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Life Itself

A moving, funny, raucous, wide-ranging look at the man who founded this site.

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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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Thumbnails 7/30/2013

Hollywood Studios Haven't Been Paid by China in Months." Although China has rapidly grown into one of the world's biggest markets for filmgoing, a fight over a value-added tax has stalled payments from Chinese theaters to studios, according to Pamela McClintock and Kim Masters at The Hollywood Reporter.

"In almost any other circumstance, Hollywood studios would balk at allowing their movies to continue to be released in the country. But with China on track to become the largest moviegoing market in the world within the next five years, studios are reluctant to hold back product as they establish a long-term foothold."

The Hunt

"The Age of Counter-Intuition: What Thomas Vinterberg's The Hunt Might Tell Us About the George Zimmerman Verdict, Iraq, McCarthyism, and Other American Mistakes." At Press Play, Max Winter finds American resonances in Vinterberg's Danish festival hit.

"The American imagination thrives on misinformation. Why was America’s invasion of Iraq sanctioned by so many in 2003? Because it was proposed that the country possessed weapons of mass destruction. Were supporters of the invasion sure? Chances are they weren't, at bottom. But those in charge had a hunch. And that was, for some, good enough. Why was George Zimmerman declared innocent in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin? Because his jurors couldn't prove he was guilty. Were his jurors sure he was innocent? Probably not. But in the absence of opposing evidence — or the reluctance to bring intuition to bear — they handed over their verdict. In the 1950s, why did McCarthyism stick in the public imagination, and not leave? For precisely the same reason — vast numbers of intellectually incurious Americans just weren't sure."

"How the Media Helped Anthony Weiner Become the Most Successful Exhibitionist of All Time." The New York Observer's Drew Grant argues that disgraced New York mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner has "used the media as pawns in the most brilliant example of viral marketing-cum-sexual long-con of the 21st century."

Anthony Weiner

"For someone who likes exposing himself, it was an ultimate coup, but one that couldn’t have happened unless he put himself back in the public eye…like say, throwing in his hat late in the game for New York’s mayoral candidacy. And then immediately killing it in the polls. It would be an irresistible call for the women out there looking for their 15 minutes and possible payday. (And out of all the ladies to enter into a discretionary virtual relationship with, post-scandal, what better choice than the passionately political liberal 'feminist' Sydney Leathers; the type of woman who would hoard every record of their conversations even before she felt 'betrayed' by his admittedly consistent behavior, to better leverage them against for her Ashley Dupre moment? Had Weiner stayed below radar and out of the race, Ms. Leathers might not have her exclusive swimsuit photo spread in the New York Post, and then where would she be?"

"Herc Your Enthusiasm." Launching a series on "old-school hip hop," Luc Sante takes a look at the first solo rap record.

spoonin rap

"Spoonie Gee's 'Spoonin' Rap,' released in 1979, was the first solo rap recording. Its release was strictly local at first, but it was epochal. The label of the 12-inch single (Sound of New York, USA QC708A) has the plain look of early rap records, about midway between the crude rubber-stamp graphics of Jamaican releases and the slickness of disco 45s. Under the umbrella of its title, which applies to both sides, it has subtitles: 'A Drive Down the Street'; 'I Was Spanking and Freaking' (A side); 'I Don’t Drink Smoke or Gamble Neither'; 'I'm the Cold Crushing Lover' (B side). Half are episodes and half are claims, set out like signposts, like undercards on a boxing poster, like chapter titles in a Henry Fielding novel."

The Simpsons 2

"The Simpsons Draws Up Plans for Cable." After 24 years on the air, the show eyes a new distribution strategy, TV Guide reports.

"According to multiple insiders, Twentieth Television (the syndication arm of Simpsons producer 20th Century Fox Television) is getting ready to shop the show to cable networks for the first time, and will do so some time within the next year. As word spreads of the upcoming Simpsons sale, several cable executives acknowledge that they would love to get their hands on the long-running hit. 'There's a pent-up demand for it,' says one source."

Image of the day

amusement park by the sea

"America in the 1970s: The Southwest," at The Atlantic.

Video of the day

1980's TV adaptation of Ursula K. Le Guin's sci-fi novel "The Lathe of Heaven."

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