The House


Steven Soderbergh

1. "Steven Soderbergh On Why He Really Quit Movies." The director talks about his new TV show, his old films, and the one-asshole theory of everything.

"And I'll tell you why. This country is too fucking big. I honestly think...In nature, if a cell gets too big, it divides. You can't come up with a set of rules that's going to work for 350 million people. You're just not. So we're stuck. Robert Kennedy had this great quote: '20 percent of people are against everything, all the time.' That's a big number now. And you know what? 'No' is easy. 'No' doesn't require any follow-up, commitment. 'Yes' is hard, 'yes' has to be worked on. It needs a lot of people to keep it as 'yes.' That's where we're at. When I'm president, we're going back to the Thirteen Colonies, is what we're going to do. It's a weird time. Because the trajectory...Wow, I look around and I'm alarmed. I guess every generation feels that way, I don't know, but I'm really alarmed. I talk to smart people who work in fields either, you know, neuro-cognition or social analysis, I go, 'Am I going nuts or is this thing going a certain direction, really fast?' All of them go, 'You're not imagining things.' And I go, 'What do we do?' This could turn into Mad Max, like tomorrow. The fabric is so thin, I feel like."

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TAGS: angelina jolie, before midnight, bilge ebiri, boyhood, christopher nolan, exodus: god of kings, forrest gump, jennifer lawrence, richard linklater, ridley scott, robert zemeckis, slacker, steven soderbergh, wesley morris


Taylor Swift

1. "For Taylor Swift, the Future of Music Is a Love Story." The singer-songwriter says artists and fans will still form deep bonds, but they will do it in new ways.

"In the YouTube generation we live in, I walked out onstage every night of my stadium tour last year knowing almost every fan had already seen the show online. To continue to show them something they had never seen before, I brought out dozens of special guest performers to sing their hits with me. My generation was raised being able to flip channels if we got bored, and we read the last page of the book when we got impatient. We want to be caught off guard, delighted, left in awe. I hope the next generation's artists will continue to think of inventive ways of keeping their audiences on their toes, as challenging as that might be."

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TAGS: boyhood, david fincher, drew harwell, gone girl, jack halberstam, michael koresky, nick pinkerton, reverse shot, richard linklater, tampa bay times, taylor swift, transgender, trigger warning


Tom Perrotta

1. "Tom Perrotta Interview." Joel Keller interviews the Leftovers creator on how he and Damon Lindelof made his book darker for HBO.

"Look, if you want to know what happened, if that's why you're watching the show, you're going to hate it because it's not about that. It's about how people live in the face of a mystery that is not going to be solved. It's three years and scientists and studies say, 'We don't know.' There's no religion that can explain it. And they've almost stopped talking about it because there's nothing to be said. I felt like this Malaysian airliner that disappeared this year was an interesting case study on that. For about a month, it was in the news every day. CNN couldn't stop talking about it. And what they did was just have various experts and journalists just spin whatever theory they could think of. That's what the human mind does when it's confronted with a question that can't be answered is spin out crazy theories. And I think that that's what's going on in The Leftovers. This thing has happened, nobody can explain it and what the story is about is what people do when confronted with this gigantic hole in their understanding of the world. "

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TAGS: andy greenwald, brandon harris, damon lindelof, edinburgh film festival, filmmaker, grantland, hbo, joel keller, john carpenter, john mcgrath, justin bieber, life itself, michael pattison, seinfeld, steve james, the leftovers, the thing, Tom Perrotta, vanessa grigoriadis, vashi nedomansky


The Leftovers

Troubled chief of police Kevin Garvey (Justin Theroux) first encounters the penguin of "Penguins One, Us Zero" during an exchange with the police department psychologist assigned to evaluate his fitness for duty. Garvey's massacre of a pack of dogs (gone wild, local myth has it, after witnessing the Sudden Departure firsthand) has Mayor Lucy Warburton (Amanda Warren) and the chief's colleagues on the force worried about his mental state, and Garvey's unsubstantiated claim that an unnamed "mystery man" (Michael Gaston) joined him in the shooting does little to quell their doubts. Amid the combative atmosphere of the counseling session, the most jarring detail is the presence of a goofy, inflatable black bird with large blue eyes and toucan-esque splashes of color on its body. "I work with a lot of kids," the shrink explains. "They use it for aggression." As its title suggests, the second episode of The Leftovers teems with flashes of anger, but it's the objects of frustration that end up winning out.

