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David Poland

By David Poland

The Munich Attacks

It’s one of those weird Old Media/New Media things that I now keep reading about Munich‘s critical “comeback” as some sort of response to “Internet attacks.”
That is, to put it delicately, bullshit.
The core of the negative hum was Todd McCarthy in good old Variety, David Brooks in the good old New York Times, and one-sided opinion-pulsing by the good old wire services, which couldn’t wait to get a full picture of the Israeli reaction before doing exacty what they did earlier in the year – when they gave endless media attention to the crackpots who felt they needed to be consulted before Spielberg could make his movie – which is to jump the gun.
And of course, the excuse for the attacks? Old Media Time Magazine got an exclusive, did (in my opinion) a piss-poor job with the free pass they were given, and so muscular media types, forced into feeling like “outsiders,” lied to by Universal about Spileberg access, decided to take the other side and to attack the film.
Of course, Nikki Finke, who started this insanity with her feverish report on the non-news of a Munich non-junket, fiercely considers herself Old Media and her sense of righteousness on the story came from Old Media friends who patted her hard on the back for her non-scoop scoop and then ran their (LAT/NYT) own feverish versions of the non-story.
It is cheap and intellectually lazy to blame the web for this unneccesary fever. Ironically, one of the key defense claims by OM against the web – that everything starts with old media and that the web simply reflects their work – has been flipped on its head here… a coincident convenience in a case where it is looking like the worm is turning.
And with due respect to Anne Thompson, the notion that power reviews have now started pouring in for Munich are a reflection of “the intenet attacks” and are not as sincere as those critics would normally be assumed to be is kind of stunningly insulting to everyone involved – even though I don’t think it was a notion so intended. I don’t know Stephen Hunter, but I do know Dargis, Ebert, and Mathews and I wouldn’t want my head in between their fingers and their keyboards when they want to write something. And she didn’t even include Slate/NY Mag’s David Edelstein, who called Munich the best of the year, even though his breathren in New York would have argued the point hard against him during their post-screening beer.
Anyway… this seems to me to be another variation on the theme of internal combustion in the media these days. Take a few strong voices, obsess on them for a week, then find excuses for why things change a week later. There are no excuses needed, since things didn’t change… they just evolve normally. It is the downside of Slow Media trying to speed up. When everyone is hyper-fast in “reporting,” then everything is an alleged reaction to everything else. And most people are not as OCD as those of us covering this beat are. Not should they be.
Slow down.

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4 Responses to “The Munich Attacks”

  1. Jimmy the Gent says:

    NY-based movie critic Owen Geiberman of EW also picked Munich as the best movie of the year. So did NY Press’ Armond White. Edelstein was not alone.
    I thought you should know.

  2. Angelus21 says:

    The Spielberg and Munich Teams are playing the press and the spin great. All the talk and the columns and the reviews are helping the movie.

  3. jeffmcm says:

    ARMOND loved Munich?!
    This could have been predicted the day that its release date was set.

  4. jeffmcm says:

    On that note, look for Brian DePalma’s The Black Dahlia to appear at or near the top of Armond’s 2006 Top Ten.

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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