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David Poland

By David Poland

Gurus O' Gold: The Early Days

The Full Charts…
Once again, we have launched Gurus o’ Gold for the awards season. This year, there is a bit of a shake up in the line-up, which we are trying to address for those who are not on this chart this season

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51 Responses to “Gurus O' Gold: The Early Days”

  1. Alan Cerny says:

    I feel fairly confident that INTO THE WILD’s going to do decent to good business, and maybe even better than that. I was at Half-Price Books (a local used bookstore) and all the housewives were scrambling for copies of the book. i was surprised, actually, at the interest. I myself finished the book last week, and the film is probably my most anticipated movie right now. The Oprah episode on the film has boosted awareness pretty much across the board. I see it tomorrow, hopefully (unfortunately I’m not in NY/LA).
    I think it’ll make the Final five, unless it turns out to be a disaster, and all the reports I’m hearing say that’s far from the case.
    Have you seen it yet, DP? If you posted about it, sorry.

  2. jeffmcm says:

    Interesting list, I just wish that there was more than one movie that hasn’t been released yet.

  3. jeffmcm says:

    I mean, more than one movie that had already been released.

  4. David Poland says:

    I have posted minimally about it. I saw it a month ago and have been waiting to see it again to write about it in depth.
    It’s very friendly to a lot of the potential audience. There are a few issues, but hooking into the audience is the challenge. Anne Thompson is already reporting – presumably based on a report by an opposing consultant – a weak Academy screening. But we have heard that about many films.
    I too think the film could build into a phenom. But we’ll see. On the same tip, is No Country For Old Men the next Fargo or too dark for “them.” Lots of questions to answer this year and only time will answer most of them.

  5. djk813 says:

    If the chart is composed of a good cross section of people who create the conventional wisdom, then by definition the picks have to be conventional, don’t they?

  6. “Is John Travolta a Lead Actor, Supporting Actor, or Supporting Actress?”
    If Linda Hunt can win for Supporting Actress for playing a man in “The Year of Living Dangerously” 25 years ago, surely we should have put this kind of snark to bed during the first Reagan administration.

  7. David Poland says:

    Oh please!
    It may (or may not) be a bad joke, but it hardly constitutes a 20 year old wound.

  8. waterbucket says:

    The day that Atonement wins the Best Picture Oscar is the same day that I will watch Hostel. Never gonna happen!

  9. Fishermansfriend says:

    Do you know if any of the other critics have seen Lars & The Real Girl and The Savages? The lack of support for both films is quite puzzling esp. given their glowing reviews.

  10. Mongoose says:

    Anne Thompson reported that the Academy had a weak response based on what….mild applause? When was the last time you attended a screening where people clapped loudly after the slow, agonizing death of a 20 year old? I’d wonder about THAT audience.

  11. jeffmcm says:

    Gah! Give a spoiler warning please!

  12. Monco says:

    I can’t wait to see No Country For Old Men. I am a big fan of the book and feel that Cormac McCarthy is a master. I have faith in the Coens and hearing the word from film festivals it sounds like they did the book justice. I would love to see the Coens getting Academy recognition again.

  13. lazarus says:

    “When was the last time you attended a screening where people clapped loudly after the slow, agonizing death of a 20 year old? I’d wonder about THAT audience.”
    Askijeffmcm. I’ll bet him and the rest of the Hostel II crowd would love that.

  14. jeffmcm says:

    I was already sold on this movie, Lazarus.
    I’d rather be called part of the Cabin Fever crowd, though. It’s a better movie.

  15. Ian Sinclair says:

    Lazarus, jeffmcm would not be able to clap at the end of “the slow, agonizing death of a 20 year old” as he would only have one hand free.

  16. jeffmcm says:

    Lazarus, you let in the troll. Thanks a lot.

  17. David Poland says:

    Please DO be careful about spoiler warnings… I won’t always be here to clean up within the hour…

  18. lazarus says:

    Sorry, DP It’s hard to remember if I’m on the Ruin Every Ending For Every Film I Talk About blog or this one.

  19. Joe Leydon says:

    In defense of Lazarus: This is a pretty well known story. I think most people will go into Into the Wild knowing it won’t turn out well.

