MCN Columnists
Gary Dretzka

By Gary Dretzka

The DVD Wrapup; Curling, God Help the Girl, Like Sunday Like Rain, Escape From New York and more

While traveling through Southeast Asia, Noel Coward observed that no one except, “Mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun.” If he had visited Quebec in January or February, I wonder what he mighthave said about the folks who insist on going about their business as normal, even in temperatures verging on ridiculously cold. We meet one such person in Jean-François (Emmanuel Bilodeau), who performs menial maintenance tasks at a 5-pin bowling alley and a no-tell motel, while his daughter, Julyvonne (Philomène Bilodeau, and, yes, they’re related), is condemned to home-schooling in a house too remote to be accessible to anyone in the town. Jean-Francois is afraid that exposure to negative elements could result in her ending up in prison, just like her mother. The problem is, he’s exactly the kind of paranoid numbskull who shouldn’t be allowed to home-school his or any other child. Even his boss, who’s sympathetic to his limitations, describes him as “the kind of fool who jumps in the lake to get out of the rain.” Julyvonne’s lack of exposure to the rest of world has caused some people to believe she’s retarded, which she’s not.

Like Xavier Dolan and Denis Villeneuve, New Brunswick native Denis Côté (Vic + Flo Saw a Bear, Bestiaire) is an emerging force in the international cinema and his work deserves to be seen well beyond the French-speaking marketplace. Curling may be a prime example of minimalist filmmaking, but watching father and daughter emerge from their respective cocoons can be extremely fulfilling. What little comedy exists in Curling is dark, mysterious and handled capably by writer/director Cote. The sport of curling does figure in the narrative, but not as much as in Paul Gross’ kooky 2002 comedy, Men With Brooms, co-starring fellow Canadians Molly Parker and Leslie Nielsen. Anyone who can make curling entertaining to folks living north of, say, Duluth is either very imaginative or is a big fan of the Winter Olympics. Here it’s simply an activity, like bowling, that keeps residents occupied during the long winter nights. Thanks to Josée Deshaies’ empathetic cinematography, this corner of Quebec does look like a forbidding place to spend winter. If this makes Curling sound hopelessly dreary, it’s enigmatic ending should lift viewers’ spirits.

God Help the Girl
Life Inside Out
Something tells me that Stuart Murdoch’s underappreciated musical fantasy, God Help the Girl, might have found its rightful audience if the title were a bit more precise in targeting its intended audience. Something like, “MTV Presents ‘God Help the Girl’” or “Belle and Sebastian Want You to See This Movie” or “Love in the Time of Retro Rock.’” Inspired by B&S’ 2009 album of the same title, the mix of catchy pop tunes and teen angst immediately recalls John Carney’s irresistible Once, and Julie Taymor’s Across the Universe. If you hated those pictures, there isn’t much chance you’ll like this one. Indeed, several mainstream critics seemed to enjoy slamming it. There’s no denying the appeal of the actors, who wouldn’t be out of place in a movie about Carnaby Street in London’s Swinging ’60s. Australian pixie Emily Browning (Sucker Punch) plays Eve, a college-age Glaswegian who starts writing songs during a stay in a mental-health clinic for anorexia. Against the wishes of her therapists, Eve one day decides to fly the coop and find kindred musical spirits who might consider recording her songs. They impress singer-guitarist James (Olly Alexander, of Years and Years) and his music student, Cassie (Hannah Murray, of “Skins”) enough to start the band, God Help the Girl. As it turns out, Eve’s doctors probably were correct in surmising that she wasn’t quite ready for life in the rock-‘n’-roll lane. There’s a thread of melancholy that runs through the entire score, but is relieved by some genuinely peppy material that accompanies dance routines in the film. I may be a long way from the target demographic for God Help the Girl, but I think that word-of-mouth from the DVD could turn it into a cult attraction. Special features include deleted scenes, “Origin” and a music video.

