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Mike Wilmington

By Mike Wilmington

Wilmington on DVDs: X-Men Origins: Wolverine, That Hamilton Woman, O’Horten and more…

X-Men Origins: Wolverine (Two-and-a-Half Stars)
U. S.; Gavin Hood (2009)

The question of the day, in a world beset with war, pandemics, economic collapse, crazed cable news-slingers and other problems up the wazoo: Where did Wolverine — the sullen, steel-taloned superhero of the X-Men gang played by Hugh Jackman — come up with his retractable claws, his superpowers and his surly disposition?

Where indeed? If you’ve been pondering this puzzle, and don’t have a big back file of X-Men mags to help solve the mystery, this Marvel Comics movie spectacular should fill in some of the blanks. It’s big, fast, jazzy-snazzy and full of violence — and it has lots of shots of Logan/Wolverine talons shooting in and out of his hands and slashing into bad guys.

It also has some ferocious villains — topped by Liev Schreiber as Wolverine’s equally bad-tempered and dangerous bro‘, Victor Creed/Sabretooth, and Danny Huston as their nefarious military scoundrel/boss commander Stryker. (Sgt. John Wayne’s last name in Sands of Iwo Jima, as you’ll remember.) Wolverine shows the horrifically-equipped brothers fleeing polite society and their unlucky family during the 19th century, then somehow battling their way through the Civil War, World Wars I and II and Vietnam, and eventually (post-Vietnam) falling into the clutches of Stryker and his elite commando/killer squad, Team X. Their battle buddies include gabby “perfect” sword-slinger Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds), blast ‘em blobbo Fred Dukes (Kevin Durand) and constantly vanishing and reappearing teleporter John Wraith (Wil.I.Am).

Stryker may be a demanding commander, yet they’re a crack team, brothers in arms with weapons sometimes shooting out of their arms. Still, after one massacre too many, Logan has had it. He quits the bunch, to Victor’s extreme displeasure, and high-tails it for Canada, the life of a carefree lumberjack, and connubial bliss with fetching schoolmarm Kayla Silverfox (Lynn Collins). This actionless idyll is suddenly broken by the reappearance of Stryker — who is holed up at Three Mile Island of nuclear accident ill fame, hatching all kinds of evil schemes. One of them: an insane but obviously lucrative plan to make Logan an even deadlier, sharper, better equipped Wolverine. That he does, before Logan escapes again, this time even angrier and in the nude.

Mayhem ensues, beginning with the slaughter of a nice homey old couple whose only mistake was to show up in the wrong movie –and climaxing in a Three Mile Island style duel-to-the-death.

Jackman, the Australian music/action/dramatic star and this year’s surprise hit Oscar Show host, is a gifted lead with a great glower and squint. From some angles, he looks like a younger Clint Eastwood and he sounds a bit like the younger Mel Gibson. And, as previous X-Men movies, and last year‘s Baz Luhrmann Down Under epic Australia have demonstrated, Jackman can really hold the screen. Huston and Schreiber are good, nasty, let’s-hear-it-for-Evil heavies. Also, South African-born filmmaker Gavin Hood, who made the excellent Tsotsi, has a gift for both action and psychology and a flashy visual style. Technically and technologically, on its own terms, Hood’s new assignment, this roaring, slashing big-studio big-action adventure-sci-fi-fantasy, has a lot going for it.

But I got a little tired of Wolverine, despite an okay script by David Benioff and Skip Woods. It certainly delivers the goods, but these goods have been delivered all too many times before. The movie could use something different or special, and I don’t mean heavy metal talons coming out of Wolverine‘s ears and bum. Comic book movies, especially Marvel or DC ones, can afford to throw us different curves. They can give us the grand noir style of The Dark Knight, the psycho-adventure of Spider-Man, the wit and human feeling of “Iron Man” or the sweep of the first two X-Men. Instead, Wolverine keeps retracting its nails and repackaging the same old super-spectacle, the same old Biff! Bam! Crash! Zowie!

Am I being too finicky? Perhaps. But Hood, Benioff, Jackman, Schreiber and Huston — and Marvel — have more strings to their bows and more talons in their quiver than this heavy scratcher. Besides, having retractable super claws isn’t exactly my favorite fantasy — unless there‘s a manicure scene.



