Sunday, October 30, 2011
Your Friday Links, on Sunday
Politics Goes to the Movies: 'Margin Call'
The first two reviews I read of J.C. Chandor’s new financial-meltdown drama Margin Call were startling in their incongruity, at least with regards to the current events in downtown Manhattan. David Edelstein, in New York Magazine: “[T]he fine men and women dug in downtown need to get themselves a big screen, a projector, and a few thousand tubs of popcorn, because J. C. Chandor’s Margin Call is to Occupy Wall Street what The China Syndrome was to Three Mile Island: the fiction that will make it, here in Movie-Mad America, ever so much more real.” Melissa Anderson, meanwhile, in the Village Voice: “Chandor’s debut feature audaciously asks us to empathize with obscenely overpaid risk analysts and their bosses, a gambit that fails not only because of what’s happening at Zuccotti Park, but largely because his characters are little more than mouthpieces for blunt speechifying and Mamet-like outbursts.” So which is it? A field-trip worthy cinematic accompaniment to the cause, or a tone-deaf apologia for those in its sights?
From the Village Voice:
Greil Marcus Revisits Some Strange Days...
Greil Marcus would like to talk about his iPhone.
“Look at the iPhone,” he says, picking it up from next to him on the couch in his crisply decorated, sun-soaked West Village apartment. “You know, it’s good looking…” He pushes the button at the bottom, and his home screen pops up. “I mean, isn’t that cool?” He points at the app logos. “What does that mean? Look at all those talismanic symbols—I wonder what they are?” He contemplates the object. “It was derided by all sorts of people, and I was probably one of them, as some sort of expensive status symbol, or just the latest electronic fetish object … But then people discover not only is it beautiful, not only is it cool—in the best sense of the word—but it’s also useful. And it really does make life easier. And not only does it make life easier, but it makes life more interesting and fun.”
Pauline Kael: A Life in the Dark Zooms In
No figure in the relatively brief history of American film criticism has proven as iconic, distinctive, or divisive as Pauline Kael, resident iconoclast of The New Yorker’s “Current Cinema” section during some of the best years of cinema (and several after that as well). Allergic to over-intellectualism and prone to fits of hyperbole, Kael was accused of picking fights and playing favorites. Filmmakers feared her, cinephiles adored her, editors dreaded her. But in her expansive essays, she took on American movies with an infectious enthusiasm and uncommon sincerity, and did it with a freedom and dexterity of prose that was, in its own way, revolutionary.
10 Memorable Cinematic Alter Egos
This Thursday, Bruce Robinson’s adaptation of Hunter S. Thompson’s novel The Rum Diary opens across the country. Based on an early novel by the good doctor of gonzo journalism, the role of Thompson’s stand-in, journalist “Paul Kemp,” is being played by Johnny Depp—who has, with this film, pretty much planted is flag for good on the island of “cinematic portrayals of Hunter S. Thompson.” After the jump, we’ll take a closer look at Depp’s ongoing onscreen personification of the late Thompson, and nine more actors who became the cinematic avatars for distinctive writers and filmmakers.
Open Thread: What Are the Essential Horror Movies?
As we discussed last week, it’s a weird month to be a movie buff it you’re not also a horror movie fan. All of your cinephile friends on Twitter and on message boards are breathlessly updating their progress on whatever insane Halloween-month horror movie challenge they’ve undertaken (some do the “31 Days, 31 Horror Movies” thing; others push even further, proclaiming that they’ll do a full 100 scary flicks by month’s end); creepshows of all stripes are analyzed, recommended, and quoted. It’s even tougher to get by if you’re expected to write about cinema—where are your horror movie lists? What’s your ten scariest? Ten scariest horror movie kids? Ten bloodiest? Ten goofiest? And so on, and so on.
Festival Favorite ‘Shame’ Gets the NC-17, Because of Genitals
Shame, the sex addiction drama from director Steve McQueen that wowed audiences at the Telluride, Toronto, and New York Film Festivals (where we somehow managed to miss every single screening), has been officially branded with an NC-17 by the MPAA. The application of the rating, which prohibits anyone under the age of 17 from seeing the film (whether with an adult guardian or not), doesn’t come as much of a surprise to anyone who has seen the picture; star Michael Fassbender reportedly spends a healthy percentage of the film’s running time in his birthday suit, and without the artful and careful coverage of his man-parts that is required to get the R. (Co-star Carey Mulligan goes full-frontal as well, but that, of course, is perfectly acceptable within the R rating, so hi double standard, how ya doin.)
Our Favorite ’80s Horror Covers from Fake Criterions
We’ve made occasional mention of our love for the “Fake Criterons” tumblr, in which the striking graphics, clever designs, and isolated imagery of that preeminent cinephile line is applied to films that are, for the most part, entirely undeserving of inclusion among that “continuing series of important classic and contemporary films.” But that site has gone above and beyond this month, with their “Faked from the Dead” series, comprised entirely of fake Criterions for 1980s-era horror movies (From their challenge: "Summer camps, creepy basements, old caretakers, guys with improbable masks, dime store psychologists, abandoned insane asylums, broken down cars in the middle of nowhere- all of it"). Their many contributors risen to the occasion, and have created dozens of sharp, funny, and downright ridiculous covers. After the jump, we’ve selected a few of our faves.
Trailer Park: You Know, For Kids!
Welcome to “Trailer Park,” our regular Friday feature where we collect the week’s new trailers all in one place and do a little “judging a book by its cover,” ranking them from worst to best and taking our best guess at what they may be hiding. We’ve got six new trailers this week, with an emphasis on family-friendly fare. Check ‘em out after the jump.