MCN Blogs
Kim Voynar

By Kim Voynar

Playing Catch Up

You ever have one of those months when it feels like no matter how many hours you work you keep getting further and further behind? Yeah, me too. Like right now.

Here are five six things I’m just catching up with now:

1. Screeners. I suck at watching screeners, truefacts. I don’t really like to watch a screener while I’m doing other things, because if I’m going to watch someone’s film I like to give it my full attention. But finding a couple hours at home to watch a movie uninterrupted by six kids, when I’m not so tired that I’m inclined to fall asleep no matter how good it is … can be a challenge. I have a handy-dandy porta-player that helps a lot, but I can’t watch most of the films I get on screener at the kids’ school, where I do most of my work through the week. Oddly enough, school personnel and other parents get a little testy about kids accidentally glimpsing any nudity or violence.

But I came home all grumpy from being struck in traffic all day to find Mike had decided to surprise me by installing a flat screen TV on the wall in front of our bed, complete with a DVD player. So I can watch awards seasons screeners on a big screen, without competing with kids for TV time now. Huzzah. Now all I need is surround sound.

2. The Art of Drew Struzan. I got sent this book about the work of prolific movie poster artist Drew Struzan a while back. It arrived while I was at TIFF and got set on a pile of boxes we still havent unpacked and so I didn’t see that it had arrived until last night.

And holy cow! It is tremendously cool book featuring the movie posters and one-sheets created by this masterfully talented artist, and it would make an excellent Christmas gift if you have a cinephile or fan of pop art in your life. I had a hard time putting it down once I started flipping through it. It’s a like a history of movies through posters. Star Wars. Indiana Jones. Back to the Future. Harry Potter. Amazing artwork, fascinating background information. Recommended, especially if you are a cinephile or an aspiring artist (or have one in your life).

3. I need to get a big magnetic flow chart to keep track of all the moving around in our insular industry.My good friend Eug Hernandez is leaving indieWIRE and I can’t imagine one without the other. I know Eug will be happy in his new gig and amazing at it.

Meanwhile another good friend, Anne Thompson, is taking on a bigger role at iW and I know that Anne and Brian Brooks, and James Israel, and Peter Knegt will continue to do great things — everyone over there is smart and canny and on top of things and they will be fine. And in a way, it shows the strength of what Eug helped build at iW that he can finally move on and know that what he built is strong and will sustain.

Also, I saw the other day that Todd McCarthy is leaving his post at iW and moving to The Hollywood Reporter (I know, I know! I told you I’m behind). To be honest, while I liked Todd’s writing at iW it always felt to me like it would probably be a filler gig for him. Trades are his thing, and frankly, if you can still score a big paycheck in this field nowadays, more power to you. Todd’s well-liked and he’s a fantastic writer. I’ll still be reading him and most likely, so will you.

On the other hand, Todd’s departure might be good for Eric Kohn, who got kinda inadvertently shoved back in Todd’s shadow after being announced as iW’s film critic. Eric’s a good guy and a very smart, solid writer. I worked with him at Cinematical and liked him then, and he’s done nothing but grow as a writer since then. It would be great to see iW really give him some room to find his voice and see where he goes.

Probably just while I’ve been writing this someone else has lost a gig, or landed a new one. As for publicists, they move around so much I need a separate magnet chart just to keep track of who’s working where on a weekly basis. Trying to keep up with that is an exercise in futility.

4. Salon’s Andrew O’Hehir and Roger Ebert engaged in some wordy fisticuffs over O’Hehir’s slam of Secretariat, which I actually agreed with in a lot of respects. I like it when critical colleagues can engage in smart debate about the merits of a film. If only there was a tv show where a couple smart guys argued about movies … This back-and-forth has been one of my favorite reads this week.

Update: I just saw on David’s Twitter feed that he’s siding with Ebert on this one. Which is cool, we disagree about stuff all the time. But I think calling Andrew’s review of Secretariat Armond White-esque is maybe a bit (okay, a lot) harsh. Andrew’s initial review was intentionally hyperbolic, yes, but he made some valid points — many of them issues that my guy and I discussed on the drive home right after the screening.

Can a movie be both intentionally feel-good and unintentionally evoke a sense of soft-pitch, “life was better then” propaganda? I’m not saying I’d go so far as to argue the filmmakers were deliberately obscuring reality for the sake of the soft sell, but I think Andrew had some valid points to make about covert racism in the film with the villainization of Pancho and the jolly, “Yes, Mizzus” depiction of Eddie Sweat, who’s not quite, but almost, a “magical Negro” in the film. I just took greater umbrage with the film’s castration of feminist issues.

5. I wrote a longer piece about this which I ended up not pushing out, but I am just really feeling done right now with engaging in a lot of blog discussions/arguments. I’m tired of how ugly and personal that shit gets, of how people will say hurtful, mean things when they’re shielded by the relative safety of internet space that they would never say if they were face-to-face with someone.

I love social networking. It’s how I stay in touch with most of my far-flung work colleagues between fests and to a large extent Facebook in particular I use to filter things I might be interested in reading more about that I otherwise not know about.

I do not love the pissing in the sandbox bullshit that permeates a lot of what used to be smart, intellectual discussion space on many of the film blogs I read regularly, and I’ve decided to take a bit of a hiatus from commenting, or even allowing myself to get drawn into reading, those discussions that turn into sniping or shallow pettiness. It feels good not to get emotionally engaged in the insular drama of this industry for awhile.

6. Also: Forgot to mention, the final Harry Potter films will NOT be in 3-D. Which is about the best news we’ve had in a couple months.

A couple things I should probably care about more than I do:

1. Carl Icahn and Lionsgate going to court. Vaguely aware of this, but not enough to have a particular interest in the outcome.

2. Oscars moving to January. I mean, I do care about this from the standpoint of any impact it might have on my job. But I don’t have any emotional investment otherwise about Oscar, so long as it doesn’t interfere with Sundance.

Caught up with, but kind of wish I hadn’t…

More discussion about Armond White.? Really? Can we just get a moratorium on him, please? If you think he’s crazy but worth reading, awesome. Read him. If you think he’s crazy and not worth reading, don’t fuel the fire or interest others in reading him by drawing attention to him.

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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