MCN Columnists
Gary Dretzka

By Gary Dretzka

The DVD Wrapup: Dangerous Method, Broken Tower, Delta… More

A Dangerous Method: Blu-ray
To laymen, the vernacular of psychoanalysis often sounds as if it were invented simply to maintain some hierarchical distance between patients and their doctors. The closest most people get to a couch is in a Woody Allen movie and the results don’t often speak well for the science. With all due respect for Mr. Freud’s teachings, sometimes a train entering a tunnel in a dream simply means the invisible engineer is attempting to get to the other side of an impediment. In David Cronenberg’s fascinating “A Dangerous Method,” we watch three brilliant people — Sigmund Freud (Viggo Mortensen), Carl Gustav Jung (Michael Fassbender) and Sabina Spielrein (Keira Knightley) – explore places in the mind that are as deeply hidden as the rusted hulk of the Titanic once was. While Freud and Jung’s names are familiar to most educated people, Spielrein may only be known to post-graduate students and documentary buffs who’ve stumbled upon Elisabeth Marton’s illuminating “My Name Was Sabina Spielrein” (Facets Video). “A Dangerous Method” opens in 1904, upon the hugely troubled young woman’s forced placement in a clinic in which Jung is attempting to put his mentor’s theories into practice. A Russian Jew from a wealthy family, Spielrein’s gift is locked behind a thick wall of anger, repressed memories and sexual mania. Employing Freud’s “talking cure” to uncover points of entry into her dreams, Jung gets his reluctant patient to sit still long enough explain how the beatings applied by her abusive father triggered sexual urges that confused and disturbed her. Jung’s willingness to probe corners of Spielrein’s mind that other specialists consider to be off-limits helps clears a path for her recovery and emergence as a formidable therapist. Although Jung’s success validates Freud controversial theories, his inability to rein in his own libido represents an ethical breach that ultimately will drive a wedge between the two men.

Unlike most of Cronenberg’s movies, the violence here is largely limited to the incoming patient’s confrontational behavior and Jung’s shocking willingness to replicate the whippings Spielrein endured at her father’s hands. It unclogs a blocked sexual artery in Spielrein and causes Jung to re-evaluate his personal and professional ethics and marriage to the independently wealthy analyst, Emma. It is at this point in the movie that another former student of Freud, the rebellious hedonist Otto Gross (Vincent Cassel), convinces Jung that it would be counterproductive to sublimate his own sexual urges. As finely tuned and wonderfully acted as “A Dangerous Method” is, it’s difficult to recommend it to anyone without at least a passing interest in psychoanalysis and psychiatry. Christopher Hampton’s adaptation of his own play is talky and much of the dialogue is medical in nature. There are places in “A Dangerous Method” where fans of Cronenberg’s previous films will want Mortensen to break out of his muted characterization of Freud and kick the crap out of Jung, who deserves a good thrashing. The kinky sex is limited to the aforementioned whippings and a brief nip-slip, so admirers of “Crash” and “Eastern Promises” likely will be disappointed here, as well. On the plus side, the story is undeniably compelling and Cronenberg’s team has conjured a fin-de-siecle Vienna that is as rich and tasty as a chocolate cake from the Café Sacher. To this end, the Blu-ray featurettes are essential viewing. They describe the hard work that went into the sets and costumes, as well as the development of the story. – Gary Dretzka

The Broken Tower
Compared to James Franco’s impressionistic profile of the important, if difficult poet Hart Crane, in “The Broken Tower,” Cronenberg’s psychoanalytic “A Dangerous Method” might as well be a “Roadrunner” cartoon. Poetry is difficult enough to translate into film, without also introducing a protagonist who’s openly gay in an intolerant society (but sleeps with a woman once, at least); a drunk capable of great metaphorical clarity; and a distinctly American writer who often felt more at home on foreign soil. As an actor, Franco is nearly as difficult to pin down. Like Johnny Depp and Tilda Swinton, he’s the rare performer who can play mad and frivolous in one movie and deadly serious the next. Neither is he afraid to compound the expectations of fans and the media, who only want easy answers to their questions about his sexual preferences, willingness to dull the luster of his Academy Award nomination by acting in daytime soap operas and put his career on hold while pursuing advanced academic degrees. In “Howl,” Franco portrayed the beat poet Allen Ginsberg at a pivotal juncture in his career. Compared to Crane, Ginsberg might as well be Jerry Seinfeld. Both poets were homosexual, rebellious and possessed complex personalities. Ginsberg lived to the ripe old age of 70, long enough to experience several social and cultural reformations and the blossoming of queer culture. Crane died at 32, largely uncelebrated, after jumping or falling from the fantail of a ship in the Gulf of Mexico. His body was never recovered. (Ironically, Crane’s father had invented Life Saver candy, which resembles the kind of buoy that might have saved his son’s life.)

Franco, who also wrote and directed “The Broken Tower,” divides his biopic into “Voyages,” after one of Crane’s most erotically charged poems. He bases much of the desperately sad story on the scholarship of biographer Paul Mariani and his own scholastic research. Contrary to what’s posited in the tabloid press, Franco is no sometime-scholar or flake. Besides a bachelor’s degree in fine arts from UCLA, he has two MFA degrees — both in writing — from Columbia and Brooklyn College, and a third MFA, in film, from New York University. Cinematically, “Broken Tower” owes a great deal to John Cassavetes and other independent filmmakers unafraid to break the mold when they feel it necessary to do so. It isn’t an easy movie to absorb in one sitting, especially if one isn’t committed to an appreciation of poetry. It does, however, challenge viewers to consider what it was like to be poet when poetry mattered as much as any art form. Franco set the movie in New York, Mexico and Paris, all haunts of the writer, as far away from away from Crane’s native Ohio as money and time would allow. Commentary is provided by Franco, producer Vince Jolivette and cinematographer Christina Voros; and Franco interviews several Crane scholars, via Skype. – Gary Dretzka

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close: Blu-ray
Finding fault with a movie in which a precocious 9-year-old boy attempts to make sense of his father’s death inside the World Trade Center on 9/11 would be as cruel an exercise as stomping an unwanted puppy or kitten. So, I won’t bother, except to say that some viewers will come away from “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” feeling as manipulated as the many critics who did voice their disappointment. In his debut performance, young Thomas Horn plays Oskar Schell, the boy who comes to believe that his delightfully eccentric dad (Tom Hanks) left clues to a task which needs to be completed if his soul is ever to rest in peace. It arrives in the form of the key he finds in a broken vase, along with a vague reference to the name of its possible owner. Without telling his still distraught mother (Sandra Bullock) of his plans, Oskar enlists the help of a mysterious mute “Renter” (Max Von Sydow), who lives across the street with his grandmother. Together, they scour the boroughs in an effort to contact everyone with the surname, Black. Further driving Oskar are guilt feelings over his refusal to answer his phone as his father tried to reach him before and after the collapse of the towers. It would be a difficult enough task for an adult to accomplish, but only in Hollywood could a boy and an 80-year-old man realize success in 129 minutes.

