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Links for the Day: 10 Lowlights for LGBT People and the Movies in 2013, Dan Savage Reads Sarah Palin While Making Cookies, Richard Brody on Her, & More

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Links for the Day: 10 Lowlights for LGBT People and the Movies in 2013, Dan Savage Reads Sarah Palin While Making Cookies, Richard Brody on Her, & More

1. “Que(e)ries: 10 Lowlights For LGBT People and the Movies in 2013.” From GLAAD honoring Brett Ratner to Jared Leto in Dallas Buyers Club, these are some of the things Indiewire wasn’t so appreciative of when it came to queers and the movies this past year.

“Bill Clinton, Steve Warren, Anderson Cooper, Adam Lambert and Brett Ratner were the five people that the GLAAD Awards decided to honor in what was clearly a benchmark year for LGBT representation in mainstream culture. Five filthy rich white dudes, two of whom are not only straight but don’t exactly have perfect track records when it comes it to LGBT issues (here’s hoping Frank Ocean simply declined the invitation, because I can’t think of a more obvious and worthy honoree with respect to last year). Of the five, Ratner is clearly the most disturbing choice. An ’ally award’ a year or so after he infamously said that ’rehearsal is for fags’ during a Q&A for his film Tower Heist, a comment that in part led to his resignation as producer of the Academy Awards? Ratner explained during his speech that he has since learned a ’valuable lesson’: ’A word can matter. Whether it’s said with malice or as a joke. And being insulted for using the word cannot compare to the experience of any young gay man or woman who has been the target of offensive slurs of derogatory comments.’ Well, I’m certainly glad Mr. Ratner figured that out. And though he seems to at least appear devoted actions to his words (he’s been working with GLAAD to produce and direct pro-marriage equality PSAs), to give him an award for that is ridiculous. Especially in this day and age of film careers crumbling because of these sorts of comments and ’making good examples of yourself’ often smelling like strategic damage control.”

2. “It’s a Man’s World, and It Always Will Be.” Camille Paglia on the modern economy as a male epic, in which women have found a productive but non-authorial role.

“It was always the proper mission of feminism to attack and reconstruct the ossified social practices that had led to wide-ranging discrimination against women. But surely it was and is possible for a progressive reform movement to achieve that without stereotyping, belittling or demonizing men. History must be seen clearly and fairly: obstructive traditions arose not from men’s hatred or enslavement of women but from the natural division of labor that had developed over thousands of years during the agrarian period and that once immensely benefited and protected women, permitting them to remain at the hearth to care for helpless infants and children. Over the past century, it was labor-saving appliances, invented by men and spread by capitalism, that liberated women from daily drudgery.”

3. “Good Grief and Great Tits.” In which Dan Savage reads Sarah Palin’s Christmas book while making Christmas cookies for his family.

“There are lots of Americans out there whose religious holidays aren’t also national holidays. The country doesn’t shut down—and public spaces aren’t turned into temples—on Yom Kippur or Diwali or Naw-Ruz. Now, either Jews, Hindus, and Zoroastrians are made of stronger stuff than Sarah Palin…or Sarah Palin is a shit-talking pimp who makes money playing to the carefully cultivated persecution complexes of conservative Christian rubes who wouldn’t know what religious persecution was if it sat on their faces and shit in their mouths. (Maybe that’s not an either/or.)”

4. “Seitz’s Top Drama TV Episodes of 2013.” It was a satisfying year of TV watching for Matt Zoller Seitz, who offers his very favorite (and very subjective) list of the best drama TV episodes of the year.

“The more distance I get from the concluding episodes of Breaking Bad, the more they feel like a self-contained mini-season charting the sudden exit, exile, return, and demise of Walter White. ’Ozymandias’ was the TV event of the year, sparking arguments about authorial intent and a show’s responsibility to its audience; ’Granite State’ was the calm before the storm, showcasing Walter in a more vulnerable state than we’d seen in a long time; ’Felina’ was a maelstrom of vengeance and violence that seemed like a wish fulfillment fantasy until you thought about what, exactly, Walter had ’won’ at the very end, and compared it to everything he lost. Top of the world, ma.”

