1. “LGBT Clubs in American History: Cultural Centers, Safe Spaces & Targets.” Raillan Brooks, for The Village Voice, on his having to come out three times.
“The American LGBTQ community seems not to have figured out that we’ve been conscripted into the country’s Middle Eastern wars, thanks to the liberation narrative that’s clotted LGBTQ political narratives in the wake of marriage equality. It did get better—thanks to Uncle Sam—and now, it seems, we owe him. So when he asks for support for drone strikes in Syria, or a blithe military alliance with Israel (one of whose expansion stratagems is to pitch Tel Aviv as a gay mecca reclaimed from the gay-murdering Palestinians), he’s also sure to remind us of the ’human rights violations’ in whatever Muslim state he wants to bomb next. It’s called ’pink-washing,’ and it gets liberals to consent to intervention after intervention in the names of queer people.”
2. “ON MUBI: David Cronenberg’s eXistenZ.” Keith Uhlich on the auteur’s sensual sci-fi thriller.
“One fear among the many: Eroticism equals death. Or is the latter just intertwined with the former—an ever-present possibility, but not necessarily a certainty? How do we reconcile lusting for someone or something that could very well hasten our end? Let’s go back to the beginning, to Geller’s first line of dialogue, spoken in a church where the faithful have gathered to try out her new VR product (also named eXistenZ): “The world of games is in a kind of a trance.” That’s the word. ’Trance.’ Effectively being inside your body even as you are outside of it. The way Cronenberg and cinematographer Peter Suschitzky stage the scene, Geller is almost always framed with the adoring crowd barely, if at all visible on the edges of the image. She’s by herself even in a room full of people, perhaps by choice, most certainly out of necessity. But there’s another just like her: Ted Pikul (Jude Law), the anonymous yet attractive PR nerd sitting at the back of the church. As Geller speaks, he leans slowly forward, his chair creaking—a first involuntary step toward full-on infatuation. Why fight it? Can it be fought?”
3. “Why Have Johnny Depp’s Movies Been So Bad Lately?” New York magazine’s David Edelstein ponders the question.
“[Depp’s] infatuation wasn’t with the Brando who trained under Stella Adler and learned to release his volcanic emotions onstage and in movies. It was with the crazy, lazy Brando, who skipped (often entertainingly, but still ...) along the surface of his roles. Depp’s next guru was even farther gone: Hunter S. Thompson at his most alcoholic and paranoid, his brain addled by years of amphetamines. So Depp was inspired by men who indulged their appetites (or, as therapists say these days, ’self-medicated’) to the point where they became cartoons of themselves. It’s no wonder that acting became like free jazz, played better when drunk—in spirit if not literally.”
4. “Here Comes the Angel of Death.” Farran Smith Nehme’s essay on Here Comes Mr. Jordan, now on the Criterion Collection.
“At first, the sweetness and slapstick of Mr. Jordan may seem like the purest escapism. Audiences were primed for a movie that said that things happen for a reason, and that death can, in a pinch, be undone. Look closer, however, and it’s easy to see the grimness that lurks under the bright surface. Bruce Farnsworth’s first murder is described in detail—they drugged him, then drowned him in his bath. Farnsworth eventually meets a second end that is even grislier (’Take a look in the basement icebox,’ says Max). Later, we learn of crooked boxing promoters planning to kill Joe’s erstwhile rival, K. O. Murdock, just as the title is in Murdock’s hands. The half-heavenly world of Here Comes Mr. Jordan has an awfully high murder rate.”
5. “Borges and $: The Parable of the Literary Master and the Coin.” Thirty years ago, the world lost a great literary mind—the Argentine writer and poet Jorge Luis Borges. Today, Elizabeth Hyde Stevens revisits the financial conditions that produced this life of pure literature, finding unexpected hope in the darkest period of Borges’ forgotten past.
“The role of money plays a two-sided role in Borges’ artistic life. On one side of the coin’s face, Borges was blessed with the most privileged, ideal life for a burgeoning literary genius. Educated in Europe, raised by his father to become a serious writer, Borges devoted his entire life to literature. He did not take a full-time job for nearly 40 years. But on the coin’s reverse side, we see that young Georgie Borges did not actually write his great fictions until after his family lost their money. For anyone who has struggled to make writing pay, Borges’ financial story is a perplexing—yet utterly hopeful—case to consider.”
Video of the Day: Ken Loach’s Palm d’Or winner I, Daniel Blake gets a trailer:
Links for the Day: A collection of links to items that we hope will spark discussion. We encourage our readers to submit candidates for consideration to firstname.lastname@example.org and to converse in the comments section.