1. “Jamie xx: Taking Shelter in Loud Places.” For Pitchfork, Philip Sherburne profiles Jamie Smith.
“Even his own music as Jamie xx could hardly be described as loud—never mind that the first single from In Colour, his debut solo album, is called ’Loud Places’. The song is typical of his work: elegiac, languid, pneumatic as memory foam. While it is deeply informed by both the history of UK dance music and the experience of dancing itself, Smith’s music is also abstracted in a way that suggests he’s trying to recreate a specific moment on the dance floor the morning after a long night out. His tracks are marked by those hours in between, which soak up doubt just like the acoustic padding in his studio absorbs the blows of his kick drums.”
2. “Artisanal Macho.” For Grantland, Mark Harris on the clash of action stylings in Avengers: Age of Ultron and Mad Max: Fury Road.
“A lot of the mostly ecstatic reviews of Fury Road have dusted off the term ’practical effects,’ and if that lingo is unfamiliar to you—it essentially means that what you see onscreen was captured by a camera shooting actors and vehicles rather than created in postproduction—its ’newness’ is a measure of how little the term has been called for in recent years. And you don’t have to be a technological expert to see—really, to feel—the difference. I wouldn’t call Fury Road hyperrealist; when people in the movie fall off vehicles speeding across the desert terrain, they don’t always die or suffer traumatic brain injury. But if an oil tank runs them over? Yeah, they pretty much die. If they get shot in the chest? Their lungs collapse. If they get crushed between two vehicles? Sorry, they’re not gonna make it. If they are asked to do things that don’t adhere to accepted norms regarding gravity, physics, geometry, or anatomy (plus or minus 25 percent, because it is a movie, after all)? They can’t do them. As the old song goes, we don’t need another hero—at least, not another superhero—and we don’t get any here. We do get a pregnant woman clinging to the side of a truck in a sequence that, in the theater where I saw Fury Road, drew gasps—a sound I have not heard from an action-movie audience for quite some time. The movie’s insistence that things have to happen in a way that feels mostly physically possible almost comes to seem like a kind of morality—a new ethics of action.”
3. “Shakespeare: writer claims discovery of only portrait made during his lifetime.” Historian Mark Griffiths says picture of unknown man on title page of botanical work is playwright, as editor hails “literary discovery of the century.”
“Griffiths, with a substantial amount of compelling evidence, claims that this is the face of Shakespeare, made when he was at the height of his celebrity shortly after writing A Midsummer Night’s Dream and just before Hamlet. The work by William Rogers, England’s first great exponent of copperplate engraving, is on the title page of a groundbreaking 1598 book, The Herball or Generall Historie of Plantes, by the horticulturist John Gerard. It is full of elaborate decorative devices, flowers and symbols which surround four male figures, who had generally been assumed to be allegorical. Griffiths, in the course of writing a book about Gerard, decided to discover who the men might be. He had to crack an elaborate Tudor code of rebuses, ciphers, heraldic motifs and symbolic flowers, which were all clues pointing to the men’s identities. The relatively easy ones were Gerard himself, the renowned Flemish botanist Rembert Dodoens and Queen Elizabeth’s chief minister and closest adviser Lord Burghley, who was Gerard’s patron. That left the tricky fourth man, bottom right.”
4. “Inside Walt Disney’s Ambitious, Failed Plan to Build the City of Tomorrow.” Before EPCOT there was Project X, Florida’s first utopian metropolis.
“[Bob] Gurr recalls one particularly devastating headline published in the wake of Walt’s death: ’Epcot Died Ten Minutes After Walt’s Body Cooled.’ While not entirely accurate, questions remained. Up until then, the Imagineers’ had focused on the big picture. But how would families in EPCOT function? And who would live there? The loose idea was to invite employees of General Electric of Westinghouse to inhabit EPCOT’s Homes of the Future for a six-month sabbatical. But where would the kids go to school? Bigger problems weren’t clarified either. What would Florida weather, around-the-clock public transportation, and high-powered trash disposal mean for daily life under a 50-foot dome? There were too many concerns. ’It made great sense to Walt, but he didn’t live long enough to get into the nitty gritty details of getting an idea to work,’ [Marty] Sklar says. ’There’s a gigantic difference between the spark of a brilliant idea and the daily operation of an idea.’”
5. “Archivists Find Fragments of an Unfinished Orson Welles Autobiography.” For The New York Times, Michael Cieply and Brooks Barnes reports of the finding, discovered among a trove of papers newly purchased from Oja Kodar.
“The unfinished memoir, [Philip] Hallman said, was interspersed with other ’weird stuff’ in Ms. Kodar’s papers, including scripted patter for magic acts that Welles performed. (Welles once sought to do a magic-themed television show.) Mr. Hallman said he did not believe the memoir had been generally accessible to film scholars in the past. Mr. Hallman said it was impossible to tell yet whether the autobiography is complete enough to publish. ’We had hoped to do that,’ said Mr. Hallman, who joined Kathleen Dow, head archivist for the university’s special collections, in a phone interview on Tuesday. ’But looking at it now, I’m not so sure.’ Mr. Hallman and Ms. Dow said that a quick review of papers revealed what appeared to be tantalizing accounts of Welles’s encounters with fellow artists. ’No wonder he hated me,’ Welles wrote of the film director D. W. Griffith, according to Mr. Hallman. Welles went on to explain that Griffith was living as ’an exile in his own town,’ while the newcomer Welles had a studio contract. Ms. Dow said she was struck by Welles’s account of a wine-soaked session with Ernest Hemingway, who had just won the Nobel Prize for literature. ’It should have gone to Isak Dinesen,’ Hemingway said, according to Ms. Dow’s description of Welles’s remembrance. Ms. Dow said it would take perhaps five months to arrange the papers for public use.”
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