Lancelot Links postsSunday July 20, 2014
- Indiewire's writers lay out the most underrated and underseen movies of the year so far ... and of course I haven't seen almost any of them. Only one, in fact: “Noah.” And I don't really agree with that choice. Among the others? “Dom Hemingway,” “The Rover,” “Le Weekend,” “God's Pocket,” “The Internet's Own Boy” and “Borgman.” Anyone see them? Anyone like them? “Borgman” had good buzz at SIFF this year.
- Nice review of “Boyhood” by Anthony Lane.
- Even John Boehner's friends are tired of John Boehner's whining.
- Jeff Wells slams the latest poster for “Skeleton Twins,” the funny, emotional, Sundance film starring Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader, as “a poster that says ‘meh, no biggie’…a poster that screams Netflix and VOD when there’s nothing else to watch.” Can't disagree.
- But it still beats the official posters for “Philomena” and “Klumpfisken”: man, woman, bench, fake, ick.
- David Remnick was recently in Moscow interviewing officials who said Vladimir Putin needed to bring down the political temperature. And this was before Malaysian Airlines #17 was shot over Ukraine—supposedly by Russian-backed separatists.
- Post-MH17, Andrew Sullivan asks Charles Krauthammer and other chest-beating right-wingers, “How do you like your Vladimir Putin now?”
- Hey, Ukranian separatists: You've just shot down a passenger jet and pissed off the entire world. What do you do for an encore? You seize control of the bodies.
- James Garner, dead at the age of 86.
- Long read of the week: Jill LePore not only disrupts “disruptive innovation” in general and its advocate, Clayton M. Christensen, in particular, she lays waste to them. As recently as 2011, Forbes magazine called Christensen “one of the most influential business theorists of the last 50 years.” But LePore quietly eviscerates him: “In 2007,” she writes, “Christensen told Business Week that 'the prediction of the [disruptive] theory would be that Apple won’t succeed with the iPhone,' adding, 'History speaks pretty loudly on that.' In its first five years, the iPhone generated a hundred and fifty billion dollars of revenue.” Inevitably, there's been pushback against LePore. Who disrupts the disruptor of disruptive innovation theory? Forbes, of course. No mention of the iPhone in that one.
How I first came across James Garner: as the laid-back, perpetually put-upon private eye Jim Rockford.
- Drew Taylor and Jessica Kiang over at HitList rank all eight “Planet of the Apes” movies and get most of it right: from the awfulness of Tim Burton's 2001 attempt to how good the recent movies have been. But what makes the list worthwhile is less that than the fact that they've obviously rewatched the films. So often such rankings are just filler for a site, SEO crap, and it reads like crap. Even when it reads well, you can tell the writer just cobbled together a list from memory. Not here. Taylor and Kiang go deep. They know movie details and subtext. I love their reading of “Escape from ...” (No. 3), for example.
- Did you know Woody Allen wrote, directed and starred in a short mockumentary in 1971 called “Men of Crisis: The Harvey Wallinger Story”? I didn't, and I'm a huge Allen fan. It's a bit Philip Roth's “Our Gang,” isn't it, mixed with “Take the Money and Run.” Wallinger (Allen) is Pres. Nixon's right-hand man, which gives Allen an opportunity to send up the Nixon administration, Kissinger (the rumors of sexual prowess), the GOP, etc. It was supposed to air in Feb. 1972, but PBS got scared and pulled it at the last minute. Shame. Via Jeff Wells of Hollywood Elsewhere.
- My “Hit Me with Your Best Shot” of Batman '66? Get a load of the rest.
- Should you bat your worst hitter first? Apparently only when it's Derek Jeter.
- Ah, but you can't say that! Because it's Derek Jeter!
- And just so you know it's not me, here's Deadspin's post-All Star Game “Haters Guide to Derek Jeter.”
- BTW: Did Adam Wainwright groove the bottom-of-the-1st pitch that Jeter hit for a double? If so, there's a history of such grooved pitches to retiring legends.
- Goooooooooooal! The final one of the 2014 World Cup. It's a beaut.
- Finally, last Friday, Richard Linklater's “Boyhood” opened for a limited release but goes nationwide tomorrow, and it's getting the expected raves. Andrew Sullivan tallies them up. Jeff Wells says yeah, but. Here's my review. If you have the chance, go.
The 2014 movie to see.
- The WSJ's Law Blog has a good primer on the big cases the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on this session, and how each justice voted. Apparently we have two swing voters now: Kennedy and Roberts. Even if they don't swing much. Or well.
- The Huffington Post gets its fact wrong about “Wire” creator David Simon and regrets it.
- Kevin Smith visits the new “Star Wars” set and really, really, likes what he sees.
- A friend of mine traveled with the Seattle Mariners in the early 2000s and met many of the players. Most were not exactly gentlemen, but two, she said, most definitely were: Jamie Moyer and Raul Ibanez. Joe Posnanski has now given us a beautiful post on the great after-30 career of Ibanez.
- Posnanski again on the introduction of the Lou Boudreau/Ted Williams shift, which is the talk of baseball this season.
- From my friend Andy, an old New Yorker piece: “Why You Should Read W.G. Sebald.” Which translates to why *I* should read W.G. Sebald.
