1. “Blood, Guts, Bullets, and Unproduced Screenplays.” The Real and Incomplete Movies of Joe Carnahan.
“White Jazz is another ’Carnahan Brothers’ joint; the pairing is yet to actually surface onscreen. Carnahan isn’t afraid to sound crass when he says the movie transcends Ellroy. He’ll even go one step further: ’The script is better than that book. My brother and I wrote a hell of a script. It took us a long time and we busted our asses.’ It’s another script, he says, that scares away talent; it’s physically and mentally demanding. Carnahan never spoke to George Clooney before Clooney stepped away from the project and never heard a straight answer from his producer, Grant Heslov, as to why it didn’t work out. Carnahan can only guess. ’They call [lead character Dave Klein] ’The Enforcer.’ I said to George[’s people], ’You’re going to have to build up your neck and almost be like a bull terrier.’ This is not a dig at Clooney at all, but that’s three or four months in the gym, pounding it out to get a very specific look, because you can’t look shredded. That’s not 1958. They were throwing people through windows—that’s how they were building muscle mass.’ Where’s Liam Neeson when you need him?”
2. “Alone Together.” For Reverse Shot, Adam Nayman interviews Mia Hansen-Løve.
“It does belong to him more than it does to me, there’s no question. But on the other hand, he knows how much time I spent supporting him, and dancing at his parties, and how much I loved that music and how much it meant to me. He understood that the admiration I had for him when I was a teenager and the pleasure I took from his music. That was what I was trying to capture. I haven’t ever been as close with my brother as when we made Eden. For three years now, we’ve spent every day of our life together. We used to be close but not that close. We spent a year listening to music, choosing songs one by one. He helped Félix [de Givry] to get ready [to play Paul]. He showed him how to DJ. I’ve never had a proper production office, so I finally rented a place and somebody donated a record player for us. Félix and Sven would be there practicing [DJ technique] while I was writing in the next room. We were like a trio on this film. I’ve always had a strong relationship with actors on my films, but not like this. Felix even helped us find money for the film! He was involved in every step of the film.”
3. “Doomsday Machines.” Fail-Safe was a flop, but it’s much smarter about nuclear war than Dr. Strangelove.
“Where Dr. Strangelove’s subversiveness comes from its suggestion that the military leadership gets off on the prospect of nuclear war, Fail-Safe makes clear that none of its characters wanted the attack. The closest thing to an antagonist is professor Groeteschele. Like the titular Dr. Strangelove, he is philosophically drawn from Herman Kahn, the man who created the theory of nuclear strategy, of acceptable losses in millions of deaths. Early in the movie, he slaps and berates a woman who finds the idea of mass demise erotic. ’I’m not your kind,’ he tells her. He isn’t driven by bloodlust, just blood logic, and the moral indemnity of reason.”
4. “The Pleasure of Reading Difficult Novels (And Maybe The Goldfinch).” Glenn Kenny has spent much of 2014 reading long, unwieldy, and sometimes “stiff” novels.
“I don’t always take pleasure in what’s difficult, but I am not predisposed to be daunted, either. My taste has its roots in affectation, to be entirely honest. I was a weird kid growing up in the ’60s and ’70s, and so, I decided to like weird kid stuff. The weird kid market was kind of underserved back then, so aside from mass-market paperback MAD Magazine compilations, and that one Madeleine L’Engle book everyone read (and which I thought was great, too; still do), I also went hard for Burgess, Burroughs, and other weird-adult stuff. (I can’t really recommend this in retrospect; reading Genet’s Funeral Rites as an eighth grader—I thought the author looked super cool on the cover of the Grove Press paperback edition—messed with me in ways I’m still having trouble unpacking.) Along the way, the affectation stuck. It took me a lot longer to learn to think critically about the stuff I read, and watched, and listened to.”
5. “You Must Remember This #17.” Karina Longworth’s latest podcast over at YMRT is on Theda Bara, Hollywood’s first sex symbol.
“Theda Bara might be the most significant celebrity pioneer whose movies you’ve never seen. She was the movie industry’s first sex symbol; the first femme fatale; the first silent film actress to have a fictional identity invented for her by publicists and sold through a receptive media to a public who was happy to be conned; and she might have been America’s first homegrown goth. She was one of the three biggest stars in Hollywood during her heyday — the other two being Charlie Chaplin and Mary Pickford — but by the early 1920s, the Victorian sexual panic she represented was way passé, thanks to the rise of the flapper, and Bara couldn’t get a job. Today most of her films are lost, and culturally she’s all but been forgotten. In this episode, we’ll trace her life and brief, bright career, and talk about what it was like to be a working actress, one of the most famous women in the world, and the embodiment of an intentionally scary fantasy during the very first days of Hollywood.”
Video of the Day: Pharrell’s “Gust of Wind” video directed by Edgar Wright:
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