MCN Columnists
Gary Dretzka

By Gary Dretzka Dretzka@moviecitynews.com

The DVD Wrapup: Cold War, Betty Blue, Official Secrets, Demons, Olivia, American Dreamer, Land of Yik Yak

Cold War: Criterion Collection: Blu-ray
Betty Blue: Criterion Collection: Blu-ray
Although Paweł Pawlikowski’s highly personal Cold War (2018) could have been set in any number of Eastern European countries, during the first 15 years of the post-war era, the hint in the director’s surname tells us that most of the film, at least, takes place in Poland. It spans the first three distinctive evolutionary changes in the transition to totalitarianism, during which young adults lost any hope in the promise of a “workers’ paradise” or “Socialism with a human face.” It opens in the Polish countryside, where a pair of ethnomusicologists are recording folk tunes to re-orchestrated and choreographed for a national dance troupe. that will be examined and considered for use by a big troupe. When the Mazurek Company reawakens nationalistic pride among young and old Poles, however, Communist Party toadies demand that it adds contemporary, overtly political material worthy of being performed before giant photographs of Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin. If not, it wouldn’t be allowed to tour Eastern bloc countries. Cold War ends after the construction of the Berlin Wall and virtual elimination of escape routes to the west. One of the ethnomusicologists, Wiktor (Tomasz Kot), has been entrusted with whipping the troupe into shape. While he’s at it, the composer/musician who discovers the love of his life, Zula (Joanna Kulig), who’s both brilliantly talented and, because she’d been imprisoned for stabbing her sexually abusive father, mature beyond her years. It wouldn’t be wise for Wiktor and Zula to advertise their love for each other, but it’s there for almost everyone to see. During a stopover in East Berlin, Wiktor’s disdain for creating songs designed to celebrate Uncle Joe and government-enforced dictates prompts him to ask Zula to join him in his defection to the west. At the last minute, Zula comes to believe that a woman’s chances for success in Western Europe will be worse than those already available to her at home. Her fears of being overshadowed by Wiktor aren’t unreasonable.

Over the next decade, their turbulent relationship will play out in stolen moments between two worlds: the jazz clubs of bohemian Paris, where he finds work interpreting other people’s music, and in Poland, where Zula finds an opportunity to escape by marrying a wealthy Sicilian. A few years pass, before the still-smitten couple meets again in Paris and Wiktor records an album of jazz standards to rehabilitate Zula’s reputation. Never satisfied, the by-now alcoholic Zula will slip out her lover’s arms once again and return to Poland. As addicted to Zula’s twisted idea of love as ever, he rejects the advice of the Polish ambassador by insisting on returning home, as well, where he’ll face the consequences of his earlier defection. After his incarceration, they will re-connect and face the reality of living out their lives in poverty and artistic despair, with only occasional flares of sexual ecstasy. The quasi-Shakespearean Cold War is informed by the tempestuous, border-hopping marriage of Pawlikowski’s parents. In this way, it recalls his Academy Award-winning drama, Ida (2014), which was partially based on the delayed discovery that his paternal grandmother was a Jew killed in Auschwitz. Before emigrating  to England to be with his mother, Pawelikowski was raised as a Roman Catholic in Warsaw. Kulig made an unforgettable appearance in Ida, as a lounge singer, and is even more impressive in Cold War. Other selling points include Lukasz Zal’s brilliant black-and-white cinematography and a musical score that leapfrogs from Mazurka to be-bop. Criterion’s new 4K digital master, supervised and approved by Pawlikowski and Żal, with 5.1 surround DTS HD Master Audio Soundtrack, are worth the wait for this Blu-ray to appear. It adds a lively conversation between Pawlikowski and filmmaker Alejandro G. Iñàrritu (Amores Perros); a press conference featuring Pawlikowski, Żal, Kulig, Kot, co-star Borys Szyc and producer Ewa Puszczynska; making-of documentaries; and an essay by critic Stephanie Zacharek.

Upon its original 1986 release, at a greatly abbreviated length of 120 minutes, the protagonists of Jean-Jacques Beineix’s Betty Blue were sometimes categorized as being star-crossed lovers. It’s never seemed to me to be a terribly accurate diagnosis of their romantic malaise and feels even more off base within the context of Criterion’s 184-minute Blu-ray edition. Based on Philippe Djian’s 1985 novel, “37.2°C in the Morning,” Beineix’s follow-up to the wildly eccentric pop thriller, Diva (1981), and widely ignored Moon in the Gutter (1983), was looked upon by critics as a film that could help determine whether he was a one-hit wonder or merely in a slump. The consensus favored the former opinion. The two-hour version remained in viewers’ memories primarily for the disproportionate number of scenes in which the protagonists appeared fully and partially nude. If the distributor wanted to convince us of Betty’s magnetic attraction to her implausibly named boyfriend, Zorg (Jean-Hugues Anglade), it didn’t have to work very hard. Even in her debut appearance, Béatrice Dalle possessed one of the most perfectly proportioned bodies in the history of the medium and, when necessary, Betty deployed her coquettish charms as if they were a strategic weapon. (It’s unlikely that Anglade wore a prosthetic penis when it came time to demonstrate Zorg’s inability to break through his lover’s defenses.) When they meet, Zorg considers himself to be a fatally failed novelist. He faces that reality by doing odd jobs for shiftless bosses, including painting bungalows built over a popular beach in the south of France. For his labor, he’s accorded the use of a cabin and utilities, which, for a slacker, is roughly the equivalent of winning an all-expenses-paid trip to St. Tropez on “Wheel of Fortune.”

