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Links for the Day: Miyazaki’s Beautiful Antiwar Dreams, Nick Pinkerton on Southern Gothic, Mad Men: The Quagmire Stares Back, Valley of Love Trailer, & More

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Links for the Day: Miyazaki’s Beautiful Antiwar Dreams, Nick Pinkerton on Southern Gothic, Mad Men: The Quagmire Stares Back, Valley of Love Trailer, & More

1. “Miyazaki’s Beautiful Antiwar Dreams.” Dan Sanchez, for Medium, on war and peace in the films of Studio Ghibli.

“Nobody is more familiar with what a curse airplanes can be when deployed for evil than the Japanese. Airplanes dropped the canisters that burned their cities, the mines that starved their children, and the nukes that instantly made vast irradiated graveyards out of Hiroshima and Nagasaki — for the first time in history visiting solar-temperature hell upon human habitations, and hinting at mankind’s full capacity for suicidal madness. But their intimate familiarity with the ’cursed dream’ of airplanes also stems from the Japanese state’s own misuse of the great invention for its imperial dreams. This truth is intimated throughout The Wind Rises in the tension between the desire of several of the characters to simply build graceful, well-designed aircraft and the knowledge that their beautiful creations will be used to perpetrate the hideous horrors of war.”

2. “Deep Focus: Southern Gothic.” Nick Pinkerton on the Gothic tradition in the American South, exemplified in literature in the work of Carson McCullers, Flannery O’Connor and William Faulkner, and how its long provided a rich seam of content for cinema.

“There had been tentative attempts to adapt Carson McCullers for the screen before, with mediocre results, but the Production Code Administration had to crumble before her oeuvre, steeped as it is in stifled and inchoate sexual yearning, could be done any justice. The downfall of the PCA also reinvigorated director John Huston, whose connection to American literature was profound, and who directed the finest adaptation of McCullers’s work to date. Huston’s Reflections in a Golden Eye, a knot of forbidden appetites and misplaced affection set on a Southern army base, boasts affecting performances from Elizabeth Taylor, Julie Harris, Brian Keith and Marlon Brando, whose ramrod-straight (and slightly queer) Major Weldon Penderton, seen smearing himself with cold cream, fumbling with dumbbells and vainly rehearsing normalcy in the mirror, is a sad ogre. To emphasise the film’s jaundiced atmosphere, Huston had the original release prints desaturated in post-production, giving DP Aldo Tonti’s work a golden burnish.”

3. Mad Men: The Quagmire Stares Back.” Over at EW, Jeff Jensen is thinking about the show’s end game.

“See You In The Funny Papers: Mad Men as metaphor for itself and the future of television and media. In the first episode of Mad Men, Don introduced himself with an alienating declaration that didn’t exactly portend his destiny as a beloved TV icon. ’What you call ’love’ was invented by guys like me, to sell nylons,’ the ad man explained to a woman in a bar. We now know the womanizer doth protest too much: As with most things concerning Don, the statement is ironic. The truth is found in the words and behind them. ’Don Draper’ really is that cynical, but the man behind the mask desperately wants to connect to something as invigorating and timeless as true love. The deeper irony of the line is that you can say the same thing about television. All shows, even Mad Men, aren’t created to be art; they’re made as marketing delivery systems, and/or as advertising to enhance or promote their networks.”

4. “Do cats really give better on-screen performances than dogs?” Mark Olsen, writing for the Los Angeles times, believes so.

“In last year’s Gone Girl, the cat shared between Ben Affleck’s Nick and Rosamund Pike’s Amy becomes something of a pawn in their shifting power dynamics, appearing in proximity to one or the other and somehow tipping the scales this way or that for audience identification between the couple. In a home video commentary track, director David Fincher noted how in the role of Bleecker, the real life cat Cheeto was great to work with because he could be put in a spot and would just stay there for hours. Part of what makes cats in real life and on-screen such compelling creatures is their slightly distant quality, the way in which they always seem to have a secret. In Gone Girl, one really wants to know just what that cat has seen, what it could spill about Nick and Amy behind closed doors. Few moments in movies last year were more quizzically enigmatic than when Nick led two police officers through the house after his wife’s disappearance and noted, ’That’s the cat’s room.’ The cat gets its own room?”

5. “Saul Bellow, Film Critic.” Richard Brody on a new collection of the novelist’s nonfiction.

