Author Topic: In the New Yorker...  (Read 502887 times)

Offline serious crayons

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Re: In the New Yorker...
« Reply #810 on: January 16, 2014, 04:54:25 pm »
John Lahr is Bert Lahr's son!

Hardly important, but I found it interesting to learn that apparently her name is supposed to be pronounced the proper German way, with a long "i." I've always heard people (mis)pronounce it with a long "e."

(Meanwhile, I thought everybody who read The New Yorker knew that John Lahr was the son of Bert; he's written about his father from time to time.)

 :-X What can I say? I don't read the theater reviews. Maybe I actually did know that at one time, but today at least I clearly should have read further into the Wikipedia page.


I highly recommend Anthony Lane's 2002 book Nobody's Perfect, a collection of film reviews and other related essays.  He has a delightfully wicked sense of humor.

Yes, the film reviews are often the first thing I read -- when Anthony Lane writes. When it's David Denby, I often skip them, even if I'm interested in the movie!

I remember him reviewing a Tom Cruise movie and prefacing some praise of Cruise by saying something like, "My bedroom walls aren't exactly shrouded in Tom Cruise posters, but ..."



Offline southendmd

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Re: In the New Yorker...
« Reply #811 on: January 16, 2014, 06:51:04 pm »
I think my favorite Lane review is of "Contact": 

On a broiling day, I ran to a screening of Contact, the Jodie Foster flick about messages from another galaxy. I made it for the opening credits, and, panting heavily — which, with all due respect, is not something that I find myself doing that often in Jodie Foster films — I started taking notes. These went "v. gloomy," "odd noir look for sci-fi," "creepy shadows in outdoor scene," and so on. Only after three-quarters of an hour did I remember to remove my dark glasses.
...
She (Jodie Foster) does get laid in the film, but only by Matthew McConaughey, and that doesn't count.


Offline serious crayons

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Re: In the New Yorker...
« Reply #812 on: January 16, 2014, 07:30:57 pm »
She (Jodie Foster) does get laid in the film, but only by Matthew McConaughey, and that doesn't count.

Anthony Lane is brilliant, but I would beg to differ with him about this.

Another favorite memory involving Anthony Lane -- he loved Speed! Or so I recall.



Offline southendmd

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Re: In the New Yorker...
« Reply #813 on: January 16, 2014, 07:44:39 pm »
Another favorite memory involving Anthony Lane -- he loved Speed! Or so I recall.

Yes, he did.  He even liked Titanic.   :P :-X

One of the reasons I like him so much is that his reviews describe the experience of seeing the particular film.

Offline serious crayons

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Re: In the New Yorker...
« Reply #814 on: January 17, 2014, 11:47:02 am »
Seriously, the walls of my bedroom are not shrouded with Matthew McConaughey posters (there's no space between the Christian Bales), but this article from the New Yorker website captures exactly why I find him interesting lately. I love middle-aged self-reinventions.

Oh, and for those of you with HBO, I highly recommend True Detective, starring McConaughey and Woody Harrelson. It just started last Sunday and is intriguing so far.

http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/culture/2014/01/the-mcconaissance.html?utm_source=tny&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=dailyemail&mbid=nl_Daily%20%2899%29

January 16, 2014
The McConaissance
Posted by Rachel Syme


This morning, Matthew McConaughey woke up to his first Oscar nomination. There’s no denying the McConaissance now, a bold second act in the American actor’s life which somehow feels as novel as it does deliberate. McConaughey’s return to the Hollywood firmament in the past two years has had an unusually organic quality to it, in that critics and audiences alike have quickly made room for his new oddball intensity and his desire to make interesting choices again after a decade of just livin’ and relying on his dimples and his baritone drawl.

Like everything else he does, McConaughey makes coming back look easy. It isn’t usually this way. Most actresses, after spending a decade in the romantic-comedy trenches in unchallenging movies buttered with cliché, do not get to return to the Hollywood winners’ circle. (Sandra Bullock is a notable exception—maybe the magic is in Texas.) Most actors who disappear for ten years and want to shine again must prove that they’ve been to Hell and back (see: Robert Downey, Jr., and Mickey Rourke). Their awards are a sobriety chip; the serious acting is a kind of thirteenth step of rehabilitation. McConaughey seems unfazed by his return, cool and buoyant and fully aware of where he’s been. In a sauntering speech at the Golden Globes, he winked at his iconic role in “Dazed and Confused,” his openness to the press about his lost, naked bongo years, and his unabashed and well-documented desire to “unbrand” himself and start anew. For years, McConaughey embodied complacency; he was an actor who bought too heavily into his own allure and therefore stalled out early on. The fact that he has been able to unravel that perception in a few roles shows how wrong we were. And it takes an actor who’s keenly aware of his own mythology to play games with his audience, to slash through his own persona with glee and abandon.

