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Mike Wilmington

By Mike Wilmington

MW on Movies: Tangled, Burlesque and White Material

Tangled (Three Stars)

U.S.: Nathan Greno, Byron Howard, 2010

I don’t know: Maybe I’m going though my second childhood. But, these days, very often, the kids’ movies coming out of the big studios (and I mean mostly the cartoon features) seem and look to me so much brighter, funnier, more entertaining — hell, so much more adult — than the supposedly adult comedies, concocted and targeted for supposed adults. (Don’t get me started.)

That goes for Pixar, for DreamWorks, for Warners, and it even goes for some French language knockouts like Sylvain Chomet’s The Triplets of Belleville, and Michel Ocelot‘s marvelous African-set Kirikou and the Sorceress and Kirikou and the Wild Beasts. (Of course, in France, they take care of the adult audiences too.) And it also goes for the long time American animation champ, Walt Disney Studios, which wipes up the new adult U. S. competition this week with their new 3D fairytale feature Tangled.

It‘s the latest movie for part of the team from Bolt, writer Dan Fogleman, director Byron Howard and Howard’s new co-director Nathan Greno (who was story supervisor on Bolt), a funny-animal road comedy that was brassy and sassy in a Looney-Tunesish way and made a lot of money. This one, the Disney Studio’s 50th cartoon feature, which tries to bend the best of the old classic Disney with the three-dimensional, digital, computerized new, is far more ambitious.

Tangled has a ripe, rounded, ultra-colorful look — like the Pixar movies, it’s both playful and expert — and it’s all about that sturdy Grimm Brothers lass, Rapunzel (Mandy Moore). It‘s about her 70 flabbergasting, glorious feet of golden hair and the huge imprisoning tower in which she‘s spent 18 claustrophobic years, with her witch of a “mother” Gothel (Donna Murphy).

And it hauls on stage an Errol Flynnish handsome rogue of a dashing rascal named Flynn Rider (Zachary Levi), and all the funny animals and grotesque but lovable thugs and daffy creatures of the enchanted forest whom Rap and Flynn meet on her magical quest to reach and revel in the beautiful lights and castle of the kingdom‘s distant and beautiful city.

Unbeknownst to Rap is the fact that she was kidnapped as a babe by the woman who now masquerades as her mother: evil, glamorous Gothel, a second cousin to the evil, glamorous witch-turned crone of Disney’s 1937 classic “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.“ Gothel here becomes a show-stopping villainess, with Broadway pipes (Murphy has won two Tonys), and she covets the restorative powers in Rapunzel’s magic hair, a secret ingredient that has kept Gothel young (or so we learn from the prologue) for ages.

That’s the Grimm/Disney setup. Among the other Disneyfied elaborations are two fellow rogues, the Stabbington Brothers (one Stab voiced by Ron Perlman), burly thieves who are chasing Flynn for the loot they all stole and that he ran off with; some ogre-ish but warm-hearted thugs and brutes pounding their ale-mugs in the nearby boisterous tavern (including a “Big Nose Thug,” voiced by Jeffrey Tambor, and a “Hook Hand Thug” spoken by Brad Garrett); a persistent white stallion who keeps pursuing Flynn even when the horse’s Palace Guardsman falls off; and Rapunzel‘s silent, nameless but very frisky chameleon.

There are also a brace of snappy, poppy, semi-showstopping songs, composed by Alan Menken (a perfect Disney composer), with words by Glenn Slater (Home on the Range), who proves a reasonable substitute for Menken’s late lyricist-partner, Howard Ashman, a master of wordplay and Menken’s collaborator on the great kiddie Rodgers-and-Hart-ish song scores for The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast.

I was grateful for the songs, even though they‘re not as memorable a bunch as some Disney scores of the past. Recent cartoon features — Toy Story 3 and its Randy Newman numbers marvelously excepted — have tended to jettison song numbers and replace them by piling on more slapstick, jokes and action scenes. But cartoon features are a really splendid venue for songs and musical sequences — and that would seem particularly true for Disney, the studio that brought us “Someday My Prince Will Come” (later covered by Miles Davis) in Snow White, “When You Wish Upon a Star“ in Pinocchio, the “Pink Elephants“ Dance and “When I See an Elephant Fly“ in Dumbo and all those wondrous Leopold Stokowski-conducted Bach, Beethoven, Stravinsky, Dukas or Mussorgsky sequences in the 1940 Fantasia.

