1. “A Small Batch from Life’s Work.” J. Hoberman on Aleksei German.
“Befitting a movie its maker strove to realize his entire professional life, Hard to Be a God evokes an imagined past. Its setting is the kingdom of Arkanar on an Earthlike planet where society has evolved only as far as the Middle Ages or, perhaps, skipping the Renaissance, gone directly from feudal barbarism to barbaric fascism. Literacy is a capital crime. Russians are dispatched in a team from their achieved Utopia. Discreetly employing advanced technology, they live among the Arkanarians, observing their primitive ways, including coups and executions, while doing their ineffectual best to nurture positive human developments.”
2. ” Harvey Weinstein On The Imitation Game, Best Picture Dissing, Sony Hack, Netflix and Quentin Tarantino.” Deadline’s Mike Fleming Jr. chats with Weinstein about his current and future projects.
“If you want the communal experience that American Sniper offers you right now, it’s crazy great word of mouth and crazy brilliant performance and that works in the theater. It’s communal. I’m a movie theater guy. Quentin Tarantino is just starting The Hateful Eight, and we’re shooting it in 70 mm. That’s how it’s going to be initially seen. We did it with The Master. I love the pure art form of cinema but you have to be open to new technology. If we had this conversation 40 years ago we’d have said, this box called television, don’t you think it’s going to ruin movies? Not when American Sniper is going to gross 300 million dollars in three weeks. And a movie like The Imitation Game with its unlikely protagonist, the so-called tough subject matter is going to gross 100 million dollars before the Oscars and do The King’s Speech business. Tell me again how TV f*cked the movies? Ted, by the way, a lot of guys talk bottom line, but you talk with him and you’d be hard pressed to find somebody who knows more about the history of movies, especially documentaries. One of the things I love about Netflix is Ted and Cindy are both so hands on and into the nitty gritty. All passion.”
3. “Bombast: True Enough.” Nick Pinkerton on fact-checking, and the lack thereof, in The Grand Budapest Hotel, Selma, American Sniper, and more.
“Of the above nominees, only Budapest doesn’t use the figures of real men and women who lived through the events depicted, setting its scene in the Republic of Zubrowka, a stand-in for any of the eminently civilized Central European nations that would descend into the twin barbarisms of fascism and communism during the 20th century—like the real Budapest from which John Lukacs fled in 1946. As such, it escapes certain of the criticisms that the other films have been subjected to—such as the ’expert’ op-ed, in which the facts as given (or elided) by the movie are scrupulously compared to the known historical facts, and as often as not found wanting. This is, of course, because most filmmaking is, to borrow from Lukacs, closer to the providence of the Irish biddy—it deals in the true enough, not the strictly true.”
4. “The Ownership of History.” Charles P. Pierce on Selma and the way we look at America.
“Selma forces an important issue. If the Civil Rights Movement belonged to all Americans—and, therefore, if its memory belongs to all Americans—then that ownership must be an honest one. The Movement can no longer be a device by which white Americans feel good about themselves. It no longer can be used as history’s truncheon against the legitimate social, cultural, and political aspirations of the people who are its truest heirs. For nearly 40 years now, the forces of reaction have tried to drown out this simple truth, or twist it beyond recognition so that they could use it for their own selfish purposes. For nearly 40 years now, the Republican party has married itself to a conservative movement that has sought to obscure the events on the Edmund Pettus Bridge as surely as the tear gas once did, and to obscure those events for the purposes of gutting everything that was accomplished, and gutting everything that was accomplished for the same reason people didn’t want those things accomplished in the first place.”
5. “Lee Daniels on How Empire’s Gay Content is Changing Minds.” The writer, director, and producer’s Fox hit is further evidence of TV’s growing, increasingly diverse embrace of LGBT visibility.
“’I pitched the pilot to [Timbaland], and he came back with this incredible, breathtaking music in 48 hours,’ Daniels says. ’And soon it was time for me to show him the pilot. My instinct told me to leave when Jamal and [his boyfriend] Michael kiss, so I got up to go to the bathroom. When I came back, I knew [Timbaland] was fascinated by seeing his music in the work, but he said, ’Those guys kissing, man. Wow.’ [The comment] could be construed negatively or positively, so I didn’t push it. I just didn’t wanna go there. Again, my instinct—or maybe my inner child or something—told me not to.’ When Timbaland’s wife and children were also brought in to view the premiere episode, Daniels says that the music maestro asked that his kids step out of the room during the kissing scene, and Daniels, claiming to be ’in work mode,’ opted not to ’get into a political conversation or give an opinion.’ Since then, though, Daniels says that Timbaland, whom he refers to as a ’buddy,’ has changed his tune.”
Video of the Day: Mia Hansen-Løve’s Eden gets a new trailer:
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