The House


Ice Poison

Audiences are likely to be drawn to Ice Poison because it's the rare feature film from Myanmar, the South East Asian nation formerly known as Burma that has only recently reemerged on the world stage after decades of isolation. But you won't see the beauty or richness of the Burmese culture that visitors to the popular tourist cities of Yangon or Mandalay get to experience. In fact, director Midi Z—Burmese-born and based in Taiwan—has stated his intentions are deliberately the opposite. He wants to show the grim reality faced by the majority of the population who live in dire poverty in the rural areas, left underdeveloped for over a half century since Burma gained independence from the British.

A farmer and his son face destitution in Lashio, the principal town in the country's northern, China-bordering Shan State. "Everything is more expensive except the vegetables we grow," says the farmer, who cultivates an arid patch of land in the mountains. He treks down to the town below in order to tap various relatives for a loan, but as everyone he approaches has their own tale of woe, they refuse him. And though a factory owner offers the son a job, the farmer believes he can make more money by getting his son to operate a motor-scooter taxi service. And so he offers to exchange his cow for an old scooter belonging to the factory owner.

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TAGS: ice poison, midi z, tribeca film festival


Estelle Parsons Estelle Parsons has always found something interesting to do. Eighty years ago at her local community theater, she starred as a boy who's transformed into a princess. Now in Eric Coble's The Velocity of Autumn, she's playing a woman who threatens to blow up herself and her entire Brooklyn block if she's not allowed to live and die as she pleases. In between, Parsons "showed up on time and ready to work." That's about as much credit as she'll take for her success. She's got a New Englander's distaste for self-aggrandizement, or as she says: "I'm repressed." The 86-year-old may not admit it, but she's a trailblazer.

Parsons was one of only two women in her class at Boston University Law School and was in the first group of women to be accepted to Harvard Law School. At 21, she was the youngest person, and first woman, to be elected to the Marblehead Planning Board, and as the first "Today girl," she was also television's first female political reporter. In film, she won an Academy Award for her first major role in Bonnie & Clyde, and was nominated for her subsequent film, Rachel, Rachel, though cinephiles may also know her as much for her BAFTA-nominated turn in Melvin Van Peebles's groundbreaking The Watermelon Man.

Before The Velocity of Autumn went into previews at Broadway's Booth Theatre, Ms. Parsons spoke with me about her work, what drew her to acting, and retirement.

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TAGS: al pacino, august: osage county, bonnie & clyde, booth theatre, eric coble, estelle parsons, ethel merman, grace kelly, jessica chastain, joe papp, rachel rachel, roseanne, salome, the velocity of autumn, the watermelon man, today


Donna Tartt

1. "List of 2014 Pulitzer Prize winners." The 2014 Pulitzer Prize winners and finalists, and the judges' comments.

"Criticism: Inga Saffron of The Philadelphia Inquirer for her criticism of architecture that blends expertise, civic passion and sheer readability into arguments that consistently stimulate and surprise. Finalists: Mary McNamara of the Los Angeles Times for her trenchant and witty television criticism, engaging readers through essays and reviews that feature a conversational style and the force of fresh ideas; and Jen Graves of The Stranger, a Seattle weekly, for her visual arts criticism that, with elegant and vivid description, informs readers about how to look at the complexities of contemporary art and the world in which it's made."

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TAGS: adam nayman, amazon, anne rice, cameron crowe, donna tartt, inga saffron, linda holmes, milton keynes, noah berlatsky, paul verhoeven, pulitzer prize, Say Anything, scarlett johansson, showgirls, under the skin


VideolandPart media studies, part cultural history, part ethnography, Daniel Herbert's Videoland: Movie Culture at the American Video Store is an unusual and often unusually compelling study of the emergence and disappearance of American movie-rental stores. Unusual, because Herbert's work is primarily derived from empirical research conducted at video stores across the country, as he observed locations and interviewed employees and customers for a deeper, almost phenomenological sense of the video store as lived experience, from both sides of the video counter.

Herbert's writing also comes from personal experience, as he worked at Alphaville Video in Albuquerque from 1999 to 2002—information which he openly shares in the book's introduction. His admission speaks directly to a nostalgia for a culture which has largely disappeared, almost as a means of legitimating himself within cinephilic culture. Working at a video store, for Herbert and several of those interviewed, constitutes something of a right of passage into a specific kind of cinematic education, perhaps one of saturation and immersion. Specifically, Herbert discusses how the employees at Scarecrow Video in Seattle, WA view their jobs as "like playing a game of trivia all day," since they're surrounded by like-minded cinephiles.

