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David Poland

By David Poland poland@moviecitynews.com

Too Hard?

I have now heard from a number of people who felt last Friday’s Hot Button was “a personal attack” on Gerry Rich and too harsh about his past and future.
I need some slightly less vested opinions. Please tell me your thoughts. Don’t feel obligated to sound off if you don’t have a sense of perspective on the story.
I acknowledge that Rich has had four #1 openings in twelve openings at Paramount and that Sahara was an especially strong achievement (even if they cribbed National Treasure). I also acknowledge that some of the strongest candidates for the job he eventually took have been taken off the field as potential near-future hires, by Paramount or anyone else, so the comparative threat has lightened.
That said… what say you?

12 Responses to “Too Hard?”

  1. Martin says:

    who gives a fuckin shit about Gerry Rich. Sounds like an asshole to me.

  2. bakednudel says:

    I’m one of those who reads you for the movie reviews, etc. When you write about the business, I have no idea what or whom you’re talking about.
    I wonder if I’m the only one.
    Your Friday column was one of the ones I skimmed because I really did have no idea what you were talking about.

  3. bicycle bob says:

    please don’t tell us ur going to be pulling ur punches dave.

  4. Martin says:

    it’s like inside baseball here, maybe 10 people recognize who DP is talking about.

  5. Terence D says:

    I didn’t know who he was talking about but since he wrote about I learned who it was. Keep it up David and do not worry about what people think.

  6. Joe Leydon says:

    Have to agree with TD on this one, and go one step further: Like it or not, it’s these behind the scenes people who decide what we get to see, and whether we’re adequately informed and/or alerted about it. Ultimately, somebody like a Gerry Rich (or his counterparts at other studios) has more long-term effect on U.S. pop culture — nah, make that GLOBAL pop culture — on a week-in, week-out basis than a dozen film critics or a university’s worth of Phds.

  7. bicycle bob says:

    dave really why would u censor what u write? ur a journalist. independent one. who writes what he feels and wants people to know and what interests u. keep it up

  8. Dan R% says:

    I didn’t see anything wrong with what was written. You’re just calling it as you see it. Like Martin said some of us are learning about people we never knew of and how it all works. It’s cool to know.

  9. Mark says:

    Why don’t you post their responses to what you wrote? We’ll be the jury.

  10. Zube says:

    Why is it that i cannot get to the linked hot button article?

  11. Filmmakers beware of Mike Broder and Small Planet Pictures. They have been in breach of contract Ie they havent paid for the film Rockets Redglare and have ignored their contractual obligations since November of 2004. Small Planet Pictures are financed in part by Palasades Pictures. Mike Broder is a THIEF.

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This is probably going to sound petty, but Martin Scorsese insisting that critics see his film in theaters even though it’s going straight to Netflix and then not screening it in most American cities was a watershed moment for me in this theatrical versus streaming debate.

I completely respect when a filmmaker insists that their movie is meant to be seen in the theater, but the thing is, you got to actually make it possible to see it in the theater. Some movies may be too small for that, and that’s totally OK.

When your movie is largely financed by a streaming service and is going to appear on that streaming service instantly, I don’t really see the point of pretending that it’s a theatrical film. It just seems like we are needlessly indulging some kind of personal fantasy.

I don’t think that making a feature film length production that is going to go straight to a video platform is some sort of “step down.“ I really don’t. Theatrical exhibition as we know it is dying off anyway, for a variety of reasons.

I should clarify myself because this thread is already being misconstrued — I’m talking about how the movie is screened in advance. If it’s going straight to Netflix, why the ritual of demanding people see it in the theater?

There used to be a category that everyone recognized called “TV movie” or “made for television movie” and even though a lot of filmmakers considered that déclassé, it seems to me that probably 90% of feature films fit that description now.

Atlantis has mostly sunk into the ocean, only a few tower spires remain above the waterline, and I’m increasingly at peace with that, because it seems to be what the industry and much of the audience wants. We live in an age of convenience and information control.

Only a very elite group of filmmakers is still allowed to make movies “for theaters“ and actually have them seen and judged that way on a wide scale. Even platform releasing seems to be somewhat endangered. It can’t be fought. It has to be accepted.

9. Addendum: I’ve been informed that it wasn’t Scorsese who requested that the Bob Dylan documentary only be screened for critics in theaters, but a Netflix representative indicated the opposite to me, so I just don’t know what to believe.

It’s actually OK if your film is not eligible for an Oscar — we have a thing called the Emmys. A lot of this anxiety is just a holdover from the days when television was considered culturally inferior to theatrical feature films. Everybody needs to just get over it.

In another 10 to 20 years they’re probably going to merge the Emmys in the Oscars into one program anyway, maybe they’ll call it the Contentys.

“One of the fun things about seeing the new Quentin Tarantino film three months early in Cannes (did I mention this?) is that I know exactly why it’s going to make some people furious, and thus I have time to steel myself for the takes.

Back in July 2017, when it was revealed that Tarantino’s next project was connected to the Manson Family murders, it was condemned in some quarters as an insulting and exploitative stunt. We usually require at least a fig-leaf of compassion for the victims in true-crime adaptations, and even Tarantino partisans like myself – I don’t think he’s made a bad film yet – found ourselves wondering how he might square his more outré stylistic impulses with the depiction of a real mass murder in which five people and one unborn child lost their lives.

After all, it’s one thing to slice off with gusto a fictional policeman’s ear; it’s quite another to linger over the gory details of a massacre that took place within living memory, and which still carries a dread historical significance.

In her essay The White Album, Joan Didion wrote: “Many people I know in Los Angeles believe that the Sixties ended abruptly on August 9, 1969, ended at the exact moment when word of the murders on Cielo Drive traveled like brushfire through the community, and in a sense this is true.”

Early in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, as Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt’s characters drive up the hill towards Leo’s bachelor pad, the camera cranes up gently to reveal a street sign: Cielo Drive. Tarantino understands how charged that name is; he can hear the Molotov cocktails clinking as he shoulders the crate.

As you may have read in the reviews from Cannes, much of the film is taken up with following DiCaprio and Pitt’s characters – a fading TV actor and his long-serving stunt double – as they amusingly go about their lives in Los Angeles, while Margot Robbie’s Sharon Tate is a relatively minor presence. But the spectre of the murders is just over the horizon, and when the night of the 9th finally arrives, you feel the mood in the cinema shift.

No spoilers whatsoever about what transpires on screen. But in the audience, as it became clear how Tarantino was going to handle this extraordinarily loaded moment, the room soured and split, like a pan of cream left too long on the hob. I craned in, amazed, but felt the person beside me recoil in either dismay or disgust.

Two weeks on, I’m convinced that the scene is the boldest and most graphically violent of Tarantino’s career – I had to shield my eyes at one point, found myself involuntarily groaning “oh no” at another – and a dead cert for the most controversial. People will be outraged by it, and with good reason. But in a strange and brilliant way, it takes Didion’s death-of-the-Sixties observation and pushes it through a hellfire-hot catharsis.

Hollywood summoned up this horror, the film seems to be saying, and now it’s Hollywood’s turn to exorcise it. I can’t wait until the release in August, when we can finally talk about why.

~ Robbie Collin