That Hamilton Woman (Four Stars)
U.K.; Alexander Korda, 1941 (Criterion)

Few historical period dramas carry a greater romantic charge than Alexander Korda’s elegant, flag-waving, deeply tragic and plushly erotic bio film on England’s iconic naval hero Lord Horatio Nelson (who whipped Napoleon at sea repeatedly) and his legendarily beautiful mistress, Lady Emma Hamilton — as portrayed by one of the screen‘s most dazzlingly romantic and beautiful couples, Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh.

It’s an addictive film. Winston Churchill saw it over 80 times, and Andrew Sarris over a hundred — and one can see why here in Criterion’s splendidly restored new edition. The sets, by Alex’s brilliant painter-designer brother, Vincent Korda, are lush, the sea battles (done in a tank with miniatures) are exciting, the cast is Brit-impeccable.

But towering above all the film’s other high attractions is the magnificently arousing joint appearance of the still youthful and ultras-glamorous Olivier and Leigh, who were never more in love on screen, never more electrically conjoined, and never, never hotter, than they were here. Leigh (who’s billed first, because of her Gone With the Wind mega-stardom) plays an all-conquering saucy, Scarlett-style flirt, who’s had to barter herself in youth to the urbane and cynical British ambassador to the Kingdom of Naples, Lord Hamilton (Alan Mowbray), and later falls for his guest Nelson on sight.

Nelson, a gloomy idealist and master sailor-warrior undermined by overwhelming passion, falls harder. And as the flamingly ardent couple defy British society and propriety, Nelson‘s starchy wife (Gladys Cooper), and seemingly all of England itself, to carry on their dangerous love affair — the nemesis Napoleon keeps plunging France and England into conflict after conflict.

This fiery love and war story is also steeped in melancholy. The romance of Emma and Horatio is told in flashback, book-ended by shadowy, noirish scenes of Emma’s tragic destiny, here shown as an eternally bereaved alcoholic street doxy who has only her memories left. (This sorry fate owes more to the Production Code than strict history, but it plays beautifully.) Olivier’s sad, brooding, dark performance as Nelson — against Leigh‘s impish, gorgeous gaiety as Emma — coaxes tears and rapture as well.

It’s a great-looking film in other ways too. Vincent Korda’s sets of aristocratic haunts, modeled on period paintings (including the famous tableau of Nelson’s dying moments), surround this great, fascinating screen couple with backdrops fit for the stage and screen monarchs they were — and are.

That Hamilton Woman (aka “Lady Hamilton” in Britain) is blatant wartime propaganda. (Churchill had requested his friend Alex to make it as a wartime spirit-raiser for England and a call to arms for her American allies-to-be). But it’s the kind of move so lush, so well-done, so classy, that it gives propaganda a good name.

The extras include an excellent interview with Vincent Korda‘s writer son Michael, author of the Korda family biography Charmed Lives, in which he reveals that the real-life Emma was fat and Lord Horatio was short), a 1941 radio promo-spot, the theatrical trailer, a commentary by Ian Christie, and a booklet with a fine, feeling essay by Molly Haskell — but not sadly, the notable appreciation by Haskell’s husband Andrew Sarris, in which he revealed his hopeless “Lady Hamilton” addiction.



O’Horten (Three Stars)
Norway/Germany/France; Bent Hamer, 2008

Bent Hamer, whose dryly witty, deadpan Norwegian movie Kitchen Stories mixed wistful comedy with bizarre oddball drama, mines that droll vein again in the Keatonesque, Tatiesque and even slightly Kaurismakiesque and Bergmanesque O’Horten. which is all about a 67-year-old train engineer named Odd (last name Horten), played by Baard (or Bard) Owe. Odd retires after 40 years, and finds his hitherto tightly scheduled life spinning off into a chaos of missed dates, unexpected deaths and, well, odd Oslo encounters – most notably with a hard-drinking, eloquent and mysterious night wanderer named Trygve (Espen Skjonberg), who likes to chat about African tribal weapons and drive cars blind.