The cherry on the sundae is applied when Betty shows up on his doorstep one day and volunteers to share his modest quarters. It doesn’t take long for Zorg to realize that Betty’s a ticking time bomb with multiple fuses. She can’t control her hair-trigger impulses and proves it by pouring a bucket of pink paint on their landlord’s expensive car and tossing Zorg’s possessions out the window, onto the sand. Soon thereafter, she’ll end an argument at a friend’s pizzeria by stabbing a demanding customer with a fork. Naturally, Betty feels better, if completely uncontrite in the morning. After she discovers a box full of hand-written manuscripts in a box in their bedroom, Betty decides to transcribe and send them to more than 20 publishers, but not before she sets fire to the bungalow. It’s a pattern that follows the couple wherever they go. Betty is so protective of Zorg’s psychological well-being that she’ll go to any length – including slashing an unconvinced publisher with a metal comb – to keep his book on the front burner. When she’s led to believe that she’s pregnant – she’s not – Betty goes off the deep end. Can this relationship be saved? Not in 120 minutes, anyway. Given the extra hour, however, it’s easier to see that Betty is suffering from disorders that not only have nothing to do with the constellations, but also are commonly treated with electroshock and tranquilizers. In the ensuing 30 years’ worth of psychiatric and pharmaceutical developments – not to mention the free advice of Dr. Phil, Dr. Oz and Dr. Gregory House – it’s easy to see how Betty’s mania might now be treatable with mood-enhancers, psychotropic and anti-psychotic drugs. Zorg mistakenly believed that love, sex and the occasionally bank robbery would keep them together mentally and physically. All he was doing, however, was enabling her mood swings. The extra hour allows viewers to see more of Betty as she might have behaved while being treated by a competent psychiatrist and drugs that fit her condition. It breaks our heart when that option isn’t available to the protagonists. That might not sound particularly entertaining or cinematic, but it explains why Zorg doesn’t alleviate his pain by dropping her off on the side of the road and driving away, as if she were an unwanted pet. The Criterion Blu-ray features a high-definition digital restoration, approved by Beineix; “Blue Notes and Bungalows,” a 60-minute documentary from 2013, featuring the dirctor, Anglade and Dalle, associate producer Claudie Ossard, cinematographer Jean-François Robin and composer Gabriel Yared; a making-of video; “Le chien de Monsieur Michel,” a short film by Beineix from 1977; a French television interview from 1986, with Beineix and Dalle; her screen test; and an essay by critic Chelsea Phillips-Carr.

Official Secrets
Americans have grown so accustomed to being lied to by politicians and business leaders that we’ve stopped reading newspapers, watching the evening news shows and commercials, and voting. Several presidents have attempted to discredit and uncover whistleblowers who’ve spoke truth to power and elected to risk their livelihoods to protect our liberties. President Trump isn’t the first elected official to mislead the public in defense of questionable policies – anyone remember the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution — nor will he be the last. If goodness prevails, however, future chief executives will discontinue his practice of insulting, mocking and bullying public servants who use whistleblowing as a defense against tyranny, In August, Gavin Hood’s Official Secrets joined a list of like-minded movies that includes The Report (2019), The Post (2017), The Insider (1999), The China Syndrome (1979), All the President’s Men (1976), The Fifth Estate (2013), Silkwood (1983), Marie (1985), The Whistle Blower (1986) and War on Whistleblowers: Free Press and the National Security State (2013). It tells the true story of British Intelligence whistle-blower Katharine Gun (Keira Knightley), who, during the immediate run-up to the 2003 Iraq invasion, leaked a top-secret NSA memo pressing for an illegal U.S.-U.K. spying operation against members of the UN Security Council. The memo proposed blackmailing smaller, undecided member states into giving a thumb’s-up to the war. At great personal and professional risk, journalist Martin Bright (Matt Smith) published the purloined document in the Observer, and the story made headlines around the world. Members of the Security Council were outraged and any chance of a UN resolution in favor of backing the war collapsed. As was likely, anyway, President Bush used the since-discredited WMD excuse – as well as Saddam Hussein’s non-existent links to Al Qaeda – to pursue a personal vendetta by invading Iraq and killing the man he believed targeted his father a decade earlier. In his short-sighted rush to remove the thorn in Bush’s side, however, the allies also eliminated Iraq’s ruling Baathist political and military infrastructure, without a plan to use the more trustworthy individuals to reconstruct the government from within. The resultant chaos freed warring militias to form and launch guerrilla attacks against the U.S. and their sectarian enemies. It also caused a leadership vacuum that, years later, allowed ISIS to emerge from the shadows and inspire Iran to take a more confrontation approach to its feud with the U.S. Oil prices are higher, now, than before the invasion and our enemies have able to paint America and Britain leaders as warmongers.

In London, the disclosure of collusion between the two superpowers not only made Tony Blair look like an easily duped tool of the Bush administration, but also complicit in the deaths of and injuries to tens of thousands of British troops and Iraqi civilians. Official Secrets reserves those realities to the end credits. The movie’s primary focus is on the legal drama that ensued when the 28-year-old Gun admitted that she leaked the memo and was put on trial for violating the Official Secrets Act of 1989, put in place after it was determined Maggie Thatcher lied in her defense of murderous actions in the Falklands War … such as it was. The act effectively forbade any disclosing of information, documents or other articles by past and present members of security and intelligence services, or who is or has been a person notified that he is subject to the provisions of section 1. Although Gun fit under that umbrella, the translator argued that she worked for the British people, not the interests of the government. Thousands of those same British citizens subsequently would die or be injured in what essentially was a war founded on lies. In the year before her trial was set to begin, state police and government intelligence officials made her life a living hell, causing her to lose her job, having her reputation ruined and forcing her to fight the expulsion of her Kurdish husband from his adopted home. (Financially destitute, Gun would later move to Turkey to be with him and their daughter.) Official Secrets lets the tension and intrigue build at their own deliberate pace and absent the melodramatic distractions and musical cues that accompany similar Hollywood fare. As such, the largely forgotten and still completely unexpected ending to Gun’s ordeal is that much more stunning. Knightley’s low-key depiction of her character’s courage and vulnerability is spot-on, and she receives similarly understated support from Smith, Matthew Goode, Ray Panthaki, Jeremy Northam and Ralph Fiennes, as her quietly determined defense attorney. (He’s also harassed by government spies.) Rhys Ifans is typically gonzo in his portrayal of an investigative reporter who pushes his editor to take the revelations seriously. (The Observer’s editorial board had already backed Blair.) At a time when Trump’s minions are attempting to out the person responsible for blowing the whistle on the President’s abhorrent Ukrainian strategy, Official Secrets could hardly be more relevant.
The Demons
Genèse Genesis
It took Richard Linklater 12 years to complete Boyhood (2014) – with 39 days of actual shooting — his Oscar-nominated drama about growing up normal in Anywhere, Texas. That’s because the brilliant Houston-born writer/director chose to follow his principle characters from their grade-school years to the opening week of college, using the same actors throughout the process. The finished product played out over a deliberately paced 165 minutes, which didn’t appear to bother the arthouse crowd. While watching Quebecois filmmaker Philippe Lesage’s The Demons (2015) and Genesis (2018), which arrived this week on DVD, I couldn’t help but think that the decision to link both films, using at least one transitional character in common, was inspired by Richard Linklater’s Boyhood. Lesage may also have based certain thematic conceits on  Michael Haneke’s Palme D’or-winning The White Ribbon (2009). I don’t mean to suggest that he copied or ripped off key elements of those singular films, just that they may have provoked something intellectually challenging in the filmmaker’s approach. Being of Canadian origin, it should come as no surprise to anyone that The Demons and Genesis went virtually unseen in the USA. The former examined the childhood fears and internalized insecurities — sexual, social and practical – that torture pre-adolescent boys during the day, but mostly at night in the solitude of their rooms. The central protagonist is 10-year-old Felix (Édouard Tremblay-Grenier), who lives in a suburb of Montreal with his two siblings and can’t understand why his parents are so violently estranged from each other. Equally bothersome are the funny feelings he’s begun to experience whenever blond gym teacher Rébecca  (Victoria Diamond) enters his field of vision and the increasingly creepy attention paid to him by swimming coach, Ben (Pier-Luc Funk). Like any 10-year-old hypochondriac, Felix convinces himself that he’s contracted every disease that’s only recently come to the attention of mainstream Canadians – AIDS, for example — and he may be a natural target for the serial killer that’s rumored to be terrorizing the community. At other times, Felix behaves as if his demons are temporary apparitions and he can enjoy the same activities as other children his age. His character is extremely well-drawn by Lesage and wonderfully depicted by the freshman actor, Tremblay-Grenier.

