Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Carina Chocano's "Thelma, Louise, and All the Pretty Women" and other links

---beaten for filming a policeman

---Scott and Dargis consider recent violent women in cinema:

"Jean-Luc Godard posited that all he needed to make a movie was a girl and a gun. (Some of his later work makes me wish he had stuck to that formula.) To put the gun in the hands of the girl may be a way to cut out the middleman, as it were, and also, as you suggest, to maximize commercial potential by providing something for everyone. I think that calculation works best when the filmmakers show some interest in exploring the complex intertwinings of sex and violence, rather than simply mashing them up or using one as a substitute for the other. On the other hand, it’s sometimes just fun to watch Saoirse Ronan or Ellen Page — or all the other sisters of Angelina Jolie, our era’s pioneering and still supreme female action star — beat up some deserving Badman."

---Richard Brody remembers Chaplin's The Great Dictator

---Kaid Benfield's "How History Killed the Suburb":

"Beyond demographic shifts per se, Canadian urban observer Wendy Waters (in her blog All About Cities) attributes the increase in demand for walkable places in part to changes in the larger economy and culture, including these:
  • Maturation of the knowledge economy, reliant on the Internet, that has benefited from a very urban workforce constantly looking for inspiration;
  • De-industrialization in many metro areas as manufacturing declined either outright or as a percentage of employment (while service and knowledge jobs grew);
  • Generations X and Y started to make their ideas and culture felt in cities, as they embraced an experience economy over a consumer goods and large-home-and-car based one;
  • Women's higher rate of degree attainment resulted in career women selecting short commutes and urban living (with the trade-offs) over suburban homes;
  • The fertility rate edged up slightly, likely as younger Boomer and older Gen-X women who had postponed children had one or two children but didn't give up urban living or urban careers and wanted short commutes;
  • Millennials defining freedom as their "first iPhone" rather than first car, and driving less;
  • More recently in 2008 and now in 2011, high gas prices are encouraging more people to rethink automotive lifestyles."
---J. J. Abrams shares the 7 films that helped shape Super 8

---Pauline Kael's 1981 review of De Palma's Blow Out:

"Blow Out is a variation on Antonioni’s Blow-Up (1966), and the core idea probably comes from the compound joke in De Palma’s 1968 film Greetings: A young man tries to show his girlfriend enlarged photographs that he claims reveal figures on the “grassy knoll,” and he announces, “This will break the Kennedy case wide open.” Bored, she says, “I saw Blow-Up—I know how this comes out. It’s all blurry—you can’t tell a thing.” But there’s nothing blurry in this new film. It’s also a variation on Coppola’s The Conversation (1974), and it connects almost subliminally with recent political events—with Chappaquiddick and with Nelson Rockefeller’s death. And as the film proceeds, and the murderous zealot Burke (John Lithgow) appears, it also ties in with the “clandestine operations” and “dirty tricks” of the Nixon years. It’s a Watergate movie, and on paper it might seem to be just a political melodrama, but it has an intensity that makes it unlike any other political film. If you’re in a vehicle that’s skidding into a snowbank or a guardrail, your senses are awakened, and in the second before you hit, you’re acutely, almost languorously aware of everything going on around you—it’s the trancelike effect sometimes achieved on the screen by slow motion. De Palma keeps our senses heightened that way all through Blow Out; the entire movie has the rapt intensity that he got in the slow-motion sequences in The Fury (1978). Only now, De Palma can do it at normal speed."

---the Beatles' 4th appearance on the Ed Sullivan show (1965)

---Businessweek time lapse

---Natalia Cecire notes the risks of academic blogging

---Bill Moyers interviews David Simon of The Wire:

Bill Moyers: I was struck by something that you said. You were wrestling with this one big existential question. You talked about drug addicts who would come out of detox and then try to steel-jaw themselves through their neighborhood. And then they’d come face-to-face with the question—which is…?

