Saturday, February 27, 2016

The A. O. Scott Files

In the midst of not quite reviewing A. O. Scott's (often very good) Better Living Through Criticism, I noticed that I have amassed a batch of related links in the midst of wondering which reviews Scott will select for his upcoming 2017 Penguin book of film writing:

---"What kind of grown man sits through Kung Fu Panda scowling at the screen and taking notes?" --from A. O. Scott's book

---A. O. Scott Zingers on Tumbler: “As for Mr. Sandler, I have always been interested in what he would do next, and I suppose I still am, especially if what he does next is retire.”

---“#Avengers fans, NY Times critic AO Scott needs a new job! Let’s help him find one! One he can ACTUALLY do!” --@SamuelLJackson

---Star Wars: A New Hope + Annie Hall--"'When I think about what I do as a critic of movies, I kind of still zigzag back and forth between those,' Scott said. 'Between wanting that uncomplicated pleasure and also wanting something demanding, wanting the pleasure of working something out.'

These two movies came out the same year, and both changed his life. Woody Allen's earlier movies—like Sleeper and Love and Death had been in the spirit of Mad magazine; Annie Hall introduced an adult perspective on love and death and disappointment. But, like Mad, its cultural references also flew over his head. Star Wars included a universe of references as well, but that universe was pure fantasy. 'It instantly took over our imaginations because it seemed so organically attached to them,' Scott said.

To this day, the two movies represent the opposing desires that together drive Scott's approach to reviewing movies. One is aspirational: to attain the intellectual background and do the heavy lifting needed to appreciate a movie. The other is escapist: to allow a world of innocent fantasy and fun to pull him in." --from Jacob Shamsian's "How to Watch Movies Like New York Times Movie Critic A. O. Scott"

---"Yes, fine, I am a snob. I revere the formal achievement of the first and most recent 'Mad Max' movies. I sneer at most biopics and costume dramas. I like my pleasures slow and difficult. I would rather watch a mediocre film from South America or Eastern Europe about the sufferings of poor people than a mediocre Hollywood comedy about the inconveniences of the affluent. I look up in admiration at models of artistic perfection, sound judgment and noble achievement, and I look down on what I take to be the stupid, cheap and cynical aspects of public discourse. I sit at my cobbler’s bench and hammer away. If the words nerd and geek can be rehabilitated — if legions of misunderstood enthusiasts can march from the margins of respectability to the heart of the mainstream — then why not snob as well?" --from "Film Snob? Is That So Wrong?"

---celebrating Singin' in the RainPulp Fiction, and Detour

---"The wonder of modern American higher education is that it has managed to have it both ways, to emancipate and to regiment, to slot armies of dreamers, mavericks, and iconoclasts into their assigned roles in a highly technocratic society, to turn the most uncompromising and incandescent works of imagination — the poetry of Trilling’s erstwhile student Allen Ginsberg, say — into fodder for classroom discussion and assigned writing. If nobody quite regards this as a triumph — if the university remains an object of scorn and suspicion as well as celebration, including from its own denizens — that may be a further sign of how well the whole thing works. Like the literary marketplace that is its pretend rival, the academy makes room for oddballs and outliers, for thinkers and writers who cut against the grain. It does this by giving them jobs that are actually impossible to do." --from "When Critics Become Professors"

---"So let us learn to stretch again. The impossibility of perfect certainty does not condemn us to a vapidly uncertain life, to a life of small thoughts about small things, as if all we can be are metaphysicians or shoppers. It all depends on the scale that we elect for our questions, on how high we aim. What we do not need now is another cheerful exhortation to aim low. Scott disdains, for the partiality of their perspectives, the pessimism about movies that was expressed by some of his precursors. Yet there is more wisdom about the art of cinema to be found in the complaints of Agee and Farber and Kael and Denby and Thomson than in Scott’s garrulous and complacent musings, precisely because they state an allegiance. They are animated by large principle and an unembarrassed grand view of the art. They are criticism. Scott believes in criticism, and he believes in art, pleasure, beauty, and truth, but most of all he believes in brunch." --from Leon Wieseltier's "A. O. Scott, Critic Without a Cause"

---Scott's Twitter reaction to Wieseltier's review: "that review filled me with joy. His approval would have been devastating."

