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David Poland

By David Poland poland@moviecitynews.com

Academy Awards 2007: Short-Shrifted

I spent about ten minutes reading through the nominations and being shocked. Then I had to go. No DREAMGIRLS for Best Picture….I don’t get it. [Major analysis in next day Los Angeles Times.]
Come back in a decade, thirtyish actors. Quota’s been filled. No room for:
Christian Bale, THE PRESTIGE, as a magician whose sleight of hand makes his own life disappear. (Edward Norton, another of this year’s screen magicians in THE ILLUSIONIST is apparently too young, and too prolific with his subtle, strong performances to score enough votes–the same goes for Matt Damon (THE DEPARTED) and Derek Luke (CATCH A FIRE), who convinced me that there had to be a second, South African actor, an older man, and not the same Derek Luke, American kid, whom I’d seen in BIKER BOYZ a couple of years ago. How cool for Leonardo DiCaprio, who’s outstanding in both THE DEPARTED and THE BLOOD DIAMOND, to be nominated.) But bad for…
Adam Beach, FLAGS OF OUR FATHERS, as the most traumatized of the Iwo Jima Marines, the man who’s destroyed as much bigotry as by what he saw during and after he served in WWII.
Michael Sheen, THE QUEEN, as a youthful, scheming/sly politician named Tony Blair – a man who seems to have a little crush on a mysterious older woman: the ruler of Great Britain.
Also missed:
Laura Dern, INLAND EMPIRE, who continues to explore uncharted territory as an actress, in the role (roles?) of a lifetime in David Lynch’s psychological thriller.
Bill Nighy, the English sex god of un certain age in NOTES ON A SCANDAL, as the husband and father and the one character who says what’s the audience’s mind: “What the hell were you thinking?”
Best Pictures, Not In English
Unfortunately for these foreign-language film entries, there were 61 submissions and at least a dozen titles that’ll be more memorable than the Best Picture nominees. Keep an eye out for:
TEN CANOES, Australia (Palm Pictures)
BLACK BOOK, The Netherlands (Sony Pictures Classics)
VOLVER, Spain. (Sony Pictures Classics)
It’s going to win, isn’t it? And I still won’t like the vague voidyness of the script. But I did love the way film’s director, Alejandro González Iñárritu cracked the best joke in California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s face to start off his Golden Globe acceptance speech (“I swear I have my papers in order, Governor” before waxing eloquent about movies, communication, bridging differences in language through film.

MovieCityNews Awards Central

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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