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David Poland

By David Poland

Mea Culpa-ing Now

Well, I should start eating crow now.
The Da Vinci Code is still an awful movie, but it will get well past half way to my 20 Weeks of Summer estimate this weekend alone.
It will be another week or two before we see what kind of legs this one has, but expect a barrage of “critics are out of touch” stories before the ink on Sunday’s papers dries.

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71 Responses to “Mea Culpa-ing Now”

  1. Jimmy the Gent says:

    Critics can’t argue when a bad movie becomes a hit. All they can do is try to give perspective on why said movie connected with the public. Then agian, the numbers this weekend simply tell us that people saw it this weekend. It’ll be interesting to see if the movie has legs. If it does, then we’ll have something to talk about

  2. Jeffrey Boam's Doctor says:

    Is there something between you and Crow we don’t know about Dave. Rimshot!
    And Dave getting this one as wrong you did (and you got it way wrong) befits more than a simple throwaway line.. you tried to play the lone critic game, so you could bask in the bomb when it happened – but as anyone with one iota of industry awareness would have told you this thing was going to kaching on opening weekend. You ignored common sense to have a chance of a mass ‘i told ya so’… well dave ‘ WE TOLD YOU SO.

  3. jeffmcm says:

    How does DP already know, 12:27pm, what Friday’s numbers are going to be?
    Regardless of quality, the movie will be a huge hit, because while it is indeed bad, it also feels better than it really is (like most other recent Ron Howard movies). It reeks of pseudo-quality. Plus, its fantasy notions of female religious empowerment seem to be primarily appealing to young women (in my screening tonight they were especially happy about it afterwards), and when they go for a movie, it makes tons of cash.

  4. jeffmcm says:

    I meant am, not pm.

  5. EDouglas says:

    I don’t think we can assume critics are out of touch until we see Da VInci’s total weekend compared to Friday and its second weekend (Memorial Day drop). It will have to drop less than 35% over the four-day weekend against X-Men to be thought of having good WOM. jeffmcm, there are a lot of reports on the ‘net about sellouts and sites that extrapolate opening day based on these reports and other sources. I think $30 mil. opening day for Da Vinci will be on the low end.
    BTW, the movie/book is a work of fiction and all of that stuff about female religious empowerment was just included so that Dan Brown could get lots of sex while on book tours.

  6. Blackcloud says:

    Supposedly a studio knows pretty much after the first couple of showings how a movie is going to do. The info comes in continuously throughout the day. I’m sure Dave is saying this because he’s hearing it from people who would know, or is seeing the same info they get. Nonetheless, we should wait for the whole weekend before we make grand pronouncements. I’m reminded of “Azkaban,” whose Friday indicated it would smash the three-day record, but then did not.

  7. David Poland says:

    “The lone critic game,” JBD?
    You been in a cave?

  8. Arrow77 says:

    You all put way too much importance into the quality of the film. It’s an adaptation of a bestseller that wasn’t that good to begin with. I don’t see why people who weren’t bothered by the lack of quality of the book would be bothered by the lack of quality of the film. Ron Howard only needed to do what Chris Columbus did for the first Harry Potter: make a competent visualization of the book.
    It won’t make nearly as much money but expect to see the same kind of phenomenon we saw with Passion of the Christ: people who don’t see movies normally going see this one.

  9. David Poland says:

    Two notes… I haven’t said it will break any record… and two, this opening is grand, no matter whether its Sunday holds or not…
    “Out of touch” does not neccessarily mean “wrong.”

  10. Geoff says:

    This just in, from ShowbizData. DaVinci made $30 mill and change and Over the Hedge did about $11 million. Good starts for both. Look for DaVinci to drop a bit on Saturday and top out in the high ’70’s, while Hedge will get a nice Saturday bump and end up near $40 mill.
    Part of the fun of easing into my Saturday’s is checking up on the weekend box office, while my daughter takes her nap:)

  11. Geoff says:

    One more comment. Looks like some of the studio’s learned their lessons from too many Wednesday openings, last year. Films like Batman and King Kong got weaker Morning headlines, because some of their grosses were sucked out during the week.
    Sony was probably tempted to try this with DaVinci, with its adult appeal and expected good word of mouth, but smartly resisted and will have a beefier weekend number as a result.

