1. “Why Chris Evans Is Retiring, And Why Other Actors Might Follow Suit.” Gabe Toro on what it means that the actor is quiting acting.
“No one is weeping for these people, who are gorgeous, wake up gorgeous and go to sleep richer. Especially not Chris Evans, who now gets to pursue the dream of directing, one he’ll live out by directing another film at the end of this year. He credits Captain America for the opportunity, saying, ’Without these movies, I wouldn’t be directing. They gave me enough overseas recognition to greenlight a movie.’ But he then adds, ’And if I’m speaking extremely candidly, it’s going to continue to do that for as long as the Marvel contract runs… If I’m acting at all, it’s going to be under Marvel contract, or I’m going to be directing. I can’t see myself pursuing acting strictly outside of what I’m contractually obligated to do.’ Chris Evans is a wonderful onscreen presence, an actor of great skill and dexterity, not to mention starling beauty. You’d hate to think that playing a superhero has extinguished any desire he might have to appear before the camera. Don’t be surprised if he’s not the last actor to feel this way.”
2. ”Girls/Fish Tank.” Adam Nayman on Girls (episode: “One Man’s Trash”) and Fish Tank.
“One of the biggest bugaboos for Girls’ critics has been its allegedly mindless treatment of class, and yet ’One Man’s Trash’ is hardly subtle on this point: in the same way that the fit, fiscally solid Joshua represents an upgrade on Hannah’s other romantic prospects, so too does his brownstone appear as a buttress against the menialness of her job and living situation. When Hannah finally freaks Joshua out by talking relentlessly about her baroque sexual experiences (’One time I asked someone to punch me in the chest and then come on that spot’), she seems to be subconsciously sabotaging her idyll, which ends shortly thereafter.”
3. “Eye Candy.” The pleasure we take in beauty must have been shaped by evolution—but what adaptive advantage did it give us?
“Aesthetic pleasure is activity-focused, like cuddling, not drive-actuated or end-directed, like eating. The activity it accompanies is what I would generically call ’contemplation’. You are listening to an aria by Rossini or the sound of a nightingale; you are looking at the Rocky Mountains or a painting by Ingres: aesthetic pleasure tells you that this contemplative engagement is worthwhile, to keep on doing it—but not for some immediate result. By contrast I can take pleasure in looking at the Rocky Mountains for different reasons—that are not aesthetic. Catching sight of the Mountains, I might be elated that my long journey to the ski-slopes is finally coming to an end. Aesthetic pleasure by contrast, is pleasure in just looking at something, or listening to it, or pleasure in contemplating its qualities. Aesthetic pleasure motivates you to keep looking; it doesn’t tell you that the object of your contemplation is good for anything other than contemplation.”
4. “Please, Critics, Write About the Filmmaking.” Matt Zoller Seitz schools critics who’re not discussing aesthetics in their reviews.
“During any given week it’s possible to read tens of thousands of words of evaluation and analysis about this show or that movie, in reputable mainstream publications with strict editorial standards and on personal blogs where writers are theoretically free to write about whatever they want, in any manner they choose, without ever coming across one sentence that delves into form in any detail. If you know me personally—or even virtually—you know how much this pisses me off. Movies and television are visual art forms, and aural art forms. They are not just about plot, characterization and theme. Analytical writing about movies and TV should incorporate some discussion of the means by which the plot is advanced, the characters developed, the themes explored. It should devote some space, some small bit of the word count, to the compositions, the cutting, the music, the decor, the lighting, the overall rhythm and mood of the piece.”
5. “Passing Notes…on Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master.” Carson Lund and Kenji Fujishima revisit the film in the wake of Philip Seymour Hoffman’s death.
“The film as a whole does a terrific job of concealing the schematics of its overarching shape (basically a veiled three-act structure) in favor of a loose flow of events, which inspires a feeling that the future is unpredictable; this is especially true of its first thirty minutes, prior to Freddie and Dodd’s meeting. Here, Anderson strings together a series of vignettes of Freddie bumming around with unfulfilling temp jobs, concocting strains of toxic hooch out of whatever chemicals may be nearby (a gig as a department store photographer yields him what look like lethal doses of photo developing fluids), and making clumsy stabs at much-needed sex. Greenwood’s score—a spellbinding chorus of glockenspiel arpeggios, interrupted occasionally by a percussive thwack of a bad guitar string that suggests someone hitting their head into a wall (and even portends that behavior from Freddie later in the film)—acts as a running thread binding these plotless episodes together. No routine is established, nothing is permanent, and life flows like a rambling daydream.”
Video of the Day: 24: Live Another Day gets a new action-packed trailer:
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