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As Above, So Below

It's that rare found-footage film with a strong premise, a memorably eccentric style, and plenty of energy to burn. It's also poorly conceived, and hard…

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The Last of Robin Hood

A title as good as "The Last of Robin Hood" deserves a better movie. In fact, it deserves a good movie.

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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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Monsieur Hire

Patrice Leconte's "Monsieur Hire" is a tragedy about loneliness and erotomania, told about two solitary people who have nothing else in common. It involves a…

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1. 

"The Wolf of Wall Street's Male Gaze": Does Martin Scorsese and "Wolf" objectify and marginalize the women its depicting? Moira Herbst dives into the issue at Aljazeera America. 

"Put more precisely, 'The Wolf of Wall Street' is dominated by the male gaze — the gaze of Jordan, of Scorsese, of Winter and of the assumed audience. Film theorist Laura Mulvey wrote about the concept in a 1975 essay, 'Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema,' in which she explains that Hollywood often forces the audience to see a film from a male perspective, causing women on screen to serve as simple objects of desire. This isn’t the fault of an individual director per se. Rather, the problem is systemic. Hollywood creates 'magic' through a manipulation of visual pleasure, coding the erotic 'into the language of the dominant patriarchal order.'"

2. 

"Career Arc: Paul Verhoeven": Alex Pappademas of Grantland does an extensive retrospective on the peculiar career of RoboCop and Total Recall director Paul Verhoeven.

"Once-hot directors go cold all the time, for all kinds of reasons, but in Verhoeven’s case what happened was pretty clear. In 1995, he made a movie called Showgirls, allegedly based on a cocktail-napkin idea from the obscenely well-compensated screenwriter Joe Eszterhas, which Carolco Pictures paid $2 million for, sight unseen. Showgirls has its defenders (partly because it’s worth defending, but we’ll get to that). Quentin Tarantino praised it as the first true exploitation film released by a major studio since Mandingo, and said that “no one else but Paul Verhoeven would have the balls to shoot that the way it should be shot.” But critics firebombed it when it was first released, the film tanked, and Verhoeven went to movie jail for a while."

3.

"The Lego Movie: Art, Toy Commercial, or Both": Members of The Dissolve staff have a conversation on the merits and themes of The Lego Movie. Related: By Bilge Ebiri at Vulture"The Lego Movie Is Practically Communist" and "The Monday Hangover: The Lego Movie" by Adam Nayman and Julien Allen at Reverse Shot.

"I liked the movie from its first moments, but I admit to feeling a little bit worn down by its relentless pace by the end of the second act. The specific point that brought me back into the film and really won me over was the one where the movie breaks from its Lego-based reality and shows us the real world, where a small child is messing with his father’s beloved toys, and gets in trouble for disturbing their carefully orchestrated arrangement. The father—or The Man Upstairs, as he’s referred to—is played by Will Ferrell (who also voices the movie’s main Lego villain, Lord/President Business), who tries to impress upon the boy the importance of maintaining order and playing with Legos the “right” way (i.e. building them according to the instructions and then admiring them from a safe distance where you can’t break them)."

4.

"The Year I Didn't Retweet Men": Over at Medium entrepreneur and author Amil Dash writes on being mindful about what voices you amplify over social media.

"More than a year ago, I began to look at a different aspect of my Twitter experience, the identities of the people whom follow. Part of the reason was that we’ve been building this tool called ThinkUp, which is all about being more thoughtful about the way we use our social networks. But part of it was my growing sense of social responsibility about what messages I choose to share and amplify, and whose voices and identities I strive to bring to a broader audience."

5. 

"Best Director: The Case for Steve McQueen": With the Oscar season coming to an end, Sasha Stone of Awards Daily makes the case for Steve McQueen (12 Years a Slave) as "Best Director."

"That Steve McQueen might break the long-standing history of America’s own closed doors to black filmmakers is ironic.  In 86 years of Oscar history, only two black directors have ever even been nominated  — and only one of them had a corresponding Best Picture nomination.  McQueen has already become the first black producer to win the Producers Guild award, the first to win the Golden Globe and the Critics Choice. Many believe he will also win the Oscar, alongside fellow producer Brad Pitt.  That he could also perhaps win Best Director seems almost inconceivable.  Though they omitted the director from last year’s Best Picture win, there is no doubt that in Hollywood if you win Best Director you hold a power position, even it only lasts for a year or two. That is a luxury never afforded to any black director, not even Spike Lee."


IMAGE OF THE DAY

In the 1800s artist William Blake illustrated dozens of photos for John Milton's acclaimed novel "Paradise: Lost." The photo above is from that collection of artwork created by Blake, which you can learn more about on Brain Pickings. 

VIDEO OF THE DAY

 

RogerEbert.com contributor Kevin B. Lee has put together a video entitled "Best Director Showdown" - arguing why David O. Russell should triumph over his contemporaries come the Academy Awards. Read more at Fandor.

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