Despite the large number of suspensions of disbelief director Stephen Daldry (“The Reader,” “Billy Elliot”) demands of his audience, “Extremely Loud” doesn’t allow his audience much time to worry about them. A hectic pace is maintained throughout, even in flashback interludes that define the boy’s relationship to his father. Horn and Von Sydow make a terrific team, even if the old man’s background remains a question mark. Hanks is fine as the extroverted parent, but it’s the kind of role we’ve seen him play many times in his long career. As Oskar’s mother, Bullock isn’t given much to do or say until the very end of the movie, when the character makes an essential, if equally unbelievable revelation to her son and viewers. Eric Roth’s screenplay gives a fair reading of Jonathan Safran Foer’s novel, I think, and New York plays its part quite well. “Extremely Loud” is likely to test the patience of even the most loyal viewers, but those willing to stick with it probably won’t mind being manipulated all that much. The Blu-ray package includes commentary by Daldry, Hanks, Bullock and John Goodman, who offers a bit of connective tissue as the family’s doorman; a piece on Horn’s journey from being a contestant on “Jeopardy!” to star of the movie; a 44-minute interview with Von Sydow; and a short profile of a character who died in the collapse of the towers, but whose inspiration message lives on a decade later. – Gary Dretzka

In the Land of Blood and Honey
The first question that anyone familiar with the pedigree of “In the Land of Blood and Honey” will ask is about Angelina Jolie’s ability to direct a drama in which she doesn’t also star. The answer: the Oscar presenter with the most famous right leg in Hollywood not only demonstrates a gift for direction, but her screenplay also stands up to close scrutiny. She avoids most of the landmines that could have upended the difficult and potentially divisive war movie and elicits terrific performances from actors working in their native tongue. Even today, it’s difficult to parse the elusive scraps of truth from the mounds of propaganda left behind in the wake of the stalemated Bosnian War. If the region is currently experiencing something resembling peace, it could disappear in a heartbeat if and when international peacekeepers split the scene. While the Bosnian Serbs are painted in the darkest possible colors here, the seeds of war and atrocious behavior were planted long ago, in conflicts dominated by the Muslim majority and Croatian fascists aligned with the Nazis, as well as the Turks, Austrian and Bulgarians before them. Jolie has chosen not to focus on the political decisions that led to the Bosnian, preferring to indict those who used rape and terror as weapons and, by extension, continue to do so in Africa and other war zones. In a country populated by followers of three different religions, everyone believed God was on their side. “Land of Blood and Honey” suggests early on that God had decided to sit this conflagration out. The cruelty on display demonstrated that civilization hadn’t progressed much from the days when, as the Old Testament teaches, rape, pillage and plunder not only were commonplace, but also demand by the deity. The war crimes tribunal found evidence of atrocities in all three sectors.

“Land of Blood and Honey,” then, is as sad and depressing a statement on moral relativism and intolerance as we’ve seen outside the documentary arena. In setting up her story, Jolie returns to the period when members of all three ethnic groups – or those born after WWII, anyway – worked, partied and served their country together. Serbian soldier Danijel (Goran Kostić) and Bosniak artist Ajla (Zana Marjanović) meet in a popular nightclub, but their budding romance is put on hold when a bomb tears the place apart and war begins. They meet again when dozens of women and children are rounded up and imprisoned in an abandoned school. Just after the first rape occurs there, Danijel interrupts a soldier about to mount Ajla from behind. As a senior officer, he appears to claim her for his own personal amusement. Naturally, she’s in no mood to rekindle their fire, fearing him as much as the other Serbs. She comes around as protects her from the systematic rapes, but doesn’t demand anything in return. Danijel tells his men that she’s painting his portrait, while servicing his sexual desires, and she’s off-limits to them. After he orders them to find paints, canvas and easel for her to use, Ajla and Danijel become lovers. Things get extremely complicated after his father (Rade Šerbedžija), a commander in the breakaway army, demands that his son get rid of his Muslim roommate, one way or the other. Like almost every Serb in the former Yugoslavia, the old man’s memory extends past the horrors of World War II, to 1389 and the Battle of Kosovo. Shot on location in Bosnia and Hungary, “Blood and Honey” has an extremely convincing look. Many of the actors lived through the war and have distinct memories of the violence and deprivation. If some of the political and cultural aspects of the war aren’t made precisely clear, what’s inarguable is the integrity of the performances and Jolie’s passion. The Blu-ray adds deleted scenes, a Q&A with Jolie and extensive making-of material. Oh, yeah, the DVD comes in English and the Blu-ray offers a track in the native tongue. – Gary Dretzka



Devotees of spectacular cinematography, especially, will want to invest time in a screening of “Delta,” a disturbing Hungarian drama set among the lush and fertile wetlands of the Danube Delta. The way Mátyás Erdély’s camera lingers on natural phenomena recalls the haunting imagery that distinguishes the Terrence Malick, Bela Tarr and Andrei Tarkovski. In Hungarian director Kornél Mundruczó’s film, depictions of the area’s natural beauty run contrary to the ugliness of the local male population, whose only mission in life appears to be diminishing the potential for happiness in others. Their targets in “Delta” are a young man, who, after a long absence, returns to his home town with some money in his pocket and a dream of constructing a home on stilts on a lake where is father once fished. After being introduced to a half-sister he’s never met, they decide to work together on the project, even knowing that the geezers who idle away their days in their mother’s tavern will accuse them of incest. Nevertheless, the possibility of finding happiness, freedom and sanctuary in a location so richly blessed is too much to resist. It also provides the fools in the town sufficient reason to despise and plot against them. It would be easy to blame their intolerance solely on the likelihood that the couple is breaking the law of God and man, but Mundruczó leaves vague the extent of the couple’s sexual attraction to each other. There’s clearly an instant rapport between Mihail and Fauna. He comforts her after she’s raped by her brutal pig of a stepfather and anticipates their housewarming party, as if they’re a couple. It is the audacity of their invitation, perhaps, that causes the villagers to believe they’re putting on airs and, therefore, deserve a comeuppance. We know that’s not the case, but it would be impossible for the lard heads to discern the difference between hospitality and arrogance. That it all plays out in such a splendid setting is all the more upsetting. “Delta” won the International Critics’ Prize and was nominated for the Golden Palm at the 2008 Cannes festival. It stars Felix Lajko and Orsi Toth in roles that were short on dialogue, but long on physicality. The original soundtrack by Felix Lajko also is noteworthy. The set includes three interesting shorts. – Gary Dretzka