David Simon: “What am I doing here?” You know, a guy coming out of addiction at thirty, thirty-five, because it often takes to that age, he often got into addiction with a string of problems, some of which were interpersonal and personal, and some of which were systemic. These really are the excess people in America. Our economy doesn’t need them—we don’t need 10 or 15 percent of our population. And certainly the ones who are undereducated, who have been ill-served by the inner-city school system, who have been unprepared for the technocracy of the modern economy, we pretend to need them. We pretend to educate the kids. We pretend that we’re actually including them in the American ideal, but we’re not. And they’re not foolish. They get it. They understand that the only viable economic base in their neighborhoods is this multibillion-dollar drug trade.

---Fast Food Nation on film and the new geopolitics of food

---Mr. Cozzalio anticipates 10 summer movies

---the first films of Spielberg, Coppola, Scorsese, and Lucas

---Derek Thompson imagines America's post-ownership future

---a 1979 interview with Terrence Malick:

"It would be difficult for me to make a film about contemporary America today. We live in such dark times and we have gradually lost our open spaces. We always had hope, the illusion that there was a place where we could live, where one could emigrate and go even further. Wilderness, this is the place where everything seems possible, where solidarity exists - and justice - where the virtues are somehow linked to this justice. In the region where I grew up, everyone felt it in a very strong way. This sense of space disappearing, we nevertheless can find it in cinema, which will pass it on to us There is so much to do: it's as if we were on the Mississippi Territory, in the eighteenth century. For an hour, or for two days, or longer, these films can enable small changes of heart, changes that mean the same thing: to live better and to love more. And even an old movie in poor and beaten condition and can give us that. What else is there to ask for?"

---avalanche cliff jump ad

---trailers for The Devil's Double and Tokyo Koen

---"the scribes behind summer's biggest blockbusters"

---Kenneth Branagh and Thor

---an interview with Michael Mann (and the story behind Heat)

---lastly, Carina Chocano's "Thelma, Louise, and All the Pretty Women":

"I also found myself in a state of more or less constant shock at the way the experience of being me was mediated at every level — at work, with guys, at the movies — by an apparently universally accepted notion of what it meant to be a girl (a notion that neither I nor any of the girls I knew recognized as our own). This notion had been communicated and exploited, I felt, fairly comprehensively by “Pretty Woman.” From the first shot of Julia Roberts (her backside, in lacy underwear, in bed) to the falling-in-love scene when she gets a credit card after coupling with Richard Gere on the hotel’s grand piano to the scene in which she is taught that Champagne is not to be crudely chugged but swished delicately around a ripe strawberry (as Dorothy Parker once remarked, you can lead a whore to culture, etc.), there was scarcely a moment in this great popular romance that didn’t strike me then as transactional, instructional or otherwise deeply condescending.

By contrast, what “Thelma and Louise” did was unexpected and thrilling. It took all those feelings of alienation and anger — which until that point had mostly found expression in things like “Take Back the Night” rallies — and turned them into something rebellious, transgressive, iconic, punk rock and mainstream. And it forced this feminine perspective onto the popular culture at gunpoint. (But in a charming way, just like Brad Pitt’s character taught Thelma how to do.)"

Saturday, April 23, 2011

"On the set of Apocalypse Now" and other links

---Steven Santos' video tribute to Dog Day Afternoon

---Tina Bexson's "The Making of Blade Runner"

---Viva Zombatista

---Don Belt's "The Coming Storm":

"We may be seven billion specks on the surface of Earth, but when you're in Bangladesh, it sometimes feels as if half the human race were crammed into a space the size of Louisiana. Dhaka, its capital, is so crowded that every park and footpath has been colonized by the homeless. To stroll here in the mists of early morning is to navigate an obstacle course of makeshift beds and sleeping children. Later the city's steamy roads and alleyways clog with the chaos of some 15 million people, most of them stuck in traffic. Amid this clatter and hubbub moves a small army of Bengali beggars, vegetable sellers, popcorn vendors, rickshaw drivers, and trinket salesmen, all surging through the city like particles in a flash flood. The countryside beyond is a vast watery floodplain with intermittent stretches of land that are lush, green, flat as a parking lot—and wall-to-wall with human beings. In places you might expect to find solitude, there is none. There are no lonesome highways in Bangladesh.