Some current critics, I’ve noticed, have argued that the song sequences in “Tangled” are unnecessary, and I suppose you could snip them out without sabotaging the story much. But you could excise all the songs and all the orchestral sequences in all the classics above (Fantasia excepted, of course), and still keep track of the story, and of whatever Pinocchio or Snow or little Dumbo was doing. Does anybody want to?

That’s why the seemingly against-the-trend casting of Mandy Moore, Zachary Levi and Donna Murphy in the three leads works so well here. Instead of the kind of movie actor superstars that have lately been popping up in cartoons, they’re all singers here (Murphy is a fantastic singer), and they all put across their numbers with style, pizzazz and lots of show biz verve.

I like it when a star actor gets a virtuoso shot in a n animated feature — a Steve Carell in Despicable Me, or an Ed Asner and a Christopher Plummer (in Up, or a Tom Hanks and Ned Beatty in Toy Story 3 — but it’s highly enjoyable too when a Moore (who has a scrumptious voice), or Levi (who’s dashing and roguish) or a Murphy (who has killer delivery) gets down to musical business.

After all, the entire modern cartoon resurgence, probably started the night that Roy Disney brought them back and that Ashman and Menken’s “Under the Sea” brought down the house in The Little Mermaid, at the previews. You had to be there to sense the joyous whoop and sheer wave of exhilaration that welled up in that crowd that night, greeted that song, and cheered on that fine crustacean band, led by Sam Wright as that swinging crab Sebastian (“Each little snail here, knows how to wail here…“)

Anyway: Tangled. Good lineup. Good tunes. Good hair day. Admittedly all this may not sound like such promising fare for anyone whose favorites movies are Citizen Kane, The Rules of the Game, Fanny and Alexander, Vertigo and The Godfather Trilogy, or anyone looking for something political or arty — but the latter should hie themselves off to White Material and as for the former, the Disney guys tangled me up anyway — and will probably entangle lots of paying customers as well.

I saw Tangled right before screenings of Burlesque a supposedly adult musical comedy with stripteasers, sex, booze and big hot numbers (and a good cast, topped by Cher and Christine Aguilera, to sing them) and Faster, a supposed adult neo-noir thriller, with multiple murders, an ex-con on the rampage, and a heroin-addicted cop on his trail (with a good cast, topped by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Billy Bob Thornton, to kill each other) and, by comparison, both movies seemed under-written, shallow and sometimes childish and, in Burlesque’s case, pretty dopey. Aw, like I said, don’t get me started.

Tangled, on the other hand — for all its jokes about its cutie-pie heroine’s multi-purpose hair (used variously in the movie as manacles, whip, lash, escape-rope, mop, blanket, hideaway and erotic come-on), is cleverly written and visualized (much cleverer than that recent promising but disappointing live-action romantic comedy, ), visually inventive (well, “Faster“\cener was sometimes snazzy too), well-acted, and mercifully devoid of cute little bunnies, and tricksy little pixies. Or of cute little strippers and tricky little killers either.

This movie — which was produced by Roy Conli (who pops up in the cast list as an “additional voice”) and executive produced by Mr. Pixar himself, John Lasseter, and Glen Keane (whose name is on lots of Disney animation from 1977‘s Pete‘s Dragon on) — tries to live up to its landmark position as Disney cartoon Feature Number Fifty, attempting to be a culminating work, a fusion of Disney‘s lucrative digital present with its glorious classic-animation, line-drawing past.

Tangled is both a reprise of the formula Walt and The Disney Studio had down pat in the ‘30;s ‘40s, and ‘50s — the style that resulted in the heyday of the prime fairytale or storybook features like Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Pinocchio, Dumbo, Bambi, Cinderella, Peter Pan and Sleeping Beauty” — and a clever, but never too consciously showy, display of the techniques and technology that hook audiences now.

