After Christian (Bale’s) funeral, I began lamenting some of my decisions at the production studio. “Maybe I shouldn’t have asked him to gain 150lbs,” I said.
“You’re one arrogant son of a bitch,” Jeffery Greco said.
“Don’t blame me for his death!” I replied. “Chris could’ve turned down the role!”
Kat was two sheets in the wind when she spoke up. “I’m finished in this town,” she said. “Because of you, I’ll never work again.”
“Lay off the sauce, Kat,” I said. “Now pour me a drink.”
“There’s no way we can release the film now,” Kat continued. “$7 billion down the toilet!”
“Now calm down!” I interrupted. “We’ll just have to do some reshoots. I’ll step in for Chris’s role. I’m an Academy Award-winning actor too, ya know?”
“Hold on there bucko,” Greco said. “There ain’t no way the studio will let you back on the set. Not after the lawsuit with Dallas and killing your leading man. That’s to say nothing about the numerous investigations into your international holdings!”
“If the film’s gonna be completed,” Kat said, “then your assistant, Pee-Wee, will finish production.”
“Well that Machiavellian son of a bitch,” I said. “I knew he had an ulterior motive.”
“Since we are 90% finished with filming, we’ll use CGI to complete Chris’s scenes,” explained Kat. “That will considerably jack up the budget, but we have no other choice.”
“Then I guess I’m fired,” I said as I stood up. “But I still want full credit for directing this picture.”
“Not happening,” Kat replied.
“Kat, you’ve crossed me for the last time,” I said. “I’m going to the Director’s Guild. If you want a court battle, you’ve got one sister!”
“Are you sure you don’t want to do another take?” Christian (Bale) asked.
“Nope, one is enough,” I said.
Jimmy Del Greco spoke up. “Chris is right,” he said. “You need to do more takes. At the rate we’re going to be seven months ahead of schedule.”
“Hey Jimmy,” I replied, “the donuts are over there. Why don’t you manage the crew while I handle the directing, okay?”
“Do another fucking take,” Kat interrupted. “We’re already $3 billion over budget. We built sets, you rewrote the script, tore the sets down, and now we’re in Bidwell Park with a one-man cast, no sets , and a minimal crew. We could’ve shot this thing for $1 million! Let’s get our money’s worth out of this thing!”
“Kat,” I replied, “you’re the money person, I’m the artist. I know what I’m doing, mmmk? Trust the process.”
Pee-Wee the Production Assistant came running up to me. “Dallas San Antonio Houston is here to see you sir,” he said.
“Thank you Pee-Wee. You’re the only one that listens around here.”
I excused myself to the production trailer. Dallas was pacing back and forth. “What the hell is going on?” he asked.
“Relax Dallas,” I said. “Take a seat.”
I offered him a glass of brandy, which he declined. I drank both glasses myself.
Dallas was livid. “Why is a 350lb Christian Bale running around naked in Bidwell Park?” he asked. “This was supposed to be a courtroom drama. My magnum opus! You completely re-wrote the script!”
“So I took some creative liberties with the script,” I replied. “I might’ve changed it from a courtroom drama into a man-against-nature story a la The Naked Prey. But ask yourself this: what’s the difference between a story about truth and justice and a story about one man’s survival in the woods while his cock flops around? They’re the same thing thematically! It’s still your script.”
“I think you’re trying to abuse the system for your own gain.”
“Dallas, I have more money than I know what to do with. I own governments that I didn’t even know about. Did you know that the EU is investigating me for extorting the Russian government? Can you believe that shit? So what’s $2.5 billion to me?”
“I’ll go to the Guild about this.”
“Listen to me. You don’t want to do that. If you do, that will delay the release and a lot of people’s money and careers are dependent on the success of this film. I’ll tell you what, I’ll cut you a check for $500,000,000 right here. Or how about Trinidad and Tobago? I’m not offering you a trip there, I’m offering you the country of Trinidad and Tobago.”
“You’re disgusting. You think you can bribe me out of this?”
Before Dallas could respond, Pee-Wee ran into the trailer. “Christian (Bale) collapsed!” he yelled. “Call an ambulance!”
“This Tastes Like Ass is obviously a modern classic,” said Bryce Howard Dallas Antonio, the screenwriter, “but I think it lacks the nuances of some of the earlier postmodern classics from David Lynch and Martin Scorsese.”
Dallas showed up to the pre-production meetings wearing a tweed jacket, a derby, and a walking cane. I wanted to smash that cane right onto his dick.
Sets were going up. I had enough on my plate. But Dallas insisted on following me around.
