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Gary Dretzka

By Gary Dretzka

The DVD Wrapup

Nebraska: Blu-ray
There are so many solid reasons to rush out and pick up a copy of Alexander Payne’s “Nebraska” – or pay a service to stream it directly into your living room – the imminent arrival of the Academy Award hypefest should be the least of them. Any excuse to catch up with this terrific, quintessentially American dramedy is a good one, however. Even though “Nebraska” only was able to make up its production nut of a meager $13 million at the box office, it deserves a second shot in its digital afterlife. For those who’ve lost track of the nominees in the various categories, Payne’s film is in the running for Oscars as Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Director, Best Writing and Best Cinematography. The Independent Spirits adds Best Supporting Actor, while taking away Best Cinematography, for its six nominations. I suspect that the Best Picture nod will go to “American Hustle,” “12 Years a Slave” or “Gravity,” just as it has in most other contests. I’d be surprised, if not shocked if Bruce Dern and June Squibb didn’t go home with a trophy for their performances. They were that good. Dern plays Woody, a disheveled alcoholic who defines the term, “cantankerous old coot.” When we meet him, Woody is walking toward the Interstate that extends from Billings, Montana, to Lincoln, Nebraska. After a patrolman notices that he’s far too addled to be hitchhiking anywhere, his exasperated adult son, David (Will Forte), is summoned to take him home. Once there, he’s greeted with no small degree of disdain by his long-suffering wife, Kate (Squibb), who’s put up with his antics for no other reason than it would be unseemly for her to throw him out in the cold.

Woody may not be as demented as he is delusional. It would hard to find anyone who hasn’t been fooled by the promise of riches to be won in a sweepstakes, if only for a few seconds. Being of solid western stock, however, he believes what he reads on a printed page and can’t imagine why any company with an address and letterhead stationary would bother to pull a scam on him. Rather than wait for the sweepstakes organizers to call him, he decides to hitchhike to Lincoln to collect the check in person. David, whose job it is to sell home-theater systems to people who’ve lost their jobs, reluctantly agrees to drive his father to Lincoln, with a pit stop in the small town in which he was raised. Rather than spoil anyone’s enjoyment of “Nebraska,” let’s just say that the father-son roadtrip begins as the opposite of a buddy film, thanks to the old man’s drinking and inattention to his well-being. Things change, however, when they reach Hawthorne, where David is introduced to a menagerie of sleepy old men, lumpen cousins and old cronies of his dad. The men and some women, most of whom likely met in kindergarten, now spend their idle time in the local taverns recalling long-ago triumphs, digging up barely forgotten grudges and singing karaoke. The arrival of any potential millionaire would be big news in Hawthorne and Woody unwisely milks the attention for all it’s worth.

What struck me about Payne’s vision, as defined by Bob Nelson’s debut screenplay, is just how real everything and everybody seems, even in black-and-white. You can find these characters in every town between the coasts. At one time or another, they’ve bought into the American dream and decided to stay within shouting distance of their hometowns. Even if things didn’t work out as planned, they’ve retained some semblance of dignity and just enough hope to keep one or two dreams alive. They’ve only lately come to the conclusion that the government has no interest in making those dreams come true and neither does Mother Nature. They’ve also learned from experience or hearsay that kids don’t always grow up as expected. “Nebraska” encourages us not to give up on ourselves, no matter how small the reward might be or unattainable the goal. In this way, it’s as life-affirming as anything on the Hallmark Channel. Even so, I wouldn’t blame anyone if they simply rented the movie to witness a praiseworthy performances by an actor whose career is full of them. Another interesting thing about “Nebraska” is the hi-def presentation, which is so clear and precise that many viewers will forget it’s black-and-white. Also very good in prominent supporting roles are Bob Odenkirk as David’s older brother, a TV personality in a mid-sized Midwestern city; Stacy Keach, as Woody’s lifelong friend and frequent nemesis; and Rance Howard, as his brother. The only bonus feature is the 29-minute “The Making of ‘Nebraska,’” which is surprisingly complete, even if it’s fair to expect a more extensive package if it catches fire at the Oscars. – Gary Dretzka

