1. “Kenneth Anger Interview.” Harmony Korine chats with the iconic underground filmmaker.
“Well, I had to tailor my dreams to fit my budgets. Except in a few cases, like when Sir Paul Getty was alive and he sponsored my Mickey Mouse film [Mouse Heaven, 2004], I had very limited financial resources. So that has dictated my product. With Rabbit’s Moon [1950-79], I was helped by the Cinémathèque Française. They gave me the 35mm film to make it. It was the same film that [Jean] Cocteau used for Beauty and the Beast—the same 35mm negative. I had plans to do a film based on Les Chants de Maldoror by Lautréamont. I did film part of it with one of the ballet groups in France. I made platforms just below the surface of the water; there were, like, tables, they were held down so they wouldn’t float away. So it appeared that the dancers were actually dancing on the water. It’s not a very special effect, because if you had the money, you could do it with people dancing in the air if you wanted.”
2. “Spike Lee Talks Obama, the End of Mookie’s Brooklyn, and the Hollywood Color Line.” The Vulture’s Will Leitch sits down with the filmmaker.
“I would not call it a syndrome. Thing is, those box-office numbers prove there is an audience for those films. Yet, at the same time, I think there is an audience that would like to see something else. At this moment, those other films have to be made outside the Hollywood studio system. This comes down to the gatekeepers, and I do not think there is going to be any substantial movement until people of color get into those gatekeeper positions of people who have a green-light vote. That is what it comes down to. We do not have a vote, and we are not at that table when it is decided what gets made and what does not get made. Whether it is Hollywood films, network or cable television, we are not there. When I first started making films and I would have Hollywood meetings—and I know this for a fact—they would bring black people out of the mailroom to be in the meeting.”
3. “Why it’s time to stop the anti-spoiler paranoia.” Todd VanDerWerff on why being on guard against spoilers means so much else gets missed.
“Walter White dies at the end of Breaking Bad. Now, you might think this a spoiler. If you haven’t seen the show and have somehow avoided all discussion of its series finale up until this point, technically, it is. But look at all of the things I haven’t told you about Walter’s death. I haven’t told you if he’s done in by a friend, foe, or the cancer he was diagnosed with in the pilot. I haven’t told you if he dies on his own terms, or because he was bested by someone or something. I haven’t mentioned the fates of any of the other characters, like Jesse Pinkman, Hank Schrader, or Walt’s wife, Skyler. I haven’t talked about the way the sequence is constructed, shot, and edited. And that’s to say nothing of the fact that Breaking Bad tells you from episode one—remember that cancer?—where Walter is headed. This is explicitly a tragedy, and tragedies are constructed so we have at least a vague sense of where things are headed. They gain power from it. Could the knowledge that Walter is marked for death ’ruin’ Breaking Bad for someone? It could, but only if you value plot above everything else—to pretend otherwise is anti-criticism.”
4. “How Seinfeld Paved the Way for Tony Soprano.” Matt Zoller Setiz traces the line.
“Before Seinfeld, there were never any sitcoms that let their characters be purely selfish, treating the rest of humankind as a resource or obstacle while standing back and observing their shenanigans with a jaundiced detachment. But David’s ’no learning’ ethos has since become a mantra for the medium, at least insofar as it has encouraged the writers of sitcoms and dramas alike to be true to whatever their vision may be, and not trouble themselves too much with whether you approve of what the characters say and do. Would Tony Soprano have strangled that snitch in the woods, would Six Feet Unders Nate Fisher have been a sonofabitch right up to his final moments on Earth, would 30 Rock’s Jenna have treated the entire known universe as a ladder leading to her own career success, if Seinfeld hadn’t steamrolled an artistic path for them back in the early ’90s?”
5. “The Real Threat to Independent Film.” Richard Brody says it isn’t Michael Bay’s Transformers movies.
“Movies that call attention to their high-art pedigree have no necessary claim on the status that their directors aspire to. Some movies of rarefied aspiration and literary or otherwise classical tradition indeed reach heights of graceful sublimity, and proof of the increased diversity in today’s movie culture is the fact that such movies (including those by Chantal Akerman, Tsai Ming-liang, and Joaquim Pinto) find a place in the world of distribution and exhibition—one that depends, in significant measure, on not-for-profit arts organizations of exactly the sort that such exalted filmmakers as Carl Theodor Dreyer or Robert Bresson lacked during their career-long battles with the demands of commercial producers and distributors.”
Video of the Day: The trailer for Jafar Panahi’s Closed Curtain:
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 firstname.lastname@example.org and to converse in the comments section.