For me, it works. The Princess and the Frog, last year’s Musker-Clements Disney throwback, used line-drawing again, and I thought it looked and played fine too. (I’d like to see more, and nobody is in a better position to experiment in all directions now as the Lasseter-led Disney.) There’s 3D in Tangled, but it doesn’t slam you in the eyes, even though it still bleeds off a lot of screen brightness. Some of the effects, like the glowing lights Rapunzel yearns for, hovering dreamily above the water by the castle, have an almost impressionistic, Debussyesque softness.

There’s digital stuff, but it melds seamlessly with the old style archetypal Disney character gallery of princess/hero/witch/funny-animals/villains/boobs-and-buffoons. The dialogue has a storybook lilt, but it also sports a wise-acre Tonight Show edge — with that last piece courtesy of the Warner Looney Tunes’ trademark anti-Disney bite and sarcasm that the studio gradually assimilated, kicked off by Roy Disney‘s studio renaissance on The Little Mermaid.

Anyway, if you’re good and stuffed by this Thanksgiving, and the days after and you don’t want any more turkey (or turkeys), and especially if you’re a family (of some sort), Tangled may be the perfect post-feed movie snack for you. Me, old Disney cartoon (and Looney tune) lover that I am, I liked almost everything about it. Except the title.



What the…heck is that? (It’s Thanksgiving, I know. Kids. Grandparents. No swearing.) This gal’s hair is almost always lush, endlessly versatile, rarely messed up. Tangled? What? What? It doesn’t mean a…darned thing. Why not Rapunzel, for … Pete’s sake. Rapunzel may sound weird or Germanic or something to some marketing ace somewhere. (“It won’t work, guys. ‘Rapunzel’ sounds like a Nazi hooker…I mean, like a Nazi lady.‘”) But, in this case, it’s the movie that makes the title, not vice versa.

You want people to think of Rapunzel, remember Rapunzel, fixate on Rapunzel. If not, why not call it “Rap?” Seriously. Or anything else. Tangled sounds like a, like a — I don‘t know — like a…flipping horror movie franchise or something. “The Tangled, Tortured and Twisted Trilogy.” “Night of the Unkempt Dead.“ What if they get spillover from Saw 3D, for Pete’s sake! Tangled! Ah, it’ll probably work anyway. Don’t me started …



Burlesque (Two Stars)

U.S.: Steve Antin, 2010

Cher: Boy can she sing! Christina Aguilera: Boy can she sing and dance! Stanley Tucci: Boy can he act! Burlesque: What a crock of high-gloss … crud. (It’s still Thanksgiving. Remember. At least for me.)

This is one of those “Oh, My God!“ movies. (Excuse me, “Oh my Gosh!“) Even if you don’t say it out loud, you’ll be thinking it every ten minutes or so, maybe every five minutes.

Steve Antin wrote and directed. (Wrote? Directed?) And Christina Aguilera is Ali, from Iowa, a girl with a dream. She makes it to L. A. She gets robbed. She finds the Gosh-darnedest place I ever saw allegedly in Hollywood — and I used to live there. It’s a show bar called “Burlesque,“ modeled on Cabaret and Chicago, with that great Cabaret alum emcee Alan Cumming as a greeter. He‘ll be wasted here, and I don’t mean on booze. (Oh, my God!)

Up on stage, somewhere in Hollywood (or maybe in Oz), there are barely dressed sexy girl dancers, without poles, lip-synching songs. Cher is up there as owner Tess, lip-synching Cher (herself), in a pretty good song called “Welcome to Burlesque” (the last time I had any hope for the movie). Soon we find that the club is full of sort-of striptease dancers who wear elaborate costumes, and lip-synch to Marilyn Monroe’s great “Diamonds are a Girl‘s Best Friend” number and other classics, while sort of stripping.

Everybody seems to have a number except Cumming, who doesn’t strip and who maybe couldn’t clear the Cabaret rights. (Oh, my God.)

