MCN Columnists
Gary Dretzka

By Gary Dretzka

The DVD Wrapup: Everybody Wants Some!!, Allegiant, Belladonna, Van Gogh, Mecanix, Green Room, With Child, Dark Horse and more

Everybody Wants Some!!: Blu-ray

Best viewed as either an extension or follow-up to Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused and Boyhood, Everybody Wants Some!! once again explores the rites of passage attendant to post-Vietnam American youth. It describes how teenage boys, specifically those raised in Texas, take their first giant steps into manhood, demanding their independence from parental authority, while trading one nest for another, all to a soundtrack of whatever rock music was on the radio at the time. That so many of us recognize ourselves in Linklater’s characters and depictions of the coming-of-age process – mostly told from a young white male point of view — speaks to the commonality of experience in a nation homogenized by stimuli provided by the mass media. The stoners and slackers in Austin, circa May 1976, were then and still are interchangeable with those in Madison or Spokane, while Mason’s boyhood journey resonated with anyone who grew up outside major cities at a time when divorce was commonplace and adults couldn’t be counted upon to serve as role models. Typical of Linklater’s stories, a girl or young woman will emerge as a catalyst for change in the life of the male protagonist, but, by and large, he keeps them in the background. At best, it’s a way to demonstrate how females mature faster than males, but are no match for their aggressively stupid behavior in testosterone-heavy settings. The focus in Everybody Wants Some!! is on a houseful of college athletes – ranging from incoming freshmen to out-going seniors — left to their own devices over the course of a long weekend before the first day of classes. The adult supervision is provided by a coach who briefly visits the house and warns them against dissipating their energy before realizing the glory of a team championship. It’s 1980 at a generic college in south Texas, four years before President Reagan signed into law the National Minimum Drinking Age Act. Everyone is free to drink until they puke or ruin someone else’s life in a traffic accident. Drugs are every bit as prevalent as they were in “D&C.” Even though some of the ballplayers will be drafted by a Major Leagues team and given an opportunity to excel at the next level – under stricter adult supervision – others will enter adulthood as alcoholics and might-have-beens. It’s easy to imagine the characters we meet in Everybody Wants Some!! reuniting in an Austin bar, five years later, singing along to Bruce Springsteen’s “Glory Days,” while soon-to-be wealthy computer geeks and other onetime outcasts try desperately to ignore their caterwauling.

The protagonist here is Jake, an incoming freshman pitcher, who arrives on campus with the Knack’s “My Sharona” blasting away in his car. Like most freshmen, Jake probably would have benefitted from spending a semester or two in an on-campus dormitory, but, at the school’s Baseball House, he’s surrounded by guys destined to owe more to Matthew McConaughey’s David Wooderson, in “D&S,” than Derek Jeter. Jake, who one girl immediately pegs as “the quiet guy in the back seat,” quickly falls into line with the upperclassmen in their unsupervised revelry, demented hazing rituals and pursuit of mindless sex. School is still 48 hours away, so it’s easy to cut them some slack. Linklater wants us to see in Jake the kid who conceivably could rise above the hijinks and carve a path for himself on or off the diamond. Fortunately, he’s sufficiently self-aware to realize that college life might offer slightly more than one-night stands and baseball. He succeeds in re-connecting with Beverly (Zoey Deutch), the theater major who picked up on his quiet demeanor and may actually be as talented in her chosen discipline as he is in sports. Jake allows her to open his eyes to things he might have completely missed – including a party at which Beverly’s classmates act out their personal eccentricities while in “Alice in Wonderland” drag — if he had limited his horizons to the make-out room on the second floor of the Baseball House. If Beverly seems a bit too perfect a fit for Jake at this juncture in his life, it fits with the role played by other women in Linklater’s films. After a night fully spent getting to know each other, Beverly makes sure Jake makes it to his first lecture, during which he succumbs to exhaustion and falls asleep alongside a fellow team member. The unusually eclectic mix of male characters in Everybody Wants Some!! reminded me of the soldiers we meet in World War II movies, with each platoon member representing a different nationality, regional background, religion and personality. (Tellingly, only one African-American player, one Hispanic and no Native American are on the Cherokees’ roster.) The ensemble work is excellent, whether the characters are partying, sharing insights on life or preparing for the coming season. Some of the actors are seasoned, while others were handpicked during auditions for their athletic skills and potential as fictional teammates. The 1980s fashions and mustaches are appropriately grotesque. All caveats aside, Everybody Wants Some!! should provide a couple hours of boisterous fun for anyone who survived the 1980s with wits and livers intact. The Blu-ray adds “Everybody Wants Some!! More Stuff That’s Not in the Movie”; “Rickipedia,” on the writer/director’s verbal quirks; “Baseball Players Can Dance”; “Skills Videos,” taken during the auditions; and “History 101: Stylin’ the ’80s,” on the various steps taken to assure the film’s period look.

The Divergent Series: Allegiant: Blu-ray

Fans of the first two installments of “The Divergent Series” need to know that the anemic performance of Allegiant won’t prevent the final chapter to be released next year. This time, however, it is scheduled to open on June 9, 2017, a date that affords the studio two additional months to make sure Ascendant doesn’t look as rushed into theaters as Allegiant did. Blessed with 20/20 hindsight, Lionsgate CEO Jon Feltheimer admits that the studio wanted to hit nearly the same March release date that he believes benefitted Insurgent and Divergent, even though the second didn’t do as well as the first. Allegiant would clock in a year later with half the domestic take as Divergent, a sum that might have killed a less visible franchise. Because overseas sales have remained reasonably consistent throughout, Lionsgate pushed its luck by bifurcating the finale of Veronica Roth’s bestselling YP trilogy. It worked for The Hunger Games, Harry Potter and The Twilight Saga, so why not? Such cynically conceived financial ploys are rarely rewarded with enthusiastic reviews or audience support. That’s because the semi-sequels mostly repeat information and characters from the previous chapters and substitute chases, pyrotechnics and set pieces for story refinement. Returning director Robert Schwentke doesn’t waste any time putting the film’s best foot forward, in the form of an escape from dystopian Chicago over an electrified wall the scale of which Donald Trump has pledged for our border with Mexico. When Tris (Shailene Woodley), Four (Theo James), Tori (Maggie Q) and a few other militants reach the top of the barrier, it becomes clear that the wall and Bureau of Genetic Welfare (housed within the ruins of O’Hare Airport) are separated by a lifeless toxic wasteland. (Forget for a minute that the airport actually is part of Chicago and a mere 18-mile train ride connects the Loop to the massive facility.) They are rescued from their pursuers and the poisonous terrain by transports that offer maximum protection from the elements. Once ensconced, Tris and Fore soon learn that residents – under the command of Jeff Daniels – are just as hung up on factional purity as everyone else. Even at two hours, Allegiant feels like nothing more than a prelude to Ascendant. The basic Blu-ray package adds commentary with Producers Douglas Wick and Lucy Fisher; and featurettes “Allegiant: Book to Film,” which briefly discusses the adaptive process and decision to split the book into two films (described by a crew member as “treading water”), “Battle in the Bullfrog,” “Finding the Future: Effects and Technology,” “Characters in Conflict,” “The Next Chapter: Cast and Characters” and “Building the Bureau,” a look at how O’Hare was supposedly retooled for a new purpose. It’s also being released in a 4K edition; a Target exclusive DigiBook, with bonus disc; and Best Buy exclusive SteelBook.

