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Thumbnails 5/26/15

1.

"Shoes That Put Women in Their Place": A terrific column from Elizabeth Semmelhack at The New York Times.

“You can’t even really see the shoes. In many of the photos of women on the red carpet at the Cannes Film Festival, the elegant gowns fall all the way to the ground, obscuring a view of their special-occasion footwear. So why on earth would it matter if women entering the prestigious celebration of cinema chose not to confine themselves in difficult-to-walk-in heels, opting for something more manageable — or even fashion-forward, in a flat? It did seem to matter to someone, though. It was reported last week that some women were turned away from the festival for the sartorial sin of wearing flats. High heels, it turns out, appeared to be part of the unwritten red-carpet dress code. Wearing heels changes how you stand, how you walk and how you are perceived. Even if they are visible only in small flashes, when a hem moves to one side, they are, in essence, a foundation garment: shoes that keep women in their place.”

2.

"Variety Critics Debate the Best and Worst of Cannes 2015": An engaging conversation between Peter Debruge, Scott Foundas and Justin Chang.

“Maybe my appreciation for ‘Dheepan’ will grow upon second viewing. (I certainly hope so. I’ll be the first to admit to seeing it under less-than-ideal circumstances, at an 8:30 a.m. press screening, immediately following the all-nighter spent reviewing Gaspar Noe’s midnight entry, ‘Love.’) At the very least, the film brings a fresh angle to the French immigrant genre, focusing on a Sri Lankan ‘family’ — related not by blood, but a desire to escape their war-torn homeland for a better life — who are confronted by violence and injustice in their new home (I never quite bought those crime-movie elements, undermining everything that unspools from there). For me, the clear masterpiece of the competition (and there are several) is ‘Son of Saul,’ a debut film from Hungarian director Laszlo Nemes which tells a powerful story of moral ambiguity, centered around a group of Jewish prisoners tasked with aiding the Nazis in their extermination work. Coming into the festival, this was the film I dreaded most: a Holocaust film from an unknown director who got his start working for Bela Tarr. Some have accused the result of being ‘torture porn,’ but to me, it sounded like pure torture — which is one of many reasons I was ultimately so impressed by the film’s thoughtful, self-aware engagement with the challenge of depicting its own subject, typically pushing the horrors off-frame or out-of-focus while the characters themselves struggle to convey the atrocities happening around them.”

3.

"The Saturday Rumpus Essay: O Martyr My Martyr!": A great piece from Amanda Parrish Morgan at The Rumpus.

“I can’t decide which interpretation Peter Weir intended. The heavy-handed allusions to various Romantic poets make Whitman’s poem the likely key. If Keating is Lincoln, he’s emancipated the boys from a life of servitude (he even tells Neil ‘you are not an indentured servant!’—a line that I loved so much in high school that I wrote it down and hung it on my wall, despite the fact that neither my parents nor my teachers had done anything to make me feel remotely indentured to them) and the cost is his own life. The boys, like the speaker of ‘O Captain My Captain,’ stand to salute their fallen hero. Like servicemen, in uniform. Are we supposed to glean something megalomanical about Keating’s cultivation, like the much more overtly nefarious Jean Brodie, of a set of student admirers? Or are we meant to take Neil’s death and Keating’s dismissal as casualties of The System and the boys’ standing salute as a sign that despite the death and the dismissal, Keating has changed lives and leaves a legacy of day-seizing boys in his wake? On March 31, 2015, the New York State Legislature voted to approve a new education budget that would tie a teacher’s evaluation even more closely to standardized test scores. Much has already been written about the problems with highly incentivized standardized tests, not the least of which involve the impossibility of fairly comparing a teacher of an AP class in a wealthy suburban district to a teacher of struggling students in a high school without adequate resources. Even in my own wealthy, safe, high-achieving district, the ways in which tying teacher evaluations to standardized test scores changes the nature of teaching were both clear and alarming.”

4.

"John Williams Says His New 'Star Wars' Score Will Include the Original Themes": The incomparable composer chats with Vanity Fair's Bruce Handy.

“How has it been different working with J.J. Abrams compared to working with George Lucas? [Williams:] ‘It’s actually very similar. My meetings with George had to do with spotting the film, selecting areas in which music would be played, and pretty much we agreed on all that. He always left me free to write the music. And J.J.’s done the same thing. We’ve had a few preliminary meetings, and I’ve played him some music at the piano, which he seemed to like very much. His latest instruction to me was, ‘Just do your thing.’ Which is giving me a good sense of freedom, a good free swing at the ball. I don’t know how much you know of him, but he is a delightful person. Enormously bright. I’ve been very impressed with him in meetings with a great variety of people. His generalship is assured and warm and inviting and inclusive. If I can say it, he’s a fabulous young man who’s future is so brilliant and so promising. I don’t know how old he is, but he’s a young man to me. [Abrams is 48; Williams is 83.] He’s enormously impressive.’”

5.

"Jane Fonda: 'Plastic surgery bought me a decade'": The iconic actress discusses her latest comeback with The Guardian's Catherine Shoard.

“Fonda leans forward, channelling gran as styled by Cartier. ‘Looking at age from the outside is so scary. But when you’re inside age – and I’m very much inside age – it isn’t scary at all. You need maturity to learn this, but it’s important to figure out what you need to do for yourself every day to decompress. I meditate. And I always get eight hours’ sleep.’ That means last night she was sure to leave the yacht party on the dot of 10pm; her other daily must-have, a vodka martini, denied her by a waiter who brought a bottle of vermouth, not a cocktail. Her face nearly creases with laughter. ‘The French are about wine. I can’t wait to get home though.’ Fonda perches, graceful as a mantis, on a Cannes hotel roof terrace overlooking the ocean. The wind whips so hard the awnings creak like the galley of a slave ship and I can barely see her for my hair. Fonda’s immaculate caramel waves barely move. ‘I’m two years older than my dad was when he died,’ she says calmly. Five months before, she’d picked up Henry’s best actor Oscar for ‘On Golden Pond’ (he was too ill to attend). ‘Katharine Hepburn was three years younger than I am now when she made that movie. People looked older back then. I wish I were brave enough to not do plastic surgery but I think I bought myself a decade.’”

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