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Thumbnails 10/4/2013

1.

"Munchausen Weekend." At The Hurting, Tim O'Neil offers a rare defense of Boardwalk Empire.

"The show is at its best at its most cynical: this isn't a program to offer an optimistic view of humanity. The mobsters are terrible people, and watching them battle amongst themselves has an appeal similar to watching a gang of scorpions trapped in a bottle. We root for some of them because they seem less disgusting than the others. And we root for Nucky because he seems more interesting than any of his rivals. Although he is obsessed with control, it's not pathological. He's smart enough to know that no sane person would be in his business. He has a realistic understanding of what exactly is at stake with every choice he makes. And that perspective makes him not merely a unique figure in the history of mafia stories, but one of a handful of truly extraordinary characters in the history of television."

2.

"‘The Wes Anderson Collection’ and Anderson’s Answer to the Manic Pixie Dream Girl." Alyssa Rosenberg for ThinkProgress  explores the "woman question" in the director's body of work. Related: "The Wes Anderson Collection"  By RogerEbert.com's Matt Zoller Seitz.

"I think it would be very, very easy for many of Anderson’s female characters to be Manic Pixie Dream Girls if they were the creations of any other director. But one of the things I love so dearly about Anderson’s work is that much of it exists as a rebuke to the idea that women exist solely to change the lives of the men who adore them for the better, or even that women need to reciprocate the love of men who are obsessed with them at all. In Rushmore, for example, Max Fischer sets out to win over Rosemary Cross the way he does everyone else, with sheer persistence, and the force of his enthusiasm. Max doesn’t particularly care that it’s inappropriate for him to be chasing a widowed teacher at her school, and he’s too young to sense that his bragging about fictional sexual encounters between them will get back to her. When Rosemary finds out the way Max has been talking about her, the movie is respectful of her anger."

3.

"Philippe Garrel’s “Jealousy”: I Filmed the Angels." For Mubi, Boris Nelepo puts the French director's latest in (cosmic) perspective.

"The sad motif coursing through the film is that of dreams deferred, aspirations abandoned, and ideals crushed. As another terrible day at the office draws to a close, the little girl's mother reminds Louis that it seems like yesterday they were dreaming of only doing the things they liked. He does remember, though; that's why he at one point states, 'I know who I am.' In fact, this knowledge defines him in full; it is for this knowledge alone that he's willing to sacrifice his family and starve. The pattern continues as his new girlfriend, just like the previous one, finally gives up after a six-year unavailing search for an acting job. She simply doesn't fit in, whether on stage or in real life, sometimes literally bumping into furniture, unable to cope with their top-floor apartment's cramped space. The ascetic interiors are captured in widescreen, black and white 35 mm ('The only luxury to which I have access,' the filmmaker admits in an interview) by Willy Kurant, Garrel's second-time collaborator and one of the last surviving keepers of the New Wave secrets—the ones he has learned from working with Godard and Pialat. As is usually the case with Garrel, the score adds nuance to what we see unfold on the screen."

4.

"On 'Seconds.'" At Film Freak Central, Walter Chaw explores director John Frankenheimer's 1966 film.

"Seconds is not just one of the best films of the Sixties, it's one of the best films of the Seventies as well. It's bleak, absolutely hopeless, devastating...every adjective that applies to a work that pinions what it is to be depressingly human to the proverbial wall. Its casting is perfect, the performance Frankenheimer gets from Rock Hudson no less so. In Seconds, Hudson manifests something very much like relief; it's the defining role of his career, at once pinnacle and summary statement. Herein, Hudson is allowed finally to play the pain of a life lived inauthentically through scenes of torture literal and figurative--through depicting what it was like to be someone so desirable and envied who was unable, for all that, to be the master of the way he lived his life. In this way, Seconds is also a handy commentary on the end of the Studio system, with its carefully-cultivated personae and the thuggery required to maintain them--the prejudice and tyranny of public opinion, the price of celebrity. It's an expression of frustration that you see in Hudson's performance, yes, but mostly it's an expression of fear."

5.

"Alleged Silk Road Drug Lord Led Double Life as Entrepreneur." For Good Morning America, Kevin Dolak reports on Ross William Ulbricht, 29, whose Internet company was dubbed the "Amazon of illegal drugs" by the FBI because it moved $1 billion in drugs while he masqueraded as a clean-cut businessman. Paging Gustavo Fring?

"Ulbricht was even a public social media user. A cursory search brings up his Facebook page, and conversations he had with close friend René Pinnell were posted on YouTube, though they have now been removed. According to his LinkedIn profile, which features a clean-cut headshot, he is a 2010 Penn State graduate and investment adviser and entrepreneur who 'studied physics in college and worked as a research scientist for five years,' until moving in a new direction. 'Now, my goals have shifted,' he wrote on his LinkedIn page. 'I want to use economic theory as a means to abolish the use of coercion and aggression amongst mankind. Just as slavery has been abolished most everywhere, I believe violence, coercion and all forms of force by one person over another can come to an end.'"

IMAGE OF THE DAY

According to Fox News, there's no government shutdown--just a "slimdown."  Right, and WIC recipients are "just dieting." 

VIDEO OF THE DAY

"Bergman's Dreams." A video essay by Michael Koresky and Casey Moore for The Criterion Collection.

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