Friday, March 30, 2012

White on Kael and, implicitly, White

Long fierce piece in defense of Kael and in contempt of today's critics: all of them. Bracing stuff.

In today’s culture, journalism’s collusion with the entertainment industry has come to be expected. Post-Kael publications like Premiere Magazine, Movieline, and Entertainment Weekly have created a gushy, starstruck culture where hype and reviewing are inseparable. Today, mainstream entertainment journalism is so hand-in-glove with Hollywood in terms of what is and is not worth praise and attention—so tied up with promotional campaigns and fan-boy fervor—that journalists are bewildered and suspicious when they encounter someone who consistently deviates from that consensus. Audiences these days seem to want to be validated in their own opinions, and take personal offense to critics who do not oblige.

Considering that hype, from advertising pages to review pages, is perceived as the only way to respond to popular art, perhaps Kael’s most radical maxim comes from her 1970 piece “Notes on Heart and Mind,” when she averred: “Without a few independent critics, there’s nothing between the public and the advertisers.” That notion seems perverse today, when criticism occupies a different, more indulgent position in the culture.


Thursday, March 29, 2012

More Noir in the Library of America

Another sign that the US is getting more like France every day. David Goodis joins Philip K. Dick in the Library of America.

Good roundup and some cautionary words about Paul Cain in the WSJ. Also a reading list, which I can never resist.


Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The only desktop wallpaper you will ever need

Click to enlarge!


Saturday, March 24, 2012

Friday, March 23, 2012

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Not sure exactly what this means

Alternate hard R and PG cuts on the DVD?

People who hate onscreen sex can rejoice in the release of "Games of Thrones"' first season on DVD. They no longer have to endure all that nudity to learn about the Lannister family tree, the Targaryen history with dragons or why Joffrey is an illegitimate heir to the throne. Released earlier this month, it methodically explains aspects of Westeros that the show breezes through en route to its next decapitation.


No "bwam"


Sunday, March 18, 2012

Clive still likes movies

"During the week, I joined my little granddaughter for one of her regular viewings of the first Toy Story movie and I was reminded all over again that some of the programmes which television people would like to think wonderful are not so wonderful compared with the movies."
More here.



Thursday, March 15, 2012

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

High praise from a geek:

Wil Wheaton, judging between two novels in the first bracket of the annual on-line "Tournament of Books", on "The Sisters Brothers":

The Sisters Brothers made me feel like I was sitting in a movie house in Red Dead Redemption, watching an episode of Deadwood that was written by Quentin Tarantino and directed by the Coen Brothers.


Monday, March 12, 2012

Teacher Nora recommends...

More here.




Friday, March 9, 2012

Maximalism in Pop Music

I love this. Leonard Cohen was mentioned reverently here a while back, and this is billed as his own favorite version of one of his signature tunes. It's also everything that makes crawl the skin of people who revere restraint and elegance above all other musical (if not literary) values. Lang seems never to have met a melodramatic impulse she didn't like. (Her version of Neil Young's "Helpless" is Wagnerian.) Plus, at this stage of her life and career she clearly doesn't give a shit; comes out on stage barefoot, in a bathrobe, looking like Zatoichi. A liberating spectacle.


Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Monday, March 5, 2012

Pick your bracket

From the lit/sport website Grantland:

Asked to name the greatest Wire character of all time (let it never be said that Grantland does not ask the tough questions!), the Commander in Chief didn't hesitate: "It's gotta be Omar, right? I mean, that guy is unbelievable, right?"

This gave us an idea. What if we actually did subject the key players of the Wire-verse to rigorous bracketological inquiry? If we played corner boys against dock workers, murder-polices against hoppers, and craven politicos against enigmatic not-actually-Greek human traffickers, in matchups as arbitrary and occasionally unjust as life and death on the mean streets of West Baltimore, would the king stay the king? This week, we're going to find out. And we're probably also going to make David Simon mad, again. Behold: Grantland's first-ever TV bracket. Thirty-two characters. Six days.

Too big to reproduce here.....


Sunday, March 4, 2012

TED Talk 2023

A slick piece of viral marketing from Ridley Scott:


John Munch and I agreed...

Words of wisdom from the early '90s cop show "Homicide," which I've been re-watching recently. A crucial evolutionary step from some of the guys who went on to create "The Wire."


Friday, March 2, 2012

The death of the episode

A long, sometimes obvious, sometimes subtle, analysis of current trends in television narrative centering on the move away from series episodes toward installments of longer works.

This change, which has been sneaking up on us for a long time now, suddenly seems more important than anything else that's been going on in movies and television this decade. Maybe we should start being more analytical about it....

Some quotes I liked:

It’s easy to blur the line between “episode” and “installment” if you’re blowing through an entire season of Breaking Bad over a single weekend. When doing this, thinking about how a certain episode works on its own becomes less relevant. Simply getting through the virtual stack of content becomes paramount, with the next episode literally moments away from appearing on your screen. Plowing through a single season in two or three sittings may feel thrilling, but it’s also shifted the importance of a single episode in terms of the overall experience.....

A television show is a living, breathing entity that represents a synergy of creative, cultural, and social forces that simply can’t be predicted five weeks out, never mind five years out. It’s not a book that can be rewritten before anyone can read it, or a film that can be reshot/re-edited before it screens in theaters. The cat’s out of the bag, for better or worse. Laying in groundwork for a massive payoff down the line is a terrible risk, one that comes with so little control as to be almost laughable.

What can be controlled is a reaffirmation of the structural and narrative importance of a single episode. You don’t even have to construct a theoretical example of how to balance the needs of an episode with the needs of a season or series. FX’s Justified offers a master class in how to achieve both. Graham Yost and his writing staff have found the sweet spot where an episode has a shape unto itself while informing the larger 13-episode season and the ever-growing series, while at the same time focusing on world-building, something television is fantastic at doing. With a theoretically unlimited amount of episodes to fill, it’s smart to look at the environments in which shows operate and look under rocks and behind corners to see what might exist. Harlan feels three-dimensional, and though it’s self-contained, it also feels limitless in terms of story potential.


Thursday, March 1, 2012

You read it here first...

The Jackson Brodie playlists.

Seems I missed a few.


Teacher Nora's favorite T-Pop star

Who's yours?

More here and here.