  20. jeffmcm says:

    LOL, now it sounds like (SPOILERS) the end of Into the Wild is a scene of me masturbating.
    Granted, I haven’t seen it yet, so maybe it is.

  21. lazarus says:

    jeffmcm, this is getting way too Meta for me.
    Just don’t sit behind me at the Arclight.

  22. David Poland says:

    Only if they are going to do mediocre numbers at the box office, Joe.
    Did they sell more than 1 million copies of the book? 2 milion? 3 million? We’re up to a $25 million gross…

  23. Joe Leydon says:

    David, with all due respect: Are you joking? This incident already was fairly well known to folks who read anything other than movie-oriented websites and entertainment sections of newspapers long before the nonfiction book appeared. Hell, it’s so well know that actually began its descritpion of the book like this:
    “‘God, he was a smart kid…’ So why did Christopher McCandless trade a bright future–a college education, material comfort, uncommon ability and charm–for death by starvation in an abandoned bus in the woods of Alaska? This is the question that Jon Krakauer’s book tries to answer. While it doesn’t

  24. Joe Leydon says:

    Er, of course, that should read: “Hell, it’s so well KNOWN that…”

  25. scooterzz says:

    to suggest that a ‘spoiler alert’ is necessary for this film is just ridiculous……
    my question is: ‘despite the performance of hirsch, will academy members embrace such a thoughtless, selfish asshole character as mccandless and nominate any part of the film for an award?’…..

  26. scooterzz says:

    to suggest that a ‘spoiler alert’ is necessary for this film is just ridiculous……
    my question is: ‘despite the performance of hirsch, will academy members embrace such a thoughtless, selfish asshole character as mccandless and nominate any part of the film for an award?’…..

  27. jeffmcm says:

    Obviously I haven’t seen the movie, but the Academy’s approval of a movie and their approval of its lead character are two different things. For example, The Godfather movies.

  28. Waterbucket, I’m sure you said the opposite thing about Brokeback Mountain, right? No way it could lose? Yeah. Why on earth can’t Atonement win? And if you say “too British” then I will laugh.

  29. Krazy Eyes says:

    The fate of McCandless was described in the blurbs of the edition of Into The Wild I read (I had already read the original “Outdoor” Magazine piece so there was nothing to spoil anyway). None of this hampered my enjoyment of the book. I’m not sure why movies somehow need special treatment. If the success of a true story like this hinges on not knowing the fate of the protaganist than Penn hasn’t done his job as a filmmaker.
    Maybe I’m full of shit. Did anyone see The Perfect Storm and not know how it was going to end? Did people get mad about spoilers for that film too? Are people going to get up in arms if I spill the beans that Tom Cruise fails in his assassination attempt on Hitler in the upcoming Valkyrie?

  30. bipedalist says:

    Nobody has any idea what The Academy will do. They have a long time fill out their ballots and if Sean Penn is showing up on lists far and wide, including the DGA’s, you can bet that will be a heavy hitter. Perception is everything; it’s not JUST about the movie when it comes to nominees. Penn’s film will not be judged in isolation – it will be a tribute to HIM AS A DIRECTOR for having made (what they consider to be ) a really good movie. There is a history and pattern of this type of thing. The movie is really beautiful, really sad and the truth about it is that you like Emile Hirsch as McCandless. But I believe the thing about it makes the difference is Penn. Directed by some nobody and it would go as far as the Spirit Awards.
    Spoiler alert for this film? You gotta be fucking kidding. I feel badly for the person who goes into the movie not knowing how it all turns out; they’re going to be really pissed off.

  31. David Poland says:

    I gotta tell you… about half the people I know who saw the film in LA or at Toronto didn’t know what the ending was. Vantage certainly doesn’t want to advertise it.
    And I am amazed that you guys continue not to post SPOILER before writing what you were already asked to add a Spoiler warning to. Isn’t that a little disrespectful of the rights of others to be in the dark?
    And yes, I am completely serious. It is stunningly myopic to believe that EVERYONE knows about Chris McCandless’ story going in. They are not selling a biopic. They are selling a road movie.
    And yes again… a lot of people saw The Perfect Storm without knowing the end. There are people who didn’t know the story of All The Kings Men. There are people who won’t have read Cormac McCarthy. There are people who expect a different outcome to The Diving Bell & The Bitterfly, even after the first hour.
    Spoiler warnings are not about YOU. They are about others. They are such a minor courtesy that you should be using them, even if you think someone who doesn’t know is an idiot. And if you want to discuss the fact that people should know, you can do it without giving away the spoiler… even though each of you seemed to do just that, almost on purpose.

