Old MCN Blogs
David Poland

By David Poland poland@moviecitynews.com

'United 93' Bows, Tribeca Finally Open For Business

While I really do look forward to checking out the overwhelmingly well-reviewed United 93, I was, for whatever reason, turned away from covering its premiere Tuesday evening and even from viewing the film at its Loews Lincoln Square overflow theaters. “You can wait if you want,” a festival flack said, nodding toward the door. “We’re totally full.” Two sources who did manage entry corroborated at least a near-capacity crowd in e-mails to Reeler HQ last night; for the three of you concerning yourselves with the outcome of yesterday’s Lloyd Grove vs. Tribeca Film Festival pissing contest, here is hoping that provides some closure.
Among those who covered the premiere at the Ziegfeld Theater, the Hollywood Reporter’s Gregg Goldstein receives The Reeler’s red-carpet blue ribbon for the quick turnaround and general thoroughness of his dispatch:

(E)ven amidst the smiles and pleasantries in the lobby, mixed emotions were very close to the surface when audience members were asked about the film they were about to see. …

Tribeca co-founder Robert De Niro began the evening’s series of introductions by acknowledging the audience’s difficulty with the subject matter, something Universal is facing as it prepares for the movie’s release Friday. “Given our festival’s founding after September 11, for many of us, the story is difficult,” he said. “We applaud the participation of the family members — your participation means a lot.”

De Niro’s characteristically brief remarks were followed by Rosenthal’s appearance. “The film exemplifies the highest form of the human spirit,” she said. “It leaves us with a new memory that is uplifting.” …

But perhaps actor Gabriel Byrne best summed up feelings about the film: “I can understand why some people don’t want to see the film, and I can see why there’s a compulsion to confront it, because in many ways we still haven’t confronted it.”

Goldstein also features cameos by MPAA boss Dan Glickman, former U.S. Senator (and 9/11 Commission head) Bob Kerrey and some guy named Greengrass. The festival starts in earnest today, which means I must beg your pardon while I put my running shoes on and wolf down another dose of speed. No days down, eleven to go.

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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