August 1, 2014
The World That I See: Reads and Listens #24
One of the driving forces behind this blog is the use of our library system here in St. Louis. I’m writing this piece from the reference area of the branch that’s just a short walk from my work. The hold shelf had five requested DVDs waiting for me, and it’s hard to complain about such an easy way to access movies and books. I’m amazed when I talk to adults that haven’t visited a library in many years. It’s easy to get into a habit of buying books and renting movies without realizing there’s such a valuable local resource. What made me think of this topic is the personal story “How the Public Library Turned Me into a Reader” by Claire Fallon at the Huffington Post. She was a “library brat” who would come home with loads of books after each visit, and I remember similar experiences from my childhood. I’m trying to do the same my daughters, and we’re definitely on the right track so far.
Here are some other interesting blogs and podcasts that are definitely worth your time:
Stalwart indie director Joe Swanberg has found more success recently with films like Drinking Buddies, but it’s hardly a profitable life to work in this realm. His interview at Filmmaker with Esther B. Robinson delves into the challenges in even making a living as an indie filmmaker. It’s an honest look at why it’s so difficult to get movies made apart from the studios. Video on demand is helping the cause, but there’s still a long way to go before guys like Swanberg can get out of debt and live more comfortably.
Despite some minor advances for actresses in getting prominent roles, it’s still quite challenging especially if they want to break the mold. Zoe Saldana spoke to The Telegraph about being considered “old” at 36 and being unwilling to take generic roles in Hollywood. Her candor at the continued hypocrisy in the business, especially when it comes to actresses, is surprisingly refreshing. I’m hoping this approach will lead her into more interesting roles beyond the blockbuster sphere. Her mindset could make things tricky at times with old-school executives, but I expect it’s going to lead to great things.
There was a big event in San Diego recently, and I’m guessing a few people have heard of it. Kate Kulzick from The Televerse podcast took another trip to the San Diego Comic-Con this year and was joined by her sister Maggie. Their recap for the latest episode provides great details on what it’s like to visit the festival, which has become so gigantic. Kate also scored interviews with some prominent folks in the TV world, and she talks with Hannibal composer Brian Retzell this week. I haven’t been keeping up with a lot of the summer TV shows, but it’s still always cool to check out The Televerse.
I don't check out video essays about film nearly as much as I should, and that's a real shame. A recent example that shows how great they can be is the gorgeous look at Richard Linklater's cinematography from Nelson Carvajal at Press Play. It reminds me of just how many amazing films Linklater has made during the past few decades, and this beautiful tribute is a must-see for fans of his work.
I'm constantly thinking about what makes a film critic and how the role has changed in recent years. In connection with the release of Life Itself on KCRW, Matt Holzman talks with many critics about this job and how it works in the age of Rotten Tomatoes. It's only eight minutes long but includes some interesting perspectives from voices like Karina Longworth and Kenneth Turan on the topic.
Lucy was the big winner at the box office last weekend, though reviews were mixed. I haven’t seen it but get the sense that some audiences weren’t sure what to think. Luc Besson helps with a basic summary in the script that outlines how the film is organized. Sam Adams at Criticwire has posted it (via The Film Stage) and offered a brief glimpse into Besson’s mind. Here’s an excerpt from his note about the way to understand Lucy:
“I have come up with a simplified summary, therefore, like a reader’s guide, which will conjure up the images in as few words as possible:
- The beginning is Leon the Professional
- The middle is Inception
- The end is 2001: A Space Odyssey”
Given this description, how could the movie go wrong?