1. “List of 2014 Pulitzer Prize winners.” The 2014 Pulitzer Prize winners and finalists, and the judges’ comments.
“Criticism: Inga Saffron of The Philadelphia Inquirer for her criticism of architecture that blends expertise, civic passion and sheer readability into arguments that consistently stimulate and surprise. Finalists: Mary McNamara of the Los Angeles Times for her trenchant and witty television criticism, engaging readers through essays and reviews that feature a conversational style and the force of fresh ideas; and Jen Graves of The Stranger, a Seattle weekly, for her visual arts criticism that, with elegant and vivid description, informs readers about how to look at the complexities of contemporary art and the world in which it’s made.”
2. “How Scarlett Johansson helped me challenge disfigurement stigma.” ’Adam Pearson was born with a condition that causes tumours to grow on his face. But acting with Johansson in Under the Skin is changing the way people look at him.
“Every time he goes out, people stare. On the way to our interview, Pearson was stopped by a couple of passersby as he got on the train. This time, however, it was not as a result of his condition—it was because he has begun to be recognised. Pearson is currently starring alongside Scarlett Johansson in Under the Skin, a critically acclaimed science fiction film directed by Jonathan Glazer about an alien who roams the streets of Glasgow abducting and killing unsuspecting men. In one of the most poignant scenes, the alien (Johansson) is shown picking up a hooded man at night (Pearson). When the unnamed man reveals his disfigured face, it is a pivotal moment: the alien becomes humanised and conflicted. The two of them have a brief conversation about the nature of ignorance and prejudice. The alien does not remark on the stranger’s face, instead complimenting him on his ’beautiful’ hands.”
3. “Your book sucks: are authors being bullied with one-star Amazon reviews?” Anne Rice thinks there are communities of “parasites” intent on dragging down writers by slating their books online. Is she right—and why are we such slaves to the star rating, anyway?
“Anne Rice is not the only writer to have gone after a bad reviewer. In 2011, a self-published author in Milton Keynes launched libel proceedings against the guy who wrote a series of bad Amazon reviews of his book, The Attempted Murder of God: Hidden Science You Really Need to Know. Also summoned to the courtroom were Richard Dawkins and his foundation (for discussion threads relating to the review on the foundation’s website) and Amazon (for allowing this to happen in the first place). Earlier this year there was a story about another self-published author in America threatening to sue a reviewer because their single bad review allegedly lost the writer $23,000. Whether it’s back-of-the-envelope maths or real maths we’ve only got his word, but at this point it’s irrelevant. Stay with me.”
4. ”Say Anything at 25.” Nothing Bought, Sold Or Processed.
“At the center of Say Anything is [Cameron] Crowe’s deep empathy for the uncertainty and ambivalence, bordering on existential terror, that the end of high school naturally brings to a lot of kids. Even for someone like Diane, whose future looks as bright as she and her father have meticulously planned it to be, there are small problems—what happens when you win a prestigious opportunity to study abroad and you’re afraid to fly?—and big problems—why are men from the IRS at the door to talk to your dad? “
5. “It’s Still OK to Hate Showgirls.” Some critics and fans argue that the once-maligned 1995 film is actually a masterwork of self-aware parody. But they’ve missed the ugly message at the movie’s heart.
“The satire in Showgirls, and the intent, then, can be seen as directed squarely at the viewer. Verhoeven’s film is organized in the tradition of the American success story—Nomi comes to town to make it big, and then she makes it big (while losing her soul). But the way she makes it big is through the secret fact that she is a debased object for sale. The implication, therefore, is that the American success fantasy and America itself are both also debased.To know what is in the closet is to be implicated in the closet—it takes one to know one, as queer theorist Eve Sedgwick has argued. That means that all the characters in the film—Cristal, Zach, that guy who is amazed by Nomi’s pelvic thrust—are no better than Nomi; they’re whores too, selling themselves, body and soul, for money and power. How could they recognize her otherwise? And as for those of us sitting there watching the NC-17 film and giggling at Nomi’s crass, sexualized performance—well, what are we? When we laugh at the film, or see ourselves as better than the film, aren’t we just like Nomi, pretending to be better than she ought to be, while reveling in what she really is?”
Video of the Day: The trailer for David Cronenberg’s Maps to the Stars:
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