MCN Blogs
David Poland

By David Poland

Trying To Get The Point Of The LAT Munich Story

With due respect to Rachel Abramowitz, who muscularly reported the Munich piece, it’s like the biggest piece of chocolate cake you’ve ever seen without nearly enough frosting or milk to keep you from choking on it all.
What do people want to read about Munich right now? They want to read Spielberg (not Tony Kusher and surely not Kathleen Kennedy) addressing the questions, however parsed, “Is this good for Israel? Is this good for the Jews?”
I believe Spielberg’s answers are “yes” and “yes.” And there is no doubt, there are other Jews (and non-Jews) who will disagree. These conversations are complex and divisive by their nature.
For the sake of that conversation, I have pulled some of what Spielberg had to say out of the near-4000 word piece.
“I couldn’t live with myself being silent for the sake of maintaining my popularity. And I’m at an age right now where if I don’t take risks, I lose respect for myself. And this was an important risk for me to take.”
“I worked very hard so this film was not in any way, shape or form going to be an attack on Israel.”
“[The film’s] a discussion

Be Sociable, Share!

24 Responses to “Trying To Get The Point Of The LAT Munich Story”

  1. bicycle bob says:

    its just a movie and its just getting way too serious and downbeat.

  2. jeffmcm says:

    The obvious answer to that from Spielberg would be, it’s not just a movie. In fact, I think that he would be miffed that anyone would insist on seeing him as just a provider of popcorn entertainment anymore.

  3. Sanchez says:

    Let’s be real here. When you heard he was doing a film on the events at Munich who in their right mind thought he’d show the Israeli’s going about their business with even the slightest joy or excitement?
    If you didn’t think he’d show them having crisis’ of consciences and show the characters being torn about what they’re doing you don’t know Spielberg and you don’t know Hollywood.

  4. Josh says:

    I’ll see the movie before I comment anymore on it. Not long now. I don’t even want to hear Spielbergs comments on it. I don’t want to read columns on it either. My view is clouded already. I need it clear and to have an open mind.

  5. EDouglas says:

    I’m Jewish…and it’s just a movie. Making more out of it is just like Christians making such a big deal about Narnia last week. Can’t people just enjoy movies as entertainment anymore?
    But I guess it’s good for Universal that controversy is being stirred up, guaranteeing that it will do huge business over Christmas despite opening in only 500-600 theatres. Too bad they didn’t find some controversy to stir up over King Kong 🙂

  6. Mark Ziegler says:

    They must love all this free publicity. It’s all in the game.

  7. PandaBear says:

    I think all this publicity is going to cost it Oscar votes in the long run. Or maybe it will help. I have no idea this year. It’s like a free for all.

  8. jeffmcm says:

    I just hope we can still use the “it’s just a movie” argument if people see it and decide they hate it.

  9. Josh says:

    Come on, Jeffmcm. I know you’re looking for an argument. No one here give you anything yet??? A talented provocatuer like you can certainly take something out of nothing.

  10. Angelus21 says:

    I have a feeling we’re all going to be seeing stories like this til the nominations come out.

  11. jeffmcm says:

    Hey Josh, I think it’s odd of you to characterize arguments as bad things. I don’t come here to listen to an echo chamber of agreement, I come to discuss and learn new things. There are about five people here whose communications typically turn into arguments, but that’s a pretty good batting average. I would love to have a civil discussion with you on any subject, if you are up to it.

  12. Nicol D says:

    E Douglas,
    “Can’t people just enjoy movies as entertainment anymore?”
    No. After 100 years of cinema we can no longer be naive. Films are the language of discourse for our culture. More than books. More than papers. They affect what we think, our views, our opinions whether we are aware of it or not.
    Many young people take films about history (JFK, Kingdom of Heaven, The Motorcycle Diaries etc.) as reliable texts. They are not just mere entertainment.
    If you do not believe me, read Harry Knowles’ site. These young people believe if it is on film it must be true. Sad…but that is our current culture.
    For better or worse, we must discuss them. Munich, for better or worse, is not just entertainment. I think Steven Spielberg would agree with me on that.

  13. LesterFreed says:

    If you look at films like JFK as reliable texts than someone out there is doing a terrible job. Parents. Schools. Something. Because that is just downright absurd. After seeing Syriana they’ll probably think the evil oil companies control the world and run the middle east and have Arab princes killed. No accounting for stupidity.

  14. Bruce says:

    There are many clueless people out there who think that film is sacred text and all true. They’re called “nutso’s”.
    But you’re right. Education is failing many of these young people. Or they’re getting the wrong kind of education.

  15. jeffmcm says:

    Ebert always says that he looks at movies not to get the facts, but to get the emotion. If you want to get a relatively ‘objective’ look at this situation, people should rent One Day in September. Or read a book.
    BTW, I didn’t care that much for Syriana either…too simplistic. The truth is much worse.

  16. Bruce says:

    The problem, Jeff, is some people clearly get their facts from movies.

  17. jeffmcm says:

    Yes, those people are idiots. A lot of them get their facts from TV too.

  18. joefitz84 says:

    Spielberg wants Munich to be taken seriously. He wants to be taken seriously as a director and as a person. It’s his driving ego. Might be why he is as good as he is and why he works as much as he does. Which as movie fans we have to respect.

  19. PandaBear says:

    How does someone watch a movie like “The Motorcycle Diaries” and think that is true? If you’re so fascinated by Che, why not find a few books on him and find out what and who he really was?
    We got some lazy people out there.

  20. jeffmcm says:

    I didn’t think Motorcycle Diaries was much of a movie, but I also didn’t see anything in it that seemed excessively false, to answer your first question there, Panda. Do you have any quick reasons for why you thought it was so obviously unbelieveable, or do I need to get reading?

  21. KamikazeCamelV2.0 says:

    I think it’s beyond anyone’s control to expect that movies about real life events/people will be at least partially factful. But it’s true that if you’re really interested in a topic then you should investigate more.
    However, movies are what they are. And it’s just a fact of life that people see a movie and assume what occured is the facts of it. Sure, they might be naive, but that’s just the way it is.
    One Day In September though is one of the most fascinating documentaries I’ve ever seen (granted, my doco viewing history is spotty). Munich doesn’t sound too interesting to me, but I’ll see it primarily because it’s a film that has people talking. I agree on Motorcycle Diaries though. I didn’t like it all too much, but when watching it I wasn’t thinking “this is completely unbelievable”
    I won’t be seeing it for the thoughtful way that Spielberg will portray certain people or whatever. I’ll view it as a movie, not as a historical document.
    And all this “free press” could turn against them. Are people going to want to see a movie that is generally viewed as a depressing?

  22. jeffmcm says:

    Schindler’s List did okay for itself, even though it was fairly depressing…but it did end on an up note. That’ll be the big question, is if Spielberg has wrapped his morality play in enough of an entertaining wrapper, that’ll determine its box office and awards fate.

  23. KamikazeCamelV2.0 says:

    Schindler’s List was about WWII – an event that means more to many more people than the events of Munich do. It’s not an event that is on the cultural psyche as much.
    I mean, if it’s a good movie people will see it. But I actually think this movie has it’s work cut out for it.

  24. Terence D says:

    Schindlers List was a great film with some great performances. Munich has a lot to live up to to get to that level.

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