Casablanca: 70th Anniversary Limited Collector’s Edition: Blu-ray
In this week’s edition of “Can There Ever Be Too Much of Good Thing When It Comes to Re-Releases of Classics on DVD and Blu-ray?,” we offer for your consideration, “Casablanca: 70th Anniversary Limited Collector’s Edition,” from Warner Home Video. It’s entirely likely that viewers of a certain age already own copies Michael Curtiz’ great romance in several different formats and special editions, dating back to the era of Beta, VHS and Laserdisc. Given that “Casablanca” has been available on DVD for almost 14 years and on Blu-ray since 2008, with a brief appearance on HD-DVD in 2006, it could easily be argued that the company is trying to milk a dry cow. It’s also a staple on cable’s TCM channel, widely available via subscription services and pay-for-view outlets and, last week, was exhibited on the big screen in select markets. That’s a lot of exposure for a 69½ -year-old product. Even so, we’re talking about “Casablanca” here, folks, and there’s almost always something to crow about in subsequent iterations and new generations to enchant. The same holds true with the latest edition.

Even those Blu-ray enthusiasts who couldn’t explain the difference between 1080i, 1080p and 720p should be able to grasp how much better the new edition looks and sounds, thanks to an all-new 4K scan of the master, a closely monitored frame-by-frame restoration and 1080p/AVC-encoded MPEG 4 video transfer, backed by a lossless DTS-HD Master Audio track. What that boils down to is recognition of the fact that no matter how good the 2008 Blu-ray edition was, the 2012 upgrade makes “Casablanca” a more satisfying experience for everyone. I’m not very sophisticated technologically, but Roger Ebert’s commentary provided me with another reason to look deeper into the picture quality. He recalled sitting with cinematographer Haskell Wexler during a screening and learning how Arthur Edeson photographed Ingrid Bergman to make her face look thinner and body less statuesque than usual, so as not to tower over Humphrey Bogart. He also described how inventive deployments of shade and light were used to make Rick’s nightclub more credible as a hotbed of intrigue and give his upstairs office a different personality with each new visitor. The restoration and technical upgrade make it easier than ever to understand Wexler’s observations. Viewers with more sensitive ears than mine will relish the fact that the dialogue sounds more natural than in previous versions and the Max Steiner’s score sounds cleaner than it’s ever been.

The limited and numbered “Giftset” includes a full-size reproduction of the original 1942 film poster; a 62-page production art book, with rarely seen photos, personal memos and archival documents about the production; four drink coasters in a faux-leather jacket; and a three-disc Digipak, containing a Blu-ray edition of the movie, a second BD disc, with ; and a DVD copy. New on the first disc are “Warner Night at the Movies,” which replicates the audience’s experience in 1942”; “Casablanca: An Unlikely Hero,” with this testimony from contemporary filmmakers; and audio-only “Vox Pop Radio Broadcast,” which includes a behind-the-scenes “listen” with Jack Warner. Disc 2 is comprised of the documentaries “You Must Remember This: The Warner Bros. Story,” “The Brothers Warner” and “Jack L. Warner: The Last Mogul.” Most of the material included in the bonus package on Disc 1 goes back to the 2003 DVD upgrade, 2006 HDTV and 2008 “Ultimate Collector’s Edition.” – Gary Dretzka

A Night to Remember: Criterion Collection: Blu-ray
I’m pretty sure that I’ll skip the new 3D edition of “Titanic,” when it sails into my local megaplex on Friday. It’s not that I dislike James Cameron’s movie or have anything against 3D. It’s just, after watching all the DVDs released and rereleased to commemorate the centennial of its sinking, I feel as if I’ve actually sailed halfway across the Atlantic and ice floes are gathering around me. The good news, though, is that the 1958 “A Night to Remember” has been given a facelift and shipped out again in hi-def by Criterion. If I had watched it first, I could have skimmed through Discovery’s “100th Anniversary Collection,” Mill Creek’s “The Definitive Documentary Collection” and History’s “The Complete Story,” and ignore the three docs yet to come. I’m surprised the Fox hasn’t released a Blu-ray version of the melodramatic 1953 “Titanic,” with Barbara Stanwyck and Clifton Webb, although it’s currently available on VOD outlets. Directed by Roy Ward Baker and adapted from Walter Lord’s book by Eric Ambler, “A Night to Remember,” benefits from a straight-forward approach to the tragedy and judicious deployment of only a few subplots. It’s obvious that Cameron relied largely on Lord’s research for the non-fiction elements of his blockbuster and the author couldn’t possibly have been cognizant of evidence revealed 50 years later by men using submersibles to probe the ship.