---"I think it’s very, very important in a time where everything is commercialized, commodified, and branded, where advertising is constantly bleeding into other forms of discourse, for there to be an independent voice kind of speaking to—and to some extent on behalf of—the public." --A. O. Scott

---"So, who does A.O. Scott think he is? I can't answer for him, but I'd venture that he thinks he's a writer with something to say, who cares about his subject (movies) and knows quite a bit about them. There's no career track for movie critics. The best critics do it because they love it, and they bring everything else they've ever done to the task. As I've long said, writing about movies allows you to write about everything that movies are about. That is, everything." --from Jim Emerson's "A. O. Scott on Criticism: 'This Is Not a Progressive Kindergarten'"

---"But whether Scott takes the internet seriously as a platform for criticism in its highest form is rather unclear. The 'wild garden of unfettered expression' that is the web, he writes, is 'a frequently cacophonous symphony of mockery, snark, rage, and mischief not infrequently leavened by clarity, conviction, and intellectual stamina.' That this garden has yielded already a richer diversity of critical voices—voices long marginalized by the very institutions Scott represents—goes pointedly unmentioned. Any debate about old media and new Scott summarily dismisses as 'a quarrel of ancients and moderns destined to end in stalemate.' He sees well enough that the print critic 'appears at present to be facing the prospect of extinction.' His incuriosity about the lives of the critics replacing them greatly curbs the scope of the book." --Calum Marsh's concerns about the "parochialism" of Better Living Through Criticism

---"It seems that, in doing away with patriarchal authority, we have also, perhaps unwittingly, killed off all the grown-ups." --from Scott's "The Death of Adulthood in American Culture"

---"We’ve reached peak criticism; a peacock spread of hermeneutic attention has become our basic greeting for creative work." --Nathan Heller

---"we are, individually and collectively, trapped in endless cycles of compulsion, self-delusion, and denial. What we need is ultimately less important than how we need it. Our daily lives are organized around a repertoire of stratagems designed to feed our habits in the name of breaking them" --from "The Panic of Influence," Scott's consideration of the works of David Foster Wallace

---"It’s the mission of art to free our minds, and the task of criticism to figure out what to do with that freedom. That everyone is a critic means that we are each capable of thinking against our own prejudices, of balancing skepticism with open-mindedness, of sharpening our dulled and glutted senses and battling the intellectual inertia that surrounds us. We need to put our remarkable minds to use and to pay our own experience the honor of taking it seriously.

The real culture war (the one that never ends) is between the human intellect and its equally human enemies: sloth, cliché, pretension, cant. Between creativity and conformity, between the comforts of the familiar and the shock of the new. To be a critic is to be a soldier in this fight, a defender of the life of art and a champion of the art of living." --from "Everybody's a Critic. And That's How It Should Be"

Friday, February 26, 2016

extended mind links

---"Hundreds of people share a physical space, but no perception, no experience, no phenomenological anchor. The communality of a conference (literally from conferre, “to bring together”) is thrown over for a series of hyper-individualized bubbles. And you’re reminded, from Zuckerberg’s awkward semi-smile, that the man who owns the bubbles also owns what’s in them. That controlling virtual reality, in other words, is only a step from controlling reality itself.

Then again, Zuckerberg arguably does that already."

---The Day Beyonce Turned Black

---“You’re a good actor, which is why I’m telling you, stay the hell out of L.A. There’s not much of a future for you. Go to Asia.”  --Melena Ryzik

