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David Poland

By David Poland poland@moviecitynews.com

Huh? The Rest Of NYT's Oddly Brief Story On The Phil Spector Doc

I was reading John Anderson’s story on Vikram Jayanti’s brilliant The Agony & The Ecstasy of Phil Spector, which I loved 18 months ago at IDFA, then wrote about last April after it appeared on BBC2, and the piece was moving along, telling a story about how tightly Spector controlled his library, then…
“The film employs a greatest-hits collection of 21 Spector songs, played or performed in their entirety. And it does so without having obtained Mr. Spector

12 Responses to “Huh? The Rest Of NYT's Oddly Brief Story On The Phil Spector Doc”

  1. karina says:

    I had the same reaction reading the story online, and then I scrolled down and saw this in the finest possible print at the bottom of the page:
    “A version of this article appeared in print on June 27, 2010, on page AR12 of the New York edition.”
    Does that mean the story was longer in print?

  2. tholymabe says:

    Yes Karina, read it a long time ago when Ray Pride tweeted it and put it on the home page. If I could get my print subscription to sync with my TimesSelect, I might be able to cut and paste the rest. David, David, David.

  3. Bob Violence says:

    Not to get all anal-retentive, but the (brilliant) Thom Andersen doc was called Los Angeles Plays Itself and should be referred to as such, given Andersen’s open distaste for the “LA” moniker. Plus LA Plays Itself is a ’70s porn film.

  4. David Poland says:

    Not sure why a print version would be longer than a web version. Counter-intuitive. But anything is possible.
    I, too, found the story because of Ray’s link on our front page.

  5. john says:

    Nimrods: Yes, the story was longer in print — replete with Vikram and a whole bunch of other people (you remember sourced journalism, right?) I think the times site also suggests that a subsciption is necessary for the full on-line version. That means paying for people’s work — another foreign concept, I am sure.

  6. tholymabe says:

    David is so easily mistaken, he read the accidental version and ACTUALLY or CONVENIENTLY thought it was a full NYT article, and then asked around for hours — ah, inquiry and jealousy make bad bed fellows.

  7. tholymabe says:

    Dave, did you read the full article yet? Are you going to comment on what a great or terrible piece of journalism it is anytime in the near future?

  8. David Poland says:

    Where can I see it, tholymabe?
    “The accidental version?”
    I am now responsible for publishing the New York Times?
    And, angry braintrust, I was one of the customers who paid for TimesSelect… and pay now for WSJ online. There is no wall at NYT. If this was a partial story, it is a screw up by the NYT and not by its readers.
    And I didn’t accuse Anderson of bad journalism. The piece, as it ran, didn’t make much sense… it was half (or less of) a story.
    I’ll be happy to apologize to John Anderson if it turns out that the paper he was freelancing for screwed up the online version of his story. If there was any indication of NYT limiting its online version of its stories, I would have considered that. But there is no such history… until this…

  9. tholymabe says:

    Of course the NYT link was screwed up, but it’s not anymore. What’s screwy is that you couldn’t tell, as if you just started reading the NYT that day. Take some responsibility for your mistake.

  10. tholymabe says:

    And besides, do you have so little faith in your homepage editor, Ray Pride, that he’d link to a story that, at the time he linked to it, wasn’t in it’s full version? Even if you can’t tell a truncated NYT piece from it’s full one, you know Ray Pride can, nimrod.

  11. David Poland says:

    Let me just be clear, angry man.
    NYT does something that it does not normally do… truncate a story online.
    And I am supposed to research this or I am a putz?
    Just want to be clear… this was my fault, 100%, right? Or is it 50% me and 50% Ray?
    Cause Ray didn’t quite understand what the problem was either. And NYT didn’t fix it a day or two later. And the film’s distribution team (outside of Manhattan) didn’t understand that this was a truncated story either.
    I am perfectly fine acknowledging that, yes, there seemed to be a full story there. But I am pretty sure that NYT truncating stories is not something I have encountered there since the pay wall came down… and there was no indication of it on the page, as the page number for the paper does not include “see the complete piece in the paper… this is just a couple of graphs.”
    Mostly, however, I am fascinated by how seriously you are taking this. Me? I was just trying to clarify the situation with the movie to the rest of the country that doesn’t get the NYT on paper each day… since, you know, they are working with virtually no budget and trying to get the word out as the movie starts to play in non-profits across the nation. Sorry for that.
    And my interview with vikram will be up soon… in which he makes clear that he has never gotten a single inkling of Spector being upset or threatening the film and that Spector offered – twice – all the music for free. But yeah… nothing signed after Vikram was enjoined from speaking to Spector.
    Seems that is in the Anderson story, now up.
    “Thus the film could become the latest flashpoint in the debate over what

  12. tholymabe says:

    Let me be clear, Dave, truncating stories online is not something the NYT does, that’s why with all your prowess in reading the NYT that you put on display here in The Hot (sometimes Hot Air) Blog, when you saw the article in that design format, you should have reasonably been able to surmise it was a technical glitch right away. You’ll take cover that it’s not reasonable, but I contend it is, so since you offered asshole, can we include blind or blinded?
    And, don’t twist it to put blame on Ray, I read the article, in its entirety, off his linkage. He doesn’t know what error occurred any more than the NYT does.
    Publicity for the movie is, of course, everyone’s aim. It’s because of your whining about the article that the problem was fixed by the NYT’s SVP of Digital Op’s office. So I’m sure, in that sense, John can be happy to be of more assistance in getting word out about the doc. Have a happy 4th.

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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