Say what you will about Fifty Shades of Grey, the movie — but it was, at the very least, a more competently made endeavor than Fifty Shades of Grey, the book. Along with Dakota Johnson, who brought a disarming wit to a flat Mary Sue character, the credit for this belongs to director Sam Taylor-Johnson. Previously known for music-inspired projects such as the John Lennon biopic Nowhere Boy, she managed to condense 500 pages of Cinderella capitalism and awkwardly rendered sex into two hours of solid Hollywood Romance Product. But, likely due at least in part to clashes with Fifty Shades author E.L. James, Taylor-Johnson has announced that she’s exiting the franchise.
Considering that Universal has already greenlighted adaptations of the final two books in the series, the obvious question is: Who will direct the next film, Fifty Shades Darker? Though, frankly, I’m doubtful that Taylor-Johnson’s replacement will be anyone to get excited about, here is an unnecessarily lengthy list of audacious and entirely unlikely suggestions. Only a few of them are American, because Americans rarely make great movies about sex.
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A key figure in the New German Cinema movement, Wim Wenders is also an accomplished playwright, author, and photographer. His analytical essays, collected in volumes like Emotion Pictures: Reflections on Cinema and experimental documentaries such as Room 666, confirm Wenders’ status as a questing, medium-blurring artist. Wenders is in that sense an avant-garde icon. In time for the Museum of Modern Art’s exhaustive retrospective of his film work, we’ve compiled a series of quotes on art, process, and philosophy from like-minded boundary-leveling… Read More
Eight pages into reading Jenny Offill’s Dept. of Speculation last winter, still skeptical of the tiny, epigrammatic book, I came to a passage that halted me: “My plan was to never get married. I was going to be an art monster instead. Women almost never become art monsters because art monsters only concern themselves with art, never mundane things. Nabokov didn’t even fold his own umbrella. Vera licked his stamps for him.”
Months later, those short, simple sentences immobilize me every time I re-read them. The paragraph is a prelude to Offill’s narrator (a blocked writer known only as “the wife”) discovering that her husband is cheating. But it doesn’t need to be; even out of context, it resonates. Any woman artist who has chosen love or family over work, or fears she has, or even just fears she might one day, will find in this paragraph a mirror of her darkest thoughts.
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It’s that time of year again: the season of the holiday gift guide. And in keeping with tradition, if you’re looking for a present for that special cultural icon of yours (or just someone who reminds you of a certain famous face), Flavorwire has you covered. Here are our gift recommendations for some of the year’s biggest names in culture, whether they be naughty, nice, or lurking somewhere in… Read More
New German Cinema icon Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s affection for the outsider or lost soul is reflected throughout his filmography — perhaps most strikingly in his “romantic” oeuvre, where lovers obsess over and adore each other. The Film Society of Lincoln Center explores Fassbinder’s rejection of traditional roles in their Romantic Anarchist series, which runs until November 26. Inspired by the sweet suffering, alienation, and relationship identity crises of his characters (and the Film Society’s evocative series title), we’ve collected similar unconventional movies that highlight the strange and sometimes dark needs and passions of people in… Read More
It’s a commonplace that our lives are mediated through film and television and screens and everything else, but few writers acknowledge this condition by inverting it, by taking control of their mediation through fiction. It’s a relief, then, to come across Our Secret Life in the Movies, a collection of stories by Michael McGriff and J. M. Tyree (published this month by A Strange Object). The setup for the book: the two authors watch countless Criterion Collection films and immediately write two stories in response to each. Yet McGriff and Tyree avoid the hazards of the “clever little book” by virtue of the quality of their fictions, the range of the book’s emotional response, and, yes, the cinephilic nature of their story selections. It all makes for light yet serious and rewarding reading.
In the short stories below, McGriff and Tyree riff on Lars von Trier’s Antichrist, that film you either love to hate or hate to tirelessly defend. Enjoy.
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“There are elements of Goodbye to Language you might find in any Hollywood movie — people arguing, a shootout — and even a dog, the director’s own. (Roxy wanders the countryside [“conversing”] with the lake and the river that want to tell him what humans never hear.)” writes NPR of Jean-Luc Godard’s new film. The director’s “meditation on love and history, nature and meaning” will be playing at New York’s IFC Center until November 4.
“One of the reasons the dog Roxy is very prominent in the film … is that he’s trying to get people to look at the world in a kind of an unspoiled way,” critic David Bordwell stated of Godard’s animal companion. ”There are hints throughout the film that animal consciousness is kind of closer to the world than we are, that language sets up a barrier or filter or screen between us and what’s really there. And although the film is full of language, talk, printed text and so on, nevertheless I think there’s a sense he wants the viewer to scrape away a lot of the ordinary conceptions we have about how we communicate and look at the world afresh.”
Animal-centric films tend to fall into the absurd or terrible categories, especially those where the beasts talk or act as a foil for a human character’s inner world. But Godard’s latest demonstrates one way directors can make the concept of the animal id work. Here are eight others, ranked for your convenience.
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Celine Dion once famously said, “I’d like to dedicate this next song to all of the parents and all the children of the world” — to which a not-quite-as-famous YouTuber famously responded, “All the parents + all of the children of the world = fucking everybody.” Yes, one of the most fundamental facts of life is that everyone is a child and most people are eventually parents. It is the universality of these familial absolutes, perhaps, that makes “the fam” such good fuel for horror in film, even in films that wouldn’t necessarily be categorized as “horror.” In fact, there’s such a bounty of films depicting inter-family horrors that organizing a filmic family trauma reunion (aka listicle) seems quite a Freudian headache. For this reason, I’ve decided to break down the most stomach-churning family relationships onscreen into slightly more digestible… Read More
The Labor Day weekend doesn’t begin until end of day tomorrow, but c’mon, who’re we kidding — you’ve already checked out for the week, and it’s time to start making plans. And while we know some of you (shudder) sociable types will be heading out to lakes and barbeques and such destinations to enjoy the end of another summer, we’re catering (as usual) to the shut-ins, who’re taking the three day holiday weekend to catch up on some long-delayed nothing-doing. So here are a few of the recent(ish) additions to Netflix and Amazon Prime to add to your holiday weekend viewing lists; just click the title link to watch them right now.
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