1. “The Decline of the American Actor.” Why the under-40 generation of American leading men is struggling—and what to do about it.
“It’s a keen and peculiar pleasure, and one that, in the livelier young minds, can grow into a desire to keep organizing the world that way, understanding by pretending. If they’re driven enough to try to do this for a living—to become actors, and dedicate themselves to searching for truth in make-believe characters—they have to find a way to retain at least a portion of their original delight in the let’s-pretend game. In acting classes, play takes the disciplined form of directed improvisations. Those who haven’t been to acting school aren’t always comfortable making things up when the cameras are rolling, and it shows: there’s not much spontaneity in their readings or gestures, none of the pleasant illusion of life just happening that is, or should be, the aim of their art. (On the sets of big-budget movies, spontaneity isn’t highly prized, so nobody objects.)”
2. “James Salter Dies at 90.” Salter, a “writer’s writer” short on sales but long on acclaim, died on Friday in Sag Harbor, N.Y.
“His wife, Kay Eldredge, confirmed his death, saying he had been at a physical therapy session. He lived in Bridgehampton, N.Y. Mr. Salter wrote slowly, exactingly and, by almost every critic’s estimation, beautifully. Michael Dirda once observed in The Washington Post that ’he can, when he wants, break your heart with a sentence.’ But he never achieved the broad popularity he craved. ’You can’t be admitted to the ranks of writers of importance unless you have sales,’ he said. Mr. Salter had to settle for an admiring readership on college campuses and critical acclaim, even if the praise came with a touch of sympathy, as when James Wolcott described him in Vanity Fair as America’s most ’underrated underrated author.’ Always a close observer of the people around him, Mr. Salter made careful notes wherever he went—to Europe and Asia for the military, to the New York suburbs to start a family, to Manhattan to establish himself as a writer, and to Hollywood to write for movies, including Downhill Racer, a 1969 film with Robert Redford.”
3. “Daryl Hannah: It’s Scary Being in Solitary.” In the 80s, the Hollywood star was best known as a mermaid in Splash and a replicant in Blade Runner. More recently, she has concentrated on green issues, and her protests have landed her in jail. So does Sense8, her new Netflix series with the Wachowskis, herald a comeback?
“She nods. ’Oh yeah, it’s pretty funny. Generally I end up taking pictures with the sheriffs at the station. So I do get singled out—not necessarily in good ways. The times I’ve been put in jail, I’m always in solitary. Partly because they think: ‘Oh, she must be the ringleader.’ Partly to protect me from the drunks and murderers.’ She laughs at the memory. ’It’s kind of scary and boring being in solitary.’ Naturally, she makes an effort to lead by example. Her house runs on solar power; her car on recycled grease from fast food. But she acknowledges that the wider struggle verges on the Sisyphean. Does she feel hopeful? She see-saws her hand. ’I go back and forth. Sometimes I’m very optimistic, when I’ve just participated in some action with young people and can see that there is a growing awareness. But then when you see the brick wall of resistance within the legislative and political system, it can be very frustrating.’”
4. “Now That’s What I Call the Nineties.” In his latest Bombast column for Film Comment, Nick Pinkerton gets nostalgic for his movie-going days back in the ’90s.
“The coming of Jurassic Park was the apotheosis of a passionate interest in saurians which had, curiously, been winding down as my interest in movies had been ramping up. It was the moment they passed each other on the stairs, headed in different directions. By the time The Lost World came around I sure enough saw it on two consecutive days, able to drive myself to the theater at that point, but there was more to life than dinos. So much in these formative pop experiences depends on a serendipitous correspondence between personal development and a release schedule beyond our control or understanding, and in the case of Jurassic Park, the synchronicity was perfect. When these moments occur at a susceptible age, we own them as we own little else in our engagement with art, pop, whatever you want to call it—though this doesn’t and shouldn’t mean that they own us in turn. I love the Jurassic Park that I remember from that day, even as I know that the Jurassic Park that I re-watched a few days ago with a fully functioning adult brain can only be called a ’masterpiece’ if you’re playing fast and loose with the term.”
5. “Kid Chocolate.” A beautiful excerpt from Brin-Jonathan Butler’s book on Cuba’s boxing culture, The Domino Diaries: My Decade Boxing with Olympic Champions and Chasing Hemingway’s Ghost in the Last Days of Castro’s Cuba.
“Cuban eyes often look close to tears. Tears never seem far away because both their pain and their joy are always so close to the surface. There’s an open wound that defines the national character and the tide of emotions is always raw and overwhelming. Kid Chocolate was my gateway drug into those emotions. They didn’t have enough money for a bell to clang to announce the fights or declare the beginnings or ends of rounds, so they used an emptied fire extinguisher and a rusty wrench instead. My high school gym had more money sunk into it than the most famous arena residing in Cuba’s capital city. Did that detract from the atmosphere or impact? Donald Trump named everything after himself while nothing in Havana, not even a plaque, had Fidel’s name attached. Who would history remember? Nobody fighting there was paid to fight any more than anyone watching had paid to attend. Cigar and cigarette smoke curled into the rafters as bottles of rum were passed around and swigged in the audience.”
Video of the Day: St. Vincent teams up with the Chemical Brothers for “Under Neon Lights”:
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