The redemptive power of music isn’t a rare or unusual subject in the family-friendly flicks that carry the Dove seal of approval. Typically, though, the songs contained therein are of faith-based persuasion. When hard-core musicians hit rock bottom, for example, they tend to find relief in the arms of the church choir. This is OK, as far as it goes, but hardly original. Jill D’Agnenica’s Life Inside Out takes a different approach to reach the same destination. The musician in question, Laura (actress/co-writer Maggie Baird), is a “woman of a certain age,” who fulfills a popular fantasy by returning to her song-writing roots when her husband’s career blows up in his face. Instead of attempting to pursue a career in “scrapbooking,” with her sister and friends, Laura pulls her guitar case out of the closet and fights to return to the place she left when she got married and dedicated herself to raising three now-teenage boys. One of them, Shane (Finneas O’Connell, of “Glee”), has lost his will to participate in school activities and has become a pain in the ass at home. It doesn’t help that his brothers and his friends are pricks. In the most accidental way possible, Shane feeds off his mother’s renewed passion for music by discovering an innate talent of his own. Although some of the plot elements here might seem a tad contrived and predictable, more than a few surprises will reward viewers’ patience.  The DVD adds commentary, deleted scenes and additional performances. The music is quite good, as well.

Like Sunday, Like Rain
In 1994, Frank Whaley starred alongside Kevin Spacey in Swimming With Sharks, one of the best movies ever made about working one’s way up the corporate ladder in Hollywood. He’d also impressed critics with key roles in The Doors, Born on the Fourth of July, Field of Dreams, Swing Kids and Pulp Fiction. If, in 2015, he’s better known as “that guy in …,” it’s not because his career tanked or good roles fell into other people’s laps. Instead, Whaley’s dedication to indie films and the stage offered opportunities he found more appealing. He’s written and directed several indie features, Joe the King, New York City Serenade, The Jimmy Show and, most recently, Like Sunday, Like Rain, and found work on television, playing meaty parts on “Buddy Faro,” “The Dead Zone” and “Ray Donovan.” If his features found surer traction on the festival circuit than in theaters. Like Sunday, Like Rain, at least, deserves a big shot on DVD. Far from perfect, it can be recommended simply for the performances turned in by Leighton Meester and newcomer Julian Shatkin. The “Gossip Girl” alum portrays a hard-luck beauty from Upstate New York, Eleanor, who, after moving to the city, compounds the mistake of falling in love with a punk-rock musician (Billie Joe Armstrong, Green Day), with expecting him not to turn Neanderthal when she throws his guitar out of the window during a squabble.  (Clean-cut Eleanor doesn’t look as if she’s ever been in the middle of a mosh pit, let slept alone with a band member.)

After Dennis throws a tantrum in the restaurant in which she works, the penniless Eleanor is fired and forced to scrounge around for work. Conveniently, she scores a live-in assignment as a nanny for a 12-year-old cello prodigy, Reggie, who makes no attempt to endear himself with Eleanor or viewers.  Depressed, jaded and world weary, Reggie is well on his way to becoming the next Oscar Levant. His filthy-rich mother (Debra Messing) thinks the hardest part of mothering is a hiring people to perform the tasks she isn’t remotely interested in doing. For his part, Reggie pays his chauffeur, maid and camp counselor to ignore his mother’s directions and allow him to do his own thing when she’s out of town. Eleanor is, at first, put off by the boy’s impatience with her lack of experience as nanny and what he perceives to be an inferior IQ and intellectual growth. Because she needs the job every bit as much as he needs a good spanking, Whaley finds a way to put them on equal footing. The surprising part is how natural their relationship becomes after an understanding is reached and their strengths become complementary. If Like Sunday, Like Rain is short on belly laughs, its big heart and quiet surprises make up for them. The only DVD extra is an interview with Whaley, during which he answers the softball questions with wiseass replies.

Supremacy: Blu-ray
The true incident upon which Supremacy is based was so disturbing that the psycho-sociological embellishments employed by the filmmakers to score points about racism with viewers not only feels manipulative, but completely unnecessary, as well. Blatant racism is never pleasant to encounter, in real life and on the screen, but to have one’s face rubbed in it for the entire length of a 106-minute movie borders on cruel and unusual punishment. In 1996, a just-paroled Garrett Tully (Joe Anderson) is being chauffeured home to Bakersfield by the girlfriend, Doreen (Dawn Olivieri), of a fellow Aryan Brother inmate at the “supermax” Pelican Bay State Prison. After Garrett turns down a welcome-back blow job on the side of the highway, Doreen hands him a loaded handgun as a consolation prize. Tully grasps the weapon as if it were the lover he’d waited 13 years to embrace, leading us to believe that it won’t be long before he does something to earn a return trip to the northern California stockade. When he uses it to murder a sheriff’s deputy on a routine traffic stop – they’re actually casing a store to rob — it provides the orgasmic release Doreen failed to accomplish. Not even 24 hours from his release, Tully and Doreen are the subject of an intense manhunt. Before being captured, they invaded a nearby home and took the family hostage. That much of the story is portrayed with reasonable accuracy. Of all the NoCal homes in which director Deon Taylor and writer Eric J. Adams could have elected for them to take refuge, however, wouldn’t you know that it would probably be the only one within miles inhabited by an African-American family (Danny Glover, Lela Rochon, Evan Ross, Robin Bobeau). They also chose to make the slain cop black.