The Pervert’s Guide to Ideology
I’ll admit to never having heard of cultural-theorist “superstar” Slavoj Zizek before watching “The Pervert’s Guide to Ideology.” While the title of this follow-up to “The Pervert’s Guide to Cinema” is predictive of coherent insight – the host reminds me most of Professor Irwin Corey, the self-styled “world’s foremost authority” — much of what he says is intriguing. Once again, in collaboration with director Sophie Fiennes, the Slovenian philosopher uses movies to comment on the insidious incursion of political, cultural and religious ideology into popular culture. Rather than place the disheveled Zizek in front of a camera and hope that his audience will wade through two hours of heavily accented English to find the gold among the gobbledygook, Fiennes re-creates scenes from the movies to be dissected and places her subject inside them. This might sound like a convenient gimmick, but, when select sequences from those movies are shown within the context of an intellectual discussion, it becomes more inclusive. From the vantage point of the movies themselves, Zizek psychoanalyzes the filmmakers’ intentions and their impact on the prevailing Zeitgeist. In “Ideology,” he expands on a notion presented in “Cinema”: “Our desires are artificial. We have to be taught to desire. Cinema is the ultimate pervert art. It doesn’t give you what you desire, it tells you how to desire.” Some movies also point us in the direction of the things we, then, desire. Naturally, Zizek demonstrates how 1930s propagandists not only manipulated images of Stalin and Hitler, but also set the stage. The movies helped humanize ideologies that, otherwise, were indefensible. Those are the easy ones, however.

It’s difficult to imagine anyone in Hollywood having an ideology worth pursuing, but there’s no denying the ability of screenwriters and directors to sneak ideologies of their own into pictures. It continues today, in the form of product placement and making crime and criminals look more sensually appealing than walking the straight-and-narrow path or, God forbid, expanding horizons in other directions. If the HUAC folks targeted leftists in the industry, it wasn’t because they didn’t enjoy their pictures. It was their belief that Americans could be manipulated subliminally by communist propaganda inserted into mainstream entertainment. A half-century later, no one in Congress appears to mind the same process being applied to everything from cigarettes to sugar-soaked breakfast cereals. Walt Disney and his studio descendants have been selling his vision of the American Dream in pictures for most of the last 70 years. It’s been accomplished by re-interpreting the themes of great literature and fairy tales, written by the Grimm Brothers and Hans Christian Andersen. Neither did the studio have to pay for the source material, as the books were in the common domain. While showing seemingly innocuous scenes from “The Sound of Music,” Zizek demonstrates how they might have been shaped by Catholic doctrine. He goes out on a limb to connect such disparate titles as “Jaws,” “Taxi Driver,” “Zabriskie Point,” “The Searchers,” “The Dark Knight,” “They Live,” “Titanic,” “A Clockwork Orange” and “If” to fascism and anti-immigration fanatics. John Ford and John Wayne’s “The Searchers” has, for years, been a lightning rod for controversy. For true-blue Americans, it offers a justification for imperialism and fear of the outsider; to Native Americans and liberals, it provides evidence of this country’s willingness to fall back on racism and bloodshed when treaties need to be broken; and to cineastes, it’s a celluloid cathedral. While much of what Zizek believes feels forced, it’s probably because it is informed by growing up in an Eastern bloc country, in which everything is tainted by ideology, and disappointment in the capitalist system that’s mastered the art of disguising ideology. “Pervert’s Guide” won’t appeal to many mainstream viewers, primarily because Zizek is devoid of charisma and his message borders on irrelevance. Ideology aside, however, Zizek reminds me of a professor who’s loved by students for challenging them with eccentric ideas and exotic points of view. There were never enough them when I was going to school. The DVD adds a post-screening Q&A with Zizek and Fiennes. – Gary Dretzka