This is a subtler comedy than most American audience are used to, even though it has nudity, sex and toilet gags of its own. It’s also a perfect Un Certain Regard Cannes Festival film: smart, off trail, neatly crafted and full of atmosphere — with fine performances by the somber Owe and the gabby Skjonberg. Like Kitchen Stories, its sad and funny, dark and light. So, of course, is life. (In Norwegian, with English subtitles.)



Pierrot le Fou (Four Stars)
France; Jean-Luc Godard, 1965 (Criterion)

The wildly experimental Pierrot le Fou, a 1965 French New Wave gem by the great rebel Jean-Luc-Godard, is based on Lionel White’s American hard-boiled novel, Obsession. But — like those earlier Godard fusions of pulp and poetry, Bande a Part and Breathless, it leaves its source far behind. In a way, it’s the quintessential nouvelle vague picture and an ultimate love-on-the-run tale, with moody hard guy Jean-Paul Belmondo and Godard’s wayward muse Anna Karina on a doomward race in the South of France. But it’s also a meditation on Vietnam-era France and its ties to the U.S., on sexual politics and political sex, and, of course, on cinema itself. (Pierrot is the move where Sam Fuller appears to growl out Godard’s line about what the movies are — with his own gruff final addition “Emotion!”)

Emotion is what Godard gives us in Pierrot: wistful, scary, impudent, drenched with longing and cinephilia. Back in the ‘60s and ‘70s. Pierrot le Fou was a required text for radical movie buffs. It still should be. In French, with English subtitles. Many extras.



Paul Newman: The Tribute Collection (Four Stars)
U.S.; Various Directors, 1958-1982 (20th Century Fox)

Paul Newman was the Great Good Guy of American movies. He was a film-star prince of middle America, a heartbreaker with a brain, an athlete with a soul.

He became a movie star in the mid-’50s, by the time he was 30, and at first he seemed most famous for his good looks — for that Grecian profile, that middleweight‘s body and those legendary blue eyes, as well as the flip. sardonic wisecracks that could issue somewhat surprisingly from his chiseled lips.

But the Newman movie acting (and directing) career that began in 1955, with the rotten Roman epic The Silver Chalice soon shot him to the heights in gritty classics like 1956‘s Somebody Up There Likes Me, (where he played boxing champ Rocky Graziano), and later The Hustler, Hud and Cool Hand Luke. He became one of the quintessential movie stars, an actor so familiar we thought we knew him, a star presence who could always make us happy when he showed up.

Newman, born in Shaker Heights Ohio to a Jewish father ( a sporting goods store owner) and a Catholic mom, was one of those actors whom everybody loves – men, women, children and all points in between. Like Jimmy Stewart, another middle American movie icon, he was a small town guy, who made it big, yet never seemed to lose the scuff or the shine on his roots.

After some community theater work in my home town, William Bay, Wisconsin, he had an interesting Broadway career — he played the hero’s best friend (the Cliff Robertson movie role) in the original stage production of William Inge’s Picnic and the Humphrey Bogart killer part in Broadway‘s The Desperate Hours. He also fell in love with a fellow Picnic company member, Joanne Woodward (Kim Stanley’s understudy as the play’s literarily precocious tomboy). That affair never ended. Newman and Woodward were still married, still in love, a half century after their 1957 marriage, at his death.

He was probably on his way to a solid stage career. (He later originated the stage part of Chance Wayne in Tennessee Williams‘ Sweet Bird of Youth directed by Elia Kazan.) But Newman was, it seemed, born for the movies. His great good looks were undercut by his self-kidding humor, his swagger by an impishly seductive charm. (Woodward, who would win an Oscar in 1957, for The Three Faces of Eve, wondered at first about his acting herself, yet always thought he was cute enough to be a big movie star.)

But as much a natural as he later seemed, Newman was also a star with a great work ethic (which also helped him in his secondary careers as racing driver and businessman.) Although he made an ignominious (he thought, embarrassing) film debut in The Silver Chalice, he quickly recovered by taking over three plum roles James Dean left vacant after his 1955 car crash death — Rocky in Somebody Up There Likes Me, the punch-drunk hobo/fighter in the TV drama of Hemingway‘s short story The Battler and Billy the Kid in Arthur Penn’s Gore Vidal-derived Freudian Western The Left-Handed Gun.