Belladonna of Sadness: Blu-ray

Nominated for the Golden Bear Award at the 1973 Berlin International Film Festival, its taken 42 years for Eiichi Yamamoto’s lushly illustrated and graphically erotic Belladonna of Sadness to arrive in the United States. Audiences here weren’t sheltered from X-rated animation at the time, or such midnight-movie head trips as Rene Laloux’s Fantastic Planet and Ralph Bakshi’s Wizards, Fritz the Cat, The Nine Lives of Fritz the Cat and Coonskin. Osamu Tezuka and Eiichi Yamamoto’s Cleopatra: Queen of Sex made a brief landing in the U.S. in 1972, but Yamato’s One Thousand and One Arabian Nights and Hiroshi Harada’s Midori didn’t even warrant that much attention here. Yamamoto, whose early credits also include Astro Boy and Kimba, the White Lion, based Belladonna of Sadness on Jules Michelet’s theoretical 1862 text, “Satanism and Witchcraft,” which remains notable for being one of the first sympathetic histories of witchcraft and the secret religion inspired by paganism and fairy beliefs. The illustrations unfold as a series of psychedelic watercolor paintings, which bleed, twist together and are informed by Tarot cards, paintings by Klimt, Delacroix, Degas and Kandinsky, John Keats’ poem “La Belle Dame Sans Merci” and J.R.R. Tolkien fantasies. In it, Jeanne and Jean are happy newlyweds in a rural village. Their idyll is shattered, when, on their wedding night, Jeanne is raped in a ritual deflowering by the local baron and his lackeys. Although Jean attempts to assure her of his unconditional love — “Let us forget everything in the past” — she begins to see visions of a phallic-headed spirit encouraging her to use newly acquired black powers to take revenge on the baron. As the couple’s fortunes improve, the baron raises taxes to fund his war effort. Jean is made tax collector and the baron cuts off his hand as punishment when he cannot extract enough money from the village. After another visit from the spirit, Jeanne takes out a large loan from a usurer and sets herself up in the same trade, eventually parlaying it into becoming the true power in the village. When the baron returns victorious from his war, and his wife, envious of the respect and admiration accorded Jeanne, calls her a witch and has her driven out. She finally makes a pact with the spirit, who reveals himself to be the devil, from whom she is granted considerable magical powers, and uses them to lead a rebellion in the village. On its Japanese release, Belladonna of Sadness made so little money, it took down its production company. Rape, mutilation and other transgressive sexual behavior weren’t at all uncommon in Japanese art disciplines in the 1970s – Nagisa Oshima’s In the Realm of the Senses would provide further evidence of that – but, even so, some of it is still difficult to take. The restored Blu-ray edition includes original trailers, new interviews with director Eiichi Yamamoto, art director Kuni Fukai and composer Masahiko Satoh and a 16-page illustrated booklet featuring Dennis Bartok’s essay “Belladonna of Sadness: Lost & Found.”

Van Gogh: Blu-ray

In 1992, Maurice Pialat’s revisionist take on the last 60 days of Vincent Van Gogh’s life had the distinct commercial misfortune of being released less than two years after Robert Altman’s splendid Vincent &Theo. That both of these critically acclaimed art films timed in at well over two hours might have something to do with the lukewarm response at the box office. It’s more likely that the collective memory of Kirk Douglas and Anthony Quinn’s star turns in Vincente Minnelli’s brilliantly photographed Lust for Life, 25 years earlier, trumped a very good performance by Tim Roth, still a year away from his breakthrough performance in Reservoir Dogs. If each of the three films offers a different take on the artist and his various conditions, the paintings exist in a world of their own. Pialat, himself a skilled painter, elected to offer a more contextual approach to artist’s final weeks. After leaving the asylum in Saint-Rémy, Van Gogh (Jacques Dutronc) settles in Auvers-sur-Oise, a quiet and pretty little village north of Paris. It allows him to be near the summer home of Doctor Gachet, an art lover and patron recommended by his brother. For the most part, Vincent seems downright happy to be there and shows it by being extremely productive. It takes a little time getting used to a convivial Van Gogh. Pialat does an especially nice job matching various scenes to such easily recallable paintings as “Portrait of Dr. Gachet,” “Wheatfield with Crows,” “Woman in the Cafe Tambourin’,” “Marguerite Gachet in the Garden” and “Marguerite Gachet at the Piano.” The last two are significant because of Pialat’s contention that the artist and Gachet’s daughter (Alexandra London) – likely in her late teens – consummated an affair that other historians argue was merely wishful thinking on her part. Despair over her father’s reaction to their affair, along with Van Gogh’s growing mistrust of his brother, Theo, may have led directly to the artist’s nearly botched suicide. Something else viewers will notice is the presence of both ears attached on Vincent’s head. Pialat believes, with some historical backing, that he didn’t actually sever the appendage, but merely took swipes at it with a razor. Among the wonderful set pieces are revelries with prostitutes at a riverside picnic and inside the Café Tambourin. The working girls appear to enjoy his presence and he certainly appreciates their hospitality. Once again, the scenery couldn’t be any lovelier. Van Gogh was nominated for 12 César awards, taking home one for Dutronc’s performance in the lead role. The excellent Cohen Media Blu-ray adds interviews with Dutronc, once referred to as “a dilettante of music,” actor Bernard Le Coq and cinematographer Emmanuel Machuel; deleted scenes; and original and re-release trailers.

