1. “Are We at Peak Superhero?” It seems like the comic-book bubble will never pop—but Marvel isn’t too big to fail
“There is a wishful whiff of ’too big to fail’ thinking, if not outright tulip fever, about this multi-studio scrum involving dozens of projects, billions of dollars, and the fervent belief that the audience will remain big enough to prevent these movies from cannibalizing one another. Shouldn’t the struggle of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., which was spun out of the highest-grossing comic-book movie in history and which could barely get through its freshman season, give everyone pause? Sure, execution counts: The second Captain America movie has outgrossed the first by $75 million because it’s better, and Spidey’s downward spiral is largely the fault of weak, repetitive storytelling (and also of a character too light and thin to support such somber and protracted attention). If Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. had been at its strongest from day one, perhaps we’d be talking about it as a major hit rather than, as the New York Times recently called it, a ’disappointment’ that proved ’inaccessible for many rank-and-file viewers.’”
2. “Seitz on The Americans: One of the Best Second Seasons of a Drama That I Can Recall” Matt Zoller Seitz explains why.
“Midway through what was already one of the best weeks for scripted TV since I became a TV critic, The Americans wrapped up one of the best second seasons of a drama I can recall. Written by creator Joe Weisberg and co-executive producer Joel Fields and directed by Daniel Sackheim, it was called ’The Echo,’ and like so many titles of Americans episodes, this one subtly teased out more than one definition. The most resonant is the idea that children are echoes of their parents, and that (incidentally or by design) the next generation in a country’s ideology is an echo of the one that came before.”
3. ”Star Wars Spinoff Hires Godzilla Director Gareth Edwards.” Gary Whitta is writing the script for the movie, which is set for release on Dec. 16, 2016.
“The Star Wars project marks an amazing career trajectory for Edwards, who went from making a small creature feature for $500,000, 2010’s Monsters, to getting the assignment to take on Godzilla, a monster in need of a 21st century rehabilitation. The mission was a success, with the Legendary/Warner Bros. movie overperforming when it opened last weekend, grossing $93.1 million. The movie also received strong critical reviews and plenty of fanboy love. ’Gareth’s filmmaking talent makes him one of his generation’s most creative and visionary directors,’ said Legendary Entertainment’s chairman and CEO Thomas Tull in a statement in response to the Star Wars hire. ’The plan has always been for Gareth to direct a different film before we started on another Godzilla, but who knew it would a Star Wars installment? We have a great plan in store for Godzilla fans and I am looking forward to seeing Gareth’s imprint on the Star Wars universe.’”
4. “Trigger Warnings and the Novelist’s Mind.” Jay Caspian Kang on trigger warnings in literature.
“Out on the far end of the agreement machine, feminist writers and academics defended the use of trigger warnings, and tried to explain their utility and their history. The modern iteration of ’trigger warning,’ or ’TW,’ as it’s commonly written, came out of the feminist blogosphere, and, like many other terms used within insular, politically active communities, addressed a specific need. Roughly ten years ago, editors at feminist and progressive Web sites realized that they needed a way of encouraging frank and candid conversation about sexual assault without catching readers unaware. Many survivors of sexual assault experience symptoms of post-traumatic stress; graphic depictions of rape or violent attacks can trigger flashbacks, nightmares, and crippling anxiety. The editors theorized that a warning posted before disturbing narratives could allow readers to prepare for what might be an upsetting but, ultimately, necessary conversation.”
5. “Fast and Furious.” Nick Pinkerton on Film Society of Lincoln Center’s Fassbinder retrospective, “Romantic Anarchist.”
“Part of Fassbinder’s enduring appeal is certainly the cult of personality. In slouch hat, soiled leather, and what looks like a pasted on beard, he has the deportment of a butch beer-and-pretzels brawler from Bavaria, while his films betray the feminine soul of an aesthete. (Wearing drag, former Fassbinder actress Eva Mattes plays a thinly-disguised version of the director in Radu Gabrea’s 1984 A Man Like EVA, which postulates his hermaphroditic nature.) Fassbinder’s style is both florid and austere; his outsized oeuvre is surly, rowdy, uncouth; his gauche death entirely of a piece with his fatalistic work. But if the Fassbinder brand survives, it’s because his art is exactly that: a brand; one that sears to the touch, and leaves its mark on you. Who can see The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant (1972) or Ali: Fear Eats the Soul (1974), for example, and think about sex, love, and class in precisely the same way afterwards?”
Video of the Day: Morgan Freeman on helium:
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