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Links for the Day: What All Is By My Side Gets Wrong About Jimi Hendrix, The Modern Campus Cannot Comprehend Evil, Inherent Vice Trailer, & More

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Links for the Day: What All Is By My Side Gets Wrong About Jimi Hendrix, The Modern Campus Cannot Comprehend Evil, Inherent Vice Trailer, & More

1. “What All Is By My Side Gets Wrong About Hendrix.” Glenn Kenny on what the film asks us to take in faith.

“Am I doing some musicological nit-picking here? I sure am. But that’s because without that, one is likely to come up with an unappealing caricature of Hendrix, and that’s what Jimi: All Is By My Side finally amounts to. The movie, which does not credit [Charles] Cross’s biography as a source, uses (and changes, or arguably distorts) many of the anecdotes therein, including one in which an enraged Hendrix physically attacks Etchingham with a telephone receiver. In Cross’s book, the event is depicted as highly uncharacteristic. While an accomplished traveler in psychedelics, Hendrix simply couldn’t handle liquor. ’Any aggression he displayed was usually linked to excessive drinking…his quick temper…seemed in such contrast to his normally polite manner.’ Hendrix’s traumatic childhood (into which Cross’ biography digs deep), combined with the permissive mien of his time and environment, not to mention his vocation, led to not-unpredictable problems with intimacy and personal commitment. But as depicted in Jimi: All Is By My Side, all of these considerations are compressed so as to create a bald and distasteful picture of a Violent Black Man With Woman Problems. In another scene, Etchingham whinges about wanting to go out and have fun while Hendrix, the windows of his apartment papered over to enhance his desired isolation, stares vegetatively at a television. This is supposed to be someone whose command of his instrument extended forwards, backwards, upside-down and sideways over every millimeter of the fretboard and beyond, who is always depicted by friends and colleagues as never not having a guitar within arm’s reach.”

2. “This Endanger’d Isle.” For the Los Angeles Review of Books, Amy Wilentz on Ian McEwan’s The Children Act.

“Well, you can’t start a book with the one-word sentence ’London.’ and not have it be about London (which means England). That’s what Dickens was writing about and that’s what McEwan is writing about. In part, McEwan opens with the echo to show how much the England of Dickens has changed. Fiona Maye, McEwan’s protagonist, is a family division judge who decides matters of custody as well as child welfare. She’s an authoritative woman, a figure who does not exist in the judicial world of the Dickens novel. Things are rather cut and dried now in the Inns of Court, McEwan shows us. There are no mad women ranting in the courtrooms, no rag and bottle dealers across the way. And no fan of gin goes up in flames caused by spontaneous combustion. No, in this new world, eccentricity has been rubbed flat, and the law shows a regard for numbers and an adherence to a kind of strict, dry, but efficient code that it did not in Jarndyce v Jarndyce, the infamous, corrupt, multigenerational inheritance case that, in Bleak House, strews misery and death in its wake. As McEwan writes of his judge: ’She believed she brought reasonableness to hopeless situations.’ In Bleak House, the legal community brings hopelessness to reasonable situations.”

3. “Land of La La.” Jeff Reichert on David Cronenberg’s Maps to the Stars.

“Let us assume for an instant that perhaps Cronenberg is fully aware his satire is stale, that his critique of contemporary Hollywood lacks trenchancy. So what, then is Maps to the Stars up to? Is it an honest portrait of a family laid low by Hollywood’s dream machine? As we learn more about the Weiss clan, a core incestuous relationship that has defined the family’s present is revealed. As well, when Benjie and Agatha are finally reunited, there’s a queasily palpable erotic tension between the pair—before their separation, they once played a game where they pretended to wed, and Agatha seems insistent on picking things up where they left off. Is Maps, then, a modern-day stab at Sophoclean tragedy? Paul Elard’s poem ’Liberté’ (once airdropped by the thousands over occupied WWII Paris) is read by various characters throughout—is the film, then, an anguished cry against a system that totalizes and destroys lives in the process of creating entertainment for others? Is Cronenberg telegraphing an allegiance to Billy Wilder that his body of work thus far has never suggested?”

4. “Steven Soderbergh Is Doing Some Next-Level Work on The Knick.” Matt Zoller Seitz takes a moment to appreciate what we’re watching when we watch The Knick.

“When we see shots of African-Americans being battered by a white mob, the camera tracks the action laterally through a chain-link fence in the foreground. The fence creates a kind of ’scrim’ effect: You see the gist of the horror, but not every detail. The fence bit consists of three acts of violence that last about 12 seconds total, but they’re so ugly that 12 seconds is all Soderbergh needs to get the point across. Even the most prolonged moments of savagery, such as a fight in a hospital hallway and a scene of a prone man being kicked, are shot so as to obscure the bloody details. I wouldn’t call this approach ’tasteful,’ exactly. There’s a touch of the documentary to it; it’s journalistic, perhaps cold. It’s unflinching, but not exploitive. It feels right.”

5. “Camille Paglia: The Modern Campus Cannot Comprehend Evil.” Young women today do not understand the fragility of civilization and the constant nearness of savage nature.

“There is a ritualistic symbolism at work in sex crime that most women do not grasp and therefore cannot arm themselves against. It is well-established that the visual faculties play a bigger role in male sexuality, which accounts for the greater male interest in pornography. The sexual stalker, who is often an alienated loser consumed with his own failures, is motivated by an atavistic hunting reflex. He is called a predator precisely because he turns his victims into prey. Sex crime springs from fantasy, hallucination, delusion, and obsession. A random young woman becomes the scapegoat for a regressive rage against female sexual power: ’You made me do this.’ Academic clichés about the ’commodification’ of women under capitalism make little sense here: It is women’s superior biological status as magical life-creator that is profaned and annihilated by the barbarism of sex crime.”

Video of the Day: Paul Thomas Anderson’s Inherent Vice gets a trailer:

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 actress Sharon Tate, 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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