The Preppie Connection

There are several good reasons for teen scholars not of the manor born to look beyond the elite prep schools of New England and settle for something just as good nearer to home. They’re made perfectly clear in Joseph Castelo’s old-fashioned cautionary tale, The Preppie Connection. No matter how much an outsider brings to the table, the insatiable greed and bred-in-the-bone sense of entitlement displayed by the legacy students will always trump good grades, hard work and a winning personality. Here, the lamb being led to slaughter is blue-collar scholarship student, Tobias Hammel (Thomas Mann), who makes the mistake of falling for the resident WASP princess, Alexis Hayes (Lucy Fry). In a desperate attempt to impress her, he smuggles $300,000 of uncut cocaine into the dormitories of Choate Rosemary Hall School, in his Connecticut hometown, to be carved into lines and hoovered up the nostrils of the elite school’s leading clique of trust-fund babies. Toby began to be noticed when he supplied some killer pot to his classmates, who were afraid to approach street dealers on their own. He really caught their attention when he offered invest their allowances into a trip to Colombia with a fellow student – the son of a diplomat — and return with a fake Inca figurine loaded with primo flake. Toby even had money left over to help his parents save their house from foreclosure. One trip led to another, until Alexis traded her arrogant boyfriend, Ellis Tynes (Logan Huffman), for a round-trip ticket to Colombia with Toby. (The cartel era had yet to take over the international cocaine trade, leaving it to foolhardy freelance traffickers.) You can probably guess what happens next. It’s too bad Toby wasn’t paying attention when hubris was being taught in English lit, because Lady Alexis’ presence would inspire his suppliers to raise the ante by adding kidnapping to their criminal resumes. Although they managed to avoid being held for ransom by the skin of their teeth, they aren’t able to dodge the DEA agents waiting for them at JFK, after being ratted out by a petulant Ellis.

While Castelo doesn’t demand that we sympathize with Toby, he does make a solid case against poor and working-class kids entering into temporary alliances with more privileged classmates, unless a get-out-of-jail-free card is part of the deal. The person who inspired The Preppie Connection, which takes great liberties with the truth, survived the ordeal largely intact. Derek Oatis was interviewed on “60 Minutes” by Ed Bradley, before being sentenced to five years’ probation and 5,000 hours of community service. (His real-life ex-girlfriend received three years of probation and 1,000 hours of community service.) If he had been tried before a judge in a New York court, the penalty for selling two ounces or more of heroin, morphine, opium, cocaine or cannabis was a minimum of 15 years to life in prison. Oatis and his girlfriend were both expelled from Choate, along with the 12 students who gave them money for cocaine. (It would be interesting to learn those names.) Instead of being warehoused behind bars, alongside other poor and minority convicts, Oatis now practices criminal law in Connecticut and is a prominent animal-rights activist. Thirty-plus years after Scarface and “Miami Vice” forever changed the faces of drug kingpins to a deeper shade of brown, hundreds of smuggling-themed movies have come and gone, making the events described in The Preppie Connection seem like an inconsequential fraternity prank. (Contemporary George Jung, portrayed by Johnny Depp in Blow, finished a 20-year bit in prison only two years ago. The subject of Mr. Nice, Welsh cannabis trafficker Howard Marks, was sentenced to 25 years in jail and given a $50,000 fine, ultimately serving seven in a federal prison.) It makes me wonder why Castelo even bothered to revisit a comparatively ancient scandal that was forgotten almost as soon as it began. The Preppie Connection does have its moments, though, including a narrow escape from kidnappers anxious to tap into Alexis’ inheritance and capturing the stench of entitlement that permeates such institutions.

Gorilla Bathes at Noon

No one captured the absurdities of life behind the Iron Curtain with more precision than filmmakers based in Yugoslavia. The Czech New Wave enjoyed its moments in the sun, but, when the government cracked down on free expression, the light wouldn’t return for decades to come. Under Tito, the forced integration of ethnic cultures ensured creative diversity, while repressive and often contradictory government policies forced artists to develop a thick skin and sense of humor that camouflaged their bitterness over being treated like children one minute and political prisoners the next. Filmmakers shared ideas with their Western European counterparts and Americans working in Yugoslavia on projects affordable only by combining cast and crews. This wasn’t yet the norm in countries that reported directly to Moscow. Along with Emir Kusturica (When Father Was Away on Business), Goran Paskaljević (Cabaret Balkan) and Srđan Dragojević (Pretty Village, Pretty Flame), Dušan Makavejev found audiences for their work outside Europe. The ferocity of the wars that followed in the wake of the Yugoslavia’s disintegration prompted filmmakers to respond to the insanity with inky black comedies that reflected how strange it was for longtime friends, neighbors and in-laws to suddenly become bloodthirsty enemies. The only thing these people had in common was a dependency on the black-market economy and disdain for the blue-helmeted peacekeepers who weren’t up to the task of restoring harmony or maintaining ceasefires. Makavejev emerged years earlier from the Black Wave movement of the 1960s and early 1970s. Widely admired outside Eastern Europe, W.R.: Mysteries of the Organism was banned in Yugoslavia due to its exploration of the relationship between communist politics and sexuality, as seen through a prism of theories advanced by controversial Austrian psychoanalyst Wilhelm Reich. (In 1956, FDA officials demanded the destruction of Reich’s “orgone accumulators,” even going so far as to incinerate his private library.) After a seven-year hiatus, he tackled more conventionally black comedy in Montenegro and The Coca-Cola Kid. Another lengthy break from filmmaking would lead to the thoroughly offbeat 1993 comedy, Gorilla Bathes at Noon, newly revived by Facets Video. Critics saw it as a welcome return to form for Makavejev, primarily because it spoke directly to the uncertainty of life for Eastern Europeans forced to adjust to capitalist economics and democratic politics after a nearly a half-century of Soviet-style communism. Their newfound freedom wasn’t turning out quite the way it was depicted in the western media.

