Did 13 Reasons Why Spark a Suicide Contagion Effect?


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There is a debate going on whether the Netflix series 13 Reasons Why should have depicted suicide the way it did.

The study, while troubling, is not entirely surprising. In May, I examined how 13 Reasons Why managed to break virtually every rule that exists when it comes to portraying suicide, featuring a graphic, prolonged scene of the main character’s death in the final episode and glamorizing it as a force for positive change in her community. One of the biggest concerns among psychologists and educators was that the show might spark a contagion effect, where increased coverage of suicide in the media leads to a related increase in suicide attempts. Netflix doesn’t release data regarding its viewing figures, but the wide discussion of the show on social media (it became the most-tweeted about show of 2017) implies that a significant number of people watched it, particularly teenagers. The rush to produce a follow-up season (currently being filmed and scheduled for a 2018 release) indicates the show has been a big hit for the streaming service.

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Sophie Gilbert — The Atlantic

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FEMININE WONDER WOMAN


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Today’s needull discusses why Wonder Woman’s theme is not the usual feminism.

The story of Wonder Woman, far from being a feminist fable, is actually the archetypal tragedy of the goddess who falls in love with a mortal man who must die while she lives on immortally. It’s a version of Eos and Tithonus in classical mythology—and of Arwen and Aragorn in Lord of the Rings. There is also, dare I say, a Christian theme. “They do not deserve you,” Diana’s Amazon mother warns her daughter before she goes off with Trevor to save mankind from more ghastly slaughter than even the historical World War I entailed. The film’s arch-villain, the war-god Ares, dueling with words with Diana in a fashion that can remind readers of the Gospels of Jesus’s verbal duels with Satan in the desert, reminds her that while he is the powerful tempter, it is human beings themselves, with their weakness, greed, vanity, and murderousness, who have brought on their own self-destruction. Like Christ, Diana makes the choice for humankind anyway. She sees that men and women, despite their capacity for monstrousness, are also capable of selfless love. Her own human lover, Trevor, sets the example: He sacrifices his life to bring at least a temporary end to the destruction.

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Charlotte Allen — First Things

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“Dunkirk” Is the Movie Christopher Nolan Was Born to Make


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I have yet to watch Dunkirk but going by the reviews I would want to go to watch in an IMAX screen.

Nolan doesn’t get enough credit for the experimentalism of his filmmaking. His final Batman picture, The Dark Knight Rises (2012), had extended passages that interlaced suspense set pieces with time-condensing montages, two modes that require totally different kinds of pacing; that the director would cross streams so flamboyantly in a superhero flick indicated his willingness to push stylistic boundaries, not to mention the power he wielded as a producer. He had attempted something even bolder in his previous film, Inception (2010), in which multiple layers of dream realities, each playing out at a different speed, interacted with one another in strange ways.

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Bilge Ebiri — The Village Voice

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The Obsessions of Hitchcock, Welles, and Kubrick


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Today’s needull is a book review of The Extraordinary Image: Orson Welles, Alfred Hitchcock, Stanley Kubrick, and the Reimagining of Cinema by Robert P. Kolker. Kolker is known for his extensive studies in cinema and is a very well respected figure.

The treatment of women in Kubrick’s films can (and has) filled volumes—that astonishing scene in Killer’s Kiss (1955), in which scores of mute, naked female mannequins are mutilated in the midst of a fight between two men wildly swinging axes and spears can be read as a summary of every charge of misogyny ever leveled at film noir. And the connection between sex and death in Kubrick films goes back at least as far as Paths of Glory (1957), when one soldier realizes that he hasn’t had a “single sexual thought” since learning he had been condemned to face a firing squad. But once again The Extraordinary Image more commonly gestures than investigates. A summary of the sexual banter between Joker and Cowboy in Full Metal Jacket (1987), for example, was particularly unfulfilling, as this reader at least has always struggled with how to read that scene. Regrettably, Kolker does little more than describe the action. Yes, Joker’s sexually aggressive banter is accompanied, (incidentally and subtly), by “the fly on his shorts coming open,” but is this indicating a sexual relationship between the two men? The film (and this book) doesn’t say.

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Jonathan Kirshner — Boston Review

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Quentin Tarantino makes his one true action movie, and it’s glorious


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This needull talks about Kill Bill: Vol. 1. An action movie where Tarantino goes no holds barred on action scenes.

Kill Bill—the whole bloody affair—is messy. The tone veers wildly from cartoonish silliness to bloodcurdling emotional intensity; think of the moment where Uma Thurman wakes from her coma, realizes that she’s no longer pregnant, and lets out a feral-animal howl before she gets to killing motherfuckers. And somehow, probably because Tarantino knows what he’s doing, those abrupt tonal shifts never kill the movie’s momentum. It rockets forward on its own logic, over the course of two movies. It’s a four-hour revenge spectacular that ends with a long philosophical discussion.

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Tom Breihan — The A.V. Club

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The Fate of the Critic in the Age of Clickbait


Do Twitter and Facebook spell the end of the critic?

Criticism of any kind is increasingly unwelcome at the digital-age paper. Consider a controversy that flared up in Canada last year. Arthur Kaptainis, who had long been the critic of the Montreal Gazette and more recently had been writing freelance for the National Post, reviewed a Canadian Opera Company production of Rossini’s “Maometto II.” The Canadian Opera asked for a couple of corrections, whereupon the Post took the bizarre step of removing the review from its Web site. Amid the resulting hubbub, a Post arts editor was quoted in an e-mail: “I really hate running reviews for performing arts. They simply get no attention online, and almost always end up as our poorest performing pieces of digital content.” The same mantra is heard at culture sections across America. Reviews don’t catch eyeballs. They don’t “move the needle.”

The logic seems irrefutable. Why publish articles that almost nobody wants? On closer examination, some shaky assumptions underlie these hard-nosed generalizations. First, digital data, in the form of counting clicks and hits, give an incomplete picture of reading habits. Those who subscribe to the print edition are discounted—and they tend to be older people, who are also more likely to follow the performing arts. A colleague wrote to me, “The four thousand people reading your theatre critics might be extremely loyal subscribers who press the paper on others. People in power often speak of ‘engagement’ and ‘valued readers,’ yet they still remain in thrall of the big click numbers—because of advertising, mostly.”

The New Yorker

Image: Painting by Brianna Keeper

Roger Ebert’s reflections after 25 years at the movies


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This article was written by Ebert in 1992. He talks about movies, actors and directors that he has liked over these 25 years. He also talks about why he has been a movie critic for 25 years.

I look at silent movies sometimes, and do not feel I am looking at old films, I feel I am looking at a Now that has been captured. Time in a bottle. When I first looked at silent films, the performers seemed quaint and dated. Now they seem more contemporary than the people in 1980s films. The main thing wrong with a movie that is ten years old is that it isn’t 30 years old. After the hair styles and the costumes stop being dated and start being history, we can tell if the movie itself is timeless.

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Roger Ebert

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