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Gary Dretzka

By Gary Dretzka

The DVD Wrapup

The Unknown Known: Blu-ray
The timing of Errol Morris’s perversely revealing portrait of former U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld could hardly be more appropriate. The documentarian couldn’t possibly have known that his film’s afterlife on DVD/Blu-ray would coincide with the takeover of northern Iraq by Sunni jihadists and likely collapse of the country’s government over issues left unresolved when American troops left the country on a timetable established by President George W. Bush. Arriving, as it does, three days before the Fourth of July only makes what Rumsfeld says in “The Unknown Known” that much more wrong-headed and cruelly arrogant. Any Iraq vet planning on marching in a parade or visiting a cemetery this weekend probably already is questioning what in Bush’s name we were doing there, anyway, considering what’s been happening throughout the blood-soaked north in the name of one sect’s interpretation of the Koran. In addition to being one of the architects of our response to the terrorist attacks on 9/11, he also was partially responsible, at least, for leaving a backdoor open for Osama Bin Laden at Tora Bora and going to war in Iraq on almost zero evidence of WMDs. An even bigger question, asked rhetorically by Rumsfeld, is why he would agree to be interviewed by the same brilliant filmmaker who gave us “The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara” and “Standard Operating Procedure,” about abuses at Abu Ghraib prison. Arrogance, chutzpah and belligerence are the only answers for that one. Rumsfeld was an obsessive writer of memos to those with whom he served during the course of five Republican administrations, sending out an estimated 20,000 “snowflakes,” as they became known. Their availability meant Morris wouldn’t have to rely on rumors, innuendo and other peoples’ memories for his research. Both men, then, approached the interview fully prepared for the task and aware of the other’s techniques. To me, anyway, Morris’ questions seemed fair, balanced and informed, and Rumsfeld appeared to enjoy the thrust and parry with him. Like Richard Nixon, after his first televised with John Kennedy, he probably walked away from the interview thinking that he scored at least as many points as Morris.

Too often, though, Rumsfeld falls back on such non-partisan Washington excuses as, “We based our decisions on the best evidence available to us at the time,” “We were acting to protect American interests in the region” and “We couldn’t have known what would happen after the government was toppled.” (That last point was fully explored in Charles Ferguson’s more relevant than ever, “No End in Sight.”) The film’s enigmatic title refers to Rumsfeld’s own response to reporters’ questions about the lack of evidence linking Saddam Hussein and the transfer of WMDs to terrorists: “Reports that say something hasn’t happened are always interesting to me, because, as we know, there are known knowns (and) there are things that we know that we know. We also know there are known unknowns, which is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns, the ones we don’t know we don’t know.” That search for the “unknown unknown” resulted the deaths of nearly 5,000 men and women associated with the Iraq Coalition force. Israel is no safer today than it was 12 years ago; Iraq is far worse off; the Taliban is as strong as it ever was; unindicted prisoners are still being held in Guantanamo; and Barack Obama is lost at sea. “Would it have been better not to have gone there at all?” Morris asks. “I guess time will tell,” replies Rumsfeld. And, that’s exactly what’s happening today in Iraq. “Unkown Known” is a fascinating film, no matter on which side of the fence one stands. The Blu-ray adds commentary and a “conversation” with Morris; his four-part “op-ed,” “The Certainty of Donald Rumsfeld”; and a videotape of a panel discussion at the Third Annual Report of the Secretaries of Defense conference, in 1989. In it, more than a half-dozen former secretaries were asked about the collapse of the Iron Curtain and Berlin Wall, as well as the future of the Soviet Union. For the most part, they were every bit as clueless about what it all meant as any half-soused knucklehead, spouting off in a tavern in Milwaukee. – Gary Dretzka