Baker’s version of the story is told from the point of view of 2nd Officer Charles Herbert Lightoller (Kenneth More), the most senior of the RMS Titantic’s deck officers to survive the disaster. With the exception of the crew members who followed insane orders prohibiting passengers in steerage from passing through first- and second-class quarters, the heroes of “A Night to Remember” are those who kept their heads about them and helped as many people as possible to reach the inadequate supply of lifeboats. The goat is the captain of the nearby SS Californian, Stanley Lord, who instructed his officers to ignore rockets and Morse-lamp signals from the Titanic and let him sleep. The Criterion Collection edition includes commentary by historians Don Lynch and Ken Marschall; an hour-long British TV documentary about the making of the film; the U.S. and British theatrical trailers; a Swedish documentary on the 50th anniversary, with interviews with three survivors; and a 25-minute interview from 1990 with survivor Eve Hart. – Gary Dretzka

David Lean Directs Noel Coward: Criterion Collection: Blu-ray
It’s difficult to imagine any movies being made in Engla, nd during the war years, 1942-45, considering the constant threat of Nazi bombers, nightly blackouts, the enlisting of actors and lack of raw material for sets. I was surprised, then, to learn that David Lean had collaborated four times with playwright Noel Coward during this turbulent period. Lean, of course, would become known chiefly for such historical epics as “Lawrence of Arabia,” “Bridge on the River Kwai,” “Doctor Zhivago,” “Ryan’s Daughter” and “Passage to India,” while Coward was a kind of Renaissance man famous for his sharp wit, dapper dress and first-class tastes. After joining Coward as an editor on “In Which We Serve,” Lean was given an opportunity to direct the action sequences that, as an actor, he had little time to prepare and, as a playwright, wasn’t much interested in supervising. Lean would earn sole director’s credit in their next three collaborations, “This Happy Breed,” “Blithe Spirit” and “Brief Encounter.” Coward already was working at the top of his game and busy entertaining troops when the call came in for the war drama “In Which We Serve.” The patriotic film was inspired by the sinking of the destroyer HMS Kelly, commanded by his friend Lord Louis Mountbatten. A big hit on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean, it earned two Academy Award nominations in 1944 and a special Oscar a year earlier. The amazing thing about “In Which We Serve” is the ability of the producers to construct a set that so resembled a fighting ship, with so few resources and combat footage available to them. Even if it’s possible to recognize the seams in the plywood and paint, the picture remains captivating.

This Happy Breed” chronicles the affairs of a working-class family, living in the London suburbs, in the decades between the wars. The Technicolor picture effectively blends political upheaval with topical news events and domestic melodrama. This includes labor strife, the rise of the fascism in Britain and reaction to the Neville Chamberlain’s non-aggression pact with Adolf Hitler. It occurs against a familiar background of familial highs and lows, including one daughter’s declaration of independence from traditional ways of doing things and a friend’s undying loyalty to her. At 105 minutes. “This Happy Breed” accomplishes things the television mini-series would be able to build on three decades later.

Coward didn’t particularly like Lean’s interpretation of “Blithe Spirit,” in which a successful author agrees to participate in a séance, strictly as research for his next book, and is made a believer through circumstances beyond the control even of the medium. The ending was changed while he was in New York and some of the characters’ personalities were altered to fit a distinctly comic tone. Neither did he approve of the choice of debonair Rex Harrison to play the protagonist, who he envisioned quite differently. His Charles Condomine is a chap who wears a tuxedo to dinner and whose wealth provides a buffer to the cares of the world. To the author’s great surprise and disappointment, he is visited by his late wife, who finds herself trapped between dimensions. His current wife, Ruth, is none too pleased, either, as Charles comes to enjoy exchanging barbs with his extremely sarcastic ex and stays up all night doing so. Neither do things work out as planned when Ruth revisits the medium (Margaret Rutherford), hoping to exorcise the “old girl,” as Charles refers to Elvira. The special effects look prehistoric today, but are fun to watch, nonetheless. The project didn’t get off on the right foot, because almost everyone involved thought less of the play than Coward. For his part, the playwright considered “Blithe Spirit” to be far less comedic than anyone else, including the audience. He envisioned a more ironic ending and more tragic overtones, and this was reflected years later in revivals.

Even so, Lean and Coward would collaborate again on “Brief Encounter,” a movie consistently listed alongside “Gone With the Wind” and “Casablanca” as the greatest romances in cinema history. Adapted from Coward’s “Still Life,” the movie chronicles the fleeting, if emotionally intense affair – possibly imaginary – between a married Buckinghamshire housewife (Celia Johnson) and a doctor (Trevor Howard) after a chance meeting on a train platform. The spectacular black-and-white cinematography adds a dramatic element that further separated the movie version from the play. It was Coward’s intention to show how such a momentous thing could happen to an “ordinary” woman, whose uneventful marriage had stalled in midstream. The doctor asks her to join him in his new posting in Africa, causing her to rethink everything she’s taken for granted. Typically, of course, such dangerous liaisons only occur among the upper-crust. Lean was in the processing of mastering the art of letting the camera say things that dialogue couldn’t express and he succeeds wonderfully. All four of the movies collected her represent high-definition digital transfers of the BFI National Archive’s 2008 restorations, with uncompressed monaural soundtracks on the Blu-ray editions. Coward scholar Barry Day adds informative background material at the end of each film and all feature interviews with cast and crew members, making-of featurettes and commentary. Also included is an episode of the British television series “The Southbank Show,” from 1992, on the life and career of Coward, and an audio recording of a 1969 conversation between Richard Attenborough and Coward at London’s National Film Theatre. A booklet features essays by Ian Christie, Terrence Rafferty, Farran Nehne, Geoffrey O’Brien and Kevin Brownlow. – Gary Dretzka

Romantics Anonymous
You can add the frothy French confection “Romantics Anonymous” to the list of food-centric movies that can’t help but provoke a sudden craving for something sweet and dark. As such, John-Pierre Ameris’ rom-com perfectly complements Lasse Hallstrom’s “Chocolat,” Alfonso Arau’s “Like Water for Chocolate,” Claude Chabrol’s “Thank You for the Chocolate,” “Willy Wonka/Charlie at the Chocolate Factory” and, yes, even “Forrest Gump.” The title doesn’t come right out and say it, but everything important in this dysfunctional love story takes place against a backdrop of the art and science of making chocolate. Jean-Rene (Benoit Poelvoorde) owns a chocolate company whose specialty product is facing stiff competition from smaller and more flexible chocolatiers. Jean-Rene may be able to run a company, but the thought of sitting across the table from a woman leaves him apoplectic. Angelique (Isabelle Carre) enters his life after her career as the anonymous creator of chocolates for a rival firm ends abruptly, with the death of her employer. Because of her fear of being in close proximity to strangers, she produced her delicacies in private and without credit. She takes a job with Jean-Rene’s company as a salesman, but yearns to prove herself as a top-flight chocolatier without also ruining her mentor’s reputation. Even though her emotional hang-ups keep her from committing to something as concrete as a relationship, she accepts a dinner date with her new boss. It ends hilariously in disaster. Angelique attends “émotif anonymes” meetings to deal with issues relating to her inability to connect with outsiders. At these meetings, she’s very supportive of her neurotic peers. The only other place Angelique feels comfortable is in the factory kitchen, where she pretends to be working off recipes transmitted to her by the same person who helped her former employer prosper. One former customer approves of the new treats so much that she suggests that Angelique enter them in an important competition. It forces Angelique and Rene to confront the probability of sleeping together.

