The House


Josh Hutcherson[Editor's Note: In On the Rise, the House profiles an exciting new talent whose career, be it behind the camera or in front of it, is worth watching.]

While there are, undoubtedly, some tragic Corey Haim types building resumes as we speak, it would seem we've passed the era of child stardom all but guaranteeing personal and professional downfall. The somewhat terrifying Taylor Momsen notwithstanding, today's crop of near-20 Disney Channel and Danimal-commercial veterans seems a surprisingly stable bunch, with names more destined for comparison with Jodie Foster than Jodie Sweetin. Dakota Fanning just wrapped her first period romance, AnnaSophia Robb has already logged a fact-based sports drama about an amputee, and Cameron Bright, as far as one can tell, hasn't let his creepy-kid roots lead to college-age demons. In this age bracket, 19-year-old Josh Hutcherson occupies the top tier, a soulful, sleepy-eyed boy next door who's coolly surfing the wave of gradation between family fare and all-grown-up material. His true breakout project, in fact, marked a thoroughly modern merger of the two.

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TAGS: annasophia robb, annette bening, bella swan, bridge to terabithia, cameron bright, dakota fanning, edward cullen, jennifer lawrence, jodie foster, jodie sweetin, josh hutcherson, journey 2 the mysterious island, jules verne, julianne moore, liam hemsworth, mark ruffalo, mia wasikowska, on the rise, rv, suzanne collins, taylor lautner, the hunger games, the kids are all right, twilight, zathura


Marilyn Monroe

Marilyn Monroe is selected as the icon of the 2012 Cannes Film Festival.

New Google privacy policy may violate European law.

Mitt Romney has a big night, but so does Barack Obama.

Once film-focused, Netflix transitions to TV shows.

Ben Simington on Werner Herzog's innovative use of music.

Watch Lindsay Lohan's SNL promos.

Senator Olympia Snowe to retire in blow to GOP.

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TAGS: barack obama, ben simington, bully, cannes film festival, david bordwell, doyathing, fox news, google, gorillaz, hackers, lindsay lohan, marilyn monroe, menopause, mitt romney, netflix, olympia snowe, republican party, saturday night live, slant magazine, the weinstein company, werner herzog, whitney houston


Madonna

Dance music usually operates on the declarative ("I Will Survive," "Rhythm Is a Dancer") or the commanding ("Shake Your Groove Thing," "Vogue"). If it lapses into a question, it's often at the halfway point between that and one of the previous modes ("I Wonder If I Take You Home"). In other words, dance music is the one place where lyricists clearly feel comfortable telling, not showing, like Dionysian tour guides with a hitching, baited breathlessness. Operating under this strategy, dance music can exist elementally uncluttered by metaphor, leaving you free to let your body move to the music, hey, hey, hey. But this simplicity carries an admission fee. Unless there's a voice to take you there, your four-on-the-floor will sound like it's sitting, cross-legged, reading aloud from Dick and Jane.

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TAGS: benny benassi, girl gone wild, give me all your luvin, madonna, mdna, reductive, single review


Hurt Village

My first impression of the set of Hurt Village, the new play by Katori Hall at the Signature Theatre, was its Kienholz look. As in the work of the American installation artist, the eclectically assembled furnishings—an oversized plastic-wrapped sofa, blood-red kitchen, chain-link fences, graffiti, a solitary lamppost—evoked realism in loose, expressive brushstrokes, with a touch of the sinister.

The set befitted the play, which grapples with recognizable themes in bold and vigorous, if not always new, ways. Cookie, a 13-year-old rapper, is a resident of the Hurt Village project in Memphis that's about to be bulldozed to clear space for new condominiums. Cookie's precocious linguistic gifts clash poignantly with her at times shaky grammar. From the start, she's the play's anchor—no small feat, considering how seamlessly a relative newcomer to the professional stage, Joaquina Kalukango, balances Cookie's childish schoolgirl angst, her bedwetting and sexual curio, with learning to hold her own, in a brutally adult world.

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TAGS: bertolt brecht, corey hawkins, hurt village, joaquina kalukango, katori hall, lorraine hansberry, marsha stephanie blake, martin luther king jr, obie awards, patricia mcgregor, signature theatre, the mountaintop, the tempest, the wire, tonya pinkins, william shakespeare


Adam Sandler

Adam Sandler could clean up at the Razzie Awards.

