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David Poland

By David Poland

IDocFestAmsterdam – Day Two

The day is just beginning, but I am already pleased to be able to read Baz Bambigoye in print in the Daily Mail (he has a shot of Kate Hudson in Nine that still looks like used goods)… and many of the other Brit papers. The obsession with the UK version of Cloris Leachman is starting to slow, though the older gent who quit is now causing the BBC to refund the telephone expenses of all who voted for him this last week.
Sad to see that Clive Barnes passed. I was not really in sync with Barnes, but a great old pro who will be missed.
The last two movies last night were, again, quite good. Epperlein & Tucker’s Bulletproof Salesman is more subtle than either of their earlier films. The film about an German armored car salesman/manufacturer traces the path of the Iraq War and in his very specific field, the need to evolve from bulletproof to bombproof. Tucker, whose voice I recognize, though he is not in the film as a character, is along for the ride, literally. What’s it like to be in a car with people shooting automatics at you? We now know, thanks to Mike. This husband/wife team continues to do fascinating work, outside the margins. Their first film, Gunner Palace, was the first of its kind. But since then, their interest in the kinks of the individuals who live in the war zone has been completely compelling.
This was followed by Citizen Havel, which was a perfect capper to both the Iraq film and War Room Redux. The film was very much in that Maysles/Hegedus/Pennebaker style of being a fly on the wall… only here, instead of documenting the supporting cast, the center of this film is the head of state. Keeping it lively is Havel’s personality – cheerful, goofy, vain, direct, repetitive, and undistracted by his own flaws.
This is the kind of film that ages with you… more layers as you think about it more… because it is not directly about his story so much as it is about a man in that very unique position. When he waffles on issues, he seems like every guy at a kitchen table trying to hash something out. When he makes the same joke about a foreign head of state for the fourth time, it is still charming because he is still selling the joke as well as telling us something he thinks is profound. When he prepares to have photos taken, he is like any family leader at a Sears Photo Studio, wondering if he looks good in that shirt.
If there turned out to be a theme for the day, it was the breaking down (and building) of mythologies. High profile people and stories from perspectives that were unexpected.
The only oddball remains the audition piece from Brazil, which, as I think about it, has elements of Spike Lee’s Girl 8… which also left me wondering.
On to the day… there seems to be some sun up in the sky… really enjoying this town… even having not gone to visit the Red Light District yet… can you come here and not? interestingly, another huge buzz story in the UK is about new efforts to penalize men who go to legal prostitutes who turn out to be human trafficked “slaves.” The issue is controversial, even there, with other women’s issues not getting as much buzz, though many feel they should. But it does seem like people are waking up to the shockingly large issue of women being trafficked around the globe.

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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