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David Poland

By David Poland

20 Weeks To Oscar: Oscar Zit Of The Day


Wasn’t it just 48 hours ago that I wrote about the foolishness of reconsidering Selma as a work of art because of what may a legitimate beef on the detail of the film by a witness to a part of the history the film covers?

Now we have an eruption from the only participating central subject in Foxcatcher, Mark Schultz. He is angry, angry, angry at Bennett Miller (and surely, unnamed co-conspirators E. Max Frye and Dan Futterman), who is (are) at the front of the line—as Ava DuVernay and Selma are—as possible Oscar nominees in what has now been whittled to a very small field.

To wit…
Screen Shot 2014-12-31 at 10.42.48 AM

That’s a lot of anger.

The situation is a little different from Selma in that Foxcatcher doesn’t portray an important moment in history (except to its participants) and all involved have always been open about the film’s version of events being fictionalized, and is not performing as a tick-tock of the precise history. But still, after having worked with the actors on set and supporting the release of the movie, something has clearly enraged Mark Schultz.

And if you read his Facebook post, that something becomes pretty clear. Critics who interpreted the relationship between Mark Schultz and John duPont as literally sexual.

I will say, before I post the Facebook rant, that I never interpreted this relationship as actively sexual. There is something deeply creepy about duPont and I saw duPont in the film as sexually confused. But I don’t believe the film offers any reason to think that Mark Schultz engaged in sexual relations with duPont.

That said, I do see the film as being about a search for a parent. And Mark Schultz says he is pissed off about that too. He Facebooks, “I never looked up to duPont as a mentor, leader, father figure.” And later, “Dave was my older brother, not a father-figure.” To me, those ideas are both central in Bennett Miller’s vision of Foxcatcher. But I also see this as an issue of interpretation, not of something like claiming that a real-life individual engaged in sexual acts they say publicly is not of their proclivity. I do not think that Bennett claimed that and if I did, I might be more sympathetic to Schultz’s anger on this.

So… the Facebook post…

Mark Schultz Facebook statement 2014-12-31 at 10.57.10 AM

As I mentioned before, no one on Team Foxcatcher (and here are my DP/30 interviews with Bennett Miller, screenwriters Frye & Futterman, Mark Ruffalo, and Steve Carell) has ever claimed that the film did not take liberties with the facts. But such is the nature of art.

Read it. Absorb it. Watch the movie for what the movie is. Move on.

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4 Responses to “20 Weeks To Oscar: Oscar Zit Of The Day”

  1. Patryk says:

    Schultz needs serious help. Sounds like steroid rage to me.

  2. Daniella Isaacs says:

    This surprises anyone, that someone, and a heterosexual wrestler at that, would freak out after reading that people are interpreting a film’s account of his relationship with a repulsive killer as having been potentially sexual? This isn’t about “art taking liberties with facts,” this is about run of the mill homophobia on the part of a straight jock who must have gotten really freaked out by critics mulling over various potential subtexts. Of course, to be fair, even if it had been a male/female pair, who want to be thought of as having been sexually involved with a repulsive killer? Still, the more Schultz complains the worse it will be for his reputation. He’s just bringing attention to the possibility he’s trying to deny.

  3. Daniella Isaacs says:

    Thinking about this… Does anyone think Schultz’ rant will actually hurt the film? If anything, it will help it both in terms of ticket buyers’ interest and Oscars. The creative community isn’t going to respond well to thuggish threats by someone melting down over garden variety dramatic license done to a non-fiction book. Nobody in the Academy is going to give THE INTERVIEW nominations to make a statement about artistic freedom, but it they’re on the veeerrry cusp about voting for this film (as many seem to be), they just might.

  4. joshua says:

    mulling over various potential subtexts?it seems pretty clear that this was an intentional implication. Likely homosexuality exists within Team Foxcatcher and so someone in the movie has to be gay too. Everyone is gay after all.

Quote Unquotesee all »

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