We should not be surprised. Bangladesh is, after all, one of the most densely populated nations on Earth. It has more people than geographically massive Russia. It is a place where one person, in a nation of 164 million, is mathematically incapable of being truly alone. That takes some getting used to.

So imagine Bangladesh in the year 2050, when its population will likely have zoomed to 220 million, and a good chunk of its current landmass could be permanently underwater. That scenario is based on two converging projections: population growth that, despite a sharp decline in fertility, will continue to produce millions more Bangladeshis in the coming decades, and a possible multifoot rise in sea level by 2100 as a result of climate change. Such a scenario could mean that 10 to 30 million people along the southern coast would be displaced, forcing Bangladeshis to crowd even closer together or else flee the country as climate refugees—a group predicted to swell to some 250 million worldwide by the middle of the century, many from poor, low-lying countries."

---deleted scenes from Airplane!

---Tim Hetherington's Diary

---Carey Fleiner's review of A Cultural Dictionary of Punk

---Welcome to Fontevraud

---Facebook and dullards

---Michael Mann's Luck

---on the set of Apocalypse Now:

“I am doing this film half intuitively,” says Coppola, sitting inside his houseboat, where he wrote out the script each day on index cards. “I am spinning a web. The movie has two levels – the level of the life on the boat and the mission and then what happens to Kurtz’s mind when the film becomes a surreal. His mind is blown by the extent of the horror of the war. You have to invent. All I do is see more or less what the truth was and put it in the movie. Of course, the movie has to live in reality and practicality. I’m spending $100,000 a day. Imagine the degree of control I have to have.”

That control wasn’t always easy – to say the least. The first phase of “Apocalypse” ended when the typhoon struck, destroying sets that had taken months to build and stranding the crew in various isolated locations. (One group found itself stuck in a house with a Playboy Playmate, who shut herself up in a room, declaring, “I can do without sex for nine months.”) Even before the typhoon, Coppola fired one of his leading actors, Harvey Keitel, who hated the jungle and couldn’t stand bugs. On the first day of shooting, Keitel and the other actors had been unintentionally left by the camera crew in the middle of the river. “Hello,” announced Keitel fruitlessly into his walkie-talkie. “Hello, this is Harvey Keitel.” Silence. “This is Harvey Keitel.” Silence. Then: “You wouldn’t do this to Marlon Brando. You wouldn’t do this to Marlon Brando.”


---musical moments in Martin Scorsese's films

---Robert Rodriguez film school

---David Bordwell on Sidney Lumet

---making Antonioni's Blow-Up

---trailers for Stake Land and The Help and Hesher

---YouTube Copyright School

---The Hobbit behind the scenes

---lastly, Michael's notes on celluloid preppy:

"The Door in the Floor (2004) is so quintessentially Preppy it’s almost a parody. Summer, writing internships, houses by the ocean, collared shirts, prep school, Huc Venite, Pueri, ut Viri Sitis, and a bitter marriage; it’s certainly one of the more Preppy movies of recent times. Woody Allen often has rich, successful, troubled characters in his films, but his most Preppy offering is one in which he did not star, called Interiors (1978). It meets plenty of the criteria, bitter marriage, house by the beach, fine décor, and a cast wardrobe all in beige and earth tones. Prep plays a bit of a supporting role, though a very important one, in one of Julia Roberts’ earliest films Mystic Pizza (1988). This film deals with the important Preppy pastime of slumming. Julia Roberts and her two friends play girls who work at a pizza place in Mystic, Connecticut. One night, just after Summer has ended (sad), the girls go to their usual dive-ish hang out and who should walk in, slumming with his other white wine drinking cohorts, but Charles Gordon Windsor Jr. A very young Matt Damon plays Charles’ younger brother in a brief dinner scene towards the end of the film. One of Julia Roberts’ friends in the movie is having an affair with an architect who lives in a house by the water that he’s fixing up while his wife is in England. All very Preppy indeed.