“Bellow analyzes the 1961 film of Tennessee Williams’s play Summer and Smoke, which he sees as delivering a ’lesson’: ’that puritanical repression is an evil, that the instincts are not to be mocked, that the body is a sacred object and that sex, properly understood, is a form of holy worship.’ He contends that it’s ’this, the liberalization of opinion, that has become the dramatic event in the movie house. This liberalization has developed its own sort of piety.’ From a strictly political perspective, Bellow was correct, and, were he looking ahead to the present day, he would still be seeing clearly. Hollywood did, and, today, Hollywood and its independent tributaries do, what Bellow saw it doing. But Bellow, a moviegoer whose devotion to movies comes far behind his main enthusiasms, doesn’t look at the matter from the perspective of the art. Hollywood’s message-mongering came as a result of its own unfathomable success. Thanks to Hollywood movies, movies flooded America. The entire country became a Hollywood company town, and, within the space of a few years, a landscape hitherto dominated by vaudeville became the audiovisual playground that it still is today.”

Video of the Day: The trailer for Guillaume Nicloux’s Valley of Love, starring Isabelle Huppert and Gérard Depardieu:

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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Let Your Sanity Go on Vacation with a Trip to the Moons of Madness

If you dare, ascend into the horrors of the Martian mind and check out the trailer for yourself.

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Moons of Madness
Photo: Rock Pocket Games

The announcement trailer for Moons of Madness opens with an empty shot of the Invictus, a research installation that’s been established on Mars. The camera lingers over well-lit but equally abandoned corridors, drifting over a picture of a family left millions of kilometers behind on Earth before finally settling on the first-person perspective of Shane Newehart, an engineer working for the Orochi Group. Fans of a different Funcom series, The Secret World, will instantly know that something’s wrong. And sure enough, in what may be the understatement of the year, Newehart is soon talking about how he “seems to have a situation here”—you know, what with all the antiquated Gothic hallways, glitching cameras, and tentacled creatures that start appearing before him.

As with Dead Space, it’s not long before the station is running on emergency power, with eerie whispers echoing through the station and bloody, cryptic symbols being scrawled on the walls. Did we mention tentacles? Though the gameplay hasn’t officially been revealed, this brief teaser suggests that players will have to find ways both to survive the physical pressures of this lifeless planet and all sorts of sanity-challenging supernatural occurrences, with at least a soupçon of H.P. Lovecraft’s cosmicism thrown in for good measure.

If you dare, ascend into the horrors of the Martian mind and check out the trailer for yourself.

Rock Pocket Games will release Moons of Madness later this year.

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Watch: Two Episode Trailers for Jordan Peele’s The Twilight Zone Reboot

Ahead of next week’s premiere of the series, CBS All Access has released trailers for the first two episodes.

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The Twilight Zone
Photo: CBS All Access

Jordan Peele is sitting on top of the world—or, at least, at the top of the box office, with his sophomore film, Us, having delivered (and then some) on the promise of his Get Out. Next up for the filmmaker is the much-anticipated reboot of Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone, which the filmmaker executive produced and hosts. Ahead of next week’s premiere of the series, CBS All Access has released trailers for the first two episodes, “The Comedian” and “Nightmare at 30,000 Feet.” In the former, Kumail Nanjiani stars as the eponymous comedian, who agonizingly wrestles with how far he will go for a laugh. And in the other, a spin on the classic “Nightmare at 20,0000 Feet” episode of the original series starring William Shatner, Adam Scott plays a man locked in a battle with his paranoid psyche. Watch both trailers below:

The Twilight Zone premieres on April 1.

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Scott Walker Dead at 76

Walker’s solo work moved away from the pop leanings of the Walker Brothers and increasingly toward the avant-garde.

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Scott Walker
Photo: 4AD

American-born British singer-songwriter, composer, and record producer Scott Walker, who began his career as a 1950s-style chanteur in an old-fashioned vocal trio, has died at 76. In a statement from his label 4AD, the musician, born Noel Scott Engel, is celebrated for having “enriched the lives of thousands, first as one third of the Walker Brothers, and later as a solo artist, producer and composer of uncompromising originality.”

Walker was born in Hamilton, Ohio on January 9, 1943 and earned his reputation very early on for his distinctive baritone. He changed his name after joining the Walker Brothers in the early 1960s, during which time the pop group enjoyed much success with such number one chart hits as “Make It Easy on Yourself” and “The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine (Anymore).”

The reclusive Walker’s solo work moved away from the pop leanings of the Walker Brothers and increasingly toward the avant-garde. Walker, who was making music until his death, received much critical acclaim with 2006’s Drift and 2012’s Bish Bosch, as well as with 2014’s Soused, his collaboration with Sunn O))). He also produced the soundtrack to Leos Carax’s 1999 romantic drama Pola X and composed the scores for Brady Corbet’s first two films as a director, 2016’s The Childhood of a Leader and last year’s Vox Lux.

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