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David Poland

By David Poland

DRIVE Lawsuit 2: A Critic & A Lawyer Walk Into A Bar…

Yesterday, Michigan attorney Martin H. Leaf, who is representing Sarah Deming in her lawsuit against Film District and the movie Drive, turned up on the blog to further argue his case. (I’ve contacted Mr Leaf and confirmed his identity.)

Here is the actual filing (pdf) and the part of the Michigan Consumer Protection Act that speaks to their claim about misleading movie advertising being actionable.

So, I have read the material a few times. And I still don’t buy the connections that have been made between the trailer and/or the film and the claims against Film District. There are just too many conclusions that are staking out an extreme position on the materials that is wildly subjective.

You know… like a film critic.

And that’s what I like about the argument. I don’t think it belongs in a court of law and if there is a case to be made for making Deming pay Film District for their legal costs for filing a frivolous lawsuit, I would support it. But even though I disagree with the argument, I would be happy to spend a few hours in a bar booth arguing the claims in this suit as a matter of film criticism.

Is the argument offensive to Nicolas Winding Refn? I imagine so. I doubt Film District’s lawyers would allow him to say so in public right now. But this is a man who is quoted as saying in response to Lars von Trier’s “I am a Nazi” schtick at Cannes, “What Lars said was just very, very mean. Coming from a Jewish family myself, it saddened me that someone would say something like that without thinking what it means to so many people.”

Is the argument offensive to Iranian-born Hossein Amini? I imagine so. There is no history in his work of anti-Semitism of any kind. He may be Jewish as well, though I have not been able to confirm that. But many Iranians in exile are.

Does the argument fail to take into account that the novel, by James Sallis, is the origin of the two Jewish hoods in the film, including the choice that Nino was once named Izzy? Yeah.

And with due respect to the plaintiff in this case, if you look at the trailer for Drive and think it’s selling a movie like The Fast & The Furious, you have to be a an idiot. I don’t think she’s an idiot. I think she went to see an arthouse movie, The Debt, and saw a trailer for Drive – which is loaded with moody music, intimate violence, and even threatening speeches from the obviously Jewish Albert Brooks – and went to the movie… and got SHOCKED by the Jewish bad guys, especially after seeing the trailer on a movie about arguably heroic Jews. Then, she and Mr. Leaf looked at the issue from a legal perspective and came up with the best argument they could make without much to work with.

The issue of the alleged Jew-hating and the issue of false advertising really have no cohesive relationship. The religion of the “bad guys” in the film is clearly not the central theme of the film, which is to say, Drive is not a movie about Jews who cheat and kill others. It is a traditional thriller in concept and a stylized version of that tradition in form. And, in fact, if you read many of the critics who were not as effusive about the film, the primary theme is that the work here is quite familiar, a current spin on stylized 80s thrillers from directors like Michael Mann and WIlliam Friedkin. (Perhaps it’s time to go back to litigate To Live & Die In LA and discuss why Willem Defoe, who has played many Jewish characters in films, is the bad guy there… obsessed with money and shiksas. Hmmmm….)

The lawsuit claim says, “Despite said advertising and promotion by Defendants, DRIVE was an extremely graphically violent film.” So apparently, the plaintiff didn’t bother to read the rating board’s warning, “Rated R for strong brutal bloody violence, language and some nudity.”

I don’t know if the plaintiff saw the red band trailer, though she might well have, given that she saw in before The Debt, another R-rated movie that includes, according to “man runs in front of 18-wheeler to commit suicide with graphic footage of his body crushed by the wheels of the truck… man violently slams woman in face and throws her against wall then kicks her bloody face… images of the Holocaust includes medical experimentation on women and children, woman stabs man with needle and restrains him with her legs around his neck during gynecological exam… woman slaps man, man violently stabs woman with medical scissors, and she stabs him in leg, with lots of blood…” (Here’s the link to that film’s trailer.)

Is any of that offered in the trailer? There is a hint about the gynecological exam sequence, but aside from that… no. But no lawsuit.

The filing also mischaracterizes Nikki Finke as a “respected film critic,” when, inarguably, she is not a film critic at all… and sees very few of the films she writes about when writing about box office, her insight on films coming primarily from trailers and competing distributors. It also quotes Finke as saying that she “felt the pre-release marketing with its superficial one-sheet and film trailer and TV ad failed by never distinguishing Drive as anything more special than just another Fast and Furious ripoff.”

Of course, Finke has no expertise in this area… and has never claimed to have or shown any consistent professional journalistic interest or insight into marketing, except for occasional spouting off. Her writing on this subject was based around a weak “C-” Cinemascore rating on opening weekend.

And the discussion of that “C-” does carry some legitimacy… not on the Jewish issue, but on the question of misleading advertising. I agree that the film clearly drew an audience that did not expect exactly what they got.

The problem is, there are many things that might well be unexpected by first-weekend audiences for this film. The biggest disconnect is not a lack of fast driving, nor an excess of violence, and certainly not Jewish villains… but the pace of the film. I would argue that the trailers and ads for the movie suggest that as well. But the trailer and ads certainly move faster than the film. They are, after all, trailers and ads. But Drive is a movie that confounds the current trends in the pace of mainstream films.

Also opening the same weekend was Straw Dogs… also a retro film in many ways… and sold as a straight-out violent thriller with a woman in the middle. Half as many people went to see the film. It got a “C” with Cinemascore. I would argue that its ad campaign was notably less honest about the actual content of the film than was Drive‘s.

This is why legal cases about things this ambiguous are impossible.