  12. MattM says:

    For a 30M Friday opener to only end up at 70, it’d have to show a roughly 20% drop Fri-Sat to 24, and then a 33% drop Sat-Sun. If the exit polls are any indication, it’s not going to get much of a Fri-Sat drop, if any. You’re looking at 80M opener. And Hedge was pretty awful, aside from the Ben Folds songs.

  13. Geoff says:

    I think the word of mouth will be solid, but this feels like the kind of opening a Harry Potter movie would have – same trajectory. That would mean about 40% of the grosses on Friday, which would end up at $73 million.
    I don’t see how Sony could be unhappy with that.

  14. palmtree says:

    Amy Pascal just breathed a huge sigh of relief.

  15. EDouglas says:

    I think Da Vinci will end up closer to $85 and Over the Hedge in the $40 million range… If this is the case, this may be the first time where two new movies made over $120 combined in a non-holiday weekend. Next weekend should be huge, too.

  16. anghus says:

    i cant imagine sony will be unhappy with this at all. the worldwide numbers are solid, in some places phenomenal, and not to further urinate on the corpse of the critical mass, which seems about as important these days as carbon paper, the cinemascore audience polling has the movie coming in at a solid B. The film critics, with all thier vitrol and rage are just contributing to their own demise. You can only listen to someone yelling from a megaphone “THE SKY IS FALLING” so long before you just tune them out.

  17. the keoki says:

    Showbizdata has DaVinci’s Friday at 30 mil. That’s pretty damn good! Seems like 90+ is more likely.

  18. waterbucket says:

    School is finally over!!!!!!!!!!!
    This summer is going to be soooooooooo awesome!!!!!!
    And I get to see the Da Vinci Code soon!!!!!!!!!
    I love this world. And I love you, K.D.!!!!!!!!!!
    PS. I also love exclamation points.

  19. Nicol D says:

    I never believed anything other than the fact that ‘Tom Hanks vs. The Catholics’ would bring in at least 200+ total.
    But, with it being laughed off the screen in Cannes, at least it will be seen as an Armageddon type blockbuster. Stupid, vulgar and an insult to one’s intelligence.
    “BTW, the movie/book is a work of fiction and all of that stuff about female religious empowerment was just included so that Dan Brown could get lots of sex while on book tours.”
    I have two female friends, one a PHD-surprise surprise- that adhere to the pagan earth goddess divine feminine lifestyle. Yes…they are very loose.

  20. Crow T Robot says:

    Yep, the best favorite headline for my money:

  21. Wrecktum says:

    Poland’s Da Vinci prediction never made that much sense, but it’s no different thank Entertainment Weekly putting Pirates 2 in sixth place in their Summer Preview. Sometimes people’s instincts are off.

  22. Blackcloud says:

    Bart: Mom! Lisa made me do it, she put a witch’s spell on me!
    Lisa: It’s called “wicca” and its empowering.
    Bart: Mom! Lisa’s into a Hollywood fad!
    Lisa: That’s Kabbalah, jerk!
    If they’d managed to work in Scientology, they’d have killed three birds with one stone.

  23. Adam says:

    Armageddon’s the perfect analogy, there are just certain movies that appeal to the public that critics will despise. But the money will still roll in.
    Armageddon cream of the crop is 18%, Da Vinci Code is 09%, how many big budget, big star vehicles have made 200 million or more in the last 8-9 years but had a RT cream of the crop score as low as those two? or even lower than 25%?
    People don’t care if it’s stupid, they still like the exchange, “did you ever hear of Evil Knievel?” “No, I never saw Star Wars.” Likewise I don’t think people care if Da Vinci Code is every bit as nonsensical as Armageddon, they’ll still see it and probably many will like it perhaps for many of the reasons the critics dislike it.