The protagonist of “Gorilla” is a Soviet army major, Lazutkin (Svetozar Cvetkovic), who missed the train that hauled his Red Army comrades back to Moscow. He exists in the temporary no-man’s land separating the soon-to-be-unified East and West Berlin. When Lazutkin tries to reach his wife, back home, he discovers that she’s deserted him and relinquished their apartment to a stranger. In a very real sense, the penniless and inadvertently decommissioned officer is a self-imposed exile, waiting to discover if he’ll turn west or east when the merger of opposing cultures begins. Characteristically, Makavejev intercuts the removal of a long-standing statue of Lenin with clips from the 1945 Soviet combat film “Fall of Berlin,” a patriotic dramatization of the Red Army’s capture of the Reichstag on May 2, 1945, and the celebration that followed the last traces of resistance. Stalin, who appears to be made of wax, arrives to salute the victory and diversity of the soldiers who participated in it. Back to the present, Lazutkin surveys the still largely desolate eastern landscape on a white two-wheeler bicycle, from which the now-meaningless flag of the USSR hangs limply. Sometimes he dons his military uniform for trips through the city. At other times, he adopts the casual look of an American tourist, perhaps to see if Berliners will react to his choice of clothing, one way or another. He doesn’t mind being busted for vagrancy, because considers the food in the West Berlin jails to be better than anything in Moscow. Lazutkin also makes friends with a zookeeper, who allows him to hang around while he tends to the needs of the big cats and apes. They, too, are served better food than what he could expect in post-war Moscow. He steals as much fruit and raw meat as he can carry, while riding his bike, and shares with his cronies in a makeshift camp where the black market thrives. While engaging in a stare-down with a caged tiger, Lazutkin asks himself, “Am I dreaming of him or is he dreaming of me.” He mimics the gestures, eating habits and facial tics of a great ape and, when necessary, scales the side of a skyscraper for a good night’s rest. In this way, Gorilla Bathes at Noon reminds me of Karel Reisz’s 1966 absurdist comedy, Morgan, in which a working-class British artist (David Warner) has an emotional breakdown after his upper-crust wife, Leonie (Vanessa Redgrave), leaves him for a bourgeois art dealer (Charles Napier). To compensate, the wildly eccentric Morgan dons a gorilla outfit and stalks Leonie as if he were King Kong in Manhattan. Makavejev allows us to form our own opinions about Lazutkin’s dilemma and where he might belong after the last chunk of the concrete wall that once divided Berlin is broken into small pieces to be sold as souvenirs.

Marguerite & Julien

Every so often, a beautifully rendered film reaches these shores, almost daring American audiences to look sympathetically at a subject they might otherwise avoid like the plague or turn away from in disgust. The 1960s arthouse favorite, Elvira Madigan, for example, was partially marketed as the most gorgeous movie ever made about doomed romance and shared suicide. Incest isn’t as taboo a subject as it probably once was, especially during era of the Production Code, but rarely is love between siblings accorded the picture-postcard treatment it receives in Valérie Donzelli’s Marguerite & Julien. Working from a script originally written by Jean Gruault (Jules and Jim, Wild Child) for François Truffaut, a narrator relates their story to a group of orphans as if it were a dark and tragic fairytale … once upon a time, a brother and sister fell in love, but were prohibited from living happily ever after … that sort of thing. Gruault’s screenplay was, in turn, based on the true story of Marguerite and Julien de Ravalet (Anais Demoustier, Jeremie Elkaim), the son and daughter of the Lord of Tourlaville, who tested the limits of what 17th Century society would accept and were executed on charges of incest and adultery. Early on, their elders recognize the siblings’ unusually close relationship and do what they can to interrupt its progress. Distance doesn’t staunch their love, however, and neither do time and fear of punishment. Indeed, absence only makes their reunion more passionate. The fairytale setting derives from being shot in in Ile-de-France and at the Ravalet Castle on the Cotentin Peninsula. As if to appeal to the same crowd that embraced Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet, Donzelli throws in some anachronistic visuals and music.


Originally shown in 2003 at the Lausanne Underground Film Festival and rarely seen since then, Mecanix is definitely the product of a troubled mind. If dreams could talk, this one would scream. Single-time filmmaker Rémy M. Larochelle, a product of French-speaking Quebec, has created in Mecanix a cluttered stop-motion environment in which skeletal, clay and mechanical beings dwell within the cadavers of dead animals and the “last freeborn human.” To me, anyway, the tiny critters mimic what scientists must see through their electron microscopes during biopsies and extreme virology experiments … or the films of the Brothers Quay, E. Elias Merhige and Shin’ya Tsukamoto. The story, such as it, describes what happened when the last human beings were enslaved by these strange creatures and it was determined that within one of them dwells the “embryo of the universe” or, if you will, the seed of life. Somehow, the embryo is found inside a strange bird, instead, creating panic among the “mechanics.” Don’t ask. Not all of the underlying metaphysics and symbolism make a great deal of sense. At times, real actors appear against a backdrop of precisely animated clay figures and drawings. More than anything else, however, Mecanix exists as a visual and sonic experience. Casual fans of sci-fi and horror probably won’t take away much from it, while those attuned to avant-garde and experimental cinema very well might.

Model Hunger

Hand the reigning straight-to-video scream queen a camera, script, miniscule budget and access to an all-star cast of C- and D-list actors and the end-product might look something like Debbie Rochon’s grisly freshman feature, Model Hunger. With an on-screen resume that’s approaching 250 roles, Rochon has endured practically every exploitative abuse imaginable, outside of the various hard-core fetish categories, anyway. This includes starring roles in several Troma classics. Wisely, she doesn’t let the apple fall far from the tree in her first stab (pun intended) at the genre that made her famous. Rochon’s first good decision was to hire Lynn Lowry (The Crazies, Cat People), who’s been in the business 12 years longer than her. Her character, Ginny (Lowry), remains bitter over a modelling career that ended prematurely when photographers and their clients decided that normal-sized women no longer were capable of persuading consumers to buy cosmetics and expensive clothes. Ever since, the deeply embittered and insecure suburbanite has preyed on neighborhood girls – cheerleaders, included – who have shown up at her doorstep. Adding fuel to her fire, Ginny is addicted to “Suzi’s Secret,” a shopping- network show hosted by Suzi Lorraine (House of Manson) that condemns body-shaming, while promoting products that add tonnage. Despite the rising body count, no one suspects Ginny until Tiffany Shepis (Sharknado 2: The Second One) and her husband Carmine Capobianco (Bikini Bloodbath) move next-door and smell a rat … or something. Model Hunger has done very well critically within the genre media and at fan festivals. Curiously, most of the nudity is limited to scanty underwear and very brief T&A. Maybe, Rochon was hoping to attract more women to the extreme-gore niche. The bonus material adds commentary; a music video; a self-interview by co-star Aurelio Voltaire; a Babette Bombshell video, “Nasty Nibblin'”; deleted scenes with Rochon and Troma honcho Lloyd Kaufman; and an Easter egg, featuring an isolated music track by Harry Manfredini (Friday the 13th).

