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Daily Reads: David Lynch on ‘Eraserhead,’ David Bordwell on ‘Goodbye to Language’ and More

David Lynch on 'Eraserhead,' Women in the TV Industry

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

1. David Lynch Talks “Eraserhead.” After years of rumors, “Eraserhead” is finally making its way to Criterion. Bilge Ebiri of Vulture interviewed eternally strange but endearing director David Lynch about his 1977 cult film. He talks about working on a low budget, the discovery of the film, how he’s changed as a director since, and why no one will ever agree on what the hell the movie is about.

“I like to have people be able to form their own opinion as to what it means and have their own ideas about things. But at the same time, no one, to my knowledge, has ever seen the film the way I see it. The interpretation of what it’s all about has never been my interpretation.” Read more.

2. Women Still Lag Behind Men in Television. With shows like “Orange Is the New Black” and “Girls” on the air, it’s reasonable to assume that things are getting better when it comes to female representation on television, right? Nope. Entertainment Weekly’s Carolyn Todd wrote about a new study that confirmed that things are actually worse now than they were last year.

“The yearly ‘Boxed In”’report, released by the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film at San Diego State University, finds that women only make up 27 percent of the workforce behind the camera—directors, producers, editors, writers, etc. That’s a 3.5 percent decline from last year. Similarly, the proportion of onscreen (speaking) female roles remains stagnant at 42 percent, a one-point decrease from last year.” Read more.

3. A Return to “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre.” Tobe Hooper’s 1974 horror classic “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre” just had a 40th anniversary Blu-Ray release. To celebrate, ScreenCrush’s Jacob Hall visited the locations Hooper and company shot at, and looks at how those places have changed and how it’s shaped our perception of them.

“I think about how American culture is too young to have its own proper mythology and how we’ve appropriated the rest of the world’s monsters as our own. And then I realize that ‘The Texas Chain Saw Massacre’ is American mythology. The events depicted in film didn’t happen. A chainsaw-wielding madman wearing a face made out of flesh did not actually commit a bunch of murders four decades ago. This gas station did not serve human meat. And yet the mere concept of the cannibalistic serial killer lurking in the wilds of Texas is something that we’ve come to accept. It may not exist in real life, but it exists deep in our psyche.” Read more.

4. Love for “Final Destination.” It might sound like a gag, but John Waters loves the “Final Destination” movies. It’s not because he finds it campy, but because he thinks it’s a well-made horror movie that blends the grindhouse with Ingmar Bergman. Movie Morlocks’ R. Emmett Sweeney agrees, and he wrote about his love for the films.

“In the ‘Final Destination’ series the tension of the films arise in the how of the deaths, not in the why.  It rids itself of the lugubrious backstories and motivations of traditional slasher films, and cuts to the chase (or the evisceration, or what have you). The series works because of this pared down simplicity…” Read more.

5. David Bordwell on “Goodbye to Language.” Late-period Jean-Luc Godard films are among the most divisive in the world of cinema. Even with Godard’s new movie “Goodbye to Language” getting positive notices for its innovative use of 3D, many still say that the content is a bunch of long-winded, inscrutable ranting. If there’s anyone who can make a great case for it, though, it’s David Bordwell, who calls “Goodbye to Language” the best new film he’s seen this year.

“‘Adieu au langage’ doesn’t give us a plot even as skimpy as these. Instead, Godard builds his film out of a bold use of ellipsis and a strict patterning of story incidents. The ellipses are exceptionally cryptic. We must, for instance, eventually infer, on slight cues, that a couple has been together for at least four years, and that the man has stabbed the woman. We learn, with almost no emphasis, that both of the women have ties to Africa–hence the footage of street violence and the recurring question of how to understand that continent. These very vague plot elements are arranged in a rigorous pattern. This patterning will seem very schematic in my retelling. But it’s not obvious when you see the film. Godard wraps his film’s grid in digressions, sumptuous imagery, and, of course, striking 3D effects.” Read more.

6. How One Writer Got “Dead Poets Society” Wrong. When Jeffrey Overstreet saw “Dead Poets Society” in 1989, he saw Robin Williams’ character, John Keating, as an irresponsible teacher who went too far in the other direction of the film’s authoritarian schoolteachers and parents. But the retirement of a beloved teacher got him to revisit the film and give it another chance, and, writing for Christianity Today, he wrote of the sagacity and humanity of Professor Keating.

“I was so preoccupied with the boys’ reckless rebellion that I missed the contrast between their sophomoric declarations of independence and their compassionate teacher’s counsel. ‘Sucking all the marrow out of life,’ says Keating with quiet authority, ‘doesn’t mean choking on the bone. Sure, there’s a time for daring . . . and a time for caution. And a wise man understands which is called for.’ In sharp contrast to the boy’s controllers, Mr. Keating models a healthy balance of freedom and responsibility. He descends into that world of order, accepting the form of a servant, and makes all things new. He shows them what the imagination, taking the shape of love, makes possible.” Read more.

7. The ‘Moonlighting’ Curse Is Bull. With the return of “The Mindy Project” and “The New Girl,” it’s safe to say that the “Moonlighting” curse is bunk. NPR’s Linda Holmes took the opportunity to reshare her 2009 article stating that “Moonlighting” didn’t go downhill because Bruce Willis and Cybill Shepherd’s characters got together, but because they were driven apart due to Willis and Shepherd’s other commitments.

“There were a couple of reasons for this: Shepherd was having twins and Willis was making ‘Die Hard,’ but no matter what the reasons, that will kill your show. Eight of the fourteen episodes they made that season, the two leads were not doing scenes together. Chemistry can work if you’re romantically together or if you’re fighting, but not if you’re not interacting in any way.” Read more.


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