1. “President Obama Delivers the State of the Union.” In State of the Union speech, the president defiantly sets an ambitious agenda.
“The tax plan would raise the top capital gains tax rate to 28 percent, from 23.8 percent. It would also remove what amounts to a tax break for wealthy people who can afford to hold on to their investments until death. Mr. Obama also said he wanted to assess a new fee on the largest financial institutions—those with assets of $50 billion or more—based on the amount of risk they took on. Those proposals would pay for the community college initiative, which would cost $60 billion over a decade, as well as an array of new tax credits intended for the middle class. They include a new $500 credit for families with two working spouses; a subsidy of up to $2,500 annually to pay for college; and the tripling, up to $3,000, of an existing tax break to pay for college. ’It’s time we stop treating child care as a side issue, or as a women’s issue,’ Mr. Obama said, ’and treat it like the national economic priority that it is for all of us.’”
2. “The Speed of Casualty.” Ryland Walker Knight, for MUBI, on Michael Mann’s Blackhat.
“Mann’s world is cruel, breakneck, and full of light. Variations of hue and frame size that feel alive, not over-determined and chaotic, as in the work of Paul Greengrass, give life to the tropes, and weight to their story house, that world created. Night looks like night, and most of the scenes are set then, but that means daylight’s exposure is an anvil, the implacability of a tarmac horizon or the endgame of a tin mine valley. (The sunglasses everybody wears are beautiful.) Harsh but not bleak exactly, the world still allows for connection, and its rupture through violence is what keeps motivations piling up and our hero and his woman together in arms through fiberoptics and blood to the end, past the camera, into a kind of white light that somehow has hues and is not outright hopeful. After all, from that off-white nothing we cut to black.”
3. ”’I’m not saying you’re wrong’: Why Abbi is the best part of Broad City.” Laura Miller claims the creators of this show are the modern-day heirs to the Marx Brothers—but Abbi is wildly underappreciated.
“What Broad City does do (when it’s not gleefully wringing laughs from strap-ons and feces, that is) is revive the intuitive spirit and grace of the classic cinematic comedy of the 1920s and ’30s. Ilana is the show’s most immediately arresting character, a vim-fueled bottle rocket with a penumbra of corkscrew curls and a smile whose wattage rivals a Broadway marquee. She’s a polymorphously horny, rubber-limbed imp with a job she flagrantly shirks, along with all forms of decorum. Season 2’s opening sequence—a Snowpiercer vamp involving a trek through a series of subway cars—ends with the two women standing sheepishly among a crowd of Hassidic men; as they step out the door, Ilana, naturally, has to smack one of them on the butt.”
4. “Spiritual Cinema.” Michael Sicinski finds reasons to believe in films both sacred and profane.
“It would be unfair and inaccurate to say that film art doesn’t address religious or spiritual questions today. But I do think it is fair to make a few general diagnoses about how spiritual cinema has evolved—perhaps not for the better—since the grand moment of international art cinema of the 1950s and ’60s. For one thing, the educated, self-selected audiences for world cinema have possibly inherited a greater, postmodern skepticism toward religion, which has resulted in a shift in tastes and canons for the 21st century. For that matter, the larger part of the international filmmaking class—those directors who tend to fill out festival line-ups and distributor slates—is comprised of relative agnostics. This is not a criticism, but it does mark a difference from the era of Bergman, Dreyer, and Pasolini.”
5. “The Limits of American Cinephilia.” Richard Brody on how Amos Vogel, bringer of cinematic enlightenment, defined the limits of New York cinephilia.
“Writing in 1965, Vogel expressed his astonished delight that the New York Film Festival was attracting a ’young audience,’ and he detailed the myriad activities of this youthful audience, such as reading serious film journals and devotedly attending screenings at repertory houses. A year later, he went further, writing of an ’emergence of film as the art of the young’ and saying that the young ’feel most akin to the nouvelle vague, to cinema vérité, to the ’new cinema’ in Europe, Japan, America.’ Vogel not only meant that young people were watching movies more ambitiously, he affirmed the sudden rise of filmmaking as the center of young artists’ ambitions and endeavors: ’In previous times, the young ’took hold’ of the pen. Today, they take hold of the camera.’”
Video of the Day: It Follows gets a U.K. trailer:
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