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David Poland

By David Poland

BYOB – 12/14

It’s your world… I’m just he guy with the hors devours…

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28 Responses to “BYOB – 12/14”

  1. LexG says:

    Hardly a new area of discussion to most, but always interesting: With all the nitpicking and bickering about the Globe, and thus, potential Oscar noms, it’s always worth keeping in mind that many, or most of these films will fall into relative obscurity once the sands of time settle.
    Had there been a Hot Blog, or a Hollywood elsewhere, back in Dec 1983, we’d have been all, “No way! TENDER MERCIES is a masterpiece that will stand the test of time!” Or “THE DRESSER is the film we’ll all remember in 25 years!” “UNDER THE VOLCANO fans can eat a dick, ’cause TERMS OF ENDEARMENT is gonna own the Oscars.”
    All the while scoffing at anyone prescient enough to suggest that we’d all one day remember SCARFACE, VACATION, CHRISTMAS STORY, RISKY BUSINESS, THE DEAD ZONE, KING OF COMEDY, RETURN OF THE JEDI, and a half-dozen others (REVENGE OF THE NINJA, BITCH!) with more fondness than most of the nominees.
    Obviously happens more years than not, yet some years are worse than others. 1995 stands out as another year where we all remember and revisit the Mann, Fincher, Stone– even VERHOEVEN– films of that year like they came out yesterday, while no one’s exactly throwing IL POSTINO or even APOLLO 13 into regular rotation.
    Seems to me, then, a movie’s best shot of standing the test of time among the film crowd is whether it’s directed by a world-class, etched-in-stone AUTEUR.
    Something like Eastern Promises, or There Will Be Blood, Sweeney Todd, or even American Gangster will survive, as film geeks revere those directors and re-watch their films with some frequency. So of the 7 nominated this year, more than usual will probably survive and become mini-classics of sorts.
    Something like MICHAEL CLAYTON, solid and excellent as it is on its own terms, will probably one day be resigned to “catch every 10 years on Cinemax and remember what a good movie it was” status, a la NORMA RAE, CHINA SYNDROME, KRAMER VS. KRAMER, …AND JUSTICE FOR ALL, ABSENCE OF MALICE, etc. All perfectly terrific movies that lack both the timeless crowd-pleasing populism to remain an enduring popular favorite, and the strong, insipred auteur-dictated lunacy to stand the test of time with film geeks.

  2. jeffmcm says:

    Paul Brickman, auteur extraordinaire?

  3. Wrecktum says:

    “All the while scoffing at anyone prescient enough to suggest that we’d all one day remember SCARFACE, VACATION, CHRISTMAS STORY, RISKY BUSINESS, THE DEAD ZONE, KING OF COMEDY, RETURN OF THE JEDI, and a half-dozen others (REVENGE OF THE NINJA, BITCH!) with more fondness than most of the nominees”
    Sounds like a child of the ’80s pretending that his taste is better than his elders. Vacation more fondly remembered than The Dresser? Only if you were 12 in 1983.

  4. Eric says:

    Lex makes a point that I hadn’t considered before– a movie is much more likely to be remembered if it can be a part of some sort of canon (and the most common type of canon is probably director-based).
    This sort of association probably makes a notable director’s lesser work more likely to be remembered than, say, a one-hit wonder. Look at, say, 1997: Van Sant’s Good Will Hunting and Miyazaki’s Princess Mononoke are more often discussed than George Armitage’s Grosse Point Blank, even though I’ve always thought the latter is a really great movie.
    I’m probably going to get torn apart for my choice of examples, but you know what I’m saying.

  5. Jonj says:

    Nice column, LexG. There are some movies you pull for to stand the test of time. I’ve always hoped AI would one day be better appreciated. When it came out, it appeared to polarize critics and audiences. More people debated whose movie it really was than talked about the merits of the film itself. I consider it one of Spielberg’s best, which of course, means absolutely nothing. But that’s the great thing about movies. It’s a personal experience that no one can take away from you.

  6. LexG says:

    “Sounds like a child of the ’80s pretending that his taste is better than his elders. Vacation more fondly remembered than The Dresser? Only if you were 12 in 1983.”
    Yes, very true, Wrecktum. Maybe nostalgia, especially youthful nostalgia, clouds the issue. I’d still contend more people, even “film” people, are likely to wheel out the ol’ DVD of VACATION than THE DRESSER. I established it badly, but I think I was saying the masses will remember JEDI and VACATION, and the film nerds would remember the Scorsese movies and DePalma movies of that year.
    If you want to update it to a year when nostalgia isn’t the issue, Fincher’s FIGHT CLUB (not nominated) is already handily more revered by geeks and regular viewers than, say, workmanlike Darabont’s GREEN MILE (nominated.)

