Occasionally, in weak moments, I regret leaving Hollywood and abandoning my screenwriting ambitions. Then I find an angry note like this one, sent to my manager at the time about the girl who was ‘covering’ – reading and supposedly analyzing – scripts in her office.
As far as the coverage goes, someone should write coverage of these reader's reports. They are so smug, snotty and badly thought-out. Any decent English teacher would flunk most of these people on a ninth grade research paper. I don't even know where to begin, so I probably shouldn't. But she missed the point totally. She compares me to the “dreadful” Whit Stillman. Sorry, I take that as a compliment. Sophistication and smart characters freak her out. Well, send her a copy of the Beverly Hillbillies script. It's all intellectualized? Did she notice the over-the-top shouting match on New Year's Eve, or the tooth and claw fight scene between the father and son in Act III? Her comment that there's not enough reason for Joanna to be interested in Robert in the gallery irks me -- as Ben Hecht says, when it's two hot actors, the question is how, not why.
But there’s no reason go point by insipid, tedious point. The heart of the matter is -- and you know this as well as I do, if I revised this thing WITH HER, treating her like a movie director whose opinion actually meant something, and made every change she asked for until it was ABSOLUTELY PERFECT in her estimation ... the next dimwit we showed it to would have a whole other raft of idiotic opinions and I could spend another month fixing it for them ... and on and on until I had done a draft for every lame-ass moron in Hollywood (Which I think I may have actually done by now). To me, needless to say, this is a demented waste of time. Erin Martin is not going to be directing this movie. So her comments are utterly irrelevant ... and fortunately so. If it was up to her, I would never have gotten to see Metropolitan , Barcelona or The Last Days of Disco.
There's another whole essay I could write about the seduction of critiques. Almost any comment can seem valid, just by being written down. In fact it may be that almost any comment is valid, that anything can be said about anything. And not just regarding art. It works for people, too -- we're all slimy and honest and normal and weird and lazy and energetic and lucid and irrational and passive and violent and everything in between. You could say One Man Show has too much backstory, or not enough, or just the right amount and maybe all of those comments would be true ... or none of them. That's why, when one sees a particular comment actually written out with some sense of authority, one naturally goes... Hmmmmm, "that's actually kind of true" ... forgetting that an almost limitless number of other statements could give one exactly the same feeling. They're all "kind of true" . So finally the only "truth" that matters is what you think. All the great Hollywood moguls knew this ... which is why they didn't bother with focus groups. They just made movies. And they made Sunset Boulevard, not Before the Sunset; Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, not Mr. and Mrs. Smith. Those new movies suck because they were composed by committee. And no one could possibly think that’s an improvement.