The House


Jimi: All Is By My Side

1. "What All Is By My Side Gets Wrong About Hendrix." Glenn Kenny on what the film asks us to take in faith.

"Am I doing some musicological nit-picking here? I sure am. But that's because without that, one is likely to come up with an unappealing caricature of Hendrix, and that's what Jimi: All Is By My Side finally amounts to. The movie, which does not credit [Charles] Cross's biography as a source, uses (and changes, or arguably distorts) many of the anecdotes therein, including one in which an enraged Hendrix physically attacks Etchingham with a telephone receiver. In Cross's book, the event is depicted as highly uncharacteristic. While an accomplished traveler in psychedelics, Hendrix simply couldn't handle liquor. 'Any aggression he displayed was usually linked to excessive drinking...his quick temper...seemed in such contrast to his normally polite manner.' Hendrix's traumatic childhood (into which Cross' biography digs deep), combined with the permissive mien of his time and environment, not to mention his vocation, led to not-unpredictable problems with intimacy and personal commitment. But as depicted in Jimi: All Is By My Side, all of these considerations are compressed so as to create a bald and distasteful picture of a Violent Black Man With Woman Problems. In another scene, Etchingham whinges about wanting to go out and have fun while Hendrix, the windows of his apartment papered over to enhance his desired isolation, stares vegetatively at a television. This is supposed to be someone whose command of his instrument extended forwards, backwards, upside-down and sideways over every millimeter of the fretboard and beyond, who is always depicted by friends and colleagues as never not having a guitar within arm's reach."

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TAGS: amy wilentz, camille paglia, charles cross, david cronenberg, glenn kenny, ian mcewan, inherent vice, Jeff Reichert, jimi hendrix, jimi: all is by my side, John Ridley, los angeles review of books, maps to the stars, matt zoller seitz, paul thomas anderson, reverse shot, steven soderbergh, the children act, the knick


Doctor Who

"The Caretaker" is another mostly light-hearted script from Gareth Roberts. But this time, the sitcom trappings are attached to important developments in the ongoing plot threads running through the eighth season of Doctor Who (hence another co-writer credit on this episode for showrunner Steven Moffat). Although the Doctor (Peter Capaldi) has an alien menace to confront, the heart of the story is the clash with Danny Pink (Samuel Anderson) that we've been anticipating ever since the character first appeared, with Clara (Jenna Coleman) caught between them.

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TAGS: doctor who, gareth roberts, jenna coleman, peter capaldi, recap, Samuel Anderson, steven moffat, the caretaker


Fergie

Fergie has taken her sweet time following up 2006's The Dutchess, squandering the pop capital she earned from her multi-platinum solo debut on two new albums with the Black Eyed Peas and a couple of soundtrack cuts that barely made a blip—though last year's "A Little Party Never Killed Nobody (All We Got)" played a vital part in one of the most exhilarating moments from Baz Luhrmann's The Great Gatsby. "L.A. Love (La La)," then, is the official reintroduction of Stacy Ann Ferguson Duhamel, and it's not unlike her previous solo coronation, "London Bridge," what with its heavy hip-hop beat and braggadocious rapped verses (her faux-Southern patois, it should be noted, sounds a hell of lot like Iggy Azalea's). This time Fergie swaps London for, despite the song's title, "every city, every state, every country you know," and at one point even crams three terrible accents—British, Jamaican, and French—into one bar. While the DJ Mustard-produced track is a definite earworm, hopefully the singer, ever the crossover-pop diplomat, has some more multi-format tricks up her sleeve.

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TAGS: dj mustard, fergie, l.a. love la la, smile now cry later, the black eyed peas, the dutchess, the great gatsby


The Simpsons Guy

1. "The Simpsons/Family Guy crossover is one of the most fascinatingly weird things to ever happen to television." Whether it was actually good or not is a different matter.

"Was The Simpsons Guy just a craven marketing thing? One of the weirdest things about the episode was how all the rampant self-deprecation felt unnecessary. Make no mistake, this was Family Guy worshipping The Simpsons: a feast of fan service, even if it was mostly fan service for people whose major Simpsons touchstones happened almost 20 years ago. The best stuff in the episode focuses on Stewie and Bart, two characters who don't really have anything to do with each other. Like all his family members, Bart was a recognizable human being in the first 10 years of The Simpsons, a funny and stupid and lovably vain child. Stewie was never an actual child, just like how Brian was never a real dog. (This may explain why, IMHO, the best episodes of Family Guy are the Brian-Stewie episodes.) Which means Stewie can do the kind of things Bart never does—like strike back against eternal bully Nelson Muntz. The one part of the whole crossover that felt next-level genius came during that torture session, when Stewie threw out the first great Simpsons catchphrase in a whole new, freaky context. For once, someone actually meant 'Eat my shorts!' literally."

