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David Poland

By David Poland

BYOB – Weekdays

Still Bermuda-ing…
I keep thinking I will sit down and write an opus, but the Bermuda International Film Festival, which is low on star power but big on international filmmakers this year, has kept me on the run – okay… walk, in shorts – pretty much all day, from films to wine parties to Dark & Stormies… hey, someone’s gotta do it.
So… some space for you…

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33 Responses to “BYOB – Weekdays”

  1. MarkVH says:

    Dude, Dark & Stormies? Rum Swizzles are where it’s at.
    Also, I hate you.

  2. Stella's Boy says:

    Due to the realities of having a small child, most of my film viewing is at home these days. Last week I finally managed to see 300. I sort of feel like I’m on crazy pills because I do not understand what all the fuss was about. It has such a been there, done that feel to it. I have seen battle scenes like that before, more than once, and done much better. It’s incredibly repetitive. Fight, rest, fight, rest, fight, rest. The macho blathering of the narrator and Butler get old very fast and is quite laughable at times. Visually, I didn’t find it all that interesting either. It’s a dull and stale movie to sit through, and the heaps of praise is confounding.

  3. Hopscotch says:

    Speaking of a cute movie like 300 (joke),
    I did go see “The Hammer” this weekend at the Sunset 5 in West Hollywood, and it’s a very enjoyable sports movie / romantic comedy.
    Am I a fan of Adam Carolla? Yes. Did that effect my judgement on the movie? Probably. Was my date a fan of the Ace Man? Hell no she says, I had to drag her. She like it? Absolutely. Very enjoyable small movie and you should all check it out.

  4. LexG says:

    I want to see THE HAMMER. Looks fun.
    What’s with the Instantly Disappearing Indie Movie? Last few weeks, SNOW ANGELS, PARANOID PARK, and MARRIED LIFE all opened to good reviews yet already seem to be relegated to once-daily showings at second-run arthouses… at the very least, they don’t seem to be “catching on.” What’s up with that? Too many indies vying for too few niche screens? Glum subject matter turning audiences away?

  5. movieman says:

    Lex- The grim subject matter of “Snow Angels” and “Paranoid Park” are probably major contributors to their b.o. demise. But the glut of product–mainstream and indie–is surely adding to their woes.
    A wonderfully enjoyable (and very accessible) “small” film like “Married Life”–with its splendid and hardly unfamiliar cast–should be getting ready to crossover to multiplexes at this point. Instead, it’s quietly, and quickly, dying on the arthouse vine.
    Sad, very sad.
    Speaking of indies that died on the vine, I finally caught up with Richard Kelly’s “Southland Tales” this weekend and am still reeling.
    Anyone who doesn’t dig “ST” doesn’t like movies; period.
    Sure, it’s got its share of problems (a little more narrative clarity wouldn’t have hurt), but I’m completely in awe of Kelly’s level of ambition–and achievement.
    I can’t believe how rudely this was dismissed by critics (and audiences) last fall. Apparently most American film critics want the same old/same old pabulum just like mainstream moviegoers.

  6. jeffmcm says:

    I agree with you, Movieman. There must have been some mainstream critic who saw past the mess to the strong emotions and provocative insights underneath, right?

  7. movieman says:

    None that I read, Mcm.
    The only crix who seemed to get “it” were Manohla Dargis in the NY Times and the V/Voice’s Jim Hoberman. But I’d hardly consider either one of those critics “mainstream.” (And Gleiberman gave it a polite, if ultimately dismissive “B MINUS” grade in EW.)
    You say “mess;” I say “mosaic,” lol.

  8. LexG says:

    Do I even need to say what I think Gellar does in Southland Tales?
    OK, I will anyway. She OWNS YOUR ASS.
    Actually, Stifler was surprisingly moving in it, The Rock is always game, and Lovitz was a surprisingly menacing villain.

  9. LexG says:

    I used “surprisingly” twice in one sentence. What a douche.
    Dargis was also one of the few critics to fully appreciate the INCREDIBLE FUCKING GENIUS of the BEST MOVIE OF THE 00s, “Domino.”
    Which is kind of the same movie as “Southland Tales,” except more awesome and without as much wack campy-woman comedy.

  10. jeffmcm says:

    Lex, I’d be really interested to read your thoughts as to why Domino isn’t a total waste of time, but only if you can avoid the words ‘OWN’, ‘awesome’ and ‘boner’.

