“Nobody owns David Foster Wallace anymore. In the seven years since his suicide, he’s slipped out of the hands of those who knew him, and those who read him in his lifetime, and into the cultural maelstrom, which has flattened him. He has become a character, an icon, and in some circles a saint. A writer who courted contradiction and paradox, who could come on as a curmudgeon and a scold, who emerged from an avant-garde tradition and never retreated into conventional realism, he has been reduced to a wisdom-dispensing sage on the one hand and shorthand for the Writer As Tortured Soul on the other.”
Pixar (#1–10 of 49)
1. “Just a chat with your friendly neighborhood president.” President Obama spent an hour Friday in a garage in Highland Park with comedian Marc Maron, taping an episode of Maron’s “WTF” podcast.
“There were limits, of course. An unguarded politician is a contradiction in terms, where oversharing is a comic’s stock in trade: You take your darkest garbage and spread it around on the table for a laugh. And yet the curious mix of introspection and extroversion that creates a comic is surely not foreign to many politicians—though one senses from this president that, like some performers and politicians, he does not need to look for approval outside himself. (Obama: ’Stuff that was buggin’ ya, by the time you’re 53, either you’ve worked it out or you’ve just forgiven yourself and you’ve said, ’Look, this is who I am.’ ’Maron: ’Oh, I’ve got to write that down—I can just forgive myself?’) Politicians live in the future; they plan, they predict, they promise. What the president says in light of a tragedy like the Charleston shootings, which the two discussed, has to consider both the awfulness of the moment and the better, saner place we might get to; declaring himself an optimist, Obama described Americans as ’overwhelmingly good, decent generous people’ who are divided by politics and ’a media that is so splintered now that we’re not in a common conversation.’ Comedy can also take you to a better, saner place, by making you think and by making you laugh, but it is not in the business of delivering hope. It has a different slant on the human condition.”
1. “Pixar to Make Toy Story 4.” And why John Lasseter is returning to direct.
“Lasseter told The Times that Toy Story 4 will be a love story and will pick up where Toy Story 3 left off, when Woody, Buzz Lightyear and the rest of the series’s toy chest of characters were handed down to a little girl named Bonnie. ’A lot of people in the industry view us doing sequels as being for the business of it, but for us it’s pure passion,’ said Lasseter, who directed the first two Toy Story films. ’We only make sequels when we have a story that’s as good as or better than the original. We don’t just, because of the success of a film, automatically say we’re going to do a sequel and then figure out what we’re going to do.’ That philosophy sets an awfully high bar for a Toy Story sequel—the first three have grossed more than $1.3 billion worldwide and collected uniformly positive reviews for their storytelling and technique. The third, directed by Lee Unkrich in 2010, won Oscars for animated feature and original song, and became only the third animated movie in history to be nominated for best picture.”
1. “What Does Netflix Have to Gain from Making Adam Sandler Movies?” Is this another example of the company smartly shaking up the old media order? Or, by expanding beyond TV series, is Netflix messing with a model that’s so far worked spectacularly? Vulture’s Josef Adalian looks at some oft he questions raised by the Sandler deal.
“Another distinction from HBO: Netflix is calling the Sandler movies ’feature films’ rather than ’made-for-TV’ or ’made-for-Netflix’ movies. In part, that’s because the movies will have feature-level budgets and because there’s at least a chance they could end up in theaters, too (either in the U.S., or more likely, overseas.) But using that phrase plays into another Netlix strategy, which is to always appear innovative and groundbreaking and thus cool. If you’re going to be the next HBO, you better be cool. (That said, we’re still dubious about calling these movies features, if only because they’re being targeted for at-home viewers. And that’s not a slam—not in an age in which Steven Soderbergh makes ’TV movies’ starring Michael Douglas and Matt Damon.)”
1. “The 100 Best Animated Movies.” World-famous animators pick the best animated movies ever, including Disney and Pixar movies, cult movies, kids movies, stop-motion, anime and more.
