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Daily Reads: Why You Should See ‘The Interview’, Aaron Sorkin’s Woman Problem and the Sony Hack and More

Daily Reads: Why You Should See 'The Interview', Aaron Sorkin's Woman Problem and the Sony Hack and More

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

1. Why You Should See “The Interview.” Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg’s new comedy “The Interview” has become an unlikely candidate for the year’s most controversial film, with the “Guardians of Peace” threatening to attack theaters screening the film. The Week’s Scott Meslow isn’t all that excited about the film, but he argues that this is why people should see it.

I don’t want to get overly preachy about a goofy, gory Rogen/Franco joint (and, by all accounts, a mediocre one). But this isn’t something to be taken lightly, either. We’re dealing with intimidation that’s virtually unprecedented in this industry, and the way we choose to respond is important, because any response to terrorism sets a precedent that other would-be terrorists will follow. Read more.

2. The Year in Superhero TV. Superhero movies are now the most popular entertainment on the big screen, but TV superheroes thrive when they aim for a niche market. HitFix’s Alan Sepinwall wrote that this year’s comic book television benefited from not trying to be everything to everyone.

Not that any of its lost viewers have returned to notice, but “SHIELD” has turned from a bland procedural with vague superhero trappings into an entertaining and confident serial. It’s finally taken advantage of its lower profile by having fun with some of the less in-demand characters and concepts from the vast Marvel Universe, whether with a convincing take on the Absorbing Man or Adrianne Palicki instantly taking over the show as Avengers C-lister Mockingbird. This used to simultaneously feel like a show mainly interested in brand extension (Here’s what happened to that thing that fell to Earth at the end of “Thor: The Dark World”!) and like one ashamed of its own comic book origins; now it’s gotten much better by concentrating on its own characters and stories, while celebrating whatever toys are available to it. Read more.

3. The Year’s Most Underrated Films. With all of the lists and polls of the year’s best films, a few really stellar movies are getting left out. Jason Bailey of Flavorwire picked the year’s 10 most underrated films.

The final leading performance from the great Philip Seymour Hoffman is adapted, by director Anton Corbijn, from the work of John le Carré — and like “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” a couple of years back, it resists the urge to dial up the fireworks, while simultaneously trusting its audience to follow a plot a good deal more sophisticated than the blockbuster norm. And it pays off again, resulting in a picture of uncommon richness and intrigue, while providing Hoffman one more opportunity to play one of his specialties: the prickly yet effective genius. Read more.

4. Success Failed at the Movies in 2014. “Frank,” “Listen Up Philip” and “Whiplash” all show their protagonists achieving their artistic goals at some point in the film, but at an incredible price. Charles Bramesco of The Dissolve argued that success failed at the movies this year.

By the time the credits roll, it looks like Philip is poised for an illustrious, lengthy career, but he’s systematically eradicated all traces of warmth from his life. More chilling still, he seems to have no problem with that. The use of Neil Young’s “Old Man” on the soundtrack only feels heavy-handed because it fits so perfectly. For Philip, jettisoning every last bit of warmth from his life in exchange for an increased profile doesn’t feel like sacrifice at all. When he’s that willing to disengage, it’s just spring cleaning. Read more.

5. Goodbye to Stephen Colbert. After nine years on the air, “The Colbert Report” ends Thursday night. To commemorate its run, Vulture asked 49 celebrities to wish farewell to Stephen Colbert, or rather, “Stephen Colbert.” Here’s Dan Savage:

I don’t remember when I was on the show for the first time — pot is legal here in Washington State — but it was after Stephen Colbert’s historic appearance/performance/exorcism at the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner. It was a breathtaking, ballsy performance, the room was hostile, the president was clueless, and Stephen didn’t break a sweat. If I may use a cliché: He spoke truth to power, and he was hilarious and impolite and scalding and charming, and those of us watching at home — those of us deep in despair after six years of George W. Bush — were cheering. Read more.

6. Aaron Sorkin’s Woman Problem and the Sony Hack. Aaron Sorkin likes to pontificate, and in the latest leaked Sony email he pontificated about how women are given worse roles than men in the movies. He’s not wrong, but Robbie Collin of The Telegraph believes (correctly) that he’s part of the problem.

Sorkin is right to point out that we’re routinely less impressed by the work of actresses than actors, but he reaches the conclusion via two enormous mistakes. The first is that the most admirable thing about any given performance in a film is its “difficulty”…Perhaps because of lingering suspicions that the life of a film actor is an easy one, it’s delicious to audiences when performers have to suffer for a role, either physically or mentally, or ideally both…Sorkin’s other mistake is not following his argument through to its logical conclusion. Elsewhere in his email he mentions the relative lack of “Bridesmaids-quality scripts” in the industry: the raw material, in other words, is lacking. As a multi-award-winning screenwriter, you’d think Sorkin might be in a position to do something about this rather than simply complaining about it. Read more.

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