The McConaughey that we are getting now is casually weird and much darker than expected. He seems unshackled after decades of trying to be a matinée idol, an affable, guileless human glass of sweet tea. McConaughey has always used his body as an instrument, exuding sexuality in his work—in 1996, a review of “A Time to Kill” practically panted from the pages of the Times, with phrases like “Adonis factor” and “a profile that belongs on a coin”—but now his take on his own eroticism has turned sour, and his sensuality has become a weapon rather than a crutch. Consider his role in “Dallas Buyers Club,” for which he lost forty-five pounds and took on the look of a gangly bobblehead (standard Hollywood penance for a career resurrection). McConaughey was cast as a straight man named Ron Woodroof, who is given a diagnosis of AIDS in the early days of the epidemic and who goes on to become a kingpin distributor of unapproved remedies. In the film, Woodroof is gravely undone by his own sexuality. McConaughey plays Woodroof as virile and cocky, even while he is emaciated, with sunken cheekbones, and covered with sarcomas. Woodroof has paid the price for careless sex, and McConaughey offers his own sexuality as broad and unprotected. He somehow manages to swagger while looking gaunt as a whippet.

Or take “Magic Mike,” the film that kick-started McConaughey’s return. Everything that he had been mocked for—his well-documented love of shirtlessness, his moony love of the ladies, his chest-puffing, blustering self-regard—came together to make a tragic figure, one who flaunts these talents for dollar bills in a tawdry night club. What the McConaissance is about—if it is really about anything—is the clever (and purposeful) undoing of a mythos and the embrace of a more authentic McConaughey, even if that reveals something grimy and sad beneath the creamy Texas accent. It’s also about upholding that past self and twisting it into new combinations. In his small cameo in “The Wolf of Wall Street,” McConaughey, still rail thin, electrifies the film with a five-minute meditation on hedonism and underachievement. He convinces the bushy-tailed broker played by Leonardo DiCaprio that the stock-trading business is simply boys playing games with funny money, trying to walk taller than they are and possess the air. It is easy to apply this pep talk to Hollywood, that ethereal land of money-scented breezes, the ultimate fugazi for the hopeful and the lucky. After “A Time to Kill” came out, McConaughey became famous overnight. The entire country seemed to know the name of his dog (Miss Hud). He has spoken about feeling everyone in every place squeezing in on him, that old byproduct of instant stardom. “The world became a mirror very quickly,” he said in one interview. “Over the weekend, there were more mirrors in the world everywhere.” Mirrors can be fun, of course, when you look like McConaughey. But, after a while, too many can seem like a fun house.

When we think of the “lost” years that came after the heralded ones, the terrible, forgettable films (“Sahara,” “Fool’s Gold,” “The Wedding Planner”), we think of underachievement, dashed potential, and, worse yet, an actor recognizing the limits of his own ability and slowing to a resting heart rate. We felt the kind of disappointment that comes with the promise of a new Paul Newman or Steve McQueen melting into flabby, lucrative resignation. But McConaughey’s resurgence shows us that he was always a good actor; the ability was there. The years he lost now look like an active squandering of his position, a deliberate choice to be famous and handsome and wealthy without trying too hard, to reap the benefits of the indulgent side of fame. But even the most exotic tropical vacations grow wearysome, and McConaughey eventually decided, as we all must do, to get back to work. The starmaking machine loves nothing more than swallowing up its young stars, sometimes unspooling them completely (see: Shia LaBeouf). McConaughey’s lost years now look curiously like self-protection, a recharging of the batteries for a more dangerous late swell of desire. When he beats his chest with a primal grunt in “The Wolf of Wall Street”—an ad-lib originating in McConaughey’s pre-scene warmup exercise—he’s reconnecting with what’s weird and strange and sad about his embodiment of down-home American masculinity.

