1. “Jon Stewart: Why I Quit The Daily Show.” Stewart’s decision to retire as host of the satirical news show after 16 years has left liberal America in mourning. So why is he leaving just before an election—and what will happen when he steps out from behind the desk?
“When I catch up with him again, I ask if he knew he’d be leaving when we had that conversation. ’No, no—but some of it had been in the back of my head for quite some time. But you don’t want to make any kind of decision when you’re in the crucible of the process, just like you don’t decide whether you’re going to continue to run marathons in mile 24,’ he says. He switches to a chewy exaggeration of his native Noo Joi-zy accent, deflating his seriousness with a comedy voice. ’You wait until you’re done, you have a nice cup o’ water, you put the blanket on, you sit and then you decide.’ I had assumed that, as well as the metaphorical cup o’ water, he had decided to quit because he had so much fun making Rosewater. But Stewart says not. ’Honestly, it was a combination of the limitations of my brain and a format that is geared towards following an increasingly redundant process, which is our political process. I was just thinking, ’Are there other ways to skin this cat?’ And, beyond that, it would be nice to be home when my little elves get home from school, occasionally.’”
2. “Orson Welles’s Lady from Shanghai Is Reissued on Blu-ray.” J. Hoberman on the “fine, no-frill” Blu-ray release of the Welles classic.
“At once fluid and discordant, The Lady From Shanghai is filled with virtuoso set pieces. Welles meant to dramatize an Expressionist nightmare and screened The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari for his cast and crew as preparation. The climactic shootout in a fun house hall of mirrors is justly famous, but scarcely less impressive is the sequence shot on location in the hills around Acapulco, Mexico. Climbing through the town, with Anders musing on the inevitability of an atomic Armageddon, Welles invokes the notion of ’a bright guilty world.’ Ostensibly referring to the poverty around them (said to have been trimmed by Cohn), Welles could also be describing Hollywood, a territory where truth was elusive and trust nonexistent, from which he would exile himself even before the movie opened.”
3. “We’d All Been Bitten, and We Kept Coming Back.” Roar star John Marshall on making the most dangerous movie of all time.
“Oh, yeah. Sleeping in bed with us. Running around the house. We had this one neighbor that kept turning us in. We had a routine. Whenever the doorbell rang at seven o’clock in the morning, you knew it was animal control. So Dad would answer the door, and Tippi, Melanie, and I would take whatever animals, whatever lions and tigers we had at the time at home, and we’d throw them over the fence. Our house was on a hill, and the house below us liked us. So we’d throw all the lions over the fence, and we’d be in our pajamas, climbing over the fence to keep them quiet. Then Dad would go to animal control and say, ’Nope, we don’t have any lions.’ We were caught many times. They knew we had the ranch, because we had all our permits and everything else, so finally one day, Dad said, ’You caught me—we have lions.’ They say, ’OK, we know that. Let’s see them.’ So Dad takes them down to the walk-in closet in their bedroom, and there’s four cubs that are three days old. And he goes, ’We do raise these lions at home sometimes.’ Then the guy goes, ’I’m not coming out here anymore. These people [next door] think their kids are gonna get eaten?’ Then Dad and Tippi got even with them. They got the cheetah. Which is legal.”
4. “What’s So Gross About Madonna? Getting Older, It Seems.” Her on-stage, enforced kiss with Drake got her critics worked up again. But is Madonna’s behavior that outrageous, or is sexism at play?
“But perhaps it’s the persistent image of Madonna as a succubus that reveals the true root of our reflexive disgust with her escapades. In hindsight, Medusa: Dare to Be Truthful, the 1991 parody of her famous tour documentary Madonna: Truth or Dare, has an almost prescient name. Like Medusa, Madonna has come to symbolize our culture’s fear of active, all-consuming female sexuality. Freud equated the classical fear of Medusa with the ’terror of castration’ at the sight of the ’terrifying genitals of the Mother,’ and it’s hard not to see a similar dynamic at work in our thinly veiled fear of Madonna as an unapologetically sexual, 56-year-old mother of four. In fact, the Madonna-Medusa connection is already being made on Twitter with a frequency that suggests that she might be more subconsciously threatening to some than she is just plain ’gross.’ Unlike Medusa, however, it seems impossible to ever defeat Madonna. The more people bemoan her persistence, the more attention she receives, and the more power she accrues. She’s an icon who can subsist forever on the fuel of her own inevitability.”
5. “Dump Runs.” James Wolcott on FX’s Louie and The Comedians and how they’re afflicted with trouble down below.
“Yesterday, I treated myself to a double feature of the latest episodes of Louie and The Comediants, over the course of which my faith in humankind or at least cable network comedy eroded beneath the thin soles of my tai chi shoes and I wondered who in the world would find these shows funny, apart from recappers who live like bubble boys and girls, subsisting on screeners. Louie and its self-creator have lost their way and those who have praised season five’s first two episodes as a return to form after last season’s art-house miserabilism (i.e., a return to everyday schmucky New York miserabilism) may be proven correct by the end of the season, but so far that kite won’t fly. The Comedians, a cross-generational inside-showbiz satire that pairs slick older pro Billy Crystal and raw younger buffalo Josh Gad, hasn’t found its way and likely never will. It was warped at conception.”
Video of the Day: The music video for John Carpenter’s “Night”:
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