J. Hoberman on how the wrong Margaret got the Oscar.

The New York Times introduces The Lively Morgue, a new Tumblr blog showcasing photographs from its archives.

Brian Darr on the making and remaking of Georges Méliès.

Using the whale from Werckmeister Harmonies as a jumping-off point, Adam Rothstein discusses the slow politics of Occupied filmmaking.

Jan Berenstain, who with her husband, Stan, made up one of the most successful husband-wife teams in children's literature, guiding an empire of books, videos, and TV shows about the everyday problems of a family of bears, has died. She was 88.

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TAGS: academy awards, adam rothstein, adam sandler, brian darr, downton abbey, georges méliès, j. hoberman, jack and jill, jan berenstain, jon stewart, mad men, margaret, razzie awards, rick santorum, santigold, team margaret, the lively morgue, the new york times, tumblr, werckmeister harmonies


Critical Distance: The Artist

The Artist

Sometimes it's hard to separate a movie from the hype. Anyone who's followed the nauseating Oscar prognostication over the last several months knew full well that Harvey Weinstein's Michel Hazanavicius's The Artist would win the Best Picture crown on Sunday's telecast of the Academy Awards. Nonetheless, given its preordained victory, the critical dialogue about the film has become predictably antipathetic. As Scott Tobias observed recently, the political machine attached to frontrunners and winners often distorts our vision of them and renders reasonable discourse a challenge. Truth be told, these days the Oscar badge doesn't hold much weight. The reason for this, Tobias concludes, is that Best Picture winners represent consensus over excellence. Oscar winners reflect more on the film industry's own image of itself than the artistic significance of film. A.O. Scott articulates this in a recent piece in the New York Times, in which he and Manohla Dargis examine recent winners against the broader significance of the Oscars. Says Scott:

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TAGS: a.o. scott, academy awards, anchorman the legend of ron burgundy, bérénice bejo, bernard herrmann, critical distance, harvey weinstein, jean dujardin, kim novak, manohla dargis, michel hazanavicius, scott tobias, the artist, the king's speech, the weinstein company, vertigo


Meryl Streep

For a full list of last night's Oscar winners, click here.

For those keeping count, our decent 18-out-of-24 prediction tally means we did better than most of the officially anointed Gurus o' Gold.

The Vulture wraps up the night.

Gawker also chimes in.

And you weren't the only one who thought the jokes had wrinkles.

The night's best frozen moments.

How Metropolis still inspires fashion.

And for a red carpet report card, click here.

Let's get the ball rolling on this, as Rihanna is sending out a really bad message to her fans.

Rick Santorum wants to throw up.

Lucy Lawless is arrested.

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, chris rock, gawker, lucy lawless, metropolis, mubi, rick santorum, rihanna, twitter


Luck Recap: Season 1, Episode 5

Episode 5

After the emotional high points reached in last week's installment of Luck, it's only natural that this week's episode, written by Scott Willson and directed by Brian Kirk, feels a bit like a come-down. But the seeming pause in the action allows for revelatory moments of introspection which will inform the plot developments that arise as the first season heads into its backstretch. Characteristic of such introspection is the opening shot, trained on a reflection of Ace (Dustin Hoffman) before reframing on the man himself. Using mirrors both literal and figurative, this episode reminds us that three of Luck's characters, Ace, Joey (Richard Kind), and Marcus (Kevin Dunn), each bluff their way through many of their personal dealings considering their hidden good nature.

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TAGS: brian kirk, david milch, dennis farina, devendra banhart, dustin hoffman, gary stevens, hbo, jason gedrick, jill hennessy, joan allen, john ortiz, kevin dunn, luck, michael gambon, now that i know, peter appel, recap, richard kind, scott willson, tom payne


Darling CompanionIn general, this column isn't designed to verbally tear bad posters in half, but when something as shoddy as the one-sheet for Darling Companion is put on the market, it's pretty hard not to chime in. Almost shockingly unpolished, this blandly conceived fiasco reads like the rushed efforts of a first-day intern, who was tasked to cook up something to be shuffled out the door, and in an over-caffeinated panic, made a sinful hybrid of Lassie, The Devil Wears Prada and Martha Marcy May Marlene. Hell, maybe that leg even belongs to the intern's boss, whose blurry blob of a platform heel recalls those digi-bras used in VH1's "Movies That Rock" broadcast of Showgirls (come on, y'all know which ones I'm talking about).

