not in our stars, but in ourselves
You all clamor for my hot takes on stories that are a week old, don’t you? Yeah, I know. Don’t worry – I’m here now.
1) Boston has been in the news for a couple of new movies (Black Mass, Spotlight). Vulture thinks that Spotlight is a shoo-in for a Best Picture nomination, because it’s (a) good and (b) allows the old white people of the Academy to feel good about themselves if they vote for it. Okay. Grantland ran a great piece today about Whitey Bulger throughout pop culture, as well as throughout his life and career of crime. Highly recommended. Oh, and speaking of, the Black Mass premiere took place at the beautiful Coolidge Corner Theatre this week…where Johnny Depp said some things that got people mad. Now, I don’t want to tell Bulger’s victims and survivors how to feel. They’re entitled to their anger and grief. I would humbly like to point out to the rest of the hoi polloi, however, that an actor who plays a part – whether it’s a fictional character or based on a real person – can’t go into the role with such a simplistic conception as “evil” or “good.” The actor’s job is to find a way to make that role compelling and, within whatever context presented by the rest of the movie, believable. Whitey Bulger was certainly a cruel, horrible person – but he is a person. He isn’t a cartoon character. Depp had to read that script and find a way to make such unconscionable acts appear to come from a real person’s decisions, beliefs, fears, etc. He had to find a way to make Bulger seem like the hero of his own story, even if he’s the villain of everyone else’s. No one believes that they’re the bad guy. They can always find some justification, some reason they had to, some excuse. What does Bulger think of himself now that he’s been caught? I don’t know. He might feel a stab of contrition – something that a purely evil person couldn’t feel, I assume. Anyway, this is all to say that I’m excited to see Black Mass, so I’ll let you know when I do.
2) Our boys from across the river, Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, have brought back Project Greenlight for some goddamn reason. Damon has already shown his ass. Sigh.
3) Alleged pretty-boy and vindicated Deflategater Tom Brady should leave discussions of politics to his far more qualified teammate, Gronk. You know who I bet Gronk will vote for? Deez Nuts. (Is Mr. Nuts still running? Well, Gronk probably doesn’t know either, and wouldn’t care anyway.) Deez Nuts is still a better choice than the real-life Annoying Orange.
4) Normally, I’m not a fan of The A.V. Club, but there’s gold in them thar hills once in a great while. To wit: this essay about how to understand feminist film criticism. The key to unlocking this apparently mind-boggling (for some) concept is Ewoks. Everyone hates Ewoks, apparently, but Return of the Jedi is a decent film. Criticizing one aspect of a film or TV show as “problematic” while still conceding that it’s an entertaining piece of media is possible. I don’t agree with any criticism of Mad Max: Fury Road, obviously, so I don’t subscribe to that portion of the essay, but it’s right on, overall.
5) Key & Peele is over, and reading this collection of favorite sketches from comedy greats, as well as this brilliant piece by Wesley Morris, makes me very sad and lonesome. I can watch reruns, and I can watch their post-Key & Peele projects, but that show was a goddamn miracle, and I miss it already. Please watch this, and ensure that it finds its proper place in every museum in the world:
6) TV industry insiders, it turns out, are idiots with short memories and a great fondness for mediocrity. Who knew. Oh, wait: anyone who’s paying attention to network TV! That’s who knows. Andy Greenwald’s savage takedown of this season’s big-four premieres is solid gold. Example:
I don’t even need a word to sum up the fall 2015 broadcast slate, not when an emoticon will do: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. This is the sorriest collection of recycled ideas, neutered groupthink, and depressing mediocrity I’ve ever seen. You have to understand: I’m not just saying nothing is good. I’m also saying nothing is even the slightest bit compelling. Or interesting. Or unique. Or even bad in a Put On Your Sunglasses, David Caruso, and Take a Look at That Car Crash sort of way. These shows are the empty, halfhearted shrugs of decaying empires that have no idea what viewers want anymore — and have committed the full force of their not-inconsiderable assets to proving it.
Andy, I know you won’t read this, but please know that you’re doing God’s work.
7) Jimmy Carter’s film-watching while he was president dwarfs my own, and I barely do anything. As usual, I am ashamed.
8) Nerd Fitness knows how to make you the star of your own ’80s action movie. Brb, filming my montage.
9) Will probably finish season one of Fargo tonight. Will be in intense withdrawal until season two begins next month. Why didn’t you chodes tell me?! You keep letting me miss out on GREAT things, you jerks!