MCN Columnists
Gary Dretzka

By Gary Dretzka

The DVD Wrapup: Jackie Chan, Dragged Across Concrete, Miyazaki, Khrustalyov, Tarantula!, Bigger, Wire in Blood, Finding Joy

Police Story/Police Story 2: Criterion Collection: Blu-ray
Finding Jackie Chan’s name and likeness on the cover of a Criterion Collection double-feature may seem like an improbable discovery, but the pairing of Police Story and Police Story 2 doesn’t mark his first appearance on the prestigious label. That came three years ago, in Criterion’s 4K digital restoration of King Hu’s wushu classic, A Touch of Zen (1971), in which Chan delivered an uncredited performance. (As well, Hu’s splendid Dragon Inn was released last summer by Criterion, a label known more for Japanese samurai titles, than Hong Kong kung fu.) Barely out of his teens and still acting under several different pseudonyms, Chan would play bit parts and perform stunts alongside Bruce Lee in Fist of Fury (1972) and Enter the Dragon (1973). His brief association with Lee resulted in movies with such Anglicized titles as Bruce Lee and I (1973), New Fist of Fury (1976) and the Bruce Li-vehicle, Bruce and Shao-lin Kung Fu 2 (1978). Chan’s big-screen breakthrough also came in 1978, albeit as Lung Cheng, in Yuen Woo-ping’s Snake in the Eagle’s Shadow and Drunken Master, as Jacky Chan. For the first time, the producers allowed the cocksure actor complete freedom over his stunt work, which was becoming increasingly injurious to his health. Performing under the now-familiar moniker, Jackie Chan, he was encouraged by a string of box-office successes to test western waters in Robert Clouse’s English-language, U.S.-shot Battle Creek Brawl (1980) – a.k.a., The Big Brawl — and Hal Needham’s The Cannonball Run (1981), neither of which provided much room for Chan’s brand of comic kung-fu. After disappointing returns for Cannonball Run II (1984) and The Protector (1985), he returned to Hong Kong, where he quickly began resetting box-office records and establishing critical acclaim.

Police Story (1986) was a huge hit in Asian markets, where audiences were more attuned to Chan’s trademark blend of action, comedy and sentimentality. It took another decade, at least, for American critics to recognize the genius it took to create such monumental set pieces as the opening chase, which ended with the destruction of a hillside shantytown. Chan plays Hong Kong police Inspector Chan Ka-Kui (a.k.a., Kevin Chan), who, after arresting drug kingpin Chu Tao (Chor Yuen), is assigned to protect Chu’s secretary and government witness, Selina Fong (Brigitte Lin). When the well-connected gangster is released on bail, he vows revenge against Ka-Kui, by framing him for the murder of a fellow police inspector. Meanwhile, Selina, realizing Chu’s criminality, goes to his office at a shopping mall to download incriminating data from Chu’s computer system. It sets up a fight, in which Ka-Kui defeats all of Chu’s henchmen and police apprehend the boss’ briefcase, which contains damaging data. Maggie Cheung. Ka-Kui’s much-put-upon girlfriend, May, won audiences’ hearts, as well.

In 1988, Police Story 2 overcame most of the obstacles that commonly upend action sequels. Most of the characters from the original were called upon to reprise their roles. Critical of the handling of his previous case – including the violent arrest of Chu and heavy property damage – his bosses have demoted Ka-Kui to highway-patrol duty. If attention-starved May is glad that her boyfriend is no longer taking difficult cases and has more time to see her, audiences already know that the downtime isn’t likely to last very long. Having convinced prison authorities that he’s terminally ill, Chu demands of his henchmen, John Ko (Charlie Cho), that he make life difficult for Ka-Kui and, if necessary, his family. It also results in the cop taking out his anger on Ko and his men in a restaurant; the near-calamitous bombing of the shopping mall; May’s kidnapping; and the introduction of an unhinged antagonist, Gabby (Benny Lai), who, despite being an undersized deaf-mute, is a fierce martial artist and explosives expert. Their skirmishes are almost worth the price of a purchase, alone. The bonus package includes the Hong Kong-release version of Police Story 2, presented in a high-definition digital transfer for the first time; new pieces on Chan’s screen persona and action-filmmaking techniques, featuring author and New York Asian Film Festival cofounder Grady Hendrix; archival interviews with Chan and actor/stuntman Lai; a 1964 featurette, detailing the rigors of training for a career in the Peking opera, which was Chan’s ambition as a child; a stunt reel; and an essay by critic Nick Pinkerton. In one of them, Chan pays homage to the great silent comedian, Buster Keaton, whose inventiveness is reflected in several Police Story stunts, just as Chan’s work has been mimicked in movies ever since then.