Ordinary People probably takes the cake in terms of its sheer Preppy tone, not just because of those obvious Prep touches like a golf game that causes the disintegration of the marriage, flashbacks of foul-weather sailing, discussions of playing round robin at the club as well as touch football on the lawn, but for the fact that this movie really encapsulates that dry, distant spirit of Prep life. Particularly the little, uncomfortable, mundane, pleasantries that deliberately mask what all the character are really thinking about: “I think little Harry moved to Skokie”, “Is the fish too dry?”, “I was awful at Trig”, “You can’t save French toast”, “Come on, let me just get this one picture of you and Conrad.”

Saturday, April 16, 2011

"Sick is the new sane": 5 notes on Scream 4

1) Scream 4 mostly consists of self-referential stabbing scenes with an emphasis on the stomach. Writer Kevin Williamson finds numerous occasions to flatter the film-savvy viewer with witty dialogue referencing his or her knowledge of the slasher genre, but the irony tends to thin out any prospect of anything more. Early on, one teenage girl criticizes torture porn for its lack of character development in a scene where no one has an opportunity to develop any character before being killed.

2) So the film walks a knife-edge (so to speak) of providing scares and gore as it glibly comments on its horror devices, our cultural enthrallment with internet media, and the hall of mirrors already established within the three former films of the franchise (in Scream 4, the Stab franchise has already reached number 7, and the Woodsboro high school students congregate for a "Stabathon" party where they drunkenly watch every one). The question is--at what point can a movie become too meta-meta-postmodern and reflexive, leaving one longing for some solidity, some real storyline going on right now?

3) For that, one can turn to the three leads who remain from the original Scream (1996): the still relatively youthful-looking Neve Campbell (who plays Sidney Prescott, author of Out from Darkness which celebrates her survival from many previous murder attempts), Courteney Cox (who plays Gale, a former journalist still living in Woodsboro, married to Dewey, and frustrated because she can't write), and David Arquette (who plays Dewey, now the sheriff). All three middle-aged actors look a bit awkward in their attempts to lend a bit of adult gravitas to a genre that favors disposable teenagers. David Arquette and Courteney Cox reportedly fell in love during the making of the first film, and now have separated in the midst of producing Scream 4. I was also intrigued with the way Williamson chose to have two of these repeat characters very much concerned with writing, as if he wants them to share in the creative process.

4) Otherwise, Williamson sticks to his formula: people talk, text, and die on their cell phones, the black-caped villain Ghostface stabs, and characters run through expensive suburban homes as others, usually of the press, respond with inappropriate glee. Two policemen discuss how cops involved in surveillance often get killed in horror films. One almost immediately gets stabbed in the face, stumbles out of his car, and says "F--- Bruce Willis," before keeling over dead. Film geeks at the local high school worship Sidney and itemize various likely third act plot shifts to come. As Dewey tries to keep a lid on public knowledge of the murders, Gale tells him that "it is all over the Internet." At one point, characters hiply watch Shaun of the Dead and laugh as various zombies get impaled or shot. As the scene would cut to Dewey dashing across town in his sheriff's car to save the next menaced teenager, I found myself considering leaving the theater.

