1. “Toronto Film Festival Lineup Announced.” The festival has unveiled a first round of titles for its 2014 edition.
“The 39th Toronto International Film Festival has announced its initial slate of galas and special presentations, which includes 37 world premieres and several films with Oscar ambitions. The Judge, which stars Robert Downey Jr. as a big-city lawyer who reluctantly returns home and ends up defending his revered father (Robert Duvall) against criminal charges, will have its world premiere in Toronto. His Avengers pal, Chris Evans, will unveil his own directorial debut in Toronto, titled Before We Go. Also noteworthy: James Gandolfini’s final film, The Drop, which also stars Tom Hardy and Noomi Rapace; another Jason Reitman Toronto world premiere, Men, Women and Children, starring Jennifer Garner and Adam Sandler; the Stephen Hawking biopic The Theory of Everything; and films directed by Jon Stewart and Chris Rock. Toronto made some changes this year, motivated by the increasing competition for world premieres from rival fall festivals. Since films like Foxcatcher and David Cronenberg’s Maps to the Stars debuted in Cannes, they won’t be slotted during the fest’s first four days, which are being reserved strictly for world premieres. In recent years, the Telluride, Venice, and New York festivals had poached some big titles from Toronto, and TIFF is now making an effort to reward films that hold their premieres for the trip north. The Toronto Film Festival runs Sept. 4-14.”
2. “Radiohead’s motion picture soundtracks.” David Ehrlich on the use (and misuse) of the popular band’s music on film.
“Radiohead fans know that the group makes sport of the literal, and that ’Motion Picture Soundtrack’ isn’t actually about a motion picture soundtrack any more than ’Myxomatosis’ is actually about rabbits developing skin tumors, or ’Idioteque’ is actually about…whatever an idioteque is. This is, after all, the same band that took a wrenching guitar ballad called ’True Love Waits’—a rare and revered live staple that the band denied Cameron Crowe permission to use in Vanilla Sky—and used it as a trojan horse to express the horrors of romantic infatuation.”
3. “39 Pieces of Advice for Journalists and Writers of Color.” Established writers of color offer priceless advice for those just starting out.
“For people of color, the writing industry can seem an especially challenging space, particularly for those just starting out. We spoke with 20 established writers of color—cultural writers, investigative reporters, broadcast journalists, and freelancers—and asked them three questions about the advice that they’d give beginning writers. What piece of advice would you, as a writer of color, give to burgeoning writers/journalists of color? What do you know now about being a writer of color that you wish you’d known when you first started? Is there anything you did as a writer starting out that you now regret?”
4. “Exploring Israel-Palestine Through Movies: Part 1.” This series presents the situation in four installments. First, we will explore religious films. Second, we will survey attempts at good will and attempts at hostility. Third, we will explore Israel from the perspective of pro-Israeli filmmakers. Fourth, we will explore Palestine from the perspective of pro-Palestinian filmmakers.
“The goal is to touch upon the various narratives that guide us in viewing the people, the land, and the problems. In Narrative, there are heroes and villains, and a lot of empty spaces. The Western Narrative usually leaves out the Islamic influence (especially during the Medieval period) and Colonization. The American Narrative downplays the genocide of the Native Americans and the Transatlantic Slave Trade as aberrations. Thus, narratives massage facts. Likewise, each religion sees itself and sees others through its own lens. Judaism sees Christianity and Islam as offshoots. Christianity sees itself—rather, sees Jesus Christ—as the fulfillment of Judaism, while seeing Islam as a parallel, sometimes competing, tradition with similar origins and theologies. Islam sees itself as the oldest of religions, with Judaism and Christianity as offshoots, in that Islam claims Abraham, Moses, and Jesus as prophets of Islam as Judaism claims Abraham as a patriarch of Judaism; may peace be upon them all. The point is that when we speak of narratives, legitimacy may not come from fact but from belief. We do not believe in the narratives because they are true; they are true because we believe in them. Sometimes these narratives fit well together, and sometimes they clash. When we speak of the land called Israel or Palestine, we seem to only speak of clash.”
5. “A ’New’ New Hope.” Mallory Andrew, for Sound on Sight, on film preservation and the problem with Star Wars.
“The argument that the updated version of Star Wars constitutes Lucas’ original ’artistic vision’ is not entirely cohesive. Such an admission implies that, had computer generated graphics existed in the 1970s as they do today, Lucas’ original version of Star Wars would have more closely resembled the Special Edition. However, this argument is historically and technologically deterministic—that Lucas was somehow destined to make the Special Edition at any point in history. Films as artifacts are a product of their cultural, historical, and aesthetic limitations, and as such, the original Star Wars theatrical prints should be preserved as a representation of science fiction filmmaking in the late-70s and early-80s.”
Video of the Day: Kevin B. Lee on erotic films that pass the Bechdel test:
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