---Lateral Character Movement in Film

---The Coen Brothers Use of Shot Reverse Shot

---Glances in Carol

---"In the late 1990s the philosopher David Chalmers coined the term 'the extended mind' to describe how when we use pen and paper, calculators, or laptops to help us think or remember, these external objects are incorporated into our cognitive processes. 'The technology we use becomes part of our minds, extending our minds and indeed our selves into the world,' Chalmers said in a 2011 Ted talk. Our iPhones have not been physically implanted into our brains, he explained, but it’s as if they have been. There’s a big difference between offloading memory on to a notepad and doing it on to a smartphone. One is a passive receptacle, the other is active. A notebook won’t reorganise the information you give it or ping you an alert; its layout and functions won’t change overnight; its contents aren’t part-owned by the stationery firm that made it. The more we extend our minds online, the harder it is becoming to keep control of our digital pasts, or to tell where our memories begin or end. And, while society’s collective memory is expanding at an astonishing rate, our internal, individual ones are shrinking" --Sophie McBain

---The Last Job on Earth

---"Film Critics in Disguise: Pioneers in the Video Essay Discuss Their Art Form" by Andrew Lapin

---trailers for Maggie's Plan, Zero Days, Triple 9and Midnight Special

---"A key purpose of a PhD is to destroy a young person’s ability to enjoy leisure."

---the iPhone filmmaking kit

---Voodoo in My Blood

---Though The Graduate upholds some of the classic tropes of Hollywood romantic comedy dating back to the 1930s—especially in its climactic deployment of a runaway bride—Benjamin’s paralyzing emotional disconnect from the world around him is what makes his story both fresh and particular to its own time. If 'The Sounds of Silence,' the hit Simon and Garfunkel song that Nichols repurposed for the film’s soundtrack, indelibly captures the dehumanizing atmosphere of the affluent L.A. where Benjamin is marooned, the riddle of his profound anxiety may be aptly captured by a lyric from Bob Dylan’s 1965 'Ballad of a Thin Man': 'Something is happening here / But you don’t know what it is.' Even at the end of the film, when Benjamin has finally won what he thinks he wants, Hoffman’s suite of contradictory expressions tells us that he still doesn’t know what is happening, let alone what will happen next." --Frank Rich

---"What If Sequels Don't Work Anymore?" by Chris Lee

---The 20 Greatest Films by Women Directors

---"The Digital Dirt" by Nicholas Schmidle

---Umberto Eco considers Casablanca

---"Then Joy began to screen for critics, entertainment journalists, and awards gurus — and it quickly fell off of those lists. (Lawrence is its sole Oscar nominee.)

The movie’s complicated journey to the screen may seem like a fever dream at this point — that is how it feels to watch the finished product as well. And if anyone involved with Joy thinks it is ironic that a script about a woman who almost had her business stolen from her was taken away from a female screenwriter, they have not said that out loud. But maybe someone is thinking it.

Or maybe they’re thinking, as Clarinda from Joy’s soap opera says as the film opens, 'It doesn’t make sense. I don’t know how something like this happened.'" --Kate Arthur

---Remakes

---Tangerine: A Video Essay

---making Rushmore

Sunday, February 21, 2016

"Fear, fascination, excitement, and dread": a review of Owen Gleiberman's Movie Freak: My Life Watching Movies

As I was in the midst of enjoying A. O. Scott's magisterial Better Living Through Criticism, a publicist emailed me with a request to send me a review copy of Owen Gleiberman's Movie Freak: My Life Watching Movies (to be published February 23). Not knowing anything about Gleiberman (even though I read Entertainment Weekly for years), and assuming that a film critic's life would be dull, I ignored the email, but then the publicist wrote back again, and after learning of Gleiberman's friendship with Pauline Kael, I said yes. 

Now, one week later, having just finished the book, I was surprised to find it bracing, edgy, informative, sometimes unsettlingly honest (in an R-rated way), and oddly complementary to Scott's history of criticism. Since both Gleiberman and Scott are close to my age, I enjoyed reading of their youthful punk periods (for instance, Sid and Nancy (1986) had an outsized impact on Owen as Scott hints at how "punk rock . . . saved [him] from feeling late for everything"), but Gleiberman goes on to write about his cocaine-addled relationship with a woman who likes to be spanked, not the kind of thing A. O. Scott is inclined to do. While not necessarily politically correct, Gleiberman's forays into memoir territory still can be quite humorously snide. For instance, when he describes how he fell in love with his future wife and she reciprocated, he writes "And I thought: How wonderful life is, when you're in the world" (275).

