1. “Last Girl in Larchmont.” Emily Nussbaum on Joan Rivers as a survivor of a sexist era: a victim, a rebel, and, finally, an enforcer.
“That admiring portrait was true, but it obscured a more complicated reality: in A Piece of Work, there are plenty of Holocaust jokes, and some hilarious elder-sex bits, but not a single fat joke, although for many decades jokes about female bodies were Rivers’s specialty. There is no Fashion Police, and no red-carpet routine, no mention of the night Rivers said, when the twenty-two-year-old Kate Winslet was nominated for an Academy Award, that the actress’s fat arms had sunk the Titanic. Was that a joke or an insult? A message to Winslet or to other girls watching? (Try to look better!) This was the harder-to-handle part of Rivers’s legacy, her powerful alloy of girl talk and woman hate, her instinct for how misogyny can double as female bonding. In many ways, Joan Rivers was the first Real Housewife: she was brazen, unapologetically materialistic, a glamorous warrior in an all-female battleground—a gladiator. To honor her, as both a role model and a cautionary tale, you can’t airbrush that out.”
2. “Spying, Spongeing, Singing.” Wesley Morris on Kingsman: The Secret Service, Sponge Out of Water, and The Last Five Years.
“This film is a lot of zero-calorie flash that makes Guy Ritchie look like John Frankenheimer. Ritchie is insufferably derivative, but at least his commitment to masculinity can be sexy. His best capers are hung, while Vaughn’s pants feel stuffed. Vaughn does have a competence that tends to elude a filmmaker like Ritchie. Kingsman is well oiled. Its trapdoor opens smoothly and the vengeful jaunts to Eggsy’s fraught home life, which he shares with his mother and her abusive mobster husband, satisfy the itch for life-size justice. These strands manage to meet up, loosely, in a primary plot in which the Kingsman agency is trying to stop a lisping telecom mogul named Richmond Valentine (Samuel L. Jackson) from fulfilling his evil-genius plan for a kind of ecological apocalypse via SIM card. There’s a nice (if overlong) finale, and I was happy anytime the dancer Sofia Boutella showed up with spiked and bladed feet as Valentine’s chic henchwoman. After a while, though, it all starts to repeat itself, even Boutella’s high-speed fights.”
3. “The War for the Soul of Geek Culture.” Moviepilot’s Alisha Grauso on Gamergate and more.
“Most recently, Gamergaters have turned to flooding gay and trans suicide hotlines, hoping to jam up the lines for someone at a low point, desperate to reach out. While the main origin of these threats have come from 8chan, there is more than enough overlap between the two to understand they are not mutually exclusive. Understanding the Gamergate hashtag has earned itself a negative connotation on Twitter, they’ve turned their attention to Tumblr with ’Operation Firefly’, dropping the hashtag in an attempt to spread the word on other platforms. Of course, it has devolved into organized attacks targeted at Tumblr users who are gay, trans, and depressed, encouraging the user to commit suicide, piling on in the hopes that the person will snap and kill him- or herself. Make no mistake, what’s pouring forth from pro-Gamergaters right now is the ugliest sort of human nature, the vilest thoughts being manifested into reality.”
4. ”54 Bombed in 1998. Now It’s Been Resurrected as a Cult Gay Classic.” For Vulture, Louis Jordan on the new cut of the 1998 Ryan Phillippe vehicle.
“’The director’s cut captures the freedom of the time,’ says Phillippe, ’but also the impending sobriety that would come with AIDS. It resonates.’ Driven by character and atmosphere rather than soapy plot, Mark Christopher’s film is permeated by a melancholy that adds depth to the ecstatic party scenes. Mike Myers nails the pathos and charm behind [Steve] Rubell’s ‘luded-out lechery, while Phillippe’s measured performance, finally given space to breathe, is vulnerable, amoral, and sexy. There are no easy heroes or villains in this 54, only people looking for something they’ll likely never find.”
5. “Interview: Sandra Adair.” Film Comment’s Violet Lucca interviews the Boyhood editor.
“That café scene in Austin was another a scene where we lifted out a couple of little back-and-forths. In the first scene with his girlfriend Sheena, I really wanted to feel an electricity, a connection between the two of them—it’s sort of an awakening for Mason. He may have had other girlfriends or flirtations with other girls, but we didn’t get to see those. In this one, I really wanted to show his shyness and his vulnerability, and at the same time, this flirtation and connection between the two of them. That’s much different than the scene in the café or the diner where they’re now looking at their future going off to college—they’re off on their own in Austin, and out from under the wing of parents. It’s a very different type of maturity.”
Video of the Day: Two clips from Jafar Panahi’s Taxi:
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