If you'd like a master class in screen-acting (not to mention a Minor in Pronouncing Vulgarity in New & Unique Ways) then you couldn't do much better than by studying the two times Sam Jackson's called upon to recite his character's favorite Bible scripture, Ezekiel 25:17, in Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction. The scenes essentially bookend the film with Jules holding an audience captive through just the conviction of his delivery. Hardly the last time Sam would manage that feat.
Entries in religiosity (42)
This article was originally published in a slightly shorter version in Nathaniel's column at Towleroad
Nathaniel reporting from Sundance. One of the most interesting trends of this year's Sundance Film Festival is confrontational stories about people being pushed out of or willfully stepping away from their sexual comfort zones. The Diary of a Teenager Girl has earned the best reviews and the most press but let's discuss two films with more LGBT appeal. I Am Michael, a drama about religion and homosexuality, and The D Train, a comedy about a high school reunion, both feature grown men whose lives spiral out of control when they stray from their true selves. [More...]
AV Club deep screen capture to reveal how well constructed shots in Divergent dont make for a good film
BuzzFeed great essay on the current relevancy of Before Sunrise (1995) and instant nostalgia
Heat Vision Tyrese Gibson obsessed with playing Green Lantern in a film that's at least 5 years away based on a character already ruined by the movies
Decider 10 essential movies about nuns from our beloved Black Narcissus to less impressive but famous offerings like Doubt
HuffPo Adam Scott and Jason Schwarzmann discuss their prosthetic penises in The Overnight. (Takeaway: no actor will ever truly be naked again onscreen. That's only for actresses)
THR talks to the director of Book of Life - though disappointed by the lack of an Oscar nomination, he cherishes stories from fans about how it effected their families
Towleroad arts teacher in Texas does "Uptown Funk" with students. Cute. But I only share it because I love Uptown Funk because you know why (first verse)
Playlist Paul Thomas Anderson loves Edge of Tomorrow and The Grand Budapest Hotel
THR Why Me and Earl and the Dying Girl did not choose the highest bidder at Sundance
This Week's Must Read
You undoubtedly know already that Mark Harris is one of the best writers on movie culture and the awards beat in general (if for some insane reason you haven't read his first book Pictures at a Revolution, it's the most invaluable Oscar book since "Inside Oscar") but I think his latest column for Grantland is one of his all time finest. He goes deep on "How Selma Got Smeared: Historical Fiction And Its Malcontents" I only wish this essay had broken sooner before Oscar nomination voting. Now you may be thinking 'please, Nathaniel, I have read enoug about Selma's LBJ problem' and you may even be thinking (as I have been) that complaints about Selma's "Oscar snub" are starting to feel weirder and weirder as the season progresses. Fact: Selma will now go down in movie history as a Best Picture nominee, something only 8 movies from hundreds and hundreds released in 2014 can claim. But trust me you need to read this anyway.
Here's a part I particularly love (bold is mine) that is really illuminating about historical fiction:
About a third of the way into Selma, Coretta Scott King (Carmen Ejogo) has a private meeting with Malcolm X (Nigel Thatch) in an Alabama church (this is not an invention of the movie; the two met in Selma on February 5, 1965, two weeks before Malcolm X was assassinated). The scene is introduced with a shrewd recurring device — an onscreen teletype legend that tells moviegoers what’s happening, but only through the warping prism of FBI surveillance. “C. King in Selma to meet with Negro militant Malcolm X. 03:46 p.m. LOGGED.” The description denotes the assumption of white law enforcement that a conspiracy of one kind is taking place — a clandestine meeting in which King may be moving closer to throwing in with a more militant, potentially violent faction of the movement. In reality, the “conspiracy” that’s unfolding is exactly the opposite; Malcolm tells the wary Coretta that he is not in Selma to impede her husband’s work, but to allow himself to be used, even to be misrepresented, to further King’s goals.
DuVernay’s view of the uses of history and of (mis)representation is not careless in this scene or in the movie; it’s clearly thought through. The onscreen typed summary is a perfectly deployed example of how something can be factually correct (meeting with a “Negro militant” is, literally, what Coretta King is doing) without being true; the movie, by contrast, finds many ways of being true without being strictly factual. That is exactly what good historical drama must sometimes do, and must be given permission to do, including in this scene itself, in which DuVernay has a character express an understanding that his presence and his motives may have to be slightly distorted in order to achieve a greater truth and justice.
And Harris illuminates it, strategically, in a scene not even involving LBJ.
What becomes a legend most? Not the biopics we see each year at the movies, Patti Smith suggests to me. We were meeting to talk about her first Original Song for a film, "Mercy Is" from this spring's $100 million hit Noah when the conversation veered into her own status as a showbiz legend, the godmother of punk. She shudders when I wonder aloud if anyone will make ever make a movie of her best-selling memoir "Just Kids" which recounts her storied relationship with fellow artist Robert Mapplethorpe. Though she's undoubtedly been interviewed thousands of times by now in her forty years of stardom, and she questions (indirectly) the whole point of the star profile and the interviewing process -- 'if you really want to know me, it's all there in the work' -- she is a patient and warm interview. She instantly recalls the old massive paraphenalia that journalists used to bring into the room to record with when she sees my tiny electronic device and she's eager to talk Noah, a project she felt immediately taken with when Darren Aronofsky first told her about his plans for it at the Venice Film Festival years ago.
NATHANIEL: Movies aren’t something you've spent a lot of time with in your legendary career. Did you know Aronofsky’s work well before writing the song for Noah?
PATTI SMITH: Yes. I love the one with Rachel Weisz, The Fountain. And Pi. I saw Black Swan a couple of times and we talked about Black Swan as a metaphor for the artist process and things like that. But it was not so much Darren as the subject.
Nathaniel: But you’ve been asked about religion before in your career and you’ve called it ‘man-made dogma’ so why do a Biblical film?
PATTI SMITH: Well, I love the Bible. Just because I’ve extricated myself from religion doesn’t mean I’m not interested in the scriptures. I look at the Bible as itself. It’s a holy book, it has incredible literature in it and beautiful poetry - the Songs of Solomon and the Psalms. I studied the Bible seriously until I was young teenager. It was always part of our home education: talking about the Bible, arguing about the Bible, interpreting it. So I don’t connect prayer or scriptures with any particular religion so it’s not a contradiction in my life. [more...]
Sanctuary ! Sanctuary !
You often feel like you've seen the classics, even if you haven't. Victor Hugo published "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" 183 years ago and like most enduring classics, including Hugo's other culturally imposing masterwork "Les Miserables," it feels familiar even if you have no first-hand experiences with it. Hunchback, like Les Miz, has been adapted several times but has actually been musicalized more often. I regret to inform that I had never seen the 1939 RKO version starring Charles Laughton and Maureen O'Hara until now so the Disney version was my only true cinematic reference point, at first forcing comparisons where I didn't want to see anyway.
The easiest comparison to shake off was Esmeralda, since Maureen O'Hara's fresh faced breakthrough slipping through crowds and dancing in circles with her tambourine, beats Disney's Gypsy princess voiced by Demi Moore instantaneously. [More...]