1. “Joe Cocker, Iconic Rock Singer, Dead at 70.” “With a Little Help from My Friends” singer passes away following battle with lung cancer.
“Singer-songwriter Joe Cocker, known for his distinct, bluesy voice and his heartfelt renditions of Beatles classics, died in his Colorado home on Monday following a battle with lung cancer. One of Rolling Stone’s 100 Greatest Singers, Cocker was 70. The British singer’s agent, Barrie Marshall, confirmed the death to the BBC, adding that Cocker was ’simply unique’ and ’it will be impossible to fill the space he leaves in our hearts.’ ’John Robert Cocker, known to family, friends, his community and fans around the world as Joe Cocker, passed away on December 22nd, 2014 after a hard fought battle with small cell lung cancer,’ Sony Music wrote in a statement, via iTV. ’Joe Cocker was born 5/20/1944 in Sheffield, England where he lived until his early 20s. In 2007 he was awarded the OBE by the Queen of England. His international success as a blues/rock singer began in 1964 and continues till this day. Joe created nearly 40 albums and toured extensively around the globe.’”
2. “Some Disenchanted Evening.” Adam Nayman, for Reverse Shot, on Into the Woods.
“A genuinely great theatrical artist whose previous collaborations with moviemakers have historically yielded mixed results, Sondheim has every right to mutilate his own work or else outsource the violence to another party, especially one willing to pay a pretty penny for it (more than some magic beans, one imagines). And so long as he doesn’t end up crying wolf about the final result, he doesn’t risk being written off by his core constituency. But it’s a pretty acrobatic feat of rhetoric for Sondheim to suggest that the thoroughly innocuous new iteration of Into the Woods delivered by director Rob Marshall functions as a conversation piece for the enlightened as well as a Christmas Day diversion for the masses. Sondheim’s 1987 fairy-tale pastiche is plenty didactic without having to pull this sort of double duty.”
3. “Angelina Jolie on Unbroken, Curse Words, and Her Favorite Coen Bros. Movie.” Kyle Buchanan sits down with the actress/director on the eve of her second film’s theatrical release.
“One of the things that was very beautiful about the men of that generation is that they were very straightforward. They were responsible young men who’d come through the Depression, who were fighting for their country, and who took pride in the way they held themselves and the way they spoke. It seemed too easy for us to have a film that leaned too heavily on modern aspects of manhood. We wanted to see the classic young man, and celebrate the beauty and nobility of it. Their language was a big part of that. The actors had to find other ways of expressing themselves, so we had a whole list of things to say when you want to say a bad word. A lot of shucks and oh boys. It brought out a different side of the actors, their own self-respect and their respect for the generation before them. They pushed themselves in a different way.”
4. “25 titles added to National Film Registry.” Among the titles: 13 Lakes, The Big Lebowski, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Ruggles of Red Gap, and Saving Private Ryan.
“Steven Spielberg’s 1998 World War II epic, Saving Private Ryan, Joel and Ethan Coen’s cult comedy The Big Lebowski and the 1976 drama Please Don’t Bury Me Alive!—considered by historians to be the first Chicano feature film—are among the 25 titles added to the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress. The selections are to be announced Wednesday by the librarian of Congress, James H. Billington, who recognizes the pictures as ’cultural, historical or aesthetic cinematic treasures.’ ’The National Film Registry showcases the extraordinary diversity of America’s film heritage and the disparate strands making it so vibrant,’ read a statement from Billington. ’By preserving these films, we protect a crucial element of American creativity, culture and history.’”
5. “How a Nickelodeon Cartoon Became One of the Most Powerful, Subversive Shows of 2014.” Vanity Fair’s Joanna Robinson on The Legend of Korra.
“It’s always tempting to watch something you’re not supposed to, but this week in particular, with its Sony hacks and cinematic censorship, the notion of watching something forbidden feels like an especially political move. The Legend of Korra was never quite forbidden, never completely canceled, perhaps due to that lingering Avatar goodwill. However, during the show’s first season, it aired in a coveted Saturday-morning slot. After killing off a character on-screen in the Season 1 finale, Korra was considered too risqué and adult for the Saturday-morning crowd and was moved to Friday nights. But Korra continued to air dark material. That, coupled with less-than-stellar ratings, an ill-timed leak of episodes, and any number of mysterious behind-the-scenes factors, resulted in the surprising move to online-only Korra. In its final seasons, Korra became too dangerous, too risky for Nick to air. But that outsider status made it downright irresistible to certain viewers. Especially teens.”
Video of the Day: Better Call Saul gets an official trailer:
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