  24. Crow T Robot says:

    “If they’d managed to work in Scientology, they’d have killed three birds with one stone.”
    So long as Yeardley Smith is on the call sheet, you can bet they won’t, blackie.

  25. Blackcloud says:

    Yep, Crow. I heard that recently she vetoed a line that poked fun at the Church of Hubbard.

  26. anghus says:

    some perspective. i was just reading some Back to the Future trivia online as i watched the movie, and ir an across this factoid:
    “This movie (Back to the Future) managed to pull Hollywood out of a slump that lasted 17 weeks, making it one of the longest in film history. Nevertheless, total revenues for 1985 were 7% less than in 1984.”
    So, apparently, this kind of number crunching speculation has been going on for years, buth with the advent of the internet, there’s a lot more focus/discussion/speculation on it.

  27. Joe Leydon says:

    If the Internet had existed when “Back to the Future” opened, you can rest assured that advance buzz would not have been good, since Robert Zemeckis had shut down filming after five weeks to replace the leading man (Michael J. Fox for Eric Stoltz), then had to work overtime to meet the deadline when Universal (evidently feeling the pain of the “slump”) decided to release the film two weeks earlier than originally planned. I wonder what the David Poland and Jeff Wells types would have made of that!

  28. jeffmcm says:

    Nicol D: “I have two female friends, one a PHD-surprise surprise- that adhere to the pagan earth goddess divine feminine lifestyle. Yes…they are very loose.”
    This quote is (a) one of the more amusingly nasty things I’ve read on the blog lately. I’m glad I’m not one of Nicol’s ‘friends’ – and (b) a good example of the misogynist thinking that Brown’s book is faux-rebelling against, hence its huge appeal to women.

  29. jeffmcm says:

    Anghus: “The film critics, with all thier vitrol and rage are just contributing to their own demise. You can only listen to someone yelling from a megaphone “THE SKY IS FALLING” so long before you just tune them out.”
    Have you seen the movie, man? It gives the audience what it wants, but it’s still pretty cruddy (but it is better than Armageddon).

  30. Nicol D says:

    Actually its ‘patriarchal, misogynist, racist, homophobic thinking’ if I recall how the mantra goes.
    The sisterhood would be very disappointed in you.

  31. Blackcloud says:

    I’m sure as Mrs. Brown was doing the research for DVC, she was thinking, “What can we put in that will get Dan lots of sex on his book tour?”

  32. jeffmcm says:

    Nicol, your sarcastic denial doesn’t change the fact that what you said was a nasty, hateful thing, and about two of your friends, even. Do they know how much you dislike their ‘loose’ lifestyle? Have you urged them to stop being such vile temptresses and harlots? Got a chador all picked out for them when they come to their senses?

  33. Blackcloud says:

    I didn’t know a woman had to “adhere to the pagan earth goddess divine feminine lifestyle” in order to be “very loose.” I also didn’t know that they were identical. I’m sure a lot of the coeds at my university would be very surprised to learn they are pagan Earth goddess worshippers.

  34. Joe Leydon says:

    I love the fact that, at this point in the 21st Century, women can still be labeled as “loose.” Why not go for the other cliches — slutty, or nymphomaniacal — as well?
    And while we’re at it: Can someone please tell me what’s the male equivalent of these terms? Like, if we use Nicol’s standards, a woman who has several lovers, or casual sex partners, would be “loose.” But if I were to have several sex partners — yeah, I know, only in my dreams! — that would make me… what? (Lucky?)

  35. Blackcloud says:

    A himbo? A man whore?

