1. “Tilda Swinton Asks Chuck Close If He’d Rather Paint Or Walk Again.” The Oscar-winning actor and celebrated artist chat on Skype about creating art, making black ragdolls for Oprah, and why there’s no formula for getting life right.
“Oh, there’s a fabulous story someone told me about a legendary, still living, so unnamed, film star. I hope it’s not apocryphal. For many, many, many years, nobody ever saw this woman looking anything other than her public image. There was that much cake and that many eyelashes and that much wig, and all the rest of it. And there was someone who was a close friend of hers, who was staying in a hotel with her, and they had a room with adjoining doors, and the film star said, ’You will not come through this door at any point. No matter what happens, you will not come through this door. Good night. I’ll see you in the morning.’ So, that was it. And there was a fire alarm in the hotel, and the friend rang the concierge and asked ’Is this a test?’ And the concierge was, like ’No, there’s a real fire in the hotel and you’ve got to leave now.’ And he didn’t know what to do, because she told him in this very fierce way, ’Don’t open the door.’ So finally, he knocked on the door, opened it, and there sitting at the dressing table was a kind of crone, with no eyelashes, no hair, no color, sort of wizened in front of the mirror. And he didn’t know how to address her, because he didn’t know whether to acknowledge she was The Legend. So he said, ’Whoever you are, leave now!’ He went downstairs, and about 20 minutes later, she arrived perfectly made up. And they never referred to it again. I love it. It was more important to her to get burned as The Legend. It was important for her to put it together, Hang on a minute…there…now, I’m happy to burn.”
2. “Film of the Week: A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence.” Novelty enterprise, unrequited lust, historical calamity and more make a daisy-chain of human failure in the third of Roy Andersson’s magisterially morose taxidermal comedies.
“The title’s ’pigeon’ is an actual or implied presence at the opening and closing of the film. In the first shot, it’s seen as a taxidermied specimen in a museum display case; in the closing, it is represented by an offscreen coo that captures the attention of some taxidermied-looking Swedes waiting at a bus stop on a Wednesday morning. Andersson prefers to shoot from a perspective as fixed as that of the bird in the ornithology display—I counted one camera move in Pigeon, this a very slight pan to the right—while the way he stages scenes gives them the aspect of a vitrine or diorama, as opposed to the surveillance camera-perspective developed by Ruben Östlund, another native of Gothenburg. Andersson’s subjects don’t move much more than his frame does; they often stand almost stock-still, alienated from their environments and interfacing with them almost not at all, as though they’ve been green-screened into place.”
3. “Baltimore.” Some brief thoughts on the riots in Baltimore by David Simon, creator of The Wire.
“First things first. Yes, there is a lot to be argued, debated, addressed. And this moment, as inevitable as it has sometimes seemed, can still, in the end, prove transformational, if not redemptive for our city. Changes are necessary and voices need to be heard. All of that is true and all of that is still possible, despite what is now loose in the streets. But now—in this moment—the anger and the selfishness and the brutality of those claiming the right to violence in Freddie Gray’s name needs to cease. There was real power and potential in the peaceful protests that spoke in Mr. Gray’s name initially, and there was real unity at his homegoing today. But this, now, in the streets, is an affront to that man’s memory and a dimunition of the absolute moral lesson that underlies his unnecessary death. If you can’t seek redress and demand reform without a brick in your hand, you risk losing this moment for all of us in Baltimore. Turn around. Go home. Please.”
4. “The Timeless Pleasure of Laura Mulvey.” For Little White Lies, Sophie Monks Kaufman on what Mulvey’s seminal feminist essay still tells us about gender politics in cinema.
“Laura Mulvey’s essay is a giant. Like pure alcohol, it is too intense to be quaffed down in one gulp and is best taken in small percentages diluted with one’s own individual ideas and interpretations. Like pure alcohol, it is intoxicating. It is so powerful that 40 years have barely caused any evaporation of meaning—although, personally, I didn’t get much from the castration imagery. I know that Freudian/ academic language is intimidating to people that don’t relate to those worlds but I believe that there is mesmerising, tongue-twisting meaning knit into the soul of Mulvey’s words that can stir anyone willing to give it a whirl.”
5. “The Time Ernest Hemingway Hit Orson Welles with a Chair.” Below is an excerpt from Josh Karp’s Orson Welles’ Last Movie.
“Shocked by Welles’s audacity, Hemingway immediately went after the softest spot he could find and used Orson’s theater background to infer that he was gay and didn’t know a thing about war or other manly pursuits. More than a decade later, Hemingway would tell John Huston that every time Welles said ’infantry’ it ’was like a cocksucker swallowing.’ Not yet fat, young Orson Welles was still a big man, tall and sturdy, with large feet. Despite his size, however, Welles wasn’t prone to violence. But, having dealt with bullies since his youth, he knew just how to retaliate. If the hairy-chested author wanted a faggot, Orson would give him one. So, great actor that he was, Welles camped it up and drove Hemingway over the edge. ’Mister Hemingway,’ Welles lisped in the swishiest voice he could muster, ’how strong you are and how big you are!’”
Video of the Day: The official restricted trailer for Ted 2:
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