Darkman: Collectors’ Edition: Blu-ray
The Shadow: Collectors’ Edition: Blu-ray
Comic-book superheroes have provided fodder for Hollywood filmmakers since at least the 1940s, when they made the leap from the “funnies” to matinee and radio serials. The strongest among them would be revived for broadcast on television and mega-budget exploitation in theaters. The dam threatened to break in the 1980s, when more than a dozen lesser-known characters were given potential franchises of their own. Overexposure would put the goose that laid the golden egg into a coma, leaving studios the option of retiring from the game and leaving it to the indies, or dispensing budgets that reduced the risk to minimal. “Darkman” (1990) and “The Shadow” (1994) were released at a time when CGI filmmaking was in its infancy and, as yet, unaffordable by most genre specialists. That would change soon enough, of course, but, until then, it was left to such inventive directors as Sam Raimi and Russell Mulcahy to find ways to muddle through, somehow. Twenty-some years later, “Darkman” and “The Shadow” feel quaint beside the mega-mega-blockbusters of the new millennium, which benefit from the most advanced CGI technology and very need to shoot on location. Even with all of that working in the favor of the studios in 2014, only a few of the superhero movies can be considered a sure bet, even in 3D. Too often, the difference between red and black ink is determined by international audiences. After the success of his “Evil Dead” pictures, Raimi really, really wanted to adapt “The Shadow” and “Batman.” For better or worse, he was denied the rights to both properties.

Instead, Raimi simply created a superhero to call his own: “Darkman.” His inspirations included the Universal catalog of monsters and such seriously disfigured protagonists as Phantom of the Opera, Elephant Man and Hunchback of Notre Dame. Like them, his success depended entirely of overcoming handicaps not of his own making. Darkman began his life as Peyton Westlake, a scientist currently working on a new type of synthetic skin to help burn victims. His girlfriend, played by Raimi’s friend Frances McDormand, is an attorney who’s discovered a link between the ruthless crimelord (Larry Drake) and corrupt a corrupt developer (Colin Friels). In an effort to intimidate the lawyer, the gangster confronts Westlake in his warehouse lab. After denying any knowledge of what his girlfriend has up her sleeve, the gangster blows up the lab with Westlake still in it. Miraculously, he is blown clear of the inferno, but not before having most of the skin on his face melted off and hands destroyed. Assumed dead and prematurely buried, Westlake rebuilds his lab and begins experimenting on himself. He’s reborn as the vengeful Darkman – among other disguises — and his mission becomes taking out the people who did this to him. It’s fun and exciting. The re-mastered Blu-ray edition is enhanced by commentary with DP Bill Pope; fresh interviews with Neeson, Drake, McDormand, makeup designer Tony Gardner, production designer Randy Ser and several “henchmen”; vintage material, including an interview with Raimi; and a making-of featurette.

In Mulcahy’s version of “The Shadow,” Alec Baldwin plays the caped crime-fighter Lamont Cranston and, as usual, is well up to the task. Here, he’s required to engage his old nemesis, Shiwan Khan (John Lone), the last descendant of Genghis Khan, who’s desperately in need of the rarest of rare elements to complete preparations for a nuclear device. Both men are master illusionists, capable of changing their identities and using magic tricks and martial-arts weaponry to press their case. The story itself is a synthesis of “Room of Doom,” “The Masters of Death” and other ingredients from the radio show and pulp magazine versions. Like the Warren Beatty version of “Dick Tracy,” which it most resembles, Mulcahy makes brilliant use of primary colors and strategically arranged shadows. Its sense of humor combines comic-book dialogue with noir conceits, with Baldwin’s own bad-boy touches. The cast also includes such familiar actors as Penelope Ann Miller (Margo Lane); Peter Boyle; Ian McKellan; Tim Curry, Jonathan Winters, Andre Gregory and James Hong. If it didn’t do well enough in the marketplace for Universal to commit to a franchise, it might be because it bore too much comparison to “Dick Tracy” and the likelihood of ever-increasing expenses. “The Shadow” holds up pretty well today, if only because of the palpable chemistry between Baldwin and Miller and flexibility of the character. If someone ever decides to create a cable channel dedicated to comic-book superheroes, a “Shadow” series would be most welcome. The upgraded Blu-ray adds new interviews with Mulcahy, Baldwin, Miller, production designer Joseph Nemec III., director of photography Stephen H. Burum and writer David Koepp. – Gary Dretzka

