1. “Jared Leto and Michael Douglas’s homophobic Golden Globes speeches show the worst of Hollywood.” The Dallas Buyers Club and Behind the Candelabra stars get awkward laughs at gay folks’ expense.
“It’s an actor’s job to prepare for a role in whatever way the script demands; it may have been difficult for Leto to wax his entire body, but it’s sort of a weird punchline for a person whose entire role was about body discomfort and the painful modifications one must make to feel okay with oneself. Leto got money and at least one award for playing his part in Dallas Buyers Club; it’s strange that he didn’t take into account the notion that his struggle was not, in fact, the most important one involved in his role.”
2. “Israel Bids Farewell to Ariel Sharon, a ’Complex Man.’” Israel’s 11th prime minister was eulogized on Monday as a fighter and a pragmatic politician whose life was intertwined with the land of Israel, whose security he defended relentlessly.
“Mr. Sharon died Saturday at 85 after eight years in a state of minimal consciousness following a stroke that aborted his prime ministership when, some analysts said, he seemed on the brink of historic moves to end Israel’s intractable conflict with the Palestinians. But he was long criticized internationally for his aggressive military endeavors and building of Jewish settlements in occupied Palestinian territory.”
3. “Bombast #123.” Nick Pinkerton’s best films of 2013…sort of.
“Writing ’I think’ and ’I feel’ makes for unnecessary clutter, but the fact that I don’t prefix sentences thusly doesn’t mean that I suffer from the illusion that my opinions are universal truths handed down from on high. Even when lustily wielding my flaming sword of dismissive disdain, I’m always bedeviled by a niggling sense that it’s me who’s failed the movies, rather than the movies that have failed me. Certainly the circumstances of viewing can color one’s reception: Maybe I shouldn’t have watched Johnnie To’s Drug War sandwiched between re-viewings of King of New York and On Dangerous Ground, in whose company it looked decidedly like a bagatelle? Such are the perils of comparison—though certainly any one of the abovementioned non-starters might look like a masterpiece if viewed in close proximity to, say, Nicolas Winding Refn’s Only God Forgives, which is an indefensible, racist pile of offal. (This is an actual universal truth.).”
4. “The Cloud Over the Wolf” On the rise of the “Leonardo DiCaprio” character.
“There’s a hint of a suspicion of impermanence about Leonardo DiCaprio’s work that’s peculiar considering the enviable position he’s established in the Hollywood food chain. Along with a few other actors, notably Denzel Washington and particularly George Clooney, DiCaprio is someone who appears to be able to afford to accept only event film roles that prize him as the center ring of an elaborate circus that’s almost always presided over by a minted A-list auteur. For better and sometimes worse, a DiCaprio film never feels like a ’for hire’ job, as every performance feels embarked upon as a gesture of clearing a hurdle. Whereas Washington and Clooney exude an entitlement that sometimes borders distastefully on the smug, DiCaprio reliably projects an aura of quasi-desperation. He never seems comfortable with himself, and he never seems to be accepting roles that fit snugly into a prescribed wheelhouse.”
5. ” The war over Wolf of Wall Street.” Does Scorsese’s would-be masterpiece glorify greed and debauchery or attack them? And how do we know for sure?
“Some works of art come with explicit meanings attached and some don’t, but meaning is an anarchic beast, a shape-shifter that never stays still, and the relationship between what books or movies or paintings ’say’ and how they affect us is never entirely clear. It’s obviously prejudicial to compare Picasso’s most famous painting to a brand new movie whose legacy is unknown, but let us note that Guernica drew mixed reviews and sparked heated debate on its 1937 unveiling; many leftists thought it lacked a clear political point of view. That’s roughly where we find ourselves with Wolf of Wall Street, a deliriously and deliberately hyperbolic satire that has become, since its Christmas Day release, the latest litmus test of cultural politics. It has pitted feuding camps of film critics against each other, sometimes within the same publication: David Denby of the New Yorker was alternately nettled, bored and scandalized by Wolf; after grousing that the movie is ’a bit of a trap for critics’ and that he may be considered squeamish for disliking it, he ultimately calls it ’disgusting, obscene filmmaking.’ Richard Brody, the magazine’s ultra-erudite film blogger, took an opposite tack, describing Wolf as ’an exuberant, hyper-energized riot’ and perhaps Scorsese’s crowning masterpiece. (Yes, the world of New York film criticism is very small, and I’m on cordial terms with both of them.).”
Video of the Day: The video for Cass McCombs and Karen Black’s “Brighter!”:
Links for the Day: A collection of links to items that we hope will spark discussion. We encourage our readers to submit candidates for consideration to firstname.lastname@example.org and to converse in the comments section.