Anyone left uncertain of Felix’s short-term fate will be happy to learn that he returns in Genesis, four years older and suffering nothing more threatening than a full-blown case of the puberty blues. He attends a summer camp, where, when the older counselors aren’t supervising swimming, backpacking and canoeing activities, they’re leading hootenannies and teach the kids French-language songs. It doesn’t take long for Felix to figure out how useful poetic lyricism can be in the wooing rituals attendant to puppy love. A 14-year-old blond, Béatrice (Emilie Bierre), falls under the spell cast by his acoustic guitar and balladry. If they’re going to have a short-term future together, at least, it will be limited to love letters and, perhaps, the third leg of a trilogy. The first two segments of Genesis aren’t obviously connected to the final leg, which arrives without many identifiable links. In them, siblings Guillaume  (Théodore Pellerin) and Charlotte (Noée Abita) are put through the wringers of late-teen rejection, betrayal and intolerance. If Genesis feels more disjointed than The Demons, it’s probably because Lesage didn’t envision the earlier film to be part of a trilogy and, unlike Linklater, didn’t lock up his actors for the long term. (Pellerin returns as a different character.) The roller-coaster ride that connects pre-teen anxiety and adolescent romance is never far from the viewers’ consciousness, as is Lesage’s documentary background. Both films, now available from Film Movement, are enhanced  by an eclectic mix of classical music, Delta blues, rock and pop, including Miriam Makeba’s international hit, “Pata Pata,” Bonus features include commentary by Lesage and the short film, “The Lesson,” directed by Tristan Aymon.

Olivia: Blu-ray
The emergence of the French New Wave in the late-1950s had more than one lasting effect. Apart from a complete rethinking of how movies should be made and what kind of society they should reflect, it essentially closed the book on literary-based films associated with a so-called “Tradition of Quality.” It was a term coined by Jean-Pierre Barrot, in 1953, for an essay in the leftist film weekly, L’Ecran Français, and picked up a year later by Francois Truffaut and other critics sharing their opinions in Cahiers du cinema. Poof, within five years, admirers and practitioners of emerging Nouvelle Vague auteurism simply made the hidebound discipline go away. It’s taken nearly 70 years for Jacqueline Audry’s romantic drama, Olivia (1951), to prove its worthiness, thanks to the TLC accorded it by Icarus Films. Unlike the semi-autobiographical book upon which it’s based — Dorothy Bussy’s scintillating 1950 novel, “Olivia” – Lesage’s adaptation is, by necessity, more guarded and devoid of overtly homosexual gestures. All inferences of lesbian love are veiled or implied. Contemporary audiences, especially those conversant in 20th Century queer culture, will recognize Olivia’s connection to Mädchen in Uniform (1931/1958), Diabolique (1955/1996), The Children’s Hour (1961), The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, Therese and Isabelle (1968) and, more recently, Cracks (2009). Olivia is set in the kind of boarding school that’s always prepared the scions of wealthy families how to navigate their way through a life dominated by overbearing parents, unsatisfactory spouses, forbidden love affairs, confused sexuality, bourgeois complacency, insincere friendships and children being raised just like they were. Olivia is set in a women’s finishing school in the late 1800s, located just outside Paris. The curriculum leans more toward the arts and prevailing etiquette than math and science, which, in all likelihood, wouldn’t do them much good as adults, anyway. Politically, the student body is divided equally between the school’s two head mistresses: Miss Julie (Edwige Feuillère) and Miss Cara (Simone Simon), who are engaged in a turf war that also causes them to compete for the affections of their charges. In fact, their passions are largely fueled by their feelings for each other, as well. Into this pre-existing combat zone arrives an impressionable and seemingly innocent English girl, Olivia (Marie-Claire Olivia), who almost immediately falls under the spell of the more outgoing of the two women, Julie. (The deceptively fragile Cara could be a poster child for the vapours.) The co-headmistress returns Olivia’s attentions in ways that can hardly be confused as pedagogical. If the plot is primarily driven by the shifting sands of adolescent loyalties and the territorialism of adults, the overall tone is established through period conventions and costumes. Olivia’s original U.S. title was changed to the more salacious, “Pit of Loneliness,” which evoked Marguerite Radclyffe Hall’s 1928 lesbian novel, “The Well of Loneliness.” The film is also of interest for being one of the few directed by a woman, in France or anywhere else. During the war years, Audry worked as an assistant (a.k.a., script girl) to Jean Delannoy, G.W. Pabst and Max Ophüls, and she directed a short film, “Le Feu de paille” (1943). After the war, she directed several commercial features, several of which evidenced a feminist slant, with central female characters and then-radical views on gender identity and non-mainstream sexuality. The bonus features includes a vintage interview with Audrey.

