1. ”Angels in America: The Complete Oral History.” How Tony Kushner’s play became the defining work of American art of the past 25 years.
“Twenty-five years ago this summer, Tony Kushner’s Angels in America premiered in the tiny Eureka Theatre in San Francisco’s Mission District. Within two years it had won the Pulitzer Prize and begun a New York run that would dominate the Tony Awards two years in a row, revitalize the nonmusical play on Broadway, and change the way gay lives were represented in pop culture. Both parts of Angels, Millennium Approaches and Perestroika, put gay men at the center of American politics, history, and mythology at a time when they were marginalized by the culture at large and dying in waves. It launched the careers of remarkable actors and directors, not to mention the fiercely ambitious firebrand from Louisiana who wrote it—and rewrote it, and rewrote it, and rewrote it again. Its 2003 HBO adaptation was itself a masterpiece that won more Emmys than Roots. But the play also financially wiped out the theater that premiered it; it endured casting and production tumult at every stage of development, from Los Angeles to London to Broadway; its ambitious, sprawling two-part structure tested the endurance of players, technicians, and audiences. Slate talked to more than 50 actors, directors, playwrights, and critics to tell the story of Angels’ turbulent ascension into the pantheon of great American storytelling—and to discuss the legacy of a play that feels, in an era in which gay Americans have the right to marry but still in many ways live under siege, as crucial as ever.”
2. “Donald Trump Versus the ‘Haters.’” For The New York Times, Wesley Morris grapples with Trump’s recent usage of “hater.”
“It’s the underside of ‘hateration’ that Trump’s campaign exploits: the seething resentments of people—particularly white people—who feel disenfranchised, silenced and oppressed. The populism contains a paradox: He embodies what he mocks. His tweets chastise ‘haters and losers.’ But he himself has hated on Mexicans, Muslims, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, establishment Republicans, Megyn Kelly and the American news media, pitting his constituent ‘us’ against them. With him, ‘hater’ is a term of compound narcissism: It’s persecuting and persecuted, wronged and righting, both sword and shield. He’s at once the hater, the player and the game.”
3. “I Hate The Devil Wears Prada Even More Today Than I Did 10 Years Ago.” The film has been the subject of much celebration. Here’s why Stephanie Zacharek isn’t joining.
“But even though The Devil Wears Prada is set at a fashion magazine, and hits hard at the foibles of fashion people, it isn’t really a fashion movie—if anything, it’s a movie that hates fashion. Over and over again, Andy laments that what she really wants to be is a journalist—the subtext, so hamfisted it barely qualifies as a subtext—is that she’s too good for fashion, with all its idiocy and frivolity. Streep’s Priestly has the movie’s smartest line—one that the film, ultimately, betrays. Surveying one of Andy’s impossibly dowdy, pre-makeover work outfits, she says, in a cool and level voice, ‘You’re trying to tell the world that you take yourself too seriously to care what you put on your back.’”
4. “Why TV Shows Are Darker Than They’ve Ever Been.” Just because something appears to be low-light doesn’t necessarily mean it was shot that way. Slate‘s Matthew Dessem explains it all.
“The look of television that we’re all familiar with—brightly lit, easy to read, low contrast—was invented, more or less, by Metropolis cinematographer Karl Freund in the fall of 1951 for I Love Lucy. Lucile Ball and Desi Arnaz wanted a live studio audience but also wanted to shoot on film, which would normally have been too time-consuming to keep an audience in high enough spirits to laugh. As he explained in a 1952 interview with American Cinematographer, Freund devised a way to light the set so that multiple 35mm cameras could shoot at once, moving freely without spoiling the lighting. He further modified things to allow for a transfer from film to television that would accommodate the technical peculiarities of the new medium: The equipment that was available back then unavoidably exaggerated contrast, so the original photography had to be done with as little contrast as possible.”
5. “The Best Actor on TV is Mr. Robot‘s Rami Malek.” For The Vutlure, Matt Zoller Seitz states his case.
“This is the sort of assignment that might earn kudos for an A-for-effort actor, who can juggle all of the hero’s aspects without making obvious slip-ups. It’s easy to imagine someone playing Elliot a bit too cute and likable, or else underplaying to the point of near-catatonia. But Malek goes much further, working with series creator Sam Esmail, the show’s directors and cinematographers, and his co-stars with keen intelligence and economy of gesture, acting with the filmmaking instead of adjacent to it, as only a true screen actor can. His castmates’ efforts seem more intense and believable because Malek is there as our guide, taking every preposterous scenario seriously, wryly noting absurdity with his eyes and body as well as his dialogue and voice-over, creating the subtlest, deepest lead male performance on TV—an electrical field that seems to be powering every other element, as if the actor were the socket that Mr. Robot had chosen to plug itself into.”
Video of the Day: Terrence Malick’s Voyage of Time gets a trailer:
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