1. “Just a chat with your friendly neighborhood president.” President Obama spent an hour Friday in a garage in Highland Park with comedian Marc Maron, taping an episode of Maron’s “WTF” podcast.
“There were limits, of course. An unguarded politician is a contradiction in terms, where oversharing is a comic’s stock in trade: You take your darkest garbage and spread it around on the table for a laugh. And yet the curious mix of introspection and extroversion that creates a comic is surely not foreign to many politicians—though one senses from this president that, like some performers and politicians, he does not need to look for approval outside himself. (Obama: ’Stuff that was buggin’ ya, by the time you’re 53, either you’ve worked it out or you’ve just forgiven yourself and you’ve said, ’Look, this is who I am.’ ’Maron: ’Oh, I’ve got to write that down—I can just forgive myself?’) Politicians live in the future; they plan, they predict, they promise. What the president says in light of a tragedy like the Charleston shootings, which the two discussed, has to consider both the awfulness of the moment and the better, saner place we might get to; declaring himself an optimist, Obama described Americans as ’overwhelmingly good, decent generous people’ who are divided by politics and ’a media that is so splintered now that we’re not in a common conversation.’ Comedy can also take you to a better, saner place, by making you think and by making you laugh, but it is not in the business of delivering hope. It has a different slant on the human condition.”
2. “Dumber Than Your Average Bear.” Wesley Morris on Ted 2.
“It’s tricky. MacFarlane would seem to identify as progressive, but he uses his liberalness conservatively, to berate what he thinks is normal or safe or established in American culture. His tolerance is tinged with intolerance. In Ted 2, Michael Dorn and Patrick Warburton play a brutally masculine, interracial gay couple. Dorn played Lieutenant Worf on Star Trek: The Next Generation. Warburton, among other characters, played a live-action TV superhero called the Tick. Here they show up at New York Comic Con in their respective costumes and lay waste to nerds. At that moment, the gag moves from their being absurdist gays (’We’re gonna tie our dicks together’) to their being bullies irrespective of their gayness. Where precisely the joke is depends on what you find funny at either extreme.”
3. “Review: In Ted 2, the Foulmouthed Bear Tries to Prove He’s Human.” Manohla Dargis is also not a fan of the Seth MacFarlane comedy.
“Jokes don’t need to make you think, and comedy isn’t school, even if the Three Stooges have taught us much. It all depends on context, which is why some pokes in the eye are funny and others aren’t. And maybe this movie might have been funny (or at least tolerably wince-worthy) before dead black bodies again became an emblem of our national trauma. The audience I saw Ted 2 with, though, seemed both uncomfortable with the Kardashian joke and unsure of how to respond, which was notable considering how pumped it had seemed before the movie. Some people laughed, some tittered nervously, some groaned. The uneasiness, I think, came from a deep, unsettled recognition that many of us share these days: No matter what we tell ourselves, we have not really figured out how to talk about race, much less joke about it. Mr. MacFarlane sure hasn’t.”
4. “The Curse of the Pixar Universe.’” Richard Brody on Inside Out.
“The very notion of what’s appropriate for children looms over any consideration of a movie intended for children. It’s unfair to expect a cheerful animated comedy to approximate Malick’s cosmogonic exhilarations, but for a director of genius there are ways. One of them involves comic anarchy, and there, too, Inside Out shows its tight limits. One of Riley’s ’islands of identity’ is called ’goofball,’ the antic side of her character, but Docter and Del Carmen endow her with only a mild, trivial, and highly moralistic sense of whimsy. If the goofball side of the movie is as wacky as Riley gets, she’s ready for a role in Ida.”
5. “This hotel kept all the secrets of the rich and famous…until now.” Playing host to Martini-fuelled fist fights, lesbian orgies, Mafia hit men, peyote smoothies, poolside trysts and explosive feuds, the Garden of Allah kept all the secrets of the rich and famous.
“’There were no rules,’ reminisced one early resident. ’Nearly everybody partied—and partied hard. You would come back late at night and look around for a lit window. That meant a party, where, of course, you’d be welcome.’ The informality took many forms. New York drama critic Whitney Bolton, who lived at the Garden, wrote, ’If a stark-naked lady of acting fame, her head crowned by a chattering monkey, chose to open the door to Western Union, no one was abashed, least of all the lady and the monkey.’ But the informality was not for strangers and voyeurs. The hotel management posted a guard at the front gate and maintained a discreet patrol of the grounds after dark. One of the watchmen led a formidable dog that residents fondly called the Hound of the Baskervilles. The private police were strictly for security; they had orders not to harass the guests or interfere with their personal foibles and pleasures.”
Video of the Day: Eli Roth’s The Green Inferno gets a new trailer:
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