But enough of explaining why this suit seems to be without merit… not because the principle that movie ads can mislead is false, but because it can easily be argued that Drive‘s marketing campaign did not mislead in any significant way. Let’s talk about the argument about the film itself (which extends to the source material)…

The argument is, basically, that only the top villains in the film have their religion noted, that the two men are “uniformly and unambiguously evil,” and that DRIVE is an allegory about the “Jewish threat in the world today,” which suggests that killing Jews is a “necessary response to the Jewish threat.”


But it gets weirder/more interesting. Specifically, the filing notes a red crucifix worn by The Driver and a “perverse baptism” when he kills. It speaks to the method of murder by Bernie Rose, killing by cutting throats, which the filing projects to be a reference to Jewish ritual slaughter.

THIS is a real discussion. It’s a discussion that goes back to the novella. Ir’s the kind of conversation that people who are serious about film and who find a movie worthy of deep thought can engage in a real way.

Is it a conversation that should be held in a courtroom? No. Should it be allowed to derail the discussion of an Oscar nomination for Albert Brooks… one of the JEWS, who most certainly did not take on a role to propagate Jew-hating? No. Do I think the argument has much merit? No.

But I would have that argument with a friend or fellow film-lover at a BBQ or a bar or wherever. I wouldn’t just derail the conversation by arguing the absurdity of suing over a trailer, as though any one trailer is so misleading that it reaches the level of consumer fraud. If a lawyer in Michigan decided to take on Hollywood distributors for constantly proclaiming “Critics Agree!” while they keep running quotes from the same five people on such a high percentage of films, I might get behind that suit. It’s not just “quote whores agree,” but the repetition of the same characters that suggests a lack of agreement outside of the circle of those who love everything.

But I digress…

My initial take on this suit was that the filmmakers (as it turns out, staying true to the novelist) were spinning on a fairly traditional idea and found ways to surprise. One is a 60-year-old character, much less a Jewish one, killing people with his own hand. Got me! #winning! I want to give the guy an Oscar nod!

But after reading this filing, I am interested in looking at the film again and thinking more about the choice. Is there a subtext? It’s made all the more interesting by having The Driver played by Ryan Gosling, a great actor who would be a good hire regardless, but who happened to break out playing a self-loathing Jew in The Believer. And don’t forget the Jewish director.

If Richard Brody brought this up in The New Yorker, people would be discussing it seriously.

That said, it isn’t a film critic bringing it up. It’s a silly lawsuit. The list of 11 Jew-hating stereotypes is comedically myopic in light of the genre. (And sorry… but Jews do tend to “obsess” on Chinese and Italian food… even in Detroit, which I am told has the worst Chinese food on the planet.) The argument that Scarface’s mother was moral and honest, so therefore the Cuban stereotyping issues were erased is absurd. (The argument that Scarface was a Cuban stereotype and not a very specific look at a specific moment in history in Miami, blown up to epic/cartoonish levels – which were still subtle in some ways, considering the real cocaine cowboys era in Miami – is ridiculous to start.) The argument that these Jewish bad guys are less nuanced than “Jewish gangsters” in other films and that this proves something other than stylistic choices is silly. Arguing that there is “no factual basis” for this depiction seems to intentionally misunderstand the idea of fiction… and to assume that no Jew has ever killed for bad reasons. (Would it have been better if they had been Israeli and learned to kill in the army? Would the argument then be that it was anti-Semitic AND anti-Zionist?)

If Mr Leaf and Ms Deming’s goal was to start a conversation… congratulations… they succeeded.

If they made this film toxic as we head into award season, that would be a shonda.

Drive is a film that has serious, thoughtful intentions as a film. Whether you love it, hate it, or it lands in between, all film lovers should appreciate all films that are trying this hard to be more than the simplest, most commercial pap.

And I, for one, would love to read a thoughtful piece on the religious subtext of the film. I’d need to watch it again… and probably a few more times… to really have a strong position on it. But it’s intriguing. It’s just not illegal.

Stupid Lawsuit Of The Week!™
DRIVE Lawsuit 3: Witness For The Screenwriter

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68 Responses to “DRIVE Lawsuit 2: A Critic & A Lawyer Walk Into A Bar…”

  1. Paul MD (Stella's Boy) says:

    Great piece Dave. The trailer clearly communicates that there will be violence in the movie. There is no way to miss the suggested violence in the trailer, and a reasonable person would conclude that it could very easily be graphic violence (hammer raised over a person’s head, etc.). The trailer overall is an accurate representation of the movie itself.

  2. Pissed-off Persian says:

    WTF is with “Is the argument offensive to Iranian-born Hossein Amini? [. . .] He may be Jewish as well, though I have not been able to confirm that. But many Iranians in exile are.”

    Since when? What statistics are you citing? Does that mean you, David Poland, might be a “homo”* because you cover Hollywood and “many” people who cover Hollywood are?

    *I have no issues with this, just making a point on worthless cliches in journalism, even entertainment journalism. It reminds me of Roger Ebert’s ignorant racial remark in his review of Bowfinger where he computed someone wearing an Arafat-style keffiyeh as “Iranian”. Ugh.

  3. David Poland says:

    Wow. That’s overly dramatic.

    In Los Angeles, there is a large community of Persians and a large percentage of them are Jewish.

    This makes an interesting leap back to an argument a few weeks back, about how we all describe one another. The distinction between “Persian” and “Arab” is one of those areas of sensitivity that I find overly prickly… much as I feel it’s absurd to call every Black person an “African-American.” This comes from a “Jew” who finds many people who don’t understand that it is not the same thing as “Zionism.”

    I would object to the notion that this, in context, is close to claiming to know the nationality of a character in a movie because they are wearing a keffiyeh.

    What really interests me is that you are treating the question of whether Hossein Amini is Jewish as though it is inherently offensive.