Sadly, the coincidence allows the filmmakers carte blanche to pepper Tully’s dialogue with language that wouldn’t have been out of place at a Ku Klux Klan rally in the heat of Mississippi’s Freedom Summer. None of the members of the multigenerational Walker family is spared his racist venom, which is so toxic even Doreen feels compelled at one point to apologize for it. Instead of merely stealing the keys to the family car, Tully spends most of the night waving his gun around the kitchen and threatening to shoot the “niglet” infant if their demands aren’t met. By allowing them to waste precious time venting their rage, however, the filmmakers have dug Garrett and Doreen a hole from which there’s no hope of escape. It’s the kind of claustrophobic scenario that might have worked better on stage, where all of our attention is focused tightly on the credibility of the characters and machinations of the standoff. On film, however, the intensity of the mindless vitriol constantly distracts us from Tully’s attempts to play one family member against the other. Because we’ve already been told that he’s No. 3 in the hierarchy of the Aryan Brotherhood, there’s really no use to bang us over the head with the n-word and its derivatives. In real life, Robert Walter Scully Jr. and Elaine Watters did murder Deputy Sheriff Frank Trejo and were captured under similar circumstances. I couldn’t, however, determine if the residents were African-American. Too bad the language gets in the way of the message.

Hit By Lightning
Despite his 12-year run as lovable nebbish Alan Harper, on “Two and a Half Men,” baby-boomers will forever recall Jon Cryer as Molly Ringwald’s hovering best friend, Duckie, in Pretty in Pink. Unlike Duckie, whose rockabilly hairdo has probably been immortalized in a Hollywood hair museum, Cryer no longer hides the fact that he’s nearly completely bald and, last week, turned the big 5-0. In Ricky Blitt’s dark and unconvincing rom-com, Hit by Lightning, he plays a loveless loser who gets the kind of good-news/bad-news wakeup call all such jinxed characters expect when something nice happens to them. At 40, Ricky and his accountant pal, Seth (Will Sasso), have come to sad realization that they are the only unattached men left in their high school class. To remedy this, Ricky has reluctantly joined to find a proper mate. The good news arrives in the heavenly form of Danita (Stephanie Szostak), a suspiciously vivacious woman who wastes no time jumping into the sack with him. In classic film noir twist, Danita then reveals she’s already married to a crime novelist and former rabbi, Ben (Jed Rees), and she needs Ricky’s assistance in killing him. Before Seth can spit out, “cherchez la femme,” viewers will have sized up the ramifications of such a collaboration. Has Ricky watched the same movies and learned the same lessons as Fred MacMurray’s poor sap insurance salesman in Double Indemnity or is he destined to repeat them? Cryer’s fans may be willing to overlook Blitt’s ham-handed direction here, but others probably will regret not having picked up a copy of the original, instead.