  7. jeffmcm says:

    Another point is that ‘Academy’ movies and earnest dramas tend to be less-well-remembered than comedies or genre movies in general. Ask someone to name ten movies from the 1930s and they’d probably name more Universal Horror movies and Marx Brothers titles than Bette Davis or Joan Crawford vehicles.
    But of course, that might also be the gender gap, which I think is well-represented here.

  8. jackfly11 says:

    LexG makes some interesting points and reminds me of a question I’d love to see discussed on this blog.
    It seems to be pretty widely agreed that 2007 has been a superior year for film and that 1999 was the last high benchmark. With that in mind, I was wondering if there’s much consensus on what the last “great” movie year was prior to 1999?
    I came to adulthood during the 90’s and saw virtually everything I could get a ticket to; I can’t think of any other single year that holds a candle to ’99 in the 90’s. But prior to that, my experience starts to get a little sketchy… (Case in point, Wrecktum – I’m more likely to agree with LexG that Vacation holds a more special place than The Dresser).
    Would love to hear some suggestions? What are some of the other universally adored “great movie” years?

  9. Jonj says:

    Everybody talks about 1939:
    Gone with the Wind
    The Wizard of Oz
    Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
    Wuthering Heights

  10. Jonj says:

    Best line from Vacation:
    “We’re all going to have
    so much fucking fun
    we’ll need plastic surgery
    to remove our goddamn smiles.
    You’ll be whistling zippity-doo-dah
    out of your assholes!?

  11. LexG says:

    I’d offer up 97, 95 and maybe 90 (though that year more for popcorn fare) from that decade.
    82, 83 and 86 from the 80s.
    75, 76 and 79 from the 70s.
    I’d be curious to hear what are remembered as truly terrible years.
    My personal pick is 1987; Whatever was nominated or won that year, the only movies I can think of with any personal rewatch value are WALL STREET and FULL METAL JACKET.
    Even onetime faves from that year– UNTOUCHABLES, ANGEL HEART, LAST EMPEROR– haven’t done it for me in years.
    And 96 and 00 kinda blew.

  12. lazarus says:

    I don’t know if you’ve had a chance to watch the Director’s Cut of The Last Emperor, Lex, but despite the Oscar sweep, it’s a much better film than it’s given credit for, especially in this version.
    Also, Bertolucci is certainly one of the auteurs you were talking about, and because of that it’s likely to be remembered more than others.
    There’s no point in trying to find a great year or terrible year for films in the 80’s, because frankly the whole decade sucks outside of its genre landmarks. From an auteur standpoint, you have, what, Scorsese’s minor work decade (save for Bull and Christ), Coppola not worth mentioning, 2 Kubrick films, a couple Kurosawa, Leone’s final masterpiece, a couple Tarkovsky, and then you’re left with Cronenberg and Carpenter? Not much to speak of compared to the 70’s or the indie auteur boom in the 90’s.
    But I do agree with much of your post Lex. I don’t know if it’s fair to include Terms of Endearment though, because it was a very well-written and directed film, and it’s not like James L. Brooks is a nobody. Also, Tender Mercies (which sounds like an alternate title for Brooks’ film) may wind up being remembered just for Duvall’s perf, which was really, really, great. Under the Volcano SHOULD be rememberd for Albert Finney’s equally great work (and also one of John Huston’s last films–there’s your auteur rule again being violated).

  13. Noah says:

    But Laz, there’s also Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing and She’s Gotta Have it, Woody Allen’s Hannah and Her Sisters and Purple Rose of Cairo, not to mention Lynch’s Blue Velvet or The Coens’ Blood Simple and Raising Arizona or Gilliam’s Brazil or Gus Van Sant’s Drugstore Cowboy or Cameron Crowe’s Say Anything. I think there are a lot of good movies in the 80’s by important directors; it’s only a disappointing decade in relation to the decades that surround it.

  14. jeffmcm says:

    ‘In relation to the decades that surround it’ is kind of the point, I’d say.

  15. lazarus says:

    jeff, you’re right, but noah’s also right about some things I forgot. Cinematically I’d argue the 80’s features Woody’s most impressive and diverse work, though 1 major Spike, Gilliam or Van Sant film isn’t enough to justify the decade, nor do the Coens first 2 films save it. Also, Cameron Crowe is NOT an auteur.
    You would have had a better point focusing on Lynch, who had 3 great films that decade.
    Also, Robert Altman didn’t have a good decade either.
    I’m not saying you couldn’t make a list of 25, or even 50 great 80’s films. But I imagine a list of great 70’s or 90’s films would go on much, much longer, and compare very favorably against it.

