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Daily Reads: ‘Say Anything’ and Pop Culture’s Obsession With Closure, The Genius of ‘Gone Girl’s’ Nude Scenes and More

Daily Reads: 'Say Anything' and Pop Culture's Obsession With Closure, The Genius of 'Gone Girl's' Nude Scenes and More

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

1. Why the Nude Scenes in Gone Girl are Genius. “Ben Affleck’s penis shows up!” That was the rallying cry when it came to “Gone Girl” nudity upon its premiere. But the nudity in “Gone Girl” has nothing to do with titillation, according to Decider’s Meghan O’Keefe.

People should be buzzing about Ben Affleck’s penis in “Gone Girl.” We should be discussing Emily Ratajkowski’s perfectly pert breasts. But we shouldn’t be talking about these images like they are high-brow pornography. Fincher doesn’t care about that. Fincher cares about how we use sex as power. He’s interested in the ways that we hide ourselves in plain sight. He’s interested in how our bodies reveal what’s actually happening inside our heads. Read more.

2. We Wanted Season 3 of “Twin Peaks”…Years Ago. When news broke yesterday that “Twin Peaks” would return to television on a limited basis, fans of the show were understandably excited. But there was a healthy dose of trepidation about the series’ return, with many believing that if there was ever a time for a third season of the show, it was in 1992. Ian Crouch of The New Yorker writes about why the show’s return could only be a diminishment.

The impending return of “Twin Peaks” reminded me of something I ask fellow fans of the sitcom “Seinfeld.” How much would you pay, personally, to gain access to an episode from, say, 1995, that you had somehow never seen? George at the Yankees, Jerry with big hair, Elaine with bigger hair, Kramer when you could still love him—an episode that had been somehow misplaced at the network, and that would give you thirty new minutes of the show in its prime? I’d pay fifty bucks. This is not the same thing as wanting the show to come back today with all-new episodes. Read more.

3. “Say Anything” and Pop Culture’s Closure Obsession. Speaking of reboots, this is the one that’s worth getting angry over. The new “Say Anything” TV spinoff would be set ten years after the end of the film and see Lloyd Dobler’s life in shambles, trying to win back Diane Court’s heart. This would go against the film’s hopeful but ambiguous ending, and Jason Bailey of Flavorwire argues that it’s part of modern pop culture’s problem with any sort of ambiguity.

A couple of months back, Vox gathered considerable attention for a piece headlined “Did Tony die at the end of “The Sopranos?”: David Chase finally answers the question he wants fans to stop asking.” The answer, Vox insisted, was “no.” Or maybe not; within hours of the Vox article’s publication, Chase backed off: “There is a much larger context for that statement and as such, it is not true. As David Chase has said numerous times on the record, ‘Whether Tony Soprano is alive or dead is not the point.’ To continue to search for this answer is fruitless. The final scene of “The Sopranos” raises a spiritual question that has no right or wrong answer.” Read more.

4. A Movie That’s Smarter About Nuclear War Than “Dr. Strangelove.” Stanley Kubrick’s brilliant satire is inarguably one of the most influential comedies of all time, but it’s not necessarily the most likely nuclear holocaust scenario on film. That honor belongs to “Fail-Safe,” the Sidney Lumet drama that Kubrick pushed to have shelved until “Dr. Strangelove” left theaters. Slate’s Ari N. Schulman argues on behalf for Lumet’s overlooked film.

“Fail-Safe” is often misread as “Frankenstein” or “Jurassic Park”: the familiar whine about science’s unintended consequences and technology gone mad. But the crisis’s real cause is the logic of the nuclear system at every level—its institutions, structures, procedures, and rationales. This isn’t a movie about why we should fear machines or the people who control them. It’s about how managerial systems can bring about just the things they’re designed to avert. Read more.

5. When is Advertising In Movies OK? Product placement can be actively irritating when done poorly or blatantly (see: the filmography of Michael Bay), but is there a point where being bothered by any use of product placement in a film hinders a viewer’s enjoyment. Tasha Robinson and Genevieve Koski of The Dissolve talked about the use of product placement in “Gone Girl,” with Robinson noting that it took her out of the movie while Koski argued that the products were used the way they’d be used in everyday life.

Robinson:  The “Transformers” movies are so loud, shrill, and sloppy that their big branding deals with various car companies don’t even register on my tackiness scale…Whereas with something like “Gone Girl,” which is so obviously more of a prestige movie, with a more low-key affect and serious tone—yes, I do think less of it because of the integrated ads. “Gone Girl” is openly mocking consumerism and money-worship, with its plot focus on credit-card debt, a shed full of expensive electronics, and a storyline set off in part by the money woes of people who thought they’d always be rich. But it can’t have it both ways: It’s difficult for a film to get away with pilloring people for being selfish, shallow brand-monkeys while raking in the money for integrating so many brands itself. Read more.

6. Why Critics and Fans Don’t Always Like the Same Things. A recent Reddit AMA with video game designer Ralph Koster pointed out that sometimes critics give more attention to smaller works of art as opposed to the big ones that are selling. While some felt it was a sign of press getting too close ideologically or personally to indie games or movies, Alyssa Rosenberg of the Washington Post argues that it’s because critics have usually seen more and have a lower tolerance for things they’ve seen a million times.

If critics were more sour about the troubled middle-aged white men of “True Detective” and the paper-thin female characters who floated around them like damaged dolls than the viewers who adored and obsessed over the show, it is because we have seen a lot more of them. You all have the luxury of skipping “Boss,” and “Low Winter Sun” and attempts to export the genre back in time, like “Da Vinci’s Demons.” We do not. Read more.

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