TO: Hollywood

FROM: Todd Alcott

As of 2:00am, 8/7/08 —

Post on Labyrinth: 155 comments.
Post on Act V of Schindler’s List: 3 comments.



49 Responses to “MEMO”
  1. shocka says:

    Dude, that was Act V. If I’m not mistaken, that means there was four prior parts, and while everyone has seen and adored Schindler’s List, it’s one of those films. It’s great, we love it, it’s tough to watch, Best Picture, yadda yadda yadda. It’s been deconstructed a lot – even more than most Spielberg films, due to the crowd-pleasing anti-offensive Oscar-winning nature of the thing – but some dude coming out to bag Labyrinth? Sign me up!

    Labyrinth is one of those balls-awful pieces of garbage that everyone sees as a kiddlywink, then grows up with fond memories only to have them torn to shreds the second they start rewatching. (See also: The Dark Crystal, First Blood, John Hughes films, etc)

    It’s an antithesis to those cherished childhood films that are actually as damn good as you remember. (Back to the Future trilogy, Star Wars, Empire, Terminator and T-2, Raiders, etc)

  2. mcbrennan says:

    I tried to tell Spielberg it needed more upbeat 80s dance-pop. But no. Neeson likewise totally ignored my “bigger hair, more eyeshadow” note. You just can’t help some people.

    • Todd says:

      No no no, you’ve got it backwards. Schindler is Sarah and Goth is the Goblin King.

      Schindler is a young war profiteer dreaming his little dreams of fortune and glory. There are some Jews he’s been stuck with while the German army are gallivanting around Europe. He wishes to be rid of the Jews, and Goth hears his wish and grants it.

      Schindler instantly regrets his wish, and Goth appears in a big wig and grey stretchpants and makes him a deal: if he can get to his villa at Plaszow in 13 hours, the Jews will be saved.

      As Schindler negotiates the tricky logic of Goth’s fiendishly designed Nazi-occupied Poland, Goth, in his lair, sings “Dance, Baby, Dance” to the Jews while German soldiers cavort in the background.

      Later, it’s revealed that Goth never intended to harm the Jews, that they are merely a symbol of “responsibility” and that all the time Goth was really just a projection of Schindler’s mind, a symbol of a “first boyfriend” who designed the occupation of Poland as a ruse to keep Schindler from reaching his heart.

      You’re welcome.

      • Oh, thanks, now I’ve got the Auschwitz scene playing in my head accompanied by “Chilly Down.”

        Remember also, Schindler’s List did not feature David Bowie’s Area, which always brings a posting crowd . . .

        • pseydtonne says:

          So are you saying us Areaologists are failures as fathers, mothers to chaos?

          Yeah, I’m envious that Todd has “Oy Vey, Baby”.

          • Todd says:

            I snapped up Oy Vey, Baby during that delicate moment where it went from being $4.99 at the used CD store to being completely unavailable anywhere.

            • pseydtonne says:

              Tin Machine (I) was one of my favorite albums when I bought it on cassette in 1989. I was fourteen, which is when albums can infect you and you have all the time in the world for them. I loved Bowie before then but suddenly felt like he was talking to my generation for the first time. “Oh yeah, rock and roll.. I know a lot about that. What happens when I’m not experimenting and I just rock with a rock band? This…”

              I remember being trying to play cuts from Never Let Me Down on my radio show in college. I couldn’t get through “Time Will Crawl”, a song I used to sing to myself when I was shy of puberty. I had forgotten how much bad music a young person would suffer if there were video for it.

              I’m such a lousy former punk for admitting I never disliked Bowie, not even when I was hung up on the Dead Kennedys.

              Oh right, I was going to respond to this actual post! Lemme do that in another comment.

              • Todd says:

                The sad truth is that “Time Will Crawl” is one of the better cuts on Never Let Me Down — a “kick me” album title if there ever was one.

                • pseydtonne says:

                  Where does that leave poor “`87 and Cry”?

                  • Todd says:

                    Sadly, there is a Never Let Me Down b-side to the 12″-inch “Time Will Crawl” (is my Bowie-fan cred established yet?), “Julie,” which is a tight, unassuming little rocker, the best song of the lot, which, as far as I know, has never been released digitally.

