Summary of “A Good Man, and Thorough: The Genius of ‘The Big Lebowski'”

In the published screenplay for The Big Lebowski, a character named “The Dude” is introduced in the stage directions as “a man in whom casualness runs deep.” Of all the Coens’ movies, The Big Lebowski is, at least on the surface, the most ambling and aimless.
The Big Lebowski was released in 1998, after the success of Fargo had rerouted the Coens’ career.
The claim made by The Stranger that Jeffrey Lebowski is “Possibly the laziest man in Los Angeles County … which would place him high in the running for laziest worldwide” is backed up by Bridges’s soporific comportment, which suggests a character hypnotized by his own passivity-a waking trance state that leads him to subconsciously absorb information from the world around him.
After being roughed up at his squalid pit of an apartment by thugs who’ve mistaken him for a different, considerably more prosperous man with the same name-who pee on his rug to make the humiliation complete-The Dude goes to the other Jeffrey Lebowski for compensation and, after being rebuffed, tells him that “This aggression will not stand.” In lieu of any strongly held beliefs, The Dude is wide open to suggestion, and hearing saber-rattling Republican platitudes being parroted by an aged hippie is the pivot point of The Big Lebowski’s 360-degree sociological satire.
Then there’s the Big Lebowski himself, acted by the late David Huddleston as a physical and ideological double for Dick Cheney, who proudly displays photos of himself with a host of Republican power brokers.
By rejecting The Dude’s request for a new rug to replace the soiled one, the Big Lebowski claims to be standing for conservative notions of self-reliance.
It’s a ridiculous oversimplification to call The Big Lebowski a movie about a man who wants to replace his rug.
The Big Lebowski is a film dominated by circular, reiterative dialogue, and The Dude isn’t the only one who absorbs and parrots key phrases from the people around him.

The orginal article.

Summary of “The Realistic Magic of Hal Ashby, the Greatest Director of the 1970s”

More so because Ashby had a way of making his movies about weighty ideals and real-seeming people, neither of which have aged much in the past 40 or so years.
Of Ashby, Jack Nicholson once said that when friends referred to him, it’s “Like we’re writing a recommendation for a college scholarship.” When Ashby won the Oscar for Best Editing, he delivered one of the shortest and most precise speeches in the ceremony’s history: “To repeat the words of a very dear friend of mine last year when he picked up his Oscar, I only hope that we can use all of our talents and creativity toward peace and love. Thank you.” He walked off the stage without another word.
I realized through more research that the mythology about Hal Ashby being this burnout hippie wastoid that couldn’t do anything was just not accurate.
The director Norman Jewison adopted Hal Ashby as a kind of mentee and became a father figure to the hardworking but nomadic Southwestern refugee.
The Ashby we talk about now was a late-blooming creative talent who spent the first 34 years of his life slowly nosing his way into the upper echelon of the movies.
No matter the genre-lace-curtain thriller or Cold War satire, social-issues drama or sleek caper-Jewison and Ashby pushed the style and structure of movies, toying with jump cuts, pans, close-ups, insert shots, and particularly multiframe formats that would subtly reinvent the visual language of Hollywood movies.
Shampoo is the second Ashby film made from a Robert Towne script, after The Last Detail, and you can feel the director locking into the deep, idiosyncratic material.
Ashby was the original director chosen for Tootsie, getting so far as to shoot screen tests with Dustin Hoffman in character and costume.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Movie madness: Why Chinese cinemas are empty but full”

Chinese film critic and industry observer Raymond Zhou has been digging into the darker side of film financing in his country.
If these publicly available figures appear to show that a film is doing well, people will buy shares in the companies which paid for the movie.
So a film might be on in the cinema and one of the companies which paid for it might buy out entire late night screenings.
You might wonder, if box office manipulation has been a broad problem within the Chinese film industry, if it’s still worthwhile financially.
“They can manipulate the number of screenings in their own cinemas. Often times the third party ticketing apps also have their hands in the promotion of the films so they can push a film that they have an interest in; that they have invested in themselves.”
In effect, a company – or connected companies – can distribute the film, have ownership of the theatres and then maybe also involve those selling the tickets.
Some films are also suspected of being used as a method of getting around China’s laws designed to restrict capital flight.
There still seems to be no move to break up the vested interests in Chinese movie making, which many analysts believe will continue to pump out poor quality fare as long as there is money to be made – irrespective of how many actually people go to see the film.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Where Does James Bond Go From Here?”

