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Links for the Day: Bill Murray Hates the Oscars, San Francisco Bay Guardian Shuts Down, Richard Brody on Getting Jazz Right in the Movies, & More

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Links for the Day: Bill Murray Hates the Oscars, San Francisco Bay Guardian Shuts Down, Richard Brody on Getting Jazz Right in the Movies, & More

1. “Bill Murray Interview.” For Variety, Ramin Setoodeh speaks to the actor about St. Vincent, fame, and the “virus” of Oscar season.

“Even if Murray may have a beer with strangers, he won’t be hobnobbing with the press during this year’s awards season, despite the Oscar buzz he’s generating for St. Vincent. Don’t look for him to be joining the other awards-season hopefuls on the campaign trail, either. ’I’ve never done that,’ he says. ’I know that’s something Harvey (Weinstein) does—he forces you to do these things. I’m not that way. If you want an award so much, it’s like a virus. It’s an illness.’ When Murray was nominated for Lost in Translation in 2004, he convinced himself he would take home the Academy Award. ’Six months later, I realized I had taken the virus. I had been infected.’ He says the careers of some of his peers have faltered because of the golden statue. ’People have this post-Oscar blowback,’ he says. ’They start thinking, ‘I can’t do a movie unless it’s Oscar-worthy.’ It just seems people have difficulty making the right choices after that.’”

2. San Francisco Bay Guardian Shuts Down.” The San Francisco Bay Guardian weekly newspaper, a leading progressive voice in the city for 48 years, is closing for financial reasons, its publisher said Tuesday.

“’It is the hardest decision I’ve had to make in my 20-year newspaper career,’ said Publisher Glenn Zuehls of the San Francisco Media Co., which has operated the alternative paper since 2012 and also runs the San Francisco Examiner and the SF Weekly. ’San Francisco—and the world—was a very different place when the Bay Guardian began publishing in 1966,’ Zuehls said in a statement. ’Many of the causes the paper championed over the decades have shifted and evolved. The political and social climate of the city, in part as a result of the paper’s coverage, has become more open, transparent and inclusive. The Bay Guardian leaves a legacy as a forceful advocate for social change that will always be a source of pride for everyone who was part of it or who valued its voice in our community.’ The end came in a hurry. Even before the public announcement was made, the newspaper’s website and Facebook page were shut down and all employee e-mail services dumped.”

3. “Getting Jazz Right in the Movies.” Richard Brody on how Whiplash gets jazz wrong.

“But those performances of musicians with a secret are made possible by scripts that don’t rely on index-card psychology, as Whiplash does. Certainly, the movie isn’t ’about’ jazz; it’s ’about’ abuse of power. Fletcher could as easily be demanding sex or extorting money as hurling epithets and administering smacks. Yet Chazelle seems to suggest that Fletcher, for all his likely criminal cruelty, has nonetheless forced Andrew to take responsibility for himself, to make decisions on his own, to prove himself even by rebelling against Fletcher’s authority. There’s nothing in the film to indicate that Andrew has any originality in his music. What he has, and what he ultimately expresses, is chutzpah. That may be very helpful in readying Andrew for a job on television. Whiplash honors neither jazz nor cinema; it’s a work of petty didacticism that shows off petty mastery, and it feeds the sort of minor celebrity that Andrew aspires to. Buddy Rich. Buddy fucking Rich.”

4. “Meaner Streets.” Chris Wisniewski on The Age of Innocence.

he Age of Innocence unfolds as a portrait of denial and restraint. This may be why it might have seemed upon its release to be so very un-Scorsese like, so incongruous in a filmography brimming with excess and violence. Yet the film’s climax, which begins with Newland and May’s first society dinner party—a farewell party for the Countess Olenska—and concludes with May revealing to Newland that she is pregnant, is surely as violent as anything in the Scorsese oeuvre. Like the other social scenes that precede it, the dinner is carefully choreographed, an exercise in indirect small talk over drinks and delicately plated morsels. Here, though, Woodward’s voiceover betrays the ruthless subtext of the affair, acknowledging that ’New York believed [Newland] to be Madame Olenska’s lover,’ a revelation that casts every movement and gesture in a cruel new light. This simple dinner marks the triumph of social code over desire, propriety over passion—achieved through a silent conspiracy.”

5. “From Outer Space, or Something.” Ismail Muhammad on fantasizing capital in contemporary hip-hop.

“The discourse on hip-hop’s realist tendencies is an old one and is entangled with debates about black authenticity. Critics like Tricia Rose, Imani Perry, Adam Bradley, and Jeff Chang have been parsing rap’s relationship to black ’reality’ for more than 20 years now, posing the question of whether or not, or to what extent, we can consider hip-hop to be a form of ethnic testimony reflecting black socioeconomic experience. Unfortunately, many of these analyses ignore the diverse strands of sound, concept, and content that comprise the ’hip-hop tradition,’ shrinking the music down to an artificial core or golden age. Questlove gives us a prime example: Run-DMC’s socially conscious concern for the struggle makes the cut, but Ace Hood’s dream of waking up in a Bugatti isn’t as true to the golden age as Questlove would like.”

Video of the Day: Well played you dirty little rapscallion:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WdI2ZHkbKbA
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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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