“Do you like David Lean?” he asked.
“Yeah, he was hott.”
“What’s your biggest influence?”
“I don’t know. Alcohol?”
I was signing papers left and right. I was too busy to listen to this shit. After Dallas called Smokey and the Bandit the most overrated movie of the 70s, I grabbed him by the jacket.
“Listen here shitwad,” I said, “you’re right out of film school. You know who I am? Google my name. I may have diabetes, cirrhosis of the liver, and a venereal disease that doesn’t have a name, but I can still kick your ass. So listen to my advice grasshopper, watch your ass!”
The executive in charge of production, Jimmy Greco, saw what was happening and rushed out of his office. He waddled his fat, Jerry Stiller-lookin ass right up to my face. “You can’t touch the screenwriter!” he screamed. “That’s against WGA rules!”
He then straightened out Dallas’ jacket and ran a hand through his hair. Afterwards, he pointed his finger at me. “Listen here buster,” Jimmy said, “if you pull a stunt like that again, I’ll have your ass!”
“Oh you want my ass?” I replied. I dropped my pants. “You want my cock too?” I turned around and started twirling my penis.
“You’re a fool,” Jimmy said.
“I’M the fool? The only fool here is that idiot screenwriter!”
Jimmy escorted Dallas away. The cast and crew stood around gawking.
“Everyone back to work!” I yelled and pulled up my pants.
I took out a cigarette and walked up to Pablo. “Take it easy, James,” he said.
I lit up the cigarette. “How did the contract negotiations go?” I asked.
“Great!” Pablo replied. “You’ll be pleased to know that you’ll move up the billionaire’s list.”
“I’m a billionaire?”
“James, you’re one of the richest men in the world. You have real estate holdings all across the globe. You even own the deed to the Kremlin for fuck’s sake!”
“Isn’t that a bar in Tallahassee?”
I was having brunch with Brett Ratner when Kat slapped down a newspaper. The article read “NOTORIOUS FILM DIRECTOR EXPOSES PENIS…AND ASS…TO CAST AND CREW.”
I looked up to Kat and she began speaking in a monotonous, scripted voice. “The board wanted me to tell you that if you do that again, they will remove you from the project. Please be more considerate of the crew,” she said.
She never made eye contact.
“Kat,” I replied, “as you know, I run my sets a little differently. Besides, per our agreement, I was allowed to change the script so that the entire jury would be nude throughout production. Bare cock will be all over the set. What difference does one more make?”
“This is the position of the board and the production team,” she said, still refusing to make eye contact.
I shrugged. “Very well, will that be all?”
“That is all,” Kat replied and began walking away. Then she stopped. “There is one other thing…”
She turned around and looked me in the eye.
“We are already running over budget,” she continued. “We are having trouble securing funds from the European market. Would you be considerate enough to loan $900,000,000 to help cover pre-production costs?”
I thought for a moment.
“Sure I’d be happy to give you nearly a billion dollars,” I said. “But in return, I want to make more changes to the script.”
Pablo and I made the journey to Trainwreck Studios in Burbank. What a god-forsaken place. I swore to myself that I would never return.
“We’re here to see Kathleen Kennedy,” Pablo told the receptionist.
“And you are?”
“I’m Pablo Dunbar, the agent of James…”
The receptionist’s eyes widened when she saw my face. “You mean, James…”
“Yes, THAT James,” I interjected. “Tell Kat we’re here so that we can get this over with.”
“I thought you were retired…” she began to say as she stumbled through her words. “Anyway, she’s waiting for you. Fourth floor. The only way up there is through the air ducts. Elevator’s broken.”
So we climbed up the ducts into Kathleen’s office. “Damn it Kat,” I said, “when are you going to get that fucking elevator fixed?”
She turned around and was wearing sunglasses. She appeared to be somber over something.
“Hello James,” she said.
“Can I offer you gentlemen a glass of scotch?”
“I’ll take the bottle please.”
Kat sat down behind her desk and began to shuffle through some paperwork. Pablo and I plopped down in the leather chairs.
“So, what did you think of Antonio’s script?” she asked.
“To be honest Kat,” I said, “it needs some work. Too much talk. Film is a visual medium. ‘Show, don’t tell’ as they say. If I can do a second draft and clean up the dialogue…”
“James,” Kat interrupted, “Fart in a Windstorm is a court drama, there’s going to be a lot of dialogue. Besides, I already promised Antonio that he would get final say in the script.”
“Fine, whatever. But I need to put my stamp on it if this is going to be a film by James…”
“Look, I get what you’re saying,” Kat said. “But in agreement with the writer’s guild, he must get sole screenwriting credit. That’s going to put a limit on what you can do.”