                    EDIT: I stand corrected. It is available at iTunes. Thank you iTunes.

                    • jbacardi says:

                      Y’see, I think the title track is a smooth little soul track that wouldn’t have been out of place on Young Americans, and “Shining Star” is a hopped-up fun cut with a decent hook (it cracks me up when Bowie sings “Cher-no-beeel” in that falsetto). I like the ragged edge that “Day-In, Day-Out” has, too.

                      I think it’s better than Tonight and Black Tie White Noise by a far sight.

      • mcbrennan says:

        Wow, Todd, that was a real triumph of the…um…

        Great. Now I’m imagining The Muppet Diary Of Anne Frank. I think Miss Piggy’s presence will be in poor taste regardless.

      • ndgmtlcd says:

        I can’t imagine Goth smiling and saying “In nine hours and twenty minutes, you’ll be mine!”.

        (He would obviously be holding an enameled pot instead of a baby.)

        • Todd says:

          But can’t you imagine him sitting on his balcony railing, setting crystal balls out into the air, seducing Schindler with visions of masked balls?

  3. pseydtonne says:

    I don’t think Hollywood is going to be concerned with what generates comments in LJ. Then again, you’re the industry guy and I’m a Unix admin and tech support guy in the land of geeks.

    People have a lot to say about a bad movie like Labyrinth because it was once very popular (large sample audience), has a high cheese factor and doesn’t make a lick of sense. These three elements guarantee Internet noise because everyone will have a theory about what the nonsense thing really meant.

    I’ve read all of your Spielberg spiels, including every one of your posts about Schindler’s List, and loved them all. They’re good writing, they give a clear breakdown of character development and how that steers the plot. They are great explanations of the simple mantra you’ve been preaching since it was told to you: “What does the protagonist want?”

    One of the lessons of LJ, one that’s been hard for me to swallow when I want sympathy and don’t get much traffic, is that a complete and coherent thought has no place for comments. If you understand why you’re confused and you explain that, then no one has anything to offer you. If you solve the problem, everyone gawks for a few moments and moves on.

    People only get snared when they see something they want to say is missing from the base text. The tar baby is covered in tar, not crystal.

    Schindler’s List is a well-told story and you clarified it further. Rawk on. Labyrinth is a Dagwood-sized butt sammitch. The comments in that post show how hard everyone has tried to reconcile that movie ever getting green-lit. Everyone has a theory about the meaning of the baby and the Bad Boyfriend Postulate. Everyone desperately wants to reconcile a love of Bowie with a hatred for the movies that aren’t The Man Who Fell to Earth.

    Does that help? I love reading your posts — I just don’t always have a reason to sully them with Dante’s Got Another Effing Theory About Your Theory.

    • Todd says:

      Thank you for your concern. I’m not truly hurt by the Labyrinth/Schindler popularity contest, only amused. Who knew there was an audience out there, just waiting for someone to offer up some Labyrinth commentary?

      The only other thing I’d like to point out is that Labyrinth was, in no way, “very popular,” at least not upon its original release. It was, in fact, a dismal failure. Box-office wise, Schindler kicked Labyrinth‘s ass around the block.

    • Todd says:

      Oh, and I have massive problems with The Man Who Fell To Earth, too.

      • pseydtonne says:

        It’s still more together as a movie than The frickin’ Hunger.

        • Todd says:

          I just found a jujube stuck to the bottom of my shoe that’s more together as a movie than The Hunger.

          • But I bet it doesn’t have any lesbian vampires in it. Or Bauhaus.

            (Or maybe it does. Has anyone seen Peter Murphy lately?)

            • Todd says:

              I’m a Hollywood screenwriter. I can put lesbian vampires in anything.

              • I knew it: Bloodrayne was a Todd Alcott joint!

              • Well, then! Let me know your next project, and I will totally be there.

              • mcbrennan says:

                A friend of mine recently wrote and directed a music video for an up-and-coming thrash-punk-metal-something band. And he had been hired based on his pitch to the band, which had been the elaborate story of an Iraq war veteran suffering from PTSD and expeiencing harrowing nightmares about the horrors of war. When he got to the set, the band said “yeah, we love that story, but it’s not what this song’s about. This song is about hot lesbian zombies.” Thankfully hot lesbian zombies are not that hard to turn up in LA on short notice.