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TAGS: amanda warren, Amy Brenneman, carrie coon, charlie carver, Emily Meade, hbo, Justin Theroux, liv tyler, margaret qualley, max carver, Michael Gaston, Paterson Joseph, penguins one us zero, recap, scott glenn, the leftovers


Weekend at Bernie'sTed Kotcheff's moth-bitten, notoriously macabre comedy Weekend at Bernie's is best—and most rewardingly—revisited as an unintended rumination on the queasy moral crises of Reaganomics-era America. While traipsing the corpse of a mob-whacked insurance tycoon around his $2 million beachside Hamptons mansion for a weekend, getting laid is nevertheless priority one for dum-dum antiheroes Richard (David Silverman) and Larry (Andrew McCarthy). But as the issue of Bernie's death begins to eclipse Richard's accursed attempt to woo his hot co-worker love-interest, Gwen (Catherine Mary Stewart), the film plays like a live-action elaboration on the Pleasure Island sequence in Pinocchio, but for teenagers looking to catch a glimpse of their future awkward adult selves.

That the gags are terrible doesn't dilute the casual, old-fashionedness of their execution: They build up and play out in a way that feels uncannily like satire, except all the characters can spit out is empty, nacho-cheesy boilerplate. There's a scene where Richard—a gawky analyst in a salmon-colored dress shirt and glimmering suspenders—tells Gwen that his parents are dead in order to win some kernel of sympathy. Tim Matheson made this type of fuckery hilarious in Animal House with his knowingly supercilious performance-within-a-performance; Silverman simply comes across as a liar and a doof. Sure, it's mean-spirited, but more to the point, it's a blown opportunity to reveal anything about the characters other than (a) he's a coward and (b) she's gullible.

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TAGS: american psycho, andrew mccarthy, animal house, Catherine Mary Stewart, David Silverman, pinocchio, Robert Klane, summer of 89, Ted Kotcheff, terry kiser, Tim Matheson, wake in fright, wall street, weekend at bernie's


Michael Bay

1. "Age of Exhaustion." Alex Pappademas on the year of the self-loathing summer movie.

"Even before [Michael] Bay rolled out his thunderous mea culpa, the summer of the self-loathing blockbuster was in full swing. The season's highest-grossing comedy is 22 Jump Street, a cash-grab sequel whose premise is that cash-grab sequels are embarrassing and lame, a movie that exists because everyone involved is both too cool to make a sequel and too weak (or too contractually obligated) to say no to one. The story begins with Nick Offerman’s police chief ordering Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill’s buddy-cop characters to go back to doing what they did before, because it worked. The climax features Tatum hurling a grenade into a helicopter while falling into the ocean, traditionally an action hero’s cue to say something cool; all Tatum’s Officer Jenko can come up with is the self-referential 'Something coooool!' When it’s over, in place of an end-credits gag reel, we get a parade of fake clips and posters for dozens of future Jump Street sequels, most of them too plausible to be all that amusing. It’s as if directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller are blowing up this well so they’ll never be tempted to go back to it."

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TAGS: 22 jump street, a hard day's night, adam thirlwell, chris miller, domino sugar factory, emily gould, friendship, hollywood, kara walker, maureen o'connor, michael bay, nicholas powers, phil lord, pier paolo pasolini, richard lester, roger deakins, stephanie zacharek, transformers: age of extinction


Paul Mazursky

1. "Paul Mazursky R.I.P." The filmmaker, who captured a changing America throughout films such as Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice, dies at 84.

"Paul Mazursky, an innovative director and screenwriter who both satirized and sympathized with America's panorama of social upheavals in the late 1960s and '70s in films that included Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice, Blume in Love and An Unmarried Woman, died on Monday in Los Angeles. He was 84. A family spokeswoman, Nancy Willen, said he died of pulmonary cardiac arrest at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. Mr. Mazursky lived in Beverly Hills. As the nation's counterculture revolution shattered traditional norms of sex, marriage and conformity, Mr. Mazursky made his most popular and commercially successful films: lighthearted sendups of wife-swapping, yoga classes, group therapy, pot-smoking, midlife crises and other self-absorbed, middle-class indulgences that reviewers said he crafted with even-handedness and generosity. Some critics complained that his satire wasn't cutting enough. Others called his comedies crisp at a time when behavior was at its fuzziest. Vincent Canby, in a 1976 analysis in The New York Times, acknowledged: 'Mazursky is a tough man to handle critically. He is alternately witty and brilliantly sarcastic, then suddenly, soddenly sincere and self-centered, only to explode unexpectedly as a first-rate social satirist.'"

