MCN Columnists
Gary Dretzka

By Gary Dretzka Dretzka@moviecitynews.com

The DVD Wrapup: Ophelia, Ambition, Werewolf in Girls’ Dorm, Byleth, Humble Pie, Good Omens, Yellowstone …More

Ophelia: Blu-ray
Shakespearian purists may not appreciate the liberties taken by director Claire McCarthy (The Waiting City) and screenwriter Semi Chellas (“Mad Men”) in their portrayal of one of the Bard’s most enduring and enigmatic characters, but there’s no denying Ophelia’s many sensory pleasures. Set inside and around the medieval Křivoklát Castle, in the central Bohemian region of the Czech Republic, the movie is based as much on Lisa Klein’s young-adult novel, “Ophelia” (2006), as it is on “Hamlet.” The first thing to know about Ophelia is that the title character narrates her story from her singular point of view. (“You may think you know my story. Many have told it. It has long passed into history … into myth.”) One day, Queen Gertrude (Naomi Watts) discovers  the rowdy, motherless, unschooled and largely discarded daughter of Polonius (Dominic Mafham) playing outside Elsinore. To the consternation of her closest attendants, Gertrude invites Ophelia (Mia Quiney/Daisy Ridley) to move into her quarters and enjoy the life of relative luxury denied her by Polonius, who’s more interested in the future of his son and close friend of Hamlet, Laertes (Tom Felton). Eventually, Ophelia proves herself worthy of assuming the role of the queen’s most trusted lady-in-waiting and confidante. As portrayed by the perfectly cast Ridley, the adult Ophelia is beautiful, witty, curious and thirsty for information about the politics and deceit that surround the queen and her once and future husbands. Her personal ambitions largely involve helping her lover, Hamlet (George MacKay), avenge his father’s murder and ensure his natural ascent to the throne, even though his quest falls victim to his own inner demons. Hamlet’s love for Ophelia is thwarted by the machinations of King Claudius (Clive Owen) and his aides – including Polonius and Laertes — whose own lust for power is destined to be quashed by outside forces. Among them is a small army of insurrectionists, led by Gertrude’s twin sister, Mechtild (Watts), who, after being banished by Claudius – off-screen — became an herbalist, apothecary and designer of deadly potions. Ultimately, Ophelia must choose between her love for Hamlet and her own life. In desperation, Ophelia devises a treacherous plan to escape from Elsinore forever – to a nunnery, perhaps – without revealing a secret even Shakespeare dared not pursue. One of McCarthy’s most inspired conceits here finds Ophelia imagining her own death, floating in a pond surrounded by flowers, ferns and thick undergrowth. It duplicates the pose struck by model Elizabeth Siddall for Sir John Everett Millais’ incomparable Pre-Raphaelite painting, “Ophelia” (1852). Cinematographer Denson Baker (Measure of a Man) deserves a lot of credit for capturing this and other scenes, capturing the natural beauty of Křivoklát, which probably hasn’t changed much in the last 500 years, and the castles beautifully restored interiors. The Blu-ray adds cast and crew interviews, as well as a couple of deleted scenes.