Both books made me continually reconsider my longstanding relationship with the whole idea of film criticism, and Movie Freak, filled with slicing quotes from reviews, celebrity encounters, humorous mentions of other critics (Peter Travers as "the shameless blurb whore!" (264)), the rise and fall of a national magazine ostensibly designed to deliver entertainment news, and editorial clashes with the suits of Time, Inc.--all of it is bracingly entertaining throughout. Since being laid off from his 25 year stint of reviewing for Entertainment Weekly, Gleiberman reflects on the existential crisis facing the critic today, but he also examines the good reasons for movie reviewing. When, for instance, Gleiberman takes issue with David Carr's 2008 New York Times article "Now on the Endangered Species List: Movie Critics in Print," he doesn't so much disagree with Carr as hope to "go beyond" the journalist's claims. Gleiberman wishes that Carr would say that "film criticism matters for its own sweet sake" (303), even amidst all of the problems with the Internet "squash [ing] art with overkill" (321), the mechanical way in which the postmodern morass of critics blogging and tweeting and aggregating often reduces film criticism to the "ground hamburger" of herd opinions. As Gleiberman points out, eventually at EW, "the machine wanted a review that reflected what the machine had agreed to think" (320).

By sharing so much of the narrative of his life, and by witnessing how so many critics give in to not only commercial pressures but also more subtle forms of groupthink, such as the Paulettes mimicking Pauline Kael's opinions to earn schmoozing time with her, Gleiberman insists upon the essential autonomy and independence of the film critic. He proclaims that he finds his allegiance to his opinion distinctively American in its "total exaltation of the individual," and that anyone who does otherwise is "misplacing" his or her "soul" (286). As A. O. Scott uses one chapter of his book to consider the effects of the sea-change that digital media has had on newspaper reviewing, Gleiberman (perhaps because he was fired at Entertainment Weekly) really digs into the subject, both admitting how much he enjoys blogging (he even calls Pauline Kael "the first blogger" in her ability to "riff" with "spontaneity" in her reviews (307)), but he also analyzes the "degradation of criticism" due to market forces, the fear of getting axed, and the way that modern-day technology "encourages people to rotate their entire focus outside of themselves, and to devalue what's inside" (285). I can sense the same mass pressure on my blogging. For instance, when I saw the Coen brothers' Hail, Caesar! last week in an empty theater, I found it to be underwhelming, a movie that, somewhat like The Grand Budapest Hotel, showcases so many star turns that I found myself indifferent to the larger story even given the film's many charming moments. Yet, since the thousands of media outlets blogs, aggregators etc. had already chewed up the movie, I found the critical overkill useful to justify my laziness. The sheer quantity of opinion-mongering makes me want to not bother to include (in my blogging way) my response.

Gleiberman is best when he focuses on the positives of movie reviewing, how he began to feel that Pauline Kael somehow resembled his mother only with an "angelic . . . earnest, sentence-by-sentence directness" (53), and how a movie like Natural Born Killers could fill him with "fear, fascination, excitement, and dread" (197). Gleiberman enjoys focusing on those moments when a single movie changed his consciousness, lighting up his central nervous system with insights into the human condition amidst the media's heightened reflections of it. When considering movies, Gleiberman consistently asks "Did what was happening on screen have an essential human quality that you could connect to" (221)? I was surprised again and again how much I connected with Movie Freak. It demonstrates why we should continue to fight for the relevance and the glory of well-written, impassioned movie criticism. As Gleiberman writes, "What criticism offers, when it's great, is an alchemy of enlightenment and delight--a heady space where each of those things can become the other. Film criticism, when it's great, has a light inside it, one that emerges from the nature of the movies themselves. It lights up your mind and lights up your senses; it merges them until truth becomes beauty and beauty becomes truth" (303). Movie Freak kept reminding me of the waste of ever accepting anything less.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

apocalypse obsessive links

---Snowbird

---A Fistful of Dollars / Yojimbo supercut

---the cinematic allusions of Hail, Caesar!

