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Daily Reads: Winners and Losers of the Fall TV Season, ‘The Knick’ Postmortem and More

Daily Reads: Winners and Losers of the Fall TV Season, 'The Knick' Postmortem and More

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

1. “The Knick” Postmortem. The Cinemax series “The Knick” finished the run of its first season Friday, and plenty of writers devoted more time to praising Steven Soderbergh’s direction and the show’s fascinating portrait of early 20th century medicine. But Grantland’s Andy Greenwald sees it as something else: the scariest show on television.

“The Knick” reimagines the body as a villain. It betrays our protagonists at nearly every turn. Lust can lead to impossible pregnancies. Casual contact can lead to contamination. Obsession can lead to madness and death. The enemy doesn’t just resemble us. It is us. Read more.

2. R.I.P. L.M. “Kit” Carson. L.M. “Kit” Carson died Monday after a long illness. Carson was many things: star of Jim McBride’s landmark “David Holzman’s Diary,” co-writer of McBride’s “Breathless” remake and “Paris, Texas,” and mentor to filmmakers like Wes Anderson and Owen Wilson. Matt Zoller Seitz of RogerEbert.com paid tribute to Carson, who he knew for 20 years.

There’s also a strong autobiographical, or perhaps I should say therapeutic, component to the picture: its hero, Kit’s David Holzman, is so obsessed with filmmaking that it clouds his ability to experience life. He sees everything in terms of its potential to serve as “material.” The camera becomes a buffer between the world and his imagination. I don’t think Kit ever succumbed to the tendencies he explores in “David Holzman’s Diary”—he seemed to truly enjoy living in the real world—but the fact that he identified that part of himself, and built a boundary-blurring film around it, gives you a sense of how self-aware and honest he could be. Read more.

3. Should Everyone Be Mad at Sarah Jessica Parker
“Sex and the City” inspired so many of its fans to travel to the West Village and visit Carrie Bradshaw’s (Sarah Jessica Parker) stoop that the residents put up a “Do NOT go on staircase please” sign to avoid being bothered. Parker violated this, however, by placing a line of shoes she’s releasing on the stoop for a series of Instagram photos. This has annoyed some, but Richard Lawson of Vanity Fair argues that maybe Parker has some claim to the stoop as well.

Obviously Ms. Parker should have respected the wishes of the sign, and all that the sign implies, but maybe she feels some ownership over those stairs too, and isn’t she at least a little bit entitled to that? We don’t hold the deed to the Brooklyn Bridge, and yet it’s ours. Our favorite table at our favorite corner bar is not something we own, and yet . . . isn’t it, in a way? The real meat of Sarah Jessica Parker’s life began on that stoop, and if I were her, I’d have a hard time staying away from it, being told that I cannot experience it anymore. Of course, she could have asked for permission. That might have straightened this whole thing out before there was even an issue. But, sometimes it’s better to ask for forgiveness than permission, isn’t it? Read more.

4. The Sublime Decay of Bill Morrison. Director Bill Morrison has a gift for working with archival, even decaying, footage and turning it into something remarkable. Icarus Films has collected Morrison’s works from 1996 to 2013 and put it on a five-disc set, “BIll Morrison: Collected Works.” Glenn Kenny of RogerEbert.com writes a perfect introduction to the experimental filmmaker’s work.

Morrison’s most famous film is the 2002 feature “Decasia,” in which he assembles decaying footage from a variety of films to construct an abstract narrative about mortality in all of its manifestations. Its staggering, poignant images are matched by an orchestral score—a symphony, in fact, by contemporary composer Michael Gordon. It’s a movie of unrelenting sensation; my favorite sequence shows a sea seen from a ship’s prow, the black-and-white image undulating with a mix of overexposure and literal cracking-apart, while Gordon’s strings slide down a scale at queasy intervals, creating an effect that’s both hypnotic and almost sea-sickness inducing. Read more.

5. Winners and Losers of the Fall TV Season. We’re one month into the fall TV season, and certain trends have started to emerge. Eric Deggans writes about the winners and losers of the season, and why Fox is in trouble.

The network’s grand new experiment in reality TV, “Utopia,” was supposed to spend a year documenting a group of people building a new society. Instead, its low ratings have forced a move to Fridays and prompted rumors that it may be the first new show this fall to get canceled. Widely admired standup comic and “Saturday Night Live” writer John Mulaney saw his sitcom “Mulaney” debut to a torrent of harsh reviews and some of the worst new ratings of the season. And shows such as the hospital drama “Red Band Society” and the “Broadchurch” remake “Gracepoin”t have also struggled for viewership. Only the Batman-centered drama “Gotham” has found its footing so far, earning good reviews, strong ratings and a full season pickup. Read more.

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