1. “2014 Emmy Nominations.” Game of Thrones tops nominations; Hannibal and The Americans snubbed.
“Cable continued to dominate the awards: Commercial broadcast networks claimed just two of six comedy slots, and were shut out of the drama and (as usual) movie and miniseries categories. Left out as series contenders were CBS’s The Good Wife (though star Julianna Margulies and supporting players Christine Baranski and Josh Charles were nominated); HBO’s Girls (though Lena Dunham and Adam Driver were); Showtime’s Homeland (though Claire Danes and Mandy Patinkin were); and Fox’s Golden Globe-winning Brooklyn Nine-Nine and its star, Andy Samberg (though supporting actor Andre Braugher won a nod).”
2. “Why Michael Bay is the most important director in Hollywood.” When Movies Can Look or Sound Like Anything, Says the Dark Knight Robbie Collin leaps to the defence of Transformers director Michael Bay.
“His films are unashamedly patriotic (heroes stand proud before fluttering Stars and Stripes), militaristic (conflict solves problems, diplomacy always fails) and materialistic (everything that’s shiny and expensive is fetishised to the point of parody). ’When it started, America was just a handful of scrawny colonies,’ says Wahlberg’s character in Pain & Gain. ’Now, it’s the most buff, pumped-up country on the planet. That’s pretty rad.’ But Bay’s vision of a rad America—supersized, steroid-pumped, verging on self-parody—is one that can be enjoyed almost anywhere. Transformers: Age of Extinction opened big in the US, but its domestic takings were almost matched by a further $92 million (£54 million) from China, where the film’s third act is set. Even the pseudo-romantic epic Pearl Harbor (2001)—Bay’s only truly horrendous film, which was described by Dick Cook, a former chairman at Disney, as ’one of the most difficult shoots of modern history’—was a 4.5 billion-yen (£25 million) hit in Japan, with only a few judicious edits and dialogue tweaks.”
3. “Zac Efron and Michelle Rodriguez: why are we still scandalised by female sexuality?” Teen hearthrob Zac Efron and actress Michelle Rodriguez have been pictured canoodling. The world has reacted with surprise. Why? Because Rodriguez—older, experienced—has dared to put her sexuality on show, says Harriet Walker
“Beneath the gloss and the gossip of the latest celebrity canoodle between Michelle Rodriguez (Cara Delevingne’s ex) and Zac Efron (a tanned, man-shaped Disney puppet) lies a far more fascinating subject: female sexuality and how terrified we are of it. Their yacht-based fondling—pictured on gossip sites around the world—ticks off several romantic tropes all at once: an age gap (Rodriguez is 35, Efron is 26), a certain amount of inoffensive pass-the-suncream titillation and a slim amount of time since a break-up that we, the moral arbiters, deem not quite long enough (it’s just a few weeks since she and Delevingne were last pictured together). That a woman—and a woman already into her Thirties—should be the cause and chief manipulator of all three is practically unheard of. But, like all celebrity gloop, it’s tangential proof that we’re entering a new phase of gender relations. Could it be that women are the new sex pests? I’m joking, of course. But much of the attention these photos have drawn—beyond the fact that the people involved are famous and good-looking—is down to a certain in-built fascination with Rodriguez; the archetypal ’woman who behaves like a man.’”
4. “Gilding the Small Screen.” Is television the new cinema? Just asking the question that way misses the point of both media.
“It’s a waste of time to denigrate one form of visual entertainment over the other; much better to highlight their aesthetic and narrative differences, so that we might stop comparing them at all. Certainly the excitement around television is inspiring and revealing. There’s undoubtedly a ravenous aspect to the consumption of these shows, now denoted by the coinage ’binge-watching.’ This suggests a long drought in narrative-based, audiovisual storytelling that has finally come to a merciful end. But it also implies that we are desperate for culture-leveling entertainment. We want to join a larger dialogue around art and revel in the virtual community the internet promises. That’s a rich vein of inquiry, to be sure, but one best left for another time.”
5. “Prisons of Gender and a Generation.” J. Hoberman on Max Ophüls’s Caught and Michelangelo Antonioni’s I Vinti.
“Not only actors but also directors can be typecast, particularly strong stylists like Max Ophuls and Michelangelo Antonioni. Ophuls has been dismissed by some as a froufrou formalist, Antonioni as a poet of the privileged. Neither is noted for his social consciousness, but their complexity is evident in new Blu-ray releases of two relatively obscure films, Ophuls’s Caught (1949), made under the name Marcel Opuls, and Antonioni’s I Vinti (1953). The third of the four features Ophuls directed in Hollywood, Caught (out from Olive Films) is what was once called a ’woman’s picture.’ A pretty carhop (Barbara Bel Geddes, in a part originally meant for Ginger Rogers) goes without lunches to pay for charm school, changes her name from Maude to Leonora, gets a job as a department store model and, as in a fairy tale, finds herself married to the very rich, very neurotic financier, Smith Ohlrig (Robert Ryan). Fleeing the ogre’s Long Island castle for the Lower East Side of Manhattan, she next finds a job as a receptionist for the idealistic Dr. Larry Quinada (James Mason). Complications ensue, particularly after Leonora eventually finds herself pregnant. The script may sound rote, although it’s not. Leonora’s contradictory desires are embodied in Bel Geddes’s soft-spoken, subtly off-speed line readings. Her character is simultaneously strong and weak, resolute and hesitant. Mason and particularly Ryan give vivid performances. Providing strong support are the Group Theater veteran Art Smith as Ohlrig’s psychoanalyst and the former Weimar cabaret star Curt Bois as the rich man’s procurer.”
Video of the Day: This is the 72-minute teaser for Anders Weberg’s planned 720-hour film Ambiancé:
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.