“Chances are the first movie you ever saw was animation. Exuberant, colorful and full of wonder, animation is the stuff of childhood. It introduces us to the magic of cinema, and there’s no doubt that, as we researched the 100 best animated movies of all time, the nostalgia factor was overwhelming. Then again, as we polled over 100 experts in the field—from directors like Fantastic Mr. Fox’s Wes Anderson, Ice Age and Rio’s Carlos Saldanha, Wallace & Gromit’s Nick Park, to critics and hardcore fans alike—it became clear that animation doesn’t just mean kids and family movies. Worldwide innovators have adapted the form to include action, politics, race and sex. Animation has grown up, sometimes uneasily, right before our eyes. We know you’ll find something to love in our authoritative ranking of the best animated movies ever made. The timeless Disney classics. The best Pixar films. Brilliantly sophisticated modern works from Japan’s cottage industry, anime, and especially from its Studio Ghibli. Films that make you weep, laugh, sing along and wish upon stars. Take some time to check out our contributors’ personal lists, each one an invitation to further explore avenues of stop-motion, computer-generated imagery or good old pen-and-ink fantasy. Let us know what you think, in the comments below or on Facebook or Twitter. Did we get it wrong or leave out an essential title? One thing is certain: Animation is an endless well of fun. We’re sure it goes deeper.”
Suzanne Somers writes something stupid about the Affordable Care Act.
Meet the smart young misfits who are revolutionizing indie horror movies.
Michael Koresky’s time machine travels to 1994.
Glenn Kenny on Raymond Chandler and Jean-Luc Godard’s war on Christmas.
Of all the feature films in Pixar’s impressive repertoire, Finding Nemo has arguably proven the most durable. The movie, which celebrated its 10th anniversary last month, is held in high favor critically and with audiences, but to some extent it’s also underappreciated, commonly regarded as an admirable, stalwart entry from the animation house. And yet, though it’s not a film that’s inspired the kind of rapturous following that The Incredibles or WALL-E have cultivated, Finding Nemo remains the heart and soul of the Pixar family of movies. It showcases a number of hallmarks for which the studio has become renowned, such as stunning technical bravura and smoothly elegant storytelling. But what distinguishes Finding Nemo from its studio brethren—and what makes it Pixar’s enduring classic to date—is its narrative accessibility and emotional directness.
At the time of its release, Finding Nemo was primarily heralded for its unparalleled pictorial beauty. Digital animation was still somewhat fresh at the time; just two years before, Shrek had introduced brand new possibilities in digital animation with its crisply rendered environments and characters that had scale and weight. Finding Nemo, by turn, was possibly the first full realization of those possibilities. I still remember seeing it in the theater and feeling completely engulfed by the colors, layers, and textures of the underwater world it fashions. Ten years later, the film still exudes an ethereal quality that’s seldom seen in today’s animation (which is a credit, also, to the deep musical and overall soundscape). But the abounding detail of the film’s visual design, from the scales on Nemo’s body to the speckles dancing in the foreground and background of every frame, is all the more astounding for how subtly it’s deployed.
The 92nd Street Y is leaving its downtown space, aka 92Y Tribeca.
In other departure news, The Boston Phoenix has folded.
Obama is seeking $2 billion in research on cleaner fuels.
Glenn Kenny chats with film restoration maestro James White.
Meet Awkwafina, the Asian female rapper who rhymes about her vag.
Meanwhile, only three women are directing blockbuster movies in 2013.
With Pixar Animation Studios having won this award six out of eight times since the category’s inception back in 2001, conventional wisdom would suggest that Brave is a favorite to take this year’s prize. But Pixar’s reputation ostensibly took a major hit last year, when Cars 2 failed to even secure a nomination. And given how modestly the studio’s latest nominated feature has performed on the awards circuit up to this point, this year’s race may lend credence to the notion that the Pixar pedigree has seriously weakened. Though Brave is notable for being the only film in the Pixar canon with a female protagonist, offering a different take on the well-worn princess tale than we’re accustomed to from a Walt Disney property, the generally well-received film did take some slack upon release for its surprisingly conventional storytelling.
Divided House passes tax deal in end to latest fiscal standoff.
No, it’s not April Fool’s: Jay-Z is working on The Great Gatsby score.
British composer Richard Rodney Bennett passes away at 76.
The 25 best Jennifer Lawrence quotes of 2012.
David Cronenberg calls bullshit on the Oscars.
Criterion offers a clue with its new year’s wish.