---The Evolution of Visual Effects

---"The bigger question in Patience, and a lot of Clowes’s other books, isn’t about how much we can change the past, but how much the past shapes and changes us." --Robert Ito

---the destruction of Pompeii

---"Why the Cinema of Swinging London Matters, 50 Years Later" by James Wolcott

---Who Deserves for 2016 Oscar for Best Director? Best Picture?

---"We are still apocalypse obsessives. But lately we’ve transitioned from an eschatology of 'almost too late' to one of 'already too late.' The apocalypse is no longer a spectacle to be witnessed, and our witnessing may make no difference to the coming cosmic judgment." --Ben Mauk

---Chaika

---Matt Zoller Seitz considers 4 films that inspired Mad Men

---"Americans spend an average of five and a half hours a day with digital media, more than half of that time on mobile devices, according to the research firm eMarketer. Among some groups, the numbers range much higher. In one recent survey, female students at Baylor University reported using their cell phones an average of ten hours a day. Three quarters of eighteen-to-twenty-four-year-olds say that they reach for their phones immediately upon waking up in the morning. Once out of bed, we check our phones 221 times a day—an average of every 4.3 minutes—according to a UK study. This number actually may be too low, since people tend to underestimate their own mobile usage. In a 2015 Gallup survey, 61 percent of people said they checked their phones less frequently than others they knew.

Our transformation into device people has happened with unprecedented suddenness. The first touchscreen-operated iPhones went on sale in June 2007, followed by the first Android-powered phones the following year. Smartphones went from 10 percent to 40 percent market penetration faster than any other consumer technology in history. In the United States, adoption hit 50 percent only three years ago. Yet today, not carrying a smartphone indicates eccentricity, social marginalization, or old age." --Jacob Weisberg

---under the radar websites for film buffs

---Honest Trailer for Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World

---"these movies revealed to me that it was possible to keep a film buff or even a general audience member interested merely by juxtaposing scenes or sections of a pre-existing movie with narration that talks mainly about the movie, or the movie in relation to a particular subject, such as Hudson's status as a closeted gay man in pre-Stonewall Hollywood, or Seberg's involvement with left-wing political causes." --Matt Zoller Seitz

---Top 10 Closing Shots for All Time

---The 6th Street Bridge in Hollywood Films

---making Luc Besson's Valerian

---"Though Ryder was often described as the ingénue, this implies a passivity Ryder eluded in every one of her teen films—in Square Dance she beats up a woman who takes advantage of a mentally handicapped man, in Beetlejuice she sacrifices herself to save a pair of ghosts, in Heathers she encourages her boyfriend to blow himself up (then uses his body to light her cigarette), in Edward Scissorhands she falls in love with a goth anti-hero, in Welcome Home, Roxy Carmichael she spurns the local hunk and in Mermaids she propositions him. These were films in which she didn’t so much play a character as perform her own. 'Winona is an actress who works directly from primal instinct,' her Alien: Resurrection director, Jean-Pierre Jeunet, said. 'This instinctual way of working is a rare quality usually only found in children.'" --Soraya Roberts

---the opening sequence of Once Upon a Time in the West

---Sicario: The Mirage of a Moral World

---Cinephilia and Beyond celebrates North by Northwest and Dr. Strangelove

---trailers for Tricked, Demolition, Ickerman, The Purge: Election Year, Equals, Hardcore HenryMike and Dave Need Wedding Dates, Deadpool, Creative ControlJulieta, and The Lobster

---With Regard to #OscarsSoWhite: Six Great Black Should-Have-Been Nominees

---"
Criticism is being debased daily, by bad writers, terrible thinkers and even worse editors who are pressured by commercial interests into being short-sighted. Because governments all over the world continue to nudge arts and culture down their list of fiscal priorities, film festivals are more cash-strapped than ever, and so I think one danger, which has always been there to a certain degree but which is now becoming increasingly pronounced, is that criticism is becoming a kind of service industry rather than an independent professional practice. The challenge is to keep it that way, to keep it free from the commercial interests that compete again and again to strangle it, to turn it into a means merely of promoting events and egos. Egos are the worst. The worst thing to be in an incestuous industry like this is thin-skinned." --Michael Pattison

