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Links for the Day: Robin Thicke Admits to Wide-Scale Douchery, Two Thumbs Up for Leonard Maltin, Rape Culture in the Alaskan Wilderness, & More

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Links for the Day: Robin Thicke Admits to Wide-Scale Douchery, Two Thumbs Up for Leonard Maltin, Rape Culture in the Alaskan Wilderness, & More

1. “Robin Thicke Admits Drug Abuse, Lying to Media in Wild ’Blurred Lines’ Deposition (Exclusive).” Interrogated for allegedly ripping off Marvin Gaye, the singer attempts a rock ’n’ roll defense: “I didn’t do a single interview last year without being high”

“Thicke says he was just ’lucky enough to be in the room’ when [Pharrell] Williams wrote the song. Afterward, he gave interviews to outlets like Billboard where he repeated the false origin story surrounding ’Blurred Lines’ because he says he ’thought it would help sell records.’ But he also states he hardly remembers his specific media comments because he ’had a drug and alcohol problem for the year’ and ’didn’t do a sober interview.’ In fact, when he appeared on Oprah Winfrey’s show with his young son and talked about how weird it was to be in the midst of a legal battle with the family of a legendary soul singer who ’inspires almost half of my music,’ Thicke admits he was drunk and taking Norco—’which is like two Vicodin in one pill,’ he says.”

2. “Two Thumbs Up for Leonard Maltin.” The staff of RogerEbert.com talk about their own experiences with Maltin and his Guide. Below is Matt Zoller Setiz’s contribution.

“Not many people know this, but until about 1995, I was the Internet Movie Database. More accurately, in the dark years before the Internet became an easily accessible repository of all knowledge, I served the same function as the Internet Movie Database, via telephone, between the hours of 5 and 7 p.m. on weekdays. That was the window during which happy-hour drinkers would phone the offices of Dallas Observer, where I was employed as a staff writer and film critic from 1991-95, to settle bets about movies. ’What’s the name of that movie…with the guy…who’s wearing…the [expletive] hat?’ one might slur into the phone, whereupon I’d elicit as many additional bits of information as I could (character names, actor names, black and white or color) then reach for Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide or some other thick paperback and find the answer. Most of the people on the other end of the line didn’t seem to know that there was such a thing as a film reference guide, so they were awed by my seemingly limitless knowledge of who played what in which film released in what year. On days when I had heavy deadlines or didn’t feel like adjudicating the disputes of tipplers, I’d let the calls go to voicemail, sit there in my chair, and just read Maltin’s book for pleasure. Thanks, Leonard, for making me seem smarter than I was.”

3. “Travels in Poland and Israel, Between Old Wars and New.” Annette Insdorf on how festivals unveil continuities of Jewish identity.

“As I travel through Poland and Israel, watching, discussing and writing about films, I find myself tracing the continuities, as well as the tensions, of Jewish identity. The only child of Polish Holocaust survivors, I am returning to Poland for the first time in 25 years, exploring what Judaism means there now. My mother, who accompanied me the last time, is no longer alive, but I feel her presence especially in Krakow, her beloved native city. Unlike 1989, when the first free elections were ending decades of Communist rule, I sense a growing philo-Semitism: Younger Poles are expressing awareness of all that their country has lost—not only during the Holocaust, but also in the 1968 expulsion of Jews.”

4. “Tony Auth R.I.P.” The Pulitzer-winning cartoonist dies at 72.

“He was a witty whistle-blower in what he depicted as a complicated and often corrupt culture. Though he leaned left, he mocked politicians of both parties for bickering instead of confronting serious troubles, such as terrorists planning their next attack. He lamented gun violence and the failings of public education in Philadelphia. He depicted Wall Street as a pirate ship at sea firing volleys at a burning Main Street on land. He made clear his opposition to a Boy Scouts of America policy barring gay scoutmasters by showing a reluctant troop leader saying to young scouts, ’The national leadership, alas, has decided you should be helpful, friendly, courteous, kind and bigoted.’ Commenting on the immigration debate, he drew two plants at the edge of an unspoiled forest plotting to prevent a marine mammal from making a Darwinian journey to live on land. Mr. Auth won the Pulitzer for editorial cartooning in 1976, five years after he joined The Inquirer. One of the cartoons the Pulitzer committee cited showed the Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev standing in an American wheat field singing, ’O beautiful for spacious skies, for amber waves of grain,’ a jab at an unpopular agreement with the Soviet Union that raised the price of grain in the United States.”

5. “Rape Culture in the Alaskan Wilderness.” In the tight-knit communities of the far north, there are no roads, no police officers—and higher rates of sexual assault than anywhere else in the United States.

“The impact that Jane and her peers made at the conference seemed to launch a new era of transparency in Alaska about domestic and sexual violence; the media splash that followed drew a groundswell of support both for the 4-H youth and for recent state efforts to both document and prevent these crimes. But a few months later, when Erickson asked the kids if they thought their presentation had made a difference in Tanana, they all shrugged and made ’zero’ signs with their hands. Their stories had rocked the small community, too, but the fresh feeling ’didn’t really stick,’ Jane admits. ’It went back like the old way.’”

Video of the Day: Jonathan Glazer has made a Canon commercial:

https://vimeo.com/144614571
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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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