Ali watches. She is entranced. (Oh, my God!) She wants to sing, to dance, to take it all off (or maybe put it all on) — which she did back in Iowa but all by herself, in a deserted bar. Tess is skeptical. (Why? She sings great.) But Ali, indomitable, just picks up a tray and just starts waitressing and gets hired. Meanwhile Tucci, as Sean the dresser/cohort/”Burlesque” jack of all trades , deals out snappy patter while zipping everyone up; for a brief fleeting minute or so way back when, he was a heterosexual and once bedded Tess, who still loves him. (Oh, my Gosh.)

Ali, still has no home. Never fear. Cutie-pie bartender Jack (Cam Gigandet, trying to Brad Pitt it up), to the rescue, offers his digs, recently vacated by his fiancée. Ali moves in, takes the couch. They don’t sleep together. (Oh, my God!) Somebody is about to foreclose a mortgage on Burlesque, and the evil rich guy Marcus (Eric Dane) wants to buy the place, put up condos. He also wants to sleep with Ali and he dates her up and takes her to his swanky digs in the hills, but she’s too busy occupying the couch and not sleeping with Jack.

One fateful night, another dancer tries to sabotage Ali‘s lip-synch act, but Ali saves the day by actually singing. Just like Christina Aguilera! She becomes a smash hit! Tess, inspired, throws together a new show, with live singing and the house band, in about a day. (Oh, my God!) It’s smash after smash, though there’s not much room in the club, and they chopped up Alan’s one song. But the editors put Ali on the cover of the L. A. Times Calendar section anyway, a venus so pretsigious and exclusive they once nixed potential cover subject Robert Altman for a location story on The Player. (I swear.)

Despite this howling success, the mortgage is still due. Ali is still on Jack’s couch. Marcus is still hot to trot and he‘s furrowing his brow and bragging about his millions and his philanthropy. Tess’s old partner throws a drunken fit. Tess yells “I don’t want to put any more tequila on your cornflakes!“ (Savor that line; It’s the best they’ve got.) But one other fateful night, Jack puts on red jammies with little white things, does a strip, and holds a box of Famous Amos cookies over his thingie. (Oh, My God!)

Well, you get the drift. If you want to see this, go ahead. As Mad Magazine once said, “It’s crackers to slip a rozzer the dropsy in snide.“ (Or words to that effect.) The music is by Christophe Beck. The musical numbers are all pretty good (though I‘d like more Cher), but not worth suffering through the rest for. Wait for the DVD, so you can just play the songs and skip the drama, the comedy, the mortgage foreclosure, the tequila and cornflakes and Jack‘s red jammies. As they say in Chinatown, I’m doing you a favor — and that’s even if you love Cher, Christina, Tucci and Famous Amos chocolate chip cookies. Lip-synched. (Oh, my God!)


White Material (Four Stars)

France: Claire Denis, 2009

We are somewhere in West Africa. A slight, pretty Frenchwoman in a thin pinkish-white sundress with a spray of freckles on her pale face, scurries from place to place as her world shatters and falls apart around her. Government troops are massing or leaving; gangs of boy soldiers roam the woods, the local mayor (William Nadylam) has turned mean and opportunistic, a charismatic rebel leader named the Boxer (Isaac de Bankole) has been found dead and then …

And then puzzlingly, we see that the woman’s white dress has changed to a dark-and-light patterned blouse and skirt, the present to the past (or to the future?). Things keep changing. The local soldiers, as they depart in helicopters, tell her in utter exasperation to escape with them and save herself. (She refuses). The Boxer is suddenly alive, meeting the woman at her coffee farm, staying there. A complex, off-kilter network of flashbacks and flash-forwards and flashes-sideways-in-time, begin pushing the story on.

This endlessly energetic woman jogging, walking, running, driving through it all, in seemingly constant restless motion, propelled forward and back by the crises around her and by the non-linear leaps of the story, jumping on busses packed with the frightened citizenry, or whizzing back and forth in a truck from her farm to the town, is Maria Vial (Isabelle Huppert) — whose family owns a coffee plantation in that unnamed African country.

