MCN Blogs
Noah Forrest

By Noah Forrest

Back-seat cricketing

I have a feeling of ennui and loneliness around this time of year because all of my compatriots are in places like Telluride, Toronto, and Venice, seeing films that most of us won’t see for many more months.  Oh sure, there’s jealousy involved too – I want to see these films, damn it! – but more than that, I feel deeply saddened because the critics walk out of these films and judge them (via Twitter or blog) immediately.  Part of me is anxious to hear how the film is playing and I dutifully check the Twitter feeds of all the folks that are doing the dirty work of actually seeing the movies; the majority of me, however, is almost always disappointed by the quickness with which my fellow movie writers dismiss movies or applaud them.  That is not to say that these movies do not deserve dismissal or applause, but the narrative is just shaped too quickly for my liking.

Take a film like Never Let Me Go, for example.  In a matter of days, the narrative has turned into this: the film is not for everyone and it will be fairly polarizing.  Okay, that seems reasonable enough; after all, the same can be said for the deluge of reviews that accompany a film’s opening.  However, writing a full review gives the viewer time to pore over their prose, which gives the writer a chance to re-think their stance.  I’m not saying someone who writes that review will have a drastically different opinion, but it’s possible that they will either soften their stance slightly (from “I hated it” to “I didn’t enjoy it”).

It always goes back to my long-standing argument: most films are neither masterpieces or disasters, they are somewhere in between.  I’m really getting sick and tired of every critic declaring films as one or the other just because they had a strong reaction to it; both declarations do the films themselves a disservice because they set up unreasonable expectations.  But more than the expectations, it shapes a narrative (if you have a loud and respected voice, especially).  It’s quite possible that Never Let Me Go is a masterpiece or a disaster and I’ll find out next week, but I’ve got a hunch that it’s neither.  Know why I have that hunch?  Because I’m right about that 99% of the time.  (But, oh that other 1% of the time…)

Be Sociable, Share!

One Response to “Back-seat cricketing”

  1. EthanG says:

    Good hunch…”never let me go” has come out with a very mixed reaction….then again “The Town” has exceeded the (moderately positive) festival buzz to the point where it has a legit shot at a Best Pic nom. “Gone Baby Gone” had comparable reviews (94 for Baby to 90 at Tomatoes so far [Town would be the 3rd wide release to hit 90 this year if reviews hold, behind Toy Story 3 & How to Train Your Dragon] but 76 for Town to 72 for Baby at Metacritic with neither film getting a perfect score there) and could have grabbed a slot with 10 nominees though this fall feels stronger than 2007…but “Town” is also opening in 40% more theatres than “Baby” & tracking to open to triple what “Baby” did….so it possibly has better stature as well.

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