1. “The Movies’ 50 Greatest Pop Music Moments.” There are few more powerful combinations than when just the right song meets just the right scene. To put all our favorites in one place, The Dissolve compiled 50 remarkable combinations of pop music (broadly defined) and moviemaking.
“[Nathan Rabin on Do the Right Thing and its use of ’Fight the Power’ by Public Enemy] Cinematic introductions don’t get more dramatic or inspired than Rosie Perez’s first scene in Do The Right Thing (which was also her film debut). The film opens with Perez, then best known as a choreographer and dancer, dancing by herself on an empty stage, while images of the Brooklyn neighborhood where the film takes place are projected in the background. And it all plays against the incendiary backdrop of Public Enemy’s ’Fight The Power.’ Perez’s dancing is aggressive and pugilistic; she alternates between skin-tight outfits and boxing attire in a sequence that establishes a tone of feverish intensity before its characters speak a single word. This is what throwing down the gauntlet looks and sounds like.”
2. “It’s Finally Time to Stop Caring About Lauryn Hill.” I used to love her. I don’t anymore.
“But much of Hill’s fade from the mainstream seems to have to do with some vague protest of authority, the media and other institutional forces. When she shut down her non-profit Refugee Project, aimed at helping urban youth, she reportedly made the following statement: ’I had a nonprofit organization and I had to shut all that down. You know, smiling with big checks, obligatory things, not having things come from a place of passion. That’s slavery. Everything we do should be a result of our gratitude for what God has done for us. It should be passionate.’ Making obligatory appearances for your charitable organization is equivalent to slavery?”
3. “The Little-Known Story of How The Shawshank Redemption Became One of the Most Beloved Films of All Time.” A dud at the box office when it opened 20 years ago this week, The Shawshank Redemption now perennially tops IMDb’s favorite-movies list—the ultimate in “guy cry” cinema. A story of studio maneuvering, big paychecks deferred, and well-earned roof suds.
“At heart, the film is that rare beast: a relationship movie for men. As [Tim] Robbins puts it, ’Here was a movie about the friendship of two men without a car chase in it.’ [Morgan] Freeman goes one step further, saying, ’To me it was a love affair. It was two men who really loved each other.’ Andy and Red’s on-screen relationship, nurtured over decades, mirrors the intimate connection viewers gradually built with the film over the same time frame. Eventually coming upon Shawshank while flipping channels had a hypnotic effect for many: there was Freeman’s omnipresent honeypot voice luring audiences to entertainment comfort food like a siren. Steven Spielberg has called it his ’chewing-gum movie,’ says [Frank] Darabont. ’In other words, you’ve stepped in it and can’t get it off your foot. You have to watch the rest of the movie.’ Perhaps this is because, as Anthony Lane wrote in an October 1994 New Yorker Film File, despite ’moments of hokey togetherness, and way too much voice-over…the picture stays on track and leaves you, appropriately enough, with a surging sense of release.’”
4. “Manhattan Transference.” Over at Reverse Shot, Ashley Clark on Taxi Driver.
“In many cases, Taxi Driver skillfully transfers Bickle’s latent racism onto other characters, and this hostility is often freighted with an unmistakable sexual element. The scenes immediately following Bickle’s rejection by Betsy, for example, constitute a master class in evoking the specter of black-male sexual potency through allusive textual detail; they brilliantly introduce a further layer of anguish to an already rich psychological portrait. Bickle picks up a fare played by Scorsese himself (legend has it that the actor slated to play the role couldn’t make it that day). This weaselly cuckold instructs Bickle to pull over before unleashing an unnervingly vitriolic tirade from the backseat: ’See the woman in the window? That’s my wife. Do you know who lives there? A nigger lives there. And I’m going to kill her.’ Of the many alarming things about this sequence—including the astonishing sight of Scorsese giddily appearing in such a disgusting light—one that sticks out is the verbalized intention of the man to kill the transgressing woman rather than the man.”
5. “3 Simpsons Showrunners Reflect on New Fans and the ’Classic Era’ Myth.” Vulture’s David Jesse Fox sits with showrunners Matt Selman and David Mirkin and current showrunner Al Jean to to talk about ’Simpsons World,’ writing episodes that mess with the traditional structure, and the myth of the ’classic era.’
“Yeah, the same group that didn’t want to do the crossover with The Critic was also very frightened of the Homer in space episode [’Deep Space Homer’]. It’s been talked about as a controversy, and it so much wasn’t for me because I never told the vast majority of the staff that story. It was just because when I was coming up with it, the timing wasn’t right, I didn’t want to talk about it, we weren’t at a story retreat. But, when I came up with the concept, I sat down with Conan O’Brien and George Meyer and went over the story with them and what I wanted to do. And they loved it. They both could be very critical in a great way, so once they were onboard, I knew it was fine. Al and Mike Reiss were still consulting on the show, and it was the same thing: The guys that were running the show said, ’This is great, there’s no problem here.’ So the higher levels of the show, we weren’t worried at all. But there was a lot of energy going on underneath that we weren’t even aware of.”
Video of the Day: The reissue trailer for Jacques Tati’s Playtime:
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.