American Dreamer: Blu-ray
The Fare: Blu-ray
It’s no longer unusual for standup comedians and sitcom stars to be cast against type in movies that sometimes clash with their fans’ perception of them. They do so for various reasons, including a desire to challenge themselves in unknown territory and proving to casting directors that playing dramatic roles isn’t incompatible with performing at a nightclub or defining a character in a television series. Because the frequently violent American Dreamer (2018) wasn’t shown on enough screens to register on the Richter scale at BoxOfficeMojo, Jim Gaffigan’s reputation as the “King of Clean” wasn’t threatened. Now that the action/crime/thriller has been released on DVD/Blu-ray/PPV, with the comic’s name over the title, he might have some ’splainin’ to do to his friends at the Dove Foundation. Not surprisingly, then, Galligan’s photo on the marketing material doesn’t quite match the unkempt appearance of his character. He plays Cam, an extremely unhappy driver for a company not unlike Uber or Lyft. Neither does the cover art convey how violent Derrick Borte’s R-rated picture is. It won’t take viewers much time, however, to decide whether to stick around to the bitter end or find services that stream his concerts or episodes of “The Jim Gaffigan Show.” In addition to picking up fares for the ride-sharing service, HAIL, the onetime computer programmer is reduced, as well, to chauffeuring a drug pusher around town to monitor his business and hook up with his baby moma. Cam  prefers the anonymity of non-descript cars to the garish vehicles preferred by pimps and traffickers.

It’s on one of his regular assignments for Mazz (Robbie Jones) that Cam witnesses what happens to street-level dealers who skim money from what’s owed the boss man. He also notices the affection Mazz shows his son, who’s being raised by a woman (Isabel Arraiza) who’s so strung out on crack cocaine that she’ll risk having the crap kicked of her for cheating on him. Meanwhile, Cam’s efforts to visit his own son are being blocked by his estranged wife (Tammy Blanchard), who considers him to be a bad influence on the boy and was issued a restraining order to keep him away from their home. After losing his job, he attempted to assuage his despair, rage and embarrassment through alcohol, while ignoring his anti-depressants and anti-psychotic pills. He’s also months behind in his child-support payments. Having burned all of his bridges months earlier, the lummox concocts a plan that would take advantage of his client’s ill-gotten gains and love for his son. It might have worked, if it weren’t so sloppily conceived. Without giving anything away, let’s just say that the “butterfly effect” almost immediately comes into play and Cam finds himself in the middle of a shit storm caused by the flapping of his own wings. I enjoyed American Dreamer – the title inspired by a quote from Travis Bickle, in Taxi Driver – more than most mainstream critics and about the same number as many of those writing for niche websites. Galligan is very good as a character who makes his own bad luck and commits a crime that triggers a dozen other equally heinous crimes. For his part, Borte maintains our interest for most of the movie’s 92-minute length, while encouraging us to guess how Cam’s going to find his way out of the mess he created … or not.

In director D.C. Hamilton and writer/co-star Brinna Kelly’s second collaboration on a feature film in three years — behind the virtually unseen thriller, The Midnight Man (2016) — the entire film spools out inside a vintage Checker Cab, or within 20 feet of it. Unlike Jim Galligan in American Dreamer, the protagonist of The Fare, Harris (Gino Anthony Pesi), is dispatched to his customers’ locations by the disembodied voice of someone we assume to be human and expects the passenger to pay cash, after the ride, not a pre-paid card. It’s curious that Harris finds Penny (Kelly), waiting from him on the side of what appears to be a wide, flat and dry riverbed in the middle of nowhere, or Pahrump, Nevada, one. The fare, Penny, couldn’t be more friendly or vivacious. Twenty minutes after striking up a pleasant conversation, the dispatcher warns Harris of nasty weather on the horizon. With a clap of lightning and thunder, Penny disappears from the back seat of the cab and the driver is told to return to the base. Almost immediately, though, Harris is shown driving on the same empty road, on his way to Penny. The same banter is exchanged, and the same mysterious disappearance occurs. This happens two or times before Harris begins to remember their previous conversations and Penny opens up to him. It’s at this point that The Fare turns the narrative corner from the time loop in Groundhog Day (1993),  to the mysteries of life, depicted in “The Twilight Zone.” With the occasional shifts to color, displays of affection and admonitions of the cranky dispatcher, viewers will find an explanation for everything that happens. As cute as Kelly and Pesi are together, The Fare probably couldn’t have sustained the misterioso a second longer than its 82 minutes. I might have attempted to work Chris Rea’s “Road to Hell” into the mix, however.

