1. Rating Oscar-Baiting Make-up. “Foxcatcher” is just the latest film that forces its actors into visage-distorting make-up in order to make them look more like the people they’re based on. Slate’s Aisha Harris took this as an opportunity to look at other cases of Oscar-baiting make-up and evaluate when it was necessary, when it wasn’t, and whether or not it was successful.
2. “Interstellar” the Most Nolan-y Nolan Movie Yet. Christopher Nolan’s “Interstellar” is his longest movie to date at just shy of three hours, as well as his most ambitious. It’s also, according to Nick Schager of Esquire, his most Nolan-y, to the point where fans and non-fans could probably have a laugh at how closely it plays to both his strengths and weaknesses.
Even in his finest work, Nolan’s characters have a habit of articulating their stories’ themes in the bluntest and most repetitive terms, be it “Batman Begins'” endless use of the word “fear,” or “Inception’s” protagonists incessantly explaining the rules of their dream-robbery games, and then explaining why those rules can be broken. That convention is somewhat mitigated in “Interstellar,” though Nolan still finds himself attracted to dialogue that lays out his material’s Big Ideas in bold and underline. That’s most true of paternalistic professor Brand (Michael Caine), whose repeated recitation of Welsh poet Dylan Thomas’s “Do not go gentle into that good night” is first inspiring, then an increasingly bludgeoning expression of faith in humanity’s resolve. Even when his images speak volumes, Nolan is awkwardly telling as much as showing. Read more.
3. Wonderful Women of Sci-Fi. Sight and Sound is working on a list of the greatest sci-fi characters of all time, and they’ve given a preview featuring 10 of the greatest female characters in the history of the genre, from Maria in “Metropolis” to Dana Scully in “The X-Files.”
In Ridley Scott’s 1979 film “Alien,” Ripley is part of the work-weary crew of the Nostromo, a commercial freighter on its way to Earth. She wisely refuses to let some of the crew back on board after they make contact with an alien vessel, for fear of contamination, but her orders are undermined. Her instincts turn out to be well-grounded and she soon becomes the only human survivor of an alien outbreak on the ship. Ripley’s appeal is her determination and no-nonsense bravery. She’s no damsel-in-distress, she’s capable and fearless: just hand her a flamethrower and a radar and she’s good to go. Read more.
4. “The Comeback” as Cringey as Ever. HBO’s “The Comeback” returns this Saturday, and Slate’s Willa Paskin says the show isn’t as disgusted with reality television as it once was. That said, it’s still got plenty to say about how monstrous the drive for fame is, and it’s as cringe-inducing as ever.
5. “Toy Story 4” Is a Love Story. News broke late yesterday: there’s going to be a fourth “Toy Story.” Some are cautiously optimistic, given how well the first two “Toy Story” sequels turned out. Most everyone else lost their minds, suggesting that it could potentially spoil the greatness of the previous installments. Whatever the case, it’s coming, and Rebecca Keegan of The Los Angeles Times spoke to John Lasseter (who’s returning to the director’s chair) about the film, which is apparently a love story.
“A lot of people in the industry view us doing sequels as being for the business of it, but for us it’s pure passion,” said Lasseter, who directed the first two “Toy Story” films. “We only make sequels when we have a story that’s as good as or better than the original. We don’t just, because of the success of a film, automatically say we’re going to do a sequel and then figure out what we’re going to do.” Read more.