  36. anghus says:

    Jeff, here’s the reality of the situation.
    Critics, and by nature, most of the people who peruse these sites online to discuss box office trends are in the marked minority. Critics used to be educated film historians who gave an educated view on the films that were released. Now critics range from the educated film historian types (i.e. the boring ones) or loudmouthed jackasses who pretty much write from their unchecked ID (i.e. internet critics). Either way, the critic represents a very, very small portion of the type of people who actually go to the movies.
    Da Vinci code might be cruddy. I won’t see it til Monday, but i know a lot of ‘cruddy’ movies that make money. Hell, look at the entire catalog of Adam Sandler films. When’s the last time a critic liked one of them? And still, he consistently takes in 100 million or more on almost every domestic release. There are a lot more examples, and i could go probably go on a real long rant here, but i wont. The point is, people’s tastes are so diverse, and most critics fall into a very predictable mold. There’s a reason why the years most popular films are rarely the ones winning awards. Critics hail movies like Sideways (a movie i love), but most people i know who saw it thought it was really boring.
    The relevancy of the critic has been questioned, and if you ask me, after this weekend, answered. They no longer factor into the equation of whether a film performs or not. All the smack talking in the world didn’t hurt The Davinci Code one bit. The tracking numbers before the critics panned it remained intact. If ever you needed proof that critics can’t make or break a film, this is it.
    You know how i know if a movie is going to do well: If my future Mother in Law plans to see it. She’s a 54 year old housewife who watches tv and has never been on the internet in her entire life. So far, her track record is nearly flawless. Last week she said “oh, i want to see that Tom Hanks film about DaVinci.”
    I think after all the sound and fury, most people who go to the movies make their decisions based on a) trailer and b) commercials. I’d love to see a study done on this, because i think every journalist spends so much time tracking new trends vs. old trends, and trying to figure out the ‘new media’, they forget the basics. The game hasn’t changed party peoples, no matter how many articles written saying otherwise.

  37. jeffmcm says:


  38. Nicol D says:

    “Nicol, your sarcastic denial doesn’t change the fact that what you said was a nasty, hateful thing, and about two of your friends, even.”
    How do you know this for certain?
    In order to know this definitively…you would have to know both me and my friends and the context of our relationship and their practices and my complete views on them.
    You do not.
    So how can you be sure that you are correct about my friends and I am not? You may be right. You may be wrong.
    Logically, you do not have enough information to make that assertion.
    “Like, if we use Nicol’s standards, a woman who has several lovers, or casual sex partners, would be “loose.” But if I were to have several sex partners — yeah, I know, only in my dreams! — that would make me… what? (Lucky?)”
    You do not know what my standards are. I did not divulge that information. I only used one word in the context of a joke…’loose’.
    I never said if I applied the same standards to male or female.
    “Why not go for the other cliches — slutty, or nymphomaniacal — as well? ”
    So then any form of sex done in any context is a good thing in any instance?
    Finally…remember friends…it was just a joke…and if the DaVinci Code can’t hurt people; how can a joke told by one person on a blog on the internet?

  39. Jeffrey Boam's Doctor says:

    Me no live cave. Dave I simply meant in regards to your boxoffice prediction and not towards the critical drubbing its been getting. Apples and oranges. You were on Mars with 130 – we called you on it. And you said with authority, so ol Davey could be the lone critic who wisely saw a financial bomb in the making. We all knew it wasn’t going to be ‘art’ coming from Akiva the Hun.

  40. anghus says:

    i wanted to pose a question to the collective masses of prognosticators.
    Anyone else think Superman Returns will pull in roughly the same numbers as Batman Begins (350-400 million worldwide)?
    If it does end up there, doesn’t the finger of blame point solely at the marketing team who would have two straight underperforming film icons who raked in far more money decades ago?
    maybe it isn’t the films that have gotten worse? maybe its the marketing?

  41. Joe Leydon says:

    “So then any form of sex done in any context is a good thing in any instance?”
    Between consenting adults? Sure. The only exception I can think of: If one partner isn’t totally honest with the other about his/her STD status. Otherwise, let the good times roll. Hmmmm. Guess that DOES make me a Man-Ho.

