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Ballad of Narayama

"The Ballad of Narayama" is a Japanese film of great beauty and elegant artifice, telling a story of startling cruelty. What a space it opens…

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Thumbnails 10/30/2013

1.

"Slaves of the Internet, Unite!" For The New York Times, Tim Kreider lays out the woes of being asked to write for free. Presumably, he got paid handsomely to write this. 

"Not long ago, I received, in a single week, three (3) invitations to write an original piece for publication or give a prepared speech in exchange for no ($0.00) money. As with stinkbugs, it’s not any one instance of this request but their sheer number and relentlessness that make them so tiresome. It also makes composing a polite response a heroic exercise in restraint.People who would consider it a bizarre breach of conduct to expect anyone to give them a haircut or a can of soda at no cost will ask you, with a straight face and a clear conscience, whether you wouldn’t be willing to write an essay or draw an illustration for them for nothing. They often start by telling you how much they admire your work, although not enough, evidently, to pay one cent for it. “Unfortunately we don’t have the budget to offer compensation to our contributors...” is how the pertinent line usually starts. But just as often, they simply omit any mention of payment."

2.

"On the Aftermath of '12 Years a Slave' and 'Important Black Film Fatigue.'" For Indiewire, Jana Sante conducts a discussion with four Shadow and Act: On Cinema of the African Diaspora writers. Related: For Yahoo Movies, "Killers, Slaves and Butlers: Isaiah Washington on African Americans and the Academy."


"SERGIO MIMS/SM: I still like the film but I wasn't blown away by it. It's not like the greatest thing ever made. There are some powerful scenes but I find McQueen’s 'cool, distant' approach which worked so well for Shame and Hunger is not exactly the right approach for this film. He should have been more 'in your face' than the distant 'Hmmm that's rather interesting' approach. All this talk about the film being so violent - with the exception of the whipping scene, not even remotely. I suspect what people are really reacting to is how black people are treated by white people in the film. As if they're saying 'Oh my we did THAT? Oh dear That's not like us.' Yes Django is far more violent and its depictions of slavery are way more brutal. Then again 12 Years ain't no Mandingo for sure."

3.

"Reminder: A Negative Review of Arcade Fire Is Not a Negative Review of You as a Person." For Flavorwire, Tyler Coates muses on the dangers of conflating your aesthetics with your identity. 

"Maybe I’m one of the few people on this planet who do not take umbrage with negative reviews of the things I like. Good criticism, in my mind, does not necessarily equate a correct opinion (there’s no such thing as that, obviously). Criticism, which is an art form despite what many artists might say, is made up of original thoughts about the purpose of art that transcend the critic’s personal tastes. Of course, the personal taste is there, which is why criticism isn’t perfect, either. But that’s why some of the best critics don’t just trash an album, or a film, or a book; they provide a different take on it that can be illuminating whether you agree or not. Of course, a dissenting opinion is deemed, with a convenient buzzword that fits within a 140-character limit, 'hate.' Or 'trolling.' Which is silly, because a lot of cultural critics actually care enough about art not to base their opinions on what is most likely to piss off their readers! And criticism can be quite funny, too. Take a look at Roger Ebert’s one-star reviews. Anthony Lane’s review of Mamma Mia! is a great work of comic writing. And today’s review of Reflektor in The Washington Post by Chris Richards, which begins with the line, 'Look, I’m sure they’re very nice people, but on their fourth album, ‘Reflektor,’ Arcade Fire still sound like gigantic dorks with boring sex lives,' does the same thing."

4.

"John Wayne Vanishing in Newport, Even Tavern Erasing His Name." For The Los Angeles Times,  Emily Foxhall reports that the movie star's legacy is being erased in the seaside town where he once lived.

"When the tavern opened, long after Wayne’s death, it was seen as an ode to the actor, its walls decorated with his image, its martinis strong, as he would have preferred. Wayne was a regular at the members-only club in Newport Beach and lived nearby in a mansion that overlooked the harbor, where he anchored his 130-foot boat, a former mine sweeper he christened the Wild Goose. But the mansion has since been razed, the boat sold off and his name is slowly being erased in Newport Beach. The John Wayne Tennis club was renamed Palisades Tennis Club, for example, after the Dukes tennis team left town. Only the John Wayne Airport, with its life-size statue of the actor in one of its terminals, remains. And the actor’s widow once said he disliked the airport fiercely because of the noise from passing jets."

5.

"Why Are 'Ghost,' 'Ghastly,' and 'Ghoul' Spelled With a 'Gh?'" For Mental Floss, Arika Okrent answers this burning question. It's more interesting than you may fear, thank Ghoodness. 

"We can trace the introduction of the 'h' in ghost and ghastly back to William Caxton, the man who brought the printing press to England. He had established his first press in Bruges, and he brought some Flemish typesetters back with him when he returned to set up business in Westminster. David Crystal writes, in his history of English spelling, that 'in Bruges they would have been used to reading manuscripts in Flemish spelling. So if a word reminded them of its Flemish counterpart, why not spell it that way? The boss wouldn’t mind, as long as the words were intelligible. He had more to worry about than spelling. The typesetters also used 'gh' in their spellings of 'goose,' 'goat,' and 'girl,' but those spellings never caught on. For some reason, only 'ghost” and 'ghastly' kept the 'h.' Maybe because the words looked spookier that way. Indeed, a story about the ghost of a 'ghoos ghoot gherle' sounds downright terrifying."

IMAGE OF THE DAY

"Selfies at Funerals." Dang.

VIDEO OF THE DAY

Trailer for HBO's "True Detective." 

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