The Perils of Gwendoline in the Land of the Yik Yak: Blu-ray
The version of Just Jaeckin’s 1984 adaptation of John Willie’s  “Sweet Gwendoline” that viewers saw depended on which side of the Atlantic Ocean they were sitting. In France, the 105-minute edition was released as Gwendoline. A full year later, Jaeckin’s titillating action/fantasy was trimmed by 15 minutes and ludicrously re-titled The Perils of Gwendoline in the Land of the Yik Yak for U.S. audiences. (Just try making that one fit on a marquee.) When the original French version was finally made available here, on DVD, viewers quickly saw that most of the excised footage contained shots of topless women warriors – models, primarily – in costumes designed to resemble the Amazon soldiers Willie drew for Wink and Beauty Parade magazines in the post-war period. In hindsight, the incidents of violence are far more funny than hurtful, and the implements of torture, lesbian lust and bondage are as instantly recognizable as H.R. Giger’s  “biomechanical” designs for Alien (1979) and Species (1995). As the screenplay goes, Gwendolyn (Tawny Kitaen) has just arrived in Macau on a tramp steamer, trapped inside a crate and already sold to the owner of a casino that resembles the one in The Man with The Golden Gun (1974). Comically drawn characters played by Zabou Breitman (The Minister) and Brent Huff (Chasing Beauty) help spring her from the clutches of her new master and agree to accompany her on a mission to find her father, who was last seen searching for a rare butterfly in the Land of the Yik Yak. The territory is dominated by time-worn savages, massive sand dunes and tropical jungles, all within a hop, skip and jump from each other. They chance on an underground city that looks as if it were carved from ice and is ruled by a maniacal Queen (Bernadette Lafont) and Gwen’s comic-book nemesis, D’Arcy (Jean Rougerie). The cave is outfitted with implements of delightfully extreme bondage and S&M. The Queen’s topless soldiers and female slaves do most of the work, while the male prisoners are reserved for mating purposes only … one sting and they die.  The matriarch plans elaborate competitions and sex games, in which chariots are pulled by semi-naked women and sexually deprived warriors devour male captives served up to them like chum to sharks. Gwendolyn’s fate will be decided in a copulation cook-off with her handsome companion (Huff) and the newly converted gal pal, Beth. Just when things are getting interesting, D’Arcy pulls the pin on a volcano – don’t ask — giving Gwen and her friends only a short amount of time to escape. But, what’s the deal with the butterfly?

Jaeckin, who had previously directed Emmanuelle (1974), The Story of O (1975) and Lady Chatterley’s Lover (1981), was handed a large budget – for France, anyway — which afforded him the rights to the “Sweet Gwendoline” comics, a decent travel budget, sound stages to build the Land of the Yick Yack, a generous rehearsal and production schedule and top-notch designers who had a field day turning Willie’s one-dimensional designs into a veritable theme park for bondage and S&M fetishists. The 105-minute edition gives viewers more time to fully appreciate the amount of effort that went into movie, even if the hi-def restoration reveals the shortcuts taken by the designers and construction crews. Special features include a reversible cover with alternate artwork; both iterations of the movie; separate commentaries with Jaeckin and stars Kitaen and Huff; fresh and vintage interviews with Jaeckin, designers and comic-book artists François Schuiten and Claude Renard, exec-producer Jean-Claude Fleury, and production designer Françoise Deleu; promos for the Blu-ray release with Kitaen and Huff; a 2006 interview with Jaeckin; a spirited chat between Willie and sex researcher Dr. Alfred Kinsey; and Kitaen’s pictorial for French Lui magazine, which ran before she became addicted to plastic surgery and had the first of her six clearly needless breast-enhancement surgeries and, in 2017, one to reduce them to a more natural look.

Boys Next Door: Blu-ray
Penelope Spheeris admits to having two distinctly different filmmaking careers. In the first one, she was free to focus her attention on independent music videos for such hard-rockers as Megadeath and Night Ranger; underground documentaries, including the “Decline of Western Civilization” trilogy; and theatrical features informed by her encounters with homeless youths (Suburbia), teenage hoodlums (The Boys Next Door) and endangered runaways (Hollywood Vice Squad), which excited critics, but made practically no money. Her second career began with the commercial success of Wayne’s World (1992) and the excitement shown by fans of the “SNL” spinoff for the video, “Queen: Bohemian Rhapsody.” From there, Spheeris was assigned a string of mass-market comedies that disappointed critics but made money for major studios. They included The Beverly Hillbillies (1993), The Little Rascals (1994), Black Sheep (1996) and Senseless (1998). The next opportunities for artistic redemption came from the 2001 Ozzfest rockumentary, We Sold Our Souls for Rock ’n’ Roll, which got lost in squabbles over music licensing rights, and the 2003  docudrama, The Crooked E: The Unshredded Truth About Enron. Sadly, Spheeris’s last directing credit came in 2012, for Lifetime’s The Real St. Nick. Few women filmmakers can make a better case against undisguised sexism in Hollywood and the glass ceiling than Spheeris, who, for what it’s worth, is a first cousin to Costa-Gavras (Z). In the meantime, she’s spent time being honored at film festivals and promoting the various re-releases and re-packagings of “Decline” and Suburbia.

Barely out of his teens, Charlie Sheen was fresh off John Milius’ Red Dawn (1984) when he was paired with Maxwell Caulfield in The Boys Next Door (1985). The slightly older Brit had been seen in the plum role of Michael in Grease 2 (1982), but his breakthrough was thwarted when the sequel laid a gigantic egg. They star as high-school outcasts, Bo and Roy, who, on the night of their graduation, crash a party to which they specifically weren’t invited. This is primarily because they’re from the wrong side of their suburb’s economic tracks and tended to act like baboons in polite company. After making drunken fools of themselves, the two wild and crazy guys steal the hostess’ tiny pet dog and head to Los Angeles in a gray-primer muscle car for some kicks. Now, try to imagine Beavis and Butt-head somehow being able to graduate, after beefing themselves up in the weight room, forsaking their AC/DC and Metallica T-shirts, and trading their short-shorts in for blue jeans and Doc Martens. You’ll have a pretty good idea of who Bo and Roy resemble before reaching Los Angeles, where the look went out of style with Rebel Without a Cause. It isn’t until the boyos stop to swindle $6 worth of gas from an Arab gas-station attendant that we begin to see where The Boys Next Door is heading. When Bo challenges the clerk’s ability to distinguish a pair of dollar bills from a fiver and a single, Roy breaks the window to the booth, pulls the poor guy through the shards and, with his friend’s assistance, beats him to a pulp. They head for Venice Beach, where they bounce a bottle off the head of an elderly woman watching street performers. That pretty much ends any hope they had of hooking up with a beach bunny. They find their way to Hollywood Boulevard, where Bo gets his first look at punk girls on the stroll – “they’re anarchists … they’ll do anything,” he exclaims – but, not surprisingly, they’re emphatically rejected once again. If viewers sensed a homoerotic attraction between the two young men, it becomes more obvious when they inadvertently take shelter in a gay bar down the hill and Roy gets into another fight. This time, though, he allows himself to be picked up by an outgoing customer and taken to his apartment. When the guy mistakes a grasp for an advance, Roy attacks him. By this time, Bo has figured out that his BFF might well take him down with him. Their next stop, at the home of a hippie chick (Patti D’Arbanville) interested in Bo’s aura seals it. After watching them cavort on a couch, Roy takes out his jealousy on poor Angie, who, he fears, has stolen his man from him. The final set piece takes place in a shopping mall that’s closed for the night and empty, except for the security guards and police who are hot on the guys’ trail.

