1. “The Making of Ghostbusters: How Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, and ’The Murricane’ Built ’The Perfect Comedy.’” From a potential lead who died of a drug overdose to a marshmallow man suit that went up in flames, Ghostbusters looked like anything but a slam-dunk when Columbia Pictures made it. How Dan Aykroyd’s big idea led to an all-time comedy classic.
“Decades later, drama continues to surround the Ghostbusters enterprise, which has seen both spectacular triumph and wilting disappointment. Despite press reports of infighting among Aykroyd, Bill Murray, and Harold Ramis (who died earlier this year), the stars of the first two Ghostbusters films, Columbia Pictures has confirmed that a long-rumored Ghostbusters III is in development. On the eve of the 30th anniversary of the original 1984 Ghostbusters, its cast, director, producers, and other industry greats share their recollections about the genesis of the Ghostbusters phenomenon, and talk about its legacy and the future of the franchise.”
2. ”Orange Is the New Black Shares Its Spotlight in a Way Most Dramas Don’t.” Matt Zoller Seitz on season two of the Netflix series.
“The second season of Orange Is the New Black kicks off with yet another act of dislocation. Piper Chapman (Taylor Schilling), who’s been doing time at the fictional Litchfield federal prison, is loaded onto a bus that will take her to a plane that will fly her to a high-security prison in Chicago, where she and her ex-lover Alex Vause (Laura Prepon) will testify against the drug dealer who once employed Alex. This is a momentary change of scenery—relax, Orange fans; the Litchfield cast isn’t going away—but it puts Jenji Kohan’s prison comedy in a wider context. The Chicago prison is bigger, tougher, and more oppressive, its inmates scarier. Piper is in a slightly better position than most fresh meat: At the end of season one, she stopped another inmate, the redneck Pennsatucky (Taryn Manning), from shanking her by beating her unconscious and knocking out most of her teeth and has gained an inflated reputation as a ’killer’ that, under these circumstances, she’s grateful to have. But with her, as elsewhere on Orange, it’s not the prison-picture clichés that resonate but the journalistic details of daily life behind bars: the weary expression on women’s faces as they’re strip-searched and given their inmate numbers. (Piper’s is 1278-1945.) Her walk-in reminds us again of how prison replicates the free world’s race-and-class-and-body-image-based sexual value system. Because she’s blonde and white and carries herself like somebody raised in privilege, the racially mixed, mostly working-class and poor inmates lining the halls react with a mix of lust, contempt, and mild awe, and a debate ensues as to which movie star Piper is (consensus: Lindsay Lohan). When Piper enters her cell, she steps on a cockroach. Her cellmates are furious because they’d trained the insect to run loose cigarettes to and from solitary confinement. The roach’s name was Yoda.”
3. “The Economics of Movie Reviews.” Dustin Rowles on why so many film critics continue to lose their jobs.
“I mean, look: We are not a huge, corporate-owned site, and we are solid enough after a decade of plugging away that we could survive a bad month. But we probably couldn’t survive three bad months. The money that is spent staffing Pajiba does not come from a well of corporate profits; like a lot of independent sites, it ultimately comes out of an individual’s bank account (that individual being me). During the past two years, I’ve taken out a loan against the company and liquidated a retirement fund from an old job to ensure I can continue to do this for as long as possible (the twins didn’t help, obviously). No one who writes for this site is earning what they deserve for the time and effort they put into it, so if we don’t review Roman Polanski’s French film, Venus in Fur, in two weeks, it’s not because we’re trying to ’save’ money. It’s because we can’t afford the loss.”
4. “A Few Words About Robert De Niro: Anatomy of an Actor.” Glenn Kenny on his upcoming book.
“There was some concern about my not including 1995’s Heat, which I do treat in a sidebar; my logic was that his appearance in that film, while containing a superb performance, did not constitute a latter-day career milestone, so to speak. From Midnight Run on, a lot of, if not most of, De Niro’s work has to do with exploiting his cachet as a movie star, a status that had never really been conferred to him prior to the Brest film. Awakenings and Meet the Parents, regardless of what you think of them, represent moves on a movie industry chess board, while Heat merely keeps the core contituency happy. Also, I suspected that Karina Longworth would tackle that film in her own Anatomy of Al Pacino, which was close to publication as I started work on De Niro. As it happens, I was correct in my surmise, and Karina did a terrifc job looking at both actors in her Heat chapter. (I should thank Karina here for her words of advice and encouragement on this project. Over the years in engaging her I have been unforgivably rude and obnoxious; one of the many good things about taking on this project was that it gave me an appropriate opportunity to reach out to her with an apology, which she graciously accepted, and I am happy to have mended fences with her.)”
5. “The 100-Year-Old Who Taught Garbo to Waltz.” For the Los Angeles Review of Books, Matt Weinstock on Hollywood background player Shep Houghton.
“This is the sort of talk you’d expect from someone who predates women’s suffrage, the Scopes trial, and bubble gum. I was reminded of John Jeremiah Sullivan’s remark, in his essay on the 92-year-old writer Andrew Lytle, that battling Lytle’s ’racism, chauvinism, anti-Semitism, class snobbery, and what I can only describe as medieval nostalgia, seemed as absurd as debating these things with a caveman. Shut up and ask him what the cave art means.’ But Houghton is no caveman. Although he clings to the lingo of a casually bigoted era, he was always a social progressive. It struck him as ’ridiculous’ when censors demanded that the navels in ’Lullaby of Broadway’ be covered with little flesh-toned patches, or when Paramount called him to reshoot an entire airplane sequence because the lady pilot had been wearing slacks. ’It tells you how corny they were in those days,’ he said. Houghton’s social circles were fluid: he went out for fried chicken with the Mills Brothers and invited gay dancer friends to his house parties. ’They came with their boyfriends, and would flounce around,’ he said fondly. ’This is my friend, they’d say—not This is my boyfriend. We didn’t make it our business, we didn’t insult them. Many of them were so clever.’”
Video of the Day: Don Cheadle pitches his Miles Davis project:
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