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David Poland

By David Poland

Bagger Goes (A Little) Native

My favorite person to read during Oscar season is David Carr. Too tired of it all to press his nose up against the glass, he sees the dirt in the corner of the panes and keeps it all in perspective.
And then, his first two Hollywood missives of the season

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32 Responses to “Bagger Goes (A Little) Native”

  1. LexG says:

    Nobody’s going to push SNOW ANGELS for anything?

  2. movieman says:

    blown away by yet another fearless, mercurial Kate Winslet performance.
    Is there anything Winslet can’t do?? (And if it wasn’t for the “Revolutionary Road” factor, Weinstein would be–logically–promoting her in the lead category since she clearly has more screen time than anyone else in the cast.)
    While I have some major issues with the film–as I did “The Hours” and “Billy Elliott”–my overall impression was highly favorable.
    Glad to see that the Brothers Weinstein can still pull a rabbit out of their collective hat.

  3. movieman says:

    That previous posting should have begun:
    “Watched a screener of ‘The Reader’ the other nite and was…
    This keypad/typekey/whatever the fuck business is really getting out of hand, Dave….

  4. Blackcloud says:

    You’re talking about the other Winslet flick, right, not Revolutionary Road?

  5. movieman says:

    Yeah, Cloud.
    I was talking about Winslet’s performance in “The Reader.”
    The maddening movabletype fucked up the original transmission which is why I added the post script.
    (This is the third time I signed in just to send this damn posting.)

  6. Blackcloud says:

    I had to sign in about that many times to post my question. Yet this time no problems. Weird.

  7. LYT says:

    Has anyone seen Seven Pounds yet? I’m wondering if it will show before LAFCA voting deadlines.

  8. scooterzz says:

    lyt — the first screening i’m aware of is wednesday night….

  9. LexG says:

    Is it really a done deal in any way that “Seven Pounds” IS a contender? From what little they’ve shown in ads or given away in interviews, it’s giving off a MAJOR “Pay it Forward” vibe. And per the cryptic comments from the cast in a recent EW, it sounds like the secrecy has less to do with it being a stealth BP candidate, and more to do with not wanting to give away a rug-pulled-out twist ending.
    That said, Rosario Awesome and Freida Pinto should pair up to star in a remake of Van Damme’s “Double Impact.”

  10. I’m not having any problems with the commenting. Lovely.
    The trailer for Seven Pounds, which I saw in front of Australia, didn’t exactly make it look… well, like it made sense. or good, for that matter.

  11. LYT says:

    I actually liked the trailer the first time I saw it.
    Then I found out it was running in front of everything at every AMC, and six or seven viewings later I’m a little tired of it. But having liked Pursuit of Happyness, I’m hoping it’ll be decent.

  12. LexG says:


  13. Not David Bordwell says:

    Has no one noticed that the trailer makes Seven Pounds look like a remake of Magnificent Obsession? Please, someone who knows the films of Douglas Sirk respond. It’ll restore some of my confidence in this community.

  14. leahnz says:

    ‘blown away by yet another fearless, mercurial Kate Winslet performance.’
    good to know, movieman, i’m looking forward to the great kate x2 now (assuming we get ‘the reader’ any time soon)

  15. LexG says:

    CHRIST ALL YOU CRITICS have to kiss Winslet’s ass so hard; Jesus. She’s fine and all, but the way every paid film critic in the galaxy makes it, it’s like she invented fucking acting or something. There are MANY better, more watchable and hotter actresses. Like Winslet fine but sick of her RUNNING every awards shindig ever and crix falling all over themselves to lavish praise on her like she’s some UNDISCOVERED GEM.
    Also, I can GUARANTEE that REVOLUTIONARY WHATEVER is the kind of movie that has ZERO REWATCH WHATSOEVER. You’ll be watching DARK KNIGHT or even TRANSPORTER 3 on CINEMAX for the 400TH TIME before you EEEEEEEEVER throw in that BLURAY of REVOLUTIONARY ROAD ever again.

  16. yancyskancy says:

    Not DB: Good call on Magnificent Obsession, which I liked in spite of the spiritual mumbo jumbo (Sirk can redeem just about anything). I’ve only seen a TV spot for Seven Pounds, and I couldn’t quite get the gist of it, but at least there was no Otto Kruger type puffing a pipe and going on about selflessness. Maybe there is in the movie.
    Lex, you need to see Kate Winslet’s guest shot in Ricky Gervais’ Extras. Playing “herself,” she gives pointers on phone sex and does some priceless naughty pantomime behind a crew member’s back. Things like that add to her ownage factor.