The Lunchbox: Blu-ray
The Mumbai we visit in freshman writer/director Ritesh Batra’s bittersweet romance exists somewhere between the slums of “Slumdog Millionaire” and the soundstages of Bollywood. The people we meet in its teeming streets work hard to make ends meet and are neither starving nor prospering. One or two of them might even aspire to a job answering questions from Americans who can’t get their computer to work or understand their credit-card bills. “The Lunchbox” describes what happens when serendipity calls on a lonely office worker, Saajan (Irrfan Khan), on the verge of retirement, and a younger woman, Ila (Nimrat Kaur), whose husband couldn’t be more distant if he lived in Calcutta. Neither of them would be aware of the other’s existence, if it weren’t for a mistake made in the otherwise efficient food-delivery system unique to Mumbai. Each mid-morning of the workweek, dabbawalas collect hot food in compactly stacked tiffin boxes (dabbas), prepared by restaurants and the residences of semi-pro chefs, for delivery to workplaces around the metropolitan area. The dabbawalas use bicycles and carts to get the boxes to the primary sorting areas, where they’re transferred to trains or other vehicles. At each stop, a new group of dabbas is waiting to relay the boxes to customers anticipating genuine home-cooked meals. After lunch, the process is reversed. As Batra’s story goes, a chink in the system results in Ila’s lunchbox landing on Saajan’s desk, instead of the one belong to her husband. The quality of Ila’s meals inspires him to leave a note in the box, suggesting various modifications to fit his personal tastes. Eventually, these notes escalate to something resembling mash notes. After proving, once and for all, that the shortest way to a Mumbai man’s heart is through his stomach, Batra was left with the decision of how to end the story: happy, sad or somewhere in between. Khan and Kaur don’t share much screen time, but, emotionally, the distance between them is very small. The larger presence, of course, is that of Mumbai. Within a metropolitan area populated by some 18 million people, the protagonists may as well be as removed from each other as the would-be lovers in “An Affair to Remember” and “Sleepless in Seattle,” which, finally, are the movies that “The Lunchbox” reminds us of most. It’s accompanied by commentary with Batra. – Gary Dretzka

Cannibal Holocaust: Blu-ray
Afflicted: Blu-ray
The Jungle
A “listicle” published in Entertainment Weekly in June, 2006, credited “Cannibal Holocaust” with being only the 19th most controversial movie of all time. What the editors really meant to say is: here are the 25 most controversial movies that we could think of over lunch, minus titles that most of our lowbrow readers might not recognize. When EW decides to pull one of these meaningless lists out of their collective butts, all the reporters have to do is round up the usual suspects and concoct a paragraph that makes them sound witty. Any such list that doesn’t put “Cannibal Holocaust” in the top two or three positions, however, probably wasn’t conceived by writers who actually saw the movie, at least in its uncensored and unedited form. Yes, most the 25 titles included the EW list were controversial, but only for the news cycle of the average weekly magazine. Six months later, almost no one cared, except for the publicists promoting the DVD release. Of them, only “Freaks” (17), “Triumph of the Will” (15), “The Message” (11), “Baby Doll” (10), “Natural Born Killers” (8), “The Birth of a Nation” (7) and “Deep Throat” (4), resonated beyond the pages of Variety and the easily shocked New York Times. And, while advertised screenings of “Birth of a Nation” can still raise the hackles of civil-rights activists, few of the others would generate the heat today that “Cannibal Holocaust” still can. Anyone who’s ever wanted to clear a room full of vegans, PETA members and feminists would need only slip this baby onto the DVD player and let it run for about 10 minutes. If anyone saw you do it, though, you’d be hung from the rafters and your estate would be sued for emotional reparations.

