1. “20 Essential K-Pop Songs.” The following Pitchfork list offers a modest introduction to the hugely saleable genius some of the world’s best songwriters, producers, and performers can achieve when working in close cooperation.
“As the lead single for a blockbuster K-pop album, ’Rum Pum Pum Pum’ came shrinkwrapped in a blindingly bright music video. And its performances on Korea’s half dozen ’Top of the Pops’-style battle shows—an exhaustive gauntlet all acts must pass to credibly promote a single—were all tightly choreographed, schoolgirl uniformed cheers. While these common tropes and marketing tactics often signify trivial music in Western pop, a peek beneath the surface of this track reveals a remarkable feat of songwriting. While retaining the familiar structure of a pop banger, ’Rum Pum’ makes unlikely esperanto of Middle Eastern funk guitar, clangorous samba polyrhythms, the Yuletide classic ’The Little Drummer Boy’, exactly one bar of flamenco tap dance, and the ad-libbing knock of mid-aughts Timbaland. Then there’s the jazz technique of brushing circles around the beat during the bridge, about the most counterintuitive move one can make in a commercial medium where an explicitly stated beat is fundamental. The lyrics are equally intrepid, exploiting a bit of wordplay in Korean to make a love song all about wisdom teeth: ’What to do? You probably expected one/ Who grew up straight/ But I’ll be crooked and torture you/ I’m not easy!’ Virtually every moment of the song features a compositional quirk worthy of scrutiny.”
2. “Screen Voices, Banished but Not Silenced.” J. Hoberman on Thom Andersen and Noël Burch’s Red Hollywood and the three-part “Screenwriters and the Blacklist: Before, During and After” at Anthology Film Archives.
“The story of Hollywood leftists is a generational one. The movie industry’s Communists and their sympathizers were largely products of the Great Depression. Their activism was rooted in the 1930s creation of the Screen Writers Guild and channeled by the Hollywood Anti-Nazi League. They were united behind Roosevelt in the 1944 election and, along with their faith in a socialist future, shared a utopian belief in movies as popular art and a force for change. Analyzing the work of blacklisted artists (some of whom would sell scripts through proxies called ’fronts’), the documentary Red Hollywood provides an alternative way of looking at classic Hollywood, or even a new form of auteurism. It’s no coincidence that French cineastes were among the first to draw attention to the work of the Communist directors Joseph Losey and Abraham Polonsky, featured in both series, who, even into the early 1950s, made downbeat, politically aware crime movies that Mr. Andersen calls ’film gris.’ Cy Endfield is another director, with two movies in the Lincoln Center series, re-evaluated in good measure because he was blacklisted. “
3. “Worldview Woes Take Amazon Cannibal Tale Green Inferno Off Menu.” Deadline is reporting that the Eli Roth film may or may not be coming to a theater near you.
“Green Inferno, the Eli Roth-directed film about student activists who travel from Gotham to save the Amazon rainforest only to be pursued by a cannibal tribe, has been taken off Open Road’s release calendar. The film was scheduled for wide release on September 5. ’’m told this happened because financier Worldview Entertainment is balking at ex-CEO Christopher Woodrow’s commitment to provide the P&A. Since this is Roth’s first directorial outing in six years and his budget conscious fright fare almost always scares up profits, this is almost as shocking as the subject matter and also a tasty bit of dish. I’ve confirmed from Open Road that the release date is scratched, though the distributor won’t comment further, including whether there will be a later release date or if this goes straight to video. Worldview has been going through a restructure since the abrupt and largely unexplained exit of CEO Woodrow, which Deadline revealed last June.”
4. ”Los Jets leads a wave of shows about Latinos in the United States.” The Washington Post’s Alyssa Rosenberg on Lost Jets and TV networks courting Latino audiences.
“Los Jets is an earnest argument that immigrants and the communities that receive them truly want the same things. A parent weeps at his son’s piety and college aspirations. A struggling student sees his grades slip, breaks up with his girlfriend and is benched for a crucial game. [Paul] Cuadros counsels his players to hold themselves to a higher standard of behavior, telling them before a game that ’People chop at you, brush it off. If it’s not fair, brush it off. I think people thought that when the [poultry] industry would go, the [immigrants] would go too,’ Cuadros said, explaining that the shift in Siler City’s population appears to be permanent. ’[But] other families have stayed. They like the community. It’s a wonderful, small rural community. It’s the place where Aunt Bee from Mayberry [the fictional setting for ’The Andy Griffith Show’ and ’Mayberry R.F.D.’] retired.’”
5. “Armed Animals Don’t Invent Themselves.” David Itzkoff on Guardians of the Galazy’s character creators fighting for cash and credit.
“Like millions of moviegoers over the weekend, Bill Mantlo watched Guardians of the Galaxy, the Marvel Studios space adventure that sold more than $172 million in tickets worldwide in its first four days of release. The film’s success is particularly meaningful to Mr. Mantlo, 62, a comic-book writer who helped create one of the movie’s main characters: the foul-tempered, gun-wielding anthropomorphic Rocket Raccoon. Mr. Mantlo did not see Guardians of the Galaxy in a theater, but in his bed at the nursing home where he is being cared for after a 1992 accident in which he was hit by a car and left with brain damage. Michael Mantlo, his brother, said Bill owed his health partly to Medicaid and partly to the grass-roots efforts of comics fans, who not only made donations on his behalf but also brought attention to his involvement in creating a character whose value to Marvel had suddenly mushroomed.”
Video of the Day: Robert Downey talks with Elliott Gould for The Talkhouse about Altman, aging, Beatty, baseball, Coppola, Groucho, marriage, and more:
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