The House


Leonard Nimoy

1. "Remembering Leonard Nimoy's Mr. Spock." Matt Zoller Seitz on one of history's greatest TV characters.

"This was no coy actor's pose, though. Trekkers who met the actor will tell you that while he could be prickly about the character early on, Nimoy was always respectful of their love for Spock, because he realized how much he'd meant to them, and to him, over the—how they appreciated him and identified with him because of Nimoy's lovingly detailed, obviously personal performance, which in some small way helped illuminate whatever struggles they were going through. Nimoy's attitude toward Spock warmed over time, eventually becoming something close to an unabashed embrace. While I never had the chance to interview him at length, I did speak to him briefly at a Los Angeles screening about 15 years ago, and he didn't scowl or flinch or otherwise recoil from my fanboyish eagerness to discuss the character. I asked, 'Do you ever feel that in some ways the character was as much a curse as a blessing?' He said simply, 'All actors should be so cursed.'"

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TAGS: adam nayman, boris nemtsov, cinema scope, come and see, david cronenberg, diplo, dj snake, elem klimov, graham fuller, keith phipps, lean on, Leonard Nimoy, major lazer, maps to the stars, masha green, matt zoller seitz, , r.i.p., reverse shot, star trek, world trade center


Sigourney Weaver

1. "Sigourney Weaver Interview." For Interview, Jamie Lee Curtis interviews her fellow actor.

"I work so hard, and out of the raw material that is the script and talks I have with the director, the writer, I create, I hope, a very specific person who wouldn't have otherwise existed. However, do I then attach and hang on to the finished product? No. The experience of the creation of the character is what feeds me, what excites me, challenges me. I just finished this movie with J.A. Bayona, called A Monster Calls [co-starring Liam Neeson and Felicity Jones, expected in 2016], which was a challenging movie for all of us. It's from a novel written by Patrick Ness. But, after the experience, I let it go, because I know the director's going to go in; the alchemist will take over and do something else with it."

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TAGS: bidisha, brit awards, daniel engber, envious moons, interview magazine, Jamie Lee Curtis, joyland, madonna, noah baumbach, richard larson, sigourney weaver, steven shaviro, television, the universe of things, vulture, while we're young


Madonna

1. "Express Yourself: The Making of Madonna's 20 Greatest Music Videos." The directors who worked alongside the MTV-era maverick tell their stories. (Below is Mary Lambert on her "Like a Prayer" clip.)

"I knew that we were pushing some big buttons, but I sort of underestimated the influence and bigotry of fundamentalist religion and racism in this country and the world. I always think that, if my work is successful, it goes beyond my intentions and in this case it definitely did. The most important thing was to force people to reimagine their visual references and really root out their prejudices. Using burning crosses to reference racism to religion. Why not a Black Jesus? Why can't you imagine kissing him? I wanted to speak about ecstasy and to show the relationship between sexual and religious ecstasy. I think that subconsciously a lot of people understood this and were either enthralled or outraged by it. Consciously, I don't think a lot of the audience would have made this interpretation."

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TAGS: andrew grant, bbc, camille paglia, carrie & lowell, filmmaker, Jeff Reichert, jenny lou ziegel, john boorman, like a prayer, madonna, mary lambert, matthew porterfield, michael koresky, pitchfork, reverse shot, rolling stone, ryan dombal, sufjan stevens, take what you can carry, zsuzsanna kiràly


American Sniper

1. "Evil Against Evil." Niles Schwartz on the fascinating incoherence of American Sniper.

"As a consequence of real life, American Sniper's rehabilitation of Chris, where he gradually overcomes the PTSD that he's been rejecting by reaching out to physically wounded veterans, is tragically overwhelmed by the horrific return of the repressed. I regret that sounds like a trivialization of an actual tragedy, but the film's conclusion is, for me, an all-too-appropriate way to express the insoluble character of America's last 15 years, with its rampant and contradictory foreign invasions coupled with disengaged psychological hermeticism. Chris Kyle says goodbye to his wife and children before taking a young vet with PTSD to a gun range, where we know the young man will—inexplicably—shoot Chris. Taya's perspective of the mysterious young man waiting for Chris by a truck is one of the most unsettling images in recent memory, the film's third angel of death recognized by the knowing audience, or perhaps another doppelganger heralding a terrifying psychosis we/Chris/America cannot snap out of. Eastwood again invokes The Godfather, as the husband's enigma and burrowed sins walk away from the gaze of a long suffering wife, the closing door blotting her out from what calls him away."

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TAGS: academy awards, american sniper, daniel kasman, evan johnson, guy maddin, independent spirit awards, jason bailey, niles schwartz, peter strickland, slavoj žižek, slawomir sierakowski, the duke of burgundy, the forbidden room


Birdman

1. "Decoding the 2015 Oscars." Academy Awards: Mark Harris on the Birdman win and what it tells us about Hollywood

"Or don't do that, because the truth is, the time-capsule approach to Oscar voting is overrated. The Oscars aren't really about posterity (they've never enhanced the long-term reputation of a winner or damaged a loser); they're about transience, a selfie snapped at the end of a long campaign. And what this selfie said was 'Come on, we're trying.' The sing-off between Neil Patrick Harris and Anna Kendrick and Jack Black was, even by the standards of a fairly self-conscious ceremony, very meta. Those two strains of argument—'Let's celebrate our effort!' and 'This business is going to hell!'—sat side by side in the house last night, and, of course, the winning movie was the one that cannily embraced both of those views."

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TAGS: academy awards, birdman, graham moore, house of cards, j. bryan lowder, Lizabeth Scott, mark harris, netflix, nick pinkerton, rumsey taylor, the completist, the imitation game, the new york times, virginia heffernan


Birdman

1. "Oscar 2015 Winners." Academy Awards: Birdman Wins Best Picture Oscar.