Released in 1980, “Cannibal Holocaust” is an extension of “Mondo Cane” and other reality-based shockumentaries popular in the 1960s. As such, it relied far less on special effects scenes than the traditional practices and rituals of the native Amazonian tribes the filmmakers encountered. Italian director Ruggero Deodato learned his craft from working alongside neo-realist pioneer Roberto Rossellini (“Open City”) and spaghetti-western specialist Sergio Corbucci (“Dango”). Before “Cannibal Holocaust,” Deodato made a splash with the still-enjoyable Italian polizieschi “Live Like a Cop, Die Like a Man”; the officially designated “video nasty,” “House on the Edge of the Park”; and virtual prequel, “Last Cannibal World.”  As nasty as “Cannibal Holocaust” is, then, Deodato couldn’t be accused of being a genre hack. Indeed, frequent collaborator Gianfranco Clerici was better known for exploitation fare, with writer’s credit on “Nazi Love Camp 27,” “Confessions of Emanuelle” and “Murder-Rock: Dancing Death.” Together, they found an angle for “Cannibal Holocaust” that allegedly commented on the wave of terrorist kidnappings in Europe and reporters who poured gasoline on fiery situations to heat up a controversy. Consequently, more than a few critics argued that the merits of the story outweighed the horrors on display. The story opens with New York University anthropologist Harold Monroe (Robert Kerman) returns from a rescue mission to the Amazon rainforest with footage shot by a lost team of filmmakers and evidence they were murdered. They were in the thoroughly untamed wilderness to make a documentary about tribes known to enhance their diets of monkeys, snakes, rodents and other critters with human flesh. When Monroe showed the footage to a network news producer, she became so excited by the first couple of reels that a special report was scheduled. It wasn’t until the rest of the footage was screened that the truth about the reporters’ methodology was revealed.

What was shocking then and remains disturbing today are scenes in which a coatimundi, large turtle, gigantic spider, snake, a squirrel monkey and wild pig are killed, slaughtered and devoured before our eyes. Although such things happen every day in the rainforest – none of the meat actually went to waste – the processing of the animals is almost unbearable to watch. (The animals didn’t appear to be enjoying their role in the film, either.) Moreover, the film also includes scenes of violent death and rape that were so realistic that Deodato was, in fact, put on trial for making a snuff film. (The charges were dropped when a couple of the “slain” actors testified in his defense, but he was still forced to pay fines for obscenity.) Prominent in the marketing material are images of a native woman impaled on a 10-foot stake and put on display on the shore of a river as a warning to adulterers. The controversy caused “Cannibal Holocaust” to be banned in several countries, censored and pulled from circulation for years. Abridged versions have surfaced occasionally on video, but not in such a masterfully restored and remixed Blu-ray edition as is now available from Grindhouse Releasing. The company has essentially added a Criterion Collection sheen to the movie, which arrives in three-disc (two in hi-def and a remixed CD of Riz Ortolani’s musical score); feature-length commentary tracks, with  with Deodato and actors Robert Kerman (a.k.a., then-porn star R. Bolla), Carl Yorke and Francesca Ciardi; new interviews with Deodato, Ciardi, assistant director/co-star Salvo Basile and cameraman Roberto Forges Davazati; vintage interviews with Kerman, Yorke and Ortolani; still galleries and theatrical trailers from around the world; a glossy 24-page booklet containing liner notes by director Eli Roth, horror journalist Chas. Balun, Euro-music expert Gergely Hubai and Italian exploitation film authority Martin Biene; a reversible cover with original art by illustrator Rick Melton; and nine Easter eggs, including the Grindhouse theatrical re-release premiere and Necrophagia music video directed by Jim VanBebber. The interviews are unusually candid, especially in discussions about the killing of animals and the actors’ passionately negative reactions to them. A cruelty-free version of the movie is available in the package, which also contains a separate version of the film-within-the-film, “Last Road to Hell.”

The three other found-footage films that arrived this week are nowhere near as well-made and horrific as “Last Road to Hell,” even if every bit as much blood and gore are on display. Jack Thomas Smith’s “Infliction” purports to use actual assembled footage taken during a murder spree three years ago in North Carolina. How much, if any, is hard to determine, since the credits list the usual number of actors next to the names of the characters. Smith’s conceit is to bear witness in excruciating detail to the series of seemingly inexplicable attacks perpetrated by brothers wielding sharp objects and a video camera. Just as one begins to entertain thoughts about hitting the “stop” button, however, the roots of the spree are revealed and we’re asked to decide who the real villains are here. In my opinion, it comes too late to erase the bad taste left by exceedingly graphic violence.

