Dear Bret Easton Ellis – If You Care About Your Future, Shut the F*ck Up

Now there is a movie on the horizon starring Lindsay Lohan.  Lohan is to Hollywood what Bret Easton Ellis has become to literature, although Lohan’s fate seems a bit more tragic. Both of them have been banking on power they once possessed when they were much younger. Ellis has a couple of good books under his belt but people have always thought of him as a gimmick. Lohan had promise. She hung out with the wrong crowd and then did some weird stuff to her face and now has become a free-for-all for media stoning.

Then there is the great Paul Schrader signing on as director. Don’t ask me what he’s doing getting involved in this. I won’t ask because I don’t want to know the answer. I know they’re going for a celebration of trash, a dirty kind of NOW, a Terry Richardson-esque B movie fantasy fest. A lot of people are probably going to love it. It might even become a whole cult on its own. I’m just wondering if this is really what  Ellis planned out for himself long ago.

I will give him this – he stands behind the crazy shit he says.  He doesn’t hide, like so many do in this generation of trolls.  They are puny giants who take extreme pleasure in saying what people should never say all the while hiding behind anonymity.  Ellis does no such thing. He lets his opinions fly and uses his own name. He doesn’t delete his truly repellent tweets afterwards either.  I admire that about him.  Despite being repulsed continually by his offensive vacuousness I haven’t unfollowed him on Twitter. I too like to watch the crazy. Hell, much of the time, I AM the crazy.

Michael Haneke’s “Amour” is what “On Golden Pond” would have been if it was directed by Hitler.

Michael Haneke is basically a strict and austere academic. “The White Ribbon” is great filmmaking with a kind of dumb thesis at its core.

Michael Haneke’s chilling formal “mastery” is always impressive yet always leaves me exhausted. “Amour” is undeniable but also a big trick.

Michael Haneke is that weird rarity: one of the world’s greatest filmmakers who has never made a great film.

The screening of Michael Haneke’s riveting “Amour” left me in a foul mood. It contains the most symbolic pigeon I’ve ever seen in a movie…

But here’s the price he pays for that – no one is going to want to see him succeed.  They don’t mind having a dark writhing creature back here in the dark where they can enjoy the pleasures of his subversiveness. It’s a whole other thing to bring it out into daylight.

Maybe  Ellis doesn’t care about PR and perhaps that makes him extremely admirable. But it is selfish. It is Clint Eastwood-like in its self-centered impulse to drag everything into the black hole of bad press. Sure, lots of people are talking about you but grease stains like that are permanent.

Of course none of this will matter if the film is good.  But if I were  Ellis I would grow the fuck up. I would stop living off the fumes of the ’80s bad boy image I’d cultivated for myself and I’d start realizing the sun doesn’t rise and set on the shit I take every morning. You know, just a thought.

29 Comments on this Post

  1. “But here’s the price he pays for that – no one is going to want to see him succeed.”]

    This may come as a shock but selfish-righteous, hypocritical statements like this are not making you very likable either. I don’t know too much about Easton Ellis but whatever your beef is with him, you are not making a very good argument here.

    Nor am I seeing any “crazy”.

  2. I will just qualify that the above pertains more to the Haneke quote than the trailer above. When one consider’s his career, Paul Schrader’s involvement really isn’t that suprising though.

  3. I’m sure there’s a way to do this, and to do it well. There’s talent in this project, it just needs to be put to good use. I’m not sure they care much about that, though, and perhaps that’s appropriate.

    I agree about Easton Ellis. He’s a douche, but the fact that he publicly airs his doucheyness affords him my respect, if only for that. I do, though, think he tries too hard to be too controversial, and I’m not sure he even agrees with what he’s saying much of the time. It’s like he’ll betray his own opinions for the sake of being inflammatory. He’s not even funny. Maybe that’s the point. If it is, I admire him for making his point so clearly, although he’s making it to a rather small audience, few of whom care. In the broad public consciousness, he’s a has-been.

  4. here’s the price he pays for that – no one is going to want to see him succeed

    selfish-righteous, hypocritical statements like this are not making you very likable

    Come off it. Sasha’s not having a go at him here. Now you’re being inflammatory. Bret Easton Ellis, is that you?

  5. I will give him this – he stands behind the crazy shit he says. He doesn’t hide, like so many do in this generation of trolls. They are puny giants who take extreme pleasure in saying what people should never say all the while hiding behind anonymity. Ellis does no such thing. He lets his opinions fly and uses his own name. He doesn’t delete his truly repellent tweets afterwards either.

    Have to say, I’ve seen Ellis tweet offensive things in the wee hours of the morning that vanish overnight — he cleans up his worst puke stains in the sobering light of the following day.

    But here’s an example of the sort of tweet he’s apparently proud to leave hanging out there:

    “This is the third time I’m giving ‘Breaking Bad’ a chance and yet the only thing I kind of want to do is bang the kid with cerebral palsy.”

    So if that passes his own smell test, you can only imagine the things Ellis writes in a drunken stupor* that he deletes from Twitter when he comes to his senses. Most of the disappearing tweets I recall have involved crude remarks he’s made after attending fancy Hollywood events.

