1. “Paul Mazursky R.I.P.” The filmmaker, who captured a changing America throughout films such as Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice, dies at 84.
“Paul Mazursky, an innovative director and screenwriter who both satirized and sympathized with America’s panorama of social upheavals in the late 1960s and ’70s in films that included Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice, Blume in Love and An Unmarried Woman, died on Monday in Los Angeles. He was 84. A family spokeswoman, Nancy Willen, said he died of pulmonary cardiac arrest at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. Mr. Mazursky lived in Beverly Hills. As the nation’s counterculture revolution shattered traditional norms of sex, marriage and conformity, Mr. Mazursky made his most popular and commercially successful films: lighthearted sendups of wife-swapping, yoga classes, group therapy, pot-smoking, midlife crises and other self-absorbed, middle-class indulgences that reviewers said he crafted with even-handedness and generosity. Some critics complained that his satire wasn’t cutting enough. Others called his comedies crisp at a time when behavior was at its fuzziest. Vincent Canby, in a 1976 analysis in The New York Times, acknowledged: ’Mazursky is a tough man to handle critically. He is alternately witty and brilliantly sarcastic, then suddenly, soddenly sincere and self-centered, only to explode unexpectedly as a first-rate social satirist.’”
2. ”Closed Curtain Director Jafar Panahi Talks About Making Movies Under House Arrest: ’Put Yourself in My Shoes.’” Eric Kohn speaks with the Iranian filmmaker.
“Well, I hope I can make other movies, but I’m not sure. The problem is that I’m fed up with surreptitiously making everything in very confined spaces and not having the freedom to work as I used to. I don’t know how many movies of this nature I can continue to make. I don’t want to change my kind of filmmaking. Just the mere thought of my future projects has turned into some sort of mental sickness for me. It makes me feel sick thinking of all these projects I’d like to do but I don’t have the ability to make them. I cannot just stay idle, but I don’t know what kind of work I can do to satisfy myself. Remember, a few months ago, because they didn’t allow me to go outside of the house, I said, ’OK, I’ll open my windows and take shots of the sky.’ I ended up with about 15 nice still photographs. But then when I went to print them, at the lab, they refused to do it. They said they had instructions from the government that I wasn’t allowed to get them printed. I had a crazy idea a while back. In order to stay connected to society, I was thinking of driving a cab, so I could stay close to people and talk to them. But I knew I would be tempted to take a camera inside a cab, and that wouldn’t work.”
3. “Angela Bassett Interview.” The actress speaks about her Whitney Houston biopic for Lifetime.
“I obviously had worked with Whitney and, you know, just fell in love with her as the rest of the world did. And when this opportunity was brought my way, it really was something I couldn’t say no to. I felt that if I said no and let it pass, I could imagine having a great deal of regret, you know? I wanted to tell a story about a beautiful sista, which is of course an opportunity for me to grow as a woman and as an artist in many expected and unexpected ways. I had been looking for, hoping for, if I were to direct, a story that I felt deeply passionate about. One that I could stay up all night just thinking about, caring for and nurturing. I’ve had opportunities in the past, but nothing that just grabbed me like this did. I could only hope that the script would support my desire, and it did. It had to be grateful, respectful, honest, and all those things, because we know in her lifetime there was a great deal of pressure and scrutiny. I didn’t want this story to add to that.”
4. “Pop Politics.” Jordan Alexander Stein on Angela Davis, Nina Simone, and Bob Dylan.
“With the gnomic lyrical density of the prophet he is often taken to be, Dylan commemorated this most iconic Civil Rights hero by pointing away from national mythmaking and toward the violence of structural racism. The verse’s criminal metaphor proves to be poignant, for the US’s system of mass incarceration holds more African-American men in bondage than did slavery, and these escalating carceral rates track chillingly with the decline of the Civil Rights movement in the 1970s. But if we can agree that the penal system is vilely racist and woefully outdated, that does not mean that it can’t immediately be reformed—to abolish slavish labor conditions, to improve health and safety for prisoners, and perhaps most crucially to end solitary confinement. There is no absolute choice to be made between reform and revolution. Solving the big, structural problems in the long run does not have to be an alternative to palliating the more egregious aspects of the system in the short run.”
5. “Revolt on the Polar Express.” J. Hoberman on Snowpiercer.
“A former student activist who has been associated with a succession of small leftwing parties, Bong is an anti-authoritarian populist with a strong sense of the absurd. Although he has been compared to Steven Spielberg in his use of genre conventions, he is temperamentally closer to less respectable American practitioners of wise-guy sociological shock schlock like Joe Dante, George A. Romero, and Larry Cohen. As with Romero’s Land of the Dead (2005), in which an even more implacable lumpen element—reproachful zombies—rises up against a degenerate one-percent, it’s impossible to miss Snowpiercer’s point.”
Video of the Day: The trailer for St. Vincent:
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