  32. The Carpetmuncher says:

    Wow, I gotta disagree with this Spoiler alert drivel. It’s a true story that was a huge best seller. And every single review is gonna give away the ending of the film. And yes, the book gave away the ending on it’s back cover.
    Complaining about spoiler alerts for this film is just inane. You might as well complain that someone gave away the ending to PASSION OF THE CHRIST, or The 300.
    When it’s fiction I have sympathy, but when it’s a widely reported true story, it just doesn’t hold water.
    And tip-toeing around this stuff to save people living in a closet from knowing what everybody else already knows…sorry, if they get uptight about it, they need to protect themselves and not surf movie blogs. Thinking they are not gonna see a spoiler when they do that is like turning on ESPN when you’ve TiVo-ed the game and don’t want to hear the score before you watch it. It’s your own dang fault.

  33. jeffmcm says:

    There’s a big difference between the Bible and some Jon Kracauer book that most people have never heard of before, true story or not. I was joking earlier when I posted about spoilers – I already knew the character didn’t make it – but the texture of the ending, the details and so on, are what any moviegoer wants to experience with a fresh slate, and which can easily be destroyed by carelessness.

  34. jeffmcm says:

    There’s a big difference between the Bible and some Jon Kracauer book that most people have never heard of before, true story or not. I was joking earlier when I posted about spoilers – I already knew the character didn’t make it – but the texture of the ending, the details and so on, are what any moviegoer wants to experience with a fresh slate, and which can easily be destroyed by carelessness.

  35. jeffmcm says:

    Sorry about double post.

  36. Joe Leydon says:

    Oddly enough, this debate reminds me of Looking for Mr. Goodbar

  37. Wrecktum says:

    I’m reminded of the the shock and sadness of a girl I knew in high school when she saw La Bamba. She was anguished that Ritchie Valens died at the end.

  38. bipedalist says:

    I still say it’s dumb for Into the Wild. And it’s not about me; the McCandless story is all over the web, all over TV. Seriously. the bait and switch has always bummed me out as a movie-goer – and I think knowing how this one ends going in makes the experience richer entirely.

  39. David Poland says:

    Tning is… it shouldn’t be your call.
    And I will give myself up on this one… when I saw the film in August, I hadn’t read the book. I had read Into Thin Air, but not this one. The name Chris McCandliss was familiar, but in no specific way. I go out of my way to avoid knowing what I am walking into when a movie is coming out. And I had no idea.
    And I think it is fair to say that I am probably as well read (or close) and probably more web news aware than anyone in here.
    I am glad I didn’t know because I experienced the story as the movie wished me to experience it. I didn’t know Krakauer’s version or about any controversy, etc. It just wasn’t on my radar.
    Yes, it is crazy to get worked up about the end of Star Wars: Episode 3… Darth Vader must happen. Or The Passion of The Christ. But this book is not The Bible or Star Wars or even Harry Potter… and I don’t want to know what the ends of those movies are ahead of time either.

  40. Noah says:

    I think most folks that visit this blog are aware of the ending of Into the Wild by now. However, this wasn’t an Into the Wild thread, it’s an awards thread. So if someone just cruised along here and wanted to hear what people thought of the potential nominees and then got Into the Wild spoiled for them, then that sucks. Not everyone is as plugged in as some of us are; some people don’t devote as much time to movies as we all do.
    Personally I have yet to see Into the Wild and I’m still psyched to see it, even though I knew the ending months ago. I’m of the belief that it should be about the journey, not the destination, but not everyone agrees with me.

  41. bipedalist says:

    Okay well i just saw the latest ad for Into the Wild and they are absolutely selling it as a thriller or at least something potentially upsetting, which I think is a good call. Surefire way to kill this movie is to sell it wrong.

