1. “The Essential Shorts.” Fandor’s Mike Plante selects 25 must-see short films from over a century of cinema.
“Let me start by recognizing how silly it would be to say a specific movie is ’the best film ever made.’ Studios made tons of classics every year for a hundred years, independents have been churning out work and breaking expectations for fifty years at least. And that’s just feature films. With shorts it’s even more difficult. There are so many you haven’t seen. Or more importantly, didn’t see the right way. So let’s talk about ’essential’ short films. If you haven’t seen many shorts, here is a roller-coaster sample of incredible work. More importantly, if you love short films, you need to see these. With little to lose and even less to spend, shorts can take risks. Think of all your favorite short stories or anecdotes from life—those can be just as insightful, powerful or as funny as a novel. Add invigorating style, whether its pushing expectations, or revitalizing a time-honored method.”
2. “Gaza Cease-Fire Collapses; Israeli Soldier Is Captured.” A newly agreed cease-fire in the Gaza conflict collapsed soon after it came into effect on Friday.
“’The cease-fire is over,’ Colonel Lerner said, adding that the military was carrying out ’extensive operations on the ground’ to try to locate the missing soldier. The Israeli military identified the missing soldier as Second Lt. Hadar Goldin, a 23-year-old officer in an infantry brigade. Moussa Abu Marzouk, a senior official in the political wing of Hamas, the Islamic group that dominates Gaza, told the Turkish news media that Hamas had taken a soldier captive but claimed the event took place before the cease-fire began.”
3. “Last century’s Batman films now look like blockbusters from another dimension.” A.A. Dowd on the alien feeling of yesteryear’s Batman movies.
“Just as Burton refined his take on the Bat the second time around, bringing it closer to the mad movie in his head, Schumacher used the roaring financial success of Batman Forever to buy trust in an even loonier adaptation. The director is said to have shouted, ’Remember people, this is a cartoon’ before takes on the set of Batman & Robin. It had the desired effect: The film boasts the look, feel, and elastic physical reality of particularly awful Saturday morning kiddie fare. Schumacher evidently wanted not just a cartoon, but also a dopey sex comedy, a treacly cancer drama, and yet another sidekick origin story (this one for Batgirl, played by a severely miscast Alicia Silverstone).”
4. “The Magic Is Gone: The Lazy Nihilism of Woody Allen.” Justin Chang on the Woodster’s latest.
“The Woody Allen who made Magic in the Moonlight, alas, is another matter entirely. Beautifully shot and lethally inert, the movie doesn’t just feel old-hat or out of touch; it’s world-weary to the point of exhaustion. Characters don’t interact so much as stand about rattling off plot points and moral positions, as if the effort required to actually dramatize something—as opposed to merely shoving it into the mouth of the nearest bystander—would cause the whole thing to collapse. Scene after scene seems to unfold in a static, airless limbo, hermetically sealed off from anything resembling lived-in human experience. When Stanley’s aunt (a delightful Eileen Atkins) is sidelined by a serious car accident, the entire incident takes place offscreen, a decision that feels more callously detached than I think Allen even begins to realize. He couldn’t be less invested in her suffering or her survival; she’s there merely to advance the plot and, more importantly, to score a philosophical point.”
5. “Katy Perry Almost Managed to Make an Inoffensive Video.” Katy Perry’s latest album has been out for ten months now, so naturally, it’s time for a new music video.
“The ’How We Do’ video features Perry, the world’s oldest 13 year-old, doing what she does best: bopping about to a jaunty pop beat in cuh-razy but sexy costumes while displaying cultural and racial insensitivity. To be fair, as far as Katy Perry videos go, this one is much lower on the problematic scale than usual. So maybe she’s learning? Katy Perry is almost able to make a vapid, fun music video without reverting to stereotypes or cutesy but distasteful references to other cultures.”
Video of the Day: The music video for Radiohead drummer Philip Selway’s “Coming Up for Air” reveals vintage movie tricks (h/t to Spin).
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