Old MCN Blogs
David Poland

By David Poland poland@moviecitynews.com

SNAKES ON A PLANE: Shoutbacks Reviewed

Now is the time to submit your eyewitness reports of SNAKES ON A PLANE’s opening night screenings. The audience shoutbacks. The shootings. Anything else you might notice.
Which publication will be first with the hater headline SNAKES BITE”?
And which fake populist critic will shill himself into the blurb whore pantheon with a line like, “who’d have thought a thrill ride about cold-blooded reptiles would turn out to be such a warm hearted, winsome surprise!” or “The plain truth? Snakes On A Plane is Hisssss-terrical!”
Salon’s Stephanie Zacharek doesn’t feel the snake love, but does give the impression that the first-night Times Square screening was the place to be. “When we became restless after too many trailers, a soft hissing noise filled the theater, a boo that was actually a cheer. Time to bring on the motherfucking snakes!” She continues: “While “Snakes on a Plane” barely stands up as a movie, it definitely qualifies as an event. A fellow critic present at the same showing said that afterward, he couldn’t quite tell if the crowd actually liked the picture. But everyone sure liked being there.”
Everyone but Entertainment Weekly’s Owen Gleiberman, who seems decidedly creeped out by the mob mentality in that very same theatre. Smack! We have a winner. “Snakes on a Plane sounds like a title that Don Simpson, at 4 in the morning, scrawled in white powder on a glass table.”
Finally, because somebody’s got to take umbrage at something in every film, spare a moment for the reaction of a snake expert who points out that “snakes on crack” — or pheremones — would be more interested in loving than biting. This same herpetologist also takes umbrage at the film’s portrayal of the “bald, geeky” snake expert. “We don’t like to think we’re nerds,” sniffed the snake scientist, who wears his long flowing gray hair in a ponytail.
The next time I’m on an ill-fated flight upon which killer snakes escape and go amok, and one of the snakes kills me by chomping down on my bare bosom while I — like an idiot — am complaining about the flight attendants or (even better) I’m applying for membership in the Mile High Club, I demand that at least one eyewitness notice, semi off the record, “Nice rack, you know–which makes thisa real tragedy,” and that my grieving survivors claim,: “It’s how she would have wanted 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