  11. LexG says:

    Dargis’ RAVE of “Domino.”
    These aren’t necessarily my same reasons for regarding it so highly, but figured someone might enjoy…

  12. SOUTHLAND TALES is as big if not a bigger P.O.S. than it was rumored to have been. I tried to get through it THREE TIMES last week/this weekend….no could do.
    It made me ANGRY that I like movies so much because this arrogant, semi-talented douchebag Richard Kelly was given free reign to make a movie and came up with SOUTHLAND TALES. There were some cool shots…the Timberlake musical number is AMAZING…but overall it seemed like a bratty kid saying “if you don’t get this, you’re just dumb.”
    The comic books leading up to the film alerted me to the scope of arrogant narcissism Kelly had, but it barely prepared me for the mess of a film he put out. I would be all for seeing a directors cut but I’m also all for Kelly getting the same kind of shit Shyamalan got/gets for his book and the response to LADY IN THE WATER. Both men need an editor (script and film) that they will listen to.

  13. jeffmcm says:

    Here’s hoping Manohla didn’t mention getting a boner herself, thanks.

  14. Noah says:

    I admire the intentions of Southland Tales, but good intentions do not make a good movie. I think my main issue was that it was just clumsy filmmaking, especially on the screenwriting side. There are several repeated phrases that aren’t nearly as funny or poignant as Kelly wants them to be (I’m thinking of “This is how the world ends, not with a whimper but a bang,” and the irreverent “Pimps don’t commit suicide.”).
    The shame of it all is that I loved Donnie Darko and believe that Kelly is a very talented filmmaker, but in his first picture he was able to at least focus on the emotional complexities of impeding adulthood while the strange events swirl around Donnie. In Southland Tales, not only are the main characters strange but everything on the periphery is weird. I think it results in a lot of misses, but there are occasional hits (like the oft-mentioned Timberlake number as well as the scene where the woman threatens to commit suicide if the Rock doesn’t allow her to blow him).
    Anyway, it’s not a masterpiece by any means and it should be admired for it’s audacity. I fear that revisionist historians will look at this film in ten years with the same kind eye that they now give to Heaven’s Gate; another film that should be admired, but is impossible to like.
    Okay, that was way more than I intended to write. It’s my birthday today, yay!

  15. leahnz says:

    hippy bird egg, noah. hope you need a kick-ass hangover cure tomorrow.
    how about this for the word of the day: unmitigated. great word. i plan to use it several times.

  16. Chucky in Jersey says:

    “Snow Angels” expanded to Philadelphia this week. I saw it in a South Jersey arthouse and yes, it was depressing.
    Good movies not going wider? Think Sony Pictures Classics. “The Counterfeiters” has the foreign-language Oscar yet SPC won’t put it into any megaplexes. “Married Life” expanded to NYC suburbs this week yet SPC won’t put it into any megaplexes.

  17. movieman says:

    FYI: “Donnie Darko” is my favorite American movie of the decade (so far anyway).
    Nope, “Southland Tales” isn’t in the same league–I never said that it was.
    But it’s a pretty safe bet that it will become a “love-it-or-hate-it” cult film for the ages.
    And I still think that “Heaven’s Gate” is a lumbering, pretentious bore…and that’s from someone who actually attended the first performance on opening day at NYC’s Cinema 1 in November 1980. (Cimino’s “Year of the Dragon” is some kind of crackpot masterpiece, though.)
    P.S.= Did I also mention that I’ve always thought DePalma’s “Bonfire of the Vanities” was unfairly maligned, too?
    Maybe there’s just something in my nature that responds to auteurist trainwrecks in all of their messy, self-indulgent, yet teeming-with-life-and-reckless-ambition ersatz-splendor.

  18. LexG says:

    Movieman, how about Cimino’s THE SICILIAN? I used to think that was at least mildly underrated, but then I haven’t seen it in 20 years… when I was 15 and probably liked everything.
    YOTD isn’t quite as awesome as I always remembered it, though I’d love to know what they were going for with Rourke’s WHITE HAIR and the casting of his middle-aged housewife… er, wife, who looked more like his mom (and in fact played Tom Cruise’s mom not four years later.)
    Like, is Rourke SUPPOSED to be 57 years old in that movie?