- From my friend Ciam: Alan Brennert on getting screwed over yet again by the comic book industry—in this case, DC Comics. When there's money to be made, someone else besides the creator is making it. (Cf. Obadiahs' line in the movie “Iron Man.”)
- Related: Nicola Smith on how to sell a query letter. Via my friend Mike Smith, who's working on his first novel.
- Via Jim Walsh: The All-Star Game is being held in Minneapolis this year, Target Field, so local broadcast station WCCO looks back at the first All-Star Game held in Minnesota in 1965—with the help of Tony Oliva, whom you may have seen around this site once or twice. Possibly with me, age 8, hugging his butt.
- Andrew Sullivan tries to hold some of the chattering necons accountable in his perfectly titled post, “Never Listen to a Neo-Con Again.”
- You know how the third act of the latest “Transformers” movie was set in China? Well, it's paid off.
The Return of Lancelot Links
In the Age of Social Media (2008-present), there hasn't been as much linking going on as there was in the Age of Blogs (2002-2008), and I've been as guilty as anyone: I haven't done one of these things since last April.
- Nathaniel Rogers over at Film Experience gives a rundown of Oscar hopefuls from the first (generally forgotten) half of the movie year. My main hope? That Ralph Fiennes' performance in “Grand Budapest Hotel” isn't overlooked but I assume it will be. It has three Oscar strikes against it: 1) early release; 2) gentle humor; and 3) Wes Anderson, whom Oscar traditionally ignores.
- Nathaniel also talks up the Blu-Ray release of the Adam West “Batman” series, sorts through his favorite Catwomen, and criticizes the top-heaviness of Henry Cavill's Superman.
- Joe Posnanski has a lovely, thoughtful piece on how we disagree about Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and the Baseball Hall of Fame.
- What did democracy mean to E.B. White in 1943? This.
- My friend Vinny alerted me to this thoughtful video essay by Tony Zhou on why Michael Bay, for all his horrendous awfulness, works. As Werner Herzog says: Do not avert your eyes. P.S. The car crashing through the hillside village? That's a ripoff, too, of Jackie Chan's “Police Story.”
- I like Jeff Wells on Harold Ramis (R.I.P.) playing the doctor in “As Good As It Gets”: “Sorry. I know this scene is just a calculated James L. Brooks massage but it gets me anyway. I didn’t know Ramis at all (spoke to him maybe two or three times) but the gentle vibe was real.”
- Andrew Sullivan dissects the positive June jobs report and the lowest unemployment rate since the Global Financial Meltdown.
- Finally, Jeffrey Toobin reminds us why we need to take Ted Cruz seriously. (He's a great debater, and a former solicitor general of Texas, who has argued before the U.S. Supreme Court nine times.) Toobin also lets him get away with some doozies. (Particularly on SCOTUS “striking down” Prop 8 in California, when it simply ruled the appellants had no legal standing.) Hold your friends close.
Julie Newmar's Catwoman from the 1966 “Batman” TV series: so sexy it hurt.
- Writers from “The Simpsons”—Conan O'Brien, Al Jean, Jeff Martin, Jay Kogen, and Mike Reiss—sit around a table and talk about the early years of the show. We get anecdotes about James L. Brooks, Johnny Carson, Michael Jackson. They talk about the awful place they worked, how Conan came on board, who their favorite characters were. It's 80 minutes and I watched the whole damn thing. Most revealing? These guys are funny but hardly Mel Brooks.
- My friend Jerry Grillo has a nice piece on “42,” Jackie Robinson and the secrets of the universe.
- Flavorwire lists the 10 best books by filmmakers. I've read the Lumet, Truffaut, Mamet; want the Bogdonavich and Friedkin. But Robert Rodriguez? Really?
- A look at the new documentary, “Which Way Is the Frontline From Here: The Life and Times of Tim Hetherington,” by Hetherington's “Restrepo” co-director Sebastian Junger. The doc airs on April 18. Tomorrow? Tomorrow.
- Alan Zweibel (“North”) with a charming story about receiving tough criticism from Roger Ebert.
- How about Ebert & Scorsese At The Movies? The famed director sat opposite Roger after Gene Siskel's death to talk about the best movies of the 1990s. Love Scorsese's #2 pick.
- You ready? The crime isn't mistreating animals on factory farms; it's taping the mistreatment of animals on factory farms in order to try to stop it. Richard Oppel Jr. reports on this mistreatment of our government by right-wing lobbyists.
- Speaking of mistreatment: Apparently we can use the word “torture” now.
- My friend Stephen Manes' biography of Bill Gates, published in 1993, is now available on the Kindle. Gates and Bezos? Wouldn't that cause technology whiplash? Or would it be World's Finest #1?
- The guy who bought the domain name BostonMarathonConspiracy.com and why. It has a happy ending.
- Here's Stephen Colbert's take on Boston. Just the right touch.
- The Saudi national, who was a suspect, then a person of interest, and then maybe a double victim? Amy Davidson has the story on the New Yorker site. It's not pretty.
- Finally, Dennis Lehane on Boston, the city where he grew up, and the city where he lives, in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings. It's amazing what you get when you give a real writer a forum.
My favorite Boston moment.