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Daily Reads: The Essential ‘X-Files,’ Who Should Take Over the ‘Fifty Shades’ Sequel and More

Daily Reads: The Essential 'X-Files,' Who Should Take Over the 'Fifty Shades' Sequel and More

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

1. The Essential “X-Files.” The X-Files” is returning, but where’s a non-fan to turn to in order to get hooked? Vanity Fair’s Kumail Nanjiani has you covered:

Season 3, Episode 20 “Jose Chung’s ‘From Outer Space’”: A meta-deconstruction of the show itself. The late, great Charles Nelson Reilly plays a pulpy writer trying to get to the bottom of an alleged alien abduction incident by talking to a group of unreliable narrators. Or was it an alien abduction incident at all? I would tell you about all the wonderful cameos in this episode, but that would ruin half the fun. Or would it ruin any of the fun at all? Read more.

2. Modern Use of 4:3. A number of filmmakers have gone back to the Academy ratio for their latest. Sight & Sound’s Leigh Singer writes about modern use of 4:3.

“Meek’s Cutoff.” t’s tempting to imagine all westerns as panoramic epics of men pitted against rugged nature, when, in fact, many genre greats – “My Darling Clementine ” (1946), “Red River” (1948) – were shot in standard Academy ratio. It’s a strategy smartly followed by filmmaker Kelly Reichardt for her tale of a small wagon train of Oregon settlers led by a braggart wilderness guide who may be getting them increasingly lost or leading them into danger. The 4:3 format puts the audience in a similar position to the increasingly wary travellers: unable to see too far ahead in the restricted landscape, uncertain of what lies beyond their vantage point, with the arid, dusty surroundings encroaching into their space. From an aesthetic perspective there’s also a beautiful contrast between the square frame and the curved outlines of the wagons and the women’s bonnets, so often used to frame actresses’ faces, but here artfully concealing the characters’ intentions and emotions. Read more.

3. Sean Young on the Outside Looking In. Sean Young has had a lot of trouble since her 80s heyday, but she believes (not incorrectly) that things would be different if she were a man. Danny Leigh of The Guardian interviews Young:

On the subject of women in Hollywood, her response is pure Sean Young. “Of course if I were a man I’d have been treated better. Duh.” She goes on: “Why are the dudes that run Hollywood incapable of honouring the women any more? Maybe it’s because all these dudes were not the first choice of the women of their youths […] But they can make it in tinseltown and perpetuate the desperate delusion that they are powerful.” She says she has no real hope of a comeback. “It’s like putting a beautiful racehorse out to pasture before her time and then after 20 years expecting her to be the same horse.” Yet she feels “peaceful” now, “happily avoiding the world’s problems in Astoria with my family and my dog”. Read more.

4. The Many Homages of “It Follows.” “It Follows” has been called a John Carpenter homage, but director David Robert Mitchell pays tribute to other major directors as well. Adam Nayman of The Toronto Film Critics Association writes:

But the most elaborate homage Mitchell pays in “It Follows” is to a much older movie: Jacques Tourneur’s seminal, elegant creep-out “Cat People” (1942)… In “Cat People’s” signature scene, Irena’s rival Alice (Jane Randolph) is taking a swim in an indoor pool and thinks she hears the growling of an approaching predator; for a second, the reflections of the lights on the water seem to create the silhouette of a big cat. The implication is that Irena is on the prowl, but we see nothing; the combination of sound design and an image of heightened vulnerability – Alice is alone, half-clothed, and helpless – generate an eerie chill. Late in “It Follows”, when Jay and her friends lure the creature to an abandoned community center to try to fight it off, the poolside setting directly evokes “Cat People,” with an added shiver of recognition in the fact that to her friends, their target is invisible. Read more.

5. 13 Movies With Blatantly Homophobic Scenes. Get Hard” has been criticized for its homophobia, but it’s hardly the first big Hollywood hit to feature a homophobic scene. HitFix looks at other popular movies with homophobia, including Katie Hasty’s take on this Best Picture-winner.

“Braveheart.” There were quite a few historical inventions in Mel Gibson’s “Braveheart,” like his own character’s origins, and some odd Scottish battle traditions. But one creative add-on worth noting is the presentation of Prince Edward II and the defenestration of his lover Phillip. The Prince, historically, is said to possibly have been bisexual, but in this film, his character is constructed as overtly effeminate, cowardly and ineffectual. While his father the King is obviously a paragon of cruelty, the scene in which he casts Phillip out of a window to hurt his son is a violent knock at the homosexual relationship, and was shot in such a sparse manner that it practically played for laughs, insensitive to Edward II’s loss. It played like a scheme to trump up the attraction of Edward II’s wife Isabella to Gibson’s manly William Wallace, as an opposition of caricatures. Read more.

6. Who Should Take Over the “Fifty Shades” Sequel? Sam Taylor-Johnson won’t be back for “Fifty Shades Darker,” but the sequel should be directed by another woman. David Ehrlich of Time Out New York has suggestions of people who are too good for it, but who’d be interesting choices anyway:

Jennifer Kent. Despite the fact that she only has one feature to her name, Jennifer Kent is way too good for the “Fifty Shades Darker” adaptation. Be that as it may, “The Babadook” sure as hell proved that this emerging Australian director knows how to make a good movie about a woman being tormented by a relentless, inexpressive monster who came out of a book. Read more.

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