Green Room: Blu-ray

We’ll never know how many box-office dollars can be attributed to the presence of Anton Yelchin in the indie thriller, Green Room, or what his recent death could mean for sales in Blu-ray/DVD/VOD. It did reasonably well in theaters and received some positive critical buzz, as well, so anything’s possible. Yelchin’s boyish charm is on full display here, as bassist in a dime-a-dozen punk ensemble, the Ain’t Rights, so desperate for gigs they accept a sketchy last-minute gig at a decrepit Oregon roadhouse. They probably should have called it quits when the bassist, Pat (Yelchin), was forced to siphon gas from a car to get there, but their devotion to their art demanded they persevere. Ironically, the Ain’t Rights find themselves in front of a dance floor filled with skinheads and neo-Nazis. In true punk form, they open with the Dead Kennedys’ “Nazi Punks Fuck Off.” It might not have been the most prudent way to get the rough-and-ready audience pogo-ing, but they eventually warmed to the transgressive sound. After making it off the stage in one piece, the Ain’t Rights take a break in a room in which a young skinhead girl has just been brutally murdered. Oops. Imogen Poots plays the victim’s friend, Amber, who, likewise gets trapped inside the green-painted room and is threatened by the club owners. The rest of Jeremy Saulnier’s 95-minute third feature, following the very promising Murder Party and Blue Ruin, involves the band members’ attempts to escape the nightclub before the heavily armed and tattooed white supremacists can eliminate them as witnesses. Timing is everything in these sorts of adventures and Saulnier manages to ratchet up the tension without giving short shrift to any of the key cast members or disturbing the balance between cunning and violence. Also good here are Patrick Stewart, Eric Edelstein (Jurassic World), Joe Cole (“Peaky Blinders”), Callum Turner (“War & Peace”) and Alia Shawkat (“Arrested Development”). Lest we forget, Yelchin and Sir Patrick Stewart are veterans of the “Star Trek” series, playing Pavel Chekov and Jean-Luc Picard, respectively, while Poots and Yelchin appeared together in Fright Night. The bonus features were completed before the rising star’s death.

Stressed to Kill

It would be safe to assume that any director with the courage to take credit for a movie titled, The Masturbating Gunman (a.k.a., “Masked Avenger Versus Ultra-Villain in the Lair of the Naked Bikini”) is either beyond shame or suffering from an Ozploitation overdose. The statute of limitations having run out on that stinker, I decided to take a chance on Stressed to Kill, which the Melbourne native directed and co-wrote with first-time Tom Parnell. While, at first glance, it would be easy to dismiss the revenge thriller as a poor man’s remake of Taxi Driver or Falling Down, it wouldn’t be an accurate summation of what happens here. For two things, it starred cult-favorite Bill Oberst Jr. and a still appealing, if decidedly out of shape Armand Assante. While Oberst always sneaks up on audiences unfamiliar with his work, his 66-year-old co-star knows when to share the spotlight and when to pick up the ball and run with it. As a seen-it-all Florida police detective, Assante’s Paul Jordan is tasked with stopping a series of murders caused by poisoned blow darts – that’s right – and bring the perpetrator to justice. The movie really belongs to Oberst, who, you could say, plays the title character. His Everyman character, Bill Johnson, can’t seem to make it through a full day at work without encountering someone or something that triggers his anger issues. With his blood pressure at the boiling point, Johnson is a walking, talking, ticking time bomb of rage. The fuse is lit whenever he encounters the kind of nincompoops who can’t make up their minds after finally making it to the front of a long line; refuse to quit texting in a darkened movie theater; block his driveway and refuse to move; and extend his work day with illogical demands. In 2016 Florida, such abhorrent behavior not only is commonplace, but tolerated in fear of being murdered by the offender. The hook here comes when Johnson shares his feelings with a sympathetic friend, who suggests the primitive weaponry. At first, it would be difficult for viewers not to sympathize with Johnson, so heinous are the irritants. When Stressed to Kill gets really nasty, though, we realize that Savage has stacked the deck against two or three of the victims by overstating their offensive behavior. Nonethless, most viewers won’t mourn their passing. For his part, Assante’s detective surprises us with his questionable methodology. Anyone who enjoyed Wayne Brady’s image-reversing payback-is-a-bitch sketch on “Chappelle’s Show” will dig it.

With Child

No Men Beyond This Point

After 50 years, it’s amazing to me that so many people still don’t get such basic tenets of the women’s movement as levelling the playing field by eliminating gender-based hiring, promoting equal pay for equal work, shattering the glass ceiling and protecting a woman’s right to choose. Women may be as underrepresented on corporate boards today as they’ve ever been. Lumpen celebrity journalists still are compelled to criticize an actress, based solely on the results of elective cosmetic surgery or willingness to speak out after discovering that they aren’t as overpaid to make crappy movies as their male counterparts. If Donald Trump is elected president, women being considered for Cabinet posts or federal judgeships might be required to appear before him in a bathing suit. Pundits and politicians see nothing wrong with criticizing the appearance of Hillary Clinton and Elizabeth Warren, while Mitch McConnell, John Boehner, Ted Cruz and Harry Reid get a free pass. You get the picture … according to me. I only bring this up after watching the clever role-reversal dramedy, With Child, and over-the-top mockumentary, No Men Beyond This Point, both directed by men. Although they don’t hit the nail directly on the head, the films are thought-provoking, each in its own way.

