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John Wayne (#110 of 16)

Lady Gaga Reunites with Jonas Åkerlund for “John Wayne” Music Video

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Lady Gaga Reunites with Jonas Åkerlund for “John Wayne” Music Video
Lady Gaga Reunites with Jonas Åkerlund for “John Wayne” Music Video

Capitalizing on a wave of publicity in the aftermath of Sunday night’s Super Bowl halftime performance, Lady Gaga has released the music video for “John Wayne,” a standout track from last year’s largely forgettable Joanne. Gaga’s short film-style clips for “Bad Romance,” “Alejandro,” and “Born This Way” helped reignite the music video medium, turning each new release into a bona fide event, but her recent output—especially the lackluster videos for “Perfect Illusion” and “Million Reasons,” the first two singles from Joanne—have failed to garner much buzz. “John Wayne,” however, sees Gaga once again plying a maximalist aesthetic, and returning to the outlandish costumes and, possibly, a storyline that began almost eight years ago.

Cannes Film Festival 2014: The Homesman Review

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Cannes Film Festival 2014: <em>The Homesman</em> Review
Cannes Film Festival 2014: <em>The Homesman</em> Review

Back in 2005, Tommy Lee Jones made his directorial debut with the gritty (and somewhat gruesome) The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada, a neo-western with a distinctly Peckinpahvian flavor. Now he returns with The Homesman, an oddball oater about a cagey claim-jumper who partners with a stern spinster to take three madwomen to Iowa and thence to their homes back East. In contrast to Three Burials, this one counts as a retro-western—“retro” as in retrograde with regard to fundamental depictions of generic tropes, not as in old-school throwback.

The film was adapted by Jones and two other screenwriters from the novel by Glendon Swarthout, whose works have previously provided source material for the John Wayne swan song The Shootist and, perhaps more telling given The Homesman’s unwieldy mix of earnest intentions and batshit craziness, Stanley Kramer’s Bless the Beasts and Children, wherein a ragtag bunch of misfit campers derogatorily labeled the Bedwetters take on Great White Hunters involved in a wild buffalo safari. All this is to say that no doubt some of the problems inherent with The Homesman’s abrupt shifts in tone can be laid at the doorstep of the original novel.

Oscar 2014 Winner Predictions: Original Song

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Oscar 2014 Winner Predictions: Original Song
Oscar 2014 Winner Predictions: Original Song

The AMPAS was already embarrassed enough by the music branch’s lingering cronyism manifesting itself vis-à-vis the out-of-nowhere nomination for the theme song from Alone Yet Not Alone, a movie that somehow achieved eligibility despite playing almost exclusively in heartland venues appointed with pews. The Academy had every right to be mortified by whatever shenanigans allowed into the conversation what is, by all rational reports, an artless, self-righteous, racist remake of The Searchers told from the point of view of John Wayne’s trigger finger. But now that the Board of Governors has rescinded the nomination in an act of reverse-revisionism that forms an apt symmetry with the film itself, the egg on Oscar’s collective face is now also clearly visible in the sights of all those who have set their browsers’ homepages to the Drudge Report. Well, them and composer Bruce Broughton’s wife, who has taken to her almighty Facebook status bar to protest the mistreatment her husband was being forced to endure for allegedly abusing his position among his branch’s executive committee to engage in a little email blast electioneering. So sniped Belinda Broughton, in two separate posts:

Review: Lana Del Rey’s Short Film, Tropico

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Review: Lana Del Rey’s Short Film, Tropico
Review: Lana Del Rey’s Short Film, Tropico

From Bowie to Madonna to Gaga, pop music has always been as much a visual medium as an aural one. To wit, the successful launch of Lizzy Grant’s Lana Del Rey persona can be attributed not just to her songs, but to the DIY music videos that accompanied them. As the singer graduated to the majors, so too did the scope and budgets of her videos, culminating in a “mini-movie” for “Ride,” the first single from last year’s Paradise. And in a perhaps inevitable move in light of her fascination with movies and, specifically, short film (she recently donated to the Kickstarter for a new short film project starring Daniel Johnston), Del Rey has re-teamed with “Ride” director Anthony Mandler, who also helmed her cinematic “National Anthem” clip, for a short film titled Tropico.