  19. LexG says:

    Oh, and in terms of production design, scope, cast, and ambition, HEAVEN’S GATE is *amazing.* I take a look at it every few years, and it’s always sort of a slog to get through, but I’m always at least partially in awe of it.
    Has Cimino’s THE SUNCHASER entirely disappeared? Odd movie.

  20. Happy BDay, Noah…and I agree with your SOUTHLAND TALES comments.
    I should admit I harbor a teency grudge against Kelly after his touring with DONNIE DARKO. I heard at least 4 firsthand accounts of how he would dismiss audience members as dumb if they missed something (or, pointed out a logic or plot hole) in DONNIE DARKO. He would basically ridicule them and I feel his arrogance has spilled over onto all of SOUTHLAND TALES.
    I too admire the audacity and like I said, maybe the directors cut would really be spectacular (I’d love to see it released) but as is…..a monster misfire.
    I asked before as as well…why doesn’t Kelly catch the flak Shyamalan does for his post “Sixth Sense” and “Unbreakable” films?

  21. jeffmcm says:

    Happy birthday, Noah.
    Don, I think part of the difference has to be that Kelly hasn’t been monstrously financially successful, and I don’t really feel like Southland Tales qualifies as an ego trip in the same way that Lady in the Water did. You can call it bad art and point to an inability to communicate with his audience, but I don’t think it’s nearly as annoying.

  22. movieman says:

    Lex- The weirdnesses (is that a word?) inherent in “Dragon” are part of its wackjob genius. Rourke’s very strange white hair is just one of many, uh, eccentricities I love about the movie.
    And I love it in a way I could never ever love “Heaven’s Gate.”
    Yeah, it’s technically dazzling (besides the art direction/production design, there’s Vilmos Zsigmond’s amazing cinematography), but the damn thing is just so pokey and dramatically turgid.
    I do like “Sunchaser” quite a bit (an underrated Woody Harrelson performance and typically strong work from the great Jon Seda who was fantastic in “I Like It Like That” and did yeoman work as a series regular on NBC’s late, great “Homicide” before disappearing into the ether), but never warmed up to “The Sicilian.” I could never get over the egregious miscasting of Christopher (“Christophe” to all my fellow Franchophiles).
    Lambert is a hoot in “Southland Tales,” though–even if I initially confused him with Peter Stormare (the same scary hair and goofy accent).
    Three final words for all you “ST” dissers out there: “The Big Lebowski.” I don’t understand how anyone who loves the Coen Bros. equally wiggy L.A. fantasia can justify trashing Kelly’s movie.
    P.P.S.= And did I mention “At Long Last Love” yet? Sheer and utter magic…truly one of the most criminally underappreciated films of all time. Anyone who thinks that Burt, Cybill, et al sounded any worse singing in Bogdanovich’s minor masterpiece than Zeta-Jones, Gere, Zelwgger and Reilly did in “Chicago” needs to have their hearing aid readjusted.

  23. bmcintire says:

    Don, my guess is that Kelly has only a second picture to ridicule/admire/dissect, so there is at least hope of recovery. Shyamalan’s have each gotten progressively worse. I finally gave LADY IN THE WATER a try via Netflix two weekends ago and simply could not get past the first hour. A truly, truly horrible film-watching experience. I fear for the horribly-titled THE HAPPENING, because the premise seems like it could be cool, but I had the same feelings about SIGNS before seeing it.

  24. While I don’t think LADY IN THE WATER is all the terrific, it’s not NEARLY “that bad” of a movie. I’d never be as bold as to flt out call you out, bmc but you must have read alot of the backlash that hit Night with LADY IN THE WATER and that colored your perception and caused you to wait over what, a year and a half to see the film? Not trying to start a fight…just saying.
    I think LADY IN THE WATER was fine and reminded me of those fantasy films you’d see as a kid (well, when I was a kid) like LADYHAWKE or something. I dunno…

  25. jeffmcm says:

    Aside from the decent music and cinematography, and Giamatti’s excellent performance, I think it is that bad. 3/10.
    If Southland Tales had gotten a 3000-screen release and a major publicity push – in other words, if people had actually seen it – we’d be hearing a lot more complaining about it.

