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If I Were a Rich Man: Salesman

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If I Were a Rich Man: Salesman

Janus Films

If I Were a Rich Man: Salesman

“If a man's not a success, he's got no one to blame but himself.”

Variations on that sentiment recur throughout 1968's Salesman. It's the myth of American self-determination boiled down to 14 words. Each time it's repeated, it becomes funnier and more ominous. Filmmakers Albert and David Maysles and Charlotte Zwerin subtly contradict it simply by depicting the title profession, which was already in decline when the film was shot, and which consisted mainly of secularists or nonpracticing believers trying to sell middle- and working-class Americans religious texts they didn't want and probably couldn't afford anyway. Without narration—and with only a handful of onscreen titles, most of them terse and dryly factual—the filmmakers show just how casually materialistic postwar America had become.

2018 Oscar Nomination Predictions

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2018 Oscar Nomination Predictions

A24

2018 Oscar Nomination Predictions

The Academy Awards will be televised later than normal this year, so that the world can pay tribute to Adam Rippon making that money and earning another check at the Olympics. Normally this delay would spark even more angst than usual about how the awards season perennially makes the Oscars yesterday's news before they've even had a chance to weigh in with their nominations, but we aren't despairing. The main reason for that is we're still enjoying the opportunity to accurately gauge AMPAS's overdue transition from old-guard to new-guard voters. If Moonlight's thrilling upset victory over La La Land two minutes after the best picture prize was incorrectly called for the latter left everyone's heads spinning, we still don't know how sweeping the Academy's membership truly is or how far-reaching its effects will be. Nor does anyone else. Behold the gazillion nominations it took to make the Broadcast Film Critics Association—i.e., the only professional Oscar prognosticators who've managed to dupe the world into believing they're actually an awards group—feel as though they could sleep at night. Until proven otherwise, we see no reason not to be optimistic about the Grand Pooh-Bah of film prizes' potential for further underdog surprises.

Interview: Peggy Shaw and Lois Weaver on Unexploded Ordnances (UXO)

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Interview: Peggy Shaw and Lois Weaver on Unexploded Ordnances (UXO)
Interview: Peggy Shaw and Lois Weaver on Unexploded Ordnances (UXO)

Since 1980, performance troupe Split Britches has been gifting the world with its unique brand of feminist political theater. Today, Peggy Shaw and Lois Weaver—original co-founder Deb Margolin is no longer with the group—are still devoted to their queer-eyed vision: a mix of vaudeville comedy, music, poetry, and pop-culture appropriations that draws incessantly from their personal lives and politics. Their latest work, Unexploded Ordnances (UXO), plays through January 20 at La Mama's Ellen Stewart Theatre, ahead of a forthcoming tour to England, Ireland, and Wales. I recently sat down with Shaw and Weaver to discuss the production and why it remains so important for them to keep the spirit of the Split Britches alive.

Red Sparrow Starring Jennifer Lawrence Gets New Trailer and Poster

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Francis Lawrence’s Spy Thriller Red Sparrow Starring Jennifer Lawrence Gets New Trailer and Poster
Francis Lawrence’s Spy Thriller Red Sparrow Starring Jennifer Lawrence Gets New Trailer and Poster

Last night during the Golden Globe Awards, 20th Century Fox premiered a new trailer for the spy thriller Red Sparrow starring Jennifer Lawrence. As far back as 2014, director David Fincher and actress Rooney Mara were circling the project, looking to re-team for the first time since The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. That, of course, did not come to fruition, though the new trailer for the film not only suggests the influence of Fincher, but also that of Darren Aronofsky, whose last film, the divisive Mother!, also starred Lawrence. Directed by Francis Lawrence, Red Sparrow also stars Joel Edgerton, Matthias Schoenaerts, Charlotte Rampling, Mary-Louise Parker, and Jeremy Irons.

Justin Timberlake Reinvents Robo-Funk in “Filthy” Single and Music Video

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Justin Timberlake Reinvents Robo-Funk in “Filthy” Single and Music Video
Justin Timberlake Reinvents Robo-Funk in “Filthy” Single and Music Video

A mere glimpse of Justin Timberlake dressed as a rural woodsman in the trailer for his forthcoming album, Man of the Woods, prompted accusations of “[w]hite colonialist fantasies” and pandering to Trump’s America. The Memphis-born artist’s foray into what his record label describes as “the sounds of traditional American rock,” however, could be interpreted as a return to his roots. He’s been setting the stage for it since at least 2015, when he performed with Nashville crooner Chris Stapleton and even cracked the country radio charts with his single “Drink You Away.”

The 10 Most-Read Slant Articles of 2017

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The 10 Most-Read Slant Articles of 2017

Warner Bros.

