1. “Mario Cumo R.I.P.” The ex-New York governor and liberal beacon dies at 82.
“Mario M. Cuomo, the three-term governor of New York who commanded the attention of the country with a compelling public presence, a forceful defense of liberalism and his exhaustive ruminations about whether to run for president, died on Thursday at his home in Manhattan. He was 82. His family confirmed the death, which occurred only hours after Mr. Cuomo’s son Andrew M. Cuomo was inaugurated in Manhattan for a second term as governor. Mario Cuomo led New York during a turbulent time, 1983 through 1994. His ambitions for an activist government were thwarted by recession. He found himself struggling with the State Legislature not over what the government should do but over what programs should be cut, and what taxes should be raised, simply to balance the budget. Still, no matter the problems he found in Albany, Mr. Cuomo burst beyond the state’s boundaries to personify the liberal wing of his national party and become a source of unending fascination and, ultimately, frustration for Democrats, whose leaders twice pressed him to run for president, in 1988 and 1992, to no avail.”
2. “Depiction of Lyndon B. Johnson in Selma raises hackles.” Critics of the film question the accuracy of LBJ’s role in civil rights.
“The sparring over Selma, which is set for wide release on Jan. 9, has certainly taken on a populists-versus-establishmentarians tinge. In his op-ed article, Mr. [Joseph A.] Califano wrote that the Selma marches were ’L.B.J.’s idea,’ citing a transcript of a phone call two months before the marches in which Johnson urged Dr. King to generate white political support for a voting rights bill by seeking out ’the worst condition that you run into’ in the South and getting images of racist brutality widely circulated in the news media. In a Twitter post on Sunday, Ms. [Ava] DuVernay called the notion that Selma was Johnson’s idea ’jaw dropping and offensive’ to the ’black citizens who made it so.’ People, Ms. DuVernay added, should ’interrogate history’ for themselves. (A spokeswoman for Paramount Pictures, the distributor of Selma, said that Ms. DuVernay was not available for comment for this article.)”
3. “The NYPD’s ’Work Stoppage’ Is Surreal.” Matt Taibbi on how, in an alternate universe, the New York Police might have just solved the national community-policing controversy.
“It would be amazing if this NYPD protest somehow brought parties on all sides to a place where we could all agree that policing should just go back to a policy of officers arresting people ’when they have to.’ Because it’s wrong to put law enforcement in the position of having to make up for budget shortfalls with parking tickets, and it’s even more wrong to ask its officers to soak already cash-strapped residents of hot spot neighborhoods with mountains of summonses as part of a some stats-based crime-reduction strategy. Both policies make people pissed off at police for the most basic and understandable of reasons: if you’re running into one, there’s a pretty good chance you’re going to end up opening your wallet.”
4. “Splendor in the Grass.” J. Hoberman on Paul Thomas Anderson’s Inherent Vice.
“Thanks to this overabundance of character acting, Anderson’s Inherent Vice has a cartoon density. The filmmaker has hewed out a recognizable simulacrum of Pynchon’s impacted, manic world and approximated the writer’s facetious yet erudite tone. Could anyone have done more? The Coen brothers’ most endearing movie, The Big Lebowski (1998), predates Pynchon’s novel by a decade, and who’s to say that their humorously cannabinated noir wasn’t an inspiration for his? Still, the brothers’ temptation to trump Pynchon’s compulsive shtick with their own particular smarm would have likely proved irresistible. A movie fully inhabiting its own naïveté and confusion, Richard Kelly’s sprawling Southland Tales (2006) may be more successfully Pynchonesque than Inherent Vice, but it is also closer to self-parody.”
5. “Which Movies to See in January.” Richard Brody makes a list, recommending Bruno Dumont Li’l Quinquin, Abderrahmane Sissako’s Timbuktu, and more.
“Dumont is in his fifties; it’s rare for artists in mid-career to make such great shifts in tone and advances in scope, but he has achieved it with flair. He seems to be filming with a burst of energy and finding a palpable joy in newfound cinematic power. Dumont filmed Li’l Quinquin in the area where he grew up; he knows the places and the people (and includes many locals in the cast). For all the grim doings that he depicts, for all the ugliness and violence underlying the calm surfaces of country life, Dumont binds the diverse moods and impulses—the bumptious comedy and the steadfast devotion, the free-spirited exuberance and the burning hatred—with a serene and vigorous exaltation in seeing and in being. His alert and poised camera captures, with seeming hypersensitivity, deep and hidden harmonies running through great spans of time. The three-hour-plus duration is essential and even seems brisk.”
Video of the Day: Listen to “Only One,” Kanye West’s collaboration with Paul McCartney and the first single off his upcoming album:
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