Based on a true story, With Child asks that we consider whether a widower with limited means should be entrusted with the welfare of an infant, when an in-law, relative or close friend has offered to temporarily, at least, carry the load and change the diapers. If the answer seems obvious, first-time writer/director Titus Heckel throws all sorts of curves into the argument, starting with his beyond-stubborn protagonist, Auden Price (Kerry van der Griend). The first twist comes when the construction worker’s request to bring his four-month-old daughter to the worksite each day in a car seat is denied. Auden is offered plenty of work by other contractors, but not with child in tow. No kidding. Auden adamantly refuses to allow his sister-in-law, a judge, to mind the baby, along with her other children, until he recovers from his loss. We agree with the sister-in-law that a baby deserves a better shot at happiness than being assaulted by pounding hammers, whining saws and possibly toxic dust while confined to a tiny chair. Just when it appears as if Auden’s about to give in to such logic, he’s hired by a local woman, Petra (Leslie Lewis), a respected scientist, who’s as neurotic as he is stubborn. As a child, Petra’s hippy parents abandoned her to the care of her agoraphobic and seriously over-protective grandmother. Petra was raised as a recluse, never allowed to climb a tree or learn to swim. Although we can see how two quirky people could fall in love and get over themselves long enough to attend to the needs of baby, Auden begins to Petra as if she had joined the enemy camp. Things come to a head when the sister-in-law files a custody order and Auden, who actually is making progress as a father, must decide to fight or let go. It’s here, again, that Heckel places unforeseen roadblocks in his path. The good news is that they aren’t so far out of line that they become contrivances, alien to the spirit of the story so far and characters. Just when With Child appears to be headed toward a male-power, “Defending the Caveman” conclusion, it changes directions on us by addressing serious issues – not involving taking infants to construction sites — with a balanced blend of humor and drama.

Mark Sawers’ mockumentary No Men Beyond This Point asks questions that were raised 45 years ago, after Gloria Steinhem antagonized male chauvinists everywhere by positing, “A woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle.” It wasn’t the first time the idea of a male-free environment had been addressed, even by Hollywood mythmakers. They had frequently toyed with just such a notion in depictions of Amazon culture, ranging from dramatizations of Greek mythology to sci-fi fantasies. Men simply couldn’t understand how humanity could proceed without their precious semen. Then, too, there was Valerie Solanas’ SCUM Manifesto (Society for Cutting Up Men), which, in 1968, advocated overthrowing mainstream society and eliminating the male sex. Although considered by many to be satirical, Solanas began the revolution prematurely by attempting to assassinate Andy Warhol. In No Men Beyond This Point, though, science provided the means for mid-century women to eliminate the need for men entirely. Reports of virgin births weren’t uncommon. Neither was parthenogenesis, as an excuse for an out-of-wedlock pregnancy, necessary. By the careful weeding out of male DNA, giving birth to a male child was as unusual as watching a fish ride a bike. At 37, an unassuming housekeeper named Andrew Myers (Patrick Gilmore) is believed to be the youngest man and, as such, has become a reluctant spokesman for a movement to prevent the extinction of men. As a combination housekeeper/nanny, Andrew is loved by the children, driven hard by the matriarch of the family and the object of curiously romantic stirrings by her lover/wife. Sawers uses interviews, news footage and other documentary conceits to give an air of verisimilitude to the proceedings, although, as noted, its filled with outdated notions.

The Dark Horse

Everything I said two weeks ago about Carmen Marron’s uplifting chess drama, Endgame, I could repeat here today about The Dark Horse, an even grittier story about disadvantaged youth and redemption through competition. Instead of Mexican-American students in a Texas high school, the kids in James Napier Robertson’s excellent sophomore feature are impoverished Maori youths given few choices in life except gangbanging and motherhood. The inspirational coach, Genesis, played by Cliff Curtis (“Fear the Walking Dead”), is battling bipolar disorder with a fistful of pills every day and a desire to steer kids in the right direction, even as the Maori continue to be victimized by racism and unemployment. Genesis is well aware of the lure of gangs and need for youths to find comfort in numbers. Despite being homeless, he uses Maori tradition to attract kids to the program. That includes his soon-to-be-18 nephew, Mana (James Rolleston), whose father, Ariki (Wayne Hapi), wants nothing more for his son than to be “patched” and someday take over the violent Vagrants. The brothers are heading for showdown, because Mana’s birthday and “patching” falls on the same day as the New Zealand championship. Despite its genre familiarity, The Dark Horse is a wonderful picture – kindred to Whale Rider and Once Were Warriors – that isn’t overly predictable and respects the traditions and recent plight of the urban Maori. The acting and cinematography also are commendable.

IMAX: Flight of the Butterflies: 4K UHD/3D Blu-ray

IMAX: Rocky Mountain Express: 4K UHD/Blu-ray

If you’re one of the very few people with a home-theater system that can accommodate 4K ultra-high-definition 3D Blu-ray programming, well, good for you. At the moment, anyway, such technology is more of an expensive novelty than anything else. Even when manufacturers agree on technological standards, entertainment providers have been slow to warm to providing consumers with content that’s affordable, plentiful and compatible with other systems. In the case of 3D, there’s still the matter of offering glasses that work across the entire spectrum of brands. But, you knew that already. Shout! Factory is one of the companies that’s shown a willingness to test/whet consumer appetites. Instead of limiting buyers to one format, it’s offering its latest IMAX titles in multiple formats in a single package. Originally shot to accommodate the high-tech standards of large-format theaters, Flight of the Butterflies and Rocky Mountain Express look pretty good on small screens, as well, even on 2D Blu-ray. The former is presented as a detective story, prompted by one Canadian scientist’s curiosity over the migratory habits of the might monarch butterfly, a critter with an appetite for leaves other animals consider to be inedible and the strength to travel thousands of miles for a winter’s rest. After tagging and tracking the butterflies to determine the routes, the clues petered out somewhere near the Rio Grande River. Further research by more hardy researchers located a secret hideaway in the mountains north of Mexico City where millions of monarchs covered the pines like a flocked Christmas tree. I can only imagine how this looks in 3D, but it looked swell on my 4K-ready screen. It adds an interesting making-of featurette and visit to the refuge by the aging scientist.