If the happy ending seems completely inevitable, what happens in between their arrival at the contest and the end credits isn’t at all predictable. Blessedly, Ameris keeps us guessing right up to the moment when all such movies must succumb to sentimentality and viewers’ needs for a happy resolution. Even so, “Romantics Anonymous” is blessedly free of clichés and stereotypes. Carre is appropriately shy and withdrawn, while Poelvoorde is all ticks and flop sweat. Whoever was responsible for designing the chocolates knew what they were doing, as well. – Gary Dretzka

Trinity Goodheart
Soda Springs

Produced by ReelWorks Studios and the Gospel Music Channel, “Trinity Goodheart” is one of the more interesting faith-based, family-friendly movies I’ve seen lately. Most of the credit belongs to writer Rhonda Baraka, who knows the difference between a universal message and evangelical tub-thumping, and the title character, played by 12-year-old star of the future Erica Gluck. Joanne Hock’s compelling drama probably wouldn’t have found a home anywhere except a niche festival or cable television, but that’s not to say it doesn’t have a big heart. Trinity lives with her father, Jeremy (Eric Benoit), a musician who loses his girlfriend to the lure of the road and arguments with her parents over his value as a man and provider. Jeremy also is estranged from his father, a wealthy man who desires something more from his son than a career as an itinerant musician. Trinity is of mixed black-and-white heritage, which is a far larger problem for her maternal grandparents than Jeremy’s folks. Even so, she’s had no contact with any of them. After a quasi-religious experience, Trinity has developed a healthy curiosity about her roots and endeavors to make contact with her grandparents, despite her dad’s objections. Trinity has been visited by an angel, who leaves behind half a heart medallion that must have belonged to her mother. Trinity makes it her mission to mend the broken heart, hoping that it will lead directly to a re-connection with the troubled woman. Her journey isn’t an easy one, but it’s ultimately satisfying for almost everyone involved, including the audience. Trinity’s faith and perseverance is the glue that closes the fissures separating the warring parties. It helps, of course, that she has a couple of angels in her corner.

The bible makes an early appearance in “Soda Springs,” a contemporary Western in which an ex-con returns to his Idaho home to find redemption for his role in an accident that left several people dead. Even after spending eight years in prison, several residents of the small country town in which he grew up aren’t ready to accept him back home. They remember him as a wild youth whose day of reckoning eventually was going to come and it wouldn’t be pretty. Eden (Jay Pickett) recognized the heavenly light pouring in through the bars on his windows and turned his back on his wicked ways. No sooner does he arrive in town, however, than he is confronted by halfwit cops and the redneck thug married to his ex-girlfriend. He also is blindsided with the news that he’s the father of an 8-year-old boy. It should come as a surprise to no one that the bully doesn’t want to share the boy with Eden and warns him to stay away from him. If not, there will be hell to pay. “Salt Springs” has a nice sense of place and leisurely pace that’s in keeping with the western locale. Director Michael Feifer allows the tension between the two men to build to a point where it’s nearly unbearable and, then, let’s the steam out in way that should satisfy viewers, if not the man who first suggested we turn the other cheek to our enemies. “Soda Springs” isn’t nearly as polished or compelling as “Crazy Heart,” to which it bears a slight resemblance, but both movies share a common sensibility. And, like “Trinity Goodheart,” there’s a guardian angel looking over the shoulder of the protagonist. — Gary Dretzka

Breaking Wind: Unrated
Just in case you can’t guess the movie’s ongoing gag from the title, “Breaking Wind” is a spoof of the wildly popular “Twilight Saga” franchise and much of the humor, such as it is, derives from fart jokes. It was written and directed by Craig Moss, whose credits include “The 41-Year-Old Virgin Who Knocked Up Sarah Marshall and Felt Super Bad About It” and the comic short, “Saving Ryan’s Privates.” His latest effort borrows the template used to make “Eclipse,” in which Bella was required to choose between a vampire and a werewolf for her eternal love interest. Her indecision caused quite a disturbance in that film, but led to the lovely wedding and terrifying delivery of a monster in “Breaking Dawn.” Both “Breaking Dawn” and “Breaking Wind” will be of interest only to “Twilight” fanatics. For the record, Bella is played here by Heather Ann Davis, while Eric Callero and Frank Pacheco assume the roles of Edward and Jacob. Put this movie alongside last week’s “The Legend of Awesomest Maximus” and you have two of the least funny straight-to-DVD parodies in cinema history. – Gary Dretzka

Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked: Blu-ray
Assigning a movie critic to review every new entry in the “Alvin and the Chipmunks” series is like asking an Al Qaeda terrorist about to be water-boarded to answer the question, “sparkling, flat or tap?” It’s torture, either way. It’s also beside the point. In the third sequel since the series was revived in 2007 – 20 years after the big-screen Chipmunks were last put on hiatus – the series keeps rolling in the dough for Fox 2000, Regency and heirs to creator Ross Bagdasarian’s 1958 brainstorm, “The Chipmunk Song” (“Christmas, Don’t Be Late”). Would it surprise you to learn that “Chipwrecked” earned $132 million at the domestic box office last Christmas, against an estimated budget of $75 million? Revenues from international distribution, DVD/Blu-ray, CDs and plush toys are simply the icing on the cakes. Needless to say, the critics’ negative grades had virtually no impact on the kids or their moms and dads. Hey, it’s cute … almost irresistibly so. Here, Dave (Jason Lee) and the sprightly rodent trio hop a Carnival Cruise Line ship, where they sing, dance and create mayhem. Eventually, they become castaways on a not-so-deserted island that reminds us of “Gilligan’s Island,” “Lost” and “Castaway.” Before attempting to escape the island with its other inhabitants, the Chipmunks take time to impersonate Indiana Jones and track down a hidden treasure. All of this occurs against a CGI backdrop and soundtrack that includes such re-synthesized pop hits as “Vacation,” “Real Wild Child,” “Bad Romance,” “Kumbaya,” “Conga” and “Born This Way.” The boys are voiced by Matthew Gray Gubler, Jesse McCartney and Justin Long, while the damsels in distress are given a vocal assist from Amy Poehler, Anna Faris and Christina Applegate. Children should enjoy the Blu-ray bonus features, including the dance-along and sing-along segment; several making-of featurettes, extended scenes, “Growing Up Alvin” and “In Character With Jason Lee”; and an “Ice Age” short, also involving a hidden treasure. – Gary Dretzka