Before the movie begins in earnest, Spheeris telegraphs her underlying theme in a daring conceit. It involves displaying photographs of the most infamous serial killers of the second half of the 20th Century, with short comments about the origins of their pathology. It appears as if Roy simply woke up on the morning of graduation and realized that he no longer could control his murderous inclinations and, worse, had no interest in doing so. As his only real friend, Bo goes along for the ride, occasionally joining in or egging Roy on. By the time Bo realizes that his complicity could land him in prison, it’s too late. There’s no question that Spheeris’ sympathies lie with the women and gay men who cross paths with the criminals, but she also provides Bo several opportunities to avoid really hard time. It isn’t difficult to see how distributors might have had trouble placing The Boys Next Door, which plays more to arthouse audiences than frequenters of grindhouses and drive-ins. There’s no nudity and the only sex scene serves as a preface to violence. Even so, Spheeris recalls having to make 10 passes through the MPAA board to get an R-rating. It features music by Iggy Pop, Tex & the Horseheads, and the Cramps. The Severin Blu-ray benefits from a 4K scan of the original negative; commentary with Spheeris and Caulfield; interviews with Stephen Thrower, author of “Nightmare USA,” actors Caulfield and Christopher McDonald, Street Band performers Texacala Jones and Tequila Mockingbird, and a Cinemaniacs’ chat with Spheeris and Caulfield, and actor Kenneth Cortland; a tour of original locations; an alternate opening and title sequence; and extended scenes

The Fan: Blu-ray
Despite the fact that Ed Bianchi’s stalker/thriller, The Fan, was released four years after Bob Randall’s 1977 source novel of the same title, it was accused of exploiting the murder of John Lennon, the stalking of actress Jodie Foster and subsequent assassination attempt against President Reagan, by delusional fan John Hinckley Jr. Also fresh in critics’ minds were attempts against President Ford, the first by Lynette “Squeaky” Fromm, a devotee of Charles Manson, and Sara Jane Moore, an admirer of Patty Hearst and onetime FBI informant. In 1982, public awareness of stalking was raised once again after rising star Theresa Saldana (Raging Bull) survived a murder attempt by a demented fan. On August 14, 1980, 20-year-old actress and 1980 Playboy Playmate of the Year Dorothy Stratten was murdered by her estranged husband/manager Paul Snider, who committed suicide on the same day. On May 13, 1981, Pope John Paul II was shot and critically wounded by Mehmet Ali Ağca, who was a member of the militant fascist group Grey Wolves. Richard Brooks’ Looking for Mr. Goodbar (1977), William Friedkin’s Cruising (1980) and Brian De Palma’s Dressed to Kill (1980) all featured graphic depictions of violence against young women and gay men. Likewise, The Fan alludes to the antagonist’s sexual dysfunctionality as a possible cause for his increasingly violent urges. (Looking for Mr. Goodbar remains unavailable on DVD, while a restored edition of Cruising was only recently released on Blu-ray.) In 1982, Martin’s Scorsese’s The King of Comedy was produced on a substantially larger budget, received many more favorable reviews and grabbed the attention of the media, who were drawn to the pairing of Robert DeNiro and Jerry Lewis. It made even less money at the box-office than The Fan. Young people today might find it difficult to believe that it wasn’t until the July 18, 1989, murder of another aspiring star, Rebecca Schaeffer (Radio Days), that California lawmakers felt it necessary to pass America’s first anti-stalking laws and, four years later, legislation forbidding the DMV from releasing such personal information as private addresses to the public. The Internet has made it much easier for obsessive fans to locate and track celebrities, if not evade existing laws.

Randall built his novel on an “epistolary” foundation, consisting of various letters between several of the book’s characters. In the film  version, the letters sent to aging star Sally Ross (Lauren Bacall) by obsessive fan Douglas Breen (Michael Biehn) are, at first, merely troubling. (“Dear Miss Ross … Your happiness and peace of mind must be protected. I know of all the famous men in your life, but I adore you as no other ever has or ever will. Thank you for the inspiration you have given me. You are the greatest star of all.”) The letters are intercepted by Ross’ assistant, Belle Goldman (Maureen Stapleton), whose job it is to serve as Ross’ filter. When Belle ignores his demands for more intimate correspondence, Douglas takes it as a personal affront. The bloodletting begins when he figures out that his letters aren’t being handed over to the star, who’s in rehearsals for her Broadway-musical debut, he takes it out on Belle. Then, he exacts his growing jealousy and rage on anyone else he believes is preventing him from hooking up with Ross. Curiously, that doesn’t include her former ex-husband and confidante, Jake Berman (James Garner), who’s making a movie in New York. One death leads to another and the final encounter takes place backstage, after Opening Night. Upon its release, Bacall quickly made it known that the movie she signed up to do and the finished product were two different things. Likewise, replacement director Bianchi was unhappy by producer Robert Stigwood’s revisions in the original screenplay and demands for more exploitative material. Obviously, this didn’t sit well with audiences who expected Bacall to make her return to the big screen in something that fit her classy persona. In the interviews included in the Blu-ray package here, her unhappiness is duly noted by Bianchi and Biehn, who, in no uncertain terms, also describe her mood as infectiously negative. (Such disses rarely make the cut in the interviews included in the supplemental material.) And, while critics tended to agree that the violence made The Fan distasteful, they also praised Bianchi’s staging of the rehearsals and presentation of the musical’s set pieces for their realism and attention to Broadway norms. The chemistry between Bacall and Garner, who’d worked together several times previously, also was appreciated. That was about it, however. The new featurettes include interviews with Biehn, Bianchi, editor Alan Heim and commentary with cult-film director David DeCoteau (My Mother’s Stalker) and film historian David Del Valle. In case you’re wondering, this adaptation of “The Fan” is only thematically related to Tony Scott’s The Fan (1996), Rob Reiner’s Misery (1990), Eckhart Schmidt’s The Fan (1982), Robert Siegel’s Big Fan (2009), Maneesh Sharma’s Fan (2016) Fred Durst’s The Fanatic (2019), Lee Frost’s Private Obsession (1995), Mahesh Bhatt’s Dastak (1996) or Satoshi Kon’s delightful anime, Perfect Blue (1997).

