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Kim Voynar

By Kim Voynar


There are some good independent films in theaters right now that I want to talk about, all of which are highly recommended.
First up, Steve McQueen’s Hunger, about Irish Republican Army hunger striker Bobby Sands. This film blew me away when I saw it at Cannes last year, and I really felt it should have won the Un Certain Regard category over Tulpan. The direction by Steve McQueen, making his theatrical directorial debut, is taut and remarkably assured, and the dramatic tension in the film kept me on the edge of my seat. Michael Fassbender’s performance as Bobby Sands is powerful, and while the film has been criticized in some quarters for only showing one side of the long-standing conflict that led to Sands and the other IRA members being in prison to begin with, Hunger isn’t an historical account about the IRA, it’s specifically about the human rights issues around how the prisoners were treated at that time.

Also in theaters right now is Tokyo Sonata, Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s beautiful film about a Japanese family. The patriarch of the family has lost his job and, ashamed to tell his family what happened, continues to leave the house every day as if he’s going to the office. Meanwhile, his young son has a gift for music, but his father has forbidden him to take piano lessons; the boy uses his lunch money to secretly pay for piano lessons and pursue his dream. Tokyo Sonata is gorgeously shot, and it’s great storytelling that takes an ordinary family and examines it in an extraordinary way. This was another of my favorite films from Cannes last year — completely unexpected, subtle filmmaking from a director better known for the horror genre (Pulse, Retribution, Loft).
Christine Jeff’s Sunshine Cleaning, starring Emily Blunt and Amy Adams, is also still in theaters, and is an enjoyable film about two sisters who start a business cleaning up crime scenes. Underneath that (admittedly interesting) conceit, though, it’s really about how Rose (Adams), once the cream of the high school crop, the perky, cute head cheerleader who dated the star quarterback, has to come to terms with a post-high school life in which she cleans the houses of richer people — including former classmates — and is having an affair with her high school boyfriend, who’s long since been married to another classmate. It’s also about the complicated relationship between Rose and her younger sister Norah (Blunt), who Rose has had to care for since their mother’s death when they were very young, and both sisters relationship with their father. This film looks to me to have been signficantly tightened up since I first saw it at Sundance a couple years ago, and it’s well worth catching.
Jan Troell’s Everlasting Moments is still in theaters, and I’d strongly suggest seeing it on a big screen, the better to appreciate the gorgeous cinematography. The story is about Maria Larsson, a turn-of-the century woman struggling to maintain a marriage to an alcoholic, abusive and philandering husband while raising a pack of children. Maria wins a camera in a lottery, and when she finds she has a talent for photography, she finds a measure of freedom in her creative pursuits that makes her difficult life more tolerable.
And lastly, while I’ve still not seen it myself, Sin Nombre is also out, and I’ve heard good things about it from many people whose opinions on cinema I respect. It’s great that there are so many solid independent films in theaters right now … catch them while you can.

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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