5) Still, I liked the last few concluding scenes where the real villain is unmasked and explains his or her motivation. It turns out (indirect spoiler alert) that he or she is simply acknowledging everybody's deranged nihilistic desire for Internet attention, and what better way is there than to digitally tape one's murders and distribute them on the web? As the murderer points out, "Sick is the new sane." Mourning the dead has become so passe. Why not embrace and take glory in everybody's deviant pleasure in mediated slaughter? Given that we are watching the fourth film that capitalizes on just that, why not, indeed?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

transmedia links

---a scene from Woody Allen's Stardust Memories (thanks to @mattzollerseitz)

---Girish quotes David Kehr as Sheila quotes Sidney Lumet's Making Movies:

"[Paul Newman] is an honorable man. He is also a very private man. We had worked together in television in the early fifties and done a brief scene together in a Martin Luther King documentary, so when we got together on The Verdict, we were immediately comfortable with each other. At the end of two weeks of rehearsal, I had a run-through of the script … There were no major problems. In fact, it seemed quite good. But somehow it seemed rather flat. When we broke for the day I asked Paul to stay a moment. I told him that while things looked promising, we really hadn’t hit the emotional level we both knew was there in David Mamet’s screenplay. I said that his characterization was fine but hadn’t yet evolved into a living, breathing person. Was there a problem? Paul said that he didn’t have the lines memorized yet and that when he did, it would all flow better. I told him I didn’t think it was the lines. I said that there was a certain aspect of Frank Galvin’s character that was missing so far. I told him that I wouldn’t invade his privacy, but only he could choose whether or not to reveal that part of the character and therefore that aspect of himself. I couldn’t help him with the decision.

We lived near each other and rode home together. The ride that evening was silent. Paul was thinking. On Monday, Paul came in to rehearsal and sparks flew. He was superb. His character and the picture took on life.

I know that decision to reveal the part of himself that the character required was painful for him. But he’s a dedicated actor as well as a dedicated man. And … yes, Paul is a shy man. And a wonderful actor. And race car driver. And gorgeous."

---Catherine Grant of @filmstudiesff created AUDIOVISUALCY, an online forum for videographic film studies, which includes her tribute to Elizabeth Taylor in Jane Eyre (1944)

---A. O. Scott considers The Passion of Joan of Arc as Richard Brody appreciates A Hard Day's Night

---how Mike Leigh makes a film

---Ed Howard of @onlythecinema reviews Thom Anderson's Los Angeles Plays Itself:

"One of Andersen's central ideas here is the gap between reality and screen representation. He identifies many ways in which Los Angeles on screen differs from Los Angeles as an actual city, tracing the city's cinematic history from its early days, when in its anonymity it often stood in for Chicago or New York or any number of other cities, to the much more specific visions of later years. There's Los Angeles as a site of disaster movie destruction, the home town that moviemakers seem to take special delight in tearing apart. There's Los Angeles as a city of cops, and Andersen's deconstruction of Dragnet as a fascist version of the precise, minimalist aesthetics of Ozu and Bresson is especially potent. And also very funny. Andersen has a sharp, biting sense of humor, and he mingles seemingly genuine admiration for Dragnet's robotic technical precision with contempt for its exaltation of an "ideal" cop who tramples all over the pathetic, kooky, corrupt people he encounters in the course of his job. It's similarly hilarious when Andersen uses a shot of Charles Bronson literally exploding a bad guy as the punchline to a sequence in which Andersen laments the movie convention of staging chase scenes that leap from locale to locale with little regard for physical reality: "silly geography makes silly movies," the voiceover says, and with Bronson as evidence it's hard to argue.

That's a throwaway gag, though, and Andersen's critical commentary ultimately has much more serious aims. One of his most interesting insights is the idea that Los Angeles, as presented in the movies, is a city of perpetual nostalgia for a time that never was. "At any time in its history, Los Angeles was always a better place a long time ago than in the present," the narration says, speaking especially about movies like Chinatown, Blade Runner and L.A. Confidential. It's Andersen's contention that movies about Los Angeles are often period movies, rarely movies about the present, at least not in the modern era. He takes as one telling example the rather startling absence of the Watts riots from most films; it was only long after the riots had faded a bit that movies could portray the events, Andersen says, and then only with a comforting and ironic use of banal 60s oldies tunes to place the events safely and securely in the past. There seems to be widespread discomfort in really engaging with Los Angeles' present, even in the futuristic Blade Runner, which presents a dystopian Los Angeles that is actually, perversely, rather attractive, a glossily beautiful if frightening vision of the future that Andersen contrasts against the much plainer, uglier possibilities that are likely to shape the real Los Angeles of the future."