Dragged Across Concrete: Blu-ray
At a none-too-brisk 159 minutes, S. Craig Zahler’s intricately conceived crime story could never have competed with more concise thrillers for space in theaters. Those of us who no longer limit our entertainment choices to what’s playing at the local megaplex aren’t nearly as particular, though, especially when the straight-to-DVD/Blu-ray/PPV menu offers movies starring actors whose salad days have begun to wilt. In addition to the presence of a still-marketable Mel Gibson, Dragged Across Concrete features members of Zahler’s familiar repertory company: Vince Vaughn (Swingers), Don Johnson (“Miami Vice”), Udo Kier (Flesh for Frankenstein), Jennifer Carpenter (“Dexter”) and Fred Melamed (A Serious Man). Of these, however, only Vaughn and Carpenter are accorded more than a few minutes of screen time. A terrific supporting cast of up-and-coming, mostly TV-based actors otherwise carries the load. Most of the viewers’ time is spent watching soiled cops Ridgeman and Lurasetti (Gibson, Vaughn) stake out suspects and crime scenes, while exchanging hard-boiled dialogue that falls well short of rivaling that provided by Ben Hecht and Elmore Leonard. Zahler’s script demands of Ridgeman and Lurasetti that they place odds on their every strategic movie, and some that aren’t remotely strategic. The gimmick is amusing for an hour, or so, but the arbitrariness of the numbers grows tiresome after that point.

After the cops were suspended for applying excessive force on a man suspected of pushing heroin in a school zone — or, so the arrest appeared on the television news, when captured by an engaged citizen – they’re unable to finance Lurasetti’s choice of an engagement ring for his girlfriend (Tattiawna Jones) and a demand by Ridgeman’s wife (Laurie Holden) to move their family to safer environs. When Ridgeman is informed of a big heist already in the planning stage, he convinces his younger partner to join the party. Even when they sniff out the details of the robbery, the cops remain in the dark as to the crooks’ goals and the ruthlessness they’re willing to invest in the job’s success. The audience is given a hint – a stone-cold killer, committing petty crimes — but it makes virtually no sense. Neither is the hiring of small-timers Tory Kittles (“True Detective”) and Michael Jai White (“Arrow”) to drive the armored-car arranged for by the mastermind, Vogelmann (Thomas Kretschmann). He also is the crook who decides to abduct and hold bank employee Kelly Summer (Carpenter) as a wild-card hostage.

For no good reason, she’s been hesitant to return to work after taking her family-leave benefit, while her unemployable husband stays home with the baby. As Dragged Across Concrete reaches its climactic finale, Kelly’s sacrifice seems unnecessarily cruel. Those qualifiers aside, it isn’t likely that Gibson and Vaughn’s fans will be disappointed or terribly critical of Dragged Across Concrete, even if they feel the need to insert an intermission near its midpoint. In only his third directorial effort, Zahler (Brawl in Cell Block 99) isn’t afraid to make bold editorial decisions or free his actors to interpret their characters in their own way. The production values are solid, and the tension builds throughout the picture. If only he’d learned to yell, “cut,” more often than he did here. The Blu-ray includes “Elements of a Crime,” a three-part making-of documentary, and the featurette, “Moral Conflict: Creating Cinema that Challenges.”

