1. “Günter Grass, author of The Tin Drum, is dead.” The German novelist and social critic dies at 87.
“Günter Grass, the German novelist, social critic and Nobel Prize winner whom many called his country’s moral conscience but who stunned Europe when he revealed in 2006 that he had been a member of the Waffen-SS during World War II, died on Monday. He was 87. Mr. Grass’s publisher, the Steidl Verlag, said the author died in a clinic in the northern city of Lübeck, which had been his home for decades. No cause of death was given. Mr. Grass was hardly the only member of his generation who obscured the facts of his wartime life. But because he was a pre-eminent public intellectual who had pushed Germans to confront the ugly aspects of their history, his confession that he had falsified his own biography shocked readers and led some to view his life’s work in a wholly different light. In 2012, Mr. Grass found himself the subject of further scrutiny after publishing a poem criticizing Israel for its hostile language toward Iran over its nuclear program. He expressed revulsion at the idea that Israel might be justified in attacking Iran over a perceived nuclear threat and said that it “endangers the already fragile world peace.” “
2. “Reboot and Rally.” Mark Harris on the problem with bringing back Twin Peaks, The X-Files, and Full House.
“But I fear that something else is also driving our collective enthusiasm: A social-media-driven appetite for easy nostalgia, which is more inimical to the spirit of Twin Peaks than any other sentiment I can imagine. Perhaps the scripts that Lynch and Frost have prepared are as medium-defying as anything we saw in 1990, but it’s a tall order to be revolutionary on demand, and what if they aren’t? What if the revived or reheated or reanimated Twin Peaks turns out to be something absolutely awful, where every familiar character gets a ponderous entrance, the way the members of the Enterprise did in that first, abysmal Star Trek movie? What if Kyle McLachlan is forced to say ’This is—excuse me—a damn fine cup of coffee’ so we can chuckle because that’s his thing! and Sherilyn Fenn is made to tie a knot in a cherry stem, and the log lady still has to carry around a log? What if what was fresh and shocking in 1990 feels arch or overfamiliar or, even worse, behind the times in an era when seemingly half the drama series on television proceed from the discovery of a dead girl? What if Twin Peaks seems hermetically referential in a way that the original did not? What if it becomes a cuddly fetish object rather than what it was, which was a gut-punch to a set of TV conventions that no longer exist in part because David Lynch helped to demolish them?”
3. “Louis C.K.’s Crabby, Epic Love Letter to NYC: ’Everyone’s Dealing with the Same S— ... Elbow to Elbow.’” In his own words, the actor-comedian talks class differences between L.A. and New York, the upside of being passed over for SNL, and the time Chris Rock called him a “f—in’ n—er” after he showed him the $100,000 in cash he’d hid in his apartment.
“A lot of people know me here now, and it can be a real bummer because I love to observe the city. When they’re looking back at you, you don’t get as much data about who they are. I like to feel like a member of the community, too, and whenever you’re set apart, you feel less included. It took me a while to get used to it. I still have the same habits I always did. I still take the subway everywhere with my kids, but now I get on and there will be one or two people who know who I am and make me feel kind of weird. Sometimes somebody will loudly say hi to you, and then everybody is looking at you and it kind of ruins it. I try to say as little as possible so I can melt back in because that feels normal to me.”
4. “A short history of image manipulation before Photoshop.” Examples of “manipulated” images go back right to photography’s earliest days.
“Following the devastation of the American Civil War, many people were seeking ways to cope with their loss. Seeing a potentially lucrative opportunity in this, William H. Mumler began a business making spirit photographs. His technique was straightforward. Before they sat for a portrait in his New York studio, he would ask a bereaved customer to bring him the picture of a departed loved one. He would then create a double-negative photograph that combined the two images. He claimed that this was proof that a friendly spirit was watching over the person left behind. Mumler’s most famous photograph was of Mary Todd, otherwise known as Mrs Abraham Lincoln. Though his reputation was ruined by a fraud trial, spirit photography thrived during the late nineteenth century, successfully transporting itself across the Atlantic to Britain and Europe.”
5. “The Secret Life of Objects.” For Rouge, Mark Rappaport on the recurring movie prop, which is the subject of his film The Vanity Tables of Douglas Sirk, part of this year’s Art of the Real.
“It is an aspect of movies we do not think about too often—or do not want to think about. We want (or, perhaps it would be better to put this in the past tense: wanted) the film to cast its magic spell. We want/wanted to be swept away by the illusion of the illusion. We do not want to be reminded that it was a cost-conscious business like any other business—in which expenditures had to be kept down and every nickel accounted for. We do not want the magic taken away. We do not want to see the Marxist underpinnings of each scene as it unfolds—unless it is by Straub-Huillet or Godard—complete with a cost accounting at the right hand bottom of the screen, like a taxi metre run amok, ticking, ticking, ticking, indicating the costs of building each set, the costs of the fabrics, the furniture, each individual prop, where it was bought or how much it cost to make it. We want the illusion preserved. Keep the dream and throw away the facts. Just as we do not want to know that that most delightful of movies, Jacques Tati’s Playtime (1967) was the most expensive French movie made at that point, that the cost overruns bankrupted Tati, forced him to give up the rights to his previous films, and severely curtailed his subsequent ability to make movies.”
Video of the Day: Terminator Genisys gets a trailer:
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