  42. Jeffrey Boam's Doctor says:

    SUPERMAN is going to be rather soft. It won’t do BATMAN BEGINS numbers. Not the marketing depts fault either. Over familiarity of material, a fondness for tv series, lack of surprise, rather formulaic and too old fashioned for tweens. It all looks so pedestrian.

  43. jeffmcm says:

    Nicol, you are correct that I don’t know your friends. As far as I know, you may be correct: they may be disease-ridden sluts. However, that means a couple of things. Either you are a bad friend for mocking them online when you should be trying to get them to change their ways. Or they aren’t sluts, in which case what you did was shift a joke about Dan Brown into something about female sexuality. It indicates something about your attitudes, something so perfectly, classically chauvinistic that there’s really no other way to describe it.
    By the way, I also want to point out that once again, rather than addressing the issue at hand, you have decided to dance around it with semantic and legalistic games. It’s not cute.

  44. jeffmcm says:

    Anghus, I meant to address you a little bit more. It is true that plenty of bad movies make lots of money, no surprise there. I don’t think critics these days are any less savvy about film history or aesthetics than they were in the past: Jonathan Rosenbaum, Armond White, Dargis, Scott, even Ebert are all very smart people. The difference is that today, thanks to the internet, there are many more ‘critics’ than there ever were before, and greater access to second- or third-rate critics in smaller cities, who are less likely to know what they’re talking about.
    That said, you ask about the relevancy of the critic, which I agree is about as diminished as it ever has been. Isn’t that a bad thing? Wouldn’t we be better off if people paid more attention to critics, and therefore avoided bad movies and rewarded good ones? The reliance on huge opening weekends and the marketing blitz accompanying them are _bad_ for movie culture, and bad for all of us.

  45. Nicol D says:

    “Between consenting adults? Sure. The only exception I can think of: If one partner isn’t totally honest with the other about his/her STD status.”
    What about a man who cheats on his wife with a prostitute who wishes she were not but has no choice because she has to support a child?
    Both are adults. It is consensual. They are honest about STD’s.
    Let the good times roll?
    “Either you are a bad friend for mocking them online when you should be trying to get them to change their ways. ”
    But then does that not make me judgemental and misogynistic?
    “Or they aren’t sluts, in which case what you did was shift a joke about Dan Brown into something about female sexuality. ”
    Of course the joke itself about Dan Brown made assumptions about (some) female sexuality.
    Do otherwise schmo men; wealthy writers like Brown, rock stars like Kiss, directors like Brett Ratner regularly get women because of thier status?
    Does this say something about the character of the women who choose to go with them also?

  46. Joe Leydon says:

    Once again: Consenting adults. Also, unlike you, I have read ALL of The Bible, and I caught the part where JC himself warns: Judge not lest ye be judged. (Fortunately, he said this about morality, not film critcism; otherwise, I’d really be in trouble.) You, on the other hand, appear to be part of the stone-tossing crowd. To each his own.

  47. jeffmcm says:

    Nicol, all we’re trying to say is that you seemed to introduce an undercurrent of woman-loathing into a conversation that had been about a single individual (Dan Brown) being crass. It speaks to your biases, and the term ‘loose’ is just another nail in the coffin.
    Like I said once before, you’re remarkably insensitive for someone who pretends to be a religious man.

  48. jeffmcm says:

    To transition back to the movie: this is exactly one of the reasons why The Da Vinci Code has been so popular with women, I think: because it speaks to an element of discontent young women have with modern spiritual life, and gives them something uplifting. I still don’t think it’s a good story/movie, but Nicol has, without wanting to, revealed one of the underlying causes of its appeal.

  49. Joe Leydon says:

    Can I ask a really naive question here? I was raised as a Roman Catholic, so I was pretty well indoctrinated in the concept of the VIRGIN Mary. Is this such a big deal in Protestant religions as well?

