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Links for the Day: The Pigeon King and the Ponzi Scheme That Shook Canada, Jerry Saltz on Björk MoMA Retro, Nathan Lee on Saint Laurent, Save the Bros, & More

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Links for the Day: The Pigeon King and the Ponzi Scheme That Shook Canada, Jerry Saltz on Björk MoMA Retro, Nathan Lee on Saint Laurent, Save the Bros, & More

1. “Birdman.” The pigeon king and the Ponzi scheme that shook Canada.

“There’s a temptation to dismiss farmers who were taken by Galbraith as ignorant or blinded by greed. But typically, their motivations were nuanced, their ambitions modest. Families dreamed of giving each child his or her own bedroom or keeping both spouses from having to take second jobs away from the family and the farm. ’We didn’t see dollar signs,’ one man told me. ’We saw more time together.’ And many, like the Bultses, did their due diligence only to find that watchdogs and regulators were unconcerned about Galbraith, even after a former Pigeon King employee says he warned Ontario’s Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs about the company in 2006. An Ohio couple who lost $250,000 (U.S.) described, in an affidavit, how they called half a dozen agricultural and law-enforcement agencies, as well as Better Business Bureaus in the United States and Canada, and turned up no red flags.”

2. “MoMA’s Björk Disaster.” Jerry Saltz is hardly impressed with the multihyphenate’s mid-career retrospective.

“I wanted to be surprised and proven wrong about the Björk show. Alas, I haven’t been. Housed in the museum’s atrium in a two-story, black-painted wooden-pavilion thing, you wind through lines (very, very long lines), reading handwritten lyrics in books encased in vitrines, hearing snippets of music, and then donning a headset that leads you through a 40-minute tour of the second floor, album by album. It’s a discombobulated mess. The spoken narrative, written by Icelandic poet Sjón and read by actor Margrét Vilhjálmsdóttir, is a pretty silly fable about a ’young girl’ who ventures into ’kingdoms.’ As you walk, signals tell the headset that you’ve moved on, and it begins playing the next chapter of the tale. All the while, video clips play here and there, and we look into alcoves containing some of the fantastic costumes and paraphernalia used in some of the music videos, including those wooly yak-creatures. The halls, where you will spend the vast bulk of your time, are lined with pictures from the albums. There is one pillow-laden theater that screens Björk’s music videos. In another, a ten-minute work commissioned by MoMA is displayed. Unfortunately, this work is not yet up to museum or gallery standards. Biesenbach is no idiot, but the show is ’sound and fury, signifying nothing.’ Even, I venture, for fans.”

3. “The Texture of Genius.” Clothes embody ideas in Bertrand Bonello’s Saint Laurent, a shifting look at the designer and his work.

“This is part of the method of Saint Laurent: to give us images that belong to history without reducing them to it, to present scenes from a life where the scenography assumes a life of its own. Bonello draws on a sort of richly sensual distancing effect that we might better term a dissolving. The film doesn’t dress up historical materials so much as grant them a momentary flowering or crystallization out of some more primary substratum of tone, texture, atmosphere, affect. It is one of those biopics engaged with creative genius, like Peter Watkins’s Edvard Munch or Maurice Pialat’s Van Gogh, whose integrity is wholly independent of its biographical dimension. Saint Laurent will certainly tell you things about the life and times of a famous fashion designer, but its ideal viewer is one who doesn’t know anything about Yves Saint Laurent, and its effect is to place every viewer in this situation.”

4. “Diary of a Porn Festival.” Fisting, a lesbian orgy and flying stop-motion penises were on show at NYC’s inaugural porn film festival.

“The last film of the programme is about two Berlin construction workers fucking during their nightshift. One of them emerges from a giant sandpit like the guy in Spider-Man 3, only much hornier. She gets vigorously fingered by her friend, which is the most explicit depiction of a ’traditional’ sex act that I’ve seen all day. Of course, this programme has put the word ’traditional’ into gallingly egocentric perspective. There’s an exhibitionist quality to it all, but the main appeal seems to be the contrast between the sensuality of the sex with the harshness of the environment in which it’s taking place.”

5. “Are This Season’s Diverse Shows Ushering in a New Era of Multicultural Television?” For Flavorwire, Pilot Viruet wonders why the success of these new programs didn’t happen sooner and what this success spells for the future of television.

“This season it became painfully clear that there is a severe disconnect between—largely white—TV executives and us minority audiences. The fact that there is surprise about Empire or Black-ish’s success is almost offensive; of course these are shows that we wanted and shows that we will watch—we just never had them before. The thirst for representation is so strong that often we will latch on to any program that promotes diversity, even if it’s not that great; Shonda Rhimes’ first show, Grey’s Anatomy, has lost its shine, but fans continue to tune in to the current, 11th season to see black, Latino, and Asian medical professionals portrayed on screen. We just happened to luck out in that the shows being touted this season are actually good.”

Video of the Day: This incredibly funny commercial by Organic Valley understands that bros must be saved, especially from themselves:

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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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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