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David Poland

By David Poland

BYOB – Happy New Year

It was an odd year. So much to mourn… so much to look forward to…
May it be great for all of you.

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49 Responses to “BYOB – Happy New Year”

  1. IOIOIOI says:

    Awwwwwwwwwwwwwww. You big softie. Yes, 2009, had it’s moments, but it can go and fuck itself. Here’s to 2010 and all the awesome cinema it should bring with it.

  2. Gonzo Knight says:

    Cheers, David.
    Best of the best in 2010, everyone.

  3. scooterzz says:

    i can now honestly say that i agree with io once in a blue moon…’09 was the guest i thought would NEVER leave….that said, hope ‘ten’ proves to be something better…for everyone….

  4. Blackcloud says:

    Saw “Avatar” on Thursday. The flora and fauna of Pandora are impressive. Most impressive. Might be the most plausibly alien world I’ve ever seen. But the story, as someone complained in another thread, is hoary tropes and cliches. More proof that there are no new stories, only new ways of telling them. Personally, I liked some of the new ways Cameron invented, and disliked others. My initial impression is that there is more going on in the movie than exists merely on the surface. But ascertaining whether what is underneath is depths or shallows (probably both) will require a second viewing. A viewing prerably not in slightly out-of-focus IMAX 3D. In the interim, a few random points:
    1) The narrative retraces the traditional hero’s journey. Or, as I moaned to myself when the dandelion pollen landed on Jakesully, “Not another chosen one!”
    2) The biochemical/neurochemical explanation of how the Na’vi communicate with Eywa is the functional equivalent of midichlorians. Which means Eywa is not unlike you-know-what.
    3) The plot recapitulates any number of encounters between Europeans and indigenous peoples, especially those which took place in the New World in the first two centuries after Columbus. (Or afterwwards, hence the similarities to “Dances with Wolves.) In which case, what really would happen is that the microbes the humans brought with them would infect the Na’vi and wipe most of them out (or vice-versa). And given that the human and Na’vi genomes are compatible enough to make avatars, the microbes would cross over, too. On the other hand, the Na’vi might have been eager to facilitate cross overs of a different kind by adopting the avatars and encouraging them to choose mates. The Indians of the Great Lakes certainly did that with the French.
    4) Speaking of avatars, the movie isn’t quite so anti-technological as it appears. The humans use their technology to interface with that of the Na’vi. So it’s only technology which allows Worthington’s character to do what he does. Which means that, ultimately, it isn’t nature which defeats technology, but technology which defeats technology.
    5) Unobtainium? WTF? Anyway, I’d have prefered it to have some connection to Eywa, say, its superconductivity is what makes the neural network go. Mine it and you destroy the network.
    6) The final battle is probably the least interesting part of the story. There’s nothing original or striking about it.
    7) I suppose in the future just as in the present, the Chinese provide the money and Americans provide the manpower.

  5. Foamy Squirrel says:

    I mentioned this in another thread – Cameron doesn’t do “depth”, he does “illusion of depth”. It appears (at least, to me) clear that he’s thought about deeper stuff but he only shows the core framework and lets the audience fill it in themselves. Reading the scripts or taking parts out of context it’s like something on an Uwe Boll level, but as a coherent piece there’s enough nudges for the audience to project their own thoughts into it – rather like how ancient astronomers “knew” there were other planets out there, they couldn’t see them but what they could see behaved in a way that could only be explained by something else out there.
    (There are occasional lapses; Michelle Rodriguez’ unexplained defection to the Na’vi sympathizers being the most obvious example of when there’s not enough framework, and Giovanni Ribisi explaining to Sigourney Weaver that the expedition is there to mine Unobtainium despite the fact she’s been on the planet for over 10 years being an obvious example of when there’s too much)
    I think that’s part of the charm – there’s parts that are “as subtle as a sack of doorknobs to the nutsack” (to paraphrase someone in one of the other threads), but there’s sufficient blank space for a wide range of audiences to read into it something that appeals to their own tastes.
    It may not be entirely original storytelling, but it is exceptionally well executed.

  6. Chel says:

    a question to you.
    My biggest quibble about Avatar is the trailer. They basically gave away the whole story with all major twists. This is not to say that it is not true of a lot of other movies. Though I really liked Hancock’s trailer as several interesting twist were not shown.
    Do you think in the case of Avatar the marketing people/whoever comes up with trailers (Cameron?) they had to give away the story to lure people in?

  7. christian says:

    I just put a nice stake in the heart of 2009. Onward. Happy New Year!

