1. “Making History.” Manohla Dargis on Selma and how its director, Ava DuVernay, seeks a different equality.
“It will take more than these two filmmakers to disrupt the industry’s sexism, which has long shut women out from directing movies and, increasingly, shuts them out on screen, too. Notably, Ms. DuVernay and Ms. Jolie, having made movies about women, have now made the leap to bigger stakes with stories centered on men. I hope their movies burn up the box office, but I also hope they return to movies about women. We need those stories, and these days, female directors are often the only ones interested in them. Gender equality is an undeniable imperative. But it’s also essential to the future of the movies: This American art became great with stories about men and women, not just a superhero and some token chick.”
2. “Chris Rock Pens Blistering Essay on Hollywood’s Race Problem: ’It’s a White Industry.’” For THR, the Top Five writer, director and star tackles Hollywood’s third rail as he explains what it’s really like to be black in the entertainment industry.
“It’s a white industry. Just as the NBA is a black industry. I’m not even saying it’s a bad thing. It just is. And the black people they do hire tend to be the same person. That person tends to be female and that person tends to be Ivy League. And there’s nothing wrong with that. As a matter of fact, that’s what I want for my daughters. But something tells me that the life my privileged daughters are leading right now might not make them the best candidates to run the black division of anything. And the person who runs the black division of a studio should probably have worked with black people at some point in their life. Clint Culpepper [a white studio chief who specializes in black movies] does a good job at Screen Gems because he’s the kind of guy who would actually go see Best Man Holiday. But how many black men have you met working in Hollywood? They don’t really hire black men. A black man with bass in his voice and maybe a little hint of facial hair? Not going to happen. It is what it is. I’m a guy who’s accepted it all.”
3. “The Obsessions of Werner Herzog.” For the Times Literary Supplement, Ian Sinclair on A Guide for the Perplexed, a collection of conversations between film scholar Paul Cronin and Herzog.
“The voice. That voice. The forest as an oozing, fecund sump of original darkness and interspecies fornication. Birds screaming in pain. Monkeys howling like the legions of the damned. And deluded humans, those naked forked beings, babbling their eco-political plea bargains to an indifferent destiny, as they are broken on the wheel of fate. Until there is just one heretic left, with cones of light beaming, burning from his unblinking eyes. The sweeping gestures. The leaps from rock to rock. And, always, that voice. The seductive drone of reason from an undeceived witness to horror. He sounds amused, engaged: implicated. The voice of a village Bavarian from the mountains. A long-striding walker. A world-weary autodidact devouring the classics: Virgil, Homer, and the never-ending voyage that refuses to bring him home to the black hole of unresolved history that is never going away. He is a self-proclaimed searcher for the ’ecstatic truth’ of Euripides.”
4. “Difficult Women: The Oscar Race and the Looming, Avoidable Best Actress Nightmare.” Over at Grantland, Mark Harris traces a link between the work of the Oscar prognosticator and the votes cast by the Oscar voter.
“Right now, on the prognosticator-compilation site GoldDerby, the six women considered to be contending for the five Best Actress Oscar nominations are (alphabetically) Amy Adams for Big Eyes, Felicity Jones for The Theory of Everything, Julianne Moore for Still Alice, Rosamund Pike for Gone Girl, Hilary Swank for The Homesman, and Reese Witherspoon for Wild. As of this writing, every single one of the 26 predictors has picked at least four of these six women as probable nominees; many have picked five. You can say that this consensus reflects weary realism, but I think it’s actually peer-driven; nobody wants to deviate too much from the predictor mainstream, and the aggregated result creates the illusion that the concrete of the race is hardening—an illusion that becomes a reality when distributor campaign teams (which have positioned many of these candidates as favorites with predictors and media folk in the first place) start to believe it and apportion their resources accordingly. It’s a vicious circle of self-reinforcing complacency that only becomes more maddening when it eventually, inevitably trickles down to voters.”
5. “A Look Through The Sony Pictures Data Hack: This Is As Bad As It Gets.” From details of named employees’ medical histories to an unreleased pilot script written by the creator of Breaking Bad, the unprecedented leak of Sony Pictures data will reverberate for a long time to come.
“The roughly 40GB of company information now available online sat on company servers without encryption, with a vast majority of the sensitive personal and financial files containing no password protection. Currently, the stolen data trove is available to download, potentially placing the information in the hands of any hacker, scammer, criminal, media organization, or curious citizen who knows their way around a torrent file. The release of such sensitive data could easily eclipse the leaking of five unreleased films, in terms of its impact on the company’s bottom line. ’Financially it will cost more to clean up this mess than what they would lose at the box office,’ said a movie industry source who requested anonymity because of ties to Sony. ’Firewalls, consultants, all that stuff is expensive.’”
Video of the Day: Bill de Blasio speaks on Eric Garner decision:
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.