1. “Critics Choice Awards 2014: Gravity wins record seven awards; 12 Years a Slave named Best Picture.” Cate Blanchett, Matthew McConaughey, Jared Leto, Sandra Bullock, Amy Adams, Lupita Nyong’o and Leonardo DiCaprio continue awards season run.
“Gravity soared with a record-setting seven Critics’ Choice Awards, but 12 Years a Slave was named best picture. The Broadcast Film Critics Association presented its annual awards Thursday in Santa Monica, Calif., honoring many movies that earned Oscar nominations just hours earlier. Awards for Gravity included best actress for Sandra Bullock, best director for Alfonso Cuaron and best sci-fi movie. American Hustle won four prizes, including best comedy, best acting ensemble and best actress in a comedy for Amy Adams. 12 Years a Slave collected two other awards besides best picture: best supporting actress for Lupita Nyong’o and best adapted screenplay. Other winners Thursday included Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto for Dallas Buyers Club and Cate Blanchett for Blue Jasmine.”
2. “The 5 Best Punctuation Marks in Literature.” Kathryn Schulz obsesses over punctuation marks.
“I was reminded of the existence of this canon last month, while rereading Middlemarch, which contains what might be the most celebrated use of an em-dash in the history of fiction. That sent me to my bookshelves in search of other examples of remarkable punctuation. I wanted specific instances, so I ignored the slightly different category of books or authors closely associated with a given kind of punctuation. (Celine and his ellipses, say, or Emily Dickinson and her famous dashes.) Some forms of punctuation seem less marked out for fame than others; if anyone knows of a noteworthy comma, I’d love to hear about it. But what follows is a—well, what follows is a colon, which sets off a list, which contains the most extraordinary examples I could find of the most humble elements of prose:”
3. “Russell Johnson, Professor on Gilligan’s Island, Dies at 89.” His character, Roy Hinkley, was known simply as the Professor.
“Russell Johnson, an actor who made a living by often playing villains in westerns until he was cast as the Professor, the brains of a bunch of sweetly clueless, self-involved, hopelessly naïve island castaways, on the hit sitcom Gilligan’s Island, died on Thursday at his home in Bainbridge Island, Wash. He was 89. His agent, Michael Eisenstadt, confirmed the death. Gilligan’s Island, which was seen on CBS from 1964 to 1967 and still lives on in reruns, starred Bob Denver as Gilligan, the witless first mate of the S.S. Minnow, a small touring boat that runs aground on an uncharted island after a storm.”
4. ”The Color Wheel: Confronting the Modern Condition.” One of the most significant American films of the last decade offers a cure for “irony fatigue.”
“This sensibility strikes me as uniquely equipped to contend with [David Foster] Wallace’s irony fatigue as well as its noxious counter-influence. It acknowledges, importantly, that popular culture is too far gone to embrace in absolute earnest, but it nevertheless remains optimistic that something more than dead-end irony and cynicism can be reached. The Color Wheel offers an emotional experience—its ending is genuinely moving—but one fortified by critical distance, a recognition of the inadequacy of the purely sentimental. We can’t just up and get rid of irony altogether: we need it to insulate us from the fundamental awfulness of consumer culture. It doesn’t help to willfully revert to some idealized pre-ironic tradition, no matter how insistently thinkpieces tell us that postmodern exercises are dead. Les Miserables is hardly the answer to our cultural woes. We need rich, full-bodied texts, savvy and at least a little cynical, to confront the modern condition head on.”
5. “Viva Mabuse! #69: Hurt Me.” Michael Atkinson on Mario Bava’s The Whip and the Body.
“The Gothic details of Bava’s film, fabulously wrought though they are, aren’t of much interest; what’s fascinating is the maddened sexual need at the center of the movie. Because it’s a ghost story, The Whip and the Body uses sadomasochism not as a mere perversion or violent gag, but as a devastatingly terminal metaphor for love. The story is actually a parable about romantic passion at its extreme edges, where physical contact isn’t enough—where nothing is enough. In fact, this is what Sade was all about, pace Simone de Beauvoir’s salient reading: pain, sadism, physical violence, even death, all of it helplessly inadequate symbolic substitutes for the next step beyond mere lovemaking and devotion—the next step being actually inexpressible, mysterious, forever beyond our grasp. In concept, you take sexual longing and ardor all the way to the cosmic outskirts, toward an undefinable extremity that will finally create a genuine union between two people, and you end up nowhere. In cinema and in action, sadism is a metaphor for the unsolvable distance between two people, and our failure to try to bridge it. We are, now and always, on our own.”
Video of the Day: Lupita Nyong’o accepting her award at the Critics’ Choice Awards:
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