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.

The complete article

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.

The complete article

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.

The complete article

Roger Ebert

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The Most Interesting Man in the World


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Stay thirsty, my friends. Today’s needull is about Jonathan Goldsmith who featured in the Dos Equis ads as the most interesting man in the world. His real life is also very interesting.

He was asked to tell the auditioners about his life, and, Lamas’ example firmly in mind, he regaled them with a tale of how he had been seducing women from a young age. He told how, as a hunter, he happened upon a village of ladies doing laundry by a river, and how he “f–ked them all.” His audition story got wilder from there, ending with Castro challenging him to a duel after he slept with the women in the leader’s life. As exaggerated tales go, it was a howler, and it left the casting people in hysterics.

By the end of the day, Goldsmith was officially The Most Interesting Man in the World.

The complete article

New York Post — Larry Getlen

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The cult of The Handmaid’s Tale


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A new series on Margaret Atwood’s novel The Handmaid’s Tale has started airing. As per Wiki – “Set in a near-future New England, in a totalitarian theocracy that has overthrown the United States government, the novel explores themes of women in subjugation and the various means by which they gain individualism and independence.”

It is the feminist bible that transcends gender. It was actually a young man who first turned me onto the novel – the tattered copy I still own was a gift from my teenage boyfriend (I forgave him so much because of his love for the book). I didn’t so much read through the night as travel through time and space, and I closed it awestruck and as furious as if it had been a news report. I am impatiently waiting for my daughters – currently aged eight and four – to reach an age where I can share it with them.

The complete article

Erin Kelly – The Telegraph

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Ronda Rousey: The World’s Most Dangerous Woman


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Today’s needull is a 2015 article on Ronda Rousey. This article looks at how she became MMA’s most unstoppable force.

Like everyone else, however, it wasn’t just Rousey’s fight skills that caught White’s attention. “She’s beautiful, intelligent and very pro-women, which I respect,” he says. “And she is psychotically competitive.” Which is true. Take the book tour for her new autobiography, My Fight/Your Fight. She’d been dreading it, until she read some report about Kim Kardashian’s crazy new book tour and suddenly changed her mind: “I was like, ‘Hell, no! I need mine to be crazier than that! Mine’s going to be the best book tour that ever happened! Kim Kardashian, I will beat your book tour!’ ”

The complete article

Eric Hedegaard – Rolling Stone

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