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David Poland

By David Poland

Heckuva Town

Good afternoon…
Running around NY has superseded finding a wi-fi signal, but thanks to the iPhone, here are a couple of items…
I was shocked to read a bit of bias spin as a front page story of the NYT today. The game was to position the sexism spin of the Clinton campaign, a rather desperate and vile piece of strategy that The Clintons used to try to w/sp-in the election their way months after having known they could never catch up with Obama short of a collapse or felony by that side. Like so many Clinton games, there seems little interest in the ugly afterbirth of the political spin.
What really struck me about this piece, written by 2 women who had done strong work during the campaign, including a March look at the media pushing back against Obama after SNL making “give Barack a pillow” life as swallowed Clinton spin, was that it played two distinct games. First, it made the media defend itself as though they were the only ones who felt they had been fair. This always makes the side self-defending look bad. And second, they somehow “forgot” the Pew/Harvard study that all put said that the bias was mythology. Instead they found a study by a George Mason professor of unknown methodology or legitmacy. Boo.
Then, the great Manohla, who I do think is great, spent the first graph and a half suggesting that the negative reviews of The Happening were based on predisposition, not the movie.
I, for one, was hoping that this film would be good or great. Yes, there are brickbats a’ready. And some would be unleashed whatever the film was. But the notion that this was a strong performance by Mark Wahlberg, an actor who has become amazngly reliable and likeable, is about as tone-deaf a call as I have heard from this esteemed colleague.
The Happening would be a perfectly fine 30 minute episode. But it is stretched into a terrible film with out and out bad performances from actors as charismatic as Wahlberg, Leguizamo, and Deschanel.
Sad about Tim Russert and amazed it’s been 18 years at Meet The Press. (The same reporter at NYT who co-wrote the Hillary piece this morning contributed to the breaking story and added a shot at Russert as being too outspoken on Hillary. It would be unkind and inaccurate to keep selling that smear as accurately reflective of his history.)
Anyway, I will get to the computer soon. For now, I remain waiting on line for Hamlet in Cental Park. Oh this too, too line-waiting flesh….

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3 Responses to “Heckuva Town”

  1. bmcintire says:

    Wow, Dave. You nailed it on THE HAPPENING. That was one of the most uncomfortable sits I’ve had in a long time. Sadly, there were only a few scattered giggles, but no out-and-out laughs. I am guessing this was because there were so few people in the theater. Apart from the horrible dialogue, questionable casting, lack of any real suspense and (SPOILER, I guess) inclusion of almost every on-screen suicide scene in the trailers, WTF was up with all the close-ups!?!
    As for Manhola Darghis, her best line in the review: “. . .Ms. Deschanel, who looks mighty surprised to be in this movie. . .” I still can’t believe she gave this thing a pass.

  2. Tofu says:

    What the hell was up with the Anti-Society, Anti-Scientific Theory bent to The Happening? Night was aiming to work off some type of global warming / terrorists fears here, and so he attacks… The NorthEast and then France. Is this just about playing to one audience or something else?
    Whalberg playing a science teacher that says “we’ll never know” to his class was the scariest part of the whole movie.

  3. IOIOIOI says:

    Tofu, I would like to think that M. Night is out of his gord. This would explain how he came up with ////// attacking the Northeast, but they just do not attack the Northeast.
    No, these scumbag …… , force everyone to commit suicide in rather graphic in horrific ways. That’s right: THEY FORCE PEOPLE TO OFF THEMSELVES BY RATHER R-RATED WAYS! M. Night was just not happy with a Coke Machine killing kids in Maximum Overdrive. No, this loon, had to have these scumbag ****** FORCE SUICIDE ON PEOPLE!
    These are some serious shemanigans (the next step above shenanigans) on Night’s part. I hope with the Avatar films. He gets his senses about him again, and does not have the fucking AIR KILL PEOPLE IN THAT FILM! BECAUSE NICOLODEON WOULD BE PISSED!

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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