The found-footage material in “Afflicted” derives from a planned Internet travel show, in which a bunch of cool dudes visit traditional destinations and do the things that cool dudes do when confronted by great natural beauty, babes in bikinis and discos. (Much of the film appears to take place in and around Dubrovnik.) When one of the hosts is diagnosed with a life-threatening disease, he decides to go on with the journey, anyway. On one of the stops, he meets a gorgeous local lady who appears to have put a curse on him … not that he needs another one. It manifests itself in the projectile vomiting of large volumes of blood and, yes, it’s every bit as sickening to watch after the first 10 times as it sounds. The poor schlub also develops an overwhelming taste for the blood of other people, pigs or anything else with a working heart. It’s when he discovers that he’s not alone that “Afflicted” begins to get interesting, but, at 85 minutes, it comes a tad on the late side.

Anyone who’s seen Andrew Traucki’s “Black Water” and “The Jungle” already knows that the writer/director enjoys finding his brand of horror in nature, rather than haunted houses and boarded up sanitariums. In “The Jungle,” conservationist Larry Black (Rupert Reid) travels to the jungle of Indonesia to see if he can find the endangered Javanese leopard in its natural habitat. Because this is a found-footage flick, we already know what happened to Larry and his cohorts and it ain’t pretty. By wading through the film left behind – mostly uneventful hikes through the jungles at night — we eventually get a short, belated peek at the critters that ended his expedition. Once again, great patience is need to get to that point. – Gary Dretzka

Scavenger Killers
Some straight-to-DVD movies are so strange that they defy description. “Scavenger Killers” tells us what happens when a perverted judge and a sex-addict defense attorney join forces to kill clients, defendants, plaintiffs and anyone else who makes the mistake of getting in their way. The judge is played by onetime “Guiding Light” regular Robert Bogue, while the role of blond-bombshell lawyer is filled by Rachel Robbins, whose immortal credits include “Bikini Bloodbath Christmas,” “Bikini Bloodbath Car Wash,” “Vampire Lesbian Kickboxers” and “Dr. Horror’s Erotic House of Idiots.” “Scavenger Killers” might also be notable for having been written by prolific hack Ken Del Vecchio, himself a novelist, lawyer and onetime judge. On Del Vecchio’s Facebook page, he’s also credited as publisher of the New Jersey newspaper, Garden State Journal and chairman of the Hoboken International Film Festival. These are significant only because, according to, “Scavenger Killers” has only been shown publically at that event and Garden State’s movie critic described it thusly. “This is a movie that, if you have the stomach for it, you have to see. It will go down as one of the best in horror-movie history.” Most of the other critics represented on the site shared the opposite opinion. If all of these considerations weren’t sufficiently bizarre, however, it’s worth pondering how Del Vecchio managed to lure Eric Roberts, Charles Durning, Robert Loggia and Dustin Diamond to the project. True, Diamond probably would have paid Del Vecchio to be included in the cast and it’s likely that Roberts required his paycheck up front, but the presence of Loggia and Durning remains puzzling. On closer inspection, however, it appears as if both of those fine actors augmented their Social Security checks by accepting work in such cheesy projects. (Durning’s final two credits before his death last year, at 89, were in Del Vecchio movies.)  None of this is to suggest that “Scavenger Killers” is so bad it’s worth seeing, because it’s not. Only that bad movies sometimes make strange bedfellows. – Gary Dretzka

The Final Terror: Blu-ray
Unlike “Scavenger Killers,” a case can easily be made for “The Final Terror” being essential viewing for fans of movies lambasted in equal measure by critics, producers and fans. In fact, the monster-in-the-rainforest thriller was deemed so unwatchable after it was made, in 1981, that it sat forgotten on a shelf until someone recalled that its stars were becoming famous. They included Rachel Ward (“The Thorn Birds”), Daryl Hannah (“Blade Runner”), Adrian Zmed (“Grease 2”), Mark Metcalf (“Hill Street Blues”), Ernest Harden Jr. (“The Jeffersons”) and Joe Pantoliano (“Risky Business”). Director Andrew Davis had attracted a bit of attention in 1978 for “Stony Island,” his story about a group of young musicians coming of age simultaneously in the streets of Chicago, but was stymied by budget considerations and a tortured screenplay while surrounded by the Redwoods of southern Oregon. He would go on to make “Code of Silence,” “Above the Law” and “The Fugitive.” None the worse for the wear, producer Joe Roth eventually would become chairman of Walt Disney Studios and, last week, sold his long-dormant Revolution Studios for $250 million to Fortress Investment Group. That’s a remarkably impressive legacy for an inconsequential slasher flick, but such thing happen every day in Hollywood, or so we’ve been led to believe.