  17. yancyskancy says:

    By the way, in that Winslet Extras episode, she talks about the Oscar potential of playing disabled characters, foreshadowing the controversial “retard” exchange in Tropic Thunder. Ben Stiller guest starred in the very next episode of Extras. Coincidence?
    Of course, the observation wasn’t original to Gervais either. It’s sort of “common wisdom.”

  18. LexG says:

    Just to be clear, I’m not so much anti-Winslet (which I’m not, especially since she showed her snizz-snazz in Jude and it OWNED), but anti-critics who have to suck up to her endlessly.
    She should do a Bruckheimer movie or get in fighting shape and play the hot chick in a Jason Statham movie, that would fucking rule, instead of some bullshit BAIT where she’s paired with some zitfaced kid like The Reader, WHICH I CAN GUARANTEE NOT ONE PERSON EVER WOULD WILLINGLY WATCH A SECOND TIME ON CABLE OR DVD.

  19. Yancy, she also talks about how she needs to make a WWII movie to win an Oscar. Oh the irony if she wins for The Reader.
    Lex, shut up. You’re being a fool.

  20. LexG says:

    Anybody willing to put money where their mouth is: Is THE READER anything you’ll be rewatching multiple times a year on DVD?
    When’s the last time you broke out that DVD of THE HOURS? CASE FUCKING CLOSED.
    Break out that SHINE DVD lately?
    What have you watched more in the last decade, CON AIR or BILLY ELLIOT?
    “THE READER” is not something YOU WILL EEEEEEVER WATCH again when it hits cable or DVD.

  21. movieman says:

    Hey, Lex- I think you’ll be pleased with Kate’s copious nude sex scenes in “The Reader.” They might even be hot enough for you to replay…frequently.
    They actually did a p/screening of “7 Pounds” here in Ohio a few weeks back (Big Willy came to Cleveburg for some food bank benefit, and the movie was shown as part of the shindig). Because of a scheduling screw-up–and because I was already seeing “Australia” and “4X” that same day–I skipped “7,” figuring I could just catch up with it at a later screening/promo. The few people I spoke to who did see it (mind you, these aren’t the brighest bulbs in the room) were generally blase and nobody was talking Oscar.
    I do hope that it’s more “Pursuit of Happyness” than “Pay it Forward,” though.
    Yeah, the Sirk-ian elements are definitely visible in the trailer.
    But can anyone really pull off that sort of thing anymore without arch quotation marks–e.g., Todd Haynes and “Far from Heaven”–to provide post-modern ironic distance?
    Kind of defeats the whole purpose.

  22. I’ve watched Billy Elliot at least five times and Con Air once. Shakespeare in Love also about five times (and it remains one of the better Best Picture winners of the last 20 years) and rewatched The Hours once. I don’t rewatch Shine because I don’t particularly care for it.
    There. Now perhaps wait until you come out of your grog strewn cave and have seen The Reader before running your ever-yammering mouth about it. Fuck, you’re annoying.

  23. Hallick says:

    “Look at ANY GIVEN YEAR in the 80s and 90s; ARE THE NOMINATED MOVIES, BY AND LARGE, the movies YOU rewatch with any regularity?”
    These have been:

  24. Not David Bordwell says:

    Thanks for backing me up, yancy and movieman. A few random thoughts:
    I love me some Douglas Sirk, but found Magnificent Obsession the hardest of his films to take — the Otto Kruger mumbo-jumbo is just deeply creepy (and dare I say it — Scientological? Is that why Will Smith was attracted to the project?).
    You raise a good point, movieman. Sirkian melodrama does not work if you can’t believe in the sincerity of the characters’ passions. Far From Heaven works more as a formal exercise that a real homage to Sirk, precisely because of Haynes’ ironic distance. Fassbinder is much more Sirkian that Haynes can ever hope to be — Haynes seems never to have left film school.
    Is melodrama even possible anymore? Is anyone even attempting it? The discussion of Australia recently has me wondering if this is what Baz Luhrmann is after, but I’ll have to see for myself.

