1. “The 50 Greatest Summer Blockbusters.” Part one of The Dissolve’s ode to the biggest films Hollywood has offered us across the summer months.
“For our list of the 50 Greatest Summer Blockbusters, we decided to be strict in some ways and lax in others. Only films released in the United States between May 1 and August 31 qualified. That eliminated a lot of films that might have landed on a list of best blockbusters, including the Lord Of The Rings films (all winter releases) and The Matrix (released March 31, 1999). (In fact, only The Matrix Reloaded qualifies for consideration. Spoiler: It did not make the list.) Beyond that, however, we left it open, meaning films with laser canons and exploding Escalades qualified, but so did animated movies, comedies, and any other sort of film released during summer months. We let the calendar define what it meant to be a summer movie, but let our panel of 12 critics define what made a film a blockbuster, narrowing it down from 655 contenders over the course of three rounds of voting. The process yielded a diverse bunch of movies starting with a comedy about a man discovering love late in life, and ending with… Well, we’ll get to that.”
2. “Emily Gould, Literary Narcissism, and the Middling Millennials.” Edward Champion tears into the Friendship author.
“The Middling Millennials are hostile to nonfiction, history, politics, and any topic that is real or remotely challenging. They have been harming the literary clime with their relentless pablum for at least a good year, actively encouraged by hoary outlets like n+1, The Awl, The Nervous Breakdown, The Rumpus, and The Millions, all quietly hoping that this confluence of cheerleading and seductive reductionism will enlarge their cultural influence. While the actual population of Middling Millennials is difficult to measure (MFA vs. NYC, a volume published earlier this year by n+1, was allegedly substantive enough to attract the notice of The New Republic, The New York Times, and other outlets), the quality of the MM arguments are, on the whole, remarkably pauce—with thinking deracinated altogether, swapped with a fawning devotion more at home in a San Diego entrepôt.”
3. “How Do You Think It Feels.” Glenn Kenny reads Champion’s rant and comes clean.
“For quite some time I thought that being a colossal prick on the Internet was great sport. I thought that everybody else was doing it, and that I could do it better than most. I also had some idea that it was my duty to call bullshit on everyone who I thought was propagating bullshit. I thought this was a form of criticism that was just as valid as anything I would do in long form. It was perhaps even more valid, because blog posts and Internet comments and Tweets are How We Communicate Now, and if I could expose the frauds and mediocrities surrounding me, and all of us (by ’us’ I meant ’other people I deigned to approve of’), then I was performing a valuable truth-telling service.”
4. “What Mise-en-scène Is and Why It Matters.” A.D. Jameson explains it all.
“This is why mise-en-scène isn’t really a production term— as [Alexandre] Astruc had already noted by 1959, it’s not something that filmmakers talk about when they’re shooting (267). Instead, it’s a critic’s term, referring to the content of shots that appear in the finished film. And since it refers to the content of the shot, then it also must refer to camera movements, since panning and tracking changes the shot’s content. (The famous long take in Goodfellas that follows Henry Hill and his date as they enter the Copacabana via the kitchen features more than one setting, as well as numerous actors, props, costumes, and so on.)”
5. “Review: Transformers: Age of Extinction.” Kevin B. Lee on Michael Bay’s latest.
“It’s in the film’s half-hour climactic battle in Hong Kong that Bay’s visuals allow the viewer to occupy the frame, as the action threads the narrow gaps between the city’s high-rises. The strong verticality building facades and stairways suggests a very, very expensive update to classic Hong Kong action cinema, the kind that thrived before the colony’s handover to mainland China. The political anxiety of the local HK population expressed in those films are here replaced by more global contentions. At one point Chinese government officials heroically vow ’to protect Hong Kong at all costs’ an assertion of dominion that seems conspicuous within a Hollywood film (especially given how darkly the U.S. government is depicted)—until one considers that this is a Chinese co-production aimed at that nation’s booming box office. Hence we have shots of Mark Wahlberg holding a Chinese brand-name protein powder, Stanley Tucci drinking Shuhua milk, and a whopping 30 screen minutes featuring Chinese actress Li Bingbing (though she’s given little to do beyond sipping her branded Chinese bottled water and making eyes at Tucci).”
Video of the Day: You’ll have Jefferson Starship in your head all day after watching the official trailer for The Skeleton Twins:
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 firstname.lastname@example.org and to converse in the comments section.