Life struck me as several cuts above “meh” but never made me jump out of my seat.
"Why Quentin Tarantino Shouldn't Apologize": Essential commentary from Variety's Justin Chang.
“We can only speculate as to what was running through Tarantino’s mind when he chose to attend a Rise Up October gathering in New York on Oct. 24, where he took the stage to honor the victims and their families (among other speakers, including Cornel West, Eve Ensler and Chris Hedges). Was he trying to make amends for, or divert attention from, the statements he made in that earlier interview? Or was Tarantino — in his usual brash, outspoken, shoot-from-the-hip manner — trying to show not only that he was concerned about the issues at stake, but also that his identification with black culture transcends a mere difference in skin color? After years of talking the talk, perhaps this was his way of walking the walk: Outsider or insider, honorary brother or cultural parasite, he chose to take a stand on behalf of the African-American men and women who have been targeted by cops in such disproportionate numbers, even if the matter of race remained largely implicit in his brief onstage remarks. ‘I’m a human being with a conscience,’ Tarantino told the crowd of about 300 protestors. ‘And when I see murder, I cannot stand by, and I have to call the murdered the murdered, and I have to call the murderers the murderers.’ The word ‘murderer’ may not be quite as inflammatory as an N-bomb, but you can still understand, up to a point, why so many in law enforcement were so infuriated by it. Tarantino may be one of our most gifted screenwriters, but he is far from the most delicate. The violence in his movies has never been merely a matter of plucked eyeballs and severed ears; it’s there in the very language of his characters — the badass phrasings, the whip-crack rejoinders, the menacing pauses, the slurs and threats that get merrily tossed about like foul-mouthed grenades. Tarantino’s rally speech may have been extemporaneous, but even his off-the-cuff remarks cut deep; they reflected a master’s practiced ability to shock and wound.”
"A gender-flipped 'Ocean's Eleven' won't solve Hollywood's sexism problem": A great piece from Alyssa Rosenberg at The Washington Post.
“When the news broke that Sandra Bullock will be starring in a gender-flipped remake of ‘Ocean’s Eleven,’ it was inevitable that entertainment writers would give in to the temptation to fantasy-cast the whole lineup. I particularly liked the set of suggestions from Matt Brennan of Thompson on Hollywood, which was full of great ways to make use of actresses like Kristen Wiig’s skills as well as irresistible juxtapositions, like the possibility of Jessica Chastain and Amy Adams playing bickering sisters. The ‘Ocean’s Eleven’ franchise, which started in 1960 as a Rat Pack heist movie about a group of World War II veterans before morphing into a stylish 2001 Steven Soderbergh remake and George Clooney vehicle, followed by ‘Ocean’s Twelve’ in 2004 and ‘Ocean’s Thirteen’ in 2007, have always been an opportunity to showcase a whole lot of Hollywood talent in a supersized ensemble picture. And the idea of seizing that opportunity and using it to let Hollywood actresses play is absolutely compelling. But I felt a sense of unease at the news, and the readers of my chat appear to have felt the same hollowness as well, because a number of them asked about it this week. And I don’t think it’s just because Bullock’s movie ‘Our Brand Is Crisis,’ in which she plays a political consultant originally intended to be Clooney (whom she’ll also replace in ‘Ocean’s Eleven’), is presently tanking at the box office and earning poor reviews from critics I trust. The news about a gender-swapped ‘Ocean’s Eleven’ is the kind of thing that sounds like a step toward equality, but is rooted in an idea about women and storytelling that actually risks shutting out women’s voices and perspectives in the long run.”
"How David Lynch's 'Mulholland Dr.' is both a movie and a TV show": According to Metro's Matt Prigge.