---"Unlike Trump, Rhodes has zero money before he captivates the public. But the rest of the story is a revealing and cautionary portrait of what happens when a non-politician captures the American imagination, expresses the frustrations and aspirations of the people, wins hearts and trust, and litters the landscape with choice reminders that beneath his truth-telling lies a surly streak of contempt." --Marc Fisher

---"Off Center: Mad Max's Headroom" by David Bordwell

---making Beyonce's "Formation"

Saturday, February 6, 2016

"In want of more brains": 8 notes on Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

1) Oddly, I drove past the beginnings of a Donald Trump rally at a convention center (with many blue yard signs--Make American Great Again--pinned on the side of the road) on the way to see Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Somehow, the juxtaposition of the two forms of show business seemed appropriate.

2) Back around 2008, Quirk publisher Jason Rekulak drew lines between free public-domain novels and various popular culture trends until he became fixated on the title Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. He then handed the concept to writer Seth Grahame-Smith, who wrote the bestselling book published in 2009 that launched a brief craze for similar high concept juxtapositions such as Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (2010).

3) After about 20 minutes into director Burr Steer's version of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies in the empty Regal cineplex theater, I grew depressed, feeling bad for everyone involved. I considered how few things convey the futility of all human endeavor than the obligation to sit through such high concept tripe long after everyone's lost interest in this once clever juxtaposition. Does anyone care about zombies anymore? Hasn't that genre been played out?  Can't one assume so when people like Arnold Schwarzenegger get involved?

4) In one scene, Elizabeth Bennet (Lily James of Cinderella) and Darcy (Sam Riley) discover that they are standing in a zombie-infested cemetery, so they unsheathe their swords and commence stabbing at waving arms that rise from the earth and attempt to drag the two leads to their demise. But, since the moment (like all the others) isn't scary, so I found myself thinking of the poor extra whose blackened arm has to reach around and grasp and wave at nothing for however long it took to shoot the scene. What was that extra thinking, something along the lines of "Have I chosen the right career? Could I have been something more than a zombie arm waving about in the dirt?"

5) Pride and Prejudice and Zombies does not entertain in part due to the incoherency of the fight scenes, and because the movie sticks closely to the novel's plot, so that the incidental zombie fighting proves an egregious half-baked deformation. Many of the key scenes of the novel persist in a condensed SparkNotes form minus the wit and the intensity of the original. Nobody in the movie seems all that concerned with the zombie outbreak so the movie keeps finding ways to hype the "unmentionables" by pointing out that the zombies have taken over London (!), and the day of judgment is at hand (!) with the four horsemen of the apocalypse repeatedly appearing in top hats (!). Meanwhile, Elizabeth and her sisters make gestures towards feminist empowerment by learning Chinese fighting techniques, by assuming a five-pointed star formation when under attack, and by carrying daggers in their garter holsters. The movie's first ball proves an occasion to show off their zombie fighting techniques--stabbing, blowing off heads with 18th century firearms, and otherwise indulging in guilt-free violence against putrefied flesh--dismemberment, puncturing, and evisceration made all the more pleasant due to its lack of consequence.

6) (spoiler alert) Dastardly George Wickham (Jack Huston) eventually proves to have been a zombie all along, but somehow he appears human due to his long undying hatred for Darcy.

7) Leaning my head against the seat next to mine, I had time to consider the meaning of zombies--the flesh's eventual requirement--to rot, to disintegrate gruesomely if not disposed of in some other way. To animate the body at that point in decomposition still denies death. What if the audience were instead to watch an actual corpse left outside to swell until its stomach exploded, to listen to the sound of maggots feeding inside (said to resemble the sound of milk mixing with Rice Krispies)? If we knew the person beforehand, how would that slow process of disintegration go over? No, better to animate the flesh, turn it into a monster, and then kill it again, thereby converting a reminder of mortality into a cypher cartoon antagonist. The viewer can then focus on the handsome young leads and their regrettable decision to appear in this movie. Natalie Portman was originally signed to play Elizabeth, but in the midst of the movie's long 5 year gestation, she wisely chose to be a producer instead.

