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Daily Reads: What ‘Kimmy Schmidt’ Gets Right About Cults, Why Franchises Shouldn’t Fear Rewinding and More

Daily Reads: What 'Kimmy Schmidt' Gets Right About Cults, Why Franchises Shouldn't Fear Rewinding and More

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

1. What “Kimmy Schmidt” Gets Right About Cults. “The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” takes a look at what happens when someone emerges from a cult into the real world. Writing for Vulture, Flor Edwards says it gets a lot right about growing up in a cult:

When you’ve grown up in a cult your whole life (or since your early teens, as in Kimmy’s case), you want nothing more than to be “normal,” although you don’t quite have a grip on what this “normal” is. All you know is that you’re not it. At one point we hear Kimmy explicitly say, “I just wanna be a normal person.” She satisfies this desire by buying herself the coolest pair of tennis shoes that light up, throwing herself at guys trying to kiss them, and engaging in life with an uncharacteristic optimism that no doubt stems from her years in isolation. On my first day of high school, I wanted nothing more than to be normal. I had never bought clothes in my entire life, but I found a shirt I thought was cool. I was kicked out for showing too much cleavage — an offense I did not know was worthy of expulsion. This was just the first instance in an adolescence (and adulthood) full of misunderstanding and confusing miscalculations. Read more.

2. The Making of “Going Clear.” Speaking of cults, Alex Gibney went through quite a hassle trying to make the HBO Scientology documentary “Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief.” He speaks to Business Insider’s Jason Guerrasio about his experiences.

Scientology, however, has built a reputation for not only going after people who try to uncover church happenings but also tormenting members who leave it either by surveillance or harassment. Aware of this, Gibney says he took very cautious steps to ensure the safety of those who spoke in front of his camera. He would never film the former members at their homes, and Gibney would never arrive at meeting places at the same time as his subjects. Gibney’s approach to secrecy came from his talks with Wright, who used similar methods when he interviewed former church members for his book. “I often used throw-away phones and encrypted e-mail,” he said. “People were so frightened.” Read more.

3. Why “Girls” Is Good This Year. “Girls” is still irritating a lot of people, but the show has matured over the past season. The Atlantic’s David Sims writes:

Girls is not a show that shies away from the late-season plot twist. Think of Jessa’s surprise marriage in the first-season finale, Hannah’s flare-up of obsessive-compulsive disorder in season two, or her out-of-nowhere acceptance to the University of Iowa last year. Even by those standards, “Girls‘” fourth-season bombshell [spoiler redacted] is quite the seismic reveal. But what really distinguished this moment is that the show has actually been building up to it slowly with the kind of patience it never mastered until now. Read more.

4. Working with Albert MayslesWriting for Flavorwire, Eric Pfriender talks about what he learned working with the late, great Albert Maysles.

What followed was roughly two years of invaluable tutelage. I learned about scheduling. About equipment. About responsibility, timing, fundraising, networking… all the things you expect to learn on your first real job, sometimes learning them without realizing you were being taught something. But the most important thing I learned from my time with Al was empathy. Al had a natural warmth about him, and an incredibly heightened sense of empathy. He had an instinct for framing shots developed over a lifetime of shooting, and an unparalleled skill for telling a story with the camera within a shot, but I think the thing that most set him and his work apart was his ability to understand and genuinely care for people, whether it was his subjects or his collaborators. Read more.

5. Franchises Shouldn’t Fear Rewinding. There were conflicting reports about whether or not Neill Blomkamp’s “Alien” sequel would retcon “Alien 3” and “Alien Resurrection.” Chris Klimek of The Dissolve writes that this isn’t a bad idea.

Bryan Singer has rewound the tape twice. His weirdly mournful 2006 movie “Superman Returns” was a sequel to the first two “Superman” pictures made concurrently by Richard Donner almost 30 years earlier. (Donner was fired and “Superman II” was finished by Richard Lester. The inevitable “Donner Cut” surfaced 26 years later.) Singer’s sequel ignored the unloved “Superman III,” wherein Warner Bros. decided that what was then the movies’ only superhero franchise really ought to be a Richard Pryor vehicle. It also disregarded “Superman IV: The Quest For Peace,” the “Alien Resurrection” of “Superman” movies. Read more.

6. The Greatness of Eva GreenEva Green has become one of the most fascinating presences in movies today, even in terrible movies. Anne Billson of The Telegraph writes about why we’ve all fallen for her.

In Gregg Araki’s “White Bird in a Blizzard,” her character is absent for much of the film, but she’s too strong a presence not to haunt it. And in the Anglo-Danish-Spanish “The Salvation,” she is reunited with her “Casino Royale” co-star Mads Mikkelsen. Her role as a mute deprives the actress of one of her greatest weapons – that husky voice, with its preternaturally precise English accent. But her supremely eloquent eyes do the talking for her, and she makes even a disfiguring facial scar look cool. Read more.

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