1. “Shirley Temple R.I.P.” Temple Black, Screen Darling, Dies at 85.
“Shirley Temple Black, who as a dimpled, precocious and determined little girl in the 1930s sang and tap-danced her way to a height of Hollywood stardom and worldwide fame that no other child has reached, died on Monday night at her home in Woodside, Calif. She was 85. Her publicist, Cheryl Kagan, confirmed her death. Ms. Black returned to the spotlight in the 1960s in the surprising new role of diplomat, but in the popular imagination she would always be America’s darling of the Depression years, when in 23 motion pictures her sparkling personality and sunny optimism lifted spirits and made her famous. From 1935 to 1939 she was the most popular movie star in America, with Clark Gable a distant second. She received more mail than Greta Garbo and was photographed more often than President Franklin D. Roosevelt.”
2. “Oscar Season Turns Ugly.” Beyond Woody Allen: controversies, PR explosions, truth-squadding, and the 2014 Academy Awards.
“Personally, I find the new wave of insistence that a movie’s morality and worldview should count at least partially toward its final grade to be heartening, and I’m not willing to dismiss this way of looking at a movie just because it can be dangerous when misapplied. Yes, the new moralists can become humorless scolds about accusing movies of ’trivializing’ issues they care about. They can be tone-deaf to nuance and ambiguity, and tediously prosecutorial about ideology. But to oppose them by insisting on a purely aestheticized or sensation-driven take on movies—one that artificially walls off political, cultural, and moral perspective—is to use the all-purpose shield of artistic freedom to defend a dully limited view of movies and of the world. ’What do you want, censorship?’ is no longer a legitimate parry. We’re all good with artistic freedom. Artistic responsibility makes for a much more interesting conversation.”
3. “Agee & Co.: A Newer Criticism.” David Bordwell on the influrence of trends in film criticism in the 1940s.
“Already during the 1930s, left intellectuals had worried that mainstream entertainment in the US was corrupt. Not only was the working class victimized by its rulers, but it was fed junk. The most influential articulation of this view was probably Clement Greenberg’s essay, ’Avant-Garde and Kitsch’ of 1939. According to Greenberg, the great age of modern art, from the 1910s to the early 1930s, had showed the power of self-conscious formal experiment. Cubist painting, the novels of Joyce and Gide, the poetry of Eliot—all had challenged the audience to expand its horizons. But to this avant-garde there was counterposed a rear guard, a debased and easy art that produces ’unreflective enjoyment.’ Greenberg didn’t spare the Soviet Union from his complaint: Stalin’s Socialist Realism had created its own version of kitsch, in the cinema no less than in other arts.”
4. “Why I Worked With Roman Polanski.” I was sexually molested as an 8-year-old, I wrote a movie for Polanski, and I choose to believe Dylan Farrow.
“When I first spoke to Roman Polanski about writing an adaptation for him of Death and the Maiden, I told him I would only write it if we could make two significant alterations. In the play, Paulina never says exactly what was done to her and she is never able to prove to her husband, the one person in the play who doesn’t know whether she is right, that she has correctly identified her rapist. I told Polanski that Paulina would want to tell her husband precisely what had happened to her and now would be the occasion for her to be detailed about her rape. ’Of course,’ Polanski said. ’She should say what he did to her.’ The second change I wanted to make was to write a final, truthful confession by the rapist, confirming that Paulina had correctly identified him. The play had been praised for its ’ambiguity’ in this regard. I told Polanski I thought that given the heroine’s final act, letting her rapist go, ambiguity made her mercy meaningless. Also, I said, it was a cheat. The rapist and the heroine know the truth—why are we deprived of it? ’Of course,’ Polanski said. ’Not telling the audience whether or not he is guilty is bullshit.’ Working with a rapist is not the same as condoning rape.”
5. “A Hollywood Mis-Education.” After four decades in Hollywood, James Toback has learned that you can’t: (a) stay mad at Robert Downey Jr., (b) go wrong with Robert De Niro, or (c) swear when you lose the Oscar. Plus: why he and Alec Baldwin decided to color outside the lines.
“Why make movies? For someone who has been writing and directing and—to a lesser degree—acting in and producing them for 40 years, it is a question the continuing exploration of which is essential to maintaining the energy to forge ahead. Where did it begin? Only by rummaging through years of notes did it occur to me that the impulse to become a filmmaker started two decades earlier than I had even suspected, in the films my father shot with his latest-model 8-mm. camera in Kodak color. There was no sound, so when we gathered to view the unedited result all we heard was the wheezing syncopated clicks emanating from the projector, which served only to enrich the already hypnotic, dreamlike quality of the images. I would stare at these moving images and wonder how ’I’ could be both the person on the screen and, at the same time, the physical being in the living room watching that person on the screen. How could ’I’ be ’he’? This question is perhaps more likely to prick the supple mind of a six-year-old than to disturb the more settled consciousness of an adult, but if it does prick the mind of a six-year-old, will it ever go away?”
Video of the Day: When Samuel L. Jackson is confused for Laurence Fishburne on national television:
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