Lancelot Links postsSaturday January 30, 2016
Friday January 22, 2016
- Movie mashups used to be a thing, then kind of went away, at least for me. But this one's worth it: “50 Shades of Mr. Bean.”
- OK, this one too. It's two of the three guys singing “Please Mr. Kennedy” in “Inside Llewyn Davis” (Oscar Isaacs and Adam Driver) against the backdrop of their “Star Wars” battles.
- Well, what do you know? Another one: Turning “Dumb & Dumber” into an Oscar-worthy drama.
- Stop me if you've heard this one: A man in Renton, Wash., brings a gun to a movie theater for a showing of Michael Bay's “13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi” in case some nut starts shooting up the place. And he winds up shooting up the place.
- My man Rick Perlstein admits the rise and rise of Donald Trump threw him for a loop, but his thoughts on the phenomenon are clarifying, particularly why former GOP candidates, as demagogic as they might have been, always put on the brakes. And maybe why Trump hasn't.
- Jonathan Chait is also good in his piece: The Trump Party vs. the Republican Party. Particularly this thought: “A Republican presidential candidate might run on Willie Horton and opposing same-sex marriage, but after being elected, he was expected to turn to reducing the top tax rate and deregulating business. Cultural appeal was the means, and economics the ends. What conservatives fear is that Trump might upend that delicate, unstated system by turning the means into the ends.”
- I use the term “auteur whore” for critics who love anything a particular director does; Jeff Wells uses a Wall Street metaphor: when do you purchase or dump director stock? I like it. I have to say, I'm still holding on to my Michael Mann stock, despite “Blackhat”; it was still more interesting, more dense, than most movies. And I go long on the Coens and Jacques Audiard. Anyone else? Vinny? Reed? Bueller?
Monday January 11, 2016
- Beautiful obit of Negro Leaguer/Major Leaguer Monte Irvin by Joe Posnanski. I had no idea he was considered that good. Or that he wasn't in his prime when he made the Major Leagues. Books need to be written; movies need to be made.
- Before Pres. Obama's State of the Union on Tuesday, we experienced another Iranian Hostage Crisis—the very thing that brought down Pres. Carter and led to Ronald Reagan and the triumph of know-nothing conservatism. So GOP candidates made the most of it. And what happened? It resolved peacefully within 24 hours. So this big “fuck you” goes out to Mssrs. Rubio, Cruz, Trump and Scarborough.
- A “satirical” site wrote a piece about author and CNN host Fareed Zakaria, right-wing websites picked it up as fact, it spread, and there went some part of his reputation and peace of mind. “For a few days,” he writes on his blog, “the digital intimidation veered out into the real world. Some people called my house late one night and woke up and threatened my daughters, who are 7 and 12.” One wonders if courts will eventually (or perpetually?) have to decide what is satire, since satire is protected speech, and a lot of these sites seem to be taking advantage of that. No one wants judges deciding what's funny, but talk about a gray area.
- In honor of MLK Day, Rick Perlstein gives his Facebook followers an excerpt of his next book: the lead-up to the Bakke anti-affirmative action decision in 1976.
- Again on Facebook, Joe Henry has a great tribute to Glenn Frey. “Joe: Five thousand or fifty ... what do we care? We play for who comes.” Amen.
- Nate Silver, who nailed the 2008 and 2012 elections, suggests that unless things change big time, current GOP frontrunner Donald Trump starts out with yuuuuge negatives among independent and even Republican voters. Currently, the leader of the GOP field in terms of net favorability ratings are: Ted Cruz (!) among Republicans; Ben Carson and Marco Rubio among indies; John Kasich among Dems.
- Great piece by Kathryn Schulz on what the Netflix 10-part series “Making a Murderer” gets right and wrong. And she does what I love doing: Using a famous line from the work to critique the work.
- The Post's Dana Milbank juxtaposes Jesus' Sermon on the Mount with the gospel of Donald Trump. Funny stuff. Sad stuff.
- The Ziegfeld Theater is NYC is closing. I don't think I've ever been there, and I live 3,000 miles away, but it's still a drag. It's being replaced by “a high-end space for corporate events.” Yay team.
