1. “Christopher Lee dies at the age of 93.” The veteran actor was best known for roles including Dracula and Saruman in the Lord of the Rings franchise
“Sir Christopher Lee has died at the age of 93 after being hospitalised for respiratory problems and heart failure. The veteran actor, best known for a variety of films from Dracula to The Wicker Man through to the Lord of the Rings trilogy, passed away on Sunday morning at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital in London, according to sources. The decision to release the news days after was based on his wife’s desire to inform family members first. The couple had been married for over 50 years. As well as his career in film, Lee also released a series of heavy metal albums, including Charlemagne: The Omens of Death. He was knighted in 2009 for services to drama and charity and was awarded the Bafta fellowship in 2011.”
2. “In Robert Altman’s Nashville, every detail contributes to the big picture.” Over at The Dissolve, Andreas Stoehr on the priorities of Robert Altman’s masterpiece.
“As its bits and pieces accumulate, Nashville bustles like a Brueghel cityscape. The camera’s attention flits from one sector of the ensemble to another. Music-industry aristocrats like Haven and Connie congregate with their respective entourages at venues or at the Hamilton estate. Below them in the film’s hierarchy are hangers-on, journalists, and groupies, trying but failing to penetrate that elite circle. Some, like smug out-of-towner John Triplette (Michael Murphy), can roam where they like; he strikes bargain after bargain as he recruits talent for an upcoming political rally. Others, like the elderly Mr. Green (Keenan Wynn), get swept up with the rest of this mob only by proximity, since his wife is staying at the same hospital as ailing country superstar Barbara Jean (Ronee Blakley). As these characters navigate the shows and soirees that constitute a weekend in Nashville, their movements outline a teeming ecosystem of power and art.”
3. “Heroin, Too Close.” The heroin-addicted lovers of Heaven Knows What are wrapped up in an aggressive love that mimics their addiction.
“The Safdies’ genius involves their movies’ extreme symbiosis with performers. Just as the classic auteur seems to appear beside a projected film, just outside the image, as a virtual presence throughout, so the Safdies, at their best, invite their performers to leap out of the frame and stand beside them, behind the camera, transfiguring the brothers’—and the audience’s—view of them. Just as they employ [Ronald] Bronstein, a great director, as their actor, or screenwriter, or editor, and a vital personality such as [Arielle] Holmes, a non-actress, as their star, they turn themselves, as directors, into actors—they are great cinematic chameleons who take on the identity, while directing, of the participants in their film. That’s why their empathy seems so embracingly extreme and intense. The brothers turn the cinematic mirror around on itself, capturing the world as it feels to their characters, to their performers, to their collaborators.”
4. “Jurassic Dreams.” Armond White on how Chris Pratt haunts fanboy wet dreams in Spielberg’s dino franchise.
“Pratt himself is not to blame; his dark blond, sharp-nosed, blue-eyed type deserves its appeal but dramatic scenes opposite military contractor Vincent D’Onofrio exposes definite weaknesses. Pratt has muscle but the burly D’Onofrio has acting strength. Something’s unconvincing, half-parodistic, in Pratt’s bearing (he’s like a gainfully employed Matthew Rush but less stolid than Chris Hemsworth’s similarly imposing Thor). It’s easy to imagine Pratt providing one-note effectiveness in a Josef Von Sternberg silent erotic masterpiece, playing stevedore roles like George O’Brien in The Docks of New York or in Murnau’s Sunrise where a big man’s physical heft was erotically magnetizing and then drew one into his spiritual being.”
5. “Alanis in Chains.” The pressured pop career that led to Jagged Little Pill, which turns 20 years old today.
“It’s jarring to realize that the woman who would later ask her ex-lover if he was thinking about her when he fucked his new girlfriend was at one point too timid to fight for her own vanity plate. But Ottawa Sun reporter and Morissette biographer Paul Cantin thinks her age and inexperience shackled her. ’I think she was just surrounded by older people who knew what they were doing and she was a younger person and maybe wasn’t really comfortable asserting herself,’ he says. Andrea Warner thinks it was more than that. The writer behind We Oughta Know: How Four Women Ruled the ’90s and Changed Canadian Music believes Alanis’ silence was the typical response of a young woman surrounded by powerful men. ’Even if you feel like you have the capacity to say what you want, it’s different to feel like you have people listening to you and really hearing you,’ she says. ’If it’s a young girl wanting something, then it’s adorable and cute, but it doesn’t necessarily have merit.’”
Video of the Day: Zhang Yimou’s Coming Home gets its first U.S. trailer:
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