1. “Luise Rainer, Hollywood golden era Oscar winner, dies aged 104.” Actress Luise Rainer, who became the first winner of consecutive Oscars in the 1930s, has died at the age of 104.
“The German-born star was named best actress in 1936 and 1937—a feat achieved by only five actors in Academy Awards history to date. Her achievement made her a force in the golden age of Hollywood cinema, but was also a curse, making her last major film in 1943. She settled in London and made occasional appearances on film and TV. Rainer appeared in US small screen series The Loveboat in 1984, while her last substantial film role came in 1998, playing opposite Michael Gambon and Dominic West in The Gambler. The actress appeared in a number of German films before being talent-spotted by Hollywood studio MGM and making her debut in 1935. Just a year later she scooped an Academy Award for her performance in The Great Ziegfeld, playing the legendary theatrical impresario’s wife. In one famous scene, her face was tear-stained as she congratulated her former husband on his marriage to another actress. The following year, her portrayal of a Chinese peasant in The Good Earth won her a second statuette, at a time when Oscar winners were disclosed some time before the ceremony.”
2. “Why Idris Elba Can’t Play James Bond.” Let’s be honest here.
“The above is Ian Fleming’s description of James Bond from the novel From Russia With Love. In other books, Fleming described Bond as looking like musician Hoagy Carmichael. As such, we’ve never gotten a screen incarnation of 007 who matches Fleming’s description perfectly, and across 50+ years there has been quite a bit of variation. Black hair, brown hair, blonde hair. Blue eyes, brown eyes. Scottish, Welsh, Irish, even an Australian. The persona, too, tends to shift with each portrayal: Sean Connery’s earthy, predatory swagger; Roger Moore’s upper crust dandyism; Daniel Craig’s ’blunt instrument’ interpretation. But whatever the variations thus far, there’s a glaring commonality among these actors which—let’s just say it—clearly leaves Idris Elba out of the running. And I get it; it’s trendy to shake up formula, and change things just for the sake of change, but someone needs to be unafraid to point out the obvious here. With apologies to Mr. Elba, James Bond simply cannot have a mustache.”
3. “The Pope Thinks Climate Change Is a Major Threat. So Do American Catholics.” Most Catholics say global warming is a “crisis” or a “major problem.”
“Pope Francis, the leader the Catholic Church, is closing out 2014 in his typically headline-grabbing fashion. He used a traditional Christmas address to issue a scathing takedown of the political squabbling that infects Vatican bureaucracy, and he was also credited as a key backroom player in the thawing of US-Cuba relations. Next on his list? Climate change. Over the weekend, the Guardian reported that the pope will issue the first-ever comprehensive set of Vatican teachings on climate change, in the form of an encyclical—or ’papal letter’—sent to churches worldwide. He will also personally lobby for climate action action in a series of high profile meetings ahead of the all-important UN global warming negotiations in Paris next year.”
4. “Top 10 Title Sequences of 2014.” 2014 was an incredible year for title design and for the first time ever, Art of the Title is publishing a list of the top 10 title sequences of the year. After all, who better to cover an entire year’s worth of title design?
“Sarofsky’s minimalist main-on-end titles for Captain America: The Winter Soldier exemplify the newfound function of the end credits for Marvel Studios. Perfectly distilling the essence of the Russo brothers’ action-packed potboiler, the sequence plays up familiar superhero iconography and pares down the themes and characters to their most basic elements. Stars and stripes, shields and skulls, gears and tentacles, a grand conspiracy unfolding as heroes and villains battle it out in silhouette. With nods to both the graphic stylings of title designer Saul Bass and the innovative work of Silver Age comic book artist Jim Steranko, the Winter Soldier title sequence is one of Marvel’s boldest efforts to date.”
5. “The Crucial Lessons of Democracy in Selma.” Richard Brody on the Ava DuVernay film.
“Movies about media are special because movies are media, so these movies reveal much about the way their directors think about their art—and about its place in the world. That’s one reason why Selma is a distinctive political film. No less than an inside-Hollywood drama or a backstage musical, Selma tears away the curtain on the making of images—indeed, some of the most important images in American history. The movie tells the story of how these images were made, and shows the colossal sacrifices endured in the effort to make them. It’s a movie about history and the creation of history—and, in the process, it takes its own place in history. That built-in historicity is essential to the movie. It exemplifies what’s best in Selma while also revealing the limits of its effectiveness.”
Video of the Day: Erlend Lavik on the style in The Wire:
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