Ambition: Blu-ray
Known primarily as the founder and CEO of New Line Cinema, which, for 40-plus years was a leading producer and distributor of indie and genre films, Robert Shaye’s fingerprints can still be found on such franchise attractions as A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984), Critters (1986), Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990), Dumb and Dumber (1994), Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (1997), Rush Hour (1998), Final Destination (2000) and The Lord of the Rings (2001).  The lawyer-turned-mogul’s earliest successes included the re-release of  Reefer Madness (1936) and U.S. distribution of Immoral Tales (1973), Stay As You Are (1978) and Oscar-winner Get Out Your Handkerchiefs (1978). Shaye and New Line’s association with John Waters officially began in 1980, with Polyester, and continued through A Dirty Shame (2004) and Hairspray (2008). That isn’t to suggest that Shaye hasn’t experienced his share of ups and downs, lawsuits and settlements. You’d need a forensic pathologist, however, to determine whose fingerprints carry the most weight in the producer credits. That’s what makes me wonder what Shaye was thinking when he agreed to produce and direct, under the auspices of his new production company, Unique Features (“Shadowhunters”), such a doomed thriller as Ambition. After all, he hadn’t had much luck helming Book of Love (1990) and The Last Mimzy (2007). As written by newcomers John Rocco and Jenna Lyn Wright, and promoted by its publicists, Ambition appears to have been influenced by Alfred Hitchcock Douglas Sirk … the former, yes; the latter, not so much. It opens with a pretty blond clinging to the ledge of an office suite, near the top of a high-rise building. Clearly, she is in no position to be rescued by anyone without strong hands, a lifeguard’s hook and a winch. In fact, considering the absence of safety rails, it begs credulity to think that such a petite young thing could find herself in such a precarious position, in the first place. Most viewers will already know how the stunt was choreographed, but a little bit of vertigo goes a long way with the rubes who don’t. It should surprise no one when the cliff-hanging maiden (Jordan Salmon) loses her grip and lands with a thud, freeing cinematographer Brian Rigney Hubbard to flash forward to a concert hall, where, a year later, Jude (Katherine Hughes) is practicing for a scholarship audition. She’s doing so under the stern watch of her tutor, Professor Murphy (Bryan Batt), who also coached the woman killed in the fall, Emily Foster.  Because she was a nonpareil violinist. Jude and Murphy are still tormented by the loss. It manifests itself in the teacher’s frustration over Jude’s sudden disinterest in matching Emily’s skills and pursuit of the scholarship. Meanwhile, back at the  house she shares with  several boy-crazy roomies, Jude soon will be required to choose between her caddish boyfriend and a hunky neighbor, who doesn’t bother to close his shades before bedtime. She becomes fixated with her new neighbor, in the same way that Jimmy Stewart became fixated with on his cross-courtyard neighbors in Rear Window (1954). Despite this development, nothing exciting happens between Emily’s fall and the moment the carnage begins, effectively turning Shaye’s psychodrama into a splatter flick. But, wait, there’s more. Regardless of the fact that the bloodshed diffused any hope for a more satisfying climax, 10-15 minutes earlier, Ambition muddles along, anyway.  It doesn’t help, either, that Katherine Hughes isn’t credible as a concert pianist or killer. False endings don’t tend to work, unless the director and scripters know what they’re doing. On the plus side, don’t miss the 15-second cameo by Lin Shaye – Bob’s younger sister – who’s created more monstrously hilarious characters than Lon Chaney.

Werewolf in a Girls’ Dormitory: Blu-ray+CD Combo
Byleth: The Demon of Incest: Blu-ray
When it comes to irresistible titles, at least, Severin was a cinch to win last month’s pre-Halloween competition. Following in the wake of Luigi Cozzi’s Paganini Horror (1989) – an Italian oddity that merged classical music and demonic horror – the niche distributor’s October ended with Paolo Heusch’s Werewolf in a Girls’ Dormitory (1961) and Leopoldo Savona’s        Byleth: The Demon of Incest (1972). Cossi’s rarely seen ode to the composer/violinist who sold his soul to the devil was sold in Argentina, as “Melodía de horror,” and in Europe, as “The Killing Violin.” Likewise, Heusch’s euroshocker began its cinematic life as the tame, if descriptive “Lycanthropus,” but was marketed to international audiences as “Monster Among the Girls,” “The Ghoul in School” and “Monster Among the Girls.” In an informative interview included in the bonus package, the stunningly versatile screenwriter and sci-fi novelist Ernesto Gastaldi, under the nom de plume Julian Berry, describes how he was recruited to the “Lycanthropus” project by producers who wanted their own I Was a Teenage Werewolf (1957) and I Was a Teenage Frankenstein (1957). Gastaldi had already penned the gothic horrors, The Vampire and the Ballerina (1960) and Guns of the Black Witch (1961), but he never felt comfortable in the subgenre. He quickly moved on to writing low-budget historical adventures, sword-and-sandal epics, Italo-horror, gialli, psycho-sexual flicks, Westerns and sci-fi action, typically under an Anglicized pseudonym. The Italy/Austria co-production, Werewolf in a Girls’ Dormitory, combined elements of early giallo, Italo-horror and German krimi, at a time when American drive-in culture was spreading across the world. Typically, such crossbreeding results in movies that can’t carry the weight.