5. “Ain’t Got No Body.” Richard Brody on Spike Jonze’s Her.

Her is a cautionary tale that offers warning where none is needed, a diffuse and sentimental admonition to put the smartphone down, push away from the computer, turn off the TV, unplug the game controller, and connect with people. But when people do attempt to connect, Jonze (who also wrote the script) endows them with nothing but psychobabbulous clichés to define themselves. The film, with its dewy tone and gentle manners, plays like a feature-length kitten video, leaving viewers to coo at the cute humans who live like pets in a world-scale safe house.”

Video of the Day: An original video essay by Michael Koresky and Casey Moore about the longstanding tradition of bleak midwinters at the movies:

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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Watch: Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood Gets Teaser Trailer

When it rains, it pours.

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Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
Photo: Columbia Pictures

When it rains, it pours. Four days after Quentin Tarantino once more laid into John Ford in a piece written for his Beverly Cinema website that saw the filmmaker referring to Ford’s She Wore a Yellow Ribbon as Tie a Yellow Ribbon, and two days after Columbia Pictures released poster art for QT’s ninth feature that wasn’t exactly of the highest order, the studio has released a teaser for Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. The film was announced early last year, with Tarantino describing it as “a story that takes place in Los Angeles in 1969, at the height of hippy Hollywood.”

Set on the eve of the Manson family murders, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood tells the story of TV actor Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his stunt double, Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt), as they try to get involved in the film industry. The film also stars Margot Robbie (as Sharon Tate), Al Pacino, the late Luke Perry, Damian Lewis, Dakota Fanning, Emile Hirsch, Timothy Olyphant, Kurt Russell, and Bruce Dern in a part originally intended for the late Burt Reynolds.

See the teaser below:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Scf8nIJCvs4

Columbia Pictures will release Once Upon a Time in Hollywood on July 26.

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Watch the Stranger Things 3 Trailer, and to the Tune of Mötley Crüe and the Who

A wise woman once said that there’s no such thing as a coincidence.

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Stranger Things 3
Photo: Netflix

A wise woman once said that there’s no such thing as a coincidence. On Friday, Jeff Tremaine’s The Dirt, a biopic about Mötley Crüe’s rise to fame, drops on Netflix. Today, the streaming service has released the trailer for the third season of Stranger Things. The clip opens with the strains of Mötley Crüe’s “Home Sweet Home,” all the better to underline that the peace and quiet that returned to the fictional rural town of Hawkins, Indiana at the end of the show’s second season is just waiting to be upset again.

Little is known about the plot of the new season, and the trailer keeps things pretty vague, though the Duffer Brothers have suggested that the storyline will take place a year after the events of the last season—duh, we know when “Home Sweet Home” came out—and focus on the main characters’ puberty pangs. That said, according to Reddit sleuths who’ve obsessed over such details as the nuances of the new season’s poster art, it looks like Max and company are going to have to contend with demon rats no doubt released from the Upside Down.

See below for the new season’s trailer:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YEG3bmU_WaI

Stranger Things 3 premieres globally on July 4.

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Who Killed My Father Is Heartbreaking but Prone to Pat Sociological Analysis

Édouard Louis’s latest is strong as a portrait of a family unable to communicate through anything but volatile, toxic outbursts.

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Who Killed My Father

Author Édouard Louis’s father has been an important figure in each of his previous works, even when he’s never seen or mostly at the periphery (as in The History of Violence). With his latest, Who Killed My Father, Louis finally turns to directly examining his most important, damaged relationship. Both in his previous books and interviews, Louis has repeatedly acknowledged this broken relationship, largely stemming from the author’s open homosexuality. Alongside this, Louis’s prior works have circled around a number of themes to which he returns here: the French political and working classes, the small-town prejudices that surrounded his upbringing and drove a closeted homosexual boy to escape to more cosmopolitan Paris, and the role of state power in producing social and physical illness.