8) Meanwhile, the novel Pride and Prejudice has avoided the rot of most texts. For the original Bennet sisters, the threat of suddenly becoming destitute, the ruination of their family's reputation, or the entrapment of an unhappy marriage sufficed to create a compelling story--no violence or death needed. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies betrays our contemporary boredom with character arcs of the living and the constraints of polite society. Whereas the original Darcy fascinates due to his blend of aloofness, coldness, and reluctant passion, the Darcy of Zombies banally practices his swordsmanship by attacking bushes at night when he isn't carrying around a vial of flies to find hiding crypto-zombies. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies comes across as a besmirching of the novel, a dipping of a classic into gore, and an unfunny postmodern joke. It proves that, as in the case of Shakespeare's plays, it's better to stick to the original dialogue.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

branded links

---Composition in Storytelling

---Noah Baumbach: On Filmmaking

---"Those who read gain the world, and those who are too much on the internet lose it." --Werner Herzog

---Every Best Picture Ever

---"Well, now I will make stuff that you absolutely can't say I was the muse of." --Greta Gerwig

---Every Black Actor Who Won an Oscar

---"As consumers of culture, we are lulled into passivity or, at best, prodded toward a state of pseudo-semi-self-awareness, encouraged toward either the defensive group identity of fandom or a shallow, half-ironic eclecticism. We graze, we binge, we pick up and discard aesthetic experiences as if they were cheap toys. Which they frequently are — mass-produced widgets from the corporate assembly line." --A. O. Scott

---Laura Mulvey's top 10 Criterion choices

---Branded Dreams

---The Semantics of Adventureland's Mixtape

---"Cross-pollinated comics" by Jaakko Seppälä

---The Most Beautiful Shots in Movie History

---"Faced with writer’s block, even though they refuse to call it that, Ethan and Joel decided to put their work on Miller’s Crossing on pause, and spent three weeks 'washing out their mind.' What came to existence was the screenplay for Barton Fink" --Cinephilia and Beyond

---Jurassic World and Mad Max: Fury Road VFX

---"The slow disappearance of the academic film blog, that single-authored, ad-free space where no idea was too big, too small, or too weird, isn’t exactly a crisis—not like the academic job market crisis, or the humanities crisis, or the crisis in higher education. But I miss it. It was as if, for a short period of time, tenure requirements, the realities of the academic job market, and even capitalism itself ceased to exist." --Amanda Ann Klein

---“I really think that the war on terror makes us less safe” --Laura Poitras

---The Leonardo DiCapriOlympics

---"Ultimately, Twitter’s service is so confused and undifferentiated in the market that it’s increasingly difficult to make a clear case for its existence." --Joshua Topolsky

---"I just think that the workplace and the product should reflect the diversity of this country. Look, any fundamental change in this country has been a battle. People aren’t going to just give up — 'All right, you’re right' — and give up power. The history of the world doesn’t work like that.

I’m a student of history. The civil-rights movement, [Marlon] Brando was right there with Dr. King, marching. Paul Newman, Shirley MacLaine, James Garner, even Charlton Heston before he went over. So there’s a precedent of Hollywood being woke. People spoke up, and that’s the thing I wrote in my essay. I’m tired. Why do I gotta be the one? Why are people calling me? You guys need to be speaking to the white nominees. I want to hear from the studio heads what they’re doing about this. Why does it have to be on the black folks?" --Spike Lee

---trailers for Animals, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, and Zoolander 2

---"But 'Infinite Jest' warned against the insidious virality of popular entertainment long before anyone but the most Delphic philosophers of technology. Sharing videos, binge-watching Netflix, the resultant neuro-pudding at the end of an epic gaming marathon, the perverse seduction of recording and devouring our most ordinary human thoughts on Facebook and Instagram — Wallace somehow knew all this was coming, and (as the man himself might have put it) it gave him the howling fantods." --Tom Bissell