  50. jeffmcm says:

    I was raised Catholic too, Joe, but just barely. I believe the answer to your question is, no, not at all. Protestantism is much more about the Bible as a whole and not as much about the Trinity or Holy Family.

  51. James Leer says:

    I love how completely off-track this thread got. Way to go, Nicol!
    And it’s Nancy Cartwright, not Yeardley Smith, yo. Check your newsletters before you besmirch the Yeard’.

  52. KamikazeCamelV2.0 says:

    Yeardley Smith For President PLZ!!!
    (I hate this thread because I don’t have anything to say… other than the Yeardley Smith thing)

  53. anghus says:

    i see what you’re saying. But its not that people should pay more attention to critics. Its the fact that critics kind of disregard a sizable portion of the moviegoing audience who just enjoy something that critics might find ‘pedestrian’. White Chicks made 70+ million dollars. Was it a good movie? I don’t think so, but i know a lot of people who told me it was ‘funny’. There’s this coastal kind of attitude that exists in critics, as if they’re talking down to their audience rather than to them. People are aghast that movies like Armageddon make money, and declare it as ‘part of the problem’.
    The longest conversation i ever had on the subject lasted about 3 hours with a few prominent film personalities, where i argued that at some point you have to consider box office as a perception of quality. It doesn’t always factor in, as there are no constants, but if a movie is loathed by critics, but somehow makes a boatload of money, you have to consider that there is a large group of moviegoers who dont give a rats ass about the critical consensus.
    Despite horrid reviews, films like the Scary Movie series continue to make bank. Why? I don’t know. But when critics and entertainment journalists pan these films, not just review them, but call anyone who likes them ‘part of the problem’ or however they phrase it, it just alienates the audience. As a journalist, your goal is to tell the truth and to entertain, but if you spend countless columns discussing how bad movies are and how the industry is imploding, people will stop listening. In fact, many already have.
    The blame for all this is, of course, the fragmenting of entertainment journalism, and the fact that columnists and critics see large portions of readers getting their reviews from online sites that can cater to very specific demographics. So, instead of staying the course, they bang their drums and scream ‘The Sky is Falling’ every week. People are disregarding critics not just because theyve lost touch, but because they’ve traded in being entertaining for being ‘relevant’, which means they spend more time preaching than they do reviewing.

  54. Nicol D says:

    “I love how completely off-track this thread got. Way to go, Nicol!”
    I only made a joke, James. Extreme political correctness got the thread of track. How the terminally offended got through The Aristocrats is beyond me.
    “…You, on the other hand, appear to be part of the stone-tossing crowd.”
    Which of course is your way of judging me and many others. I’ll assume you have no opinions on President Bush then?
    As for your question regarding Mary it comes down to interpretation of the ancient text and the meaning of the word ‘brother’. In the original gospel text there is a reference to Jesus’ ‘brother’ James. The question then becomes what did ‘brother’ mean in the original language and context of the time it was written. Even in our culture ‘brother’ can have different meaning.
    Some historians settled on an interpretation of brother, given custom and tradition as meaning ‘cousin’. Therefore Mary’s virgin nature was accepted. These are the historians/philosophers that began/influenced Catholicism.
    Other historians rejected this and took a literal meaning of the word ‘brother’ and rejected Mary’s eternal virginity.
    Protestants take this more literal interpretation which is why she is not played up in their faith.
    Also, if I really wanted to be judgemental I would have wrote something more in tone like this…
    “Nicol, all we’re trying to say is that you seemed to introduce an undercurrent of woman-loathing into a conversation…It speaks to your biases, and the term ‘loose’ is just another nail in the coffin.
    …you’re remarkably insensitive for someone who pretends to be a religious man.”
    I do not pretend to be ‘religious’ at all. In fact, I am not ‘religious’.
    On the other hand, you and your faith of political correctness with terms like ‘woman loathing’ and ‘insensitive’ seem downright fundamentalist.
    Practice more tolerance friend…oh and diversity. Is that not what makes you more ‘sensitive’ and hence better than me?
    Perhaps you could take some time to provide me with a thesaurus of what words offend you and what your PC translation would be.
    I’ll get the ball rolling:
    ‘Loose’ in PC parlance = ‘Enlightened’ or ‘Evolved’.