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TAGS: alessandra stanley, all that jazz, aphex twin, consumed, david cronenberg, david simon, family guy, jonathan lethem, matt zoller seitz, mo ryan, neil genzlinger, the criterion collection, the new york times, the simpsons, the wire


Renaissance

The 39th Gdynia Film Festival, one of most prestigious film events in Poland and the only one dedicated exclusively to Polish film, may have lacked in its main competition a jewel as polished as last year's Ida, but it still shone in the sideline programs. Among those, a retrospective of restored animations by Walerian Borowczyk, a Kinoteatr program of screened theater productions, and a brand-new section, Artists at Cinema, engaged Poland's contemporary visual artists.

At the Borowczyk retrospective, Daniel Bird, who produced the restorations released on DVD and Blu-Ray by Arrow Films and also directed a biopic documentary, argued for not viewing Borowczyk as a late-life soft pornographer (Borowczyk's perhaps most infamous feature was 1985's Emmanuelle 5). Instead, the animated shorts attest to the range of Borowczyk's themes and not just to his libidinal panache: Renaissance (1963) is a haunting, nearly post-apocalyptic tableau in constant reconstruction and brilliantly shows how sound can override the physical marker we see on the screen, creating new, strange dissonances; The Astronauts (1959), co-scripted with Chris Marker, is a dreamlike ode to solitude in outer space; Holy Smoke (1963), takes on the class struggle via a narrative of tobacco users; while Joachim's Dictionary (1965) plays with body language and A Private Collection (1973) is a joyful romp through a collector's cabinet of sexual toys and other erotica.

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TAGS: a private collection, agnieszka polska, anna molska, chris marker, diptych, dorota masłowska, gdynia film festival, grzegorz jarzyna, holy smoke, home shopping, joachim's dictionary, katarzyna kozyra, ligia branice, no matter how hard we tried, oskar dawicki, renaissance, rosalie, the astronauts, the rite of spring, walerian borowczyk, zbigniew libera


The Knick

Steven Soderbergh's naturalism has worked both for and against certain strains in The Knick's first season, and "Get the Rope" may mark the first time his dazzling, inventive shooting style just can't support the dramaturgy. On one hand, it's ballsy that the episode barely covers 24 hours: The show's acute gift for slowing down and speeding up time has made its exploration of individual characters consistently intriguing, and paid off abundantly in the anti-resolution of "Start Calling Me Dad." But instead of lingering, the tensions that erupted when Thackery (Clive Owen) happened upon Dr. Algernon Edwards (Andre Holland)'s makeshift clinic for black New Yorkers have been impossibly smoothed-out overnight. Formerly the show's walking embodiment of educated white racism, Thackery now champions Algernon to an almost magical degree, with the hospital staff firmly aligned in his sympathy. It's altruistic, and if you like the characters, the resettling of loyalties makes for reassuring viewing. For this reason alone, "Get the Rope" grips undeniably, but it also goes down feeling like the most disingenuous episode yet. It's soapy, morally charged, and Grand Guignol all at once.

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TAGS: andre holland, Cara Seymour, chris sullivan, clive owen, colin meath, Eve Hewson, get the rope, Juliet Rylance, Mary Birdsong, Matt Frewer, recap, the knick


Lost

1. "The Lessons of Lost." Grantland's Andy Greenwald on understanding the most important network show of the past 10 years.

"Lost was more than a TV show. It was a sort of shared madness, a delirium that ranged far beyond Wednesday nights at 10. And, as such, it should have heralded a new golden age for the graying networks. During Lost's reign, cable channels were still focused on the highbrow character dramas that had earned them buckets full of press and prestige—not to mention ratings that threatened to catapult them into the biggest of leagues. (The Walking Dead premiered five months after Lost went dark. Game of Thrones arrived the following April. Together, they would push cable into an entirely different sport.) Then, as now, networks needed to operate on a larger playing field both to differentiate themselves from their more nimble cable competitors and to sustain their far more demanding revenue model. A wholly original multimedia supernova like Lost isn't easily replicated. But what's most disheartening today is to see how little the big four seem inclined to try. After a few years packed with soulless cover versions like The Event and The Nine (more on those below), network executives threw up their hands and moved on: Lost was sui generis."