Red Persimmons
One Lucky Elephant
Betty White: Champion for Animals

There’s an old line, which I can’t place, to the effect, “I’m not afraid of hard work, I could watch people do it all day.” The late Japanese director Shinsuke Ogawa loved to watch the farmers of his country labor, as well, and record them doing it, going to exhaustive lengths to make sure he got it right. “Red Persimmons” was begun by Ogawa in 1985 and finally completed 15 years later (after his death in 1992) by one of his devotees, Chinese feminist filmmaker Peng Xiaolian. On its surface, the documentary simply describes the annual process of growing, picking, peeling, drying, preparing, selling and packaging the fruit for delivery to stores in the city. It’s an arduous process and no one appears to be prospering greatly in the village he observes. The farmers we meet are in the autumn of their life cycle and young consumers in the city don’t have much of a taste for persimmons. Anyone looking for a analogy here will find it in the steadily decreasing number of agricultural communities dedicated to the growing of items many now see as specialty products. Unlike the acceptance of boutique-brewed beer by American yuppies, Japanese yuppies have yet to embrace specialty persimmons. But, that’s only part of the story. Ogawa and his crew lived among the villagers, observing them and asking questions. In “Red Persimmons,” he records the history of the techniques and tools devised specifically to make the process easier and more profitable. Along the way, he captures the beauty in common practices and the dedication in his subjects faces. It’s an amazing documentary, if intended only for the most patient of viewers.

In a separate film, included on the DVD, “A Visit to Ogawa Productions,” the filmmaker and members of the collective are interviewed during mid-production of a documentary about rice growing in mountainous northern Japan. In it, we learn that he was inspired to focus on farmers while chronicling the riots over the confiscation of fields upon which the Narita International Airport now sits. If his assignment was to record the clashes between police and radical farmers and students, what fascinated him was the passion for the land and way of life being sacrificed for the convenience of business executives and tourists. Again, remote rice-growing villages are dying for lack of a solid financial reason to exist, apart from being way stations for motorists going in opposite directions. Being a staple crop, corporations have found ways to make the production of ordinary rice highly profitable and not nearly as dependent on the whims of nature.

“One Lucky Elephant” describes a romance between man and beast … the owner of a small circus and the elephant after which it is named. It represents a 10-year immersion in a single subject by director Lisa Leeman. Depending on one’s point of view of circuses and the ownership of exotic pets, the title can be interpreted as ironic or the true attitude of the filmmakers. What isn’t in dispute is that David Balding adopted Flora, an orphaned baby African elephant, with the intent of creating a marquee attraction for the circus. The training process is forceful to the point of cruelty, although Balding appears to have been cognizant of the dangers to the animal and moderated his techniques accordingly. Over the years, he became as close to Flora as he might a child. As he grew older and his health deteriorated, Balding decided that Flora’s fate ought not to depend on his. Through his contacts in the training community, he’s able to place Flora in a Florida zoo with a modern facility for the large beasts. Then, unexpectedly, Flora becomes a problem elephant. Instead of socializing, her temperament becomes unpredictable and occasionally threatening to zookeepers. The same thing happens when Flora is moved to a large elephant sanctuary in Tennessee. The diagnosis suggests that, as a social creature living alone in a small space, she may have become too dependent on the love and nurturing provided by Balding, who, we sense, may have been more interested in his own emotional needs than those of Flora. After each of his frequent visits to the zoo and sanctuary, Flora would experience something resembling post-traumatic-shock syndrome, causing her to act out her aggressions. Because of this, he is asked not to visit. The trainer refuses to buy this theory – which could extend all the way back to the “culling” process in the wild — preferring the advice of an “elephant whisperer” at the Pittsburgh Zoo. In any case, the death of a more dominant female at the sanctuary appears to relieve much of Flora’s anxiety, if not that of Balding. “One Lucky Elephant” is a fascinating documentary, which naturally begs the question as to the ethics of separating such beasts from their parents and clan and shipping them across the ocean, not always to the most humane environments.

Things are more cut and dry in “Betty White: Champion for Animals,” which is as much a celebration of the star’s longevity as it is a cautionary tale about the need for humans protect and cherish species both thriving and endangered. White’s job here primarily is to share anecdotes about pets and other animals in her life, as well as introducing representatives of organizations dedicated to their care, protection and maintenance. We also are invited to go behind the scenes at national parks, zoos and aquariums. Although “Champion for Animals” has been recommended by the Dove Foundation, children might be disturbed by some of the images of wounded animals. – Gary Dretzka

The Gruesome Death of Tommy Pistol

Even by the standards usually associated with Troma and Vicious, “The Gruesome Death of Tommy Pistol” is a grotesque and intensely revolting entertainment. Most of the shocks involve the separation of limbs, organs and erogenous zones from the bodies of naked skanks and male slimeballs in drag. Throw in a few puss bombs and flesh-eating penis extenders and you have a movie that could turn the stomach of a zombie. Tommy Pistol is an aspiring actor and full-time doofus, too stupid to understand that insulting the boss’ mother may not be a good idea. After being fired and losing his wife and child, Tommy wastes away on his couch watching porn and being pleasured by a suction tube. In his dreams, he fantasizes answering a casting notice in a Hollywood trade paper, only to learn that the job involves being the killer in an actual snuff film. It sets him off on a course that leads to becoming a director of a torture-porn flick and capturing, skinning and pretending to be Arthur Schwarzenegger, if he were a psycho killer. Given the bare-bones budget of the project, the effects can’t help but look absurdly cheesy and frequently hilarious. “TGDOTP” shouldn’t be mistaken for an entry point for aspiring horror fans. No matter how ridiculous the carnage seems, it sometimes is capable of momentarily fooling the brain and inducing physical revulsion. If this sounds like your cup of tea, see a doctor before checking out the bonus features, which add commentary, behind-the-scenes footage, the music videos “It Ate His Face” and “DJ Tommy Pistol,” interviews with the director and cast and “Cheese Theater,” a look at the “first sketch comedy troupe from Queens.”