The Inn of the Sixth Happiness: Blu-ray
Based on a true story, Fox’s sweeping historical epic from 1958, “The Inn of the Sixth Happiness,” reflects a period in Hollywood when taking liberties with the truth, including those found in biographies, not only was standard operating procedure but also extremely lucrative with audiences. In the 1950s, few women would have been upset by having Ingrid Bergman play them in a movie, even after the scandal caused by her extramarital affair with Robert Rossellini. Two years after Hollywood decided to test her appeal in “Indiscreet” and “Anastasia” – shot on location in Europe — she was cast as Gladys Aylward, whose heroic work with children in China during the Sino-Japanese War was chronicled in Alan Burgess’ “The Small Woman.” If there’s one thing the Swedish actress could never be accused of being, it was “short.” Aylward was a British evangelical missionary of modest means , who paid her own way to China from earnings derived from being a domestic worker. The least expensive route to her as-yet-undetermined destination was the trans-Siberian railroad, which, at the time, provided Spartan accommodations and the prospect of being caught between troops from three angry countries. Aylward felt that her courage on that journey was shortchanged in the movie, at the expense of a romantic subplot she felt was vastly overemphasized. Apparently, someone also decided to change the name of the mission from “8th Happiness” to “6th Happiness.” Aylward also would have preferred that Bergman speak with a Cockney accent and the key Chinese characters be played by Chinese actors. Picky, picky.

Fifty-five years later, almost none of this matters. If “Inn” isn’t historically accurate, it does reflect Aylward’s acts of selflessness and courage.  Warned by local officials that a westerner could never warm the hearts of Chinese people, Aylward refused to leave after the nun who ran the place died. Instead, in 1940, she had won the confidence of local official – Robert Donat plays the grumpy Mandarin, while Curt Jurgens is the Dutch/Chinese soldier who becomes her love interest – to sufficient degree that she was asked to travel the province to enunciate new laws banning foot binding. With the Japanese nearly on the doorstep of the inn, Aylward volunteered to gather 50 children from the village, with another 50 tagging along, and shepherd them over the mountains to safety. It’s one of several such heroic stories, the others being from Nanking, turned into films in the last few years. Mark Robson shot “6th Happiness” in extremely scenic parts of northern Wales, so that part rang true, anyway. After the revolution, Aylward founded a children’s home in Taiwan, where she was accorded the name, “Ai-weh-deh,”or “Virtuous One.” The Blu-ray edition does a nice job with the CinemaScope presentation, adding vintage marketing material and commentary with historians Nick Redman, Aubrey Solomon and Donald Spoto. – Gary Dretzka

Given the remarkable success of the documentary, “Searching for Sugar Man,” and fact-based “Mandela: Long March to Freedom,” I’m willing to believe almost any reasonably credible movie set in South Africa. Even though I knew going into “419” that it was a work of fiction, it didn’t require any great suspension of disbelief to buy into the possibility that it could be true. That’s because everyone with an e-mail address has received a notice from someone in Africa, asking to be sent money in return for an even greater fortune. A woman went on “Dr. Phil” last week, admitting to falling for a scheme in which she sent hundreds of thousands of dollars off to Nigeria, in the mistaken belief that an imaginary Brit she met on a dating site needed that kind of bread to join her in America. Even after Dr. Phil, the woman’s daughter and son-in-law, as well as the show’s private investigators, offered proof that the guy didn’t exist, the poor sap still was not convinced. That’s why I so easily surrendered 84 minutes of my time to Ned Thorne’s first theatrical feature. In it, a struggling New York actor loses everything in a South Africa-based scam, based solely on the endorsement of an acquaintance there. At the insistence of his two best friends in New York, the victim travels with them to Cape Town to locate the scammer and recover the money. As if such a thing were possible. Enlisted into the venture is a Cape Town local, who claims to know the perpetrator and can serve as his ticket into the all-black townships, from whence the e-mail emanated. Like so many other such thrillers, these days, “419” supposedly is based on video footage found after, well, the shit happened. We’ll leave it at that, except to mention that Cape Town is one of most interesting places to shoot a movie in the world. – Gary Dretzka