    Do you think that someone thinking I was gay because I work in a community with an unusually large percentage of gay men is supposed to offend me? When I was a single male in my 30s and early 40s who was in this industry, plenty of people thought I was gay. And I’m sure there are some who still do.

    It only bothers me because it is inaccurate. Being gay isn’t a bad thing. It’s just a different thing. And I would say the same thing about being Jewish.

    Nonetheless, I think your point is worth considering. And after an hour or so trying to research Amini’s religious background, I came up empty. My primary interest in it was that my sense of the lawsuit was that offering up a Middle Eastern name suggested the potential of anti-Semitism. So did I cross the line by trying to fight off someone else who I had felt crossed the line? Could be.

    I’m going to make an edit… because I think there is a gray area and my intent is not to offend on this point… but I would check your feelings about Jews and homosexuals. I think you may have some issues there.

  4. JKill says:

    An exemption for the law that this case allegedly rests upon:

    “(b) An act done by the publisher, owner, agent, or employee of a newspaper, periodical, directory, radio or television station, or other communications medium in the publication or dissemination of an advertisement unless the publisher, owner, agent, or employee knows or, under the circumstances, reasonably should know of the false, misleading,or deceptive character of the advertisement or has a direct financial interest in the sale or distribution of the advertised goods, property, or service.”

    They have no case. I don’t see how they convicingly argue their way out of that.

  5. Martin H. Leaf says:

    First, the interview with Birney, head of marketing for FilmDistrict, explained the C- by saying the film was different, “ultraviolent”. Everyone polled by CinemaScore knew it was an R rated film, but yet the marketing head explains the moviegoers negative reaction as presumably not expecting “ultraviolence”. I believe it is rare to see a woman’s head blown off, with the scalp and skull separating, in even R rated movies. I believe that was slow motion.

    You mention the Jewish aspect of the lawsuit, suggesting it is peripheral to the plot, and silly.

    First, can you name one movie, where the Jewish Characters are so one dimensionally evil and stereotyped? If you cannot, that should say volumes.

    You say, the movie is not “about Jews who cheat and kill others.” But it is.

    It is really quite simple. You have a white Christian protagonist. You have two clearly evil and clearly Jewish antagonists, each a Shylock in their own way.

    Said Christian’s life is torn by the evil machinations of said Jewish villains, including threatening an innocent child.
    The Christian has no choice but to kill the evil Jews, sacrificing himself for the child and woman. The Christian having been setup at his last supper by the conniving scheming Jew.

    The Chinese food and Italian food was just another hackneyed stereotype thrown into the mix, just in case every other false Jewish stereotype was missed, and was funny when Jackie Mason referred to it. This was not comedy IMHO.

    To show the depth of the Jew hating stereotypes, analyze the deal for the stock car. Shannon wants financing, in exchange for equity. Normally the investor gets equity. Shannon asks for 430,000.00 for the car. Bernie offers 300k for 70% which just so happens to be 70% of 430,000.00. Which means Bernie cut Shannon out because if Shannon needs the extra 130,000.00 he has to give up even more shares, leaving him with nothing.

    So the financing cost Shannon the entire business. Plus Bernie obviously would have owned the car as security so Bernie’s risk was minimal.

    The point is that the scene described above was carefully thought out, to show a “shark”.

    And you say Driver wears a red crucifix. Look at the trailer again, and the complaint. It says Driver is framed by a red crucifix when he is stalking the Jew and that is in the trailer. The music playing at that point is from a movie about racial discrimination.

    As the Jew is seen dead next to his money, the music plays “A real human being and a real Hero”, referring to Driver.

    Now, as to your point about the relevance of History. An Historical depiction is relevant as to the degree of antisemitism. Goslyn’s previous film, “All good things” was based on a Jewish real estate heir that allegedly murders some people. Supposedly a true story. There the Jewish aspect was not antisemitic, stereotyped, cartoon, overplayed.

    Here, we allege in Drive it was Jew hating and in a material way.

    Finally, the jury many times deals with subjectivity, especially in criminal law. It is called mens rea, ie state of mind.

    So could the Jury watch the movie and the trailer and decide if it was misleading if it came down to that, and if the proper jury instructions were given, and if proper evidence was submitted ?????

    Finally, I engage very very few sites, despite many requests from major media throughout the world. I chose this one because it is well thought out and even though you disagree, the level of discussion is relatively sophisticated.

    I doubt the name Hossein is Jewish. As the complaint alleges, dehumanizing racism promotes violence against Jews. I think that is important.

    As for Refn, Lars also claimed he was Jewish, or at least raised by Jews. That did not stop him did it ?

  6. Martin H. Leaf says:


    Or has a direct financial interest ???????????????? Think movie theater??????????

  7. Martin H. Leaf says:

    BTW and for what it is worth. Call me prejudiced but Iranians in general are very cool. Very. I have known many, mostly not Jewish, and have never been treated as anything but the best by them.

    I think their government is a major threat though.

  8. Don Murphy says:

    You and I have many problems, not the least of which is your over inflated sense of self importance. When we had our battle last week over your failed attempt to affect REAL STEEL the only comments I got were from studios happy that I was pointing out your lack of clothes.

    But seriously, since I did once like you– WHY IN THE WORLD would you encourage this ambulance chasing moron to have a venue in which to spew his nonsense? Do you need page hits this week or something? There is in fact no argument to have here. His suit will never be heard by a jury. Summary judgment is guaranteed. He is exactly as Drew described him, a bottom feeding scum bag filing meritless lawsuits for fees and attention. This is my very educated opinion. Disbarment is too good for him.

    David, discussion is a welcome and wonderful thing. You are being played by this baboon. If he went to law school he knows he gots nothing. Don’t feed the chimps, they will only fling more poo.

