

    “The articles mentioned (Peyser and Wells namely) seem to be planting a seed in the minds of readers well before the film comes out.”
    Then I guess that every film reviewer out there is some sort of right-wing swiftboater.

  47. jeffmcm says:

    I don’t think every film reviewer out there is trying to dismantle the film before its release based on political issues.

  48. joefitz84 says:

    Maybe it’s just not as good as everyone assumed it would be. Spielberg isn’t infallible. Only the Pope is.

  49. Weinberg says:

    I saw the movie last night. Regarding the sex/memory scene, I simply cannot fathom that someone would choose to interpret that scene so wrongly. It’s a scene about one man’s struggle to heal himself.
    That Peyser piece is a freakin’ joke. Empty-headed rabble-rousing from a paper hoping to incite some anger and sell a few more papers.

  50. Sanchez says:

    Again that’s the danger for columnists and reporters writing movie reviews instead of professional movie critics. This is what you get.
    I don’t think these reviews will have much to do with the movie when all is said and done. I’d be much more concerned with not getting a Best Pic nom from the Globes than what some writers think.

  51. bipedalist says:

    This whole things stinks of a studio ploy. The fact is, Spielberg doesn’t need to come and be an activist – that’s not what he wants. He’s a good Jew. He may have wanted to open a dialogue but he sure as hell can’t say what needs to be said. The most telling aspect of Munich isn’t even in the film, it’s how Israelis have responded to it. They can’t forgive and forget the past therefore they can’t get on with the future. While I appreciate Spielberg trying to crack open the door for the Jews, he didn’t do it with enough balls for it to matter. AND…the last 45 mins of the film is rushed and unmoving. He could have done a better job if he had more months to tinker with it. For the right wingers to attack it is the best way to ensure its Academy votes, a la Million Dollar Baby. Remember how Clint never responded to the criticisms of that movie? Same thing for Munich, only it may not resonate emotionally enough for people to make it all the way.

  52. Angelus21 says:

    You can’t blame the bad press for Munich on a right wing attack because it’s just not true.
    Some people just don’t like Spielberg and are looking to take him down. Some need the movie to fail and are scared of it in the awards race. Some probably just really don’t like the movie. It’s not like all defenders of Israel got together and blasted the film for it’s message. I just want to see it for myself before I throw it under the bus and say it’s out of the Oscar race and Spielberg is a loony Hollywood Lib.

  53. YND says:

    I’ve seen the film. The issue has nothing to do with politics — the issue is the film. It just doesn’t work. I love much of Kushner’s past output and much of Spielberg’s past output… but MUNICH doesn’t work. It feels like it was rushed to completion. It also feels like the focus was on The Issues At Hand and not in creating a compelling story.
    Good case in point: almost all the characters are blanks. Michael Lonsdale and Mathieu Amalric are pretty much the only two who register. The others have very little substance — note how Poland’s Best Supp Actor Oscar predix were very MUNICH-heavy (Craig, Rush, Hinds, Kassovitz)… till he saw the film. They’ve since disappeared. There is very little that is dramatically compelling about the film. The post above that mentioned AMISTAD made a very appropriate analogy — unfortunately, that’s what it reminded me of.
    On the subject of the sex scene — it’s ridiculous to read it as political. Poland’s right on that one — and it is impressive that Spielberg even tried to reach for it. But, like the rest of the film, it doesn’t work at all in practice.
    I’m sorry to say it, but wait till it comes out and you’ll be shocked at how unworthy it was of all the speculation. I was really hoping to love this one.

  54. Arnzilla says:

    So does Peyser’s claim that the film puts the PLO’s actions in Munich and Israel’s retaliation “on even moral footing” have any truth?
    Also, does the film delve into Germany’s salt-rubbing complicity in the string of events when they freed the perps?
    “The most telling aspect of Munich isn’t even in the film, it’s how Israelis have responded to it. They can’t forgive and forget the past therefore they can’t get on with the future.”
    Forgive who?