Her father-in-law Henri (Michel Subor, who long ago was in Godard‘s Le Petit Soldat and Hitchcock‘s Topaz) is old, ill-looking. Her handsome beaten-looking husband, Andre (Christophe Lambert) has given up, and unbeknownst to Maria, is trying to sell their farm to the mayor. Her son Manuel (Nicolas Duvauchelle) is an indolent, selfish, worthless pretty boy, with Oblomovian bed habits, whom fate will turn into a monster. Most of her servants and workers have left (in the past), and she pluckily recruits new bean-pickers. Ominously, the soldiers, and a local jabbering disc jockey, keep repeating the phrase “white material,” which refers to the trinkets and belongings and property of the settlers, and also to the settlers themselves, to her, Maria.

As this little world plunges toward chaos or rebirth or both, the “white material,” like the coffee, is more and more at risk, ripe for the picking. What drives Maria on — in this perilous, crumbling hell, where child soldiers sleep with stuffed toys, rebels swarm though the woods, soldiers flee in helicopters, a friendly pharmacist and his wife lie slaughtered on the floor of their store, and Maria’s own son Marcel shaves his hair, stuffs it in a servant’s mouth, and runs amok with a rifle, laughing — is partly the inertia of the constant runner, partly some weird optimism and determination, partly a seemingly unshakable sense of entitlement, and maybe partly madness.

How can she believe, with such crazy awesome resolve, that she will be able to still function and thrive, even harvest a coffee bean crop, in this world gone crazier than she?

Things Fall Apart, African author Chinua Achebe once titled a book. Yes. They do. Whatever happens here, we know — as Maria apparently does not — that things now will get worse, things will fall apart, perhaps more will suffer and die, as — defying all reason, all sanity — she continues to jog, to walk, to run, to drive, to hop aboard, to clutch at the world whirling past, and eventually …


… to stand appalled in the wreckage, in an unseen fire of hatred that will envelop and maybe consume her.


That great French actress, Isabelle Huppert, and the superb French filmmaker, Claire Denis, have made one of the film masterpieces of the year in White Material, a movie experience so moving, frightening and fine, that watching it puts your nerves on edge, your heart on ice, and your mind on fire. This is probably my favorite Claire Denis film, and I‘ve seen almost all of them (though I’d like to see again Chocolat, her other film on an African coffee plantation). And this is one of my favorite Huppert performances as well. I haven’t seen all of them, of course — one wonders if Huppert has herself — but I‘ve seen dozens. She‘s never bad, often great. Here, she surpasses herself. I will never forget Maria Vial, her tense, frayed face and her thin summer dress.

Huppert is one of France‘s most famous actresses, a critic‘s darling. Denis is a critic‘s darling too — like Huppert, trapped in the art-houses (under art-house arrest, in a way) and ignored by the larger public. It’s a shame. White Material has the texture, narrative drive and experimental structure of a fine, offbeat, hallucinatory novel — by a Duras, a Celine, or a Faulkner. Denis, who renders her various worlds like a painter with a keen sense of good and evil, has always been wonderful with people in between, people splintering apart in quiet relentless crisis — such as the African immigrant family in the Paris of 35 Shots of Rum, the Melvillean desert soldiers of Beau Travail, or the white French family and black African servant (played by Bankole) of Chocolat. And these people, trapped in hell, here.

Inhabiting Maria, slipping inside her complex persona without artifice or strain, Huppert gives a performance sublimely real, memorable and riveting. Playing this brave, energetic, perhaps foolish woman, she‘s as scary as she was as Chabrol’s Violette Noziere, as real and raw as she was with Depardieu in Pialat’s Loulou, as vulnerable and poignant as she was in Goretta‘s Huppert hasn’t gotten any prizes for White Material yet, but, in a way, no prize is enough for what she does here. Easily, un-self-consciously, immaculately, she pulls us headlong into Maria‘s reckless self-absorption, her mad run-around with revolution and death, her rapprochement with chaos — creating a fascinating human being in extremis. She stuns us.

Easily, un-self-consciously, immaculately, she pulls us headlong into Maria‘s reckless self-absorption, her mad run-around, her rapprochement with chaos.

White Material deals, of course, with race, and it’s directed and co-written by Denis, a white woman who lived in this type of environment (not necessarily in this kind of crisis,) and who interacted with the Africans that her country and her class had robbed and pushed aside. The film though betrays no sign of racial bias, condescension or over-compensation; it treats the color differences without polemic or special pleading. This is what might happen, we feel, from both sides: the white (material) and the black.

