1. “The First Oscar Lock of the Year Is Here (It’s Not What You Think It Is).” If only all Oscar punditry was as well written as this.
“So much for why the film isn’t necessarily fated to lose. But explaining how it could go all the way connects to more delicate aspects of Hollywood, and Academy, psychology. And here’s where Boyhood becomes a special case: More than almost any movie I can think of, the emotional and fascinating story of how it was made is practically part of its plot; it doesn’t need to be sold as a campaign talking point because it’s manifest in every frame. I imagine that most people who have seen the film can figure out for themselves that its conceiver-writer-director, Richard Linklater, shot it intermittently over 12 years, starting when its star, Ellar Coltrane, was 6 or 7 and reuniting him with Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette for a few days every year in Texas until he was 18. One of the most popular and durable of all Oscar narratives is the Passion Project—the story or screenplay or property I toiled away on (or the career choice I stuck with) for years and years in the face of opposition, underminers, or general indifference to my fervent belief that it/I could be something. (Anytime you hear, in an acceptance speech, ’What a journey this has been!’ you’re hearing that narrative.) Boyhood has completely commandeered that trope this year; it doesn’t matter how long anybody wanted to make Into the Woods (a long time!) or Foxcatcher (a pretty long time!) or Inherent Vice (not that long!), because no other 2014 movie—in fact, no nondocumentary movie in history—has taken ’What a journey this has been!’ and so visibly literalized it.”
2. “How to See Ben Affleck’s Penis in Gone Girl.” A funny step-by-step guide by Vulture’s Kyle Buchanan.
“The camera will start a parabolic dive-swoop towards the disrobing Affleck as he pulls off the below-the-waist garments that have previously restricted your visual access to his nethers. You will experience a brief moment of panic and may even find yourself murmuring, ’Wait, the camera is rising all of a sudden, am I even gonna see his ass? This movie ticket was $15 and I might not even see a famous person’s ass! Goddammit, Julie!’ (Assuming your date’s name is Julie.)”
3. “Darwin, Dar-lose: The Genius of Idiocracy.” A porn-star POTUS and a blockbuster film called Ass: our latest “Be Kind, Rewind” looks at the smartest stupid movie ever made.
“This is [Mike] Judge’s vision of the future—a landscape of staggering vulgarity and franchising run amuck, where Carl’s Jr. can take your kids if you can’t pay for their ’big-ass fries,’ consumers eat tubs of butter while watching the Masturbation Channel and the President is a porn star/five-time TV wrestling champion. As he mentions in the interview below (jump to the 27-and-a-half mark), Judge was in line at Disneyland with his family when two women, each with kids in strollers, started screaming obscenities at each other. ’I [started] thinking, what if the movie 2001, instead of the monolith and everything being pristine and advanced…what if it was The Jerry Springer Show and giant WalMarts?’ With basic human intelligence now bred out of existence, the profoundly stupid have inherited the earth and they’ve turned it into both a giant, poorly run superstore and an Orwellian dystopia sponsored by Olive Garden.”
4. “Laughing Screaming.” Nick Pinkerton on The King of Comedy.
“Rita, whom he discovers working as a bartender, and she is played by Diahnne Abbott, also the woman behind the porno-theater concessions counter who Bickle tries in vain to hit on in Taxi Driver. (And, at the time, De Niro’s wife.) In The King of Comedy, however, the camera never looks away from the protagonist’s failures—even when (quite frequently) we wish it would. Its sights are fixed on a deeply discomfiting performance. Even when in intimate situations, such as his first date with Rita, Pupkin is incapable of human interaction on a person-to-person scale. His broad gestures are meant to register with the back row of a studio audience. Contrary to Jerry’s earlier advice about the importance of a relaxed delivery, Pupkin doesn’t deliver his punchlines so much as pounce on them. When he gives his ’Every king needs a queen’ proposal to Rita, he isn’t speaking to her but to an invisible camera just behind her, and to a nonexistent army of armchair spectators beyond it. The more complicated entanglements of sex seem to be lost on Pupkin entirely: he escapes into a dream of being married to Rita on live national television—in the presence of Dr. Joyce Brothers, naturally—but when their real date comes to an end, he leaves her with a chaste kiss on the cheek and the dorky admonition ’Go to sleep right away!’”
5. “Caribou.” The man behind psychedelic electronic act Caribou, Dan Snaith, talks about the music of his life: loving Canadian synth-pop as a kid, exploring the outer reaches of jazz, and discovering the creative link between math and music.
“My friends in high school were a cross-section of stoner guys who listened to Pink Floyd and Grateful Dead and stoner guys who listened to Dinosaur Jr. and Sonic Youth. I begrudgingly started playing keyboards in a band called Kaptain Hairdo with a friend of mine, who’s actually the guitarist in Caribou now. We played stuff like Dinosaur Jr., Redd Kross, and Eric’s Trip—I hated that music at the time, but I just wanted to be in a band. We practiced every weekend because it was a good excuse to hang out and smoke—well, I wasn’t smoking joints, but the other people in the band were. But then we would get onstage and everything would go totally wrong. We’d play once a year at the school’s battle of the bands, and all the Grateful Dead and Metallica dudes would be like, ’That was the worst shit I’ve ever heard, get the fuck out of here!’ [laughs] I was doing other musical things, too: the school band, piano lessons, playing instruments all the time. I was already being taken over by music. “
Video of the Day: The trailer for Taken 3:
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 email@example.com and to converse in the comments section.