Review: Douglas Brode’s Dream West: Politics and Religion in Cowboy Movies

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Review: Douglas Brode’s Dream West: Politics and Religion in Cowboy Movies
Review: Douglas Brode’s Dream West: Politics and Religion in Cowboy Movies

Douglas Brode’s newest book, Dream West: Politics and Religion in Cowboy Movies, isn’t just an impressive panoply of discussions across a breadth of westerns from the entirety of the genre’s cinematic existence, but also a fascinating political inquiry, meant to question precisely “the belief that bygone Western texts offer a ’red-state’ vision.” Unlike many an academic survey monograph that gets bogged down by reveling in hundreds of film titles without providing any substantive examinations to excuse the unchecked cinephilia, Brode deftly allows his text to double as both an introduction to the genre and a rigorous explanation for numerous westerns as progressive or, at least, ambivalent texts. He specifically questions why Tea Party members seek “the charming fabrications of the 20th century in which artists and entertainers of varied creative gifts rewrote the American experience from the nineteenth century in romanticized terms” and why they believe this “ought to be the source of our daily political and religious lifestyles in the twenty-first.” Viewed in tandem with Russell Meeuf’s recent John Wayne’s World, these texts provide the means to begin understanding the classical Hollywood western less as a conservative genre and more as one actively seeking to understand and define contemporary American life.

Moving with Size and Grace Russell Meeuf’s John Wayne’s World: Transnational Masculinity in the Fifties

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Moving with Size and Grace: Russell Meeuf’s John Wayne’s World: Transnational Masculinity in the Fifties
Moving with Size and Grace: Russell Meeuf’s John Wayne’s World: Transnational Masculinity in the Fifties

“Which would you rather have? What’s behind, or what might be ahead?” These words are spoken by Montgomery Clift’s Matt Garth in Red River, one of 11 films given a thoughtful close-reading in Russell Meeuf’s John Wayne’s World: Transnational Masculinity in the Fifties, and it could be said that Meeuf himself takes this question as the foundation of his often convincing, revisionist argument for John Wayne’s global popularity in the 1950s. Meeuf’s book sets out to reject the incorrect, yet still widely held, notion that Wayne exemplified a masculinity that was “uniquely American” throughout the 1950s and that international audiences were receptive of the actor’s image due to “the oligopolistic hegemony of Hollywood studios in international markets.” Rather, Meeuf argues that Wayne’s global resonance had more to do with the actor’s body and image, which “dramatized the conditions of global capitalism and uneven modernization.” Moreover, Wayne’s films with directors John Ford and Howard Hawks offered global audiences competing modes of masculinity, not just from Wayne’s star persona and its trajectory within films over these years, but from paratextual materials such as posters and various advertisements, which often differed given the market.

15 Famous Airplane Movies

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15 Famous Airplane Movies
15 Famous Airplane Movies

Pedro Almodóvar is back this week with I’m So Excited, a high-flying lark about sex, drugs, and past and present Spanish politics, all set on a commercial jet that can’t find a decent place to land. The cast of characters, played by Almodóvar alums like Javier Cámara and Cecilia Roth, and international breakouts like Raúl Arévalo, do whatever they can to distract themselves from potential doom, while the aircraft flies in limbo-like circles. The randy comedy got us thinking of other films that take to the skies, from sci-fi nightmares and fact-based dramas to war flicks and ensemble classics. Read on to see which movies made it on board.

If I Had a Sight & Sound Film Ballot Rob Humanick’s Top 10 Films of All Time

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If I Had a Sight & Sound Film Ballot: Rob Humanick’s Top 10 Films of All Time
If I Had a Sight & Sound Film Ballot: Rob Humanick’s Top 10 Films of All Time

To choose only 10 films for this list was a task at once simple and impossible. Had I been given enough time to watch every film ever made, then allowed several decades to narrow down my choices, I would have still bemoaned this challenge. By the time this is published, I’ll have changed my mind. Held at gunpoint, however, the results would probably look something like this, and for my purposes here, know that the difference between “best” and “favorite” is immaterial. Every one of these represents not only a peak of the art form, but an experience I wonder whether I could truly live without. With apologies to Jean Renoir, Alfred Hitchcock, Buster Keaton, Charlie Chaplin, Steven Spielberg, F.W. Murnau, Nicholas Ray, Fritz Lang, Abel Gance, Werner Herzog, Carl Theodor Dreyer, Roman Polanski, Terrence Malick, Chuck Jones, Ridley Scott, George A. Romero, and the 1930s, among others.

If I Had a Sight & Sound Film Ballot Tony Dayoub’s Top 10 Films of All Time

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If I Had a Sight & Sound Film Ballot: Tony Dayoub’s Top 10 Films of All Time
If I Had a Sight & Sound Film Ballot: Tony Dayoub’s Top 10 Films of All Time

When The House Next Door invited its writers to submit their Top 10 films of all time, I was faced with the usual conundrum: What does “Top 10” signify – best or favorite? After much consideration, I’m happy to say that the list I came up with could easily represent either. These are definitely personal favorites, but, in my not-so-humble opinion, they are also unassailable in their perfection, and could easily fall at the top of any all-time best list arrived at by consensus.