1. “The Story of Sembene!” Bilge Ebiri on how Ousmane Sembene invented African cinema.
“On the day of Sembene’s death in 2007, [Samba] Gadjigo vowed that he would not let the filmmaker’s work be forgotten. He also found himself responsible for organizing Sembene’s papers and archives, which were in disarray, with many of his film materials rotting away at the director’s home in Dakar. It was out of this effort that Sembene! the documentary grew, with Gadjigo collaborating with his longtime colleague and friend Silverman, a film producer and festival director. It has taken eight years to get the film made. Along the way, Gadjigo also wrote a biography of Sembene.”
2. “The Story Behind The Americans’ Excruciating, Beautifully Shot Tooth-Pulling Scene.” Matt Zoller Seitz interviews Thomas Schlamme, director of yesterday’s episode of The Americans.
“That’s a breaking point in a relationship, stuff about your child. I’ve been married 31 years, and I can tell you, our fights, the biggest and most powerful we’ve ever had, were always about our children. And so, knowing where [Philip and Elizabeth] were emotionally, the question becomes ’How do I set up, from the beginning of that chase all the way through the tooth being pulled, that this is about trust and intimacy?’ It wasn’t ’How do I make this action sequence the most exciting action sequence? How do I make this tooth-pulling just so excruciatingly painful and weird?’ The close-ups of the eyes were about ’he has to see what he’s doing,’ but they were also about the fact that we’re basically shooting people making love, and they’re just staring at each other the whole time.”
3. ”Parenthood’s End: On Television’s Children.” Phillip Maciak presents an—admittedly incomplete—survey of the kid acting landscape after Parenthood.
“Sometimes I think that, with Paige and Henry, The Americans has almost effortlessly done what Homeland struggled so laboriously to do before it ultimately lifted the curse and let the poor actress playing Dana out of her contract. What’s it like to have parents with monumental secrets? What’s it like to be traumatized by something you can’t see or articulate? How do you manifest a shapeless, ghastly global war within the space of the home? Part of the success of The Americans on this front is in the way it has positioned its children. As opposed to Sally Draper, whose witnessing has metamorphosed into a kind of independent identity, Paige and Henry have been almost entirely reactive characters. They represent and manifest the blowback, the cost of the secrets their parents keep. This is most certainly a show about Philip and Elizabeth, so Paige and Henry are foils, but these roles demand an incredibly difficult task from the actors.”
4. “Berlin: Andrew Haigh on Surprising With 45 Years and the Future of Looking.” The British director and Looking producer spoke with Indiewire in Berlin about working with Charlotte Rampling for 45 Years and the future of the HBO show.
“The age thing was always less important than the fact that it’s this exploration of relationships and how you define yourself through your relationships and how complex that is, and how Weekend was about two people deciding this is who we are and maybe we could have a relationship with each other. This is the other end of the spectrum and I think weirdly there are a lot of similar themes that are being explored in both films: how our romantic relationships show us so much about who we are as people at a certain time and how it can change and how it can develop. And there was just something about this short story that was so simple and elegant about this body that had been found, a past, like a frozen past almost, and then this long future of actually having to live this relationship and being made to compromise and give up elements of yourself and adapt when you’re with someone. That’s what you have to do when you’re with someone. You lose your individuality and I think what’s so fascinating about this story is what happens when that relationship suddenly starts to get on shaky ground. It’s so easy to suddenly fall down a rabbit hole of fear and doubt about not just your relationship but also your whole life.”
5. “Courtney Love: I Channeled My Inner Mariah Carey for Empire.” Love speaks to TVGuide.com about her reccurring role on FOX’s Empire.
“The only glitch was the song [Daniels] wanted me to do. It’s not written as a rock powerhouse. It was written as R&B white royalty. And I can’t hit those notes. I’m not Mariah. So they sent me this Labelle song—it’s not a hit. It’s a deep cut called ’Messin’ with My Mind.’ Patti LaBelle is an institution, who is very famous for hitting crazy notes. So, I got on the phone with, I think it was about five or six Fox executives. (sings off-key) ’Messin’ with my mind!’ My voice cracked and they’re still cringing from it. It so didn’t work. And so, we decided on a cover. ... In this episode, I fail at the song anyway. We do ’Take Me to the River’ by Al Green, which Talking Heads did, Annie Lennox did. It can be done as a rock song. I flew down to Miami and worked with Timbaland on it, and that’s the song that you hear.”
Video of the Day: The music video for Jessie Ware’s “Champagne Kisses”:
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