1. Christopher Nolan’s Hymn to Human Connection. “Interstellar” has finally played for critics, and while praise is qualified, it’s also largely enthusiastic. It’s already inspired a stellar think-piece, too. Writing for Intelligent Life, Tom Shone calls the film Christopher Nolan’s “most boldly open-hearted, a hymn to human connection.”
Nolan has thought through his moral universe. Up here, time is as much of a resource as space and fuel, a fact with radical implications for human behavior and motivation. In an ordinary Hollywood movie, the desire to see your daughter and the desire to save the planet would be one and the same. But what if you had to choose? Nolan uses relativity to drive a stake right through the heart of evolutionary theory: what if one man, protecting his nest, doomed the species? Read more.
2. Christopher Nolan’s Dead Wife Problem. That said, Nolan isn’t a filmmaker without his flaws, and some have noticed his habit of using movie wives as a way to inspire grief in his male protagonists than as characters unto themselves. Alison Willmore of BuzzFeed listed 14 movie wives who died to make drama for their movie husbands, with three Nolan films listed.
Uber-Dead Wife, Mal, haunts “Inception” as its antagonist, its guilty conscience, and its primary victim. In his second spousal appearance on this list, Leonardo DiCaprio plays Dom Cobb, master manipulator of dreams and grieving widower. He feels responsible for Mal’s death, which is why she’s become a self-defeating specter, showing up as a ghost from his subconscious to sabotage his work. Always looking perfect, Mal is another figure who exists mainly in memory in the film, and distorted memory at that — whatever the real Mal was like, the version that torments Cobb is more a reflection of his own feelings of regret rather than her actual existence. Read more.
3. The Jazz in “Whiplash.” Plenty of writers have criticized “Whiplash” for its depiction of musical genius, but now you can add a musician to their ranks. Writing for The Talkhouse, drummer Kid Millions of Oneida and Man Forever wrote about what the film gets wrong.
Music is not about trying to be the greatest musician who ever lived. It’s not about idealizing a friendless, obsessive, tortured existence for something as abstracted and devoid of joy as competition. It’s about playing music with people — finding a community and truly connecting with other people. Yes, some of that path requires that you spend a lot of time by yourself, practicing. But the goal is never to be Charlie Parker or “one of the greats.” That’s some sophomoric academy shit. Read more.
4. The Ultimate Act of Hope on “The Walking Dead.” AMC’s “The Walking Dead” is known for its grimness, and Sunday’s episode featured a slaughter that was as violent as anything in the show’s history. Yet bloggers Tom and Lorenzo found the moment strangely hopeful.
But strangely enough, as gruesome as that slaughter was, it doesn’t strike us as a bleak or even a dark moment. Because if it was all over and life was only going to be an endless, grinding struggle for survival, why would you care about anyone else [name] might potentially kill if you leave him alive? To kill these cannibals is to say that the world is worth better than this; that people should have a shot of survival without becoming monsters; that the world has a chance to become something other than an abbatoir. Read more.
5. The Field Guide to Keanu Reeves’ Facial Expressions. Keanu Reeves’ new film “John Wick” doesn’t ask him to emote much, but does he ever? Republishing a list from 2008, Slate’s Dan Kois ranked Reeves’ facial expressions from non-expressive to slightly more expressive.
Year Depicted: 2013
Habitat: “47 Ronin ”
Field Notes: Keanu is being flogged in the ass by four samurai.
Kean-u-meter: 3. Read more.