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Daily Reads: ‘Mulholland Dr.’ as a Great Horror Film, ‘Black-ish’ and Spanking and More

Daily Reads: 'Mulholland Dr.' as a Great Horror Film, 'Black-ish' and Spanking and More

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

1. ‘Mulholland Dr.’ as a Great Horror Film. Last year, Bilge Ebiri and David Edelstein of Vulture ruffled some feathers when they selected David Lynch’s “Mulholland Dr.” as the best horror movie of the past 25 years, as some argued that the film wasn’t a proper horror film at all. This year, Ebiri writes about why the film absolutely belongs.

The film’s story starts off as one thing, and is then totally corrupted and becomes something else — or rather, it becomes many different things. Narrative logic departs and the subconscious, the fantastical, the horrific starts to take over. In many ways, that’s what makes “Mulholland Dr.” so tantalizing to look at in terms of genre: At times it seems to be about the very boundary between horror and thriller. Read more.

2. The Brilliant Fake Novels of “Listen Up Philip.” One of the best touches of Alex Ross Perry’s terrific new movie “Listen Up Philip” is its use of fake book covers (a la “The Royal Tenenbaums”) for its Philip Roth-inspired author Ike Zimmerman (Jonathan Pryce) and his protege, Philip (Jason Schwartzman). Slate’s David Haglund asked Perry and designer Teddy Blanks about how they came to being.

The use of the book covers in the movie reminded me visually of Wes Anderson’s movies. Were you thinking of his work? Someone else’s? 

Perry: I guess it’s pretty easy to see his influence here, and he readily admits that the device was something he stole from Truffaut. But mostly it was important to me that Ike just feel real. That we don’t say he is a respected author with a vast body of work but that we actually see it. I think that goes a long way towards selling the idea, to the audience, that this guy has been around for decades. Read more.

3. The Hidden History of “Transparent’s” Opening Credits. One of the many highlights of the new Amazon series “Transparent” is the opening credit sequence, which uses a clip from 1968 documentary “The Queen,” one of the first films about female impersonators. Slate’s Stephen Vider wrote about the history of the obscure documentary and its connections to the show.

Only a year before “The Queen” was made, Johns Hopkins Hospital opened the Gender Identity Clinic, the first university medical program to offer hormone treatments and sex reassignment surgeries. It was big news, with headlines in Time and Newsweek and on the front page of the New York Times. As scholar Susan Stryker puts it in her book Transgender History, the opening of the clinic, along with the founding of similar research and treatment programs across the country, inaugurated “what could be called ‘The Big Science’ period of transgender history.” Read more.

4. The Way Movies and Video Games Use Gun Silencers Is Bullshit. It’s common for a movie or video game to use a gun silencer as an easy way to totally cancel out all sound from a gun, making the user far deadlier. Turns out that that isn’t how it works, and Rob Dean of The A.V. Club reports on how YouTube user RagnarRox disproves it.

It’s important to note that RagnarRox isn’t saying that these games are invalid because of its mishandling of suppressors—as if that’s the lone element that belies belief in an otherwise realistic game. He’s simply pointing out that certain elements of entertainments that audiences and gamers have embraced are really just accepted myths that hew closer to plot necessity than the physics of the real world. Read more.

5. “Black-ish,” Race and Spanking. The new series “Black-ish” first gained acclaim for wrestling with racial identity, but last night’s episode dealt with riskier material yet. “Crime and Punishment” covered the use of spanking in child discipline, something that’s become even more controversial following the Adrian Peterson child abuse case, and with the racial-cultural side of the argument.

But that tension isn’t simply about race–it’s about time passing and social mobility and the different boundaries of acceptable parenting in different social and economic classes. It’s not “White folks punish their kids like this, but black folks punish their kids like that!” here. With impressive concision, the episode makes the point that there isn’t one “white” or “black” position on discipline–when it comes to parenting, there are millions of opinions, each certain it’s right (and terrified it’s wrong). Read more.

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