Angel Has Fallen: Blu-ray/4K UHD
What if someone kidnapped the current President and no one in Washington cared enough about his absence to meet the abductors’ demands for his release. The government is getting along just fine without him at the helm and Republicans can win undecided votes by blaming the crisis on the Democrats. If POTUS were to be released on the eve of the general elections,  it probably would because a crowdfunding campaign failed and he’d become too much of a burden on the kidnapers, as was the case in “The Ransom of Red Chief.” If nothing else, it would save taxpayers the cost and impracticality of an impeachment trial. I doubt that such a thing might happen before the 2020 elections, if only because Vice President Mike Pence couldn’t carry Gerald Ford’s jockstrap and his elevation could cause a real constitutional crisis. It would be better to simply ignore him. Even so, such a comic narrative might be able to keep the “Has Fallen” franchise from straight-to-video purgatory. Like Olympus Has Fallen (2013) and London Has Fallen (2016), Angel Has Fallen has made money for its investors, albeit on a far tighter production budget and lowered expectations. Gerard Butler, who plays ace Secret Service agent Mike Banning, has said that he’s willing to stick around for a couple more sequels or TV projects. At 82, Morgan Freeman (a.k.a., President Trumbull) looks spry enough to try for a third term, but such legalities might stretch credulity to the limits. Here, Trumbull is on a fishing vacation when his party is attacked by a swarm of drones that are as impressively navigable as the Blue Angels or Thunderbirds. It’s the only really fresh scene in Angel Has Fallen, which does benefit, as well, from typically well-choreographed fights and chases. The Blu-ray adds an introduction by Butler; the featurettes, “Even Heroes Fall: The Story,” “Someone to Watch Over Me: New Blood”; “Calling All Angels: Casting,” “True Faith: Authenticity,” “Fights for You: Stunts and Action,” “Earth Angel: Recreating DC” and “Angel Declassified.”

Papi Chulo
I had to call up the Urban Dictionary website to figure what the title, Papi Chulo, means in Spanish and English. The definitions range from “handsome daddy,” to “Mac daddy” and a “witty, attractive, charming confident man.” None of them pertain to anyone in the movie, whose protagonists aren’t particularly buff or sexy. This isn’t to say that Matt Bomer, who publicly came out as gay in 2012 – a year after he married Simon Halls and formed a family unit — isn’t anything less than traditionally handsome or desirable. In Papi Chulo, however, Bomer’s character is an emotional wreck, whose depression would be an insurmountable obstacle in any relationship. Sean is a popular weathercaster on a Los Angeles station when his lover disappears, and he experiences an on-screen nervous breakdown. The station manager demands that he take some time away from the job and not return until he’s ready. Sean kills time by working around his hillside home and fixing things that had been neglected. One day, he decides to hire one of the men who hang out a local hardware store, looking for temporary employment. After picking out Ernesto (Alejandro Patiño), a middle-aged day laborer old enough to be a grandfather, they drive up the hill for a few hours of sanding and painting. Then, Sean surprises Ernesto by calling a timeout and asking him to join him on a field trip to MacArthur Park, where he reluctantly joins the younger man in a rowboat ride … but only if he does the rowing. The next day, Sean insists they go on a strenuous hike through Griffith Park. When they encounter one of Sean’s gay friends, it becomes obvious to Ernesto that he’s gay. The thing is, though, Sean’s interaction with his new employee/friend is almost comically matter-of-fact, as if homophobia had ceased to exist and Ernesto – who can barely speak English – is cool with everything the younger man suggests. Ernesto even agrees to attend an all-male birthday party … as long as he collects $200 on the way home. This idyllic situation can’t last forever, of course, and Sean’s thrown for loop when he returns to the station and his boss tells him to go home for more rest. Things will get worse before they get better. Besides some casual kisses and hugs among Sean’s pals, director John Butler (Handsome Devil) manages to keep things chaste and without Ernesto having to defend himself from unwanted attention or the homophobic rage of friends and family members. The comedy and drama are never forced or gratuitous, and the sad moments don’t last very long. Papi Chulo is an extremely pleasant surprise and a terrific addition to the rapidly expanding LGBTQ repertoire.

She’s Just A Shadow
It’s impossible to comprehensibly describe Adam Sherman’s latest target for the critical community’s vitriolic criticism, without feeling as if I’ll need a shower, after hitting the “close” button. At Metacritic.com, his three features — She’s Just a Shadow (2019), Crazy Eyes (2012) and Happiness Runs (2010) – have scored 12, 24 and 31, respectively … that’s out of a possible score of 100. A fourth, video feature, the horror/comedy, Dead Doll (2004), didn’t fare much better on niche sites. To be fair, however, a few of his producer-only credits — Wristcutters: A Love Story (2006), Marfa Girl (2012), Marfa Girl 2 (2018) – received more serious consideration, if only because they were directed by Goran Dukic and Larry Clark. I didn’t know any of that before slipping She’s Just a Shadow into my machine. Set in Tokyo, it tells several unnerving stories at once. One of them involves the employees of a brothel, who dress up like pixies and fairies for the amusement of themselves and their clients. They remain buoyant with the help of enormous quantities of cocaine, even as a serial killer is stalking working girls, tying them onto railroad tracks, masturbating on them and filming them as they are killed. They work for a matriarchal crime family that’s engaged in a vicious turf war. Anyone who knows the woman considers her to be the next of kin of Lucretia Borgia, with the pharmaceutical skills to match. The men in the family have a rudimentary knowledge of the martial arts … just enough to hold their own in a bar fight and kick the crap out of a wheelchair-bound invalid and her dog. Any humor here derives from the garishly psychedelic sets and the prostitutes’ blithe attitudes toward nudity, sex and cosplay. On the other hand, the violence against women is repellent to the max; the amount of fake blood spilled and gushed could keep the slasher subgenre in business for a year; the railroad-track horrors take place off-screen, but they can be easily imagined; and no amount of faux vomit is spared. Eventually, the combined effects of the violence, sex and gore do tend to have the same effect as binging on junk food, hard-core pornography and professional wrestling. Apparently, Sherman believes that binging is a way to “fill the void caused by a vague sense of one’s own mortality.” If none of that turns your stomach, She’s Just a Shadow just might be your cup of tea. Keep it away from the kiddies after Thanksgiving dinner, though. The DVD adds behind-the-scenes footage, cast and crew interviews, and footage from the Los Angeles red-carpet premier.