- My friend Andy is reviving his blog “The Lost Salt Atlas,” and he's got his own Lancelot Links. Glad people are still doing this. Glad we're not just leaving it up to social media.
- Most of the feelings I have for the #OscarsSoWhite campaign have been negative. There's an issue there but it's an industry-wide issue, and tagging the Oscars in this instance is like tagging the Baseball Hall of Fame in the mid-1960s for having only one black member. So props to Charlotte Rampling for standing up to it. On another level, you know who I kind of feel sorry for? Michael Shannon and Paul Dano. They gave great performances in 2015 (“99 Homes” and “Love & Mercy,” respectively), didn't get nom'ed, and no one's said shit. Because they would be “part of the problem” if they had. Once it comes to that, I'm sorry, but I can't be part of your revolution.
Thursday December 31, 2015
- Remember the U VA gang-rape story that Rolling Stone magazine reportedly on sensationally and incorrectly last year? More details here from The Washington Post. If true, how sad and pathetic. And not helpful.
- Police artists sketch five literary characters based upon the author's description. Not the five I'd go with, but fun. Who I'd like to see? Holden Caulfield, Seymour Glass, T.S. Garp, Daniel Isaacson, Holly Golightly.
- Garrison Keillor calls Donald Trump a “cartoon candidate” and compares him to former Minn. Gov. Jesse Ventura.
- More from Minnesota: It's the 25th anniversary of the major-label debut of the Geardaddies, whom I used to see all the time back in the day. One of the best Minnesota garage bands ever. Viddy well. (I'd forgotten how much I love “Gonna Change.” Great song, bad title.)
- Criterion asks four actors (Benecio del Toro, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Greta Gerwig and Paul Dano) for favorite sex scenes. The women deliver, the men go with romantic (if sexy) scenes. Dudes. That said, I like the choices, or the movies, of the men more. I might add the kiss in the elevator in “Drive.” You?
- Great take by David Thomson on “The Revenant,” one of the year's best movies.
- Joe Posnanski doesn't think Fred McGriff belongs in the Hall of Fame (most members of the BBWAA agree), Tom Verducci does, and wrote a column comparing McGriff's numbers with Hall of Famer Eddie Matthews. Posnanski, normally polite, pushes back.
- The death of David Bowie at the age of 69. Out of the blue. As my friend Jeff wrote, “So far 2016 can suck it.”
- There's a new kid in Hollywood, STX Entertainment, and they're trying to create thoughtful, mid-range entertainment at a time of franchise blockbusters. Good luck. Also, thoughtful isn't necessarily “thoughtful.” Put another way: Even here, the marketing tail is this close to wagging the movie dog. It's actually a pretty depressing read.
- Charles Blow on guns and white terror. He glosses over heartbreaking assassinations in 1968 that led to gun control measures (it wasn't all about the Black Panthers), but the most telling stat is this: “77 percent of white gun deaths are suicides while 82 percent of black gun deaths are homicides.” So maybe eventually white gun owners will eliminate themselves?
- There will be continued talk about the Seahwaks 10-9 victory over the Vikings in below-zero weather in Minneapolis, but few will write about it better than Art Thiel.
- Well, unless it's Joe Posnanski.
- The long read of the week: “The Lawyer Who Became DuPont's Worst Nightmare,” by Nathaniel Rich, in The New York Times Magazine. Read it and realize why DuPont and other corporations are our worst nightmare: what they knew, when they knew it, what they did about it, how they were punished for it. Try not to be sick.
Saturday December 12, 2015
- You know all that talk about narco-terrorism? How terrorists are making tons of money off the drug trade to fund their activities? It might not be very true. What busts have been made could be a sad conjoining of: 1) the need to do something after 9/11; 2) the desire for a bigger DEA budget; 3) the fact that we pay (“incentivize”) informants based on arrests rather than intel, which encourages entrapment. Most high-profile busts over the years have essentially been sting operations. Read on.
- 4,191 vs. 4,189. How did Ty Cobb lose two basehits long after he was dead? Joe Posnanski sets the record straight.
