1. “As Sunnis Die in Iraq, a Cycle Is Restarting.” Fears of sectarian violence rise in Baghdad after killing of Sunni imam and prison inmates.
“As Sunni militants rampaged across northern Iraq last week, executing Iraqi soldiers and government workers and threatening to demolish Shiism’s most sacred shrines, Iraq’s Shiites suffered mostly in silence, maintaining a patience urged on them by their religious leaders through months of deadly bombings. On Tuesday, though, there were signs that their patience had run out. The bodies of 44 Sunni prisoners were found in a government-controlled police station in Baquba, about 40 miles north of Baghdad. They had all been shot Monday night in the head or chest. Then the remains of four young men who had been shot were found dumped Tuesday on a street in a Baghdad neighborhood controlled by Shiite militiamen. By evening, it was Shiites who were the victims again, as a suicide bombing in a crowded market in Sadr City killed at least 14 people, local hospital officials said.”
2. “The Evolution of the Mental Hospital in Music Videos.” Moze Halperin traces the line from Björk and ’N Sync to JJ.
“In ’Violently Happy,’ the cell appears like a moonbounce, a space where childlike crazies can get out all their giddiness and rage (one of ’Violently Happy’s’ infantilized mental patients even gets a dolly that squeaks ’I’m the baby!’). The song was one of Björk’s first danceable tracks, and its opening image of a man bobbing his head dramatically up and down imitates both a gesture of inner turmoil and the head-banging freedom ’90s twenty-somethings must have felt painting the town red at one of those cool new techno clubs. The song’s title uses a negative to accentuate a positive, just as the video conflates mental illness with glee—it’s a deliberate artistic choice and an amazingly fun video, which happens to be kinda essentialist and based on a not-too-nuanced metaphor (a rarity for such a nuanced artist).”
3. “The Forgotten Stars of Silent Film.” The Library of Congress wants film buffs to shout out who—and what—they know during a series of special screenings.
“Once-famous starlets are no longer widely recognizable. Films that wowed audiences a century ago have been all but erased from collective memory. And so, for the third year, the Library of Congress is calling on film buffs, historians, and members of the public to help search for clues in old reels. The smallest fragment of a detail—like the furniture used in a film’s set design—may be the key to unraveling a forgotten work’s origins. Over the course of a weekend-long series of screenings at the National Audio-Visual Conservation Center in Culpeper, Virginia, next month, attendees will be asked to shout out potentially meaningful details in film as the watch—names of actors, locations, car models, and other clues that might help reveal a film’s origins. Film conservationists already know this approach works. After 204 such screenings so far, more than 100 films have been identified.”
4. “Films in Conversation.” Simon Abrams on J. Hoberman’s presentation of White House Butler Down.
“Viewed together, as a schizoid whole, White House Butler Down defensively reassure viewers with violent, nigh-on apocalyptic images. In one scene, the Capitol building explodes as Cecil and his wife Gloria (Oprah Winfrey) tearfully watch their son Louis (David Oyelowo) leave for college. And in an earlier scene, Foxx’s President Sawyer arrives at the White House with a chipper ’Be it ever so humble’ while Cecil’s father lies dead on his back in a cotton field. These conflicting images give new meaning to the incantatory phrase Cecil repeats to himself at beginning and end of The Butler when he describes how he performs his duties in the White House: ’You must look through your eyes, see what it is that they want, see what it is that they need, anticipate, bring a smile to the principal’s eyes.’ Hoberman’s two-headed project rejects its individual narratives’ similarities by stacking them on top of each other. Basically, he playfully agitated Light Industry participants with a florid, melancholic melodrama that frequently erupts with gunfire, and mushroom-cloud explosions.”
5. “For All of Louie’s Ambition, That One Ugly Scene Still Lingers.” Danielle Henderson and Matt Zoller Seitz converse about the show’s fourth season.
“So maybe it follows that what we saw between Louie and Pamela in the apartment can’t be trusted, either? That it’s just his interpretation of what happened? The second part of the Pamela arc begins with them in a modern-art gallery—that’s Louis C.K. and Pamela Adlon, who co-wrote the arc and is a producer as well as a co-star, giving you a frame to put around the entire season, indeed, the entire show. Every work of art in that gallery is there to provoke people, make them go, ’Are they fucking kidding with this?’ But then if you think that, you have to also allow for the possibility that Louis C.K. is using ’it’s modern art’ as a pretext to do whatever he wants and to be insulated against the social and critical consequences. If nothing is real, then nothing matters at an emotional level. Or does it? What a vortex he’s dragging us all into.”
Video of the Day: The video for OK Go’s “The Writing’s on the Wall”:
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