1. “Express Yourself: The Making of Madonna’s 20 Greatest Music Videos.” The directors who worked alongside the MTV-era maverick tell their stories. (Below is Mary Lambert on her “Like a Prayer” clip.)
“I knew that we were pushing some big buttons, but I sort of underestimated the influence and bigotry of fundamentalist religion and racism in this country and the world. I always think that, if my work is successful, it goes beyond my intentions and in this case it definitely did. The most important thing was to force people to reimagine their visual references and really root out their prejudices. Using burning crosses to reference racism to religion. Why not a Black Jesus? Why can’t you imagine kissing him? I wanted to speak about ecstasy and to show the relationship between sexual and religious ecstasy. I think that subconsciously a lot of people understood this and were either enthralled or outraged by it. Consciously, I don’t think a lot of the audience would have made this interpretation.”
2. “True Myth.” Pitchfork’s Ryan Dombal chats with Sufjan Stevens.
“Carrie & Lowell is not a sentimental affair, though. Stevens brings out all of the hurt and confusion of his relationship with his mother, as well as the debilitating aftermath of her passing, with lyrics that are poetic and unflinching. He sings of suicidal thoughts, regret, violence, brushfires, hospitals, shadows, recklessness, blood. ’I just wanted to be near you,’ he pleads on the album, exposing the core of his own history. ’With this record, I needed to extract myself out of this environment of make-believe,’ he says, pulling at his sneaker’s red tongue. ’It’s something that was necessary for me to do in the wake of my mother’s death—to pursue a sense of peace and serenity in spite of suffering. It’s not really trying to say anything new, or prove anything, or innovate. It feels artless, which is a good thing. This is not my art project; this is my life.’”
3. ”Reverse Shot in Space.” Michael Koresky and Jeff Reichert introduce a new symposium.
“So what are we talking about when we talk about space in a purely visual sense? In an odd quirk of cinephilia, we are especially fetishizing of a film’s frame, and as such we obsess over how the director ’fills out’ the mise-en-scène. It’s perhaps why Wes Anderson is among the most widely popular of contemporary film artists: He really gives good frame, cramming it with as many colors, tchotchkes, eye-catching costumes, and eccentric folks that a 2.35:1 or wider width can handle. Other contemporary filmmakers, like Lisandro Alonso or Pedro Costa or Bruno Dumont, also tend to be discussed in terms of space, but for a different reason: there’s so much emptiness in their frames, situating characters against or within stark landscapes that seem to bear down on them rather than give them latitude for movement. We talk a lot about how the camera moves through space, and the implications of those choices to move in or out or sideways, but it’s rare that we just stop to consider the size and shape of the frame itself. And isn’t this where every film starts?”
4. ”Take What You Can Carry Director Matthew Porterfield, Producer Zsuzsanna Kiràly and d.p. Jenny Lou Ziegel on Collaborating Outside the System in Germany.” Andrew Grant spoke with the filmmakers at Berlinale, where Take What You Can Carry had its premiere.
“Berlin appears to be a meeting place for people from all over, but I’ve been feeling it my own life as well. Splitting my time between Baltimore and New York, combined with a lot of festival travel, I drew on my own feelings of transience and impermanence. It was a challenge to represent a city like Berlin, to find something that hadn’t been done, and without seeming too touristic.”
5. “The Catholic Pagan.” 10 questions for Camille Paglia.
“After the great victory won by my insurgent, pro-sex, pro-fashion wing of feminism in the 1990s, American and British feminism has amazingly collapsed backward again into whining, narcissistic victimology. As in the hoary old days of Gloria Steinem and her Stalinist cohorts, we are endlessly subjected to the hackneyed scenario of history as a toxic wasteland of vicious male oppression and gruesome female suffering. College campuses are hysterically portrayed as rape extravaganzas where women are helpless fluffs with no control over their own choices and behavior. I am an equal opportunity feminist: that is, I call for the removal of all barriers to women’s advance in the professional and political realms. However, I oppose special protections for women, which I reject as demeaning and infantilizing. My principal demand (as I have been repeating for nearly 25 years) is for colleges to confine themselves to education and to cease their tyrannical surveillance of students’ social lives.”
Video of the Day: For the BBC, John Boorman reveals the films that shaped him:
Links for the Day: A collection of links to items that we hope will spark discussion. We encourage our readers to submit candidates for consideration to firstname.lastname@example.org and to converse in the comments section.