It's a good thing the intern remembered to include the collie, because this design otherwise reflects next to nothing that's conveyed in the movie's trailer, which promises over-50 ensemble kookiness, not working-woman minimalism. Maybe if that foot were wearing a saddle shoe and slacks, we might at least believe it belongs to lead star Diane Keaton. As is, it implies a tony glamazon who leaves Fido with a sitter. If there's any half-decent design sense to speak of, it's that the woman's leg provides line quality and hugs the dog's left side, thus offering a literal visual of the titular theme of pet-owner closeness. In all likelihood, though, it was probably just that poor intern's way of scaling down the clipping-path duties, which, given the number that was done on the paw, was probably a blessing.

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TAGS: darling companion, diane keaton, elizabeth olsen, fox searchlight, lassie, martha marcy may marlene, poster lab, posters, showgirls, sony pictures classics, the devil wears prada, the lorax, vh1


Bamboozled

[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.]

Ed Howard: Towards the end of Spike Lee's viciously funny media parody Bamboozled, there's a shootout between the police and a militant rap group in which all the black members of the group are quickly killed, leaving behind the one white guy (played by MC Serch of real-life hip-hop outfit 3rd Bass). As the cops put him in cuffs, this one survivor repeatedly cries out to them, "Why didn't you shoot me?" It's such a poignant moment because he seems to be pleading with them, begging them to treat him the way they'd treated the black members of the group, demanding that he not be spared because of the color of his skin. He's so upset, not only because his friends are all dead, but because he's realized an essential truth that Lee is getting at in this movie: no matter how well he'd fit in with his black peers, no matter how fully he'd been accepted by them and participated in their work, he was still separated from them, cut off from their experience of the world at a very basic level over which he could have no control.

Throughout the film, Lee has multiple characters try to take on the attributes of a race other than the one indicated by the color of their skin: black people trying to sound white, white people trying to sound black, and of course many people of various races donning blackface as a TV-inspired fad. For the most part, Lee has nothing but contempt for these characters; MC Serch's character is the one arguable exception, and in the end he can no more escape the color of his skin and what it means than anyone else in the film. I'm starting at the end, to some degree, because this sequence is so suggestive of the film's themes, and also because we should probably admit up front that we're two white guys about to discuss a film that has a very provocative and challenging view of race and racism. It's a film that's at least in part about how it's all but impossible for one race to understand the experience of another—especially whites thinking they understand what it means to be black.

Bamboozled follows the black TV executive Pierre Delacroix (Damon Wayans) as he develops a blackface minstrel show that he thinks will expose the racist attitudes of the media but only winds up feeding into and inflaming that racism. I didn't entirely know what to make of this movie when it came out in 2000, but I've come to believe that it's one of Lee's best, right up there with Do the Right Thing. A bold satire that doesn't pull any punches, Bamboozled is a deeply discomfiting film that's purposefully exaggerated and outlandish and yet is packed with real-world references that ground its satire—even that shootout with the white survivor is based on real events. Lee is exploring the history of racist entertainment in the US, and as the closing montage makes clear, he's suggesting that the same forces that made Birth of a Nation and the vaudeville caricatures of comics like Mantan Moreland so popular are still very much present, in a more covert way, in the modern American entertainment industry. As a result, Bamboozled does what great satire always does: it takes a scenario that should seem ridiculous—it's hard to imagine an actual blackface variety show being aired on American TV today—and uses it to explore the submerged but very real racial attitudes that underpin all sorts of entertainment that only seems less racist than Delacroix's Mantan: The New Millennium Minstrel Show.

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TAGS: bamboozled, damon wayans, do the right thing, jada pinkett smith, mc serch, michael rapaport, mos def, octavia spencer, paul mooney, savion glover, spike lee, tavis smiley, the conversations, the help, thomas jefferson byrd, tommy davidson, viola davis







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