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TAGS: angela bassett, angela davis, bill murray, bob & carol & ted & alice, bob dylan, closed curtain, eric kohn, j. hoberman, jafar panahi, jordan alexander stein, lifetime, melissa mccarthy, nina simone, paul mazursky, snowpiercer, st. vincent, whitney houston


The Muscles in Our Toes

For those who've dared attend one, a high school reunion is an occasion in which one's past expectations and one's present circumstances come head to head. For the characters in Stephen Belber's absurd and often poignant new play, The Muscles in Our Toes, the effort to reconcile the two has a very real impact on their immediate futures when they gather in the chorus room (hyper-realistically designed by Lee Savage) of their high school for their 25th.

Inside this history-laden space, talk among four old friends turns quickly from the conversational pleasantries of work, kids, and marriage to the person conspicuously missing from it: their friend Jim, who, word has it, has been captured by a radical political group during a business trip in Chad. Reg (Amir Arison), a mild-mannered government employee, proposes a peace website to bring attention to Jim's predicament, but the rest of the group, including Les (Bill Dawes), a fight choreographer who embodies a beguiling combination of macho jocularity and progressive sensitivity, Dante (Mather Zickel), an uptight banker and new convert to Judaism, and Phil (Matthew Maher), Dante's flamboyant brother, have other plans. "If we wanna live more engaged lives we have to get up off our asses and do something," Phil says.

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TAGS: amir arison, bank street theater, Bill Dawes, jeanine serrales, lee savage, Mather Zickel, matthew maher, Stephen Belber, the muscles in our toes


Kenneth Anger

1. "Kenneth Anger Interview." Harmony Korine chats with the iconic underground filmmaker.

"Well, I had to tailor my dreams to fit my budgets. Except in a few cases, like when Sir Paul Getty was alive and he sponsored my Mickey Mouse film [Mouse Heaven, 2004], I had very limited financial resources. So that has dictated my product. With Rabbit's Moon [1950-79], I was helped by the Cinémathèque Française. They gave me the 35mm film to make it. It was the same film that [Jean] Cocteau used for Beauty and the Beast—the same 35mm negative. I had plans to do a film based on Les Chants de Maldoror by Lautréamont. I did film part of it with one of the ballet groups in France. I made platforms just below the surface of the water; there were, like, tables, they were held down so they wouldn't float away. So it appeared that the dancers were actually dancing on the water. It's not a very special effect, because if you had the money, you could do it with people dancing in the air if you wanted."

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TAGS: closed curtain, harmony korine, independent cinema, jafar panahi, kenneth anger, matt zoller seitz, michael bay, richard brody, seinfeld, spike lee, spoilers, the sopranos, todd vanderwerff, transformers


Poltergeist

1. "The 50 Greatest Summer Blockbusters." Part one of The Dissolve's ode to the biggest films Hollywood has offered us across the summer months.

"For our list of the 50 Greatest Summer Blockbusters, we decided to be strict in some ways and lax in others. Only films released in the United States between May 1 and August 31 qualified. That eliminated a lot of films that might have landed on a list of best blockbusters, including the Lord Of The Rings films (all winter releases) and The Matrix (released March 31, 1999). (In fact, only The Matrix Reloaded qualifies for consideration. Spoiler: It did not make the list.) Beyond that, however, we left it open, meaning films with laser canons and exploding Escalades qualified, but so did animated movies, comedies, and any other sort of film released during summer months. We let the calendar define what it meant to be a summer movie, but let our panel of 12 critics define what made a film a blockbuster, narrowing it down from 655 contenders over the course of three rounds of voting. The process yielded a diverse bunch of movies starting with a comedy about a man discovering love late in life, and ending with... Well, we'll get to that."

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TAGS: a.d. jameson, edward champion, emily gould, friendship, glenn kenny, jefferson starship, kevin b. lee, mise-en-scène, the dissolve, the skeleton twins, transformers: age of extinction






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