The House


Habana Eva

The representation of Cuba in cinema is exceptionally difficult to separate from its political context. Whenever the island is invoked in the movies, narratives turn into statements, if not full-blown mystery plays, designed for the exorcism of geopolitical demons. It's something that can be seen all the way from Tomás Gutiérrez Alea's landmark interrogation of his post-revolution society in Memories of Underdevelopment to the imperialist bombast of Bad Boys II and its "Let's invade Cuba, and do it right this time" finale.

Along with the premiere of the architectural documentary Unfinished Spaces, this year's Los Angeles Film Festival shone an international spotlight on Cuba, screening a quartet of films from and about the island nation. The films run a gamut of genres from reflective documentary to romantic comedy, but they are all unified by the ease in which one can read them simultaneously as small-scale reflections of life in Cuba and as footnotes in the political conversation.

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TAGS: boleto al paraiso, candi sosa, carlos enrique almirante, cuba, estela bravo, fernando perez, fina torres, gerardo chijona, guy maddin, habana eva, hector medina, juan carlos garcia, los angeles film festival, miriel cejas, operation peter pan flying back to cuba, peter franzen, prakriti maduro, ron mael, russell mael, sparks, suite habana, the seduction of ingmar bergman


Björk

Björk has a chat with Pitchfork about Biophilia.

Christopher Hitchens wonders if Michele Bachmann has met her Waterloo.

Madonna's W.E., which is not the singer's directorial debut, gets an Oscar-friendly release date.

Chaplin film fails to fetch a buyer at auction.

There are 20 ways to write like a tool, but lawyers aren't the only culprits.

Google introduces their Google+ project.

For CBS Minnesota, our own Eric Henderson reviews Transformers: Dark of the Moon. And for Film Freak Central, Walter Chaw also lays into into Sir Michael Bay's latest masterwork.

Peter Bogdanovich reviews François Truffaut's The 400 Blows.

Jon Stewart's cup runneth over:

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, biophilia, björk, cbs minnesota, charles chaplin, christopher hitchens, eric henderson, film freak central, françois truffaut, google, jon stewart, madonna, michele bachmann, peter bogdanovich, pitchfork, the 400 blows, transformers: dark of the moon, w.e., walter chaw


Unjust

To celebrate the New York Asian Film Festival's 10th anniversary, the Subway Cinema gang (Daniel Craft, Paul Kazee, Grady Hendrix, Goran Topalovic, and Marc Walkow) has programmed one of their most consistent and exciting lineups to date. The festival has always been fueled by kinetic and highly idiosyncratic pop cinema from across Asia, and though there are no films that achieve the level of gonzo excellence of former NYAFF titles like The Taste of Tea, Ping Pong, Running on Karma, or Survive Style 5+ do, even the most mediocre-looking films at this year's fest are worth watching.

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TAGS: austin powers, bangkok knockout, detective dee and the mystery of the phantom flame, donnie darko, haunters, i saw the devil, karate robo zaborgar, kim min-suk, last days of the world, masked rider, mighty morphin power rangers, milocrorze a love story, new york asian film festival, noboru iguchi, park hoon-jung, robo geisha, ryoo seung-wan, sell out, subway cinema, the blade, the recipe, the unjust, troubleshooter, tsui hark


Tony SpecialeUnnatural Acts, a new play at the Classic Stage Company, takes us back to period of intolerance that is hopefully unthinkable today. It focuses on events from nearly a century ago, when, in 1920, a panel of administrators at Harvard University embarked on campus-wide investigation aimed at exposing and then expelling homosexuals in the student body. Triggered by the suicide of a student off-campus, the inquiry resulted in another's on campus a few weeks later, and 14 convictions. All evidence of the so-called "Secret Court" was subsequently covered up and it was not until 80 years later that the transcripts of the unprecedented proceedings came to light when Amit Paley, a student reporter for The Harvard Crimson, stumbled upon a reference to it in the university archives. He gained access to some 500 pages of documents in the buried files and broke the story in 2002. Since then, the story of the gay witch hunt at the Ivy League institution has become the subject of a 2005 book-length study by William Bright, a 2009 movie, Perkins 28, in which Harvard undergraduates reenact the student testimonies, and Veritas, a play by Stan Richardson presented at last year's New York International Fringe Festival. Unnatural Acts, which compellingly portrays the young men whose lives were deeply affected by investigations, is collectively written by members of a new ensemble company Plastic Theatre. Associate artistic director at the CSC, Tony Speciale, who conceived and directed this project, spoke recently with the House about the production.

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TAGS: amit paley, amy lowell, andrea lauer, classic stage company, cyril wilcox, donald clark, edward say, ernest roberts, eugene cummings, harold saxon, harold saxton, harvard university, heather denyer, jerry marsini, jess burkle, joe curnutte, keith smerage, kenneth day, nathaniel wolff, nicholas norman, oseph lumbard, perkins 28, plastic theatre, secret court of 1920, the harvard crimson, tony speciale, unnatural acts, william bright


Chrissy Lee Polis

What will it take for America to accept transgender people for who they really are?

Shia LaBeouf quits Transformers.

A hearty welcome to indieWIRE's new blog, the Matt Zoller Seitz-curated Press Play, which is built around original video essays and critical, personal writing about movies, TV, music, comics and whatever else interests its contributors.