  25. movieman says:

    Not David-
    Speaking of Fassbinder, have you seen the Sirk quote that opens the “Many Women of Fassbinder” doc included as an extra on the “Merchant of Four Seasons” dvd?
    I always knew that Sirk was a huge influence on Fassbinder, but I didn’t know they were actually friends…in a student/mentor sort of way.
    While Fassbinder appropriated many Sirk-ian tropes throughout his career, you always felt that he believed (deeply, truly, madly) in all the roiling Sirk melodrama; that it wasn’t just an outre fashion statement the way it was for Haynes in “FFH.”

  26. movieman says:

    As for “Australia:” yes, Hollywood melodrama is just one of the many wells Baz dips into…along with the western, the war film, magic realism, ad nauseam.

  27. martin says:

    It’s not a terrible film, I think it’s a product of overinflated expectations. For his first real dramatic epic, I think Baz did a nice job. Is it a classic? I don’t think so, but that’s one of those things that really is determined years from now anyway. It will at least break even financially and probably get Oscar noms in at least the production design and tech categories. Certainly not the bomb of the season that some would like to characterize it as.

  28. yancyskancy says:

    I think Haynes pulls off some neat sleight-of-hand in Far from Heaven. His “beneath the surface” theme foregrounds the hot button issues (homosexuality, racism) but the real story is Cathy’s lack of options. Her husband and the gardener at least have communities outside the white, straight mainstream that will accept and support them. But Cathy ultimately has nowhere to go, even though she’s willing to accept a compromised life with either of the men.
    It’s sad really, and it’s perfectly relevant to the era depicted, in the same way that Sirk’s melodramas tweaked contemporary social conventions while in the guise of soap opera.
    Okay, class dimissed. Now to further destroy my cred with Lex, I’ll just say that I’ve seen Shakespeare in Love 3 times and would watch it again in a heartbeat over Con Air. The Hours does blow though.

  29. movieman says:

    As mentioned earlier, “The Hours” is another Daldry film that I had issues with. It wasn’t until the second viewing that I found an entry point into the movie, and that was the little boy–the one who grows up to become Ed Harris–who Julianne Moore’s character abandons to “find herself.” That was an exceptional kid performance, and the scene where the boy chases after the car as his Mommy drives off (forever?) is utterly wrenching. I also liked the Kidman/Dillane story arc, but Streep’s uber-mannered performance, Dane’s shocking ineptitude and the whole “Noble AIDS Victim” tone of that entire section were major turn-offs.
    Only seen “Shakespeare in Love” once. I think it was Joseph Fiennes (England’s answer to Freddie Prinze. Jr) who kept me from going back for another taste. Happy to see that he’s all but vanished from the radar screen.
    I like “Far From Heaven” in an objet d’art sort of way, but Not David is right about it having an overly studied, nearly textbook feel that gets in the way of it provoking any genuine emotions.
    “Australia” isn’t an “epic disaster” by any stretch. (“Four Christmases” is the only real disaster that opened this weekend, no matter what the box-office grosses may indicate.)
    Nor is “Australia” very good. Only hardcore Baz fetishists (and Armond White-style contrarians) will be able to make a case for it being some sort of unfairly maligned masterpiece down the road.
    ….maybe if he’d made it a musical and had Hugh and Nic lip-sync the Queen songbook…

  30. bmcintire says:

    Eastwood seems mired in melodrama lately (MILLION DOLLAR BABY, CHANGELING and from the looks of it GRAN TORINO).
    I’ve seen THE HOURS twice, THE ENGLISH PATIENT nearly a dozen times and LA CONFIDENTIAL probably just as many. There is nothing that will get me to change the channel quicker than a Bruckheimer or Bay piece of shit like CON AIR, ARMAGEDDON, PEARL HARBOR, NATIONAL TREASURE, GONE IN SIXTY SECONDS, COYOTE UGLY, BAD BOYS, etc.
    And Lex, seriously, if you’re that impressed with squack (see: Kate Winslet’s in JUDE of all things), there’s this thing out there called pornography. You should give it a whirl. And you have a MUCH better chance of landing some tail in that particular gene pool than you do of, say, asking Rosario Awesome out for a date.

  31. LexG says:

    Porn is fucking wack.
    No class at all.
    The Hours blows.

  32. “No class at all” speaks volumes, Lex.
    Movieman, I’m not going to be hailing it as a masterpiece now or in the future (or, at least, I don’t see myself doing so) but I will say that it’s a very good movie and that it has more to like than so many other movies I’m supposed to think are flawlessly made and are hailed as masterpieces themselves.

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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.”
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“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