  16. THX5334 says:

    How can you leave out 1977?
    ’77 was the year for me.
    It was then I saw the movie that changed everything, for good or bad.
    Yep; by the end of that first Star Wars, at the ripe age old of four, I decided then to be an actor and a filmmaker and never looked back.
    God, I’ve heard that from so many others, cliche doesn’t even define it. But it also happens to be my story.
    Excuse me now while I go vomit…

  17. THX5334 says:

    How can you leave out 1977?
    ’77 was the year for me.
    It was then I saw the movie that changed everything, for good or bad.
    Yep; by the end of that first Star Wars, at the ripe old age of four, I decided then to be an actor and a filmmaker and never looked back.
    God, I’ve heard that from so many others, cliche doesn’t even define it. But it also happens to be my story.
    Excuse me now while I go vomit…

  18. THX5334 says:

    Oops. Sorry for the double post. But the second one does have the fixed typo! 😉

  19. Geoff says:

    Interesting points about the ’80’s – even though I am a child of the ’80’s, no, it is not the decade in “film” that the ’70’s or ’90’s was, but…..
    It was a decade of pure entertainment – mass entertainments that defined their genre’s and still do, today:
    Sci-fi comedy – Ghostbusters
    Buddy cop movie – Lethal Weapon
    Serial adventure – Raiders of the Lost Ark
    Mismatched romantic comedy – When Harry Met Sally
    Mismatched buddy adventure comedy – Midnight Run
    Teen love story – Say Anything
    Disaffected teen drama – Breakfast Club
    Gangster epic – Scarface
    Sci-fi horror – Aliens (think about it)
    Futuristic thriller – Terminator
    Sports comedy – Bull Durham
    Time travel adventure – Back to the Future
    Kid adventure comedy – The Goonies
    Horror comedy – Evil Dead 2
    Techno thriller – Wargames (even against all the ones that came out in the ’90’s)
    Man against terrorist group in one location action film – Die Hard
    Military action drama – Top Gun
    Corporate corruption morality tale – Wall Street
    I really like all but two of those films. (sorry, but Top Gun and Scarface just never impressed me)The list really goes on and on and on. Most of the above films were hugely influential and heavily duplicated. All in all, it was a great decade for action films and comedies – also Trading Places, A Fish Called Wanda, Wrath of Khan, Empire Strikes Back – so many films worthy of repeat viewing.
    That said, it WAS a good decade for Scorcese – Raging Bull, of course, but you cannot argue against King of Comedy, Last Temptation of Christ, or even Color of Money (you gotta admit, no one used Tom Cruise better. I will still hold that Woody Allen had his best films – Hannah and Crimes and Misdemeanors.
    Oliver Stone came about as a AUTEUR – of course, Platoon and Salvador, but Talk Radio and damn, if Wall Street isn’t fun to watch, even today. Spielberg didn’t do his best work, but it’s hard to argue against the Indiana Jones trilogy. Guys like Lynch, Jarmusch (overrated, but really one of the first true indie directors), Coen Brothers, Soderburgh, Michael Mann, and Spike Lee – I believe that Do the Right Thing is the best film of that decade.

  20. Jimmy the Gent says:

    Years ’02 and 04 were also high points, with ’05 having a great finish.
    The best of the Nineties are ’93, ’96, and ‘ 99, with ’91 and ’97 being really good. Check IMDb if you don’t believe me.
    1985 is the absolute low point of the Eighties. What can you say about a summer where the two real highlights were Back the Future and Pee-Wee’s big Adventure? The even-numbered years were all good in the Eighties. ’89 is really the first year of Nineties.
    ’87 gave us Wall Street, Moonstruck, The Big Easy, House of Games, Full Metal Jacket, The Dead, The Hit, Near Dark, Planes, Trains & Automobiles, Roxanne, RoboCop, Prick Up Your Ears, China Girl, No Way Out, and River’s Edge.
    I don’t get this new trend in catagorizing movies as either being remembered or not. Why can’t a great movie fall under the catagory of being forgotten or overlooked. Apollo 13 may not be talked about in the same way, say, The Rightt Stuff is, but that shouldn’t take away from the fact that its a superior piece of mass-appeal entertainment. It takes real skill in creating suspense out of a story we already know the outcome to.
    How about this? I nominate Barbet Schroeder’s Kiss of Death (’95) as a forgotten great movie. Along with King of New York and Mad Dog and Glory, I hold it as proof positive that David Caruso should be in movies. He was born too late. He would’ve thrived in film noirs during the ’40s. But Kiss of Death is a great crime drama that relies on character development for its suspense. But the movie lacks a WOW ending. It dares to end on a more human note. That’s what makes it a special movie that’s not remembered.
    P.S. Isn’t Under the Volcano from ’84?

  21. It’s odd that I had never thought of LexG’s theory before, because it’s entirely correct. There are many many great movies that have fans, but which are never discussed purely because they were made by directors that don’t have a “cannon”. So much so that the bad films by directors that do (have a “cannon”) are remember far more than the classics by little known filmmakers.