  55. palmtree says:

    “In fact, I am not ‘religious’.”
    Really? How are you defining that since it’s in quotation marks?
    The problem with critics is that the parlance of critical writing has become all too familiar with the blurbs you see on movie posters and glib things like putting your thumbs up or giving stars. Everyone can do that and as a result, why do they need the real critics when average Joe commentary sounds just as legit? Ebert needs to take some blame for this.

  56. Nicol D says:

    Ebert is to blame in the way that Lucas is to blame for blockbusters. A bit but it goes beyond him.
    Ebert is a good writer and very thoughful, he just made film criticism consumer friendly.
    The problem is, most modern film schools do not teach film theory/history properly and many newspapers hire people from journalism schools as opposed to be people who actually know film. This is painfully evident in the lack of knowledge of film history and references in the writing to films pre 1970.
    This is not true of all critics, but more than I would care to admit. They also do not know how to put film history in terms of culture and the industry.
    I find reading most newspaper critics quite useless at this point.
    As to your question as to why I put the term ‘religious’ in quotes; because I know how people with PC outlooks use the term ‘religious’.
    It’s meant in the 1950’s Trey Parker in Orgazmo sense…and that ain’t me.

  57. Joe Leydon says:

    Nikki Finke is reporting that teen-agers comprise a huge hunk of the international “Da Vinci Code” audience. This actually squares with some anecdotal evidence I’ve noted — all week, my 19-year-old son has told me that many of his buddies are planning to see it. All of which makes me wonder, Dave: Maybe your fatal miscalculation while predicting the b.o. numbers stemmed from your failure to see any youth-market appeal in the material? (BTW: If so, you certainly weren’t alone in that regard: I didn’t think teens would be interested, either.)

  58. jeffmcm says:

    Nicol, if the bulk of us can’t get your sophisticated and cutting-edge sense of humor, I suspect the fault lies not in the audience but in the teller. Your ‘loose’ remark did not appear to be a joke. Like 90% of what you say, it appeared to be solemnly, smugly serious. It’s a two-way street, and labelling us ‘PC’ is just an lazy way for you to excuse your actions to yourself.
    You’re an amazing rhetorical gymnast, so consider yourself complimented on your form if not your content. By the way, I loved The Aristocrats.

  59. jeffmcm says:

    Oh yeah, here’s a question: how do you think film history/theory should be taught? I can tell you that based on my experiences at USC, teaching of film history is all screwed up, because they assume a much greater knowledge than most film production students actually have, many of whom have never taken a film history/theory class in their lives.

  60. Nicol D says:

    I didn’t label everyone a PC fundamentalist, Jeff.
    Just you.
    But, just like those Christians who flocked to DaVinci over the weekend, you can’t stop reading my posts and commenting on virtually every. single. thing. I write.
    Catch you on another thread.

  61. jeffmcm says:

    Nicol, my policy is to comment on posts that have something blatantly wrong or false on them. By mere coincidence it just so happens that a lot of those are produced by you.
    By the way, you’re a hypocrite. You’re happy to mock other groups and pass it off as good fun disrupted by the PC patrol, but whenever a group that you belong to gets made fun of, you’re indignant. You’re a huge factionalist.

  62. jeffmcm says:

    By the way, you’re invited to respond to my honestly-looking-for-an-answer question up above about film schools, but I think your answer will boil down to ‘stop teaching feminism and communism’. Correct me if I’m wrong.