  9. Paul MD (Stella's Boy) says:

    Have you ever seen a Saw movie? The violence in Drive is hardly unique or excessive these days.

    Is it really clear that Driver is a Christian? Is it ever suggested that Christianity is a vital component of his life? Is it implied that as a devout Christian he must fight the Jews not because they are criminals but because they are Jews?

    Just because the 2 main villains are Jewish does not mean that the movie is unequivocally communicating that they are committing these crimes only because they are Jews. That message is not in the movie. The fact that they are Jews is secondary to the fact that they are criminals threatening Driver and people he cares about. You are making leaps and drawing conclusions to fit your viewpoint. Since the quality of the movie is subjective, you have that right, but that won’t hold up in a court of law.

  10. JKill says:

    Mr. Leaf,

    obviously they have a direct financial interest but how do you prove that they either intentionally or negligently misleaded the public?

    “AN ACT to prohibit certain methods, acts, and practices in trade or commerce; to prescribe certain powers and duties; to provide for certain remedies, damages, and penalties; to provide for the promulgation of rules; to provide for certain investigations; and to prescribe penalties.”

    On what grounds is your client owed a remedy? Unless there was some kind of emotional distress, which you don’t allege, I assume she’s out like 7.50 on a film she didn’t like…

    Also, the anti-Semetism charge, which I think is frankly absurd, doesn’t seem to be anywhere in the statute as a grounds to sue upon. I’m pretty sure there’s no civil cause of action for bigoted depictions in art, regardless of how offensive or even hurtful they may be.

    “The Chinese food and Italian food was just another hackneyed stereotype thrown into the mix, just in case every other false Jewish stereotype was missed, and was funny when Jackie Mason referred to it. This was not comedy IMHO”

    You’re being oddly subjective about what is supposed to be a legal issue. Why does it matter that the stereotype isn’t funny, in this case? Would it not be actionable if it were?

    “Everyone polled by CinemaScore knew it was an R rated film, but yet the marketing head explains the moviegoers negative reaction as presumably not expecting “ultraviolence”.”

    The MPAA rated DRIVE R for “strong brutal bloody violence”. Yes, if only there was some way for audiences to have a clear warning of its content…

  11. Joe Leydon says:

    I posted this on the other thread, but did not get a response, so I will try again here.

    Martin: OK, let me make sure I understand the reasoning here. The claimant says that she saw a trailer for Drive, and was thereby influenced to see the movie. When she saw the movie, she found it to be (a) not a Fast & Furious style action drama, which she claims the trailer led her to expect, and (b)offensively anti-Semitic in its depiction of Jewish villains. So, in essence, she is basing her lawsuit on the claim that Drive is a prima facie example of blood libel against Jews — yet she is not suing because of the movie’s content, but rather because she was not adequately warned about it. Correct?

  12. berg says:

    Leydon, didn’t you testify in a trial in Houston about the movie Salo (where is was confiscated and they arrested the manager of the River Oaks Three)?
    You look good on the stand ….

  13. David Poland says:

    Don… as always… no idea what problems we have, except for your odd obsession with trying to hurt me. And your malicious lie that I would have any interest in damaging your film is beyond contempt. Moreover, there is not a single thing that suggests any truth to your paranoid fantasy.

    As for this other issue, I have repeated many times that I don’t think the suit has merit. But I think reducing this guy to an ambulance chaser is much like people reducing you to a trolling lunatic who got lucky a few times. Not fair or accurate.

    People who only believe in engaging with ideas they agree with are sad and, in some cases, profoundly dangerous.

    P.S. The baboon I am most being played by, giving him space to spread his lies, is you, Don. God bless the 1st Amendment!

  14. Don Murphy says:

    So people that file meritless lawsuits (let’s for once back up your own words for a change) are NOT ambulance chasers?

    People who file meritless lawsuits that clog up the court system and seek damages when none occurred are NOT ambulance chasers?

    I guess we are back in “words mean whatever David Poland says they mean” land. I guess MCN is a “profitable” enterprise without advertisements. Etc etc…

    PS- Expressing opinions on a public message board is not a First Amendment situation, which if you hired a better lawyer you would understand. And calling me the baboon rather than the attorney with the degree from Crackerjacks University again shows the depth of your pointless enmity.

  15. JKill says:

    And by “misleaded” above, I meant mislead…yikes.

  16. David Poland says:

    The problem, Martin, is that I can name hundreds of films in which other ethnic groups are more “one dimensionally evil and stereotyped.”

    Moreover, there is nothing illegal about this in this country.

    To be clear, when I mention the crucifix, it is only a simplified reading of your complaint. I don’t remember a crucifix. If I misread your complaint and you were only referring to the reflection of the cross in the window, my apologies.

    Yes. Bernie is a shark. His religion is not critical to him being a shark, so far as I saw the movie.

    I did find the racial slurs by the “bad guys” to be funny. And my personal experience is that Jewish people of that age are perfectly willing to slur in gentle ways. I would say that this is a generational issue, to a religious one, though I have always found it shocking how ethnic groups who have suffered prejudice are so often willing to foist it upon other groups.

    Again… I find your film criticism interesting.

    “It is really quite simple. You have a white Christian protagonist. You have two clearly evil and clearly Jewish antagonists, each a Shylock in their own way.

    Said Christian’s life is torn by the evil machinations of said Jewish villains, including threatening an innocent child.

    The Christian has no choice but to kill the evil Jews, sacrificing himself for the child and woman. The Christian having been setup at his last supper by the conniving scheming Jew.”

    I also find it to be a wild overreach. But I wouldn’t be shocked to find it in a Tarantino script.

  17. David Poland says:

    Don… “ambulance chaser” is a semantic distinction.

