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Links for the Day: Questlove on How Hip-Hop Failed Black America, Michael Glawogger R.I.P., Aaron Sorkin Is Sorry, Daniel Franzese’s Coming-Out Letter, & More

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Links for the Day: Questlove on How Hip-Hop Failed Black America, Michael Glawogger R.I.P., Aaron Sorkin Is Sorry, Daniel Franzese’s Coming-Out Letter, & More

1. “When the People Cheer.” Questlove on how hip-hop failed black America.

“I want to start with a statement: Hip-hop has taken over black music. At some level, this is a complex argument, with many outer rings, but it has a simple, indisputable core. Look at the music charts, or think of as many pop artists as you can, and see how many of the black ones aren’t part of hip-hop. There aren’t many hip-hop performers at the top of the charts lately: You have perennial winners like Jay Z, Kanye West, and Drake, along with newcomers like Kendrick Lamar, and that’s about it. Among women, it’s a little bit more complicated, but only a little bit. The two biggest stars, Beyoncé and Rihanna, are considered pop (or is that pop-soul), but what does that mean anymore? In their case, it means that they’re offering a variation on hip-hop that’s reinforced by their associations with the genre’s biggest stars: Beyoncé with Jay Z, of course, and Rihanna with everyone from Drake to A Rocky to Eminem.”

2. “Austrian Director Michael Glawogger Dies During African Shoot.” The director of Slumming and Whores’ Glory, who was 54, died in Liberia of Malaria.

“Acclaimed Austrian director Michael Glawogger, famed for his hard-hitting documentaries on the lives of the desperate poor, has died while on a shoot in Africa. Glawogger, whose work includes his documentary trilogy into the world of work: Workingman’s Death, Megacities, Whores’ Glory as well as dramas such as Slumming and Kill Daddy Good Night apparently died in Liberia after contracting Malaria. Glawogger had been in Africa gathering material for a new project. ’With horror and great dismay we have received the news of the sudden death of Michael Glawogger,’ industry association Film and Music Austria reported on its website Wednesday. The 54-year-old director last worked on the 3D architectural documentary series Cathedrals of Culture, alongside such luminaries as Robert Redford and Wim Wenders. In Glawogger’s segment, he examined the life and history of Russia’s National Library. Cathedrals of Culture premiered at the Berlin International Film Festival in February.”

3. “Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein on the indispensability of This Is Spinal Tap.” The stars of Portlandia on the Rob Reiner classic.

“I guess the most factual thing I could say about it is that it’s a fake documentary—or ’mockumentary’—and it’s one of the first of its kind, although I guess Albert Brooks was also doing stuff like that. But it essentially created this template for a lot of contemporary humor, as far as mockumentaries and talking to the camera, and it’s so…real. There’s sort of an underlying truth and a…schadenfreude, I guess? [Laughs.] I don’t know if that’s the right word, but I feel like that’s what a lot of other things, like The Office, are about too, where, as an audience member, you feel a small sense of joy watching these other people fall apart, and at the same time you have vicarious embarrassment. I think that’s the crux of a lot of contemporary humor, and I feel like it all started with this film.”

4. “Aaron Sorkin Wants To Apologize To Everyone About The Newsroom.” “I think you and I got off on the wrong foot with The Newsroom and I apologize and I’d like to start over,” the creator told an audience at a Tribeca Film Festival event on Monday.

“’I’m going to let you all stand in for everyone in the world, if you don’t mind. I think you and I got off on the wrong foot with The Newsroom and I apologize and I’d like to start over,’ Sorkin told the audience after interviewer (and former President Obama speech writer) Jon Favreau asked about what he’s learned about the media doing the series. ’I think that there’s been a terrible misunderstanding. I did not set the show in the recent past in order to show the pros how it should have been done. That was and remains the furthest thing from my mind. I set the show in the recent past because I didn’t want to make up fake news. It was going to be weird if the world that these people were living in did not in any way resemble the world that you were living in…Also, I wanted the option of having a terrific dynamic that you can get when the audience knows more than the characters do…So, I wasn’t trying to and I’m not capable of teaching a professional journalist a lesson. That wasn’t my intent and it’s never my intent to teach you a lesson or try to persuade you or anything.”

5. Mean Girls star Daniel Franzese writes moving coming out letter to his character Damian.” Franzese, who played openly gay Damian in the film, which came out 10 years ago this month, asked Indiewire to share his touching coming-out letter.

“I had the perfect opportunity in 2004 to let people know the REAL Daniel Franzese. Now in 2014—ten years later—looking back, it took YOU to teach me how to be proud of myself again. It’s okay if no one wants to sit at the table with the ’art freaks.’ Being a queer artist is one of my favorite things about myself. I have always been different and that’s rad. People have always asked if I was really gay? While my reps usually lied to protect me. My friends and family all knew the truth but now it’s time everyone does. Perhaps this will help someone else. I had to remind myself that my parents named me Daniel because it means ’God is my judge’ So, I’m not afraid anymore. Of Hollywood, the closet or mean girls. Thank you for that, Damian. (And Tina.) ”

Video of the Day: Stephen Colbert pays David Letterman a visit:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HNWNaU1Fg5U
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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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