1. ”True Story, The Jinx and Serving Up Truth With the Imagination.” A.O. Scott about that pervasive free-floating anxiety about stories that claim to be true, and when distortion becomes art.
“What is most interesting to me about Ms. [Janet] Malcolm’s defense of Mr. [Joseph] Mitchell is that she recasts what is commonly understood as an ethical boundary as an aesthetic distinction. Mr. Mitchell may have regarded himself as a journalist rather than a novelist—in any case The New Yorker classified his work as fact rather than fiction—but in Ms. Malcolm’s view his talent was artistic, and therefore beyond the kind of criticism that insists on literal accuracy. To put it another way: His genius resided in the brazenness and extremity of his violation of the rules of journalism. He was, as the review’s headline claims, ’The master writer of the city’ because he was also, to some degree, a master criminal.”
2. “I Killed the Movies.” At the Cinema: today, the movie business is the superhero business. Tom Shone blames the kids of the Seventies, like him.
“Today I look at the abundance of merchandise and movies aimed at kids like me with wonder and confusion, like Hiep Thi Le registering the vastness of an American supermarket in Oliver Stone’s Heaven and Earth. A form tilted towards underdogs has become the plaything of bullies—soft-power workouts for the couch-potato dauphins of the world’s last remaining military colossus. Today’s comic-book movies are dreams of power with their roots in weakling wish fulfilment all but eliminated: the civilian alter-egos of the Avengers and the X-Men barely get a look-in, while the mortals with whom they once enjoyed romantic dalliances are similarly banished from the summer’s high-impact smasheroos and demolition derbies. The form has entered its decadent phase of superhero-on-superhero violence and synergistic mash-up. These guys mix only with other superheroes, like a-list celebrities, or royals.”
3. “Innerspace.” Eric Hynes, for Reverse Shot, on the Miami Vice universe.
“Moby’s ’One of These Mornings’ is introduced quietly while they’re on land, but once they’re in the boat it dominates. There’s a shot from the driver’s side, then from the passenger side, and eventually there’s an array of cubistically arranged helicopter shots while sampled singer Patti LaBelle’s It won’t be long transports us, and them, into a faraway, self-contained, temporary space. In a departure from the pilot’s sequence, we’re in a headspace built for two, in which both characters’ emotions are accounted for and explored. Buoyed by the feature length, Mann extends things beyond a single tune while maintaining a song-scored interiority. On land the Moby song yields to diegetic salsa music as they briefly court on the dance floor, which is conspicuously overtaken by Audioslave’s ’Wide Awake,’ which scores the innerspace of their subsequent, strikingly impassioned lovemaking. (The sound mix is so conspicuous as to be physically present—as if we were viewing the levels being toggled on a studio board behind Farrell and Li—and recalls the bumpy camera clung to the Ferrari, the manipulation only enhancing the magic). Throughout, Mann makes hay with the wide frame, but the trajectory of the sequence is toward two bodies coming together at the center of the frame. The intimacy of this sojourn—which of course ends, along with the wallpapered song score, once they return to the States—is in direct contrast to the rest of the film’s exploration of negative space, color-coded vistas, and impositions of light, urbanity, and digitized noise onto isolated characters.”
4. “Inside Morocco’s Campaign to Influence Hillary Clinton and Other U.S. Leaders.” Documents suggest that the Moroccan government has long sought to influence the Clinton family over U.S.-Morocco relations.
“The DOJ filings and Moroccan leaks help flesh out the story of how a strategically important Arab nation — one that’s been widely denounced for holding one of the last remaining colonial territories in the world — has sought to influence U.S. politics in general and Clinton in particular. Clinton, who has called Morocco ’a leader and a model,’ saw her and her family’s relationship with the nation burst into the national consciousness earlier this month when Politico reported that the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation would accept more than $1 million in funding from a company controlled by Moroccan King Mohammed VI to host a foundation event in Marrakech on May 5-7. Other foreign contributions to the foundation have also generated controversy, but none as intensely as the Morocco gift.”
5. “It’s Not Done.” For Slate, Leslie Jamison wonders why she watched It Follows twice. What was she seeking in the feeling of fear?
“What’s the real terror of It Follows? It’s certainly the terror of the chronic, but it’s also the horror of chronic indifference, the creature that doesn’t display emotion or remorse or even react. It never panics or gets frustrated. It just gets the job done, and walks on. There’s nothing you can do that will make it do anything different than what it’s doing. What the fuck do you want? Jay screams at the naked woman from her wheelchair. Its desire is relentless and sourceless and inexplicable.”
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