David O. Russell

Day One  

Today I bought my 2-year-old son his first bike. We went to Toys R Us in Herald Square, which is like a maximum security prison. There are virtually no toys on the ground floor. To get in, you pass through an area where clerks sit behind the bullet-proof windows commonly used in liquor stores in dicey neighborhoods. To get out, you must present your receipt at two check points. Those toys homeless people sell on the subway have to come from somewhere. As excited as M. was about getting his bike–not even a tricycle, he went directly to a very small two-wheeler with training wheels–I almost lost him to one of the $500 electric cars, the kind he can sit in, hit the accelerator, and go. For a minute he was starting to look like, “To hell with this bike business, let’s get the bitchin’ car.” I was helped by a 5-year-old girl who managed to take over the car, which, by this point, I had returned to its place on the sales platform. She then spooked my by saying with a flirtatious smile, “I bet you’re strong enough to put this car on the floor for me.”

Back home, I receive faxed questions from a journalist in Germany, where ‘Flirting’ will be released next month. “In both your films you are dealing with taboos (incest, parents on drugs, gay policemen). What’s the idea behind it?” One idea? One single idea behind all of this? I think she’s politely asking me, “What’s your problem?” I can’t tell her that, so I made up some cockamaimie answer. Then I have a conversation with a studio executive who wants me to do a “production polish for character depth” on a political thriller that is in pre-production. When I tell him my analysis–that the script needs an entirely new structure–he agrees wholeheartedly, and says, “I’d love you to do it.” But it would take a year to make this really good, and I’d only do maybe a few weeks for hire, because I’m writing my own project. And they’re already in pre-production so it’s out of the question. Amazing how many Hollywood movies are rushing into production with flawed scripts–good ideas with half-baked execution, or half-baked ideas. It’s like they’ll option anything with words, anything that moves, the telephone book (which moves in a strong wind), and rush it into production. When will this stop? When a studio loses a billion dollars, a pres. of production told me in Cannes, “And my studio certainly isn’t going to do that.”

Chip Brown’s dinner party last night. There’s a really successful cardio-surgeon there who also happens to be very handsome. The combination is enough to make you want to punch the guy. But he turns out to be a nice guy. Which is another reason to punch him. We debate methods for changing our children’s poopie diapers, and I am advocating the bare hand method (with warm water at the sink), versus the aloe-loaded wet wipes. Somehow this leads to his declaration that toilet paper gives you hemorrhoids, that it’s better to use your hand. He’s Turkish. I can see his point about the dryness of toilet paper, the friction and so forth, but Americans will never go for this analysis. We change the topic. He asks me why there’s so much ironic and sensational violence in movies now. I say it’s the tidal pull of capitalism, in which all products must keep turning up the volume–Whiter whites! Bolder colors! Longer lasting! He says people are so numb they require this to make them feel anything. And why are they so numb? Because they’re bombarded with media from all sides. And here I am contributing to the bombardment with the online revolution. … My agent calls to ask if I can have dinner with Jennifer Aniston. I like my job. Even if it means living inside the media tsunami.