  8. 2009 was vile (or, the last two months of it, anyway) so I’m glad to see it go in a wave of vodka.
    Chel, if Avatar is so hokey and predictable and cliched as people are saying then everyone would have known where it was going anyway so what they put in or left out of the trailer would be a moot point. 🙂

  9. Geoff says:

    I will probably catch one movie, this weekend, and I’m looking to be a completist for 2009. What would you recommend?
    – Crazy Heart
    – A Single Man
    – It’s Complicated
    – Invictus
    – Avatar (again, maybe in 2D)
    Kind of leaning towards Crazy Heart because it’s playing at the River East and I dig Jeff Bridges and Maggie Gylenhaal (though she is way too young to play his love interest, sorry); though, I dislike country music. But if you have a stronger suggestion, feel free.

  10. Geoff says:

    Oh, and Happy New Year!

  11. christian says:

    CRAZY HEART. So you can see why Jeff Bridges will probably get his oscar this year…

  12. Geoff says:

    Is the movie depressing?

  13. Geoff says:

    I guess that goes without saying, actually – it IS about a country singer.

  14. christian says:

    I was afeared it was going to be the country music version of THE WRESTLER, but what I liked best is that it doesn’t pump up every scene or moment into a big existential life or death deal. You’ve seen the story before, but you’ll feel just fine after.

  15. Rob says:

    Haven’t seen Crazy Heart yet but looooved A Single Man. Shot-for-shot exquisite without ever being a chilly objet d’art. Firth is extraordinary, even though the role is probably too restrained to win him an Oscar.

  16. Geoff says:

    Thanks, Christian – that’s kind of what I was concerned about. Don’t get me wrong, The Wrestler was a good movie, but I found it overrated – a great performance does not a great movie make.
    I’ll check it out…

  17. The Pope says:

    Just a short note of thanks and good wishes to each and every one of you whom I read up almost on a daily basis. I really like this site and the blog, especially when I disagree with someone’s opinion and then am enlightened because of it.
    Best of luck and happiness to everyone here.

  18. jeffmcm says:

    Happy new year and best wishes to everybody.

  19. leahnz says:

    2010: the year of the tiger. may it bring peace and prosperity to all

  20. Jeffrey Boam's Doctor says:

    DP how come you haven’t talked much about the Lovely Bones release at all? It seems there’s an interesting story in there. Moved from Summer, then strategy change again at last minute for Xmas. And now what is going to happen?

  21. Geoff says:

    Christian, thanks for the tip – I really enjoyed Crazy Heart. Very well-written, well acted, even liked the music – Bridges was excellent, I would love to see him win Best Actor.
    I also slipped into a couple of other movies, afterwards – saw the last hour of Avatar in 2D and it still works! Seems more detailed, for some reason, and Dave’s right, the skin on teh Navi looks more real. Audience ate it up and Finke is hearing that it made $24 million, today – it will likely have the biggest third weekend ever and is chugging towards $350 million.
    AND I ended up seeing the first hour and change of It’s Complicated – it was getting late and I had to head home. I was enjoying it, though – Dave has a valid point about the ridiculous wealth of the characters –
    If the big project for Streeps character is finally to have her own kitchen….how come she has a huge kitchen with island that she’s serving Steve Martin food in??? Just bizarre.
    Back to Crazy Heart – Bridges gives a really nice lived-in performance and Maggie Gylenhaal just delivers – there are few more sensuous actresses out there, right now, and she even nails the accent.
    Though I had NO idea that Colin Farrel was in it – he has a genuine supporting role, how come it hasn’t been advertised or even publicised? He’s actually pretty good, too.