Then he was off to the races, vaulting to the upper ranks of move stardom as Ben Quick (a.k.a. Flem Snopes) in The Long Hot Summer, the film adaptation of one of William Faulkner’s Snopes saga stories (for which he won the acting prize at Cannes), as Ari Ben Canaan in Otto Preminger’s making-of-Israel epic Exodus and, the role that revved up his legend: cocky, brutalized, then victorious pool shark Fast Eddie in Robert Rossen’s great 1961 film noir The Hustler. Hud, Harper, Luke, Butch Cassidy, Henry Gondorff, Sully Sullivan and all the other imperishably Newmanesque characters followed. By the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, he was one of the two or three most consistently popular American movie stars.

He might have stayed in the upper reaches forever, if, like John Wayne or Clint Eastwood, he had stayed more often locked into a consistent movie hero image that fans could regularly rally around. But Newman, who passed on Eastwood’s Dirty Harry part, probably made too many consciously artistic decisions and took too many financial gambles with his stardom in the ‘70s and ‘80s. His mega-star career finally ebbed a few years after a late career resurgence after his Oscar triumph for a reprise of Fast Eddie in Martin Scorsese’s 1986 The Color of Money.

But he remained, and will always remain, a remarkable, much-loved American figure for the entirety of his film work and for other triumphs: his later-life career as a championship racing car driver (he won his last race at 70) and for his fabulously successful line of “Newman’s Own” foods, some of his own recipe, the labels all enlivened by his witty notes. The sales of Newman’s home-made salad dressings, cookies, candies and other goodies allowed him to donate over 90 million dollars to charity.

So Newman started that food business as a local joke and, when it got big, he gave the Newman’s Own profits away, to worthy causes. That’s part of why he’s the Great Good guy. Modest and self-kidding, he was great — but he was also good. He has that quality Jimmy Stewart also had, of self-effacing American heroism — though where Stewart was a staunch conservative, Newman was a lifelong liberal. (That made him more of a hero to me, especially in the cloddishly anti-liberal period that started in the ‘80s.) He was a philanthropist with a sense of humor, a champ under improbable circumstances, a winner without apparent ego, a legend without alibis.

You could call him our Golden Boy, except that title was later taken by his movie best pal Robert Redford — Newman‘s costar in the buddy-buddy classics Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and The Sting. Although Newman was at first dismissed by some critics as a Marlon Brando imitator (so was James Dean), he had such qualities of instant likeability and unselfish charm that they irradiated all his performances, even when he was doing a Hud-caliber villain. Pauline Kael once wrote, with astounding passion, that Newman was an actor who “projects such an air of heroic frankness and sweetness that the audience dotes on (him), seeks to protect (him) from harm or pain.”

Kael nailed it. He was the great, good, and irreplaceable, movie guy.

There are a number of Newman DVD collections, but this one should be the prize title, even if it’s missing his non-Fox classics. The set contains 13 of his best (or better, or at least interesting) movies, four double-disc sets (of The Hustler, Butch Cassidy, The Towering Inferno and The Verdict), and a lavishly illustrated book on the movie guy everyone liked.

Movies include: The Long Hot Summer (Martin Ritt, 1958), Three Stars. Rally ‘Round the Flag, Boys! (Leo McCarey, 1958) Three Stars. Exodus (Otto Preminger, 1960) Four Stars. The Hustler (Robert Rossen, 1961) Four Stars. Adventures of a Young Man (Martin Ritt, 1962) Two and a Half Stars. What a Way to Go! (J. Lee Thompson, 1964) Two and a Half Stars. Hombre (Ritt, 1967) Three Stars.

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (George Roy Hill, 1969) Four Stars. The Towering Inferno (John Guillermin, 1974) Two and a Half Stars. Buffalo Bill and the Indians (Robert Altman, 1976) Three Stars. Quintet (Robert Altman, 1979) Three Stars. The Verdict (Sidney Lumet, 1982) Four Stars.