With Who Killed My Father, Louis invites inevitable comparisons to Abdellah Taïa, another talented French writer who’s also gay and largely estranged from his place of origin, and also primarily an autobiographical novelist. Like Louis, Taïa incorporates his complicated relationship with a parent into several of his books. Taïa also connects that relationship, his writing, and his experience with the society he left behind in Morocco and the one he found in France. But what distinguishes his writing in, for example, Infidels or Salvation Army from that of Édouard Louis in Who Killed My Father is a strong sense of meaning. Taïa incorporates his relationship with his mother, M’Barka, to convey something more meaningful and developed.

Louis begins down this same road before clumsily inserting a political tract at the end of Who Killed My Father that doesn’t knit as effortlessly with parts one and two. The book situates Louis’s relationship with his father front and center as compared to his previous work. It’s clear that he’s exposing the painfulness of their relationship for the purpose of speaking about political power and its physical and social toll on those who don’t possess it, but Who Killed My Father stumbles in conveying its message adequately.

Louis’s account of his father’s suffering and violence toward those around him is both painful and sharp. Who Killed My Father is strongest when Louis is demonstrating his father’s most private acts of kindness, as when the father gives Louis a copy of Titanic for his birthday after trying to convince him to ask for a more “masculine” gift. After Louis realizes that his carefully planned tribute to the pop band Aqua at a family dinner has embarrassed his father, the man reassures Louis that “it’s nothing.” In the book’s first and strongest part, Louis expounds not only on the relationship with his father, but also excavates what might have made his father the man he grew up with. At one point, he recounts finding a photograph of his father in women’s clothes—undoubtedly some adolescent joke, but also inconceivable from the man who insisted to his son that men should never act like girls.

Regrettably, part one ends with a trite conclusion that says everything and nothing at the same time. In part two, the story attempts to braid together all the malignant threads of Louis’s family narrative. Louis recalls igniting a violent outburst between his father and older brother as a result of his mother shaming him for acting too much like a girl (“faggot” is what some others in the neighborhood more precisely call him). The insinuation hurts and angers him so much that he betrays his mother’s confidence on another family secret, setting loose a new wave of violence. Part two is short and important to moving Who Killed My Father toward some wider evaluation of the questions Louis begins the book with, but it ultimately fails to find its footing by pivoting in part three to an unearned polemic against the political classes.

Who Killed My Father is strong as a portrait of a family unable to communicate (except in brief moments of tenderness) through anything but volatile, toxic outbursts, but the book at its weakest when trying to ham-handedly force this narrative into some broad theorizing about power and society and structural violence. Part one aligned beautifully with a narrative of meaning more comparable to Taïa at his best. Unfortunately, the story quickly falls apart when Jacques Chirac is indicted for destroying Louis’s father’s body through changes in health care coverage. It’s not that the questions Louis ends with aren’t necessary and important ones; it’s that there’s so little threading the narrative together into anything cohesive. What was the point of the first two-thirds of the book? His father was cruel, occasionally loving, but never mind because the state is killing him? The life of the poor is one of abject powerlessness against an unremittingly powerful and callous “ruling class”?

Louis deserves credit for the attempt to tie it all together into some grander commentary on the political class and its ambivalence, but the conclusion is simultaneously glib and condescending. Perhaps Louis didn’t intend it, but the book’s conclusion drains away responsibility for the cruelty and bigotry of those like his father, and patronizes them as with a quick How could we expect any better of the noble, working poor? Is it the state’s or the ruling class’s subjugation of his father’s body that’s somehow also responsible for his inability to sympathize with gays or immigrants? Of course, the poor are subjugated by the rich and Louis has written more meaningfully about the implications of that relationship elsewhere. But in Who Killed My Father, he inadvertently demonstrates that the answer isn’t to sanctify them any more than it is to demonize them.

Édouard Louis’s Who Killed My Father is now available from New Directions.

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