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"Bears" could have used a lot more science; more substantive information in the place of wacky one-liners. Still, the images trump everything.

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"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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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 9/9/2013

1.

"Why Sequels Will Never Die: Hollywood's Summer of Flops Was Actually Its Best Year Ever."
By Derek Thompson for The Atlantic Monthly. Hollywood's never-ending profusion of sequels and adaptations may not be artistically sound but it sure is an effective business model.

"The collapse of movie audiences, which far pre-dates Jaws and summer blockbusters, requires studios to heavily market their films since Americans' default position on movies these days is not to see them. Studios have cannily created a summer of tent-pole features to focus audience attention on a handful of months when we're taught to expect to go to the movies. 'Iron Man III' would probably make a billion dollars if it were released on a Tuesday morning in March. But lesser films might benefit from debuting in a season when audiences are predisposed to going to the movies. Making films...is a risky business. It's hard to know what 100 million people want to see each July. The sequel/adaptation strategy assumes that people want to see stories they already are familiar with. The fact that this strategy isn't risk-free (see: 'The Hangover Part III') doesn't change the fact that it's been hugely risk-mitigating."

2.

"Harper Lee Settles ‘Mockingbird’ Royalties Suit With Literary Agent." By Dominic Patten for Deadline. The long-simmering dispute between the Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist and Samuel Pinkus, her former agent, has finally been resolved. 

"This is the beginning of the end of a curious legal battle whose latest round started in the spring. In May, the 87-year old Lee filed a complaint in NY federal court, alleging that in 2002 Pinkus used the declining health of his father-in-law and Lee’s longtime agent Eugene Winick to take control of the affairs of McIntosh & Otis agency clients like the Mockingbird author. Lee also claimed that Pinkus then took advantage of a stroke she suffered back in 2007 and the fact that she was already partially deaf to trick her into signing over the copyright to her 1960 modern classic for nothing. He then supposedly slipped the work through various companies so it would be hard for Lee to legally find and to collect royalties. That didn’t work out because Lee did get the copyright back in 2012 and then obviously went after Pinkus, his Veritas Media Inc. agency and other companies, and the other defendants earlier this year for, among other things, not paying a hefty judgment ordered in arbitration on the previous case. The McIntosh & Otis agency sued Pinkus in state court a few weeks later. In a motion to dismiss the McIntosh case, Pinkus claimed that he never did anything to deprive Lee of her royalties or other funds."

3.

"A Magazine for the Career Girl." By Dominique Browning for The New Yorker. A meditation on the legacy of Judith Daniels, publisher of Savvy: The Magazine for the Executive Woman, and the state of feminism and women's magazines today.

"It was always hard for the advertising establishment to wrap its mind around female buying power. Savvy eventually reached about half a million women, morphing through various iterations, mostly in response to disbelief in that female buying power. The lack of focus only made its editorial stance more and more wobbly. It ceased publication in 1991. Judy went on to be an Executive Woman at Time Inc. and Condé Nast before she retired. Looking back over the years, I am struck by how the women’s movement itself has become wobbly. Is it a mark of feminism to make the choice to stay home and raise children? (Never mind privilege.) Is wearing plunging necklines and teensy miniskirts to work a feminist choice? (Never mind stupid.) Is the choice between partner track at that law firm and bearing children a feminist conundrum? “Women at home should not feel threatened by women who carry briefcases,” Judy said in 1977, “and the briefcase-carrying female should not feel guilty when she sees a plateful of homemade Toll House cookies.” Now it is our daughters—who will never have heard of Savvy magazine—eying those cookies guiltily. Or feeling hungry for more."

4.

"The Ultimate End-of-Life Plan." By Katy Butler for The Wall Street Journal. Because of advanced lifesaving technologies, many die in extremely prolonged deaths that compound the pain of everyone involved. Valerie Butler's death was messy but "good enough"--largely because she resisted the medical establishment's now-common practices. 

"Two-fifths of California residents die in hospitals, and a tragic one-fifth in intensive care, where deaths are often harrowing. This is an amazing disconnect in a society that prides itself on freedom of choice. This disconnect has ruinous economic costs. About a quarter of Medicare's $550 billion annual budget pays for medical treatment in the last year of life. Almost a third of Medicare patients have surgery in their last year of life, and nearly one in five in their last month of life. In their last year of life, one-third to one-half of Medicare patients spend time in an intensive care unit, where 10 days of futile flailing can cost as much as $323,000. Medical overtreatment costs the U.S. health care system an estimated $158 billion to $226 billion a year. Why don't we die the way we say we want to die? In part because we say we want good deaths but act as if we won't die at all. "

5.

"New England Sees a Return of Forests, Wildlife." By Colin Nickerson for The Boston Globe. Amongst the environmental disasters that grip national headlines, some good news has emerged: 80 percent of New England is now covered by thick woods or forests, compared to 40 percent in the mid-18th century. 

"Naturalist Thoreau believed the wilderness could never recover in New England. 'Thank God they cannot cut down the clouds!' he declared of his hyper-industrious mid-19th century neighbors. But after the Civil War, farms were abandoned by the thousands as food production moved to the richer, flatter lands across the Appalachians. New England’s population contracted into villages and cities. More recently, industry clustered along rivers — textile mills, machine tool factories — suffered economic collapse. 'The trees have marched back to their old ground,' David Foster, director of the Harvard Forest, said. 'History has given our region an extraordinary second chance to get it right.' The change occurred over generations and so is difficult to perceive. 'But drive along the back roads or even Route 2 and you can’t miss how much of Massachusetts has reverted to woods and wetlands,’ Foster said."

IMAGE OF THE DAY


Lookee here: a whole Tumblr mocking Germany's Christian Democrats party and their "You're in Good Hands" logo.

VIDEO OF THE DAY

From the "Future With Love," a low-budget sci-fi pic set in a future in which people have to pay for police protection.

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