Morgan Freeman Takes Off


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An old article published in 1988.

Walking along 42nd Street, Morgan Freeman talks about the performances he most admires—not the Orson Welles of Citizen Kane but the Orson Welles of Touch of Evil; not the Laurence Olivier of Hamlet but the Laurence Olivier of Khartoum. He stops on the sidewalk, raises his right hand to his forehead in a snappy salute. “Now, that’s the level of performance you strive for.”

Like Freeman’s performance in Street Smart. Vicious yet charming, scary yet seductive, menacing yet amiable, the kind of guy who can hold a gun to your throat, then slowly smile, pat you on the cheek, and say, “Come on. I’ll buy you a cuppa coffee.” Freeman’s Fast Black has all the oxymorons you’d expect in a routinely first-rate portrayal of a pimp. But he takes them to a level deeper, playing a man so tautly in control he could snap into psychosis at any second, a man, most of all, who knows that a large part of being a successful pimp is being a gifted actor.

The complete article

Ross Wetzsteon — Bronx Banter

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Little Women Goes to War


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Even before it opened, the film adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s classic novel had taken on heavy sociological and political significance.  Amy Pascal, the movie’s producer, had tweeted that men were not attending screenings of the Greta Gerwig–directed movie due to “unconscious bias” against women. Another Hollywood feminist VIP, Melissa Silverstein, jumped in: “I think it’s total, fully conscious sexism and shameful. The female story is just as universal as the male story.” The media were off and running: “Little Women has a Little Man problem,” Vanity Fair announced. “Men Are Dismissing Little Women: What a Surprise,” was the snarky title of a New York Times column.

The complete article

Kay S. Hymowitz — City Journal

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The Fake Indian Princess Who Conned Marlon Brando into Marriage


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THE YEAR WAS 1957. He was the king of Hollywood, having won an Oscar for On the Waterfront (1954). She was a rising star with blue blood, an Indian princess, having played the survivor of a plane crash in The Mountain, starring Spencer Tracy. Together, they made a beautiful couple, with the world seemingly at their feet. That was until Marlon Brando realised that Anna Kashfi, the woman he had married, was actually Joan O’Callaghan, a Welsh butcher’s assistant who owed her exotic looks to her Anglo-Indian ancestry rather than a royal lineage. By 1959, they were divorced.

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Kaveree Bamzai — Open

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The Swimming Pool Library


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Interesting and absurd,

“The Swimmer”: a jovial middle-aged Westchester resident named Ned “Neddy” Merrill, gin-drunk in his friend’s backyard, announces his intention to swim home by way of the fifteen private (and one public) pools that punctuate the properties between himself and his Bullet Park mansion. This setting is powerfully Cheeveresque, to the extent that Mad Men—which shook down many of Cheever’s stories for tone and content—located the Drapers’ Ossining residence on Bullet Park Road, a fictional street named for Cheever’s 1969 novel, Bullet Park. In “The Swimmer,” Ned’s impetus seems mostly romantic; a way of leaving the party in style, reassembling the built waterscape into something natural. “He seemed to see, with a cartographer’s eye, that string of swimming pools, that quasi-subterranean stream that curved across the county.” There’s no good reason for Ned to do this, other than the fact that he wants to, and believes he can.

The complete article

Naomi Skwarna — Hazlitt

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Does Laughing With ‘The Joker’ Make You a Creep?


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I got it. Did you? I relate to Fleck. But I don’t need to relate to him. Most people today have to see themselves in the characters they study—or they feel ignored, like Arthur Fleck. If you don’t relate to him, and you’re someone who views the cinema as an educational pamphlet, then you won’t get the Joker. You never will. You’ve refrigerated your dark sense of humor and forgotten about it as if it were a bag of unpopular green peas in the farthest corner of the icebox. You either hold your nose at things that make you feel uncomfortable—because you can’t relate to them—or convince others to trash it to relieve you of the emotional baggage associated with being asked to sympathize with someone who doesn’t think or look like you.

The complete article

Art Tavana — The American Conservative

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Tarantino’s Most Transgressive Film


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As usual, you can’t ignore a Tarantino movie.

We can’t have a movie like this. It affirms things the culture wants killed. If men aren’t encouraged to cry in public, where will we end up? And the bottom line is the bottom line: Audiences don’t want to see this kind of thing anymore. The audience wants the kind of movies the justice critics want. But the audience gave Once Upon a Time in Hollywood the biggest opening of Tarantino’s career. The critics may not get it, but the public does. Is Tarantino making a reactionary statement at a dangerous time? Or does the title tell the truth, that the whole thing—including those old masculine values—was always just a fairy tale, a world “that never really existed, but feels like a memory”?

The complete article

Caitlin Flanagan — The Atlantic

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Lion King 2019 vs. the original: what’s better and worse about the remake


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Now that most of you are planning to watch The Lion King, this is good to know.

But on the whole, it seems clear that the 1994 version still stands head and shoulders above its younger cousin. It’s inventive and imaginative. The songs were written for that film, and the animations that accompany them are often whimsical and visually inventive in the way that only hand-drawn animation, which lets the imagination of the audience fly free, can do. And that’s especially important in a movie about talking, singing wild animals.

There’s little doubt that many audiences, especially hardcore Lion King fans, will find the new version charming, like a really faithful cover album of a beloved record. But in the end, it’s sad to see Disney shed the hand-drawn glory of its former days. Nobody, after all, really needs a documentary about lions, but with lip-syncing.

The complete article

Alex Abad-Santos & Alissa WilkinsonVox

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