  22. movieman says:

    Agree in principle with Lex’s argument, but “Kramer Vs. Kramer” is a much better (and more enduring) film than he’s giving it credit for. Bob Benton wrote and directed several humanist masterpieces throughout his distinguished career (“Places in the Heart” is probably his career-high), and “Kramer” still looks damn good 28 years later. Of course it’s not “Apocaypse Now,” but a case could be made that it’s every bit as personal a slice of auteur filmmaking as Coppola’s magnum opus. (Check out Richard Jameson’s take in Film Comment, spring 1980, “Style vs. ‘Style'”.) “Norma Rae,” “Absence of Malice” and “China Syndrome” are all perfectly respectable mainstream entertainments (“…And Justice for All” reeked even back in ’79), and I can definitely see “Michael Clayton” joining that group in a decade or so. Of course, I was never one of those crix that went apeshit over Gilroy’s movie in the first place.
    There were too many better films this fall (“Into the Wild,””Jesse James,” “I’m Not There,” No Country,” et al).
    Yes, 2007 will go down as one of the best movie years in recent history. My personal standard-bearers are 1974 (“Chinatown,” “Godfather II,” “The Conversation,” etc.) and ’77, although a case could be made that nearly every year that decade was an amazing year for film.

  23. Breedlove says:

    Thank you, Jimmy the Gent, for showing the KISS OF DEATH remake some love. I’ve always loved loved loved that movie. I’m not sure exactly why. You can see in it that Caruso clearly has the stuff to be a big movie star, he’s wonderful in it. I have no idea why he was basically thrown out of the movie business after two flops when a guy like Clooney came over from television and starred in about ten flops before finding his sea legs.

  24. Cadavra says:

    Because Caruso was–at least at the time–an asshole who, among other things, walked off a major TV series after one year, while Clooney is a sweetheart who, among other things, stuck with his show for the duration of his contract. It’s not always about the B.O.

  25. Jimmy the Gent says:

    I think NBC learned a valuable lesson from ABC by deciding to work with the stars of thir hit shows, not against them. If memory serves, ABC and people behind NYPD Blue weren’t very flexable in letting Caruso work away from the show. He might’ve stuck around if they gave him some breathing room.
    Also, ER is ready-made for characters to drop out of a couple of episodes and the audience won’t notice. The set-up ER made it possible for the writers to concentrate on several story lines at once. If you think about, ER set the template that ABC’s Lost has now perfected.

  26. I actually think 2001 beats 1999 for me. Mulholland Drive, Moulin Rouge, Lantana, Amelie, The Fellowship of the Ring, The Deep End, The Royal Tenenbaums, Ghost World, In the Mood for Love, Monster’s Inc, Donnie Darko, The Others, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Bridgit Jones’ Diary, Black Hawk Down, Gosford Park, Legally Blonde, Under the Sand, The Man Who Wasn’t There, The Diaries of Vaslav Nijinski and Series 7. And I could go on!

  27. bottle_rocket says:

    I think to get any perspective on this it’s best to think about the decades before you were born. The question is whether someone born in 1990 is likely to go back and see alot of these films from the 70s and 80s. A personal favorite from your childhood may cloud your judgment as to whether future generations will make the effort to see it and appreciate it.
    That said, I imagine classic films will come out of two camps: Popular movies that are repeated often on TV and movies with a pedigree (ie from an auteur or from a well-renowned source material like a famous play or classic novel.)
    I can look back at the sixties, a decade before I was born, and see the movies that are classics fit mostly into these groups. Auteurs like Antonioni, Godard, Kubrick will always be remembered by film buffs. Popular movies that continue to play on TV like “The Sound of Music” and “Mary Poppins” will also likely become immortal.
    Popular movies at the time like “Guns of Navarone” which may still hold up on current viewing will likely be forgotten because there is no recurring interest to check them out except as a curio.
    I think social films are the ones we forget the fastest as they often date poorly. “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” would be likely unwatchable by most seventeen year olds today. Even a more recent movie like “Mississippi Burning” won’t likely be talked about much in the future (if it is at all now).
    As for this year’s Golden Globe nominees for Best Picture, I personally only think “No Country for Old Men” is a guaranteed classic based on the auteur factor and quality of film.
    “Eastern Promises” on a lesser scale fits the bill as I suppose will “Sweeney Todd” as it is also from a well known play. I think it’s still too soon to say PT Anderson is an auteur (Would Bogdanovich be considered a great director? Back in the 70s he was.)
    “Atonement” I suspect will become a classic in the same way Shawshank and Usual Suspects have been crowned—by a popular consensus. “Michael Clayton” will go the way of “Guns of Navarone”. And “The Great Debaters” will be forgotten almost as fast as “Bobby” and those other social/political films.

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