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How Many Days

Jo, Rob and Marcus are listening to How Many Days by Goodnight Japan

Jo: I guess we’ve been putting off talking about Goodnight Japan, since Abel is also the Echo Room producer.

Marcus: We don’t want to get on his bad side.

Rob: Is it ok to review your friend? I’m just recalling that interview between Bret Easton Ellis and Paul Schrader, when Paul is talking about his former friendship with Pauline Kael.

Marcus: Pauline Kael, for anyone who quite reasonably is already switching off from this irrelevant digression by Rob, is a famous New York Times film critic from the 1970s. Paul Schrader is the screenwriter of Taxi Driver and Raging Bull, and the director of Cat People and The Comfort of Strangers among other excellent movies. But whose work has inevitably declined in quality at the back end of a phenomenal career, and been subjected to poor reviews, beginning with a fateful poor review from Kael.

Rob: Who doesn’t know who Paul Schrader and Pauline Kael are? Do you think our readers are ignoramuses?

Jo: I doubt that we have any readers, ignorant or otherwise, and if anyone is reading, they almost definitely haven’t seen The Comfort of Strangers. Have you ever mentioned this movie to anyone who turned out to have seen it?

Marcus: I’d never heard about it until you made me watch it.

Jo: You made me watch it too. I had never heard of it.

Rob: And it was brilliant, right?

Jo: I vaguely remember it being brilliant. I couldn’t tell you. We watched it ages ago. Why are we talking about it?

Rob: You make it sound like it’s a chore being my friend. Marcus, you saw it recently.

Marcus: Yes. Everyone must see The Comfort of Strangers. One of Christopher Walken’s weirdest and scariest performances.

Jo: If anyone is reading this, I’m chucking in that Bret Easton Ellis is the author of Less than Zero, American Psycho, Glamorama, and Lunar Park if you want my top picks. And he had a podcast for a while where he talked about culture with famous artists. 

Marcus: So what has any of this got to do with Goodnight Japan?

Rob: On the Bret Easton Ellis podcast, iconoclastic screenwriter and director Paul Schrader talked about how in the late seventies he became coke buddies with Pauline Kael, the most influential movie critic arguably of all time. Initially, at the height of Schrader’s career, she wrote effusive, glowing reviews of his work, and they were going to be best friends forever. But she was a total pro, and one day she hated one of his movies and wrote a shit review and it hobbled his career for years. They stopped talking. Eventually they sort of reconciled but they reached an agreement that rather than write good or bad reviews, she would simply ignore all of his output completely. He never had another New York Times review for his movies.

Marcus: So are you suggesting that we should strategically ignore all of Goodnight Japan’s output because although it’s hugely promising and brilliant now, it may potentially decline in the future, at which point you may or may not have evolved into a professional reviewer, which is about a likely as you leading a mission to Mars, and which point you would succumb to your professional responsibility and write a mean review of Goodnight Japan and endanger Abel’s friendship with all three of us.

Rob: When you put it that way, it doesn’t sound very likely to become a problem.

Jo: I think we’re safe to review Goodnight Japan without adversely altering the course of human history or our friendship with Abel, Gemma and Joel.

Rob: I like to think through these things before I act. You’ve quelled my fears.

Marcus: So shall we get on with it?

Rob: Actually I have another appointment. We’ll have to come back to this one.

Jo: I look forward to it.

Marcus: What was the point of this discussion?

Rob: That it’s hard to be a friend and a fan.

Jo: You mean it’s hard to be a friend and a critic and a fan.

Marcus: In this case, it’s hard to be a friend and a critic and a colleague and a fan.

Jo: I think the euphemism for that situation is “artist run collective.”

Rob: Is that what we’re calling ourselves now? This is all going to end badly, I fear.

Jo: Everything ends badly. Otherwise it wouldn’t end.

Marcus: Did you just quote Bryan Brown’s character in Cocktail?

Jo: Yeah, you wanna make something of it?

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