So goes another turbulent spell for the storied franchise, which is only three years removed from its star, Daniel Craig, saying he’d “Rather slash [his] wrists” than do another Bond film.
To wit: Boyle wanted to work on his own script for Bond 25 with John Hodge, despite the fact that Neal Purvis and Robert Wade-who’d written all of Craig’s previous Bond films-had already been tasked with penning a draft.
While the search is undoubtedly underway for a new director to helm Craig’s final Bond film-Twitter’s got some solid suggestions-the latest shakeup reaffirms what’s become increasingly clear: James Bond is in desperate need of a fresh start.
The good news is that turnover is nothing new to James Bond, a franchise that has spanned six decades, 24 films, and seven different leads.
Whether it’s the suave, Mad Men-esque vibe of Sean Connery’s initial films from the ’60s, the campy, sci-fi influences that dotted Roger Moore’s ’70s installments, or the Cold War-era thrillers of Timothy Dalton’s turns in the ’80s, the Bond films are excellent blueprints for the evolution of Hollywood.
It’s been six years since Skyfall, the last good Bond film, and in a Hollywood era when comic books and other gigantic IP reign supreme, six years is a long time to be irrelevant.
Bond might feel stale in comparison with these movies, but they’re of the same ilk, proof of a hungry audience-and Bond go can from stale to fresh quicker than any franchise.
Wherever James Bond goes next, it needs to be exciting, to feel new-lest it fade into obscurity.

The orginal article.

Summary of “How Dare You Represent Your People That Way: The Oral History of ‘Better Luck Tomorrow'”

Nearly two decades ago, Justin Lin had a bold idea: What if he made a movie about Asian-Americans?
“I didn’t want to make an Asian-American film. I wanted to make a movie about Asian-American characters.”
“I grew up wanting to be Robert De Niro, not some good Asian boy next door.”
“Asian-Americans, in the hierarchy of race, never quite made it to the top. We always get pushed over for some reason.”
“In some ways, it’s harder to make a film that matters than it is to make a good film. Better Luck Tomorrow mattered.”

The orginal article.

Summary of “In the Year of ‘Black Panther,’ the Oscars Are in Panic Mode. Should They Be?”

Last year’s matchup between The Shape of Water and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri-two movies vanishing from the popular imagination faster than Harvey Weinstein-overwhelmed the significantly more popular and memorable achievements of Get Out and Dunkirk.
The reaction to the news among the Oscar monitors was swift: What fresh hell is this? The vagueness and intellectual bankruptcy of the Academy’s idea has been upbraided by virtually every pundit and movie observer around, from Mark Harris to, well, Rob Lowe.
Movies, in their essence, are a popular medium, designed to draw crowds at great volume.
Now, nothing’s a lock in the Oscars, and certainly not a superhero movie with a third act that culminates in a goofy CGI punching match.
Still, the marketing and campaign dollars that Disney will supply combined with the social representational forces that will form around the movie as awards season approaches make it a highly likely entrant.
We could examine what the “Popular” category might look like-and I will below, sort of-but what’s most interesting about this turn of events is that Black Panther was literally the only film we’ve seen this year that seems remotely certain to be recognized in the major categories at the ceremony in February.
Ask someone on the street whether they like Solo more than any of those movies.
A race among three Marvel movies, a Fox movie, and a Pixar movie isn’t a race.

The orginal article.

Summary of “These are the best movies of the 2000s”

As the film world prepares to leave the childish things of summer behind and welcome the more serious, artistically ambitious movies of festival and awards season, it’s an opportune moment to consider the Canon: that list of revered films that helped form cinematic language, broke it open, captured not only their own zeitgeist but proved wisely prescient, and have stood the test of history to remain mini-master classes in aesthetics, technique, grammar and taste.
For the most part, the Canon has remained an unchanged list of cinema’s most revered titles; the last time it was even slightly upset was in 2012, when the respected film journal Sight & Sound announced that its Greatest Films of All Time poll of programmers, film professionals and academics had put Alfred Hitchcock’s 1958 fever dream “Vertigo” at the top of the list, upending longtime pride-of-place holder “Citizen Kane.”.
If the bias toward older films is understandable – it’s only in the fullness of time that we understand what possesses enduring artistic value and meaning that transcends its precise cultural moment – it gives short shrift to movies that, despite their youth, could take their place among their forebears with confidence.
Although Lee never commented on the tragedy directly in the film, it suffused the film’s mood of numbed resignation.
The coming-of-age tale is a reliable genre precisely because of its reassuring linearity; the idea of discovering it anew is ludicrous, which is probably why Richard Linklater attempted to do it, filming the same boy over 12 years – along with Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke as his parents – and then working with longtime editor Sandra Adair to sew the resulting assortment of moments together into a seamlessly flowing depiction of time at its most inexorable, corrosive and liberating.
Even at their best-intentioned and highest execution, films aspiring to dramatize the Holocaust evoke queasiness almost by definition, with the act of bearing witness and preserving memory almost always at odds with questions of aestheticizing sadism and suffering, or reducing them to spectacle.
Filmed in a squared-off aspect ratio that accentuated the protagonist’s entrapment, Nemes called upon viewers to fill in the blanks of the unspeakable acts around them, making us collaborators in his own moral imagination.
In the 1990s, Errol Morris revolutionized documentary filmmaking with his use of narrative film technique, including reenactments and stylized speculative scene-making.

