1. “Christie Faces Scandal on Traffic Jam Aides Ordered.” And now the New Jersey governor’s carefully devised, no-nonsense image is in peril.
“The mystery of who closed two lanes onto the George Washington Bridge—turning the borough of Fort Lee, N.J., into a parking lot for four days in September—exploded into a full-bore political scandal for Gov. Chris Christie on Wednesday. Emails and texts revealed that a top aide had ordered the closings to punish the town’s mayor after he did not endorse the governor for re-election.”
2. “American Horror Stories: Why The Wolf of Wall Street Should Be Drawing Comparisons to 12 Years a Slave.” Of all the scenes in Scorsese’s film that are dripping with debauchery, there’s one that R. Kurt Osenlund can’t shake.
“It’s a relatively early scene, when Stratton Oakmont, the brokerage-house brainchild of Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio), has its first in-office gala of world domination. A marching band parades between cubicles. Dancing girls wiggle their assets while men gawk and grab. And one female employee, who’s so peripheral in the long haul that I can’t remember her name, takes a seat in front of the workaday masses and has her head shaved, an act for which Belfort gifts her a bonus of $10,000 (allegedly for a boob job). As her blonde locks fall to the floor, the woman, surrounded by other women, who are present for crude amusement, hauntingly holds her reward with both hands, the bills flittering between her fingers like gold coins found in a treasure chest. Watching this scene, the levels of flaunted, unfettered misogyny become incredibly hard to stomach. And as Belfort continued barking at his minions with dictatorial zeal, and the balding woman became more and more shorn and demeaned, a bit of déjà vu began scratching at the back of my mind.”
3. “Is Meryl Streep’s Disney-Bashing Just Oscar Season Mudslinging?” How Streep boosted her Oscar chances by ragging on Walt Disney.
“The big news to come out of Tuesday’s National Board of Review awards gala was a speech given by Meryl Streep in honor of Emma Thompson. The part that made headlines concerned her bringing up some of the less savory aspects of Mr. Walt Disney, namely his alleged racism, sexism, and anti-semitism. Countless outlets have argued that this speech was somehow ’winning’ or evidence of ’big-round-hairy-cojones.’ Yet almost no one is talking about how this speech is, by accident or design, likely to hurt the very person it was intended to be honoring, Emma Thompson herself. Delivered in the thick of the Oscar season, Streep has done little more than boost her own Oscar chances at the expense of Ms. Thompson’s.”
4. “Memories of murder: Rithy Panh on The Missing Picture.” The Cambodian director on how to fight totalitarianism with the tools (and pain) of childhood.
“It comes like a wave sometimes. I put in the film three times this big wave that can swallow you. You try to stand up and continue because it’s something you have to do: to transmit, not the horror, but the dignity and humanity of the people who died. Say one of your friends is near death and he asks you, ’Please, if you see my family, tell them I love them.’ You have to transmit this, because you’re a survivor—and not because you’re stronger, but because the man who died helped you to survive. That’s why we have to transmit, to remember all those people.”
5. “As Indies Explode, an Appeal for Sanity.” Manohla Dargis on why flooding theaters isn’t good for filmmakers or filmgoers.
“How did other film veterans, I wondered, feel about all the releases crowding theaters, and is it good for independent cinema or not? All I knew was that I was increasingly reviewing movies, particularly in the independent sector, that once upon a VHS time would have been relegated to the bottom shelves of my local video stores, the kind that were straight-to-video. I’ve always expected that a percentage of the big-studio releases will be bilge, but for years, partly because of the limited number of distributors, I also expected indie releases to be at least competent, watchable, in focus and good enough to be in theaters. That’s no longer true.”
Video of the Day: William Friedkin talks about his favorite films of all time:
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