  55. HIMcDunnit says:

    Mr. Poland,
    You made a critical misstatement, which highlights the problem conservatives will have with Munich’s relativistic philosophy. In describing the Israeli / Palestinian conflict, you suggest that both extreme solutions would be “Easier – but one group would be wiped out.”
    That’s simply not true.
    On the one hand, retaining Israel’s sovereignty would mean Palestinians could choose to live wherever they want to live. Israel’s policies are defensive.
    To achieve the extreme Palestinian goal, however, would literally result in genocide.Islamo-fascists will settle for nothing less than total extermination of the Jewish state.
    There is no practical or moral equivalency between those 2 positions.
    Spielberg wants to say, “There is no good guy, there is no bad guy – there’s just you and me and we just disagree”. That just does not wash post-9/11.

  56. mysteryperfecta says:

    Good post Nicol D (as always). The great irony is that the media high-profiled Mel’s movie so that they could undermine it. If they would have (could have) just ignored it, The Passion would have been a 40 million dollar surprise instead of a nearly 400 million surprise (domestic). The movie was all kinds of inaccessible.
    Neither have I seen anything that could constitute a Right Winger Assault. Can you point me to even a right-wing mid-major that’s on the march, David? Thanks.

  57. PetalumaFilms says:

    Islamo-fascists? Ladies and Gentlemen,..welcome to the SAVAGE NATION! The only hot button (har) word Savage likes more than “Islamo-Fascists” is “vermin.” Good times.
    I’m still looking forward to MUNICH, but YND’s response seems pretty spot-on and honest.

  58. bicycle bob says:

    u cant compare the passion and munich. the passion was done outside of the studio system with a guys own money. munich is the studio system. it has expectations. passion had zero.

  59. bicycle bob says:

    did someone here actually call jeff wells a right winger? wow

  60. Josh says:

    If Andrea Peyser is the only example of the “Right Wing Attacks” than it’s a terrible argument.
    You can disagree with her column but she makes some good points and they’re all about the movie. She didn’t care for it.
    The thing is a movie that divides people like this and doesn’t strike emotional chords cannot win the Oscar.

  61. Terence D says:

    Why would anyone want to hear Spielberg defend this movie and himself before it is even in theatres? He’s a filmmaker. He is going to want audiences to make up their own minds. Not be told how to think. There is no chance he’ll do that no matter what anyone thinks.

  62. Terence D says:

    And I don’t know why everyone is afraid to say but “Brokeback Mountain” is only being considered and pushed because it is a gay movie. That’s it. Now if the Academy wants to bow to pressure and reward homosexuals that is their business. But it is not the best film of the year. It has major flaws. It has whole sections where you look at your watch and wonder when it’s over.

  63. HIMcDunnit says:

    Re: Josh comment:
    To be fair, David Brooks also wrote an excellent column taking Speilberg to task for his reluctance to confront evil.
    Many of SS’s best films – IJ trilogy, Pvt. Ryan, Schindler’s List, Empire Of The Sun – address the evil of Naziism, directly or indirectly. It’s as though he feels that is the only “safe” boogeyman.
    The fact is, evil is alive and well today, as much as that offends politically correct sensibilities. And what happened to those Israeli athletes was evil.

  64. BluStealer says:

    You may wants to rethink your Best Picture chart. Because a Best Picture winner with not even a Globe nomination to its credit is as rare as they come. I can see “Munich” being nominated but winning? It doesn’t deserve to be Number 1 right now. It just doesn’t.

  65. James Leer says:

    Terence D, what theater did you see “Brokeback” in? Did you think the rest of the theater was faking their reaction because they want to “to bow to pressure and reward homosexuals” (and what a creaky sentence that is)? Fact is, a lot of people are pushing “Brokeback” because they liked it. You may not have, but to suggest that everyone else is faking it is absurd.

  66. richnancy says:

    At the core here is the question as to whether evil exists. So many (Brooks, etc. but I do not think Poland subscribes to this belief) assign an inordinate power to this thing called evil when really it is man made and can be man un-made. No matter how simple this might be ridiculed, this is true. There is no evil.
    One very simple definition of evil would BE violence. Violence creates pain and pain creates horror and death and death creates despair and loss of hope. One very simple definition of evil would be violence.
    Since violence has no quantitative measurement to give it credence ….. it is horrible when a mouth is smashed open and blood and teeth and tissue pore out ….. JUST like it is horrible when a heart is broke open and blood and tissue and veins break out. And feelings leave the soul and allow it to become cold. There is NOT a quantitative difference in these occurrences …. they are horrible no matter. They are acts of violence against a form of energy that nature has created.
    Let us assume there is no god just for the ability to argue about whether evil exists. At the very core of the universe is some form of life. Some form of energy. Some natural occurrence in the universe that has created energy. Lets simplistically give it the name of nature. Whether it be nature on mars or nature on earth or nature around mohammad or nature around christ. It is energy that is a life force. It is energy that is not created and not destroyed but constantly continuing in its cycle of birth and death. In whatever forms it takes, in all forms it takes.
    When destruction is imposed upon nature and not something that nature has enacted itself …. that is violence. Violence might be construed as a break in the continuum of birth and death that nature cycles thru in whatever forms it has taken in whatever universe.
    So it is a degree of force that is only measured from its last occurrence. It is only catalogued per its last enactment There is no quantitative measurement that is attained and is labeled “evil” because it got there first. There is no first or last in the evolvement of the universe. There is no quantitative date for the first act of violence and there is no quantitative side for the enactments of violence. There is no quantitative measurement that has such a heading as “evil”. There is no “evil” that man in this form of energy has not enacted of himself. It is not an energy outside of him that is imposed. And it is not an energy associated with any divine form.
    It is as Spielberg has assessed. It is a matter of who last hurt whom. By way of an energy life form named human. It is not a divine form outside of human and therefore all humans are capable of it. Whether the audience be those in a Greek theatre watching, or just a boy in his backyard. Whether it be an audience of TV viewers in a particular area, or just a ruler of a country …a president. There is no divine judge who can assess such a quantitative measurement and give it a name and apply it to a certain form of human energy. There is no evil. There is man harming man and his ability to assign blame or not. And what is blame. Blame is guilt. And what is guilt. Guilt is fear. And so all of this is just the fear of human beings being afraid of one another. It is human beings being afraid merely to love one another and nothing else. Deep down that is all they want to do. As is so evident in huge tragic disasters. Humans want to care and protect and love one another and when they do not, they become frightened and from that, came violence. Harm of human energy is enacted only out of fear. There is no evil.

  67. Terence D says:

    James Leer,
    If you see the movie you will realize it isn’t great and it isn’t the best of the year. See it for yourself before you blindly believe some awards groups. The only reason it is being talked up is because of the gay aspect. That’s it. You can believe what you want but everyone that has seen the movie knows it too.

  68. Bruce says:

    I’m going to go out on a limb and say the “bad press” attached to Munich is from rival movies who are trying to take out the favorite. Like that isn’t possible? Who’s interest is it in if Munich disappears?

  69. James Leer says:

    Terence, I have seen the movie twice, but thanks. I know enough not to argue with a dude who thinks in absolutes.

  70. lindenen says:

    “Lebanese Students at a Hizbullah TV Symposium: We Should Fight the Jews and Burn Them Like Hitler. Israel Should Be Wiped Off the Map”
    Yeah, who would be crazy enough to think there’s evil in the world?
    You can go to the front page if you want to view the clip.

  71. palmtree says:

    I’ve seen Brokeback Mountain and have been reading the response rather religiously. Yes, this film is being policized like mad. And yes, the film is a solid film that deserves to be seen with politics checked at the door. There are so many more issues at stake in this film than just the gayness. While many groups are using this film to justify certain agendas, I think this film will emerge as the “Hud” of our time. Unfortunately for Munich, I don’t think its politics will be left alone as it seems to be a meditation on a political question.

  72. PastePotPete says:

    I have to agree with Blustealer about the chart placing – is it YOUR top five favorites or is it based on how things stand objectively today in the Oscar race? Because no way is Munich still the front runner after this past week.
    Munich may be the better movie, it may not. It may ultimately win, it may not. But you’ve dropped movies on the chart after less bruising weeks than it has had. Especially considering the strides Brokeback has taken.
    It looks like you’re playing favorites, even if you’re not. A little analysis of why it is still in first other than your apparant belief that people will eventually agree with you about Brokeback Mountain would be appreciated.

  73. Terence D says:

    It’s not absolutes. It’s just facts. Brokeback Mountain has that extra juice from the gay angle. DP has basically said a smuch and how long can that angle hold water? Can that take it all the way to victory? Doubtful. I do think Ledger is the frontrunner for Best Actor. He was surprisingly very good. Going to be a tight race between him and Phoenix.