    Ellis has learned a lesson from Truman Capote, whose tell-all novel Answered Prayers made Capote persona non grata among the society mavens upon whom he relied for his VIP invitations in the first place.

    *(No proof of his “drunken stupor” — I can only hope that’s his excuse.)

  6. steve50

    Easton Ellis is a dink, and not only for the Haneke remarks. Burnt-out and washed-up, he’s just trying to get attention, not that he was ever that great to begin with.

    And this thing holds no interest for me (OK, Deen as the “boy next door” with the “huge” talent made me snort, but that’s it).

  7. Sasha Stone

    This may come as a shock but selfish-righteous, hypocritical statements like this are not making you very likable either

    I don’t have a movie to sell with lots of other people involved.

  8. Sasha Stone

    Bret Easton Ellis, is that you?

    You know it totally is, lol.

  9. One of Ellis’ most endearing tics is how he refers to his boyfriend as “the 26-year-old” as in “I’m about to watch a movie with The 26-year-old.” or “The 26-year-old says… ” this or that about whatever.

    * by “endearing” I mean yuck.

    (I try not to think about how porn-star cum movie-star James Deen is now 26 years old.)

  10. I don’t know much about Ellis, but I find my views very aligned with his on Haneke. They do seem very academic, intent on pushing a thesis in a very austere way.

  11. caleb roth

    I don’t know about Ellis, but to bash Haneke based on his cruelty to characters in some of his movies is not exactly controversial. He has very vocal detractors, including Nanni Moretti and Emir Kusturica, for example. I haven’t seen Amour, but I’ve seen every other Haneke movies and what Ellis says in these tweets is not something absurd, IMO

  12. rufussondheim

    I have to say I agree with him about the annoyingness of Walt Jr on Breaking Bad, in the first three seasons he has far more bad moments than good. Bet then I would never phrase that as “bang the kid with cerebral palsy” unless of course he means have sex with him. I would rather he get banged against the wall.

    And it’s not because he has cerebral palsy, it’s because he’s kind of a drip. As much as I love Breaking Bad, Walt Jr is easily the worst written character on the show. His cerebral palsy is the only interesting thing about him.

  13. I would never phrase that as “bang the kid with cerebral palsy” unless of course he means have sex with him.

    hate to say, the way I read it, that’s exactly what Ellis means.

  14. Oh no!

    I really like Glamorama and American Psycho. Great books I read both 12 years ago.

    So Ellis is just a crazy has been according to who? How can he be a has been when the movie industry make movies out of his books

  15. Manuel — That’s ok. You can still admire a writer for great things he wrote in the past. Still leaves you free to evaluate how you feel about that writer based on his recent behavior.

    In the same way, I can respect a director for the great movies in his past, but I’m fre- — [self-deleted because I might be on the verge of saying something dickish.]

  16. Sasha,

    Is Ellis out to make money for the people investing in his projects? I mean, from where I’m standing his following isn’t that huge, his movies have hardly been what you would call runaway successes, and he seems to be just fine with that. And I’m not sure what enemies he makes by going after Haneke. A lot of people hate his movies, and it’s not like he’s making movies in LA.

    The fact is Ellis has been pissing people off for well over a couple decades. Most people stopped paying attention because he’s become increasingly irrelevant as a writer. So I’m not sure he’s really hurting his career any more or less than the passing of time has.

  17. Ellis seems awfully skilled at writing about people with underdeveloped moral consciences and anemic souls. It seems to be a preoccupation with him that suggests he suffers from the same. Maybe he’s a sociopath, twisting in the wind, begging for love and salvation or, at the very least, attention. And when he hasn’t gotten enough, he’s all snark and venom.

  18. steve50

    Well-said, JJ. My thoughts agree with you.

  19. I’ll just judge trailer…. Am I alone in that I REALLY wanna see this??

  20. robert k

    Wow! Post- Empire Productions? This looks like a Troma bit! Count me in!

  21. robert k

    Oh, and btw, as someone who had David Foster Wallace as a college instructor, I’ve had it up to here with snarky writers (and their critics). Ellis deserves our pity as much as our venom.

  22. rufussondheim

    Since this thread seems about dead, I will post my thoughts on Shame here.

    Damn, it’s good. Although I didn’t love the attempted suicide scene. I didn’t get how he sensed the danger. Perhaps if I watched it again, I would see it coming. But I trust McQueen so I overlook that potential issue for now.

    But overall the film that I will compare it most to is Half Nelson, although this cuts off a bit earlier in the character arc than that one does. I don’t consider it very ambiguous. Although I could see the arguement that he never gets better, that all of this horrific stuff he experienced in the previous days won’t effect him. But I would point out to counterargue his facial expression at the end of the threesome he was having that was his “rock bottom.” It was then that he truly understood where his trajectory was heading. Everything that happened after was just reinforcement.

    I could go on.

    And on.

  23. I thnk Shame is a remarkable film (becoming typical of McQueen) in that it only uses the sexual addiction mechanism to illustrate that “itch you can’t scratch” malaise that pervades our society. No matter what you do, how successful you are, how original or out of the box you try to be, nothing works. Sex, consumerism, career, relationships – all the same.