Never-Ending Man: Hayao Miyazaki: Blu-ray
In 2013, 72-year-old Studio Ghibli co-founder Hayao Miyazaki caused a great uproar in the animation community – in Japan and abroad – by unexpectedly announcing his retirement. Having already reached and surpassed every milestone a filmmaker can achieve as an animator, storyteller, writer, director and manga artist, Miyazaki said he was abandoning the production of feature films, due to his age, declining health and to concentrate on displays at the Studio Ghibli Museum, in the Tokyo suburb of Mitaka. Still, even as a self-described “retired geezer and pensioner,” Miyazaki couldn’t sit still for long. It is evidenced in Kaku Arakawa’s tightly focused documentary, Never-Ending Man: Hayao Miyazaki, first shown on Japanese television in November 13, 2016, and finally released here last December 14.  If all outward indications suggest that Miyazaki is some kind of Zen master, whose wisdom guided his artists’ pursuit of greatness, the truth is that he was a stern taskmaster and obsessive creative force. It made him a heart attack waiting to happen. His impatience with people interfering with time devoted to his work is evidenced here in cranky asides aimed toward Arakawa’s team and a group of young animators trying to sell the old-school artist on CGI technology. “Never-Ending Man” doesn’t spend a lot of time retracing Miyazaki’s personal history, discussing his occasionally controversial political views or reviewing such past successes as the Oscar-winning Spirited Away (2001), My Neighbor Totoro (1988), Princess Mononoke (1997), Howl’s Moving Castle (2004) and The Wind Rises (2013). The film crew did, however, spend a lot of time at home with Miyazaki, chatting, cooking, watching him draw his sengoku-era samurai manga and begin production on the 14-minute “Boro the Caterpillar,” now showing at the museum. Anyone planning a trip to Mitaka is advised to make reservations for the museum and theater well in advance of their arrival.

Khrustalyov, My Car! Special Edition: Blu-ray
In an extended interview included in Arrow Academy’s special edition of Khrustalyov, My Car!, co-writer/director Aleksei German maintains that only a native-born Russian artist can translate what’s happened in the former Soviet state since the revolution and keeps recurring today. Outsiders, even those once aligned with Moscow in war and peace, are bound to get it wrong. Based on the evidence provided by Khrustalyov, My Car and other great Russian films newly available in DVD/Blu-ray, he’s probably right. Joseph Stalin forced his people to live under a veil of enforced secrecy and never-ending purges that only spared ass-kissers and thugs willing to enforce his paranoiac urges. After the Great Patriotic War was won and the possibility of freedom arose among returning Red Army soldiers, Stalin declared war on his own people. He had good reason to fear the encroachment of powerful anti-communist forces from the west and propaganda designed to promote the worship of material goods and free-market philosophies. Instead, he tempered the aspirations of Soviet citizens by manipulating the output of farms and factories and convincing his diehard admirers that the country would collapse without him. Finally, just before his death in 1953, Stalin finally got around to implementing plans of his own for sequestering Jewish intellectuals, skilled professionals and politicians. He especially feared their disloyalty to his hand-picked apparatchiks, the creation of an Israel aligned with the U.S. and the influence of American Jews on relatives still living in the USSR. These weren’t the only targets of Stalin’s hostility, however. The gulags and labor camps, once home to millions of German POWs, were quickly being refilled with perceived enemies of the Soviet people and those deemed susceptible to western influence.

Khrustalyov, My Car is set in the first still-frigid days of the spring of 1953, as Stalin’s anti-Semitic “Doctors’ Plot” raged in Moscow and, at his Kuntsevo Dacha, the dictator’s 74-year-old body was ready to give up his ghost. (At the time, there were as many suppressed conspiracy theories about his death as JFK’s assassination would spawn, only a decade later.) The film’s central character is military surgeon General Yuri Georgievich Klensky (Yuri Tsurilo), a larger-than-life Jewish war hero who’s just discovered that he’s being targeted in the Doctors’ Plot. There’s no indication that he’s a threat to the state, but, as a Jewish doctor, Klensky no longer was trusted to treat or operate on party officials. In his final hours of freedom – for lack of a better term — he’s pursued, abused and marked for a tour of the gulags. It’s almost impossible for a writer to do justice to German’s nightmarish version of Yuri’s last hours in a Moscow he once considered to be a personal playground. His desperate, jolting journey east encapsulates the madness of the period. When Stalin’s failing health becomes known at the Kremlin, Soviet authorities track down the truck carrying Klensky to the labor camps and demand he be released to see what he can accomplish, if anything, at the dacha. He’s still suffering a beating and anal rape to which he was subjected on the truck, but even a whiff of freedom is enough to reignite his spirits. By the time Klensky arrives, the “Great Leader” is either dying or already dead. When Stalin finally kicks the bucket, his evil Head of Security, Lavrentiy Beria, utters the first sentence of post-Stalinist USSR, “Khrustalyov, My Car!” The apparatchiks are all in a great hurry to return to the Kremlin, where no clear line of succession was in place and powerful heroes of World War II wasted no time creating alliances and buying votes in the Politburo.