    I believe Mr. Leaf to be dead wrong. I have expressed it clearly and repeated and called for his client to pay for Film District’s legal fees.

    Do I think, as I believe most people’s definition of an ambulance chaser would include, this lawsuit is an attempt to make quick money off of Film District’s interest in settling a frivolous lawsuit? No.

    Like you said… this case should quickly be thrown out of court. But your willingness to extrapolate Mr. Leaf’s motivations without any other information is… well… very you, Don. You are the pot calling the kettle black, multiplied.

  18. Don Murphy says:

    The man who restricts my postings on this site wrote Do I think, as I believe most people’s definition of an ambulance chaser would include, this lawsuit is an attempt to make quick money off of Film District’s interest in settling a frivolous lawsuit? No.

    Therefore you think the lawsuit has at least some merit. Which means you cannot maintain a position very well.

  19. David Poland says:

    I guess my mistake is posting your comments at all, Don.

    The reason you are moderated – though every stupid comment since you stopped sending people to spam the site in May has been posted – is that you have spammed the site, you have repeatedly threatened me and my business, and you give every appearance of being mentally unstable.

    As for this last comment, no, you cannot conclude that the fact that I do not see this as Mr. Leaf’s motive means I think the lawsuit has merit. I have stated otherwise very, very clearly.

    Shoo, fly.

  20. Joe Leydon says:

    Yeah, I got called in to provide “expert testimony.” Which was kind of a bummer, because it mean I actually had to see Salo, a movie I previously had gone out of way to avoid.

  21. Triple Option says:

    If this whole thing wasn’t so pathetic, it’d be refreshing to see an atty say, “We’re not going to try this case in the courtroom, I’m going to try it in the media!”

    I think Martin H. Leaf is on a phishing expedition. Trying to see what arguments are going to be thrown against his “case” to come up with defenses down the road. Lemme give you a freebie: duty to mitigate. According to the news report, the plaintiff made no attempt to seek a refund. Standard procedure for anyone dissatisfied with a product or service he or she has purchased would be to request money back. While it’s not a requirement for someone to try to work out a reasonable agreement before filing suit, any L2 can tell you that w/out such an attempt your client’s gonna get laughed out of the courthouse.

    It’s also very demeaning to Christians to suggest that someone who engaged in a portion, much less all, of the acts the protagonist did could be labeled, mistaken, associated, deemed or otherwise named as those of one who follows Christ. *Spoilers* There is nothing remotely related to sprinkle or immersion baptism with Izzy’s murder. END SPOILERS.* The reason no critic mentioned any of your claimed allegories is because they aren’t allegories. I can think of five violations against Jesus’ sermon on the mount w/out even trying. To describe this person as a Christian when nothing based on fact, doctrine, common ritual or custom suggests that is acceptable behavior for any follower of Jesus, shows an obvious prejudice against Christians on your part.

    By the by, just because one is a protagonist, it does not make that person good. I really hope you aren’t fraudulently mislabeling this time as billable research to rack up hours. Your client has the right to know how her case is proceeding and so far you’ve exhibited a contemptible lack of time management skills.

  22. David Poland says:

    Strong argument, TO.

  23. Joe Leydon says:

    Actually, now I’m wondering whether I should have hired a lawyer during the golden age of blaxploitation movies, when I often found myself to be the only honkie inside a moviehouse where several other patrons were so caught up in the action on screen that they’d occasionally yell, “Yeah, kill that white motherfucker!” Can I file a lawsuit based on the film critic equivalent of post-traumatic stress?

  24. Martin H. Leaf says:

    I have never heard the term prima facie anti-semitic. But the lawsuit claims the movie was not as advertised and marketed. Was it marketed as antisemitic ?

  25. Martin H. Leaf says:


    I am really curious. I have not found one film critic that has mentioned any allegories in the movie.

  26. Joe Leydon says:

    Not being a lawyer, I’m not 100 percent sure of this, but I think you’re putting the cart before the horse here. Would you not have to prove the film is anti-semitic — or demonstrate some form of reckless disregard on the part of the filmmakers for making a film that reasonable people would interpret as anti-semitic — before you could seek redress for being lured to see it by false advertising? That is, would you not have to prove the advertising was indeed false?

  27. Martin H. Leaf says:

    Yes. Each material fact has to be proven.

  28. Martin H. Leaf says:

    By the way, it is always easier to play the devil than to play God. Perlman’s acting is very very good, except when his car is hit and he laconically wonders what it was. Ya right.

  29. Don Murphy says:

    I guess my mistake is posting your comments at all, Don. Why? Do you just want to rant without challenges?

    The reason you are moderated – though every stupid comment since you stopped sending people to spam the site in May has been posted Facts simply are David. You state incendiary things about me, I attempt to reply and you block the replies – is that you have spammed the site, By that you mean I had fans from my site question your supremacy and you did not like it you have repeatedly threatened me and my business, an actionable and false statement by you and you give every appearance of being mentally unstable. Not sure what your interpretation of appearances really means.

    As for this last comment, no, you cannot conclude that the fact that I do not see this as Mr. Leaf’s motive means I think the lawsuit has merit. I have stated otherwise very, very clearly. Make sense, blowhard. If it has no merit then he filed it for money, plain and simple.

    Shoo, fly. Blow me, Doucheboy.

  30. sdp says:

    Surprised this hasn’t been a bigger point of contention: what exactly is the basis for claiming Brooks/Rose’s evil actions are at all motivated by his religion? He explicitly states that the whole situation is a mess. He gives Nino grief for getting involved in the first place, and criticizes him when he causes the conflict to escalate. Look at his conversation with Cranston – he’s just a guy backed into a corner. Some if it is surely loyalty to a longtime associate, but he’s mostly just covering his own ass.