Available only in 4K, 2D Blu-ray and a digital copy, Rocky Mountain Express chronicles the building of Canada’s first transcontinental railway, a task every bit as formidable as the race to the middle of the intercontinental railroad that connected the east and west coasts of the United States. It doesn’t speculate as to the degrees of difficulty associated with both engineering feats, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the Canadian mountain ranges were even more challenging than those in California, Utah and Wyoming. Director Stephen Low follows the route on a train powered by a refurbished steam engine, which is really a sight to see these days. Low mixes newly shot footage with vintage photographs and other archival accounts of the laborers’ ordeals. Overhead tracking, plus point-of-view shots, serve two purposes: present visual testimony as to the remarkable victory over nature’s roadblocks and encourage viewers to share the pride of the Canadian people, who, invite everyone to partake in the scenic glory offered by the transcontinental trip. The package also includes two vintage featurettes on the development off the country’s transportation system.

Sons of Ben

Major League Soccer competition began in 1996, with 10 teams spread across the U.S. After a rocky financial start, it’s since doubled in size and expanded into Canada. Despite being a city that supports its professional teams – sometimes with a ferocity that inspires criminality — it would take 14 years before Philadelphia was granted a franchise. The documentary, Sons of Ben, recalls the efforts of a small, but fully engaged booster club the tirelessly lobbied the league and city officials in Philadelphia and nearby Chester to build a soccer-only stadium worthy of hosting big-time competition. At first, fans of the Eagles, Phillies, 76ers and Flyers showed no interest in helping the Sons of Ben (as in Franklin) raise funds or lend their names to petitions. Their persistence would pay off when economically depressed Chester decided to take a chance, by coming up with a riverside site and plan to develop the area. Sons of Ben chronicles the grassroots group’s many high and lows, both as cheerleaders for a team and family men and women. As the film was wrapping up production, the team – now, the Philadelphia Union – was doing better than the plans for development.

Sex Roulette

The Little Blue Box

The word, “classic,” is tossed around a lot in the marketing of vintage titles newly re-released into DVD/Blu-ray and fully remastered in from original 35mm vault materials. Sometimes the designation is used correctly, but, more often than not, it qualifies as hype. No genre is more guilty of this misdemeanor than porn from the Golden Age. That said, however, I think these Synapse/Impulse titles qualify, if only because they have something to offer than straight sex, of which there is plenty. The 1978 European export, Sex Roulette, differentiates itself from its American counterparts for several reasons: elderly, not particularly handsome men enjoy sexual trysts with younger women more often than in any non-fetish movie I’ve seen; a pregnant woman and black little person (a.k.a., midget) are featured; the Monte Carlo scenery is lovely; and the orgy scenes include one staged in a pig sty. None of the scenes come off as any more exploitative then those in comparably kinky fare. In it, Vanessa Melville (a.k.a., Veronique Maugarski) plays a blond bombshell travelling with her uncle and butler to various casinos on the French Riviera. While they’re having a blast bed-hopping, Veronique is compensating for an inability to climax by blowing lots of her uncle’s money on games of chance. Naturally, things balance out after a while, but not before the grownups have had their fun. It was directed by Czech émigré Alan Vydra.

In 1979, Americans in the porn game still harbored hopes of finding audiences interested in pictures that merged hard-core sex with narrative storytelling and comedy. Ultimately, the fledgling industry would rely almost exclusively on personality-driven frolics that were heavy on sex and light on everything else. Anything more demanded budget expenditures few producers were willing to make. John Leslie stars in Arlo Schiffen’s second and presumably last movie under that name: The Little Blue Box. As was the case in Schiffin’s Little Orphan Sammy, Jennifer Welles assumed the lead role, this time in the dual role of a door-to-door salesman of pirate-cable boxes and John’s workaholic wife. The box allows access to an interactive network of adult films, which partially compensate for the absence of sex in his life. While his wife is away, John and Welles’ Ms. Azure play, often in tandem with such future hall-of-famers as Gloria Leonard, Jamie Gillis, Leslie Bovee and Sharon Mitchell. What presented itself as futuristic in 1970s today qualifies as nostalgic.


Starz/BBC: The Dresser

PBS/ITV: Vicious: The Finale

Discovery: Naked and Afraid XL: Season 1

PBS: NOVA: Wild Ways

PBS: Secrets of the Dead: Cleopatra’s Lost Tomb

PBS: Independent Lens: Adjust Your Color: The Truth About Petey Greenwald

PBS Kids: Dinosaur Train: Under the Volcano

Nickelodeon: Blaze and the Monster Machines: Fired Up!

At a time when some of our greatest living actors are best known for playing larger-than-life characters in comic-book pictures, it’s a comfort to know that someone, at least, understands how best to utilize their talents. In the second film adaptation of Ronald Harwood’s brilliant off-stage drama, The Dresser, Anthony Hopkins and Ian McKellen deliver performances that are the theatrical equivalent of a heavyweight championship fight. At 77 and 78, respectively, Sir Ian and Sir Anthony have stayed busy – and, one hopes, wealthy — playing such mythical figures as Gandalf, Magneto, an over-the-hill Sherlock Holmes, Methuselah, Odin and King Hrothgar. Their presence is always welcome, but one is always left wondering if they’d rather be doing “King Lear.” That’s exactly what Hopkins is doing in The Dresser, as the distinguished, if completely addled British actor, Sir. His every need and whim are administered to by Sir’s longtime, long-suffering and extremely loyal dresser and aide-de-camp, Norman (McKellen), himself well beyond retirement age. As the movie opens, Norman and everyone else in the travelling production company are nearly frantic with despair over Sir’s disappearance from a hospital, where’s he’s been treated for a breakdown of some sort. Because The Dresser unfolds in a small English regional theater, during the Blitz, audience members and company members are literally risking their lives waiting patiently in their seats for the legendary star to appear. Sir arrives in the nick of time, of course, wondering what all the fuss is about, while Norman springs into action. Anything else would be unprofessional. Also relieved are Her Ladyship (Emily Watson), who’s put up with his antics – on and off stage – for more years than anyone dare count; Madge (Sarah Lancashire), the stage manager who wonders if this show is really going to go on; and star-struck ingénue, Irene (Vanessa Kirby). The other players and technical-crew members shiver with each new report of a bomb landing somewhere in the mid-distance. Meanwhile, viewers at home, wonder exactly how long Sir will be able to make his way up the stairs to perform one of the most taxing roles in the repertoire. For his part, Norman is racing against the hands of an invisible clock as he fortifies himself with either cheap liquor or cough syrup. The interaction and verbal sparring between the two old pros – characters and actors, alike – is a true joy to behold. Watson, too, gives as well as Her Ladyship is forced to take in their incessant behind-the-scenes squabbling. The bittersweet ending succeeds, as well. The DVD adds entertaining interviews and background material.