The 10 Most-Read Slant Articles of 2017

Determining Slant’s most popular articles of the year wasn’t easy. What’s the best measurement of what our readers are most interested in? Time spent on a page isn’t a reliable metric, as evidenced by the leader in that race: page two of the search results for “Visconti.” The articles with the most comments merely reflected the rabidity of a particular fanbase’s obsession with aggregated scores. Ultimately, the ratio between unique and absolute pageviews was relatively consistent, so we opted for the latter. Some of the results took us by surprise: An average star rating led to our most-read—err, looked at—article of the year. And our most popular TV recap was for a mid-season episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race (maybe it was the inclusion of the word “Kardashian” in the title, fodder for my long-ignored suggestion that Slant would be better off covering celebrity gossip). In the end, though, this list comprises most of what we do best: incisive critique of film, TV, and music, awards soothsaying, and—with one of our three-week-old 2017 lists eking its way into the Top 10—listology. Hell, maybe in the next 24 hours, this one will make the cut too. Now that would be meta! Alexa Camp
 

Doctor Who Recap 2017 Christmas Special, “Twice Upon a Time”

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Doctor Who Recap: 2017 Christmas Special, “Twice Upon a Time”

BBC America

Doctor Who Recap: 2017 Christmas Special, “Twice Upon a Time”

“Twice Upon a Time,” Doctor Who’s 2017 Christmas special, is a story of endings and of continuing beyond them. It caps off the Doctor Who careers of both showrunner Steven Moffat and the current Doctor, played by Peter Capaldi, and heralds a time of wholesale change both in front of and behind the camera, as new showrunner Chris Chibnall arrives with his new Doctor, Jodie Whittaker. Moffat’s swan song is a fittingly elegiac tale that looks at how the Doctor has changed in the course of his 54-year journey by placing Capaldi’s Doctor side by side with his very first incarnation, originally played back by William Hartnell and here by David Bradley.

Dubai International Film Festival 2017 A Gentle Creature, You Were Never Really Here, The Message, & More

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Dubai International Film Festival 2017: A Gentle Creature, You Were Never Really Here, The Message, & More

Wild Bunch

Dubai International Film Festival 2017: A Gentle Creature, You Were Never Really Here, The Message, & More

Even if this paradox applies to a great many film festivals, the notion of flying halfway across the planet to sit in a dark room and watch movies is especially pronounced in Dubai, where little is more than a few decades old, island formations are exploded to resemble Qu’ranic verses, and office buildings look like spaceships retired into the ground at 90-degree angles.

On December 6, a short drive from the canyons of high-rises making up the city-state’s turbocapitalist business district, elites and journalists assembled at the Souk Madinat—a beachside network of malls, restaurants, and luxury hotels connected by artificial seawater canals—for the opening night of the 14th Dubai International Film Festival. Tributes were tendered first to both Patrick Stewart and Cate Blanchett before the kickoff of Scott Cooper’s Hostiles, about a bigoted U.S. cavalry officer (Christian Bale) tasked with escorting a Cheyenne war chief named Yellow Hawk (Wes Studi) from New Mexico to his original territory in Montana.

Exclusive: Go Behind the Scenes of the I, Tonya Soundtrack

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Exclusive: Go Behind the Scenes of the I, Tonya Soundtrack

Neon

Exclusive: Go Behind the Scenes of the I, Tonya Soundtrack

Nominated for three Golden Globes, including best picture in the musical or comedy category, I, Tonya tells the darkly comedic tale of American figure skater Tonya Harding (Margot Robbie, nominated for her performance) and one of the most sensational scandals in sports history. In a Slant exclusive, director Craig Gillespie, composer Peter Nashel, and music supervisor Susan Jacobs discuss the importance music played in capturing this American underdog story in a new behind-the-scenes featurette. At one point, they reveal how their requests for music rights were initially met with resistance. “[Artists] didn’t want their music used in a Tonya Harding film,” Jacobs says, adding that she was able to change their minds by convincing them to actually watch the film.

Listen to Slant’s 25 Best Singles of 2017

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Listen to Slant’s 25 Best Singles of 2017

Brendan Walter

Listen to Slant’s 25 Best Singles of 2017

Even the resilience of retroism was, this year, tinged with the irony of watching those not knowing the past being doomed to repeat it. But in a grasping-at-straws moment, grim reality checks, bubblicious-pop contraptions, stripped-down folk-soul, and, yes, Old Music 2.0 seemed to coexist on a playlist sending signals of life from the Upside Down, or at least one designed to help us feel some type of way. So even though, as our list of the year’s top singles reveals, we more often than not had to travel all the way to Japan and England to satisfy our memories of hip-thrusting better days that we may never see return, the pleasure of the perfect three- or four-minute escape will never be quashed. Though we’re at the point where even Katy Perry knows we’re all metaphorically in chains.