    Also, I might be wrong, but I don’t remember Cook being Jewish, at least not explicitly. So there’s at least one non-Jewish villain. Not to mention the implied threat of the mostly Italian mob. That hit man in the elevator didn’t seem to Jewish to me, either.

  31. Bitplayer says:

    As a Black man I hope to find a lawyer and file a class action lawsuit against Tarintino. Who’s with me?

  32. David Poland says:

    “You state incendiary things about me, I attempt to reply and you block the replies”

    False. Every single one of these exchanges has been initiated by you, Don. And I have blocked NONE of your comments since May. Every single one has been published in a fairly short window of time.

    “By that you mean I had fans from my site question your supremacy and you did not like it”

    No. After threatening to spam me, you had about a half dozen people repeat the same sentence over and over and over again until they became exhausted.

    “Not sure what your interpretation of appearances really means.”

    It means that your ongoing behavior of attacking me for no apparent or offered reason and your ongoing threats have come to suggest that you are sociopathic.

    ‘If it has no merit then he filed it for money, plain and simple.”

    Good thing you don’t have any legal power. Every thought you have in prima facie in your mind.

    I only wish you were challenging my “rants.” At least you would be adding something to the conversation other than your apparent anger at me. Instead, you appear to have made up stories about me to tell others and come in here, unable to focus on whatever the issue is, invariably turning it into an issue about me and my alleged shortcomings.

    You are like a 16-year-old who has figured out how to parse ideas and now think that you win an argument simply by exhibiting that skill. You don’t. You actually need to make an argument. As I have said before, put up or shut up. (Of course, you are incapable of shutting up, whether you have something of substance to say or not. My bad.)

  33. anghus says:

    there’s a lot of wind and nonsense in these posts. i want to ask something simple.

    So basically a movie has to market itself to be a fair and accurate representation of the finished product? Who determines the accuracy, or the fairness?

    If i was the lawyer for Film District these were the things i would be pondering.

    1. Are there any shots from the trailer not in the finished film?
    2. Since movie trailers are restricted to avoid violent imagery in green band trailers, isn’t the studio obligated to leave violent/graphic images out of the trailer.
    3. Doesn’t the MPAA provide a rating at the beginning of the trailer? The MPAA provides the following description of R Rated movies:

    R — Restricted. Children Under 17 Require Accompanying Parent or Adult Guardian. An R-rated motion picture, in the view of the Rating Board, contains some adult material. An R-rated motion picture may include adult themes, adult activity, hard language, intense or persistent violence, sexually-oriented nudity, drug abuse or other elements, so that parents are counseled to take this rating very seriously.

    intense or persistent violence. that kind of covers stuff in Drive. Stuff you couldn’t see in a trailer because of restrictions by the MPAA of what could be included in a Green Band trailer.

    And even if the court ruled in the favor of the Plaintiff, isn’t the most they are entitled to is the price of the ticket?

    The scenario being, i go to a movie and pay “X”. I see a movie that was marketed as “A” and the finished film was “B”. Since the movie wasn’t the “A” as marketed, i’m entitled to “X”.

    It feels like the same kind of logic could be applied to going to a Broadway show where they advertise Hugh Jackman in the lead, but the night of the show they feature an Understudy. I paid full price, the show is marketed on a star’s name, and when i get to theater i have to see the understudy instead of the star who adorns all the posters.

    Even if i managed to sue the production, wouldn’t i only be entitled to a refund? What am i entitled to other than the amount of money i paid to see the movie.

    And aren’t movies allowed to be anti-semetic? Can i sue Mel Gibson for The Passion of the Christ. Can someone from the middle east sue James Cameron for True Lies under the provision of making “one dimensional villains”.

    weird, wild stuff.

  34. berg says:

    “Can someone from the middle east sue James Cameron for True Lies under the provision of making “one dimensional villains”.”

    ARE you referring to Grant Heslov?

  35. Martin H. Leaf says:

    Anghus, you might be correct under breach of contract, or some breach of implied warranty, or some other theory, but under the Michigan Statute, if the Plaintiff prevails the minimum is $250.00 if there are damages.

  36. LexG says:

    This guy sure has a lot of free time…

    Are we sure this isn’t some twitchy guy in his boxers in Reseda shining everybody on?

  37. Lou R. says:

    Can’t mention the Jewish mafia? Give me a break. Political correctness IS censorship. From now on movies can’t make references to any race and ethnicity? Hello, totalitarianism? Come enslave us, we’re stupid.
    This case has no merit and the plaintiff pays the costs – not the tax payers.
    I bet she liked The Departed though.

  38. Martin H. Leaf says:


    Although we disagree, I noticed that instead of relying on the “trailer” to this case, that is the inaccurate media depiction from WDIV, you are now dealing with the substantive issues, using the actual source material, which I appreciate.

    Many people have criticized the Plaintiff, saying that Fast Five is garbage compared to Drive, so if there were a “bait and switch”, the switch was better. But sometimes, a person wants a Pepsi, rather than an Evian. But here, a better analogy would be that the person wanted a Pepsi, as opposed to an Evian with benzene. The benzene being analogous to the alleged antisemitism.

  39. Lou R. says:

    Thea Alexander might sue James Cameron for plaguerizing her novel 2150AD. But then, the Philip K Dick estate would own Copywood.

  40. Paul MD (Stella's Boy) says:

    So every time a person wants a Pepsi and doesn’t get it, they should sue?

    What about people who saw Seven Pounds and were upset because its marketing wasn’t entirely representative of the film itself? Should they have sued?