  22. LexG says:

    Whoa, whoa, whoa… Geoff? Don’t tell me you’re “that guy.”
    By “that guy” I mean the weird guy by himself who ducks in and out of random multiplex showings like it’s a “Whitman’s Sampler,” catching 20 minutes of this and that, like your one ticket entitles you to hop in and out of in-progrss shit and annoy the living fuck out of people who paid to see something and had their personal space all staked out and emotions invested for 100 minutes, then YOU waltz in and plop down next to them to “sample” a random reel or two.
    ‘Cause, no offense personally, but “that guy” is as big a disturbance and distraction as the snorer, the texter, the chatty teenagers… just about anyone.
    It’s always such a WTF? distraction for the people you sit down next to… and even if you’re a considerate moviegoer otherwise, let me tell you from experience, 9 times out of 10 anyone who’d sneak in midway is usually a texter, talking, or twitchy weirdo, so the minute you “slip in,” you’ve effectively distracted me from the rest of the movie, because now I’m on guard for whatever movie-watching crime you’ll spring next.
    Happens all the time at multiplexes: the guy who thinks he’s getting his money’s worth by having “extra shit” in front of his face before going home. Like, what about plot investment or character or seeing it beginning to end? Yeah, you’ve seen “Avatar” before, but if I’m the guy all invested in the movie and suddenly you skulk in and sit next to me at the 1:56 mark, I DON’T KNOW THAT, and you’re taking me out of the movie. IT IS RUDE. The other people around you are now just wondering, “What could this guy POSSIBLY be getting out of slipping in to watch the last 20 minutes of (insert three hour epic)?”
    Not to mention, you know, you’re kind of STEALING. Hey, why not just stuff a Twix bar in your pocket at the supermarket if no one will see you do it? Most rational, intelligent adults wouldn’t do something that low-class and dishonest, but feel some sense of entitlement that once you’re within a theater’s front doors, you have carte blanche to run amok.

  23. jeffmcm says:

    Lex, you’re turning into Jeff Wells. Don’t be that guy either.

  24. LexG says:

    Come on, Jeff; You’re a pretty frequent moviegoer by civilian standards; I know you pride yourself on rolling with an airtight posse at all times, and that kind of thing is more shielded from you in a group. If you go to movies solo or with one friend or date, not so much. Honestly, you’re that tuned into the movie or that unaware of your surroundings that if someone waltzed into the Arclight and plopped down next to you at the 101 minute mark of “Milk” and started texting, you wouldn’t notice/register at least SOME annoyance? When it’s some spectacle shit in a generic multiplex, I’m not really surprised by a pack of teens skulking in near the end. But what the hell does a lone 40-year-old male get from sneaking in to watch the last 11 minutes of “There Will Be Blood,” “The Wrestler,” or “Benjamin Button”?
    And: Per his blog, Wells sneaks in and out of shit all the time, leaving movies at the 3/4 mark and stumbling into neighboring screenings 20 minutes in late. In trademark JW fashion, you KNOW he’d erupt if someone slipped in late and sat too close to him, but he doesn’t seem to have qualms about doing it himself.

  25. anghus says:

    I’ve had some funny conversations at Holiday parties over the last week. There’s 2 critics in my small town. So when i go to parties i often run into people who have an opinion a certain review.
    I gave Avatar 2 1/2 stars. Great experience. Poor story and acting.
    Never, EVER, have i had more people challenge me on a review. And the weird thing is, it’s so non specific. They just keep talking about ‘how i didn’t get it’. I re-read my review and listed 4 points about the movie that bugged me and that why i found everything in the pretty package so underwhelming. But no one actually wanted to discuss story points. Not to go overboard, but it felt almost cult like. Every time i tried to debate one point or another, there was a lot of head shaking and sighing.
    It’s like people don’t want to debate Avatar. You either completely love it or you just don’t get it.
    I hate movies like this. I love film debate. I love the little nuances of personal taste. But certain films just seem to be cultural phenoms that are above proper criticism and debate.

  26. Geoff says:

    LexG, no worries – I’m not “that guy.” It was late and the rest of my family was asleep, and I was wide awake – seemed to be cook to check out some movies.
    And besides, there were like three people scattered in the midnight show of It’s Complicated – when I left, halfway through, I doubt any of them were disturbed.

  27. Geoff says:

    LexG, I can appreciate your comments and no, I did not text while I was there – I worked in a movie theater for seven years when I was younger and honestly, we did not care about theater hoppers nearly as much s the folks who brought in their own stuff and left it all over the floor to clean up – like a big batch of chinese food or pizza boxes, weird stuff. THAT would get annoying.
    I did bring a few snacks, but was sure to throw them all out – we all have our own pet peeves about this stuff….

  28. Geoff says:

    Anghus, now having seen Avatar multiple times, I can comfortably say that I love the movie, but it does it have its flaws.
    I find myself bothered by Laz Alonzo’s character more than any other – Ribisi’s villain is actually given a little depth and Lang’s character is just too much fun to get bothered by, but the Laz Alonzo character just has a permanent scowl and is given little to say. What is his deal?
    If he’s so jealous about Netyri, sure seems like he doesn’t even give her the time of day. I have a feeling that something interesting might have been left on the cutting room floor, or maybe that was James Cameron’s intention.
    Is it the greatest movie ever? No, but I would put it up there with any Star Wars or LOTR film as a great entertainment. I think The Dark Knight comparions are interesting, because that film was another obvious example of a flawed masterpiece – it was easy to get swept up in it, but after multiple viewings, there were obvious holes that showed.