Even though Klensky is immediately released, he does not return to medicine, preferring, instead, to “go to the people.” As commandant of a train, the last image we see is of the general happily drinking with laborers and balancing a glass of port on his shaved head. Meanwhile, Klensky’s very bizarre family has been evicted from their relatively comfortable digs and relocated to a crowded communal apartment. Outside, the Russian winter keeps the streets empty, except for police vehicles and the limousines of government authorities and secret police. Almost nothing “normal” happens during the movie’s entire 147-minute length. To fully appreciate Khrustalyov, My Car, a short course in post-war Soviet history isn’t particularly necessary, even if a quick Internet survey might help non-academics. A perusal of  Armando Iannucci’s dark political comedy, The Death of Stalin (2017), which depicts the power struggle following the leader’s  death, might be warranted, as well. The new 2K restoration, from the original camera negative, accentuates the austere beauty of Vladimir Ilin’s austere black-and-white cinematography. Audio commentary is provided by producer Daniel Bird; “Between Realism and Nightmare” is a new video essay on the movie and German’s other films, by historian and film critic Eugénie Zvonkine; “Diagnosis Murder: Jonathan Brent on the Doctors’ Plot” clarifies different elements of Stalin’s anti-Semitic campaign; film historian and critic Ron Holloway interviews the Russian director, who died in 2013 and struggled with censorship and financing throughout his career; “German … at Last,” an interview with German by producer Guy Séligmann; a double-sided fold-out poster; limited edition 60-page booklet, featuring new writing by Gianna D’Emilio, an  archival essay by Joël Chaperon and original reviews.

Tarantula!: Blu-ray
The Brain: Blu-ray
Jack Arnold (Creature From the Black Lagoon) and co-writer Robert M. Fresco’s giant-creature-feature Tarantula! (1955) has its defenders – mostly critics, who mark on the curve, and midnight-movie fanatics – but the only question it raises today is how it managed to avoid enshrinement on “MST3K.” It arrived in theaters a year after Them! effectively invented the “nuclear monster” and “big bug” subgenres. The primary difference between the two drive-in favorites is Tarantula!’s use of radioactive isotopes to trigger gigantism in caged lab animals, instead of fallout from nuclear bombs deployed or tested in southwestern desert. In Japan, the kaiju (a.k.a., “strange beast”) movement was launched by Godzilla (1954), Rodan (1956) and Mothra (1961), whose monsters’ growth could be directly traced to the bombs dropped on Nagasaki and Hiroshima, and test in the South Pacific. In Tarantula!, Hitchcock-favorite Leo G. Carroll plays mad scientist Gerald Deemer, whose partner is first seen wandering through the Arizona desert deformed and demented by whatever happened in the lab. He’s replaced by recent college graduate Stephanie “Steve” Clayton (Mara Corday), who looks as if she just stepped out of a Vogue pictorial on what modern socialites wear to work in New York. It takes handsome  Dr. Matt Hastings – genre specialist John Agar (The Mole People) – about 10 seconds to hook up with the new arrival, who needs a ride to Deemer’s remote laboratory. To be fair, the biochemist insists that he is working on a plan to feed the world, by developing a quick-growth formula on plants and animals. In Tarantula!, however, the test subject is more likely to eat the humans, instead of enrich them. In the absence of a direct nuclear threat, the only thing that appears to stall the progress of the insatiable creature are napalm bombs, called in by an uncredited jet-squadron leader (Clint Eastwood). That might sound like a spoiler – and, it is – but how else would viewers know to pay close attention to a masked character, who only arrives in the last five minutes? The Scream Factory package features a dandy new 2K remaster of the film, a stills gallery and fresh commentary with film historians Tom Weaver, Dr. Robert J. Kiss and David Schecter.