“The second to last David Lynch movie was famously almost a TV show. ‘Mulholland Dr.’ was to be the filmmaker/transcendental meditation spokesman’s return to television after the disastrous second season of “Twin Peaks” and the quickly canceled ‘On the Air.’ He shot a 90-minute pilot, and like many before and after it, it was instantly rejected. (Lynch claims on the film’s new Criterion set that the executing exec watched it at 6 a.m. while exercising and making calls.) But not everyone is David Lynch, meaning not everyone has French financiers who will come to their aid. Lynch found himself with enough money to transform it into a theatrical movie, but he didn’t go the easy route. Or, rather, he did: He simply presented the pilot as it was shot, then tacked on an additional 45 minutes, which didn’t so much wrap things up as drag it into a more phantasmagorical (and R-rated) ether. Watching ‘Mulholland Dr.’ again in the midst of this Second Golden Age of Television makes it feel rich and strange in a different way than most Lynches. We expect the non-sequitur weirdness, the unplaceably off moods, the moments and sequences that occupy a space between reality and dreams. We know there will be an element of camp vaguely reminiscent of another ’70s midnight movie god, John Waters. (For one, both like to drudge up faded, and now aged, icons. ‘Mulholland Dr.’ boasts Ann Miller and soap star Chad Everett, just as Waters likes to grab the likes of Tab Hunter and Patty Hearst.) We know that Lynch will never explain the meaning of what happens, and maybe we know to just go along with it. Instead of ‘solving’ ‘Mulholland Dr.’ like a puzzle, we can tease out usual Lynch obsessions, like the slippery notion of identity, secret societies and, in this case at least, the annoyances of Hollywood.”
"The Trumbo sisters are proud of their Communist Party member father": In conversation with Susan King at The L.A. Times.
“Nikola and Mitzi Trumbo were red-diaper babies, the children of Communist Party members in the U.S. Their father: screenwriter Dalton Trumbo, an Oscar winner for ‘Roman Holiday’ and ‘The Brave One,’ and one of the high-profile members of the party. During the 1940s, Trumbo was the highest-paid screenwriter working in Hollywood, best known for such MGM hits as 1943's ‘A Guy Named Joe’ and 1944's ‘Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo.’ But he also was a political activist who vocally supported unions, equal pay and civil rights. His career came crashing down in 1947 when he and other writers, directors and producers known as the Hollywood Ten were subpoenaed to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee. They all refused to answer when asked, ‘Are you now or have you ever been a member of the Communist Party?’ During a recent interview with her sister in Beverly Hills, Nikola Trumbo, 76, said her father ‘always asserted that it was no one's business if he was a Communist or not.’ ‘And that he had the perfect right to his political beliefs and his privacy,’ added Mitzi Trumbo, 70. Bryan Cranston plays their father in the new biopic ‘Trumbo,’ directed by Jay Roach and penned by John McNamara. The film, which opens Friday, also stars Elle Fanning as Nikola and Diane Lane as the girls' mother, Cleo. Roach insisted that the Trumbo sisters be involved in the production. After he and McNamara had a draft of the script that they liked, they sent it to the sisters.”
"Why Are Old Women Often The Face Of Evil In Fairy Tales and Folklore?": Asks NPR's Elizabeth Blair.
“Fear old women in fairy tales. For as long as people have been telling stories, crones have been scaring the wits out of children. But why does the face of evil so often belong to an old woman?Typecasting is one explanation. ‘What do we have? Nags, witches, evil stepmothers, cannibals, ogres. It's quite dreadful,’ says Maria Tatar, who teaches a course on folklore and mythology at Harvard. Still, Tatar is quick to point out that old women are also powerful — they're often the ones who can work magic. ‘I always look to the Disney film ‘Snow White’ and that charismatic, wicked queen who is down in the cellar with her chemistry set. There's a sequence in which she turns from a beautiful, charismatic, wicked queen into an old hag,’ Tatar says. ‘I think that's a scene that is probably more frightening for adults than children because it compresses the aging process into about 20 seconds.’ The queen poisons Snow White so she'll sleep forever, and other characters are just as wretched. The old lady in Hansel and Gretel wants to roast children in her oven and the witch in The Little Mermaid cuts out Ariel's tongue. Tatar says old women villains are especially scary because, historically, the most powerful person in a child's life was the mother. ‘Children do have a way of splitting the mother figure into ... the evil mother — who's always making rules and regulations, policing your behavior, getting angry at you — and then the benevolent nurturer — the one who is giving and protects you, makes sure that you survive.’”
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