  29. Chucky in Jersey says:

    Sorry, fanboys. Geoff was a major league douche, hopping auditoriums just like every underage twit wanting to see the newest R-rated release.
    When “The Matrix Revolutions” came out I caught a little girl — couldn’t have been more than 5 or 6 — trying to sneak in. Had she been a few years older I woulda jacked her up and kicked her ass out of the theater myself.

  30. Geoff says:

    Wow, Chucky – never been called that, before. Didn’t think I would incite such controversy.
    Sorry for committing such heinous acts….

  31. anghus says:

    Geoff. That i get. Liking it but realizing its not perfect. Its that fanboy. Mentality of embracing it wholly that frightens me.

  32. IOIOIOI says:

    What’s the point of not wholly embracing something?

  33. Geoff says:

    You can embrace something, while still acknowledging its flaws.

  34. christian says:

    Lex, I’d buy your protestations more if you challenged Wells on his hypocritical sociopathology when he’s irritating theatergoers — as I’ve seen him do in the flesh.
    And there’s nothing wrong with popping in to see the last hour of a movie if you do it with stealth. Geoff hardly seems like the LOUD GUY.
    Sadly, Lex and Wells seem to be magnets for theater trouble. There’s a lesson there.
    As for AVATAR’s script, the line “You’re not in Kansas anymore” sums up why it’s being challenged.

  35. Blackcloud says:

    The “You’re not in Kansas anymore” line did not really bother me. Yes it’s trite, yes it’s a cliche, yes it’s stupid. But people still use that phrase all the time. That’s why it’s trite and a cliche. And phrases like that get stuck in the language and stay there, so it’s not at all implausible that peole in 150 years will still be using it. Much more implausible is that they’d remember “shock and awe.” That’d be like us dropping “Fifty-four Forty or fight!” into everyday conversation. Not gonna happen.

  36. David Poland says:

    I thnkk you are right, Christian. A few terrible lines of dialogue have made the movie a target for some criticism that really isn’t fair.
    I was watching, at some obscene hour, a doc on the making of the film of West Side Story, and Sondheim talked – in the 60s – about the idea that critics could accept something being commercial and dumb or artsy and smart, but if there was any sense that the two things were daring to mix, outrage was the rsponse.
    The more things change…
    PS Anyone who has been in a theater within two rows of Wells knows about his lean-over-the-chair-and-churn-the-leg-until-oil-rises-from-the-floor method of watching movies. Even having broken off all contact with him for years, I know when he is in a Toronto or Sundance screening by the row shaking, at which point I pray he gets up and leaves so I can watch the rest of the movie in piece.

  37. Telemachos says:

    Blackcloud — agreed about the “shock and awe” line… although again that’s nothing new with Cameron. I remember some criticism about the Marines in ALIENS using dated 80s references — “Fly the unfriendly skies” being tagged on the pilot’s helmet, etc.

  38. leahnz says:

    dialog does not a script make, surely critics can’t be that thick
    (i find cameron’s hokey dialog hilarious, and i believe that’s his intention; i’m fairly sure ‘we’re not in kansas anymore’ is common military lingo used by troops deployed overseas; on the news i actually heard the commander of a group of NZ SAS deployed in afghanistan say in an interview when asked what it was like on the ground there, ‘i guess we’re not in kansas anymore’, so if a kiwi soldier is using the wizard of oz colloquialism it must be fairly widespread)
    i adore avatar but there are loads of flaws in it, such as after trudi defies orders and goes AWOL from the strike on home tree, surely she’d be sanctioned or sacked or what have you, but just carrying on her job as if nothing happened seems highly unlikely; or when she breaks grace, jake, norm and max out of jail and jake asks max to stay behind because he needs a man on the inside, his ass would be thrown right back in jail, etc. just to name a few.
    the fact is and always has been, if you connect with a movie and get swept away by it, little flaws here and there even if they bother you momentarily are easily brushed off, but if your NOT swept up the the movie then the flaws become glaring and often compound to a point of no return. no movie is perfect, there are always flaws, either perceived or actual, but whether or not they make or break a movie for you is largely dependent on the emotional rather than logical

  39. jeffmcm says:

    Chucky in Jersey: “Had she been a few years older I woulda jacked her up and kicked her ass out of the theater myself.”
    GOD I wish there was some way to make this happen with a video camera running. Mental illness really has its benefits.

