Swimming with Snarks

Last night’s Los Angeles Film Festival poolside chat, held on the rooftop of downtown’s JW Marriott Hotel, was billed as a “Film Rant.” But what it really turned out to be was a “Film Riff.”

Which is fine when the gathered group consists of writer Jerry Stahl (Permanent Midnight, pictured), actress Illeana Douglas (Easy to Assemble), writer-director Daniel Waters (Heathers), and Oscar nominated screenwriter Josh Olson (A History of Violence). Stahl said he is still bitter about the lack of success of his board game movie Parcheesi 2, while Douglas remembered having to bite her tongue during a meeting at Oxygen when a network staffer raved about the great writing done by Steve Martin in the play Waiting for Godot.

Every once in a while, Stahl would chime in with a deft bit of deadpan. The current wave of 3D films, he suggested, will soon encompass Long Day’s Journey Into Night, so as to make the words of Eugene O’Neill really pop; the best way to handle the constraints of TV writing is to be on crank, and imagine your audience on crank as well; and the notes received as a 38-year-old staffer at McDonald’s easily out-humiliate anything dished by Hollywood execs.

Waters and Olson played off each other energetically, taking credit respectively at one point for having authored the first “fist bump” scene put on celluloid and the first 69 love scene in a major Hollywood motion picture. When the topic of film reviews came up, Douglas said she has resigned herself to being referred to as a quirky performer with “saucer eyes.” All in all, a lively, ragged bit of film festival fun, albeit far removed from the tone of Olson’s infamous 2009 Village Voice article “I Will Not Read Your F*cking Script.”