1. “What All Is By My Side Gets Wrong About Hendrix.” Glenn Kenny on what the film asks us to take in faith.
“Am I doing some musicological nit-picking here? I sure am. But that’s because without that, one is likely to come up with an unappealing caricature of Hendrix, and that’s what Jimi: All Is By My Side finally amounts to. The movie, which does not credit [Charles] Cross’s biography as a source, uses (and changes, or arguably distorts) many of the anecdotes therein, including one in which an enraged Hendrix physically attacks Etchingham with a telephone receiver. In Cross’s book, the event is depicted as highly uncharacteristic. While an accomplished traveler in psychedelics, Hendrix simply couldn’t handle liquor. ’Any aggression he displayed was usually linked to excessive drinking…his quick temper…seemed in such contrast to his normally polite manner.’ Hendrix’s traumatic childhood (into which Cross’ biography digs deep), combined with the permissive mien of his time and environment, not to mention his vocation, led to not-unpredictable problems with intimacy and personal commitment. But as depicted in Jimi: All Is By My Side, all of these considerations are compressed so as to create a bald and distasteful picture of a Violent Black Man With Woman Problems. In another scene, Etchingham whinges about wanting to go out and have fun while Hendrix, the windows of his apartment papered over to enhance his desired isolation, stares vegetatively at a television. This is supposed to be someone whose command of his instrument extended forwards, backwards, upside-down and sideways over every millimeter of the fretboard and beyond, who is always depicted by friends and colleagues as never not having a guitar within arm’s reach.”
2. “This Endanger’d Isle.” For the Los Angeles Review of Books, Amy Wilentz on Ian McEwan’s The Children Act.
“Well, you can’t start a book with the one-word sentence ’London.’ and not have it be about London (which means England). That’s what Dickens was writing about and that’s what McEwan is writing about. In part, McEwan opens with the echo to show how much the England of Dickens has changed. Fiona Maye, McEwan’s protagonist, is a family division judge who decides matters of custody as well as child welfare. She’s an authoritative woman, a figure who does not exist in the judicial world of the Dickens novel. Things are rather cut and dried now in the Inns of Court, McEwan shows us. There are no mad women ranting in the courtrooms, no rag and bottle dealers across the way. And no fan of gin goes up in flames caused by spontaneous combustion. No, in this new world, eccentricity has been rubbed flat, and the law shows a regard for numbers and an adherence to a kind of strict, dry, but efficient code that it did not in Jarndyce v Jarndyce, the infamous, corrupt, multigenerational inheritance case that, in Bleak House, strews misery and death in its wake. As McEwan writes of his judge: ’She believed she brought reasonableness to hopeless situations.’ In Bleak House, the legal community brings hopelessness to reasonable situations.”
3. “Land of La La.” Jeff Reichert on David Cronenberg’s Maps to the Stars.
“Let us assume for an instant that perhaps Cronenberg is fully aware his satire is stale, that his critique of contemporary Hollywood lacks trenchancy. So what, then is Maps to the Stars up to? Is it an honest portrait of a family laid low by Hollywood’s dream machine? As we learn more about the Weiss clan, a core incestuous relationship that has defined the family’s present is revealed. As well, when Benjie and Agatha are finally reunited, there’s a queasily palpable erotic tension between the pair—before their separation, they once played a game where they pretended to wed, and Agatha seems insistent on picking things up where they left off. Is Maps, then, a modern-day stab at Sophoclean tragedy? Paul Elard’s poem ’Liberté’ (once airdropped by the thousands over occupied WWII Paris) is read by various characters throughout—is the film, then, an anguished cry against a system that totalizes and destroys lives in the process of creating entertainment for others? Is Cronenberg telegraphing an allegiance to Billy Wilder that his body of work thus far has never suggested?”
4. “Steven Soderbergh Is Doing Some Next-Level Work on The Knick.” Matt Zoller Seitz takes a moment to appreciate what we’re watching when we watch The Knick.
“When we see shots of African-Americans being battered by a white mob, the camera tracks the action laterally through a chain-link fence in the foreground. The fence creates a kind of ’scrim’ effect: You see the gist of the horror, but not every detail. The fence bit consists of three acts of violence that last about 12 seconds total, but they’re so ugly that 12 seconds is all Soderbergh needs to get the point across. Even the most prolonged moments of savagery, such as a fight in a hospital hallway and a scene of a prone man being kicked, are shot so as to obscure the bloody details. I wouldn’t call this approach ’tasteful,’ exactly. There’s a touch of the documentary to it; it’s journalistic, perhaps cold. It’s unflinching, but not exploitive. It feels right.”
5. “Camille Paglia: The Modern Campus Cannot Comprehend Evil.” Young women today do not understand the fragility of civilization and the constant nearness of savage nature.
“There is a ritualistic symbolism at work in sex crime that most women do not grasp and therefore cannot arm themselves against. It is well-established that the visual faculties play a bigger role in male sexuality, which accounts for the greater male interest in pornography. The sexual stalker, who is often an alienated loser consumed with his own failures, is motivated by an atavistic hunting reflex. He is called a predator precisely because he turns his victims into prey. Sex crime springs from fantasy, hallucination, delusion, and obsession. A random young woman becomes the scapegoat for a regressive rage against female sexual power: ’You made me do this.’ Academic clichés about the ’commodification’ of women under capitalism make little sense here: It is women’s superior biological status as magical life-creator that is profaned and annihilated by the barbarism of sex crime.”
Video of the Day: Paul Thomas Anderson’s Inherent Vice 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.