According to the folks at Scream Factory, “This release was a challenge for us to execute. All of the original film elements (negative and inter-positive) were lost and we searched for them for months. In order to create this new HD transfer, we sourced five film prints from collectors and used the best reels.” (Collectors?) “Final Terror” looks pretty good in Blu-ray, considering how neglected it’s been over the past 30 years. Unfortunately, the appearances of the boogeymen and women is pretty anticlimactic. Their makeup and costumes appear to have been something of an afterthought, as well, possibly victims of budget restraints. It adds new audio commentary with Davis and new interviews with actors Zmed and Lewis Smith, post- production supervisor Allan Holzman and composer Susan Justin. – Gary Dretzka

Operation Petticoat: Blu-ray
It wasn’t until “Operation Petticoat,” I’m guessing, that most of the elements of what would become known as a Blake Edwards’ film began to coalesce. By 1959, he’d already written and/or directed a few not-terribly-memorable features, but what he did best was create entertaining television series featuring manly-men protagonists and sexy babes. Even in DVD, “Peter Gunn” remains one of the great P.I. entertainments of our time. Everything seemed to come together for him, though, on this occasionally raucous, irreverent and frequently ribald wartime comedy. Edwards had already demonstrated a rapport with co-lead Tony Curtis and writer Stanley Shapiro, so having an old pro like Cary Grant aboard the pink submarine could only help smooth the road to theaters. Neither did it hurt the odds for success that sailors aboard the decrepit USS Sea Tiger would be surrounded by a half-dozen gorgeous army nurses, rescued from a precariously held island in the Pacific island. At a time in Hollywood history when actresses were valued as much for their figures as their ability to read dialogue, I can only imagine what the casting sessions for “Operation Petticoat” might have been like. By then, Dina Merrill may have had the clout to avoid the shenanigans, but there was never a shortage of bosomy beauties in a Blake Edwards comedy. Here, at least, large breasts were an integral part of the gag. Maneuvering the tight spaces on a WWII submarine was difficult enough, without also having to squeeze past a set of 38-double-Ds or dance the limbo under a clothes line with stockings and girdles hanging from it.

In 1959, the Production Code was still diligently enforced by blue-nosed censors. The lengths to which Edwards and Shapiro went to keep the dialogue from being completely diluted often are as hilariously ridiculous as anything that might have passed muster, even 10 years later. (Legend has it that Tina Louise turned down the role of Nurse Crandall, which went to Joan O’Brien, because she didn’t like the abundant boob jokes directed at the character.) The script also benefitted from the fact that some of the best bits were inspired by actual incidents that took place in WWII, including the pink paint job on the Sea Tiger and the torpedoing of a Japanese truck on the beach of an occupied island. TV junkies will enjoy seeing younger versions of Gavin MacLeod (“The Love Boat”), Marion Ross (“Happy Days”) and Dick Sargent (“Bewitched”). – Gary Dretzka

