Efficient, nasty action scenes can't overcome mostly bland characterizations and a half-baked story.
"The Decline and Fall of The San Francisco Bay Guardian": Slate's Will Oremus reflects on the alt-weekly's legacy. Related: The San Francisco Examiner's Vince Echavaria reports on the publication's demise after 48 years. See also: Dan Raile of Pando Daily argues that "activist journalism is no longer worth its weight in wood pulp."
“The paper, founded in 1966, is shutting down for ‘financial reasons,’ the San Francisco Chronicle reported on Tuesday. The decision was made by San Francisco Media Co., the parent company that bought it in 2012 from its founder, Bruce Brugmann. ‘It is the hardest decision I’ve had to make in my 20-year newspaper career,’ the San Francisco Media Co.’s publisher, Glenn Zuehls, said in a statement. A notice on the Bay Guardian’s website says the final issue will be published on Wednesday, although one of the paper's fired leaders vowed to SFist that it will ‘live on in some form.’ The loss of the paper in its current incarnation may not deal a great blow to San Francisco. The Guardian, like many alt-weeklies, had been sliding for years as readers and local advertisers turned from print media to the Web. Over the decades, though, the Guardian as an institution had come to stand for something more than just convenient concert listings, seamy classified ads, and snarky coverage of the local political scene. It was an embodiment of a certain vision of the city—a vision of San Francisco as a haven for artists, immigrants, eccentrics, hobos, bohos, gays and lesbians, and any extant members of that perennially endangered species, the local working-class family. Today, as the city’s booming technology industry drives housing prices beyond the means of even the upper-middle class, that vision has begun to take on a sepia tone.”
"García Márquez/Kurosawa": At Kino Obscura, David Liu unearths an excerpt from a conversation between the acclaimed novelist and legendary filmmaker first published by the Los Angeles Times in 1991.
“García Márquez: ‘Has your method also been that intuitive when you have adapted Shakespeare or Gorky or Dostoevsky?’ Kurosawa: ‘Directors who make films halfway may not realize that it is very difficult to convey literary images to the audience through cinematic images. For instance, in adapting a detective novel in which a body was found next to the railroad tracks, a young director insisted that a certain spot corresponded perfectly with the one in the book. ‘You are wrong,’ I said. ‘The problem is that you have already read the novel and you know that a body was found next to the tracks. But for the people who have not read it there is nothing special about the place.’ That young director was captivated by the magical power of literature without realizing that cinematic images must be expressed in a different way.”
"'Gone Girl' Standout Kim Dickens on David Fincher and the 'Woman Problem'": An interview conducted by Vulture's Kyle Buchanan.
“A lot has been made about the movie’s supposed ‘woman problem.’ What’s your reaction to the claims that ‘Gone Girl’ is misogynistic? [Dickens:] ‘I think that’s a lame response, I really do. What, do we save all the sociopathic roles for men? I think there are several amazing female characters in this film, which is phenomenal, and it’s a mainstream movie that doesn’t cater to the idea that we have to please and be palatable to every audience, and leave everyone feeling good. I don’t think it’s misogynist at all — to me, I think it paints a three-dimensional picture of several different male and female characters. A lot of the colorful roles out there, they’re usually relegated to just men.’”
"Comedy club charges per laugh with facial recognition": A rather outrageous report from BBC's Jane Wakefield.
“A comedy club in Barcelona is experimenting with charging users per laugh, using facial-recognition technology to track how much they enjoyed the show. The software is installed on tablets attached to the back of each seat at the Teatreneu club. Each laugh is charged at 0.30 euros (23p) with a cap of 24 euros (£18). Takings are up so far. The project was developed to combat falling audience numbers. Partnering with advertising agency The Cyranos McCann, the experiment was a reaction to increased government taxes on theatre tickets, which in turn led to drastic drops in audience numbers. The results of the experiment have so far proved positive with overall ticket prices up by 6 euros, according to the theatre. The system is now being copied in other theatres around Spain.”
"Prolific Hispanic Actress Elizabeth Peña Has Passed Away": A remembrance of the actress, who died Tuesday at age 55, written by Mario Francisco-Robles of Latino Review.
“Born in Elizabeth, New Jersey and raised by her Cuban immigrant parents, Peña was destined for a career in the arts. Her father, Mario, was a playwright, director, actor, and designer in their native Cuba, who opened up the Latin American Theatre Ensemble after establishing a life for him and his family in New York. As a teen, Peña began making a name for herself as a formidable young actress in the New York theatre scene. She attended, and graduated from, the High School of Performing Arts and began her professional film career in 1978 with León Ichaso's ‘El Super.’ A few years later, the ambitious Cubana would set off to try her fortunes over on the west coast. That move would prove fruitful, as she would go on to land roles in several major films in the 1980s. By the end of that decade, she had a resumé that included ‘La Bamba,’ ‘Down and Out in Beverly Hills,’ ‘*batteries not included,’ and ‘Blue Steel.’ She even did something that was almost unheard of for a Latina actress: She had her own primetime ABC series, ‘I Married Dora.’ She played the title role of Dora in the series, which became infamous and notable because of its controversial premise- which centered on a ‘green card marriage’ that would eventually evolve into something more genuine.”
Entertainment Weekly's Darren Franich explores "How 'The Shawshank Redemption' invented Morgan Freeman, and how Morgan Freeman invented himself."