1. “Mary Ellen Mark, Photographer Who Documented Difficult Subjects, Dies at 75.” The photographer, whose unflinching yet compassionate depictions of prostitutes in Mumbai, homeless teenagers in Seattle and mental patients in a state institution in Oregon made her one of the premier documentary photographers of her generation, died on Monday in Manhattan.
“The empathy and humanism of the work, published in book form in 1979, impressed critics. Robert Hughes, in Time, called Ward 81 ’one of the most delicately shaded studies of vulnerability ever set on film.’ After the show, Ms. Mark signed with the Magnum photo agency. Her interest in social outcasts remained a constant throughout her career, reflected in the book Falkland Road: Prostitutes of Bombay (1981), unusual for being in color. While on assignment for Life in 1983, she began photographing homeless teenagers in Seattle, a ragtag collection of small-time drug dealers, prostitutes and panhandlers who populate the pages of Streetwise, published in 1988. With her husband, the filmmaker Martin Bell, who survives her, she turned her encounters into a film, which was nominated for the Academy Award for best documentary in 1984.”
2. ”Variety Critics Debate the Best and Worst of Cannes 2015.” Peter Debruge (below), Scott Foundas, and Justin Chang discuss the films they caught on the Croisette this year.
“Many were outraged that the jury split the best actress prize between Mon roi’s Emmanuelle Bercot and Rooney Mara, who plays the younger half of the lesbian couple (opposite Cate Blanchett) in Todd Haynes’ Carol. That was a problematic film for me: Strong and Important, sure—being a tony LGBT drama with mainstream potential and a still-revolutionary happy ending (nobody gets clubbed to death with a tire iron here)—but also stiff and disappointingly lifeless. In the foyer of the Grand Theatre Lumiere, where the film premiered, the festival displays huge portraits of its competing directors, and the photo of Haynes depicts him posing the dolls in the background of the toy-department scene where his Sapphic couple first meets. Way back at the beginning of his career, in Superstar, Haynes retold Karen Carpenter’s tragic life story via stop-motion Barbie figurines, and all these years later, he still seems to manipulating actors as if they were dolls. I missed Carol’s personality, so vivid in Patricia Highsmith’s The Price of Salt, and felt as if Therese had fallen in love with her fabulous overcoats, lipstick and hair, rather than the woman behind them.”
3. “Eve Ensler on trafficking drama and why Mad Max is feminist.” Playwright Eve Ensler created a theatrical phenomenon when she wrote The Vagina Monologues. Almost 20 years on, she has advised the stars of the new Mad Max film and written a play about trafficking, which receives its premiere at the West Yorkshire Playhouse in Leeds on Tuesday.
“People sometimes don’t know what feminism means. To me feminism is not that complex. It means women are equal. We have equal roles, equal rights, equal pay. If you look at this film from an objective point of view, women are equally capable of fighting. Women have equal desires. Women are independent and have agency over their own lives. They exist without men. To me, what was very exciting about this film was the range of women characters and the range of ages. They weren’t relegated to one role. To me that’s feminism.”
4. “A Shared Memory.” Daniel Kasman talks to Apichatpong Weerasethakul about Cemetery of Splendour.
“I think it’s pretty symbolic and a pretty gentle attitude, because the presence of the military soldiers is very strong. Especially lately. We have more high ranking generals than they have in the United States. So think about it. A lot of the biggest budgets go to the military. Growing up, you feel this presence and power. At the same time, I feel very attracted to uniforms, sexual attraction: uniform, power. Since Tropical Malady and other art projects I sometimes feature soldiers as a symbol of power and this attraction. It’s a push and pull, because I hate this power; what I don’t like is that the military is always playing in politics, but for this film it’s about that, it’s about the power and the power that is put to sleep. The dormancy of power. At the same time, there’s another one: underneath. “
5. ” Shoes That Put Women in Their Place.” For The New York Times, Elizabeth Semmelhack on sex, power, and high heels.
“Linking sex appeal to power also clearly suggests that women have a very short window of opportunity for when they can be seen as powerful. The common comment about the Cannes debacle—that a handful of middle-aged women in flats were turned away—illustrates this issue. In an apologist manner, this observation seemed to suggest that perhaps if these women hadn’t been so aged they wouldn’t have worn sensible shoes. Never mind what accomplishments or connections brought them to the festival. This is the ultimate problem with sexual allure as a purported means to power: The power lies in the eye of the beholder, not the beheld. If the argument for heels is that they are part of traditional attire for women, that is not wrong. The body-revealing gowns and barely there footwear worn by women on the red carpet have direct links to 18th-century ideas on gender, 19th-century pornographic images and midcentury concepts of a woman’s place in society.”
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