1. “The Accurate Erotics of Fifty Shades of Grey.” Richard Brody on the Sam Taylor-Johnson film.
“Fifty Shades of Grey—and I’m referring to the movie, not to the book, which I haven’t read—isn’t porn. It isn’t mommy porn, and it isn’t softcore porn. It isn’t a joke, and it isn’t complete junk. The movie is far from a masterwork, but the glossy fantasies of Fifty Shades deliver something altogether significant, substantial, and welcome. The trouble with the sex in most movies isn’t a matter of prudery but of a stultifying failure of erotic imagination—and of dramatic imagination. It reflects an inability to think of sex as action and to think of characters as actual sexual beings with the sexual complexity of any ordinary person. You’d think that whoever writes such ignorant gaps into a script, or whoever films such gaps, has never actually had sex—or worse, had never even fantasized about it.”
2. “The World of Our Grandchildren.” Noam Chomsky discusses ISIS, Israel, climate change, and the kind of world future generations may inherit.
“You can be pretty confident that as conflicts develop, they will become more extremist. The most brutal, harshest groups will take over. That’s what happens when violence becomes the means of interaction. It’s almost automatic. That’s true in neighborhoods, it’s true in international affairs. The dynamics are perfectly evident. That’s what’s happening. That’s where ISIS comes from. If they manage to destroy ISIS, they will have something more extreme on their hands.”
3. ”Deer Hunter Director’s First Interview in 13 Years: Michael Cimino Touts Clint Eastwood for President, Blasts Rumors He’s Becoming a Woman.” His Vietnam War drama was the American Sniper of its day and won five Oscars 36 years ago—now the reclusive helmer speaks for the first time since 2002, detailing his run-in with Jane Fonda, riffing on war films and putting long-standing rumors to rest that he’s becoming a woman (“Bullshit”).
“It was rather interesting because Coming Home was produced by Jane Fonda, who at that time had made films with Ho Chi Minh and was virulently anti-American. At the Academy Awards, she wouldn’t look at me because I had already been labeled a right-wing fascist. We were in the same elevator together. I wanted to say congratulations, but she turned away. From what I know about the original script, it was honest, but I think because of her political stance at the time, she managed to turn it into American guilt. She’s the only one who had the power—she was the producer. The end of the movie is the American officer, Bruce Dern, who out of unspeakable guilt walks into the Pacific Ocean to drown himself. That’s not what the original script was. That character is so filled with rage that he strides the hillsides of Laurel Canyon onto the 101, as I recall, and he’s got a machine gun with him. He walks to the center of the freeway with oncoming traffic in both directions, and he’s just howling, just firing in a circle. Cars are blowing up all over the place. That was the real ending. You don’t have moviemaking to prove a point about your political conviction in American Sniper.”
4. “Mo’Nique: I Was ’Blackballed’ After Winning My Oscar.” The 2010 best supporting actress winner for Precious—who refused to campaign for her award—says she was told by her director Lee Daniels that the perception is she’s “difficult” and “tacky,” and she’s lost out on several roles as a result.
“I got a phone call from Lee Daniels maybe six or seven months ago. And he said to me, ’Mo’Nique, you’ve been blackballed.’ And I said, ’I’ve been blackballed? Why have I been blackballed?’ And he said, ’Because you didn’t play the game.’ And I said, ’Well, what game is that?’ And he gave me no response. The next thing he said to me was, ’Your husband is outbidding you.’ But he never asked me what [salary] we were asking for. You know, my husband [actor and producer Sidney Hicks] and I had to change things so we wouldn’t have to depend on [others]. So we do it independently. We’re very proud of taking the independent route, and we have a movie coming out on April 24 called Blackbird.”
5. “Why There Should Be an Oscar Category for Dramatic Research.” It’s unlikely to ever happen, but an Academy Award for archival legwork could help solve the growing awards-season problem of tearing down films for supposed inaccuracies.
“If the origins of fact-checking for fact-checking’s sake begins with the Oscars, then so too must the solution. The impulse to question a movie’s interpretation, in any case, is a good one—it forces us to evaluate history and review the ebb and flow in cultural values that makes an old story appeal to a new audience—but it’s not focused right now. What better call to arms for the awards ceremony that annually highlights achievements in the industry according to specific categories? This is a job for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, originally a public-relations organization, now best known for an annual awards ceremony with questionable hosting choices. So here’s a crazy proposal for their consideration: An Oscar category for Best Dramatic Research.”
Video of the Day: Sleater-Kinney’s video for “A New Wave,” by the animators of Bob’s Burgers:
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.