The House


Don't Ask Don't Tell

A long-awaited Pentagon report on the impact of lifting the ban on gays serving openly in the U.S. military was released today. In a surprise to no one except for John McCain, the study argues that gay troops could serve openly without hurting the military's ability to fight.

Starting sometime today, you can preview a track from Let England Shake, the forthcoming album from the greatest living female musician.

House contributor John Lingan on his relationship with Darren Aronofsky's Requiem for a Dream, then and now.

Anne Hathaway and James Franco are cool actors. Now they're Oscar hosts. Gross.

In more tasteful awards news, Debra Granik's Winter's Bone owned the Gotham Awards last night.

Dennis Lim reviews Lisandro Alonso's Liverpool, now on DVD from Kino International, for the Los Angeles Times.

Patti Smith interviews Johnny Depp for Vanity Fair.

Saul Austerlitz on Jonathan Rosenbaum's Goodbye Cinema, Hello Cinephillia.

Is this a threat? Richard Kelly has written an animated prequel to Southland Tales.

Links for the Day: A collection of links to items that we hope will spark discussion. We encourage our readers to submit candidates for consideration to ed@slantmagazine.com and to converse in the comments section.

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TAGS: academy awards, anne hathaway, dennis lim, don't ask don't tell, goodbye cinema hello cinephillia, gotham independent film awards, james franco, johnny depp, jonathan rosenbaum, let england shake, liverpool, patti smith, pj harvey, requiem for a dream, richard kelly, saul austerlitz, southland tales, winters bone


Tiny Furniture

I first became aware of Lena Dunham's film Tiny Furniture when Glenn Kenny posted about how, during an interview, Dunham thoughtlessly knocked James Mason in Nicholas Ray's Bigger Than Life (1956). Consequently, I was not exactly in a receptive state of mind for Tiny Furniture, especially following in the wake of a consistent little avalanche of press coverage on the film culminating in a New Yorker profile on Dunham and a round of "special" screenings all over town before the movie landed at the IFC Center. No film or filmmaker needs this type of overexposure; the overdone publicity will help Tiny Furniture get known and seen, but it is also going to alienate a lot of people in advance, and I would have to include myself among the preemptively alienated. So when I finally watched Dunham's movie, I was pleasantly surprised to find that it's a fairly sharp comedy about a certain artsy social group that leaves a lot of things open to individual interpretation. The day before I saw Tiny Furniture, I watched Sofia Coppola's Somewhere, a movie that also comes from a place of privilege, as Dunham's film does, but of a very different kind.

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TAGS: alex karpovsky, carroll dunham, david call, elaine may, elle fanning, jeannie berlin, laurie simmons, lena dunham, sofia coppola, somewhere, stephen dorff, tiny furniture


Leslie Nielsen

MUBI's David Hudson collects the plethora of remembrances honoring the life and career of the great Leslie Nielsen.

In other sad news, Irvin Kershner, by most accounts the director of the only good Star Wars film, has died in Los Angeles. He was 87.

David Lynch wants to be a pop star.

Sight & Sound has polled a bunch of critics and come up with its Best of 2010. The top dog—and future Oscar-winner (you wait and see)—is David Fincher's The Social Network. The full list is available at MUBI.

The top 10 revelations from WikiLeaks cables.

David Bordwell compares Variety with The Hollywood Reporter.

Salon is open to a merger. So are we…cough, cough.

Links for the Day: A collection of links to items that we hope will spark discussion. We encourage our readers to submit candidates for consideration to ed@slantmagazine.com and to converse in the comments section.

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TAGS: david bordwell, david fincher, david hudson, irvin kershner, leslie nielsen, mubi, salon, star wars, the hollywood reporter, the social network, variety, wikileaks


Feed the Kitty

Matt Zoller Seitz on all the things that remind him of her.

A day ago I thought Kanye West would finally win the Grammy for Album of the Year. Not so much anymore.

Melissa Anderson swoons for Lillian Gish.

Graham Fuller on Peter Bogdanovich's The Last Picture Show.

Links for the Day: A collection of links to items that we hope will spark discussion. We encourage our readers to submit candidates for consideration to ed@slantmagazine.com and to converse in the comments section.