  63. Joe Leydon says:

    Since I’m a uniter, not a divider, let me say something that might interest both Jeff and Nicol. I actually do teach film courses — at Houston Community College and University of Houston — and trust me: When it comes to students’ knowledge of film history, the situation is much worse than you think. Mind you, I am not talking about stupid people — I’m talking about reasonably bright 18-to-25-year olds (some of them film production and/or Communication majors) who have MASSIVE gaps in their grasp of fundamentals. Two examples, taken at random: Every semester, I have a few students tell me they had NEVER seen a Western before I screened “The Searchers” or “Rio Bravo” for them. Also, when I recently screened a Truffaut film for my scriptwriting students, I remarked that most Americans know the late, great filmmaker primarily as a co-star of “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.” Well, guess what? Not only had none of them ever seen a Truffaut movie — not one student in a class of 21 had ever seen “CE3K.”
    Of course, I guess this shoudn’t surprise me: When I referenced the late Gov. George Wallace in the same class, none of the students knew who I was talking about. No kidding.

  64. David Poland says:

    Uh… Nikki’s reporting is what the studio told her.
    Yes, it is possible that the film converted younger people in a way I didn’t expect. But reading it via Ms. Finke is like reading it in a press release.
    P.S. Hardly fatal. Just wrong by about 35% this weekend.

  65. Joe Leydon says:

    “[I]t will get well past half way to my 20 Weeks of Summer estimate this weekend alone.”
    Sounds pretty gosh-darn fatal to me, sport. Almost as bad (in reverse) as my fearless prediction that “Josie and the Pussycats” would be a smash.

  66. jeffmcm says:

    Hey Joe, you’re right. The problem is basic ground-level literacy of film, underlying everything else. Imagine how much worse things would be if not for the AFI’s yearly batch of lists designed to remind people of the studios’ library catalogues.
    By the way, even though I’m a PC fundamentalist, I owe you a belated apology for implying around Oscar-time that anyone who liked Crash was of less than normal intelligence. Sorry.

  67. palmtree says:

    The most important film class is watching movies. It can now be done through Netflix. Problem is that we’re not a terribly cinematic culture, or at least our mainstream cinematic culture is severely limited. Just wait until someone tells you that the original Star Wars movies were not all that (and it’s happened to me). But even if they watched all of the canonical movies, they would still need to know how to read them for symbolism, etc. I think that lots of people if they watched a movie would be content to just remember whether it was thumbs up or thumbs down and not even consider whether the score, the acting, the directing, the cinematography, or the script were good.

  68. Joe Leydon says:

    Netflix, Blockbuster, public libraries… Yes, Palmtree, there are plenty of places where people can access classic movies. But, as I often say, we must never confuse availability with exposure. Just because people CAN see great movies doesn’t mean they’ll WANT to. After all, you’re able to get just about any book Charles Dickens ever wrote from just about any well-stocked public library. And it’s been that way for a century or so. But tell the truth: How many people do you know have read five Dickens novels? Hell, how many have read one?
    And don’t get me started on the students who insisted “Red Dragon” was a better movie than “Manhunter” when I told them to write essays comparing the two.

  69. palmtree says:

    I wasn’t confusing them. People do want to watch great movies. They just lack the context for enjoying them, which I agree that a classroom environment sometimes can provide. It requires a kind of canonizing that AFI and the WGA lists were desperately trying to do and it requires people to challenge their own tastes.
    I’ll go one step further than Dickens. How many have stepped into their library lately? I agree with you in principle, but in fact, films are only 2 hours long and Netflix brings them to you. I think availability inevitably does influence desire just as mp3 sharing has made people more musically adventurous.

  70. Cadavra says:

    Re students’ lack of knowledge: a few years back, THE LAST PICTURE SHOW screened at UCLA, and Bogdanovich did a Q&A afterwards. At one point he remarked about the film being set in “the McCarthy era.” I heard the girl sitting behind me say, “Who’s McCarthy?” and her (I assume) boy friend replied, “He was this guy who was against the Vietnam war.”

  71. Josh Massey says:

    this is a test

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