              • jbacardi says:

                Let me know if you get hired to do the remake of Sound of Music– now there’s a film that needs lesbian vampires if any ever did!

          • popebuck1 says:

            Hey, hey, hey, The Hunger was an amazing movie that happened to last about five minutes. Those unfortunate extraneous scenes surrounding The Lesbian Vampire Seduction Scene, I assume, will all be deleted in the director’s cut.

            • Anonymous says:

              I am so with you. I don’t remember anything about that movie except how hot it was. (And that Bowie was in it.)

  4. craigjclark says:

    TO: Todd Alcott

    FROM: Craig J. Clark

    Watched Six Degrees of Separation for the first time last night and was pleasantly surprised when I saw your name pop up in the closing credits.
    I ran the movie back to the scene that I think you’re in, but wasn’t able to tell which actor was you since I’ve never seen your picture.

    Please advise.

    • Todd says:

      I am seen briefly, and mostly from behind, listening to Donald Sutherland telling a story in the lobby of the New York State Theater at Lincoln Center.

      Originally I had a line: “No sons?” But at the last moment the director changed the blocking and gave the line to another actor, who, I think, was supposed to be my date or something.

      If you wish to view my face you’ll have to rent The Hudsucker Proxy.

  5. gdh says:

    Schindler’s List doesn’t have David Bowie’s Package in the top-billed role.

  6. jdurall says:

    The obvious observation might be that your blog’s readership is far more interested in kicking a terribly-written movie around the block more than they’re wanting to say “Hmm… good point” about a critically-acclaimed “masterpiece.”

    I, however, choose to observe that Hollywood needs to cast Jennifer Connelly in everything.

  7. jbacardi says:

    I would have commented, but I have yet to see Schindler’s List, so I haven’t read any of what I’m sure is more excellent commentary. I plan to go back and read it, every part, if I ever screen the film. Pinky swear.

  8. stormwyvern says:

    I was hoping that a review of all five “Schindler’s List” posts would prove that the number were a little more balanced, but I didn’t even have to actually do the math to see that “Labyrinth” is still leading by leagues. In addition to the other potential explanations people have mentioned is the fact that “Schindler’s List” is a serious, well-crafted, important, successful, Oscar winning film. Not many people are going to debate that, possibly making for less discussion. “Labyrinth” is none of those things except maybe “well-crafted” and that’s only on the visual side. Possibly, “successful” too, but I don’t really know. It has problems to be sure and pointing those out can be a lot of fun. But some people still like it while some people detest it. And even if there doesn’t end up being a huge debate, it does kind of encourage people to throw in their two cents more than they would with a film that everyone already agrees is great.

  9. eronanke says:

    Labyrinth fans are clearly your blog’s demo.

  10. medox says:

    I admit I am part of the problem… and I regret nothing.

  11. Generally I find myself awed by your serious reviews such as Schindler’s List and find nothing nearly intelligent enough to add on.

  12. samedietc says:

    in addition to what shocka said above.

    of course, a lot of those comments on the Labyrinth post may have been lures to get you to spill what this project is.

    and who can resist offering suggestions for things to read/watch–and if you’re dealing with something as nebulous as “fantasy” you’re going to get a lot of widely varying suggestions, from fairy tale intrusions into a realistic world (e.g., The Secret of Roan Inish, maybe (many years since I’ve seen it)) to the secondary worlds of sword-and-sorcery (e.g., movies based on/derivative of Tolkien’s works).

    (Maybe some of the themes/plot-motivations that weren’t brought out in Labyrinth could have been worked out better by working in a changeling sub-plot–not only does the self-centered girl have to deal with the labyrinth and realize that she needs people/people need her/people want her (i.e., the Goblin King), but we could see this dynamic reflected in the disconnect the changeling faces from people. Then the movie can end with the more mature teenage girl replacing her still-self-centered changeling replacement.)

  13. autodidactic says:

    tangentially related

    Found this poking around tonight: David Bowie and the Occult.

    Don’t know. Thought it might give you a giggle.