    It was brilliant to use that particular affliction because it is so taboo (therefore, exciting) and easily allowed McQueen to illustrate the hunger, the chase, brief ecstacy, then back into the gloom. Brave move.

    I’ve read where others say that Brandon hits bottom, but I don’t think he’s even close to bottom at the end. His disappointment gets deeper, but I don’t see any realization there. He’s still heading downward, I think.

    Maybe it’s just me, but I usually find a suicide ploy annoying and disruptive, and a bit of a cop-out. It also tends to demean the character, in my eyes. I didn’t have her pegged as suicidal, at all, but that would be the only flaw in that great film.

    And I’ll say it again, until the day I die – the best actor of 2011 was not even nominated for an oscar.

  24. rufussondheim

    I’m not sure how suicidal she was. Recall earlier that the boss saw scars on her arms and she responds “I was bored.” She was desperate and this attempt could merely have been yet another ploy to play on her brother’s emotions.

    I had no idea this was a movie about a sibling relationship. I’m glad I stay away from reviews of movies I want to see because I’m sure that would have been spoiled for me. But to find out Mulligan was his sister after that extended frontal nudity shower scene was disturbing and shocking. The relationship between the two is enormously complex and interesting and is just as important as his quote unquote sexual addiction.

    Perhaps I don’t know the definition of sexual addiction from a clinical standpoint, but he didn’t seem addicted as much as using it as an emotional escape. I know that’s a distinction that’s lost on many people, but it’s one I believe in here. I’m not sure that his behavior crossed over into addiction just yet. There were a couple of times he bahved as if he could take or leave sex such as the first night he went out with his boss. If he were an addict I think his behavior would have been different in several scenes (Recall Gosling in Half Nelson unable to resist the overture from Anthony Mackie towards the end of that film.)

    I’m not the type of person who extracts themes unless the director/writer are a bit more explicit that McQueen is here. But I see your first point above. I tend to focus on the personal and then see what that teaches us about human behavior. That could be discussing two sides of the same coin, but there’s a subtle difference.

    Not sure if you saw The Master yet, but it’s the perfect film to illustrate how I approach film differently than many. I didn’t find the Phoenix character to be realistic, so I couldn’t find any larger truths about human behavior in that character, and that caused me to reject large portions of the film. Other people didn’t have those issues.

    Getting back to Shame, I prefer to see this as yet another film that discusses the damage we suffer as children and how it carries into our adulthood. But this one does it in a way that’s extremely different than similar films such as You Can Count on Me (a film I love) This one is extraordinarily sophisticated and done with an emotional distance that’s pretty offputting. McQueen does not make it easy to like either character and his use of sexual behavior as aberrant behavior is probably foreign to most viewers. That he spends so much effort to push away the audience is exhilerating to me. It forces you to examine yourself in ways other movies don’t.

    I love both McQueen films I’ve seen now. He might even be my most favorite director working right now.

  25. I will see anything with a porn star trying to be a movie star. I am wholly supportive of this endeavor. Plus, James Deen is oddly appealing in a I-hate-myself-for-thinking-it kind of way.

  26. “He might even be my most favorite director working right now.” (McQueen)

    I’m just about to the point of pacing the floor, waiting for 12 Years a Slave. The tough subject matter to be tackled by a black director, especially one with McQueen’s insight into the psyche, will be something to behold. He’s working with the same cinematographer and editor as with Shame and Hunger, he’s got Fassbender and Pitt, plus Woodward, Wallis, Henry, Ejiofor, Dano and Cumberbirtch.

    I don’t anybody is aware that there is a freight train of a movie that’s heading our way next year.

    You’re right – he doesn’t make it easy. It shouldn’t be easy if it’s going to leave an impression, I don’t think. He’s able to keep your attention, sometimes with the most mundane things, and get his point across (such as the NY NY number in Shame or the washing of the hands in Hunger).

  27. rufussondheim

    For someone like myself who loves the written word, I find it ironic that two of my favorite directors (McQueen and Reichardt) use dialogue very sparingly.

    I got this thing on Netflix today and I stupidly sent it back already.

  28. People, do the research. It’s very easy to find out who the 25 or 26 yr old (now) is. It’s not James deen. Just click on the 25 yr olds twitter profile and there’s ayoutube interview link of an unattractive dark haired skinny twink. Not deen. BEE has been his bf for some time and he just recently turned 26. JD turned 26 back in feb. maybe Ellis fantasizes about his new pal as he is bi but so do lots of gay men even though he only does hetero porn as well as women of all ages not just teens.

  29. To me it looks like what it is. An indie art film. Not a porn. Just because JD is in porn does not make this porn. I think it looks really good we shall see though.
    50 shades on the other hand will be difficult to adapt to the screen for lots of reasons. And while its the hot buzz it may also be difficult to attract actors in reality. Despite what they say. Many actors think love scenes are extremely difficult or awkward. Not many could fill that role or want to for their career. I mean really. What if it flops? Or makes tons of money but is absolutely terrible.

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