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TAGS: graham fuller, kanye west, lillian gish, mark twain, matt zoller seitz, melissa anderson, peter bogdanovich, salon, the last picture show, the village voice


The Break of Noon

David Duchovny is one of those actors where you can never really tell if he's flagrantly bad or awesomely great—and his diabolical, Cheshire-cat act has been one of the great mysteries of celebrity acting for years now. From his Mulder days on The X-Files, where Duchovny's flat, knowing line readings were deliriously inventive, to his Californication rascal of late, you just can't figure the dude out. And something tells me that in that Ivy League-educated/Celebrity Jeopardy!-champ head of his, he knows how to play you like a violin.

So herein lies one of the most wizardly examples of celeb casting ever. Playing an office massacre's sole survivor (named John Smith, natch) who tries to convince the world he has been touched by God while furtively eyeballing possible fame from the wreckage, Duchovny orchestrates Neil LaBute's new play The Break of Noon like a virtuoso, simply in that you never can tell what is sincere and what is, as described in one of David Lynch's most prized films, horsepucky. Trying to change his whoring, gambling ways, John is right in line with LaBute's stage men: searching, intense, befuddled by women. But eschewing his 11th-hour twisteroos, the LaBute of recent years unleashes surprising challenges to himself, even nakedly addressing his own past criticism in one key scene when John appears on a talk show with a caustic, pointed hostess (Tracee Chimo, arch but fully committed) that results in the latter exclaiming, "Us women can be awfully touchy when it comes to gender." But this self-reflexive nature hasn't dulled the big boy one bit. Say what you will, the man writes killer two-person scenes (not to mention this production has two boffo monologues), and in this current climate of let's-talk-about-our-feelings plays clogging our institutional theaters, his dramatic bravado is worthy of bravos.

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TAGS: amanda peet, david duchovny, hans christian andersen, jo bonney, john earl jelks, kneehigh theatre, lucille lortel theatre, neil labute, patrycja kujawska, st. ann's warehouse, the break of noon, the red shoes, tracee chimo


Condoms

The Roman Catholic church has entered the 20th century (somewhat): According to Pope Benedict XVI, putting a condom on is less evil than spreading AIDS.

It's only a matter of time before this happens for real.

Matt Zoller Seitz on the extraordinary rise of AMC.

Julien Guiomar and Ingrid Pitt have passed. You may know him as the Spanish pirest from Luis Buñuel's The Milky Way and her for traipsing through a number of Hammer films.

Michael Atkinson on Weimar cinema.

Armond White is rejoicing today: Jennifer Jason Leigh has served Noah Baumbach with divorce papers.

A requiem for Nicolas Cage:

Links for the Day: A collection of links to items that we hope will spark discussion. We encourage our readers to submit candidates for consideration to ed@slantmagazine.com and to converse in the comments section.

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TAGS: amc, armond white, ingrid pitt, jennifer jason leigh, julien guiomar, matt zoller seitz, michael atkinson, nicolas cage, noah baumbach, pope benedict xvi, weimar


[Editor's Note: House Playlist is a new series dedicated to highlighting our favorite new singles, leaked songs, and album tracks. Found something we should hear? Let us know!]

Nicki Minaj featuring Eminem, "Roman's Revenge." The standout track from Nicki Minaj's debut, Pink Friday, is a duel for the ages. Well, not a duel so much as a tag team, with Minaj's alter ego/"twin sister" Roman and Slim Shady trading combative verses—not at each other, but at rival female rappers (rumors are that Minaj's second verse is directed at Lil Kim) and…some chick who stole Eminem's music, apparently. Em's trademark misogyny is back with a vengeance (he boasts about tying up said music pirate to a bed and pissing on her), as is his homophobia (early on he passes up the chance to rhyme "attack it" with "faggots," but then goes on to use the word at the start of his second verse, claiming he's "no homo," all the while obsessing on his favorite subject: anal penetration). It would be all so yawn-inducing if Minaj and Eminem's rhymes weren't so tightly wound and if Swizz Beatz's programming, thick synths, and angelic choirs weren't so relentless. Sal Cinquemani

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TAGS: eminem, house playlist, jim noir, mogwai, nicki minaj, pink friday, romans revenge, the radio dept.


The Fountain

[Editor's Note: The Conversations is a House feature in which Jason Bellamy and Ed Howard discuss a wide range of cinematic subjects: critical analyses of films, filmmaker overviews, and more. Readers should expect to encounter spoilers.]

