1. “The Police Are Still Out of Control.” And Frank Serpico should know.
“Today the combination of an excess of deadly force and near-total lack of accountability is more dangerous than ever: Most cops today can pull out their weapons and fire without fear that anything will happen to them, even if they shoot someone wrongfully. All a police officer has to say is that he believes his life was in danger, and he’s typically absolved. What do you think that does to their psychology as they patrol the streets—this sense of invulnerability? The famous old saying still applies: Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. (And we still don’t know how many of these incidents occur each year; even though Congress enacted the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act 20 years ago, requiring the Justice Department to produce an annual report on ’the use of excessive force by law enforcement officers,’ the reports were never issued.)”
2. “The 35 Best Books by Cinema’s Greatest Auteurs.” From Kenneth Anger to John Waters, Flavorpill’s list includes both familiar and slightly off-the-beaten path selections.
“It’s an old standby that if a person is truly a master at one thing, he’s probably not great at much else. But when it comes to cinema, the auteur’s role is to be good at everything—sound, writing, camerawork, etc.—while also maintaining an overarching vision. So it isn’t surprising that there are so many great books written by cinema’s most famous (and infamous) auteurs. The staggering variety, though, is surprising, albeit with one exception: there are still few books published by cinema’s greatest women auteurs. (Why in the hell is Agnès Varda’s Varda only available in French?) Nevertheless, here is a list of the greatest books ever written by auteurs. And if your favorite director’s book isn’t on here, maybe it wasn’t very good?”
3. “A Few Great Pumpkins IX.” Every Halloween, Reverse Shot presents a week’s worth of perfect holiday programming. So far this week they’ve offered takes on Isle of the Dead, Twilight Zone: The Movie, and Eyes Without a Face.
“Why is it that when we talk about what’s scary in horror filmmaking we often talk about things that ’shock’ as opposed to ’haunt’ us? Perhaps it’s the immediate visceral kick of the former, and how easy that is to assimilate and reckon with once our aroused nervous systems have calmed down and the lights have gone back up. Perhaps it’s the inherent difficulty in crafting something that creates a lingering unease in the viewer—that which truly haunts is a rare beast. We are haunted by that which we can’t forget, can’t fully understand. And maybe that which haunts exerts its pull because, on some level, we don’t want to escape its thrall. A jolt is explainable: a sound or image entered our perception unexpectedly. With a good haunting, we’re tantalized. Insidious and Sinister are scary. Spirit of the Beehive and The Uninvited are haunting. Halloween and The Fog are both. Eyes Without a Face has its share of scares, but its overall effect is of the haunting variety.”
4. “Harry Shearer on Being Nixon, The Simpsons Movie Sequel, and Why Obama Should Return His Nobel.” The comedy legend discusses This Is Spinal Tap’s Stonehenge visit, his plethora of Simpsons characters, and portraying President Richard Nixon in Nixon’s the One.
“This is the second time in my lifetime that I’ve thought about someone in this country, ’Hey Bud, isn’t is time to give your Nobel Peace Prize back?’ First it was Kissinger, and now it’s Obama. Sparked by working on the Nixon series, one has to confront a fairly blunt fact: Forgetting his foreign policy, which was ludicrous, a lot of his domestic policies were mind-spinningly to the left of Obama. Under Nixon, the EPA was started, the OSHA was started, the Clean Air Act was passed, the Clean Water Act was passed. And, most startlingly of all, Nixon gave a speech late in his truncated second term calling publicly for a guaranteed annual income for all Americans. How long do you think you’d have to live to hear Obama do that?”
5. “Scatterbrained Angel.” James Quandt on the films of Jacques Tati.
“Mon oncle, which Tati made in both French and English versions—like Godard and Jean-Marie Straub, he reportedly loathed subtitles as excrescences in his carefully composed images—is pure, abstract slapstick, full of delightful visual wit, droll physical humor, and Gallic irony. But it is also a ’contradictory text’: the film’s visual compositions and soundtrack are precisely (and technologically) designed to achieve Tati’s effects, thereby indulging in the very mechanics the director is criticizing. This contradiction is central to understanding all of his work. His Cartesian comedies inveigh against order and logic but generate beauty and laughter from both. Works shaped on accidents and anarchy—his last film was to be called Confusion—are fastidiously designed to allow little contingency, their critiques of modernism and technology reveling in the absurdity of the modern world and relying (spectacularly) on technology. For instance, though Tati intends the automobile to signify the impersonality of modern life in Trafic, he is obviously transfixed by the dreamlike stream of cars on the superhighway and by a gleaming acre of auto chrome in a parking lot. Unlike Godard, Tati does not traduce the world that so often vexes or alarms him, though the directors share a penchant for dwelling on the splendor they discover amid the detritus of modernity.”
Video of the Day: Ana Lily Amirpour’s A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night gets a trailer:
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