- Pete Souza, official White House photographer, on Obama's very good year.
- Speaking of: This might be my favorite thing this year: Obama in a car (a 1963 Corvette Stingray) getting coffee with Jerry Seinfeld. “Oh, the sunscreen.” It's like we're back in the diner on “Seinfeld” but one guy is the President of the United States.
- I love these New York Times “Anatomy of a Scene” videos, in which a movie director talks us through all the details in a scene in their latest movie. Here it's Todd Haynes on the meeting of Therese and Carol in “Carol.”
- My nephew Jordy then found this one from one of his favorite films of 2015: “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl.”
- Came across this after the death of Meadowlark Lemon last Sunday: The Harlem Globetrotters on “What's My Line?” in 1956.
- The Dec. 21 & 28 Talk of the Town section of The New Yorker is a keeper. Among the pieces:
- Margaret Talbot on the Laquan McDonald shooting in Chicago, and the bad year for law enforcement. (And this doesn't take into account the Netflix documentary series, “Making a Murderer,” which everyone should watch.)
- The creator/star of “Hamilton,” Lin-Manuel Miranda, author Michael Chabon, and director Martin Scorsese talk New York history in a museum on the Bowery, a few blocks from where Scorsese grew up. Makes me want to see the Wallace Beery film.
- Performing devout Muslim rituals at the Trump SoHo Hotel. Great ending to this piece by Andrew Marantz.
- In the same issue, Emily Nussbaum talks up the subtext of “Jessica Jones,” which she admires. Her reaction to the series was the opposite of mine: initially bored, then interested. I went: “Not bad,” and then, “No, bad.” Love her line on Mike Colter: “... an actor with so much sexual gravity that he could be his own planet.”
- Long read of the week: Forrest Wickman on all the influences that went into the original “Star Wars.” At the least, it beats all the influences that went into “Star Wars VII,” which seems to be, you know, “Star Wars.”
Lancelot Links Sings a Foreign Song
All previous entries
Deepika at No. 14.
- I couldn't name 50 foreign-language musicals, but Bilge Ibiri actually counts down the 50 best. Four of them star Catherine Deneuve, including No. 1. Glad to see Om Shanti Om there. (Deepika Padukone: Call me.)
- “Honest Trailers” are often lamer than the movies they attempt to satirize, but the recent one on “Ant-Man” is pretty good.
- Love this appearance by Steve Carrell on “The Stephen Colbert Show.” The former “Even Stevphen” colleagues seem to enjoy how far they've come. Carrell is actually almost giddy.
- Charles P. Pierce on how Pres. Obama's post-San Bernadino speech seemed aimed at a wiser, more rational country. Which is why I like him.
- Nathaniel over at Film Experience wasn't a fan of the recent Screen Actors Guild nominations.
- The New York Times lays out the top books of 2015 from the usual suspects: Michiko, Dwight, Janet. I've read half of one, “Between the World and Me,” and wasn't overly impressed. I find Dwight's list most intriguing.
- A man took his family to a Minnesota Vikings game, and, before the opening kickoff, he was angrily accused of being a refugee. This is where FOX News' fearmongering gets us, kids.
- Paul Krugman blames the GOP for all the climate-change deniers in its midst. He also blames the press for not doing its job.
- Ryan Lizza has a good insidery piece on the nutjobs within the GOP and why they do what they do. The difference between then and now? The tail now wags the dog. The inmates run the asylum.
- Kurt Russell toes the NRA line on gun control (cars kill too, bombs kill too, the bad guys will still get guns so why try to stop them with things like laws?) in this back-and-forth with Jeff Wells. He also doesn't seem to think the movies affect anything. Well, maybe his movies.
- Alex Ross has a nice retrospective on Orson Welles on the 100th anniversary of his birth, referencing nearly a dozen books along the way, including one by my man Josh Karp.
- Will the “Mad Max” madness never end? Of all critics, Manohla Dargis chose it as her top film of 2015. Manohla! A.O. Scott has it on his list, too, but Stephen Holden is more sensible, as always. The two movies on all three NY Times “best of” lists? “Carol” and “The Big Short.” Both opening soon. So it goes.