Syfy: Helix: Season 1: Blu-ray
Nickelodeon: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Good, the Bad and Casey Jones
Nickelodeon: Legend of Korra: Book Two: Spirits: Blu-ray
Directly inspired by John Carpenter’s “The Thing,” which, itself, was directly influenced by Christian Nyby and Howard Hawks’ classic 1951 thriller, “The Thing From Another World,” the Syfy mini-series “Helix” takes 13 episodes to do what those two pictures did in a little more than three hours. It does so with all of the benefits of CGI and other digital chicanery unavailable, even in 1981, to the filmmakers. If Season One of “Helix” would have benefitted from being six or seven hours shorter, it can’t be said that it didn’t give the Syfy audience its money’s worth of entertainment. That isn’t always the case at Syfy. Here, once again, the overwhelming sense of isolation and dread among scientists stationed in an Arctic research facility becomes palpable early in the 90-minute pilot episode. A team of specialists from the Centers for Disease Control is called to the Army-backed station when terrible things begin to happen to a small core of researchers working on a virus-related project. Among them is the brother of the leader of the CDC unit. The immediate recommendation to quarantine the possibly infected researchers doesn’t sit well with the rambunctious assemblage of people who should know better than to risk spreading the disease in a closed environment. The mice and monkeys can be excused from understanding the ramifications, however, and pay the price when they attempt to escape into the frigid Arctic night … poor things. The six episodes’ worth of padding takes the form of exceedingly hyperbolic dialogue, useless squabbling, an ever-shifting gallery of suspects and, of course, romantic intrigue between the buff guys and uniformly stacked women. The nerd-to-fox ratio is completely out of whack for a sci-fi series. On the other hand, it’s always a good sign when Jeri Ryan is brought in from the bullpen to provide midseason relief for a series that needs a good jolt of fresh air. The DVD/Blu-ray contains commentaries, deleted scenes and four featurettes: “Dissecting the Characters,” “The Art of Isolation,” “The Future of Disease” and “Ronald D. Moore: The Outlier of Science Fiction.”

Pop quiz: which character doesn’t belong in the same sentence as Leonardo, Raphael, Donatello and Michelangelo, A) The Shredder, B) Dogpound, C) Fishface, D) Casey Jones, E) None of the above? Devout fans of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles need not bother to answer the question, which most of them would deem to be ridiculously easy. Here, “None of the above” not only is the safe answer, but the correct one, as well. Not being someone who follows “TMNT” as religiously as my favorite sports teams, I would have guessed Casey Jones. That was before I received the latest Paramount/Nickelodeon release, “The Good, the Bad and Casey Jones,” in which the titular teen vigilante plays a prominent role. The venerable human-vigilante character dates back to 1990, when, in the original live-action movies, he was portrayed by Elias Koteas. Today, in Nickelodeon’s animated version, the hockey-stick wielding character is voiced by Josh Peck (“Ice Age”). The new set is comprised of six episodes from the current season: “Slash and Destroy,” with Corey Feldman, the original voice of Donatello, returning as the voice of Slash; “The Kraang Conspiracy,” in which we finally discover what the aliens want with April (Mae Whitman); “The Good, the Bad and Casey Jones”; “Fungus Humungous,” during which hallucinogenic mushrooms begin growing in the sewers; “Metalhead Rewired,” featuring Donatello and his robotic creation; “Of Rats and Men,” with a newly fortified Rat King.”

Like M. Night Shyamalan’s critically singed “The Last Airbender,” “The Legend of Korra,” is a sequel to the popular animated series, “Avatar: The Last Airbender,” which was shown on Nickelodeon from 2005 to 2008. At the time, I had no idea what being an air-bender entailed and the overwhelming negative reviews discouraged me from pursuing the subject, until now. It did OK at the international box-office, anyway. Both TV series were created by Bryan Konietzko and Michael Dante DiMartino, who discovered interesting ways to merge Japanimation and traditional American animation into a story heavily influenced by pan-Asian fantasy, mythology and martial arts, of which air-bending is a fictional discipline. Here, people can manipulate, or “bend,” the elements of water, earth, fire and air, but only one person, the “Avatar,” can bend all four elements. That person is responsible for maintaining balance in the world. In “Book Two: Spirits,” a young woman named Koora has been chosen to advance the tradition, which has begun to fray on the edges of society. She volunteers to travel to the home of the Southern Water Tribes, where she’ll be able to jump-start her spiritual quest. The Blu-ray captures the soft color palette very well, even if it doesn’t always look as sharp and persuasive as the “TMNT” DVD. – 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