Somehow, though, Werewolf in a Girls’ Dormitory turned out to be surprisingly entertaining and it still is. This isn’t to say that it belongs in anyone’s hall of fame, just that Italo-horror completists should get a kick out of it. Not that it matters all that much, but’s tough to tell if Werewolf in a Girls’ Dormitory is set in an Italian reform school or an Austrian finishing school for aspiring beauty queens. (The female lead is Polish actress Barbara Lass, who, in 1958, became Roman Polanski’s first wife, as Barbara Kwiatkowska.) The girls don’t appear to be constrained by bars or shackles, and they have no problem sneaking out whenever the mood hits. Upon the arrival of the school’s handsome new teacher, Dr. Julian Olcott (Carl Schell), the student body is engaged in rudimentary calisthenics. Almost all the girls take notice of his presence and, of course, he reciprocates. It creates a psycho-sexual dynamic that could lead in a dozen different directions. Almost immediately, Julian is drawn into the mysterious death of a young woman, who chose the night of a full moon to sneak out of the dorm and meet her elderly lover (Maurice Marsac) in the forest. Tired of his neediness, she’s been using his mash notes to blackmail. On her way back to the school, the comely lass is ravaged by a beast we recognize to be a werewolf. The authorities aren’t ready to sign off on that possibility, however. Another student, Priscilla (Lass), had witnessed the victim sneak out of the dormitory, directly under the nose of the headmistress, who has no business being in the courtyard, at night, by herself, either. Penelope suspects that her classmate was blackmailing someone of importance at the school and she convinces Julian to help her recover the evidence before the headmaster, headmistress, philanderer and his creepy co-conspirator beat them to it. If, at first, no one dares suspect the presence of a lycanthrope, their reservations will change soon enough. In fact, though, the search for the letters and further attempts to blackmail the geezer will become less absorbing than the horror aspect, which also diverges from the werewolf legend, leaving even more suspects than were previously identified. Like “Teenage Werewolf,” Werewolf in a Girls’ Dormitory succeeds despite special-makeup techniques that hadn’t evolved much since 1940, when Lon Chaney Jr. assumed the role of “Larry Talbot: the Wolfman.” Armando Trovajoli’s eerie score, which complements the spooky scenes in the forest, is included in the package as a separate CD. The Blu-ray also offers an alternate opening sequence to the film, which benefits from a fresh 2K restoration.

Byleth: The Demon of Incest (a.k.a., “Trio der Lust,” “Les démons sexuels”) tips its hand in the title, well before the demon Byleth makes his presence known towards the middle of the story. Co-writer/director Savona borrowed the title character from the 16th Century grimoire, Pseudomonarchia Daemonum (“False Monarchy of Demons”), which contains a list of demons, alongside the appropriate hours and rituals to conjure them. Number 20, King Byleth, is a monstrous king of hell, who has 84 legions of demons under his command. He rides a pale horse and is preceded by music of all kinds. I may be wrong, but that description sounds as if it would make a terrific genre picture. Somewhere between Byleth: The Demon of Incest’s Italian release on May 31, 1972, and its German launch in 1975, as “Trio der Lust,” the film lost 14 of its original 95 minutes. (It only found its way across the Atlantic in 2005.) The excised material contained elements deemed unnecessary, by executives who feared that the licentious material was getting lost in the dialogue. They wanted more giallo-style violence,  voyeurism and female nudity, including that of a maid, played by Caterina Chiani (Excuse Me, Padre, Are You Horny?), who appeared in several Italian softcore films in the 1970s. Otherwise, the story belongs to the incestuous siblings, Duke Lionello (Mark Damon) and his recently married sister, Barbara (Claudia Gravy), who’ve been corrupted by Byleth’s curse ever since they were children. Set in 19th Century Italy, the film takes off after Lionello “welcomes” his sister and her new husband, Giordano (Aldo Bufi Landi), back to family’s estate after their trip to England. Having to share his sister with Giordano has driven the duke into a fit of murderous rage, which he works out on local prostitutes and women visiting the villa, which is truly impressive. With the arrival of Byleth and his pale horse imminent, Barbara no longer is able to resist Lionelle’s charms and he expects to be forced into a battle for his soul with the demon and, likely, Giordano. The 80-minute version of the film probably could have benefited immensely – in its Blu-ray iteration, at least – from the replacement of the lost sequences. The nudity, while welcome, can’t overcome the abridged product’s lack of coherency The Severn Films package features a 2K scan from the negative elements discovered recently in a Madrid lab vault.