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TAGS: alphaville video, black swan, blockbuster video, daniel herbert, gigli, le video, mad dog time, movie gallery, scarecrow video, the king's speech, university of california press, videoland: movie culture at the american video store


Rökysopp & Robyn

When fellow Scandinavians and frequent collaborators Rökysopp and Robyn announced plans for a joint tour back in December, one couldn't help but hope that, given that neither act had released a new album since 2010, new music might be on the horizon as well. Robyn hinted via Twitter that she was recording with Svein Berge and Torbjørn Brundtland, but it wasn't until this morning that we received official word that the fruits of those labors, Do It Again, will be released on May 26th. The five-track "mini album" (we used to call those EPs back in my day) opens with the epic, 10-minute anthem "Monument," which was inspired by a sculpture by Brazilian-American artist Juliana Cerqueira Leite. Listen to a preview below:

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TAGS: do it again, juliana cerquerira leite, junior, monument, none of dem, robyn, Royksopp, svein berge, The Girl and the Robot, torbjorn brundtland


Zac Efron

1. "2014 MTV Movie Awards: Here Are The Real Winners And Losers. Victory is about so much more than a trophy.

"By the time you read this, the 2014 MTV Movie Awards will be over: the trophies dispensed, the house cleared out and the many celebs in attendance off to either celebrate their successes or nurse the wounds of defeat. And if you've taken a peek at the night's final list of winners, you might even think that you know exactly who in Hollywood should be doing a victory dance until dawn. But you'd be wrong! Because just because somebody took home a Golden Popcorn, that doesn't mean they won the MTV Movie Awards. That's something else entirely! No, there are true winners (and losers for that matter). So who were the actual champions, and who should we seriously feel sorry for?"

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TAGS: alex pappademas, black and white, bookstores, cindy sherman, crossroads film festival, james franco, michael sicinski, mtv movie awards, nicolas cage, spark trailers, zac efron


Lana Del Rey

Lizzie Grant needs a vacation. The singer-songwriter has produced a steady stream of new material since she premiered her pop chanteuse alter ego, Lana Del Rey, on YouTube way back in 2011. Before her 2012 album Born to Die even had a chance to cool, she'd already dropped a companion EP (Paradise), a string of soundtrack cuts ("Once Upon a Dream" from the upcoming Disney flick Maleficient being the most recent), and a short film (Tropico). Last week, "Meet Me in the Pale Moonlight," a surprisingly discofied cut, leaked onto the Internet, and while Del Rey dismissed it as an old song written for another artist, the blogosphere's ravenous response points to an audience that isn't just eagerly anticipating the singer's new single, but expecting the unexpected.

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TAGS: born to die, dan auerbach, lana del rey, maleficent, meet me in the pale moonlight, once upon a dream, paradise, single review, the black keys, tropico, ultraviolence, west coast


Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones eased into its fourth season with an episode that traded the unending forward motion of the show's previous season for a moment of ragged calm, but "The Lion and the Rose" reveals that respite as nothing more than the eye of a storm. Not only that, George R.R. Martin's writing credit makes it clear from the start that not only does something happen in this episode, but that the cataclysmic event typically placed in a given season's penultimate installment will likely occur almost immediately, dramatically shaking up the show's usual structure and setting up the fourth season as its most distinctive yet.

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TAGS: carice van houten, game of thrones, George R.R. Martin, hbo, iwan rheon, jack gleeson, lena headey, peter dinklage, recap, sigur ros, stephen dillane, the lion and the rose, tony way


Mad Men

Late into "Time Zones," the first episode of Mad Men's final season, Don Draper (Jon Hamm) is literally stuck in a holding pattern, flying above the East Coast alongside a talkative widow, played by Neve Campbell. She offers him a ride home with a wink and he pointedly responds that he has to get back to work. It's the same line he lays on Megan (Jessica Paré), his wife, when she insists they have a few more hours of time together in Los Angeles before he has to catch his flight back to New York. It's a seemingly throwaway line, but it's the way Hamm delivers it that reveals the sinking desperation and boredom that Don is stewing in. The fact that he's reintroduced via Spencer Davis Group's strutting "I'm a Man" is telling: "Well, if I had my choice of matter/I would rather be with cats/All engrossed in mental chatter/Movin' where our minds are at."

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TAGS: aaron staton, Allan Havey, christina hendricks, elisabeth moss, jessica pare, joel murray, john slattery, jon hamm, kevin rahm, mad men, matthew weiner, recap, time zones


Stephen Colbert

1. "Colbert Will Host 'Late Show,' Playing Himself for a Change." CBS made its choice, quickly and definitively: Stephen Colbert will succeed David Letterman as the host of its late-night franchise, which Mr. Letterman created when he came to the network in 1993.

"Mr. Colbert, the star of Comedy Central's 'Colbert Report,' will be—in one way—an all-new talent for CBS because he will drop the broadly satirical blowhard conservative character he has played for nine years, and instead perform as himself. Mr. Colbert became the immediate front-runner for the position both because of an increasing recognition of his talent--his show won two Emmy Awards last year—and because he clearly wanted the job. His representation had ensured that he would be available to CBS by syncing his recent contracts with Mr. Letterman's."

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TAGS: ayaan hirsi ali, boyhood, brandeis university, christopher evan welch, comedy central, david letterman, Mickey Rooney, nirvana, Olivia de Havilland, richard linklater, rock and roll hall of fame, silicon valley, stephen colbert






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