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December 1st, 2003


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01:59 am - MOVIE RODEO ROUNDUP WITH SPATCH
Let's get down to it.
  • BAD SANTA.
    Oh holy Jesus. This movie is so wrong on so many levels and that's what makes it work. It's crude. And cruder. And even cruder, even after the initial shock of Billy Bob Thornton swearing at kids wears off. The fact that it keeps up the high standard of lowbrow really impressed me, but the best part is that this is done with a minimum of gross-out jokes. And every time the film threatens to teeter on the brink of good taste and fall back into a predictable, sappy, trite, easy Hollywood film, Terry Zwigoff and the writers veer it back on track. Even the ending, which seems a bit too pat, isn't a complete Hollywood finish with love conquering all, dysfunction cured and redemption all around and smiling everybodys everywhere. It also does not hurt things that Lauren Graham is adorable even in crudeness and Billy Bob Thornton is just a bastard. And my fears of "a kid" being in the film were carefully eased away -- while he never once reaches out and commands your sympathy in a heartstring-tugging fashion, you end up feeling for the weird little freak anyway. Amen.
  • ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND.
    It's Charlie Kaufman's latest, coming out next year. I caught the screenplay while rummaging around online, read it, and realized oh yeah, this thing is coming out soon. So I found the Quicktime trailer (right-click, "Save As" or else) and am jazzed up even more, and it's not just because they use ELO's "Mr. Blue Sky" in the trailer either. Okay, maybe that's part of it.

    I thought John Cusack was slated to play the lead (after Being John Malkovich and all) but it turns out Jim Carrey's doing it; he doesn't look too bad. Seems more of a Carrey performance between The Truman Show and Man On The Moon. Not gonzo and ass-talkery as in Ace Ventura, but not sappy like The Majestic. And, oddly enough, it seems there will be people with bad hair in it, as with other Kaufman-written films. Funny how it's the little things that you notice.

    Another odd bit: The title comes from a poem by Alexander Pope entitled "Eloisa to Abelard":
    How happy is the blameless vestal's lot!
    The world forgetting, by the world forgot.
    Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind!
    The story of Abelard and Eloisa ("Heloise" in some translations) is one of the earliest tragic tales of star-crossed lovers, who are kept apart by the most tragic of circumstances (Eloisa's uncle actually arranges for Abelard to be attacked and castrated. Yeah, that's pretty tragic.) Pope uses the true story for his heroic epistle; Kaufman for the title of a film -- and, incidentally, one of the puppet plays John Cusack performs in Being John Malkovich as well. I'm on to you, Charlie. I see your little obsession here.
  • CASABLANCA.
    Saw it again tonight. As always, saw it on the big screen (and, again, in a theater with a neon-rimmed clock to tell time -- oh how I miss the Amherst Cinema.) This time I saw it at the Brattle, which claims, as part of its enduring legacy, to have revived popular interest in Humphrey Bogart in the 50s and 60s by traditionally screening his films during Harvard exam time (I guess the practice caught on elsewhere, as did the "Bogie Cult" mentioned in the Brattle's website.) And as always I loved it. Even without the Bogie mystique it stands on its own as a great wartime story with all the ingredients: exotic locale, intrigue, curious supporting characters, and a bittersweet love affair. I could tell some of the young audience watching along with me in the Brattle hadn't seen the film before; their response to some of the less well-known but equally punchy lines in the script was genuine and honest. I like when I see this happen. Modern reactions to old film and other media means, well, it still works. I'm always so happy when I laugh out loud at an old comedy or react similarly to something long-forgotten in a book or work online. That's what counts.
  • MASTER AND COMMANDER: THE LONGEST MOVIE TITLE EVER TO BE CRAMMED INTO A GODAWFUL URL.
    The film is nowhere near a masterpiece and as close to a #1 film as a #5 film can get, but that didn't mean the PR folks gave up, oh no! This is what they got on a television ad recently: "THE NUMBER ONE MOVIE in the hearts of critics and audiences is MASTER AND COMMANDER: MY BUT WE JUST COULDN'T AGREE ON WHICH TITLE TO USE SO WE USED 'EM BOTH." Ok, so I paraphrased a bit at the end, but that's not the point: The point is that somebody's Presidential campaign ought to snap these PR folks up and snap 'em up NOW because that's the best goddamned bit of spin I've seen in a LONG time.
  • ROY "THE MAN" DISNEY SOCKIN IT TO EISNER OH BOY HOWDY
    Oh my god, if this ain't cathartic I don't know what is. Roy Disney, nephew of Walt and the last family link in his namesake's conglomerate, resigned today and it's a freakin BLOWOUT. None of that happy-crappy "off to pursue other endeavors, wish everybody the best of luck" crap or even a "I'll just be brief here", oh no. He's PISSED and he's letting Michael "Blood-Grubbing Stone Squeezer" Eisner have it with both barrels. Roy basically calls for Eisner to step down, too. I don't see it happening, but oh my god. The letter. THE LETTER. Roy's resignation letter, which I'm including below the cut, is a thing of beauty. It could very well be the best resignation letter ever. Free from corporate euphemism and spin. You can tell it's breaking his heart to do this because he loves the company and what it used to stand for. It shows in his laundry list, where he just takes Eisner to task (numbers 3 and 4 are especially important to me.) It shows in his defiance and refusal to keep the Pixie Dust flying as he takes his hat and coat and says "Good Day, Sir." I love it. Oho how I love it. God bless you, Roy.