Art of Deception
The best that can be said about Richard Ryan and co-writer Michael Marcelin’s terribly undernourished actioner, Art of Deception, is that Simone Cilio’s soundtrack has been honored by judges at a handful of niche festivals; the California scenery almost covers the holes in the narrative; and the protagonist’s wife, played by Jackie Nova (Tamales and Gumbo), looks great, even while she’s hanging from a wooden beam in her black-leather outfit. Otherwise, the film resembles a vanity project done in by a nonsensical script and chase scenes that go nowhere. Get this: after inadvertently contributing to a CIA plan for world domination through mind control, agency scientist Joseph Markham (Ryan) is forced to choose between saving the lives of billions of people or giving in to the forces of taxpayer- financed evil. At the last moment, he makes a split-second decision that results in a CIA manhunt orchestrated by the agency’s deputy director Roland Smith (Leon van Waas). After he eludes arrest and certain death, Valentina (Nova) is kidnapped, interrogated and brutally tortured by sadists with badges. Naturally, Markham attempts to defy the odds by rescuing his wife – who is, by no means, helpless – from a black-ops site that looks as porous as the basements of most public schools or hospitals. The trick ending reveals some imaginative plotting, but not enough to salvage what’s happened before it. The curious thing is that Ryan is a veteran multihyphenate, who also founded Ox Films, which is as close to a vanity production studio as these things get. So far, it’s made three feature films (Fortune 500 Man, Natural Demise), a documentary (The Experience and the Fallen: Scott Wilson’s Story) and a dozen shorts, most of them written, directed by and/or starring Ryan. As low as their budgets have been, they still cost money to make. He either won the lottery or has wealthy friends. The DVD adds “The Making of Art of Deception” and coverage of its red-carpet screening at Sony and premiere at Landmark’s Regent Theater.

Humble Pie: Life and Times of Steve Marriott
Because of his untimely accidental death in 1991, at 44, Steve Marriott’s substantial contributions to the second wave of the British rock invasion have largely been forgotten. At the same time, however, dozens of his peers and collaborators have been immortalized by classic-rock stations, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and stops on the rock-revival circuit. Although Marriott’s stellar singing voice is still heard whenever a song by the Small Faces and Humble Pie is played on the radio, his legacy largely died in the fire that killed him at his 16th Century cottage in Arkesden, Essex. In 2012, the singer-guitarist was inducted posthumously into the Hall of Fame, if only as a member of Small Faces. (Boomers may remember the band best for the imaginative cover of its 1968 concept album, “Ogdens’ Nut Gone Flake,” as well as  such hits as “Itchycoo Park,” “Lazy Sunday,” “All or Nothing” and “Tin Soldier.”) Shortly after leaving Small Faces, in 1969, Marriott joined the newly formed rock band Humble Pie, with Peter Frampton, drummer Jerry Shirley and bassist Greg Ridley. It became known as one of the first supergroups and found success with such songs as “Black Coffee,” “30 Days in the Hole,” “I Don’t Need No Doctor” and “Natural Born Bugie.” Marriott would continue to join new bands and re-form his previous outfits on a regular basis, until 1990, all the while battling relationship and substance-abuse issues. Cleopatra Entertainment and MVD Visual’s rockumentary, “Humble Pie: Life and Times of Steve Marriott,” goes a long way toward restoring Marriott’s luster. It includes separate Blu-ray and standard-definition discs, and an audio CD soundtrack in a six-panel digipak. It showcases interviews with Frampton, Shirley and Ridley; the Black Crowes’s Chris Robinson; Rick Nielsen and Bun E. Carlos, of Cheap Trick; John Waite; Bad Company/Free drummer Simon Kirke; Quiet Riot’s Kevin Dubrow; the Blackhearts’ Ricky Byrd; and Marriott historian John Heller.