David Ehrenstein pays tribute to Elaine Stewart.

The Ohio House of Representatives on Tuesday voted to ban abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detectable, which can be as early as six weeks.

For Filmmaker, Lauren Wissot covers this year's Edinburgh Film Festival.

Seriously, get off our fucking lawn: Glenn Beck and family encounter hostility in NYC.

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: chrissy lee polis, david ehrenstein, edinburgh film festival, elaine stewart, filmmaker, glenn beck, indiewire, lauren wissot, matt zoller seitz, new york city, ohio house of representatives, press play, shia labeouf, transformers


LabyrinthLabyrinth is a collaboration between the Muppets, a Monty Python alum, the Man Who Fell To Earth and that guy who ruined Star Wars. It stars a future Oscar winner, is shot by Excalibur's cin-togger, was inspired by M.C. Escher's puzzles and features an early appearance by the dude who plays Elmo on Sesame Street. Cementing its Sesame Street tie, Labyrinth was directed by Kermit the Frog. With all that fantasy and sci-fi pedigree, Labyrinth was doomed to be a box office flop and a latter-day cult favorite. Its underground status is cemented, at least by Wikipedia, with the throwing of an annual Labyrinth costume ball in Hollywood. My hat is off to anyone who comes as Ludo.

Ludo is my favorite character in Labyrinth, but hold that thought for a moment. I identified with Jennifer Connelly's protagonist, Sarah, and not just because we're both drop dead gorgeous. Connelly is saddled with babysitting her younger sibling, putting a damper on her adolescence. In retaliation, she does something I did numerous times growing up: She wishes for someone to come take her brother away. Unlike my desperate pleas, her call is answered by the Goblin King, Jareth (David Bowie). What David Bowie wants with a toddler is too scary to fathom, and the dark side of Jim Henson knows this. Note the scene where Bowie tosses the boy high in the air, then walks away as he plummets to the ground. (Don't worry, a goblin Muppet catches him.) Hell, listen to the chorus of "Magic Dance," one of the catchy, memorably superb songs Bowie performs in the film. No good can come of this kidnapping.

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TAGS: david bowie, jennifer connelly, jim henson, kevin clash, labyrinth, percy edwards, steve whitmire, summer of 86


Bombay Bicycle Club

Bombay Bicycle Club, "Shuffle." On London quartet Bombay Bicycle Club's sprightly and infectious new single, "Shuffle," the keys of some secondhand piano are hammered frantically, an obscure vocal sample adds intensity to the bridges and refrains, while Ed Nash's work on the bass is surely his funkiest to date. And though Jack Steadman's vocals are, for the most part, modest and reserved, his falsetto harmonies as "Shuffle" reaches its blissful crescendo are a delight. The single rekindles the dynamism that was somewhat absent from last year's Flaws, but it also retains that album's intimacy and proves Bombay Bicycle Band doesn't have to go acoustic to bare their softer side. Huw Jones

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TAGS: bombay bicycle club, charli xcx, heart and soul, house playlist, how deep is your love, radiohead, shuffle, staircase, stay away, the king of limbs live from the basement, the rapture, thom yorke, tpau


Denny Chin

Judge Denny Chin explains Bernard L. Madoff's possible 150-year sentence.

Myanmar deports Michelle Yeoh after Aung San Suu Kyi movie.

Gabrielle Giffords appeared at a public event last night for the first time since being shot in the head on Jan. 8 in her home district of Tucson.

At the Egalia preschool in Stockholm is fighting gender bias.

There's a war waging at the Jersey shore over who rules the beaches.

Muslim woman sues Abercrombie & Fitch over hijab.

A.O. Scott on Sweet Smell of Success:

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: a.o. scott, abercrombie and fitch, aung san suu kyi, bernard l. madoff, denny chin, egalia, gabrielle giffords, michelle yeoh, myanmar, new jersey, stockholm, sweet smell of success


Gay Marriage

An unlikely mix of forces was behind the New York gay marriage vote.

How the growing approval of gay marriage benefits straight women, too.

Peter Falk passed away on Thursday night. He was 83.

How the famous Vancouver riot kiss happened.

A California law banning the sale of violent video games is ruled unconstitutional.

Get Spike Jonze's "Scenes from the Suburbs" while its hot.

Matt Zoller Seitz has problems with Treme's impatient rythms.

The TSA tries to keep it real

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: california, gay marriage, matt zoller seitz, peter falk, scenes from the suburbs, spike jonze, treme, tsa, vancouver


Björk

Björk's been promoting her forthcoming Biophilia app/album/thing with the kind of dodgy auteur shenanigans that may not translate directly into hype (which, thanks to Twitter, is now more or less objectively quantifiable), but which do have the minimal advantage of preempting any kind of parody. Her website's been rejiggered into a trippy, interactive mobile, her upcoming concerts will apparently feature, among other Seussian contraptions, a "30-foot pendulum that harnesses the planet's gravitational pull to create musical patterns," and in recent interviews she's been throwing the word "app" around in a fashion equally suggestive of futurism and senility. Fine by me. Björk's most esoteric album to date, 2004's Medúlla, is also among her best, and so my policy is to indulge Mrs. Matthew Barney in all pretensions so long as the music works.

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TAGS: biophilia, björk, crystalline, declare independence, matthew barney, medulla, pluto, single review, vespertine, volta







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