1. “An Auteur Is Not a Brand.” Richard Brody on why so many are piling on the idea of the auteur.
“That polemical side of auteurism is what fell away as the idea spread widely. Movies also have a role in civic life, and directors’ political ideas are inextricable from their worldviews (and careful viewing entails distinguishing the orthodoxies of a studio or a government from a director’s inflection of, or departure from, the official line). Yet politics and sociology have come to the fore again in the discussion of movies, for the very reason that auteurism has run rampant: the empiricism of critical discourse. Social trends and ideological casts are easy to talk about, as are the diverse traits of habit or style that render a formerly overlooked filmmaker distinguishable. But what makes a movie—and a filmmaker—great is something that veers toward the ineffable.”
2. “The Devils (and the Angels).” Bright Lights Film Journal’s Steve Johnson has sympathy for John Landis.
“Not dissimilarly, there are two phases to Landis’s career: before The Twilight Zone and after—meaning, mostly, after the trial. In the four years between the accident and his acquittal for the series of grave miscalculations and brash lapses in judgment that led to the three actors’ deaths, he produced some of the most classically structured and controlled features Hollywood was turning out at the time, his streak broken only after a second legal battle, over Art Buchwald’s origination of the story for Coming to America. It was as though, by then, all the money he had made for the studios was no longer worth the bother of litigating on his behalf, and his drift toward series television, documentaries and commercials had begun. The man for whom Trading Places actor Ralph Bellamy’s ’40s career trafficking between A and C pictures had been a revelation was soon to find himself unable to accommodate such an oscillation himself anymore. His later career became a mishmash it would be tempting to criticize for lack of focus but for one thing: its astonishingly consistent high standard of quality. On film, at least, the man could do no wrong.”
3. “Movies That Time Forgot.” Armond White on how Kevin Asch’s Affluenza is a welcome change from the summer’s contrived, dull offerings, like Boyhood.
“’Hipster Patriarchy’ might be a better title for Richard Linklater’s Boyhood. Depicting a white American male from childhood to adolescence, it celebrates the emblematic figure of American social power. Starting with youth’s inherent innocence and appeal, Linklater gives his protagonist, Mason (Ellar Coltrane), centrality in the passing parade of his Texas family (including a sister and divorced parents) and then, ultimately, confers importance upon Mason and his ’normalcy.’ Sure enough, the cultural media have responded on cue: Praising the deliberately mundane Boyhood fits the pattern unconsciously followed by most culture writers (who also tend to be white males) seeking to confirm their own privilege and importance—but without examining it. Some women and men of other races also worship this unscrutinized authority, which partly explains why Linklater’s lackluster filmmaking (from Suburbia, Before Sunrise, Before Sunset, and Before Midnight to School of Rock and the atrocious Bernie) almost always gets overrated.”
4. “Review: Richard Linklater’s Unique Masterpiece Boyhood Hits Hard and Deep.” Drew McWeeny wasn’t ready for what this one did to him.
“In some ways, Boyhood simply feels like part of an ongoing conversation that I’ve been having with my friends, my readers, and my family since the day my first son was born in 2005. He’s so grown-up right now that I’m starting to have genuine anxiety about what happens when he moves away. But then I think about the life changes he’s been through, and the life changes that are still to come in his immediate future, and I worry that he’s so young that I can still totally destroy him as a person. He’s got an enormous personality already, but I can see that he’s searching already for answers to larger questions, for some sense of defining identity. He’s at a vulnerable age, and I want nothing more than to shield him from any pain, any heartbreak…and I can’t. That’s impossible, and it’s not my job. Pain and heartbreak are two of the things that define us, and he’ll have his share, just like everyone else. All I can do is be there to help him try to make sense of it.”
5. “The Worst Move Ending Ever.” Tim Burton’s Planet of the Apes makes no goddamn sense.
“But is there, in fact, a coherent explanation of what actually takes place in Planet of the Apes’ final few minutes? The Internet certainly isn’t lacking in theories. Take, for example, this English language-challenged YouTube clip above, which argues that Davidson doesn’t crash-land on our earth, but—by passing through a time-space portal of some sort—arrives on an alternate-dimension earth. This is a common hypothesis found online (especially in message boards, such as here and here), thanks in large part to a few random clues, such as the ape planet Ashlar boasting multiple moons (hence, it’s not future earth, but an altogether different planet), and Thade’s father’s gun (which in the past was supposedly used to fight someone just like Wahlberg’s hero). Still, the film never overtly trades in parallel-universe suggestions, so the notion that Davidson has journeyed first from earth to some alternate alien world, and then back to an alternate earth, comes primarily out of the ether.”
Video of the Day: The restoration of Leos Carax’s Boy Meets Girl gets trailer:
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