Something intriguing seems to be happening to Saturday Night Live. There’s no denying that the departures of Fred Armisen, Kristen Wiig, Bill Hader, and Seth Meyers have overall drastically muted the show’s comedic palette, throwing it into a transitional funk. You’d think that booking names like Jim Carrey, Woody Harrelson, and Cameron Diaz to do some of the heavy lifting would help ease new cast members and writers into viewers’ minds. Instead, these recent episodes have felt mostly constrained by a soberness that’s prevented the 40th season of the program from finding its rhythm. But then it was announced that former cast member Chris Rock would return for the first time since leaving SNL to host the November 1st episode, with Prince as musical guest, what unfolded was one the show’s most engrossing episodes in a very long time, turning this transitional phase into a spectacle of its own.
Saturday Night Live (#1–10 of 53)
1. “Nobel Peace Prize for Malala Yousafzai and Kailash Satyarthi.” The Nobel Peace Prize was awarded Friday to India’s Satyarthi and Pakistan’s Yousafzai for their struggles against the suppression of children and for young people’s rights, including the right to education.
“Thorbjorn Jagland, chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, said, ’Children must go to school, not be financially exploited.’ Yousafzai came to global attention after she was shot in the head by the Taliban—two years ago Thursday—for her efforts to promote education for girls in Pakistan. Since then, after recovering from surgery, she has taken her campaign to the world stage, notably with a speech last year at the United Nations. Through her heroic struggle, she has become a leading spokeswoman for girls’ rights to education, said Jagland… Meanwhile, Satyarthi, age 60, has shown great personal courage in heading peaceful demonstrations focusing on the grave exploitation of children for financial gain, the committee said. Satyarthi told reporters that the award was about many more people than him—and that credit should go to all those ’sacrificing their time and their lives for the cause of child rights’ and fighting child slavery.”
1. “The Essential Labor Films.” Ella Taylor, for Fandor, on the must-see movies of the working world.
“Is manual labor dying? For that matter, is the job as we know it on its way out the door? What does it feel like to work fifteen-hour days sewing jeans in Guangzhou for large-waisted Westerners—and then get laid off by recession? Exactly who were those guys who blew up the world economy in 2008? Did Mark Zuckerberg really invent Facebook because he didn’t get the girl? Why do we love procedurals? What the hell is ’women’s work?’ Can a Parisian rat aspire to gourmet chef? And last but by no means least, can I please have that striped power suit Rosalind Russell wore to get the story and reel in Cary Grant in His Girl Friday? Among the twenty-five films I’ve chosen to honor Labor Day you won’t find Man With a Movie Camera, or Modern Times, or even anything by that fly-on-the-wall of the working world, Fred Wiseman. Not because they don’t belong, but because this isn’t a top twenty-five list. It’s a blend of the canonical, the catholic and the idiosyncratic—a personal best culled from movies that speak to the pressing concerns of our age. Some chart the great changes that have rolled over our working world—global corporatism, marvelous innovation, alienation, unemployment, class inequality and conflict, environmental ruin. Others parse their meanings of these shifts, or draw beauty from ugliness or rage against the machine. Still others dwell on work undertaken for love of labor or fellow human beings.”
1. “Jenny Slate Interview.” Dana Stevens talks earnestness, abortion, and Marcel the Shell with the Obvious Child star.
“SNL was a similarly disillusioning experience. ’Thirty Rock’s a romantic place, and there are so many romantic things about it. The costumes have been there forever. You look in a pair of pants, and in Sharpie it says GILDA in them,’ Slate says of her time on the show. ’But it was a really weird disappointment when I got there and realized how foolish it was that what I expected it would be was from the expectations of a 7-year-old. And that they didn’t actually want my creative input as a woman.’”
- 2001: a space odyssey
- adrian martin
- Brian De Palma
- cristina álvarez lópez
- dana stevens
- Jenny Slate
- mad men
- matthew weiner
- Nick Pinkerton
- obvious child
- preston sturges
- saturday night live
- Stanley Kubrick
- sullivan's travels
- Veronica Lake
- white elephant blogathon
1. “Why Are 23.4 Million People Watching The Big Bang Theory?” Why the show is the most popular comedy on television.
“Big Bang is a multi-camera sitcom, shot with a studio audience, in a time of mostly single-camera shows. ’It’s supply and demand,’ says Weinman. ’There’s a high demand for multi-camera—it’s intimate and creates the illusion that there’s nothing between you and the characters—and right now the supply is low. Fans of Seinfeld and Friends, what do they have besides Big Bang?’ CBS reruns of Big Bang reach more viewers than new episodes of single-cam shows Parks and Recreation, Community, and The Mindy Project combined.”
1. “The Campaign to ’Cancel’ Colbert.” Jay Caspain Kang on Suey Park’s #CancelColbert extortion.
“Every debate on Twitter gets put through the platform’s peculiar distortion effect. The form’s inherent limitations—the 140 character limit and a fleeting shelf-life—reward volume, frequency, and fervor rather than nuance, complexity, and persuasion. This might feel unseemly to those who value a more refined conversation, but there is no denying the viral power of hashtag activists who capitalize on the speed at which a single tweet can multiply into something that resembles a protest rally. A new Twitter outrage seems to detonate every week, and, in many cases, the voices raised in these social media movements belong to groups that do not have equal representation within the mainstream media. But they should not therefore be immune to questions or criticism: If an activist hashtag becomes a trend, has a broad, important conversation taken place? It is no simple thing to determine whether Twitter outrage can itself expand the terms of discourse and challenge the status quo.”
1. “Jane Campion to preside over Cannes Film Festival jury.” Film-maker Jane Campion is to head this year’s jury at the Cannes Film Festival, organisers have announced.
“The director succeeds Steven Spielberg in the role. This year’s Cannes Film Festival takes place from 14-25 May. Campion, whose work on The Piano won her a best screenplay Oscar, was called ’a major film-maker and indefatigable pioneer’ by Cannes organisers. The film, in which a mute mail-order bride and her daughter arrive in New Zealand with few possessions, except a large piano, also netted Academy Awards for actresses Holly Hunter and Anna Paquin. More recently, Campion worked on television drama The Lake, which reunited her with Hunter. The mini-series was screened on BBC Two in the UK.”
Earlier this week, MTV posted an oddly optimistic take on the underwhelming performance of Lady Gaga’s new album, Artpop, which, though it debuted at #1 with a respectable 258,000 copies, not only scanned 75% less than 2011’s Born This Way did in its first week, but posted smaller opening numbers than both Katy Perry’s Prism and Miley Cyrus’s Bangerz. Writing for MTV, which has little business reporting on music these days to begin with, Gil Kaufman rightly suggests that touring is where the real money is in 2013, but claims that Gaga is “a born performer with a killer stage show” and is “capable of selling out arenas across the globe.” It remains to be seen whether Gaga is the global touring juggernaut Kaufman and others claim: The Born This Way Ball did well in most markets, but tickets sold for half price in South America, and the then-26-year-old was forced to cash in her insurance policy in February and cancel the remaining 21 shows of the tour reportedly due to a hip injury.
Lady Gaga’s SNL promoso tackle weight, throwing up, and the meat dress.
Max Nelson on 50 years of Film Comment.
Composer Sir John Tavener passes away at 69.
Swedes develop invisible bike helmet.
Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel to open this year’s Berlinale.
Richard Linklater on cinema and time.
J. Hoberman’s guide to watching movies while stoned.
Payback is a bitch for abortion clinic protestors, thanks to a brilliant landlord.
Calum Marsh doesn’t like but can’t stop watching The Walking Dead.