1. “Jenny Slate Interview.” Dana Stevens talks earnestness, abortion, and Marcel the Shell with the Obvious Child star.
“SNL was a similarly disillusioning experience. ’Thirty Rock’s a romantic place, and there are so many romantic things about it. The costumes have been there forever. You look in a pair of pants, and in Sharpie it says GILDA in them,’ Slate says of her time on the show. ’But it was a really weird disappointment when I got there and realized how foolish it was that what I expected it would be was from the expectations of a 7-year-old. And that they didn’t actually want my creative input as a woman.’”
2. ”Americathon” Ferdy on Films on the 1979 film, part of the White Elephant Blogathon.”
“Americathon’s foresight is extremely patchy, but often notable, accurately conceiving a future China gone raving capitalist, the collapse of the Soviet Union, the reconstruction of Vietnam as a resort destination, the emergence of vastly wealthy Native Americans, the further debasement of high office by the telegenic, reality TV, aspects of modern environmentalism, and even the once-unthinkable longevity of ’60s rock bands like the Beach Boys. The future China isn’t just capitalistic—it defeated the Soviet Union ’in table tennis and a nuclear war,’ and has become a fast-food empire. Its most popular export is the Chang Kai Chef Restaurant chain with its biggest seller, the Mao Tse Tongue on Rye. Sam Birdwater’s repeated crying-poor protests that ’I have to eat, too!’ in apologetically insisting on loan repayment have a ring that’s become ever more familiar in recent years from plutocrats. Nike’s greatest days were still ahead of it, but it was already well known enough for the film to spin a joke around, for Birdwater’s mighty conglomerate is called ’National Indian Knitting Enterprises,’ specialising in a raft of fashionable industries like running shoes and tracksuits. Whilst the popularity of sportswear and casual clothes hasn’t quite reached the point that Americathon suggests it would, where everyone wears it all the time (even the Americathon host wears a kind of evening dress tracksuit), this is one of the film’s subtler and more pervasive gags.”
3. “Fire in the Belly.” When a lead actress has a baby on board, Hollywood gets creative.
“It hasn’t always been this way. Not so long ago actresses who found themselves ’with child’ risked losing their jobs. In 1941, director Preston Sturges confronted Veronica Lake—better known for her figure than her acting chops—about rumors of a pregnancy before shooting his classic Sullivan’s Travels. Despite her stardom, Lake feared she would be fired if she told the truth, so she didn’t. When she showed up on set six months pregnant, Sturges was outraged, but it was too late to make a casting change. Legendary costume designer Edith Head hid the pregnancy beautifully, and a body double was brought in for some scenes. But costar Joel McCrea was so angry about Lake’s deception that he refused to work with her again (plus he said she couldn’t remember her lines). It gets worse. In 1942, Judy Garland—20 and pregnant—was encouraged by MGM executives to have an abortion rather than sacrifice her girlish image. The studio’s publicity chief accompanied her to the procedure.
4. “Bombast: Williamsburg on Screen.” Nick Pinkerton on a few films shot in his hood.
“After Laws of Gravity and New Jersey Drive—which also makes use of Williamsburg locations—Gomez lost control of his auteur narrative, though now he appears to make a good living directing episodic television, a Blue Bloods here, a Chicago P.D. there. Some people follow the paychecks and move with the times while others, like Gomez’s old associate Hal Hartley, resolutely do not. Gomez graduated SUNY Purchase alongside Hartley, and has editorial credits on both Hartley’s The Unbelievable Truth (89) and Trust (90), though for our purposes I’m interested in 1991’s Theory of Achievement, in which Gomez appears in cigar-and-shades Jean-Luc Godard drag, on the periphery of a gang of ’young, middle-class, white, college-educated, unskilled, broke, drunk’ Williamsburg bohemians indulging in the whole host of Left Bank affectations. Among their number is an accordion player who solos on a song called ’Let Me Win Lotto Tonight.’”
5. “A Stanley Kubrick Nerd-Off with Mad Men’s Matthew Weiner!” Plus: coming to grips with Don Draper’s imminent departure, and how West Side Story inspired Bert Cooper’s farewell.
“It’s important to me too. I’ve got to tell you, the title of that episode is ’The Monolith.’ It’s such a cool thing to me that people even know what the titles of episodes are. When I started off in TV, the only time you’d hear titles was at awards shows. But anyway, Erin Levy, who wrote that, likes 2001, but she did not intend a reference in that manner. She just meant monolith literally, as a big stone object that people pray to. When I talked to her about it, like, ’Oh, 2001,’ that wasn’t what she was thinking. She was like, ’Oh, right.’ But the idea that the computer is this big thing is great. I was perfectly happy with that [parallel]. The HAL callback for the computer room in episode 5, from Ginsberg’s point of view [where he lipreads, or thinks he lipreads, Jim and Lou’s conversation], that to me is about somebody who has seen the movie. Ginsberg has seen the movie.”
Video of the Day: Cristina Álvarez López and Adrian Martin’s video essay on Brian De Palma’s vision:
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