1. “Robin Williams R.I.P.” The Oscar-winning comedian dies at 63 in suspected suicide.
“Robin Williams, the comedian who evolved into the surprisingly nuanced, Academy Award-winning actor, imbuing his performances with wild inventiveness and a kind of manic energy, died on Monday at his home in Tiburon, Calif., north of San Francisco. He was 63. The Marin County sheriff’s office said in a statement that it ’suspects the death to be a suicide due to asphyxia.’ An investigation was underway. The statement said that the office received a 911 call at 11:55 a.m. Pacific time, saying that a man had been found ’unconscious and not breathing inside his residence.’ Emergency personnel sent to the scene identified him as Mr. Williams and pronounced him dead at 12:02 p.m. Mr. Williams’s publicist, Mara Buxbaum, said in a statement that Mr. Williams ’has been battling severe depression.’”
2. “This Is the End: James Gray on Apocalypse Now.” The director of The Immigrant pays tribute to Francis Ford Coppola’s journey into the heart of darkness on its 35th anniversary.
“The film is indeed self-consciously mythic, and with its transcendent imagery, it enters the cosmic realm. Captain Willard is an enigmatic hero, and we need the narration (written by Dispatches author Michael Herr) to help us know him. Surely the man has his dark side: he kills a wounded Vietnamese woman, and hacks Colonel Kurtz to death. But by the end, Willard retains enough of his soul to protect the innocent, childlike Lance (Sam Bottoms), and here we see that the human connection endures. The film’s experience expands in this moment, becoming vast and uncanny—yet familiar. Apocalypse Now does not alienate us or deconstruct itself. In fact, it welcomes us in. We all but participate in the strange water skiing and surfing obsessions and the hallucinatory Playboy Bunny show. We take macabre pleasure at witnessing the chaos at Do Long bridge. And of course, we are utterly thrilled by Colonel Kilgore (Robert Duvall) and his amoral attack on the village—a justly famous set-piece, scored to Wagner’s ’Ride of the Valkyries,’ that compels us even as we shrink from it. We become complicit in darkness, and this is perhaps the film’s greatest coup.”
3. “David Gregory’s Flight to Nowhere.” For Politico, Dylan Byers on the fall of the Meet the Press host.
“For well over a year now, NBC News executives have been trying to come up with a solution to what sources there referred to as ’the David Gregory problem.’ The host had driven NBC’s once-dominant Sunday show to the bottom of the ratings race. He was widely disliked within the organization and his ambition and vanity rubbed important colleagues at NBC the wrong way. Perhaps most importantly, he didn’t seem all that engaged with politics and policy, the bread and butter of Sunday public affairs programming. As Gregory endures more and more negative press, NBC News is being criticized for publicly humiliating their host and doing little to tamp down the rumor mill in what many see as a tortuously long and bloody dethroning.”
4. “I Liked Everything I Saw on Facebook for Two Days. Here’s What It Did to Me.” Wired’s Mat Honan on the new character his Facebook feed took on after liking everything.
“This is a problem much bigger than Facebook. It reminded me of what can go wrong in society, and why we now often talk at each other instead of to each other. We set up our political and social filter bubbles and they reinforce themselves—the things we read and watch have become hyper-niche and cater to our specific interests. We go down rabbit holes of special interests until we’re lost in the queen’s garden, cursing everyone above ground. But maybe worse than the fractious political tones my feed took on was how deeply stupid it became. I’m given the chance to like a Buzzfeed post of some guy dancing, and another that asks Which Titanic Character Are You? A third Buzzfeed post informs me that ’Katy Perry’s Backup Dancer is the Mancandy You Deserve.’ According to New York magazine, I am ’officially old’ because Malia Obama went to Lollapalooza (like!) and CNN tells me ’Husband Explores His Man-ternal Instincts’ alongside a photo of a shirtless man cupping his nipples. A cloud that looks like a penis. Stop what you’re doing and look at this baby that looks exactly like Jay-Z. My feed was showing almost only the worst kind of tripe that all of us in the media are complicit in churning out yet should also be deeply ashamed of. Sensational garbage. I liked it all.”
5. “Tori Amos on Life at 50, Spiritual Eroticism, and Her Latest Album Unrepentant Geraldines.” For the Vulture, Lizzy Goodman interviews the pop star.
“Last year, Amos collaborated with London’s Royal National Theatre (and co-writer Samuel Adamson) on a musical adaptation of a Scottish fairy tale, The Light Princess. ’I love the thespians, but they don’t think ethereal, global. They’re locked on the stage,’ says Amos, who hopes to bring the show to Broadway eventually. She stops and grabs my arm again. ’I’m making The Light Princess into a record,’ she says in a forceful whisper. ’Next year.’ Amos thinks the recorded versions of many musical-theater productions sound as if they were made on an assembly line. ’How can you get somebody to unzip their skin and give you their heart and soul when you’re ticktock?’ she wonders. ’That’s not how we make records.’ Her version will be ’a sonic extravaganza,’ she promises. ’More like Jesus Christ Superstar and Chess.’”
Video of the Day: The trailer for The Best of Me is essentially a montage of the worst of Nicholas Sparks:
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