Everly: Blu-ray
Perhaps to demonstrate that she can be every bit the action star as Angelina Jolie, Uma Thurman, Michelle Rodriguez, Michelle Yeoh and Kate Beckinsale – while also looking insanely hot in a torn white blood-splattered slip — it’s difficult to understand what Salma Hayek is doing in this video game of a movie. She’s done the bad-ass things several times already and, on the cusp of 50, certainly has nothing to prove in that department. Because Everly’s finer points are lost in the muddle of a minimalist narrative, it’s never precisely clear why a Yakuza militia has been assigned the task of over-killing her. It’s pretty safe to assume that Everly’s considered to be the property of a tyrannical Japanese gangster, Taiko (Hiroyuki Watanabe), against whom she’s turned state’s evidence or betrayed in a less formal way. In return, Taiko uses the occasion of Christmas to make her a present of the severed head of a police detective. Wave after wave of assassins are then sent into her apartment building – including bounty-hunting prostitutes — to fill her full of bullets, slice-and-dice her with finely honed blades, or tear her to pieces with explosive devices. Co-writer/director Joe Lynch has designed Everly’s apartment in such a way that she can dodge most of the metal projectiles and samurai swords, while licking the wounds caused by the ones that make contact. Her drive to remain alive is as strong as it is because her mother and child also are targeted in the assault. An actor of Hayek’s status brings high expectations to any role she accepts, and that’s Everly’s biggest problem. We’re always aware of the fact that it’s Hayek we’re watching, instead of a stone-cold warrior played by an up-and-coming actor hoping to use the role as a springboard to superstardom. Otherwise, action junkies will find plenty to savor here, especially the frenetic pace of the attack; imaginative array of assailants; and mega-decibel soundtrack. The Blu-ray adds commentary with Lynch, co-producer Brett Hedblom and editor Evan Schiff and second track with Lynch and cinematographer Steve Gainer. A music video of “Silent Night,” directed by Lynch, is performed by Raya Yarborough and Bear McCreary.

Blind Woman’s Curse: Blu-Ray
When I first became aware of martial-arts movies, Bruce Lee was so far above the rest of the pack that everything else paled by comparison. In his wake, most of the genre flicks available to American grindhouse and drive-in audiences felt stupid and irrelevant. Released at about the same time as Lee was becoming a household name in this country — and newly made available in Blu-ray by Arrow Video — Blind Woman’s Curse is representative of a period in Japanese cinema when practically anything was fair game, except pubic hair. In it, notorious writer/director Teruo Ishii combines martial arts with Yakuza, horror, gore, sexploitation and slapstick comedy in a way that is as fun to watch, today, as it must have been for buffs in its day. Also known as “Black Cat’s Revenge,” “Strange Tales of Dragon Tattoo,” “The Haunted Life of a Dragon-Tattooed Lass” and “The Tattooed Swordswoman,” Blind Woman’s Curse tells the story of Akemi Tachibana (Meiko Kaji), the young heir apparent of the Tachibana gang. In a showdown between Akemi and the rival gang leader responsible for her father’s death, she accidentally blinds his sister Aiko (Hoki Tokuda, who, in 1999, would marry author Henry Miller). Ever since, Akemi has suffered from nightmares and come to believe that she is cursed by a cat that means to suck her blood. Three years after being sentenced to a prison with other bad-ass women, Akemi returns to her gang absent much of her old bravado. Not to worry, though, because the sightless Aiko has used the same three-year period to recuperate from her calamitous wound and is itching to get her revenge. (She wouldn’t by the only blind swordsman in the genre.) Akemi, too, is forced to get herself back in fighting trim. This is some extremely wild stuff, complete with some of the coolest tattoos in movie history and other abhorrent behavior. Arrow Video did a nice job with Ishii’s color scheme and traditional music. It adds commentary by Japanese cinema expert Jasper Sharp; the original trailers for four of the films in the Meiko Kaji-starring Stray Cat Rock series, made at the same studio as Blind Woman’s Curse; reversible sleeve, featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Gilles Vranckx; and collector’s booklet, featuring new writing on the film by Japanese cinema expert Tom Mes, illustrated with original archive stills.

Sweet Lorraine
It isn’t often that a movie with as much star power as Sweet Lorraine comes around to rival the travesties perpetrated on the American movie-going public by Edward D. Wood Jr., the fellow who inspired the time-honored kiss-off, “so bad, it’s good.” With a cast that includes Tatum O’Neal in the lead role, Steven Bauer, Julianne Michelle, Peter Greene, Jimmie Walker, Scott William Winters and Robyn Peterson, the dubious political satire Sweet Lorraine would be unwatchable if it weren’t so hysterically ludicrous. Academy Award-winner O’Neal plays the wife of a New Jersey minister on the same mayoral ticket as a mob-connected bozo (Bauer) who’s schtupping their randy teenage daughter (Michelle). Their opponent (Winters) is on the down-low as a cross-dresser, who frequents the same nightclub where Lorraine (Tatum) secretly participates in women’s boxing matches and J.J. performs magic tricks. And, that’s just for starters. The man responsible for this mess, Christopher C. Frieri, whose resume includes I Was a Teenage Mummy, The Orbitrons and The Stranger (“A cynical tattooed loser first loses his job as a janitor in a bar run by a dwarf, then loses his mind.”), hasn’t made a movie in more than 20 years and none of them featured a recognizable actor. How he lured such name actors to Sweet Lorraine is a mystery, indeed. I hope they got paid ahead of time. Needless to say, the DVD includes no extras.

