1. “Tom Perrotta Interview.” Joel Keller interviews the Leftovers creator on how he and Damon Lindelof made his book darker for HBO.
“Look, if you want to know what happened, if that’s why you’re watching the show, you’re going to hate it because it’s not about that. It’s about how people live in the face of a mystery that is not going to be solved. It’s three years and scientists and studies say, ’We don’t know.’ There’s no religion that can explain it. And they’ve almost stopped talking about it because there’s nothing to be said. I felt like this Malaysian airliner that disappeared this year was an interesting case study on that. For about a month, it was in the news every day. CNN couldn’t stop talking about it. And what they did was just have various experts and journalists just spin whatever theory they could think of. That’s what the human mind does when it’s confronted with a question that can’t be answered is spin out crazy theories. And I think that that’s what’s going on in The Leftovers. This thing has happened, nobody can explain it and what the story is about is what people do when confronted with this gigantic hole in their understanding of the world. “
2. “Justin Bieber: A Case Study in Growing Up Cosseted and Feral.” Vanessa Grigoriadis on Bieber and his part in the theater of fame.
“Bieber is an essential player, and beneficiary, of the low-culture fixation of the moment: whether child stars, those entitled, overpaid—yet also tragic and pitiful—figures can make it across the wobbly bridge to adulthood without falling in the choppy waters below. This is a kinky national ritual, our current form of pop-culture sadism. You can call it whatever you want—the collective ethos of a nation of Puritans trying to assuage sexual anxiety; a secular society combating a fear of death by torturing a cast of teenage voodoo dolls; or, at the least, a coded language communicating parental discomfort with our own children’s growing up—but you can’t deny that it’s a totally bizarre obsession, one that could happen only in the youth-obsessed, fame-hungry, prudish and pornish land of America.”
3. “At the Death House Door.” Filmmaker’s Brandon Harris interviews Steve James on Life Itself.
“From the get-go he was instantly accessible. That’s a remarkable thing in my experience. I mean, I’ve had good luck with people over the years getting to a place of intimate connection, but usually it takes a while. Almost from the start, he knew what was required and made a decision to do it. He knows filmmaking, he knows what’s involved, he’s a journalist himself. It’s like all of those things conspired in a great way for him to let go. For instance that first suction scene, that’s one of the first things I shot. And Chaz wasn’t there, which is why we got it. Because at that point, she did not want that. He didn’t even blink. And then he had the presence of mind to send me an email later to say, ’Great stuff, you got something today, nobody gets to see suction.’”
4. “Horrible Histories: Works by John McGrath.” Michael Pattison on the pro-Scottish independence arguments from beyond the grave at the Edinburgh Film Festival.
“Border Warfare’s politics couldn’t be clearer. At two and a half hours, it’s a succinct and persuasive argument for Scottish independence. Utilising the full scale of the Tramway, with stages set up around its perimeter and without a fixed seating arrangement for the audience, McGrath both dissolves and duplicates the traditional proscenium by placing cameras among his audience, and by occasionally filming the audience responding to the action, with actors alternating their address between live viewers and the immortalising lens. The effect is at once distancing and participatory—infectiously so. Through this and several other McGrath screenings at EIFF could be heard murmurs of approval and spontaneous applause from those for whom Scottish independence remains a remarkably simple matter about a nation’s inalienable right to autonomy. As one character puts it: ’We were feeling desire for the freedom of our nation.’”
5. “25 Thoughts on the 25th Anniversary of the Seinfeld Premiere.” Some yada-yada-ing from Grantland’s Andy Greenwald.
“Seinfeld premiered 25 years ago as The Seinfeld Chronicles. I remember this because I was watching. It was a hot summer and I was at my grandparents’ house in northeastern Pennsylvania. Because there was little else to do, I often read TV Guide like a magazine. (Why it took me another two decades to start writing about television is a question for another day or my therapist.) This made me a savvy enough viewer, even then, to realize it was strange for a new sitcom to be premiering in July. And I was properly disoriented by what I saw. It wasn’t that the rhythms of that pilot were particularly unique—watch the opening scene now and it feels positively Jurassic, with the slow declarations and the cheerfully theatrical reactions to every tepid zinger. What felt strange about the show, from the very first moments, was that it appeared to be in no particular hurry to get anywhere or do anything. There was something about a girl (there was always something about a girl), but her identity, her arrival, her very existence all seemed secondary to Jerry and George’s conversation about laundry and decaf coffee.”
Video of the Day: Vashi Nedomansky takes two scenes from John Carpenter’s The Thing and laysdown the storyboards next to the shots in the final edit of the film:
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