  74. LesterFreed says:

    I just need to see this damn Munich movie already. It’s Spielberg. We all know how he works and what he wants to say. Oscar or not he makes good films.
    My interest in seeing a gay cowboy movie?

  75. HIMcDunnit says:

    richnancy, you can talk all you want about nature as god and man is energy and guilt is fear, young Skywalker, and who harmed who last.
    Pointing at the sky and calling it orange doesn’t take one bit of the blue out of it.
    Your dissertation doesn’t hold up when pitted against the all-too-real world in which we live.
    To take your worldview to its logical conclusion is to throw our hands up in the face of all atrocities. If there is no evil and there is no good, what is the point of law, of morality? Civilization itself becomes an antiquated abstraction.
    If the greatest lie the devil ever pulled off was getting people to not believe in him, he just scored some bonus points…

  76. Hopscotch says:

    I’d say as of now its a 3 way race between Phillip Seymor Hoffman, Ledger and Phoenix. And I doubt that’ll change until the ceremony.
    I’d like to go on record that this is going to be one of the best Best Actor races in years. Behind those three are David Strathirn, Fiennes, Crowe, Howard (perhaps Bana, I haven’t seen the movie). Any year I’d see each of them is worthy of the prize. It’s sad how great this competition is and how totally lackluster the Best Actress race is. Just hand it to Witherspoon. Who the hell else will take it?

  77. LesterFreed says:

    The actress races?
    God awful. You’re pulling hairs searching for even five nominees.

  78. Hopscotch says:

    Watch Meryl Streep get nominate for Prime…just watch.

  79. Josh says:

    In other news, is it true that Kong is bombing?

  80. James Leer says:

    I think it’s a two-way race between Hoffman and Ledger for Actor. It’s not that Phoenix won’t be nominated, because he’s a lock — I just don’t think he has the buzz the other two have, and there’s the “been there, rewarded that” feel after Jamie Foxx with “Ray” last year.
    Plus, I think Phoenix is well-respected and people assume he will be nominated again, so they may not vote for him in droves this year. Hoffman has not been nominated or awarded before and people may want to rectify that, and Ledger has the Halle Berry factor of “we didn’t know you could do this and you may not ever be able to top this, so let’s award you now.”
    Of course, it helps that both those performances are so damn good.
    As far as Best Actress, I think it’ll probably go to Reese, but you can’t discount Felicity Huffman’s strides as of late. And a lot of people like her as a person, whereas Reese has a frosty reputation.

  81. Hopscotch says:

    Kong opened to $9 mill yesterday. Not “Bomb worthy”, but certainly not great. Fellowship opened to $16 mill I beleive.
    Everyone I know who’s seen the movie has raved about it. I mean loud as you can raved about it. I think the long term prospects of Kong are pretty solid, it’ll pick up steam this weekend for sure, it has no competition.

  82. Hopscotch says:

    And I totally hear you James Leer. I met Felicity Huffman once, and she was a class act all the way.

  83. Josh says:

    9 million seems like a bomb to me for a movie like this.
    Don’t discount Phoenix on Best Actor.

  84. palmtree says:

    Like Titanic, this film may have to prove itself through legs. Otherwise, I agree…BO not impressive. It’ll have a hard time hitting 100 M total on opening weekend.

  85. bicycle bob says:

    dont count those chickens before they hatch with the kong box office. its really early.

  86. Bruce says:

    King Kong. My Oscar pick needs to pick up the pace here. Come on, Kong!

  87. Terence D says:

    It is going to be tough for Huffman to beat out Witherspoon. But what a year for her. An Emmy win, huge hit tv show, and probably an Oscar nomination. Not too bad.

  88. Josh says:

    Frosty as Miss Reese is I just can’t see her losing right now. It has to be the one near lock of the major categories. Everything else you can legitimately say is wide open.

  89. Terence D says:

    Look at DP’s Top 11 for Best Actress. There is not another choice there to beat out Witherspoon.
    He has Theron at 4. For a terrible film. And she should be required to take herself out of the running because of “Aeon Flux”.
    He even has Paltrow at 9 for “Proof”. A movie no one saw and those who did didn’t like.
    That is how weak this years field is. The dark horse may be Q’orianka Kilcher from “The New World”. If that movie is any good. Who knows?