Escape From New York: Collector’s Edition: Blu-ray
Breakin’/Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo: Blu-ray
Ghoulies / Ghoulies II: Blu-ray
Like Walter Hill’s The Warriors, John Carpenter’s Escape From New York stands today as an artifact of a period in time when the Big Apple was circling the drain and the Disneyfication of Times Square was so far from the realm of possibility that only the most Pollyannish of visionaries would risk humiliation by even mentioning it. The city was bankrupt, crime-ridden and filthy. If a great seismic event had caused the five boroughs to separate themselves from the rest of the state, the legislature probably wouldn’t have freed the funds necessary to pay for a fleet of tugboats to repatriate them. The prevailing attitude on New York’s future allowed Carpenter and co-writer Nick Castle the luxury of setting their dystopian vision in 1997, only 16 years in the future. By this time, Manhattan and Liberty Island have, indeed, been cut off from the rest of New York, as they’ve become a dumping ground for hoodlums, parasites and assorted other miscreants. The bridges have been mined and tunnels bricked up to prevent them access to the rest of the world. When Air Force One crash lands inside the perimeter, the notorious outlaw and former Special Forces war hero Snake Plissken (Kurt Russell) is coerced into agreeing to rescue the president (Donald Pleasence) before the bad guys can locate his hiding place and use him as a bargaining chip. To discourage Snake from skipping out on the assignment, an explosive device with a 24-hour electronic fuse is implanted in his neck. The rest, of course, is cult-classic history. Russell’s gritty portrayal of the one-eyed Plissken freed him from the chains he’d carried with him since his days as a Disney regular, while the movie, itself, served as a template for dozens of action fantasies to come. The Blu-ray upgrade from Shout! Factory includes commentaries with actress Adrienne Barbeau and director of photographer Dean Cundey, Carpenter and Russell, and producer Debra Hill and production designer Joe Alves; a separate disc adds several good making-of featurettes in hi-def; interviews; a deleted opening bank-robbery sequence; and photo galleries.

Like so many skeletons in Hollywood’s closet, Shout! Factory is also resurrecting double-features of movies that probably should have remained buried and forgotten. Ghoulies and Ghoulies II borrow liberally from Joe Dante’s Gremlins, with hand-puppet critters who emerge from the toilets of hell to torment a group of college kids who dare to summon the devil in a bargain-basement ritual. In the sequel, the surviving gremlins hitch a ride in Satan’s Den, a traveling House of Horror operated by carnival workers who are facing foreclosure on their truck and trailer. Not at all scary, Ghoulies is best suited to kids who are beginning to embrace horror. The package arrives with commentary, new interviews and deleted scenes.

No 1980s retrospective would be complete without Breakin’, Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo!, which does for break dancing what Roller Boogie did for inline skating and Perfect did for hot babes in leotards, headbands and ankle warmers. In the former, Lucinda Dickey plays a rich girl who avoids the advances of her dance instructor by teaming up with street dancers Ozone and Turbo to become “a poppin’ and lockin’ princess.” In the follow-up, the dancers take on a greedy real-estate developer seeking to close their studio space.

Mysteries of the Unseen World 3D: Blu-ray
We’ve all seen the frightening photographs taken of mites and other minute creatures by scientists using electron microscopes. If possible, imagine a horror movie in which species exponentially smaller, hairier and creepier than the critters in Antz, A Bug’s Life and Bee Movie, combined, are digitally captured and inserted into stories not dissimilar to Fantastic Voyage, Honey, I Shrunk the Kids or Journey to the Center of the Earth. The National Geographic presentation Mysteries of the Unseen World employs advanced high-speed and time-lapse photography, electron microscopy and nanotechnology in the service of a documentary that is designed to alert us to phenomena that can’t be seen with the naked eye. Everything from skin follicles to particles of outer-space waste are as common and prevalent as the air we breathe and water we drink. Most of us have also seen super-slo-mo images of bullets blasting through pieces of fruit or watermelons being dropped on concrete. Here, these images are slowed down to the point where it might take several seconds for that same bullet to pass through an apple or we can observe how individual drops of rain repeatedly break down into ever-smaller beads of water. Mysteries of the Unseen World also benefits mightily from being shot in color and 3D, giving it an otherworldly texture. Included is a featurette that explains in layman’s terms how the technology works and the movie was made.

