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.

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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.

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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”?

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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.

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Alex Abad-Santos & Alissa WilkinsonVox

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Who had the most merciful death on Game of Thrones?


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Had to publish at least one Game of Thrones article.

By far the most agonizing death was that suffered by poor Shireen Baratheon in season 5—a death so horrible that Thompson had a difficult time even writing about it. The most merciful way to burn someone at the stake is to pile up green wood in such a way as to enclose the victim, so that they die from smoke inhalation fairly quickly. In the case of Shireen, the wood was stacked on a pallet at her feet, burning her from the bottom up and ensuring she was conscious for most of her agonizing death. It could have taken as long as 30 minutes for her to die. So Melisandre lied when she told a frightened Shireen, “It will all be over soon.”

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Jennifer Ouellette — Ars Technica

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Miss Bala


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In the earlier, more authentic film, Naranjo generally employs an austere style: his languorous pans and tracking shots suggest the weight and force of the world beyond his heroine’s comprehension. Naranjo knows when to take a straightforward, analytical look at a decisive act. He depicts the drug lord’s meticulous taping of cash to the heroine’s naked waist as a devastating montage of defilement. An image of Sigman facing forward, hands behind her head, in a black bra and a money belt made of packing tape, provided the original film with its searing poster art.

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Michael Sragow — Film Comment

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How Sundance Made Indie Movies Mainstream


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What was new here was that formerly fringe filmmakers were now getting big crossover deals and gushy reviews, redefining indie cinema in the public consciousness. This began a snowball effect with other newer and younger would-be writers and directors. Sundance and Cannes 1989 were the first major “Yes We Can!” moments for those who had had studio and network gates slammed in their faces in the past or who’d never had the confidence or connections to go that far in the first place.

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Telly Davidson — The American Conservative

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