Dear Walmart
The lead-up to Christmas wouldn’t be complete without a few concrete reminders of the holiday’s true meaning and reason for existing: the bestowing of gifts on children, friends, doormen, teachers and relatives, who can’t tell the difference between the gifts of the Magi and the latest editions of PlayStation and iPhones. The great thing about Black Friday isn’t that sales in its name now begin after Halloween confections are pulled off the shelves and put on sale, but how Thanksgiving weekend now covers four of the seven deadly sins: greed, lust, envy and gluttony. The same applies to the businesses that encourage customers to feed their longings ahead of the one day of the year they go to church … unless one counts Easter, which promotes a different form of gluttony. If only those same businesses didn’t treat their employees in the same manner as Ebenezer Scrooge treated Bob Cratchit. If the Ghost of Christmases Yet to Come plans to make a return visit to Earth on Christmas Eve, 2019, he should consider shaking his chains at members of the Walton family, who have benefited the most from the holiday sales period and denying employees adequate wages and benefits. Dear Walmart is a film that documents how workers are getting the word on these deficiencies and unconscionable working conditions. It tells the intimate, behind-the-headlines stories of workers, who have joined a national grassroots movement that has been pushing back against disrespect, workplace hazards and poverty wages at the largest private employer in the world. It promotes in-store organizing and job actions, including Black Friday strikes, small group meetings, community outreach, national gatherings of workers and online conversations with thousands of employees. Walmart associates have been building a movement that has already compelled the retail giant to make changes. The film is being made available on DVD, streaming services and at screenings organized by interested parties. The same film could be made about companies whose holiday spirit is limited to their executives’ annual bonuses and Christmas parties for the  families of employees, whose children anxiously wait for Santa to give them the gifts their parents can’t afford to buy.

TV-to-DVD
Acorn: Taken Down: Series 1
Acorn: Line of Duty: Series 5
Although I recommend to fans of high-end English-language programming from the UK that they subscribe to AcornTV’s streaming service, there’s a large inventory of titles available on DVD, as well. Some are currently airing on PBS affiliates here, while others are cuing up to do so. Most, however, never will make the leap across the pond, due to the scarcity of outlets. BBC America rarely fulfills its original mission anymore and too many cable networks are committed to home-shopping channels, dangerous-critters, true-crime programming and religious hucksters. This week’s shipment from Acorn contained a pair of police-procedural mini-series that make me wonder how Dick Wolf’s “Law & Order” and “Chicago …” franchises might fare if, every so often, they played out in six-episode arcs, instead of hourlong one-offs … 45 minutes, or shorter, if you subtract commercials, credits and previews. As it is, “L&O” reruns are as prevalent as syndicated episodes of “I Love Lucy” used to be. The thing about them, though, is that, like “Lucy” and “Seinfeld,” they’re just as irresistible after seven viewings as they were on Premiere Week. That fantasy, aside, it’s easy for me to recommend “Taken Down: Series 1” and Season Five of “Line of Duty,” both of which play out over six episodes.

Employing an inside-out narrative, a crack team of Dublin police detectives investigate the murder of a teenage asylum seeker, from Nigeria, whose body is found at a bus stop near a temporary housing facility for asylum seekers. (It would make the unfortunate souls being contained on our border green with envy.) At first, the detectives in “Taken Down” look for suspects among the immigrant community. The residents are too frightened to give up much in the way of clues, primarily because they still owe money to their trafficker, who’s forced the women and girls into a prostitution operation run by white Dubliners. One of the women, Abeni Bankole (Aïssa Maïga) — the mother of two teenage sons she protects with her life – is too old to be of any real use as a prostitute, so she works off her debt  as a maid at the brothel. The detectives know that Abeni holds the keys to the investigation, which focuses on male guests at the bachelor party where Esme (Marlene Madenge) was last seen. The cops wearing white hats in “Taken Down” are, for once, primarily women, while the bad guys of both genders are bad to the bone. The tension is palpable throughout all six episodes. Interviews with cast and crew members are included. “Taken Down” has been renewed for a second season.

Before “Line of Duty” moved to its current home at BBC1, it was the most popular drama series broadcast on BBC2. Since then, it’s won the Royal Television Society Award and Broadcasting Press Guild Award for Best Drama Series, and has been included on lists of the top-50 BBC2 shows of all-time and the 80 best BBC1 shows. It’s the highest-ranked ongoing series in polls ranking the all-time best British police shows. It isn’t difficult to see why. Like “L&O,” the Belfast-set mini-series has featured a core group of actors — Adrian Dunbar, Martin Compston, Vicky McClure — with a brisk changeover in guest stars and key characters, including such well-known actors as Keeley Hawes, Polly Walker, Thandie Newton, Rochenda Sandall, Gina McKee and Kate Ashfield. Apparently, there’s a lot of bad-ass women in Belfast. In the fifth go-round, Anti-Corruption Unit 12 is tasked with finding the criminals responsible for the hijacking of a seized-drugs transport and murders of three policemen. They clearly were tipped by  “bent coppers” in league with John Corbett (Stephen Graham), the ruthless leader of an organized crime group. Corbett is actually an undercover cop, who’s gone rogue. He isn’t alone in that regard, either. Half the department seems to be aligned with the crooks, who, thanks to the leaks, have already profited greatly from their heists. Indeed, the stench of corruption rises to the top offices of AC-12. Once again, the intrigue is sustained through all six episodes.

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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