1. ”Birdman Takes an Early Lead in the 2014 Awards Season.” Other films with big showings include Boydhood and Selma.
“The main stories we can divine from this year’s nominations are about Boyhood and Birdman. Richard Linklater’s three-hour, 12-year opus got nominated all over the place, proving that it has awards legs despite being released nearly six months ago. Meanwhile, Birdman shores up support as it heads into a crowded race filled with bigger, noisier films. That Emma Stone nomination could be a harbinger of things to come, while the nod for Boyhood’s Patricia Arquette confirms a sure thing. Believe it or not, Arquette is currently the presumptive front-runner to win the whole dang thing come Oscar time, and this nomination is the first definitive milestone on the road to victory.”
2. “Why It’s Impossible to Indict a Cop.” It’s not just Ferguson—here’s how the system protects police.
“But just as often these videos end up illustrating just how much leeway police have in opening fire on a suspect. Take the police shooting of St. Louis resident Kajieme Powell, a mentally ill man allegedly holding a knife, a fatal shooting arguably less defensible than the Michael Brown shooting ten days before, and caught on a cell-phone video. Or, again, John Crawford III, whose slaying by police officers was caught on the Walmart security cameras. Or the July, 2012 video of eight members of the Saginaw, Michigan, police department, six of them firing forty-six shots at Milton Hall, a mentally ill homeless man, hitting him eleven times, after he took out a pocket knife when a police dog started to lunge at him. Although the latter horrific video picked up a fresh wave of publicity when screened at a hearing of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in Washington, DC, last month, such videos cannot undo the legally enshrined deference to the subjective feelings of police officers when they reach for their weapons. No criminal charges were even attempted by state prosecutors in any of these cases; the DOJ has announced it is looking into the Crawford shooting, but declined to prosecute in the other two.”
3. “From Michael Brown to Assata Shakur, the racist state of America persists.” Those who resist are treated like terrorists—as in Ferguson this year, and as I and other black activists were in the 60s and 70s.
“This use of the war on terror as a broad designation of the project of 21st-century western democracy has served as a justification of anti-Muslim racism; it has further legitimised the Israeli occupation of Palestine; it has redefined the repression of immigrants; and has indirectly led to the militarisation of local police departments throughout the country. Police departments—including on college and university campuses—have acquired military surplus from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan through the Department of Defense Excess Property Program. Thus, in response to the recent police killing of Michael Brown, demonstrators challenging racist police violence were confronted by police officers dressed in camouflage uniforms, armed with military weapons, and driving armoured vehicles.”
4. “The 30 Best 30 for 30 Films.” As ESPN’s groundbreaking series celebrates its fifth anniversary, we pick our favorite films: tales of triumph, tragedy and (of course) ’The U.’
“In a 2009 interview with TV critic Alan Sepinwall, ESPN writer/producer/personality Bill Simmons laid out his plans for the (then) new documentary series 30 for 30: ’We want to do stuff that people haven’t seen,’ he said. ’To tell stories that are different.’ Five years later, 30 for 30 has stayed true to its mission. Mostly. The documentaries haven’t always been that offbeat—and the series has long since outgrown its original ’30 films about events from the last 30 years’ premise—but 30 for 30 continues to connect top-notch filmmakers with subjects that they convey with passion and artistry. Along the way, the series has become a franchise, spawning web videos and spin-offs that have dealt with everything from Clyde Frazier’s sartorial flair to the history of the high five. On November 25, ESPN Films is releasing the 30 for 30 Fifth Anniversary Collection, a sprawling, 32-disc DVD (or 20-disc Blu-ray) set that contains 50 episodes from the 30 for 30 series, 11 ’ESPN Films Presents’ documentaries, two of the SEC Storied films, all nine of the Nine For IX episodes, all eight Soccer Stories, and selections from the 30 for 30 Shorts. That’s a generous helping of some of the best sports journalism of the past half-decade. So to mark its release, we’ve chosen the best of the best: The Top 30 30 for 30s.”
5. “Jarvis Cocker Interview.” The enlightened UK rock great talks about the new Pulp documentary Life, Death and Supermarkets, why nobody wants to be a common person anymore, and the importance of creation in a culture obsessed with consuming everything.
“I’ve never thought, ’Oh, I’ve got to write songs about normal people or real life.’ When people set out to write a song aimed at the common man—I mean, I don’t even believe that that person exists—that’s when you get really horrible, preachy, vague, waffly songs. I hate those songs. If you want to be a creative person, the big thing is to locate your own creative voice, which can be quite difficult. When I went to art college, I would read books about famous artists of years gone by and think, ’Oh, well, if I went and lived in Marrakech and ate only oatmeal and bananas for a year, I’d become really artistic,’ as if there’s some kind of recipe. But instead of looking off into the distance, try and concentrate on your immediate surroundings and you will find that you already have a unique take on the world. It’s just that you might not recognize it. The key to locating it is by being specific and writing about the details of situations, because a detail proves that you were actually there and lends authenticity to what you’re writing. And the weird thing is that, by being more specific, it opens things up and makes it universal.”
Video of the Day: Fans of Room 237 will especially appreciate this:
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