Ghosts of Girlfriends Past (Two Stars)
U.S.; Mark Waters (2009)

This one is just a glossy, giddy, smart-alec misfire. From director Mark Waters and the writers who committed Four Christmases, it‘s an expensive, showy update of the great Charles Dickens’ endlessly remade and recycled Yuletide classic “A Christmas Carol” — in which, this time, the Scrooge is a cynical serial seducer and bed-hopping star photographer named Connor Mead (Matthew McConaughey).
Connor, after breaking up with three women at once on a conference call, shows up at the wedding mansion as best man for his younger brother Paul’s (Breckin Meyer) wedding, and proceeds to hit on everybody in sight, to badmouth monogamy and marriage, to keep falling asleep and having nightmares, and to generally make himself obnoxious to political correctionists and wedding junkies.
Don’t fret though. Thanks to the spirit of Charles Dickens, the ghosts of Connor‘s girlfriends past, present and future, are about to materialize and show this sexist sexual miscreant the off-colorful consequences of his evil ways. They’re about to sneak into his dreams and up his bed and recount how he got to be such a super-lech: It’s all the fault of swingin’ killer-diller playboy Uncle Wayne (Michael Douglas) who gives Connor superstud lessons. The ghosts also show how, after youthful disappointments, Connor has made an erotic pig of himself. And finally they show how he can straighten himself out in time for a “God bless us, everyone!”-style happy ending. (Old girlfriend, lost love and main disappointment Jenny, played by Jennifer Garner, is conveniently around to help out.)
I once knew an actual champion Don Juan — he was my college best friend — and McConaughey’s Connor continuously breaks both of this guy’s main rules. They were: Number One: Always talk to a woman exactly as you’d talk, on friendly terms, to a man. (Connor isn’t friendly and he always telegraphs his come-ons, while acting like an asshole.) And Number Two: Never, never talk to a woman about another woman — —- much less brag endlessly about conquests, like Connor. Connor doesn’t smile or joke enough to be a real ace heart-snatcher. He isn’t considerate, charming or funn. And he’s too open about his own bad behavior, as if the entire world were his frat boy chum. So misogynist Connor may be getting by on his looks, money and fame, but I just don’t believe him.
The movie looks pretty good: a bejeweled stinker. But the women tend to have shallow parts, like bridesmaids Deena, Donna and Denice, and there are no real laughs, except the ones supplied by Douglas as lewd old Uncle Wayne, an aging superstud whom I did buy. (Douglas’ old “Fatal Attraction“ beleaguered wife Anne Archer is also around, and Connor hits on her. Unsuccessfully.) Douglas, pulling out his old Gordon Gekko reptilian super-charm, manages to easily steal the entire movie. (Lust is good!)
Uncle Wayne could have stolen more than that. Other than rewriting Connor’s part completely, the best cure for what ails “Ghosts of Girlfriends Past ” would have been to junk the original lineup and have Douglas play the lead, while putting McConaughey in the nice guy groom role, for which he‘s much better suited, and have Catherine Zeta-Jones replace Jen Garner, who then could have slid into the rewritten bride part. (The loss of Lacey Chabert’s constantly hysterical Sandra, the movie’s worst-written role, would have been another plus — and a break for Chabert, who could have grabbed something else.)
But that switch, which would probably have definitely made a much better, much funnier movie than this one, also probably would have flunked the youth-rules studio green light test and Hollywood’s unspoken ageist credo about who carries films. Bad credo. Bad rule. As it stands, even if Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn showed up in “Wedding Crashers” role cameos, it couldn’t have saved this flavorless, stale one-plum pudding of a movie.

Observe and Report (Two Stars)
U.S. Jody Hill, 2009

This oddball show, in which Seth Rogen gets fat and psycho-nasty, and Ray Liotta and Anna Faris respectively play his tough cop and trashy babe nemeses, is, no kidding, the Taxi Driver of mall cop comedies, as writer-director Jody Hill has already confessed was his intention. And that’s a title it will never lose.

But, if Travis Bickle and Paul Blart seem an odd mix of antecedents, be advised that Hill and company never completely work out the kinks in his concept. Rogen plays Ronnie Barnhardt, a rotund Dirty Harry-wannabe who dreams of being Eastwood or De Niro, but still lives at home with his mom (Celia Weston), an amiable souse who claims she slept with most of his high school friends, and probably did. Meanwhile, his mall is being terrorized by a fat flasher who keeps whipping it out at convenient moments, and burglars who keep looting the place. It’s a Ronnie sort of job, but somehow the PD sends over Detective Harrison (Liotta) who thinks Ronnie is a doofus.