November 30, 2003

Mr. Michael D. Eisner, Chairman
The Walt Disney Company
500 South Buena Vista Street
Burbank, CA 91521

Dear Michael,

It is with deep sadness and regret that I send you this letter of resignation from the Walt Disney Company, both as Chairman of the Feature Animation Division and as Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors.

You well know that you and I have had serious differences of opinion about the direction and style of management in the Company in recent years. For whatever reason, you have driven a wedge between me and those I work with even to the extent of requiring some of my associates to report my conversations and activities back to you. I find this intolerable.

Finally, you discussed with the Nominating Committee of the Board of Directors its decision to leave my name off the slate of directors to be elected in the coming year, effectively muzzling my voice on the Board -- much as you did with Andrea Van de Kamp last year.

Michael, I believe your conduct has resulted from my clear and unambiguous statements to you and the Board of Directors that after 19 years at the helm you are no longer the best person to run the Walt Disney Company. You had a very successful first 10-plus years at the Company in partnership with Frank Wells, for which I salute you. But, since Frank's untimely death in 1994, the Company has lost its focus, its creative energy and its heritage.

As I have said, and as Stanley Gold has documented in letters to you and other members of the Board, this Company, under your leadership has failed during the last seven years in many ways:

1. The failure to bring back ABC Prime Time from the ratings abyss it has been in for years and your inability to program successfully the ABC Family Channel. Both of these failures have had, and I believe, will continue to have, significant adverse impact on shareholder value.

2. Your consistent micro-management of everyone around you with the resulting loss of morale throughout this Company.

3. The timidity of your investments in our theme park business. At Disney's California Adventure, Paris and now in Hong Kong, you have tried to build parks "on the cheap" and they show it, and the attendance figures reflect it.

4. The perception by all of our stakeholders -- consumers, investors, employees, distributors and suppliers -- that the Company is rapacious, soul-less, and always looking for the "quick buck" rather than the long-term value which is leading to a loss of public trust.

5. The creative brain drain of the last several years, which is real and continuing, and damages our Company with the loss of every talented employee.

6. Your failure to establish and build constructive relationships with creative partners, especially Pixar, Miramax, and the cable companies distributing our products.

7. Your consistent refusal to establish a clear succession plan.

In conclusion, Michael, it is my sincere belief that it is you who should be leaving and not me. Accordingly, I once again call for your resignation or retirement. The Walt Disney Company deserves fresh, energetic leadership at this challenging time in its history just as it did in 1984 when I headed a restructuring which resulted in your recruitment to the Company.

I have and will always have an enormous allegiance and respect for this Company, founded by my uncle, Walt, and father, Roy, and to our faithful employees and loyal stockholders. I don't know if you and other directors can comprehend how painful it is for me and the extended Disney family to arrive at this decision.

In accordance with Item 6 of Form 8-K and Item 7 of Schedule 14A, I request that you disclose this letter and that you file a copy of this letter as an exhibit to a Company Form 8-K.

With sincere regret,

(Roy Disney signature)

cc: Board of Directors

(4 comments | Leave a comment)

Comments:


From:thufir_hawat
Date:December 1st, 2003 09:48 am (UTC)
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Holy shit. You're right. Best resignation letter ever.

But it's sad to see another one of the last defenders of the 50s Corporate Responsibility value system ride off into the sunset.
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From:cheezdanish
Date:December 1st, 2003 06:19 pm (UTC)
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GO GO ROY DISNEY GO GO!

Seriously, I'd already read that letter yesterday, but Wooo Doggies. I hope this is the beginning of a snot storm that none of the big wigs survive. I mean, ALL the studio big wigs. I hope that this will get them all shook up, as it were.
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From:daisyglaze
Date:December 1st, 2003 08:09 pm (UTC)

GREAT letter.

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Very refreshing to read.
P.S. Eternal Sunshine also has David Cross. :)
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From:skatiemom
Date:December 2nd, 2003 01:26 am (UTC)
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Stanley P. Gold has also resigned from the board, here's a link to his letter. It should be interesting to see how things shake out.

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