---Shaun of the Dead in 60 seconds

---Jake of @notjustmovies reviews Scorsese's After Hours

---Steven Soderbergh's media diet

---Lars Von Trier's trailer for Melancholia

---Jaime appreciates the work of director Paul W. S. Anderson

---Ben Sachs considers Blue Collar

---Pauline Kael and Woody Allen (not to mention Jean-Luc Godard)

---the 101 greatest screenplays

---our new era of water scarcity:

"We are in the middle of a water crisis already, in the United States and around the world. The experts realize it (the Weather Channel already has a dedicated burning-orange logo for its drought reports), but even in areas with serious water problems, most people don’t seem to understand. We are entering a new era of water scarcity -- not just in traditionally dry or hard-pressed places like the U.S. Southwest and the Middle East, but in places we think of as water-wealthy, like Atlanta and Melbourne.

The world has 6.9 billion people. At least 1.1 billion of us don’t have access to clean, safe drinking water -- that’s one out of six people in the world. Another 1.8 billion people don’t have access to water in their homes or yard, but do have access within a kilometer. So at least 40 percent of the world either doesn’t have good access to water, or has to walk to get it.

In the next fifteen years, by 2025, the world will add 1.2 billion people. By 2050, we will add 2.4 billion people. So between now and forty years from now, more new people will join the total population than were alive worldwide in 1900. They will be thirsty.

And then there is the unpredictability of climate change. Water availability is intensely weather- and climate-dependent, in both the developed world and the developing world. At one point in 2008, during the years-long drought across the southeastern United States, 80 percent of the residents of North Carolina were living under water-use restrictions.

The Las Vegas area has 2 million residents and 36 million visitors a year, and its water source in January 2011 was lower than it had been in any January going back to 1965. At that time, Las Vegas had about 200,000 residents; today, on a typical day, there are twice that many tourists in town.

Beyond population and climate change, the other huge and growing pressure on water supplies is economic development. China and India are modernizing at a whirling pace, and together those two countries account for one out of three people in the world. Economic development requires rivers full of water, not just because people want more secure and more abundant water as their incomes improve but because modern factories and businesses use such huge volumes of water."

---Tatsumi trailer

---towards a talking newspaper

---Invisible Cities

---lastly, Storm the animated movie

Monday, April 11, 2011

David Foster Wallace, The Pale King, and the information society

An excerpt from David Foster Wallace's The Pale King:

"For me, at least in retrospect, the really interesting question is why dullness proves to be such a powerful impediment to attention. Why we recoil from the dull. Maybe it's because dullness is intrinsically painful; maybe that's where phrases like `deadly dull' or `excruciatingly dull' come from. But there might be more to it. Maybe dullness is associated with psychic pain because something that's dull or opaque fails to provide enough stimulation to distract people from some other, deeper type of pain that is always there, if only in an ambient low-level way, and most of us spend nearly all our time and energy trying to distract ourselves from feeling, or at least from feeling directly or with our full attention. Admittedly, the whole thing's pretty confusing, and hard to talk about abstractly . . . but surely something must lie behind not just Muzak in dull or tedious places anymore but now actual TV in waiting rooms, supermarket checkouts, airports' gates, SUV's backseats. Walkmen, iPods. BlackBerries, cell phones that attach to your head. This terror of silence with nothing diverting to do. I can't think anyone really believes that today's so-called `information society' is just about information. Everyone knows it's about something else, way down.