The movie is semi-funny all the way through– and Faris, as a mean little makeup shop slut named Brandi is hilarious — but it also leaves a bad taste in your mouth. (To be honest so did Paul Blart.) Having your comedy hero be an actual semi-psychotic on a macho trip and vengeance kick is a daring move (though it smacks of Adam Sandler), and so are the pathological depths to which some these characters sink. Cinematically, it’s just okay.

Observe and Report is certainly a better movie than the hit Paul Blart — not a hard contest to win. But in some ways, they aren’t all that different: gross out comedy vehicles for star comics about cop fantasies that turn weirdly real. I thought it would have been funnier if Ronnie wound up in a straitjacket or got framed as the flasher, and then exonerated in a penis lineup.

Seriously though, enough is enough with this trend. I don’t want to see another mall cop comedy, because the possibilities get scary. What if we get one starring Blimp Rushbomb aka Rush Limbaugh, with Bill “Riled Up Riles” O’Reilly is the tough cop, and Glenn “The Wreck” Beck as the flasher? Basta!

Battle for Terra (Two-and-a-Half Stars)
U.S.; Aristomenis Tsirbas, 2009

This beautifully animated 3D science fiction fable is an alien invasion story twisted inside out, a War of the Worlds in which, as Pogo Possum was fond of saying, we have met the enemy and he is us. Here, the monsters from outer space are Earthling cosmonaut/soldiers looking for another planet to colonize and the threatened protagonists are the peace-loving, amphibian-looking Terrians, who have foresworn war, but are ready to pull their weaponry out of mothballs to save their planet from conquest by the little pink men. Trying to bridge the gap between alien species and worlds are plucky little Mala (Evan Rachel Wood), Jim, the Earthling soldier whom she rescues (Luke Wilson), and cute little translator/robot Giddy (David Cross), who looks and acts like a talking cross between R2-D2 and Wall-E.

I was okay with director Tsirbas’s affectionately artsy anti-war fantasy — with its pro-ecology, peacenik themes and seductive other-worldly visuals — until the explosive, guns-blazing climax: predictable for this kind of anime-influenced show, but a mood-wrecker and message-shredder nonetheless. Still, Battle is often redeemed by its dreamlike visuals, which suggest a fusion of Star Wars with a poetic French hybrid like Fantastic Planet, and the all-star voice cast, which includes Brian Cox as the warmongering General Hammer, along with the great James Garner, Dennis Quaid, Rosanna Arquette, Danny Glover and Star Wars’ old Skywalker, Mark Hamill.

Objectified (Two-and-a-Half Stars)
U. S.; Gary Hustwit, 2009

Gary Hustwit (Helvetica) interviews modern designers from all over the world, and unearths a multiplicity of approaches, theories and philosophies about the way things should look and be in the twenty-first century. Some of the interviewees struck me as maddeningly pretentious and full of it; others were more human, eloquent and persuasive. The images are beautiful throughout — both the shots of the design experts in their environments and (some of) their works. The subjects include: Paula Antonelli, Dieter Rams, Chris Bangle, Fiona Ruby and Naoto Fukasawa. (In English, French, Dutch and Japanese, with English subtitles.)

Apres Lui (Two-and-a-Half Stars)
France, Gael Morel, 2007 (IFC Films)

The still ravishing Catherine Deneuve, an ageless movie enchantress, elevates this somewhat corny and pseudo-hip Gallic romance of the forbidden passion between a mother who’s lost her son to an auto-crash and the son’s equally grief-stricken best friend (Thomas Demerchez). There are more fireworks in That Hamilton Woman, though I’ve always had a bigger crush on Deneuve than Leigh. (In French with English subtitles.)

Extra: Trailer.



Star Trek: The Next Generation Movie Collection (Two-and-a-Half Stars)
U.S.; Various Directors (Paramount)

Star Trek Original Movie Collection (Three-and-a-Half Stars)
U.S.; Various Directors (Paramount)

– Michael Wilmington
September 22, 2009

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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