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TAGS: andy greenwald, barack obama, blackhat, christina saenz-alcántara, eric holder, grantland, inherent vice, jack handey, latino rebels, latinos, lost, michael mann, paul thomas anderson, Phil Hartman, the white house, thomas pynchon


Aphex Twin

1. "Strange Visitor." Pitchfork's Philip Sherburne has a conversation with Aphex Twin.

"To be honest, I had my doubts that an interview would transpire at all—or at least, a traditional sort of interview. Given the surveillance trickery involved in the album's campaign—visitors to a Syro website were shown a virtual profile of their own computer—maybe I'd be speaking into a one-way mirror. Maybe he would interview me. Maybe, if I was really lucky, I'd get to go up in that blimp. But no: As I'm ushered to the rear of the hotel dining room and sit down at a cluttered table, there he is—ponytailed, bearded, looking pretty much exactly as you'd expect—pulling his drum machine out of a duffel bag and rhapsodizing about the benefits of analog sound."

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TAGS: all about eve, aphex twin, atticus ross, b. ruby rich, bim adewunmi, david fincher, gone girl, ignatiy vishnevetsky, mta, npr, peter von bagh, philip sherburne, pitchfork, richard brody, trent reznor, trigger warning


ConsumedConsumed is clearly the work of David Cronenberg. The novel suggests a print fusion of the filmmaker's early, grungy, bluntly metaphorical work with the subtler, formally refined, classical elder-statesman films of his most recent period—and the contrast of those sensibilities allows for occasionally quite effective shocks. The prose is chilly and erudite, suggestive of Nabokov and, particularly, of Ballard, which will resonant with fans of the director's Crash. In the tradition of those authors, Cronenberg sweeps you up in the pure power of his aesthetic command, coaxing your guard down so as to spring perversities that eventually cast the entire book in unsettling hues of twisted inevitability. Cronenberg isn't moonlighting; he's a real novelist.

Naomi Seberg and Nathan Math—the names are clues—are 21st-century yellow journalists who thrive on the instability culture of YouTube, Twitter, and TMZ. Nathan, who has aspirations to write for medical publications, is given to justifying his more exploitive story choices; Naomi, though defensive about her lack of intellectual bona fides, more instinctively gets off on the kill of nailing a scoop. Both of them, it's explicitly established, are married to the endless variety of phones, cameras, and recorders that Cronenberg details with an agency that's at once enticingly sexual, banal, and actively off-putting. The author frequently attributes human characteristics to the journalists' tools of the trade, while assigning mechanical attributes to the humans themselves; as in his films, he's equally repulsed and aroused by innovation as a pathway toward evolution that paradoxically dehumanizes our species. In an early seductive passage, a woman's struggle to look upon Nathan is described as a "process so electromechanical that it seemed photographic." A subsequent sex scene is writ so metaphorical as to slyly, deceptively, outline eventual late-act revelations:

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TAGS: consumed, crash, david cronenberg, j.g. ballard, jean-paul sartre, vladimir nabokov


The Graduate

1. "The Movies' 50 Greatest Pop Music Moments." There are few more powerful combinations than when just the right song meets just the right scene. To put all our favorites in one place, The Dissolve compiled 50 remarkable combinations of pop music (broadly defined) and moviemaking.

"[Nathan Rabin on Do the Right Thing and its use of 'Fight the Power' by Public Enemy] Cinematic introductions don't get more dramatic or inspired than Rosie Perez's first scene in Do The Right Thing (which was also her film debut). The film opens with Perez, then best known as a choreographer and dancer, dancing by herself on an empty stage, while images of the Brooklyn neighborhood where the film takes place are projected in the background. And it all plays against the incendiary backdrop of Public Enemy's 'Fight The Power.' Perez's dancing is aggressive and pugilistic; she alternates between skin-tight outfits and boxing attire in a sequence that establishes a tone of feverish intensity before its characters speak a single word. This is what throwing down the gauntlet looks and sounds like."

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TAGS: Al Jean, Ashley Clark, david jesse fox, David Mirkin, do the right thing, fight the power, frank darabont, jacques tati, lauryn hill, Matt Selman, morgan freeman, music, playtime, public enemy, refugee project, reverse shot, rosie perez, taxi driver, the dissolve, the shawshank redemption, the simpsons, tim robbins, vulture






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