  90. David Poland says:

    I feel like I have explained. If it were my personal preferences, The Constant Gardener would probably be on top.
    I believe Brokeback has great heat now. The actual damage to Munich is still pretty light. It screens for the Academy this Sunday. And maybe next Thursday it will drop. But right now, it is still the only viable title that has the big Academy stuff going for it… it is the only film that has real current political meaning. It may fail. I’ve indicated that. but this week, I still think it has the best shot. And if it falls, I still think Brokeback has problems with Academy members (not young, not hip) that could or could not keep it from winning. Remember, besides the gay issue, it is also an Ang Lee movie, and none of his dry work has gotten Academy love… only kung-fu and lush Olde England.
    Essentially, right now, if Munich is in, I think it wins. If it falls, it falls all the way and the whole thing is really in turmoil, with Brokeback the tentative leader, but not an undisputable one.
    And yes, winning Oscar without a Globes nod is unusual, but only because the Globes have always worked to shadow Oscar. Want to play stats? No Venice Film Festival winner has ever won the Oscar… and the last one to even be nominated? Atlantic City, 24 years ago.
    Stats are for suckers.

  91. James Leer says:

    Poland dissing stats is like Pam Anderson dissing big boobs. Is this Opposite Day?

  92. jeffmcm says:

    I still can’t get over DP’s untrammeled adoration of Meirelles. Calling him ‘the genius in the room’.
    I agree with Terence and others, no matter how ‘frosty’ Witherspoon may be in person, her public persona is sunny and charming, which is really all that matters in the Oscar race. Unless her fired housekeepers start showing up to trash her in public.

  93. Sanchez says:

    Witherspoon was phenomenal in “Walk the Line”.

  94. frankbooth says:

    Good thing Walk the Line wasn’t in black
    and white, or you wouldn’t have seen it, Sanchez.
    Sorry, I’m still getting over that one.

  95. Sanchez says:

    You really need to get a life and get over it. Worry about your own elitist tastes pal.

  96. James Leer says:

    Yeah, man. Anyone who watches a movie in black and white is probably a liberal SNOB!

  97. Sanchez says:

    Its funny how you two, actually you’re probably the same guy because who really cares, are obsessed that I dislike black and white films. Get a life, you snob.
    When they technicolored movies from the 30’s did you threaten to slash those wrists?????

  98. jeffmcm says:


  99. Angelus21 says:

    Some guys here are really into other people or they just like starting up with them. Who gives a rats ass whether someone likes black/white films? To each his own. I’m sure there’s something in FrankBooths filmography favorites that Sanchez would disagree with or hate too. Honestly.

  100. PandaBear says:

    He belongs in Hell for not liking black and white. Hell, I say.

  101. jeffmcm says:

    Sanchez can like or dislike any movies he wants. Those are his tastes. It also means that those tastes may not be particularly expansive, and discussions should proceed on that basis.

  102. Angelus21 says:

    Be the elitist snob you are Jeffrey. Why lie about it?

  103. jeffmcm says:

    I’m sorry, I can’t hear you over the opera playing in my swanky apartment.

  104. joefitz84 says:

    Why respond to him? He gets off on trying to get a rise out of people. Leave him in the gutter where he belongs.

  105. jeffmcm says:

    Joe, anytime you actually want to discuss anything…I’m here for you. Until then, hurl your feces as you will.

  106. joefitz84 says:

    When have you ever posted anything worth reading? It’s all little potshots at people. That’s all you got. Do you even like movies and the industry? You post on every thread and it’s all little snipes at people trying to rouse them up. That’s your trip.

  107. jeffmcm says:

    Joe, that’s just what you think because that is all our interaction has ever consisted of. I have had perfectly good exchanges with 95% of this blog. Just not you or your five cronies.

  108. joefitz84 says:

    Yawn. Yawn again. You’re not going to draw me into your little games jeffreymcm. You know what you are and everyone else does too.

  109. jeffmcm says:

    That’s an interesting insinuation, but I have no idea what you mean. Let me know if you want my email address and I will give it to you so we don’t have to clutter the blog.

