Old MCN Blogs
David Poland

By David Poland poland@moviecitynews.com

Oscar Mysteries of the Mayans

apocalypto1a.jpg Who were the ancient Mayans?
Why did their empire fall?
Within the next ten days, we’ll know the answer to an even bigger question: will APOCALYPTO defy expectations and earn any Academy Award nominations?
Mel Gibson’s heart-removing historical adventure movieis up for just one award so far this season -– a Hollywood Foreign Press Association Golden Globe for best foreign language film. (The HFPA gives out its prizes on Jan. 15.)
The various guilds, though, have been properly awed by APOCALYPTO’s visual splendor — the captives’ journey into the dying Mayan metropolis is spectacular. Director of photography Terry Semler has been nominated for an A.S.C award. The evocative hair and makeup — including those otherworldly, PREDATOR meets SHOWGIRLS headdresses on the villains — Best Makeup? (It’s on the Academy’s award shortlist
What do you think: Is there any hope for some violent Mayan mime and dance number during number during the Oscar broadcast? )

Or will this man be the last to rock a radical hairstyle on the red carpet? In 2002, THOTH, the Central Park/street performer from Sarah Kernochan’s Oscar winning short subject documentary (2001), agressively entertainmed the arriving nominees from A BEAUTIFUL MIND and MOULIN ROUGE. Most of them looked quite alarmed. When his name – the film’s name – was announced, I’m pretty sure he bounded onto the stage, fiddle in hand, with the audience still wondering who the hell he was. Thoth will live forever in Chuck Workman montages.

sideshowbobb.jpg APOCALYPTO’S imaginary Mayan’s owe a style debt to a TV player whom we’ll be seeing onscreen this summer in THE SIMPSONS MOVIE:
A man called SIdeshow Bob.

Thoth, looking more like a figure from a hieroglyph.

Be Sociable, Share!

2 Responses to “Oscar Mysteries of the Mayans”

  1. Debby says:

    You can bet that Mel won’t get a nod for Best Director, although he’s the most provocative and gutsy talent Hollywood has seen in years.
    What other director would take on an epic on such a scale; none of those on the short-list that’s for sure.

  2. Thank you for writing. I’ll be among the stunned APOCALYPTO fans if Mel Gibson gets a Best Director nomination.
    But come on! God of gangsters Martin Scorsese has made more than a few spectacular historical/biographical epics (THE TEMPTATION OF CHRIST, KUNDUN, THE AVIATOR) hasn’t he? THE DEPARTED isn’t an epic – but it’s just as good as his other mobster movies — and it does speak, in an intelligent, feeling way, about how we’re living now. It’s not just cops and robbers. THE DEPARTED asks: What does it do to a person – to us — when we lie in the service of doing what’s right? When does right become wrong? Were we ever right?
    And all five DGA nomineet are admirable, technically sensitive directors. I wish there were room on that list to recognize Clint Eastwood (LETTERS FROM IWO JIMA), Michael Winterbottom (ROAD TO GUANTANAMO/ TRISTRAM SHANDY), Pedro Almodovar (VOLVER), Alfonso Cuaron (CHILDREN OF MEN) and Guillermo del Toro (PAN’S LABYRINTH).
    I agree with you about Mel Gibson – he is provocative and gutsy, and he continues to make wrenchingly spectacular – sometimes horrific — films. I don’t know why he expresses such discomfort in his films with male sexuality. And gays. And Roman Catholicism. Judaism. And Jews. (!)
    I see him coming from the tradition of John Ford — maybe John Wayne and John Ford. Now he’s forging his own highly emotive brand of romantic fascist filmmaking.
    I wonder, in 25 or 50 years – if we (and I hope he, too) can put distance between whatever rotten bad thing was (is?) eating away at him in his private life — will we see him as one of the more important movie makers of this era? I hope so.
    Look back at the acclaimed films and directors from 25 and 50 years ago — watch them again — are those the films and filmmakers we consider important, artistic, great, classic?

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