1. “Charles Champlin R.I.P.” The former Los Angeles Times arts editor and critic dies at 88.
“Charles Champlin, the former Los Angeles Times arts editor, film critic and columnist whose insightful, elegantly written reviews and columns informed and entertained readers for decades, died Sunday at his Los Angeles home. He was 88. The cause was complications of Alzheimer’s disease, said his son, Charles Champlin Jr. The Harvard-educated Champlin had worked 17 years at Life and Time magazines before joining The Times as entertainment editor and three-times-a-week columnist in 1965. During his 26 years at The Times, Champlin served as the paper’s principal film critic from 1967 through 1980. He then shifted to book reviewing and, with his ’Critic at Large’ column, offered a more general overview of the arts. He retired in 1991 but continued to contribute to The Times’ daily and Sunday Calendar sections and wrote two books despite becoming legally blind from age-related macular degeneration in 1999. In honor of his film coverage and criticism, Champlin received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2007.”
2. “Vice Is Hip.” For The New Inquiry, Jesse Baaron on how Inherent Vice evokes the possibility of a different California, one in which the hippies beat the cops.
“At first all the genre confusion has Phoenix seeming out of his depth. The audience, too, is slow to react when Brolin goes from solid to silly, sucking a chocolate-covered banana like it’s a dick. Then the chimera shuffles into its own loping rhythm, not committing to any one thing, and it’s clear that Anderson sees the story from more angles than Pynchon did. Less clear is the plot. Competing lifestyles—not story lines—inform the chaos, and I doubt I’ll spoil the mood by saying that Coy finds his way out of a neo-Nazi group and back to his no-longer-widow and child, as well as a new American Express card.”
3. “In the Gay Wing of L.A. Men’s Central Jail, It’s Not Shanks and Muggings But Hand-Sewn Gowns and Tears.” LA Weekly werks its way into the jail to reveal what could be the premise for a future Netflix series.
“MCJ’s gay wing was set up in response to a 1985 ACLU lawsuit, which aimed to protect homosexual inmates from a higher threat of physical violence than heterosexuals faced. But something unexpected has happened. The inmates are safer now, yes. But they’ve surprised everyone, perhaps even themselves, by setting up a small and flourishing society behind bars. Once released, some re-offend in order to be with an inmate they love. There are hatreds and occasionally even severe violence, but there is also friendship, community, love—and, especially, harmless rule-bending to dress up like models or decorate their bunks, often via devious means.”
4. “Singular and Plural.” Imogen Sara Smith on Jean Grémillon.
“A strange, dreamlike movie about a man torn between the worlds of idle wealth and proletarian freedom, Maldone forms a blueprint for Grémillon’s career, introducing the elements that would recur throughout his works. First, there are landscapes that exert a spellbinding influence on characters: here it is a flat, languid, summery countryside, dominated by big skies and the shimmering light of a canal. In later films it would often be the rocky, storm-swept coast of Brittany or the sea itself in its ever-changing, never-changing vastness. Second, there is a love of work, of the detailed processes of physical labor and machinery. Here, the camera follows grain passing through a threshing machine; elsewhere, it studies the gears and pistons of ships’ engine rooms, the construction machinery of a dam, the repetitive cycles of a printing press, the revolving lens of a lighthouse. Third, music and dance are continually present, embedded in the rhythms and structures of the films but also revealed as the beating heart of communal life.”
5. “The Price of Black Ambition.” For the Virginia Quarterly Review, Roxane Gay on her big break.
“At that same reading, I met a young man named Robert who also brought his mother. She began speaking to me in Creole so I responded in kind. They were Haitian and they were just so excited to meet another Haitian from the Midwest. The bookstore had sold out of my book by that point, but they wanted to meet me anyway. They apologized, as if they owed me something. Their presence at my reading was all I could ever ask for. I gave them my personal copy of the book and signed it. They asked if they could take a picture with me, and I kept thinking, May I be worthy of your respect. May I be worthy of our people’s history.”
Video of the Day: Kenneth Branagh’s Cinderella gets a trailer:
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