  110. Rufus Masters says:

    If this is your idea of a good exchange, I’d love to know what a bad one is for you?
    Munich right now is exactly where it wants to be. A ton of publicity. Some good. Some bad. But it has some heat and it has a great director and it is lurking. Waiting to pounce. You don’t want to be the leader right now unless you’re a great film. And “BBM” isn’t a great film.

  111. joefitz84 says:

    Why would I want to waste my time emailing you? I can’t stand posting to you or even reading your snide remarks as it is. I know you’re desperate for friends but this is not how you go about it.
    You need to pay people.

  112. jeffmcm says:

    Joe, I would like to call a truce with you. I think you’re a scumbag and you don’t care for me either. I would like to address these differences offsite, but so be. Let’s agree to ignore each other, no matter what spectacularly ignorant things the other one might say. Deal?

  113. joefitz84 says:

    Yawn. More. What differences? That I don’t like you and I think you’re a trouble maker who likes to cause problems? What’s to hash out? Start checking your obnoxious attitude at the door and talk movies. Just movies. That’s how you can “squash it”. Thanks for the talk.

  114. jeffmcm says:

    Okay. Seen anything good lately? I really am looking forward to Munich because I love Spielberg. Douchebag.

  115. jeffmcm says:

    Whoops! How did that get in there. I’m sorry Joe. I’m going to unilaterally attempt my ignoring-you-and-the-five-other-idiots position from now on. See you.

  116. PandaBear says:

    It’s jeffs way of flirting. You should be honored joefitz.

  117. jeffmcm says:

    When in doubt, go for the fag joke. Good one, Panda.

  118. James Leer says:

    You guys could at least attempt to sound like different people and post at different times.

  119. KamikazeCamelV2.0 says:

    (getting back to the Oscars) I find it odd whenever someone (and there’s been a couple) who comes hear and discusses the Oscars can say they have no interest in seeing Brokeback Mountain, purely because it’s about two men. It would seem that to have any input of worth in the convo you should at least show SOME interest.
    Regarding Best Actor – Pheonix could win out of virtue of Hoffman and Ledger splitting the arty critics choice spot. If Ledger wins best actor it will surely be considered one of the greatest career revivals since Cher. Wouldn’t it be swell to see both Ledger and Michelle Williams up there with Oscars? Perfect end to the best year of their lives (im guessing both career and personal wise).
    And for Best Actress, it’s disappointing that the spin is that the women have nothing on offer this year – it’s just that there aren’t enough great performances. Reese, Judi and Joan (and Joan is sadly stalling) seem to be the only ones getting people excited. Huffman is getting buzz by virtue of the role and herself. and so on… its sad that by the start of December the race seemed pretty well locked up for at least 3 ladies and the next two spots seem pretty easily to go to two of three women.

  120. Rufus Masters says:

    jeffmcm and joefitz84. The same dude.

  121. Angelus21 says:

    The best actor slot is the best category right now. A real tight race with three great performances going for it. Could go any way. Hoffman, Phoenix, Ledger. Going to be a great category.

  122. joefitz84 says:

    Getting compared to Jeff? There might not be anything worse. It’s like someone saying you look like The Elephant Man or Jaws from the Bond movies.

  123. jeffmcm says:

    Here’s something really awful: According to MCN’s front page, Ebert is naming Crash the very best movie of 2005. Noooooo!

  124. Joe Leydon says:

    Jeff: My condolences. I know you were pulling for “Revenge of the Sith”

  125. jeffmcm says:

    Actually I was hoping he would retroactively name Cronenberg’s Crash best of the year, but what can you do.

  126. Joe Leydon says:

    Actually, I’m thinking that “Unleashed” may have been my favorite movie of 2005. Maybe not the best, but the most enjoyable.

  127. PandaBear says:

    Cronenberg’s Crash?
    Haggis Crash?

  128. Stella's Boy says:

    I saw Munich this afternoon. Loved it. Some scenes gave me the chills, which hasn’t happened in quite some time. The cast is superb, the writing strong and Spielberg is at his best. The violence is incredibly brutal and shocking. I jumped a few times. I’m sure the insults are on their way, but I found it to be an extremely powerful, complex and moving look at vengeance and patriotism. I hope to see it again after it opens.

The Hot Blog

Quote Unquotesee all »

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