TV-to-DVD
Amazon: Good Omens: Blu-ray
Paramount: Yellowstone: Season 2: Blu-ray
Anyone who’s made it through the first two seasons of Starz’ extremely challenging “American Gods” and Fox/Netflix’s “Lucifer,” without throwing their cellphone at their television set, is the target audience for Amazon Prime’s even more complex mini-series, “Good Omens.” The common denominator is their relationship to the works of British fantasist, Neil Gaiman. The Portsmouth native is the author of short fiction, novels, comic books, graphic novels, nonfiction, audio theater and films. They include the graphic-novel series, “The Sandman,” and novels, “Stardust,” “American Gods,” “Coraline” and “The Graveyard Book.” He has won numerous awards, including the Hugo, Nebula, and Bram Stoker awards, as well as the Newbery and Carnegie medals. In 2013, “The Ocean at the End of the Lane” was voted Book of the Year in the British National Book Awards. Think Stephen King, only darker and less linearly inclined. “Good Omens” is based on the 1990 novel of the same name by Gaiman and Terry Pratchett. The six-episode series was created and written by Gaiman, who also served as showrunner. “Good Omens” features an ensemble cast led by David Tennant, Michael Sheen, Adria Arjona, Miranda Richardson, Michael McKean, Jack Whitehall, Jon Hamm and Frances McDormand, as the voice of God. Set in the present day, Sheen plays Aziraphale, a white-haired angel who has lived on Earth since the dawn of creation. He was tasked with guarding the Garden of Eden with a flaming sword, but he failed to notice the serpent in the apple tree. He loves the finer things and currently owns an antiquarian bookstore in London. David Tennant is Crowley, a hipster demon with flame-orange hair, who’s also has lived on Earth since he was tasked with tempting Eve with the apple from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Like Aziraphale, he wants to remain on Earth. Among the finer things with which he’s obsessed is a classic black 1926 Bentley, which is cherry and nearly indestructible. With only 11 years to go before Armageddon, Crowley is told to deliver the Antichrist to a satanic convent, where the baby is destined to be adopted by an American diplomat and his family. Instead, a mix-up occurs, sending the boy to a middle-class English family. Aziraphale and Crowley commit their combined strengths to talk the boy, Warlock, out of setting off Armageddon. All of that takes place in Episode One, before the real craziness begins and the forces of good and evil battle for control of the afterlife. While I can’t imagine how Gaiman managed to put together such a large and talented cast of familiar actors from both sides of the pond. I suppose that Amazon’s deep-pocketed approach to programming coups helped. The Blu-ray adds interviews, making-of and background material.

Yellowstone” may owe its very existence on the success of “Dallas” and its creation of archetypal characters, who, while deeply flawed, found ways to make us love and forgive them their trespasses. Its greatest departure from the straight-and-narrow path to the top of the Nielsen ratings involved CBS’s willingness to make the series’ protagonist its loathsome antagonist, as well. On previous Western-set dramas, the head of the household was bound by certain rules of behavior and moral and ethical codes. “Dallas” made “Bonanza,” “The High Chaparral,” “The Big Valley,” “Daniel Boone” and “The Virginian” look like “Mr. Rogers on the Range.” It did so without crossing the boundaries limiting nudity, promiscuity and graphic violence on network TV. Skip forward 30 years and “Yellowstone”  has been allowed to cross those barriers and then some. Kevin Costner plays family patriarch, rancher John Dutton, as if he were J.R. Ewing, minus the oil royalties and sardonic sense of humor. As near as I can tell, Dutton’s Yellowstone ranch borders a solvent Indian reservation, a national forest and resources that outside interests are determined to exploit. In the first season, much time was devoted to deciphering how the Dutton family could possibly be as messed up as the Ewings and still be allowed to live in God’s country, which the Dallas/Ft. Worth Metroplex certainly isn’t. Each of the characters carries as much baggage as any two of the Ewings combined. In Season Two, the flock has come home to roost … temporarily, at least. Two different plans to build a casino/resort on Native American land, bordering the national park, have raised the specter of a range war and an environmental catastrophe. Meanwhile, a different group of outsiders commits itself to cutting into the Yellowstone ranch’s vast resources. Because Dutton won’t deal or budge, he’s forced to form an alliance with people he would otherwise consider to be enemies. The opposition is led by characters played by Danny Huston, Gil Birmingham, Neal McDonough and Terry Serpico. What Season Two lacks in nudity is more than made up for in extremely graphic violence and unconscionable behavior on the part of grown men and women. Just as Dutton provides the glue that holds his family together, so, too, does Costner keep the subplots and unlikable characters from spinning out of control. It’s one of those manly-man roles he was born to play. The Blu-ray adds on-set footage, a 30-minute behind-the-scenes “journey,” backgrounders with each episode, deleted scenes, an array of candid interviews with cast and crew members and other goodies.