The memoir-relevant point here is that I learned, in my time with the Service, something about dullness, information, and irrelevant complexity. About negotiating boredom as one would a terrain, its levels and forests and endless wastes. Learned about it extensively, exquisitely, in my interrupted year. And now ever since that time have noticed, at work and in recreation and time with friends and even the intimacies of family life, that living people do not speak much of the dull. Or those parts of life that are and must be dull. Why this silence? Maybe it's because the subject is, in and of itself, dull . . . only then we're again right back where we started, which is tedious and irksome. There may, though, I opine, be more to it . . . as in vastly more, right before us all, hidden by virtue of its size."

Some related links:

---Laura Miller's "The Pale King: David Foster Wallace's Last Battle"

---James Campbell's "A Cure for Head-Exploding Brilliance"

---an interview with Karen Green

---David Pietsch's "In Search of David Foster Wallace's Pale King)

---Emily Cooke's "The Burden of Meaningfulness: David Foster Wallace's The Pale King)

---Tom McCarthy's "David Foster Wallace: The Last Audit"

---Jonathan Raban's "Divine Drudgery"

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

shockwave links

---Toby Jackman's Today Only and the teaser for Le Chat du Rabbin

---an intense analysis of Kubrick's The Shining:

"The Shining can be seen as a preamble to a form of new, post-Western visual guidance: one day these 'simple' pre-tools (imagine disorientation a form of tool) may be magnified inside blockbuster films and videogames that access the brain much more directly. Kubrick, a thinker's magician, is trying to teach the audience without any of us becoming aware of lesson and method. More specifically: it may even be a primer for an entirely next-stage visual language available within the decade (on one level the film is a careful satire, and in darker ways a refutation of how we share and store knowledge through Indo-European text: the English-speaking in the film is loaded with unusually nuanced paradoxes that escalate scene by scene). It's in the dialogue: The horror of The Shining is spoken in confabulation, nursery simplification, deception, broadcast in a variety of technologies and qualities (like sarcasm and pure rage) - critical components to the dread laced in the flickering visuals that drive the film to its end. As an alternate to spoken plot, Kubrick uses visual forms from more than a few indigenous American cultures acutely arrayed (almost all employed complex spoken languages without written form/alphabets, like the Navajo), from a nearly decimated past, it effectively augments even bypasses western systems of description by very subtly alerting us to their visuals, motifs and even parts of their narratives and rituals. Perhaps an evolutionary tweak that doesn't or won't go away, The Shining, somewhat cooly and mildly reviewed upon release ("when I first saw The Shining I didn't love it but it has since become one of my favorites..." -Steven Spielberg) has evolved into a kind of cult film to adherents, could be the initialization of a movement to shift our tools en masse. Can we employ or deploy it? How? Do we need key narratives with the simplest of plots (the 'face') hiding paradoxically specific, scientific complexity underneath? Why/how do these latent, advanced systems of ordering and classification bypass the west's enlightenment-based taxonomic value-system?"

---Anita Sarkeesian decries the manic pixie dream girl

---Megan Abbot's "Pretty Tough"

---the apocalyptic Sweetheart trailer

---Joe Wright, director of Hanna, says "action is pure cinema"

---Don Kennison remembers the immortal Carnival of Souls:

"Carnival of Souls begins as if in the midst of a mental hygiene–type driver’s ed film. This abrupt entrée (known in the industry as a cold open) is startling for those used to the two- or three-minute intro formula: establishing shots, rising music, seemingly endless credit titles.’s low budget clearly shows (the opening sequence is shot sans sound; voices were added way on top later on) yet the jarring start forces a viewer to jump right in and try and figure out what the heck is going on. Well now the boys wanna drag the girls, and if you’ve seen Signal 30 (1963), produced over in Ohio, you know damn well it’s not going to end up pretty. What starts as a gas ends up in the drink, you guessed it: dig those heavy glug glugs as the girls’ car sinks into the muddy water. And here’s where the movie’s titles finally come up and the wholly eerie organ theme rises. No, this isn’t a novice driver’s warning, it’s something else entirely. It’s another world. Oh it may look like your world, but in point of fact you have just arrived on the planet Paranoia—paranoia rooted in dispossession: from your family, your peers, your society, so be it, yet finally and perhaps the final straw from your very self. That is, the self you thought you knew up to and including this very moment when you believed you were simply watching a movie. Our wary protagonist Mary Henry’s incipient paranoia and self-content willfulness throughout leads viewers (if not her fellows on-screen) to their own subtle varieties of disorientation, a kind of extrasensory horror that reaches through the screen."