Devo: The Complete Truth About De-evolution
The Discovery of Eileen Twain
It always seemed to me that the alternative rock ensemble, Devo, was a one-trick pony and its fan base was comprised of geeks who worshiped their computers, affected the same eyeglasses and secretly wished they could wear flower-pot hats and yellow jumpsuits to work. Devo’s geometrically designed songs possessed a quirky charm, if only in the group’s willingness to tweak prevailing rock conventions and bite the hands of the same musical establishment that fed them. Indeed, it was a proponent of principles advanced the Church of the SubGenius – a religion that might have arrived on the same spaceship as Scientology — which was founded on a belief that everything corporate America holds true and holy is B.S., but not from an especially Marxian point of view. If any group could have been the house band of a talk show hosted by Pee-wee Herman, it was Devo. Their emergence from the wastelands of Ohio seemed perfectly timed to coincide with the launch of MTV and attention being paid not only to the Talking Heads and Cars, but also such quirky one-hit wonders as the Divinyls (“I Touch Myself”) and Vapors (“Turning Japanese”). Devo was so different from other groups of the period, it naturally drew the attention of more established musicians, who kept them busy after the gag wore thin. Group members would do well producing music videos, soundtracks, albums and occasionally working the reunion circuit. Made in 1993, “Devo: The Complete Truth About De-Evolution” includes 19 music videos, rare performance footage and other musical treats that can still hold their own artistically. I hadn’t seen most of the music videos included on the DVD, but found them to still be entertaining. Most of them were made before MTV became a force within the music industry and could refuse to add anything looking cheap or suspect to its playlists. If these look dated in 2014, it’s because the music-video game became a province of labels willing to spend tens of thousands of dollars on established acts. Many less-endowed groups would form alliances with up-and-coming video artists, who weren’t reluctant to exercise their imagination on this emerging creative platform. With the sad news of the passing of Bob Casale, an original member of Devo with his brother, Gerald, and the Mothersbaugh brothers. He died on Monday, at 61.

At first, second and third glance, “The Discovery of Eileen Twain” resembles the CDs and DVDs sold in casino gift shops and tables set up outside the doors of concert venues. Buy one, the artist will allow you to stand in line for an autograph or photo grab. Here, it’s almost as if someone at the Deerhurst Resort, two hours north of Toronto in Ontario’s Muskoka region, put 2 and 2 together and came up with a with a way to exploit an obscure moment in its history. Some 25 years ago, a young but seasoned trouper named Eileen Twain joined the resort’s “Las Vegas” stage show. Blessed with an extraordinary voice, she quickly was pulled from the shadows and given some featured numbers. That was before Eilleen Twain changed her name to Shania Twain and began her collaboration with Jeff “Mutt” Lange, making both of them rich and famous. When she showed up at Deerhurst, Twain had already stamped a couple of demo discs for the perusal of Nashville executives. She needed the gig to support her younger siblings after her mother and stepfather were killed in a car accident. A quarter-century after being made part of the Las Vegas revue, in the woods of Ontario, the former Eileen Twain is in the midst of a two-year residency at Caesars Palace, in Las Vegas, Nevada, in the same big  room as Celine Dion, Elton John, Jerry Seinfeld and Rod Stewart. Alas, the DVD half of the package is little more than a rehash of homemade videos, shot from a distance in the Deerhurst showroom. She solos on the same medley — “Somewhere Out There”/ “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” – three times and we’re given interviews with a bunch of promoters who inconveniently missed the boat on her later career. The better part of the package is an 18-song compilation – “The Limelight Sessions” – she sent out as a demo tape. Collectors and completests should find useful on both discs. – Gary Dretzka