  41. Martin H. Leaf says:


    The Jewish mafia in cinema is great, just like the Italian mafia. I am a big fan of those kind of movies, having first hand knowledge of more than a few “alleged” Purple Gang members, and having heard from someone who witnessed the fallout from the Collingwood massacre, as well as other stories passed on by people who had encounters with the Purple Gang.

    I had to stay at the Daugherty hotel, where Izzy Liebovitz was gunned down in Clare Michigan, because I like many others, find those kinds of stories compelling. However, the allegation in the complaint, is that the Jewish gangsters are represented using cartoon false Jewish negative stereotypes exclusively, unlike all the other characters that are nuanced with good and evil.

    Even down to the pinky rings, thick gold chains, and gold watches that Izzy and/or Bernie wear, to say nothing of those short sleeve “Hawaiian/casual” shirts.

    I recall an Irish hero in The Departed. Not so with respect to any Jews in Drive.

    As the complaint states, even Nicky in Casino was depicted as a loving father, his murderous psychopathy notwithstanding. In reality, murderers often are good to at least some of their family, which makes them more human.

    There is no Jewish American mafia in America today. You would be hard pressed to find even a few “violent Jewish American”, “senior citizen” gangsters as well.

    And how would a warning, similar to MPAA, be so burdensome ? A warning about alleged racism against Jews on the DVD? Does that unreasonably constrain or restrict free speech?

  42. Paul MD (Stella's Boy) says:

    Nicky in Casino is not presented as a sympathetic character. At all. He is a monster and is depicted as such. And is anyone in The Departed really an all-American hero? That is debatable (wow art is subjective).

    Why should they have to post a warning over one person’s interpretation of the movie? I would say that most definitely is an unreasonable constraint.

  43. Martin H. Leaf says:


    Real humans, even murderous psychopaths such as Nicky, can still care about their family. With Nicky, it was his brother and his son. It is what makes even murderous psychopaths “human”. To dehumanize, as the complaint alleges, is to take all the things that are good in human beings away.

    All American Hero is not relevant to the case. Being human is.

  44. Paul MD (Stella's Boy) says:

    You are missing my point Martin. I disagree with your interpretation of Nicky in Casino. He is no better than the two main criminals in Drive. I do not believe he is humanized. I believe he is a monster and that Casino presents him as a monster. It is subjective and open to interpretation. That is my opinion of Nicky. A person’s opinion of a movie and the depiction of its characters is not a good enough reason to file a lawsuit.

  45. yancyskancy says:

    Isn’t Izzy “humanized” a bit by his rage over the antisemitism of the Italian mob?

    I almost get the impression that if Refn had included a shot of Perlman petting a dog or Brooks dropping a dollar in a blind man’s cup there’d be no lawsuit.

    “Humanizing” villains may make for a richer, more interesting script, but I don’t see how it should be required, or how the lack of it could be actionable.

  46. Paul MD (Stella's Boy) says:

    Also isn’t it fair to say that Bernie has genuine affection for Shannon (despite what he ultimately does to him)? Doesn’t that humanize him a bit as well?

  47. cadavra says:

    Anghus: Understudies in Broadway shows are announced ahead of time, and ticketholders may get refunds no questions asked. Of course, if you’re an out-of-towner on vacation, you may not have the option of returning on another night, but no one is compelled to stay.

    If you wanna talk anti-Semitic, how about Adam Sandler? Every time he steps in front of a camera he sets my people back hundreds of years.

  48. Martin H. Leaf says:

    How is Adam Sandler anti-semitic ?

  49. Martin H. Leaf says:

    By the way, The knife used to murder Shannon is similar to the kind of knife used for ritual kosher slaughter.

    The complaint mentions that the method of murder Bernie employs on Shannon, is similar to the “Kosher” method of slaughter outlawed in some parts of Scandinavia.

    A knife for Kosher slaughter must have no point at the end.

    To me, exsanguanation of the brachial artery would have been horribly traumatic for Shannon, a form of torment and torture.

  50. yancyskancy says:

    You don’t mess with the Zohan.

  51. David Poland says:

    “a better analogy would be that the person wanted a Pepsi, as opposed to an Evian with benzene.”

    Sorry… but not buying. The notion that a distributor has an obligation to define a film in that kind of detail in marketing is beyond reason.

    Parts of Fast Five took place in Rio’s favelas… was the lack of specific clarity that the movie would deal with extreme poverty a breach?

    There’s very little baseball in Moneyball. Breach?

    There is a medical procedure that the right wing feels is profoundly immoral that is central to the plot in a recent movie with no mention of it in any ads, as it is a plot twist. Breach?

    Sue Transformers 2 for the racism of those 2 robots?

    Sue The Help because the film is really about the white people who employ the black help?

    Even if we were to accept the notion of those characters being Anti-Semitism, that characterization, as an event of art is a film is not like some poison pill that must be warned about.

    Do we need Bridesmaids to carry a tag: “WARNING: Characters in this film will defecate in inappropriate places?”

  52. Martin H. Leaf says:


    You are saying that at the end of the day, the requested injunctive relief in the complaint, a warning, is such a big deal ? Gonna break Hollywood ? Gonna cause the planet to stop rotating ?

    Thats what was said about the rating system in the first place. And we are still here, safe and sound, in good old 1958.

  53. David Poland says:

    I know this is not your area of expertise, Martin, but the ratings system has acted as an informal censorship board for decades and keeps filmmakers from doing their work.

    gonna break Hollywood? Of course not. But this is not the point. At some point, having to list everything in a film that might offend someone is not only onerous, but absurd on its face. And ultimately, would lead to a worse experience of film for everyone but the most rigid and unaccepting.

    The R rating for extreme, bloody violence wasn’t enough? It was the two Jews who put her over the edge?