---15 advertisements from 15 directors


---"Sucker Punch and the Fetishized Image" by Oscar Moralde

---Anna Faris, scene stealer

---tech innovation explained and the asymmetrical online war

---The Imperialists Are Still Alive trailer

---Juliet Lapidos' grand theory concerning the films of Woody Allen:

"When an Allen character is in a particularly morose state of mind, he may feel moved to announce that life is meaningless. I call these "void moments," because the declarations often contain the word void. Despite the bleak moniker, the void moment doesn't always have the same function. Play It Again, Sam (1972), for instance, has a particularly lighthearted one.

In this little-seen comedy, the recently divorced Allan Felix (Woody Allen) tries to get the hang of dating. Trouble is, he's romantically self-destructive: Felix (I'll use his surname to avoid confusion) says he's attracted to "emotionally disturbed women," and that's not an exaggeration. The depth of his perverse inclination becomes clear when he approaches a woman looking at a Jackson Pollock drip-painting, and asks what it means to her. She answers: "It restates the negativeness of the universe. The hideous, lonely, emptiness of existence. Nothingness. The predicament of man forced to live in a barren, godless eternity like a tiny flame flickering in an immense void with nothing but waste, horror, and degradation forming a useless bleak straightjacket in a black absurd cosmos." She's just the kind of woman Felix has been looking for, and he asks her what's she's doing Saturday night. "Committing suicide," she responds. Unfazed, he counters: "What about Friday night?"

This nameless woman seems to articulate Allen's world view exactly. (After the 2009 release of Whatever Works, he told NPR that filmmaking "distracts me from the uncertainty of life, the inevitability of aging and death and death of loved ones; mass killings and starvation, from holocausts—not just man-made carnage, but the existential position you're in." Inspiring!) But in Play It Again, Sam, we're clearly meant to find her approach ridiculous. The depressive despairs: Because there is "nothing," she longs to return to that state. Felix, by contrast, moves forward blithely: If existence is lonely and hideous, why not go out on Saturday? Or Friday, whatever, he's not busy. By letting Felix win the volley, Allen also endorses his protagonist's resigned epicurean sensibility."

---sad to see Geoffrey Rush shill for Disney

---Martin Amis's thoughts about Joan Didion's style

---are movies growing up?

---lastly, John Sullivan considers the career of David Foster Wallace:

"Imagine flat being able to dissect us like that, with that grain of detail—as primates, if you like—and worse, being unable to stop. A person would have to maintain tremendous stores of sympathy to keep the world from turning into a constant onslaught of Swiftian grotesquerie. Wallace didn't seek to escape it, either—he cultivated it, as his art demanded. It ought to remind us of the psychic risk involved in writing at the level he sought. Like all good citizens, I'm with those who wish to resist romanticizing his suicide, but there remains a sense in which artists do expose themselves to the torrents of their time, in a way that can't help but do damage, and there's nothing wrong with calling it noble, if they've done it in the service of something beautiful. Wallace paid a price for traveling so deep into himself, for keeping his eye unaverted as long as it takes to write passages like the one just quoted, for finding other people interesting enough to pay attention to them long enough to write scenes like that. It's the reason most of us can't write great or even good fiction. You have to let a lot of other consciousnesses into your own. That's bad for equilibrium."