Director Dominic James and screenwriter Domenico Salvaggio’s freshman feature, “Die,” is an overfamiliar and ultimately not terribly convincing torture thriller, in which a half-dozen troubled individuals are imprisoned and forced to roll the die to determine each other’s fate. They are being held by the wealthy, if psychotic author of ‘The Will of the Die,” which has developed a cult following among people who have survived the game. Depending on their luck, a participant either will be on the receiving end of a lethal dose of something or be the one who doles out the punishment. They will be familiar with the implements from their own experience at attempting suicide. The other wrinkle allows for the dungeon master to administer punishments that are far less than lethal, thus adding an element of surprise to the “game.” Among the more familiar cast members are John Pyper-Ferguson, Emily Hampshire, Catarina Murino, Katie Boland and Elias Koteas. – Gary Dretzka

The Heir Apparent: Largo Winch
Some European exports simply don’t translate into English. One of them is “Largo Winch,” an action hero first introduced in the 1970s as a character in a Belgian comic-book series by Philippe Francq and Jean Van Hamme. The character has since been revived in novels, a TV series, video game and a pair of movies, the first of which has only now reached our shores. “The Heir Apparent: Large Winch” was greet in limited by middling review and almost no interest at the box office. I can’t help but think that the unwieldy title had almost everything to do with its failure here. As a child, the character was adopted from the Bosnia war zone by one of the richest men on Earth, Nerio Winch. His existence remains a closely kept secret while he explores the world and gets into the kind of trouble all untethered young men tend to find, left to their own devices. When the old man is assassinated by forces unknown, Largo (Tomer Sisley) is called to world headquarters in Hong Kong by the second-in-command (Kristin Scott Thomas) and is expected to assume the role of sole heir. The corporation is so huge and profitable that the list of Largo’s potential enemies is practically endless and the action takes us from Brazil, to Bosnia, Hong Kong, Macau, Sicily, Malta and Paris. If the plot isn’t all that compelling, the scenery makes up for it. – Gary Dretzka

Girls Just Want to Have Fun
I’m of the opinion that Cyndi Lauper’s “Girls Just Want to Have Fun,” was as anthemic for girls who came of age in the 1980s as “I Am Woman” and “I Will Survive” were for women asserting their independence in the ’70s. Indeed, it may have been the first post-feminist anthem to achieve broad mainstream acceptance. Naturally, the song inspired a movie to exploit both the jauntily affirmative message of the song, but also anticipate such emerging “girl power” movies as “Pretty in Pink,” “Dirty Dancing,” “Flashdance,” “Adventures in Babysitting” and “Clueless.” It also influenced the “Riot Grrrl” movement, which sprang up in the Pacific Northwest in the mid-1990s. As much an exemplar of gender independence as Lauper was, however, the movies that “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” most closely resemble are “Footloose” and the 1988 “Hairspray.” Unfortunately, those films are several times more inspired, original and entertaining than Alan Metter’s movie. Today, “GJWTHF” best serves as a time capsule to a time when mullets, “big hair” and spandex ruled. Moreover, the fashions adopted by the characters bordered on the hideous.

So why would anyone want to invest time in a movie that could otherwise be used as punishment for unruly teenagers. “GJWTHF” is loaded with stars of the future, not the least of whom are Sarah Jessica Parker and Helen Hunt in their first big non-TV roles. They play students at a Catholic high school in Chicago whose primary aspirations in life are becoming dancers on the “Dance TV” show and meeting cool boys. Hunt’s character, Lynne, is quite a bit hipper than Parker’s more repressed Janey, whose father is the movie’s designated Nazi figure. He forbids Janey to audition for the show, which, of course, only makes her more likely to do just that. Before the audition takes place, the girls decide it might be fun to crash a party at the local country club in the company of a pack of Madonna-wannabes, punks and women body builders. The intrusion only serves to piss off the richest guy in town and his daughter, who also wants to dance on the show. Among the now-familiar faces to be found in the cast are
Shannen Doherty, Jonathan Silverman and dancers Robin Antin and Gina Gershon, (The body-double dancers are easy to spot.) Poor Cyndi Lauper is given a cameo, but the producers were too cheap to license her version of the title song, — Gary Dretzka

The Seminarian
It would be difficult to find a subject more taboo in Hollywood – or anywhere else, for that matter – than homosexuality and the priesthood. It’s been difficult enough for established religious leaders to acknowledge its very existence, let alone attempt to separate the sexual predators from the gay men whose faith is more important to them than their sexuality. Even if such a thing were possible, it would open the gates to a tacit acceptance of something they’ve taught goes against the teachings in the bible. Holy conundrum, Batman. Typically, it’s independent filmmakers who allow themselves the freedom to explore questions the mainstream media elect to ignore. If writer/director Joshua Lim’s “The Seminarian” doesn’t directly address the issues that make sordid headlines, it does at least accept as a given that gay clergy do exist and their faith isn’t in question. The ones we meet here are attracted to other male adults, sometimes, but not always in a sexual way. What’s important here are the kinds of questions only God could answer in person and not in a book written and interpreted by humans.