Though “A Time to Kill” made him a movie star, the younger McConaughey was really at his best in his first film, “Dazed and Confused,” from 1993. Languid, with a mop of blond hair and a slippery mustache, wearing tight salmon-colored pants and a white T-shirt with one sleeve rolled up to hold a pack of cigarettes, he was twenty-three and just getting started. His character, Wooderson, sleazy mustache and all, is a distillation of the raw material that is now being put to use. Some actors overcome their first roles, others never live up to them again. McConaughey seems to have fused with his: Wooderson was stuck in viscid, small-town adolescence, lascivious and joyful and going nowhere in a hurry, the Peter Pan of the prairie who was also a wise man. Whereas Ben Affleck (another actor who has managed to claw his way back from years stuck in the ether), as the other older hanger-on in the film, the raging meathead O’Bannion, channelled violence and vitriol into his lost youth, McConaughey exuded a calm acceptance of his slow pace and of the sense that everything was and would always be all right. He gives a group of angst-ridden teens some sage advice at the film’s end, staring down the length of a football field: “The older you get, the more rules they’re gonna try to get you to follow. You just gotta keep livin’, man, L-I-V-I-N.”

These words were also McConaughey’s own—a mantra he repeated to himself to deal with the death of his father, which happened just days into shooting—and they were clairvoyant. He named his foundation for at-risk youth Just Keep Livin’, but the words themselves (so blithe as to lack any real meaning) go beyond that when applied to his career. What moviegoers enjoy even more than an arc of redemption after a dramatic fall is a surge of energy after a period of prodigal wastefulness. McConaughey’s recent trajectory—which just keeps going (the excellent, eerie “True Detective” is on HBO now, and soon he will anchor a Christopher Nolan blockbuster)—is a joy to watch. McConaughey seems to be tapping into something essential, remaining himself while stretching, getting older while staying the same age.



« Last Edit: January 17, 2014, 07:53:50 pm by serious crayons »

Offline southendmd

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Re: In the New Yorker...
« Reply #815 on: January 18, 2014, 06:57:18 pm »
Well, the walls of my bedroom aren't exactly shrouded with Anthony Lane posters, LOL.  But his Contact snark was way before the McConaissance:  it was 1997.  Lane found casting MM as a philosopher/theologian rather laughable. 

Offline serious crayons

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Re: In the New Yorker...
« Reply #816 on: January 19, 2014, 11:39:36 am »
But his Contact snark was way before the McConaissance:  it was 1997.  Lane found casting MM as a philosopher/theologian rather laughable. 

Right. But who's laughing all the way to the Oscars now?

I sometimes detect a bit of snark among straight male critics toward extremely good looking actors, a hint that the actors are lightweights whether or not their performance deserves it. Another example: Bradley Cooper has been good in every movie I've ever seen him in. But in reviews he's often sort of shrugged off or ignored, getting far less praise than his costars (e.g., Jennifer Lawrence).

That said, I myself get impatient when I see supermodelish starlets cast as geophysicists and the like. Maybe that's a similar reaction. Except that those starlets' main purpose for filling those roles seems to be eye candy, which wasn't really the function of MM in Contact, as I recall.



Offline Jeff Wrangler

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Re: In the New Yorker...
« Reply #817 on: January 26, 2014, 03:19:19 pm »
I was reading Ben McGrath's article on soccer in Brazil (Jan. 13). I thought it would be interesting, and it was, to a point, but the article was just too long, and I gave up about five pages from the end.

"It has too many notes words. ..."
"It is required of every man that the spirit within him should walk abroad among his fellow-men, and travel far and wide."--Charles Dickens.

Offline Jeff Wrangler

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Re: In the New Yorker...
« Reply #818 on: January 30, 2014, 02:42:23 pm »
I'm now reading David Remnick's article about the President (Jan. 27). I know this reveals my own shallowness, but I liked the description of the presidential limo, and the breakfast menu on Air Force One.  ;D

On the other hand, as somebody who used to write history for a living, I'm tickled to learn that the President has dinners with historians.  :D

And I loved what Robert Caro, the biographer of LBJ, had to say: "No matter what the problems with the rollout of Obamacare, it's a major advance in the history of social justice to provide access to health care for thirty-one million people."
"It is required of every man that the spirit within him should walk abroad among his fellow-men, and travel far and wide."--Charles Dickens.

Offline Jeff Wrangler

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Re: In the New Yorker...
« Reply #819 on: February 01, 2014, 02:25:06 pm »
As soon as I saw an article by Patricia Marx about traveling on a cargo ship (Feb. 3) I sat right down and read it.  :laugh:

It's ... OK.  :-\ Turned out to be not as long or, frankly, as funny as I might have expected from Marx, but it's still ... OK. And interesting to me that she sailed from the port of Philadelphia instead of from somewhere in the New York region.
"It is required of every man that the spirit within him should walk abroad among his fellow-men, and travel far and wide."--Charles Dickens.