Cinderella and the Secret Prince
For some reason, Gold Valley Films and Shout! Factory have elected not to show much love to French writer Charles Perrault (1628-1703) for crafting the romantic fantasy, “Cendrillon” (a.k.a., “Cinderella”), from tales that date back through the ages. The story of Rhodopis, recounted by the Greek geographer Strabo sometime between around 7 BC and 23 AD, describes a Greek slave girl, who marries the king of Egypt, but not before he traces a sandal laid at his feet by an eagle to her home city of Naucratis. Written around 850 by Duan Chengshi, “Ye Xian” shares the critical elements of the “Cinderella” story, as well. The first literary European version of the fairy tale was published in Italy by Giambattista Basile in his “Pentamerone,” in 1634. In his animated classic, Cinderella (1950), Walt Disney gave due credit to Perrault, with assists by nine contemporary writers. Apparently, the creators of Cinderella and the Secret Prince took the fairy tale’s public-domain status as liberty to dispense with the name. Perrault probably wouldn’t have recognized it, anyway. Here, with the help of the good fairy Crystal, Cinderella and her three mouse friends are able to escape the attic they live in and make it to the Royal Ball. At the palace, they soon discover that the real Prince has been turned into a mouse by an evil witch. The “Prince” who’s hosting the party is an impostor. Cinderella and her faithful, furry friends must embark on an all-new adventure to restore the real Prince to his true form and help him defeat the forces of darkness.

 

Be Sociable, Share!

One Response to “The DVD Wrapup: Ophelia, Ambition, Werewolf in Girls’ Dorm, Byleth, Humble Pie, Good Omens, Yellowstone …More”

  1. thanks for the information

Leave a Reply

Dretzka

rohit aggarwal on: The DVD Wrapup: Ophelia, Ambition, Werewolf in Girls' Dorm, Byleth, Humble Pie, Good Omens, Yellowstone …More

https://bestwatches.club/ on: The DVD Wrapup: Diamonds of the Night, School of Life, Red Room, Witch/Hagazussa, Tito & the Birds, Keoma, Andre’s Gospel, Noir

Gary Dretzka on: The DVD Wrapup: Sleep With Anger, Ralph Wrecks Internet, Liz & Blue Bird, Hannah Grace, Unseen, Jupiter's Moon, Legally Blonde, Willard, Bang … More

Gary Dretzka on: The DVD Wrapup: Bumblebee, Ginsburg, Buster, Silent Voice, Nazi Junkies, Prisoner, Golden Vampires, Highway Rat, Terra Formars, No Alternative … More

GDA on: The DVD Wrapup: Bumblebee, Ginsburg, Buster, Silent Voice, Nazi Junkies, Prisoner, Golden Vampires, Highway Rat, Terra Formars, No Alternative … More

Larry K on: The DVD Wrapup: Sleep With Anger, Ralph Wrecks Internet, Liz & Blue Bird, Hannah Grace, Unseen, Jupiter's Moon, Legally Blonde, Willard, Bang … More

Gary Dretzka on: The DVD Wrapup: Shoplifters, Front Runner, Nobody’s Fool, Peppermint Soda, Haunted Hospital, Valentine, Possum, Mermaid, Guilty, Antonio Lopez, 4 Weddings … More

gwehan on: The DVD Wrapup: Shoplifters, Front Runner, Nobody’s Fool, Peppermint Soda, Haunted Hospital, Valentine, Possum, Mermaid, Guilty, Antonio Lopez, 4 Weddings … More

Gary J Dretzka on: The DVD Wrapup: Peppermint, Wild Boys, Un Traductor, Await Instructions, Lizzie, Coby, Afghan Love Story, Elizabeth Harvest, Brutal, Holiday Horror, Sound & Fury … More

Gary J Dretzka on: The DVD Wrapup & Gift Guide III: Venom 4K, The Super, Snowflake, Marie Curie, Gamechangers, Who We Are Now, 40 Guns, De Palma-De Niro,, Starman and more

Quote Unquotesee all »

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