Jason Bellamy: I first learned of Darren Aronofsky in 1998 when I stumbled upon an episode of the CBS show 48 Hours, back before the series was obsessed with mysteries. The episode in question was called "Making It," and it chronicled the lives of various people who were, or seemed to be, on the cusp of losing their anonymity. Among those featured were author Nicholas Sparks, actor Vin Diesel and Aronofsky. Sparks, at that point, had already transitioned from modest pharmaceutical salesman to bestselling author with The Notebook, and Diesel, by the time of the show's airing, had already landed a role in Steven Spielberg's Saving Private Ryan, which would become the most talked about film of that summer. Those men had, to one degree or another, "made it." But Darren Aronofsky's ascension seemed a little less certain. "Making It" documented Aronofsky's efforts to sell his debut feature film Pi, the creation of which had been financed through the donations of family and friends, at that year's Sundance Film Festival. And, sure enough, by the end of Sundance, and by the end of 48 Hours, Pi had a buyer. Aronofsky's film was a success. But, at least in my mind, Aronofsky hadn't quite made it. It's one thing to find a studio willing to write a check to distribute a film that's already in the can. It's another thing to get that check ahead of time, to become a contracted filmmaker.

I begin with that story because today, 12 years later, Aronofsky has certainly "made it," and yet he remains somewhat anonymous and/or indistinct. Perhaps his upcoming film, Black Swan, which we'll cover in the second part of this conversation, will change that. But at the moment I wonder if Aronofsky's name means anything to the average moviegoer, the kind of person who makes it to the theater about four times a year, perhaps to see a pair of blockbusters and a pair of Best Picture nominees. Between Pi and Black Swan, Aronofsky has directed just three films—Requiem for a Dream (2000), The Fountain (2006) and The Wrestler (2008)—so perhaps it's Aronofsky's modest output that keeps him somewhat overlooked. Or maybe Aronofsky's films, though far from inaccessible or alienating, aren't mainstream enough to make him a household name. (X-Men Origins: Wolverine 2 might change that.) But I suspect that the main reason Aronofsky isn't better known among average moviegoers is due to his lack of a specific reputation or legend among film buffs. Requiem for a Dream, The Fountain and The Wrestler are each, to some degree or another, controversial films, but Aronofsky himself isn't a polarizing figure. His name doesn't spark an immediate opinion among cinephiles in the fashion of Christopher Nolan, M. Night Shyamalan or Alfonso Cuarón, to name some filmmakers who have been releasing movies for roughly the same amount of time.

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TAGS: black swan, darren aronofsky, pi, requiem for a dream, the conversations, the fountain, the wrestler


Interim

For Fandor, Michael Joshua Rowin looks at Stan Brakhage's debut Interim.

The L Magazine has compiled the top Tweets in response to Pitchfork's 10.0 review of Kanye West's My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, including a few from Owen Pallett, no doubt stinging that his last album, Heartland, only got an 8.6 from Pitchfork.

If David Lynch directed Spider-Man, what would the posters look like?

Jim Emerson has problems with David Thomson's The New Biographical Dictionary of Film.

A trailer-ific presentation of the films shortlisted for Oscar's feature-length documentary trophy.

A coroner has ruled that George Hickenlooper died last month from an accidental overdose.

Dennis Lim looks at Criterion's upcoming box set America Lost and Found: The BBS Story.

The Associated Press reports a breakthrough in the fight against AIDS.

TSA screeners give their point of view on enhanced pat downs.

Links for the Day: A collection of links to items that we hope will spark discussion. We encourage our readers to submit candidates for consideration to ed@slantmagazine.com and to converse in the comments section.

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TAGS: academy awards, aids, america lost and found the bbs story, bill maher, david lynch, david thomson, family guy, george hickenlooper, interim, kanye west, my beautiful dark twisted fantasy, pitchfork, stan brakhage, the new biographical dictionary of film, tsa


Yann Arthus-Bertrand

Yann Arthus-Bertrand's photographs the Earth from above.

Terry Gilliam turns 70 today.

Darren Aronofsky, looking like at least two of Black Swan's characters rolled into one, explains why he wanted to make The Wolverine.

Chris Stangl on The X-Files and "Closure."

Yesterday, the Simpson family went to Pandora:

Links for the Day: A collection of links to items that we hope will spark discussion. We encourage our readers to submit candidates for consideration to ed@slantmagazine.com and to converse in the comments section.

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TAGS: avatar, black swan, chris stangl, darren aronofsky, terry gilliam, the simpsons, the wolverine, the x-files, yann arthus-bertrand







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