1. “In Historic Pick, Rams Take Michael Sam in Final Round of Draft.” Sam, a defensive end, was the 249th player selected. Only seven players followed. Then the draft was over.
“Over seven rounds of the National Football League draft, teams chose more than 200 players, from surefire stars to kickers and all-but-anonymous players from tiny Division II programs. One player who was repeatedly passed over was Michael Sam, a consensus all-American at Missouri and The Associated Press’s defensive player of the year in the Southeastern Conference, considered college football’s most competitive conference. Sam was also the first publicly gay player waiting to be drafted. Finally, after nearly seven hours of picks on Saturday, the third and final day of the draft, Mike Kensil, the N.F.L.’s vice president for game operations, walked to the lectern and read Sam’s name. Cheers erupted among the several hundred fans left at Radio City Music Hall in Manhattan, the site of the draft.”
2. “John Oliver, Charming Scold.” Ian Crouch on Last Week Tonight.
“Where Oliver’s show has the potential to outpace The Daily Show, or at least to break from it more convincingly, through a sustained campaign against another target: its own audience. Jon Stewart has gained a steady, dedicated following by marshalling the anger and frustration of his like-minded fans against the villainy of Fox News and the Republican Party. It is a world of us against them. Oliver, meanwhile, appears to be doing something different. Rather than become the leader of an audience of acolytes, he seems to be out to subtly correct his audience’s prejudices and blind spots. If Stewart is evangelical, Oliver is professorial. His bit on the Indian election was akin to the current rush of explainer journalism, in which a smart person more or less reads the newspaper for you, tells you why this or that thing matters, and nudges you toward a final judgment. In the second episode, Oliver began a segment on Sharia law in Brunei by saying, ’There was big news out of Brunei this week. Wait, let me back up a second. There is a country called Brunei.’ The joke here, partly, is that liberal American audiences enjoy being scolded about our ignorance of geography, especially when the person doing the scolding speaks in a British accent. (Oliver, who grew up in eastern England and went to Cambridge, has become a permanent resident here, and he has embraced American culture, downplaying his role as an incredulous outsider critic.) But Oliver’s line was also a muted challenge—one that left my own fluency in international politics feeling mighty exposed. It’s a good thing for comedy to be aspiration, for the viewer to feel like he needs to get smarter in order to get the joke.”
3. “Bombast: Revenge.” Nick Pinkerton watches Blue Ruin, then thinks about revenge.
“It’s not surprising that Blue Ruin is winning raves, for Saulnier’s second feature has certain cinematic and narrative values that one doesn’t often see in American movies, particularly action movies—and it does belong to this category, however distantly removed it is from what the words ’action movie’ have come to promise (i.e., fireballs, robots, robots throwing fireballs). Going to work with a half-million budget, Saulnier gets his effects the old-fashioned way, by being attentive to the environment he’s shooting; Blue Ruin, grounded throughout in real American contexts, is unusually sensitive to place. The film follows Dwight (Macon Blair) from bumming around the boardwalk of Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, to his sister’s suburban home, to the armament-bristling compound of his veteran-turned-one-man-army buddy (Devin Ratray). A wan, scraggily bearded half-ghost when we first encounter him, Dwight is turned corporeal and armed with a vivid sense of purpose when he gets word that the man responsible for his parents’ murder is going to be released from jail. After messily carrying out his self-appointed revenge mission with the blundering recklessness that defines his actions throughout the movie’s first half, Dwight then has to try to staunch the flow of wrathful retribution that he’s invited from his victim’s next-of-kin.”
4. “Bret Easton Ellis Interview.” The author comments on the post-theatrical world of The Canyons.
“Something has changed in the industry. The availability of technology, of camera and lenses and so on. You can make your movie bypassing the consortium. Most Hollywood movies are made by a consortium and they get greenlit by the marketer division. The studio executive is bypassed by the marketing division. That’s something that has been happening for the last ten or fifteen years and are reacting against it. It’s not viable for 90% of the people making movies now, it took twenty years to get Dallas Buyers Club made. They got a millionaire to write them a cheque, make it a prestige movie and he gets to go to the Oscars. That’s attractive to some bored millionaires.’”
5. “Beat the Parents.” Wesley Morris on Seth Rogen, Zac Efron, and early-onset adulthood in Neighbors.
“The prevailing question in Rogen’s homosocial universe used to be, ’Dude, are we still friends?’ He and Evan Goldberg wrote and directed a rough, gloriously strange apocalypse epic on the subject: This Is the End. It concludes in the hereafter, so one assumes it’s their last word on the subject. Neighbors aims that concern inward. ’Am I still cool?’ feels like the final frontier of the Rogen experience—whatever it means for Rogen, with his stoned Fozzie Bear voice and code-jockey carriage, to be cool. It’s smart of Cohen, O’Brien, and the director, Nicholas Stoller, to focus that worry. The concern isn’t whether Mac and Kelly should reproduce, marry, or domesticate. It’s what having chosen to do so means. The appearance of the fraternity just exacerbates the doubt. Rogen’s now adjacent to the frat house that, as recently as last summer, he lived in.”
Video of the Day: Michael Sam kisses his boyfriend:
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