1. “Talk to the Animals.” In his latest Laser Age column, Keith Phipps on human/animal relationship.
“It’s a final misogynistic twist in a tale dripping with misogyny, one that prompted science-fiction writer and critic Joanna Russ to write a lengthy evisceration whose opening paragraph declared, ’I proclaim publicly right here that sending a woman to see A Boy And His Dog is like sending a Jew to a movie that glorifies Dachau.’ It’s also self-aware enough to suggest irony has been hardwired into it, though this interpretation might be overly kind. (The film’s awful final line, which Ellison hated, to say nothing of the contrast between Ellison’s typically sharp writing and Jones’ relatively pedestrian direction, makes it a little easier to read it this way in the source material.) Vic leaves a surface world in which women have become an endangered species, and joins an underground world made to resemble an idealized—and deeply patriarchal—American past. Both worlds are, in their own way, awful, and both are awful places to be a woman. Not that the dim-bulb Vic gives much thought to such issues. He begins the film as an unrepentant rapist. He ends it by feeding the first woman to awaken tender thoughts in him to his dog, locking him forever in a post-apocalyptic nightmare version of the boy’s-own-adventure tale suggested by the title. Blood isn’t Vic’s Jiminy Cricket, he’s a shaggy Tinkerbell. The boy will never grow up.”
2. “Bergdahl Is Said to Have History of Leaving Post.” The plot thickens.
“A classified military report detailing the Army’s investigation into the disappearance of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl in June 2009 says that he had wandered away from assigned areas before—both at a training range in California and at his remote outpost in Afghanistan—and then returned, according to people briefed on it. The roughly 35-page report, completed two months after Sergeant Bergdahl left his unit, concludes that he most likely walked away of his own free will from his outpost in the dark of night, and it criticized lax security practices and poor discipline in his unit. But it stops short of concluding that there is solid evidence that Sergeant Bergdahl, then a private, intended to permanently desert. Whether Sergeant Bergdahl was a deserter who never intended to come back, or simply slipped away for a short adventure amid an environment of lax security and discipline and was then captured, is one of many unanswered questions about his disappearance.”
3. “Cannes Get Enough.” Dennis Lim wraps up his time on the Croisette.
“Forty-six years after he and his comrades stormed the stage at the Cannes Film Festival to shut down the event in solidarity with the workers and students on the barricades, Jean-Luc Godard, now eighty-three, proved that he still has what it takes to stop this circus in its tracks. For those who came here for the films—as opposed to the conspicuous consumption and permanent hangover of this Hollywood-meets-Eurotrash spring break, with its socialite yacht parties, billionaire charity auctions, and luxury-brand pageantry—the single official screening of Godard’s 3-D opus, Goodbye to Language, was easily this year’s defining event. Lines started forming nearly two hours before the film (which runs all of seventy minutes) and the lights in the Grand Théâtre Lumiere went down to a spontaneous yell of ’Godard forever!’ and rowdy cheers. Less a culmination of the polyphonic mode that is Late Godard than an acceleration, the film is a furiously associative meditation on humanity and history, cinematic and linguistic meaning, the world of nature and the nature of reality—all refracted through fragmentary episodes involving an adulterous couple and dog’s-eye-view roamings through a light-streaked forest. The stereoscopic tricks and compositions are at minimum witty; at their most startling, they renew the reality of the screen image. It’s a bravura display of what a master formalist can do with a technology that cinema, now more than ever, equates simply with spectacle.”
4. “Wilde’s world of journalism.” Stefano Evangelista on the ongoing Complete Works of Oscar Wilde.
“Some interests stand out clearly, though. First of all, fashion. Together with his wife Constance, Wilde was a promoter of what the Victorians called ’rational dress’: he campaigned for a looser and more comfortable style of clothing that would liberate women from corseting and tight-lacing. He thought that, instead of shoes, women should wear clogs (perhaps inlaid with ivory and pearls) and adopt an updated version of ancient Greek dress over a ’substratum’ of sensible modern German underwear, which would help to ward off the chills of the English climate. Wilde took clothing very seriously—if seriousness is a register that made any sense to him at all. He thought that dress should be regarded as a form of applied art, which brought the realm of the aesthetic out of museums and galleries and into everyday life.”
Video of the Day: The video for Europa Europa and the Knife’s “För Alla Namn Vi Inte Får Använda”:
5. “A Spoiler-filled review of Edge of Tomorrow.” Richard Brody on the new Tom Crusie tent pole.
“Edge of Tomorrow conveys its ingenious, historically resonant premise but never develops it. The narrative is high-concept gimmickry realized with efficiency and energy but not much imagination. The engineering of the intricate story, and the deft dovetailing needed to iterate multiple lives in rapid succession, seem to have taxed Liman’s art, as does the effort to simulate chemistry between Cruise and Blunt. She’s an active and alert performer who, throughout, seems to want more—a character with a life story to sink her interpretive teeth into—whereas Cruise takes Cage’s one-note backstory, the cowardly out-of-work ad man, and expands it, and himself, to the breaking point. Cruise’s eternal sheen of callow youth is integrated into the very substance of the film. As Cage is converted by circumstances into a hardened and capable fighting machine (veering toward superhero territory), the story tracks his dramatic transformation, in under two hours, from a raw trainee into a military hero. Edge of Tomorrow turns out to be the movie that Cage was ordered to make: his greatest recruiting film.”
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