"For the third time in four years, Hollywood’s top honor went to a story mostly about itself: Birdman won best picture at the 87th Academy Awards on Sunday night. Despite relatively meager domestic ticket sales of $37.8 million, Birdman had been the favorite to win best picture, having swept the top prize at banquet after banquet leading up to the Oscars. Minutes before, Alejandro G. Iñárritu had won best director for Birdman. which also collected Oscars for best original screenplay and the cinematography of Emmanuel Lubezki. 'Tonight I am wearing the real Michael Keaton tighty whities,' Mr. Iñárritu said, a joke about the long Broadway walk Mr. Keaton, the star, takes in his skivvies during the film."

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TAGS: academy awards, alice bolin, birdman, common, damián szifrón, espionage act, glory, gone girl, guido pellegrini, john legend, kristen stewart, patti smith, selma, stephen kim, wild tales


Fifty Shades of Grey

1. "The Accurate Erotics of Fifty Shades of Grey." Richard Brody on the Sam Taylor-Johnson film.

"Fifty Shades of Grey—and I'm referring to the movie, not to the book, which I haven't read—isn't porn. It isn't mommy porn, and it isn't softcore porn. It isn't a joke, and it isn't complete junk. The movie is far from a masterwork, but the glossy fantasies of Fifty Shades deliver something altogether significant, substantial, and welcome. The trouble with the sex in most movies isn't a matter of prudery but of a stultifying failure of erotic imagination—and of dramatic imagination. It reflects an inability to think of sex as action and to think of characters as actual sexual beings with the sexual complexity of any ordinary person. You'd think that whoever writes such ignorant gaps into a script, or whoever films such gaps, has never actually had sex—or worse, had never even fantasized about it."

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TAGS: a new wave, academy awards, american sniper, bob's burgers, fifty shades of grey, Isis, lee daniels, michael cimino, mo'nique, Noam Chomsky, precious, richard brody, Sleater-Kinney, the deer hunter


Empire

1. "Five Reasons Why Fox's Empire Has Become a Breakout Hit." Inkoo Kang explains in The Village Voice.

"The idea that Cookie and Lucious rose from the bottom of the Bronx to a mansion in Manhattan is an American Dream come wildly, ostentatiously true: They had the talent and put in the hustle to go all the way to the top. But all that happened before the start of the show, which is more interested in whether such outrageous success can be maintained. Lucious has put his company in great jeopardy by preparing it for an IPO launch, which invites intense public scrutiny. It's essentially a double-or-nothing bet on his life's work. And if much of the American mythos is about how every generation does better than its parents, here, again, we see Empire's skepticism toward the ability to build something and have it last. For the last two decades, Lucious has built a dynasty, not a family—so much that fratricide is an ongoing plotline on the show. Somewhere out there, Ozymandias is laughing."

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TAGS: a.o. scott, academy awards, ava duvernay, empire, eric hynes, fox, glenn whipp, inkoo kang, los angeles times, oliver sacks, reverse shot, selma, steve james, the village voice


Joan Rivers

1. "Last Girl in Larchmont." Emily Nussbaum on Joan Rivers as a survivor of a sexist era: a victim, a rebel, and, finally, an enforcer.

"That admiring portrait was true, but it obscured a more complicated reality: in A Piece of Work, there are plenty of Holocaust jokes, and some hilarious elder-sex bits, but not a single fat joke, although for many decades jokes about female bodies were Rivers's specialty. There is no Fashion Police, and no red-carpet routine, no mention of the night Rivers said, when the twenty-two-year-old Kate Winslet was nominated for an Academy Award, that the actress's fat arms had sunk the Titanic. Was that a joke or an insult? A message to Winslet or to other girls watching? (Try to look better!) This was the harder-to-handle part of Rivers's legacy, her powerful alloy of girl talk and woman hate, her instinct for how misogyny can double as female bonding. In many ways, Joan Rivers was the first Real Housewife: she was brazen, unapologetically materialistic, a glamorous warrior in an all-female battleground—a gladiator. To honor her, as both a role model and a cautionary tale, you can't airbrush that out."

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TAGS: 54, alisha grauso, boyhood, emily nussbaum, film comment, gamergate, jafar panahi, joan river, kingsman: the secret service, louis jordan, moviepilot, ryan phillippe, sandra adair, taxi, the last five years, the spongebob movie: sponge out of water, violet lucca, vulture, wesley morris


Spike Lee

1. "'We're in Disarray': An Interview With Spike Lee." The filmmaker discusses Ferguson, getting tenure at NYU, and the eclecticism of his new movie, Da Sweet Blood of Jesus.

"Yeah, but you can't live your life on Kickstarter. I know I can't. It'll give you a pass one time. But I'll work within the Hollywood system. It just depends upon the budget. I'm not crazy. I knew going in that there's no way any studio would do this film. I never even sent it out. It was always conceived as a Kickstarter project. So the goal was to raise the money in the time allotted, and we did it. But not getting the necessary funds for a project has happened before. Not just to me. There's a lot of great stuff out there that has yet to receive financing and the green light. That's just the nature of the beast in dealing with the Hollywood system. And also, if you have a script that's ambitious, even with Kickstarter you're not going to raise $10 million. That's not going to happen."

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TAGS: da sweet blood of jesus, fifty shades of grey, frances mcdormand, ingmar bergman, kickstarter, kogonada, lisa cholodenko, molly haskell, nick pinkerton, olive kitteridge, philip levine, r.i.p., richard brody, sam fragoso, spike lee, sylvia plath







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