Denis’ co-scenarist here is a French woman of mixed French and African (Senegalese) descent: the Prix Goncourt winning novelist Marie NDiaye. (NDiaye is a literary virtuoso, who wrote, at 21, a novel of 200 pages composed of a single sentence.) What the two writers have managed together is a portrait of a white woman, a French colonial (with whom they both obviously emphasize) and of a world of African people of color (with whom they also sympathize) that she thinks she knows, but doesn’t.

Maria remains a sympathetic character though, even if her husband Andre is not (he lacks Maria‘s spine and stamina) and even though their son, Marcel, proves rotten indeed, a psycho and sadist. It takes one act of violence to curdle Marcel’s soul, and though his mother both adores and maybe secretly deplores him, she also obviously helped make him what he is. When we see her trying to coax him from the bed in which he seems to have taken root and buried himself — and doesn’t even berate le petit con, the little jerk — we know why he’s gone wrong, and why others of his privileged generation, leeching off their parents, holding their “social inferiors“ in contempt or in “benign neglect,” have gone so wrong as well.


White Material is not an obviously preachy move, which is why it’s so powerful. The story, since we don’t feel a nudge or sense an agenda, keeps surprising us. Things happen that we don’t expect — such as the betrayal of Maria, the first spasms of violence, and the transformation of Marcel from lazy rich bum to murderous skinhead creep. Afterwards, it may seem inevitable; as we watch, it hits like a knife-thrust.


And because the writers don’t preach, but instead make their landscape and people come alive, the film ends by conveying an awful sense of alienation and despair. We feel for the Africans, the French, the helpless citizens and bystanders, even for the soldiers, rebels, officials, the children with guns, even perhaps for a fleeting second or two, for that bastard Marcel, all caught in a crucible of revolution.

We feel for the French, even though we know why they’re hated, because they’re people swimming and floundering in the maelstrom, and because Maria keeps trying so hard, chasing so ceaselessly, that we can’t help but admire and even love her. The movie is beautiful as a fine painting, haunting as a fine poem, yet real as a slap in the face. Bravo Claire Denis! Bravo Marie NDiaye! Bravo Isabelle!

Well, have I persuaded you to see this film? Listen: trust us all. Because it’s an arthouse movie, White Material probably won’t last long in your city. So find the film, find the theatre, draw a circle around the title. Why? Because few actress gave a better performance in a movie this year than Isabelle Huppert as Marie. Because few scenarists wrote better scripts than Denis and NDiaye. Few directors of photography caught the world and its sunlight and nightfall with such clarity as Yves Cape. And few moviemakers directed as well — as damned perfectly, shatteringly well — as Claire Denis.

Go see White Material while you can — because it’s great, its rare, because it might not be around too long, because it has the feel of today and a quality of timelessness. And see it because this movie shows us something very well, that we should all remember better: That sometimes things — inexorably, inevitably — fall apart.

(In French, with English subtitles.)

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2 Responses to “MW on Movies: Tangled, Burlesque and White Material”

  1. joshua black says:

    Well I enjoyed the review for Tangled and it probably has me convinced to see it in the multiplex, I don’t see the need to criticize the title. Is it because you only gave it three stars and thus needed to add some sort of negative commentary to justify the rating? Why don’t you just have some confidence and give it four stars? Everything about this review says four stars to me except for the “spoiler” (what spoiler?). I sense too much trepidation and self-consciousness here. Besides, with just one or two viewings of the trailer, I completely buy the title. The whole whimzified feel of the hero trying and failing to be the one wearing the pants with the heroine (is it Rapunzel? – Is that the spoiler? – Don’t we all assume it anyway?)is so tangled up and even reminiscient of the Tango! It’s like they said in Scent of a woman, “if you get tangled up, you just tango on”.

  2. Baskerin says:

    It’s Disney’s idea to promote the movie to boys. There’s nothing wrong with that, but the title “Tangled” is silly, and it’s a silly gimmick. I still prefer “Rapunzel.”


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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.”
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