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Links for the Day: An Oral History of Reality Bites, Denis Lavant Interview, Weed Could Block H.I.V. Spread, The Liquid Sky Sequel Is Coming, & More

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Links for the Day: An Oral History of Reality Bites, Denis Lavant Interview, Weed Could Block H.I.V. Spread, The Liquid Sky Sequel Is Coming, & More

1. “20 Years Later: An Oral History of Reality Bites.” How an unassuming romantic comedy defined and defied a generation.

“It was February 18, 1994. Kurt Cobain was still with us, but the grunge revolution had already begun to morph into something more palatable: ’alternative.’ A generation labeled ’X’ was struggling to enter the work force amid a recession, that economic reality yielding ’slackers’ and ’sell-outs’ in equal measure—labels that would soon enough become little more than pop cultural shorthand. Ben Stiller’s Reality Bites had already premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January and an intense marketing campaign had the film aimed squarely at a target audience destined to deny it. It was an unassuming romantic comedy invested in its characters more than its setting, but it registered—rightly or wrongly—as an attempt to define a generation. Two decades on, it exists less as a snapshot of an era than an emotional Polaroid of what it’s like to go out and make your way in the world. On the occasion of the film’s 20th anniversary, HitFix talked to 10 individuals involved with the production of the film: stars Ethan Hawke, Winona Ryder, Janeane Garofalo and Steve Zahn; screenwriter Helen Childress; producers Michael Shamberg and Stacey Sher; cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki; and singer/songwriter Lisa Loeb. What follows is their recollection of how it all came to be.”

2. “A Conversation with Denis Lavant.” Adam Cook speaks with the iconic actor.

“One of the great performers in cinema in the past 30 years, the acrobatic, elastic, kinetic Denis Lavant has defined some of the best films from the world’s best filmmakers. Appropriately associated with the films of Leos Carax, in which he has appeared in 4 of 5 features (as well as a short), and one of the greatest endings in movies, the dance sequence of Claire Denis’ Beau travail, the stage and film actor is something of an idol of cinephiles, almost exclusively lending his talent to auteurs. Now, Lavant can add another master to his resume: Taiwanese master Tsai Ming-liang, with whom he made Journey to the West—which we’ve already covered in Notebook here and here—a film that again takes advantage of the actor’s physicality, but in a new way.”

3. “Weed Could Block H.I.V.’s Spread. No, Seriously.” But the U.S. government won’t let scientists try out this promising treatment on humans.

“The study itself was fairly simple. For 17 months, Dr. Molina and her team at Louisiana State University administered a high concentration of THC to 4-to-6-year-old male rhesus monkeys who were RIV-positive (a virus in chimps similar to HIV), twice daily. An examination of the tissue in their intestines before and after the chronic THC exposure revealed dramatic decreases in immune tissue damage in the stomach and a significant increase in the numbers of normal cells. Mirroring other studies that link marijuana to HIV, the study illustrates how THC works by targeting so-called ’CB2’ receptors in the brain. One of two known cannabinoid receptors activated by cannabinoids (terpenophenolic compounds present in Cannabis), the CB2 receptors manifest in cells connected with the immune system, such as the gastrointestinal tract and the spleen. Unlike CB1 receptors, which respond to the psychoactive qualities of THC (producing a feeling of ’high’), CB2 receptors react to the therapeutic aspects of THC—for example, reducing swelling and relieving pain.”

4. “The Liquid Sky Sequel Is Coming.” A Chat With The Director Of The Best Film About New York.

“A film like Liquid Sky, it’s consciously postmodern. That’s what people say now, it puts together a lot of different elements. They are consciously put there, and camp is just one of these elements. I wanted to put together all the myths of the time, and all the stylistic elements as well. And that’s why I was very impressed by New Wave. They were punks, but according to themselves they weren’t punks, because it was so stylistic and complicated, and people don’t usually understand it was complicated. It combined everything: the American 50’s, Kabuki, German styles. All of that was mixed together, but the people creating it probably did so unconsciously. But that style was the reflection of the complexity of the mentality of a new generation. So it’s not just camp—camp is one of many elements in the film. And that’s why it lives so long—a lot of camp films from that period, nobody remembers.”

5. “Bob Casale R.I.P.” The Devo Member Is Dead at 61.

“Bob Casale, an original member of Devo, has died. Casale died from ’conditions that lead to heart failure,’ according to a posting on the group’s official Facebook page. He was 61. Devo was founded in 1972 in Akron, Ohio by Casale’s brother, Gerald Casale, and Mark Mothersbaugh, and became one of the seminal bands of the classic New Wave era. Bob was often credited as ’Bob 2’, playing the rhythm guitar and keyboard, as well as sometimes serving as producer and engineer. (Guitarist Robert Mothersbaugh, brother of Mark, was ’Bob 1’.) He performed on Devo’s albums from 1978 debut Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo! to 2010’s Something for Everybody—including their 1980 hit ’Whip It’.”

Video of the Day: The world premiere of first Guardians of the Galaxy trailer:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d96cjJhvlMA
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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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