PBS: American Experience: 1964
Honk, if you can remember the ’60s. Honk twice, if you’re sick of hearing about it. We’re not even half-way through that turbulent decade’s 50th anniversary commemoration and the children and grandchildren of Boomer parents must be wondering when it’s going to end. The joke’s on them, however, because the media has yet to exploit the golden anniversaries of the assassinations of Malcom X, Che Guevara, MLK and RFK; Woodstock and Altamont; the Tet offensive; Tate-LaBianca murders; and Bob Dylan’s motorcycle accident. Oy, vey. “American Experience: 1964” is largely based on the reporting of veteran reporter Jon Margolis for his book, “The Last Innocent Year: America in 1964.” If there was a toss-up for the title of the last innocent year in America, I’d say it was between 1964 and 1968. It can be argued that everything that happened in 1968 was set in motion in 1964, but who’s counting? Among the several epochal events that occurred that year were the arrival of the Beatles on these shores; the enactment of the Civil Rights Act and Gulf of Tonkin Resolution; Barry Goldwater’s campaign and emergence of the activist right; Cassius Clay becoming Muhammad Ali; race riots; and aftershocks from the 1963 release of “The Feminine Mystique.” It was in 1964, Margolis argues, that ordinary Americans turned their frustrations, ambitions and anxieties into the first seismic waves of dissent. Or, as Ali responded when accused of being un-American for changing his name, “I don’t have to be what you want me to be.” The PBS show includes much archival material, as well as the observations of reporters, historians and other folks who are paid to have opinions on such things. Personally, I was struck by how little has fundamentally changed over the last 50 years. In some ways, the 1960s might as well not have happened. – Gary Dretzka

Nickelodeon: Essentially Spring Collection!
Guess How Much I Love You: Friendship Adventures
Chuggington: Brewster Leads the Way
I couldn’t tell you when Easter is scheduled to arrive this year, according to the Gregorian, Julian or lunar calendars. Who needs a calendar, though, when you have the media there to make consumers aware of the next big holiday? Easter-themed DVDs have begun rolling out like eggs from a water-soaked carton at the supermarket. The vast majority don’t even mention Jesus in passing, so as not to offend non-Christians and discourage them from buying candy. If children in 2050 have even a vague notion of what Jesus Christ has to do with Christmas and Easter, it won’t be because we’ll all be speaking Chinese or Arabic by then. In defense of the Easter-industrial complex, though, explaining Christmas to a child is a walk in the park compared with Easter and the Holy Week. What better than an egg-laying bunny rabbit to comfort kids traumatized by descriptions of the crucifixion and resurrection?

Still, why spoil the fun of pre-schoolers who might be left even more confused if they were the only kids on their block not to be invited to the Easter-egg hunt. If it’s good enough for the kids of White House employees and invited guests, the occasional foam-candy rabbit shouldn’t be discouraged. Nickelodeon/Paramount is a dependable source for DVDs that don’t dumb-down seasonal fare. This year’s spring-ahead showcase includes “Peter Rabbit: Spring Into Adventure!,” “Peter Rabbit,” “Max & Ruby: Every Bunny Loves Spring,” “Dora the Explorer: Dora’s Easter Adventure,” “Dora the Explorer: Egg Hunt” and “Max & Ruby: Easter with Max & Ruby.” The holiday-themed covers are awash in pastel colors and targeted at pre-schoolers. The gift sets cost about $14.99 each and run from 66 to 110 minutes.

Rabbits converse with each other and other denizens of the forest in the “Guess How Much I Love You: Friendship Adventures,” featuring the Little Nutbrown Hare and his dad, Big Nutbrown Hare. There are plenty of entertaining games for kids to play here, as well as lessons about playing and getting along with others. In another nice touch, Big and Little Nutbrown Hare discuss problems inherent in growing up in the woods. “Friendship Adventures” is inspired by the best-selling books of British origin. In these seven fun-filled episodes, Little Nutbrown Hare goes about exploring the meadow and playing with his friends, all the while learning valuable lessons of friendship such as the importance of being a good friend, sharing, embracing differences, keeping promises, taking responsibility and learning to forgive. Imagine that.

One of the great things about visiting Europe is the easy accessibility of train travel. Before the railroads here began to put freight ahead of passengers, the U.S. also had a pretty good rail system. The success of the Chuggington series of children’s cartoons is predicated on kids having a working appreciation of trains, even of the anthropomorphic variety. The CGI coaches and engines are inspired by actual trains in use in England. The Brewster in “Chuggington: Brewster Leads the Way” is a diesel-electric locomotive built for heavy loads. He is British Rail blue with a yellow face, and is well-known for being dependable, respectful and reliable under fire. The DVD contains six episodes from the television series; “Chugger Spotlights”; a bonus “Badge Quest” episode; and a new music video. The package also includes an actual miniature toy engine. – 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