I just stared at her.
“You don’t want to relinquish creative control to me,” I said. Out of my periphery, I could see Pablo getting uncomfortable.
“Don’t be ridiculous,” Kat replied, “the studio is willing to put $1.5 billion into this project ONLY if YOU are signed on to direct. Once when this meeting is made public, Hollywood will be in a tizzy over the return of its most famous director.”
“Kat, you know I can’t make a small scale courtroom drama for anything less than $2 billion.”
She learned forward on her desk as she began rubbing her temples. She appeared as though she was about to be sick. I took a big gulp from the bottle of scotch.
“What’s with the sunglasses?” I asked her. “Did you have eye surgery? Did your husband beat you?”
Kat removed the glasses, revealing her puffy red eyes and makeup smeared from crying.
“Jesus fucking Christ,” I said.
“We haven’t had a hit since This Taste Like Ass,” she said as tears rolled down her face. “The board wants me out. I’ve become the laughingstock of this town.”
“It’s no fun when the rabbit has the gun, eh?”
“James,” Pablo said. “Mrs. Kennedy, James and I are both in agreement that this script is doable. Sure, there are problems that need ironing out, but we are committed to making this work. Right James?”
I just shrugged.
“Really?” Kat said.
“Absolutely, the gang’s back together. Let’s have a drink on it!”
We all stood up and Pablo forced a group hug. Kat’s spirits seemed to have been lifted slightly.
As we were climbing back down the air ducts, I grabbed Pablo by the ankle. “You better not fuck me out of this contract like you did last time!” I told him.
I’ve always said that my dream job is to be a television writer for some dumb, formulaic show on basic cable.
This is because I’m not only lazy, but I’m also intrigued by entertainment that wants to have it both ways: it wants to display violence in a gritty, realistic manner while simultaneously ignoring the consequences. An example is SEAL Team and SWAT.
I find these shows delightful: many people die, friends get killed or mangled, yet every episode ends with the cast laughing over drinks or in despair over a romantic relationship. It’s completely hypocritical, it wants to show real violence while also numbing us from the true horror of it all.
But all of these programs have identical story beats: the team (SEAL or SWAT) causes disruption, a male lead is banging a female superior, the superior’s superior rips into her, the team is given an imperative to fix the issue, moral quandary ensues, some people die, the day is saved, the team slaps each other on the back, the female superior informs the male lead that their relationship can’t continue, male lead is sad, executive producer credit is shown. (Sometimes there’s a “B” story featuring a secondary character, but no one gives a shit)
These stories can be written sitting on the toilet. And I spend A LOT of time on the toilet.
So I was thinking about a conversation I had with my narcissist coworker. For the sake of this post, I’ll call him Dennis. It’s probably in my top 10 favorite conversations I’ve ever had.
The topic: some woman, Jane, who was allegedly a hoe-bag that once worked with Dennis (and always claimed he never messed around with).
The place: the toilet factory where we work. We use a lot of PPE, especially rubber gloves.
Of course, most of the conversation is paraphrased. But the parts said verbatim are in bold.
Dennis: I never fucked Jane.
Me: Did she suck your pp?
Dennis: No, but she sucked Tex’s pp, and Bob Dutch’s pp.
Me: But I thought you two worked on the same shift.
Dennis: yeah and one night I came in and she was sleeping naked on a cot we had back there. I turned the lights on and quickly turned them off. She said (mimicking a female voice) “oh sweetie don’t be embarrassed.” Then she asked me if I wanted to lay down with her and but I told her hell no.
Me: So you didn’t even fool around?
Dennis: she kept asking me if I wanted a blowjob, but because she sucked every guy off, I kept telling her no. Then she started badgering me, telling me that I wouldn’t know how to please her anyway. So finally I told her “alright, let me put some gloves on” and I went back to her cot.
Me: (laughing uncontrollably)
So Dennis started the convo initially denying he had sex with Jane, then a few moments later admitted to finger blasting her.
Moral of the story: Dennis’ story is probably completely fabricated, Jane probably wasn’t a hoe. Because I was such a good audience for Dennis, he probably thought he could take the story in any direction he wanted, despite the blatant contradictions, and he thought I would believe all of it.
That’s what a conversation with a narcissist looks like.
I’m glad that the films of Quentin Tarantino and Christopher Nolan are still considered events. Auteurism is dying in Hollywood but there are still remnants.
I’m not a fan of their films, but it’s still nice.