  26. Noah says:

    Thanks for the birthday wishes, guys, much appreciated.
    I think Lady in the Water is by far the more indulgent film when compared to Southland Tales. After all, in that film M. Night plays a writer whose work is supposed to change the world. I mean, if he didn’t want himself to come across as arrogant, then he should have cast someone else in the role. I don’t quite know what to make of Bryce Dallas Howard because she was almost unwatchable in that film and the Village, but I thought she was quite good in Manderlay.
    I do think that with certain movies from directors that have done brilliant work in the past, we see things through rose-colored glasses. I feel Southland Tales might be one of those films, where as an audience we all know how capable Kelly is of transcendent work and how intelligent he is, that we’re willing to give him the benefit of the doubt; similar to Cimino and Heaven’s Gate (incidentally, I find The Sunchaser to be quite an interesting and meandering experiment).

  27. LexG says:

    Why? Because MARK WAHLBERG fucking OWNS THE WORLD’S ASS.
    I sort of like LADY IN THE WATER, though it would’ve OWNED with a more smokingly sexy leading lady, like Kate Bosworth running around all wet the whole time, or Jessica Alba.
    Cimino’s DESPERATE HOURS is underrated. Hell, almost every Cimino is at least somewhat underrated. (See also, THUNDERBOLT AND LIGHTFOOT.)

  28. leahnz says:

    i love ‘thunderbolt and lightfoot’, that look on jeff b’s face as he dies is pure poetry. movieman, i haven’t seen ‘southland tales’ – i don’t think it’s been here yet – but to compare it the ‘the big l’, a film of such singular humour and one in which jeff b gives what i consider to be one of the most sublime performances ever to be put onto celluloid, is a huge call. i’m going to see southland tales based solely on that comparison, so i better not have to hunt you down

  29. LexG says:

    Inspired by this conversion, (re)watching bits and pieces of SOUTHLAND TALES on DVD here for the first time since theaters…
    Damn, the awesome parts of this movie really do OWN. Some of it is so moving and strange and insane and inspired… I wish the whole thing were so good… I guess it’s not… but when this thing’s on, it’s ON…

  30. Didn’t Manhola Dargis give Southland Tales a rave? ST is out direct-to-DVD here in a week or so so I can’t wait to finally catch up with it, but Domino? On one hand it’s a total F-worthy film, and on the other hand it’s a hoot.
    “The grim subject matter of “Snow Angels” and “Paranoid Park” are probably major contributors to their b.o. demise.”
    While I can’t say anything for Snow Angels, Paranoid Park isn’t anywhere near as depressing as some people make it out to be. I really liked it, actually. Van Sant’s best screenplay in a long time (absolutely 100% spot on teen dialogue) and that Gabe Nevins kid has a fascinating face to watch. Have you seen the foreign trailer that’s on YouTube? Makes it out to be some thriller with big loud music and the like. Absolutely ridiculous.

  31. movieman says:

    Another L.A. movie that I love dearly (and which has been accused of being an “auteurist folly” like “Southland Tales” and “The Big Lebowski”) is John Landis’ “Into the Night.”
    Along with “An American Werewolf in London”–and maybe “Animal House”–this could be Landis’ masterpiece.
    And for all you horndogs out there, “Night” also features what I’m pretty sure is Michelle Pfeiffer’s one and only nude scene.
    You really like Cimino’s “Desperate Hours” remake, Lex? Like “The Sicilian” and “Heaven’s Gate,” that’s another Cimino movie that quite did it for me.
    A case could be made, however, that Woody Harrelson is even better in Cimino’s “Sunchaser” than he was in “The People Vs. Larry Flynt” (released the same year and which earned him an Oscar nomination).
    I’ve got to admit that the “Southland” DVD was a bit of a disappointment. I would have killed for a Kelly commentary track–and the (longer) Cannes version for comparison’s sake alongside the theatrical release print. Or at the very least, Kelly might have included the scenes that were deleted after the Cannes premiere.

  32. LexG says:

    Is there any way 88 MINUTES isn’t going to OWN MY ASS?
    OWNAGE. They should just cancel all the other movies that weekend and for the entire next month.

  33. leahnz says:

    i’m not sure if this is where to ask, but does anyone have information about the release date in the states for ‘surveillance’? i’m really looking forward to that one (i was wondering what had happened to juia ormond, ‘smilla’s feeling for snow’ is my favourite of hers, and i’ll take bill pullman any day of the week). i can’t wait to see what the spawn of david can produce, it looks like my cup of tea, but i can’t find any info past ‘2008’ (i am a bit of a techno-tard)

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