Also from Scream Factory, Ed Hunt’s “Canuxploitation classic, The Brain, easily qualifies as a sci-fi/horror film that’s so outrageously bad it’s fun to watch. The eponymous antagonist is a pulsating mass of grey matter that explodes in size and strength as it takes control of human minds and devours human bodies. The monster is in cahoots with the host of a small town’s most popular TV show, “Independent Thinking,” which is hosted by the megalomaniacal Dr. Anthony Blakely (David Gale). Thinking that Blakely is on the level, local police and school authorities send juvenile delinquents to him to “fix.” Two of them, Jim Majelewski (Tom Bresnahan) and his girlfriend, Janet (Cynthia Preston), smell a rat when they spot other problem teens, doing their best impression of pod people. Although the movie harkens back to the 1950s, The Brain might remind some bad-movie aficionados of Attack of the Killer Tomatoes! (1978), which, 10 years earlier, introduced the concept of bulbous monsters. Unlike Tarantula!, too, The Brain was featured in last year’s live traveling tour of Mystery Science Theater 3000. In addition to the 4K restoration from the original negative, the package adds new commentaries from Hunt, Bresnahan and composer Paul Zaza; interviews with Preston, actor George Buza and assistant art director Michael Borthwick; the featurette, “Food for Thought: A Love Letter to The Brain”; and a stills gallery.

Bigger Like Me: Extended Director’s Cut
In his 2014 documentary, Big Like Me, comedian Greg Bergman took what I assumed to be a trademark bit from his standup routine and expanded the concept to its illogical conclusion. He did so by demonstrating how far he would go, in real life, to make peace with his penis, a goal that, so far, had eluded him. He claimed that men have always obsessed about the size of their penis, but, until recently, felt no great need to do anything about it. As long as their wives and lovers pretended, as least, to be satisfied with the length and girth of their appendage, most men elected to leave well enough alone. Then, in the 1960s, the sexual revolution opened the floodgates to nudity on-screen, on-stage, in magazines and in public. This freedom, some men believed, gave women the ability to see what they might be missing and, if desired, comparison shop. It wasn’t until the “Seinfeld” episode, “The Shrinkage,” brought size issues into the open – just as masturbation was demystified, in “The Contest” – that such once-taboo topics were opened for discussion by mainstream comics. It was about the same time as Internet streaming made pornography as accessible as music videos and flying saucer videos. When the tollgates were still up, subscription fees limited consumers to what they could afford to see and the fetishes they chose to embrace. Those days are way behind us, of course, with access to adult material freely available to anyone with a search engine.

Although no one, including Bergman’s wife, complained or ridiculed his perfectly normal-sized penis, he compared his johnson to those he saw on the porn sites and determined it was lacking a certain … heft. After it became a part of his standup routine, Bergman decided to do something about it and, of course, make a documentary about his quest.  Hence, Big Like Me. This year’s Bigger Like Me: Extended Director’s Cut adds 14 minutes of mostly redundant material to that film, updating us on his marital status and other pointless concerns. After failed experiments using pills, pumps and other OTC remedies, Bergman traveled to Tijuana, where, for a price and prayer, all things are available. He found a surgeon who reluctantly agreed to add some girth to Bergman’s joint, absent any promises that the experiment wouldn’t leave him deformed, disappointed and depressed. Instead, the surgery was successful. It opened all sorts of narrative avenues to the comic, including much semi-gratuitous nudity, embarrassing interviews with random women on size issues, a guest appearance by the man with the world’s biggest cock – hint, it isn’t — and a crude variation of the “The Dating Game.” We’re also invited to witness the inevitable second breakup with his first wife, who we don’t for a minute blame for the divorces. Bigger Like Me isn’t without humor, but it’s limited to the amount of time it would have taken Bergman to explain his adventure in a comedy club. (It might have worked better if the guy wasn’t such an outright dick, himself, or as a bit on Comedy Central’s “Nathan for You.”) I thought Bergman’s 2017 political mockumentary, Obamaland Part 1: Rise of the Trumpublikans, was a far better way for him to showcase his offbeat sense of humor.