  42. Joe Leydon says:

    No, David, you are not more web news aware than anyone who comes in here. Maybe more entertainment news aware, but not more news aware. Sorry, I know you will accuse me again of being condescending, but it’s quite obvious that simply isn’t true. You have just revealed as much in your posting.

  43. David Poland says:

    Yes, Joe… Into The Wild is the definition of modern news awareness.

  44. I’m not aware of anything related to Into the Wild except the bare essentials (Penn, Hirsch, that old dude from TV, apparently it’s quite good). Is there are reason why I should already know everything about it including how it ends?

  45. Joe Leydon says:

    Here is the original 2006 story announcing that Sean Penn would direct “Into the Wild.”
    Here is Scott Weinberg’s contemporaneous story:
    And Coming Soon:
    Here is a June 2006 Ropes of Silcon casting story:
    I could list more, but you get the picture: The info about “Into the Wild” that some claim qualifies as a spoiler has been out there for more than a year on websites that many (if not most) people on this site frequent (or write for). If you walk into the movie without knowing how it turns out — well, sorry, I don’t think you qualify as “web news aware.”

  46. Krazy Eyes says:

    I’m usually a big supporter of spoiler warnings but there needs to be a common consensus of what constitutes a spoiler in the first place. I know some people who would consider virtually any plot point about a movie a spoiler and if everyone followed that rule the film blogs would be awash in spoiler warnings. My personal take it that I’m all for posting spoilers for fiction works but I think the line gets really hazy when you’re discussing non-fiction works.
    Spoilers for Into the Wild
    My real question is the larger issue of why a movie like Into the Wild even feels the need to sell the film as a mystery. The original title to the Krakauer magazine article was “Death of an Innocent” and I double checked my copy of the book and it says right on the front cover that his decomposed body is found 4 months later. I agree with DP that it’s a call that’s ultimately not mine but it makes me wonder about Penn’s approach to the material and the desperateness of marketers.

  47. bipedalist says:

    Are people really THAT STUPID that they would be reading these comments, see Krazy Eyes spoiler alert and click off the page? Who would be that dumb? A little common sense here please! And I think that not knowing the story about Chris Mccandless, yes, does mean you aren’t news aware and does mean you need to know the true story BEFORE you see the movie. You know why? BECAUSE IT’S TRUE! Historical events should be told and talked about and people should be made aware of them; they are important. Do I give a rat’s ass if some baby wants to protect their otherwise ignorant state of being?
    Have we really handed over our innate right as storytellers to movie marketers? Maybe there are pre-teen boys on this blog but aren’t the majority thinking adults?
    I hope that when it’s time for Charlie Wilson’s War people don’t start whining about spoilers. When I heard about Munich the first thing I did was google the real story. We live in an age where information is mostly free and with a few select words into a search engine you have all of the info you need. This is not a spoiler – it’s education. It’s information. Fucking hell.

  48. Noah says:

    Sasha, I don’t really think Chris McCandless’ story is really on the same level, news-wise and history-wise, as Munich. The Munich Olympics are an important part of history (and even if you did know about what happened at those Olympics, the ending of the FILM could not be known in advance) while Into the Wild is about one guy. I agree with you that most people should probably know about this and I doubt it would affect their enjoyment, but some people don’t and all you have to do is take that into consideration. As for myself, I don’t care about the ending of any movie being spoiled in terms of what happens plot-wise, but I don’t want to know HOW things happen. It bothers me when people talk about Into the Wild, without a spoiler warning, and start talking about what kind of shot is used and the music, etc. I can deal with knowing what happens, I just don’t want the how spoiled.

  49. bipedalist says:

    I think we’ve all become a bunch of babies. Sorry, but it’s true. I am all for a spoiler alert for a movie like There will be Blood or No Country for Old Men, absolutely. But not a true story.

  50. jeffmcm says:

    Bipedalist, even a movie based on a true story is going to be altered for the purposes of dramatization. We all know what happened in the Munich olympics but since that happens at the beginning of the movie you’d feel ripped off if somebody told you what happens in the final act, right?
    This shouldn’t be controversial. It’s a matter of basic courtesy.

  51. grandcosmo says:

    >>>>And I think it is fair to say that I am probably as well read (or close) and probably more web news aware than anyone in here.
    Are you serious when you write things like this?

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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