Ryan (Mark Cirillo) is a gay seminarian entering his last semester of studies and anxious to attend Yale. The evangelical seminary isn’t progressive on the question of homosexuality, of course, but it isn’t difficult for Ryan to find like-minded students, with whom he can confide. He also seeks and finds friendship on the Internet, albeit with a young man with unresolved issues. As Ryan prepares his thesis, “The Divine Gift of Love,” he ponders, “If love is a gift from God and love entails great suffering, then what does that say about God?” What, indeed. Lim’s film attempts to appeal to too many cinematic suitors, including the ones attracted handsome young men willing to sample forbidden fruit. It would be interesting to see what a movie like “Seminarian” might look like given a larger budget and more profound theological mandate. – Gary Dretzka

PBS: Solartaxi: Around the World With the Sun
The BBC High Definition Natural History Collection 1: Blu-ray

Green documentaries tend to be preachy and resplendent with images of smog-shrouded cities, suffocating rivers and the corpses of birds and fish. Watch enough of them and you’ll either become hugely depressed or motivated to seek out the local recruiter for Earth First! I prefer the second option, but not all such documentaries are downbeat. “Solartaxi: Around the World With the Sun” is one such movie. In 2007, Swiss teacher Louis Palmer embarked on an epic journey in which he would drive an automobile towing its own solar battery around the world. Along the way, he hoped not only to avoid being rescued or transported by vehicles powered by fossil fuels, but also to prove to everyone on his route that such a thing can be done. Director Erik Schmitt picked up the tour in India, where he was sent by a Berlin-based agency to produce a series of YouTube clips. The 18-month project covered some 50,000 kilometers, touched 40 countries and produced 200 hours of video footage. Part of what makes “Solartaxi” so interesting is the reception Palmer received along the way. In some, he was received like a hero, while in others his mission was ignored. Energy-rich countries, such as Australia, fail to recognize any threat to the environment by carbon-based fuels. In Syria, an accident that threatened his progress became a huge teaching opportunity, when a minister personally greased the wheels for his recovery. Another accident, in India, might have turned into an international incident if Everett’s camera hadn’t proven that Palmer was blameless. They traveled through hostile territory in Pakistan without any problems and made it to a Chinese border station with only moments to spare before their entrance permit would expire. Palmer is a soft-spoken guy with a decent sense of humor, so “Solartaxi” comes off less as a lecture than an entertaining adventure, with guest cameos by James Cameron, Jay Leno, Bianca Jagger, Larry Hagman and UN officials.

Another way to teach kids the value of green thinking is simply to show them examples of the kinds of wildlife and vegetation that might not be around to show their grandchildren. No series has made the connection between survival and extinction clearer than the films included in the BBC’s magnificent “Natural History Collection.” And, they’ve done so without having to beat viewers over the head with obvious conclusions. The Blu-ray set is comprised of the full, six-disc “Special Edition” of “Planet Earth,” single discs of “Galapagos” and “Ganges,” as well as the two-disc “Wild China.” Each disc also contains making-of featurettes and bonus films. Fans of the series may already have purchased previously released editions, so some caution is advised. It’s the addition of the complete BBC-version of “Planet Earth” – important distinction, there — that sets the box set apart. The “Special Edition” includes 107 minutes of video “Diaries”; the bonus documentaries “Snow Leopards: Beyond the Myth,” “Secrets of Maya Underworld,” “Elephant Nomads of the Namib Desert” and “Natural World: Desert Lions”; the three-hour, “The Future,” with “Saving Species,” “Into the Wilderness” and “Living Together “; “Great Moments,” narrated by Sir David Attenborough; audio commentaries on “Pole to Pole,” “Mountains,” “Caves,” “Great Plains” and “Shallow Seas”; and a sneak peak of the upcoming “Frozen Planet” series. If nothing else, it’s worth the cost of the set to show American kids that not all homes come ready-made with air conditioners, microwave ovens and flat-screen TVs. In some parts of India, the homes’ only luxury is hot- and cold-running cobras and rampaging elephants are a greater threat than electrical fires. – Gary Dretzka

Corman’s World: Exploits of a Hollywood Rebel: Blu-ray
Camel Spiders: Blu-ray

Roger Corman has been producing and directing movies longer than most people in the world have been alive. As far as I know, none has come close to being nominated for an Academy Award. One way or another, though, the vast majority of them have made money. In 2009, at 83, Corman was honored by the academy for “his rich engendering of films and filmmakers,” decidedly not for making such drive-in epics as “Creatures From the Haunted Sea,” “Bloody Mama,” “X: The Man With the X-Ray Eyes,” “Last Woman on Earth,” “The Wasp Woman,” “The Fast and the Furious,” “Little Shop of Horrors,” “The Crybaby Killer,” “House of Usher” and “The Wild Angels,” which, in1966, bumped his list of credits to 100 (and, incidentally, was nominated for a Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival. Forty-six years later, he’s still churning out movies. One of his worst, “Camel Spiders,” is his latest release. He has four more movies, at least, at the filming stage or in post-production. More to the point, as we’re reminded throughout Alex Stapleton’s highly entertaining bio-doc, “Corman’s World: Exploits of a Hollywood Rebel,” he’s done all of the movies his way … on the cheap and with a smile on his face. The documentary overflows with anecdotal evidence of the maestro’s legendary penny pinching and the stories are funnier than most of the so-called comedies being made within the studio system these days. Among the many stars and filmmakers testifying in Corman’s defense are Paul W.S. Anderson, Peter Bogdanovich, Robert DeNiro, Peter Fonda, David Carradine, Pam Grier, Ron Howard, Eli Roth, Martin Scorsese and William Shatner. Graduates of the “Corman School of Filmmaking” learned how to bring in pictures for substantially less than a million dollars, shoot without permits, gratuitously flash their breasts, jerry-rig sets and props, and sneak social messages into exploitation flicks. More importantly, perhaps, Corman has somehow managed to remain a gentleman for more than 55 years in a business that rarely rewards kindness and generosity.

Lately, the Corman factory has focused on making quick-and-dirty entertainments for cable television and international distribution. “Camel Spiders” isn’t a good movie by any stretch of the imagination, but it demonstrates the limitations imposed on him in a post-grindhouse environment. Most obviously, while basic-cable networks are able to show bikini-wearing beach bunnies being torn in half by hybrid sea monsters, bare breasts (a Corman drive-in staple) are prohibited. If anything, cable budgets are more restrictive than the ones handed such fledgling directors as Howard, Bogdanovich, Scorsese and Jonathan Demme. Bargain-basement dino-sharks, piranhacondas, supergators and camel spiders – carried to America in the coffin of a dead soldier – look as if they were created by kids in a high school AV club. The budgets only allow for the casting of mid-list actors, such as C. Thomas Howell and Brian Krause, and newcomers who’d pay him to land a part in a Corman-produced movie. My suggestion for longtime fans and those unfamiliar with the drive-in genre is to start with the classic titles in new “Cult Classics” releases, instead of the new stuff. “Camel Spiders” doesn’t add any featurettes, but “Corman’s World” includes extended interviews and tributes. – Gary Dretzka

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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