The orginal article.

Summary of “I watched Nicolas Cage movies for 14 hours straight, and I’m sold”

What kind of masochists would attend an all-night Nicolas Cage movie marathon? What kind of sadists would program seven of his films in a row? If one wants to observe the famously extravagant American actor for 14 hours straight, why not do it from the comfort of your own home?
Any casual observer can see that Cage is entertaining, charismatic and wildly flamboyant, but what is it about the 54-year-old performer that deserves seven movies, played back-to-back?
Five years ago, in a Reddit AMA, Ethan Hawke described Cage as “The only actor since Marlon Brando that’s actually done anything new with the art”, by taking audiences “Away from an obsession with naturalism into a kind of presentation style of acting that I imagine was popular with the old troubadours.”
Covered in blood and dressed in briefs and a shirt, Cage gulps vodka straight from the bottle and pours it over a gaping wound.
Advertised as a 12-hour event, the schedule – which includes short breaks and a dozen or so trailers for Cage’s lesser-known works – has blown out to 14.
Cage is usually interesting even when his films are not.
When I leave the Cage-a-Thon, dimly remembering a time when I watched movies that didn’t star Nicolas Cage, I resolve to never ever attend another movie marathon.
If it’s another one with Nic Cage movies, I’ll think about it.

The orginal article.

Summary of “What the Oscars’ New “Popular Film” Category Says About the Art-and Business-of the Movies”

The gap between the art and the business of movies is larger than ever, and the planned changes to the Oscars announced today by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences look like a desperate response to that chasm.
The Academy plans to move the airdate of the ceremony up to early February, to shrink the telecast to three hours in order to offer “a more accessible Oscars for our viewers worldwide,” and to create a new category “For outstanding achievement in popular film.”
Their over-all effect suggests a reaction to a much greater problem facing Hollywood: its increasing irrelevance to the art of the movies.
What’s more, in worldwide receipts-where Hollywood’s big-budget films now make a majority of their money-most of these films fell still lower in the charts, because culturally specific, locally anchored movies don’t travel as readily as ones made from preĆ«xisting fantasy sources.
When a new generation of filmmakers, richly educated in the most extreme trends of the art of the cinema thanks to the availability of VHS tapes and DVDs, brought forth movies of a new, original sensibility, they found themselves increasingly confined by the commercial demands of studio budgets and studio producers.
It’s no accident that the very notion of the Oscar campaign, of the high-powered behind-the-scenes exertion for awards, is the brainchild of Harvey Weinstein, an independent producer with Miramax who leveraged awards to vault his films and his company to a level of importance in Hollywood commensurate with that of the studios.
Because of this very commercial significance of awards for commercially minor films, the Academy’s decision to create a new award for “Popular films” is more than absurd and desperate: it’s rankly offensive.
The new category appears to be a play by the studios to siphon off some of the commercial benefits of the awards-to redistribute Oscar-related money upward from independent producers to the studios, from productions costing and yielding tens of millions to ones costing and yielding hundreds of millions.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Marlon Brando, on Location”

“Every time you turn around, some Japanese is giving you a present. They’re crazy about giving presents,” Brando observed.
“Give me a ring around then,” Brando said, finally.
Murray, as I knew, was only one member of what some of the “Sayonara” company referred to as “Brando’s gang.” Aside from the literary assistant, the gang consisted of Marlon Brando, Sr., who acts as his son’s business manager; a pretty, dark-haired secretary, Miss Levin; and Brando’s private makeup man.
The year of that meeting was 1947; it was a winter afternoon in New York, when I had occasion to attend a rehearsal of Tennessee Williams’ “A Streetcar Named Desire,” in which Brando was to play the role of Stanley Kowalski.
He’d come to reclaim the “Gift” packages of candy and rice cakes that Brando had already opened and avidly sampled.
“Ah, Missa Marron Brando, it is a missake. They were meant for derivery in another room. Aporogies! Aporogies!” Laughing, Brando handed the boxes over.
One of the most memorable film scenes Brando has played occurs in the Kazan-directed “On the Waterfront;” it is the car-ride scene in which Rod Steiger, as the racketeering brother, confesses he is leading Brando into a death trap.
Many years later, Stella Adler, Brando’s former drama coach, described Mrs. Brando, who died in 1954, as “a very beautiful, a heavenly, lost, girlish creature.” Always, wherever she lived, Mrs. Brando had played leads in the productions of local dramatic societies, and always she had longed for a more brightly footlighted world than her surroundings provided.

The orginal article.