1. “Harper Lee to publish new novel, 55 years after To Kill a Mockingbird.” Go Set a Watchman, completed in the mid-50s but lost for more than half a century, was written before To Kill a Mockingbird and features Scout as an adult.
“When an author’s debut novel wins the Pulitzer prize and goes on to sell 40 million copies, perennially topping lists of the world’s best-loved books, it’s understandable that they might be apprehensive about the reception of a second. Harper Lee, who sent the literary universe into a spin on Tuesday after she announced she would be releasing a sequel to To Kill a Mockingbird this summer—55 years after her debut—appears to have no such fears. ’It’s a pretty decent effort,’ she said of Go Set a Watchman. News of its publication this summer stunned fans of the 88-year-old author, who have waited for a second novel from Lee since 1960, when she released her debut tale of racism in the American south. The novel was written by Lee before To Kill a Mockingbird, but is set some 20 years later. It features Lee’s beloved character Scout as an adult, returning to her home town of Maycomb from New York to visit Atticus, her lawyer father, along with many of the characters from Lee’s debut.”
2. ”Black or White: A Jacksonian Dream.” Armond White on how Kevin Costner handles racial questions with integrity rather than showbiz moralizing.
“The title of Costner’s film makes a statement; yet, like Jackson’s hit record, it also poses several questions: First about family, then character, then social values, and lastly about race. That may seem like backward priorities, given the way race has recently dominated film culture (race keeps coming up, always as a controversy). But the order of the film’s interests suggests Costner’s integrity regarding showbiz moralizing. It is through the middle-aged attorney’s responsibility for a young girl’s education, grooming, and well-being that Black or White conveys facts of equality, acts of loving. Ethnic difference becomes a dilemma when Elliot is brought to court by the child’s paternal grandmother Rowena (Octavia Spencer), a black working-class woman from L.A.’s inner city, who makes a counter-demand for custody. Elliot is confronted by race problems that he has managed to avoid, being protected by his class advantages, but they are imposed by society’s ideological pressure.”
3. “What It Takes to Restore a 1929 Brooklyn ’Wonder Theater’.” Curbed’s Corinne Ramey on the restoration of Brooklyn’s Kings Theatre, which reopened yesterday with a sold-out peformance by Diana Ross.
“Movie palaces are an anachronism. A throwback to a time when thousands of us watched a single movie together, they are, in the oft-cited words credited to Kings’ architects Rapp & Rapp, ’where the rich rubbed elbows with the poor.’ They are a remnant of the days when going to the movies was a social occasion, before televisions existed, before we could binge-watch Netflix on our iPads, and before, certainly, there were books with titles like Bowling Alone. Movie palaces, in all their ostentatious, air-conditioned glory, were the Palaces of Versailles for regular folks. And reviving an anachronism is complicated. Today, depending on one’s perspective, movie palaces are garish, over-the-top, asbestos-laden eyesores, begging to be torn down, or chapters of cultural and architectural history we can’t afford to lose. With their restoration—if a theater is lucky enough to make it to that point—comes decisions about how to balance the preservation of our cultural heritage with the compromises needed for survival.”
4. “Nancy Reagan Turned Down Rock Hudson’s Plea For Help Nine Weeks Before He Died.” Rock Hudson was desperately trying to get treatment for AIDS in France in 1985. Much of that story has been told, but one part hasn’t: After a simple plea came in for White House help to get Hudson transferred to another hospital, First Lady Nancy Reagan turned down the request.
“’I knew the Reagans knew Rock Hudson, obviously from their years in Hollywood, and for that reason I decided to call her,’ [Mark] Weinberg told BuzzFeed News in a recent interview about the 1985 request. Would the White House intervene on Hudson’s behalf? That was what the publicist was asking for—help getting the actor, lying in the hospital in a dire condition, transferred from hospital to hospital. Weinberg recommended to Nancy Reagan that the White House refer the matter to the U.S. Embassy in France, because, as he told BuzzFeed News, ’This is probably not the [last] time we’re going to get a request like this and we want to be fair and not do anything that would appear to favor personal friends. The Reagans were very conscious of not making exceptions for people just because they were friends of theirs or celebrities or things of that kind. That wasn’t—they weren’t about that. They were about treating everybody the same,’ he told BuzzFeed News.”
5. ”Every Man for Himself: Themes and Variations.” Amy Taubin on the Jean-Luc Godard film.
“An occasionally hilarious and almost as often grief-stricken social satire in which an asshole TV director named Paul Godard is the butt of the joke, Every Man for Himself marked Jean-Luc Godard’s return to making 35mm feature films for theatrical release, after devoting himself in the 1970s to political critiques and series television produced on 16mm and video. Completed in 1979 and distributed worldwide in 1980, it was dubbed by Godard ’my second first film,’ coming exactly twenty years after his debut feature, Breathless (1960), upended cinematic language and made way for the jump cut, rampant image and language quotation, and the neonoir.”
Video of the Day: Ryan Gosling’s Lost River gets a trailer:
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