1. “The Essential Labor Films.” Ella Taylor, for Fandor, on the must-see movies of the working world.
“Is manual labor dying? For that matter, is the job as we know it on its way out the door? What does it feel like to work fifteen-hour days sewing jeans in Guangzhou for large-waisted Westerners—and then get laid off by recession? Exactly who were those guys who blew up the world economy in 2008? Did Mark Zuckerberg really invent Facebook because he didn’t get the girl? Why do we love procedurals? What the hell is ’women’s work?’ Can a Parisian rat aspire to gourmet chef? And last but by no means least, can I please have that striped power suit Rosalind Russell wore to get the story and reel in Cary Grant in His Girl Friday? Among the twenty-five films I’ve chosen to honor Labor Day you won’t find Man With a Movie Camera, or Modern Times, or even anything by that fly-on-the-wall of the working world, Fred Wiseman. Not because they don’t belong, but because this isn’t a top twenty-five list. It’s a blend of the canonical, the catholic and the idiosyncratic—a personal best culled from movies that speak to the pressing concerns of our age. Some chart the great changes that have rolled over our working world—global corporatism, marvelous innovation, alienation, unemployment, class inequality and conflict, environmental ruin. Others parse their meanings of these shifts, or draw beauty from ugliness or rage against the machine. Still others dwell on work undertaken for love of labor or fellow human beings.”
2. “Jennifer Lawrence Nude Photo Leak Isn’t A Scandal. It’s A Sex Crime.” Forbes’s Scott Mendelson on the nude photo leak that’s targeted Lawrence and other celebrities.
“It is not the responsibility of our female population to take ’X’ number of steps to lessen the chance that a member of our male population will engage in untoward conduct towards them, be it assault or street harassment. As a society, we deal with violence, especially sexual violence, against women in much the wrongheaded manner that we have fought the war on drugs. We focus on the supply-side, with an emphasis on the things that women must do to ’stay safe’ instead of focusing on lessening mens’ ’demand’ to view women as purely a disposable commodity. In short, we emphasize how women can prevent being assaulted instead of telling men and boys not to assault women in the first place. Instead of condemning those who would steal the private photographs and publish them online for all to see, we condemn or belittle the women who chose to create said private photographs in the first place. Ms. Lawrence, Ms. Winstead, and the like have absolutely nothing to apologize for. They have not been scandalized, but rather victimized.”
3. “With the Unrest in Ferguson, Masters of Sex Has Become Surprisingly Topical.” Slate’s Dee Lockett on how the show offers some historical context for what’s happening in Ferguson now.
“Just how little Masters cares about historical progress comes to light when a black reporter tries to write about both him and his sex study for the St. Louis Chronicle. After she inquires about his firings by two previous hospitals, Masters goes to the paper’s editor to make him pull a story that could ’paint him as an ostracized and unstable figure.’ If they run such a story, he says, he’ll publish a study that claims to validate widely held stereotypes about black people—that they have larger penises, greater sexual appetite, and elevated testosterone levels.”
4. “Some Things Last a Long Time.” Alex Pappademas chats with founding SNL writer Tom Schiller about the secret history of the show’s short films.
“Albert Brooks did some terrific films, but they were so long. They were like five minutes, seven, and they became longer and longer. The ideal length for a film on that show, I discovered, was two and a half minutes. That’s as long as you could sustain someone’s interest without imposing on the show. Also, it’s a challenge to do a beginning, middle, and end in two and a half minutes. Anyway, some of it got so long that they stopped using Albert Brooks. Then they used a guy named Gary Weis, who I knew from growing up in L.A. at Topanga Beach. He was a surfer, but he used to make films and show them to the surfers. One of them was an airplane flying overhead, and then he superimposed a seagull flying at the same time, a double image, and he showed this to the surfers, and they were like, ’Oh, wow, man, that’s good.’ Not to knock him—he did do some really sweet films for that show. And then I don’t know what happened. I guess he moved on, and it was my turn. My first one was called ’The Acid Generation: Where Are They Now?’ It was all these old people remembering Jimi Hendrix as if it was yesterday. So that was the joke. I shot it in Venice [California] in an old people’s home.”
5. “Bombast: Kim’s Video.” Nick Pinkerton on his time working for the now-defunct video store.
“My attitude was not a problem at Avenue A, where surliness was part of the uniform—in the space of six weeks, my attitude had even improved, and I had rocketed up the ranks to the post of assistant manager, thanks in large part to my aggressive, enthusiastic expansion of the Auteurs section. (I added ’André de Toth.’) The concurrent pay raise kicked my salary up to the princely sum of $6.00, paid weekly in a crisp white envelope, cash on the barrelhead. On a 40-hour week, that meant take-home pay of $240, and astonishing as this now may seem, this was somehow enough to live off of in New York City, thanks to my being possessed of a young person’s ability to contently live like an animal. I was sustained by an affordable cheese slice across the street, twofer drinks specials at Opaline, a neighboring basement bar whose claim to fame was their underwear dance parties, and 99-cent, 16-ounce Hollandias—a pissy Heineken knockoff lager—at the bodega on the way home.”
Video of the Day: The trailer for Abel Ferrara’s Pasolini:
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