1. “The Dream Act.” Wesley Morris on Selma.
“There’s a strategy in that sequence of shots. We watch Selma aware that King’s assassination is looming. So, in the movie, is he. That shadow is what intensifies the film’s heaviness, the responsibility King feels for the people walking with him. That’s what turns him back on the Edmund Pettus Bridge, his heeding of the awareness that the limits of nonviolence are defined by the violent. Nonviolence can’t stop man’s uglier nature, his fear of change or whatever it is that makes him shoot and whip and beat unarmed activists. In fact, if nonviolence is effective, it will provoke such ugly retaliation. In that moment, God seemed to speak to King and say, Turn back. That red carpet in the church afterward is so striking because it’s an acknowledgment of all the deaths for this cause, and of the dying left to do. The bloodshed of his followers—of every race—is a source of his sadness and guilt. He can’t save them from pain. He can only lead them into it, into slaughter. But all there is to do about that is keep marching.”
2. “Legendary Cartoonist Robert Crumb on the Massacre in Paris.” The ex-pat artist, who has lived in France for 25 years, talks to the Observer about his new cartoon of Muhammed.
“No. I thought, I gotta do it. They asked me. I gotta do it…Otherwise, everybody’s going to think: ’Where’s Crumb? Why doesn’t he come forward? What the hell’s the matter with him?’ Then I would get calls saying, ’How come you didn’t do a cartoon about this?’ Every other cartoonist in the country has done something about it. What are you, scared? What’s the matter with you? You’re too, like, comfortable in your, you know…your success and your blah blah blah…’ So, I thought, I gotta do it. You know? [Laughs.] And I didn’t want to do anything glib or, sorrow for the dead heroes and all that. Everybody else has got that covered.”
3. “A whole lotta relephants: the enduring delights of Duck Soup.” Filled with jokes about tin-pot dictators, the Marx Brothers’ 1933 film Duck Soup resonates with the politics of the time, but it’s the wonderful non-stop puns that drive this classic comedy.
“The world in 1933 was becoming increasingly overpopulated with tin-pot dictators. Is Duck Soup a political satire? Many intellectuals and academics have argued as much, though they tend to belong to the school of criticism that likes to stamp all the jokes out of comedy so that they can praise its high seriousness without fear of contradiction. A New Yorker cartoon once showed a Professor of Semiotics saying ’The tautology of their symbolism thus begins to achieve mythic proportions in A Day at the Races, Duck Soup and A Night at the Opera’. As is so often the case with New Yorker cartoons, it veers from reality only by a couple of degrees.”
4. “Michael Mann’s Network Journeys.” For Movie Mezzanine, Fernando F. Croce on Mann’s television work.
“From the very beginning, an impressionistic overture that mingles weight-lifting inmates, baleful murals, and a fuzzy instrumental riff on The Rolling Stones’ ’Sympathy for the Devil,’ it’s clear that Mann’s grasp of screen space and drive is way beyond that of the typical movie-of-the-week journeyman. Directing his first feature, Mann locates the first of his Zen athletes: Murphy (Peter Strauss), a lifer who spends his days sprinting in circles in the sandy yard, escaping the walls around him by withdrawing within himself. Glimpses of the outside world pierce through as he trains toward an Olympic goal, though bruised soberness remains the presiding mood. (As his doomed friend bluntly puts it: ’Dreams! Expectations…never gonna happen.’) Even stuck with TV’s blocky frame and the general artlessness of network storytelling, Mann manages to create a strikingly mature and resolutely non-uplifting view of the folly and defiance of hope in the face of purgatory.
5. “In Selma, Alabama, a movie makes a town remember.” Steven Zeitchick reports on the city of Selma’s response to the Ava DuVernay film.
“Several retired white city powerbrokers who were adults living in Selma in 1965 were decidedly not ready to embrace the film. ’I lived it. I don’t need to see a movie about it,’ said one, declining to be identified as he hurried away from a downtown restaurant Friday morning. Others feared for the film’s accuracy, especially since the movie only shot in Selma for a week. (It was mainly filmed in and around Atlanta.) Discussions of historical correctness that have permeated government and academic circles in recent weeks, especially about the movie’s portrayal of Lyndon Johnson, took a backseat to more nitty-gritty questions about locations and the particulars of the march. ’I understand why folks would ask questions. But I keep reminding them, ‘It’s not a documentary,’’ Evans, whose brother participated in the march, said in an interview in his office earlier in the week. ’Look at [the assassination of] J.F.K.—there is a lot of documentary footage about that and people still can’t agree on what happened.’”
Video of the Day: Season three of House of Cards gets a trailer:
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.