    And what is the warning? Movie Contains Jews?

  54. Martin H. Leaf says:

    Now that is a good one, “Movie contains Jews”. Aren’t you going to add “Movie contains Jews, use with extreme caution” ?

  55. David Poland says:

    Now you’re making MY point.

  56. Lou R. says:


    If you study this topic you will find that there are at least 2 exclusively jewish mafias operating in USA today, plus the drug & arms dealings of the MOSSAD. You can pick up their roots in the slave trade, Wall Street, and DC. That you don’t see them is the same reason you don’t see the other mafias – they own their own politicians, and a sizable chunk of the media. Out of professional courtesy none of these groups exposes the others; fidelity assurance by mutual guilt. And if you check the history, including recent legal news, jewish organized criminals savage jewish people worse than any others, because they are easiest for them to prey on. IMO we need to have this discussion out in the open and deal with the real problems. The veneer of civility is thinner than you presume.

    We are Americans first in that we respect each other’s rights to different values, after that its not a legal matter to be different. You require ‘warnings’ that the movie might be offensive? Thats what the ‘R’ is, friend. If you want more labels than that you must be either a hungry lawyer, using marxist strategies to subvert our system, or unfamiliar with the state of our legal system today. Since you are a member of the bar, that rules out the 3rd possibility. I am sure this is the general opinion, and that the producers & performers thank you for the publicity.

    Not The Departed then. How about The Devil’s Own? Starring the one thousand year dutch oppressors of the Irish, painting the Irish for exactly the covert, illegal, tax dodging arms trade that American jews in the tristate area were doing with the Israelis at the time, only the jews did it much, much bigger. How about the dozens of Italian mafia movies? You’ll ruin the Chinese movie industry.

    If adults can’t differentiate reality from fiction, *they* have a serious *personal* problem. IME those most sensitive to prejudice usually dish it the most. As one not afflicted with prejudice I thought this movie was well produced, the characters engaging, a bit too bloody for my taste, but good. The ending was much more memorable than the ethnicities of the character.

    This was not an anti-jewish propaganda piece. You wouldn’t even have reasonable grounds if this were The Passion Of The Christ. Its art. To paraphrase Oscar Wilde, whose life and creative contribution was definitely cut short by someone just like you, art is not capable of being moral or immoral, but only well or poorly made, and only brutes and illiterates, whose views on art are incalculably stupid, would make such judgements about art.

    State force negates liberty. This country was predicated on personal freedom. Beyond national defense and personal safety, if you want to dictate the terms of my social values to me, clearly we have a problem.

    Woman sees movie preview. Offended by preview, is grateful for warning that free preview afforded her and chooses not to see movie. Fortunately, there are lots of other movies she might enjoy, many of which she might not want to see either; but many other people do go to see these offensive movies and enjoy them. The economy flourishes. The End.

  57. Martin H. Leaf says:

    “Woman sees movie preview. Offended by preview, is grateful for warning that free preview afforded her and chooses not to see movie. Fortunately, there are lots of other movies she might enjoy, many of which she might not want to see either; but many other people do go to see these offensive movies and enjoy them. The economy flourishes. The End.”

    You substantially made our case. Woman offended by preview, so she knows not to see the movie. Exactly.

  58. yancyskancy says:

    Martin has convinced me. DRIVE should immediately be tagged with the following warning: “This film contains Jewish characters that may offend those who are overly sensitive, politically correct, and/or a little slow. Some of the filmmakers, as well as some of their best friends, are themselves Jewish.”

  59. Lou R. says:

    You’rte not too bright.

  60. random hit says:

    I once saw a movie called Gung Ho because Michael Keaton was in it. Its sucked so bad I walked out after 20 minutes. The cashier told me lots of people were walking out, and gave us our money back.

    So the lady should have walked out and asked for her money back. Hard to beleive she couldn’t walk out, at this point I’m not even sure she deserves a free ticket to another movie she wishes, but I’d give her 2 free tickets because its good business.

    The lawyer should get community service.

  61. dee says:

    What is hilarious is that David Poland would think and say that a guy named “Hossein” is Jewish before he would Mila Kunis. That should really tell you all you need to know about David Poland.

    (Yes, I know there were Jews in the Arab world named “Hossein”. But I think the point is pretty clear).

  62. Edward says:

    Do we dare point out to the “lawyer” that the MPAA rating system didn’t exist in 1958?

  63. dee says:

    And if this is to be believed, Hossein Amini is indeed not Jewish.

  64. cadavra says:

    “How is Adam Sandler anti-semitic ?”

    I was kidding on the square. Sandler is an obviously Jewish man who’s spent most of his career playing grown men who behave like mentally-impaired teenagers. I would also steer you to his EIGHT CRAZY NIGHTS, an animated film about Hanukkah that comes perilously close to offensive.

  65. Martin H. Leaf says:

    Do we dare point out to the “film Maven” Edward, that it was humor from the movie “Back to the Future”

  66. Edward says:

    Mr. Leaf, Back to the Future took place in 1955 and 1985.

    I guess facts about movies… real, true, verifiable, not open to opinion or interpretation facts… are immaterial to you.

  67. Grendel the blog troll says:

    The movie theater in my neighborhood just closed; not good. Is “Space Available” the new Starbucks? Because they are moving in faster than the Chinese…

  68. Tetragrammaton says:

    I can’t help but think that if this case actually has merit to be heard, then someone should immediately sue the Obama 2008 campaign for material misrepresentation and false advertising. I don’t think there is any difficulty proving the broken campaign promises and gathering evidence of actual damages, the challenge will be getting an unbiased jury. In or out of court, the legal fees will be astronomical.

    I imagine Mr. Amini is shopping scripts for his next movie.

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