Pivot: Fortitude: Blu-ray
PBS: Frontline: Being Mortal
PBS: Nature: The Last Orangutan Eden
Chiller: Deep in the Darkness: Blu-ray
Considering all of the time I’ve spent lately watching TV shows and movies set at or near the South and North Poles, almost the last thing I wanted to add to my must-watch list was the 12-part police-procedural series from Europe, “Fortitude.” Set in a tiny town north of the Arctic Circle in Norway, but shot in Reyðafjörður, Iceland, the story is as dense and disturbing as most mini-series get. It opens with the accidental shooting of a man by an elderly photographer (Michael Gambon), who’s scouting the icy seacoast for wildlife. In fact, the photographer was aiming at a polar bear that was mauling the poor guy, when Sheriff Dan Anderssen was taking aim at the predatory beast. Anderssen tells the frightened old man to go away and not worry about any investigation. Meanwhile, Governor Hildur Odegard (Sofie Gråbøl) is attempting to assure investors in a hotel to be built inside a nearby glacier – think Club Med on the rocks — that the absence of crime makes Fortitude an ideal destination for eco-tourists. Halfway through her presentation, the governor is informed of the murder of the professor who had reversed his opinion on the project, citing the recent discovery of woolly mammoth carcasses on the glacier. If that weren’t sufficient cause for alarm, the discovery of mumps in a local boy not only stirs fear that his father might have carried the disease with him after serving in Afghanistan, but also that mumps could lead to polio in unvaccinated residents. Two more residents simply disappear into thin air and a half-dozen secret sexual liaisons have been exposed as collateral damage in the investigation. And, that’s simply the first episode. A British forensics officer played by Stanley Tucci is enlisted to get to the bottom of this mess, but almost no one in Fortitude wants to cooperate with him. All of that established, mini-series creator Simon Donald (“Low Winter Sun”) slows the pace considerably to focus on the interaction of between impacted townsfolk and let his cast do the heavy lifting as each new plot twist is revealed and genre lines are crossed, a la David Lynch. The series has been renewed for a second season, so any investment in time won’t go to waste. The Blu-ray adds 30 minutes of bonus material, including interviews.

If fatally ill patients and their doctors have one thing in common, it’s that neither of them are comfortable coming to grips with the reality of death and dying. How could they be? “Hope is not a plan,” argues renowned surgeon and New Yorker writer Atul Gawande in the PBS/”Frontline” documentary “Being Mortal.” “We find from our trials that we are literally inflicting therapies on people that shorten their lives and increase their suffering, due to an inability to come to good decisions.” The film also explores the burgeoning art and science of palliative care and the ways in which having a conversation around the question “What are your priorities if your time is limited?” can empower patients to live their lives fully, all the way to the very end. The subject may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but being prepared for the inevitable shouldn’t be limited to the purchase of life insurance and burial plots.

The PBS/”Nature” documentary “The Last Orangutan Eden” takes us to the Leuser Ecosystem on the Indonesian island of Sumatra. It’s where an orphaned orangutan named Udin was raised in captivity by the not-for-profit Orangutan Project. Now deemed ready to be released into the wild, Udin’s progress will be followed by researchers who are comfortable working in the extreme conditions presented by the remote rainforest. It’s here that orangutans are sheltered by poachers and developers burning down the trees to facilitate the production of palm oil. In the film, getting is half the fun.

Based on a novel by Michael Laimo, the Chiller Network’s Deep in the Darkness borrows from a half-dozen better movies in the service of a story that is roughly divided in half between setup and execution. Sean Patrick Thomas plays Dr. Michael Cayle, a New York City physician anxious to trade the hustle-and-bustle of the big city for pastoral joys of life in puny Ashborough, New Hampshire. It takes a while before the family starts to notice that Ashborough might have been horror-master Ira Levin’s home away from home. What’s hiding just below the surface of this Stepford look-alike is an ancient tribe of hairy cave-dwelling savages, who have the locals scared shitless. Clearly, Cayle neglected to ask the right questions of the real-estate agent who negotiated the sale of the house. Although hardly the scariest movie available to renters, Deep in the Darkness represents above-average made-for-cable fare. Dean Stockwell is along for the ride as a town elder.

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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