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Daily Reads: The Steamiest Sex is on TV, The Radical Queerness of Kate McKinnon’s Justin Bieber and More

Daily Reads: The Steamiest Sex is on TV, The Radical Queerness of Kate McKinnon's Justin Bieber and More

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

1. Why TV Has the Steamiest Sex. There’s a lot of literal huffing and puffing in “Fifty Shades of Grey” in the name of sex, but it can’t hold a candle to TV’s sex scenes. Quartz’s Jason Lynch wrote about TV’s steamiest scenes.

Like “Fifty Shades,” “Outlander” is also adapted from a popular book series (in this case, the romance/historical fiction novels from Diana Gabaldon). An entire episode last September was devoted to a just-married Claire Randall and Jamie Fraser consummating their relationship, over three increasingly intimate sexual encounters. “It depicted physical and emotional intimacy developing in real time, and it was dead sexy,” wrote The Huffington Post’s television critic Mo RyanRead more.

2. The Worst Cliche in Modern Hollywood. “Avengers: Age of Ultron’s” trailer featured a downbeat/tedious cover of “I Got No Strings” from “Pinocchio,” and it’s not the only case of this. Matt Singer of ScreenCrush wrote about recent movie trailers with sad (read: usually terrible) versions of popular songs:

“Dracula Untold”
Featuring “Everybody Wants to Rule the World”
Performed by Lorde
Originally by Tears For Fears

If a sad cover trailer isn’t ironic, it’s usually incredibly, laughably literal. In this Dracula origin story, the words from Tears For Fears’ ’80s classic comment on the scene where Luke Evans’ Prince of Darkness receives his incredible power. “Welcome to your life,” Lorde sings while he makes a deal for immortality. “There’s no turning back.” Oh I get it, because there’s no turning back when he drinks the vampire blood. Right. Read more.

3. “Jane the Virgin’s” Unconventional Love Story. There’s a great love story at the center of “Jane the Virgin,” but it’s not a romantic one. Libby Hill of The A.V. Club wrote about the show’s portrait of unconditional love among three women.

But from the show’s earliest episodes, even while titular Jane was embroiled in an epic love triangle between her fiancé and the father of her misbegotten unborn child (it’s complicated), the love exhibited between Jane and any of her suitors always seemed to be outdone by the love she felt for her and her mother and grandmother. Certainly a segment of the audience remains deeply invested in Jane’s romantic exploits, but the show’s smartest trick is that there’s really no chance any man Jane dates will ever hold a candle to the relationship she has with the two women in her life. Read more.

4. To Look for America in “The Graduate.” The ending of “The Graduate” is one of the most uncertain, downbeat finales in the history of American film. David Cairns looked at the final moments frame by frame to analyze how the uncertainty of actors Dustin Hoffman and Katharine Ross bled over to their characters.

Total introspection descends upon our leads. They feel like a pair of amoebas under a microscope. They have played the scene. They have smiled. They have not smiled. What else can they do? They’re only human. They withdraw inside their heads, close their eyes and pull up the drawbridges. A dim hope: Katherine wonders what Dustin is doing. Maybe he has a brilliant method actor type plan to get them out of this thing alive. She looks over to see what solutions are offered by the Hoffman face. But Dustin is staring vacantly into the middle distance (somewhere near the end of his nose). There are no answers here. Read more.

5. The Weird Career of David O. RussellAfter the disastrous production of “Nailed,” David O. Russell became a fundamentally different filmmaker. Steven Hyden of Grantland wrote about the two Russells.

If there’s a hole in the theory, it’s in the shape of “Three Kings.” It’s the “First” Russell movie that’s most like a “Second” Russell movie. “Three Kings” has big stars, a good soundtrack, and a hopeful ending. The action scenes are thoughtful — he accounts for the damage done by every bullet — but Russell is also getting off on all the heavy weaponry. When George Clooney, Wahlberg, Ice Cube, and Spike Jonze rob the Iraqis of their gold stockpile, Russell imagines the Beach Boys as the second coming of Wagner. In retrospect, “Three Kings” feels like a movie that could’ve easily been followed by a picture like “The Fighter” had fate not pointed Russell on a decade long detour. On the other hand, “Three Kings” is still adequately thorny to qualify as First Russell, and not just because it was haunted by poisonous gossip about Russell physically tussling on the set with Clooney. Read more.

6. The Radical Queerness of Kate McKinnon’s Justin Bieber. Kate McKinnon’s Justin Bieber impression isn’t just hilarious, it’s one of the most radical queer images on TV right now. The Atlantic’s Shauna Miller explains:

Sure, it’s played for comedy. But her impression of Biebs is very convincing, even seductive—more so than I could ever find Real Bieber. Even as I’m howling with laughter, I’m blushing, because I’m witnessing something familiar and very queer. Who among the lesbian tribe hasn’t spent endless evenings at drag king shows, watching our friends lip sync Justin Timberlake songs while rocking meticulously placed sideburns and an over-enhanced package? Drag kinging is half sexy, half over-the-top reclaiming of female masculinity—and quintessentially queer. Read more.

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