"Eye Candy": At Aeon Magazine, Mohan Matthen writes about where our appreciation for items of aesthetic beauty emanates from.
"In every culture on Earth, people decorate their possessions and themselves, and enjoy visual art. They stare in awe at vast landscapes and the starry sky, and they sing and dance, and make instrumental music. Why? The answer seems obvious: it gives them pleasure. But why should it? What benefit does the capacity for aesthetic pleasure bestow on the human organism?"
"Why Chris Evans Is Retiring, and Why Other Actors Might Follow In Suit": Gabe Toro at CinemaBlend explains a future in which movie stars jettison their craft after being exhausted by the Hollywood system.
"We overestimate the passion for movie-star acting that some performers might have. Acting, certainly, is a passion, and a worthy one. But you act to act, you act to perform, you act to find new truths, new depths. You don’t act to become a movie star, and the bigger the star you are, the less acting you’re actually doing. And in the age of superhero movies and endless franchises, your creative expression is limited if you wear a mask and hold a shield and run through explosions."
"Passing Notes on Paul Thomas Anderson's The Master": Kenji Fujishima and Carson Lund at In Review Online pay tribute to the late Philip Seymour Hoffman by having a conversation about Paul Thomas Anderson's The Master.
"For our second Passing Notes feature, Carson and I wanted to find a way to pay tribute to the late, great actor Philip Seymour Hoffman, who died last month, on Feb. 2, at the much-too-young age of 46 from a massive drug overdose. Since I chose Mean Streets in our inaugural conversation, I allowed Carson to pick the film this time, and thus our follow-up exchange is on Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master. As someone who found himself not fully sold on the film itself even after two theatrical viewings upon its release in the fall of 2012, I was curious to see how I’d respond to this third viewing (albeit on Blu-ray and not in 70mm, as was the case with those earlier two screenings). My reaction this time around surprised the heck out of me, to say the least."
"How the Latest YA Adaptations are Flipping the Script on Cinematic Romance": The latest trend in Tinsel town is translating YA novels into major motion pictures. Kate Erbland at Film School Rejects dives into more detail.
Like it or not, Hollywood’s current obsession with adapting (any and all, apparently) YA novels to the big screen got its biggest push from the tremendous success of the Twilight novels. The Stephenie Meyer-penned series set the stage for a hefty number of teen-centric (and paranormally influenced) features to go the cinematic route, even as her blockbuster franchise presented a very problematic view of teen romance and sexual obsession (something I touched upon before the first Hunger Games arrived in theaters). In the post-Twilight years, a number of other YA adaptations have arrived, bolstered by big-time romances that often overshadow stories that ostensibly center on youngsters (mainly girls) exploring special powers, from Beautiful Creatures to The Mortal Instruments. Being magical or immortal or witchy or intelligent might be a good thing, but it’s not the most important thing – but that’s starting to change.
"Oculus Founder says Facebook deal will make virtual reality cheaper and better": The big news from the tech world yesterday was Facebook's purchase of Oculus. Sean Hollister at The Verge talks about the benefits.
"One year ago, Oculus founder Palmer Luckey told me that his virtual reality headset company had no intention to sell. He said that the team had agreed, for the time being, to stay independent — to make sure that it didn't have to cater to another company's business strategy in order to further its goals. When Oculus raised $100 million in funding, it seemed that independence was assured, even though the company picked up a few new bosses along the way. But today, Facebook bought Oculus for $2 billion, including $400 million in cash."
Here's the queue for food at a Syrian refugee camp.
Culture enriches everything Joe Sabia. He created this time machine for The Office. It's kind of amazing. Read more here.