ITV/Acorn: Wire in the Blood: The Complete Collection
Acorn: Finding Joy: Series 1
Acorn: A Place to Call Home: Season 6
Based on characters created by the prolific Scottish mystery writer, Val McDermid, ITV’s “Wire in the Blood” pre-dated most of the network crime dramas featuring clinical psychologists, clairvoyants, forensic geniuses and other readers of crystal balls. Today, the show’s protagonist, Dr. Anthony Valentine Hill (Robson Green) might be confused with any number of other such crimefighters. During its 2002-2008 British run – it also aired on BBC America — the conceit was still extremely viable and full of intriguing storylines. Green, who, since 1989, has worked exclusively on television, had already endeared himself with fans of British police dramas, with ITV’s “Touching Evil.” For the first 14 episodes of “Wire,” Green was most often paired with DCI Carol Jordan, played by another stalwart of British television, Hermione Norris (MI-5), and, later, DI Alex Fielding (Simone Lahbib). Their turf is fictional Bradfield, which might still be found in West Yorkshire. Although Hill’s assistance isn’t always appreciated, he’s known for being able to tap into his own dark side to get inside the heads of serial killers. As such, he’s only called upon to help on tough and seemingly impenetrable cases. They feel as fresh today as most other British crime series from the period, which was well-known for its exemplary mini-series. A complete-series package was released by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment in 2016, but at a considerably higher price than the Arrow collection currently being offered by Amazon. The 24 movie-length episodes weigh in at a hefty 1,922 minutes.

In the first season of Acorn Media’s “Finding Joy,” Internet news gal, Joy Morris (Amy Huberman), is handed a horizontal promotion, from copy editor, to special-interest vlogger. It coincides with the nearly simultaneous discovery of a tryst by her live-in boyfriend, Aidan (Lochlann O’Mearáin), with a gorgeous brunette, and a turd left on her bed’s white duvet by her dog, also named Aidan. Yes, the same bed both times. The wee blond Dubliner (“Striking Out”) is a perfect fit in the role of a likeably neurotic young woman, whose new assignment takes her to the unusual places that people find their bliss: full-contact wrestling, touchy-feely wellness retreats, hot-yoga sessions, vertigo therapy, non-committal dating and Lamaze lessons with her best friend. Huberman is credited, as well, with creating and co-writing the six-episode series. Some of the fun comes when Joy attempts to fill the physical gap left by the ouster of “human Aidan.” After the de rigueur ordeal of finding the perfect roommate, she settles for her polar opposite: the bold and brassy Amelia (Aisling Bea). Joy’s quirky, punky workmate, Charlene (Jenny Rainsford), is also a delight. The talking “canine Aidan” may be a bit of a stretch, but the gimmick doesn’t wear out its welcome. The set contains a making-of featurette.

Set in rural New South Wales in the period following the Second World War, “A Place to Call Home” is a highly melodramatic mini-series/soap-opera, whose run was capped last year at six seasons. The show’s most prominent actor is Marta Dusseldorp, who’s starred in such international hits as “Jack Irish,” “Janet King” and the “BlackJack” movies. After 20 years living in Europe, her Sarah Adams returns to Australia, working her way home as a nurse on an ocean liner. During the voyage, Sarah befriends the influential and wealthy Bligh family and discovers a scandalous family secret. In Sydney, she finds her estranged mother still unwilling to forgive her perceived “sin” of converting to Judaism. With no other prospects, Sarah takes up an offer for a job by George Bligh (Brett Climo), in the Inverness hospital, much to the disapproval of his overbearing mother, Elizabeth (Noni Hazlehurst). In the final season, Sarah finally marries George, causing Elizabeth’s anti-Semitic instincts to re-emerge, especially when her new daughter-in-law takes her place as lady of Ash Park.  George’s son, James (David Berry), also returns from abroad to start a business in Sydney, while his daughter, Anna (Abby Earl), remains in Hawaii with her sister-in-law (Arianwen Parkes-Lockwood), nursing a secret from the rest of the family. An uprising of their male-chauvinist neighbors threatens to undo progress made on a center promoting women’s rights.

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Quote Unquotesee all »

It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
~ Hampton Fancher

“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon