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Daily Reads: Explaining Adam Sandler’s Netflix Deal, Why Female Celebrities Like Lena Dunham Face Special Scrutiny, and More

Daily Reads: Explaining Adam Sandler's Netflix Deal, Why Female Celebrities Like Lena Dunham Face Special Scrutiny, and More

Criticwire’s Daily Reads brings today’s essential
news stories and critical pieces to you.

1. Adam Sandler’s Netflix Deal. Netflix raised a lot of eyebrows in their latest move, a 4-film deal with Adam Sandler. Many were understandably annoyed that they’d team with Sandler after his long run of terrible, terrible movies, and were even more annoyed after Sandler’s joke that he made the deal because Netflix rhymes with “wet chicks.” What exactly does Netflix stand to gain? Vulture’s Josef Adalian investigates:

But as Netflix chief Ted Sarandos noted in a release announcing the deal, Sandler movies are the kinds his fans watch “again and again”— and repeatability is key for an on-demand service such as Netflix. It’s also easy to see Netflix marketing its Sandler films to families as a great value proposition: Instead of paying $60 taking the kids to see Grown Ups 2 at the local multiplex, you can just call up the latest wacky Sandler movie on the Netflix as part of your subscription fee. Read more.

2. Why Are Movies Still Afraid of the Internet? If you’re reading this, chances are you know that the internet is not a big bad boogeyman out to get you. Why, then, does Hollywood keep making movies about the horrors of the web like “Men, Women & Children?” Kate Erbland of ScreenCrush tries to suss it out:

It wasn’t always this way. When the Internet first started to become widespread and easy to access, a handful of films used it as part of their narrative to mostly charming ends. “You’ve Got Mail” was an early adopter, switching up the letter-writing used in the 1940 feature it was loosely based on, “The Shop Around the Corner,” for chat rooms and warmly written emails. Sure, Meg Ryan’s Kathleen Kelly was worried that the man on the other end of the buzzing modem wasn’t who he said he was, she was never concerned for her own safety. A chat room wasn’t going to destroy her life any more than a regular old broken heart would. The Internet was just another way to pursue love and connection, not a fast track to destruction. Read more.

3. The One Person Responsible for Your Favorite TV Episodes. Lesli Linka Glatter might not be a household name, but she’s directed so many great episodes of so many great shows that it’s likely she’s responsible for at least one of your favorites. The Huffington Post’s Lily Karlin lists some of Glatter’s best.

“Freaks and Geeks” – “Kim Kelly Is My Friend.” Arguably the darkest episode of the series, “Kim Kelly Is My Friend,” written by Mike White (“Enlightened”) was such a departure from traditional network TV shows of the time that NBC initially refused to air it. The episode delves into the world of Kim Kelly, giving perspective into a family much different than Lindsay’s — cookie-cutter, upper-middle class — and those usually depicted on network TV shows. Though the episode importantly contextualizes Kim’s character and explains a transition in her relationship with Lindsay, it was left out of the original season and released for the first time the next year on Fox Family Channel. Years later (at a time when it is usually viewed in proper order on DVD or on Netflix) the episode is remembered as one of the series’ most notable. Read more.

4. 10 Great Movies in Other Great Movies. It’s common for directors to show their influences in their movies (see: the “Out of Sight” characters talking about “Three Days of the Condor,”) but sometimes filmmakers can’t resist including scenes from some of their favorites. Jason Bailey of Flavorwire put together a list of great movies that include scenes of characters watching other great movies, from “The Searchers” in “Mean Streets” to “Halloween” in “Scream.”

“The Evil Dead” in “A Nightmare On Elm Street.” “Scream” wasn’t the first time Craven tipped his hat to his horror-master brethren. In the original “Nightmare on Elm Street,” heroine Nancy Thompson (Heather Langenkamp) tries desperately to stay awake by watching her bedroom television — specifically, Sam Raimi’s original horror fave. By throwing in a lengthy clip of the cult favorite, Craven was displaying the horror hipness of his characters, as well as himself; he also got the movie in front of some new eyeballs, since “Nightmare” grossed about ten times what “Evil Dead” had. Raimi was so flattered by the shout-out that he returned the favor in “Evil Dead II,” borrowing Freddy’s glove to use as a prop in the cabin basement. Read more.

5. “Nymphomaniac” and the Follies of Interpretation. The director’s cut of Lars von Trier’s “Nymphomaniac” just hit VOD and theaters, promising more discomfort and more punishment. Many have looked at the film as a sort of autobiography of von Trier doing bad things and critics trying to jump through hoops to justify them, but Peter Labuza sees it another way. It’s less autobiography, more “a statement of artistic principles.”

Sigelman thinks he can contain Joe’s story and deny the own artist’s interpretation, while Joe continually re-asserts, “you’re not even listening.” Sigelman’s perfected virginity in ways provides the perfect Straw Man for Von Trier’s Joe, and not in a bad way—he can’t get off on the material, and thus Joe’s critic does not even respond to the basic level in a way Von Trier sees necessary. Like many of his “New Extremism” contemporaries (Noe, Dumont, Haneke), part of responding to a Von Trier film is the fact that one must either feel pleasure or pain, and it is in responding to that bodily function that one finds meaning. This is what makes “Nymphomaniac” most compelling—what happens when we remove the body from cinema? Read more.

6. Lena Dunham and the Burden of Female Celebrity. Lena Dunham has inspired as much derision as she has acclaim, but it’s notable that she’s one of the few women her age to have broken through as a writer/director/actress. In fact, that might actually be part of the reason she’s put under so much scrutiny. Rebecca Traister of the New Republic explains:

Well, because Dunham has also been under far more reasonable scrutiny for the limits of her artistic vision, for the whiteness and privilege of the world in which she was raised and which she has now created through her work. She cannot be an un-fraught heroine because we have all been made very aware of who’s not included in her slightly radical revisioning of contemporary female life, in which approval from and dependence on men is not an imperative. The critical conversations around Dunham, “Girls” and race have been instructive and valuable, they have challenged her in ways that she’s acknowledged. The fact that those critiques can and do interfere with an appreciation of her show or her writing is fair. But what’s unfair is that related critiques seem not to be applied with nearly as much zeal to the overwhelmingly white (and far more male) Sunday morning news programs, CBS’s primetime line-up, the opinion pages of The New York Times or to, say, Congress. Read more.

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