  40. IOIOIOI says:

    Geoff, that’s a very fucked up way to look at the world. If anyone is intentionally looking for a flaw in anything or anyone, then I feel sorry for you. Personally, not being a cynical person, I enjoy the flaws just coming to me. I love The Fugitive but there’s no way in hell they could have sentenced Richard Kimble to jack shit. Let alone fucking murder.
    See? If it comes to you, that’s better than searching it out. It at least is for me.

  41. jeffmcm says:

    IOI, nowhere on this page does he say he’s actively seeking out flaws. It sounds like you and he are in basic agreement about loving something in spite of flaws.

  42. CleanSteve says:

    “Proper criticism,” Anghus?
    Most people don’t giveing half a poop about “proper criticism.”
    I mean no offense at all because you reaction and way of looking at the film is a legit as anyone’s.
    BUT to me it seems the problem here is yours, and not theirs.
    You want them to admit there are flaws in order to justify your opinion, or convince people to look down on something they enjoyed.
    Yes, one can love something while admitting it’s flawed. But you can also love something and just not CARE that there or flaws.
    If something brings you joy, why spend time poking holes in it and deflating even a molecule of that joy? Why do you want them to do so? Just because it bugs you why should it bug them?
    I love my wife. If you came up to me and tried to debate or tell me why she’d flawed I’d punch you in the mouth. A movie and a wife are certainly eons apart but the analogy is reasonable.
    My god, just let people enjoy the fucking thing. Fine. You’re above it all. Rock on. But how many comments in here are there about how shit 2009 was? Why can’t people be allowed to just enjoy?
    This is why I have so much distaste for 99% of “film criticism.” It’s not about telling what YOU thought of a film. It’s about telling the reader what THEY ARE GOING TO THINK OR THEY SHOULD THINK. I hate nothing more than a line like “the movie makes you want your money back.” No, it made YOU want your money back.
    Or the criticism turns into name-calling, or insulting audiences if they choose to like it. I love movies as much as anybody but sorry guys, you’re writing about a piece of entertainment. There is nothing moral or ethical about whether a person likes THE WATERBOY over 2001. And if you think there is then the problem is yours.
    One more thing: I find the whole thing fascinating. It’s so rare we get a film that is as huge as this one. The (almost) mass embrace is interesting to ponder. The answer lies somewhere in what the mood of the country is, or what mass audiences are interested in seeing. It’s NOT that they are dumb sheep, or are cliche and trope eating morons. They were entertained and that is simply enough.
    Why does that so offend some of you? I get images of Faraci in bed at night pounding his pillows because somebody dares to have fun rather than analyze narrative and plotting, which he is no expert on either.

  43. leahnz says:

    i’d like to kiss you too, cleansteve :-*
    (cleansteve and sashastone are my blog idols at the mo)

  44. jeffmcm says:

    Good lord, people CANNOT STAND to have their pleasures trampled upon.
    “Why can’t people be allowed to just enjoy?”
    I must have missed Obama signing the 2009 “No Fun” bill. Nobody’s stopping anybody from enjoying anything.

  45. Geoff says:

    IOIOIOIO, you REALLY miscontrued what I said, wow – all I said was I truly enjoyed the film, DESPITE its flaws.
    You and Lex both seem to be quite testy, today – maybe you should go out and enjoy a movie. Always works for me….

  46. doug r says:

    Leah, I don’t think Max was in the brig and who says Chacon wasn’t grounded and on some kind of KP? She brought the food, after all and it’s corporate, not military.

  47. leahnz says:

    hells bells, doug r, you’re right
    max came in behind trudi, didn’t he (and it’s possible he wouldn’t have been caught for his role in aiding and abetting the traitors)…and i guess trudi very well could have been grounded/on KP, i assumed the consequences of her actions would have graver repercussions but that’s just my assumption, so i guess my examples of ‘flaws’ could be bogus! i’ll have to try to come up with some better flaws

  48. The Big Perm says:

    I’d like to mention the major flaw with CleanSteve’s wife is that she’s always whining about being caught cheating on him. I’m like, he’s at the bowling alley baby, stop fucking worrying.
    Also, popping into a movie theater if you haven’t paid for a ticket is pretty much stealing, kids. Not that I care, my morals are loose enough that I can commit serial adultery with CleanSteve’s wife…but facts are facts. You’re no better than an Enron executive.
    So I still haven’t seen any movies lately, so that’s all I can add.

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