In the contagiously funny British sitcom, “Vicious,” McKellen teams with another giant of the British stage, Derek Jacobi, also 77. They play an elderly pair of self-described queens, Freddie and Stuart, who’ve lived together for nearly 50 years, in a tidy Covent Garden flat with their comatose dog, Balthazar. Freddie was a struggling actor – his last bit role was on “Downton Abbey” — and Stuart worked in the bar in which they first met. Their barbed dialogue isn’t strictly reserved for each other, of course. In true sitcom fashion, the doorbell rings every few minutes as another member of their extended family arrives for his or her fair share of abuse. Frances de la Tour plays the constantly horny Violet Crosby, a close friend of Freddie and Stuart, who has designs on their young and handsome upstairs neighbor, Ash (Iwan Rheon). Marcia Warren is Penelope, another old friend, who often becomes confused over the simplest things, and Philip Voss plays Mason Thornhill, Freddie’s opinionated brother. The story occasionally leaves the confines of their sitting room, but not often. Knowing that Jacobi and McKellen were openly gay before being openly gay was cool provides the honey that allows some viewers to swallow some of the more stereotypical gags and asides, of which there are many. “The Finale,” which has yet to air in England, chronicles a year in the newly married couple’s life. Freddie and Stuart enjoy their inheritance and a birthday; Violet moves on from her divorce; and Ash must decide whether he should accept a scholarship to attend school in New York or remain in New York, collecting ex-girlfriends.

If I were a board member of the FCC, one of the first things I’d do is outlaw so-called reality shows that hire writers to put ideas and words into the heads of their seemingly real and unscripted participants – a.k.a., actors – and shows with the word, “Naked,” in their title that deliver blurred images as irritating as burlap diapers in a nursery. For all the audience knows, the 12 contestants on “Naked and Afraid XL,” who’ve previously appeared on “Naked and Afraid,” are wearing nipple patches, pasties and jock straps under those pixelated clouds. On the spinoff series, the survivalists are tasked with surviving in the Colombian wilderness for 40 days, with only one or two helpful items of his or her choosing. We’re told they aren’t given any other items, clothing, food or liquids – c’mon, how can the water possibly be safe to drink? – and the camera crews are not allowed to intervene, except for medical emergencies. The contestants hunt, trap and gather their food in the wild and build shelters with their own hands and material found in nature. At the end of the 40 days, the remaining survivalist(s) must arrive at the designated extraction point. Frankly, apart from unblurring the contestants, the only way I’d become a regular viewer is if Discovery Channel added a celebrity edition of the show, featuring the Kardashians and stars of the various housewife series.

As mankind has encroached on the natural habitats of our animal neighbors, we’ve inadvertently created dozens of new ways for them to die unnatural deaths. From PBS, “NOVA: Wild Ways” how engineers and environmentalists are working together to allow wildlife access to places where they can hunt, breed and migrate without fear of becoming roadkill or target practice for landowners. While national parks and preserves offer some protection to wildlife, even the Serengeti and Yellowstone parks are too small to sustain healthy populations over generations. “Connectivity conservation” allows some of the world’s most beloved endangered species — lions, bears, antelope, elephants – to move safely between refuges, via tunnels, overpasses and protected land corridors. The show visits Yellowstone, the Canadian Yukon and Southern Africa’s elephant highways, stretching across five nations.

In the “Secrets of the Dead” episode “Cleopatra’s Lost Tomb,” Dominican lawyer-turned-archeologist Kathleen Martinez may be on the verge of accomplishing a feat none of her professional peers have managed to do: discover the tomb of Egypt’s last queen. Working on the barest of clues, Martinez has identified the temple Taposiris Magna, located in Alexandria, Egypt, as the most likely spot. Her unorthodox methodology has already paid dividend, but there’s plenty of digging left to do.

The centerpiece event of Talk to Me, Kasi Lemmons’ excellent 2007 biopic of Washington, D.C., radio host Petey Greene, comes when he uses his electronic podium to calm listeners caught in the maelstrom of hatred, fear and violence that followed the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. Without Greene’s non-stop filibuster on the need for a non-violent response to the tragedy, the rioting could have been much worse, extending beyond a James Brown concert designed to bring people together in peace. It turned the strictly local on-air personality – an ex-con and man about town with a gift for ghetto gab – into an activist whose words carried weight in a troubled city with an overwhelmingly African-American population. Loren Mendell’s 2008 documentary, Adjust Your Color: The Truth About Petey Green, amplifies on the portrait drawn by Lemmons, while providing visual proof of what made Greene such an alluring draw for radio and TV audiences. Don Cheadle, who made Greene come to life in the movie, narrates the documentary, which was aired as part of PBS’ “Independent Lens” series. The newly released DVD misconstrues Greene’s outspoken approach to his job as being a precursor of the “shock jock” trend, without also acknowledging the role played by highly charismatic African-American media personalities in other urban centers. The difference, of course, was that Greene was a high-profile African-American radio host in a city whose predominantly black population was unrepresented in Congress and whose many deeply engrained problems were routinely ignored by the federal officials assigned to govern it. That he also could be extremely funny and outrageously attired gave him star quality. The most shocking segment of the film features Greene grilling a very young Howard Stern, in blackface, on being a “cracker” who exploits his black staff, including Robin Quivers, who’s in the TV-studio audience.

PBS Kids’ Emmy-nominated “Dinosaur Train,” from the Jim Henson Company, leads its latest collection of episodes with “Under the Volcano,” which shouldn’t be confused with Malcolm Lowry’s harrowing novel about a day in the life of an alcoholic Brit diplomat in Mexico. Instead, join Buddy and family as they watch Old Smoky erupt. It provides a non-lethal lesson in lava and geysers. Other episodes in the set teach ways to use a pile of leaves, petals, wood and shells from the family nest.

Nickelodeon’s four-episode collection, “Blaze and the Monster Machines: Fired Up!,” follows Blaze, AJ and their friends as they embark on slippery adventures to save a truck wash, race to deliver medicine to cure sick trucks and put out fires wherever they arise. Kids can learn how to use science, technology, engineering and math to solve problems.

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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