1. “20 Years Later: An Oral History of Reality Bites.” How an unassuming romantic comedy defined and defied a generation.
“It was February 18, 1994. Kurt Cobain was still with us, but the grunge revolution had already begun to morph into something more palatable: ’alternative.’ A generation labeled ’X’ was struggling to enter the work force amid a recession, that economic reality yielding ’slackers’ and ’sell-outs’ in equal measure—labels that would soon enough become little more than pop cultural shorthand. Ben Stiller’s Reality Bites had already premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January and an intense marketing campaign had the film aimed squarely at a target audience destined to deny it. It was an unassuming romantic comedy invested in its characters more than its setting, but it registered—rightly or wrongly—as an attempt to define a generation. Two decades on, it exists less as a snapshot of an era than an emotional Polaroid of what it’s like to go out and make your way in the world. On the occasion of the film’s 20th anniversary, HitFix talked to 10 individuals involved with the production of the film: stars Ethan Hawke, Winona Ryder, Janeane Garofalo and Steve Zahn; screenwriter Helen Childress; producers Michael Shamberg and Stacey Sher; cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki; and singer/songwriter Lisa Loeb. What follows is their recollection of how it all came to be.”
2. “A Conversation with Denis Lavant.” Adam Cook speaks with the iconic actor.
“One of the great performers in cinema in the past 30 years, the acrobatic, elastic, kinetic Denis Lavant has defined some of the best films from the world’s best filmmakers. Appropriately associated with the films of Leos Carax, in which he has appeared in 4 of 5 features (as well as a short), and one of the greatest endings in movies, the dance sequence of Claire Denis’ Beau travail, the stage and film actor is something of an idol of cinephiles, almost exclusively lending his talent to auteurs. Now, Lavant can add another master to his resume: Taiwanese master Tsai Ming-liang, with whom he made Journey to the West—which we’ve already covered in Notebook here and here—a film that again takes advantage of the actor’s physicality, but in a new way.”
3. “Weed Could Block H.I.V.’s Spread. No, Seriously.” But the U.S. government won’t let scientists try out this promising treatment on humans.
“The study itself was fairly simple. For 17 months, Dr. Molina and her team at Louisiana State University administered a high concentration of THC to 4-to-6-year-old male rhesus monkeys who were RIV-positive (a virus in chimps similar to HIV), twice daily. An examination of the tissue in their intestines before and after the chronic THC exposure revealed dramatic decreases in immune tissue damage in the stomach and a significant increase in the numbers of normal cells. Mirroring other studies that link marijuana to HIV, the study illustrates how THC works by targeting so-called ’CB2’ receptors in the brain. One of two known cannabinoid receptors activated by cannabinoids (terpenophenolic compounds present in Cannabis), the CB2 receptors manifest in cells connected with the immune system, such as the gastrointestinal tract and the spleen. Unlike CB1 receptors, which respond to the psychoactive qualities of THC (producing a feeling of ’high’), CB2 receptors react to the therapeutic aspects of THC—for example, reducing swelling and relieving pain.”
4. “The Liquid Sky Sequel Is Coming.” A Chat With The Director Of The Best Film About New York.
“A film like Liquid Sky, it’s consciously postmodern. That’s what people say now, it puts together a lot of different elements. They are consciously put there, and camp is just one of these elements. I wanted to put together all the myths of the time, and all the stylistic elements as well. And that’s why I was very impressed by New Wave. They were punks, but according to themselves they weren’t punks, because it was so stylistic and complicated, and people don’t usually understand it was complicated. It combined everything: the American 50’s, Kabuki, German styles. All of that was mixed together, but the people creating it probably did so unconsciously. But that style was the reflection of the complexity of the mentality of a new generation. So it’s not just camp—camp is one of many elements in the film. And that’s why it lives so long—a lot of camp films from that period, nobody remembers.”
5. “Bob Casale R.I.P.” The Devo Member Is Dead at 61.
“Bob Casale, an original member of Devo, has died. Casale died from ’conditions that lead to heart failure,’ according to a posting on the group’s official Facebook page. He was 61. Devo was founded in 1972 in Akron, Ohio by Casale’s brother, Gerald Casale, and Mark Mothersbaugh, and became one of the seminal bands of the classic New Wave era. Bob was often credited as ’Bob 2’, playing the rhythm guitar and keyboard, as well as sometimes serving as producer and engineer. (Guitarist Robert Mothersbaugh, brother of Mark, was ’Bob 1’.) He performed on Devo’s albums from 1978 debut Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo! to 2010’s Something for Everybody—including their 1980 hit ’Whip It’.”
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