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David Poland

By David Poland

Welcome, Luddites!

So now the two biggest internet bashers in entertainment journalism, Patrick Goldstein and Peter Bart, are bloggers. All I can say is

7 Responses to “Welcome, Luddites!”

  1. Crow T Robot says:

    If you can tap dance around embargoes,
    when you’re told not to that night by screening honchos,
    If you can pick the Oscars eight months out
    while everyone’s calling you an obnoxious lout,
    If you can win a word war with a adolescent geek
    who gets under your skin by calling you “homo-freak,”
    If you scoff at weekend box office numbers on one day
    but have charts and graphs on Friday, Saturday and Sunday…
    Then yours is the Internet and everything that’s in it,
    And, which is more, you’ll be a Blogger, my son!

  2. That is genius. Crow, if you wrote that, you too, are genius.

  3. David Poland says:

    Genius… maybe. But his words are, in effect, doing exactly what he is smacking at. Dumbing it all down.

  4. jeffmcm says:

    I’d say his form and content are in agreement with each other.

  5. LexG says:

    I asked this at Elsewhere too to no avail, it’s only mildly related:
    Did Newsweek officially cut movie reviews and Ansen down to ONLINE ONLY? I get the magazine, and if there’s been more than three film reviews in there in the last six months, I’ve surely just missed it. It’s like they cut out the “Cinema” section altogether. So I go to their site today, and lo and behold, Ansen’s been reviewing shit all along, just none of it makes the page. Was there an official reasoning for this?
    On topic:
    I like Goldstein, btw, and wish that old grump Turan were hep enough to start a blog. Imagine that- a TURAN BLOG, where one could respond in a comments section about his every tired, grumpy, bored, squeamish, old-school, unsurprising, A-list-sucking-up, self-copying review.
    Anyway, Goldstein’s “comments” section is indeed too vague and generic, and won’t attract a lot of sensible industry voices or witty regulars… just the hoi polloi in the most faceless, IMDB/Yahoo kinda way.

  6. tholl-yung says:

    Gee Lex, you don’t normally sleep at the wheel. You don’t need to actually retain this info, you can google it: ansen newsweek buyout — you could even do it without “buyout” since that requires info. I like you Lex. Dave really hits some jazzy notes here. Wondering if he’ll do a piece on exhibitors… those ShoWest guys… those hanger on-ers… those fat cats.

  7. T. Holly says:

    Didn’t mean to confuse you; I don’t know where yung comes from.

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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