1. “Marin Scorsese on The Searchers.” The legendary director writes for The Hollywood Reporter about the troubling John Wayne western and the new book about it by Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Glenn Frankel.
“First, apart from being an American epic, The Searchers also is a John Wayne Western; for many, even at this late date in film history, that’s still an excuse to ignore it. Secondly, it doesn’t go down quite as easily as the pictures mentioned above. Like all great works of art, it’s uncomfortable. The core of the movie is deeply painful. Every time I watch it—and I’ve seen it many, many times since its first run in 1956—it haunts and troubles me. The character of Ethan Edwards is one of the most unsettling in American cinema. In a sense, he’s of a piece with Wayne’s persona and his body of work with Ford and other directors like Howard Hawks and Henry Hathaway. It’s the greatest performance of a great American actor. (Not everyone shares this opinion. For me, Wayne has only become more impressive over time.)”
2. “The Art of the Unease.” Mark Harris on The Jinx, Serial, and the new true-crime boom.
“We engage with murder mysteries in part because we like being in a state of suspense, a kind of not-knowing that gives way to maybe-knowing that makes the eventual knowing all the sweeter. But I think we also want our presuppositions confirmed. For instance: Like many New Yorkers, I have a special relationship to the phrase ’real estate magnate.’ We walk down streets that are shadowy because these people’s works have obliterated the sun; our skyline is defined by their rule-bending and profiteering. They are, in many ways, the Batman villains of our real-life Gotham, and, like ’club promoter’ or ’hedge fund manager,’ they reside for me in a category where, if they’re accused of anything, I’m pretty much going to presume that they’re as guilty as a blond frat boy or a Russian sex trafficker on SVU.”
3. “Bombast: Notes on the Vanity Film.” Nick Pinkerton isn’t easily shocked.
“If you are a bored teenager making movies just for the fun of the thing, your amateur efforts fall under the auspices of backyard filmmaking, a phenomenon that I have written about in the past. If you begin making self-financed movies starring yourself and your cohort of friends in your twenties or even into your thirties, with or without the prospect of financial gain, you will be safely working in the moderately respectable established tradition of American independent filmmaking—though this doesn’t come without increasing attendant risk of being accused of narcissism, as in the cases of Swanberg, Dunham, et al. When you start making movies in middle age, using your personal fortune, you haven’t even got the excuse of heedless youth, and the risk of appearing a creeper is high.”
4. “A Portrait of the Artist As an Older Man.” Richard Brody on Seymour: An Introduction.
“Music is the center of the film and the source of its delights. [Ethan] Hawke shows [Seymour] Bernstein’s passionate knowledge at work, as when he plays the beginning of Beethoven’s Fourth Piano Concerto while selecting a piano from the Steinway basement or recalls his experience as a student and colleague of the great British pianist Clifford Curzon. Bernstein teaches students with a blend of revelatory nuance in analyzing scores and sensitivity to the intimately physical side of piano playing. Clips of his performance of Schumann’s Fantasie, op. 17, at the climactic Steinway concert are thrilling. For classical-music lovers, the movie is a treat, albeit a mixed one. It’s a source of exalted moments and a springboard for big ideas—but some of those moments and ideas evoke fractures in Bernstein’s world view and Hawke’s filmmaking. Nonetheless, Hawke places his own personal conflicts in the film, often using them as the motive for his ongoing dialogue with Bernstein.”
5. “Horror-movie music is coming back from the dead.” The Dissolve’s Matt Barone interviews Rich Vreeland, a.k.a. Disasterpeace.
“Vreeland’s gamer style helps It Follows’ score accomplish what every other horror-movie score made in the last several years couldn’t: it repurposes horror’s most beloved and influential scores in a modernized way that avoids pastiche. Whereas Vreeland didn’t necessarily know he was reinventing the wheel, Snipes actively tried to subvert horror’s cherished music with Starry Eyes. ’I love Carpenter and Goblin, and I had already done an intentionally retro score with Room 237,’ says Snipes. ’With Starry Eyes, I came to the realization that these sounds can’t just be nostalgic, and we can’t just be using them because we miss our childhood. There has to be a reason why what Carpenter and Goblin made for those movies was so scary and effective. I tried to find ways to pull from those techniques used in Carpenter and Dario Argento movies, and utilize whatever made them effective, rather than just pull at people’s nostalgic heartstrings.’”
Video of the Day: Below is full audio of Grimes and Bleachers’ “Entropy,” recently featured on Girls:
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.