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David Poland

By David Poland

Nowhere Boy, A DP/30 Double Feature

In honor of John Lennon’s 70th birthday (on Saturday), the actor and the director who bring him to life in this thoughtful film.

Star Aaron Johnson

Director Sam Taylor-Wood

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One Response to “Nowhere Boy, A DP/30 Double Feature”

  1. leahnz says:

    i don’t want to sound lewd or one-track-minded, but ‘nowhere boy’ came out here what seems like ages ago now, just after i’d learned aaron and taylor-wood were together (not to mention one up the duff), and it slanted my view of the film in that much of the time my inner perv radar was going off, like, ‘yowza she’s lingering awfully long and hard on those eyelashes/delicately lit perfect skin/angles of his lovely face/body/hair’. of course i may have read more into it than was there, but i couldn’t shake the feeling of how lovingly aaron was being photographed/depicted, the quiet, lingering sensuality of some of the shots…(which helped to set the intimate tone of the story, had it not seemed almost fawning to me)

    it’s not like there haven’t been other (usually male) directors enamored/in love/lust with their leads and about whose real life relationships i’ve known, which inevitably coloured my interpretation of a film, but this was the most preoccupying (and i don’t particularly fancy aaron past acknowledging that he’s a fine looking lad, so it’s not i was personally getting my jollies). if anybody else observes a certain ‘obsession’ with the lead when viewing this movie please say something so i don’t feel like such a weirdo — tho the male skew of this blog may render that a lot to ask, so not to worry

    anyway re: ‘nowhere boy’, i thought the musical sequences, though hardly the heart of the movie, were simple and effective, and johnson managed to invoke young lennon in his own perhaps prettier/softer way – at certain moments appearing startlingly young lennon-like and at others not at all; but really the melancholy heart of the story isn’t john’s musical roots but rather his family roots, the hardships, loss and loneliness he endured but didn’t deal with particularly well (nor did anybody else around him for that matter), and most importantly the complex and at times difficult but ultimately tenacious bond of love and forgiveness between mothers and sons (and the incarnations this can take/consequences it creates), of wanting to feel like you are part of a family, that you belong somewhere. in this regard, although the writing is a bit undercooked in places, i found the movie’s title quite fitting. at times wistful and touching (and also a bit shocking, esp. as someone who was unfamiliar with certain events in lennon’s childhood)

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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