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Daily Reads: Chris Rock on the Lack of Roles for Women of Color, Ava DuVernay Makes History and More

Daily Reads: Chris Rock on the Lack of Roles for Women of Color, Ava DuVernay Makes History and More

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

1. Chris Rock on Roles for Women of Color. Chris Rock’s new film “Top Five” features great roles for Rosario Dawson, Gabrielle Union and other women of color, but it’s a low-budget film and largely alone in Hollywood. Writing for The Hollywood Reporter, Rock took Tinseltown to task for its lack of roles for non-white actors.

Or how about “True Detective?” I never heard anyone go, “Is it going to be Amy Adams or Gabrielle Union?” for that show. I didn’t hear one black girl’s name on those lists. Not one. Literally everyone in town was up for that part, unless you were black. And I haven’t read the script, but something tells me if Gabrielle Union were Colin Farrell‘s wife, it wouldn’t change a thing. And there are almost no black women in film. You can go to whole movies and not see one black woman. They’ll throw a black guy a bone. OK, here’s a black guy. But is there a single black woman in “Interstellar?” Or “Gone Girl?” “Birdman?” “The Purge?” “Neighbors?” I’m not sure there are. I don’t remember them. I go to the movies almost every week, and I can go a month and not see a black woman having an actual speaking part in a movie. That’s the truth. Read more.

2. The Warped, Perfect World of “Black Mirror.” The British anthology series “Black Mirror” made its way to Netflix this week, and already it’s drawing critical praise for its mixture of technological paranoia and “The Twilight Zone”-style creepiness. The Boston Globe’s Maura Johnston wrote about how the show depicts a world that’s worse off because it has everything it wants.

Monitoring is constant; memories are monetized; the too-perfect façades are revealed to be uncanny. The lower classes are known as “blanks” because the government doesn’t keep electronic tabs on them; in “The Entire History of You,” one middle-class, yet grainless woman gets hung up on by emergency services when the person on the other end realizes that she’s untrackable, even though she’s describing an in-progress assault. Opting out of the grid means a loss of status — an attitude that eerily echoes some of the rhetoric coming from Silicon Valley’s CEOs and venture-capitalist angels, who see the future in absolutist technological terms. Read more.

3. The Greatest Current Movie Franchise. “Star Wars” and the Marvel Cinematic Universe have the passionate fans and the million (or billion) dollar grosses, but neither are the best film franchises around right now. Matt Singer of ScreenCrush wrote about why Michael Winterbottom’s “The Trip” series eclipses both.

Critics that dismissed “The Trip to Italy” mostly called it a rehash; Coogan and Brydon visiting more restaurants, enjoying more conversations over food, one-upping one another with more funny voices. But those who dwelled over “The Trip to Italy’s” superficial rehashes ignored how much darker and more autobiographical Winterbottom, Coogan, and Brydon got with this sequel, which is one of the saddest comedies I’ve ever seen—one that’s as much about the inevitability of disappointment and death as it is who can do a better Michael Caine. Read more.

4. Edgar Wright vs. the Marvel Cinematic Universe. “Ant-Man” hits theaters next year, but without Edgar Wright, the director who spent the better part of a decade developing it. In an interview with BuzzFeed, Evangeline Lilly, the film’s female lead, talked about how she nearly quit acting, her passion for writing, and why Wright is no longer helming his passion project.

“I saw with my own eyes that Marvel had just pulled the script into their world,” she says. “I mean, they’ve established a universe, and everyone has come to expect a certain aesthetic [and] a certain feel for Marvel films. And what Edgar was creating was much more in the Edgar Wright camp of films. They were very different. And I feel like, if [Marvel] had created Edgar’s incredible vision — which would have been, like, classic comic book — it would have been such a riot to film [and] it would have been so much fun to watch. [But] it wouldn’t have fit in the Marvel Universe. It would have stuck out like a sore thumb, no matter how good it was. It just would have taken you away from this cohesive universe they’re trying to create. And therefore it ruins the suspended disbelief that they’ve built.” Read more.

5. The Singular Life of Lily Tomlin. Comic and actress Lily Tomlin will receive a Kennedy Center Honor on Sunday for her career. Ann Hornaday of The Washington Post spoke with Tomlin about her life.

When you earn as many accolades as Tomlin has, it’s understandable if you lose a few. And now, she can add one more: On Sunday, she’ll receive a Kennedy Center Honor, a little over a decade after being feted with the center’s Mark Twain Prize for American Humor. She couldn’t quite believe she had been selected for the Honors, she says, allowing herself to wonder aloud what her segment will involve. “What I’d like to see is a big stream of gay drag artists come out as Ernestine.” Read more.

6. Ava DuVernay Makes History. Though she won a prize for directing “Middle of Nowhere” at Sundance, Ava DuVernay hasn’t received any blockbuster-level offers. But after a long road of “Selma” losing big-name directors, DuVernay stepped behind the camera for the MLK film and looks to be on her way to be the first African-American woman nominated for Best Director. Manohla Dargis of The New York Times spoke with DuVernay about her journey.

Even before “Selma,” Ms. DuVernay had beaten the terrible odds that women face by making her own movies on her own terms. It has brought her new attention, but, in deciding what’s next, she needs to choose carefully. Women don’t always get second chances if they stumble, and they don’t have a long, rich history of female filmmakers to learn from. “Do I play that game and try to figure out what the next move is?” Ms. DuVernay wondered. “Or can I be like these guys that just do whatever the interesting stuff is?” Read more.

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