I know it’s heresy for film buffs to dislike Tarantino, but like Alabama in college football, his movies get evaluated by a different standard for better or worse. Even when it’s obvious that he didn’t put his best foot forward, like every movie he’s made in the last 15 years, Tarantino’s films get praised as if the film industry is about to go under. If you remove his name from most of his movies, you’d probably be wondering what the fuck you just watched.
Mind you, Pulp Fiction will stand the test of time. Jackie Brown should be better appreciated. Kill Bill Vol. I and II are what they are. But go back and watch Reservoir Dogs. It didn’t age well. Could this be the fate for all his retrospective reviews once when Tarantino retires from the biz (after he allegedly makes his “10th film”)?
Probably not, but I can hope.
I admit, Tarantino just isn’t my flavor. A perfect film, for me, transcends the medium. It’s gotta stick with me…reveal something about myself, about the universe, that I never realized. Tarantino the man, as reflected in his films, lacks that insight. He’s a film geek. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but that’s all that he’s capable of being.
I expect more out of films, not constantly getting nudged throughout a viewing, being reminded of some shitty Italian film from 40 years ago. Now I love schlock as much as the next guy, but art and schlock do not…cannot…mix.
Tarantino however wants to have it both ways. And that is a pipe dream.
He made a cool film once 30 years ago, most directors will never achieve that. But that doesn’t mean everything he’s made since has been a home run.
Really the same thing is true for Nolan. I personally think his success rate is greater than Tarantino’s. But Nolan probably thinks of himself as the Stanley Kubrick of mainstream blockbusters. That also screams trying to have it both ways.
But whatever dude, at least Insomnia, The Prestige, and The Dark Knight…the only superhero film I’ve ever liked…were damn good.
For whatever reasons, I’ve recently went through a David Fincher binge. And it occurred to me: I’m not a fan of his work.
That being said, The Game and Panic Room are his two best movies. Alien 3 is probably better than you remember. Se7en is alright.
Everything else is overrated. This includes Fight Club.
But The Game surprised me. It reminded me of one of my other favorite films: Roman Polanski’s Frantic. It’s hard to pull off these kinds of movies…watching a character descend into madness while information about what’s actually going on slowly leaks out.
Honestly, The Game doesn’t completely pull it off. Fincher’s visual style and Michael Douglas’s performance carry the film. But to completely enjoy it, one must ignore large plot holes and read more into subtext than what was probably intended (I assume).
I thought that Douglas’ character was suffering from the same madness that his father had and the ending indicated that “the game” was still being played. But I have the suspicion that this open ended interpretation bails out the script. In other words, Fincher’s direction saves the day.
As for everything else on Fincher’s resume, he seems to suffer from the same problem that Ridley Scott has: all style and the substance is overstated.
xXx is a film that came out 10 years too late. Bruce Willis would have fucking CRUSHED the role of Xander Cage.
Think about it: what if it xXx was directed by Renny Harlin or John McTiernan. Now those guys understand what action schlock is all about.
I don’t know why xXx sucks so much. Is it the script? The direction? Is it it’s leading actor?
Vin Diesel is proof that just because you look the part, doesn’t mean that you can play the part. Honestly, he is quietly one of the worst action stars I’ve ever seen. And it’s difficult to pinpoint why that is.
Is it because he’s not traditionally “good looking”? There are plenty of action stars that aren’t considered “good looking.”
Is it because he can’t act? To be a Hollywood leading man, having the ability to “act” is surprisingly low on the must-have list.
Is it because he doesn’t have a sense of humor? I think there’s something to this. I mean, Vin Diesel does have a sense of humor, but the joke is always on someone else and never on the absurdity of his character or the situation he’s in.
Being the butt of a joke is for other characters. Not for him.
Some action stars can get away with this. Steven Seagal for example. But the thing is that Seagal lacks the awareness to understand that he is the joke. Diesel is too smart for that.
So in xXx, Diesel comes across as a fucking asshole that I’m constantly rooting against.
Are some shows made to be played in the background while you do more important things?
The answer is yes.
White Collar is probably my favorite in this genre. I might’ve seen every episode. And I have no idea what it’s about…Two closeted FBI agents-one in a homosexual relationship with a conspiracy theorist, the other married to Kelly Kapowski-who conceal their feelings for one another which leads to palpable sexual tension as they investigate white collar crimes? 🤷♂️
If so, then the subject matter was ahead of its time.
Anyways, it’s a pretty inoffensive show. No nudity, no blood, few cuss words. Nothing grabs your attention. I put it up there with JAG, NCIS, And Matlock. It’s a good show to distract grandma from her impending death (despite the gay overtones).